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Monday, December 30, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews McKenna's Blues Booze and BBQ

McKenna's Big Easy.
Smell smoke? This month population-we™ (pop-we) foodie Becky decided on barbeque at McKenna’s Blues Booze and BBQ. Located at 7425 Pacific Street in Omaha, NE, Mckenna’s has been serving up great barbeque with a Louisiana roadhouse feel since 1991. They also are connected with the Omaha Blues Society, bringing local and national Blues entertainment to town. So, whether you are having dinner or dropping in for a beverage; McKenna's offers a great venue for national, regional and local Blues acts.

When you first walk in the door you immediately come to the host stand. From there you can see the large bar along the north wall adorned with corrugated metal, which is sectioned off with chain link fencing. The walls are covered with Blues posters of acts throughout the ages, along with some familiar “Blues Brothers'” movie posters. The flooring is nothing fancy--just polished concrete. Also, above the windows there is a large neon sign that reads, “When Adam First Meet Eve…That’s When The Blues Started.”

Tonight I decided to try the Big Easy, which is a smoked brisket sandwich with cheddar, barbeque sauce and onion strings served on a pretzel bun. This sandwich works! The pretzel bun sets it over the top paired with the tangy barbeque sauce. The brisket is slow smoked to be juicy and tasty. Another tasty treat is the Smoked Chicken Nachos. Piled high with chips, chicken, black eye beans served with salsa on the side. In my opinion some of the best nachos in Omaha.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives McKenna’s a 4.09 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 4.4
McKenna's Rib Sampler.

Cleanliness – 3.8

Wait Staff – 4.2

Menu – 4

Food Presentation – 3.9

Food Portions – 4.6

Food Taste – 4.4

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 4.1

Noise Level – 3.3

Overall Experience – 4.2

For more information regarding directions or McKennna’s menu, visit their website at

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to McKenna’s leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
McKenna's Blues Booze & BBQ on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 23, 2013

12 Days of Ornaments Revealed

Nothing illuminates the Christmas spirit more than decorating a Christmas tree. Indeed, the most cherished Christmas items in the Brown's household hang from a limb. When a lot of people get married their Christmas tree is practically bare but not for these newlyweds. Ornaments have been at the epicenter of holiday tradition for my husband; since, he was a little boy. Every year for Christmas all the grandchildren in his family would get a special ornament from their grandparents. I had my own ornaments to contribute too. For a while my mom worked for Hallmark and shared her love of ornaments with our family.

Watching Clinton Kelly's 12 Days of Ornaments on "The Chew," I decided to share a snip it of The Bohan Brown's ornament collection with my Twitter followers. Not all of our ornaments are handmade but they still truly come from the heart. So, if you follow me on Twitter (@beckybohanbrown) you have already seen them in their entirety. If not, I'm unveiling the 12th ornament and recapping the rest that appeared on Twitter in this blog post below.

Brown ornament 12: A nativity ornament highlighting the true meaning of Christmas, Christ is born! #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 11: Represents a momentous occasion, The Brown's first married Christmas together! #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 10: On our Christmas tree crayons make anyone young or a bit older crack a smile. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 9: A patriotic thanks to any military away from their families this Christmas! #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 8: To celebrate @GOSCUBANE's annual party here's my very first Scuba ornament. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 7:
Who doesn't love sequins especially on a Christmas tree? The Brown's do! #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 6: My mom's favorite #Hallmark ornament, Madame Alexander's Colonial Christmas. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 5:
A gift from my brother reminds us of Uncle Dean who collected Coke products. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 4: Most don't have this ornament on their tree, the one & only wienermobile! #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 3: A teddy bear stocking bought at a local craft show adorns our Christmas tree. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 2: To celebrate Grandma's 91st birthday Brian's favorite Snoopy ornament from her. #12daysofornaments

Brown ornament 1: Representing our @BensonHighNews roots a bunny ornament resides on our tree! #12daysofornaments

Merry 12 Days of Ornaments to all of our population-we™ readers! You too can participate in 12 Days of Ornaments. Are you an ornament lover or collector too? If so, comment below on what your favorite ornament is and be entered into a drawing to win an ornament for your very own tree. Your email must accompany your submission. 

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to Make a Repurposed Winter Outdoor Holiday Decoration

Since our first Christmas our holiday decorations have always been a hodgepodge of old and new. Some passed down and others bought off the clearance rack; since, Brian and I were both in college when we first got married. So, indeed we've been penny pincher's from the start. These days the torch has been passed and The Bohan Brown's household now hosts Christmas--so it's all about curb appeal.

This post is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) craft project, which is based around a repurposed (recycled) item. We want to share with our population-we™ readers that Earth Day should be commemorated every day of the year! For The Brown's: a recycled home project evokes something you already had around the house; were given specifically for repurposing; picked up thrifting or bought at a ReStore. To be classified as population-we™repurposed project: one- or all- components should be recycled in the project. In this case, you'll see below we used items already on hand. Here's our post--a repurposed craft project that will greet a passersby and any house guests pulling up to our house on Christmas day 2013.

Inspiration for Project:
We have two huge planters out front, which I change out for the season year-after-year. For Christmas and through spring we've decorated it with fake pine trees and candy canes bought from the local dollar store. However, one artificial pine tree snapped from the epic winds we get here in Elkhorn. So, instead of going to the store to pick up a brand new tree; I decided to embark on a repurposed craft project. See how we repurposed items into an outdoor holiday decoration below.

Repurposed Components:

The planter with grass.

Pine tree branches.

Laundry bags and mini straw hay bales.

Rope and used candle decoration.

Other Things You'll Need:

Wheel barrel, clippers and saw.

Staple gun and scissors.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Pull the dead flowers but the grass out of the planter.
Step 2: Grab the wheel barrel, saw, clippers and scissors.
Step 3: Cut or saw the branches from the pine tree.
Step 4: Place branches in planter with dollar tree candy canes on each side.
Step 5: Place mini straw hay bales on waterproof laundry bag.
Step 6: Cut to size.
Step 7: Wrap like a present.
Step 8: Staple in place on each end.
Step 9:  Place twine around the present and tie into place.
Step 10:  Cut item from candle decoration and place on top as the bow.

Finished outdoor winter holiday decor. 

Re-purpose Tip! 

Ms. Pepper, the helper.

Bobby pins.

You too can do this yourself. Every DIY project is better done with a friend. In my case, our 15-year-old rescue dog, Pepper, was on-hand for this project (see the helper above). Also, use your imagination. I used a torn waterproof laundry bag as our wrapping paper. So, finding something on-hand that is waterproof is key, as well as something heavy (like a hay bale) that won't blow away with gail force winds. Lastly, I ran out of supplies for my staple gun and used bobby pins instead. Happy Holidays and repurpose DIYing!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Miracle on Farnam Lights Up Midtown Crossing in Omaha

The Omaha Community Playhouse's 2012 Window Display: A Christmas Carol.
Decorated holiday storefronts are things of Christmas past or are they? Midtown Crossing has taken a page out of Christmas past and transformed three-city blocks into "Miracle on Farnam." Since it's inception two years ago, Miracle on Farnam is Omaha's newest holiday tradition. Come be part of Miracle on Farnam now through Wednesday, January 1st, at Midtown Crossing. Re-visit how ordinary window spaces can to be transformed into holiday splendor like in years past from 31st-33rd and Farnam-Dodge Sts. Whether by car or foot, best of all admission is free at Midtown Crossing's Miracle on Farnam.

This year's 21 Miracle on Farnam participants are listed below:

- The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation: The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation Celebrates 118 Years in the Heartland
- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts: 28 Years in the Implicate Order by Pascual Sisto
- Fontenelle Forest: Making Mystery Tracks in the Snow
- Love’s Jazz & Arts Center: The Gift
- The Omaha Community Playhouse: Page to Stage
- Joslyn Castle Trust: Joslyn Castle Holiday Greetings
- Joslyn Art Museum: Mini Masterpieces with Joslyn Art Museum
- The University of Nebraska at Omaha: Winter Campus Art Showcase
- Omaha Symphony Guild: A Tribute to Christmas Spectaculars’ Past and Present
- The Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts: Concentricity
- Strategic Air & Space Museum: From Our Space to Your Space, Happy Holidays!
- Lauritzen Gardens: A Victorian Holiday-
- The Durham Museum: “It’s Beginning to Taste a lot like Christmas”- The Making of an Omaha Tradition
- Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium: A Chilly and Cheery Christmas (The spirit and traditions of a penguin’s Holiday Season)
- Nebraska Shakespeare: The Twelve Months of Shakespeare, The Gift That Keeps Giving - All Year Round 
- El Museo Latino | The Latino Museum: The Piñata – A Holiday Tradition
- Omaha Performing Arts: Deck the Halls
- The Rose Theater: Narnia – What lies beyond the wardrobe doors?
- Omaha Children's Museum: Up on the Housetop
- Opera Omaha: Miracles, Magic and Music  
- Brandeis: Brandeis Window Display Celebrates Old, New Holiday Traditions

For more details on each window display, visit To see the windows in their entirety you have to stop by in-person. After stopping by, make sure to vote for your favorite! The winning nonprofit earns a $3,000 donation from the Baer Foundation. The Baer Foundation is a philanthropic endeavor that supports various charities, including Nebraska arts and educational agencies. You can vote online at

Midtown Crossing welcomes everyone to re-visit Christmas past; bring that special someone or whole family to experience 21 window displays from local nonprofits until January 1st. Happy Holidays!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Top 10 Made-For-TV Christmas Movies

It's that time of year, made-for-TV Christmas movie time! I truly don't know what my fa la la la la  fascination is with these shows? I mean in some of the made-for-TV-movies the story lines are so obvious and the acting is downright campy; no matter, the shows always seem to put a smile on my face.

You're wondering where to watch these holiday TV movies? Now through Christmas they're easy to happen upon; you can find the movies on a myriad of cable and satellite channels. I'd check your local listings for times. In some cases, you can even watch them on-demand at Internet streaming media outlets too. 

I know there's a cult following for these budget holiday shows. This time of year, my dearest friends and relatives constantly find ourselves always talking about our favorites. Anyone online can't help but notice the made-for-TV Christmas hype too. In this social media age hashtags are a flutter everywhere with made-for-TV holiday titles. 

population-we™ readers, join me as I rank my Top 10 favorite made-for-TV Christmas movies according to cable networks, on-demand media and genres below: 

Genre: Historical
Plot Summary: "Silent Night" (2012) is the true 1818 story behind the popular Christmas carol, Silent Night. In a small Austrian town, a young new assistant priest tries to bring the church closer to the common people but instead clashes with his superior. In the end, the young priest embraces the true significance of the Holy Night.

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Family
Plot Summary: "Moonlight & Mistletoe" (2008) finds a Boston toy executive returning home to help out her dad after a fall. She finds the all-year Christmas village, Santaville, outdated and near bankruptcy. Watch as the main character is whisked away in a love triangle between a shy woodworker and financial advisor. 

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Comedy
Plot Summary:  "Kristin's Christmas Past" (2013) is set around a time traveling 30-year-old who winds up in Christmas past offering advice to her younger self.

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Family
Plot Summary:  "Christmas in Paradise" (2007) follows two families looking to escape bad holiday memories by vacationing over Christmas at a Caribbean resort. In the process, both families come together and learn some Puerto Rican culture as well as the magical Christmas story of the three kings.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary: "A Holiday for Love" (1996) unrolls as a business executive is sent to a small town to assess which of the workers in a local factory should get laid off but instead falls in love with a single mom.  

On Demand: Netflix
Genre: Historical
Plot Summary: "Silent Night" (2002) is a fact-based World War II story set on 1944 Christmas Eve, which finds a German mom and son seeking refuge in a cabin on the war front. When she is invaded by three American and German soldiers; she successfully convinces the soldiers to put aside their differences for one evening and share a Christmas dinner.

Network: Hallmark
Genre: Romance
Plot Summary:  "A Holiday Engagement" (2011) dumped by her fiancé she may or may not find true love when she hires an actor to pose as her fiancé for the holidays.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Comedy
Plot Summary:  "Christmas in Handcuffs" is the tale of a desperate woman who literally kidnaps & handcuffs a stranger and parades him as her boyfriend at her parent's house for Christmas.

Network: Lifetime
Genre: Action Adventure
Plot Summary:  "Special Delivery" (2008) follows a bonded courier in the Pacific Rim who is tasked with delivering a 15-year-old teenager to her mom by Christmas. Based mostly in Hawaii, this babysitting detail turns into a Magnum PI episode with plot twists throughout.

Network: ABC Family
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot Summary:  "Christmas Bounty" (2013) puts a twist into the typical love triangle scene. A former bounty hunter turned school teacher determined to keep her past a secret finds herself rushed back into the family business. At the same time she struggles with feelings for her new Manhattan man and former New Jersey bounty hunter boyfriend. A lot of action scenes in this movie.

I guarantee, nothing makes the holiday stress melt away faster than watching made-for-TV holiday movies. So, merry made-for-TV Christmas movie watching!

(Editor's note: Plans are to make this an annual listing. So, remember to check back again the same time next year!)

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Fishing Before the Cold Midwest Weather Sets In

By now, most boats have been put away, and we’re now in the waiting period between the time of open water and all out ice fishing in Nebraska. Area anglers are eagerly awaiting safe ice to walk on, while I’ve heard of others who have already headed north for some fishing. Even though we were on the water less than a week ago, this weather makes it seem farther back than that. We made one last effort that lasted four days, and some of the fishing was fairly decent.

Elmwood Reservoir before dark. (Courtesy of Brian Robinson) 
My friend Ward and I, and his son Parker fished Lake McConaughy before this cold weather set in. While it was a bit chilly, the fishing conditions were still comfortable. I’m sure we would have been warmer had the fish been cooperating. The fish were clearly spread out in larger areas of the lake, including the dam, sand flats, and numerous drop offs. Fish we did find seemed to be negative and proved hard to hook. This went along with the information we had heard the week prior as well. It was still a great trip that provided us with four nice fat walleyes up to 22 inches, with a few bonus pike in the 30-inch range.

On our trip home, we stopped and fished Elwood Reservoir for a few hours. It took us a while to find fish, but once we did, these fish were much more cooperative. While I caught the walleyes at McConaughy, Ward and Parker really put on a show and left me far behind. Ward reeled in a Master Angler (MA) wiper at just above 24 inches, while Parker came very close to MA status on a nice white bass that went over 16 inches. Numerous fish were caught on slab spoons, including one walleye. Ward hooked a monster of a fish, which unforfunately left us shaking our heads as it popped the hook. It’s possible that it was a large wiper, but Ward believes it may have been a muskie. I have heard of far fewer muskies caught the past two years, but some still prowl the waters of Elwood, and I believe some of them are quite large. I also believe they are extremely rare in Elwood due to past low water levels, but I know of a recent 46-inch catch that resides in my neighbors house just down the road. My uncle hooked it in the spring of 2012.

The results prompted me to return the next day, along with it being the absolute last nice day before the winter front was to arrive. The weather proved to be great at 65 degrees, and the fishing wasn’t bad either. I caught numerous white bass up to 16 3/4 inches, and five wipers up to 23 inches. This time of year the fish will make you work to find them, and this day was no different.

Now, winter boat projects are in order to make next year even better. In the meantime, making new jigs and spoons, arranging a few ice fishing trips and finding some open water to fish are at the top of the priority list. Stay warm if you can, and enjoy the ice fishing season. With these temps, safe ice will be formed before we know it.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Robinson
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

How to Protect Your Curb from Snowplows This Winter

ReStore Reflectors.
This time of year everybody in the Midwest is bracing themselves for a four letter word, s-n-o-w! So, when the temperature drops in these parts, yes snow is inevitable. With snow, homeowners are required by law to maintain our walkways and driveways by shoveling. If you live in the city limits, it's up to your city works department to however plow the streets in your neighborhood. That is where this post comes into play. Year-after-year since moving into our new Elkhorn neighborhood we've been plagued with a problem. Vehicles clearing our roads of snow; unfortunately, during the process of pushing the snow aside--peel back the grass along our curb too.

This post is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) household project, which is based around a repurposed (recycled) item. We want to share with our population-we™ readers that Earth Day should be commemorated every day of the year! For The Brown's: a recycled home project evokes something you already had around the house; were given specifically for repurposing; picked up thrifting or bought at a ReStore. To be classified as population-we™ repurposed project: one- or all- components should be recycled in the project. In this case, this blogger husband and wife team live in an area that receives lots of snow--here's a buy we found to combat our snowplow woes at a local ReStore.

Our neighbor's prepare for snowfall too.
If you're not familiar with this type of store, the concept is to give products a second life. Habitat for Humanity ReStores provide a socially and environmentally responsible way to keep good, reusable materials out of landfills. To learn more about the ReStore we visited, read my post at: Be Green, Shop at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. To alleviate our snowplow problem, we've borrowed a tip from area businesses snow removal playbook. To save their businesses' high-priced manicured lawns, they place reflectors in the parking lots and sidewalks for snow removal. While at the ReStore, we happened upon some reflectors (see picture above), and immediately bought a dozen. And, strategically before the ground froze we placed them along our curb to warn the snowplows too steer clear.

If you live in a neighborhood that has a Homeowners Association (HOA) covenants; you may want to check to see if reflectors are permitted. Our neighborhood has one but no one abides by it. This year, The Brown's are not alone, corner lots around the neighborhood are littered (see picture at left above) with their own reflectors awaiting Nebraska's first snowfall. The only difference between our reflectors, we saved ours from a landfill, by purchasing them off season at a ReStore. Keep repurposing!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Fall Fishing Tips

Though the weather has turned colder now, the fishing action has remained hot. The water temperatures have varied anywhere from 41 to 46 in the areas we’ve been fishing in Nebraska, but the fish have yet to slow down.

At the Tri County canal system, the saugers are gathered in somewhat predictable areas and definitely stocking up for winter. We found them in water from 12 to 30 foot deep. With the water temps down to 41 degrees, it’s safe to say the chilly weather out west brought us some mighty cold water. The fish did not seem to care. Saugers are like walleyes in that sometimes they can be picky about what you can catch them on. But this wasn’t the case for us, which was a nice change of pace. We caught them on jig/plastic combos, slab spoons and blade baits. The most interesting part of our day was that not one walleye was boated. Saugers typically relate to areas with current and are usually found deeper in holes than walleyes, but it was clear they had this area completely taken over.

A variety of crankbaits.
Fall fishing is well known for being a great opportunity to catch trophy fish and this year has been no different. A variety of tactics will work, such as trolling crankbaits, casting crankbaits, even dragging live bait. But a real go-to this time of year is slabbing. Slabbing is using a variety of lead and metal spoons with a vertical jigging presentation to imitate dying bait fish. As these fish fall to the bottom, predators are there to feed on them. The biggest key, as stated before, is to find the fish using your sonar units. Once you’ve done that, the real fun can begin.

Slabbing is a tactic that’s very popular on area reservoirs like Harlan, McConaughy, Johnson, Elwood and Sherman. We have fished a few of these areas and had mixed results. Some days have been outstanding, while others have been a bit of a struggle. Fish locations in the fall do change by the day in some areas, and we’ve even seen them change by the hour. When we have found large pods of predators feeding on shad and alewives, we have done well on numbers of white bass, wipers, smallmouth bass, and walleyes. On the flip side, when the fish are difficult to locate, our success has been far less. To illustrate this point, earlier this week, two of us boated a drum, a crappie, 10 wipers up to 24 inches and well over 50 white bass up to 16 inches. The very next day on the same water, two of us struggled to find three wipers and nine white bass.

Another great way to catch fish in the fall is to fish at night; especially, during periods related to a full moon. Night trolling can be very effective at times. Long lining stick baits such as Rapala Husky Jerks, Original Floating Rapalas, Shallow Shad Raps, Smithwich Rogues and Storm Thundersticks are all great baits to start with. Throwing these same baits from the shore in shallow rocky areas may be an even better tactic to target trophy fish.

Now that we’ve had our first snow of the winter season, the water temps are sure to be near freezing in some areas. I’ve even heard reports of ice starting to form on some lakes. With time off around the upcoming holiday weekend, we hope that some of the weather will allow us to get on the water another day or two, and see if we’re able to put any more fish in the boat before it’s put away for the winter. We’ll see you out there.
(Editor's note: Welcome to our newest pop-we contributor--Brian Robinson! Join Brian as he chronicles his passion for fishing the Midwest waterways of Nebraska. Learn more about Brian at this link.)

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Robinson
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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