SLIDER

To a New Year 2015 || a poem

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here's to a new year,
perhaps a fresh start.
2014 gave us greed & murder,
it gave me a heavy heart.
So much death & hatred.
It's hard to see the light,
when the skies are always dark.
Do we fly or do we fight?
Let's bring a bit of kindness,
maybe a little bit of love.
We humans are all related,
Life isn't something to dispose of.
Give some food to the hungry,
& open the door for others.
Say "please" & "thank you."
Get along with your brothers.
Donate your time to a cause
that you can feel good about.
Nothing comes to us easy.
It takes hard work, no doubt.
But we're in this together.
We've got a long way to go.
Just treat people with respect
& happiness you will know.

By Carmen Varner

Self-portrait // treat people with respect & happiness you will know


+++++++++++++++++

Murder. Corporate greed. Hate. Vanity. Sloth. We humans have many problems, but I can see past that. We have a lot of love to give. Just give it. 2015 should be about making the world around you a better place. If others are happy, you're happy. If you're happy, others are happy. Ever go into work & your boss is in a terrible mood? It affects your mood & work ethic too. Ever get home from a long day & your mum/dad/roommate/significant other is having a bad day? Their attitude alters yours as well. 

Be the kindness you want others to show you.

Happy New Year, my friends! Stay safe, stay happy, stay tuned. 

What are your thoughts on this poem? What's a kind thing you'd like to do next year? Let me know. :]

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▲ December on Instagram ▲

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Oh Instagram, how I have learned to love thee this month. I'm really coming into my element on Instagram & I feel like I've got my groove. These are some of my favorite photos from this month -- portraying where I've been, what I've done, & pretty much what I've drank. I went on a trip to Los Angeles with the boyfriend. We tried some good food.  I had some good times with good homies. We tested out new brew & generally had a pretty fantastic time. Plus, I must say I made sure to utilize the most of the Christmas spirit.  Now on to 2015. Whoa. ❅❅❅

Christmas decorations in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles after the rain.


A "Joe-rita" from Indian Joe Brewery. Basically beer with citrus & a salt rim. 

Friends<3

Fresh squeezed orange juice & the Christmas tree (& chipped nail polish).

We watched Troop Beverly Hills that night. :D

Christmas brews & see through shoes.

Style post!

How was your December? What's something you've learned this year? Please feel free to share your experiences. :]

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Fat Weasel Ale | Steinhaus Brewing Co.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I've got another craft brew review for y'all! [Did you read my first one??] Today's brewski hails from...Trader Joe's! Fat Weasel Ale, brewed by Steinhaus Brewing Co., is a reasonably priced beer that I got from one of my favorite spots to shop, Trader Joe's. I often forget about TJ's wonderful offers. This particular beer was only $5.99 for a 6-pack. Yowza! What a steal. Or was it?




The packaging is relatively simple. The logo has a cool, whimsical font with a weasel in a bold patterned shirt, a straw hat, & a mug of beer in his paw. He does actually appear quite fat. He's also floating in air. Maybe he is mid-leap or maybe he can fly. The bottle cap is plain gold; there's no design, logo, or anything to set it apart.



Fat Weasel Ale is a light, golden brew with a 7.1% alcohol by volume (ABV). The beer pours smooth with a frothy head (the foam on top) that settles quickly. The alcohol content (7.1%) plus the price ($5.99) is almost unbeatable. I came in with some pretty decent expectations due to the price & ABV, but I came up disappointed. The beer itself is quite light, say in comparison to the Pumpkin Porter I reviewed.



I wasn't impressed with the taste. Definitely not a gourmet choice, as it reminds me more of a cheap American style malt liquor. Each sip left you with a lingering slightly bitter & dry aftertaste due to the hops. That said, if you want some okay tasting American brew for an excellent price, you can't go wrong with this. It's not so terrible that I wouldn't drink it again, but I'd likely try some of Trader Joe's other selections prior to picking this one up another time.



I sipped on these beers with my boyfriend & we were both in agreement. For the price & alcohol content, it's a swell deal. For the taste of the beverage, try something else. I like Trader Joe's. I like the packaging. But I don't like this beer. Have you ever tried this? Do you have any Trader Joe's beers to recommend? :]

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From the Boyfriend's Closet // OOTD

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boyfriends. They are great people. They give nice hugs. They warm your hands when they're frozen. Sometimes they make you breakfast in bed. But one thing I like about boyfriends is that you can raid their closet. I got this really cool skeleton tunic from my boyfriend's closet. Well, actually he gave it to me prior to us dating. Hehe.


I like the oversized natured of borrowing from boyfriends. No matter what, you get that cozy, enveloping effect. Most women's tunics are very short on me & don't cover the bum area. I love me some leggings, so I like my butt to be covered. Luckily this tunic is long enough. 



I have a few pairs of go to Christmas socks. I wear them all the time when the season is right. It just makes me feel holly & jolly. Oxblood creepers & Christmas socks make a nice combination, I'd say. I paired it with a vest I snagged from my grandma's closet.


Tunic: Buffalo Exchange // Vest: Grandma // Leggings: Forever 21 // Socks: Unknown // Shoes: H&M

I had a really nice low key Christmas with my boyfriend -- our first one together versus with our families. Pizza. Beer. Gifts. Love. It was nice & happy. Here's hoping you had a merry Christmas. What did you do for the holiday? Anything special? Do you ever borrow from your boyfriend's closet or grandma's closet?

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Get the Look: Gwen Stefani from the 90s

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gwen Stefani is queen! This look was inspired by my No Doubt Tragic Kingdom CD score, which I got for $1 thrift shopping in San Diego. Gwen Stefani is no doubt (see what I did there?!?!) one of the key 90s fashion icons with her abs of steel & crop tops to show them off. From her bindis to her track pants & rocking belts, Gwen's style from the 1990s was legendary. Style is all about changing things up, trying new things, & becoming who you are as a fashion guru. Get this classic 90s grunge Gwen Stefani look!



First things first, you're going to need a crop top. One of Gwen's signature looks (to this day) is a bare midriff, making the crop top one of her staple items. Next up is some sort of tracksuit pants, sport pants, or any kind of killer pants. If possible, pair it with a really badass belt.

The chunky heel was very popular in the 90s, so find one from your mum's closet & rock them like there's no tomorrow. As far as jewelry, Gwen kept it pretty minimal. Layer dainty, barely there necklaces. Notice in these photos you can hardly tell she's wearing a necklace. It's very minimal. Her bracelets are a little heavier; I opted for adding some cool jelly bracelets.

One of Gwen's most iconic features were her dark red lips & her bindis. Your look wouldn't be complete with either of these two. Lock them down to make your look easily recognizable. If you're trying to style it in your own way, mix it up. Get some of that iconic Gwen Stefani garb & blend it with your own stuff.

What do you think of Gwen's style? If you had to utilize one look from Gwen's trends, which would it be?



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Christmas in California

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas in California is a beautiful sight. The sun is shining. The temperatures are gentle. The leaves gracefully tumble to the ground. It truly is a wonderful time of year. We had a little bit of rain but not too much. Absolutely no snow. If there were snow, you'd know something is terribly wrong. Everyone else is probably experiencing frigid temperatures by now, but all you need here is a sweater maybe some leggings & you're good to go as far as the winter chill. These are photos of Christmas time in California as I see it. Be it the dainty string of a colorful Christmas lights or the glowing pastel painted sunset near the ocean, this is Christmas in Southern California.
Pastel & palm trees. My view of the sky.
The empty pool on a rainy day. Notice the visible moisture from the heat of the pool.


Christmas in Carlsbad

The freaks come out at night.

A festive Starbucks cup. Woohoo!
Sunset after the rain. 
Bird of paradise with rain droplets.


Christmas according to the heavens.

Decorations at Booze Brothers.


Remember: we all go through struggles. We have those ups & downs. Those people who seem to have it after us. Those times when everything is terrible. Pick yourself up out of that funk. Grab a coffee. Go for a walk. Phone a friend. Nobody can change your attitude but you. Enjoy the little things. The beauty of the every day. Enjoy the season, the festivities, & the love.

What does your Christmas look like? What's your favorite thing about this time of year? Which photograph is your favorite? Please let me know. :]

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Hearty Breakfast Scramble with Broccoli

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mmm...breakfast. Mmmmmmm...breakfast for lunch. Both are worthy of mmmm's. We've all got busy lives & it's hard to dedicate time in the morning to create breakfast. Sometimes it helps if you have an idea of what to make. This breakfast scramble is simple. You can't mess this up. This breakfast scramble with broccoli is vegetarian (of course) & hearty as can be. You'll be satiated & ready to take on the day! Okay let's do thisssssssss!



// Ingredients // 
+ 1 potato, chopped
+ onion (as much as you like), diced
+ 1 head of broccoli, diced
+ 3 eggs, scrambled
+ spices of your choice

// How to make it //

1. First things first, add a little bit of oil to the pan. Chop your potato into chunks. One potato yields say 25 or so pieces. Cook your potato until they start to brown & look crisp. When you start adding other vegetables, the potatoes just don't cook. Make sure they are 100% cooked to your liking before Step 2.

2. Once your potatoes start to brown, add your onion. You may need to add a smidgen more oil at this point. Stir occasionally so it cooks evenly. Your house should be beautifully fragrant & that's when you'll know you need to add your broccoli.

3. I diced my broccoli finely so it'd cook quicker. You know, that morning rush! I added one head of broccoli. Stir everything together. You'll know your broccoli is ready when it turns a rich green hue.



4. You're free to add your eggs. Scramble them beforehand so they're nice & fluffy & you can evenly distribute it. Pour the eggs over the top & then start mixing. It's not too much egg compared to the mass of veggies, so it'll cook very quickly.

5. As everything is finishing up cooking add your spices. I like to add a little bit of paprika, red chili flakes, salt, & pepper. You can keep it minimal if you want, but that gives it a nice smoky kick.

6. Serve & eat!



Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea & a loved one. Depending on your hunger level, this can serve one to three people. I'm just being real. My boyfriend could've eaten this whole thing himself, meanwhile it could last me all day. Different strokes for different folks!

What's your favorite vegetable? Do you eat breakfast often? :]

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Best Things to do When You're Sick

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Being sick sucks. Yeah, I said it. There are a variety of illnesses of course, so symptoms vary. However, the mentality is the same. Wow, I feel rotten. When will this aching go away? Oh my god, the world is spinning & I'm so nauseous. I don't want to eat anything because I know it's not going to stay down. Well, I better just stay by this toilet. I can't remember feeling well; how long has it been? 

I tend to get dramatic when I'm ill simply because I am aware of every second. Each moment of writhing pain seems to last a lifetime. What about that awful gagging as you attempt to make your way to the bathroom? There's hope. It'll go away (generally). And I've got a few ideas & proven methods to make your "adventure" a little better. Here are the best things to do when you're sick & here's to staying healthy, hydrated, & happy! 



Drink water - Please stay hydrated! If your mouth is parched or your urine is smelly or yellow, drink water or eat crushed ice. Be sure to look up symptoms & the best way to deal with them. For example, if you have food poisoning, drinking anything could make your symptoms worse. Ask a doctor or look it up! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend drinking plenty of water & other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss aka dehydration.

Eat your veggies - Fruits & vegetables carry essential vitamins & minerals. Eat them in order to boost your immunity. Garlic, citrus fruits, red peppers, mushrooms, leafy greens, blueberries, & carrots are especially useful foods to fight colds, according to Health


Call a friend - You may want to deal with this alone, but you shouldn't. If you're truly in bad shape, it's best to have a friend or family member around to ease your stress. They can run downstairs to bring you crushed ice or drive to the store to buy you some electrolyte-rich food or drink. If you're contagious, be extra careful to cover your coughs & sneezes. 

Watch a movie - It's a superb way to waste some time & get your mind off the pain or dizziness. I chose Titanic. Since I've seen it before, I figured I'd just take a nap at some point (the film is over 3 hours long). To my surprise, I watched the entire thing. Then I realized I hadn't thrown up in over 3 hours! Huzzah! Thank you Netflix. Thank you James Cameron, Kate Winslet, & Leonardo Dicaprio.




Rest - Bed rest is your best bet. If you just ran a marathon, would you go workout afterward? Uh, I hope not. If you're strained, stressed or unsettled, don't work harder than your body already is. Chill out, man. That nap may be the answer to your problems.


Blow your nose - Don't hold it in. It may be loud & embarrassing to sound like an elephant, but you gotta let it out. When you're sick you have increased mucus production as well as congestion, so you'll want to expel them in order to relieve your symptoms, according to WebMD. If necessary, you may want to use a nasal spray. Plus, nobody wants to hear you sniffling all day. Nobody wants to see the snot dripping out of your nose. Grab a tissue, trek to the bathroom, & blow your nose. 

Related post: How to Toast Quinoa

Take a shower - Sickness can make you feel lethargic, tired, groggy. If you take a shower, you may feel more invigorated. The water pressure can be therapeutic for aches & pains. It doesn't hurt to get squeaky clean. It could be better for you than you thought.

Put on background music - Bust out your favorite record, CD, or radio channel. The tunes can calm you down & ease your spirits. Hearing some nice old Motown jams as you fall in & out of sleep is incredibly comforting. Despite your illness, music is there for you. 



Being sick is never fun. But these really are some of the best things to do when you're sick. That's why we must try our best to prevent illness in the first place. Wash your hands. Eat healthy. Exercise often. Maintain your health before you get sick. Have a great day & keep those germs at bay!

When was the last time you were sick? Do any of these tips work well for you? Let me know! :D


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The Lazy Person's Guide to Last Minute Gifts

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

There are two types of people in the world: the ones who do their gift shopping ages in advance & the ones who are lazy last minute gifters. Which one are you? This post is all about the lazy person's guide to last minute gifts. These presents are useful enough that most human beings will want something or another. The best part is the items are generic so you can tailor it to whomever you're purchasing for.





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Christmas Cocktail Recipe // Cranberry Raspberry Vodka

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Let's be real sometimes we can use a little cocktail or... a big cocktail. I first started experimenting with cooking, baking, & drink-making when I was in college. I really had to learn to think outside the box as far as cooking because it was all on me to create a good meal. Mum wasn't there to make scrumptious food anymore. 

This drink is kind of inspired by my college days watching Pantry Raid, a show where this chef visits people's houses & makes a gourmet dish solely with what's already in the pantry. I had a few friends over a couple weeks ago & someone left half of their raspberry vodka. I thought what the hell this stuff is disgusting anyway so I'm gonna make a delicious drink out of it.



// Ingredients //
+ 2 oz. raspberry flavored vodka 
+ 4 oz. cranberry raspberry juice
+ 4 oz. sparkling water
+ handful of ice
+ frozen raspberries for garnish

I like the idea of a strong drink, but I also don't want to taste immense amounts of alcohol, so this recipe is based on a person such as myself -- they would rather enjoy the drink than gag on it. You can change this according to your taste preferences.

I made the Cranberry Raspberry Vodka in a large glass because I was sharing with my boyfriend. We like to do less dishes if possible, so this drink is for two. You can make a smaller version using half the ingredients or you can have one giant drink if you had a rough day. ;]



// How to make it // 
1. Start off by pouring two shots of the raspberry vodka. One shot equals 1 ounce aka this will be 2 ounces of vodka.
2. Next up is your sparkling water & juice, I added equal parts sparkling water & juice. In this case, 4 ounces of each. 
3. Plop in several ice cubes to completely chill your drink.
4. Top off with some frozen raspberries.
5. Stir everything together. Let it settle & chill briefly. 

Now you may sip on your delectable drink. The frozen raspberries really give it a nice look.  I was also really surprised that the frozen raspberries basically shatter when you try to crush them. Feel free to alter this to fit your beverage needs. If it's is too sweet add more sparkling water. If it's not enough liquor for you give yourself another shot. If it's kind of bland & watery give yourself some juice or top it off with more frozen raspberries.



Enjoy your drink! I would love to know: What is your liquor of choice? Are you a beer person? Vodka person? Random tequila person? Or do you not like alcohol at all & you completely skipped over these posts? If so I am sorry about that I can include more smoothie, tea, & other non-alcoholic concoctions as well. 


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Roses are Red, Rosemary is Green // OOTD

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter is coming! Or where I'm from we call it "winter." We're almost done with fall & I have hardly utilized any of my warmer attire. I realize I have so many layers -- cardigans, coats, sweaters, scarves, beanies -- that I really never get a chance to wear here in Southern California. It's almost pointless.

Side note: What isn't pointless, rosemary. I love finding fresh rosemary. There's some a lot behind me in theses photos. I often pick some, crush it, & leave it in my car for the day. :]



This is my first year as a fashion blogger, so I'm seeing that my fall style is unlike most others (unless they too are from SoCal or maybe Florida). If I wear that gorgeous camel colored trench coat I will die from heat exhaustion. Maybe. Even Southern California compared to Northern California is vastly different. 


Top: Thrifted // Shorts: Thrifted // Leggings: Pink Zone // Purse: Ted Baker // Socks: Nordstrom Rack // Boots: my grandma's closet
My sister is going to school in Berkeley & I'm going on about the weather & she says "it's cold up here." Oops. I clearly have a skewed view of the seasons. I've visited Canada & France & Seattle, so I know how cold it can get. But I'm never exposed for too long. My standard fall uniform is leggings + something (shorts, dress, skirt). It's easy to layer without being too much or too hot. 



Christmas is nearly here & I found myself sporting a lot of red recently. Can we oooh & aaah at the lining of this Ted Baker purse? What's cuter than a Boston Terrier? A Boston Terrier with a orange bow. Sounds like it could be a joke, albeit a non-funny one. This bag is super compact so I can barely fit my card holder, phone, & keys. Just the essentials with this one.

What's your fall uniform? Do you have one go-to item? Tell me a little bit about where you live! 

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To the Person Who is no Longer Here...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

To the Person Who is no Longer Here...

We miss you.
Well, I miss you.
I can't speak for the rest of the world.
You left too soon,
or just in time.
I haven't figured out how the universe works.
The photos are nice
to look back on,
to remember those little moments.
But it would be much better with you,
with the real thing.
A faded photograph doesn't do you justice.
The stories people tell me,
those don't do you justice.
But that's what I've got.
Seeing as you're no longer here,
that's all I can manage to grasp.

By Carmen Varner


+++++++++++++++++

A quick poem on death & loss & the feelings they leave over time. The holidays can be even tougher, knowing they won't be able to celebrate with you.  As I've grown, death has gotten more difficult to get over. As a child, it doesn't hit you as hard. You don't realize the long-lasting nature. As years go by, you forget their facial features or their unique movements or how they smell. It's okay. Life has a way of working itself out.

Have you ever lost a loved one? How did you feel then & how do you feel now?


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Who is Carmen? | Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Me

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Who in the world is Carmen? I've been blogging for a while now & want y'all to get to know me a bit more. Me. Myself. I. Carmen. Getting to know me might not be as helpful as how to style a beanie or as tasty as this yummy breakfast recipe, but it's me nonetheless. If you read my blog, you're reading me in text & photo format. Why not get back to basics? Who the hell is Carmen? Without further ado....



I'm Persian, not Mexican - Living in San Diego with a name like Carmen, people tend to think I'm Latina. But I'm not! I'm half Iranian & half...Eastern European. My mum is Iranian aka Persian, so I grew up eating (& still eat) ghormeh sabzi (herb stew), fesenjān (thick, tart stew made from pomegranate syrup & ground walnuts), āsh (a thick soup), & kuku (vegetable souffle kind of like a frittata). I don't speak Farsi, so I'm bummed about that. Oh great, now I'm hungry! 

I'm a social media consultant - What? I have a job?! Uh yes. Gotta pay those bills somehow. I did social media for a resort, timeshare, & hotel brand with 20 resorts in California & Hawaii. I also do freelance social media work. Basically, I create the daily Facebook, Instagram. Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram content depending on the brand or person. I focus on growth & engagement, so I manage their accounts as far as following relevant users, liking, commenting, creating a dialogue etc. So yes, I create Facebook posts for a living.

I have a boyfriend - And his name is Fred!  (hi bb<3) Oh yes, he reads my blog too. It's cool to have a male perspective & opinion in life as well as blogging. We've been together since January 2013. We met in high school & were each other's first kiss. Awww. Things fizzled out & we parted ways but always remained friends. Well, here we are all those years later.

Okay, that's enough information for today. I'll keep up with this series every couple weeks or so! Stay tuned if you want to learn more about how cool I really am. ;] Until then it's back to your usual programming!

Now this leads me to my questions for YOU:
  • Do your parents speak a language that you can't?
  • What's your day job?
  • How long was/is your longest relationship to date?
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Vance Joy at the House of Blues San Diego

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Hey everyone! I want to share my Vance Joy experience with you because it was fantastic. I received a press pass, so I was able to get nice & close. I initially arranged this by speaking to Vance Joy's manager ahead of time.



I was able to get a press pass for the Vance Joy show on Tuesday, November 25 at the House of Blues in downtown San Diego. A press pass essentially allows you to take photos, even getting up to the front barrier to do so. Vance Joy is an Australian native who will be opening for Taylor Swift next year whilst on tour.

Here's a video I created of the performance! Take a looksee. :]

The doors opened at 7.p.m. & the opening act, Jaymes Young, started at 7:30. I got to San Diego & drove around for 15 minutes trying to find parking. I found $5 parking nearby & hurried off. Note: I did not write down where I parked. I will freak out later when I can't remember where I parked my car.



I scurried along to will call, said my name, & got my ticket & press sticker. Then I went inside the venue. I asked a few of the attendants who work there where I was supposed to go (because I've never done any press event). I ended up asking 2 or 3 different people & finally made my way down the maze. I'd never been to the House of Blues, so that could've helped me navigate.


I went downstairs & asked another person to confirm which location I was supposed to go for photos. That's when I found out you can only take photos during the first 3 songs. I had missed the opportunity to take Jaymes Young's photo because of parking & being a rookie. I decided to simply enjoy the last few minutes of his performance. His set time was strictly 7:30 - 8 p.m.


Jaymes Young's music is a mixture of genres. He's relaxing but has a powerful, soothing voice. Here's a video of his EP title track “Habits Of My Heart," which is a remake/remodel of a Sufjan Stevens song. You may have heard Young on The Fault in Our Stars track by Birdy, "Best Shot (Feat. Jaymes Young)."


There was a lull from 8 - 8:30 p.m. for Vance Joy set up, so I decided to drink a beer & relax off to the side. I really had to down my beer quickly because I wanted to head to the restroom prior to the performance. My worst fear would be to be 1 song into the set & have to rush to the bathroom because the beer finally digested. Disaster averted! :D


I came back, showed my photo badge to the security guard & he let me through. I was literally right in front of the stage. You know how there are barricades at performances? Well I was in front of everybody. I was where people from the Los Angeles Times or whomever were taking photos. I was the press!


I got to be right in front listening to him, enjoying music, taking as many photos as humanly possible. I hoped I could get at least a couple decent ones. This is one of those moments where you have to perform well under pressure & stress. I was there to enjoy my experience sure, but I was there alone. I wasn't there with my boyfriend or a friend. I drove 40 miles from my home to downtown San Diego to go to this event because I wanted to have that experience to share with you all.



Vance Joy was incredible live. He has a personable stage presence. He interacts with the audience, asks them questions in between songs, & his voice is genuine & raw. He sounds practically identical to himself on the radio. I'm sure you've heard "Riptide," which is one of his most famous songs. The hit single is from Vance Joy’s debut album Dream Your Life Away.


Thanks for listening & sharing this moment with me! It was laborious but worth it in every way. Sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone to achieve true happiness. Have you been able to get a press pass since blogging? Ever heard of Vance Joy? Please share your experience & thoughts. :]

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*Disclaimer: I received a Vance Joy ticket complimentary from Atlantic Records. All opinions in this feature are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

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