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


Quick Trip: How to Spend 48 Hours in Reno Tahoe

Monday, July 31, 2017

Looking for a quickie trip to the Reno Tahoe area? Well, you came to the right place! I have to be honest with you though, there is so much to do there. Seriously, so much. The best way to explore the area, especially if you're in a rush, is to spend one day in Reno & one in Tahoe.

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Visit Reno Tahoe. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. 

reno nevada points of interest

What is there to do in Reno? The Reno Tahoe area is incredibly versatile. Reno, Nevada calls itself "The Biggest Little City in the World.” After visiting, I understand why. There's such a range of things to do depending on your preference, so I broke it down into some essentials.

Pick & choose what you're into. You can get a lot done if you figure out what you're interested in. This 48-hour guide to Reno Tahoe is meant to help you figure out how to get the most out of a limited amount of time. If you want to explore in a jiffy, here's how to spend 48 hours in Reno Tahoe!

Let's begin with the essentials: food, drink, & nature. These are my favorite parts of Reno Tahoe, the things that you can't live without.  Let's get to it!

The Essentials


Whether you're craving pan-friend dumplings, homemade soup, or all-you-can-eat buffet, there's a huge selection of restaurants in the Reno Tahoe area. My tip: Figure out what you're in the mood for because the options are vast. If you need some help, Visit Reno Tahoe has an extensive list of eateries by category.


Midtown Eats has a fantastic beer battered cauliflower appetizer. My friend swears that Jox Sports Bar & Grill has the best wings in town; Fred loved the honey glazed barbecue wings. If you're into pasta & pizza (who isn't?!), Campo came highly recommended.


Do a search for Lake Tahoe lakefront restaurants to see what comes up. Lone Eagle Grille has lakefront Tahoe views & an entire vegetarian menu (if you ask for it). I recommend the Vegetable Linguini, Roasted Cauliflower Pizza, & the Baked Tahoe for dessert. Drool. The jackfruit “carnitas” tostada bites from Bite American Tapas sound absolutely heavenly too.


From bar crawls to wine walks, there's no shortage of coffee shops, breweries, bars, pubs, sports bars in Reno & Tahoe. It all depends, do you want a cocktail, a beer, a coffee? Well, they have it all. Visit Reno Tahoe has a cool interactive map of breweries & distilleries in the area.


IMBĪB Custom Brews has delicious sour beers. Death & Taxes has photo-friendly cocktails. Seriously, just look at this drink. My favorite: the Arlington Tea made with Earl Grey. A local recommended 1864 Tavern. French-inspired Chez Louie sits inside the Nevada Museum of Art & has an incredible maple latte.


From porters to pale ales, Alibi Ale Works has core beers, rotating seasonals, & some fancy limited release brews too. Get fresh orange, grapefruit, & even carrot juice at Fire Sign Cafe. There's also  Tahoe Mountain Brewery, Jake’s on the Lake, & West Shore Café.


Are you a fan of the great outdoors? Me too! Reno, Nevada & the Tahoe area offer a range of natural beauty, vista points, & exciting activities. Whether you want to brush up on your ice skating, camp for a couple nights, picnic by the beach, or simply take a walk along the river, Reno Tahoe genuinely has whatever you're looking for.


You can get a stunning view of Reno from the Nevada Museum of Art penthouse. Enjoy a scenic stroll with bridges, walking paths, & art installations as you promenade along Reno's Truckee River Walk or Wingfield Park. Take off your shoes & get your feet wet. Better yet, hop in & go tubing or swimming. We took an evening saunter through Idlewild Park & it was quiet, relaxing, & peaceful.


Take in as much nature as you can & stay at one of the many Reno Tahoe campgroundsMy tip: book in advance because campsites often get fully booked during peak season. Lake Tahoe has endless possibilities that range each season. In winter, you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowboarding, or maybe you want a sleigh ride instead. Once it warms up, try biking, hiking, kayaking, swimming, or just lounging around at the beach.

Now for the fun stuff: go shopping, check out the casinos, explore the events, & then browse through my favorites!

The Fun Stuff


Get in, we're going shopping! Good thing I brought my super adorable kitty wallet filled with random gift cards for this trip. Like seriously, there's everything. The Reno Tahoe shopping options are extensive. From The Legends Outlet at Sparks to The Summit in Reno to The Shops at Heavenly Village in Tahoe, you could spend your 48 hours just shopping if you wanted to. Definitely stop by Junkee for clothes & antiques.


Your visit wouldn't be complete without a trip to the casino(s). There are casino options in Reno, Tahoe, & also the Sparks area. Whether you gamble or not, it makes for great people watching. Fred & I did a couple dollar slots then left to explore the area more.


Local events change daily & range for every single season. My tip: check the events calendar & do little bit of online research to see what's happening while you're in town. Or maybe the whole reason you're visiting is because of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare FestivalThe Great Reno Balloon Race, or Northern Nevada Pride. So much to do, so little time.

My Favourites

♥ Arlington Tea cocktail from Death & Taxes ♥ Blue waters of Lake Tahoe ♥ Strolling the Truckee River Walk ♥ Midtown Reno's murals ♥ Nevada Museum of Art ♥ Browsing Junkee for hidden treasures ♥ Evening walk through Idlewild Park ♥ Stillwater Spritzer at Stillwater Spa & Salon ♥ Driving through the mountains in Tahoe ♥ Dipping your toes in Truckee River or Lake Tahoe ♥ Beautiful nature ♥ Hanging out with an old friend in Reno ♥ Baked Tahoe at Lone Eagle Grille ♥

Have you visited Tahoe or Reno? I'd love to hear your top recommendations. :]

*Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Visit Reno Tahoe. I was not paid, but Visit Reno Tahoe covered some of my expenses. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

A Mini Sephora Haul

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It was a late night online. One thing led to another & I ended up falling down the Sephora rabbit hole. I justified my mini splurge with the fact that it had been years since I shopped at Sephora. Gotta keep up with the times & see what's out there! That's what I told myself anyway.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I made intentional purchases rather than buying everything simply it looked gorgeous (even though I wanted to). I didn't buy too many items, but enough that I had to write a post about it. You know how I do. 

Isn't the Tarte Make Believe In Yourself: Eye & Cheek Palette remarkable? From the packaging, to the color payoff to the eyeshadow names themselves, the whole palette is stunning. The kaleidoscopic, unicorn-inspired eyeshadow palette comes with 10 eye shadows & one strobing eye & cheek highlighter. The pigmentation is intense, a little goes a long way. Love this purchase!

I adore the Urban Decay UD Jean-Michel Basquiat Lipstick packaging. I'm a sucker for branding & packaging; it's a major selling factor for me. I opted for Abstract, a brownish taupe.  It swatches beautifully on my skin, but it leaves my lips looking a little blue grey. Taupe can do that, so I need to experiment to see how I can make it work for me.

I finally jumped on the Anastasia Beverly Hills bandwagon & nabbed this Neon Carnival Lip Gloss! Super behind, but better late than never. Neon Carnival is a vibrant coral color with a slightly sticky formula. Perfect shade for the summer!

These Sephora Collection Eggspert Mini Sponges are so freaking egg-dorable. Yeah, I went there. But seriously, they're cute. I love the range of colors. Do I want pink? Yellow? Blue? Whatever your heart desires. Since they're small, they dry quickly after washing.

As samples, I received the Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara as well as the Too Faced Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray. I've yet to try either of them out, but they will be in my travel cosmetics bag for my next trip. Keeping travel size items on hand makes life on-the-go so much easier.

But I have to know, what's your favorite Sephora purchase of all time? What's your fave? :]

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

June 2017 Income Report: How I Earned $1,788.24 Blogging & Working Remotely

Friday, July 21, 2017

Thanks for coming back for my sixth income report! I'm switching things up this time. Since I earn money from other sources than my blog (such as coaching), this is a remote work & blogging income report.

No matter what your blogging or online goals are, I hope you find value in these reports. It's certainly nerve-wracking displaying how much money I earn, but I want to provide you with an honest look into the world of working from home.  Well, cheers to six months of these blogger income reports & my highest income to date!

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


Linqia Sponsored Posts - $1,166.40
Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts - $303
Blogging + Social Media Coaching - $260
Linqia Referrals - $58.84
Total - $1,788.24


Product Purchases - $320.30
PayPal Fees - $4.38
Total - $324.68


Net Total - $1,463.56

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

Want to see more income reports?
January 2017 Income Report
February 2017 Income Report
March 2017 Income Report
April 2017 Income Report
May Income Report - $1,214.20

Linqia Sponsored Posts

Linqia was an enormous part of my income in June, the biggest to date. I got paid out for multiple campaigns spanning from May & June. Learning to Hustle, Binge Watching Shows, & A Little Life Update for the Queen of the South TV show on USA Network; How Living in San Diego, California Affects My Lifestyle for LA VICTORIA®; How to Find Vegetarian-Friendly Sushi for Sapporo beer; & Reminiscing About Paris, Planning Future Trips, & Pineapple Orange Juice Gin Punch for Seagram's gin.

Miscellaneous Sponsored Posts

Some sponsored posts come to me via email instead of through a third-party influencer ad network like Linqia or Social Fabric. These miscellaneous posts usually come around every 2 - 3 months, & the payout takes just as long. I got paid for Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout + My Tips for Self-Care, a post from April about Lipton tea.

Blogging + Social Media Coaching 

June coaching was good this month, not my best but not my worst. I saw quite a few new clients in June. Now it's all about nurturing those relationships, both my past & present 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! 

Linqia Referrals 

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

Product Purchases

June was my most expensive month as far as buying product for blog posts. I usually need to purchase a specific item in order to talk about it. I did a press trip to Torrance for Things To Do in Torrance, California: A 24 Hour Travel Guide, which involved travel expenses, food, & exploring the city. I got reimbursed for this campaign in May, but the trip itself was in June. In total, I made product purchases for my Torrance trip, Magnum ice cream post, Grocery Outlet post, & Clos du Bois post.

How do YOU earn money from blogging? I want to know what works & what doesn't! Leave me a comment below. Don't forget to browse through my other Blogger Income Reports:

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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. :]

Playing & Staying at the Atlantis in Reno, Nevada

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Reno, Nevada temperature read 103°F. The local radio personality said it was a heat wave for the start of summer. We'd camped the night before, driven 4.5 hours from Lone Pine, California to Reno that morning, & we were in desperate need of a mentally & physically refreshing shower. We wanted to check into our hotel immediately. We arrived in Reno, & the Atlantis* stood tall like a welcoming giant. We followed it like a beacon, found parking, & went inside. The cool air conditioned casino breeze felt like an oasis from the harsh heat.

* Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.

The Check In

We arrived at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa as soon as we could check in, 3 p.m. We checked in, got our keys, & made our way to our room as fast as humanly possible. Atlantis was kind enough to give us a Concierge Tower room on the 25th floor. It wasn't until later we realized that Concierge Tower guests can get VIP check in. It wasn't until day two that I realized our windows were tinted purple.

The Concierge Tower

I got a kick out of the key-card access glass-enclosed elevator ride up to our room. These elevators are exclusive for Concierge Hotel Tower members; you literally have to scan your card in order for the elevator to move. I loved using it in the evening because you could see Reno light up at night. Concierge Tower hotel rooms include custom furnishings, robes, slippers, TV in the bathroom, as well as access to the 25th floor Concierge Lounge.

The Concierge Lounge

We tried to utilize all the benefits of the Concierge Lounge such as the morning breakfast & afternoon hors d'oeuvres. We went every single day. If anything, just go for the view. Get a table by the window & sip your morning cup of coffee with sweeping views of Reno. The Concierge Lounge service was absolutely incredible.

The Spa

Spa Atlantis is luxurious & convenient! Head on over to their full range spa & salon. I received a Swedish massage, while Fred enjoyed his Spa Day Pass. We met up after my massage & enjoyed the Brine Inhalation-Light Therapy Lounge, the indoor whirlpools, & the Nature Experiential Shower. I pretty much tried every version of their spa waters. They have recipe cards for all of their waters; I regret not grabbing the cards!

The Casino

The Atlantis Reno is a player's paradise. Slots, table games, poker rooms, keno, race & sports book. They have it all. I'm a terrible gambler, but casino life is part of Reno & the Atlantis. Smoking is allowed on property, so head on over to the designated smoke-free areas if you have smoking sensitivity.

The Food

The dining options at Atlantis Reno are plentiful, even as a vegetarian. There are bars, lounges, delis, buffets, grilles, sushi bars, & basically anything you could dream of. Bistro Napa came highly recommended. We grabbed gelato with a friend at Café Alfresco. We had  breakfast buffet at Toucan Charlie's but I'd opt for lunch next time or perhaps the Sunday Champagne Brunch.

The Amenities

I kid you not when I say Atlantis has it all — atrium pool, cabaret, Fitness Center, spa, salon, slots, wedding packages, & more. I joked with Fred that you could just stay inside for a week & never explore anything else in Reno because there is that much to do within the Atlantis. They aim to ensure that you're completely entertained during your stay. I'd say that's accurate!

The Verdict

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is genuinely a great option if you're in Reno, Nevada & want a place to stay in the heart of the city. I received nothing but impeccable service. Whether you're there with family, as a couple, on business, with friends, by yourself, there are options to suit your needs. It's buzzing with life. It's air-conditioned. It's a Reno staple.

My Favorites

♥ Afternoon hors d'oeuvres at the Concierge Lounge ♥ Nature Experiential Shower ♥ Melon water at the Fitness Center ♥ All the spa waters ♥ Fluffy white robes ♥ Watching TV in the shower ♥ Desserts at Toucan Charlie's buffet ♥ Evening elevator rides ♥ Sweeping views of Reno ♥ Blogging/working from the hotel room ♥

Have you ever stayed at the Atlantis? What about Reno? I want to hear your thoughts! :]

*Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. I was not paid, but did receive free hotel stay, buffet breakfast, & Swedish massage. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

5 Stages of Leaving Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Becoming an entrepreneur is quite a journey. When I told people I quit my job to pursue my dream most people were very encouraging. I got a lot of feedback that others had done it themselves & it was the best decision they ever made. 

Although I knew I'd be happier as an entrepreneur, I understood quitting my corporate job didn't automatically mean everything was bound to be hunky-dory. I went through a wave of emotions, from complete excitement to complete doubt & then some.

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Quitting my job is one of the best decisions I've ever made. However, it was not a magical, easy, simple choice. I look forward to looking back in a year from now to see how much I've grown, what I've learned, & how I've improved over time. However, it's not an easy ride. Take a look at the five stages of quitting your job to become an entrepreneur. Maybe you'll relate!

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The first stage is pure excitement. You are blissful, thrilled to be leaving your job & pursue your own venture at long last. You dreamed about this moment, hoped for this moment. You think to yourself, "Wow, this is happening. I'm getting out of here. Yay!" It's thrilling, exciting, & you are ready to make this leap. Look out world, here I come!


Right after the excitement stage comes the doubt stage. You think to yourself, "OMG. What did I do? This is a horrible decision. Will I be able to make this happen? There are so many things to do. Can I even make money? What does it take to run a successful business?" You feel overwhelmed, nervous, anxious. 


After spending some time feeling doubtful, you accept your reality. "Well, I already put my two weeks notice in at work. It's not like I can un-quit. There's no turning back now. This is it. This is real." You acknowledge your choice & accept your decision to quit your job to become an entrepreneur.


After you accept your current situation, you start to feel little hopeful. It reminds you of that first stage of excitement. You think about the reason you wanted to do this in the first place. Your sense of wonder & joy comes back in full force. You think, "I have a good feeling about this. I can make this happen."


What now? The only thing you can do now is take action. Make it happen. Do the work. Put in your hours, your time, your effort. You have to give it everything you've got. You quit your job to become an entrepreneur & now you're going to do this. But it takes action. Might as well get to it.

I'm still in the beginning phase of this new journey of self-employment. I felt such a wave of feelings from excitement to action & I'm thrilled to see how my life unfolds. You learn a lot & there is genuinely a lot to take in. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you & maybe you'll be ready to become your own boss too. :]

How to Create Your Own Wine Spritzer Bar

Monday, July 10, 2017

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

Tis the season for wine spritzers. I'd been missing out on wine spritzers until a couple months ago. I reunited with a friend & we happened to have the items on hand. We laughed, reminisced, created new memories, & sipped on some wine spritzers. Celebrate summer by creating your own wine spritzer bar! Invite your closest friends over for some drinks & enjoy an afternoon together. It's easy!

The Essentials 

Sparkling Water 

Look through your possessions to see what you already have. No need to buy extra product if you have it in your cupboard. Then, make a trip to the store & acquire your necessary items. These essentials are your top, most necessary items.

Obviously, you'll need some wine. I opted for Clos du Bois Chardonnay as well as Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio. That way guests can make their drinks based on their preference. Clos du Bois recently upgraded their packaging, so be on the lookout in stores! Find it in the wine section near other white wines & chardonnays. New, elegant packaging, but still the same great taste. 

The Mix-Ins

Sparkling Water

Now you need to set up your mix-ins. This is where you can store  sparkling water, juice, & your garnishes. I went with a beautiful açai berry juice as well as a green juice. They add extra flavor & the element of color. Your guests will love taking photos of their pretty spritzers!

Garnishes are half the fun. I went with cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, & grapes. Don't have those? That's cool. If you can, use anything you already have at home. This will help keep your cost & effort down. Mix & match to your heart's content.

The Extras

Extra napkins, because spills are bound to happen
Extra straws, because they're paper so they get soggy
Extra wine, because come on you know you'll need it
Extra sparkling water, because you never know

Enjoy Clos du Bois for all your favorite summertime festivities. Perfect for picnicking, backyard entertaining, relaxing on the porch, & pretty much any occasion. I love the way it tastes with a little bit of fruit infusion from the garnish. I added a couple grapes, a piece of pineapple & a piece of cantaloupe into my wine spritzer. It was incredible!

I kept my wine spritzer bar simple with unflavored sparking water water, but allowed people to flavor their drink to their liking. Mixers like açai juice or green juice add a nice hint of color. There are so many options!

What's your favorite kind of wine spritzer? Have you ever had Clos du Bois? :]

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. :]


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