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.

gift guide: my favorite gifts

I thought it was only fitting for my first Christmas Gift Guide to be my favorite gifts of all time. These are items that I have bought/received as gifts, so I can speak to how awesome they are. I limited it to items that I use once a week, however I use most of these daily.

1: Patagonia Los Gatos Vest- This vest is the coziest EVER. It keeps you super warm and goes with everything. I typically wear it over my school uniform on the way to school/switching between buildings because it is easy to carry around or stash in my backpack. Size up! (I'm a 0-2 and wear an S, it's pretty tight).
2: JBL Clip Speaker- I bought this speaker on Black Friday and have used it every day since! It's loud, waterproof, and super portable. It has Bluetooth but also a permanent aux connection, both of which work great!
3: Buxom "April" Lip Gloss- This lip gloss has been my go-to for two years, I love the minty-ness and the subtle color. 
4: YETI Lowball- My friends always make fun of me for carrying this "baby yeti" around school, but it truly is the perfect size for one cup of coffee. I use it every day!
5: Nike+ Apple Watch- I got this for my 17th birthday, and it has been a game changer. As a runner, I love it because it has automatic GPS connection (without your phone), and shows a map of your run. For daily use, the notifications and calendar are handy during school.
6: Scout Storage Bin- I have this bin in my room, and it basically holds everything I don't have a place for. My yoga mat, room decorations, extra sweatshirts, and more. Plus, it's sturdy enough to sit on, so this could be crucial if you're in a dorm!
7: J. Crew x New Balance Sneakers- If you're a long-time follower of the blog or go to my school, you'll know I wear these shoes more than any others. The gold is so fun, but they are still neutral enough for every day wear.
8: J. Crew Crossbody- My grandma gifted this to me for Christmas (grandma, if you're reading this, hi!!), and I absolutely love it. It fits my phone, card, keys, and a lip gloss, so everything I'll ever need.
9: Essential Oil Diffuser- I diffuse essential oils for everything-- focus, sleep, immune system, stress...the list goes on and on. I've found them to be super helpful, and so I really recommend trying them out!
10: Madeline & Co. Backpack- I use my Madeline & Co. backpack for every weekend trip and on plane rides. It has a laptop pocket and is really roomy!

All these gifts would be perfect for the teenage/college-aged girl in your life, or for you to add to your Christmas wishlist!

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the holiday season, 22 more sleeps till Christmas!
xo, meg

black friday favorites

I've never been one to wake up at 3 AM and go shopping for Black Friday...I'd much rather curl up into a turkey coma and sleep. That's why I'm all about the online deals, and will be sharing my favorites with you as the sales start!

first up... madewell: get an extra 25% off through 11/26 with code DONTSTRESS

nike: get 25% off sale with code EPIC25

jcrew factory: 50% off everything. prices as marked.

that's all for now! check back later for more sales. have a happy happy thanksgiving :-)

best of october

October is notoriously a busy month but so fun nonetheless. Because it was so busy, especially with college applications, I barely posted on the blog or Instagram! To make up for it, I'm wrapping up the best of my October into one post.

At the start of October I had my senior homecoming! It feels weird to even type that, because it's so surreal that I'll never go to homecoming again (omg). For the dance, I wore a cape-style Milly dress (it's on sale, btw), Baublebar star earrings and Missguided shoes (on sale for only $16!). It was super fun because Greg was on fall break from college so he was able to come!
My mom secretly sniped this photo lol
Instead of having a dance for turnabout, my school does something a little bit more...Midwestern. Basically we go out to a farm where there's hayrides, golf, and ice cream-- it's hilarious and such a good time. We all dress up to a theme and this year's was around the world. Greg and I went as France!
Baguettes mandatory
I haven't shared a ton about my college search thus far, mostly because it's been a pretty confusing and stressful journey! However, I have been having tons of fun visiting different colleges. My dad and I took a trip to Madison to tour the University of Wisconsin, and I loved it. It was beautiful while we were there! I even got to meet up with Fran for coffee and an insider's tour, which was super fun.

charm at the farm
Charm at the Farm is a vintage market with tons of cute boutique-style vendors. My mom and I got to go, and it was adorable. We walked around, shopped, and ended the day at a mac-and-cheese food truck (delish).

For Halloween this year, I wore the most "Meg" costume ever: an avocado. 

...and that's about all for October! I hope everyone has a fabulous November being thankful for family and friends. 

stay sunny,

five last minute halloween costumes

FIFTEEN DAYS till the spookiest day of the year...are you ready!? If not... have no fear! Today I'm sharing some of my past costumes to give you some Halloween inspiration.

1: ZOEY 101
Last year, my friend Anna and I dressed up as Zoey and Quinn from everyone's favorite 2006 TV show. The essentials for Zoey? Blix, a Pear laptop, a key necklace, and a PCA shirt I made with an iron-on transfer.

For my school's turnabout dance this year, the theme was "around the world." My boyfriend, Greg, and I chose to put on our best Parisian look and go as France. The baguettes are mandatory, and you'll also need a beret, neck scarf, and striped shirt. I completed my look with New Balances (restocked!) and a button denim skirt. 

I wore this look to a Grease Father-Daughter Dance at school. It was so fun twirling around in my poodle skirt! To look like you're straight out of Grease, you'll need a white short sleeve oxford, or any t-shirt, a poodle skirt (I got mine off Amazon), neck scarf (for your neck or around your ponytail), sneakers, and ankle socks.
For last year's turnabout, which was decades themed, Greg and I channeled our inner Daisy and Gatsby to pull off a twenties outfit. I wore a flapper dress from Amazon, bow flats, costume pearls, and a black floral headband.

If you haven't caught on yet... I go to a lot of themed dances. My school is pretty much obsessed with them, and I love it. The theme for our spring dance last year was "out of this world." So, I went as an alien and Greg wore a NASA shirt. Copy my outfit: iridescent choker ($4), silver sequin skirt ($13), black lace up top ($20), and platform sneakers. Don't forget to paint your face and wear two high buns!

Halloween season is definitely one of the most fun times of the year, and I can't wait to see everyone's costumes. As for me...I have no idea what I'm being. Very uncharacteristic of me, I know, but if you have any ideas please leave them in the comments!

stay sunny (and spooky!),

sunflowers & sunset

Every year around Labor Day weekend, a field by my house starts springing up sunflowers. I love it because I'm partial to anything sun-related, and sunflowers are my favorite flower. My friend Anna and I, armed with our iPhones, decided to stop by the field and take some pretty snaps. As each minute passed, the sun sank further and the color of the sky changed-- it was a breathtaking backdrop for our photos and we both probably looked like the heart eyes emoji.
I wore my favorite transitional summer-to-fall outfit: a light skirt, tank, and denim jacket. I picked this skirt up from the Madewell sale, and it's so easy to style. Gingham has by far been my favorite trend of summer, and I intend to carry it into fall!

As a proud outfit repeater, I wore the same thing to a John Mayer concert last month :-)

shop this post

stay sunny,