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.

3/31/2009

Welcome to Spring!

For those of you who use a RSS feed reader, head over to the blog and take a look at the new spring header. Sorry I'm a bit late, we've been dealing with strep throat. Poor Zane woke one morning and was covered in hives. Doesn't he look so sad and pathetic in this picture, oh breaks your heart a bit huh? Thankfully he is now on the mend, on the antibiotics and beginning to act a bit more like himself. You would think a sore throat would stop someone from talking...not my Zane! Nothing can stop him...a true sign he has a bit of me in him.
Happy spring to you all, I hope your families are well and enjoying the much needed sunshine!

3/30/2009

Ikea Fira storage gets a facelift!

I picked up this Ikea storage unit from...can you guess?!?! Yes Freecycle! You can also still buy it at Ikea. I've seen some really amazing creations on the web, here and here. So I grabbed some scrapbook paper that I like but I'm tired of using in my layouts, does this happen to anyone other than me? I then used the Xyron permanent adhesive roll and basically made stickers that I then adhered to the drawers. It was incredibly easy and was done in an hour. Turned out pretty cute too!

3/27/2009

Strawberry Bread

I bought one of those giant bags of frozen strawberries at Costco with the intention of making smoothies every morning. I don't know what I was thinking. There is no possible way I can make a smoothie, breakfast for 2 very hungry boys, pack lunch, and book bag all within a 45 minute time frame. So I've been getting creative in the kitchen, trying to use up this bag of strawberries.
Whenever I stay at some one's house overnight I always bring some sort of breakfast bread or muffin and this bread was a huge hit at Auntie's house this past weekend.

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs beaten
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil 2 9x5 inch loaf pans. Slice strawberries and place in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle lightly with sugar, set aside. In a different bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and mix well. Add oil, eggs and strawberries and mix until all the ingredients are moistened. Stir in pecans, if you are using them. Divide batter into pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean from the center of the loaf. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 mins. turn loaves out and cool completely.

3/25/2009

Thrift Stores in NYC




The family and I have just returned from a mini vacation in New York. My husband's family is in Long Island and we went to celebrate Grandma's 91st birthday, Jon also had meetings with his agent and editor and such too. When my Mother-in-law, who was also in town from AZ for the birthday bash, offered to watch the kids so I could go into the city with Jon while he was at meetings I jumped for joy. It isn't often I get this opportunity and I couldn't decide what I wanted to do..thrift shops or trim store..fabric stores or used bookshop?!?!

I only had 3 hours!

I decided to head over to Gramercy Park and hit some of my favorite thrift stores. I use to work in Gramercy Park and many people who visit NYC never go into this area because it's mostly a business area. When I lived in NYC I use to love to walk around Gramercy Park on a Sunday when everything is closed and you can walk for blocks and not see anyone, this is a big deal in the city since having the opportunity to be alone hardly ever happens.
It was so nice to see that some of my favorite places were still there like Frank's Pizza. And I almost had to have a slice but then thought of all the crunches I'd have to do to make up for it so I kept walking, down to a little thai place, Viang Ping, that has great food and is also affordable. After lunch I was ready to shop. All within a block are 4 awesome thrift stores, head to 23rd between 2nd and 3rd aves. First I went to City Opera thrift store where you will find some awesome vintage pieces. Literally next door are a goodwill and a salvation army that are totally rockin'. Not only will you find someone's last season sweater but you will also always find SAMPLE pieces. I don't know if this is because 23rd st is so close to the fashion district or what. But I get giddy when I see the big letters in sharpie on the inside of a piece of clothing. I've found up and coming designer's SAMPLE clothes in these racks and this trip I scored a Club Monaco floral SAMPLE skirt. Across the street from these 3 stores is Housing Works, not only a great thrift store but it feels good to shop there. This organization provides services to homeless men, women and children who are living with HIV or AIDS in NYC.

So if you ever find yourself in NYC and want to do something a bit different, spend a few hours in Gramercy Park. And after hitting the thrift shops walk a few blocks to The Strand and waste away a few more hours in the dark corners of this awesome used bookstore.

3/20/2009

FREE Italian Ice today!

Not only is it one of my bestest friends birthdays today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY WENDY!!) but Rita's, the ice folks, are giving away free Italian ice! Oh Yummy goodness!

Here is what they say:

For the past 16 years, Rita's has been giving away a free, regular size Italian Ice to each and every guest to mark the first day of spring! This is a sweet date for Italian Ice lovers, as each year, hundreds of thousands of our guests visit Rita's in search of the first taste of spring. A Philadelphia-born springtime tradition, the 17th annual Rita's giveaway will be held on
Friday, March 20, 2009 from noon to 10 p.m. at participating Rita's locations. Click here to find your closest Rita's.

3/19/2009

A little something for me...

There are only a few regrets in my life. I try not to allow the past to creep it's way into my current time frame. I won't lie, it happens and I have to rehash the same crap I thought I had worked through years ago. I'm about to turn 33. For some reason this seems like the rebirth of a new me. I feel more in tune with who I am in my spirit, than I have in a long time. As a mom it's hard to remember not to loose yourself..but it happens. You give all you have for your children and when the end of the day rolls around you're exhausted, let's face it. Both physically and emotionally.
I've promised myself in this new year to set aside time and energy just for me. I've started eating healthier and working out. I have more energy and patience now. I feel as though my spirit has awoken from a very long slumber.
So turning this full circle...the regrets. We've moved many times and with each move things get purged. One of my regrets was getting rid of my cowboy hat when we left NYC. I loved that cowboy hat, it was the perfect hat in the summer. Great for bad hair days and keeping the sun out of your face. And because I don't live in Texas it's not what everyone is wearing on their head, so you stand out a bit, which I like. A little silly to consider this a regret??? possibly. But alas, it arrived yesterday by new cowboy hat. An early birthday present to myself. Oh and have I told you what I'm doing for my birthday? Riding a mechanical bull! Oh yeah Baby! Bring it on!!! (are you a little frightened of this new me? haaahaa)

3/18/2009

Flour Tortillas


Every so often Jon gets interested in taking over the kitchen and making something, nowadays it's tortillas. The best part is the boys can help too! Little blue frogs are optional.

3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add vegetable shortening. Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening or just do it the old fashioned
way and use your hands.

Next add warm water a little at a time until your dough is soft and not sticky. Knead the dough for a few minutes.

Now you will pull off pieces of dough to form about 12 small dough balls.
Let them
rest for at least 10 minutes.

This is a good time to heat up the skillet
You will want to set it at medium heat. If it is too hot the tortillas will cook too fast.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured surface.
It is a good
idea to dust each ball with a little flour just before you roll them out. Lay the rolling pin
in the center of the dough ball and roll up, center and roll down. It is good to lift the
dough and turn it. Again, rolling pin in the center and roll. Roll them out fairly thin.

Lay your tortilla in the skillet. It takes just a few seconds to cook. Flip to the other
side. When they are done it should have lots of nice brown speckles.

And you are done.
We keep them in a Ziploc bag for about a week. Warming under the broiler when we want to eat them. ENJOY!

3/17/2009

Free training socks from Lucy

Big thanks to Jenn for pointing this out to me. Free 2 pack of training socks at a $14 value, just print this coupon and take it to any Lucy store. No purchase necessary. Hurry! Expires March 22nd, 2009. For those of you in MD you can hit the Lucy store and the Victoria's Secret in Annapolis to take advantage of these free offers.

3/16/2009

Victoria Secret Printable Coupon $10 off Bras

Print out this coupon and take it to your local Victoria's Secret to get $10 off any full priced bra and get a free cotton panty ( up to a $8.50 value). What woman doesn't want a new bra and panty set?!?! With my body taking new shape (in a good way!) I'm very eager to get some new bras. Is that too much information?!?!

Limit one offer per customer per day while quantities last. Not valid at outlet stores or with other coupons.

And the best part is I don't see an experiation date anywhere. So be sure to bookmark this page for future use!

3/13/2009

Journey in Pictures






Now that we have had a break in the weather, the boys and I enjoy heading into the woods next to our house. There we talk about natural resources and watch spring take shape. Amazing questions are asked and together we imagine being small and living in a tree stump. We count logs and watch bugs collect food. With sword and shield in hand we discover the world right outside our front door.

3/12/2009

Blog Friends

Blogs are funny, strange creatures. I read a bunch of blogs of varying topics on a daily basis and as I read them I feel as though I know that person. Some of those bloggers have started reading my blog and now they too feel as though they know me. And in a way they do. I am always honest on here, I try and write as if I am talking to you. The people who know me in "real life" I think would attest to this. The thing you are missing as a blog reader is my loud laughter, hand movements and bouncing personality. But other than that....So a blog friend, Leah, and I got together recently at her house in the city. We have never met in person but we have been reading each others blogs. When I told people that I was meeting another blogger the response was shocking.."you are doing what?!?!", "don't you think that is a bit dangerous?", "call me when you get back!". I'm not for the conventional so maybe it is a bit odd to meet someone you've never met in person before at their house. But to me it seemed like a great way to spend a Friday afternoon. And guess what! I had a blast and so did Zane. Leah has a son that is also Zane's age and the 2 of them were so cute navigating the city sidewalks together. Taking a leap out of the box has created a great new friendship. Thanks Leah for a great day, let's do again soon!

3/11/2009

Peter Pan Peanut Butter Deal @ Safeway this week!

This deal is totally worth a trip to Safeway, in their weekly specials paper there is a store coupon for Peter Pan peanut butter for 99 cents. Pair it with this manufacturer coupon from the Peter Pan website for 50 cents off. Almost all Safeway stores double coupons up to 99 cents. Are you seeing where I am going here....FREE peanut butter!
OK so maybe you are into organic peanut butter or don't eat peanut butter all that often. Think of your church pantry, or a local homeless shelter. I'm sure at some point your child's school will have a bake sale, and you can make peanut butter cookies!
You don't have to spend a certain amount to use the coupon and in the fine print it says one per transaction. I headed over to the self serve checkout and did a few transactions on my own.

3/10/2009

Make your own Laundry Soap

You will not believe how easy it is to make your own laundry soap. After my google search I found a ton of recipes involving boiling soap, buckets..I don't have the time for all that crap. I need simple and easy and CHEAP! And then I found it on one of the blogs I regularly read, Our Yellow House.
All you need is featured in the photo: castile soap, Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and Borax. Just mix one cup of the washing soda and one cup of borax in a container with a lid. Grate one entire bar of castile soap. Mix. And you are done. Seriously it doesn't get easier than that. And it's even fun for kids to do! I use 2 tablespoons per load. On heavy soiled clothes with grass stains, I do have boys afterall, I also throw in some Oxi Clean.
This is great for your wallet and the environment.
For any local folks I purchased the borax and washing soda at the co-op and the soap was cheaper at MOM's.

3/09/2009

Crayon Rocks!

I fellow reader brought these soy crayon rocks to my attention. Thank you anonymous commenter! They are so awesome! Both boys are enjoying them and it's making homework much more enjoyable.

This is from their website:
  • Soy crayons are made from renewable soybeans grown in the USA and are colored with natural mineral powders. Conforms to ASTM D 4236.

  • Designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles, preparing fingers and hands for handwriting skills

  • Specially shaped to allow small fingers to color in large, wide strokes, promoting confidence in creating kids' art.

  • Used by occupational therapists and teachers of children with special needs to develop fine motor skills and provide handwriting practice
They are totally affordable and made in the USA. Love that!

3/05/2009

Cardboard Hang Glider

My husband, Jon, is good at many things but he rocks it out with a box cutter! This past weekend he created this glider for the boys. Hours of time entertained with it, it cost nothing and now it is awaiting it's destiny with the recycling bin. Love that!
What have you made out of cardboard to entertain your kids on a rainy/snowy cold day?

3/04/2009

30 day Shred!

I'm not a huge fan of workout videos. I'm more of a collector. They become fixtures on the top of the DVD player in their neat little stack. Barely getting a moment in the spotlight.

Well all that has changed.
I took a good look at myself in the mirror and I knew I had gained weight but I was totally in denial on how much. I haven't done anything physical since the triathlon and I signed up to do it again this summer with 2 of my girlfriends. We are doing a relay, and I am doing the swim. Last year I did the one mile swim in 22 minutes and my goal is to knock it down to 15. Time to get this butt in gear.

And Jillian Michaels is doing just that. If you want a jump start on your workout I highly suggest her 30 day Shred DVD. I've only done 2 days and already I can feel a difference. Granted I can barely walk, my legs and butt are so sore. I am sore in places that I didn't know was possible. Seriously though even after 2 days I am holding my body differently, stomach feels firmer, my body feels strong. I like this feeling.

Because we all know exercise is not the only component to loosing weight, I am tracking the food I put into my mouth on a daily basis on Gyminee. And because I am keeping track of everything that crosses my lips I am actually eating smaller portions and I turned down a Girl Scout cookie because I didn't want to have to account for it!

I took before pictures but no one will be seeing those until the after pictures are amazing! Set up the camera and take a front and back picture of yourself in a bathing suit, just looking at my pictures will motivate me to drop and do 25 sit ups.

3/03/2009

30 looks sweet!

My cousin, Jonathan, recently turned 30. You know how it is... guys are so hard to shop for or to even come up with something to make. Jonathan recently married Sarah (my new favorite family member) so they are pretty stocked up on house stuff and all that. So instead of buying crap that would clutter up their lives I chose to give the gift of food, and junk food at that!

I had my hubby cut out the 30 and make the box for me out of cardboard and then I hot glued some fabric that I had from my stash to it. I had the kids help me fill each bag with 30 treats. There were 30 twizzlers, 30 pretzels, 30 combos, 30 m-n-m's...etc. I love how I can trick the kids into doing something fun and learning at the same time! To close each bag we sealed it with a Curious George sticker, a character Jonathan loved as a child.

All in all a very fun and thoughtful gift.

3/02/2009

Preteen gift in under an hour

My niece just turned 13 and is showing an interest in makeup. As one of the only makeup wearing women in our family I knew exactly what I wanted to make Alsasha for her birthday. A makeup bag!
It is made entirely of fabric from my fabric scraps. I used a piece of home decor fabric for the outside and lined the inside with an orange cotton, sandwiched between the layers is cotton batting and a vintage button from my collection adds that final sparkle that the bag needed. I then filled it with some eyeshadow that I knew she would like.
I got that "your the coolest aunt ever" smile after she opened it...priceless!

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