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


19th Century London Slang We Should Bring Back + A Diamond Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

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

I spent the afternoon pouring over an 18th-century dictionary of heterodox, slang, & phrases. It's true, I literally read the dictionary. I found it interesting to see how many of those phrases we still use today (lovey dovey, hullabaloo, snaggle-tooth, stealing someone's thunder).

Inspired by the dark & gritty trailers for Taboo, a new show produced by Ridley Scott that premiers January 10 & stars Tom Hardy, I came up with a more historical Vocabulary Time! theme. I literally got goosebumps as I watched the trailer. Taboo looks dark, deep, & mysterious.

"Set in 1814, Taboo follows James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth & comes back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father's shipping empire & rebuild a life for himself.

But his father's legacy is a poisoned chalice, & with enemies lurking in every dark corner, James must navigate increasingly complex territories to avoid his own death sentence. Encircled by conspiracy, murder & betrayal, a dark family mystery unfolds in a combustible tale of love & treachery."

Words & phrases are so rich with history, something we rarely think about. But what about those words & phrases we never hear anymore? It's time to bring them back. Now that the mood is set, take a look at these vocabulary phrases from 19th century London.

1. Beer & skittles

Definition: pleasure, contentment
Example: Working from home isn't all beer & skittles. People tend to think you do nothing all day, which couldn't be further from the truth.

2. Postman's sister

Definition: secret informant
Example: The detectives wouldn't have found out the truth about the murder had it not been for the an anonymous letter written by the postman's sister.

3. Translate the truth

Definition: to lie evasively or in a misleading manner
Example: When asked if she had stolen the spyglass, Edith translated the truth & said she'd never seen it before in her life. The spyglass was later found in her possession.

FX Networks sent over a spyglass for me to play around with. Let me tell you, it's not easy & definitely comes with a learning curve. Walking around with it, I felt like the postman's sister or an adventurer myself. Ready to take on the world!

I bet James Keziah Delaney was a natural at using a spyglass, so I'll just have to tune in to FX Networks on January 10 to see Taboo (& Tom Hardy) in action! You also have the chance to enter to win a series of diamonds valued at over $3,000. Enter to win!

Will you tune in to watch Taboo? Which of these 19th century phrases do you like best? 

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

The Best, Most Productive Day Ever

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sometimes you need a day for self-care. One of those days where you can sleep in, put a face mask on, paint your toenails, shave your prickly legs, use some of those bath salts that have been lying under your sink for the last several months, pop in a movie, & sip on a nice glass of wine. Doesn't that sound like the best, most productive day ever?

VGS chateau potelle

Although we may need a day for self-care, we often forget to do so. I made it a high priority & took a day to simply rest & take care of myself. I flipped through a year-old issue of Martha Stewart Living that had long been ignored & deemed that moment as the perfect opportunity to test out my VGS Chateau Potelle* wines.

VGS chateau potelle

I opened up a bottle of Potelle Two 2014 as I sat on the patio waiting for my toe nail polish to dry; I painted them a beautiful burgundy with flecks of chunky glitter. The Potelle Two, a red wine blend, looked like liquid ruby as I poured it into my glass. On the palette, the wine is medium bodied with a fruity flavor & a long, dry finish. 

VGS chateau potelle

I earmarked a recipe I wanted to try then opened the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Eau de Tony. It tasted crisp & lively with its tropical fruit flavors of guava & pineapple as well as its aromas of kafir lime, wild fennel, lemongrass, & serrano pepper. The wine is named after Tony, who's been a part of the VGS family for 15 years.

VGS chateau potelle

Even though the "VGS" of VGS Chateau Potelle stands for "very good shit," the wine speaks for itself. The St. Helena, California-based winery produces about 5,000 cases a year, 95% of which goes directly to the consumer rather than a distributor. My face mask started to tingle when I noticed VGS included a wine flight tasting pass. Now that's a good excuse for a trip to Napa!

VGS chateau potelle

Out of the two wines, I preferred the red Potelle Two 2014. Although, there's potential for the Eau de Tony's flavors & aromas to develop over the next one to two years. Too bad I opened it already! In the span of an afternoon, I filed & styled my nails, painted both my fingers & toes, did a face mask, did a hair mask, shaved my legs, self-tanned, organized my makeup collection, & photographed a post. Sounds like the best, most productive day ever to me!

What's your idea of a productive day? Are you a wine fan? :]

* Disclaimer: VGS Chateau Potelle sent these wines as PR samples. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hello there! I hope your December is going wonderfully so far! We're well on our way to the new year. Can you believe it? Isn't that crazy? Pretty soon we'll jotting down our resolutions, hoping not to break them in the first weeks of year. We'll accidentally write "2016" on our papers for who knows how long until we finally catch on. But until then let's enjoy the holidays. Here's what I'm loving right now!


Bowling is fun particularly if you don't play it very often. I went to a young professional networking event & the theme was an ugly sweater party at the bowling alley. I actually got brand-new bowling shoes which was a pretty cool experience. Never been worn bowling shoes!! Do you like my Santa socks?

Secret Santa

It's rare to find a Secret Santa that gives a good gift, one perfectly tailored to you. My Secret Santa gave me limited release beers & I couldn't be happier. Just like an expensive bottle of wine, I'll have to save these for a special occasion.

Beach Days

It's practically winter & all but California doesn't know the difference, Southern California that is. You'll see your fair share of surfers this time of year, but not as many beachgoers. I love being by the coast, so I take pictures whenever I pass by.

Christmas Parties

I adore Christmas parties & the general festivities associated with this time of year. The parties are merry & bright. Fred & I joined my parents at the Christmas party at their home association clubhouse. It was filled with tasty bites & drinks.

Catching Up with Old Friends

In the past weeks I've gotten together with three of my closest friends, one of whom I hadn't seen in almost a year. It truly gives me joy when I see them & we can catch up over dinner or tea or a hike. Friends are the best!

What are you loving right now? :]

How To Be A Local Influencer & Get Invited to Events as a Blogger

Monday, December 12, 2016

In a world where bloggers are everywhere, how can you stand out? How can an influencer reach new people?

I went to an @midnight taping a couple years ago in Los Angeles & wrote about my experience. I never knew what an impact it would have on my blog.

Every day people search for @midnight related content, which leads them directly to my blog. Some of those people come to be regular readers. If you're wondering how to be a local influencer & how to get invited to events as a blogger, you've come to the right place. These are my insider tips to moving up that blogging ladder.

Get FREE access to my exclusive newsletter. 

The first thing you'll receive --->
 How to Be a Local Influencer & Get Invited to Events as a Blogger.

An Unexpected Place to Buy Your Holiday Gifts + A Giveaway (CLOSED)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

This post is sponsored by DICK'S Sporting Goods but the content & opinions expressed here are my own.

Finding gifts for others is undeniably difficult, especially since some people are hard to impress or shop for. Sometimes I'm inspired & have the perfect idea of what to get someone, but other times I'm completely at a loss. Will they like it? Will they say they like it but they really hate it? Will they use it? Will they re-gift it?

I had the opportunity to partner with DICK'S Sporting Goods to grab a couple gifts for friends & family. Upon walking in the store, I was impressed with its sheer size & range of products. It's kind of like having the entire mall in one enormous store! I used to go to DICK'S with my family during my sister's soccer & softball days, but it's not just for athletes.

DICK'S Sporting Goods has a huge variety of products. Seriously huge. The place is massive. From Apple Watches to sports bras to personalized golf balls to Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, there's genuinely something for everyone. I bought a gift for me, my boyfriend, & my sister.

I got myself a cute Under Armour Women's Power In Pink Mid Sports Bra, a Hurley Women's Dri-FIT Tank Dress for my sister, & an adidas Men's techfit Fitted T-Shirt for Fred. Not to mention, I pretty much wanted everything from the Calia line by Carrie Underwood. Whether you want a fruit infuser water bottle or some new sunglasses, there's plenty of options to choose from.

You can even do a bit of charitable good during your shopping spree. By the year 2020, 27% of U.S. public high schools won't have any sports programs. Through their #SportsMatter initiative, DICK'S is doing their part to stop this trend by raising $25 million to support youth athletics in underfunded communities.

In addition to getting all your holiday gifts, you can help save youth sports by purchasing Sports Matter green shoe laces! $2 of every purchase of the green laces goes to underfunded sports programs. Might as well shop with a cause!

Now time for a giveaway!

Giveaway Rules:
Give a gift that matters this holiday season. To enter, check out this link & leave a comment about what gift would you buy from DICK’S for your loved one. Giveaway runs until December 21st, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. PST. I will notify the winner directly on December 22nd, 2016. Entrants must be residents of the US & 18+ only. Winner will be randomly selected from comments on this blog post.

What DICK's gift would you want for yourself or want to give to a loved one? :]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Poop & Smell the Roses Toilet Bowl Freshener Review

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Let me start off by saying: we all poop. Okay now we got that out of the way, have you ever walked into a bathroom & breathed in a heinous scent? Your mouth twitches & immediately turns into a cringe. You plug your nose & frantically drag a breath through your mouth. That my friend is poop.

toilet bowl freshener

You ask yourself if it's worth it to stay in this box of fumes or if you should exit immediately. There are some cool products on the market that may assist with this dilemma. I was at the store & was immediately drawn to beautiful pink rose packaging. The bottle was colorful, whimsical, & romantic. I saw the word rosewater & got closer. What is it? Poop Culture "Before You Go" Toilet Spray Bathroom Freshener Poop and Smell the Roses.

toilet bowl freshener

As I got a closer look I realized this is no room spray or body spray, but was in fact a toilet bowl freshener also known as a poop spray. What in the world? I open it up & smelled it. It was true to its name & smelled like a delightful rose. The Poop Culture "Before You Go" Toilet Spray Bathroom Freshener Poop and Smell the Roses packaging suggests spraying about four sprays directly in the toilet water prior to pooping &/or after.

toilet bowl freshener

I must say this works quite well. PoopCulture Collection/Poop Culture's Poop and Smell the Roses toilet bowl freshener is perfect to use at home with a significant other, family, or roommates. It could genuinely help out, especially if everyone understands how to use it. Although it would be even more applicable in larger bathrooms like an office or a public restroom, it's not really feasible to explain to everyone how this works. 

toilet bowl freshener

True Story: My roommate exited the restroom & I went in to wash my face. The room smelled like fresh roses. I immediately knew that business had been done but at least the smell was quite pleasant.

It tames any poop scent, giving off a lovely rose aroma. I've heard stories of people going on first dates, where they didn't feel comfortable pooping at their date's house. This would be a lifesaver. Yes, this is a superfluous & unnecessary purchase but it's fun, the scent is spot on, & I enjoy the PoopCulture Poop and Smell the Roses toilet bowl freshener packaging.

What do you think of a toilet bowl freshener? :]

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Tips for Traveling to Portland in Fall/Autumn + What to Pack

Monday, December 05, 2016

Autumn in Portland is a beautiful sight. You'll see bold & bright trees of orange, yellow, & red. You'll spot a blanket of rainbow colored leaves on the ground, perfect for taking a selfie or Instagram shot. You'll find yourself walking in mist of rain, struggling to stay dry. On average, it rains 150 days each year in Portland, Oregon. Make sure you're prepared for your fall trip!

portland foliage

Should I Bring an Umbrella to Portland?

Although umbrellas weren't very plentiful, I did spot some people with them. You'll see online claims that using an umbrella in Portland, Oregon is the sign of the tourist, but I saw an equal amount of umbrellas from tourists & locals. It's more accurate to say that people who walk more tend to use umbrellas rather than those to have a car.

autumn leaf

Where is the Best Place to Find Fall Colors & Foliage?

Autumn in Portland is ideal for a leaf peeping! The colors are incredible. You can find some gorgeous fall foliage by simply walking the streets, especially some of the more residential areas. Washington ParkLan Su Chinese Garden, & Portland Japanese Garden were especially stunning because they're so dense with nature.

pile of leaves

What to Pack for Fall in Portland, Oregon

No trip to the Pacific northwest is complete without at least a little bit of rain, so be prepared with your fall layers such as beanies, scarves, coats, & layers of all kinds. In addition to your regular travel essentials, make sure to pack:

portland park

Comfortable/Waterproof Shoes - Make absolutely certain that your shoes are comfortable. You'll likely be walking 5+ miles per day. Your shoes get wet once it starts to rain & you find yourself stepping in puddles to make it across the street. In an ideal world your shoes should be comfortable & relatively waterproof, so your toes aren't soggy for hours at a time.

portland streets

Rain coat - Bring a raincoat or something that won't make you wet. Chances are that you'll walk in the rain at some point & you don't want to be sopping wet. This is the type of layer you can take off & set on the back of your chair to dry when you head inside to eat.

Jacket with a Hoodie or Hat/Beanie - Unless you want frizzy & poofy hair, bring a hat, beanie, or rain coat with a hood to keep your hair dry during the wet times.

Other Layers -  Stay warm with scarves, leggings, & whatever warm layers work best for you. Fall in Portland is cold but not freezing. The rain & wind are contributing factors to the temperature.

portland foliage

Check the Calendar of Events

As the temperatures start to drop, Portland's calendar fills with cultural, wine, & holiday events. Do a bit of online research to see what kind of events are happening during your stay. Whether it's Oktoberfest, a harvest festival, or even a Portland Trail Blazers game, you'll find plenty to do.

Have you visited Portland in autumn? :]

This Post is What Happens When You Have Writer's Block

Friday, December 02, 2016

I've been sitting here staring at blank screen for about an hour now. I just wasn't sure what to say. For some reason I'm suffering from a bout of writer's block. I suppose that happens from time to time. I've started several blog posts & get a couple sentences in, then change my mind & delete everything. That's how I got here.

Fred is lying next to me on the bed. We're watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a show I like to put on the background sometimes. It's perfect for when you want to tidy up the room or fold your laundry. It's also a perfect distraction, apparently.

Speaking of tidying up, I watched some Marie Kondo videos on YouTube & it struck a chord with me. I love her method of keeping items that give you joy. Fred & I were able to declutter considerably. It felt good to get rid of some of that stuff that I've been holding on. Bye bye!

latte art

I bought a really cute Betsey Johnson bag that I hope to use as a laptop case & purse for airplane flights or perhaps when Fred & I go on a weekend trip. It (very snuggly) fits my laptop & has room for other goodies. It's the perfect mix of stylish & functional!

The temperatures in San Diego have slowly begun to decline, at long last. The frigid night air makes it so I have to close the window at bedtime. Normally I like to sleep with it open, but it's simply too cold now. I'm excited! I adore cold weather since it rarely happens.

Now you can download movies & shows from Netflix to watch later. Simply open the Netflix app on your phone & go to the menu. Click on Available For Download to see what's you can download. The download stays within the app, but you can access it even on airplane mode. Watch it on the plane, train, or wherever you find yourself.

Do you get writer's block? What's on your mind? Don't worry, it's fine if you babble. :]


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