Book Round Up Vol 1.

I have set a goal to spend more of my time reading. I want to use it as a time to shut off my phone and unwind. For me the thing about reading is the more I do it, the more I want to do it. I have a running list of books I want to read and they cover so many genres. It may seem as a cheat but I'm also listening to books on audible and counting it towards my goal for the year. I love listening to books while in the car, cooking or doing things around my house.

Since I hope to be reading more this year, I also plan on sharing what I'm reading more often. As always, this round up hits several different genres. I typically love switching thru genres and once I've read a little fiction, I crave some history or a biography.

The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile - For anyone getting starting studying the Enneagram, this is the best introductory book. I will be doing a whole post on the enneagram soon, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about, no worries. This book gives a great introduction to the enneagram as a whole and then each number gets its own chapter. At the end of the chapter are some questions for you to reflect on. I loved not only understanding my number but learning about the other numbers. I have several friends and family members who know their numbers and I've found I'm using strategies I learned in the book to communicate and relate to them better.

Becoming Michelle Obama by Michele Obama - READ THIS BOOK! I should stop my review right there because it's all you need to know. I haven't loved a book this much in awhile. Michelle writes in a way that is both relatable and aspirational. Understanding some of her inner conflict at becoming a public figure really gave me more of an understanding of her life as first lady. For me, the best part was when she talked about her struggle on whether to quit her job as an attorney and start a new career. It is inspiring for someone that is seen as being very successful, also had struggles along her path. 

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory - It's your favorite romantic comedy movie in book form. I loved the main character and her inner monologue thru the book. Jasmine Guillory writes really strong female protagonists that are complicated and messy but someone you still pull for. This book follows the Wedding Date (reviewed here) but isn't necessarily a sequel because it doesn't have the same characters. It may be a bit predictable but that didn't make it any less of a page turner. 

Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly - There is no way I could have a reading list without a little history. I've ready many books about WWII and the holocaust but nothing about the Japanese front of the war. This book explains the United State's strategy for that side of the conflict and what led up to the U.S's decision to drop the atomic bombs. For anyone interested in this part of history, this is interesting and factual at the same time. I have always been a person that believes you must learn about our past to understand the future and this book gave me a great understanding of the war. 

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green - A coming of age novel by an author I love. Turtles really gets you in the head of the teenage protagonist. She is trying to solve the mystery of a missing a billionaire and does so by befriending the billionaire's son. It's interesting and the characters are complex, which just adds to the intrigue of what happened. I wouldn't call this a mystery novel but it does keep you guessing throughout. 

Kara Krittenbrink

The Hills are Alive... in Salzburg

I made a plan to have this post out last Fall, right after my trip, but things got in the way and I'm now just finishing it. We started this trip in Paris (see here) and our next stop  was Salzburg, Austria. This city was a big bucket list item for me! Beyond the gorgeous views, Salzburg was the setting for the Sound of Music. 


Some of our best meals on our 10 day trip were in Salzburg. One of the things you have to have is Apple Strudel. Sweets are my favorite and the strudel didn't disappoint.

Gasthaus Zwettlers - While in Austria you have to visit a traditional Austrian Pub. We found this restaurant on a couple lists and it was also recommended to us by a local. It has all of the charm of a pub house and the weiner schnitzel was excellent. It goes great with a half pint of the local beer.   

Triangel – Modern Austrian cuisine at its best. This place has a mixture of the traditional Austrian foods mixed in with local modern favorites. If you don't have a reservation, have a drink up at the bar while you wait. I recommend the dumplings or one of the fish dishes.

Pizza and Vino - This is my kind of place! It is some of the best pasta I've ever have. They have a different menu each night of 3 pasta dishes, one appetizer and 2 desserts.  There aren't any menus, but trust me, everything is amazing. 


Sound of Music Tour – It may sound a little cheesy, and sometimes it was, but the tour was so fun! There are several types of tours in Salzburg. Some are small groups, some on bikes and other on buses. We picked this one because of a recommendation and it didn’t 
disappoint. You stop at several places that are used in the filming of the movie and while on the bus you get some interesting facts and even some Salzburg history. I liked that we learned more than just about the movie.

Some of the stops are: Leopoldskron Castle (see more info in the stay section below), Hellbrun Castle, Nonberg Abbey, Wedding Church, and some amazing views of Salzburg![


Augustiner Brau - Being the largest Beer Garden in Salzburg, this is a must see! Grab a beer and take a look around, this place is huge! There are plenty of rooms to hang out in or if its a nice day, go outside. If you are hungry there are lots of food stalls with sweet and savory items. Give yourself plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere.

Paragliding- Now I know this isn’t for the faint of heart, but it was one of the top experiences of my life! On our tour the day before, we saw several paragliders among our mountain views. To get up the mountain you take a bus and then at the top you meet your paraglider guide. After being put in the harness and a quick lesson you are attached to your guide and away you go. We paid to have pics and videos done while we were flying and it’s the best money I spent! Depending on the wins your ride can be anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes. We’ve been told that the Spring and early Summer are the best times to do it!

Wander the city - Walking thru the old town is a step back in time. The city is so charming and easily walkable. Get lost and wander the streets to see the different streets, fountains and so much more.  Salzburg was the home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart so you can visit his home as well. 

Shopping – Walk thru the city center and you can do anything from high end shopping to trinkets. No matter what time of year you go, there are a few Christmas shops that have beautiful ornaments too.


Hotel Schloss Leopoldskon – I can’t recommend this hotel enough and we wish we could have stayed longer. The Hotel is a actually a former palace and home. The backyard of it and lake is the backyard of the Von Trapp home in the movie. On the sound of Music Tour you go by the hotel and see it from across the lake but you can only be on the grounds if you are a guest so it is pretty special to see in person. Breakfast is provided each day and its in one of the great ballrooms in the home. If it’s a nice day I recommend eating on the balcony, because the view can’t be beat! Staying here truly made our trip to Austria and I don't think I could stay anywhere else in Salzburg. 

One of my favorite moments in Salzburg was the free morning we had at the hotel. After breakfast we walked around the grounds and then I spent some time reading by the lake. The hotel is so helpful and their service is great. I like how small it feels and you truly feel like you are at an amazing home. It is a bit outside the city center but it’s not more than a 10 minute taxi ride to anywhere you want to go. They also have bikes you can use! I wish we could have ridden around the lake but it was raining the morning we planned to do that.

Kara Krittenbrink

Let's Talk Exfoliation: Kate Somerville Exfolikate

Skincare is such a broad subject and can be a little daunting to know where to start. I am no expert, but I've learned a few things thru the years. I love reading new articles and trying out  products. One part that is very important to even a basic skincare routine is exfoliation. Exfoliation is the removal of the outermost layer of dead skin cells. There are so many benefits and one of the biggest ones is how it helps your other products work better. I've talked about other exfoliating products in this post but I've been using a new one for the past few months.

Exfoliation Benefits
Unclogs pores
Refines skin texture
Increases circulation
Helps other products penetrate deeper
Helps with acne problems
Increases cell turnover
Stimulates Collagen

There are also two types of exfoliators: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators contain something in them that physically scrubs your skin, like beads or granules. Also a pad or scrubber can work as well. Chemical exfoliants use acid or enzymes to dissolve the skin surface cells. 

Which one is better? Actually a mix of both will get you the best results! 

I've been told to try Kate Sommerville's Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment for awhile. I finally bought it a few months ago and have been using it once a week. It is one of the best exfoliators I've ever used! Without it being too harsh, it left my skin smoother than other exfoliators. It also has both physical and chemical exfoliants. I didn't have any irritation or redness afterwards. There is a slight tingle while it is on your skin, but I liked the feeling.

How To:
1. Wash face with your favorite cleanser.
2. Pat dry.
3. Apply Exfolikate all over your face and work it in for 30 seconds.
4. Let sit for about 2 minutes.
5. Rinse off
6. Continue with the rest of your skin care routine.

One of my favorite benefits of Exfolikate is how I don't have to use it as often as other exfoliating products. I used it twice week for about a month and now I use it around once a week. 
Kara Krittenbrink

January Sales

There are some great sales going on right now! It is a great time to stock up on Fall & Winter items. One sale I've been really shopping is Madewell. They are current running an extra 40% off sale prices (with code DOUBLEYAY) which makes most of these items over 50% off and some are even closer to 75% off! Madewell is one of my favorite places to get classic items. Their sweaters and jeans are staples in my closet. 

Jcrew is also having an incredible sale. Its up to 70% off sale items and 25% regular items. JCrew has great classic items as well but I also like finding special, dressier items. As someone that loves velvet it's hard not to buy all of their velvet pieces! 

Kara Krittenbrink

My Journey with Natural Deodorant

Where I can I have been trying to switch my beauty products to more natural ones. I have started with a few of my skincare items and I've definitely found some hits and misses. The hard part about a lot of  natural products is that they can be more expensive. Natural products also don't mean that they won't cause irritations or issues, especially if the product uses essential oils. For example, I have had an irritation to one natural product but have a friend that had no issues with it. It's best to do a spot test on a small section of skin when you first get a product.

One of the places I really wanted to find a natural alternative was my deodorant/antiperspirant. What I've learned in my research is that what causes odor is bacteria, not actually sweat. So most natural deodorants work by killing the bacteria and thus the smell.  A common ingredient in antiperspirant is aluminum. This is what will clog your pores up so you won't sweat. Many of the crazy stories of aluminum linked to cancer don't have any back up but it still isn't an ingredient that is good for your body. 

The struggle with natural deodorants is that many don't work and that is a scary risk. 

In my research I learned when switching to a natural deodorant there is usually a bit of a transition period.

Transition to Natural Deodorant:
Stage 1: You may be a little sweaty and smelly. Your pores are detoxing and are plugged.

Stage 2: You are in full detox and unplugging mode. This will be your sweatiest stage! I helped by exfoliating my pits and if it was bad I would swipe my arm pits with a wipe and then reapply deodorant. I've also head taking a hot detox bath can help you thru this stage quicker.

Stage 3: You are smelling a lot better

Stage 4: Deodorant is working and you are back to smelling like flowers and sweating less.

It is important to note that everyone differs in how long they are in each stage!

My Experience
After a lot of research I decided to try Kopari's Coconut Deodorant. I like that it goes on clear and doesn't have any baking soda. Baking soda isn't bad for you, it just can irritate your skin. Next I loved the subtle coconut scent and how coconut oil is moisturizing. 

The first few days I used Kopari's Coconut Deodorant I noticed I was a little more sweaty. A couple days in I had one or two days where I had moments I felt like I didn't smell great, but not horrible. I wiped down with a baby wipe and then reapplied and was good to go. After about 10 days I was completely past any issues! I was sweating less and could go a full 24 hours without smelling. 

I've now been using Kopari's Coconut Deodorant for  months and I absolutely love it! I don't have any issues with odor and love the coconut smell of the deodorant. I'm so glad I've switched to a natural deodorant.

Have you switched to any natural beauty products? 
Kara Krittenbrink

Best of 2018

Now that we've made it thru the Holidays and New Year's, I feel like I can take a breath and get back to a normal routine. Last year I loved sharing my favorite purchases of 2017 (see here) so I thought I would do the same this year. All of these items I would buy again. 

GG Marmont Matelesse Shoulder Bag - I've been in love with the Marmont bag since they came out. I finally splurged on it and its been totally worth it. The blush/beige color is a great neutral for all seasons. It comes in several sizes and I purchased the medium. I mostly use it for an everyday purse because it carries everything I need without being too big. The leather is soft but very durable and the strap can be worn as a crossbody or shoudler bag. This will be a purse I have for my lifetime.

Away Large Suitcase - Last year Away's larger carry on was on of my top purchases and I even bought one for my dad for Father's day this year. Early this year I bought the large suitcase and it truly holds everything! A ski vacation are the times I pack the most and this held everything I needed for the week. I love the stream lined design and no matter how heavy it is so easy to push with its 360 degree wheels. It also has an interior compression system to give you the most room possible. 

Fuzz Away Fabric Shaver - Such an inexpensive purchase but it has given new life to all of my sweaters. It safely shaves off any fuzz balls or pilling so your sweaters will look new again. It saved me from getting rid of a couple. 

Plane Ticket - I'll never be someone that regrets spending money on a trip. Germany has been somewhere I've wanted to go since Grade School. Most of my great great grandparents immigrated from Germany so I've always felt the country was special to me. I'll be sharing more travel diaries on this trip in the coming weeks but it was a trip I'll never forget.

Sam Edelman Nude Ankle Strap Sandal - The shoe that goes with everything. These shoes have worked double duty in my wardrobe. I wear them to work and after.

The Everywhere Bag - I've really made travel a priority in my life the last few years. I finally feel like I'm a smart packer that can pack for most trips in a small suitcase. I needed a bag to accompany my carry on that was big enough to carry my laptop, purse and anything else I wanted close to me on a flight but could also fit under the seat in a plane. Away brand did it again with this bag. Its has several pockets to keep you organized and carries way more than you expect it to. 

Bubble Sleeve Blouse  - Sometimes an on a whim purchase becomes a closet staple. I've worm this top so many times in the last few months. I bought the black which is sold out but I am considering getting the light blue to wear this spring. The top dresses up and down, and I've worn it to work with a pencil skirt or slacks and out to dinner with leather pants!

Tory Burch Brooke Slouchy Boot - I had been looking for a knee length boot in a cranberry or crimson color for a few years now. I was being picky on the fit and heel height and this season I found exactly what I was looking for. I've worn them all day long and the block heel makes them comfortable. The boots can be worn slouchy or stand up tall.

It Cosmetics CC Cream - I wasn't looking for a new foundation but after a friend of mine raved about this one I had to try it. I'll do a full review when I share my updated makeup routine. I don't wear foundation but when I do this one creates the most flawless finish without having to be heavy feeling. 
Kara Krittenbrink