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.

3/31/2008

Saved from a Landfill

I picked up these chairs from a fellow freecycler, saved them from their date with destiny in a landfill. After 2 hours of determination and elbow grease, both chairs are sparkling clean and ready for our next backyard BBQ.

3/29/2008

B.Pure Cocktail Lip Balm

With Jessica's recent post about Lush moisturizer, I realized that I should be showing the love to some of my fellow indie business owners. I'm not a big consumer but when I do shop I prefer to buy from women, like myself, who are trying to make a living doing their craft and in turn "following their bliss".
This Cocktailmom is addicted to B-Pure Cocktail Lip Balms. The smells are so delightful. I am a bit of a lip balm addict, I never leave home without one. The merlot is my favorite flavor and the packaging of all B-Pure's products are the best!
Support women owned indie businesses.

3/28/2008

1 Rotisserie Chicken, 2 people, 3 meals


Meal 1 - Chicken Salad

1 breast of rotisserie chicken, skinned removed and shredded
1 Heart of Romaine Lettuce
1 half avocado diced (use the rest meal 2)
2-3 broccoli florets (use the rest meal 3)
1/4 green pepper (use the rest meal 2)
Onions, carrots, celery, walnuts - whatever you like on your salad or whatever you have around the house!
Dressing (homemade or store bought)

Directions- Make two large salads.

Meal 2 - Chicken Quesadillas

Rotisserie chicken's leg and thigh meat skinned and shredded
4 whole wheat or spelt tortillas
3/4 of a green pepper thinly sliced
3/4 of an onion thinly sliced
1-2 sprays of cooking oil
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheese

Guacamole

1/2 Avocado diced
1/4 Onion diced
1-2 teaspoon from a packet of avocado seasoning ( I usually make several batches from one packet)
Juice from one half of a lime or lemon

Directions -
Preheat oven to 375.
Make Guacamole by combining all ingredients in a container w/ a tight fitting lid. Chill in refrigerator while you make the Quesadillas. Spray a skillet with cooking oil. Cook onions and peppers on a medium-high heat until soft and aromatic. Lower heat to medium-low add shredded chicken to skillet. Sprinkle seasonings to coat chicken and veggies. Cook until chicken is re-heated. Spray cookie sheet lightly with oil. Place two tortillas on sheet. Layer with chicken/veggie mixture and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla. Bake in oven 8-12 minutes until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges with pizza cutter. Serve with Guacamole.

Meal 3 - Chicken and broccoli pasta Alfredo

1 breast of chicken from rotisserie chicken skinned and diced into bite-size pieces
1 head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 jar Alfredo sauce
2 servings of pasta prepared according to package (I like penne or linguine)
1 clove garlic diced
1-2 sprays of cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

In a 5 quart sauce pan with a tight fitting lid place one inch of water and the broccoli. Cover. Bring water to a simmer and steam until broccoli is bright green. Drain broccoli in a colander. Wipe pan dry and reuse for next step. Spray pan with cooking oil. Add garlic, chicken, and spices. Cook on a medium heat until chicken is heated through and garlic is aromatic. Add Alfredo sauce and cook until heated. Add broccoli. Serve over pasta. (I served it with a small salad left over from the ingredients from meal 1.)

This was the first time I'd ever purchase a rotisserie chicken. I needed something quick and healthy for dinner and figured I would use the rest of the chicken somehow. I was truly happy with all three meals and none of them took more that 30 minutes to make.

Please post in the comments your favorite rotisserie chicken dishes.

Foam Blocks


I was recently chatting with a friend that was telling me about this Montessori school where the teacher only has large blocks in the classroom, no kitchen set, no doll house. If you want to play kitchen first you must build it. I really love this idea. Gets the kids to be more creative and expressive in how they perceive a kitchen to look. I went to my local JoAnn's fabric store and bought random sizes of foam, most are over 4 inches thick. I then cut them in different sizes to create a unique mix of blocks. Each block is covered in fabric from scraps in my personal stash. The boys are really enjoying building structures that they can crash thru. And finally something to throw at each other's heads that won't result in a trip to the ER. Boys will be boys.

3/26/2008

Laundry Room turned Office Part 2





















I finished the office in a mere 4 days. I am so happy with how it has turned out. Everything is organized to a T, which is so very me. Here are a few pictures. The whole thing cost me under 200 bucks to do. The main paint color is left over paint we used on the trim downstairs. The orange paint I picked up on the "ooops" counter at home depot for a dollar! Doing this project I had to dabble in my plumbing skills (that's a joke-what skills!). Had an "oh shite!" moment the first time I ran a load of laundry. But it's all fixed now :)
Everyone that I told about the idea for this project doubted it could be done, including my husband. I am really proud of myself, I think the space is very cool and creative. A great place to work!

3/22/2008

Dharma


I just had to share with you all the newest addition to our family.
An 8 week old beagle puppy named Dharma.
I'm in love!

3/20/2008

DonorsChoose.org


One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was from blog reader (and friend) Darren Focareta. He gave me a $25.00 gift certificate to use at DonorsChoose.org. As blogged about before by Gretchen, DonorsChoose.org is a site that allows public school teachers to post requests for donations for projects and allows everyone and anyone to donate the needed funds. I've gone to the site several times over the past few months and I have to say there are sooooo many worthy causes that I was having a horrible time deciding. I would get overwhelmed and then not give.

Well today, I got the friendly reminder email from DonorsChoose.org that basically said, "Hey - come on- pledge this money already." So I did. I supported Mandala Art: Illuminating the Soul. My money will go to buy art supplies for a predominately low-income high school that has no money for art supplies. The art teacher wants to teach the students how to make their own personal Mandalas. $404.00 is still needed! Please click on the link above and help give art supplies to students in Philadelphia. Or click on the DonorsChoose.org link above and find your own project to fund!

For those of you that don't know what a Mandala is read all about them at wikipedia.org

3/19/2008

McRainy's Famous Scalloped Potatoes

Easter is this Sunday, and it is not Easter Dinner without my Mom's Scalloped Potatoes. Much like the Mac n' Cheese recipe I posted a few months ago, this is not an everyday food. The good thing about the scalloped potatoes (vs. the mac n' cheese) is that they take at least a half hour to prep, (with all the potatoes to peel and slice) so it makes them less tempting to make for anything except a Holiday Dinner.

McRainy's Famous Scalloped Potatoes

4 cups thinly sliced pared potatoes
1 large white onion thinly sliced
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
l/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups hot milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 2 quart casserole dish arrange approximately one cup of potato slices then sprinkle with 1/4 of onion slices, 1 tbsp. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, and dash of pepper. Repeat to make 4 layers. On last layer do not sprinkle flour instead dot top layer with butter. Pour hot milk over potatoes and bake 30 minutes covered. Bake uncovered 60 to 70 minutes longer.

When cooked to perfection the bottom layers are soft, warm, and buttery and the top layer is browned and crunchy. Trust me, there is no prepackaged scallop potato mix that even comes close to the real thing.

3/16/2008

Easter Eggs


It's Easter Egg time so I took a few minutes and scanned to web for interesting ways to dye your eggs this year. Here's what I found:

If you feel like going high-end this year ere' a link to make your very own Gold Easter Eggs.


For all the math Geeks out there Cory Doctorow posted some links on Boing Boing on how to use math to decorate your symbols of rebirth this year.



Go to this link on Craftzine.com to watch a video on how to dye your eggs naturally without any toxic chemicals or dyes.




Or maybe you want to knit up a few Easter Eggs to keep for years to come. Check out the blog Little Cotton Rabbits for a great free knit easter egg pattern.

3/14/2008

Laundry Room turned Office

I'm tackling another home improvement project.
The before picture is to the left and day one picture is at the end of the post.
I'm converting the small laundry room into my office area and yes, the washer and dryer will continue to live there too. Currently my office is in the small 3rd bedroom. But over time I've come to realize the amount of space in there is nice but I really need to be on the first floor. So much of my day is multi-tasking, if my office was downstairs I could multi-task more :IMAGINE THAT!
So while my 2 year old is refusing to play with me and only wants to sit and read by himself for 30 minutes, I can use that valuable time to get some work done. I know the space doesn't look like much now but I'm really hopeful on what it will become.
For the next couple of days I'll be posting my progress each day on flickr and I'll, of course, share with you the finished room.

3/13/2008

Joined Facebook

Visiting NYC last week, I realized there must be some way to keep up with what is going on with some of my friends. There is it's called social networking and I've been avoiding it. Why? I don't know I loved Friendster (the dinosaurs of social networking systems) when it arrived on the scene. I guess I'm a little weirded out by why huge businesses like Mircosoft or moguls like Rupert Murdoch see dollar signs in their eyes when they look at people voluntarily offering up their likes and dislikes. Weirder still is that once you put the information out there you can never get it back.

But, I blog so I guess I'm "already out there" on the web. So please, if you use Facebook to keep in touch look me up.

3/12/2008

Prime Time Rewind Tv Cube

Ok I use to say I wasn't a big TV watcher but now that I can watch TV online while working in my studio, I'm hooked. There is nothing like a little Private Practice while sewing 50 chalk mats non stop.
Makes the time go by faster.

So as long as you are being productive while watching TV, I guess TV isn't so bad.
:)

Well my darling hubby has found me the perfect site to watch all the shows that keep my production levels high, do you think he has an ulterior motives?

I guess as long as you pay for internet, TV is actually free again. Who needs Comcast or Tivo for that matter!

Goals for Summer


This summer my goal is to learn to can tomatoes, peaches, and pickles. And if there is time - make my own homemade jam. These are all delicacies I grew up with, yet I didn't truly appreciate them until I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Ms. Kingsolver's lovely book chronicles her family's quest to eat locally with an emphasis on growing, harvesting, and preserving the majority of the food themselves for an entire year. The book is not a how-to unless you already own a farm and are mentally prepared to "harvest" chickens and turkeys with your own hands. The book does however, present yet another example of how far away mentally and physically most of us are to the food we eat every day. It makes an excellent case to do what you can to remake that connection. One of the ways I want to reconnect is to learn the process of canning.

I can vividly remember my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother working several days straight in a steaming hot kitchen in the middle of August in order to preserve the summer's harvest of tomatoes at the peak of their flavor. As a small child I recall readily and happily aiding in the steamy canning process. As a teen, I remember thinking it was weird that my family had homemade can goods. Why couldn't we just be normal and have Smuckers-super-sugared jelly like everyone else? Now, years later I see the health benefits of canning my own preservative and artificial-flavor free peaches and can't wait to get started. Plus, I am looking forward to spending time with my grandmother, mother, and aunt learning a skill that will surely become extinct if some members of my generations don't learn the techniques.

If all works out Gretchen may be joining me for the canning cram session with the family this summer - I promise pictures and step-by-step processes will be posted on the blog.

3/11/2008

Girl Scouts

It's tis the season for the girls adorned in patches to be standing outside the grocery store. It's one of my favorite sights....rows and rows of those tasty treats. But this year I had some self control and only bought one box. That's right, I didn't come home and align my freezer with thin mints and samoas. I'm trying this self control thing out, I wonder how many crunches I have to do to counteract that box of samoas.
Any guesses?
While we are on the subject of girl scouts those addictive cookies have sent people over the edge...people are trying to scam the girl scouts using counterfeit money! I can't even believe there are people out there that would stoop so low.
Check out this article about a couple that ripped off a troop in Colorado.

3/10/2008

Reduced for Quick Sale

After reading Jessica's post on freeganism, it's got me thinking about the amount of money we spend on food. As a loyal reader you already know that my oldest son is on the Autism spectrum and we've had him on the gluten free diet for almost a year. Food is a huge expense for us. Almost all of the food we consume is organic and made from scratch. I'm not ready for dumpster diving but I did recently discover the "reduced for quick sale cart" at my local co-op and natural market. I was able to find a huge bunch of almost brown, organic bananas for 99 cents! Which I then turned into GF Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Even the local Safeway, which I don't frequent often, has a reduced for quick sale cart full of breads and pastries. Ask the produce guy/gal that you see stocking veggies the next time you go to your local grocery store to see if they have a reduced cart. It may not be visibly out in the open, so take the time to ask.

3/04/2008

Free Veg DC Book

If you live in the greater Washington DC area and you're vegetarian and would like to know where you can find local restaurants that serve vegetarian food order a free copy of the book at VegDC.com.
If you don't live in DC but would like to know how to become a vegetarian they also have a free starter guide. Discover why vegetarian eating is increasingly popular and learn how to make the transition with ease. You'll find:
· simple and practical tips
· quick and easy recipe
· menu ideas
· information of vegetarian nutrition
· a new-to-you foods glossary
· frequently asked questions
· and much more!

3/03/2008

Gluten Free Bread Machine Recipe

I know this recipe only appeals to a select few but I wanted to post it for the random people who may stumble upon it from a google search. I have tried so many gluten free bread recipes in search of a gluten free bread that looks and tastes like...well bread. And also meets the requirements for the Gluten free- casein free diet which my oldest son who is on the Autism spectrum is doing so well on.

Well I finally found the perfect recipe!

I originally got this "white gluten free bread recipe" recipe from CookingBread.com but I tweaked it a bit to suit my son's needs.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance "Butter"
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato flour
  • 1/2 cup Sweet White Sorghum Flour
  • 1 tablespoon xanthum gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
In a bowl whisk together the egg and the water together. Add to the breadmaker. Pour in the melted "butter", lemon juice, soy milk and the agave nectar. In a bowl combine the flours, xanthum gum, powdered gelatine, salt and sugar. Add to the breadmaker. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Set breadmachine to basic and 2 lb . After the bread is cooked allow to cool in the breadmaker for 10 minutes before removing. Cool on a wire rack and slice.

3/02/2008

Rollerskating

Today the kids and I went to this thrift store called Unique Thrift that I recently discovered, thanks to Heather :)
For people who love thrift stores, it's a slice of heaven. First off it's the size of a Walmart or Target, when you walk in one side is owned by one company and the other side by another. But walking the aisles you would have no idea, both sides are impeccably clean and each row is clearly labeled with it's contents and all the clothes are perfectly hung and organized. The prices are pretty good. Not fantastic but pretty good and they have 25% off everything on Mondays.

So today as we were leaving I spotted some Little Tikes roller skates. My heart skipped a beat as I pulled them down and tried them on Zane's feet. Logan immediately wanted a pair, not even knowing what they were but clearly if mom was this excited about it, it's got to be good. Luckily I found a set of beginner inline skates with training wheels on the back for him.

As a kid I LOVED roller skating. Hours I would spend circling, grooving to the pop music blasting from the DJ while the disco ball created an environment like no other than at the rollerskating rink. As my days at the rink came to a close I immediately dove straight into the inline skating frenzy. And I never looked back. My inline skates were a mode of transportation in college, I preferred to strap on skates than ride a bike. When I moved to NYC, the skates were the first thing unpacked so I could whiz around my new terf and explore it all "on foot", so to speak.

An hour we spent today in our parking lot, me teaching the boys how to roller skate. Parenthood gives you these little reminders of the joy you had for something in your youth and you so desperately want to share it with your children. Now I understand why my husband gets so excited when the kids read comic books.
Skate rink parties here I come!

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