DIY Flavored Vodka

Homemade flavored vodka. Makes delicious cocktails! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt has been YEARS since I made my own DIY flavored vodka.  I made it for a children’s party…you know, because sometimes those kinds of parties make you drink. Of course the kids didn’t have any.  But the adults sure did.  Ok, well I’m sure I wasn’t the only one drinking it. I am not trying to suggest my friends are lushes. But when you are watching chocolate cupcake get ground in to your area rug by a toddler shoe, it makes you want to drink something.

Make your own orange infused vodka.  Works with other fruits and herbs too! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis time I decided to make orange infused vodka. Doesn’t that sound amazing!? I didn’t really follow a recipe as this is very forgiving.  My kind of DIY.

DIY infused vodka.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI started with a clean mason jar.  I poured in some vodka.  Then I used a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the navel orange, being careful not to get too much of the bitter white pith just below. I put the peel in the vodka and put the lid on.  I gave it a nice little shake and then placed it in my pantry for about 4 days, making sure to give it a little shakey shakey at least once a day. Stronger flavors (like herbs) won’t take as long to infuse.  Fruits generally take 4-7 days.  It is suggested that you taste it each day to see if it is the flavor you want.  But here’s the thing with that. You are tasting straight alcohol. So no matter how much it is “infused” it is still going to taste pretty terrible, no? So this is not a good method for me. I like things on the bolder side anyway so I always err on the side of too strong rather than too weak.

Make your own homemade infused vodka.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhen you think the flavors are how you want them use a coffee filter and funnel to strain it in to a new clean jar.  I stored my finished vodka in the refrigerator but I have read that you can also store them in the freezer to keep for an extra month.  I don’t make a ton of one flavor at a time so that I can try out different flavors and see how they work in my favorite drinks. I have heard that you can flavor the vodka with things like candy, but I think I’ll stick to herbs and fruit.

DIY flavored vodkas. This one is infused with orange and is amazing in a Moscow Mule! // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI LOVED how this turned out. I used this DIY orange flavored vodka in a specialty cocktail (recipe tomorrow!) and then in my fave Moscow Mules instead of the plain vodka.  It was a perfect switcharoo! You can infuse other liquors, not just vodka.  The possibilities are nearly endless! Have you ever done this?  What did you flavor your vodka with?

 

Playlist for Summer and Beyond

New and old music to get you through the end of summer and on in to fall. Over 2 hours of music. Just push play. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis is the playlist right here. I made this a few weeks ago and it has been played on repeat. Like, non-stop.  This playlist for summer and beyond is over 2 hours long (139 minutes to be exact) and features new music, new to me music and some rad oldies. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to share music with you.  For playing my own playlists while I work, I prefer Rdio.  For premade mixes, I enjoy Songza. But in terms of plopping a completed mix on the site for you, I still don’t think I have found THE ONE.  For now, you can listen via the embedded Rdio playlist or click over to Rdio to listen through my channel. I still need to go in and build out my “collection” but it is a super easy way to be able to pull up your favorite artists and keep them all in one place, without having to buy all the music.

Who were your music faves this summer? I nearly cried when I saw that my fave, Twin Shadow, was playing a $5 show in Salt Lake City this summer and tried to figure out a way to take a family vacation there around the concert.  It didn’t work out. Then he announced his tour, with dates in Los Angeles, for October. I nearly cried again!  I got tickets and had already started counting down the days. I began scouring the internet to find any new music out from him. And then I got the dreaded email.  They postponed the show! I get that they want to make sure the show is ready for their audiences but I just want to hear him sing! Is that too much to ask?! So I checked his site to see if he had any shows scheduled. And there was one for Pomona still!  So I just got tickets for it. I shed one real tear. Good music gets me emotional.

Blaze Pizza in Orange County

Blaze Pizza Irvine. www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy family and I don’t eat out very often. I really like to cook our meals at home for diet and budget reasons. And my husband’s work hours mean that if we had to wait for him to get home and then go out to dinner, we would eat way late. Like, I’d be extra cranky kind of late. But sometimes my boys and I just want to get out of the house. And I’m finding the more I try to watch what I eat, the more I want to eat pizza. One of our favorite places to get pizza is Blaze Pizza in Irvine. 

Blaze Pizza is a great family dining option in Irvine and other Orange County cities! www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIt’s sort of a chose-your-own-adventure in pizza making and you can hand-pick what you want to have on your pizza. This works perfect for my family since we all like something different. I prefer a BBQ chicken or something similar.  My husband likes the meats and usually any vegetable I don’t like. And my kids would never be able to finish one of these pizzas by themselves so it’s super awesome that Blaze will do half one type of pizza and half a totally different kind so they can split one. 

Love the branding of Blaze Pizza. www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’m in love with the branding and design of the restaurants. The industrial look of the restaurants are still warm and inviting while be totally cool. And the orange is one of my favorite colors so…While I’m partial to the iced tea, my kids are totally in to the lemonade.

Fast fired pizza from Blaze Pizza Irvine. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI’ve tried several of the several of the Signature Pizzas (I adore you White Top) as well as created my own and they have all been absolutely scrumptious. There is something about the crust that I just love. It has a wonderful crunch while being tender and just the right thickness.  Mmmm, I wish they delivered… And if you have food allergies, they have a great, easy to use chart on their site to make your choices a little bit safer.

Blaze is set to open several more Orange County locations to add to the 3 already open in Mission Viejo, Irvine and La Habra. These restaurants are super kid friendly but I’d totally stop here for a casual date night as well. I’m a total dessert girl and that is the only thing that I think the restaurant could try to improve.  They do have a S’more Pie but when I go out to eat I want the dessert to wow me. Full disclosure, I have actually not tried the S’more pie yet. Looks like I’ll have to take another trip to Blaze to give it a try. ;)

Find out more about Blaze Pizza on their site!

*Blaze Pizza invited my family and I to try out one of their restaurants and provided us with dinner. All opinions are mine. And chances are if someone gives me pizza, it’s going to make me happy. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me full of pizza.

 

Create a Purposeful Life with a Life List

*This post is sponsored by ZICO Premium Coconut Water but all opinions and thoughts are my own. Life List printable: So you can plan a more purposeful life. #ad #cracklifeopen // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comDo you guys know the difference between a Life List and a Bucket List? I didn’t.  But that really didn’t matter because I didn’t have either type of list. If you aren’t sure how they are different, let me tell you.  A Bucket List is something you create of things you want to accomplish in your lifetime, like visit the Grand Canyon, or sing the National Anthem at a sporting event. These are big life experiences that you want to do before you die. A Life List, on the other hand, are those smaller things, that we can add to our daily life, to live more purposefully. Think adding exercise to get healthier, or waking up 15 minutes early every day to read the bible.  This list might also include things that you have always wanted to do, but the intention would be to live a better life in some way, like taking a photography class, or planning a block party so you can meet your neighbors and create quality relationships with them. As we go in to the school year, I thought it was super important that I take a minute and really think about how I can make my life better by making some small changes.   ZICO Coconut Water is inspiring people to lead a more a more purposeful life. #ad #cracklifeopen // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am in love with the new ZICO Premium Coconut Water campaign.  “Crack Life Open” is their slogan and that really resonates with me. So often we get wrapped up in our daily tasks and forget to really enjoy living. I’d like to think we can all find those small things, throughout the day, that are a positive moment – something that impacts our life in some way. I think living a purposeful life is a way to be more healthy. Not just in terms of exercise, or eating right, but really changing your mind frame on how you view things and adapt from change as well as what takes priority in your every day life.  I encourage you to really think about your day and see if there are ways to make some positive changes.  I'm creating a Life List to help guide me to live a better life, with more purpose.  #ad #cracklifeopen // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI REALLY enjoyed creating my Life List with ZICO Premium Coconut Water.  Do you have one yet? Here she is, in no particular order: *Leave my smart phone at home as I walk my kids to school each day. I can use that time to talk with them and help them plan their day. On the way home, I’m going to enjoy the walk and really just take a quiet moment to myself before the hustle and bustle of the day kicks in. *I know exercise is important but I just have no interest in doing the same thing over and over. I’d like to explore new options or ways to be active so that I can learn new things, work different muscles and perhaps find something that I truly enjoy so it won’t feel like it is a work out. Is that wishful thinking?  I hate to sweat. *I  want to get a Keratin hair treatment. This is not as frivolous as it sounds. You feel good when you look good.  And right now, my hair makes me feel messy. But I don’t have the energy to “do” my hair (it takes about an hour to blow dry and straighten – what? I have luxurious, thick hair…) every morning. But I want to come across as more polished to the people I meet on the days I don’t have an event that I have to get ready for. *I want to plan regular date nights with my husband so we can stay connected.  He has always been my best friend (since high school) and I miss him. Our busy schedules mean we are sometimes like passing ships and I want to make sure that we make time for each other and that he knows that my heart is with him even when he is working on the couch and I am sleeping. *I want to be better with menu planning and grocery shopping. I want to start a new system where I create our week’s menu based on sales and what is in season. Not only will it help our grocery budget but we’ll also be eating what is more fresh. *I want to make breakfast more of a priority for the whole family. In years past, breakfast time is when I get all my social media scheduled for the day. But I need to make a healthy breakfast for myself and family so we can all start the day off right. *I want to go back to reading magazines because I love them not to find inspiration or something project or blog related. I have always found tremendous happiness in magazines and because of mom guilt and mile-long to-do lists, magazines have almost become part of “work” for me. I need to get them back in to the “me-time” category. And I have two BIG Life List items that are on my heart. But it just isn’t the right time yet. I’m a mom first, and right now, my focus has to be on my kids, their care and what they need to live a fulfilling life at the moment. But I really help families live better lives too. *I want to create a project (a site? a book? a video?) based on helping kids see the creative careers that are out there and know that if there isn’t a job for something that they want to do, then they need to figure out how to create it. *I want to put on a big family festival. I won’t go in to details as there are not coherent thoughts here yet, more like one of those brainstorming cloud bubble things bouncing around my head. Creating a "life list" with ZICO Premium Coconut Water. #ad #cracklifeopen // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com I am so grateful that ZICO Premium Coconut Water reached out to partner with me for this campaign. I needed the encouragement to create this life list. And now I will start to implement some of these changes. What changes are you going to make in your daily life to #CrackLifeOpen?  The fantastic Lauren of A Fabulous Fete made a printable for all of you so that you can easily make a life list too. Just download it and think about the changes you can make to live more fully! And I’d love it if you would share one of the changes you want to make in the comments below!

Download here: Life List Printable

Food and Fun in Loreto, Mexico

Villa del Palmar Loreto in Mexico, Baja California. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis post is the last in a series of 3 documenting my trip to Villa del Palmar Loreto earlier this summer.  The trip was paid for by the resort but all opinions and crazy awesome experiences are mine!

So I’ve told you all about Loreto, Mexico and what makes the hotel part of Villa del Palmar Loreto special.  So now it’s time to share some of the extracurricular activities you can do at the resort. You know, the fun stuff.  Like the hike we got to take. This is the view from the very top. It was well worth the physical exertion.

Amazing hike at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOne early morning (you have to go early or it will get too hot), we took a really cool hike that is on the resort property to one side of the hotel. The trail was amazing.  It was clearly marked and the views and landscape were stunning.  This hike could have easily been self guided and there were signs with plant info all along the way.  I am not an avid hiker and I was able to complete it (but I did sweat a lot…) and I’m so glad I did!

Nature hike on the property of Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOur hike was led by a local nature expert who I have no doubts could survive on Naked and Afraid. This was such an awesome way to learn more about the area, the sea life and folk history. I would highly recommend trying to set up a hike with a guide if at all possible on your stay! I even got to try some cactus fruit at the very top of our hike. It was kind of awesome. From that high perspective, we were able to check out several of the surrounding islands. These islands are not inhabited (well, there might be one dwelling on one of them) and are the perfect spot for a white sand beach picnic.

Beers on a boat excursion turing the islands of Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOur boat excursion was one of my favorite part of the trips. We picked up the boat from town with the intent to tour some of the islands, eat lunch at one of them and then be dropped off back at our resort.  The boats are super comfortable, with cushioned seats including compartments to make sure your stuff stays dry, a covered portion near the rear and a ladder to easily climb back in to the boat. And there were beers.

Tour the islands of Loreto and swim in the gorgeous blue waters. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOur boat trip got started a little bit later than we had hoped and by the time we got to our first island, the tide was too high for us to go ashore.  But that didn’t stop us from dropping anchor and snorkeling around a bit.  The water was warm and beautiful.

Swimming in the Sea of Cortez. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMost gals snorkeled but I just hung out in the water.  After a short time we got back on the boat and made our way to the next island where we had a little time to snorkel again. Once our play time was over, we continued on to the hotel while checking out all other islands, by boat, along the way.  The rock formations and dessert landscape was gorgeous and like nothing I have ever seen.  And being on the boat was so much fun. A glass bottom boat is also available which would be really cool.  I’m ok with fish as long as there is a bunch of safety glass between me and them.

The best place to stand up paddle board - Loreto, Mexico. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe resort has plenty of water sports as well. I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time!  And you can’t tell from this photo but my legs were totally shaking! It wasn’t really that difficult but I didn’t want to fall off in to the water.  The water is really shallow for a ways out but that meant you could see the fish swimming under you.  That part freaked me out. And since it was my first time I was afraid of getting to far away from shore.  I paddled around, close to shore for about half an hour and then called it a day.  I would totally do it again though.

Kayaking in Loreto, Mexico. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI did really enjoy kayaking however!  We were lucky enough to get to use one of two glass bottomed kayak boats.  The kayak holds two people and was really easy to manuever in the calm waters of the bay.  We didn’t get too adventurous but we could have taken the boat to a nice little white sandy beach around the side of the bay if we wanted to.  I am going to put that on my list of things to do for my next trip there.  I think my boys would LOVE to do this!

Eating fresh chocolate clams straight out of the ocean at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhile I was kayaking, some of the other gals got to go diving for chocolate clams! The chocolate clams are abundant in this bay and are absolutely delicious. This was one of the coolest experiences ever.  The team was able to find about 100 clams and they brought them right up on to the beach. The kitchen sent out some salt, lime and hot sauce and we all got our turn to try these straight out of the water clams. I really hope that isn’t a once in a lifetime experience.

Dressed for dinner at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe night we dressed up for dinner was really fun.

Refreshing drinks on the beach at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe evening started off with cocktails before we moved in to Danzante Restaurant for a delicious dinner experience. The food at Villa del Palmar Loreto is SO amazing. You could get the traditional Mexican dishes that you want in a trip to Mexico but they are elevated.  There is a fine dining touch to them.

Delicious tortilla soup at Danzante Restaurant at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comOur meal started with an amazing tortilla soup. This could have easily been served in the bowl but they chose to share it with a gorgeous presentation, where the waiter attends to each guest to complete the dish. You can’t see it from this photo but the way the avocado was placed in the dish was a really nice touch and showed just how much care goes in to creating each dish.

Fantastic food can be found at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe fresh seafood was crazy good and showed a fusion of flavors from other parts of the world. My trip to Cabo, last year, was a huge disappointment in the food category and I was not sure what to expect here.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food and level of sophistication.

Specialty coffee at Danzante Restaurant at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd they know how to put on a good show.  This custom coffee presentation was both fun to watch and delicious to drink.

Tomato stack appetizer on Italian night at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd you don’t just get Mexican food at this resort.  They do theme nights with the food too. This was part of Italian night and we were treated to some favorites, like this caprese stack and bruschetta along with a delicious steak. There are three restaurants on site. One is super casual and easy.  One has seating indoors and out and features a buffet and the fine dining option of Danzante.  You can also use in-room dining.

Buffet dinner at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am not a buffet gal, but this may have been the best set up I’ve seen.  Everything on this buffet was really nicely displayed, was super fresh and very tasty.  There were tons of fresh options as well, like a taco bar and fresh tostadas for dinner or omelet bar in the morning.

Breakfast at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWe were treated to an extra special breakfast on the terrace of one of the Presidential Suites. Not only was the suite ridiculously awesome, with a 3 sided, wrap around terrace, but it also featured a private jacuzzi. When you stay in this suite, you can request a chef to come up and help you prepare dinner on the outdoor barbecue.

Chilaquiles breakfast at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThese chilaquiles and tamale was my favorite. I can’t wait to try my hand at making some at home!

All pastries and breads are made on property at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAll of these glorious pastries are made on property by someone who obviously knows what they are doing.  They were flakey and delicate and tasted amazing.

Health conscious "green juice" featuring local ingredients. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd while a vacation can tend to be full of decadence, the staff knows that health is something that many people are interested in.  Each morning they presented us with this special green juice to start the day off on the right foot. Featuring celery, aloe, mint and more it was sweet and delicious but good for you too.

Several great eateries to choose from at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd they weren’t stingy with the guacamole.  They all but refused to serve guacamole on my trip to Cabo, which was a big let down.  I knew the resort was on top of it when this was one of the first things I tried once I arrived.  It was absolutely delicious.

Drinks on the beach at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAs were the drinks…from the margaritas

Coconut drinks by the pool at Villa del Palmar Loreto. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comto the coconut drinks by the pool, they totally nailed the cocktails.

The resort has themed nights featuring entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. #VDPLFam #villadelpalmarl // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd there was plenty of nightlife for me. One night we watched a stage show featuring Mexican dances and stories. The dancers interacted with the crowd and it was really fun.  On another night, there was a musician playing classic rock songs on his guitar which was also really fun.  The outdoor restaurant features a large wrap around bar and was the perfect place to retire after dinner for a night-cap.  I just think resort will appeal to all kinds of people looking for their perfect vacation spot.  Read yesterdays post to see my info about the private night club on the resort. And of course, each room features a private patio that would be another perfect spot for enjoying the sunset or view of the lighted resort at night. There is a little something for everyone here and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.

Villa del Palmar Loreto is offering some bonuses if you book your trip and mention a special code. Hop back over to yesterdays post to see the deal and all the info about the hotel you could need!

Thank you, Villa del Palmar Loreto, for bringing me to your fine resort and letting me share it with my readers. My extended family has talked about coming back next summer and I really hope we do!

Read more about Loreto, Mexico

Read more about hotel Villa del Palmar Loreto