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Entries by Becca Ruiz (202)


Little Things: Shower Crayons


Has this ever happened to you: In the middle of shampooing your hair, you have the greatest idea you've ever had, quickly you try to finish your shower, get soap in your eyes, scramble for the towel, finally get some paper and a writing utensil and are ready to write - but, what was that again? Suddenly you drop to your knees, screaming, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" to the heavens as your brilliant idea drifts lazily to the atmosphere and dissipates into nothing.


Me too.


Until the other day, in the shower I realized:



So that's what I did. They're in the baby bath section of Target, in case you're wondering. We spent 10 minutes trying to track them down. (I don't ask for directions when driving nor when shopping unless I'm at a home improvement store.)


Next, we needed a place to store them. The bathroom is still a thought in progress, so I didn't want to buy anything in case it became useless in a month or so. Instead, I grabbed a snack sized Pringles cup, a couple of shower hooks, my screwdriver, some twine, and -





Leave notes to your love, reminders of chores, inspired thoughts, whatever you want. A picture of a bear.


After I put this together, neither of us needed it. I feared I had ruined inspired showers forever - then last Sunday, Raulie was inspired... And today, I used it to write out a few quick thoughts.


Best shower idea ever.





The Winter Doldrums

Ah March - the time of winter where even children bore of snow banks! So what to do with those children to keep them from driving you up the wall? Try a scavanger hunt!

When I worked with my sister at her daycare, most of her children attended a year round school - which meant that for 3 weeks in late March to early April, we had bored children 5 days a week. Being outside was never a guarantee, and certain indoor getaways started to dull, which is when we hit upon our best idea ever - Mall Scavanger Hunts! At first, the children competed against each other or in teams. Then, somehow, it became: The Children vs. Ms. Becca and her List - which was also very fun. (This is also a great activity for those too-hot-to-handle summer days as well.)

For those who don't want to venture out, try an In-Home Scavanger Hunt. Give children the first clue, which will lead them to each subsequent clue. If you want to be super sneaky and mean, plant dead-end clues as well for any wrong turns taken during the game. Make sure to have a fun prize or activity at the end of the game to reward any mischievousness you planted along the way and for any confusion/frustration they may have had as well.

Here is my Mall Scavanger Hunt. It's specifically designed for Mall of America, so some items might not apply, but they might give you a good idea for a new one.

- Look at the names of the stores in your mall: are there any unique names or fun names that you can ask a cryptic question about? (Like "An Apple With A Bite Taken Out" is for the Apple Store, conversely you could say "This Store Must Have A Lot of Views" for a Windows store. Be fun and creative, but also think of your children and their puzzling ability)

- If this is a place you frequent often, think of any fun stories/trivia to include. "The restaurant where Little Jimmy lost his first tooth."

- We made a point system: Tally up how many points are possible total and subtract 10%, that's your top level, now set your other levels and select appropriate prizes. Once, the big prize was to buy a new LEGO set for the daycare, another time they earned one of those huge chocolate chip cookies for snack.

Why aren't there any clues for hunting in stores?

I used to work retail, and what's worse than a gaggle of teenagers camping out in a store playing music and gossiping? A bunch of giddy scavanger hunters who burst into a store, need help, possibly disturb other customers and then leave. Besides the disruption to customers, and no sale for the store, it also might leave the store open to theft if it's a busy night and the store is understaffed. That is why my hunt never enters a store.

If you want to include stores in your hunt, here are some suggestions:

- Beforehand, price out a small item (preferably near the front of the store) that could be purchased, and give each team a small stipend that would cover the total amount. (something blue from the dollar spot, something chewy, try to blow the biggest bubble, how long can you drink an icee before you get a brainfreeze?, etc. - easily kept between $5-$10 per team)

- Check with the store if planting a clue would be okay with them. This is a long shot, but if they're in on it, they might also enjoy toying, I mean helping, the teams.

- Don't make teams have to go in the back of the store to find something. Keep it towards the front. Better yet if it's on display.

- Recruit other parents or responsible teens to help with the hunt and make sure each team isn't causing a ruckus in the mall or store (especially since some malls have curfews), or station someone outside a certain store with a "special assignment" for bonus points where only one team member may complete the instore mission.

Just remember to keep WHO you're making this hunt for in mind. Maybe even set up some extra clues that can be handed out if they're getting stumped. Be creative! Add a theme, make up prizes, set a time limit, try a new mall each weekend - just remember: Spring is almost here.


Chorizo Cheese Dip sans a jar of something... 

Last week I wanted cheese dip, but I don't trust cheese that stands alone on the shelf of the supermarket for months and months - I needed something that I knew what was in it and could read the ingredient list. So after doing some recipe gleaning, here is what I came up with:

*warning: if you don't like spicy food or haven't been heavily eating spicy food for the last month, you might want to take it a bit easier on the heat*

Chorizo Cheese Dip

1 pound homemade loose chorizo (I used this recipe for the spices and mixed it with 1# Ground Beef because that's what was in my fridge, and let it sit overnight)

1/2 - 2/3 cup Sour Cream

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup Diced Tomatoes

1/4 cup Jalapeno Nacho Slices

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Chili Powder

1/2 tsp. Oregano



Brown the chorizo in a frying pan, drain fat if any.

For Stovetop: Heat cheese, yogurt and sour cream over medium heat until starting to blend together. As you cook this, keep stirring occasionally to keep it melting together and the bottom from burning. If you have an immersion blender, add them as is and blend a bit. If not, chop them up and throw in. Add spices, and chorizo. Let meld together for a bit on the stove, then taste for salt, pepper and heat. Add as you feel needed. Personally, I used a dash of salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and probably 1/2 tsp. cayenne for a subtle burn.

For Oven Baking: Brown the chorizo, drain fat. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl (or if you're lazy like me, in the baking dish) and transfer to an 8x8 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Check on it occassionally, I don't trust my oven yet.

Alternate Versions:

- Add salsa instead of diced tomatoes

- Reduce cheddar cheese to 2 cups and add 1/2 cup cream cheese, maybe a little less sour cream too.


We ate it with some homemade "fried" pinto beans, mexican rice and lettuce/tomatoes. I like to make "bite sized tortas" and layer a chip with beans, a little of the dip, and then top it off with lettuce and tomatoes.


Oh, and here's my salsa recipe: 

1/4 - 1/3 cup onion (depends on how you want your breath to be later)

2-3 garlic cloves

3/4 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

2 1/2 t. cumin

1 1/2 t. chili powder

1/8 - 1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Pinch of dill

1/2 - 3/4 c. nacho slice jalapeno peppers

1/3 c. nacho slice jalapeno pepper juice

3/4 c. moderately packed cilantro leaves (almost 3/4 oz.)

1 - 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

rinse the tomato can with a no more than 1 T. spoon water (or if you want a little more spice, use a bit of the jalapeno juice)

Blend, food process, or immersion blend until the consistency you like. Food processor will warrant a chunkier consistency and depending on the machine size, you might need to split it into batches. 

Hope you enjoy and Happy Friday!



To Do... Ta-Da!

I have been telling my husband about this project for a long time and it's cold and snowy, so I did it. Mainly because I think that it makes doing chores much more fun. The same way our laundry chute makes laundry waaaaay more fun. Especially if you yell things as you drop stuff... I mean clothes. And never anything breakable. I promise.

I took a few photos of the project as I went. My materials were all things I had in my "This'll be good for something" stash:

- Locker magnet board which needed a touch-up because I thought it was a dry erase board. It was not.

- Empty mini-Nerds box

- Adhesive magnets

First, I painted the board to give it a nice new look. Then I made a list of all the different regular chores we do around our house. (psst... We bought a house, and it's amazing - there are many projects to be done and document!) Once I had my list, I printed it out on plain paper and plain print. It was boring, so I did it again. Brown cardstock, and a fun font:

Originally, each rectangle would fit perfectly on a magnet, but as you can see I had some lining up issues and needed to add some more.

 Still, in a perfect world, I printed each rectangle out, cut them out, adhered the magnet, and cut them into individual chores.


Next, I printed out my To Do and Ta-Da! on pretty blue paper. I cut out the To Do in a rectangle and put a magnet on it. I then wrapped my Nerds box (sans flaps) with the Ta-Da! positioned on the front. Once again, a bit of a sizing issue but I was on a roll and didn't care. I can redo it later if it starts to bug me. (which it might)


And what about that icky not-a-dry-erase-board?


Way above my expectations. It just worked. Now I just have to put them all together:

To Do:

To DoAs we finish our chores, we move the chore magnet into the Ta-Da box. So when it's all done,



My favorite part is that each piece is easily used in a different way. I can hang it on the fridge, or I can use the little nail to hang it on any wall I want - office, pantry, etc. Also, I can just use the To Do/Ta-Da magnets on the fridge if I want to use my beautiful new magnet board anywhere else. Plus, it didn't take much time at all to assemble and now every time we finish a chore, we can successfully yell out,

"To do? TA-DA!"

Now if only this project were on the To Do board...


Gathering Seasons

I finally mustered up the energy today to switch out my hutches for the season. This is our last season in our apartment, our last 6 weeks. I think we have a place to go to, but nothing is for certain until it's all signed on the dotted line. Anyway, as I walked through the dining room to put away my dishes from lunch, there it sat. All of summer and spring gathered onto our dining room table for the last time. And I quickly ran to capture it.

This week I had three students play the same thing. First idly, just playing a few notes, then putting them together a little more at a time until the piano sang out: "Fi-garo! FIGARO FIGARO FIGAROFIGARoFIGAROFIGA - RO!"

One student, just a fluke. Two? Coincidence. Three students all in 3 days? That felt kind of weird, even a little creepy. How did all these students of different ages and skill levels all think of this same melody the same way?


Happy Autumn!