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


My Souvenirs from Paris

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ah Paris. Although my Paris trip was two months ago,  I miss it already. I miss it always. When it comes to souvenirs, I opt for the practical & functional. Something that will remind me of the city or country. Something that won't remain hidden in a closet or tucked away where I'll forget that it even exists.

A random keychain? Bumper stickers? A 97th magnet for the fridge? Nope. I thought I'd walk you through my collection of Parisian souvenirs. Everything is relatively affordable & that's the beauty of it all. I'm in love with the Balaboosté Set de Trois Bracelets Chaine Doree et Empiecements (Set of Three Gilded Bracelets). Extremely affordable, dainty, & versatile.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I've used the Eau Thermale Avène XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil a couple times & I love the simplicity. No fragrance. No dyes. No irritation. You can find Avène for only a handful of dollars in the French pharmacies.

The Yves Rocher Crayon Lèvres Éclat also called the Radiant Lip Crayon in Sable Doré is such a pretty color. It's relatively sheer but it gives you nice hint of color & shine with a subtle brown tinge to it.

I'm finishing up my current facial scrub but the Yves Rocher Sebo Végétal Purifying Scrub is next in line. I love that the brand focuses on the botanical beauty products. I wanted to buy more but I couldn't fit it all in my carry-on.

Caudalie ads were everywhere in Paris. It felt like you can see them on almost every street advertisement. I ended up getting the travel size version of the Eau Micellaire Démaquillante. I haven't used it yet as I'm finishing up my latest makeup remover, but Caudalie is next.

I am in love with the embroidered bralet from C&A. Isn't it so adorable? I featured it casually throughout these photos because it's that pretty.  Very blog-friendly, if you know what I mean. It makes me feel sexy & chic, even if I'm sitting at home in my pajamas. 

I also purchased a couple Kiko Milano mascaras: the Luxurious Lashes Maxi Brush Mascara & the Volumeyes Plus Active Mascara. The brushes attracted me, so I  threw caution to the wind & purchased both. I tried both mascaras out once & am pleased so far, but I'll have to give them more of a test later on.

If you find yourself at Kiko Milano, make sure to stock up on nail polish. The nail lacquers were extraordinarily cheap. I got a couple to that caught my eye: Smart Nail Lacquer in Caramel (40) & Cool Gold (34).

I was in desperate need of undies. With my boyfriend's wholehearted blessing, I bought a set from Oysho. It came with seven panties in a range of colors from dark blue to blush pink to nude. They're so soft & comfortable.

Which of these Paris souvenirs looks the best to you? What type of souvenirs do you get when you travel? :]

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

Real Talk: What's it Like to Be a Professional Blogger?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm writing this post in Reno, Nevada. I see a view of the mountains from the floor to ceiling window of the hotel room. Fred & I are literally in fluffy white robes, working on our laptops. I'm sitting on a king size bed with four pillows placed behind me. 

The Travel Channel plays quietly on the television in the background.  There's even a telephone & TV in the bathroom. I hear Fred typing & the subtle noise of muffled music coming from his earbuds.

My phone & camera rest beside me. My laptop sits, as per its namesake, in my lap. I'm working on a post right now. Three actually. I Air Drop a couple photos from my phone to my computer. I respond to some emails. I take a swig of coffee. 

This is what I had in mind when I thought of being a blogger, digital influencer, digital nomad, blogging + social media coach, whatever you want to call me. However, this is not my every day. After nearly 3 weeks of entrepreneurship, I'm usually at home in athleisure wear, messy hair, no make up on. 

View from the Campsite

I'm normally hunched over my laptop with a sexy view of my apartment parking lot. I adore being spoiled & traveling & enjoying afternoon hors d'oeuvres, but it's not my every day. I think it's important to say that. 

As a digital-focused society, we tend to see bits & bobs of someone's life, not knowing what happens the rest of the time. We don't often witness someone's four-day-old greasy hair or their brand new batch of pimples or their stress of negotiating with brands.

The cozy white slippers & the tasty pillow mints are super awesome & utterly appreciated. Just yesterday I was packing up my camping gear. We camped in the desert. We tossed & turned in the evening heat, then tossed & turned some more in the cool morning air.

Just yesterday there was no TV in the bathroom. There was no bathroom at all, except the portable unit about a 10-minute walk away. Just nature. Just birds chirping. Just you & the world. No pillow mints. No robes. No hors d'oeuvres. Just a browning banana, lukewarm water, & some melted chocolate granola.

Related reading: May Income Report - $1,214.20

Yesterday? Yesterday I was melting in the desert with a few fresh pimples, wearing the same clothes two days in a row. Today? Today I'm in a fluffy white robe on a king bed in an air-conditioned hotel room. Tomorrow? Well, who knows what tomorrow will bring? 

Blogging can be glamorous. Blogging can be monotonous. Blogging can be relaxing. Blogging can be stressful. Blogging can be difficult. Blogging can give you purpose. Blogging ranges day to day. That's the reality of being a blogger. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Make sure to follow along on Instagram Stories for blogging behind-the-scenes.

How does the reality of being a blogger sound to you? :]

Things To Do in Torrance, California: A 24 Hour Travel Guide

Monday, June 19, 2017

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DiscoverTorrance #CollectiveBias The following content  is intended for those 21 older. 

Photoshoot in Old Town Torrance

Sometimes all you need is a getaway. Sometimes all you need to get away is to go a little further than usual. Rather than explore our own county, Fred & I ventured up to Torrance, California for a 24-hour trip. Torrance is in the heart of Los Angeles County's South Bay, just 15 minutes south of LAX & close to many of Southern California's most popular attractions.

Flowers in Old Town Torrance

Whether you want to shop until you drop, head to the beach, or sample as many beers as your heart desires, Torrance has a range of things to do. You can easily spend a full 24 hours or weekend in town, so if you're wondering how to spend 24 hours in Torrance, you came to the right place!

12 PM

Grab a quick lunch. There are a ton of delectable eateries nearby. Torrance has a variety of international food stops like Mitsuwa Marketplace (Japanese), Habana Vieja Cuban Cuisine & Cafe (Cuban), King Mediterrano (Greek), & plenty of ramen too. 

Afternoon Stroll at El Prado Park

1 PM

Enjoy the exceptional Torrance weather & stay outside. There's no shortage of soothing views. Check out El Prado Park, Los Arboles/Rocketship ParkMadrona Marsh Nature CenterWilson Park, & more. The South Coast Botanic Garden is nearby & worth a trip. We particularly loved the Garden for the Senses section.

Two Taster Flights at The Dudes' Brewing Company

3 PM

Torrance has a popping craft beer scene. We visited The Dudes’ Brewing Company & HopSaint Brewing. I recommend getting a flight so you can test out flavors. Get a feel for a range of a brewery's beers without committing to a whole pint. There's also Monkish BrewingSmog City Brewing, & many, many more!

View of Del Amo Fashion Center

5 PM

If you want to get your shop on, visit Del Amo Fashion Center. It's absolutely enormous. Fred & I may or may not have gotten lost. Okay, we totally got lost. It's that big. It's also very pretty. I've never said a mall was pretty before, but it is. I did a mini photoshoot by a full plant wall. 

Dinner & Drinks at Brio Coastal Bar

7 PM

After you're done shopping, explore more of the food options Torrance has to offer. We enjoyed a patio dinner & drinks at Brio Coastal Bar as the sun set. Pure bliss! Or go for Great Maple right next door. Other highly rated options: Ramen Yamadaya, Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, & STACKED.

Residence Inn Los Angeles Torrance/Redondo Beach Lobby

8:30 PM

The night is yours. After all, you're within driving distance to many popular Southern California hot spots. Want to stay local? Browse the Torrance events to see what's happening. Watch a movie at AMC. Take an evening walk at Torrance Beach. Maybe you're tuckered out & simply want to rest in your hotel room, watching TV in bed. That's cool too!

A Goodie Bag from Torrance Bakery

9 AM

Sleep in, then enjoy some freshly baked goods. Stop by Torrance Bakery. Prepare to wait in a line & make sure you get a number! Taste something different & go for the Hawaiian Paradise Three layer cake from King’s Hawaiian Bakery — made of guava, passion, & lime chiffon cake filled with whipped cream & topped with guava, passion & lime fruit glaze. Heavenly.

Island of Mauritius Tea with Milk at Chado Tea Room

10 AM

Wash down your sweets with a hot cup of tea at Chado Tea Room. We randomly stumbled upon it & thought it was too cute to pass up. We got a pot of Island of Mauritius, a black tea with a pop of vanilla, but they have a thick booklet of teas to choose from.

Bee at South Coast Botanic Garden

11 AM

Got some time to spare before you head out? Spend a couple hours visiting the Chen Art Gallery, Western Museum of Flight, Torrance Art MuseumSouth Coast Botanic Garden, or maybe lurk around to find the film locations in Torrance. Torrance has been featured in movies like American Beauty, Bruce Almighty, & She's All That.

Hawaiian Paradise Three Layer Cake from King’s Hawaiian Bakery

Whether I was munching on fresh pastries, getting lost at the Del Amo Fashion Center, or relishing in the warm temperatures, I truly had a fantastic time discovering Torrance. It has a variety of things to eat, drink, see, & experience. Are you in? Explore Torrance!

Enjoying Life at South Coast Botanic Garden

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :] 

Beauty, Health, & Makeup: New Products I'm Excited About

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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

I love a good bargain. I love a good haul. I love a good bargain haul. Am I right? I mean, isn't that the most perfect combination? To achieve my bargain haul goals, I went to Grocery Outlet to see how far $25 could get me.

Grocery Outlet is genuinely one of my favorite places to shop because I can try new-to-me beauty products at a low cost. I've been a regular at Grocery Outlet for a couple of years. If I went around my house & told you where I purchased everything, a nice fraction of my possessions would honestly be from Grocery Outlet. My friend even told me, "I totally started going there because of your post! Love how they have healthy brands & basics like milk for so cheap."

Grab a cup of tea or coffee & I'll show you what I got! You can catch up on my latest hauls too: style, beauty, & homemakeup & homeperfume & candles, & candles & makeup. Safe to say, I like to try random products.

As a 27-year-old who's looking to take better care of her skin, I decided to try the Advanced Clinicals Retinol Serum. I'll let you know how it goes. I was in desperate need of a new powder, so the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Translucent Oil-Control Powder was a great purchase! I love the mosaic look.

I like experimenting with mascaras from any price range. Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara is next on the list. I have moisturizing products & I have concealer, but I didn't have anything that was a blend of the two. I opted to test out the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer Correct & Cover Pink Grapefruit in Fair to Light. It smells very grapefruit-y.

I visited the dentist a couple weeks ago & the dental hygienist told me, "floss the teeth you want to keep." To make the flossing process as convenient as possible I ended up getting the Oral-B Glide 3D White Floss Picks in Radiant Mint. So refreshing! Some of the best floss sticks I've used!

Grocery Outlet allows me to experiment with brands or products I'm not familiar with because they're so affordable. You'll find brand-name beauty products, even organic & eco-friendly brands. Definitely a great discount grocery store to find health & beauty products & pretty much anything else you need.

Have you tried any of these products? Have you visited Grocery Outlet before? :]

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

May 2017 Blogging Income Report - $1,214.20

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hi friends & thanks for checking in on my Blogging Income Report. I finally hit the $1,000 mark! Crazy to think I've been writing these since January when my income was just about $450.  I've been able to increase my earnings this month thanks to adjusting some of my coaching practices & earning more from sponsored posts. Take a look at my income, expenses, & net total. I also get delve deeper into each income category. Read on, my friend!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


Linqia Sponsored Posts - $331.20
Blogging + Social Media Coaching - $320
Social Fabric Sponsored Post  - $200
Social Fabric Reimbursement - $278
Real Clever Sponsored Post - $65
Linqia Referrals - $20
Total - $1,214.20


Product Purchases - $54.15
Blog Props -  $13.47
PayPal Fees - $6.29
Total - $73.91


Net Total - $1,140.29

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

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

Linqia Sponsored Posts

Linqia has been a consistent part of my blogging income for a few months now. In May I received compensation for Time Management Tips for Bloggers & Those Working From Home, a post I created for TP-Link as well as my post about Zevia, a stevia-based soda. Bonus for me: TP-Link added my post to their website, so I get a small trickle of views from that.

Blogging + Social Media Coaching

May was my best coaching month & I saw an increase in repeat clients! As a coach, I work with people one-on-one to better their blogs, their social media presence, & their brands. This is a really fulfilling part of my business. Learn more about my coaching & how it could help you!

Social Fabric Sponsored Post 

I wrote Self-Care Essentials to Bring to a Camping Music Festival, a sponsored post with Cetaphil, back in early March. It kept getting delayed until late May when we finally we were given the go-ahead to post.

Social Fabric Reimbursement 

I received advanced reimbursement for an upcoming trip & sponsored post. June's Income Report will see some additional expenses because I'll use the reimbursement for products, food, gas money, & experience purchases related to the post. 

Real Clever Sponsored Post 

I finally got paid from a Facebook & Twitter post from 90 days ago for the OREO MILKA Chocolate Candy Bar. Yum. A 90 day wait for payment is one of the longest I've encountered.

Linqia Referrals

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Linqia has been a consistent part of my blogging income over the course of multiple months. I've included it on my Blogging Income Reports, so some people sign up. I receive $5 for anyone who's accepted into the Linqia network.

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

Stocking Up on My Favorite Summer Sweet Treats

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

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

Ice cream is the perfect summer treat. You have to cool off on those relentless summer days somehow! Fred's mom always has ice cream options in the freezer because the nieces & nephews corral at the house since there's a pool nearby. With kids come their parents, so stocking up on cold summer favorites is a necessity.

Remember how amazing those hot summer by the pool would be? Ugh, divine. Well, Unilever wants to make it super easy to treat your loved ones with frozen favorites with their rewards program. Spend $20 on any Unilever ice cream brand at participating retailers & you'll receive a $5 digital reward to use toward your next purchase. I decided to go all out & buy a variety of Magnum Ice Cream flavors. Oh yeah!

I have such good memories of Magnum. I remember trying the brand for the first time during a family trip to Europe in 2010. I honestly don't remember which city or country I was in when I tasted it, but I remember thinking Magnum was so foreign, fancy, & delicious. It felt almost out of reach at the time, so it's nice to have access to it right at my closest Albertsons! Now it can be a local delicacy to treasure with friends.

The Magnum flavors are complex, rich, & perfect to share with loved ones. You can grab a few flavors & cut them up into shareable pieces so everyone can sample. I love this option since I tend to try bits & bobs until I find a flavor I really adore. Orrrrr you could just let everyone grab whichever suits their fancy. Either way works.

I bought flavors like Double Cookies & Cream, Double Peanut Butter, Infinity Chocolate, & a couple more. Can you go wrong with a name like Infinity Chocolate? I think not. The Double Cookies & Cream was creamy, crunchy, & scrumptious all around. I like to share a bar with my boyfriend, but he ends up opening a second one anyway!

Take a photo of your receipt & upload it to IceCreamRewards.com & get a $5 reward. If you're one of the first 1,000 to register, you'll get a chance to win a $5 Albertsons gift card. One first prize winner will be randomly selected each week to receive a year’s supply of ice cream (awarded as a gift card). Uh, yum!

* 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 Find Vegetarian-Friendly Sushi

Friday, June 02, 2017

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

Sushi is everywhere. It's cool. It's popular. It's pretty. There are whole documentaries about the art of sushi. But guess what? Up until a handful of years ago, I never had sushi. Crazy, right?! As a vegetarian who doesn't eat meat, poultry, or fish, I figured sushi would never be a part of my life. But I was wrong. Really wrong.

To celebrate International Sushi Day on June 18, I'll tell you some of my quick tips on how to find vegetarian-friendly sushi near you. It's actually super easy! The best way to celebrate International Sushi Day is with Sapporo Premium beer, & I'm not the only one who thinks so. When I shared on Facebook that I was working with Sapporo, I received these three comments from friends:

"We sell the Sapporo beer at the sushi restaurant where I work.😄 People love it."
"My husband always orders that beer when we go for sushi."
"I enjoy this beer off the tap. Mmmmmmm 😍"

With a bit of trial & error, Fred & I developed our go-to plan for finding awesome vegetarian sushi. These are our top tips:

Check Online

Do a simple search online for "vegetarian sushi" or "vegetarian sushi near me." See which options are close to you. Look up news articles or blog posts with similar key words to see what's trending. Search your favorite social media site for "vegetarian sushi" or #vegetariansushi.

Look Up Restaurant Review Sites

Restaurant review sites are a great resource since they have search tools to help look up relevant restaurants by their rating & distance. You can filter it by city, price, whether you want to order for pick up, highest rated, best match, most reviewed, & more.

Read the Menu

Many restaurants share their menus on their website so you can peruse the menu before you even leave the house. When you're checking out vegetarian options online, click on their official website & then their menu. Browse first, decide later.

A couple of my favorite vegetarian sushi options are the vegetable roll (pictured here), vegetarian tempura roll, cucumber roll, & avocado roll. Vegetarian sushi often involves avocado, cucumber or some veggies like carrots, asparagus, & lettuce. Fred does eat fish, so he opted for a California roll on our sushi date this week.

We almost always have Sapporo Premium beer when we get sushi, so it's something I associate with our dates. Now that I look back, it became one of our earliest traditions. Sushi & Sapporo in a quiet corner of the restaurant. Sapporo's crisp, refined flavor & clean finish pairs well with something creamy like an avocado roll. It's my go-to pairing. Mmmm! 

Integrate Sapporo Premium beer into your next sushi celebration. Enjoy beer & dining with your closest friends. Follow Sapporo on Facebook for International Sushi Day content & exclusive giveaways. What's your favorite sushi of all time? Have you tried vegetarian sushi? :]

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


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