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Monday, October 29, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Malara’s Italian Restaurant

Malara's Italian Restaurant in South O.
In a South Omaha neighborhood, there is what appears to be a house but it is not. This seemingly grey house on the corner, except for the Italian multi-colored awning is Malara’s Italian Restaurant hidden away off the main streets. The restaurant is located at 2123 Pierce Street, in an older part of the city. When you walk into Marlara’s there is a little waiting area with a bar. To the left is the hostess stand along with a few benches. There are statues and many pictures along the walls, mostly of family. There was an empty picture frame on the wall, which was reserved for the newest member of the family, who happened to be at the restaurant not even a week old.

This night I thought I would try the Chicken Parmesan that came with a vegetable, pasta and a salad. The chicken was moist and tender. Malara’s uses a sweet marinara. We also had an order of the ravioli’s in which I thoroughly enjoyed. They were crisp and the filling was delicious. I liked my dish and others enjoyed what they had. The staff was friendly and attentive.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Malara’s Italian Restaurant: 4.18 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Chicken Parmesan dinner at Malara's.
Atmosphere/Decor – 4.3

Cleanliness – 4.25

Wait Staff – 4.25

Menu – 3.87

Food Presentation – 3.87

Food Portions – 4.5

Food Taste – 4.25

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.75

Noise Level – 4.25

Overall Experience – 4.5

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.
Malara's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

- population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween with a Heart Haunts

When one thinks of Halloween they usually don't equate it to giving. In the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan area many attractions this year have partnered with local charities. Some Halloween haunts are collecting items for their local food banks and others are donating a portion of their proceeds to a designated charity. Some area nonprofits are even getting into the Halloween spirit by offering spooky attractions. Still looking for that perfect pumpkin? A few area churches are also selling pumpkins this year for what organizers are calling "Pumpkins for a Cause." Proceeds go to missionary work and operating costs for these area churches.

Omaha's Great Pumpkin courtesy of Lutheran Family Services

Here's a list of what a couple population-we™ staffers are calling "Halloween with a Heart." Visit often for updates:

Now through Halloween (Oct. 31):
- Pumpkins for a Cause, First United Methodist Church, 7020 Cass St., Omaha, NE
Pumpkin patch, pony rides, face-painting, music, hayrides, petting zoo, apple cider and food.
Details: Admission $7 per person. Children ages two and younger are free. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31. Bring a canned food item to donate to the Omaha Food Bank and receive 50 cents off admission.
More info: 402.238.2696.

- Big Red Barn and Pumpkin Farm, 132nd Street and Bennington Road, Bennington, NE
The pumpkin patch is open to the public on the front lawn of First United Methodist Church.
Details: For a nominal donation, stop by the patch and pick out your favorite pumpkin. Hours are Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
More info: 402.556.6262

Oct. 2-31:
- Cobweb Castle: The Omaha Children's Museum, 500 S. 20th St., Omaha, NE Open thru Oct. 31
Cobweb Castle, Omaha Children's Museum G-Rated Haunted House, offers a maze of the Ghostly Graveyard, creepy trees in the Find-Your-Way Forest and the castle's Vampire's Batty Bedroom, Pirates Parlor, Kooky Kitchen and Casper's Closet. 
Details: Admission is free with regular museum admission. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
More info:

Oct. 1-31:
- Mystery Manor, 716 N 18th St., Omaha, NE
Mystery Manor one of Omaha's favorite haunts
Mystery Manor, Omaha's oldest haunted house. Built in 1887, it has been widely rumored that the ghost of William Hall still wanders these halls every October waiting for strangers to come so that he might resume his terrible vengeance upon any soul who enters Hall Manor. To this day, the murder of John Martin remains a mystery – hence the name "Mystery Manor." Supports Matt's Dream Foundation.
Details: General admission is $10 and Fast Manor Pass is $20. Every Wednesday is buy one and get one free admission. Dates and times vary check website.
More info:

Oct. 28
- Nebraska Wildlife: Nebraska History Museum, 15th and P Streets, Lincoln, NE 
Make a wildlife mask to use for Halloween 
Details: Admission is free. 2 to 4 p.m.
More info: or 402.471.4754.

Oct. 27
- Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17151 Davenport St., Omaha, NE
Join Lutheran Family Services where hundreds of pumpkins will be carved making up Nebraska’s largest pumpkin display -- Omaha's Great Pumpkin. Each pumpkin will represent a foster care children waiting for a good home in Nebraska. 
Details: Free. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Shining the light” celebration at 7 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 28
- Village Pointe Shopping Center, 17151 Davenport St., Omaha, NE
Children put on your costumes and join us for fun Halloween games, face painting and candy. It’s about safe, friendly Halloween trick or treating at the stores and restaurants of Village Point. Bring along a canned food donation to benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland or a donation of new or gently-used coats to be eligible for a drawing for a $25 Village Pointe Gift Card. All coats will benefit the Omaha Salvation Army.
Details: Free. 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
More info:

Oct. 28
- Annual Enchanted Forest: Hitchcock Nature Center, 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa.
Costumes welcome. Meet one of your favorite “Alice in Wonderland” characters in the forest. After the hike, visitors can enjoy refreshments, apple bobbing, pumpkin painting and carving (while supplies last).
Details: For admission, meet at the Trailhead, near the Loess Hills Lodge. All ages welcome. Admission: $10 per family. 1 to 3 p.m.
More info: Call Tina Popson at 712.545.3283.

Oct. 26-30:
- Boo at the Zoo: Lincoln Children's Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln, NE 
Annual fundraiser for the zoo, offers kid-friendly trick-or-treating. 
Details: Admission is $6 (free for children under 2); $3 extra if you wish to collect treats and $2 for a train ride. 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
More info: Buy tickets in at advance at or 402.475.6741.

Every weekend throughout October:

- Camp Fontanelle, 9677 County Road 3, Fontanelle, NE 68044

Come get lost in a nine-acre giant corn maze, which is in its sixth year of operation. Plan at one-hour in the maze, then stay for other attractions: petting animals, pony rides, lawn games and camp fires to mention a few. Pumpkins available with donations.
Details: 12 years of age and older $6; Kids three to 11 years of age $4. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
More info:

*If we missed your organization we apologize. This an annual list, contact either of the population-we™ Bloggers below this time next year to be included.

So, this Halloween pint size ghouls and goblins will not be the only one's receiving gifts this Halloween season. The gift of giving has infiltrated this hauntingly fun time of the year, which is definitely population-we™ news worth reporting about. Whether you're looking for that perfect pumpkin to carve, a place for date night or to take the kids--why not patronize one of these "Halloween with a Heart" haunts.

- population-we blog post by *Brian Brown and *Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Victim's Account from Benson's Zombie Walk Omaha 2012

Marquee at The Waiting Room.
B-R-A-I-N-S! Could be heard echoing from the streets of Benson on Oct. 13; however, screams did not follow. Downtown Benson was again the site for the fifth annual Zombie Walk Omaha 2012. This year’s charity walk benefited the Siena/Francis House.

Founded in 1975, the Siena/Francis House is an agency who serves thousands of families annually in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan areas. The agency provides a variety of services to protect children, help adults and strengthen families. The shelter provides food to the homeless through its Meal Provider Program, clothing as well as case management outreach services. In an average year, Siena/Francis House will provide more than 20 tons of clothing to persons who are homeless. So, remember next year to bring some spare change for the Siena/Francis House collection buckets.

The charity walk began in 2008. This year, all ages participated in the walk both as spectators and zombies. The zombies were dressed in torn and blood ridden clothes. The streets were not barricaded so -- onlookers and zombies -- were in very close proximity with each other at all times on the sidewalks. Rules of sidewalk etiquette for zombies were outlined on the walk’s website: “SIDEWALKS: Speaking of sidewalks, STAY ON THEM! Don’t run out into traffic. Don’t jaywalk. When crossing at an intersection, let cars through when it’s their turn.”

My 2012 Zombie Walk Omaha horde.
Brian and I strictly wanted to be bystanders. However, inspired by the enthusiasm from other onlookers I of course decided to jump in and participate. A "victim," as outlined on the walk's website, is a non-zombie whose purpose is to be attacked by the zombie horde. Some “victims” like to dress up in military garb and attempt to stop the horde. I was dressed like an ordinary citizen with the exception of my Supernatural shirt. I didn’t duct tape my clothes like the official rules requested. Instead, I wanted to handpick my horde who would turn me into a zombie. It was the torn shirt and hot pink Cindi Lauper leggings that drew me to my zombie horde. That is how I truly remember the 80's Rock 'n' Roll scene (which was this year's theme). I noticed the group across the street and when they got closer politely asked if I could get a picture. Quickly the horde knew -- I was fresh game -- and asked if they could have my brains (picture of my horde is above). So, my very first zombified moment is captured on my iPhone to share with all of my twitter followers. In that moment, the zombie horde welcomed me into the world of the living dead -- all for a good cause. After the brief playful encounter, my new zombie horde only steps away from their final destination continued to the The Waiting Room Lounge and Brian and I made our way down the street.

Once the walk was over, Brian and I found refuge at the BEERCADE. Zombies seemed to be on their best behavior except for when enticed by BEERCADE patrons. At the front we were playing PacMan and a Transformers pin ball machine where on occasion we’d witness a zombie rub their face on the window. I went outside to send a tweet and overheard one of the zombies comment about BEERCADE patrons. She said, “They think they’re safe in there?” Yes, that zombie was still in character; even though the walk had ended.

Fun was had by all. Perhaps next year, Brian & I will get some friends and population-we™ readers together and participate as a zombie horde for this charity walk. Want to learn more about the Zombie Walk Omaha? If so, connect with the carnage at

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Meet Armless Archer and Olympian Matt Stutzman

On Sept. 15 and 16, the Nebraska hills of Ponca State Park was the site of the annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo.

Mission of the annual expo:

• Preserve the future and heritage of natural resources and outdoor recreation.

• Provide families with hands-on opportunities to learn about outdoor skills, ethics, safety, respect and stewardship.

• Celebrate outdoor traditions.

• Provide opportunities to showcase outdoor products, art, tourism and organizations.

For Brian & I it was a working vacation. We volunteered along with our Greater Omaha SCUBA Club to clean up a lake and staff a both. The club's goal, to introduce our outdoor sport to future SCUBA divers at the expo.

The weekend consisted of some firsts. Besides diving in the coldest water – we got to witness the most amazing feat -- World-Record Archer and Olympian Matt Stutzman. Stutzman is not like most archers, he was born without arms.

The Kansas native was born in 1974 without arms. He still gets along like most. “I drive with my feet. Nothing in our house is modified,” he said. “I can adapt, just adapt myself to make it work."

Today, Stutzman lives in Fairfield, Iowa, with his wife and three sons. He has changed all of his boy's diapers with his teeth. With this tidbit of info, he brought humor to his demonstration and poked fun at himself.

He said:

• "I can’t vacuum."

• "Have no fingerprints."

• "I don't wear gloves in the winter. I can be outside two hours longer than everybody else."

Stutzman commented on his prosthetic arms, which he has only wore a couple times. He said: "I brought the most expensive show and tell in my school’s history." He wore his fake arms to class. Someone also once asked his oldest son: “What happened to your dad’s arms?” He responded, “They’re hanging in the garage."

He told all the bright-eyed kids in attendance, he did odd jobs around the farm to pay for his very first bow. Next, he had to figure out how to shoot it with his feet, which everyone in attendance got to witness.

He told the crowd, “I don’t recommend doing this with your feet – I am a trained professional."

Olympian Archer Matt Stutzman at 2012 Missouri River Expo.
The target at the expo was 70 meters, same as the London 2012 Paralympic Games where Stutzman won a silver medal in archery. He shot from a seated position and used his left foot to put the arrow in place. He pushed the bow away with his right foot and pulled the arrow back with a release aid that's strapped to his body. His first attempt was shot with a regular bow and after that a compound bow -- all while using his mouth only to guide the release onto the string.

He is also a Guinness World Record-holder. In 2011, he earned the longest accurate shot with a mark of 230 yards.

A role model to all the kids in attendance, his message to everyone: Don’t give up no matter what's ahead keep going forward.

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Project Pink'd Inc. Exposed Calendar Sales Continue for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Today, Oct. 1, officially marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) around the globe. BCAM is an annual international health campaign organized by breast cancer charities in October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research, prevention, cause, diagnosis, treatment and cure. BCAM also provides a platform for breast cancer charities to raise awareness of their work and of the disease. BCAM is also a prime opportunity to remind women to be breast aware for earlier detection.

Nebraska ranks in the top quarter of the nation for the highest incidents of breast cancer. Iowa doesn't fall far behind Nebraska. Iowa ranks in the 40th percentile. It is estimated that Nebraska will lose 200 women and Iowa will lose an astonishing 380 women this year to breast cancer.

Right here in the heartland there is a local nonprofit who offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. Project Pink'd, Inc. is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the mind, body and spirit of those diagnosed with breast cancer, ultimately focusing on improving their quality of life.

The nonprofit was founded by breast cancer survivor, Cynthia Sturgeon; however, in order for the nonprofit to grow it needed to network and partner with cohorts in the Omaha metropolitan community. To date, a core group of individuals, Project Pink’d, Inc. Board of Directors, is now collectively taking on the nonprofits’ responsibilities and “vision of hope.”

Meet Breast Cancer Survivor Erika Waggener -- Ms. February.
To commemorate BCAM, Project Pink’d, Inc. opens its Project Pink’d, Inc. Exposed: Real Women for a Real Cure calendar sales to population-we™ readers. Wherever you reside in the world you can purchase a calendar or donate a calendar to a breast cancer survivor. Calendar Girls -- local breast cancer survivors, family, friends and significant others bare it all (PG-13) in the calendar. Calendar sales fund breast cancer programs in the Omaha and Council Bluffs communities. So, while supplies last, individuals and groups anywhere can purchase 2012-13 Exposed calendars at

"I feel so passionate about helping inform others about breast cancer and what I have learned through my experience," said Erika Waggener, a Pink'd Calendar Girl and one-year breast cancer survivor.

As this month highlights, early detection is paramount to beating this disease. Waggener (pictured above) also agree and provides a checklist for population-we™ readers:

  • First is that breast cancer is not a death sentence. There have been so many advances and there are still more to come thanks to organizations such as Project Pink’d.

  • Second, (if possible) know your family’s history. After my diagnosis, my sister and I were able to contact a distant cousin through Facebook to find that she had breast cancer for the first time in her early 20’s and she and another of her sisters are Braca1 positive.

  • Third is, know your body. Do your self-breast exams. Knowing how your body looks and feels today will help you notice if it changes tomorrow and then act!

  • Fourth is, get a second opinion! Being told you have cancer is such overwhelming news that you are almost in a daze. If not for my sister in law, I would've gone ahead and did as the first surgeon suggested and my story may have turned out so different.

  • Lastly, cancer does not discriminate. I have met so many women who have no history of cancer in their family. Go to your annual appointments and do your self-breast exams. Until there is a cure "WE" are our best chance for early detection and prevention.

Project Pink’d, Inc. is run entirely by volunteers. The pool of volunteers (including this blogger) comes from breast cancer survivors, co-survivors and community members. You will meet some of our Friends of Project Pink’d -- Calendar Girls and board members -- at our nonprofit’s website. ”

No matter where you hail from, you’re invited to join our Project Pink’d, Inc. movement dedicated to supporting the mind, body and spirit of those diagnosed with breast cancer; ultimately focusing on improving their quality of life. Become a Friend of Pink'd. Find out all of the latest breast cancer news and learn about what the Pink'd staff and volunteers will be doing all year long by becoming connected to Project Pink’d through our official Facebook page. Those who tweet, can follow the We are Pink’d movement @ProjectPinkd.

This BCAM,  as we do everyday, we live by and hold true to our non-profit’s motto: "Support the fighters, honor the taken; and never, ever, ever give up Hope."

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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