Author: Genna Gincel

5 Quick & Tasty Meatless Meals

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Whether you’re a vegetarian, participating in Meatless Mondays, or are just short on time and want a delicious meal you can make at home, these ideas are perfect for you!

1. Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Grilled Cheese

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For this one, all you have to do is slice up some fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, grab 2 slices of your favorite bread, and get a hold of some pesto or pesto-mayo. Then you put the sandwich together to your liking and throw it a pan with some melted butter or margarine and make it like you would a normal grilled cheese and you’re good to go!

2. Greek Yogurt Bowl

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With this meal you have a lot of room for variety and creativity. Whether for breakfast or lunch, this is a healthy and filling meatless option. Pick up your favorite flavor of Greek yogurt (such as French Vanilla or Original Plain) and measure ourabout a cup into a bowl. Then top with your favorite fresh fruit, granola, and a superfood of your choice (chia seeds, goji berries, and bee pollen are all great options!) The best part about this, apart from it being delicious, is that you can customize it to fit whatever you’re in the mood for!

3. Egg, Avocado, and Chia Seed Toast

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This one is really simple. Scramble up some eggs. Pop a slice of bread into the toaster. Smash up some avocado on top of your toast and sprinkle some chia seeds on top. Then add your eggs on top and you have a delicious, protein-packed meatless meal!

4. Rigatoni Pesto Primavera

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All you need for this is a package of rigatoni (or penne if you prefer), a jar of pesto, some frozen broccoli, an onion, and a bell pepper. Once you gather all your ingredients, cook your pasta to your liking. While your pasta is cooking, sauté your vegetables in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. When your pasta is done and strained, toss it with the pesto and your sautéed vegetables. You can add some grated cheese if you’d like or leave it as is for a vegan/dairy-free option!

5. Nutella Strawberry Chocolate French Toast

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Most people might consider this a breakfast or brunch dish, but if like me, you’re a fan of breakfast food for any meal, then you can treat yourself to this one at any time of the day! You can use any bread you like (Texas Toast is my favorite for this, but you can use whole grain for a healthier version.) All you need to do to make your egg-wash is whisk up an egg and then stir in some chocolate milk; this is where the “Chocolate” in Chocolate French Toast comes in! Once you do that, cover your bread with your chocolate egg-wash and cook it up in your pan with some non-stick spray. Once you’ve cooked your French Toast to your liking, spread some Nutella on top and then add some strawberry slices for the most delicious French Toast you’ve ever had!

Tips For Planning An Affordable Spring Break

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If you’re planning a spring break trip with your friends, now is the time to crack down on your planning.  Finding an affordable trip is easier than you might think.  Here are a few tips to help you get started!

1. Do your research.

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Look into every deal you can find for the places you’re thinking about going.  Check Groupon, Airbnb, Expedia, Priceline, etc.  Make sure you find the best deal for the kind of trip you want.  Really explore your options so you can find the trip that’s right for you.

2. Set a budget and stick to it.

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Make sure you know how much you have to spend and plan accordingly.  Include any potential spending money you’ll need while you’re there.  If you’re not going to an all-inclusive resort, factor in your food and beverage expenses.  If you’re doing any non-free activities, make sure you’re prepared for the costs.

3. Read the fine print.

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Some hotels and getaway deals have extra and hidden fees.  Read everything before you book your stay/trip to make sure there are no surprises.  Be certain of the costs before you agree to anything.

4. Be open-minded.

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Don’t be too set on a specific place.  Just know the type of vacation you want to have (i.e. warm weather, beach resort, city, ski/snowboard trip, etc.)  Depending on the popularity of the place, the dates you’re going, and the amount of people you’re travelling with, some places/hotels will be more expensive.  Being open to different places can help you find a more affordable trip.

5. Split costs where you can.

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Find rooms that sleep more people.  Split the cost of the rental car or gas if one of you has your own car that you can take.  Go in as a group on snacks and/or groceries.  Anything that can be a shared cost, share it.

Tips to Keep Warm During Winter Walks to Class

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Now that we’re in the middle of winter, walking to class can be pretty dreadful. If you go to school in a colder area, you’ll find that frigid temperatures doesn’t equal cancelled classes. Here are some tips on how to stay warm as you brave the winter weather to get to class.

1. Get a pair of thermal underwear.

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Wear thermal leggings or long johns under your jeans, sweatpants, etc. It will make a world of difference when you’re walking to class in frigid temperatures.

2. Pick up some wool socks.
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Invest in some good quality wool socks. Keeping your feet warm is extremely important during the colder months and a good pair of socks helps to ensure a warmer, more comfortable journey.

3. Wear snow boots.
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If you go to school somewhere where snow is likely in the winter, snow boots are essential. They’ll keep your feet warm and dry as you trek through campus. Snow boots are also great for extremely cold temperatures when it’s not snowing!

4. Don’t forget your hat, scarf, or gloves!
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Winter accessories are important and a good coat can only cover so much. Don’t forget to keeps your hands, neck, and head bundled up as well. It’s cold and flu season and the cold weather will only worsen your symptoms if you’re not careful!

5. Invest in a good coat.
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It might be worth it to spend a bit more money to ensure you’re getting a good quality, warm coat. Getting a good coat also means longevity, so you’ll get many years out of it, which is worth the investment!

The Best Peppermint Sugar Cookie Recipe

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Now that you’re home for winter break, it’s time to start treating yourself to some festive sweets!  These  peppermint sugar blossom cookies are delicious and super-easy to make.

Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 package Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses

-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1/4 teaspoon baking soda

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

-1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

-1 large egg

-2 tablespoons milk

-1/2 cup crushed candy cane pieces

(Makes about 48 cookies.)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

  1. Mix butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl until well blended.

 

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and crushed candy canes in a separate bowl and stir.

 

  1. Gradually add the dry ingredients (from step 3) and milk to the butter mixture (alternating between dry ingredients and milk) and stir together with a wooden spoon until you get an even, doughy consistency.

 

  1. Shape your dough into 1-inch balls and place them onto ungreased cookie sheets.

 

  1. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Now is a good time to unwrap your Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses.

 

  1. Take your cookie sheets out of the oven and press one Kiss into each cookie. Put your cookies back into the oven for 2 minutes.

 

  1. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely.

 

Now you have a fresh batch of cookies to serve at your holiday party or you can put them in small festive bags and give them as gifts!  (Or just enjoy them for yourself!)

 

*If you’re not the best at baking, or you’re short on time, you can also buy prepackaged peppermint sugar cookie dough (Pillsbury makes a great one) at your local supermarket and just add the Candy Cane Kisses!

Essentials for a Relaxing, Pamper Night!

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With the end of the semester getting closer and closer, you may be a bit stressed. If that’s the case, it’s time to ‘treat yo’ self’ to the relaxing night you deserve. Do it solo or have a group pamper night with friends! Here’s what you’ll need!

  1. Candles

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There’s something about candlelight that is so magical and relaxing. Pick up some candles in scents that you love and put them around your room. You don’t have to light them all at once, so pick one or two scents that compliment each other and put them wherever you like. If you’re in a dorm that doesn’t allow candles, you can get a flameless wax burner for a similar effect.

  1. A Face Mask

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There are so many different face masks out there to choose from, so find one that you think will be good for your skin and smells nice. They have masks for dry skin, breakouts, oily skin, blackheads, stress relief, redness, etc. You name and it probably exists. You’ll feel like you’re getting a facial at a fancy spa, without the hefty price tag!

  1. Scented Lotion

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There’s nothing better than soft skin that smells amazing. There are scented lotions that smell like just about anything you could possibly think of, so find some that you love. A great place to start searching is Bath and Body Works. Their selection is huge and you’re bound to find something you love. If scented lotions aren’t you’re thing or you’re allergic, there are some great, unscented lotions out there so don’t feel like you have to be left out on this one. Find a hypoallergenic, sensitive skin friendly lotion that is really moisturizing and you’ll be goo to go.

  1. Hot Chocolate or Tea

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A hot, delicious beverage is a great addition to your pamper night. You can make your own hot chocolate or tea or pick some up at your favorite café. If you like specialty flavors, like peppermint hot chocolate or chai tea lattes, there are mixes you can buy to make at home—part of the fun is in making it yourself and there’s something ultra relaxing about making your own hot beverage!

  1. Relaxing Music

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Just put on a playlist of your favorite mellow music and you’ll instantly feel relaxed! You can also find some great playlists on Pandora and Spotify if you want some help finding the perfect soundtrack for your pamper night.

  1. A Good Book or Magazines

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Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to or revisit your favorite book! If you’re a pop culture junkie pick up some new issues of your favorite magazines and get your celebrity gossip fix!

  1. A Cozy Blanket

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This one is pretty self-explanatory: wrap yourself in your favorite cozy blanket while you drink your hot drink and read your book!

  1. Comfortable PJs

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Comfortable pajamas are an essential here, because pamper nights are all about comfort. Ditch the jeans and let yourself truly relax!

3 Cancelled-Too-Soon TV Shows for Your Next Netflix Binge

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1. Freaks and Geeks

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This Judd Apatow creation is a cult classic comedy from 1999. The show only lasted one season (18 episodes) and then it was tragically cancelled! The show was the start to many stellar careers. The cast was made up of some of your favorite actors including James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr. Set in a high school in Michigan in the 1980’s, the show mixed comedy with high school drama seamlessly and was a truly incredible, however short-lived, series. Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, Joe Flaherty, Becky Ann Baker, Busy Phillips, and Samm Levine round out the cast. (Available on Netflix)

2. Undeclared

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Another Judd Apatow creation that came after Freaks and Geeks, this comedy left high school behind and went straight into college. This show also only lasted one season with 17 episodes completing the series. The show focuses on a small group of college freshmen in the early 2000s (when the show first aired). The show starred Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Charlie Hunnam, Carla Gallo, Monica Keena, Loudon Wainwright III, and Timm Sharp. Jason Segel, Kevin Hart, Amy Poehler, and Busy Phillips also make multiple appearances. Even the guest stars list is impressive. It includes Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Simon Helberg, Felicia Day, Martin Starr, Tom Welling, and Fred Willard to name a few. (Available on Netflix)

3. Arrested Development

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Arrested Development actually lasted 3 seasons in its original run before returning for a 4th and final season exclusively on Netflix on May 26, 2013, 7 years after the ending of its 3rd season. This comedy starred Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Wil Arnett, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter, David Cross, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, and Jeffrey Tambor. The cast makes up the dysfunctional, formerly wealthy Bluth family whose patriarch (played by Tambor) is in prison for fraud. His son, Michael (Jason Bateman) takes over the family business and, as a result, the family. The hilarious sitcom falls under the category known as “cinema verité” which is a documentary-similar style—think Modern Family, The Office, Parks and Recreation, etc. (Available on Netflix)

4 Ways to Make a Healthier Pizza!

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1. Use a whole wheat tortilla as the crust.

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This is a healthier alternative to a traditional pizza crust, but is just as delicious! Put your sauce, cheese, and desired toppings on and then put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle some garlic powder and basil on top for added flavor. You can adjust the cooking times depending on how crispy you want your crust to be.

2. Make a personal pizza on a portobello mushroom cap.

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This makes a great snack or pair it with a salad or some other side to make it a meal. This is a very healthy, low carb alternative to a regular pizza and it is very tasty! You can get very creative with this option. Use any sauce you want: marinara, Alfredo, or pesto and it will be delicious. Then top with some low-fat shredded cheese or fresh mozzarella and any toppings you want. Pop it in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. It is super easy and a great way to satisfy your pizza craving!

3. Pick up some whole wheat flat-bread pizza crusts.

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You can find these premade crusts in stores (the package pictured above is from Target). All you have to do is add your sauce, cheese, and toppings and toss it in the oven for 10 minutes at 425 degrees and you’ll have a delicious and crispy thin crust pizza! Use lots of veggies for toppings for added nutrition and tastiness!

4. Choose your toppings wisely.

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You can easily cut calories without sacrificing taste by picking more health-conscious sauces, cheeses, and toppings. Go for a simpler tomato sauce and stay away from sauces that use heavy cream or cheese. Pick up low-fat cheese or fresh mozzarella, which is actually one of the healthier cheese options because it is low in sodium, has no carbs or sugar, and is rich in protein. Fresh mozzarella is also really delicious and melts perfectly! Choose fresh veggies for added healthiness and nutrients.

5 Movies Coming Out This Semester!

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Gone Girl (October 2)

Gone Girl is based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn who also wrote the adapted screenplay. The psychological thriller follows the life of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and his missing wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike). Why did Amy Dunne go missing? Did Nick kill her? You’ll have to see the movie (or read the book) to find out! The film, directed by David Fincher, also stars Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, and Sela Ward.


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The Judge (October 10)

Directed by David Dobkin, The Judge has been described as a comedy-drama. The film tells the story of a lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) returning home for his mother’s funeral after years of living away from his family. He comes to find out that his estranged father (Robert Duvall), who is a judge in his hometown, is a suspected murderer. Downey Jr.’s character must then represent his father in court when he is put on trial. The film also stars Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, and Billy Bob Thornton.


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Fury (October 17)

Fury is a war drama set in Nazi Germany during the last month of World War II. The film chronicles Wardaddy, a U.S. Army sergeant, and his five-man crew as they go on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines in a M4A3E8 Sherman tank named Fury. The film stars Brad Pitt as Wardaddy, as well as Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Jason Issacs, and Scott Eastwood.


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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)

One of the most anticipated films of the year, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is based on the first half of Suzanne Collins’ novel Mockingjay from the smash hit series The Hunger Games. Francis Lawrence returns as director after a successful directing job on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, and Jeffrey Wright all return to reprise their roles. The film also stars Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.


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The Interview (December 25)

This comedy centers on TV tabloid host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen). After scoring an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who is a fan of Skylark’s show, they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Rogen and longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg direct the film, so it is sure to be hilarious! The duo also co-wrote the screenplay with Dan Sterling. The film also stars Lizzy Caplan, Randall Park as Kim Jung-un, Timothy Simons, Charles Rahi Chun, and Rob Lowe (as himself).

Tips to Keep Organized at School

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1. Get a wall calendar.

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You can find a wall calendar with anything you can think of!  Get one to go with your décor, of your favorite animal, or of your favorite TV show… the possibilities are endless!  Once you put up your wall calendar, mark down all the important things: exams, breaks, paper and assignment due dates, advising appointments, career fairs, etc.  This will help you keep track of everything you have going on each month in an orderly and easy way!

2. Pick up some baskets/desk organizers.

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You can use baskets anywhere: on top of your dresser, on shelves, on your nightstand, under your bed, etc.  Use them to organize your school supplies, electronics, chargers, toiletries, hairbrushes and accessories, jewelry, and anything else you’re not sure where to store!  Desk organizers are great for storing pens, pencils, markers, scissors, and other desk essentials!

3. Get a whiteboard and put your upcoming assignments/to do list on it.

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This is a great way to keep track of your weekly assignments, chores, and errands.  Hang it somewhere in your room that you will see it all the time! You can color code by categories for added organization.  And check off things as you get them done, it’s really satisfying to see your list get smaller and smaller!

4. Set alarms/calendar alerts on your phone for important events and appointments.

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If a new event or appointment comes up, put it into your phone’s calendar and set an alert/alarm for it to make sure you don’t forget.  The little reminder can really come in handy and save the day when you’re out and about!  This is a great tool if you make an appointment when you’re not home and can’t immediately write in on your wall calendar or white board.

5. Get a lanyard and/or key chain for your student ID, keys, and other essential cards.

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Keeping your ID and keys in the same place will make things so much easier for you day to day.  You can keep them in your bag or around your neck when you leave so you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing these very important items.  Eventually you’ll get in the habit of grabbing for your lanyard/keychain and it will become second nature; goodbye to the days of getting locked out of your room or apartment!

5 Shows to Watch This Fall

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Now that September is upon us, lots of shows will be returning with new seasons. New episodes of your favorite shows are a great treat to look forward to throughout a stressful semester!  Don’t know where to start?  Here’s a short list of some great shows coming back for all new seasons to help you get started!

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1. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation will be returning for its 7th and final season.  The Emmy and Golden Globe nominated NBC comedy stars Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Rhetta, Nick Offerman, Jim O’Heir, Rashida Jones, and Rob Lowe.  The show centers on the Parks and Recreation department of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana and is in documentary style.  Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who also created the US version of The Office, created the show.

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2. Modern Family

Modern Family returns for its 6th season on September 24th at 9pm on ABC.  The acclaimed comedy series has won several Emmys and Golden Globes for its first five seasons and is consistently well received by critics and audiences alike.  The show stars Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriquez, and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons.

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3. American Horror Story: Freak Show

The 4th season of the FX hit returns October 8th at 10pm with a whole new set of characters.  Each season of the show has its own story, completely separate from each other, so each season functions as a miniseries.  Much of the cast, however, typically stays the same.  This season stars Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Chiklis, Wes Bentley, Finn Wittrock, John Carroll Lynch, and Patti LaBelle.

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4. The Vampire Diaries

This CW show is back for its 6th season on October 2nd.  The finale of season 5 was very emotional and fans of the show are eager to see what comes next.  The show stars Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Kat Graham, Candice Accola, Steven R. McQueen, Matt Davis, Michael Trevino, and Zach Roerig.  What happened to Damon and Bonnie at end of season 5?  Tune in to find out!

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5.  The Big Bang Theory

This CBS show is the #1 comedy on television and it returns for its 8th season on September 22nd.  Led by Jim Parsons, who has won 4 Emmy awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, the show is well received by fans and TV critics alike.  The show also stars Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, and Mayim Bialik.

 What shows will you be watching this Fall?  Let us know in the comments!