Southern Belle in Training

Affordable Fashion // Attainable Travels // Authentic Living

October 19, 2018

Designer Diaries: Tory Burch Parker Tote Review.

     Starting a new series on Southern Belle in Training today! Over the years I've really developed an affinity for the more affordable designer brands like Coach, Kate Spade, and of course, my beloved Tory Burch! These brands are still  an investment to purchase, but much more realistic for a 20-something's budget than YSL, Gucci, Chloe, or any of the other fancy high-end labels! Most of the styles of the brands that I love are still chic and timeless, and the quality is much better than cheaply made knockoff bags. And it's much more doable to save up a few hundred dollars for a special pair of shoes or purse, rather than a few thousand dollars! #NoThanks

      I'm not sure how frequently I'll be doing "Designer Diaries" posts, as I don't often make those type of investment purchases. But I look forward to sharing on this topic from time to time! Today I am sharing a bag review of my Tory Burch Parker tote, which I use as my work bag. My parents generously bought me this for my 23rd birthday last year after I asked for it! For 2018, the Parker style was replaced by a revamped version of the Robinson tote, but the Robinson is very similar to the bag I have, so I still thought I'd post this. I've been using this bag for just over a year now, so I feel like I'm able to give a good review of it. 😊

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

Parker Tote Details: 

     The Tory Burch Parker tote is a classic leather Tory bag. It is chic and bold, with minimal design elements. When the bag was released, it was sold in multiple beautiful colors, as well as classic hues, such as black and navy. The color that I have is called "Dust Storm", and it's the perfect shade that matches anything I wear in all seasons. I love black purses, but I didn't want something that dark for my work bag. I wanted a tote for work that could comfortable fit my laptop, agenda, phone, makeup bag, and all of the other things that are in and out of my bag on a weekly basis. This bag ended up being perfect!

     There is one fairly large interior zip pocket in the Parker, and several slip pockets. The front of the bag also has a slit pocket (although I don't usually use that one). The interior of the bag is lined in a light colored fabric. The entire bag can zip shut, which I appreciate when I am out and about. The bag's dimensions are 14" W x 12" H x 6" D. My parents bought mine directly through Tory Burch, and it came in one of their classic boxes, and with a special dust bag. I believe this bag retailed for around $350 when it was new, but it is still available at select retailers (and of course secondhand), and it can now be purchased at a reduced price. The Robinson tote which replaced it is retailing for $348 currently.

Parker Tote Pros: 
     I am so glad that I selected this bag for my work bag! The quality on this bag is incredible- it is well worth the few hundred dollar price tag. I've used this bag at least five days a week (some weeks all seven days) for the last year, and overall it stayed in amazing condition, despite all of the use. I am a bad bag owner and most days for work I stuff mine way past capacity. In addition to my laptop, wallet, agenda and makeup bag(s), I usually have at least one or two library books floating around in there, plus bulky snacks to eat at work. And amazingly, this bag can handle all my stuff!

     I'm so happy that I went with the beautiful grey color. It truly coordinates well with my work outfits at all times of the year! I know that this bag is a beautiful, classic style that I'll still be loving and using for years to come. My 23rd birthday was actually one of my least favorite birthdays in my life (I was dealing with a lot at that time and struggling with the beginnings of situational depression as well)... but receiving this beautiful bag for that birthday is definitely a bright spot in my memory!

Parker Tote Cons:

     I do have a few cons with this bag, but I have to preface and say that the pros way outweigh the cons, as I truly do love my Parker tote! The first con is that I wish there were more zippered pockets. There is one in the interior of the bag, so currently I have all the weird odds and ends that need to go in a purse pocket all in the big one. I think it would be perfect if there was also a small zippered pocket inside as well!

     I don't find that the slip pocket on the outside works very well. I tried using it for some magazines when I used this bag as a carry-on for a flight last year, but it seemed like having the magazines in the front slip pocket were really stretching the bag (and also not being held well), so I haven't used that since. Speaking of using this bag as a carry-on, I wouldn't recommend it. While it is a fantastic work bag, I think there are better designed and lighter weight bags that would suit a traveler much better for a flight.

    This is also a bag that you really need to carry a wallet with. There aren't any small zipped pockets or card slots inside the bag, so I'd be petrified to have money or credit cards floating around loosely inside. And for my last con- you'll probably laugh at this one. Since I use this as my work bag, I associate this bag now solely with my day job, and I don't love carrying it on the weekends! So dramatic of me, I know. But it's true! The fact that I use it so much during the weekdays gives me a chance to use some of my other favorite purses on weekends, so I guess this isn't too big of a con.

How I've Styled My Parker Tote: 

     My Parker tote has made it into many a blog photoshoot over the past year! See how I've styled it with outfits for both work and play:

Where to Buy: 

     As I mentioned in the earlier part of the blog post, the Parker tote was actually discontinued this year by Tory Burch, and replaced with a revamped version of the Robinson tote. I did find one retailer still selling the Parker tote in a pretty dark red color, so that was exciting! If you wanted a different color option though, you'll have to go with the Robinson tote, which all in all is a super similar bag. Tory Burch bags are sold online and in-store through Tory Burch directly, and at fine retailers like Nordstrom, ShopBopNeimen Marcus and more!


    Please let me know what you thought of my first Designer Diaries review! Next up I might do a post about my David Yurman ring.

     Have a great weekend!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

October 17, 2018

Midweek Ramblings.

{A recent outfit featuring a cute new blazer! Follow me on Instagram @miss_alk

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

  • Hilarious animal photos: This is the best link that I've clicked on all week! I had no idea that there was an annual Comedy Wildlife Photography contest, but I sure am glad I found out about it. It's a round-up of some really funny animal photos- it sure put a smile on my face to see these pictures! 
  • New favorite Youtube channel: I don't watch a ton of Youtube, but every now and then I find a new channel that I get obsessed with for awhile. The one I'm telling y'all about today has absolutely nothing to do with fashion or beauty- but I love it nonetheless. The Company Man makes videos about... you guessed it, companies! Specifically, informational videos about your favorite national brands and companies. He discusses everything from the history of your favorite companies, to why some of them fail. The Company Man videos are super informative and interesting, I love watching one while getting ready in the mornings. I'm curious if he'll do an updated one about Sears/Kmart since they just announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week!
  • Delilah update: If you follow me on Instagram and watch my Stories, you're well familiar that I have a new roommate- a sweet and fluffy cat named Delilah! Overall the first few weeks of being a cat owner have gone really well. The only thing that I'm really struggling with is having Delilah sleep through the night. During her first couple weeks home, I kept her in my living room at night, but she would cry so loudly all night that 1) I couldn't sleep and 2) it broke my heart! About a week ago I finally started letting her sleep in my room at night. Unfortunately, she's still been up all night! Whether she's trying to attack the window blinds, or lick my face for a few hours (seriously)- I haven't gotten much sleep since she came home. A few people on Instagram DMed me and suggested that I get a spray water bottle to keep and spray her with for bad behavior at night. I'm hoping she'll turn things around on her own so I don't have to do that, but we will see!
  • Charlottesville Travel Guide: Other than my winery reviews, I haven't shared much travel related content about Charlottesville on my blog yet. I wanted to wait until I lived here for a full year to do that! Anyways, in the meantime if you're thinking about visiting Central Virginia, you must check out Heather from Heather Bien's Charlottesville guide! She includes a few of my favorite places, and many that I haven't checked out yet. 

Weekend recaps:
  • Last weekend: Other than going to church on Sunday, I had zero plans, which has been very unusual for my weekends since I moved to Virginia! I ended up going to a workout class at the gym on Saturday, and then a nature walk later in the day. My big project of the weekend was deep cleaning my kitchen and bedroom, and I caught up on podcasts while doing that.
  • This weekend: My mom visited me earlier in the month, and this weekend my dad is coming. He hasn't been in Virginia since he helped me move back in March, but since we were so consumed with that he didn't get a chance to explore. We are hoping to check out the beautiful Shenandoah National Park while he's here- it should be just magical to visit in the fall!

Purchases: I'm currently doing a four week shopping fast for the month of October to save up for one of my favorite holidays... Black Friday!! 😊

FYI... I do have a discount code right now for Shein that I wanted to share with y'all! Use code HIMISSALK20 for 20% off any Shein order- and their prices are already amazing.

  • Lately I have been crossing my fingers that some of the Gal Meets Glam dresses will be marked down for Black Friday Sales! If you can't wait that long, this pretty one is 40% off right now. 
  • If I was headed somewhere warm in the next couple months, I would scoop up this pretty Lilly Pulitzer dress in an instant!
  • I have this same versatile sweater in black (I'll be styling it for an upcoming blog post!), but I just saw that the sweater also comes in a beautiful hot pink color. 
  • Since I recently joined a gym, I've been working out a lot more often. I want to purchase some more cute athletic attire, and you can't beat the price or style factor of these leggings!
  • I really want to buy this for Delilah- but since she's an indoor cat I'm not sure it makes sense to get it?

Recipe of the week: Apple Whoopie Pies from A Mix of Min. I'm finally out of my recipe and cooking rut! I tried three new recipes in the last week. This whoopie pie recipe is especially seasonal, which made me want to pick it for this week's recipe of the week! It's from fellow blogger Mindy from A Mix of Min, and it's perfect to make if you've recently visited an apple orchard. I brought some of these into work for my coworkers to enjoy, and they were gone by lunchtime!

Song of the week: Lost in Japan by Zedd ft. Shawn Mendes. Confession: I'm not really a fan of Shawn Mendes' other music- I think this is the first song of his that I can say I really truly like! But boy is this a catchy one. Makes me want to hop on a flight to Japan- ha!

On the blog this week:

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 

October 16, 2018

Monticello Wine Trail: Reynard Florence Vineyard.

     Welcome back to one of my favorite new series on Southern Belle in Training! Join me as I drink my way (responsibly of course πŸ˜‰) through Charlottesville and Central Virginia's most prominent wineries, which are all apart of the Monticello Wine Trail. I still can't believe the fact that I didn't really like wine (!!) before I moved to Virginia in March. Clearly- I just hadn't tried the right wines! Local Virginia wines are just incredible, and I've been having so much fun visiting and reviewing different wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. 

    In today's post, I'm reviewing one of the smallest and most intimate wineries that I've visited so far. Some of the Monticello Wine Trail wineries (like Veritas and Afton Mountain) are sprawling properties, and have large tasting rooms and event spaces. Reynard Florence is much smaller in size than a lot of the others, but it's actually one of my favorites that I've visited so far. I went here for a solo afternoon adventure a couple weeks ago when it was still really warm outside! It was about 80 the day that I visited- ideal weather for sitting outside with a glass of wine and reading a good book.

     Reynard Florence Vineyard is located in Barborsville, in Orange County. (Fun fact: I recently learned that the town of Barborsville is actually located in three different counties!! #GeographyNerd) It's about a 30 minute drive away from Charlottesville. Your GPS will probably give you a few ways to find it- I took a different route there than I did leaving. My tip is to take Route 33 from either east or west to access the vineyard- I found that was the easier route. Reynard Florence is a family owned vineyard. I got to meet co-owner Dee when I visited the tasting room, and I also had the delight of meeting Ti-Ray, an adorable Corgi who is often found at the vineyard. (I sadly didn't get any photos of Ti-Ray, but there are some cute ones on the Reynard Florence website!)

    Normally when I visit a new-to-me vineyard, I like to do a tasting and then have a glass with my favorite wine. Since this was a solo adventure and I drove myself, I opted just to do a glass of white wine. (I also brought many yummy snacks so I wouldn't be drinking on an empty stomach!) I decided to go with the Chardonnay, and it was delicious! The perfect wine to sip on during a warm fall afternoon outdoors. I spent the next few hours sipping wine, finishing a good book, and just enjoying the beautiful views! I was one of the only people visiting the winery that day, so it felt like my private paradise. 

     Reynard Florence Vineyard is open Saturdays and Sundays, and on holiday Mondays (I visited on Columbus Day.) This vineyard may be one of the smaller ones on the Monticello Wine Trail, but it doesn't lack in natural beauty and great wine! I'm looking forward to visiting here again, and hopefully next time with friends. This was the first winery in Orange county that I'd visited, and I look forward to checking out more in that area.

     Previous Monticello Wine Trail posts can be found here!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 


October 15, 2018

If You Told Me 5 Years Ago...

    Today's outfit is about as classic and preppy for fall as you can get! I'm excited to share it with you. Also in today's post I'm talking about some of the ways that I've noticed myself change on certain things in the last five years- it's always fun to do some self-reflecting. 

Photography by Meredith Sledge

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

Sweater {similar} // Shirt {similar} // Jeans // Shoes {sold out, similar here} // Necklace // Purse // Bracelet // Lip Gloss // 

     I am loving this combination of a white cable sweater paired with a gingham oxford shirt! It's an ideal fall look. You could pair it with a pencil skirt for work or any business casual occasion, and I love pairing it with skinny jeans and metallic mules for this casual look. I also want to make a quick note about my necklace! It's a classic J. Crew Factory piece. I asked for it for Christmas a few years ago, and I remember being so excited to find it in my stocking. To this day, I still wear it at least once a week. It's the most versatile piece of jewelry, and can really elevate an outfit! Do any of you also have this necklace?

     I thought it would be fun in today's post to do some reflecting! My 24th birthday was in September, but I feel like it really hit me the other day that I'm 24. Like... I've been an adult for a few years now, and I'm well out of college! When I'm by myself, I often think I feel a lot younger than I am. I feel some days liked I blinked and college was over! Anyways, the more that I thought about my recent birthday, the more I realized that I have changed and matured more as a person in the last five years than I realized. I thought I'd share a bit of that on the blog!! Five years ago, I was entering my sophomore year of college and had recently turned 19. I had been blogging for just over a year! I had just moved to Charlotte and transferred colleges. Here are some things that 19 year old Annaliese wouldn't believe about 24 year old Annaliese:

     *I'll become a morning person: True story- I was one of the biggest night owls ever until January 2017! During all four years of college, I think I can count on one hand the number of times that I went to bed before midnight. I remember that I had 8 am classes for most of my senior year and it felt like torture! 
     In early 2017, I began a three month long morning radio internship (I needed to complete it to graduate from broadcasting school). I had to wake up at 3:15 each morning to arrive there on time! I remember how rough the first week was, but I adjusted better than I thought I would to the schedule. I moved to Vermont pretty soon after the internship ended, and the whole morning person thing stuck when I started my first job. I wasn't waking up at a time as drastic as 3:15 anymore, but I began to love waking up early and being productive before work.

     *I'll still be driving the same car: This is just a funny one! I truly believed well into my college years that as soon as I graduated college and had my first job, I'd be able to lease or buy a new vehicle. HAHA! Naive little Annaliese wasn't considering things like a low entry level salary, and having to pay for rent and student loans. I'm still driving the same car I had in high school, and probably will be until whenever it kicks the bucket.

     *I'd move to Vermont for a year: Oh goodness if you told me at 19 that I'd move to Vermont for a year, I would have laughed in your face! I grew up vacationing in a rural part of Vermont with my parents (about two hours away from where I ended up living in Burlington area), and my only associations of the state were memories of staying at a very rustic bed and breakfast on family vacations! At 19, I was still pretty new to living in the South, and so obsessed with Southern culture. I did end up moving North for a year, but thankfully my obsession with the South stuck around, and now here I am in Virginia!

     *I'd still be single: Not going to go into a ton of detail on this one since I share more thoughts about being a single woman in my Relationship Monday blog post series- but let's just say at 19 I definitely wouldn't have believed that I'd still be riding solo. I also wouldn't have believed that as a single 24 year old, I'd actually be content

     *I'd still be blogging, and I'd have so many exciting opportunities come from it: My 1st blogiversary was on my 19th birthday, and at that point in time I was trying to squeeze in blog posts when I could with my busy college schedule. If I had the opportunity to receive a product for free to do a blog post about, I'd be over the moon! I never would have imagined that I'd stick with blogging long enough to make a decent side hustle income from it, and even get cool opportunities like attending a blogging conference and do travel writing opportunities

     *I wouldn't be allergic to cats anymore: This one is still so exciting to me! In high school (after volunteering weekly at the local animal shelter in the cat rooms), I developed severe cat allergies. After college I ended up outgrowing them, and this summer I had allergy tests to prove it. I'm now a new cat mom to my Delilah! 

     *I'd still have the same hairstyle: At the end of my freshman year of college, I cut about nine inches off my hair. It went from being very long to falling just above my shoulders. I started hating the haircut pretty soon after, and I became determined to grow my hair out long again. I've kept it long ever since then! I still don't dye it either. For now, I'm still very happy with my long brunette locks!

    *I'd grow to be proud of being a Mainer: I was so excited when I moved South for college and got to experience a different type of culture. I'd had such rough high school years that for a long time, I associated that with everything to do with Maine. It took making peace with the past and truly appreciating the beauty of my home state to finally say that I'm proud to be a Mainer. (Still glad I reside in the South thoughπŸ˜‰)

    *I'd enjoy reading thrillers: I was very sensitive to anything scary when I was growing up. To this day, I still hate horror films! For years, I really only read books for fun that were chick-lit, romance, or uplifting. Lat year I picked up my first thriller from the library, and I was hooked! The creepier and more mysterious the plot, the better. Joy Fielding is currently my favorite author for the genre. 

     *I'd love country music, and love working in country radio even more: During my freshman year of college I went through a slight country music phase (The prime moment was seeing Florida Georgia Line play at a bar before they made it big!), but when I transferred colleges at the start of sophomore year and moved to Charlotte, that phase quickly died. I was all about Top 40 and urban music for the rest of college. Last year in Vermont, I found myself starting to enjoy listening to the local country radio stations when I was outside of work, and realized how much I enjoyed the music! When I decided to look for new jobs, I specifically searched for ones in country radio. Now I adore country music and love my job as well! 

     Have you noticed any things about yourself that have changed in the last five years? Let me know in the comments if we share any in common! Or let me know if you also love a classic and preppy fall outfit. 😊

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese



October 11, 2018

My 10 Favorite Pinterest Recipes.

     I feel like trying a random recipe from Pinterest is the definition of the phrase "You win some, you lose some." You just never quite know what you're going to get with a Pinterest recipe! I've had some of the worst cooking and baking fails of my life from pins that looked enticing. So why do I keep using my recipe boards for so much of my cooking? Because for every fail, there's been a lot more recipe wins! I've found some of my favorite recipes of all time from pins. Pinterest is also really convenient! I have a large cookbook collection, but nothing beats pulling up a recipe on your phone.

     To save you the hassle of possibly trying a recipe that's no-good, I've rounded up 10 of my favorite Pinterest recipes, with direct links to each pin so you can save them for yourself! A bit about my cooking habits: I love rice based dishes (which you'll see evidenced here!), and I love spicy food. I'm trying to get better about eating more vegetables... but that's a work in progress. Many of these recipes below can be made meatless though! 

    1. Quick and Easy Black Bean and Rice Burritos - This is the Pinterest recipe that I make the most often! If you read my Midweek Ramblings posts where I give a "Recipe of the week," you've definitely heard me reference this a lot. These burritos are super easy to make and a very affordable (and tasty) vegetarian meal! I love making a cheesy burrito for dinner, and I add in hot sauce since I like spicy food. Then the next few days for lunch at work I bring the beans, corn and rice mixture to heat up!

    2. Light and Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup - A great winter soup! It's also just as good without the chicken if you want a vegetarian version. I add a lot of red pepper flakes to it since I like spice.

    3. Italian Herb Meatballs - BEST Italian meatballs ever. Seriously- I think they taste better than a lot of restaurant meatballs. This is my favorite thing to make when I have company for dinner! I accompany the meatballs with a homemade spicy Arrabiata sauce from a cookbook of mine and penne pasta.

    4. Italian Roasted Potatoes - I don't make these as often as some of the other recipes here, but they are delicious! A great side dish to make for a fancier dinner. FYI - the recipe does make a pretty large portion, so I recommend making this is you have company over.

    5. Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta - This is a fun and spicy take on mac n cheese! Personally I prefer this without chicken. 

    6. Korean Beef Rice Bowls - After the burrito recipe above, this is the Pinterest recipe that I make the most often! I was able to buy the Gochujang sauce that the recipe requests at my local grocery store in the ethnic food section.

    7. Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs - This is a totally different type of meatballs than the recipe above, but these are really good, and fairly easy to make!

    8. Garlic Honey Ginger Glazed Salmon - In all honesty, I find fish kind of intimidating to cook and most seafood recipes to be hard to make for just one person (since I live alone), but when I do make it I cook salmon using this recipe! It's very easy and absolutely delicious. 

    9. Banana Cinnamon Muffins - I make muffins regularly. Homemade tastes so much better than store bought, and they're so simple to make! In addition to being a tasty breakfast item, I love baking muffins for road trips or work snacks. Banana muffins are a great way to add some fruit to your day and these are my favorite banana muffins.

    10. Cinnamon Apple Muffins - When I don't make banana muffins, I love making apple muffins! Especially in this season with apples from a local orchard. This is another simple fruit muffin recipe.

     Now here's my request from you! If you enjoyed this blog post, would you leave me a comment below with a link or two to some of your favorite Pinterest recipes? I'm always looking for more to try, and we can keep this going!! I can write a future blog post in a few months after I've tried the ones y'all leave me. 😊

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


October 10, 2018

Midweek Ramblings.

   {Here's Delilah and I saying goodbye to my mom this weekend! She was here in Virginia visiting for a couple weeks, and we had a great time. Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

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  • Morning radio life: For the last week, I've been filling in on the morning show at the radio station that I work for! It's been a blast and great learning experience, but a huge schedule change. I've been getting done with work for the day around noon or earlier! That left me full afternoons to myself, which I wasn't used to having. I've tried to make the most of this week and do fun things with the new free time! Last week my mom and I went apple picking one afternoon, and on Monday I went to a new-to-me winery, and enjoyed a glass of wine and a good book. While I am excited to be able to sleep a few hours later again, I'll miss the free afternoons and morning radio fun for sure. 
  • Cleaning tactics: My apartment has gotten really cluttered over the past few weeks, and bringing home Delilah, the new feline member of my family has only intensified that! Normally I do heavy cleaning on weekends, but I've been really busy for a lot recent ones. My new cleaning strategy is to try and do general straightening up each day, and also one larger chore. If I break it down into one every weekday, it should be easier to keep things cleaner. I'll update on how that'll go!
  • Buzzfeed article of week: This Buzzfeed article about crazy things people did in the mid-2000s is hilarious!! If you love early 2000s pop culture like I do, you must check this out for a good laugh.

Weekend recaps:
  • Last weekend: I had a monthly service project with friends from my church and other local churches on Saturday morning! A group of us meets to do service in the community on the first Saturday of each month, and it's always a great time, and so wonderful to see how it blesses those that we serve. My mom and I went to see the movie A Star is Born on Saturday afternoon- not my favorite movie of all time or anything but it was very well done. I am glad I saw it on the big screen! Sunday I went to church and then hung by the pool in the afternoon, as it was still so warm out here in Virginia.
  • This weekend: No big plans, but I'm really excited to catch up on sleep after over a week filling in on the morning show! I have company visiting for the next two weekends, so it's kind of nice to have a Saturday and Sunday looking pretty free right now. I love a spontaneous weekend every now and then (as long as it's not every weekend)!

  • I'm doing a four week shopping fast during this month to save up for holiday shopping and other things in the coming months! 😊

  • Last winter I got into leopard print sweaters, and this one is adorable!
  • I had a pair of black cage heels in college that I loved and totally wore out. I think I might need a new pair.
  • This is a cute basic long sleeved top that is a great deal and comes in many colors.  
  • This bold dress is definitely an investment piece, but it's the type of thing that would be perfect in your closet for years!
  • Dare I say that J. Crew's outerwear actually makes me excited for winter? They've brought back this coat style in new colors!

Recipe of the week: T's Maple Vanilla Apple Pie Filling from AllRecipes. I made a homemade apple pie last night, with apples from a visit to the local orchard last week! I decided to go *all homemade* and also make the pie crust myself... that turned out as a work in progress! I really liked the apple filling recipe that I used though- love how it includes maple! A nice tribute to last fall in Vermont.

Song of the week: Sicko Mode by Travis Scott ft. Drake. While I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Travis Scott as a person (or Kylie Jenner for that matter), I like a lot of the songs from his new album!! My local urban station has been playing this song a lot and I really like it (the edited version). 

On the blog this week:


October 9, 2018

Fall Blues.

     Good morning! I'm excited to share this fall outfit with you today. A lot of people think that pink is my favorite color because I wear a lot of it, but my favorite color has actually always been blue! I think that an all-blue outfit is a great fall fashion choice, and I love the items I'm wearing today.

Photography by my mom 😊

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      I wasn't sure what to think of cut-out sweaters when the trend first became really popular a few seasons ago, but then I got my first one and I loved it! I'm really excited to keep wearing the blue sweater in today's post. I love the pretty pearl embellishments on the shoulders! This is a great sweater to throw on during the weekends when you want to keep your outfit simple, but also look cute and trendy.

     I also love this blue suede jacket! Over the last few years, I've developed a real affinity for fall and winter coats (living in Vermont last year just fueled that!). Wearing a jacket in a pretty color is such a great way to brighten up any sort of basic fall or winter outfit. The coat that I'm wearing in today's post isn't warm enough for cold winters, but it makes an ideal fall or spring jacket! This coat has a suede-like feel to it, and when I wear it I find myself thinking of the song lyrics "Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane" from the song Walking in Memphis! I just have to change shoes for coat. 😊

    For the last few days I have been exhausted, but I think for two good reasons! You might have seen in yesterday's blog post that last week my family grew by four paws, and I welcomed home a new pet cat! It has been such a joy to finally have a pet, but it's also been a lot of work and a change to my schedule. The first night that she was home, she cried all night. She's doing a bit better now, but still meowing somewhat in the middle of the night. Today is also day five out of six for me of filling in on the morning show at the radio station that I work for, and I'm still adjusting with the really early morning wake-up time. It is my dream to someday do morning radio for my career, but I know if that day ever comes it'll be a huge schedule adjustment. I feel like I'm going to spend the later part of this week just SLEEPING - ha! 

     I promise I'll be a little more chatty in tomorrow's Midweek Ramblings post, and on Thursday I have a fun lifestyle blog post planned! 

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese 


October 8, 2018

Two BIG Life Updates! (And One Smaller Update.)

     It's been quite awhile since I've sat down to update about some big things in my life here on the blog! And I definitely have things to share today, three separate things to be exact! Without further ado, let's get all caught up. The photos to go along with this post are from a special shoot with Kate, one of my blog photographers! I intended to share these a few weeks ago, right after I hit my six month mark of living in Virginia. You'll see by reading below why I waited to share them until now!

Photography by Kate Greer

{Both my dress and heels are from consignment stores! 😊}

     Life Update #1: I'm NOT moving!

   You might be a bit confused reading the above line. "You're not moving? I didn't know you were supposed to be moving? I thought you loved Charlottesville!" I absolutely do love Charlottesville- hence why I am thrilled to finally announce that I'm NOT moving! 

     Here's the backstory: in late August, I found out that my company expressed serious interest in transferring me me to another radio station that they own (not in Charlottesville). If the job transfer had gone though, I would've had to both move out of this area, and also leave my current position and station. I was absolutely in shock to get this news. Since I moved to Virginia in March, I have been so happy in both my work and personal life! This is a place that I hope to live in for awhile. I couldn't fathom that my time here could be ending after just six months, and to keep things brief for the sake of the blog, I can tell you that I spent most of the month of September feeling absolutely down and devastated. I tried to put a smile on my face each day at work and still do my job well, but in the evenings and on weekends, a lot of tears were cried.

     After a lot of investigating with this other career opportunity, praying fervently and seeking God's guidance, and many conversations with family and friends, I made the decision not to accept the transfer. This was very scary for me to do, as I didn't know what the outcome would be. But I felt God's peace strongly in making my decision! As of now I am still working in my current position (and still loving it!). I hope that nothing work-related has to change anytime soon... but if it does, I know that God will provide and that I made the right decision to keep living in a place I love. I waited to share the photos in today's blog post until I had made my final decision to stay in Charlottesville for now, despite whatever that holds for my career. 

     Life Update #2: I joined a gym!

     The one downside of my life since I moved to Virginia is that I've been in a huge fitness rut. I was a member of a gym last year in Vermont, and actually having to drive somewhere to workout (and being surrounded by motivated gym-goers) was encouraging to me, and made me want to go often. Most weeks last year I went to the gym three times, and sometimes more if my schedule allowed!

     My apartment here in Virginia had a gym on-site, so I didn't join a gym for the first six months here to save money. Unfortunately, I found my apartment gym to be small, dark, and not at all motivating. At the start of summer I'd force myself to go workout, but I never enjoyed it. I also tried at-home workout videos this summer, but I just couldn't focus on them in my apartment, as it isn't the best environment to work out. By the end of summer, I started feeling very out of shape and just all around "bleh."

     This weekend I finally pulled the trigger and joined a gym in Charlottesville! Yes, it is a monthly expense to add to my budget, but I know that it's an investment in myself. This gym offers a nice mix of group classes that are included in the membership rate, and since I've realized that I work better with other people around, I'm very excited to take advantage of these. My goal to start is to get back to going three times a week, and then hopefully raise it to four or five days! 

     Life Update #3: A new family member!

     This is the happiest update in this post! Six days ago, I adopted a sweet cat that I named Delilah.

     I had a wonderful cat growing up, but unfortunately in high school I became very allergic to her and all other cats. Instead of the traditional allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny eyes, my cat allergies came out in the form of hives all over my body, so it was pretty serious. I couldn't spend much time with my cat in her last year of life. Anyways, over the last year I've been in a few homes that have had cats and I noticed I didn't get hives anymore. I got retested for cat allergies this summer, and the test results were negative! I've never been allergic to dogs and I'd love to get a dog, but they require too much work to fit my lifestyle at this time. 

    I'd been toying with getting a cat since my allergy tests a couple months ago, but I also wasn't really doing anything to make it happen. My mom arrived to visit me a couple weeks ago, and she'd only been in Charlottesville a few days before she went out to start looking at local kitties up for adoption! She found Delilah at a local pet store that housed a few rescue cats, and then I went to meet her and fell in love!

     We think that Delilah is part Ragdoll and Snowshoe- her face looks like a Snowshoe but she has the body and temperament of a Ragdoll. She is about a year and a half old. Delilah is very affectionate and if she's near you, she wants to be touching you or licking you! She is still getting settled into her new living environment, but I love having her around. I'm going to try not to be one of those pet owners that overshares about their animal, but I think I will write a separate blog post soon with more info about Delilah and how I knew I was ready for a pet. 😊Below is a picture from the night my mom and I picked her up to bring her home!

     Okay- I think that's enough life updates for one post! Bottom line- I'm staying here in Charlottesville, and very excited about all that is to come with being here, especially having Delilah and getting to enjoy my new gym.

     Thanks so much for reading today! Hope your week is off to a good start.

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


October 4, 2018

SNS Nails FAQ: Everything To Know About Dip Powder Nails.

     Confession time: I've been a nail biter since before I can remember. Seriously... pretty much since the time I first grew nails as a toddler, I've been biting and picking at them. It's a lifelong habit that I've tried so hard to break throughout the years. I'd always painted my nails regularly growing up, but I'd always pick or bite the polish off, which was terrible!When I got my first full-time job last year, I decided to start treating myself to regular manicures as a way to hopefully combat my habit. I figured that spending money on my nails would prevent me from getting at them.

     After a year of frequent gel manicures, I had my first SNS ("Dip Nails") manicure this past spring, and this immediately became my favorite nail treatment ever! I'm sharing today about my experiences with SNS, how it's helped my nail biting, how it compares to gel, if I think it's worth the cost, and more!

     *What is SNS? SNS is the brand name for the leading type of dip powder for nails (think like Chapstick for lip balm!), but there are other brands that make it as well. Most people just call dip nails SNS since the brand is recognizable. Anyways, dip powder nails are a polish-free way of having non-chip color on your nails. SNS (or whatever brand your salon uses) is literally a powder that your nail is dipped into, after having a base coat applied. The powder is able to be set without any UV light, making it different from the gel manicure process. Most salons offer tons of colors to choose from, just like nail polish selections. SNS has gained popularity in the last few years due to its long lasting effects- the average manicure lasts three weeks with no chips, and sometimes longer!

     *How is it applied? It's recommended to get a full manicure with SNS, and not just a color change! First, your natural nails will be trimmed and finely buffed, so that the powder will have no trouble bonding to them. This part is just like a normal manicure! You can also choose to have nail tips glued on during this step if you'd like your manicure to be longer than your natural nail. When that's all completed, a base coat will be applied to your natural nails. The nail technician then dips your fingers (one at a time) into a little container that has the SNS powder in it (in your color of choice). After dipping, the excess powder is knocked off, and another coat of the base is put on your nail. They are then dipped 2-3 more times into the SNS powder! Finally, nails are finished with one or two top coats, and then left a few minutes to dry.

    *How is SNS different from gel? Gel manicures are very similar to a normal manicure, as polish is applied to your nails! The polish is then set by drying your hands under UV light. SNS has no UV involved, so it's much safer for your skin! There's also no polish involved. I got gel manicures twice a month for a full year, and I found that gel polish often didn't last that long on my nails. It's supposed to last 2+ weeks, but usually by day 10 it was peeling and chipping. SNS lasts much longer on my nails, which makes it worth it for me!

     *How long does it last? THREE FULL WEEKS!! Only one time did I have an SNS manicure begin to chip a lot before the three week mark. One of the last ones that I had lasted almost a full month before chipping!

    *How much does it cost? SNS manicures are a pricier color treatment at most salons. The average price that I've seen is about $45, with some salons charging more, and some less. (Anything above $60 for SNS is ridiculous though!) Gel manicures usually run between $25-20, and regular manicures around $20. This is more of an investment treatment, I find it worth it because it a.) lasts longer than anything else, b.) doesn't have UV, c.) looks beautiful on.

    *Does SNS help nail biters? 100% yes!! I mentioned above, when I got regular gel manicures they rarely lasted the full two weeks. I found gel manicures very easy to peel off (even though it's very bad for your nails to do that), and after one or two nails would chip it would drive me nuts, and I'd peel the whole thing off, then start biting my nails again. 😐For the first three weeks with SNS on, it's literally impossible to pick or bite your nails, as the SNS powder bonds so tightly to your nail!! After three weeks they can start to chip, but it's still a lot harder to pick it off than with gel or regular polish. I don't bite my nails at all when SNS is on, and it looks so good!

     Here are a few snaps of various SNS manicures that I've had this year. I love doing a different colored accent nail on my ring fingers! I have yet to get the same colors twice. The first picture below actually shows what gel looks like at almost three weeks grown out- still looking great!

     Please let me know if you have anymore questions!! For my Charlotte girls, I recommend Anthony Vince Nail Salon in SouthPark for dip powder! I visited there this past Labor Day Weekend and I was so impressed with the result (pictured above). Feel free to email or DM me if you live in or near Charlottesville and would like my salon recommendations for this area!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

October 3, 2018

Midweek Ramblings.

{Enjoying a wine tasting this weekend at Moss Vineyards! Follow me on social media @miss_alk}

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

  • Remembering Route 91: On Monday, it was the one-year anniversary of the tragic Route 91 festival shooting in Las Vegas. I was just a few months into my radio career last year when it happened, and this year I now work in the country radio industry, so the anniversary really hit home for me. This is an article written in remembrance of all of those who lost their lives that day- I hope that country music and radio will continue to keep their memories alive! 
  • Virginia fall fun: This summer I created a seasonal bucket list, and writing it on my blog helped me stay accountable to actually doing the items! Last month was crazy for me so I decided to forgo making an "official" fall bucket list for this season, but I still want to try and make time to enjoy my first fall season in Virginia! Some things that I'm hoping to do before the season ends are go apple picking (I never got to in Vermont last year!), try a new recipe with said apples from apple picking, do pumpkin painting or carving, go driving on both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive (two scenic mountain roads in Virginia), and to go on a fall hike! Anything I should add to my list?
  • Morning radio: Starting today, I'm holding down the fort at work by filling in on the morning show on my radio station. My boss normally does mornings, but he's on vacation through next week. Even though it's a super early wake-up time, I LOVE morning radio and am so excited for the opportunity to fill in this week and next!

Weekend recaps:
  • My mom arrived to visit me in Virginia last Tuesday. It ended up being a very full weekend with her! I had two radio events on Saturday, so I spent most of that day at work. One of the events was hanging out with our station van at the Thomas Rhett concert on Saturday night, so my mom came along for that, and then we went to the show together! Sunday I slept in, my mom and I went out for a late breakfast, and then we checked out a new-to-me winery (there are so many nearby!). We ended the day with some blog photos that I can't wait to share soon. 
  • Since my mom was visiting me this past weekend and I was out of town the weekend before, I'm actually excited to have a mellow weekend in Charlottesville! I have a service opportunity with my church on Saturday, and hope to catch up with a few friends on Saturday or Sunday, Other then that, lots of plans to hang at home and catch up on Fall TV shows I'm missing this week! 

  • Last week I treated myself to some new fall jewels! I surprisingly don't own many full monogram necklaces, so I ordered a new monogram necklace that will be great to pair with fall outfits! 
  • SO excited to get these hoop earrings- I know I'll be wearing them on repeat. 
  • I've decided to do another four-week shopping fast for the month of October! I try and do 1-2 a year. This is a great month to save up before holiday shopping begins! (The only thing I'll be buying this month is an accessory for my Halloween costume idea.)

  • I got this classic skirt in college, and it's still something I wear weekly in the fall and winter! It's available in fun new colors for this season, and I'm due for a new one. 
  • I'm hoping to go to a UVA home football game this season, and the school stadium has a clear bag policy for attendees. I love this adorable clear crossbody bag for stadium games and events! 
  • This chic dress in pink reminds me of something that Astrid from Crazy Rich Asians would wear. 
  • This dark red floral dress is PERFECT for fall, and could easily transition into being worn for holiday events. It also comes in black.
  • A lot of dresses in my wishlist today! This one has been dubbed "THE blogger dress" since so many girls have styled both the long sleeve and sleeveless versions. I have yet to purchase for myself- but the long sleeve version is growing on me.

Recipe of the week: (None this week- I didn't do much cooking this week since my mom was visiting- she generously cooked me dinner a few nights after work, and we also got to eat out a few times! I've been in a recipe and cooking rut for the last couple months, but hoping to get back to it next week.)

Song of the week: Life Changes by Thomas Rhett. Any of you who are country fans DEFINITELY know this song, but this was my favorite one at the concert this weekend!! If you're not familiar with the song, Thomas Rhett wrote it about his wife and daughters!

On the blog this week:

     Sharing a few pieces of BIG NEWS on the blog next week! I'm very overdue for a life update post. 😊

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese

October 1, 2018

Relationship Monday: A Year Without Dating Apps.

     One of the most popular blog posts on Southern Belle in Training (of all time) was one that I wrote almost three years ago, entitled "A Christian Perspective on Tinder." I had been on Tinder and Bumble for a few months at that point, and just thought it would make a good blog post topic to share some of my thoughts about dating and faith. I had NO idea how much that post would resound with people! (True story: I still get emails from people who found my blog from that post.) My story with dating app usage and how I view them in general has changed a lot since I wrote that blog post. Partly because this year I've finally become happy with being single, and partly because I've had a lot of time to analyze the negatives and positives of my dating app experiences. so in today's Relationship Monday I'll be sharing what life has been like since I deleted all dating apps off my phone last year!

A Year of No Dating Apps

     Last fall right around this time, I had yet another few dates with someone from a dating app turn into... absolutely nothing. After deciding that I didn't want to continue seeing this specific guy, I thought long and hard about how meeting guys from dating apps usually ended for me. I'm the type of person that doesn't like to chat with someone on an app for more than a few days- if there's any hint of a connection there, I'd like to meet in person sooner rather than later to hash it out. Sometimes the first dates were terrible, sometimes they were pretty good and I wanted a second date. But by date two or three with a guy from an app, I realized a pattern of things usually starting to fade, just like it had with this most recent guy in Vermont!

     Seeing this pattern over the last couple years of meeting a guy on an app and then having the connection fade away or not be very strong in the first place really had me thinking about how productive it was for me to still be using apps regularly. I decided then that 2018 would be a dating app-free year. However I ended up deleting Bumble right there and then last fall, so it actually already has been a full year away from them. (Don't worry - I'm sticking with my "no apps in 2018" thing and I'm still not even considering going back on them until next year!)

     Why did I try dating apps in the first place? Good question! I always thought that I'd be in a really serious relationship by my junior or senior year of college, and when senior year arrived and I was still single as could be, I started thinking about other ways that I could meet guys, besides just on campus (of my very small college). I had heard a lot of gross stories about sleazy guys on apps, but I held onto the benefit of the doubt that maybe a nice Christian guy who also hadn't had much luck dating lately might be looking for a serious girlfriend. Spoiler alert: while I did find some Christian guys on apps over the couple years I used them, I never found anyone that I wanted to be serious with, usually just from a lack of chemistry. I came to realize eventually that chemistry can be pretty tough to find from a few pictures and a few lines of a bio on an app.

     Anyways, here are a bunch of random thoughts and reflections from my year going app-free!

     Honest thoughts from a year without dating apps:

     *Less time on my phone: Let's be honest: We live in a technology addicted world. As a radio personality and blogger, I'm already on my phone a lot. I really didn't need to add anything into the mix to keep me on my phone anymore, but alas, dating apps entered my personal world in my senior year of college! They truly have an addictive feel about them. As you're swipe, swipe, swiping away through literally hundreds of people, it's easy to convince yourself that Mr. Right is still on there, and you just have to keep on swiping to find him. Dating apps were so addictive that at times, I found myself trying to check them at work or school. Since I deleted apps a year ago, I definitely spend less time on my phone, which is good!

     *Not as anxious: If you've used dating apps before or currently use them, would you agree with me when I say that they're anxiety inducing? First the constant need to always check and be on your phone. Then when you do have a match, the anxiety over if they will keep writing to your or if they'll end up ghosting. And then if you're able to make plans, there is first date anxiety... eek! Meeting someone from online, you're never 100% sure if they are who they say they are until you've met. If the first date goes well, then comes anxiety about if you should stop talking to other people on the apps or when to delete them, or if they have done the same. SO MUCH ANXIETY! In fairness, dating itself in any context (whether you met on an app or not) brings at least some anxiety. But I'd rather have any dating-related anxiety in my life be normal and natural, not the excess stress that app usage brings.

    *Easier to find contentment in singleness: In my previous Relationship Monday post, I wrote about how 2018 has been a turning point for me in being content with this season of singleness. Deleting dating apps I am certain has been a big part of the change in mindset! Swiping away and messaging an endless amount of people is the perfect way to remind yourself to believe that you need a a significant other to be happy. I spent pretty much my whole college years pretending that I was happy as a single girl, but being jealous and insecure about it on the inside, and dating apps just perpetuated those feelings. You can read more in the other post that I wrote, but this year I know that I trust 100% in God's plan for my love life, and I've also come to enjoy a lot of the things that come with being a single adult!

     *Finding healthier coping mechanisms: I used to spend more time on dating apps over the last couple years at times when life wasn't going well. Whether I was stressed about schoolwork during senior year of college, had a falling out with a friend, was homesick when I lived in Vermont... my #1 coping technique was to start swiping and find a date to distract me! A distraction is 100% not the purpose of healthy dating relationship, but having easy access to apps would make me forget that in the moment. These days, I have much healthier coping mechanisms when I've had a bad day, none of which involve male attention.

     *Being less competitive with other women and myself: I'm no stranger in falling victim to the comparison trap, especially about dating and relationships. It was a desire of my heart for such a long time to meet my "person" early in life, and although that didn't happen for me, it did for many of my friends! Instead of being genuinely happy for those who found love sooner, I found myself jealous, and that being on dating apps just fueled that. Then there were the circumstances of comparing myself to other friends who used apps! I'd taunt myself with internal questions like Are her pictures in her bio better than mine? Why is she getting better dates or more messages? How could she find a boyfriend on Tinder when I just found guys I had no connection with? For me, getting off dating apps was not only a time to be happy in singleness and actually enjoy it, but also to stop comparing my love life with that of my friends, and just be happy for them!

     My final thoughts on a year without dating apps:

     After reading this, you might think that I've done a total shift in thinking, and now consider dating apps to be evil or something. I most certainly don't! I have many friends and even more acquaintances who have met their boyfriends, or even husbands from dating apps, and are in healthy and loving relationships from meeting this way. But for each person I know who had a dating app success story, I know even more like myself who they didn't work out for. It really depends a lot on the location you're using them in, and even more than that, luck! You might find Mr. Right on the first swipe, or you might never find him on an app.

     Overall, I found through my own experience that using dating apps felt very selfish, and pulled me further away from my relationship with the Lord. Instead of being content and grateful for all of the blessings I have in my life, it helped me to fixate on something I didn't have. And a fixation can become an obsession if you aren't careful! For the record - just because I've sworn of dating apps in 2018 doesn't mean at all that I've sworn off dating! I have still gone out on dates with a few people since I quit apps. None of the guys I've met in the last year have turned into something serious, but I've found the dating process when you meet through other means to be a lot less stressful, and just feel all around more natural.

     So for my final thoughts on dating apps- I don't regret trying them in college! I think I would have always wondered what it would have been like if I'd never downloaded a couple apps and been on a few dates. What I do regret is using them for as long as I did. I think after like the third guy that I met from an app (where it was a similar situation to the first two guys of there not being as much chemistry in person), I should have deleted them at that point, and not stayed on for another year or longer! You can't keep trying to force something that's not meant to be. I also think there is some merit to trying them either for the first time or again if you've just moved somewhere new. Using Bumble in Vermont actually helped to solidify for me that Vermont was not the place that I wanted to live longterm or settle down- lol!

    What are my plans for dating apps in the future? Still not even thinking about them until 2019. 😊 Once the new year is here, I have a feeling I'll still away from them for a bit! Stay off them forever? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows what the future holds! But for right now, I am very content with my full life: my day job in radio, blogging as my side hustle, my friends, my faith and my church, and all of the hobbies I enjoy like cooking, reading, and traveling when I can. My life is blessed and busy, and while a serious relationship would be great right now, I want it to happen naturally, not because I spent a few hours swiping through pictures of random guys. I've always prayed to have an amazing story to someday tell about how I met my husband! Personally- meeting someone on a dating app, or really anywhere online isn't my idea of a great beginning to a love story, at least not right now.

     I always love hearing y'all's thoughts on my Relationship Monday posts- so please sound off in the comments!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese
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