The Siberian American

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Instagram Hashtag Announcement + Giveaway

Instagram is by far my favorite form of social media. Not only is it full of gorgeous photos, but I think there are many people wanting to build a genuine community. I am one of those people. I don’t care nearly as much about the number of followers I have as I do interacting with people and reading their stories. This is why I decided to create my own hashtag. I plan to check it constantly and like and comment on all the photos.

If you have been around here for a while, you know I believe every day is an adventure. I was recently discussing this with my little brother, and he asked me how a regular old day can be an adventure. I told him there are big adventures and small adventures. For me, an adventure can be finding a new route to walk Skyler, trying a new flavor of tea, or painting my nails a fun color. Life is what you make it. Adventure is everywhere.

For that reason, I am so excited to announce my new hashtag:


You can post anything that made you smile that day: whether you are on a fun vacation or your dog did something cute.

To celebrate the launch of the hashtag, I am holding a giveaway for a $20 gift card of the winner’s choice. You get an entry every time you use the hashtag. I will also have an Instagram post this evening where you can tag people for extra entries. You must be following me on Instagram to win. The winner will be selected on April 3.

Here’s to more adventures, friends!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Five Reasons You Should Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I have mentioned our trip to the Smokies about a million times in passing, so it’s about time I share more about our latest adventure. There’s a reason why the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States. It actually gets twice as many visitors as the second place park, the Grand Canyon. Today I wanted to share five reasons I think you should visit the park as soon as you can.

Amazing Views
The minute you drive into the Smokies, there is a stunning view at every corner. My favorite view was of Newfound Gap, which is also the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Gorgeous Hikes
Christopher and I love to hike, and the Smoky Mountains are filled with amazing options. My favorite hike was to Clingman’s Dome. It is very steep (you gain 332 feet in half a mile!), but the view at the top is so worth it.

I am obsessed with waterfalls, so, of course, I loved the ones in the Smokies. You could spend a month in the mountains and still have waterfalls to visit. We did a hike to the Laurel Falls, which I can’t wait to share!

Gatlinburg is the cutest mountain town! We loved walking around the shops and trying some delicious food in a gorgeous mountain setting. Out of all the towns near the Smokies, Gatlinburg was my favorite.

Cade’s Cove
Cade’s Cove is a historic valley featuring several 19th century historical structures. It’s a one-way 11-mile loop that includes beautiful views and plenty of historical significance. I’m excited to share more about this area with y’all in the future.

I hope this post spikes your interest for all the amazing things about the Smoky Mountains because I will be writing individual posts on all of these in the future!

Other Smoky Mountains Road Trip Posts:

Have you been to the Smoky Mountains? What was your favorite part? If you haven’t been, what would you most like to do?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Five Islands I Want to Visit

Lately, I’ve been itching to go on another cruise. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know we used to cruise often (in 2014, we went on a fall color cruise to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. Johns, New Brunswick and a New Year’s cruise to Mexico, Belize, and Honduras), but Chris has banned us from cruising for now because of Zika. A few years ago, I shared my three favorite Caribbean cruise ports with y’all, so today I wanted to share five islands I still want to visit. I’m not limiting my list to the Caribbean since there are islands I want to visit all over the world!

Bora Bora
I had to start off my list with Bora Bora because it’s my dream destination. As someone obsessed with water, the idea of waking up in one of their overwater bungalows sounds amazing. Plus, you can’t beat the gorgeous scenery.

St. Thomas
St. Thomas is the Caribbean island I want to visit the most. I really enjoyed St. Croix, and St. Thomas looks even more beautiful.

I have wanted to visit Guernsey since reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society several years ago. The island looks so picturesque. I’ve seen it on some of the itineraries for England, Ireland, and Scotland cruises, so I would love to do that someday.

Canary Islands
The Canary Islands have both mountains and adorable seaside villages, so I know I would love them.

I’ve already mentioned Santorini as one of the five places I want to visit in Europe, but it’s definitely worth another mention. As much as I love the beautiful blue roof buildings, the main reason I want to go is because I’ve heard they have some of the best sunsets in the world.

Check out some of my other travel lists: 

What is your favorite island? What island would you like to visit?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Let’s Have a Coffee Date (Vol. 4)

It’s time for my first coffee date of 2017! I always feel like I do these too often (which is strange since this is only my fourth one), but I looked back, and I haven’t written one since October. So grab your beverage of choice and let’s chat!

If we were getting coffee, I would tell you we spent last weekend in the country at my in-laws’ house, and it was so refreshing. I loved spending some time with my in-laws and taking some time away from our busy schedule. Skyler loved running around in their huge backyard.

I would definitely mention our trip to Colorado and how excited I am to spend a whole week with Chris (and his parents). After our trip, his schedule will get even more crazy, so I am super thankful for this time year.

I would mention that my brother is having a fantastic time studying in Prague, and I am so glad he got to study abroad. Studying abroad in college is still one of the best things Chris and I have ever done together, and I am so grateful for that time.

I would ask what you have been reading lately. I just finished I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh and even though it started out super slow, I ended up really liking it. I’m currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

If I know that you like sports, I would ask if you think your basketball team is making it to the NCAA Tournament this year. Baylor is really good this year, but they have done a terrible job during March Madness the last two years, so we’ll see!

I would tell you I’m super proud of myself because I haven’t bought any clothes since the beginning of the year. Chris and I are really focused on saving right now, so I’ve been trying to be good! I know it will get harder once the weather gets a bit warmer.

I would also share how nervous I am about what our apartment is going to cost when our lease is up. I really don’t want to move (I have already moved 20 times in my 27 years, and I really like our current location), but we currently live in the hottest market in the country, so the prices have been insane lately. I’m trying not to worry about it until we get our renewal offer in April, but everyone has been asking us our plans, so it’s hard not to keep worrying about it!

I would also tell you how much I am loving my HoneyGlam Ink eyeliner. Since my post about it, I also bought some HoneyGlam Ink lip gloss (which is only $10!) and eye shadow, and both are amazing! Erika and Leanne are offering my readers 10 percent off with the code SiberianAmerican through the end of February if anyone wants to try out cheap, amazing makeup. (This isn't a sponsored blurb-I just really love the makeup!)

Now it's your turn! What's going on in your life?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Eleven Books I Read in January

Happy book day! I look forward to putting together this post every month and adding more books from everyone's lists! January was mostly dominated by Erin's Book Challenge. I participated for the first time and really enjoyed the categories! I finished the challenge a few weeks ago and am slowly working my way through the bonus round. I have no idea if I'll finish, though, because my NetGalley list is embarrassing right now (let's just say it's over 100 books and leave it at that).

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore 
(c/o NetGalley)
Wow, this book was so much better than I expected. I love when historical fiction teaches me something new in an interesting and fast-paced manner. I vaguely knew about the War of Currents between Edison and Westinghouse, but this book really transported me to that time period. It is narrated by Paul Carvath, Westinghouse's young lawyer, who was at the very center of the war. It was fascinating to read everything Edison did to convince the public that direct current was better than alternating current. If you love historical fiction, this one is a great read!

Erin's Book Challenge: A book with a homonym in the title

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella 
(c/o NetGalley) 
Confession: I don't think I've ever read a Sophie Kinsella book. I thought I had, but I just looked through my GoodReads list and saw I've never reviewed one. After reading this book, I can see why people like to read Sophie Kinsella so much. The book started off slow (Katie doesn't get fired until 30 percent into the book. This isn't a spoiler since it says it happens in the book description), but it gets so much better. I loved Katie, Demeter, and Alex. This is a good, cozy read by the fire kind of read. If you like women's fiction, I would highly recommend it!

Erin's Book Challenge: A book with a mostly green cover

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu 
This is a short but poignant book I read practically in one sitting. The Truth About Alice really showcased how awful bullying can be and what kids/teenagers put each other through on a daily basis. The only thing that did bother me is the four narrators. I think two of the narrators were really unnecessary, and the author should have really stuck with one or two.

Erin's Book Challenge: A book set in your city/town/state

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley 
(c/o NetGalley) 
This book started out slow. By slow I mean the conflict didn't occur until 80 percent into the book. Then, as soon as it started, it was obvious what was going to happen. I did like the ending of the book, which moved it up to three stars for me.

Erin's Book Challenge: A book that starts with a "W"

American Heiress by Jeffery Toobin 
(c/o NetGalley) 
I've always been fascinated by the Hearst family, especially William Randolph Hearst, Patty's grandfather, but I didn't know much about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Toobin's account was fascinating, though I did feel bogged down by all the details a few times. Overall, it is an interesting book for those curious to learn more about Patty Hearst and her time with the SLA.

Erin's Book Challenge: A book from a genre you rarely read

The Undesirables by Chad Thumann
(c/o NetGalley)
I usually don't read books set in Russia for reasons I won't get into in the review (I'm happy to answer if you message me, though), but this story made me curious enough to give it a try. I didn't love the writing, and I did think there were too many narrators, but the story sucked me in. The first 10 percent was a little slow, but once it got going, I didn't want to stop reading it. Overall, I thought it was an interesting (and fair) overview of what World War II was like for Russians in Leningrad and soldiers fighting the Eastern Front.

Erin's Book Challenge: Freebie that's at least 200 pages long.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This is a beautiful story that really speaks to the power of music in our lives. Patchett turns a horrifying event of a hostage crisis into a story of love and forgiveness. The only reason it's not five stars for me is it felt a little slow at times (though I think it was intentional), and I didn't love the ending.

Erin's Book Challenge: A "Rory Gilmore" book (A book read by Rory in an episode of Gilmore Girls)

Always by Sarah Jio
(c/o NetGalley)
I have liked a lot of Sarah Jio's books, but this one is truly a mess. The writing isn't great, and much of the dialogue is extremely awkward. Several of the facts don't add up, and there are plot holes. (Don't even get me started on "She was a medical student in her surgical residency. Ugh)." I think what Sarah Jio wrote in the acknowledgements explains why this book was so much worse than others, but her editor should have really stepped up and made sure the major issues were fixed. I'm sad this happened because I have really enjoyed some of her earlier books.

Erin's Book Challenge: A book by a favorite author

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline
(c/o NetGalley)
This book is what is classified as a "legal thriller" and honestly I'm not sure how I feel about the genre. Damaged is the fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, but it reads like a stand alone novel. Honestly, it was just super depressing to me. I did like Mary DiNunzio, but I thought the story was a bit slow at times. That said, I would be interested in reading the next book in the series.

The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace
(c/o NetGalley)
I just didn't love this book. There were too many point of views, and it was super slow. From the description, I thought there was going to be a bit of a mystery, but the answer was revealed early in the book. I was hoping it was going to be a quick read for me, but it took me quite some time to get through it.

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia
(c/o NetGalley)
I was hoping for a fast-paced thriller, and this book was a little slow for me. That said, I thought I had it figured out, and the ending surprised me (though I don't like who ended up being the killer). Overall, this was a solid thriller.

Favorite reads in December: The Last Days of Night, My Not So Perfect Life, The Undesirables, and Bel Canto. 

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?