The Siberian American: 2017

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:


Monday, March 27, 2017

Let’s Have a Coffee Date (Vol. 5)

Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a crazy few days around here, so I thought I would start this week with a coffee date.

If we were having coffee, I would mostly likely have a passion fruit tea lemonade. I’ve started making them at home lately, and they're pretty much all I want. Passion fruit tea lemonade is one of my favorite summer drinks, and it definitely feels like summer around here, so I’m craving it.

Speaking of the weather, I think Texas forgot about spring. It’s in the 80s most days, which is just crazy. The only way I know it’s spring is how much more rain we’ve gotten lately.

I mentioned in my last coffee date I was super stressed about the possibility of a rent increase and having to move. We weren’t supposed to find out about it until the end of April, but we received an e-mail from our complex this weekend offering us another year at our current rate! It was a huge relief, but after talking it over, we decided to move to another apartment in the same complex. It’s 300 more square feet than our current place without a significant rent increase, so it made sense. The crazy part is we went from maybe moving at the end of June to moving at the end of April (!!), so I’m pretty stressed about getting everything done. There is a lot going on right now, and with Chris being on several hard rotations in a row, it’s a little overwhelming. Part of me really wants to stay in our current apartment and avoid all the hassle, but I know once it’s over, we will be much happier with our new place.

If we were having coffee, I would probably be random and ask you if you’ve tried cotton candy grapes. It’s crazy how much they taste like cotton candy. Chris and I really love them.

I would also tell you I’ve read one of the best books I’ve read in a while called One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. I’ll share more about it in my next book review, but I wanted those who have NetGalley to know because I think it’s still available!

Now that we’ve been to the mountains on our last two vacations, all I want to do is go to the beach! If we were having coffee, I would ask you where your favorite beach vacation has been because I need ideas! Since Chris can’t take any more time off until July, we are hoping to go on about a five-day trip for our Super Week celebrations this year (our birthdays and anniversary) at the end of July. I can’t decide if it will just be too miserably hot at the beach during that time. It can’t be as bad as Texas, right? Should we go to the West Coast beaches instead? I’d basically be happy anywhere with water, and my mind is all over the place! Haha.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Where to Eat in Breckenridge, Colorado

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is try new places to eat. I was really impressed by the food we had in Breckenridge, so I decided it deserves its own post! If you ever decide to visit Breckenridge (and here is why I think you should even if you don’t ski!), I hope you enjoy these places.

We mostly ate breakfast at the condo, but on our first day in Breckenridge, we decided to try out a breakfast place.

The Blue Moose
We loved The Blue Moose. I got the Ham Scram, which was a ham and cheese scramble. It was absolutely delicious. Chris got the Alaska Pipe Line omelet, which was seriously incredible. Who knew an omelet with snow crab, avocado, tomatoes, and cream cheese would be so amazing?

Like breakfast, the convenience of living in a condo right off a ski slope is you can have lunch there in between runs. We did have a delicious lunch on the day everyone didn’t ski, though!

Blue River Bistro
I really loved the gorgeous modern interior of Blue River Bistro, but the food was even better. I had a spicy tomato chicken pasta they had on special, and Chris enjoyed his chicken walnut sandwich.

Dinner was our big meal of each day, and we had fun deciding where to eat. Every single dinner we had was super good!

Salt Creek Steakhouse
Salt Creek has a great variety of items on its menu. We had a calamari appetizer, which was good, though we didn’t like the sauce. Chris got barbecue (a brisket and pulled pork plate), and I had a tasty bourbon-glazed salmon.

Kenosha Steakhouse
Kenosha also has a huge variety on its menu. We split a pretzel appetizer that was so good. I was in the mood for a burger, so I got the Kenosha Style burger, and Chris got some delicious nachos from the appetizer menu.

South Ridge Street Seafood Grill
Yes, we had seafood while in Breckenridge, and it was delicious! I had the seared sea scallops, and Chris loved the butternut squash ravioli. I also had a taste of my father-in-law’s shrimp and cheese grits, which was super delicious!

Bonus: We also had dinner one night in Vail, where we at at Bully Ranch Bar and Restaurant. It’s worth trying if you’re in the area.


Crepes a la Cart 
If you pick one place to visit from my recommendations, I would highly recommend Crepes a la Cart. I had the berry swirl crepe for dessert one night, and it included white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, blueberries, and raspberries. They also have savory crepes if you are looking for a snack. The crepes can get expensive, but they are huge and worth every penny.

Other Colorado Posts:

 Have you ever been to Breckenridge? What’s your favorite type of restaurant?

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 2017 PopSugar Must Have Box Review

Happy Monday, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Today, I thought I would stop by to share the contents of my March PopSugar box. Honestly, this is one of my least favorite boxes I have received since I starting getting PopSugar. Still, the items I did like cost more than the value of the box, so I’m fine with it. I’m just hoping I’m a little more in love with the April box!

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

Stephanie Johnson Camera Crossbody Bag ($45): This is the first item I think is pretty “meh.” I’m picky about my bags, and I don’t really want a clear one where people can see what’s inside. I also just don’t like the red color. I’ll just give this away to a friend who will appreciate it.

Thrive Causemetics Brilliant Eye Brightener in Stella ($24): 
I love this eye brightener. It’s definitely my favorite product in the box. It’s a great formula, and the color provides a beautiful, subtle shimmer.

Kate Spade New York Photo Album ($20): 
This is an adorable photo album, but the likelihood of me using it is somewhere close to 0. Chris and I have been talking about how much we need to print off some photos for years, but have we done it? Nope.

SunnyLife Eco Lunch Box in Watermelon ($18): 
I think this lunch box is adorable, but I just won’t use it. I think I’ll save it in case we ever have a little girl (or to pass on to a friend who has one!).

Smashmallows in Cinnamon Churro ($4): 
I always give my food to Chris, so that he can have a treat too! He hasn’t tried these yet, but he is super excited about them.

Special Extra: $25 Velvet Eyewear Card:
I’m not going to include this in the value of the box since the cheapest sunglasses are $45, and most of them are almost $200.

I came up with a total of $111 for this box. It’s definitely not the most high-value box PopSugar has had, and the items weren’t my favorite, but the eye brightener and marshmallows made it worth it for me!

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 March PopSugar box? What is your favorite item?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Five Reasons You Should Visit Breckenridge, Colorado

We recently visited Breckenridge, Colorado, and I fell in love with this adorable ski town in the Rocky Mountains. The best part, though, is Breckenridge isn’t only a ski town. Today, I wanted to share a list of five reasons I think everyone should visit Breckenridge.

Amazing Views
What’s better than a town surrounded by gorgeous mountains? I’m still dreaming of the incredible view from our condo. We were so close the the mountains you could actually ski up to our condo!

Good Food
I never thought I would come back from Breckenridge raving about the food, but I am! We had so much good food on this trip that I’m going to write a whole post about it. Look out for that in the next week or two.

Fun Events
Breckenridge does a great job of hosting small-town events. We happened to be there during the Mardi Gras parade and had a blast, even in the freezing temperatures!

The town is full of fun shopping, whether you are looking for cold weather gear or just cute boutique items. I got a cute winter hat to match my coat!

It’s Adorable!
The whole town is full of cute, colorful building that just made me happy. I loved walking around at dusk with all the sparkling lights they turn on at night. The snow falling slowly around us just made Breckenridge a true winter wonderland.

Other Colorado Posts:

Have you visited Breckenridge? Are you interested in going?