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.

7/31/2012

Routine



"One regret, dear world,
That I am determined not to have
When I am lying on my deathbed
Is that
I did not kiss you enough."

-Hafiz

7/30/2012

Elephant Softie




With a new baby in our family I had to create something special for him. I found this tutorial from Jessica Christian and fell in love with the simple design. The directions are extremely clear and easy to follow even for a beginner. Take the plunge and try making this cute elephant. 
To save time I used felt for the eyes and I also added bells to the inside of the elephant since it was for a baby. And babies like things that make noise. (So do their parents. HA!)



7/26/2012

Jitterbugs Weekend!

I've gushed about these women many, many times on this blog. These ladies are my Jitterbug Gals, the friendship we have is like no other in my life. We live far apart now (MD, Seattle and Michigan) so all three of us are meeting up in Chicago this weekend! I am so excited!! I know that I will come back from this weekend renewed in my spirit.
Mark your calendar to spend time with your best girlfriends, though life can be hectic- make it a priority.

7/25/2012

Scrapbooking in a Frame- I Love Us


Sometimes I like to add more than just a picture to a frame. My wife needed a little bit of crafty goodness at the office so I whipped this together for her. I downloaded the free "I Love Us" card from eighteen25, comes in four great colors. I used scrapbook paper that I had in my stash and picked up the funky frame at Target for less than 5 bucks.

Try scrapbooking in a frame and enhance the ambiance of someone's cubicle, link a picture in the comments.

7/24/2012

Routine


Open your eyes to the possibility of FUN right in front of you!

7/23/2012

Magnifying Glass Valentine's Cards


I prefer to do a non-candy Valentine's card for my children's classrooms. When I saw this idea on Pinterest from Dandee Designs I knew I had to do it. Logan and Zane love magnifying glasses, such a simple thing can keep them occupied for hours.

I purchased magnifying glasses from Oriental Trading Company, it ended up being cheaper than purchasing candy. Click here to go to Dandee to download the free printable card.

Do you have a summer birthday party to plan? Have magnifying glasses as the take away gift in lieu of candy or other party trinkets. Encourage children to explore the world around them.

7/19/2012

College Park Patch: When Claiming Personal Space Goes Too Far

This article was originally published on the College Park Patch.

My parenting journey began in New York City when I was living in a predominately Haitian neighborhood in Brooklyn. Every day I traveled to work on the 2/3 trains, my belly increasing in size and the rising summer temperatures of New York becoming unbearable (especially on the trains that did not have air conditioning). 
When I would get on the train in the evening in Union Square, the Haitian women would already be well adjusted in their seats, traveling from the Upper East Side, likewise tired from taking care of upper class Caucasian children and their high-maintenance parents. The Haitian women would see my extremely large belly, smile, and typically pat it as I walked by them searching for a seat to no avail. Never was I offered a seat—pats on the belly and gender predictions, but never a seat.
Once my son was born, I was exhausted from the daily fight of living in NYC. I loved this city—I loved the fast pace, the diversity, and the arts—but I was exhausted from having to fight for every square inch of personal space. I was tired of carrying my overpriced Maclaren stroller up four flights of steps to our apartment, tired of being crammed next to strangers in trains with a baby strapped to my chest. I was ready to go. I needed more space!
Ironically I now reside in a small GHI (Greenbelt Homes Inc.) townhouse with my wife and two sons. I actually prefer small spaces, because I believe they keep us from acquiring more than we need. I adore living simply: everything in our space is used, and we value the items we have acquired.
This past week, we went on vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was the first time there for our family, and I was taken aback by the aggressive beach tent culture. Each morning around 6 a.m., other vacationers would be on the beach claiming their ideal oceanfront space with giant 10' x 10' foot tents. What happened to beach umbrellas?

7/18/2012

Decorative Wooden Letters

Wooden letters on walls are all the rage, every body seems to have a letter somewhere in their house. If you know someone who doesn't...do them a favor and buy them the letter of their name and decorate it. You can pick up wooden letters at your local craft store and either paint it, decoupage it or as I did hot glue random buttons all over it. This letter was made for a crafter; it's a fun and a inexpensive gift!

7/17/2012

Routine


"This place where you are right now, 
God circled on a map for you." -Hafiz


7/16/2012

Zane is 7! Thank You Cards

Every year I make a point to take a portrait of my children around their birthday, it's a tradition I've done since their first birthday. I also like to use these photos on their thank you cards.
Here are some of the previous thank you cards I've made for Zane: 3 years old, 4 years old5 years old.

I always keep it very simple; a picture adhered to card stock. The more complicated I make it...the longer it takes to get in the mail. So simple it is! This year Zane is able to sit down and write his own messages. There was a bit of whining at first but after I gently reminded him of the kindness he received from the person who sent the gift, he quickly changed and began writing. I hope my boys always see the value in thank you cards.

7/12/2012

Chickpea Summer Salad

Summer cookouts are upon us and if you are like me you never want to show up empty handed, even when the hosts insists you don't have to bring anything. This is my "go-to" summer salad. It's quick, easy, inexpensive and I typically have all the ingredients in my fridge at a moments notice.
It's also vegetarian and with certain rice mixes it can also be gluten free. I especially like this salad because there isn't anything that will go bad. I've been at many cookouts where the food sits out and people graze throughout the evening and I personally get squeamish with dairy products being out for a long period of time; potato salad is a perfect example! I do enjoy cheese sprinkled over the salad so I will bring a separate container of crumbled blue or goat cheese and place it next to the salad bowl for people to do themselves.
Be warned this recipe might become a staple of your summer dinners as well!
Ingredients:

  1. One box of wild grain rice mix; I've used Near East Brown Rice, Uncle Ben's Wild Rice, Zatarains is Gluten free, recently though Farmhouse has been on sale at our Safeway for $1 so I've used it a lot. 
  2. One can of chick peas; drained
  3. Half of a can of diced tomatoes; drained
  4. 1 celery stalk, thinly cut
  5. 2 cups of frozen corn, I cook it in the microwave and then add it to the salad
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing; if you are making this dish gluten free be sure to check the label of the dressing. Newman's Own makes a great balsamic vinaigrette dressing that just so happens to be gluten free.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and serve at room temperature.
Enjoy!

7/11/2012

End of the Year Teacher Gifts


Every teacher deserves a little something at the end of the year, a gift to show your appreciation. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive. It's the thought that counts, right?
I like to thank all the people who make Logan's school world easier, the IEP team (as I call them). 
Here are a few ideas that I've done in the past: Starbucks gift cards, Tissue holders and doorstoppers
This year I found these great Tiki themed cups at the dollar store, along with a packet of fun straws and Crystal Light type drink mixes. I bought the Bath and Body Shop lotion when this flavor first came out for only a dollar a piece. And the popcorn I purchased in bulk at Costco. 
I filled each cup with the items and cut tissue paper to make it look more festive and then had the boys write a note to each of their teachers. 
Show your teachers next year that you appreciate them!


7/10/2012

Routine

 “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." -Henry David Thoreau 
Simple Reminder: Take the time to unplug from the electronics and enjoy your children.

7/09/2012

A Natural Alternative to Chemical Air Fresheners


I'm not a fan of air fresheners, the chemical smell tends to give me a headache. But I do enjoy a fresh scent. Our bathroom needed a little freshness and we already had this cup holder in place that we weren't using so I filled a small mason jar with white rice that was lightly saturated with lavender essential oil. Essential oils can be purchased online or at your local health food store.

Every few days I stir the rice with a wooden craft stick to freshen up the room.
A very inexpensive and healthy alternative to chemical air fresheners!



7/04/2012

Happy Independence Day!

Every year on Independence Day I can only think of this beautiful spirit entering the world. Seven years ago I was in labor, I remember seeing fireworks outside the hospital window as I pushed with all the strength in my body to welcome this fantastic being into our family. Only twenty minutes shy of being a 4th of July baby, I think it's because your dad was trying to convince me to name you Indie. Thanks for waiting till the 5th, Zane!


7/03/2012

Routine


When your world seems adrift remember that the tide always brings you back home.

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