The Siberian American

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Let’s Have a Coffee Date (Vol. 3)

I have so many things I want to share with y’all, so I thought I would put it together in one of my favorite formats to read and write: the coffee date! I wish I could have a cup of coffee with every single one of you at my favorite café but a virtual coffee date will have to do. So, grab a cup of coffee (or hot apple cider these days for me!), and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee together, I would ask you if you had seen the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life trailer. I would tell you I am even more excited to watch it now that the trailer has come out. Of course, I would also mention I don’t actually have Netflix right now (I usually prefer reading to watching TV, so I have never felt like I needed it), but I will be getting Netflix just for Gilmore Girls!

I would share that my obsession with colorful pants is still going strong, and now I want fall colors! This year, I finally got a pair of olive pants that I like, and I pretty much want these Old Navy pants  (not an affiliate link) in every color.

I would mention I’m out of my reading slump with two great books in a row. I will share more during the linkup, but I really liked You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, and I am currently devouring Baby Doll by Hollie Overton (as in, I will probably be done before this post goes live. Haha).

If I know you’re into fantasy football, I would share I recently tied with someone with 132 points each. Fantasy football is so crazy, but that’s definitely the strangest thing that has happened to me in my three years playing.

I would tell you I have a full day of testing tomorrow (ultrasound and nuclear medicine), and I am already feeling over it. I went to the doctor last week too, and I know that’s going to be part of my life now, but some days I just don’t want to do it. I’m really praying all the tests come out OK!

Of course, I would share about our trip to the Smoky Mountains and how refreshing it was. Even though I am all about water, I’m really starting to love spending time in the mountains, too. If I feel like getting really into it, I might tell you I have a dream of living in North Carolina. I love the idea of being close to both the ocean and the mountains.

I would tell you I am super excited to see my younger brother in Austin this weekend. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, but we don’t get to see each other much. It’s going to be great to catch up on everything going on in his life.

Now it's your turn! What would you tell me?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekending: State Fairs and Samovars

Some weekends are just the best, and this weekend was one of those weekends. I got to do two things I absolutely love: go to the State Fair of Texas and spend time with my Russian extended family.

The fair is always one of my favorite days of the year. This year we went on a double date with friends and had a blast. We visited the auto show to see all the concept cars, the building showcasing all the products made in Texas, and the building featuring crafts and a giant butter sculpture. Of course, we also had to go see Big Tex and take our picture with him!

Once our friends left, Chris and I decided to go visit a few other museums. I loved the exhibit on the history of Texas, and it was fun to walk through the Taylor Swift Experience. Then, we got serious about the food. I always go for two fair classics: buttered corn and funnel cake. Chris loves to try something from the new fried food released every year. This time it was a hard choice between trying the fried jello and the barbecue-infused brisket balls. He decided to go for the brisket balls since we knew we would want funnel cake later. They were delicious!

We spent a little more time checking out some of the vendors before getting a funnel cake and heading home.

Chris and I had planned for Sunday to be a day where we got a lot of random things done around the house, but my parents spontaneously decided to have a Russian party, and one of my close friends from childhood was coming. It’s so nice to only live an hour away from my parents and get to see them more often! We had a great time chatting and watching my dad make tea from his samovar.

My parents brought home a samovar from their latest trip to Russia, and my dad has loved using it for parties. Samovars were used traditionally in the 19th century to make tea. Some of them were extremely ornate, but the one my parents brought was used as an economical way to make tea because you can use birch or pine cones to keep the fire going. It’s definitely not time efficient these days, but it’s a neat experience!

Linking up with Biana for Weekending. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Favorites: All the Fair Food

Happy Friday, friends! The first week back from a vacation is hard, and I’ve definitely felt some post-vacation blues. (Curious how I combat them? I wrote a post about it two years ago.) I also really miss hanging out with Chris. It’s such a bummer to go from seeing him all the time to barely having any time together. Thankfully, he only works till noon on Saturday and Sunday, so we get to spend most of the weekend together.

I mentioned it last Friday, but I can’t wait to head to the State of Fair of Texas tomorrow. We are going on a double date, so I’m excited to hang out and eat all the fair food! Look out for a recap of our day on Monday.

I think the weather has been crazy all over the country this week, and Texas definitely joined the party. We were close to record highs for most of the week, so I’m excited to be back in the 70s now. Hopefully, it will mean a much nicer day at the fair and that we are finally done with the 90s for the year!

My hair is still in that awkward stage after my haircut, so I pretty much exclusively used my new flat iron from Irresistible Me. It literally took me three minutes to straighten my hair, which was perfect for days when we had to hit the road early!

After reading so much this year (it’s been by far my best reading year), all of a sudden, I don’t want to read. I think it might be because I’ve read so many mediocre books in a row. I thought I would read a bunch on our trip, but we were so exhausted after everything we did each day that I only managed to read one book (and it wasn’t that great). I just picked up Siracusa, so I’m hoping it will make me want to read again.

You all know by now how much I love physical cookbooks, so I was excited to see Blogging for Books offer The London Cookbook by Aleksandra Crapanzano. The cookbook is filled with recipes from restaurants and cafés all over London. England isn’t exactly known for its food, so I was interested to see what this compilation offered. It’s seriously jam-packed with recipes, and I want to try so many of them.

Highlights for me included the roasted corn and chorizo chowder from Brindisa, Alpine Fondue from La Fromagerie, scallops with corn puree and chile oil from Spring, and walnut cherry cake from Honey & Co. Of course, I definitely want to try an authentic fish and chips recipe from Tom’s Kitchen! They even have a section on chilled desserts with treats like black sesame panna cotta from The Modern Pantry and a deconstructed cheesecake from Rawduck. I also can’t wait to try the cocktails from the cocktail section such at the white peach summer martini from The River Café.

Other than the food, I really enjoyed the writing. It was so interesting to learn about London’s evolving food scene and the chefs who have taken it to new heights. I already bought a copy for a friend of mine who loves all things England, and I can’t wait to make some of these recipes soon!

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

European Train Travel Tips

There is nothing better than being on a train in Europe, looking out at the beautiful countryside (or reading a book!) while getting to your destination as quickly as possible. When we traveled in Europe for the first time, we had quite a few mishaps. Here is what we learned:

Book early. 
Book train tickets at least three weeks in advance, especially if you are using a Eurail pass. If you are going to a popular destination like Prague or Paris, book as soon as you can. We had friends who tried to book a night train from Cologne to Prague five days in advance, and they found out every night train was booked for the next two weeks. We always tried to book as soon as we decided on our destination.

Check platforms often. 
I will never forget the name Herzogenrath-August-Schmidt-Platz. Never heard of it? Neither had I. Trains can change platforms at the last minute. When we were traveling to Berlin with a big group, the regional train in Aachen arrived before our train to Berlin. We thought it was our train because it was at the correct platform and time, so we took the train and ended up in Herzogenrath-August-Schmidt-Platz. We didn’t make it to Berlin until 2 a.m. (Want the whole story of our Herzogenrath mishap? Read three European travel stories I will never forget.)

Also, be aware that some trains will split off in the middle of the trip and head in different directions. Make sure to listen to announcements that tell you if you are in the right compartment, especially if you are in the food compartment at the time of the change.

Write down the number of the train leaving after yours. 
Trains are sometimes late, so you should look up and record the number of the next train to take in the case of a late train. For example, when our train from Frankfurt to Brussels ran 20 minutes late we missed our train from Brussels to Liege. However, we had written down the next train we could take, so we were able to get to the platform in time to hop on the next train to Liege.

Have you ever traveled in Europe by train? What was your favorite destination?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quick Thoughts: Smoky Mountains Road Trip

Today, I feel thankful. Our trip was even better than I expected. The weather was perfect, and the Smoky Mountains were simply stunning. The fall color hadn’t peaked yet, but we still saw some gorgeous color. Surprisingly, the best color was on our drive from Knoxville to Nashville.

I didn’t talk about it much before we left, but one of my big concerns was how my body would take such an active trip. At first, it was really hard. Hikes that I could normally do easily were a struggle. It did get easier, though. I’m definitely not back to myself yet, but I am getting stronger. I was able to eat more and walk more on this trip, and I could push myself without feeling like there would be major consequences (other than sore legs!).

I think a road trip is the best way to see the Smoky Mountains. We stopped by so many interesting places on the way, and I can’t wait to start sharing them with y’all.