First off, I need to admit that I am not the politically active and aware person that I occasionally like to think I am. Wait. Scratch that. First off, I need to tell you that I've had some wine tonight. The wine is, perhaps, the reason that I thought that opening sentence might actually be an appropriate and sensible lead-in. The only reason I brought it up, actually, was that it is currently 9:17 p.m. Central Standard Time, and it only now occurred to me that I completely forgot to watch the State of the Union address tonight. It wasn't that I realized it was on but decided I couldn't handle listening to our man/ape-hybrid of a world leader give his sixth pointless pep talk to the nation and promptly turned my TV off. No, it was because I honestly forgot it was on and neglected to tune my television to any station with a modicum of reputable news coverage of sorts. Oh well. I'm sure John Stewart's recap will be entirely more fulfilling anyway, so I will just have to watch that in its stead.
Now, for the real reason I am here. Last weekend was apparently "Buy things people on the Internet told me to buy" weekend, as, in one shopping excursion, I unexpectedly purchased the Bare Escentuals "Get Started" kit, a ridiculously expensive tube of deodorant, some Neutrogena lip gloss, Downy Simple Pleasures Vanilla and Lavender fabric softener (in liquid and sheet form because, hell, I had a "buy two, save $1 coupon", plus the Tide-with-Downy combo, because I had a coupon for that too and because apparently I thought it would be amusing in an almost eerie way to have a threesome of purple laundry products simultaneously grace the conveyor belt at the SuperTarget checkout), and three Lean Cuisine Chicken Club Paninis. (GG is right--they are tasty, but everyone else knows about them, too, and therefore they are damn-near impossible to find. They are, it would seem, the Holy Grail of frozen lunches... so much so that the Target lady, while ringing up my purchases, actually said, "These must be good; we sure do sell a lot of them.")
Anyway, so my point is that, as I've mentioned before, the people out there on the Internet seem to be affecting my thoughts and buying patterns in some way, and while it is a bit alarming in a "Come-and-drink-my-Kool-Aid" sense, it is also kind of nice, in a happy, helpful community, "it's a small world" kind of way. People love recommendations from seemingly reputable and objective sources, right? And yet, I think my own "super consumer" posts have been sporadic if at all existent. I have tips to offer, too! Maybe some of you might want to hear them?
So with that, I thought I would share with you some of the products I am currently addicted or not addicted to, as the case may be for each.
Let's start with what I had for dinner last night. If you haven't yet tried Campbell's Select Butternut Squash soup, I assure you, you are missing out. My friend Lisa may disagree, as she was disheartened, during our entire long weekend in New York, to find that the only soup she could find was pumpkin or squash soup of some sort. Apparently I actually like gourd-centric soups, so this was not a drawback in my book. That said, Campbell's Butternut Squash soup is like a perfect fall day in a bowl. It's golden and sweet and delicious, even on its own. My sister likes to float some crispy bagel chips in hers, but I've recently found an even more perfect pairing for this soup. Have you ever bought those frozen pierogies you can find in boxes in the freezer case? They come in a few different flavors, but I typically go for the cheddar and potato ones. These are basically ravioli stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese, and I'd be hard pressed to come up with a more exciting combo than that. Pasta? Check. Mashed potatoes? Check. Cheese? Check. Really, what more do you need? What more you need, it seems, is some butternut squash soup. What I've been doing lately is boiling a few pierogies in the microwave for five minutes, then heating the soup and dropping the pierogies right in. It's comfort food and convenience, all in one bowl of warm and starchy heaven. I heartily recommend you try it yourself one of these cold, harsh winter days.
You can get each of these items at Target (or possibly just SuperTarget), and you know what else you can get there? A whole aisle of deceivingly-healthy-looking Archer Farms snacks, in handy mid-sized, keep-in-your-desk-drawer-type bags. I first became addicted to the Honey Cashew Crunch ("They're nuts!," I thought. "It's protein!" I rationalized. Never mind that it's protein coated in a crunchy glaze of crystallized syrup and sugar that may in fact be more habit-forming than heroin), and I quickly moved on to other varieties from there. I bought the fun-sounding "Zen Party Mix" a few times, before I realized that what I liked best in there was the Asian Rice Crackers, and I could buy a whole bag of just Rice Crackers in the Archer Farms snacks aisle as well. My latest discovery, however, is the Cranberry Nut Trail Mix. It boasts cranberries, white chocolate-flavored drops (i.e., chips), almonds, and pecans, and although I am not traditionally a fan of white chocolate, this stuff was sincerely addictive nonetheless. The label says there are eleven servings in each bag, but people, I did not see eleven servings in there. That is, of course, unless my problem with restaurant math has somehow extended to all food-math as well and in my frail and addled brain, eleven is suddenly now the number that comes after three.
Since I didn't want this to be all about food, I thought perhaps I'd also give you a lip balm recommendation as well, but I think I've mentioned this stuff enough times already that I've recommended it far more than might ever be necessary. So let's consider other things in my bathroom and medicine cabinet, OK? If you are a boy (or a non-makeup-wearing girl), this will be meaningless to you, but if you ever wear mascara, I should tell you that Almay's Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Gel might actually be worth its label of "#1 eye makeup remover brand." It goes on easily with just your fingers (no cotton balls necessary for this), and with a slide of some tissue, your mascara wipes right off. It does leave a bit of greasy film, but it doesn't burn my eyes thereafter like so many other brands have. And if you wash your face directly afterwards, your mascara (and the greasy film) will all but disappear.
Returning back to food for a moment, I thought I might shift away from the recommendations and close with an item you should not, under any circumstances, buy. Have you ever thought, "Hey, I'll buy some carrots... or maybe some cucumbers or broccoli... but I need something to dip them in, because veggies on their own are just not appealing enough to me"? If so, you have likely encountered the T. Marzetti brand of veggie dips in your grocer's produce section. I do hate to cancel out any health benefits of raw vegetables by dousing them in fats and artificial flavors, so I thought I might try the fat-free variety of T. Marzetti's Ranch-style dip. I am here to help, so I urge you, please don't make this same mistake. I have had the full-fat and the low-fat variety of this dip, and they were tasty and quite palatable, respectively. The fat-free version, however? Stay away from that. I should have known, when I opened it and saw the disturbing color and texture, that it was not something worth investigating further. The gray, cloudy sheen was not unlike swamp water, which is presumably also fat free but which I also would not ever eat by choice. Consider this your public service message for the day. T. Marzetti's Fat-Free dip. Just say no, OK?
And that about wraps up my super-consumer post for this evening. I do enjoy this trend, so feel free to leave your own recommendations in reply. In particular, I'm in the market for a new mascara. Obviously I've already got the goo to remove it, but tell me, what brand and variety should I be removing? (My apologies to my five male readers out there for steering things in this direction. If you want to talk about your favorite video game or the best variety of Ace or Tag deodorant spray, by all means have at that as well.)