Posts Archived From: 'August 2014'

‘Omaha Live!’ Debuts September 27

Satire and sketch comedy are the focus of a new, weekly television show debuting Saturday, September 27.


“Omaha Live!” will air Saturdays at midnight through December, following “Saturday Night Live” on WOWT, Omaha’s NBC affiliate.


The program’s satirical and comedic content, developed by co-creators (and brothers) Matt and Ben Tompkins, is a split between local news, pop culture, and national headlines.



A half-hour weekly program, “Omaha Live!” is combination of produced commercial parodies, comedy sketches, music videos/song parodies, interviews with politicians and celebrities, and local on-location features.


Matt Tompkins will serve as anchor and lead host.


“My ‘Omaha Live!’ character is often overly confident, but poorly misinformed,” Matt Tompkins said. “Much of his humor is derived from a cheerful yet exaggerated nature, socially ignorant tendencies, and a overarching awkwardness that is unmistakable. In a word, he’s awesome.”


“Omaha Live!” features a regular cast of actors, comedians, and writers, both local and regional. The first season, which runs through December, will feature 12, 30-minute episodes.


Brothers Matt and Ben Tompkins gained popularity while co-hosting “The Matt and Ben Show” on Twister 93.3 FM and, later, The Brew 96.1 FM, along with talk shows on 1110 KFAB and SiriusXM (which was syndicated nationally), from 2005 to 2014.


Natives of Valley, Nebraska, the Tompkins brothers’ first comedy album, Songs for Giants, was released in 2010 to positive reviews.


Follow @mattandben on Twitter, on Facebook, and on YouTube.

Making Kitchen Cleaning Fun Again

Confession: I enjoy cleaning. I treasure tidying. Putting possessions in their proper places provides a domestic bliss I have savored for years.

But the kitchen? After several hours of cooking – or even a quick dinner of tacos or spaghetti – how much to charge for cleaning is what leaves on everyone’s mind. It leaves something to be desired. The spills and splatters that adorn our kitchen counter (check the Renew here), cabinets, and (yes) the floor require a Herculean strength … especially on weeknights.


Cleaning with something pretty and charming, in bright colors and soft textures, can lighten my stress of keeping our kitchen clean. Which is why, after discovering Lion Brand Yarn’s Kitchen Cotton, I spent a recent weekend knitting a handful of washcloths.


You have to keep your kitchen beautiful after getting it renovated by a renovation company. With my trusty US 10 knitting needles and around forty stitches (or so) to start, I knitted at a relaxed and casual pace. I used some of my (well-worn) washcloths as a guide on size. In just a few hours’ time, I had a new set of colorful, handmade washcloths that are easy to use, delightful to display, and make for great gifts.

They wash up beautifully and are ideal for all the cleaning that comes with the kitchen. And the cotton yarn is a much better choice versus its wool counterparts.


Our good friends, Lowell and Diane of St. Joseph, Missouri, recently hosted our extended family for an overnight’s stay. What better way to thank them for their hospitality and truly SPECTACULAR wine selection than with a knitted washcloth of their very own.


Editor’s note: This blog post was published in collaboration with Lion Brand Yarn. Follow Lion Brand Yarn on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube for more knitting inspiration. 

When Pepperoni and Tortellini Collide

Around our house during the summer months, a cutting board and sharp knife are always within reach. I like to use mineral oil to prevent cutting boards from becoming dry and brittle, which can cause a cracked board. In some cases, they assume permanent residence on our kitchen counter for days at a time. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and aromatic herbs – either from our own backyard garden or Nelson Produce – are breakfast, lunch, and dinner staples.

When the June calendar turned to July and a family Fourth of July cookout called for a side dish, I had two no-brainer assumptions: search for a recipe on Pinterest, and ensure said recipe called for fresh produce. Plenty of fresh produce.

I was delighted to locate this easy, delicious cold pasta dish that called for ingredients nearly everyone enjoys: cheese tortellini, cherry (or grape) tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, pepperoni, Caesar salad dressing. (Are you drooling yet?)


Judging from my ceramic casserole dish at the end of our dinner, the recipe was devoured by many. Only a few tomatoes and slivers of basil remained.

As you’ll read in the following recipe, many of the ingredients could be substituted for your family favorites: another blend of cheese, red peppers, diced ham.


Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

1 (20-ounce) package of refrigerated cheese tortellini

1 cup of fresh mozzarella, cubed

1 cup of pepperoni, chopped

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

2/3 cup Caesar salad dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the cheese tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again. Pat the pasta dry and allow it to cool completely. Transfer the cooked tortellini to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss well. Garnish with fresh basil. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.


Editor’s note: Recipe courtesy of Dream Home Cooking Girl.

Words They’ve Read: Steve Gordon Jr.

Calling Steve Gordon Jr. a graphic designer only tells part of his story. In fact, it doesn’t even come close. Known best by his other moniker, RDQLUS Creative, Gordon is a constant observer of his surroundings and their textures. His creative client work is various and wide-reaching. His modest clothing line emphasizes clever messaging. And he is unabashedly unapologetic about his ongoing (yet carefully curated) love affair with shoes.


In a profession where much of his work is spent focused on the visual, it only made sense to dig a little deeper into Gordon’s background and ask about printed words on the page. We recently sat down with Gordon and asked what six titles have stuck with him over the years.


On Adolescence 
The Hunger Games
Sure, I know all of these post-apocalyptic epochs are aimed at high school girls in need of empowerment and desiring dreamy co-heroes. But the truth at the core of this one struck me. Introduced to this trilogy by my wife —who is a brilliant grade school teacher—so many things rang almost painfully true, based on my childhood, my neighborhood, and the things I’d seen growing up. This apocalyptic future was my past.


On Leaving Home
The Chronicles of Narnia
Idealistic fantasy was just what the doctor ordered. Displaced by the good-intentioned—but foolish—act of forced desegregation of schools, I was lost in a world 100 blocks away from my familiar hood. Not that my hood didn’t set itself up for some prime escapism; but, having nothing but a wasteland of shiny, clean things and judging faces to escape to was just as scary. The story in these books was just that: kids who became royals in a land far from home and unfamiliar to anyone back in their own place and time. Again, another parallel.


On Perseverance
The Great Gatsby
This was my original playbook. Judge not the shady moves made, the end justified the means. Integrity in the intent. Fight, claw, grind, dream, reach, and yes, fail—gloriously. All of it for a singular purpose—none of it mattering without the same. Gatsby had his reasons, his dreams. I had mine. “My life has got to be like this. It has to keep going up.” Amen.


>> Continue reading my latest essay, “The Words They’ve Read: Steve Gordon Jr.,” at COOP, an online lifestyle publication produced by Birdhouse Interior Design.


Celebrate Philanthropy May 21

Giving has never felt quite this good.


On Wednesday, May 21, more than 500 charities in the Omaha metro will benefit from donations made during Omaha Gives!, a twenty-four-hour online charitable holiday.


Organized for the second consecutive year by the Omaha Community Foundation, Omaha Gives! is a concentrated effort designed to raise funds and awareness for organizations both big and small.


The Omaha Public Library Foundation, where I serve as development director, is an Omaha Gives! participating nonprofit again this year. In 2013, the library foundation raised nearly $30,000 during Omaha Gives! from more than one-hundred donors, matching funds, and a $1,000 prize.


As you peruse this year’s participants, please consider making a $10 gift (or larger) to the library foundation.


Since 1985, the library foundation has raised funds and advocated for Omaha Public Library, its twelve branches, patrons, programs, services, and staff.



Printed Words on Parade

I still recall the cover, deep red and worn and not at all striking or memorable in design. Bennet Cerf’s Book of Laughs was a title I discovered at my grade school library sometime in the late 1980s. Something about the quips and clever one-liners caught me.


The library tracking card affixed inside the front cover featured my oversized and careful childhood signature, line after line, month after month. I took bennett-cerf.jpgpride in the temporary ownership of that book, poring over each page. The number of consecutive times I checked out the book escapes me, but I remember it was a lot.


Today, more than twenty-five years later, I couldn’t tell you a single sentence from that title without an exhaustive Google search. (Or, better yet, tracking down a used copy.)


Yet in a heartbeat I could recount how the book smelled (something old and wonderful) and how it made me feel (Robert Aris Willmott said it best: “A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love.”).


In many ways, that little book of jokes unknowingly paved the way for my adult life.


Humor has always been ever-present. It started with my family – where belly laughs are the main course of any gathering – and continued with the man I married, whose comic genius keeps me in equal parts tears and stitches.


My love of the written word evolved from Bennet Cerf’s popular publication to various fiction titles and literary classics through high school and beyond, to time spent studying journalism in college, working as a newspaper reporter, and publishing my first book in 2010.


And today, in my full-time role as development director of the Omaha Public Library Foundation, I’m surrounded by books. My weekdays are spent in our city’s four-story, main branch downtown. My working hours are filled advocating and raising money for the Omaha Public Library system and its twelve branches.


When I look around my home at the hundreds of titles I have collected, read, savored, pondered, and enjoyed over the years, I am struck with the strong emotion I feel for these thousands of pages. The letters become words, the words become sentences, the sentences become paragraphs. Together they create magical, memorable experiences.


>> Continue reading my latest essay, “Printed Words on Parade,” at COOP, an online lifestyle publication produced by Birdhouse Interior Design.



The Resurgence of Handmade

Colorful skeins of yarn have slowly, seemingly effortlessly taken up residence in my home. I can’t quite pinpoint when my casual interest in knitting transformed to a full-time hobby. But I can tell you that, on likely a subconscious level, I had grown increasingly weary of digital devices and can’t-quite-touch data that seemed to dominate my hands at any given hour.


And I began referring to my home office as my craft room.


My mother-in-law taught me to knit. After observing her pass the time using a craft whose hallmark is repetition, I slowly began practicing this time honored tradition. A year later, I’m happy to have gifted a number of knitted pieces to family members and friends, proud enough of mastering the basic techniques of casting on, the knit stitch, changing colors, and casting off.


The weights and textures and rainbow of colors at any craft store or website is easy on the eye. I experience a sublime sense of calm while circling my hands around a chunky wool yarn or a more sleek and thinner variety. (Yes, I’ve even rubbed the yarn on my face while shopping. It’s true!)


Inspiration for new knitted pieces – largely scarves, wraps, coasters, and small blankets – surface in a number of places. A color combination might catch my eye at the grocery store, such as the pinks and yellows of Easter candy. I tend to turn the colors around in my head the same way I might a peppermint in my mouth, until I locate the colors of yarn that mimic those same pleasing, pastel hues.


>> Continue reading my latest essay, “The Resurgence of Handmade,” at COOP, an online lifestyle publication produced by Birdhouse Interior Design.



Light, Warmth of Heartland Yarn

So long as the howling winds and sub-zero wind chills of this Nebraska winter stick around, my knitting needles remain full and in motion. While I’m drawn to the pastel hues of pinks and yellows, an obvious eagerness for spring, there’s still a satisfying comfort with countless cozy yarns.


Last month I shared the results of using Lion Brand Yarn’s newest yarn, Unique. And although we’re already a month out from Christmas, I wanted to share one of my most favorite gifted items of this past holiday season: a blue scarf for my brother-in-law Ben.




As I hinted around for Ben’s Christmas list, he mentioned that he needed a new scarf. Given the fact that I’m an avid knitter (taught to knit, as luck would have it, by Ben’s mom), I was more than happy to craft a warm scarf in his favorite color: blue.


It would be my first time using Lion Brand’s Heartland yarn (I picked a very pretty and very patriotic color: Olympic) and I was curious about the final product. The lighter weight allowed for a more detailed scarf, showing off the dazzling blues throughout the piece.



I have taken for granted the quickness with which I can knit a basic scarf using a thicker yarn (hence the name, Wool-Ease Thick & Quick). The Heartland yarn takes a bit longer to knit, but the scarf is no less lovely (if I do say so myself).


Just ask Ben, who so kindly agreed to show off his Christmas gift before we took down our tree earlier this month.


Anyone who knows Ben knows that he just loves the camera, as you
can so easily tell. His expressions are truly priceless!


Is it any wonder he and Matt are radio personalities and comedians? We spend a considerable amount of time in stitches (pun intended!), as you might imagine.


But back to the yarn: I could easily envision using several skeins of colorful Heartland yarn to knit a blanket or oversized throw. It would be great to have in the winter, but also during the warmer months when a lighter blanket will do.


The best part of knitting and crafting in general: my to-do list continually grows!


One of the other knitting highlights of the holidays was a handmade gift I received from my equally creative husband, Matt. We call it the Yarn Barn: a wooden box designed to hold my knitting projects and needles while effortlessly feed the yarn I’m using. I can easily work on two projects at once without the hassle of yarns getting tangled. And when I’m ready to take a break? I simply close the lid.


Every knitter needs a Yarn Barn!






Editor’s note: This blog post was published in collaboration with Lion Brand Yarn. Follow Lion Brand Yarn on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube for more knitting inspiration.