September 2015 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Vegetarian Snack Recipe: Cucumber Baguette Bites

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Looking for a simple, delicious, & beautiful snack to serve at your next party? Try these quick vegetarian cucumber baguette bites on for size. They are fast to make & yummy to eat. If you're the type who can barely boil water, you'll be able to pull off these tasty bites. I guarantee it! Let's get this party started.

vegetarian snack

For this quick & straightforward vegetarian snack recipe you only need a few easy to find ingredients & 10 minutes of baking time. Prep only takes about five minutes, so altogether this tasty snack can be created, made, & eaten in 15 minutes or under.

// Ingredients //
+ Persian cucumbers
+ Vintage Dubliner cheese
+ Baguette
+ Honey
+ Pan

vegetarian snack

// How to make it //

1. First things first preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C. Let the oven do its thing while you assemble the food.

2. Now it's time to prep the ingredients. Take everything out & cut them into pieces. Keep your baguette chunks pretty thick. Then cut them horizontally. Slice your cheese & Persian cucumbers thinly. 

vegetarian snack
vegetarian snack

vegetarian snack

vegetarian snack

3. This is where it gets easier. Place a cheese slice on each of the baguette pieces. I chose a scrumptious vintage Dubliner cheese; it's a slightly sweet, granular cheese. You can use a regular cheddar or whatever you have on hand. The Dubliner cheese gives the baguette bite a really lovely kick.

vegetarian snack

4. Place a couple slices of Persian cucumber on top of the cheese.

vegetarian snack

5. Bear with me everyone we're almost done! To make life uncomplicated, place your cucumber baguette bites on your pan. Drizzle your honey onto the baguette. You can go light on the honey or you can squeeze as much as you want on there. Your call! 

vegetarian snack
vegetarian snack

6. Everything is prepped & ready to go in the oven which should be heated to 350° now.  Place your tray in the oven. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Now it's all about the waiting game... 

vegetarian snack

7. Done & ready to eat. Take the bites out of the oven. Shovel them into your mouth or place them neatly on a plate & then scarf them down. Either way you'll end up eating more than a couple of these bad boys.

My boyfriend says & I quote "one of my favorite snacks/appetizers of all time. No lie." Now that's quite a claim. But I'll take it. What do you think of these Cucumber Baguette Bites? Would you ever make this quick vegetarian snack recipe? Do they look good? :]

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Welcome to the Cologne Cathedral in Germany

Monday, September 28, 2015

Want to visit one of the most enormous & gorgeous cathedrals in the world? If you're looking for things to do, take a trip to see the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The Roman Catholic cathedral is also referred to as the Kölner Dom in German. You will adore its splendor & beauty. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about this stunning cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom

The construction of the cathedral began in 1248. Goodness gracious; that's a really long time ago! The cathedral itself is 474 feet tall (144.5 meters) & 283 feet wide (86.25 meters); the towers are 515 feet tall (157 meters). It's enormous. It's difficult to get it all in one photo. In fact, the Cologne Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in northern Europe.

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom

The Cologne Cathedral is genuinely gargantuan. You have to back up pretty far in order to get the whole thing within frame for your photo. Spot it from outside & gasp with surprise. Head inside & see what riches lie within. I like to think of it as a museum because there's an abundance of beautiful religious art inside.

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom
Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom

Let's start with the exterior. It's the first thing you see. Take a look at the main entrance with its 19th century decoration. There is plenty to look at, that's for sure. You could stand around browsing each statue, each figure, but a photo lasts longer & is less time-consuming. So that's what I did.

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner DomCologne Cathedral, Kölner DomCologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom
Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom
Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom

There are furnishings, windows, tombs, monuments, floor mosaics, & cathedral bells. When I went back to the Kölner Dom website, I was surprised by just how many significant works were held within its confines. A lot. If you can't make it to Cologne, Germany, you can do a virtual tour on their site. It tells you about every piece & where it's located within the cathedral.

Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom Koln
Cologne Cathedral, Kölner Dom Koln

The entire cathedral is massive. Don't feel bad because you're not the only tourist there. It's one of the biggest tourist hubs in Cologne. Many people were there taking photos, praying, & enjoying the glory of Cologne Cathedral. On another note: I couldn't help but be captivated by the creepy looking door handle. It's truly creepy no? It's sad. It kind of reminds me of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Have you ever visited Germany? How about the Cologne Cathedral? What's your favorite cathedral, church, religious structure that you've ever visited? :]

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Affordable Bridesmaid Dresses from PromTimes

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It's no secret that I'm a bargain lover.  It used to be so bad when I was younger; I would buy something just because it was on sale. Now I'm a little bit more critical. But overall I still enjoy a good deal. PromTimes* reached out to me to feature some of their dresses & I was impressed by their prices.

I'm not getting married anytime soon so there's more of a chance of me being a bridesmaid than a bride at this point in time. If you're on the same boat as me, let's take a look at these cheap & affordable bridesmaid dresses from PromTimes. 

* This is a sponsored post. :]

bridesmaid dresses

The A-line Grape Chiffon Dress retails for £49.99 or $76.83. I quite like the burgundy color & the small details such as the little flower. It's versatile in that it could be a bridesmaid dress or a cocktail dress. It's multi functional & that's a big bonus for me. I just kind of want to spin around in it & say "weeeeee."

bridesmaid dresses

Oooh shiny. The One Shoulder Knee-length Regency Taffeta Dress is also listed as £49.99. There's something about this dress that's irresistible to me. The volume, the color, the sheen. I dig it. It has a classy look & reminds me of a modern version of something that Audrey Hepburn would wear.

bridesmaid dresses

Now this stunning Spaghetti Strap Knee-length Red Dress is probably my favorite. It retails at £51.99 & looks as though it's worth a lot more than that. The joyful bow & delicate straps are just so alluring to me. There's something very captivating about a bold red dress. It's powerful & elegant. I don't own any red dresses so this is a tempting look. 

Aside from liking a discount I adore items that can be worn in a multitude of ways. I'm not the type of girl to purchase something only to wear it once. That's just not how I roll. These PromTimes dresses are handpicked by me to wear as a bridesmaid, to wear at a special occasion, to wear at prom. Smell that? It's all the money we saved. Which is your favorite dress? :]

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* Disclaimer: I received compensation from PromTimes in exchange for writing this post. As always, all opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

Ocean View & Veggie Food: Ki's Restaurant

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It's safe to say that I love food. Do you love food? I especially enjoy local, vegetarian cuisine. Ki's Restaurant* has been in business since 1980 & has grown tremendously over the years. Their two-story location in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California has a splendid ocean view.

ki's restaurant

ki's restaurant

My boyfriend, Fred, & I cruised in for a bite to eat. They have breakfast, lunch, & dinner menus depending on your arrival time. For lunch you order downstairs; dinner is full service. I drooled over the variety of vegetarian items. They literally had an entire vegetarian menu. Now that's what I'm talking about! The more options the merrier, that's what I always say.

ki's restaurant

It's such a joy to have multiple foods to choose from instead of one boring veggie burger. Feel free to pick the upstairs seating options from the covered patio, indoor dining, & their balcony.  We chose the covered patio because the outside heat from the California summer sun was a bit too much to bear.

ki's restaurant
ki's restaurant
Covered Patio
We ended up selecting the Spicy NomNam Bowl which includes lettuce leaf, rice noodles, basil, cucumber, pickled carrot & daikon, nut mix, cilantro, Thai peanut sauce, & Sriracha. You get the option of tempeh or tofu; I chose tofu. The NomNam Bowl has a medley of flavors with a spicy kick from the Sriracha & a nutty sweetness from the peanut sauce. The variety of textures & flavors leaves your mouth watering for more. It's a unique & powerful bowl unlike any I've had before. For $9.95 this is a remarkable deal. I highly recommend it!

ki's restaurant

Next up on the taste test was the Roasted Tofu Sandwich with roasted tofu served on a seeded baguette with tomato, lettuce, & chipotle mayonnaise. The simple sandwich is vegan & absolutely glorious with the tofu twist. I enjoyed the firmness of the tofu. The sandwich satiates you & stays together. No sogginess here.

ki's restaurant

The Roasted Tofu Sandwich came with one side. You could choose a cup of soup, garden salad, corn chips, beans & rice, or coleslaw. I chose the vegetable soup which is a family recipe from Ki herself. I was impressed to find out it includes 13 vegetables. It's kind of like minestrone but with a little bit more depth. I loved the hint of flavor from the dill. The sandwich & side retails at $10.95.

ki's restaurant

As a drink, I ended up getting the Peach Ambrosia fruit smoothie. The smoothie is made from fresh orange juice, pineapple juice, peach, papaya, & banana. I liked the little chunks of papaya & the thickness. I got the large size which costs $5.50. The Peach Ambrosia is refreshing & rejuvenating.

ki's restaurant

Overall my experience at Ki's Restaurant was exemplary. They have scrumptious food & the pricing & size of everything is well worth the cost. I'd recommend anything that I tried, but most of all the Spicy NomNam Bowl. Both Fred & I were more than stuffed & took away a little doggy bag to go.

ki's restaurant
ki's restaurant

If you're ever in the Encinitas/Cardiff area please visit Ki's Restaurant. They have wonderful food, amazing service, & a fantastic view of the ocean. I know I'll be back! They have a terrific assortment of food, vegan, vegetarian, or not. How does the food look? Which of the items looks the best to you? :]

You may find Ki's Restaurant: 
2591 South Coast Highway 101
 Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
(760) 436-5236 

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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from Ki's Restaurant in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

KAABOO Del Mar Music & Art Festival || Day 1

Saturday, September 19, 2015

There's nothing quite like a nice music festival to get you pumped up. KAABOO* is a three-day festival & it just wrapped up day one. The fest is still on a roll, but I wanted to show you some of the moments I captured. It was a hot day especially if you're sitting in the sun. With all the wonderful live music, the funky art, the hilarious comedians, & the delicious food it's hard not to enjoy yourself.

Take a look at some of the photos I shot at KAABOO Del Mar. I'll be heading out there today as well but I wanted to give you a little glimpse into what it was like. I'll add more photos & individual bands later. But here's a teaser. Hope you enjoy. :]

gwen stefani, kaaboo
Gwen Stefani of No Doubt

tony kanal, kaaboo
Tony Kanal of No Doubt

snoop dogg, kaaboo
Snoop Dogg

fitz& the tantrums, kaaboo
Fitz & the Tantrums

the revivalists, kaaboo
The Revivalists
anthony jeselnik, kaaboo
Anthony Jeselnik

chris d'elia, kaaboo
Chris D'Elia

KAABOO  is off to a fantastic start. There were masses of people & I believe it has the ability to grow & become the next Coachella. But we'll have to see about that. I just have to say that Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, & No Doubt were absolutely glorious live. Gwen's voice is magnificent & she's just flawless in general. I mean look at those abs. Which photo is your favorite? :]

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*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ticket from KAABOO. All opinions in this are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

50 Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin Puree

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joy to the world; autumn is here. I love that the season gives me an excuse to use pumpkin! I'm not talking the disgusting artificial pumpkin flavor that you can find in your run-of-the-mill chain coffee shop. I'm talking real pumpkin, pumpkin puree, & all that good stuff. I had a very tempting can of pumpkin puree sitting patiently in my cabinet & I figured there's no better time to utilize it. 

canned pumpkin puree

Of course we all know that there's pumpkin pie, but how else can you use pumpkin puree? Well check out this list of ways to utilize it. I wanted to challenge myself to find a variety of options to consume pumpkin without feeling bored. I was thoroughly surprised with the flavor & depth it gave my food & drinks. It's as simple as adding it to your favorite grub, beverages, & sauces. Autumnize your recipes by dropping in some pumpkin! Check out this list.

Wanna get excited for autumn? Be sure to read 23 Things to Look Forward to in the Fall! :]

canned pumpkin puree
Give your coffee some flavor by mixing in a dollop of pumpkin puree.
1. Coffee
2. Chai latte
3. Milk shake
4. Protein shake
5. Smoothie
6. Cider
7. Hot chocolate
8. Pumpkin spice latte
9. Egg nog
10. Cocktail

canned pumpkin puree
 My oatmeal tasted scrumptious with pumpkin puree, pecans, & chia seeds.


11. Oatmeal
12. Pancakes
13. Waffles
14. Muffins
15. Cookies
16. Macarons
17. Empanada
18. Pumpkin butter
19. Cheesecake
20. Yogurt
21. Pumpkin bread
22. Scones
23. Brownies
24. Fudge
25. French toast
26. Pudding
27. Ice cream
28. Cinnamon rolls
29. Donuts/ donut holes
30. Applesauce
31. Cream cheese
32. Granola
33. Syrup
34. Coffee creamer
35. Frosting

canned pumpkin puree
 Cook your veggies normally & include some pumpkin puree along with your spices.


36. Soup/stew/chili
37. Gnocchi
38. Stir fry 
39. Pasta
40. Macaroni & cheese
41. Risotto
42. Quinoa
43. Hummus
44. Cornbread
45. Curry
46. Mashed potatoes
47. Quesadilla
48. Dinner rolls
49. Biscuits
50. Pumpkin Alfredo sauce

canned pumpkin puree
 Combine a couple tablespoons of pumpkin puree with your pancake batter.

It's truly as simple as incorporating a little dollop of pumpkin puree to your food. Put some in your quesadilla or drop it in your mac & cheese. Plop a little into your coffee or latte for some flavor. Mix some in to your usual cookie or brownie batter. How will you use canned pumpkin puree this season? Are you a fan of pumpkin or do you find it overrated? Did I miss something? Leave a comment with other ideas on how to use pumpkin. :]

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Special Occasion Dresses from Rosa Novias

Friday, September 11, 2015

A beautiful dress can be such a confidence booster. It's been a while since my last prom or special function but I always keep my eye out for gorgeous items. Rosa Novias* reached out to me to collaborate on highlighting their dresses & I thought this would be a perfect occasion to feature some cocktail dresses. They also have glorious wedding dresses, stylish bridesmaid dresses, & many more options. After all you never know when you'll need a pretty dress for a special occasion.

* This is a sponsored post. :]

rosa novias

I found a variety of dresses that I genuinely thought were lovely. My favorite color is green so I wasn't too surprised to have found a couple green dresses I thought were magnificent. There's a nice balance of knee length dresses, slightly below the knee, & floor length dresses.

The Green Floor-length One Shoulder gown with a high slit is so gorgeous. I love the flowy nature; it has an ethereal, fantasy vibe to it. For $126.81, it's a great bargain. The Strapless Pleated Nude Chiffon Evening Dress looks like something a fairy princess would wear. You just have to get the right amount of billowing wind.

The charming Halter Chiffon Mini Cocktail Dress has handmade flower embellishments & an empire waist.  The dress costs $126.81, but I like that it's versatile & can be worn for a wide variety of functions. You can't go wrong with green, so the Knee-length Lace Chiffon Cocktail Dress is a fantastic choice for a beach wedding or outdoor event. Very fitting! Another favorite of mine is the Navy Chiffon Floor-length Dress. It's just so splendid; it's a steal for $142.87. I love the bold color.

In the world of fashion blogging, you never know where the world's going to take you. You always want to look your best & feel your best.  Which of these Rosa Novias special occasion dresses is your favorite? :]

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* Disclaimer: I received compensation in exchange for writing this post. As always, all opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]


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