March 2017 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


5 Steps to the Perfect Date Night

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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

Never underestimate the power of a date. Fred & I hop all over the place at any given time, so we rely on dates to have that one-on-one time. It allows us to spend some quality time together to cook, chat, laugh, sip on some wine, & just be together. If you're looking for an affordable date idea, take a look at how Fred & I spent our Saturday.

1. Pick a Day

The first step to a successful date is to pick a day that works for the both of you. No business, no other friends, no distractions. Dedicate this time to each other. Pick a day, schedule it in your calendar, & make time for the date.

2. Plan Your Meal

We grabbed everything needed for our date at Grocery Outlet. We visit the store at least once a week, scouring everything aisle by aisle. No joke. Grocery Outlet is one of my favorite grocery stores because I can save money & still eat healthy. Their NOSH section (stands for Natural, Organic, Specialty, Healthy) has so many great options like honey roasted chickpeas, mushroom pasta, & organic, fair trade chocolate!

3. Pick Your Wine 

Fred & I normally lean toward beer, but when it comes to date night we always opt for wine. It simply sets the mood. Thanks to the grocery bargains at Grocery Outlet, we bought wine to last for at least a couple date nights. Pull Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles, Indigo Eyes Cab, & Villa Marchesi Prosecco cost $21. Last time we went out for date night our wine cost $7 per glass per person. We only had one bottle of wine for our date, which cost $5.99. Score!

4. Time to Cook

Honestly, half the fun of date night is the meal preparation & cooking. We put the mushroom pasta on to boil. Fred handled the asparagus while I cooked the vegetarian-friendly steak. We talked about our Paris to do lists. We strategized about what movie to watch later in the evening. We compared cooking methods. Date night allows us to catch up, laugh, put on a podcast, & bond over food.

5. Enjoy Each Other's Company

We basked in the sun as we sipped our wine, grateful for spring's longer days. The birds chirped happily as we chomped on our delicious food. I loved the subtle mushroom flavor in the pasta. Paris is just a matter of weeks away, so we really appreciate discount grocery options like Grocery Outlet to help us save money but not skimp on quality. We had the perfect date, but as always it took half an hour to pick what movie to watch!

What's your ideal date night? Check out your local Grocery Outlet ad for $3 off! :]

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

I'm Going to KAABOO Del Mar (Again!)

Friday, March 24, 2017

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

Imagine singing along with one of your favorite artists of all time & then heading over to laugh hysterically with your favorite comedian. Or picture yourself casually sipping on a craft beer as you check out some rad art being created right in front of you. Well, it's all at KAABOO!

Located in stunning Del Mar, California, KAABOO harmoniously blends music, art, comedy, cuisine, & more, making it the ultimate mix-perience! Mark your calendars for September 15 through 17. You won't want to miss it! Grab your KAABOO tickets! I already have mine.

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt performing at KAABOO 2015

At KAABOO, you can listen to some world-class music, laugh your heart out with hilarious comedians, browse inspiring contemporary art, munch on incredible cuisine, sip on craft libations, & still find some time for personal indulgences like on-site spa services. If all that isn't reason enough, you can read my post from last year about Why You Should Go To KAABOO Del Mar!

I went to KAABOO in 2015, 2016, & third time's a charm because I'm heading to KAABOO this year too! It all gets real once the lineup comes out & 2017 looks pretty fabulous. KAABOO's lineup is stacked with amazing artists such as Alanis Morissette, Ice Cube, Jason Derulo, Muse, P!nk, Red Hot Chili Peppers,  Weezer, & so many more. You'll find me there front & center!

Take a look at the lineup!

Last year I distinctly remember slurping on a delicious latte as I watched an artist begin a new painting. It was like magic! There's so much to do, eat, & experience. It's really unlike any other festival I've been too. I'm really looking forward to seeing Muse & Weezer & just taking everything in. The countdown begins!

I've attended ever since its inception, so I'm genuinely excited to see what KAABOO 2017 has in store. I look forward to taking a bazillion photos, dancing to some great tunes, eating anything in sight, & sharing the experience with you guys. Stay tuned!

Purschase your KAABOO passes!


Which artist would you be psyched to see? :]

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

Spring // OOTD

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is here! The days are longer. The nights are warmer. Yellow poppies line the side of the highway, swaying in the serene breeze. I can't recall if the season is always this vibrant so early, but I'll accept the blooming spring flora with open arms.

As a result of the rise in temperature, I had to reorganize my wardrobe. I folded my plethora of leggings & tucked them away in the drawer, swapping them out for a fresh razor. Silky smooth legs, y'all! Feels so nice.

In honor of shaved legs & spring days, I busted out this darling off the shoulder dress from Boohoo*. The Kyra Satin Frill Off Shoulder Shift Dress is comfortable & breathable, making it the ideal option for such a beautiful day. Boohoo has a three other colors to choose from but this navy one seemed the most versatile.

Two years ago: Mixing Brights // OOTD

I'm interested to see how the season turns out long-term considering the strange winter we had. San Diego County had its fair share of rain, which is always welcome. Will it be a brutal & scorching summer, or will we have a bit more range? Time will tell.

Three years ago: Q&A with GAWTBASS

I'm normally a dog person but I couldn't resist this adorable cat wallet from Betsey Johnson. It has a detachable chain so it can also be used as a miniature purse to sling off your shoulder. It's so stinking cute & I get a lot of compliments on it! 

Dress: Boohoo // Wallet: Betsey Johnson // Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger // Sunglasses: Rue 21
Cheers to the blossoming flowers. Cheers to the rise in temperature. Cheers to the welcoming beams of light from the sun. Cheers to Paris because that's only a few weeks away. I love spring in San diego, but I'm dying to experience the season in Paris. Until then, read more about Paris & stay tuned for the ride!

Shop the Look

* Disclaimer: Boohoo sent the Kyra Satin Frill Off Shoulder Shift Dress as a PR sample. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

February Blogging Income Report - $556.80

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Man, the months fly by so quickly these days. Don't they? I'm always shocked. February was particularly short with its 28 days, so that makes be feel partially better.  Even with the miniature month, I earned more than last January! Woohoo! This is my second income report. Check out January 2017 Blogging Income Report if you want to catch up. Let's take a look at February.

More income reports:
January 2017 Income Report


Linqia Sponsored Posts - $141.60
Social Fabric Sponsored Posts - $175
Social Native Sponsored Posts - $25
Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts - $128.20
Reimbursements - $75
Blog Sponsors - $10
ShopStyle Collective - $2
Total - $556.80


Product Purchases - $46.45 Influencers - $15.03
Total - $61.48


Net Total - $495.32

blogging income report, lifestyle blogger

Note: I base my income report on earnings that were deposited into my bank account during that month. I did a couple projects in February that have yet to be paid out, therefore I will take that into account for my March Income Report.

The only exception to this rule is the $2 from ShopStyle Collective. I only get paid once I make the $100 threshold, but thought it'd be misleading to post that I earned $100 from ShopStyle when in fact that was many, many months in the making.

Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts were paid campaigns with brands that reached out to me directly versus via a blogger influencer network. Compared to six months ago, I've seen a slow increase in the amount of brands that reach out directly.

This month I had a great mix of sponsored posts & sponsored post payouts from January. I worked with brands like Lean Cuisine & Truvia to create some fun content. I've started to do sponsored posts on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter, which helps alleviate some of the sponsored posts on my blog. I like having things spread out!

This month I earned more than January, but not by much. I look forward to March's report as I've started doing more coaching. Stay tuned for next month!

Do you want to start making your first dollars as a blogger? I can help! I'm a social media professional & a blogger with over 3 years of experience. I offer consulting & coaching for bloggers & influencers who want to step up their game, grow their brand, & starting making some money. Please contact me for price quotes or if you have questions.

Other posts from my Social Media/Blogging series:
How I Increased My Page Views By 28% By Posting 30% Less

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* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

Why I'm Excited to Travel with My Significant Other

Friday, March 10, 2017

I remember sitting on a bench in Paris in 2010, writing a poem about how I desperately wanted to be there with a lover, someone whom I shared my heart with. I always dreamt of traveling the world with a significant other. I pictured holding hands as we explored the city, kissing under the Eiffel Tower, breaking off that first piece of baguette as we washed it down with a glass of red wine.


Traveling with a significant other is a completely different experience compared to traveling with family or friends or solo. 

Chilling with a cat in San Luis Obispo

I've traveled alone. I'll never forget my three-week road trip throughout California, sleeping on friends couches, getting rides whenever I could, doing whatever the hell I wanted whenever I wanted to. I remember waking up on the couch, hoping to see a text from the guy I liked. No such luck. I navigated to the kitchen to try out my friend's roommate's homemade bread. I did some blog work in their San Luis Obispo backyard. I jumped on the trampoline. I walked to downtown San Luis Obispo. After a few days on the lumpy couch, I moved on to my next city.

Me & my sister at an Airbnb in Brussels, Belgium

I've traveled with family. Together we went up the Swiss Alps. I fainted. I opened my eyes & saw my mom's worried face; my family gathered around to help me up off the ground. I remember sampling gouda cheese in Gouda, Netherlands with my sister. We tasted fennel gouda, coconut gouda, pesto gouda, until we couldn't gouda any longer. My dad & I road tripped Route 66, back when there was still smoking & non-smoking sections in the diner.

Me & my college roommate on the Space Needle

I've traveled with friends. One spring break, four of us drove up to San Francisco, then Portland, making our way up to Seattle, Washington. It started pouring rain as we were walking the city. We heard a man's voice inviting us into his tea room. We obliged, warming ourselves with every sip of tea we took. I bought the rose petal tea. We had a fancy dinner on top of the Space Needle. I felt so cool in my dress & heels & my $25 spaghetti or whatever it was.

Fred & I at Sacre Coeur in Paris, France

I've traveled with a significant other. Fred & I have been together for five years now, but it was only in the last couple years that we began dedicating more time to travel. It started by taking smaller trips throughout our area of Southern California: Del Mar, Los Angeles, San Clemente, San Diego. Then found a cheap flight to Portland, Oregon & booked our first flight together.

The rest is history. We drove to Yuma, Arizona on a whim one weekend. We went to Paris, France in the springtime. I'll never forget how it poured rain as we walked up the steps of the Notre Dame. We stared out at the cool, grey fog-ridden city.

I'm delighted to travel with someone I can hold hands with, kiss, embrace, & cuddle up with that night. Someone to take photos with, split the cost with, share memories with, eat an eclair with, reminisce with, get lost with.

It's different than traveling alone, doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to on a couch in San Luis Obispo. It's different than traveling with family, bickering, laughing, bonding, having long-winded, emotional family discussions over bread & grapes in Amsterdam's Vondelpark. It's different than laughing until you cry with your roommate in a grungy hotel room on your way to Portland.

eiffel tower

eiffel tower at night

moulin rouge

I want to see the world & I want him to have the chance to see it too. I like the challenges that traveling with a loved one creates. You're out of your comfort zone. You get lost. You have to speak broken French in order to find the restroom. You don't know where you are. You don't know the language, but you work together to conquer it.

Do you enjoy traveling with the significant other? Where did you go & how was it? :]

* Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link for Airbnb. If you sign up with my link & travel on Airbnb, you save $40 & I get $20 in travel credit. Win win.


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