Weekend in Palm Springs : 1 #campmixalot

Mini Mylar letter balloons were the perfect thing to use for our event hashtag. #campmixalot. // cupcakesandcutlery.comSo excited to be sharing a recap of day 1 of the creative retreat Lauren and I put together in Palm Springs at the beginning of August! This is absolutely a labor of love for us. We really love to collaborate and get groups of creative gals together to get to know each other better, find relaxation, inspiration and talk shop. This year’s focus was on all things cocktail so we came up with the hashtag #campmixalot and had a loose summer camp theme throughout the weekend. The purpose of the cocktail theme was not so that we had an excuse to get spring break drunk.  These getaways are designed to enjoy, relax, learn and grow. There are so many different aspects of cocktail culture that we thought it could make for some fun learning. We were right.

This is our second year hosting the event. For disclosure purposes, this event was not sponsored but we were truly lucky to have some great brands send product for this great weekend to help us keep the costs down. I will note those at the end. This year our event was held at a private home in Palm Springs. We welcomed 6 other gals to the house the first day with the hashtag floating in the pool. I’m still in love with these mini mylar balloons. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Welcome sign for cocktail camp. Hand painted by @laurenv for #campmixalot. // cupcakesandcutlery.comI feel grateful for the blogging world and the friends it has led me to and the experiences I am able to have because of it. To be able to put together a special weekend for some great gals makes my heart happy.  P.S. it doesn’t suck when you co-host has the world’s best writing ever for the signage. [Read more...]

Fig and Olive Newport Beach

Fig and Olive is a fantastic restaurant in Newport Beach. // cupcakesandcutlery.com*This is not a sponsored post. Recently, while out and about in my fine county, I have been really wanting to share the amazing businesses with you.  So I’m going to be sharing local posts on Fridays. I mean, if someone wanted to give me a free meal, I wouldn’t say no, but you know I always disclose that to you.  Also these will mostly be iPhone photos as I don’t bring out my big camera when I am on a date, with my family, drinking or wearing high heels…

I had been hearing great things about Fig and Olive at Fashion Island, a luxurious mall in Newport Beach, CA and so for our anniversary, my husband and I decided to try it out. But let me stop really quickly right here for a minute.

On this night, so we both didn’t need to worry about driving, we used Uber.  Have you used it yet? I was SUPER skeptical of it. But I researched what it was all about and I stinking love it! Basically, it’s like getting a taxi but the drivers (fully vetted by Uber) drive their own cars. This keeps costs down for you. Also no money exchanges hands, and your payment info is hooked up to Uber, not the driver.  When any phone calls occur, it happens through a 3rd party number so no one is sharing personal info (or you can message the driver right through the app). And my fave part is that you can see the car and driver right on the app via GPS. You are on the grid at all times. I have used it 6 times now and it’s my new fave way to have a night out. We’ve never waited longer than 6 minutes for a car to arrive either and I have met some of the nicest people who happen to drive the cars!  If you have never used it, you can put in the code: SHARONG75 and your first trip is free up to $30. And just so you know, if you use that code, I get a free trip too.  Just wanted to share that with you.  It’s awesome!

But I digress…We headed out a smidge early for our reservation at Fig and Olive Newport Beach so we could get a drink at the bar.  The entire restaurant is designed perfectly.  The entire space is full of natural light and the decor is casual yet totally classy.  Their lounge and patio areas are simply stunning and the rest of the dining room doesn’t disappoint. The cocktail menu is craft cocktail heaven. The connoisseur would feel right at home with these beverages. It was really awesome to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic. I stuck with my glass of wine but my husband went with an Old Fashioned complete with a piece of lighter singed orange peel. For reals, I want to do this for every drink. The smell of fresh orange was unreal and added such a great flair to the drink.

The light is stunning in Fig and Olive, Newport Beach.  // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis photo doesn’t do the restaurant justice.  It’s glorious.  It’s modern, with a touch of a beachy vibe. It’s neutrals without feeling stark. 

Fig and Olive is a great date night spot in Orange County, CA // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd any menu that has risotto is automatically a star in my book.  The menu was large without being overwhelming and featured a fair amount of seafood.  The entire front page of the menu is starters with tons of options to share and really create an enjoyable dining experience.  We did a crostini sampler and it was EVERYTHING! Simple, quality ingredients on toasted bread. Does it get better than that? Yes, yes it does. 

Olive Oil tasting at Fig and Olive at Fashion Island Newport Beach // cupcakesandcutlery.comI had no idea that the premise around the restaurant was that they don’t use butter in their cooking, they instead use only olive oil.  Over the last few months I have really been interested in olive oils and the flavors they take on from the different regions they are grown in, much like wine. I was also in the midst of working on my own olive oil challenge so our visit to the restaurant couldn’t have come at a better time. Before the main courses are served, they bring bread and a trio of olive oils to the table so you can conduct a little tasting.  So cool. 

Delicious mushroom risotto at Fig and Olive Newport Beach // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd you KNOW I had to order the truffle risotto.  When I eat out, I like to order the things that I don’t want to make at home. And truffles…yes. Just yes.  And as expected, it was amazing.  My husband had the filet mignon and it looked sensational. I didn’t try it, you know, on account of stuffing my face with the risotto… Which also meant I was too full for dessert.  So I am pretty desperate to go back and fix that. You can tell a lot about a restaurant from their dessert menu and the one at Fig and Olive looks fantastic.

We loved the ambiance, the food and the service was top-notch! We will definitely be return customers and I can’t wait to take our friends back to try it.

Fig and Olive – Newport Beach


DIY Family Reminder Chalkboard

DIY Family reminder chalkboard to keep you organized. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.com*This post is sponsored by Martha Stewart Crafts® via Blueprint Social.  All opinions, thoughts, craft errors, chalk hands and paint stained floor are my own.

I am a list maker. I literally write everything down so I don’t forget it.  But the problem is, I’m also a stacker/straightener.  Do you know what that is? It’s where I straighten things up by making stacks.  Which means I bury my to-do lists.  So I wanted a way to be able to leave out family reminders so we don’t forget things as we head out the door in the morning. DIY chalkboards are not new. But I wanted to do mine a little bit differently.  I wanted it to sort of blend in with our decor a little bit, a little more arty.  And I also wanted something that wasn’t totally permanent in terms of what it says. I like to use things in multiple ways. I figured out that Chalkboard Paint would be the perfect thing to use.

Martha Stewart offers great chalkboard paints and liquid chalk paint to use with their adhesive stencils. #ad #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewartCrafts // cupcakesandcutlery.comMartha Stewart Crafts® has these awesome products out that worked perfect for my project.  The color options for the Martha Stewart Crafts® MultiSurface Chalkboard Paint are amazing! While of course the traditional, dark chalkboard color is classic, I was excited to play around with some of these other colors. And they work on any porous surface so they are totally versatile.  And the Martha Stewart Crafts® Erasable Liquid Chalk is EXACTLY what this project needed! It goes on like paint, dries and doesn’t smudge, but can be wiped off with a damp cloth!  Totally perfect. The Martha Stewart Crafts® Adhesive Silkscreen Stencils are made to work this awesome paint so I couldn’t wait to try them out.

DIY "Don't Forget" Chalkboard for keeping your family reminders right where you will see them. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.com

For this project you will need:

A wooden board

Black spray paint

Martha Stewart Crafts® MultiSurface Chalkboard Paint

Blue painter’s tape

A paint brush (I used a roller brush, but either will work)

Martha Stewart Crafts® Erasable Liquid Chalk

Martha Stewart Crafts® Adhesive Silkscreens
Use spray paint to add some interest behind your DIY chalkboard for family reminders. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comI laid out my board on a drop cloth and used the spray paint to create some lines. There is no rhyme or reason to how I did this, I just knew that I didn’t want it symmetrical.

Martha Stewart Chalkboard Paint. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comNext I taped off the edge of the board with the painter’s tape. I used a small roller to paint on the Martha Stewart Crafts® MultiSurface Chalkboard Paint in Oxblood.  I found that using a brush left the surface a little less smooth when finished but either is fine. I let the first coat dry for about an hour and then painted on a second coat. I let that dry and then did some touch ups where the board needed a little bit more paint. I didn’t prime this area first as I was fine if the black lines showed through a little bit.  But the paint covered it really well.

I then let the paint dry for 24 hours before priming it with chalk. If you don’t prime your chalkboard paint first, whatever words you first write will not completely wipe off. It’s such a bummer.  All you have to do is take a piece of white chalk, lay it on its side, and rub the chalk on the board. I did this in rows, first cover the board in one direction and then turning it one half turn so the lines were going the other direction. Then, using a soft rag, wipe it all off.  Make sure to do this outside. It’s crazy messy.

Liquid chalk paint is awesome when you want a note to stay on, but not permanently. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comOnce it has been primed, your chalkboard is all ready to use. I decided that although the Martha Stewart Crafts® Adhesive Silkscreens are super awesome, the letters were not quite the scale I wanted for my board.  I decided to free hand “don’t forget” and then use one of the decorative  stencils for a little extra fun.

Martha Stewart adhesive silkscreens are perfect for use with the liquid chalk paint. It goes on like paint and doesn't smudge. But comes off with a damp cloth. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comThe stencils work best if you rub them to your surface, concentrating on the area right next to the screen. Also, start with a light hand with the Martha Stewart Crafts ® 2 oz Erasable Liquid Chalk but make sure to cover completely. As you can see from the arrow on the right, I missed the tip. But once it was dry, I was able to wipe it off and redo it. I chose to use the Liquid Chalk for this part of the sign as it won’t change from day to day.  While once in a while I will probably change what the sign says, you know, for birthdays, holidays, special messages, etc., mostly I want it to just say, “don’t forget.”

Easy Chalkboard family reminder board. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comI really like how it came out!  While it may not fit in everyone’s decor, it goes perfectly with our aesthetic and vibe. The Oxblood even matches our carpet really well!

Family reminder board for keeping yourselves organized on your way out the door. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comWe now have a place where we can write notes to ourselves about what we need to remember each day as we are heading out the door.

DIY Family Reminder Chalkboard. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comThe smaller chalk works better for smaller writing so I’m keeping some right by the sign to make it super easy.

DIY chalkboard reminder board for the whole family. #ad #MarthaStewartCrafts #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewart // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd of course Ronald has to watch over it.  Forgetting to bring any of the things on this list, well that just wouldn’t be prudent.

The Liquid Chalk Paint from #MarthaStewartCrafts is awesome! No smudging and wipes off their chalkboard paint with a wet towel. Genius! #ad #PlaidCrafts // cupcakesandcutlery.comI also decided that I wanted to make a chalkboard area on a fabric lunch bag. Since my youngest son will only be in school a few hours a day, we will still be running a lot of errands together in the afternoons. I love to grab things to keep him busy and I know that if I keep a few “grab bags” ready to go, it will cut down on the time it takes to get out the door for our errands too.

DIY anywhere tote for kid's toys using chalkboard paint and liquid chalk paint. #ad #PlaidCrafts #MarthaStewartCrafts  // cupcakesandcutlery.comThis liquid chalkboard paint is kind of amazing. While I am sure the kid’s can rub it off if they really set their mind to it, it will absolutely make it through your trip to get your tires rotated, mail something at the post office or wait the 3 hours to see your doctor… I am also in love with this color of paint, Habanero.  And it didn’t make it in to this post, but I also tried out the color, Ink, a navy blue color and it is SO great!

A fabric lunch bag is a great back to school gift idea for teachers. Especially when filled with fresh flowers. I used #plaidcrafts #MarthaStewartCrafts chalkboard paint to personalize it. #ad // cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd how cool is it that “Legos” easily wiped write off the bag when I decided the lunch sack would also make a fantastic back to school gift…

The Martha Stewart Crafts® Chalkboard Paint, Liquid Chalk and Adhesive Silkcreens are available at MichaelsIn addition to the new Martha Stewart Crafts® Chalkboard line, visit Michaels to learn about more new product, including Martha Stewart Crafts® Vintage Decor Paint!

Want to know more about the Martha Stewart Crafts® Chalkboard Paint? Watch this quick video from Martha, herself:

● Plaid Website: http://www.plaidonline.com/

● The Plaid Palette Blog: http://www.plaidonline.com/blog – The Plaid Palette is a source of inspiration with news about new product introductions, project ideas, tutorials from Plaid’s craft experts and giveaways.

● Newsletter: https://www.plaidonline.com/craftnewslettersignup.aspx – Sign up for Plaid’s email newsletter for special coupons, project ideas and more!

● YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/plaidcrafts – Plaid’s YouTube channel features videos with product demonstration, special seasonal projects and ideas from top Craft Experts.

● Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/plaidcrafts

● Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InspiredByPlaid

● Instagram: http://instagram.com/plaidcrafts – A look into daily life at Plaid and project inspiration.

● Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/plaidcrafts

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+PlaidOnline

*I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Martha Stewart Crafts® and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are my own. http://cmp.ly/3/FdAzcC


Amaro Cocktails

Amaro cocktail with ginger beer. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com*I was sent Averna Amaro to use for this post. All opinions and thoughts are mine. 

Have you guys ever had Amaro cocktails before? It is an italian liquor that is bittersweet with herbal notes.  It is sometimes used as a digestif, you know, in places and with people who take their cocktails SERIOUSLY. I’ve never seen anyone request a digestif.  Ever.

I first got to try Amaro in Las Vegas and thought it was super interesting and always wanted to learn more about it. So I decided to mix a cocktail with it.  You know when I am just learning about something, I prefer to use an established recipe and get a feel for how experts use it. I just like to dabble in the drinks so my knowledge is not broad. I picked a recipe that had some of my favorite flavors as I thought that would be a good way to see how the Amaro works in a beverage.

Trying out a new ingredient for my cocktails: Averna Amaro. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAny drink with ginger beer is a friend of mine. I find it so refreshing and flavorful and I often drink it straight out of the bottle. It is my soda of choice. I also love me some Meyer lemons, they have this wonderful sweetness to them that I just adore (not odd at all that I adore a fruit, right?).  And then I made an orange flavored vodka. 

Fresh squeezed citrus is what makes a cocktail special, in my opinion. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comIn the past, I sucked at making cocktails. Even if I followed a recipe, they just never turned out well. Looking back, I think it had to do with the quality of ingredients. I’m certain I used bottled lemon juice (ew) and inferior brands of liquor (ew).  As I have really begun to take notice of when recipes turn out well and why, I really have to put a lot of focus on the fresh citrus. I really think that, for me, the fresh juice is where it’s at. I don’t like anything that is overly sweet so the fresh juices help to balance the flavors. 

Orange infused vodka // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis orange infused vodka is my newest fave.  It was so easy to make and adds a really great depth of flavor to the drink.  The orange flavor is subtle but delightful. 

kids will be kidsA lot of times when I am shooting cocktail posts, my kids always want to be in the pictures.  Not this day.  I turned around and this is what I found.  Kids will be kids.  And also sometimes airplanes. 

I love the warm quality the amaro brings to a cocktail. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThe Averna Amaro was really nice.  I felt like it added a nice spice to the drink.  I would liken it to bitters.  It adds a caramel color to the drinks you make with it and I think this would go really well in fall cocktails. There is a richness that would maybe feel a bit heavy in summer drinks? Maybe. But of course it can be done. 

Lemon and ginger beer make this cocktail familiar and the amaro warms it up a smidge. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.com

Amaro Cocktail Recipe


  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 oz Averna Amaro
  • 1 oz orange flavored vodka
  • 2 oz ginger beer


  1. Add Meyer lemon juice, Averna Amaro, and orange flavored vodka in a cocktail shaker and shake well.
  2. Pour over ice in a tall glass.
  3. Top with ginger beer.
  4. Would be fantastic muddled with with fresh orange, berries, or even peaches.


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?