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


Style Trends I'm Really Digging

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Trends come & go, but style is forever.  After all, style trends are only as cool as you are. Wear what you like. Rock what makes you feel like the badass you are. Out of all the trends out there let's go over a few of my current favorites, shall we?

* This post may contain affiliate links. Some links included in this blog post are affiliate links. 


I am all about embroidery. It's so...my Nana. I love wearing her black cardigan with red embroidered flower details. Très chic. This pair of black shorts with floral embroidery is a modern take on my Nana's cardigan.

T-Shirt Dress

I've been rocking my grey t-shirt dress from Cotton On for a couple years now. I wore mine here, here, here, here, & here. Clearly, I wear it a lot. I'm due for a new one any day now. The grey Tina t-shirt dress (also from Cotton On) might be the best alternative.


I'm totally into hats, wide-brimmed hats, dad hats, you name it. I have a whole hat wall. Ooopsie. For sun protection & general awesomeness, you know? Catch me wearing my alien hat here. It mixes embroidery with hats which is a double style trend. Opt for a pink dad hat with rose embroidery or a blue denim-looking hat with a sweet pineapple.

Velvet Shoes

I wore my black velvet boots until they went extinct. Catch me sporting them here, here, & 3x here. I bought some sexy grey velvet boots a few months ago. They look gorgeous. But these blush pink Sam Edelman booties look pretty fab.

Pins & Patches

I bought a sweet jacket with patches. I love the versatility of the color & the quirkiness of the patches. You can personalize any garment! Jazz up an old pair of jeans or patch your purse. The options are limitless. I added pins & patches to an oversized denim-esque cardigan. Start off with a pack of assorted patches. I also add the NASA patch my sister gave me; she worked there for two summers, which is pretty cool.

Rimless Sunglasses

I couldn't get into the rimless sunglasses trend until recently. They're funky. They're bold. They're so me! They make a statement, but you can tone them up or down.

Which is your favourite trend? What are you into? Leave a comment below! :]

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

Two Simple Drink Swaps to Help You Cut Down Your Sugar Intake

Saturday, April 22, 2017

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

It's pretty amazing how quickly sugar can add up without even realizing it's there. There's sugar in your ketchup. There's sugar in your sports drink. There's sugar in your tomato sauce. Sugar is everywhere! After monitoring my sugar intake I realized there were a couple easy ways that I could cut down on sugar without feeling like I deprived myself. Both are pretty simple swaps!

Swap Cream & Sugar with Milk

I used to love cream & sugar in my coffee. It was part of my lifestyle. It was something I did without thinking. Just for kicks, I took a moment to measure how much I put in my coffee & was pretty surprised. I realized there was room for improvement & it was one of the easiest swaps I could possibly make.

I tried to just have black coffee, but it's simply not for me. I cringe with every sip. I experimented & found what worked for me. Now I simply add a splash of almond milk to my coffee — okay, two large splashes. It cuts out bitterness & tastes delightful. Pro tip: you could also add cinnamon or nutmeg to add more flavor. I don't even miss the cream & sugar.

Swap Sugary Drinks with Stevia-Based Beverages

I'm not a huge soda drinker but I love it as a treat from time to time, especially root beer! I keep a couple cans of Zevia, a sugar free soda made with stevia leaf, in the refrigerator if I feel like having something sweet. Zevia feels strongly about reducing sugar consumption, using clean ingredients, & creating delicious & refreshing beverages. 

Zevia is sweetened with stevia. Stevia is related to the sunflower family & provides 200 times the sweetness of sugar. It has no caloric value nor does it raise blood sugar levels. And guess what? Zevia is clear in color, non-GMO project verified, vegan, kosher, & gluten-free. 

Choose from other flavours like Black Cherry, Cream Soda, Grape, & even Dr. Zevia. I tried a couple different flavors but this Ginger Root Beer is my number one choice. I couldn't taste the ginger but Fred said he could. I feel so much better knowing that I'm not drinking 36 grams of sugar in one can.  Instead, there's absolutely none! The stevia gives it a unique but delicious flavor.

These swaps are super simple but effective. How do you cut down on sugar? Browse the Zevia store locator to find where you can buy some. And don't forget to enter to win your own Zevia six pack with my Instagram giveaway!

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

Time Management Tips for Bloggers

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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

As a social media & blogging professional who makes money at home, I need to maximize my time without getting distracted. I can't waste time hopping from room to room searching for a signal, pleading with the Internet faeries to do their magic. I can't waste time using old, slow equipment. I can't waste time moving back & forth between tasks because I didn't plan out my day. I've come up with my go-to time management tips for bloggers & those working from home! Check it out!

1. Use Quality Equipment

My laptop is less than two years old. My camera & lenses are around the same age. My iPhone 6 is from 2016. I need all these things to function as a blogger. I made sure to invest in myself in order to create a better business. I remember how excruciatingly slow the photo editing process was with my old (eight-year-old) laptop. Eliminate the struggle by using quality equipment.

2. Upgrade Your Wi-Fi

Picture this: you're sitting at home working on a deadline, furiously typing away on your laptop. Your Wi-Fi signal flickers weakly then disappears into the abyss. Connection lost. How are you supposed to get your work done now?

I recently installed the all-new Deco M5 Wi-Fi system from TP-Link which covers my whole home with an interactive Internet access, allowing me to surf the web, stream to my devices, & download on a safe, reliable connection. Yippee! Set up was super simple using the TP-Link Deco app. After all, they're the word's #1 consumer Wi-Fi brand.

TP-Link HomeCare has robust parental controls. You can manage & monitor allowance & access, regardless of the application or URL, even when you aren't home. Genius. Although I don't have kids, this is perfect for when Fred's 7-year-old niece comes to visit. Her mom can feel comfortable knowing we can apply the same house rules to our home too. Deco M5 is a whole-home Wi-Fi!

3. Plan Your Day

Write a list of everything that you need to do. Organize it in order of importance. Identify your goals for the day. Write everything out so you can keep yourself accountable. I jot down tasks in my planner as soon as I receive an email, get a campaign update, or follow up with a client. I noticed that since investing in a planner, I've been more efficient & less all over the place.

4. Time Block Your Tasks

What is time blocking? Time blocking is a strategy to help maximize your time, increase productivity, & give you better structure by blocking out specific sets of time for each task.  I like to do 30-minute or 60-minute blocks, depending on the amount of work or concentration needed. This allows me to set time aside to work on a variety of things without feeling like I missed something. I can always go back & apply another 30-60 minute chunk of time when needed.

5. Batch Similar Tasks Together

My work from home time usually revolves around one of the following categories: writing, photographing, editing, coaching, social media, & sending emails. That said, I can use my planner & time blocking skills to get these tasks done in batches. I'll send out follow up emails to my coaching clients for a 30-minute block of time. I'll edit photos for three different blog posts in a 60-minutes block of time, etc. When applicable & feasible, batch similar tasks together.

Quality equipment & a fast Internet connection are the cornerstones to my time management. Without those, planning my day, time blocking my tasks, & batching similar tasks together wouldn't even be possible.

The Deco M5 Wi-Fi system gives me seamless & secure internet, so I can spend more time actually working — rather than trying to reset my Wi-Fi, unplug the router, & again, beg the internet faeries to do me a solid.

What are your time management tips? :]

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

March Blogging Income Report - $691.77

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Another month has come & gone. You know what that means: time for my March blogging income report. I'm excited to say March was my best month of 2017 (so far). I really hope to break the $1,000 threshold sometime soon. Let's look at this month's numbers.


Blog Sponsor - $5
Coaching - $280
Linqia Referrals - $20
Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts - $384.77
ShopStyle Collective - $2
Total - $691.77


itsCarmen.com Influencers - $5
PayPal Fees - $9.05
Product Purchases - $51.84
Total - $65.89


Net Total - $625.88

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

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

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

March was pretty slow as far as sponsored posts. I had one paid Instagram photo with Secret Squirrel. Their cold brew coffees are scrumptious, so of course I was down to work with them! I also got paid for my January post, A Super Delicious Vegan Edamame Dip Recipe with Best Foods. 

I published a couple sponsored posts in March (5 Steps to the Perfect Date Night & I'm Going to KAABOO Del Mar (Again!)), but I won't get paid for them until April/May. I'll include them in my income reports as they come in.

I mentioned a couple sponsored posts with Linqia in my previous income reports, so a few people signed up with them. I make $5 if someone is accepted into the network (not everyone gets in). Thanks to Linqia's referral program I earned $20. 

This month was all about coaching, something I started in January. As a coach, I work with people one-on-one to better their blogs, their social media presence, & their brands. I'm excited to make this a regular part of my income!

I will continue to include coaching & paid social media posts in my blogging income report because if it weren't for my blog I wouldn't have those opportunities in the first place. I've learned the necessity of dabbling in multiple avenues. 

Do you want to start making your first dollars as a blogger? I can help! I'm a social media professional & a blogger with over 4 years of experience. I offer consulting & coaching for bloggers & influencers who want to step up their game, grow their brand, enhance their social media channels, & starting making some money. Please contact me for price quotes or if you have questions.

More Income Reports:

February 2017 Blogging Income Report

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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. :]

Turning 27 + Reflections on Being 26

Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's my 27th birthday! I wasn't that impressed with my 26th year of life until I took a moment to reflect. I browsed through my photos, read some blog posts, & got to thinking about everything I did as a 26-year-old. Once I did that I impressed myself.

Last year I talked about My Birthday Weekend + Thoughts on Turning 26. I said that aging is a blessing because it means that we're still alive, we're still kicking, we're still existing. It's something I still believe in as I turn 27. That said, I want to share some of my proudest moments as a 26-year-old!

Paid campaign with thredUP

Here's what I did at age 26:

Paid campaign with Truvia

Paid campaign with Taboo FX

At age 26, I was paid to promote shows like Timeless NBC & Taboo FX.

At age 26, I worked with Southern California eateries & breweries such as The Cellar, Aftershock Brewing Co., La Quinta Brewing Co., Ernest Coffee, & more in exchange for a blogpost.

Traveled to Portland, Oregon

At age 26, I created content on my blog for brands like Field Roast, Veeda, California Fruit Wine Co., & Third Wave Coffee Tours.

Content creation with Third Wave Coffee Tours

At age 26, I had my first press stay at Empress La Jolla.

At age 26, I visited explored U.S. states: California (duh), Arizona, & Oregon.

Here's to age 27 & everything it will bring. I'll be heading to Paris, France in a matter of weeks. Then I'll jet off to London later this year. I'm excited to make travel a large part of my life. Age 26 gave me my first dollars from blogging, my first dollars from my social media channels, & my first dollars as a blogging/social media coach. 

I'm thrilled to see where 27 will take me & I hope to have you there for the ride. Follow along on my journey through life & all it brings. Talk to you soon!

Cheers to age 27! :]

Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout + My Tips for Self-Care

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

This post is sponsored by Mirum Shopper but the content & opinions expressed here are my own. #FillUpToFeelGood

Taking some "me time" or time for self-care is extremely vital to one's entire well-being. Although I already knew this, I came to the realization that it was time to follow my own advice. As I worked on enhancing my blog, growing my social media channels, & starting up my coaching business, I found that I was working around the clock.

I answered emails at 11 p.m. I got the distinctive ping of a Facebook message at 2 a.m. I worked on a sponsored post in the morning & then prepared for my coaching session in the afternoon, only to have dinner plans with a friend in the evening. I kept buzzing around until a couple days ago when I felt completely burned out.

I physically & mentally couldn't do anything even though I had an endless task list. I decided to take a day off to boost my morale. Keep reading to find out my tips on how to avoid blogger burnout! Hint: it includes Netflix & green tea.

1. Sleep In

After so many mornings of getting up at 6:45 a.m. I allowed myself to get a little extra sleep. Don't start off a new day tired & unprepared. Those extra moments of shut eye helped me feel rested & ready to crush the day! After constant hustling & bustling, it doesn't hurt to get a few extra winks.

2. Exercise

I was so busy that I completely forgot to take care of myself. To eliminate blogger burnout, I started to regularly integrate exercise into my life, even if only for 20 minutes. I know myself & understand that I'm pretty aimless at the gym, so I usually opt for workout videos on YouTube. They get me moving, sweating, & elevate my heart rate. I always feel better after a workout!

3. Set Business Hours

Three unread emails loomed in my inbox. Five Facebook messages sat unread. My social media notifications grew out of control. A friend texted me to ask a couple of social media questions. I couldn't take it anymore. The around-the-clock work didn't look good on me. I decided to set some business hours for myself. No more constant work. No more blogger burnout.

4. Unwind

I put my phone on airplane mode & made myself a cup of tea — two, actually. Sometimes there's nothing more uplifting than a warm mug of tea, & that's a fact. I went to Alberstons to stock up on some Lipton Green Tea & Lipton Green Tea Purple Acai Blueberry. I like to add a bit of "vitali-tea" to my every day. I'm sipping on some right now. Lipton's green teas allow me to stop, reset, & enjoy a moment to myself when things get hectic. I love the ritual of sip, sip, sipping as I wind down.

5. Treat Yo' Self

Now's the time to catch up on the latest episode of my favorite show. Let's be real, I know I'll just watch Friends on Netflix for the billionth time. I took some time to plan my next vacation — Paris. I drank my Lipton Green Tea Purple Acai Blueberry, listened to music, & helped my boyfriend, Fred, come up with his top 25 must-see Paris attractions. I finally had a chance to paint my nails a nice pastel blue for spring. I finally read my 3-month-old magazine because that's how behind I am! T'was a great day.

Blogger burnout is a real thing & should be treated with self-love & care. The smooth great taste & refreshing aroma of green tea inspires me to take a moment to feel good! Don't forget to stock up at your local Albertsons with $1 off Lipton Green Tea & let me know how it helps you #FillUpToFeelGood

What flavor would you like to try? How do you beat blogger burnout? :]

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

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: A Travel Guide

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city in the Pacific Northwest known for its parks, bridges, microbreweries, coffee houses, & eco-friendliness. My pro tip: visit in fall so you can see just how glorious it can be.

Consult this two-day guide if you want to experience all the Portland essentials within 48 hours or less (but you should stay longer if you can :] ). 

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Day One in Portland:

9 a.m. - Grab a coffee & pastry from the closest cafe to where you're staying. There are so many delicious patisseries in Portland, you can't go wrong. Try the Tarte Abricot Amande at St. Honoré Boulangerie or the almond croissant at Ken's Artisan Bakery. *Instagram-friendly spot!

10 a.m. - Make your way to Waterfront Park for some remarkable river views. Walk the path as you digest your breakfast & take in the fresh air. *Personal Favorite

11 a.m. - Head to Portland Saturday Market, which opens at 10 a.m. Browse through the vendors & see if anything catches your eye. Grab lunch while you're there. We got some amazing perogies from the Polish food cart.

1 p.m. - Spend the afternoon exploring Lan Su Chinese Garden, one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China. The garden melds art, architecture, design, & nature in serene harmony. Tickets are $9.50 for adults. *Personal Favorite & Instagram-friendly spot!

2:30 p.m. - Still hungry? Stop by Alder Street Food Cart Pod or Bamboo Sushi for a bite to eat. Both had a respectable amount of vegetarian options.

3:30 p.m. - Make sure to carve out some time for Powell's City of Books. You won't want to miss this gargantuan book store. It's more of an experience than a store, really. We grabbed a couple books & some souvenirs. *Personal Favorite & Instagram-friendly spot!

5:30 p.m. - Bring some bills & let out your inner child at Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. Play Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball, Frogger, Donkey Kong, & more.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: A Travel Guide

7:00 p.m. - Get a flight of beer at Rogue Distillery & Public House. Pickled Piper was so delicious but opt for a taster rather than a full pint. Getting a flight allows you to sample a variety of the house beers.

8:30 p.m. - Stand in line & nab a pizza slice at Sizzle Pie in West Portland. Grab a seat if you can or simply eat as you head to the next stop.

9 p.m. - Catch a movie at the Living Room Theaters. Seats are super comfortable & you can even drink a beer as you watch your movie. The theater is 21 & up after 7 p.m. Cinema 21 is a bit further away, but it's a great choice if you're looking for indie films. You can purchase beer or wine there too.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: Voodoo Doughnuts

11 p.m. - Voodoo Doughnut is open 24-hours a day, so avoid the massive line & go at night. The Voodoo Doll doughnut is iconic, but I recommend the Memphis Mafia doughnut with its banana chunks & cinnamon, covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts, & chocolate chips. The sign looks better at night anyway. *Instagram-friendly spot!

How to Spend 2 days 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: coffee cupping

Day Two in Portland:

9 a.m. - Sip on some of Portland's famous coffee. There's Coava Coffee RoastersStumptown Coffee Roasters, & so many other options. Check a map to find one close to you. Bonus option: go for tea at Steven Smith Teamaker*Instagram-friendly spot!

10 a.m - Breakfast begins at Blue Star Donuts. Yes, donuts again! I went to Blue Star in the afternoon on two different days & they were either closed or sold out. Go in the morning. The longer you're in line, the better everything looks. We got the Raspberry Rosemary Buttercream & the Meyer Lemon & Key Lime Custard donuts. *Instagram-friendly donuts!

11 a.m. - The Portland Japanese Garden is a haven of beauty dedicated to authentic Japanese garden design. You can visit the International Rose Test Garden for free. Pittock Mansion is nearby & worth seeing.

2 p.m. - Time for some grub. Get ice cream at Ruby Jewel or Salt & Straw. Get a flight of beer & a cup of beer cheese soup at Cascade Brewing Barrel House. Eat the veggie bagel sandwich at Petunia's Pies & Pastries. Loads of tasty options in Portland. Lots of food options if you're staying 48 hours in Portland, Oregon!

3 p.m. - Head back into town & explore the Portland Art Museum. Tickets are $19.99 per adult, which is a bargain if you're an art lover. This may be the perfect place to spend the afternoon if it's particularly rainy or glum outside. Make sure to check museum hours. They close at 5 p.m. every day besides Thursday & Friday.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: Keep Portland Weird Sign

5 p.m. - Snap a selfie at the Keep Portland Weird mural on 3rd Street between Burnside & Ankeny before it gets dark. *Instagram-friendly spot!

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: 2 Days in Portland White Stag Sign

6 p.m. - After you're done at the mural, walk the Burnside Bridge to check out the White Stag sign. You only need to walk halfway across the bridge to land a good photo. The sign looks better at night. *Personal Favorite & Instagram-friendly spot!

6:30 p.m. - You've had a long weekend & your trip is winding down. Kells Irish Pub is one of my favorite spots in Portland. Sip on one of their house-made brews & stay for dinner. Their fries are definitely in my top 10 fries EVER. Decent amount of vegetarian options too! *Personal Favorite

How to Spend 48 Hours in Portland, Oregon: 2 Days in Portland

8 p.m. - The night is young. Giggle a bit at Helium Comedy Club. Listen to some tunes at the historic Crystal Ballroom. Hit up Commons Brewery. Make a pit stop at Splash Bar grab a drink & play some of their free arcade games.

Got extra time? Want to try something that's not on the list?

  1. Attend a Portland Timbers game.
  2. Spend the day at Colombia River Gorge looking at all the waterfalls & nature.
  3. Visit the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium for some oddities & curiosities.


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