The Siberian American: June 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Huge "Phoneography" Giveaway

Hey, ladies! We're still in the process of moving into our new place, so today, I thought it would be fun to share a giveaway. I'll be back on Friday with first impressions of our new place and area!

It's time for the huge June group giveaway, and this time it's all about Phoneography! What's phoneography? Well it's photography you take with your phone! Get it? Phone + photography = phoneography. I don't know who coined the term, but it makes sense and there are even some great Instagram hashtags related to it. While I always recommend investing in a DSLR, I know what it's like to not be able to afford one, and your photography doesn't have to suffer just because you can't afford a huge investment right now. If you are a blogger, shop owner, Instagrammer, or just someone who wants to take better photos with your phone-there are things you can use to improve-and I (along with some other fabulous bloggers and creatives) joined Angie from My So-Called Chaos to bring one lucky winner a big pack of them! June Phoneography Giveaway: Win a Phone Photography Prize Pack

Enter the June Phoneography Giveaway

This month we're giving away a big prize pack of goodies* that will help with taking better pictures from your phone. Giveaway is open worldwide** and ends at 12 a.m. MDT on July 12, 2016. Entering below means you agree to all terms and conditions within the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Prize inclusions depend on availability, may not be entirely as depicted in the photo (but will be similar). **International Winners will receive a cash prize of $150 due to shipping matters.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chicago Travel: Wendella Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise

On our last weekend in Chicago, Christopher and I checked off the last item on my one year in Chicago list: a fireworks cruise on Lake Michigan. On Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Chicago sets off fireworks from Navy Pier, and I thought the best way to see them would be from the water. Our cruise was actually on a Friday to coincide with the start of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.

Our cruise started at 8:30 p.m., just as the sunset was starting to set. Dusk was always my favorite part of the day in the city. The architecture looks absolutely stunning in that light.

As soon as we got on the boat, we headed towards Lake Michigan. The Wendella Fireworks Cruise isn’t heavily narrated, but the guide did explain the history of the Chicago River and the Chicago Harbor Lock, which was interesting (it involved a lawsuit by Missouri because Chicago had reversed its river and started dumping its waste into the Mississippi River!). The whole lock process takes about 10 minutes. I loved watching the water rise to account for the difference in depths between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Once we got through the lock, we had about an hour until the start of the fireworks show, which we spent riding around and enjoying views of the Chicago skyline as the sun set.

The actual fireworks part of the cruise was spectacular. The fireworks are fired from a barge on Lake Michigan, so our boat was able to get insanely close to the action. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a fireworks display (other than setting them off on our own, of course). While watching fireworks, I have a rule: enjoy them and don’t worry about taking photos. I have spent way too many times in the past trying to get the perfect shot and missing out on the show. Christopher did get some great shots for me to share with y’all, though.

After the fireworks were over, we were able to get through the locks quickly enough that our guide decided to do a mini tour of the architecture on the Chicago River. It was such a fun ending to a great two hours.

If you love fireworks and are in Chicago during the summer, I highly recommend doing a fireworks cruise.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Favorites: First Week Home Highlights

Happy Friday, friends! I’ve had such a nice week relaxing at my parents’ house before the second part of our move. Here are some highlights from this week:

Christopher made it home late last night! Thank you for all of your prayers and positive thoughts. They barely made it ahead of all the severe weather on Wednesday, and I’m so glad they did because there were 11 tornadoes south of Chicago that night.

No matter where we travel or live, there is nothing like my mama’s home cooking. It’s been a fun week being spoiled with mama’s cooking!

It’s also been great to have a pool in the backyard. It helps both with the Texas heat and my pain! We had a pool in Chicago, but it was always busy, so it’s nice to have a pool to myself!

I’m so excited to meet up with friends now that we’re back in town. Chris and I are having lunch with my former coworkers today, which will be super fun.

I got Mom hooked on Food Network, and it’s been fun showing her some of my favorite shows. She loved cracking up at all the sabotages on Cutthroat Kitchen.

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hello from Texas

Hey, everyone. I just wanted to write a quick note that I made it to Texas! We actually managed to make the whole drive in one day in a little over 13 hours. It was a long, hard day, but at least it meant we were done, and I could recover the next day. Christopher and his parents are leaving Chicago in the moving truck today (there is severe weather in the forecast for Chicago, so we would love your prayers and positive thoughts that they can leave before it starts).

Being back at my parents’ house after not stepping foot in Texas for over a year feels weird. In some ways, it feels like I never left. (Wasn't it just yesterday that I wrote a quick hello from Chicago?) On the other hand, it feels like I’ve been gone forever. It’s also going to take a while to get used to the heat again. It’s crazy how quickly my body adjusted to the beautiful Chicago summers!

We don’t move in to our new place until Tuesday, so it will be nice to have a few days to relax (even though Christopher does have to go to orientation) before part two of our moving madness. Thank you so much for all of your support as we make the transition back from Chicago to Dallas. I can’t wait to share more about our life here!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Five Things I Will Miss About Chicago

In November, I wrote a post about five (silly) things I missed about Texas. Now that my time in Chicago is coming to a close, I thought I would share five things I’ll miss about the city.

Lake Michigan
If you’ve been following along on my year in Chicago, you’re not surprised I have Lake Michigan as the top thing I’ll miss about Chicago. When we first moved here, I was amazed at how beautiful the lake was, and since we live in close walking distance, it became my place to go when I was stressed out.

It makes me laugh that I was worried about how I was going to survive a year without Tex-Mex. It’s still obviously one of my favorite types of food, and I can’t wait to eat it once we get back to Texas, but the food in Chicago is nothing short of amazing. One of the future posts I’m most excited to write is my guide to restaurants in Chicago. I’ve tried so much delicious and unique food while we were here. On Wednesday, we tried Peruvian food for the first time at Tanta, and I wish we could go there all the time.

Walking everywhere
I won’t miss this as much now that I’m not feeling well, but I loved being able to walk everywhere in Chicago. We lived in a great area super close to the lake, museums, and fun restaurants. We were also on the same block as Target, so it was easy to grab any essentials! We are moving to one of the more walkable areas in Dallas, so hopefully we can ease back into having to drive all the time.

Our view
Like I said, I love where our building is located, and I’ve really enjoyed the view out of our balcony. The sunsets have also been truly amazing.

Exploring the Midwest
Our year in Chicago was also the first time we have spent a significant amount of time in the Midwest (except Missouri), and I really loved our day trips and the week we spent exploring Michigan and Wisconsin. I had a few more trips planned that we had to cancel because of my health, but it just means we have to come back and visit to do them!

It goes without saying I will miss all the wonderful people we met this year! The worst part of moving is having to say goodbye to great friends, but I am super excited to be close to family and old friends again! See you later, Chicago. Love you always.

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Five Summer Beauty Must Haves

Now that summer is in full swing, I’m all about low-stress beauty products, so I can get ready as quickly as possible. Today, I thought I’d share the five products I have been using constantly so far this summer.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link, I receive a teeny tiny commission.

A neutral eye palette
I love a neutral eye look all year long, but it’s a must for me in the summer. My favorite is the NUDE 'Tude® palette from theBalm. The pigment is amazing, and I love rotating between “sexy” and “sleek.” Plus, it's a great price!
I’ve been on search for a good bronzer, and I really love the Amazonian clay waterproof bronzer from Tarte! It has a nice, natural look and lasts forever.
Dry shampoo
Dry shampoo is another necessity in the summer. I use Batiste cherry dry shampoo and amika perk up dry shampoo. Both are great and cost under $10.
Bright lipstick
I got the Stowaway Crème Lipstick Trio in my December 2015 PopSugar box, and I’ve recently started using it because the colors are fun for summer. The raspberry color is my favorite, and I love that it goes on smooth and lasts a long time.

Nail polishing tool

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

I never knew I needed the Emjoi Micro-Nail in my life until I tried it out. I loved how the buffer added a gorgeous shine to my nails. It was also insanely quick—the roller spins 360 degrees at 30 times per second! My nails looked so good I could have left off the nail polish, but I was surprised when I painted my nails, how much easier it was to paint them! The Emjoi Micro-Nail is the perfect product for achieving great summer nails.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Life Update: One Year in Chicago

On our one-year anniversary in Chicago, I wrote a letter to the city, but I haven’t shared what we did in May. Here's a recap of some of our fun dates last month:

In May, the weather in Chicago finally started to show hints of spring and summer, so we tried to get out as much as we could. I really missed my mama’s cooking, so we headed to Russian Tea Time for some great Russian food. We had varenyky, pelmeni, and blini. Chris also tried (and really liked) the duck.

After the delicious dinner, we headed to the Chicago River for a relaxing walk by the water.

On Mother’s Day, Christopher and I had a blast watching a baseball game at Wrigley Field. It was fun to see such a historic ballpark and to eat some tasty food!

Because we didn’t have enough Russian food the first time, we met up friends at Shokolad in the Ukrainian Village for some amazing Russian and Ukrainian food.

Speaking of food, I had a Groupon to Geja’s Café that we were finally able to use in May. I had made five different reservations before we were able to make it to the restaurant, and we ended up having to eat dinner at 9 p.m., so we wouldn’t have to lose the Groupon. We had an amazing time, and I am planning a full blog post on it, but I thought it was a fun example of how crazy and unpredictable intern year could be.

You all know by now that Lake Michigan is my happy place, so we took advantage of a beautiful day on one of Christopher’s days off to spend time by the lake. I have a hard time getting to the lake nowadays, but it’s worth it every time we go.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Gelato World Tour was in town, so we went to Millennium Park to sample all the delicious gelato. I’m going to be real with y’all for a second. If you’ve been wondering how I still manage to walk all over the city when I’m sick, I will say that most of the time, it isn’t pretty, and I end up embarrassing both Christopher and myself. This was one of those times. There’s no reason to go into details, but I couldn’t handle the walk or the long lines when we got to the gelato tastings. Thankfully, Christopher was super sweet and waited in all the lines while I found a bench. I will say that I never regret going out in the end because no matter how hard it is, it is worth it to go out and live.

With only a week left in Chicago, I am so thankful for the memories we have made this year in this beautiful city.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites: The End of Intern Year

Happy Friday, friends! This is a glorious Friday as my love is finally finished with intern year! All I want to do is dance around our place (let’s ignore the fact that I can’t do that physically right now, shall we?)

Of course, I have to start off my favorites with how excited I am that intern year is over! As sad as I am that our time in Chicago is coming to a close, I am so glad Christopher gets a few weeks to relax (other than moving and packing) before he starts radiology.

Y’all know how much I love Chicago food, so I was excited to have something to celebrate this week. We had tapas at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, and they were so delicious! I was a huge fan of the white peach sangria, handmade beef empanadas, meatballs with sherry tomato sauce, and chocolate truffle cake.

Since I’m not feeling well, my parents are picking Skyler and me up next weekend, so I don’t have to ride in the moving truck. I’m bummed Christopher and I aren’t moving home together, but my father-in-law is helping him drive, so it will work out best.

I’m loving Old Navy shorts this season. I got these gingham blue shorts recently, and they’re so cute and comfy. (affiliate link)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo of Skyler, so today seemed like a good day to do it!

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

Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Intern Year: We Did It, Darling

A few weeks into his first year of medical school, Christopher opened up a fortune cookie that said “you will make a name for yourself in medicine.” Since that day, he has kept that fortune in his wallet as a reminder of what is to come.

I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of Christopher. Some of you have asked me how we ended up in Chicago for a year. The short version is that he is required to do an intern year in internal medicine, surgery, or pediatrics before he can begin his four-year radiology residency. Instead of spending the year complaining about having to do something not in his specialty, he worked hard to be the best doctor he could be. I’ve lost count of how many times he was asked to switch his specialty from radiology to internal medicine by people in his current program because they wanted him to stay. Not only that, but he had to take his Step 3 (a physician licensing exam) a year before most people, and he scored in the top one percent of everyone who took it. I’m not usually one to brag, but it was just so amazing to watch him work so hard all year when he could have coasted along until radiology residency.

This was both the best and worst year of my life. As much as I loved exploring Chicago, Christopher’s constant schedule changes and long hours at work combined with my health problems resulted in a lot of stress. Through it all, I was so impressed with my love. I rarely heard him complain, even when he had to go back to work on two hours of sleep, or when he had to stay six hours later than expected because of an emergency.

This year has made us stronger as a couple. I learned that residency is just a season of life, and it’s okay if he can’t make it to a Friday night get-together with friends or a close friend’s wedding. We made a point to focus on each together during the limited time we did have together.

To intern year, I say good riddance. In many ways, I won’t miss you. What I didn’t expect to feel was grateful that we went through it. Not only has Christopher grown so much as a doctor, but we have grown so much as a couple. We didn’t just survive. We thrived.

As for that fortune cookie, I believe every word. Someday, my Christopher will make a name for himself in medicine. Maybe not in the number of publications he publishes, but certainly in the compassionate way he treats his patients. And I will be right beside him cheering him on along the way.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Eight Books I Liked in May

If you have read my book posts in the past, you know by now this has been the year of NetGalley for me. I’ve majorly toned it down on the requesting, and I still somehow have 84 books on my shelf. Usually I have great luck with NetGalley, but this month I’ve read a lot of three-star books. I’m not sure if that has more to do with the books or my frame of my mind, so I will include them and have y’all decide for yourselves.

I’m super excited to do Erin and Dani’s Read My Books challenge in June. Sadly, the timing is a bit off for me since the books I do have in Chicago are currently packed up for our move (and I had to leave most of my books back in Texas), but I am excited to read some Kindle books I bought years ago and NetGalley books that have already been archived. I’m currently reading The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, which has been on my list forever.

Anyways, enough commentary and on to my reviews:

Check out these great summer reads

Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern
(c/o NetGalley)
Clouds in My Coffee is the third book in the series, but it worked well as a stand alone novel. This might be a strange thing to say about a murder mystery novel, but I thought this book was fun! I really liked Ellison, her quirky family and the 1970s Kansas City setting. In this book, Ellison realizes after several near misses that someone is trying to kill her. On top of that, she must deal with two unwelcome house guests: Aunt Sis and her sister Marjorie. I liked this quick read so much, I'm going to go back and read the first two novels soon!

In the Light of What We See by Sarah Painter
(c/o NetGalley)
This book tells the story of two women set 80 years apart in Royal Sussex Hospital. In 1938, Grace Kemp becomes a nurse after being shamed by her family. In present day, Mina Morgan is brought into the hospital after a near-fatal accident and deals with severe memory loss as she tries to put her life back together. Told in alternating chapters, this story was engrossing, and I really liked both women and how their stories intertwined. I'm usually not a huge fan of the supernatural, but it was done really well in this novel. In the Light of What We See was one of my favorite reads so far this year.

That Darkness by Lisa Black
(c/o NetGalley)
This book is the beginning of a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic investigator, and Jack Renner, a homicide detective...and a vigilante killer. The plot was interesting, but I didn't love Maggie's character (especially towards the end). Jack is a fascinating character, though, as he truly feels what he's doing is the right thing to do. I don't usually read detective series, but I am curious enough about this one that I will probably read the next book.

The House of Dreams by Kate Lord Brown
(c/o NetGalley)
I read a lot of WWII literature, so I was sad to find out I had never heard of America's Schindler, Vivian Fry, who helped over 2,000 artists (and other people) escape France to the United States during the war. Although he is not the main character in this story, it was interesting to learn about him and his mission. The main plot of this book was about an investigative journalist named Sophie who is determined to find out the full extent of her great-aunt Vita's connection to the famous artist Gabriel Lambert. Gabriel's story was beautiful, interesting, and heartbreaking. After I finished this book, all I wanted to do was read it again and recommend it to everyone I know who loves WWII historical fiction.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love
(I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.)
This book was different than the description, but I still liked it. I think the romance part was weak, but it was interesting to learn about how England treated Italian immigrants before and during World War II. The character development could have been stronger, and the ending fell a little flat for me. Overall, I do not feel like I wasted my time reading it, but I think there are better World War II books out there.

Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky
(c/o NetGalley)
Ellie finds out on her wedding day that her new husband Rob is a killer. Can she love him anyway...and help him escape his past? With a description like that, I was hoping for more from this book than I got. It was a decent thriller, but it took a while to get into because it alternated between the "now" and "then" chapters so quickly. It oddly felt more like a light read than a thriller at times. I also wasn't super impressed with the twists at the end. I still think it is worth a read if you don't go into it with high expectations.

Saving Abby by Steena Holmes
(c/o NetGalley)
Claire and Josh have been hoping for a child for six years, but when Claire finally becomes pregnant, she receives a devastating diagnosis that forces her to choose between her life and that of her child. I'm conflicted about this book. I thought the conflict of Claire having to choose her life or her child's life would be a bigger part of the book than it was. I also expected this book to be a tearjerker, but the emotions fell flat for me, probably because of some of Claire's actions. That said, I read the book in a day, and it kept me interested. I was just hoping for a bit more than I got.

Exposure to a Billionare by Ann Menke
courtesy of the author
I don’t usually post about books I didn’t like at all, but I am making an exception for this one since it was a Literary Ladies book club read. There's no way to sugar coat it: this book is just not written well. It's extremely repetitive, full of awkward phrases, and lacked a real plot. I got so tired of hearing how Stuart was like family and the two pilots were like brothers to her.

The French really bothered me. If you don't speak French, please don't put a phrase into Google Translate and put it into your book! Plus, there is no way you would address someone you love with the "vous" tense all the time! Plus, there was no consistency, even with someone as simple as nicknames. Jean Michael randomly became Mitch and then JM, and the author would use all these nicknames interchangeably. Then, Anna randomly became Annabelle for a bit. It was really odd. 

There was no real character development. All I can tell you is Anna was thankful for her job, Stuart Manning was apparently perfect, Vanessa was beautiful and kind, and Jean Michael was charming. 

The only positive thing I can say is I did enjoy the descriptions of Anna's travels. That's the only thing that moved the book from one star to two stars for me.

Favorite reads in May: The House of Dreams, In the Light of What We See, and Clouds in My Coffee.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?