The Siberian American: May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Favorites: Chicago, Here We Come

Happy Friday, friends! We leave for Chicago early tomorrow morning! Part of me has been hoping this week would never get here, and the other part is excited for this new adventure. Here are my Friday favorites this week:

/ / One:
We have actually managed to get all our packing finished! It was a close call, but we are finally good to go.

/ / Two:
On Wednesday night, I watched my love walk across the stage and officially become a doctor. It has been an incredible blessing to watch him fulfill his calling, and I am so proud of him and excited to close this chapter.

/ / Three:
I have mentioned before that by far the hardest part about moving for me is leaving my job. Today is my last day, and I am still having a hard time realizing I won’t be coming in on Monday. That being said, I know when God says go, you go. I know God has a plan for both of us, and there is a reason we’re leaving for a year.

/ / Four:
Chris and I have made it our mission to eat as much Tex-Mex and barbecue as possible before we leave Texas, so our meals have been fun lately. We will definitely miss our favorite places, but Chicago is a great city for food, so I’m sure we will find new favorites. Even so, I may or may not have already googled “best barbecue in Chicago.”

/ / Five:
One of best parts of blogging is the community, so I wanted to take the time to thank y’all for all of your sweet messages about our move. It’s not a secret that this move has been hard for me, but your encouragement has really helped. Thank you so much!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

California Road Trip: San Diego Old Town Trolley Tour

With only two days in San Diego, we wanted to see as much of the city as possible. We loved the Old Town Trolley tour we took in Boston, so when we noticed the same company had a tour in San Diego, we thought it was would be a good option for us.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is a hop on, hop off tour with over 10 stops around the city. The driver acts as a tour guide, providing interesting details about San Diego as he or she drove us around the city. We took the whole tour without hopping off, which took about two hours. After we got done with the loop, we discussed which stops made us most interested to come back. These were our favorites of the day:

I would love to spend a day or two exploring Coronado’s cute shops, restaurants, art galleries, and the beautiful Coronado Beach. With its gorgeous water and beautiful sand, I can see why Coronado Beach has been voted as one of the best beaches in America. The bridge from San Diego to Coronado is not fun for those of us who hate heights, but the views of San Diego are worth a peek.

Gaslamp Quarter:
As we passed the Victorian-style buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter, I thought it would be fun to spend a day exploring the area. I would love to take the Gaslamp Quarter Walking Tour to learn about San Diego during the 1800s.

Balboa Park:
I love the Spanish style of the buildings almost as much as all of the museum options. We spent most of our time at Balboa Park the next day at the San Diego Zoo, but I would love to visit the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Museum of Photographic Arts.

After the Old Town Trolley Tour, we decided we needed at least a week in San Diego to see all the fun attractions we passed.

Have you ever been to San Diego? What is your must-see attraction in the city? 

Catch up on our California Road Trip:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 2015 PopSugar Must Have Box

My PopSugar box came in the mail this week, and I couldn’t wait to share it with y’all. I think this month’s box was a fun mixture of items I will use this summer. Here’s what was inside:

Kitsch Tri’d & True Y-Shaped Necklace ($32): I think this necklace would look great with a low-cut dress. It’s a fun style, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Middle Kingdom Mini Plum Vase in Coral Red ($20): How adorable is this vase? I don’t have any mini vases, so I loved getting this in the box. I can’t wait to use it as a pop of color in our new loft.

Sisters of Los Angeles Surf Sand Love Beach Towel ($40): You can’t go wrong with a beach towel. I love the yellow color, and it is super soft. It is probably my favorite item in the box.

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cherry ($4): I love trying out different dry shampoos, and I really like this one so far. My hair looks great, and the cherry smell is a nice touch.

Sage & Row Bare Shave Cream ($17): I love that this product is aloe-based, and the smell is light.

Hammond’s Candies McCraw’s Flat Taffy ($1): Honestly, I am not a huge fan of taffy, so this was a Chris item. He enjoyed it, though!

I came up with a total of $114 for this box. I thought the May PopSugar box was another great combination of both fun and practical items.

What do you think of the May 2015 PopSugar Must Have Box? What is your favorite item in the box?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Best Buffets in Las Vegas

When we want to go away for a long weekend, Vegas is always a top choice. Other than the shows, our favorite part of going to Vegas is all of the amazing food options. Vegas is known for its buffets, and though I am not a huge buffet fan, I have found several in Vegas that I really enjoy. Here are my favorites:

The Buffet at Bellagio: 
We have been to The Buffet at Bellagio many times, and it has always been great. I love the Asian food section and the ribs for dinner, and I am slightly embarrassed by the number of cherry crepes I had at the breakfast buffet. The desserts were delicious, though the selection is not as impressive as at some of the other buffets.

The Buffet at Wynn: 
I love The Buffet at Wynn because of the variety. The restaurant is beautiful, and the food is good quality. I can’t think of a food item that really stood out, but I would eat here again.

Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace:
I live in Texas, the land of amazing brisket, but I had one of the best briskets I have ever had at the Bacchanal Buffet (We talked to the chef and found out he was from Texas. That explains it). Everything I ate was delicious, and I had to get two plates right away because I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to try on one plate. The dessert selection was the best out of all the buffets I’ve tried in Vegas. If I had to pick one buffet to visit in Vegas, it would be Bacchanal Buffet.

Have you tried any of the buffets in Vegas? Which one is your favorite?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites: Two Weeks Away (+Giveaway)

Happy Friday, friends! I really need to figure out how to slow down the time—I am definitely not ready to move in just two weeks! Here are my Friday favorites this week:

/ / One:
We bought a couch! I wasn’t planning on buying any new furniture since we are only going to be in Chicago for a year, but a Nebraska Furniture Mart opened up in our area, and we couldn’t pass up a great deal. I can’t wait to style our new living room.

/ / Two:
On Monday, Chris and I are headed to a lunch in his honor. He won the best tutor award, and I am so excited to celebrate his accomplishments!

/ / Three:
Skyler wanted me to thank our friends at Chewy for her Grain-Free Greenies treats and Kong Cozie Marvin the Moose Toy. She loves the Greenies, and I am a huge fan because they clean her teeth. As for Marvin the Moose, he has become her favorite toy. She loves playing with him and even brings him up to her favorite chair to sleep with her.

Disclosure: sent me the Grain-Free Greenies Treats and Kong Cozie Marvin the Moose Toy to review. No further compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

/ / Four:
Next week is a happy mail week! Most of my subscription boxes are coming, and I am getting some fun new samples from Crowdtap

/ / Five:
Speaking of subscription boxes, I have started putting away most of my makeup, so it is hard for me to pack away the items I receive right now. Instead of trying to cram them in places they don’t belong, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway!

Giveaway items: Probelle Nail Polish in Into the Blue, L’Occitane Roses des 4 Reines hand soap, Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel Sample, Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir (3 oz.), Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm, Scandalous by Nannacoco Mascara, and Dancin’ Goat Hula Bliss Hand and Body Lotion (2 oz.).

If people are interested, I might do a few more beauty giveaways when more subscription box items arrive.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a wonderful weekend!

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Guest Post: Weird and Wonderful Restaurants Around the World

I am always looking for new places to visit, so when Holiday Lettings contacted me about a guest post featuring weird and wonderful restaurants around the world, I knew this was right up my alley.

Have you ever eaten underwater or in a gorgeous grotto? You could next time you’re away. Holiday Lettings serves up quirky restaurants from Alnwick to Zanzibar that you’ll never forget.

The Rock - Zanzibar, Tanzania
Photo credit: Rod Waddington (license) via

It may look like a fisherman’s hut that’s been washed up on a rock, but The Rock is actually a seriously good seafood restaurant. So take your pick of lobster or tiger prawn dishes and sit back; you can hear the soothing sound of the sea and watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

A boat takes you back to gorgeous Michanwi Pingwe beach, an amazing spot to watch the stars come out. Why not explore the area’s fascinating environment with a hike through the local mangrove forests? Fans of the great outdoors will also love the stand up paddling trips organised by SURF Zanzibar.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – Rangali Island, Maldives
Photo credit: Courtesy of

Descend into a wonderful underwater world at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant on Rangali Island. Diners are surrounded by glass walls offering vistas of vivid coral gardens and tropical fish. If you can tear your eyes away from the view, you can dig into delicacies from caviar to foie gras.

If you’ve been inspired by the marine life you spotted at dinner, you can delve deep into the waters on a tour with a local dive centre; Island Divers on Dhigurah to the east of Rangali is a popular option. It’s also worth hopping over to neighbouring Nalaguraidhoo to soak up some sun and sip cocktails on the tropical beaches.

The Treehouse Restaurant at the Alnwick Garden Centre – Alnwick, UK
Photo credit: Rodney M Glasgow via

Ever dreamed of eating way up in the branches? Then stride over the rickety rope bridge and creaking walkways through the canopy to The Treehouse Restaurant. Check out the trees jutting up through the floor and warm yourself by the blazing log fire before digging into the seasonal dishes.

When you’ve eaten, take a moment to take in the surrounding gardens with their massive delphiniums and toxic plants. Next stop, neighbouring Alnwick Castle, the star of a Harry Potter film. If you’re interested in history, you’ll have a great time discovering Alnwick’s past at the Bailiffgate Museum in the town centre.

Ristorante Grotta Palazzese, Polignano a Mare, Italy
Photo credit: Maty53mi via

This may just be the world’s most romantic restaurant. A spiral staircase hewn into the rock leads you down into a beautiful grotto. Watery reflections from the tables’ twinkling lights and stunning views over the Mediterranean complete this perfect dining scene.

How about working off the meal with a walk through the quaint streets of Polignano a Mare? It might leave you with enough room for a delicious ice cream at Irvi's Cafe Gelateria. Alternatively, you can get out on the water on a boat tour of dramatic caves and grottoes along the coast.

Dans le Noir – Paris, France

Photo credit: excusesexcuses via

Sensory deprivation is on the menu at Dans le Noir, where you dine in total darkness. Apparently the flavours of the food will seem more intense when you taste this way - can you identify the ingredients of the mystery dishes?

You’ll definitely want your vision back if you head to the nearby Pompidou Centre to see the excellent collection of modern paintings. You could then treat yourself to a funky piece of jewellery at Les Expressives boutique down the road. And the ancient Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles Church, an easy walk away, is a terrific place for a moment of contemplation.

Note: This is not a sponsored post, and the topic was selected by me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

California Road Trip: Exploring Old Town San Diego

Our California road trip started like most of our vacations—at the crack of dawn. We always book early flights to get the most of out of our first day…and I always start my day cranky when I have to wake up at 3 a.m. This time it worked out really well because we were in San Diego by 8:30 a.m. and had the whole day to explore!

Where we ate:

Our hotel was right in Old Town, so we dropped off our bags and headed out to find a place to eat. We stopped at Café Coyote—we could eat Mexican food for every meal and had heard good things about this place, so it was an easy choice.

I knew the meal would be delicious as soon as I tried the queso with chorizo appetizer. It was so good, I could have made a meal out of it, but I also had rolled beef tacos, which were huge. We were all completely stuffed after our entrees, but we couldn’t leave without trying Café Coyote’s famous fried ice cream. It was a little too sweet for me, but that might have had a little to do with all the food I had eaten.

For dinner, we decided to try the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, a former stagecoach hotel. The maître d’ told us the history of the place while we waited for our dinner. The interior of the hotel and restaurant was nearly identical to what you could expect to have seen when it was originally operating. We found out that at one point, the hotel had 22 rooms and one bathroom, but it now has 11 rooms to accommodate the extra bathrooms (thankfully!).

The menu features a mixture of Mexican food, American grill, and seafood. We tried the kung pao calamari, and I had the parmesan-crusted yellowtail. It was a fun experience, and the food was great.

What we did: 

Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California, so one of my favorite things to do was to wander around and look at the old buildings. I also enjoyed shopping at the many beautiful craft stands in the area.

With only two days in San Diego, we wanted to see as much as possible, so we decided to do an Old Town Trolley tour. We did so much on the tour that it deserves a post of its own. Stay tuned for more from San Diego!

Catch up on our California Road Trip:

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Weekend of Tornado Warnings (and a Giveaway!)

I was hoping to have a travel post ready for today, but the severe weather had other plans. On Sunday morning, we were woken up to the lovely sounds of tornado sirens. I grabbed the dog and husband and shoved them into the bathtub (we don’t have basements in Texas, and in a second floor apartment, you do what you can) while we looked at the radar. Before I made Chris drag the mattress off the bed and over our heads, we found out our city felt it should sound off some early morning tornado sirens to let us know there was a severe thunderstorm without a single rotation. Thankfully, nothing touched down around here, but we had severe weather all weekend. Spring in Texas sure is fun!

Speaking of fun, it was Shane’s birthday last week, and she got a bunch of bloggers together to bring you a $250 giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Confessions: Our Move to Chicago

I’m not sure where the time went (how has it been six weeks since Match Day?), but our move to Chicago is getting uncomfortably close. I thought it’s about time I confess some things to y’all, so let’s get started, shall we?

I confess:

Part of me is still in denial about this move. We’ve been talking about for so long that it’s hard to believe it’s almost time to actually move. It’s starting to feel more like reality now that we have boxes all over the place.

I am having trouble deciding what to leave here for the year and what to take with us. I just don’t want to get there and have to buy something we already own. Christopher’s solution is just to bring everything with us, but I shot that down pretty quickly.

I am so sad to leave my job. I know so many people who don’t love where they work, so I am heartbroken to leave a place I love.

I am starting to get worried about getting everything done in time to move. My last day of work is on a Friday…and we leave early in the morning that Saturday. I basically have three weekends left to get ready, not to mention celebrating medical school graduation and seeing as many friends as we can.

I am a tiny bit nervous about cooking with a gas stove. I have always had an electric stove, so I have this irrational fear that I am going to light something on fire.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Year’s Caribbean Cruise: Playa Mia Beach Club in Cozumel

After our long day in Belize, all we wanted to do was relax. We decided to go on a boat cruise that took us to a snorkel spot and then to the Playa Mia Beach Club for a few hours. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend at Playa Mia.

Playa Mia had everything we could have wanted: lunch, a snorkeling spot, free drinks, a beautiful beach with lounge chairs, kayaks, a floating park, sail boats, hammocks, and more. I split my time between lounging on a chair and swimming. My only complaint was that the ocean floor was extremely rocky, but it was fine for swimming! 

I was definitely not ready to head back to the ship, but the dance party on the way back made it more fun. Chris and I both loved Playa Mia, and next time we are in Cozumel, I would love to spend a whole day there.

Catch up on our New Year's Caribbean Cruise:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Favorites: Moving This Month

Happy Friday, friends. Can I just say I can’t believe it’s already May, and that we’re moving to Chicago this month. I may be a bit in denial about how much I need to get done between now and then. Anyways, here are my Friday favorites this week:

 / / One:
I got my car title in the mail this week! Paying off my car is the best feeling ever.

 / / Two:
I have been really on a roll with reading lately! Some of the books have been good, so I am planning a book post similar to the one I wrote this winter.

/ / Three:
I just got the Influenster Bella VoxBox in the mail, and I am so excited to try all the fun products!

/ / Four:
As I mentioned above, we are only four weeks away from moving to Chicago! We got a verbal approval on our loft, which is a huge relief.

/ / Five:
My “Pamper Yourself and Your Dog” giveaway with Chewy ends this weekend! Click here to enter.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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