June 2015 / Carmen Varner // Travel Influencer, Blogging Coach, Social Media Consultant


The San Diego County Fair Tradition

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's that time of year again! My birthday? No. Christmas? No. It's fair time!! One of the most highly anticipated things to do in San Diego during the summer is to attend the San Diego County Fair. Held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the SD Fair is over 100 years old. I'm a weirdo & still call it the Del Mar Fair even though they changed the name about 10 years ago. This year's theme is A Fair to Remember: a Celebration of World's Fairs & Balboa Park. Clever, no? 

san diego fair
san diego fair

The San Diego County Fair is something I've frequented ever since I was a wee lass; now it's an honored tradition with my boyfriend. We go at least once a year & 2015 was our third year. The Fair opened on June 5 & its last day is July 5. The Fair is closed Mondays as well as the first two Tuesdays. There's so much to do but not much time to do so!

san diego fair
san diego fair

It's nostalgic traipsing around, eyeing the carnival rides, & looking at all the amusing games to play. There's the hoop toss or basketball throw or that thing where you shoot a squirt gun at a target. You can win enormous stuffed animals of Minions (it's so fluffy I'm going to die!!!) , Pokémon, giant donuts or whatever your heart desires. 

san diego fair
san diego fair

Of course it wouldn't be the County Fair if you didn't indulge in a little junk food. It's known for its plethora of fried foods. This time we only got a seemingly simple yet sinfully satiating cinnamon roll smothered in cream cheese frosting. In other years I tried fried Oreos. I was surprised that they actually were pretty appetizing. Obviously, fair food isn't something to indulge in on the regular, but at the fair it's absolutely worth a shot. 

san diego fair
san diego fair

Take a spin at the crazy rides. Look at the different animals. Jam out to the live bands. Peruse the woodworking. Browse the gallery of paintings & photography. The Fair is basically a museum, amusement park, & food court all at once with a tiny hint of Disneyland to do your share of people watching. I love seeing all the old couples holding hands, the middle school kids with their crew, & the parents pushing around a stroller while simultaneously chasing after their rambunctious toddler. 

san diego fair
san diego fair

The Fair is a longstanding tradition in San Diego. Tickets are $15 but there are a variety of deals if you know where to look. One of my favorite things to do is head over to SD Fair on Friday for the Friday Night Funnies, a comedy show. Do you have a fair local to you? What's it called? What's your favorite thing to do? Which of these photos is your favorite? :]

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Carmen's Summer Mini Giveaway! (Closed)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Giveaway time!! I just wanted to do a mini giveaway for my dear readers!! This is open to everyone located in the United States, as this is not a sponsored post. These were purchased by me & postage will be paid by me. Sorry international friends. :[ Simply enter via the Rafflecopter box down below. This is a mini giveaway but a giveaway none the less! You'll win a pair of Forever 21 chevron cutout hoop earrings as well as a cool arrow necklace! :]

arrow necklace

arrow necklace

chevron hoops

What you'll win:
+ Arrow necklace. Chain necklace with arrow pendant. High polish finish. Lobster clasp. Lightweight.
+ Chevron cutout hoops. Pair of faceted hoops featuring cutout chevron pattern. Post backs. High polish finish. Medium weight.

1. Please enter by choosing one, any or all of the options below.
2. To enter, you must be located in the U.S.A.
3. No giveaway accounts.

This summer giveaway ends at 12 a.m. on July 3.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for reading & supporting my blog. I love hearing from all of you. Writing has always been a passion of mine & it's so wonderful to share my world with you. I thank you for reading, following along, adding your insight, & simply being there for the ride. Stay tuned for more! :]

Please answer me this: what's something you'd like to see/see more of on the blog? :]

FAR Botanicals Verde Hair Oil Sampler Set Review

Monday, June 22, 2015

Let's talk about hair oils. Hair oils; not oily hair, silly! Hehe. Today I'm partnering with FAR Botanicals, a cruelty free & sustainable company, to review their Verde Oil Supreme 8 Scent Sampler Set*. According to the FAR Botanicals site, products are 95 - 100% natural, naturally-derived, or organic. I dig it.

far botanicals

FAR Botanicals sent me the Verde Oil Supreme 8 Scent Sampler Set to experiment with. The set retails at $44, so about $5.50 per vial; it includes eight, 2 dram (7.4 ml, because I have no idea what a dram is) dropper bottles with the following artisan scents: Blood Orange & Patchouli Musk, Cocoa & Rum, Lavender Absolute, Lilikoi (Passion Flower), Low Scent, Rose Rapture, Temple Hymn, & Vanilla Narcotique.

far botanicals

How to apply it:
Place several drops of your Verde Oil Supreme of choice onto your hand. Rub hands together & apply to your hair. The oils can be used on dry or wet hair. Mix scents to create your own personal blend. This application method can be used as a hair gloss, to retain moisture, or even to create a hair perfume.

far botanicals

Thoughts after first use:
The vials are small & perfect to bring with you whilst traveling. The dropper bottle helps curb any mess. You can monitor how much or little oil to use. No mess. No spills. Scents are strong but not overwhelming. Helped tame my fly aways.

far botanicals

Thoughts after using for a few weeks:
The scents are rad. Rose Rapture, Lavender Absolute, Lilikoi, as well as Blood Orange & Patchouli Musk are my favorite. I have fun pretending I'm a scientist, mixing the scents to create my own concoction. I can noticeably tell it smoothes my hair, makes it look glossier & more put together. It softens the look of my split ends. I used the Verde Oils instead of CHI Silk Infusion, which I've used for years. Only 3-5 drops are necessary, so these will last you a good chunk of time. Use anymore than that & your hair oil will make your hair oily indeed!

far botanicals

Okay now the question is: would I purchase this myself? Here are things to consider: this is a small business. Everything is handcrafted. It's not a giant, mass produced corporation. Items are mostly natural & organic. You pay for quality my friends. Plus, you don't have to buy the $44 Verde Oil Supreme Set; you can purchase individual oils at $5.75 a pop or find other items from the FAR Botanicals line. I really liked these & will continue to use them.

FAR Botanicals is in the process of launching a special pre-order event for full size bottles of their hair oil. If you're interested you may pre-order here. Use code SERUM15 for 15% off your own Sampler Set! :]


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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from FAR Botanicals in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

Dark vs. Light || A poem

Friday, June 19, 2015

Look, I don't want to see you
in any kind of vision.
You're haunting, taunting my mind
treating it like a prison.
Well, let me tell you something
you probably ought to know.
You executed me once,
Truth is you softened the blow.
I dream about it often:
I'm flying high in the air,
escaping from what kills me,
but you greet me with despair.
Seems it's inevitable
that you'd stir up a terror.
Karma will get you, I know.
Call it trial & error.
I admit there's no denying
You may have won the first fight
That was then, this is now &
darkness always falls to light.
I am illuminated
by the ghost of the prior.
Consider me as a sun
Burning noble ball of fire.
I shall triumph past darkness,
shining like the brightest star.
My journey doesn't stop here
I'll continue to go far.
Bid adieu to all evil,
the wicked & the corrupt.
This is a revolution;
The intent is to disrupt
you from your malignant plot.
One sip from the holy grail
& it acknowledges that
the good will always prevail.

A poem by Carmen Varner

ferris wheel


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Julep Gel Eye Glider Review

Thursday, June 18, 2015

They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but girls have a lot of best friends & one of them is makeup. I have a couple makeup staples -- mascara & lipstick -- but eyeliner is close on the list because it tends to add a lot of dimension & personality. Today's review is a product I received in my Glossybox: the Julep Gel Eye Glider in Smoky Plum.

julep gel eye glider

Let me begin my saying I subscribed to Glossybox for 6 months at $20 per box back in December. I found a few items I adore. However, I have since unsubscribed. Too often do I receive items that aren't for me. But that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

julep gel eye glider

Okay, now back to talking about the Julep Gel Eye Glider. This product retails at $12.80. The packaging makes the Smoky Plum color appear quite purple. Once you swatch it the shade turns out to be kind of a musky midnight blue with purple flecks. It's mildly purple & not going to give the look of bold lilac around your eyes. In sunlight you can see more of the purple hue.

julep gel eye glider
Smoky Plum Julep Gel Eye Glider in natural light

julep gel eye glider
Smoky Plum Julep Gel Eye Glider in sunlight
A selling point for me was the fact that it's paraben free, sulfate free, & cruelty free. I am trying to make the switch to natural, plant based, cruelty free products. The Julep gel eye liner applies smoothly & beautifully, like butter. No dragging or pulling here.

The waterproof eye glider sets within 30 seconds or so. If you want to blend it to create a smoky eye, you may have some trouble. Once applied & dry, it has a powerful lasting power. It will stay through your day with minimal smudging. I have oily lids so that's something to keep in mind. If your lids are oily, this product may smudge sooner than its "clinically proven to last for 10+ hours" claim. After a few hours & some rubbing, the color isn't as vibrant but it's still quite impressive.

julep gel eye glider

You need a standard sharpener to make the tip fine, as it wears down pretty easily. They weren't kidding when they named this liner as a "glider." The product glides on no problem. I've only used a handful of Julep products, but they tend to be winners in my book. I've learned to love this eye glider & I like the softness of the smoky plum compared to a harsh black.

How does the Julep Gel Eye Glider sound? What do you think of Julep products? Do you receive Glossybox or any type of subscription box? Let me know below! :]

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8 Tips to Help You Land a Job Interview

Monday, June 15, 2015

Getting a job can be an arduous task. There's the résumé, the applying, the job interview, & then finally, obtaining a job. It may take several résumé drafts, hundreds of applications, & countless interviews to finally nail a career. Keep trying. It's a rough world out there, but the only person standing in your way is you. You can do it. Try & try & then try again. Take a look at these tips on how to land a job interview & see what you can work on. :]

land a job interview

This is a photo of my very first day as social media director. After applying, I got a call for an interview. I went in a couple days later for the interview & then got a call I landed the job! These tips on how to get a job interview are based on personal experience, the experience of others, research, & common knowledge. I hope you get the career of your dreams. :]

1. Change the verbs on your résumé - Instead of boring words like "helped" or "created," switch the verbs to something more powerful. "Spearheaded" & "maximized" sound superior. Hopefully you already have a résumé. If not, you really need to do that. Reference 185 Powerful Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome for some word inspiration.

2. Research the company - Sending a general email with your résumé won't help you stand out. Do your research on the company. Learn the basics & then some. Yep, that takes time but that could help land you an interview & possibly a job. Who is the CEO? What does the company do? Check out their social media pages to understand their everyday presence. Add some of those details into your initial query.

3. Do a mock interview - Practice your skills answering job-related questions. Take a look at 100 Potential Interview Questions & then create some answers. Have a friend or family member randomly pick questions for a mock interview. Do your best to answer them appropriately. Practicing can alleviate some of the stress & help you appear more put together in emails, phone conversations, & once you head to the real interview.

4. Apply, apply, apply - Cast a wide net. Don't apply to your one dream job & call it a day. Apply to many jobs & then apply to some more. Check multiple websites to view their available job options. Try CareerBuilderCraigslistIndeedMonster, & even browse your own city's job boards. 

land a job interview

5. Use your connections - Ask friends or family if they know of any gigs. Post a Facebook status with your qualifications. "Hey friends. I'm looking for a job in the social media, writing, or editing field. Please message me if you know of anything." Sometimes people are aware of things that you never thought of. Doesn't hurt to try.

6. Clean up your social media profiles - Employers will undoubtedly search for your online presence. Make sure your Facebook profile is private. You may want to temporarily make your Instagram & Twitter accounts private as well. If not, delete those crazy party Facebook photos & profanity ridden Tweets. Your would-be boss may see them & choose to interview another applicant instead. Delete, edit, or make your social media profiles private.

7. Follow up - Did you apply to a job last week & never heard anything back? Email your contact once more with a follow up. It shows perseverance & your proactive attitude. Obviously, don't hound them or be obnoxious. Inquire about the status of your application, thank them for their time, & that's it. Just one follow up email will do.

8. Try something new - If you're still having a hard time landing an interview, you should think outside the box. Do something offbeat compared to what you've been doing. Maybe you need to reformat your résumé, search for a job on foot rather than online, or redo your cover letter. Don't give up!

Finding a job is no easy task, but with a little elbow grease & some tips to help you, you can land a job interview in no time. Which of these tricks can you achieve today? Which was the most helpful? What's your #1 piece of advice on how to get a job interview? Please share your experience! :]

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Gypsy Den Alternative Cafe: A Vegetarian Haven

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hey & happy Friday everyone! I'm super thrilled share my Gypsy Den adventure with you. I was invited to taste some of their excellent vegetarian foods while I was visiting Santa Ana, CA. I am always on the lookout for vegetarian & vegan-friendly dining because I dislike heading out to eat only to find one measly option. Lucky for me, Gypsy Den had several dishes to pick from.

gypsy den

gypsy den

Gypsy Den is an alternative coffeehouse & eatery located in the heart of downtown Santa Ana; they also have Costa Mesa & Anaheim locations to choose from. While I was visiting the Gypsy Den, I met with Brittney, the district manager, & Kris, the chef. Brittney told me they were in the midst of rebranding the stores & revamping the menus. Both Kris & Brittney are quite new to the Gypsy Den family but clearly knew their stuff.

gypsy den
gypsy den
Click photo to get a better look at the menu. :]
I walked in & saw a vast space filled with an eclectic & eye-catching array of art. The ceilings were high & the walls were painted a bold maroon hue. You could spend hours staring at the walls as if it were a museum full of paintings, pictures, & prints. The ambiance is such that you can bring your laptop & get to work, slowing sipping on coffee. We had the option to sit inside or outside, & given that it was a delightful Southern California day, I chose outside.

gypsy den

Brittney recommended Taylor's Tonics Chai Cola, a soda with black tea, ginger root, & cinnamon bark. Consider it pure heaven, a blissful mixture of chai tea & cola. She also suggested the XTZ Tea, which she described as the original Red Bull. These drinks are $3 a piece.

gypsy den

XTZ Tea contains caffeine & herbs such as ginseng, guarana, maté, botanical herbal black & green tea extracts, & more. I preferred the Chai Cola & my boyfriend, Fred, said "the XTZ tea was better than any energy drink I've ever tried." I'm not the biggest fan of energy drinks so Chai Cola was a clear winner.

gypsy den

First up on the taste test menu was the Crispy Eggplant with pickled beech mushrooms, jalapenos, hummus, & potato chips. The lemony hummus & pickled mushrooms supplied a tart kick, while the crunch from the eggplant & potato chips gave you just the right amount of texture. This dish had immense flavor & dimension. Crispy Eggplant will cost you $12.

gypsy den

After the first appetizer, Brittney brought out Ruby Slipper #2 which is a cocktail of grapefruit, basil leaf, & brut. The Slipper is refreshing, zesty, & goes down easy. The portion is small but satisfactory with the right amount of sweetness. This cocktail is $7.

gypsy den

Next, we noshed on the Grilled Cheese with tomato jam & aged cheddar with a side of potato tots. The tots were crispy & plump. I am not a fan of tomato whatsoever, but the kick of the tomato jam left me wanting more. It's as good as it can ever get. Side note: we didn't finish the grilled cheese & tots, so I ended up munching on them later that evening in the hotel room. Score! Grilled Cheese runs for $9.

gypsy den

Lastly, we ate the Roasted Cauliflower Steak with roasted baby carrots, carrot puree, celery, & red hot sauce. I was the most impressed with this dish, as it included an innocent variety of ingredients that turned into a feisty & delicious meal. I enjoyed the slight charring on the cauliflower, the sweetness of the carrot & carrot puree, & the bite from the celery. This dish is $14 & well worth it. Fred & I both deemed the Roasted Cauliflower Steak our favorites.

gypsy den

I wish I had enough room in my crowded stomach to try a dessert for you guys, but alas I'd already eaten too much. I'll save that for next time. Gypsy Den is unlike your regular cafe where items seem bland & sit out for hours at a time. Chef Kris brings personality to each dish & he plates them beautifully. You are getting quality, gourmet food for the price you pay.

What do you think of Gypsy Den? Anything look particularly tasty? Let me know in the comments! :]

You may find Gypsy Den: 
125 North Broadway 
Santa Ana, CA 92701 
(714) 835-8840 


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* Disclaimer: Everything was received complimentary from Gypsy Den in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

Apple Blossoms & Florals // OOTD

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Mixing prints can be a daunting task. Every time I see someone pull it off it inspires me to do the same, so I tried my very best. I dusted off a vintage dress I bought at the thrift store several years back. It's been a favorite of mine; I've nearly worn it to death. 

apple blossoms ootd

apple blossoms ootd

There's something so satisfactory about having a piece of clothing else has. Forever 21 is great for basics & staples, but sometimes you walk down the street & see two girls with your same cardigan. After one too many washes, my dress shrunk to an "I can see your butt cheeks" degree. It was then that I decided to make a change, switch it up.

apple blossoms ootd

apple blossoms ootd

I layered the vintage floral dress with an open back Chloe K crop top I got from Nordstrom Rack a couple years ago. That way I could pull the dress down slightly to cover my bum. Yippee! I figured the prints were small enough that the combination wasn't a complete eyesore. The Chloe K apple blossom crop, the tiny yellow floral dress, & the black backgrounds of each made a sensible mixture.

apple blossoms ootd

apple blossoms ootd

apple blossoms ootd
Dress: Vintage // Top: Nordstrom Rack  // Boots: my grandma // Bracelet: Claire's // Ring: Local shop

After my Nana passed away last July, all her stuff had to be sorted through, tossed, donated, or taken. I took many of her clothes, shoes, & jewelries to keep her memory alive. The funky boots are hers. These photos were taken in Santa Ana on my weekend trip. It's nice to get away for a bit, especially since I had a pretty packed adventure. 

What do you think of mixing prints? Did I pull it off? Would you try out this trend? Do you wear any of your older relatives' clothes? :]

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A Weekend Getaway: Costa Mesa & Santa Ana

Monday, June 08, 2015

Instill a little adventure into your life & get away to a nearby city. I ventured to Costa Mesa & Santa Ana, CA. for a couple of events. The two cities are about 60+ miles away from home, so the journey only took around an hour to get to. Take a look at my weekend in photographic form!


We headed out on Friday & had some time to spare before my late lunch collaboration with Gypsy Den. Stay tuned later this week for a full feature review on this cool coffeehouse & eatery! With an extra hour to explore, we found parking in downtown Santa Ana & went to Native Son Alehouse for a brewski. 

skateboard decks

outside seating

They had a bunch of different brews on tap & a nice open second-story patio with a view of the downtown street below. The turnout was quite mild on Friday, but when we went again on Saturday for East End Block Party, hosted by Top Acid, & it was absolutely jampacked with a line out the door. On Friday, I got the Anniversary Ale from my own personal favorite brewery, Lost Abbey.

 rock n roll

After a beer & after Gypsy Den we had plans to see Nadastrom play at The Wayfarer. The Wayfarer is a trendy bar with a stage & full food menu. There was plenty of room to eat at the booths, sit by the bar, or lounge near the stage. The environment was friendly & loud. Eventually a dance circle formed; it was fun & humorous to watch. Nadastrom included some trippy visuals to watch on the TVs -- Disney, pizza, robots, & various clips peppered the screens. Events at The Wayfarer are for those aged 21+.

santa ana graffiti
live graffiti

On Saturday, we attended East End Block Party in downtown Santa Ana for a cool mixture of vintage boutiques, live bands, graffiti artists, & more. There was an array of people from families with children, young teens in love, & senior citizens with fluffy dogs. I ended up buying some $1 records: Marvin Gaye's Dream of a Lifetime, Crosby, Stills & Nash's Daylight Again,  Ice T's VI: Return of the Real, & a few more!

santa ana car show

It was an eventful weekend to say the least, but it's nice to be back home. Travel will give you a plethora of experiences & the thankfulness of the comfort that is your own bed. How was your weekend? Any part of my weekend that looked particularly fun? What's your favorite thing about travel? :]

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