Posts Archived From: 'February 2011'

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Belly Up at Nomad

Let’s Party

I am particularly excited about my most recent essay written for the Creative Freelancer Blog. The topic: Partnering with individuals and businesses to increase your public relations and marketing reach. It can be a very inexpensive and highly satisfying approach to spreading the word.

Point your mouse this way to read (and comment on) “Cross-Promotion and Co-Branding: The new way to party in the PR world.”


{Hipster Kitty, originally uploaded by wendytownley on Flickr.}

Now Hear This: @badbanana on AM Radio

Last fall I joined The Weekly Grind radio show as the first female co-host. It has been an exciting and fun few months alongside co-hosts Bryan Mohr and Mike Shearer. We’ve had a variety of talented, funny, and passionate young professionals in our studio and have learned so much about the creative talent in this city that I – and so many others – call home.

This past Saturday was an extra special Saturday, as we welcomed the funniest man on Twitter, @badbanana, on the air as a special c0-host for the entire hour. And gosh by golly, did we have fun! Our topics were varied and the jokes were hilarious. And the random and intermittent quips by Tim Siedell were all the convincing that we (and our listeners) needed: he’s just as funny in person as he is on Twitter. (But he looks nothing like his Twitter photo, the late giant of advertising, David Ogilvy.)

The next time you have an hour or so, download Saturday’s episode and savor the humor that is @badbanana. After hearing his voice, you may never read Tim’s tweets the same way again.

2011 Young Professionals Summit

If you’re a young professional (read: anyone under the age of forty) working in a job you love or dreaming of working in a job you love, mark your calendar for Thursday, March 3 to attend the 2011 Young Professionals Summit at the Qwest Center in downtown Omaha.

The daylong event will feature a slew of breakout presentations – me being one of them. At 1:30 p.m., following what is guaranteed to be a motivating and energizing keynote presentation by mayor-of-the-moment Cory Booker (@corybooker) of Newark, New Jersey, I will present “Sharing the Story, Spreading the Love: How Smart Social Media Marketing Nets Followers, Fans and Friends.”

My presentation will discuss in greater detail how I used social media to maximize buzz about Nerdy Thirty, but will also focus on the social media questions and needs of those in the audience. I will likely have a few PowerPoint slides, but the presentation will be very conversational, very engaging, and (I hope) even a little funny.

While I’m extremely excited to present at the Young Professionals Summit in March, I’m even more excited to network with other young professionals – many of whom I chat with via Facebook and Twitter, but never have had the opportunity to meet in person.

This event is the perfect kick-in-the-pants that many of us need, especially during the cold winter months in Nebraska. You’re guaranteed to find motivation, energy, and ideas for your current job, your next job, your dream job, or that side project you’ve sat on for years.

Registration for the luncheon only is $75. Registration for the entire Summit (which includes lunch) is $125. Please note: Registration deadline is Thursday, February 24.

There are two other events happening as part of the Young Professionals Summit. You’ll find me behind the bar at the February 17 event, but I make no promises about the quality of your drink should you order from me.

Documentary Viewing Party
Wednesday, February 2
7 – 9 p.m.
Marcus Theaters at Midtown Crossing
3201 Farnam St.

View the documentary “Street Fight” by Marshall Curry Productions, featuring Summit keynote speaker Cory Booker. The film chronicles the 2002 bare-knuckles race for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Stick around for an after-the-show panel discussion and cocktails at Glo Lounge.

Cost: $5 in advance, $7 at the door • Register online by Tuesday, February 1

Purely Social: Summit Pre-Party
Thursday, February 17
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Nomad Lounge
1013 Jones St.

The evening includes a slam poetry competition for charity featuring Matt Mason and other local poets; celebrity bartenders including Summit presenters, local media figures and Omaha leaders; and appetizer and drink specials.

Cost: Free • Register online by Tuesday, February 15

Cream Cheese Pound Cake; Butterfly Optional

When I made the decision last year to slowly teach myself how to cook and bake, Bundt cakes were a natural place to begin. I owned a weathered and wonderful Bundt pan that belonged to my late grandmother, and started rather small: preparing Bundt cakes whose base was a box cake mix. Simple enough recipes with directions that were, for the most part, foolproof. I found success in baking – much more so than cooking – because the steps were rigid and fairly easy to follow. With no base knowledge of cooking, I was not tempted to “jazz up” any recipes out of fear of a culinary disaster. I followed each recipe, step by step.

One weekend while clicking through a number of recipe websites, I stumbled upon a pound cake recipe from scratch that I felt brave enough to try. Like magic, the dessert turned out beautifully. Since then I have mustered more courage to try even more new recipes and learn as much as possible about baking.

This past Christmas my mom gave me a butterfly-shaped cake pan. It was a thoughtful gesture and an adorable gift. But I really think my mom was politely trying to say, “Wendy, we love your Bundt cakes. But try something new already, OK?”

So I did. Yesterday afternoon I christened my Christmas gift by preparing a decadent and dense cream cheese pound cake recipe to share with my family. The result was adorable and absolutely delicious. And while I baked the pound cake in the butterfly pan, a traditional Bundt pan would most certainly do.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Pound Cake
(All ingredients should be at room temperature)
3 sticks of butter
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Cream together the butter and sugar; beat well until fluffy. Add two eggs at a time; beat well. Add a half-cup of flour at a time, followed by the vanilla. Mix in the softened cream cheese. Bake in a greased and floured Bundt (or butterfly!) pan at 325 degrees for 75 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Chocolate Glaze
2 cups of sugar
1 stick of butter
1 large can of evaporated milk
6 tablespoons of cocoa powder

In a large pot, mix together the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and allow to cook until the glaze thickens. Transfer the glaze to a separate bowl and allow to cool completely. Using a small gravy ladle, pour the chocolate glaze over slices of the pound cake. Serve to those you love and yourself. There’s nothing more perfect than a pound cake, be it for breakfast or dessert.

So This Is The New Year

“So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions”
– Death Cab for Cutie, “The New Year”

Mercy me, we have arrived at the beginning of 2011. A shiny, spankin’ new year where goals and projects, dreams and aspirations, tough decisions and do-overs are all possible. Yes they are, and yes we can. It sounds corny, I know, to join the world in the vague, vanilla notion of a new beginning just because the calendar tells us so. But a new month and a new year seem like the ideal time to start fresh, to turn the page and plan for what’s next. Or at least keep those things top of mind for the next twelve months.

For me, 2010 was first about the final months of graduate school coursework and, a few months later, Nerdy Thirty. The year was overwhelmingly positive with buzz and support and well wishes for the book; but the excitement meant my thesis for graduate school was all too easily pushed to the bottom half of my 2010 task list.

Which is why my first priority this year is my thesis. After a good chat with Lisa Martin over fried foods and drinks at the Dundee Dell a few months back, I have realized that my thesis won’t just write itself. I must make it a priority by carving out time to work on it every single week. Just like the eight courses I took for graduate school, I now have a weekly appointment with my Macintosh – likely at my local coffeehouse. After abandoning my thesis for the past six months, I can honestly say that I have a renewed vigor and excitement for the 75-plus-page writing project. It’s time. I want to earn my master’s degree this year.

And once my thesis receives its final blessing from my three-person committee, work will commence on my second book. Which also is exciting.

But on this Sunday of NFL games, a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, a comfy Estes Park hoodie, and warm sunshine, I find myself still smiling from my New Year’s Eve.

Matt and I had a loosely planned evening ahead of us this past Friday. Both dressed to the nines, we started with cocktails at the Lynx Lounge, followed by two house parties thrown by good friends. We agreed that standing atop sticky floors in overcrowded bars, sipping watered down and high priced cocktails was not our idea of a good time – especially on New Year’s Eve.

Rather, we found ourselves in the homes of friends; and the night truly exceeded our expectations. We saw familiar faces, and met new ones. We tried new wines and cocktails, my most favorite being the delectable pudding shots and alcohol-laced whipped cream atop. It was pure heaven.
We crowded into Jessica and Christopher’s stylish living room and, in unison, counted down to midnight. We raised our glasses and toasted 2011. We kissed. We hugged. We drank more. The energy of the whole home was warm and electric. Matt and I were surrounded by so many smiles, so many kind faces, so much child-like fun. It was the most memorable New Year’s Eve of recent memory.
New Year’s Day was spent in sweats, riding the couch, savoring a frozen hamburger pizza, watching past episodes of “The Sopranos,” while stealing intermittent cat naps every few hours. It felt fantastic. The quiet and calm gave my brain time and space to consider what’s next for me in 2011, including …

• Cooking more and trying new recipes
• Planning more evenings with friends, even if it’s cocktails and snacks at home
• Finding more national freelance writing opportunities
• Continuing regular visits to the gym, two to three times each week
• Making a return visit to Des Moines, where I was so overwhelmingly welcomed in 2010
• Spending less and saving more
• Making more time to read for pleasure and recreation
• Saying “no” to opportunities and projects that aren’t a good fit, to make time for those that are

Here’s to my bullet points (and yours), and that 2011 becomes a memorable year filled with happiness and love.

[Originally written for OMAHYPE: “New Year’s Resolutions: Part IV: Making Time for Reflection and New Beginnings”]

An Alternative to Exercise (For Writers)

This is what I learned – rather, what was hilariously reinforced – tonight by reading I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. (I should mention that I am reading Nora’s new book instead of going to the gym. And because I’m writing about what I read, I feel less guilty for not going to the gym. Will I feel guilty when, in an hour, I devour homemade pancakes with maple syrup and scrambled eggs for dinner? I can’t quite say.)

But back to what I read.

In her essay “Journalism: A Love Story,” Nora writes about her experience as a budding journalist working at Newsweek magazine in 1962.

We often worked until three in the morning on Friday nights, and then we had to be back at work early Saturday, when the Nation and Foreign departments closed. It was exciting in its own self-absorbed way: you truly come to believe that you are living in the center of the universe and that the world out there is on tenterhooks waiting for the next copy of whatever publication you work at.

Author photo from Ephron's 2006 book I Feel Bad About My Neck

For my fellow writers reading this tonight and not going to the gym, here’s to us. And to our craft. And to what we do that makes us crazy one minute, and deliriously happy the next. May everyone find their similar passion in life – but still find time to exercise. Every few days or so.

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