Friday, May 29, 2015

Audiobooks - my tips & recommendations

You guys know I love audiobooks. I told you why you should listen to them, but today I wanted to share my recommendations and tips for choosing the right audiobook for you.

If you know audiobooks aren't for you like you know the back of your hand, that's cool. Stop reading. But I have had several people tell me that they tried audiobooks but they didn't like them.. only for me to dig deeper and discover they chose the wrong book or didn't like the narrator. So if you think you want to give audiobooks a chance, or you have and weren't a fan - then I'm (hopefully) here to help.

Audiobooks - tips and recommendations for choosing the right one!

First, my (sometimes contradictory) tips:

1. Don't listen to something you wouldn't read.
If a book doesn't sound good, you're most likely not going to enjoy it whether you read it or listen to it. Of course, there are exceptions but if you don't like classics, listening or reading them is most likely not going to make a difference. I also don't like to listen to certain genres or types of books - nothing scary or over emotional thanks. You'll learn what genre you most like listening to. Don’t bother investing in audiobooks for topics that you’re not deeply interested in. 

2. Listen to something you wouldn't read.
I know, this makes no sense, but hear me out. I recently listened to The Martian and I am still going on about how much I loved it. A friend of mine read it and she said the sciencey stuff went too far over her head - I totally understand and I 100% credit my love for this book for the narrator - he made it so interesting and understandable. I also stay way more interested in non-fiction books when I listen to them vs. when I read them because I generally don't enjoy non fiction.

3. Pick something easy, familiar or comfortable.
See that comfort zone everyone is telling you to break out of in every other aspect of life? I am here to tell you, grab a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle right smack bang into that comfort zone. You love Harry Potter? Listen to it (cough, Stephen Fry, cough, never Jim Dale, cough). You've seen the movie but haven't read the book? You know you already love that author? You read that book years ago, want to read it again but don't have the time? Listen to it. I need the audiobook to be simple and easy enough that if I need to road rage for a second, I didn't miss much.

4. Step lightly outside of your comfort zone.
After you have listened to a book in your comfort zone, step lightly outside of it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I love Pride & Prejudice, but when it comes to other classics my attention can wander or I will read the same line over and over again without understanding. I still love them, but sometimes I don't want to have to concentrate to read. Hearing someone else read it can help me understand it. It's very close to my comfort zone, but slightly outside of it.

5. Be weary of your emotions or limits.
This might not apply to anyone but myself, but I cannot listen to a sad book. I cry easily, so I don't want to be at the gym or sitting in traffic bawling my eyes out. Also, further to #1, I don't want to listen to anything scary or that will make me squirm. I know some people who listened to books like 50 Shades of Grey - good for you, not for me. I can read books that are sad, or romantic, or scary (sometimes) but I know I don't want to listen to them.

6. Don't multi task too much.
I can listen while running or at the gym, in the car or cleaning the house. I cannot listen whilst working, being on the computer or reading anything else. 

7. Look for books read by the author.
I know a lot of people didn't love Eat, Pray, Love. I think I enjoyed it because it was read by the author. Obviously, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are funny anyway and I just feel like I wouldn't have got the same thing from their books if I had actually read them.

8. Be picky.
I am so picky with choosing an audiobook. Most of the time, I am listening to a book, reading a physical book and reading one on my kindle. Not at the same time, but you get what I mean. I look on my TBR list and I choose a few that would be good to listen to and I see if I can get a hold of them for free or cheap. If I can't, I see if I can get the physical books for free or cheap. Sometimes I go months without listening to an audiobook because the right one did not come along with the right price. I'm picky, but I would rather love a book than hate one because I knew I shouldn't have listened to it.

9. Learn when to give up.
I have stopped more audiobooks than real books. For some reason, it's easier for me to say 'nope' and give up on an audiobook than on a real book. Sometimes the book is just bad and sometimes the narrator sucks. Sometimes I stop listening and start reading. Sometimes I give up altogether. Don't keep listening if you're not enjoying it.

10. Preview the narrator. SERIOUSLY.
Saving the most important for last. Can't stress this enough. I do not like Jim Dale, everybody else does. I listened to The Night Circus and I am quite certain I did not like that book because I do not like his voice or the way he reads. Unfortunately, I didn't realise this until afterwards. I love the Stephanie Plum books and tried to re-read / listen to them recently and I couldn't stand the person reading so I had to switch to ebooks. The narrator can make or break your enjoyment, I am not kidding.

Now! For my recommendations:


Audiobooks - tips and recommendations for choosing the right one!

Bossypants by Tina Fey - This is my first recommendation when people ask about audiobooks.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler - I am not a huge fan of Amy Poehler and not in a mean way, just in a I don't know that much about her way, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - again, not a huge fan but only for lack of knowing anything about him, and I really really enjoyed this.
Other books I haven't listened to but have heard great things are Seriously... I'm Kidding by Chelsea Handler's books

Non Fiction

Audiobooks - tips and recommendations for choosing the right one!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - highly recommend. I did cry a lot though, so it was a strictly while driving book and not at the gym. Bonus, it's read by Edward Herrmann, who was Rory's grandpa and had a fabulous voice. He died last year, sadly. 
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - you might be thinking 'but Kristen I have friends' but seriously. Good book, worth a listen (or read).
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - I actually read this but I think I would have enjoyed the audiobook more as it very sciencey.
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey - This isn't as self help-y as it's sounds, I promise. Very, very interesting.

Awesome narrators
Audiobooks - tips and recommendations for choosing the right one!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I know, I know but it's read by Patrick Stewart. Need I say more?
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - read by the author, seriously absolutely brilliant.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - if you haven't read this, I would recommend the audiobook over the real thing. It's read by Gilbert and I enjoyed it, though not sure if I would have if I'd physically read it.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman - This is a great book, and a fabulous audiobook. It's read by Rob Reiner - unfortunately it is abridged, but it's still good.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - read by Sissy Spacek. Seriously, I have both read and listened to this and I just love love love the audiobook.
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe - read by James Earl Jones. His voice is probably more famous than his face.
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy - read by Alan Rickman you guys. Alan Rickman!
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - I don't know what it is but I despise Jim Dale's voice. Stephen Fry forever. It's freaking Stephen Fry you guys!

Fiction or Favourites

Audiobooks - tips and recommendations for choosing the right one!

The Martian by Andy Weir - Seriously, this might be my favourite audiobook ever.
The Rosie Project by 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by 
The Help by Kathryn Stockett - this is like listening to the movie, maybe because Octavia Spencer who plays Minny reads the character in the audiobook. So good. Not just one narrator.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I really enjoyed this series, I know some people didn't, but it was like my first dystopian or the like so it was all new and enjoyable to me.
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins - I didn't listen to this because I thought the content would be more suited to reading for me, but it wasn't that bad.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusack  - one of my favourites of all time.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova - I'm actually listening to this right now, so far it's an absolutely amazing book.

These are all my personal recommendations, I have listened to all but one or two and I listened to the samples for the ones I read but did not listen to.

Do you like audiobooks? Do any of these sound like books you'd enjoy listening to?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

(practice) packing for Europe: 25 items = 50+ outfits

If you would like to see all my travel posts, including recaps, tips & recommendations and packing guides, please visit my travel page.

When I say I have been planning what I am packing for Europe for ages I'm not joking. Oh, and when I say planning, I really mean stressing the buggery out.

I seriously lay awake at night wondering if I will look like an idiot in shorts or sneakers. Should I bring 2 pairs of jeans? Is 4 striped tops too many? Should I go completely minimalist, so I have more room to bring home souvenirs? Or should I bring enough so that I don't have to repeat a single outfit? I've annoyed my IRL & online friends with a thousand questions begging their opinions. Apologies friends.

It's no big deal, right? I packed everything in a carry on for Australia, and for a few days in NYC and that was real winter. So summer in Europe should be easy right? I swear, winter is easier. Layers. One type of weather: cold. Done. It's supposed to be warm in Paris, hot in Rome and cold in Dublin. So I need to pack all the things. Seriously, I'm stressing out just writing this.

packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!

I finally sat down and settled on 25 items and made 50 outfits. Woah, right? I didn't need 50 outfits. I don't even need 25 outfits. But it can be done, apparently! I put everything in the carry on and it fit just dandy (with Millie too) but it was too full for my liking. Plus, I don't need 50 outfits, remember? I had to get rid of some stuff.

But I figured I might as well show what I came up with, right? As Thomas Edison said, 'I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work.' That is not relevant at all, so here is a packing list of 25 items that make 50 outfits!

packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!

// Graphic tee (actual from Brookish) // Striped long sleeve tee (actual sold out) // White tee //
// Red striped top // Black cami & Floral cami (actual is reversible Barcelona cami no longer available) // Striped short sleeve tee (actual from Gap, long gone) // 
// Leggings // Blue jeans // Black jeans // Black skirt // Printed shorts (actual from TJ Maxx) //
// Maxi dress (actual is J Crew à la eBay) // Striped dress (actual from stitch fix) // Patterned dress // 
// Oversized cardigan (actual from Express, sold out) // Grey cardigan // Denim jacket // 
// Brown belt // Black flats // Nikes  //Crocs // Scarf // Necklace 1 // Necklace 2 //

The above links are affiliate links, meaning if you click, I get like 2 cents. Thank you!

Here is everything in the bag: Except for underwear etc. Everything fit easy peasy, no rolling or packing cubes or anything fancy, I didn't even extend the bag. Just plopped everything in there. So I could pack it better, just wanted to show that it could fit. With a cat. (Ok, I lied there are 3 things missing in the below photo - the belt and the 2 necklaces, please forgive me). However, as you can see it's a lot and once I put all my makeup, hair stuff, underwear, misc crap in there, it will be chock full and there will be no room for shopping, which is obviously not okay.

packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!

And here are approximately 50-ish outfits: I tried not to get too 'add a necklace, voila it's a new outfit!' so if there are duplicates or outfits too similar, it's not intentional. Also, I'm no fashion blogger. You've been warned.

packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!
packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!
packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!
packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!
packing for Europe - 25 items = 50+ outfits!

A few notes and thoughts:
- Technically, there is only 24 items because the black / floral cami is one cami, but for adaptability sake let's call it 25. 
- The black flats in the pictures are different than the ones I want to bring, not that you can even see them. I ordered these ones, I own them in natural and wore them all over Australia and I wear them to work all the time and they are super comfy so I think I'll be fine.
- The long sleeve striped top is not the one I'm considering taking, the one I want to take is from Target and I just hadn't received it when I took these photos.
- The lighting in our bedroom at 10pm at night is so top notch, and my iPhone really captured all the details but just in case you're curious, there are blue jeans, black jeans and black leggings (separated in the pictures).They do all look the same but they will look different in real life in Europe. Right?
- I will wear a cami under the white tee in public. Apparently this blog doesn't count as public, sorry about that.
- Leggings are for travelling only.
- Sorry about the dirty mirror.
-  I have already decided I'm leaving the Nikes. They are not cute and honestly no more comfortable than my flats. If my feet cry and need sneakers, I'll buy some. But I think I'll be fine. If I had some New Balance sneakers, I'd take them because they are cuter than my Nikes. I'm making the right decision, right?
- I'm considering swapping the denim jacket for the below grey jacket - but then I'll have a grey jacket and a grey cardigan and is that too much grey?

In case you ever wondered what goes on inside the head of a crazy over planner who is also indecisive.. here you go.

So if you are going somewhere and need 50 outfits, I hope this helps you. But like I said, I don't need 50 outfits so I need your help - I think I know what I'm going to cut out thanks to bugging my friends on the weekend, but I would appreciate your opinion. What do I cut out? What don't I need? What is uglier than it's friends?

Guest Post @ Erin in Sydneyland

Hey y'all!! Today I am guest posting at Erin's, who is currently gallivanting around her hometown, and yes I can say y'all because she's from Texas. Okay, I can just write y'all because you don't want to hear me actually say it. She normally lives in Sydney, so basically we are opposite twins. But stop reading this, and go read my post here about what I would miss about the good ol' USA if I ever moved back to Australia!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My 'oh shit, Europe is less than 3 weeks away and my jeans still don't fit' post.

First off - I'd love if you'd check out my interview with Jana for her Interview with a bookworm series! It was such a fun thing to answer, I mean who doesn't love talking about books?! Check it out here.

I haven't been doing my Sunday Sweats posts lately - my bad - but my workouts have been fairly boring anyway, so no biggie. Truth is, I just don't feel like sharing that I'm working out and not seeing results.

I've lost a bit of weight recently, but not enough. I know it is 100% because of my food choices (damn doritos with my nachos) but for the past few days, I have been very well behaved. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do between now and Europe to make those jeans fit any better, short of buying new jeans - which I will have to do if I don't lose a bit more. That's the hard truth right there.

I know I'm not fat. But I'm not happy with myself, and that's what matters. The below photo makes me cringe. My legs are huge and my upper body has zero definition. But I still posted it on instagram, because who cares?

I'm not going to lose 10lbs in 3 weeks, so it's silly to even try. Just gotta make healthy decisions. Eating well and exercising as much as I can - without going overboard on either. Specifically:

1. No gluten. 
Seems obvious, but it's so hard for me to say no to when it's in front of me. If I don't want to be vomiting all over Paris, I need to stop.

2. No snacking.
I'm not a good snacker. I know all the people say smaller meals and snacking is good, but it's not for me. If I am hungry, I need a meal. I don't need snacks, I just eat them because I'm 'supposed' to and that's just extra calories I don't need.

3. No junk.
This is my biggest thing. I fall into a trap of 'well, I'm not going to lose weight so I might as well get a milkshake'. If I had just buckled down months ago, I wouldn't be having to buy new jeans right now.

4. Consistent hard exercise.
No slow running. No easy weights. I need to push myself, and I need to do it almost every day.

5. Running + Weights + Yoga.
Further to the above, I need to do all 3 of the things that I enjoy and that will help me look better. Yes, I'm vain, I know. They also help me feel better as well.

Linking up with Tracy and Alyssa.


Gosh, what a boring post, sorry guys. It's an embarrassing thing to share that you don't like how you look or what you weigh, or that you had plenty of time to lose weight for a trip and you still didn't. I'm trying to remind myself that I need to focus on being healthy and it doesn't matter what the scale says, but it's hard. I don't want it to get to me, because then I will do something stupid like eat 500 calories a day (which will just make me sick anyway).

I'm not feeling super fit and healthy right now, stupid jeans and number on the scale. If you have any suggestions, please throw them at me. Ultimately, I know I should be healthy for my life, not just a trip. Not to mention I know my weight won't affect my trip that much. But it sure would be nice for my jeans to button up, that's all.

Monday, May 25, 2015

My Top 10 Beach Reads

I know today is Memorial Day and most of us won't be blogging, but I really wanted to participate in Top Ten Tuesdays but it clashed with Training for Tuesday, so today you get Top Ten Mondays! I am sharing my top 10 favourite 'beach' reads. Now, I can't remember the last time I was at a beach (seriously, it was when I lived at home) so you don't necessarily need a beach to read these - though it is preferred because when isn't a beach preferred?

In my opinion, 'beach reads' are light, fluffy and good. They might not be literary masterpieces, but they won't require you to bring a box of tissues with you or make you really ponder life. They are to be enjoyed and nothing more - which sometimes is just what I need.

Top 10 Beach Reads

1. Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins

These books are adorable. They are light, funny and just all around cute.

2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Honestly, anything by Rainbow Rowell but particularly this one. I don't know if I - personally - would read Eleanor & Park on a beach.. in public.. without tissues.

3. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

I love me some Moyes, but I wouldn't recommend Me Before You or The Girl You Left Behind for the beach. One Plus One? Absolutely. It's a wee bit heavier than a typical beach read, but very enjoyable and it didn't make me cry (and I cry pretty easily!).

4. Good In Bed / In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

I read these books years ago - like, even before the In Her Shoes movie. I really enjoyed them and I think they are the perfect vacation reads. In Her Shoes is longer than Good In Bed but they are both good - light, a bit cheesy and a bit funny. I've been meaning to reread them for awhile now. Good In Bed has a sequel but I haven't read it yet. Maybe next time I go to the beach?

5. Bridget Jones Series by Helen Fielding 

I haven't read the 3rd one because I kind of refuse to, but nothing beats the first one in my opinion anyway. I absolutely adore Bridget Jones and think we would absolutely be besties, if you know.. she was real. Love these books!

6. Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

I really loved this series. I doubt you'll get through 13 books on your beach vacation, but if you do I'll just go ahead and warn you - stop at 11. 12 and 13 are just not good.. in my opinion. But this is the kind of series where you could read a couple and not really care about what happens because they are enjoyable on their own (like The Stephanie Plum books), very light and funny.

7. Emily Giffin or Jane Green books

Emily Giffin and Jane Green are - in my opinion - great 'beach read' authors. I'd recommend Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Giffin and The Beach House and Jemima J by Green, but they both have a ton of books, so plenty to choose from.

8. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Anything by Judy Blume is a winner in my book but this one holds a special place in my heart. Plus, it has Summer in the title which is the best time to be at the beach.

9. The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty.

All of them are great, but in my opinion the first 3 are amazing, absolutely hilarious and perfect for vacation (or any time).

10. Anything by a comedian

Yep, cheating. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chelsea Handler to name a few. Perfect beach reads!

Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish. And yes, I do realise I have recommended 20+ books instead of 10.

Do you have any beach read recommendations?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Confesh Sesh.

I know today isn't Wed-nes-day, but whatevah trevah (I want you to read it the way I say it). These aren't even really confessions, they are just random thoughts. I think it's about time for a gif filled post, don't you?

I'm not ridiculously impressed with the Bad Blood video. It's one of my least favourite songs on the album, but I thought the video would be interesting. I mean, it wasn't bad, but I didn't fall off the couch from the amazingness. Meh. Is it bad that I was really excited for the actors who play the characters that Taylor's cats are named after?

I briefly flirted with watermarking my photos. I updated a few posts but then the 'can't be bothered' gene kicked in and I gave up. So, if you see a few watermarked photos, you'll know why. Ain't nobody got time for all that, and if someone wants to steal my photos they are going to. Please, go ahead and steal my fancy photos taken with my fancy iphone.

^^ That gif can also be used for how I feel about the Vampire Diaries finale. I'm still sad about Caroline's mom.

I signed up for Ebates yonks ago but never really used it. I was partial to my Swagbucks. Recently, I decided to do a little testaroo to see, and I used Ebates for one week and made $30, which takes me a couple of months using Swagbucks. Okay, I did order $900 (!!!) worth of stuff from Staples for work,  which got me $18 so that helped, but even still, if I had used Swagbucks I only would have made 900 SB from that, which is $9. So, um.. what? No brainer, right?

 I order a lot of stuff from Staples for work, but this could get dangerous for my shopping addiction. I still like Swagbucks and I will continue to use them for other things (check out Steph's posts,  all the information you need) besides shopping. By the by, if you sign up with Ebates using my link (here) I could make $75 which is $75 more than $0.

Anywhoozits. I have been binge watching Reign. I dig it. You might dig it too if you like those sort of shows / movies. But because of, you know, learning history in school I'm like I KNOW WHAT'S COMING and I think they should just change the story for a TV show just to keep us on our toes.

The scale hasn't budged recently so I need to not see it for awhile. I probably also need to stop eating chips, ice cream and doritos with my nachos.

I did a leg workout on Monday for the first time in forever. My motto is, if I can lift it, I will lift it. So I jump straight back into where I was even though that was awhile ago and I might be a tad sore, so perhaps I should ease into it? Nope. This bites me in the butt every time because then I take time off because of the pain, which makes the pain just as bad next time. My legs are still useless. Running was hilarious. The below is an actual video of me running.

Everyone at work always asks me what's wrong when I can't walk properly, I just say 'I'm sore' and this one girl was like 'well that'll teach you to workout, won't it? That's why I don't workout!' and I was just like... mmkay. Next you going to tell me that the Taco Bell and McDonalds you eat everyday is good for you?

^^ Is that from a real housewives show? She looks fun, I want to be her friend.

Did I mention I'm going to Europe soon? Less than a month, in case you were wondering.

I'll give you one guess for what I'm most excited about.

Being excited for food might be a good indication of my eating habits and why my jeans don't fit. Don't worry, there is an obvious solution - new jeans!

Do you use Ebates? Or watch Reign?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guide to the Kentucky Derby

I've seen the Derby on tons of people's bucket lists and I can totally understand why. We went to the Derby in 2012, 2014 & 2015. In 2013 and 2016 we went to Oaks (the day before Derby).. I thought I'd share everything I know about the Derby and Churchill Downs. Obviously 2015's Derby has come and gone but there's always next year - or the next, or the next!
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.
Since I don't have to worry about a hotel, I don't have a lot of recommendations (but here's a good list). The area that Churchill Downs is in is not the best, so I would recommend staying downtown, the Highlands or in another area if you're planning on being in Louisville for more than the Derby. Lots of people rent their houses out, but it's crazy expensive (as are hotels). If you can stay with someone that will be your cheapest bet, that's for sure!


First Saturday of May

How many people

2012 saw over 165,307 people in attendance. 2015 saw 170,513.

How much

General Admission $55 (advance online) $60 (day of) - you're charged a fee online though, so you don't really save any money!
2nd Floor Grandstand $610 for a two-day ticket package including one (1) reserved seat in Section 227 and one (1) ticket to The Taste of Derby, held on Thursday April 30, a food & wine event. Prices do NOT include the $5.00 per seat per day ticketing fees or $25 handling fee)
Luxury Trackside Club $3,400 per person.

Update: the prices increased in 2017 and you can find the info here.

I'm pretty sure most of the people reading my blog will be good old general admission folks, so that's the experience I'm going to be talking about.

Important information

1. Your purse can't be more than 12 inches in any dimension. You can bring a baby/diaper bag, but only if you have a corresponding child with you. Speaking of children: I think it's like bringing your kid to any other event where there is alcohol and gambling. People do it, you won't be the only one, but don't get mad when your kid steps on glass because some drunk person dropped it.
2. No cameras with detachable lenses. No selfie sticks either.
3. No coolers, but you can bring sealed plastic water bottles.
4. Hope for no rain, or take a poncho—no umbrellas allowed. No backpacks either.
5. Gates open early at 8am with post time for the first race at 10:30am. Post time for the Kentucky Oaks is approximately 5:45pm. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24pm. 
6. Infield folks: No tents, but you can bring chairs using gate 3 only. Blankets & Tarps can only be taken through gate 1 & 3. Get there early.
7. Taxis are not popular in Kentucky. Park far away if you can. Traffic will be a madhouse. 
8. Try not to lose anyone, and don't count on instagramming the day away. Cell service can be spotty.
9. Oaks is the day before and is slightly cheaper than the Derby. Most people wear pink, though you don't have to. You can buy tickets to both days for $80 (in advance).
10. Weather is all over the place - in 2012 it was 80s, in 2013 it rained all day. 2014 was lovely though not too hot, about 73. 2015 was 77 or so and it was gorgeous.
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Furlong: an eighth of a mile. The Kentucky Derby is approx 10 furlongs.
Hand: a measurement equaling 4 inches used to measure the height of a thoroughbred.
Win bet: a wager on a horse to finish first.
Place bet: wager on a horse to finish first or second.
Show bet: wager on a horse to finish third or better.
Exacta or perfecta: a wager on two specific horses to cross the finish line in first and second place in exact order.
Trifecta: a wager picking the first three finishes in exact order.
Superfecta: a wager where you have to pick the first four finishers in exact order.
Scratched: when a horse is scratched from a race, it will not be running. I heard different accounts on whether you get a refund or not if this happens.
Bridge jumper: a person who bets an unusually large sum on a single horse. As in, if they lose they'll be jumping off the nearest bridge.
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Where to go

General admission can get you into the paddock area or infield. Basically anywhere standing room only. You can walk back and forth in between the areas (and pass all the fancy people in their roped off areas).

The paddock area is basically all concrete and cobblestones. It's slightly more fancy - not by being fancy, just because it has less drunk college kids. You can see the horses walk buy as well. However, 8 hours on those cobblestones hurt and there is nowhere to sit down and it's packed. In 2012 & 2013 we went to the paddock area and it was a good time but my whole body was sore the next day.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

In 2014 & 2015 we were in the infield, and they were both 10 times better than 2012 & 2013. Yeah, it's not super classy but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. You can bring chairs and relax, the portable toilets are right there. There are also 'real' toilets close by, we rarely use the portable ones. There are parts of the infield that are supposedly more family friendly, but I guess we don't go there.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

What to eat

You can bring a food in a plastic bag, or box lunch in a clear container, but we had never done it before 2015. This year, we (our friends) brought chips, sandwiches and all sorts of goodies. Plus, you are allowed to bring bottled water as long as it's sealed. Otherwise, there is a ton of food at the Derby. No, you're not gonna get sushi or a salad, it's all pizza, turkey legs, chicken tenders and hamburgers. Nothing wrong with that, it goes well with the beer.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

What to drink
If you like fruity stuff, I recommend the Oaks Lily. If you like mint and bourbon, go for a Mint Julep. I normally have one or two Lily's and drink Bud for the rest of the day. This year - and I think it's happened in previous years as well - they run out of Bud Light, so we drink Budweiser till they run out of that.

Mint Julep 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky
  • Silver Julep Cups
Oaks Lily 
  • 1 oz. Grey Goose® Vodka
  • 4 oz. Cosmopolitan Mix

I really love my Lily's.
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Of course, you can get other things as well - beer, wine, soft drink, water. You also get fancy souvenir cups with the mint juleps and oaks lily. I don't recommend trying to carry like 10, you will drop them and then you'll have none.

What to wear

This is a mix. I've seen people wear jeans and a tshirt (infield) and people in fancy evening gowns. I like to think I go somewhere in between. Don't forget your hat or fascinator - though it's not mandatory. 

Oh quick tip - don't be 100% on any outfit. The weather is fickle and if it turns out to be a cold day, that romper won't be such a good idea - or if it rains, you might want to wear jeans and sneakers. Just have a backup idea!

I love to use Rent The Runway for dresses, but you do run the risk of someone else wearing the same thing.. Although with 170,000 people, you should be fine. Except if you wear a Lilly Pulitzer dress, then I can almost guarantee that you will see someone wearing the same thing. My black dress was from JC Penney's and my mint maxi was from Francesca's. Both my 2015 and my 2013 dresses were from Rent The Runway.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

I would highly, highly, highly discourage wearing heels. Seriously, learn from my bad experience. It's never a good idea. I would also recommend a fascinator over a hat. Hats get hot and they bump into people. I would recommend you have a fabulous best friend to make your fascinator because those things are expensive! If you don't have that option, try and plan ahead - they go on super sale right after Derby. 

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

As for guys - I mean, you can see what our husbands wear. It's quite warm and they both hate being hot, so shorts and a polo is where it's at. KC might wear a suit or at least a button down if it was cooler, but there's no chance when it's 70 or above. But plenty of guys do dress up.. Also, plenty of guys end up with their shirts off by noon, so there's that.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

I gathered a few sneaky pictures of what people were wearing this year.. as you can see, it's a whole lot of everything. Cowboy boots, jeans, shorts, no shirts, hawaiian shirts, fancy dresses, summer dresses, hats, fascinators, beer hats - you name it, you'll see it at the Derby.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

What to do
Some guy asked us 'what is there to do?' and the answer is... Not much. It's like a big tailgating party, with horses that run by every so often. There is a Vineyard Vines tent that has a band and people cram in there to get free stuff. Other than that, you walk around, people watch, eat, drink, bet. There isn't much 'to do' at the Derby. It's still a fun day though, in my opinion.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

What to do afterwards
If you are game enough (or sober enough) to go out afterwards, people might tell you to go to Fourth Street Live. I personally would not recommend that because it's for the super young crowd, it's expensive and it's just not my jam. I recommend Bardstown Road - if you are catching a taxi (which is really your only option), ask to be taken to O'Sheas at Bardstown Road. It's full of everyone, from 21-50 (or older!) and around O'Sheas there are plenty of other bars. Lots of live music, DJs, beer gardens, dance floors - whatever you're after, I recommend Bardstown Road.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

My tips

1. Don't wear heels. I promise, even if you wear heels everyday and can run 6 miles in heels, the Derby will kill your feet. The cobblestones, the standing around, just don't do it. I know my flip flops don't look as cute as heels but guess what? The one year I wore heels, I could barely walk the next day my feet were in so much pain. I am sitting on the floor in the picture below (so classy) because I just couldn't stand anymore. If you think I look miserable, it's because I was.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

2. Bring cash - and lots of it. The ATM line gets insane after 1pm or so. You will waste 45 minutes or more in that line, to what - wait again in the betting or drink line? Bring more cash than you need. A bud light (in 2015) was $8 and the Lily was $11. A pizza was $8. Add in tips and your money will be gone before you can say Mint Julep.
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

3. Get there early. We've arrived at all different times - after 12, before 12, 10am... the earlier the better. The lines to enter Churchill Downs can be half a mile or longer. Not to mention with 170,000 people around you, it gets a bit crowded and it's nice to be there before that. Because we got there so early, we got a huge patch of grass for our group, people who arrived after 11 had no chance and started setting up on the cobblestones and such.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

4. Buy your tickets in advance. I know I said above that it doesn't really save you money, it's still a great idea to buy your tickets in advance because then it's not such a huge hit in one go, and you can go straight to the entrance without also having to buy your tickets first. Highly recommend.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

5. Sunscreen. Sometimes I'm a bit cocky / stupid - I'm Australian, the Kentucky sun can't burn me! Guess what, it can and it has and it will again. Only on Derby though. Bring sunscreen, lather it on several times a day. Believe me. I hope this guy was wearing sunscreen.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

6. Buy a program and bring a sharpie. Pens don't really work. Programs are good if you want to bet, they are only like $5.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

8. Place your Derby bets well before Derby. The day itself is called the Kentucky Derby, but race 11 is the actual Derby. There are races before and after the Derby, but the Derby is the big one. Anywho, don't wait until race 10 ends to attempt to place your bets for race 11 - you can line up and the chances of you getting to the betting window before race 11 are so slim it's not even funny. Did I mention there is like an hour in between race 10 and 11? Seriously. This was one of the betting things at like race 7, and we'd been in line for at least 20 minutes already.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

9. Leave before or well after the Derby. As mentioned above, race 11 is the big one. If you're sticking around, try and wait like half an hour. Leaving immediately after race 11 is insane. We stood in a herd of people, barely moving for like 20 minutes. The tunnels were not designed for 100,000 people to leave at once. Imagine a zillion more people in the below photo.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

10. Don't drink too much. It's a long day. I have seen it all - sleeping, inappropriate PDAs, passed out in the bathrooms, screaming and fighting, vomiting, climbing the porta potties and falling off... Just don't do it. Be responsible and courteous.

Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

Most importantly - Have fun!! Don't stress, go with fun people and have a blast. It's such a fun day!
Guide to the KY Derby! Everything you need to know!

So there you have it - this is all the info I can think of, if you have any specific questions don't hesitate to ask.

Have you ever been or is it on your bucket list?