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.

9/24/2009

Travel Books for Kids



It has always been hard to take Logan to places where it's going to be crowded and noisy. Typically he would end up laid out on the floor or under a piece of furniture, emotionally at his limit and at a moments notice would break out in tears. Completely overstimulated. The thing is though we, the rest of the family, need to go out and experience life with crowds. We had to find a balance.
So I started creating these little travel books. I make them for museums that we go to or county fairs and even, in this case, a book festival that my husband is taking the boys to this weekend. Logan loves maps so I always include one, whether it's a map of the art exhibits or the subway map. I also pull pictures from the internet of things he might see along his way or actual paintings at the museum. Sort of like a search and find. He becomes so focused on finding the items on his page that he isn't affected by the crowds and noise. It has made our family outings heavenly.
For these books I put the pages in 5 1/2 x 8 inch page protectors that you can get at any office supply store and bound them with a pipe cleaner. I love pipe cleaners! At the end of the day when everyone is cranky and ready to go home a single pipe cleaner on the subway home can save you...it can become anything you want it to be...a person, a bug, a sword...endless entertainment opportunities!
These books are great for any child, on the Autism spectrum or not. They are great on car rides too! And if you put the pages you make in page protectors you can reuse them the next time you go to that museum or drive to the in-laws.

9/23/2009

"I am..." Mini Book



For a friend's birthday I made her an "I am..." mini book highlighting the qualities that I love about her, the parts of her personality that inspires me and makes me thankful to have her in my life. I used mini file folders as the dividers for each section and added inspirational quotes and photos that coordinate with each section... Friend, Courageous, Adventurous and Dreamer.

The front and back of the mini book are actually the backing from one of those scrapbook paper Stacks. I bound it using binder rings (such a fan!) and I recycled parts of my Soul Beautiful calendar, Gia picked such awesome quotes for that calendar that I adhered them to card stock and made inspirational tags out of them. The paper and embellishments were just pulled from my collection. The book was easy to put together and a fun way to honor someone you care about...add it to your Christmas craft list.

9/22/2009

First Day of Fall


Today is the official first day of fall, I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to summer..hence my picture. I hope fall is a fresh, new beginning for all of you. Full of laughter, inspiration and warm baked goodness. Happy Fall!!

9/17/2009

Creamy Pasta Sauce

Everyone has their "quick" recipes when they just need to get dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. Well this is typically what you will find on our table, whole wheat pasta with a creamy sauce. It's low in fat and high in protein. It's the perfect sauce to hide things in if you have picky eaters like I do. I often add rice protein powder and/or cauliflower to this sauce without anyone ever knowing. This sauce is a lifesaver when I have surprise dinner guests at the last minute and need to feed more people fast. To make the sauce all you need is a food processor, while the pasta is cooking in a large pot pulse 1 cup of walnuts in the food processor so that it's finely chopped then add
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit if you are feeding kids)
2 Tablespoons rice protein powder

Heat in a saucepan and serve over pasta.

9/16/2009

Free Range Parenting


My friend Dawn loaned me her copy of Free Range Kids (and one of these days Dawn I will return it). I'll be honest I did a lot of skimming but the overall message has really stuck with me. I'm a helicopter mom. I admit it. I hover. And not to make excuses but mainly it's because for so many years I've had to help Logan navigate the playground. Some habits are hard to break, but neither Logan or Zane really need me to hover any longer.
A few weekends ago two of my friends were competing in a volleyball tournament and I really wanted to go and support them but I knew Logan would never be able to handle the environment. So Jon and I decided to divide and conquer.
And I was able to try a little free range parenting. It was so relaxing to lay on a blanket, under a tree, chatting with my girlfriend while the sound of the volleyball tournament lapped over me like waves at the beach. There was a playground but it was about 100 feet away from the blanket under the tree, Zane was begging to go down the slide. It was in a location that kids could only come and go out of one area...only had 2 or 3 other kids playing on it..I could see it clearly from the blanket...so I did what I've never done before...I told Zane to go ahead and play while I watched from afar. I've never done that. HUGE moment for me folks!! And guess what?!?! Zane and I both had a fantastic time! Slowly I'm trying to release a bit more and hover less on a daily basis. It's going to take some time, we are all still learning and growing but I'm really excited about the independent children they will become when they are ready. No rush though.

9/15/2009

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins


I hosted my knitting group this week which always motivates me to turn on the oven and whip up something yummy. These muffins were a huge hit and took no time to make. I like to use mini muffin tins to make it easier for the ladies to pop one in their mouth mid row.

Preheat over 400 degrees.
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberries, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool before taking out of muffin tins.

9/14/2009

My love of Self Help Books

I have a love affair with self help books. And I know I am not the only one cause that section in the bookstore is huge. Crazy...scary huge. Every once in a while I feel like I need to recharge, get connected again spiritually with myself.
Pull back and tune in.
Sometimes I start a book and then don't finish it, abandoning it until the need to connect arises again. All summer I've been reading I Will Not Die an Unlived Life and trust me it's not a huge book that it takes all summer, I've just chosen to take my time with it. To honestly think about each chapter and digest it. I like that the author, Dawna Markova, is also asking herself the same questions she asks of the reader. She is on the journey with you, sharing her experience of reconnecting with herself while on a writer's retreat.
If you are feeling the calling to set life aside for a bit and reconnect with your spirit, to reclaim purpose and passion...pick up this book, it will fuel you.

9/11/2009

Arrow Bike Shop

Things have been a bit quiet here @ CocktailMom, have you noticed? I wish I could report that I was off doing something extremely exciting, but I wasn't. Nope. The sad truth is that on that awesome 63 mile bike ride through PA to see covered bridges I pinched a nerve in my hand. And then biking 17 miles the following week for the Iron Girl Triathlon made matters worse. So I've been in a brace, taking meds and trying to rest my hand. Harder than you think, let me tell you!

Clearly the pinched nerve is the result of not being in the proper position while riding my bike. I headed over to my favorite local bike shop, Arrow Bicycles, and got professionally fitted. Chris, one of the owners, made some major adjustments and made me aware of some of my bad habits that I need to correct. Gripping the handlebars, holding tension in my shoulders and not keeping my back straight. If only I had him next to me while I rode to remind me. I highly suggest anyone riding a bike, even casually, to get fitted for their bike. As Arrow's website says "Bike Fit is a marriage of bicycle and rider. While the human body does an incredible job of adapting, it is our job as fitters to adjust the bicycle to the rider and not the rider to the bicycle. The bicycle should be an extension of the rider and reflect his or her riding style."

Me and my bike are now officially married and I am ready to ride more efficiently and without pain, hopefully.
If only this rain would end.

9/04/2009

2010 Calendar Brushes for Photoshop

Yes I am already making Christmas gifts, it is September people!! Every year I make calendars for a handful of people, here you can see my previous post about it. This year I wanted to do something a bit different and I am not going to give it away just yet since some of the recipients of the calendar read my blog, but I found these awesome Photoshop calendar brushes for free from coolestbrushes.com and I had to share. You don't even have to be into scrapbooking to do this one. Click the download button and it will import into your brushes in Photoshop. Then layer the brush tool in Photoshop onto a picture like I did above, you could easily take those images to Kinkos and have them bound for you to make a calendar. Talk about a simple and quick Christmas gift..or teacher gift!

Here is what the website says: "A set of 12 high resolution calendar brushes for Adobe Photoshop. One brush for each month. The width for each brush is approx 2500px - they're very big and versatile.
Brushes are free for Personal use only."

I am so excited about this, already I have ideas of layouts with the month overlay on the picture. So many options!!!

9/03/2009

FREE 5x5 Custom Photo book!!


Free 5x5 photo book from MemoryEscape expires September 14, 2009.
Coupon code: ONPFREE5E
Hurry and get those pictures uploaded. I haven't received mine yet but the shipping was only $4.99 for a 21 page book. I also can't say a thing about the quality because this company is new to me also, but for 5 bucks it's worth a shot. They don't have as many cool choices as some of the other photo book websites but you can easily create a very simplistic brag book for any grandparent on your Gift Giving List. Think holiday shopping, 5 dollars and you can cross someone off the list in an hour!

9/02/2009

Easy Tortellini Salad

This summer I haven't cooked much, with the heat in MD the last thing I've wanted to do was to be in a hot kitchen. We've been doing a lot of easy dinners, salads, sandwiches etc. Recently I made a yummy pasta salad that was super simple. It was so good I never got a picture of it to share with you all, sorry about that.

All you need is a few ingredients:
2 bags frozen tortellini
1 small container cherry tomatoes
box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 jar Safeway Select Italian Parmesan Salad dressing

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Add all other remaining ingredients. Toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Seriously it doesn't get any easier than that!

9/01/2009

Field Bag

Logan's birthday recently passed and this year I decided to do things a bit low key. Instead of a big party I opted to invite two families over, each with 2 kids, for dinner on a weeknight. Dinner was Costco pizza followed by ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. All the kids came in their pajamas and after dinner they enjoyed a movie rented from redbox while the parents enjoyed cocktails and conversation. Possibly the best kid birthday party, low stress and I got to visit with friends too! Speaking of friends, I feel so fortunate to have such talented friends. Jen made Logan a field bag packed with colored pencils and notepads. Here is the blog where she got the idea from with directions on how to make your own. I love that it's recycled from a pair cargo pants. Great idea for a little girl too.

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