The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide (for last minute shoppers)

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.

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Calling all last minute shoppers! If you haven’t checked off everyone on your holiday shopping list, then you’re not alone. Normally I’m really good about getting my shopping done earlier, but this year I’m still hunting for the “perfect” gift for some of my friends and family. I blame school, work, and the three weeks that I spent being atrociously sick. Luckily, my BabbleBoxx friends hooked me up with the ultimate package of perfect gifts. Any one of these items would make a great gift, so feel free tweet/share this post as a massive hint to the people you’ve been nice to this year. Or you could always choose the fail proof method of treat-yo-self (just saying, it’s fail proof).

quick-and-easy-holiday-gift-guide

When I was much, much younger I used to spot the Omaha Steak ads in the Sunday coupon adverts. I swore that one day I would order steaks from them, they looked amazing and special and I just knew they would taste so good. Fast forward to recently and I can honestly say they are some of the tastiest steaks that I’ve had. And my whole family – including my hardcore steak fan father – agree, they are super tasty.

omaha-steaks

The Tasteful Gift Gourmet Collection includes 2 filet mignons, 2 top sirloins, 2 boneless pork chops, 4 potatoes au gratin, 4 caramel apple tartlets, and 1 signature seasoning packet. You can gift this collection by way of a gift certificate. Omaha Steaks associates are super-friendly and cashing in their voucher is a breeze, shipping is included in this collection and can be enjoyed year-round. Honestly, if you know someone who likes steak or good food, this is a perfect gifting option.

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And that’s not all that’s a great gift for the foodie in your group of friends and family. The Vermont Brownie Company has an amazing Gourmet Brownie Sampler, I’m pretty much heartbroken now that I’m done with mine. With flavors like Espresso Dulce de Leche, Maple Toffee Crunch, Triple Chocolate Chunk, and (my personal favorite) Peanut Butter, this sampler is a definite win.

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Usually I have to beg my sister to make brownies, but now that I know that the Vermont Brownie Company makes such tasty brownies – well, let’s say I won’t be asking her to make hers any time soon. The Vermont Brownie Company’s brownies are all fairly large (you could probably split one between two people if ice cream is involved), and are dense without being cakey – pretty much model brownie material. The Company sources their ingredients from local vendors, which include the likes of Cabot Creamery, Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, Vermont Creamery and King Arthur Flour. The Vermont Brownie Company is offering 15% off to The NYC Talon readers when you order through this link!              

yogajewelz-necklace

Have a yogi in your family? Chances are you probably have a friend or family member who have perfected their mountain pose and downward facing dog. YogaJewelz Unity Om Pendant Necklace is great gift for the yoga lover (or “serenity now!” shouter) in your family. Promoting energy and strength – which, honestly we all use a lot more of – this petite pendant is a gorgeous piece for anyone’s jewelry collection.

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I love how intricate the design is, but also how simple and unobtrusive the necklace itself looks. A constant reminder to live an inspired life, YogaJewelz Unity Om pieces make a truly meaningful gift.

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Since I pretty much flat iron my hair every other day, the LumaBella Cool Mist Straightener is without a doubt the coolest beauty product I’ve seen this year. Why? Well this straightener delivers a conditioning treatment, via cool mist technology, to your hair as you straighten it. This technique helps prevent frizz, hydrate and moisturize strands, and delivers salon-quality shine. It’s pretty darn amazing and yes, I’m obsessed. Score 20% off your own LumaBella Cool Mist Straightener with the code ‘MIST20’ – this offer is valid through 12/30/16 so snap up yours now here!

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As someone who has respiratory issues, the Spire Wearable Wellness & Activity Tracker immediately caught my attention. I’ve always been curious about gathering data regarding my breathing behavior, especially whilst I sleep. The Spire stone works by sensing respiratory patterns to detect changes in your state of mind, then it delivers gentle notifications, insights, and suggested breathing exercises to help you unlock a more mindful and productive day.

spire-mindfulness-and-activity-trackerkubik-160823-spire_1537-1the-spire-device

I’m always down for anything that will help to manage stress, and I love that the Spire is fully integrated into the Apple Health App and works with Apple watch and an Android App is also now available! And for a limited time you can also use this link for $10 off your Spire purchase  – which makes gifting even easier!

So what do you think, which of these items are making it on to your wishlist?

Gilt & Gilt City’s Black Friday Sales Reveal!

As the holidays loom ever-closer, most stores are rolling out their best deals and savings. If you’re like me and prefer to shop Black Friday sales from the comfort of your couch – with leftovers and pie within reach – then you’ll definitely want to check out what Gilt.com & Gilt City are offering for the holidays. You don’t even have to wait until after Thanksgiving! Starting on Sunday, November 20th through Cyber Monday on November 28th, you can stock up on coveted women’s, men’s, and kids’ fashions and accessories, chic home essentials, and unique Gilt City experiences, all at steep discounts! Gilt has given us the full schedule of sales to share with you! Check it out:

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Black Friday Countdown

GILT:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (11/20-23):

Extra 40% off on categories such as: Cashmere, Outerwear, Shoes, Designer Accessories, and Top Holiday Gifts (sales launch at Noon and 9 PM ET and run for 24 hours only).

Thursday (11/24):

Up to 80% off on categories such as: Designer Apparel, Designer Handbags, Designer Fragrances, Designer Sunglasses, Designer Shoes and Fine Jewelry; Bedding, Bath, Furniture & Lighting, Kitchen Steals, Barware and Luggage; Kids’ Clothing, Accessories, Gear and Toys (sales launch at 8 AM and Noon ET).

DOORBUSTERS on must-haves from Giuseppe Zanotti, Adrienne Landau, Max Mara and more (launch at 6 PM ET).

GILT CITY:

Thursday (11/24):

20% off Site-wide “Rush” from 5 PM EST – 10 PM EST


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Black Friday

GILT:

Friday (11/25):

Up to 80% off coveted designer brands such as: Jimmy Choo, Cosabella, Australia Luxe, Moncler, Schutz, Tod’s, Paul Smith, Jacadi Kids, Nespresso and Dyson (sales launch at 8 AM and Noon ET).

DOORBUSTERS on must-haves from Missoni, Yves Salomon, Cuisinart and more (launch at 8 AM ET).

Win Your Wishlist Sweepstakes: Gilt recently launched a new feature where members can Favorite products (via the heart buttons) and create Wishlists from these Favorites in the Account section. Enter to Win Your Wishlist starting at Noon ET!

Saturday (11/26):

12 Sales running for 12 Hours only on seasonal merchandise. Sales include: Luxe Winter Essentials, Holiday Dressing, Designer Ties, Shoe Steals, Candles & Diffusers, Toy Time and more (9 AM to 9 PM EST).

GILT CITY:

25% off Site-wide from Friday, November 25th at 6 AM ET through Saturday, November 26th at 11:59 PM ET.


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Cyber Monday

GILT:

Sunday (11/27):

Cyber Preview: Sales on Top Brands including Roberto Coin, Spanx, Ray-Ban, Diesel, Burberry, and Mini Melissa (sales launch at 9 AM and 9 PM ET).

Monday (11/28):

Cyber Monday: Sales on Top Brands continue with Charlotte Olympia, Salvatore Ferragamo Accessories, Cartier, John Varvatos, Villeroy & Boch, and Kidkraft toys (sales launch at 8 AM and Noon ET).

GILT CITY:

20% off Site-wide starting on Sunday, November 27th at 7 PM ET through Tuesday, November 29th at 11:59 PM ET.


 

Gilt offers so many exciting items, and Gilt City is such a great resource for new and exciting experiences – there really will be no shortage of gifting options!

The NYC Chocolate Project: Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland

With two locations in the city, Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland offers NYC tourists and locals some seriously decadent confections. Founded in 1932 in Switzerland by Dolf Teuscher, Tuescher’s signature offering are the champagne chocolate truffles – of which I have eaten many, many, many of. The chocolates themselves aren’t the prettiest things to look at, they’re simple, polite domes dusted in a powdery white sugar coating. But the quality and care put into creating these unassuming treats are obvious in the flavor.

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Teuscher’s champagne chocolates are made with Dom Perignon champagne (the good stuff! I feel like Ina Garten would approve), butter cream, surrounded by a dark cream ganache, then enrobed in milk chocolate. These rank up there with Grey’s Papaya hot dogs, good pizza, and good sushi for me. Pure comfort. My family has actually made a yearly tradition of walking to see the tree at Rockefeller center, taking a touristy picture, then swinging by Teuscher. There’s something about being surrounded by the chaos and glamour of the city while enjoying fancy chocolate flown in from Zurich. Then, of course, we brave the crowds and descend upon the problematic subway system (you did hear that they’re raising the fares soon? Crazy!).

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Don’t sleep on Teuscher’s other chocolate offerings though, these jewel-shaped gianduja truffles were silky and ideal. The Bailey’s Irish Cream and Pistachio truffles are definitely worth trying too. What’s really pleasant about Teuscher chocolates is that you can taste the intensity of the chocolate without missing out on the flavoring aspect. You taste the champagne in the champagne truffles, but the chocolate is good enough that you taste that too. There’s nothing quite as trying as a champagne truffle that doesn’t taste like it has even the remotest splash of champagne in it. You won’t experience such disappointment here.

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Though the $112 a pound price tag can cause general sticker shock, two champagne truffles usually cost between $8-9, which is not entirely astronomical considering that they’re flown in from Zurich and are comprised of quality ingredients. If you’re looking for an extra special gift, stop by during the holidays. These pictures are from the Summer, where they go all out on décor and specially styled boxes, so you can imagine the effort and imagination that goes into the holiday offerings. My family actually hangs a little Swiss doll ornament that we purchased at the Rockefeller Center shop years ago.

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If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the 61st Street shop is much smaller, and much quieter thanks in part to their no cellphones rule (suggested by a sign posted on the door). Find more information about Teuscher, and to purchase your own chocolates, click here.

Must-Have Home Tech: Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor!

Chances are, you have the latest tech in your pocket. The newest phone, the latest laptop, netbook, tablet, and activity tracker. We adapt to new technology because they adapt to our needs, they make our lives easier – they change the quality of our lives. So when new tech like the Netatmo hits the market, I definitely sit up and take notice. With a seamless design and fully integrated app, Netatmo is the smart indoor climate monitor that takes four critical measurements of your indoor environment which can then be used to make healthy changes.

Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.com

Netatmo hosted media (including me), this afternoon for a Parisian baby shower, where we were able to have a first-hand view of the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach in action. The event was held at The Hudson Hotel penthouse – which has some of the prettiest event space in the city, and is simply gorgeous.

Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.comNetatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.comNetatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.comNetatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.com

We were joined by lifestyle expert Limor Suss, who shared with us the ways that Netatmo makes her life easier as a mom. The Netatmo Healthy Home Coach is slim and compact, allowing it to blend seamlessly into your nursery or home décor. What it does is use sensors to measure that space’s noise, humidity, air quality, and temperature. Lorni mentioned how babies sometimes wake up from their naps a little sweaty, well, the Netatmo climate monitor will notify the app on your phone when the room gets a little too warm or humid for your baby and offers suggestions on how to alter the room’s climate.

Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.com

The mobile app is compatible with iPhone iOS8 and above, as well as Android smartphone 4.3 and above. Alongside a handy dashboard, you can ask Siri the status of a rooms climate (it works with HomeKit), and the app also enables you to send notifications to whomever (babysitter, grandma, husband/wife, etc.) is at home and would be up to opening up a window when it gets too hot, or turning down the humidifier.

Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.comNetatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.com

Believe it or not, according to Netatmo most of us spend up to 80% of our life outdoors. So it’s definitely wise to invest in maintaining our indoor space. I really loved what the Netatmo representative said, “Stop guessing and start knowing”. Netatmo’s Healthy Home Coach is not just for babies – if you’re especially sensitive to humidity or would love to track the noise levels in your New York City apartment that might be causing you loss of sleep, the indoor climate monitor will definitely be useful to you too. Personally, I’m pretty excited to incorporate this device into my home, I love the concept of having access to information that will allow me to take more control over my home environment.

Netatmo Debuts Smart Indoor Climate Monitor | read more at nyctalon.com

The Netatmo Healthy Home Coach is available online here, as well as at Best Buy, Home Depot, and Amazon (ARV $100).

Interview: Katie Cassidy on NYFW #Hot2Adopt Feline Fashion Show & The Modern Cat Lady

This past week I was lucky enough to catch Katie Cassidy, star of CW’s Arrow and The Flash, between shows and speak to her about her NYFW Hot to Adopt Feline Fashion Show and Lounge with Fresh Step. In addition to a feline-inspired fashion show, complete with cats on the runway, the Hot to Adopt lounge also offered attendees an exclusive opportunity to adopt their very own feline right there!

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More information about the exclusive Hot to Adopt tee (as seen on Katie) after the interview:

The NYC Talon: Can you tell me a little bit about your Hot to Adopt Feline Fashion Lounge with Fresh Step, what can we expect?

Katie Cassidy: Yes, so you can expect feline inspired looks which I think is fun. I’ll be hosting the Hot to Adopt Feline Fashion event and fashion show with Fresh Step and I think it’ll be fun, I think it’ll be interesting. Obviously it’s for a good cause and you can actually purchase this shirt [pictured above, more details below] at freshsteps.com and part of it will go toward helping cat shelters all over the country, which is such a great cause and I’m excited to do it. I’m excited to see what people will wear, and actually we’ll be having cats walking down the runway which will be fun, yeah it’ll be very cute.

TNT: So I saw your post on TKC [Katie’s blog, post seen here], are cat ears something we’re going to see on the runway?

KC: Yeah, I certainly think so, I probably will wear some. I know there’ll be cat accessories that are very feline inspired, and it’ll be fun to bring that sort of awareness to people and get rid of that sort of crazy cat lady stigma. So we’ll be taking fashion and felines and sort of turning that stigma around. I actually just bought this clutch will a little cat face, it’s very cute.

TNT: Yes – I just saw that Kate Spade’s fall accessories have this adorable cat icon!

KC: Yeah and I just got this jacket from Stella McCartney that has this cat print all over it!

TNT: That sounds awesome. So, I know you have a cat…

KC: I do

TNT: And I think you have a dog, I’ve seen tweets with Felicia –

KC: [Laughs] To be honest with you I just love animals, and Felicia is my dog that I actually co-own with our stylist we have on Arrow, our hairstylist. Because when I travel, it’s hard when you have a dog or a cat, but a cat, obviously they can take care of themselves – but not for too long! But you can’t really leave a dog at home. Yeah, she’s been really fun.

TNT: I know you mentioned earlier about the cat lady stigma, what would you define as the ‘modern cat lady’?

KC: Hmm, the modern cat woman. Well, that’s what I think is so cool about this kind of thing because it’s bringing fashion and felines together and you have these, like as we saw on the cover of Porter magazine recently that there is a cat on the cover and I think adopting cats is more than just on trend, and we’re seeing them more on like cute clutches and shoes and it’s a sign of strong independent women. It’s something that’s cool, and again I love cats – actually [laughs] I want to get another one!

TNT: I’m a massive fan of your blog, are we going to see some What Katie Wore posts for Fashion Week?

KC: Yes! You certainly will, I have a photoshoot happening at some point tomorrow, I don’t know what time but yes you will.

TNT: Cats are kind of classified as lounging animals, if you have one day to absolutely lounge about and devote to rest & relaxation, what would you do?

KC: Everybody loves the spa, I feel like. Probably…I don’t know if I would just like have a relaxation day… I would probably go get a facial, or go to the gym, or not talk on the phone, or go on social media. I would probably just want to be by myself, you know? And order lots of pizza.

TNT: A girl after my own heart!

KC: Yeah – girl, pizza is my jam!

And that concludes my interview with Katie! She was so sweet, and I was very excited to interview her. She was in a rush, which was lucky otherwise I very well might have bombarded her with my embarrassing Arrow/The Flash Black Canary/Black Siren questions.

To purchase Katie’s exclusive Hot to Adopt t-shirt, check out FreshStep.com here.

I love Fresh Step’s commitment to encouraging and celebrating cat ownership, and this tee is honestly adorable. But there’s more! All through the month of October Fresh Step wants you to step out and declare your love of modern cat ladies (and gentlemen too!) by declaring “Feline Fashion Fridays” – cat owners cat show their love of cats by posting a picture of themselves with their cat to Fresh Step’s Instagram using the #freshstepcontest hashtag each Friday for a chance to win free Fresh Step litter, a $250 VISA Gift Card, and the limited edition #hot2adopt T-shirt!

Check out FreshStep.com for more info.

Why You Do Not Want to Miss the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel NYC Wine & Food Festival

Every year NYC eagerly awaits the hottest food event of the year – the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival. The NYCWFF is a four-day long festival featuring a variety of food related activities and as many food celebrities as you could ever want to see. You can rub elbows with Rachel Ray at her annual Blue Moon Burger Bash, or hang with the entire cast of Chopped at their rooftop event at Pier 92. Why stop there? With a plethora of food events, tastings, and seminars and panels, you really have a multitude of options – here are some of our favorites:

The Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite

If you only do one event, go to the Grand Tasting. Not only do you get a swag bag, but you also get to spend hours wandering around a 130,000-square-foot culinary wonderland. You’ll get to sample food from some of NYC’s finest establishments, sip wine & spirits from the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of New York portfolio, and collect cooking techniques and tips at the Samsung Culinary Demonstrations. Bring a friend, you’ll both have an amazing time. Tickets start at $185, get yours here.

Brunch

While the coveted Lobster Place Oyster Bash is sold out (we’re still crying over our lack of tickets), there are three other brunch events to choose from – Josh Capon will be hosting the New York Yankees Pinstripe Brunch presented by Delta Airlines, if you have a Mastercard then you’ll definitely want to check out Broadway Tastes presented by Variety, and if you’re on a budget A Brunch with Craftsman and Wolves hosted by James Beard Award-nominated Chef William Werner is only $85! Act fast, tickets sell out quickly!

Bank of America Dinner Series Curated by Chefs Club

So you’ve missed out on A Dinner with Ghetto Gastro hosted by Martha Stewart, but don’t despair there are plenty of other great dinners to attend. Explore Israeli and Middle Eastern culinary traditions at A Kosher Dinner with Elior Balbul, Eden Grinshpan, Amitzur More, and Yehuda Sichel, who are bringing kosher cuisine to the forefront of the NYC dining scene.

Other options include:

  • A Dinner with Melissa Clark, Marco Canora, Sara Jenkins and Marc Murphy – Thursday, Oct. 13th at 7:30pm, $250.
  • A Dinner with Floyd Cardoz and Anita Lo – Thursday, Oct. 13th at 7pm, $250.
  • A Dinner with Mourad Lahlou and Alex Stupak – Thursday, Oct. 13th at 7pm, $250.
  • A Dinner with Deuki Hong and Edward Lee – Friday, Oct. 14th at 7pm, $250.

Full listing here.

Hands-on Classes

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If you’re looking to get your hands dirty, NYCWFF offers some excellent hands-on events. You can learn how to add spice to your kitchen with Lior Lev Sercarz’ A Guide to the World of Spices, where you’ll not only create your own custom blends but you’ll also head out with an early release of Lior’s upcoming cookbook!

You can also learn how to bake bread with Zach Golper of Bien Cuit, roast like a pro with The New York Times’ Melissa Clark, and decorate cakes with none other than Sylvia Weinstock! Classes will take place in state-of-the-art professional culinary kitchens at the Institute of Culinary Education. For a full listing of hands-on classes, and to buy tickets click here.

There really are so many awesome events to choose from, and if you’re on a budget then definitely check out the $100 and under options as you’ll certainly find something to your taste there! Are you planning on going to the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival? What event sounds the most exciting to you? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to send me a tweet with the #NYCWFF hashtag!

*Photos courtesy of NYCWFF, from NYCWFF 2015*

Get Out & About: NYC Events this September

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In my opinion fall is New York’s best season, it’s the perfect time to wander around and enjoy the city. You could also head up to the Hudson River Valley and go apple picking or on a wine tasting tour – basically, it’s the most ideal time to enjoy the best of New York, it’s when I consider myself the luckiest to live here. This month, the season of social activities kicks off with some great events, so if you’re not too busy during New York Fashion Week or too exhausted after it you’ll definitely want to check these out*:

Weekend Getaways with the MTA LIRR -

Montauk Tour

Getting away has never been easier thanks to the MTA! My family usually goes on an MTA getaway every fall. Heading upstate for apple picking, and wine & cheese tasting adventures while surrouned by the beauty of the Hudon Valley region is the highlight of my autumn. This year Long Island is looking like a great destination too! Right now Gilt City is offering discounted tickets for a Montauk Tour, Wine Country Tour, and Oyster Festival – don’t miss out. Kick off cooler weather with a perfect day adventure (prices $3-67, more info here).

Gilt City Warehouse Sale: Brooklyn Edition -

Gilt City Warehouse Sale

Sip on SOTO Super Premium Junmai Daiginjo Japanese Sake and snack on Twinkies (um, how ideal does that sound?) as you shop through Gilt City’s warehouse sale. Merchandise waits for you to snap up at up to 80% off retail, featuring designer brands like Valentino, Tibi, Sandro, Derek Lam, Helmut Lang, Tom Ford, John Varvatos, and more! The sale takes place from Friday September 9th to Saturday with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available. Get your ticket here!

Pig Island -

Pig Island

Pig out at the annual Pig Island celebration! On September 10th join fellow foodies at the Erie Basin Park in Red Hook for this porky celebration featuring all things pig. Dine on decadent beer and pork samples from New York’s best chefs, brewers, hard-cider makers and vinters. General admission for one is just $75, and $150 for two. Take a pal and go hog wild! Details here.

US Open 2016 -

The US Open 2016

This Tuesday, September 6th, go where all the cool kids go – to the US Open! The final Grand Slam event of the season takes place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing NY, where you might catch a glimpse of tennis royalty like Serena or Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal. Score 40% off upper promenade admission on Gilt City here.

LUCKYRICE Moon Festival Cocktail Feast -

LUCKYRICE Event NYC

Hit the town on September 16th at the LUCKYRICE Moon Festival Cocktail Feast. Held at the Bowery Hotel, this raved about event offers a delicious way for event-goers to enjoy Asian inspired Bombay Sapphire East Gin cocktails from top New York mixologists. Make it a girls night out with VIP admission and enjoy an additional hour of sipping and tasting. Tickets on sale here.

The New York Coffee Festival -

The New York Coffee Festival

This is my kind of event. NYC has a passionate coffee culture, as evidenced by The New York Coffee Festival. Featuring over 70 artisanal coffee purveyors and gourmet food stalls, this will be the NYCF’s second year – it’s a perfect event for any coffee fan! Score 40% off VIP admission – that means all day access and priority access at the entrance (because nothing should keep you from a good brew) as well as other perks – on Gilt City here.

The Great Big Bacon Picnic -

The Great Big Bacon Picnic

Because one pig event wasn’t enough, The Great Big Bacon Picnic in Williamsburg is another chance for you (and a friend or two) to celebrate all things bacon! Top-shelf spirits and craft beer will be served alongside bacon delicacies from over 100 local chefs, brewmasters, and distillers. Saturday, September 24-25th | 3 sessions | tickets on sale here!

Refinery Rooftop’s Beach House Party -

Refinery's Rooftop Party

On Saturday, September 10th join Refinery for their Rooftop Beach House Party in midtown. Toast to the end of summer with specialty cocktails while snacking on tasty treats like sliders, ceviche, grilled steak, scrambled eggs, and more. Tickets here!

*While all of these events feature Gilt City links, this post is not sponsored by Gilt City, I just find Gilt an excellent way to find and save money on NYC experiences. Speaking of saving money, use my link to get 25% off your first purchase!

Helpful Essentials for Transitioning Back to Class

*This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media*

I just finished my summer semester last week, and now I’m back on campus for the fall semester. It’s great, and I feel uncharacteristically excited about this semester. I think it must be the impending cool weather, and the fact that my birthday and all the good holidays take place during the fall semester. Honestly, I’m thisclose to sipping pumpkin spice lattes, donning my brand new booties, and throwing leaves in the air as I prance around in my off-the-shoulder off-white cable knit sweater, reveling in my utter basic-ness. Before I get ahead of the season, it is important to acknowledge that this is back-to-school season, where buying dorm supplies and picking out matching folders is a national endeavor. I was lucky enough to get my mitts (cool weather fashion, anyone? No? still too early?) on a brand new BabbleBoxx! Chock full of amazing goodies that are ideal for those of us heading back to college, here are my picks for heading back to class:

Instax Camera by Fuiji FilmBabbleBoxx College

FUJIFILM’s new INSTAX MINI 70 is perfect for capturing every late night study sesh or Spring break fiesta. I love old school instant film cameras, the great thing about the INSTAX MINI 70 is that you get that awesome instant film aesthetic but with the benefits of all the excellent features that this camera has – that includes macro and micro focus, as well as a selfie mode. The selfie mode automatically adjusts settings for perfect selfies – so you can make sure to get everyone in your snaps! I’m understating things by saying I’m kind of obsessed with this, I’ve already started my own photo collage. Thinking about putting together a college care pack for your collegiate? They’ll love one of these, trust me. Available in Canary Yellow, Moon White, Island Blue, Passion Red, Midnight Black, and Stardust Gold – check out the entire collection here.

New Instax Miniiced coffee

Being able to plan ahead and learning how to cook for one (or two) is definitely something you should do before you walk for your diploma. GreenPan’s Mini Ceramic Non-Stick pans are perfect for cooking for one, its size is great for portion control plus space efficiency, and the handle is silicone coated! I love my new Square Egg Pan, it’s more than adorable – I actually have never been able to do proper sunny-side-up eggs until I got this pan. Turns out that’s thanks to the Thermolon™ ceramic non-stick surface which was designed for perfect frying results, using less oil, and needing less cleaning. Since using it I have yet to tear a yolk! Basically, with tools like the GreenPan, I can pull together a back to school or study brunch in a snap. I am the brunch queen.

GreenPan is offering The NYC Talon readers an amazing back to school discount! From now until September 4th get 20% off AND free shipping with the promo code ‘SCHOOL20′. Start planning your back to school brunch and check out all the GreenPan’s here!

Green Pan1eggses

You’ll definitely want to make sure you have everything you need for that first day back. My first fall class was on Thursday and I can’t tell you how many people were without paper or pens. Even on that first day you get weighed down with a ton of information – what your semester schedule will be like, your professor’s office hours, online course codes, what days your lecture won’t be meeting for class, etc. The student next to me earned major side-eye from one of my professors because he was unprepared. You’ll want a pen that can help you take notes like a pro! My favorite pens are these new Zebra pens – they’re the sort of pens you would never lend out for fear of losing them. They write smoothly, the H-301 Steel Highlighter doesn’t bleed, and 3 Series Ballpoint pens are dreamy. They look as well as they write – sleek and professional. I love using their color gel pens to color code my agenda, they dry in less than a second and the ink is smooth and distinct. If you’re someone who is stationary and writing-implement obsessed like me, you will love these.

Back to School NeccessitiesBest Pens for Back to School

Keep chapped lips at bay with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula FlipBalms! These are so cool, my sisters immediately laid claim to two of these. Palmer’s is my go-to for cocoa butter products, they always have impeccable quality products and these new FlipBalms are no exception. Available in three flavors – Juicy Watermelon, Creamy Coconut, and Ripe Mango – they feature a revolutionary “flip to open” packaging design, which I adore because it keeps you from losing the lid, and it keeps you from having to touch (and potentially get dirty) the balm itself. The formulation is packed with natural ingredients like pure Cocoa Butter, raw Shea Butter, and Vitamin E. I love that they fit easily into my purse, so my lips are always moisturized.

Palmer's Lip Balms

Speaking of my purse, you can pretty much always find Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths tucked in there somewhere. As a female constantly on the go, there’s no denying the usefulness of these cloths. They’re great for post-gym, and I loved that they rely on gentle formulas that are hypoallergenic, alcohol free, and won’t irritate sensitive skin. Plus, the individualized packaging makes them discreet to carry around – they’re also available in Island Splash and Sheer Floral.

Summer's Eve

Do you have any back to school essentials? How to you ease into a new semester? Let me know!

FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 70 | GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Egg Pan | Zebra Pens | Palmer’s NEW Cocoa Butter Formula FlipBalms | Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths

Celebrating #TalkingCars100 & Test Driving the Tesla Model S with Consumer Reports!

I am officially listing this past weekend on my 2016 highlight reel. I was invited, along with a select group of influencers to head out to Connecticut and take part in the taping of Talking Cars’ 100th Podcast episode. Talking Cars is an extremely popular podcast created by the Consumer Reports team and last Saturday enthusiasts and podcast fans flew in from all over the country for a chance to talk to the podcasts stars! How awesome is that?!

Consumer Report Test Track

Thanks to my mom, I’ve known about Consumer Reports for a while. But I didn’t know that they are a actually a nonprofit, and I also didn’t know that they buy all of the cars they test. All of them. To remove bias that might stem from media review vehicles, they purchase all of the cars that they review themselves. Because they can’t have manufacturers catch on, they’ve developed an intriguing system of purchasing cars, I can’t say much but it involves long distances and some significant dedication.

Consumer Reports Talking CarsTalking Cars 100th Episode Taping

The Talking Cars Podcast was taped in the Consumer Reports garage, which for the day was emptied of the latest cars, and filled with fans, enthusiasts, and media. The panelists were car experts Jennifer Stockburger, Jake Fisher, Tom Mutchler, and Jon Linkov. They discussed the latest trends in cars, which cars they liked the most/least, and the future of manufacturing. Honestly, it was ridiculously interesting. I’m definitely thinking about my first car purchase, and the options and experience of these folks was really invaluable – whether you’re looking for a new car, your first car, or like the 13-year-old fan who had an extensive knowledge about fuel efficient vehicles – you’re a real fan of the industry.

Afterwards they fielded questions from the audience, which was amazing to be a part of. Talking Cars has generated a genuine following and you could really tell that the fans and the experts were so excited to talk cars in real time and in person. Consumer Reports provides in-depth, independent reviews – you can count on them for thorough testing and honest opinions. They definitely have the consumer in mind, as Jennifer Stockburger said when discussing car seat options “You don’t need a $500 model, our best option so far is a $40 model.” They’re clearly not about the fanciest option – they’re about what works best for you as a consumer.

Tesla

After taping wrapped Jennifer took us out on the track to test drive the Tesla Model S. Now, I’m something of an Elon Musk fan. I find his work intriguing and I’ve long wanted to find out what a Tesla drives like. Suffice it to say, it was amazing. Ah-maze-ing. Like if I could only own one car ever, I would choose the Tesla S hands-down.

Consumer Reports Testing Tesla S

Jennifer explained the various features of the electric car, including its touch screen panel which you use to control the car. You can also quickly get a google map view of your location – which means no more getting lost. The touch screen panel can also be used to surf the web, and check your email – which you should never do while driving (in case you were wondering). Setting the car to “Insane”, we almost instantly went from 0 to 100 mph. I don’t know if ‘car euphoria’ is a real term, but I experienced it then. For me it was like those exciting moments of lift-off on an airplane, or that feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster or a great theme park ride.

Tesla Model S InteriorTesla S Interior

Jennifer (who is a 16 year Consumer Report veteran herself) also showed us how well the car swerved to avoid hitting objects. She told us about their testing standards, how they don’t test in extreme temperatures because it affects how the car drives, how they even test how every vehicle hydroplanes, as well as how everyone at the CR Connecticut office tries each car out – which takes into account the varied consumer. Driving around in the Tesla, I wouldn’t have minded staying out on the track for hours. Even though we weren’t out there a long time, by the time we headed off the track I was in love. Honestly I don’t typically speak car, but I couldn’t stop talking about this car for days. And I might just be 1001% jealous of Jennifer and the rest of the Consumer Reports team, I envy them their jobs – minus the YouTube comment moderating they mentioned.

Consumer Reports Tesla Model S

Thanks so much for having me out Consumer Reports!

Are you a Consumer Reports fan? How about Talking Cars? Catch their latest podcast here! Do you have a favorite or a dream car? I’d love to know, tell me about it in the comments or send me a tweet!

Go for the Gold & Get Equipped to Achieve Your Fitness Goals!

*This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media*

This past year has been an interesting journey for me. In the past ten months I’ve found a fitness activity that I really actually like. I remember reading a zillion health and fitness magazines, and there were so many features on people who had met their fitness and weight goals and they would always say something like “find a workout you love, and it’ll be easier”. I never really bought it until I found mine. The trick is staying motivated and inspired – and the right gear can definitely help you get there.

BabbleBox Gold

With so many athletes setting amazing new athletic records this summer, it’s not hard to find inspiration! Even though I’m not a gymnast, the ladies on the USA team have been amazing these games – I’ve been following their performances like a true patriot, and I’d like to think my new gear reflects that. I recently scored some ridiculously amazing high performance compression workout tights by 2XU in my BabbleBoxx. I’m kind of obsessed with the red, white, and blue “X” going on the legs, but these tights are more than pretty. They also feature graduated compression, engineered to promote maximum blood flow – which means a faster pre-exercise muscle warm up, reduced muscle soreness, and reduced fatigue through less muscle oscillation. Plus, right now the code 2XU20 will score you 20% off!

Best Workout Gear

To add to my red, white, and blue collection, the Baby-G Tri-Color Watch – from Casio’s female timepiece brand – was created as a counterpart to the 1994 G-SHOCK. It’s pretty darn amazing, I got so many compliments on it at my last spin class. It’s shock and water resistant, and has multiple daily alarms and stopwatch functions.

Baby G Casio WatchBaby G WatchBaby G Shock Watch

You guys already know I’m obsessed with The Vitamin Shoppe, last time I was in there I was wearing my Vitamin Shoppe shirt and was mistaken for an employee. Despite my fandom knowing no bounds, I actually had no idea about TRUE ATHLETE until recently. TRUE ATHLETE by the Vitamin Shop is basically the new name in sports nutrition supplements. It was created for fitness enthusiasts, formulated with care by The Vitamin Shoppe, it is free of banned supplements, as well as artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.

True Athlete Training Formula

I tried the TRUE ATHLETE® ZMA with Theanine, Energized Training Formula in Fruit Punch, as well as the Natural Whey Protein Packets. I am obsessed with the whey protein packets – I have this handy blender bottle now, and throwing a decent protein drink together is a seamless experience. Which is always good, I’ll take simple in any area of my life – when I can.

Purpletale Steps to Lovely Skin

I am not one of those pretty workout people. I do not emerge from 45 minutes of spin looking like someone who has that mythical “post-workout glow”. I look like someone who was almost suffocated. To get any kind of glow I have to drink inordinate amounts of water and pamper my rebellious skin. But it’s worth the effort, Purpletale shares my outlook that when you look good on the outside, it helps you feel good on the inside. Purpletales 5 step all in one facial kit starts with a foam cleanser, followed by an ampoule, then an invigorating bio-cellulous sheet mask, step four is a facial cream, and finally neck cream. My skin feels horrible after a workout, I think it has to do with all the salty sweat and heat. I used this an my skin felt really light and clean, soft and hydrated – taking care of oneself sure has its benefits. I also love that these are TSA approved – so grab it on the go, one of these kits would be awesome on those long 8-hour flights.

Just Water

You’ve probably seen JUST Water’s water bottles around before. It’s 100% spring water, and that iconic paper water bottle is made of 83% renewable resources, which is done by using paper and plant-based plastic from sugarcane, resulting in a 74% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to a range of traditional plastic bottles. This is not your standard bottle of water. This is bottle water worthy of gold medal toting athletes. Or even folks like me – people taking simple steps, with the help of great products, to achieve some pretty inspirational goals.

Do you have a favorite fitness product? What helps to keep you motivated? I’d love to know, let me know in the comments or send me a tweet!