December 14, 2017

What To Wear To Visit A Horse Farm.

      I didn't know before my recent trip to the Blue Grass State that Lexington, KY and its surrounding suburbs are considered the Horse Capital of the World! A lot of the trip was time spent either visiting horses or learning about the horse and racing industry. I can't wait to share more about those specific excursions in tomorrow's post, but today I wanted to share an outfit with y'all that I wore to visit a horse farm outside of Georgetown, Kentucky! I can't say that I have the opportunity to dress for horse farm visits too often here in Burlington, Vermont, so I thought this was a real fun treat to plan an outfit for! 😊


What to Wear to Visit Horse Farm

Styling a Leopard Print Poncho

Favorite Black Sweater



Photography by Hannah Sither 


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







      I decided to use a little bit of Western inspiration for one of my outfits for horse-related activities during my Kentucky trip! Cowboy boots and this neutral colored poncho were what I based this outfit around. I've had this pair of cowboy boots for years now (since high school I think?), but the past couple years I've rarely had a chance to wear them. A visit to a horse farm and equestrian park seemed like the ideal setting to break them out again! This poncho was a favorite find from this summer's Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and the best news is that it's still in stock, and currently on sale for more than it was during the NSale!! It's under $25 right now- perfect time to grab one for yourself! It's so warm and cozy.


      Since my poncho has both black and brown in the design, I didn't mind pairing brown boots with a black sweater! This sweater is from Canadian fashion retailer Le Chateau- a name that you might recognize from this blog post last week! This sweater kept me warm during some chilly Kentucky weather during the trip! I love the bell sleeve detail on the sweater, I think the sleeves looked so fun paired with my poncho. The sweater comes in two additional colors, all of which are available on Le Chateau's website!



      You might see a few white flakes on my head and clothing in these photos- that is SNOW!! We got to experience the rare occurrence of Southern snow while in Kentucky, and it sure was magical. There's just something special about snow falling in Southern states. It did make our visits to the horse farm and equestrian museum a bit on the chilly side (which I'll talk more about in tomorrow's post!), but photos-wise it sure was lovely to look at.



      I'm keeping today's post short and sweet, but stay tuned tomorrow to hear more about Kentucky's horses and one of my favorite excursions from the trip. Meanwhile here in Vermont, it has been a cold and snowy week! Definitely a good week to get back to work and catch up on things at home.








      God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese

December 13, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.






{A sneak peak of my trip this weekend to Kentucky! I can't wait to share more very soon! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}


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



Ramblings:
  • First blog trip! You may have seen on social media this weekend that my friend Kylie from Dress in Sparkles and I went on a press trip to Georgetown, Kentucky this weekend! This was my first press trip on behalf of my blog, and it was so much fun. I certainly hope to integrate travel blogging into my content even more in 2018 and years to come, and this trip was a great way to begin that! I am looking so forward to sharing more about the trip and the charming town of Georgetown with y'all soon- starting tomorrow and Friday! 
  • Happy stomach: This weekend I got to eat at some of my favorite chain restaurants while traveling: The Cheesecake Factory, Waffle House, and twice at Chick Fil A! The fact that most of my favorite chains aren't in Vermont makes me appreciate it so much more when I am traveling now. It's funny- I'm not a big fan of all types of chain restaurants, but I definitely have my few that I am loyal to (ESPECIALLY The Cheesecake Factory, lol!). 
  • Thinking to 2018: Some years I get more into New Years' Resolutions than other years. I am already feeling very hyped about them for 2018 though! This year I have several that I want to tackle- some big goals and some small goals. I'll definitely share what mine are closer to the New Year, but for right now I challenge you to start thinking about your goals and visions for the year ahead, and how you can make those a reality in your life through resolutions!


Purchases:
  • I got the chance to shop in-store at one of my favorite retailers in Kentucky! I bought this gorgeous decor piece- I just can't decide if I want to put it in my bedroom or blog office area. I love the saying on it though- one of my favorite quotes!
  • From the same retailer I also got my first chenille sweater! I've been seeing this trend pop up a lot, and have wanted one of these cozy sweaters for winter in Vermont. The one I purchased isn't available online, but an identical sweater from another favorite retailer of mine is! 
  • Kylie and I also did a bit of local shopping while on our trip in downtown Georgetown. We found the cutest boutique called em+me. I got a really cute Kentucky sweatshirt from there that I already wore to work yesterday!


Wishlist:
  • This is such a fun take on a bar necklace and would look so cute alone or layered! 
  • I want to treat myself to some Ulta goodies with Christmas money this year. I haven't splurged on a new eyeshadow palette in awhile, and while starting to look at some online I have been thinking that this one is just too gorgeous
  • I wanted to make a big shoe purchase as my splurge item this year for Black Friday. I was torn between Hunter Boots, or these. I ended up going with the Hunters since I thought they were more practical for the upcoming season in Vermont, but my heart still has eyes for these sandals (and they're also on sale)!! 
  • I have a subtle pineapple theme as decor in my apartment. I love them in home decor because they're the Southern symbol for hospitality! How cute are these coasters with pineapple accents on them? And they're under $15!! I think they'd make such a nice housewarming present or holiday gift.


Recipe of the week:
  • This was a rare week that I didn't do any cooking! Traveling accounted for most of that, and before I left for the trip I tried to finish up all of the leftovers in my fridge! Here's an oldie but goodie recipe favorite of mine that I'll leave you with instead. I've been craving homemade muffins since I've come back from Kentucky, and this is a really good muffin recipe that I might have to make again soon! 


Song of the week: 
  • Last Christmas by Wham!. I've shared before on the blog that I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas music (which is still true!). I can  count on one hand the number of Christmas songs that I really like. Well, Last Christmas by Wham! is one of those songs. It's so 80s sounding and I have some really fun memories associated with the song from years past. Anyways, in Kentucky this weekend Kylie and I listened to a bunch of Christmas music since it was a holiday blogging trip, and I always smiled when this song came on the radio since it is a favorite! 


On the blog this week:


      Thanks so much for reading! Hope you had a great start to your week and are enjoying the holiday season.



      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese 

December 12, 2017

Southern Belle in Vermont: 8 Months Post-Move Update.

      I feel like I have so much and yet also so little to say since my last post-move update in October! Oh goodness, what a two months it has been. Let's dive right in! In case you haven't read one of my post-move updates before, every two months (since I moved to Vermont in April) I share a detailed life update about how things have been going since the move- I dive into all the things I wouldn't talk about in regular blog posts!






October-December 2017 - Months 6-8 in Burlington, VT



     SUMMARY: I'm a firm believer in the quote "time heals all." Truly I am, and I've seen the evidence of that in other aspects of my life. Many people also told me in the early days here in Vermont to "give Vermont time." Well- I have to be honest. I'm starting to wonder if maybe my experience here is an exception to one of my favorite quotes! In 100% honesty (as I always am with y'all on the blog), it really seems like the longer I'm here, the more difficult things get. 😥 My homesickness for Charlotte (and even Maine to a slight degree?) has intensified over these two months to levels that I didn't even know were possible. I really hope that isn't going to get worse this winter? The weather has also gotten very cold here, to be expected, and we've already had our first snow. I am not a cold weather person, and while I'm doing my best to have a good attitude about it and embrace it.... I think the weather has been bumming me out as well. It has really not been an easy two months for me.
      With all of that said, there is still much to be grateful for in my life. Every day, I choose gratitude for the things I do have instead of being sad over the the aspects of my life right now that I wish I could change. Joy and a grateful heart always win! 



       HOME: Okay- I do have something super fun to report here since my last post-move update. Decorating my apartment for CHRISTMAS has happened!!!! So much fun. In true Annaliese fashion, my tree went up on November 1st! Last week on the blog I shared a Christmas home tour of my apartment, you can check it out here
      Other than decorating for Christmas, not too much to report on in the home category. I really wanted to host a Christmas party at my apartment this year like I did last year in Charlotte, but sadly my holiday travel schedule and my crazy work schedule didn't match up well with the schedules of my few friends here, so that's a no-go. I really do want to start having more people over more regularly to my apartment- hopefully winter 2018 will be the time for that! Cookie baking and movie nights sound like a good time to me. 



      WORK: Also not much to report with work! Star 92.9, the adult contemporary station that I work for on the weekends, has made the switch to 24/7 Christmas music. I don't personally like Christmas music, but it's fun to see all my coworkers and many people in the Burlington community so excited about the radio station doing this! Vermonters sure do love their Christmas music. 
      Last week, I was able to use PTO for the first time since starting my job in April, and that was huge. Working 6-day weeks for eight months with no vacation.... you can say I was VERY overdue for one! Also for the first time, I finally got to use an out of office email response, so that was kind of an exciting adult moment! Haha. 



     FAITH: This fall, I had the chance to start attending some social events with a College and Career ministry of a nearby church (not the church that I attend). This church is larger than mine and has a much larger young adult population, so it's been really cool to meet more young people of faith in Vermont- which really are few and far between! I haven't been able to make it to any of their bible study nights yet, but I'm hoping to start going in 2018. 
      I've also still been doing some volunteer opportunities at my church with the hospitality ministry, which has been fun! That is really the area of church volunteering that I've connected with the most (things like being a greeter Sunday mornings and preparing the refreshments and food for after services). 
      Personal-faith wise, I've recently rediscovered the awesome devotional reading plans on the Bible app on iPhone. This app, in addition to providing tons of translations of the Bible in full, also has tons of free daily devotional reading plans about every subject imaginable! The one that I just finished last was about relationships, and I'm already looking forward to starting a new one. 



      SOCIAL: A pro and a con to report in this category of life in Vermont for these past two months! Pro: I am finally developing a small social life. FINALLY! It really took a solid six months to start to form. (A long, lonely six months...) These past two months have provided opportunity to meet a few new friends, both through the other nearby church that I've been attending events at, and also through some other avenues (including a new friend from Instagram!). I've also been able to strengthen the friendships that I made earlier in my time in Vermont over this late fall season. I finally feel like I'm starting to have a couple real friendships here, and not just acquaintances. It's an amazing feeling, and one that I waited so long for. 
       The con with all of this.... for some reason finally starting to have a social life in Vermont has brought on SO much homesickness for me. I think it's because having more friends and things to do here makes me feel a little more "settled" in Vermont, and it scares me, since I still have so many strong ties out of state. And I will be the first to admit that I play the comparison game a lot, too. A social life in Vermont will never compare to what I had in Charlotte (for many reasons), but that always frustrates me and I let it. It has become an occurrence several times a week to cry at home at night because I miss Charlotte (and sometimes Maine, too), something that honestly I hadn't done since maybe the first few weeks up here! But around late October-early November the homesickness came back FULL FORCE and hasn't left. I think part of it might be due to the fact that I have been dealing with a couple tough situations over these past couple months (which I won't be sharing about in this blog post)- and dealing with this makes me miss the support systems that I had in Charlotte and Maine. I am starting to make good friends here but it's all still very new friendships. The crying isn't just for people that I miss... the other night I literally cried because I live hours away from the nearest Cheesecake Factory location and I missed the Charlotte one. I'm hoping that having a few long weekends out of Vermont this month with time off will be really good for me, and that I'll come back to work and life up here in 2018 with a renewed spirit. Once I figure out how to deal with this homesickness thing- I'm happy to share in a blog post! (Just gotta figure it out first, lol!)



      DATING: #NOPE. Call me closed-minded, but I have come to the conclusion after much observation of guys my age in this area (and a couple failed attempts at trying to date up here right after I moved) that I'm never going to meet a guy that I'd be interested in seriously dating in Vermont. It's just not going to happen up here! Too small of an area, the culture is too different, Christian guys are in the super minority here, and most importantly, I don't want to be in Vermont long-term, and just about all guys my age I've met do, which would be a big problem. Really hoping that wherever and whenever I move for my next job, it's a city that provides better dating prospects, but for now I'm actually quite content as a single lady here in Vermont! I know the dating options up here.... and trust me I want nothing to do with them, lol!



       ACTIVITIES: Thinking back- I feel like I actually haven't done too much fun or out of the ordinary over the past couple of months, but I suppose that is kind of nice in a way. I've always thrived best when I live life on a regular routine, and I guess these were the months that I finally adjusted to my new later work hours! I've mostly just been working (both at my day job, and on the blog!). I've gotten back into the happen of going to the gym a few times a week to workout recently (I've been shooting for three workouts a week, and I'm trying to start running on the treadmill again). At home, I've still been trying new recipes and keeping up with my favorite TV shows. And watching lots of Hallmark Christmas movies too! I did deal with some unexpected car issues in November which wasn't fun, and an expense that I wasn't counting on, but hey, that's adulting right? My friend Shara from Maine also visited Vermont last month! Unfortunately it was during the same weekend that I had car issues, but it was still great to see her. I really do love having company in the area and getting to show people around! I am hoping to try my hand at some winter activities once snow arrives in Vermont, and keep visiting new places around the state. 




      5 NEW VERMONT THINGS I DID: 
  • Celebrated my most low-key (in-store) Black Friday ever in the history of the 10 years that I've been doing Black Friday shopping... at the University Mall and Maple Tree Place shops. 
  • Went to see a movie in the theater alone for the first time in a few years - something I want to start doing more often.
  • Dressed up for work on Halloween.
  • Went on a late fall hike unintentionally during hunting season... and survived!  
  • Tried a new restaurant in Burlington that I knew nothing about... and it ended up becoming one of my new favorite places for a nice dinner! 



       Thanks so much as always for reading! If you have any tips for battling adult homesickness- please send my way! Tomorrow I am so excited to begin recapping last weekend's holiday girls' trip to Georgetown, KY with Kylie from Dress in Sparkles, so stay tuned for that.




      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese 

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!







December 6, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.



{My new mantra heading into 2018! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}


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




Ramblings:
  • Mantras + keeping the faith: The picture at the top of this post is my new mantra as 2017 ends and 2018 begins! After a very rough week, I had a wonderful conversation with my blogger bestie Dana from Seersucker Sass, and she encouraged me to find a personal mantra. Something that I can repeat to myself on tough days, and a personal goal of sorts to be working towards. Dana sent me some wonderful ones, but the same night as our conversation I saw the above picture on Facebook. "2016 was a year of purging, 2017, restructuring, 2018 shall be the actualization." Can I get an amen?! Y'all don't even know how true this is for me! I seriously want to print this out and keep it everywhere haha. If you don't have a mantra as this year wraps up and the new one begins, look for one that's special to your heart! These words have already motivated me so much since I found them. 
  • Barnes & Noble: I have rediscovered one of my favorite workspaces!! I didn't live too far away from the B&N in South Charlotte last year, and although I would go there to do blog work occasionally, it was never my top workspace (probably since Charlotte had so many amazing coffee shops!). Vermont does have a Barnes & Noble, but for some reason it's the type of place that I always forget is there and never think to go to. This past Sunday night, I got myself out of my apartment for once and headed down there to get a bunch of blog work done. Oh my gosh- I forgot how much I love these stores! Massive bookstores are truly magical places, and their cafe was such a great place to be productive on a Sunday evening. I even had the table next to the fireplace- best seat in the house! I see many more trips here in my future during the cold winter season. Do you have a favorite public place to get blogging or other types of work done?


Purchases:
  • I snatched up this sweater as a last-minute buy for my holiday travels, and I'm so glad I did! It's way softer and cozier than I expected it to be, which is always the best type of surprise! And I love the color.


Wishlist:
  • This top comes in two gorgeous jewel toned colors and is such a bargain for night out in the winter! 
  • Since all my besties live out-of-state, I just adore the idea of this customized necklace as a super thoughtful Christmas gift idea! 
  • Since I've been actually following through with going to the gym more, I could use another pair of workout sneakers! How cute are these sneakers? I can't get over the color!
  • You know you're getting old when you want home things for Christmas instead of just things for yourself like clothing and accessories! This HAS to be the prettiest cheese board that I have ever seen, and with my love of cheese... oh I would put this to good use. 


Recipe of the week: 
  • Melting Moments Cookies from GiveRecipe! I am a pretty big sugar cookie enthusiast and in the many years that I've been baking, I've attempt many a sugar cookie recipe. I have NEVER baked sugar cookies that have tasted or had a texture as incredible as these!!! Oh my word. This recipe has officially become a staple in my kitchen, and I'm already dying to make them again. 


Song of the week:
  • Motorsport by Migos ft. Cardi B. and Nicki Minaj. (No link time because I couldn't find a radio edit of the song on Youtube- but I think there is a clean version on Spotify. I don't feel comfortable linking something with those original lyrics on my blog. 😉) Something that surprises a lot of people when they get to know me is I actually love a lot of rap music. I especially love listening to it when I'm driving. Charlotte had three different urban radio stations and those were my main presets- it was the best! Anyways, I loved Migos last year with their breakout hit Bad and Boujee, and now they've come out with another catchy song, Motorsport. Seriously, so catchy, and I love the additions of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. The main station that I work for is the only one in the Burlington area playing the song so far! I always dance a bit in my chair in the studio when it comes on- haha. I highly recommend listening to the radio edit due to the original language, but to each their own! 



      Thanks so much for reading! Here's to hoping the the rest of the week goes by smoothly and quickly! 




      God Bless,



       xoxo Annaliese

December 5, 2017

What the Heck is LikeToKnow.It + How To Use It.

     A few weeks ago on my Instagram Stories, I decided to run a couple of polls. (Who else is loving the new polls feature?!) I wanted to get some feedback from y'all about things that you like to see on my blog and Instagram stories, what's helpful content in relation to holiday shopping, and more. Something that became surprisingly very evident from running the polls is that a lot of y'all who aren't bloggers yourselves are super unfamilar with what LiketoKnow.it (LTK) is, and also how to use it! This is the way that myself (and hundreds of other) bloggers make our Instagram content shoppable for you to get information on and access right from your smartphone, so I want to make sure that everyone who follows me is able to easily understand what this is, how it helps you connect with your favorite bloggers, and how it can make your shopping experience easier! There are a few different ways that you can use LTK, and it can get confusing if you're new to using it, so I wanted to break it all down in today's blog post. If you still have a question about LTK that wasn't answered, please feel free to email me!!


What is LiketoKnow.It + How Can I Use It?
Add caption




The Basics: 

     
      *Who made LiketoKnow.it? LiketoKnow.it is a technology that was developed by rewardStyle, which is the premiere affiliate linking platform for bloggers. To share a bit of insight into what LTK's parent company, rewardStyle, is first, rS is an invitation-only affiliate program for fashion bloggers, and allows bloggers to monetize their blogs and social media by linking the items that they're wearing or talking about. LTK is the social media, specifically Instagram, component of rewardStyle! I tried for a very long time to get my blog accepted to rS (it can be very hard to get in as a new blogger or someone with a smaller following), and after 2+ years of trying, I was finally accepted in February 2016, which meant that I had access as a publisher to both rS for my blog, and LTK on Instagram.


     *What is LiketoKnow.it? LiketoKnow.It is a free service from rewardStyle that allows bloggers to monetize their Instagram feeds, making it super easy for followers to obtain not only details about what they're wearing, but direct links to the exact items from the retailer! Sure- it might seem convenient when a blogger tags a brand in the photo. But if you love the dress that she is wearing in the picture, wouldn't you rather have an easy way to know in just a couple minutes exactly how to find that dress from the brand, and buy it for yourself? That's exactly what LTK does! 


      *Is it free to use? 100% free to use! You can make a free account with LTK here. 



The Three Ways to Shop Your Favorite Bloggers' Instagram Photos With LTK:


     After you've made your LTK account and signed up, there are three ways to shop and get product details about a blogger's outfit that you like through this service! I personally only use one of these ways with my Instagram feed. (Yes- as a blogger I still use LTK occasionally when I see something I like on another blogger!) That just goes to show that you can pick and choose which methods of using LTK work for you and your preferences!


     *The emails: This is the original LTK technology, which has been around since LTK launched a few years ago. After making an account with LTK, if you like any of my outfit photos on Instagram which say something like this in the caption "http://liketk.it/2tFSY #liketkit @liketoknow.it" (or any other blogger's photo on their account with a similar link in the photo caption!), you will then receive an email in just a few minutes to the address that you signed up on, which has the details of everything that the blogger is wearing in the picture that you liked! Or if it's not an outfit photo, the email will have the accessory or home decor details! And then you can shop whatever it is right from the email. 
      If you're not into getting email every time that you like a blogger's photo on Instagram (in which I totally feel you- I already get way too many emails each day so I'm not into it either!), you can update your settings on the desktop version of LTK and change your email preferences to weekly! Then you'll receive just one email a week with a big round-up of every blogger's photo that you've liked that week, and all of the details of the products for shopping. 



     *Shop your screenshots: If getting extra emails just isn't your thing at all, no worries! You can unsubscribe from LTK completely, and still use their amazing technology to shop your Instagram feed! This is actually the way that I use it. You take a screenshot of any Instagram photo from a blogger that has something like this in the caption "http://liketk.it/2tFSY #liketkit @liketoknow.it", and then upload the screenshot into the free LiketoKnow.it app, available for Iphone and now Android as well from both app stores! Then in the app you can also see the product details from the photo, and shop directly through there! How easy is that?! Again, this is the way that I prefer to use LiketoKnow.it. 


     *The LTK app feed: The latest way to shop from your favorite bloggers using LiketoKnow.it comes directly from their app! In addition to using screenshots of Instagram photos to shop in the app, you can also search for your favorite bloggers directly in the app, and search popular hashtags to see the top bloggers that come up. This can help you discover new bloggers and products. The LTK app is really awesome, I definitely recommend downloading it!



      I hope this post helped you to understand LiketoKnow.it a little bit better, especially in time as the holiday shopping season is still going on! Again- please feel free to reach out to me with any questions if you still have them.



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese 


December 4, 2017

Christmas Home Tour: My Girly + Sparkly Christmas Decor!


  

     I am a woman of contradictions, and I am okay with admitting that. I strongly dislike (dare I use the h-word... hate?) about 95% of Christmas music. I do enjoy The Carpenters Christmas Portrait album in moderation about a week before Christmas... and that's about it. Yet whatever distaste I have for the music side of Christmas, I absolutely overcompensate for in my obsession with CHRISTMAS DECORATING!! In today's blog post, I'm giving you the Christmas decor tour of my Vermont Bachelorette Pad! 

















Photography by Amanda Rose Photography


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





Christmas Decor from Hobby Lobby, At Home and Dollar Tree. {Ornaments on small tree handmade.}




      The Christmas season last year was such fun time for me, as it was my first time buying large amounts of Christmas decor, and getting to decorate my own apartment! (I lived in dorms all four years of college, so my Christmas decorating during those years was limited to the tiny silver tree that you can see pictured in one of the photos above!) Just like with determining your personal style with fashion, there are many routes that you can take with determining your Christmas decorating style. You can go traditional, neutral, sparkly, bold, multi-colored, modern, classic, rustic, etc etc!! Or combine a few of those things into your own fun style. Where I'm a super girly girl, but my fashion sense is a mix of modern and classic, I wanted my Christmas decorating style to reflect this. I also wanted to go all out and have everything be over-the-top glam and feminine, because in the years where I'm living alone, I totally can do that! 


     My biggest inspiration for decorating my tree last year came from this post from Emily from The Sweetest Thing. #treegoals I could not get enough of her tree from 2015, and wanted to do my best to re-create something like that, but with my own colors and flair. Here is my Christmas tree and decorating blog post from 2016! As you can see for comparison, I kept my fake tree and all of the ornaments and everything when I moved to Vermont. This year I just added more of everything, since I had a whole apartment to myself to decorate! That meant more ribbon and ornaments on the tree itself, and more fun decorations throughout the apartment. I can't wait to keep adding more and more decorations to my collection as the years continue to pass! Fun story about my Christmas tree: it was given to me by my Charlotte blog photographer, Deeana, after she and her husband moved across the city to a new home last year! 



     My dad spent a weekend with me in early November of this year, and we took a day trip over to Upstate New York (across Lake Champlain) to visit the nearest Hobby Lobby, and I bought a bunch more ornaments and ribbon for the tree, and other Christmas decorations for my apartment. I am so happy with how everything came together this year. The color scheme that I go with for my tree decor is hot pink, teal, purple and gold, with other colors as accents. I also like a subtle peacock theme on the tree. I do have a small collection of sentimental and homemade ornaments that  have been given to me through the years that don't necessarily match my big tree, so this year my dad bought me the small tree that's on my dining room table to put all of those on. It's such a fun table centerpiece, and a great way to still showcase special ornaments!



     Thanks so much for enjoying this year's holiday home tour of my apartment! To make this post even better, I'm teaming up with some other great bloggers to bring you a fantastic holiday giveaway. It is so easy to enter:


$1,000 Nordstrom Gift Card Giveaway


     Simply enter below by completing the rafflecopter. You’ll receive one entry per completion. This giveaway is open internationally and runs until end of day 12/18. Winner will be announced here. Good Luck!
      *this giveaway is in no way sponsored by Nordstrom.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


      God Bless,




      xoxo Annaliese