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.


No Sew Tutu

This Christmas I whipped up some no sew tutus.  They were so easy to make once you get past the headache and frustration of cutting the tulle, goodness I hate working with tulle.  Though the tutus came out so cute and the smiles on the girls faces who received them made it completely worth it!
I followed this tutorial.
I bought 5 yards of tulle for each tutu.  And for the waistband I used elastic, sewing the ends together.  Measure the child's waist and then reduce the size of the elastic by 2 inches and that should be a great fit.  These tutus are so easy to make that I sat on the sofa and attached the tulle to the elastic while watching a movie. With 2 of the tutus I added ribbon every few inches to just add a different element to it.   So simple and a fun, inexpensive gift!


Mouse Hat

"Mommy I want a mouse costume", begged the littlest one in my house.  And if one wants something the other does too but in a different color, of course.
So I put on my creative thinking cap, grabbed a pencil and paper and set out designing a mouse costume.  I started and ended with just the hat because I didn't want to put a ton of work into something that I didn't know if they would even use.  I've learned that lesson many times before.  And I knew the hat would be the coolest part and often all you need is one costume piece to make the character "real".  
The entire hat is made out of felt because it's easy to sew and you don't have to finish the seams.  I added encased wire in the ears so that they would stand up and used elastic and a button at the neck to hold the hat in place.  
Requests from my kids are often the beginning of future designs.  As I was making the mouse hats I envisioned other animals I could make and quickly jotted down notes for future crafting which will grace my etsy store soon.



Mornings like this one make the 45 minute commute worth it.  Glorious!


Holiday Teacher Gifts

I believe teachers should be celebrated and I love adding a little bit of holiday cheer in each of their mailboxes.  This is what I gave to each of the boys teachers.  In each goodie bag is a handmade pocket tissue holder and a small sampling of chocolate chip shortbread cookies.  I wrapped the shortbread cookies in freezer paper and included a label with all the ingredients listed just in case there are any food allergies that I am not aware of.  I included handmade cards with a photo of each of the boys.  Make sure to tell your child's teachers how much you appreciate them!


Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

This recipe is great to make with kids, measure and dump everything in the mixer and then press into a pan.  Super simple!  And they don't break very easily which is great for traveling or if your child needs to transport them in his/her book bag.
  •  3 2⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup arrowroot flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cups mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (any size as it will be melted for topping)
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix all the ingridents together in the mixer except the chocolate chips.
Once the the dough looks fluffy add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Transfer dough to 15- x 11-inch greased pan. Press dough into the pan with your fingers, and then prick all over with fork.
Bake 35 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown and dough looks slightly firm. Remove from oven and, using thin knife, cut shortbread into squares. Allow shortbread to cool completely in pan.
Melt remaining 1 cup chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave 40 seconds to1 minute. Spread melted chocolate onto shortbread, spreading almost to edges. Refrigerate overnight to allow chocolate topping to set. Break apart, and serve.


Reverb 10- Future Self

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Author: Jenny Blake)
Dearest Gretchen/2015,
                Take a deep breath and enjoy this moment. Try to not take everything to heart.  Remember people are processing and growing and you have to allow them time to do that.  Reevaluate the people who surround your life and make sure these are the people who are  helping you to become a better version of yourself.  Don't waste your time on toxic relationships and negative thinking friends, allow them to fall out of view so that you can focus your energy on spreading joy and inspiring others.
Remember to think good thoughts, speak good thoughts and do good thoughts. Daily.
You are a remarkable mother and an amazing friend.  Embrace what life has put in front of you.
Be well,

Last Minute Christmas Shopping- Deals!

Some people are still shopping for Christmas gifts and if you are one of those people make sure to check out this website for printable coupons.
I just printed this coupon for myself, 30% off at Border's.  Merry Christmas to me!
The boys need new pajamas and  I'm hoping to score some on sale at Old Navy and use this 30% off coupon.
And for all you crafty folks here is an extra 40% off at Joann's.
So if you are headed out, stop at Mommy Saves Big first and print off the savings!


Winter Crochet Hat with a Brim

I made this style hat last year for Logan and I absolutely loved the look of it that I had to finally make one for myself.  I didn't use a pattern, I never do, I measured the circumference of my head and then began with single crochet and followed into 2 double crochets into a single stitch so that the hat had a fuller body; decreasing stitches once it reached the desired height.


Winter Scarf

I love scarves, they look good with everything!  Every winter season I like to make a new scarf for myself. 
This scarf is pretty simple using a ribbon yarn for the trim and the core of the scarf is an acrylic wool blend (AKA: not itchy!).  I single crocheted the length of the scarf that I wanted and then continued to single crochet until I reached my desired width.  For the trim I don't know what the official stitch is called, I single crochet into one stitch and then double crochet in the next stitch, do the double crochet 3 times and then single crochet in the 5th stitch and it creates this pretty wavy trim.  Not too girly, just enough flair.


Reverb 10- Five Minutes

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

I want to remember holding Zane and inhaling the scent of his skin while kissing his neck and hearing him giggle in my ear. Logan cradling my face with his hands, him looking directly in my eyes and saying "mommy is happy in this house.  I like you happy mommy!" Laughing with Lauren...moments of pure joy.

Holding it together

While the room fills with singing Logan tries to hold it together.  I like to capture pictures of him in these moments because most people don't see it.  My mother is next to him and probably didn't notice how hard Logan was working to remain at the table and in his chair.   Look at the skin on his forehead and you can see how hard he is pressing his fingers into his head.  He's never been able to tolerate loud groups of people in one room but recently he's done better and has avoided ducking under the table or laying on the floor in a total zoned out state and instead looks like this or completely removes himself from the room.  Most people on the Autism Spectrum have a sensitivity to sound.  This article from talks about building up an immunity to noise by putting the person on the spectrum in loud environments. 
No, he will most likely never join in a group sing a long.  But at least he was with the family and tolerated it for a bit to celebrate Hanukkah. 


Reverb 10- Appreciate

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

The "one" thing that I have come to be most appreciative this year is my family.  You always here phrases like "blood is thicker than water", "family will always be there, friends come and go." And I'll be honest I never truly understood those sayings until this year.  My family has been so supportive and loving during this year of transition for the boys and I.  I've tried harder to take the time and write a note of thanks and  verbally express my gratitude.  I hope that I can one day pay it forward.



Reverb 10- Action

December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

Right now I have a lot of ideas spinning.  Ways in which to fill my spirit, share it with others and live my best life.
My next step is to plan.  Plan a budget, plan my schedule and hopefully it will all come together seamlessly. 
Stay tuned...

Baby Hats

I know most people love to make baby blankets when a new baby arrives in the family.  I, on the other hand, love to make baby hats.  This one I made for our newest family member Elizabeth in white organic cotton with a thin green bamboo yarn stripe.  Hopefully it will coordinate with all of her spring apparel.


Reverb 10- Wisdom

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

My 6 word memoir:
Chose happiness.
Readjusted, dancing through life.



Reverb 10- Party

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

Hands down I think the best party I went to this year was my friend Raven's wedding.  Didn't she look stunning?  And her mom just whipped that veil together that morning!
It goes on my "best weddings ever" list.

Upcycled Fall Leaf Wreath

I bought a few wool sweaters from the thrift store and felted them in my washing machine and dryer.  Quickly on my sewing machine I created veins on each leaf that I cut out from the sweaters.   To make this wreath I pulled out a large piece of cardboard from my recycling bin and cut it in a circle, using a glue gun I hot glued each leaf to the cardboard in a circular pattern in no particular order.  For the center I added the quote "family is one of nature's masterpieces".
I love that this wreath is made entirely of recycled items. 
Also check out my post featuring the leaf ornaments I left on friends' doors.
Crafting out of the recycling bin isn't just for kids, you should give it a try!


Reverb 10- Beautifully Different

Last year I participated in Gwen Bell's project The Best of 2009, and thoroughly enjoyed the moments of reflection which enabled me to manifest and focus on what I wanted to achieve in the new year.  This year she has created something exceptionally exciting, Reverb 10. Each day there is a prompt from a unique author to encourage and inspire you to reflect on the year and then blog about it.  I'm going to try my best to keep up though I am joining the game a little late, only by 8 days. 

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

Hmm...what makes me beautifully different...well, I am a positive person.  In college a friend use to remark in regards to my positive attitude that the glass isn't half full, it's spilling over and dripping off the side of the table.  I like to surround myself with positive people, people who try and see the best in every situation.  I can always find the silver lining in every situation, even the most horrifying.  I like to believe that others are attracted and inspired by my positive spin on life..

The Clean Bin Project

The Clean Bin Project - Trailer from Grant  Baldwin Videography on Vimeo.
I struggle with the issue of waste. I recognize that I think about it more than the average person, borderline obsessively.  I can't just resort to "out of sight-out of mind" which so many people do, sometimes I wish I could.  The amount of waste that my home produces causes me such distress.  And the thing is we don't actually produce all that much waste compared to the average household, but before you know it Christmas morning will be upon us and all of the toys and their packaging, tiny twist ties and plastic shrink wrapped cases will be invading my home.  I secretly wish I could not care, but I do.  I care.  And so does this couple.  They made a film called the Clean Bin Project where they had a friendly competition between each other to not consume anything or acquire waste in one year.
Yes, similar to the film No Impact Man.
But in all honestly does it really matter if there are now 2 films that are similar?  Maybe they might challenge us to follow suit and see what it's like to take the pledge and not consume any more products for a year.  What if we each started off small and pledged to give up one thing that produced waste or tried something different?  Instead of buying Kraft singles individually wrapped what if we bought the other brand that doesn't wrap each slice?
Small changes can make a big impact!


Winter Banner

That sweet baby face is my youngest son, Zane, modeling my previous company's (Aunt Art) hats. 


Portable North Pole

This is the coolest thing I have seen.  Portable North Pole is a personalized video message for your kids from Santa.  I made one for each of the boys and they watched it with wide eyes.  You plug in information to make it personalized for your child; for example the city where you live, your child's age, their grade in school and a very real looking Santa appears in the video.  This will make any child a believer in Santa.
You can also create a video for adults.  Nothing like Santa telling your partner to pick up their undies off the floor!  Enjoy!




Kugel is a traditional jewish side dish.  I made it for Thanksgiving this year but it would be wonderful at a brunch also.  This version is sweet, borderline a dessert, and oh so yummy! 

Noodle Kugel with Caramelized Apples and Raisins
12 oz package of wide egg noodles
One 2 pouind tub of low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups low-fat plain yogurt
4 eggs plus 4 egg whites
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cup raisins
8 apples, peeled and cored and cut into bite sized pieces (I used Gala)
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup agave nector (or sugar)
1 cup of breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9- x 13-inch baking dish with oil.
  2. Cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling water 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
  3. Whisk together cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, egg whites, cinnamon, agave nector and salt in a bowl. Fold in egg noodles and raisins.
  4. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook 4 minutes without stirring. Stir apples and cook 4 minutes more, or until softened and golden on both sides.  Add apples to noodle mixture.
  5. Spoon noodle mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 40 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Elf on a Shelf

We are starting a new Christmas tradition this year and I am so excited about it. Meet Happy, our Elf on a Shelf.  You can pick up your very own Elf on a Shelf at any Barnes and Noble. And click here to print a 30% off coupon!  

From their website:
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is an activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children's book explains that Santa knows who is naughty and/or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. During the holiday season, the elf watches children by day and reports to Santa each night. When children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location. This activity allows The Elf on the Shelf to become a delightful hide-and-seek game.

We read the story last night and as a family we came up with our elf's name, Happy.  The boys went to bed thinking about Happy and in the morning they sprung out of bed ready to look for him. They searched high and low and eventually found him on the dining room chandelier. I will say that they were both disappointed that he wasn't real, which I found extremely surprising that they thought he would be.  While eating breakfast Zane asked "why does Happy have a price tag coming out of his butt?"  Of course I quickly made up a lie saying that that is his name tag and says he is from the north pole.  So make a mental note to remove your elf's care tag.  Find out where Happy appears by following me on twitter. I hope you enjoy your Elf on a Shelf as much as we do!


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