October 2016 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


International Candies & Snacks: MunchPak Subscription Box Review

Monday, October 31, 2016

If there's anything I love more than munchies, it's having munchies delivered to right to my door. How great is that? As a subscription box lover & international snack snob, I thought MunchPak would be a great box to try out. MunchPak sends you snacks & candies from all over the globe.



Boxes start at $9.95 & increase in size & price. You can customize the frequency from once a week, every two weeks, or once a month. If you want the smallest package delivered only once a month, you can do it. If you want the biggest size delivered each week, you've got it. I like that you can modify the size & frequency to make it work for you. Fred & I opted for the medium size ($19.95) every two weeks.


My 4 Box Rule

When it comes to subscription boxes, I believe in the four box rule — a rule I made up myself. Here's how it works: first box is purely trying it out. The second box gives you a better feel for products. The third box means you're becoming pretty well-seasoned with the box & have a general idea of the items included. That fourth box is the final straw to help you decide to cancel or continue the box. Due to the sheer number of subscription boxes out there, I normally unsubscribe after four boxes & try something new.


Taste Test

Take a look at my box:

Glico Pretz Pizza Flavor Pretzels - Definitely an odd flavor, but certainly worth a shot at least once. Crunchy, salty, slightly tomatoey. Country of origin: Thailand

Glico Baked Wheat Biscuit - These petite vanilla cookies are tasty & a perfect match for a cup of tea. Country of origin: Japan

Torku Favorimo Hazelnut Cream Biscuit Kremlin - This sandwich cookie is filled with hazelnut, a delicious option. Country of origin: Turkey

Bebeto Wacky Sticks Strawberry Flavor - These partially sour, partially sweet strawberry sticks were strange. The middle section had the texture of gum. Country of origin: Turkey

Torku Enjoy Kek Orange - Yum! This beautiful blend of chocolate & orange sponge cake was absolutely divine. Unfortunately, it was smashed upon arrival. Country of origin: Turkey

Jolly Pong Corn & Wheat Snack - These slightly sweetened crispy wheat snacks reminded me of  Honey Smacks, the cereal with the frog on itCountry of origin: South Korea

Bebeto Peach Rings - You can't go wrong with peach rings. Ever. However, this was the second MunchPak I received with the peach rings; I'd prefer variety to something I've tried already. Country of origin: Turkey

Morinaga Hi-Chew Suppai Chew - Yellow lemon flavored chews with a slight tang. Country of origin: Japan

Covered Bridge Kettle Style Potato Chips Sweet And Spicy Jalapeno Flavor - Delicious, moderately spicy chips. I love chips & crisps of all flavors & this is no exception. However, I received this in a prior box. Country of origin: Canada

Paskesz Ooh Chews Impulse - Although these are tasty, I received this in a prior box as well. Country of origin: Brazil



So yes, I did find some snacks that I truly enjoyed & would like to repurchase, but the other half of the snacks were underwhelming, repeats, or something I wouldn't normally buy myself. Even so, MunchPak is absolutely worth a shot. You just might find something you adore, or it might inspire you to travel.

Other Subscription Box Posts:

What's your favorite subscription box (food or not)? What do you think of MunchPak?  :]

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Traveling with DeVita Natural Skin Care

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The skin is the largest organ in the body, so you better take care of it the best you can. I absolutely know I could've been more diligent about using SPF & sunscreen throughout my childhood. I certainly should have moisturized more often. It's never too late to begin using eye cream either. Those little details can make all the difference.


I always seem to cut corners or forget something when traveling, so I was pretty excited when DeVita Natural Skin Care* gifted me their DeVita Deluxe Travel Kit as well as their Prime Collective makeup primer to try out. The kit is absolutely perfect for when you're on the go because it includes all your daily essentials in travel sizes. The set comes with nine products, including a cleanser, two toners, facial scrub, eye cream, SPF 30 moisturizer, a couple serums, & more.


I particularly liked the Aloe Vera Moisture Cleanser because of its gentle moisturizing properties. Even after washing my face, my skin felt hydrated, which is essential during those drier months. The Moroccan Rose Facial Toner & Cool Cucumber Facial Toner are equally pleasant. You can use both as a initial toner or as makeup setting spray.



I absolutely love the Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30! It's fantastic for my face because it protects my skin but doesn't leave me feeling like a shiny greaseball. It rubs in easily, which is not my usual experience with all natural sunscreens.



The Prime Corrective smoothes my skin to simplify the makeup process. The opening was a tad large, so be sure to squeeze carefully when applying the product. Overall, the travel kit is ideal if you're looking for a skincare set for your next trip. If you're not look for many products, you can opt for any of the DeVita full size products.

Have you tried DeVita Natural Skin Care or any other natural skin care brand? :]
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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from DeVita Natural Skin Care as PR samples. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

Packing for Portland!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hooray! I'm going on vacation to Portland, Oregon! I firmly believe in the importance of taking a break from your daily stresses, from work, & from your general routine. Mix it up & live a little! That's what I'm telling myself at least.

Will tasks pile up? Probably. Will emails start to add up? Definitely. Will the joy of going on vacation overpower any possible negative? YES.

Fred & I are heading to Portland mid-November. We booked our flights & made some accommodation reservations & now we're just  planning out the rest. We looked into renting a car but after consulting with my cousin who lived in Portland, he recommended taking public transportation because it was just as effective & more cost efficient.

I'm particularly excited because Portland gets wet & rainy, especially in November, which is said to be their second most rainy month of the entire year. That in mind, I definitely have some strategic packing to do seeing as rain is an extreme rarity here in San Diego. I'm not used to cold temperatures as a San Diego blogger! Well, back to packing & planning!

Do you have any recommendations on what to do, see, eat, drink, experience in Portland? :]

The Pros & Cons of KAABOO Del Mar

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Music festivals are totally my jam. I've covered multiple here on the blog & have attended even more that I never wrote about. I went to KAABOO last year as press & was able to make a second appearance for this year's festivities. If you're interested in attending KAABOO 2018 read through this post to see if it's a good fit for you.

* Disclaimer: KAABOO provided me with a complimentary ticket. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

kaaboo del mar

The Pros

fall out boy

rooney band

Range of Music

No matter your age or music preference, KAABOO included a range of artists such as Fall Out Boy, Aerosmith, The Chainsmokers, Lenny Kravitz, Rooney, Steve Aoki, & many more. I witnessed teens jamming out to Aerosmith & overheard a gentleman in his 60s tell his companion, "Flo Rida is good. I like this song!"

swell coffee

Variety of Food

Sumptuous delicacies. Top local restaurants & chefs. Craft beer. Exclusive wineries. Whether you were at the Palate Stage or checking out the Rock'n Chef Competition, the options were mouthwatering. Yes, I  bought multiple $7 lattes for no reason other than it tasted delicious & I needed caffeine to make it through the next set.

homer simpson art


Music is art itself, but I love the addition of paintings, sculptures, murals, dancers, & performance artists. KAABOO is basically a massive art gallery in that sense. View art. Buy art. Create art. Fred even participated & drew Homer Simpson on the free for all wall.

kettle jalapeno

Free Stuff

Just like last year, KAABOO was chock-full of complimentary samples, mostly food & little munchies. Music festival grub comes at high prices, so it's nice to have some free options to supplement yourself on.

beach sunset


The festival is hosted at the Del Mar Fairgrounds & Racetrack, which is iconic to Del Mar itself. I go to the Del Mar Fair every summer, so it's a joy being able to visit during a different time of the year. Not to mention, Del Mar is an utterly gorgeous place to be. 

The Cons

craft beer


Festivals in general thrive off of exorbitant prices & you have to take that into account. Not only are you purchasing tickets, but you should also factor in travel, parking, food, drinks, & any other necessary prepping. Beers cost upward of $12 for a cup, while I heard that liquor drinks were $20.

festival audience


The lines this year were noticeably worse compared to 2015. Bathroom lines for women were uncomfortably long. Lines for the Humor Me stage were literally hours long. Saturday was especially terrible.

kaaboo del mar

Car & Foot Traffic

Both car & foot traffic were big issues this year. There was a fracas on Saturday in which four people were arrested & police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. At the end of the evening, some patrons waited over two hours to get out of the parking lot.

kaaboo del mar

Final Thoughts

Truthfully, I preferred my 2015 KAABOO experience. However, given the opportunity, I would absolutely revisit KAABOO in 2017. It's a new festival & it comes with growing pains. I believe KAABOO has the chance to grow & get better, & you can't do that if you didn't make some mistakes.

* Disclaimer: KAABOO provided me with a complimentary ticket. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

Patchwork Stripes // OOTD

Monday, October 24, 2016

If you truly look & you truly believe, you just might find tidbits of fall in San Diego. It's not an easy feat. It's more like a scavenger hunt. If you keep your eyes open & constantly alert, you may spot some multicolored fallen leaves. 

patchwork stripes

patchwork stripes
Dress: Foxcroft Collection* (exact) // Shoes: Nina (similar) // Purse: Givenchy (similar) // Necklaces: Ralph Lauren (similar), Forever 21 (similar) // Earrings: Unknown (similar) // Sunglasses: O by Oscar de la Renta (similar

You'll see more seasonal produce at the farmers market like pumpkins, Brussels sprouts, persimmons, & grapes. You might catch me sipping on a hot pumpkin spiced latte even though it's 80°F outside. You may even have a few days with temperatures under 60°F.

patchwork stripes

Because of the moderate nature of fall, it's vital to have a versatile wardrobe. This Patchwork Stripe Dress from Foxcroft Collection* is already one of my favorite dresses for the season. I've worn it to a business meeting, drinks with my girlfriend, date night with Fred, & out & about for Sunday errands. 

patchwork stripes

patchwork stripes

I usually don't rave on about a dress but I am 100% pleased. The dress is buttery soft & completely comfortable. The small slit & the belt leave me feeling slightly sexy but still professional. This is a dress that I can honestly say I feel confident & powerful in, & that's exactly how clothes should make you feel. 

patchwork stripes

As a human being with Internet access (aka information at your fingertips, perfectly curated Instagram feeds, millions of online resources, magazines, & blogs to browse), it's always nice to feel confident in yourself. 

patchwork stripes

bow heels

That's why I said "the hell with it." I shut down the computer, stopped hacking away at the post I was working on, & begged Fred to venture outside with me. We traveled to the park & savored the glory of the nature around us. The leaves. The plants. The air. The sun.

patchwork stripes

It's exhilarating to have moments like that, where you simply shake things up a bit, switch gears, & temporarily quit the World Wide Web. Speaking of switching things up; fun fact: these heels are from my junior prom from about nine years ago. It was the very first time I danced with Fred. It was the first time I wore them since that fateful night.

What do you think of this outfit? How is your season going? :]

* Disclaimer: Foxcroft Collection provided the Patchwork Stripe Dress as PR samples. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hi friends! I'm going to be real & tell it like it is: I am so freaking tired right now. I'm sipping on a hot cup of Earl Grey tea trying to keep my eyes open. I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm greatly looking forward to the weekend. Weekends have so much potential. Aside from the weekend, here's what I'm loving right now!

horchata coffee

Horchata Iced Coffee

Autumn has been pretty wishy washy in San Diego. One day it's kind of chilly. The next day it's 90°F. Although I haven't been able to wear any layers, I did enjoy a horchata ice coffee. Mexican Horchata is traditionally made with white rice, cinnamon, sugar, & condensed milk. Essentially, it's superb.

breakfast in bed

Breakfast in Bed

I was feeling particularly down, & Fred was kind enough to surprise me with breakfast in bed. At the time it was about noon, so technically you could call it breakfast for lunch in bed. Either way, it was such a sweet surprise & delicious to boot.

Sex & the City

Fred & I are watching Sex & the City. I've seen the series before, but this is Fred's first go. He says he enjoys the writing, the characters, & the acting. It's pretty cool to be able to watch one of your favorite shows & know your boyfriend doesn't hate it.

pine needle candle

Pine Candle

Although this claims to be a Christmas scented candle, I've been using my pine essential oil for months now. Needless to say, I like pine at anytime. This was the only scent I liked out of any of the seasonal candles. Pumpkin candles are not for me.

fresh bread

Fresh Bread

We need fresh bread in our lives. Not the stuff that you buy at the grocery store. I'm talking about the bread you bake yourself (let's be real, that's a best case scenario) or the one you buy on a crisp Saturday morning at the farmers market. More of that bread please.

What are you loving right now? :]

Must Have Vests For Autumn & Winter Layering

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It doesn't get super cold here in San Diego, so vests are a vital part of fall & winter layering. Snow is nonexistent. Rainy days are welcomed with open arms & often danced in. You might catch yourself heading to the beach a couple times or at least the pool. 

Due to the moderate temperatures here, I chose the best Andrew Marc* vests to wear throughout the cooler seasons! If you, like me, find yourself drooling over the latest autumn layers, but know that some of them may not work for your climate, these are for you!

* Disclaimer: This post, Must Have Vests For Autumn & Winter Layering, is sponsored by Andrew Marc. 

The dark olive Sam vest is pretty much the only thing you need for autumn & winter. Remove the faux fur trim & you could even wear it through spring. I love the originally designed patches! They're so rad, especially the lipstick one. 

The whiskey cream Sasha vest is reversible! One side is faux fur & the other is faux suede. Each side features two pockets to boot. It looks warm & cozy, but still something you could wear without overheating. I'd love to take this on my trip to Portland next month!

The black natural Sedona vest again features faux suede & soft faux fur. The oversized shawl collar adds drama & spunk. Keep your hands warm in the side pockets as you smile thinking about how fantastic you look right now.

The entire Andrew Marc collection is high-end, fresh, detailed, & fun with a range of both men's & women's outerwear. My favorite is still the Sam vest with its energetic & refreshing allure. I hope you have a wonderful fall filled with plenty of layering.

Which vest is your favorite? :]

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

Product Empties: Face & Body

Monday, October 17, 2016

It feels so good to use up products, like you actually accomplished something. "No, I didn't exercise, eat well, get out of the house, or move except for finishing up this face wash. I'm still productive, right?" That has to count for something! Anyhoo, this lot of random empties had been accumulating under the bathroom sink for months on end, so I'm glad I indeed accomplished something. In case you missed them, check out my last empties posts: here & here.

The Good Things Multi-Tasking Micellar Water was affordable & relatively effective. It was my first micellar water purchase. Can you believe it? You can read my full review here. I've been loving Essence mascaras ever since my trip to Europe last summer. Currently using this one. Essence Get BIG! Lashes Volume Curl Mascara definitely added volume to my lashes.

I used the Primal Life Organics Primal Colors Foundation (similar) as a powder rather than its suggested wet form. As someone with oily skin, the powder helped me look less shiny. Read my review here. The Acure Day Cream was a favorite of both mine & Fred's. Read more about it here.

I raved about the Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Facial Milk Foaming Cleanser (similar) because it was such a gem. The scent & foam were so alluring. Full review here. We took the Lush Dirty Body Spray to Coachella two years in a row & it was a lifesaver. Read more here.

What do you think of these empties? What was your last empty product? :]

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Veggie Meal Alert! Thrill Grill in Haarlem, Netherlands

Friday, October 14, 2016

If you find yourself in the quaint town of Haarlem, Netherlands & if you're looking for a tasty vegetarian meal, go for Thrill Grill. I have to admit there weren't any vegetarian options save for this exact meal, but it was worth it. Thrill Grill is a must-visit place if you want a unique veggie-friendly dish in Haarlem.

thrill grill

thrill grill

I still dream about the Veggie Falafel Thriller, made with homemade falafel, tomato, pickled cucumber, red onion, & bell pepper hummus served on a toasted organic bun. It was so hearty, filling, & huge. It's not your average falafel either; it's incomparable to any type of falafel I've ever had. Pure delight for vegetarians & non-veggies alike.

thrill grill

thrill grill

Ask for Thrill Grill's herb fries, made with homemade, fresh-cut fries & mixed with tarragon & chervil, a relative to parsley. Pure greasy perfection that's best washed down with a glass of Heineken, the famous pale lager beer brewed in the nearby city of Amsterdam. I tell you what, Heineken tastes best when you drink it locally.

thrill grill

Sit outside. You won't regret the marvelous views & the immense amount of people-watching potential. Haarlem has a lot of character with its cobblestone streets, gabled houses, & narrow alleys. Thrill Grill is centrally located in the market square with a perfect glimpse of the Grote of St. Bavokerk, an important landmark & church within Haarlem.

thrill grill

thrill grill

My Thrill Grill falafel burger remains one of the top meals during my month-long trip to Europe last year. Perhaps it was the superb taste or even the inspiring views, but the verdict is the same: amazing. Homemade, home cut fries paired with a non-conventional burger & a cold glass of Heineken mesh together to create a pleasant & harmonious meal. Ah, the memories.

How does Thrill Grill sound to you? :]

You may find Thrill Grill:
Oude Groenmarkt 26, 2011 HL
Haarlem, Netherlands
+31 23 202 4047

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You are Magic || A poem

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love can last a lifetime.
Love can hurt a lifetime.
Love is love,
& that is that.
Love can open your heart
or crush your soul;
it depends on who you love.
There are many ways to love,
just as many as there are people.
We spend our days searching,
yearning for that missing piece.
Sometimes you complete the puzzle
but end up losing more.
But try & try & try again,
because one day it's worth it.
One day it's worth the pain,
& all the trouble,
those late nights alone.
One day your heart will feel whole
because you never ever knew
this feeling
this love
this complex system
ever existed.
Love is just like magic.
Some always believed in it,
but some needed to experience it
before they truly understood.
I never knew love until I knew you.
You are magic.

Poem by Carmen Varner

What does love mean to you? What was your first experience being in love like? :]

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5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, October 07, 2016

Halloween is on its way, so I've taken the opportunity to get in the spirit of this spooky month. I already knocked out a few horror/thriller films including Carrie, Rosemary's Baby, & Final Destination. There are many more on the list, so I might as well get to it. Here are five things I'm loving right now, aside from horror films.

Del Mar Sunsets

I love catching a stellar sunset. It's inspiring to see the pastels painted across the sky, swirling around until everything goes dark. I caught this stunning sunset in Del Mar, California. Looks like a postcard for California.

Baby Shower

We went to Fred's cousin's baby shower last week & it was pretty fun. There was buffet of Mexican food made by Fred's mom herself. We said congratulations to the happy couple & reminisced about when the four of us lived together a couple years back. Times have certainly changed.

Pesto Pizza 

Yo, have you ever had pesto pizza before? Because that is some delicious stuff. I tried a slice from Flippin' Pizza & it was so scrumptious. The slices are gargantuan to boot. One slice & you're pretty much good to go, but you should have a second one for good measure. 

Cozy Clothes

With autumn officially here, there's nothing better than snuggling up in your most cozy clothes. I am truly & genuinely obsessed with this fleece wrap sweater because it feels like a blanket wrapped around me. So good.

Clueless Pen

Doesn't this remind you of the fluffy pen Cher used in Clueless? I was instantly inspired when I saw it & snapped a quick photo. It's kind of small, so I'm pretty sure it's meant for children. A girl can dream, right?

Have you started watching any Halloween movies? What are you loving? :]
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