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Thursday, November 28, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Council Bluff's Pizza King

We crossed the bridge to royalty this month as foodie Scott claimed Pizza King in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as our population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club's next stop. Since it was established in 1965, the Poulos family have been running the Pizza King. Located at 1101 North Broadway, this place got its name by starting with its namesake, pizza. Over the years they have expanded into steaks and seafood, which has brought them many first place accolades such as: service, bartender, pizza, server and favorite overall restaurant. Today it is still open seven days a week.

When you walk through the front door, before arriving at the host stand, you will pass a banquet room and a door to the bar on the right hand side. They can seat 350 people in the dining room and offer a full service bar. For larger parties there are three large banquet rooms for any occasion. We dined in a banquet room this evening. Looking at the décor, I do not believe it has changed much over the years--with the brass fixtures and large mirrors along the walls.

Tonight I decide on their lasagna. When it came out I was surprised that it was a good thick square. The sauce was a little on the sweet side but I was happy with the overall taste. It also came with a salad and bread. Salad was a little plain, not much too it, also they drowned it in dressing, which I did not care for.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Pizza King a 3.93 star average on a scale of 1-5.
Pizza King Lasagna.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.5

Cleanliness – 3.87

Wait Staff – 4

Menu – 4.12

Food Presentation – 4

Food Portions – 4.25

Food Taste – 4.12

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 4

Noise Level – 3.5

Overall Experience – 4

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

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Pizza King 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.
Pizza King on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Make a Repurposed Thanksgiving Door Decoration

The biggest way to think we before me is to be stewards of our environment. Check! Many family and population-we™ readers already know of The Brown's commitment to be green. Brian and I have both blogged about our earth-friendly efforts since we both became bloggers. Also, every April our blog has dedicated all that month's blog posts to Earth Day, a cause near and dear to our hearts. So, we are recyclers through and through! Now we are embarking on yet another venture featuring our recycling and green lifestyle efforts and welcome our readers to join us!

Watch for articles sprinkled through our posts each month about Do-It-Yourself (DIY) household as well as arts and crafts projects based around repurposed (recycled) items. More importantly, 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 or craft project evokes something you already had around the house; were given specifically for repurposing; picked up thrifting or bought at a restore it store. 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 very first post--a repurposed craft project that will greet our house guests entering The Brown's home this Thanksgiving.

Inspiration for Project:

Recently our 15-year-old rescue dog, Pepper, had a house guest over for a long weekend. Like any good fur-friend, Pepper shared her toys with one-and-a-half-year-old Australian Shepard, Zoey (watch Vine video above or at this link). Unfortunately, one dog toy did not make it. Enter the repurposed idea: I'd been decorating for our upcoming Thanksgiving gathering and didn't have a door decoration yet. So, instead of tossing the dog toy's rope in the trash--see how we recycled it into a Thanksgiving or Autumn Door Decoration.

Repurposed Components:

Rope from broken dog toy.

Over-sized fake leaf.

Other Things You'll Need:

Scissors and Duck Tape.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Take the scissors and cut the rope off of the dog toy.
Step 2: Rip off two small and two larger pieces of duck tape.

After Steps 3 & 4 below.

Step 3: Fasten each small piece of duck tape to the end of the frayed rope.
Step 4: Turn over leaf and fasten the rope to the back with the remaining two large pieces of duck tape.

Finished repurposed craft on the door.

Re-purpose Tip! 

You too can do this yourself. Don't have an over-sized fake leaf? If so, use a real leaf of any size from your yard. No industrial dog strength rope either? No worries Mon, just fasten it to the back with any twine or rope. Wool-ah you have a Thanksgiving Door Decoration, too. Happy Thanksgiving and repurpose DIYing!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Shop Local Buys for Gym and Outdoor Activities This Holiday

Graphic courtesy of American Independent Business Alliance.
Those who have been bitten by the workout bug know the number one accessory is a proper listening set up. I’m a shop local kind of gal. I think my drive to shop local is because I grew up in Benson, Neb. Today the area is more a destination spot with a hub of trendy shops, restaurants and bars. However, during my childhood it was like a small town square with a grocery store, dime store, ice cream shop, florist, jewelry and toy store. All within walking distance, too. My sister reflected on this in her post on Benson Nebraska Celebrates 175 Years. Another need to shop local, as a entrepreneur and business owner, I’m drawn to help my fellow comrades. I belong to the Shop Local Omaha | Omaha Local Independent Business Alliance (OL!BA). population-we™ (pop-we) readers may think that’s odd for a blogger. However, my social media business (population-we, LLC) is local. I reside in Elkhorn (really Omaha) with our food blogger and dog blogger and the majority of the posts detail events happening in our hometown. Currently, all of our pop-we contributors reside in Omaha, too. I’ll talk about OL!BA in a later post. Back to shopping for my workout arsenal!

While on the shopping prowl, I usually research the best buys online and buy local instead. I encourage our readers this November 30th to Shop Small at local shops and merchants as well. Also, under way now through December 20th--Shift Your Shopping--encourages customers in their hometowns to shift his/her spending and buy or go local and shop at independent merchants this holiday shopping season.

Graphic courtesy of American Express.
What follows is how I accessorized my iPhone for my weekly workouts by buying from a local Omaha store.

MDR-AS200 Active Sports Headphones @ Nebraska Furniture Mart (retail $19.99; sale price $17.99) 
When I spotted these pink headphones on the shelf--I bought them on the spot. They are uber comfy, help drown out background noise, and are adorable to be seen in. They also are lightweight and water-resistant (I'm a SCUBA diver, so this is key). I really like the unique loop hanger that fits comfortably over my ear--so I don't have to worry about the ear buds dropping out.

Griffin iPhone Trainer Armband Holder @ Nebraska Furniture Mart (retail $29.95)
You have to be able to strap your iPhone on for that run or brisk walk. So, here’s my favorite accessory: a Griffin Trainer Armband Holder. It works well on the wrist, bicep or tossing in a cup holder. It also sports a plastic screen; giving you the ability to pick music easily, send texts, scroll through emails, and update any social media statuses on your run or walk.

This isn’t necessary a slam against this product but a buyer beware tip.

Consumer Tip and Buyer Beware
When I workout at home I sometimes do dictation. I’m a blogger and soon to be author; unfortunately, when I purchased my most recent iPhone I had a mishap and lost hours of my dictations and interviews. So, sickened by this fact, I decided to invest in a separate digital recorder. I was in the market for a digital recorder and number one on the list was the price point. After researching online, I found that Wal-Mart not Nebraska Furniture Mart had the best price in town. I spoke to the Walmart associate and with his assistance decided on the Olympus DP-201 Voice Recorder, Silver (paid retail $23). I got it home and instantly noticed something was wrong. At first glance the package looked like it had been tampered with. Sure enough, I opened the back of the recorder and to my dismay noticed the batteries had exploded. I didn’t just get duped on this buy, but Walmart did too. It was obviously a return! That being the fact--it should’ve been in the clearance section--not back on the shelf with the rest of the brand new recorders. This whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

Instead, of getting in-store credit at Walmart, I took my money and went to Nebraska Furniture Mart. At "The Mart," as us locals call it, I happened upon an Olympus WS-801 Voice Recorder (retail $119/clearance rack $21) and we’ve been together ever since. I don’t know how I got by without having this in my writing arsenal. It is super compact, easy to use, has oodles of storage (2GB), a built in USB plug in, battery rechargeable capability, and even has a radio function.

In the end, there is a happy ending for this blogger; however, electronics buyer beware--check your packaging for tampering. And, most importantly--support your hometown business and Shift Your Shopping to a local business this holiday season!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Step-by-Step Ways to Work From Home No Matter Your Craft

Still looking for that dream job? Why not consider another option that is right under your fingertips. Whether you’re a blogger or a crafter, both careers have one thing in common; each job can be done from home. However, before you make that decision to branch out on your own there are some first steps to consider. These steps might include how to get started, stay motivated and find a job or a buyer for your craft. No matter your profession, jobs from home are out there -- just follow the steps below to get started.

Understand Your Craft
Before getting started do some research on your craft.
a) Attend a workshop.
b) Read a book.
c) Talk to others who are already working in that field.

Setting Up Shop
Your mind is made up -- you’re really going to do this -- so now it’s time to set up a designated workspace at home.
a) Home dwellers: pick a room away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house.
b) Apartment or dorm residents: pick a space that provides the most light and area with enough room to spread out.

Proper Tools 
In order to be successful at your new job you have to have the right tools. Tools will vary on your craft; however, there a couple that should be in every at work from home arsenal.
a) Computer
b) Printer
c) Internet Connection
d) Telephone
e) File cabinet

Who You Are Matters 
Be real. You are the face behind your chosen craft, so put your best face forward in every social situation. A sell or job can be found at anytime or anywhere.

Contact Info is Crucial 
Make it as easy as possible for anyone to get a hold of you. Provide contact information over various means of communication.
a) Telephone
b) Email
c) Skype
d) Address

Elevator Pitch 
You’re in business for yourself now. Be prepared to tell anyone at a moment’s notice about your new at home job. The pitch can vary from medium-to-medium.

Sell, Sell, Sell
No matter your craft there are several ways to quickly start drumming up business. They are:
a) Business Cards
b) Email
c) Classified Ads
d) Craigslist
e) Social Networks
f) Word-of-Mouth

You Must Social Network 
It’s free! The only way to be successful without breaking the bank is to promote your services via social networks.
a) Facebook
b) Twitter
c) Blogging Platform (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr) 
d) LinkedIn
e) Pinterest
f) Google+

Be Patient
Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft overnight; so allow yourself some time to build momentum.

Routine Home Work 
The only way to stay motivated with a home job is to make your work a daily habit.

Today the entrepreneurial spirit is alive more than ever. As discussed, with the advent of social networking, a working from home job is even easier and less costly to obtain. Consider any of these easy to follow actions steps to welcome home your first sale or get your very first paid job from home. In the end, be your own boss and land that dream job without leaving home.

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Alan Sitomer Discusses National Novel Writing Month & His Writer's Success Academy

Alan Sitomer.
While reading Alan Sitomer’s posts, you may feel like he gets you. Granted he may have never met you, but he knows how you think. He knows that as a writer that you are constantly writing in your head and looking at your everyday encounters whether they are ordinary or absurd as potential fodder to tighten up a story or to heighten the tension in a plot.

I was introduced to Sitomer when he was a guest author at YA Reads for Teachers (and Other Adults!), which is a goodreads group for teachers, librarians, media specialist and other adults where they discuss books and also network for professional development.

Sitomer has written books for young children, middle school age youth, young adults, and adults. His style can be pretty funny and I am told downright gritty at times. I don’t think you have to be a genuine nerdish type to identify with and cheer on the nerds in his books. Of course, it helps to connect with your inner nerd persona when you read and compare notes as you travel down your personal memory lane. Some of his books are set in the hip hop culture or high crime neighborhoods. They are popular reads for youth with similar backgrounds while appealing to a wider audience.

This resident population-we™ (pop-we) poet very much likes that Sitomer makes hip hop poetry accessible to youth and has co-authored a book comparing poetry to the classics. Closer to home in the
Midwest, the Nebraska Writer's Collective (NWC), is involved in the cause of promoting poetry to youth. To learn more about NWC's effort, read the pop-we article on Nebraska Writers Collective Brings Poetry to Midwestern Youth.

I started following Sitomer on facebook because he actively promotes literacy. He had a status hinting about something big that was about to happen that piqued my interest. I was delighted to see him roll out

Since I write nonfiction, I appreciate that there will be a section under that heading. I also love to read about the process of writing whether it is fiction or nonfiction. launched just in time to provide support for those participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where a 50,000 word draft of a novel is completed between November 1 and November 30th. It doesn't cost to participate and entries are accepted from around the world at the official NaNoWriMo web site.  

It's National Novel Writing Month!
This event encourages people to start writing without stressing during the draft about sentence structure with online community and support.

Sitomer has been published by Disney, Scholastic, Penguin & Mattel. He was California Teacher of the Year, 2007. He has also written educational materials for Triumph Learning to help increase comprehension among students.

Sitomer answered questions that I sent him following one of his speaking events. The Q-and-A (Q&A) is below. Anyone with additional questions related to writing may submit them at the Q&A section at

Q: You launched the web site for Writer's Success Academy just in time for NaNoWriMo. As I compose my questions, it is still late October and I see that you are already providing writing preparation advice for the month long challenge and it looks like you will be there for them for the duration of November giving tips and moral support. Do you have any advice you would like to share with the pop-we readers to help them as they participate in NaNoWriMo now or in future years?

A: Writing a novel is a physical, emotional and spiritual journey. The fact is, when I was first "breaking in", the support was limited in that there were not resources like the Internet available. And so, I had to cobble my education together as I went over the course of years and years. I launched as a free resources to help others cause I have been there. From advice on craft to getting an agent to managing publicity and so on, this is meant to be a living, breathing resource where writers can turn for thoughtful, valuable materials... at no charge.

Q: I read your book "A Catastrophe of Nerdish Proportions (Nerd Girls 2)."  There was a lot of humor in the book and some exaggerated characters. Yet, there were also very tender moments that were believable. Do you have advice for balancing humor and the serious in the same book? Do you have advice for tackling serious topics in a sensitive way?

A: I think all my books feature underdogs who tackle their own inner struggles in a way that often mixes comedy with deep drama, fear with confidence, terror with courage and so on. Emotionally, I write like this because I feel as readers - as people - we live like this. A doesn't always lead to B, sometimes good things land in our laps and we feel bad when we get them and other times we discover we are stronger than we originally might have suspected. In NERD GIRLS, well... those kids have tons of heart and as a writer, I am very proud of the book because the characters really display a deep sense of character.

Q: Do you have any advice for those who want to promote literacy among youth?

A: Please, please, please make this effort. Whether it's something as simple as reading to your own kids (or cousins or nieces and nephews) or perhaps buying a book as a holiday gift for a youngster - they really do make AWESOME gifts... it's not too hard to help fight the good fight on this front if you set an intention to do so. Literacy is everywhere and it is so, so important for young people to have keen skills in this area of their life.

Q: What are some of the services that you and other professional writers will be providing for authors and teachers at the Writer's Success Academy?

A: At, we're not looking to sell anything right now. We're looking to give back. So in that way, we're not constrained by having to "go after targets" or anything like that. We are simply going to grow, grow, grow and add, add, add material for a long, long time. That's why we created an email list. People should sign up to have good quality stuff arrive in their box without feeling like the wool is going to be pulled over their eyes in terms of us trying to conflate commerce with contribution. At some point the model might change and we might offer services for sale but for the foreseeable future, we're all about inspiring, encouraging and helping others.

It is good to see that Sitomer has not forgotten what it is like to be a beginning writer. He knows how many revisions may be made and rejection letters may be received before a writer receives even a modicum of validation. Although the act of writing is solitary, he and the other professional writers at are there to offer their expertise and much needed moral support along the way.

Other sources:
- Wikipedia: National Novel Writing Month
- USA Today: It's NaNoWriMo time! Pledge to write a novel in a month

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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