Tag Archives: seasonal

This Is Halloween

October 31, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“What’s your favorite decoration?”

“That one!” says Salvatore. As do most 3-year-olds, he knows what he likes.

“The one in the cage right here? Or the big spider?”

“The one in the cage.”

“It makes noise,” his older brother, Mario, volunteers. “Except not right now. Mom has batteries for it, but we don’t know where.” Mario is 8 and quite matter of fact.

“And it has a black eye!” exclaims Sal.

These brothers, along with sister Mia, 2, and mom and dad Denni Layne and Mike Anzalone, have the privilege of residing at one of Midtown’s best decorated homes for Halloween. Layne and Anzalone say it’s not uncommon for people to slow down for a good gawk at their home at 35th Avenue and Leavenworth Street.

Can onlookers be blamed?


The front yard of the mustard-colored Victorian home is small but surrounded by a tall, ornate iron fence. Cobwebs drape over the rails and a good portion of the yard itself, while cornstalks serve as a seasonal front gate. Tiny corpses hang in little cages on the porch, a light-up spider is on the door, and a bat hides in the eaves. Zombie heads populate the space underneath a small tree, and large stone lions hold Barbie-doll-size skulls tightly in their jaws.

Of course, passersby will notice all those minor details after they’ve stopped staring at two life-size coffins propped up in front of the porch. They’re open so that visitors can admire the lighted skulls of the inhabitants.

Despite the fact that the yard and front porch are covered in all manner of Halloween fun and it’s right off of busy Leavenworth, nothing has ever gone missing. “Well, these things are heavy,” Anzalone says, pointing to the coffins. “I made them almost life-size.” As a wood and metal custom designer, Anzalone is no stranger to making some of the more exotic Halloween decor. He also made the home’s iron fencing. And a 12’-tall pumpkin reaper monster that may make a last-minute debut this Halloween.

“We try something new each year,” Layne says. “And we’ve been doing this for about four or five years.”

It takes the family a couple hours daily over the course of four or five days to bring Halloween to life at their home, and everyone is incredibly into it. Even Gigi, the family’s Italian mastiff, carries a plush pumpkin with her these days, short tail wagging furiously amid all the activity.

“The kids and Denni do a lot of the spiderwebs,” Anzalone says. One particularly enormous web gathers fallen leaves underneath a small maple. “At first I tried to pick them out, but I finally said, you know, that adds to it,” he says.

Because Leavenworth is such a busy street and their front sidewalk is right on it, Anzalone and Layne don’t get many trick-or-treaters. “We’ll leave a pumpkin out with some suckers and every now and then there’ll be a couple missing. We’ll have maybe one or two.”

Still, the family enjoys the notes of appreciation from the neighbors and the comments from pedestrians. “We’re glad that people love it,” Layne says, “because we really love it.”

Follow a Craft Beer Calendar

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

To many, reaching for a beer is a pretty simple affair—grabbing whatever is on sale or sits on top in the cooler. But I’m not here to advocate for simplicity when it comes to your choice of beverage. Putting some timely thought behind your selection can pay some great dividends!

As I write this, the sun is shining, the temperatures are finally rising, and the desire to get outdoors is overpowering. Just as certain craft beers pair beautifully with particular foods, so too do the myriad styles of craft beer find select pairings with the seasons, hence, the phrase “seasonal beers.”

Seasonal beers offer their peak appeal within a particular time of year. Certain styles have become the norm for the type of activities people find themselves involved in or the type of weather they’re experiencing. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Darker, maltier styles are well-suited to the colder months due to their more filling and higher alcoholic nature, for example; thus, they are popular in the fall and winter.

But we’re now several weeks into spring, so which craft beers marry well with springtime? Spring seasonals tend to have a straw or golden color, a lively effervescence, and a bitterness rate geared toward quenching a growing thirst.

Pale ales, “smaller” IPAs (just a bit bigger in stature than pale ales), and wheat beer styles are perfectly suited to the warming temperatures and activities of springtime. And like good wine, beers also have many intriguing variations and tilts on a style that will keep you entertained throughout the season. You need not chose just one seasonal option—you can find several you enjoy!

One of my personal favorites is wheat beer—American, German, Belgian—and with brews from so many little regions within these countries, the list is quite long. Wheat beers are generally made with 50 percent wheat/50 percent malted barley. Most are cloudy in nature due to the yeast and proteins left in suspension because of a deliberate lack of filtration. Differences emerge in the artistry of the brewer. American wheats are fairly straightforward, less challenging, or possibly a bit less entertaining, while the German wheats can be hugely effervescent and possess a nose bursting with banana, clove, and vanilla. There are many variations within the German ranks, but as I’m here to guide you, I’ll send you right to an immensely pleasing German Hefeweizen (pronounced “hefay veitzen”).

Most area grocery or bottle stores carry a nice selection of seasonal craft beers, and the local brewers either have one on tap year-round or are just gearing up for the seasonal change. This is one of the easiest times of the year to make your own personal-best seasonal choice.

Now, get out there and try a few!

In Bloom

November 25, 2012 by

In Bloom is a local, family-owned flower shop and home décor/gift store that serves businesses and individuals year-round with floral arrangements and seasonal decorating, as well as Christmas tree decorating seminars.

Since opening in 2008, the Fremont business has been able to grow through word-of-mouth and advertising in the local area and surrounding cities. “Due to our increasing customer base and expanded inventories, we were required to move to a larger building,” says owner Jenefer Backhaus. “Two years ago, we moved our business to its current location. Moving has allowed us to keep a larger fresh flower inventory, and it has enabled us to expand our gift lines.”

In Bloom’s mainly female clientele come from Fremont and surrounding areas to the shop because the shop offers unique gifts that aren’t available elsewhere. “Our customers like to stop in often to see what new items we have because our inventory is always changing. [But] some people just stop in to see [our dog] Lily, In Bloom’s four-legged mascot,” says Backhaus, who has designed arrangements for Ted Turner and Willy Theisen.

Backhaus, who friends describe as creative, funny, and a little crazy, wanted to be a florist since she was about 10 years old. She went to Metro Tech for floral design right after high school and has been doing it ever since. Throughout her 27 years of being a designer, she has had the opportunity to work with many talented designers, picking up little bits of knowledge from each of them along the way. “This has allowed me to create a style all my own,” she adds.

What Backhaus has learned while running In Bloom is that there are always challenges. “Some days have big challenges, but most days have only a few small challenges. A business owner just needs to learn how to manage stress.” But the challenges and stress of business are definitely outweighed by the personal satisfaction of Backhaus’ job. “Being in the floral business makes you find yourself being a small part of a person or family’s very important day, whether it’s a new baby, a wedding, or even a funeral. I always feel very honored to take part.”

In Bloom
520 North Main St.
Fremont, Neb.