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5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, September 30, 2016

I am so excited it's Friday! I could use a weekend off, that's for sure. Even so, I have a busy weekend ahead. I need to start & finish a couple posts, so that's my priority. I'm also heading to a baby shower. That should be interesting to say the least. I can't remember the last time I went to the baby shower. Wishing you a happy weekend & here are the five things I'm loving right now.


Velvet Boots 

As you know, I'm a gigantic fan of velvet. There's something very alluring about it. Maybe it's the texture itself. It's so soft & luxurious. I knew I needed these velvet Dorothy Perkins boots the first time I saw them. I'm still drooling.


New Candle

Back at it again with another candle. I have absolutely no shame in using up about a candle a week. Fred & I just enjoy scent & overall ambience. Fresh Cut Gardenia is mild but still has the floral essence.


Chocolate Cake

Have you ever seen so many chocolate shavings? This beautiful chocolate birthday cake was for Fred's dad. I kept looking at it & drooling, but I never got the chance to try it. Fred & I left the party early to go see Bloc Party in North Park instead.


Faux Leather Bucket Hat

I spotted this cool couple at KAABOO but was infatuated with this woman's hat (although his hat is pretty cool too). I could seriously see myself rocking a faux leather bucket hat during autumn. It looks a bit hot to wear in the summer.


Pumpkin Spice Latte

Tis the season for endless pumpkin spice lattes. This week was obnoxiously hot, even hotter than most of summer, but that did not stop me from partaking in the seasonal occurrence that is the pumpkin spice latte.


What are you loving right now? Can you make a movie recommendation? :]

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A Dose of Color

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I have this thing with color. Fred & I are currently on the hunt for an apartment, so we've been eyeing furniture & interior design options. I was looking at color swatches & found myself feeling incredibly inspired by how certain colors went together so harmoniously. Due to my newfound feeling of genius, I'm starting a series of photos & their respective color swatches.

Flowering Succulent

Blue Skies

How do I do it? I find photos from my collection that I'm drawn to. I then use the Eyedropper Tool in Photoshop to define particular colors throughout the photograph. Creating these little color swatches gives me so much joy. It's hard to articulate or identify why I get a kick out of this process. 

Strawberry Cake

The Tower

I posted a couple swatches to my Facebook to test the waters. One of my friends said she loved the neutrality of the tower. Another said he liked the soothing tones of the flowering succulent. I'd love for you to let me know which photo is your favorite & which color palette is your favorite. Are they both from the same set or are they different? :]

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How My Passion for Writing Turned Into a Blog & Then a Job

Monday, September 26, 2016

* Disclaimer: This post, How My Passion for Writing Turned Into a Blog & Then a Job, is intended for those 21+ & is sponsored by Wente Vineyards. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. 

Whether I wrote by hand on pen & paper in my little butterfly diary or whether I furiously typed posts on my trusty little laptop, writing has always been a part of my life. I first found writing in fifth grade. My best friend & I had matching journals, all set with a lock & key. We'd get together, write for a bit, then read excerpts from our journals.


My entries at the time weren't very profound. It always had something to do with what I did that day or what I ate. I complained that one of my friends was being mean to me, so she was no longer a part of my secret friend club. I mean, it was riveting stuff.


I moved from diary to diary, until I eventually joined a journalism class my junior year of high school. I was drawn to the art & ended up as editor-in-chief the next year. I decided to major in journalism, then came my blog, & I suppose the rest is history. I've had my blog for five years!


It's safe to say that writing has been a constant passion in my life. Even my humble blog began as a space on the Internet where I could write my poems & short stories. If you go back far enough you'll see my series of haikus & random stories about love & loss & all that good stuff.


Passion & inspiration go hand-in-hand, making wine the perfect complement to it all. The three make a harmonious blend. As I write this very post, I'm sipping on a glass of Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon from Wente Vineyards.


In fact, Wente Vineyards is a result of five generations of one family's passion for wine. Their video explains more about the passion behind the Wente winemaking. With hints of ripe black cherry & plum, & undertones of coffee & spice, this wine pairs perfectly with an afternoon of writing, typing, photographing, & being creative.


As an adult with a business & a blog, writing is still the number one passion in my life. My blog is my livelihood. I wish everyone could find their ambition in life, that thing that inspires them endlessly & motivates them to move forward.

Find & fuel your passion with free shipping on Wente wines. Use code: JRNYSHIP1

I want to know: What inspires you? Leave me a comment! :]

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

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday is always such a joyful day. The feeling can be traced all the way back to my school days. After five long days of seemingly endless learning, assignments, & homework, Friday was always a momentous moment — an achievement. Instead of school, now it's social media & blogging, but the idea is the same. Friday is the mark of an accomplishment. We did it! Happy Friday! Here are the five things I'm loving right now — farmers market edition!


Pumpkins

Well it's officially autumn. Hooray! This is my favorite season in California. Since it's fall, I obviously had to buy some mini pumpkins to add a touch of festivity to the house. I got two of these pretty white pumpkins & two orange ones.


Thai Tea

What a yummy little treat. Thai tea is strongly brewed black tea, often spiced with cardamom, anise, etc. The brew is sweetened with sugar & condensed milk, making the most beautiful swirls as everything blends together. If you like masala chai, you may enjoy this too.


Herbs

I love me some herbs. I was at the farmers market & simply had to buy a dill plant (not pictured). Although I can't recall the exact price, it was incredibly affordable. I adore dill so much, so I couldn't survive without it any longer. It's such a fragrant, approachable herb.


Veggies

I bought some veggies from the farmers market & vowed to purchase more of my produce from there. Everything was incredibly fresh, like the farmers had literally picked everything prior to coming to the market & immediately plopped it on the table. The kale even had a little caterpillar on it. That's fresh alright!


Fruit & Flowers

Flowers & fruit make for a remarkable combination, don't they? I swear these strawberries were redder & more sweet than anything I've had before. It was like eating pure sugar. I bought a bouquet of flowers for $5 too. Can't beat that price.

Have you had thai tea before? What's your favorite herb? What are you loving right now? :]

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7 Things Brands Look for Before Working with a Blogger

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

As a social media coordinator & marketer as well as a lifestyle blogger, I've done my fair share of blog writing, publicity, press, events, & pretty much everything under the social media sun. I've been on both the giving & receiving end of social media marketing, so I have first-hand perspective on what brands look for before working with a blogger.




I've managed social channels for brands who focus on timeshares, sewing & embroidery designs, vegan energy bars, & more. Blogger outreach is the ideal way to get brands in touch with modern influencers. Make sure your blog is on a brand's radar. If you want to receive more inquiries from brands, read up on these seven things brands look for before working with a blogger.


Other posts from my social media series:



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1. Quality Content & Photography

Before a brand even gets around to reaching out to you, we scour your blog to look at your content, your writing, & your photography. We browse your content & photos to judge if a possible brand collaboration would work. We want good spelling & grammar. We want clear & interesting photos. We want to see your personality shine through your words & content. We view your past posts as a reflection of what a collaboration would look like.

2. Social Media Following

We actively look at all of your social media channels to determine if your blog is a good fit for us. After all, we are providing a service, product, or financial compensation to you & your service is exposure, website clicks, & potential sales for us. You don't have to have an enormous social media following. Count up your followers on all your social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. My tip: sometimes it's more powerful to say, "I have 3,000+ followers across my social media channels," rather than "I have 907 Facebook followers, 750 Twitter followers, 824 Instagram followers, 500 Tumblr followers, etc."

3. Activity on Social Media Channels

What good is a social media following if you never Tweet, update, or post? We're looking to see if you're active on social media channels by updating relevant & regular information to what we're selling. For example, a vegetarian jerky brand reached out to me because I Tweeted several times about being vegetarian.

4. Engaged Readers

Engagement is extremely important! You can have a huge social media following but no engagement. You're more valuable to us if you have 100 daily views & 2 clicks to our website versus 10,000 daily views & 2 clicks. If you're lacking in followers, your engagement level may save you. If you have both a decent social media following & engagement that makes a wonderful mixture.

5. Demographics

All the above are great & everything, but are your readers who we are targeting? Your blog readers, their age, their location, & their habits, affect whether or not our brand is a good match for your blog. If we're selling candy bars but your blog focuses on healthy recipes, we're probably not a good pair. If you're a single woman in your early 20s, you may not be a good fit for our family-oriented timeshare rentals.

6. Reliability

Did you know that when brands send free stuff or pay for a sponsored post, that costs money? It usually comes from a yearly or quarterly budget set aside specifically for marketing, social media, or influencer outreach. Blogger outreach is costly & brands only have a certain amount of budget & inventory to give out, so we want to ensure that you will be a reliable blogger should we decide to work with you. How long does it take you to respond to emails? How often do you update your blog? What's your turnaround time for collaborative or sponsored posts? Do you have past examples?

7. Media Kit, About Me, or Sponsor Page

After we determine that everything about your blog is a good match for us, we look at your media kit, about me page, &/or sponsor page to find out more about you. We're trying to find your contact information, other brands you've worked with, your page statistics, & any readily available information. This is the final touch before we gather all the content we've accrued & either take it to a superior for approval or begin reaching out to you.

You heard it from me everybody! This is a step-by-step guide in what brands look for before working with a blogger or pursuing blogger outreach. It's a tedious & time intensive process to find the perfect match for the brand, but if we are a good team it's well worth it.

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Catch up on previous posts from my social media series:
How To Create Authentic Social Brand Mentions + Why They're Important

Were these tips useful? Let me know if you have any other questions! :]

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Fall Prep // OOTD

Monday, September 19, 2016

According to the calendar, fall is approaching. In San Diego, it's nearly time to bust out your lovely layers, your cool cardigans, your stunning scarves — all those wonderful items of clothing that rarely get enough showtime in the city of sunshine.

Sunglasses: O by Oscar de la Renta (similar) // Top: Thrifted (similar) // Dress: H&M (similar) // Jacket: Sammydress* (exact) // Purse: Givenchy (similar) // Shoes: Nine West (similar)

I must admit this summer has been pretty mild compared to the last couple of years. It was doable, approachable. It was warm, sometimes hot, but never beyond bearing. What a beautiful place called come home!


In preparation for fall, I opted for this light denim jacket with zig zag detail. It has enough character, enough pizzazz to stand alone. Yet it's not too outlandish to wear with something bold or colorful. I styled it with some black & grey basics so the beautiful detailing could stand out.


If you remember from this post, I mentioned that I got a vintage velvet Givenchy purse from a consignment store in Palm Springs. This outfit was my first time wearing it out & I absolutely loved it. The velvet is a small, relatively unnoticeable detail, but one I adore.


The Sammydress jacket will be perfect for those chilly autumn evenings. It's relatively thin but thick enough that the wind won't go through it. I'm so excited for pumpkins & pumpkin spice lattes & all things allspice & crispy fallen leaves & everything that makes fall such a remarkable time of year.


The seasonal transition in San Diego is relatively minimal, but the preparation & anticipation is half the fun. I look forward to fully soaking in all the changes around me, those gloomier early mornings & those crisper afternoon walks.

Sunglasses: O by Oscar de la Renta (similar) // Top: Thrifted (similar) // Dress: H&M (similar) // Jacket: Sammydress* (exact) // Purse: Givenchy (similar) // Shoes: Nine West (similar)
I just look forward to having days where wearing a layer, even if it's then, is appropriate. Thank you Southern California for supplying 70°F weather all year long. I guess I shouldn't really complain, but it's genuinely Nice to have a change. Layers I'm coming for you!

What's your favorite part about autumn? Do you like this outfit? :]

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* Disclaimer: I received the denim jacket from Sammydress. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, September 16, 2016

What a joyous day. Friday is here again! Weekends off are always welcome. It's nice to have a moment to recuperate at the end of a hectic, whirlwind of a week. I'm excited to head to KAABOO for the second year in a row. You can read about it below along with the other four things I'm loving right now!


Tiny Avocado

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how adorable this little avocado is? Isn't it precious?! It didn't taste as good as I had hoped. I probably should've waited a couple more days for it to ripen a bit more. At least the photos last longer than the taste in my mouth!


KAABOO 

If you're reading this right now, there's a good chance I'm at KAABOO, a three day festival based in Del Mar. I'm excited to get a good dose of music (& comedy) because my last festival was Coachella in April. I'm excited to see Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Rooney, Sarah Silverman, & a few others.


Gel Pens

I bought 50 gel pens a few weeks ago & have absolutely no regrets. Not only are they a blast from the past but they make me want to write anything & everything down so I can try all the colors. They also inspire me to doodle. 


Manoushe Zaatar 

Fred & I went to a Lebanese restaurant for lunch & ordered manoushe zaatar as an appetizer. It's essentially Lebanese flatbread or pita bread topped with thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, sea salt, & olive oil. Neither of us had ever had it before, but we were both blown away.


Holy Hell

Since Fred & I finished watching Alias last week, we've opted for films instead. We saw a documentary called Holy Hell about an ex-cult member in California. He opens up about his past, showing actual video footage from his years in the cult. Other former members talk about their experience. After 20 years in the organization, most weren't even aware they were in a cult. Super interesting film.

How was your week? What are you loving right now? :]

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Welcoming Autumn with California Fruit Wine Co.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It was a warm but windy afternoon. The clouds looked like giant tufts of cotton candy slowly making their way across the azure skies. Fred played The Drums from his iPhone as I sat on a lawn chair overlooking the patio, leisurely chewing on an olive. It was the perfect balance — celebrating the end of summer while welcoming autumn.

california fruit wine

We sat there casually sipping on our Pomegranate Wine from California Fruit Wine Co.* (CFWCO). I added a few blueberries into the glass to complement the color & flavor. If you recall from this post, I was excited about becoming a founding member for their new Online Wine Club, a seasonally curated wine box that comes once a month. Don't mind if I do.

california fruit wine

Club members can choose between the two wine box ($27) or the four wine box ($45). I received the four wine box. Because wine not? Although that's the most overused wine joke in the entire universe, I'm sorry I had to say it.

california fruit wine

CFWCO wines are 100% natural. No artificial flavors. No added colors. The flavor & color of each wine comes directly from the fruit itself, which is something I can wholeheartedly appreciate. Despite the fruitiness, these are not dessert wines.

california fruit wine

The Pomegranate Wine is tart & fruity. It almost tastes like a muted fruit juice or a blend of actual genuine pomegranate juice mixed with wine. The flavors are smooth, made straight from pomegranates.

california fruit wine

Pineapple Wine tasted just about as delightful as I anticipated. The pineapple is fragrant, very evident, & sweet. It basically tastes like pineapple juice, so this is something to keep in mind whilst drinking. This makes the perfect mixer for a cocktail, just saying.

california fruit wine

As a seasonal treat, the Cranberry Wine is absolutely perfect for autumn. It has a bold zest & crisp bitterness. It tastes like a true cranberry juice & would make a wonderful addition to any holiday dinner.

california fruit wine

Yum! This Pumpkin Spice Wine is one of the most authentic pumpkin tasting drinks I've ever had. It tastes like the actual fruit — pumpkin— not some pumpkin flavored, pumpkin-esque concoction. It had the mildest flavor of the four wines I tried.

california fruit wine

I'd easily purchase the two wine box because these genuinely taste amazing. You can skip any month or cancel if you don't need new wine, but let's face it, you will. Become a founding member yourself & use promo code carmen to receive free shipping on your first 2-Bottle Wine Club purchase. Overall, I had a stellar experience with @cfwco & the #fruitwinenation

 Which wine flavor sounds best to you? Would you try a wine club like CFWCO? :]


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* Disclaimer: California Fruit Wine Co. provided product as PR samples. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Ways to Kickstart Your Morning

Monday, September 12, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #youtheoryturmeric #CollectiveBias

turmeric supplement

I always thought of myself as a night owl. I'd have energy in the evening, so I stayed up late. I'd be tired come morning, would have energy at night, & the circle continued. But the key to a bright & early morning begins the night before. Plain & simple. Take a look into my updated routine to see just how I made the switch from full-fledged night owl to rookie early bird. These are my five ways to kickstart your morning!

turmeric supplement

1. Take Your Supplements

I take one multi-vitamin & two youtheory® Turmeric Extra Strength 120 Capsules every night after dinner. Taking my supplements has simply become a part of my routine. You can get youtheory turmeric capsules at Costco, along with pretty much anything else you could possibly need. Find the capsules by the vitamins & supplements section near the pharmacy.

turmeric supplement

Be on the lookout for their new packaging & formula. The old youtheory turmeric capsule formula had 450mg turmeric per three tablets, but the new formula has 1,000mg turmeric per two capsules! Less is more, right? It's basically three times the amount of turmeric per capsule!

turmeric supplement

The new youtheory turmeric packaging shows off the upgraded formulation as well as a more orange overall look. I like to take turmeric because it can help support a healthy inflammation response, healthy skin, healthy joints, while providing antioxidant properties. These vegan capsules are hypoallergenic, made without gluten ingredients, tasteless, & go down easy with a sip of water.

morning alarm

2. Get A Good Night's Sleep

This step is vital. Every step after is essentially pointless if you don't have a good night's sleep. Sleep is essential to your overall health & well-being. No amount of caffeine will ever do everything that sleep does to heal & repair your body. If you're a night owl, set your alarm & go to bed. It's simple. Get eight hours of sleep.

lemon water

3. Drink Water

You got your solid eight hours of sleep, your alarm went off, & now you're up! Congrats! It gets easier from here, believe me. Rejuvenate yourself from the inside out with a tall glass of cold water. Add lemon or fruit if you desire, but the cold water is there to invigorate your metabolism & hydrate your body. I added a couple slices of orange.

oatmeal

4. Eat Breakfast

Empower yourself with energy in the form of breakfast. Food has calories & calories are units of energy & you need energy to function throughout your morning. Here are my go-to breakfasts for a satisfying & wholesome meal: avocado toast with red chili flakes, yogurt with chia & some cereal, or oatmeal topped with chia seed, flax seed, allspice, & a bit of fruit.

turmeric supplement

5. Have "Me Time" 

Now that you're all pumped up & your morning is well on its way, take any amount of time to spend with yourself. I find that I'm more productive, happy, & motivated when I take a moment to enrich my own life with something. Mornings are usually pretty hectic, so I'm not spending an hour to casually read a book. I like to take 15 minutes to flip through a magazine, do some stretching, search for new music, or write down my to do list.

Have you ever tried youtheory turmeric before? How do you kickstart your morning? :]

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* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, September 09, 2016

Wishing everyone a happy Friday! I went to the gym this week & that deserves a pat on the back. I did some reading. I did some stretching. It felt good simply to be able to spend some time alone & take care of myself. As if that wasn't enough, here are five more things I'm loving right now!

whiskey candle

Candles

Candles are my jam. Come on, you know this. I happened upon a variety of drink scented ones & obviously had to give it a go. There were Gin, Whiskey, & Bourbon scents. I opted for Whiskey simply because it smelled the best. It has a sweet honey scent to it.


Fall Transition 

I love the slow, subtle transition to autumn here in sunny Southern California. At the moment it's just a bit cloudy, but I'll take it. I thoroughly enjoy those gloomy days & grasp onto them whenever I can get them. 


Alias

Fred & I just finished watching Alias, which is good timing because Netflix is taking it off on September 25. We truly loved this show with all its crazy twists & turns (& a young Bradley Cooper). It was well written & captivating. The story line always kept things interesting, & it was cool to watch the character development as the seasons progressed. Highly recommend! 


French Toast

It's a joy to have extra time to make a nice breakfast, something other than oatmeal or cereal. I made a stack of thick French toast to share with Fred, layering blueberries & a drizzle of pure maple syrup between each piece. It was just magnificent. He sipped on some tea while I drank a homemade mocha.


Snapchat Filters

Shoutout to Snapchat filters because they totally make me look awesome! I'm loving this butterfly filter because of its tendency to make me look 100 times better. It's smoothes the skin, gives me a rosy glow, makes me look more awake. Sounds pretty legit, right?

How was your week? What are you loving right now? :]

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