Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

December 30, 2017

2017: Blogging Highlights + Favorite Outfits.

     It's time to share my blogging highlights and favorite outfits from each month of 2017, which means another year has come to a close. For the second year in a row, this is the last post on my blog of the year! I think it's so fun to end each year on the blog by looking back at my favorites and readers' favorites from that year in the Southern Belle in Training world. Let's get started!


Best Outfits of the Year



      Let's get started with my favorite outfits of the year!! It is always so hard for me to pick these. Some months I have several favorite outfits, and other months aren't my favorite in terms of what I wore on the blog. But I have still rounded up one final favorite from each month of the year! The original blog post the look was featured in is linked above each photo:



January: "The Cutest Bow Top" (Also can we all laugh together at the fact I was wearing this outfit OUTSIDE in JANUARY?! #RIPNorthCarolinaLiving)




February: "Trend Spin Link Up: Winter Accessories" (Featuring my favorite winter coat! I actually rarely wear it because I love it so much and am scared something will happen to it. #confession)




March: "The BEST Off-the-Shoulder Top for Spring!" (Two months in a row of wearing white jeans for my favorite outfits... weirdly I actually rarely wear white jeans IRL?)




April: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. (Another confession: I liked the amazing location and the way my hair curled in these photos better than my outfit... lol!)




May: "A Love Letter to Charlotte NC" (One of my favorite personal posts of the year, but it also featured one of my favorite casual outfits of the year!)




June: "Italy's Hidden Gem: The Amazing Colors of Burano" (Not my favorite outfit I've ever worn on the blog- but definitely my FAVORITE LOCATION I've ever done blog photos in! This was a dream come true!)




July: "#IHaveThisThingWithPink" (True story: there was a typo in the title of this post and it said I Have Thing Thing With Pink.... for FIVE MONTHS!! Yes- up until I was writing this year in review blog post, I never caught the typo in the blog post title. Lol! But anyways- I do have a thing with pink. 😉) 




August: "Sunny Yellow Dress + Self-Care in Busy Weeks" (This outfit taught me that I have a new favorite summer color combo, yellow and turquoise!)




September: "The Ideal Work to Date Night Look" (This is the type of outfit that I wear to work on a day I have a meeting, aka the most formal I'd ever have to look for work. I have to say as much as I love dressing up, I have gotten kind of appreciative for working in a casual industry this year!)




October: "The Woman I Want to Be" (Another favorite personal post for the year, and this dress was a DREAM.)




November: "Fancy Thanksgiving Outfit Inspiration" (This was a random outfit that I put together for the blog but ended up becoming one of my favorites of the year! I love when that happens.)




December: "My Le Chateau Little Black Dress Story" (It was kind of a "pinch me" moment with blogging to get to work with an international brand that I'd loved for years on this post!) 





     Next, let's take a look back at the five most popular blog posts of 2017 with SBIT readers! In order of highest page views:


  1.      4 Places to Visit in Rome from The Lizzie McGuire Movie
  2.      I Tried LipSense - My Honest Review!
  3.      BIG NEWS: I Have a Radio Job + I'm Moving!!!
  4.      Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist (I have no idea why this random MR post was one of my top of the year... I write a few of these posts every month but this one got lots of traffic!)
  5.      Relationship Monday: An Open Letter to the Boy Who Broke My Heart.



     And lastly, I like to end my annual Blogging Highlights post by sharing a few of my blogging goals of the year and if I achieved them. My three main blogging goals for 2017 were to finally reach 10,000 followers on Instagram, go on my first press trip on behalf of my blog, and to do a collaboration with a formalwear company. I am so excited to announce that with hard work and dedication, all three of these goals were accomplished for the year!!! Of course, I had other goals for the year that are still in progress, or just weren't quite attainable. And that's okay too. It's important throughout the year to do goal check-ins and see what's working and what isn't. And it's also important to give yourself grace when you work hard for something but it just doesn't work out. BUT- what a great feeling to have my three top ones all be achieved this year! I have even bigger goals for 2018 and can't wait to get the ball rolling on the new year. 



     Thank you so much to each and every one of you who has read my blog or followed my social media this year! It's been my honor to connect with all of you and provide you with meaningful content. This has been a huge year of change in my personal life, and my blog was a steady constant that I'm so thankful for. 


     I'm currently taking a blogging break through New Year's while I'm traveling out-of-state visiting a high school friend, but I'll be back and ready to start 2018 off here on the blog this Wednesday, January 3rd! Talk to you then!!



      God Bless,




      xoxo Annaliese 










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December 29, 2017

Winter Airport Outfit + Cutest Luggage EVER.

     Airport and travel style can be tricky, and especially so in the colder months. You don't want to be overdressed, but you don't want to look like a total bum either. In today's blog post I'm sharing an idea for a winter flying outfit, and also talking about my new favorite luggage, which I personally think is the cutest luggage ever. 😉 


Winter Airport Outfit

Travel Outfit with cute luggage

What to Wear to Fly

Tiffany Blue Luggage



Photography by Amanda Rose Photography


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






     The way that I dress for flying is highly dependent on three things: my destination, amount of layovers, and most importantly, what time of day my flight leaves at! Obviously if I am flying to a warm weather destination, I'm not going to wear a huge coat and snow boots on the plane. And vice versa, if I'm headed to an equally cold destination, I won't be spotted in warm weather clothing. If I have a brief direct flight, I sometimes do like to dress up for flying. However, a long day of running between multiple airports isn't the time for cute clothing. So the duration of my flights and amount of layovers also determine how I dress! 


      And lastly- what time of day the flight is at! In college, most of my flights home to Maine were evening or late afternoon flights, so I'd have the whole day to get ready. They were also pretty short and easy direct flights, so sometimes I'd enjoy dressing up and looking nice to fly. In the past couple years, I've become more fond of 6 am flights. If you're able to get out of your home area super early, then you have the whole day ahead of you to enjoy your destination, instead of coming in super late at night! However, waking up at 3:30 am for a flight means that I'm no longer putting together cute airport outfits. I want to be comfortable and put together, but something that doesn't require a lot of effort. The outfit that I'm wearing in today's post is exactly the type of thing that I'd wear for a winter 6 am flight! These leggings are very comfortable, and they're under $15! My sneakers are super lightweight and they match a lot of outfits, and nothing beats a sports bra and cute sweatshirt combo for an early flight. 


     I've gotten a ton of questions about this luggage since I debuted it on Instagram during my Kentucky trip earlier this month. I'd had my old luggage set since middle school or high school, and it had been with me through tons of vacations and many moves back and forth from college to home. While it's still in decent condition considering how much I've used it, I knew it was time to treat myself to some shiny new luggage for holiday travels! I've seen certain luggage sets that are popular with other bloggers, but I wanted to find my own unique set. I fell IN LOVE after finding my set! Tiffany Blue is my favorite color, and it couldn't be a more perfect match. It also comes in tons of other fun colors! Two suitcases are included in the set, and they're both spinner suitcases. The suitcase that I brought to Kentucky got slightly scuffed on one of the flights, but I used a Magic Eraser on it when I got home and now it looks brand new again!



      Speaking of flying- this post comes at an appropriate time, as tomorrow I'm flying away for a New Year's weekend trip! Sadly I'm not going somewhere much warmer than New England. I'm leaving negative temperatures in Vermont for... temperatures in the teens. Whooo!! Such warmth- lol! I'm flying out-of-state to visit a high school friend who recently moved away from Maine. It's a crazy story of how we got back in touch that I hope to share soon! Anyways- this trip is going to be a true vacation for me. I'm actually taking a blog social media and blogging break for four days, something I rarely do! But it is much needed, coming out of a very busy few months on both my blog and at my day job. I need some time to decompress and refocus before starting 2018 off strong! I have one more prescheduled blog post that will go up tomorrow, but other then that this is my sign-off for the year. It will be kind of nice to be traveling and not feel the need to Insta-Story/Snapchat/Tweet everything, or lug around my DSLR to take pictures of everything for the blog. Sometimes life is just meant to be lived! 😉 If y'all are really interested in where I'm going, I can do a mini travel guide of sorts in January and talk about where I visited.



     Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post- my last one of the year and another annual favorite for me to write!






      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese 
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December 28, 2017

TRAVEL GUIDE: Holiday Weekend in Georgetown, KY.

      Come and take a (virtual) trip with me in today's blog post! We'll be visiting a bustling town that's filled with horses, Southern food and bourbon, and the most charming Main Street you've ever seen. It's time to share my Georgetown, Kentucky Travel Guide!


Georgetown Kentucky Travel Guide - perfect girls' trip



     When it became official this fall that my friend Kylie from Dress in Sparkles and I were going on a holiday long weekend press trip to Georgetown, Kentucky, I was over the moon excited! I had been to Kentucky once prior, to Louisville in 2015 for a college internship. During that trip, I got to visit Churchill Downs and see a taste of what the Bluegrass state had to offer, and I kind of fell in love! I had always wanted to go back with more time to explore, so this trip was the perfect opportunity. I was seriously counting down the weeks and days until the trip!


     We were in Georgetown December 8-11th, and visiting at the holidays was just wonderful! The only complaint that I have about our trip was something beyond anyone's control.... the weather. Kentucky was experiencing a severe (for the South) cold-snap during the weekend we were there. Temperatures were in the 20s and 30s, and sometimes colder with the wind chill! Of course it got warmer again the day after we left- figures! The chilly weather did damper a couple of the outdoor activities that we tried to do, but again, something beyond our control. We still had a great time and found there wre lots of fun activities to do in Georgetown!


     Georgetown located in Northern-Central Kentucky, 30 minutes from both Lexington and Frankfurt. What was once a small and quaint town is now Kentucky's 7th largest city by population, thanks to an influx of jobs with the addition of the Toyota manufacturing plant in the 1980s! Georgetown has retained much of its small town charm though, which Kylie and I definitely experienced.



Travel:

     Georgetown is conveniently located on Interstate 75, if you live in drivable distance (like Kylie did!). Vermont however is not driving distance for a weekend trip to Kentucky, so I flew into the Lexington airport, which is 30 minutes away. I have to say- I really enjoyed the Lexington airport and found it easy to navigate. They also have great free wifi which is always a plus! Near the check-in counters there is a public art gallery featuring paintings of horses, and I really enjoyed experiencing that.




Stay: 

     Kylie and I were hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn of Georgetown, which we both really enjoyed and would recommend! Our room was clean and comfortable, and definitely spacious enough for both of us. My favorite part of the hotel was the hot tub!! We took advantage of warming up in there after being out in the cold a few times during our stay. The only part of the hotel that I wouldn't recommend is breakfast- it's a pretty standard hotel continental breakfast, but they charge for it. Fortunately, there's many restaurants right around the hotel so you have lots of nearby breakfast options!







Eat:

     I shared my detailed Georgetown Restaurant guide on the blog last week! You can check that out here.






Play: 

     Kylie and I were able to accomplish so much during our long weekend! Some of these activities are seasonal to the holidays, but others are available to experience year-round.




     Experience Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park: Southern Lights is a nighttime driving tour of the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park. There are over three miles of incredibly detailed Christmas light displays which you experience as you drive your car around the park! They even purchase a radio frequency so that you can listen to their own custom Christmas music station during your festive drive. Southern Lights opens around Thanksgiving and stays open through December 31st each year. I was absolutely blown away at the beauty of this event! The visitors' center at the Kentucky Horse Park also is open and includes a craft fair, photos with Santa, and a petting zoo during the nights when Southern Lights is open. I wish we could have experienced this fun event every night of our trip, as it was so fun!





     Visit Old Friends Retirement Farm: This part of the trip was such a highlight that I wrote a separate blog post about it! Old Friends is a special horse farm for retired racehorses, which is open to the public for tours. Kylie and I loved our visit, and I highly recommend that you check out my blog post review of Old Friends here!




     Explore Georgetown's Main Street and visit local shops: I grew up in a town with a charming Main Street, so I have a soft spot for visiting other places with a lovely town center. Georgetown's is just darling!! Kylie and I kept saying we felt like we were living our own Hallmark Movie when we were walking around downtown, especially since beautiful snow was falling! Main Street has several fun shops, including fashion boutiques and speciality shops. For fellow fashion lovers, we enjoyed visiting Adorabelles and Em+Me boutiques. Our new friend Natalie from Georgetown/Scott County Tourism, and our photographer for the weekend, Hannah, were so kind to show us around the Main Street area. If you're visiting Main Street at Christmas, you can enjoy the beautiful Christmas Tree outside of City Hall!







     Scott County Historic Homes Annual Holiday Tour: This was a last minute event that got added to our itinerary, but ended up being one of our favorites!! Some of the owners of the biggest houses on Main Street opened parts of their homes (or in some cases, the whole house) for decorated home tours to the public during the weekend we were visiting. It was amazing to see these gorgeous, historic Southern homes decorated for the holidays. I took in so much inspiration for my dream home someday!






     
       The Kentucky Horse Park: Kylie and I first explored The Kentucky Horse Park of course at night for their Southern Lights Christmas event, but we had to return in the daytime to check out all of their horse museums and see some of the horses that live there! I've been fascinated with horse racing ever since I visited Churchill Downs a few years ago, so I loved seeing the International Museum of the Horse (museum admission is included with your Kentucky Horse Park tickets). Getting to see Kentucky Derby trophies up close and personal was incredible! There weren't a lot of horses out on the grounds the day that we were there since the weather was freezing, but we did see a couple retired police horses in the police barn. If the weather had been warmer I think our visit to The Kentucky Horse Park would've been much longer!





     Shopping in Lexington: Kentucky's second largest city, Lexington, is only 30 minutes away from Georgetown! We snuck away for an afternoon of shopping in the city, which was SO much fun. Y'all know I have talked a lot since moving about Vermont's limited retail options... so it was such a treat to be around some of my favorite stores again! Kylie and I also paid our first-ever visits to Draper James. Their Lexington store is so cute! I didn't end up purchasing anything there, but I loved taking my picture with their beautiful mural. Another perk of visiting Lexington- I got to grab dessert to-go at my favorite chain restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory!






     Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Garden: Kylie and I did photos for our blogs during our visit to this garden, so I have a whole separate post about it here! It actually snowed the morning that we visited, so we had a very unique experience seeing Georgetown's public Japanese garden.




     Candlelight tour of Ward Hall: Ward Hall is considered to be the state of Kentucky's premiere Greek revival mansion. The huge home is now preserved by a foundation so that it will be maintained for generations to come, and it opens every year at the holidays for period themed candlelight tours. Kylie and I were delighted by our tour- both by seeing the grand mansion, and also by learning the history of the Ward family and more about Georgetown in centuries past!







     Tour the Toyota Plant: Georgetown really got on the map on a national scale in the 1980s after Toyota picked it as the location for their first US car plant. The Georgetown Toyota plant manufactures the Camry, Avalon, their hybrid models, and as of a few years ago, some Lexus models as well. The plant is huge. I have never seen a building this big in my entire life!! Kylie and I learned on the tour that the Toyota plant buildings span a distance of more than 150 football fields... just think about that! You weren't allowed to take pictures on the tour so I only have photos from the visitor center, but I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this. I don't know very much about cars, but I loved getting to see them being made up close and personal, and all that goes into a manufacturing plant. It's things that I know nothing about but now am fascinated by! All of the tour guides were so friendly and welcoming, and I truly got the vibe that Toyota is an amazing company to work for. 







      One last thing that was recommended to Kylie and I but we didn't have time to do- visit the Buffalo Trace bourbon distillery in nearby Frankfurt. Kentucky of course is famous for its bourbon distilleries and Buffalo Trace is supposed to be one of the best ones near Georgetown! We'll have to keep that in mind if we return.



     And there you have it! The perfect itinerary for a holiday weekend in Georgetown, Kentucky. Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions, and you can also reach out to Georgetown/Scott County Tourism as well! Here are my previous posts from this trip:





      Thanks so much as always for reading!



      God Bless,



      xoxo Annaliese




      Thank you to Georgetown/Scott County Tourism for hosting Kylie and I during our trip to Kentucky. Photography in post by myself and Hannah Sither.


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December 27, 2017

2017: Highlights From My Year.

      It's already that time of the year again! One of my favorite parts about the month of December is writing my annual end-of-the-year recap posts. A couple years ago I started doing two year end posts. One recapping the year in blogging, and one recapping the year in my personal life. I like to keep the two separate as I feel like that would be one really long yearly recap if I didn't- ha! Anyways, let's get into my personal life recap of 2017:



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December 26, 2017

Vermont Holiday Look + 6 Books I've Read Lately.

      Happy Day after Christmas! Hope that yesterday was a peaceful and wonderful day of celebrating for you. My holiday took an unexpected turn after I ended up staying in Vermont for the weekend instead of going home to Maine (the weather here was less than ideal), but I've tried to remain positive despite this happening! In today's post I'll be sharing one last holiday look that I wasn't able to post before Christmas, and also an updated reading list! I know it's been awhile since I shared one, but I wanted to let you guys know what I have been reading in November and December, before the new year!


Preppy Winter Outfit

Favorite Gold Statement Earrings

Preppy J. Crew Winter Look

Winter Makeup Look




Photography by Amanda Rose Photography



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








       This velvet peplum top was one of my Black Friday purchases this year, and I just love it! It comes in numerical sizing, but I found it fit true to size. It's a versatile winter top that you could easily pair with a cardigan for the office or school, and you can dress it up as well with a pencil skirt or skinny dress pants (like I did here!) for a holiday party look. This top also comes in a few other colors, and they're also super cute! I thought that gold accessories would be the perfect compliment to the dark red of the top, so it was the perfect chance to wear my new favorite statement earrings from Lisi Lerch! They kindly sent me these in time for my Kentucky trip, and I had fun wearing them there too! They're just gorgeous, and I know they will brighten up lots of my winter outfits.


      By the way- it was 10 degrees outside when Amanda and I took these photos!! I still can't believe I survived. She sure is a trooper! Hopefully my teeth don't look too gritted and you can't see my goose bumps in the pictures. 😊 Quite a note to start to end on for one of my last outfit posts of the year!




      Alright- let's dive into what I've been reading over the past couple months. My reading pace has slowed down a little bit from what it was this spring and summer, but I'm still trying to visit the library once or twice a month! Here's what I read in November and January:


      *Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinksy: You guys know from my past book review posts that it's rare for me not to finish a book. This was a rare one that I just couldn't get through! I think I made it about halfway. The plot of this book was about a single divorced mother who learns her high school aged daughter is not only pregnant, but is in a pregnancy pact with her best friends. The book sounded interesting... but ended up being hard to follow, and actually quite boring. I couldn't get through it! (I recently watched a Lifetime movie with a similar-ish plot to this book, and let's just say that had much more drama and excitement! Haha.)


     *Shattered by Karen Robards: This was a thriller set in a small town outside of Lexington, KY. Since I read it about a month before my Kentucky trip, it actually got me super excited to visit the Bluegrass State! Karen Robards does a great job of setting the scene of the Kentucky landscape in the book. As far as the plot itself, I loved the first half of the book, and then found the second half got a bit hard to follow and more unrealistic. This book is about an attorney named Lisa Grant who investigates an unsolved case from almost 30 years prior, which ends up hitting too close to home. There's also a romance involved in the plot as well.


      *Friendship Bread by Darien Gee: This is a feel-good read all about friendship, small town life, healing, and the power of baking. Thinking of Hallmark Movie type vibes, but in a book! It follows the lives of three women, all living in a small town in Illinois. As the women become friends and a baking obsession sweeps over their town, change is on the horizon for each of them. This was a cute read, and I thought it was so sweet that the author included recipes in the back of the book.


     *Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer:  This book is set on the New England island of Nantucket, and the main character is an island resident and librarian named Darcy. The book follows Darcy's life for a whole summer, through her friendships and dating relationships, and also paints a very realistic picture of what it's like to be a permanent resident on one of New England's smaller islands. Although there weren't any major plot twists in this book, I did enjoy the story, and I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of summer on Nantucket. I've never been to Nantucket, but some parts of it reminded me of summer in Maine. I'd be interested to read some of Nancy Thayer's other books!


      *First Comes Love by Emily Giffin: Amazingly this was the first Emily Giffin book I've ever read! I've seen her books before as they're quite popular, but I'd never picked one up for myself before. I really enjoyed this book. It explored the concept of coping in the years after a great loss, and the challenges that come with a relationship between two sisters. I'd love to read more of Emily's books now!


      *Vanished by Karen Robards: I took out another Karen Robards book on my latest library trip, and I'm actually still reading this one! It's another thriller. This book follows the story of workaholic district attorney named Sarah, whose daughter was tragically kidnapped years prior. The book begins when Sarah is a victim in a crazy convenience store robbery and shooting (which as a warning, is a very graphic scene). Sarah being on the scene of such a great crime leads there to be questions if this could be connected in any way to her daughter's kidnapping years prior. There's also a romance developing between Sarah and one of her best guy friends. I'm looking forward to finishing this book.




     


       My outfit details are all linked below. I'm excited to share my first year end recap post on the blog tomorrow! If you haven't read mine from years prior, I always share one post recapping the year in my personal life, and one recapping the year in blogging (as that's a ton to include all in one post!). Here is 2016's personal post and blogging post if you're curious in the meantime!







       God Bless,



       xoxo Annaliese
   



      
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