August 31, 2016

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases.





{Follow me on Instagram + Snapchat @miss_alk!}



Ramblings: 

  • Jane the Virgin Season 2: I mentioned in an MR+RP post a week or two ago that I had recently finished the show Parks and Rec on Netflix, and that I was desperate to find something new to fill my Netflix void. I had watched Jane the Virgin season one last year, and had high hopes for it. I'd heard a lot about the show, and thought it was something that would be right up my alley. Surprisingly, I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. I decided to give season two a try randomly last week though... and MY GOODNESS. This show gets GOOD, y'all! Like I'm staying up hours past my bedtime every night to binge watch- something I never do! I'm hoping to get this season all finished by the time season three premiers this fall. 
  • Fall Bucket List: My month of September is extremely busy (I am either traveling or have blog-related commitments in Charlotte every weekend of the month!), but I am already starting to look forward to the later fall months, which I am hoping is when my schedule might mellow out a little bit! Some things that I am hoping to do this fall include nature walks and hikes, baking fun fall treats, celebrating Halloween weekend with friends, and hopefully a trip to either an apple orchard or one of North Carolina's many wineries. In college I didn't usually have time to enjoy a lot of typical fall activities, so I'm hoping to change that this year. 
  • Podcasting: My class at broadcasting school is beginning podcasts in the next few weeks! I am thinking about teaming up with a friend of mine for our show. We want the episodes to be short, funny, and something that young women (and maybe even young men) our age could relate to. Would you guys be interested in having me share the links to the show episodes here on the blog? Podcasting will be a totally new venture for me so I can't promise that it will be good at first, but we will definitely have fun with it!
  • Blogging and my upcoming travels: I'm headed away for a very fun getaway this weekend! Something that sets this trip apart from many of my previous travels is that it's the first time in a very long time that I will not be doing blog photos/bringing my DSLR with me. I want the weekend to be really focused on fun, exploring and relaxation, and not on only capturing things for the sake of my blog. Don't get me wrong- I absolutely love incorporating my travels into blogging and do look forward to doing so in the future, but I think with the fast pacing of this specific trip, it will work better for me to be in the present. It's definitely weird to think about though, as I've gotten so used to basing things around blogging! (I'll still be posting on social media though during and after my trip so be sure that you're following me!)


Purchases:
  • Pretty sure that I've shared this in a prior post, but I love this so much that I have to share again. My blogger bestie Morgan coordinated for all of us who roomed together at TBSCon a few weeks back to get pairs of these pajamas, and I am absolutely obsessed with them! They're seriously the most comfortable pajamas ever. They'd make a great gift item for any ladies in your life, or for yourself! 
  • I am getting so excited to share with y'all soon the pictures from the birthday/blogiversary photoshoot that I did over this past weekend. They will be shared in two special posts next week. For one outfit, I styled the most beautiful fuchsia midi skirt! I purchased the skirt that I wore at a local boutique in Charlotte, but this is a very similar option.
  • I am testing out a new eyebrow pencil this week. (My favorite eyebrow pencil is this one, but my shade has been sold out at all of the stores near me in recent weeks!) Anyways- this is the new pencil that I found that I am testing out currently. Not sure if I love it yet, I think I need to use it a little bit more first before making a decision. 


     My weekly question: what are your plans for Labor Day Weekend? 




     xoxo Miss ALK

August 29, 2016

My New Kitchen Cleaning Routine...

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



     Let's just cut right to the chase on this Monday, shall we? I have many strengths and strong suits, however anything falling under the category of being neat, organized, or having a desire to clean has never been one of them. For as long as I can remember, I have always hated most chores, and weirdly I am usually the most content when my living space is disheveled! I was the kid who hated making their (small twin sized) bed, and as soon as I would clean off the desk in my room, it would become cluttered and unusable again with piles upon piles of stuff. Of course there are certain things that I do enjoy organizing and am quite nit-picky about. For example, I color code my closet and have detailed systems for organizing different types of jewelry. But as a generality, I tend to be a messier person.


     Being messy while growing up or living in a small dorm room is one thing, but once I moved into my first apartment this past May, I knew that I wanted to try and change my habits. A driving factor in this was by observing my new roommate, Ciera. Ciera and I have been friends since my freshman year at my former college, but it wasn't until we started living together this Spring that I realized how organized she is! Ciera is dedicated to her cleaning schedule, and to making her living space neat and orderly. She has a demanding full-time job, but that doesn't keep her from cleaning our kitchen, living room, and her side of the apartment regularly. Ciera's neatness has been a huge inspiration to me this summer, so I am determined to start being more clean!


     In the first part of the process from changing my messy ways to being organized, I decided to think and evaluate the chores that I already enjoy doing, am so-so about doing, and ones that I absolutely hate doing. When thinking about chores that I sort of enjoy, doing the dishes comes to mind. Growing up at home, helping with the dishes was one of my least favorite chores. But now that I have my own kitchen and cook and bake in it frequently, I have gotten used to doing them and almost look forward to it at the end of my time in the kitchen each day. I always feel like my apartment is cleaner and ready for company if the sink is clean and dish-free.






     As seen above, if I am home and not working on schoolwork, my blog, or sleeping, I can usually be found whipping up something in my kitchen! I absolutely adore cooking and baking, and I try and find at least one new recipe to make each week. (I am spotted here though in my natural element making a tried and true homemade favorite: chocolate chip cookies!)


     When it comes time to clean the kitchen after a cooking adventure, I stick to this cleaning list, to make sure that tidying up goes by as quickly and effortlessly as possible:


    *First, find a good cleaning playlist! You can never go wrong with some 90s music (especially boybands), but my music choices for cleaning do vary based on the time of day or how I'm feeling.


     *Next, when washing the dishes, I always try and tackle smaller items first. I usually start with silverware, then move to glasses, and then go up to larger items like bakeware. The faster that I get done with the small items, the faster that the dish washing process seems to feel!

   
  *Have quality kitchen and dish cleaning products on hand and ready to go. I've recently found Scotch-Brite™sponges and dish cleaning products, and am just thrilled at how much better they work versus other sponge brands or dish towels that I've tried before!




    The blue sponges are Non-Scratch sponges, and are designed for cleaning non-stick cookware. They worked excellently for cleaning the non-stick cookie sheet that you can see pictured above in this post. The green sponges are Heavy Duty, and are a great choice for removing anything that is fiercely stuck on your dish-ware or cookware.  And lastly, Scotch-Brite™also sells a variety of dishwand options for anyone who would prefer to use that over a traditional sponge.






     The dishes pictured here had been sitting in my sink for a few days longer than I usually like (#whoops), so the Heavy Duty sponges came to the rescue to get off any residue stuck to them! 


     *Once the dishes are done, I check to see if my counters, microwave, and stove top need a quick washing. It's best to catch all of these kitchen surfaces when they have just a few crumbs, rather than waiting until there is a huge mess! I like to use the Scotch-Brite™Non-Scratch sponges for these tasks.


     Lastly- did you know that Scotch-Brite™sponges also work well in the bathroom? I also use the Non-Scratch sponges to clean my bath and shower, as they don't damage the tile! 






    Scotch-Brite™ sponges can be found in the Kitchen Cleaning aisle of your local Target, and you can use this great offer to save 10% off a 9-pack of sponges from Target! 






     You can also check out more great cleaning tips here (this was definitely inspiring to me!). 


     How do y'all keep your kitchens and bathrooms clean? 



     xoxo Miss ALK

August 26, 2016

Essential Fall Sweater.













     Growing up, fall was always my least favorite season. Summer is such a short, fleeting time in Maine, and almost as soon as it arrives, it's gone! Fall always came way too quickly to take away sweet summer, so I never used to look forward to it.

   
     Now that I have spent a full summer in the South, my views have changed. I can definitely say that I'm excited for fall this year. I have enjoyed my summer, and I've also tolerated the humidity and high heat down here better than I thought I would. But I'm also definitely starting to get ready for some cooler temperatures and fall activities! 


     Stocking up on certain fall essential pieces before the season starts can be great for your wardrobe. I love buying some solid colored sweaters every year that I know I'll be able to mix and match with different bottoms and accessories, and overall get lots of wear out of. I'm absolutely in love with this Banana Republic cashmere sweater. It is definitely more of an investment piece, but it is so soft and light, while still being warm! What a win-win. I also love any fall or winter style pieces that still incorporate bright color for the cooler months. While some darker toned fall fashion can be chic, wearing dark colors for months on end can start to depress me. This sweater comes in many colors, and I loved this cheery coral color! 



      This is my last weekend in Charlotte before I will be traveling for the next two weekends! I don't have anything too exciting going on... mostly just things that I need to take care of before I'll be out of town. :-) Do any of you have fun weekend plans?


   

 

      xoxo Miss ALK



    Banana Republic provided gifted product in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank-you for supporting the brands that support Southern Belle in Training!

August 25, 2016

Back-to-School Binder Covers Tutorial with HP.

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





     The back-to-school season means that it's time for most students to begin lots of shopping. While basic school supplies like pens and binders usually top high on the list, sometimes items that are a bit more investment-worthy are needed for the school year as well, such as a new laptop computer! These days, it is almost impossible for a middle, high school, or college student to be able to complete their homework without having a computer of their own, as so many assignments are either online or require online research to complete nowadays. In college, I even had to take several online classes throughout my four years, meaning that these classes never even met in a physical classroom!


     Since a laptop can be such a big purchase, I know that a lot of students who might be shopping for one will be looking for one that combines convenience and affordability. Luckily- HP has come to the rescue. Walmart stores are carrying a wide array of HP laptops, all at different price points, which are perfect for different students' needs. 


     I recently had the chance to test out one of the new HP laptops (sold at Walmart). The one that I received was an HP Notebook. It came equipped with the latest Intel processor, a crisp HD screen, and high performance backed by over 200 tests! In getting familiar with my new computer, I decided to use it to help with a small project that I'd been wanting to work on for school! As some of you know, I began attending broadcasting school just over a month ago, which is essentially "graduate school" for people in my chosen career path. The start of school came upon me a little earlier this summer than I was expecting, so I am still in the process of figuring out which school supplies to bring with me each week, and what is best helping me studying and homework needs. One thing that I do need is a big binder to help organize all of my class notes. I was using a plain one, but I wanted to try and make a decorated and personalized binder cover to add a little bit of color and pizzaz to my school supplies!


     There are a lot of tutorials online for how to make your own customized monogrammed binder covers, but I already have either my monogram or the letter A on a lot of things, so I wanted to do something a little bit different and add an encouraging bible verse to my binder cover. 




     The first thing that I did was use Microsoft Edge, the all-new web browser that came pre-installed in my HP laptop, to search with and find a pretty background for my binder cover. (Is anyone really that surprised that I went with a Lilly Pulitzer background?!) 




     Next I launched Microsoft Word, which is the program that I used to make the binder covers. You don't have to have Adobe programs or anything fancy to do something like this!




     I then copied and pasted the Lilly Pulitzer background image into the Word document, and resized it to fit the whole page. Then I went under "Insert" and found a shape that I wanted, and placed that over the picture. Lastly, I added a text box over the shape. The text box had a default white color around it, but I was easily able to deselect having any color around the box, so that the text was transparent over the shape. Lastly, I selected a font and typed what I wanted it to say, which was "Broadcasting School," and an encouraging bible verse! 

     


    I have previously owned an HP printer (which I absolutely LOVE), and it was very easy to link my new laptop to the printer using HP's ePrint service. 




     I am just loving how this binder cover came out! It is so much cuter than the plain binder that I was taking with me to school before. 


     You can find my HP Notebook and a wide selection of other laptop models at your local Walmart! 





    Are you currently in the market for a new computer for back-to-school (or for work if you're beyond your school years)? 



     xoxo Miss ALK



August 24, 2016

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases.




{Follow me on Instagram + Snapchat @miss_alk!}




Ramblings:
  • Surviving my new schedule: I mentioned this briefly in an Instagram post last week, but my schedule has undergone some changes recently! Something that I haven't announced on the blog is that I ended up having a change in my employment for this summer, and didn't end up becoming a full-time nanny as I originally intended to after college. I currently have two part-time jobs (one actual one, and blogging is most definitely the other!), and I just began a paid internship a few weeks ago. Plus I am in broadcasting school, and I go back to babysitting one day a week after Labor Day! Whew! If y'all are interested, I can write a new Life Updates post soon to share more about what exactly I'm up to in my day-to-day life.
  • Birthday trip 2k16: In more exciting news, I will be headed out of town during Labor Day weekend for a very exciting birthday getaway! I decided to splurge and use a bunch of my graduation money on the weekend trip of a lifetime. I've been very on the DL about where I am going, but I will share that my travel companions will be my current roommate, Ciera, and her best friend from high school, Priyanka. The only hint I'll give is that it's a favorite destination of mine that I have visited before. ;-) f you'd like to read about my 21st birthday trip from last year, check out this post
  • New Netflix Recommendations: My favorite show this summer to watch on Netflix was Parks and Rec. I was a bit late in the game to get into it, but I really enjoyed it once I finally watched it! I finished it a couple of weeks ago, and have been searching for a new comedy to get into since. My favorite Netflix shows are 20 minute comedies that I can watch quickly in between busy periods in my day and enjoy for a quick laugh. Any recommendations?


Purchases:
  • As many of you know, the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale happened earlier this week! I'm on a fairly tight budget this year as I am in school again, and I also have some travels coming up in September! I told myself I would only buy something if it was a staple piece that I could also wear in the winter months. (Sadly this ruled out most shift dresses...) Luckily- I was able to find something that fit exactly what I was looking for! I can't wait for this pretty pink thing to arrive. 
  • Those of you who follow me on Snapchat know that I spent all of last week pet-sitting for one of my favorite dogs! A family that I babysat for a lot in college was on vacation, and they invited me to stay at their house and take care of their dog (my answer was a definite YES!). The pup that I took care of is a Boston Terrier, so when I saw these PJ pants while I was in Charleston a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist them.
  • After I moved into my apartment and was organizing my clothing in my new bureau, I decided that I didn't want to keep socks in a bureau drawer, so that I would have more space for other clothing. I wanted to try and find a cute storage box to keep my socks in. I found this one over the weekend and I'm obsessed with it! Not a bad price point either.



     My question for y'all this week: did you shop the After Party Sale? What goodies did you pick up if so?


     Stay tuned for a really fun collaboration post tomorrow! 



     xoxo Miss ALK

August 22, 2016

Lilly Pulitzer Summer After Party Sale!




     Calling all Lilly lovers! The famous After Party Sale begins online at 8 am EST this morning, and ends Tuesday (tomorrow night) at 11:59 EST. Lilly Pulitzer owned retail stores (i.e. not signature stores or department stores that carry Lilly) are also participating in the sale during today and tomorrow, so you can also shop in store if you live near a Lilly retail store.


     I didn't really become aware of the Lilly Pulitzer brand until my senior year of high school (#MaineProbs), but from my freshman year of college on I have been a die-hard Lilly fan! I wore the gorgeous dress that's pictured above for college graduation and senior photos earlier this year. I also really enjoyed shopping the Lilly for Target collection launch back in Spring 2015... yes, I was one of the crazies who woke up at the crack of dawn to wait in line for their local Target to open! (It definitely paid off though- read more in this post.)


       If this is your first time shopping an After Party Sale and you're shopping today (especially first thing in the morning), you might notice the here will be a virtual line and queue. You might be given a waiting number that is in the high thousands, but don't be alarmed if so! Lilly does this process to monitor the traffic that's on their website at one time, and to try to prevent anything from crashing. Just take your number, wait your turn, and then be prepared to shop until you drop as soon as the website opens for you!


     The Lilly Pulitzer website has this special page which is dedicated to detailed After Party Sale FAQ's- this is a great resource for anyone who still wants to learn more!



     I'm linking here some super cute Lilly items that I think will be in the sale! I will continue to update this post through today and tomorrow with new sale items that I come across. I'll also be tweeting some of my favorite sale deals @rainbowflash94.







     Lastly- a little sale disclosure that I usually try to include some form of when I recap any type of sale. :-) Bloggers love to share the news about sales like this one, because it can be a great time to stock up or treat yourself! But for fellow gals on a budget (especially my high school and college readers): it is always important to consider your current financial situation before splurging on a big online sale such as this.  Since I made a large purchase just last month in this year's Nordstrom Sale, I'm only on the hunt for very low-priced items in the After Party Sale. If nothing fits my current budget this time around, that's okay! There will always be the winter sale, and I'll probably be able to splurge more then. So just a reminder that it's fun to shop sales, but if you're on a budget, only buy something if it's within your means and you know you will love it and wear it for months and years to come!



     Happy Shopping fellow Lilly lovers!



     xoxo Miss ALK

August 19, 2016

#TBSCon 2016: My First Trip to Charleston + Blog Conference Experience!

     The professional photos and video from The Blog Societies Conference are finally here, so I am so excited today to be sharing a recap of my weekend in Charleston! I spent August 4-6 attending the fourth annual TBSCon event, and it was both my first time attending this event, and also my first blog conference ever. The experience was absolutely unbelievable, and it's quite honestly still hard for me to put everything into words!



     This year's TBSCon was held in Charleston, SC, at the same beautiful hotel that it was held at last year: the Belmond Charleston Place. My three conference roommates for the weekend were Cara from Caralina Style, Morgan from How 2 Wear It, and Sarah from Stylish, Sassy and Classy, who are three fellow NC bloggers and also three of my dear friends! We explored a variety of lodging options in Charleston before deciding to opt for convenience and stay where the conference was being held at the Belmond. The hotel end up blowing any expectations that we had out of the water- I think that it was one of the nicest hotels that any of us have ever stayed in. 10/10 would recommend! The Belmond Charleston Place is located directly on Market Street and King Street. King Street is where all of the Charleston's shopping is, as well as some of the great restaurants and nightlife, so the hotel's location truly couldn't be better. It's also a short walk away from many of the historical landmarks and other local attractions.


     I haven't even mentioned how incredible the hotel itself was! Our room was incredible, with beautiful views of King Street, and one of the prettiest hotel bathrooms that I've ever seen. There was plenty of room for not only all four of us, but also all of our conference outfits and the merchandise that we received from all of the brands! Here's a few looks at our room:





Beautiful King Street views from our balcony!




I brought my closet rack with us for some of our outfits, but the armoire that came with the room would have been big enough for all of our outfits!



Here are a few photos of the hotel from the official TBSCon photographer:






     Cara and Morgan both had to work on the Thursday that the conference began on, so they took separate cars to Charleston. Sarah and I rode down together in the morning, so that we could have more of a day there! We met up with local blogger Brittany from Collectively Bee for lunch at a great spot called Taco Boy before the conference festivities began. 


     TBS Con opened with a cocktail party in a restaurant at the Belmond on Thursday evening. This was the first time that all of the bloggers and brand reps were together, and it was a great night of meeting new friends, and connecting with old ones! A highlight of the night for me was to meet some ladies in person from the Millennial Blogger Network (which I am a co-founder for), and to be recognized as "Annaliese from Millennial Blogger Network." :D


     {All photos following in this post are from Kim Graham Photography, unless otherwise noted.}





With two of my roommates!




Vera Bradley sponsored the opening night party, and gave us all cute umbrellas (which ended up coming in handy the next morning....)





(I was one of the only ones at the cocktail party drinking beer straight from the bottle, and I had #noshameinmygame)


Opening party outfit details:






      I wore this green dress (which is currently on sale!) for the opening night party. I previously styled it for a blog post that I published back in June, but hadn't had a chance to wear it since. I did a DIY updo with my hair for the party so that it would give give the dress a whole different look than how I had worn it on my blog, and I loved how it turned out!



      Day two of the conference was the longest day of activities. Things kicked off on Friday morning with presentations by the various conference keynote speakers. This portion of the conference was held across the street, in the Riviera Theatre.


     Friday got off to a very rainy start, but luckily we all had our bright umbrellas from Vera Bradley from the previous night's event to keep us dry. My roommates and I began the morning with a quick breakfast and caffeine fill-up at the Starbucks across the street from the hotel, and then headed off to the conference. I enjoyed each and every speaker, and took a lot of notes from each presentation! I definitely learned a lot of new knowledge about the industry, personal branding, and social media on Friday morning.





The Blog Societies (formally The Southern Blog Society) founders, Cathy and Jessica, introducing this year's keynote speakers. 




                 A colorful parade of bloggers holding up traffic as we headed back over to the hotel for lunch!



     I might do another blog post soon detailing who the speakers were that lead the lectures and workshops, and what the most important points were that I learned at TBSCon- would that type of post interest any of you? 


     After the morning of speakers, we all headed to lunch back in the Belmond. My roommates and I enjoyed eating with Boston blogger Katherine of The Style Tab. We then headed to our room for a quick refresh before one of the main events of the conference: the networking suite with all of the brand sponsors! 


     The Blog Societies has many fantastic national and regional brands come to sponsor TBSCon. The networking suite is when each brand gets a chance to set up shop in a large ballroom, and bloggers get the chance to visit all of the brand tables and meet the reps. This is when you pass out your media kits and business cards, and get to sell yourself and pitch directly to the brands! Just about all of the brands also had tons of presents and goodies to give away to all of the bloggers- so it's like a grown up blogger version of trick-or-treating as well. And L'Oreal's booth was doing free hair and makeup sessions for everyone! So basically- it was one of the most fun afternoons of my life.




Vera Bradley gave us these gorgeous tote bags to keep all of our new swag in!



One of my favorite tables was from Swoozies- how cute is this?!




Moon & Lola had an interactive table for bloggers- we each got to build a bracelet or necklace from their popular charm bar! 




So many girls and so many goodies! Can you spot me?




Another peek at the branding suite.




      The branding suite concluded the conference portion of Friday- and I think it was a good thing that this was the end of the day! There had been so much activity that morning and afternoon that it was nice to relax for a couple of hours before dinner. My roommates and I headed out to shoot some blog photos on King Street and other side streets (see my post here!), and then went to dinner with other blogger friends from the conference.


     Saturday morning, the final day of TBSCon, began with breakfast at the Belmond. This morning's delicious meal was sponsored by Kendra Scott. My roommates and I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Sarah and Stephanie from rewardStyle, who were two of the speakers and workshop leaders at the conference! It was lovely to get to know them better, and to learn more from them about social media, blogging, and also what it's like to work for rewardStyle. In addition to working for rS, Stephanie also has an awesome blog, which has since become one of my daily reads since TBSCon!






     The majority of Saturday was spent in workshops.  The Blog Societies sent out a survey earlier in the summer of possible workshop topics, and asked us to pick our top three. I ended up in all three of the workshops that I wanted! Accounting for bloggers, LiketoKnow.it/rewardStyle and Founders (a chance to learn more about the business of blogging directly from the founders of The Blog Societies, Cathy and Jessica). I loved all of my workshops, and took tons of notes in each one! My favorite of all was probably the accounting one- finances/taxes/anything math related isn't my background at all, so it was so great to hear from an accountant that specializes in working with small businesses owners and creatives! I feel so much more prepared already for tax season. I'll definitely be sharing more on this soon.





Candid photo of me very engrossed in the accounting workshop that I attended- haha!


     TBSCon concluded with one last luncheon at the Belmond, which was sponsored by Cosmedix. At this luncheon, all attendees had assigned seating. It was a nice final chance to get to meet some new bloggers before the event ended!


     As soon as the conference ended, my roommates all headed to Rainbow Row for a photoshoot... but I headed to bed for a nice, celebratory nap. ;-)



     Last but not least, a few of the restaurants that I enjoyed eating at during my first trip to Charleston:



  • Taco Boy: A fun and inexpensive Mexican restaurant just a little bit outside of the downtown. Very cute patio area outside! 
  • King Street Grill: We ate here for our last lunch before heading back to North Carolina. It is located very centrally on King Street (a perfect place to stop after a day of shopping), and had some nice cocktails and grilled sandwich options. 
  • Fleet Landing: Our nicest dinner of the trip, and probably my favorite meal! Cara, Sarah and I dined here on Friday night with some of our blogger friends from the conference. I later learned that this is Charleston's only waterfront restaurant- how cool! Delicious cocktails here as well.



     I hope that y'all enjoyed this recap post of my first blog conference experience! I do hope to do another post soon with some more details about what I learned from the keynote speakers and workshops that I attended.



     I'm already looking forward to next year's event! TBSCon was 100% worth the investment to go- I feel like I grew from this experience in my businesses knowledge, made lots of knew friendships, got to see a beautiful new city, and I also grew on a personal level. Now that's a win-win! 



     xoxo Miss ALK

August 17, 2016

Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School.

     Today's post is sponsored by Groupon Coupons. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank-you for supporting the brands that support Southern Belle in Training. #ad #GrouponCoupons







     With back to school season beginning, it can be that time of the year when summer employment income ends for most students as they prepare to head back to the classroom. This also means that it's back to budgets and money management. It can be very easy to lose track of your money quickly when you're in high school or college. I always tried to practice smart savings and tithing practices in addition to spending, but seeing so many peers around me that had terrible money habits would always make me scared to not fall into some of their destructive patterns.


     Even if you're out of high school and college (like I am now! #old), coming out of the summer season can still be a great time to revaluate some spending habits and figure out little ways to cut your weekly or monthly spending, while still living comfortably and treating yourself from time to time!



*Using these special birthday month discounts for designer jewelry purchases: I wrote a blog post all about this last year, and it's my most trafficked post from 2015! Check it out here for all of the details about this great bargain hack.


*Sell your clothes: Most of us have a lot of unwanted clutter in our closets, and a lot of it is items that we don't even wear anymore! Take your unused clothes to local consignment shops to try and earn some extra cash! You'll feel great to have more space in your room and closet, and someone will love your unwanted clothes more than you did. And the best part is that you can make some extra cash by doing this! I have a preferred local consignment shop that I sell to regularly, and whatever they don't accept I try and take to my local Plato's Closet.


*Sign up for Uber and Lyft emails: I'm all about unsubscribing to most emails, especially anything from retail stores. I hate having a cluttered inbox, and I find that most emails containing coupons either encourage me to spend money that I don't need to spend, or I forget to use the coupons when I actually need them! However- Uber and Lyft emails are an except to this rule. Since I live in a large metropolitan area, Uber and Lyft are services that I use quite often on weekends. Their emails can provide everything from free rides and discount codes to important city or event updates. Who doesn't want a free Uber on the house from Uber from time to time?! This one is especially practical for everyone in college reading!


*Order tea instead of your favorite Frappucino: It's no secret that weekly drink costs at Starbucks or your local coffee shop can quickly add up! If making your hot beverage at home just won't do for you, try ordering tea next time that you're at a coffee shop! It's much cheaper than most fancy coffee drinks, and lower in calories and sugar as well! I am a huge tea drinker, and I find that black tea has a similar caffeine affect on me as coffee drinks.


*Turn off cell phone data: No one likes to pay overage fees on cell phone data! It is so easy to hit the cellular data off switch on your phone, and to just run on wifi when it is available. You'll still have access to all of your favorite apps, and won't run the risk of paying data overage fees!


*Use Groupon CouponsWhenever you're online shopping, be sure to check out Groupon Coupons to assist you in finding the best deals and steals! Did you know that Groupon Coupons has money-saving coupons for everything from retailers like J. Crew Factory and Macy's to travel companies like Hotwire and Hotels.com? I always thought that Groupon was just for buying discounted certificates for local restaurants and businesses... I had no idea that they had such an expansive coupon section of their website! If you're going to be shopping online- why not do so while saving money?



     How are you saving money during the back-to-school season?



     xoxo Miss ALK

August 16, 2016

Pom-Pom Beach Cover-Up + Blogger Pool Party.









Cover-up c/o // Bathing suit top {on super sale} // {Sunglasses old} // Hat // Necklace {long} c/o // {Necklace (short) old} // Bracelets c/o // Nail Polish 



     Fall fashion might already be making its debut in stores and fashion magazines, but that doesn't mean that summer temperatures are gone yet! Continued weeks of hot temperatures and high humidity here in the South have me craving beach days. Unfortunately, my current schedule is based around broadcasting school, blogging, my second part-time job, and a new internship, so I haven't had much time to spare on weekdays for anything beach related. (More importantly, nor is there even any ocean within day-trip distance from Charlotte!) However, I like carving out some pool time on weekends to satisfy my sunshine and water cravings. 


     This adorable pom-pom swimsuit cover-up is perfect for end-of-summer beach days, or any warm weather fall vacations that you might have coming up! The back with the pom-pom detailing is so unexpected and fun. The best part of all is that it's under $20- a deal that absolutely can't be beat! 


     The pink crystal necklace that I am wearing is from the Etsy shop Lacey's Layers! You can shop Lacey's Etsy shop with code BLOGGER to save 15% off any of her jewelry. :-) 


     I wore this pool outfit this past weekend, when the InfluenceHer Blogger Network's Charlotte area group held our biggest summer meet-up! I am the regional chair for the IHC in this region of NC, so I get to have the fun task of planning our meet-ups. We've already had some very fun ones this year, including meeting for brunch, a girls' day of outlet shopping, and exploring a botanical garden, but for this meet-up I wanted to try something different and partner with a venue! None other than my favorite destination for Charlotte summer fun, Craft City Social pool and day club (located in the Sheraton Hotel in Uptown Charlotte) was happy to partner with us, and they helped me plan out the perfect day of poolside fun for some of my favorite local blogging besties! 










     
     Craft City Social treated us to an afternoon in one of their comfortable poolside cabanas, and also provided delicious food and drinks! Their menu features a large variety beer, wine and cocktail selections, as well as a Latin-inspired small-plates and entrees menu. Dana and Chloe decided to try the Cuban sandwiches for lunch, and I ordered early enough to still select from the weekend brunch menu. I went ended up enjoying the blue corn pancakes which did not disappoint! We all decided on two beverages from the pitchers menu: the lavender mint mojito and the white peach, grapefruit and basil sangria. I honestly don't know which drink I liked more- they were both outstanding! 





    Our afternoon was filled with sunbathing, pool time, and of course an equal mixture of girl talk and blog talk. In attendance at this month's meet-up were Amy of Pastel n Pink, Cara of Caralina Style Chloe of A Queen City Girl and someone who was visiting me in Charlotte for the weekend- my Tennessee blog bestie Dana from Seersucker Sass







     Thank-you to Craft City Social for having us this weekend, and for helping to satisfy my beach and sunshine cravings right here in the middle of North Carolina! 




     xoxo Miss ALK




     Make Me Chic and Craft City Social provided gifted product/experiences for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank-you for supporting the brands and businesses that support Southern Belle in Training!