Book Round Up Vol 2.

I found that I had to force myself to switch up book genres this month. After reading my first recommendation below, all I wanted to do was read more from the WII era. I managed to change it up with some fiction and non-fiction books. I also had several easy reads and my last book was read to just  inform me on a time in history I felt uneducated on. 

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan - What a read! This book is classified as a novel but it is based on a true story and the major story line has been fact checked. It follows a 17 year old Italian boy living in Milan during WWII. Until now he has lived a pretty charmed life. When the Nazis start taking over Italy, his parents send him to stay in the mountains at a boys' school to avoid the allied bombings in Milan. Once he is about to turn 18, his parents convince him to enlist in the German army. Otherwise he will be drafted in the Italian army and most of those soldiers end up at the front line of battle. Thru a series of random events he ends up the driver for Adolf Hitler's left hand man in Italy. He despises wearing the Nazi swastika on his uniform as much as he despises the man he drives for. This causes he to eagerly spy on the man for the allies, risking his life daily.

Although I read a lot of WWII historical fiction and biographies, I do not know much about what happened in Italy during the war. This book showed me how much we still don't know a lot about what happened during this horrible time in history. This has quickly become on of my favorite books and is a top recommendation of mine.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson -  Whatever Happens, Love that. This book is warm, funny, messy and definitely has some magic in it! It is the story of when Blix, an 85 year old woman from Brooklyn,  and Marnie, a 29 year old from Florida, happen to meet by chance and how their stories intertwine. Marnie quickly goes thru some heartbreak and doesn't understand how she can't just get the ordinary life that she wants - husband, kids and a life in the suburbs. Blix tells her she is going to have a big life but Marnie fights in. My favorite aspect was seeing how the life you think you want may not be what you get because what you get can be 100x better that whatever you imagined.

Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan - Sometimes books can surprise you and this one definitely did. James meets Lou and think he has found the love of his life. The problem is Lou is engaged to James best friend, Rob. James pushes down his feelings and supports his friend. James seems to always be just missing anything he wants in life. He struggles to write a novel, struggles to find someone to love and just plain struggles through life. This book follows love, friendship, career, life and curve balls that are thrown. Just when I thought I knew where this book was going, it changes again and I was hooked.

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis - After reading an article that referred to the Cold War I realized that I know very little about that time in history. I started to do some research to find a good beginner book on the subject and found this book. It can be dry at sometimes but very interesting in others! I really feel like I'm better informed on a time in history that was pretty recent and still impacts things now!

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins - I mentioned this book in this post and how I was excited to read it. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. It was a little slow and I think could have been wrapped up quicker. What I felt was good and realistic is the thoughts running thru the main character's heads. Their lack of confidence and body image issues really do affect most of their life decisions. 
Kara Krittenbrink

My 5 Min Make Up Routine

Working in the corporate world, I need to look pulled together every day. Since I always end up snoozing my alarm at least one time, I never quite have as much time as I want to get ready. Thru necessity I've learned a quick minute make up routine that gets me out the door looking polished. It typically takes a little over 5 minutes to get a polished look. My focus is dewy skin and a little highlight on my eyes and lips.

As soon as I wake up I wash my face with Micellar water (see post here) and this one has become my go to. After cleansing I use this sunscreen oil and then this face oil. I love the combo, especially in the winter, to add some moisture and glow to my face. I first started using this face oil and its become my favorite skincare product. I decided to try another oil and found this plumping one is great for using under makeup.

Once the oil has had some time to soak in I start my make up routine with this concealer. I use it on the dark and red areas on my face. For me this is typically under my eyes, around my nose and lips. I blend it in with my beauty blender. I then set it with Bareminerals powder concealer and also blend it onto my eyellids. Next I add this Benefit Hoola bronzer to my temples, chin and under my cheekbones. I am by no means able to contour but I do need add a little depth to my face. I then add Nars Orgasm blush to my cheekbones and set all of my face with Bareminerals mineral veil.

My next focus is my eyes. I fill in my brows with this eyebrow pencil. It's the first pencil I've found that has the correct color and blends well. I find that it doesn't look too filled in or overdone. Next I line my eyes with this Charlotte Tilbury liner in Amber Haze. I look the brown/amber color for every day. It defines my eyes without being too harsh. It also blends easily so its foolproof. I then add a little of this same bronzer to my crease to add a bit of definition. I finish off my eyes with mascara. I am currently switching between this Charlotte Tilbury one and Blinc Mascara.

My last step is my favorite step is highlighting and I've finally discovered a drugstore powder highlighter that I love! I used to only think more expensive brands were worth buying. This Covergirl palette has three colors and I use them all. The pinkish color goes on my cheek bones and I love the gold color on my brow bones, inner cornor of my eyes and cupids bow. I top my look off with a lipcolor and I'm done!
Kara Krittenbrink

Hvar, Croatia - Travel Guide

The last city on our trip thru Croatia was the island of Hvar, a resort town know for its beaches. We started our time in Croatia in Dubrovnik (see here) and then went to Split (see here). I have to start this travel diary off by saying I'm not much of a beach person. I didn't grow up going to the beach at all and still don't have much of a desire to go. When this trip was planned we let the votes of the group decide where we were going and Hvar made it to the top of the list and I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am that it did. I knew it would be beautiful and we would have a fun time but I had no idea I would have the best day of our two week trip on the island!

There is an hourly ferry from Split to Hvar that runs throughout most of the day. You can get your tickets on the day of without too much trouble. If you have any seasickness or motion sickness issues I would recommend taking something or using seasick patches before you get on the ferry. I don't have issues with motion sickness but several of my friends that were with me did and they needed them. The trip from Split to Hvar was pretty calm but it was a bit stormy on the rid from Hvar to Split and we hit some pretty big waves!

Mizerolla - My favorite meal of the trip was at this restaurant. Tucked away a few blocks off the main strip, this Italian restaurant is truly incredible. We loved it so much that we ate their both nights we were in Hvar. The gorgonzola gnocchi was TOO. DIE. FOR. and there are lots of great wines too. One of the best parts of this restaurant is the atmosphere, it is one of those places that make you feel like family when you are there. If you can, I highly recommend eating on the open air rooftop!

Private Boat Excursion - If you do only one thing in Hvar, this is my recommendation. We rented a boat for the day from Mario Rentals. A skipper takes you around for the day to secluded beaches, private coves and wherever else you want to be! We packed a bag with snacks, sandwiches and drinks are were gone for most of the day. This is one of those situations that pictures can't do justice to the beauty we saw this day! Our skipper took us to several different beaches throughout the day and it was really up to us on how long we stayed at each place. I could go on and on about this day but this picture of our sunset pretty much sums up the day. This day was honestly one of the best experiences of my life! My friends and I still talk about this day.

Walls & Fortress - From the 13th century, the Walls and Hilltop fortress are the most historical site in Hvar. We didn't make it up to the fortress but I heard the hike isn't too far and the view is worth it.

Hula Hula Beach Bar - There are plenty of private beaches and beach bars. Hula Hula had a fun mix of lounging and party vibes. You pay for a lounge chair and it is yours for the day. A waiter is there for any food or drinks you want to order. We spent our first afternoon in Hvar there soaking up the sun and enjoying the water! 

Hvar can easily become an expensive destination because it is fully of fancy resorts and hotels. Our group knew we wouldn't be spending much time in our room so we, once again, booked an air bnb. It was a more affordable option for us. Ours was located a few blocks East of the yacht harbor.

If you have the money or are spending more than a couple days, the resorts in Hvar looked gorgeous. Many had private beaches just for their guests. 
Kara Krittenbrink

President's Day Sales!

I have a quick round up of some of the best President's day sales and what I've been wanting to put in my shopping cart.

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Nordstroms is having  huge sale on so many winter items. If you have you want any sweaters, coats or dresses this is a good time to pick up a few!

JCrew is giving an extra 40% off sale! This classic sweater will always be in style. I have a few colors and they are staples for my Fall and Winter work wardrobes. Also so many of their jeans are on sale. I love this pair!

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Anthropologie is having an extra 40% off sale items! 

Lou and Grey has 40% off some of their favorite items. This sweater is so soft and a perfect weekend lounge piece. And these sweatpants are my absolute favorite pair I own. 

Kara Krittenbrink

On Wednesdays We Wear

Is there anything better than brunch and catching up with your girlfriends? The correct answer is no. I could have spend hours catching up with my friends and discussing all the incredible things going on in each others life. The older we get, the harder it is to find the time to see each other. It's not that we are any less important to each other, we just all have jobs, husbands, boyfriends, kids etc that can take up our day to day life.
Cropped Sweater - Denim - Booties (chanel- can't buy online) - Cami

We decided getting together for Galentine's day was the perfect reason to stuff our faces with mimosas, eggs benedict and gossip. I used this occasion to wear this pink cropped cardigan. It is one of the items from my Valentine's Day inspiration post (here)

The cardigan is pretty different than what I typically go for. I don't wear a ton of bright colors but I couldn't resist this barbie pink. The bright candy color looks so good on most skin tones. The boxy, cropped style is a silhouette I thought I couldn't wear. Now that I've tried it, I wish I hadn't been avoiding it. Like anything, figuring out what to style it with is key. Keeping the bottom half slim fitting and high waisted, evened out my silhouette!

This cardigan also strikes the balance of casual and dressy. With jeans and booties I was ready for brunch or dinner with the girls. Without the undershirt, the vneck has a flirty neckline perfect for a date night or night out. Dark denim or leather pants and pointy toe pumps would complete the look.

Kara Krittenbrink

Why I had to Develop a Bedtime routine

Sleep. We all need it and know its important for both our mental and physical health  While you sleep, your body is physically repairing itself. So much of our health is tied to our sleep, it is seen as important as the food you eat and exercise. Your stress level, hormones, immune system and so many other things are linked to sleep. I am by no means a health professional but I've learned, by my own experiences, how sleep can affect me.

But as I've learned, Just because you understand the importance of it doesn't mean you get enough. I am not a good sleeper. I wish I was one of those people that fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow but that rarely happens. I'm also typically a really light sleeper so I wake up a few times a night. Those facts, paired with the fact that I'm a night owl means many nights it's 1 a.m. and I find myself binge watching Grey's Anatomy because I can't sleep.

Sleep and anxiety are a vicious circle. Having enough sleep can help you battle anxiety but when your anxiety level is up, your sleep is affected. As someone that has struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, I know firsthand how it can affect everything in your life, including sleep. I am constantly working on keeping my anxiety in check. I've several strategies for that, but that's another post.

Over the last year, I've really tried to find what works for me. My goals were: 1) fall asleep faster 2) stay asleep thru the night. While I'm still a long ways from having a perfect blissful night of sleep. I have learned a lot. I thought I would share my tips and tricks!

Create a Sleep Atmosphere - What is your ideal sleeping situation? Think about the light, sounds and temperature of your room. Dark airy room or do you need a little light and want wit warmer? Next think specifically about your bed. Does it feel comfortable, do you have the right pillows, comforter etc. It may cost a little to get the right items but the return on investment is well worth it. Soft silky sheets and a heavy but not hot comforter are ideal for me.

Have a Routine - A consistent routine will train your brain to know it's time for bed. Your body and mind will start to relax and get ready for rest. Ideally part of this routine would be going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This will help with your circadian rhythm. I don't consistently go to bed at the same time but I do have a routine I go thru every time I go to bed (see below).

Try some Calming products - There is a whole plethora of products that claim to help you sleep. While I'm skeptical of most of them, there are a few things that seem to be proven to help. Melatonin is a natural supplement that can be taken to aid sleep. I've used it a few times, including on long haul flights. Not getting enough of the mineral magnesium from your diet can cause poor or troubled sleep. I've used this supplement to help with stress and sleep for a few years and have just started using the gummies as well. I am not a doctor, so please make sure you talk to a doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

Supplements aren't the only thing that can have a calming affect. Drinking tea or another warm liquid can help you wind down. Just the ritual of making and sipping tea relaxes me. I'm also starting to learn about essential oils and how they help promote sleep. Lavender is a great one to start with. You can use a diffuser, spray or even a lotion to get the benefits. On of my best friends bought me this Lavender Aromatherapy lotion and I've been using on my hands each night before bed.

Get Rid of Distractions - Think of everything that keeps you from sleeping and find a way to get rid of it. My trouble is turning my mind off. To combat that as soon as I think of something I need to do or remember or work on, I immediately write it down! I will either write it on a sticky or even email myself if its a list! This helps me

Only Use Your Bed for Sleep - This is a really hard one for me because I love to relax and watch TV in bed! I've read a lot that keeping your bed only for sleep is really important. That way your body knows its time for bed every time you lay in it. I have

Taking all the tips and tricks I've learned and shared, I've created a routine that works for me. It is by no means for everyone, but it seems to work for me and has helped my quality of sleep.

My Routine
  1. Quick room pickup. 
  2. My nighttime skincare routine. (see here)
  3. Make some tea
  4. Relax in bed
  5. Read for 5 mins
  6. Use Lavender lotion on hands.
  7. Set TV timer 
  8. Sleep!
Do you have any tips or ideas for getting better sleep?

Kara Krittenbrink

Pink and Red

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Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is around the corner! Whether you have a significant other or not, I love to use it as an excuse to wear some of my favorite colors. 

This weekend I am having brunch with some of my girlfriends for an early Galentine's celebration. I want a new outfit to wear and have been debating between this cropped sweater and bralette or this sweater dress! These earrings are so fun and make any outfit festive. I've also been wanting to invest in a cherry red bag and I can't stop thinking about this one!

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
Kara Krittenbrink