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.

5/31/2008

Sex and the City

Oh it's good, it's really good. My mom and I went to the theatre last night and began the evening with cocktails and then reunited with the girls. It's like visiting old friends. I didn't realize how much I have missed watching the show every week. That in part because at the time I was living in NYC, single and seeing my best friend (Jessica) everyday...oh how times have changed. But the girls are exactly how you remembered them. If you were a fan of the show then you are going to LOVE the movie. If you never watched the show, you'll follow along but you won't quite get the depth of Carrie and Big's relationship.

Go see it! Worth every cent.
I'll be buying the dvd when it comes out.

5/30/2008

Are you ready to be a guest blogger?


The Cocktail Moms are looking for Guest Bloggers. Could it be you?

This summer we would love for you, our readers, to post about your recent great recipe or share with us a fabulous idea you had for re-purposing an everyday waste object.

This is a perfect opportunity for any of our readers that don't have their own blog to share with us and our readers their unique crafty project. It is also the chance to promote your own blog. If you recently published a post that deals with cocktails, crafts, or conscious living we would love for you to share it with our readers and at the same time let them all know about your personal blog.

Please email Gretchen or me at cocktailmoms@gmail.com title the email GUEST BLOGGER. Give us a general idea of what you would like to post about and if we like the idea one of us will get back to you with instructions on how to post.

Also, if there is a recent or past post on our blog that you would like to cross-post on your blog - let us know. We love being guest bloggers.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Place mats

With kids the sheer idea of a tablecloth is laughable. But to dress up the table and keep it interesting I made place mats for each person in our family. I used scraps from my scrapbook supplies and extra prints of pictures that I had on hand and placed them on top of a solid 12x12 piece of card stock paper. I then took clear laminate (you can buy a big roll at any office supply store) and covered the front and back, no worries if milk spills.

5/28/2008

CocktailMom Approved Products

What is that in the upper right hand corner of the blog? Why those are all the products that the CocktailMoms have mentioned in our posts. Can't remember that awesome craft book I mentioned last week? No problem!, just click the box called "CocktailMom Approved Products" and you will find it there. And you can purchase it through Amazon like you normally would using that link.
And I'll be honest with you, we do get a very small cut but we are talking about donating that $1.40 we make over the next year to charity so don't get creep'd out by it. Hope you find it handy!

What the World Eats

Take a few minutes and flip through the amazing images that Time published on a piece called "What the World Eats" from a book called "Hungry Planet".

It's truly amazing to actually see the contents of a weeks worth of food for people all over the planet. I was a tad surprised by the amount of Coke bottles in the pictures and also just the amount of waste of packaged foods, and it's not just in the US either.

The picture above taken by Peter Menzel, makes me not complain about eating leftover tuna salad for lunch today.

5/27/2008

Mini Album : Bike Route and Mother's Day


My dad is so hard to shop for and even harder to make things for. He's the type of guy who has everything he needs. Well this year, hopefully, he'll enjoy the mini bicycle album I made for him using all recycled materials. The covers are made of cardboard and the actual pages are envelopes that I have collected from junk mail/credit card offers. I then used scraps from my paper stash to disguise the envelopes. On the front of each envelope I have a description of the bike ride and inside the envelope is a map of the route.

mothers day present 97/366
I also created a similar in style mini album for my mom for mother's day. Within her book each envelope contains a pull out page that describes the qualities I admire most in her.
These mini albums could have an endless amount of themes. Maybe you have a hiker in your life...you could create a similar book like the one I made for my dad. Or for a golfer you could have golfing vacation destinations with accommodations in the envelopes. To get ideas for destinations I used google, as many places are state parks.
I'm slightly obsessed with mini albums right now so you'll be seeing more in the future posts.

5/26/2008

Trash Time in Boulder


Boulder, CO is many things and one of them is a college town. So end of May and end of August, as leases are up, there is a treasure trove of items to be found for free on the curbside. My eyes are peeled this year for a dresser.

My best find last year was this completely functional and intact solid oak entertainment center. I found it in my very parking lot as the boys downstairs were throwing it out because they couldn't get it their moving van. I was glad I stumbled across them throwing it away, because I would have never been able to get it up the stairs myself. The piece is in mint condition and we have used it for almost a year now.

It's light oak finish fits nicely with the rest of our second hand furniture. In fact the only thing purchased new in our living room was the futon. You've gotta have a comfortable futon!

So, if your in Boulder and see a great free dresser this season let me know.

Summer Snack

One of my favorite mid-afternoon summer snacks is a fresh tomato sliced with mozzarella and a pinch of salt and pepper, fresh basil (if you have it, all I had was dry today) and a little olive oil. It's so refreshing. It also makes a great appetizer for a dinner party.

5/25/2008

Gift for Me



Often its seems that everything I make leaves me as a gift for someone else. And though I love giving homemade gifts, sometimes I want to have one of my own creations to keep.

Sometime ago I was given the book Stitch N' Bitch Crochet the Happy Hookers by Debbie Stoller.
I've probably thumbed through the book fifty times but never sat down and worked one of the patterns - until this week.

Since I have a few days off between jobs right now I decided it was the perfect time to make a gift for me and to finally make one of the hip and modern patterns in The Happy Hooker.

The pattern is called "Fat Bottom Bag". The pin is from my antique jewelry collection. The bag worked up super quick and was actually more of a technique than a pattern that could be useful for making a larger bag if you desired.

If you haven't crafted anything purely for yourself lately. The time is now.

Child's Art Embroidery

It's not possible to keep every masterpiece that my kids' make. The stack of art and schoolwork from Logan in pre-K is already a foot high. There are many different ideas to house and store kid's artwork in almost every parenting magazine. But in the book The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule she came up with an awesome idea that I am just loving. Basically the idea is to embroider the kids' artwork on fabric, from there you could make a pillow, frame it or add it to a quilt. I am keeping the fabric on the hoops and hanging them on the wall. I love this idea because I really want to capture who they are right now. For example Logan can write his name but is not at all interested in drawing anymore. So I drew very simple designs of the things he is interested in like flowers, butterflies and the weather.
The best way, and cheapest, that I have found to transfer the art on fabric is to tape the art onto a window and then tape the fabric on top of that. Using the sun to help you trace the art.... actually trace with washable children's markers. Then follow your pattern with thread. It's really quite simple and once you start you reach that Zen state. No wonder this craft has been around so long.

5/24/2008

Treasure Bowl

The weather is beautiful on the east coast and we are typically found walking the kids and the dog after dinner. You can set your clock to our routine of walking through the woods, over the bridge to the "playground in the woods", as Logan has named it. We luckily have so many playgrounds in our neighborhood that each one has a name.
Logan has an eye for finding little trinkets as we walk. Some one's missing shiny yellow button, a taillight to a 1950's toy car...and he believes them to be treasures. It reminds me of a story from my favorite author, Robert Fulghum, in "It was on Fire When I layed Down on It." It's the story of a little girl and her paper sack filled with the things she holds most dear but to anyone else looking into the bag it looks like trash. That is exactly how Logan's treasures are.
Now that we have a puppy that eats every small item left on the floor, the treasures need to be in a controlled environment. And it hurts my heart to make him throw them away immediately.
The big ceramic bowl on the dining room table (a recent freecycle find) is now home to Logan's treasures. We can talk about them at dinner and help create conversation and stories about his treasures. In every nook and cranny of our house is the opportunity for learning and helping Logan find his way in the world.

5/23/2008

May is the Month to Buy Pots and Pans

I was reading in Real Simple magazine today that May is the month to buy cookware. Many stores discount the pots and pans for the upcoming wedding season and college graduation presents. So if you've been meaning to replace that nasty pan...this is the month to do it.

5/22/2008

Home-made pizza crust rocks!


Gretchen was right. Making your own pizza crust is worth the extra few minutes. I'd been meaning to do it for awhile and finally got around to it tonight. If you still haven't made your own crust re-visit her post. I used the same recipe but substituted half the flour with whole-wheat pastry flour and it turned out perfect.

My favorite part about this crust was that I knew there wasn't any weird preservatives or chemicals in it. I topped it with BBQ sauce, chopped cilantro, grilled red onion, hand shredded cheese, and grilled chicken breast to make a fantastic BBQ chicken pizza. But any creative toppings would work.

Custom Pocket Headboard

We recently got a bunk bed from a neighbor on Freecycle and I made these custom headboards to cover the metal bars and add much needed storage. Before the boys would take books to bed and wake with them rumpled in the am. Now they can store their night time toys and books in their pocket headboard. I also added a see thru vinyl pocket to put pictures in. I recycled the vinyl from the packaging of a tablecloth. The entire project is very easy to make and great for beginner sewers. My pocket headboards are attached with buttons and reinforced with Pellon® Peltex® to make it a bit studier. Instead of attaching to a headboard you could hang it from a wall near your child's bed or hang on hooks from the bedside. Both of my kids' are enjoying their secret pockets and I'm enjoying the "lights out-stay in your bed" rule.

5/20/2008

Gringa Mexican Lasagna

Having Jessica as your best friend and Jon as my husband...I have eaten a lot of Mexican food. And now I cook a lot of Mexican dishes and I like to make up recipes.
Here is what I call "Mexican Lasagna"...but it's by a gringa so it's in no way shape or form authentic to anything but to my kitchen. My recipe is Vegetarian and but if desired you could use meat instead of TVP.

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans
1 onion, chopped
2 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein or ground meat)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 425
Boil 2 cups of water, once boiling remove from heat and add 2 cups TVP and cover.
Cook pepper and onion in skillet, add garlic and beans once the pepper is tender. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add milk, cottage cheese, TVP and taco seasoning. Mix well. Stir in salsa. Continue to cook for about 5 mins. Oil casserole dish and layer corn tortillas on the bottom, over lapping ever so slightly. Add a layer of the mixture on the stove top, add a covering of cheese, top with tortillas. Continue alternating this pattern until you have filled the dish. Ending with cheese on the top. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.
Enjoy!!!
Serves 6 people

5/19/2008

Taco Seasoning

Never buy those packets of taco seasoning ever again. Making your own is cheaper and actually tastes better. The homemade mixture is stronger than those packets so you don't have to use as much. I buy large quantities of these ingredients at Costco to make the mixture even more cost effective.
6 teaspoons chili powder
4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
5 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons onion powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

5/18/2008

Father's Day Golf Club Covers

First off, I should apologize for my lack of posts. There is no excuse really, but I was busy preparing for Greg's graduation party and his family's visit. Also, I was working my last two weeks of work at one of the worst jobs I've ever had, as the personal asst. to an enormously rich excessively mean woman. Now, I have a few days off between jobs and was able to put the finishing touches on my golf club covers.

This summer I am hoping to learn to play, what many people have warned me can become a compulsive addiction, golf. Greg's mother gave me an exceptionally nice set of used golf clubs last fall and I am ready to give it a go. What I like about golf is what I like about bowling - the goal is beating yourself, more so than your opponent. However, unlike bowling you can do it outside. I've been preparing for my golf lessons, which start next week, by renting DVDs like Golfing for Dummies and knitting and crocheting snazzy golf club covers. I mean it is always important to be properly accessorized.

As I was making these golf club covers I realized they would be a perfect Father's Day gift for the Dad that likes to hit the links. They knit or crochet up super quick and are perfect for using up that acrylic yarn that you bought because you loved the color but never found a use for.

I searched the internet and various blogs extensively to fine one easy knit and one easy crochet pattern. The rainbow golf club pictured was knit in the round on four needles using the Spiral golf club pattern at Sarah Peasley's Hand Knitter website.

The blue golf club cover pictured was crocheted. The pattern is from the May/June 2008 issue of Crochet Today. This issue is on new stands now. I bought my copy at Michael's. I think you can also buy it at Amazon.com This picture is of the X-Large golf club cover pattern and was even quicker to work up than the knitted version.

I made both of these as sort of prototypes and plan to make myself a matching set so that I can look completely styling on the golf course. Of course, I hope I can pick up golfing as easy as it was to make these accessories.

If you decide to make a golf club cover for Father's Day send Gretchen or me a picture of your work and we'll post them.

5/17/2008

Treasures in the Trash!


Looky what I found in the trash!!! One of my neighbors, my dog trainer actually, was throwing out a bunch of toys her kids' have outgrown and we picked up this totally mod wooden doll house with all the furniture and people to go with it. SCORE!

5/10/2008

Au gratin Potatoes

Before it gets too hot to turn on the oven and make a batch of my au gratin potatoes. I personally like to serve it with a hearty spinach salad for the meal to be complete vegetarian. This recipe freezes well for leftovers but if you prefer the potatoes are also great reheated in the morning with a side of eggs.
Preheat oven to 425.

3 very large potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of butter
1 onion chopped
1 frozen bag of peas 160z.
1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic chopped.
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Place the butter in the large pan you plan to cook everything in and place in the oven while it is preheating. Chop your onion, potatoes and garlic. Once the butter is melted in the pan pull it out of the oven and put all your ingredients in the pan and mix. Cover with foil and bake for 25 mins. Uncover and top with shredded cheddar cheese and make for 15 mins more until browned on top. Serves 4-6.

5/09/2008

Blocks

My hubby spent an afternoon slaving away at the saw making blocks for the kids. He bought two 12 ft 2x4's and cut them into different shapes. After sanding and protecting them with a water based finish the whole project cost less than 10 bucks.
Compare that to this set which costs 47 bucks plus shipping. Yikes!

This would be a great gift idea for any kid over 1 year old. The possibilities of play are endless with blocks, the boys have already built the Legion of Doom and the Hall of Justice right in our living room!

5/05/2008

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

Well since the regular pizza dough made from scratch worked out so well I thought I'd try gluten free. Well it was a hit. Logan actually begs for pizza night. The added bonus is that it's a lot easier to make than I thought it would be.

Preheat oven to 425.

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 Tablespoon walnut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients except yeast in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, mix for about 1 minute and then add the yeast and mix until it forms into a sticky ball of dough (about 2 mins).
Put dough on your baking sheet or pizza stone , and sprinkle with additional brown rice flour and press flat.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and add your sauce and toppings. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned.
Enjoy!

5/01/2008

Following Dharma

OK I promise I won't be one of those people who talks about her dog all of the time. I refuse to be one of those parents so the rule applies to the dog also.
But I have to share with you a moment I had today.
To back track a little....both times when I was pregnant and my hubby and I were making the baby name list, I always had the name Dharma for a girl. Since I had 2 boys (and we aren't having any more 2 legged kids) I stated from the get go of dog shopping that if we get a girl her name will be Dharma.
I've had a few people already ask me if we are LOST fans. Nope, never have seen the show actually. Dharma in Buddhism means the teachings of the Buddha and in Hinduism it is the principle of cosmic order. I often thought that having a child named Dharma would be appropriate because of the lessons I would learn in parenthood may not bring me to enlightenment but it would be teachings.
So it makes me chuckle to myself while following Dharma (the dog) that she may bring me closer to enlightenment.
And today maybe she did.
Today I sat outside on the swing and watched her for an hour. I didn't even realize that an hour had gone by. I can't remember the last time I just sat and did nothing. Almost all of my day is multitasking.
So who knows maybe Dharma will teach me a few things.

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