(Last Minute) Gift Ideas: Mother’s Day

Mother's Day + 10 Non-Traditional Gift Ideas | Sense of Sunny

Every holiday that involves planning a gift for my mom has usually started with me asking what she wants. Which is a terrible tactic for someone who has often said something along the lines of, “nothing” or “everyone to be good.” My siblings and I haven’t always been able to be good agree to disagree when we’re together, so we’ve often had to overcompensate with presenting a slew of gifts, each one different than the last, and usually painted, cut, glued, cooked, wrapped and/or delivered.

While “being good” comes more naturally the older we get, the unique and worthwhile gift ideas start to wane after many years of birthday celebrations, Christmas mornings and Mother’s Day’s have come and gone. While I’m definitely not one to hate on a fresh bouquet of flowers or a new candle, those things usually end up in the same place. The trash.

And how terrible is that?!

Making memories will warm the heart for a lifetime. If you’re still piecing together the perfect Mother’s Day for that wondrous woman in your life, look no further than this list of (last minute) non-traditional gift ideas:

  1. Write a heartfelt and thoughtful letter detailing a happy memory or your appreciation for all she’s done for you. Bonus points if you use nice stationary. Check out my favorite store, Paper Source, for all your paper needs. Or Target, they’re nice too.
  2. Take her somewhere new, like a local restaurant that you know serves one of her favorite foods, a new museum exhibit, or a funny play. If you need some help, look no further than this list of The Best Cheap (or Free) Museums in All 50 States.
  3. Utilize Mother Nature to give the gift of active relaxation and go on a hike, scope out a scenic view, or take a long walk together.
  4. Find a farm and go strawberry picking. It’s the perfect time of year for it. You can let the fun go on and bake something together when you return home with 14 pounds of berries. One time I obsessed about strawberries and made some bangin’ fruit salsa.
  5. Visit your local botanical garden. Mom’s love plants.
  6. Get the family together and snap some updated pictures to replace the ones where you look embarrassing. Even better if you get a little goofy–those are the most fun.
  7. Find some old home videos and plan a viewing party with Pinterest worthy snacks.
  8. Check out GroupOn or LivingSocial and choose a random experience you can both do for the first time like going on a rock climbing adventure or taking a dessert making class or dance lesson.
  9. Create a special Mother’s Day brunch menu and surprise her with a home-cooked meal. And then clean it all up when you’re done. Food & Wine is the mecca of all Mother’s Day recipes.
  10. Spend the afternoon at a winery and learn how to experience el vino the real way. If you’d rather teach her yourself, this article is good place to start. See, swirl, smell, sip and swallow.


What is your Mother’s Day plan this year?


Favorite Things 1.0

Can you believe it’s already May?? Time just flies right on by. Today I’m sharing a new series! One of my blog weaknesses is reading lists and link roundups. Mostly because I’m nosy about what other people are doing and discovering. Hopefully my favorite things will inspire you to discover more of yours.

Favorite Things 1.0


The book I’m currently reading for my book club is “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling. I’ve heard Mindy is a pretty funny gal and I always see her books hanging out at Barnes and Noble. It’s all true! She writes just like she talks and I’ve found myself LOL’ing quite a few times. Have you read it? What do you think?

I’m doing something rare and trying to read two books at once. Thanks to the ladies at (my favorite website) Career Contessa, I discovered Dr. Zelana Montminy and her newly released book, “21 Days to Resilience.” In a nutshell, it’s about the importance of discovering your emotional strength on the quest of living a fulfilling life. Be sure to go check out her bio on the Career Contessa website. (And while we’re on the topic, everyone should have a little bit of CC in their life. Sign up for the weekly newsletter here!)


Currently Playing: Podcasts

International Women’s Day + Feminism


24 Things: Birthday Bucket List If you remember from three whole months ago, I celebrated my 24th birthday with a very comprehensive bucket list. I am still working away at it and have officially accomplished two pretty big things. Check it out to read my latest update!

Favorite Things 1.0


Strawberries…so many strawberries. About two weeks ago I was browsing my local Fresh Market and noticed how so very red their strawberries looked. On my long pursuit of healthiness, this was beauty to my eyes.

Besides just tasting amazing and being my favorite fruit ever, apparently there are at least 8 more reasons why you should be eating these beautiful berries.

If you’re looking for an easy pot-luck recipe this Spring, try this fruit salsa and cinnamon chips recipe. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser. Mostly strawberries, 100% delicious.

Please watch this very sobering story of “The Extraordinary Life and Times of Strawberry.” It’s a tear jerker.


I’ve been on a mission to master my skincare routine. While I haven’t quite gotten it down to a perfect science, I have found my favorite face mask! The Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask is clearly sent from heaven. I recently found a duo pack of this mask with the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask for only $34 at TJ Maxx. Can you say, SUPER STEAL. So, if you’re also on the hunt for the perfect products, never forget your local discount store. Charcoal masks are really becoming popular and for good reason. The claim that they extract impurities from your skin proved to be so very obviously true after I globbed this stuff all over my face following a weekend of much drinking. Toxins are serious stuff ya’ll.

Another favorite of mine this month is the Shea Butter Whip Body Lotion from the Body Shop. IT’S AMAZING. It’s so moisturizing, doesn’t leave a sticky residue and the pump bottle is so much easier to use than digging your hands into their body butter jars. I basically smell myself all day long. So good.

Favorite Things 1.0


If you’ve listened to any of the playlists I’ve posted, than you know my taste in music is all over the place. Lately, I’ve been really into my new Spring 2016 playlist, which will be posted once it contains more than three songs 😉 One song off the playlist is really giving me good vibes lately.


I don’t really like turning into a sweaty mess and bugs are not my thing. Lately, though, I’ve been very into daydreaming about everything that happens during summer time–eating ice cream, going on hikes, being in nature, flowers, island drinks, sunshine, being chilllllllll. Maybe it’s my changing attitude towards life or maybe I’m just ready for the season to match up with the temperatures, but I’m readier than ever.


What are your favorite things these days?


Currently Playing: Podcasts

Currently Playing: Podcasts | Sense of Sunny

I used to travel back and forth between campus and my parents’ house for college breaks. During an average academic year, this would amount to at least 10 four-hour car rides that I desperately needed to get through without looking at my phone or crying of boredom or sleepiness (that happened…) The podcast world is one that I’m so lucky I discovered, and I haven’t looked back since.

There are so many reasons why podcasts are perfect. They pass the time, spark all sorts of creativity and inspiration and not to mention, they don’t give you car sickness! A win-win-win.

This week I will be doing a lot of sitting around as I fly my way to Florida for wedding celebrations and fun in the sun. I have my book club read ready to go, but wanted to get my podcast arsenal updated. These are some of my recommendations:

The 5AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders | I haven’t actually listened to this one yet, however, I keep seeing it float around the internet and couldn’t resist the download. I’ve started trying really hard to wake up earlier and earlier every morning. It’s amazing what good comes out of rising before the sun.

“The Jedi Master of Productivity: Paul Minors”

“Super Genes with Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi”

“I’m Up. Now What?”

The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes | If you’re into former pro-athletes who have something worthwhile to say to the world, this guy doesn’t disappoint. These podcasts have left behind lasting impressions in my life. For a girl who has terrible memory and fact recall skills, that’s a big deal.

“Master Confidence, Humility, and Leadership with Brad Lomenick”

“Share the Light”

“Neil Strauss and the Uncomfortable Truth about Relationships”

TEDTalks | It’s no surprise that I’m obsessed with the mission behind TED. The brand is so powerful and creates a stage for passionate people who need to share something extraordinary with the world. I love so many TED talks.

“What really matters at the end of life | BJ Miller”

“An invitation to men who want a better world for women | Elizabeth Nyamayaro”

“How my mind came back to life–and no one knew | Martin Pistorius”

Stuff You Should Know | I love the informational and conversational tone of both Chuck and Josh. What a duo. Each podcast is so interesting, even when they’re discussing topics that you’d think are otherwise pretty boring. Like if you can engage someone for almost an hour on the topic of tea…that’s magic.

“How Egypt’s Pyramids Work”

“How Tea Works”

“Nirvana: Not the Band”

Raise Your Hand Say Yes with Tiffany Han | I first came across Tiffany on my search for creative entrepreneurs. The topics of each episode are so relatable. Bravery, vulnerability, and “saying yes” are applicable to creatives and non-creatives alike.

“Ep. 41: The Quiet Side of Bravery”

“Ep. 35: Jen Louden on Vulnerability”

“Ep. 2: Erin Loechner on Saying Yes”

Being Boss | What I most admire about creative entrepreneurs is their prioritization of authenticity and hard work. This collection makes ya feel empowered and ready to take on whatever life’s throwing your way. (Side note: Brene Brown is basically a goddess, so any podcast that features her is a fav of mine.)

“#42 – Brene Brown”

“MINISODE – Mindfulness, Boundaries, and Rules”

“#19 – Communicate Like a Boss”

There are billions of podcasts out there in the world! Do you have a favorite?


International Women’s Day + Feminism

Please don’t let this day pass without acknowledging, in some way, its deep and undeniable importance in our lives. The social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women make our world burn brighter. May you never stop to dampen the fire.

“feminist: a man or a woman who says ‘yes, there is a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.'”



RVA | Sense of Sunny

Last weekend’s Richmond adventure looked a little something like this.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

Cruising down sidewalks with nowhere to go.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

Spending time with my favorite ladies.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

Discovering so much eye candy and treasures along the way.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

I love my little city, but there’s just something about Richmond that always pulls me in.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

So many people just living their life, doing their thing, making their way.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

Like finding light that shines in new ways.

RVA | Sense of Sunny

Floors that tell different stories.

RVA | Sense of Sunny


February Playlist: Live, Love, Let It Go

February 2016 Playlist | Sense of Sunny

Hello, friends! I hope your Valentine’s Day weekend is full of all your favorite things. This weekend I got some hair chopped off, ate lots of yummy food and drank plenty of tasty drinks, laughed with many dear friends and bought myself a few birthday presents (because why not.)
Before + After Hair | Sense of Sunny

2016 has been very a little awful shaky so far, but days like these remind me just how lucky I am to live this life. How easy it is to take for granted the never ending ways that love surrounds me every day. I would so much rather struggle, trip and fall a thousand more times than give up a single piece of what makes my life the beautiful mess that it is.

February 2016 | Sense of Sunny

One of the reasons why this blog exists is to serve as a reminder, for everyone who reads my words, that we all deserve to feel loved and alive. Thank you for being part of my reminder.

February 2016 | Sense of Sunny

I haven’t shared a playlist in awhile, so here is what I’ve been listening to nonstop for the last two weeks. It’s a little bit of live, love and let it go. Enjoy.



The 8 Letter Revolution: Self-Love

The 8 Letter Revolution: Self-Love | Sense of Sunny

February is a funny month. The aisles of your favorite stores get decked out in flashy pinks and reds. An article in every magazine gives you never ending gift ideas for that special someone. Date nights are planned, messages of love are scripted and chocolate becomes really important.

But a midst this fanfare, an important notion of love remains quiet and void of recognition.

The practice of self-love is among the greatest and most fundamental human revolutions. It is the investing in the core of what allows you to live and give your best self. Self-love is finding and accepting your worth. Self-love is the simple regard for your own happiness and fulfillment.

Don’t let love be the thing that you only reserve for others. Make it yours, too. Because you’re deep like the great ocean and worth more than the stars in the sky.

4 Ways to Practice Self-Love:

Forgive yourself. The greatest philosophers, poets, scientists and artists never claimed to be perfect. They just did what they did best. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you begin to break. Don’t give up because the wall looked like a gate. You’re human and you do the best you can.

Make decisions for you. You know those desires, wants, cravings and urges–they are you. They are who you’re meant to be, where you’re meant to go and what you’re meant to do. The second you blend into the day-to-day and neglect yourself in the decisions that affect your life is the moment you jump from your book. Stay in your book. Add to your book. Invite others to read your book. But never tear yourself out of your book.

Own your life. The paths you’ve wandered gave you clearer eyes. The ladders you’ve climbed strengthened your legs. The currents you swam against gave you perseverance. The paths, the ladders and the currents are all yours. Own them. Take your due credit for all that soul building work.

Affirm yourself. Stop waiting. Waiting for others to call you beautiful, to appreciate your quirks, to see the sparks in your eyes. Take control of your worth and don’t let the opinions or actions of others spin your thoughts into hurricanes. When you stop relying on others, you will always feel it. Strong. Interesting. Brave. Enough.

February is a funny month, but it doesn’t have to be an exclusive celebration. Spread your love to all those who cross your path this week, just don’t forget to look in the mirror.

Say hello to your worthy and full and glorious beating heart.


24 Things: Birthday Bucket List

24 Things: Birthday Bucket List | Sense of Sunny

I have a thing for birthdays. How awesome is it that everyone gets one whole day out of the year to celebrate themselves?! While I’m not always great at establishing concrete New Year’s resolutions (as you read here), I appreciate a good birthday bucket list. They’re a reminder that you can accomplish whatever you want during your own time. While my birthday is still another 12 days away, my birthday month is in full swing, and who says you can’t celebrate for the entire month! When we have a flame that is trying to flicker in our soul, we shouldn’t wait to let it burn.

In my 24th year, these are my 24 things:

  1. Cut at least 6 inches of my hair.
    I did it! As a birthday present to myself, I strolled into the salon, said “cut it off” and 8 inches slipped away. I’m not sure what took me so long. Everything is so much easier with shorter hair! Check out this post for a before and after picture.
  2. Clarify my investment plan.
  3. Volunteer for a cause I am passionate about.
  4. Create “business” cards.
  5. Buy a record player.
  6. Publish some words.
  7. Take one course via General Assembly, Coursera, SkillShare, or like college.
  8. Establish a higher monthly savings goal.
  9. Travel to 1 city/state I’ve never been.
  10. Be more intentional with celebrating others.
  11. Finish 5 books already on my bookshelf.
  12. Take another solo trip.
  13. Tip 100% at least once.
  14. Schedule a health check-up.
  15. Sell a product/service.
  16. Buy a new pair of glasses and wear them more frequently.
    In March I ordered the Barnett glasses in Toffee Fade from Warby Parker. And in perfect timing–these spring allergies have been killing my eye balls. If you’re in the market for a new pair of specs and can’t deal with paying hundreds of dollars, definitely check out the Warby Home Try-On. They have so many colors and styles for only $95.
  17. Donate to my college and sorority at least once.
  18. Go to a live TEDx event.
  19. Watch the sunrise from outside.
  20. Systematize important documents (taxes, bills, etc.)
  21. Take more professional non-iphone head shots.
  22. Take back control of my email. #inboxzero
  23. Master Crow Pose without falling on my face.
  24. Minimize my wardrobe to include only the shoes, clothes and accessories I actually wear.

I’ll keep this list updated so you can follow along with my progress.

I’d love to know, what does your bucket list look like?

Happy February 1st,


Chasing the World: My Top 3 Winter Travel Destinations

I’ll never understand the type of person who has no ounce of desire to travel. On this big beautiful planet of ours, there is so much to see and experience that stretches so far beyond the home we’ve found ourselves and the safe spaces we’ve created. In my attempt to avoid the aftermath of #blizzard2016, I spent many hours dreaming big this week.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Chasing the World: Top 5 Winter Travel Destinations | Sense of SunnyWhen I was in college, I spent a lot of time listening to music that would let me zone out and focus on the bajillion tasks that I needed to complete. I was known for my hours spent in the library, if that gives you any indication of how much relaxing I accomplished. Sigur Ros was one of my favorite bands to listen to when I was getting in the zone. They’re an Icelandic band with the most beautiful melodies and none of them in English. The Icelandic language leaves me with a feeling of wonder and complete confusion, so this meant I was definitely more in tune to the sounds and feelings the songs provoked.

Nevertheless, they prompted my interest in discovering what other magical things occur in Iceland. The country is known for it’s safety, slowness, and hot dogs, all favorites of mine. Besides all of those great aspects, however, Iceland is just breathtakingly beautiful. Between glacier hiking, geysers, the Blue Lagoon, and catching the Northern lights, there is no shortage of adventure to be had in Iceland.

Fun Fact | Iceland is known for having one of the highest standards of living and the people have been ranked the friendliest in the world. Iceland is also ranked number one on the Global Peace Index.

Quebéc City, Canada

Chasing the World: Top 5 Winter Travel Destinations | Sense of Sunny

Quebec is known for it’s European charm. How wonderful would it be to experience that charm without having to cross an ocean? I would love to wander through Old Quebec and stop by the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, the luxurious most photographed hotel in the world. At a hefty ~$700/night price tag, I can only dream of resting my head on their pillows, but what a dream that would be. Maybe another lifetime.

During my young french class days, we talked a lot about Quebec’s Winter Carnival. This event is a big deal and involves parades, snow sculptures, and tons of post-Christmas winter celebration. My love for winter dissolves every January 2nd, but a party like this seems hard to refuse.

Fun Fact | The *party* drink of Quebec City, often enjoyed during Winter Carnival, is the Caribou. A (potent) mixture of red wine, liquor, and maple syrup will warm ya right up. The tale says the drink was originally a mixture of Caribou blood and whiskey and was consumed by French trappers in order to stay warm.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Chasing the World: Top 5 Winter Travel Destinations | Sense of SunnyI’ve never seen an ugly picture of New Zealand. I imagine a trip would look something like me frolicking through green meadows and floating past tall white topped mountains. These “fjords” of New Zealand are similar to Iceland. They’re areas of long inlets surrounded by high cliffs. How scenic.

A bucket list item of mine to check off in New Zealand is spotting the Southern Lights. They’re essentially the same as the Northern Lights, but in the Antarctic Circle rather than the Arctic Circle. #geography

Fun Fact | New Zealand is the only country with the right to put Hobbit-related images on its currency.

Dream with me! Where would you travel if nothing was holding you back?


Resources: New Zealand, Quebec City, Iceland

Why You Should Be Journaling

Why You Should Be Journaling | Sense of Sunny

As a self proclaimed writer, I have broken my fair share of pencils, dried up lots of ink, and scribbled through countless notebooks. This all began the year I received my first lock and key diary. The keeper of my secrets.

While those pages were filled with notes on the really important events of my day (i.e. Recess and school…in that order) and the names of boys I would never have the nerve to speak to, it was also a special look into my perspective of the world, albeit limited. It was a window into my young soul.

The act of writing is no new age experience. Back in 3200 BC, the peeps in Mesopotamia were doing it. Before it was cool. Writing is something we’re all taught and do on a daily basis. We write to-do lists, we write emails, we write messages in birthday cards.

But when was the last time you wrote something for yourself, to yourself?

Journaling gets a lot of smack. It’s either too *zen* or takes too much time or is only for artsy fartsy types. Guess what, friends… Journaling is cool!

Because if you’re looking for your voice you can find it here.

Our voice isn’t just the noise that comes out of our mouths. It’s the authentic things that we feel and believe about ourselves and the world around us. When we find our voice, we uncover what makes us uniquely ourselves. Discovering our voice is not an easy thing to do nor is it ever really completely done. The act of continuous writing enables us to see more clearly the patterns and trends in our opinions and how we express them. Similarly, as we evolve, writing allows our voices to change too.

And then your thoughts become things.

If you’re anything like me, then you know how impossible it can feel to understand all that is in your brain. The moment you take those invisible thoughts and put them on paper, however, they become real things. Real things that can be organized, analyzed, and understood. The ability to literally look at your feelings gives you more power than you can imagine. The second you write something down, you are accountable for its role in your life. Thoughts can be suppressed and ignored. Words are lasting. Unless you have a good eraser, but that’s not the point.

If nothing else, you can document your life experiences.

Journaling is a form of record keeping. In a day when iPhone photos are the extent of our documented history, we are missing an important piece of memory–our feelings! Sure, a picture says a thousand words, but those words could differ from year to year. Writing down our feelings allows us to remember the exact moments in our life, the way they were experienced, for better or for worse.

Now that you’re 90% convinced that journaling is in fact cool, let’s talk logistics.

Types of Journals
The Classic Moleskine | Lined journals are perfect for any format, method, or type of journaling you decide. This Moleskin is easily transportable and the hard cover/elastic duo keeps everything in one place.

Dotted Journals | They’re all the rage these days, and for good reason. The dot method allows complete freedom of expression. One of my favorite bloggers, Kara (Boho Berry), is a great resource for Bullet Journals and how to utilize them to fit your lifestyle.

Creative Journals | I love journals that provide writing prompts for you. I think a traditional lined/unlined journal is necessary for getting out those thoughts from your everyday life, but creative journals, such as this one, are great for inspiring you to think more about subjects you may not usually consider writing about.

Leather Bound Journals | There’s nothing quite like them. The scent, the feeling, the look…the whole thing screams *I’m deep and introspective and I know it!*

Digital Notes/Apps | There are a few options for the tech savvy, so no fear if you’re not into stuff. These options are great for on-the-go journaling. You can simply use the Notes feature on your phone. In this post, I talked a little bit about journaling and one of my favorite free apps, GridDiary. Another favorite of mine is using GoogleDocs and GoogleDrive. This is where I house most of my important documents and blog post drafts. There are other options, like OneNote and Evernote, that allow you to categorize your entries in “notebooks” and sync up to your different devices. There is no shortage of possibilities.

Writing Formats

Stream of Consciousness | This type of writing is the least structured and is exactly how it sounds… writing as the thoughts flow. This format tends to be my most used and is really helpful for releasing all those thoughts, without fear of over analyzing.

Lists | A super easy method for organizing whatever theme you want to focus on. There’s pro/con lists, generic lists, high/low lists, resolution lists, goal lists, etc. This method takes away some of the pressure of feeling like you need to write lengthy entries.

“Dear Diary” | Another no-fail option and one that my young self utilized most frequently. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to yourself, it’s a fun trick to personify your journal. Diary feels like a friend who knows all of your secrets, but can’t share them with a single soul. Kind of like your dog.

Q&A | If you’re unsure where to begin, utilizing journal types that provide questions or prompts really help to get the juices flowing. Often times, the questions/prompts will inspire further thoughts and provoke some serious things to think about. This format is particularly useful for those who consider themselves writers and want to work that creative bone.

Are you into journaling? What’s your favorite method?