Shameless: Most Underrated TV Show

It's Feb 2015 and we are about halfway through Season 5 of Shameless, one of the best shows ever to be put on television. If you're one of the many people asking 'What's Shameless?', then this post is for you.

There's no way to break down all 5 seasons in one post, so I'm not even going to attempt. I will, however, shed some light on the actors of the show and the amazing characters they're playing. Let's start off by seeing, in general, what Shameless is about.

Shameless actually started as a UK television show back in 2004, with the US taking it on back in 2011. Both shows are about a group of kids that have been pretty much abandoned by their parents and left to fend for themselves. You have...

Frank: (William H. Macy)

The dad, a full-blown alcoholic who is only in his kids' lives when it benefits him in some way...such as a place to stay, food to eat, etc. The kids pretty much hate their father, but you do find moments where they care enough (..barely..) to bail him out of certain situations.

Fiona (Emmy Rossum)

The oldest daughter, the mother-figure to the rest of the kids. Being young herself, she's stumbling through her own life while trying to hold down the fort..and various jobs in the process..just to keep the family going & the bills paid.  Her romantic life is a big hot mess, usually jumping from guy to guy, until she met Jimmy and fell in love. Long story short, he went missing from her life for a year, and has come back in hopes of them getting back together. Only problem is, Fiona is married to a guy she's only known for a couple of weeks. What will she do? Stick with her new hubby or get back with Jimmy? 

(Fiona & Jimmy)

Lip: (Jeremy Allen White)
Lip is the oldest brother. (Lip is short for Phillip). He's incredibly smart, both book smart & street smart. He knows how to con people when he has to, but he can also use his brain to excel in college like he has been the past couple seasons. Lip is usually the most level-headed of the bunch. When Fiona slips from her parental role, Lip will be the first one to jump in & take over, while kicking her ass back into reality and offering brotherly support, simultaneously.

Ian: (Cameron Monaghan)
Ian is Lip's younger brother and is gay. Ian used to be like his brother, Lip, by being a level-headed member of the family, until the past 2 seasons where his behavior has become erratic. Ian was always the one who tried to avoid getting into trouble and wanted nothing more than to enlist in the Army. Unfortunately, we're finding out that Ian has his mothers bipolar genes. His latest stunt? Stealing his lovers (Mickey's) baby.

Mickey: (Noel Fisher)

Mickey & Ian's relationship is one of the most complex, interesting, emotional, caring relationships I've ever seen on TV. Period. Mickey, who was once afraid of being gay, has come out loud & proud and is constantly transitioning from being a badass to a caring boyfriend in the blink of an eye. The acting by Noel Fisher is nothing short of PHENOMENAL! One of the most unrecognized actors of our time.

Then you have Debbie, Carl and Liam.

Debbie is struggling to find out who she is and wants to be in life, while Carl is a drug dealing, gun loving, pyromaniac. Liam..the youngest just kinda there. Doesn't really have too much of a role yet since he's so young.

The show has amazing story lines, the best crew of actors currently on TV, raunchy sex scenes, drugs, fights, drama, love, hate, crime, and humor. That's just in a nutshell. I could go on and on, writing a book on why this is one of the best shows ever put on TV. Instead, I will encourage you to start from Season 1 and enjoy one of the best written shows played out by brilliant actors.

Shameless is currently into it's 5th season and is on Showtime every Sunday night at 9pm ET. Wanna know how good this show really is? Before this season even barely started, it was renewed for a 6th season (which starts January 2016).

"The Nut Job": Adult Review of a Kid Movie

I gotta admit, I am not one to watch kid movies. I think the last cartoon movie I saw in the theaters was "The Lion King", so that should tell you something. When I first saw the preview for "The Nut Job", I laughed out loud (aka "LOL" to all you hipsters out there) and thought the movie looked really funny. To my pleasant surprise, I received a phone call a few days ago from my bestie saying that all she wants for her birthday is to go see this movie. I told her I'd be more than happy to go with her and tonight, we did just that.

The movie is about a nut heist. Think Goodfellas meets cartoon squirrels but is made for kids (no violence, etc) The movie was super cute, very funny and had some good messages in it for the kiddies to learn, such as don't be selfish, learn to share, be there for the people that are always there for you, etc. The humor was excellent for both kids & adults, which I always love.

So if you're the lucky aunt or uncle that has a niece or nephew that is begging to go see a movie with you, this would be the one to see. Whatever you do, please do not bring kids to the movie if you have no control over them, like the woman near me constantly saying "SHH!!!" every 3 seconds for 2 hours as your 5 kids shout at the top of their lungs. For the love of God...

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars, only because the humor started to dwindle towards the end.

TIP: Stay for the credits. The kids will love it. ;)

"Lone Survivor": A Non-Spoiler Review

Last night, I went and saw the movie "Lone Survivor". When I first saw the previews for it, I knew it would be one of those rare films that would be shocking, amazing, and perhaps a little bit traumatizing. I was right.

Based on a true story, Mark Wahlberg plays the role of real-life Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell. The story is about 4 Navy SEALS that go on a mission (named "Operation Red Wings") in Afghanistan to capture or kill Taliban leader, Ahmad Shah, and are met with a dilemma when 3 goat herders (1 elderly man, 2 young boys) find the SEAL team hiding. They have to decide to either kill them or let them go. With their communication devices failing, they cannot contact their superiors to ask them how to proceed. The team end up making a decision based on "Rules of Engagement", which then sparks a fight between the 4 of them & the Taliban.

Movie Facts: The 4 main actors had 3 weeks of military training to prepare them for their roles. Also, Navy SEALS veterans were on-set as technical advisers. Stunt men for the film were injured from jumping off of cliffs and down a 60 degree hillside. Some of the injuries included a punctured lung, concussions, and a broken rib. 

The movie gives you a sense that you are there with the 4 SEALS in the action, thinking of what to do, how to survive, where to hide, and will you make you wonder what you would be doing if you were there. It's a very powerful & emotional film. A film that will make you proud to be an American, proud of our men & women in the service and what they go through, even if it's not being shown on the national news.

While the movie is based on true story, there a few differences. For example, Mark Wahlberg's character is seen limping in one scene to find water and shelter. In reality, Marcus had to crawl seven miles because he was paralyzed from the waist down.

This is definitely a movie worth seeing. I can't wait to see it again, but will wait until it's on DVD simply because I don't know if I can handle crying at the theater again. (It takes a lot for me to cry, so that should tell you something.) 

I give this movie a 5 out of 5 stars.

Here's a tip, bring kleenex.
You too, fellas. 

Mark Wahlberg & Marcus Luttrell:

How to Build a Feral Cat Outdoor Shelter Box

If you're on Pintrest as much as I am, then you've probably seen tutorials on how to build an outdoor survival shelter box for cold weather for stray cats/feral cats. Being an animal lover, I've always wanted to do this but never got around to it.

Until last night.

Starting tonight here in Wisconsin, the temperature will be dropping down below zero with the windchill (talks of -25 degrees was on the news this morning). I've seen a couple of stay cats around our apartment complex over the past year, so I figured now would be the time to build an outdoor cat shelter.

I bought most of the materials from our local goodwill and the insulation (Styrofoam) from Home Depot.

Materials bought at Goodwill:
*straw (which is better) or fleece blanket as an alternative approx $3
*1 large plastic bin with lid $4
*1 small plastic bin (no lid) $3
*2 small bowls (25 cents)

Materials bought at Home Depot:
*styrofoam $6 (came in a package, had plenty left over)

Already had:
*duct tape to secure lid

Total Cost: $16.25 

**Tip: You can cut cost if you have any/all of these items already on hand.

I had the boyfriend "eyeball it" and just let him do his thing. It was a pretty simple job. His only complaint was that the styrofoam was a bit messy, so we had to vacuum afterwards. When making the door for the cat, remember to make it big enough for a cat, but small enough that something bigger (racoons, etc) can't get in.

Basic Instructions:
*draw a box on the one side of the large bin (for the cat door), cut out with a razor blade/x-acto knife.
*place the smaller bin inside, use a marker to trace the already cut-out doorway, then cut out the square.
*measure & cut styrofoam, place in between the 2 bins for insulation, including on the bottom.
*place 2 sheets of styrofoam inside the smaller bin, place fleece blanket over it
*put lid on, duct tape on all 4 corners (so that the lid doesn't blow off)
*place bowl with cat food inside
*place the cat shelter box in an area where stray cats are known to roam

That's it!

It was a very easy and cheap project to do and knowing that we're helping stray kitties stay warm, makes us happy! :) Frostbite & hypothermia can happen to cats just like with humans. If you see a cat that could have frostbite or is injured, call your local humane society for help.

Don't forget to share this on Facebook, Twitter & Pintrest to spread the word!

How to Deal With a Noisy Neighbor

Ahh yes, apartment living. The world of sharing your space with others. Sometimes you can luck out and have neighbors that are so quiet, you wonder if they're ever home. Other times, you wish you were somewhere else due to excessive noises your neighbor makes.

My boyfriend & I moved into a nice apartment 2 years ago and since Day 1, we've had issues with our neighbors below. They pretty much violated everything they could in their lease: excessive dog barking for hours, slamming doors & kitchen cabinet doors, pounding on the wall and even the ceiling (*I still don't know what the hell they were pounding into their ceiling, our floor, for an hour), leaving their dog outside unattended (it would jump all over our dog, try to come into our apartment, bark at other dogs passing by, etc). It's been pretty much a nightmare since we moved in.

Luckily, I documented everything. And I mean everything! I have more videos than I can count of her lease violations (just the ones that directly affected us), audio of 2 hours of non-stop barking thanks to my handy dandy digital recorder, and a recent police report documenting the barking for hours the other day. I put all of these in separate folders (eg: Barking, Slamming Door, Dog Unattended, etc) and uploaded it to a USB drive. I then called my leasing office and asked to schedule a meeting with the property manager at her earliest convenience, which was yesterday afternoon.

I walked in cool, calm, collected and stated that my only goal was to be able to enjoy a "peaceful living environment", which every tenant is entitled to. (It's stated in every lease.) Once I told her the history of the noisy neighbor, I then presented a mountain of evidence on the USB drive, along with a "Letter to Management" which documented what lease violations she violating, the duration of each violation, and everything that I did in order to achieve peace & quiet (such as calling the manager, talking to my neighbor directly, etc.)

After about 20 minutes of talking and showing audio/videos, my landlord was 100% on our side and I could tell that she was frustrated at the neighbor for so blatantly ignoring all of the warnings her staff has given her, including a "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice a couple of weeks ago.

By the end of my meeting with my landlord, I was informed that the neighbor will be issued a 2nd "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice. If the problem persists after 5 days, she will be contacting her boss to see if they can somehow force an eviction based on how many warnings they gave her and the evidence I presented as proof of her being a nuisance neighbor. The most logical statement the property manager stated yesterday was "If you move out, I'll just have the same problems with a new tenant anyways." Bingo! Get rid of the problem, not quiet tenants that have no lease violations and always pay rent on time.

I must say, since the neighbor was given another "5 Day Quit or Evict" notice yesterday, I haven't heard a peep! Until I saw her walking her dog this morning, I honestly thought she was gone overnight. Needless to say, the boyfriend & I are so happy & are finally living in peace & quiet! We just hope it lasts.

So for those of you dealing with a noisy neighbor, there is hope! Just make sure to document everything. If the leasing office staff (aka not the manager) are doing very little to help, bypass them and ask to speak directly to the manager who has authority to do a lot more.

If that doesn't work, you can always ask for your security deposit back and for your lease to end, since they (the leasing company) are in breach of their contract with you for not providing you with a "peaceful living environment" & move elsewhere.

Good luck & keep fighting the good fight!

Crock Pot Cooking: Fast, Cheap & Oh So Good

One of the best gifts I have ever received in my life, was my Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Crock Pot. I have used this thing a gazillion times and it is just the best thing ever! I can put in a few ingredients, put the lid on and walk out the door. When I come home hours later, I have a savory and complete dinner ready for me for pennies on the dollar. I love it!!

As y'all know, I am a self proclaimed budget queen and I always try to get more bang for my buck & make every dollar stretch. My crock pot allows me to be able to feed myself & my boyfriends seemingly bottomless pit of a stomach for only a couple of bucks per meal.

I try to keep all meals around $2/per person & no more than $5/per person.

Those of you who eat fast food and think you're getting a good deal for $1 McChicken sandwich (*is it even chicken??) or a $5 combo meal, guess what? You can eat steak, potatoes and veggies for that price with little effort & still have left overs for lunch. Doesn't seem like a "value meal" now, does it. ;)

Last night, I made a chicken, rice and green bean meal for just over $5 for the two of us:
The Cost Breakdown:
*$3 for the chicken
*$1 Cream of Mushroom Soup
*$1 bag of boil-in-bag rice
*$0.50 cents for green beans
$5.50 for the whole meal, or $2.75 per person

"Chicken & Rice" Crock Pot Recipe:
*put 4 boneless skinless chicken cutlets in the crock pot
*pour in 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup & 1 can of milk
*1 bag of rice
*1 can of drained green beans 

Stir & let it cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
That's it!

The chicken came out tasting sooo good! It was so tender and juicy. Highly recommend this recipe.
For dessert, I had "Crock Pot Dump Cake", which is so easy and addicting I might add. ;)

Crock Pot "Dump Cake":
*put (2) cans of pie filling on bottom of crock pot (blueberries, apples, whatever you like)
*combine 1/2 cup of melted butter & 1 package dry cake mix together, mix until crumbly
*sprinkle dry cake/butter mix over the fruit

Cook on LOW for 4 hours (or HIGH for 2 hours).
Optional: Serve with a scoop of vanilla custard ice cream & whipped cream

The cost depends on what kind of fruit you buy, but it's about $6 for the cans of pie filling (@$3/each), $1 for the dry cake mix, and a few bucks for the ice around $10 total if you don't have any coupons to chip away at the cost. It feeds at least 4-6 people, if not more.

**If you want to make the dump cake in the oven, which is even better, just put it in the oven @ 350 for 45-60 mins. Comes out looking & tasting like cobbler. So good!!

There are a ton of crock pot recipes out there for just about everything you can possibly imagine and Crock Pot Cookbooks that range from beginners to advanced. So no matter what your cooking skills are, you can rock a crock & make amazing tasting meals!

So if you have a crock pot but you just don't use it, go dust it off & put that baby to work!! If you don't have a crock pot..GET ONE!!! Worth the investment for sure. :)

Cabela's Doorbusters At 2am: Was it Worth It?

This past Saturday (December 14th, 2013), our local Cabela's store was having a doorbusters sale, where they awarded the first 250 people in line with the possibility of winning some pretty big prizes that included:

*1 rifle ($329 value)
*1 tent & 2 sleeping bags ($159 value)
*1 fishing rod ($89 value)
*1 archery set ($184 value)
*1 commercial vacuum sealer ($329 value)
*250 Cabela's Gift Cards (worth up to $100)

When my friend & I had arrived, there were already 7 sets of people in line.

We were under the (false) impression that it was on a 1st come, 1st served basis with the bigger prizes. The assumption was based on a convo that I had with the female manager the day prior to the sale. She had mentioned that there were 2 people in line already and that if "I wanted the fishing pole, they already have dibs on it." (**For the record, I still have no clue why she would tell me that.)

The time was 2:40am on Saturday when we arrived and we started to unpack the car...a lot of blankets, a couple of chairs, a laptop to watch movies on, and a Coleman thermos full of hot water so that we could make hot cocoa and/or tea to help us keep warm, and some snacks to munch on.

We sat outside...

...watching "A Christmas Story" on the laptop...

...eating our peanut butter pop tarts (*yes, you read that right, peanut butter pop tarts. I'll wait while you dash to the store to go pick some up.) 

So there we sat, from nearly 3am until 8am. My toes were so frozen that I seriously started to wonder if I was in the beginning stages of getting frostbite. The 2 pairs of socks & waterproof winter boots I had on simply couldn't hold up in near-zero degree weather with wind chills for that many hours. I was really starting regret my decision of no sleep and freezing my butt off for a chance at prizes.

The best of waiting for the store to open was talking to our 'neighbors' in the line. There was 1 single guy next to us and an older couple on our other side. We all became short term friends, sharing stories and laughs throughout the long hours.

My friend & I had to make a pee run to the truck stop about 1/8 of a mile up the road around 6am. The single guy in line sat in my chair & warmed up under our blankets per my invitation for him to do so while we were gone. I also offered to buy him a cup of coffee, as he was clearly cold and shaking for hours. He politely accepted my offer.

We came back from our pee run (which was also a breakfast & beef jerky run apparently) and waited the last 2 hours until the store opened.

Employees from Cabela's came out around 7:30am and gave the first 20 people in line a bag of gifts. We were #17 & #18 of the 20 people, so luckily we received the bag of goodies that included the following:
*a Cabela's hat ($30 value)
*thermos ($11 value)
*beef jerky ($6 value)

The employees then came back outside & passed out 250 gift cards. We ripped ours open to see what we won:

*I won a $20 gift card
*my friend won a $5 gift card
*the guy that I bought a coffee won the $329 commercial vacuum sealer

Since the expiration date on the cards was Dec. 26th, we decided to just go inside & use them before heading back home. I bought a $20 Yankee Candle, my friend bought $5 worth of candy.

So...that's my story. My exciting Saturday morning adventure at Cabela's.

Would I do it again? I don't know, maybe. I definitely wouldn't go at 2am again, especially now that I know that I could go 2 hours before the store opens and still have the same chances as the guy that camped out for 2 days.

Ya live, ya learn. :P