Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Thrifty Wallet Buddy

I just finished reading I'm Not Buying It, My year without shopping by Judith Levine. It's a very well written book and I was completely moved by her and her husbands' desires and determination. We live very simply. I'm no longer a big shopper. Whenever I'm about to buy something I always ask myself "would I rather have (blank) or do I want to buy a house?" Our goal of buying a house is always in the forefront of my mind whenever I am faced with shopping. After reading the book I've become more aware of buying wisely and buying products from companies I believe in or other indie designers like myself.
I recently found this Thrifty Wallet Buddy and had to share it with you all. You print it out and place your credit card in it so that every time you are about to buy something you stop and read the questions like: "Is this purchase something I need?" or "can I buy one used instead of new?" or "can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible materials?"
Stop yourself and think before handing over the credit just may save you from debt and help you to live more green.


Cheap Gift Idea

Here's another recycled jar idea. I got this recipe on the food network website, combined it all in a baby food jar and painted the lid. Great gift idea for anyone on your list of birthdays this year.

Emeril's Essence Recipe
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme

Recycled Jars

As you can tell Jessica and I are huge fans of reusing everyday items to give them new life. Well with 2 kids we go through a lot of applesauce and I'm left with these rather large jars so I've given them new life by turning them into tea containers. Hubby and I gave up the coffee and are into loose leaf tea these days. After washing out the jars and scrubbing off the labels, the hardest part. I then painted the lids with a craft paint I bought at Michael's a few years ago. It's called Sophisticated Finishes and it says it's ideal for indoor and outdoor use.
The possibilities are endless for reusing jars. Store rice, dry beans, small pasta noddles etc. And the bonus is that if everything in your cabinet is in the same size jar it will be more organized and you can actually see what you have on hand. Heavenly!


First Hat

Congratulations to Allison for crocheting her first hat! This smart looking hat is a picture of the skull cap that Allison made after just 2 quick lessons. She made it all on her own with no pattern and just some basic guidelines from me. It looks awesome and goes to show everyone who is thinking about learning to crochet that as long as you stick with it the awkward feelings in your hands will disappear and in under a week you'll be making hats and scarfs!


I'd like to teach the world to crochet!

I'm not usually on the cutting edge but I will never forget learning to knit and crochet with Gretchen in order to make holiday presents for the Christmas of 2000. Our goal back then was to stop buying useless presents for our friends and family and instead give them something practical like a hat or scarf. When we started I swear we were the only women under age 25 interested in knitting needles and crochet hooks. In fact we had great difficultly finding places that sold yarn in Manhattan and had to get our moms to send us yarn from Michael's or JoAnn's from the suburbs. Then suddenly everywhere we looked people were knitting. Hip yarn stores complete with hipster cafes started popping up and before I knew it knitting was the "new Yoga".
It has been over 7 years now and I am happy to say that the trend hasn't stopped. Just this week end my dearest childhood friend Jen and her partner Allison visited me for an exciting weekend in New York City. In addition to going to upscale restaurants, visiting MOMA, and going to a Broadway Show I was exciting to find out that they had brought with them yarn and crochet hooks and wanted to spend some of their time here in the city learning to crochet. I had such a good time teaching them the basics. It reminds me of what a good lesson in life knitting and crocheting can be. When I first learned to crochet I was convinced it was impossible. That even if I figured it out that I would never be able to make anything actually worth giving to someone. But before you know (it as long as you stick with it) you have yourself a scarf. Usually the person teaching you (in my case my mom and grandma) is quite skilled and can easily make their fingers fly through stitches. Unfortunately, the first time a beginner tries to chain or make a single crochet they get frustrated. It is easy enough to watch someone hold the work in one hand, maintain the tension with the finger, and slip the yarn over the hook all at the same time. BUT TRYING TO DO IT CAN SEEM IMPOSSIBLE!!!!
The great thing is is that as long as you keep at it you eventually get it. Then the key is finishing a couple of projects - even if they have mistakes in them. In the beginning the work looks pretty ugly. The picture of the uneven work top left is a good example. But to me that work looks great because I know how hard it was for their fingers to make it and for their minds to move on to the next row even though they knew the row they just finished was far from perfect. I was so excited to be teach my friends a skill that has brought me such happiness. I hope the trend of knitting and crocheting never goes away again. If any blog readers in NYC want to learn to knit or crochet let me know ASAP. It is one of those skills that takes an hour to learn and a lifetime to master but you'll never regret it for a second.

Easter Chocolate

We are saving money to buy a house so every penny is accounted for in our budget. But saving money is not just about budgets and coupons it’s about thinking ahead. I went to the local CVS drug store and picked up Valentine’s Cards for kids at 90% off, 2 weeks after Valentine’s Day. I paid 20 cents per box and I bought the more expensive ones with temporary tattoos. I also bought some heart shaped boxed chocolate candy for 15 cents a box. I don’t plan on holding on to those till next year but what I do plan to do is offer them on a decorative plate as an additional dessert for my dinner party guests. They will never know it came from a heart shaped box. Planning ahead can save you so much money. Two weeks after Easter you can bet money that I will be buying Easter baskets and Easter trinkets for next year’s holiday. And those pastel M&M's, especially the pink ones, would be perfect for a little girl's princess birthday party. Or if you know you'll be throwing a baby shower this summer stock up on those dark chocolate Dove eggs, they are heavenly! Chocolate can live in your freezer for up to a year. And use as part of the decor and edibles for the baby shower.


Lentil Rice Casserole

So you are having people over and your significant other really isn't the best at dinner party conversation so you feel torn between the kitchen (preparing the meal) and entertaining your guests. What's a girl to do? Well make the Lentil Rice Casserole and you can have it in the oven while you quickly vacuum before they arrive, perfectly timed this dish can be ready out of the oven at dinnertime.
Also if you are having vegetarians over and you are a meat eater...make this dish and they will love you!

Lentil Rice Casserole

3 cups chicken/vegetable broth
¾ cup lentils, uncooked
½ cup brown rice, uncooked
¾ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon sweet basil
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Blend all together in a casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 1 ½ hours @ 300. During last 20 minutes top with ½ cup cheddar cheese.


Veggie Scrubber

One of my favorite reuse creations are my vegetable scrubbers. You can make them out of any bag that vegetables come in. Onion bags work great and as you can see here I am using the bag that zucchini came in. Cut off any paper adhered to the bag and then simply roll it up, tie it. Play around with it to form the perfect shape for you. These scrubbers can also be used to help you clean stuck on food without scratching Teflon pots and pans.


Recycled Bag

I am so excited about the new bag I made out of shopping bags. There is no real pattern...I just wing it. But the whole thing is crochet with a N hook.

First fold the bag lengthwise and cut off the end and the handles. I cut the bag in 1 inch strips, each strip is a circle shape when unraveled, and then loop them all together and roll it up in a ball like you would yarn.

I used all different kinds of bags; bread bags, shopping bags, newspaper bags. My next project is going to be using only one kind of bag like the newspaper bags.



Ok I admit it...I love scrap booking. With 2 kids creating these albums for us to have and enjoy means a lot to me. Also it taps into another aspect of my creativity. What I don't like about scrap booking is how it adds to the consumerism mentality that takes place here in the USA. You could spend a small fortune on all the stickers, papers, embellishments etc that line aisle after aisle of your local craft store. It's actually hard to resist. But as I walked the aisles myself yesterday looking for a stencil of the alphabet I couldn't bare to spend $13 dollars on one alphabet. So I came home empty handed and during the drive it hit me...I should make my own stencil. And so I did. Yes, it won't last forever...but are you really going to want to use the same font of an alphabet forever anyhow? And when your done just throw it in the recycling can.
I printed out the alphabet ( Rockwell Extra Bold at 120) on heavy duty card stock and cut out each letter with an exacto knife. This part takes time but after you cut out a few letters your mind begins to clear and you reach a zen state of mentality. It's glorious! And now I have a stencil that I can trace letters for my title on each layout.


Vegetable Stock

I'm a little crazy about creating healthy meals for my family. With 2 sons that are extremely picky-eaters they keep me on my toes trying to find ways to sneak protein and vegetables in their diets. Recently I've got my parents on my healthy eating bandwagon. They pay me to make 2 weeks worth of food for them. So far in a month my dad has lost 4 pounds and my mom has lost 2 pounds. But even better than weight loss is that my mom's doctor was so pleased that her cholesterol levels are down to a normal rate. See Mom and Dad...this healthy eating thing is pretty cool!

I recently learned how to make vegetable stock and it's one of those staples that are great to have in your fridge. A little vegetable stock can be used in place of oil when sauteing veggies, adds extra flavor and less fat! All you have to do is when you are cutting up vegetables for a dish put all the pieces of vegetables that you would normally throw in the trash in a large pot. I'm talking about the ends of an onion, the skin of an eggplant etc. And then fill with water and boil for an hour. Remove the large chunks of vegetables and throw away or put in your compost. Run the liquid throw a sieve. And wha-la you have vegetable in your fridge and add to sauces or use in place of oil for sauteing.

The added bonus is that you are using something once more before throwing it away!


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