Binge-watching TV via live stream
By Tara McElmurry
Hello my name is Tara, and I am addicted to Netflix.
It all started almost two years ago during my senior year of college. I was cooking dinner in the kitchen when I heard these terrible retching sounds coming from the TV in the living room.
I curiously peeked around the corner to ask my roommate what she was watching. “It’s this show from AMC called “The Walking Dead.” I’m watching the first two seasons on Netflix!”
Netflix? At that point, I had only known Netflix to get movies in the mail and sometimes TV shows, but I hadn’t done much streaming on it.
That all changed after I watched the first episode of “The Walking Dead” with my two other roommates. We were hooked. We watched episode after episode. Cliff hangers? No such thing. Rick is surrounded by walkers with no way out? Start the next episode. Carl gets shot and we don’t know if he’ll make it? Press play on the next one, darn it!
It’s ridiculous how addicting these shows can be and how Netflix helps keep my addiction going strong. My roommates and I caught up on TWD right before the season three premiere on live television. Now, I frequently get withdrawals because I can’t press play on the next episode. I have to wait a week, just like old times.
But, the beauty of Netflix (or any other streaming platform) is there are more shows to start watching and feed my addiction. This fall that show was ABC’s “Scandal.” Liv, Fitz, Cyrus, Mellie, Huck, Quinn and the rest of the secret-laden gang were invited into my living room every night for a good month and a half, and boy, did I enjoy their company.
Alas, it’s in the middle of the current season of “Scandal” and Netflix doesn’t put up a new season of a show until it’s close to the start of the next season. So, where does that leave me? You guessed it.
I’m now traveling to the “ABQ”, New Mexico every night as I (finally!) make my way through the critically acclaimed, award-winning “Breaking Bad.” And I’m here to tell you, the critics and your friends that have already seen the whole series are right. Watch it now. My boyfriend and I just started season three last night after the “explosive” season two finalé. Walt and Jesse make perfect antiheros as I learn way more than I ever thought I would about “cooking”.
In these winter months when sometimes the best plan is to stay in and cozy up with some cocoa and a blanket, there is plenty on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO GO and others to make a night in very entertaining. President Obama even indulges in his favorite shows to unwind in his downtime, according to a recent article in “The New York Times”. If POTUS can do it, so can you. So, grab your mug of cocoa and your remote and get addicted to some quality television.
Tara’s picks for a good night (or month) of TV binging:
-The Walking Dead
-Parks and Recreation
-Sex and the City
Amazon Instant Video:
-Downton Abbey (I was crushed when it was taken off Netflix.)
By Kathleen Dorsey
Cabin fever getting you down? One way to reduce the stress of staying indoors all winter is to do something to alter your surroundings. There are many easy projects that can bring a spot of sunshine to your world, even when the skies are cloudy and the roads are icy.
Project 1: Small Animal Shelter
When temperatures drop, it’s easy to cuddle up inside with a blanket and a cup of hot tea. But what about our furry friends outdoors? Neighborhood cats, dogs, even squirrels may need a warm place to hunker down during a bitterly cold night. Fortunately, making a shelter is easy, and you only need a few materials that are probably already around the house.
You will need:
- Plastic storage tub
- A box that fits inside the storage tub
Start by cutting a circular hole in two sides of the plastic storage tub – one on each of the shorter sides. These two holes will give animals an easy escape route in case they need to flee for any reason.
Cut matching holes in the short sides of the cardboard box.
Then, tear the newspaper into small pieces and crumple some larger pieces to create the insulation. Fill the bottom of the tub with this newspaper insulation.
Place the cardboard box inside the plastic tub on top of the newspaper insulation, so that the “escape holes” line up. Fill the space between the plastic tub and the cardboard box with more of the newspaper insulation.
Finally, place some more of the newspaper insulation inside the cardboard box, and place the shelter outside in a safe place.
If you like, you can provide a small food and water supply near the shelter, but do not place it inside the box. Water can become overturned and nobody likes to sit on wet newspaper – not even outdoor animals.
Project 2: Terrarium
If you have an empty glass jar, fish bowl, candy dish or anything of the kind laying around the house, it’s easy to create a terrarium that will brighten up a room and even become a conversation piece. Small plants grow very well inside a terrarium, which harnesses warmth and oxygen into a mini-greenhouse effect.
You will need:
- A container
- Activated charcoal
- Potting soil
- Terrarium Plants – Use small, hardy plants that don’t require much maintenance, such as succulents, cacti, small ferns and air plants.
First, pour about an inch of charcoal into the bottom of your container. Combine the remaining charcoal with the potting soil, and fill your container about ¼ of the way full with this mixture. Gently pack the soil after each layer to remove air pockets.
Then, place your plants in the soil, with enough space between the plants for more potting soil. Fill in the areas between the plants, making sure all plant roots are covered.
Place the moss on top of the soil around the plants. If you like, you can accessorize with small river rocks or even small toys like a tiny house on top of the moss.
Finally, water the plants and place your new terrarium in a well-lit area.
Framed Wi-Fi art
Sick of telling every guest the W-iFi password multiple times during their stay? You can create an eye-catching piece of art as well as providing an easy resource for those who wish to surf the internet.
You will need:
- A computer with Microsoft Word or similar software
- A printer
- An 8x10 picture frame
Start by opening a blank document in your word processing software. Choose a font you like. Hint: Anything in the Caslon family gives a nice, classic look. For more of a themed decoration, try a font like Cooper Black, or a script font. If you don’t like any fonts currently on your computer, websites like dafont.com offer many free fonts for download.
Set your font size to about 72 or larger. Make sure your alignment is centered, then type in “The WiFi Password is”, pressing enter after each word to insert line breaks.
Change your font, if you wish, or make it larger to type in the actual WiFi password.
When you’re happy with the way it looks, print it out on regular letter paper. If you like, you can add some personalized drawings around the text, like scrolls, vines or even flowers. If you’re computer savvy enough, you can also do this in illustrating software before you print your project.
Place the final version inside the frame, trimming the margins if necessary so that the paper fits within the glass. Hang in the guest bedroom or even in the living room for easy access and an interesting art element.
Cozy up with a 'classic'
By Matt Sharp
These winter months are hard on everyone, you get bored being indoors all the time. To help prevent this, you can always turn to the wonderful world of movies. Everyone has their collection of movies, and I am sure you haven't looked at that collection since last winter. Well, those movies would be perfect to pass the time until spring. Some of the great movies in my family's collection would be worth buying for this winter.
One of my all time favorite movies, but in reality I love anything with Adam Sandler in it. This follows a man named Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) who has dreams of being a professional hockey player, but happens to stumble upon a hidden talent he has had all along, playing golf. He can drive the ball farther then any player on the course, so an old pro convinces him to join, and the only reason he does is because he must get money to buy his grandmother's house back that she lost because of tax issues. He then goes on to win many tournaments with a lot of funny bumps along the way, he also defeated the 'bad guy' of the movie Shooter Mcgavin. But, the movie has a heart warming ending that leaves everyone happy.
Catch me if you can
Another classic that I guarantee you or a loved one has in their movie collection. A true story about Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars' worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor and legal prosecutor. Throughout the movie he continues to come up with new ways to evade Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), the detective on his case. You continue to follow his antics until he is finally found in France.
Silver Linings Playbook
Some of you may not have this one in your collection because it is a newer film, but you need to add it. You follow a man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) who had to spend 8 months in a mental institute because he beat up his wife Nikki's lover and was deemed bipolar. When he is out he has to live with his parents, and all he wants to do is get his old job back and get his ex-wife back. He thinks he can get better by just living a simple life. He then meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawerence) who is training for a dance competition. They become friends, and she teaches Pat how to dance.
Feast for a winter day
By Eloise Marie Valadez
If you find yourself staying indoors during these cold winter days, you'll probably want to plan a feast to enjoy with family members and friends.
Among winter favorites are soups, casseroles, hearty meat options, pizza, burgers, hefty sandwiches, popcorn mixes, cakes, cookies and special desserts.
Food fans can be as simple or elaborate as they desire when planning a meal for a long day indoors.
And if you're not in the mood to cook, you can always order a pizza from one of the popular eateries in the Region that delivers. Options include Langel's Pizza with locations in Highland, Crown Point and Schererville; House of Pizza in Hammond; Gelsosomo's Pizza with locations throughout the area; Capri's Pizza in Schererville and Whiting or John's Pizzeria, with various locations in the Region.
The following recipes from The Popcorn Board and National Pork Board are two options to serve hungry folks with cabin fever.
Try the following recipes.
Blazing Buffalo Ranch Seasoning Mix for Popcorn
Yield: about 2 tablespoons seasoning mix
1 tablespoon ranch dressing or dip mix (from a 1-ounce package)
1 tablespoon seafood spice mix (or celery salt)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon powdered sugar (or sugar)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 quarts popped popcorn
Cooking spray, optional
DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, blend ranch dressing mix, spice mix, garlic powder, powdered sugar and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle with vegetable oil and blend until well incorporated. Place popcorn in a serving bowl and spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle seasoning mix over popcorn to taste and toss. Store leftover seasoning mix in an airtight container for future use.
From The Popcorn Board
Easy Cheesy Pork Chop and Rice Casserole
4 New York (top loin) pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup ricotta cheese, or cottage cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for casserole dish
1 tablespoon Italian parsley (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the rice, vegetables, cheddar, ricotta or cottage cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, sprinkle the Parmesan on top, and set aside. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chops and cook until browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Arrange the chops, browned side up, on top of the rice mixture and bake until the rice mixture is hot and the chops are cooked to 145 degrees F., about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 3 minutes. Serve the chops over the rice mixture, sprinkled with the parsley, if using.
From The National Pork Board