7.17.2018

Five Things I've Learned in Five Years of Blogging

Five years ago today,  as an eager thirteen-year-old, I sat down at my home computer and started A Sunny State of Mind. I had a lot to say and needed somewhere to say it. I wanted a creative outlet and a place to be me. I chose blogging as my outlet because the blogging industry is face-paced, ever changing, and dominated by self-starting women who are passionate and bold enough to share their ideas with the world. I knew I needed to be part of that!

In many ways, A Sunny State of Mind still serves the same purpose of being a creative outlet and means of personal expression. However, a lot has changed within the past five years, including how I view blogging, myself, and the world around me. I've learned so much more than I ever thought possible through this little corner of the Internet, and so today I want to share five things I have been taught throughout my five years of blogging.

1. Never hide your passions
Starting my blog was so exciting. I would run up to our home office the morning after posting, checking to see how many views I got overnight. One time I reached 14, and I was ecstatic. This excitement for my blog shifted into embarrassment once I reached high school. I only talked to my close friends and family about it, and I was always mortified if someone from school came across my blog's Instagram. The weird part was, I was proud of the content I was creating-- but that didn't matter to me if I was at risk of being judged by my peers. Hiding my blog continued through the rest of freshman year, but one day sophomore year I thought "I'm proud of this, I'm passionate about this, why shouldn't I want people to see it?" Putting my passion for blogging out into the open was so freeing. Sure, I got some rude comments from people, but more often than not my classmates and teachers thought what I was doing was really cool. They supported me and still do! So, I beg you, let your passions shine. Life is much too precious to waste time doubting who you are and what you do. You are so worthy of the confidence and freedom that comes with fully being yourself in every aspect of life!

2013
2. Ask for help when you need it.
Early on in my blogging career, I spent way too many nights frustrated, sitting at my computer, trying to figure out the technicalities of website building, graphic design, and photography. I realized that if I wanted to be successful, I couldn't do this on my own. When I opened my mind to asking for help, I found there were so many talented, smart women willing to support me. I got help with coding my website, taking photos, designing graphics, and editing my posts from my friends. And guess what-- asking for help didn't make me weak. In fact, I felt even stronger that I was able to better fulfill my blog's mission. I constantly get affirmations, advice, and recommendations from my readers, too, and I feel so lucky to have such a supportive community!

2014
3. Authenticity and transparency are so necessary and so appreciated.
I know you've heard it before, but social media (especially in the blogging world) is a highlight reel. However, regardless of how many times we are reminded of this, it's easy to forget when we're scrolling through Instagram and see perfectly filtered snapshots of people's lives. Often times this can create a trap of comparing your own messy, full, and unfiltered life to the version of others' lives on social media. This only leads to anxiety and feelings of being less worthy, happy and successful than others. I try to be authentic on social media and share some less than glamorous moments on my Instagram stories in hopes of shattering the comparisons that haunt our minds after checking social media.

2015
4. You are too interesting, vibrant, and creative to be put into one category.
Every guide for establishing your blog will tell you to "find a niche." And man, have I struggled in vain to fit into a niche. In the past, I overthought my blog strategy and posts to the point where I wasn't having any fun. Eventually, I realized that I had nothing to lose by just writing about what I wanted to write about, being honest about my experiences, and sharing vibrant and fun content that I pour my whole heart into. On my blog you'll find everything from a guide to better sleep, to my prom photos, to the best things to buy for your dorm room. I don't fit under one category, and I wouldn't have it any other way. This lesson extends outside of the blogging world as well. You truly do yourself a disservice by trying to fall under a narrow category. You are complex and you are allowed to love many things!

2016

5. Take your opportunities and run with them.

Blogging has truly opened so many doors for me. Career-wise, it has helped me with internships, professional networking, and even the chance to give a TEDx Talk. However, through my blog I've also made friendships, met like-minded individuals, connected to my readers on a personal level, and have gained confidence. All of these opportunies would have been forgone had I not had an open mind to new experiences, vulnerability, and hard work. Whether you blog or not, if you see even the slightest chance at self-betterment, a new relationship, or a career-building experience-- sprint in its direction. I've really learned that "fortune favors the prepared mind" (a quote from Louis Pasteur) when it comes to having new opportunities come your way!

2017
Blogging has taught me a lot, and I can't wait to see what else is in store as I continue to try my best to inspire women (and men!) to live their most vibrant, sunny, and authenic lives through fashion and healthy living. Thank YOU for following along!

2018
Let me know in the comments: what has blogging taught you?

Stay Sunny,
Meg


7.07.2018

Dorm Inspiration + What I've Bought

I could tell my roommate, Abby, and I would get along when the first thing we did after signing our housing contract was create a joint Pinterest board called "Meg and Abby's Dorm Board." We're both creative and visually oriented (she's a graphic design major with great style), so we knew from the get-go that our dorm needed to show our personalities well while being practical and home-y. Pictures of dream rooms have been sent back-and-forth on the reg and we've slowly been compiling items to take to school next year. I wanted to share a peek at our design inspiration and color palette today, plus what we've already purchased!
We noticed that a common theme among the spaces on our Pinterest board: their natural color schemes with pops of color and minimalistic, but not barren, decor. We loved white bedding with different, fun, throw pillows and plan to implement that in the fall! Plus, we both are huge coffee gals (Abby works at a coffee shop!) so we are excited to create this little coffee cart in our room. 


Instead of being aggressively match-y, we decided on a group of colors to work with in the dorm. We want lots of whites and grays, plus accents of light pink, periwinkle, and gold. Isn't that cute!?

So far, we've bought a few things at a time that we really love instead of trying to get the shopping done in one (stressful) swoop. Here are some of the things we've gotten so far... click on the "+" to shop, or scroll for links if you are on mobile view!



1. Circle Shelf: These will go over each of our beds and will hold frames, books, plants, etc. I love them because they'll keep the dorm design symmetrical but we can each style them in our own way. The back has two holes for hanging so we will use Command Hooks!
2. Triangle Pillow (on sale!): I love how this pillow will add some texture to my bed. Plus, it ships vacuum-sealed so it'll be flat and save space in the car for move-in.
3. Keurig: This was a graduation gift from my aunt and uncle and I already know it's going to be used heavily next year.
4. Rug: I searched for a cute rug for forever, and let me tell you: this is one of the best ones out there.  A lot of rugs I looked at had reviews that said they shed or show dirt easily, and this is not the case with this rug! We got it in a 5x7 which should work for a typical dorm room. I love how it's print will add a fun touch to the room, but it's not so busy that it will completely take over the design.
5. Gold Desk Organizer: HOW FUN is this!? It holds a surprisingly large amount of supplies so I can have some extra storage that doubles as decor.
6. Prints (1) (2): I actually already had these hanging in my room, but I will definitely be taking them with me to hang at school. They are so feminine and fun.

I can't wait to finish up shopping and share the final product with you all!

College girls: Let me know in the comments -- what were some essentials you bought for your dorm? I need help!

Stay Sunny,
Meg


6.30.2018

Chicago Travel Guide: Food to Eat + Things to Do


Chicago is a city after my own heart. Right on the lake, delicious food, trendy spots, great shopping, and a bustling community-- what else could you want? After some amazing summer visits over the past few years, I finally feel like I have a good handle on which places are my favorites in the city, as well as what is the most fun to do. Hopefully this guide will be helpful to you no matter what your plans are for Chicago: day trip, work trip, or girls' trip!

FOOD TO EAT
While in Chicago, you have to take advantage of the food scene. These are my favorite places, organized by meal.

Coffee, Pastries, and Breakfast
The best way to start your day!

1. La Colombe
Location: All over Chicago!
My order: Iced Oat Milk Latte or their Cornerstone Brew
Thoughts: This place was great to grab a quick coffee on my way to work. It was bustling, energetic, and they had a ton of milks to choose from!

2. Sawada Coffee
Location: Fulton Market District
My order: Matcha Latte
Thoughts: From the second I saw the exterior covered in street art, I already loved Sawada's urban and eclectic vibe. The inside is huge and definitely lends itself to a more social coffee shop, rather than a place you would go to do work. This would be a super fun place to hang out with friends and their baristas were super friendly and genuine. The matcha I had was on the sweeter side (while I like them more bitter) so I'm excited to try one of their coffees next time I'm in Chicago.

3. Firecakes Donuts
Location: River North and Lincoln Park
My order: We got a ton of donuts but I loved the vanilla pearl one!
Thoughts: This is THE SPOT for gourmet, delicious donuts. Plus, you can sit at the outdoor tables if it's a nice day!

4. Blue Door Farmstand
Location: Lincoln Park
My order: Eggs Benedict with ham and arugula on a honey pepper biscuit (heart eyes!)
Thoughts: My aunt and I ducked into Blue Door on a rainy morning and it could not have been cozier! Everything on the menu sounded amazing, plus they have lots of juices and coffee drinks.

5. Goddess and The Baker
Location: The Loop, Navy Pier, Wacker & La Salle
My order: Nitro cold brew or kombucha (on tap!)
Thoughts: I grabbed a coffee here after SoulCycle next door and it was such a bright + colorful space! The cold brew I had was super strong, and I have also had their kombucha which was tart and refreshing.

Lunch or Dinner
The vibrant array of Chicago restaurants won't disappoint you for lunch and dinner!

1. Duck Duck Goat
Location: Fulton Market District
My order: My mom and I split the Chilly Chili Noodles, Char Siu Bao (steamed bbq pork buns), and Chiu Chow Fun Gor (shrimp and peanut dumplings)
Thoughts: This had to be my favorite meal of my most recent trip, from the expertly decorated interior and lively atmosphere to the best Chinese food I've ever had. Each of the dishes we had I would 100% order again-- especially the dumplings! I want to go back for Dim Sum ASAP.

2. Cruz Blanca
Location: Fulton Market District
My order: Avocado Tostada (mine) or La Clasica Tostada (mom's)
Thoughts: This laid-back brewery and taqueria was the perfect refreshing and relaxing meal after our flight. They had a great patio area and Mexican food that was different from your typical restaurant (and you can get a tostada that's bigger than your face).

3. Restoration Hardware
Location: Gold Coast
My order: Truffle grilled cheese + garlic fries
Thoughts: Yes, you read that right, Restoration Hardware in Chicago serves food! Eating in the atrium of RH made me feel like I was dining out on a terrace in Paris-- it's a must-see during daylight. If I could do this meal again, I'd go in the morning or afternoon and just get coffee and juices. While the food was good, it was a little overpriced. However, eating here is definitely not about the food! After you eat, take a walk through the many floors of the RH showrooms, ending with the rooftop patio.

4. The Hampton Social
Location: River North
My order: Lobster mac + cheese
Thoughts: This restaurant definitely brought a bit of the Hamptons' beachy-chic vibe to Chicago. Get the lobster mac + cheese!

5. Stella Barra
Location: Lincoln Park
My order: Avocado + Arugula Pesto Pizza
Thoughts: I came here with my aunt and uncle who eat a plant based diet. While my pizza was not vegan (it had goat cheese), their "red pizza" with tomato jam looked delicious. If you are vegan or someone you're traveling with is-- check this place out, they are very accommodating! And if you are not vegan, you'll love it just as much: I could've eaten my entire pizza by myself. I forgot to take my leftovers home and it's one of my biggest life regrets.

photo via foxtrot
6. Foxtrot
Location: Lincoln Park, West Loop, River North, Wicker Park
My order: Meditteranean salad
Thoughts: Foxtrot is essentially a swanky convenience and gift store. If you want good snacks for your hotel room or a pre-packaged but fresh lunch for work-- check it out. They also have kombucha on tap and a Jeni's Ice Cream connected to the Lincoln Park location!

7. Somerset
Location: Gold Coast-ish
My order: Roasted Turkey & Avocado Sandwich
Thoughts: Walking into Somerset feels like you're entering a nice cruise ship/country club. The food, service, and atmosphere were all awesome-- get a reservation, though!

8. Beatrix
Location: Fulton Market District, Streeterville & River North
My order: Straight A or Caesar Salad, Kennebec Fries, Arize Kombucha
Thoughts: Beatrix serves fresh and healthy fare in a minimalistic yet chic restaurant/market space. My salads were delicious, but I also love stopping into Beatrix for a kombucha, coffee, or cookie. AND their fries have thinly sliced fried lemon on top (so unexpectedly good!)

Sweets
Indulge your sweet tooth at one of these cute shops

1. Sweet Mandy B's
Location: Near DePaul
My order: Confetti Cookie with Icing
Thoughts: Don't tell anyone...but my aunt and I got cookies from Sweet Mandy B's to sneak into the movie theater, and it was the best decision ever. Their frosting was so melt-in-your-mouth good and they definitely are not stingy with it.

2. Jeni's Ice Cream
Location: All over
My order: Salted PB with Chocolate Flecks and Wildberry Lavender Ice Cream
Thoughts: As an Ohio girl and a Jeni Britton Bauer admirer, Jeni's ice cream will always be one of my favorites! If you don't have one at home it will definitely be worth a visit.

3. Sprinkles Cupcakes
Location: Right off the Magnificent Mile
My order: Strawberry Cupcake
Thoughts: You've probably seen Sprinkles' legendary "Cupcake ATM" on Instagram before...go pay it a visit (or order in store). Their cupcakes really are worth the hype.


THINGS TO DO
There's always something fun to do while in Chicago!

1. Soulcycle
I took my first Soulcycle class while in Chicago and loved it! The intense and motivating atmosphere made for a really fun (and challenging) workout.

2. Shopping
...Duh! Walk the Magnificent Mile and stop into huge, glittering storefronts like Zara and Nordstrom.

3. The Skydeck
This is something everyone should do once. You can't beat the view! I went at sunset which was absolutely gorgeous. The wait can get long though, so try going right when it opens or after 5 PM.

4. Shedd Aquarium
The Shedd is an awesome place to spend your afternoon. Seeing such cool aquatic life made me feel like I was in Finding Nemo!

That's all for now! I hope these tips were helpful in planning your next trip to The Windy City.

Stay Sunny,
Meg

PS: Do you have any Chicago recommendations? I'm always looking for new things to try!


6.14.2018

A Week of Outfits: Internship Edition

As many of you know, I had the awesome opportunity to spend the past week in The Everygirl office as an intern. This was my first formal internship, and I have to say it was better than I could've ever imagined! Being able to see the editorial process from start to finish against the backdrop of the Fulton Market District in Chicago was a dream come true. The all-female staff was a picture of smarts, strength, creativity, and ambition. They showed me women supporting women in such a real way and I am so grateful to have gotten to spend time with them. 

My time with The Everygirl contained tons of new experiences, including dressing in office wear for a week. Because the dress code was relaxed, I had a ton of fun creating these outfits. I wanted to share them for those of you with internships, office jobs, or other "business casual" events so that you can break out of your workwear routine and mix up your wardrobe.

MONDAY
With Monday being my first day, I chose to wear my most formal outfit of the week. A good rule of thumb is to dress a bit nicer than you think you have to, especially if you are not sure of your office's dress code or are in the interview stage. Being slightly overdressed will make a good first impression while being underdressed might come off as sloppy or uncaring.


TUESDAY
I love how the tie-front on this blouse adds a sassy touch. I paired it with the most comfortable jeggings ever and low profile slides.


WEDNESDAY
I was able to show my personality by adding fun earrings to a more formal dress. The dress also had a long keyhole opening in the back, so I made it more office-appropriate by layering a black tank top underneath. The dress itself is custom from Fame & Partners, but you can customize your own here.
How cute are the other interns!?


THURSDAY
I dressed up the pants from this post by pairing them with a popover shirt. I ended up getting huge blisters from these shoes, so I linked similar looking (but hopefully higher quality) pairs below to spare you the pain.



FRIDAY
Yes, there are avocados on my scarf! If your office allows it, don't be afraid to have fun and show what you love through your clothing.



Stay Sunny,
Meg

Check out my first article published on The Everygirl here.



5.23.2018

A Very Blog-able Birthday

On May 10th, I turned eighteen! I celebrated the start of a new year in the same way I did last year, with lots of pizza and good company. After dinner, my boyfriend, Greg, handed me an envelope that said "Open on Friday night" and asked that I keep my entire Saturday free. I'm not usually one for surprises, but I knew he had something good up his sleeve so I happily agreed. Come Friday night, I tore into the envelope to find a very formal letter printed in calligraphy font that read, "Today you will partake in a Blog-able Birthday, consisting of great fun documented by a nice camera. Are you up for the day?" followed by a packing list and some instructions. I packed a bag of some "dope outfits" (in Greg's words), and went to bed-- excited for what the day would hold! In this post, I wanted to share not only the photos that Greg took, but also the day's agenda because it was one of the most fun and well thought out days I've ever had!

Greg picked me up at 11, handed me a blindfold to wear in the car, and took me for a "blog-able" coffee run: iced lavender and orange zest lattes.

Practicing his newly aquired photography skills
We then headed downtown for lunch on an adorable outdoor patio. Like any good blogger, Greg pulled the car over when he saw some aesthetically pleasing backgrounds for photos.

outfit details: pantsplatform sandals (3 colors!) | similar shirt
After lunch, my blindfold went back on and Greg drove us to a dog park, where some of my best friends and THEIR DOGS and MY DOG were waiting! We played at the park for a while then sat outside to eat ice cream at Ben and Jerry's (my favorite).

After that, we got back in the car for what Greg told me would be a "20 minute drive." Well, an hour later, we were in Newport, Kentucky. We had matcha lemonades on a balcony that overlooked the river and snapped some photos before heading 10 minutes south into Cincinnati.

outfit details: leather sandals | top | similar skirt
When I took off my blindfold in Cincinnati, I immediately recognized the venue as Washington Park, but I had no idea what was going on or why so many people were gathered. Greg told me it was the annual Asian Food Festival, which got me excited because I love international foods. Little did I know that Greg had schemed with my best friend, Caroline, who goes to Miami University to meet us at the festival. Needless to say, I freaked out a little when I saw her.


This day was the perfect start to my 18th year, and I can't wait to see what other good things are to come during it!

Thank you, Greg, for planning this day and thank you to all of my friends who joined us in the fun!

Stay Sunny,
Meg