September 2014 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Pink Sprinkles Blush from MAC's The Simpsons Collection

Monday, September 29, 2014

I love The Simpsons! I remember watching the show as a little kid & I continue to love it today. When I first heard about MAC's new collection based on Marge from The Simpsons I knew I had to get in on the action. Now I may not be your typical beauty blogger because I only purchased one item from The Simpsons Collection. Quite frankly why pay for something that you don't really need nor want? So that's why I only chose one embossed blush & that is Pink Sprinkles. :]

This blush weights 9.5 g / 0.33 US oz & costs $24 plus tax. $24 is nothing when you think about how long this will last. I've never heard of anyone busting through a blush in a rush. Pink Sprinkles is the lighter of the two blushes -- the other being Sideshow You which is a light peach coral. Pink Sprinkles is a really nice cotton candy pink. It's perfect to give you a lightly flushed look. 

The packaging is fantastic. The cardboard box is yellow & shows outlines of many Simpsons characters -- notably & obviously Marge is the one that is in color. The blush comes in a shiny black container & has Marge Simpson's face on it. It looks like Marge is giving you the side eye. Maybe she is. Hehe. 

The blush is blendable, buildable, & natural looking. I have to say I am most definitely a fan. The packaging & limited edition status & The Simpsons are the reasons why I purchased it, but the blush itself totally sold me! I am light to medium skinned so it works well for me. I don't like having a dark colors on my cheeks; I prefer something light, so this works like magic.

Did you purchase anything from MAC Cosmetics' The Simpsons Collection? What did you get? Anything you're coveting in particular? :]

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Cocktail Recipe // Mandarin Orange Rum

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hallelujah it's Friday! Time for an afternoon cocktail to celebrate the weekend. That sounds about right. Why not try this Mandarin Orange Rum cocktail? You know that can of mandarin orange slices that you've had in your cupboard for months & months & months? Yeah, well we're going to use that & it's going to be delicious. This beverage is sweet with just a bit of edge. MmmmMm.

Oh yes. It was quite tasty. The best part is that everything is adjustable. I give you a base to get you started but you may alter it to suit your taste. Want it more sweet? Add more juice. Want to amp up the liquor? Simple toss in more spiced rum. You can change it or keep it the same. Guess you'll just have to make this to see which way you like it. :]

// Ingredients //
+ pinch of turbinado sugar
+ 1 oz. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
+ 1 oz. mandarin orange syrup
+ 1 oz. water / sparkling water
+ couple mandarin orange slices
+ several ice cubes

// How to make it //
1. Add a pinch of turbinado sugar to the glass prior to pouring anything.
2. Measure one shot glass aka 1 oz. of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, or any spiced rum, & pour in glass.
3. Measure 1 oz. mandarin orange syrup & add to the mixture.
4. Measure 1 oz. water or sparkling water to the concoction.
5. Mix well.
6. Toss in a couple slices of mandarin orange. Now crush them in the glass with a fork. Let it sink to the bottom.
7. Add a few ice cubes. Mix again.
8. Top off with a mandarin slice.

If you'd like your Mandarin Orange Rum cocktail to be sweeter you may add a little bit of turbinado sugar or syrup. If you want to cut out the sugar, feel free to add another oz. of water. As always, you can include more alcohol if you so wish. Happy weekend!

What's your favorite mixed drink? Do you enjoy rum at all? :]

Let me know if you make it!
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+ Snapshots from the Past +

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sometimes all you have are memories. The only thing that's left are crumpled up tickets, faded photos, & an old letter. Things change. Moments pass. Time continues. Those little souvenirs of the old days can bring you just a second of happiness. And to me, that's worth it. Photographs are trippy because they capture an exact millisecond. Snapshots from the past.

Buddhist Temple // Los Angeles, CA

LA Historic Hotel // Los Angeles, CA

Chinatown // San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers // San Francisco, CA

Old Santa Barbara Mission // Santa Barbara, CA

Thoughts. Photos. Memories. Moments. These photographs are from my travels. Some are from my road trip to San Francisco from January, which you can read more about on Find Me in San FranciscoDo you ever find yourself thinking of what used to be? Which photo is your favorite?

Follow my journeys as they come. 
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How to Wear a Crop Top in Fall

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall is here & all I'm thinking is "How can I keep wearing crop tops in autumn?" Okay, well that's not all I'm thinking about, but that's one thing. Hehehe. Summer is over, so we can finally make way for scarves, cardigans, thigh highs, & all those glorious fall commodities that I hold dear to my heart. Keep wearing those crop tops y'all because I'm about to show you how to wear a crop top in fall! Yeah, I can rhyme too.

In order to wear a crop top in fall without freezing to death (although let's be real it's not going to get too cold here in southern California), you've got to layer your look. First off, pick your crop top of choice. Football season is here so this black & gold 33 crop is my homage to the sport, although I don't really follow it. I love hardware on clothes, so you can add a cool plaid skirt with a zipper detail & some rad high tops with chain. Pair your look with versatile black leggings for warmth.

Now that the nights are getting cooler, let's toss in a utilitarian coat. This jacket can be worn in a million different ways. The color is easy on the eyes, natural & pleasant. As with any Carmen outfit, there has to be some sort of color. Toss in a couple pastel accessories. Autumn is the time of year I start busting out my beanies. So this Clueless inspired "As If" beanie is superb. I really love the shape of this lavender hand bag.

Now you never have to worry about how to wear a crop top in fall. Just layer it up & remember to add some pastels. Okay, that's just my preference but still.  Are you going to wear crop tops in the fall? Which is your favorite piece from this look? :]

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My Experience at Comedy Central's @midnight Taping

Friday, September 19, 2014

My boyfriend & I ventured up to Los Angeles for the taping of @midnight, an internet-themed improv comedy panel show hosted by Chris Hardwick on Comedy Central. I've never been to a television show taping, so it was an intriguing experience. We arrived to LA around 1 p.m. or so, lazily making our way from San Diego. 

Tickets are free so you just print out the paper & it shows you how many guests you have. We arrived at 3 p.m. in time for the 3:15 p.m. RSVP time. We immediately showed our tickets, got searched, then sat down on some benches outside for 20 or so minutes. Then Brody Stevens -- or Steven Brody Stevens -- came out to hype us up. We were supposed to be psyched & clap & laugh loudly during all segments of the taping.

They have strict dress code. It said absolutely no t-shirts with logos, white tops, shorts or hats. It said they preferred dark, solid color clothing & that proved to be true once they moved me because my grey top seemed to get in the way of the camera. Man, I was really looking forward to my half a second of fame. I wanted to spot my head in the background of a shot. However, the way the show was filmed the only thing you ever see from the audience is the dark silhouette of the back of peoples' heads.

One of the only photos from the day. We found a cool jumping fox graffiti. I'm wearing:
Tunic: Thrifted // Slip: The Closet // Necklace: my grandma's // Earrings: Claire's // Sunnies:
The Way, Way Back movie premier 

I would show you a picture but cell phones were absolutely not allowed inside the recording studio. It was intriguing to attend a live taping because you realize just how scripted everything is. If Chris messed up a line they reshot it. A couple times we didn't laugh or clap loud enough, so they had to reshoot it & we had to be even more clappy & laughy about something we obviously weren't naturally so amused by. Basically the bigger the laugh & the louder the clap the better. So yes, it is somewhat forced but simultaneously it's funny seeing as it's comedy. 

In between segment breaks the makeup crew would fix up the comedians' faces. You could also spot the guest comedians reviewing their cards, which I can only assume contained prewritten jokes to the answers to some of the segments. The experience was somewhat inspiring because I realized hey I could be a comedy writer maybe. I'm funny ha ha. Right? Right? Laugh with me guys. Laugh with me. By the time we were all done filming & got out it was nearly 6 p.m. Time consuming but fun.

I could get into all the segments & the comedians who were present, but I find that to be the least pertinent information from my time there. It was more about the teleprompters, the scripted funniness vs. naturally funny things that came out of their mouths, seeing how small Chris was in person, & just to do something new.

Have you ever been to a TV show taping? Which one? How was it? Let me knowwwww. :]

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Nourish Organic Argan Face Serum Review

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nourish your skin. You only get one (all over your body)! Treat it right, right? I received the Nourish Organic Pure Hydrating Organic Argan Face Serum with apricot & rosehip to test out. This is supposed to deeply hydrate & replenish skin, brighten & revitalize complexion, regenerate skin to reduce signs of stress & fatigue, smooth texture & help even out tone, according to their website. Let's see how it holds up!

This lil guy -- I mean lil, he's 0.7 oz. I was initially drawn to the packaging. It's fresh & floral. I really like the use of color. The illustration is pretty & inviting. The serum itself comes in a sleek container with a pump which makes dispensing the serum easy. It gives you just the right amount. The serum itself is clear & liquidy, so apply it ASAP. Bonus: it smells so delightful, like sweet orange.

Notice this is for normal to dry skin. I have slightly oily skin so I was worried it'd leave me oily & shiny which is partially true. Since this is a moisturizer, I simply added my powder over it & it was fine. The serum soaked in nicely & left my skin refreshed. I was not as oily as I thought I might be but not as matte as I'd prefer.

I also go this mini Coconut & Argan Body Lotion. The tube is compact & slender, so this could be small enough to toss in my bag. The smell is pretty mild. Maybe it's just the way it reacts to my skin, but just smelled neutral, kind of like skin or dust. Maybe it's the argan oil? I was hoping it'd smell more coconuty.

All in all the face serum worked well. It did nourish my skin & left my face feeling smooth. I couldn't say it regenerated my skin or anything like that, as that's hard to tell. But I felt like this is a great moisturizer to start with & its organic ingredients are a bonus. 

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

Why Do I Feel More Tired After a Nap?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sometimes all I want to do after a long day is crawl in bed & take a nap. It feels so good, right? It is good! Studies in adults show that sleep may heighten certain mental functions such as memory, reasoning, & problem-solving, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). It sounds like a great idea in theory. But why do I feel more tired after a nap? Has that ever happened to you? I wake up from a nap all groggy & out of it. Well, there's a reason! A few reasons. Here are some tips & tricks to get the most out of your nap.

Keep it brief - Keep that nappy nap short, my friend. Ideally, you're looking to do a 20 to 30 minute nap. "Even just napping for a few minutes has benefits. Longer naps can lead to grogginess," according to Harvard Health Publications (HHP).

Keep it dark & quiet - Have you ever tried taking a nap in the scorching heat? Good luck. It's difficult to get to sleep when you're sweating & wriggling around. People tend to get to sleep faster when they reduce the amount of light & noise around them (HHP).

Keep naps for the (early) afternoon - The best time for your to take a nap is in the early afternoon -- 2 to 3 p.m. When you take your nap earlier it's less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep, according to the MayoClinic. If you're off work at 6 p.m. & want to get a lil shut eye, you may find it hard to get to sleep come actual bedtime. 

Keep yourself relaxed - If you're all stressed out, you probably won't get a very restful sleep. If you relax or do something to help you decompress, it may make it easier for you to pass out, according to NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS). 

Obviously, this is not intended to be medical advice, but merely to answer common questions. Any other concerns or questions should be brought up with your doctor. Do you like to take naps? Have you ever felt more tired after a nap & wondered why? When was the last time you took one? Preschool or recently...? :]

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+ 90s Kid 4Ever +

Monday, September 08, 2014

I'm a 90s kid at heart. I remember the summers of my childhood. I grew up watching "Hey Arnold!" & "Full House." I recall The Spice Girls & Britney Spears being the epitome of cool. Every girl knew the words to every song. I used to record tunes from the radio on my tape recorder because that was the only way to make a customized mix tape. Oh the times have changed.

Dress: eShakti* // Shoes: Old Navy // Necklace: my grandma // Anklet: Rue 21 // Nose Ring: eBay

I long for those carefree days. At least I can live vicariously through my stylistic choices. This Empire Tropical Floral Print Dress from eShakti is customized. I requested that it be tailored above the knee for someone 5'7" & that is spot on. I was really drawn to this print because I'm obsessed with anything tropical, but also because it reminds me of the 90s. It takes me back to those old times. I have a bed sheet from my kidhood that looks similar to this pattern, so it's kind of like wearing a childhood token. I like the pockets & square neckline too. 

I wish I could bust out all my favorite Disney VHS tapes & have a marathon. I wish I could eat vanilla ice cream & hot fudge at my grandma's while watching cable television. I wish. I wish. I wish. Oh well. Guess I can just wear this dress & make new memories! Do you have any childhood memories that send you back?  + 90s Kids 4Ever + 

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* Disclaimer: The Empire Tropical Floral Print Dress was received complimentary from eShakti in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

My Perfect Fall Outfit

Friday, September 05, 2014

The countdown to fall has begun!! Start getting out your finest autumn clothing. Those sweaters. Those leggings. Those scarves. Those boots. Bust them out because fall is coming starting September 23. California doesn't get very cold, but when you're a Californian everything under 60°F is considered frigid. After 60 we start to grow icicles & can no longer function without several layers. Okay, I slightly exaggerate. 

My perfect fall outfit is a mix of the basic autumn essentials. My boyfriend said this looks like something Clair Huxtable from "The Cosby Show" would wear. Mind you, he said this when I had only the basics -- the striped sweater, draped beige pant, & olive green military inspired jacket. I'll take it as a compliment. I love that show!

Black & white stripes have never gone out of style. If you think they did you're a fool. I started out with the neutral basics & went from there. But me being me, I needed some sort of color added to the mix. It wouldn't be my stylo without a pop of brightness. Blue & yellow are primary colors, so you'll often see them paired collectively simply because they go well together. I added some radical geometric jewelry to tie it all in. I like the redundancy of the triangles in both the layered necklace as well as the earrings.

What are your fall essentials? Did you ever watch "The Cosby Show?" :]

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Aura Cacia Review

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

* Disclaimer: These products were received complimentary from Aura Cacia. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

Okay so I have an interesting review for y'all today. This is one of my first experiences dealing with essential oils. Aura Cacia, is an aromatherapy & natural personal care brand. I was thrilled to read that they give back 1% of the sales of their organic products to support organic farmers & their communities. They are also cruelty-free & sustainable.

I received 9 products to test out. Six items were 100% pure essential oils. Three of those oils were 2 fluid oz. & the other 3 were .5 oz. I also got a Nurturing Sweet Almond Skin Care Oil, a Restoring Rosehip Oil with Vitamin E, & a Nourishing Body Polish in lavender.'s how it went. 

These 100% pure essential oils rock! Here we have Lemon Tea Tree, Chill Pill, & Peppermint. These are the .5 oz sizes. Lemon Tea Tree is invigorating. Chill Pill is a mixture of lavender & chamomile, so it's ideal, as the name states, to just chill & relax. Peppermint is true to name, very soothing. You can add a few drops of oil to an unscented lotion to give it a lovely smell. You could also put 10 drops on a cotton ball & place it behind the toilet to make the bathroom smell fab! 

These are long-lasting. You don't buy essential oils thinking they're going to last a week, so if it takes me a year to use it, $19.99 is not bad at all.

Lavender, Sweet Orange, & Eucalyptus were also up to par. Lavender ($38.29) is calming & obviously one of my favorites, as I am obsessed with lavender. The price, however, is jarring. Lavender items tend to be pricey though. Sweet Orange essential oil smells true to name & the price is perfect for the amount you get. I added 5 drops to a cotton ball & placed it in my car vent. Oh man, heaven! Eucalyptus is supposed to be exhilarating. I mixed several drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, & sweet orange, & got a really outdoorsy, woodsy smell. Like I was on a magical hike through a citrus field & beyond.

I wasn't entirely sure what the purpose of the Nurturing Sweet Almond Skin Care Oil ($13.65) was until I read the bottle. Basically, you may use it as a replacement to your daily lotion or moisturizer. My skin felt nice & hydrated. I enjoyed the glow it left on my legs. Mix the Sweet Almond Oil with your favorite essential oil for a really good smelling & rich skincare lotion. I used lavender & it was DEE-light-ful.

Now I didn't give the Restoring Rosehip Oil a thumbs up just because I wasn't completely sure on its purpose. I read the packaging & it stated to use this as a facial serum as well as for hair or body in general. Due to its small nature (1 oz.) & price ($12.99), this isn't something I'd be slathering generously all over my hair & body. I used it as a facial serum & it was decent enough. It left my face feeling smooth, but I didn't notice anything special other than that.

I quite enjoyed the lavender Nourishing Body Polish. It was lush & oily. It does recommend that you rinse thoroughly & I agree. I found that for best results, use the body polish first to moisten & exfoliate your skin, then wash with your soap or body wash. Lavender is magnificent to soothe yourself with during a hot, steamy shower. My skin felt so soft after. I rubbed some on my feet & it was miraculous.

Overall, I had a pleasurable Aura Cacia experience. The range of products left me feeling experimental & happy to mix & match the items. The scents range from comforting to refreshing to exhilarating. Though some of the prices are pretty steep, I do appreciate the Fair Trade, organic, cruelty-free, sustainable, charitable nature. I wouldn't be able to pick a favorite essential oil, but if I did have to purchase it on my own, I'd likely go for Sweet Orange, Lemon Tea Tree, & Chill Pill.

What did you think of these products? Have you ever used essential oils? How did you utilize them? :]

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

23 Things to Look Forward to in the Fall

Monday, September 01, 2014

Happy September!!  We're basically counting down the days until autumn now. Summer went by rapidly, as it ALWAYS does. Goodbye shorts. I'll miss you. The hot pool days & warm nights are coming to an end. This brings me a bit of sadness, but fall carries some wonderful times as well. I've got a list of 23 things to look forward to in the fall to pump you up. Enjoy! Let the countdown begin!

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

1. Spiced food & drink - Ooooooooh yeaaaaaaah. A spiced beverage or dish can include a variety of aromatic plant substances, such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. I love sipping on a hot spiced latte or gingerbread tea or perhaps munching on a spiced banana loaf. Divine! I buy pumpkin spice mix & put it in everything!!

2. Pumpkin - Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin frappe. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin ravioli. Pumpkin soup. Yes to pumpkins. Now is the time to use this seasonal must have. Pumpkins are versatile & delicious. You can bake them in a dessert or eat them as a side dish. 

3. Layers - It's going to get nice & brisk outside. It's time to bust out the box of cardigans, sweaters, scarves, beanies, & layers that you stored in your garage during the scorching months. Hooray! I'm thrilled to wear items that I've been hoarding away all year long. It's like getting free clothes.

4. Halloween - The cobwebs, witches, zombies, pumpkins, & assortment of candies are bound to come in the next couple months. Just you wait. I've already seen costume shops in the works. You know it's legit when those start popping up. Halloween is the beginning of the upcoming holiday festivities to last us through the end of the year!  Click here for the Ultimate Autumn & Halloween Guide.

5. Falling leaves - Take a good look at the leaves now. They're green. In a few weeks, the gorgeous & vibrant green leaves will turn a yellow, orange or red color, crumple, & die. Okay wow, that sounded depressing. But what I'm trying to say is that there is beauty in the assortment of fallen leaves. Fall is beautiful. 

6. No Shave November - Oh yeah!

7. Rainy days - First the days & nights start to cool off. Next, it begins to drizzle. I can't wait to get my shoes wet & give a kiss in the rain & bask in the glory of nature. California rarely gets rain. This year's drought has been especially horrible, so I'm hoping for a miracle! We need the rain desperately. 

8. Extra blankets - Sleeping with a thin sheet works in summer, but it's time to get comfy during autumn. Say hello to all those blankets you tossed aside. They're happy to see you. I especially adore those cozy, fluffy ones that feel like you're nestled warmly within the pouch of a kangaroo -- that's what I imagine anyway. 

9. Crisp fall days - Picture this: it's a November morning. It's cloudy & cool. Just how it's supposed to be.

10. Chilly fall nights - After a crisp fall day, comes a chilly fall night. Don't mind if I do.

11. The Nightmare Before Christmas - This film is relevant until December, really. Jack Skellington is awesome! If you're able to visit Disneyland, go during autumn. The Haunted Mansion ride is decorated to perfection during Halloween. 

12. Hocus Pocus - This time of the year is perfect for watching your favorite childhood Halloween movies. Hocus Pocus is an obvious choice.

13. Halloweentown - Another classic Halloween film from my youth. I think I predict a marathon...

14. Apple cider - You have to sip some apple cider at least once during the fall. It's got that harmonious mix of apples & spice & warmth. Plus, it makes your house smell nice.

15. Football - The football buffs out there are psyched that it's that time of year. Be it college football or NFL, autumn is the time of year when fans get to watch their favorite team play (& hopefully win!!) against rival opponents. There's also fantasy football, which is a league of its own.

16. Tea - How could I forget?!!! TEA! I love tea. I drink it almost every day (unless it's a brutally hot summer's day). You can make your favorite green tea or chai tea or fancy shmancy tea all season long. Time to get cozy!

17. Baking - At some point this fall, you must bake something. It can be a simple store-bought pumpkin pie. It can be a tasty cupcake recipe you found on Pinterest. Or perhaps it's cookies for your work party. But you will bake. And it will be amazing.

18. Stepping on leaves - The autumn winds have swept the leaves from the trees. They've fallen gracefully onto the ground. What do you do? Crrrrunch. Boy does it feel good to give a good bashing to some leaves! Stomping on the dead leaves used to give me such joy as a kiddo.

19. Dia de los Muertos - The "Day of the Dead" is a celebration that salutes the presence of the dead souls among living ones. The dia is known for its symbolism such as skulls, rosaries, masks, flowers, & candles.

20. Green bean casserole - Every family has their own green bean casserole. If not green bean casserole, then they have a version of another Thanksgiving classic: yams, mashed potatoes, stuffing. Everyone's is different. And that's what's so interesting. #UnitedbyGBCasserole :]

21. Black Friday - I did Black Friday once & it wasn't for me. Maybe I'll try again soon. However, Black Friday brings ridiculous deals on anything you could possibly imagine. Do you do Black Friday?

22. Leftovers - You know what I'm talking about!! The week after Thanksgiving is delightful due to the massive amount of leftovers. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert, whatever. Leftovers rock!

23. Gratitude - This is the time of year when you get to go back home for the holidays. You get to be around the people you care about. You eat scrumptious foods. You see old friends. This time of the year -- as well as all days of the year -- is a wonderful time to have some gratitude. Be thankful!

Autumn isn't upon us quite yet, but it's getting there. All we need to do is count the days. Bask in this last month of summer. After all, the season only comes once a year! What's your favorite thing about autumn? Do you care about football or Black Friday? Does your family do green bean casserole too?  #UnitedbyGBCasserole

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