Southern Belle in Training

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October 19, 2018

Designer Diaries: Tory Burch Parker Tote Review.

     Starting a new series on Southern Belle in Training today! Over the years I've really developed an affinity for the more affordable designer brands like Coach, Kate Spade, and of course, my beloved Tory Burch! These brands are still  an investment to purchase, but much more realistic for a 20-something's budget than YSL, Gucci, Chloe, or any of the other fancy high-end labels! Most of the styles of the brands that I love are still chic and timeless, and the quality is much better than cheaply made knockoff bags. And it's much more doable to save up a few hundred dollars for a special pair of shoes or purse, rather than a few thousand dollars! #NoThanks

      I'm not sure how frequently I'll be doing "Designer Diaries" posts, as I don't often make those type of investment purchases. But I look forward to sharing on this topic from time to time! Today I am sharing a bag review of my Tory Burch Parker tote, which I use as my work bag. My parents generously bought me this for my 23rd birthday last year after I asked for it! For 2018, the Parker style was replaced by a revamped version of the Robinson tote, but the Robinson is very similar to the bag I have, so I still thought I'd post this. I've been using this bag for just over a year now, so I feel like I'm able to give a good review of it. 😊

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Parker Tote Details: 

     The Tory Burch Parker tote is a classic leather Tory bag. It is chic and bold, with minimal design elements. When the bag was released, it was sold in multiple beautiful colors, as well as classic hues, such as black and navy. The color that I have is called "Dust Storm", and it's the perfect shade that matches anything I wear in all seasons. I love black purses, but I didn't want something that dark for my work bag. I wanted a tote for work that could comfortable fit my laptop, agenda, phone, makeup bag, and all of the other things that are in and out of my bag on a weekly basis. This bag ended up being perfect!

     There is one fairly large interior zip pocket in the Parker, and several slip pockets. The front of the bag also has a slit pocket (although I don't usually use that one). The interior of the bag is lined in a light colored fabric. The entire bag can zip shut, which I appreciate when I am out and about. The bag's dimensions are 14" W x 12" H x 6" D. My parents bought mine directly through Tory Burch, and it came in one of their classic boxes, and with a special dust bag. I believe this bag retailed for around $350 when it was new, but it is still available at select retailers (and of course secondhand), and it can now be purchased at a reduced price. The Robinson tote which replaced it is retailing for $348 currently.

Parker Tote Pros: 
     I am so glad that I selected this bag for my work bag! The quality on this bag is incredible- it is well worth the few hundred dollar price tag. I've used this bag at least five days a week (some weeks all seven days) for the last year, and overall it stayed in amazing condition, despite all of the use. I am a bad bag owner and most days for work I stuff mine way past capacity. In addition to my laptop, wallet, agenda and makeup bag(s), I usually have at least one or two library books floating around in there, plus bulky snacks to eat at work. And amazingly, this bag can handle all my stuff!

     I'm so happy that I went with the beautiful grey color. It truly coordinates well with my work outfits at all times of the year! I know that this bag is a beautiful, classic style that I'll still be loving and using for years to come. My 23rd birthday was actually one of my least favorite birthdays in my life (I was dealing with a lot at that time and struggling with the beginnings of situational depression as well)... but receiving this beautiful bag for that birthday is definitely a bright spot in my memory!

Parker Tote Cons:

     I do have a few cons with this bag, but I have to preface and say that the pros way outweigh the cons, as I truly do love my Parker tote! The first con is that I wish there were more zippered pockets. There is one in the interior of the bag, so currently I have all the weird odds and ends that need to go in a purse pocket all in the big one. I think it would be perfect if there was also a small zippered pocket inside as well!

     I don't find that the slip pocket on the outside works very well. I tried using it for some magazines when I used this bag as a carry-on for a flight last year, but it seemed like having the magazines in the front slip pocket were really stretching the bag (and also not being held well), so I haven't used that since. Speaking of using this bag as a carry-on, I wouldn't recommend it. While it is a fantastic work bag, I think there are better designed and lighter weight bags that would suit a traveler much better for a flight.

    This is also a bag that you really need to carry a wallet with. There aren't any small zipped pockets or card slots inside the bag, so I'd be petrified to have money or credit cards floating around loosely inside. And for my last con- you'll probably laugh at this one. Since I use this as my work bag, I associate this bag now solely with my day job, and I don't love carrying it on the weekends! So dramatic of me, I know. But it's true! The fact that I use it so much during the weekdays gives me a chance to use some of my other favorite purses on weekends, so I guess this isn't too big of a con.

How I've Styled My Parker Tote: 

     My Parker tote has made it into many a blog photoshoot over the past year! See how I've styled it with outfits for both work and play:

Where to Buy: 

     As I mentioned in the earlier part of the blog post, the Parker tote was actually discontinued this year by Tory Burch, and replaced with a revamped version of the Robinson tote. I did find one retailer still selling the Parker tote in a pretty dark red color, so that was exciting! If you wanted a different color option though, you'll have to go with the Robinson tote, which all in all is a super similar bag. Tory Burch bags are sold online and in-store through Tory Burch directly, and at fine retailers like Nordstrom, ShopBopNeimen Marcus and more!


    Please let me know what you thought of my first Designer Diaries review! Next up I might do a post about my David Yurman ring.

     Have a great weekend!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

October 17, 2018

Midweek Ramblings.

{A recent outfit featuring a cute new blazer! Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk

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

  • Hilarious animal photos: This is the best link that I've clicked on all week! I had no idea that there was an annual Comedy Wildlife Photography contest, but I sure am glad I found out about it. It's a round-up of some really funny animal photos- it sure put a smile on my face to see these pictures! 
  • New favorite Youtube channel: I don't watch a ton of Youtube, but every now and then I find a new channel that I get obsessed with for awhile. The one I'm telling y'all about today has absolutely nothing to do with fashion or beauty- but I love it nonetheless. The Company Man makes videos about... you guessed it, companies! Specifically, informational videos about your favorite national brands and companies. He discusses everything from the history of your favorite companies, to why some of them fail. The Company Man videos are super informative and interesting, I love watching one while getting ready in the mornings. I'm curious if he'll do an updated one about Sears/Kmart since they just announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week!
  • Delilah update: If you follow me on Instagram and watch my Stories, you're well familiar that I have a new roommate- a sweet and fluffy cat named Delilah! Overall the first few weeks of being a cat owner have gone really well. The only thing that I'm really struggling with is having Delilah sleep through the night. During her first couple weeks home, I kept her in my living room at night, but she would cry so loudly all night that 1) I couldn't sleep and 2) it broke my heart! About a week ago I finally started letting her sleep in my room at night. Unfortunately, she's still been up all night! Whether she's trying to attack the window blinds, or lick my face for a few hours (seriously)- I haven't gotten much sleep since she came home. A few people on Instagram DMed me and suggested that I get a spray water bottle to keep and spray her with for bad behavior at night. I'm hoping she'll turn things around on her own so I don't have to do that, but we will see!
  • Charlottesville Travel Guide: Other than my winery reviews, I haven't shared much travel related content about Charlottesville on my blog yet. I wanted to wait until I lived here for a full year to do that! Anyways, in the meantime if you're thinking about visiting Central Virginia, you must check out Heather from Heather Bien's Charlottesville guide! She includes a few of my favorite places, and many that I haven't checked out yet. 

Weekend recaps:
  • Last weekend: Other than going to church on Sunday, I had zero plans, which has been very unusual for my weekends since I moved to Virginia! I ended up going to a workout class at the gym on Saturday, and then a nature walk later in the day. My big project of the weekend was deep cleaning my kitchen and bedroom, and I caught up on podcasts while doing that.
  • This weekend: My mom visited me earlier in the month, and this weekend my dad is coming. He hasn't been in Virginia since he helped me move back in March, but since we were so consumed with that he didn't get a chance to explore. We are hoping to check out the beautiful Shenandoah National Park while he's here- it should be just magical to visit in the fall!

Purchases: I'm currently doing a four week shopping fast for the month of October to save up for one of my favorite holidays... Black Friday!! 😊

FYI... I do have a discount code right now for Shein that I wanted to share with y'all! Use code HIMISSALK20 for 20% off any Shein order- and their prices are already amazing.

  • Lately I have been crossing my fingers that some of the Gal Meets Glam dresses will be marked down for Black Friday Sales! If you can't wait that long, this pretty one is 40% off right now. 
  • If I was headed somewhere warm in the next couple months, I would scoop up this pretty Lilly Pulitzer dress in an instant!
  • I have this same versatile sweater in black (I'll be styling it for an upcoming blog post!), but I just saw that the sweater also comes in a beautiful hot pink color. 
  • Since I recently joined a gym, I've been working out a lot more often. I want to purchase some more cute athletic attire, and you can't beat the price or style factor of these leggings!
  • I really want to buy this for Delilah- but since she's an indoor cat I'm not sure it makes sense to get it?

Recipe of the week: Apple Whoopie Pies from A Mix of Min. I'm finally out of my recipe and cooking rut! I tried three new recipes in the last week. This whoopie pie recipe is especially seasonal, which made me want to pick it for this week's recipe of the week! It's from fellow blogger Mindy from A Mix of Min, and it's perfect to make if you've recently visited an apple orchard. I brought some of these into work for my coworkers to enjoy, and they were gone by lunchtime!

Song of the week: Lost in Japan by Zedd ft. Shawn Mendes. Confession: I'm not really a fan of Shawn Mendes' other music- I think this is the first song of his that I can say I really truly like! But boy is this a catchy one. Makes me want to hop on a flight to Japan- ha!

On the blog this week:

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

October 16, 2018

Monticello Wine Trail: Reynard Florence Vineyard.

     Welcome back to one of my favorite new series on Southern Belle in Training! Join me as I drink my way (responsibly of course 😉) through Charlottesville and Central Virginia's most prominent wineries, which are all apart of the Monticello Wine Trail. I still can't believe the fact that I didn't really like wine (!!) before I moved to Virginia in March. Clearly- I just hadn't tried the right wines! Local Virginia wines are just incredible, and I've been having so much fun visiting and reviewing different wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. 

    In today's post, I'm reviewing one of the smallest and most intimate wineries that I've visited so far. Some of the Monticello Wine Trail wineries (like Veritas and Afton Mountain) are sprawling properties, and have large tasting rooms and event spaces. Reynard Florence is much smaller in size than a lot of the others, but it's actually one of my favorites that I've visited so far. I went here for a solo afternoon adventure a couple weeks ago when it was still really warm outside! It was about 80 the day that I visited- ideal weather for sitting outside with a glass of wine and reading a good book.

     Reynard Florence Vineyard is located in Barborsville, in Orange County. (Fun fact: I recently learned that the town of Barborsville is actually located in three different counties!! #GeographyNerd) It's about a 30 minute drive away from Charlottesville. Your GPS will probably give you a few ways to find it- I took a different route there than I did leaving. My tip is to take Route 33 from either east or west to access the vineyard- I found that was the easier route. Reynard Florence is a family owned vineyard. I got to meet co-owner Dee when I visited the tasting room, and I also had the delight of meeting Ti-Ray, an adorable Corgi who is often found at the vineyard. (I sadly didn't get any photos of Ti-Ray, but there are some cute ones on the Reynard Florence website!)

    Normally when I visit a new-to-me vineyard, I like to do a tasting and then have a glass with my favorite wine. Since this was a solo adventure and I drove myself, I opted just to do a glass of white wine. (I also brought many yummy snacks so I wouldn't be drinking on an empty stomach!) I decided to go with the Chardonnay, and it was delicious! The perfect wine to sip on during a warm fall afternoon outdoors. I spent the next few hours sipping wine, finishing a good book, and just enjoying the beautiful views! I was one of the only people visiting the winery that day, so it felt like my private paradise. 

     Reynard Florence Vineyard is open Saturdays and Sundays, and on holiday Mondays (I visited on Columbus Day.) This vineyard may be one of the smaller ones on the Monticello Wine Trail, but it doesn't lack in natural beauty and great wine! I'm looking forward to visiting here again, and hopefully next time with friends. This was the first winery in Orange county that I'd visited, and I look forward to checking out more in that area.

     Previous Monticello Wine Trail posts can be found here!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

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