SLIDER

Off to Barcelona, Berlin, & Oslo + Small Moments Matter, No Matter Where You Are

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Picture this: I'm up in the sky on a plane for 11 hours & 30 minutes as I transport from one side of the globe to another. I'm heading to Barcelona, Spain to gobble up patatas bravas & take in the beauty of La Sagrada Familia.

Shirt: Soo Jin // Sunglasses: Dopemo

Then I take a short $29 plane ride from Barcelona to Berlin. Yes, it's true. It only costs $29 to fly from one country to another. For less than a tank of gas — which would only take you from San Diego to Los Angeles — you can stop in another country. 
I'll experience Berlin, Germany's rich history & sit down for a picnic at Viktoriapark. After Deutschland, I venture north toward the fjords of Norway. I'll trek through the forest of Nordmarka in Oslo, Norway then sigh at the view of the city from the roof of the Opera House.

Shirt: Soo Jin // Pants: Hue // Sunglasses: Dopemo // Cowgirl Boots: similar on Amazon

I always have to remind myself: life is not only about the big moments — the graduations, the trips across the world, the pay raises, the engagements, the babies. The milestones are obviously important in life, but don't let them guide you, propel you. Create your own moments & milestones each day.

Shirt: Soo Jin // Pants: Hue // Sunglasses: Dopemo  

Even when traveling, some moments are mundane. You might spend the evening making mushroom tortellini & garlic bread in your London flat, then watching three episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix before heading to bed. Small moments matter, no matter where you are.

Shirt: Soo Jin // Pants: Hue // Sunglasses: Dopemo // Cowgirl Boots: similar on Amazon

Now when I make mushroom tortellini & watch Gilmore Girls at home, it makes me think of that night in our Knotting Hill neighborhood. It doesn't seem like such a minuscule moment; it morphs into a moderately meaningful one. This practice of remembering a good, small moment helps me feel more present, especially in times of stress or anxiety. 


The next few weeks will be packed with adventure, jet lag, & going outside of my comfort zone as I visit new-to-me countries & cities. I leave on Sunday. Right now I'm running around trying to do everything I need to complete before take off. Did I pack my underwear? Do I have a phone charger? Wait, where is my passport?!


What are you looking forward to? How do you make small moments matter? :]

Why Fresh Mint Tea is My Holy Grail for Upset Stomach

Friday, September 28, 2018

My stomach gurgles. The thought of eating food causes my stomach to turn. Every bite I take feels dry, deliberate, forced. Everything I eat leaves my body just as quickly as it entered. Gross, but real life. My body turns against itself for a week, which makes me take a moment to appreciate my body & the healthy moments.

My mint tea ritual started one evening after I read that mint tea might help an upset stomach. So I bought a pot of fresh green spearmint.

"I'll try anything." I thought. Bland foods like applesauce & toast weren't helping. It's day 3 & I can barely eat. My insides slosh around.

I tried fresh spearmint tea that night. Sip sip sip.

"What is this feeling? This feeling of...comfort." My gut stopped doing flips long enough for me to smile as I watched The Office. My stomach stopping singing long enough for me to take a couple bites of my soup from lunch that I hadn't eaten.

HALLELUJAH! Relief.

I drink fresh mint tea anytime my stomach starts feeling a little funky. It truly helps.


Should I Use Peppermint or Spearmint?

Spearmint & peppermint very closely related, so they have similar properties in relation to their appearance, flavor, use, & cultivation. It all boils down to personal preference; you may use both peppermint or spearmint. Oh yeah!

What's the Difference Between Peppermint & Spearmint?

Peppermint has a higher menthol content, making it more minty & potent in flavor: think peppermint bark. Peppermint is often used medicinally to soothe aches or relax muscles. Peppermint packs a punch. It's considered spicier than spearmint, giving it the "pepper" name in peppermint. 

Spearmint is lighter, more delicate, & less likely to overpower other spices. Spearmint can be found in sauces or your next mojito. Spearmint goes well with feta, tomatoes, olives. You might find spearmint in Greek food like tzatziki or maybe Vietnamese Banh Mi.

How Do I Make the Fresh Mint Tea?

1. Boil water & pour into a mug.
2. Pluck a couple stems & leaves. Add it to the hot water.
3. Let the stems & leaves steep in hot water for 5 minutes.
4. Muddle or mash the leaves & stem to release more flavor & the natural oils.


Do I Only Use Leaves? Do I Throw Away the Stems?

Use both! Both the leaves & the stems contain flavor. If you toss the stems, you're not getting the maximum benefits from the mint. Pluck off parts of the leave & stem simultaneously.

What Does It Do? How Does Mint Tea Help? What is the Benefit?

Botanicals like ginger, peppermint, spearmint, & fennel are known for their natural remedies. But mint is pretty cool because of its versatility. Here are a few things peppermint & spearmint can help with:

Allergies - Mint contains an antioxidant & anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid, which may help with allergies.

Caffeine-Free - Drink this any time of day without jitters or crashing. No caffeine!

Common Cold / Sore Throat - The menthol can have a soothing, cooling effect on your throat.

Decongestant - Mint contains menthol which is a natural aromatic decongestant to can help break up phlegm & mucus.

Indigestion / Gas - Studies show that mint improves symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome like abdominal pain.


Can I use a peppermint or spearmint tea bags instead?

Yes, totally. Use whatever you have on hand. Relief is relief. You'll get more of the natural nutrients with the fresh version, but peppermint or spearmint packaged/bagged tea might do the trick. You can also buy organic dried peppermint leaves or dried spearmint leaves in bulk to use for tea.

Where can I buy it?

You can buy fresh peppermint or spearmint at your local farmers market, grocery store, or herbs section. If you can't find it, here are some online options:

- Peppermint tea bags
- Spearmint tea bags
- Organic peppermint leaves
- Dried organic loose leaf spearmint

Can I drink this if I feel totally fine?

Of course. Mint tea genuinely tastes amazing (if you're a mint fan). By all means, drink your fresh peppermint tea with breakfast; sip your spearmint tea on a cool winter afternoon or a hot summer's day; drink mint tea in the evening as you read a book. It's naturally caffeine-free so you can drink it whenever you get the urge.

Finding My Balance as a Blogger, Influencer, & Entrepreneur

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This post is sponsored by Himalayan Water but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

As an entrepreneur, I have many job titles: blogger, social media coach, traveler, influencer, consultant, creator, strategist, photographer, editor, owner. I struggle on the daily to find balance with all the components needed to create a successful & sustainable business while maintaining a healthy & happy lifestyle. Right now my mind is racing with everything on my growing to do list: 

1. Book accommodations for my upcoming Spain, Germany, & Norway trip.
2. Research what to do in each city we're visiting: Barcelona, Berlin, Oslo.
3. Create a newsletter to send out by the weekend.
4. Organize & delete photos from my computer.
5. Transfer photos to my external hard drive.
6. Take photos for a couple brand partnerships: a clothing line & a yerba mate tea company. 
7. Stay hydrated (since my skin is much clearer when I drink water).

Do we ever figure it all out? Do we ever have it completely balanced? Every time I feel I have a grasp of how the world works, earth sends me for a loop. It's a day by day journey. I accept the challenge of finding balance, harmony, equilibrium, peace.


Walk • Move • Get Outside

Going on a walk (or doing some type of movement) is one of the best ways to refresh my brain when it starts to get all jumbled up with stress & my to-do list. Fred & I like to going to walk two or three times throughout the day so we get off our bums. It's easy to spend hours sitting typing on our laptops, brainstorming strategy meetings, or one-on-one in-depth coaching sessions with clients. The fresh air, the sunlight, the lack of technology resets my brain. Today I switched it up with a yoga session in the park with a couple of girlfriends.

Water • Stay Hydrated

We all need water & that's just a fact, but ensuring we drink enough is its own problem. I tend to suffer from headaches when I don't drink enough water; it's genuinely beneficial for my mental health to drink more. Right now I'm carrying Himalayan Water with me.

Himalayan Water is naturally pH balanced & journeys for 20 years through the mountains, through an underground aquifer, then goes through a layer of clay, & then rests in a confined aquifer 400 feet below ground. So basically, the water is naturally filtered & doesn't see the light of day until it's bottled at the source of the base of the Himalayas. 


Write • Journal

I begin each day by writing in my morning pages. In its essence, it's a journal. It allows me to get whatever's on my mind onto paper so I can focus on things that truly matter. Sometimes writing out how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking about or perhaps the fact that I don't want to write at all can be useful. Sometimes it gives me blog post ideas, content material, captions. Sometimes it's simply good to reflect & realize what's going on my brain.

Which is the most helpful to you when you want to find your balance: walk, water, or write?

* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Himalayan Water. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

How I Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Flights

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hello friend! I hope you're having a thoughtful, interesting, productive day. The last several weeks zoomed by in a ridiculously rapid haze of writing, creating, clients, emails, & making moves. During all the hubbub, Fred & I looked for flights throughout Europe. I get a lot of questions asking how I afford to travel. My secret? I use Google Flights to find cheap flights. 


It's a strategic process. I used Google Flights to search for tickets to Paris last year. I used it to find the best prices to Portland, Oregon. I've used Google Flights for several trips & it's my favorite way to save money on flights. We used Google Flights to book our latest trip too. In October, I'm heading to Spain, Germany, & Norway!

Play Around With Airports



In an ideal scenario we'd fly out from San Diego International Airport since it's the closest airport to us, but sometimes you can save $200+ from flying from LAX.  It adds several hours of travel time but $200+ can make all the difference if you're on a budget or trying to travel affordably. Play around with the closest airports to you & to your destination to see price fluctuations. For example, roundtrip tickets from San Diego to Paris cost $560, whereas roundtrip Los Angeles to Paris is $360.

Keep Your Dates Open



You're less likely to get a good deal if you have to travel during a specific timeframe. If possible, keep your dates open. Check different dates & compare prices. That's why our winter trip to London was so affordable. Cloudy, frigid, with a dash of snow, but holy moly, Christmastime in London still warms my soul when I think about it. Because we keep our calendar open, we accidentally booked Bucket List moments every time we travel: Christmas in London, Autumn in Portland, Spring in Paris, Halloween in Oslo.

Check for One-Way Flights or Multi-City



We kept it simple by booking roundtrip flights the first couple Google Flights excursions. 7 nights in France. 9 nights in London (10, if you count the night we spent at London Gatwick Airport). If you're keen to explore multiple cities or countries on your trip, one-way flights or multi-city option is your best bet. It cost us a little over $29 for our flight from Barcelona to Berlin. $29. Less than a tank of gas & I'm off to a new country.

Be Aware of Flight Times & Layovers



The $506 roundtrip LAX to Amsterdam flight with a 3-hour layover seems perfect until you look at the fine print: you have one stop in London where you have to transfer from London Heathrow Airport to London Gatwick. You'd have to deboard the plane, take your luggage, get a ride to a completely different airport, go through customs & security in 3 hours?! Sounds like a missed flight to me! Be aware of flight times & layovers on Google Flights. You might find a great price but there might be some sort of weird layover or stop or time. After playing around with dates more, I found a $493 roundtrip LAX to Amsterdam flight with 1 hr 45-minute layover in Philadelphia. Now that's doable.

Book Directly With the Airline



Google Flights gave you affordable options & now you're ready to make a purchase. Heck yes! Save dollars when you book directly with the airline. Go to their website, search for your exact flight, date, & time, then make the purchase from there. Don't forget to sign up for any rewards to maximize potential savings.

Did these tips help you? 


Now that I booked my affordable flight tickets, time to find Airbnb accommodations, research things to do, eat, experience, & start my countdown! You have a trip planned? Have you used Google flights to find cheap flights?

Blogger Mail Products I'm Loving

Friday, August 24, 2018

As a blogger, influencer, social media professional (or whatever you want to call me), brands sometimes send items for promotional consideration. You might see things on Youtube or blogs like "HUGE PR UNBOXING" or "Blogger Mail Haul." I find this type of content fascinating because I'm nosy like that, but also because the social media & public relations world changes every day.


I love experimenting & learning about new-to-me brands, products, & concepts. Although brands send me free items, I don't talk about everything because, well, not everything is blog-worthy or a must-have. However, this blog post is meant to share a few goodies that brands & publicists sent me in the last few months that I genuinely enjoy, use, & want to share with YOU - because YOU ARE COOL.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 


Dry Brush Kit

I am wayyyy behind on the dry brushing train. Better late than never, as they say. One of my lovely friends & former coworkers connected me with ZenMe, a brand offering natural solutions to promote skin health & well-being. The ZenMe dry brush kit comes with a dry brush, pumice stone, exfoliating gloves, & a konjac sponge. Genuinely a great deal for the quality & amount of items in the set. Exfoliate pesky areas like your feet with the pumice stone - so effective!


Better Body Foods

Food gives me life. Literally. Better Body Foods aims to share healthier, nutritious food & ingredients without losing flavor. I particularly like the PBfit®, a powdered peanut butter with cocoa. Better Body Foods has a range of essentials like organic coconut flour to their LIVfit Superfood® Organic Superfood Blend with organic pea protein, flax seed powder, chia seed powder, hemp protein, & more goodies.


Christie Brinkley Stick Highlighter

Christie Brinkley is iconic. She's one of the first supermodels, gaining worldwide fame in the late 1970s with her cover on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She's stunning & radiant, but now we can get the same glow with the Christie Brinkley Authentic Beauty Strobe Show Natural Glow Stick Highlighter. The stick makes application easy & mess-free. I feel like my own version of a supermodel.


Poop Spray 💩

We all poop, right? Like, that's a fact. Simply spritz a couple sprays of DooDooJuice into the toilet bowl before you do your business to reduce smelly odors. DooDooJuice makes for a perfectly practical gift. Read the reviews if you want a laugh! If you want a low-down on how these types of products work, what they do, if they work, & how to integrate them in YOUR life, read my full post here.

So tell me: which product sounds the coolest to you? I'd love to know what YOU are into. Leave a comment. Say heyyyy. :]

7 Things To Do at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas

Friday, August 10, 2018

I'm a tiny speck amongst the majestically carved Franklin Mountains & the vast Chihuahuan Desert landscape that surround me. I wipe a bead of sweat from my brow. It's barely 8 a.m. but the sun is no joke. I pull the brim of my El Paso hat down to cover as much of my face as possible. 


I'm exploring Franklin Mountains State Park as a familiarization tour guest of Visit El Paso. I look at the other travel influencers, journalists, bloggers, & writers. Everyone is taking photos. I put my phone on a wooden post, set a self-timer for 3, 2, 1. I smile. "Cheese!" I say to myself. I look at the picture.


It's glorious. Mother Earth is photogenic in that way. If you're a nature lover, hiking fan, or desert enthusiast, add Franklin Mountains State Park to your El Paso, Texas To Do List. There's so much you can do!


1. Nature Watching

The state park has a diverse ecosystem of birds, reptiles, coyotes, squirrels & maybe a mule deer or perhaps you'll spot a mountain lion.

2. Rock Climbing

Go on a rock climbing adventure! Bring your own equipment & climb at the designated area in McKelligon Canyon or at Sneed’s Cory in the Tom Mays Unit.

3. Camping

Stay at one of 14 tent campsites or 5 RV sites. Campsites don't have water or electricity. Click here to find out more about Franklin Mountains State Park camping & RV options.

4. Dining

Ok, there aren't any restaurants but you can still enjoy a meal on the mountain. Find picnic benches & shade so you can take in the view while you eat. It's such a good view. I loved eating my breakfast & watched the desert come to life in the morning.

5. Hiking

The hiking trails at Franklin Mountains State Park are intense. You could spend a lot of time exploring the 100 miles of trails on almost 27,000 acres. Bring water, cell phone, good shoes, & a hiking buddy.

6. History

Native American tribes made the area their home for thousands of years. Find their deep mortar pits for grinding seeds. If you're really lucky, you might spot their colorful pictographs & etched petroglyphs on boulders & rock walls. 

7. Events

Franklin Mountains has an active events pages which you can check out here.


Clear your mind & spend time with nature at Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas. Start off with a peaceful brunch on the mountain then camp overnight after a long day of exploring the trails. The entrance fee for adults is $5. Children 12 years & under are free. What are you waiting for? :]


Which activity sounds the most fun to you? :]

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