September 2017 / Carmen Varner // Travel Influencer, Blogging Coach, Social Media Consultant


12 Drool-Worthy Food Photos from Paris, France

Friday, September 29, 2017

Paris is the type of place where you can close your eyes, spin around, walk five steps, find a cute spot, order something, & wind up with delicious food. Well, that's the case for me anyway. Whether you buy your food from a local grocery store, a bustling restaurant, or a small farmer's market, you're bound to find some tasty morsels in Paris, France.

Window shopping for fresh pastries

Almond paste candies

Pastries, pastries, pastries

I'm no stranger to the City of Light but I'm consistently surprised by how good the food is. Fred & I made it a hobby to pick a boulangerie or patisserie just to try something, anything, anything at all. We made frequent stops for an espresso here, a pain au chocolat there.

Related reading: My Souvenirs from Paris

Farmer's market veggies

Vegetarian pizza & mushroom omelet

Herb covered cheese

I found myself having a decent variety of vegetarian-friendly foods to choose from on a daily basis, whether it was at a cafe or a grocery store. Fred, the meat eater, had no trouble at all. Fruits & veggies look more colorful. You can tell food is eaten with care, made with care, & sourced with care.

Artichoke, spinach, mozzarella pasta from the supermarket

Fresh fruit tart

His & hers meals

Every corner leads you somewhere new. Make a wrong turn. Get lost. It's Paris. You'll probably end up at a tiny bakery with freshly baked bread & pastries anyway. It's nice to get uncomfortable, get away from your own city & get lost elsewhere.


Vegan soup

Farmer's market fruits

What's your favorite thing to eat in Paris? I want to know your hidden gems! Give me all the details. :]

Looking for hotel or accommodation options in Paris, France? Don't worry, my friend. Here are some options in Paris!

* This post contains an affiliate link.

Save money for your next trip. Get $40 in travel credit if you sign up for Airbnb. Fred & I used Airbnb during our trips to Paris, London, Tijuana, & more. 

August Income Report: How I Earned $1,748.16 Blogging & Coaching

Monday, September 25, 2017

Lesson of the month? Have multiple income streams. You never know how one month is going to fare compared to the next. Multiple clients, multiple businesses, multiple whatever. Find multiple ways to earn money.

Reese Witherspoon is an excellent example of this. She's an A-List celebrity who stars in countless movies & television shows. Did you know she created a production company? She also has a successful lifestyle brand, Draper James. She has multiple sides to her business, multiple income streams.

I'm happy that my Blogging + Social Media Coaching income is increasing because that means I'm growing another segment of my business. Blogging & coaching, although related, each comes with their separate incomes, successes, & challenges. Now to find more income streams...

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


Blogging + Social Media Coaching - $956.96
Linqia Sponsored Posts - $566.20
Social Fabric Sponsored Posts - $160
Linqia Referrals - $65
Total - $1,748.16


PayPal Fees - $11.96
Total - $11.96


Net Total - $1,736.20

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

Want to see more income reports?
February 2017 Income Report
March 2017 Income Report
April 2017 Income Report
May Income Report - $1,214.20
June Income Report - $1,788.24
July Income Report - $1,664.40

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Blogging + Social Media Coaching

Another great coaching month. You can read all about my first in-person coaching intensive, where I spent three hours working with a client. As a coach, I teach, listen, & empower people one-on-one to enhance their blogs, their social media presence, & their brands. I'm strategizing how I can make coaching a bigger part of my income. Learn more about my coaching & how it could help you!

Linqia Sponsored Posts

Linqia was a notable part of my income in August. I received payment for two campaigns: Just a Sprinkle of California Love ♥, a sponsored post I did with, as well as Persian Food, Mexican Beer, & How I Travel Without a Plane Ticket with Estrella Jalisco (a Mexican beer).

Social Fabric Sponsored Posts

I got paid for How to Create Your Own Wine Spritzer Bar, a sponsored post I did with Clos du Bois! I had so much fun with this campaign. 

Linqia Referrals

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.

Sooo, that was my August. It's been a marvelous, eye-opening, enriching, beautiful month. Zero of which would've been possible if I was still at a 9 to 5 job. Make sure to follow along on my Instagram Story for more behind-the-scenes photos & videos!

How do you earn income online? Was this blogging income report useful? Please let me know in the comments! :]

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

Back to Nature // an Outfit of the Day

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thank you prAna for sponsoring this post.

Can you feel that? Autumn is here. I love when the temperatures cool down & I get a chance to inhale the brisk, fresh air. It's cleansing. I love the early morning frost on the windshield. I love the way the leaves leap from their branches, dancing their way through the wind & onto the ground.

Ever since quitting my job in June, I've been able to spend more time doing the things I enjoy. There are more nature walks. I spend time discovering hidden gems, like the secret swing by the creek. It's the perfect place to surround yourself in peace. You can get some good thinking done there.

I'm finding myself again. Whether it was going to school, searching for a job, working my way up in my career, crafting my blog & coaching business, I kind of got lost in the shuffle. There's always a new app to check out, a new product launching or an algorithm change to consider.

Lately, I find myself heading back to nature as a way to disconnect. I do my best thinking there, my best strategizing. The bustling bees or leaping leaves create an encouraging white noise to keep my mind at ease. The birds chirp & the occasional butterfly bounces by. The leaves feel crisp beneath my every step.

I  breathe it all in as I tuck my prAna Loveland Wrap around me, made from 100% organic cotton with an asymmetrical hem. Wraps are great for traveling, especially for those long-haul flights. I wore a wrap practically the entire time I was in Paris! Another travel blogger favorite? A good legging. These Moto Leggings in Charcoal are classic! Leggings are a staple for my home attire, when I'm traveling, & even when I'm exploring.

prAna offers sustainable, recycled, fair trade certified & hemp items that are versatile enough for any lifestyle or adventure. prAna's one core belief is to give back more than we take from the world, & I really love that. Watch this video to learn more about the sustainable clothing movement. Nature is important!

I'm happy to wear my prAna gear because I know it's made to last & it's made with care. Autumn is the perfect time to do clear your mind with its magical color-changing leaves & moments of serenity. When's the last time you stepped outside to take a breather?

Get 15% off your prAna purchase when you use code: F17CGCV.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER & the content & opinions expressed here are all my own.

The Real Reason I Quit My 9 to 5 Corporate Job

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It was burned into my brain to go to university, get my degree, build my career, find a steady job that brings a good income & health insurance. Once I achieved all those things I looked back & thought: "For what?" 

"What is this all for? What is the point?" 

I did what I'm supposed to do. I did what society said. It felt like I was checking off someone else's to do list & I was merely surviving. I lived day by day. The alarm on my phone buzzed annoyingly every morning. I begrudgingly went to work all day. I came home in the afternoon dead tired. I blogged for as long as possible. Then I went to sleep to repeat that whole process.

I've been in the social media workforce for four years. I can't recall the exact moment of my revelation, but at some point it clicked: I realized that every day I went into work, I was building someone else's company, dream, goal, vision.

I worked every day to improve social media engagement. I sourced photos & created captions that audiences would relate to. I built authentic connections. I recognized engaged users. I spoke with them nearly every day. 

I sent in all my achievements & metrics. They usually compiled a year-end recap to send up the corporate chain. My numbers were so outstanding, increasing engagement & reach by 200% — the analytics don't lie — that I was told it made the company look bad because they weren't doing social media prior to my arrival. The numbers were never noted nor discussed again.

I finally had to ask myself: "What the hell am I doing with my life?"

I realized that I was merely aging at each of these jobs, not advancing or learning or growing. I've been working on my blog since 2011. I started my blogging + social media coaching in January 2017. I wanted to blog more, write more, create more, & make it my career. I was ready to pursue my own path.

At some point, I was invited to go to a television show premier in Los Angeles, but it was on a Tuesday afternoon. I'd have to take the day off from work or at least leave early. The problem was that I'd called out sick the week before, so it would look sketchy to do it two weeks in a row. I couldn't make it happen. I was bummed. Find out more about how to get invited to press events.

Then I was invited to do a media stay in Nevada. I had just gotten back from Paris, so I couldn't take a week off to go on this trip. I was fresh out of vacation days. But I couldn't let this opportunity go. Not this time. It could help me move forward in the pursuit of my own business & career. 

You want to know the real reason I quit my job? I was getting more opportunities, coaching queries, collaborations, sponsored posts, that it got to the point where I could no longer work full-time & blog. Something had to give. I made the decision to quit my job. That's the reason why.

I realize that my life path might be unconventional for some. There's not necessarily a sense of security. Income fluctuates from month-to-month. I'm fully in charge of growing a business with only myself to be held accountable. But it was absolutely vital to pursue my own path, despite what anyone else had to say.

The thing is, I'm the one who has to live my life & take ownership of it. Nobody else. After months of feeling unhappy at my job, I decided to take a leap, scary leap & do my own thing. I made a choice to pursue my own path, regardless of any feedback.

You have to live with your choices. What choice will you make today? Pursue your own path. Not the path your parents laid out. Not the path you thought about 10 years ago but has since changed. Not the path that you despise. Every path is different, focus on your own.

Pursue your own path. Look forward. Don't listen to the noise of others. It's a distraction. Take action.

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Reflections on My First Three Months as an Entrepreneur

Friday, September 08, 2017

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

It was a rainy spring day in Paris, France. The clouds overhead let out fat droplets that plop plop plopped me on the head. I tucked my fleece wrap jacket around me like a tortilla hugging a burrito. The wind picked up. Tiny particles of dust, dirt, & debris flew about. The skies grew angrier, so we picked up the pace & found shelter in a coffee shop.

I looked up & spotted a red square logo with white font: illy. It smelled delicious inside. Most of the pastries had been devoured by the rest of the get-me-out-of-the-rain crowd. We ordered & waited for our coffees. I'll never forget the power of that small cup of caffeine.

I held it in my hands. The warmth felt comforting considering the rest of my clothes were soggy from the rain. Sip, sip, sip. Boom! We felt rejuvenated enough to head back outside. We're from San Diego after all; maneuvering through rain isn't something we experience often. I held my to-go cup in my hand & took a quick photo of it with Paris blurred in the background. Behind every cup of illy is a story.

That memorable moment from Paris stays with me because in May 2017 I was in a different phase of my life. I had a moment of self-reflection that week & published Oh Snap! I'm Writing This Post in Paris, France to express my restlessness. But I vowed to make a change. By June, I started a new chapter in life: I began blogging & coaching full-time.

It's September now, four months since I made that leap to becoming an entrepreneur. I did a press trip in Reno Tahoe. I made it through my first in-person coaching intensive even though I was petrified. I move forward as I learn from my entrepreneurial mistakes. I began strategizing long-term plans, rather than executing endless minute tasks. Progress.

Now we're planning for our trip to London. As I sip on my fresh batch of illy cold brew coffee, I can't help but feel happy. Normally I add milk to my coffee but the illy cold brew is so rich & smooth you don't really need it. Stay inspired with good coffee, good vibes, good views, good work, & good times.

It's important to reflect. It's important to hold yourself accountable. My first three months as an entrepreneur went by extremely fast. I can't deny that. But I learned an incredible amount in those three months. I had highs. I had lows. I had days off, but mostly I had days on. I negotiated. I taught. I followed up. I built relationships. I created newsletters. I'm ready for what comes next.

Visit illy & use code COFFEE17 to enjoy special a 20% savings on your online order. Do you like cold brew coffee? What have you learned in the last three months? :]

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

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A Triple Citrus Margarita Recipe (Lime, Orange, Grapefruit)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

This post is sponsored by Proximo Spirits but the content & opinions expressed here are my own. This content is intended for those 21+

I used to watch a show where the host would come over to someone's house to cook an elaborate meal based on the ingredients they already had in their kitchen. It would always turn into a masterpiece of a meal. About a week before I was scheduled to move out of my college apartment, I decided to utilize everything I had in the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, without purchasing anything. 

From canned Mandarin oranges to chili ramen to broken granola bars, I recall concocting recipes & experimenting, finding both horrible combinations & magical ones. The orange & coconut cream ice pops were a surprise delight. The handmade hummus was a hit too. 

By handmade, I mean I literally made the hummus by hitting it with my hands; I didn't have a blender & definitely didn't own a food processor. So, I added the random ingredients that I had, then laboriously mashed everything with my very own hands, fingers, knuckles, punching this hummus into oblivion. It was a labor of love. Truth: I never made hummus since.

Now I'm grown up with a blender. Times change. People grow. When I got Agavero Orange & Gran Centenario Tequila delivered directly to my door, completely bypassing the step of going outside my house to purchase it, I decided to play that same game from years ago. What could I create with what I already had? 

Tip: If you don't have everything on hand, look at what you have. Can you make a good substitution?Don't have lime but you have lemon? That totally works. No fresh orange? Use orange juice from the fridge. Don't own margarita salt? Use regular salt or Himalayan pink salt. Not strong enough? Add more liquor. Too liquor-y? Pump up the juice. This is such a simple citrus margarita recipe you can customize to your taste preference.


1.5 oz Agavero Orange 
1 tbsp orange juice 
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
nice big splash of grapefruit sparkling water
lime wedge 


1. Combine Agavero Orange liqueur, tequila, orange juice, lime juice, & ice. Blend. Strain.
2. Rub the rims of margarita glasses with lime wedges & dip in salt.
3. Fill the salt-rimmed glasses with your margarita.
4. Add a splash (or more) of grapefruit sparkling water.
5. Garnish with orange, lime &/or grapefruit slices.

Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Servings: 1, multiply quantities as needed

Tip: Carbonation is mild, but if you blend the water, the carbonation goes away completely.

Agavero Orange is a blend of 100% blue agave tequila, infused with the essence of oranges & pure agave nectar. It's a refreshing orange liqueur that makes the perfect match for a citrus lover. I'm stoked that Agavero Orange can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or in a cocktail because I love having variety!

Although the times have changed since my university days, I keep the life lessons I learned to this very day. What's your idea of a perfect margarita? What's your favorite random food/drink combination you invented? :]

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

My First In-Person Coaching Intensive + an Outfit of the Day

Saturday, September 02, 2017

My palms felt sweaty. I couldn't tell if it was because of the scorching summer heat or because I was nervous for my first in-person coaching intensive with a client. I wiped my clammy hands against my black pants as I walked into the Del Mar, California coffee shop an hour before our scheduled session.

I scoped out the landscape as I waited in line to order. I sat down at a table for two, unpacked my computer, then took a sip of my coffee with cream & a pinch of brown sugar. The air-conditioner above blasted at full force. My coffee literally went cold within minutes.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Sunglasses: O by Oscar de la Renta (similar) // Shirt: my grandma // Vest: Thrifted // Purse: Thrifted // Pants: Hue (similar) // Socks: Forever 21 (similar) // Shoes: Michael Kors (exact)

Several people left, so I moved, plopping myself on the couch to prep for my three-hour intensive coaching session focusing on monetization options for her blog & business. I chose an outfit I knew felt comfortable in, something I could wear for hours without a hitch. I've worn each piece countless times, but never together – that's what I love about mixing & matching.

Experiment. Try it out. Like mixing & matching, you just have to get yourself out there. Do something that makes you nervous or makes your palms sweat or you feel unprepared because those are the moments where you grow, learn, advance the most. Those are the moments that allow you to grow as a human being.

Long after we're done taking classes at school, we learn some pretty great lessons in life. Pay attention to the news, watch industry trends, listen to podcasts, flip through magazines, participate in groups. I'm always looking to absorb.

My first in-person coaching intensive? It challenged me to prepare three hours worth of lessons, knowledge, & consulting into one meeting. Despite the preparation, it challenged me to think on the fly, answer questions on a whim, & give my expert opinion immediately. It challenged me & I like it. Always learn.

What's your go-to outfit? When was the last time you challenged yourself? :]

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

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