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.

1/25/2011

Routine

The Mormons made the most beautiful building that so many folks, like myself, get to look forward to seeing everyday.  Placement of it on the beltway, height of the trees around it, how the sun hits it in the morning and then again in the evening....absolutely brilliant!

1/24/2011

God Box

I read this article on Real Simple about a woman who's mother passed away and in her passing the daughter unearthed the God Box.  Her mother had adopted the idea of a God Box shortly after retiring and for her the simple act of writing down the wish and relinquishing control to a higher power was her way to help others, and relieve her own mind.  When I read this article it really spoke to me, I sat at my desk at work with tears welling in my eyes and I thought of how amazing it would be to look over your wishes at the end of the year.  What was so important to you at that moment to put in the God Box?  Within minutes of finishing the article I adopted the idea of a God Box and have sense been filling it almost daily with my own personal wishes and wishes for others. Things like "please let Logan get 100% on his spelling test.", "please cure Monte of cancer", "please let this house be the right fit".  I'm using a Longaberger basket with a lid that is in our living room and I've invited everyone in the family to add their own wishes into the God Box.  It makes me feel better, to release the worry and know that I am sending that energy out into the world.    
Do you have a ritual of writing wishes down?  Do you have a safe place to release and let your heart be still?
  

1/20/2011

I love you on canvas


Instead of a card this year for Valentine's day, say I love you on canvas.  I picked up a 5x7 inch canvas at Michael's and set to work with my acrylic paint.  First I covered the canvas with broad strokes of pink and red paint making sure to also paint the sides, then I waited for it to dry.  Once it was dry I took alphabet letters that I bought in the scrapbook section and by mixing the different style letters was able to cover the canvas with this quote : " I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you."
I then painted on top of the letters in a gray paint blended with white.  As far as the painting goes there was no rhyme or reason to it, I just mixed colors until I liked what I saw and applied it the same way.  Once the gray paint was dry I then very carefully pulled off all the stickers so that you could see the pink/red paint colors.  Using a fine tip sharpie pen I outlined each letter in black to really make it pop!

Check out these websites for some quote inspiration:
http://www.1-love-quotes.com/
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_love.html
http://thinkexist.com/quotations/love/

Share your ideas for Valentine's day gifts in the comments section.

1/19/2011

Embroidered Pillows

Did you know that January is the best time to buy bed and bath linens?  It's true.  Pillow cases, towels...they are all on sale in January.  Keep in mind that Valentine's Day is right around the corner and if you are tired of traditional gifts or maybe you are just fresh out of ideas, pick up a set of pillowcases (on sale) and embroider something along the side, it's an inexpensive gift.  Embroidered pillowcases also make great mother's day gifts! 
I purchased the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad and I've used it for numerous embroidery projects.  Check out here and here.  With these pillow cases I added a special message, along the banner by writing it first freehand with pencil right on the fabric and then embroidering it.  What a great way to tell the person you love that you hold them close to your heart.

1/18/2011

Routine

For my day job I am in charge of organizing a big benefit fundraiser, I'd like to do things differently than previous years so I am venue shopping.  I think I am adding more spice to the office than they bargained for.

1/17/2011

Banana Pumpkin Bread

Warning: This is a shortcut recipe. 
For all you purest stop reading and come back tomorrow.  For those of you who adore short cuts...you will LOVE this bread.
First off let's talk about how many times cake mix is on sale for a dollar or less at your grocery store, and aren't you always tempted to buy it?  I am, but who in their right mind makes that many cakes?
Well the next time you see cake mix on sale grab it up and save it for this recipe.  You can use either white cake mix or yellow. 

Preheat oven to 375.
Prepare cake minx according to package directions omitting the water.
add 1 cup pumpkin puree
add 1 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix everything together and then pour into a greased 9 inch loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes.

1/13/2011

Crochet Scarf

I made another scarf as a Christmas gift, crocheting the length of the scarf first and then single crocheting until I achieved the desired width.  I used leftover yarn from my winter scarf and this baby bamboo yarn I picked up at my local yarn shop, A Tangled Skein.  It feels so dreamy!

1/12/2011

Echolalia, it's common in our house.

On the drive home from school pick ups Logan was quietly talking to himself in the backseat.  He does this pretty often, mumbling to himself while staring out the window.  Zane who is next to him yells out of total frustration "stop talking like you are in a movie".  Logan on que reply's," Sorry, I can't help it."
It's called Echolalia.  Many kids on the Autism Spectrum do it, repeating words or phrases.  When Logan was a year and a half he didn't talk that much compared to his peers and as the months progressed and the other kids in playgroup started to have small dialogue with their parents Logan remained at the same level of speech.  I started to voice my concern to my family and I often heard in response to my concerns how so-in-so was a late talker and some kids just talk later.  I felt like they were humoring me, patting me on the back and insisting I worry too much.  But my gut told me differently.  The difference was that Logan could talk, he would recite entire television shows word for word after watching them only once.  Once my mom was visiting us when we lived in Seattle and I remember her being astonished hearing the large vocabulary coming out of Logan's mouth.  But because she wasn't familiar with the exact television show he was obsessed with at the time she had no idea that he wasn't actually speaking his thoughts he was reciting lines.  Sometimes those memorized lines would happen to fit in perfectly in everyday dialogue, other times like "to infinity and beyond" not so much.
Once Logan started weekly speech therapy we noticed he used his memorized script less and less, he started to form his own thoughts and he finally had his own words.
He's come a long way...but the echolalia is like a security blanket.  Some days he needs to do it more than other days, some days Zane plays along and delivers the next line.  It's always on my radar when he does it, I make a mental note of the environment, trying to classify what sparked him to fall into it.  And when I ask him why he does it he typically says, "I can't help it."  Maybe it's like biting your nails, or tapping your fingers on a table, bouncing your leg up and down after crossing them.  Clearly it gives him comfort.  Maybe he really can't help it. 



 

1/11/2011

Routine

I've been driving this road for almost a year, 5 days a week and today was the first time I noticed the flashing lights and "do not block intersection" sign.  The thing is, I'm sure it isn't new.  I'm sure it's been there the whole time, but I honestly just noticed it today.  How many times does that happen?  That you never see what is right in front of you? 

1/06/2011

Squash Casserole

I am working full time now with a long commute and I no longer have the time to prepare the meals I use to so I've been creating short cuts.  This is an easy vegetarian recipe for when you don't have a lot of time.
  • 2 cups Sliced Bell Peppers (you can use fresh peppers or take the short cut and buy frozen pre-cut pepper strips)
  • One 14oz box of frozen pureed squash
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • sprinkling of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic seasoning
  • 2 tsp chopped dried onion
  • One 16oz container plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of mashed potatoes (I used some that I had leftover from another dish but no one will judge you if you use instant) 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400.
Grease casserole dish.
Place box of frozen squash in a microwave safe container and microwave for 5 minutes. 
If you are using instant potatoes prepare them according to package directions, if you are using leftover mashed potatoes press them into greased casserole dish.
Chop walnuts in a food processor and set aside.
Saute peppers until soft.
Add all the remaining ingredients in the order that they are listed and cook on low heat for only a few minutes.
Add that mixture over the mashed potatoes in the greased casserole dish.
Top with chopped walnuts.
Cook for 30 minutes, until walnuts are slightly browned.

1/05/2011

Navigating Life

"Mommy I'm not going to drive a motorcycle when I am grown up, I'm just going to stay with you."
Logan says to me over winter break with an exasperated sigh.  He's often talked about wanting to drive a motorcycle when he's allowed (age 21).  I love motorcycles so I'm not a mom who deters him of this dream but I do believe most boys aren't mature enough till about 21 when they have slightly outgrown their need for speed and have a few years experience driving a car.
"Why aren't you going to drive a motorcycle Logan?", I reply.
"I'm just going to stay with you, Mommy.", with a deflated look across his face.
"But aren't you going to grow up and be a scientist?"
"Yes and an astronaut.  But I won't be able to drive a motorcycle."
"I don't understand why not, sweetie."
"Just cause. I don't know...I won't know where to go.  I'll just stay with you, you know where to go"
Logan begins to get this worried look in his eyes, it's a look I've seen before.  I've blogged about a previous experience with the lock on our front door
"Logan when you are old enough you'll be able to drive a car all by yourself.  That's a long time from now though."
"No Mommy! I won't! I won't know where to go!"  Tears are now forming in his eyes, his lips are making a frown and he's trying so hard to not cry.  It seems like just yesterday when he would burst into tears and now he's fighting them back because already at 7 he's learned that it's not socially acceptable to cry and that just breaks my heart.
I sit down next to him and I wrap my arms around him.  I know that to him this is a very serious conversation and it has more to do with something else than actually driving a motorcycle.
"Logan when you are old enough we will get you one of those computers for the car that will tell you where to go.  You won't get lost if that is what you are worried about."
"One with the maps?", he asks as he wipes the backs of his hands across his faces repeatedly, a recent stemming behavior he's adopted.  "But won't I need a helper? Like ms. drew? Won't I have a helper when I'm grown up?"
"No. Ms Drew is just your helper at school.  You won't need her forever, just for right now."
"But what do I do when my brain gets jumbled up?  And I get lost and I don't have a helper?"
"You will learn how to get by without a helper, Logan.  You'll learn.  Don't worry.  And if you ever get lost we will make sure you have a cell phone and you can call me."
"okay I'll like that."
He's instantly relieved.
People on the spectrum tend to have a higher level of anxiety and often will become fixated on one fear or concern even if it doesn't affect them right now.  I know from past experience that if I don't take these concerns seriously when they happen they manifest into a larger problem.  This panic in his mind about something ten years from now will effect his awareness and productivity today, to him it's a real concern.
When he's 21 he may or may not drive a motorcycle but he will be able to get by in life on his own.  He'll learn to navigate, even if he has to use a GPS.

1/04/2011

Routine

Spreading joy in the form of yummy goodness to all our neighbors, wishing them a Happy New Year!

1/03/2011

One Yard Valance Continued....

After making the valance in the dining room I was inspired to create something for my bedroom.  And once again I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something temporary.  I found these sheer curtains at Lowe's for 10 bucks and used a tension rod to hang it in the window frame.  I pulled fabric from my stash that matched my quilt perfectly and doing the same technique as the dining room valance, I sewed the sides and added a casing at the top to use these inexpensive curtain rods.
This time I had to use a little over 2 yards and as you can tell I didn't have quite enough of the striped fabric so I improvised and added a bit of blue on the ends.
Try this technique next time you want to change the decor in your house without breaking the bank.

1/01/2011

Easy One Yard Valance

The window in my dining room needed a little something.  I know that I won't be living here forever so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a temporary fix.  I shopped Target and Walmart looking for some sort of valance but refused to pay 20 bucks on something that I wasn't in love with, that is my new "thing" I have to be in love with it to buy it otherwise I don't need it.  And then I remembered this post from CloverLane's blog.  I bought one yard of fabric from Joann's, it's from the fancy have to pre-order section because it was 60% off!  So worth the wait since I was in love with it!  I quickly sewed up the sides, made a casing at the top and mounted it on one of those cheapo curtain rods that you can get at any hardware store for under 5 bucks.  I love how it turned out.  And the whole thing cost me 15 bucks.
The frames I picked up years ago at Ikea in their as-is section.  And recently I scored these vintage maps from a fellow neighbor on freecycle.  The colors match the fabric beautifully and are quite interesting to look at.

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