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.

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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.

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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.

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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.*

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

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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:

Everything You Need to Prep for all of Your Holiday Parties

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

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There is nothing I like better than a good holiday party. I’ll snap up any opportunity to get all dolled up, and I feel like we’re all granted a little leeway to get ridiculously glittery and glamorous during the holidays. There’s nothing more festive than velvet heels, glitter eyeshadow, cat eyes, and a flute of champagne in hand. Thanks to BabbleBoxx, I’m sharing with you my favorite picks for getting party perfect in a pinch!

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I’ve mentioned my super-dry lips before. Nothing ruins an expensive lipstick (of which I may have placed many on my wishlist), like dried out and flaky lips. Taking care of your lips should be right up there with the amount of time we spend worrying about the state of our eyebrows. The Chapstick Total Hydration Lip Scrub is effective at sloughing away any rough patches, and leaving your lips soft and perfectly kissable – cue the mistletoe! Another bonus? This scrub is perfectly affordable, which I love, and make for a perfect stocking stuffer.

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Another Chapstick product I can’t live without this season? Their new Total Hydration Moisture & Tint Lip Balm. In three gorgeous shades – Merlot, Coral Blush, Rose Petal – these lip balms use ingredients that are naturally sourced like Rosehip Seed Oil and Argan Oil. The formulation is really gorgeous and doesn’t feel oily or sticky, and the colors themselves lend a really pretty tint to your lips.

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Masks have ruled the beauty marketplace for a few years now and with good reason. There’s nothing like being able to apply a mask and forget it, letting them work their magic as you dance around your apartment to Carey, Buble, and Crosby. Or is that just me? The Dr. Brandt 3-D Filler Mask is a leave-on mask that works to counteract the effects of aging. It’s basically a gentle push-up for the lower half of your face. Among is benefits is the ability to visually add volume to plump the skin and visually smooth laugh lines. I’ve loved all the Dr. Brandt products that I’ve owned and this one is no exception. This mask is sure to get you feeling ready for a night on the town or that amazing New Year’s Eve party you’re planning on attending! Sore 20% off your mask by using the code BABBLE3D and going through this link.

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If you’ve been around here before, you know I’m always on the hunt for the ‘perfect’ hairspray. I probably won’t be satisfied until they come out with a hairspray that reaches out and does my hair for me while serving me champagne and a giving me a manicure. A girl can dream. Until then I’ve got MarulaOil Rare Oil Protecting Hair Spray. It’s a flexible, layerable hairspray that works to replenish your hair while holding it. I know what you’re thinking, “layerable?!” While visions of helmet hair float through your head, let me assure you that this is not the case. This hairspray leaves your hair perfectly touchable and shiny, even after multiple applications. Definitely worth finishing off your party ‘do with. This Protecting Hair Spray retails at around $26, find out more here.

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Katy Perry’s advice for applying perfume? “I never spritz on my skin. I always spritz and walk into it and I like to spray on my hair.” Take it from Katy, whose new Katy Perry Mad Love Fragrance is already social media famous. The fragrance itself is really fun with top notes of Lady Apple Sorbet, Mara Strawberry, and Pink Grapefruit, a heart of Peony Petals, Sun-kissed Jasmine, and Bleeding Heart flower, as well as a base of Sandalwood, Skin Mush, and Coconut Wood. The bottle itself features a trendy marble top, with pink glass and black labeling. I’m fairly certain this fragrance found its way on many a wishlist this year, and it would make a great scent to spritz before you head out  for your end of the year bash! To find more deets and purchase, click here!

So what parties do you have planned for the end of 2016?

Pixi by Petra’s Holiday Beauty Picks

It’s that time of year! I’m lucky enough to have gotten my mittens (have you broken yours out of storage yet? I sure have!) on Pixi’s newest holiday additions. Holiday collections are always so much fun in my opinion, as they always feature such creative designs. This year, Pixi’s holiday picks have this really beautiful holly and mistletoe design that feels like a lovely modern take on an old-school holiday motif. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about this year but I feel really nostalgic for old-school holidays – maybe I’ve watched Little Women too many times? Can one actually watch Little Women too many times? The answer to that is no. Anyways, enough about my Jo & Laurie obsession, here are Pixi’s prettiest under-the-tree treats and stocking stuffers:

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If you’ve used Pixi before than you know that their Endless Silky Eye Pens are amazing. I used to say “they’re money!” in a very Guy Fieri-like manner, but then I was banned from using that term by my family when Guy Fieri became persona-non-grata after an over-enthused Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives binge-fest. It happens. Now I just say that these pens are amazing, and they are. Silky, ideal color payoff, warm blendability, and the color selection – which was great to start with – has now expanded to include this drool worthy rose gold color called OpalOvercoat. Stick it in your mother, daughter, co-worker, beauty addicted friend’s stocking. They will love it. You get a great rose-gold shade with this that is buildable and easy to work with.

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The Palette Rosette is an all-in-one colour kit featuring highlighters, eye shadows, and brow shadows, as well as glow, blush, and contour in some very pretty shades. The contour powder looks like a warmer, subtly glowing, version of their Natural Contour Powder. The shadows themselves are very useful basics (the ones you always run out of), great for travel, my sister asked for this in her wishlist – she’s not a big fan of having to root through her makeup bag in the morning and wants a palette like this to streamline her process. It is new to their collection, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s a holiday exclusive – so I would snap it up now just in case.

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The real pièce de résistance is the new Fairy Dust Favorites. A tower of high pigmented loose shadows, Fairy Dust Favorites come in two varieties – Metallic Warmth and Matte Classics. I love, love, love that Pixi has Matte Classics – as you know glitter and shimmer is not always ideal, especially if you have more delicate eyelids, so Pixi including this collection of five matte loose eyeshadow pigments scores major points in my book. I was sent Metallic Warmth, which features these beauties:

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As you can see, these colors are really rich and beautiful. They show up in tone and in person almost exactly as they look in this pic, with the added metallic dimension. I must admit, was a little apprehensive about the black pigment. I feel like if you buy even the most basic of palettes, you’ll get black eyeshadow. I have so many black eyeshadows that getting another one is not a thrill for me. BUT this pigment does not show up as pure black for me. It has more depth and comes out as this smoky gunmetal that actually makes this shade a completely new one for me. It’s really fun to play with, especially with the deep red and bronze pigments. Speaking of which, I spilled the red all over myself. I looked like the victim of some unfortunate accident and I was utterly devastated that I lost half of the eyeshadow in one go. Somehow I will pick myself up and find a way to soldier on.

If you only get one thing from Pixi from this post, get the Fairy Dust Favorites. I already plan on purchasing the Matte Classics and can see myself repurchasing the Metallic Warmth (especially after the spill!). If you’re buying for someone else, definitely give the palette a look – the value and quality is definitely worth it. And if you’re just looking for a guaranteed winner – that rose gold eyeliner is too cute to ignore.

Anything catch your eye?

PIXI Palette Rosette ($28) | Fairy Dust Favorites in Metallic Warmth ($12) | Endless Silky Eye Pen in OpalOvercoat ($12) | Mattelustre Lipstick in Classic Red ($12)

Master of Multitasking – PIXI’s Multibalm Collection

Multipurpose products are my favorite. Sometimes I don’t have the desire (or space) to carry extra product when I’m on the go, so multitaskers like Pixi’s Multibalms always have a special place in my makeup bag.

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The collection, out since earlier this summer, features five shades – Wild Rose, Baby Petal, Soft Strawberry, Watermelon Veil, and Sheer Sculpt. They feature a multi-use stay-on crème-powder formula that is infused with aloe vera, shea butter, and rose hip oil.

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Designed to be used on your cheeks and lips, the formula is really very amenable to both. I was initially worried that they might show up as dry, but actually the consistency is very light and buildable and not at all chalky – which is most likely due to that infusion of shea butter and rose hip oil.

My favorite of the five has been the Wild Rose and Soft Strawberry, the colors are all fairly safe and you can go deeper in tone with all of them with repeated application. I quite like the subtle look you can get with these and also that if you take them on-the-go you really can go from day to night with them very easily.

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I think the most surprising of the five, for me, has been the Sheer Sculpt – I love using this for on the go contouring, and it is perfect if you’re new to or shy about contouring. It’s subtle, but works well enough on one application to have that contoured effect. If you’re going for a more sculpted look, the formulation is nice enough that going in for a heavier application of product will not leave your skin looking dried out and powder heavy.

Definitely another A+ product in the Pixi line-up, and at only $12, they definitely rank (especially the Sheer Sculpt) as one of my favorite Target beauty buys. Find out more, or purchase the Multibalms here!

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What are your favorite Pixi beauty purchases?

Follow me on twitter, RT the tweet below (or here) and tell me what you think of the Multibalm collection (or any of your favorite Pixi purchases!) in a comment below for your chance to win all five of the Multibalms!

*Disclaimer: Product samples were sent in order to facilitate this review, all opinions are my own. R&R: Giveaway ends October 4th, 2016. US only, 18 and over. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

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!

Matrix Oil Wonders Volume Rose Collection Review

For the past few weeks I’ve been gradually lightening my hair. Lightening or bleaching your hair is a surprisingly tenuous process. In addition to blonder strands, the process can also bring out the beauty geek in you – suddenly you’re looking for items like T-18 toners, color sealers, color boosters, and deep conditioning activators. You’ll spend an hour in the beauty aisle debating the effects of olaplex with other bottle blondes, all while flipping through your saved pins of gorgeous (and totally unrealistic) blonde hair looks. This entire coloring process is actually very interesting, but all this work has really made me even pickier than normal about what I’m putting in my hair. I don’t want to damage the color and I certainly don’t want a product that needs to be piled on to be effective. Enter Matrix’s new addition to the Oil Wonders line, the Volume Rose Collection.

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The Oil Wonders Volume Rose Collection consists of five products: a pre-shampoo treatment, shampoo, conditioner, plumping mousse, and finishing spray. The entire line is infused with rosehip oil, and smells divine. Matrix does a great job with scents in general, and this one is not obnoxiously rosey (it’s not your grandma’s potpourri) – it’s floral without being soapy, and makes your entire bathroom smell lovely. Also, how gorgeous is the packaging!? I’m in love with rose gold look to this collection, it’s so nice to go in the shower and see these – it’s so luxurious!

Matrix Oil Wonders Shampoo ConditionerOil Wonders Volume Rose Review

But does it work? The line boasts an up 78% more volume for fine hair when using the entire system. While I was using the line I definitely noticed increased volume – in particular, after using the plumping mousse.

At first I was not thrilled with the idea of using a pre-shampoo treatment. I thought it would weigh my hair down even more. However, the shampoo and conditioner (silicone free) are actually much more delicate, which leaves room for the oil based pre-shampoo treatment. The shampoo is a great cleanser, but I don’t get that sort of rough, stripped feeling when I’m done. And the conditioner leaves my strands slippery and silky.

Oil Wonders Pre Shampoo Treatment

Meanwhile, the pre-shampoo treatment is designed to provide dedicated nourishment to damaged strands in order to reduce breakage of fine hair. The treatment is meant to attach to only the damaged areas of hair to ensure zero added weight. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! This treatment is exactly what my hair needed after all that bleach and toner. I did find that I prefer to apply the treatment to the ends of my hair and along my hairline where the damage has been more concentrated and it has worked wonderfully. I mean, I can definitely tell the difference in the texture of my hair from prior to using the collection to now, especially when I’m heat styling it.

Matrix Oil Wonders

The collection runs from $18-24 depending on which product you’re getting. I definitely recommend taking a look at this collection if you’re looking to pamper your strands, or even if you’ve recently colored your hair like I have. Find out more about the Oil Wonders Rose Oil Collection here.

*Product samples were provided in order to facilitate this review. However, all opinions presented here are my own.*