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.


Grocery List Notepad

I saw this on The Small Object (I copied her text which I hope was OK) and knew it would make a great addition to my Christmas presents this year. I followed The Small Object directions and bought the Lithco Compound that she mentions but I chose the white which actually dries clear. For the backing I cut up a cereal box and adhered the magnet. This is the magnet I used because they are super strong, plus it just doesn't get any easier than peel and stick...right now I need easy. I see many notepads in my future because there is a ton of this compound left over. It doesn't even look like I used any of it. Notepads for everyone! :)


Christmas Craft: Kitchen items

This year I decided to give gifts that would play an important role in the room where everyone ends up piling in...the kitchen. I'm often surprised how many people end up in our teeny tiny kitchen, but there is something about a kitchen that draws people in. Patchwork pot holders, matching towels and dishcloths appeared under many trees. Here is a sample of a set I made, each gift I used different fabric. For the inside of the pot holders I used 3 layers of fleece, it's much cheaper than batting. And the towels I purchased in a huge lot at Costco. An added bonus is that all of the fabric is from scraps. All in all a very low cost, crafty Christmas!


Box Tops for Education

I think every school collects box tops. Box tops can be found on the packaging of many of your favorite products, from Cheerios® to Ziploc® bags. If you don't have kids, collect box tops anyhow and reward your favorite child relative with a bag full of box tops. Most schools offer rewards for the amount of box tops collected by a classroom. My niece's school rewards the class with a pizza party, my son's school rewards with an additional recess. An added bonus is that many of the box tops have a far in the future expiration date, so it gives you time to collect them.
And free money for any school is well worth the effort.



I can't believe I've never made granola before this week. So please excuse me if you are a granola expert, and if you are... please post your recipe in the comments. But this week, with the kids home we've been doing a lot of baking. Here is the recipe I used.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
5 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Add in only the last 15 mins of cooking:
1/2 cup raisins
handful of chocolate chips
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup coconut

Mix brown sugar, oil and honey in saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Combine dry ingredients in large cake pan. Pour sugar mixture over dry mix and mix well. Bake at 375 for 15 mins. Take pan out of oven and stir, add remaining ingredients and bake for 15 mins more.
Store in an airtight container.

Granola would also make a great last minute hostess gift along with a box of tea or some coffee for the "morning after" a party gift.


Oatmeal Bread: Bread Machine Recipe

I bought our bread machine to make Logan's gluten free bread, I've been using it for months and never thought to make the rest of the family bread too. I've been getting tired of scones and muffins for breakfast, I thought a nice bread with honey, that I recently purchased at a craft show, sounded like a delightful way to start the day . I was surprised that there were no eggs in the recipe, regardless it turned out wonderful. I got the recipe from the back of the bag of King Arthur Bread Flour.

3 cups (13.5 oz) Bread Flour
1 cup (3.5 oz) Rolled Oats
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons (.75 oz) Honey
2 1/4 teaspoons (.25 oz) Instant Yeast (not rapid-rise) or 1 pkt Dry Active Yeast*
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) Lukewarm Water
1/4 cup (.25 oz) Dry Milk Powder
Place wet ingredients in the machine first, followed by the dry and adding the yeast on the top.


Marvel Comic Book Subscriptions for Kids

If you need a last minute gift for a superhero lover in your life, I highly recommend getting a comic book subscription. Both of my boys get a Marvel Adventures comic book in the mail each month. What kid doesn't enjoy getting mail? And I feel as though I'd rather my kids read about superheros instead of watching shows about them. All in all it's good content. Recently an issue was about recycling and the heroes are, of course, always doing the right thing. These comics are geared towards kids, all ages, make sure to check the rating before buying. So you don't have to worry about any porn like pictures.
Picture from the Marvel website.


Zoe's Birthday Doll

I've never made a doll before and one of our favorite friends recently turned 4, Zoe= sister/twin of Nathaniel mentioned in an earlier post.
I knew I wanted to make a doll for Zoe. She's a girly girl and I never get the chance to craft girly stuff. The doll is made from recycled materials and leftover scraps of fabric. Her head, for example, is made from an old t-shirt that Zane outgrew. I crocheted her purple hair and stitched it on her head. Her face is embroidered by hand and I added purple glasses since Zoe wears glasses. The shirt and dress are made from scraps of fabric from my stash, and I added a vintage button in Zoe's favorite color-PINK.
My favorite part of the doll is her flower tattoo. Both of Zoe's mamas have tattoos on their arms so if any girl could have a tattooed doll it would be Zoe.
It was hard giving her up, I enjoyed seeing her in my craft room, but I'm so happy to make something special for Zoe. Who, as one of her mamas told me she has named the doll Gretchen! Love that!!


Autism: Learning to Read Video

When you put 2 great minds together, amazing things happen. I honestly believe a higher power was involved with matching Jon and I up, and then delivering us Logan. We work so well together and together we are advocates for our sons and their learning. Logan has been struggling in Kindergarten, there is a team of folks, who are awesome, that offer him various services throughout the week. But the one area that he has had a hard time with is learning to read. He doesn't comprehend why you would want to rhyme, sounding things out is too much processing for him right now. Other kids in his class can read and write and he's not doing either. It's been a huge blow to his self esteem. Which crushes Jon and I. So we came up with this idea one night over a bottle of make a video of all the words he is expected to learn to read by the end of Kindergarten. See, when Logan was around 2 we started to notice more things were a bit "off" compared to his peers and the big red flag was his memory. The kid can memorize like no one I've ever known. At 2 (and even now) he can watch a 30 minute show and 5 minutes later recite the whole thing back to you. And once it's in that brain of his, it's in there forever. Which is both a brilliant thing and a curse...for those times when I didn't have my best parenting moments. :) So the video is not just the words on the screen because we knew the only way to truly capture his attention is to then provide a short reward video. My hubby did an awesome job putting this project all together while I threw out the design ideas and asking "can you do this...". We are wrapping it up and putting it under the tree and hoping it will be the video that gets a lot of action in our DVD player. If any local folks want a copy for their kindergarten kids please let me know and I'll hand it off to you at the school drop off.


Christmas Craft is OVER!

Hallelujah! I finally finished all of my Christmas crafts! Some I abandoned and now they are on my to-do list for the kids' birthdays. I made 9 calendars this year and I've promised myself to make the calendars simple next year. I'm scaling back because they are so labor intensive being completely made by hand that I end up dreading making them.

I'll start sharing the details of the rest of the gifts once Christmas approaches. This year everyone got the same exact thing, fabric styles were different per person. I highly suggest trying this because it's so much easier to reproduce the same thing 9 times. I know it's not as fun but the gifts get made quickly and easily.
Stay tuned for Christmas Craft details!

12/16/2008 - RE:MIX foster youth programs

My friend Gia has started this remarkable company to help kids in the foster care system to enjoy a wilderness retreat. Watch the video, buy a calendar, help Gia make a difference in the lives of so mnay children who have been forgotten.


Nathaniel's Schedule Chart

I posted Logan's schedule chart a while back, it has helped immensely with his anxiety over the plan for the day. When our friends are over they always admire Logan's chart and comment how they need to get one for their son, Nathaniel who isn't autistic but also has anxiety about the day. We were recently invited to Nathaniel's b-day party and I knew right away what I'd be making for him. Instead of using Velcro to adhere the pictures, I made vinyl pockets to put each card into and one large pocket to hold all the cards. The entire thing is made from scraps of fabric and quilted together with easy tabs to hang on the wall. I hope Nathaniel enjoys planning his days from now on.


E.M.Papers- Free Printable Greeting Cards

EM Papers is a bit different from all those other free online cards. These cards you do not send via email but instead print them out and mail them. I'm not a fan at all of the email version of cards...I know it's the more environmentally friendly thing to do but I like getting the snail mail. My inbox gets so bogged down with junk that an email card actually barely gets opened. Whereas the paper counterpart I get excited to see, if it's a cute picture or meaningful message it gets displayed for the month of my bday and then it gets reborn in the scrap paper pile and from there who knows what it will become. But it will become something. :)

I'm going to warn you...I know it's a little odd that on this website you have to add the cards with no price, to your shopping basket and checkout... but the cards are free that do not have a price. Some of the cards clearly say they are $1.50. There isn't a hidden fee for the free cards that will get you in the end or anything, I was kinda expecting that.

Surprise the next person on your birthday list, with a birthday card because 'Birthdays are Better with Botox' as the card above states on the inside. I am so sending this to my MIL, she is going to think this is hilarious!


GUEST BLOGGER: Jon Skovron (AKA: CocktailDad)

Old School Shaving

shavingLast January, I came across a blog post at zenhabits that suggested a way to save money, save the environment, and have healthier skin all at the same time: shaving the old fashion way, with a real razor. When I mentioned this to Gretchen, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. After all, only a month before, I accidentally drove a screw through my hand while fixing our son’s toy. Once I explained that it wasn’t the folding straight razor, a la Sweeny Todd, but the double-edged “safety razor”, she relaxed a little. And (knock on wood) I’ve been doing it ever since with only a few nicks. And I love it.

One of the key ingredients to old school shaving is what is generally referred to as a wet shave. Using a shaving brush and shaving soap (not that chemical-laden stuff you buy in the can), you make your face so soft and slick that the razor glides across, giving you the smoothest, gentlest shave you’ve ever had. Finish off with a splash of witch hazel as your aftershave, instead of all those scented things that just dry out my skin.The only real expenses are the one-time purchase of the razor handle and the shaving brush. And for those, you can spend as little or as much as you want. My first brush was only $7. It fell apart after a few months, but by then, I was sure that I wanted to commit to this and didn’t mind spending the $20 for a decent brush. The actual razors themselves are only a few bucks for a ten pack (as opposed to $20 for a four pack of Mach 3 disposables). The shaving soap is another dollar or two and one cake will last you at least 3-6 months. That’s also a lot less waste and chemicals you’re putting out into the world.One word of caution. It may seem obvious, but remember that you’re dragging a razor across your face. You can’t just rush through this like you can with the plastic disposables. There is a skill to this that requires patience and practice to learn. It’s a dying art perhaps, and in a way, strangely decadent.If you’re interested in embarking on this journey, or perhaps you’re desperate for a last minute gift item for one of those hard to shop for guys, there are a lot of great videos out there that can help you (or them) get started.


Creating Holiday Traditions

This will be the first Christmas since Jon and I have been together that we are spending it in our house. That's 8 years of traveling folks! I'm so excited for Christmas morning, hearing the boys pitter patter down the steps to see the presents under our tree. I want to make this Christmas special. And I also want to create some holiday traditions. So this year I decided to make 25 of these blue felt stars to decorate our tree. On each star there is an embroidered word that Jon and I came up with together that reminds us of the holiday season. Everyday the boys take turns to hang a star on the tree and we talk about the word, what it means, how we can demonstrate that into our lives. Every other year we will celebrate in Arizona with Jon's parents but I hope when the boys look back on the years we spend in our house that they will remember it fondly.


Eating out of the Pantry

We went out of town that day after Thanksgiving and the week before the trip I concentrate on eating what is in the fridge before food goes bad. I'm sure many of you do this or else you give the food away so someone else can enjoy it. (Thanks Wendy for those veggies, remind me to tell you about the radishes!)
We arrived back from our trip and I haven't had the time to go to the grocery store or Costco. I've been volunteering at Logan's school for the Scholastic Book Fair and also the sickness/cold that has been making it's rounds in the neighborhood has hit our house too. So there I am on Thursday wondering what in the hell am I going to eat for lunch. I scrounge the fridge. the pantry and I come up with a bean-tomato-cheese-quesadilla. Not too shabby for only having a can of black beans, a can of stewed tomatoes, a garlic and remnants of 2 kinds of cheeses and flour burritos. I added some taco seasoning and I must admit it was quite good. And I still have leftovers of the beans and tomatoes that I can use for a dinner. I'm always curious to see how long we can actually go before running to the store. (This happens to me often, here and here.) Jon might have his dream come true-a plate of meat for dinner since I have a whole turkey in the freezer that needs cooked.


An Animal Encyclopedia is a MUST HAVE for every house

One of the things I find so fascinating about autism is how obsessed with a subject matter kids on the spectrum become. Logan has gone through many interesting subject matters, and when he is interested in something he dives head first. One of our recent interests was butterflies. He had to know everything there was about the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. Currently he has moved on to spiders. We read books about spiders, watch movies and pretend play we are spiders. While at Borders, in the bargain section, I recently stumbled upon this awesome Animal Encyclopedia. Sadly I can't find it anywhere online but I'm sure this one is just as good though I haven't seen it for myself. An animal encyclopedia is a perfect coffee table book to have out all the time, in our house the boys can look up an animal and we then curl up on the couch and read cool facts. So if you have some kids that you need to buy gifts for, skip the plastic crap made in china and head to the book store. If a child is past reading board books, I would suggest buying an animal encyclopedia book. Any child, boy or girl from ages 3 -10 years old will find something that interests them and it may spark a bit of family time too.


A gift of Peace: Christmas Ornament

I'm making ornaments for stocking stuffers this year. I've never actually made an ornament before, and I really like the quick craft time it takes to produce the finished product. I've adorned this wooden block with scraps of paper from my scrap booking stash. It's a perfect way for me to use the tiny pieces I hate to throw in the recycling bin. My favorite part of the ornament is the vintage button on the top. I've inherited my mother's button collection, which is more than one woman can use on clothing in her lifetime even if she's making clothes for her entire family of 4. So I'm excited to put them to good use too. I hope this gift of peace finds you well.


Matchbook Notepad

It's really hard to share my crafting posts right now because I'm currently making Christmas gifts. Hopefully I'll have them wrapped up and finished after this weekend, I hate when I'm still making gifts all the way to Christmas. I prefer to have some time to sit back and enjoy the holiday music, pull out the 2 sticks and cast on. With nothing in particular in mind...just to sit and knit next to the Christmas tree. Ah it's a moment in time I'd like to bottle up and keep in my pocket for those days when I feel like my head may explode.

Here is something that everyone will be getting in their Christmas Stocking this year, a Matchbook Notepad. I used 2 scraps of scrapbook paper and card stock and adhered them back to back to each other. Adding paper that I've collected for recycling, a bit of folding and a staple and you are done. Simple. Yet great to stuff in your purse or back pocket to jot down quick notes or to do lists.


Busy week~School Battles

Last Monday was parent visitation day at Logan's school, you know where you go and sit in on the class for a few hours and watch what a typical day looks like. His teacher is not a good fit for him. I know she is good for some kids but for Logan he needs a teacher that will give him a little extra attention, push him to be a part of the group. And I get it...23 kids in a class is hard...but here is a kid with an IEP that has a list of demands and they are not being met. I have observed the class for a few days and still am not happy with the placement. Logan is completely withdrawn. A classic complaint of parents with autistic kids is that they feel like they have to pull their kid out of a thick fog. Well since school has started, I have felt that way. Don't get me wrong Logan use to be withdrawn all the time, but that was before the GF/CF diet. Since the diet change, he's changed for the better. And occasionally he will become withdrawn when he is over stimulated in his environment. Now after watching his classroom for a few days I see that he is not being engaged at all and sadly he is being "left behind", and there my heart begins to break.

We've had meetings with all the folks that make up his IEP TEAM and the principle and after much convincing we feel as though we have finally gotten through to them that Logan needs to be in another class. Many of his special therapists agreed that he needs to be in a more social environment, the class he's in right now is not what I would call social. Though I know there are others who will disagree with me.

All in all, I'm not happy with my choices of education. It's so sad that the Montessori method of teaching was originally developed for children with mental and physical disabilities and that those schools are now not available to the people who could really benefit from them because they are so freakin' expensive. I looked into the local charter Montessori school, which is free, but they are full for Logan's age and also they won't take kindergarten unless the child has had previous private Montessori school experience. And to top it off it's a lottery process to get in!

And so right now we wait for the principle to call and tell us when he will be moved. If the phone call doesn't happen we'll be making an appointment with an advocate. What this school needs to realize is that Jon and I are fighters when it comes to our children. We won't be pushed aside and forgotten.

Things must change...



I am thankful for many things.
What I am most thankful looking at these 3 beautiful faces everyday.
Life is good.


Over One Thousand Unique Visitors!!!

Back when Jessica and I started this blog we installed a google analytics reader into the blog, many blogs do this to know how many people visit the blog daily. I am so very excited to announce that over 1 thousand people read this blog...1, 104 to exact. :)

Jessica has decided to depart from writing posts, life has been hectic for her with working full time and school, but has promised to guest post when she has something fantastic to share with, crafts or otherwise.
But I'll still be here! I so enjoy being a part of your daily blog reading. THANK YOU for reading, for commenting and for taking a moment of your day to spend with me. You all ROCK!!! I am so thankful to have this special place to share my journey with you all.


Ceiling Fan Makeover

My aunt gave us this beautiful ceiling fan, and was kind enough to offer to install it too. This "living close to family" thing really does pay off! The only downside of the fan was that it had shiny brass features , I forgot to take a before picture, oops! The frugal part of me could not turn down a free, much needed ceiling fan only because it was part brass and we are definitely a brushed silver household. I pulled out this indoor/outdoor paint that I bought 5 years ago to paint the tacky brass handles in our first apartment in Seattle. Can you believe after all our moves I still have that bottle of paint?!?! Crazy! Oh, the paint is called Sophisticated Finishes and I bought my bottle at Michael's. As you can see from the pictures it does a wonderful job of covering up brass, this is only after 2 coats.


Scrappin' inside a frame

So I wanted to switch some stuff up in the living room...keep it fresh. Because I like to move every year and we are now staying put, I rearrange the living room and change pictures in the frames seasonally if not sooner. I have these awesome 11x14" frames that I got in the As-Is Section of Ikea but I really couldn't figure out what picture I would want in an 11x14" size. Printing out a picture that big, well it feels like a commitment. And like I said I change the the decor often. So anyway I decided to try framing a scrapbook layout. I am so happy with how it turned out. This is a picture of Logan and one of his best buds from Seattle when they came to visit us last spring. Love the quote on the tag "A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles."


Side table off the street

Just wanted to show off what I picked up on the side of the road recently. A cute little side table, perfect size and color for our house. Thanks neighbor!
Oh and also Dharma was not given anything to sit in on this shot, she's just photogenic. :)
Like my new carpet?!?! HUGE, beautiful wool area rug for 50 bucks on! Love that!


Costco: Kirkland brand goes green

Everyone that knows me, knows I love Costco. For the mere reason that it saves our family a lot of money. Not only can I buy a case of organic soy milk for a reasonable price but now they have environmentally friendly dish soap and laundry detergent under their Kirkland brand name. No longer do you have to shell out a lot of money to do the right thing environmentally. On the Costco website they state that the products were made from the ground up, they choose to make a product that is green and also to make sure they used the most efficient manufacturing and distribution process.

And also as an added bonus their Kirkland brand coffee is not only roasted by Starbucks but it's also fair trade! Rock on Costco for raising the bar!


Pimpin' my camera strap!

I love my new DSLR camera but what I don't love is the tacky Canon advertising strap around my neck. I had to give my camera a makeover. I bought this ribbon ages ago at this cute trim shop in the fashion district in NYC with hopes of making a belt. Well that never happened! I took the strap off the camera and simple stitched the ribbon on turning the ends under. So simple. And now my camera is fashionable.


Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie. It is my favorite dessert of all time. We invited friends over for dinner, they just recently moved to MD from NYC (where we met) and Suzie arrived with a homemade pumpkin pie in her hands. I don't think I've ever actually tasted a pumpkin pie made from a roasted pumpkin and not out of a can. And I am here to tell you that doing the work and roasting the pumpkin is worth every second it takes. This pie is fantastic! I've never tasted anything like it. I don't think I'll be able to enjoy canned pumpkin ever again...Okay that's a total lie!!


Soy-Free Veg Protein Powder

Logan's choices of food are very limiting, so in order to make sure he gets the nutrients he needs I have to be very creative with sneaking food into the dishes he already likes. I recently discovered Naturade Soy Free Veg Protein Powder.
Logan at age 2 decided he was a vegetarian. Zane was just a baby in the highchair and I was feeding him a hard boiled egg for the first time. Logan was very curious about what Zane was eating. So I told him that Zane was trying an egg and then asked if he wanted to try it. He shook his head "no". A few moments later I look over at Logan and he has tears welling up in his eyes, his bottom lip is quivering.
"Logan, what's wrong sweetie?"
Allowing the tears to fall he says ,"Birds come from eggs and eggs come from birds. Zane is eating a bird!"
A full crying session followed. And that was the moment, from then on we have a vegetarian on our hands. I will admit that because his diet is so limited we have fed him meat but called it other things. For example we called fish sticks "crunchy sticks", but while Grammy was visiting us in Seattle she called them fish sticks and Logan went to bed crying "I don't eat Nemo!".

I tried the protein powder by adding in 1/3 cup into his pancake batter, along with extra water. It mixed up well and there is no taste to it so it went completely unnoticed. YAHOO! 1/3 cup is 22 grams of protein. I now put it into everything, pancake batter, pizza dough, bread dough in the bread machine. It's vegan and vegetarian friendly and it also provides 100% of the daily value of B12, plus 8mg of Iron and 150mg of calcium in every serving. B12 is something that is always lacking in a vegetarian diet. If you or your child needs an added boost of protein I highly suggest this powder, and also if you don't like it the company has a 100% product guarantee, for whatever reason.


Field Mice

Mice are a favorite thing in our house right now. It seems as though the last few movies we watched all contain a mouse/rat character.
I wanted to make little mouse friends for the boys. I think I'm going to make more animals. It was so much fun and I think they are so stinkin' cute!


Organizing the Closet

Our guest bedroom has many functions. And one of those is storage of tools and household supplies like paint, toilet paper, shampoo etc. I felt as though we weren't using the space efficiently so I spent all day Saturday organizing. One area in our life that was a problem was our tool storage. I put all the tools on the wall, now you can see if the hammer has not been returned to it's proper space. I also picked up these large silver bins in the As-Is section of Ikea which holds all of our toiletries and such. And then I nailed the lid of a mason jar to the underside of the shelf and inside each jar are nails and screws.
Now we just need someone to visit so that I will finally have the motivation to paint over those last few spots of touch up.


Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is very easy and it's vegetarian and vegan. Add it to your fall recipes.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 pounds of butternut squash or 2 medium sized squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 small onion, chopped
5 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all items in a large pot and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 mins until sweet potato is tender. Remove lid and heat and allow to cool. Once cool, puree in batches. Return pureed soup to heat and allow to warm. Serve with a hearty bread.

Can't get easier than that!
Thanks Jon for being a sport for the picture.


Reflection and Thankfulness

Today, for me, is a day of reflection and thankfulness. I am so thankful to have this beautiful community of friends and family around me. I believe in the change that Obama will bring to this country. I am so thankful to be a part of this history and the hope that shines ahead.


Crochet Dishrags

I've been disgusted with our sponges. I feel as though I'm replacing them constantly, not very earth friendly of me. It was time to make my own dish rags. Using cotton yarn I cast on 30 stitches and single crocheted the whole thing until it measured 7 inches by 8 inches.
I've been told that you can microwave your sponge to kill bacteria, but we don't have a microwave.
I've also been told you can put your sponge on the top rack of the dishwasher to kill bacteria, but we hand wash in our house.
So I'm going to try the crochet dishcloths for awhile and finally break my sponge addiction. I think these would also make great Christmas gifts as part of my "greener living" basket.


IKEA Småland

Part of me feels slightly guilty and the other part of me is so thankful for an hour. That's all I ask, an hour to turn off my mom-on-call-duty. If you are a mom, you know you're on call 24/7 regardless whether you feel up to it or not. So on Friday there was no school and the boys are bouncing off the walls. I'm just waiting for my next door neighbor to come over and complain about the bouncing that makes her "nerves shot". I want to laugh in her face when she tells me this. HA! But instead I hustle the kids out the door for a quick drive to Ikea where they both are allowed to play in the Småland kid area now that diapers no longer exist in our lives. An hour. I grab a 99 cent coffee and I sit and write blog posts to prepare for the week and crochet. Thank you Erin for reminding me of this small gem. And for those of you with an Ikea nearby, give it a shot. Don't shop. Just sit and do what you want for an hour. Ah heaven!
Picture is taken from the Ikea website.


Snow Globes

One day while out shopping for winter jackets at the local thrift store, the boys were awe struck by the Christmas aisle. There they found many snow globes that they wanted, totally fascinated with the falling snow. Seeing the wonder in their eyes I was tempted to buy one. I actually let Logan carry one around the store until I noticed it was leaking. Yuck!
But it gave me an idea. Let's make our own snow globes!!! A quick stop at Home Depot to buy aquarium sealer and we were all set. I took baby food jars and glued a plastic toy to the inside of the lid using the aquarium sealer. Then the hardest part, waiting 24 hours for it to dry. Then the boys picked out the glitter they wanted to use and filled it with tap water. Here's a warning though..don't use colored glitter because the water will change color. After putting the lid on, I used the aquarium sealer around the lid for a perfect fit. Now each of them have their own glitter snow globe.
If only glitter fell from the sky in real life!


Quilt top in 3 hours

Zane starts preschool next week and everyone has been asking me, "what will you do with 3 hours all to yourself?"
I'll tell you what...I'll be creating!
Zane decided to take a 3 hour nap today. This hasn't happen in I knew when he woke up he'd either be wearing a new size of clothes or else sick. But it gave me a glimpse of what to expect for next week. In 3 hours I made this quilt top for Logan. I've been meaning to make a new blanket for him and with my resent desire to not buy anything, I set out for my fabric stash and pulled out all the pieces that I knew Logan would love. Space aliens, rocket ships, Toy Story Buzz Lightyear and Woody fabric, and butterflies. Yes, I have a sweet boy who loves butterflies! Also some big blue pieces since blue is his favorite color.
I will be honest I've been a little intimidated with the idea of quilting. The patterns, the rules. Well I threw all those stifling things out the window and just went to work letting the pieces decide where to go. Putting a puzzle together really. It was a lot of fun, to just accept that I have no idea what the end result will look like. This isn't for a contest or state fair after all, it's for a child to love and snuggle. Give it a try...I'd call it liberating, honestly!


Moving Tips

You could say we have moved a lot. You could say that. Logan who is 5 is on his 7th place of residence. Nope, we aren't running from the law...we just like to move. Sounds crazy to most, I know.
A friend of mine who I made that cute patchwork/crochet baby hat for is moving back to the east coast. I am so excited!!! She emailed asking for some cross country moving advice and as I wrote the email I thought there might be a few other readers who could benefit from my moving advice.
  1. First and foremost-do your research! Whether it is cross town or cross country move, go online and shop prices of whether it would be cheaper to use a pod company, or pack a Uhaul type truck and move yourself or hire movers. Within each of those decisions lies more research and shopping. If you decide to do the pod thing, as we did for our cross country move, there are many companies to choose from so do your research. Also don't forget to google the name of the company along with the words "coupon code", to see if you can save even more money.
  2. Pack every crevice. Roll underwear and stuff in shoes. Use blankets and linens as padding for furniture and protect wood finishes. If using a pod, invest in bungee cords so that you can pile things up along the walls and secure tightly.
  3. During a cross country move I highly suggest making a list of items to give away, sell or trash. Walk into the room and take in the inventory. Divide your paper in half and on one side write the things you want to sell, on the other the items to give away. Each room should have it's own piece of paper. Once you list an item on craigslist or freecycle, cross it off your list.
  4. Read! I highly suggest reading the book Simple Steps to Selling Your Home. There is a ton of really good advice, advice that your Realtor will most likely not say to you. For example clear off all counters, no microwave in the kitchen. In the bathroom remove everything except a soap dish or soap dispenser.
  5. My tips for selling your house: Get rid of your large trash can and opt for a small one under the sink that you can take out often. Who wants to look at a smelly house.
  6. If it's valuable like your grandmother's wedding ring, get it out of your house. You can't trust another person's agent to watch every single person who comes into your home and there are stories of people stealing things from open houses.
  7. Move all of your toiletries into a travel bag to clear clutter from bathroom cabinets.
  8. Make sure to remove any laundry from your washer or drier when someone comes to view your house.
  9. Take down all personal pictures, the buyer should envision themselves in your home and that's kind of hard if your chubby faced kid is hanging on every single wall.
  10. If you are "staging" your home for every viewing put those items in a Rubbermaid container that you can access quickly. When I staged my home I set the table with cute plastic dishes and put out my agents card along with the color flier.
  11. Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! Pictures sell your home, if your agent says "we want them to come and see your home, not online pictures"-look for another agent. That's bullshit. I wouldn't look at a home if it didn't have pictures says something must be wrong that they can't take pictures.
We sold our home in Seattle in 5 days and then had a bidding war between 3 people which resulted in us getting more than our asking price in a market that wasn't the greatest.
OK that's all I can think of right now...hope that helps some of you. If anyone else has anything to add please do so in the comments. Happy moving!!!


Burda Style Sewing Patterns

OK I know that this discovery is going to make some of my readers very, very happy. Are you ready...FREE PATTERNS!!! Oh yeah baby. Burda has "Copyright-free patterns for all skill-levels", I have not tried to print anything yet...just gazing lovingly at all the new wardrobe possibilities. I am in love with this, this and oh yeah this shirt.
Picture is courtesy of Danielle St. Laurent ,Burda pattern:Sophia


Don't squash the curls! Hat

It's rare that I actually make something for myself. I'm always creating to give as a gift or something for my kids...well winter is approaching and I desperately needed a hat. But I didn't want any ol' hat. I wanted a hat that wouldn't squash my curls, a hat that I didn't have to commit to wearing all day because under it my hair would be flat and unattractive, a hat I could take off when I arrived to my destination. I never follow a pattern so I can't tell you what I followed or how exactly I made it. It's so liberating to crochet in this manner, give it a try! I start at the bottom and I made a chain stitch that fit very loosely around my head, I didn't want any part of my hat to be tight on my head. Once I made the chain into a circle, I single crocheted for awhile to create the band. Then I moved onto double crochet, I did that for a while until I knew all of my hair would fit into it. And then I started decreasing, slowly, using a half double crochet. In order for it to be perfect I try on the hat a lot. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and I'm loving the no squash curl factor.


Green Halloween

Personally I am conflicted about the Halloween/trick or treating issue mainly because the candy Logan will get he won't be able to eat because it won't be gluten free. My hubby who has never liked sweets did the trick or treating thing as a kid to just go with the flow of what the other kids were doing. And I get that, but why not try and change how we celebrate Halloween? Do we really need to continue to make it into a consumption holiday? Do we really, honestly need to continue that?!?! With childhood obesity on the rise?

Well I love what they are doing in Seattle with Green Halloween. For all you Seattle folks, this may be old news. But I had to share this with my east coast readers to show how different life is on the pacific northwest, and that's a good thing! East Coasters have a lot of catching up to do on the Green movement.
Green Halloween is a non-profit, grassroots community initiative to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays, starting with Halloween. It is hosted by Treeswing, a 501(c) 3 committed to improving the lives of children through nutrition, exercise and healthy environments.

My kids are excited about going "trick or treating" this year for the first time but we're only stopping by a handful houses of people we know and then attending a party. But I think I'm going to opt out of handing out candy and instead pick up some recycled pencils, because I'd rather promote creativity than consumption.

Check out Green Halloween's FAQ's page on some common questions and concerns about changing the way you celebrate Halloween this year.


Keep the creative juices flowing

We all get stuck sometimes...when we need to breathe fresh creative energy into our work. Well I tried to do that by creating a mini album for a friend's birthday. She is a scrapbooker so I combined a bunch of coordinating print paper and solid colored card stock, along with letter chip boards and tags. On white card stock I put an idea for a new layout or a photography challenge. Two of my favorites were the "50 things I love" layout in the picture above and also the photography challenge to "spend an entire week on your knees, taking pictures of your kids to see the world from their vantage point." It took a few weeks for me to come up with the ideas, basically I always had a notebook in my bag and when I would think of an idea I'd write a note to myself. The book is held together by a binder ring, one of my favorite things. And all of the riboons tied on the binder ring can also be used in layouts. The covers of the book are laminate samples from Home Depot. Yes you read that right! While shopping for new kitchen cabinets and countertops I took some samples and then found them to be perfect for this book. And you can't beat free!


The Queen of Storage Bins

The house we bought is 70 years old and back then I guess people had less stuff because overall the house would be classified as small. Personally I love small spaces. I feel more at home in them, I'm sure it has to do with the fact that my bedroom growing up was the size of a walk in closet. So with a small house you meet many space/storage issues. Our bedroom was a challenge because a dresser and a full size bed would not fit. I should say it would actually fit but you wouldn't be able to walk around the bed. So I took shelving that we already had (purchased at Ikea) from our old kitchen and storage bins from another organizing unit that wouldn't fit anywhere in the new house and wha-la a "dresser". Each bin holds important items like underwear, socks etc. And the best part is that the bins force you to be organized. The days of socks and underwear mingling in a big mess of a drawer are gone! As you can see these bins haven't gotten their proper labels, don't worry it's on the to-do list.


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