2011 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Eat Well, Feel Well

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! This is going to be the best year ever! I have some great health and wellness tips for you. We are going to be happy and healthy. The fight against obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and various diseases of affluence can easily be won by eating the proper nutrients. A good portion of a person's health lies in their diet and generally, a healthy person is a happy person. It's easy to feel glad if your body and mind feel good too.

Don't spend your year pointing out all your flaws in the mirror, feeling self-conscious, or being unhappy. Take an active role in your health. This is your life. Your health and happiness are in your hands and nobody else's. Use these health and wellness tips for your advantage. Live your best life this year. Whether you want to drop a few pounds, lean out, or simply eat better, here are some totally simple tips to follow. Feel better from the inside out. Eat well, feel well 2012. Let's do this! 

Veggies first- Ever notice how you can munch through four baskets of french baguette and still be hungry for dinner? The reason you're not getting full is because there is no nutritional value. Start off your meal with veggies. Fill at least half your plate with greens, salad, or vegetables. This type of food will actually fill you up, so you won't end up overeating and regretting it later.


Eat out less- Don't go out to eat, make your own food at home! Not only will you save yourself a boatload of money, but you'll spare yourself from a few pounds. As a vegetarian, I have to ask an obnoxious amount of questions and it pretty much solidifies my belief in going out to eat as rarely as possible. What is the food cooked with? Where did the food come from? What's in it? Who made it? Is it smothered in butter, lard, grease? Was it cooked or shared with other food?

Use natural foods- When I say to incorporate more natural foods into your diet, I mean the less processed the better. This is especially relevant if you follow the health and wellness tips of most trainers, health foodies, etc. Choose fresh items rather than frozen or packaged foods. If you have to microwave it or "just add water," chances are that it's not your best option. Go to a farmers market or even a local grocery store and buy fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, legumes. Eating healthy never tasted so scrumptious; there are so many options once you change your perspective.


Check the ingredients- If you do happen to use packaged foods, always look at the nutritional information before you buy it. How many ingredients are in there? How many of them are natural? How many of them are chemically made? For instance, rather than buying a box of cookies, bake them yourself. At least if you make cookies at home, there are only a handful of ingredients. It makes a difference.

Snack wisely- So you're hungry, but not hungry enough for a full meal. This is health and wellness tip #1. Snack on something yummy: make a fruit salad, eat some mixed nuts, chomp on a couple stalks of celery with peanut butter. Veto the cookies and chips. If you do find yourself tempted, which is totally natural, limit yourself. Have a handful of chips then move on.

trail mix

Everything in moderation- Continuing on the topic of limiting yourself, the same can be said about any food. If all you eat are apples, you're also not getting the right amount of daily nutrients. Maintain a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. If you do want to eat something that you know you probably shouldn't, just eat a little. What's the point of living if you can't have fun once in a while?

Try new things- What's tofu? What's tempeh? What's quinoa? What's spaghetti squash? What's a parsnip? Look up a recipe. Then go down to the grocery store and find out. This is a brand new year, try brand new things. You just may end up loving it!


What is time, anyway?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holy barnacles! It's almost 2012. Where did the year go? What did I do? What am I doing with my life? Is it true that time flies or is it all in my head? Sometimes time goes by so frighteningly fast that I feel as if I've been robbed of precious life. Then there are those days that go by so achingly slow, I cannot bare to be conscious. What is time, anyway? How is it that there are minutes, days, hours, and years, but each one varies every single time? One year to another year cannot be compared. 

The main lesson I've learned when it comes to pondering about time is to simply enjoy every second. Live. Love being alive. Use the 24 hours you're given in a day. Hey, you're alive, right? That's a plus. How is it that a day off work or school can go by so rapidly? You wake up sometime near 11 a.m. You spend the next couple hours waking up, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, making breakfast. Next thing you know it's afternoon and all you've done is roam the internet. Since the sun depressingly departs at around 5 p.m., there's no point in going out. Then it's time for some Netflix and dinner. After that, you call it a day. Nothing was accomplished. Nothing was learned. Nothing occurred. 

Then there are those days that you have to be up at 6 a.m. for work. You're off at 2 p.m. and you already have a few hours of work under your belt, which obviously means you earned yourself a little bit of money. How productive! After that you do the laundry, go to the thrift store to obtain some Christmas gifts, and go grocery shopping at not one, but two stores. Then to wind down, you meet up with a couple of friends and splurge with a couple bottles of Andre Peach Passion Champagne. Sounds like an eventful and fruitful day.

What I'm trying to say is this: there are always 24 hours in a day. What fluctuates is how you utilize each moment. At the end of the day, when you're lying in bed trying to fall asleep, you don't want to think: Damn, I did nothing today. Don't waste anymore time. Learn something. Go somewhere. Call someone. 

Life is only as amazing as you make it. I'm trying my hardest to make my life extraordinary. Are you? 

16 Things To Do Before 2012

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Life is short. Sometimes it seems to just pass by. Before you can get a grip on reality, a month has already come and gone. Thanksgiving is over. Christmas is coming. Then it's on to the new year. There is no way to know what the future will hold. The only thing we can do is enjoy the present. After all, the present is a present. It is a gift to be alive in the first place.

Let's enjoy this time of festivity, giving, and thankfulness! Take full advantage of December with this list of 16 things to do before the year ends. Cross out one each day or spread it out. Just do it and have fun! Life is short and so is the rest of 2011!

1. Go on a barefoot walk or hike - Get back into nature. Stick your feet in the earth. It's liberating to feel the sand on your feet as you walk on the beach or the dirt  between your toes as you trek on a trail.
2. Donate your clothes - Tis the season of giving, right? Assess your closet. Donate the clothes that don't fit well or you haven't worn in a while.
3. Go on a picnic - Take it a step further and go on a picnic. Don't forget your wicker basket and checkerboard tablecloth!
4. Jump on a trampoline - Come on. When was the last time you did this? It'll make you feel amazing. It's an adrenaline rush, a natural high. 
5. Go stargazing - It's cold, but take a blanket and do it. Find a dark place and just look up at the stars. It's so beautiful.
6. Meditate outside - You can do this in the day or at night. It doesn't matter. Find somewhere that you like, sit down, close your eyes, and try your best to quiet your mind. Sit there until you feel an overall sense of calm. 

sense of calm
Sense of Calm, itscarmen

7. Go on a night walk - A night walk is vastly different than a day walk. There are different things to see. Take a stroll through your neighborhood or somewhere safe. It gets pretty chilly so bring a coat and perhaps a friend to keep you company.
8. Hug a friend - "In a world that has grown more complicated, more fierce in the demands made upon our hearts and pocket books, there is one easy, free gift left. The power of touch." Kathleen Keating Schloessinger
9. Watch a childhood favorite film - It's December. Take a break from your hectic life to relive your youth. Which movie will you choose?
10. Forget Facebook - This may be hard for some of you, but be social network free for a day. Eliminate Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or anything non work or school related. Get back to basics.
11. Read a book - There are no excuses. Reading stimulates your imagination, your vocabulary, your mind. Get smart!
12. Bake something - Bake a cake, brownies, cupcakes, bread. Get your hands in that mixing bowl and make something for yourself. There are so many recipes so just search something that sounds good!  There's a sense of accomplishment in eating something that you baked yourself.
13. Pick a wildflower bouquet - Do it for yourself, your sweetie, your mom, etc. It's an art to create an arrangement out of all the wild flowers, leaves, and other random shrubbery you collect on your walk.

Wildflower Bouquet, itscarmen

14. Make breakfast for someone - Do an act of kindness and make breakfast for someone. It can be your roommate, your parents, your friend, your neighbor. From oatmeal to pancakes, there are so many breakfast options. Need an idea? Try Soyrizo Surprize.
15. Tell someone you love them - Yep, I went there. Be happy. Spread the love. Tell someone you care about that you love them. You have no idea how beneficial it could be.
16. Jump in a pile of leaves - How many years has it been since you've done this? Rake 'em up, then jump in 'em. Simple as that. It'll make you feel like a kid again!

2012 here we come!

I did something worthwhile

Monday, December 05, 2011


ice cream

marble statue

July 2, 2010

Today we had breakfast then started our day. We went to the National Archaeological Museum; there were ancient Greek things--statues, pottery, even a skeleton. To be honest, it definitely wasn't the most exciting museum I've been to. My favorite parts were the jewelry. I wish they were mine. We had spanikopita for lunch. We walked toward downtown where all the tour shops are. We hopped into a place that formerly was a post office and at one point someone's house. It was lovely.

Since it was 1,000 degrees out, we barely did anything before we stopped for an ice cream break. At least it cooled me off. By this time we had to head back to my uncle's apartment, as they invited some people over for dinner. There was so much food. Greece has been relatively low key, we spend a lot of time in the house.

July 3, 2010

Today was a good day, I finally felt like I did something worthwhile. I went to the Acropolis, which consisted of the Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, and the Parthenon. I simply loved it. We got off to a late start, but when we got out, it started raining...I mean pouring. But it only lasted about 15 minutes.

How to Quiet Negative Thoughts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"I feel like my life is falling apart. Everything is spiraling out of control. Nothing is going the way I want. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore.  I wish I didn't have to feel like this right now. My life just sucks."

Depression & anxiety can be crippling. If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone & it's more than okay to ask for help! 

Here are some resources that may help you manage your depression.

I minored in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention; one of my favorite courses was my Stress Management class. It helped me understand the biological responses to stress as well as the effects it can have in the long term & short term. If you're having negative thoughts & stressing out, hopefully, these little tips can quiet some of those thoughts & help you focus on better ones. 

But again, if you need professional help, that's okay!


Shift your focus

You can't focus on the bad, because it will consume you. Life is what you make of it. Life is what you see & what you remember. If all you see is your tornado of sadness, you'll find yourself perpetually unhappy. When I feel my brain focusing on negative things, I try my best to think of something good & positive. I know this sounds dismissive or stupid but it genuinely helps me.

Rather than focus on something I'm really stressed or anxious about, I wrack my brain for a good memory or thought or song or something other than what I'm currently focusing on. Picnicking in Paris. The sound of the waves crashing on the ocean. Playing with a fluffy kitten. Thinking of as many The Office quotes as I can. There is beauty in the every day, you just have to focus on it. Forcing my brain to switch tracks is

Count your blessings

The fact that you woke up this morning is a plus. Were you in a bed? Some people don't have a nice, comfy bed to sleep in. Was there a roof over your head? Did you eat anything today? Did you use your fancy phone, swanky computer,  or rad music player at any point? Many people don't have access to such loot. Did you see or talk to a friend? These little things are often forgotten, but how are they unimportant? When I'm feeling down, I am genuinely thankful for the roof over my head, the shoes on my feet, the food in my belly.

Learn from the bad stuff

So you didn't do very well on that test last week. You got laid off from a second job in under one year. Your mom passed away 6 months ago & it's unbearable every day knowing she's gone. It's all you can talk about for four days straight (maybe four weeks or four months or four years). First of all, I am so sorry you're going through this! Now ask yourself: what is the lesson to be learned from this experience?

You failed the test, but you figured out that you need to dedicate more hours to studying. Maybe next time you'll form a study group or visit the professor's office hours. You got laid off & now you have a little more experience (different office, job, co-workers, there's something there!) You think about your mom nearly every hour; remember how she tucked you into bed; remember what she taught you, how she made you feel, her favorite song. There is always a moral to every story.

Make a happy list

Write down all the good things or simple pleasures that happened today. On most days, the positives can outweigh the negatives. Create a list & see for yourself. It's not lame. Try it out! Here's mine:

Positive things that happened to me today:
  1. I woke up in my nice, warm tangled mess of blankets.
  2. I watched several ultra hilarious episodes of The Office.
  3. The sun is shining & the weather is sweet.
  4. My hair looks really good.
  5. I ate so much delicious food (vegan pizza with red bell pepper, broccoli & mushrooms, ginger snaps, & dark chocolate covered espresso beans).
  6. I had not one, but two, cups of scrumptious tea.
  7. I did all my laundry for free!
  8. I spent the day with various important people in my life.

5 Things To Do Before Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The following is a true story:

I was wearing these long red & white striped socks. The top part was green & folded over, like something a little elf would wear. I was wearing black mary-janes, so the stripes were visible through my shoe. 

My coworker said to me, "Candycane socks? Isn't it a bit early?"

I looked at him, my mouth ajar, my eyes wide open.

"Uh, no!" I scoffed.

So I now proclaim: tis the season to wear tacky sweaters, striped socks, & everything festive! I've been waiting all year for this, & it has rapidly arrived. A quarter of my wardrobe is meant for these cooler temperatures. There are so many thrifted sweaters, jean jackets, oversized cardigans, thick coats, & patterned hoodies waiting for their fall debut. But more important than the fall fashion is  the fact that now is the season for thanksgiving!


Let's face it, we should be thankful all year round. However, tis the season to be extra thankful! Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching: the countdown awaits. Let's do some good, send some love, & give some thanks! We must make the most of our time! Have you noticed that life is going by way too fast?

Here's a list of 5 things to do before Thanksgiving Thursday. These tasks are for your own benefit as well as for others. Let's make the best of the holidays, be kind, & spread some cheer. Promise yourself that you'll accomplish these five things. Spread the love! Show your thanks!

1. Talk to an old buddy - Flip through your phone right now & either call or text someone you haven't spoken to in a while. This person is in your phone for a reason, you haven't deleted them quite yet. Take 30 seconds type out: Hey! It's been forever! How are you? Send it to a high school buddy you haven't spoken to in years, or a former coworker you haven't heard from in a while. If you have more time, actually give them a ring & see what's up.  Think of it this way: how surprised would you be if they called you randomly?


2. Go for a walk - Do yourself a favor & go for a walk or a bike ride just before the sun goes down. Nothing feels better than feeling alive! The rush of your warm blood throughout your body on a crisp, cool walk is practically perfection. Plus, a walk is a form of exercise. Remember to shoot for 30-60 minutes of activity a day.

3. Write a thank you note - A handwritten letter has immense power. You could really touch  someone by telling them what they mean to you, how they have influenced you, or a quality you admire about them. Pick someone who would really appreciate a personal & unique note, such as a parent, relative, friend, or mentor.

4. Smile at a stranger - I'll always remember something my teacher said when she moved to California from New York. She proclaimed to the class that we Californians were so friendly because we randomly smiled as we pass by people. She said it was hard for her to smile back because she wasn't used to it. Smile at a stranger! They may wonder why you're grinning, but it's all for the sake of being happy, spreading joy & happiness. Maybe they'll smile at someone else.


5. Stargaze - Do it alone. Do it with friends. It doesn't matter who's there, just take the night off from whatever it is you usually do.  The nights have become increasingly brisk, so take a comfy blanket. Take the night to reconnect with nature & spend the time viewing the vast skies. Nothing makes your problems feel more minuscule than realizing how small they are compared to the massive universe.

Nutty Rabbit Salad

Thursday, November 03, 2011

nutty salad

Since I'm vegetarian and incorporate a lot of veggies, greens, and plant-based foods into my diet, I've been asked countless times how I can survive on "rabbit food." Frankly, I've never had a rabbit, so I'm not entirely sure what they eat. But if rabbits eat what I eat, then I wouldn't mind being one. Anyway, I was extremely hungry and scoured my fridge to see what was hidden within. The result was kind of random as far as healthy vegetarian recipes go, but it was totally yummy. So that's how the Nutty Rabbit Salad came into the universe. This is a not-so-average salad. I think the rabbits of the world would be proud.

Nutty Rabbit Salad    
2 cups spinach
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp flax seeds

nutty salad

First, add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to a pan on medium heat.  Let it warm up then dump in your green beans. Let the beans simmer for a few minutes, until they start to look slightly cooked. Green beans are versatile so you can add them to most meals to make it a healthy vegetarian recipe. Next, you need to add the almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. Sauté until the green beans look fully cooked and the nutty mixture turns slightly brown.

nutty salad

The next step is to wash your spinach and shredded carrots, then add it to a large bowl. Add in the cooked concoction and stir altogether so that it forms a delicious goodness. The dressing is up to you. In this particular rendition of the Nutty Rabbit Salad, I used Archer Farms Thai Peanut Sauce, which was superb. Add some oil and balsamic vinegar. Maybe some lemon and pepper. You're the one eating it, so make it how you want it. 

This is an excellent appetizer or dinner salad. This Nutty Rabbit salad is a delectable healthy vegetarian recipe that you can always enjoy.You can make it for yourself. You can share it with a friend. Whip this up and impress your date (I recommend this one).  This will satiate your appetite, while giving you that fabulous home-cooked meal feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Bon appétit!

*Rabbit-approved meal.

Pita Pocket of Perfection

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pita Pocket of Perfection

1 whole wheat pita
1/2 an avocado
1/2 a tomato
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Add mustard, garlic salt, & pepper to taste.

No directions necessary. This is another easy healthy vegetarian recipe, especially for all the starving college students out there. Take a break from your normal sandwich and give this Pita Pocket of Perfection a try instead! The whole wheat pita tastes fabulous if you warm it up on the stove first. Plus, this pita sandwich packs several veggies in one serving. Spinach is low in calorie and nutrient-dense, including vitamins A and K, fiber, folate, and magnesium.  Normally, I despise tomatoes, but I added a few pieces to mine because I know how good they are for me. I could barely taste it because the amazing avocado invaded my taste buds. Avocados have nearly 20 essential nutrients. Seriously, just add an extra vegetable to your meal and you'll supply yourself with that many more of your daily nutrients. Try it out this healthy vegetarian recipe as soon as possible! Bon Appétit!

pita pocket

pita pocket

5 Tips for Better Living

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Have you been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, fatigued? Are you physically or mentally drained?  It's time to change your day-to-day lifestyle habits! Most of your daily health concerns can be combated with good nutrition and regular exercise. Therefore, the majority of your health is in your hands. The foods we eat, the exercise we don't do, the products we use, all influence our wellness.

These five daily health tips cover aspects of sleep, nutrition, stress, positive thinking, and fitness in order to help you attain your highest level of overall well-being. Health is a balanced concoction of several elements including: physical stamina, smart eating habits, psychological stability, positive social interactions, environmental influences, and even spirituality.

Basically, our physical and mental condition is everything! Only you have the power to keep yourself at an optimal level of health. Read these five simple tips over and you'll be that much further on your journey to wellness. Here's to a happy, long life!

1. Get 7+ hours of sleep

daily functioning
Daily Functioning, itscarmen

If you're one of those people who says: "I work totally fine with like 5 hours of sleep." You're very wrong. As an adult, you need 7-9 hours hours of sleep each night, and people who don't get enough zzz's don't perform as well on mental tasks. It's all too easy to get caught up in the moment: staying up until 4 a.m to cram for that tricky midterm, going to bed at 3 a.m. because you went out with friends, using StumbleUpon until you look at the time and it reads: 2:39 a.m. Yeah, it happens to the best of us, but this is a habit we must break! Sleep is imperative for our daily functioning. If you're sleep deprived, you're more at risk to develop diabetes, heart problems, weight gain, depression or substance abuse. Maybe kids shouldn't be the only ones with a bedtime. Determine what time you have to get up (for school, work, church, social activity, etc.) and count 7-9 hours backward so you can establish when to hit the hay.

2. Eat more earthy foods

earthy foods
Earthy Foods, itscarmen

By earthy foods, I mean food from the earth. The closer it comes from a tree, the better. Well, it doesn't necessarily need to be a tree; it could be from a bush, the ground, a flower, you get the drift. Fruits and vegetables decrease your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer, while increasing your gastrointestinal health and vision. Wow, sounds like a miracle food! Choose natural foods rather than boxed or microwavable goods. Chemicals belong in a lab, not in a body. You are what you eat. Do you want to be monosodium glutamate or powdered beef? I'd rather be a pineapple or maybe a mango.  Next time you go to the grocery store, commit to buying two more types of fruits or veggies.  Experiment with citrus: clementine, orange, tangerine. Buy some berries: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry. Go green: spinach, broccoli, cucumber. You're doing this for yourself, for your health, for your future.

3. Stress less

The Basic Purpose, itscarmen

The first thing you need to know about stress is that it's all a matter of how you perceive a certain situation. Stress can be both good and bad for you. In moderation, this element of pressure can be positive in terms of building character and helping to cope with future experiences. We've all had those crazy, traumatic, stressful events in our life that seemed unbearable at the time, but in the end, we ended up gaining a valuable lesson from. However, stress in excess and over a long period of time is very unhealthy. Problems associated with stress include: headaches, migraines, panic attacks, ulcers, muscle tension, lower back pain. Or worse, stress may increase your risk of heart disease, or high blood pressure. In times of stress remember to: stop, drop, and roll.
  • Stop fretting and start changing your attitude. 
  • Drop everything you're doing and take a moment to step back and breathe.  
  • Roll with the punches and learn from the every day trials and tribulations of life.

4. Think positive

Never Give Up!, itscarmen

Positive thinking and stress are correlated. A positive attitude can help relieve stress, increase your lifespan, and better your physical and mental health. Time and time again, I've learned it helps to have an optimistic attitude rather than a negative one. Your outlook doesn't particularly change the outcome of a situation, but it does improve your quality of life. Someone who sees the good in people, places, things, ideas, can live a more colorful and generally happier life. Negative self-talk may result in ruined confidence or poor performance. So really, there are no benefits to thinking negatively, while positive thinking has the power to boost your confidence, lessen your stressin', and help your health. Start putting out those good thoughts!

5. Be active for 30-60 minutes

Moment of Movement, itscarmen

In this world of technology, traffic, and advertisements, it's hard to find the time and motivation to exercise. But you need to do it! Get your body moving in any way, shape, or form. At least 30 minutes of activity each day, lowers your risk of blood pressure and diabetes, maintains your weight, and improves your cholesterol, stamina, and energy. You don't strictly have to hit the gym seven days a week in order to satisfy your daily exercise requirement. Try something new and spice up your fitness regime.  Go on a walk through the park with your dog. Take an instructed fitness class such as cycling, yoga, or Zumba. Go to the beach, run in the sand, wade through the water, boogie board. Just get up and move! Exert energy! Go do something!

What did you think? What do you need to work on? Leave a comment below! :]

Up the stairs and all of Athens

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is Part VI of Journal of my Journeys, a diary of my travels from country to country in summer 2010. To read up on previous entries, here's a handy-dandy guide:

Part IV: Never give up

June 30, 2010
We left Tel Aviv early this morning (4:30 a.m.) and took a taxi to the airport, Ben Gurion Airport. Our flight was at 7:15 a.m. and we flew over to Athens. The flight was a little less than two hours long. We were greeted at the airport by my uncle and were taken to his apartment. I met his wife and son. We had a delicious meal made from Phyllo dough, mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Wow it was fantastic! We took the metro to downtown and walked around. It was busy for being so late at night. There was a lovely view. We walked up the stairs and saw all of Athens.

Skies Over Athens, itscarmen

phyllo dough
Oh So Delish, itscarmen

black warrior
Black Warrior, itscarmen

All of Athens, itscarmen
ancient ruins
I Spy...Ancient Ruins, itscarmen

July 1, 2010
Firstly, I'd like to say that Athens is lovely. Seeing old structures that are older than America is enthralling. I always get a kick out of it, really. However, I haven't seen too much in terms of sights, not yet. Started off the day with bread, jam, cheese, and tea. An ideal breakfast. Then we took the metro downtown to the tourist shop central of Athens. I got a ring with the classic Greek design and worry beads. I was hoping it'd fit as a necklace but it didn't. 

locked in love
Locked in Love, itscarmen

greek ring
The Greek Ring, itscarmen

I counted how many dogs were strolling/sleeping around Athens. The tally is as follows: 9 sleeping dogs, 8 awake dogs. I counted 17 throughout the day. I had gelato (pomegranate and Mamma Mia!; I forgot what flavor the lady said it was supposed to be) and walked all over looking at tourist shops. I hope tomorrow is more eventful.

Starving college student recipe

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If you're anything like me, you're a very busy bee. You don't have an extra hour to cook a nice meal for yourself, nor do you have the money to purchase an abundance of fancy ingredients and products. You go to school several days a week to broaden your knowledge. You labor for hours on end to earn your dollars. In addition, you have a social life you try your best to maintain. 

Life is busy, but that doesn't mean you have to eat poorly! You want an easy and healthy vegetarian recipe, because you don't want to slave away for an hour in the kitchen. I've come up with a really quick, simple, and healthy recipe for you to enjoy. Always keep in mind that health is in our hands. Since experimenting with veganism, I've been eating noticeably more natural foods. I haven't used the microwave in a couple of weeks. I make everything fresh. And I love it! I feel great.

I was inspired by the items in my refrigerator for this healthy vegetarian recipe. It's fast and boy, is it scrumptious. Try it out!

Soyrizo Surprize
  1/2 package of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots 
1/2 cup mushroom

  1. Add soyrizo to a hot pan.
  2. Add everything else.
  3. Mix around.
  4.  Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
It's literally that easy. The soyrizo has an amazing, slightly spicy taste. It's ideal for any healthy vegetarian recipe, especially breakfast. The veggies add flavor, texture, and vibrant color. The ingredients are fresh. It's something different. You can leave out any vegetable. You can add any vegetable. You can add anything, really. Or you can leave it as is!

This healthy vegetarian recipe takes under 15 minutes to prepare and cook. That's pretty time-friendly for a person who's always on the go.  I make Soyrizo Surprize during my 2-hour long break between classes; then I make tea with my roommate and we watch something quick on Netflix. This recipe is quick, so you can have time for what's truly important in life. It's simple.

"That smells good." -my roommate's friend
"Not only is it so bright and colorful, the spiciness it what really makes it special." -my roommate

Bon appétit!

Happy travels in Haifa

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is a continuation from Journal of my Journeys, a series of journal entries from the Europe trip I went on last year. I wrote everyday, just as a way to help me remember. I brought a small tape dispenser, a bottle of glue, a brand new journal, and a plethora of colored pens. A trip like that needed proper documentation! Hope you enjoy this or get some inspiration. Happy travels!

June 28, 2010
Today we ate breakfast at 77 (I have realized I've probably been eating  sour cream every day for breakfast...barf). We woke up at 7:45 a.m. and went to Akko until 11:45ish, then explored Akko a little bit more. Luckily, I bought a ring, something I had wanted to get. It was only 15 shekels. I love it!! Looove it! We trekked across Akko trying to explore but it was hot. 

haifa, marketplace
Marketplace of Ideals, itscarmen

We roamed around trying to get a bus back to Haifa and finally, after much time, we found it and got on. Thankfully the bus was rather cool. We went to the mini Panorama mall, bought Magnum 60% dark chocolate ice cream, then chilled at the hostel. I forgot to mention we got fantastic walnut bread and some nutty cheese. The cheese was like a mix of goat and something else. All in all, yummy. We watched parts of a couple soccer games and I ate pizza for dinner.

hawk of haifa
Hawk of Haifa, itscarmen

June 29, 2010
This was our last day in Haifa. We walked around Haifa and found a pretty cool section where we bought delicious pizza with mushrooms, olives, and corn (weird, I know). The crust was soft and fantastic. There was a sweet shop in which we got a few cookies with a sweet rosewater taste. Definitely can't describe it. 

haifa, sweet shop
Sweets Shop, itscarmen

We took a taxi all the way to our hotel in Tel Aviv. It's nice; kitchen, balcony, t.v. We checked out the beach and it had an excerise area. Pretty neat. I collected seashells again. The water was so warm!  I can't believe the warmness of water at the Mediterranean. I also found a key and a hairpin. I like collecting souvenirs. I suppose that's all.

tel aviv
Tel Aviv Film Nite, itscarmen

No flaws, all is divine

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Divine Masterpiece, itscarmen, 2011

These saintly creations are a perfect vision. Here there are no flaws, all is divine, a masterpiece. I inhale the landscape with all my senses. A sweetness enters my lungs--it's a mixture of fresh air, chirping seagulls, and a million living organisms.

Shift Your Focus, itscarmen, 2011

I understand at this instant, in all the time that has ever passed, that even at my loneliest hour, the spirit and soul of every life form which ever existed bonded as a united force, to create me. I am daughter to Mother Nature and Father Time. I have no future for I'll be alive for always.

Peace & Incense, itscarmen, 2011

I peer at my shadow, my hair waves and greets the rushing air. I stop for the last time and smell the roses. I wish I could bottle the scent and keep it with me for eternity. Instead I pluck one petal from its perfect form and lock it in my mind.

Locked behind those eyes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The feline sat perched upon the back of the couch. He poked his head through the curtains. He sat still, the only movement was that of his rhythmic breathing and the flick of his tail. He stared off into the dark distance, dreaming of what sort of adventures the following day would bring: a frolic in the green shrubbery, catching a delightful insect as a snack, or simply spending countless hours preening himself to perfection. 

He looked back at me for a moment and in that time we made eye contact, I wondered what he was thinking as his green eyes looked into my brown ones. That second felt like an eternity, but I did not dare to look away, in case I missed something key. Perhaps the answer to life itself remained locked behind those eyes. 

For an instant, I felt as though I could see past just the superficial outside and deep within his soul, so far inside that not one thought entered my head. Then, as if by the will of some force above, he looked away and hopped down onto my legs, circled around, and found a comfy spot for slumber.

Life in Vancouver

Monday, September 05, 2011

An Engagement,  August 2011
Tranquility, August 2011
Nature's Nirvana, August 2011

I sit at Delany’s. The smell of coffee rises like heat. It wafts through my nostrils. A man sips on his coffee as he walks out the door. Across the street is a falafel stand. The cookie store next to it is now non-existent. An orange and black “FOR RENT” sign hangs in the window; it is as barren as a womb within. People of all shapes and forms walk by. One looks at the ground then back at her phone as she texted some unknown being on the other side. A woman with a sloppy bun atop her head blocks my view. I divert my attention to her. She carries a frothy looking coffee drink in her right hand and plops down at the table and chair outside. She skims through the newspaper and rests the cup in her hand. She takes a petite sip and puts a lid on it, as if signifying the end of an internal argument: to keep it hot or to not? That is the question. She sits still, like a stone statue, and as if by cue she then moves. She rests her chin on the balled up fist on the table. “It’s time to get picky” is the title of one of the articles. It’s unknown if she is reading it, but her lack of movement signifies her devoted reading of something. All the others who were sitting outside have vanished as if by a magic spell. Messy bun girl is perched on the wicker seating alone. An empty mug, a spoon, and a used pack of brown sugar are the only trace of human life. Now it’s my turn to leave. Without looking back, I abandon the girl and instead take a look at Tegan’s rusty green bike chained against a street sign. It’s a day in the life in Vancouver.

To whom it may concern

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It had only been a fraction of my life, but it truly felt like an eternity since I last saw you. Each hour, day, week, and month seemed to drag on unbearably unhurried. Time was reluctant to leave my side, but it came and left you quickly.

After all this time, I was finally able to see you again. Oh, how you'd changed.  I'm not sure if it was evident from my facial expressions, but I tried my hardest to conceal my surprise. Your hair was longer; you had grown noticeably paler; you gained pounds of muscle, just as you had said, but what shocked me most was your face. You aged so much. You weren't the same man I remembered seeing so long ago. The image I'd kept of you in my head was not the same as the person in front of me.

We spent 150 minutes together. You and I. We talked about everything and nothing. We spoke with both words and silence. And just like when I was away from you, those minutes felt like centuries. But those centuries turned to eons the second we said our goodbyes and parted ways once again.

Related Reading: Your melody is mellifluous

Which went full circle

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It was twenty past 4 in the afternoon. The repugnant stench of cigarette smoke hung in the air. It began to snow, so Anita placed her frozen hands in the pockets of her plaid peacoat. She felt a sliver of paper in her left pocket. On that ripped piece of parchment, she’d carefully scribed his name in cursive: Colin. The arch of the C, followed by the round O, the loop of the L, then the I with no dot, & lastly the N, which went full circle around his entire name. He was standing just a few feet from her. Within the pocket, she gripped his name in her hand for courage. Anita glanced up at him, hoping to catch his eyes looking back into hers, but Colin quickly cocked his head away instead. Anita was fluent in body language & he said it all with his silence. Though she stood so close to him, in that moment she felt alone. Without a word & without the slightest flinch, she crumpled his name into her fist. He didn’t know it then, but in her mind it was clear: she was done with his bullshit.

Related Reading: Your melody is mellifluous 

He who continually helps everybody is a passionate being.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

He who continually helps everybody is a passionate being, Carmen Varner
Here's a more artsy side of me. This is a collage consisting of clippings from various magazines, mostly Vogue (the one with Tina Fey on the cover). 

In the beginning, I don't have any theme planned; I just flip through the magazines & find images & words that catch my eye. 

Originally, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say either. I found words  as I looked through the pages & I put them together.

Sometimes I couldn't find the word I wanted, so I had to search for another one.  I love the way it turned out; it reflects my personality.

Ever since I was in middle school, I would make collages. I wonder if they're back at home somewhere. I'd like to see what they looked like. Have I gotten any better? What was my imagination like back then?

I  still cover my bedroom walls with things I tear out of magazines. I cut them very carefully & close. Some things don't change; I've done this for years.

Related reading: Which went full circle


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