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


A Bunch of Amazing Gift Ideas Under $50 Practically Everyone

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

'Tis the season for gift guides! To save you time & money, I created this massive list of amazing gift ideas for pretty much anyone in your life & they're all $50 & under. Yep, you read that right. $50 & under. From the wanderlusting world traveler to the up-to-date gadget lover, there something is something here for everyone.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

For the cool friend

These gifts are perfect for the cool friend. We all have that friend who has a je ne sais quoi quality to them. They're one-of-a-kind & awesome. You hold them with high respect & you're happy to have them in your life.

I Want to Believe T-Shirt // got my boyfriend this, he loves it. Also great if you're an X-Files fan!
Backless loafer mules // affordable version of the trendy $600+ Gucci loafers
Chunky knit sweater // can never go wrong with a chunky knit sweater
Enamel pin // your friend can put it on a bag, shirt, vest, hat, backpack, etc.
Laboratory beaker mug // the coolest mug for the coolest friend

For the World Traveler

These gifts are perfect for the person who loves to travel the globe. These presents can make their travels more comfortable & memorable. This friend is always ready for a trip, near or far. Adventure awaits! 

Travel journal // your friend can jot down all their adventures in this rad journal & pen
Plaid infinity scarf // a comfy scarf is a plane essential - trust me!
Los Angeles art print //  if your friend is home sick or itching for their next journey
Packing cubes // helps to compact & organize all packing needs
Active noise canceling headphones // comes with microphone, airplane adapter, & carrying case

For the Badass Blogger

These gifts are perfect for the badass blogger in your life. They're looking for some cool ways to elevate their blog posts, Instagram photos, online presence, & office. Take a look at these blog-friendly goodies.

Faux fur rug // a great way to spruce up the office corner or use as a blog prop
Diptyque Roses candle // this teeny tiny candle is photo-friendly for any post
Changeable felt letter board // personalize your next event, photo, blog post, or post it on your Insta
Light up phone case // get Kim Kardashian-quality selfies with this rad case
Clip on phone lens // add a little oomph to the average phone photo

For the Gadget Lover

These gifts are perfect for any gadget lover. What do you get to the person who owns every little gizmo & gadget? How about another gizmo? These items are totally useful, so they won't forget it in the back of the storage closet.

Bluetooth in-ear wireless headphones // who needs headphones with wires these days?
Portable Bluetooth color changing LED Speaker // a cool gadget to take it pretty much anywhere
PopSocket // they'll wonder how they ever used their phone without one
Aluminum laptop stand // thin, sleek, functional
Cactus headphone audio splitter // because we've all needed one at some point

For the Beauty Fiend

These gifts are perfect for all the beauty hoarders out there. Holla! Grab these holiday gift sets before they sell out. Gift sets tend to give you a better bang for your buck, which is why I love them. Oooh, so shiny.

Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Trophy Wife // glow on, girl!
Tarte Goddess Essentials Color Collection // a three-piece set of goddess essentials
Fresh Sugar Lip Beauty Box // a gift collection with six lip treatments
Tarte Make Believe in Yourself Eye & Cheek Palette // this palette is stunning, read my thoughts on it

For the cooking master

These gifts are perfect for the cooking master who enjoys spending time in the kitchen. Professional or not, they're always experimenting with new recipes & could use some up-to-date kitchen necessities. 

Double mezzaluna // for quick chopping
Veggie spiralizer // their kitchen isn't complete without a veggie spiralizer
Bamboo single turntable // a great tool to organize/display foods & spices
Nut hammer // this just looks really cool
9 Piece professional knife set // oooooh aaaah knives

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

Things To Do at Playas de Tijuana, Mexico

Monday, November 20, 2017

Enjoy a view of the Pacific Ocean from Playas de Tijuana in the Northwestern corner of Mexico. Spanish for "beaches of Tijuana," Playas de Tijuana is a beach spot right at the border of Mexico & the United States. The border fence itself extends out into the ocean. You'll find street art, a variety of food options, & serene views at this unique beach on the border. There are many things to do at Playas de Tijuana!

Take in the Art

On the Mexican side, murals & graffiti cover the metal bar fence. Someone wrote "the peace is possible" across 11 of the iron bars. Another says "hay sueños," Spanish for "there are dreams." There's a red heart, a smiley face, hand prints, a peace sign. People's names: Juan, Hector, Mario, Ivan. There's even a dolphin sculpture, a lighthouse, & Tijuana sign for your Instagram selfie needs.

Stroll the Boardwalk

People watch as you strut your stuff across the boardwalk. Although there are some tourists, you'll more often see families hanging out together, couples grabbing lunch, kids running across the boardwalk, shop owners setting up for the day. You might see border agents or Mexican police simply because you're so close to the border. The beach is also dog-friendly, I saw people walking their dogs & enjoying the beautiful beaches with their canine friends.

Eat the Food

Eat an authentic meal with a peaceful ocean view. There are many food options as you walk across the boardwalk. Lots of seafood & micheladas. Eat a huitlacoche taco. Keep an eye out to see what's open. We were there around noon; many restaurants were closed or just opening up. Eating is obviously one of the best things to do in Tijuana (& Mexico & everywhere!).


Depending on when you arrive, there are reasonable parking options. We were there midday midweek & had absolutely no problem at all. Visit during a busy weekend or holiday, & parking might be a more difficult to acquire.

Come to Playas de Tijuana, Mexico for a day trip; there's plenty of things to do. Start off with a few cool photos by the Tijuana sign, walk the boardwalk, eat some food, & enjoy the weather! Check out more photos from my Tijuana trip here & here.

* 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. 

Have you visited Tijuana? Leave a comment on your faves! :]

Staying Organized While Traveling, Blogging, & Working from Anywhere

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thank you to Tile, Inc., for sponsoring today’s post & inspiring me to keep track of everything that matters.

The last couple months have been so hectic as a new entrepreneur & there are no signs of it slowing down. Yesterday, I came home from a wedding only to realize I still hadn't unpacked from my Palm Springs trip two weeks ago. I kicked off my baby pink velvet pumps & walked over to my wall calendar to tally up the days until the next excursion. 

Just as I thought. Later this week, I'm heading to Northern California for a media trip. I get to stay in a hotel room for one night to create buzz on my blog for their holiday amenities. It's going to be a blast! Then, yep, London is in 2 weeks. 

I love this. 

I love that this is my life. 

I love that I am free. I can work from anywhere as long as I get Wi-Fi. Whether I'm crafting a blog post, sharing an update to my social media channels, or chatting via video call with one of my coaching clients, my workday feels like the summers of my childhood — long, exciting, beautiful, hopeful, marvelous, inspirational. But I always knew those childhood summer breaks from school would end. 

Summer ended, but I'm still here. That's the beauty of it. That's the beauty of being your own boss, of being an entrepreneur, of being self-employed, working from ANYWHERE. You don't know what next month will hold or next year. It's all within my own hands. 

But that's also the challenge. 

I'm constantly switching suitcases, bags, folders, backpacks. Sometimes it's hard to keep track where everything is. Did I leave my camera charger in the Palm Springs suitcase? Where the heck is my planner? Which backpack is my favorite sweater in?

Cue Tile.

Use Tile & the Tile app to be a part of the lost-and-found community, where friends & strangers come together to find everything that matters. You can easily hook, stick, or slide a Tile onto or into anything you don’t want to lose like the earrings your grandmother gave you or Earnie the stuffed panda, & of course, keys, phones, wallets. I put Tile in my business planner.

My planner contains receipts, deadlines, tasks, & everything I could possibly need to stay organized while traveling, blogging, & working from anywhere.

Tile gives me peace of mind so I can track my item in a jiffy. I use my phone to locate my planner & figure where it is. It ended up saving me time because rather than sifting through yesterday's suitcase & today's purse & everything in-between. Beep beep beep. I can find it right away.

My planner means a lot to me. It keeps me on track. It keeps me organized. It keeps me moving forward. It shows every single client session I've had this year. It's been there with me as I transitioned from corporate cubicle to the world of entrepreneurship. If there is something you can't stand to lose, put a Tile on it!

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

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, November 03, 2017

When I quit my full-time corporate job to pursue my own adventures, I didn’t realize how time-consuming everything would be. I figured by having an additional 40+ hours in a week, magic would happen. But that's totally not the case. Your business is your life. You are the boss. Every decision & action ultimately boils down to you. And even though there's always something to do, it's important to take some for self-care. It’s already been five months since I quit my job, so here are five things I'm loving right now!


The countdown is real, as it’s a matter of weeks until we head to London. If you have any recommendations on what to see, eat, experience, drink, let me know in the comments. I want to hear your suggestions! It’s been about 10 years since the last time I went so I could use a refresher.

Bra Detail

I got this cute embroidered bralet at C&A in Paris. Super affordable & adorable. It’s something I can wear every day if I wanted to. It makes me feel confident, sexy, & I love that it’s a functional souvenir from Paris.

Julie Bue's

One of my friend's sent me a few products from her natural skin care line, Julie Bue's. It’s been so fun to test her goodies out. She sent lip gloss, lip balm, bath bomb, coffee scrub, & hand cream. My favourites: the Citrus Zest Body Butter Lotion (works well to heal patchy skin from eczema) & Coconut Lime Lip Gloss. Get 10% off anything from her site when you use promo code ITSCARMEN.

Bachelorette Shenanigans

I attended my first bachelorette party & yes, it was just as crazy, adventurous, ridiculous, as all the movies portray (in its own way). Obviously, I had heaps of fun. The memories will certainly last a lifetime. Do you like my penis sticker?

Black Ice Cream

You may have seen this sexy black ice cream from Little Damage on Instagram. The black cones & ice cream are naturally colored with activated charcoal. I loved the spicy mango flavor, which totally tasted like the lollipop of my elementary school days. Flavors rotate seasonally, it's a surprise once you get there. TMI, but it makes your poop black too.

Alright everyone, time to get back to work. Blogging, coaching, planning, traveling it’s all in my hands. I hope you have a wonderful day & if you’re feeling a little frustrated or like you’re struggling a little bit just know that things take time, effort, consistency, just don’t quit. Make sure that you are always looking back, assessing your goals, & checking results.

If you have any recommendations on what to see, eat, experience, drink in London let me know in the comments. I want to hear your suggestions!


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