12 Businesses Make 2016 Naughty and Nice List

Annual List Revealed

As a reader and follower you know each December I release a list of business professionals or organizations that have been great, or not so great, to work with throughout the year. Thankfully in 2016 my family didn’t relocate, buy and furnish a house, or experience any major medical issues like we did in 2015. According to Ken, my husband, 2016 was boring. Adding, “boring is good.”

What we did do in 2016 was shore up our financial life. Moving to another state meant we needed to get our wills and estate in order with Nebraska rules. A local, experienced attorney guided us.  Our annual financial checkup was done via video conference, saving us time and travel.  We also replaced a vehicle in 2016.

Despite my widened and improved technology skills, I again relied on experts in 2016 to make my professional life easier. Instead of time-consuming problem-solving, I called experts. Boom! Fixed! Back to work! As a small business owner, I’m cautious about spending funds. However, when an expert can solve the problem in minutes, that’s money well spent.

Ken and I hosted two special occasion catered events in 2016. As strong supporters of small business, we hired two local companies to feed our guests. We’d use each again, without question. We recommend both to you.

Now that we are settled into our new hometown, we sought out local entertainment. We found it at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The productions and talent are outstanding. Go see a play or two. You will be entertained.

Finally, someone found me this year. My enjoyment of nature and photography was rewarded by partnering with San Francisco, California based company Vida. Together we use my photography to produce fashion art. A store link is found under “Linda’s Store” and “Meet Linda” on this website. I am deeply touched and thankful for each of you who purchased a piece of my art to wear or accent your home. One can never go wrong supporting artists, or a small business.

Making the 2016 Nice List

  1. Ashly Voss Beauty First Salon & Store– Omaha Nebraska http://beautyfirstnebraska.com/. This young professional, working in a local business, made my list two years in a row. She is not only a talented stylist but also an emerging business professional. She represents all that a professional should be-customer oriented, skilled in her trade, dedicated, and curious about her industry. Looking for a new style? Visit Ashly. Tell her Ken and I sent you. You will not be disappointed with her talent or her customer service skills.  Congratulations Ashly! You are the first to land on my annual nice list twice.
  2. Clipper Vacations headquartered in Seattle, Washington. http://www.clippervacations.com/. Our family chose the Pacific Northwest for a vacation in 2016. Though we consider ourselves fairly expert in travel planning, we relied on Clipper Vacations. What a time and money saver. There is a reason travel agencies are necessary. Professional agents make travel smoother and less worrisome. If you’re heading to that region, contact them. You can see trip planning details under the “Travel” tab on this website. We also visited Victoria and Vancouver, Canada.
  3. Randy FinchVern Eide Honda–Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Vehicle shopping has always been at the top of my least favorite things to do. However, Randy is changing that. Several years ago we bought a vehicle from him. We did again this year. Only this time the purchase was made over the telephone. Then he drove it to Omaha for us.  Want a hassle-free car buying experience from a no-nonsense salesperson? Contact Randy.
  4. Mangia Italiana--Omaha, Nebraska They advertise in our church bulletin. We support businesses that do that. We have dined in and liked their food and service so well that we had them deliver food for one of our special occasion events this year. A drive by this restaurant will entice you inside. The smell of garlic and baked Italian dishes is ever so delicious. Try Mangia. Go hungry! Leave happier!
  5. Omaha Community Playhouse–Omaha, Nebraska What a great find! Here’s another example of supporting local. The nation’s largest community theatre produces plays and musicals to entertain all. There’s not a bad seat in the house and the talent is top-notch. Do yourself a favor. Get tickets in 2017! We will. Watch for my blog posts reviewing select productions and occasional ticket giveaways.
  6. Kyle Bottorff–Bottorff Tax & Accounting–Vermillion, South Dakota. Have you ever tried finding student housing for 5 months in a university town? It’s near impossible. Kyle stepped forward and rented our son, Alex, a room in his home. As his parents, we are grateful for this gesture. As small business supporters, we encourage anyone needing accounting services to contact Kyle.
  7. Richard A. Drews, Attorney at Law–Omaha, Nebraska Lawyers get a bad rap. Richard (Rick) shouldn’t. We found his ad in our St. James Church bulletin and sought his advice on updating our wills, etc. It was an efficient, painless process. Some put this off because of cost and/or because they don’t want to think of death. Planning ahead and getting one’s affairs in order are gifts for those one leaves behind. Rick is professional, knowledgeable and just a darn good guy. Contact him for a consultation. Be ready to talk baseball. He’s a fan!
  8. Darwyn Sprik–Sprik Financial Group–Sioux Falls, South Dakota You don’t need a treasure trove of cash to work with a financial expert. If you’re interested in making your money work for you, contact Darwyn. He’s Midwestern practical and works with clients in numerous states. Most importantly, he listens. We’re sure thankful we partnered with him years ago.
  9. Jeremy Johnson–TechToGo–Omaha, Nebraska Area I purchased a new computer and dreaded transferring everything from one to the other. To save time and not lose anything, I hired Jeremy. While in my office, he also schooled me on technology shortcuts to  make my workday more productive. When I’ve run into technology roadblocks that take too long for me to solve, I contact him. He fixes them remote. Time is money. My money is always well spent with Jeremy.
  10. Vida--San Francisco, California My photography is featured on clothing, tote bags, accent pillows and more. Remember, you are buying a piece of art and supporting a small business when you purchase from my collection. I love sharing my work with you. Find it on this website under “Linda’s Store” and “Meet Linda”. Or, www.shopvida.com/collections/linda-leier-thomason
  11. Pleasure Your Palate Catering–Omaha, Nebraska Ted and his team provide outstanding event and menu planning, great tasting food and polished customer service. We hired them for an April brunch. Today, guests are still raving about their food quality and service. Call Ted when you need to cater an event that will have guests raving months later.
  12. Phone Surgeons https://phonesurgeons.com/locations/omaha/ Sadly, within days of purchasing a phone after the new year, I drowned it. A TV ad introduced me to Phone Surgeons. 12 months later I’m still using my revived phone, saving me hundreds of dollars. I cannot say enough good about Phone Surgeons. I’m hoping not to use them in 2017. I plan to be more cautious. You should, if your phone needs repair.

Naughty List

My family and I reviewed the year in detail. Other than a horrible experience at one Omaha Taco Bell drive-thru, we cannot identify any others in 2016. [It is my practice to inform any business on the naughty list. I did speak to the store manager after the incident.] Taco Bell is not a bad company. This store had one employee who wasn’t meant to work there.

Our home sustained significant hail damage while we were on vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Each home repair supplier and vendor was outstanding to work with, as was our insurance company.

Perhaps we’ve gotten better at choosing businesses to work with. It could be businesses are doing a better job of delivering great products and services. Maybe we’ve chilled out and expect less. I don’t think so. Whatever the reason, we are grateful for each of these favorable interactions in 2016. And, we look forward to continuing our partnership with each person and business. Afterall,  at the most basic level, business is about establishing trusting, long-term relationships.

Which business professional or organization made your 2016 better?

Tell them! Write them a testimonial. Send them a note. Deliver them a tray of homemade treats. Get to know the people in the business. It makes doing business all that more meaningful.

Share this with others as a testimonial of outstanding businesses and business professionals.

©Copyright. December 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.


“Murder Ballad” Kills It-A Review

dsc_3926The musical, Murder Ballad, running through November 20, 2016 in the  Howard Drew Theatre at the  Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) tells a tale of an affair gone bad. Unlike most love triangle stories, the adulterer here is a young mother and wife named Sara. Played by award-winning actress Leanne Hill Carlson, Sara escapes the doldrums of everyday married life and reconnects with former boyfriend Tom, played by Thomas Gjere. Their acrobatic use of bar counters and pool tables lends a creative steaminess to the love affair. Sara’s devoted husband, Michael, played by John E. Jones, loves her, despite her flaws and her obvious distaste of the drudgery of life- “Who will I be from 9-3?”

The story is narrated by the incredibly talented and humorous Mackenzie Dehmer who captivates the audience with her voice as well as her movements throughout the bar. The four-piece orchestra, seen on set, accentuates the drama but sometimes overpowers the voices.

A special highlight of this production is the functioning bar. An hour before start, guests are welcome to go on stage to order a drink, sit on a bar stool, play pool at the table, drop a quarter in the pinball machine or sit back and watch TV above the bar. Guests may even sit on the 12 bar seats at no additional cost during the performance.

Guest Reaction

Lyn and Natalie before showtime.
Lyn and Natalie before showtime.

Lyn Leach did. The stage is comfortable to him as an avid theater patron and actor. He’s starred in 8 productions and is the past president of the Lincoln Community Playhouse. He and his wife, Natalie, are OCP season subscribers who see about 50 shows a year, including recently seeing “Hamilton” in New York City.

Lyn admits, before attending the play, he knew nothing more about it than it was a musical, set in a bar and involved a murder. He enjoyed the wonderful voices most. “The purity of the harmonies and the notes they hit were impressive.”

“It was a fantastic show.  I loved the character development. I believed and understood each of them. And, I really liked the way the narrator worked the room and some of the comical places she ended up, which added life to her.”

Murder Ballad does contain situations of infidelity, adult language and mild violence. Lyn believes it’s especially appealing for a young, progressive audience. “I really love that OCP is making every effort to broaden its patron base by including more edgy and progressive plays. Their interesting and entertaining productions are at a level of quality far above the typical community theatre.”

Lyn sums up Murder Ballad this way. “It’s a musical that will take you on a journey of deception, sensuality, love, heartbreak, and above all, passion. It is one of the best overall productions in years at the Omaha Community Playhouse. As an audience member, you will feel like you are directly involved in the story. The music is phenomenal, the voices supreme, and the acting is outstanding. Get a ticket and experience the exhilarating journey yourself.”

Get a Ticket

Do this by calling the OCP Box Office at (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets are $42 for adults and $25 for students. Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $30 for adults and $20 for students.

A limited number of Twilight Tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. These are subject to availability.

Sponsored by:  Le Voltaire Restaurant/Le Petit Paris, The Berry & Rye, David and Anne Rismiller, Whitmore Charitable Trust and CW15 (media sponsor)

Location:  Howard Drew Theatre | Omaha Community Playhouse 6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132


©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.














2 Free Tickets-Omaha Community Playhouse

Tickets representative, not actual.

Win 2 Tickets to Murder Ballard at Omaha Community Playhouse

“Like” Linda Leier Thomason @haulingrocks on Facebook  & Comment: What’s Your favorite play or musical of all times.

Winner announced October 23, 2016.

Play runs October 14–November20, 2016

Howard Drew Theatre @ Omaha Community Playhouse

6915 Cass Street Omaha, NE 68132

Conceived by and with Book and Lyrics by Julia Jordan
Music and Lyrics by Juliana Nash

Murder Ballad is an intimate, sung-through indie-rock musical that tells the dramatic tale of a love triangle gone wrong. At the center of it all is Sara, a young mother and wife who seems to have it all but longs for her dangerous past and begins a love affair with her old boyfriend. As events unfold, the audience is along for the ride with every twist of the story. Murder Ballad is a steamy and fun thriller with a razor’s edge.

A special highlight of this production is the functioning bar in the Howard Drew Theatre. The house will open an hour before the performance (6:30 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show and 1:00 p.m. for a 2:00 p.m. show), and patrons are welcome to go on stage to order a drink, sit on a barstool, play pool at the pool table, drop a quarter in the pinball machine or sit back and watch the television above the bar. In addition to the usual theatrical seating, there are both floor seats and bar seats available for purchase, for those who would like to watch the story unfold from a slightly different angle. There is no additional charge for these 12 seats and patrons may choose those seats at time of the ticket purchase.





Mackenzie Dehmer – Narrator

Leanne Hill Carlson – Sara

John E. Jones – Michael

Thomas Gjere – Tom

The Omaha Community Playhouse is supported in part by the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Established in 1924, the Omaha Community Playhouse is the largest community theatre in the United States based on memberships sold and facility size, among other factors. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All  Rights Reserved.

“Sister Act” Review-Omaha Playhouse

Spirited, Joyous, Soulful

dbbThe people have spoken. They wildly endorse the cast and production of Sister Act.  The play runs September 16-October 16, 2016 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP). This Broadway smash musical comedy, based on the 1992 blockbuster movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, held the near capacity  crowd’s attention for 2+ hours Preview Night, September 15, 2016. The toe-tapping music, finely tuned choreography, well-timed set changes and captivating story line not only entertained but also demanded audience participation throughout.

From the moment Zhomontee Watson, starring as Deloris Van Cartier, a witness to a murder who’s placed in a convent for her own safety, hits the stage, her dominating presence is felt in words and song. She whips the nuns into master singers good enough to entertain the Pope. And, she leaves the audience standing and cheering at the play’s end as if the Nebraska Huskers finally  scored in the last few seconds of the fourth quarter to win a football game.

But Watson wasn’t alone in her stage dominance. The entire cast, orchestra and supporting crew were brilliant. Standout performers were “Sweaty Eddie” played by Marcel Daly, Mother Superior played by Judy Anderson and Sister Mary Robert played by Melissa King. The scene where Eddie imagines a life other than a police officer was dazzlingly performed and showcased the depth of his vocal and dance talent. Anderson was a convincing Mother Superior, especially relatable to Catholics. Her voice, oh, her voice-a gift from God. Her well-timed and delivered lines were believable and often left the audience in laughter. Playing Sister Mary Robert, King left no doubt that she’d find her way in life, having met and been influenced by streetwise Deloris. Her voice was pitch perfect. Her innocence and vulnerability obvious.

During Intermission guests were overheard talking about the humor, energy and spirit in the Theatre. Some commented about Monsignor’s (Cork Ramer) deep voice and the swagger and dance moves of the mobster actors.

VanessaVanessa Moore, a Methodist Health System Emergency Room Technician, who’s acted in plays and seen many OCP productions, proclaimed “Watson’s amazing. I love that she’s a local actress.” Even though she’s seen the movie before, Moore was anticipating Act II. “I’m curious to see how it’s all going to be “pulled together.”


20160915_204249Kiewit manager, Paul Fortier, shared Moore’s anticipation. “I’m wondering if Deloris will get kicked out of the convent.” Adding, “This is really good, and funny. Also, the singing is outstanding for a first performance.”




mercy-hs-studentMercy High School freshman, Madeline Riesberg, agreed. “The music is really good.” Some parts she didn’t understand, probably due to age. Certain words made her feel a tad uncomfortable. However, “This play makes me want to go to others. I’ll definitely talk about this at school tomorrow.”




It’s clear. This production will entertain diverse audiences throughout its run. Will you be lucky enough to secure a ticket to see it?

If so, look for the blue shoes. Marvel at the flawless set changes. Listen for the Johnny Carson reference. Don’t try any of the pick-up lines in public. You want to be able to go back to the Omaha Community Playhouse and see future productions.

Tickets available by calling 402.553.0800 or online at Omaha PlayHouse.

Comment below. Have you seen the play? Share your review.






©Copyright. September 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.