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.

8/29/2008

Great Host Gift

Last weekend and this weekend my friend Stuart is staying with us in Boulder. He was in Denver all week for the Democratic National Convention because he is the Communications Director for Representative Yarmuth of Kentucky. He brought Greg and I a thoughtful and unique "Host Gift" complete with photos of the gifts creation.

The gifts are miniature Louisville Slugger baseball bats made directly in the Louisville Slugger Factory in Louisville, Kentucky. I liked them on many levels but primarily because of the idea of bringing a host gift that is unique from where he was visiting me from.

The next time I go to stay with someone I am going to try to remember to bring a unique Colorado gift as my host gift.


8/27/2008

Another Great Street Find


Here in Boulder, and I'm betting all College towns, August is a goldmine of street finds. My latest is this adorable table that I intend to use as a vanity.

My vision is to refurbish the table top with a ceramic mosaic. However, tomorrow is my first day back to school so I'm not sure when I will get to that project. Which is actually a good thing as I have not mosaic-ed anything ever before.

If any loyal blog readers have experience with mosaic techniques, please drop me a line. Gretchen and I would love to post the information in a guest blog column.

8/25/2008

Logan is 5! Thank you Card

Since I posted Zane's thank you cards I had to share what I came up with for Logan.
I wanted to feature a picture that shows Logan's fun, wacky side since not many people really get to see that side of him. Some folks only see "serious" Logan. Which is how he looks in large family gatherings. Also this is Logan's latest facial pose when I point the camera in his direction. He is such a hoot! As you can see I kept it very simple, yellow card stock and a metal rimmed tag from the office supply store attached with a ribbon that says "boys will be boys!". On the back is the thank you message.

8/24/2008

Microwave Vs Oven: Which is cheaper to run?

The ladies in my knitting group and I were talking about our electric bills, we all live in the same neighborhood in townhouses. Though the actual materials used to build the townhouses vary. For example I live in what is called a "frame" (made of wood) and my friend Leah lives in a brick. So one of the women said how much she pays in electricity and she has the AC running all the time during the summer. Leah and I were stunned that her bill was only 25 bucks more than ours. And we both very rarely run the AC and I feel as though we are very energy conscious around here. Not to mention it saves us money. So why am I only paying 25 bucks less? The only thing Leah & I could come up is that we are both big cookers, mainly using the stove and oven (and note that we both have ovens that are less than 4 years old). So do you think a microwave oven would be more energy efficient and save me money off my electric bill???

8/22/2008

CU Boulder 2nd Greenest School in Nation



Sierra Magazine named The University of Boulder the second Greenest school in the nation. You can read more about how they keep it green here. And though there were several East Coast schools that made the list (mostly small liberal arts schools), it made me realize one of the best things about the city I now call home - Boulder is completely Eco Conscious!





When I first moved here everyone was always asking me, "Do you miss NYC?" My response was often I don't know yet...I know I miss quick and cheap drop-off launderymats! Now, after being here for a year, I am aware that there are things I miss about the East (mostly my friends and family), but I also know the things I LOVE about my new home which is the detail given by nearly everyone to keep and protect our shared environment.

Toys R Us Birthday Club


If you sign up each of your kids' for Toys R Us birthday Club the child will receive a birthday card in the mail and a gift card for $3 off any purchase over 3 bucks. Of course they want you to come in and buy an expensive toy, but you don't have to. My kids' think the gift card is only for coloring books. It also helps that they can't read. So I shell out a buck including taxes, for their almost free, exciting new coloring book! Also along with the gift card is a postcard to bring to the customer service counter for a "special surprise". Every year it's the same thing - a balloon. And every year the balloon tends to get more attention than the coloring book...well at least for the first day.

8/21/2008

Hallmark Introduces Gay Marriage Card

Now that gay marriage is legal in two states, as well as entire countries (3 cheers for Canada), Hallmark has come out with a line of Gay Marriage Cards. The Associated Press Story reports that the the messages inside will be of a neutral tone which will allow them to appropriate for a legal union, civil unions, and commitment ceremonies.

And though the best cards to receive are handmade cards, I have to admit that it makes me very happy for all my gay friends to have one more, albeit minor, victory in homophobic corporate America.

Yes, in the end Hallmark is just trying to make a profit but I'm sure they will take some heat in certain areas of this country. Cut to some random Hallmark store getting protested just because they carry cards with two men in tuxedos as the image on the front. When interviewed on the news the protester will say something profound like "I don't want my kids to see these cards and start asking questions." Ah, yes every one knows that kids asking questions about Hallmark Cards will make them gay.

Ohio Mini Vacation Book



We recently went to visit a set of grandparents in Ohio and I took a ton of pictures. Instead of having layout after layout in our family album or trying to cram a bunch of pictures on a 2 page spread I decided to make a mini book. The boys are LOVING looking through it (with assistance from mom, of course). I kept it very simple and made sure to use some of those embellishments I have been holding onto for that special project. I highly recommend making a mini book from your vacation this summer. Keep it simple. Concentrate on the pictures and the retelling the events that took place. Forget paper. Forget matching.
As you can tell I used the same supplies that I used for the Kids' mini book. So this project cost next to nothing! Love that!

8/20/2008

Make up Dinner


I was about to order in when I looked in our fridge and saw there was nothing to make for dinner. But the frugal part of me held back and I thought...I can think of something. Well this is the something that turned into quite a delicious meal. What I had on hand was 2 cups of brown rice already made and leftover from the previous night's meal, half a jar of salsa, a can of black beans and 3 eggs which I scrambled and threw into the dish. Add some salt and pepper, crushed red peppers and a bit of taco seasoning and dinner was served.

8/19/2008

Green Toys

It's so hard to find toys that are safe for your kids (lead free) and will also be something they would want to play with. Sorry, as much as I try to get my kids to like wooden toys...the wooden dolls with no posable arms and no super capes just aren't going to cut it. Also as a mom to boys I can not tell you how hard it is to find dishes and tea sets without Dora or princess heads on them. No one makes a "boy" set that is also affordable.
Well that is until Green Toys came on the market. Not only do they have a gender neutral dish set they are also made out of 100% recycled milk jugs. They are free of Phthalates or BPA and to top it off they use recycled cardboard in their packaging. No twist ties or cellophane. And the best part of this company...They are made in the USA. It just doesn't get any better. Keep them bookmarked for Christmas. They are available on Amazon.com

8/17/2008

I can't believe I did this...

When I first moved to NYC I remember that the feeling of true independence was, well, terrifying at times. And it was never scarier then when I had done something really really stupid and had been lucky. I can clearly remember thinking to myself, "Who is watching me? I'm going to kill or maim myself or others."

Well, I felt that same way again last night when I did this....
That's right after years of taking care of myself, I still occasionally do things that could burn the whole apartment building down. Last night I turned the kettle on for tea, but you guessed it, turned on the wrong burner. Sitting on the burner I turned on was this plastic cutting board. Well, before the smoke alarms even went off...but not much before the house was filled with a vile smoke, I check on the water to find a cutting board on fire. I hate my electric stove (preferring gas) but was grateful for it last night. Open flame could have made for complete disaster.

I can not believe I was this stupid, thank goodness I'm lucky!

Please no scoldings in the comments - I am ashamed enough.

8/16/2008

Dog Park Doggie Rape

Dharma and I go to the dog park every night and last night was no different. Fridays tend to be more crowded and last night I saw a few dogs that I've never seen before. Dharma is very submissive at the dog park, if we walk around the neighborhood she stands her ground. but at the dog park... forget it... she's a totally different dog. I have no idea why but the second a dog barks fiercely at her she goes cowering towards the gate and tucks her tail under. Then not but 3 seconds later she is back in that dog's face and lays down wiggling on her back with her junx all out for the dog to smell.
So last night everything is going fine...Dharma is running around with her little doggie friends...I'm chatting with some ladies while working on a hand appliqued quilt block. (Yes, I craft at the dog park.) Then this guy comes, who none of us regulars have ever seen before, and he has 2 beagle mixes with him. Everything is going great and then one of his dogs starts humping Dharma. Yes I know this is a normal, natural thing but it annoys me when the owner doesn't push their dog off the other dog. Especially as a woman who has a dog who is totally submissive and won't bite the dog or do anything...she'll just sit there and take it.
Well this guy doesn't do anything while his dog has pushed Dharma down and is biting the back of her neck while he's humping her. I'm pissed. I go over, push the dog off Dharma and she goes running for dear life. Clearly she was not enjoying this love fest. Dhrama gets away from him for awhile, he keeps running over to her and once she sees him getting close, she speeds off. Well when she dropped her guard the bastard comes back while she is happily playing with another dog he rams his body into her and tackles her down, bites the back of her neck and starts humping her. Oh I think fire is coming out of the top of my head I am so mad. I run over there (and just to make note that the male dog's owner was closer to them than I was...urgh!) and I try to push the dog off. This dog has such a hold on Dharma that I have to grab them both by the collars to separate them and then I see it....that f@ckin' dog ejaculated all over Dharma's back. I am totally grossed out and pissed off! I continue to hold both dogs by the collar as I make my way to the gate so that this dog won't jump on her again. As I'm leaving one of the regulars asked if Dharma did something wrong. "No", I reply rather loudly, "this f@ckin' dog won't leave her the f@uck alone". Ok, so those folks that new me pre-kids know I use to have quite a foul mouth but now that kids are in the picture those words only come out like that when I am pissed and really pissed. Like taking off my earrings and ready to throw down pissed.
I'm still pissed about it as I type this out...oh that 20 something hipster best not cross my path again with his 2 horny-non-neutered male dogs.
If Dharma won't fight back...I will.
(Roars the Mama Lion)

8/14/2008

Painted & Stamped Picture Frame

When we went to AZ to visit the in-laws I was surprised to see this frame that I made my MIL over 8 years ago still on the bookshelf. Don't Jon and I look so young and carefree and how bout that magenta hair!
I started with a plain wood picture frame that had a flat front, scour your local thrift shop there are usually tons of frames to choose from. I then painted the whole thing green and the inside lip of the frame I painted bronze. The leaves are done in acrylic paint with rubber stamps. If you find a frame at the thrift store remember to lightly sand the frame first to get off as much of the finish as you can before painting. Yes, it's that easy!
These make great, inexpensive gifts. It would make a wonderful baby shower gift with a picture of the sonogram and baby themed stamps. Or as a wedding gift with the date stamped on the frame. The possibilities are endless!

8/12/2008

Red Scarf Project

The Orphan Foundation of America does a really cool thing for kids in the foster care system that are going off to college...well they do many cool things but the one worth mentioning here on the blog is the Red Scarf Project. Each student receives a red scarf in the mail while away at school. These kids don't have parents sending them care packages and for Valentine's Day each student from foster care gets a red scarf to warm their hearts and necks.
So all you crocheters and knitters out there reading the blog...pick up some red yarn and get to work! :) Scarves will be accepted from September 1st through October 15, 2008. And since this is a completely volunteer project, if you can , send them a little donation to help with the shipping of the scarves to the students. Guidelines, along with patterns and tags are on the site.

8/11/2008

Evernote


The website evernote.com uses the tag line, "Remember Everything". Now, I'm not convinced the free web and phone application can do that (people who know me, know that I can forget the name of the person I am talking to) but I do think it is a great tool for web surfers that like to collect information to use at another time.

Example. I like to search and read several recipes for the same dish - so that I can compare and contrast everything from ingredients to cooking techniques. Evernote notes makes it a breeze to clip these recipes (including pictures) and keep them in a virtual notebook. Negating the need for me to make frivolous bookmarks that I might never click on again.

After you install Evernote, be sure to add the Evernote icon onto your web browser menu bar (works best with Mozilla Firefox). Now, when you are surfing the web and stumble across an image you like or some fuzzy yarn you might like to buy, simply highlight the information and click the icon to save it into your virtual notebook. Later, when you want to retrive the items you've collected, the application allows you to search for it by keywords, tags you create, or even a timeline (for when you sorta remember when you saved it). It also has a variety of options that allow you to organize what you capture into notebooks and by the previously mentioned tags.

If the web application wasn't cool enough, the application that you can install on smart phones has made Evernote one of the top downloaded iphone applications to date. The simple interface on the iphone makes it a snap to photograph anything you want to capture in the real world by taking a quick phone photo. Have you ever been at a high-end store and seen something you could easily make yourself? (That is, if you remember you saw it.) Or, have you ever seen a sign for an upcoming Gargage Sale but when the day comes you can remember where you wrote the address down? Evernote allows you to snap a photo and instantly send it to your virtual notebook. The phone application also comes in handy when you find yourself in the actual world wanting to show someone an item you have captured in your virtual notebook.

There are plenty of other cool functions that currently make Evernote one my favorite websites/applications ...I just hope I don't forget my login and password.

Kid's Mini Book




My cousin, Angie, who lives in Georgia was in town visiting the family and her daughter, sweet, little Emily's 2nd birthday was celebrated. As you know I am making all of my gifts this year and since this was planned at the last minute I needed a last minute gift to make. I made a very easy mini book for her. Using small file folders and binder rings (found at an office supply store) I created a book to learn colors and numbers. Each page I photoshoped the picture to be an entire color over the image and then used scraps of card stock to decorate. The giraffe on the orange page is actually from a Toys R Us advertisement I got in the mail. Each page has a picture of a family member so not only will she learn colors, numbers and shapes she'll also learn the faces of her family in Maryland.

8/10/2008

Craft Girl!


2 posts in one morning!!! No I am not trying to be an overachiever...just wanted to share a picture with you from my son Logan's Superhero Birthday Party. Everyone was asked to dress up as a superhero. I created "Craft Girl"! I appliqued a C and G and then embroidered the words "craft girl" on a plain t-shirt. I made a utility belt and attached random craft items...hot glue gun, tag of buttons, shoe lace, pipe cleaner, scrapbook circle template, fabric flowers, crochet hook and paperclips. The arm you can't see has a crochet half sleeve and the other arm has a fabric measuring strip wrapped around which kinda made me feel like a heroin addict and it also wasn't that comfortable so it didn't last long. But the overall affect is nice.
So if you ever need a quick costume for Halloween you are welcome to reinvent "Craft Girl". And I'd love to see pictures!

Patchwork Valance


I recently made a patchwork valance for our living room. Loving how it turned out. I used scraps of fabric and upholstery fabric samples that I had on hand and mimicked the design of our area rug. I put buttonholes along the top to attach it to the nails I hammered in along the window frame. I then hot glued buttons to the front of the nails. The entire thing was made from supplies I had on hand and basically cost nothing to make, other than my time. And it only took a day to finish it.

8/09/2008

Biking the day away

Well as you can tell I am back from biking in Meyersdale PA. The first full day there I set off with my parents on a "short" ride. When I asked them how long we'd be riding, keep in mind I'm towing kids in a bike trailer and wanted to pack enough snacks and stuff for them to do (books and leapster games etc.). Well my parents replied "it's a short ride...12 miles or so". I felt as though I was 10 years old again, on a no speed bike, being lied to...and sure enough as we biked along and reached mile 7 I asked when we were going to turn around and go back. Well the "short" ride turned into 26 miles. Thankfully my mom pulled one of the kids in her bike trailer. But I have to say pulling a 50 pound kid is no easy feat, especially on a trail that is a constant incline for 12 miles. The next day my arse was so sore I had to take the day off from biking, also my 2 other sisters arrived with their daughters. Saturday, the grandparents watched the 3 younger kids while my sisters and their daughters and I went on a 45 mile ride!!! After pulling kids in a bike trailer for the last 5 years every time I got on a bike...and then just riding alone.....I felt like I could ride forver. No joke. I wasn't even tired or sore.
The trip was wonderful. The weather was fantastic. And the views were amazing. It was a rude awakening how plugged in I am most of the day on the computer. Went through a bit of internet withdraw. So I am vowing to spend less time online. We shall see how long that lasts. :)
One of the coolest sites are the windmills. Meryersdale, Pa is the highest point in PA and the electric company is ahead of it's game with the windmills. Isn't that view amazing!

8/08/2008

Until we meet again, Beauty.


Last night my parents and I had to make the hardest decision when you own a pet. Beauty could no longer move her back legs and we had to make the decision to have Beauty put to sleep. For those of you who never met Beauty, I adopted her while in college at Point Park. She was quickly the PPC mascot, attending all the parties and was often seen roaming about friends houses. When I left to live in NYC, my mom and dad took over Beauty's care and she has lived there since. Beauty was 13 years old and lived a very full life.
Till we meet again, Beauty.

8/07/2008

Mrs. Benyi's Garden Rocks!


We recently went to visit one set of grandparents in Ohio and made sure to drop by our adoptive grandparents house the Benyi family. Mrs. Benyi has the most serene, beautiful garden I have ever seen. There are many little places to sit and reflect or grab a book and relax. The hanging swings on the porch are perfect for chit chatting while the wee ones enjoy the pond, equipped with fish who eat Cheerios! The work she has put into this outdoor living space truly reflects her love of gardening...it's an inspiration to us all.

8/06/2008

Thank You Cards


Though they haven't been mailed yet, wanted to share the thank you cards I made for Zane's b-day. I like to include a picture that truly captures the child and this photo of Zane captures him right now. He is so into bubbles this summer. The design is pretty simple and basic. And took hardly any time to actually make. So don't put off writing a thank you note, the recipient will love it.

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