Product Reviews

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I wrote a recap of "American Idol" last night and I dropped a pretty good Lenten joke in there for you Catholics, if I do say so myself. It's in the Casey part of the review. Also, if you want to know where all the cool people in Chicago are going to be tonight, it's at Quimby's bookstore, to see Mike Sacks read from his new book. I will be there too.

Yesterday I tried two new products, one cosmetic and one from the foodservice industry and both stirred up some interest amongst people who apparently had been considering trying both things, so I will share my valuable opinions here.

The first is Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips. I have been intrigued by these for a while. I secretly like fancy nails, as long as they're short. Super long done-up nails do nothing for me (and seem like a bit of a handicap) but I have to confess if there's one thing I admire about Katy Perry, it's her nails.

They always seem fun and cute but not too long (if your nails prohibit you from such everyday tasks like typing or opening a can of pop, then they're not cute). I secretly covet Fun Nails like that although I have no idea where you'd go to get them done like that or how much it would cost and would it look dumb on me. A few weeks ago I was at the salon and noticed that the gal checking me out had these cute things going on and I asked her how she did it--she told me it was the Sally Hanson strips, which I had seen ads for but not really considered. I asked her how easy they were to apply and she told me pretty easy, and they lasted a while, too. I was sort of in a funk this week and realized the only way to cut it would be with some Fun Nails, so yesterday I decided to check them out (and got the same style I was admiring).

So they cost about $10 which is a little less than you'd pay for a manicure at the salon, including tip, so that's a plus. You need to file your nails first (no big deal) and buff them (I was wondering whether the "buff" side of my file was maybe misproduced, since I couldn't tell that there was any actual buffing going on, but then again, I don't really know what buffing means) and push back the cuticles (I forgot to do this on one hand, even though a stick was provided.) Then you apply the little stickies, which isn't entirely easy. You pull off a protective plastic and then a tab and then pull off the sticky, and if you don't do it in the right order you can tear the sticky (you're provided with extras in case this happens.) Not all nails are shaped the same so in some cases I didn't get the sticky all the way across the nail (although it is stretchable and I realized as I went that it's pretty easy to remove excess sticky from your finger.) You file off the excess sticky that hangs off your nail and there you go. It's kind of neat to have a ready-to-go manicure once you're all finished, with no drying or worrying about mucking it up. And I love the way it looks--it's the Fun Nails I always hoped for:


I sort of applied them in a hurry so I think I could do a better job next time, but I'm pretty satisfied, especially since I've already gotten two compliments on them since I put them on yesterday evening (both from women: I don't think these kind of nails are the type of thing straight guys really care about).

Straight men do care about food though so the other thing I tried yesterday that people seemed curious about was Stouffer's Corner Bistro three cheese and ham stuffed melt with creamy tomato bisque soup. This has been in my parents' freezer for some time and I've always been intrigued by it. I'm housesitting this week and finally I thought to myself, "You know what, Claire. You only go around once in this lifetime--go ahead, try the frozen meal!"

So I did and I knew my expectations were way too high, because sometimes a cheesy hot sandwich and soup can be the best thing ever, and I knew that a frozen version of this could not be, but still, I thought, Maybe.

I will present the caveats that a.) this entree has been sitting in the freezer for probably at least a year and b.) I did not prepare it the way I was supposed to. The preparation is a little bit more involved than I care for when it comes to microwave meals (I am the person who is too lazy to take the thing out of the oven and stir it and continue microwaving. I say if it needs stirring, I'll stir at the end, to hell with it.) You need to turn the box into a tray, and take the film off the soup and put the film back on and microwave it and take it out of the oven and then stir it and put it back in with the film back on and take the sandwich out of the wrapper and put the sandwich inside the special sleeve (this is what I failed to do) and keep microwaving and then keep it in the microwave for a minute after. UGH, who am I, Grant Achatz? I don't have time for this.

So anyway, the soup tasted like a generic tomato-pepper soup (not a 'bisque') and I don't know what three cheeses were presented in the sandwich but it was something of a melty liquidy mess. Not appetizing. I wouldn't eat it again. But I still ate the whole thing. Since I put in all the effort and all.