A Day in Charleston

One of the things I've loved most about going to USC is how close we are to so many neat cities for day trips. This past Saturday, my friends and I decided to head to Charleston. They had all been before, but it was my first time, so I had so much fun letting them show me around. It was so refreshing to see the ocean and explore a new city-- it felt like I was there for way longer than a day!

Charleston is one of those cities that you can really make the most out of with only a little bit of time. Today I'll be sharing what we did and where we ate in Charleston for our 8 hour trip.

I saw these gourmet donuts on Instagram and knew I had to try them. I got the sea salt chocolate and I tried some of my friends' who got strawberry and the OG. They were all super yummy!

After we were fully fueled by donuts, we headed down to King Street to do some shopping. We parked in a lot at 31 George St and it was pretty centrally located to everything. We shopped at Madewell, Lululemon, Candlefish, Anthropologie and a few other stores, then we stopped in Gucci just for fun. We also walked through the Historic Charleston Market, where there were tons of vendors selling things like art and jewelry. 

The Market


Goat Sheep Cow is basically a restaurant that revolves around cheese. What could be better!? We started off with what they call "crack cheese," marinated feta with spices that you can spread on a baguette. So good. I'm a big fan of hot dogs, so I ordered "le hot dog"-- the most boujee hot dog you could ever get. It was amazing. My friends all got the "monger's grilled cheese," which was also super yummy. We sat outside on their cute little patio but the interior was really cool too. Make sure you go to the north location if you want to sit down and eat, the south location is just a cheese shop! (We made this mistake lol)
Crack Cheese
Le Hot Dog
Monger's Grilled Cheese


After lunch, I was ready to see what all the buzz around Charleston architecture and history was about. We parked and walked out on the pier, along the battery, then through Rainbow Row and the beautiful neighborhood behind it. Since Charleston is in their off-season, it wasn't crowded at all which was great for exploring. We were geeking out over the pretty houses and the historical plaques on them.

Butcher & Bee is a Mediterranean-style trendy restaurant. Not only was the aesthetic and branding immaculate, their food was AMAZING. After a big lunch we weren't super hungry, so Abby and I split the "mezze" platter with falafel, roasted beets, and chipotle-lime sweet potatoes.

Tired and with full bellies, we drove home. I already can't wait to go back to Charleston!

Let me know in the comments: what Charleston spots should I try next?

Stay sunny,

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How I Set Monthly Goals

About six months ago, I began a practice that changed how I live: monthly goal setting. Since then, I have begun living more on purpose -- I stopped feeling like life was just "happening" to me. I treat myself better, I love people better, I am less stressed. I invest in my current and future self. Setting goals helps me to tangibly step in the direction of the life I want to live and the person I want to be every single day!

I hope you'll join me in this endeavor because today I am sharing just how I set monthly goals. It's not a quick one-size-fits-all operation, but I assure you the process is well worth it.


Brainstorming is the first way to outline what you need to be doing better or differently in your life. I do this by considering five categories and a corresponding question with each. I like to read the questions, mull them over for a day, then create a brainstorming page. Here are the categories I use and questions I ask myself:

1. SELF-CARE | mental + physical well-being
"What do I need to do to feel my best mentally and physically?"

Some examples from this category:
Write down three things I am grateful for every day
Meditate four times a week
Include veggies with each meal
Remember to take my daily vitamin
Work out x number of times a week

And I always include: "make sure to actually track goals" as a goal in this section!

2. LEARNING | school + self-betterment
"How can I learn more and learn well?"

Some examples from this category: 
Stay off my phone during class
Read a non-school related book
Practice writing each day
Go to one review session a week
Watch one TED Talk or lecture a week

3. LOVED ONES | family, friends, and everyone
"How can I show up for those I love?"

Some examples from this category:
Call my grandma once a week
Send snail mail to a friend each week
Say hi to someone new every day
Help someone daily

4. FAITH | pursuing a relationship with God
"How can I be a better daughter of God responding to a love that I know?"

Some examples from this category:
Go to weekly Bible Study
Write in my prayer journal daily
Invite a friend to mass
Pray a decade of the rosary each day

5. TIME, MONEY, ENERGY | spending all three wisely
"How can I allocate my resources in an intentional and smart way?"

Some examples from this category:
Look ahead for each week to avoid procrastinating
Track spending
Set a monthly budget
Stop worrying about things out of your control
Spend 1 hour or less on social media a day


The next thing I do in this process is to look at the goals I have brainstormed and decide what is most important at the current moment. I choose anywhere from 1-5 goals from each category based off of what I think I can handle! Make sure not to overload yourself or all of your goals will suffer. It's okay to remove a goal as the month goes on if it gets to be too much to handle.

I'll then move on to creating my goal tracking sheet. To do this, I'll write the category, then the goal, and then a "say no" statement. For example, I would write, "Self care" then under it "Remember to track goals" and then under that "Say no to setting empty intentions."

The reason I include a "say no" statement under most goals is because setting goals can feel overwhelming and like a huge undertaking. But if you think of it as saying no to some things so that you can say yes to other things that serve you better, the goals will feel much more attainable.

Tracking your goals is just as important as setting them. To do this, I draw a "progress bar" instead of a checkbox for each week of the month. On Sundays, I fill in the bar to correspond with how well I followed through, or how often I attempted to follow through, with my goal. If your goal has a numerical correlation, like a number of times you worked out or amount of money you spent, write it in the progress box.

And that's all...

I hope this post was helpful to get you on track to setting your own goals. It's changed my life-- now go change yours!

Let me know in the comments: do you set monthly goals or intentions? What has been your most life-changing so far?

Stay Sunny,


The Most Fun Jumpsuit Ever

I can say without a doubt that this jumpsuit is the most FUN piece of clothing I've ever put on my body. And for good reason-- would you look at those ruffles!? I can hardly keep from smiling whenever I'm wearing it. I paired it with my trusty platform espadrilles (on sale here) to make the ruffles even flowier. I added simple gold hoops to not draw any attention away from the jumpsuit.

I love this jumpsuit because it feels so "me." When we dress for ourselves and our personalities, it can make us feel unstoppable. It reminds me of the reason I fell in love with fashion in the first place -- because it can be used in service of honoring and portraying my true self!


Stay sunny,


Behind The Blog Post

Social media is weird. When it comes down to it, we all are much too familiar with VSCO filters, face tune, texting our friends for caption ideas, and re-taking a photo 67 times. But as we consume media, whether it’s looking at blogs or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, we take what we see at face value. We make assumptions that others don’t go to the same lengths as us for the ‘gram. We assume that the photo and the person’s body hasn’t been edited and that capturing the image was effortless.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is almost never the case. Especially in the blogging realm, photo shoots have a lot of difficult and un-camera-ready moments behind the scenes. As a blogger, it’s my job to create refined and aesthetically pleasing images. However, this doesn’t mean that I want people to think that it comes easy to me, that I’m perfectly styled every moment of the day, or that I’m always doing something blog-worthy. My hope with this post is to show you the typical effort that goes into a blog photoshoot and to help shatter the misconception that the images you see on social media are true to real life. I'll be giving the behind the scenes of a photoshoot where we shot this post and this post, because the situation was not as glamorous as the photos make it seem!


5:00 - Head to Whole Foods to buy sunflowers
5:30 - Take the plastic wrap off of the flowers, then wrap them in a brown paper bag for that #farmfresh vibe
6:00 - Shower, blow dry my hair and start getting ready
6:30 - Do my makeup and straighten my hair
7:20 - Pack the car with three outfits, shoes, jewelry, a picnic blanket (which was actually a scarf), and flowers

7:30 - Drive over to Rachel’s house, jamming music the whole way to get myself pumped
7:40 - Arrive at Rachel’s (I was supposed to get there at 7:30 and I’m embarrassed to say that 10 minutes late is the earliest I’ve ever been to a shoot...)
7:45 - (90 minutes until sunset) We arrive at our location, none other than a local NURSING HOME.
7:47 - I change into my dress and shoes in the back of Rachel’s car, hoping not to flash any elderly people. The dress zipper got STUCK so it's literally unzipped in all of the photos from behind!
7:52 - We literally SPRINT down the street to get to the nursing home lawn that we want to shoot in
7:55 - Stage the picnic area
8:20 - Finish shooting in the lawn and neighborhood
8:22 - Change into my next look while Rachel drives to the next location
8:30 - Finish shooting look #2
8:35 - Change and HYDRATE
8:45 - Finish shooting look #3 (our final look) with 15 minutes to spare before sunset!

A couple days later...
Rachel finishes editing the photos! While we choose to never edit my face or body (there’s quite enough of that in media already), she does things that are way beyond my capability to make sure the lighting, coloring, and shadows of the photos are perfect.

Next time you're looking at social media, just remember that the photo...
...isn't as effortless it seems!

Bloggers: I want to hear from you! Tell me your funny behind the scenes moments :-)

Stay Sunny,

Photos by Rachel Issler


University of South Carolina Dorm Tour

Finally, the post I've been absolutely dying to share, MY DORM TOUR!

I'm a big believer that the physical space you live in has a huge impact on your mental state, so I made it a point to create a room that was not only functional and well-organized, but also fit my personal style and felt home-y. My roommate Abby and I worked really hard to create a space we both loved, and we're so excited to finally get to show it off. So, without further adieu...

My Bed

My bed is the actual comfiest ever. I transformed the hard, plastic-y dorm mattress using a bed bug cover, cushy memory foam mattress topper, and a body pillow between my bed and the wall, topped the softest organic sheets, a weighted blanket, and a light duvet. It's extra and it's heavenly.

We decided to go with matching comforters, shelves, and nightstands, but style them in different ways to fit each of our aesthetics and not be aggressively matchy.

We tacked Christmas lights up around the room and they make it feel so much cozier, especially in the evenings so we don't have to use our harsh overhead light.

Above each of our beds, we hung these adorable circle shelves which are unique and add a modern touch to the room.

On my shelf I have pictures of some of my favorite people, fake peonies, my favorite Bible verse, and a cute "M" from Abby!

In between our beds we keep our essential oil diffuser, oils, and letterboard (I hope you guys all get my Vine reference)!

Abby's Bed and Desk Area

If you look closely, you can see the Matisse Abby recolored on photoshop to match our room. I LOVE it.

My Desk

Quick shoutout to The Everygirl for the print above my desk that inspires me daily! It reads, "You're not the kind of girl who settles, so keep not settling." They have the same one in their office and I adore it!

My desk doubles as a vanity, so my friend Sydney helped me cover one of the pull-out sections in marble contact paper just for fun. I love my light-up mirror for getting ready in the morning without waking Abby up.

Jewelry Storage

I use a peg board with hooks for my necklaces and bracelets.

Abby holds her stuff with these neat cork hexagons.

Food & Other Storage

Next to my desk is our coffee cart, microwave and fridge, and my wardrobe.

The coffee cart has to be one of my favorite parts of the dorm, we can keep all of our teas, coffee, and mugs in one place with the Keurig.

We store laundry/cleaning supplies on Abby's side of the room along with some food and dishes.

And that's all! Thanks so much for taking a look into our little corner of USC.

Tell me in the comments: what's your favorite corner/part of your dorm, home, or apartment?
Stay Sunny,

Photos by Abby Dodson