Trader Joe's Must Haves

If you're like me, you've probably spent many afternoons wondering through the glorious aisles of Trader Joe's. And rightfully so-- it's a GOLDMINE of delicious, healthy, and affordable food. In all my visits to Trader's, I've discovered a ton of products that have now become my go-to's. That's why it was super easy for me to come up with my top ten Trader Joe's must haves!

1. Frozen Cauliflower Rice- Apparently cauliflower rice is all the rage these days, and I for one love it. It's super easy to saute with some veggies for lunches throughout the week, or you can use it as a base for a Chipotle inspired "burrito bowl." It's an easy way to sneak some extra veggies into your diet.
2. Handful of Roasted and Salted Cashews- These are my absolute favorite snack to take to school. When I'm running out the door, this is a healthy pre-packaged option that I can just grab and go!
3. Dark Chocolate Cacao Nibs- If you are serious about your dark chocolate, these will become your new obsession. I love throwing them on top of granola, eating them with nuts or raspberries, or just snacking on them plain.
4. Raspberry Lime Spindrift- As a die-hard La Croix girl, I can't even believe this is on my list. But, I recently tried Spindrift when I bought it on a whim at TJ's, and I LOVE it. It's a bit more flavorful than La Croix and I can't get enough.
5. Everything but the Bagel Seasoning- This is THE best. Sprinkling it on avocado toast has been taking my breakfast to the next level. I also love it with ghee (which TJ's also sells) on a bagel.

6. Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds- I eat this crunchy PB by the SPOONFUL it's so delicious. Plus, it packs a punch of omega-3's with the flax seeds and fiber with the chia seeds. 
7. Microwave Oatmeal Cups- These are a Godsend on busy school mornings and I know I'll love them in college, too. I always buy the cherry pumpkin seed flavor!
8. Scandinavian Swimmers- Just like Swedish Fish without all of the artificial-ness!
9. Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate- This is my summer go-to, and the cheapest cold brew concentrate I've seen! You can dilute it for iced coffee or blend it with ice and milk for a frappe. 
10. Super Seed and Ancient Grain Blend- I love sprinkling this on top of oatmeal and cereal for an extra crunch and nutrients. It has seeds chia, flax, and hemp, red quinoa and amaranth, and sprouted grains like buckwheat and millet. 

My wonderful friend Nicole rounded up her favorite Trader Joe's buys too, you can check them out here! I totally recommend reading some of her other posts while you're on her page, she's wise beyond her years when it comes to food and eating!

Leave your favorite things from TJ's in the comments so I can try them!

stay sunny


Best of the J.Crew Sale

OK this J.Crew sale is UNREAL. Most sale items are an additional 50% off with the code SALEONSALE. Just for reference, I added everything from sale that I liked and the total was like $1000. With the sale prices and the code it took it to $350! Be sure to click on the item, which will take you to J.Crew's website so you can see if it is an extra 50% off. Happy shopping and may they always have your size in stock!


Two Habits to Bring Happiness in the New Year

A few weeks ago, I had a dear friend ask me "how to be happy." It nearly broke my heart for two reasons. The first being that I cannot stand having those I love be unhappy. The second is that I don't know. I don't have a recipe or formula for happiness. You can't simply decide to be happy.

To me, living a happy life is not feeling the emotion of happiness 24/7. A happy life can also have unhappy days, and that's okay. To me, living a happy life is not on accident-- it consists of taking action to do things you know will bring you and others joy. It is cultivating gratitude for blessings big and small.

Recently, I have picked up two habits that have caused me to be a more joyful person. I'm sharing them here today, and I hope you will take them to heart and make them part of your 2018.

Cheers to the new year!
1: blessing bags
Something that I started doing around the holidays was keeping gallon ziplocks of nonperishable food in my car. I was going downtown semi-often and I would always be asked for money from homeless people. This made me feel awkward, sad, and uncomfortable. So, I was inspired to put together these bags to help out a hungry person while feeling confident that my contribution would be used for good. The first time I did this, my friend Megan was with me and we both cried. It is truly a touching experience and I have been met with only joy!

Another time, I saw a man with a sign that said "homeless, hungry as heck" and I pulled over to give him some food. He gave me a wide smile and said, "this food is actually good! I'm so sick of granola bars and Vienna sausages!" So, I thought I would share with you what I put in my bags:
40 packs of peanut butter crackers for $15
24 boxes of raisins for $9
100 sticks of jerky for $36
40 packs of fruit snacks for $8
So, if you put 4 packs of crackers (carbs and protein), 10 beef jerky sticks (protein),2 or 3 raisin packs (fruit), and 4 packs of fruit snacks (kinda fruit but just for fun) per bag, you can give 2ish meals to 10 starving people for $68! You could split the cost with a friend, assemble the bags together, and write kind notes to go in them.

2: gratitude journal
I actually first got the idea for this from my Psychology teacher. We learned about a study in which people were asked to write down three specific reasons they were grateful at the end of each day. The study found that these people were happier than before. I thought this would be a good activity to practice during Advent, a time when our society is very materialistic and busy. It was a good exercise in contentment and living intentionally, and I have to say I did feel happier. Another bonus is that when you feel down, you can simply flip back through the journal to see all of your reasons to be happy. I intend on continuing this habit through the New Year, and I think you (and everyone) could benefit from a little more gratitude, too! To get started, buy yourself a fun notebook, keep it by your bedside, and before you fall asleep reflect on all the things that made you feel happy to be alive throughout the day. Even on the worst day, there is at least one thing to be grateful for-- even if it's just life itself. I write down everything, from a good cup of coffee, to unexpectedly running into a friend, to a kind text that someone sent. "Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them." (Psalm 111:2).

stay sunny (and happy new year, friends!)

PS: another great way to ring in the New Year is to order a photo book of your past year. Follow this link for a free one from Chatbooks!


most popular posts of 2017

1: homecoming dress guide
This post characteristically does well from year to year, probably because of the rush to find a dress! While many of the dresses on this post are sold out, some are on super sale!
2: five day food journal
I cringe looking back on this post. 2017 was the year I found out about my food intolerances and went through a highly restrictive diet program to help me get over them. The diet was no dairy, sugar, or gluten (plus a million other things) and it took endless self control and six months. It was so hard, you guys, but I did it! Read the post for some clean meal ideas, but definitely do not restrict your diet to that extent.

3: five last minute halloween costumes
This post was probably my favorite of the year because while writing it I got to reminisce on all of my favorite costumes and the events that I wore them to. Read to see me as Zoey 101 (the most iconic costume).
The costume I ended up wearing this year!
4: prom pictures
2017 was the year of my first prom, and I had THE BEST time. My dress was so dreamy, and my friends all looked gorgeous. All in all one of the best nights of high school.

5: what to wear to senior pictures
If you are a junior or a senior who has not gotten senior pictures, read this post! I struggled a lot with what to wear but discovered some ways to look and feel my best.
My favorite senior picture
6: epic avocado toast
THIS was such a fun day. Rachel came over, we went to Whole Foods, then spent 2 hours taking pictures of me making avocado toast. The toast is amazing and I highly recommend reading the recipe!
7: how i declutter
In 2017 I decluttered and refreshed my room. I'm a total organization nerd, so I had a blast. Now, it's a cozy and clean space that I love to come home to. Read the post to see how I did it.
8: smoothie bowl recipe
This summer I made a ton of smoothie bowls, it was amazing. I posted my favorite to the blog, and Rachel took some beautiful photos of it.

Looking forward to sharing more fun posts in 2018! Thank you all SO MUCH for following along on my little blog.

stay sunny,


diy coconut oil hair mask

In my world, coconut oil cures all. I use it on dry skin, cold sores, chapped lips, for washing my face, for baking, in coffee, and more. You've probably heard of these uses, but I have one more up my sleeve: coconut oil hair mask. I posted a tutorial on my Instagram stories a while ago and I've been getting a ton of messages since then asking how I did it. So, I thought I'd post a recap here! It's extremely simple and cost effective unlike most hair masks on the market. Plus, it's a 100% natural way to refresh dull and brittle hair.

When I do a coconut oil mask, I've noticed that my hair...
-dries really quickly
-has more bounce
-has 0 frizz
-is soooo soft
...and the mask helps condition your scalp and strengthen your hair!

-coconut oil
-a hair tie or scrunchie
(that's it!)

1. Warm about 1 tablespoon of oil at a time with your hands. Start by massaging it into your scalp, then work it to the ends of your hair. Get more oil as necessary, I usually use about 2.5 tablespoons for my medium-length hair. You shouldn't be dripping in coconut oil, but your hair should be pretty saturated.
2. Fasten your hair into a high bun. If you have short hair, you can do a low bun and use bobbi pins to keep it off your neck. I usually use a scrunchie for this because they're more comfy!
3. Wait as close to 24 hours as possible. I usually do it for more like 12. I'll put the coconut oil in on a Sunday and wash it out Monday morning!
4. The wash out: This step is really important, because if you aren't careful enough your hair will just end up greasy. Use your typical shampoo, but really scrub your scalp. You can even shampoo twice if necessary. Condition as normal.
5. Towel or blow dry and you're done! Enjoy your silky locks :-)

This post was inspired by Lee From America.

stay sunny

my gift guide
my mom's gift guide


gift guide: for mom

I always think that moms are the hardest to shop for. My mom, particularly, knows what she likes and what she doesn't, which is a good thing...until you're the one that has to buy a gift for her. So, my mom gave me the idea of collaborating on a gift guide for moms. These items are coming straight from her wishlist or are things she already has. So, if your mom is chic and stylish like mine, she will love anything on this guide. We have gifts for every price point, from free (see #6) to $120. Also, I'm sure your dad will be extremely grateful if you send him this post!

1: Kate Spade Initial Necklace- My dad got this adorable necklace for my mom last year. It says "one in a million" on the back, which is so fitting for every mother. She wears it almost every day-- it's great for layering!
2: UGG Slippers- This is an item that my mom has always owned and caused me to get some, too! UGG slippers are so soft and durable, and you can also get away with wearing them out of the house (guilty, even though my dad makes fun of me!)
3: New Balance Sneakers- My mom wears her black and white Newbies for running errands, going to our sporting events, shopping, and everything in between.
4: Jo Malone Set- This is at the top of my mom's list this year. She wears one type of Jo Malone perfume daily but says she is so excited to try the other scents. 
5: Kendra Scott Aiden Necklace- Another item my mom is asking for this year. She always styles long necklaces with sweaters or a cardigan and t-shirt.
6: Chatbook- For Mother's Day last year, I ordered a book from the Chatbook app. It was a collection of pictures off of my phone of my mom and her kids over the years, and she loved it! It only took about twenty minutes to make and you can choose pictures from your camera roll or get a book of your mom's Instagram. Follow this link to get your first book FREE, and order by December 16th to get it in time for Christmas!
7: Volcano Candle- I feel like this candle is our house's signature scent, we burn it so much. It's so pretty, too, so you can't go wrong. This gift is nice because it is inexpensive but will last a long time. 
8: Herringbone Throw- My mom likes to switch out different blankets on top of her white duvet, so I know she would love this herringbone throw. 
9: Anthropologie Mug- As a daily coffee drinker, she loves cute mugs. This one is adorable!
10: Athleta Cozy Karma Pullover- Mom recently bought this and styles it all the time with leggings. I have contemplated stealing it multiple times ;-) 
11: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick- She uses this in her daily makeup routine. I have used it before and it is kind of like a blush/highlighter hybrid!

14 more sleeps till Christmas!


sugarfix holiday

As a long-time fan of Baublebar and Target, I am so happy they collaborated to create Sugarfix. It's all the pieces from Baublebar that I love, at a Target price. Better yet, they just launched a holiday collection of "gift sets" that are too cute. At about $20 a piece, they're an affordable gift or addition to your holiday outfit. 

Sugarfix's red tassel earrings add a festive touch to this outfit, perfect for a holiday party.
Each of the gift sets are packaged in an adorable pink box. 
To complete the look, I added burgundy velvet block heels. 
dress (on sale!) | earrings | heels

Here's a look at some of the other pieces in the holiday collection...

happy holidays!
ps... have you seen my latest gift guide?

Thank you, Sugarfix, for sponsoring this post. Photos by Rachel Issler.