Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Signing off for Christmas...

Last night, C and I attended the aforementioned free reading of "A Christmas Carol" at All Souls Church in NYC. It was wonderful! They interspersed carols with the "chapters" of the novella, so it was overall a very entertaining, cozy, and seasonal evening.

Now I'm heading home for the holidays so I'll be off blogging for a few days, barring any unexpected freebie fun!

See you all next week...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Post: Free Skating at Citi Rink

Cousin A was kind enough to report back on her free skating adventure with former colleagues at Citi Rink, the free ice skating rink in Bryant Park. They usually go on a Friday afternoon, when it's apparently not too bad!

Here is a pic Cousin A shot of the entrance area, with lockers. Her tip is to bring a lock if you have one, since they are not provided and you otherwise have to risk shoe theft! Also see cute snack bar here too...

After enjoying grits from the holiday market (Explique-moi, s'il vous plait!), Cousin A took this shot of Celcius Lounge, an appealing bar that overlooks the rink.

Cousin A reported that a great time was had by all in attendance, and took this cool pic on her iPhone surveying the scene. Tree, library, rink...

p.s. She also tried to get the aforementioned free hot cocoa from the Kate Spade pop-up shop but there was no hot cocoa to be had! What gives? She went on a Friday, which was one of the days that was allegedly earmarked for hot cocoa giveaways. Two thumbs down, Kate...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Shopping Freebies

Westcoaster C arrived in NYC for Christmas, and we hit the shops for some last minute shopping. Did you know the stores go into overdrive handing out sweet freebies the weekend before Christmas?

Free mini candy bars dished up at Bed Bath and Beyond:

Free candy cane sticks at J. Crew:
Free peppermint bark at Williams-Sonoma:

We enjoyed our shopping feeding frenzy! Ho ho ho!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Freebie: A Little Humbug

Bah Humbug!
Come support cousin M in a free reading of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol!"
When: Monday, December 20th at 6pm
Where: All Souls Unitarian Church on 80th Street and Lexington Avenue
It should last about an hour, and has a bunch of actors playing the voices. Just the thing for the last few days of work before Christmas!

"I just stuck my pizza in my purse." - L

Congratulations to L, winner of the Brooks Brothers Holiday Party Quote Vote!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Freebie Concert

Sorry I've fallen off the planet. It's been a week of holiday parties! Seriously - one per night since Saturday, the 12th and it's not letting up til Sunday, the 19th. They're "free" but they are also private parties and not really the material for this blog.

I did hear of a free classical music concert that my alma mater is giving at Julliard, on Friday (12/17) night. Go if you have the time!

What: Violin and Piano recital by Alicia Choi and Erika Allen (Brahms, Bach, Debussy, and more)
When: Friday, Dec 17th at 8pm
Where: Paul Hall, Julliard School, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza (65th betw Bway and Amsterdam)

FREE and open to all! And a reception with "light fare" after the performance!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yelp Needs Help

Cousin M and I made big plans to go to the Yelp Holiday Ball last night.

This event was super-trumpeted as the freebie event of the season to all Yelp.com members. There were going to be food and drink provided by local vendors, games to play, photo booths, etc...

Well, dear readers, it was a terrible party.

It was in the 26th St Regiment Armory, which gave the entire event a "middle school dance in the gym" feel. There was zero decoration, and all the vendors were set up in ways that caused a very cramped, hard to navigate sensation among the guests, which is a feat to accomplish in such a huge room!

But worst of all, once we got inside, there were insanely long lines to get small samples of any food or beverage. And many of the best foods were already completely gone (we arrived at 7:15pm, and the event began at 7pm).

Not OK. We made our quick getaway, and paid for a yummy dinner. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buttoned-Up Freebie

Last night, lovely L and I attended the Brooks Brothers Holiday Party extravaganza in midtown NYC. As expected, it was a mob scene.

The entire men's store was decked from top to bottom. This is a shot of the first floor, where they had open bars, hors d'ouvres, giant urns full of candy canes and Brooks Brothers Hanukah gelt, employees dressed in four-plaid pants (yes, four plaids on one pair of pants!) and a stage for performers:

If you rode the escalators up to the children's floor, every surface was covered with gingerbread (check out these Brooks Brothers gingerbread people!):

Also upstairs, Marlo Thomas was reading from her new book, and they offered the kids an ornament decorating station.
After our initial egg nog (delicious - see beverage station pic below),

We headed around the corner to the Women's store, where we took a photo with Santa (a very classic, classy Santa too), witnessed four Edwardian carolers singing their hearts out, and encountered a cookie decorating station.
Then we dashed back to the Men's store in time for the cast of Billy Elliot to perform some holiday carol medleys:

All in all, this event was just huge. There was so much going on, but it was very crowded. Here's my breakdown:
Food: A-minus. The high-point were the mini latkes, but they also served sliders, pigs in blankets, mini pizzas, doughnuts, sugar cookies, blondies, brownies. There was simply just a mad rush to any person with food that made getting the food tremendously unpleasant.
Drink: A-plus. A host of options: warm cider, egg nog, apple martinis, white wine (no red, because, as one server pointed out to a man "This is a clothing store." (???)), and pellegrino.
Entertainment: A-plus. We couldn't even stick around for Winton Marsalis and the Harlem boys/girls choirs because we had dinner to eat. The Billy Elliot kids were adorable, there was an awesome jazz band at the women's store playing in front of Santa, and the Edwardian Christmas Carolers were a neat diversion too. For the kids, the cookie and ornament decorating stations looked really fun. And though we didn't get close enough to SEE Marlo Thomas, we could hear her and that's pretty cool she was there!
Swag: A. No gift bag or anything, but we were able to walk out with some specialty Brooks Brothers gelt, as well as a really cute/odd pic of L and me sitting on Santa's lap.
Don't forget to vote for our Quote Vote at the top right of the blog!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wholesome Little Freebie

Occasionally, one must wander to the Whole Foods at Union Square on one's lunch hour...

Today I did just that, and wowie zowie were they doing a good freebie giveaway! Usually it's small samples of prepared food or worst - organic beauty products -but today it was...

Free Lara Bars!

I actually really like these health fruit/nut bars. I got two! One Carrot Cake, seen here, and one Chocolate Chip Brownie. :) Thanks Whole Foods!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Corner of 86th and Orange

Today, en route to an audition, I passed a freebie favorite: a cooler on the street with people handing out samples of a tasty beverage.

Of late, these are usually yucky energy drinks, but I stopped and grabbed one because it was actually a pretty large bottle of SIMPLY ORANGE orange juice! I also was handed a $1 off coupon for a future purchase of Simply Orange juice.

Thanks freezing orange juice distributors, for making my Saturday extra fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holiday Party at the Hilfigers

Is there anything better than an unexpectedly awesome in-store event?!?

Last night, talented showstopper pal S and I met on 5th Avenue in midtown to admire gorgeous holiday windows (see the 57th St star fully illuminated here):

Our other objective? Attend a mysterious "Holiday Party at the Hilfigers" at the Tommy Hilfiger flagship store on 54th St. This was one of those in-store events where all we knew was the date, time, and location.

Could it have been a bust? Absolutely.

Was it? Absolutely not! It was fantastic.

When S and I entered, they checked our names off the list and indicated that there was a photo booth downstairs on the "hipster clothing floor." We whisked down there and took a cool old school photo booth set of pics before the booth got infested with bedbugs from a zillion people sitting inside (Yes, I am that neurotic New Yorker!).

The party was in full swing by the time we grabbed our beverage of choice, a few yummy appetizers, and started to wander.

The event was co-hosted by InStyle magazine, which I will say ALWAYS seems to do a good job with in-store events. Here are my grades:

Food: A-minus. While it was very highbrow (veggie stacks of root vegetables, carrots topped with mushrooms, proscuitto wrapped pear) it was all lukewarm and very veggie-heavy.

Drink: A. They had sparkling water, sparkling cava, and a signature cocktail the "Pear Fizz" which was pear nectar, ginger ale, and Bombay Sapphire gin.

Activities: A. Between the photo booth, "day to night" dressing demo, and ample room to browse the wares, there was lots to do.

Swag: A. Getting a free photo booth strip is awesome - and they were thoughtful enough to print out two (one for each of us). While not explicitly swag, everyone was welcome to take a December 2010 issue of InStyle as they left the party, and that's a nice thing to have for the gym! Oh, and there was a really cute gift wrapping station that I snapped a pic of, which kind of counts as swag if you purchased something:

S and I both scored substantially discounted necklaces, purchased from a Swedish tour guide who was inexplicably ringing people up.
Don't forget to vote on the Quote Vote in the top right corner of the blog!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Museum Freebies

Last night was a delightful evening of NYC museum freebies!

At 6pm, I attended a free lecture at the Frick Collection: The lecture was called, "The Other Versailles: Where the Decorative Arts Became Modern" by Joan DeJean, a UPenn French professor. It was really interesting - all about the early palais at Versailles and the nascent years of the first "decorateurs interieux" (probably butchering that spelling). Thanks, L, for letting me return to my college days of Art History for an hour inside the blissfully decked out Frick Mansion!

But the best was yet to come.

UVA pal K had invited me to take her spare ticket to hear the Chanticleer Christmas concert at the Met Museum!

Chanticleer is an all-male a cappella group that sings rather classic/medieval songs in 4 part harmony.
The concert was in the medieval hall with the giant Met Museum Christmas tree, and it was fantastic! The group was really tight musically, and they sang some wonderful stuff.
And FAMOUS PERSON SPOTTING: Chelsea Clinton was there with her new husband, Marc Mezvinsky. I guess she's a fellow a cappella Christmas carol lover!
Here is a pic I took of K and me after the concert in front of the Christmas tree in all our blurry holiday joy:

And here's a better one of just the tree - gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brooks Brothers Holiday Extravaganza

OK, this Madison Ave Brooks Brothers event just looks insanely awesome. RSVP NOW.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bryant Park Freebie

One of the best NYC winter freebie experiences is ice skating at the free Citibank rink at Bryant Park. It costs $ to rent skates, but if you b.y.o.s. you can skate for free!

Additional freebie if you're in the Bryant Park area: There is now a Kate Spade holiday pop-up shop at Bryant Park and they are giving away free hot chocolate every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until after the holidays!

So get thee to Bryant Park and get some free hot cocoa!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

International Freebie

How cool is this ad?

Italian lingerie line Intimissimi is offering an awesome bra-recycling program. You bring old bras into their stores, and get 3 euro towards a new bra for every bra you recycle.

The material from the old bras will be made into soundproofing panels for buildings.

Bring this freebie stateside, per favore!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Famous Face Freebie

As anyone who currently lives in NYC will tell you, we're having a bit of a heat wave.

Highs in the 60s...and December is rapidly approaching.

So you can imagine my confusion when this sight met my eyes on the way to work yesterday:

It's faux snow! For a film shoot near the Flatiron Building. Several blocks looked like this, and it was real honest to goodness icy snow, made with ski slope machines or something.
The movie is Mr Popper's Penguins, starring Jim Carrey, who was there in the flesh shooting a scene.

Freebie snow is one thing, but I've had an interesting week in terms of another NYC free perk as well: celebrity sightings!

In the past WEEK, I have seen all of these people in the flesh:

Scott Adsit from 30 Rock eating lunch at City Bakery
Penn Badgley shooting Gossip Girl in Union Square
Stephen Baldwin eating Chinese food
Broadway legendary producer Hal Prince at the Bells Are Ringing dress rehearsal
Jim Carrey filming Mr. Popper's Penguins in the snow by the Flatiron Building
And, finally, at last night's performance of Brief Encounter, Brad from The Rachel Zoe Project!!

I literally saw all of these people IN ONE WEEK. Something's going on in the Big Apple...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Theater Freebies: Bells Are Ringing and Brief Encounter

My fever cold hellaciousness has been sandwiched by fantastic theatrical freebies.

It's only today that I've felt well enough to tell you of my exciting night at Encores! For those who don't know, Encores! stages readings/pared down performances of less-performed musicals in a two week whirlwind rehearsal and performance schedule, with big Broadway star casts. It's a great way to see musicals you've never seen before, and very exciting for actors and audience alike.

This was my first Encores! experience, and the show was Bells Are Ringing by Comden/Green/Styne. It was a wonderful piece, and cast members Kelli O'Hara, Will Chase, and more did not disappoint!

Cousin, T, let me be his "plus-one" to the dress rehearsal and it was full of Broadway personalities. Top on my list: I got to shake hands with Hal Prince! Life goal!!


And now tonight, T's fab daughter A is taking me and M to see Brief Encounter, which I have been dying to see!!!

Thanks to the whole C clan for singlehandedly making this the best fever freebie theater week ever. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freebie Flu

Bad news: I caught the flu.

Sorry I haven't been posting the past couple days. And I had the most amazing freebie evening seeing "Bells Are Ringing" at Encores too! I met Hal Prince!!

More details to come when I can look at a computer screen without getting dizzy...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Starbucks Two-for-One This Weekend

While not technically a freebie, this qualifies as a great promotion in my books.

Visit any Starbucks between 2-5pm, Nov 18th-21st and buy one, get one free of any seasonal beverage

(Caramel Brulee latte, Peppermint Mocha, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread latte (my fave!), Eggnog Latte, Caramel Brulee frappaccino, Peppermint Mocha frappaccino)

So, grab a friend and get thee to a Starbucks!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Update: Free (Green) Lunch


The truck is funded by NBC's "Green is Universal" eco-initiative and will be giving out free veggie burgers and iced tea all week.

Check here for daily locations.

The veggie burger was surprisingly tasty, though somewhat heavy on the bun side. I'll post a pic when I can upload one. The tea was not-too-sweet, and quite refreshing!


Gotta make this quick, but NBC is giving out free veggie burgers and ice tea from a truck on Union Square (north west corner, across street from Pret and in front of Starbucks). RIGHT NOW.

The veggie burger is actually quite good!

Free Hummus Party

I won a hummus party the other day.

Yep, a hummus party.

houseparty.com is a site that lets consumers apply to host free parties featuring vendor's products. I think it's halfway between an advertisement and a focus group. All you do is fill out a survey, and if you're the demographic host they're looking for, you get a party pack, invite your friends, and voila! Free party.

After many applications, I finally won a coveted host position! And it was a great product too - Sabra hummus, which I already believe to be the best store-bought hummus on the market.

I got a bunch of free Sabra hummus and Stacy's pita chips. I augmented with fresh veggies and bread.

I used it as an excuse to invite a few college friends over for a hummus party.

Hummus mini-reunion!

Total cost to me: nearly nothing.

Fun of eating hummus with old college pals: priceless.

houseparty.com provided signage:

And houseparty.com also sent prizes: coupons for the guests to buy more hummus, recipe cards, a trivia game about international cuisine, and "prizes" like a stone Sabra trivet, bamboo hummus paddle, and recipe holder stand (all pictured below):

So go to houseparty.com and start applying for your own free parties - They select hosts nationwide!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Burt's Bees freebie

A little surprise landed on my doorstep on Saturday.

A tiny tube of Burt's Bees Rejuvenating Lip Balm with Acai Berry!

For some time, I've been regularly entering the Lucky Breaks sweepstakes that Lucky Magazine offers online. Sometimes the prizes are grand like vacations or thousands of dollars shopping sprees, but often they are regular sizes of beauty products, like this.

The great thing is, they usually give a ton away. I've gotten items from Ole Henriksen, Elemis, Dove, and now... Burt's!

I encourage everyone to enter monthly here. You win something fairly frequently, I swear!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Freebie: Elf on Broadway

M & I have a college friend who is actually a bona fide Broadway star! And I try to see him in all his productions, to support his skyrocketing career.

Anyhow, he is currently the star of Elf, a holiday Broadway musical based on the Will Ferrell movie.

Earlier in the week, Broadway cousin, T, invited us to tag along to a preview of the show! Free tickets to see our fellow alum sing in green tights and curly tipped shoes? Yes, please!

I don't think I'm allowed to write anything about the show, since it hasn't officially opened yet, but we had so much fun. Afterwards, we strongarmed our way backstage and got to congratulate our friend on his new role.

Ho ho ho! Two holiday shows already, and it's not even halfway through November. Overkill?

Who cares?!? Ho ho ho!

p.s. Fashionable cousin Z was also at the show, and she gave me a full blow-by-blow of her experience getting the aforementioned free $50 gift certificate at American Eagle earlier this week. She actually skinned a knee in the melee, but also managed to get a free shirt. Freebie Rockstar!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Best-Laid Freebie Plans...

Yesterday was supposed to be a big day for freebies...and it was.

Just not in any of the ways I'd expected.

I found out from a colleague that Schnitzel and Things (a street food-vendor truck that serves Austrian/German food that's apparently delicious) had been booked by Austrian Airlines all week in a giveaway promotion.

Yesterday they were stationed at Park Ave and 26th, near our office, so we took a lunch break stroll to check it out. Here's a photo of the truck, covered in Austrian Airline wallpaper:

The schnitzel of the day was chicken, and it was delicious! Very thin pounded cutlet, lightly breaded, served with a giant lemon wedge. And a side of chipotle sauce that I wasn't sure how to use, but ended up dipping my chicken piece like a giant Austrian McNugget! Oh, and you get to enter a contest for a pair of free roundtrip tickets to Vienna too.

Today and tomorrow, the truck is in the 50s. Thursday: 52nd St between 6th & 7th Ave.
Friday: 52nd St & Lexington Ave. Hours each day will be from 11am-3pm, or until supplies run out.

After work, intrepid friend, J, and I headed to Williams-Sonoma at Columbus Circle for a book signing.

It was totally ill-attended, no wine (even though the book was a winemakers cookbook), and almost no food, except for a "display" of radicchio and blue cheese that I thought was samples and accidentally ate. AND I THEN GOT YELLED AT BY A PRICKLY W-S LADY! It was a huge serving platter of food on a counter - How was I supposed to know?!?

We fled the scene to the Lladro/Steiff event, which was event worse.

The entire Lladro showroom smelled like a heady floral air-freshener, and the place was packed with figurine collectors. J and I discovered a table set with wine glasses and another empty table that seemed to be a proper site for hors d'ouvres, but nary a beverage or nibble was to be seen.

FreebieFAIL. We fled Event #2 and got dinner at a very delicious, very not free establishment!

But all was not lost! As I left the Bloomingdales area, I checked my watch and reckoned it was perfect timing for me to walk 10 blocks north on Madison Ave to check out the aforementioned Ralph Lauren mystery light showing at 8:30pm.

It was, in a word, amazing.

First, the show:

RL used the new building on Madison as a projection screen for a 10-15 minute music and light show. These projections were creative and truly fun.

See photos below:

This is what it looked like as they projected the mansion "opening up" - kind of like a dollhouse, to show an interior "fashion show" on a descending staircase:

And then they went totally fantastical, projecting polo players and giant belts and all kinds of things. The coolest was when they had giant neckties flop over the mansion, as seen here:

Also, the scene:

As I walked up to 72nd St and Madison, there were police barriers around the older RL store, and all kinds of preppie people milling about. There was a party happening inside the older RL store, but it was by personal invitation only (Drat!). So I ensconced myself with a great view, directly under the awning and directly across from the new store where the show would be happening.

At about 8:28pm, all of a sudden paparazzi flashes started blinding me and I realized I'd inadvertently gotten a front-row spot beside the red carpet.

Why it was Ralph Lauren, in the flesh! Himself. The snow-haired, orange-skinned man. In a gorgeous light tan toggle coat. He brushed right by me, took his even better view front row spot, and the show began!

If you want to see what the light show was like, click here to watch a video.

FreebieSUCCESS, after all!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Upper East Side Mystery Light Show

I don't quite know what's going on, but some sort of free outdoor light show is happening tonight outside of the new Ralph Lauren store at 867 Madison Avenue (72nd St). Apparently "screenings" of the "digital innovation" will be occurring at 8, 8:30, and 9pm on the facade of the store. An online "screening" will go up tomorrow.

According to the New York Times, this is a new "4-D" form of projections. In addition to using the exterior of the building for projections, there will also be sound and "a mist of fragrance."

I don't know how I feel about a building spritzing me with perfume, but I guess it's more pleasant that the summertime drip of a/c units!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"This is better than church!" - J, during the Living Nativity scene

Congratulations to J, winner of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Quote Vote!

Almost-Free Opera Seats

I was recently tipped off that the Metropolitan Opera has reorganized its $25 rush seating policy for weekend performances. It's almost too good to be true!

Monday, you enter an online lottery for the coming weekend's performances. Tuesday, the winners are posted online.

There is also a wait list posted, and if the winners fail to claim their tickets, the wait list has a crack at grabbing them on Thursday.

These $25 seats are bona fide Orchestra and Grand Tier seats, not standing room in the rafters!

Enter here next Monday.

Too Many Events!

I have just been invited to this exciting lifestyle event on THIS Thursday, November 11th:

7 For All Mankind 10th Anniversary Celebration in Soho

Ah, 7 For All Mankind... Has it really been ten years? It feels like just yesterday that I tried on my first pair and my own personal jeandom was forever changed.

Unfortunately, I'll have to pass on the anniversary party since I'll be attending another fun freebie night of Holiday Theater: Elf on Broadway, courtesy of awesome Broadway cousin, T!

However, I promise a full report on tomorrow's lifestyle events at Lladro/Steiff and Williams-Sonoma!