SLIDER

Blog Prop Ideas from Amazon to Elevate Your Flat Lays & Photography

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Buy blog photography props & flat lay styling pieces from Amazon! It's convenient, affordable, & you never have to leave your house! Shop for props in your three-day-old hair, giant sweatshirt, & no pants. Ahhh, that's the dream. Elevate your flat lay photography with these Instagram-worthy Amazon props that I swear by!

*Disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links.

Faux Sheepskin Rug



This elevates every blog post & photo. It's chic, simple, & acts as a palette cleanser. Sometimes I put it out when guests come over because I'm cool like that. It helps that it's incredibly soft. Choose from multiple sizes to fit your blogging/room/dimensional needs.

Faux Marble Contact Paper



This beautiful wine, marble, & succulent set up is A LIE!!! I taped this white & grey glossy faux marble contact paper onto a poster board & it works wonders. Spill something on it? Simply wipe it away with a sponge. Gets too dingy? Replace the used contact paper. I've had the same sheet for over a year & haven't needed to swap it out. The roll is worth it!

Gel Pens



Flashback to the 90s, right? Okay, hear me out here. This gel pen pack comes with 48 pens to suit any rainbow your heart desires. Pick & choose colors to go with your theme or Instagram feed. Style the pens with stationery for any blog-related photography. Personally, I write with gel pens too since the colors keep me organized.

Wall Tapestry



These plant wall tapestries are enormous & beautiful. I pinned mine up & I use them all the time. Stand in front of them for a selfie. Hold your coffee up for a cool background. The options are as limitless as your imagination. Plus, I get compliments on them all the time. I got the banana leaf wall tapestry & the cactus wall tapestry.

Did any of these Amazon props inspire you? What's your go-to prop? Tell me. Leave a comment. :]

Bunkers del Carmel Turó de la Rovira Barcelona: Things to Do + The History

Friday, November 16, 2018

What if I told you there's a magical 360° view of Barcelona that's completely free?

Free dollars. Free euros. Free o'clock.

Free things to do in Barcelona? Count me in!


Hike Bunkers of Carmel on Turó de la Rovira for a panoramic view of Barcelona.

Imagine a panoramic look at Barcelona from 262 meters/859 feet above sea level. Picture yourself looking out at the Mediterranean Sea, La Sagrada Familia, & the entire city of Barcelona from up high. Find this unforgettable location at Bunkers del Carmel on the hill known as Turó de la Rovira, the site for the defense of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.


The History of Turó de la Rovira

Turó de la Rovira is a Museu d'Historia de Barcelona (MUHBA) heritage space, which officially opened in 2011 after undergoing restoration. It once contained the anti-aircraft battery used to defend Barcelona from air attacks. Pretty historic, eh?


The View of Barcelona, Spain from Bunkers Del Carmel

Perhaps you're a sucker for savoring spectacular sights. Me too, my friend, me too. If you want to take a selfie, get the best Instagram shot, or snap a memorable photo, this is the spot to check out. The view of the city is incomparable from the top of Bunkers del Carmel. On one side you can see the Mediterranean Sea, La Sagrada Familia, & all the Barcelona hot spots. On the other side, stare out at the Barcelona homes.


Things To to Do at Bunkers Del Carmel on Turó de la Rovira

Remember that it's free of charge to explore. Who doesn't love free things to do in Barcelona, Spain? Everything adds up: the museums, the cathedrals, the parks. Why not add something free to the list? So you made it up Turó de la Rovira, now what?

Have a picnic on top of the world.

Take snacks & drink so you can have yourself a merry little picnic. It goes without saying to pick up after yourself & dispose of any trash.

Have you visited Bunkers del Carmel? Have a question? Want to share your experience? Leave a comment below!


I Need To Be My Own Best Friend

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I'm writing this on my cracked iPhone as I ride the metro from Poble Sec to Mundet. I'm in Barcelona, Spain. It's my first time here. It's October but the temperatures remind me of San Diego. I'm happy & unhappy simultaneously. 

I'm writing to pass the time. I can’t help but feel turned around, as though my navigation is completely askew. Where is my compass? Where is my internal guide? Perhaps I haven’t been listening. I take things too much to heart. I think about scenarios that don’t exist. I crave friendship & connection but am horrible at executing it myself. I prefer online community & communication. I have to write in order to understand myself & my feelings. 


I’ve been lost because I haven’t spoken to myself. I am a person. I can have a relationship with myself. I should have a relationship with myself. Who am I? What do I like? How would I describe myself? What do I want?

I need to be my own best friend, my biggest supporter. I need to quit holding myself back, quit critiquing my every move. If my friend did that to me, they would be a crappy friend. Am I being a bad friend to myself?

Shouldn’t I be best friends with myself? Shouldn’t I have more faith in myself? Shouldn’t I care more about myself? Shouldn’t I be a better friend to myself? Shouldn’t I communicate with myself, understand who I am, what I want, what I like? Just like I’d get to know any human. It’s time to stop second-guessing every choice. It’s time to stop tallying, counting, take note. It’s time to do. It’s time to take action. It’s time to live.

I deserve a good relationship with others but it starts with me. If I were to name my 5 best friends, I wouldn't be on the list. This needs to change. I need to be my own best friend.

What are your thoughts on this mental health & self-care subject? Leave a comment & tell me a bit about yourself!

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.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

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? :]

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or any related 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. :]

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.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click &/or make a purchase through certain links on this site or any related 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. :]


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. :]

ARCHIVES

© Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach • Theme by Maira G.