3/29/12

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: The Seven Stars Cookbook

By now I'm sure you're all familiar with the Total Rewards program I've been blogging and tweeting about of late. I've explored the entertainment side of things by posting about the epic Diddy/Mariah Carey concert I was able to go too, but Caesar's is partnered with lots of celebrity chefs, many of whom actually have restaurants in NYC as well (more on that in future posts). To whet everyone's appetites a bit, I'm holding a giveaway!


The Seven Stars Cookbook is a compilation of recipes from chefs associated with the Caesar's brand. And let me tell you, there's some gooooooooooood stuff in there! Ever wanted to make cheese biscuits a la Paula Deen? What about blue corn-crusted red snapper like Bobby Flay? I definitely want to try the chocolate coconut cake recipe by Francois Payard - yum! In addition to all the wonderful recipes, it's a beautiful book full of colorful photos.

So who feels like being adventurous in the kitchen? Who wants to try something new! I'm giving away one cookbook and there are 5 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry. Please include your email in any and all comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Click on this link and register for Total Rewards and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet about this event "I just entered to win The Seven Stars Cookbook on Awesome In New York! http://bit.ly/H1JgC7" and let me know with a link to your tweet in a comment below.

5) Check out the cookbook on Amazon and leave a comment letting me know which recipe you are most excited to try.

One winner will be chosen using Random.org on Tuesday 4/3. You have until Tuesday 4/3 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

3/15/12

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 2 Tickets to Just Sex

Despite the name in the title of this post, I can assure you that Just Sex does not take place at a gentleman's club. It's an off-Broadway play that tells the story of a married couple, Katherine and William, and their exploration of extramarital escapades which lead to some interesting circumstances. This limited engagement at the Theater for the New City (155 1st Ave) follows up from a sold-out run at last year's Dream Up Festival.



All my readers are in luck! I'm giving away a pair of tickets to see Just Sex! There are 5 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry, so you can comment up to 5 times. Please include your email in any and all comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Like the Just Sex Facebook page and leave this comment on their wall: "I'm looking forward to seeing Just Sex and hopefully winning tickets on Awesome in New York! http://bit.ly/ymTisk" Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet about this event "I just entered to win 2 tix to see @JustSexPlay on Awesome In New York! http://bit.ly/ymTisk" and let me know with a link to your tweet in a comment below.

5) Click on this link and register to play the Total Rewards online game and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

A winner will be chosen using Random.org on Tuesday 3/20. You have until Tuesday 3/20 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!




A winner has been chosen! Congratulations to John! You have won 2 tickets to Just Sex! Thanks to everyone who entered!

If you can't wait and want to order tickets ASAP, here's a deal for you for all performances through April 15. Visit Justsexplay.com or call 212-868-4444 and use code RRMGEN for $20 tickets (normally $225).

3/14/12

Roosevelt Remembered

This past weekend I crossed something off my ever-growing NYC bucket list. After visiting the FDR compound up in Hyde Park, NY two years ago and learning that Theodore Roosevelt is the only US President born in NYC, I have been wanting to take a tour of his childhood brownstone to get a glimpse into what life in the 1800's was like ever since. 

I was thrilled to find out that tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (28 E. 20th Street) are free and given on the hour from 10-4 Tuesday-Saturday (with no tours at noon). I managed to sneak into the last tour of the day with Ranger Sam. Personally, I think it's pretty badass to be a ranger, but to be a ranger in NYC is a pretty unusual feat. Sam led our tour group, mostly comprised of tourists young and old as well as some families, through the house. I was a bit disappointed to learn that this wasn't the original house because after Mr. Roosevelt decided he didn't want to re-buy the house in 1916 when he was President, it was torn down. After he died in 1919, his sisters Anna and Corinne and niece Eleanor decided to rebuild and refurnish to create the historical site it is today. So while the frame is not original, the layout, most of the furniture and decor is.

Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Something that definitely struck me throughout the house was the lighting, or lack thereof. Sam told us that even though the house is currently outfitted with electricity, they tried to recreate the amount of lighting the family had in the late 1800s with gas lamps. Needless to say, it was dark, and the dark wallpapers only added to the gloominess of some rooms. However, some of the furnishings were amazing. The original marital bed and furniture set were carved from the most gorgeous wood and the glass-work throughout the house was magnificent. Teddy's grandfather was a glass trader so the family benefited immensely from that, in addition to the fact that the grandfather was fairly wealthy and bought the house for his son (Teddy Sr.) as a wedding gift. Not too shabby right?

First Floor Entranceway 
Fireplace in the Living Room
Teddy's Chair as a Boy
Glass Door in Between Living and Dining Rooms (and Ranger Sam)
Dishes were a Gift from Eleanor Roosevelt Upon Completion of the House
Dining Room
Parlor
Decor in the Parlor
Chandelier in the Parlor
The four Roosevelt children were raised by their aunt Anna. Suffering from asthma as a child, Teddy's father built him a mini gym in the back of the house that he would have to climb through a window to access. He was encouraged to work out to build his lungs big and strong and to overcome his asthma. The museum has an old medicine ball on display of the likes he used to use. Obviously, we all know this exercise worked out in his favor as we can all recall images of the Rough Rider, cowboy President. Another interesting fact we learned was that as a child, Teddy was really interested in taxidermy. He would collect dead animals he found throughout the city and came to found the "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" in his room at the tender age of 8. After he father helped found the American Museum of Natural History in 1869, Roosevelt donated his taxidermied works, a tradition that would continue throughout his adulthood in the Dakotas. In fact, a good portion of the animals on display in the museum today (bears, deer, lions!) were killed and donated by TR.

Doll in the Nursery
View to the makeshift gym in the back of the house

The actual crib that TR slept in as a baby
Marital Bed
Roosevelt had a long career in government, elected as the youngest NY State Assemblyman three years after he graduated from Harvard University. He also went on to serve on the US Civil Service Commission and as the NY City Police Commissioner. He was known as a strict leader, vastly reforming what was known as one of the most corrupt police forces in the country. Sam told us he would go around the city late at night and early in the morning, policeman to policeman, and check up to see if everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing when they were supposed to be doing it. He also established the first bicycle police squad and standardized the use of pistols by officers.

Newspaper Cartoon About TR as Police Commissioner
From there he went on to be governor of New York State, then Vice President of the US under William McKinley, and then President of the US after McKinley was assassinated. He is most know for establishing the Pure Food and Drug Act (which eventually led to the FDA), his conservation efforts, and for establishing the Progressive "Bull Moose" Party. I could continue to give you facts, but Ranger Sam recommended reading his biography by Elting E. Morrison, who used the research lab in the historic site to write the book.

If you find yourself with a spare hour in Union Square, I would highly recommend a visit to the TR Birthplace National Historic Site. It's transporting, informative, and just plain interesting. You can follow the historic site on Twitter. So what do you think about our 26th President? Do you think had a pretty plush life growing up in the 1800s? Have you been to the historic site? Are you planning to go?

3/12/12

AWESOME GIVEAWAY: 4 Tickets to Clybourne Park

The Spring 2012 Broadway season is in full swing with several new shows in previews anticipating April openings. One I'm particularly excited about is the Pulitzer Prize and Olivier Award winning Clybourne Park. Opening April 19, the play explores the concepts of race, realty and the volatile values of each. Despite the somewhat heavy nature of the story, Clybourne Park is said to be uproariously funny and brilliantly acted.



All my readers are in luck! I'm giving away 2 pairs of tickets to see Clybourne Park on Broadway! The tickets must be picked up at the box office the day of the show. There are 5 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry. Please include your email in any and all comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Like the Clybourne Park Facebook page and leave this comment on their wall: "I'm looking forward to seeing Clybourne Park and hopefully winning tickets on Awesome in New York! http://bit.ly/x5eQua" Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet about this event "I just entered to win 2 tix to see @ClybournePark on Awesome In New York! http://bit.ly/x5eQua" and let me know with a link to your tweet in a comment below.

5) Click on this link and register to play the Total Rewards online game and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

Two winners will be chosen using Random.org on Friday 3/16. You have until Friday 3/16 at 12 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

Check out a video preview for the show!



If you can't wait and want to order tickets ASAP, here's a deal for you for shows through May 6. To get Orch/Fr. Mezz tickets for $69 and Rear Mezz tickets for $55 visit BroadwayOffers.com or call 212-947-8844 and use code CPDML33. You can also use the code at the Walter Kerr Theatre box office before March 31.



Winners have been chosen! Congratulations to Brad and Art, Wine, & Whimsy! They were randomly chosen to win a pair of tickets to Clybourne Park! Check your email guys! Thanks to everyone who entered and check back for more awesome giveaways soon!

3/5/12

The Best Little Known Cupcake Secret

NYC has it's fair share of cupcakeries to choose from. There's Magnolia with it's uber creamy frosting, Butter Lane with it's wide array of flavors. Baked By Melissa has the teeny ones and Crumbs has the Big Kahuna ones. West Coast transplant Sprinkles quietly opened up one location in midtown (Lexington between 60th and 61st) and what I'm about to tell you will blow your cupcake mind--they give away free cupcakes EVERY DAY!


Really, I feel foolish spreading this news with the world because I love knowing that should I ever have the craving, I can walk the 1.5 blocks to the shop (aren't I lucky to work so close?!) and grab a little pick-me-up with nothing expected of me in return. However, this deal is too good not to share and I honestly don't think they even give away the 50 or so they are allowed to every day.

How does this magical deal work you ask? Well, every day between 12-2 Sprinkles posts a code word or phrase on both their national Twitter account and Facebook page. Usually the code word will give you a specific flavor of cupcake, but some days you are allowed to choose what you want. You walk into Sprinkles, say the code word and you are handed a cupcake. I often get stares from people waiting in line to buy cupcakes with, you know, money, and that just adds to my overall satisfaction of the experience. Oh and did I mention that this codeword is good at all of the Sprinkles stores in the country? So if you ever find yourself in LA, Chicago, Dallas, DC, etc. you can still score yourself a free treat.

In addition to this lovely little promotion, if you join Sprinkle's birthday club you will get a coupon for a free cupcake on your birthday. Could it get any sweeter?

3/2/12

Totally Rewarded


This post is a recap of the Total Rewards by Caesar's Entertainment concert I attended in NYC on 3/1/12. For information on Total Rewards or to play the Total Rewards game please visit this website. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a code for extra game play entries.

It's nights like last night when I truly feel cool. As we stood in the VIP line outside Gotham Hall, I had flashbacks to my epic experience in Vegas for New Years 2011. Making our way into the gorgeous space (they don't make banks like they used to!), we were ushered upstairs to the plush VIP room where we were instantly handed Ciroc Lemonades and started scoping the scene. We had spotted NY Knicks player Tyson Chandler on the red carpet outside (at 7 feet tall, he's hard to miss) and he looked comfy with his wife in a reserved section. A few minutes later, Katharine McPhee, star of the new show Smash, walked by in a gorgeous emerald dress. I wanted to ask for a picture without being super awkward, but after that first glimpse I didn't see her for the rest of the night. The rest of the VIP crowd was a combination of high rollers, big dudes that looked like they could play football/basketball (I'm terrible at recognizing sports stars) and models (at least that's what they looked like).

View from the VIP lounge
Check out that VIP wristband!
Reserved Table for the High Rollers
VIP Lounge
Tyson Chandler (sorry it's so dark!) 
The awesome thing about this concert was that it was part of a national event. Simultaneous concerts were happening in LA, New Orleans and Chicago, and different performances were shown on the big screen throughout the night. To get things started, Jimmy Kimmel welcomed everyone with a little skit that I unfortunately couldn't hear any of but I'm sure it was funny. Then NYC MC Mel B (yes, Scary Spice!) took the stage to announce Celine Dion. For a very quick second I thought she was going to step out from backstage, but instead she appeared on screen from her show at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. After kicking off some 1997 nostalgia by singing "My Heart Will Go On," Celine (who doesn't look a day over 30) handed it off to Cat Deeley in Los Angeles who began to fill everyone in on Caesar's Total Rewards program. Then Bill and Giuliana Rancic took the stage in Chicago to get everyone excited about all the fabulous acts playing throughout the night. Finally, Maria Menounos gave some more information about Total Rewards and got the crowd pumped up for a fabulous night.

Jimmy Kimmel welcoming everyone
Lots of spotlights
Mel B
Celine Dion in Las Vegas

Cat Deeley in LA
Bill and Giuliana Rancic in Chicago
Maria Menounos in New Orleans

Finally, after much anticipation, Diddy himself took to the stage in a medley of songs that weren't exactly his ("We Found Love (In A Hopeless Place)," "Sexy and I Know It," "Good Feeling"), however it got the crowd energized. I'll admit that I have never been a huge fan of Mr. Combs. I think it stems from the fact that I never know what to call him. Is there an initial? Is there part of his given name? Is there a puff anywhere in the mix? Even so, the guy knows how to put on a show. His presence filled the stage and I found myself singing a long to the majority of the songs he performed (you'll excuse my voice in the background of the videos below). Even though he only performed for half hour, his set was very dynamic and definitely entertaining.

Diddy
Diddy
Diddy

Diddy performs "I Need A Girl"

Diddy performs "All I Do Is Win"

Diddy performs "Mo Money, Mo Problems"

Diddy performs "Coming Home"

In the interim before Mariah came on, they streamed performances of Sarah Bareillis from Chicago, Gavin DeGraw (swoon!) from New Orleans and Lil Wayne from Los Angeles. I could not make out one word that came out of Lil' Wayne's mouth but that guy definitely has a way with the stage (and with making it look like he doesn't have any of his original teeth).

Sarah Bareillis
Gavin DeGraw
Lil Wayne

I'll take this time to describe more of what the VIP lounge was like since I have neglected to do so thus far. At this point, Mr. Chandler and Ms. McPhee had packed up and left so those remaining upstairs had a little more space to spread out and enjoy the experience. The food passed around was all delicious. My favorite was the little lobster mac n' cheese bites, although the crabcakes, plantain empanadas and olive polenta cakes were great as well. They were all teeny tiny, which was nice because I couldn't make a mess if I tried and I didn't get too full trying everything. They also had mini Italian meatballs and sliders, though I didn't get any. For drinks, I already mentioned that Ciroc was the alcohol sponsor, but I didn't mention the delicious raspberry martini I had complete with a gigantic real raspberry in a fancy martini glass. Yum! Unfortunately I didn't get any food pics, but I trust you can use your imagination.

Then came the moment we were all waiting for. To complete the 1990's nostalgia concert, Mariah Carey took the stage and fulfilled the majority of the room's pre-teenage dreams. She looked stunning in a floor-length mermaid black gown and her signature flowing locks. As her first performance after giving birth to twins last April, Mariah said she didn't know what the "big deal" was. Haha, oh Mariah. Her eight-song set,  included “It’s Like That,” “Shake It Off,” “Touch My Body,” “Obsessed,” “Always Be My Baby,” “We Belong Together” and “Hero,” with a quick make-up touch up mid-performance (still not sure what that was about).

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
Mariah getting touched up
Fluff the hair, fix the shoes
Mariah performs "Touch My Body"

Mariah performs "Always Be My Baby"

I'll definitely applaud the event organizers for putting on a fantastic show. It wasn't oversold or too crowded. The drinks kept coming, and the performances were top notch. Heck, I even got a gift bag with sparkly earrings for me and a reusable coffee mug for the boyfriend. And I can't forget to mention the desserts! They all seemed to come at once -- mini chocolate cupcakes, lemon/raspberry tarts and cheesecake lollipops, oh the cheesecake lollipops! If this event is any teller as to how awesome Total Rewards is, I'm definitely going to have to join.

Me with the gift bag
Raspberry Lemon Tarts

VIP gift bag at home

If you've made it this far, I applaud you! Because you stuck around this long, you get a special awesome code for extra entries into the Total Rewards online game. Use code DFNJWG here and you have a shot at winning more than 900,000 amazing prizes. Looking at the list of winners already, I see someone won a trip for 2 to Vegas. Who knows? It could be you!

So what do you guys think? Were you at the concert? Did you watch the livestream online? Who was your favorite performer? What do you think of my gift bag? Are you going to sign up for Total Rewards and play the game? Be sure to comment with anything you win below!

I am honored to be an influencer for the Total Rewards brand. Material and/or financial incentives may be received as a result of my involvement.