Celebration Vacation

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The day after my Graduation from high school, I jumped right out of bed early in the morning and headed straight for Sarasota, Florida. Every year my family takes a few vacations to the area during the summertime, taking in some much needed relaxation and summer sunshine. Since I love taking vacations out to the area so much and my brother is home for the first time in two years (he's been away serving his first term as a member of the U.S. Air Force), my parents decided it was only right to schedule our first trip of the summer the weekend after I graduated high school, which also happened to be the same weekend that followed my brother's arrival back in America.

{Top: Aerie | Bottoms: Aerie (same bottoms, different color)}
As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we went right to the beach. The water looked and felt absolutely wonderful! Both my top and bottom in this picture are from Aerie, a company I always purchase my swimwear from. I did a lot of swimming in the ocean and shell hunting, an activity my mother and I always enjoy doing together when we go to any beach. Unfortunately this weekend, we headed home empty handed... Guess we'll just have to try again next time. 

{Top: Lilly Pulitzer | Bottoms: Lilly Pulitzer (same shorts, different patterns)}
Later that night, my family went out to celebrate my Graduation with a special dinner at a local Hibachi grill. I dressed up in all Lilly for the occasion, wearing a Shay ruffled top with my favorite pair of Callahan shorts in the pattern Trunk Show. Even though it was clear that I got sunburned pretty bad, I still went out and showed off those shoulders in style haha.

Everything we had for dinner tasted great and the meal overall was amazing! If you're ever in the Sarasota area, I definitely recommend Joto's Japanese Steakhouse. Afterwards, we wandered over to St. Armand's Circle and browsed a few of the little shops. I ended up leaving with a box of macarons from Le Macaron as my dessert for the night (they were just as delicious as they look!).

To finish off the night, my family headed back to the beach right outside our hotel to watch the sunset. There was a lot of dancing happening around us because a couple had just gotten married and were celebrating with their loved ones - cheers to the newlyweds! The atmosphere was joyful and the sunset was beautiful to watch.

Before heading back home Sunday afternoon, we got a few more hours of ocean and pool time in. I would definitely consider this past weekend to have been one of the best trips I have ever taken with my family and I'm extremely thankful for all the wonderful memories I made during this vacation with the ones I love the most. Let me know in the comments below what you believe your favorite vacation of the summer is going to be, I know this one is certainly going to be a tough one for all my others to beat! See you again soon, Sarasota.

Graduation: The Beginning

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Last night, I officially became an alumna of my high school. An exciting milestone and now memory in my life, I am so incredibly proud of myself and how far I have come these last four years. I graduated with National Honor Society and ranked 29th out of 492 people. Do I wish I had done better? Of course, who wouldn't? But I did the best I could, and that's all that really matters.

I lived many dreams during my time in high school. I was President of an organization I not only had a passion for, but plan to continue working with the rest of my life. I graduated at the top of my class. I got accepted to and will be attending the university I've been dreaming about for years. I have blossomed into an outgoing young woman who is willing to put herself out there. I'm proud to say I'm walking out of high school feeling happy with my overall experience and accomplished.

My principal has always said that a diploma should not be the goal, because it is just the ticket. The ticket that allows you to finally walk out the door and on to your future. Some people are going to walk out the door and not go any further. They have decided that high school is the end of their academic journey. I have decided to go much further than the door. An education is important to me, and even though I have learned so much already, I know there is still so much more out there that I can learn. I'm happy to say that for me, this diploma is only the beginning.

Lilly Pulitzer 2015-2016 Agendas

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stop the presses! One of the best days of the year in Lilly Land has finally arrived: Agenda pre-order. It may not be close to being time to go back to school just yet, but Lilly likes to stay ahead of the game and make sure we're all prepared to head back in style - and this year's patterns look absolutely amazing! Here's some pictures and a list of what 2015-2016 will have to offer us...

(Wild Confetti // Scuba to Cuba // Tusk in Sun)
(All Nighter // Pink Lemonade // Lilly's Lagoon)
(Red Right Return // Lobstah Roll // Bazaar)

Disney 24-Hour Day 2015 Experience

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The best day of the year happened yesterday: the 24-Hour Disney Summer Celebration! On this day every year, Disney leaves Magic Kingdom open from 6 a.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, a full 24 hours. The point of this event is to kick off summer, and this year's theme was "The Coolest Summer Ever" (can you guess what movie this was based off of?). Some people take on the challenge of trying to make it the entire day, while others (a.k.a. me) choose to show up close to midnight and fight to make it till morning. However this year, I ended up winning the Disney-24 Tomorrowland Contest! So my plans ended up changing a bit at the last second...

This contest gave me the opportunity to have breakfast inside Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland, a free private screening of the new movie Tomorrowland with the rest of the winners, and a free ticket into the park for the event (not that I needed one being an annual passholder, but still cool!). All this was for me and one guest. Since I have always wanted to go to Magic Kingdom and spend the day with my boyfriend, I took him along with me.

Our day began at 3 a.m. when we left on our way to the park; we had to be there at 4 a.m. to check in and on the ferryboat by 5 a.m. We were greeted at check-in with a few goodies and our tickets for the day. The winners and their guests were brought to a special viewing area for the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show that is performed before the park opens every morning. It's something I have always wanted to see, but I was never willing to wake up early for - but since I was required, I finally got to haha!

From there we went to our private breakfast at Cosmic Ray's in Tomorrowland. We had a selection of delicious foods to choose from, cinnamon rolls to bagels to danishes and more. After our yummy breakfast, we headed to the private screening of the new movie Tomorrowland at Downtown Disney. The movie was absolutely amazing; it was a bit confusing but very inspirational and definitely worth the watch. I don't normally like sitting through movies but I would sit through this one over and over again!

After the movie we headed back to the park for the day, taking in all the parades and events that it had to offer us. Surprisingly, wait times also weren't that bad either - we didn't have to wait more than an hour for any ride. We even managed to see a few Disney stars throughout the day! To finish off our time at Magic Kingdom, we met up with a few friends later on at night and had a great time despite the dreary weather; it was raining a little bit and nearby lightning caused a few rides to shut down, but it all blew over fairly quickly.

We ended up leaving the park at 3 a.m., a great accomplishment considering I woke up at 2 a.m. and thus had officially been awake more than 24 hours. I am so thankful for the wonderful day I had, it really was one of the best days of my life so far. Did anyone else go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland yesterday for the 24-hour event? Let me know how it went in the comments below! Time for me to go take a much needed nap...

Summer 2015 Trends/Essentials

Sunday, May 17, 2015

And just as quickly as they began, the spring showers have started reaching their end. June is right around the corner and the clouds have begun to move out of the sky, making room for the summer sun to finally shine through. Spring is lovely and all, but summer is just my favorite season for so many reasons and I am ready for everything it has to offer. Summer is a time for fun, sun, and some of my absolute favorite types of clothing and accessories - and seeing a lot of them as this year's top summer trends makes me even more pumped for the season. Here are my summer wardrobe essentials that I believe every fashion-savvy woman should have (and with reasonably priced selections for you to scroll through, too!)...

1. Floppy Hats
Floppy hats send off a classic vibe to me, which is what I really love most about them. I appreciate how easily they can add an elegant touch to an outfit, or even a pop of color too depending on the accents around the hat such as ribbons or bows. It serves as a nice cover also for when you're planning to go out in the hot summer sun!
2. Rompers
Some people claim they don't wear rompers because they can't work them as well as others can - I like to believe that they just haven't found the right style romper for them yet. Rompers remind me of dresses in that there are so many different choices out there; you can have a v-neck or halter, sleeves or no sleeves, open back or closed back... The choices are endless really, and not every style is going to look great on every person but there will come a time where you finally figure out which type you can fashionably own. So just think of finding a romper for you like when you were searching for that perfect dress for Prom - if you keep looking, you'll eventually find it and you'll feel confident and great when you finally do!

Ivory Ella Review

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ivory Ella is a growing t-shirt company that opened its shop just about a month ago. The company took off FAST - as soon as they started pre-orders, there were hundreds of thousands of people trying to get their names down for one of their shirts. One of my closest friends has a huge love for elephants and really wanted one, so I ordered her the long-sleeve shirt that was currently their bestseller, Pocketed Neon Coral Paisley Print, as her Graduation gift.

(via Ivory Ella Online Store Website)
Ivory Ella chose to kick off their business with pocketed long-sleeve shirts and tank tops; I expect the long-sleeve shirts to become their biggest selling product as time goes on. I ordered this shirt almost exactly a month ago and it finally arrived today; as previously said, I did have to pre-order it. However, it was still not supposed to take as long as it did to get here - if you try to order now, the website reflects the true amount of time for it to finally ship to you, which is three weeks. But Ivory Ella actually sent me two shirts for the price of one for the delay and even had it shipped priority, so the package arrived just two days after it was shipped! (Edit to post: Let it be known that this is something Ivory Ella did for all customers on orders that did not ship in a certain period of time - I had absolutely no idea I would be receiving a second shirt!) The second shirt is a limited edition short-sleeve that won't be available to buy and is the first short-sleeve shirt the company has created. If that's all not great customer service, then I don't know what is!

The long-sleeve came all wrapped up and cute looking, ready to be gifted! Less work for me when I get it ready to give to my friend this weekend at her Graduation party, haha. The short-sleeve shirt that I will be keeping for myself was folded nicely and has the logo of the shop on the front in an aztec print; I'm having a hard time deciding if it's the elephant logo or the color of the shirt that I adore the most about it. The shirts are said to be 100% preshrunk cotton, but I plan to see if it shrinks in the wash anyway - the small is a little bigger than I'm used to for my t-shirts (not that I mind at all though!). 10% of all net profits on everything bought from Ivory Ella go back to savetheelephants.org in an effort to help end elephant poaching. So, not only are the clothes fashion-forward, but part of the money you spend on them go back towards a great cause too!

The shirts seem like they are great quality and will last a long time! I definitely recommend Ivory Ella and I can already see myself purchasing other products from them in the future. Have you purchased or are you planning to purchase an Ivory Ella t-shirt? Let me know in the comments below; I absolutely can't wait to start wearing mine out! Click here to check out the full Ivory Ella online shop.

10 Life Lessons I Learned in High School

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

As my high school experience comes to a close, I can't help but reflect on all the good and bad that has come with this four-year roller coaster of life. High school has definitely been an adventure; even though it did not consist of dancing on tables and singing while playing basketball (a major disappointment), I did my best to make these four years worth my time. And I am happy to say that I will be walking out of high school not just with more knowledge on different academic subjects, but also with life lessons that I will remember forever. Here are the most important lessons I learned during my time in high school...

Monthly Reading: May 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I used to be an avid reader a few years ago; books were so fascinating to me and reading served as my escape from life. Over the years, I have been too busy and focused with school and other activities to read. But recently, I have found myself with tons of free time due to just finishing up my last high school classes. So yesterday I took a trip to a local bookstore to get a book I have been wanting that came out not too long ago. And as soon as I entered the store, I instantly fell back in love with the world I had left years before.

Due to my reborn love of reading, I have decided to now dedicate myself to reading at least two books every month. I know reading will serve as a major stress reliever for me just like it used to, and stress relieving methods are definitely more important now than they ever were before as I prepare to enter college. Here are the two books I picked up that I can't wait to start...

1. The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life!
Her Campus is without a doubt my absolute favorite blogger website; my ultimate goal is to become a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network, which I can apply for when my blog is at least six months old, and also a member of the Her Campus UCF chapter (fingers crossed!). When I found out they were coming out with this book, I made plans to pick it up as soon as I could. The book has amazing reviews so far and I know I will enjoy it and get some great tips out of reading it! Look forward to a review of what I believe are the best pieces of advice for a first-time-in-college freshman in this book soon.

2. Style by Lauren Conrad
I didn't walk into the bookstore planning to pick up this book, but I ended up walking out with it. This book was one of those books that I had always wanted to read but was never at the top of my list, so I never picked it up. Lately however, I have found myself very LC-obsessed (must be because I just recently discovered her clothing line). Anyway, some fashion tips from one of my biggest inspirations appealed so much to me and I ended up purchasing the book as well.

Let me know in the comments below books you are currently reading or planning to read, I'd love to get some suggestions for next month. Happy reading everyone, and a happy Mother's Day too!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Forgot that Mother's Day is this Sunday? Still need to get your mother a gift? Well, look no further, reader! Here are some gift ideas that I can guarantee your mother will adore if presented with this Mother's Day...

May Motivation

Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's a new month everyone! May is a special month for me and many other students out there right now - Graduation is just around the corner. It's time to pull through these last (what will probably be) very slow few days. 

I'm happy to say my new blog layout has officially been perfected and everything is running the way it should be. Some posts to look forward to in the coming month include Graduation and Mother's Day gift ideas, Disney tips and special trips (like the 24 hour Summer Celebration!), my outfits to give you a glimpse of my style, and much more! I have a lot planned for this blog and I can't wait for you all to see what I can do. You can follow directly to the right of this post to more easily keep up with A Southern Sunshine.

May just feels like such a motivating month for me with everything I have coming up; hopefully all the exciting plans and goals that I have (and this picture of May from my Lilly Pulitzer agenda) will inspire you to get down to business. You have finished all that spring cleaning and we're transitioning into the summer season, now is the perfect time to do all the things (or to start planning the things) that you have always wanted to do. As Walt Disney once said, "Many of the things that seem impossible today will become realities tomorrow." Maybe at one point you thought some of the goals you wanted to achieve were unattainable; realize that no goal in this life is unachievable for the human being. We have proven over the course of time that we are capable of anything we want to do. Whether what you want to do is a big or small goal, the accomplishment of that goal will be worth all the work you put into it to make it a reality. A sense of motivation is in the air this month, and you can't just sit back and deny it! 

Get out there and make a few dreams come true this month! Let me know in the comments below what some of your goals for May are, or if you have any motivation to provide to fellow readers. And don't forget to just stop and smell the flowers along the way!

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