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Posts Tagged ‘family’

  1. People In Your Neighborhood

    April 22, 2015 by admin

    65084_town_mdFinding a new home is as much about finding the right neighborhood as it is about finding the right house.  Maybe more.  After all, you can make direct improvements to your house- add rooms, change windows, even tear the whole thing down and start over again.  But making changes to your neighborhood is a much more difficult endeavor.

    So while you are driving around looking at different houses, pay attention to the neighborhood.  What do you see?  What types of activities seem common?  Are people out tending lawns and gardens?  Are kids biking and skating around?  Is anyone shooting hoops at the basketball court?

    Do your best to try to find a home in a neighborhood where the neighbors are doing the types of activities you’ll wish to do.

    Figure out what you like in a neighborhood.  Are you hoping for active and chatty neighbors and noisy kids?  Or do you want seclusion and the quiet of your own abode?

    For us, we are seeking out an active family-friendly place, where we and our kids can get to know the neighbors.  So when we drive through a neighborhood, like the one we are moving to, and see kids on roller skates and families working on the front lawn, and lots of homes with basketball hoops- we know we are seeing good signs that this is a place where we will thrive.

    You are buying a home to live in for many years- maybe decades.  Make sure it is situated in a neighborhood you like.

  2. Mac & Cheese: Variations

    April 15, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3001 Our TR family loves comfort food!  Our feel-good dishes bring a satisfying end to a hard day or a work great as for rainy day pick-me-up.

    One of our longtime favorites is Macaroni & Cheese.  Everyone in our family can dig deep into a piping hot casserole of cheesy noodles any day of the week.

    We long ago perfected a satisfying, quick and easy homemade mac&cheese.  It tastes fantastic and goes together in just a few minutes.

    TRMom’s recent shift to a vegan diet may seem like it spelled the end of mac&cheese night, but it did not.  We just reworked the recipe a bit and use two separate casserole dishes.  We can easily make two versions of mac&cheese: the traditional favorite and a vegan version that TRMom adores.

    First up, the Vegetarian Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    1/3 Cup Cream Cheese

    3 T Butter

    1/2 to 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2.  Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3.  Mix in Butter and Cream Cheese, and stir until fully melted.

    4.  Mix in shredded cheddar and stir thoroughly.

    5.  Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.IMG_3002


    The Vegan Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    3 T Earth Balance

    1/2 Cup Teese

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2. Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3. Mix in Earth Balance and stir until fully melted.

    4. Mix in Teese and stir thoroughly.

    5. Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.

    We usually make a much smaller portion of vegan mac&cheese, since it is for one serving.  You can scale down or up as necessary to feed your hungry crew.

  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. Most Important Meal of the Day

    March 8, 2015 by admin

    TRDad is a professional chef part time and a stay at home dad full time. He is a the foundation of this family.

    IMG_9862Beyond cooking, TRDad is also a chauffeur, nurse, disciplinarian, teacher – the list goes on. He is always quick with a hug and loves heading out on a family bike ride.  We are blessed in countless ways but TRMom considers not having to prepare dinner after working all day as one of her favorite blessings.

    Since TRDad is so selfless, weekend breakfasts are one small way that TRMom tries to give back to him. This simple gesture of is now a tradition in our home.

    While TRDad is out walking our pup in the morning, TRMom gets to work. Typically, eggs are served up over easy or as an omelet, on top of or with cheesy toast. A hot cup of coffee on the side, and TRDad is ready to welcome another day.

    It may not seem like much but the tiniest acts of kindness can make a huge difference to someone!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.


  9. 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


  10. Food Creativity Unleashed

    November 28, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8824_2Does your kiddo like to cook?  It’s a great thing at any age- having a young helper in the kitchen. They learn so much and you get to bond with them while mixing, stirring and measuring.

    IMG_2278We suggest that you to talk about different foods and discuss with your kiddos that cooking is a creative endeavor.  Recipes are guides– not the gospel, and everyone should develop their own idea of what tastes good.  If you have these conversations and encourage your kids to invent and create in other areas of their lives….Eventually, your kiddo might want to create a fully original food.

    What to do?  Well, encourage it, of course!

    For several weeks before Thanksgiving, Bluey started talking to TRDad about this great dish he wanted to make for the occasion: Peanut Butter Pie.  TRDad’s first response was: “Great!  Let’s talk about that.”  By staying upbeat and positive, we got Bluey to think through his dish further and explain his ideas.

    In talking it through with him, we helped him think about different ways to create his dish and different choices he could make.  We encouraged him to think of this as his test run.  Just like with his other inventions, it might not work perfectly the very first time.

    So on Thanksgiving, we plunged into this new recipe.  Bluey was happy that he was getting to make his very own holiday treat and that he was seeing his invention carried out.  He loved the process and that we all took his idea seriously.IMG_8829_2

    He ended up making a sort of PB&J pizza.  He liked it and the entire family thought it was pretty good, too.  But Bluey declares that it wasn’t EXACTLY what he wanted.  His dish was supposed to have a top dough as well.   Next time he’ll do it a little differently…

    Let your kids (and yourself) explore in the kitchen.  Food should be fun.  Cooking is a creative endeavor.  Who knows what amazing treats you might discover?