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


Learning to Hustle, Binge Watching Shows, & A Little Life Update

Monday, May 29, 2017

This post is sponsored by USA Network but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

I hustle pretty hard. You know this about me. If you've been following along the last few months, you might've seen my income report increase from $478 in January to $1,100 in May. I'm consistently improving, learning, making changes, & doing whatever it takes to create interesting content & engage with readers. Grow as you go, that's what I like to say!

In case you didn't read the news, I'm quitting my corporate job! I'm going to focus on my blog, creating great content, being active on social media, enhancing my blogging & social media coaching business, & gaining a small handful of freelance clients.

Although I wonder about how everything will go, I have to remember that the path to success takes courage. It's not easy. But I'm ready to experience it first-hand & grow as a person, business owner, entrepreneur!

I'm currently binge watching the first season of Queen of the South on Netflix because Season 2 premieres June 8 10/9c on USA Network. Fred & I watched the whole thing in like three days. I literally was captivated within the first minute. You'll see what I mean.

I mentioned on Facebook that I was watching Queen of the South for this campaign & my friends were watching it too! Here's what one friend had to say:

"I really enjoyed this show I've been waiting for season 2 for months!" then she added, "You are gonna be on the edge of your seat the closer you get to the last few episodes."

Teresa Mendoza is a strong character with some pretty amazing survival instincts. Queen of the South Season 2 let's you see Teresa come into her own as she starts to recognize her power & potential, much like my own transition from the corporate world to the land of entrepreneurship. We get to witness her rise to become ultimate queenpin!

Without giving too much of the show away, the new season revolves around the drug cartel underworld & focuses on Teresa's relationship with Camila Vargas, her mentor & formidable foe. Loyalties are tested. Love becomes a vulnerability. Moral compromises must be made. By the end of the season, we'll come to realize that there can only be one queen. Yikes! I know I'll be at the edge of my seat.

As a female entrepreneur, I can relate to the feelings, the struggles, the issues these women have as they're trying to expand their business. It's not simple. But the best moments in life usually aren't easy, are they? Cheers to becoming a badass businesswoman!

In fact, I just spent the last few days working my butt off to complete some campaigns, send emails, plan for coaching sessions, & simply be my best business self. I planned everything out, created to do lists, & executed tasks as necessary. I feel super accomplished!

Stay tuned for some upcoming collaborations! One is with a beer brand & one is with an ice cream brand. I also have two press trips coming soon: one to Torrance, California & another to Reno, Nevada. I'm going all over the place & that's how I like it. And I love that it's all considered business!

If you need some inspiration, don't forget to watch Queen of the South June 8 10/9c on USA Network or binge watch Season 1 on Netflix like I did. I'm ready to slay my every day. Are you? :]

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

I'm Quitting My Corporate Job to Pursue My Dream

Friday, May 26, 2017

This is a hard decision. This is a questionable decision. This is an exciting decision. You never know if you're going to be successful, but that's part of taking the leap. None of my best moments in life were easy moments. None of them.

It's been running across my mind for a while now but I decided I'm going to do it. I'm quitting my job to pursue my dream. I want to dedicate myself to my blog, to my coaching, to my freelancing, & most of all I need to dedicate some time to myself.

I feel like my life is passing by so quickly & I'm not living it. Days go by. Weeks go by. Months go by. And years ago by. The time goes by without too much to show for it. Am I really living or just going through the motions? My life feels robotic.

Wake up to the sound of my screeching alarm. Put on work clothes. Drive to work. Work, work, work, work, work. Drive home. Take off work clothes. Blog a bit. Make dinner. Relax for a few moments. Go to bed. Set my alarm. Do it all over again.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Purse: Betsey Johnson (similar) // Jacket: Cuddl Duds (exact) // Dress: Cotton On (similar) // Leggings: Forever 21 // Boots: H&M
I live for weekends. I live for each 10-minute break so I can escape outside to work on my blog & business. I walk laps around the parking lot in an effort to inhale some fresh air, if only for a few moments. 

So, I wrote my resignation letter & handed it in today. My mom won't like it one bit. But she's not the one living my life. The naysayers are not the ones I'm trying to please. I'm trying this to please myself, to satisfy myself. I feel a need to explore the world, experience life, & learn more about everything including myself.

I want to write about it all. I want to take photos of it. I want to post about it. I want to share my knowledge. I want to coach people who are looking to do the same. A year from now I want memories, experiences, photos, poems, laughter, friendship, & authentic living.

This won't be easy & I don't have all the logistics figured out, but this is what I'm doing. I'm taking a leap of faith into the unknown & I'm going to work my ass off for it. Thank you for reading & thank you for following along. Things are going to get interesting! I hope you stay tuned.

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How is work for you? What is your dream? How can you achieve it? :]

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I included the link to the items I was wearing in the photo since I got a couple messages asking about them. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

Products That Make Showering Feel Like a Spa Treatment

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Have you ever felt like you desperately needed a weekend at the spa but couldn't find the time or the money? Same. Like all the time. Sometimes it's not feasible, so you have to figure out an alternative. If you've had a long day & want to relax & unwind, scoop up some of these products. You'll feel like a million bucks even though it didn't cost much at all!

Catwalk Oatmeal & Honey Nourishing Shampoo

I've never been one to have a favorite shampoo. Ever. But there's really something about this one. I can't put my finger on it. It's comforting, perhaps it's the soothing oat scent. It lathers nicely & my hair feels squeaky clean without being stripped. I would totally repurchase this!

Philosophy Snow Angel Shower Gel

This is a seasonal body wash for Christmas time that I got on sale a few months ago. I really love the iridescent shininess. It feels like a luxury experience, like liquid diamonds dripping onto your loofah & scrubbing away the dead skin cells on your body. Majestic.

Jade Lilly Papaya & Pineapple Face Mask

This product was sent to me last year as part of my Valentine's Day Gift Guide for Her. Simply add some powder to your hand & add a few drops of water until it creates a nice paste. I've come to use it whenever I want to feel like I'm having an at home spa experience. I love the tightening feel as it's drying.

St. Ives Green Tea Scrub

St. Ives scrubs have remained a staple in my life through the years. They're affordable & effective. I saw this green tea version at the store & said "why not?" The product itself is green & has a pleasant scent. The green tea leaves are carefully picked from China. The scrub isn't harsh & leaves my face feeling smooth as a baby's bum.

Topganic Treatment Hair Mask with Obliphica Oil

My hair always feels like the silkiest thing ever after using this. I put the mask on every time I wash my hair, leaving it in for about five minutes. It makes my tangles super easy to get out & I will always, always use a hair mask from now on. I don't want to live my life with out it! The fragrance is lovely as well.

Sometimes you have to create your own spa experience, you know? From glittery body wash to green tea facial scrubs, these products make shower time feel way more luxurious than it really is. And I'm most certainly okay with that.

What are some of your favorite spa-esque products? How do you relax at home? :]

April 2017 Blogging Income Report - $793.20

Friday, May 19, 2017

I might as well just say it: April was my best month yet! If you've been following along, I've been doing my blogging income reports since January. I've seen a steady increase each month & look forward to what May has in store. For reference, my January income total was $478.43 — I made $300+ more than that in April. Okay, let's get to it!

*This post contains affiliate links. 


Coaching - $255
Linqia Sponsored Posts - $383.20
Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts - $155
Total - $793.20


PayPal Fees - $5.27
Product Purchases - $15.09
Total - $20.36


Net Total - $772.84

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

Want to see more income reports?
January 2017 Blogging Income Report


This month I continued focusing on coaching. As a coach, I work with people one-on-one to better their blogs, their social media presence, & their brands. I'm thrilled to see growth in this part of my business. I'm even more excited since I have repeat clients. It's fantastic to see them reach their goals & surpass them. Learn more about my coaching!

Linqia Sponsored Posts

I got paid for a couple of Linqia campaigns from March. I did a post with KAABOO, a music festival held in Del Mar, California. I also wrote 5 Steps to the Perfect Date Night, which was a sponsored post for Grocery Outlet. Linqia is becoming a regular part of my monthly income.

Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts

Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts were paid campaigns with brands that reached out to me directly via email versus through a blogger influencer network like Linqia. One such example is my Mother's Day post. These come in randomly, but I'm able to negotiate them more than if it were through an influencer network.

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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. :]

How Living in San Diego, California Affects My Lifestyle

Monday, May 15, 2017

This post is sponsored by LA VICTORIA® Brand but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

Southern California is a way of life. I've traveled to 17 countries (so far) & I have to say San Diego is a wonderful place to live. You can always find some great views, delicious food, & wonderful people wherever you go. In honor of travel, I want to take a moment to talk about how living in San Diego affects my lifestyle (& probably my blog).


It's warm year-round. The sun shines almost every day. There's always a beach nearby. Although rain may be needed, it's greeted with many complaints. You can wear dresses in the spring, shorts all summer, flip flops in autumn, & then maybe a cardigan in winter.


I actually live in North County San Diego, so I'm not deep in the city or in downtown. Visit the seals in La Jolla. Take a day trip to Long Beach, Los Angeles, Palm Springs or even Tijuana or Ensenada in Mexico. You're not too far from anything.


Living in Southern California means I'm never too far off from some scrumptious food. You can find almost any type of food, whether it's Thai, Peruvian, Persian, or anything your heart desires, but the thing that makes us standout is our abundance of Mexican food. I have the honor of having a boyfriend whose family is from Querétaro, Mexico — about a 6-hour plane ride away from San Diego.

Fred's mom makes fabulous salsa (red, green, you name it). It's just spicy enough that your eyes water but not spicy enough that you start begging for water (but almost). However, she's not always around to make fresh salsa so it's comforting to have brands like LA VICTORIA® around.

This year, LA VICTORIA®  turns 100 years old — yep, they've been around since 1917! That's 100 years of salsas & sauces inspired by the bold Mexican flavors of the West Coast. To celebrate this momentous year, LA VICTORIA® decided to host dinner in four cities: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, & Portland with 100 people per location. Each dinner will showcase the flavors of a different local chef & recipe specific to west coast. 

LA VICTORIA® hosted a San Diego event May 11th but you can still make the LA event June 1st on the Santa Monica Pier. The 100 year dinner events are filled with tasty delights for people seeking out new flavor experiences!

I did my own version of the Blistered Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower recipe with the LA VICTORIA® Green Taco Sauce. Fred & I were drooling. It's so scrumptious but still easy to make. You won't be in the kitchen for hours. We made one batch & it was enough for four meals, two meals per person.

Oh, California

Although I was born in Australia, California is a part of me. It's where I grew up. It's what I know. I can hear the birds chirping as I write this. The spring air is fresh, gently rocking the curtains back & forth. The sun is supposed to set at 7:41 PM tonight, leaving the days longer & warmer. Oh, California. You are good to me!

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

Self-Care Essentials to Bring to a Camping Music Festival

Saturday, May 13, 2017

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

Everyone should experience a camping music festival at least once in their lives. It's on a completely alternative level compared to simply attending a music festival & then retreating to your hotel room every night. Not only have I been to 10 multi-day music festivals, two of those were multi-day tent camping.

When you're camping at a music festival you need to take care of yourself over the course of the next few days in order to make it out of the fest in one piece. Veteran campers often utter the motto "it's a race not a marathon" to newbies. If you want to not only survive but completely enjoy your camping music festival, then you're going to need a few self-care essentials!

1. A Good Moisturizer

When you're outside in the sun all day your skin tends to feel like a dry shriveled prune. Start off with a layer of SPF then incorporate Cetaphil® Moisturizing Cream into your moisturizing & beauty routine. You'll feel refreshed & rejuvenated. The non-greasy formula is excellent for hands, feet, elbows, knees, & any other areas that require intensive moisturization — literally your entire body if you're at a camping music festival.

Cetaphil® Moisturizing Cream provides lasting moisture to replenish sensitive, dry skin to help you survive the dirt, dust, & intense sun. Cetaphil® is gentle for sensitive skin making it a great match for someone with eczema prone skin like myself. I bought my Cetaphil® products at Target since it's my go to spot for everything — workout gear, makeup, blog props, & obviously body moisturizer! You can find Cetaphil® in the dermatologist recommended section. Visit the Social Hub here for more Cetaphil® inspiration!

2. Baby Wipes

There's always a dirty element to music festivals whether it's dirt, sand, leaves, rain. Add camping to the mix & you can include spilled food, drink, ice, smudged makeup, too much sunscreen, you name it. Lines for the showers can be over an hour long. Do yourself a favor & bring baby wipes. They're great for a touch-up, especially if your feet, legs, arms, face, & neck get dusty.

3. Battery Operated Personal Fan

Believe me. You'll want this! The desert air feels constricting when you're taking a nap in your tent mid-day with sun beating down. A battery operated mini fan will do you some good & give you some comfort. My boyfriend bought one for our second camping music festival, & it was almost as good as having an air conditioning blowing on you — well,  at least that's what it feels like when you're out in the heat.

4. A Bandana

You definitely don't want to inhale the desert dirt all day for three days straight. I made a mistake during my first music festival. At the end of the three days I had a terrible cough & ended up getting sick. Invest in a stylish bandana to cover your mouth & nose. Your lungs will appreciate it. I never had a cough or got sick or had the sniffles after a festival again.

5. A Kimono

Since you're outside all day trying to enjoy one band to the next, you'll want to shield yourself from the sun the best you can. Pair a light kimono with a hat, sunglasses, & a high SPF sunscreen to block the sun from bearing down on your neck, back, & shoulders. You can also moisturize with your Cetaphil® Moisturizing Cream. A kimono is sheer enough to not create additional layers or heat but it covers you enough to slightly filter the sun.

* 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. :]

Reminiscing About Paris, Planning Future Trips, & Pineapple Orange Juice Gin Punch

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Message for 21+. This post is sponsored by Seagrams, but the content & opinions expressed here are my own. Play it Smart. Drink Responsibility.

Fred & I got back from Paris a handful of days ago. The buttery chocolate croissants, fast-paced Metro, & gloomy afternoons freshly linger in our minds. In fact, my left pinky toe is still recovering from a Paris-induced-I-walked-20,000-steps-a-day blister. 

We spent the afternoon uploading pictures then looking at them. During trips I have a habit of collecting every receipt, piece of paper, & museum brochure until it becomes a ridiculous pile of memories. We flicked through them & reminisced about Paris over American-made cocktails.

We opened up a bottle of Seagram's Extra Dry Gin for the occasion, which offers gin drinkers a smooth & mellow taste at a great value. Seagram's award-winning taste comes in seven different flavors including lime, pineapple, & peach. We opted for the Extra Dry Gin, but there's something for everyone.

Inspired by a drink we had on our trip, we made a Pineapple Orange Juice Gin Punch made with pineapple juice, orange juice, & Seagram's Extra Dry Gin. Toss in some ice, pineapple pieces, & sliced orange for maximum photo-worthy beverage status.

We had an excellent time in France, but it was soothing to touch down in San Diego. Never underestimate the luxury of sleeping in your own bed. There's truly nothing like it. And San Diego, California is an amazing place to be. It's the land of sunshine, tacos, & beaches. Funny enough, it was rainy for our entire afternoon!

After a week of consistently trekking outside in a bustling city, we enjoyed a refreshing change of pace by having a day inside at home. Seagram's Gin is the perfect spirit to enjoy together in a place where you can simply be yourself. We loved our gloomy cocktail hour looking at pictures, thinking about our next trip (London in December), & sipping on some gin.

Fun fact: Seagram's originated in the 1880s but became a household name during the Prohibition after successfully navigating & adapting during the era's challenging times. Backed up by a long-standing history of quality gin-making, I'm proud to call Seagram's Gin a sponsor on my blog!

What's your gin cocktail of choice? Where is YOUR next trip? :]

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

Mother's Day Gift Ideas That She'll Actually Like

Saturday, May 06, 2017

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

Shopping for Mom is hard, y'all. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because of all the thing she's done to help you overall the years. Maybe it's the countless amount of times she's given you solid advice & guidance. Maybe it's because she's Mom & she knows everything!

Every time I pick something out, I endlessly question my choice. Will she like it? Will she use it? Will she smile & say "Oh I love it, honey" then tuck it away in a box under her bed for years to come? Never fear, these are some Mother's Day gift ideas that she will actually like. Think functional but still totally cute.

Macarons + Ladurée = 100% yes. Fred & I just got back from Paris, so a macaron bag charm would make a great Mother's Day gift/Parisian souvenir.

You can't go wrong with a simple golden tray. It's actually made of stainless steel, so it's chic but still completely affordable.

You can smell this delicious sanguinello scented candle from the box. It's absolutely heavenly. I've sniffed my fair share of candles & this one is unique, refreshing, & fills up the room.

Get Mom some darling light blue ceramic bowls to make her kitchen cute as heck.

My mom is a mug hoarder (now I know where I get it from). Mom is sure to love this darling watercolor-esque Kate Spade mug. Rise & shine!

Fred's mom is really into incense. She burns it to cleanse the house, so she'll appreciate the Tourbillon incense. You get 100 mini incense sticks. The packaging is adorable to boot.

Bread & butter was a part of daily life growing up. It was that or bread & cheese. Either way Ted Baker's bread & butter plate is absolutely stunning.

Everything in this gift guide can be purchased online at Amara. They have so many dazzling options to choose from. I'm pretty much obsessed. Read more about Amara in my Valentine's Day Gift Guide For Her post.

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

I'm Ready to Quit My Corporate Job for Something I'm Passionate About

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

I write this sitting on the large black pull out bed in my Airbnb studio in Paris, France. I'm facing the miniature kitchen (it's so small!). The windows are wide open. The room feels brisk now because I wanted to let some fresh air in. It felt a little stale, stagnant. It's 8:45 PM & it's still light out. It was supposed to rain, but it hasn't yet. Thankfully.

We got caught in the downpour yesterday evening. It left us soggy & feeling pretty dang grumpy. Today was chilly & cloudy with a hint of sunlight. I kept wrapping my jacket around me, trying to block out the wind. Dust & debris flew mercilessly into my eyes, causing them to tear for hours on end.

Such is life. 

Although this is my fourth time in the City of Light, I'd rather be here in Paris with crap falling into my eyeballs than sitting at a corporate desk for hours on end building somebody else's business. Despite all the hubbub, the walking, the sightseeing, the eating, the people-watching, I've had a lot of time to think.

I really want to put all my effort into my blog, my coaching, my writing, my creative journey, my travels. It's ever so difficult to do that when you work 40 hours a week, enhancing somebody else's business. It leaves me feeling so fatigued, restless, & stuck.

When you have time to step away & look at the big picture, you're better able to figure things out. I think I have. Paris really solidified it for me. Thank you, Paris. 

Even if you're lost, every turn leads you somewhere fresh, somewhere new. It's magnificent. You make a wrong turn & end up at a small cheese shop or looking down on an amazing view. It's so nice to get uncomfortable, get away from your own city & witness how other people live their lives. 

There's something majestic about traveling through a long haul flight, into the clouds & then above them. All your worries seem so small, irrelevant, distant. But that flight is not forever. Eventually, you come back home & things go back to the way they were, but this time I'm ready to change it.

You'll see what I mean. Not today, but later on.

Have you been to Paris? Where is your favorite city? How are you doing right now? :]


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