August 21, 2017

Sunny Yellow Dress + Self Care in Busy Weeks.

     Summer isn't over just yet, and there's still time to wear your favorite sundresses! Today I'm styling this gorgeous yellow off-the-shoulder dress, and also sharing a few easy tips for self care during busy work (or school) weeks.













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







      Well, the warm summer weather sure waited until the last possible second it seems to make its debut here in Vermont! While June and July were surprisingly and disappointingly cold and rainy months, August has had its fair share of warm and humid weather. Unfortunately for me, work has really picked up this month so I haven't been able to be outside as much as I was in earlier months, but so is life I guess! At least the weather was warm and beautiful on the day these photos were taken. 😊


     This beautiful yellow off-the-shoulder dress surprised me in so many ways! It's from my favorite lower cost online retailer, and their items can always be hit or miss- a risk that you take when order things at such low price points. But this dress is made of thicker (not see-through) material, and is overall a really great quality! I hadn't previously owned too many things in yellow, I find it to be kind of a hard color to wear and style. But I thought this dress paired beautifully with some turquoise accessories and rose gold jewelry, and I ended up loving this look! Wouldn't it be a perfect look for a late summer date night, or a nice dinner out on an end-of-summer vacation?


   
     Moving onto a different topic, I wanted to talk for a little bit about the importance of regular self-care! I mentioned this briefly in last week's posts, and I'll be able to go more in depth about what all is going on in posts to come in September, but the short story is that work has been crazy for me in the past two weeks. Part of that was due to the fact that I had to fill in on other radio shows for some coworkers who were taking their summer vacations, in addition to doing my regular show and job duties. But the larger part of the craziness is that some things (good things!) are changing at work soon... and that combined with my fill-in duties, and having my first ever weekend off in between... meant it was a crazy two weeks! The best way not to let work overwhelm you is to make a little time for self-care. Of course, the same can also be applied to busy seasons in school if you're still a full-time student. I remember very well how killer midterms and finals weeks were!


      I have some favorite more "luxurious" and time consuming self-care activities, such as getting a pedicure at a nail salon, but in super crazy weeks sometimes you physically don't have time to do things like that! So below are a few very simple, affordable and not super time consuming self-care ideas. Perfect for extra busy weeks!



     *Buy your favorite treat or adult beverage at the grocery store - I love to bake and cook, but during busy workweeks the last thing that I want to do when I get home is whip up a treat to eat. If life is stressing you out, treat yourself to taking home your favorite junk food treat or adult beverage! I'm not a big drinker in my home, so my favorite splurge treat are ice cream cakes! Yum!


     *Do a face mask - I've been getting really into face masks this summer. I love taking a shower right before bed, climbing into cozy pajamas, and then doing a face mask in bed as I relax and watch Netflix. What a nice way to wind down after a very long work day! I've been trying them from lots of brands this summer, but so far I've really liked ones that I've found at Sephora (from Sephora brand) and Avon.


     *Visit the local library (or find a book on your shelf that you haven't opened before) and READ uninterrupted for 30 mins - I love reading, and so often I let the business of work, blogging, and other day to day things get in the way of this joy. Set the timer on your phone for 30 mins if you can't afford to spend all day/evening reading... but truly the best thing of all is to be able to read for as long as you want to!


     *Facetime with a long-distance friend: On a night last week, I really needed to finish the next day's blog post when I got home from work. But instead, I put my laptop away for the night and decided to Facetime two of my college friends. It was SO needed! It can be such a nice breath of fresh air in a crazy week to Facetime with a dear friend who might live far away- take advantage of modern technology!


     *Read and catch up on your favorite blogs uninterrupted for 30 mins - A main part of why I love blogging so much is the blogging community! It brings me so much joy to read my favorite blogs and see what's new in everyones' lives. However, between working full-time and running my blog, sometimes I don't have as much time to read and comment as I'd like to. Take a few minutes aside in a busy day just to read your favorite blogs can be a wonderful break in the day!



     What are your favorite easy self-care tips for busy weeks? Please share with me in the comments!


     Wishing you all a great Monday! It is warm and sunny in Vermont yet again- and it's Solar Eclipse day! Vermont is only supposed to get 60% visibility of it, but we will see how that turns out.







     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

August 19, 2017

The BEST No-Bake Icebox Cake.

     Doing something a little different for this Saturday blog post! I absolutely love cooking and baking, they're two of my favorite hobbies, and something I do regularly. However, it's not something I blog about too often. With the busy work schedule that I have now, I tend to stick to making a lot of the same recipes again and again. This is unrelated to my own cooking habits- but I also find food photography to be quite difficult. I am kind of a perfectionist about photography on my blog (hence why I work with photographers for most of my posts), and you would be amazed at the amount of recipe posts I actually have tried to shoot, but I've let the bad lighting in my kitchen or difficulty getting good shots of the finished product prevent me from ever blogging about it- ha! Well, that's changing today. This recipe is too good to keep to myself, so I have to share it with all of you. (And I think the photos came out okay-ish. 😉)







     This is actually a family recipe, coming from my mom! My mom a very talented cook, and I am so thankful that she taught me how to cook and bake when I was quite young. They are two extremely useful skills that have helped me so much in early adulthood. Anyways- we need to get back on track and discuss this incredible icebox cake. My mom made this one summer several years ago, and after tasting a bit I was in heaven. I asked her what type of cake it was and how she had made it, and I was shocked to learn it had just four ingredients, and that it was a no-bake icebox cake!! It was seriously one of the best homemade desserts I had ever eaten. I actually requested this as my 17th birthday cake for my little family party that year! I remember my mom's family was surprised too that it was a no-bake cake and tasted so good.


      The hot, end-of-August weather is a great time to enjoy cool and easy icebox treat, so I wanted to share this recipe with y'all today! The hardest part about it is simply waiting for it to chill in the fridge! It is a dessert that you do have to be patient on, and can't really eat until it's set overnight.




No-Bake Chocolate Graham Icebox Cake


Ingredients:

  • One box of original honey graham crackers (I used a store brand variety)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Heavy cream
     ....yes, that's it! 



   
     1. Make the homemade chocolate whipped topping. No Cool-Whip or pre-made frosting will substitute. 😉 My mom makes her own chocolate whipped cream by kind of "eye balling it" with ingredients. She also told me later on that she uses Hershey's syrup, instead of cocoa powder like I did. I'm more of a strict recipe follower than my mom is, so I found this recipe for homemade chocolate whipped cream on Pinterest, and used it. It called only for cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and heavy cream. Find it here and follow the instructions! (Note, I found the finished product to be a bit more chocolatey than I like, so I did end up adding extra powdered sugar than what the recipe calls for.)







     2. Open the package of graham crackers, and lay down a cracker in the bottom of a baking dish.







     3. Use a spatula to spread the whipped cream over the graham cracker in baking dish. After the first graham cracker is coated, stack another one on top of it, and repeat, until the first package is completely stacked and coated in the whipped cream.







     4. When the first package of graham crackers is coated and in the backing dish, begin repeating the process with other packages in the box. Make sure all stacks of graham crackers are pressed up next to each other in the baking dish, and use the whipped cream to bind them together, creating the "cake" shape!





     5. When all stacks of graham crackers have been coated, give them one last "push" together with the spatula, and use extra whipped cream to coat the outside of the cake. The more whipped cream on them, the softer the grahams will later become!!


    6. Refrigerate cake overnight preferably- this is the hardest part! It will look so good that you'll want to dig right in, but it really does need to chill for at least 8 hours so that the graham crackers can properly soften. Once it has softened, take it out and enjoy!






     And that friends, is really it! Such an easy, yet delicious summer treat. Please let me know if you make the recipe and enjoy it! 😊



     Wishing you all a wonderful weekend- work is staying absolutely crazy for me until mid-September. I know I didn't do a very good job keeping up with blogging this week and kind of let work get the best of me, but hopefully the next few weeks I will be able to do better balancing both. Also looking forward to sharing more soon too about everything happening with work- some exciting radio things!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

August 16, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.





{Testing out some cute new makeup items from the Mark by Avon line! Follow me on all my social media @miss_alk!}


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




Ramblings:
  • Being a tourist at home: This past weekend was my first weekend off since starting my job! Since I wasn't able to go to Charlotte as I had hoped, I went home to Maine instead and tried to make the best of things. Overall it was a quiet, but nice visit! I have two friends from there who are both starting grad school soon, so it was good to spend time with them before that begins. I also spent a lot of time with my family, and time at the ocean, which I miss so much living far away from it now! Something that I've noticed since moving to Vermont is that I really have stopped taking growing up in Maine for granted, and I have a new appreciation for my hometown that I didn't have when I lived in Charlotte. I still very much want to be back in the South, but I hope when I do eventually move out-of-state again, I'll take my newfound love for Maine with me.
  • Planning fall fashion content + foliage: Fall in New England comes much earlier than the South- and Fall in Vermont comes even EARLIER! I am already starting to think about creative natural locations for shooting fall fashion content for the blog. Vermont has several scenic byway routes, which are very popular (especially in the fall) with tourists and locals alike. I've already been looking at which byways I would like to explore this fall. If you're planning a trip to New England or Vermont this fall- check out the byway list here
  • Giveaway fun! These is a fun little giveaway up on my Instagram currently, and it runs all week long, so there is still time to enter! I'm teaming up with Jewel Toned, a wonderful shape-wear and undergarments company, to give one lucky winner a Summer Style Pack, featuring five Jewel Toned pieces. Speaking of giveaways... I'm getting so very excited for my week of 5th Blogiversary giveaways, which will be happening at the end of August/beginning of September. I shot most of the images for the giveaways last week and I know y'all will be excited as well! 


Purchases:
  • A trip home to Maine now means SHOPPING! It's so funny-when I lived in Charlotte I didn't do much shopping in Maine, minus a couple local spots that I always hit up. But now that I live in Vermont, aka what feels like the home of the least chain stores (or chain anything) in the nation, I have to get my shopping fill when I'm home, or when driving back to Vermont through New Hampshire! My grandma and I went out to lunch and for a bit of shopping this weekend, and of course we had to stop at Nordstrom Rack! I've found some of my best Rack finds on past trips there with my grandma. She bought me this darling necklace as one of my birthday gifts- the crown reminded me of the Charlotte city logo, which is so dear to my heart! Fun fact: if I ever were to get a tattoo, it would probably be a tiny version of the Charlotte City crown, on the side of my ribs. 
  • We also went to one of my favorite shoe retailers (yet another place not in Vermont), and my grandma bought me these adorable booties as another birthday gift!! Can't wait to style these all this fall.
  • During my rest stop at the Mall of New Hampshire, I stocked up on a few packs of these! They're one of my hair essentials, and were on sale for 2 packs for $10 (a great deal)!
  • I love shopping at Lilly Pulitzer Signature stores... possibly even more then actually Lilly stores! I think Signature stores have a lot of local charm to them, and they definitely mark down  older Lilly more than regular stores do sometimes. I paid a visit to Maine's only Lilly Signature store, The Pink Tangerine, during my weekend home with my friend Katie. I found this adorable tank! Even though it's still on Lilly's website, it was amazingly 40% off at The Pink Tangerine!  Such a good buy and I couldn't resist! 


Wishlist:
  • Still have all the heart eyes for this tote- this is probably the fourth time I've posted it on my wishlist, ahhh! #workbaggoals
  • I saw this dress at The Pink Tangerine while I was home. I sadly have NO REASON to wear this in Vermont... but isn't this THE CUTEST dress?!
  • This is a different take on a basic t-shirt. Would be cute for fall transition outfits for work! 
  • This top screams "early spring" to me more than "early fall," but I still love the bold pattern on it!! 
  • An adorable ruffle sleeve dress for fall that is under $50 and comes in a few colors! 



On the blog this week:

     
       And a quick note about something not blog/wishlist/fashion related... I just wanted to say a couple words about the horrific acts in Charlottesville that happened earlier this week. Hearing about things like this happening in America in 2017 absolutely devastates me. What makes me even more sad is that many of the individuals associated with these terrible hate groups claimed to act in the name of God/Christianity.... absolutely sickening! These people represent everything that Christianity is not (as most Americans of course DO know). I'm not sure what church they belong to... but I have certainly never stepped foot in a church that has preached anything about hate or white supremacy. 


     I really do not discuss my political views on my blog or social media- partly because I work in the media and don't believe I should disclose much about that with the type of job that I have, and partly because this last election season got quite heated, to say the least. I witnessed a lot of friendships ended over politics last year, and I don't think that should ever be a reason to remove someone from your life. (Just to clarify.... belonging to/supporting a hate group = YES- definitely a reason to end relationship/friendship. However simply having a difference in political opinions = No.) 


     Anyways, with that little preface there- I do generally speaking hold conservative political views, and it really saddens my heart especially to see some people grouping hate groups and the alt-right together with all conservatives. These terrible people couldn't be more different from a lot of the ideals of most conservatives and the GOP. I have been encouraged to see some conservative politicians and commentators speak out against what happened. A favorite tweet of mine was from conservative commentator Allie Stuckey of The Conservative Millennial. She tweeted "Conservatives should denounce the alt-right even more than liberals do. It's everything we are trying to show people we aren't." Amen amen amen! 



      Anyways- sorry for that little sidetrack there, just wanted to share a few things that have been on my mind for a few days. 😊



     God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on air!)

August 15, 2017

Radio 101: What Does a Radio Personality Wear To Work?

     Bringing back my Radio 101 post series today... and combining it with one of my favorite things, fashion! A lot of the outfits that I've been wearing on my blog this summer are not things that I would wear to work, so I thought it would be fun to share an outfit post specifically styled to the types of looks that I have been wearing to work this summer!











Photography by Melissa Lynn Studios


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





     Different career paths in broadcasting have different dress codes. TV news personalities wear chic business casual looks normally, with female reporters wearing classy dress ensembles, and male reporters sporting suits. Radio on the other hand is a bit different! My company doesn't have a dress code for on-air personalities, and I would say most radio companies fall along those lines. If you're looking for an example of this- when I had my morning radio internship in Charlotte last winter, I frequently saw on-air personalities in that building walking around in sweatpants, no joke!


      I don't bum down quite that much for work, but at the same time it doesn't make sense for me to dress up either. The majority of my days are spent alone in a windowless studio. During my first couple weeks at my job, I tried to wear some business casual looks with heels, but I quickly realized that just wasn't practical for my job (or Vermont-ha!). The outfit in today's post is a great example of the types of outfits that I've been wearing to work this something! Something very casual, but still put together. I am allowed to wear shorts to work, and have done so on a few very warm days. Generally speaking though this summer, I've been wearing jeans or casual dresses with flat sandals to work on weekdays. Back in Charlotte I used to wear cardigans and blazers to school and my retail job frequently, but now jean jackets and the kimono that I'm wearing in these pictures are my best friends! Saturdays are actually my longest workday of the week- I'm usually at work for 8-9 hours. I reward myself for having such long Saturdays on-air by wearing no makeup and athleisure clothes (and sometimes doing the same on Fridays also 😊).


     One difference between how I dress actually for work and how I got ready for these photos is that while I almost always have curled hair for the blog, I actually rarely curl my hair for work. My whole day is spent sliding headphones up and down my head, and if my hair is curled I find it tangles so much more easily. I normally wear my hair in a braid for work, and sometimes a bun or down and straightened.


     The only time I don't have freedom in what to wear to work is for radio events. We have a company policy that we have to wear t-shirts or polos (depending on the event), that have the station logos on them. That way people attending the events can easily identify us as on-air staff, and it looks professional when attending an event as well.



      Sometimes I do wish I had a job where I had to dress up more for work, but overall I really do like putting together cute and casual outfits for working in radio! I think that what I really wish for is having more excuses to dress up outside of work... but I'm working on that! 😉



      How do you dress for your career? Does your industry have a more formal, business-like dress code? Or do you also work in a casual work environment?



      I hope that y'all enjoyed today's Radio 101 post! I'm thinking for next month's to share a "Day in the Life" type schedule post for what my average workday looks like, and to talk more about some of the smaller tasks in my daily routine at work!







     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)
   

August 10, 2017

Southern Belle in Vermont: 4 Months Post-Move Update.

    It's already that time again!! In some ways, it seems like just yesterday that I wrote my two-months post-move update (which you can read here). Work has kept me very busy this summer so it's gone by faster than I anticipated!! At first when thinking about this post, I thought I wouldn't have very much at all to share or update y'all on, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I did have some updates indeed. I am glad that I decided to do these post-move updates on the blog since coming to Vermont... sometimes it really is good to write more personal blog posts, and I know that someday I'll enjoy reading these and remembering my first job and the time that I lived in Vermont!







June - August 2017: Months 2-4 in Burlington, VT


     SUMMARY: My summer can pretty much be summed up into two themes: work and having company! June's theme more specifically was having company, and July/August's theme more specifically has been work. I'll dive more into both of those things further on in the post. Overall, it has been a harder summer than I anticipated. In some ways, I was happy after the rushed period of having a lot of company visit ended, so I could get back to just focusing on work, and also having some downtime. to myself. But in other ways, it also bummed me out a bit. I am an extrovert, so I loved having friends around a lot again while I did have company up. Having them all leave kind of reminded me how different my social situation has been since moving up here, and made me really miss all of my friends in Charlotte. I think my main goal for months 4-6 in Vermont is to do better about making more friends up here, and planning more social activities in my calendar! A work/personal life balance is so important, and I'm definitely lacking in the personal life department right now.



     HOME: This summer I have gotten a lot more used to living alone, and really fallen in love with it! I am already excited for my future apartments to come. It's crazy to me that some young 20 somethings around my age (even a lot of my own friends) are becoming home-owners... I don't see that in my life for a long time, but am loving solo apartment life! I have recently started the process of reorganizing my kitchen cabinets, which has been taking longer than I expected, but I'm trying to work on one cabinet at a time, and to really get them organized and cleaned to a system that I like, so it's okay that it's been a longer process. This probably makes me sound so lame, but I am so excited for Fall TV shows to come back in September!! I literally can't wait to be cuddled by my TV in my favorite fuzzy bathrobe and with fuzzy blankets, watching new episodes of all of my favorite shows. Soon I really need to write out a Fall TV schedule so I can remember which of my shows are on which nights! Gosh I realize how lame I sound writing this.... haha! Vermont really is making me a little homebody. One thing that I really have missed this summer season is having a pool. My old apartment in Charlotte had two pools and a hot tub, and I was out there almost every evening of last summer. It's rare to find apartments in Vermont that have pools, and my current apartment complex doesn't have one. Wherever I move next- whether Vermont or out-of-state, I'm really hoping it's an apartment complex with a pool again!
      As I mentioned in the first paragraph of the post, I had a lot of company earlier this summer! In June and then into July, my dad visited, followed by my friend Hannah and then my friend Ciera! All visits were almost back-to-back, and all stayed in my apartment. I absolutely love hosting company, however it can get stressful doing that so often with working weekends like I do. I actually had two friends from Maine who wanted to come up this month, but I finally had to say no due to my own sanity and my work schedule over the next few weeks, and it felt like such a huge relief after I said that! I know there will be more opportunities for company later in the fall when work hopefully isn't as crazy.



     WORK: Has been CRAZY BUSY! But very good. Some changes are happening soon which I look forward to sharing with y'all as soon as I can! 😉
     Summer is prime event season for my company's radio stations. So is the case for radio stations everywhere really, but especially so in the North, due to rough winters and limited event scheduling happening then. I had one week in July where my station had an event almost every night that week! Many coworkers have also been taking their summer vacations, so I've been doing more weekday fill-in shifts on Star 92.9, the station that I work for on Saturdays. One thing that I've been having fun with this summer is trying to post more on and grow my station's Instagram account- follow along at @planet967!
   


      FAITH: So excited to share that I have found a church home in Vermont! I think I found my church right around the time I posted my first post-move update. During my first two months here, I did some church hopping, and didn't find a new church home. Overall I really missed my old church in Charlotte. (I even wrote a separate blog post about church hunting here!) But I decided to keep trying churches, and I finally found one. It is very small, so it has been adjustment for me to go from attending a Charlotte mega church to a tiny, growing church in Vermont. But the people at my church are so kind and Christlike, and from the first Sunday that I attended, many were so welcoming to me! I truly felt Christ's love flowing within the church, and I knew it was a good place. I brought my dad with me to a service when he visited in June, and he also loved it, which meant a lot to me. It just goes to show that sometimes it really does take time to find a good church!
      Wonderfully, my new church also has a young professionals bible study group for other post grads! The bible study itself is on summer break right now, but should resume soon. Unfortunately with my crazy summer work schedule, I've had to miss most of the group's summer social events for the last month. I'm hoping to be able to attend the regular bible study meetings and their social events this fall again! If work does calm down or become more regular at some point, I would love to become more involved in the church, either with my bible study group, or as a volunteer with a ministry. But for now- I'm just happy to have a great church to go to on Sundays, and to be making new church friends!



      SOCIAL: This is the area of my life that I am going to work the hardest to improve this fall. I have started making new friends, like those that I've met through my bible study group at church. But with my summer work schedule (and also having company visit earlier in the summer), it's been harder for me to make plans with new Vermont friends. Everyone that I have met up here works more traditional weekday 9-5 type schedules, while I work 6 days a week including Saturdays and Sundays.
      Back in Charlotte, I had such diverse friend groups by the end of my time living there. I had college friends, broadcasting school friends, bible study friends, and of course blogging friends! I loved having all of my different friend networks, as there were different social activities that I did with my different friend groups. I have started to make church friends here, I've found who I think is the one other fashion blogger in Vermont in my new blogging friend Nicholle 😊, and now I just need to try and branch out and make some other friend groups as well. I am considering looking into joining the Junior League here in Vermont- the local chapter is having a recruitment Open House later this month which I might attend. (My only hesitation in looking into joining is that if I did end up not staying in Vermont after my job contract is up in the spring, I might be moving before the new member period is complete for the Junior League. But I suppose it's too early to worry about that, and I might very well stay in Vermont another year or two!) Vermont is such a small area and kind of a hard place to make friends when you're new, but I'm going to keep trying.
      On a different social note- I'm headed home to Maine for three days this weekend, and looking forward to catching up with a couple high school friends while I'm home!



      DATING: Yep- no update here from last month. Still at a place where I would like to be dating in Vermont, but find myself wondering on a daily basis that if I'm already having trouble making friends here... how the heck am I supposed to find guys that I could date? This area of Vermont has a lot of college guys since Burlington has three colleges, but a lot of people move away after graduation since jobs are hard to come by here (making it ironic that I moved here for work!). Since I'm not really looking to date a 20 year old who parties at a frat house every weekend... it makes dating options even more limited. I recently re-downloaded a dating app to my phone after a couple months off from that, so who knows, maybe I'll be swiping right on my Vermont Prince Charming? (In all honesty hopes aren't up though...I keep feeling like I'll meet someone when I move to wherever my next home is.)



     ACTIVITIES: I've never been much of a fall person, but I'm already starting to look forward to spending a fall season in New England- my first in many years! As for summer, I did have a chance to do some fun and memorable things. My overnight trip to Montreal when my friend Ciera came to visit was definitely a highlight (check out my Montreal Travel Guide here)! Another huge highlight of my summer was getting to go back and visit the bed and breakfast in the northeastern part of Vermont that I grew up vacationing with my parents at when I was little. As soon as I accepted my job in Vermont many months ago, this became the number one thing on my bucket list!! My dad and I did this when he came up for Father's Day, and I still need to write a full blog post about that day trip.



     5 NEW VERMONT THINGS I DID:

  • Made my first day trip to the Adirondacks in New York (to visit my blogging friend Katie and her family at their lake house).
  • Had my first taste of Burlington nightlife when my friend Ciera visited!
  • Stepped out of my comfort zone and went to the Burlington Rising Tide Society's Tuesdays Together July Meet-up, and met some wonderful Vermont photographers and other creatives! 
  • Worked and hosted my first solo radio event! (More of a work-first, but still a notable first!)
  • Ordered a Vermont craft beer for the first time at a restaurant.... and realized I am still more of a Bud Light kinda gal. #noshame 



     Since I'm headed home to Maine for a long weekend, I have decided to take a little blogging break for the next few days!! I've been going full speed ahead at both jobs- my day job and the blog, pretty much since moving, and I'm ready to enjoy my short little summer vacation weekend. I'll still be posting on Instagram and Twitter though- so keep up with me there! I'm @miss_alk on both. 😊



     Have a great weekend, and talk to y'all here on Tuesday!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)  

August 9, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.




{Enjoying a drink after a recent work event at one of Burlington's lakefront bars!}



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




Ramblings:
  • Morning Show Fun: This week I have been filling in all week on the morning show for the radio station that I work for on Saturdays, Star 92.9! Mary of Mike and Mary in the Morning has been on vacation, so I was filling in for her this week, which has been such great radio experience! Mike is such a fun morning radio host, and I've been learning a lot from working with him. It's been a bit of an adjustment to go back to waking up at 3:30 am again (like I did this winter for my morning radio internship), but worth it. If you want to listen to tomorrow or Friday, we're on from 5-9 am EST and you can listen on www.star929.com! 
  • Podcasts Lately: I haven't found any new podcasts that I've loved quite as much as Missing Richard Simmons or Serial's first season, but there are two that I've been listening to lately off and on! Up and Vanished was recommended to me by a lot of friends, and I've been slowly making my way through it. I think the story is a bit more confusing than that of Serial, so I can't listen to as many episodes as quickly. But I'm still sticking with it! (It's also a crime mystery podcast.) I've also been starting to listen to lifestyle blogger Lauryn Evarts and her husband Michael Bosstick's podcast The Skinny Confidential: Him and Her. Their podcast is pretty open and uncensored, but overall is pretty funny, and they have some entertaining interview guests on it! 
  • Delicious Thai Food: Not a super exciting rambling, but I tried a new Thai restaurant for dinner this week with some new friends from church. It was wonderful!! I don't eat out very much anymore to try and save money, but Burlington and its surrounding towns have a lots of good local restaurants, so I want to start trying more. Thai food is always a win- I think I'll have to take my dad to this place when he visits again in a few weeks!


Purchases:
  • I bought the cutest romper this week! I don't wear a ton of rompers... mainly because I think a lot of them are really skimpy, and kind of inappropriate to wear for anything other than a tropical vacation or a night out. But this one is both comfortable, breathable, and not too tiny on! And it was on sale, so a win-win. The color I bought it in is sold out online, but it is still available in another color!


Wishlist:
  • Thinking towards fall fashion, I really need a new pair of booties! I had a pair of fringe booties that I wore to the ground for the past two seasons, and I finally had to bid them goodbye before my move. I have my eye on these- they're pretty cute. 
  • This fun statement top which would be cute for a girls' night out!
  • This bracelet looks perfect for layering in fall stacks.
  • A cute little wristlet that's on sale!



On the blog this week:

     Thanks as always for reading - happy Wednesday! Tomorrow I'm sharing my second post-move update about life in Vermont. You can check out the first one from June here!


     
     God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

August 7, 2017

Day Off Work Outfit + Things To Do On A Day Off.

     With my new work schedule since coming to Vermont, usually Mondays are my day off! My work schedule is ironically a bit different this week and I'm filling in for a coworker who is on vacation, so I am actually not off today. But I thought it would be fun in today's post to share what some of my summer day-off outfits have been looking like, and the activities that I do to entertain myself on my one-day weekends!


Lauren James Sweet Tee

Preppy Casual Summer look

Lilly Pulitzer Lauren James Preppy

Macaroon Tshirt

Vermont Summer style



Photography by Melissa Lynn Studios 



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







      Unless it's a week that I've had company visiting from out-of-state, I spend most of my days off alone. (I have yet to meet someone else in Vermont who also has regular Mondays off!) It can be kind of nice to bum around in my apartment for the first few hours of the day, but I've found that the whole day can kind of go to waste if I don't get dressed at all or put some effort into my appearance, even if I don't have any big plans! 

   
      This outfit is a perfect example of the type of look that I've been wearing on summer days off. It's a very casual yet preppy Southern look... aka perfect for me but not perfect for Vermont- just how I like it. 😉 I stocked up on a bunch of Lauren James Sweet-Tees in their Pink Friday sale earlier this summer, and these t-shirts are a perfect cute yet casual option for days off. There is a local Lilly Pulitzer signature store here in Burlington called Monelle Vermont, and they've been sponsoring some of the radio events that I've been doing over the past few weeks. Monelle has given myself and another employee different Lilly Pulitzer bottoms to wear each week for our events (and then I trade them back in each week for a new outfit), and I thought this skirt was too cute not to pair with one of my Lauren James tees! I normally gravitate more towards dressier Lilly pieces, but I think in this season's upcoming After Party Sale, I might try and find more casual Lilly attire that would be good for days off! 



      And if you're curious for some of the things that I do on my days off, here is a list of my most popular day-off activities! Some are self-care, some are necessary adulting to-do tasks, and others fall somewhere between both:


  •      Get my nails done
  •      Shoot blog photos - outfit posts w/photographer or lifestyle posts/flat-lays in my apartment 
  •      Schedule upcoming appointments
  •      Catch up on blog "accounting" (recording payments, expenses, etc)
  •      Read a library book
  •      Take a walk by Lake Champlain (weather permitting)
  •      Go to Zumba at my gym
  •      Bake a treat to bring to work the next day
  •      Cook dinner
  •      Go grocery shopping
  •      Clean my bathroom
  •      Do laundry
  •      Watch Netflix
  •      Have calls with brands for upcoming blog collaborations
  •      Plan out my Instagram feed



     Those are probably the main things that I have been doing on Mondays off! I really try and stay away from anything related to my day job in radio, or major blog tasks on Mondays, to give myself one full day to "rest." As you can see, I will sometimes catch up on back-end blog tasks which I don't have time for during the rest of the week on my days off, but I rarely write blog posts on Mondays for example!!


     I've thought about doing a "Day in the Life" post as a radio personality for a post in my Radio 101 blog post series- would that interest y'all? It's probably more exciting than what I do my days off, honestly speaking! 😉







     Happy Monday- thanks so much for reading!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)

August 4, 2017

Life Lesson: Don't "Count Chickens Before They Hatch."

    A week from tonight, I thought I was going to be looking at the beautiful skyline pictured below. Back in one of my very favorite cities, my former home of 4+ years, my beloved Queen City. Instead... I will not be in Charlotte. Because well, life is like that. Today's blog post is a bit more personal, but I wanted to share a few things that have been on my heart lately, and an important life lesson I was reminded of through it all!








      It's no secret that I've been very homesick for Charlotte since moving to Vermont. Although things for the most part have gone well at my job, my personal life has been close to non-existent since I moved, and I really find myself longing for my old life back in the South. I write more about what my transition to Vermont life has been like in my bi-monthly post-move updates (next one coming soon to the blog!), but I think y'all get the hint that it hasn't been an easy transition in my life outside of work.


     I work 6 days a week, and lately I've had a lot of overtime hours as well due to extra radio events happening during the summer season. So between the homesickness and work getting very busy, I'd been feeling very overwhelmed. I'm not able to use PTO until December, but since I am putting in a lot of overtime this month, I decided to see if there was any way that I could take a "mental health long weekend" from work, to take some time for myself, recharge before work gets even crazier before the end of August, and most importantly, make a little trip back to the city that I miss so much. I'll give y'all the short version, but my bosses said YES!! I was so incredibly overjoyed. They totally understood everything I was asking about, which I was so grateful for. They gave me a weekend, and I officially had the dates. I was going "home!"


      The first thing I did was text just about everyone in my phone contacts who still lives in Charlotte, to make sure they were around that weekend. I set up a tentative blog photoshoot with Deeana. I confirmed which nights of the weekend I would stay with which friends. I even explored the option of renting a car, since I wouldn't have my car there (FYI: under-25 driver fees are NO JOKE and that would not have ended up being an option!). I brainstormed how much Southern fast food I could possibly eat in three days. I did ALL OF THIS.... before ever looking at flights or flight prices....


     The next day, I went to book my flight, and I thought that my computer was playing a cruel trick on me. Being originally from Maine, I'm quite familiar with East Coast flight prices, and I know what the average prices are to fly from CLT to New England for holidays, and also for regular times of the year. The prices that I was seeing were more normal for buying a ticket to fly during Christmas at the last-minute... not during a summer month with no holidays! They were INSANE! I had miles with one airline that I was hoping to use, but I didn't realize that miles can't be used for trips booked under 21 days in advance, and this trip just missed that mark, so that option was out to help cut the cost down. For the next 12 or so hours, I searched every possible flight website out there, as well as other airports like Montreal. Everything that I was seeing was depressing, and 100% out of my budget. I've seen flights to places like California and London for cheaper prices than what I was finding from Burlington or Montreal to Charlotte for the weekend that I had off from work! Through all of my travel research, I realized that the airports that I often used to fly out of (Boston and Manchester, NH), are some of the cheapest in New England, and Burlington is often thought of as one of New England's most expensive airports.


     I finally realized the next day that as badly as I wanted to go back to Charlotte, and even though amazingly work had given me a very rare weekend off, it still wasn't meant to be and wasn't going to happen. I have a very entry level salary right now, and about 90% of my paychecks currently go to paying Vermont's extremely high rent prices, as well as my broadcasting school payments. I don't have the type of income where I can throw around money on very overpriced, last-minute flights. And goodness, that was a tough, tough realization that was accompanied by a lot of tears. I felt very stuck and trapped in Vermont that day. Very not happy to be at work, very not happy to be in my apartment, very stuck all around.


      I've since had some time to process everything, and wanted to share a takeaway that I had from this experience: don't count your chickens before they hatch! This of course is the title of the blog post, and has been one of my favorite sayings for a very long time. Obviously I didn't take the advice of this phrase at all in the way that I went about preparing for my weekend off. After ensuring that I had a weekend off, buying the flight to Charlotte was probably the most important part of the whole thing, and yet that was the part that got away from me in my excitement. I jumped ahead to the part about announcing the news of me coming, before there was news to announce!
     This whole failed trip experience reminded me of when I was applying to jobs this past winter, and then later accepting my job here in Vermont. I was so hush-hush during the entire application process, as I didn't want to jinx anything. When I came to Vermont for my interview trip, the only people that knew were my parents, my roommate, and my two broadcasting school directors- that was it! I didn't tell anyone else about the job offer until I had received my employment offer and things were official. And in that case- things turned out well! It seems like every past instance in my life when I have gotten excited and jumped the gun on something, it always falls through before happening.



     I have been seeking comfort in my failed trip experience by trying to remind myself daily of things that I still have to be grateful for, namely the fact that even though I'm not headed to Charlotte, I still get to enjoy my first three day weekend since starting work four months ago! I've also been re-reminded of the fact that although right now feels a lot like I am "stuck" in Vermont, this stage of life is temporary. I didn't make a lifetime commitment to being here, and if I learned anything from the past year, it's that a lot can change in a year! I also have been trying to remind myself that I would always rather be here in Vermont working at this job that I love with my talented and friendly coworkers, rather than in living Charlotte working at a job that I hated, struggling to get into the industry of my dreams.




      Have any of you learned any life lessons or had any great realizations lately? Share with me in the comments- I would love to hear! 😊 Also- I have a survey running right now about upcoming New England (and Vermont!) travel content for the blog. It's only seven questions and takes just a minute or two to complete. If you would take the survey here, I'd be so grateful!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)







August 3, 2017

TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Montreal.

     Montreal is one of Canada's culture-rich gems, and I'm so excited to be sharing a little travel guide to this city here on Southern Belle in Training today!





    Growing up in Maine, I was lucky to travel to the province of Quebec for long weekend trips several times during my childhood, and later high school years. Quebec City is about 6-ish hours from where I grew up in Southern Maine, and Montreal about the same. My mom's side of the family is of French Canadian descent, and I studied French in grade school as well, so I always enjoyed visiting these cities in Canada with my family and getting to see a bit of my heritage. 


       It had been a few years since I'd been anywhere in Quebec when I moved to Vermont, but one thing that I was very excited about with this move was being so close to Montreal! Montreal is just under two hours away from Burlington. It's very doable for a day trip, but if you are able to spend a weekend there you can do so much! My former roommate Ciera was here visiting earlier in July, and I was able to arrange my work schedule for us to spend a night together in Montreal. Originally we were mainly going up there for a concert, but that unfortunately ended up getting cancelled and rescheduled (for this fall) the day of! Since we didn't end up having a show to see, we were able to cram a lot into our 24 hours north of the border!


     Something to keep in mind- you do of course need a passport to visit Montreal! If you're from Vermont of a handful of other states with the Enhanced License program, you can also cross the border by land with your Enhanced Driver's License (which I now have). However- not all states offer an Enhanced License, so be sure to check on what you have and make sure your passport is valid before planning your trip! 



Stay:

     My dad kindly booked our hotel stay at the Residence Inn Marriott Montreal Downtown! Ciera loved the hotel... I thought it had a few pros and also a few cons. Pros: GREAT location! Very walkable to a lot of the downtown attractions, and it was located near several safe residential neighborhoods as well. This hotel also had one of the best free breakfast buffets that I've ever seen! The selection of food was unbelievable, and everything was so delicious. Our room itself was a full suite and even included a mini kitchen, so it was definitely more than big enough for the two of us!
     One major con to this hotel for me though were some serious noise issues. I was awoken at 3 am from a large group of people shouting in the hallway outside our room and slamming their doors. When that noise finally calmed down, someone in the room above us started showering (despite it being 3:30 am?), and the pipes/shower sound was so loud that I couldn't fall back asleep until that all ended. Ciera is a really deep sleeper so she slept through everything, but even after putting earplugs in I was still bothered by the hall noise and the shower sounds from upstairs. I'm not sure I'd want to stay here again after dealing with the noise, but the location, room itself, and breakfast were all great, so if you're a deep sleeper (or bring earplugs and a white noise machine 😉) you could love this hotel!





Eat:

     Being the second largest city in Canada and the largest in the province of Quebec, Montreal has no shortage of delicious food options! Coming from Vermont, where ethnic food options can be few and far between, I like to take advantage of diversity in restaurant choices when I travel! Here are just a few tasty suggestions:


     Bier Markt (1221 Rene-Levesque Blvd. W): If you're looking for beer and Belgian food, this is your destination! I actually ate here with my friend Mercedes when we were in Montreal for an evening a couple months ago for a concert. This restaurant is just a couple of blocks away from the Bell Centre, so it's a great choice for a pre-show or pre-game meal if you're in town to catch an event at the Bell Centre. Bier Market is not surprisingly known for their vast beer selection, but they also have a pretty big menu of Canadian, American, and of course Belgian favorites! I decided to branch out and tried fondue while I was there, and I really enjoyed it!


     Nos Thes (1609 Saint-Catherine St. W): This is a Taiwanese restaurant and tea bar! I am obsessed with most Asian foods, and especially love bubble tea. It's one of my favorite treats to try and find when I travel. Nos Thes did not disappoint! Ciera and I found this place when we were strolling along Saint-Catherine Street, right around the time that we were ready for an afternoon pick-me-up. She ordered a bubble tea, and I had a strawberry bubble tea. We took them to go, and both were just fantastic! The atmosphere of the restaurant part of Nos Thes was very cute and modern- I'm sure it's a great place to enjoy a full meal also.


     3 Amigos (1657 Saint-Catherine St. W): Montreal is probably not a city that you would associate with Mexican food... however Vermont has a real lack of authentic Mexican food, so when Ciera and I walked by this delightful looking restaurant, I knew that my quesadilla cravings needed to be satisfied! We ate there on a weeknight, and it was actually very busy! Both the indoor and outdoor seating areas were bustling. Ciera and I were both so impressed with the food. Both of our entrees were delicious (not surprisingly, I ordered a quesadilla!), and we also split a small pitcher of sangria, which was refreshing and the perfect summer drink. However, we were not impressed with the service. 3 Amigos seemed to be very understaffed for the amount of patrons that they had eating there that night, and our dinner experience took almost two hours. Near the end of the meal, our waiter seemed to forget about bringing the bill to our table, and that is always a frustrating experience. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for the food, but try and go when it's not as busy!


      Tim Hortons: Basically the Dunkin' Donuts of Canada! Is it even a trip North of the Border if you haven't gone here? I had to ensure that Ciera tried her first Tim Hortons during our 24 hours in the city, and there are no shortage of Tim Hortons in Montreal to pick from!





Play:


      I cannot stress enough that there is SO much to do in Montreal! It is definitely a great destination to visit. As I wrote earlier, Montreal is the second largest city in Canada. Its population is actually similar to Houston or Chicago, making it much larger than a lot of Americans think. I had also been to Montreal with my mom when I was in high school, so I'll be sharing some ideas of things to do from what I did during that trip as well! There are so many fun options that you'll want to stay for much more than 24 hours, so if you only do have one night you'll have a hard time deciding what to do! 😉
   

     Explore the Underground City (RESO): Montreal has one of the largest "underground cities" in the world. Meaning that in addition to their metro system, they have tons of other things underneath the city! Everything from malls to restaurants to nightclubs, and even a library! Montreal's underground network is called RESO, and it is 32 km in length. Ciera and I didn't have a chance to go into RESO at all in our overnight trip, but there really is so much to see below ground as well! My mom and I explored a little of this when I went in high school. I think this would be a great thing to explore if you are visiting Montreal during the harsh winters! This website has some great information about Montreal's Underground.


      St. Lawrence River Cruise: This was something else that my mom and I did on our trip several years ago. I love boats and being on water, but I do get seasick so it's hard for me to be on boats in the ocean. That's why I jump on any chance I get to be on boats in rivers or lakes, as there is much less chance of seasickness! Doing a daytime river cruise up and down the St. Lawrence River was such a fun way to take in the Montreal skyline, and enjoy a beautiful day (My mom and I went in mid-August). Here is the website with information about river cruises!


      See a concert or hockey game at the Bell Centre: This was the reason behind my two recent trips to Montreal! Vermont doesn't have any large concert venues, so Montreal is the closest destination to see large-scale shows. A big pro to buying concert tickets in Montreal is the current Canadian-American dollar exchange- it's currently in our favor, so you will save about 20-30% buying concert tickets to see your favorite artist in Canada vs. what you would pay in the US! And if you're more of a hockey fan, you can catch a home game for the Montreal Canadiens during hockey season!


     Shopping on Saint-Catherine Street: I love shopping when I travel. Not just because I love to shop, but because I really think checking out a city or town's local mall or shopping district gives you such a feel for the area! Plus, it's always fun to find some local treasures or new stores that you don't have in your home area. Anyways, Montreal's main shopping street, Rue Saint-Catherine, does not disappoint! You can find everything here, from Canadian department stores, luxurious international brands, familiar American stores, to bargain chains. It's a hub of all kinds of good shopping, with a true city chic feel! When we found out our concert was cancelled, Ciera and I spent most of our night shopping and exploring Saint-Catherine. She picked up some goodies at Canadian store Roots, and I was delighted to find a big location for one of my favorite stores, Zara!







     Visit the Montreal Botanical Gardens (and Biodome!): I am a lover of visiting botanical gardens. It might actually seem a bit ironic as I have approximately 0% of a green thumb myself and tend to kill any plants that I come into contact with, but I definitely appreciate beautiful plans, and love visiting gardens that are full of them! Out of all the botanical gardens that I've been to, the Montreal Botanical Gardens are by far the most fantastic! My mom and I first visited there on our trip several years ago, and I knew that Ciera and I had to go back to explore this amazingly beautiful place. The Montreal Botanical Gardens features over 20 different themed gardens, and is recognized as one of North America's best gardens. If you do only one thing in this whole travel guide, make this the stop that you visit! I promise it will not let you down. Also located very close to the Botanical Gardens is the famous Montreal Biodome. This is a unique nature-based museum that features replicas of four different ecosystems. I did visit the Biodome on my past visit to Montreal and it was great as well, but if you're only in the city for a short time and don't have time for both, I would recommend the Botanical Gardens over the Biodome (if the weather is good!).










   
      And that concludes my 24 hours in Montreal travel guide! I am hoping to make even more trips to explore Montreal while I still live in Vermont! Being just under two hours away from this city definitely is a great perk of living in Burlington.



     To finish off today's post- I have a little blog survey about upcoming travel content which I would be so grateful if you could take! I promise it will take less than five minutes to complete! 😊 I want to make sure that you're all finding the travel content that I write to be interesting and beneficial. Before starting travel posts about my new home in Vermont and some new posts about my hometown in Maine, I would love to hear your thoughts on what type of travel content you would and wouldn't like to see here on Southern Belle in Training! Here is the link to the survey- thank you in advance!!



     God Bless,



     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on the radio!)