January 22, 2018

Best Casual Sweater Under $40 + 2018 Resolutions Check-In.

     One of my resolutions for 2018 is to actually stick to most of my resolutions for this year! I haven't formally shared all of my goals for the new year yet, so I thought as January comes to a close, today would be the perfect time to share some of my resolutions, and have I've been working towards them in the first few weeks of this year. I'm also sharing one of my new favorite casual sweaters for today's outfit. Pull up a chai latte with me, and let's have a virtual coffee or tea date and get to it!

Blue Leopard Print Sweater - Winter Style

Best Casual Sweater Under $40

Pink Hunter Boots Preppy Outfit

Photography by Melissa Lynn Studios. Thanks to Black Cap Coffee in Stowe, VT for letting us shoot these pictures inside! 

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

     I picked up this sweater on my trip to Indiana for New Year's (the mall I visited there had much better store options than anywhere in Vermont!). As soon as I felt this sweater, I was amazed at how warm and thick it was for the price point. I knew it was a must-have with the bitter cold temperatures that Vermont has been having this winter. Anything to stay cozy while fashionable gets an enthusiastic "YES!" from me right now! These pink Hunter boots (my first pair!) finally made it to me via my parents over Christmas. I ordered them as this year's big Black Friday splurge to myself when they were on sale... but silly me sent them to my home address in Maine instead of Vermont. Hey- at least I didn't send them to one of my former addresses in Charlotte! My parents brought them to me at Christmas and now that I have them I'm kind of obsessed! You'll be seeing more of them soon. 

     So let's talk resolutions! I'll be sharing some of my 2018 ones below, and a check-in for each as to how it's been going so far in January:

     1. Complete 52 Week Savings Plan again (previously completed as 2016 resolution): So far so good! I recently wrote a blog post explaining this financial resolution and breaking it down for anyone who wants to join me in building their savings account this year. I have set phone alert reminders for every Friday to remind myself to make the deposits for that week's amount from my checking account to savings, and so far that's helping! 

     2. Do a minimum of two workouts a week, with goal of running a 5k in 2018: So far so good with this one too! It's been a goal of mine for years to run a 5K. I am not a runner, and have always struggled with running (running the mile in high school gym class was a nightmare). I want to stop making excuses and finally overcome that in 2018, and develop a hopeful love for running by working my way up to a 5k! I'm hoping to be hitting the gym or doing other types of exercise 3-4 times a week, by my minimum is twice a week. There's little to no physical activity in my job, so I really have to push myself to workout and make those healthy decisions. I have worked out or done some sort of physical activity at least twice a week since the start of the year. Hoping in February to really increase that to more times a week, but for now I'm happy to meet my minimum goal! 

     3. Spend quiet time each weekday morning in uninterrupted prayer: YES! Probably most proud of myself for doing so well at this one so far. I've always been very good at communicating with God throughout my day, both verbally and silently, but I've known for awhile I've needed to get better about "quiet time." Time where I can just focus on deep prayer and my relationship with the Lord. I've started doing this every weekday morning, before I eat breakfast. I set a timer on my phone to make sure that I actually have quiet time for enough time, and that's been working well and helping me from getting distracted! I haven't done this every weekend morning since my weekend schedules vary, but I've been able to get into a great weekday morning routine and it's already helping my faith! 

     I'm really quite happy with my progress on these three resolutions so far. I have a few other resolutions for 2018 as well (I'm telling y'all- this was MY YEAR for goals!) that were more personal, but I'm not quite ready to share all of those on the blog right now. Hopefully the time will come to share all of them with y'all later this year! 

      How are your New Year's resolutions coming so far? Have you stuck with them, or are you adjusting them going in February? 

     I'm really excited for two lifestyle blog posts that I have coming this week- I hope y'all will enjoy! It'll be a great week here on Southern Belle in Training.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

January 19, 2018

Winter 2018 Reader Q&A.

     I love doing Q&A posts here on the blog! Y'all always ask me the best questions, and I think this is such a fun way for me to share more about myself. I also love reading Q&A posts when other bloggers do them! They're just fun all around. My last one was in September so you can catch up on that here if you missed it! Thanks to everyone who DMd and emailed me these awesome questions!

Photo by Amanda Rose Photography

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

My coat in the photo above is found here! 

      What is your favorite type of cheese? My girl Amy from Pastel n Pink always asking the TOUGH questions- haha! I had a huge sweet tooth growing up, and while I still have a fairly large one, I'd say my biggest food weakness is my CHEESE tooth. It's only gotten worse since I moved to Vermont, the dairy capital of the Northeast. I always know it's time to head to the grocery store if I've run out of cheese, true story. I love so many cheese and for different reasons (some area better to cook with, some are best to snack on), but I'll answer this question from a snacking perspective. My three favorite snacking cheeses that I generally rotate between are any type of sharp Cheddar, Havarti, and Muenster.

      What suggestions do you have for new bloggers to help gain followers and grow? This is a great question! It's funny, when I first read this I was like "I'm in no position to give advice about this!", and then the more I thought about it, I remembered I've been doing this whole blogging thing for 5+ years now. Wow! I guess I'm not a newbie anymore. While I'm definitely not the biggest or best blogger and I never will be, I've definitely learned some important things regarding the business of blogging in the last few years, and maybe now is the time to start sharing! I think this question would actually best be answered in a separate post or maybe even series about blogging, but to still answer it in some capacity: here's my number one tip to grow your blog and social following as a newer blogger. Be an active member of the blogging community! Befriend other bloggers, both those local in your community and also those online. Become active in blogger Facebook groups. Join some comment/like pods (yes, I'm a fan of these!). Network with other creatives like photographers too, I've learned so much from my photographer friends. The best benefit of this are the amazing relationships that you'll make, but the second plus is that you'll gain more followers and readers, and also learn a lot about blogging from networking with other bloggers!
      Again- this is my short answer. I think I'd like to write more about blogging tips in the coming months!

      How has your blog helped with being on-air in radio? Another great question! Y'all are killing it this time. The really short answer: SO MANY WAYS! Social media and blogging are becoming very integrated with the radio world, especially as radio continues to move into the digital space. Having an extensive prior knowledge of these things from Southern Belle in Training made it easy to write blog posts for our station website or do IG lives at radio events for example, as I've already had experience doing things like that. This is another question that I could write a more detailed blog post on- I might save it for my Radio 101 series, which will be back soon!

     What are your favorite TV shows? I am a huge TV buff and much prefer TV to movies. (And when I do watch a movie, it's usually a Lifetime or Hallmark channel one, haha!) I wrote a detailed blog post early this fall all about my picks for the Fall TV season, which you can check out here. I've still been watching all of the shows I wrote about in this post for the most part!! To answer your question more specifically:
     Favorite shows on TV now: The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, Jane the Virgin, Great News, 9JKL, Star, The Mayor, The Bachelor(ette)
    Favorite shows off-air: 7th Heaven, That 70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, Hart of Dixie, Parks and Rec
     My all-time favorite show is That 70s Show, it's the only show I've seen more times than I can count on reruns and Netflix, and I still laugh hysterically at every episode and every joke. Kelso is my favorite character for comedic purposes, and I love how he and Jackie ended up together in real life. 😉

     Name a few places on your travel bucket list: I actually just blogged about this yesterday coincidentally! Check out my post here. (Spoiler alert: it's a lot of places!)

     When and how did you start your blog? I talk a bit about this on the About Me page of my blog! I'll give you the brief version of the story here. 😊 I actually started blogging in January 2011, during my junior year of high school. I had a personal writing blog called "Confessions of a Maine Teenager." (I cringe typing that name here now- lol!) My parents were really concerned back then about my privacy as a minor in the online world, so I didn't share photos of myself or blog under my name. I would sign my posts as "Miss ALK" - ALK is my initials, which is how my Instagram and later other social media handles were born! (I still signed my blog posts here on SBIT as Miss ALK for the first few years in tribute to my former blog!) Anyways, I stopped posting on my Confessions blog around the time that I graduated from high school, and took that summer between high school and college off to focus on my summer job and preparing to move to North Carolina. After I began college, I realized that I really missed the creative writing outlet that blogging brought, and since I'd always loved fashion, I thought it would be fun to start sharing pictures of the outfits that I put together each day for college classes on a new blog. So- I launched Southern Belle in Training on my birthday in 2012! The name honestly just came naturally to me, it seemed so fitting since I had just moved from Maine. I didn't start to monetize my blog until about a year after I started it. So I spent a long time just blogging in college solely because I enjoyed blogging! I've left up most of my old blog posts in the archives- sometimes I like to go back and read them just to see how far this blog has come!

     What are your go-to's for self-care? What a great question! While self-care is definitely important, I think the culture today has almost an unhealthy obsession with it. The premise of "self-care" can sometimes be used I think as an excuse for spending unnecessary money on things we don't really need or have the funds for. Sometimes it is also about spending too much of your time on mindless activities to divert from an actual problem in your life which needs to be addressed and is causing you stress. (See this article for more on that.) So anyways- while I think self-care is necessary and for sure has a place in our busy lives, it is a bit blown out of proportion in the culture today, with the whole #TreatYourself mentality. Just wanted to get that out there!
    With that said, since moving to Vermont, my favorite form of self-care is one that's super easy and costs nothing at all: SLEEP. I've started making it an absolute necessity that I get 8+ hours of sleep a night, and some weeknights I go to bed really early and get closer to 10 hours. Back in college and broadcasting school, many nights I was lucky to just have 6 hours of sleep! I'm really starting to reap the benefits of all of the extra sleep that I've been getting over the last several months. The chronic migraines that I've dealt with for the last few years have faded to becoming rare occurrences, rather than something to deal with weekly. I find that I'm very alert in the mornings, and also stay alert at work throughout my workday. (Knock on wood) I also haven't been sick once since I moved to Vermont! Not even a common cold. Every time some sort of sickness has gone around the radio station, I've avoided it. I seriously attribute that 100% to the fact that I sleep a lot and sleep helps your body better fight against illness!
      I also have one form of #TreatYourself self-care that I do partake in. My rant above wasn't to say that spending money on self-care is bad, it just shouldn't become an obsession. 😊 Around this time last year, I decided I wanted to quit nail biting once and for all, and I started getting acrylic nails and regular nail appointments. I ditched the acrylics after moving and now get gel manicures, which I like better (and they're cheaper!). It definitely has helped to curbed my bad nail biting habit, and I feel more prepared at work and with blogging to have nice nails. So this is my bi-weekly self-care splurge!

     Thanks again to everyone who sent these wonderful questions!! I hope to make my Q&A posts a seasonal thing in 2018, so look for another one in the springtime.

    Have a great start to your weekend! Friday- we made it! This is the first weekend in awhile where it's going to be warmer than negative temperatures here in Vermont. 30s and 40s... I'll take it!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


January 18, 2018

Italy Travel Vlog + My Travel Destinations Bucket List!

     Well part one of today's blog post is about nine months overdue! I'm finally sharing my first vlog from my trip to Italy with my mom in March 2017, right before I moved to Vermont! In the spirt of wanderlust (and a little bit of winter cabin fever that's starting to hit), I'm also sharing my travel bucket lists!

     Despite the fact that I've taken a good few video editing classes between my major in undergrad and broadcasting school last year, video editing still isn't something that comes naturally to me. In broadcasting school especially, I had to work doubly hard on any video or TV assignments then I did on radio ones. That's honestly the main reason why I don't do more to grow my Youtube channel or incorporate more video stuff onto the blog! It's just something that really doesn't come naturally to me (unlike writing and photography). But it's always good to push yourself out of your creative comfort zone, so I'm hoping to challenge myself and make a few more videos for the blog in 2018. Youtube will never be a weekly (or maybe even monthly) component to Southern Belle in Training, but I'm hoping you'll be seeing more video content in the future! Anyways, I did decide last year though that I wanted to vlog the Italy trip, and I made the commitment to myself that I WOULD finish the vlogs- no matter how long it took! I wasn't quite expecting it to take nine months... but here we are, lol! Anyways, I loved the end product of this vlog and I think I would like to make more travel vlogs in the future for more "big trips" that I go on. Today's vlog is actually part one, and it covers Rome and Florence. Venice was my favorite part of the trip- and this winter I'll be working on a second vlog for that. (Hopefully it won't take me nine months! 😉)

     Check out my first Italy vlog below, and follow my Youtube channel here!

     Now let's talk travel bucket lists! Travel is one of the things that I'm most passionate about in life. There is so much to gain from visiting new places and exposing yourself to different cultures, both domestically with different states, and of course internationally with various countries and continents! I feel very thankful that I grew up with two parents who also love to travel and made it a priority during the years I was younger. They also supported my decision to study abroad for a summer in college, and although that actually didn't end up being the most positive experience, it definitely put me outside of my comfort zone and I'm still glad I did it!

     I've been blessed with the opportunity to go on some amazing trips during the last five years, last year's Italy trip being just one of them! Since I'm on my own in the working world now, I'm currently focused on paying off all of my school debts in the next couple years before going on any "big" trips. But I'm always dreaming about places around the globe that I'd like to visit, and my wanderlust list keeps growing and growing! I know that after I've finished paying off school it will be SO HARD for me to decide where to take my next international trip to. And who knows, it might also be a big domestic trip!

     *US Travel Bucket List:

  • Every single state, and especially all 48 continental states. Seriously!! Want to see all 50! It's actually on my bucket list to do a cross-country road trip someday, and integrate it into both my blog and whatever radio show I'm working on at the time. I literally want to see every major US city, re-visit all the places I visited with my parents when I was little now that I'm an adult, and also see many of the national parks. That would be way too long to list all of my US bucket list destinations out, so let's jump into the international ones:

     *International Travel Bucket List:

  • Panama (There's just something about the country of Panama, it's been on my bucket list for a few years now! It's fairly affordable to visit, there's minimal jet lag, Panama City has an incredible skyline, and I'd love to see the Panama Canal!)
  • Saint Lucia (It looks like one of the Caribbean's most incredible islands, I'd love to see it for myself!)
  • Mexico (I'd love to finally visit Cancun or Cabo, these destinations look like they'd be perfect to visit with a group of friends for a besties trip.) 
  • Paris, France (Yes... I studied abroad in France for a whole month and never made it to Paris, outside of layovers in the airport!!) 
  • Thailand (I think it would be so romantic to honeymoon here someday on a resort on one of Thailand's amazing beaches!)
  • Singapore (One of Asia's cultural gems!)
  • Japan (Such amazing culture and so many cool things to do! I also had a Japanese exchange student friend in high school so it would be fun to reunite as adults.) 
  • India (I have been long obsessed with Bollywood movies and Indian food, and I would love to finally see this amazing country for myself. One of my favorite Bollywood movies is set in the beach state of Goa, so visiting there would be especially high on the bucket list!)
  • Spain (My mom and I had a layover there en route to Italy, and it made me sad I wasn't able to explore this beautiful country too!)
  • Greece (Some of the most gorgeous architecture and islands on earth- enough said!)
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia (This city in Eastern Canada is another one that's been on my travel bucket list for years. It just seems like such a charming place to visit!)

     These countries are just my top travel bucket list destinations, but I'm not joking when I say that there are so many more places that I'd love to visit! My wanderlust is so real. 

     Do we share any of the same travel destinations on our bucket lists? Are your travel goals more international or domestically focused? (Or both, like mine?)

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese