June 22, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.






Sharing this weekly post on Thursday instead of Wednesday this week since National Wear Your Lilly Day was yesterday! {Follow me on social media @miss_alk!}


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



Ramblings:
  • Father's Day Weekend: Those of you who follow my IG stories know that my dad spent Father's Day Weekend with me here in Vermont! We had a great visit together. He hadn't been up to Vermont other than moving me into my apartment a couple months ago, so he was excited to see more of the Burlington area. He got to come visit me at work, we ate out a lot (which I don't get to do most weeks!), and then I planned a special Father's day surprise for him! My family actually vacationed in Vermont when I was growing up (not near Burlington- the Northeastern part of the state), and I surprised my dad with a day trip to the bed and breakfast and lake that we used to vacation on. It was a special day and brought back a lot of childhood memories- the last time that we were there for vacation was 2003!
  • Boyband: WHO ELSE is way too excited for this new show that premieres on ABC tonight? Boyband is a new reality competition that as you probably guessed from the name... is putting together America's next great boyband! As someone who had one of the best nights of her life seeing the Backstreet Boys in concert a few years ago, and who still mourns the loss of *NSYNC on a daily basis... let's just say I'm pumped for this show!! 



Purchases:
  • I restocked on some of my drugstore beauty essentials this week! This mascara is one of three that I wear everyday- I love the primer on it.
  • I also bought more of my favorite drugstore eyeliner. This one is amazing for the price!


Wishlist:
  • A high quality work tote/large purse is starting to become a need and not just a want! I'm really starting to have eyes for this bag. I use a cute tote bag for work currently, but it's a bit flimsy and doesn't have any pockets inside, and it isn't really fitting my needs well.
  • This cute top looks perfect to wear to work at my casual radio office environment! It comes in five colors.
  • A polka dot, monogrammed umbrella for under $30? Say no more! This would also make a great birthday gift!
  • I can never resist anything hot pink, especially not a pretty top
  • Coral is one of my favorite colors to wear in the warmer months, so I was naturally drawn to this skirt


On the blog this week:



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

June 21, 2017

National Wear Your Lilly Day 2017.

     "Life is a party, Dress like it!" 
     "Anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink."
     "It's always summer somewhere."
     "Wear pink and make the boys wink!" -Lilly Pulitzer










Photography by Deeana Kourtney Photography



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






     Happy First Day of Summer, and more importantly.... HAPPY NATIONAL WEAR YOUR LILLY DAY 2017! (Caps lock 100% necessary.) All lovers of pink, green and a colorful lifestyle come together on summer's beginning each year to celebrate wearing their favorite brand. I somehow missed out on celebrating this day on my blog last year, but I did celebrate back in 2015


     In this year's National Wear Your Lilly Day post, I'm wearing a purchase from the last After Party Sale! My very first Lilly dress that I bought during my freshman year of college was one very similar to this- made of stretchy cotton and all in all a more casual style. I sadly lost my first Lilly dress during an end of the school year move a couple years ago, so I wanted to find another one similar to it. I got a great deal on this one in this winter's After Party Sale, and the good news is there are some dresses very similar to it for sale at Lilly right now. (Lots linked at the bottom of this post!) And speaking of the After Party Sale- who is already excited for the next one? I swear that's one of the only good things about summer ending... that and my birthday being at the end of summer! 😉


      Today's post is also special for more than just National Wear Your Lilly Day! These are the very last photos from my time working in Charlotte with Deeana of Deeana Kourtney photography. Deeana was my first official outside team member for SBIT, and she brought so many of my creative visions to life over the past year. We had so much fun working together, and not only was she a great photographer, but she also became one of my best friends. Really though- we have talked almost everyday since I moved to Vermont! I know this certainly wasn't the *last* time we will shoot together, but it was the last time for me as a Charlotte resident, and I'm definitely feeling a little sentimental! 



     Some of my favorite summer Lilly picks are below!





     God Bless,




      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)





June 20, 2017

New Job, New City, New Planner!

      Today's post is in collaboration with Lauren James. This post also contains affiliate links. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training.


      In high school and college, I always relied heavily on my planner. (I've always preferred the term "planner" to "agenda" - personally!) I'm sure many of you are the same, since those years of schooling and extracurricular activities are a busy time of life for many. The actual planner that I was using changed somewhat over the years. In early high school I was very thrifty and just used the ones that my school gave all students- very bland small ones with a large ram emblem on the front (our school mascot was a ram). By the time I was a bit older, I had moved into my Vera Bradley obsession years, and used their planners for a couple years. And then of course began my love affair with Lilly Pulitzer, so I used a Lilly agenda for the rest of college and then broadcasting school.


     But with recently moving to Vermont to begin my new job and going through such a big life change for that, I started feeling unmotivated to use my old Lilly agenda! It still had all of the past year's info in it about my old life back in Charlotte, and it just didn't feel right to use it here in Vermont anymore. I tried going planner-less for a little bit, but between balancing my blog work and also all of the events that pop up in the summer for my day job, it was really time to get a new one.




















   





     
     I was presented with the opportunity to review the brand new Lauren James Timeless 12 Month Planner, and honestly it couldn't have come at a better time, since I was already beginning to browse new planners! Lauren James has already been one of my go-to destinations for preppy apparel, and I was excited to see what their planner would look like. I knew as soon as I opened my package containing it that I would love it- because how beautiful is the design on the front?!


     The main thing that sets the Lauren James planner apart from other popular ones is the fact that it's a Timeless 12 month planner, instead of a set-year 18 month. The book itself runs August-July, but since it's timeless, you get to customize which month you'll begin it in, and write in the dates yourself. I've never had a planner like this before, and I think I'll like this feature! I am still debating whether to start mine in July or August with the start of the book- but either way I do like the customization. This planner also has sticker pages like other planners! With my past planners, I feel like I never fully utilized the stickers, but I'm going to try and do better with that this time. 😉


      One feature of the planner that I really like is the meal planning feature. I love cooking, and I'm also on a tight budget this year with an entry level job salary and paying off broadcasting school. So I have a strict grocery budget each week that I stick to, and with that comes holding myself to planning out what I'll cook in advance! If I fail to do that, it costs me (literally). So I know that I'll be taking advantage of this feature of the planner.


     I'm definitely excited to begin using my Lauren James Timeless 12 Month Planner soon, and I would recommend it for other post-grad ladies who might be looking for a new type of planner for new life changes!



      A side note on where these photos were taken- they were taken outside of the The Skinny Pancake, which is the best crepe restaurant in Burlington. One of my favorite bloggers, Caitlin from Southern Curls and Pearls, had traveled here a few times in the fall way before I moved here and had written a travel guide all about the area. She stressed that if there was any place to eat at in Vermont- this was IT! As soon as I accepted my job up here and knew I would be back in the area, I knew I had to try this place, and it didn't disappoint! One of my favorite restaurants back in Charlotte was a creperie, so I'm so glad there's a good one here too.


 

     Thanks so much for reading! As y'all know I always share my weekly Midweek Ramblings post on Wednesdays... but this week's will actually be going up on Thursday, because I have a special post to share tomorrow!





     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)


      

June 19, 2017

Your Guide to Summer Black-Tie Wear.

      Today's post is written in collaboration with Alyce Paris. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Southern Belle in Training possible!


    One of my favorite things on earth is the chance to get all dressed up. I was the high schooler who lived for prom- not because of the date or the limo or the after party (Who are we kidding- my "after party" senior year was a movie night with a few friends in someone's living room!), but for the dress. I felt like a princess at both my junior and especially senior prom thanks to my dresses, and the promise of sorority formals may or may not have been a motivating factor in me wanting to investigate joining Greek life in college. I don't even want to think about how I'll be wedding dress shopping someday.... ah!






Photography by Melissa Lynn Studios


      Luckily for formal attire loving girls like me, there are some wonderful things in the adult world: Black Tie Events! The formal definition of Black Tie is that it is a dress code for formal evening events and social functions. For men, Black Tie implies a dapper tuxedo ensemble. For women, the rules are a little bit more flexible, and vary based on what is popular with women's fashion at the time. For example- there was a point in (not so long ago) history when Black Tie absolutely demanded dress gloves with a lady's outfit ensemble... but how often are you seeing dress gloves in fashion today? Not as much (and thank goodness for that!).


     There are many different direction that a woman can take her Black Tie outfit in these days, but with that said, a few timeless guidelines do remain. Black Tie means a floor length dress or gown, and to stay away from shorter dresses (an exception being if you have a shorter dress that is embellished or extremely formal). Black Tie is also a time to wear long dresses of fine fabrics- this is not a time to break out a polyester maxi dress made for the beach. And lastly, Black Tie is a time to wear fine jewelry. Either pieces made of gold and gemstones, or high quality costume jewelry. This is not an occasion for fad jewelry trends.





     But even with those guidelines in place, there is still a lot of flexibility, especially when it comes to summer Black Tie attire. Summer brings the return of bright colors to the wardrobe, and some of those can be easily incorporated into a Black Tie dress code as well during the warmer months! As much as I love these shades for daytime wear, I personally would stray away from anything neon colored for Black Tie formalwear. But the other colors of the rainbow are at your disposal!


     I felt like a princess getting to style this beautiful Alyce Paris formal dress for today's blog post! This dress is Style #1141, and it's a radiant shade of blue, which I think it is still fine to be worn to summer Black Tie events, since you can definitely play with color more in summer. The beading on the bodice of this dress is absolutely incredible, and I swear it's even prettier in person.





     One last tip that I have for dressing for Black Tie events is to choose one part of your body to accentuate, but not all. Black Tie events are classy functions, so it's not a chance to look like you're going to a nightclub. Choose to highlight your cleavage, legs, or back, but not all three of those! With this dress, it has a gorgeous open back, so another thing I liked about the dress was the fact that was more modest in regards to the dress and legs, since the back is exposed and highlighted.


     (I will give a quick note though on the chest part of this dress...some formal dresses that I've worn in the past have had a very "flattening" affect on cleavage, and what girl wants that?! I was worried this dress might be the same since it's higher cut, but it couldn't be further from that! I don't think I've ever worn a formal dress that flattered and enhanced my chest more, but by doing so in a modest way. Can you say a win-win?? 😉)







     Alyce Paris dresses are sold at fine formalwear retailers all over the US, and world! Near the Burlington Vermont area where I now live, there are retailers in St. Albans, VT, and just across Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, NY. And for my readers back in Charlotte- there are multiple retailers in the Mecklenburg county metro area as well. Quite honestly- there are fine formalwear retailers selling gorgeous Alyce Paris dresses just about everywhere in the country! (I mean if Vermont has it... ha!)



     Now I just need a Black Tie Wedding or gala event to wear these beautiful dress to again! I'm already yearning for the next time that I get to put it on... I truly felt like a princess!





     Also a fun note on my hair- I decided to mix it up from my normal big curls hairstyle for this blog post! I tried a DIY Pinterest side updo and I was so pleased with how it turned out! I think I might have to start playing with more fun hairstyles for future posts.



      Thanks so much for reading! I hope you're having a beautiful start to the week. My dad is here in Vermont right now visiting for a long Father's Day Weekend... and today I have a special surprise experience planned for his Father's Day present! I'm hoping the weather holds out in our favor for it. Stay tuned to my IG stories today (@miss_alk) to see what it is!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

   

June 16, 2017

Celebrating Graduation With Announcements!

     Today's post is written in collaboration with Basic Invite. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Southern Belle in Training.    





     Calling all fellow graduates- CONGRATULATIONS! Your hard work and accomplishments have paid off, and now it's time to celebrate and be acknowledged. Today's blog post is for you!


      A little personal recap: I graduated from college in May 2016, and then graduated from broadcasting school one year later, just recently in May 2017. It still seems surreal to be completely done with higher education (as far as I know!). The only thing that is sometimes hard to think about when looking back on my graduations is how little I feel like I was able to acknowledge both of them at the time. A graduation, especially from higher education, is a BIG deal, and deserves to be celebrated! When I graduated from college, I had a serious situation going on in my personal life, and from that situation I was actually recovering from a serious concussion. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was nearly a miracle that I was able to walk with my class as planned! That experience showed me how quickly things can change in life. And for my broadcasting school graduation which was last month, there was even less to celebrate. I had begun my new job in Vermont a month prior, so I was unable to go back to Charlotte for my broadcasting school's graduation ceremony. I did get to Skype in for part of the ceremony (technology is so cool), but the day-of in reality was a totally normal work day for me, and I don't even think a lot of people knew I was a graduate again!


      In several conversations with my mom over the past few months, she kept reminding me of how even though I wasn't able to attend my most recent graduation, and even though my college graduation had been overshadowed by some bigger life events, it doesn't mean that both of those things were any less of an accomplishment, or that I should be any less proud! I think sometimes people have a chance to downplay their biggest accomplishments, for fear of coming across as cocky (because we all know a cocky person and they aren't fun to deal with!). But the more I thought about it- my mom was right! There is definitely a way to be proud of my academic accomplishments over the past year and share them with friends and family, without doing it in a boastful or annoying way. That's where the idea for graduation announcements came in!


     I am so excited to be teaming up once again with Basic Invite to show y'all the beautiful graduation announcements that I designed, and how easy the process was. Some of you might remember that I had my first experience with Basic Invite this winter, when I designed my friend Perrin's bridal shower invitations through them. The wedding shower invites turned out so wonderfully that I knew Basic Invite would be the perfect destination for graduation announcements.


     Basic Invite has tons of designs of graduation announcements to choose from! Some of them are more appropriate I think for a high school graduation, and some definitely have a more mature feel of a college (or graduate school) graduation to them. I knew that I wanted an announcement that could share the joy of both of my graduations- undergrad and broadcasting school, since I didn't do too much to announce my college graduation last year (and had gorgeous senior photos from Deeana!), I knew I wanted that to be just as much apart of the announcements as broadcasting school. So when perusing Basic Invite's website, I was especially on the hunt for multi photo option announcements!


     Below are a few screenshots to show you how easy the process of designing a photo based announcement with Basic Invite is (it's a similar process for wedding save-the-dates). The template comes on your screen with stock photos already in it, and you can just upload the photos that you want, and then play with how you want them displayed on the card! And then Basic Invite of course lets you customize the font and cardstock colors- and they have SO many choices. (There are over 180 printing color options and over 40 envelope color options for example!)




     First I changed the default text to reflect my graduations!




     Then I picked my photos to upload! Since this design had multiple photo slots, I combined my college senior photos with my radio headshots.



   
     And voila!! Love this finished product! (My last name is blurred out here for privacy- but it is printed on the actual ones. 😉)







      Basic Invite has a great option where you can order custom samples of their announcements and invitations, so that's what I decided to before making a decision about the final graduation announcement! I designed four different ones, and wanted to see them all in person to decide which style I liked. I think they all turned out so beautifully that I'm still having a hard time deciding! Which one is your favorite? 


      Thank you so much to Basic Invite for helping me to acknowledge both of my graduations this month! It's never too late to celebrate an academic accomplishment. 😊



      Wishing y'all a great weekend! Tomorrow I am working at a local charity event with my radio coworkers, and then my dad arrives as well to spend Father's Day Weekend with me here in Vermont!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)



   
   




June 14, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.




{This cute shirtdress will be on the blog soon! Keep up with me on social media @miss_alk}


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



Ramblings:
  • Katy vs. Taylor: One of my Instagram friends, Jaclyn, sent me a DM this past weekend asking me to do an Instagram story talking about my views on the Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift drama that's been going on leading up to Katy's new album release (since I work in radio). Jaclyn's message really had me thinking (in a good way)!! For work I spend a lot of time each day reading entertainment news stories, but I find that I actually keep pretty neutral views on a lot of them. Until getting this message I honestly hadn't thought that much into Katy vs. Taylor... despite reading about it daily and talking about it on-air. But since my radio DJ views on the subject were requested- here they are! I'm definitely not a huge fan of Katy Perry as a person by any means (I think she has some catchy songs, but I wouldn't call her as a person one of my role models), but for some reason I'm leaning more on her side in this one. I do think it is a little odd that Taylor Swift suddenly made a grand return to music streaming websites like Spotify, after a nearly three year absence from them, on the same night that Katy was releasing her new album. But at the same time- Taylor has been very absent from social media in 2017, so without saying anything since Katy has begun bringing up their old falling out, it's hard to say what is true without hearing a recent version of both sides of the story. So I guess this concludes- I guess I'm slightly leaning towards Katy Perry in this one but not strongly? (This article is a great timeline of their whole feud.) Overall though I do hope we start hearing more from Taylor Swift this year! I personally think her next album should be a return to country music. 
  • Lots of blog inspo: One pro since I have moved to Vermont that I don't think I've mentioned too much before here is that in the past two months, I have felt more inspired for the blog then possibly I ever have before! Blog post ideas- both fashion related and also lifestyle/personal, seem to hit me now at all hours of the day. I've been really making an effort to write different types of weekly content, and also to make my regular posts each week more exciting and interesting for y'all to read. A few post ideas that I'm hoping to write this summer include            
           Ultimate Guide to Moving Out of State,            
           My Views on Alcohol and Nightlife as Christian Young Woman
           A Guide to Charlotte NC's Best Nightlife (after writing the previous blog post!)
           New-To-Me Charlotte Restaurants I Tried Before Moving
           Burlington VT Summer Travel Guide
           Having A Full-Time Job And Maintaining A Fashion Blog
.... and even more posts than these!            Let me know in the comments if these blog posts interest you! 😊


Purchases:
  • I've been working to finish the final touches on settling into my new apartment, and this week I bought one of the last big things that I needed- a rug for my living room! I found literally the ideal rug at Home Goods- it has a fun pattern but it isn't too colorful or distracting to take away from some of the bold furniture and wall art that I have. It is also very plush and comfy, and I know I'll appreciate that especially this winter. My exact one isn't online since it's from Home Goods, but this one is sort of similar


Wishlist:
  • This little co-ord set has a really fun pattern and screams tropical vacation! I would probably snatch that up if I was headed somewhere more exotic than New England this summer haha.
  • Okay fellow bloggers- this is the cutest and funniest magnet for yourself of your blogger bestie!! #Need!
  • Pretty summery dress pants- perfect for those of you who work in a business casual environment! 
  • These workout leggings have such a cool pattern that kind of reminds me of marble!
  • I love a sexy one piece bathing suit... cue the flame emojis for this one!


On the blog this week:

     Happy Wednesday! Thanks as always for reading. I'd love it if you left me a comment letting me know what you think of my upcoming blog post ideas!



      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

June 13, 2017

Southern Belle in Vermont: 2 Months Post-Move Update.



      It feels so surreal that this week marks two months since I moved across the East Coast and back to New England to begin my first job in radio! Absolutely, completely surreal. I have given y'all lots of little updates weekly about Vermont in my Midweek Ramblings blog posts, and daily as well as through my social media. But I suppose I hadn't really taken the time yet to really dive into what the aftermath of the move has been like, as well as living here in a new state.





      My employment contract is for one year, so I will guaranteed be in Burlington, Vermont from April 2017-April 2018. (Possibly longer after that, possibly not! 2016 taught me that a lot can change in a year, so it's way too early to make serious guesses about where I will be next spring.) I think it might be nice to write one of these Vermont life updates every two months? As I've told y'all already- soon I'm going to be starting a monthly blog post series about working in radio! I'll save most of my updates about my job and work life specifically for the first blog post to come with that new series, and instead focus today's post on my personal life outside of work and blogging here in Vermont.



April - June 2017: Months 0-2 in Burlington, VT

   SUMMARY: My first month here was a surprisingly smooth transition and was mostly focused on getting used to my job and demanding work schedule. Month two.... not as great. That's when it started to hit that I wasn't on an extended vacation away from Charlotte, but that I actually live in Vermont. And once the realization hit, it was a big one. I'm about to get reallyyyy honest with y'all in some of the paragraphs below- so forgive me if I seem a bit negative at all!


     HOME: This is the first time since I went to moved away to go to college that I live alone! I have a love-hate relationship with it. Most days, love. I think that if I was still in Charlotte and was living alone, I would be 100% in love with it. The only reason that I don't like it sometimes is because I still really don't have much of a social life outside of work in Vermont, so it gets kind of lonely sometimes being alone so much. But let's talk about my apartment:
      Furnishing an apartment is not a cheap process and I learned that the last time around!! I really didn't have a huge budget to spend on furniture or decorations for the new place, so I moved just about everything that I had from Charlotte to here, and then spent maybe $300 on a few statement pieces from discount home stores to add to the space. I still have the same bedroom set as in Charlotte (you cans see my room tour from last summer on the blog), but my new bedroom is shaped differently, so even though it's the same furniture and bedding it looks different! I'm planning to do some apartment tour and decorating blog posts in my new place- but I'm going to save those for winter blog content, because for most of winter it will really be too cold here in Vermont to shoot regular outfit posts!
      It took a full six weeks for me to finish unpacking all of my boxes and hang all of my decorations! I feel like I settled into my first apartment in Charlotte quicker, but that might have been because my roommate had already moved in there two months prior, so a lot of the apartment was already set up when I moved in. In this place, I was starting completely from scratch!
     Something that I have been talking to my parents a lot about this month is getting a pet, since I have been dealing with a lot of loneliness at home. A cat would be ideal for my work schedule and apartment, but unfortunately I have had cat allergies since high school. My parents think that a small dog would be great to keep me company, but I don't think that on my entry-level salary (and paying off broadcasting school this year) that I can afford a dog right now. So that's something that I'm torn about right now. I think a dog would be a great companion and might make me happier here in Vermont overall, but I'm not sure if I can afford it with school payments and that is a valid concern.... (I finish paying off broadcasting school in April 2018- the same month my employment contract is up!)



      FAITH: I shared in a blog post a couple weeks ago that another thing that I was having a hard time with here in Vermont was finding a good church community, and especially finding other Christian young professionals. Well- after sharing that blog post, I decided to visit yet another new church! Writing out all of those thoughts and feelings made me realize I actually wasn't that content with the church that I had been going to for a few weeks.
      I'm happy to share that I had a great Sunday visiting a new church last week, and returned to it again this past Sunday. This is the first church I've found in Vermont that does have some sort of a 20 somethings ministry, and everyone that I have met so far in the church seems so kind and friendly. It is a very small congregation, but having really enjoyed the services this is where I am going to keep attending for now. Obviously I still don't know too much about this church yet, but hopefully I will continue to enjoy it, and maybe get involved in the church in months to come. I am planning to go to their 20 somethings bible study tomorrow night so I will keep y'all posted on how that goes.



     SOCIAL: This is such a day by day thing with my new life here. Some days and weeks I think I have been doing such a good job with making the effort with new friendships, and other times I have crying breakdowns because I feel so lonely here and since things are so different than they were in Charlotte. #honesty
     To start, I am by far the baby of my workplace. I think that was one of the main reasons that I was actually hired- one of my bosses who does the hiring for the company was on the hunt for some younger talent to fill a spot on the radio station that I work predominantly for. So even though my coworkers are really nice, there is a definite age-gap, and I don't hang out with a lot of them after hours too much. I have been hanging out a bit with my boss's girlfriend (shout-out to you Mindy!) - she was definitely my very first friend in Vermont, and made so much of an effort to make me feel welcomed and at home in my first weeks here, which really meant so much to me!
     As far as other friendships, by month two here in Vermont I have made a couple other friends. One actually from blogging - I think my new friend Nicholle might be the only other fashion blogger in the state of Vermont! And I've made one other friend from Bumble BFF. But being real for a second y'all- adult friendships in a new place are hard. I am thankful to have met a few nice girls here, but with me having the weirdest work schedule of all time thanks to radio, it's often been hard for me to make plans. I definitely don't have the social life that I had in Charlotte... and as an extrovert, I really miss that. It's also hard since I live alone. I feel lonely a lot of the time, and am starting to run out of ideas for places to make new friends. (Other than the one new friend I did make, Bumble BFF in Vermont was a huge fail. There just aren't many people using the app here!)



     DATING: HA. Man if I thought my social life is off to a slow start here.... that's going at a rapid pace compared to my dating life!
     To put it quite bluntly: Vermont could not be more different culturally than Charlotte. There also aren't a lot of young professionals in Burlington, unlike Charlotte. Burlington is a college town, but a lot of graduates peace out of here after graduation, since this area can be hard to find jobs in. So if that gives you some insight into dating here...
     I decided to give good ol' Tinder and Bumble a try again in my first month after moving. Even though they never "worked" for me in Charlotte by giving me a serious relationship, I did have some enjoyable dates through them, and I even keep in touch still through Facebook with a few of the guys I went out with. Well- that will not be the case here! I probably sound so judgmental here- but I have never been so disgusted with the selection of guys on dating apps as I was with who did them in Vermont. I swiped on quite a few people but have never received so many inappropriate messages or been ghosted so much in such a short amount of time. (Nor have I ever also seen so many guys in one area list smoking weed as one of their main interests on a dating app....).
     This is something that I've been really struggling with. I am very much at a place where I want to be dating right now, but actually can't think of any more ways to meet anyone here! I'm not interested at all in something long-distance with my work hours right now, and kind of like with ways to meet potential girl besties, I am coming up blank with ways to meet guys in Burlington outside of dating apps.



     ACTIVITIES: My social and dating life might not be going the way I want them to, but I have made sure to still make the most of my free time outside of work! That is something that I have control over, and I didn't want to waste it sitting in my apartment and moping. The main thing that I did in the last two months was to join a gym! This has been the most positive thing ever. I have been attending regular Zumba classes for about six weeks, and I'm just starting to branch out into other fitness classes and working out on my own in the gym as well. Other things that I've enjoyed these months: the spring finales of all my favorite TV shows, unpacking my apartment, getting my library card and making lots of time to read for fun, cooking dinner a few nights a week and weekly walks on a bike path near my apartment.



     5 NEW VERMONT THINGS I DID:

  • Went on two hikes with my coworkers (to Mount Philo and Snake Mountain)
  • Toured the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury 
  • Marched in the Essex Memorial Day Parade with coworkers (this was mandatory for work- but still fun!)
  • Started working with a new blog photographer in Burlington 
  • Made my first Montreal day trip (for Chance the Rapper concert)



      Thanks so much for reading! The next time I do one of these updates it will cover the warmest months of the year in Vermont, so hopefully I'll have tales of a great summer to report back on!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)


   



   

June 12, 2017

Italy's Hidden Gem: The Amazing Colors of Burano.

     
   Over the past four and a half years of blogging, there's been a lot of blog posts that I've been excited to share with y'all. (Expanding on that - if I'm not excited to share a post, why even share it right?) But out of the hundreds of blog posts.... this might really be the one I've been MOST excited to share! These pictures were taken in a place that can only be described as an Instagrammer's ultimate dream come true. 










Photography by my mom 😊


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






      I consider myself to be a self proclaimed geography nerd, so I was SHOCKED upon beginning our tour to learn that I didn't actually know where in Italy the island of Burano was! I had heard of this colorful little place before, but I'd always thought it was in the Amalfi Coast, near Capri. That is the one region of Italy that our tour didn't venture near, so I just assumed this wouldn't be a place I'd get to visit on this trip to Europe. Imagine my surprise to learn that Burano is actually an island off of the main islands of the city of Venice in northeastern Italy, and was easily accessible as a day trip from Venice. And Venice was the last stop on our tour! Burano itself is a small island with few restaurants and hotels, so most tourists opt to stay in Venice and make a day trip out like our tour group did. 

      Our tour guide organized a day trip excursion to Burano, where we traveled by boat to the island, and then our entire group had a late lunch of local seafood cuisine at a restaurant there. We only had a couple hours in Burano, and unfortunately most of the time seemed to be taken up in the restaurant! I asked my mom if we could cut out of the lunch a little bit early so that we would have more time to explore. Burano and its beautiful colored buildings are a once in a lifetime experience, and I didn't want to spend the majority of my time there in a restaurant. 


     We had maybe 20 minutes to ourselves to explore, and we walked down one of the first streets that we came upon, which is where these photos were taken. As we walked down the sidewalk, following the canal, I was so in awe of how beautiful each house was! Each one became more beautiful and vibrant in color than the last! We didn't have much time at all, but I was able to get a few outfit pictures, and then my mom and I both took the rest of the time to take scenic shots. 









     .... I mean, how BEAUTIFUL?! Below, I had some fun playing with the colors and edits on a few of my Burano photos. 





      

     Despite the fact that our time in Burano was way too short, and that it was a bit cold and cloudy on our day there, this was by far the highlight of my time in Italy! I didn't think anything could beat visiting the spots from the Lizzie McGuire movie... but I guess I was wrong! I only hope that I'll be lucky enough to return to Burano someday!


     Thank you so much for following along with all of my Italy blog posts! I feel so blessed and lucky to have gone on such a memorable adventure before moving to Vermont and starting my new job (in which I don't get much vacation time for my first year at work!). 



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

      

June 9, 2017

Spring Pastels + Blooms.

      I did a shopping fast during the month of May, so I had to get creative in restyling things that I already had in my closet. No girl wants to be an "outfit repeater," but sometimes you just have to think outside the box a little bit when re-wearing things that you already have! At the end of this blog post I'm also sharing a few new songs that I've been loving lately. 








Photography by Melissa Lynn Studios


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






     I first styled these shorts last year in this blog post! I am still in love with them for this season. A gorgeous violet hue, seersucker, AND a big bow... what more could you want! (FYI they also come in a bunch of other pretty colors!) I knew that in creating a new outfit with them I wanted them to have a totally different look. I recently received this adorable OTS top in the mail from Charming Charlie to style, and I thought the light pink and violet would compliment each other well. My blue purse (which my mom rediscovered in my room at home in Maine when she was packing things for my recent move!) added a final pop of pastel color. I think this outfit reminds me of Easter egg colors, and since Easter is my favorite holiday that just makes me happy! 😊


      Working in radio, I spend the majority of my day listening to music. A lot of it does blend together, but a few new summer hits have stuck out to me. Now, a few new songs that I've been loving lately: 


      Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj - Swish Swish 

I've never been a huge Katy Perry fan in the past, but y'all I am digging some of her new stuff (just not the weird new haircut...). This song has an infectious beat and reminds me of early Britney Spears music. 




Anne Marie - Ciao Adios

Anne Marie is the lead vocals in Clean Bandit's mega hit from earlier this year, Rockabye. She has a solo track out now on her own, and it's very catchy and fun! Such a good breakup anthem. 




Chace & Moski - For a Day

My station actually isn't playing this song, but another local Top 40 has been, and I am OBSESSED with it! It has such a good club/European Dance pop vibe to it. Listen to this and you won't be able to stop.






      Wishing you all a wonderful start to your weekend! 



       God Bless,



       xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

June 8, 2017

Visiting Italy With Insight Vacations (And My Florence + Venice Photo Diary).

     Today I am beginning to wrap up my blog posts from my March trip to Italy with my mom! As I previously mentioned, we chose to travel to Italy through Insight Vacations tour group instead of going completely on our own. This was not our first time traveling to Europe with a tour company- back in 2013 both of my parents and I went to the UK over the holidays on a tour with Trafalgar, which I believe is a sister company to Insight.

      Since tour groups are a unique way of vacationing to a foreign country (or even in the US- many tour companies do offer domestic vacations as well!), I thought I would use today's post to talk a bit our experience with seeing Italy via Insight Vacations, how it compared to our Trafalgar experience in 2013, and if I would do another tour in the future. (Just to clarify- our vacation and this blog post isn't sponsored/comped at all by either of these companies! I just want to give an honest review of our vacation experience for y'all.)


      I'm also going to be sharing a lot of my favorite photos from Florence and Venice, the other cities that we visited in Italy! We were in Rome the longest so I was able to write a detailed travel guide blog post, but since we were only in Florence and Venice for a couple days each and most of our time was spent on guided activities, I don't have too many recommendations for those cities to share. But I still wanted to share all of my photos!


     And if you would like to catch up on my previous Italy blog posts, check out:







      The Insight Vacations Italy tour that my mom and I went on was called Easy Pace Italy. "Easy Pace" meant that this tour offered more free time and more optional excursions then some of their other tours, so that you feel more in control of your vacation. (To compare: the Trafalgar tour that my family did in 2013 was NOT easy pace. Most excursions were mandatory, we had to be on the tour bus most mornings by 6 am, and there were many long days of travel in the bus.) Our Italy tour focused on three cities: Rome, Florence and Venice. There were also day trips and rest stops in other Italian cities and towns, including Pisa, Verona and the amazing island of Burano (I'll be sharing photos from there in Monday's post!).


     Rome was the city that we were in the longest, and we chose to fly in an extra day early as well to kill of jet lag, so we really had a full taste of Rome. Next we headed to Florence and lastly Venice, and we were in each of those cities for three days. Below are a few photos from Pisa, which was one of our first day trips! We stopped there en route from Rome to Florence.


   







      Immediately one of the biggest pros of traveling to Italy with a tour group that I can think of is the added feeling of security. It's no secret that safety is currently a top concern with destinations all over the world, but especially so right now in Europe. If you travel with a tour group, your guide will be a local (or at least very well seasoned visitor) to the regions that you're traveling through, so that if God forbid there is a threat to security or some sort of attack, you will be able to find some sort of safety amongst your group instead of just fending for yourself in a foreign country. The added safety bonus applies to smaller situations too, such as pick pockets! Theft is a huge concern in Italy, and I always felt more secure when visiting the museums and monuments to know that I was in a tour group with local guides rather than just my mom and I fending for ourselves (where we would probably still out like sore thumbs so badly as Americans!).



   

      Another big pro of traveling to a foreign country with a tour group is for some of the benefits related to excursions and day trips. For one, your tour guide will organize visits to places that you might never have thought to see on your own. The above picture is from when my mom and I got to visit an Italian winery and attend a wine tasting (which was in the same day that we went to Pisa, en route from Rome to Florence), which is something that was super fun, but my mom and I probably wouldn't have done on our own if we were in Italy without a tour group!

   
     And as far as visiting major attractions- being there with a tour company will help speed up the process majorly! At many of the museums and historical sights that we visited, such as the Colosseum in Rome and Galleria d'ell Academia in Florence (where the famous David sculpture is), our tour guide had already pre-purchased tickets for the whole group, so all 40+ of us were able to bypass the long lines that many tourists were stuck in.







   


     Above are a few photos from museums and sightseeing during our days in Florence! A highlight of Florence for my mom was getting to spend time during our free day in the city visiting the famous Uffizzi museum, which is one of the best art museums in the world for renaissance art.


     The last and most important pro that I can think about to traveling abroad with Insight Vacations or another tour company is for the relationships that you make with other travelers on your tour! This didn't happen quite as much on my family's UK trip a few years ago, but my mom and I got very lucky and had the nicest tour companions and tour guide on our Italy trip. We made new friends from all over the US and all over the world! Our tour guide, Julie, was absolutely fantastic, and she knew so much about Italian culture.











   

    As far as cons to traveling with a tour company, there are a few. I definitely think the pros outweigh the cons - at least for the needs that my mom and I were looking for in our Italy trip! But I will still be honest and address the few cons anyways.


      Since a tour is a a more expensive price up front (since you're paying for lodging, ground transportation, some meals, and most excursions), you will feel more compelled to take advantage of everything offered since it a lot of it was prepaid for, and probably not cheap! I was actually not crazy about all of the meals that were included on our trip. A lot of the restaurants that our whole group ate at for dinners a few of the nights of the trip did not have the best food, which was disappointing. My favorite meals in Italy were definitely the ones in smaller restaurants that my mom and I discovered ourselves. One group meal was a pizza dinner in Florence... and the pizza was terrible. I hate saying that since I was in Italy and Italian pizza is supposed to be the best in the world (and I did have the best pizza in the world in Rome!), but in this case it was just not good food! Of course the company and conversation was enjoyable since we were with our whole group, but on repeated occasions I remember not enjoying the food at restaurants that were apart of group dinners.


     Another con is that on travel days, your time is very constrained to the group agenda. Most of the travel days have a very early start, and the only thing that I remember being very frustrated with in Italy is that I kept trying to rest in the bus, but every time that I was just on the verge of napping, we would arrive at a rest stop and our tour director would ask everyone to get off the bus so that the bus driver could also rest. (Which is totally valid! There were just a lot of rest stops so it was impossible to rest  much on the bus). Since our Italy trip was considered easy pace though, we only had a couple of long travel days. When my parents and I went to the UK, the focus of the trip was seeing England and Scotland in as short of a time as possible, so a lot of that trip was spent on the tour bus.




     Alright - I think about sums up the rest of our Italy trip! I have one more blog post for the trip about a very special day trip excursion that my mom and I got to go on... that post will be live on Monday! (As well as all of the video that I filmed while there that I need to find the time to edit into vlogs... hopefully I can do that soon!)



     Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions!



      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)