September 25, 2017

Top 5 Fall Fashion Essentials.

      The weekend welcomed the fall season, and also officially welcomed all of the beloved fall fashion trends which return each year at this time! (Well "unofficially" welcomed here in Vermont... this weekend and today brought record breaking high temperatures to the Champlain Valley... today is in the high 80s and this girl is NOT complaining! But alas, back to regularly scheduled fall blog programming. 😉) It shouldn't be too much of a surprise based on my love of color and the trends that I gravitate towards that spring and summer fashion as my personal favorites, however living back in New England, I've decided to fully embrace fall style this year!

     In today's blog post, I wanted to share my five personal favorite fall trends with y'all! There are examples of how I've styled these trends from past blog posts. Some pictures are from this year/last year, and some from a few years ago! I thought it would be fun to take a little peak back down blog memory lane, and many of these fall items are still staples in my closet, which goes to show  and current items are linked so that you can shop similar versions that are in stock now!

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1. Riding Boots 

     Most definitely my #1 fall wardrobe favorite- riding boots! Specifically Tory Burch riding boots- which really are a preppy essential. Y'all know that I am very much about affordable fashion on this blog, and there aren't a lot of things that I splurge on. However, Tory Burch riding boots are an absolute splurge! There's just nothing like them. I currently have two pairs, and the pair above I've had since summer 2014, and this past spring (before I moved) they were looking a bit well loved. I brought them to a cobbler in Charlotte to have them touched up, paid about $50... and it was like I had a brand new pair of boots!! All set now for fall in Vermont. If you're able to get a pair of these and invest in them every couple of years, they will last and last and last! So worth it. However, if you aren't quite ready to make the TB investment, I have a few other more affordable pairs linked as well!

2. Ponchos / Capes

     Fun story about how I fell in love with ponchos and capes! So some of you might remember that I worked in retail back home in Maine over summers and holiday breaks every year of college. One Christmas break that I worked at the store, it was exceptionally chilly at work everyday. I get cold very easily, and despite wearing sweaters to work I was still cold. One of my coworkers had this super soft and cozy black cape that she kept in the work closet, and she leant it to me to wear everyday that I had shifts that week. I fell in love with it- not only for the warmth factor, but also because I thought it looked so chic! This was about a year before ponchos and capes really started popping up again as a fashion trend, but I was so excited when they did! I now own a few and love wearing them as an easy addition to wall and winter outfits. Some are linked below, I really love this one and this one

3. Floppy Hats 

     As a little girl, I loved wearing all sorts of crazy hats and headbands. My childhood bestie, Katie, and I have a running joke that it's impossible to find a photo of us as kids where I'm not wearing something interesting on my head! (In one of the best photos of us as little girls, I'm wearing a 1700's style pilgrim bonnet from a history museum gift shop with my capri pants and sparkly t-shirt...? Who would have guessed I'd become a fashion blogger someday?!) Anyways, I think my hat obsession as a younger kid scared me away from them in high school, and I was pretty anti-hats for many years. 
     But then in college, my love for them returned in full force, and I'm so glad it did (just not for the pilgrim bonnets)! I think a nice floppy hat for fall looks so chic and can easily elevate even a casual outfit. I buy most of my fall hats at Forever 21. They have a wide variety every season, they're priced very well, and the quality isn't bad at all! Sadly there aren't any F21's near Vermont, but luckily for me I have a ton of fall hats from previous seasons. 😉 I've linked many of my current favorites from there and other stores below: 

4. Fall Statement Earrings

     First off- I just realized the above photo is from a past summer blog post instead of fall-oops. Clearly I need to get better about taking close-up pictures of the statement earrings that I wear, haha! Anyways, hot summer days sometimes makes it hard to break out heavy jewelry, so as the weather gets cooler again, it gets easier to be bolder with accessories! I absolutely love wearing fun and bold statement earrings. Sadly it's harder for me to wear them to work, as heavy earrings and radio headphones don't match too well as far as earlobe pressure goes, but I love wearing them outside of work, and it's even more of a win when I can find a lightweight pair that doesn't bother me with headphones on! For this fall, I'm really loving these and these.

5. Puffer Vest 

     Another throwback SBIT post right here!! (#TBT to my little digital camera... it was a good two year run together for blog photos!) Anyways, this is a closet essential of mine that I don't wear too much in my blog outfits, hence why I had to dig back three years for a photo! But nonetheless, I do often wear throughout the fall and winter in everyday or athleisure looks. A good puffer vest is great to have for layering and warmth purposes! These days they come in so many colors and patterns, and they can add a fun touch. I purchased this really cute one for this season, and I'm hardcore crushing on this pink vest

     Now I want to hear from you! Year after year, what are your favorite fall trends that you keep wearing? Do we share any in common? 

     Hope you're having a great Monday! Even though today's post was all about fall fashion, today I'm feeling late summer vibes! This morning before work I'm headed to the lake with a friend to enjoy the warmth and sunshine and I CAN'T WAIT! 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (aka Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 21, 2017

FALL TV IS BACK!! My 2017 Fall TV Guide.

     Next Monday begins the thing that I was most excited for about this fall season... FALL.TV.IS.BACK!!! I have never been a big movie buff- TV has always been more my thing! Ever since I was a little girl, I've always had "my shows" that I get very loyal to. Funny story- up until when I was in high school, my parents only had the most basic cable package, so we only got about 20 channels (just the networks, public access, and a few shopping channels). For years, I used to get so frustrated that I couldn't watch all of the cable shows that my friends were, and I would beg my parents to upgrade our cable package. My wish finally came true during Christmas 2009! On Christmas Eve day, a cable guy showed up at our door holding a brand new cable box. I was the one who opened the door for him, and when I saw what he was holding I started screaming and crying. I think I scared the poor guy- I don't think he usually had a reaction like that when he arrived to houses! 😉 Anyways- that was one of my favorite Christmases that I can ever remember. 

     Needless to say, I'm a TV girl through and through, but with that said, I can be picky about the types of shows that I get hooked on. Minus the Bachelor/ette, I don't really watch reality TV as I think most of it is kind of mindless. The shows that I do fall in love with I generally stay very loyal to. So I'm excited to day to bring you my first (annual?) Fall TV Guide! Sharing my favorite returning shows, and new ones that I'm interested to watch. Most of these shows are just on the major networks as that's the majority of what I watch now (my early high school cable obsessed self would be quite disappointed with me- ha!), but perhaps at some point I'll share some cable picks as well. 

     I decided to organize this post by first writing in a bit of detail about the shows that I'm excited to watch that are both returning and new, and then sharing when they're on with a schedule graphic!

Returning Shows:

     The Big Bang Theory (CBS): Not at all ashamed to admit that my love for this show is endless. I've seen every single episode, and it's a rare show that I can watch endless reruns for, and never get sick of. This year the show is returning for Season 11, and amazingly I don't think that it has "jumped the shark" yet! While the earlier seasons hold a special place in my heart, many of my personal favorite episodes are from later seasons.
     If you're unfamiliar with the premise of The Big Bang Theory, the show originally centered around two scientist roommates, Sheldon and Leonard, and their interactions with their next-door neighbor Penny, who was a new California transplant pursuing a career in acting. The show has definitely seen some changes since Season 1 and also introduced great new characters, but thankfully for comedic purposes Sheldon's eccentric personality and sense of humor has remained the same!

     Great News (NBC): This was a new show on NBC that debuted in Winter 2017 for a short season, and I was delighted to see that it was renewed for Season 2! This quirky comedy is produced by Tina Fey, and now that I've started watching 30 Rock on Netflix I can see some similarities in the humor between the two shows. Great News focuses on Katie Wendelson, who is a news producer for an evening news program in New Jersey. Her mother is going back to school and ends up taking an interest in communications, and takes an internship at Katie's station. The other news people that Katie works with are quite the characters to begin with, and all in all this is a very cute comedy. I especially get a kick out of it since I went to broadcasting school last year, and a lot of the curriculum was focused on TV news, so I feel like while the situations that the characters are in during the show are exaggerated for comedic affect, the way that the newsroom functions in the show is actually quite accurate and brings back some broadcasting school memories!

     Jane the Virgin: (The CW): Normally I can tell pretty quickly if I like or dislike a TV show. Jane was quite an exception to my normal viewing habits, and I'm so happy that I gave it a second try! I finished the first season on Netflix a couple years ago and actually didn't like it. I liked the idea behind the show, but I found the plot twists to be too hard to follow and weirdly unrealistic. However, I gave Season 2 a try... and fell in love!! Season 3 was just as good, and now it's one of my favorite shows!
     As you can probably guess from the title, Jane the Virgin follows the life of a young woman named Jane, who has chosen to wait until she's married to have sex (and I love seeing a character on a network TV show in 2017 with these beliefs!). In the first episode of the show, due to an extreme medical mishap she becomes artificially inseminated. In short, the show follows Jane's journey to motherhood... but also the crazy drama between the baby's father's family, Jane's love life, her family, and also a whole crime mystery plot with other characters as well!

      Star (Fox): I think this is probably the most underrated show on TV right now, and if I can do anything to change this I absolutely will! Like Great News, this show premiered midseason last year. Star follows three young women who move to Atlanta to pursue their dreams of making it in the music industry as a girl group (think a modern-day TLC). The show might sound a bit fluffy from its basic description, but that couldn't be further from the truth! Star is extremely raw and gritty, and tackles a lot of issues head-on such as rape, racial tensions, poverty, LGBTQ issues, drug addiction, and much, much more! The lead actresses in this show are also very gifted musically, and I think they do an incredible job with the songs featured in the show (I've added many of them to my Spotify playlists!).
     I think this show does a great job of portraying serious issues that are affecting our culture today, while also keeping viewers' interest with the underlying theme of the girls trying to succeed and break into the music industry. I'm so happy that Star got a second season, and I hope it'll be just as good as the first!

New Shows:

     Young Sheldon (CBS): I love The Big Bang Theory so much that I was absolute delighted to hear that it was getting a PREQUEL for the 2017/2018 season! Ahh!! Young Sheldon will follow the adventures of Sheldon Cooper as a child genius growing up in small-town Texas. On The Big Bang Theory, we've been given little insights into Sheldon's childhood over the seasons, so as an enthusiastic fan of the main show, I can't wait to go "all-in" in the spin-off! I hope that it will be just as funny and entertaining. The first episode premieres next week, but the second won't air until November, when The Big Bang Theory moves to its normal Thursday time slot!

     The Mayor (ABC): This is a new comedy which I'm excited about! A struggling small-town hip hop artists decides to run for mayor to promote his latest mixtape... which seems like a great promotion strategy until he wins the election! I was a big Parks and Rec fan after watching that on Netflix last year, so I hope The Mayor will deliver similar small town political laughs! (Plus- just reading the words "small town hip hop artist" brings back memories of that one aspiring rapper from my high school.... wonder how his career turned out? 😉)

     9JKL (CBS): This comedy will follow a newly divorced actor, who moves home to New York City, and into an apartment that's next-door to both his parents, and his brother's family. I obviously love The Big Bang Theory which is a CBS comedy, and I am also a huge How I Met Your Mother fan, which aired on the same network, so I'm willing to give this new CBS comedy a try for a few episodes!


     Now I want to hear from you! Which new or returning TV shows are you excited for this fall? Do we share any TV loves in common? I'd also love to hear if you love a TV show that I'm not watching!! In addition to my own TV favorites, I read a lot online about TV to talk about on the radio, so this is a subject that I love to discuss. 😊 If y'all enjoyed this blog post, I'm happy to do a Midseason TV Guide type post when some new shows premiere in early 2018!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)



September 20, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{Throwback to a favorite fall shoot from last year with Deeana Kourtney Photography! Follow me on social media @miss_alk!}

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  • Weekend recap: It has been such a blessing to have my work hours recently switch from Mondays off to instead working half days Saturday and then having Sundays off! I finally feel like I am able to enjoy weekends, and also make plans with new friends, which is helping me to feel a little more settled in Vermont. This weekend was filled the perfect balance of relaxation and fun, and also lots of sunshine. The weather was a whopping 80 degrees and sunny both days (which was warmer than it was for a lot of the summer!), and I tried my best to enjoy it! I stopped by a local apple orchard after work on Saturday to pick up fresh apples from the farm store, and baked apple muffins with them for breakfast on Sunday. I also went to the movies to see the new Reese Witherspoon movie (which was SO cute!), and enjoyed time at the lake with some people in my bible study on Sunday afternoon. Bible study starts back up this week after a two month break, and I'm really looking forward to that.
  • Back to reading: Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, and after moving to Vermont I started reading for fun again a lot more! With an unexpectedly busy month at work in August, reading and some of my other favorite home hobbies had to be put on the back burner, as most nights that I was getting home I was too tired to do anything (and too busy to make library trips!). Luckily this month, I've been able to start reading again! Not quite at the ferocious pace that I was reading at earlier this summer, but I've been reading a couple chapters of something every night before bed, and it's a wonderful way to relax. I think this will be a permanent addition to my bedtime routine on weeknights! 
  • Ultimate One Hit Wonders list: One of my musical guilty pleasures are 90s and early 2000s one hit wonders. This list from Buzzfeed is quite the round-up of them- some musical gems on here!! Take a listen to some of these songs if you need a little #tbt action this week! 

  • No fun purchases again this week, minus getting my nails done! However I do have some packages arriving soon for October's fashion collaborations on the blog which I'm so excited to receive! And I just saw today that my After Party Sale purchases have finally charged to my card- so they should be shipping soon. I swear I've never had to wait this many weeks to receive an APS package before! 

  • These block heels are in such a fun and unexpected color that would pop against fall outfits!
  • How funny is this travel mug? Would be perfect for those rough mornings at work- ha!
  • Some very chic over-the-knee boots that come in three colors, and are under $100!!
  • Y'all know I'm not the biggest fan of rompers but HOW CUTE is this one? (FYI it's an online exclusive!) I love the pattern and it looks pretty modest as far as rompers go!
  • One thing that I want to keep adding to my closet to survive winter in Vermont are brightly colored sweaters! I love color in my wardrobe and don't want to lose sight of that during the long winter. This cute sweater comes in several colors (I love the hot pink!)

On the blog this week:

     Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday! I'm extra excited about tomorrow's blog post- I'm diving into one of my favorite things here on the blog!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese (aka Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 19, 2017

TRAVEL GUIDE: 24 Hours in Lake Placid.

     A couple weekends ago, one of my new friends and I decided to go on an impromptu overnight trip to the village of Lake Placid, NY! This Adirondack Mountains village is the former home to two Winter Olympic Games, and is just two hours away from Burlington, Vermont. The village itself has a small main street district, and is located right on scenic Mirror Lake. While it could easily be a day trip, if you are able to spend one night then you will definitely be able to see most things that the area has to offer. Due to a large sporting event that we didn't know the town was hosting, our trip plans ended up taking a different turn than we expected, but we still enjoyed a delightful weekend away in the Adirondacks! This was a trip where I decided to take a break for being in "blogger mode" and I left both my laptop and DSLR at home- so this post is iPhone photography only. 😊 Read on for my Lake Placid recommendations:

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      Lake Placid might be in the same state as New York City, but fashion-wise this little town could not be more different! This little village is very rustic, quiet, and outdoorsy focused, so this isn't the type of trip to pack your super trendy clothes for. 😉 The weather was in the 60s and chillier at night when Anna and I were there, so I packed a pair of older dark skinny jeans that I've had for awhile, sneakers for hiking, a favorite flannel {similar here}, and this favorite sweater, which is from last year but still in stock


      My friend Anna and I stayed at the Best Western Adirondack Inn. Since we booked this trip only a few days in advance, and the early fall season can be a peak time to visit Upstate NY, a lot of the other hotel properties located right in the Village of Lake Placid were already booked or had very high rates for the weekend that we were able to visit. The Best Western Adirondack Inn had a rate that was pretty affordable to be split between the two of us, and the location of the hotel ended up being just ideal! This hotel is located directly on Main Street in Lake Placid, and it's across the street from the Olympic Museum and Ice Arena. Just about everything in town is in walking distance (restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, etc). Due to the fact that the roads were closed in town for the sporting event on Sunday while we were there, Anna and I spent most of the day walking and exploring town, and we were able to do so easily from the hotel location! The hotel had clean rooms, comfortable beds, and a decent breakfast buffet. There was also a nice looking indoor pool, however we weren't able to take advantage of that on this trip. While this isn't a "luxury" hotel, I would definitely consider staying at this Best Western again if I'm back in Lake Placid!


     This ended up being the best surprise about the weekend. The food in Lake Placid was WONDERFUL! After the fantastic meals that we had, I was kind of sad that we only had the chance to try a couple restaurants since it was such a short trip. Here are the places that we enjoyed eating at:

    Dancing Bears (2404 Main Street): Dancing Bears Restaurant is located right on Main Street and has nice views of Mirror Lake. It had great Trip Advisor ratings, so Anna and I decided to give it a try, and we were not disappointed! Their menu offers a variety of standard American favorites as well as a few local options. I tried a few things from the appetizer menu for dinner: the local cheese plate and the chili. (If you know me well you know that I can never resist a cheese plate, especially when I travel!) I enjoyed both very much, and the cheese plate was so big that I actually couldn't finish it- always the best problem to have! We both ended up being too full for dessert- and I'm rarely one to pass up dessert so that was a good sign.

     Stewart's Shops (2711 Main Street #1): Stewart's Shops is a popular regional gas station chain in Upstate New York (I heard they have some locations in VT as well- however there aren't any in the Burlington area). My best friend from high school, Jules, vacations each summer in the Adirondacks not too far from Lake Placid, and has told me about Stewart's Shops and the following that it has by those from this part of NY. The Stewart's convenience stores have ice cream shops inside of them. In Lake Placid, I knew I had to get my first taste of their ice cream when there was one in walking distance of our hotel! The inside of the convenience store reminded me a little bit of a small version of Cook-Out or Steak and Shake from the south. 😊 I ordered my go-to, a chocolate malt shake, and it was the best milkshake I've had since moving up North! Stewart's Shops could be a fun quick stop for a frozen treat!

      Coff E Bean (2527 Main Street, inside Alpine Mall): We needed a pick-me-up before our drive home on Sunday, so we decided to go to local favorite Coff E Bean instead of Starbucks! This cute little coffee bar is super tiny, but located right on the lake, with a gorgeous back porch that customers can enjoy their beverages out on. We both ordered chai lattes and enjoyed them almost as much as the beautiful Mirror Lake views!

     Lisa G's (6125 Sentinel Road): Lisa G's had been recommended to both Anna and I separately about the Lake Placid area, so we knew this was a must-visit for us! And it was fantastic! Lisa G's describes their menu as "creative American fare with global twists," and I think this was a fair description! I ordered one of the more creative lunch options and went with the Korean beef and rice bowl. It was absolutely incredible, and I think I had cleaned my plate completely bare in less than 10 minutes. I know I'll be eating at Lisa G's again if I'm back in Lake Placid!


      Take in the Olympic Games Attractions: Lake Placid is most famous for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games! Many of the locations where various sports held their competitions are still maintained and in-use today, and used for things like figure skating or skiing competitions. Other sights have become part of the Olympic Museum in the area. The most affordable way to see all of the Olympic sights in the Lake Placid region is the purchase the Olympic Sights Passport- which allows admission into all of sights, and 20% off select activities. Anna and I debated between doing this pass or just doing the Olympic Museum (which was across the street from our hotel).... however we didn't realize when we planned our trip that all of the Olympic sights were closed the weekend that we visited, due to a huge Ironman Triathlon that was happening through the town of Lake Placid all-day Sunday (it was so huge that all of the main roads in town were closed as well!). So sadly we didn't get a chance to see any of the Olympic sights on this trip. But I think it is cool that so many of them are well maintained and normally available for visits!

     Adirondack Scenic Railroad: There is a scenic railroad with stops through many towns in the Adirondacks, including one in Lake Placid! Anna and I found the website for it, and considered doing this for our Sunday activity when we found out about the Olympic sights closures. However- this must not have been our weekend... we next found out that the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is closed for the 2017 season due to a legal situation! Hopefully that will be resolved for future years as it did sound like a really fun activity, but of course we didn't get to do that either- haha!

      Hiking: THIS is the activity that we ended up doing with our Sunday! 😊 Since Lake Placid is located smack in the gorgeous Adirondack mountains, there is tons of hiking around for all skill levels. Anna and I did a local hike in the neighboring town of North Elba called Cobble Hill, which was about one mile each way. It ended up being a bit steeper and a bigger workout than we anticipated, so it was a great hike! The views at the top were wonderful. Giant Mountain and Whiteface Mountain in neighboring towns are larger mountains which are recommended for more experienced hikers!

      Kayak Rentals: There are lots of opportunities to rent kayaks and explore Mirror Lake (the lake in Lake Placid) or the nearby Saranac Lake. This probably wouldn't be a good winter activity, but would be great for a visit in summer/fall! Trip Advisor had several forums all about the different rental and guide companies in the towns in this area.

    Stop, slow down.... and breath: Lake Placid has a real rustic charm and slow pace to it. It's quite different from anywhere that I've visited before! Both Anna and I have been to Gatlinburg, TN before, and agreed that is probably the most similar (since both are small mountain vacation towns), however we also agreed that Gatlinburg is very touristy and almost a little "fake" seeming compared to a place like Lake Placid. Lake Placid has a very old-school feel to it, and a calming, rustic feel. It's the type of place to escape to when you want to slow down and disconnect. Even though we weren't able to go through with our original plans of seeing the Olympic sights, we still had a great time of walking around, eating, and hanging out. And this was the perfect place to do that!

Still had to get a picture in front of the Olympic Arena! (I grew up as a competitive figure skater so this was very cool for me!)

Cobble Hill hike views.

      I hope that you enjoyed my 24 Hours in Lake Placid Travel Guide! Earlier this summer I wrote a 24 Hours in Montreal Travel Guide. Being a newbie in the radio industry, I don't get much time off in my first year of work (and work a 6 day a week schedule currently), so 24 hour mini-road trips are kind of the majority of the traveling that I'll be doing for the time being, but I think these guides are fun to put together. I hope to do more of them in coming months for new-to-me destinations around Burlington! 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 18, 2017

Styling a Cozy Sweater.

     Like it or not, New England's frigid winter temperatures will be here before long! They often arrive well before the formal start of the winter season, so I'm already doing some inventory in my closet for winter fashion pieces that I'll need, and ways to restyle things that I already have. I recently got this cozy sweater that I'm wearing in today's post, and I know this outfit will be great for any early chilly days that head to Vermont! 

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography 

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

      I had scheduled this blog post for today a few weeks ago... but it is ironic that I'm publishing it on this Monday as Northern Vermont is coming off of a gorgeous weekend filled not only with sunshine, but also 80 degree temperatures!! Let me repeat- two days of 80 degree temps in mid September! That is warmer than it was for a lot of summer here... what a glorious weekend it was! I'll be sharing a bit about what I did to enjoy it in this week's Midweek Ramblings post on Wednesday. Anyways- onto this outfit, which I know sadly I will be wearing sooner rather than later with the way weather changes here! 

       In the winter or cool end of fall, it can be easy to start to get lazy with fashion. Gone are adorable sundresses and fun summer patterned dress pants, and it's onto what can seem like an endless cycle of sweaters. My job is so casual attire-wise that I want to make sure not to fall into the boring 6+ months trap of wearing an oversized sweater, jeans, and snow boots to work everyday! That wouldn't be very fashion blogger of me. I know that the long cold season up here will be a challenge to my fashion sense- but I'm up for it! 😉 My hope is to wear a lot of outfits like this one- looks that are still warm and cozy, but also trendy and cute.

      This grey sweater is one of the warmest things in my closet right now!! I was pretty hot when shooting this, but I know I'll be so thankful for this once the snow arrives. I highly recommend it if you live in a cold state, or have a ski vacation planned for this winter! My mom surprised me with this pretty plaid scarf this summer which is on sale now!! If you're looking for a great scarf for the upcoming months- grab this one now while it's marked down. And I love these faux leather leggings! I bought them last season and they're back for this year too and fully in stock.

    Are you already thinking about your cold weather wardrobe like I am? What's on your must-buy list?

     I'm excited for the rest of the month's posts on Southern Belle in Training! Stay tuned for some fun ones on the way, starting tomorrow!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 15, 2017

Radio 101: Why Do I Hear The Same Songs Over and Over On The Radio?

      Since beginning my career in radio, there is one question that I've been asked far more than others. "Why does the radio play the same 5/10/15/20 songs OVER and OVER and OVER?" And then that question is usually followed up with ones like "Don't they know there's other good music? Don't the radio personalities get sick of the same songs? Are you the one picking the same songs?" For this month's Radio 101 blog post, I'm going to be breaking down the mystery surrounding airplay, especially in the Top 40 (technical term being Contemporary Hit Radio, or "CHR") format. I work mainly in CHR radio, so my perspective is best on this format, but some of the things that I'll be explaining in today's post could definitely be applied to other formats of "current" radio, like Contemporary Christian or Country Hits radio.

      I think there is a huge misconception in radio that DJs like myself pick all the songs that play! That couldn't be further from the truth. (Just like you probably were... I was also quite tired this summer of hearing Despacito and I'm The One every 30 mins!) Just about all radio stations these days use computer software that communicates with the broadcasting equipment, and then plays the songs in the day's playlist over the air. To start at the beginning, I'll explain a bit about how music is played on the radio these days. My company uses a music software called NextGen, which is a popular one. This is the same software that I learned how to use in broadcasting school in their studios, so I found this convenient when I began my job! Anyways, NextGen is the program on our station computers that our commercials, songs, and talk breaks are loaded into. It then produces a visual log, and a countdown clock, so that I when I'm live at work I can see the songs and commercials that are up next, what time my talk breaks are at, and how long I have to talk (sometimes it's just a few seconds!).

      Now you're probably wondering how the music gets into our NextGen program! That's the job of the station's Program Director, which is the radio term for a manager/supervisor/boss. (In larger radio stations or markets, there will also be an Assistant Program Director, or a Music Director, for each station who might be more in charge of music scheduling. But in smaller markets like where I am in Vermont, the Program Director wears a lot of hats!) The PD's job is to schedule each week's music into NextGen or whichever type of software the station uses, and to do so according to industry standards for the type of station that it is. This probably varies from radio station to radio station, but music gets loaded anywhere from a few days to over a week in advance. That means when I come into the studio for work each day, I can have access to seeing the whole log (playlist) for that day, or even upcoming days in advance, as in when which songs will play at what times!

     DJs can override NextGen's prescheduling to some extent. When I get listener requests, I can move songs around or delete songs so that listeners can hear their requests within the hour. Generally speaking, we aren't supposed to mess with the log of songs that much though.... because of what I'm about to talk about next!

     So now that you know how music plays at the radio station, let's talk about the actual music! So often in CHR radio (or other formats with their top songs), it seems like only the same 10 songs play over and over and over, with little variety. Radio playlists are made up primarily by what songs are charting high nationally on the song charts in the genre of the radio station, but how do those songs make up the charts and gain popularity in the first place? The charts and brand new music are both influenced directly be record labels, and their reps. Each major artist today that is getting a lot of radio airplay is represented by a huge record label. You might recognize some of the names of the top record labels: Columbia, Def Jam, Interscope, RCA... the list goes on! These record companies (and many more smaller ones) represent the top musicians in the country right now. Selling music and selling an artist is a type of sales job, so the record labels employ reps that work as traveling salespeople, and visit with radio station Program Directors around the country, trying to get them to pick up new songs from their artists that fit the genre of the radio station.

       The Program Directors for both stations that I work for are visited frequently by reps of the record labels. Considering that I work in a small market all the way in Northern Vermont... I can only imagine that Program Directors in large city markets get visited even more frequently, and that there's even more pressure to play the songs that the labels are pushing! If an artist with the immense popularity of someone like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or Rihanna releases new music, you can almost guarantee it will get Top 40 airplay immediately, as artists like these have an enormous presence in the industry and a huge fan base. Songs by established artists like these often don't take long to shoot to the top of the charts. However, it's with newer and up and coming artists where radio airplay can vary regionally. A record label might focus a lot on getting a new artist into certain markets where they think that person would appeal first. For example, Aaron Carter had a comeback album that came out this winter. My boss played the first hit single from the album for a good few months on the main station that I work for, as did a few other CHR stations across the country. However, this song didn't quite chart nationally (although it was a very good song!). There were also a few up and coming artists who you would hear on Charlotte's radio stations- often people who would be brought in to do concerts or meet and greets since that's a larger market. But those artists have since faded and I've never heard them played once in Vermont. It probably means that their record label was heavily targeting Charlotte.

       Now as far as how often songs are played on the radio- that varies as you can expect by what's big on the charts! The Program Director will schedule music for that day and week by putting what's at the top of the charts in heavy rotation. The top songs in the country (on the radio charts- different from the Spotify/streaming charts) you will be hearing in heavy rotation in CHR radio, usually once an hour with the top five songs. Throughout the day, older, formally popular songs will also play to mix things up, which are either "Recurrents" or "Golds" - depending on their age. A recurrent is a song that was at the top of the charts in the last 1-2 years, so it's something that people are still recently very familiar with. Two recurrents on my station right now are from early 2017- "Let Me Love You" by Justin Bieber and "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit. A "Gold" is a song that's a few years old or even older, a "classic" if you will that everyone knows when it comes on, and that was at the top in its heyday. A few popular Golds in CHR radio are "Yeah!" by Usher, "Toxic" by Britney Spears and "Umbrella" by Rihanna.

      How often Recurrents and Golds play each day depends on the Program Director and radio company, and the flavor of the station. Before my station relaunched in August, we were playing a lot of brand new music and more recurents, but less golds. Now with our rhythmic hip hop lean, we play two golds an hour! I don't remember the station that I interned for in Charlotte playing that many golds at all, but they were a large market.

     Sorry if this post is a bit wordy- but I hope that it helped you to understand a bit about the mysteries of why some songs play more than others in certain genres of radio! Even though I went to broadcasting school last year and had radio internships, a lot of the record label politics and such were things I didn't learn about until starting my job this spring. I hope most of all what comes across through these monthly Radio 101 posts is how much I love the field of radio and love sharing what I know  and work with everyday with others!

      Feel free to send any radio related questions for next month's Radio 101 post! Have a wonderful weekend!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (aka Charlotte XO on-air!)


September 14, 2017

The Ideal Work to Date Night Look.

      Versatile outfits are a girl's best friend for weekdays! In the adult world, date night (or after work drinks with girlfriends) often happens after a long day at work, and you might not have time to swing home and put on a whole new outfit first! Where I'm working on developing more of a social life in Vermont this fall, aka becoming less of a hermit after work and instead getting out and spending time with new friends (and dating too!), I wanted to share what I think would be the perfect work to date night look for early fall.

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography 

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

     Here is the look all set for work- and yes, I really did wear this to work the day Amanda and I took these photos! (Except instead of these nude heels, I wore my favorite brown flats, since radio is a super casual work environment). If you do work in a more business casual environment, you could swap out skinny jeans for a pair of dark skinny dress pants and the look would still be great! A dressed up camisole top under a statement tweed blazer makes a great option for a workday look. This outfit made me feel poised and powerful both on-air and at my desk! I did keep the long tassel earrings on for work again since my job is casual, but if you work in a more formal environment, maybe try a pair of chic studs instead.

     And now the workday is done- it's time for date night or girls' night! Take off that blazer and let those shoulders breath a bit! The embroidery on this top is gorgeous and it needs its own moment to shine. I love my new Tory Burch Parker tote- it was a birthday gift from my parents (Thanks mom and dad for reading my wishlist posts here on the blog! 😊) It's the ideal work bag, but also not too corporate looking, so you can take it out to a restaurant or bar for Happy Hour after work. 

     What does your ideal work to date night outfit look like? Are you also a fan of outfits that easily transition from the office to play? 

     Hope that y'all are having a great week! Tomorrow is this month's Radio 101 post on the blog- catch up on last month's here in the meantime! I think y'all will really like tomorrow's post- it's a question I've gotten asked all the time since starting work in radio. 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 13, 2017

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{A throwback to one of my trips home to Maine this summer- this is one of my favorite spots in my hometown!} 

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


  • Spontaneous Weekend Trip: This weekend, a new girlfriend from my church and I ventured across Lake Champlain and into the Adirondack Mountains of New York, for a little trip to the Olympic Village of Lake Placid! Lake Placid is only about two hours from Burlington, and was the home to two different Winter Olympics. We were hoping to see some of the Olympic sights... unfortunately, there was a large Ironman triathlon happening in the downtown while we were there, so everything Olympics related was closed in honor of that. Goes to show that a little planning can be useful for spontaneous trips! We were still able to make the best of things and have fun- I'm happy to share a mini Lake Placid travel guide soon on the blog!
  • Fall Routine: Now that I am finally starting to settle into my new hours at work, I am beginning to settle into somewhat of a new routine. I don't go to work until 11-11:30 now, so I have my mornings free. Next week I'm planning to start going to the gym a couple mornings a week, and focusing on cleaning/apartment tasks/blogging backend work during the other mornings. I am able to be most productive when I stick to a schedule. My bible study and favorite Fall TV shows also come back later this month, and I'm ready for both of those things!
  • Meh Week: With that said above- I have felt a bit off-schedule and out of my groove for the past couple of weeks. I'm not sure if it's the changing of seasons, a change in work hours/responsibilities, the fact I didn't have a great birthday this year... or a variety of all of these. I've gotten out of my earlier bedtime schedule, and also just been all around feeling less productive at home. It's kind of been a tough few weeks in all honesty, and I'm hoping that next week with focusing on productivity and positivity, my mood will improve! Has anyone else been feeling all around kind of weird lately? 


  • I actually didn't buy anything this week (don't even think I went grocery shopping...) Minus my weekend in Lake Placid, it wasn't a very exciting work week- haha! 


  • The ideal casual top for fall and winter! I think this would look really cute with a statement necklace or blanket scarf, and it comes in a few colors. 
  • I haven't bought a lot of makeup this year, as I been receiving more to test from PR gifts, and also been trying to use up products that I already had! But when browsing Ulta's website recently I came across this palette- I think it would be great for work makeup looks, just enough shimmer and color for the office! 
  • I've been trying to decorate my apartment for fall in the last week or two. I recently went to a few local stores to look at fall wreaths... but I was shocked by how expensive wreaths are! That might be something that I go without for this fall season- haha. While browsing online for inspiration I fell in love with this one though- I think it looks so Southern! 
  • I love this color green for fall for a top- so chic! And the price on this is not bad at all.
  • Florals don't have to be just for summer! This dress is stunning for fall.

On the blog this week:

     Here's to having a happier and more exciting rest of the week! Sorry if today's post wasn't too exciting... but I always strive to be honest here on the blog, and truth be told not all weeks are super exciting. 😊 

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on-air!)

September 11, 2017

#GirlBoss Outfit + 5 Blogging Truths I've Learned in 5 Years.

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography

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     These hot pink pants were one of my favorite clearance rack finds this year! I found them in Montreal this summer at Zara, which is one of my favorite stores (and becoming one of my favorite ones to shop internationally!). They're such a bright and fun color, and have a unique style to them, so I knew I needed to add them to my closet. Fashion blogging doesn't always mean #basic! When I put together this outfit, all that I could think was the term "Girl Boss." Quite honestly this is a term that I think is a bit overused these days and I don't use much myself, but nothing else came to mind to describe this outfit! 😉

      If I had a business casual job, this is the type of outfit that I would try to wear most days! When I interned for my broadcasting school last year, I had to wear business casual clothes to work, and I loved putting together fun and chic outfits like this. I hope that I might have a future radio job in a city where I can go to more blogging events and meetings, and have a chance to wear more cute dressier outfits for things that aren't my day job- haha! 

      Now to talk blogging! As some of y'all know, last week was my 5th blogiversary (!!). This year's blogiversary post was mostly focused on facts about me and general facts about the blog, not about blogging itself. Five years is a long time to consistently stick with doing something, and an especially long time to see a hobby go from being just a creative outlet to a second job! Anyways, while I would never claim to be an expert on blogging (I am still learning new things about the industry and running my blog every day!), there are a few things about blogging, branding, and personal image that I have picked up in the last five years, and I wanted to share those with you today! I know some of these things y'all might agree or disagree with me on, I'd love to hear your thoughts either way in the comments!

     1. Your blog is a sacred space - be very selective and careful about accepting guest posters. I receive inquiries for paid (and even more unpaid) guest posters and contributors for this blog all the time. Truth be told, probably on a daily basis! While I used to accept some of the paid ones back in the early days of SBIT, that is long over. With blogging for so long now, my blog is my sacred space. This is my creative venture that is all mine and I have built it to what it is! I wanted the voice on here to be uniquely mine. There is plenty of room on the world wide web for other voices and perspectives. People visit Southern Belle in Training because they want to hear my perspective on fashion, faith, travel and life, and that's a huge honor that I don't take lightly!! I would occasionally consider having a wonderful blogging friend guest post for me if a situation arose in my life that prevented me from blogging for a week or two... but other then that, my blog is my space for my writing and will remain that. (I actually am in the works right now of writing a very special blog post with a college friend of mine, but I think this is the first time in years someone else other than me has helped write a post!)

     2. Make friends with other bloggers! Can't stress this one enough! When I first started blogging during my freshman year of college, I remember thinking it would be so cool to make a good friend through the internet from blogging. I have certainly outdone my freshman year self's expectations by a lot! I have met some of the most hard-working, determined, beautiful inside and out women from the blogging community, and I'm blessed to call so many friends! Most cities across the country have blogging communities of some sort- if you live near any other bloggers, I encourage you to meet them and network! One of the things that I miss the most in Vermont are all the fun blogging events and my favorite ladies from Charlotte. I know though that many more blogging friendships will be in store in the future, and I'm trying to keep fostering the relationships that I have now! 

      3. Prioritize photography. When I first received a DSLR camera from Christmas from my parents in 2014, I started taking blogging much more seriously that I had been. My new camera motivated me to post more regularly each week, do more fashion content, learn about photography, and through all of that, I was growing my social media following slowly but steadily and starting to get monthly sponsored opportunities! When I began working regularly with photographers on my blog, all of these things only increased. I follow some blogs that do use stock photography or iPhone photography exclusively, and great writing can be great writing, so photography isn't necessarily a do-all, end-all. However, blogs are a very visual medium, and most of my favorite blogs have stunning, original photography. Photography is a way that you can get very creative and tailored to the visions that you have for your brand, and I love having fun with it. I've been very lucky to work with some great photographers, and I also have fun still shooting some of my own non-fashion posts and iPhone pics for Instagram! 


       4. Respond to emails and DMs in a timely manner. I'll be the first to say that I'm not always the best at doing this (especially since beginning working full time, and since up until recently I did work both Saturdays and Sundays at my day job), BUT it's something that I do strive to do and have since beginning my blog. If a brand or a reader takes that time to contact you, the least that you can do is take the time to send them a personal response (especially if it's a reader reaching out!). Sometimes I physically don't have the time in my workday to respond to a blog email, so I will send a quick one or two line response letting the person know that I did receive their message, am excited to respond, and will do so as soon as I have the time in my schedule later that week. I also try and respond quickly to Instagram DMs! I'm not as big of a fan of having long chats with readers via DM, so I often encourage them to email me if the conversation is getting longer, but I will still always respond. 

      5. Don't be afraid to get personal... (but not TOO personal.) If you've been reading my blog or even following me on Instagram or Twitter for any length of time, you know that I'm not afraid to get personal with y'all! I love talking about fashion, beauty, and other more frivolous topics, but when it comes down it it, none of those things make me "me." If y'all are reading my blog, I also want y'all to get to know the real me, and make this a space where I can share my unique perspective and stories. I've written in the past about topics like how my faith impacts my views on dating apps, a painful falling out with a former high school best friend, and when my study abroad experience in college went wrong and how I felt unprepared for that- just to name a few! And these have often been the posts where I've gotten the highest page views and engagement. Of course- some topics in a person's life are not meant for the internet and to be shared on a fashion blog. Situations that deeply involve other people, situations of confidential nature, etc etc. But if there is a personal story in your life that you can share- do it!! You never know who it might touch. 


     I'd love to know your thoughts on what you think makes a Girl Boss outfit, and also on my five blogging truths! Share away in the comments. Wishing y'all a happy and productive Monday!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese (or Charlotte XO on air!)