The Siberian American: January 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lake Michigan Circle Tour: Pyramid Point Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

After spending the morning hiking to Big Sable Point Lighthouse and enjoying the views at Arcadia Inspiration Point, Chris and I were excited to get to Traverse City and spend the afternoon at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We knew we wanted to hike a trail, but we didn’t want to pick something too intense since we had Skyler with us, and she had already been on a long hike with us that day.

The Pyramid Point Trail is listed at a 2.7-mile hike roundtrip, though my FitBit showed it as a little over three miles. The hike is through a maple-beech forest and ends at a gorgeous bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. We really enjoyed the walk, and the view was even better.

We decided to do only one hike since we also wanted to do Glen Haven and the Pierce Stocking Drive, but I would love to spend more time near Traverse City and go back to Sleeping Bear Dunes!

Catch Up on Our Lake Michigan Circle Tour Road Trip:
Have you ever been to Michigan?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Seven Foods That Will Change Your Life

Quick note: Today is the last day to sign up for our Galentine's Blogger Gift Exchange! Click here for more details.

This is a sponsored post written by the company, but I wouldn't share it if I didn't believe everything it says. One of my goals is to eat healthier in 2017, and this post is a great way for me to get started in the right direction.

You don’t have to win the lottery or do something drastic to change your life, making some tweaks in your diet is a great start, particularly if you eat way too much unhealthy food. These diet choices don’t provide much-needed nutrients for the healthy functioning of your body and it is needless to mention they affect your waistline at the same time. Introducing different foods to your diet will help you stay healthy, manage weight, and gain a different perspective regarding other aspects of your life. It all starts with a diet which is why this post features seven foods that you should eat to change your life.

Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds offer a wide array of health benefits due to the fact they are an incredible source of zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and so on. For example, magnesium participates in multiple processes in your body and improves heart health. This way, these tiny seeds can, actually, prevent heart attack, cardiac arrest, and stroke. High level of zinc is essential for strong immunity that keeps you healthy and fends off viruses and infections. Here’s yet another reason to eat more pumpkin seeds, they promote restful sleep. They are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid converted into the serotonin in your body. Then, serotonin is converted to melatonin, the sleep hormone. Getting enough sleep is essential for productivity, energy levels, stress management, beauty, and so on.

Quinoa is widely popular among vegetarians and vegans, but even if you don’t adhere to these eating patterns you should still introduce it to your diet. The reason is simple, quinoa is incredibly healthy thanks to high fiber content, B vitamins, potassium, Vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s ideal for people who are gluten intolerant. Some health benefits associated with quinoa intake include blood sugar control, improvement in metabolic health, aids weight loss, and so on. Nowadays, you can have quinoa when you’re eating out, all you have to do is to find a restaurant that suits your needs and preferences.

While most people use cherries as ingredients in desserts such as Cherry Cobbler with Cheese Cream Crust, they’re more than that. These are extremely beneficial for your health due to high nutritional content including an abundance of vitamins and antioxidants. Cherries have a low glycemic index thus posing as a perfect snack for diabetics. Moreover, they are a great source of melatonin, which helps you sleep better and it is needless to mention that cherries are well-known for their ability to help you lose weight. Other benefits you can expect with regular consumption of cherries are a lower risk of stroke, beautiful and nourished skin, alleviating muscle pain, and so on.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that most people have never heard of. Just like yogurt is made from live culture, kefir comprises of bacteria that your organism needs to properly digest foods and absorb nutrients. In fact, kefir is a more powerful probiotic than yogurt which is why you should definitely give it a try. Certain probiotics in kefir have antibacterial properties and offer protection from infections. Thanks to the high level of calcium, kefir protects bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. If you’re lactose intolerant, you’ll be happy to know that kefir is perfectly safe for you.

Green tea
Even if you’re not a “tea person” you still shouldn’t avoid green tea, the healthiest beverage on the planet. It is abundant in antioxidants and nutrients that keep you healthy and happy. Active ingredients in this beverage improve brain function and enhance your cognitive abilities. Also, this tea is well-known for the tremendous potential to burn fat and help you lose weight. Just take a look at some weight loss products on the market and you’ll see they contain green tea. Thanks to high antioxidant content, the beverage lowers your risk of different kinds of cancer such as breast, prostate cancer. If you want to maintain your beautiful smile, green tea steps up again as it kills bacteria and improves dental health.

Sweet potatoes
It’s not uncommon for people to assume that all healthy foods are expensive and difficult to find. But, that’s far from the truth! Let’s take sweet potatoes as an example, they are high in Vitamin B6 which reduces homocysteine chemical in our body (known for inducing heart attacks and degenerative diseases). Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and so on. Plus, they’re abundant in potassium which regulates your blood pressure. Although sweet-tasting, they don’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate
Although everybody is a chocoholic to some degree, most people stay away from dark chocolate because it’s “not sweet enough.” What it lacks in sweetness, dark chocolate makes up with incredible health benefits it provides. In fact, its benefits go so far that scientists refer to it as a superfood. Dark chocolate is nutritious and supplies the body with fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus. Regular intake of dark chocolate protects brain health and improves cognitive abilities, lowers blood pressure and regulates blood flow, manages cholesterol levels, protects skin against the sun, and much more.

Making some tweaks in your diet can, indeed, change your life because you feel healthier, happier, and you become more mindful. As a result, you instinctively make healthier lifestyle choices that improve the overall quality of life. This post just gave seven pointers that you can use to start making that change.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Travel Plans

I have had a lot of questions about our travel plans for this year, and to be honest, I have been hesitant to write a post about it because everything is still up in the air. The medical new year starts in July, so Chris can’t ask for time off to be approved until after that. Today, I thought I would share the three trips we do have in the works.

Denver and Breckenridge
My in-laws gifted us a trip to Denver and Breckenridge in February, and I am so excited to go. Chris has wanted to go skiing since we got married, and I don’t like skiing, so I am glad he is able to go with them. I am planning on exploring the cute town!

We have a trip booked to Yellowstone in September contingent on Chris getting the time off. We had originally had it planned for May but got denied (it turned out fine since my brother-in-law is now getting married during the time we would have been gone). My mother-in-law has wanted me to see Yellowstone since Chris and I got married, so I am really hoping this is the year we get to go! I’m actually excited the trip got moved to September because it won’t be as crowded.

San Antonio
We had originally planned to go to San Antonio over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend because Chris magically got it off. That changed when my best friend’s mom passed away. We are still hoping to make the trip this year if Chris manages to have three days off in a row again. Since we are driving, I prefer to have three days, so we aren’t spending most of our weekend driving. Chris and I haven’t been to San Antonio since early in our marriage, so I am eager to visit again.

I am also the matron of honor in a wedding in November (of my best friend whose mom just passed away), so I will be planning a Bachelorette party once I know where they will be in the summer (her fiancĂ© is in the military). I’m also hoping to add one more trip with Chris once we get a better idea of what his schedule is going to be like.

I would love to hear your travel plans for 2017 in the comments! Know anything about where we’re headed? I love getting recommendations!

Monday, January 23, 2017

California Road Trip: Five Things You Must Do in San Diego

Lately, I’ve had a new series of posts I want to do on my mind. I know many of us don’t get to spend as much time traveling as we’d like, so I want to share five things I think you must do in my favorite cities, starting with San Diego. San Diego was such a nice surprise on our California road trip. I had been to California many times, but it was my first in San Diego. Now all Chris and I talk about is how much we would love to go back! I’m so excited to share five things I think you must do in San Diego with y’all today. It was hard to narrow it down to just five things because I think San Diego has so much to offer!

What to do in San Diego

Old Town San Diego
We loved visiting Old Town San Diego with its historic buildings and amazing restaurants. To really get a feel for Old Town San Diego and the rest of the city, I recommend taking the Old Town Trolley Tour. It was such a great way to get an overview of the city in a short amount of time.

Related Posts: Exploring Old Town San Diego and Old Town Trolley Tour

La Jolla Cove
A trip to San Diego isn’t complete without a visit to La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions and the gorgeous views!

Related Post: La Jolla Cove

We didn’t have much time to explore Coronado, but it’s high on the list for a return trip. The area is full of cute shops and the beautiful Coronado Beach.

Related Post: Old Town Trolley Tour

Balboa Park
Balboa Park is full of gorgeous Spanish-style buildings and amazing museums. I really want to visit the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Japanese Friendship Garden, and the Museum of Photographic Arts.

Related Post: Old Town Trolley Tour

San Diego Zoo
I must admit that I am not the biggest zoo person in the world, but the San Diego Zoo is absolutely worth a visit. I loved seeing the pandas and had the best time on our private tour of the zoo.

Related Posts: San Diego Zoo Tips and San Diego Zoo Private Tour

Catch up on our California road trip: 

Hearst Castle Grand Rooms Tour

Hearst Castle Upstairs Suites Tour and Roman Pool

Pacific Coast Highway Tips

The Most Beautiful Spot in Big Sur

Have you been to San Diego? What is your favorite thing to do in the city?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Announcing the 2017 Galentine's Blogger Gift Exchange

I am so excited to announce that Mattie and I are hosting our second annual Galentine's Blogger Gift Exchange! We had so much fun doing it with y'all last year, and I am so glad people love it as much as we do. I've had several people reach out and ask me if we're doing it again, which is super exciting. Whether you are new or did the exchange with us last year, I hope you decide to join in on the fun with us!

The Details: 

Our Galentine’s Blogger 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.

1/27: Signups close
2/10: Deadline to ship your package
2/24: 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, you are more than welcome to do that, but please don’t expect anyone to spend more than $20.

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 who is my partner?  
If you need to contact your blogger, please do it through the Elfster site. We want your identity to be a surprise!

How do I tell my partner what I'd like?
Elfster has a great wish list tool where you can add items to your wish list! You can also send a message to your partner through Elfster without knowing who she is.

Is the exchange open to international bloggers?
Yes! If you are a US blogger, please let us know when you sign up if you prefer to ship to only US bloggers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 2017 PopSugar Must Have Box Review

Hey, friends. I meant to show up here yesterday, but this weekend was a tough one with spending time with my best friend and going to her mom’s memorial. Thank you for all of your kind words on her passing.

Today, I wanted to share the contents of my PopSugar box. This was one of those months with a high value item I loved, which made everything else feel like extra. Overall, it was a nice combination of fun and useful items.

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

GOLDFADEN MD Fresh A Peel Multi Acid Resurfacing Peel ($85): 
I have heard so many good things about the GOLDFADEN MD brand, but at $85, I could never justify the price. I am so excited to try this peel. My favorite part of it is it only takes one to three minutes to work.

Manduka eQua Mat Towel in Playa ($38): 
I don’t do yoga, so I didn’t even know you need a towel for your yoga mat. I definitely think I can repurpose it, though, because it’s so soft!

May Designs Desk Calendar and Notecard ($25): 
I was so excited when I saw this item in the box! All of the designs are adorable, and I love that you can flip the card over and cut on the dotted line to turn each page into a notecard. Items like these are why I love PopSugar so much.

Daily Concepts Your Hair Wrap Towel ($18): 
I’ve never really used a special hair wrap towel, but this one says it helps eliminate frizz, so I am willing to give it a try.

Dean & Deluca Peppermint Loose Leaf Tea ($10.75): 
I love tea, but I don’t like peppermint tea. I’ll probably pass this on to my mom.

Sourcebooks Inc Instant Happy Notes ($8.99): 
This little book includes 101 sticky notes you can tear off to brighten someone’s day! I can’t wait to use these.

Special Extra: Glade No 3 Coconut and Beach Woods Candle ($4.99): 
This item is a special extra, which means it doesn’t count towards the value of the box. I am sensitive to a lot of strong smells, and I really hated this one. That said, it doesn’t bother me that this was in the box since it doesn’t contribute to its value. I’ll definitely pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it!

The total value of this PopSugar box was about $186. That’s a huge value for a box that only cost me $20 during the Black Friday sale.

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

What was your favorite item in my January 2017 PopSugar box

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five Recipes We Love This Winter

One of my goals for 2017 is to get better at meal planning. I’ve always been terrible at it because I hate picking, and Chris will pretty much eat anything. When he had a day off recently, we sat down and browsed through many recipes together. We found several recipes that will be added to our weekly rotations, so today I wanted to share some of our favorites with y’all!

Asian Steak Bites

We found this recipe two weeks ago and have already made it twice. It’s so simple to make, and the marinate is delicious. I hate leftovers, but I’m not lying when I say I could eat these every day.

Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

I’ve never had Bang Bang Shrimp before, but I have heard many people talk about it! If what we made is anything like the original, I can see why. The sauce is so delicious!

Cuban-Style Slow Cooker Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)

I love ropa vieja at Cuban restaurants, but I have never tried to make it. This was another easy recipe that tasted amazing.

Patty Melt

A patty melt felt like the perfect meal on a cold day. I couldn’t tell y’all the last time I’ve had one, so it was nice treat!

Juicy Lucy Meatballs

These are meatballs stuffed with cheese. I repeat, these are meatballs stuffed with cheese. Stop reading this post and make these now. They’re that good.

Other Recipe Posts
We are always looking for new recipes! What have you made lately?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

California Road Trip: The Most Beautiful Place in Big Sur

I still think about our California road trip all the time. I’m usually a person who prefers new experiences, but I would love to repeat this trip in the future. Our day driving up the Pacific Coast Highway was one of my favorite days ever. Every view was incredible, but my favorite view of the day was of McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

There’s something truly spectacular about seeing an 80-foot waterfall cascade into the Pacific Ocean. I am always on the hunt for waterfalls (I can’t wait to share some of the ones we saw while in the Smokey Mountains with y’all!), and the McWay Falls took my breath away.


To get to McWay Cove to see the falls, you need to park on the side of the road. Park in the first open spot you see, as it’s almost always crowded. It’s much harder to turn around in that area if you completely miss the parking area then to walk a little bit longer to the falls. To get to the lookout for the falls, you walk a half mile on a dirt path from the parking lot and pass through a tunnel underneath Highway 1 to get to the overlook.

The best view of McWay Falls is actually a little before the overlook itself. Once you get to the overlook, the waterfall is further away. Still, you will get many stunning images of striking cliffs, palm trees, redwoods, and the Pacific Ocean.

Have you ever taken a road trip on Highway 1? What’s the best road trip you’ve ever taken?

Catch up on our California road trip: 

Hearst Castle Grand Rooms Tour

Hearst Castle Upstairs Suites Tour and Roman Pool

Pacific Coast Highway Tips