Books by Modern Female Authors

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë. These are among the best female authors of all time! They've been around for centuries. We've read them in school.  We know their names. But.....raise your hand if you're here to learn about modern female authors! Hell yeah, me too!

The dictionary definition of the word "modern" states: relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past; it's present-day, contemporary, present-time, present, current, twenty-first-century, recent.

Okay, so not your granny's favorite author. Not a classic female author. Not the best female author of the 19th century or even the 20th century. This is the 21st century, y'all. Bust out your library card or let's face it, just whip out your credit card to buy it off of Amazon. Ok, let's start reading some modern female authors!

* Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

If you want to read something career, business, or success related...

Kate White is a bestselling author, professional speaker, & former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan.  She's magazine royalty! This modern female author is your go-to for career advice. The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success has knowledge nuggets, strategies, & tips for women who want to make their own rules, advance their careers, & get the opportunities they deserve. It's a modern take on White's book from 1995, Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do.

If you're struggling with your identity or world view...

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun,  & Americanah. Half of a Yellow Sun is inspired by experiences of her parents during the Nigeria-Biafra war, while Americanah revolves around the realities of balancing the delicate mixture of a Nigerian & American life - the perfect read for anyone struggling with their identity, no matter where you live. As a Persian-American, this topic always resonates with me!

If you want to read something funny, satirical, or light-hearted...

Sarah Cooper's satirical book How to Be Successful without Hurting Men's Feelings aims to poke fun at business strategies for females. The book shares how women can succeed in their careers without harming the fragile male ego in the meantime. It's a great read if you're feeling especially bitter at your workplace. Sarah Cooper is hilarious.

If your mom died...

Read The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer. Someone asked me, "Is it sad? Or like supportive??" Of course, it isn't the most cheery of topics, but Spencer writes in a quippy, sassy, frank, & overall empowering way! Someone somewhere might benefit from this modern female author; I know it helped me.

There are many modern female authors to choose from. Just take a moment to stop scrolling or watch someone's story to read, to live, to think for yourself. We absorb technology all day; when was the last time you absorbed the words of a book?

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

How to Find Blogging Inspiration & Blog Topic Ideas

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Blogging is tough, y'all. There's always a curveball or a challenge or a commitment or an obstacle to keep you on your toes. There are highs & lows. There are so many moving parts. Whether you want to reach new clients or expand your blog page views, it's easy to lose blogging inspiration & fall behind on your social media goals.

Sometimes you feel stuck or overwhelmed with how much you need to do. You ask yourself: "How can get there? How can I get unstuck when I feel stuck?"

Take 30 minutes to go through this exercise & by the end of it, you'll identify some blog topics you can start writing immediately. Let's get those blogging content inspiration juices flowing. Are you ready?

Step 1. Ask yourself: What excites & inspires me? 

Write it down. Grab a pen & paper. Type it on your phone or laptop. Time yourself for 5 minutes; time management is important. Write down words or phrases as they come to you, stream of consciousness style. Don't overthink it. Write it down, you can refine it later. Aim for 20.

1. Food
2. Travel
3. Nature
4. Craft beer
5. Netflix
6. Friends
7. Hot sauce 
8. Blogging 
9. Photography 
10. Dogs
11. Poetry
12. Journaling
13. Writing 
14. Reading magazines 
15. Learning
16. Earl Grey tea
17. Thrift shopping
18. Kombucha
19. Farmers markets
20. Meditating

Step 2. Expand!

You have your initial list of things that excite & inspire you. Now we're going to get more detailed about each blogging inspiration point. Go through each word or phrase you wrote down & expand on it. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Aim to expand by 5. Again, stream of consciousness style. There's no right or wrong way to do this. You just want to get pen to paper. At the end of this step you should have a hodgepodge list of things that you're drawn to, captivated by, interested in, or simply enjoy.

1. Food ---> Vegetarian food. Persian food. Trying food from different cultures. Dark chocolate. Pickle chips.  

2. Travel ---> Seeing new places. Learning about other cultures. Trying new food! Challenging myself (like that time I spent the night on a couch at London Gatwick Airport). 

3. Nature ---> Botanical gardens. Nature walks. State parks or nature reserves. Seeing animals like butterflies, birds, rabbits, deer. Finding peace outside.

4. Craft beer ---> San Diego craft beer breweries. Happy hour craft beer. Hazy IPAs. Tijuana tasting rooms

Step 3. Circle the words or phrases that you're especially interested in

Take a look at your list & circle words or phrases you're especially interested in. What calls to you? What are you truly inspired by? As a human being, what are your current interests? This exercise is an excellent way to get to know yourself (again) & find blogging inspiration content ideas.

Step 4. Ask yourself: How can I incorporate these topics on my blog? How can I incorporate these things into my daily life or even my work?

Time yourself for 5 minutes. Work from your circled list & ask yourself how you can incorporate the topics on your blog as well as how you can add them into your daily life. The more you expose yourself to things that excite & inspire you, the more likely you'll have plenty of blogging inspiration to give you content ideas. Identify your current likes & write about it. Always stream of consciousness style, it doesn't have to be fancy.

1. Persian food

How can I incorporate this topic on my blog? ---> 
- Write about my childhood & growing up Persian
- Experiment with classic Persian Iranian recipes 
- Storytell about the Persian parts of my lifeevening Farsi classes, celebrating Nowruz
- Talk about the joys of rose water

How can I incorporate this topic into my daily life or even my work? ---> 
- Eat at local Persian restaurants in the San Diego area.
Buy an Iranian cookbook to try new-to-me recipes.
- Practice Farsi on DuoLingo
- Check out a book on Persian poetry from the library

Complete this exercise in its entirety & you'll find blogging inspiration to give you blog topics & content ideas for months to come. Never forget that success is a series of small wins, sometimes it's almost unnoticeable. Use your time wisely; read time management tips for bloggers for my best tips.

8 Things to Do in Encinitas, California

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

San Diego is an enormous county. In fact, it's around 4,500 mi.². I just Googled that. I definitely didn't know that off the top of my head. In North County San Diego alone, there's  Del Mar, Escondido, Oceanside, Solana Beach, & more cities. 

I enjoy international travel as much as the next person. I visited Spain, Germany, Mexico, & Norway in 2018, which proved more than ever that small moments matter, no matter where you are. You have to supplement those getaways with something budget-friendly, something local. At the end of the day, I'm a San Diego blogger at heart!

Whether you like coffee drinks or walks by the beach, there are plenty of things to do in Encinitas, California. Read this guide for Encinitas points of interest whether you're a North County San Diego local or an out-of-town visitor!

Hanging out at the Moonlight Beach overlook with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean

1. Head to Encinitas Beaches

Encinitas is a beachside town, there are a lot of beaches! Moonlight State Beach is one of my favorite places to relax. Play volleyball with your friends or dip your toes in the water. Moonlight Beach is beautiful & I've seen some of the best sunsets of my life there. Want other beach options? Check out Cardiff State Beach, San Elijo State Beach, or Swami's State Beach. Again, heaps of beaches & things to do in Encinitas!

2. Grab a cup of coffee

Encinitas has no shortage of coffee shops. Head to Pannikin Coffee & Tea for a coffee & a muffin. Their muffins are enormous & perfect for sharing. I love the Aztec Mocha from Lofty Coffee Co.; it has a spicy kick thanks to the cayenne. There's also Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Ironsmith Coffee Roasters, Coffee Coffee, Philz Coffee, & a few other spots.

In awe of the view from the Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple

3. Spend Time in a Garden

The Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas Temple is one of my favorite spots in North County San Diego because it has some remarkable views. Relax in the peaceful meditation gardens. Stare at the majestic koi swimming in their ponds. Look out at the vast Pacific Ocean. It's free to enter but donations are welcome. If you want to spend some time in nature with over 4,000 types of plants, visit the San Diego Botanic Garden.

4. Support Local & Buy Souvenirs

Stroll Downtown Encinitas Main Street for all the cool retail stores & businesses. Caravan West is a bohemian paradise with baskets, blankets, books, & more. Check out Moon Shadow Boutique for bohemian fashion & vintage home accessories. Crystals, hair salons, home decor, kids boutiques, men's clothing, stationery, swimwear, women's clothing, there are local Encinitas options for any gift or souvenir need.

A coffee & giant muffin from Pannikin Coffee & Tea is one of my favorite things to do in Encinitas

5. Drive Historic Highway 101

U.S. Highway 101 runs through the states of California, Oregon, & Washington. Highway 101 is the longest highway in California. Drive down a piece of history in Encinitas. Downtown Encinitas Main Street is conveniently located on Highway 101; park your car then shop some of the local boutiques & stores.

6. Eat Delicious Food at Encinitas Restaurants

Fresh fish, tasty vegetarian food, gluten-free options, raw & organic desserts, Encinitas has restaurants food for all your needs! My other personal favorite restaurants in Encinitas: pastries from St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro ♥ hot & prepared foods from Lazy Acres Natural Market ♥ Machacha Breakfast Burrito from Mozy Cafe (two eggs, jack cheese, & soy chorizo instead of turkey) ♥organic, fresh options from GOODONYA like the Breakfast Veggie Bowl ♥ EVE Encinitas for all things vegan

7. Drink Craft Beer at Encinitas Breweries

San Diego County has over 150+ breweries, so it's no surprise that Encinitas has a few craft beer options.  Saint Archer Brewing Co. has happy hour from 4-6 pm Monday through Friday - get $2 off a pint. Enjoy plant-based food & a full food menu (in addition to a full craft beer list, obviously) Modern Times Far West LoungeCulture Brewing Co. always features artists on their walls, so they're kind of like an art gallery with beer.

8. How About Cocktails?

Sip on a sexy cocktail at any number of cool Encinitas spots. In addition to a full food & craft beer menu, Bread & Barley has a number of signature cocktails (like the Leucadia Sunrise made with vodka, lemon, lavender, elderflower, cucumber), brunch cocktails, & classics. The Roxy is another classic go-to on Encinitas Main Street.

Did I miss something? Leave a comment with your 3 favorite things to do in Encinitas.

Have you visited Encinitas? Do you like to explore your own city? :]

Using an Acupressure Mat & Pillow for Stress, Tension, & Pain Relief

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Sometimes I casually lie down on a bed of needles to release tight muscles & relieve stress. What the hell am I babbling about?

This magical invention is called an acupressure mat & pillow. It only costs $20. It's spectacular! You can buy it from Amazon & you totally need one in your life. Keep reading to find out all about what it does, how to use it, & where to buy one.

At its core, an acupressure mat is a self-applied acupuncture device. You can lay on it, roll on it, sit on it, stand on it, stretch on it. I've been using the acupressure mat for over a year, so I developed an understanding of how to use it & how it benefits me. I use it frequently, especially when my back acts up.

* Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

I first heard about the acupressure mat from Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. It intrigued me with its intimidating, spiky look, so I searched for it on Amazon right away. As you know, I love Amazon, especially for practical blog props to elevate my flatlays & photography. Once I found out the set only costs $19.99 I bought it right then & there. Bing bang boom! 

I chose the grey acupressure mat & pillow set. Chic. Timeless. It goes with the grey rug I bought from Target. But the mat comes in a delightful range of colors like black, blue, green, pink, purple, & orange. Which color would you pick?

What are the benefits of an acupressure mat?

I roll out my mat, lie down on it, then roll gently side to side to help release tension in my upper back. Essentially, you relax on this “bed of needles” to massage various pressure points on your body.  The little spikes can potentially help you self-massage, relieve stress, tension, or pain. It might even help you fall asleep. 

It helps relieve pain in my right shoulder blade from an injury I got in college. It relaxes my muscles in a way nothing else has (other than the equipment my physical therapist used during my semester of rehabilitation. The acupressure mat & pillow set turned out to be one of my favorite Amazon purchases of all time. So worth it. Use it again & again for only $19.99.

On average, I use my mat once per week but you could easily utilize it more frequently, if not every day. That said, mine is well preserved with no stains or anything. The mat & pillow both have removable covers. Spot wash & you're ready to go.

ProSource acupressure mat and pillow set

I bought my mat on Amazon from a brand called ProSource. Made from 100% thick cotton & plant-based eco-foam, the ProSource acupressure mat has 6,210 acupressure points & the neck pillow has 1,782 acupressure points. That's a lot of spikes!!

When shoulder acts a fool, I bust out the acupressure mat because of its benefits relieve some tension. It truly makes the area feel better, relaxed, relieved. Buy an acupressure mat & pillow set only $19.99. Grab one for a friend; it makes a great gift!!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or my social media platforms, I may make a commission from that click &/or purchase. It's at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

Let's Talk About Sexual Health: HPV, Pap Smears, Home HPV Screening Tests, & Cervical Cancer

Friday, January 25, 2019

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

Let's talk about sexual health! January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Do you know the status of your cervix? How often do you think about Human Papillomavirus (HPV), pap smears, home HPV screening tests, or cervical cancer? Sexual health is often regarded as a private, taboo topic. But not here, not today. We're all friends here; it's incredibly important to chat with each other so we can learn & be our best selves. Let's talk!

About Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is the most commonly transmitted sexually transmitted infection. Did you know 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV? Each year 14 million people are newly infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Get Pap Smears Every 3 Years

Whether you're 25 or in your 30s, it's important to schedule a pap smear every three years. As an almost 29-year-old, I am due for a pap smear this year! My last one was right before my 26th birthday while I was still under my parents' insurance. I did everything under the sun since it was covered — blood work, dental cleaning, dental x-ray, pap smear, physical, eye exam. It gave me such peace of mind. It's almost been three years for me so I'm scheduling a pap smear!

What is Nurx?

Nurx allows people to take charge of their health by giving them access to affordable, convenient, quick health care options. If you don't live near a medical clinic, if you can't afford health care, or if you don't have health insurance, Nurx focuses on reaching women who lack traditional healthcare services.

What is the Nurx Home HPV Screening Test?

Okay, so Nurx’s home HPV test allows you to check your risk for cervical cancer from the convenience of your own home. The test kit checks for 14 strains of HPV that have a higher risk of leading to cervical cancer. It's the same quality as a pap smear, but it allows you to check your risk for cervical cancer between doctor's visits. Like I said, it's been three years since my pap smear & I'm due for one within the next few months. Taking the Nurx Home HPV Screening Test gives me peace of mind until I see a doctor. I don't have to lay awake at night worrying about my cervix. Just remember: this is preventative care, not treatment. The doesn't replace your doctor nor does it diagnose cervical cancer.

How the HPV Home Kit Works

1. Download the Nurx app to your phone or visit
2. You'll be prompted to answer a handful of questions about your health.
3. Then bing, bang, boom! Nurx ships the kit straight to your door.
4. Follow the kit instructions, send your sample, wait for results.

The kit itself includes an extra long cotton swab, a plastic tube, a plastic bag, a sticker with a barcode, & a prepaid return envelope. Swab the wall of your vagina, inserting it just like you would with a tampon. Then drop the swab in the tube. Put the tube in the bag. Place the bag in the pre-paid envelope. Then simply drop it in the mail & wait a few days for the results from the Nurx medical team.

If your results are negative, it means your risk for cervical cancer is low & you don't need additional testing for another three years. If your results are positive, it doesn't necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. You can work closely with the medical team to help figure out the next steps.

How do you feel about your sexual health? Rather than worry, address your health head-on. Get tested & take it from there. Screening yourself is preventative care, not a treatment. Make sure you're still seeing your doctor because the rest of your body needs care too. The Nurx Home HPV Screening Test is a convenient, affordable option to check your risk for cervical cancer. Try the kit yourself by downloading the iOS mobile app! Check out the Nurx website to learn more.

So tell me: how often do you get a pap smear? Are you taking time to take care of yourself? 

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

The True Story About Sourdough Bread Bowls

Monday, January 21, 2019

Rainy California days always remind me of when I worked at Panera Bread for three years in college. People would flock to buy the sourdough bread bowls at Panera anytime it was raining, which meant we ran out pretty fast. If management knew it was going to rain they'd make like five times as many bread bowls. 

But life doesn't always go according to the books. Sometimes rain comes out of nowhere & sometimes the swarm of people was just that intense in numbers.

And it was indeed intense. I said, I'm working at Panera. It's a rainy day. We sold out of bread bowls about an hour ago. I already turned down dozens of customers. My fellow coworkers at the cash registers turned customers down dozens of customers.

"No more bread bowls today. I'm sorry."
"We're out of bread bowls."
"No. We don't have bread bowls. We ran out."
"I apologize. We don't have any more bread bowls today."

There was one lady who came in. She asked for soup in a sourdough bread bowl. I told her "I'm sorry we're out of bread bowls."

Most people leave it at that, or make a funny (or sad) comment about how they were really looking forward to it.

But this woman...she was angry.

She demanded to know why we didn't have sourdough bread bowls. Where were they?

I told her that a rush of people came in when it started raining & a lot of them ordered the bread bowl. We'd run out. I'm sorry.

She started yelling at me & demanded to see a manager, who reiterated that there were no bread bowls. She actually wrote a letter complaining about me & how I'd ran out of bread bowls & ruined her day. In fact, she was so furious with me that my manager had to pull up the camera & look at our interaction on the security camera to investigate if I somehow provoked her or if she really went off because we simply didn't have bread bowls.

Basically, the moral of the story is don’t mess with bread bowls people will kill for them or report you. Bread bowls are pure edible bliss. The people have spoken. Stay safe y'all & remember to say "thanks" to your food/retail associates because people are extra on edge when it rains.

Have you tried the sourdough bread bowls at Panera? Do you have any strange food service stories? Tell me tell me tell me! Leave a comment.


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