Surviving Those Manic Mondays with Mamma Chia (GIVEAWAY)

Mondays are classically the worst day of the week. This semester my Mondays are especially tedious – I leave home before most people in my house are awake, and I arrive home when everybody is getting ready to sleep. Keeping my energy levels up and not crashing during these sort of days is a challenge. I do my best to avoid the allure of vending machine snacks, but the best way to keep from temptation is keeping an alternative snack on hand. My favorite is the Mamma Chia squeeze pouches. I’ve been buying them, along with the chia beverages, for ages and found out that they’ve recently added some exciting new options to their lineup.

Mamma Chia Coconut Mango

The chia squeeze comes in 6 different flavors, of course I have my hardcore favorites. Each pouch contains omega-3s, protein, and fiber. Available flavors include: Blackberry Bliss, Cherry Beet, Green Magic, Mango Coconut, Strawberry Banana, and Wild Raspberry. Of the six, my favorites are Cherry Beet, Mango Coconut, and Strawberry Banana. The Cherry Beet one is insanely good, I wish my local BJs stocked this flavor because I would just buy boxes and boxes of this one. The great thing is that the Mamma Chia squeeze does not require refrigeration, and tastes just as good cold or room temperature. This means that I can enjoy it at the start of my day all the way to on the commute home at the end of my day!

Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze TargetChia Squeeze

I was not familiar with Mamma Chia’s new granola clusters until recently and I was so excited when I found out. I feel like I’ve been on a ton of health blogs, vlogs, and instagrams that feature yogurt as a breakfast. But personally, I cannot just have a yogurt and a couple of berries or I end up feeling completely unsatisfied. I need the texture and chewing, so I often turn to chia, granola, or flax seed. Mamma Chia’s granola clusters offer more flavorful options like Wild Blueberry Clusters, Vanilla Almond Clusters, Cinnamon Pecan Clusters, and Honey & Oats Clusters. Each serving is choc-full of omega-3s and 10g of soy and dairy free protein. My favorite? It’s a tie between the Wild Blueberry Clusters and the Cinnamon Pecan Clusters for sure.

Mamma Chia at TargetMamma Chia Granola

I have long been a massive fan of the Mamma Chia Organic Vitality Beverages. I will literally talk about them to anyone who will listen. I get questions about them all the time. Basically, the big deal is that in each bottle you get 4g of protein, 95mg of calcium, 25% of your dietary fiber, and your entire days worth of Omega-3s (2500mg). Some days are so busy or stressful that I can’t sit down to eat an entire meal, so I’m always glad when I have one of these drinks on hand. They don’t necessarily make me feel really full, but they definitely pick me up and help me make sure that I’m not running on empty. They come in these flavors: Blackberry Hibiscus, Cherry Lime, Coconut Mango, Cranberry Lemonade, Guava Mamma, Raspberry Passion, and Strawberry Lemonade. I don’t even have a favorite here, they’re all good. But if I had to choose… I’d say Coconut Mango. It’s so refreshing and not overly sweet.

Mamma Chia Coconut DrinkBack to School with Mamma Chia

Mamma Chia have also released new Organic Chia Seed Energy drinks. In the flavors Blackberry Blast, Cherry Charge, Grape Power, and Raspberry Razz, these buzzing beverages not only off the same 2500mg of Omega-3s as the regular chia drink, but also 95mg of caffeine (about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee), as well as fiber and protein. If you click through the product details on the Mamma Chia website, you can score a $0.55 off coupon and give these a try!

Mamma Chia have been kind enough to offer The NYC Talon readers a chance to win a prize package of Mamma Chia products to try at home! Enter to win:

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Mamma Chia Back to School Giveaway

*Product was sent to me to facilitate this feature, no other compensation was provided. Opinions are my own.*

Review: Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic Multi-Finish ‘Glambition’ Eye Palette

Influenced by textiles and layering, the new Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic multi-finish palettes were on my radar since early this summer. While debating whether or not to splurge on a new palette, the folks at influenster sent me one of my own (a.k.a. that was my disclaimer). Cue my personal happy dance! I thought I would share some of my thoughts about this collection – specifically the Glambition palette – that I was lucky enough to receive.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Blogger Influencer

At first glance, the packaging is very luxurious and sleek. The Marc Jacobs eyeshadow palettes always remind me of razor clams. Crack them open and its treasure is less edible and more exciting. I’m not going to lie, there is a ton of brand recognition cachet involved in the whole experience. I would be less thrilled if ‘Marc Jacobs’ was spelled out across the front in silver font. The clasp is not at all flimsy, in fact I love hearing the snap when it’s opened or closed. It’s sturdy, travel friendly, a luxury product without being ridiculous. Would I feature this in a bunch of beauty themed Instagram flat lays? Yes, yes I would.

Marc Jacobs BeautyMarc Jacobs Beauty Eye Conic Review

Each of the eye-conic palettes feature a nod to the textures of lamé, silk, satin, and velvet. The Glambition palette contains seven shades: She Was, Infamous, Known For, Seeking, The Most, Over The Top, and Glamour. You might have noticed that the shades, when said consecutively all bead into a sentence: She was infamous, known for seeking the most over the top glamour. I actually didn’t realize that for a while, haha! I’m really curious as to what the other palettes from this collection say! It’s such a clever little detail.

Marc Jacobs Beauty ReviewMarc Jacobs Glambition Palette

Glambition is the bronze and bare set of the collection, it’s colors are eye wardrobe essentials. What makes them special is the specific shades for this palette, the quality of the formulation, and their blending ability. My first impression was that the shadows, and especially the The Most shade was that they were very buildable. Initial application is velvety, but the more you push the shade around – with your makeup brush or even your fingertips – the consistency becomes lighter and more even.

Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic PaletteGlambitionMarc Jacobs Eye Conic Palette Review

It’s not an intimidating palette. It’s more like a palette that you can’t go wrong with – all the colors are usable, which means that at a retail value of $49, or $7 a shade, this is actually reasonably affordable. Unlike more expensive or similarly priced palettes that you won’t get much use out of because the colors are not conducive to every-day wear. However, if you’re more adventurous, the other five palettes of the collection offer a variety of other shades including plums, deep purples, lovely emeralds, sky blues, and dark navy.

Check out the entire line at Marc Jacobs Beauty or find them at Sephora.

*This product was complimentary, received in order to facilitate this review.*

Online Beauty Shop Black Hairspray, Your Go-To Source for Remy Hair

*This is a sponsored post.*

how to save money on remy hair

As a born and raised New Yorker, beauty supply stores have often been my source for everything from lip gloss to bleaching powders, toners, false lashes, and cosmetics. Black Hairspray is the online version of the local beauty supply shop. The perks of this online shop include a much more extensive range of hair and beauty products.

Black Hairspray

Black Hairspray prides themselves on offering a wide selection of remy hair (sometimes known as remi hair). In the beauty industry, remy hair is most known for being long lasting, shiny, and tangle free. It can be lightly styled to suit a range of looks. The best quality remy hair tends to boast uni-lateral cuticle direction, a fancy way of saying that all the hair follicles go in one direction. Basically, the hair was collected from the same donor and all the hair strands are aligned in the natural direction as it grew (not to be mistaken with virgin hair, which must meet much more vigorous standards).

Black Hairspray offers human hair, a human hair blend, standard Remy and synthetic. They also offer unprocessed remy, weaves, wigs, lace wigs, and Wet and Wavy.

Black Hairspray2

Among all those options, they carry some of the most popular brands including: Bobbi Boss Indi Remi, Saga Remy, Outre Velvet, Sensationnel Goddess, Bohyme, and many more.

buy real remy hair online

Remember how I mentioned cuticle direction? Non-remy hair is often collected from a variety of sources, and can often be pulled from a variety of random suppliers. That doesn’t mean this hair is “bad”, it’s simply different quality hair. Non-remy hair has a shorter lifespan and can tend to shed, tangle, and be less soft and more dull. Because the hair isn’t being sold with attention to cuticle direction, cuticle directions become mixed up, and the blended hair is sometimes put through a process that removes the cuticle altogether. There are a lot of great articles about this, and definitely can shed (see what I did there?) some light on the remy hair process to help guide you through your hair purchase.

When you’ve decided what hair suits you best, definitely give Black Hairspray a peek. They’ve got a great selection and competitive pricing – whether you’re looking for Human Hair Edges or something along the lines of a Brazilian Virgin Remy Lace Wig. They’ve got you covered – plus, they also offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more!

black hairspray logo

How to Actually Save Money on Textbooks this Semester

I can’t believe it’s time to head back to school already! To be fair, I’ve been wishing it was the fall all summer. I am not a big fan of sweltering heat, and the city has this great way of making you feel like you’re stuck in a crockpot with the lid on. I was literally melting this Monday during the eclipse, everyone was out in full force and the city was experiencing a heat wave in the triple digits. Google hosted an eclipse viewing party that I was lucky enough to be invited to, so I abandoned my air conditioning for charcoal ice cream, viewing glasses, and picnic blankets at the 14th street park. It was a pretty interesting experience, I imagine those in totality had a much more dramatic viewing. Anyways, this all has nothing to do with textbooks except to say that back to school means back to purchasing a large number of expensive textbooks for class! Hooray! Not. As it happens, I am entering my last semester before graduation (so much excitement) and thought I’d share a few tips for saving money on textbooks that I’ve picked up along the way.

how to save money on college textbooks

Rent Your Textbook

Renting your textbook tends to be much, much cheaper than purchasing it. However, there are some pros and cons to consider.

Pros: Renting is cheaper, which means more money for food, Starbucks, weekend adventures, etc. If you’re a responsible person who does not have food-related accidents when studying, doesn’t lose things, and takes good care of books then this might be a great option for you. I rented an Italian textbook for about $36 for three months, a used version of the textbook would have cost me around $435. It was well worth it since we had to bring the book to class every meeting and there was only one copy in the library that had limited availability.

Cons: You have to be sure that you are renting from a reliable source. Even then I recommend photographing the book when you receive it, and the book when you send it back. Most rental agreements have strict guidelines, so if you and your pricey rental get stuck out in the rain you can easily end up having to pay the top price for that book. Also, you can face a hefty surcharge if you don’t return your book in time – read all the fine print and set up a reminder on your phone so you get your book shipped back and in good time.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Books with E-Text & Course Software

If you’ve been in college for more than one semester you have probably heard of Pearson MyLab, e-text, MyPearson, etc. Instructors will often ask that you purchase a textbook that comes with access to Pearson or a similar online platform where you will participate in some coursework. Buying a used textbook can be inexpensive, but buying the textbook with access to the platform can be very pricey. There’s no getting around needing access to the platform, as it’s often a strict requirement. Here’s how I’ve saved money on these before:

First you must have your course ID/code. Once you log-in to Pearson using your student email you can locate your school, course, and class code. You can purchase access to the course, or to the course and e-textbook – which is a ebook version of the required class textbook. I don’t recommend doing the latter unless you really need to, I bought access to the ebook for a science class and never even opened it. You have to be logged onto the platform to use it, so it isn’t like you can access it on your kindle or cellphone during class. Your best bet it buying access to the course, then purchasing a used textbook (if required by your instructor) or borrowing the book from the school library.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Free College Textbooks? Raid the School Library.

Chances are the school library – especially at SUNY and CUNY schools – is holding multiple copies of your course textbooks. Often the school will require instructors to submit a listing of required reading for their classes, then the school will purchase or source copies of that material to be made available to the student body during the semester. Borrowing is usually limited to a few hours or a day or two. But that’s fine because that’s all you’ll need. Set aside a day at the beginning of the semester and copy out the material you’ll need for your classes. Start by highlighting the readings in your syllabus, and copying those sections out. Many schools now have copying stations that allow you to save your copies as a PDF rather than printing it all out at once. If you prefer to have a hard copy, or if your instructor prefers it, head to a local Staples or printing center to get your copies bound. It usually costs anywhere from $2-5 depending on how many pages you’ve got, which is still a small cost compared to purchasing the textbook.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Ask a Friend

I learned quickly that asking around on the first day of class is a great way to pick up great tips and tricks for getting through the semester. I had a communications course where, when waiting for the professor to arrive, other students divulged that the $178 textbook was made available for free online by the publisher. Sites like RateMyProfessor allow former students to let you know whether the instructor uses required course material at all. In other cases, you’ll find the student bookstore will (surprisingly) offer better prices than the lowest price found online. I’ve even given my textbooks to classmates when I found out that they registered for a course I already took.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Consult School Bulletin Boards

Pretty old school, but people still post advertisements on school bulletin boards. You’ll find everything from employment opportunities, internships, tutoring, events, school club ads, and textbook offers. Also look around on Facebook for student groups, where people occasionally sell their textbooks and tutoring services too.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Shop Smart

I was introduced to DealOz by my older sister, and I use the site for everything from buying DVDs (yes, I still buy them on occasion) to buying course textbooks and the books I read for fun (shameless plug for my Goodreads account). Here’s a step-by-step way to save money when buying textbooks online:

1. Verify the ISBN number on your syllabus, especially if you’re not allowed older and/or international editions. If you are allowed those, then look for them as they are often cheaper.
2. Plug in the ISBN on DealOz, which will find the best price for New, Used, e-books, International Editions, and Rental textbooks.

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3. Locate the cheapest book, and open up the link. DealOz now has its own cash back rewards program, which you can sign up prior to shopping OR you can use an alternative one…
4. Once you’ve added your textbook to your cart, open a new tab and search for the rewards program of choice. My two favorites are ShopAtHome and Ebates (affiliate link). You just search the store you plan on buying your book from and click “Shop Now” when you find it.

ebates abebooks textbooks

Shop At Home and Ebates do not always carry the store you are looking for, nor do they always carry the same stores – just something to keep in mind when comparing cash back percentages. Either a new tab or window will open taking you to the website, where your textbook should still be waiting in the cart. Check out as you would normally. Ebates and Shop At Home will send users an email once the order has gone through and the cash back has been credited to your account.

In case you’re wondering if it works, here’s the cash back that I’ve received (actual checks, yes) in the few years that I’ve used the service:

shopathome cash back

If you’re taking an English course you might have received a syllabus with a plethora of course texts. They can often be books that don’t fall into the realm of “textbooks”, we’re talking novels and paperbacks here. Here’s an ebay hack for getting the best price – and remember to go through ebates or shopathome before checking out!

1. Search for your book(s) on DealOz, if ebay has the cheapest or close to the cheapest sellers, open the down (+) menu. Open up each “Buy Now” link in individual tabs.

how to save on books on ebaypart2
2. Review each tab, each listing for that book on ebay (there is usually between 4-5, and should take no more than a minute to do this). Look for the listing that features a promotion such as “Buy 3, get 1 free” or “Buy 2, get 20% off”.
3. When you find the listings attached to promotions, add them to your cart. This may result in having multiple versions of the same book, from different sellers in your cart. Do NOT check out yet.

ebay promotions books
4. Repeat this action for the rest of the books on your purchase list.
5. When you’ve found all the books, with promotions, and added them to your cart, open your cart up.
6. Ebay splits your cart into sellers, and when it comes to books there are some larger book sellers (often tied to some goodwill industry or another) that offer a variety of promotions. You’ll notice that the books you added individually have now been split up into sellers and promotions. You can immediately tell if you have qualified for any promotion, as there will be a check mark and a notice. You’ll then want to use the process of elimination to find the best deals for you – being careful not to purchase the same book twice.

shopping online for books
7. Once you’ve organized your cart, bundling up your books to get the best price (and often free shipping too), go back to your rewards site (ebates or shopathome), search for ebay and click “Shop Now”. When you’re taken back to the ebay website, click on your cart, and check out individually for each seller.

Tah-dah! It took a little bit of leg work, but if you’ve worked through this process then you not only found the cheapest price for a book, you then saved money with a promotion, and then also earned a little cash back! I recently bought 5 books from one seller for $12, with free shipping AND I earned a few cents cash back. I would have paid at least $10 more if I hadn’t bundled them up on the promo, and much more than that had I not used DealOz and purchased them at the school bookstore instead.

how to save money on college textbooks this semester

Have any of these worked for you? What are your favorite ways to save during the school year? Let me know in the comments below!

 

NYC’s L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates

Best Gifts in NYC

I recently was dismayed to discover that one of my favorite chocolate shops, Xocolatti, had closed down their brick and mortar and moved their location strictly online. The joys of having a local chocolatier often include being able to view the chocolates in person, question a shop keeper about their contents and flavors, and occasionally sample the chocolates before committing to a purchase. Storefronts are also a way to connect customers to the chocolatiers personal vision and style, is the product innovative? Is a boutique chocolate shop with only extremely dark chocolates or something more down-home and decadent? You tend to get an impression of what kind of chocolates you’re in for when you walk in. Support your local chocolatier folks! Who knows how long they’ll be around for.

Chocolate Shops in NYC

While Shaineal Shah’s Xocolatti has vacated their Prince St premises, another chocolate shop has since made SoHo their home. L.A. Burdick, whose Flatiron location was one of my favorite shops, relocated last year to 156 Prince St.

SoHo Chocolate StoreBest Hot Cocoa in NYC

The location, much like their Flatiron one, is adorable – wood shelving, tables, benches, warm tones, sconces, striped wallpaper, and framed photos of cocoa pods. I can already see myself meeting up for cocoa here during the winter and their frozen hot chocolate during the summer.

L.A. Burdick Chocolates in ManhattanChocolate Gifts in New York City

You can sit down for coffee, cocoa, and instagramable cappuccinos or grab boxes of their chocolate for on-the-go gifting. I recommend trying one or two of their petite desserts. The options aren’t overwhelming, but prepare your sweet tooth – chocolate lovers will rejoice over their raspberry chocolate cake.

Best Chocolate Desserts in NYC

L.A. Burdick chocolates are small but intense, their flavors pronounced but, again, not overwhelming. They’re really something special.

Boutique Chocolatier in NYCChocolate Wedding Favors

Every year my sister requests a medium sized box of L.A. Burdick chocolates for Christmas. I love how they come in a cute wooden box, sealed with a ribbon and a wax seal. The shop ladies are always so kind and wrap up the gift in tissue paper and extra ribbon, and the chocolates are always gone by New Years Eve.

Best Chocolates in NYC

Right now L.A. Burdick have partnered with The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a charitable organization in Kenya known for their orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program. 100% of net proceeds from these handmade chocolate elephants will be donated to the trust. Frankly, I can’t think of a better excuse to eat chocolate! The milk chocolate elephant contains dark chocolate ganache infused with fresh mint leaves – leave everything you know about mint chocolates behind, the mint in this chocolate is unexpectedly fresh and exciting. The dark chocolate elephant contains passion fruit and Amarula cream liqueur dark chocolate ganache. So good. Elephants will not be available in November and December, so snap them up while you can!

L.A. Burdick Chocolate ElephantsChocolates for Charity

In terms of high end or low end, L.A. Burdick chocolates – while on the more expensive end of the scale – are not pretentious. You get what you pay for, which is excellent quality, flavor, style, and design. Their chocolate is excellent chocolate, you don’t need to know what percentage of cocoa content you prefer to pick out a good piece. Bring your cocoa snobs and your Hershey loving friends here, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying L.A. Burdick’s sweet treats.

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
156 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 796-0143

https://www.burdickchocolate.com/

Riverpark Luncheon with Alison Sweeney and Arm & Hammer

When you’ve lived your entire life in one place, you begin to think you know it by heart. All its nooks and crannies, the best places for brunch, dinner, for taking a leisurely walk on Saturday afternoon. So naturally I was beyond surprised when I was invited down to the famed Riverpark restaurant for a farm-to-table luncheon hosted by Arm & Hammer and Alison Sweeney. I had no idea that the restaurant was home to a flourishing urban farm, amazing food, and breathtaking city views!

Riverpark Restaurant NYCArm & Hammer with Alison Sweeney

Farmer Sam and Alison (every time I see her I have to pinch myself, I spent so many years coming home from school to watch Alison as Days of Our Lives’ Sami Brady!) gave us the grand tour. Alison reflected on the importance of clean and authentic ingredients – from the plate to our toothpaste. Alison has partnered with Arm & Hammer for many years, she pointed out how with Arm & Hammer you can always tell it’s working because you can feel it.

Alison Sweeney Arm & Hammer Riverpark EventArm & Hammer Riverpark Event

Farmer Sam, who showed us around, shared that maintaining a garden comes with its own set of complications. The garden is rested on unfilled milk crates, which give it it’s mobility. That means in case of a storm or unpredictable weather, the garden can be transported in doors. The produce from the garden, naturally, end up on the plates served at Riverpark.

Riverpark Restaurant Urban Farm Edible FlowersRiverpark BasilEdible Flowers Urban Farm NYC

Riverpark, owned by Tom Colicchio, presented us with a lovely lunch designed and prepared by Executive Chef Andrew Smith. We started off with burrata served with heirloom tomatoes, stone fruit, charred breadcrumbs and basil. Riverparks urban farm boasts numerous varieties of basil, their fragrance sweetening the air outside the restaurant while adding fresh flavor to the dishes served inside.

Arm & Hammer Event NYCRiverpark BurrataRiverpark Basil Urban Farm

Did you know that cheese neutralizes acid and aids in preserving tooth enamel? As if I needed any more reason to eat more cheese! Meanwhile, stone fruit contains high levels of vitamin C, which is vital for gum tissue health. I’ve never had stone fruit with burrata and I absolutely loved the combination. The sweet fruit brought out the sun-warmed sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes and the creaminess of the burrata.

Riverpark Salmon

I chose the salmon as my main course, I once read that a restaurant that can cook salmon without drying it out is a good restaurant indeed. Riverpark’s salmon – served with heirloom peppers, zucchini, crispy fingerling potatoes, and rosemary – was perfectly cooked, as if it had been done sous vide. Salmon, a great source of vitamin D, also helps with calcium absorption.

Summer Fruit Trifle

Our lunch was ended on a sweet note with a Summer Fruit Trifle. Strawberries, blueberries, lemon verbena whipped cream, chiffon cake, and a pistachio sacristan rounded out my ideal summer dessert.

Thank you to the Arm & Hammer team for a lovely lunch!

My Cousin Rachel: Exclusive Interview with Rachel Weisz!

My first gothic novel was Rebecca by Daphnedu Maurier, when I read it I had no idea that I would one day get the opportunity to interview the star of the film adaptation of one of her other beloved novels – My Cousin Rachel. I must admit that taking part in an interview with Rachel Weisz definitely topped some of my favorite blogging experiences ever. She’s been one of my favorite actresses since I first saw The Mummy as a kid. Since then I’ve loved so many of her other films, My Cousin Rachel being a new favorite.

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A dark and layered romance, My Cousin Rachel tells the story of a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious and beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian.  His feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling helplessly and obsessively in love with her. The film stars Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Ian Glen, and Pierfrancesco Favino.

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The interview was conducted via telephone, as Rachel was in London to meet with the press on that side of the pond. She was incredibly lovely, and even though I haven’t yet met her in person I totally have already bragged to my friends and family about speaking to her. Here’s what she had to say about My Cousin Rachel:

Question: Did you decide in your own mind, whether Rachel was really poisoning Philip or did you keep it ambiguous and therefore be able to play it more ambiguously?

Rachel Weisz: No, I did decide as to whether she was guilty or innocent. But I kept it secret from the director, he didn’t want to know if I was one way or the other. But yes, I did make a definitive decision.

Rachel Weisz My Cousin Rachel

The NYC Talon: I really loved the movie and Daphne has written so many interesting, provocative female characters. What is it that drew you to the script initially, and what did you find most compelling about the story?

RW: I liked the tale of obsession, this dark obsession, the thriller aspect, the kind of gothic atmosphere, the mystery, the tale of infatuation, the kind of did she or didn’t she element, that it was a complex character, she had lots of contradictions and couldn’t be pinned down, the fact that, it seems to have turned out that audiences are arguing about her innocence or guilt, which I think is really interesting.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what feminism, or what you think being a feminist would’ve meant to your character?

RW: Well, in the 1850s I think to believe in sexual freedom and the freedom of sexual pleasure and the idea that what you aren’t destined for is simply marriage and that marriage would mean ownership by your husband, I think that was very, very radical for the 1850s.

Q: So what does feminism mean to you, personally, now?

RW: That’s a good question. I suppose equal rights but maybe different rights, because women are the ones who give birth so we need different supports at work in order to leave work and return to work. Men who own companies were once given birth to by women so I hope that they can understand that. So equal but maybe different rights.

Rachel Weisz Quote

Q: Given all the mystery surrounding the character’s motive, first of all, who is Rachel to you and what qualities or traits would you say that you might share in common with the character and maybe where you differ?

RW: Well I guess how you see her, I mean it depends on whether she’s guilty or innocent. But if she’s innocent then, I mean either which way, I think she’s pretty independent, free-spirited, funny, provocative, mischievous, feminist, romantic, motherly, tender, angry.

Q: Do you share a lot of those or do you differ maybe a little bit from that character?

RW: I think I’m definitely mischievous. I’m feminist. I don’t speak Italian but I wish I did. I’m not in mourning. I’m not widowed. I’m likely not living in the 1850s, I get to vote. Yes, so I mean there are things that we share and things that we don’t.

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Q: Did you have any influences from the original film, or maybe did you even—

RW: I didn’t watch it, actually. I deliberately didn’t watch it because I didn’t want to have Olivia de Havilland’s interpretation at the back of my mind anywhere. So I’m free from, it’s like a virgin interpretation.

Q: Did you read the book as part of your preparation for your role? And I’m guessing you were already familiar with Du Maurier’s writings and I know you said Heather’s adaptations [ph] on film. So, were you already a fan of the author? Do you enjoy doing book adaptations?

RW: No I hadn’t read the book and I haven’t read any by Du Maurier even though she’s a very celebrated British writer. I just haven’t read any of her. But I did read the novel in preparation for the film and I think Roger did a fabulous adaptation. I think he brought a lot of the 20th Century, I haven’t seen the original film but, I think this is a more modern, edgy take on the film classic. The novel definitely has those elements in it. She’s a pretty radical character.

Rachel Weisz Interview

Q: So do you enjoy doing book adaptations?

RW: I do, yes. About a Boy was an adaptation of a novel, Constant Gardener was an adaptation. I just made an adaptation of a novel, it hasn’t come out yet called Disobedience, which is a contemporary classic. You may not have heard of it, by Naomi Alderman. Yes, definitely, I love to do novel adaptions.

Q: Do you typically then, to prepare for the role, read the book?

RW: Yes. The great thing about a book is it’s not, everyone imagines the book differently so it’s not like a performance which is put down in a concrete way that you could just be haunted by, disturbed by when you’re trying to make your own version. So a book is open to interpretation and to do your own personal fantasy. So yes, I always read the books. It’s always great. It’s food, lots of food for thought.

image-776be3e2-675b-42a3-98a2-49a7bb103503My Cousin Rachel film quote

Q: Can you talk about the changes that have happened in Hollywood in the 20 years that you’ve been in it?

RW: Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think they were in some ways better but I haven’t seen the Olivia de Havilland version. But back in the 50s and 40s and 30s there were many more films that had leading female characters, pictured films about women, Barbara Stanwyck, Olivia de Havilland, Betty Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor. I mean it was just very normal to tell stories about women where men might’ve been not the center of the story.

I’m not a film historian so I don’t know. Maybe feminism happened and everyone got scared and they couldn’t handle women being so powerful in films. Because I think everything went pretty south there. I don’t know, in the course of my career, I don’t know. I just try and choose roles that are interesting and complicated and surprising. Yes, I’m not really aware of things changing for the better or for the worse but there are definitely less films being written by women for women, directed by women for women than there are by men for women. I’m not quite sure, I don’t have the statistics, but I’m not sure it’s that rosy.

rachel weisz movie quote

Q: This one’s just a little bit fun, just because Game of Thrones is starting up soon. Are you a Game of Thrones fan for one, and did you try to get any secrets out of Iain for the upcoming season?

RW: I’m not actually. I haven’t watched enough of Game of Thrones to talk about it intelligently. I know it’s a great series and there are avid fans out there so I wouldn’t want to compete with them. But I know my horse had been trained on Game of Thrones so my horse would have some secrets to tell.

That’s it! Pretty awesome, isn’t it? The movie is absolutely excellent – one of my favorite parts about the story is that while (and this is spoiler-y, so skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie, read the book, or Wikipedia searched the story) Rachel’s role is sort of enigmatic and mysterious, there is more certainty where Phillip is involved. We never quite know for certain whether or not Rachel is predator or victim, whether or not she killed the uncle or even poisoned Phillip or set out to get her hands on his money. She’s unusual for the times, which makes her unpredictable and sort of a threat. But that doesn’t make her a murderer. Rachel’s presence creates a perfect opportunity for the masculine Phillip, who was raised by an Uncle who once saw little use for females, to reveal his own thought patterns and expectations of femininity. When things go badly, Phillip sends Rachel directly into harms way – in effect making him at least partly responsible for what happens to Rachel.

If you haven’t yet seen My Cousin Rachel, it’s in theaters now – so definitely give this thrilling gothic work view!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The interview was conducted over the phone with a group of other journalists/bloggers. All photos are courtesy of Fox Searchlight, by Nicola Dove. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.*

Top 15 Summer Beach Reads

Top 15 Summer Reads

From a gripping and suspenseful mystery to a breezy contemporary romance – grab a great book and get reading this summer! Here are my recommendations:

The Waking Land by Callie Bates – June 27th

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

If you loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (I did!), then you’re definitely going to want to check out this magical new story by Callie Bates:

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Read more here.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I love this book so, so much. You want an ideal beach read? This is the book you are looking for.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Read more here.

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You Hating You by Christina Lauren

Ever since I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne I’ve developed a warm appreciation for love/hate contemporary fiction. Although, to be fair, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is where I really got hooked. In this new novel by Christina Lauren, Carter and Evie – agents at two competing firms in Hollywood – hit things off at a Holloween Party. But when their firms merge and they end up vying for the same position, all bets are off and their romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage.

Whether these two Hollywood love-hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, readers will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

Read more here.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – July 4th

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Looking for a YA fantasy/mystery? Keep an eye out for Emily Bain Murphy’s debut novel, The Disappearances!

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind. 

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Read more here.

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland – June 29th

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

Written by YouTube lifestyle personality, Louise Pentland, Wilde Like Me promises to be as lovable and candid as the woman herself.

Single mum Robin Wilde adores her six-year-old daughter and loves her job as a make up artist’s assistant. She has a wonderful best friend and an auntie who is bonkers, yes, but loves her to the moon and back.

But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things just feel … grey. And lonely. She struggles to fit in with the school mum crew. Online dating is totally despair-inducing, and she worries every day about raising her little girl with self-confidence, courage and joy.

What Robin longs for is someone (over the age of six) to share with – someone who’s always on her team.

After 4 years (2 months, and 15 days!) of single-mum-dom, it’s time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life.

Exciting new opportunities are about to come Robin’s way … Perhaps a man, perhaps the chance of a lifetime …

What will Robin do with the possibilities she creates for herself? And what potential will she unlock if she takes the leap?

Read more here.

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor – August 1st

Sparks of Life

The sequel to one of my favorite reads of last year (which was blurbed by Outlander’s Diana Gabaldon herself), Sparks of Light continues the adventure where Into the Dim left us avid readers:

For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends, a (maybe) boyfriend, and she’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-traveling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plot to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the often-treacherous glitterati of 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew discover that among high society, the Gilded Age is as deadly as it is beautiful.

Read more here.

The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

If you like to spend your idle sunbathing hours with a suspenseful thriller (or if you really liked Gone Girl), then you’re going to love The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.

P.S. This book is slated to become a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard, so read it before it hits theaters!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Young adult readers will love this charming “teen spin on You’ve Got Mail”:

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

Read more here.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A Flynn

An unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors: researchers Rachel and Liam are sent back in time from the future, they aren’t the first team of time travelers, but their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.

Another debut novel, this time by New York Times writer Kathleen Flynn, The Jane Austen Project should be at the top of any fiction-loving Austen fan’s summer reading list. Heck, even if you’ve never rubbed elbows with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet, the premise of this novel is sure to capture the attention of all readers.

Read more about the novel here, also take a peak at this great NYT article on publishing by the author here.

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

I couldn’t do a beach read round-up without including a proper historical romance. Also one of my closest friends is a massive fan of Santa Montefiore and her Deverill Chronicles trilogy and insisted that I include it. Pick up the first book, The Girl in the Castle, and then dive into the second. Read all about The Daughters of Ireland here.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

I distinctly remember swapping Sarah Dessen books with my best friend in high school. When I should have been digging into my Italian homework, I snuck into Dessen’s contemporary confections where characters lived sometimes dramatic but otherwise quite simple lives. As a city girl I found so much solace in the novelty of her stories. Now Dessen is back again, this time with Once and for All which promises the humor, romance, and happily ever after that we can’t help but love.

Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Read more here.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave – July 11th

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Author of Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave is back with Hello, Sunshine:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.

And then she gets hacked.

When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.

This summer read hits shelves on July 11th, read more here.

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.

I do not recommend reading the Goodreads reviews on this book. The reviews are generally polarizing – some love it, some hate it. I do recommend downloading a sample before you purchase the book, borrowing it from the library, or browsing through a few pages before you buy it at the bookstore. Ann Brashares, the mind behind The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has a specific writing style that people tend to really love or really not-love. I love her writing, and I hope you will too.

Read more here.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Deluxe Edition

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Intrigued yet? Released back in 2014, this fun and suspenseful read has been reprinted with loads of new extras including the author’s hand-drawn map of Beechwood Island along with the Sinclair family tree, a behind-the-scenes look at the author’s creative process, and more!

All the details on the deluxe edition can be found here.

The Three Keys series by Dana Alexander

Dana Alexander Series

Technically this is a series and shouldn’t count as a single book, but I’m a rule breaking rebel (not really) and included all three anyways. Toted as Lara Croft meets Lord of the Rings style fantasy/romance series, The Three Keys series is a tale of love that transcends time. The blurb for the books actually reminds me a bit of the Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl storyline from The Flash series.

The balance between good and evil has been shattered, opening a path for a dark lord’s demons and shadows to consume the energy found in humanity.  To New York psychiatrist Dr. Sara Forrester, these nightmares become more than figments of a troubled mind when a powerful entity known as the Soltari calls Sara to duty as their only hope to retrieve three ancient keys hidden thousands of years earlier. But to find the keys she must unlock the gateway to each of them by way of three secret medallions.  As part of Sara’s existence in this life, the alliance that governs the equilibrium between good and evil has blocked her memory from the many past lives she’s lived and the power she holds in order for her to establish a relatively ordinary life on earth.

The last great warrior hasn’t forgotten the love he’s vowed to protect across time and space.  He’s come to earth under the guise of a physician and colleague on an oath to the Soltari not to remind Sara of their past lives together when the mission is engaged.  In guarding every facet of the quest, the Alliance couldn’t risk a love that transcends time to interfere with the task to rescue billions of lives and put a halt to earth remaining as an intended place of human development.  There is no room for distraction where life-threatening decisions need to be made.  If Sara fails the mission, not only will the quest to save lives be lost but so too will the eternal bond of two souls linked for countless millenia.

I’m currently working my way through this series, so count on a more thorough review soon.

What books do you plan on reading this summer?

Back Again: Ristorante Morini

Recently my sister and I re-visted a favorite brunch spot. We hadn’t been there in a while, but our prior experiences had been so fantastic that we consistently recommended it to our family and friends. Social media famous, the restaurant has no trouble bringing in a steady stream of customers. When we returned we found that while the service was as friendly as ever, the food had taken a nosedive. The prices had gone up, and it was clear that the establishment had cut corners on the meal in order to save time and money. When half your meal consists of inedible chips, you know it’s time to move on to greener pastures. It was disappointing to have to remove this once-beloved spot from our list of recommended brunch spots. The best places, I find, are the most consistent not only in great food and service, but also over time. Ristorante Morini is one such place.

Ristorante Morini Chicken Eggplant Meatballs

My sister (perpetual lunch, brunch, and dinner companion) and I returned to Ristorante Morini in March after not having been for almost a year. Unlike my ill-fated brunch spot, Altamarea Group’s Ristorante Morini, did not cut corners over time. The menu is varied and the offers are exciting. I could spot a couple of old favorites (like those insane Bocconcini – chicken eggplant meatballs) as well as more than a few new menu items that I was dying to try.

Ristorante Morini Burrata Salad

To start we had the Burrata salad – creamy mozzarella, car acara orange, mache salad, and a toasted baguette. I love burrata, and the tartness of the cara cara orange and balsalmic reduction cut through the creamy mozzarella in the most delightful way.

Ristorante Morini Pasta NYC

My sister had Spagetti Vongole, a comforting pasta studded with manila clams and baby leeks. I had the Hanger Steak – grilled hanger steak with broccoli rabe and salsa verde. The entire dish was so good, I was tempted to lick the plate.

Ristorante Morini Hanger SteakBest Lunch Spots in NYC

A newer addition on the Ristorante Morini menu, the Semifreddo, was the dessert that surprised me the most. The dessert is a white chocolate semifreddo dome, complete with cashews, blackberries, and tiny mint leaves. I was immediately taken by the dessert mostly because I couldn’t stop eating it – it has great textures and flavors, but I really liked that it felt understated, it was a simple dessert that didn’t overwhelm the meal.

Ristorante Morini NYC

We also had the Torta Di Cioccolata (dark chocolate mousse, chantilly cream, and hazelnut gelato), which is another testament to what a great restaurant RM is. Last time I was here the same menu item looked completely different, and while the structure of the dessert has changed all the flavors are still here. In fact, I quite like how they changed it. This time, instead of being served in a bowl, the torta was served like a tiny cake. It was a perfect chocolate dessert.

Ristorante Morini Torta di Cioccolata

We also had the Torta Di Olio, which the fantastic waitress recommended to me. I’m not entirely certain if it’s a newer menu addition, but it was a first for me. The Torta Di Olio is an olive oil cake, with ricotta mousse, raspberries, rhubarb, served with pistachio gelato. My favorite flavors are tart and sweet, so this was right up my block, and it might just be my favorite dessert. Everything about it was perfect, from the meringue shards as garnish to the moiste cake and lemony curd. I wish I had one right now!

Torta di Olio Ristorante Morini

The staff at Ristorante Morini were absolutely kind, never hovering but always available. I cannot recommend this spot enough if you’re looking for a great brunch, lunch, or dinner. Their prices are fair, and the prixe-fix menu is definitely a deal. Most encouragingly, you can rely on Ristorante Morini for a great dining experience, every time.

Ristorante Morini
1167 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10028
(212) 249-0444

http://ristorantemorini.com

FoodSaver Fresh Review: Why I Can’t Stop Using this Kitchen Appliance

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary FoodSaver Fresh after attending the event, I was neither asked nor required to review this product, though I did so because I absolutely love it. ;)

You know you’ve entered the realm of adulting when you get really excited about household products. I mean, really, genuinely excited. A couple of months ago I was invited to an event to take a look at the FoodSaver  in action, and to pick up some tips from Food Network star Damaris Phillips. If you’re not familiar with it, the FoodSaver is a vacuum-sealing system that helps you keep your meals fresher, longer.

FoodSaver FreshNew FoodSaver Fresh

On average, FoodSaver users can save up to $2700 a year (compared to other food storage methods). At the event FoodSaver debuted their new FoodSaver Fresh appliance. The FoodSaver is a compact (hello, my fellow space-limited NYC apartment dwellers!) vacuum sealing device that works with both the classic FoodSaver bags, but also their new FoodSaver Fresh containers.

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer ReviewFoodSaver Containers

I was totally intrigued with the device, especially when we were told that FoodSaver has the potential to keep certain foods fresh for twice as long. I immediately pictured the piles of money that I’ve spent at the Union Square farmers market and our local CSA, only to watch pricey fruits, vegetables, and herbs wilt, whither, and rot in mere days. I am all about supporting local growers and artisans. I only wish that I had more time to process my produce before they made an early departure. Since I’m not getting any less busy, the FoodSaver is exactly what I need.

FoodSaver Damaris PhillipsFoodSaver NYC Event

Damaris showed us some of her favorite ways to put the FoodSaver to work. My favorites were food prep, marinating, food saving, making a breakfast parfait that can be eaten all week long, and even using the FoodSaver containers to keep bakery treats like muffins and pastries fresh for even longer. Oh, and how can I forget, brown sugar! Keep your brown sugar from getting hard as a rock between uses.

FoodSaver Fresh Containers

The FoodSaver team sent me my own FoodSaver fresh and since then I have been using it non-stop. If I’m making stir-fry, I like to cut up all the veggies I’m using the day before. I store it all in a food fresh container and streamline cooking the next day. When I do my weekly Trader Joe’s run, I stick by butter lettuce and spring lettuce mix into one of the containers and vacuum seal it up. The lettuce stays fresh and does not get bruised at all – which means salads all week. I can’t believe how addicted I’ve become to using the FoodSaver Fresh and those containers! The containers themselves are ridiculously sturdy, easy to store, and they don’t stain. I actually feel like I’m running out of them because I find so many uses for them.

Food Saver Fresh Review

The FoodSaver FM1510 Food Preservation System clocks in at about $100, but when you purchase it directly from FoodSaver, you also get 2-quart vacuum zipper bags, 2-gallon vacuum zipper bags, 1-5 cup Fresh Container, 1-8 cup Fresh Container, and 1 produce tray (which fits the 3,5, and 8 cup containers). For more information, including all sorts of impressive details and uses for the FoodSaver, check them out here.