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.

12/31/2011

2012 will take you ANY WAY!


Many people create New Year's resolutions, lists of ways in which they want to become better people in this new year. Remember that you have a choice! A choice to live your life ANY WAY you want.

Accept yourself, accept your flaws, accept the things that make YOU- you.

Remember there is no "right" or "wrong" path, there is only the choice that will make you happy and to live your authentic life.
Any way will be okay.

12/30/2011

Jenga Wedding Guest Book

Instead of a traditional wedding guest book I wanted to have guests write messages to us on something we'd use more often than a book on a shelf, something we would see throughout our lives. I saw this idea on another wedding website and loved it! 
Each guest wrote a message to us on a Jenga block using fine tip sharpie markers. I created this sign and displayed it in a frame so that guests understood what exactly it was they were expected to do.
I will warn you that if you do this idea to make sure someone is watching the kids at this table. We had a few kids who thought they could write on every single block! Also having it displayed where guests could leave the card they brought helped us in getting adults to participate.   




12/29/2011

Wedding Card Holder


I knew I wanted to do something unique to hold the cards we received from guests at our wedding. I also didn't want to really spend any money on something that was only going to be utilized once. So I used what I already had in our house, a vintage blue suitcase.

Thin, twelve inch dowel rods propped the suitcase open. The sign was created from textured card stock, the same card stock used for the butterfly topiaries, and hot glued to ribbon.  I tied a simple tag with the words "messages of love" to the handle.
We received so many wonderful comments from our guests remarking that it was "unique" and "so us"!
This idea would be great for a birthday party, baby shower, as well as a retirement luncheon. The possibilities are endless!



12/28/2011

Fabric Micro Suede Flowers for Wedding Centerpiece

As I previously mentioned I was recently influenced by Martha Stewart and a micro suede fabric flower tutorial.
I used the flowers at the base of the topiaries that I made for our wedding centerpieces. I bought the moss topiaries at a Michael's Craft Store in the flower arrangement section and using a Martha Stewart butterfly craft punch, I punched out different colored butterflies from textured card stock and pinned them to the topiaries. The base of the topiaries were mason jelly jars filled with sand and rock and a little bit of artificial straw grass. Simple and fun as they sat on tables surrounded by votive candles. 

(Pictures by Jessica Shepard)




12/27/2011

Martha Stewart's Craft Influence

I'm going to say it...I don't really follow Martha Stewart and her craft endeavors. I don't watch her show (is it still on air?), I don't read her magazines or books. I might sometimes buy her craft products at Michaels when they are on sale but in general she's just not really my style. Don't get me wrong I think she's a phenomenal business woman and I'd love to sit down with her and pick her brain. But I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't search her out.
Now there is Pinterest in my life, my latest addiction. So many folks pin Martha Stewart crafts and I found myself liking them! In fact I liked this flower tutorial so much that I decided to use it in the decor for my wedding and I made myself a cute little headband. It was so simple to make using microfiber suede, a little fabric goes a long way!
For the headband I purchased a black elastic one that comes in a pack at Target and simply sewed the flower to the elastic, along with a button centerpiece. It's the perfect crafty girl accessory!

12/19/2011

Knitted Rainbow Shrug


September can be hit or miss weather wise in the Washington DC area. Since I was wearing a spaghetti strap dress for our wedding I wanted to make sure I had something fashionable to wear over my dress just in case the day turned out chilly. The twenty year old-me would have dealt with the goosebumps and impractical shoes but in my mid thirties I've learned a thing or two about comfort and fashion. 
I headed to my local yarn store, A Tangled Skein,  and found this stunning yarn on clearance. It's from japan and a mix of cotton and bamboo. And no, I didn't use a pattern..I never do. I call it Zen Knitting. I cast on and hoped and prayed I bought enough yarn to make the shrug...and I did! I love how it turned out.

Don't be afraid to create!

12/16/2011

Hot Chocolate Holiday Gift for Neighbors


I like to spread the holiday love to friends and neighbors. A simple surprise package on their doorstep. It doesn't have to be an extravegant gift but something small and homemade means a lot to the person that you wave to everyday as you back your car out of the driveway, or to the mom-friend you chat with outside of the school after dropping your kids off every day.
Small, simple gestures of love and peace.
This year I made homemade hot chocolate, the recipe I received from a friend's mom so I don't know if I'm allowed to post it. (I'll update later if so.) But a search on google produces many quick and easy recipes to try out.

I love the Keep Calm posters, I know they are so last year in popularity...but I still enjoy them. I created these fun gift tags for the hot chocolate keeping with the Keep Calm style but forming the words to make a Christmas tree.


Feel free to use it for personal use only. I printed them using Picassa as wallet size prints, 8 to a 8.5 x 11 inch page.


The little ornament is crocheted yarn and recycled wine corks, I'll be selling them in my etsy store in the new year. Oh and the cards.... I downloaded the template from Becky Higgins, she has so many great free downloads including a lot of holiday card templates.


12/15/2011

Teachers Pay Teachers


While searching on the internet for something, I don't recall what I originally was looking for, came across this website: Teachers Pay Teachers.

That is how it always happens for me. Great websites appear in my life through so many clicks from other sites. And when friends ask "how did you hear about this?", I never really know what to tell them because I actually stumbled across it entirely by accident.  Once 20 minutes went by and I'm still on this website, I knew I had to share it with other parents and hopefully some teachers read this blog as well. There are so many FREE resources as well! Please pass along to your classroom teacher.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com
TeachersPayTeachers® is the world's first open marketplace where teachers buy and sell original teaching materials. It was founded in 2006 by Paul Edelman, a former NYC public school teacher.


TpT's mission is to make teachers lives easier by bringing together those who create curricula with those who are seeking fresh new approaches in the classroom. Teachers work hard and deserve extra compensation for all those hours spent lesson planning. Newer teachers and those looking for ideas can save time and leap ahead in competency by learning from veterans. We strongly believe that the ensuing exchange lifts all boats and leads to the better sharing of best practices. In the end everyone wins, especially our students.

12/14/2011

My Anthropologie Wedding Dress

I bought my wedding dress at Anthropologie randomly, we were out shopping for something else, I saw it in the window. Within minutes I was trying it on. As I opened the dressing room door Lauren had a huge smile on her face and said "that's the dress!"
The only problem was it was strapless. I have large breasts and after nursing two babies, strapless bras aren't comfortable for prolonged periods of time. This is originally what the dress looked like.
It had tiny little straps that weren't large enough to hide bra straps. So I cut the bow in the back of the dress and used that fabric to make larger straps to hide my bra straps. I still had the fabric for a bow in the back, but instead of a bow I simply tied it. I loved how comfortable it was to wear. I'm thankful that I chose a dress that I will be able to wear many more times throughout our lives. 

Oh, and that adorable flower on my dress I bought off Etsy by Emerson Made. Sadly you can't get them anymore. The blog, Junebug Weddings, did a wonderful post about them.


12/13/2011

Routine

My wife and I went away for a "mini-moon" recently and during that trip we got snowed in, we were staying at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast. Being forced by the weather to do nothing, tune into one another and just be. It was the best gift we have received.

12/12/2011

Ikea Blog- Home

I've been an Ikea junkie for years. Lately I've been trying to ween myself off of Ikea and buy more "big girl" furniture pieces. Antiques or furniture that doesn't come packaged flat in a box. But in my heart there will always be a special place for Ikea!
When the catalog arrives in my mailbox I pour through it the way my children do a toy catalog, I love the pictures of the rooms. I feel inspired and creative....all from an Ikea catalog!
Well today I learned that Ikea has a BLOG!!!! OMG!!! Talk about eye candy. It's written in Swedish but google has a handy translate button on the top left corner, I think you need to have google as your search bar but I'm not 100% sure on that. Pour yourself another cup of coffee and enjoy the beautiful pictures.
http://livethemma.ikea.se
Hopefully it will inspire you as well.

12/09/2011

Jessie Mary Photography



When Lauren and I set the date to get married I wasn't like other brides combing through stacks of bridal magazines. No, that's not for me. I've done this before, remember? I knew what I wanted and the number one thing on my list was finding the best photographer. I spent hours looking at photography websites, searching for someone who would be willing and able to photograph a gay wedding. (Yes, there are people in the world who will refuse to take pictures at a gay wedding.)
Through a recommendation from another photographer Jessica Shepard entered our lives. After chatting with her on the phone and learning that our lives have taken similar routes from living in NYC to Seattle and also being a mom...I had this feeling in my gut that she was the photographer for us. And I was right, I am ecstatic with the pictures she took at our wedding.

We exchanged vows privately with a small group of family and friends at the Washington DC courthouse. The room is really small and you are only allowed to have 12 people, we are a family a four which means that didn't leave a lot of room for invites.

The day after our wedding Jessica emailed us one picture, a teaser of what was to come. I opened the email and inhaled loudly, I told Lauren "This is the picture! I don't care if the rest look like shit, this is the ONE!"

Thankfully we ended up with hundreds of pictures that were fantastic. Check out Jessica's blog, she posted many more pictures that truly captures our day. Thank you Jessica, we are overjoyed!!!!

12/08/2011

A GAY Family!

I think I forgot to tell you...I GOT MARRIED!!!!
I know here on the blog I share very intimate moments of parenting. I talk at great length about the struggles and joy of raising a child on the Autism Spectrum. But I haven't been talking a lot about the recent transformation that I've made. Here is the quick version: I use to be married to a man...we had 2 children together... we got a divorce...I met a fantastic woman, fell deeply in love and we recently married in Washington DC.

I've been skirting around talking openly about my divorce because I want to be respectful of my ex-husband and his very public life (he's an author). I'm also the type of person that lives by the mantra: "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".
I will say this...we are amazing parents together. I think friends and family can agree on that...we do a hell of a job communicating the boys needs and always putting them first.
Anyway.... when I had to announce to family and friends that I was getting a divorce, it's awkward and I wanted to be the one to tell my friends. I didn't want it spreading like gossip and turning into something poisonous. I sent messages through Facebook to almost everyone I knew, this is what I told them:
Some of you may have heard the news travel through the gossip chain of friends and family. This is a hard email to write to all of you. And there is no easy way to say it, other than just to say it. Jon and I are getting a divorce. It's not an easy choice or a light-hearted decision to leave a relationship when you thought it was supposed to last "forever". Jon and I came to a point where in our hearts we weren't happy in our marriage any longer and realized that we needed to except that and continue to seek joyful expression of ourselves. I have spent the last year in a state of awakening. I've rediscovered what happiness means. I've laughed more this past year, felt joyous and here I sit taking a deep breath in and knowing in my whole heart I am following my true bliss. It's not easy. There are hard decisions to be made along the way. We all have to do what makes us happy, to not become stagnant, to awaken our core beings. I've gotten REALLY clear over the year that I am not responsible for others happiness or to make sure anyone else is living a joyful life, only that I continue to be an example of staying connected to the universe and live my life in joy.I hope you are all well and wish you a year of awakening in your spirits to follow your own true bliss.

I found the courage from within myself to "come out of the closet" to my family and friends. (I told my parents at Ikea of all places, which I think should be the title of my book.) 
I have been awakened. I feel like I'm finally living my authentic life. I have thankfully been surrounded by love and acceptance. I fell in love with a woman. And she is the most amazing person who has entered my life. I smile more. I laugh more. My children love her. And she in turn, adores the boys. 
And we are now a family. 
Logan was asked recently by a classmate, "do you have two moms?"
His reply, "yeah, I have two moms AND a dad! I know, I'm awesome."

These kids are okay. They are better than okay. We all are.



12/07/2011

Placemat & Gift of Thanksgiving

I came across this placemat on Pinterest. It was one of those things that seemed like everyone was re-pinning. It is so cute and functional, you can see why it was going viral! (Click here to see the rest of the Thanksgiving collection.)

Around my Thanksgiving table each person had a placemat and in front was a small gift from me. I used a toilet paper tube and taped scrapbook paper to it and folded the ends inside. I printed off a small picture of each person and adhered it to the outside in lieu of traditional name cards. Inside each tube was a felted acorn ornament that I made and a small note telling the recipient why I am thankful for them. 


For my youngest son I wrote:
When I look at you it's like looking into a mirror of my own soul. Being your mom has taught me to embrace who I am as well as embrace what makes you- YOU!

So often I think words are left unsaid and I don't ever want to leave this earth and not tell the people whom I love how much I in fact love and cherish them. 
Use your words.
Take a moment and tell the people in your life how thankful you are for knowing them. I believe it will be cherished.

12/06/2011

College Park Patch: A 6-Year-Old's Buyer's Remorse

This article was originally published on the College Park Patch. 

So far, the Responsibility Chart we started in our household to eliminate whining and teach my children better table manners is working.
They aren’t perfect, but I don’t have to say, "Lips together chewing" at every meal. And to the chorus of “Mommy, I want that!” at every toy commercial during Saturday morning cartoons, I can simply say, “Save YOUR money.”
The day after Thanksgiving we joined the masses at Arundel Mills Mall hoping to find a great deal in the aftermath of early morning Black Friday shoppers. Each child needed new pants and shoes, and the death of my espresso machine couldn’t have come at a better time. As we turned a corner, my oldest son’s eyes grew big as he spotted the Lego logo.
“Can we go in?”
“Of course, but we are only looking.” How many parents have spoken those words?
After many minutes of Lego building and drooling over boxes of Millennium Falcom, my youngest uttered the words that every parent has heard hundreds of times: “Can we buy something please!?!”
“Yes, you can,” I replied. His eyes lit up and he actually jumped in the air with excitement. “But you have to spend your own money, and I think it’s safe to say you have $5. You can pay me back when we get home.”
His face changed. 
To continue reading click here.

12/05/2011

Spinach and Cheese Puff Goodness


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I typically host, my mom handles the turkey cooking (my least favorite part of Thanksgiving) and I do all the sides. Each year I make something new. I try to never repeat the same dishes. Most families like the tradition of having the same thing each year. But I prefer to take the time and experiment, to try new dishes with obscure ingredients. One of the dishes that got the most thumbs up amongst my family was this Spinach and Cheese Puff, originally pulled from Martha Stewart's website.
Within her recipe is conflicting directions. Here is what I did to make this yummy goodness a success.

Ingredients:
3 (10 ounce) packages of frozen, chopped spinach. Thaw and squeeze dry.
1 1/2 cups of fat free half and half
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces smoked gruyere cheese, coarsely grated.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients (set aside a half cup of cheese) and stir. Spread evenly in prepared dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown on top.

12/02/2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Party Games 2011

I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday for throwing a dinner party. Once everyone has finished eating and we sit around the table, finishing wine, settling our stomachs before dessert.... I pull out the game of questions. (Last year I did this.)
This year I put questions on small strips of paper and stored them in a mason jar. One person reads the question and around the table everyone answers, then you pass the mason jar to the person next to you and we begin again. I choose questions that both children and adults can answer, in hopes of getting to know what our guests are thinking. Everyone around my Thanksgiving table this year was family. And though I know them all very well I love to hear the answer that my teenage niece gives to questions like "who are you most proud of amongst your friends?". Or what my 8 year old son will say when asked "if you could pick a color that represents your personality what color would that be?"
(His answer by the way: Black, when I probed further on why he chose black his response was, "cause it's all the colors into one." That kid is smart!)
The website, How Does She?, has a wonderful selection of questions that they created for family dinner time. I used their lists as inspiration. Make a list of questions for your family, it doesn't have to be for Thanksgiving...it is something that can be used anytime. Start a new tradition! This would also be a very inexpensive gift to make and give to another family.



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