December 11, 2017

Relationship Monday: Finding Joy in Singleness During Engagement Season.

      It's been a long time since I've written a Relationship Monday post. When I introduced this on the blog in February, I saw it being a monthly, if not bi-monthly post series! What I quickly learned with the nature of these types of topics though is that you can't force inspiration for writing about things like dating and relationships. The desire to write about this either hits or it doesn't! The last Relationship Monday post that I wrote was in May, and it was one of the most personal posts that I've ever shared on my blog! I guess after sharing all of that I needed some time away from sharing about this subject of relationships. Anyways, today's post topic has been on my heart and mind for quite some time now, and I knew that the timing was right to bring back Relationship Mondays to the blog! Will it become a monthly series again as I intended? I have no idea!! I'm going to keep sharing these posts only as inspiration hits. 😊 But inspiration is definitely hit this month, so let's get into it!









     Ah, the holiday season. The time for Christmas trees and Christmas music, gift giving and buying, holiday parties, and religious events and services if you celebrate that part of the season. It seems though with each year that I get older, the more and more that I associate November/December with engagements, love, and romance. February and Valentine's Day of course are the official holiday for all things romantic, but seriously, it seems like love it becoming more intertwined with Christmas than its own holiday in the winter! I actually read an article while doing some show prep for one of my radio shows a few weeks ago which had the statistics that each year between 30-45% of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, so if it feels like everyone on your Facebook or Instagram feed has some shiny new bling on their finger, it might not be a total exaggeration! 


      A little backstory on my own thoughts about engagement: every since I was little, I always thought that I'd be married young. For every part of me that wanted to go to college to study communications and eventually get into the radio industry... I wanted a MRS. degree just as bad! (I kind of hate admitting that publicly- but it's true! Lol.) I didn't really date in high school, and aside from that, I've always been too much of a realist to really believe in most high school relationships working out. So when I was in high school, I always held out relationships-wise for college. A few of my female cousins met their husbands pretty early on in college, and I always just felt like that would be my story as well. College is supposed to be totally different then high school- right?

      Well, my college years definitely did give me tons of new experiences; a new part of the country to call home, and the first big steps towards working in my dream industry.... but definitely no ring on a certain finger! Heck, I didn't even have a serious boyfriend in college. By about junior year, I really realized that while you can control a lot of things about your college experience, falling in love is not one of those things. I do have friends who met the love of their life in college. In fact- I was a bridesmaid in one of those weddings this past spring! But just because college love stories are the forever stories for a lot of people, doesn't mean it will be everyone's story. That's something I've had to accept and move on from. So here I am, 23 years old, and still currently single. Just like years prior, there is absolutely zero chance of any sort of a ring coming my way this Christmas. Although I am finally at a point in my life where I am happily content as a young single woman (which is a whole separate blog post!), I will say that thinking about this in detail does bum me out a little bit somewhere inside of me, as 23 is the age that I always wanted to be married at. 


     But this year I have chosen not to dwell in the fact that I'm still single, and instead be joyful about the blessings that this time in my life provides. This is such a shift in perspective from the views that I've had in past years during this season, and let me tell you that it has made all the difference. I know firsthand though how difficult this season can be if you are single and it feels like everyone close to you is falling in love, getting engaged, or planning a wedding, so today I wanted to share some thoughts and reflections for fellow single girls (or guys?) for you to remember during Christmastime: 



     1. Remember who you're waiting for: It breaks my heart to know that adults actually get married just for the sake of getting married, and being afraid to be alone. Like, think about it with me for a second... this is an actual thing and not just something in TV shows and movies! Yikessss. I very much do want to get married someday, but because I believe marriage is a God-given covenant, and I want to share that with the love of my life. I don't believe something as sacred as marriage should be shared with any random guy, just because I'm at a point in my life where I feel "lonely." Trust me- I would rather still be single and unmarried at 50 but living a rich and fulfilled life as a single woman, then married to the wrong man just because I settled! If you're not engaged or in a serious dating relationship this holiday season, remember the reasons that you're holding out! YOU are special, and one of God's beloved children. You deserve the love story of your dreams with someone who will be kindhearted, faithful, and making everyday of life together an adventure, and settling for someone random just so you can have a ring on your finger isn't worth it! 


      2. Consider the expense of a wedding, and how you can spend your money elsewhere: Of course I am super excited to hopefully have the wedding of my dreams someday, but the older that I get, some of the not-so-fun realities about weddings have started to hit me. Namely: how much they cost!!! I think wedding prices keep going up and up every year, and truly, it's an insane industry. Of course a couple wants the day that they've dreamed about, and many couples want a big enough party to include all of their family and friends, but that plus a honeymoon and all the additional expenses equal thousands and thousands of dollars. Personally- I'm choosing to be THANKFUL that it ended up being while I'm in my young 20s and working in radio (a field notorious for low starting salaries) that I don't have to worry about wedding expenses. Instead I can focus during these next few years on paying off school loans (not super fun), but also save for more fun things, like a new car, investments in my blogging business, and my favorite hobby: TRAVEL! 


     3. Remember marriage statistics: Not to be a downer, but Americans these days don't have great statistics when it comes to marriage success. This comes back again to marrying for the right or wrong reasons. Sure- it might be easy to see jealous in the moment when you see on Facebook that a high school classmate, sorority sister, or co-worker has some new bling on a certain finger during the Christmas season, but think about it realistically. There is a 50% chance that her marriage will not be a lifelong one. There is also a chance that the engagement won't make it to the altar!! Remember that an engagement is a promise- but still not a lifetime commitment. Again- not to sound like a total downer here, but it's important to be realistic about these things, and not idealize too much over other people's circumstances.


       4. There's much worse things to deal with at the holidays (or any time of year) than singleness:  About to get a little bit blunt with y'all so bare with me here. (And blunt with myself too! I have a feeling I might come back and re-read this post on days that pity parties creep in.) People deal with tragedies all the time- every single day, and at the holidays included. It can be really easy to fall into the trap of wallowing in self-pity and forgetting that this is actually a very minor problem in the scheme of the world, or even just here in the US. There are families who can't afford to provide gifts for their children for Christmas this year. There are people that are homeless this holiday season, without a warm place to sleep at night. There are victims of domestic violence and other types of assault, who live every day in fear and can't enjoy the joy of Christmas. There are the hungry, the terminally ill, the lost and the broken. There's a lot of hurting right now in 2017. When you think about things that way.... not having a fiancé at this stage in your life is a pretty small problem. Try and channel your sad feelings into something nice that you can do to bless others this holiday season instead! 


     5. Be the friend to your newly engaged friends that you want them to be to you someday: If you do have a close friend or family member who does get engaged this holiday season, be joyful for them!! Shower them and their fiancé with love, and let them know how honored you are to be in their life during this season for them. Someday it will be your turn, whether at Christmas or another time of year. I'm sure when that time comes for you, you'd much rather have supportive friends and family instead of a jealous and petty bunch of single people who don't care to share in your happiness. 


      6. Focus on starting your OWN holiday traditions: Growing up, I always was so excited to dream about my future husband and us starting our own Christmas traditions together. Last year was my first Christmas out of college and living in my own apartment, and I realized around Thanksgiving that there is no rule anywhere in the world saying that an adult has to be married and starting a family to create holiday traditions! I started a few of my own last year, at the ripe old age of 22, and it's been fun to bring those back this year, where I'm living in a new state. I also started a couple new ones this year! 



      There you go- a few ideas and thoughts regarding singleness during the holiday season! I hope you enjoyed today's Relationship Monday post. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments!

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     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese

December 8, 2017

My Favorite "Constant" + An Easy Christmas Gift Idea.


     This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TeaProudly #CollectiveBias


DIY Tea Christmas Gift #ad #TeaProudly



      Happy Friday! Today is actually a super exciting day- I'm spending most of my day in various airports as I'm heading off for an amazing long weekend adventure with my friend Kylie from Dress in Sparkles. This weekend is not only my first vacation out of New England since I moved to Vermont in April, but it's also a trip has been in the works for months and I can't wait to share much more about it soon! I'm so happy today on the blog though to be partnering with one of my favorite tea brands, Bigelow, again for a very special post! I'm sharing today how Bigelow teas, especially their Constant Comment. have been a steady "constant" through my life in recent years, and also an easy and simple Christmas gift idea featuring this tea!


      While I began blogging here on SBIT in September 2012, when I was beginning my freshman year of college, my blogging journey in general technically began a year and a half prior, in January 2011! (For my junior and senior years of high school, I had a personal lifestyle blog, which was really more like an online journal and place to share my thoughts and feelings about high school, life in Maine, and the college search process.) So January 2018 will mark seven years of being a blogger! WOW! A lot can change in a person's life in seven years. A few of my big changes: I've called two additional states home, I have a diploma, a degree, and a certificate from a trade school, I've traveled to five more countries and countless more states, and I've had my first kiss and first heartbreak.


      But as much as things change in a person's life with time, many things are also constants, and stay the same. Some of mine: I still have long brown hair, I'm still not a great driver, I still am obsessed with late 90s and early 2000s pop culture, and my faith is still extremely important to me. Another constant that's been with me through the years? Bigelow tea- more specifically Bigelow Constant Comment! 


      I've never been a big coffee drinker- tea has always been more my thing. My first memories specifically of choosing Bigelow Teas and Constant Comment go back to my junior year of high school in Maine (right around the time in life that I started blogging!). From 10th-12th grade, I was involved in the Interact Club at my high school, which was a community service club. I would usually carpool to the meetings with friends of mine, and especially in the winter we'd always stop beforehand at a local coffee shop on Main Street in our town for a hot beverage to take along. My friends were all coffee and latte aficionados, but I was and still am a tea girl! I remember that this coffee shop carried Bigelow Teas, and I used to love ordering Constant Comment as my tea of choice in the winter months for Interact meeting nights.


      Then came my college years in the South! This is when I really became a tea drinker. Tea was apart of my daily routine- I'd have it with breakfast in my dorm, often with lunch or dinner in the dining hall, and of course while studying in the library! Bigelow Teas were now my favorite to choose from the university dining hall, and also a brand that I'd always look for at the store on weekly grocery runs. (My two grocery staples in college: Bigelow Tea and cheese- true story!) 


      And finally- the present. I live in Burlington, Vermont and work full-time as a radio personality. I drink a cup of tea every single workday before going on air! I love the feeling of warm tea in my throat before having to talk into the microphone. Of course- I keep my desk at work stocked up with lots of Bigelow Teas, and just like when I was in high school, Constant Comment is again a favorite during the winter months. The delicious taste is timeless. This tea truly has been a "constant" in my life- and for that I am thankful! 

     
     

      Now that I've shared a bit of my personal connection to Bigelow Tea and their Constant Comment and why it helps me to Tea Proudly, I wanted to share a super simple DIY Christmas gift idea with y'all! 

     





   

      This gift would be ideal for those people in our daily lives who do make a difference and mean something to you, but you still might not know them well enough to purchase them a large Christmas gift (or would it be appropriate to). Some examples could be coworkers, your hairdresser or nail technician, a professor (or your child's teacher!), fitness instructor, church friends/bible study group members.... etc etc. I think this would make an ideal little Christmas gift to still let these people in your life know that they're being appreciated and thought of during the holiday season!


     Purchase a festive holiday mug, tie some cute ribbon around the handle, and fill with Bigelow Tea packets so that they can enjoy warm beverages all season long in their new mug! I chose to fill mine with Constant Comment, since its rich flavor really is the ideal winter tea. (And it is caffeinated, so it'll definitely wake you up on chilly winter mornings!)












 


    You can easily purchase Bigelow Teas and their Constant Comment Tea at your local Walmart store!







     If you prefer to shop online, you can also purchase them by clicking the photo below (it's shoppable!) :







     Be sure to connect with Bigelow this holiday season on their social media, and share with them how you plan to Tea Proudly:


     *Facebook

     *Instagram

     *Twitter



      Thanks so much for reading today's post. Be sure to keep up with me on social media this weekend during my trip, especially on Instagram @miss_alk!




      God Bless,




     xoxo Annaliese

December 7, 2017

My Le Chateau Little Black Dress Story.

      I'm so excited for today's blog post! Not only am I wearing a chic LBD that would be perfect for all sorts of holiday festivities, but it's from a retailer that is especially near and dear to my heart, and I can't wait to introduce you to this brand and store today/ It is always such a special experience on the blog when I do get to partner with a company that I've been a fan of for a long time, and today's post is no exception to that! 


Le Chateau Little Black Dress

LBD Holiday Party Outfit

Glam NYE Party Look

Preppy classy holiday party outfit fashion blogger

Gold sparkly holiday purse

Maple Tree Place Christmas Tree Williston




























Photography by Amanda Rose Photography


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



Dress c/o // Clutch c/o // Earrings {old, similar here} // Heels // Ring // Lipstick c/o //





      This is one of my favorite little black dresses that I've found in a long time! It could be dressed up or down for a variety of occasions. I think it would be perfect worn with tights and more subtle makeup for a formal office Christmas party, but it could also be very much dressed up for a holiday semi-formal event or night out, which is the look that I went for here. It's a very chic and figure-flattering dress, but it does so in a way that's very classy and not at all revealing (always a win-win!). And the long sleeves are an added bonus, especially for cold New England winters! I am headed to a cold destination for New Years' this year, so there is a high chance that this could end up being my NYE dress for 2018. 



     My dress and gold clutch are both from Le Chateau, and today I am excited to share more about my love for this brand with y'all! Le Chateau is a leading Canadian fashion company, founded in 1959 in Montreal. Since I grew up in Maine, I grew up spending long weekend vacations throughout the years in Quebec City and Montreal. I first discovered Le Chateau during a Quebec City vacation many years ago, and I still have some jewelry that I purchased there on that trip! My mom and I were in Montreal the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, and I found my senior year homecoming dress at a Le Chateau store in the city! It was was the cuteset LBD, and one of my favorite dresses that I ever wore to a high school dance. I ended up taking it with me to college, and re-wearing it for a formal during my freshman year, and then a few years later on giving it to a roommate for her to wear for a formal! The dress held up incredibly well, and still looked just as cute as the day my mom and I took it home from Montreal. 


    Today Le Chateau operates over 200 stores throughout Canada, a successful e-commerce website, and a handful of stores internationally. When I learned that my first job in radio would be taking me to Vermont, one thing that I was really excited for was being close to Canada again, and actually a lot closer than I was when I lived in Maine! I've made several Montreal day trips since I moved here, and it's been so much fun to rediscover the fun of shopping at Le Chateau. All of their clothing, accessories and shoes are very fashion forward, chic, and many exude pieces exude business casual elegance. I think of course that Le Chateau's best items are their gorgeous dresses! As you can see from today's photos, I now have a new Le Chateau LBD happily in my closet, and I already can't wait to wear it again.


      The best news for those of y'all who don't live as close to the Canadian border as I do- Le Chateau has a US version of their website! That means that you too can enjoy all of their cute styles from the convenience of ordering online. (The only downside which I will note is that at this time, express shipping isn't an option for US orders. My order came in just over a week!) Definitely check out their website if you're looking for a cute holiday party or formal dress for an upcoming occasion. I've linked some favorites below:






      Thanks so much for reading! Since today is Throwback Thursday, here's a TBT to my old favorite Le Chateau LBD. 😊







       God Bless,




       xoxo Annaliese




      Le Chateau provided gifted items in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Southern Belle in Training!