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Entries by Becca Ruiz (202)


Festival Friday is back!

All right, it's been a few weeks, but I'm back with another Festival Friday. To make up for it, tomorrow I'm starting a countdown to Bonnaroo with a new post each day. But today just a quick check - have you practiced your set-up?

For those who've never been to the farm, the entire set-up process might seem a little crazy. Cars park, people stream out of their cars, shade tents immediately start popping up and tents are staked. There are a few reasons for this mad rush:

- The sooner you're up, the sooner you can sit in the shade/get out of the rain or start exploring. 

- Sometimes space needs to be claimed before the 6 people next to you get their two 8-person tents up.

- The sooner you're up, the sooner you can sit in the shade/get out of the rain or start exploring.

To make this all a smoother process, here are a few tips:

- Try to keep everything you'll need for setup in an easily accessible spot, perhaps on the floor in the backseat. That way after your car is searched, your tent won't disappear into the abyss of your trunk. (Side note: Store bread/hot dog buns in something sturdy so that the car searchers don't have to worry about flattening it)

- Know your footprint. Go out and practice your setup. How much space do you really need? With a 10x10 pop-up shade tent, we'll nestle our tents about 1/3 of the way under to help save space. By knowing how we want our space set up, we can immediately get out of the car, unroll our tents, and then set up our shade tent knowing we have enough space.

- Be kind to your neighbors. We all want space, but you're going to be living next door to these folks for several days. If someone next to you got stuck with the tiniest plot of land with barely enough room for one tent, see if you and your neighbors can help shift over some space.

- Bring duct tape.

- Guylines in the night are the scariest thing at Bonnaroo. Find something to help identify them (unfortunately glow sticks aren't allowed, because those are the easiest solution): bright string, solar powered string lights, a flag, tie something to it, etc. Protect your tent, yourself and the person walking - let them know there is a taught rope about to trip them.

- Test your ideas for posting flags or balloons at home. I'm not complaining about the flags and balloons waving in the wind, I would never find my tent without these. ("Wait, why am I buy the unicorn, I need to find the clownfish!") However, a badly posted flagpole could result in an awkward introduction to your neighbors. ("Hi, I'm the guy with the clownfish. I'm sorry to tell you but it fell and now your hood has a big dent down the middle of it...")

- Did you find your duct tape yet? Good. Grab your rubber mallet and a flashlight too.

Things you could have to be the helpful neighbor: extra stakes, extra plasticware, scissors, small tool kit, jumper cables, cold beer (either as gift or trade for a warm one) and since you're camp will be up in no time - see if anyone needs a rubber mallet too.

All right, make sure to check my other Festival Friday posts to get some tips on what to bring, how to sort out all those conflicts and some favorite bands I've seen. And check back tomorrow as I count it down to getting back to the farm.

Remember - Protect your ears, skin, and hydrate! Happy Friday!



Festival Friday: Survival of the Schedule

There is this beautiful time when the line-up is announced, tickets are purchased and possibilities abound as to how it will all come together.

Then it all crashes when the schedule is finally announced. Suddenly, there are conflicts, there is timing involved, and just when you think you've got it all figured out you realize that you will spend 14 hours a day going from one band to the next. Intense.

Don't worry, it'll be okay. Just take a breath. We'll figure this out.

- Pick out your must-sees. Even if you want to just leave it to chance, double check the list and make sure there isn't a set that you would kick yourself for missing. If you want to be up close and personal for the whole set of your must-see, make time for a bathroom break, replenish your water, and time to find your spot.

- Think about location and time of day. For example, I sunburn very easily, so I try to stay in the sun for short durations between 3:30 and 5:30. It's not easy, I've had to miss some great stuff, but I'd rather be able to enjoy the rest of the festival as a non-lobster. Catch 15 minutes of a band in a very sunny area, then find a shady area to enjoy the rest or go see another band in a shaded area.

- Make sure you give yourself time to rest. Especially if it's a multi-day festival. Don't overdo it on the first or second day and be laid up for the rest of the festival. Take your time. Take care of yourself. Find times in the schedule where you would miss a few bands in order to take a break. See if there are any bands that you would be just as happy to lay on the lawn and listen. Knowing of a few spots where you can rest beforehand might help you be able to stay up really late for that one set you're dying to see, or endure some time up in the front of the mob at a band you absolutely love.

- Be flexible.

- Don't forget to eat. This can get a little tricky, if you're on a budget like us and need to find time to escape back to the campsite. We carry snacks in my bag to help sustain us between meals - have some carbs, have some protein, but don't have anything that melts (including chewy granola bars, candy, yogurt covered granola bars, etc.).

- Print off a schedule and mark it up. Sometimes I use a star rating system, sometimes I just write comments next to the band's name - "!" or "meh." If you don't know a lot of bands, maybe it would help to write what kind of music it is. That way if you're feeling more reggae than rock, you'll know where to go. Also, anything you really don't care about can just be crossed right off.

If all else fails - Just do a 3 song set. 3 songs and you can count is my rule of thumb. Often, I get to hear a song the band is known for, an older song and a newer song. It's almost always a perfect set, and great for catching a bunch of bands stacked on top of each other or an easy way to find new stuff. For bands that don't necessarily have defined songs, 15 minutes is a good equivalent. There have been times that I've stayed for less and there are times I've ended up staying for the entire set.

My summer project for my students is to build their own three song set. 3 songs that they can play anytime and give people a good idea of who they are or where they're at. It is the magic number after all.

I hope that might help any of you feeling stressed looking at those festival line-ups. Just take a breath, make some notes and wing it. Have fun, stay hydrated, and use sunscreen!

Ps. The 3 song set idea might place me at Lady Gaga on a smaller stage at Lollapalooza in 2007. I can't place it, but looking at the schedule, it's very likely. How weird is that?


Yum: Homemade Frozen Burritos

Last weekend we had our annual Cinco De Taco party, and it was fantabulous! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until much later in the evening. The next day, I thought about putting leftovers back into dishes and taking some pictures. Then just draw some stick people in eating tacos and sitting around having a good time. But I didn't want to do dishes twice. So I'll be certain to take pictures this weekend for our housewarming party, and share them all next week.

But today: What to do with those taco leftovers when you still have 2 pounds of beans and can't stand the thought of another bite?


You need:



Refried Beans (or just mashed in my case)

1. Take the tortilla

2. For a challenge, first sprinkle the cheese

3. Spread some beans on without getting the knife messy with cheese

Or just be smart: First Beans, then the cheese. Also, make sure the beans are more like this:

More room at bottom and top, thicker in middle than at the ends.

Okay, now fold in the ends:

Fold over one side

Before you fold over the next side, here's the secret: Smear a bit of beans on the edge of the burrito


Finish by folding over the other side, and pressing down along the edge. The beans will help keep the tortilla together.

Now just stack them up (if you're fancy and prepared, put a piece of waxed paper inbetween each so they don't freeze together) and put them in the freezer. Reheat in the microwave for a minute or two, and enjoy!



Festival Fridays: A little Latin music...

Looking out my window, there is snow and it makes it hard to believe that tomorrow we will be throwing our Cinco de Mayo party. Or that it's spring. Though one cool thing when it snows in May, the ground is sort of mint colored now.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo this weekend, here are some latin bands we saw last year:

Afrocubism at Bonnaroo 2012Afrocubism - A blend of Cuban and Malian musicians, this album is amazing beginning to end. On the Which Stage last year, it was during one of the hottest/sunniest parts of the day and I could only stay for 20 minutes of their set - lest I became a lobster. Their instruments were so interesting and the music was perfect for the weather - definitely melts the snow right off this May.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - a guitar duo, this still has a blend of traditional Latin sound to it.

Pedrito Martinez - He did a late night session last year in a quartet and played a very long set. The music was so amazing - I couldn't take my eyes off the keyboardist, Ariacne Trujillo. She was insane! It was such a fun way to end our evening.


Kinky at River's Edge 2012Kinky - The first of three that are not so much traditional. Be ready to dance for this one because we did last year at River's Edge. It's tough to be the first band on the main stage at a festival, but by the end of their set, a lot of the crowd was dancing.

Mexican Institute of Sound - On the Chipotle Stage the second day of River's Edge, they drew a crowd. A blend of sounds, this will get your party going.

Mariachi El Bronx - From LA and a former punk band, last year they rocked their stage at Bonnaroo in full on Mariachi gear. I thought for sure we had a picture, but I was sadly mistaken. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Need to fill out your playlist a little more? Check out the artists from the movie Calle 54 for a great place to start. Putomayo and "Rough Guide to..." are also great resources for discovering new music with the best liner notes too.

Happy Friday everyone!


Wedding Week: Putting it all together

Well this is a little late but the sun came out and I spent a good amount of time outside the last few days. But it's supposed to snow again, so here I am back in front of the computer. Anyway, wrapping it all up...

We wanted our wedding to be made as much by us and those we know as possible, use items that could be repurposed or last longer than the wedding, and express ourselves. It's really strange that our wedding ended up on Arbor Day, because looking at it now, you would think it had really inspired a lot of what we did, when it really didn't inspire anything until the end. Our main inspiration: spring, books, and fun.

Our invitations and such

Our friend, Zoe, did our invitations and all the graphic items we needed for the wedding. I got the inspiration from a set of tea cups she gave me:

Which gave us this:

Our "Save the Date" is printed on business card stock, and then we stuck it on sticky-backed magnets (ended up with a ton extra - thus more magnet projects to come!). Super easy and fun. The invite (on the left) is put together like a book.

I love the way it turned out, and  special thanks to my sister for helping me cut out, fold, staple and label all the invitations!

Our Flowers

Inspired by Martha Stewart's craft encyclopedia, I wanted to create the bouquets and boutenieres. There were a lot of crafting days before the wedding, and I'm still very grateful to everyone who helped out.

"I'm making you flowers that would never exist in nature!" declared one of my friends as we cut, wrapped, fluffed and taped paper flowers just days before the wedding. Messy, but fun.

The boutenieres were made by Zoe and my then-future-sister-in-law. I gave them the beaded flower instructions, and turned them loose! Turned out it was much more time consuming than I thought it would be so they went supply shopping and came up with a really fun pin in the end. (bottom left in the picture)

The Wedding

We got married in a cave. There were lots of bats and spiderwebs... Not really, it's actually an old mushroom storage place became speakeasy became wedding and swing night place. It was such an affordable unique space. Plus, it's where Raulie's grandparents got engaged (we had no idea about that until we had booked the site).

Raulie and I personally chose or wrote our vows. I based mine off a book by Berkeley Breathed, Pete & Pickles, because it reminds me of us. My dad was our officiant, and even though it took a lot of procrastination to get him to do it, he was my first and only choice. Our ceremony was non-traditional traditional, using all the essential parts but without all the property/boy-girl stuff. Both parents were escorts for walking us down the aisle. Our bible passages were also off-the-beaten path, we used John 15:9-12 and 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8 (which my dad helped us find to tie into the spring/tree/Arbor Day idea).

Also, Record the ceremony, trust me. We didn't, I wish we had.


Dinner was provided by Kane's Catering, who are very friendly and wonderful to work with. We had an array of cupcakes from Cupcake in Minneapolis, plus a candy bar, for dessert. (Yay post-Easter clearances!) Our centerpiece: wine bottles displayed the table numbers and vases of saplings bookended books, surrounded by votives my sister made wrapped in vellum printed with our design, names and the date. Each table was unique and different displaying one of my favorite wine bottles. The vases were culled together from my cupboard and Goodwill.

The trees and books were wedding favors and anyone was welcome to them. The saplings were Red Pines and Thunderchild Crabapples.

We sat all of the families with younger children together at tables in little alcoves along the main area. At each of their tables was a basket with small toys, paper, coloring books, and crayons to keep children occupied for the evening. It's really simple to put together, and we had many parents thank us for it. 

Four years on...

We still get updates from people who took trees home from the wedding about how they're doing. My parents' friends took home two and named them after us. Now I just need to steal one back to put in our yard...

I use the bouquets to decorate every spring. Raulie's bouteniere is pinned to my jewelry display. They always make me smile. 

The backdrop from the ceremony that I alluded to last week became a patchworked duvet cover.

My dress still waits to be redesigned and worn again. Soon, I tell it.

And every month, Raulie and I toast on the 24th with a glass of the same brand of wine as we had at our wedding. We haven't missed one yet in 4 years.

So a little late, but there it is. I suppose my biggest piece of advice if you're planning your own wedding: Make it yours. Be gracious to everyone who helps you. Try to talk a little to everyone who comes. It will not be perfect, no matter how hard you try. Just accept that now. Enjoy the day and try to stay in the moment because it's going to fly by.