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


Nākd Cereal Bars Review

Friday, May 29, 2015

Eating is pretty much a hobby for me. I genuinely enjoy noshing on quality foods & drinks. When a representative from Natural Balance Foods contacted me about reviewing their raw, natural, & unprocessed cereal bars* I kindly said "yes, please & thank you."  I'm always on the lookout for a wholesome & tasty snack. I received 13 Nākd bars to taste test. Let's break it down, shall we?

nakd cereal bars

The Company:
Natural Balance Foods is a predominantly United Kingdom-based vegan snack company & they were looking for bloggers to help bring the Nākd brand to the United States. The products are vegan friendly, gluten & wheat free & are made with no added sugar or nasties. 

nakd cereal bars
nakd cereal bars

The Packaging:
The packaging is eye-catching, compact, & unique. I like that it clearly states how much of each ingredient is in a particular bar. For example, the Apple Crunch bar shows that its ingredients are 43% dates, 18% soya crunchies (soy, tapioca starch, salt), 15% cashews, 15% raisins, 7% apple, 2% apple juice & just a hint of natural flavoring (I'm not exactly sure what that natural flavor is). The packaging even had me giggle with a little smiley face after the "may contain the odd shell or pit piece :)" or the best before date & then says "best before a friend nicks it." I enjoy little touches like that.

nakd cereal bars
nakd cereal bars

The Texture: 
There are two types of Nākd bars: the Nākd Fruit & Nut Bars & then the Nākd Crunch Bars. Both of which have nearly the same texture -- chewy yet soft. The Crunch Bars have a crispy texture due to the soya crunchies. Since the Nākd bars are cold-pressed, they are condensed & won't just crumble to bits. Both types of bars have chunks of fruit, nuts, or soy bits to munch on, so it doesn't just disintegrate in your mouth. Overall, I prefer the Fruit & Nut Bars.

nakd cereal bars
nakd cereal bars

nakd cereal bars

nakd cereal bars

The Taste:
If I'm being honest, the Nākd bars have a similar taste to Lärabar. Both Nākd & Lärabar have a bar called Cashew Cookie & they taste nearly identical. Nākd Bars contain 100% natural ingredients so there are no added sugars or syrups; they're made with raw fruits & nuts smooshed together. The sweetness is just right & not artificial. Although the sugars are naturally occurring, you should still check the label to verify how much is in each bar. For example, the Apple Crunch bar has about 14 grams of sugar with little bits of crunchies & dried apple pieces. On another note, I am a huge fan of chocolate but didn't really like any of their cocoa bars.

nakd cereal bars

The Price:
The Nākd Sampler Box runs for $9.99 for 13 bars. However, that's a discounted price given that you've never bought Nākd bars before; otherwise the Sampler Box costs $16.99 for the 13 bars. The Mixed Box of 18 bars retails at $22.99. Most bars like Lärabar & Odwalla run you at least a dollar per bar & that's when they're on sale. However, Nākd bars are much smaller than Lärabar & Odwalla. That's something to consider.

nakd cereal bars

The Verdict:
Did I like the Nākd bars? Yes. Would I buy them myself? Yes, but only at the $9.99 price. Nākd makes scrumptious vegan & gluten free bars with minimal ingredients & that's something I can appreciate. But I wouldn't pay more than $1 per bar, especially give their size. I wouldn't buy any bar for more than a $1 each. My favorite bars of the bunch would be: Banana Crunch, Berry Delight, Cashew Cookie, Ginger Bread, & lastly Rhubarb & Custard.

Have you ever tried the Nākd bars brand? What's your opinion on raw, vegan cereal bars? Any of these flavors sound tasty? :]

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* Disclaimer: These products were received complimentary from Natural Balance Foods in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

Indio // OOTD

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The truth is I'm still having Coachella withdrawals. I miss the music & the atmosphere. It wasn't just music; it was an entire experience. You go camping for three days but it's unlike any other camping you've witnessed. You're surrounded by thousands of other campers. 

indio ootd

indio ootd

When you wake up at 1 a.m. you hear people at the disco, dancing & enjoying the reverberating beats. When you wake up again at 3:30 people are still chatting away, although there are less of them. Wake up again at 6 a.m. & people are barely rising, a slow chatter starts to form. If you wake up at 8, pretty much everyone's awake because the sun starts to beat down, causing your tent to be an uncomfortable sweat fest.

indio ootd

indio ootd

This was my traveling look when we drove from San Diego to Indio, CA. I wanted something comfortable for my feet & light for the rest of my body. It's the desert after all. These photos were taken before Coachella at our cute little motel. Notice that my dress is reversible! Woohoo!

indio ootd

Dress: Kohl's // Shoes: Target // Socks: Rue 21 // Necklace: Vintage

How has  your May been? Are you looking forward to anything this year? A festival, a wedding, a trip? :]

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The Best & Coolest Platform Creepers

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Creepers. They're cool. They're edgy. They give you a little bit of height without the fear of twisting an ankle. Originally developed as a fashion item after World War II, creepers are now a universal fashion trend...kind of. I remember my boyfriend used to wear TUK's in high school & I thought they were the ugliest thing on earth. Well, my opinion on that has changed. Dramatically. 

platform creepers

Stella McCartney is one of the only big name designers whose entire line is cruelty free. Her Elyse lace-up platform shoes retail at $1,070, but the high-shine metallic-silver faux leather upper, the chunky natural wooden wedge platform, & saw-edge white rubber sole give it so much character. Yes please!

Superga Pink White Hearts Suki Waterhouse platforms are pale pink with lovely hearts bordering the sole. Wear your heart on your sleeve? Maybe it's time to wear it on your shoes!

Want the ultimate girly shoe? The Hello Kitty Ombre Mondo Sole Creepers TUK Shoes are perfect for the pastel lovers out there. Or Hello Kitty lovers. Either way works for me. 

I love how sleek the Classic Spring Creepers by MODEKUNGEN look. The synthetic leather & canvas with a ridged sole give this all white creeper its own way to stand out. It's a classic.

The floral design, round toeline, rubber sole, wedge heeled Primadonna Lace-Up Shoes from YOOX are ideal for spring. It has just a peep of floral to keep it relevant yet understated. Bonus points for it being faux leather.

Vans are a personal favorite of mine, so the Authentic Platform with a low top lace-up silhouette, platform sole, durable canvas upper, & metal eyelets is an all-around favorite. Black as night & perfectly versatile.

Which is your favorite pair of creepers? Do you own any yourself? Do you love or loathe the platform creeper trend? :]

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Rainy Day // OOTD

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rain rain don't go away. You're welcome here. Feel free to stay. Remember how thrilled I was about having a gloomy day here in Southern California? Well, we had several days of actual gloom & rain which meant I finally got to wear the layers that were sitting in the back of my closet gathering dust. I took them out, shook them off & was able to create a rainy day look.

the lost abbey

the lost abbey

I love the scent of fresh rain on the asphalt. It's a little musky, but you can smell the crispness in the air -- the dirt being washed away like problems of the past. Just don't step in the puddles or else you'll get those dreaded wet socks that seem to stay soggy for hours at a time.

the lost abbey

the lost abbey

My pretty pink beanie is from my favorite brewery in the world, The Lost Abbey. I like it because it's not obviously a brewery beanie. In fact, it could be confused as some sort of religious symbolism. But if you're local, you'd know.  If you're not local, it just looks cool. :]

california style

california style

For this San Diego fashion look I've got a nice blend of cheap-o basics, vintage statement pieces, & name brand favorites. I found this rainbow cropped top at the thrift store & I adore it. The texture, the zig zags, the vibrant color. It absolutely suits me. The brighter the better!

california style

california fashion blogger

Jacket: Pacsun // Cardigan: c/o LA9 // Top: Vintage // Shorts: Forever 21 // Leggings: Forever 21 // Boots: H&M // Nose ring: c/o Deviant Body Jewelry 

I received the LA9 Vivian Wrap many months ago & it has been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. It's lightweight, easy to style, & cozy as can be. Perfect for rainy day layering. Here in San Diego, we can't even handle the rain. Roads were flooded. Cars were stalled. All courtesy of the May storm that swept through the city.

How do you survive in the rain? Which part of my San Diego rainy day outfit do you like best? :]

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Dude, Where's My Car? aka My Car Got Towed

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dear Towing Company,

Thank you for the heart attack. One of life's best feelings is heading out to your car only to find it missing. I turned around to my friend & said "Dude, where's my car? Didn't I park here?" I hoped my ditzy brain just couldn't recall where I parked. I frantically clicked my car keys, wishing to see the flashing lights signaling an unlocked car.

Nope. My little red Toyota Corolla was nowhere in sight. Apparently I overstayed my welcome in the parking spot I wasn't supposed to park in. I guess that's a lesson learned the hard way. Most lessons are learned the hard way; this is something I learned......the hard way.

Somehow the 3 mile trip from my friend's apartment complex to the towing yard cost a whopping $277. Oh don't worry about it. I'm a billionaire with tons of money & no bills to pay, so I can totally spare it. But you know, thanks for thinking about the little guy. 

dude where's my car

Upon reflection, it would've been a good idea to take some photos. But at the time, the last thing on my mind was to snap a few shots of sad cars in a dark, spooky parking lot. I had plans to meet my friend for dinner & drinks at 8 p.m. The towing yard was closed but luckily I was able to get my car that night. By the time I got my car out of the compound it was about 9:30.

I busted out my license & registration & forked over my credit card to Mike, the lot attendant. I would've preferred to buy something else for $277, but that's just the way the world works. I reluctantly signed the paper & I was on my way.

I definitely needed dinner & drinks by that point. I wasn't about to go home defeated, out nearly $300, & hungry. Even though I'm a billionaire rolling in swimming pools filled with cash, I was thankful my friend bought me a drink.

Anyway, I'm writing this letter to say thanks. Thanks for the heart attack & the lost time & the money down the drain. I love it!

Thanks so much,

Have you ever had the (dis)pleasure of getting your car towed? How much did it cost you? I'm curious about their pricing. How did you feel when you first spotted your missing car?

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Primal Life Organics Paleo Skincare Review

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Boy have I got some loot to share with you! Today's review is for Primal Life Organics Paleo Skincare*, an organic, gluten-free, handcrafted vegan skincare company. Trina was kind enough to credit me $200 worth of product; I chose the items myself & let me tell you, it was difficult to narrow down.

primal life organics

I received the Primal Colors Ultimate Face Package in Cool (that includes one Medium Cool Foundation, one Primal Colors Cheek Stain in Beet Berry, Primal Colors Lid Stain in Grass, a Foundation Kabuki Brush, a Curved Cheek Stain Brush, the Angled Eye Liner Lid Stain Brush, & the Curved Lid Stain Brush). In addition to the makeup package, I received Dirty Mouth™ Toothpowder, Sweet & Salty - Primal Hair Styling Package, & Banished™ Face Toner. Well, let's get reviewing!

primal life organics

The Cool Primal Colors Ultimate Face Package retails for $109. You can buy the items separately, but this gives you the best deal. The brushes are all extremely soft, durable, & easy to work with. Rest easy because they're cruelty free, made from a sustainable bamboo handle, recycled aluminum, & vegan soft synthetic taklon bristles. My go-to is the Foundation Kabuki Brush because it applies evenly, giving the coverage I need. It's incredibly velvety & feels like a cloud grazing my skin.

primal life organics

The instructional video for the Medium Cool Foundation suggests mixing it with water for the best coverage. I choose to leave it as a powder because it works best for my skin type (oily). The foundation powder in Medium Cool gives me light but controlled coverage; it's made with clay to purify & detox the skin. This doesn't cover up blemishes, so if you're looking for more coverage opt for another brand.

primal life organics

I love the rich rosy hue that the Primal Colors Cheek Stain in Beet Berry gives me. Best when used wet to give a crisper, darker shade. If used dry, it pretty much has no color payoff. Beet Berry is a beautiful pink, but it's a bit grainy once applied to the skin.

As for the Primal Colors Lid Stain in Grass, I'd highly recommend using this as a wet formula as well, otherwise it just falls off your eye lid. Grass is a rich, dark, & moody green. 

primal life organics

Banished™ Face Toner comes in a 2 oz spray bottle & retails for $44. This is good for acne prone, aging, & tired skin. The natural ingredients range from witch hazel, lavender, tea tree, & coriander. It's refreshing, but I can't say that I've noticed any change in my skin. 

primal life organics

Next up is the Sweet & Salty Primal Hairstyling Package which includes the Sweet Primal Hairspray & the Salty Sea Salt Texturizing Spray. These are made fresh when ordered. Out of the two I would definitely say that the Salty Sea Salt Texturizing Spray is my holy grail hair product. It gives you those natural beachy waves without having to head to the ocean. The set retails for $35 or they're $19 each.

primal life organics

For something entirely different, try the Dirty Mouth™ Primal Toothpowder in Black Spearmint. I was a little wary but it totally interested me because the toothpowder is made from clay, baking soda, & essential oils. Retails at $12.50 for a 1 ounce jar. This is unlike your average toothpaste. First of all, it's a powder. Second, it doesn't have those added sugars. Third, it makes your teeth black as you use it & I find that super cool.

Primal Life Organics is a unique company with handcrafted, vegan products. Items are expensive & should be considered as an investment. Some products I would not purchase myself, such as the lid stain or cheek stain. However, there were  items I very much enjoyed & may buy them again one day: the Black Spearmint Primal Toothpowder, the Sea Salt Texturizing Spray, & the Foundation Kabuki Brush.

Which of these items sounds like something you'd like? Do you use any vegan, organic skincare products? :]

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* Disclaimer: These products were received complimentary from Primal Life Organics in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

▲ April on Instagram ▲

Monday, May 04, 2015

It's time for April's memories to be remembered via Instagram. I have to be honest & admit that most of April -- Instagram included -- revolved around the Coachella experience. I still have a couple posts to write about it. See? April was mainly about the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Hey, why not follow me on Instagram?! 

stromae, coachella
Watching Stromae perform at Coachella. One of my FAVORITE acts from the weekend.

coachella ferris wheel
Ferris Bueller

drake tears
Drake tears: spotted at the water refill station
New bikinis since it's always summer in San Diego

california style
Experimenting with style

california style
From my Gloomy Day // OOTD

obsessive compulsive cosmetics
A new favorite lipgloss from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Vegetarian friendly sandwich from Swami's

So I suppose April was not 100% Coachella related, but that's mostly what I thought about. My boyfriend & I had severe withdrawals. I guess the only solace is that pre-sale tickets come on sale in a matter of weeks. Yep, that fast. Then you get to countdown until the next Coachella.

I also had some fun try new styles -- mixing patterns, textures, & stepping out of my comfort zone. I liked it. Experimenting & trying new things is an exhilarating feeling. What did you do in April? Which of these Instagram photos is your favorite? :]

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LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo Review

Friday, May 01, 2015

So you've got some grimy, greasy hair. Why not reach for dry shampoo? Duh! Dry shampoo is a huge trend right now seeing as more & more people are becoming aware that washing your hair every day can do more harm than good. That's where LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo comes into the picture.

lush dry shampoo

I was at LUSH & I happened upon it so I decided to make the purchase. This dry shampoo retails at $13.95 for 1.9 ounces. No Drought contains 100% natural ingredients, preservative free, plus it's vegan! One of my favorite aspects is the light citrus fragrance, likely due to the grapefruit & lime essential oil. I use this dry shampoo pretty often; it effectively makes my hair look less gross & suitable for public viewing.

lush dry shampoo

I have dark hair, so with a light hand you won't see any residue in your hair. My boyfriend also likes to use this -- he sported it religiously at Coachella & I thought he looked very handsome. LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo is easy to use, freshens your hair, & gives you peace of mind. No need to shampoo your hair every day! 

lush dry shampoo

The container is a fantastic size & will sustain you for quite some time. I've had this for months & I won't need to repurchase any time soon. The squeeze bottle makes for an easy application. Have you ever used No Drought? What's your favorite dry shampoo? Any recommendations? :]

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