The Siberian American: October 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Favorites: Formal Dresses and Book Challenges

What a difference a week makes! Thankfully, this week was so much better than last week (seriously an understatement). That being said, I’m definitely ready for the weekend! Here are my Friday favorites for this week:

/ / One:
This weekend is Baylor Homecoming! Baylor is credited with having the oldest homecoming in the nation, and it is so much fun! Sadly, we can’t go this year due to interviews, but I am excited to see everyone’s photos.
/ / Two:
The weather is finally going to cooperate this weekend. We had crazy record highs lately (it hit 90 a few days ago), but it is finally going to cool down a bit. The high is 61 tomorrow! (I know all you people from up North are laughing at me right now, but it’s super exciting).

/ / Three:
I am already trying to figure out what I want to wear for the formal nights on our next cruise (because that’s what I do), and I’ve had my eye on this dress for weeks. Sadly, it sold out of my size while we were on the cruise, but it has been restocked before so I hope it will again!

/ / Four:
I am nine books away from my goal of reading 50 books this year, but it’s starting to get harder to read. I finished the goal last year, and I am hoping I can do it again!

/ / Five:
I have been scheming up a few new things for the blog, and I am so excited to share! Sorry for the ambiguity for now, but I hope y’all like my ideas as much as I do. :) 

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! 

Linking up with LaurenAmandaKarli, and Amy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cruise Ship Review: Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas

If I could, I would live on a cruise ship.  Constant views of the ocean and travel to beautiful destinations? Yes, please. This was my third cruise on Royal Caribbean, and I somehow always end up on a Radiance Class ship. I am a fan of the Radiance Class because they are mid-sized ships with gorgeous views of the sea at every corner.
The Brilliance of the Seas is different from the other Radiance Class ships I have sailed. Instead of a grand staircase, there is a large Centrum. Although I do like the look of a grand staircase, the Brilliance of the Seas had lots of open space, which we loved. We also loved that the ship was refurbished last year. Everything sparkled. There’s a reason we keep gravitating towards the Radiance Class (though I am going to try a new class next time we cruise Royal Caribbean).
Our room:
We booked a deluxe balcony room, and it was perfect! We had plenty of room with a nice closet and space to store our bags. It was so fun to order room service and sit out and enjoy the view from the balcony.
Although the food in the dining room food was, in general, nothing to write home about, there were always one or two things that stood out on the menu.  There were definitely several desserts that I would eat again and again. The two-story Minstrel Dining room was beautiful, though if you’re looking for small tables, they are hard to find. Our table (and many of the tables around us) seated 10 people. If we have to be at a large table, we usually prefer tables with six to eight people because it’s easier to have a conversation. If you do My Time Dining, there are more tables for two people or smaller groups.
Our first time eating at the Windjammer was disappointing, but we liked it much better the second time. We also liked going to the Minstrel Dining Room for lunch with a make-your-own salad bar where they will chop your salad.
Honestly, Chris and I aren’t fans of the singers and dancers on Royal Caribbean. We have enjoyed the shows on other cruise ships, but the production shows on Royal aren’t our favorites. That being said, we really liked all of the guest entertainers. David Klinkenberg was impressive on the violin, and Michael Menes performs an entertaining one-man variety show. We also saw an impersonator that we had seen on a previous cruise, but he was just as funny the second time around.
Have you ever been on a cruise? What is your favorite cruise line?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blogtober14: A Letter to My Younger Self

Confession: I had another post nearly ready for today, but I saw the Blogtober prompt today, and I couldn’t pass it up. In high school, I wrote a letter to myself 10 years in the future (it’s pretty hilarious; I might have to post it someday), but I have never written a letter to the younger Olya. High school and early college Olya could have really used some guidance.

Dear younger Olya,

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even though high school drama seems like the worst thing in the world, in a few years none of it will matter. Forget about all the crazy boy situations and focus on your friendships—it’s true what they say. You usually don’t go to high school to find your husband; you go to find your bridesmaids. Some of those girls will still mean the world to you many years later.

Follow your heart. Sure, your parents will want you to give up journalism (and will convince you to double major), but you will have a blast in college following your passion…and you will get a job in the journalism field. Stop worrying so much about the future and enjoy the journey.

Younger Olya, I know you love working hard, but take some time to just live. Don’t spend every moment of high school and college studying. When your friends ask you to go out, join them! You only get to be young once, and college is no fun when you spend it in the library. I promise that once you start going out, you will have no problem figuring out the balance between studying and your social life.

Olya, don't forget you are loved and don't forget to love yourself. Even when you feel like you're not worth it, you are.

And that cute guy you meet your first week at Baylor? Pay attention to him. He might just end up meaning the world to you. ;)

Older Olya 

Linking up with Helene for Blogtober.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Thoughts: Let's Forget and Move On

Happy Friday, friends! When I started this blog, I promised myself I would be transparent and share both the good and the bad.  Today is a day I wanted to break that promise. To be honest, this has been a rough week, and I wasn’t sure I would have a post ready today.  I can’t go into specifics, but this has been by far the worst week at work in the two and a half years that I have been there. Thankfully, we are moving on, and I am so grateful for my job and my coworkers.  That being said, it was really hard for me to come up with five favorites for this week so this post is five random thoughts about this week and weekend. 

/ / One:
With the situation I mentioned above (Sorry for the vagueness. It is necessary, I promise!) and the hubby being gone, I have been working really hard on staying positive. So far, it’s been working. It’s been hard coming from vacation and right into complicated problems, but I am thankful for so many things in my life right now so it balances out. Cheesy, but true.

/ / Two:
I am volunteering at a Fall Festival tonight, and I’m super excited. Little kids + costumes = a lot of cuteness.
/ / Three:
I have starting going through photos from our trip and can’t wait to share them with y’all. I can’t believe that this time last week we were still on the boat. It feels like forever ago.

/ / Four:
Quick Chris residency interview update: Though the travel has been exhausting for him, Chris is enjoying his interviews so far. It is so fun to hear him tell me all about the different places when he returns…even when he can’t stop talking at 1:30 in the morning because his flight landed at past midnight, and he just can’t wait to tell me all about the program.

/ / Five:
I got so many subscription boxes while we were on our cruise that it definitely felt like Christmas! I have never shared my Ipsy bag on my blog because so many people do it, but I loved it so much that I think I will. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! 

Linking up with LaurenAmandaKarli, and Amy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three Ways to Combat Post-Vacation Blues

Most of the time after a vacation, I feel refreshed and excited to get back to work. This time it has been so much harder to get back into a normal routine with the hubby’s schedule, which currently involves flying to two or more cities a week. I miss being together and exploring exciting new places. Although it has been a struggle this time, here is how I normally combat the post-vacation blues:

Schedule a day of rest in between vacation and work. One of the reasons I have had a hard time getting back into my normal routine is that we got off the ship on Sunday morning, flew home on Sunday afternoon, and I was back at work on Monday morning. I usually try to get home on a Saturday (or take Monday off), but that wasn’t an option this time. I use the extra day of rest to do the massive loads of laundry that accumulates after a trip, catch up on TV shows, and get everything prepared for the next day. This really reduces my stress by not forcing me to jump right into work.

Spend time with friends and family. One of my favorite things to do after a vacation is to spend time with the friends and family I missed while we were gone. It’s fun to share vacation stories and is a great reminder that there are reasons to be home and not traveling all the time (which I would love to do).

Book another vacation. I know that it is not always possible to book another vacation, especially after just spending money on a trip. In my personal experience, it is always easier to get rid of post-vacation blues when I am looking forward to another trip. When I know I can’t travel for a certain amount of time, I try to book a vacation far in advance or put together a weekend road trip. If I really can’t schedule anything at all, it helps me to plan “fake” trips that I hope to take in the future.
Have you ever experienced the post-vacation blues?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quick Thoughts About Our Fall Foliage Cruise

Hello friends! We just got back from our cruise last night, and I am exhausted in the best way. It was so nice for Chris and me to take a week away from the stress of interview season and focus on food each other. I can't wait to share the ports and some of the entertaining cruise being placed at the "kids table" with three other couples and the night we thought the hurricane was headed in our direction. The fall color was even better than I expected (coming from a Texan seriously deprived of color)...and so was the chocolate mousse cake. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 2014 MunchPak Review

I am obsessed with subscription boxes, and it wasn’t long before I spread my obsession to Chris. While I love beauty boxes, he is a fan of snack boxes. One of these snack boxes is MunchPak. For $21 (though we got ours at a discount when the subscription was new), we receive new and popular snacks from all over the world. It’s a fun way to try snacks that aren’t always available in the United States. Half the time, we have no idea what we’re trying, but it is super entertaining to guess.

Here is what Chris received this month:

Japanese “Petit Cheese Bourbon” Cookie: This package says cookie, but it looks more like a cracker to me. My guess is that it’s like a Ritz cheese cracker, though the “bourbon” part throws me off a bit.

Japanese “Dream Animals Butter Flavored Biscuits”: These are a mixture between animal crackers and shortbread cookies. The back of the package conveniently teaches you how to write several animals in Japanese characters.

Herr’s Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips: We received these in a previous MunchPak, and I wasn’t sure about that. I actually enjoyed them and am glad we got another package.

Serbian Prima Snacks: These look like pretzel sticks, but the bag calls it a “salty pastry with peanut filling.” 

Serbian Smoki: These are puff snacks with peanuts. Chris has tried these before and didn’t like them.

Italian Balconi Trancetto: This is an “oven-baked confectionary product with fat-reduced cocoa filling.” It looks delicious so I might have to steal it when Chris isn’t looking. ;)

Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls: According to the story on the back of the package, Professor Sauernoggin made these to transform “toxic waste” into useful products.

Magic Creams Combo from the Philippines: It looks like a chocolate cookie filled with chocolate filling. Sounds like my kind of cookie.

Puffy rice cake with pumpkin-flavored filling from Taiwan: We just tried this, and it was surprisingly delicious. The rice cake mixed with pumpkin turned out to be a great combination.

Cadbury Curly wurly from England: A milk chocolate strip with a caramel center.

Japanese Hi-Chew: These come in every MunchPak, and I have tried them in many flavors. Strawberry is my favorite flavor so far.

Italian Balconi Wafers alla Vaniglia: These are basically Italian vanilla wafers. Nothing special, but still delicious!

Japanese Apple Gummy Candy: We have received these before, and I thought they were great.

MunchPak is a fun way to try snacks we would not get to otherwise. This month, we received 13 items from at least 7 different countries. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Day at the Texas State Fair

Hello friends! I am currently on a fall foliage cruise, but I thought I'd share a few photos from our day at the Texas State Fair last weekend. The fair is one of the highlights of the fall for me-I love the crazy fried food (this year we tried the deep fried twisted Texas was chicken fried brisket, fried okra, corn salsa, coleslaw, cheese, and sour cream), walking around the fair and taking it all in, the car show, the shopping, and even the dog show. We went after church so I couldn't grab my nice camera, but here are a few photos from our day:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favorites: Boston Bound + Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop

I always love Fridays right before a vacation. Though I am an anxious flier, I am always excited to explore new places. Here are my five favorites this week:

/ / One:
I am so excited to fly out to Boston at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning and spend a week relaxing with the hubby. It has been a stressful few weeks setting up interviews so it will be wonderful to not worry about the future for a week.

/ / Two:
I have been looking forward to our fall foliage cruise since May, and I am so ready to board our ship on Sunday! We will be going to two cities in Maine (Portland & Bar Harbor) and two cities in Canada (Halifax and St. Johns). We don’t get the beautiful fall colors here in Texas so I am ready to enjoy cooler weather and see some color!

/ / Three:
I finally started reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette, and I can’t believe that I waited this long to read it. (I’ve had it for over a year.) It is a quirky and fun read so far!

/ / Four:
We purchased tickets to see Baylor football play in December! Chris and I really wanted to see a game in the new stadium this season. I am glad we were able to make it work with the hubby’s interview schedule.

/ / Five:
Residency update: Chris had his first interview this week, and it went really well. There are still many more to go, but I am glad he came away happy with his first one.

Today I am co-hosting the Fresh Face Friday linkup with Casey from We Took the Road Less Traveled.

Welcome to the
No prompt, just fun!

Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

Rules for hopping:
1| Follow your host & co-hosts (first 3 links), pretty please! 
2| Link up your blog's homepage or Bloglovin' page.
3| Hop around, meet new bloggers, and leave them love!
4| Have fun? Spread the word and share this blog hop with your friends!
5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info! 

Grab a button and share the blog hop love!
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I hope everyone has a great weekend! Note: I will have a few days on the cruise without access to the Internet so it will take me a bit longer to respond to your comments, but I'll respond as soon as I can! I will have a few posts up next week while I am gone. 

Linking up with LaurenAmandaKarli, and Amy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Real Talk: My Struggle to Focus on the Present

March 20. Ever since I found out the date Chris will find out where we’re going for residency, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. All I can think about is that little sheet of paper he will receive on March 20 could have almost any city in the United States on it.

Here’s the thing: I’m used to change and take it fairly well. I have moved 18 times in my life and have never really been attached to a house or a place. Part of me craves a new adventure. The problem is that I’m a planner. We will find out where we’re going on March 20 and will need to move sometime in June. It takes me longer than that to plan our vacations! 

My biggest struggle so far is focusing on the present. Right now, I am completely focused on the possibility of moving. I keep thinking this will be the last time we will go to the State Fair or this is the last time it will be this easy to spend Christmas with both of our families. I have been asked about summer plans and can’t give clear answers. My boss knows my situation, and the thought of leaving my job makes me want to cry.

However, these anxious thoughts aren’t actually getting me anywhere. Worrying about the future is not going to make March 20 arrive any quicker. The truth is, even though I am anxious about not having a lot of time to plan once we find out where Chris matches, this is such an exciting time.

Chris is graduating from medical school and is ready to take the next step forward in fulfilling his passion. He is traveling all over the country, interviewing with programs to find the right fit for him. I am his travel agent, booking flights and researching the cities.  He receives new interview invitations every day, and we get to pick where he goes. It’s a time filled with many possibilities, and if I keep worrying about things I can’t change, I will miss it.

My goal is to enjoy this season of life and live in the present. Life is beautiful, and I don’t want to miss a single second. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Top Five European Travel Moments

If I had to pick my favorite continent to visit, Europe would take the cake.  I have fallen in love with the history, the architecture, and the amazing, magical moments I have experienced. Those moments when I was so in awe, so giddy, so thankful to be alive, to be traveling and experiencing what the world has to offer. It sounds cheesy, but those in love with travel know exactly what I mean. Here are my top five European travel moments so far:

Seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night for the first time: 
We went to Paris for the first time over a Valentine’s Day weekend, and on Valentine’s Day, my hubby surprised me with a night cruise on the Seine River. As we approached the Eiffel Tower, it began to twinkle. I had seen it in photos, but it was nothing like experiencing it myself for the first time. At that moment, I fell in love with Paris. Although I usually prefer to travel to places that I haven’t been, I would visit Paris again and again.

Watching Wicked in London:
I had so many different travel moments in London, but seeing Wicked sticks out in my mind. We decided to go on a whim and had an amazing time. It is now one of my favorite musicals, and seeing it in London made it more special.

Hiking up to the Marseille calanques:
This moment really stood out to me because it was one that I didn’t expect. When we visited Marseille, the calanques weren’t on our list, but we saw an advertisement for them and decided to check them out. I was blown away by their beauty. After our hike, we sat down and admired the view, and I never wanted to leave.

Taking a horse-drawn carriage up to Neuschwanstein Castle with light snow falling:
Our trip to Neuschwanstein Castle went beyond my expectations (and those were fairly high to begin with!). Though the inside of the castle is nothing to write home about, the outside is picturesque. I will never forget taking a horse-drawn carriage, holding a mug of hot chocolate with snow lightly falling as the beautiful castle came into view.

Exploring Prague:
I couldn’t pick one specific moment in Prague because I quickly and completely fell in love with the city. I loved the different styles of architecture throughout the city, the Charles Bridge, St. Vitus cathedral, and so much more. The mixture of Eastern and Western styles was unique and instantly made me feel at home.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Favorites: Ready for Fall Color

Friday, we meet again. I can’t believe how fast this week flew by! Here are my five favorite things this week:

/ / One:
The Texas State Fair has started, and I’m hoping to go this weekend.  I love this time of year, and the fair is one of the reasons why. It’s so fun to ride the Texas Star, watch the pig races, eat the crazy fried food, and just walk around taking it all in.
/ / Two:
I got an e-mail that we will embark on our fall foliage cruise in nine days! I am so excited to visit the East Coast, enjoy some cooler weather, and see some fall color! Unfortunately, we don’t really get much fall color here in Texas so we are really excited for this cruise.

/ / Three:
Residency interview update: Chris is getting so many interviews that we are now at the point where he has to reject some of them. It is a great problem to have, but it is starting to get overwhelming. He flies out for his first interview next week!

/ / Four:
I painted my nails with OPI’s It’s My Year, and it’s such a fun color for fall. I was looking to buy another bottle, but sadly, it is discontinued. (I did find it at a good price on Amazon here).

/ / Five:
I got Ghiradelli’s Sea Salt and Almond Minis in my PopSugar box, and now I’m obsessed. I hadn’t tried sea salt in chocolate before, and I love that sweet and salty combination.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! 

Linking up with LaurenAmandaKarli, and Amy.