Gretchen Schock shares her love of recipes, crafts and frugal living. She also speaks very opening about the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. After a breast cancer scare in 2012, she decided to say goodbye to her nightly glasses of Chardonnay. It was time to get sober and live life with eyes wide open! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.

8/30/2007

The (re)Cycle Plays

As some of you may know I've worked for the last seven years with Confluence Theatre Company to produce a variety of theatrical readings and shows. Although I not in NYC right now, Confluence is flowing on with an original concept of mine called: The (re)Cycle Plays. The event will take place on September 15th from 1:00pm - 6:00pm at The Socrates' Sculpture Park and is a free event.

Here's a little info about the event:

In Medieval "cycle plays," common guildsmen and craftsmen performed Biblical morality plays on mounted stages that were moved around the city streets on wagons. The (re)Cycle Plays revives this theatrical ritual with a series of short plays, dance pieces, musical performances, and special events. Reusing play titles such as The Fall, The Flood, and The Last Judgment from the original Cycle Plays, each performance focuses on ecological issues like peak oil, consumption, and food politics. This series of performances will cycle throughout the day. Three stage areas will be created from reusable, recycled, and sustainable materials and the crowd will be directed to the various stages. All electronics will be powered by bio-diesel.

Confirmed artists include Confluence Theatre Company, Subjective Theatre Company, Studio 42, Adam Matta, Anne Zuerner/The Roxanne Lola Movement Machine, Athena Kokoronis, and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Festival design by Nicole Frankel and Robert Morris.

The (re)Cycle Plays also features "Ye Olde Eco-Faire," in which grassroots organizations raise awareness, inspire interest, and grow support for local sustainability initiatives.

We've gotten some great press for the event including a write up on TREEHUGGER and Playbill.

It looks like it is going to be an educational and artistically pleasing event. Please try and attend if you are going to be in New York City that weekend.

8/26/2007

My no-go coasters

So my project this week was slated to be coasters made by recycling plastic shopping bags into yarn and then crocheting the yarn into coasters.

Wow, I had missed crocheting! I'm not much of a summer crocheter. I'm not sure why? Perhaps I associate yarn with being warm and cozy and therefore shy away in the dog days of summer. I probably hadn't crochet or knit at all since April.

Crocheting feels really good. The actually act lifts my spirits and simultaneously calms me down. Sometimes when I am effortlessly making a granny square I feel a connection with women throughout history and women all oven the world. I know that plenty of men knit too - but it is the images of women that seem to collect in my consciousness. I feel a kinship with these women which makes me feel connected to all mankind and makes me feel slightly more at ease.

Even when the project turns out badly, I really love the process. I can't say that about many things.

Sidenote: I had avoided crocheting with the plastic bag yarn because I believed I would hate taking the time to make the yarn by cutting the bags and weaving them together, however; I think this project was actually quite enjoyable. I curled up with some DVR'd Jon Stewart and made a big enough ball of yarn to make a couple of coasters in no time.

I followed the pattern and created a perfectly fine coaster, in the sense that it is created to the patterns specifications and is indeed what I intended to create. Sadly, its just not something I would use. Just to be sure, I crochet another coaster prototype in a square - still a no go.

I think the problem is that I for some reason view the plastic grocery bags as being a little dirty. Not filthy, but not clean enough to have near food. I just couldn't see myself passing a guest a coaster made of plastic bags. I think I would actually like a bag made out of the bags so perhaps I make one of those in the future.

Here are some photos.

8/25/2007

Carrot Ginger Soup


It's summer and you may not be in the mood for soup quite yet but this recipe is so delicious served warm, not piping hot. This could also be done in the crock pot and cooking all day while you are at work.

Serves 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
7 large carrots, chopped
3 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 cans (14.5 oz each) broth: you can use vegetable or chicken
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups milk

In a large pot (like one you would use to cook spaghetti), heat oil over medium heat; add onions and cook, stirring frequently until translucent, about 5 minutes
Add carrots, sweet potatoes, ginger, broth and 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
Working in batches, puree mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Season with pepper just before serving.

Serve and Enjoy!

8/22/2007

Learning New Things


I am constantly amazed by my kids, everyday they learn new things. Today my 2 year old mastered the curved ladder at the playground, something he's been practicing for weeks. As I watched him do it over and over again I thought to myself when was the last time I learned something new?
Honestly.
Think about it.
As adults we get into a groove, say at work...in the beginning we may have had to learn how to do the job and then it reaches this point of coasting. You're just coasting along. Is that living?
So here is my challenge: to learn something new everyday.
Have you always wanted to learn another language? Check out this site and you can learn at your own pace online.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

Or what about taking a class...but who has the time, right? Well MIT offers free online non-credit classes. http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/index.htm

Or simply go to
http://thesaurus.reference.com/
and learn a new word everyday or a word to replace one you use repeatably.

A lesson from a 2 year old, who would have thought!

8/20/2007

Crochet plastic bag coasters

I've been admiring Gretchen's recycled bags for awhile now and have been wanting to make one myself but first I need to crochet some coasters for my new apartment. I was totally psyched to find this site:

myrecycledbags.com

This link takes you to my next project: Crochet plastic bag coasters!!!

I'll post pictures as soon as my coasters are done.

Recycled Bag Update


I just want everyone to know that I have become addicted to making the recycled plastic bags. Here is a circular one I made to tote pool toys and beach towels. I'm going to start selling them on my site (www.AuntArt.com) so be on the look out for some really cool styles.

8/19/2007

My Boulder...so far.

Thanks Gretchen for making it back to the blog and getting a post up everyday this week. Great work.
I'd like to say that I was on a month long vacation and haven't written because I was too busy drinking cocktails Oceanside, but in truth I was finally moving in to my new apartment in Boulder.

I've been here in the city a couple of months now but I am just now moved in and unpacking my stuff. This is the first time I am living with a partner and I am currently going through many of the secrete rituals that go with living with a boyfriend for the first time. I believe these things are kept secrete or else many people would stay single for life. Nothing too serious, just the pains of mixing two peoples' aesthetic choices. I am confident that compromises will create a lovely home in time.

As far as leaving the city and living in a more suburban environment goes, one of the hardest things I am having trouble adjusting to is planning out a week or two of meals and then buying everything I need in one large shopping trip. I am spoiled from my apartment in Queens where there was a fresh vegetable stand literally on my corner. If any of the readers have some tips on how to shop once for all week - please make a comment.

Switching the topic - have you tried Google Maps? I'm told it isn't always the best for directions, but it does have a feature that allows you to create a map and place comments on it. Here is a link to a map I've titled My Boulder.

Once you get to this link do the following: 1.) Go to tab labeled MY MAPS which is located beside the tab labeled SEARCH RESULTS. 2.) Click MY BOULDER, CO. I've tried find a direct link but can't so it is a two step process. I've been creating this map since I got here in order to help me find my way around. Thought you might like to checkout where I'm shopping and chilling. If you click on the place you can read the comments I have written about it.

I can't promise to post as often as Gretchen but my goal is to post some Cocktail Mom Goodness at least twice a week. Thanks for reading!

Daily Cleaning

A lot of people have come to my house and asked how I keep my house clean. I may be a SAHM but I also run a business and have 2 kids under 4 years old. Here's my secret...I clean everyday. I know what you're thinking but hear me out, it's not as bad as it sounds. Everyday I have a cleaning chore and on the kitchen calendar I write the chore by the name of the day across the top. For example:
Monday-Kitchen
Tuesday-Bathrooms
Wednesday-Vacuum
Thursday-Dust
Friday-Laundry
The key here to make it work for you is to then have the weekends off. That's right no more Saturday afternoon cleaning your house for 4 hours. You've worked all week, take some time off. And when I say "kitchen" I mean full kitchen cleaning, wiping down all the cabinets, stove, floors etc. And then on Thursday if you notice the kitchen floors need cleaned stop yourself! In order for this to work you have to be able to let it go and say to yourself "the kitchen is Monday" It's that simple. Well you also have to be in the habit of putting things away when you are done with them and not creating chaos in the mist of the week. You may find that doing a load of laundry everyday works for you instead of devoting a day to it or just doing laundry on the weekends when your significant other could help etc etc.
Post any changes you make or other tips...I love to simplify, so please share!

8/18/2007

Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread

This is one of my favorite things to bring to a party when the host instructs me to bring dip of some sort. Since it's not store bought it appears as though I put more work into it than I actually did. :) Love when that happens!

4 ounces bar cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
salt and ground pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) cold crumbled blue cheese
crackers or crostini for serving

In a medium bowl, stir cream cheese with a wooden spoon until softened. Mix in walnuts; season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in blue cheese, breaking up as little as possible. transfer mixture to a small bowl; smooth top. Serve with crackers or crostini. To store: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 week.

8/17/2007

Tag Book

One of my very close friends, Wendi, sent me this tag book for my birthday. Each tag has a quote on it. I absolutely love it and it still sits on my desk. For my mother-in-law's birthday I took Wendi's idea and went bigger. I made the tags about 3" wide by 5" long and included pictures of the kids. My MIL is a therapist and doesn't like to have personal family photos in her office so I made her tag book with a funny face theme and included humorous quotes for those moments in between clients when she needs a pick me up and she can store it in her desk drawer. The best part was I only used my scraps of scrapbook paper. The rings can be found at any office supply store for under 2 bucks for a packet of them. This is a very inexpensive gift idea for anyone on your list.

8/16/2007

Knowing the recycling numbers

In the July/August 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine they posted a very helpful breakdown of what those numbers mean on the bottom of plastic containers. I was surprised to discover that the organic Gerber baby food is in a number 7, which can't be recycled at all! This may make you reconsider some of the packaging of items that you currently buy.

1 : PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
Found In: Soft drink and water bottles.
Recycle rating: Excellent. Can be recycled into carpeting and fiber fillings for pillows, quilts and jackets. A large quantity is reused in the beverage market.

2: HDPE ( High-Density
Polyethylene)
Found In: Milk Jugs, detergent bottles and trash bags
Recycle rating: Excellent. Can be reused in pipes, flowerpots and trash cans.

3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
Found In: Food wrap, cooking oil bottles, and "blister" packaging.
Recycle rating: Poor. Even though it can be reused in pipes, vinyl chloride has been classified as a carcinogen.

4. LDPE (Low-
Density Polyethylene)
Found In: Grocery bags, garment bags, shrink wrap and squeeze bottles.
Recycle rating: Fair. Can be difficult to find centers that take this kind of plastic to be turned into trash bags, plastic tubing and plastic lumber.

5. PP (Polypropylene)
Found In: Yogurt containers, most bottle tops and some carpets
Recycle rating: Fair. Few centers accept PP. Can be recycled into battery casings, brooms and scrapers but can't be transformed beyond that.

6. PS (Polystyrene)
Found In: Plastic utensils, packing materials and Styrofoam.
Recycle rating: Fair. Can be recycled into egg cartons, concrete and insulation, but finding a recycling center to accept it is often difficult.

7. "Other"
Found In: A wide variety of products; this usually refers to layered or mixed plastics.
Recycle rating: Poor. "7" plastics can't be recycled at all.

Consume or not to comsume, the question

It's so hard to not become a consuming maniac after you move or buy a house. We have quite a long list of remodel ideas for this house and many times I've had to stop myself while in the aisle of Ikea or Target and ask myself "Do I really need this?"
And most of the time the answer is "yeah kind of". I try and be honest with myself and question the item in my hand to figure out if I LOVE it. For example I was at Ikea looking at rugs. We need two small rugs in front of the back and front doors right when you enter. With 2 boys who love dirt immensely I need the extra foot wiping when you enter. But nothing was grabbing me, I wasn't in love with any of the rugs. So instead of buying one that "will do for now", which eventually ends up getting tossed or given away when I do find the one I love, I walked out of the store without a rug. I'll wait to fall in love and deal with the dirt in the meantime.

8/14/2007

Watermelon Slushies

I haven't tried this yet but I plan on serving it to the adults at my 4 year olds birthday party this saturday. I am a CocktailMom afterall. :)

1 small seedless watermelon, cubed (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup powered sugar

1. Place watermelon cubes in shallow baking dish. Freeze 4 hours or until solid. Transfer frozen cubes to resealable plastic bag if making ahead.
2. Blend frozen watermelon cubes, vodka, lime juice and sugar in blender until smooth. Pour into 4 glasses and serve immediately.

Serves 4 Vegan

8/13/2007

Say NO to the Sharpie

If you find yourself holding a sharpie marker in your kitchen about to write on your cabinets...STOP yourself and go and buy a label maker!!
The previous owner left their mark in the kitchen by doing this. After hours of scrubbing it finally came off but come on who needs to label cabinets?? I own a label maker and will create a label for just about anything but really why would this be necessary?

8/12/2007

I'm Back!

So Sorry for the lack of entries on my part...to get you up to speed. Me, hubby and the kids moved AGAIN! That's right we were only in MD for 6 months and then moved. I move a lot, typically every year. But this time we bought a house and we are swearing to ourselves and anyone who will listen without rolling their eyes that this house is the HOUSE. We now live in Old Greenbelt, MD. In this wonderful community called Greenbelt Homes Inc (GHI for short). It's a very liberal community and so far I've met a lot of people who are into living "green". The co-op is even trying to figure out how to make all the houses more energy efficient. Love that!
Well after we moved physically into the house we didn't have Internet for 2 weeks. I was about to die....this is my lifeline as a SAHM. Twice I had to drive 25 minutes to my parents house to check my email because I just couldn't stand it any longer. I'm addicted to email, I admit it.

So now I am back and have many homeowner items to share with all of you. We are trying to do all our remolding jobs "green", since we'll be in this house for a while :)

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