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Monday, March 30, 2015

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Our Place In Arlington

Our Place Catfish Dinner.
This month foodies in population-we™ (pop-we) Dinner Club traveled to a Nebraska town with a population of 1,243 called, Arlington. Our stop for this road trip was Our Place Restaurant & Lounge, located at 243 N 3rd St. in Arlington. It was Scott's pick and in the email unveiling the location he described it as: "Great little place to gather and have some great food."

Signs were posted throughout stating: "Open Sundays Now" that would explain why we practically had the place to ourselves. Our waitress who waited on our party of 14 entirely by herself gave us the choice or eating in the lounge (bar) or restaurant side. The bar side was dark and completely empty except for a very opinionated local sitting at the bar; however, the restaurant side was bright and looked liked it was recently remodeled. We let Scott make the call and he picked the restaurant side.

This evening, Our Place had a variety of dinner options steak, prime rib, fish and sandwiches; all which our foodies ate. I decided on the Catfish Dinner. The catfish was tasty as well as seasoned and fried to perfection. My two sides; green beans and hash browns--could have been larger though and the dinner roll was stale. A final note, they don't serve dessert. Overall, we had a good time and meal and will be back.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Our Place: 3.9 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Atmosphere/Decor – 3.20
Our Place in Arlington.

Cleanliness – 3.40

Wait Staff – 3.20

Menu – 3.20

Food Presentation – 3.20

Food Portions – 3.7

Food Taste – 3.40

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.40

Noise Level – 3.30

Overall Experience – 3.40

For more information regarding directions or a menu, google maps took us right to the door step; however, there's no menu online so you'll just have to take our word for it that the food is good.

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Our Place 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.

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, March 23, 2015

pop-we Reviews Alyssa Auch's Inito

I am optimistic that imagination is alive and well in The Digital Age. I have seen it in the rising generations who have viewed computer screens and other media since they were babies. Of course, one of the most abundant sources of a vivid imagination is a fantasy writer. I am excited to share an interview with Alyssa Auch, a fantasy writer who majored in Marriage and Family Relations in college. She gives tips on tapping into our imaginations.

Auch sent messages to many of her google+ followers including myself in the days leading up to the release of her fantasy book, Inito. Finally, she gave us access to a substantive sample of her book so we could know that she had real talent. When the timing was right, I bought my own copy. I admire her ability to create a magical world. She shares her insights in the interview below:

Q. Why do you think it is important for youth to read fantasy or magical books?

A. I think the imagination is one of the most powerful gateway tools for finding a real life passion. When your imagination is free to roam, it goes in all kind of places. And the more that young people read, the more they discover. The more they discover, the more they realize that there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be obtained. Once a person realizes that, I fully believe that they then obtain a passion to learn, explore, and innovate. So I feel very passionate about not only writing books that are entertaining, but pique the interest of young people; I want them to think, "I wonder if we still use herbs for medicine today," and then they will research that and maybe find an interest in alternative medicine, for example. Some incredible things come from the cultivation of imagination.

Q. A lot of adults love fantasy books aimed at a younger audience too. Do you have any feelings about this?

A. I don't find it terribly surprising that this is the case. What's more exciting than the discovery of life that a youth faces? These young adult books are usually about the realization of dreams, goals, and knowledge. It's a thrilling time for everyone, and even if we adults are past that point of self-discovery, we can still very much remember the intense emotions that went along with it. Also, when you read about a young character coming to an epiphany sometimes that sparks a realization of our own, no matter how old we are. For me, I am in love with watching people fall in love. It's so emotional and fun to experience! Books are a great way for everyone to enjoy those struggles and triumphs.

Q. Are there any authors or works of literature that have really influenced you?

A. Many! But I would say as a young reader, Lloyd Alexander was the most influential author to me. His books inspired me in a very direct way to begin writing fantasy. From there, my talent grew, but his stories were the beginning.

Q. At your blog, you have credited your mom with helping to develop your imagination. What are some ways that parents and caregivers can encourage children to cultivate and use their imaginations?

A. Great question! My mom is an incredibly imaginative, artistic person. She set boundaries for us of course, but the imagination was not one of them. She read to us constantly. She even made up stories at bedtime: I remember one in particular was a series that she called The Ten Kingdoms. She would tell a story about a different kingdom every night, and it was so brilliant and original, how could that not have rubbed off on me a little bit? I think I saw that she could create worlds like that on the spot, and so I thought, "Well heck, if she can do it, why can't I?" So I did! Also, as a mother, she was very adamant that we play outside or read books. I'm grateful to her for that because if I wasn't creating stories through play, I was reading them in literature. What better way to nurture a writer?

Q. Are you familiar with the benefits of children playing with their parents for a half-hour for more in a manner that is child initiated? Can you give any examples of this type of play?

A. As a graduate with a degree in Marriage and Family Relations, I'm actually very familiar with this! And it has merit. Children have incredible imaginations. So vast, diverse, and fantastical that the only boundaries are the ones we set in place. So when a parent takes the time to not only play with their child, but allow the child to dictate the rules, both parent and child benefit. The parent learns what's inside their little kiddo's brain, and the child learns that their thoughts are valued. Their imaginings are not strange, but wonderful. When they believe that the stories they have come up with are cherished by the person they look up to the most, they will keep using that in all aspects of life moving forward. The endless opportunities that arise from that are magnificent! My husband is better at this than I am. Every night after dinner, he gets down the floor for a good romp with the kids. Sometimes the children demand that they build a castle, and other times it’s a space ship. Whatever their preference, he is game, and I love that about him. I'm less physical about playing with them, but one of my favorite things to do is let them put on a play for me. I sit on the couch, and each of them gets to sing, dance, tell a story, or whatever they come up with. Some of the things they do are hilarious and so unique! One of my favorites was a "magic show" they did out of the blue. It put us all in stitches.

Q. Would you kindly define Inito for the reader?

A. Inito is the continuation of the story of Wynn, the only witch born in her kingdom in 100 years. And although she survived her fate to be killed and used by her fierce counterpart the warlock, her last spell had a terrible side effect. She created something unnatural. Pure darkness, and malice without thought, it begins to inhale the essence of every magical being it can find. Wynn must find this thing she has created, or she might doom her kingdom to a fate worse than the one she stopped.

Q. I find it amazing that a fictional character can have a type of life in the mind multiple readers or viewers. What is it like for you to develop fictional characters and give them attributes and in some cases magical gifts? Do the characters become more real to you as you write?

A. Developing the characters is the most fun part of writing a book! Usually they are born as most people are--with a past. And then as is natural, they begin to evolve and shape themselves based on the past they were born from. With Wynn, she was feared. Cast off by her parents, and living in fear of the warlock who might one day find her, Wynn was formed out of some of the most basic and raw human emotions we can ever experience. And because of that, I felt very connected to her. I love Wynn dearly, and I feel for her, especially because of how difficult it is for her to have the emotions I feel on a regular basis. I often get asked if I write characters who are like me, but not really. Wynn is a creation of the events surrounding her. As are we all!

Q. Can you tell us about some of your other published works and any books that you are working on now?

A. The other published work I have written is Lunula, which is the first book in the Irador series, chronicling the adventures of Wynn and Gethin. I am always working on new things! But lately, with three children, it seems I have less and less time to do it. Right now I am working on a third book for the Irador series, a historical romance, and...a secret project ;) I can't tell you what that one is about, but it's a good one!

The tag line for Auch’s blog, Auchward, is "embracing the geeky side of writing." If her writings are considered geeky, then it is a mighty fine thing to be geeky.

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Irish Brown Bread Recipe

There's an Irish Proverb that states: Laughter is brightest where food is best. Growing up food was always center stage at all of the Bohan family gatherings. So, I guess being a foodie is in our genes. A couple years back, The Bohan clan had a family reunion in Ireland. Yes, you guessed it--I'm Irish! I didn't attend, but my Grandpa Bohan did and can remember him commenting on the bread. Recently one of my relatives shared this Irish Brown Bread recipe on her Facebook page. "This is a delicious brown bread closest to what we ate while in Ireland. It isn't Irish soda bread, which has a completely different taste and texture. We LOVE this recipe!" So, with St. Patrick's Day this week I decided to gift this recipe to our population-we™ readers.

Bohan Irish Brown Bread Recipe 
Irish Brown Bread.

READY IN 1½ hrs

Original recipe makes 1 loaf
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon milk, or more as needed (optional)

20 minutes

40 minutes

1 hour 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture forms fine crumbs.

Stir whole-wheat flour and quick-cooking oatmeal into the butter mixture.

Gently stir yogurt into the oatmeal mixture. If mixture is too dry to hold together, add one teaspoon milk at a time, just until dough holds together; it should not be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead gently about five times to form a ball.

Place the dough in the center of the prepared baking sheet; cut a large 'X' in the top of the loaf.

Bake in preheated oven until well browned, about 40 minutes; transfer to a rack to cool. Bread can be served warm or cold.

Overall, nothing makes the house smell better than the aroma of fresh baked bread. Well, actually the only thing that can beat the welcoming smell is the taste. I hope you enjoy this St. Patrick's Day bread recipe from The Bohan Family. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, March 9, 2015

I Heart Celebrity Causes Highlights Maria Menounos' Take Action Hollywood!

As a society we like our celebrities and tend to support the causes they endorse with this status. Our celebrities are those that entertain and inspire us such as those that act in the movies, on television and the stage, our favorite musicians, athletes from our favorite teams or provide national pride representing at the Olympics, the authors of our favorite literary works and those that provide contributions in the world of art. Each month in this population-we™ (pop-we) series, I Heart Celebrity Causes, a celebrity will be chosen and the cause that they promote will be looked at.
I Heart Celebrity Causes!

This month in the ninth installment of I Heart Celebrity Causes the focus is on Maria Menounos and Take Action Hollywood!  Menounos has been in the public eye for years as correspondent and host on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra and E! News. She has also written a series of books to help empower people to a healthy lifestyle. For a few years she also made the jump from lifelong fan to participant as she wrestled in the WWE.

Menounos founded Take Action Hollywood! in 2002 after a trip to South Africa where she witnessed the devastation of AIDS on the people there. The mission is to raise awareness about social issues by utilizing the entertainment industry. Menounos and co-founder Keven Undergaro self initiated many of the programs they are involved in. Among the issues they are helping promote are HIV\AIDS healthcare, diabetes, autism, public school diversity, pet neutering and childhood obesity. Currently Menounos is the ambassador for the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Diabetes Aware campaign.

Take Action One Cup was launched in 2007 to call upon students around the country to identify problems in their communities and come up with creative and impactful solutions. It is an annual competition designed to empower both students and their communities. Teams made of students from middle and high schools around the country compete by identifying a problem and exhibiting a solution that has the greatest amount of creativity, dedication and impact. They are judged by both their peers through online voting and campaigning and by a panel of academics, pro-social activists and celebrities. The first Cup was done with Cosmogirl magazine but now its done with Channel One News.

One charity event Menounos finds most gratifying is the Annual Day of Beauty at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Menounos along with a team of make-up artists and hair designers along with other celebrities go to the Teen Lounge to give makeovers to participating patients and their families.  Ranked as one of the top five children's hospitals in the nation it treats the gambit of health issues including the rarest and most complex in pediatrics. Many of the participating patients are terminally ill. All also receive amazing gift bags containing a wide assortment of products and Menounos often leaves the lounge to take bags to patients in rooms who couldn't make it down.The 8th Annual Day of Beauty took place on November 7, 2014.

Information on how to give to this charity can be found on the Take Action Hollywood! donation page.

Most importantly, Bravo to pop-we I Heart Celebrity Causes--Maria Menounos--for her Take Action Hollywood! efforts.

-population-we™ blog post by John Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Marchi Gras 7 to Benefit Sunshine Kids March 13 & 14

Who is behind that mask? It could be you jamming to the music at the Marchi Gras 7 on March 13th and 14th at Bushwackers Saloon in Ralston, NE. This year’s theme is (you guessed it) a masquerade party. Come on Friday for Rock N’ Roll or Saturday for Country Night or double your fun and come both nights. It is only $15 per person per night or both nights for $30 per person. Cory Fuller, a Real Estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, NE., founded and hosts Marchi Gras as a fundraiser for the Sunshine Kids. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is one of the largest backers nationally of the Sunshine Kids, an organization dedicated to providing recreational outings for children with cancer and their families.

I interviewed Brandon Deyo, PR and Media Relations for Marchi Gras 7, about the upcoming fundraiser. He starts brainstorming for the event in advance and keeps a keen focus on this year’s event while already looking ahead to the next one. He really believes that people come together when tragedy strikes.

There is a deep line up of talented artists and bands for the event including Nashville recording artist Jeremy McComb, Sinners and Saints, The John Doe Band, Recaptured (A Tribute to Journey) and the Jason Earl Band. McKenzie Steiner will also be performing. Deyo is thrilled that this 13 year-old-talent, who handpicked her own band, Mckenzie JaLynn & The Renegades, will perform because she wants to help children with cancer.

Sunshine Kids is a national organization. Youth are chosen to participate in national events. The fundraiser will also support local activities for children and their families in the greater Omaha Metro area. Deyo said that a child with cancer impacts the whole family. The activities are geared to the whole family too so that the family can forget about the cancer while they participate in the sponsored activities. He is also aware that even with the best insurance policies that there is a heavy financial burden on the families. For children with chronic or even acute illnesses, community support for the families is so vital.

Vince Leisey is the owner and managing broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha. Besides offering his company's support, Leisey allows the Sunshine Kids' families and close friends of children with cancer to use his suites to attend events at such places as Creighton Basketball and Cox Classic; both in the surrounding Omaha areas.

Deyo has done individual activities with a Sunshine Kid and her family including attending the Omaha Lancer’s Hockey where the child had access to the locker room and received an autographed T-shirt.

Deyo also aka Brother B has a big heart. He pours his whole heart and soul into Marchi Gras. Pictures of Sunshine Kids that are forever in his heart are saved on his phone--so he sees them when he checks his messages. They remind him to do everything that he needs to do that day. I know Deyo’s grandparents, who were my childhood neighbors would be so pleased that he is doing such important work. Read more about living next door to Brandon's grandma, Goldie.

There will be a silent auction. Donations will be accepted for the auction until a week prior to the event to give them time to prepare the items for auction.

You may purchase tickets in advance at the following businesses around the Omaha and Ralston area: Bushwackers,, VooDoo Taco and Bershire Hathaway HomeServices! Tickets will also be available for purchase on the night of the event at Bushwackers.

Some of the population-we LLC staff plan to attend Marchi Gras this year. They are looking forward to an evening of fun for a good cause. Deyo said it will be “an outright good time!”

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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