The Siberian American: 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Confessions: Pregnancy So Far

One of the things I have really forced myself to do since I got pregnant is to slow down when I need to. I love blogging and hate when I have to miss days, but right now I have to focus more on my health, and there are days where I simply can’t write. I’m also super behind on answering comments (I’ll get to all of them, I promise!), but know I appreciate all of your congratulations and sweet words. Chris and I are so excited to share this new journey with y’all, and hopefully I will get to a place where I can write whenever I want soon!

Today I did want to share a few pregnancy confessions with y’all. You hear so many different things about pregnancy from friends and family before you’re pregnant, but there’s nothing like going through it yourself! Of course, every pregnancy is different, so these are just a few things I want to share about mine.

I confess I didn’t think “pregnancy brain” was a real thing until I got pregnant. I usually have a good memory, so it’s weird to me when I forget dates and other random things. I was so paranoid about forgetting my in-laws’ birthdays last week that I made sure to write it down in a million places.

I confess that hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time was one of the most amazing moments of my life. It’s just incredible that a Doppler can be placed on my belly, and we can hear the heartbeat of our beautiful miracle.

I confess I really miss reading. I have been so exhausted that whenever I get into bed, I just crash. I’ve read two books since my last book post, and I think I’ll be lucky if I have four books to share for the next link-up.

I confess I know no one's pregnancy is the same, but it drives me crazy when I read posts from bloggers that say morning sickness is nothing, and they can’t believe people whine about how hard it is. I am truly happy for them that they didn’t experience what I did, but that doesn’t mean that when I do share how difficult it was, I’m whining. I think it’s interesting to read everyone’s experience with pregnancy, but there is no reason to put down those who had a harder time.

I confess it’s weird for me that I am so much more emotional these days. What I just wrote in my last confession? I usually wouldn’t care. I’m also not used to crying at commercials or stories. Forget it if it’s anything about babies. It’s not nearly as bad as it was in my first trimester, but it’s still entertaining to me.

I confess it really makes me laugh when people say but you don’t look pregnant to me. If you spent a lot of time with me before I got pregnant, it’s pretty obvious (or at least obvious that I’ve gained weight). Chris and I can really tell, of course, and I know it won’t be much longer before people can tell. For now, I am enjoying being able to still wear my regular clothes!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

All About Baby

Thank you so much for all of your sweet messages of congratulations on here and Instagram. Chris and I are so incredibly excited, and I am grateful it’s out in the open now, and I can finally talk about my pregnancy. Plus, it’s nice to be able to give y’all a real explanation as to why I’ve been posting less over the last few months! Haha. Today, I wanted to share some of the details about our little one!

Our Baby Story:
I have always wanted to be a mama. If you asked me in first grade what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would tell you I wanted to be a writer and a mama. I put that dream on hold while we were relying on my income to get through medical school. Our original “plan” was to get pregnant a little before we moved home from Chicago, so the baby would be born during Christopher’s easiest year of residency. Instead, I got diagnosed with a massive endometrioma and spent months worrying about whether I would ever be able to have a baby.

Thankfully, I ended up with the best-case scenario, and after a visit to my obstetrician in October, I was told Chris and I could start trying in January. Y’all, this last holiday season was tough. I remember sitting there at Christmas Eve candlelight service, my body filled with hormones, silently crying as I watched families celebrate the holiday together. I had so hoped we would be one of those families that year. I can’t say I know what going through infertility is like (and I am truly grateful for that), but I have a special place in my heart for those struggling with it. If you are reading this and struggle with infertility, know that I am praying and hoping for you.

I started out January with a lot of hope. I even made it my word of the year. I didn’t say it at the time, but that was mostly because of our hope to have a baby. When it came time, Chris and I gave it all to God, praying Lord, if it is your will, please give us a child. We went into it with low expectations, thinking it would be a long road ahead. Because of my situation, my OB had only given us three months of trying naturally before she wanted us to come in and discuss options. Friends, it didn’t even take a full cycle. I kept seeing what I thought were signs of pregnancy, but I didn’t let myself believe it, because how is it possible I could get pregnant on our first time of ever trying? On February 17, I finally took a test, and that second line showed up within seconds. It’s hard to describe that feeling of overwhelming joy I felt. I sat down on the floor and cried and prayed for an hour. God is so good. So, so good.

I share this because it has become a big part of Christopher’s and my testimony. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

The day we found out I was pregnant. So much joy! 
PS-I’ll share later about how I told Chris and our parents. It’s been an amazing few months!

How far along are you? When are you due?
I’m 16 weeks! I’ll be 17 weeks on Friday. I’m due on October 27. October is my favorite month of the year (and Chris’s too!), so it’s really special to me that it’s when I’m due. My dad actually turns 50 on November 3, though, so he’s hoping I hold out one more week! Haha.

Are you finding out the gender? Do you have a guess?
We are! We decided not to do an elective ultrasound, so we are finding out at our 20-week ultrasound on June 9. We might do a small gender reveal with friends and family, but there is a lot going on during that time, so we haven’t decided yet. I don’t really care what we’re having as long as it’s healthy, but I currently think we are having a boy because Chris and I are 100 percent sure on a girl name and are having trouble with a boy name. Haha!

Are you showing?
I have always been pretty small, but I lost even more weight after surgery. Right before I got pregnant, I was just under 100 pounds. I only say this because I don’t really expect to be showing for a while. At my latest appointment, I was told I probably won’t be obviously pregnant until I’m about 26 weeks. I can definitely tell a difference, though!

How have you been feeling?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. My first trimester was extremely rough. I basically spent most of my time from six weeks to 15 weeks being a hermit because I was so sick. (Remember that time I launched a new Instagram hashtag all about going outside and seeking adventure (#seekadventuredaily) and then could barely walk my dog? Life is funny). I was really worried because I wasn’t keeping any food in my body, but she told me it was fine as long as I stayed hydrated. My big bummer was that I was hoping I would get some relief at my 10-week appointment, but my doctor said there have been some studies that show the possibility of negative effects from Zofran on the baby, so she didn’t want to prescribe it to me. She prescribed me another medication, but my mother-in-law (who is a pharmacist) wasn’t keen on me taking it, so I basically tried to push through.

Remember how I was super stressed about moving? The biggest reason was because I was 14 weeks pregnant and still feeling super awful. I could barely function, so when I said my in-laws were rock stars during our move, I really meant it. I wasn’t much help, so they worked super hard to help our move go smoothly.

After the nausea and vomiting calmed down, I ended up having constant migraines for days at a time (apparently a common symptom during this stage in pregnancy)…which also caused nausea and vomiting. Saturday was my last really bad day though, so I’m hoping things are getting better.

I did find out a few days ago that pregnancy has caused me to have hypothyroidism. Thankfully, it’s not too bad, and I’m on medication for it and will be seeing an endocrinologist to monitor it, so hopefully everything will be OK.

Honestly, even though it’s been rough, I’ve been so thankful for this baby that it hasn’t bothered me all that much. Last year I had a lot of difficult symptoms for a completely different reason, so it feels like such an incredible blessing to have symptoms for a good reason this year!

Five weeks pregnant in Colorado! 
Have you had any cravings?
I’ve mentioned it a few times on the blog without saying why, but I am so obsessed with eating fresh berries right now. I also have been desperately wanting peaches, but they aren’t in season yet. So far, I’ve been satisfying this craving with Simply Peach juice, but I seriously can’t wait to eat a fresh peach.

Will you be doing weekly updates?
As much as I like reading other’s bump dates, showing weekly updates of my belly and sharing about my weight is just not my style. Instead, I’m planning on stealing my friend Chelsea’s idea and sharing things I want to remember each week. Pregnancy is such a special time, and I don’t want to forget the little moments!

You post a lot about travel. Will your blog change?
Yes and no. I still have about a million travel posts to write (I need to finish our California Road Trip, Lake Michigan Circle Tour, a bunch of Chicago posts, our Smoky Mountains road trip, and our Colorado road trip, just to name a few). That said, my blog has always been about my life, so obviously, there will be pregnancy posts and posts about our little one once he/she is born. We also hope to travel with the baby a bit, but Chris has such a crazy schedule next year that I don’t think we would have traveled much even if we didn’t have a baby.

Phew! This might be the longest post I’ve ever written, so I’m going to stop here for now. Thank you so much for sharing in our joy, friends, and I am so excited to share the rest of this journey with y’all!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Best News Ever

Christopher and I are so excited to share our joy with y'all! I will be back on Wednesday with all the details. Feel free to leave questions in the comments, and I will answer them in Wednesday's post. We are beyond thankful for this blessing! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life Update: We Moved (Again)!

I must admit it kinda cracks me up that I have had this blog for almost three years, and in that time we have moved three times. As I mentioned a few months ago, I really didn’t want to move again. I liked our apartment (even though it was on the smaller side), and I especially loved our location. The plan was to stay if our rent didn’t go up by too much. I was so excited when we found out they weren’t going to raise our rent at all…until we got an offer we couldn’t refuse on a larger unit in the same complex.

That’s how we ended up moving less than a year from our move back to Texas from Chicago. I was super stressed because we couldn’t see our unit or a model in advance, so the only thing I had to go on was the floor plan. There were some things that were different that I didn’t really expect. Our wood floors are light and our kitchen cabinets are dark, which is the opposite of our old apartment. Also, both bathrooms have really ugly red countertops, which was really surprising. Obviously neither one of those things is a huge deal, though, especially when it comes to how much more space we have in this unit.

The move itself went so much better than I expected. Of course, the movers were over three hours late, but it actually worked out OK because we were able to move lots of clothes and boxes using luggage racks provided by the apartment complex. I’m so thankful for Chris’s parents, who helped us out so much. The move would have been a million times harder without them. I questioned Chris’s Match Day results quite a few times when we first got them, but I must say God has truly answered my questions over and over. I never imagined how much we would need to be home over the last year, and I am so grateful for the help and support of our families. (My parents would have been happy to help us move as well, but since this was a last-minute move, they happened to be on a three-week trip to Europe).

I’m glad I am writing this post a little removed from the actual move because I would have still sounded frantic and overwhelmed this time last week. I just hate living in a sea of boxes. Thankfully, Chris and I have been able to get so much done, so I am feeling much better. At this point, our focus is more on organizing than unpacking because we don’t have very many boxes left.

I’m hopeful we can stay in our new place for over a year, but we will have to see. On July 1, we will have three years left in this area (Chris might do fellowship here, but a lot of the fellowships he is looking at go through the Match, so we will have to see). I either want to stay or find a house rental that will let us sign a two-year contract. I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, though, and enjoy the time we do have here!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Eight Books I Read in April

Happy book day, friends! I always look forward to sharing my books every month, and I love seeing what everyone else is reading. I started out this month strong, but moving got the best of me at the end of the month, and I was just way too tired to read before bed. Still, I ended up reading eight books so no complaints there! I also ended up with quite a variety of books this month. I could never decide what I wanted to read, so it was a super random month!

To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a historical fiction romance centered around the building of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, I didn't love it. It was so slow (which is even stranger for a 300 page book), and the romance didn't even start until over 50 percent into the book. Also, I felt like the building of the Eiffel Tower was really a minor part in this story. It was a decent read, but not one I will go out of my way to recommend.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
(c/o NetGalley)
After I read and enjoyed I Found You last month, I knew I wanted to read another Lisa Jewell book. I would call this book more of a drama than a thriller. You find out the big event right away, and then the story starts from the beginning to explain what caused it. The story kept me interested, and I liked it overall. I did like I Found You better, but this was still a good read.

Sting by Sandra Brown
(c/o NetGalley)
This book is a thriller with some romance on the side, and I was surprised by how much I liked it! The plot was interesting, and I was eager to see how it ended. I thought the ending was great, too.

Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin
(c/o NetGalley)
Whenever I am in the mood for a feel-good romance, I know Holly Martin will deliver. There are always some issues with the dialogue and the writing, and the repetition drove me crazy a few times, but the story was sweet. I also love how Holly Martin's books center around a season. It was fun to read this in the spring. I was looking for a light read, and this was perfect!

Unsub by Meg Gardiner
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I basically read this book in one sitting. It really kept me on my toes with its creepiness. It's the first time in a long time I literally felt scared while reading (though I must admit some parts felt a little unrealistic). I was a little disappointed that the ending was set up for a sequel when I thought this was a stand-alone novel (and GoodReads doesn't show anything about a sequel). Still, I would definitely read a sequel if there is one!

Close Enough to Touch: A Novel by Colleen Oakley
(c/o NetGalley)
I was honestly a little worried to read Close Enough to Touch because I thought the plot sounded similar to Everything, Everything, and I loved that book and didn't think anything would compare. Thankfully, the books turned out to be really different. This book was a lot more grown up (not in a good or bad way) and made me really think about Jubilee's circumstances. The love story was also done well and didn't feel forced. I would definitely recommend this book!

The 4th Man by Lisa Gardner
(c/o NetGalley)
This book was a great little short story about a cold case, but I don't think it's a great place to start if you aren't familiar with the characters. Although it's a stand-alone short story, I don't think it gives justice to how great these characters are. I read Find Her last year and loved it, so this story was a nice read.

The Invitation by Lucy Foley
(c/o NetGalley)
I have mixed feelings about this book. It's basically a story of how people changed after WWII with the Italian coast as the backdrop. It was incredibly slow at times, but I did enjoy the unraveling of the character's stories. I was pretty disappointed in the ending.

Favorite reads in April: Sting, Unsub, and Close Enough to Touch

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Hardest Post I’ve Ever Written: One Year Later

Hey, friends. I really thought I would be back to blogging on Monday with a moving update, but this move took a lot of me. I sat down to write on Sunday and just didn’t have the energy. Plus, the constant weather changes are giving me intense migraines, so I was forced to take it easy this week. Hopefully, I will be back on Wednesday with a moving update (Monday is book day) because I do want to share how everything went, but today I had a different post I wanted to share.

About a year ago today, I wrote the hardest and most vulnerable piece I have ever published on this blog. To put it into perspective, I never even shared on my personal Facebook page about my diagnosis. I’m just a private person, though I must say this situation has really helped me open up in other parts of my life. Honestly, I had always imagined if I was ever faced with a diagnosis like this, I would completely freak out. I struggle with severe anxiety, and the situation was filled with so many unknowns.

What I didn’t expect to feel was peace. I’m not going to lie; there were hard days. Most of them involved Chicago finally having beautiful weather, and me being unable to walk to a restaurant on our block. Still, with all the worst-case scenarios thrown my way, I truly felt that everything would be OK.

I believe we go through trials like these for a reason. Last year was a hard year, but after going through it, I am filled with so much joy and hope for the future. It’s just so much easier to appreciate the little things, like being able to walk to the shops and restaurants near us. I was apprehensive about moving back to Texas, but now I know it’s the best thing that could have happened. I didn’t love being in a situation where I needed constant help, but this year I learned to let go and accept help from my wonderful family and friends when I needed it.

Of course, I don’t want to paint a completely rosy picture of those post-recovery months. I’m dealing with a chronic illness that will likely affect me for the rest of my life. A diagnosis is both a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to know the pain I felt all the years before wasn’t a result of me “being weak” or “low-pain tolerance.” In the very back of my mind, there is always a bit of a fear of developing another endometrioma, but I refuse to let that fear control my life.

I’m forever thankful for the blogging community and your support during those difficult months. I was beyond grateful to receive all your messages as I was waiting for a surgery date and your prayers and encouragements during recovery. Even when blogging gets tough (like it has been lately), I never want to quit because of how much I enjoy connecting with everyone. If you are ever struggling with something, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I know what it’s like and would love to encourage you the way so many encouraged me.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Let’s Have a Coffee Date (Vol. 6)

Hey, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I’ve enjoyed doing coffee date posts more often lately. It’s such a fun way to update y’all on life! I hope y’all like it as much as I do. Now that it’s spring, I am all about iced drinks! Give me all the iced white mochas and passion fruit tea lemonades, please.

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you I am so stressed out about moving on Saturday. Usually I know we are moving way ahead of time, so this move feels like it snuck up on me. I know it’ll all be worth it once we move, but right now it doesn’t sound super appealing.

I would tell you we got Chris’s schedule for his next year of residency (which starts in July), and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He works 18 weeks of nights, and about half the weekends in the year. I have never been more grateful to match close to family. The silver lining is he magically got both Thanksgiving and Christmas off (His big holidays to work this year are Fourth of July, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter). Chris told me it means next year will be rough for holidays, but I am choosing to enjoy what we got this year.

I would share I am having the hardest time trying to figure out where to go for our birthdays and anniversary this year. I have a feeling I will be desperate to get out of the heat, so I’m focusing on places cooler than here. It’s hot pretty much everywhere at the end of July, though, so we’ll see! Usually, I’m good at deciding on a vacation spot, but this time, I’m just feeling stuck. Maybe I’ll have better luck once the stress of moving is behind us.

I would probably say that even though we are busy with moving, Chris and I are still trying to make the most of the last few weekends he doesn’t work. He’s working 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days right now, so we usually need a date night by the time weekends come along. Last night we went out for sunset fajitas (fajitas smothered in queso and fried onions) for the first time in months, and it was the best.

Basically all I want to eat these days for snacks is berries. I just love berry season because of how fresh everything tastes. Raspberries are my favorite, but I will eat pretty much any berry.

After months of being hot and cold with reading, I have been on a roll lately. I just finished Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley, and I would definitely recommend it!

Now it's your turn! What's going on in your life?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 2017 PopSugar Must Have Box Review

It’s time for another PopSugar review! I was excited because I liked this box a lot better than the March box. The variety of items was great, and I will use (or give away) everything. Here’s what I got this month:

Note: This post contains referral links. If you decide to purchase a PopSugar box, I would love it if you used my link.
Makers Kit Crystal Sand Art Terrarium ($32):
I was surprised by how much I liked this little kit! I haven’t put it together yet since we’re moving so soon, but I can’t wait to put it together in our new place!

MORNING CULTURE Dipped Bamboo Cutting Board ($22):
I love this cutting board! The color is so pretty, and even though I have a lot of cutting boards, this one can also be used as a serving tray with a hole for dips.

The Cottage Greenhouse Carrot & Neroli Rich & Repair Body Wash ($22):
I love the design of this bottle! This is a light body wash with a really subtle smell, so I like it. Once my current bottle runs out, I will use this one.

Tonic Australia Lavender Sachets ($15):
These are so cute, and I love the print, but I just can’t handle the smell. I can’t handle strong smells, and this smell is super strong. The good news is I have several friends who would love these, so they won’t go to waste!

Cocolab Cocofloss ($8):
Floss isn’t super exciting, but I do think it’s interesting that this one is made with coconut oil. I’m sure it’s nicer than the floss I usually buy.

Nourish Holy Habanero Roasted Corn ($2):
Chris and I both don’t like spicy things, so I might pass this on to my brother-in-law.

Special Extra: Sensodyne Pro Namel Strong & Bright Enamel Toothpaste ($6):
It feels a little weird to get both toothpaste and floss in a PopSugar box, but this is a special extra, so it doesn’t add to the value of the box. Plus, I’ll definitely use it, so it’s not a big deal.

The total value of this PopSugar box is $101. It’s definitely not the highest value box they have had, but it was an interesting mix of items. I’m already excited to see what is in the May box!

If you are interested in a PopSugar subscriptionPopSugar is currently offering $5 of your first box with the code “MUSTHAVE5.”

What do you think of the April PopSugar box? What is your favorite item?

Monday, April 17, 2017

There Is Still So Much Good

Happy Monday, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. Christ is risen! I ended up taking an unintentional break from the blog last week due to not feeling well (don’t worry, everything is fine), so it feels nice to be back here again. It’s also the reason why I’ve major slacked on answering comments, so hopefully I will catch up later this week.

Today, I was going to write a coffee date post with all the random happenings in my world, but something struck me this weekend that I just had to share. I rarely write inspirational posts. I know I couldn’t do it as well as my friend Chelsea, who inspires me on a weekly basis. This time, I just can’t help but share what’s on my heart.

The church I grew up in has an Easter service that starts at 11:30 p.m. and ends somewhere between three and four in the morning (yes, you read that right). Once it ends, there is a big celebration in the fellowship hall. It has always been my favorite service of the year. For one reason or another, I haven’t been able to make it in a few years. This year, I was excited to go.

The service starts in the dark, and right before midnight we head outside to sing and walk around the church three times, proclaiming the Good News. At midnight, we head back into the church and into the light for the rest of the service. In that moment, surrounded by hundreds of people, I felt so much joy because, y’all, there is so much good in this world.

Although I am using the example of Easter, this isn’t a religious post. As a Christian, all good things come from Christ, but even if you are not, I think joy can be found in the small things. Yes, the world is a dark place, and current events are downright terrifying, but there is something to love about each and every day. I find joy in blue skies, sunsets, and the sound of water.

Sometimes the good thing in my day is an extra 15 minutes to read a chapter in my book or a fresh cup of raspberries as a snack. There are days that are so hard or stressful it’s hard to come up with a good thing on the spot, but there is always something. Let’s start off this week believing in the good in this world. I truly believe it’s the only way to live life.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me something good about today.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eight Books I Read in March 2017

Happy book day, friends! It’s crazy to me it’s already time for another book post. This month I started out wanting to read all the thrillers, but towards the end of the month I wanted nothing to do with them. My reading habits are strange sometimes. Just like last month, I ended up reading eight books, but I’m not really upset about it. It’s been a super crazy month, and a lot of days I’ve been too exhausted to read. I’m still three books ahead of schedule in my goal of 100 books this year, so it’s all good. Anyways, I’m done rambling. It’s time to share my books!

I Found You by Lisa Jewell
(c/o NetGalley)
I've said it in the past, but I believe the best thrillers are the kind you can't say much about because you are afraid you will give something away, and this is one of those books. It starts off with Alice meeting a man on the beach who doesn't know who he is or how he got there. At the same time, a woman named Lily realizes her husband is missing. The story unfolds quickly, and it's full of twists and turns. I really appreciated the ending of this book-it's interesting and for the most part, realistic. If you love thrillers, you need to pick this one up right away!

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
(c/o NetGalley)
I enjoyed this story of a pastry chef who "accidentally" finds herself as a star of a reality TV show. It was definitely predictable, but it was cute and sweet. I think it's perfect for a beach read!

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
(c/o NetGalley)
I really enjoyed this story of a news producer looking for answers about a missing girl. I liked the main characters, and the story has a nice pace to it (most of it isn't fast-paced, but I think the pace works well for this story). The only thing I didn't super love was the ending. (The way the case was resolved was fine; I didn't like some of the personal stuff between the main characters.)

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
(c/o NetGalley)
This is a beautiful story of a love that was lost but never stopped. It kept me interested to see where the story was going. I had planned on reading a little when I first picked it up, then looked down to see I was already 70 percent into the book. This story is heartbreaking and raw. It'll leave you wanting to hug the ones you love close to you.

One of Us Is Lying by Kara M. McManus
(c/o NetGalley)
Wow, this book is well done. I'm seriously impressed. It's been a long time since I wanted to keep reading something so much that I found random moments throughout my day to pick up the book. The premise is five people go into a classroom for detention, and only four come out. The person who was killed had serious dirt on the other four people in detention. Who killed him? This was fast paced and kept me on my toes. I had no idea how it would end until everything was revealed.

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan
(c/o NetGalley)
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It kept me interested and had a good story, but it was redundant at times and could have used a lot of editing. Overall, I think the story wins out, and I give it four stars.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
(c/o NetGalley)
This was a cute story, but at times I thought it was redundant and a bit boring. I think it would have been better if it was a little shorter.

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
(c/o NetGalley)
I was surprised by how much I liked this book! It's a historical fiction romance about the Victorian Era in England with a little mystery on the side. I really liked Leonora and thought she was a great character. This was a fun and easy read.

Favorite reads in March: I Found You, The Cutaway, One of Us Is Lying, and The Light We Lost. 

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Weekend Trips from Chicago

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Chicago travel post, and I still have so much to share about our year in the Windy City. Last year I shared my three favorite day trips from Chicago, so today I wanted to share my favorite weekend trips! Chris didn’t have many weekends off last year, so we saw most of these places on our week-long road trip around Lake Michigan, but they are completely possible to do in a weekend!

Grand Haven, Michigan
Time from Chicago: 172.5 miles, about three hours
What to do: Walk around the boardwalk, see the Grand Haven Lighthouse, and eat all kinds of yummy food.
More information: Grand Haven Lighthouse and Boardwalk and Grand Haven, Michigan Food Adventures 

If you followed our Lake Michigan Circle Tour, you heard me mention Grand Haven a lot. Chris and I were totally surprised by this gorgeous little town by the lake. If we had been in Chicago for more than a year, I know we would have visited multiple times. Not only is it beautiful, it had some great eats!

Traverse City, Michigan
Time from Chicago: 319 miles, about five hours
What to do: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visit the wineries at Old Mission Peninsula, Leland, pick cherries or eat cherry product, enjoy many amazing restaurants
More information: Pyramid Point Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Traverse City is slightly pushing it for a weekend trip, and I think this city deserves more than two days, but if a weekend is all you have, it’s still worth going! One of these days (soon), I will write posts on all we did in this amazing city, but for now I will say it had some of my favorite views and eats of our entire trip. The wineries were wonderful, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is stunning. It’s definitely a place I would love to visit again in the future.

Door County, Wisconsin
Time from Chicago: 244 miles, about 4.5 hours
What to do: Tour all the towns, shop, go to a fish boil, visit Cave Point County Park, eat all the cherry products

If you are looking for a relaxing weekend trip from Chicago, Door County is the perfect spot. It’s full of beautiful views and lots of great shops and restaurants. I even enjoyed the local tradition of a fish boil, even though it sounded a bit gross to me before we went!

Bonus: Galena, Illinois
Time from Chicago: 163 miles, about three hours

Galena was the trip that didn’t happen. We had plans to go in June before we moved back to Texas, but then I got sick, and it wasn’t possible. I wanted to included as part of this list because Galena is constantly voted as one of the best small towns in America, and about a million people told us to go while we lived in Chicago. We definitely hope to make it there someday!

Where do you like to go on weekend trips from your city?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Five Reasons I Love Spring in Texas

I feel like I’ve been unfair to Texas lately. I mentioned in a post about how spring is my least favorite season in Texas (and it always will be. I just really hate tornado season), and several of you mentioned all the good things Texas has to offer in the spring. Today, I wanted to share my own list of things I love about Texas in the spring.

It’s baseball season
Today is opening day for the Texas Rangers! I used to not care about baseball, but a few years ago, I really started to love it, and now I look forward to baseball season every year. I definitely don’t watch every game, but I especially love it when we make it to the ballpark!

The flowers
One of my favorite things about spring in Texas is seeing all the bluebonnets on the side of the road. We also went to the Dallas Arboretum for Dallas Blooms on Friday (post coming soon), and I just loved seeing all the gorgeous spring flowers.

The weather
Wait, didn’t I just say I hate the weather? On those days when we don’t have a tornado watch hanging over our heads, I love the mild, spring weather. It’s my favorite time of the year to go on long walks with Skyler.

The clothes
Since the weather is usually nice and mild, I love wearing fun spring dresses this time of year! It’s so nice to be able to put winter boots away for the season.

This isn’t specific to Texas, but I absolutely love that it’s finally berry season again. I know you can buy berries year round, but they just don’t taste the same when they’re not in season. Now, I want to make all the raspberry smoothies and strawberry cupcakes!

Even when it's not my favorite months of the year, I still love this state! What's your favorite part of spring where you live?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Five Things You Must Do in Marseille, France

I’m back today with another post in my five things series! With the weather warming up, I’ve been dreaming lately about the gorgeous days we spent in Marseille. Marseille was a city that completely surprised me. One of my college French professors put it on my radar, and when we did our big tour of France, I put it on our itinerary, not really knowing what to expect. Marseille completely blew me away, and I dream of going back someday! I am excited to share five things I think you must do in this gorgeous city.

Vieux Port
The old port of Marseille has been around for 26 centuries. It’s a beautiful area to walk and is lined with bars and cafes, so you can sit outside and enjoy the view!

Chateau d’If
The Chateau d’If was made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Unlike Edmond Dant├Ęs, no one ever escaped the prison, but we loved taking a boat ride to see just how isolated it was. Not only is Chateau d’If an interesting historical landmark, but the views from it are stunning!

Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde
Getting to the top of the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde is a bit of a climb, but the view you get is absolutely worth it. The basilica is the highest point of the city (at 162 meters) and offers panoramic views that took my breath away. The inside of the basilica is gorgeous, too!

Marseille church view

Les Calanques
Speaking of things that took my breath away, Marseille’s calanques weren’t even part of our itinerary when we first arrived in the city. Thankfully, I saw an advertisement for them and realized we had to change our plans to include them. Let’s just say they made my top five favorite European memories ever. The hike up to them wasn’t bad at all, and the view was simply incredible. I loved seeing them from the top, but I would love to go back and see them from the sea someday!

Take a Boat Ride
As a gorgeous city on the Mediterranean, I think it’s important to see Marseille from the water! We opted to take a longer boat ride to Chateau d’If, so we could enjoy the beauty of seeing Marseille from a boat.

Have you ever been to France? What's your favorite city?

Other Five Things Posts:

Other France Posts: