March 23, 2017

Charlotte NC: 10 Things I'll Miss The Most About Living Here.

    I shared some big news at the beginning of March here on the blog- I'm moving in April to Vermont for a job opportunity! If you had told me six months ago I'd be doing that, I wouldn't have believed you! Up until this winter, I saw myself hopefully staying in Charlotte for at least a few more years. It is a great city, and I always thought that I would have more time there. But sometimes to pursue you dreams, you need to leave the place you love, and that is the case for my radio career right now! And at this point in my life, my career is my number one priority. So as I prepare over the next few weeks to move away from my beloved Queen City, I wanted to share the things that I'll miss the most about this special place! I hope those of you from Charlotte can relate to this list, and those of you not from here might fall in love a little bit just from reading this post- haha! 😉

     1. The location:  Charlotte is such a great location for travel. There's an easily accessible airport with flights to just about anywhere, and a plethora of interstate highways. And distance-wise, Charlotte is in such a convenient place on the East Coast! It's within a few hours of most notable Southern cities, and also still drivable from cities in further places like Orlando or Washington D.C..  It's also just about midway between the mountains and the ocean. I think the only thing that could make Charlotte more perfect is if there was a large water body or river in the city, but luckily beautiful Lake Norman is directly north of the city!

     2. The weather: The Queen City has what I think is the ideal geographic location in the South. It experiences all four seasons, with long summers, short winters, and extended springs and falls. I think few things are more beautiful than springtime in Charlotte, but really, all seasons are lovely here. It doesn't rain very often, and the few times that it does snow in the winter, there are essentially city-wide "snow days."

     3. The skyline: Oh, sweet beautiful skyline. How I love you! Seriously- I can be having the worst day in the world, and then find myself driving down a road that has great skyline views, and after one glance suddenly all seems right again. This will be one of the hardest things for me to leave. From the stunning new Uptown apartment buildings, to the impressive Bank of America building, which is one of the tallest buildings in the South, to the modern Duke Energy tower that lights up a different color every night to represent various causes (And a fun fact: the lights on the building are actually owned by Wells Fargo!).

     5: Forest Hill Church (SouthPark campus): I have been so blessed to attend a great church for the last three and a half years. When I first transferred colleges and moved to Charlotte, I was nervous about finding a church. I attended a great church at my first university and was involved with the college ministry there, and losing that community was hard. But after visiting a few different churches in Charlotte, I found my new church home! I attend Forest Hill Church, which is one of Charlotte's larger mega-churches with a few different locations (I attend SouthPark campus, which is the largest branch). However, what I love the most about Forest Hill is that even though thousands of people attend the various campuses, it manages to have an intimate and close-knit feeling in the services! Senior Pastor David Chadwick is absolutely incredible, and I learn a life lesson and something new about the bible every time I go to church, which is exactly how it should be. I can't say enough good things about Forest Hill, and I will probably still be tuning in for some services online after my move (you can live stream the weekend services from anywhere!).

     6. The urban radio stations: A fun fact about me that y'all might not know is that I listen to quite a bit of rap music, especially when driving in the car. Charlotte has three great urban radio stations, and they're usually what I have on when driving! There's just something about rap music that makes driving seem more fun, especially at times like rush hour! While urban radio is a format that I don't ever see myself working in, I do definitely appreciate it as a listener. Vermont sadly doesn't have any urban radio stations (the Top 40 station I'll be working at on weekdays in the closest thing), and I will miss my beloved 92.7 The Block and Streetz 103.3 back in the Queen City!

     7. Nova's Bakery (South End): I love a good local coffee shop, and while Charlotte has many to choose from, Nova's Bakery's South End location is by far my favorite. Fellow Charlotte blogger Morgan from How 2 Wear It first introduced me to this spot a couple years ago, and it's become one of my very favorite places in the city! I'm more of a tea drinker than a coffee drinker, and Nova's offers two different chai lattes: a spiced chai and a vanilla chai. They're both absolutely divine- seriously, one sip of this drink and my day is instantly better. Nova's Bakery is also where I wrote most of my final Capstone project during senior year of college, so it will always be special to me for that reason. Nova's has a few different locations throughout Charlotte, but I'm loyal to the South End location!

     8. Target Midtown parking deck: This was one of the first spots in the city that I ever ventured to off campus from my university for blog photos, and I've always returned to it time and time again. Outside of my blog, it really is one of my Charlotte happy places! The Uptown views are so beautiful, and you're right above Target so #WinWin! A year or two ago, Target closed off the top level of their deck to cars, but now it's extra peaceful up there since you can only go up by elevator! Definitely a must-visit viewing spot for skyline photos if you're ever in Charlotte.

     9. City Lights Rooftop and the Sheraton/Le Meridien Hotels: I've gotten to do some really fun collaborations and attend many awesome events last year at both the Sheraton and Le Meridien hotels in Uptown. Le Meridien is also home to City Lights Rooftop, which is a rooftop bar with the most amazing panoramic views of Charlotte. In September, I did a fun staycation weekend to celebrate my 22nd birthday at Le Meridien- I would definitely recommend this hotel if you're visiting the area! I will definitely miss getting to attend all of the fun events that they host regularly there.

     10. SouthPark Mall (and the shopping options in general): SouthPark Mall is Charlotte's luxury mall. My university was a mere five minutes away from the mall, and I always joke that it's a miracle that I didn't go into debt living so close to SouthPark for three years! There are lots of high end retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch and David Yurman, but also some more moderately priced stores like Loft and H&M. A few of my SouthPark favorites are Ann Taylor and their Belk- it's one of the flagship Belk department stores, and it carries a lot of high end fashion and cosmetic brands, including Lilly Pulitzer!
And in general, Charlotte is an amazing city to shop in. There isn't a lot of shopping in Uptown Charlotte due to the way the city is zoned out (I actually studied this in a class I took my junior year of college!), but lots of neighborhoods around Charlotte have malls and other great shopping centers. The Charlotte Premium Outlets opened near the airport within the last couple years, and Concord Mills in another fantastic outlet mall just north of the city.

      I could keep this post going all day.... it was hard to limit myself to just 10 things! Charlotte has truly been the most amazing city to go to college and grow into an adult in. I can't say enough good things about the city itself.  The closer that it gets to my move date... the harder it is. But I know that a wonderful job and the beginning of my dream career awaits me in Vermont, and I'm ready to embrace the changes and new adventures ahead!

     In other news, I just got back to Charlotte yesterday from my Italy trip with my mom! What an incredible time we had! I have so much to recap on the blog, but it will take me a little while to go through all of the photos and plan out blog posts. Stay tuned for some new travel content soon!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

March 22, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{Window shopping in Rome! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

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  • Headed home! I'm writing today's post en route from the airport in Venice! 😊 My mom and I have had a most amazing two weeks traveling throughout Italy, and before that we spent a few days in my new city in Vermont doing some apartment hunting. I was also home in Maine for a couple days, so all in all I've been away from Charlotte for almost three weeks! Since I'm moving very soon, I'm definitely ready to get back and begin my last few weeks there. It's bittersweet for sure.
  • Italy on the blog: I have SO much to share with y'all from our trip!! I shot one outfit post in each city that we visited, and am also planning to share a travel guide or recap post from each city. I'm also going to attempt my hand at making short vlogs for Rome and Venice, and lastly I also wanted to share a blog post about what it's like traveling internationally with a tour group! This was the second tour that my mom and I have done (both my parents and I did a tour through a different company to the UK in December 2013), and we are honestly big fans of them. Whew! Is that too many posts? What do you guys think?! 
  • Spotify Top Charts: This is random and some of you probably know this I'm sure, but one thing that I really enjoyed on this trip was something that I recently rediscovered on Spotify! Under their "Charts" section on either the app or your computer version, you can find Top 50 song charts not only for the US, but also for many other countries in the world! I really enjoyed listening to the Italy and France charts while we were here, and some of the Asian and Latin American countries' charts as well. It can be so fun to discover new music, especially while traveling! 
  • Funny Church Video: This video gave me the best laugh this week!! Back story: some of you know that I attended a Christian college during my freshman year. As apart of orientation week festivities, one afternoon's events included a "church fair," where local churches set up booths to advertise to students and try and get them to come to services. It was an interesting concept, but I actually found the church that I attended that year through this fair (and loved going there!). Anyways- this funny video is a parody that takes the concept of finding a church and compares it to HGTV. I got the biggest kick out of it and it reminded me of my freshman year experience!

  • First and foremost- I discovered a new favorite store in Italy!! This brand is absolutely the cutest, and I literally wanted to buy EVERYTHING. The good news: they have stores in tons of countries all over the world, and have four stores in the US! They also ship to the US! 
  • At my new favorite store I picked up so many goodies! My favorite purchases of all was this! It will be a staple piece in my closet for years to come. 
  • They also sold the most beautiful statement earrings. I picked up a couple pairs and these were my absolute favorites! 

  • How cute is this little top for springtime? The ruffle details add such a fun and feminine touch!
  • These adorable shoes were on a Midweek Ramblings post a few weeks ago.... but I'm still totally crushing on them! Does that mean I should pull the trigger and get them? 
  • I'm starting to plan out my apartment decor and furniture for my new place in Vermont which is probably the most exciting part about the move! The not-exciting and realistic part is that new furniture of course is very expensive, and I will be on a very tight budget for the first year of my career. But that isn't stopping me from furniture browsing, and I've fallen in love online with this pretty thing
  • I wrote earlier in this post about my new favorite clothing brand, which I discovered this past week in Italy! While shopping, I tried on the most darling blouse. I didn't end up buying it, but am seriously regretting it now! How cute is it?! 

     My question for y'all: what purchases have you made for spring so far? Thanks so much for reading as always. I can't wait to be back to blogging on my regular schedule now!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

March 20, 2017

Relationship Monday: What I Look For In A Guy.

     Welcome back to the next installment of my Relationship Monday series! If you missed the intro to these posts, 1-2x monthly going forward I'll be sharing blog posts about some topics that are a bit more nitty gritty than my fashion content. It's been on my heart for a long time to write about things related to relationships, so welcome to my Relationship Monday series! This is my chance to write about anything related to dating/singleness/guys, and especially how faith plays into all of this.

      This post was a more fun one to write: "What I Look For In A Guy." Like many other single young women I'm sure, it's taken awhile to find the balance between being proud of having high standards in looking for a dating partner, and also making sure that those standards stay realistic. Definitely a balance indeed! So here are some of the main qualities that I've looked for when going on dates with guys before, or meeting guys back in high school and college:

     1. Christian Faith: I have to be honest right upfront and say that I've both developed feelings for and gone on dates with a few guys in the past who didn't share my faith. My standards about this weren't always as strict as they are right now. While the bible is pretty clear about believers not marrying unbelievers, but I do think that sometimes couples can grow in faith together after relationship has started, or that sometimes God can use one person to bring another to Him. However, the last couple guys that I've had strong feelings for did share my faith, and that honestly has really changed my perspective on this. For me personally, when looking for a guy not only to date, but hopefully to marry and share a life with, I want his faith in God already to be established and a key aspect of his life. It doesn't have to be the exact same as mine... if he attends a different denomination of church or if we believe different things on certain issues, there could be room for compromise. But as long as his relationship in God is steady and evident in his life, that's number one!

      2. Sense of Humor: A close second to Christian faith is that I look for guys with a sense of humor! Humor is one of the greatest gifts in life, and I look for guys who not only make me laugh and smile, but also laugh at my jokes as well. The second one is especially important... I can have a very weird sense of humor, so I preferably don't want to be the only one laughing when I make a bad joke! It truly is such a great feeling though when you meet someone who is just on the same "wavelength" as you humor-wise.

     3. Financially Responsible: This might be something that I wouldn't have looked for in a guy as much when I was younger, but now that I'm at an age to see dating partners as potentially marriage partners, I look for different things. Finding a guy who is financially responsible is so important to me.  This doesn't mean they have to be wealthy by any means, but I would look to date someone who manages their money and debts well, and has a financial plan for the future. Obviously many people in their 20s are struggling a bit out of school, and a lot of people do have student loan debt or car payments. But I want to look for a guy who is similar to me in that he takes pride in having a high credit score, lives within his means, tithes to his church and/or a charity and enjoys a balance of both spending money both for fun and also saving for both emergencies and the future.

      4. A Love of Travel: This one isn't as much of a deal breaker as the top three, but one thing about me is that I do love to travel! Ideally, I would love to spend my life with someone who also had as much wanderlust as I do, and would prefer to budget for travel as opposed to other things. While I think shared travel between a couple is important, I also think girls/guys' friend trips each year should also be prioritized, and would hope to find someone who felt similarly.

     5. Physical Attraction: The lowest item most certainly on my list, but still important. Physical attraction is something that doesn't stand the test of time, and inner character is always more beautiful than how a person looks on the outside. However, you do have to be physically attracted to a guy for sparks to fly! Thinking back on guys that I've liked and dated it's a bit interested- I really don't have a "type" as far as looks go. Hair color, eye color, body type and even height... I've pretty much liked it all! To me the things like personality, faith, humor, and other qualities can make a guy seem more attractive, and are what initially makes me attracted to him. But that physical spark does have to be there too. I've gone on dates with some super nice guys before, but just haven't felt physical chemistry, and that's something that you can't force.

     It is really important to be at a place where you know yourself well enough to be aware of the top things that you're looking for in a dating or marriage partner! These are just the top five that I prioritize, and in the order that I do so. They've definitely taken me awhile to establish, but at this point in my life, I do feel fairly confident in them. Perhaps it would be fun if I surveyed some of my guys friends to write a follow-up to this post from a male's perspective!

     I'd love to know from you ladies (and any guys who might read this) what the things that you're looking for in a significant other are! Share with me in the comments.

     xoxo Annaliese