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December 13, 2018

TRAVEL GUIDE: Winter Weekend in Fredericksburg, VA.

     There is something extra fun about traveling somewhere new during the holiday season. I am so intrigued by different local and regional holiday traditions and customs. This year is my first Christmas season as a Virginian, and I knew I wanted to see how this festive season was in more places than just Charlottesville. 

     I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Fredericksburg, VA a few weekends ago! It was the ideal destination for a holiday weekend getaway, and I'm looking forward to sharing more about that in today's Travel Guide. My friend Caroline came up from Charlotte to accompany me for the weekend, and to help with some of the photography in this blog post! You can probably tell from most of the photos that the weather wasn't the greatest while we were in Fredericksburg. While the cold and rainy temperatures weren't ideal, there are still so many things to do here that it didn't rain on our parade! (Pun intended- as there was a parade while we visited!)

Thank you to Visit Fredericksburg for hosting me for this press trip and providing accommodations and meals. Thank you for supporting the brands and organizations that partner with Southern Belle in Training!


     Fredericksburg is located at the southern part of Northern Virginia (NoVa), lying between Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. It's 45 miles south of DC, and almost 60 miles north of Richmond, making it easily accessible from both of these major metropolitan areas! It took an hour and thirty minutes to get to our hotel from my apartment in Charlottesville. It was a really nice drive through some beautiful rural areas to get there. If you're visiting from most places in Virginia, Maryland, or the Carolinas, it would be easy to drive to Fredericksburg! If you wanted to have a Northern Virginia adventure but were coming from further away, you'd have your choice of the airports in DC or the Richmond airport. (Route 1 runs right through Fredericksburg- I always get a kick out of other places that have Route 1 passing through, as that comprises the Main Street in my hometown.


     Visit Fredericksburg reserved a room for us at the Marriott Courtyard Fredericksburg Historic Downtown hotel. This hotel was the absolute perfect location for all of hour downtown holiday adventures! The hotel is located on Caroline Street, which is the main street in the downtown area. (I also loved how everything was on Caroline Street, since I was accompanied on this trip by my friend Caroline!) We found the hotel to be very clean and comfortable! Our room had two queen beds, and plenty of space. I must add- this hotel had some of the most comfortable beds that I've slept on in awhile!
      The hotel staff was very helpful, and I have to share this funny story from the trip. We brought leftovers back to our hotel room from our dinner at Orofino, and I figured the boxes of food would be too large to fit into the hotel room ice box. I asked one of the people working at the front desk if they could kindly keep our food overnight in a break room fridge. He said yes without any hesitation! As soon as we got back to our room... I realized I must have been blind. There was a mini fridge in our room that I totally missed!! I'm sure the hotel staff member knew this, but he still was able to store our food without hesitation. 😉 Says a lot about the great service that you'll get if you stay at this hotel!


     I already shared a restaurant guide to Fredericksburg on the blog, but if you didn't get a chance to read that yet, here were my three favorite restaurants:

  1. Foode 
  2. Kybecca
  3. Orofino 


   Fredericksburg is a vibrant small city that has a thriving downtown district, as well as many unique historical activities throughout the city itself and its two neighboring counties! Here are the activities that we did during our 48 hour visit:

     *Shop Local: As much as I do love malls, my heart has a soft spot for shopping local. Some of my favorite stores are located in my hometown in Maine, and I adore visiting them each time that I'm home. I also love checking out local stores when I travel, as they're the spots that you can find the most unique souvenirs! Fredericksburg's downtown has a plethora of amazing local shops to visit. Most of them were all decked out for the holidays during the weekend that we were there, so it made shopping an even more fun experience. The four that I recommend stopping by are all conveniently located on Caroline Street:

     Monkee's of Fredericksburg: (Monkee's is a small chain of boutiques across the Southeast! They feature upscale clothing and accessories for women, and carry some of my favorite brands like Tory Burch and Lilly Pulitzer!)

     *Riverby Books: This was one of the most charming used bookstores that I have ever visited! The atmosphere is so inviting and bright- I secretly wanted to move into the store and read forever.

    *Sugar + Spruce: I think this was my favorite store I visited. The decor inside is like an Instagram dream!! (I wanted to take pictures of EVERYTHING.) They sell locally handcrafted soaps and skincare items. My mom loves nice soaps, so I picked her up something from here for Christmas!

     *Antique Court of Shoppes: Visiting this store made me wonder why I don't visit antique stores more frequently! I could've spent our entire weekend just browsing this store. They had so many unique things, and a nice mix of old antique pieces and some newer vintage items from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. They sell everything from furniture to jewelry... I even found a display of vintage perfume bottles! Now I'm determined to find some fun antique stores in Charlottesville.

     *Tour Ferry Farm: George Washington's childhood home is located just about 10 minutes from downtown Fredericksburg! It's right across the river in Stafford County. While his original childhood home isn't still standing anymore, an accurate replica of it was just built within the last few years. The furnishings in the home are all modeled after those from the time period. When we arrived, Caroline and I first did the self-guided tour of the general grounds. We even got to see the garden on the property, which means that if the fable about George Washington and the cherry tree is true, that's where it would have taken place!
    One reason I really enjoyed the self-guided grounds tour at Ferry Farm because your admission includes use of a tour iPad! There are special videos to play at each spot on the property that you visit, and I found it a really unique and fun way to do a self-guided tour. We did have a tour guide lead us through the replica of the Washington home, he was very knowledgable and I learned a lot of new facts about the Washington family!

    Before leaving Ferry Farm, we stopped by a special exhibit inside of the visitor center. Each December, they host a gingerbread house competition! We browsed this year's entries... I have to say they were really good! The concepts behind each were so creative.

     *Visit The Mary Washington House: If you haven't had your fill of George Washington's family after visiting Ferry Farm, you can continue your historical adventures by visiting the Mary Washington House! This located just a few blocks away from downtown Fredericksburg (we were able to walk there easily from our hotel). George Washington purchased this house for his mother in 1772, and she lived there for her remaining 17 years. During the day that we visited there was a living history demonstration happening, so it was fun to see people around in colonial dress!

    *Walk at Government Island: I love going for trail walks- it's such a wonderful way to add a little bit of time in nature to your regular routine. It was suggested on our itinerary to take a walk here, and I really enjoyed visiting. Since I liked discovering the Government Island in the cold, rainy weather, I can only imagine how beautiful it is here in the sunshine! This is located in neighboring Stafford County. Government Island is an 18th century quarry site that is now a 1.5 mile trail and nature preserve. It's perfect for a brisk walk!

    *Enjoy the Fredericksburg Christmas Parade: This is an annual city event, and happened this year on the Saturday evening that we were there. The parade runs straight down Caroline Street and a few side streets. This is a huge event in Fredericksburg! Beginning Saturday morning (!!), we saw people start setting up chairs and benches for parade watching that night.
    Caroline and I had been out and about all day by the time it go to the parade, so instead of watching it outdoors, we opted to watch it from our hotel room, since it was still pretty cold and wet out. That was the first time that I've ever watched a parade from indoors, and it was very cool to do it that way!

    *Other things to do in Fredericksburg:

  • Visit wineries: Fredericksburg area wineries are apart of the Northern Virginia wine region! There are a number of wineries in the area, including Bacchus Winery, Hartwood Winery, and Wildnerness Run Vineyards (which is located very close to the Wildnerness Battlefield site). 
  • Civil War historic sites: Our historical activities for the weekend were focused on George Washington, but if you're a Civil War buff there is lots for you to do around Fredericksburg! We drove by a number of battlefields and historic sites from the Civil War period while exploring the area. 
  • Downtown walking tour: We were able to visit a few of the places on this list, but you could take a full day are walk to your heart's content to see it all! There is so much vibrant history so close to downtown.

     Caroline and I really enjoyed our holiday weekend in Fredericksburg! I wish that the weather had been better for us, but since we were still able to have so much fun it shows that Fredericksburg is truly a rain or shine destination. The architecture of Fredericksburg reminded me a lot of New England, where I'm from! During a lot of points in the weekend, I'd forget that I was in Virginia and think I was in a historic town in Massachusetts. If you're also from up north, I'd be curious if you'd see the similarities like I did! 

     Have you visited Fredericksburg or Northern Virginia before?

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese



December 12, 2018

Midweek Ramblings.

{Here's my apartment complex covered in snow on Sunday night! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

  • snOw-MG: Wow y'all- I was not expecting the insane storm that Central Virginia was hit with on Sunday! There were only snow flurries when I got out of church, so I continued on with the rest of my plans. I went to brunch (for a fun Instagram collaboration with a restaurant!), and then afterwards the snow still didn't seem that bad, so I headed to get groceries. After leaving the grocery store, the roads were treacherous! The snow was falling so fast that it was visibility on the road was almost nothing. It took me almost an hour to get across town to near where I live. When I was just about a mile from home, I lost control of my vehicle and unfortunately had a car accident. Thankfully, I am okay and my car is okay (the other vehicle did have damage, but the other driver was fine too). That night after I got home, I took an evening walk around my apartment complex to see the snow. We ended up getting NINE inches!! NINE!!!! I didn't think there was going to be more than an inch. This experience was a huge lesson for me and I'm going to take snow in the South really seriously from now on.
  • Great neighbors: My accident ordeal on Sunday left me very thankful for the fact that I have the most WONDERFUL neighbors here in Virginia!! My neighbor Leslie and her husband picked me up from where the car accident happened (it was snowing too much for me to keep driving my car the rest of the way home), and my friend Amy's husband kindly gave me a ride back to my car the next morning. When I lived in Vermont last year, I didn't know a single neighbor that lived in my apartment complex. All of my friends and coworkers didn't live very close to where I did. Had I ever had an emergency up there, it could've been hard to get ahold of someone that I knew close by to help! 
  • Grammy's 2019: My favorite awards show of the year is the Grammy's! A few days ago the nominations for the 2019 awards were released. Something that I was excited about was to see Kelsea Ballerini nominated in a country category! On the other hand, I was a little bit surprised that Ariana Grande was left out of the major awards categories for this year's show. Either way- it should be an exciting year for the Grammy's. Have you seen the nominations yet

Weekend Recaps:
  • Last weekend: I had a work event on Saturday, and also caught up with a couple friends that evening. Sunday brought the snow storm craziness and was topped off with my fender bender- ugh!!
  •  This weekend: Another miscellaneous weekend of fun! I'm really excited to be going to see the Dave Matthews Band concert on Friday night. The band was founded here in Charlottesville, so to see them perform in their home city should be amazing! My friend Lindsey kindly invited me to that show. Saturday will be a mix of different plans with friends, and I'm teaching Sunday School on Sunday morning. 

Purchases: No purchases for myself this week, but I'm very on track with Christmas! 90% of my Christmas cards have been mailed, and this week I also mailed gifts to out-of-state friends who I won't be seeing in person this season.

  • These first two things I'm sharing today aren't fashion wishlist items, but two things I'm thinking of buying. As I'm starting to plan out travel for next year I'm realizing that I would really love a pair of noise cancelling headphones! If you have a favorite pair, leave me a comment letting me know!
  • I'm also desperately in need of a good screen cleaner for my laptop! It's gotten awfully dirty and I know I should use a proper cleaner for it. If you have a good brand of tech cleaner or screen wipes to recommend, let me know in the comments of this post. 
  • Pretty sure I NEED this for decorating for Christmas 2019!
  • I saw this chic bodysuit featured in an Instagram try-on haul last week and I can't get it out of my head! So cute for winter nights out. 
  • You can never have too many pairs of stud earrings, and these would be a great stocking stuffer. 

Recipe of the week: Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies from Southern Living. The recipe for these was in the December issue of Southern Living, and I knew I had to try them. They take a little longer to make than a basic sugar cookie, but overall they're still quite easy. And SO good!! 

Song of the week: Bad Boys by Inna. Spotify just gave me my top songs of the year playlist, and this song was my most listened to track of the year. I am a huge fan of Romanian artist Inna, I got to see her in concert in DC this fall which was amazing! 

On the blog this week:

     Lastly, this week is your final chance to enter this amazing giveaway that I'm doing with other bloggers! You get a few entries just for following me on social media. 😊

$1,000 Nordstrom Gift Card Giveaway

To make your holiday shopping a little bit easier, I've teamed up with a group of bloggers to give you
a chance to win a $1,000 Nordstrom Gift Card!
To enter: complete the steps in the rafflecopter below. The more steps you complete,
the more entries you receive, and the better your chance at winning!
This giveaway runs until Monday, December 17th at 12am PST
Winner will be announced here. Good Luck!
*this giveaway is in no way sponsored by Nordstrom.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 


December 10, 2018

Pink + Gray Outfit + Blog Plans for 2019!

     Fun fact: the pictures in today's blog post were taken way back in October! (As you can probably tell from the green grass and green trees behind me.) Fortunately, this dress is an easy one to transition into winter outfits, so I still wanted to share this look with you today. I'm also sharing today about a fun blog series idea that I'll be launching in 2019!

Photography by Kate Greer

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

Dress // Jacket {old, similar here} // Shoes // Necklace {old, similar here} // Purse // Bracelet // Lipstick c/o 

     I think this is the first time that I've ever done an entire outfit of gray and pink, but I'm kind of liking the end result! I think this was a really fun color combo to wear for fall- a bit different than the usual earth tone colors that are popular in fall, but pink and gray still totally works together. I bought this dress at LOFT a couple of months ago and I just love it! There is a subtle leopard print in the fabric, but it isn't overwhelming. This is a perfect versatile fall/winter dress. It's actually what I'll be wearing to my work Christmas party later this week! I'm going to pair it with tights, heels, and a sparkly necklace instead of the pops of pink like I did in this outfit. 

     Switching gears- I wanted to share one of my ideas for blog content for 2019! The start of a new year is a perfect time to try something new when it comes to what's on the blog. All throughout 2019, I'm planning to do a different monthly series one day a week here on the blog. This is inspired by the moving out-of-state blog post series that I did last spring! I had so much fun writing those posts, and over the past few months I've realized there are a lot more topics that I'd like to go in-depth on with y'all. I decided Tuesday will be the day for these posts, and each month the topic will change! The first Tuesday series for January will be sharing a tour of my Virginia apartment- I'll share a different room each Tuesday during that month. I already have series topics picked for February and March as well! I'm excited really excited about this! Since this is my 6th year blogging, it's so important to me that I keep challenging myself as a blogger and finding ideas for content. 

     One last note not related to today's outfit or future blog content- thanks to everyone who checked in on me and sent such kind messages after I shared on Instagram Stories yesterday that I was in a weather related car accident! I will share the full story of what happened in Wednesday's post, but for now I am just so touched by everyone who reached out! I'm thankful I am okay and that there were no injuries- accidents are always scary. No blog post tomorrow as having that happen this weekend shook up my schedule a bit, but I'll talk to y'all Wednesday!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 
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