Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

March 29, 2018

Early Spring PR Packages Review.

     Welcome to my latest edition of PR packages reviews!! I received some extra fun packages during my last month in Vermont, and I can't wait to share them with y'all today. If you're new to my PR reviews, I write these blog posts every couple months. It's my chance to test out and share honest reviews of the products that I receive in PR packages from brands on behalf of my blog! Usually these are beauty products, but sometimes there are other things as well (today's post includes some jewelry and home decor). I'm not in a sponsored relationship with any of these brands, so I'm not being paid to post about any of these products- all of these reviews are 100% honest! I think it is so kind of all of these brands to include me on their influencer gifting lists, so I like to share my thoughts about the products I receive here on my blog. 😊 Let's get to it!

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

     Avon always sends such wonderful PR gifts to their influencers. I was surprised last month with some goodies from their True Color line! I've previously tried the complete True Color lipstick line (reviewed in this post), and I loved a lot of the lipsticks, so I was really excited to try some highlighters and concealers from the same makeup line. I received the Highlighting Powder, Transforming Contour Stick and Illuminating Stick in all shades. My favorite was the Illuminating Stick in shade Champagne! Some highlighters are definitely a little too shiny for everyday where, you know? This one is perfect. It's such an easy highlighter to apply, and it gives just enough glow for everyday life and wearing it to work. You just rub the stick right on your face and then smooth with your fingers- you don't even need a brush! How cute as well was the light-up box that everything arrived in?! 

     I've been receiving jewelry each month from Sugarfix, Baublebar's exclusive line for Target, for a few months now! It is always such a treat to receive their packages in the mail. The February package absolutely killed it- my favorite yet!! I am just obsessed with these earrings and this necklace especially! 

     I've gotten to test some different Dove products through PR over the last year, and the ones that I received over the last month really hit the mark!! First up, I was sent two different scents of Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant. Not sure if this is like a TMI confession for the blog- but I've been religiously using the same brand of deodorant since middle school! I found one that worked for me way back in the day, and never really found the need to try others. I decided to be open minded and give the Dove Dry Spray a try. I was so pleasantly surprised!! I was new to spray deodorants, but I thought it worked very well (I first tested this before/after the gym). It quite possibly works better than the other deodorant I'd been using for years?! This definitely might be something I'll repurchase, especially to use for the gym.

     Next up are a few more goodies from Dove! I am such a sucker for over-the-top PR packaging, and this next package might have been one of my favorite ways that a PR gift ever arrived to me! Dove sent me a musical box- yes, when you open it, the box plays a fun little song! So cute. Anyways, I received Dove Shower Foam in Deep Moisture, and another body wash from the Dove Men+ Care line. I also received a shower foam from the Caress brand as well, in the Orchid and Coconut scent. So far I have been testing the Dove Shower Foam, and I really like it!! It is very lightweight and doesn't feel "heavy" on your skin like some body washes can. The scent is also wonderful! I haven't tried the Caress one yet but I am looking forward to. (And if any of my guy friends want the Dove Men+ Care one- it's yours! 😉)

     It's no secret that IT Cosmetics is one of my favorite prestige cosmetic brands (I actually wrote a blog post last year sharing my all-time favorites from their line!), so any time that I receive PR mail from them I get so excited!! This time around, IT sent me some goodies that I'm really excited about. I've used their Superhero mascara off and on for a couple years now, so I was excited to get a replacement of that! It's an excellent mascara and really helps to build great volume with your lashes. I also received a few new IT lipsticks, and their new face palette, Confidence in Your Glow (which I think would be an ideal travel palette)! Thank you IT for the lovely surprise!

     I always save Pier 1 for last- because their influencer gifts are so amazing! They sent so many fun things in their spring box. How cute are the little cactus lights? I haven't found a place in my new apartment to put them yet, but if you check out their website you can see that cactuses are trending right now in all areas of home decor! Another item that I loved with the Pink Champagne scented candle - in the last year I've become obsessed with burning candles in my home, and this is the ideal spring scent. Lastly- how cute is the little "Love" picture clip? Pier 1 scent over some fun quotes to put in it, and you can see which one I used on my blog office tour post from my Vermont apartment!

     And that's all for today's reviews!! Hope that you enjoyed - please let me know if you use or have tried any of these products. 😊

     Hope that y'all are enjoying the rest of your weeks! I'm almost done my first full week at my new job- it was a very busy but also very good week. I'm so excited to head out of town this weekend for Easter- it'll be a nice little break after the stress of the move (and nice to forget about all of my cardboard boxes for the weekend!).

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

March 28, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{My first day of work at my new radio station- more Vermont appropriate weather than Virginia ironically! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

  • Virginia SNOW: Okay I still think this is too funny- God really does have a sense of humor! So when my dad and I arrived in Virginia on my move-in day, it was beautiful! Almost 60 degrees, and sunny, lovely early spring weather all around! Well... for my first day of work a few days later, there was SNOW in the forecast! Having lived in the South before, there is often a threat of snow but nothing much comes of it, so I assumed that would be the case again. I was so wrong. Charlottesville got 5-6 inches!! In late March!! I believe Northern Virginia got close to a foot in some places. It felt like deja vu from my Vermont life to be cleaning the snow off my car before work, and wearing snow boots as part of my first day of work outfit. Of course a lot of my new coworkers joked with me that I brought the snow to them- little does everyone know I was trying so hard to escape it and leave it behind in VT, ha! Thankfully the snow is gone now and the temperatures are back in the 50s, but that was quite a first day of work memory. 
  • First Virginia Weekend: I had a wonderful first weekend in Charlottesville! Two highlights were getting to have lunch with Lindsey from Lindsey Elizabeth on Saturday, and on Sunday my friend Mercedes came to visit me from DC, and we had brunch downtown! Both restaurants that I ate out at I enjoyed a lot- I have yet to have a bad meal here in Cville. I also had two work events this weekend for my new job- so it was a very busy weekend, but I am already feeling so happy to be in my new state and home! 
  • Easter Travels: I am headed out of town next weekend for Easter, my favorite holiday! I'll be visiting a city that I haven't been to since I was 10 years old... so I think I'm very overdue for another visit. Any guesses as to where I am headed? Hint: it's a PERFECT destination to visit in spring because of one specific seasonal attraction! 

  • I've been a big fan of Evelyn Henson's art prints for a couple years! She is a Charlotte based artist, and I had the chance to meet her and purchase a piece of hers at a print signing event a couple years ago. Evelyn is known for her map art series, and this weekend while discovering some local boutiques I saw that Monkee's of Charlottesville carried some Evelyn Henson prints! I purchased the Charlottesville map print, and I'm hoping to order the Charlotte one soon, so that way I can hang cute tributes to both of my Southern homes in the new place. 

  • I saw this gorgeous bar cart in-store the weekend I moved to Cville, and I am convinced I need it for my apartment! I'm not a big drinker in my home, so I'd love to turn it into a tea cart, and use it to store all of my teas and mugs! I think I might save up for it. 😊
  • I've been crushing on this red top! I don't wear too much bright red- but I love the unique style of this top and think it would be perfect for a night out.
  • The keychain that I've had on my car keys has been on there for awhile now, and I think a new one for spring would be fun. How adorable are these Lilly inspired monogrammed key chains?
  • So fun fact- I've had this one mint rain jacket since 8th grade. Yes- the same coat has lasted and fit for a whole decade- crazy right?! I probably should upgrade that jacket soon... this cute one reminds me of my beloved raincoat.  
  • I have a pair of these shorts in seersucker from a couple seasons ago, but I'm loving these in the solid light blue color for this summer! So preppy and cute. 

Recipe of the week: Pasta Arrabbiatta Sauce from Isabel Eats. My kitchen still isn't 100% unpacked yet (embarrassing I know- but progress has been made!). Anyways, I am just getting back into cooking dinners this week. The first one I made in my new place from scratch was my favorite Pasta Arrabbiatta. In Vermont I first started experimenting with making homemade pasta sauces, and now I hate purchasing any pre-made sauce! 

Song of the week: Mad Love by Sean Paul and David Guetta ft. Becky G.  This song is SUCH a fun jam!! It got the immediate add to my workout playlist. I love songs with a latin dance pop flair. 

On the blog this week: This week I'm getting closer to my regular blogging schedule after taking some time off for my move! Show this post some love: 

     Enjoy the rest of your week friends! I'm looking forward to sharing more about my new life here in Virginia soon!

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

March 26, 2018

Vermont Bachelorette Pad Tour: New England Chic Bedroom.

     Welcome to the last installment of my Vermont apartment tour blog post series! (Who would have guessed that I'd be finishing these posts from a new state and apartment?!) I decided to share my bedroom last. If you've been reading my blog since I had my first apartment back in Charlotte and shared my bedroom tour from there- you'll notice many similarities between the two rooms. My bedroom furniture was my graduation gift from my parents and a few other family members, so it was all brand-new when I lived in my Charlotte apartment! Obviously everything moved with me to Vermont, and the same bedroom furniture pieces are here with me in Virginia as well. Furniture is expensive and built to last- so this will all be sticking with me for awhile! Anyways, my goal was to make my Vermont bedroom have a totally different feel than my Charlotte bedroom, even though I still had the same furniture and bedding. You can check out my Charlotte bedroom tour blog post here- I think overall I did a pretty good job with my vision for similar but different!

     A lot of the items in my bedroom are from Home Goods or At Home (my FAV store that I miss so much!) or are just older items, but I'll link everything that can be linked below:

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

My outfit: Top c/o // Jeans // Earrings c/o // Lipstick c/o // 

Bedroom Tour - Linked: Dresser {still available!} // Headboard {mine not online, very similar here} // Blue Electric Blanket // White Bedding Set // Shoe Rack // Always Carry Confetti Print // 

Bedroom Tour - Not Linked: Headboard Lights - DIY project // Bed Accent Pillows - HomeGoods // Bed Side Table - At Home // Bed Side Mirror - Local Discount Store // White Light {dresser} - At Home // Earring Holders - Icing // 


     So here is my bedroom!! The main way that I made my bed feel different from having it in my Charlotte apartment was to switch out the accent pillows, add a fun DIY light garland to the headboard (I can post a tutorial for that project if y'all are interested!), and I added an electric blanket for the fall and winter months, which gave me both extra warmth and also some color! I am always cold, so I loved having this cozy electric blanket to cuddle up to on very cold nights in Vermont. 

     The biggest pro of this bedroom was the large window- this room had a ton of natural light which I loved!! My childhood bedroom wasn't very bright, and the dorm rooms I lived in during my college years were crazy dark, so it's always been important to me since college to have bright and airy rooms- daylight, especially in the early mornings, is so important to get your morning started right! The biggest con of this bedroom you can probably guess from the photos.... the small closet. UGH!!! Seriously.... I had a bigger closet in a dorm room my sophomore year of college!! That's saying something. I went from having a decent sized walk-in closet, a coat closet, and a second hallway coat closet that my roommate didn't use (so three total!) back in Charlotte to ONLY having this one. As a fashion blogger and clothes enthusiast in general, that was a huge downgrade. But- I ended up making do. I'm actually planning to write a blog post next month all about my small closet tips! 

     So this is kind of funny- I had my little college dorm room TV set up in my bedroom in my Charlotte apartment, on my dresser. But pretty much from the second that I moved into that apartment, I had issues with the cable box in my bedroom almost every time I wanted to use that TV!! The lights on that cable box used to go haywire and it would never work- it was so bad that getting it to try and work used to keep me entertained at the time. I really think the Charlotte cable company gave me a faulty cable box in that apartment. Anyways- when I moved to Vermont I didn't even want to attempt putting a TV in my bedroom again, thinking it would be a repeat of that experience, so I just had one out in the living room. But I realized I really missed the idea of watching things in bed! My bedroom isn't really set up fully yet here in Virginia- but I do have my smaller TV on my dresser again. I have a different cable provider now and the bedroom cable box I have is working fine... I have so been enjoying watching TV from bed every night before I go to sleep! I feel like I waited over two years for this... it's the little things in life I'm telling you!! Haha. 

     If you'd like to check out the rest of my Vermont Bachelorette Pad Tour, see these blog posts:

     A lot of my new Virginia apartment is still covered in bubble wrap and boxes, so it'll be awhile before any sort of apartment tour posts from here- but I'll be excited to of course whenever that time arrives! 😉Today begins my first full week at my new job, last week went pretty well but was filled with lots of training and new station information. I'm hoping to feel more settled this week! 

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 


March 21, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{So happy to be back in the South- FINALLY! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

  • I'm in Virginia! HELLO! Long time no talk my friends. I missed y'all over the last week while I took a few days off from the blog, but it was much needed to do that while I moved from Vermont to Virignia. Wow- all I can say is moving out of Vermont really through me for a loop! I thought that I was super prepared since I'd only moved out of state one year prior... HAHA nope is all I will say!! But I learned a lot from this experience and I am already looking forward to writing some moving related blog posts next month. Virginia has now been my home for a few days and I still can't believe it! It honestly still hasn't settled in yet that this beautiful Southern state is my home- I feel like this is a wonderful dream.
  • Back on-air: I start my new job today! After almost two full weeks away from being on the radio and in a station environment, I have really started to miss it!! I am so excited to begin the next chapter of my career journey today. Once I get settled in a bit at work and with my new show and station, I'm happy to share the details for y'all to listen and stream online if you'd like? I know I had some requests for that information when I worked in Vermont, so let me know if you'd like me to share more about my day job details here for the new job too! 
  • Mason-Dixon selfie: So on all my past road trips from North/South or vice versa, I'd always wanted to get a selfie or picture with the official Mason-Dixon line (Pennsylvania/Maryland) but it's never happened! I knew I had to make it happen on this trip, especially since it was commemorating my official move back South! My dad was driving our rented moving truck and he got a bit behind me on the highway by the time I neared this state line, so I ventured off the interstate by myself in search of it. I finally found a little state line sign (pictured above!), pulled my car over, and hopped out for probably one of the ugliest looking but favorite selfies I've ever taken. Solo road trip detours are a must to keep it interesting! 😉If you've done a solo road trip before, have you ever planned a special rest stop?

  • One of the shoe racks that I had in Vermont broke a few months ago, so I knew I needed to get another one for my new apartment. I ended up buying a much larger one for my closet to hold all of my dressier shoes, and I still can't get over how many pairs of shoes it holds for the great price! 
  • Other than the new shoe rack, my only other purchases this week included things like cardboard boxes, packing tape, and bubble wrap! Moving supplies are crazy expensive and sadly not too fun to write about on my blog for Midweek Ramblings posts.

  • I bought a pair of cheap but cute colored mirrored sunglasses last year, and they totally exceeded my expectations! For under $20, they fit great and also looked great. This is this year's version- they're $14 and very similar to my pair from last year! 
  • This looks like it would be the cutest casual dress for running errands on the weekends or other casual activities, and what a good price point! 
  • The much awaited Lilly Pulitzer x Pottery Barn collaboration debuted last week! In the craziness of moving I didn't get a chance to properly check it out until this weekend. Oh my gosh- so many cute home items!! Of course I fell in love with all of the gorgeous upholstered chairs- especially this one! Way out of my current home decor budget- but I can dream. 😊
  • I think this is the cutest crossbody purse for spring and summer! It would be especially perfect if you're headed on Spring Break or another type of warm weather adventure! I have some fun statement purses and clutches but always forget to use them and just stick with my big bags - I need to try and branch out more ha! 
  • This dress is definitely more of a splurge piece- but it's so cute for spring!! The colors remind me a bit of the colors of the University of Virginia (which is here in Charlottesville- I need to get some dresses in the school colors for game days in the fall!). 

Recipe of the week: I'm still too new in my apartment to have done any cooking this week, so here is another past favorite recipe of mine from my Pinterest boards. These Italian Roasted Potatoes are such a tasty side dish- definitely something I want to make again soon once I'm cooking more regularly and used to my new job schedule! 

Song of the week: Criminal by Lindsay Ell. I listened to a good amount of country radio on my drive from Vermont to Virginia as I'm so excited to begin my career in this part of the radio industry! I heard this song quite a few times and I just love it! Lindsay has such a beautiful voice and I want to hear more of her songs. 

On the blog this week: Only one blog post from the past week as I took a few days off for blogging- but it was a fun post!

     Thank you so much for reading today's post!! I am planning to ease back into my normal blogging schedule for the rest of March as I settle into Virginia life, and then in April I hope to be back on my 4x a week posting schedule!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

March 15, 2018

Lilly Pulitzer Spring Styles with Pink Colony.

     Today's post is the second part of my spring fashion collaboration with Pink Colony, Vermont's largest Lilly Pulitzer specialty boutique! Last week's post focused on Lilly outfits that are perfect to wear to a casual workplace. Today's blog post will showcase some classic Lilly Pulitzer styles that everyone knows and loves- spring dresses! I know that y'all are loving Lilly's Luxletic line just as much as I am, so I'm also sharing a few new Luxletic pieces as well. 😊

Spring 2018 Lilly Pulitzer Styles

  Today's post is in collaboration with Pink Colony. This post also contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography

     *Look #1: Bright Lula Dress

     I fell in love with this gorgeous dress! This is about as Annaliese of a Lilly print as you can get. The Catch the Wave print reminds me a lot of my all-time favorite Lilly print, Let's Cha Cha. This is the cutest little spring dress that could be dressed up or down for all types of occasions. I loved the way that I styled it here and thought this could have made a darling Easter look. There was another dress I ended up taking home that I fell in love with just a little more than this one- but the Lula dress and Catch the Wave print definitely have a bit of my heart! 

      *Look #2: Wrap Dress

     I fell in love with this dress after seeing it on the Pink Colony Instagram account, and I couldn't wait to see it in person. I thought this would for sure be coming home with me- I mean just look at the vibrant floral print on it! I think this dress though is a great example of why trying on Lilly items in a store is so important (rather than waiting until it goes Final Sale during an After Party Sale). I still think it's a gorgeous dress- but I actually didn't love the way that it fit my body specifically! It was a bit lower cut than I felt comfortable with for the type of dress that it is. (Jessica, who owns Pink Colony, and I were joking that this dress is about a "sexy" as Lilly gets - haha!) I think this dress would be gorgeous and a little bit more modest on a different body type (you can kind of see that on the way the model wears it on the Lilly website), but it wasn't my personal favorite. Again it goes back to why it's great to try on Lilly before purchasing if you can!! I still love this gorgeous print though.

     *Look #3: Zipper Shift Dress

     I thought this dress was gorgeous!! Wouldn't this be perfect to wear to spring weddings or semi-formal events?! The front has a zipper, and at first I wasn't sure I'd feel about that, but I actually loved it! I think the zipper and gold detailing added such a unique twist. Jessica told me that this dress made her think of my style, and since it's such a gorgeous dress I was so flattered by that! I ended up taking home these KEP Designs Large Pom Earrings in gold, as I think they'll match so many things in my closet. I loved them with the Jane Shift Dress! 

     *Look #4: Spring Luxletic 

      And finally, a spring Luxletic look from Lilly! Last year I purchased my first pair of Luxletic leggings and kind of fell in love with them! Not only do they feature gorgeous Lilly prints, but they're also insanely comfortable, and perfect for everything from working out to casual weekend outfits. Pink Colony always has a full assortment of the latest Luxletic pieces, as well as cute accessories like water bottles to match! 

      In a few weeks I'll share with y'all the gorgeous new dress that I took home from my spring visit to Pink Colony!! Please make sure to stay tuned on my Instagram TODAY for a fun giveaway with Pink Colony. 

     In other news- I'll be taking a mini blogging break through next Wednesday in honor of my move and starting my new job, but I'll still be posting on Instagram in the mean time!! I can't believe moving weekend is finally here.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 


March 14, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

NYC Skyline from Plane

{Flying over NYC a few weeks ago on my way to Virginia for my job interview trip! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

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

  • Vermont goodbyes: This past week and weekend I said goodbyes to my Vermont friends! Last weekend was my last Sunday at my church here, which was really bittersweet. I did truly love my church here, and it was one of the few places in Vermont that I felt at home. There aren't many bloggers in Vermont/Upstate NY, but I think I got to meet all of the ones there are!! Check out my girls Niki from Nicholle Sophia, Ronica from Relatably Roni and Rebecca from Caravan Sonnet- I will miss them all so much. The great part about blogging is it will be easy to keep up with them and read their blogs from Virginia. 😉
  • BEST new podcast: I finally got caught up on all of my favorite podcasts episodes while packing, and wanted something new to listen to this weekend. One of the hosts of my favorite weekly podcast, Good Christian Fun, recommended a new podcast from The Onion as a fun listen, and I'm so glad I gave it a try!! A Very Fatal Murder is a satirical podcast that spoofs popular true crime podcasts like Serial, S-Town and Up and Vanished. I don't want to spoil anything, but if you're a fan of the true crime genre this needs to be a MUST LISTEN for you. The episodes are short (under 15 minutes each) so you can listen to it in a whole afternoon. I was laughing so hard at some of them it was hard for me to focus on my packing! I listened to S-Town at this time last year when I was packing to move to Vermont, so it seemed even more perfect a year later to be essentially listening to a spoof of that one when I was packing again. 
  • Reminder that: I MOVE to Virginia this Friday!!!! (Provided that the weather stays okay of course.) It still doesn't feel real that I'll be calling the south my home again... ah! I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait! 

  • My friend Ronica and I went to the amazing Quartier Dix30 shopping center (check out this blog post about it) outside of Montreal on Monday- I had to make use of my enhanced license one more time before the move!! As expected, it was a great day of shopping. I was so excited to find a cheaper dupe of this classic white top! I was going to make the splurge buy the Nordstrom version, as it is a versatile piece and would match a lot of things in my closet. However- I'm ALWAYS up for a good dupe, and I found almost the same top for half the price at a Canadian store at Dix30! Win! 
  • I also bought some new distressed jeans at Zara. This year I discovered my love of Zara jeans (they are the BEST and under $100!), and I wanted to get another pair before moving! 
  • I've been loving the neck scarf trend for awhile, and finally wanted to get one for spring! The one I purchased looks similar to this

  • My friend Rachel wore this floral blouse on a try-on session on her Instagram Stories and I kind of fell in love with it- how bright and cute is it for spring! 
  • Nordstrom is price-matching some of the classic Jack Rogers styles right now up to almost 50% off!! (At least they were at the time I wrote this part of the blog post two days prior... I'll try and update it today if it's changed.
  • I'm going to try and write a blog post soon about the wishlist that I have for home decor and furniture pieces for my new apartment, but this is something I definitely need to get soon! I had to get rid of my old one of these because it was falling apart (I'd had it since college and it had survived a few moves), so it's time for a new and hopefully cuter one. 

Recipe of the week: No cooking for me again this week as my kitchen is all packed up, so here's another favorite throwback recipe of mine from my Pinterest boards! Try these Banana Cinnamon Muffins from Betty Crocker. I love homemade muffins and normally make them at least once a week, and this recipe is delicious if you like banana baked goods! 

Song of the week: All of the Stars by Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA. This song definitely makes the cut for the road trip Spotify playlist! It was just starting to get some radio airplay at my former radio station in Vermont, and I thought it was really catchy. I think this is my favorite song yet that SZA is a featured artist on. 

On the blog this week:

     Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part of my spring collaboration with Pink Colony- I'll be sharing some beautiful Lilly Pulitzer dresses, and there will be a giveaway on my Instagram! I'll then be taking a mini blogging break for the beginning part of next week while my dad and I drive to Virginia and move me into my new apartment- but I'll be back again next week with Midweek Ramblings! 🙂

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 


March 13, 2018

9 Things I Won't Miss About Living in Vermont.

     Around this time last year, I wrote a blog post entitled "Charlotte NC: 10 Things I'll Miss the Most About Living Here." A full year later- and most of those things still hold up for Charlotte! The city that I went to college in (and stayed for one year after) will always hold a very special place in my heart. Now as I prepare to move out of Vermont and head back to the South... I realize how not bittersweet this move is in comparison, and how truly happy I am to be getting the heck out of here!  Many of you know that I haven't really enjoyed Vermont culture or found that I've acclimated well here, and I am so happy to be going back South. Vermont is truly a very unique place.... it's super different even from my home state of Maine (even though Maine is just four hours away!). I thought it would be fun to reprise last year's post in honor of my move this week... but instead of 10 Things I'll Miss... I'm sharing 9 Things I WON'T Miss! I've found during my time living here that the Vermont lifestyle is kind of idolized in media portrayals and in reality is very different- so this might open your eyes a bit to what it's like in the Green Mountain state if you've never been here!

     1. The lack of cities and population in general: Shortly after I accepted my job last year, I was Googling resources about moving to Vermont. The "Move Here" page on begins by saying "It's true, Vermont is not for everyone. We're not known for high rises and an all-night club scene." I remember reading this line a year ago and thinking "Uh oh... how small is this place that I'm moving to?" Spoiler alert: MUCH smaller than I properly anticipated!
     The entire state of Vermont had an estimated population of just under 625,000 residents in 2016. The entire state! For comparison, Charlotte had a population of almost 850,000 in 2016 just within the city limits, and almost 2 million within the greater metro and surrounding counties. YIKES! That's a huge difference. I knew Vermont was going to be smaller and slower paced, but I had no idea how much of a shock it would be until I actually arrived. I am definitely a city girl and need to be in a place near large metro areas... and that just is not Vermont. I love cities because it's great to be living in a place where you feel like there is always something going on, and to me looking out over a skyline is magical. Burlington is actually the smallest biggest city in a state in the country. It really is more like a glorified large town. There is one interstate exit for Burlington. ONE! Have you ever heard of a biggest city in a state with one interstate exit?!
     Sometimes when I think back on how much I struggled in my first several months here to make friends and develop a social life outside of work, I have to remind myself of what I was dealing with. Burlington just isn't that big! 2017 was actually the first year since 2013 that Vermont saw a gain in population in census data... that means from 2013-2016 the state lost population, either to death (mainly from the elderly) or residents moving out-of-state.

     2. A state of bedroom communities: I've shared on the blog before that I became a morning person during my year in Vermont. While all in all I think this was a positive lifestyle change and I have grown to love mornings, I kind of became an early bird without a choice. Vermont is an entire state of bedroom communities. Minus some things geared for college kids that live here to go toUVM and a couple other schools  in the area (which is a nighttime scene I wanted no part of obviously), there is non-existent nightlife and things to do after like 7 pm in Vermont. Your nighttime options are going to the movies, a few weird bars downtown which are mostly full of 18 year olds with fake IDs or sketchy older people... and well, that's it! People aren't really into going out at night, especially in the colder months. When my hours at work switched this fall and I started getting out of work at 7 instead of 4:30, whatever chance I had at a weeknight social life was 100% shot. Back in Charlotte, I didn't really do super exciting things on weeknights, but it wasn't uncommon to go to a friend's apartment to hangout, or to go run and get fast food late at night. That just like wasn't apart of my life here in Vermont! I'd come home from work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and do it all over again on both weeknights and weekends.

     3. EXPENSIVE living costs: Oh my goodness... it is so expensive to live in Vermont!! You are paying Boston prices without getting a Boston quality of life or Boston amenities. When I first accepted my job, I genuinely thought for awhile that I'd have to live in an extended stay hotel on the outskirts of town for awhile when I first got here, because it seemed hopeless to find a safe and comfortable apartment (sans roommate) in my price range. I finally did find a very nice apartment, but it was a lot more money than I'd wanted to be paying for rent. And despite the high cost it still didn't have some of the amenities that my Charlotte apartment had either- like pools or a tennis court! (And I definitely didn't live in a luxury apartment complex in Charlotte.) It's not just rent that's high in Vermont either. For those that do decide to buy property here, the housing market is exorbitant, and property taxes are high. Scratch that- all taxes are high in Vermont! There is a high tax called "Meals and Rooms" (for dining out and lodging), and gas is also very expensive here! Another thing that's a lot of money in Vermont are driving associated costs. Not only are snow tires a necessity, but getting a Vermont license was more than double the cost of my North Carolina one, and annual car inspections here cost four times what they did back home in Maine. So this is not a cheap state to call home, and I wish I had done more research about that before accepting my job.

     4. Depressing for dating: I got the BIGGEST kick out of the fact that so many holiday Hallmark movies are love stories set in Vermont, and also that the Bachelor spin-off show Bachelor Winter Games was set in Vermont this year. (Although in that show's defense, it was filmed about three hours from where I lived- so maybe Southern Vermont is where it's at?) I won't go into too much detail on this one, but this is NOT THE PLACE to find love if you're a single girl like myself. By this fall, it became evidently clear to me that if I stayed in Vermont long-term... I better start praying to have a miraculous healing from my cat allergies because #CatLady was the future that awaited me in this place....
     However- if you are looking for dating app matches who list "organic farmer" or "aspiring musician" in their bio- this is definitely the place for you!! Lots and lots of men to choose from!  (In my defense, my Christian faith is very important to me and where I'm looking for someone who shares that, I knew that dating options would already be more limited in a more secular area like Burlington. But even taking faith out of the equation hypothetically.... still TERRIBLE guy options! Lol.)

     5. The priciest airport: Travel is another one of my huge passions, and it's something that I crave getting to do every few months. I didn't realize until I finally got to Vermont how far away Vermont is from everything. There is only one commercial airport in the state. Let's just say that growing up in Maine, I always thought the Portland airport was the smallest airport ever. I WAS WRONG!!! The Burlington International Airport is the tiniest "biggest" airport, and it is exorbitantly expensive to fly anywhere. When I traveled to Indiana for New Year's... it was over $500!!! And that was for not-direct flights, booked months and months in advance. Had I traveled over the same dates but flown out of a larger airport like Manchester or Boston in New England, I could have saved between $200-300. It sadly didn't make sense for me to drive the long distance to those airports (in the winter) for such a brief weekend trip, but that price difference made me angry and is INSANE!!!! (I don't even want to tell y'all what the cost was for my last-minute booked interview flight to Virginia from Vermont....) Where travel is such a love and passion for me, it's important that I live in a place with a variety of airports to choose from, and a place where travel just isn't so expensive or hard to come by!

     6. The severe lack of chain restaurants: I can't help this, and I own it. I love me some chain restaurants, and there's several that I'm very loyal to. Don't get me wrong- I don't exclusively eat out or eat fast food (I love to cook, and I also enjoy trying local restaurants when I travel) but I definitely appreciate my favorite national restaurants for when the cravings hit. If you move to Vermont, expect to say your forever goodbyes to Chick Fil A, Dairy Queen, Waffle House, Sonic, Krispy Kreme, (and two of my Carolinas favorites, Bojangles and Cookout). Sit-down chain restaurants are limited here as well. There are a few chains in the South Burlington/Williston area, but a lot of my favorites didn't make it up here, like On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Maggiano's, P.F. Chang's... and the love of my food life, The Cheesecake Factory. Out of all of these.... Dairy Queen is probably the one I have missed the most!! Nothing like a Blizzard, y'all.

     7. Worst highway driving: Vermont's Interstate 89 has to be the worst interstate I've ever driven on- ever. I have always enjoyed highway driving, ever since I first learned to drive in high school. A lot of my friends were scared of highway driving when they first got their licenses, but it was always my favorite! When I moved to Charlotte, I actually really liked having major city interstates to drive on. I'm weird I know. Anyways, I-89 up here has almost killed my joy and love for the American Interstate System. In the Burlington corridor (if you can even call it that... remember that earlier in this post I taught you that Burlington, the largest city in the state, only has one highway exit!), the speed limit on I-89 for several miles is 55. 55!!! And the cops will pull you over for going 60+! They are always hanging out in the median, just waiting. Clearly because Vermont is so boring and has no major crimes or anything exciting going on, so catching drivers cruising down the highway at 65 mph is a priority.
      Once you're out of Burlington either north or south, the speed limit on I-89 does increase, but the driving conditions get low-key terrifying. There is NOTHING on this highway. It goes to 10-20 miles between exits. And there is NOTHING between exits. Sometimes you may see a farm on the side of the road if you're luck- that's it!! It's just trees, trees, more trees, maybe some mountains, maybe a river, and TREES. No cities, no town, and no billboards because Vermont is one of four states (my home state of Maine included) that they're illegal! A lot of stretches on I-89 also have little to no cell phone service because it runs through such secluded parts of the state. It's TERRIFYING. Once you cross from VT into NH there is a decent sized town on the border, and then it becomes New Hampshire nothing-ness for a lot of miles again.
     A lot of people have asked me why I didn't try and go home to Maine more while I lived in Vermont. Part of it was due to my insane work schedule, but part of it was due to the fact that making the drive from Vermont to Maine solo on I-89 terrified me! Like what if something every happened to my car on one of the stretches that was 15 miles between exits?! And again- this is coming from someone who genuinely enjoys interstate road trips.... but not here!! I'll just say thank goodness Vermont didn't have tolls. It did have that going for it I suppose!

     8. The not-hot summers: I'm not going to list Vermont winter as one of my list items because everyone knows Vermont winter is snowy and cold. That's not an earth shattering fact or a surprise... and that was something I knew when I moved here. However- something I was not expecting was how not-hot Vermont summer's are. It barely got out of the 70s at all last year! The midwest is also known for having brutal cold and snow-filled winters, but many midwestern states also have very hot summers so they at least get a true summer season. Vermont does NOT. Pretty sure it only hit over 90 degrees for five days in 2017? Most of summer was in the 60s and 70s... and after a few years in North Carolina that is April weather to this girl- not July weather!!!

     9. Burlington parking costs: You can see my frustration with this illustrated in one of the photos above- lol! Burlington, like many other cities around the country, has very limited free parking. There are a couple public garages (TBH I was amazed Vermont had parking garages), some lots, and many meters throughout downtown. My gripe about paying for parking in Burlington is that Burlington isn't like a city at all and really is like a glorified large town, so there is nothing there worth paying for parking! Sure, it was annoying to pay for parking in Uptown Charlotte, but Charlotte is a real city and when I'd go to dinner in Uptown with friends, it felt like a real night out on the town, and worth it to spend a few dollars to park and treat yourself. There is nothing city-like feeling about Burlington... so why on earth should I pay Charlotte parking costs to go there?! Some of the lots are truly ridiculous in what they charge. Once when my parents were visiting, I changed my mind on a restaurant I wanted to take them to because the lot closest to it was charging so much that day!
     Some good news related to Burlington parking: all the city meters are free on Sundays, so that is a plus. And a couple of the garages are free for the first two hours, so if you have quick business to do downtown and keep track of your time, you don't have to pay. But still very annoying!!


     Thank you for making it through this list of grievances about my time in Vermont!! You might be wondering with all these things that I won't miss- if there's anything that I will miss. The answer is yes! I will definitely miss going for nature walks at my favorite trail in Vermont, the Colchester Causeway. This summer I was walking there as much as 3-4x weekly! (The photos for this blog post were shot on the trail there!)

     I will also miss a few wonderful friends that I have made here in Vermont. I have truly met some incredible people here. It was very hard to make friends when I first moved to Vermont, and figure out how to have a social life with my weird and crazy work schedule, especially since I worked both Saturdays and Sundays for my first five months here. Around the holidays, it finally hit me one day that I finally had made a few good friends here, and that was an amazing revelation to have! Although I am SO EXCITED to be leaving for Virginia, I will treasure the friendships I did make during this year, and I have no doubts I will keep in touch with everyone. I might even expect a couple Vermont visitors to Virginia in the next year or two!

     I can't believe that I'm just a few days away from moving day- eeeek!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


March 12, 2018

Vermont Bachelorette Pad Tour: Blog Office

     You didn't think I'd move out of Vermont before finishing my apartment tour with y'all, did you? 😉In fact, I saved the two best parts of the tour for last: my blog office area and bedroom! In today's post I'll be sharing Southern Belle in Training's first-ever office space.

Southern Belle in Training - Blog Office Tour

Pink and Gold Gallery Wall Inspo

Girly Home Office

Fashion Blogger Office Space

Fashion Blogger Desk Inspiration

Southern Belle in Training - Home Office Tour

Chic Home Office - Pink and Gold

Photography by Amanda Rose Photography

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

Blog Office Details: Desk {old, similar here} // Chair // Lamp {mine not online, very similar linked for under $20!} // Flamingo Jewelry Dish // Love Picture Holder // Polka Dot Frame // Mug // Pop Fizz Clink Wall Art {mine not online, very similar linked} // Other Wall Art // Candle // 

Outfit Details: Jumper c/o // Sweater {sold out, similar} // Necklace {old, similar} // Shoes // Lipstick c/o //

     Welcome to my blog office! Or should I properly say, the blog office portion of my living/dining room. My Vermont apartment had a very open and large living and dining room, and quite honestly I didn't know what to do with a space like that when I first moved in, as I didn't have much large furniture! My bedroom was smaller than the one that I had in Charlotte, so I knew that if I wanted to finally have a blogging desk/office space, it would go in apart of my living room. Since I didn't have a couch in this apartment (I had plush chairs instead) this ended up working spatially quite well!

     My desk was generously given to me a couple years ago by a friend who was moving in Charlotte and didn't need it anymore, and I built the rest of this little area over time around the desk. (Pro tip for getting furniture on the cheap or for free: if a friend or family member is moving, see if they're getting rid of any furniture pieces for free, especially if it was a college or first apartment! A lot of the stuff I have now is hand-me-downs from friends in Charlotte who had moved before I did.) Anyways, I wanted my blog desk area to reflect the colors of my current website/branding: which are black, gold and pink. I was so excited when I found this pink acrylic chair right before I left Charlotte last year- it's actually very comfortable to sit in too!

     Ironically- I rarely ended up doing blog work at this desk while living in my Vermont apartment! When I did blog work at home, I almost always worked at my dining table (usually while eating). I'm hoping in my new apartment in Virginia to set up this desk area again and actually start doing more work at the space I have set aside for Southern Belle in Training!

     Out of all of my desk decor, the thing I have to recommend the most is this package of gallery wall art. I've talked about this before on the blog but I have to share again! Most of my gallery wall art comes from a big book of prints from me and my BIG ideas. The book contains art prints of all sizes and colors, and you just cut out and frame the ones you want to use! I think this would make an amazing graduation or housewarming gift for someone. I received my book of wall art in a PR package years ago and clearly I'm still using a lot of the prints today! I might even buy a different book with more prints for my new apartment.

     Thanks so much for checking out my apartment blog office area! You can also check out these other posts from my Vermont apartment tour:

      I can't believe that it's only a couple days now until the move!! Stay tuned to my Instagram Stories @miss_alk for behind-the-scenes updates this week.

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 
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