January 2018 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Celebrating Every Day

Monday, January 29, 2018

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite but the content & opinions expressed here are mine.

I've been a paper hoarder for years, keeping notebooks, cards, & stationary to use "at the right time." They'd stay unused in their stack for years at a time. A pile of unopened notebooks here. A hill of partially written in planners there. And a whole lot of cards (mostly from my grandma's collection) everywhere. 

It wasn't until The Clement gave me personalized Carmen Varner cards & envelopes that my mind reset. The host told me that many people throw their cards away since they don't write letters anymore. I was flabbergasted. I vowed to write more, to celebrate every day, & to cherish those closest to me. I used the cards immediately & wrote heartfelt letters to some of my closest friends during the end of 2017 holidays. The response was overwhelming.

Although most of my job & life is digital, it felt humbling to reconnect with pen & paper. We aren't granted tomorrow, so it's important to celebrate every day. It was this mindset that sparked my blogging, entrepreneurial, & life strategy for 2018: live with intention. I want to live — both fully & with purpose — every single day. 

No event is too big or too small to celebrate. That's why I was positively thrilled when Basic Invite let me pick out some samples to try out. Basic Invite allows you to create custom invites for weddings, baby showers, graduations, business, holidays, parties, & wayyy more directly on their website. 

Because I had no clue what I wanted (damn you indecisiveness), I created a few samples to get a feel. Simply customize with your names, colors, fonts, & hit the "order a sample" button. I ended up swapping colors & fonts to suit my blog & brand. I opted for samples of business stationery, bridal shower thank you (!!), & personalized invites for birthday. Just look at them. Aren't they freaking adorable? The samples are an affordable way to test out various cards if you don't know what you want. 

If you're looking to celebrate every day or if you want some sexy stationary to send your friend & family for an upcoming event, Basic Invite is a seriously fabulous option. Customer service is friendly & prompt. Prices & delivery times are reasonable. So, what are you celebrating today?

Tell me which Basic Invite card you like best! :]

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

How Getting Laid Off & Going into Debt Changed Our Lives for the Better

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In July 2016 my boyfriend got laid off from his work at a marketing agency. It came out of the blue. I remember being at a corporate event for my work at the time; we'd done some volunteering at a community garden & were getting lunch as a team. I was laughing with a couple of my closest coworkers over a beer when Fred texted me, "I was let go at work."

The giggles stopped. Mine at least. My coworker looked at me, slightly concerned.

"Fred got laid off," I mouthed. I didn't want everyone at the table to hear the news. She put her hand on my arm & said, "It'll be okay."

Fred applied to jobs every day. Every single day. He got responses. He got callbacks. He got interviews. He even got a few mediocre offers. After 6 months of not finding anything that was a good fit, he felt dejected. 

Although he didn't have income coming in, he still had bills to pay. I helped whenever I could but eventually, he drained his savings cushion. Then he went a couple thousand dollars into debt. 

Laid off.

Those aren't positive words.

It wasn't a positive time. 

But we continued.

In January 2017, he stopped sending resumes to open job positions. Instead, he began sending out pitches to work as a freelance writer. 

He got one client. 

He wrote.

He got paid!

He slowly started paying off the debt. 

He kept sending pitches. 

He kept getting clients. 

He kept paying off the debt. 

In July 2017, after six months of working for himself, Fred made more money per month than he made at his agency job, or any job for that matter. After six months of working for himself, he paid off his debt. After six months of working for himself, he began saving money. 

I saw his growth. Not only did his funds grow, but more importantly, his confidence grew, his happiness, his knowledge. He inspired me. I quit my job in June 2017 to blog & coach full-time.

But I had my layoffs as well. I actually got laid off twice from two different jobs in just over a year. I was six months into my very first social media job, when they called us in for a team meeting: the company was disbanding & we had two weeks. I was devastated. I enjoy my coworkers. I enjoyed my bosses. I enjoyed my job.

After a couple months of unemployment, I found a new job working for a nutraceutical company. I just returned home from a vacation when I received. "No need to come in." I was actually a 1099 freelance contractor but I still went to office every day. I later found out that the owner sold the company.

It's devastating to get laid off because you feel like it's your fault, like you weren't good enough to keep on the team.

Fast forward to 2018. We're basically coworkers, each working on our own ventures whilst still supporting & empowering the other. It's not easy. We work more than ever before, but it's so much more rewarding. The days go by quickly because we LIKE what we do. Because we like what we do, it doesn't seem like a chore to work. We're learning how to work better together, how to support each other without stepping on toes, how to love one another as we grow as human beings & entrepreneurs. It's been quite a journey.

But getting laid off & going into debt changed our lives for the better. If we didn't have that giant kick in the ass, who knows how long Fred & I would've stayed at our jobs? I'm grateful for it every day.

Why? Because it's Wednesday at 11:47 a.m. & I'm writing this post in a coffee shop in Carlsbad, California. Fred is next to me typing away on his laptop. We're both working. It's technically winter but the temperature is 71 °F. Because I earned money as I sipped on my coffee. Because I LOVE my job, something I hadn't felt in a couple of years.

So, if you're going through something right now, if you feel dispirited too, keep pushing through. You're in a tunnel right now. You know how it seems like there's no way out? There... See that? It's the light. Keep walking & working toward it. You'll get there. :]

What did you think of this post?  Leave me a comment! Tell me about your "tunnel" moment!

6 Vegan Superfoods to Add to Your Grocery List

Thursday, January 18, 2018

This post is sponsored by Grocery Outlet but the content & opinions expressed here are mine.

Superfoods are good for the mind, body, & soul. But what in the world is a superfood? A superfood is defined as a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health & well-being. Get the inside scoop vegan superfoods that you should add to your grocery list immediately.

I bought all my superfood goodies from Grocery Outlet, a family-owned business that offers high-quality products at 40-70% less than traditional grocery stores. I'm a Grocery Outlet fan because I've been able to try name brand products (makeup, food, kitchen, etc.) at a fraction of the cost. 

They have an entire section devoted to organic, specialty, healthy, & natural foods – they call it NOSH. I only spent $25.41 & I bought: nut butter, spirulina powder, kombucha, pure maple syrup, organic pure vanilla extract, vegetable broth, pistachios,  & avocado oil! I'm honest when I say I love shopping at Grocery Outlet! So, without further ado, let's learn about these superfoods & then go eat them.

Avocado oil is one of few edible oils not derived from seeds. It's pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit. Avocado oil is a good source of lutein, which is known for its essential roll in eye health.

Pistachios are one of the most fiber-rich nuts around, right after almonds. One serving/1 oz. of pistachios gives you 2.9 grams of fiber.

Almond Cashew Butter

Almonds are the highest fiber nut out there. Cashews contain vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), & vitamin K (phylloquinone). Oh & nut butter is a decent protein source as well.

Maple Syrup

In comparison to sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or white table sugar, maple syrup contains higher levels of nutrients & antioxidants. Maple syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants. Plus, it's an excellent vegan alternative to honey.


Spirulina is a freshwater plant used worldwide as both superfood & dietary supplement. Initial studies show that spirulina could help in the production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, & cells that improve immunity.

Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract is antibacterial & can help reduce inflammation. Plus, vanilla is incredibly versatile & that's one of its biggest benefits. Add it to pancakes, smoothie, coffee, oatmeal, sauces. The options are limitless.

Which of these superfoods do you already have in your cabinet? And which are you adding to your grocery list? :]

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

Puritan's Pride Haul aka I Bought More Essential Oils & Another Diffuser

Monday, January 15, 2018

If I had a dollar for every time I said "essential oil," I'd be a very, very rich person right now. My love of essential oils is no secret. After all, my essential oil collection is out of control. But I'm okay with that. I mean, I use them all the time. It's not like they're a precious item I hoard & worship but never use. So, why not share some of my latest additions?

It's a warm & sunny winter day in Northern San Diego. I'm sitting in my office nook as I take a sip of my Earl Grey tea with a splash of almond milk. My light up diffuser disperses the scented vapor throughout the house. I mixed birch, cedarwood, & sage. Ah, how blissful it is to work from home.

* Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

My diffuser is the silver SpaRoom Spa-Mist Ultrasonic Mystic & Fragrance Diffuser. This is the second time I've purchased it because the first one stopped working. It was so cheap I just bought it again. This time I'll take better care of it & hope it'll last longer than a handful of months. I love that you can turn the lights on or off. I leave the light continuously on so it can change colors, but you could set it on one specific color or leave the lights off entirely.

I reordered my favorite tea tree oil by Aura Cacia as well as something called the Essential Oil Hippie Pack, which included birch, patchouli, & cedarwood essential oils. The cedarwood essential oil is giving me major heart eyes emoji vibes right now.

I ordered everything from Puritan's Pride. The site is enormous with a huge range of vitamins, herbs, beauty, personal care, food, & even pet products. Get your hyaluronic acid beauty cream, vegan-friendly multivitamins, portable essential oil diffusers, & dried vegetable chips in your jammies. Love it!

Have you ever ordered from Puritan's Pride? What's your favourite essential oil? :]

* Disclaimer: I included affiliate links to the items I mentioned. As always, all opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure. :]

My Blogging & Entrepreneurial Strategy for 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hey everyone & happy new year! My goal this year is to live life with intention. I want to live my life — both fully & with purpose — Each.&.Every.Day. Honestly, there's no time to delay when it comes to life. We aren't granted tomorrow.

So, rather than sit in our office nook at home as per usual, Fred & I headed to Carlsbad, California to get some work done. Carlsbad is a seaside city on the Pacific coastline of northern San Diego County, about 87 miles/140 km south of Los Angeles & 35 miles/56 km north of downtown San Diego.


We set up our office of the day at Sleeping Tiger Coffees. Lately, my drink of choice has been an Americano, but this time I opted for a drip coffee. Fred tried a hammerhead (an espresso mixed with drip coffee), as per the suggestion of the barista. It was gnarly, but tasty. Sleeping Tiger Coffees is a mini coffee house espresso bar within Witch Creek Winery. Essentially, you could sip coffee while you work, then swap to wine once they begin serving at noon.

Now don't know whether it was the caffeine kicking in or whether I felt motivated by the new year, but I was pretty productive in my coffee house workspace. I answered promotional emails, responded to press emails, reached out to all my coaching clients, vlogged, wrote, documented. 

After three or so hours there, we packed up & moved on to explore the city. Fred & I checked out the Carlsbad sign as well as the diagonal crosswalk. After that it's an easy walk to Carlsbad State Beach. Sink your toes in the sand with a stroll on the beach. Or take the sidewalk for a bird's eye view. 

Even though it's winter & even though it's January, the weather in Carlsbad is remarkable. I went for a light three-quarter long sleeve paired with my super cool in palm tree embroidered shirt with buttons. It's a thrifted find. The weird thing?! It was sitting in my closet for well over a year & I'd never worn it before. 

Oh, & guess what? I'm wearing pants, Like jeans. I haven't worn jeans in maybe two or three years. That's a remarkable accomplishment on my part, but I'll give credit to the pants as well. They're super comfy & stretchy & they fit like a dream. They're the Peyton Slim Boyfriend Jeans from Liverpool Jeans

New year, new me, you know? 


I want to do more, be more, achieve more, write more, read more, travel more. I want to live everyday & take time to appreciate each day for what it is. Cheers to the new year! I feel inspired & motivated!


That's my motto for 2018. That's my blogging & entrepreneurial strategy for 2018. That's my goal.

I'd been mulling it over. I had an idea in my head, a thought, a vision. But it wasn't vibrant. I knew I wanted to focus on writing again. Focus on blogging to blog, blogging for the sheer joy of it. I knew I wanted to focus on life & living. After a couple exercises at Christina's The Power Of Vulnerability: New Beginnings gathering last night, it came to me so succinctly.


So I want to know... What's your favorite coffee beverage right now? What are your thoughts on pants? Yay or nay? What is your goal for the year? Leave a comment. :]

How I Earned $15,000+ From Blogging

Friday, January 05, 2018

How do bloggers earn money? Where do they earn their income? Larger influencers tend to make their money when brands come to them directly, but what do you do when you're starting out? What happens if you don't have huge brands reaching out to you via email or social media platforms? How can you earn money when you don't have an enormous following or crazy page views?

I earned $15,000 from my creative blog/social media channels since 2017 & these are some of the networks I used. Each has its own requirements, so be sure to check each one & sign-up if something suits your fancy. Here's to a profitable 2019!

* Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.

How I Earned $15,000 From My Blog Since 2017

Social Fabric
Social Native
Amazon Affiliates

Blogging is just one of my income streams. It's important to have multiple income streams. You never know how one month is going to fare compared to the next. Find multiple ways to earn money.

Take Reese Witherspoon for example. You may have seen her in Big Little Lies, Sing, or Hot Pursuit. She gets paid to act, we know that. But she also has a lifestyle brand Draper James that sells clothing, handbags, jewelry, & home accents. She established the production company, Pacific Standard. She was a global ambassador for Avon. I mean, she has a lot going on. That's business. She doesn't rely on just one income stream.

Increase your creative blog income this year!


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