The Siberian American: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Favorites: Fall, Books, and Baking

Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe that October is basically over. I’m planning on staying in denial that winter is coming for as long as I can because the weather in Chicago has been perfect this month. Fall, can you stay forever?

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Speaking of fall, I have been in love with the colors we have seen while exploring the Midwest this year. Our boat cruise on Lake Geneva had stunning fall foliage, and our trip to Starved Rock State Park on Monday (which I will post about soon) was beautiful. I really miss fall while living in Texas (we even went on a fall foliage cruise last year to see color), so our day trips this month have been nice.

starved rock fall colors

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I have read more this year than I have in a long time. My goal for this year was 50 books, but so far I have read 80 and am hoping to read 100 by the time the year is over. I can’t wait to share my fall reads with y’all soon.

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I have been all about cookbooks lately, so I was really excited to get Food52 Baking. It features 60 recipes that are quick and easy to make for those days you feel like baking after work. I love the brown sugar shortbread, honey pecan cake, and chocolate dump-it cake. All of the recipes I have tried so far have been easy to follow and mostly made with ingredients I already had on hand. Most of the recipes are sweet, but the last section of the cookbook has some great savory options, such as flatbreads and cheese cookies.

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

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I love this basic modern boatneck tee from Gap. It’s so soft and comfortable. I love wearing them at home or out with a statement necklace. Right now several colors are less than $10 with the discount. I also own several of the striped version.

Note: The links above are affiliate links. If you click on them, I get a tiny commission.

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The CaseApp giveaway ends tonight! Click here for more information about the company and the case I made.

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Recipe: Quick and Easy One-Pot Chicken Chili

Once it gets cold out, I crave chili. This quick chicken chili recipe is one we love to make when we don’t have a lot of time to cook. I usually ask Chris to pick up rotisserie chicken on his way home from work, and the whole recipe takes about 30 minutes and can serve up to four people.

What you need:
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 4-pound rotisserie chicken, chopped
4 ounces of diced mild green chiles, drained
¾ quart of chicken broth
2 cans of white beans, drained
1 can of corn, drained

1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a six-quart pot.
2. Add the onion to the pot and stir until tender (about four to five minutes)
3. Mix in the cumin, garlic, and oregano and cook for one minute.
4. Stir in the chicken and chilies. Stir. Then, add the chicken broth and one can of beans.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer. Stir periodically for 20 minutes.
6. While the meal is simmering, puree the second can of beans. Stir in the beans. Then, add the corn to the chili.
7. Simmer for an additional five minutes.
8. We love to add cheese and sour cream (to taste) when it’s in our individual bowls and mix it into the chili.

On the first day of making this meal, we eat it as chili, but on day two, we either add chips or use it for tacos.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Colors on the Lake Geneva Cruise Line Full Lake Tour

Since we don’t get a lot of fall color in Texas, Chris and I have been trying to enjoy it as much as we can during our year in the Midwest. When Chris got his first day off in nearly two weeks, I planned a day trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for beautiful fall foliage views and gorgeous mansions.

Geneva Lake Fall Foliage

Lake Geneva is sometimes called “The Newport of the West” due to the many mansions situated along the shores of Geneva Lake. (Note: The town is called Lake Geneva while the lake is called Geneva Lake). Some of the famous families who currently have or used to have estates around the lake are the Wrigley Family (known for chewing gum), Wacker Family, Schwinn Family (known for bicycles), and the Wacker Family (a prominent Chicago family—Charles H. Wacker championed the Burnham Plan for Chicago and was the director of the 1893 Columbian Exposition).

Lake Geneva Mansions
Geneva Lake Fall
Fall Foliage Geneva Lake
Wisconsin Fall Colors
Geneva Lake
Beautiful Fall Foliage

We opted to take the Full Lake Tour of Geneva Lake from the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, which was a two-hour cruise aboard the Walworth II, a boat that is still used as a mailboat during the summer. I loved our time cruising along the lake, hearing stories of the families who have built estates there and seeing the vibrant fall colors.

Walworth Mailboat
fall foliage scenes
beautiful fall colors wisconsin
Lake Geneva Fall
fall in wisconsin
fall color
geneva lake fall
geneva lake bout tour
fall foliage

It was the perfect fall adventure. The fall color was some of the most stunning I have ever seen, especially along the lakeshore. I enjoyed seeing all of the massive estates while Chris loved googling more information about the families. If we lived in the area, Lake Geneva is a place I would visit every year.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Favorites: Travel-Inspired Items I Love (+Giveaway)

If you’ve been on this blog for two seconds, you know I love to travel, so today I wanted to share some of my favorite travel-inspired items.

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I love Rifle Paper Co.’s world travel calendars. The one for 2016 looks like it has some adorable illustrations.

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Right now, Chris and I keep all of our ticket stubs and travel brochures in a memory box. I have been looking for a fun way to display them, and this memory box fits the bill.

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I adore this burlap sign. It’s a great size and the perfect message for this time in my life.

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Our bedroom is blue, and I have been slowly incorporating a travel theme into it. I think this blue print would work well.

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When CaseApp contacted me to make a case for my phone, I knew I wanted to incorporate a travel theme. I love being on and around water, so I used a photo I took on our Lake Michigan Sunset Dinner Cruise. I was surprised by how easy the process to make the skin was. All I had to do was upload the photo, decide on the text, and I was finished! I love the way it turned out. Now I can take a little bit of Lake Michigan with me wherever I go.

The best part is that CaseApp has offered to give away $40 to their shop to one of you! With $40, you can buy anything you want in the store, from phone cases to laptop skins. If you prefer a stronger case, they have that option as well. If you don’t feel like coming up with your own design, they also have lots of lovely premade designs.

CaseApp is also offering a 20 percent discount to readers with the code SIBERIAN20. It is valid for one week from today, so start designing!

I received a free CaseApp to review, but all opinions are my own. 

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 2015 PopSugar Must Have Box

I have decided that going forward I won’t share all of my PopSugar boxes, but this was the most random PopSugar box I have ever received, so I thought it would be fun to share the contents.

Note: This post contains referral links. If you decide to purchase a PopSugar box, I would love it if you used my link.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them, I get a tiny commission.

Honest Sea Salt + Sugar Body Scrub ($17): I love the Honest Company, and this body scrub smells great and moisturizes well.

Richer Poorer Hope Slipper Socks ($15): I love slipper socks, and not only are these pink, purchasing them supports Right Action for Women.

Savvy Sleepers 100% Satin Pillow Case (Standard Size) ($36): This goes down as one of the strangest items I have received from a PopSugar box, but a new pillowcase never hurts. According to the package, satin pillowcases can prevent hair damage and nightly face wrinkles. They feel really soft and even have a secret pocket for jewelry or love notes (lol).

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling ($25 retail, $15 on Amazon): I didn’t read Mindy Kaling’s last book (I’m not big on memoirs), but I love that this book is about her journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life. I think that’s something most people can relate to, and I will probably read it the next time there is a memoir category in a reading challenge.

Easy, Tiger Brown Paper Liquor Bag Set ($8): I love the idea of using these cute wine bags for housewarming gifts.

Belgian Boys Stroopwafels ($1.50): Chris and I always open my PopSugar boxes together because I give him the food items. He was so excited about the stroopwafels. We loved stroopwafels when we studied abroad in The Netherlands (and even brought back as many as our suitcases could hold), so we love that we can get them in the United States now.

Special Extras:

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product ($9): This was just a sample, but I loved it. I’ve tried many leave-in products, but I don’t think my hair has ever felt this soft.

Danielle Stevens Jewelry Monogram Gift Card ($40): I never use these gift cards because usually the products are so much higher than the gift card. That was the case with this one, and I didn’t really see anything I wanted.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Three Favorite Caribbean Cruise Ports

As many of y'all know, I am obsessed with cruising, so today I thought it would be fun to share my three favorite Caribbean ports we have visited so far.
Grand Turk 
Grand Turk was the port that made me fall in love with the Caribbean. The water at Grand Turk was absolutely beautiful, and we had an amazing time exploring the island and enjoying the beach. Even my husband, who normally hates the beach, loved the beach at Grand Turk. Since we visited, all we can talk about is going back.

Saint Lucia
For me, Saint Lucia had it all. I loved visiting the lush rainforest and botanical gardens, seeing the Pitons, and taking a boat ride to a beautiful snorkeling spot. I left the island feeling like there was so much more to explore.
Roatan, Honduras
I visited Roatan on our New Year’s Caribbean cruise, and we loved our shore excursion so much we would do it again! Maya Key was the perfect way to spend our day. Other than the nice beach area, they had a pier perfect for snorkeling, an animal sanctuary where they led tours on how they rehabilitated the animals, a sea lion habitat, and a replica of Mayan ruins with a museum. There was so much to do that I wish we had more than one day to experience it!

Have you been on a Caribbean cruise? What were your favorite ports?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Favorites: A Full Heart

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a busy but wonderful week for us here in Chicago. Chris started a new service on Wednesday, and we are hopeful it’s a little easier than the last one he did (where he would often get home at 10:30 p.m. and have to leave home by 4 a.m.). Chicago is supposed to get its first freeze this weekend, so after several beautiful weeks, I am bracing myself for winter.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them, I get a tiny commission. 

Favorite memories. 
My heart is full after a week filled with friends and family. I loved having my best friend here for a long weekend and showing her around the city. I think she left loving Chicago as much as I do. Then, my in-laws visited us for a day because my father-in-law had a business meeting here. We introduced them to Eleven City Diner, and (of course) they thought it was delicious. I can’t wait for them to come visit us for a few days in November.

Favorite sweater. 
When Ally was in town, we had to go shopping, and I fell in love with this sweater from Loft. The details on the sleeves are so pretty. I can’t decide whether to get the soft berry or the autumn navy.
Favorite delivery. 
Skyler goes crazy every time we get a package from our friends at Chewy. This month, I wanted her to enjoy fall with us, so we got Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats. I loved that they are made in the shape of tiny teddy bears, and she loved that they were tasty. I have mentioned before that Sky often hides her treats for later if they are not her favorites, but she gobbled these up right away. I will definitely be buying these for her in the future.

Disclosure: sent me Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats to review. No further compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. 

Favorite recipe.
Lately, I have been up for having chili almost every day, so I was excited to get The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh. The cookbook features 60 amazing chili recipes that take you on a trip all over the United States. It has a great variety of options, from vegetarian chili to Tyler Florence’s short rib chili. I love that he features several slow cooker recipes and gives descriptions of different regions interpretations of chili. As someone who loves chili and learning about Chicago’s World Fair of 1893 (thanks to The Devil in the White City), I loved learning that chili con carne became popular at the world fair. Every time I cook chili now, I reach for this book. I’m excited to try as many as I can.

I received a copy of "The Chili Cookbook" from Blogging for Books for review, but all opinions are my own.

Favorite gift. 
My sweet bestie bought me this gorgeous navy statement necklace from Francesca’s for a late birthday present. I can’t wait to style it with my favorite sweaters.

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall Fun: Our First Time Apple Picking

I have always wanted to go apple picking, so I knew it was something I wanted to do during our year in Chicago. My best friend was visiting from Texas, and Chris had Sunday off, so I thought it would be fun for us to head out of town and pick apples together.

We visited Honey Hill Orchard, located about 60 miles from Chicago in Waterman, Illinois. It’s a cute family-owned orchard with over 2,100 apple trees, a pumpkin patch, raspberries, and plenty of fun activities for families (such as a straw maze and petting zoo).

While we were at the orchard, the two apple varieties they had available to pick were golden delicious and red delicious. Since we were there mostly for the experience, we picked half a peck, which gave us plenty of apples to eat and make pie.

To get the full apple picking experience, we took the wagon to the apple orchards. We had a blast enjoying the beautiful weather and picking some delicious apples.

Of course, we had to cap off our day with apple cider doughnuts and fresh cider, which were both amazing. I can definitely see why people in the Midwest and East Coast love apple picking and wish we could do it every year.

Have you ever been apple picking? What was your favorite part?