The Siberian American

Friday, January 20, 2017

Announcing the 2017 Galentine's Blogger Gift Exchange

I am so excited to announce that Mattie and I are hosting our second annual Galentine's Blogger Gift Exchange! We had so much fun doing it with y'all last year, and I am so glad people love it as much as we do. I've had several people reach out and ask me if we're doing it again, which is super exciting. Whether you are new or did the exchange with us last year, I hope you decide to join in on the fun with us!


The Details: 

What:
Our Galentine’s Blogger Exchange is a fun opportunity to get to know another blogger! We will also be having a linkup, so everyone can see the great gifts you picked out.

When: 
1/27: Signups close
2/10: Deadline to ship your package
2/24: Show off your gift by linking up with us!

How much will it cost me? 
We have set a minimum of $20. If you would like to spend more, you are more than welcome to do that, but please don’t expect anyone to spend more than $20.

Am I sending to/receiving from the same person?  
No, this is a Secret Santa exchange. This way, you get to know two people!

Should I contact the blogger who is my partner?  
If you need to contact your blogger, please do it through the Elfster site. We want your identity to be a surprise!

How do I tell my partner what I'd like?
Elfster has a great wish list tool where you can add items to your wish list! You can also send a message to your partner through Elfster without knowing who she is.

Is the exchange open to international bloggers?
Yes! If you are a US blogger, please let us know when you sign up if you prefer to ship to only US bloggers!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 2017 PopSugar Must Have Box Review

Hey, friends. I meant to show up here yesterday, but this weekend was a tough one with spending time with my best friend and going to her mom’s memorial. Thank you for all of your kind words on her passing.

Today, I wanted to share the contents of my PopSugar box. This was one of those months with a high value item I loved, which made everything else feel like extra. Overall, it was a nice combination of fun and useful items.

Note: This post contains referral links. If you decide to purchase a PopSugar box, I would love it if you used my link.



GOLDFADEN MD Fresh A Peel Multi Acid Resurfacing Peel ($85): 
I have heard so many good things about the GOLDFADEN MD brand, but at $85, I could never justify the price. I am so excited to try this peel. My favorite part of it is it only takes one to three minutes to work.

Manduka eQua Mat Towel in Playa ($38): 
I don’t do yoga, so I didn’t even know you need a towel for your yoga mat. I definitely think I can repurpose it, though, because it’s so soft!

May Designs Desk Calendar and Notecard ($25): 
I was so excited when I saw this item in the box! All of the designs are adorable, and I love that you can flip the card over and cut on the dotted line to turn each page into a notecard. Items like these are why I love PopSugar so much.

Daily Concepts Your Hair Wrap Towel ($18): 
I’ve never really used a special hair wrap towel, but this one says it helps eliminate frizz, so I am willing to give it a try.

Dean & Deluca Peppermint Loose Leaf Tea ($10.75): 
I love tea, but I don’t like peppermint tea. I’ll probably pass this on to my mom.

Sourcebooks Inc Instant Happy Notes ($8.99): 
This little book includes 101 sticky notes you can tear off to brighten someone’s day! I can’t wait to use these.

Special Extra: Glade No 3 Coconut and Beach Woods Candle ($4.99): 
This item is a special extra, which means it doesn’t count towards the value of the box. I am sensitive to a lot of strong smells, and I really hated this one. That said, it doesn’t bother me that this was in the box since it doesn’t contribute to its value. I’ll definitely pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it!

The total value of this PopSugar box was about $186. That’s a huge value for a box that only cost me $20 during the Black Friday sale.

If you are interested in a PopSugar subscriptionPopSugar is currently offering $5 of your first box with the code “MUSTHAVE5.”

What was your favorite item in my January 2017 PopSugar box

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five Recipes We Love This Winter

One of my goals for 2017 is to get better at meal planning. I’ve always been terrible at it because I hate picking, and Chris will pretty much eat anything. When he had a day off recently, we sat down and browsed through many recipes together. We found several recipes that will be added to our weekly rotations, so today I wanted to share some of our favorites with y’all!


Asian Steak Bites

We found this recipe two weeks ago and have already made it twice. It’s so simple to make, and the marinate is delicious. I hate leftovers, but I’m not lying when I say I could eat these every day.


Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

I’ve never had Bang Bang Shrimp before, but I have heard many people talk about it! If what we made is anything like the original, I can see why. The sauce is so delicious!


Cuban-Style Slow Cooker Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)

I love ropa vieja at Cuban restaurants, but I have never tried to make it. This was another easy recipe that tasted amazing.


Patty Melt

A patty melt felt like the perfect meal on a cold day. I couldn’t tell y’all the last time I’ve had one, so it was nice treat!


Juicy Lucy Meatballs

These are meatballs stuffed with cheese. I repeat, these are meatballs stuffed with cheese. Stop reading this post and make these now. They’re that good.


Other Recipe Posts
We are always looking for new recipes! What have you made lately?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

California Road Trip: The Most Beautiful Place in Big Sur

I still think about our California road trip all the time. I’m usually a person who prefers new experiences, but I would love to repeat this trip in the future. Our day driving up the Pacific Coast Highway was one of my favorite days ever. Every view was incredible, but my favorite view of the day was of McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.


There’s something truly spectacular about seeing an 80-foot waterfall cascade into the Pacific Ocean. I am always on the hunt for waterfalls (I can’t wait to share some of the ones we saw while in the Smokey Mountains with y’all!), and the McWay Falls took my breath away.


Tips

To get to McWay Cove to see the falls, you need to park on the side of the road. Park in the first open spot you see, as it’s almost always crowded. It’s much harder to turn around in that area if you completely miss the parking area then to walk a little bit longer to the falls. To get to the lookout for the falls, you walk a half mile on a dirt path from the parking lot and pass through a tunnel underneath Highway 1 to get to the overlook.


The best view of McWay Falls is actually a little before the overlook itself. Once you get to the overlook, the waterfall is further away. Still, you will get many stunning images of striking cliffs, palm trees, redwoods, and the Pacific Ocean.


Have you ever taken a road trip on Highway 1? What’s the best road trip you’ve ever taken?

Catch up on our California road trip: 

 
Hearst Castle Grand Rooms Tour

Hearst Castle Upstairs Suites Tour and Roman Pool

Pacific Coast Highway Tips

Monday, January 9, 2017

Eleven Books I Read in December

Hello, friends. I’m honestly not sure how I’m managing to blog today, but I wanted to maintain some feeling of normalcy. On Saturday night, I got one of those phone calls that brings you to your knees. My best friend’s mom, who was like a second mom to me, had suddenly passed away. I was able to pick my best friend and her fiancĂ© up from the airport on Sunday and spend the day and remember her beautiful, kind mother. Life is precious, y’all. Treasure every moment.

There’s no good way to transition from that, but I do want to share a little about the books I read in December and early January. Honestly, I had no idea I had read 11 books. I felt like I had trouble getting into several of the books I read, but I guess I read enough books in a day to balance it out. I want to try to continue my momentum from last year, but I don’t think I’ll have as much time, so my goal is to read 100 books this year. I’m also participating in Erin’s Book Challenge for the first time. I’ll share more about my books in my January post, but so far I have read two books for the challenge.


Since She Went Away by David Bell
(c/o NetGalley)
I loved David Bell's Somebody I Used to Know. It was one of my favorite reads in 2015. Unfortunately, Since She Went Away fell short for me. It started off promising, but it really dragged in the middle. I got to the point where I didn't really care what happened-I just wanted to get to the end of the book. Plus, the big reveal wasn't surprising at all. Also, part of the plot wasn't resolved, which just felt odd.


The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
(c/o NetGalley)
I've mentioned before I think the best kind of thrillers are the kinds that you can't say much about without spoiling it. This thriller is GOOD. It's insanely twisted and just when you think you know what's going on the author says HAHA and throws another plot twist. It alternates from the girl before (Emma) who was killed in the house the current girl (Jane) is renting. There were a few uncomfortable moments, but the ending really sealed the deal for me. If you love thrillers, you have to get your hands on this one!

P.S.-This one was so good it made my list of the best books I read in 2016!


Faithful by Alice Hoffman
(c/o NetGalley)
This is a beautiful story of a young teenager's journey to healing and forgiveness after her best friend ends up in a coma while she was driving. It's a coming of age novel filled with hope. For me, this book was perfect timing and something I really needed to read.


One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot
(c/o NetGalley)
I love reading feel good Christmas stories this time of year, and this one worked great for that. It was a little long and felt slow at times (and I was super annoyed that the main character's best friend Debs said "totes" all the time), but overall, it was a nice Christmas read.


Indelible by Adelia Saunders
(c/o NetGalley)
I almost didn't finish this book. The only thing that kept me going is I was slightly curious about the ending (and I do think it ended well). I don't think the book really fits the description. I thought it would be way more about Magdalena's gift, but that felt like a small part of the story. Honestly, I was mostly bored and had a hard time caring about the characters.


City on Edge by Stephanie Pintoff
(c/o NetGalley)
This book is part of a detective series featuring Eve Rossi, but it works as a standalone novel. Overall, this was a great detective novel. I do think there were too many points of view and I didn't love the big reveal, but I liked Eve Rossi, so I would definitely read the next one in the series.


In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch
(c/o NetGalley)
This book surprised me. It started off a little boring, but it turned into a beautiful story of friends who let one mistake turn into a grudge that ruined their friendship. Now, per the request of their friend who passed away, they return to the house where their friendship was strong 20 years earlier. It's a story of forgiveness and finding yourself that resonated with me.


The Trap by Melanie Raabe
(c/o NetGalley)
This book wasn't really a thriller. It started out really slow, and I wasn't sure if I would like it. Instead of a thriller, I saw this more of a story of dealing with grief. It turned into a really good read, but I think it lacked suspense.


The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 
(c/o Blogging for Books) 
Wow, Nicola Yoon is an amazing writer. Her book Everything, Everything was one of my favorite reads of 2015. I didn't like the characters in this one as much, but I still thought it was a fantastic read. You really get to know Natasha and Daniel through the course of their day together. I loved all the little facts thrown in and the writing style overall. This is a YA read that feels more mature. I know I will definitely be picking up anything else Nicola Yoon writes!


All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood 
(c/o NetGalley) 
This was a beautiful, unconventional love story. It's definitely controversial, but I think the author wrote it in a way that works. I really liked Wavy as a character. This story is so well written that I think even those who are disgusted by the age difference between the characters can appreciate the author's telling of the story.


A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain
(c/o NetGalley)
I really liked the first Kendra Donovan book, but I didn't like this one as much. Honestly, it was mostly because I was insanely bothered by how many times Kendra mentioned how women have no say in the Regency period. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was over 50 times. Anyways, I got more into the story towards the end and thought the ending was interesting, but overall, I preferred the first book.


Favorite reads in December: The Girl Before, Faithful, In Twenty Years, and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. 

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?