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.

1/31/2012

Routine

Listen to your body and when you feel tired - SLEEP.
Your body knows what you need, tune in and listen.

1/30/2012

Personalized Soap Bottles with Pictures


My sister recently bought a house with her partner and I wanted to give them something as a housewarming gift. What do you buy two adults who have lived on their own for many years, they don't need a blender they already have two! I decided on a basket of items that were useful; toilet paper, energy saving light bulbs, a valentine's hand towel etc. But I can never give a gift without having some crafty element to it!
So I made a personalized soap bottle for my niece's bathroom. I removed the label using peanut butter, yes peanut butter! Since I was only going to make one bottle I didn't want to purchase goo gone. If I were doing more than one bottle I would recommend using goo gone but for only one- using a natural product that you already have in your pantry makes more sense to me. Why spend money when you don't have to?

I printed out a picture of my niece on photo paper and then laminated it using my Xyron machine (which I just realized they don't make anymore AHHHH!!!!! What will I do for refills???). I cut around the picture and curled it into a tube and gently pushed it into the soap bottle. That's it. Such a simple and easy gift! Your kids could even help make them.

I saw a similar idea on DesignMom for a teacher gift, she printed her message on a transparency sheet, I am sure you could get a picture easily printed on transparency as well. Or instead of a picture you could print the family's initial to make a monogramed gift. Regardless of whether you laminate the picture or print on transparenecy this gift costs under $5 and will be used over and over again. Great for stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, housewarming, mother's day or for your eighty year old grandmother who has everything she could ever want!

1/27/2012

College Park Patch: Forget Resolutions! Make Time for Reflection

This article was originally published on the College Park Patch. 



Many people make lists of things they will change or let go of in the New Year, resolutions as they are aptly called. I like to take a moment of reflection in the beginning of the New Year with my family — a time to reflect on the year as a whole, think of the exciting places we've been, the experiences we've had, the great movies we've seen. 
This year I stumbled across this wonderful blog,Run Lucas Run, in which the author created exactly what I was looking for: a list of questions that captures who my children are right now. My plan is to do this each year, seal them in an envelope and open them a year later.
The questions are quite simple:
My name is:
My favorite food:
I love to play:
My favorite singing + dancing song:
A place I’d like to visit:
My favorite story-time book:
My favorite treat:
My best friend is:
I love the color: 
One Friday night, we sat around the dining room table after dinner and completed the questions. Both boys were living in the moment, as children tend to be. The answers to the questions typically were the things they like to do right now, books they are currently reading, etc.

1/26/2012

Corner of my Home

I previously have talked about Rebecca's flickr stream in a Corner of my Home post.
I want to continue capturing my house as it is right now.  I love how Rebecca captures simple corners of her home.  I want to do more of that so my kids and I can look back and see how things change over the years. And I tend to change things pretty often.


This is a corner of my home right now.

  • I adore the look of crates. Here I stacked a wine crate and a crate I picked up at a yard sale and I filled them with books. Some I've read, some are favorites and some are to-be-read.
  • The pictures of the boys were taken by a friend, Ryan Benyi. This spot is right outside the bathroom and on the weeks when the boys are with their dad I love walking by numerous times a day and seeing their faces.
  • The wooden baby block letters I picked up at an antique store and wrote about them here. The word "be" was my word of the year to mediate on in 2009. I still enjoy seeing it as a reminder every day.
  • The wooden carving was given to me by a dear friend on a trip in Costa Rica.
  • And the "nothing is a mistake" hoop sits casually on top reminding everyone who walks by to stop being so competitive and just follow your bliss.
Capture a corner of your home and create a scrapbook layout around it.  What do you love about the items in the picture? Where did it come from?  What is special to you right now?    

1/25/2012

Fabric Mailbox

I saw this great tutorial for a fabric mailbox by Giver'sLog all over Pinterest. I had a 3 year old girl on my Christmas list who I knew would love something like this. I changed a few things while making the fabric mailbox because I didn't want to actually go out and purchase anything, I wanted to only use what I had in my fabric collection and craft supplies. (I tend to do that a lot.)
So instead of plastic canvas I used interfacing and quilt batting. I only used fabric where she used felt. I didn't have magnets so instead I used velcro. I omitted the fabric wire, I found the opening looked good without it. And to complete the flag I made a hole using my scrapbooking grommet maker and attached it with a brass paper fastener.

I cut scrapbook paper to 4x6 inches and added a sticker to the upper right corner so that it appears to be a postcard.

Keep in mind when you see tutorials online that you don't have to do it exactly as they have instructed. Sometimes you might find a short cut or by omitting something the end result is better. Allow your own creativity to flow. Be inspired by others and allow that to flow through your work.
Happy crafting!

1/24/2012

Routine

Keep Your Heart Up!
Messages where you don't expect them.

1/13/2012

Embroidered Chandelier - Sublime Stitching


I made this embroidered chandelier piece for my sixteen year old niece. Recently she moved into her own room and I wanted to make her something to show her how mature I think she is. An "adult" type of gift.


I bought the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad two years ago and I  can't believe I am still using it!  I've made so many projects using her lively iron-on embroidery designs.
I ironed on the design on a quilter cotton, gray fabric and placed it in a wooden hoop. Once the project was complete I cut a piece of felt the same size as the hoop and hot glued it to the back. 


I love how simple it is. And it didn't take a lot of time, it would be easy to whip up a few more to have on hand and give as gifts whether it's a birthday or housewarming. Here are a few more examples of embroidered pieces in hoops and simply hung on the wall, I love the way this looks. 


And clearly the Sublime Craft Pad is worth the $15 bucks.

1/12/2012

Knit Eternity Scarf

I have two teen-aged nieces who aren't major fashionistas but they typically do know what is "in" and often have the racks at Hollister memorized. I will admit that I consulted the Hollister website before making this eternity scarf for my niece. I wouldn't dare step into the actual store because the smell of the place gives me a headache along with the low lighting and cramped aisles...clearly I've exposed my thirty-something age in this post.
I was happy to discover that I liked the color range that Hollister uses. The navy, gray, white..it's very all-American and classic. So I chose gray yarn for the scarf and stuck with a simple pattern of knit and purl stitches and an occasional double knit row to add dimension.
I'm happy with how it turned out, in fact I'm considering making myself one.

1/11/2012

Granny Square Crochet Blanket

Now that the holidays have passed and all the handmade presents have landed in each person's hands I am able to share with you all what I made.
This Granny Square Blanket was made for my sister and her boyfriend, Bill. It seems odd to call him her boyfriend when they are in their late thirties and own a home together...I'll call him her partner. Because simply that is what he is, the term boyfriend seems high school-ish. And the term partner shouldn't just be used for same-sex relationships. Don't you agree?
This blanket was a labor of love. I'm not a stranger to large projects, and I often am making blankets for other people. I love zen knitting, casting on and knitting until I think it's finished. This blanket was nothing of the sort. I saw this post on Canadian Living (no I'm not Canadian but I like to pretend I am) and fell in love with it.
I prefer to crochet over knitting. I'm better at it and I feel more creative with a crochet hook in my hand. So I was excited to get started, choosing the colors wisely. Not to feminine yet not extremely masculine. I wanted to use nuetral colors, nothing exceptionally bold because at the time when I began this project I wasn't exactly sure what their new decor was going to be like. Little did I know I'd be swimming in granny squares, making more than I actually needed. Once I had a lot of squares made I laid them out and didn't like what I saw. It looked too busy and I was doubtful that they would like it. So instead of going with the original plan on copying this blanket I started adding stitches around each square in brown yarn and after completing four squares I knew this was how the blanket should look...bigger granny squares. I sewed each square together using a single crochet stitch, which means on the reverse side of the blanket there is a raised edge. Some people don't like it esthetically but I don't mind it. A simple border around the entire blanket that gives it a feminine touch completes the entire look.
My sister and her partner, Bill, loved it when they opened it at our holiday lunch. And I loved finishing it.
I still have a bag of already made granny squares, it pains my heart to rip them out...any ideas on what to do with them besides making another blanket?



1/10/2012

1/09/2012

Toilet Paper Tube Bird Feeder- Crafts for Kids


Our backyard backs right up to woods, recently we purchased a bird feeder and as a family we have been enjoying watching the birds feed on our back deck. One rainy afternoon I pulled out some toilet paper tubes from the recycling bin and decided to create a craft with the boys. Any age child can do it with assistance and you probably have everything you need in your pantry. 
With plastic knives spread peanut butter on the outside of the toilet paper tube and then roll the tube on a plate filled with bird seed. It's that simple!
My oldest son, who has sensory issues didn't enjoy the craft as much as I had hoped. He didn't like getting his fingers sticky and had a furrowed brow throughout much of the process.

My youngest son on the other hand had to be reminded numerous times to not each the craft!


Mere moments after putting the toilet paper tubes on branches in our yard, birds were all a flutter enjoying them. And finally a squirrel came along and decided to make one his own and pulled it right off the tree! The boys actually loved watching this squirrel and the amusement he provided. Try making your own toilet paper tube bird feeders this winter for the birds in your neighborhood.


1/06/2012

College Park Patch: Celebrating Christmas, Even When the Kids Aren't There

This article was originally published on the College Park Patch. 

The day is approaching that almost every child has been looking forward to for months — Christmas morning. My children are no different; they have been making their wish lists since their birthdays passed.
I, on the other hand, am having a hard time getting in the celebratory mood.
My children’s father and I are divorced, and we share custody on a weekly basis. It actually works out great — We update each other through emails about the boys. We coordinate a Google calendar to remind each other of special days or extra curricular activities. And each year we take turns for the holidays. I had them for Thanksgiving this year, so they will be with their father for Christmas.
Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Easter, their birthdays … any holiday that involves a celebration … it's hard not having my children with me. I know that everyone is supposed to be joyful this time of year, but many are just going through the motions and pretending. I'm going to say it: I’m struggling with being jolly.
I was hesitant to even write about this, because this little corner of my world is typically a pretty happy version of who I am. I’ve learned, though, that by opening myself up, and being vulnerable can benefit others. I’ve talked to other divorced parents, and they haven’t given me much hope in believing that it will get easier as the years go by.
I refer to my first Christmas without the boys as “Christmas coma.” I laid in bed and cried for eight hours. Maybe someday I’ll go on an adult-only type of vacation, instead … zip lining in Costa Rica, maybe a cruise.
But a friend from college reminded me, “The date isn't as important as the feeling of the day and the memories you make.” And she is absolutely right! This weekend, my partner and I surprised the boys with Santa hats and a tree brimming with gifts underneath. We made the most of our early Christmas celebration, and the boys believed me when I told them that I emailed Santa asking him to come early.
To continue reading, click here.

1/05/2012

Routine

I know that someday I will miss this, I will miss reminding little people to put the cap on their toothpaste, to "please do not leave toothpaste in the sink".
I know someday I will miss this. And I'm trying to remind myself of that when this is the view in our bathroom.

1/04/2012

Story Cubes

One of the recent toys in our house that I LOVE is Rory's Story Cubes. It's often hard to find a toy or game that can be enjoyed by a range of ages, and this is it! Wee ones love it, older kids who are tired of playing "baby games" enjoy it and it forces the adults to tap into their inner child. 
The rules are simple, there is no winner or loser- there is only creative thinking.  



From the website:

Roll the cubes.

Begin with ‘Once upon a time’, and tell a story that links together all 9 face-up images. Start with the first symbol that grabs your attention.
Rory’s Story Cubes® can be enjoyed solitaire or by taking turns with multiple players.
Remember there is no wrong answer, the goal is to let the cubes spark your imagination.
It really is that simple!
I think every classroom should be equipped with this game. We have had hours of fun in our house creating stories and using the cubes to spark imagination for the kids and adults. This would make a great gift for anyone! 

1/03/2012

Christmas Tree Skirt



We put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving and within the hour I remembered...our tree needed a skirt. This fabric has been living in my stash for a year, purchased on sale after the holidays last year and has been anxiously awaiting it's destiny. It only took two days of looking at the bare tree for me to gather the motivation to put the skirt together. I am so glad I did, you can't leave the tree naked!
I was inspired by the pictures of Six One Seven 's tree skirt that she made for her house and I loved that she didn't care that hers had flaws, she actually highlights them in her blog post. Reading her post gave me the confidence I needed to let down my perfectionist personality and just wing it...what's the worst thing that could happen? It's a tree skirt for goodness sakes!
So I made a pattern and soon after sewing pieces together I figured out that the opening was going to be too big. So I improvised and added a casing for a small strip of elastic so that the fabric hugs the base loosely. I love the colors, I love the flaws and I love that we have something that I made which will be pulled out and used each and every year. 
Hopefully now it won't take me a another year to make our family matching stockings. 

1/02/2012

Homemade First Aid Kit using Nesquik Container

I love to reuse containers from products we use in our house, I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to reuse items. I've reused peanut butter jars for storage in different ways. Also those giant pretzel tubs from Costco. And most recently a Nestle Nesquik container is now home to our first aid kit. Inside I can store all the essentials I need to take care of a playground fall; bactine, ointment, bandaids and cotton gauze pads. I wrapped the container with scrapbook paper that I had in my stash, created a label and it's done. Easy and fast, cross it off your to-do list for 2012 and have a first aid kit ready in your car for those "just in case" moments.

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