So, you know how Equal comes in the blue packets, Splenda comes in the yellow packets, and Sweet’n Low comes in pink packets? Well, there a new no-calorie sweetener that’s going to claim orange packets. That’s sweetener my friends is Nectresse.
I know what you’re thinking. It totally sounds like a brand of citrus shampoo, but it’s not. Also, I think Nectresse would make a great stripper name.
This new natural no-calorie sweetener is made by the folks who make Splenda and, according to those folks, a packet of Nectresse provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar. The sweetener is made with erythritol, sugar, monk fruit extract, and molasses.
Yeah, I don’t know what monk fruit is either, so I AltaVistaed it, after I Googled to see if AltaVista still existed. Google led me to Wikipedia, which said it’s a small gourd-like fruit that’s native to China.
The Wikipedia entry didn’t specifically say why it’s called monk fruit, but after seeing pictures of it, I can only guess it got its name because the fruit looks like the bald head of a monk.
Yes, I know change can be a good thing, but I hate when the things I grew up with morph into something so unrecognizable that I have to question whether or not Iâ€™m in an alternate universe where Taylor Swift is regarded as talented.
Gwen Stefani is on that list. She was a source of inspiration for myself and many girls of my generation who were too young to remember Joan Jett, but still wanted to rock out with their non-cock out. Now, sheâ€™s the source of me questioning, “What the fuck?” Sure, she has popped out a couple of kids and no longer does pushups on stage, but she has gotten stranger and stranger over the years. Compared to Lady Gaga, Gwen is a mild mannered soccer mom, but her odd obsession with Japan and Harajuku Girls is just too hard to not question whether this chick is playing with a full deck.
Her obsession started five years ago when she accessorized with four Japanese girls, claiming they were her “backup singers,” but Iâ€™m sure they arenâ€™t even allowed to say a peep when Gwen is in earshot. Her second fashion line (Remember when celebrities had one fashion line and that was cutting edge), Harajuku Lovers makes anything by Sanrio seem like itâ€™s appropriate for Hells Angels to wear when they go road tripping.
Harajuku Lovers Fragrance G is no different. Basically, the bottle isnâ€™t a bottle at all, but rather a massive cap that looks like a cartoon version of Ms. Stefani. G is her signature scent, but thereâ€™s also Love, Lilâ€™ Angel, Music and Baby to represent her “backup singers.”
Despite the child-like packaging, the perfume has a wonderful scent of coconut, jasmine and some sandalwood. I will admit to looking at the notes for this fragrance on Sephoraâ€™s website, but I could identify a coconutty smell right off the bat. Coconut perfumes can be a gamble, because if thereâ€™s too much fruit going on, you might smell like a stripper, but G doesnâ€™t do that. Some fragrances fade away after a few hours of wear, but G has some stamina and I can still smell it after a long day.
When I purchased it, it came with a compact of solid perfume, so for the price itâ€™s pretty good, but the bottle is pretty pathetic. I know youâ€™re not supposed to bathe in perfume like your great aunt does, but having only one ounce wonâ€™t last you very long if you use it as your daily scent.
To sum it up, Ms. Stefani is making you pay for packaging. Extremely cute weird packaging that would only appeal to little girls, or twenty-something professionals who still decorate their work binders with Lisa Frank stickers. But if you look beyond the bottle and how strange Gwen has gotten over the years, then you have a wonderful perfume that would smell good on anyone — including strippers.
Item: Harajuku Lovers Fragrance G Price: $50.00 (with solid perfume) Size: 1 ounce Purchased at: Macyâ€™s Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Long lasting scent. Coconut isnâ€™t too overpowering. Rocking out with your non-cock out. Gwen Stefani circa 1996. Lisa Frank being cool when you were six. Hells Angels wearing Hello Kitty leather jackets. Strippers that smell like sweet coconut. Cons: Packaging is way too gimmicky. Small quantity for the price. Gwen Stefani post-No Doubt. Thinking Lisa Frank is still cool past the age of six. Price isnâ€™t budget friendly. Strippers that smell like Marlboros and cheap whiskey.
It seems like the holiday season came and went faster than an unsuspecting family who hoped to pick up a pet rabbit at the infamous Nevada establishment known as the Moonlite BunnyRanch. After trying to find a proper place to dispose of your Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush, it’s time to go through your loot and decide what you’re going to keep, what you’re going to regift and what is heading back to store.
When I received the Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe, I was happy. However, I wasn’t as excited as I was Christmas 1993 when I received an amazing 16-bit gaming console known as the Sega Genesis. But needless to say, over the years I’ve become jaded, bitter and a crotchety woman. That is, of course, if I don’t have my coffee. Once I have at least one cup in my system I’m ready for the day.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe seemed like it was the perfect countertop machine for me because I love the icy treats from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, but I’m cheaper than an elderly man who insists on getting senior citizen discounts at the Moonlite BunnyRanch. In fact, I’m so cheap that when I found out Dunkin’ Donuts gives senior discounts, I was tempted to buy a Wilfred Brimley mask and go to the nearest location so that I could get my coffee fix for 50 cents cheaper. But I didn’t because I’m too cheap to buy the mask.
The Cafe Frappe is pretty easy to operate; after the coffee brews, you add two cups of ice, milk and whatever else your caffeine-powered heart desires. The pitcher makes one large serving or two smaller servings, but that is if the unit works. After making my first frappe (a coffee and mint concoction with chocolate soy milk) and cleaning the pitcher, the machine would not turn on again.
Nothing that a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond couldn’t fix, right?
Apparently this smoothie coffee maker hybrid was the hot item this year for people who buy random kitchen appliances and use them once. So a gift turned into a hunt to find a Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe within a 50-mile radius. After finally finding one, I was able to make unique and sinful frappes like The Lady Godiva, which is tiramisu flavored coffee and a few shots of Godiva chocolate liqueur. The Cafe Frappe is a great machine to impress party guests, but it would take a lot of time to make enough for a group of people, like all of the women one can choose from at the Moonlite BunnyRanch.
Just like that Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine I had when I was just a wee little girl, I’m sure the novelty of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe will wear off and become the coffee lover’s version of the Margaritaville Margarita Maker, Power Juicer and every As Seen on TV appliance.
Item: Mr. Coffee Cafe Frappe Price: Received as gift but retails for $79.95 Purchased at: Bed Bath & Beyond Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: Easy to set up. Easy to make. Coming up with your own recipes that Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts can’t make due to legal reasons. Wilfred Brimley Masks. Sega Genesis. Cons: Quality of the machine isn’t the best. Doesn’t make a large quantity of frozen delicious beverages. No College Student Discount at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Driving around to return gifts.
The company TerraCycle is much like a music producer who has to deal with Britney Spears’ recording sessions, they both take trash and turn it into something that can be marketed and sold. TerraCycle calls what they’re doing “upcycling,” while Britney’s music producers probably like to describe what they do as “panning in a river of diarrhea for gold.”
According to the packaging, these speakers are made with up to 80 percent of recycled materials, which is a lot, but significantly less than what can be found on an album by the cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The speaker’s box is made out of a big M&M’s Fun Size package and cardboard that looks like it’s been made out of recycled paper. However, I’m not sure how much of the cables and speaker components are made out of reused metals and plastics.
The speakers fold into 3.25-inch cubes and can be unfolded flat again for easy storage and transportation, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it often because I found it difficult to reinsert the tabs into the slots needed to turn them into cubes. The uncooperative tabs and slots caused me to do a little digging, which caused me to accidental peel some of the M&M’s wrapper. When in cube form, they’re front-heavy, like Morganna The Kissing Bandit, so if you put them on an uneven surface, they might topple forward.
The speakers are attached to a standard 3.5 mm headphone plug, so you can connect it into your iPod, laptop, desktop computer or auto-reverse Walkman cassette player. Because the speakers don’t run on batteries, the plug also powers them.
If you’re an audiophile, or an audiophile poser, these candy wrapper speakers won’t come close to satisfying your hoity-toity tastes. They don’t come with a subwoofer made out of recycled candy wrappers and they aren’t very hi-fi, so they sound as good and treble-y as a cheap AM/FM radio alarm clock.
I connected them to my iPod and they have the ability to fill a small room, but in order to do so I had to turn up the volume on my iPod to at least 75 percent to get a decent amount of decibels, which can be a problem if you don’t remember to turn it down before you plug in your earbuds for some personal listening.
I thought the TerraCycle M&M’s Candy Wrapper Speakers would be a useless novelty, like glow-in-the-dark condoms. But they weren’t bad, considering they’re mostly made out of recycled candy wrappers and cost less than $20. At that price, I don’t feel bad if I have to destroy the speakers when a Britney Spears song comes out of them.
(NOTE: Below is a video demonstrating the speaker’s audio quality.)
Item: TerraCycle/Fashionation M&M’s Candy Wrapper Speakers Price: $16.99 Size: N/A Purchased at: Radio Shack (or The Shack, if you want to be lame) Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: Decent sound for something made partly out of candy wrappers. Sound from them can fill a small room. Made from mostly recycled materials. Foldable and portable. No batteries required. Has a standard 3.5 mm headphone plug. Cons: Not for audiophiles or audiophile posers. Can be difficult to repeatedly put together. May topple forward on uneven surfaces. Have to turn up the volume on your device in order to get a loud enough sound from the speakers. Using references that are older than some of your readers. Britney Spears.
Are you having trouble keeping the skeletons in your closet neatly arranged? If so, the Ziploc Flexible Totes might just be for you. A couple years ago, Ziploc introduced their Big Bags in three sizes, the largest of which was about 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall. They were big enough to hold closet skeletons, but they couldn’t stack on top of each other very well. That changes with these cube-shaped bags that can hold closet skeletons in all shapes and sizes. Affairs, illegitimate children, that night of drunken experimentation, those years in the porn industry, that time you spent in prison, and so much more can fit in these Ziploc Flexible Totes. The flexible, heavy-duty plastic and easy-close zippers ensure that your skeletons stay where they’re supposed to. They come in two sizes: a 10-gallon XL bag and for you extreme sinners a 22-gallon XXL bag.
Armed with a $50 gift card and a twisted obsession with anything gimmicky, I drifted into Best Buy with my eyes peeled and my mind open. At every corner, I was ambushed by tall and gawky nerds in bright blue shirts who asked me if I was finding everything okay. I eventually replied, â€œNo, for you see, I’m just an caveman. Your wares frighten and confuse me!â€ which bemused them and eventually got them off my back.
As I made my way towards the center of the store, I literally stumbled upon the giant display of the new Nintendo DS game Guitar Hero: On Tour. After knocking down roughly half of the boxes, I managed to pick them up in time before any employees could come around to shoot me an angry leer. The game certainly looked intriguing enough, and in the end, the box art’s promise of turning me into a meth-addicted white trash rocker was too much to pass up.
Fifty dollars is a lot for a DS game, but it does have plenty of extras included. The contents of the package are as follows: a four-button fret with an adjustable strap that fits into the DS’s Gameboy slot, a plastic “skin” for the device, a pick-shaped stylus that fits in the contraption, an adapter for players with an old DS, and the video game itself. I must warn you that the device is a bit small. Since I have tiny little girl hands, however, I had no problem with the size.
For those uninitiated with Guitar Hero, you simply match your fingers to the notes displayed on the screen and strum at the moment that they reach the bottom. You would typically do this with a guitar controller that looks like a Fisher Price toy, but in this version you move your fingers on the attached frets and “strum” with your pick stylus on the touch screen. It works surprisingly well with near-perfect accuracy, meaning that you have no one to blame but yourself when you are booed off the stage.
The downside, of course, is that you are actually playing a simulation of a simulation. The creators of Futurama have already parodied this paradox, but little did they know that it would come true 992 years earlier than they predicted. You won’t get the enjoyment of pretending that you’re Slash or any of your other favorite drugged up guitarists, but you will get a great portable music game with enough tracks (26 in all) to keep you entertained until your parents kick your slacker ass out of the house.
If you want more info, check out my poorly narrated video for a content and game play demonstration.
Item: Guitar Hero: On Tour Price: $49.99 Purchased at: Best Buy Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Comes with fun and gimmicky fret controller that is sure to impress the ladies in public. Game works surprisingly well for a portable version. Other than Elite Beat Agents, this is the only good music game currently released for the DS. Cons: Much pricier than regular DS games, which typically retail for $30. Can’t pretend that you’re actually playing a guitar. Controller might be a bit small for people with adult-sized hands. Overbearing employees.