June 21, 2018

National Wear Your Lilly Day 2018.

     It's one of my favorite non-official holidays of the year! Today is the first day of summer (real holiday), but June 21st is also National Wear Your Lilly Day, celebrated by Lilly Pulitzer fans everywhere. Out of all four seasons, summer is definitely the one that screams Lilly fashions and accessories. I always look forward each year on June 21st to wearing something Lilly, and sharing a Lilly Pulitzer look on my blog to celebrate!

National Wear Your Lilly Day

Blue Lilly Shift Dress

Lilly Pulitzer Shift Dress Style

Fashion Blogger Lilly Pulitzer

National Wear Your Lilly Day - Lilly Shift Dress

Lilly Pulitzer City Style

Photography by Deeana Kourtney - location: The Graduate Richmond hotel

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

     Lilly Pulitzer makes many different types of dress styles, and quite honestly I love them all! I own quite a few of the casual stretchy cotton dress styles, like the Sophie and Marlowe. However, any of the classic Lilly shifts will always have a special place in my heart. When I slip into a Lilly Pulitzer shift dress like the one that I'm wearing here, I instantly feel classy, put together, and confident. All of Lilly Pulitzer's unique prints make me so delighted to wear, and Lilly is just something that you feel happy in! This specific print is even more neon and vibrantly colored in person- I feel like the photos don't even do it full justice.

     I purchased the shift dress I'm wearing here in the After Party Sale that was at the end of last summer, but I hadn't really had a chance to wear it until recently (#WinterInVermontProbs). I know I'll be wearing this all summer long for dinners out, church, parties, and of course nights spent at rooftop bars, like I was last weekend in Richmond when these pictures were taken! 

     Something else that I love about Lilly Pulitzer is that their prints and clothing pieces don't really go out of style- they are always timeless for preppy fashion! I have some older Lilly pieces that I've found at thrift stores or have been given to me, and I love them just as much as newer Lilly that I've purchased myself. National Wear Your Lilly Day is so fun to celebrate each year, because you can wear one of the latest and greatest Lilly styles, or dig back into your closet and pull out an older Lilly gem! 

     A quick note about today's photoshoot location: these pictures were taken at the Byrd House, a stunning rooftop bar in Richmond, Virginia! It's located on top of the Graduate Richmond hotel, which I had the pleasure of staying at over the weekend for a girls' weekend with my friend Deeana! I'm looking forward to sharing more about my weekend and the hotel with y'all early next week.

     Today you can also feel free to check out some of my past National Wear Your Lilly Day blog posts from 2015 and 2017! Fellow Lilly lovers: are you celebrating today? Linking some of my favorite Lilly new arrivals below:

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

June 20, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

{A look at one of Richmond VA's highways by night! Loved getting to explore this city this weekend. Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk!}

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

  • Waking up extra early: I had an early morning event for work on Monday, so to prepare for that I tried going to bed early and waking up a lot earlier than normal for a few days leading up. I was very prepared for Monday, and have ended up loving the new weekday schedule so much that I think I'm going to try and make it stick! Previously, I was waking up around 7:30-8 am (still pretty early considering I don't leave for work most days until 10:30 am!), but lately I've been waking up between 6-6:15. It's very early, but I end up having so much extra time in the mornings, and feel so energized throughout my day! And then I have less trouble falling asleep at night. All around a win- I'm hoping to keep up the early schedule, at least on weekdays.
  • "Bad Chiller" Recap Show: I shared in last week's Midweek Ramblings that while most summers I do watch The Bachelorette, this year I just haven't been keeping up. However, one thing Bachelor related that I do keep up with religiously is Nick Viall's "Bad Chiller" Bachelorette recap show on Youtube, which also stars Dean Unglert and Jared Haibon. It is hilarious! The three guys play all characters on The Bachelorette this season (Becca included!), and they recreated the highlight moments from each week's episode. I laugh until I cry at most of these- I hope they continue this for Bachelor in Paradise! 
  • Summer bible study: Something that I'm excited about is that I just joined a summer bible study (we call them community groups) at my church here in Charlottesville! I had joined a 20 something women's community group shortly after I moved here, but that group is on break through the summer. I thought these next couple months would be a great time to keep getting to know people at my new church, and maybe study some different types of topics in the bible. The summer group I'm in is co-ed, and is focusing on racial relations in the American Christian church (both past and present), which I think is an excellent topic given some of the issues happening in our culture right now. The first meeting was on Sunday evening, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the summer. 


  • Lilly Pulitzer has brought back their S'well water bottle collaboration! I wasn't able to get one of these last time they did this, and I have all the heart eyes for the second edition of these. Truth be told- I don't even own a regular S'well bottle yet!
  • I'm always on the hunt for more cute summer tops that I can wear with jeans or skirts to work (my job is so casual that sometimes in the dead heat of summer, it does become hard to dress for!). This peplum striped tank is really fun!
  • A simple but chic striped summer sweater! This would also look great dressed up with a statement necklace. 
  • I have a pair of embroidered mules that I love and wear often, and I'd love another pair in a solid color! These metallic mules are so fun and come in many colors. 
  • This is SUCH a classy wrap top! Love the sleeve detailing and the color. 
  • My friend Nicole from What Nicole Wore shared these multicolored earrings and I absolutely love them!! They're so cute and fun, and I wish I had a pair to call mine too! 

Recipe of the week: Teriyaki Salmon from Damn Delicious. I've been trying to get better about trying more new recipes each week and falling out of "cooking ruts", and so far so good this week! I made this tasty salmon on Monday night- I don't cook fish for myself that often but this came out well! I omitted the Sriracha cream sauce and just did the teriyaki glaze. 

Song of the week: Bed by Nicki Minaj ft. Ariana Grande. Not the cleanest song or the best message... but it sure is catchy! This just dropped this week and it's been on repeat on my Spotify.  

On the blog this week:

     Thanks for reading!! Enjoy the rest of your week- summer is officially here as of tomorrow. And June 21st is also National Wear Your Lilly Day for Lilly Pulitzer fans... I'll have a special post up! 


     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

June 19, 2018

Radio 101: Working in Country Radio vs. Top 40 Radio.

     Whew- it's been awhile since I've written one of these posts! But I'm excited to bring back Radio 101 to the blog today after an extended break. This is the series where I talk about all things related to my day job and career in radio broadcasting! Everything from sharing my personal experiences in radio, to answering some of your questions about radio stations (such as why you hear the same songs over and over on certain types of radio stations). The last time that I wrote a Radio 101 blog post was in November 2017, which is when I was still working at my former stations in Vermont, and also around the time that I began to strongly realize I'd be pursuing other employment opportunities in early 2018. Since I was at a place late last fall where I knew I'd be leaving former radio job, it felt weird to keep writing these posts on my blog at that time.

     Thankfully- a lot can happen in a few months, and now it's actually been three months since I moved to Virginia and started working in country radio! I'm still absolutely loving my new job, and also loving being on-air in Charlottesville. I am excited to be bringing back Radio 101 blog posts this summer! I love being able to integrate a bit about my career into the blog, and it's fun for me to hopefully share with people some things about radio that they didn't know! I love working in an industry that's literally apart of everyone's lives in some way or another. 

     I thought a fun way to reintroduce Radio 101 on the blog would be to share some thoughts about working in Country radio versus CHR radio (Contemporary Hit Radio - Top 40)! Obviously I'm still very new in the radio industry, and I only did work in CHR for just under a year. But I still have some observations that I've made between the two types of radio from both of my jobs, as well as some internships and job shadowing experiences that I had back in school! 

      Working in Country radio vs. CHR radio

  • CHR: The whole point of Top 40 radio is to play the top songs on the radio airplay and Billboard Hot 100 charts... over and over and over! Which can be great if you're a consumer of radio and enjoy listening to what's popular and new now.... but if you work in radio on the other hand, this is absolute torture. The most popular songs of all are played as often as twice an hour, and this gets real old real fast. Songs that are very successful on the charts and have a long run on Top 40 radio are played frequently for 10+ weeks... and if you're hearing these songs multiple times a day (for work) for that long, it gets old. I'm saying that as someone who genuinely does like pop music, too! 
  • Country: I've been working in country radio for three months now, and still have yet to really get "sick" of the music! (PRAISE!) Sure- there are some songs and artists that I definitely like more than others. But there is a lot more variety in what you can play in the type of country station I work for, as we aren't just playing only the same 10-20 new country songs. We heavily play 90s, and early and late 2000s country, as well as the new stuff. Other country stations do play more new music and less gold tracks (older songs are often called "golds"), but even with that, I still feel there's a little more variety in the country format than Top 40. No songs on the station I work for now play as often as once or twice an hour! The most I'll hear the same song is maybe twice during my workday (for one of the new songs that's high on the country charts). 

  • CHR: Top 40 radio is something that most people are very familiar with, but I think it's hard for a lot of millennials especially to stay really passionate about it. A lot of people do have a favorite CHR morning show (morning shows often thrive in this radio format), but other then that, I've found in people my age that I've talked to about radio that there isn't a ton of loyalty. Yes, people do call of course if there is a contest and sometimes request songs, but minus the morning shows, this type of radio doesn't seem to be something that a lot of people get truly "excited" about anymore if that makes sense, especially in smaller cities.
  • Country: My experience with country so far has been so different! The local listeners are SO passionate not only about the music we play, but about our station specifically! The phones absolutely blow up for all of our contests, whether we're giving away a huge prize, or something very small. My radio Facebook page for my new job has tons of friend requests most days, and a lot of the listeners like to talk to me on Facebook and send me the nicest messages! When our station has a local event, most times tons of listeners will come out to see my boss and I. It's the most amazing thing! Charlottesville is near a lot of smaller counties that are more rural / more fit the country lifestyle, so I think that also works to the advantage for doing this radio format in this area. 

  • CHR: In both radio formats, types of events will vary station to station and city to city! Both formats are also subject to the regular car dealership live broadcast event (something I've actually not had to do yet- haha!). But as a generality, it's not uncommon for CHR stations to do events associated with bars or nightclubs, as that's where a lot of their listening audience spends time on the weekends! I had a lot of work events last year at a waterfront bar in Burlington for example. In my personal life, I do very much enjoy going out on the weekends, however I don't feel like bars and nightclubs are the best environment to be working in, if that makes sense! 
  • Country: Lots more family friendly events!! Live broadcasts at local fairs, community events, etc. Just about every live broadcast that my boss or I do out in the Charlottesville community is marketed as something to "bring the family" to. We of course do broadcasts at places like restaurants, stores, or specific businesses as well, but my experience so far has been it's places that the whole family can enjoy coming out to, not businesses so much targeted specifically at millennials or college students. Both country and CHR radio stations also do a number of charitable events per year. My former station had a few charity partners in the local community, and my new station does as well. We actually have a charity event today! 

      Of course, I know I am only just a few months into my country radio career. I know I have so much to learn as this first year continues, and hopefully have many more years ahead of me! I have been having so much fun and learning so much at my new job so far. I'm really excited to be bringing back Radio 101 posts! For the next one: I'm thinking of writing a blog post walking y'all through the process of how radio commercials are produced. Would this be an interesting topic to you?

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

June 18, 2018

My Favorite Type of Place to Shoot Blog Photos At.

     Hello and happy Monday! I am fresh off of a great weekend overnight trip to the nearby beautiful city of Richmond, which I can't wait to share more about with you soon! I'm so excited as I was able to shoot a lot of new blog content in both Charlottesville and Richmond last week, and I can't wait to start blogging everything! I absolutely love today's casual but chic spring look, and I'm also chatting in today's post about why parking decks are my favorite place to take blog pictures at. Today's post is SUPER photo-heavy, but I'm sharing some old favorite blog post memories!

Feminine Chic Jeans Look

Pink Madewell Top Preppy Looks

Pink on Pink Top Purse

Hair Scarf Brunette Curls

Southern Belle in Training // Virginia Blogger

Parking Deck Photoshoot

Photography by Meredith Sledge

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

     First things first as always: outfit talk! Madewell is actually a store that I don't usually shop at. While they do have some great classic basic pieces, I think their prices are very expensive for what they sell, and I think I can often find similar items for their signature pieces at other stores on sale for a fraction of the price. (Just being honest!) Anyways, I happened to stop by the Charlottesville store a couple weekends ago when my friend Ciera was visiting, and I'm so glad I did! They had a great sale on some spring tops, and I just loved this pink striped wrap top. Best of all- it was originally $72, marked down to $20, and that day in-store there was an additional discount so I purchased it for just $10!! What a savings, especially from a store like Madewell! Surprise sales like this are exactly why I still love browsing the clearance racks from time to time. I tried to go for some "Gal Meets Glam" vibes with this outfit, by adding in my favorite embroidered mules and a hair scarf. Do y'all think I channeled a little Julia Engel at all? 😊

     So this shoot was the first time that I've done parking deck pictures in Charlottesville! These were taken at the Water Street Garage, which is right by Downtown Mall if you know Charlottesville at all. (Essentially the biggest and main parking garage for the downtown area.) If you've followed me for awhile, you know that parking decks have been my favorite places to shoot at for years now! The obsession started my sophomore year of college in Charlotte.

     Here's something funny- one of my Charlottesville photographers, Meredith, (who I did today's photos with), and I actually met years ago! We had mutual friends through a Christian online ministry group called Delight & Be, and when my friend Shara (another Delight friend, who is from Maine!) came to visit me in Charlotte back in 2014, Meredith came down from Virginia to meet us and spend a few days hanging out with us in Charlotte. The three of us actually did some parking deck pictures way back then (you can check out one of those blog posts way in my archives here!), and that's kind of when my obsession with taking photos on parking decks began! I kept exploring decks all over Uptown Charlotte and beyond throughout my college years- although the Midtown Target parking deck of course was my favorite, and I frequently took blog photos there for a few years. Burlington Vermont wasn't really a "hot spot" for parking decks as it isn't a large city, but I did do a couple sets of blog photos during my year there on the Cherry Street parking deck downtown!

     So why do I like the tops of parking decks so much for photos? First and foremost, the views! They provide such a cool and unique look out over a city. Second, the top floor of a parking deck is generally speaking a more private and secluded place to shoot, especially on weekends if it's a deck that's mostly used during the workweek! Even if there is weekend traffic, generally speaking the cars usually stick to lower levels. Third, you can find beautiful lighting on them! With that being said... lighting can be finicky at certain times of day. It can be tough to shoot on some parking decks in the middle of the afternoon, depending on the positioning of the sun. But in the early mornings, evenings, and on cloudy days, you should be good to go, and light should be great!

     One thing to keep in mind is that not all parking decks are public or city owned. One of my close friends and I actually almost got in trouble for trespassing once for going to the top of the CPCC (community college) parking deck near Uptown Charlotte! The crazy thing was we weren't even there for blog photos or anything to do with my blog! It was one night in the winter during one semester of college, and we actually just wanted to watch the stars and the Charlotte skyline from a parking deck. (Literally the most innocent thing!) A security guard ended up finding our car up there while doing rounds and almost called the cops on us- it was kind of scary. And a lesson to me for using parking decks for my blog in the future to try and stick to the public ones!

     Here are a few favorite parking deck photos from North Carolina and Vermont throughout the years- these were taken in Charlotte and Greensboro NC, and Burlington, VT! I'm excited to hopefully discover more parking decks here in Charlottesville, and beyond in Virginia.

     And finally- a few blog memories from my favorite parking deck of all (and one of my favorite places in the whole wide world!) - the Midtown Target parking deck in Charlotte.

      Fellow blogger friends- do you also have a favorite spot that you keep returning to for blog photos?

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

June 14, 2018

Casual Workwear // What I Wear to Work: Spring/Summer 2018

     I've been having a lot of fun over on my Instagram sharing my work OOTDs most weekday mornings! I love seeing what other bloggers who work full-time wear to work each day, so I figured I'd do the same and share my daily outfits. I started doing this sometimes while I lived and worked in Vermont, but I've been better about documenting this almost daily since moving to Virginia.

     It's really fun for me to put together dressier or more creative looks for some of my outfit posts and photo shoots on the blog, but the reality is that I do have a day job and I definitely don't dress up every day of the week! I do however like to look cute, classy, and colorful each day for work. Radio is an extremely casual industry- truth be told neither my current job nor former job actually had dress codes for radio personalities! Seriously... isn't that crazy? The freeing thing about that is that I can make my own dress code for work! If there ever is a morning where I have a lot going on before work and don't really have time to get ready, I can show up in athleisure clothes and be totally fine. Or on the other end of the spectrum, if I feel like looking really dressed up and wearing a Lilly dress and wedges to work, that's fine too! That's the beauty of making my own dress code. Sometimes I do wish I worked at a job with a business casual dress code and I could wear heels and traditional workwear everyday (I had a business casual internship while in broadcasting school which I loved), but at the same time, I know that a lot of people are jealous of my current dress code situation, so I try and enjoy it!

     So you'll notice that many of my outfits are very casual! Lots of jeans and casual tops and dresses comprise my workwear- and often the things I wear to work are some of the same things I wear on the weekends. With having no dress code at the radio station though, I have had to set a few personal dress code rules for myself. We are allowed to wear shorts at work- but I try to wear them only on Fridays in the summer, or if the weather is like 90+ outside. For skirts and dresses, I use the fingertips test to determine if they're too short for my personal preference to wear to work. Anything below where my fingertips end, I usually don't wear, just as a professional personal preference! And I also try not to wear spaghetti straps or any top that shows a lot of cleavage at work. When I do wear a spaghetti strap top or dress, I always wear a cardigan or jacket over it, and I just don't think anything that shows a lot of cleavage belongs in any type of workplace- casual or not!

     Alright- let's get to it! Here are most of my work outfits from May. A lot of the things I'm wearing are older pieces from my closet, but I've tried to link similar items for everything:

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Casual Work Outfit - spring / summer

I love wearing casual dresses to work in the warm months! Originally from this August 2015 blog post.

SIMILAR PIECES: Dress // Jean Jacket // Necklace // Shoes //

I bought this dress at a Charlotte boutique for The Blog Societies Conference that I went to in 2016. I still love wearing it because it's so colorful! Originally from this August 2016 blog post.

SIMILAR PIECES: Dress // Cardigan

Everything I'm wearing here has been on the blog before- I'm obsessed with this kimono! I actually bought it while studying abroad in France. An outfit similar to this from this May 2017 blog post. 

SIMILAR PIECES: Kimono // Top // Jeans // Earrings // Necklace {exact linked} // Sandals // 

Lilly for Target was three years ago now, but I'm still obsessed with both dresses I bought from that collection! This is about as dressed up as I'd get for work in the summer. Originally from this April 2015 blog post.

SIMILAR PIECES: Dress // Sandals // 

I liked wearing this dress at the end of winter in Vermont with tights and a coat (back when I was craving spring!), and it's been great to wear here in Virginia for nice weather too! Originally from this February 2018 blog post. 

I've worn this striped dress multiple times a week in spring and summer since I bought it two years ago- it's such a closet staple! Originally from this July 2016 blog post.

SIMILAR PIECES: Dress // Jean Jacket // Sandals // Scarf // 

A very casual jeans look! I ended up doing denim on denim and wearing my favorite jean jacket with this because I'm always cold at work with the AC. 

SIMILAR PIECES: Tank // Jeans // Sandals // Necklace //

A cute shorts outfit for a very hot day in Charlottesville! I tried to dress up these shorts and make them a little more dressy by pairing them with wedges and one of my favorite white blouses. My top originally from this June 2016 blog post. 

Pink and navy is a color combo that I really do love but don't wear as much as I should. This little scalloped leather blazer from Zara is a favorite item in my closet, especially for work! It's originally from this May 2017 blog post. 

SIMILAR PIECES: Jacket // Tank // Jeans // Sandals //

Here's a Casual Friday outfit from a couple weeks ago! I love mixing old and new pieces from my closet for work. This denim skirt is new, and I've had this button down top for I think four years? This skirt originally from this May 2018 blog post. 

     Please let me know if you enjoyed this type of look into my work wardrobe! I'm happy to do another post like this for the fall and winter months. And in the meantime, you can keep up each day on my Instagram Stories

     Have a great rest of the week! I have posted only three times each week on the blog this week and last... things have been so busy for me over the last few weeks. I haven't had much time to breath between work, social commitments, and some not so fun stuff like car maintenance and doctors appointments! I'm so excited though to be working on a very fun blog collaboration in Richmond this weekend... and to be getting back to posting four times a week soon! 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

June 13, 2018

Midweek Ramblings + Recent Purchases + Current Wishlist.

Polka Dot Bathing Suit

{Making the most of pool days since the weather has been so warm in Virginia! Swimsuit details below in post. Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk!} 

This post contains affiliate links, and today's wishlist is in collaboration with Wikibuy. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank you for supporting Southern Belle in Training!

  • Headed to Richmond! I am so thrilled to be heading to Richmond this weekend for a fun blog collaboration! Since I had my first taste of Richmond in April, I've been wanting to explore more of this amazing city, so I was so excited when this opportunity arose. Follow me on Instagram this weekend for updates, and I'll be sharing more about this on the blog over the next couple weeks! The thing I might be most excited for is that my favorite photographer Deeana is coming up from Charlotte for the weekend to help me with this project- can't wait to see her! 
  • IHOP vs. IHOB? In one of the weirdest restaurant PR stunts that I've seen... IHOP, switched their name to IHOB this week to celebrate their new burger menu. IHOP has always been one of my favorite chain restaurants (I actually ate there on Saturday night!), and no name change will keep away my love for them. Bring on the pancakes, turkey bacon, and hashbrowns! However, it has been hilarious to see social media reacting to this! There are some pretty epic tweets from other restaurants chains' accounts joking about changing their names. What are your thoughts on this? 
  • Girls' Weekend: I had another guest visit Charlottesville this past weekend, and it was so fun! Another former roommate of mine from Charlotte, my friend Ciera, came up for a whirlwind 24 trip. We had an absolute blast, and it was so fun to give her a little taste of C-Ville! She and our other friend Priyanka are both coming back to spend almost a week here in July, and I can't wait to have them both and have more time to show them around. I seriously love having people visit me here in Virginia- there is so much fun to stuff to do with guests! 
  • Summer TV: So normally I very much prefer The Bachelorette to The Bachelor! I think it's so fun to see all guys in the mansion instead of all girls (girls can have so much catty drama, and I think each season of guys are just funny!). However... I just cannot get into Becca's season of the Bachelorette?! Anyone else? I couldn't even make it through the first episode. I have been so busy lately that giving two hours a week two a show that I'm not 100% invested in anymore just seems stupid. (I'm still a big Reality Steve fan though so I'll always keep up with it through him!) Anyways, so far the only summer show I've been watching live on TV is Younger on TVLand! Love this show- I first discovered it in Vermont last year and I binged the first three seasons in like a week, which I've never done before with anything!


  • This was an on-the-whim purchase, but I'm super excited about it! I found the prettiest blue sneakers this weekend. I wear my black Nikes all of the time with athleisure outfits, so I can't wait to have a pretty colored pair of casual sneakers to wear this summer!
  • I always love an amazing clearance rack find! I found the cutest pink wrap top at the Charlottesville Madewell store this weekend while taking my friend Ciera shopping. Typically I'm not a big Madewell shopper... I think their stuff is a bit overpriced for what it is. But I'm all about a good sale- this is marked down from $72 to $20 online right now, and I got it for $10 in store! Can't wait to style it for an upcoming blog post. 
  • The bathing suit that I'm wearing in the photo above was part of the monthly package that I receive from Shein as apart of their blogger collabs! You can shop it here

  • I have so much jewelry and I'm always on the hunt for new and cute ways to store it. I already have one set of clear drawers that I use to store bracelets that are so handy. This little set of clear drawers is under $20 and would be great for either makeup or jewelry storage!
  • This tie front top would be so cute for casual workplaces like mine! I'd pair it with distressed skinny jeans and flats for work. 
  • What a unique high neck top! But all in all it makes for a very classy look- this one comes in three colors/prints, and I think it would look great with white jeans!
  • Okay so I'm not usually a Free People fan (I'm definitely more of a Lilly girl!), but I just love something about this maxi dress! It's so vibrant and beautiful for summer. 
  • I found a cute little striped skirt that's such a good dupe for similar styles that I've been seeing at other retailers!

Song of the week: Take Back Home Girl by Chris Lane ft. Tori Kelly. Finally sharing a country song for this weekly feature on the blog- haha! To be honest I haven't been in love with a lot of the new country music over the past month or so... but I'm really starting to like this one. I think Tori Kelly is a perfect addition to this sweet song!

Recipe of the week: Okay so this isn't a specific recipe- but I did make this twice in the past week. Something that I forget how easy it is to make and how much I love is pizza done at home! I cheat a little bit and buy pre-made crust, sauce, and shredded cheese, and whatever toppings I'm feeling like. It's so much cheaper than ordering delivery pizza, and quite fun to make!

On the blog this week: 

     Happy Wednesday! Halfway through the week!!

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 

June 11, 2018

My Happy Places...

      We're not only talking happy places in today's blog post, but I'm also literally showing y'all one of mine! I've been blogging for almost six years now, and working with photographers for content for Southern Belle in Training for over two years. That's a lot of blog pictures and photo shoots in that amount of time- sometimes I have to think a little outside the box to still be creative with my pictures. Last month, I had the spur of the moment idea to shoot one of my outfits for the blog in one of the Charlottesville libraries! It was so fun, and totally out of the norm from the types of places I normally do blog photos, but hey, sometimes it's fun to mix it up. 😊

Library Inspiration

Cute Summer Look Black Tank Top

Book Lover  Library Photoshoot

Cute Black and White Summer Style

Library Photoshoot Book Lover

Photos by Lacey Botteon

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

     Let's talk about the outfit details for a second! So in one of last week's blog posts- I shared an outfit from my favorite online discount retailer Shein that was actually kind of a miss for me (a "get what you pay for" in terms of quality situation). The shorts I'm wearing in today's post also from Shein.... but WOW! These are a win!! They are only $10, and fit well and are really cute. As with most things from Shein, I did size up in them! Usually in the summer months I wear even brighter and colorful outfits than I normally do, but this outfit is all black and neutrals and I still really liked it.

      Now let's talk about happy places! We all have them. You know what I'm talking about- a place that you can arrive at and instantly feel at peace, or at least able to forget a bit about the distractions and stress of everyday life. I'd love to share a few of mine with you, and please let me know in the comments what yours are!

     *Library: Probably a given from these photos! I've loved libraries and reading since I was a little girl. There's not a lot of things that are truly free to enjoy in the adult world, but public libraries are a rare gem! I am such a big bookworm, so letting myself get lost in a place that's completely dedicated to the love of reading and books is something I'm always down for! I've had a local library card in every city/state that I've lived in- it's usually my motivation to go to the DMV for my new license when I move, because new license equals being able to get a library card!

     *Mall: Okay- it's no surprise that I love fashion since I have a fashion blog! However, one thing that I've noticed from a lot of girls' blogs that I read is that a lot of bloggers admit to preferring shopping online! While there are some online-only retailers that I do like shopping at, I still love the retail experience and going to the mall. Maybe it's part childhood nostalgia (I have the best memories of looking forward to mall trips for my birthdays or other special occasions growing up!), or part the fact that I did work in retail for a bit myself, but malls will always have a special place in my heart. There's just something about the smell of cinnamon buns wafting from the food court- you know what I mean! Even if I'm not going to the mall to buy anything specific, if I have a few hours to kill and want to get out of my apartment, it can be a nice place to walk around, especially in winter when the weather isn't great.

     *Beach (especially in my hometown): Okay- cliche answer here! Who doesn't like the beach, right? But it holds a special place in my heart as a happy place, since I'm from a small coastal town in Maine! Now that I live in a landlocked place, my heart misses the ocean where I'm from, especially in the summer months! Maine beaches are very natural and serene, most of them aren't built up or commercialized. I don't get homesick very much as I really do love the South, but sometimes I do long to take a long walk on one of my hometown beaches! I definitely appreciate it a lot more when I get to visit home now, as visits are few and far between.

      *Radio studio: I feel so lucky to be working in my dream industry, one that I dreamed of being in since I was a little girl! Being in my station's studio, where I spend the majority of my workday, really is a happy place for me. Some days I have to take a minute and just reflect about how lucky I am to be able to play great music, and bring joy to people's day in their cars or workplace (or wherever they listen to the radio!) - like that's my actual job!

     *Airport: Okay- this one needs a little explaining. Airports definitely stop becoming a happy place when severe flight delays are involved. But if everything goes smoothly on the travel end, I love airports! I feel like there's so much excitement in the air to see everyone hustling and bustling around, off to different destinations. And I think airport gift shops are so fun- I've found some of my favorite touristy souvenirs in them!

     *Church: There's just something so sweet and special about coming together to worship God and hear a great biblical message with other believers! This goes beyond just traditional Sunday services though. Church being my happy place includes bible study meetings, service opportunities, or just general times of fellowship with my church family!

     *Waterfalls: I love hiking and checking out beautiful places outdoors, but I have a special affinity for any trails that lead to waterfalls! There's just something magical about seeing them for yourself in nature. (Or maybe my love stems from my obsession with 90s music and TLC's hit song Waterfalls.... hahaha!)

     Okay- those are my favorite happy places! What are yours?

     Hope your week is off to a good start!!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


June 7, 2018

VERMONT TRAVEL GUIDE: Ultimate Burlington VT Summer Guide!

     Ah- Vermont! Best known as the Green Mountain State, for being one of the smallest states both geographically and population-wise, and the home of beloved ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's. Lesser known as the home state of Annaliese from April 2017-March 2018. While Vermont didn't work out to be my long-term home, I definitely have a new appreciation for it as a special type of vacation destination. Vermont really is its own unique state- it's also quite different from other New England states! I'm originally from Maine, so I thought moving to Vermont would be an easy transition. While both states do have very rough and long winters in common, I'd say overall they are quite different culturally.

     Anyways, Vermont is a popular winter vacation destination for skiers, but if that's not your thing then summer would be a great to visit! This could be a lovely summer vacation spot if you're from a large city, a very different part of the country geographically and looking for new scenery, or just used to living a fast-paced lifestyle and needing a few days off from that. Vermont is a place to slow down, enjoy nature, enjoy local cuisine, and just... breath. Definitely a great spot for a unique type of summer vacation!

     I had written a few posts previously during my time living in Vermont with some local recommendations, but I'd never officially written a full travel guide! I figured now was the time to do it, with the summer travel season just kicking off, and things still being fresh in my head from recently living there. This guide will focus specifically on the Burlington area, since that's where I lived and worked! A few travel facts: Burlington is Vermont's largest city, although it's the smallest biggest city out of all 50 states! The population of Burlington is under 50,000 people- isn't that crazy?! Burlington is located directly on Lake Champlain, in the northwest corner of the state, just under an hour from the Canadian border. Southern, central, and northeastern (called the Northeast Kingdom) Vermont are also popular vacation spots, but I'm obviously most familiar with the Burlington, Chittenden county, and Lake Champlain areas, since that's where I lived during my time in the state.

Burlington Vermont Summer Travel Guide

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     Burlington is in the northern part of Vermont, right on Lake Champlain. If you're coming from outside of New England, flying is probably the easiest way to get to Vermont. The Burlington International Airport is actually the only commercial airport in the state! It's pretty small as far as commercial airports go, and therefore can be expensive to fly into, but it's definitely the most convenient option for flying. They do offer direct flights to most major airports on the East Coast. (The next closest airport is actually international- in Montreal!) Driving to this part of Vermont is also an option- Interstate 89 runs through Burlington, and Route 22A is another popular way to get up to northern Vermont from where the southern part of the state meets New York.
      Where a lot of things in Vermont are spread apart from each other (it's a very rural state), if you do fly in, I highly recommend renting a car! There is Uber and Lyft in Burlington, but they don't run too far outside of the city limits.


     So, since I lived in Burlington and didn't vacation there myself, I've actually only stayed in one of these hotels (the one I stayed at during my job interview trip). But thanks to working in media in such a small city, and also having friends and family visit during the year I was there, I was able to become familiar with a lot of the local hotels in the area. So here are my recommendations for lodging:

  •      Courtyard by Marriott Burlington Harbor, Burlington: This is one of the nicest hotels in downtown! It's in walking distance to Church Street Marketplace, (where most of the downtown shopping, restaurants and bars are), and many of the guest rooms have stunning views of Lake Champlain. Since Burlington is such a tiny "big" city, this is also one of the tallest buildings in both Burlington and the entire state- fun fact! I haven't stayed here myself as a guest, but I am quite familiar with the hotel as I have rapelled off of the building! I did a rapelling event for charity (representing the radio station I worked for in Vermont) last September, and this took place at the hotel! 
  •      Hampton Inn Burlington, Colchester: This is the hotel that I stayed at during my job interview trip! Colchester is the quaint lakeside town located just north of Burlington, and hotel prices can be a bit cheaper staying here since it's not right in the city. This hotel is located right on I-89, so it's conveniently located to get to downtown Burlington, the airport, or destinations north or south for day trips. 
  •      Green Mountain Suites Hotel, South Burlington: My friend Shara stayed here when she visited me last fall, and I visited her there and we swam in the pool together! I didn't even know this hotel was here before she told me she booked it, but I was so impressed with it. The lobby of the hotel has a cozy ski lodge vibe, and it's a huge property! The indoor pool was also really nice. This hotel is located in South Burlington, very close to the mall and the University of Vermont, about 10 minutes from downtown Burlington. 
  •      The Essex Resort and Spa, Essex: This is a luxurious inn, with a full service spa and restaurant on the property! It's located in the nearby town of Essex, which is about 20 minutes from Burlington. I haven't stayed here as a guest, but I did go visit the spa for a manicure last summer, so I got to see the hotel up close and personal, and it's very nice! It's not cheap to stay here, but it would definitely be a relaxing and nice experience! 


       I have previously shared a guide to my favorite Burlington and Chittenden County restaurants on the blog! You can check that out here


     *Hiking and nature trails: There are lots of different types of hiking trails in drivable distance from Burlington! Everything from walking trails to more strenuous hikes. I shared some of my favorite trails in this blog post! 

      *Explore Church Street Marketplace: Church Street in Burlington is the heart of downtown, and it's also a pedestrian-only walking street filled with local shops, restaurants, and some nightlife. This was one of my favorite parts of Burlington (I did a lot of my blog photos here!), and whenever I had company in Vermont I'd usually take them to eat at a restaurant on Church Street, or at least for a walk up there and to window shop at some of the stores.

     *Eat the best maple creemee in the state: Here's some weird Vermont slang for you: Vermonters call soft serve ice cream "creemees." ...Weird, I know!! That name never really grew on me. Anyways, the most special type of Vermont creemee which really can only be found there are maple creemees, made of course with local Vermont dairy products and maple syrup! I had my fair share of maple creemees during the summer I lived there, but I truly believe the BEST maple creemee to be found is at a little off-the-beaten-path place called Palmer Lane Maple in Jericho (about 30 mins from Burlington). This place is 100% worth the drive, and their homemade maple soft serve is unreal!! They also sell maple syrup there and other maple products.

     *Have a drink at a waterfront bar: I don't think either of these made my restaurant guide, so I'll include them here! Burlington is located right on Lake Champlain, and this part of the lake has beautiful views of the Adirondack Mountains on the other side in New York. You'll want to spend some time gazing at the lake, and enjoying an evening at one of the waterfront bars is a great way to do that! My two favorites were Splash! At the Boathouse and The Spot. Both of these bars are seasonal and only open in the spring/summer! I also wouldn't really recommend the food at either- both have very overpriced and limited menus since they're lakefront bars. However- the drinks are fabulous at both! The Spot makes one of my favorite mojitos of all time. Splash! is located on a floating dock attached to a boathouse so it has a real nautical and casual feel, and The Spot almost has a very modern city rooftop bar vibe (except it's right on the lake and near the ferry terminal).

    *Visit the Burlington area breweries: Burlington and surrounding towns are a huge area for craft beer! I didn't really take much advantage of this while I lived in the area- I only visited Citizen Cider in Burlington and Goodwater Brewery in Williston. Other notable ones in the area are Queen City Brewery, Switchback Brewery, Zero Gravity Brewery, and many more!

     *Take a lake cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen III: Continuing with our Lake Champlain theme, going for a lake cruise would be a great vacation activity! This had been on my bucket list last summer, and I finally got to do it with my dad on one of his visits. The Spirit of Ethan Allen cruise company offers daily lake cruise excursions- some offer meals, and I think some are even themed! We did the standard sunset cruise. I really enjoyed getting to see unique views of Burlington and the mountains from the middle of the lake!

      *Rent kayaks or canoes: Another way to experience Lake Champlain by boat is to paddle yourself around! There are many companies in the area that offer canoe or kayak rentals. My dad stayed in Colchester visiting me for a week last summer and his rental home came with kayak usage, so we spent a morning kayaking on the lake which was so much fun! I wish I'd gotten the chance to do more of that while living there.

     *Beach day at Sandbar State Park: Lake Champlain sadly isn't known as the cleanest or best lake for swimming and beaches, due to a variety of factors including its sheer size, boat traffic, and its other uses. However- one great beach that I fell in love with last summer (and is one of the safer ones for swimming!) is Sandbar State Park, on the Colchester/Milton town line. There is a beautiful sandy beach here, and you can see amazing views of both the Champlain Islands and the mountains. This state park is located right off of US 2, which I talk more about further down in regards to doing a drive through the Islands- so you could combine both of these things into one day!

     *Waterbury food activities: Ben & Jerry's Factory, Cabot Annex and Cold Hollow Cider Mill : The little town of Waterbury is about 45 minutes south from Burlington on I-89. Waterbury is a pretty small community, but there are a lot of unique Vermont food opportunities to be found there, so it's worth spending an afternoon there! Most notably, the Ben & Jerry's factory is located in Waterbury, which you can tour! The factory is open seven days a week, and has tours running throughout each day. The tours are brief but fun, and would be a great family friendly activity. They also have a gift shop and ice cream shop on site! Just about a mile or two down the road from Ben & Jerry's is one of my favorite places in Vermont- the Cabot Annex store! Cabot Cheddar is one of Vermont's most famous cheese companies, and one of their factory stores is in Waterbury. It offers unlimited samples of 20-30+ of their cheeses... so if you're a cheese enthusiast like myself, this store is a dream! Cabot cheeses are sold at chain grocery stores nationwide, but the Cabot Annex store does have some special varieties of cheese that most grocery stores don't carry, and the prices are great! And lastly, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is also located in Waterbury! Their peak season is fall when the apples are ready to be picked, but Cold Hollow's store is open year round, and sells all sorts of local Vermont food items (they have tons of maple items!). Most notable to me are their apple cider donuts!

     *Ride the Mt. Mansfield Gondola in Stowe: If you're a lover of the mountains, Stowe is a must-visit! It's the most charming little village town, right smack in the Green Mountains, and about an hour from Burlington. It's also the same highway exit as Waterbury, so you can make it a day trip and also do the food activities mentioned above! My favorite activity in Stowe is riding the gondola up Mount Mansfield, which is the tallest mountain in the state of Vermont. The views are breathtaking, and it's a really unique thing to do! My mom and I did this on Labor Day last year when she came to visit for my birthday, and it was such a great day.

     *Shop at Pink Colony in Stowe: If you make it to Stowe for some mountain adventures, you must stop at my favorite Lilly Pulitzer specialty boutique! They're bringing preppy, colorful style to Vermont, and the store is absolutely adorable. I did two blog collaborations with Pink Colony while I lived in VT, and now love keeping up with the store via Instagram!!

     *Drive US 2 through the Champlain Islands: Lake Champlain has several large islands in the middle of it, in between Vermont and New York. The largest ones are connected to the mainland via US 2, and do have some year-round residents! This is also where Vermonters go to pick up the ferry to go across the Plattsburgh, NY. Anyways, the Champlain Islands are absolutely stunning. The landscapes are completely different from the rest of Vermont and upstate NY, and driving through in the summer is unbelievable! When my friend Ciera visited last summer, we took the scenic and longer route coming back from Montreal, and drove through the entirety of the islands. We were in so much awe that we just drove and drove and barely even spoke during the drive- our eyes could barely contain the natural beauty we were seeing!! Honestly - I really do wish I'd had the chance to drive through here one more time before I moved.

     *Cross the border - day trip to Montreal or shopping at Dix30: If you have a passport or live in a state with the enhanced license program- take advantage of this if you're visiting Vermont!! Burlington is just under an hour from the Canadian border, and Montreal is just under two hours away. Montreal is the most amazing city- I wish I'd explored and visited more times while I lived there! I have a Montreal Travel Guide here, and a guide specific to my favorite shopping center near the border, Dix30, in this post! Dix30 is the most amazing outdoor mall and lifestyle center- it's only about an hour and a half from Burlington and so worth a trip, especially since shopping in Canada is to the US dollar advantage right now!

     Whew!! Alright being totally honest- I didn't realize I did this many things during my time in Vermont last year, haha! I guess I definitely did more things last summer than I thought. All of these activities would be awesome summer vacation activities in the Green Mountain State.

     Have you visited Vermont before? Or are you planning any New England trips soon?

     God Bless,

    xoxo Annaliese