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‘Rambler Ramblings’ Category

  1. Confessions Of A Mostly Vegan

    July 12, 2015 by admin

    80841_asparagus_mdQuite a few months ago TRMom decided to embrace a switch from vegetarian to vegan.  The decision was 20% political and 80% dietary.  The main push was that TRMom just wasn’t feeling well and wanted to try and figure out why.

    And it worked!  We finally discovered after years of exploration that TRMom can’t digest carrageenan.  (If anyone else suffers from a similar fate, please share as TRMom feels rather isolated.)  Many new and delicious vegan foods were uncovered, and many new recipes tested out.  And the dedication to vegan eating helped her drop a few pesky pounds while feeling better overall.

    But TRMom isn’t 100% happy being a vegan.  It is restrictive in a way that is hard to currently balance.  And life is too short to suffer through something entirely under your own control.  TRMom has decided to be a “mostly-vegan.”

    And not to feel bad about it.

    This means that she won’t actively avoid dairy products or eggs. If there is a veggie burger on a menu, that is good enough for TRMom.  There won’t be a five minute ask and response with the server on whether or not the veggie burger has cheese or eggs in the recipe.

    And if TRMom feels like ordering a slice of pizza, then bring it on.  But there won’t be any compromises with vegetarianism.  The choice she made to not eat meat has been holding over three decades long and is a true part of what defines TRMom.

    No matter what your dietary choices from Vegan to Kosher to Meat lover, it should make you happy. As with most things in life, moderation can be the key to successful change and happiness. TRMom looks forward to maintaining a lot of her vegan ways- just not exclusively. And that is the right thing for her at this point.



  2. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?

  3. Tired

    March 23, 2015 by admin

    sleep_18991_mdLet’s talk about exhaustion.

    Not the kind that occurs when you’ve gotten into a book and just couldn’t put it down, so you only got 5 hours of sleep before heading off to work.  Not even the kind that happens when your kid was sick all weekend and you’ve barely managed 4 hours of solid sleep before Monday makes an appearance.

    Instead, we’re discussing the sort of exhaustion that builds up over time.  This bone tiredness is an accumulation of years of parenting.  It began when that lovely little infant first made her/his appearance and magnified steadily over the years.  Even if you were lucky enough to get a full night’s sleep (more than 7 hours) here or there throughout your parenting life, it did not manage to push away the overpowering exhaustion.  Trying to rest up is like digging in sand.  And no one really seems to talk about this epidemic very much.  We feel as if we haven’t slept in 17 years and we know we can’t possibly be struggling alone!

    We beseech well rested parents to tell us their sleep secrets.  Do we really just continue to hold on by our fingernails until our kids leave home?  Are you taking vacations without your kids in tow?  If you feel rested, refreshed, and energized – how are you achieving this feat?  And if you are as tired as we are now, know that you are not alone.

    We have lived with under eye circles for so long now that we can’t remember what we looked like without the deep blue rings.  We have distant glorious memories of drowsy morning sex and then falling back to sleep for a few hours.  We think we remember naps.  And we’re pretty sure that we’ve slept passed 7am at some point in our lives.

    We love our kids but we’re damn tired of being tired.

  4. Mud, Mud, Mud

    March 11, 2015 by admin


    As Spring teases about its imminent arrival, we are reminded of some of our favorite “get ready!” posts and some “welcoming this new season” tips:

    • Spring cleaning! The want to open all the windows and clean everything strikes quickly. Don’t forget about that often neglected washing machine.
    • Tune up your bicycles. A season tucked away in your garage or chained up outside always leaves a bike needing some tlc. Check the tires and chains. Adjust the seat and handlebars for your growing kiddos. Make sure those helmets still fit properly!
    •  Mud. It’s everywhere. Embrace it and allow those kiddos to get messy.
    • Speaking of mud – your dog will get dirty.
    • There is so much joy in just being outside. Follow the hyperlink for some of our favorite springtime activities.
    • Unplug. Take the time to embrace the changing of the seasons. Turn off those phones and disconnect from technology for a bit. Breath.

    This is such a tremendous time of year and we hope you fully enjoy the arrival of warmer weather!

  5. Don’t Miss Out On Michaels!

    February 18, 2015 by admin

    Michaels_Logo.svgWhy is it that Michaels craft store is so easy to overlook? It is not a part of our heavy store rotation – like Target. But every time we visit Michaels, we question why we don’t frequent it more often.

    Bluey loves a crafty or tinkering activity. And if you can catch Plum at the right time, she’ll eagerly join in the fun. Michaels offers a fantastic selection of craft and building model kits, as well as lego knock offs, and a line of construction sets.

    If you join Michaels mailing list, download their store app, or simply google your nearest location – you can enjoy 40% off any regular priced item. This readily available coupon brings a large amount of products well under $10. More often than not, you can also find coupons for about 20% off an entire purchase. And Michaels after holiday clearance sales are fantastic!IMG_2418

    Tip1: Be prepared to wait in line upon checking out. We don’t know why, but all Michaels seem to have a real problem ushering their guests through check out in a timely manner.

    We understand that Michaels also offers a Kids club that allows you to sign up your children (3 years of age or older) for a 30 minute craft for around $2. And they also have a spattering of adult classes throughout the month. We haven’t explored these offerings yet. But they sound fun.

    Tip2: You aren’t just limited to kits! Michaels has plenty of other low price point items for your family fun time. Consider getting a plain wooden box to decorate into a container for treasures. Or pick up a plain t-shirt and some fabric paint for some fashion design time.

    Rather than purchasing yet another generic toy on a trip to Target, why not visit Michaels and get something that will challenge your child, encourage family time, cooperation, and creativity, as well as result in a unique finished product?

    We’re already excitedly talking about our next trip for another car model kit!

  6. One Week

    February 13, 2015 by admin


    We’ve had a heck of a week.

    In the past seven days we have: recovered Bluey from a wicked illness, found out we need to find a new place to live, had TRDad go down with a serious knee injury (during a busy holiday week for his work), watched TRMom fighting off her own cold, found the shower drain needed a full replacement, brought Plum home from school sick, and dealt with a crazy email error from the school which set us on edge…

    All this while trying to plan for our family Valentine’s Day celebration and maintaining our usual work and family schedules…

    How do we hold it together?

    • Humor: We crack our jokes, get silly with each other, and remind one another what’s really important.
    • Music: Few things happen in our world that can’t be brought into focus with a good song.
    • Teamwork: We’re all in this together. We help each other out where we can but if necessary, we remember to call on others to lend a hand.


    Next week is coming- there’s no saying it won’t be as active and interesting as this one.  Bring it on!

  7. Our Favorite Lifehacks

    February 11, 2015 by admin

    Some of the TRFamily’s favorite life hacks:

    • You know those horrible sticky admission bracelets given at museums, concerts, etc? Loop them through a pant hoop, shoe laces, or button hole- (when our kiddos were smaller, we’d loop it onto the stroller). So much less annoying then direct skin contact!  A great solution for kids (or adults ) with sensitive skins.


    • Save a couple of washed out yogurt containers. They are the perfect size to pass around snacks in the car while on a road trip. Or use them to hold paint or water for your brushes while doing an arts and crafts project.IMG_2815_2


    • Stainless steel straws. Trust us. If you have kids, you will have a seemingly never ending need for straws. Chuck the plastic and get some stainless steel ones. They are healthier (no bpa), environmentally friendly, and frugal!  It’s a bigger outlay at the beginning, but they pay for themselves very quickly!


    • Snow boots for the whole family – Farm & Fleet.  Cheap and comfortable.  Enough said!


    • Figure out your parking options before you leave for a specific destination.  Google “Tips and Tricks to Parking near_______.”  You’ll have to dig through the returns for the valuable hints you seek, but it’ll be worth it!  Save yourself the trouble of driving around looking for a random spot or blowing your entire budget in a garage.

  8. The Family Calendar Goes Digital

    February 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2801_2It’s no secret that this is one busy TR family.  We’ve always had lot going on from Day 1.  Doctor’s appointments, playdates, work events, club meetings, vacation days… it’s a lot to keep track of for any family.

    We’ve used a number of different schemes to help keep everyone on track.

    For a long time we had a standard bank wall calendar hanging in the kitchen.  And we’d scrawl notes on there as we remembered upcoming events.  And we’d try to check the wall each morning.  As events got cancelled and rescheduled, the calendar quickly became an overwhelmed scribble.

    We switched to a larger “Family” calendar we picked up in a bookstore.  It featured bigger notation spaces and cute stickers to help serve as reminders.  But as our family grew, and activities accumulated, this family calendar also became an over-worked mess.

    There was a period where TRMom would print out pages of Microsoft calendar months from her office.  So TRMom and TRDad would email and call each other to update the computer calendar, and TRMom would print out a new version weekly.  We’d tape it to the wall and write in additions for the next week’s printing.  Better, but not great.

    We continued to struggle with finding methods to keep appointments up-to-date, how to remember to look at them, and still have a serviceable method of figuring out what was going on in our active little group.

    And then we got smart phones.

    It took us a good minute to work out the kinks, but we soon found we could easily add or remove calendar items from our shared digital calendars with ease.  And by setting your personal preferences, you can receive reminder messages about all, or some of your events.  Now it is very easy for us to keep track of this crazy busy clan.

    Our good friend Siri can even add calendar events for us, making this the easiest system we’ve used to date.  And you can have your family’s Facebook events automatically populate your digital calendar as well.

    By setting up multiple color coded calendars, you can even make calendars that show your kiddos only the events or reminders that pertain to them, and leave the “Send In Car Payment” notes out of their line of vision.

    We are happy to be able to have synched calendars at a moment’s notice.  It helps keep us all on the same page and limits the surprises. We highly recommend that if available, you consider utilizing these digital calendars for your family.

  9. Best of 2014

    December 31, 2014 by admin

    56571_party_mdAs we welcome in 2015, we at ThriftyRambler wanted to take a few moments to reflect on 2014. Here are some of our favorite posts of the year: (launched in 2013 but continues throughout the years!)

    We are thrilled interact with all of our readers and we thank you for being a part of this homegrown project. We are excited to see what the coming year has in store for all of us! We encourage you to continue to reach out to us with ideas or comments.

    Wishing all of you a peaceful, loving and prosperous 2015.


  10. Herman’s Hermits

    December 17, 2014 by admin

    IMG_9263Hermit Crabs? Yup! Hermit crabs are now counted among our family. This TR household is currently 4 humans, 1 dog, 3 cats, and 3 new hermit crabs.

    We thought these crabs would be a simple, low-maintenance pet to add to our family.

    But please be warned! We learned the hard way that welcoming hermit crabs into your home isn’t necessarily easy-cheesey. These little critters involve a lot of initial expense and set up. We had thought we researched this undertaking and were good to go. But it turned out that stuff like “keeping the humidity stable” is harder to do than we might have thought.

    Tip1: Items recommended for your hermit crabs: heat lamp with day AND night bulbs, glass aquarium, substrate of sand, 2 water dishes (not metal), heat/humidity gauge, food dish, small hiding shelter, extra shells, and climbing toys.

    IMG_9268We had a 5 gallon tank and decided that 3 small hermit crabs would fit comfortably in this space. We wanted to be sure that our hermit crabs appeared healthy and happy prior to purchase. We visited a few local stores before settling on the active hermits crabs at Animart, a locally-owned pet store chain. We picked our sand up at Menards, a local home & builder store (much cheaper than buying the fancy sands sold at pet stores) and some supplies at PetSmart– all for the lower prices.

    Once home, we excitedly set up our new friends in their habitat.  Our crabs seem to really enjoy a small ceramic tree that had been sold as a fish tank decoration, as well as some green moss we were able to get at Michaels (which is also where we found a big bag of extra shells).

    Tip2:  To reduce the odds of giving your crabs an illness or parasite, make sure all items for their tank are thoroughly washed and rinsed with boiling water.

    It took us a while to get to the point where both the temperature and humidity seemed more or less stable in our ‘crabitat’.  Since we obsess about taking good care of the critters that live with us, this struggle caused us some distress.  We suspect that crabs are hearty crustaceans that can weather these issues better than we think.  But we recommend you do full research if you choose to get hermit carbs, as you should for any new pet.

    Tip3:  We did a lot of our research using YouTube, but not all videos are equal.  Some seemed to come from very experienced crab owners, some seemed like they were made by newer owners.  (One, disappointingly, featured a man smuggling crabs from Jamaica to bring to his home tank in Canada.)  We recommend you watch MANY videos to get an ample supply of ideas to make your crabs happy.  Or take out some books from your local library.

    Our hermit crabs have turned into fun little friends to have in the house.  We occasionally shift them into a small plastic bin to interact with them.  They really seem to like these encounters!  They all start moving around and checking things out.  It has been quite a fun, new adventure for our family!IMG_9256