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.

Ditch Food Prep Woes with Healthy Choice Power Bowls

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Healthy Choice.

When it comes to healthy eating, I have the best intentions. I have an excel sheet dedicated to meal planning, a Pinterest board for healthy recipes, and a brand new 32oz plastic water bottle in the prettiest blue and pink so I can drink those recommended 8 glasses a day. See? The best intentions. But then life gets in the way, and when something has to give, it’s usually those good intentions. Healthy Choice has just released their new Power Bowls, tasty meals that feed my body with exactly what I needs to keep going. With flavors inspired by Cuban, Korean, and Latin cuisines, I’m newly obsessed with these easy meal options.

Healthy Choice Power Bowls Review

All the planning in the world can’t save me from hectic days and last minute demands, and since we’re being honest, if I must choose between an extra hour of sleep or making lunch for the next day? I’ll usually pick sleep. Healthy Choice’s Power Bowls are perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle, who is short on time (or maybe not thrilled with the prospect of daily meal prep *ahem*), and a craving for good food. I tried the Adobo Chicken Bowl, which featured all natural chicken breast, vegetables served on top of brown & red rice, red quinoa, and black barley with a guajillo chili sauce and roasted pepitas. I loved that the chicken used in the bowl was raised without antibiotics, and that the lunch not only featured lean protein, but also whole grains, and plenty of veggies. If you’re still clinging to your new year’s resolution to eat better – this will definitely help.

Healthy Choice Adobo Chicken Power BowlHealthy Choice Adobo Chicken BowlHealthy Choice Meal review

If you like a little heat (who doesn’t), the Korean-Inspired Beef Bowl will be right up your block. This bowl featured all natural beef, shitake mushrooms, and vegetables served on top of brown rice, red rice, red quinoa, and black barley with a spicy gochujang and soy sauce topped with black and white sesame seeds. The other day I was running around the city all morning, and barely had time for a quick lunch before I had to head back downtown for an evening event. Usually I would be tempted by fast food options that promised little nutrition, but a fast meal. Instead I popped this in the microwave for around 4 minutes and had a delicious and balanced meal that I did not feel guilty about.

Healthy Choice Korean Review

That’s what I love most about these frozen meals – they taste like something that I would actually cook for myself at home. The flavors are present and they taste real. It’s so easy to fall off the wagon when you’re pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle because there are so many factors that go into how your day turns out. I know from my experience that having a stressful morning will often mean that I look for ways to “cheat” for lunch, I’ll negotiate myself into treats especially if they are easy to obtain. Stocking my freezer with Healthy Choice Power Bowls means that making the right decision for myself is so much easier.

Healthy Choice Bowl review

In case you aren’t yet tantalized with the appealing option of Adobo Chicken Power Bowl or a Korean-Inspired Beef Bowl, Healthy Choice also offers a Cuban-Inspired Pork Bowl and a Chicken Sausage & Barley Bowl. I know I can’t wait to try them! Because every bowl contains over 16g of protein and 6-8g of fiber, it really is easy to make a Healthy Choice for lunch (see what I did there? ;)).

Happy Women’s Health month! How do you stay health & stick to your health goals?

Review: Amélie on Broadway

*I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this review. Photos seen here all belong to the show. Opinions, as always, belong to me. Thank you!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend an evening performance of Amélie. The play, based off of the film of the same name stars Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo as the title character. Amélie is about a young Parisian waitress who undergoes her own personal transformation after she decides to become a do-gooder. Amélie’s attempts to anonymously change peoples lives are as cute and quirky as she is, of course things go awry when her bout with altruism leads her into the path of equally as charming Nino, played by Adam Chanler-Berat. Amélie must wrestle with what has kept her away from making connections with others and decide whether or not she’s ready to take the ultimate risk, and truly live.

Amelie on Broadway Review | The NYC TalonAmélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATRE

I absolutely loved this show. It is everything that I hoped it would be. Amélie is whimsical and, to my relief, not at all presumptuous. While the play is meant to take place in Paris, it doesn’t feel Parisian in the sense that you are an outsider looking in. In fact, you could easily imagine Amélie taking place in the village. The set design was lovely, and the theater – the Walter Kerr Theater – was small enough to feel intimate. It was as if the cast were speaking and singing right to you. Which is lovely considering that Amélie has a wonderful cast, Phillipa Soo brings Amélie alive in the most perfect way.

Amélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATREAmélie, A New MusicalWALTER KERR THEATRE219 W. 48TH ST.

My favorite scenes involve both the younger and the older Amélie, and Savvy Crawford does an outstanding job as young Amélie. I don’t consider myself a theater snob at all, but if I were one I’d definitely say (in the most posh tone I could muster) that we can expect great things of Savvy Crawford. Honestly, I wish I had as much talent in my right pinky at her age as she does now.

Amélie, A New Musical WALTER KERR THEATRE

There is so much to be said for Amélie, but at the risk of including any spoilers I will leave off with letting you know I’d give this a 5/5 and all the gold stars. Amélie only has a limited number of shows left, so snatch up a ticket if you get the chance. Additionally, they’ve revealed on the shows twitter page that they will be releasing the cast recording on iTunes and if you pre-order it now you get an immediate download of my favorite song from the show – “Stay”.

Amelie on Broadway Entertainment Weekly Review

More information, and details on how to get tickets here.

My Cousin Rachel – New International Trailer & Movie Poster!

I was just a teen when I saw the 1940’s Rebecca starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. It was my first foray into Gothic thrillers, and I loved it so much that I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I eventually got around to reading the book that inspired the film, which was written by Daphne du Maurier in 1938. Daphne du Maurier’s work was also the inspiration behind two of my other Hitchcock favorites – Jamaica Inn and The Birds, and now her writing is also the inspiration for the much anticipated film My Cousin Rachel based on her novel of the same name.

My Cousin Rachel Movie Official Poster

Starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin, My Cousin Rachel is a dark romance that tells the story of a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.

My Cousin Rachel 2017

Watch the trailer here:

My Cousin Rachel hits theaters June 9th! Catch all the latest updates by following the movie on twitter, facebook, Instagram, online, or by using the hashtag #MyCousinRachel.

Catch the Eagles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Journey & More at The Classic Concerts!

*This is a sponsored post*

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There is nothing like heading to a summer concert. But a summer concert featuring nothing but legendary bands? Pretty epic, and definitely a bucket list item. This July you can catch the Eagles; Steely Dan; the Doobie Brothers; Journey; Fleetwood Mac; and Earth, Wind, and Fire at one of two 2-day The Classic concerts to hit both the East and West coast.

The ultimate for any classic rock fan, the first two concerts will be held at Citi Field on July 29th and 30th. Ballpark concessions will be open for service during the concert, which is great since Citi Field has some amazing food options (Shake Shack and Pat LaFrieda, anyone?). Check out more details here.

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Then the concert heads over to the west coast, in Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on July 15th and 16th. With such an amazing line-up, here’s a sneak peek of what to expect:

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Tickets go on sale tomorrow April 7th, 2017 – so mark your calendars and be sure to visit The Classic website here! Follow The Classic on facebook for more updates and further details!

The Zookeeper’s Wife: Jessica Chastain and Niki Caro Discuss War, Film, and Femininity

A few months ago I came across a great blog post by Messy Nessy Chic by Inge Oosterhoff about a zoo in Warsaw that gave shelter to Jews during World War II. The zoo’s operators, Jan Żabiński and his wife Antonina, faced a variety of hardships during the early years of the war. But Jan and Antonina had been involved with subversive activism even before the war and continued their efforts of resistance even after Germany had entered Poland. The empty cages of the zoo were used as a shelter for the Jewish families and individuals that Jan managed to sneak out of the Warsaw ghettos, where they stayed until they could be moved using false documents that the Żabińskis procured. It really is an excellent post, and I highly recommend that you read it when you have a chance. The post mentioned that the book The Zookeeper’s Wife, written by Diane Ackerman, inspired by Antonina’s diaries, was being made into a movie – which is in theaters now!

The Zookeeper's Wife

The story, of course, stuck with me though I had no idea at the time that I read the Oosterhoff’s post that I would be invited to an advanced screening and press junket for the very same film! The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska and directed by Niki Caro, illustrates Antonina’s experiences at the Warsaw Zoo.

Here’s a spoiler-free synopsis, after which follows a somewhat spoiler-y Q&A:

The Zookeeper’s Wife is the real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II. In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh of “The Broken Circle Breakdown”), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned – and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl of “Captain America: Civil War”). To fight back on their own terms, Antonina and Jan covertly begin working with the Resistance – and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

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After seeing the film, I was completely taken in by not only Jessica Chastain’s performance, and Director Niki Caro’s beautiful film, but especially by the performance of Israeli actress Shira Haas who plays Ursula, a young Jewish girl who Jan helps remove from the Warsaw ghettos after she is raped by two Nazi soldiers. Ursula is not included in the book, but it was shot and acted in such a way that it became such a central part of the entire movie.

I asked Niki and Jessica if they could speak about filming those scenes, as well as what it was like to act them out with Shira Haas.

NIKI CARO: The character of Ursula is emblematic of all children who are hurt by war. And so as the director of this movie, I had to think very hard about what I could bring to this genre. And I recognized that it was femininity; that I could take my inspiration from Antonina, and be very soft, and very strong with this material. And so Ursula was a very, very important character, because her experience had made her animal – it’s an incredible performance, obviously; young Israeli actress called Shira Haas. And the scenes between her and Antonina are wonderful, because we see Antonina dealing with Ursula as she would with an animal – which is to say, very instinctively; not coming too close, but reassuring her that she’s there. It’s Antonina’s connection to animals that – her humanity with animals that she brings to – that she brought to her human refugees, you know. And I think that sort of unspoken trust and compassion between those two characters, and those two actresses, is a very, very special part of the movie, for me.

JESSICA CHASTAIN: I have to say I was very happy to – sorry, this is a little bit about this. But I was happy to be in a film that, for me when I watch the movie, I’m distraught about the rape of this young girl. But there’s no salacious scene that we’re forced to watch.

NIKI CARO: Um-hmm.

JESSICA CHASTAIN: And I find that in a lot of films in our industry, it’s directed in a way that it becomes this salacious thing. And it was wonderful to work with a woman who had more delicacy with that. And then, what was your question for me?

PRESS: About what was it like to work with the young actress?

JESSICA CHASTAIN: Well, Shira’s an incredible actress. And you know, I just kind of – I instinctively knew to not try to distract her in any way. You know, when we were filming that stuff, she was so in it, that I didn’t want to be like, “Hey, how was dinner tonight?” you know, and talking about things that didn’t connect to what the scene was. So I always held back. I, you know, I was there in case she needed me, or I, you know, was watching her in between takes. But I never tried to do anything that would pull her out of it.

NIKI CARO: You know, it was incredibly organic, actually, the whole – the whole movie was. But in that scene, in particular, there was a bunny. And the bunny is – really shows us the healing power of animals – that it’s a little bunny that can break through for this girl. And that’s Antonina’s gift, really, to know, you know, without words, without overt action, just what to do in that moment. And Jessica absolutely has that gift herself, as a human being. So – which really made my job very, very easy.

Murder is horrific, and it’s important to note that there is a massive industry surrounding horror films that capitalize on murder as entertainment. With that in mind, I think that that there is a great danger in that portrayal of rape can be turned into something entertaining – because movie making is still an industry motivated at some point by profit. So I was grateful to hear Jessica, who works within the film and entertainment industry herself, point out the amazing job that Niki Caro does as a director, and how she deals with such complex and sensitive material in a way that is not salacious but still illustrates the extreme horror of rape, especially because Ursula is a child.

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The film, which naturally revolves around Antonina’s diaries and her life at the zoo, does not ignore the intense personal problems that Antonina would have had to deal with herself. Questions like what would happen to her children if they were found out, or what happens within a marriage in extremely stressful situations, are not ignored. I think instead of moving away from the horrors of the Holocaust and of the Second World War, The Zookeeper’s Wife broadens the scope of our understanding within the platform of film. For instance, I was never taught about the Żabińskis in school. I was never taught about people like Antonina, Jan, Irena Sendler and others recognized at Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. I wish it had been a part of my elementary or middle school curriculum, which is part of what drew Jessica to the film.

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“I was really inspired by her. And also, I want to celebrate women in the past who have made great sacrifices to help others. We don’t really – I don’t think we acknowledge women in history as often as we should. And so I’m excited to be part of this story that gets to – gets to share it with a larger audience” Jessica also added.

The Zookeeper's Wife Press Junket NYC

The zoo still stands to this day. The film opens in theaters on March 31st! Check out these behind the scenes clips:

Jamie Greenberg’s Allergy Face Tips & Looks Available on the beGlammed App!

Most of my mornings start way too early, with packed trains, elbows, coffee, and loads of foot traffic. So it was a much more than a welcome reprieve when I was invited to spend my Wednesday morning with Jordana Brewster and celebrity makeup artist, Jamie Greenberg, at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Gramercy Terrace.

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I’ve met Jamie before, and she is so sweet and clearly so passionate about what she does. I wish I had half the energy she did that morning! Seriously though, there really isn’t enough caffeine in a cup of coffee anymore, is there?

Allergy Face Event NYCJamie Greenberg and Jordana Brewster Zyrtec Event

Jamie, who has been working with Zyrtec for about 4 years now, knows all about the struggles brought on by allergy season – “As a makeup artist, I know that looking your best can be a challenge, especially during allergy season. I am so excited to work with the makers of Zyrtec to develop new tips to help women solve their Allergy Face beauty challenges – watery eyes, red nose and puffiness.”

Here are some of Jamie’s Beauty Tips:

  • Make sure makeup removing wipes are marked as gentle for sensitive skin or you’ll run the risk of worsening redness from Allergy Face.
  • Use a hydrating mask and a light moisturizer to even out skin texture and color.
  • Make your eyes appear more open by curling your lashes, and applying black mascara to upper and lower lashes when dealing with watery eyes.

Allergy Face Zyrtec EventAllergy Face Tip from Jamie Greenberg

I was also treated to an Allergy Face, customized, makeover by the beGlammed app team! My makeup artist, Darlene, was incredibly nice and didn’t mind the fact that I awkwardly blinked-smudged the mascara she was applying, and tried talking while she was applying my lipstick. Thanks Darlene! ;)

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Right now, until June 7th, the beGlammed app is offering Allergy Face makeovers as a part of their services provided. Allergy Face makeovers are designed to tackle your biggest Allergy Face concerns – itchy, watery eyes, and red noses too! The app also lists many of Jamie’s best tips, so you can try them out on your own as well. To find out more, click here.