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Monday, January 30, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews 7M Grill

7M's modern decor illuminates the room.
You have seen the little monkeys: hear no evil…see no evil…speak no evil. There is nothing evil about 7M Grill, formerly 7 Monkeys. Located in a strip mall at 15805 West Maple Road in Omaha, NE. This eatery has a funky décor with original artwork and one wall that has a wavy design to complement its contemporary style. 7M has a few of your regular finds: daily specials, happy hour and reverse happy. But then they have a few things you don’t see every day such as a Chef's Table that you can reserve to seat six to 10 people and every Sunday is Mothers Day. Every Sunday all day long you can treat mom to a mimosa and complimentary entree. Also, Wednesday nights is half price wine, in which 7M offers wines from all over the world to choose from: New Zealand, Italy and Argentina, to name a few.

Caribbean chicken at 7M.
population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club member Becky had the choice this month. We had all 12 members of the dinner club this night -- so she made sure to call ahead. To the left of the bar area there is a little room, which they put us in to accommodate our large party. I decided to try the Caribbean chicken. The coconut chicken was lightly breaded served over rice with a mango jalapeno sauce and a curried banana. It was very scrumptious.

What other members said: Sue stated that it was a good choice and a nice place. Marv said about the spicy shrimp, “wonderful dinner with a nice strong spice.” Rick commented that he would definitely recommend and return. 

According to their website, 7M recently won the following awards:
  • Winner, Best Appetizer, Taste of West Omaha 
  • Third place, Battle of the Soups 2011 
  • Omaha Diner’s Choice Winner, Open Table Diner’s Choice 2011

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives 7M Grill: 4.23 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 4.4

Cleanliness – 4.5

Wait Staff  –  4.4

Menu  –  4

Food Presentation – 4.3 

Food Portions – 4.25

Food Taste – 4.6

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.5

Noise Level – 3.75

Overall Experience – 4.33

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you’ve been to the 7M Grill 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.
7M Grill on Urbanspoon
-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Step 2: Fitness Guru JB Bowen Guides Us through Our First-ever Boot Camp

The sixth stop on Urban Active’s (UA) Fitness Guru Josh “JB” Bowen’s 10-city "Get Active" tour found him in Omaha, Nebraska. This is where Brian & I met JB, director of Quality Control for all U.S. gyms, and attended our first-ever boot camp. It was standing room only in Omaha's UA Group Exercise Room, where participants met up. As we looked around all types of fitness levels were represented: Extreme runners, body builders, jocks and weekend warriors. That’s the thing we like about this gym – no intimidation – all fitness levels are welcome.

“The purpose of this is Men’s Health came out with 100 Top Sedentary Cities in the nation. My hometown Lexington [Kentucky] is number one. For a guy like me that kind of pissed me off," Bowen said. "Omaha was on the list, too. So, I decided to go on this ‘Get Active’ tour and go to each of the cities we had clubs in and do a boot camp as well as start a blog about fitness."

Becky, JB and Brian at Omaha's UA Get Active Challenge.
The Omaha UA boot camp was intense but Brian & I learned a couple new techniques to use for our workout arsenal. JB led us in group exercises to start. Walking forward and backward, we did warm up knee lifts and goose steps. Next JB broke us off into three work-out groups led by designated UA trainers, which he called "Team Captains." Brian and I were in group number three.

"January comes everyone is excited about getting into shape -- what happens after that? They fall off, right," he said. "Well, I want to make sure everyone in this room stays on track and gets where they want to be. So, we started with this boot camp, which was a hell of a boot camp."

  • Workout session one: Kettlebells. There weren't enough kettlebells so some up of us (like Brian & I) grabbed free weights. We did a kettle bell routine with squats. Swinging motion + squat; raise to chin + squat; and planks (frozen stationary push up while resting on elbows).

  • Workout session two: Squats. By far this was my least favorite session. Mainly, because I don’t have the best of knees. Tip to those in my same boat: make sure to wear a neoprene for boot camps. We did varied level of squats, push ups and side-steps. The side-step workout, I’d equate to the Napoleon Dynamite dance. At one point during the side-step I started snapping my fingers and channeling the character.

  • Workout session three: Kickboxing. By far this was my favorite session. We punched the bags for 40 counts, did burpees (from standing position walk to push up, do push up and back up) and ran a lap. Came back kicked 15 counts on each leg, laying on our backs did core leg lifts and ran a lap.

To end the boot camp, everyone convened back in the Group Exercise Room. In two lines we sat with legs in air and passed a medicine ball up and down the line. Next, we broke into three lines and held a stationary push up position while arm-to-arm. Similar to a real military boot camp, we crawled underneath each other (looked like a the human chain) and continued down the line while cheering the next person on. I'm pretty sure the entire gym could hear us cheering during this group exercise. It was truly a blast and great note to end on.

To keep participants motivated JB encouraged everyone in attendance to follow his blog and also blog themselves.

"Every day I write a daily blog that you can find at What we are encouraging everyone to do is start blogging themselves. Blogging about their fitness experiences; whether, their small or large it doesn’t matter," he said. "We’re encourageing others to write about their own fitness experience. It’s free and might be motivating to people who may find the blog. Our goal is to develop a community of people who are motivated about fitness."

By no means was this easy. I had to modify the squats exercise session a bit. Brian had some sinus issues flare up and started feeling ill. However, we both worked through our setbacks and finished the boot camp together. At our last session, instead of running the lap we walked it briskly. Brian jokedly said as we were bringing up the rear of our group: “It’s not about where you finish but that you finished.”

At the very end, JB called us all together at the center of the room and we put our arms together and cheered: 'Get Active.'

“We started in Charlotte last Saturday, we went to Pittsburgh, we went to Cleveland and Cincinnati...and now we're in Omaha. This is the best group that we’ve had!" He enthusiastically said, "We’re a team. Start as a team, finish as a team. Let’s get a big pile of hands in here and say -- 'G-E-T A-C-T-I-V-E' -- on three!"

After meeting JB and the other Urban Active trainers we feel energized and motivated. With this UA “Get Active Challenge,” Brian & I both feel like we've turned a real corner in our journey to become the more fit people we know we can be. Step 2, survived our first-ever boot camp and consumed Ibuprofen.
(Editor's note: This is the second in a series of blog posts about UA's Get Active Challenge)
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Omaha Students Honor MLK Day With Day of Service & Celebration

What will you do on MLK Day? To commemorate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Monday, Jan. 16) people from around the globe will come together to remember the man and his dream. Omaha, Nebraska, is no different. Several local universities, area high school students and community volunteers will once again celebrate MLK’s birthday with a day of community service and awards ceremony.

Students and volunteers from around the Metro and surrounding areas will gather at Omaha North High School, 4410 N 36th St., to remember the civil rights leader by participating in community service projects. The day’s events are organized by University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Student-Community Leadership and Service (SCLS).

“We see it as a day on,” said Kathe Oleson Lyons, director of SCLS. “Not a day off.”

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating that instead of a day off from work or school the Dr. King holiday will serve as a national day of volunteer service. With this objective Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action during their “day off.” The MLK Day of Service breaks down barriers that have divided individuals in the past and brings together people who might not ordinarily meet.

The 2012 UNO led event will feature an educational program and reflection on the importance of MLK's legacy along with the following community outreach projects in Omaha and Council Bluffs:

- Participants will make fleece blankets for Project Harmony, a non-profit child advocacy center in Omaha whose mission is to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect.

- Participants will create educational materials for Conservation Fusion to assist children in Madagascar. Conservation Fusion is an Omaha-based non-profit organization that engages communities in education on local and global conservation challenges and worldwide sustainability.

- Participants will fill pantry boxes for Food Bank for the Heartland, founded in 1981, is an organization whose mission is to eliminate hunger in Nebraska and western Iowa through community collaboration.

- Participants will help build homes in Council Bluffs alongside Habitat for Humanity, an international organization dedicated to building homes for people in need, regardless of race or religion.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. inside North High School with volunteer efforts concluding at 1:30 p.m. Visit or for more information.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Celebration at Creighton

On Jan. 16, Creighton University will be the site for the "Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration." The community is invited to attend the free celebration, which will include remarks by Creighton President, Timothy R. Lannon; a presentation of community and student awards; and recognition of a university-sponsored elementary school poster and essay contest.

Award presentations will include the President's Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award to Beth Katz, founder and executive director of Project Interfaith, and Willie Barney, president and facilitator of the Empowerment Network.

Katz, a 2000 Creighton graduate, recipient of the 2008 Alumni Merit Award and an adjunct professor, created Project Interfaith as a non-profit organization that would help create a world in which people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures are valued, included and protected. 

Led by Barney, Omaha’s Empowerment Network, is a group of leaders, residents and organizations who work together to facilitate positive, measurable and dramatic change in the north Omaha community. 

Other awards include Student Leadership Awards, presented to Creighton students who put into practice the ideals of Dr. King, and campus awards for diversity excellence and innovation.  All will be honored at 4 p.m., in Creighton's Mike and Josie Harper Center for Student Life and Learning, Hixson-Lied Auditorium, 602 N. 20th St.

For a week-long series of MLK events hosted by Creighton, visit this link.

Whether you are off work on the 16th or not, take time to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who dreamt of equality for all and his vision was not just for African-Americans but for all Americans.
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Step 1: pop-we New Year, New Us!

Becky & Brian 2001
Where I am right now is not a place I am familiar with – overweight. I get glimpses of my skinny self once in a while; however, it's not in the mirror it is through past photographs. I looked so happy and most of all healthy.

In high school I lettered in a myriad of sports. And, in college played intramural sports and was a gym rat with my boyfriend, fiancé and now husband, Brian. My weight gain was brought on by I must admit unhealthy life-style choices, but also by a medical condition that I will blog about at a later date. I've overcome health challenges before. While only 9 years-old I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD). Told to not pursue sports but did anyway. More than 20 some years later, I found myself in an orthopedics doctor's office looking at my films. He told me my knees were not built for athletics.

At age 40, a PR professional during the day and blogger at night, I find myself in two sedentary day & night jobs. It is just harder to lose the weight these days. I know other population-we™ readers can relate. This is not just my journey but our journey.

Like with any journey you have to put one foot in front of the other before you get to your final destination. Our final destination, "our healthier selves." So, first step, we joined a gym - Urban Active Fitness - that has energized us. Urban Active is committed to improving the fitness lifestyles within the communities where they operate. Brian and I have witnessed this first-hand.

"To prove we’re serious about getting results, we [UA] have launched the 'Get Active Challenge.' It is open to members and non-members who are ready to make the commitment to be fit and share their personal stories to help motivate others," said Kiel Wolf, general manager of Omaha's Urban Active Fitness.

Myself and husband of 17 years, Brian, have both committed to make this weight loss journey together. Brian also lettered in high school and was active in college. Years later after leaving the telecommunications industry, Brian also has found himself in a sedentary desk job. By no means are we both couch potatoes. We played in two volleyball leagues last fall, walk daily and enjoy hiking. Obviously, we both need to step up our game.

"Working together, we can inspire more of our neighbors to live healthy, happy and fit lives," Wolf said. "Whether you choose to workout with us in one of our clubs or at home, the most important thing is that you work out."

Brian & Becky 2011
Join us (Brian and I) as we account our steps to finding our former leaner selves. But Brian and I do not want to go on this journey alone; we invite other population-we™ readers to commit to this challenge, which is open to non-Urban Active Fitness members, too. Non-members who decide to participate, can receive a 14-day pass to the UA or can follow along at home.

To motivate challengers Omaha's UA location, 14651 Sprague Street, will host an hour-long kick off event on Saturday, Jan. 14. From 9 to 10 a.m., Quality Control Director and Head Trainer for Urban Active Fitness, Josh "JB" Bowen, will be in attendance to motivate and lead activities at the free "New Year, New You Boot Camp." Omaha is one of Bowen's stops on the challenge's 10-city tour.

Men’s Health Magazine ranked the "most and least active cities in America." On this list, Omaha ranked No. 84, which earned the city a "F" rating and place on Men's Health Magazine's Top 20 most sedentary cities in all of U.S. "Omahans, don't take this sitting down take the 'Get active Challenge,'" Wolf said.

Hopefully, we too can inspire some former jocks (which Brian & I are) or novice athletes to get back in shape.

Blog with us! Take the "Get Active Challenge" and share your workout to help motivate others in their fitness quest this new year. It’s free to set up. Gift cards to the Texas Roadhouse will also be given to the first 80 participants (eight per city) who sign up for the the challenge and does a blog post at Here are the details on where you too can join the fitness challenge at

No matter where you are -- if you're up for it -- commit to take the Urban Active's "Get Active Challenge."

Next step for The Brown's team, game on.
(Editor's note: This is the first in a series of blog posts about UA's Get Active Challenge)
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club 2011 Year In Review

The Matt earned No. 1 Spot in first-ever pop-we Year In Review
With the stroke of midnight population-we™ (pop-we) celebrates its first year in business. To commemorate the occasion fellow foodies as well as close friends and family gathered around as our first pop-we Dinner Club restaurants of 2011 rankings were unveiled. The list is a culmination of reviews cast by pop-we Dinner Club members in 2011. Throughout the year the dinner club visited various establishments in the Omaha Metropolitan area. Each month a member picked a restaurant to visit. The dinner club did put on some miles in 2011 and traveled beyond Omaha to South Bend, Valley, Elkhorn and Waterloo Nebraska. Here’s our 1-11 ranking with No. 1 being the highest:

#1:  The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill
"The Matt" near CenturyLink. The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill offers fresh seafood in a rustic brick building. Tip: Sit outside for a true downtown experience. Earned 5.65 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#2:  Omaha Press Club Restaurant 
Enjoy fine dining 22 floors up. At the Omaha Press Club (OPC) Restaurant eat a gourmet meal from a high-rise view while overlooking Omaha's downtown skyline. Tip: Eat a signature OPC Thunderbird salad. Earned 4.16 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#3:  Shucks
It's Absolutely Fresh Seafood! Where to find the freshest seafood in the heart of beef nation -- Shucks. Dine in or buy and cook at home. Tip: Try happy hour; especially, the oyster in half shell specials. Earned 4.08 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#4:  Agave 
Mexican restaurant in the heart of Dundee. Agave offers Mexican cuisine with authentic tomato, jalapeno and habanero pepper-based sauces. Tip: Order off Joe’s menu section for free chips and salsa. Earned 4.1 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#5:  Carrabba's Italian Grill 
Taste of Sicily. There are more than 200 Carrabba's nationwide. This "Under the Nebraska Sun" location doesn't feel like chain with its savory food & Tuscan look. Tip: Remember to try the free olive oil, herb mixture & warm bread. Earned 4.03 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

Firecracker shrimp at The Matt
#6:  Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery 
Taps available at select tables. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery is a microbrewery with a great menu in Downtown Omaha. Tip: Order the carrot cake for dessert. Earned star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#7:  Round the Bend Steakhouse
No one ever makes it to dessert at Round the Bend Steakhouse. It is a true Nebraska Steakhouse that serves enormous portions of meat without the frills. Tip: Try the beef or turkey fries (testicles). Earned 3.9 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#8:  Tussy's Casual Grill
Eclectic menu. Tussy's Casual Grill offers true foodies a dining experience in its small eatery. It's a grill with a touch of fine dining. Tip: If you have a chance, try Tussy's Sunday brunch buffet. Earned 3.84 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#9:  Texas Roadhouse 
This place is always busy! The Texas Roadhouse has more than 340 locations in 46 states. Though a chain it is still a steakhouse favorite for Nebraska beef eaters. Tip: They serve free peanuts while you wait. Earned 3.8 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#10:  Fire Barn Sports Bar & Grill
Pays tribute to firefighters. Fire Barn Sports Bar & Grill menu is mainly bar food but does offer some down home cooking. Tip: Order fried chicken, which takes 25-30 minutes, but is well worth the wait. Earned 3.7 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#11:  Outer Limits Bar & Grill
Sports bar located in small town Americana. Outer Limits Bar & Grill proves you can find good food & have fun with good friends in the most unlikely places. Tip: Play horseshoes. Earned 3 star average on a scale of 1-5. Read more.

Thanks for reading pop-we Dinner Club's year-in review. If you want to do this yourself? To learn how to start your own dinner club, visit last January's 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.

Best wishes for a new year full of great food, health and happiness from all of us at population-we™.
-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown & Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC 
If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to leave a comment or 'Like' it.