Monday, 31 March 2014

Kirstie's Travel Diaries #17 : Alcatraz and San Francisco City Tour with Viator

Catch up with #16 here.

Day 17 (16/03/12)

Man this was an early start, Way too early for two girls who had been to a gig the night before... not the mention the 'couple' of vodka we had downed! But we had a trip planned and it was booked and paid for so we solidered on!
When we added San Francisco into our travel plans we knew we wanted to go to Alcatraz and well the Golden Gate bridge is just an obvious thing to want to see right? 
We had imagined cruising along the bridge in shorts and a t-shirt on bikes taking in the California sites............ well this did not happen! The weather was horrendous so it was blooming well lucky we had booked this city coach tour!
 This was the  from Viator if any of you are wondering and at under $50 each it is a total bargain that I would recommend to anyone!

Anyway - we were up early and waiting patiently for our coach to come at pick us up! We were lucky enough that they picked us up from our hotel - which was really great because the weather was not the best. (basically felt like England!)

We were then taken to the main office of the travel company and told which group we were in - either tour then Alcatraz or Alcatraz and then the tour. 
As we were both a little sleepy still I was so glad to find out we were heading on the city tour first! A nice sit down on the coach, feet up and take in the sites!
First stop the Golden Gate Bridge!!
We parked up in a nearby car park and were offered the choice to get out and go for a walk upto the bridge - now some people turned this down because of the weather but there was noway we were missing out on this chance, especially as this was probably the only time were going to be able to get to the bridge!

So out we went, prepared to be wind swept and with an umbrella in hand - and it was hilarious! I hadn't been in that much rain in a long long time - and that says alot for someone who lives in England! We only had 20 minutes or so that I remember but we didn't need alot of time out in that crazy storm!
We were literally soaking after this - everyone on the coach actually laughed at us when we clambered back on, make-up down our faces and drenched clothes!
Needless to say that woke us up! 
We then popped to a local supermarket so we could get some food for the morning ahead! All I remember buying was a creme egg -- I'm sure I bought like a bag full of food though!

We then had the tour around the city which was awesome! We learnt and saw so much - the only downside was the weather - but what can ya do?!
Before we knew it it was nearly time to head to Alcatraz but we were reocmmned a restaurant by the ferry port before we did... it was rubbish don't go there (Butterfly!?)

Poncho's on, we headed to the ferry! I was really looking forward to this, I find things like this so interesting and couldn't wait to go on the tour and hear all the stories that came from this place!
I highly recommend if you ever get the chance to go to San Fransisco to go to Alcatraz! It is one of the most interesting places I've ever been! 
The tour is so well organised, you just get your own headset in your chosen language and it just guides you round the prison - narrated by former inmates and officers! 
So many stories and it really is an eye-opener! 

This trip was a total bargain - under $50 to do and see everything - fantastic!!


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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Wishlist : Skincare


Friday, 28 March 2014

Product Of The Week #8

Now you may have heard.... I've got a new phone!
Yup I am now the proud owner of a beautiful gold iPhone 5s! After having my 4s for two years I was so excited to get the pretty upgrade that I had had my eye on for so long!

But being my new little baby I obviously wanted to keep it safe and in one piece - no scratches please!
So I decided to order a couple of cheap cases from eBay to keep me going until I could afford a particular more expensive one when I got paid!
Now this case may be cheap but it certainly doesn't look or feel it! For only £2.89 (and free p&p) I am so impressed and so in love with this case!
I have never had a flip case for my iPhone's and was never really a fan before but I wanted to take really good care of this phone as it is mine for the next 2 years so I thought this would definitely give it a bit more protection!
I love the floral pattern (very Cath K) and the little section for cards is perfect for a night out or when I'm just popping out to the shop - no purse required!

You can find these here on ebay - there are loads of different patterns an even though they are shipped from hong kong - mine got here in just over a week! 
AND I'm just seen they have gone DOWN in price so are now only £2.16 at the moment - totes  Barry bargain!


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Dieting & Me : #3 My Top Tips

Post number 3 is here! To catch up here is where we've got to so far... 
This time I'm going to share with you girls (and possible boys) some of my top tips for shifting those few unwanted pounds and feeling better about yourself! 
Like I've said before I am in no shape or form a trained dietitian or fitness expert but these are things that I have learnt over the years and things that have worked for me! 

This is fairly text heavy, so make yourself comfortable and get your reading brain in gear.
Now... let's turn that self-esteem around and make ourselves look and feel fabulous!
1. H20 - Yes, any dieting tips you will ever read will probably more often than not have this as the number 1 top tip! 
Water has so many benefits I could be here all day jotting them all down! If you aren't a water drinker then it is time to change your ways! It is such an easy step to take and water is free so there is no excuse for this one! (Don't like water? Add a slice of lemon or lime!)
It helps boost your metabolism, keeps your brain working and helps you remain focused and keeps you feeling full. So if you think you're hungry then have a glass of water (colder is better as it  makes your body work harder to regulate its temperature again) alot of the time the hunger you feel is actually dehydration!

2. Get into a routine - Being in a routine has always helped me immensely. Getting up and having a healthy breakfast like high fibre cereal or porridge and/or fruit to kick start your morning everyday is a fantastic way to kick start your metabolism and will have you motivated and energetic for the day ahead! Having lunch and dinner at the same sort of time each day helps alot too! Just a few days into setting yourself into 3 meals and your body will get used to the routine and you won't feel hungry as much and end up unnecessarily snacking (with biscuits in front of Eastenders) - score!
3. Have a Buddy - Having some to talk to in the same situation and on a similar journey is always a bonus! Whether it's a friend, a family member or maybe even just someone on Twitter or Instagram having someone you know is in the same position as yourself is always motivating!
 Talk about your cravings, your progress and your achievements - it will help keep you going... and if you're anything like me and competitive then it will help spur you on even more!

4. Don't Go Cold Turkey Or Under Eat  - A mistake a lot of people make when deciding to go on a diet is just going full-on diet crazy and cutting our more or less everything they think is bad!
 This is definitely something I would say don't do! Just slowly start to cut out a few things a week - maybe start with swapping fizzy drinks for water, having 1 biscuit instead of 4 or not eating after 8pm.
 Each little difference, as small as it is, will have an effect! If you suddenly just start living off soups, salads and fruit only you will only crave the foods you want more and will have a high chance of snapping and quickly reverting back to your own ways (and stuffing you face with those things you've missed!) .
As well as this under eating will not help you lose weight. Eating 1000 calories a day, yes will help you loose weight at first, but as soon as you go back to eating normally your body will just cling to all that extra food and those pounds will pile back on - it is a proven fact!

5. Keep a Diary/Get The Apps - Keeping a food diary is a great way to keep track of your progress and it is great to see where your downfalls are aswell. Apps like My Fitness Pal are amazing for this. You can write in everything you eat and what physical activity you do each day and it calculates for you everything from your calorie intake to what % of fat you had that day! 
The one thing with this though is you need to be HONEST. If you "forget" to add in or write down that sneaky snickers bar you had at 7pm it doesn't mean you didn't eat it - the only person you are lying to is yourself!

6. Avoid Those White Devils - I made a conscious effort a long while ago to swap all those white things for wholegrain!
 Breads, pastas, rice, you name it - I always have brown/wholemeal. With these I feel so much less bloated than when I ate white and they are so much better for you! A great source of fibre and it makes eating carbs alot less naughty! Just swapping your bread over will make you feel a million times better believe me!

7. Treat yourself - Cheat day is something I am all for! There are always going to be times when you seriously fancy that chocolate bar or some cheeky sweets! I think one day a week is fine to relax and eat what you want! Without these days it would definitely be harder to keep up the dieting and when you've been good a treat really does feel like a treat, not an everyday snack!

8. Make Your Goals Realistic & Attainable - Now I did touch on this back in my 'Motivation' post! We all need goals that are attainable. Wishing to loose half a stone in a week is pointless. It is isn't going to happen. Nor is staring at photos of Michelle Keegan - you aren't her so don't strive to be like her. Look at photos of yourself, photos you have from when you've felt better about yourself - you know you can look like that so go for it! Making small goals is the key - loosing 1 lb a week for a month or cutting out crisps for 2 weeks, these are goals that can be done, go for it and you'll be ticking off your accomplishments before you know it!

9. Green Tea - "ewww" will be alot of yours reactions to this one but I have to say - I swear by this stuff! 
I thought I'd give it a go about 3 years ago and I've never looked back! I could drink this all day everyday, I love it and can drink unto 10 cups a day! The fact it comes with so many benefits is a bonus! It boots metabolism, is a great source of anti-oxidants, lowers stress levels, seriously hydrating and a perfect 0 calories per cup! The list goes on! And if you aren't a fan... try green tea with lemon, or ginger! Just don't add sugar... that defeats the object!

10. Swap Your Snacks - Snacking is one of those things that no-one can seem to agree on. One diet tells you to snack on small portions all through the day and others tell you to just stick those 3 main meals! Who knows?!
I'd say if you're hungry, you've had a drink and you're still hungry - the eat! Just make sure what your snacking on is helping not hindering your hardwork!
Instead of picking up that packet of crisps or an easy chocolate bar option - swap it! Fruits, salad, veggies, nuts, some yogurts - these things are great ideas for simple snacks! 
I also Love Ryvita and Special K products! Ryvita bites/thins are great tasting and have hardly any calories - perfect for an inbetween meals munch!

11. Never Shop Hungry & Avoid Those Unnecessary Extras  - Something which you may not have noticed is when you go food shopping. If you go shopping before a meal when you're a bit peakish you are 100x more likley to over spend and come out with things you had no intention of buying! The best thing to do is go after a meal or when you are just not hungry and write a list! Only write down what you need - try and get in and out as quick as your can, avoid those tempting offers and save both money and unwanted calories!
Same as what I said in my last post aswell, plan your meals, take your lunch to work - this will save you money and you will be less likley 

12. Keep Moving - Just 20-30 mintues a day, whatever it is it is better than sitting on your butt! Walking, running, zumba, the gym - get out there and work it girl! 

13. Be Patient - Patience is key. Don't get disheartened if after a week you feel the same and have only shifted half a pound - everything comes in time! The longer you keep at the the easier it will get. 
Try and only weigh yourself once a week - same day, same time, same clothes - this will give you an accurate reading of your progress! 
You will get there in the end - the more progress you see the more motivated you will feel! Take before photos as you may not feel a change over time but looking at photos you will see how far you've come! (I've added a few of mine for you... cringe at 2011 me!)




Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dieting & Me : #2 Motivation & Keeping It

I'm back again with #2 of my new Dieting & Me series!
 I have been loving reading your comments on the first post I uploaded (here) and they have really spurred me on even more to keep going with this healthy eating and changing the way I look at my diet and what I put into my body! 
Today's post is going to be all about that key ingredient to dieting and something that for me decides to go up and down on a regular basis - Motivation!

Along with healthy eating and keeping active, being motivation and determined is what you need to keep going and help you steer away from spiraling back to your old ways.
I'm going to share with you ways of how I motivate myself to stay healthy and what has pushed me to turn my diet around and cut out the excess rubbish.

1. Health & Body
Before, diets for me had always been about loosing weight and fitting into that dress for the weekend. But after having a long hard look at what I was putting into my system recently I realised that it was mostly doing me 0% good
Snacking on chocolate bars and sweets to the extreme has been a daily occurrence and I would rather come from work and just have a bowl or cereal and some biscuits than cook a healthy balanced meal. This is both wrong and utterly lazy!
I know this is doing me absolutely no good and actually is seriously bad and after having my first filling last month I know that sugar is really having an effect on my body so my intake needs to to be cut drastically. (I swear to god I could easily eat a whole tub of Celebrations and not even feel sick.)
I don't just want to have a good body on the outside but on the inside too! 
So I've been getting myself into a routine of 3 meals a day and minimising snacking to help me keep a balance diet. 

  •  Avoid sugary snacks and binge eating/over eating. Did you know just one standard Mars bar contains over 30g of sugar?! Just a few chocolate bars a week meant I could have been having an extra 100g or so of sugar added into my diet and as much as I love chocolate that is seriously not worth it.
  • Have a main meal every evening. I want to make sure that I eat dinner every night, there has been some nights I have happily just sat and eaten biscuits or toast for dinner, which of course left me even more hungry which then lead to me eating more. So a healthy dinner is what I need to keep me satisfied and avoid that desperate need for chocolate at 8pm.
  • Be active for at least 30minutes per day. Even if it is just walking to work and back or cleaning the flat I am going to make sure I doing a bit of exercise everyday. You'd be surprised how much of a difference this can make and as soon as the weather has made up it's mind here and stops raining and blowing a gale then I will be pounding the pavements again and training to hopefully be able to run 5km again with ease.

2. Motivate Yourself With.... Yourself
Now... we are all guilty of  staring endlessly at photos of Beyonce and Jessica Alba, crying into our takeaway's wishing we had their body. 
But at the end of the day - we are not Beyonce and unfortunately we will never be Beyonce (sorry to crush your dreams girls).
We all need a goal that is attainable so using photos of ourselves is the best way to keep that body image we are striving for realistic. 
Everyone has a photo of themselves from a time where they have felt a bit more confident about how they look and feel about themselves, using these are a fantastic way of keeping motivation because at the end of the day - you know you CAN reach that goal.
3. Fashion & Self-Esteem
Fashion is always a major (and possibly even the biggest) reason that I get so upset and frustrated with my body. Every year I am obsessed with so many trends and looks that I just feel I could never pull off.
Going round stores and looking through websites normally consists of me just looking at items and thinking to myself ... "I can't wear that it's to short" or "I can't wear that you'll see my bingo wings" and "You'd see my tummy too much in that".  
I want to be able to wear whatever I want, feel good about myself and get totally involved with all the fashion and trends that I am loving. I want to not feel totally gross on a girly night out with my gorgeous (size 8) friends!
Things like playsuits & cute dresses (without my trusty tights), crop tops, disco pants... the list is endless really - I want to be able to buy these, wear them and not feel conscious of every single piece of me looking horrific - especially with summer on the way!
4. Holiday
And... talking of summer it is just over 5 months now until I will be on a plane to Florida! This is an obvious thing to keep me motivated! 
Knowing I am off on holiday and am going to be both wearing summery outfits and bikinis is enough to make me step away from the pick 'n' mix!
I love buying clothes for holidays and I want to be confident enough to buy all the outfits I dream to wear! And.... bikinis - I haven't felt good in a bikini since... well... ever - I would love to be able to hit those water parks without a care in the world and I'm hoping this "new me" will help achieve this!
5. Bank Balance
Not only does food have an affect on my body but also on my bank balance. Buying lunch at work, treating myself, going out for dinner, takeaways - they all add up and it's definitely something I want to stop. 
Knowing that just taking in my own food to work and avoiding the bakery and supermarkets in my lunch hour can save me pounds and pounds every week is motivation enough to get up a little earlier and make my own lunch!

So there are just a few things which help keep me motivated when it comes to slimming down and staying healthy! Let me know what keeps you motivated in the comments below!

Next time on Dieting & Me - My Top Tips!


Monday, 24 March 2014

Spring Lip Favourites

I've spotted sunshine! Yes it's official this past week or so we have had some lovely days here in the south of England, full of sunshine and summer breezes! 
So I think it's time to say goodbye to some of those dark sultry lip shades we have been wearing through Winter and say hello to some fun, bright lip colours for Spring!
I've narrowed it down (believe me it was hard) to my favourite 8 lip products/colours for Spring for you all!

Spring for me is about cute, fun colours, florals & generally pretty girly things. It's the time where fashion starts to change and it isn't such a crime to wear bright and pastels shades daily and I love it!
So here are my top picks for Spring lip products!
Yes, it's plain to see here that I have a major love for pink lip colours - the amount I own is ridiculous but these are the few I've picked out for a perfect Spring time look!
1. Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Lips - 5 Capella
A total newbie in my lip collection - you may have seen my post on this new collection from Barry M last week. This is just such an easy colour to wear, perfect for everyday and the hi shine it gives is gorgeous!

2. Barry M Lipgloss - 5 Bubblegum
If you've read my blog since it started properly last May you will know how much love I have for these lipglosses! I have worn these constantly for years - not only is this Bubblegum a gorgeous colour (who doesn't love Barbie pink) but it smells like bubblegum too, so yummy! If you are after a new cheap, good quality lip gloss - I highly recommend you try this beauty!

3. Rimmel Apocalips - 102 Nova
Apocalips are a fab collection. Last summer I lived for these. I love this shade, it is my most worn of the collection. Such amazing pigmentation and they stay for ages!

4. Seventeen Stay Pout - Delinquent
Delinquent is a fab fuchsia colour which only needs one swipe to create a flawless look. Perfect to wear both in the day and on a night out, this is a great lipstick and for under £5 I have no complaints. 

5. Mac Lipstick - Impassioned
Obviously a mac lipstick had to be in this post. Impassioned is a bright pink, creamy lipstick which is one of my favourites from my mac lipsticks! Here's my post all about it - here.

6. The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick - Rush Of Pink
A lovely moisturising lipstick, with a slight purple tint this is gorgeous. Slightly sheerer than the rest but keeps the lips hydrated and smooth.

7. L'oreal Colour Riche Lipstick - 371
A peachy pink colour for L'oreal I love that this is a slightly different shade than the rest. Ill definitely be wearing this alot this Spring/Summer - I definitely want some clothes to match it too - cute! 

8. Rimmel Matte Kate Moss - 110
Kate Moss lipsticks are my favs, for the price they are incredible an have such a good range of shades! This is a super bright orangey colour which really lasts. Can't wait to rock this with a tan!

What are the lippies you've been reaching for now the sun has appeared?


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Wishlist : Make-up


Dieting & Me : #1 Falling Off The Wagon

Now.... me, I, Kirstie never really had to think about dieting or about what I ate until I hit about 20 years old (2010)! 
This was not a good time in my life, I put on a couple of stone and was at rock bottom! But before my trip to America I turned it all around and lost 2 stone (you may have read my weightloss post) and since then I have more or less kept it off apart from a certain half a stone or so that likes to float up and down (bastard)!

At the beginning of this year I was feeling a bit low after Christmas and New Year's pig-outs (I'm sure I wasn't the only one) and decided to avoid the junk and try and loose a few lbs! And I did it, a few weeks into the new year and I was down 5lbs and feeling alot better about myself.

Well...... that was then and this is now! 

The past month or so I have slowly fallen back into those bad habits I hate myself for and the pounds I had said goodbye too have decided to show their ugly wobbly faces again!

SO I thought it was about time I changed my diet for good - none of this start and stop dieting and not just to loose a few pounds but to also be healthy! 

I've really started to take a good look at what I'm eating and it is just not the healthy balanced diet that my body deserves!
 I feel like I'm ruining myself - and it is all my own doing!
Laziness and unnecessary over-snacking are definitely my downfall (not too mention sugar) and I'm really looking to change the way I look at food and finally getting myself into a healthy routine and stick to it!
This is where these new posts come in! 
I thought writing about dieting,weight and health would not only be a different blog series for A Yellow Brick Blog to look at but would also be a great help for me to keep determined and stay on the right track! So even if none of you check this out I'm am writing these for myself!
I am in NO way saying that I am a nutritionist or expert on the subject, I'll just be writing about whats worked/working for me and how I feel!

As summer is on the way I'm sure, like me, alot of you have holidays booked  - and the thought of a bikini right now makes me want to hide under my duvet until the leaves fall off the tree's and it's Autumn again - I want this to change, I want to be excited about that summer wardrobe and all the SS14 trends!

So it begins, I'm going to be talking about getting motivated and the best ways to keep that motivation, the changes I am making/have made, my top tips and hopefully eventually share some updates and results with you all! 

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Kirstie's Travel Diaries #16 : San Fran Shopping & The Pretty Reckless Gig

Catch up with #15 here.

Day 16 (15/03/12)

Our first full day in San Francisco and unfortunately the weather was not in our favour (some of these photos were taken on other days, who wants to get their camera out in a down pour?!)
With an exciting evening ahead of us (keep reading) we thought a chilled day out exploring our surroundings and checking out the mounds of shops around us was a fab idea!

The night before we had mainly been looking for food outlets so fashion, beauty and other exciting things hadn't really caught our eye - so today when we actually saw what we were living by we couldn't believe it!
We headed out from our hotel and popped into the H&M which was just a few doors down - I swear H&M is always exactly the same no matter where you are in the world the stock is exactly the same!
Furthur down the hill we found an incredible Forever 21 store - it was literally 3 or 4 stories high - so beautiful!
Then over the road to Westfields! Yup it's not the England that has those, there is one in San Fran too and it is bloomin' well awesome!

This mall had everything and I mean everything! I could have spent days and millions in here - loves it!
As we were strolling round one of the department stores we got into a conversation with some of the workers who told us that BRITNEY had been in there just a few days before - I cannot believe we missed her by just a few hours!!
A place I fell totally in love in Westfield's was - Yoppi! A DIY frozen yogurt place - I am dead serious when I say I was full-on addicted to fro-yo! Some many flavours to choose from and incredible selection of toppings, yum!

The one thing I didn't like about shopping in the mall was the amount of people trying to sell you stuff - ahhh leave me alone! Although a woman sitting my friend down and starting to straighten her hair did make me laugh.... alot.

Daytime coming to an end we decided to head back to our hotel and get ready because - we were off to see The Pretty Reckless!
A couple of months previous when we were back in England, they had announced their tour and the fact they were playing in San Fran the day after we got there was just fate so my friend bought me tickets for my 22nd birthday (what a babe!) and we had been so excited for it ever since!

Now the day was here, so I headed to the off lincense - got some vodka and we headed back to our room to get ready!
 Back at the room we had the genius idea of ordering Dominos to our hotel via their website - and yes it worked and it was amazing! (we were turning into pro hotel regulars!)
Ready - we called a taxi and were on our way to the Bottom Of The Hill club! It wasn't that far away and we were a little nervous as we weren't sure what to expect - but I was so excited it wasn't long before I didn't care where we were and we were in the queue outside chatting away to everyone!

There were a few support acts (who of course we had never heard of) and then it was time for Taylor and her guys to hit the stage! The club was super small - so we had an amazing view - I loved how intimate it was in there!
The were amazing - and my love for them grew even more! I felt so lucky to have seen them live and so close aswell - best birthday present ever!

Now we were exhausted so it was time to call a taxi home (after going outside to spot Taylor strolling upstairs after a smoke of course!) - we had a seriously early morning so it we went back to our hotel, ate the leftover pizza and hit the hay!

NEXT TIME : Tour of San Fran, The Golden Gate Bridge & Alcatraz! 
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