Tag Archives: Pink

Making the Whole Month Feel Like Christmas

November 5, 2019 by
Photography by William Hess

Growing up, Ashley Ross chose a Christmas ornament every year for her family tree. Now, she lets her two daughters, Ever and Story, continue the tradition while she decorates the rest of the Ross family home for the holidays. Hanging outdoor lights is the purview of husband Andrew Ross.

“Christmas is obviously the biggest [holiday],” Ashley says, “and our favorite.”

For this “most wonderful time” last year, the Ross family began decorating the first of December.

“I am one of those ‘right after Thanksgiving’ people, because I want the whole month of December to feel like Christmas,” Ashley says.

The Ross’ custom 1 1/2-story home has an open floor plan, allowing their large Christmas tree to be viewed from the foyer, kitchen, and living, dining, and play rooms. Last year the home was decked in living evergreen boughs and wreaths, including a centerpiece for the dining room table, fireplace mantle, and touches in the kitchen.

“I like the live garlands,” Andrew says. “When you walk into the house, you know it’s Christmastime.”

White walls “keep the house bright and happy,” while neutral accents make changing decorations for the season easy. Wooden tones on the mantle, exposed ceiling beams, shelves, and leather furnishings warm the space. They also complement the organic decorations and lighter tints of red, rich greens, silvers, golds, and even pinks in the Ross’ Christmas decor palette.

“Whimsical is kind of the look we have,” Ashley says. “It just feels magical with everything up.”

While the main tree and wreaths may be the headliners of the Ross’ decor, Ashley points to little details her husband and daughters enjoy. Changing out books in her children’s reading nook with holiday titles and adding a festive Scandinavian-style throw blanket and seasonal pillows to the couch are a few ways she brings the Christmas spirit alive.

“It is kind of like a giant puzzle…Just making everything work,” says Ashley, for whom interior design has always been a keen interest. She expresses her creativity and fine eye for detail through photography as well, capturing family moments and sharing them on her Instagram account.

Andrew and Ashley, who both have degrees in journalism and were raised in the Millard area, met after college through mutual friends. They finished the basement of their first home together, getting a “taste” for a custom build.

“My main thing was the lot,” Andrew says. “I spent a lot of time driving through neighborhoods.”

The Ross family lives within walking distance of grandparents and friends in Elkhorn. Their backyard opens into lush greenery formerly of Skyline Woods golf course, whose developers lost a lawsuit to the Skyline Woods Homeowners Association in 2008, reinforcing land use limitations. Andrew is a golfer, but is satisfied his daughters have outdoor and indoor spaces to play.

“We decided we wanted a different style of home,” Ashley says. “We worked with the architect. We would bring in pictures, show him, and he would draw it up—a lot of back and forth.”

From planning to building, the process took two years working with Garrett Friesen of Dreamhome Drafting in Elkhorn, and Denali Homes of Omaha. Design elements include natural light, a connected laundry room and master closet, a home office, and an open floor plan.

“I knew I wanted that [first floor] open to the second story with the play loft upstairs,” Ashley says, “so [the kids] could play and have their own space, but we could keep an eye on them.”

The Christmas decorations permeate every room, with small trees in the kids’ rooms, potted holiday plants in the bathrooms, and mistletoe above the front door in the foyer. With two toy poodles, two rescue cats, and two children, decorations sometimes take abuse and need replacing.

“We’ve had to say, ‘Don’t put the ornaments on the very bottom of the tree because the kids or cats will bat them off,’” Ashley says. “There is nothing we have that is crazy priceless. That’s kind of how you have to live your life when you have little kids.

We always lose a few ornaments.”

One of the kids’ favorite activities every year is unboxing all the decorations. Ashley saves most items, adding a new one if it “just fits,” such as a new tree topper for the 2020 season. She finds pieces locally at the Fremont boutique fia + belle, “The Studio” by jh Design Studio, and Mulhall’s, as well as through national retailers and online Instagram makers.

“If I like it, I don’t really care where it came from,” Ashley says. “Every year I get a little bit more.”

Ashley suggests designing a room by selecting a favored item, then “focusing the rest of the room around that piece.” The Ross’ ability to both work from home provides them with time to enjoy the decorations, Christmas and otherwise, for many weeks.

“If the decorations are all done, it gives you more time to shop, spend time with family, and all the fun Christmas stuff you want to do,” Ashley says.

For the Ross family, this means hot chocolate and Christmas light-viewing drives, watching holiday movies, viewing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Orpheum Theater, visiting Santa, and opening advent calendars.

“You know it’s going to be a lot of family time,” Andrew says. “A lot of traditions you do every year. A feeling of happiness.”

“You slow down a little,” Ashley says. “With Christmas, it’s whatever makes you happy.” 

Family Feud

October 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”

-Danita Webb

There’s no greater certainty than that of an armchair game show contestant. Answers flow easily from a cushy couch, with the benefit of comfy pants, snacks, and extra seconds to spare before buzzing in via the customary shout at the TV screen. 

Now, name something that might derail the masterful omnipotence of such astute sofa spuds. Survey says…the lights, camera, action, live studio audience, and split-second pressure of actually appearing on Family Feud, as several Omaha families discovered. 

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“We’ve always watched the show, yelling answers at the TV, feeling like we knew more than the contestants. So when auditions came to Omaha, we jumped right on it,” says Danita Webb, who joined sisters Dorotha Rohlfsen, Darnisha Ladd, Sherita White, and Beverly Tate to compete as the White Family. 

The fivesome played mock games for producers at the October 2014 audition, alongside hundreds of local families.

“You would’ve thought there really was $20,000 on the line, because we were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other. It was awesome,” says Webb.

One Friday night the following January, Webb and some of her sisters were together when the good news arrived.

“My sister checked her mail and found this blue postcard from Family Feud that said ‘Congratulations!’ and we just went crazy,” says Webb.

The Franklin Family also received that lucky, blue-hued golden ticket to the Feud.   

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Cydney Franklin—who competed with sister Lindsey Franklin, mother Brigette Law Franklin, father Frederick Franklin, and aunt Patricia Franklin—says her mother urged the family to audition in matching “We Don’t Coast” T-shirts displaying their Omaha pride.

“Our family is really close,” says Franklin. “(Auditioning) was mostly just something to do for fun together that actually turned into us getting on the show.”

Six more Omaha-area families made the cut—the Quaites, Coffiels, Shanks, McIntoshes, Kirshenbaums, and Skaffs. But only the White and Franklin families would return from their Atlanta tapings victorious. The Whites won two games, including one Fast Money round victory, and the Franklins took it all the way to game five, the maximum number of games each family can compete in, with five straight victories landing them on the platform with the grand prize car. They may have made it look easy, but both women say their victories were hard fought.     

“You really earn that money,” says Webb. “You have to make sure you’re smiling, clapping, thinking of your next answer. There’s so much going on that it can be stressful. At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”

“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together. We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”

-Cydney Franklin

While it was her family’s fun-loving energy that got them on the show, Franklin says they realized it was serious business when they arrived in the Atlanta studio. Although they went on to win five games, she says they waited a day and a half to be plucked from the audience to compete, then nearly lost their first game.   

“It was one of the most intense moments of my life,” says Franklin. “We’d gone through so much to get to that point and then were sure we were going to lose, but at the last second my sister came through with the answer—I don’t know how she did it—and we won. We came back the next morning and just kept winning.”

Both women agree it wasn’t all nail-biting nervousness, thanks to congenial host Steve Harvey.   

“He is a riot,” says Webb. “You’re so nervous at first, but he really helps you let loose and have fun.”

“Steve is hilarious, and each episode is almost like a comedy show,” says Franklin. “He’s also really inspiring. At commercial break he shares these uplifting, inspirational messages about being your best self, fulfilling your dreams, and about himself overcoming his own obstacles and hurdles in life.”

Webb and White say that while the prize money was wonderful, it’s the family bonding around celebrating their accomplishment they cherish most.

familyfeud1“Running out onstage to celebrate winning with my sisters was awesome,” says Webb. “It was especially meaningful to us because we tried out in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am a seven-year breast cancer survivor. We all wore pink when we auditioned and then on the show a year later, too. It was amazing to create those memories together and celebrate that great accomplishment.”       

“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together,” says Franklin. “We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”

Following two 14-hour studio days, the Franklins finished their third day at about 3 p.m.

“We walked out of the building, and it was the first day we’d left that the sun was still shining. So we were all joking like, ‘Was this a dream? Did this actually happen?’”

For at-home champs aspiring to transition from couch to soundstage, Franklin and Webb suggest folks bring a lively energy, but one that truthfully reflects their family’s authentic personality. 

“Make sure that you bring that family togetherness and have an enthusiastic personality,” says Webb. “You definitely have to turn it up if you’re going to be on the show.”

Visit familyfeud.com for more information.

Green Thumb – Pink Dreams

November 3, 2014 by
Photography by Sara Lemke

October will be loaded with events that recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Project Pink’d supporter Karen Kruse will certainly make at least a showing at a select event or three, but she’ll manage her time to leave room for the most important of tasks—tending to her pink-pinker-pinkest garden.

“I call it my Survivor’s Garden,” Kruse says of the front-yard space that is the jewel of Blondo Street between Country Club Avenue and 52nd Street.

Kruse finished planting her garden in 2010, exactly one year to the day after her first chemotherapy treatment. There’s only one rule in this garden—it has to be pink. Besides featuring a monochromatic array of plantings in the hue forever associated with the iconic ribbon that will be everywhere to be seen this October and beyond, Kruse carries the theme into patio furniture, planters, and surrounding tchotchkes.

But there’s more.

“I’ll buy anything pink in products where a portion of the proceeds go to the battle against breast cancer,” says the woman who sports a shoulder tattoo with the words “Fight like a girl” accompanied by the familiar pink ribbon. Which answers the question behind her pink gardening gloves, shears, pail…heck, even her garbage cans.

Kruse, who is featured in the just-released, pin-up-girl-style calendar that is a fundraiser for Project Pink’d, says that her garden is so much more than a mere hobby.

“This garden is an important part of my recovery,” Kruse explains. “This is about an attitude that is more than just surviving. When I’m working in the garden I am thriving. I want to be more than a survivor. I want to thrive.”

Just like her pretty-in-pink riot of color planted along Blondo Street.

Visit projectpinkd.org for more information.

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