The Siberian American: November 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Lake Michigan Circle Tour: South Haven Lighthouse

When we decided to do a road trip around Lake Michigan, I was really excited to see all the lighthouses along the coast. The South Haven Lighthouse was high on my list because of its cute red color and proximity to the beach.

The station, officially called the South Haven South Pierhead Light, was first lit in 1873. The lighthouse tower was originally made out of wood but was replaced with a metal tower in 1903 due to the harsh weather. It is still an operational lighthouse, and the beacon can be seen anywhere from 11 to 15 miles depending on weather conditions.

Other than the red color, one of my favorite parts of the South Haven Lighthouse was the catwalk. The catwalk is original and one of only four surviving catwalks in Michigan. It was a windy and foggy day, so we had to be careful, but it was nice to be able to get so close to the lighthouse with beautiful views of Lake Michigan on both sides.

Catch up on our Lake Michigan Circle Tour Road Trip:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Day It Snowed on Our Parade

When it rains, it pours snows, and that’s exactly what happened to us on Saturday. I was so excited for two things: our first snow and Christopher’s family coming into town for an early Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the snow decided to spoil our day.

The first thing I did when I woke up on Saturday was check my in-laws’ flight…and found out it was cancelled. By the time I called them, they had switched airports and airlines and found out that flight had been delayed. One delay followed after another until so many hours had passed that the flight crew was required to go home. Instead of going on a holiday boat tour to see the fireworks at the Mag Mile Lights Festival, they spent their day stuck at the airport while I sat in Chicago refreshing the website every 10 minutes.

This story has a happy ending: they landed at 10:30 p.m. (and then had to stick on the tarmac for 1.5 hours before they had a gate), and they made it to our place around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday.

It was a major cold bench (don’t know what I mean by that? Here’s the story.), and we could have let it ruin our weekend together. We had to consolidate our plans, but we ended up having a wonderful time.

It wouldn’t have always ended this way. There was a time where I would let little things ruin the big picture. I would have been so upset we missed a day with family that I would have had trouble enjoying the time we did have together. Having a positive perspective has completely changed my life.

I won’t pretend I don’t ever get upset or let little things ruin my day because that’s not true. I still have work to do, but days like Saturday remind me that even bad days have silver linings. We didn’t get to see family, but we did see our beautiful city covered in snow and watched Baylor beat Oklahoma State. Days won’t always go as planned, but I’m learning not to let every little thing rain snow on my parade.

Do you ever struggle with negativity?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: Snow Days and Family Time

Happy Friday, friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful week. I’ve been preparing for a busy weekend and can’t wait to share all of our Chicago fun.

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Christopher’s family (my in-laws and brother-in-law and his girlfriend) is coming into town on Saturday morning for an early Thanksgiving with us. Chris doesn’t get Thanksgiving off this year, so it will be great to see family and spend a few days with them during the holiday season.

/ / Two
Our first snow of the season is predicted for tonight, and I am so excited! I know I will be over it in a few months, but there is something about the first snow that is so exciting. The meteorologists are saying we could get anything from 2-6 inches, so I can’t wait to see this beautiful city covered in snow.

/ / Three
Today is the last day to sign up for Mattie’s and my Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange! We are going to have so much fun. All the details can be found here.

/ / Four
I am 15 books away from my new goal of reading 100 books this year! It’s crazy that in January, I was hoping I could finish 50 books, and now I might hit 100.

/ / Five
Don’t forget that the $140 Sephora Gift Card giveaway is still going on. If you haven’t entered yet, now is the time. In the free entry, don't forget to put The Siberian American as the blog you used to enter. Thank you! sephora-giveaway
Amanda OlyaJaeCherieBeccaKelly RachaelRachelLindsayMichelleEmelia
I hope y’all have a wonderful weekend! I’m going to take Monday off to spend time with family, but I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Five (Silly) Things I Miss About Texas

Now that we have almost lived in Chicago for six months, I thought I would be constantly missing Texas and wanting to come home. That hasn’t been the case. I love Chicago, and the only thing I really miss are my family and friends. Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of the little things I have missed while living in Chicago.

Normal Doors 
I don’t know what it is, but I am such an idiot when it comes to revolving doors. I am always so scared that someone will hit me if I'm going too slow. Chris pretty much pretends he doesn’t know me when I am using a revolving door.

Blue Bell Ice Cream 
Those of you who haven’t been to Texas don’t know the tasty goodness that is Blue Bell Ice Cream, but now that they are distributing it again in Texas, I miss having it in the fridge. My substitute here is Mariano’s gelato, which is totally different but still tasty.

Chicago has amazing food, and I know I will miss so many restaurants when we move back, but right now, I miss Tex-Mex. I have had some decent Mexican food here, but it’s just not the same.

Cheap (or Free!) Parking
I never thought I would say the words “$20 is cheap, let’s park there!” in my life. When we lived in Dallas, I thought paying $5 for parking was crazy, but now I’m happy when I don’t have to pay $30. Owning a car in Chicago is not worth it unless you have a husband who sometimes has to leave for the hospital at 3 a.m.

Easy Grocery Shopping 
This is totally a first world problem (then again, aren’t all of these?), but I miss being able to pull up my car right to my door and carry the groceries in. Now we often leave snacks and things that don’t need to be refrigerated in the car and get them later because it’s a hassle to go up and down the elevator and back to the parking garage. I know we could get a grocery cart, but it seemed silly since we are only here for a year.

What would you miss about your home if you moved?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

California Road Trip: Views from Hearst Castle

When we were planning our California Road Trip, Hearst Castle was on my must-see list. I have been fascinated with William Randolph Hearst since I saw Citizen Kane in high school and found out that Hearst was such a media giant that he was able to block the movie from being shown at most movie theater chains. I have always wanted to see Hearst’s extravagant home, which he had named “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), and our road trip was the perfect opportunity.

In order to get up to Hearst Castle, you must purchase one of the four tour options and are given a time to get on the bus up to the property. I loved the five-mile narrated ride up to the castle on the same route visitors took in the 1920s and 1930s to visit William Randolph Hearst. It was foggy on the way in, which would usually bother me, but in this case, it added to the beauty around us.

The views were even more stunning once we got up to Hearst Castle. I loved wandering over the the guest cottages and seeing the amazing views the guests saw when they visited. I could imagine sitting out on a beautiful day and enjoying the landscape with a good book.

Catch up on our California Road Trip: 

Monday, November 16, 2015

$140 Sephora Gift Card + Too Faced Le Grand Chateau Giveaway

Hey, friends! I moved my travel post to Tuesday, so I could tell y'all I have joined with a bunch of great ladies to giveaway $140 to Sephora and the Too Face Le Grand Chateau palette!

In the free entry, if you saw the giveaway through my blog, please enter The Siberian American. Thank you! sephora-giveaway
Amanda OlyaJaeCherieBeccaKelly RachaelRachelLindsayMichelleEmelia
Also, if you missed my announcement on Friday, Mattie at Northwest Native and I are hosting a Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange! All the details can be found here
Click here to sign up for the Christmas Exchange!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Favorites: The Best Time of the Year Is Coming + A Big Announcement!

Happy Friday, y’all! Hope everyone had a great week. With the temperature drop, it’s really feeling like the beginning of the holiday season, especially after watching the ice rink being set up at Millennium Park on Tuesday. Here are my Friday favorites this week (and don’t forget to scroll down to the very bottom for a fun announcement!):

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Lately, every time Chris has had a day off, we have gone out of town on a day trip. When he finally got another day off on Tuesday, we decided to enjoy a day walking around Chicago. We walked all the way over to Northerly Island and then spent some time enjoying the weather at Millennium Park. I think I wore poor Chris out with our seven-mile walk, but it was nice to get out and enjoy the city.

/ / Two
One of my favorite guilty pleasures on a road trip is beef jerky, so when I saw the True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts, I knew it was a treat I wanted Skyler to try. True Chews are 100 percent natural and made in the United States. The kind we received were made with real sirloin steak, and the smell was enough to get Skyler to run to me as soon as I opened the package. She loved these. They are soft enough for me to be able to break them apart for her, and I felt good about giving her a treat that contained no corn, wheat, or soy.

Disclosure: sent me True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts to review. No further compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. 

/ / Three
I love holiday swaps, so I am excited to do the 12 Days of Christmas Swap by CG Swaps again this year. I had so much fun looking for 12 gifts last year and can’t wait to do it again. Signups close on Monday, so sign up now if you want to join!

/ / Four
I wanted to share one more plaid purchase that I love this week. This tunic is so soft and comfortable, and the length and color is so perfect. For more plaid ideas, check out my mad about plaid post.
Note: The links above are affiliate links. If you click on them, I get a teeny tiny commission.

/ / Five
I am so excited to announce that Mattie from Northwest Native and I are hosting a blogger Christmas exchange! We would love for you to join us as we get to know other bloggers and spread the holiday cheer!

The Details:

Our Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange is a fun opportunity to get to know another blogger! We will also be having a linkup, so everyone can see the great gifts you picked out.

11/20: Signups close
11/23: We will e-mail you your person by this date
12/7: Deadline to ship your package
12/18: Show off your gift by linking up with us!

How much will it cost me?
We have set a minimum of $20. If you would like to spend more, we don’t mind, but please don’t expect anyone to spend more than that.

Am I sending to/receiving from the same person? 
No, this is a Secret Santa exchange. This way, you get to know two people!

Should I contact the blogger that I am her partner? 
If you need to contact your blogger, please do it through the Elfster site. We want your identity to be a surprise!

Let’s have a great time!

We would love to have as many people as possible participate, so please share our button:

<div class="Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange " style="width: 300px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href=" " rel="nofollow"> <img src=" " alt="Blogger Christmas Exchange " width="300" height="300" /> </a> </div>

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Six Books I Read This Fall

I mentioned recently that I have changed my 2015 reading goal to 100 books, so I have been reading every chance I get. Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads so far this fall.

Books to read this fall

The Weight of Feathers by Anne-Marie McLemore 
c/o NetGalley 
This book was a modern-day Romeo & Juliet with two rival traveling performer families who hate each other. It was so well written, and I loved both Lace and Cluck.

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio 
I love Sarah Jio, and Morning Glory was no exception. I didn't love it as much as some of her books, but Penny and Ada both appealed to me as strong women going through tough times. I loved the houseboat setting, and the mystery was well done.

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev 
c/o NetGalley
I was honestly surprised by how much I loved this book. The writing was beautiful, and the characters were well developed. I loved learning more about Indian-American life, especially the wedding rituals. I loved both Ria and Vikram. The intensity and tension was so evident between them that I felt it while reading. Though parts of the book were dark, the plot was unique, and I finished the book wanting to know more about the future of the characters.

The Girl Without a Name by Sandra Block 
c/o NetGalley
This book grabbed me at the first page and didn't look go. The plot was interesting-a catatonic girl arrives at the psych ward who does not know her identity, and Dr. Goodman becomes obsessed with finding out who she is. The plot twist at the end was fantastic. I can usually figure out what is going to happen before it happens, but this twist blindsided me. I loved this book and can't wait to go back and read Little Black Lies!

Wherever There Is Light by Peter Golden 
c/o NetGalley
Wherever There Is Light is a beautiful historical fiction romance about a Jew and an African-American who fall in love even though society forbids it. It takes you on a journey from the 1930s to post-war Paris as Julian and Kendall grow up to figure out who they areas individuals and whether they can be together. The writing is beautiful, the characters are well-developed, and the story kept me interested. I didn’t love the ending, but I still think the book is worth a read.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams 
c/o NetGalley
I can't say enough about how much I love Beatriz Williams. This is the third book she has written about the Schulyer sisters, though each book can stand alone. I thought Vivian was my favorite Schulyer sister until I read about Pepper. I loved her spunk and strong attitude as she faced being pregnant after an affair with a powerful politician. She finds an abandoned car, helps restore it, and sells it to Annabelle, the woman who used it to escape Germany in the 1930s. This book is told in a dual-timeline format with Annabelle's story (1930s) and Pepper's story (1960s) intertwining. Each section was so interesting that I couldn't stop reading and only didn't finish it in one night because I didn't want to be delirious for the ending. The ending was just as great as I thought it would be. Along the Infinite Sea is a beautiful story of love, loss, heartbreak, and hope. I can't wait to read what Beatriz Williams writes next!

What have you been reading lately? I love reading suggestions!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Our Fall Adventure at Starved Rock State Park

We have been on a mission to see as much fall color as we can this year, so on one of Christopher’s days off, we decided to go on a fall color tour at Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois, about two hours from Chicago. The tour included a lunch, a fall colors trolley tour, and a guided hike to Council Overhand and Ottowa Canyon.

When we do day trips, I usually look for boat or trolley tours, so we can see as much of the area as we can. The trolley tour gave us a nice overview of the park and gave us an idea of which canyons to visit when there are waterfalls in the spring. It was relaxing to sit back and enjoy the beautiful weather and fall foliage all around us.

The guided hike to Ottowa Canyon was easy (though I almost slipped on the mud a few times) but it was worth doing for the beauty. The sandstone and the size of the canyon was striking, and it was interesting to hear that the Council Overhang got its name because they think Native Americans used to meet in that area.

After our tour, we hiked over to Starved Rock and Lover’s Leap for stunning views of fall foliage and the Illinois River. The trail is mostly paved, but it does require many steps to get to the top of the overlooks. The views from the top are worth every step.

Chris and I had so much fun exploring Starved Rock State Park that we hope to have a chance to come back in the spring to see all the waterfalls.