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


40+ Things To Do In Conejo Valley, California

Monday, February 26, 2018

This post is sponsored by Augustine Agency but the content & opinions expressed here are mine.

Look familiar? Yep, that's the church from Westworld.
Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California.

Whether you're a hop head who wants to sip their way through the Conejo Valley Beermuda Triangle or whether you're a nature lover who prefers to spend your time on the trail, there are a lot of cool things to do in Conejo Valley, California.

Prefer spending your afternoons sipping wine at a local winery? Want to sleep in, go shopping, & get pampered? Want to take the day to get back to nature? No worries, Conejo Valley has your back. No matter what you love, Conejo Valley has more than enough things to do to keep you occupied.

Whizin Market Square in the morning.
Agoura Hills, California

Where is Conejo Valley?

Conejo Valley is that sweet middle spot north of Los Angeles & south of Santa Barbara, located less than 30 minutes from the beaches of Malibu. Conejo Valley consists of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, & Oak Park.

Lavender latte from Longevity Coffee.
Thousand Oaks, California

If you need caffeine...

1. Sip on a lavender latte or nitro cold brew at Longevity Coffee.
2. Get a coffee at Ragamuffin Roasters.
3. Head to Five07 Coffee Bar and Eatery for coffee, tea, smoothies, or acai bowls.
4. Reserve a space at Tranquility Tea Room or pick up tea to go. 

Mouthful Eatery after the lunch rush.
Thousand Oaks, California

If you're hungry...

5. Get coffee & breakfast at Wildflour Bakery & Cafe.
6. Try the crispy yuca with huancaina sauce from Mouthful Eatery.
7. Eat a taco (or two) at Bad Ass Tacos.
8. Have one of Urbane Cafe's vegetarian-friendly sandwiches.
9. Snack on the mushroom flatbread from Twisted Oak Tavern, made in-house with beer-infused dough.
10. Share some seasonal California comfort food from Lemonade.
11. Find organic, plant-based, gluten-free food at JOI Cafe.

Cheesecake bite from Carrara Pasteries.
Agoura Hills, California

If you have a sweet tooth...

12. Eat a cupcake from Sprinkles Westlake Village.
13. Try the Chevre Goat Cheese Chocolate from TIFA Chocolate & Gelato.
14. Find homemade Italian desserts at Carrara Pastries, an authentic pasticceria.

Random find at Conejo Open Space.
Thousand Oaks, California

If you like nature...

15. Tour the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.
16. Hike Tarantula Hill.
17. Find peace in the Gardens of the World.
18. Channel your favorite movies in Western Town, a real-life set at Paramount Ranch.
19. Hike the Paramount Ranch trails.
20. Swing on the swings at Chumash Park.
21. Spend the afternoon hiking Modelo Trail.
22. Take a quick stroll through Chaparral Park in Oak Park or Old Agoura Park.
23. Explore the wonders of the Conejo Open Space.

Trying tasters at 14 Cannons.
Westlake Village, California

If you like beer...

24. Go to a European-style brewpub (LadyFace Ale Companie).
25. Sip your way through the Conejo Valley Beermuda Triangle: 5 Threads Brewing, 14 Cannons, & Westlake Brewing & Libation.
26. Find the perfect pour or cocktail at Public School 805 in Thousand Oaks.
27. Take a beer home from Bottle & Pint.

If you like wine...

28. Do a wine tasting Giessinger Winery.
29. Go to the Alma Sol Winery tasting room.
30. Enjoy live music & wine at Aldabella Winery in Westlake Village.

Fabric exhibit at Conejo Valley Art Museum.
Thousand Oaks, California

If you like history, art, & culture...

31. Check out the Conejo Valley Art Museum.
32. Make a stop at the California Museum Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO).
33. Learn about 150 years of California history at Reyes Adobe Historical Site.
34. Explore the Stagecoach Inn Museum complex & permanent exhibits.
35. Watch a play at Conejo Players Theatre.
36. Board Air Force One at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
37. Surprise yourself with a $5 mystery read from The Open Book.

Handmade baskets from Bolga Bae at Westlake Promenade Farmers Market.
Westlake Village, California

If you like shopping...

38. Discover The Oaks Shopping Center in Thousand Oaks.
39. Enjoy a boutique experience at Whizin Market Square.
40. Go to The Lakes at Thousand Oaks for shopping, dining, & entertainment.
41. Shop around Janss Marketplace.
42. Stop by The Promenade at Westlake farmers market.

Things to do in Thousand Oaks, California today
Posing like a badass at Conejo Botanical Garden.
Thousand Oaks, California

My Favourites

♥ wandering around Conejo Open Space ♥ lavender latte from Longevity Coffee ♥ browsing local vendors at Promenade at Westlake farmers market ♥ late night movie at Muvico Thousand Oaks 14 ♥ mushroom flatbread from Twisted Oak Tavern ♥ Conejo Valley Botanic Garden ♥ pretzels with mustard at 14 Cannons ♥ pretending to be a famous actor on set at Paramount Ranch ♥ all the nature options ♥ chai tea from Tranquility Tea Room ♥

Are you a nature lover? Beer lover? What's your favorite thing to do in Conejo Valley?

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

A Word of Encouragement from Someone 8 Months into Their Blogging & Entrepreneurial Journey

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hi friends!

Thank you so much for reading my blog & following my story.

It's been 8 months since I quit my corporate job. I decided to quit while I was traveling in Paris. I remember exploring the beauty of Paris, answering emails, working on a paid campaign, eating Parisian meals, & thinking: "I'm ready to quit my corporate job for something better." It was in Paris, France that I decided to put all my effort into my blog, my coaching, my writing, my creative journey, my travels. Read the blog post.

Once I got back from my Paris trip & remained at my job for a few weeks as I sorted through my life. Do I have the finances for this? Can I do this? Do I have a set plan? Can I do this? Can I do this? Can I do this? 

But hey, you never know if you're going to be successful, but that's part of taking the leap. None of my best moments in life were easy moments. None of them. That's when I wrote I'm quitting my corporate job to pursue my dream.

It's been a whirlwind ever since.

I quit my job in June 2017.

I created content for a paid campaign with Sapporo.

I worked with Magnum Ice Cream.

I talked about what it's like to be a professional blogger. I wrote it from my luxury hotel room as part of a press trip n Reno, Nevada. 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.

I did a press trip to Reno, Nevada.

I opened up & talked more about why I quit my corporate job.

I did paid campaigns with prAna & Absolut.

I created a sponsored blog post for Aroma Outfitters. 

I took some time off to travel to London during Christmastime & it was absolutely magnificent! 

I traveled to Palo Alto, California for a press trip with The Clement Hotel.

I worked with Grocery Outlet, a brand I am soooo obsessed with.

I had highs & lows. I had days where money came to me in abundance & days where I wasn't sure if any money would come in at all. I write this post for myself & for everyone working to make their dreams, goals, & visions happen. Some days it feels like nothing is happening, like you made no progress. But here's what I always try to remember: success is a series of small wins.  Do something each day, even if it feels so ridiculously small. Because after a year of daily effort, 365 small things is actually quite enormous. 

I'd love to hear your story. Who are you? What are you working on? What are your goals? Leave a comment! :]

January 2018: My Month from A - Z

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Live every day. Take note of it. Because those little moments matter. I did this My Month from A - Z series from January to July of 2017 as a way to chronicle my life. I fizzled out, but I'm back at it again in 2018. I challenge you to write your own My Month from A-Z post too! Leave a comment if you write one! 

* This post may contain affiliate links. 

Argan oil - I've been using argan oil to moisturize my face during the winter. It keeps my skin fresh & it smells heavenly too. I mention it a lot on my Instagram Stories! :]

Boxing -  Find a physical activity you genuinely enjoy. It'll make working out so much easier. I started boxing at Title Boxing Club once a week with my friend, Christina. It's empowering! Have you boxed before?

Chlorophyll -  Chlorophyll is what makes plants green. I pour a few drops of liquid chlorophyll into my water, turning it a deep, dark green, almost black. It love it! Chlorophyll may increase red blood cells, reduce inflammation & altitude sickness, & it might even help manage body odor.

Earl Grey - My love of Earl Grey is nothing new, but I love the coconut-y spin in this Earl Grey Crème from Good Earth Tea.

Facial - I got a facial at Browology & it was such a cool experience. I even took a photo in front of their live plant wall.

Girls Night - Need I say more? Sometimes a girls night is necessary.

Hikes - Fred & I had our fair share of January hiking adventures. We always keep a lookout for a peaceful place to walk, enjoy nature, & simply breathe.

Invites - I customized some invitations for my sponsored post with Basic Invite (read my blog post here). My favorite? This Gracias from Carmen & Fred one. It's too stinking cute.

January - 2018 is all about finding happiness in the everyday. January was like my childhood summer's off from school. Long, fun, eventful, freeing.

Knowledge - Taking time each week to reflect & go over the top things I learned that week & how I can apply it to the next week.

Library work days - The library has Wi-Fi. There are outlets to plug in our electronics. It's quiet, making it the perfect spot to get some work done for a few hours. Bonus: we started checking out books & reading more often.

Make It Happen planner - Mini. Undated. Fill it in as you go. I'm digging the metallic copper planner from GalisonClick here to get a planner for yourself; they have other colors too.

National City - San Diego is a huge county with multiple cities within it. We spent the day in National City. I loved the matcha milk tea from Sweet Bar Cafe. Just take a look at how beautiful it is! Fred got the Vietnamese Coffee & it's jam-packed with caffeine!

Openness - Working on being more open, aware, vulnerable. It's making me a better human.

Paulina y Malinali Fashion Show - The Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego & Tijuana Innnovadora presented the Paulina y Malinali Fashion Show & photographic expo at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The fashion show aimed to recognize the rich traditions of Mexican indigenous artisans. Such an exciting experience!

Quinoaplex - If you follow me on Instagram & Insta Stories, you might've seen my press package unboxings. The Quinoplex R3 by ONC is supposed to help build damaged & thinning hair. I haven't noticed any difference but the quinoa aspect is certainly intriguing.

Red Lentil Pasta - This red lentil pasta from Trader Joe's is made solely from red lentil flour. High in protein, low on ingredients, this pasta comes with a learning curve/acquired taste. The first time I made it, I ruined it. On my third try with this pasta, I made macaroni & cheese with broccoli. Bliss! Have you tried this pasta?

Spirulina - This freshwater plant is 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. Read my post about spirulina. Click here to shop for spirulina.

The Dip by Seth Godin - An easy, short, thoughtful read for when you're feeling a bit stuck.

Utama Spice - The temple sticks from Utama Spice are dreamy. They're dipped in a unique blend of fragrant essential oils with NO chemical or man-made components.

Versace - I got a Versace Classic skirt for $6 whilst thrift shopping. Thrifting is the bestttttt. There was even a Salvatore Ferragamo blouse, but they marked it up to $80. Not a thrift store price (more like a consignment store).

Whatever Forever Beanie - Spent the day in North Park (a really cool part of San Diego) & found this rad hat.


Youtube Video - Published my first Youtube vlog!


I challenge you to write your own My Month from A-Z post too! Leave a comment if you write one! :]

Tips for Losing Those First 10 Pounds (From Someone Who Struggled to Lose Weight for 2 Years)

Monday, February 05, 2018

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

Health is so much more than a number on a scale. Health is taking care of your mind, body, & soul. Health is learning about yourself & what it takes to be well & feel well. Health is about you & isn't about comparing yourself to anyone else. Health is having a healthy attitude & mindset.

Over the past two years, my weight slowly crept up, up, up. I lost all sight of nutrition, fitness, wellness. As someone who minored in health promotion & disease prevention in university, it almost felt like I regressed in life — unlearning or at the very least avoiding everything I knew. 

But as of this blog post, I've officially lost over 10 pounds. YESSSSSSSS!!! 

Here's the thing: health & wellness looks different for each person. Want to know how I know this? Fred & I ate the same exact things & did the same exact workouts. He immediately lost a noticeable amount of weight whereas & mine did not budge. Do you boo. Do you. Each person's journey is different. Here are my tips!

Upgrade your scale

My swanky Nokia Body+ body composition Wi-Fi scale sets the bar for any other at-home scale because it's actually a body analyzer. Not only is it stylish, but it gives you information on your weight, bone mass, water, muscle mass, fat mass, & even the weather. Once you download the Health Mate app on iOS or Android, you can track all your information over time. Fred likes that he can gauge his muscle mass progress. It gives numbers & data, so you can get a look at what's really going on inside! Plus, the battery life lasts up to 18 months. 

Find a physical activity you genuinely enjoy

If you absolutely loathe jogging on the treadmill, chances are you will find reasons not to do it. Because not doing something you hate is much better than doing something you hate. You feel me? Find a physical activity that you truly like. I started taking a boxing class & not only does it make me sweat like a beast, but I end up feeling like an empowered badass. Exercise can be fun. I honestly never thought I would say such a thing, but it's true. You have to experiment & find something that works for you. 

Get some rad workout gear

Purchase workout clothes that you want to wear. I ditched my eight-year-old boring sports bra for a chic black & white one. It makes me feel good. You don't have to revamp your entire workout gear. Start small. I wore my baggy pajama t-shirt to boxing today, but at least my sports bra was on point, even though nobody saw it.

Nokia might've brought you your first phone but now their mission is to inspire people & their loved ones to take control of their health. Oh yeah! Using chic, connected devices makes it easier for people to understand more about what's happening inside their bodies. Other bonuses: track up to eight people, & it even has special modes for babies & pregnancy. Get your fitness on.

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on health! What's your biggest health tip?

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


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