Southern Belle in Training

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

May 31, 2018

Monticello Wine Trail: Keswick Vineyards

     Charlottesville, Virginia, my new home city, is famous for many things. Some very good things, like being home to the prestigious University of Virginia. and some not-so-good things, like the white supremacist rallies that happened here last summer. Something to add to the list of GOOD things that this area of Virginia is known for are the incredible wineries! Charlottesville is located smack in the middle of Central Virginia's wine country, and the region is actually home to 33 wineries that comprise the Monticello Wine Trail. I've made it one of my goals since moving here to visit all of these wineries at some point! Not sure I can get to them all in my first year here, but I'd sure like to try. 😊Anyways, a couple weekends ago when my friend Caroline was visiting, we went to Keswick Vineyards! This was my 5th winery visit on the Monticello Wine Trail. I thought it would be fun to share a few details from the day:

What to Wear to a Winery

Pink Hunter Boots Spring Outfit

Embroidered Denim Skirt Outfit

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

My outfit details: Top {similar} // Skirt c/o // Boots //

     Unfortunately, the weather wasn't too great on the day that Caroline and I headed over the Keswick. But the clouds in the sky didn't dull the fact that we had a great time! We started our time there with a wine tasting. The $12 wine tasting option includes a variety of white and red selections, and we both enjoyed it. We then went on a walking adventure to explore the beautiful grounds! While the wine tasting room at Keswick is very nice, the prettiest part of the winery is by far the manor home that is used for weddings and other large-scale events (the large white home pictured above). The architecture is absolutely stunning, and the fountain in front of it makes it picture perfect! Gazing at the white fences and endless fields of wine grapes make Keswick Vineyards seems something like a dream. Driving through the small village of Keswick from Charlottesville to get to the vineyard is very picturesque as well- you'll pass miles of farms and rolling hills. 

    Both Caroline and I wore our Hunter boots for this day's adventure, since the ground was still pretty damp from rain the night before. I styled mine with this embroidered jean skirt, which is a little out of my fashion comfort zone, but I really liked how the end look turned out. Winery style is really fun- you can wear something a little dressy (like a nice sundress or fun skirt), and I'd pick your shoes based on how much walking you anticipate doing. If your main goal is to sit and enjoy the wine tasting, heels or wedges would probably be fine! But if you want to walk the grounds and explore the winery in full, flat sandals or cute sneakers would be your best bet (or rain boots in case you have weather like we did!). 

     I loved visiting Keswick Vineyards, and hope to go back when the weather is nicer. I'm so excited to see the remaining 26 wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail!

     Are there any wineries where you live? I don't know of any in Southern Maine (where I'm from). Vermont had a couple, but they were very tiny. North Carolina has a lot, but they're in the northern part of the state, so none by Charlotte. Charlotte however is known for its extensive craft beer and brewery scene!


     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

May 30, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

Cute Yellow Romper - beach OOTD

{Enjoying a beach walk in my hometown during Memorial Day Weekend! Outfit details below. Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk}

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

  • HQ Trivia: Okay I feel really late to get on board with this, but I've finally started playing HQ Trivia! Have y'all played? It's the live game show app that you can win real cash prizes on. A bunch of the girls in my community group at my new church are obsessed with it, so I was convinced to finally download it! You have to play when the game is live, and a lot of the times aren't very convenient for my schedule, but I have gotten to play a couple times and it's super fun! So far I have yet to make it past Question 5 though...
  • My trip home: I had such a nice visit home to Maine for the long weekend. The weather wasn't ideal, but the rain did hold off and Saturday it was warm enough to go for a nice beach walk with my parents! I spent a lot of time with them, got to see my grandma, aunt and uncle, and also met up with a few girlfriends. I probably won't be coming home again until Christmas, so I'm so happy it worked out to go to Maine for these couple days with my work schedule. Hoping to spend a more days there next summer so I can enjoy some real beach days!
  • Big closet clean-out: Over the past couple weeks I've done a large closet clean-out! I try and do this at the end of each season (I take the clothing and shoes that I don't want anymore to consignment shops or Goodwill), but since I recently moved and got to refresh myself on everything in my closet, I was able to do a bigger clean-out than normal. It feels so good! I love clothes obviously, but there's no sense in hanging onto things that don't fit well anymore, are  out of date styles, or are too worn. It always feels good to clean out my closet, but this time feels even better since so many things left! 

  • I picked up this adorable striped t-shirt during Memorial Day Sales. I love the colors in it- it's so summery and reminds me of rainbow sherbet! It runs very large though, I bought an XXS. 
  • My mom bought me these block heels which I am obsessed with! I'm planning to wear them for the wedding that I'm going to this summer. They are simple enough to match many outfits, but also very unique- I'd never seen heels quite like this before so I knew I needed them! 
  • Here's the romper that I'm wearing in the photo above! It is super cute... but on a TMI note, it is a bit see-through. (Nude colored underwear is a must to wear with it!)

  • I almost bought this striped mini skirt that I found while shopping the MDW sales! It was so cute on me- I held back from buying it only because I have a couple Lilly Pulitzer mini skirts already in similar summer colors that I don't wear that much. But this striped mini skirt was under $20 and sure was cute!!
  • I saw these heels while shopping this weekend as well, and thought they were so cute! These would be great everyday heels for summer- perfect for the office, church, and everything in between!
  • Gingham of course is still such a trending pattern for this summer, but I haven't seen too many gingham prints in purple or violet hues. This shirt is really cute!
  • Such a cute little swing dress that's perfect for hot summer nights or upcoming beach vacations!
  • This is the most darling pink purse that's seriously perfect for the warm months ahead. I have a pink wallet but no pink purses- I think this needs to change!

Recipe of the week: This week I'm asking y'all for a recipe recommendation! I have a party to go to on Saturday night and want to bake cookies as my food item to bring. Normally I do the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe as my go-to crowd pleasing cookie, but I'm looking to mix it up for this weekend! Do you have any good fairly easy cookie recipes that are a hit at parties? If so, let me know in the comments! 

Song of the week: Nice for What by Drake. This is one of Drake's newer songs, and this one took a good few weeks to grow on me! I didn't like it much at first, but our local urban station started playing it a lot, and now I think it's very catchy.

On the blog this week:

    Thanks so much for reading! I hope you're having a good week post-long weekend... we're more than halfway to the next weekend! 😊

     God Bless,

    xoxo Annaliese


May 29, 2018

Grocery Store Wars: Giant

     Welcome back to the third edition of Grocery Store Wars on the blog! If you've missed the first two posts, this is the series where I'm reviewing all of the grocery chains with locations in my new home city in Virginia. I've always had a passion for grocery shopping, and through sharing about this randomly on IG Stories one day a couple months ago I learned that a lot of y'all do as well! Hence the idea for Grocery Store Wars. Even if you don't have any of these chains where you live, maybe you're like me and love grocery shopping and still think it's cool to read about regional grocery stores in other parts of the country!! (Or if not and you think this blog post series is super weird- regularly schedule blog programming returns tomorrow. 😉)

     Today's grocery store: Giant! (P.S. The photo of me below was actually taken at home in Maine this weekend, at our local grocery chain, Hannaford! I realized when starting to write this post that I'd forgotten to take a photo of me with the Giant sign back in Charlottesville... so hopefully a grocery cart photo is fitting enough!)

Grocery Store Wars: Giant

     Giant - Fast Facts

     *History and Locations: Founded in 1936 in Washington, DC. Currently operating 150+ stores in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.

     *Known for: Their website highlights the fact they were one of the first grocery chains to use computerized scanners at checkout, and that they have a strong commitment to diversity in their hiring process. Giant was formerly merged and affiliated with Stop n Shop, a large New England grocery chain, between 2004-2011, and the two chains still share the same logo and some store brands, even though they're no longer part of the same parent company today.

     *Rewards program: Giant card program. (I don't shop here often so I actually haven't signed up for this yet.) Some locations have some sort of a fuel rewards program, however I don't think the location near me has it.

      *My prior knowledge: I had never heard of this grocery store prior to moving to Virginia. The one in Charlottesville is located in a neighborhood close to where I work and where my bible study meets, so I am frequently in that area. I was a bit confused at first when seeing Giant since they share the logo of Stop n Shop from New England, but then discovered while researching this post that they're no longer affiliated.

     *Word on the street: I have yet to meet anyone in Charlottesville who really likes shopping at the Giant that's here! It's convenient I suppose for the neighborhood it serves, but it's definitely not a grocery "destination." I've asked a couple of my DC friends where they grocery shop and they've told me they prefer Harris Teeter.

     Giant - My Shopping Experience 

     Like I said above, the times that I've shopped at Giant before were mainly out of convenience (when I'm out and about in the part of town it's in). The best way that I can describe my shopping experiences here is that this grocery store is "average." They have a decent selection of dry goods items at reasonable prices (baking aisle, cereals, pantry items, etc), a moderately sized frozen food section, and okay departments for other things. But nothing about the food at Giant stands out to me. The prices aren't bad, but the sales aren't especially great either. And the selections were definitely lacking in some departments.

    Here's the produce department in my local Giant! It actually had a nice mix of organic and non-organic produce, and the prices weren't too bad. As I've shared in the past Grocery Wars posts, I am trying to get better about eating more fresh produce in my diet, but this is still something I'm working on, so this still isn't my favorite department in the grocery store.

     It wouldn't be one of my grocery posts if I didn't highlight the cheese department! Giant's wasn't the biggest that I've seen in the Charlottesville grocery stores, but not the smallest either. (I haven't tried Giant's store brand cheeses since I don't shop there that often.)

      Their organic section of the store has it's own refrigerated and frozen department, and carried the same store brand that I was familiar with from Stop n Shop in New England! I did like the organic and natural department of the store- they carried some favorite products of mine (like a certain Annie's mac n cheese flavor) that I haven't been able to find at other chain grocery stores in Charlottesville.

     I did notice that Giant had a nice floral department! I usually buy flowers from Trader Joe's since I think you can't beat their prices, but it's nice to know this is an option too.

     One thing that was a major downside at Giant was the bakery. As a lover of sweet treats and freshly baked breads, I always appreciate a grocery store with a big bakery department. Every time that I've been to the Giant in Charlottesville, I've been shocked at the low selection in their bakery. And the few items they do have always seem old and stale looking. This is definitely not somewhere that I'd come to buy fresh bread or any type of bakery baked good.

     Giant - Final Thoughts 

     DC and parts of Maryland seem to be the home base for Giant stores. When I was in DC a couple months ago, I actually passed by some very large and fancy looking Giants. Charlottesville however is not the home for these. There's just not much about this specific store location that makes it stand out enough to me to make me continue doing most of my grocery shopping here! I will say that I thought the Charlottesville store had great customer service- and friendly associates are something I do always appreciate. But other than that, so far Giant is my least favorite Charlottesville grocery store.

     Check out past Grocery Store Wars posts:

     Hoping that y'all enjoyed the long weekend! A new Midweek Ramblings post will be on the blog tomorrow for your Wednesday.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

May 26, 2018

Best Memorial Day Weekend Sales + What I'm Doing This Weekend!

     Hi Friends! Happy Saturday too you, and happy long weekend as well. I hope your Memorial Day Weekend is off to a fantastic start so far! This is one of my favorite weekends of the year to shop and take advantage of great sales. Black Friday will be forever my favorite holiday weekend for shopping, but Memorial Day Weekend does what it can as far as spring/summer sales are concerned!

     I wanted to pop in today to share a round-up of sales at my favorite retailers, and I thought I'd also share what I'm up to for the holiday this year with y'all! Last year in Vermont, I only had Memorial Day Monday itself off (I had to work both Saturday/Sunday), so I didn't travel anywhere or do anything fun. I'm so thankful to actually have long weekends this year for a few holidays like this one!

Photo from this blog post

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

     Memorial Day Weekend Sales 2018: 

      *Ann Taylor - 40% off your total purchase. Use code SOREADY.

     *Anthropologie - Take up to an extra 40% off sale items online. Take 20% off full price furniture and decor.

     *Banana Republic - 40% off your total purchase. Use code BRSUMMER. Free shipping on orders $100+, use code BRSHIP.

     *Baublebar - Up to 70% off Memorial Day sale. Best-selling pieces all marked down.

     *Chicwish  - Extra 10% off orders $70+, and free shipping.

     *Express - Up to 50% off everything - no code.

     *J. Crew - 40% off your total purchase, use code GETAWAY.

     *J. Crew Factory - 50% off everything, extra 50% off clearance. Use code WINWIN.

     *JC Penney - Extra 20% off orders under $100, extra 25% off orders over $100. Code changes daily.

     *Kate Spade - Extra 30% off sale items. Use code GREATFIND.

     *Kendra Scott - Spend $100, take 15% off. No code.

     *Lisi Lerch - Take 30% off Lisi Lerch favorites, $5 shipping.

     *LOFT - Take 40% off everything. Use code LONGWKND.

     *Macy's - Extra savings in all departments, either 10%, 15%, or 20% off. Use code MEMDAY.

     *Nordstrom - Half-Yearly Sale - save up to 40% off!

     *New York & Company - Everything 50% off or BOGO. Free shipping over $50.

     *Shein - Take $5 off orders $59+, $10 off orders $89+. Code changes daily. (And use my code MISSALK20 to save 20% off your purchase!!)

     I'm definitely hoping to take advantage of some of these great sales this weekend, and I also want to stop by the Kennebunkport location of The Best of Everything- my very favorite discount jewelry store! (I find so many of my favorite jewelry pieces here, and this store is one of the things I love most about coming up!)

     As promised- my plans for the weekend! I am headed home to Maine to spend some quality time with my parents. I actually haven't been home in 10 months... isn't that crazy? I was supposed to go home at Christmas, but questionable weather kept me in Vermont. The same thing happened again in March, before my move! I was going to go home for a few days, but a snowstorm in the Vermont mountains prevented me from making the drive. Anyways, while this trip will be brief, it's much overdue! Sadly it's supposed to rain all three days that I'm home, so it won't be great beach weather, but overall I'm just really looking forward to relaxing. While life has been amazing since I moved, it's also been super busy, so it will be quite a treat to have a quiet weekend to really catch up on sleeping, reading, seeing my mom, dad and some extended family, and getting to eat at some of my favorite restaurants at home! And I get to have breakfast with my best friend Jules on Monday morning before I leave- so I can't wait for that. 😊

     I'd love to hear what you're up to this weekend, and if you're planning to shop any sales! Let me know in the comments.

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


May 24, 2018

Spring PR Packages Review.

     Happy Long Weekend-Eve! I hope that your week has been going well so far, and that you have a nice weekend of plans to look forward to, whether you're traveling or staying local! Today I'm sharing one of my favorite types of posts to write every few months: the latest round of beauty PR unboxing and reviews! It is so generous that I'm on the gifting lists for several beauty companies, so I love testing out the products I receive through being a blogger, and sharing my honest reviews with y'all. My usual disclaimer with these posts: I'm not in a sponsored relationship with any of these brands, everything I'm reviewing today was gifted to me!

Spring Blogger Mail Unboxing

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     Starting off with one of my favorites- Avon! They seriously always send the most generous and creative influencer gifts. The most recent PR package I received with a fun summery gift to promote their Skin So Soft Bug Guard products. I can't even tell y'all how relevant this package was for me! Biting bugs LOVE me. True story: the only thing I have ever asked blog photographers of mine to edit/photoshop on my images is BUG BITES! Whenever I get bitten by a mosquito, fly, or anything else, I swell up so badly and it's terrible. Anyways, my mom used to buy Skin So Soft when I was little, and I remember it both worked well and I loved the smell! So excited to test out the 2018 version. Plus- how generous of Avon to also send cute wine glasses, a bottle of rose, and a fun tray?! 

     Next up is another longtime favorite beauty brand: IT Cosmetics! One makeup product that I actually don't think I've ever tried from IT before is eyeliner. I received their Superhero Liner in a PR mailer last month and have been wearing it regularly with my normal makeup routine to test it out! Ink eyeliner pens are my favorite type of eyeliner to wear, so I had a feeling I'd like this product, and I do! I find it very easy to apply, and the staying power is wonderful. But... since these reviews are always 100% honest, I will tell you that I've tried drugstore brand liner pens before that I think work and look the same as this product, and for half the price. So you might want to keep that in mind! But this is still a good product if you like to splurge on eyeliner.

     This spring I've also had the chance to try out a new-to-me product from Dove! Their exfoliating body polish is great to use in the shower or bath. I really like using this on days that I shave my legs in the shower, and I've noticed that it really prolongs the softness of my legs compared to when I don't use it. My favorite scent is the Pomegranate and Shea Butter- it smells more like fruit cupcakes to me!

     You might recognize some of these next items from my Instagram! All Things Hair sent me a box filled with goodies from brands like TRESemme, Dove, and ApotheCARE Essentials! They also sponsored a giveaway on my Instagram for an identical box that I was able to gift to a sweet follower. I'm especially looking forward to trying the TRESemme Micro Mist- I've never tried a hair product exactly like this one before!

      And finally, some wonderful goodies from Inspired Soapworks Limited! They are a Canadian small business making skincare and bath products, and I connected with their founder, Laura, through Instagram! She generously sent me a sampling of some of their top products, including a bath and foot soak, salves, and a loofah slice! So far I have been especially loving the salves. I always put lotion on my legs after showering, and when I use the salve after putting lotion on, it makes me legs feel so incredible soft and moisturized. (Like lotion x10!) I don't have time during most weeknights anymore to take baths, but the next time I take one I can't wait to try the bath and foot soak. Check out all of Inspired Soapworks Limited's wonderful products on their website!

      Thanks so much for reading my spring PR reviews post!! A few of the products mentioned are linked below for easy shopping. I hope that you're having a good end to the week- Memorial Day Weekend is in sight!! I'm headed home to Maine this weekend, but I'll still be popping in this weekend and on Monday to share round-ups of the best MDW sales. Long weekends are often the best time to get your shopping on!

      God Bless,

       xoxo Annaliese 

May 23, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{A Royal Wedding inspired look from this past weekend (dress details below). Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk!}

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  • Royal Wedding Thoughts: Of course I have to give a shout-out to the biggest wedding event of the year (possibly decade?) on the blog! I intended to wake up earlier on Saturday to watch more of the wedding, but with my friend Caroline visiting we ended up sleeping in until about 8 am, so we only caught the very end. What a grand celebration! I loved seeing some American elements (such as the choice of pastor, and the choir) brought into the normally traditional British ceremony. Harry and Meghan looked so happy and in love! However... in all honesty, I didn't love either of Meghan's dresses. I did like the reception one better than the ceremony dress, but neither were really my taste. Honestly- Kate's or Princess Diana's dresses weren't my favorite either. Maybe British Royal wedding dresses just aren't my style? Haha! What did you think of the royal wedding? 
  • Hostess for the Weekend: My senior year college roommate Caroline visited me in Charlottesville this weekend, and we had a great time! The weather was unfortunately awful for her first two days here, but we made the best of it, and still had a wonderful and low-key visit. We checked out a new-to-me winery on Saturday morning for a wine tasting, and then in the afternoon Caroline got to come into work with me and have a tour of the radio station. The weather got worse Saturday night, so we went to the movies and saw Book Club. (Has anyone seen it? So funny!) The mellow but great weekend was a good reminder that you don't always need to go above and beyond when entertaining friends. Sometimes just planning a couple activities and spending a lot of time relaxing and catching up is great too! 
  • Headed North: I will be going home to Maine to see my parents for Memorial Day Weekend! I had to work both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends last year at my former job so I wasn't able to travel anywhere for either. I feel very lucky to already have this long weekend off at my new job, and it will be nice to be home for a couple days. I haven't been home in almost 10 months! As of now, the forecast says rain for just about the whole time... I'm hoping this will change between now and then. 
  • New Favorite Financial App: I have been wanting to integrate more financial content into my blog this year, so I might do a whole blog post on this and other things related, but for today I did quickly want to share! I downloaded the app Goodbudget right around the time I moved to Virginia, and this has been so helpful in tracking my expenses and making sure I stick to my monthly budget! If you're familiar with the cash envelope system of budgeting, this app works similarly to that. You create a personal budget with different "virtual envelope" categories (such as Rent, Groceries, Gas, etc), and then as you spend money throughout the month, you record each purchase you make or bill you pay in its appropriate envelope. While I found a few things about the design of the app confusing when I was first using it, I've got the hang of it now, and have really found this helpful for staying financially accountable! Again- more posts to come on stuff like this. 

Purchases: So this week I had a variety of miscellaneous things to take care of- in addition to the usual bills, I had some presents to get, packages to mail, travel expenses for my trip this weekend, and I also spent more out and about this weekend than I normally do since I was entertaining. No fun shopping to balance all of this out- it's all about sticking to budget! 😉

     If you're interested though in the pretty pink lace dress I'm wearing in the photo above, you can shop that here!  (Be sure to size up.)


  • This blue jumpsuit is adorable! It screams summer date night to me. The bow totally makes it!
  • I am considering getting a new pair of nude heels for a wedding I'm going to this summer. This block heels have a fun formal twist to them- I keep looking at them online! 
  • I need some more summer tops that are work appropriate and not too casual. (Radio is a casual workplace but most days I like to dress up a bit.) I'm going to see if this cute top is on sale this weekend!
  • The cutest little summery chambray top - this would coordinate with so many looks. 
  • Ummmm... is this not the PRETTIEST cocktail dress you've ever seen?! (I might consider ordering for the wedding I'm going to this summer... but I tend to tear up dance floors, and my only fear is it wouldn't be the most flexible dress for dancing! Ha!))

Recipe of the week: I actually didn't try any new recipes this week! I re-made a few old favorites that I've shared many times before on here, and also have been trying to eat up all of the leftovers in my fridge since I'll be gone this weekend. Looking forward to trying many new recipes in June! 

Song of the week: Bad Boys by Inna. Inna is my favorite European Dance Pop artist. I've been listening to her since high school, and I'm kind of obsessed! She's pretty big in many European countries- I wish her songs would break into US Top 40 charts someday. Anyways, I listen to Inna radio on Spotify a lot, and just found this song! I feel like it has Bollywood influences and I LOVE it!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 



May 22, 2018

Why I Love Blogging... But Don't Want to Blog Full Time.

    In September, it will mark 6 years since I started Southern Belle in Training (!!!). I never expected when starting a blog during my freshman year of college that it would be such a big part of my life so many years later. Blogging is one of my greatest passions, and I mean it when I say I can't imagine what the last several years would have been like without it!

     Something that I've started getting asked a bit in the last year especially is "Do you ever want to make Southern Belle in Training your full time job?" My answer, which usually surprises the person who asked the question, is always "Nope!" There's several reasons behind the fact that I don't personally want to be a full time blogger, and I thought that might make for an interesting blog post topic. Hence why I'm sharing this today!

Why I Don't Want to Blog Full Time

Photo by Amanda Rose Photography - from this blog post where I shared a tour of my blog office in my former apartment! 

     Disclaimer: I don't mean for today's post in any way to bash any women (or men?) who have decided to be full time bloggers/influencers for their career. Many of my favorite blogs that I read on a daily basis are run by total boss babe women who blog full time, and actually some of my good blogging friends (who have become real life friends) blog full time as well. I totally respect someone's decision to do that if they feel that's where they want their career to go (and are in a financial place to afford this!).... today's blog post is simply to share my personal reasons for why I don't see this being Plan A for Southern Belle in Training. 

     Loss of financial security: This is the biggest reason! Being an adult is expensive. In addition to the normal daily expenses, life throws financial curveballs at you all of the time. Surprise car maintenance, medical emergencies, unexpected but necessary travel... etc. And these are just necessary expenses! I'm not even talking about saving and investing for the future, or having extra money to treat yourself or those that you love. Like I said- adulthood is expensive. I personally love the financial security of having a day job and a paycheck that arrives every two weeks. Radio jobs aren't known for their financial abundance (people join this industry for the passion, not the paycheck), but I have learned how to be thrifty and stretch my paychecks, and I'm able to cover all of my expenses, pay the bills, and still save a little bit. However... the thought of trying to live off of income with the type of blog campaigns that I'm currently being offered right now? YIKES! I can't even imagine. I give so much props to the amazing women that are able to grow their blogs and brands into something that is able to be many times more profitable than their day job was (and many people do that!)... however many bloggers also aren't able to do that, and it's important to be realistic if you fall into the latter category.

     Loss of benefits: This comes second after loss of general financial security! Health insurance isn't something that I ever thought much about in the 22 past years of my life, but this year since I started working and being offered benefits... yep, I'm now thinking about it! I used to be so naive that years ago,  I just assumed that if you worked full time, your employer covered all of your insurance costs. (HAHA nope!! Out it comes from those paychecks!) Even though I now am well aware that employees do have part of their paycheck removed for healthcare, I am thankful to have a full time job that offers healthcare and dental plans, and helps offset some of the costs! It would be very overwhelming to think about covering the costs for insurance 100% on my own. Sort of along the lines of this- most full time jobs also offer the chance to begin a 401k or some sort of retirement savings plan. While it is of course possible to do that while being self employed, it's a huge benefit when your company is able to match your contributions!

     Lack of motivation: Even if financially my blog was doing absolutely amazing financially and it made more sense for me to leave radio... I still might hesitate! I thrive the best in all aspects of life when I have a very set routine, and stay as busy as possible during weekdays. Working a 9-5 (technically a 10:30-6 with my current radio schedule) works VERY well to keep me motivated with blogging. I wake up early each morning excited to work on my blog, and return home from work every evening excited to continue working on the blog or social media. Having a day job makes me value the time that I do get to spend on my blog that much more, and therefore makes me more productive and able to balance both things. If I worked for myself 100% of the time... I'm honestly not sure how I'd stay on track all of the time! I love getting dressed and ready everyday for work and having my weekday work routine. I feel like it would be hard to get into that groove for working for myself- knowing my personality! I think I do a great job balancing working and blogging, and I look forward to continuing this for awhile to come.

     I like my day job: This is a big one too! I genuinely like what I do for my day job! I invested a lot of time and money into my education so that I could work in broadcasting someday, and once I had my first radio internship in college, I knew without a doubt this was the career path for me. I really enjoy working for the station and company that I work for here in Virginia, and I'm not anticipating any career changes anytime too soon. Why would I leave something I enjoy to work for myself? (Note: if you absolutely hate your day job and have hated it for awhile, it's 100% not the right job for you! My first radio job in Vermont was not nearly as good of a fit as my new job, and it is amazing the difference this makes on my emotional health!)

     No PTO: Okay- this one is a pro/con. (Disclaimer that radio is not an industry known for generous time off... there are definitely other types of jobs that are much better for this with their employees than my field.) But still- I do get some PTO each year, and it's amazing to know that you're still getting paid your normal salary to take a vacation! When you work for yourself, there is no PTO. Yes- technically everything is PTO (This is great for travel bloggers! You can just pick up and go at any time.), but at the same time, nothing is PTO! If you ever want to take a non-work related trip and just disconnect for a bit, that's a complete loss of income or potential business opportunities for those days.

     So these are my reasons for why I am happy with working full-time and also continuing to blog as my side hustle. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I've had over the past few years to monetize my blog, and I hope to only continue to grow that! I have told some friends before that my current financial goal with Southern Belle in Training would be to match my first salary (at my former job) with income from Southern Belle in Training- so that way even though I'd still be working full-time in radio, I'd have two full time job "salaries", and it would allow me a lot more financial freedom! But if that goal doesn't happen, that's okay too. It's not something hard and fast that I'm forcing myself to reach by a set date, but more something that I can work towards in the general future.

    Thanks for reading today's post! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you're a blogger yourself: is your goal to blog full time (or are you already?), or are you like me and want to keep your day job?

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


May 21, 2018

Tie-Waist Shirt + Neck Scarf = Two Spring Trends To Love!

     Finally sharing the last found of photos from an early spring shoot with Meredith- these were taken just a couple weeks after I moved to Virginia! I definitely saved the best for last, because I am low-key obsessed with two of the trends that I'm wearing in this outfit. 

Cute Preppy Spring Outfit

Virginia Fashion Blogger

How to Style a Neck Scarf

Classic Spring Style

Photography by Meredith Sledge

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     I'm clearly all about things that tie in today's outfit! Let's start with tie-front shirts. I started seeing this trend pop up in full force this winter, and I really wanted to get my hands on a white tie-waist shirt for spring and summer. I actually found the one that I'm wearing during my last shopping trip to Montreal before moving to Virginia, but this shirt is almost identical! It's not often that I purchase something that will match literally everything in my closet- but this shirt might be it. From casual jeans like I styled it here, to dress pants, shorts, skorts, and skirts- it coordinates with it all!

     A fun fashion discovery that I made last year: Zara is a great store to buy jeans at! They have some really unique denim styles, they're all so comfortable, and just about all of their denim is under $100. I also purchased the jeans I'm wearing here at Zara in Montreal, but I'm hoping this summer or fall to get to check out some of the Zara locations in the DC area. This pair of jeans is similar to the ones I'm wearing. And for the other spring trend that I'm loving: neck scarves! They are such a chic way to add a twist to an everyday outfit. The one I have here is also from Zara- this one is similar though!

     I hope that y'all had a great weekend. Mine was just the best! One of my dearest friends, Caroline, came to visit me from Charlotte. Longtime SBIT readers might recognize her name- Caroline is one of my best friends from college and we were suitemates during senior year! She also helped take a lot of my blog photos during senior year specifically (and has quite the eye for photography). I haven't seen her since when I moved away from Charlotte- and 13 months is too long to be away from one of your favorite friends. I'll be sharing more about what we did this weekend in Wednesday's post!

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

May 17, 2018

BIG LIST of Great Books to Read This Spring!!

     I'm not sure what's quite gotten into me, but since becoming a Virginia resident, I've been bitten HARD by the reading bug! I was always a huge bookworm as a little girl, and I enjoyed reading for fun in high school as well. It was in college that I lost my passion for reading for fun for a few years- I just couldn't find the time between school, internships, starting my blog, Greek life, and everything else I was involved in! In Vermont I started to rediscover my love of reading, and now that love has come back full force, and I think it's actually more of an obsession. Since getting my Charlottesville library card, I've read 10 books in three and a half weeks! One of my resolutions for 2018 was to read 30 books this year... something tells me that I'll be having no trouble with hitting that goal, and doubling it or even tripling it!

     I have started using Good Reads to track my weekly reading goals and progress (you can follow me on there here!), and I also enjoy rating each book that I finish on Good Reads. Most of the books that I've read lately I've rated five stars, and they've made me want to text friends and say "YOU NEED TO READ THIS ASAP!" Each book has been so enjoyable, and I am really excited to share this book reviews post with y'all today. Typically I include book reviews in one of my outfit posts, but there are so many great books that I'm talking about today that I thought they deserved a full post of their own. 😊

Best Books to read for Spring

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     *The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle: I first heard about this book from this book reviews post from Caitlin! It sounded really interesting. This book tells the story of married couple Iris and Will- who have a seemingly perfect marriage and life in Atlanta. There is a tragic plane crash with a flight headed from Atlanta to Seattle, and Iris is informed that her husband was a passenger on the plane, and is among the deceased. She is in shock, as Will had told her that he was en route to Orlando for a work conference. Iris begins an intense search for the truth;  both the truth about her husband's past life, and if he actually was on the crashed plane to Seattle. This book definitely held my attention through the whole story, and I really felt Iris's pain and shock!
     ****4/5 stars

     *Whispers and Lies by Joy Fielding: This was my first Joy Fielding read, and the cover caught my eye amongst the library stacks! Books that I judge by the cover (literally) can be hit or miss, but I'm glad I decided to try one of Joy's books, as this was a very intriguing read. This is a psychological thriller, and the while the first 75% of the story is a bit slow (and some details of the start of the story almost seem insignificant), the final 25% of the book is shocking and mind blowing, and also a little bit disturbing to be honest. This book tells the story of Terry Painter, a single, 40-something nurse who resides in coastal Florida. She has inherited her late mother's house, and takes in tenants to help offset living costs. Terry feels immediately drawn to building a friendship her newest tenant, a young woman named Alison. But at the same time, Terry also finds herself very wary about Alison's mysterious past, and her reasons for being in Florida. I can't stress enough how shocking the end of this book was- I enjoy reading thrillers but out of all the ones I've read the ending of this one really had me for a loop!
     ***3/5 stars

     *Grand Avenue by Joy Fielding: After being so shocked by the ending of Whispers and Lies, I wanted to give another Joy Fielding book a try. Grand Avenue tells the story of four friends, Chris, Barbara, Susan and Vicki, who meet in the 1970s and discover that they're neighbors and all have young daughters around the same age. The book follows each of the four women through the years and explores their romantic relationships, their roles as mothers, their careers, and other topics like domestic violence, having affairs, and workplace issues. Similarly to Whispers and Lies, there is another big plot twist near the end of Grand Avenue (I'm starting to think this might be a theme with Joy Fielding's books?), but I felt a little more prepared for it this time. This book did have some heavy sexual content and strong language in parts, but I felt that it fit the story and helped make certain scenes more believable (if that makes sense), but I did want to note that. Overall I think I liked this one slightly more than Whispers and Lies, but both were definitely very unique books.
     ***3/5 stars

     *A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury: I was absolutely obsessed with Karen Kingsbury's books in high school. Karen is a Christian fiction author, and to date I've read over 30 of her books! I even had the chance to meet her at a book signing during my freshman year of college. My high school years were a really bad time for me (I suffered with anxiety and depression amongst other things), and I credit Karen's books to really being a light for me during a rough time. Anyways, her Baxter Family series was always my favorite!! She's written over 20 books about these characters. The Baxter Family books are set in Bloomington, IN, so it was really cool for me to visit Bloomington in January this past year- home of one of my favorite book series! Anyways, The Baxter Family books recently got a TV series deal, and the books are currently being developed into a show. Karen also has started writing more books about the Baxters, so I picked up with A Baxter Family Christmas from the library, which I really enjoyed! I'm not sure that this book would be as enjoyable as a stand-alone title if you haven't read the 20+ other Baxter Family books (these characters feel like old friends to me at this point), but since I am very familiar with the story line, I did really enjoy this book. Now I have three more newer Baxter Family books to catch up on!
     ***3/5 stars

     *Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians #1): OH MY GOSH- this book!!! I am so glad I decided to read this trilogy before the movie comes out later this summer!! I am not usually a stickler at all for reading a book before seeing a movie... but in the case of Crazy Rich Asians- I absolutely recommend reading all three book before the movie releases in August! If you were a fan of Gossip Girl, I can 100% guarantee you'll be obsessed with Crazy Rich Asians. The first book tells the story of Rachel Chu, an American-raised economics professor, who will be spending the summer in Singapore, with her history professor boyfriend Nick Young. Despite the fact that they've been dating for a couple years, Rachel knows very little about Nick's extended family in Singapore. When she arrives for their summer vacation, she is in shock to discover that they are one of the wealthiest families in the country, and he is heir to a great fortune. Rachel is very humble and doesn't care much about Nick's family's money, however his family isn't very welcoming to Rachel since she was raised American. This book also follows the lives of several of Nick's cousins and other family members, and the drama and plot is just so juicy!! I was seriously depressed when I finished this book and immediately requested the next two books in the trilogy from my library.
     *****5/5 stars

     *China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians #2): The second book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, and Kevin Kwan wrote an amazing follow-up to the first novel! This book chronicles Nick and Rachel's wedding, but also adds some new (very rich) characters into the mix, and follows another summer of crazy adventures in Asia for many of the characters from the first book. One of the main characters in China Rich Girlfriend is Colette, an insanely wealthy Chinese fashion blogger, so it was interesting for me as a blogger to read a bit about what the Chinese fashion blogging scene is like, since social media is a bit different over there. I loved this book as well, and it made me very excited to read the final book!
     *****5/5 stars

     *Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians #3): The final book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy I thought was the perfect ending to the series. This books centers around the fact that Nick Young has to return to his family's estate in Singapore unexpectedly after a family member falls ill. Something that I really liked about this trilogy was how the first book really explored the wedding customs of Asia's wealthiest families, the final book looked more closely at familial duties and funeral customs, which I found interesting to read about! This book also wraps up some loose plot ends from the second book, and I was very pleased with the ending. All in all, a great ending to the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy!
     *****5/5 stars

     *Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'Easter by Lisa Patton (Dixie #1): This trilogy!! Oh my gosh. This is one of my favorite library finds ever. The first book in the Dixie trilogy follows Southern Belle Lele Satterfield, a doting wife and mother who happily resides in Memphis, TN. One day, her husband gets the idea to move their family to Southern Vermont (!!!) to buy and renovate a bed and breakfast in a small mountain town. Lele is initially very opposed to move to Vermont, but eventually goes along with the plan to uproot their family. After moving, she is in shock for the first few months of acclimating to life in the Green Mountain State- let's just say that I could relate so much to Lele's depictions of Vermont life, and the native Vermonters that she met! This book was set in a fictional small town in Southern Vermont (near Manchester), probably about three-ish hours from Burlington, where I lived. But despite that, I still felt like I could relate so much to the character of Lele and this story in general! It made me laugh, it made me sentimental, and I just felt like I "got it"!! For anyone who doesn't understand the culture shock I went through after moving from Charlotte to Vermont... read this book! Haha. Anyways, this was an absolutely delightful read, and I couldn't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. Spoiler alert: this book ends with Lele leaving Vermont to go back South.... doesn't this sound familiar!? 😉
     *****5/5 stars

     *Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton (Dixie #2): I loved the second book in the Dixie trilogy possibly even more than the first! Lele Satterfield is back in the South, newly single, and job searching. She ends up taking a job at a radio station in the promotions department- seriously, did author Lisa Patton know about my life for the past year when she wrote these books?! Haha! Granted, Lele's adventures working in radio weren't all quite realistic, but it was super fun to read about! Lele also has a whirlwind romantic adventure in this book that added a fun plot line. A wonderful follow-up to the first book!
     *****5/5 stars

     *Southern as a Second Language by Lisa Patton (Dixie #3): The final book in the Dixie series was a great ending to Lele's adventures! This one is also set back in the South, but some of the beloved Vermont characters from the first book do make appearances in this book. Lele has left her job in the radio world and ventures into starting her own business, and realizes that just like running one in Vermont, there are also struggles with doing that in the South. I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Lele and the other characters when this book ended! I can't wait to check out other books from Lisa Patton. If you're headed on vacation soon, I think this trilogy would be ideal vacation reading.
     *****5/5 stars

      Please let me know if you've read any of these books and what your thoughts were about them! Or if you've read another good book lately- let me know in the comments on this post. I'm probably going to be making another library trip soon and I'll be planning to grab a lot of good books to read!

    Shop all of my favorite reads below:

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


May 16, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{Snapshot from this weekend hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

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  • Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival: What a fun weekend I had! On Saturday afternoon, I went to the Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival in Downtown Charlottesville with Alicia. What a fun local event! I had heard about this wine festival from some of my coworkers but had no idea what to expect. It was quite a production! Hundreds of people attended, and 27 local Central Virginia wineries were in attendance, offering tastings of their best wines. I visited my first Virginia wineries last month, and it's my goal to eventually visit all 30+ on the Monticello Wine Trail, so this festival was a great way for me to see which wineries offer which types of wines, and where they're located. 
  • Hiking Adventures: Before the wine festival, I also went hiking on Saturday morning with my boss and his wife! They took me to a trail that they enjoy called Humpback Rocks that is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 30 mins from Charlottesville. The trail was pretty steep but the views were UNBELIEVABLE and so worth it!! You can see some of the views pictured above. This was my first ride on the Parkway since moving and I can't wait to explore more of this amazing roadway in months to come.
  • Key Fobs... Not Necessary? Boring adult rambling of the week: I drive an older vehicle, and the fun of driving an older vehicles is that surprise problems do arise from time to time. In January, my car's key fob stopped working. I brought it to a battery shop in Vermont to have the batteries changed, but it ended up not being a battery issue, and I needed a new one to be ordered and computerized to my car. With job applications and then moving this kept getting put off, but anyways- I finally had this fixed last week! It ended up being more expensive than I thought... and since for the past five months I haven't had a working key fob... part of me is wondering if I should have just left it without one and saved some money? I have totally gotten used to unlocking my car the old fashioned way with the key- haha! Ah well- cheers to a new key fob I guess.
  • 1001 in 101: I have loved seeing other bloggers do the popular 1001 in 101 bucket list and have always wanted to make one for myself! I thought the best time to start one would be post-grad, once I felt a bit settled in where I lived and my career, so that way I had the most chance for success to complete the items. I am finally feeling like here in Virginia might be the place to do this, so I'm thinking this summer of putting together one of these bucket lists finally! Eeeek! Have you done an 1001 in 101 before, and if so, was it successful?


  • I needed a new clothing rack for this apartment, so I picked one up this week! The last one that I had got me through college and my first two apartments- it had a long life for the use it got, but didn't survive the move. Time for a new one so that I can finally really organize my closet and clothes!
  • I was so excited to find out I was one of the winners for a big giveaway that Haley from Alyson Haley did on her blog for Baublebar gift cards a few weeks ago. I wanted to wait to use my certificate until they had a sale, and they did this week! It's still going on today- use code SUMMER30 to save 30% off your purchase of 3+ items! (20% off one item with SUMMER20!) The first thing I bought was this cute ring- it will match so many things I have! 
  • I also purchased this bracelet set. I love them all individually, and they'd also look great worn together as a set, and mixed and matched with other bracelets I own! 
  • And finally- these adorable statement earrings. This was simple a "fun" purchase- but over the last couple months I've been pretty good about curbing my impulsive fun spending, so I figured I deserved to treat myself this week! They will brighten summer outfits.

  • A cute summery floral dress- perfect for how warm it has been in Charlottesville lately! 
  • My Charlotte blogger bestie Cara has started selling monogrammed straw bags on Etsy- these are adorable for the summer season!
  • These earrings are stunning and I'm thinking about ordering them for a wedding I'm attending this summer.
  • What a cute little floral romper this is! This would be just darling for a Girls' Night Out or vacation!
  • This bold skirt would be so cute with a white crop top and fun heels for dinner or date night.

Recipe of the week: Tuna Potato Patties from Don't Go Bacon My Heart. This is a fairly easy and very creative pantry recipe that makes a tasty dinner, and these would also make a good side dish for brunch or a big luncheon. I had one of my neighbors/new friends over for dinner one evening last week and made these- I was a little nervous to try a new Pinterest recipe with someone coming for dinner since they can always be hit or missed, but this was a hit! 

Song of the week: Everyday by Marshmello ft. Logic. Minus the 1-800 song (which had A LOT of radio airplay last year when I worked in Top 40 radio), I actually haven't been too familiar with Logic's other music. Such a shame- he is really talented!! This is one of his newest songs in collab with Marshmello and it's been happily stuck in my head all week! I've also been checking out some of his other music on Spotify. (Anyone else super sad that Logic and his wife are going through a divorce? I thought they were the cutest couple!)

On the blog this week:

     Thanks as always for reading!! I am a bit sleepy on this Wednesday as yesterday morning I filled in on my station's morning show! I absolutely love morning radio and hope to do it myself someday for my main job- but it can be weird for my schedule to fill in on the show one day randomly / have to wake up at 4 am when I'm not used to that most other weekdays with my current job schedule. So today I fight off the Zzzz's! 

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

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