SLIDER

Wined & Dined at Village Mediterranean Rim

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The sun was setting on a peaceful but busy Saturday afternoon in San Clemente. I arrived at Village Mediterranean Rim* with my boyfriend, Fred, promptly at 6 pm & we were greeted after a few seconds. We were seated at a two top table & waited for someone to come around with the menu. Meanwhile, I eyed the place.

village mediterranean rim

Ambience

The interior was small, dimly lit, & packed. At any given time every table was occupied save for one. With low ceilings & many people, there was a constant bustle of chatter. I found myself leaning closer to Fred in order to hear anything he said or vice versa. Everyone seemed joyful, smiling, talking. One couple stared into each others eyes as they held hands from across the table. The outside patio with two small tables was filled with beautiful foliage — my favorite spot of the restaurant.

village mediterranean rim

village mediterranean rim

Service

Our server was John. He was attentive & glad to answer any questions, which there were many of. I consulted with him on what to get or if he had any particular recommendations. He was able to reply to my inquiries & make vegetarian-friendly suggestions.

village mediterranean rim

Food

We began with the Chermoula Dip appetizer. It's a small plate but packs mean punch of flavor. The chermoula comes with roasted pepper, harissa (hot chili pepper paste), cilantro, almonds, & pita. The bits of almond gave it the perfect amount of crunch while the harissa supplied a kick. 

village mediterranean rim

We got the special of the evening — the Roasted Asparagus & Farro Salad with Italian parsley, baby greens, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, feta cheese, & of course, asparagus & farro. The asparagus was soft & smoky, while the farro added texture. This harmonious rainbow of ingredients created a complex, satisfactory salad.

village mediterranean rim

As a complement to our food, we tried the Rio Madre Graciano Rioja, a full-bodied red wine. It went down mercifully, every sip better than the previous one. It paired gloriously well with the main course.

village mediterranean rim

For the main course, we tried the Vegetable Tagine with a side of the house made gnocchi instead of the couscous, as per John's recommendation. Tagine is a slow cooked Moroccan stew. The vegetable version came with organic seasonal veggies, walnuts, olives, dried apricots, figs, & Moroccan curry sauce. 

village mediterranean rim

I got goosebumps eating the gnocchi & its creamy, cheesy sauce; it was incredibly rich, thick, & cheese-tastic. Although the creamy gnocchi & curried veggies seemed like an odd combination, it turned into a peaceful mixture.

village mediterranean rim

village mediterranean rim

Dessert

Upon consulting with John once more, we decided to go with the Chocolate Pistachio Torte with marscarpone cream & berry compote. It looked exceedingly rich but was surprisingly light & airy. The berry compote was striking; I wish I had a jar of the stuff.

village mediterranean rim

Verdict

Overall, my experience was an exceedingly pleasant one. Village Mediterranean Rim contributed to the perfect date night. I would recommend taking a seat outside to relieve yourself from some of the noise & heat of a packed restaurant. Both Fred & I agreed that our favorite dishes were the Roasted Asparagus & Farro Salad as well as the gnocchi

Which food looks the most scrumptious? Would you ever visit Village Mediterranean Rim? :]

You may find Village Mediterranean Rim: 
123 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 361-8970
www.villagemedrim.com

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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from Village Mediterranean Rim. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

Candles & Makeup: New Products I'm Excited About

Monday, March 28, 2016

After a long day of laboring, blogging, & overall functioning, there's no harm in a little bit of retail therapy. There's a wave of calmness that overcomes you as the swift swipe your credit card makes a purchase. It's peaceful. It's healing. It's bliss. 

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While my boyfriend was in North Park San Diego covering a show & plans with a friend fell through, I found myself heading out for a rowdy night of solo shopping. It was a much-needed relaxation activity & I want share what I ended up buying. I'm just so excited about everything! This is what dreams are made of. Some people's dreams at least.

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beauty blogger, fashion blog, style blogger, beauty blog, California blogger,

Although I have my fair share of lip products, I couldn't resist buying this cute Alter Ego Mini Lip Gloss Collection by Lorac. The pack includes Lorac's five best selling highly pigmented lip glosses: Socialite, Girl Next Door, Showgirl, Jet Setter, & CEO. They're petite & perfectly sized so I can pop them in my purse when I'm on the go.

dw home, dw home candles, style blogger, lifestyle blog, California blogger,

I'm a girl who adores candles. Whether you find yourself having a night alone with Netflix or a romantic evening with a loved one, candles create a charming ambience. The flicker of the flame & the low lighting causes automatic relief. I spent approximately half an hour smelling candles over & over & over again attempting to narrow down my choices.

Fashion blogger, fashion blog, style blogger, lifestyle blog, California blogger,

dw home candles, fashion blog, style blogger, style blog, California blogger,

I was extremely impressed by the strength of DW Home's selection of candles & ended up buying two from the brand: Wild Honey Nectar & Peony Petals. I lit up both of them & so far they live up to their richly scented claim. You can clearly smell the candle when you walk into the room. I'm pretty impressed thus far.

lorac lip gloss, blogger, fashion blog, makeup blog, California blogger,

The last product on the beauty train is the ever so popular Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. I purchased this a couple years ago & opted to buy it again. This time around I chose the mini version because I'm not the biggest eyeshadow wearer in the world & it's just a wiser option for me.

dw home, wild honey candle

That wraps up the new products I'm excited about.  I literally ripped everything open the second I got home. I simply couldn't wait & have no shame about that. If I buy it I can do whatever the heck I want with it. I admit I got home, washed my face, took off my makeup, only to apply one of the Alter Ego Lip Glosses as a reclined in bed watching Netflix. It was heavenly.

Have you tried any of these items? What products are you excited about? When you buy new stuff, do you patiently wait or do you rip them open immediately? :]

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5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hooray & happy Friday everybody! Although Saturday is my favorite day of the week, there's something so satisfactory about Fridays. It's the end of something stressful & the beginning of something exciting — the opportunity to sleep in or run all the errands you've been wanting to complete. Unless you work weekends of course. That's another story. Aside from weekends, here's what I'm loving right now:

san juan capistrano

San Juan Capistrano

If you recall, I went on a short trip to San Clemente last week & during the vacation, we took a brief trip to San Juan Capistrano. By brief, I mean literally one hour. We checked out the Mission San Juan Capistrano gift shop & that's about it, but it's beautiful.

farmer's market

Farmer's Market

I don't head to farmer's market as often as I would like or as often as I should, for that matter. I did a bit of research & there are several markets in a short vicinity from me, so no more excuses! Anyhoo, I bought some mouthwateringly delicious garlic rosemary bread, cranberry orange loaf, & some dried fruit. Don't mind if I do.

st. patrick's day

St. Patrick's Day

This is the second year in a row I spent St. Patrick's Day out with my girlfriend. Apparently it's a tradition now. We went to Aztec Brewery in Vista & grabbed a flight of tasters. Absolutely no green beer for us. We did have some green jellybeans & had fun trying to guess the flavors. Our favorite? Pear.

tequila

This Sign

Let's be real. There's no way I could resist this sign. I'm a huge fan of cartoons & cute characters, so it's no surprise that this one caught my eye. Tequila isn't for me but this sign is. I hope you get a little bit of joy from it too.

spring blooms

Spring Blooms

Can you believe that spring is here? It's definitely one of my favorite times of the year. The beautiful & prevalent blooms are simply irresistible. I've been noticing them everywhere — on the side of the highway, during a hike, & even in the parking lot when I went to get an oil change.

What are you loving right now? Anything from my list? :]

Join me every other Friday for 5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥. Let's link up. Post 5 things YOU'RE loving right now & let's spread some happiness. From now on I'll be linking up for 5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥ so stay tuned & join in! 

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Sugar, Spice, & Everything Nice at Sensitive Sweets

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Everyone should be able to enjoy a cupcake (or cookie or candy or cake) now & again. That's my motto anyway. Sensitive Sweets* specializes in creating freshly baked cakes, breads, & desserts geared toward those who have food allergies, sensitivities, & restrictions. I don't have any food allergies myself, but I can appreciate having foods tailored to those who do. 

sensitive sweets

sensitive sweets

About

The whole idea of Sensitive Sweets began with the owner, Melanie, whose son has severe food allergies. She wanted to create a birthday cake her son could eat without having any reactions & today she has two stores dedicated to that mantra. You can also order many of the goodies online!! However, they only ship within the U.S. 

sensitive sweets

sensitive sweets

sensitive sweets

Location

Sensitive Sweets has two locations: one in San Clemente & another in Fountain Valley. The San Clemente store is petite, tailored for patrons to pick up their desserts to go. The location itself is a bit lowkey; you wouldn't know to go there if you weren't distinctly looking for it. You can pick up your sweets at the store or create a custom order.

sensitive sweets

Sweets

I kindly received a sample platter of some of their most popular treats. Here's what I got & here's what I thought:

sensitive sweets

Cookie Dough Truffle - Cue the heart eyes emoji. These are created with raw, vegan cookie dough & then coated with real chocolate. These are airy, perfectly bite-sized, indulgent, & satisfactory at the same time. You get a nice crunch from the chocolate.

sensitive sweets

Pumpkin Donut Holes - These cuties are moist but slightly crunchy due to the sugar topping. It's such a delight to have pumpkin outside of fall. It's like an edible version of a pumpkin spice latte. These are free from gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, & peanuts/tree nuts.

Chocolate Chip Cookie - You really can't go wrong with a classic like the chocolate chip cookie — the post popular cookie at the store. The cookie was crunchy on the outer edge, moist inside, & included delightful pieces of chocolate chunks. These guys are also free from gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, & peanuts/tree nuts.

sensitive sweets

Midnight Cupcake - The dark chocolate Midnight Cupcake is Sensitive Sweets' most popular cupcake & they're adorably decorated. I wasn't a fan of the frosting, but then again I'm rarely a frosting fan. The Midnight Cupcake was rich & decadent in a non overwhelming way. These are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, & peanut/tree nut-free.

Plain Dinner Roll  - Apparently you must heat these up in order to soften them. They were chewy & ever so slightly sweet. These are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, & peanut/tree nut-free. I could see myself eating these with lemon curd or some garlic butter.


sensitive sweets

Remedy Bar - Consider these a cross between a cookie & brownie. The Remedy Bar is one of the most popular goodies & free from gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, & peanuts/tree nuts. I have to say it was not my favorite & not as chocolaty as I was expecting. It's mildly sweet & moist.


My ultimate pick is the Cookie Dough Truffle — hands down. I could easily chow down on a couple (or more). The Pumpkin Donut Hole is an ideal choice as well, especially if you are particularly fond of pumpkin like I am. Sensitive Sweets is the perfect place to pick up a couple treats & is highly recommended for those who have food allergies.

Which sweet looks the best? Do you have any dietary restrictions or allergies? :]

You may find Sensitive Sweets: 
362 Camino de Estrella
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 388-5764
www.sensitivesweets.com

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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from Sensitive Sweets. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Reasons I Love My Grey Hair

Monday, March 21, 2016

Aging advances with a myriad of emotions. We look back on the past as if it's a different person, a former version of our present selves. With age comes experience & personal growth, the appearance of aeonian knowledge. The things we witness & the lessons we learn, assist us in blossoming into who we are meant to become. However, in order to earn your theoretical Doctorate in Life, you have to get a few grey hairs along the way.

5 Reasons I Love My Grey Hair, california lifestyle blogger

Ah yes, the grey hair. My first grey hair (hairs, actually) came conveniently after I graduated from university. I had quit my job at a little bakery in Orange County, moved back home, & felt like I had nothing going for me. I had no magical job lined up & I was so ashamed with myself about moving back home. I was stressed & frazzled & it showed. After a couple months living at home, I noticed three grey hairs pompously sprouted out at my part line.

grey hair, california lifestyle blogger

I was shocked, horrified, utterly bewildered. I was only 22 years old after all. Why was I getting smacked in the face with grey hair? As the years have gone by I haven't gotten any more grey hair — not yet anyway — but I've come to find them endearing.

1. They give me natural highlights when the sun hits my hair.
2. They are battle scars of lessons learned & mistakes made.
3. Grey hair is easy to cover up & a reason to try various dye colors or hats.
4. I'm not the only one; other human beings & mammals have it too.
5. It's a natural occurrence.

grey hair, california lifestyle blogger

Do you see that slight glimmer, that tiny thread of iridescence, that ashen, colorless, ghastly piece of keratinous filament growing out of my scalp? The wiry, defiant grey hair gets a bad rap, but it shouldn't. Consider it a badge of honor. It's a shout out to the world saying "HEY! I have lived a hearty life & I have learned a lot." That's what I'm going to think anyway.

Do you have grey hair?  How do you feel about them?


Happy Monday!


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On the Pier // OOTD

Friday, March 18, 2016

The salty ocean breeze billowed relentlessly as the waves crashed hypnotically onto the sandy beach. I stood facing the constant ebb & flow of the water, peering curiously at the line of surfers trying to hitch a ride on each subsequent crest. From the warmth of the sun on my face to the view of the vast bluish green Pacific Ocean, this is beauty at its finest.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger
Kimono: New Chic* // Dress: Cotton On (similar) // Leggings: Forever 21 (exact) // Purse: my grandma (similar) // Shoes: G by Guess (similar)

California is so large. You could spend ages exploring all the little cities & towns it houses within its confines. Fred & I looked at a map & picked out San Clemente, a city in Orange County, California, because of its proximity to San Diego — about 60 miles away.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

We toured San Clemente on a brief & busy 29 hour trip. The first stop on the list was an obvious stroll down the wooden San Clemente Pier. We walked the entire distance & relished every moment. We watched as the surfers tried their best to catch the lackluster waves. We eyed pigeons as they flew to their perch. We stared at the seemingly endless horizon of water.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

"I'm the queen of the world." I said in my best Leonardo DiCaprio circa Titanic impression.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

The weather said the little town was bound for rain but the gloominess vanished, revealing that beautiful Southern California sunshine mixed with the fresh ocean breeze & a sprinkle of clouds. Despite my modest layering, I was neither hot nor cold. A perfect unexpected balance.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

The grey tri-blend dress from Cotton On has become a new staple. It's simple & versatile. I find myself reaching for it every single week, & I have no shame about that. I paired the dress with the Floral Organza Kimono Three-Quarter Sleeve Sunblock Cardigan* from New Chic.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

I love the sheerness of it, which makes staring at my shadow pretty darn awesome. It's easy. It's breezy. I just might bring it with me to Coachella in April. I love the length as well as the funky cut of the sleeves. Aside from the fabric being slightly itchy, this kimono has found a popular spot in my closet.

san clemente pier, california lifestyle blogger

We had a joyous albeit short journey in San Clemente filled with copious amounts of food, a great deal of sunshine, quite a bit of walking, & best of all, memories together. We decided to take more of these mini trips since it gives us something small but thrilling to look forward to. Next stop: Borrego Springs.

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* Disclaimer: I received the Floral Organza Kimono Cardigan complimentary from New Chic. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

A Bit of Brunch Bliss at Active Culture

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The morning San Clemente air felt brisk as the sun shone bright. Fred & I found free public three hour parking & walked a brief couple hundred feet to our destination: Active Culture.* We opened the door & spotted a couple of women waiting to take their order. Both were dressed in head-to-toe activewear. One had fresh, chunky mud on her trainers while the other wasn't wearing any shoes at all, just a colorful pair of socks.

active culture

Decor

The interior & outside were spacey, open, & light with minimal decorations. The San Clemente Active Culture provides ample seating to fit a great number of guests. At any given moment a new customer traipsed in to order at the counter. They received a sand-filled glass bottle with a number, so the staff could find them to deliver the food.

active culture

We chose a seat on the shaded patio outside to enjoy the fresh air. We were the only ones on the patio then, but it was nearly filled by the time we left. The busy main street created a bit of noise but didn't phase me. I like the sport of people-watching.

active culture

Service

Nina took care of us & she was friendly as could be. Whenever I finished photographing one food she brought another dish. The rest of the team appeared amicable & ready to take your order or answer any questions.

active culture

Food

The Bountiful Bowl came with Greek yogurt, organic açaí, organic granola, flaxseeds, banana, blueberries, strawberries, & raw, organic agave nectar. You can identify the Greek yogurt the moment it hits your mouth — it's creamy, thick, & delicious. The bowl is enormous & so satisfactory with all the fruit, flax, & granola. A good choice for anyone at any time.

active culture

If you're looking for a breakfast sandwich to start off your day, opt for the Deluxe Egg-el (Egg-Bagel). It's a sprouted wheat bagel with scrambled organic eggs, melted cheese, onion, tomato, avocado, & seasoning. The topping was beautifully placed & colorful. You can't go wrong with a classic, hearty, egg ridden breakfast sandwich.

active culture

Get a pop of flavor & order Huevos Rancheros, a relatively new item on the menu. The presentation of the organic corn tortillas, organic beans, cheddar cheese, organic eggs, homemade Ranchero sauce, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, & seasoning was mouthwatering. Bonus points for perfectly cooked eggs with a runny yolk. When I punctured one, the yolk came creeping out. Loved it.

active culture

The Mushroom Soup was easily my favorite with carrots, green beans, celery, & mushrooms (of course). This soup is the ultimate comfort food; something you'd want to drink or eat on a cold rainy night or in my case a chilly San Clemente morning.

active culture

Drink

Nina surprised us with a couple of drinks. She brought a Chocolate Bliss Shake, which is organic, vegan, gluten-free, & soy free. The shake is made with their homemade raw organic almond milk, organic frozen coconut base, fair trade organic dark chocolate, raw cocoa powder, & organic vanilla. This was one of the best drinks I've ever had in my entire life & well worth the price. No joke. It's so indulgent, so marvelous. It's no wonder why "Bliss" is already included in the name.

active culture
H&M coat (similar) // Cotton On dress (similar) // Italia Deluxe lip liner (similar)

Up next: the Refresh juice. This sexy green drink is organic, vegan, & raw with cucumber, apple, spinach, mint, & lemon. It's totally something I could see myself slurping down to cure a hangover. The only qualm was that I kept tasting the Refresh a couple hours later in my burps. Odd, right?

active culture

Verdict

Active Culture is a hip, popular spot in San Clemente. Anytime I mentioned I took a visit there, I was met with groans of jealousy. Even my friend said, "I saw your photo of Active Culture. That place has some yummy food as I’m sure you experienced!" Yes, indeed. I did experience that!

active culture

I really liked the Mushroom Soup as well as the Bountiful Bowl, but the all-star champion was the Chocolate Bliss Shake. It was such a magical & unforgettable concoction. I'll likely dream about it every day until I can get my hands on another one. My boyfriend's favorite was the Huevos Rancheros. The friendly staff, abundant seating, & grand variety of food & drink made for a terrific experience. I would easily pay Active Culture another visit.

How does Active Culture look to you? Which item looks the yummiest? :]

You may find Active Culture: 
111 S El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 276-4625
www.activeculturecafe.com

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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from Active Culture. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

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