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.

12/30/2008

Grocery List Notepad


I saw this on The Small Object (I copied her text which I hope was OK) and knew it would make a great addition to my Christmas presents this year. I followed The Small Object directions and bought the Lithco Compound that she mentions but I chose the white which actually dries clear. For the backing I cut up a cereal box and adhered the magnet. This is the magnet I used because they are super strong, plus it just doesn't get any easier than peel and stick...right now I need easy. I see many notepads in my future because there is a ton of this compound left over. It doesn't even look like I used any of it. Notepads for everyone! :)


12/29/2008

Christmas Craft: Kitchen items

This year I decided to give gifts that would play an important role in the room where everyone ends up piling in...the kitchen. I'm often surprised how many people end up in our teeny tiny kitchen, but there is something about a kitchen that draws people in. Patchwork pot holders, matching towels and dishcloths appeared under many trees. Here is a sample of a set I made, each gift I used different fabric. For the inside of the pot holders I used 3 layers of fleece, it's much cheaper than batting. And the towels I purchased in a huge lot at Costco. An added bonus is that all of the fabric is from scraps. All in all a very low cost, crafty Christmas!

12/27/2008

Box Tops for Education


I think every school collects box tops. Box tops can be found on the packaging of many of your favorite products, from Cheerios® to Ziploc® bags. If you don't have kids, collect box tops anyhow and reward your favorite child relative with a bag full of box tops. Most schools offer rewards for the amount of box tops collected by a classroom. My niece's school rewards the class with a pizza party, my son's school rewards with an additional recess. An added bonus is that many of the box tops have a far in the future expiration date, so it gives you time to collect them.
And free money for any school is well worth the effort.

12/24/2008

Granola

I can't believe I've never made granola before this week. So please excuse me if you are a granola expert, and if you are... please post your recipe in the comments. But this week, with the kids home we've been doing a lot of baking. Here is the recipe I used.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
5 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Add in only the last 15 mins of cooking:
1/2 cup raisins
handful of chocolate chips
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup coconut

Mix brown sugar, oil and honey in saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients in large cake pan. Pour sugar mixture over dry mix and mix well. Bake at 375 for 15 mins. Take pan out of oven and stir, add remaining ingredients and bake for 15 mins more.
Store in an airtight container.

Granola would also make a great last minute hostess gift along with a box of tea or some coffee for the "morning after" a party gift.

12/23/2008

Oatmeal Bread: Bread Machine Recipe

I bought our bread machine to make Logan's gluten free bread, I've been using it for months and never thought to make the rest of the family bread too. I've been getting tired of scones and muffins for breakfast, I thought a nice bread with honey, that I recently purchased at a craft show, sounded like a delightful way to start the day . I was surprised that there were no eggs in the recipe, regardless it turned out wonderful. I got the recipe from the back of the bag of King Arthur Bread Flour.

3 cups (13.5 oz) Bread Flour
1 cup (3.5 oz) Rolled Oats
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons (.75 oz) Honey
2 1/4 teaspoons (.25 oz) Instant Yeast (not rapid-rise) or 1 pkt Dry Active Yeast*
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) Lukewarm Water
1/4 cup (.25 oz) Dry Milk Powder
Place wet ingredients in the machine first, followed by the dry and adding the yeast on the top.

12/22/2008

Marvel Comic Book Subscriptions for Kids


If you need a last minute gift for a superhero lover in your life, I highly recommend getting a comic book subscription. Both of my boys get a Marvel Adventures comic book in the mail each month. What kid doesn't enjoy getting mail? And I feel as though I'd rather my kids read about superheros instead of watching shows about them. All in all it's good content. Recently an issue was about recycling and the heroes are, of course, always doing the right thing. These comics are geared towards kids, all ages, make sure to check the rating before buying. So you don't have to worry about any porn like pictures.
Picture from the Marvel website.

12/19/2008

Zoe's Birthday Doll




I've never made a doll before and one of our favorite friends recently turned 4, Zoe= sister/twin of Nathaniel mentioned in an earlier post.
I knew I wanted to make a doll for Zoe. She's a girly girl and I never get the chance to craft girly stuff. The doll is made from recycled materials and leftover scraps of fabric. Her head, for example, is made from an old t-shirt that Zane outgrew. I crocheted her purple hair and stitched it on her head. Her face is embroidered by hand and I added purple glasses since Zoe wears glasses. The shirt and dress are made from scraps of fabric from my stash, and I added a vintage button in Zoe's favorite color-PINK.
My favorite part of the doll is her flower tattoo. Both of Zoe's mamas have tattoos on their arms so if any girl could have a tattooed doll it would be Zoe.
It was hard giving her up, I enjoyed seeing her in my craft room, but I'm so happy to make something special for Zoe. Who, as one of her mamas told me she has named the doll Gretchen! Love that!!

12/18/2008

Autism: Learning to Read Video

When you put 2 great minds together, amazing things happen. I honestly believe a higher power was involved with matching Jon and I up, and then delivering us Logan. We work so well together and together we are advocates for our sons and their learning. Logan has been struggling in Kindergarten, there is a team of folks, who are awesome, that offer him various services throughout the week. But the one area that he has had a hard time with is learning to read. He doesn't comprehend why you would want to rhyme, sounding things out is too much processing for him right now. Other kids in his class can read and write and he's not doing either. It's been a huge blow to his self esteem. Which crushes Jon and I. So we came up with this idea one night over a bottle of wine...to make a video of all the words he is expected to learn to read by the end of Kindergarten. See, when Logan was around 2 we started to notice more things were a bit "off" compared to his peers and the big red flag was his memory. The kid can memorize like no one I've ever known. At 2 (and even now) he can watch a 30 minute show and 5 minutes later recite the whole thing back to you. And once it's in that brain of his, it's in there forever. Which is both a brilliant thing and a curse...for those times when I didn't have my best parenting moments. :) So the video is not just the words on the screen because we knew the only way to truly capture his attention is to then provide a short reward video. My hubby did an awesome job putting this project all together while I threw out the design ideas and asking "can you do this...". We are wrapping it up and putting it under the tree and hoping it will be the video that gets a lot of action in our DVD player. If any local folks want a copy for their kindergarten kids please let me know and I'll hand it off to you at the school drop off.

12/17/2008

Christmas Craft is OVER!

Hallelujah! I finally finished all of my Christmas crafts! Some I abandoned and now they are on my to-do list for the kids' birthdays. I made 9 calendars this year and I've promised myself to make the calendars simple next year. I'm scaling back because they are so labor intensive being completely made by hand that I end up dreading making them.

I'll start sharing the details of the rest of the gifts once Christmas approaches. This year everyone got the same exact thing, fabric styles were different per person. I highly suggest trying this because it's so much easier to reproduce the same thing 9 times. I know it's not as fun but the gifts get made quickly and easily.
Stay tuned for Christmas Craft details!

12/16/2008

Soulbeautiful.org - RE:MIX foster youth programs


My friend Gia has started this remarkable company to help kids in the foster care system to enjoy a wilderness retreat. Watch the video, buy a calendar, help Gia make a difference in the lives of so mnay children who have been forgotten.

12/15/2008

Nathaniel's Schedule Chart





I posted Logan's schedule chart a while back, it has helped immensely with his anxiety over the plan for the day. When our friends are over they always admire Logan's chart and comment how they need to get one for their son, Nathaniel who isn't autistic but also has anxiety about the day. We were recently invited to Nathaniel's b-day party and I knew right away what I'd be making for him. Instead of using Velcro to adhere the pictures, I made vinyl pockets to put each card into and one large pocket to hold all the cards. The entire thing is made from scraps of fabric and quilted together with easy tabs to hang on the wall. I hope Nathaniel enjoys planning his days from now on.

12/12/2008

E.M.Papers- Free Printable Greeting Cards

EM Papers is a bit different from all those other free online cards. These cards you do not send via email but instead print them out and mail them. I'm not a fan at all of the email version of cards...I know it's the more environmentally friendly thing to do but I like getting the snail mail. My inbox gets so bogged down with junk that an email card actually barely gets opened. Whereas the paper counterpart I get excited to see, if it's a cute picture or meaningful message it gets displayed for the month of my bday and then it gets reborn in the scrap paper pile and from there who knows what it will become. But it will become something. :)

I'm going to warn you...I know it's a little odd that on this website you have to add the cards with no price, to your shopping basket and checkout... but the cards are free that do not have a price. Some of the cards clearly say they are $1.50. There isn't a hidden fee for the free cards that will get you in the end or anything, I was kinda expecting that.

Surprise the next person on your birthday list, with a birthday card because 'Birthdays are Better with Botox' as the card above states on the inside. I am so sending this to my MIL, she is going to think this is hilarious!

12/11/2008

GUEST BLOGGER: Jon Skovron (AKA: CocktailDad)

Old School Shaving

shavingLast January, I came across a blog post at zenhabits that suggested a way to save money, save the environment, and have healthier skin all at the same time: shaving the old fashion way, with a real razor. When I mentioned this to Gretchen, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. After all, only a month before, I accidentally drove a screw through my hand while fixing our son’s toy. Once I explained that it wasn’t the folding straight razor, a la Sweeny Todd, but the double-edged “safety razor”, she relaxed a little. And (knock on wood) I’ve been doing it ever since with only a few nicks. And I love it.

One of the key ingredients to old school shaving is what is generally referred to as a wet shave. Using a shaving brush and shaving soap (not that chemical-laden stuff you buy in the can), you make your face so soft and slick that the razor glides across, giving you the smoothest, gentlest shave you’ve ever had. Finish off with a splash of witch hazel as your aftershave, instead of all those scented things that just dry out my skin.The only real expenses are the one-time purchase of the razor handle and the shaving brush. And for those, you can spend as little or as much as you want. My first brush was only $7. It fell apart after a few months, but by then, I was sure that I wanted to commit to this and didn’t mind spending the $20 for a decent brush. The actual razors themselves are only a few bucks for a ten pack (as opposed to $20 for a four pack of Mach 3 disposables). The shaving soap is another dollar or two and one cake will last you at least 3-6 months. That’s also a lot less waste and chemicals you’re putting out into the world.One word of caution. It may seem obvious, but remember that you’re dragging a razor across your face. You can’t just rush through this like you can with the plastic disposables. There is a skill to this that requires patience and practice to learn. It’s a dying art perhaps, and in a way, strangely decadent.If you’re interested in embarking on this journey, or perhaps you’re desperate for a last minute gift item for one of those hard to shop for guys, there are a lot of great videos out there that can help you (or them) get started.

12/09/2008

Creating Holiday Traditions

This will be the first Christmas since Jon and I have been together that we are spending it in our house. That's 8 years of traveling folks! I'm so excited for Christmas morning, hearing the boys pitter patter down the steps to see the presents under our tree. I want to make this Christmas special. And I also want to create some holiday traditions. So this year I decided to make 25 of these blue felt stars to decorate our tree. On each star there is an embroidered word that Jon and I came up with together that reminds us of the holiday season. Everyday the boys take turns to hang a star on the tree and we talk about the word, what it means, how we can demonstrate that into our lives. Every other year we will celebrate in Arizona with Jon's parents but I hope when the boys look back on the years we spend in our house that they will remember it fondly.

12/08/2008

Eating out of the Pantry

We went out of town that day after Thanksgiving and the week before the trip I concentrate on eating what is in the fridge before food goes bad. I'm sure many of you do this or else you give the food away so someone else can enjoy it. (Thanks Wendy for those veggies, remind me to tell you about the radishes!)
We arrived back from our trip and I haven't had the time to go to the grocery store or Costco. I've been volunteering at Logan's school for the Scholastic Book Fair and also the sickness/cold that has been making it's rounds in the neighborhood has hit our house too. So there I am on Thursday wondering what in the hell am I going to eat for lunch. I scrounge the fridge. the pantry and I come up with a bean-tomato-cheese-quesadilla. Not too shabby for only having a can of black beans, a can of stewed tomatoes, a garlic and remnants of 2 kinds of cheeses and flour burritos. I added some taco seasoning and I must admit it was quite good. And I still have leftovers of the beans and tomatoes that I can use for a dinner. I'm always curious to see how long we can actually go before running to the store. (This happens to me often, here and here.) Jon might have his dream come true-a plate of meat for dinner since I have a whole turkey in the freezer that needs cooked.

12/05/2008

An Animal Encyclopedia is a MUST HAVE for every house

One of the things I find so fascinating about autism is how obsessed with a subject matter kids on the spectrum become. Logan has gone through many interesting subject matters, and when he is interested in something he dives head first. One of our recent interests was butterflies. He had to know everything there was about the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Currently he has moved on to spiders. We read books about spiders, watch movies and pretend play we are spiders. While at Borders, in the bargain section, I recently stumbled upon this awesome Animal Encyclopedia. Sadly I can't find it anywhere online but I'm sure this one is just as good though I haven't seen it for myself. An animal encyclopedia is a perfect coffee table book to have out all the time, in our house the boys can look up an animal and we then curl up on the couch and read cool facts. So if you have some kids that you need to buy gifts for, skip the plastic crap made in china and head to the book store. If a child is past reading board books, I would suggest buying an animal encyclopedia book. Any child, boy or girl from ages 3 -10 years old will find something that interests them and it may spark a bit of family time too.

12/04/2008

A gift of Peace: Christmas Ornament


I'm making ornaments for stocking stuffers this year. I've never actually made an ornament before, and I really like the quick craft time it takes to produce the finished product. I've adorned this wooden block with scraps of paper from my scrap booking stash. It's a perfect way for me to use the tiny pieces I hate to throw in the recycling bin. My favorite part of the ornament is the vintage button on the top. I've inherited my mother's button collection, which is more than one woman can use on clothing in her lifetime even if she's making clothes for her entire family of 4. So I'm excited to put them to good use too. I hope this gift of peace finds you well.

12/03/2008

Matchbook Notepad


It's really hard to share my crafting posts right now because I'm currently making Christmas gifts. Hopefully I'll have them wrapped up and finished after this weekend, I hate when I'm still making gifts all the way to Christmas. I prefer to have some time to sit back and enjoy the holiday music, pull out the 2 sticks and cast on. With nothing in particular in mind...just to sit and knit next to the Christmas tree. Ah it's a moment in time I'd like to bottle up and keep in my pocket for those days when I feel like my head may explode.

Here is something that everyone will be getting in their Christmas Stocking this year, a Matchbook Notepad. I used 2 scraps of scrapbook paper and card stock and adhered them back to back to each other. Adding paper that I've collected for recycling, a bit of folding and a staple and you are done. Simple. Yet great to stuff in your purse or back pocket to jot down quick notes or to do lists.

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