Four Perfect Days in St. Petersburg: Travel Guide

September 2, 2015

fourperfectdaysstpetersburgIn May, we went to St. Petersburg, Russia after visiting Paris for the French Open (travel posts here and here). Lots of people asked why we chose St. Petersburg, as most Americans don’t travel to Russia, and the answer was simple: it was cheaper than other options. We knew that we were going to France and that we had to fly through Frankfurt (because United is the worst), and we thought we should tackle another city while we’re halfway around the world already. After looking up flights to Munich, Vienna, etc., we decided on St. Petersburg, and I’m glad we did.

I did not know a whole lot about St. Petersburg before booking the trip, but had a good image in my mind of what it would be like. For the most part, I was right, but the one thing I did not expect about this beautiful city was how good the food is. And I should clarify: I don’t think I ate anything Russian in Russia. The food scene in St. Petersburg is world class. The restaurants are trendy, the cocktails are delicious, the dishes are eclectic… and we loved every bite and sip. 

We soaked up so much history and culture in just four days in the city. We bought Faberge eggs (ahem, eggs from the Faberge Museum), walked until we could walk no more, toured this canal filled city by boat, used more audio guides at museums than I would like to admit, and frolicked in at least five parks.

Long story short: You need to go to St. Petersburg at some point in your life. And when you go, I’ve outlined four perfect days in the city. You can also use this custom Google map I created which plots all of the places named below. 

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Week in Review

August 31, 2015

Exactly one year ago this week, I decided to start an Instagram account for my blog versus just using my personal account. I would be lying through my teeth (or my text, I suppose) if I said I was not incredibly nervous and self-conscious about starting afresh. I very rarely used to share details about blog posts on my personal Instagram, as I felt that my friends didn’t sign up for that when they chose to follow me. However, I knew that Instagram was a powerful tool for bloggers and photographers, and so I bit the bullet and created @SnapshotsAndMyThoughts. I think I had about 15 followers for the first few weeks and was nervous it would stay that way indefinitely (can we talk about #firstworldworries?). More than just being concerned about follower count, which didn’t matter all that much to me, was the fear that people would judge me for posting too much about my life. Blogging in itself is pretty self-centered – Hey, do you want to see photos of my life? Hear about my fun weekend? See how I styled my new bookshelves? I write this blog not because I want to talk about me-me-me, but to have a journal of our lives that I can look back on, and also to hopefully share some fun products we try, ideas I’ve got, styles I love, etc.

The very best thing about the blogging and Instagram journey is the people I’ve met. Yup, super corny, but so true. Over the last 52 weeks (and before that too!), I’ve met some of my new closest friends and have, through those people, worked on some exciting projects which has helped me launch a new business venture – Snapshots by Ailee Petrovic.

This is a really long way of saying ‘thank you’ for following along with me. For making this journey exciting. For your ‘likes’ and sweet comments. For sharing your lives with me as well. I am so incredibly appreciative.

This week was especially fun, as my sister-in-law was in town and I love spending time with her. Bar a nasty stomach bug that knocked most of us out for at least a day, the last 7 days were filled with lots of laughter. Some of the highlights include:

  • Dining with my very best friend, McKenzie, at Ruggles Green on Friday night and talking about any and everything. Life gets busy and sometimes we don’t see each other for a few weeks, and I hate it. She really is the best
  • Catching up with my former co-worker and now friend, Jess, over coffee at the house on Monday. We worked together at Accenture what feels like many moons ago (but really was just 3 years ago!).
  • Eating an early lunch at Local Foods in Rice Village with Meredith after our date to SnowBlock was uprooted by it not opening until noon!
  • Meeting with Leah at The Monogram Shop to talk about a new project she’s working on that I’ll be helping with. She’s the best, and I am excited for what’s to come with the store!
  • Shooting with Elly Brown on Sunday at the Police Officer Memorial and Discovery Green. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, she is so sweet and I loved spending the afternoon with her.
  • Celebrating our friends’ wedding on Saturday at St. Luke’s Methodist Church and the Nouveau Antique Art Bar. It was so much fun, and I’m glad I ordered this Monique Lhuillier gown from Rent the Runway
  • Spending almost every day at LifeTime gym doing week 12 of BBG getting ready for Wednesday’s shoot with Paige
  • Shooting with Esther and her gorgeous family at Fat Cat Creamery for this big announcement.
  • Meeting one of Sasha’s best friend’s new son, Archer, who was just one week old and so tiny… not to mention, absolutely adorable.
  • Getting my new mouth guard at the dentist (Dr. Matt Nickolas – go to him!) to help my TMJ. I cannot wait for my jaw to feel better!
  • Dropping by my friend’s house to shoot the exterior of her home for this house tour post. Isn’t her house stunning?
  • Finding a cheerleader outfit at Michaels (of all random places) for Isla’s doll and tossing around her pom-poms for an afternoon. She loved it.
  • Photographing our friend’s daughter and her two sweet cousins at Memorial Park on Saturday morning. Getting three kiddos to smile is always a challenge, but they were so cute in their little coordinating outfits – we got some adorable shots.
  • Spending time with all six of Isla’s grandparents (Sasha’s parent’s are divorced and remarried) and two of her aunts! She’s a spoiled and very lucky little lady.
  • Amongst healthy eating and lots of exercise, sneaking in some TCBY (my absolute favorite). Life is all about moderation, right?
  • Finally busting out our Breville juice machine and then making a million juices. I cannot wait to try new recipes (from JennyJourney.com!).
  • Eating veggie burgers from Buff Burger. If you live in Houston and haven’t tried it yet, you need to! They are so delicious.
  • Hosting a Shop Small giveaway, which ends tonight at midnight! Make sure you’ve entered!
  • Getting the prettiest package from Lindsay Marcella in the mail. Our bedroom makeover is seriously almost complete. I am so excited!

How was your week? What were your highlights?

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Coastal Contemporary Home Tour

August 28, 2015

You know how there are some people in life who are just quintessentially cool? Like, whatever they do, you kind of want to do, too? Well, for me, that’s Nina. Sasha has known her since they were little, as Nina’s parents also immigrated to the US from Serbia. Coincidentally, she married one of Sasha’s fraternity brothers, who is genuinely the sweetest – and a pretty impressive entrepreneur too (ahem, see house below). Mike and Nina moved into their custom built home (by Renaissance Builders) earlier this year, and I’ve been lusting over it ever since. The white paneled wood walls, large windows (I’d kill for that much natural light in our house!), gorgeous modern (warm and comfy!) furniture, dark wood ceilings, massive closets, fun wallpaper… I could go on and on.

When I asked Nina if I could feature their house on Snapshots & My Thoughts, she kindly and enthusiastically agreed. They opened up their house for me to photograph the inside and although Mother Nature was against us, I was around again to take outdoor shots. 

I hope you love the house as much as I do (cue me now pinning everything to my Dream House boards on Pinterest). Nina sweetly sourced most of the items featured in these photos (it’s a big house, and I had a hard time narrowing down pictures, but there are rooms and pieces not shown!). If you have any questions for her, please email me and I’ll do my best to track down answers.

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My Favorite ‘Small Shops’ (Giveaway!)

August 27, 2015

ShopSmallGiveawayOne of the greatest blessings that has happened this year is the newly formed friendships I’ve made with some incredibly inspiring women. I started my Instagram account almost one year ago, and through it, I’ve ‘met’ (and really met) very talented photographers, bloggers, makeup artists, event planners, and last, but not least, small business owners, most of whom are ‘mompreneurs.’ Being a WAHM (or ‘Work at Home Mom’ – so many acronyms to keep up with!) is not an easy task, as balancing raising children with running a business is no easy task.

I am such a big advocate of the whole ‘shop small’ and ‘shop local’ movement, which I believe was greatly empowered by the creation of Etsy. Although I would be lying if I said I didn’t love buying clothes from big retailers like Gap, Nordstrom, Carters, etc., I do make a very conscious effort to purchase a lot of our outfits and gifts from ‘small shops’ (this always feels like a funny term, since some of the stores below are far from small!). 

Today, I’m sharing eight of my favorite shops, all of whom have kindly offered some of my favorite items in a giveaway (which, to be honest, I’d really like to win!). Enter using the widget below and make sure to read about each of the shops below! Also, make sure to check out my favorite Etsy stores post here for more small shop love! 

PS This post was supposed to be published yesterday as part of the Shop Small linkup (here), but I had a nasty stomach bug! Make sure to check out some of the other posts in the linkup.

Shop Small Giveaway

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Cuteheads: Esther, the owner of cuteheads, is one of my favorite mamas around – you’ll quickly know that from reading her #GIRLBOSS interview here. I’m sad that Isla no longer fits into her adorable cuteheads chambray pom-pom romper. It’s so cute! I am so excited to see the new collection, and I’m even more excited (read: jealous) that Esther is including a seersucker top in the giveaway.  read more

Week in Review

August 24, 2015

Can you believe August is almost over, and that Texas public schools start back today? Oh goodness, where is this year going?! We spent part of the afternoon planning our trip to Australia in January, as it felt so far away until we pulled out our calendars. Only 4.5 months until we leave! I cannot believe it. I’m so ready to sunbathe on Manly Beach (plans changed from a trip to New Zealand to Sydney!), photograph the colorful boat houses on Brighton Beach, play with koalas at Taronga Zoo, watch our favorite players at the Australian Open, etc. However, the insanely long flight with a 18 month old will be less exciting (ha!).

Overall, we had a fun week, filled with a few shoots, tiny train ride, a birthday party, a high school pep rally and a whole lot of rain. Isla loves to splash in the puddles, so she was in heaven. 

Other highlights from the week included:

  • Photographing two DEFINE body shoots for some of their new clothing and another for DEFINE Foods (I kept snacking on the set food!).
  • Attending a Butter Artistry and Fave4 hair styling event and getting a fancy schmancy braid in my hair. It was a great event, but I need a serious private lesson to learn Britt’s amazing skills.
  • Taking a trip to the Rice area, where we had ice cream at Cloud 10 Creamery then headed to Hermann Park to walk around the Japanese Gardens and take a train ride, which Isla LOVED. We grabbed Niko Niko’s on the way home – they have the yummiest falafel. 
  • Shooting our friend’s newly built, gorgeous house, which I’ll feature on the blog this week!
  • Going to our niece’s adorable 4th birthday party at their house and laughing at Isla’s crazy pool antics. Like I said earlier, she loves to splash.
  • Having both my older and younger sisters babysit Isla, which I love, as I want Isla to be very close to her aunts!
  • Receiving my Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite flash in the mail. I’m so ready to take some photos in the evening now!
  • Photographing the Memorial High School cheerleaders at their back-to-school pep rally. It seriously made me nostalgic! I cannot believe I graduated 9 years ago. What?!
  • Getting the house painted grey – we finally landed on Benjamin Moore’s Classic Grey! I cannot wait for it to be completed.
  • Planning another fun shoot that will take place in a few weeks with lots of my favorite creatives and entrepreneurs like Lindsay Marcella, Willow Crowns, A Fine Flourish, Cake & Confetti, cuteheads, Miss J’s cookies and Shop Sweet Lulu.
  • Eating lunch with Meredith of Cake & Confetti and Leah of The Monogram Shop at Adair Kitchen to discuss some potential collaborations between the three of us – a store with every cute item imaginable, a stylist and a photographer. Expect colorful things to come!
  • Going to church at Bayou City Fellowship and catching up with our sweet friends, Sydney and Philip, then going to lunch at Buff Burger afterwards.
  • Eating a delicious and fun brunch with Megan of Willow Crowns and her sweet little Olivia at Sweet Paris in City Centre and then running around the green afterwards. Isla fell fast asleep as soon as we go in the car – she was worn out! 
  • Participating in the Rising Tide Society challenge (#risingtidechallenge), which was so inspiring and I got to ‘meet’ lots of other creatives whom I’m now following and already loving. I am so pro “community over competition” and think it’s great that this global group is pushing it so actively!
  • Organizing jewelry on our dresser with new holders from Target – the stacking glass jars and another West | Emory bracelet holder that is now out of stock! I’m glad to finally get more organized.
  • Getting started on Snapchat! You can add me by my username @aileepetrovic and I’ll add you back! It still confuses me a bit, but I’m getting the hang of it and love seeing my friends’ fun activities (especially the little babes!).

How was your week? What were your highlights?

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