The Siberian American

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Favorites: All the Christmas Things + Baylor Bound

It’s been a while since I’ve done an actual Friday favorites post, but today I have a million (or you know, five) little things to share with y’all, so I thought I’d do one today!

For all the people in our blogger Christmas exchange, today is the last day to ship your package! I can’t wait to see what everyone gets!

Chris and I finished watching the Gilmore Girls mini-series on Wednesday, and I have so many things I want to say, but I won’t since I know many of you haven’t watch it yet. I will say the last episode was my favorite except those “last four words” (which are really two in my opinion). I get why they did it, but I don’t like it.

We are headed out of town again this weekend to watch a Baylor basketball game! Baylor has been playing really well so far this year, so we are excited to watch them live. Plus, we haven’t been on Baylor campus since College Game Day in December 2014, so we are excited to go back!

Does anyone else love Cyber Monday shopping? I knocked out my entire Christmas list this year, which feels great! I absolutely love giving gifts (if you’ve read the five love languages, it’s definitely one of my love languages), so it’s one of my favorite days of the year!

Chris has to take vacation at the beginning of the year, so we have been discussing where to go. It’s weird to have some say in when we go this year, but he still can’t take any vacation from the middle of March to July. We are currently considering the first week of March. Anyone feel like throwing out any ideas for us?

Linking up with AmandaKarli, and the High Five for Friday girls.

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Life Lately: November 2016

I’m not sure how it’s possible today is the last day of November. As much as I love sharing my travels, fashion picks, and favorite reads, I realized I haven’t shared anything about our life lately on the blog in the last month. Today, I wanted to share some highlights of our month.

November was such a fun month filled with family and friends. The month started out with two fun parties: a make-your-own pizza party with the residents in Christopher’s program, and a girls’ lunch put on by a friend. Isn’t this cake from the girls’ lunch adorable?

Date nights with Christopher are my favorite. I am always looking up Groupons and other restaurant deals, so we can go as much as possible. Some favorites this month were Village Burger Bar, CafĂ© Madrid, and Peggy Sue’s Barbecue.

When we aren’t going on dates, we have been cooking together from the new Skinnytaste Cookbook. We love that Skinnytaste Fast and Slow features both quick recipes and delicious crockpot meals. Our favorite meal so far has been the baked fish and chips with slow cooker strawberry and peach cobbler for dessert. When I was flipping through the categories, there were so many unique dishes I wanted to try. We are slowly going through the cookbook, but I can already tell it will be one of my favorites!

I received a free copy of Skinnytaste Fast and Slow through Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

We loved going to a focus group for new brunch items at Taco Diner. It was so fun to try ten different options and share our opinions. My favorite was their new eggs benedict.

After the focus group, Chris and I went on a blate with Emma and her husband, who were visiting from London! It was so fun to get to know them, and I can’t wait to visit them in England sometime!

Christmas came a little early for us this year when we decided to go to ICE! at the Gaylord Texan. A full recap of our visit is here, but we had the best time seeing all the stunning ice sculptures.

Thanksgiving was the best this year. I loved seeing all my Red Army girls and my little brother (more on that here) at our big Russian Thanksgiving. On Friday morning, we headed out of town to visit my in-laws. We had Thanksgiving with them on Friday and had a family Thanksgiving with his dad’s side of the family on Saturday. Chris was able to get Monday off work, so we stayed till Monday afternoon. It was the best to have an extended amount of time with them and not have to rush home quickly!

What was your favorite part of November?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretchen.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seven Things You Must Do in Chicago During the Holiday Season

During our year in Chicago, one of the things I was most looking forward to is spending the holidays in the city. It didn’t disappoint. I am always in love with Chicago, but it’s absolutely magical during the holiday season. I made it a goal to experience the season to the fullest, and today, I’m sharing my list, so you can, too!

Going to Chicago during the holidays? Here are seven things you have to do!

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival kicks off the holiday season in Chicago and is similar to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. The difference is the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is held the weekend before Thanksgiving. The parade, which ends in a tree-lighting ceremony, is in the evening, followed by a stunning fireworks show over the Chicago River. The festival has plenty of fun activities for the kids and great shopping for adults!

I have always wanted to visit Germany during the holiday season to see the Christmas markets, but Christkindlmarket in Chicago is the next best thing! I’ve been told by Germans that Christkindlmarket is exactly like the markets in Germany. Most of the vendors actually fly in from Germany for the market. I love the unique, hand-crafted items, amazing German food, and, of course, the mulled wine.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
I love visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo any time of the year because it’s free, but it’s even better during ZooLights. Just like on regular days, the entrance is free. It’s so fun to look at all the gorgeous lights and enjoy the light shows while drinking some delicious mulled wine. One of my favorite parts was watching sculptors make amazing ice sculptures. Don’t forget to stop by the gorilla house on the way home to watch them go to sleep!

See the windows at Macy’s on State Street
The Macy’s on State Street is famous for its gorgeous Christmas displays, and they are worth seeing. My favorite last year was the blue mythological window.

Eat at the Walnut Room
Eating at the Walnut Room with the giant Christmas tree was high on my holiday season list, and it turned out to be one of my favorite things we did during the holiday season in Chicago. Click here for a full guide to the Walnut Room.

Go Ice Skating
Ice Skating at the rink in Millennium Park is a perfect holiday season activity. The park is gorgeous during the holidays and has a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink opens the same day as the tree lighting ceremony.

Christmas Around the World at The Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is always worth visiting, but it is even better during the holiday season when they have their “Christmas Around the World” exhibit. It features over 50 Christmas trees, each one decorated with holiday traditions from a different country. The trees were beautiful, and I loved seeing all the traditions from other countries.

Have you ever been to Chicago during the holiday season?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Tag

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I saw the Thanksgiving Tag on Biana and Ashley’s blogs, and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate the holiday! I’m taking Friday off from blogging to spend time with family, so I’ll see y’all on Monday!

Favorite part of the Thanksgiving Day meal:
My favorite part of Thanksgiving in general is seeing all my close friends and family. Since only my immediate family lives in the United States, we have always had Thanksgiving with our extended Russian family from church. Growing up, I had a close group of Russian friends (we were nicknamed the Red Army). They came to visit us in Chicago in March, but other than that, it has been years since we have all been able to make it to Thanksgiving. (Usually one or two of us is missing. I didn’t go last year because Chris had to work on Thanksgiving.) This year, all of us will be there, and I’m super excited!

Thanksgiving 2014
As far as my favorite part of the meal, it’s the pecan pie! My mother-in-law makes an amazing chocolate pecan pie that I look forward to every year.

Favorite side(s):
I’m going to be super honest and say that, in general, I don’t really like traditional Thanksgiving food. I will eat the tiniest piece of turkey you can imagine to feel like I participated. The one side I really do love, though, is corn casserole.

Have you hosted before?
No, and I don’t think we will until we move away from Texas. We do like to bring dishes, though. For Russian Thanksgiving, we are bringing an American side (corn casserole), and for Thanksgiving with my in-laws, we are making pumpkin bread and bringing a Russian side (a Russian potato salad. I have thought about putting the recipe on the blog if anyone is interested!).

Favorite decor for Thanksgiving:
I just want Thanksgiving to feel like fall, so no Christmas decorations, please! I like pumpkins and cornucopias.

Tree up before or after Thanksgiving (if you celebrate):
Always after, but I like to get it up as soon as I can!

Smooth or chunky cranberry sauce:
Neither. I’m really not a big fan of cranberry sauce.

Pumpkin pie or another:
I feel like some of y’all might disown me as blog friends, but I really don’t like pumpkin pie. The texture bothers me. For Thanksgiving, I love apple pie and pecan pie. In general, my favorite is cherry pie.

Biggest thing you're thankful for this year:
My health! It has been a hard year for my health, and I am so thankful that I ended up with the best-case scenario. I am also so thankful that Chris has Thanksgiving off! This could be the last year he has it off for a while, so I am going to enjoy it as much as I can.

What's your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 21, 2016

ICE! at the Gaylord Texan: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

Usually, I’m a strict no Christmas before Thanksgiving person, but there is one thing I love more than rules: bargains. When I heard that ICE! at the Gaylord was 50 percent off if you go before Thanksgiving, I knew we had to make an exception.

This year, the theme was “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” based on a classic TV special from the 1970s that none of us had actually seen. Still, the story and the characters carved out of the ice were adorable. I actually liked it better than ICE! exhibits from previous years. Usually, it’s characters from an animated movie (Shrek, Ice Age, etc.) dressed up in Christmas outfits, so it was nice to see a Christmas story this time.

One of my favorite parts of ICE! is the video at the beginning that explains how the exhibit is made. They use over two million blocks of ice, and amazing artisans come from Harbin, China to carve the designs. I am always amazed by how detailed each sculpture is.

It’s nine degrees inside the exhibit, so everyone is required to wear blue parkas to enter the exhibit. Gloves and hats are recommended, but they’re not required. I decided to skip the gloves for the sake of taking photos, but my hands were definitely frozen by the end.

ICE! is showcased at the four Gaylord hotels (Washington, D.C., Nashville, Tennessee, Grapevine, Texas, and Kissimmee, Florida), though the theme is different at each hotel. All exhibits are open now and run through January 1, 2017. If you are interesting in going, I suggest searching for a Groupon before you go.

Have you ever been to ICE! or any other ice sculpture exhibit?