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.


Solo Parenting

Jon has been at a book conference in NYC which leaves me solo parenting for a few days. These are always the moments when I have so much respect for single parents. It is not easy to do this parenting thing on your own. I bow down to you solo parents.
This has been my journey...
  • During the last few days my kids have watched more TV than I would like to admit.
  • I've put myself in time out because I didn't like the tone of my voice when it came out of my mouth.
  • I'm more likely to go to bed at a reasonable hour since I don't have anyone interesting to talk to at 10pm.
  • I eat like crap because I can't stand cooking for just one person. (my kids never eat what we eat.)
  • I can't find the time to work out.
  • Because I'm eating like crap and not working out, I feel like utter crap. And I'm sure I am no fun to be around.
  • I slack on the schedule. Bath time happens later, if at all...but in the end does it really matter?
I learn a lot about myself during these rare times. I tend to take more risks when I am solo parenting. I, for some reason, encourage Zane to do crazy things like skateboard off a park bench. I feel the need to fill them with me...and just me..the things I like to do, my thoughts. It's an interesting experience. When I have a moment to actually think about it.

When it's all said and done, I'll be very glad to have my partner on this parenting journey return home and balance us out a bit. But in the meantime we are headed to the beach..maybe I can teach the boys how to surf!


Upcycled Polo Shirt

As you know I've been crazy about making rag rugs and I put a call out to family and friends to save all their old, colored t-shirts for me. My dad, who has a bit of a t-shirt consuming problem, handed over a big ol' bag of t-shirts. There on the bottom were some men's polo shirts. I tried to cut and crochet them to make a rug but the material is just too thick no matter how thin I make the strips. So I decided to try and upcycle a shirt instead. I liked the length of the polo but the fit was all wrong. I laid out the polo on the dining room table and on top put a t-shirt that I already own that I really like the fit of and used that as my guide. I decided to totally cut out the collar and buttons which created a big flashdance-esque neckline. I needed something to cover the logo so I grabbed some scraps of fabric and cut a petal and made a yo-yo flower (really awesome tutorial here from Heather). After a few more washings I'm hoping the petal becomes really frayed. It didn't take long at all to make and in the end it's just a fun shirt to hang out in on the playground.


Wedded Bliss

This past weekend I made the journey to Buffalo NY to attend my dear friend Elisa's wedding. This wedding goes down in history as one of the best weddings I've ever attended. It was total rock star! Everything went so drama...Elisa and Balazs looked beautiful. And in the end it just felt like it was about them. So many weddings turn into this beast of an event. I never felt like they were doing something to appease a mother/MIL or because it was tradition. Every detail represented who they are, as a couple and as individuals. Of course I have to share the crafty goodness at the wedding. These little hinged boxes were the place cards and the favors. Elisa did a fantastic job making each one unique. I adore mine, decoupaged in the NYC subway map. So appropriate for me and I just love it!! Inside candy, covered almonds in an organza bag.
I also had a fantastic time reconnecting with college friends. We stayed up late, piled into a hotel room telling old stories and laughing. It has been a long time since I have laughed that hard. Thank you all for a fantastic time! Let's do it again real soon!


So long vintage cars.

One of my husband's parents saved all his Hot Wheel/Matchbox cars from his childhood and we've been letting the boys zoom them around the living room floor, imitating beltway traffic and creating race tracks and ramps. And then last weekend while at a birthday party, my cousin reminded me that the lead laws had not passed when most of these cars were made.
Of course paranoia set in and even though my boys are way past putting random objects/toys in their mouths I still don't want them playing with something that could be harmful. A lot of the cars have paint that is chipping and the oldest one was made in 1969. Love how matchbox/hot wheels prints the year on the bottom. So... so long vintage toy cars. Hopefully the replacement cars will last long enough for my boys to hand over to their children.


Computer Monitor Gets a Lift

Jon's monitor needed a lift, literally. He wanted the screen to be higher. So I took the idea of using door stoppers from my desk upcycle and paired it with a door cabinet that I picked up for free at The Community Forklift. A bit of paint and wood filler and the project was done. The added bonus is that Jon can store his laptop under it, which creates more desk space.


Gini's Birthday Tag Book

At my Mother-in-law's party I snapped a few shots of guests, not as many as I had hoped but I was on kid duty while Jon played bartender so my focus was split. I combined the pictures with the responses on the RSVP tags and with a binder clip made a tag book. Still such a fan of these, see here and here. If you missed the invites here is that post.
The picture on the cover is recycled from a birthday card I received. I loved the stitching on it that I couldn't see it just thrown in the recycling bin. I was inspired by a post by Ali Edwards, which I now can't find, but in the post she talked about creating a layout or book that is totally opposite of the way you normally create. Normally my layouts are all very organized, color coordinated and I don't know..just so. With this book I added embellishments on the ring that just float around, like the G in the second picture. Also the pages are different sizes, the tags are all the same but some people sent a separate paper with a letter to Gini so I created pockets for them to be stored in and those are larger than the tags. Coordinated ribbon finishes it off. And in the mail it goes.


Mount Vernon

One of Logan and Zane's favorite places is Mt.Vernon. It's a little on the pricey side to get in ($15) but after one day of fun we decided to put that money towards a membership($25 for the year per adult, both kids are still free). And so well worth it. The boys love walking around through the museum, going into the hands-on-room, playing with the huge dollhouse. The last time we were there they played so well together with the wooden soldiers, setting up battles and asking questions about where George Washington put his sleeping bag. With their Easter money, the boys headed to the gift shop where they were able to buy their own wooden soldiers. I think we will be seeing a lot of battles in the months to come. But it's also a great way to learn about geography as we map out the actual locations where George Washington's soldiers fought. Unschooling Summer here we come!
If you are in the area...make a day trip and check it out. A great place to take the kids and let them run around!


Hand Embroidered Pillows

I saw this idea a while ago on Plum Pudding and while on the flight home from AZ came across it again in Country Living Magazine. (Congrats Megan! that is so awesome!)
For Mother's Day I whipped these up for my mom and my mother-in-law. Instead of doing a wall hanging, like Plum Pudding, I made throw pillows using only scraps of fabric. Each side of the pillow features one child's hand and the fabric coordinates but is not the same on both sides. Looking back on the pictures now I wish I would have put the date on them. Ah well.
All in all a very simple project to make that hopefully the grandmas' will cherish for a long time.


Baby Bird Rescue

I'll be honest I'm not a fan of outside cats. I despise cleaning up cat shit in my garden and the cat claw marks on the hood of my car irritate me. And yes, we have cats but they stay inside. My biggest pet peeve are cat owners who not only let their cats roam outside but also have bird feeders and bird houses in their yard. This seems so cruel!

The other day Dharma, our dog, found a baby bird and kindly delivered it to me. For once she actually listened to the command "drop it" and placed this frail creature in my hands, with a look that followed as if she was saying "aren't you going to do something?"

I found the birdhouse that the baby bird came from...there are 7 in my neighbors yard to choose from...the giveaway? A dead sibling mauled and hanging out of the opening. I wrapped the bird in a kitchen towel and placed it under the birdhouse and then promptly started calling everyone I know who might have advice on what to do. This was my first encounter with a bird rescue.
Once Jon got home from work the rescue mission began! We removed the dead sibling, I had noticed the mama bird coming close to the birdhouse but never going near the opening. Which I was told by the bird lovers in my life that that was a good sign. Jon placed the bird through the tiny circular hole and then we waited.
Within the hour mama bird was back and feeding her babies. Yes...babies... there was one other baby bird safe in the house. Quiet. Waiting.

The birds are a constant observation in our lives now. Every morning Zane and I check on them, talk to them, watch as the mama feeds them, she has deemed us safe to be near. It is truly amazing. Also a reminder that even in nature, life as usual must go on. I'd like to think the mama bird mourned the loss of her one baby and as so many women I know who have miscarried or lost a child, you have to wipe the tears away because there are other children who need you.
The strength in that action alone takes my breath away.

Life is changing right in our backyard and I'm taking this opportunity to get a jump start on our unschooling summer project. Education happens in these tiny moments.


Fitness Update

I previously posted about my new workout and eating healthy regimen. I am happy to report I am still going strong. I've lost 12.3 pounds since March and 5 inches off my waist! I haven't been doing the Jillian Michaels Shred DVD everyday, I've worked it in throughout the week balancing it with weight training, swimming and biking. I've also signed up to do a century bike ride (100 miles) in September. I'm the type of person that commits to working out if I have a goal or event on the calendar. It holds me accountable.
I honestly feel great. I feel stronger. I carry my body differently. My mood has greatly improved and in general I just feel alive.
Very alive.


Library Book Caddie

I recently scored this caddy at a yard sale for 3 bucks. I primed and painted it white and now it's the perfect spot to store the boys' library books. And because it lives right next to the sofa, all the books are within easy reach for story time. And not spread out in front of the bookcase..this makes for a very happy mommy.


Sofa Table

I've been hunting for a table to go behind our sofa and because no one will really see it I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Also size, every inch, has to be accounted for in our little house. After coming up empty handed in numerous thrift stores, I decided to make my own. I posted a "wanted" ad on freecycle for a piece of wood that was 12 inches wide and 6 feet long. As fate would have it the freecycle gods shined down on me and a kind neighbor had just the piece of wood I needed. Instead of painting the whole thing I decided to cover the top with oilcloth. I bought the legs at Home Depot and installed those in minutes, they came unfinished so I painted the legs white. I'm going for a new country/cottage feel in our living room. Now I can sit on the sofa and actually see the knitting/embroidery/crochet that I am working on with the lights behind me. And speaking of which...those lampshades are next on my list. I think I'm going to try and cover them in fabric. Has anyone ever done that before? Pointers?


Handmade Cards

I love handmade cards. I personally love to receive cards with written notes. Recently I took a night and sat and made a huge stack of cards to prepare for spring and summer birthdays on my calendar.
My life, like many of you, revolves around communicating with, texting etc. It's so nice to actually see someone's handwriting in my mailbox. I've been slacking on mailing out birthday cards the last few months and hopefully my new system will work out better. At the beginning of each month I am going to go through my calendar and mail out birthday cards to everyone in that month. Some folks are going to get very early birthday cards, but I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal. It's the little details that matter most...that someone thought of you to take a moment and write you a letter. I like the details. Big fan actually.


Sewing Table Upcycled

I picked up this sewing table on freecyle (big surprise, right?!?!) and knew I wanted to make it into a desk. Only seems appropriate. I installed a shelf where the sewing machine once lived to hold my Mac mini, wireless mouse and all the cords to the phone, ipod etc... I then took a random piece of wood that we had and covered it in oilcloth and added door stoppers for legs. Isn't that the greatest idea?!!? I picked it up from Lifehacker. This way my printer can live on top and the cords can feed down to the computer. The part of the desk that flips over needed a bit more support to hold my keyboard and originally I was thinking of adding a table leg. I actually went to Home Depot and bought one and on the drive home came up with this brilliant plan to use some of the cool, old books we have. Jon was also excited to have a bit more bookshelf space too.
The woman who I received the sewing table from was clearing out her friend's house after she died at 97!! The friend told me stories about her and at 97 this woman was campaigning for Obama! Love that! She seems like the kind of woman who would have appreciated an upcycle of her sewing table.


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