Monthly Archives: October 2013

Platter Chatter: Food, As Explained By Kids

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
I love asking kids about the world around them; their answers never fail to delight me. It might be a few words or a complex paragraph, or it might be an “Are you bonkers?” expression and a forthright “I don’t know.”

Either way, I was pleased to have the chance to interview some of the kids in my life about food and where it comes from. We started with a silly question, just as an ice breaker.

Why are carrots orange?

J.D., age four:Because they grow in the dirt and rabbits love them.

Jesse, age seven:Because they first start out like a little plant, and then they grow up, and then they’re orange.

Lilia, age five:Because that’s the color they’re supposed to be.


Our next questions had to do with salad and lettuce. While J.D. confirmed that lettuce grows on trees (except for the pretend kind), the salad question called for a little more consultation.

Why is salad crunchy?

Serena, age ten:Because it has many crunchy vegetables and leaves in it.

Jesse: ‘Cause they have these root thingies in them; that’s what makes them crunchy.


These answers were borne out by Aliyah, age eight, who agreed that vegetables are the cause of crunchiness.

Where does milk come from?

Nessa, age eleven: Milk comes from cows. Then you take them into a machine that makes it all clean. Then you put it into a jug and sell it.

Jackie, age six: I think milk comes from cows, and then they milk the cows and then the store peoples buy the milk and sell it in the store.


Why are raisins sweet?

Xander, age nine: ‘Cause they’re dried grapes.

Jackie: Because they’re Nature’s food.


I figured that no food interview with kids would be complete without a discussion of cereal, so I asked.

How is cereal made?

J.D.: With milk.


Can’t argue with that. I switched tactics and rephrased the question. When asked where cereal comes from, Jesse and Lilia promptly answered, “The store!” Aliyah offered the opinion that factories are the source of cereal, while Xander announced with thoughtful honesty that he didn’t know exactly where cereal comes from.

Jackie: Like there’s little pans that are all squiggly and they pour batter that is all crispy, and then they put into the oven and let it cook for a little while. And then you put it into a cereal box, paint it, and then sell it in a store.

Nessa: Take the ingredients, mix them up, put them into the desired shape, and then pop them or make them all puffy or whatever. Then put ‘em into a box, put it into a truck, and then put it into the store.

Serena: I think it has a little bit of wheat in it. It kinda starts out as dough and they put it in the oven and it comes out crunchy, but I don’t know how they do that without it getting burnt.


Now that I’m thoroughly hungry, I think I’ll go eat a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies nice, big, healthy salad. But first, I’d like to mention my very special interview crew: J.D., Lilia, Jackie, Jesse, Aliyah, Xander, Serena, and Nessa. Thanks for all of your help!

Up for discussion: What is something you’ve always wanted to know about what you’re eating?

Platter Chatter: Food, As Explained By Kids

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
I love asking kids about the world around them; their answers never fail to delight me. It might be a few words or a complex paragraph, or it might be an “Are you bonkers?” expression and a forthright “I don’t know.”

Either way, I was pleased to have the chance to interview some of the kids in my life about food and where it comes from. We started with a silly question, just as an ice breaker.

Why are carrots orange?

J.D., age four:Because they grow in the dirt and rabbits love them.

Jesse, age seven:Because they first start out like a little plant, and then they grow up, and then they’re orange.

Lilia, age five:Because that’s the color they’re supposed to be.


Our next questions had to do with salad and lettuce. While J.D. confirmed that lettuce grows on trees (except for the pretend kind), the salad question called for a little more consultation.

Why is salad crunchy?

Serena, age ten:Because it has many crunchy vegetables and leaves in it.

Jesse: ‘Cause they have these root thingies in them; that’s what makes them crunchy.


These answers were borne out by Aliyah, age eight, who agreed that vegetables are the cause of crunchiness.

Where does milk come from?

Nessa, age eleven: Milk comes from cows. Then you take them into a machine that makes it all clean. Then you put it into a jug and sell it.

Jackie, age six: I think milk comes from cows, and then they milk the cows and then the store peoples buy the milk and sell it in the store.


Why are raisins sweet?

Xander, age nine: ‘Cause they’re dried grapes.

Jackie: Because they’re Nature’s food.


I figured that no food interview with kids would be complete without a discussion of cereal, so I asked.

How is cereal made?

J.D.: With milk.


Can’t argue with that. I switched tactics and rephrased the question. When asked where cereal comes from, Jesse and Lilia promptly answered, “The store!” Aliyah offered the opinion that factories are the source of cereal, while Xander announced with thoughtful honesty that he didn’t know exactly where cereal comes from.

Jackie: Like there’s little pans that are all squiggly and they pour batter that is all crispy, and then they put into the oven and let it cook for a little while. And then you put it into a cereal box, paint it, and then sell it in a store.

Nessa: Take the ingredients, mix them up, put them into the desired shape, and then pop them or make them all puffy or whatever. Then put ‘em into a box, put it into a truck, and then put it into the store.

Serena: I think it has a little bit of wheat in it. It kinda starts out as dough and they put it in the oven and it comes out crunchy, but I don’t know how they do that without it getting burnt.


Now that I’m thoroughly hungry, I think I’ll go eat a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies nice, big, healthy salad. But first, I’d like to mention my very special interview crew: J.D., Lilia, Jackie, Jesse, Aliyah, Xander, Serena, and Nessa. Thanks for all of your help!

Up for discussion: What is something you’ve always wanted to know about what you’re eating?

Halloween for Pickles!

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Halloween is my favorite holiday, although I prefer the lighter, fuzzier side of the celebration as compared to the scary/ghoulish side. Let others embrace the spiders and zombies and scary haunted houses. I prefer the pumpkins, colored leaves, corn mazes and candy! Lucky me, there’s plenty of lighter Halloween fare to be had. I offer much of it myself!


For instance, as part of my Coloring Page Tuesdays collection (I offer a free coloring page on my blog each week and have for over five years now), I have an entire section of Halloween images for you and your little ones–CLICK HERE!




I love to throw pumpkin carving parties where children clean out the gooey innards so we can roast seeds and carve toothy grinned jack-o-lanterns.


And on Halloween, my husband and I set up a bonfire in the driveway for the adults who stop by with their children. We have light cocktails, adult munchies, and lots of chairs to sit a spell. Each year, I’m pretty sure we have as much fun (if not more) than the kiddies. Our parties tend to keep going well into the evening—school night or not.





I also love the plethora of sweet Halloween picture books which come out each year, such as those I featured on my blog this month with my weekly book interviews/giveaways: Skeleton for Dinner written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry; Ol’ Clip Clop written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Ghost in the House written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record;  Zombelina written by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Molly Idle; and of course my own Lula’s Brew, written and illustrated by Yours Truly, about a young witch who would rather be a famous chef. (It’s available in electronic formats and in hardcover or paperback from your local indie bookseller.)


Of course, when this Halloween is over I’ll be off to my next favorite thing—celebrating the release of my debut historical fiction mid-grade (Little Pickle Press’ first mid-grade too), A Bird On Water Street. Look for it soon in ebook and print! (Click here to learn more.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Elizabeth O. Dulemba is an award-winning author/illustrator with a dozen titles to her credit. She is Illustrator Coordinator for the Southern SCBWI region, a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, and she teaches in the Hollins University MFA in writing and illustrating children’s books program each summer. Visit dulemba.com to learn more.

Halloween for Pickles!

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Halloween is my favorite holiday, although I prefer the lighter, fuzzier side of the celebration as compared to the scary/ghoulish side. Let others embrace the spiders and zombies and scary haunted houses. I prefer the pumpkins, colored leaves, corn mazes and candy! Lucky me, there’s plenty of lighter Halloween fare to be had. I offer much of it myself!


For instance, as part of my Coloring Page Tuesdays collection (I offer a free coloring page on my blog each week and have for over five years now), I have an entire section of Halloween images for you and your little ones–CLICK HERE!




I love to throw pumpkin carving parties where children clean out the gooey innards so we can roast seeds and carve toothy grinned jack-o-lanterns.


And on Halloween, my husband and I set up a bonfire in the driveway for the adults who stop by with their children. We have light cocktails, adult munchies, and lots of chairs to sit a spell. Each year, I’m pretty sure we have as much fun (if not more) than the kiddies. Our parties tend to keep going well into the evening—school night or not.





I also love the plethora of sweet Halloween picture books which come out each year, such as those I featured on my blog this month with my weekly book interviews/giveaways: Skeleton for Dinner written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry; Ol’ Clip Clop written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Ghost in the House written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record;  Zombelina written by Kristyn Crow and illustrated by Molly Idle; and of course my own Lula’s Brew, written and illustrated by Yours Truly, about a young witch who would rather be a famous chef. (It’s available in electronic formats and in hardcover or paperback from your local indie bookseller.)


Of course, when this Halloween is over I’ll be off to my next favorite thing—celebrating the release of my debut historical fiction mid-grade (Little Pickle Press’ first mid-grade too), A Bird On Water Street. Look for it soon in ebook and print! (Click here to learn more.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Elizabeth O. Dulemba is an award-winning author/illustrator with a dozen titles to her credit. She is Illustrator Coordinator for the Southern SCBWI region, a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, and she teaches in the Hollins University MFA in writing and illustrating children’s books program each summer. Visit dulemba.com to learn more.

Eating Locally: 5 Tips For Teaching Kids

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

The locavore movement is gaining momentum, and with good reason. As people discover the benefits of fresh, locally-grown foods and the environmental impact of small-radius imports, it becomes harder to resist a win-win situation. So, how do we pass this ideal on to our kids?

You could try not giving them any gas money, which would definitely ramp up the need for local dining, but that hardly counts as a teaching moment. Let’s have a look at five real ways to inspire the desire to be a locavore.

Map your strategy.Get a world map, a box of pins, and a list of foods. Read through the list, sticking a pin in the place from which each food is commonly sourced. It sounds like food voodoo, but it’s a great visual reminder of just how far a meal can travel before it hits your table.

Do the math.Okay, so figure three dollars (more or less) for a gallon of gas, and an optimistic twenty miles per gallon in your car. Throw in the cost of an accountant to figure it up because I’m lousy at math, and you can see that hauling lettuce five or six hundred miles becomes an outrageously expensive proposition, even before you consider the carbon footprint.

Take a tour.Seeing is believing when it comes to sourcing your food. Take your family to visit a local farm, especially if you’re lucky enough to live near one that follows organic practices. Getting an eyeful of the ins and outs of food production really brings home the need to keep things close.

Try a taste test.Buy a few different fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, and pick up some farmer’s market counterparts. Let your kids do a blindfolded taste test to see which is more palate-pleasing.

Create a cooking challenge. Group family members into teams, or have everybody work together on this one. The challenge is to plan, procure ingredients for, and prepare a meal using only ingredients from within a one hundred-mile radius. Many co-ops have labels indicating “miles traveled” by various food items, and even the youngest members of the family can enjoy looking for the lowest numbers.

These are just a few ideas to spark your culinary creativity. How many more can you come up with? Share your ideas in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Eating Locally: 5 Tips For Teaching Kids

By Audrey Lintner

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

The locavore movement is gaining momentum, and with good reason. As people discover the benefits of fresh, locally-grown foods and the environmental impact of small-radius imports, it becomes harder to resist a win-win situation. So, how do we pass this ideal on to our kids?

You could try not giving them any gas money, which would definitely ramp up the need for local dining, but that hardly counts as a teaching moment. Let’s have a look at five real ways to inspire the desire to be a locavore.

Map your strategy.Get a world map, a box of pins, and a list of foods. Read through the list, sticking a pin in the place from which each food is commonly sourced. It sounds like food voodoo, but it’s a great visual reminder of just how far a meal can travel before it hits your table.

Do the math.Okay, so figure three dollars (more or less) for a gallon of gas, and an optimistic twenty miles per gallon in your car. Throw in the cost of an accountant to figure it up because I’m lousy at math, and you can see that hauling lettuce five or six hundred miles becomes an outrageously expensive proposition, even before you consider the carbon footprint.

Take a tour.Seeing is believing when it comes to sourcing your food. Take your family to visit a local farm, especially if you’re lucky enough to live near one that follows organic practices. Getting an eyeful of the ins and outs of food production really brings home the need to keep things close.

Try a taste test.Buy a few different fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, and pick up some farmer’s market counterparts. Let your kids do a blindfolded taste test to see which is more palate-pleasing.

Create a cooking challenge. Group family members into teams, or have everybody work together on this one. The challenge is to plan, procure ingredients for, and prepare a meal using only ingredients from within a one hundred-mile radius. Many co-ops have labels indicating “miles traveled” by various food items, and even the youngest members of the family can enjoy looking for the lowest numbers.

These are just a few ideas to spark your culinary creativity. How many more can you come up with? Share your ideas in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Benefitting Women in Africa

By Kelly Wickham

I want to tell you three quick stories about some women in my life:
One: Last year I visited Ethiopia with a group of women called the ONE Moms and met some amazing women, all of whom are writers and social media giants. When we traveled there I met Asha Dornfest, co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, in the Washington, DC airport. We’d known one another online only for a few years and became fast friends. Asha shared with me her passion for helping moms and being an advocate for them and I, in turn, shared with her how women helped me during some very trying times in my life. I was a teen mom and took a lot of flak for it mostly from the adults in my life who weren’t shy about expressing their disappointment in me. Asha took that information and guarded it and cared for it in a way that made me grateful for compassionate women. 
Christine and Asha. Powerhouse authors and change agents. 

Two: While I was on another trip several years ago I met Christine Koh, the other co-author of Minimalist Parenting. Christine and I got to enjoy a blessed relaxing week at a resort and spa in St. George, Utah as brand ambassador panelists. While we hiked and shared our stories with one another I realized that Christine, like Asha, has a passion for helping women and finding ways in her own life to uplift them. At the time I met her, I was going through a personal crisis of my own about needing strong and powerful women in my life who would champion other women. I shared my teen pregnancy story with Christine, too, and instead of showing the usual disdain for my choices she cheered me on and taught me that when women support other women it is a beautiful thing. 
Three: My experiences as a teenage mother have not always been pleasant. I was a freshman in high school and my volleyball coach was upset with me for having to quit. At the time, she was trying to get pregnant herself and couldn’t, but I didn’t realize the harsh words she threw my way were in frustration for herself. My guidance dean told me I wasn’t going to amount to anything other than a welfare mom. A few of my teachers lowered their expectations for me and self-doubt crept in and took a look around and decided to camp out for the next decade or so. It was a time when I needed encouragement the most, and I was experiencing it the least. 
The reason these three stories are important for me today is because I was blessed with all these events. Yes, even the negative ones. They taught me a few things about how I wanted to be treated but also how I wanted to be able to treat other women going through tough times. On that trip to Ethiopia we visited the FashionABLE factory and met women who were taken out of the commercial sex trade industry and given the tools to create scarves that they could sell for fair trade prices. I have seen, firsthand, how important these kinds of life-changing purchases are. I came home from that visit and bought all my family members scarves last year, and I cherish the ones I purchased while I was there. They are my most precious possessions in my closet. 
Christine and Asha have decided to continue helping those women, and they are donating 100% of the royalties from the sale of their book during this month to Women at Risk, an organization that helps Ethiopian women lift themselves out of the harsh life of prostitution. 
I met these women, Christine and Asha, on a trip where I thought I’d be doing that thing, you know the thing? The thing where you feel empowered to go out and change the world not realizing at all that the world is changing you.

When you use this link you are helping to donate money to a fantastic cause and you get a copy of their book Minimalist Parenting as well.

Photo credit to Karen Walrond/ONE
Incidentally, Ethiopia is also where I met Rana DiOrio, the Chief Pickle here at Little Pickle Press. Like Asha and Christine, I found in her an amazing capacity for finding your passions and allowing them to dictate your life. The lessons I learned about meeting all three of these women is that I was wrong. The world wasn’t full of negative women tearing one another down. There were amazing women in the world and they wanted to change it for the better and, best of all, they started with themselves. I count all of them as friends who share a zest for life and a willingness to do what it takes to make the world better for their children and all children. 
Today is also the 3rd birthday of FashionABLE and they are running a special sale until the 25th (tomorrow!) where their entire online store is discounted 30%. This short 2-minute video has an important message about the power of your purchase and what it really looks like to buy fair trade and invest in women. 
There is a lot of good in the world. There is a lot of good to be done in the world. These are just two ways you can help make a difference and benefit women in a place where even the purchase of a book or a scarf can save someone’s life. I hope you’ll join Little Pickle Press today in using your purchasing power to change lives. I promise you that you’ll find yourself changed in the process.
You can join the online conversations that have been taking place during the month of October by following @minparenting on Twitter and by using the hashtag #HelpWomenAtRisk

Benefitting Women in Africa

By Kelly Wickham

I want to tell you three quick stories about some women in my life:
One: Last year I visited Ethiopia with a group of women called the ONE Moms and met some amazing women, all of whom are writers and social media giants. When we traveled there I met Asha Dornfest, co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, in the Washington, DC airport. We’d known one another online only for a few years and became fast friends. Asha shared with me her passion for helping moms and being an advocate for them and I, in turn, shared with her how women helped me during some very trying times in my life. I was a teen mom and took a lot of flak for it mostly from the adults in my life who weren’t shy about expressing their disappointment in me. Asha took that information and guarded it and cared for it in a way that made me grateful for compassionate women. 
Christine and Asha. Powerhouse authors and change agents. 

Two: While I was on another trip several years ago I met Christine Koh, the other co-author of Minimalist Parenting. Christine and I got to enjoy a blessed relaxing week at a resort and spa in St. George, Utah as brand ambassador panelists. While we hiked and shared our stories with one another I realized that Christine, like Asha, has a passion for helping women and finding ways in her own life to uplift them. At the time I met her, I was going through a personal crisis of my own about needing strong and powerful women in my life who would champion other women. I shared my teen pregnancy story with Christine, too, and instead of showing the usual disdain for my choices she cheered me on and taught me that when women support other women it is a beautiful thing. 
Three: My experiences as a teenage mother have not always been pleasant. I was a freshman in high school and my volleyball coach was upset with me for having to quit. At the time, she was trying to get pregnant herself and couldn’t, but I didn’t realize the harsh words she threw my way were in frustration for herself. My guidance dean told me I wasn’t going to amount to anything other than a welfare mom. A few of my teachers lowered their expectations for me and self-doubt crept in and took a look around and decided to camp out for the next decade or so. It was a time when I needed encouragement the most, and I was experiencing it the least. 
The reason these three stories are important for me today is because I was blessed with all these events. Yes, even the negative ones. They taught me a few things about how I wanted to be treated but also how I wanted to be able to treat other women going through tough times. On that trip to Ethiopia we visited the FashionABLE factory and met women who were taken out of the commercial sex trade industry and given the tools to create scarves that they could sell for fair trade prices. I have seen, firsthand, how important these kinds of life-changing purchases are. I came home from that visit and bought all my family members scarves last year, and I cherish the ones I purchased while I was there. They are my most precious possessions in my closet. 
Christine and Asha have decided to continue helping those women, and they are donating 100% of the royalties from the sale of their book during this month to Women at Risk, an organization that helps Ethiopian women lift themselves out of the harsh life of prostitution. 
I met these women, Christine and Asha, on a trip where I thought I’d be doing that thing, you know the thing? The thing where you feel empowered to go out and change the world not realizing at all that the world is changing you.

When you use this link you are helping to donate money to a fantastic cause and you get a copy of their book Minimalist Parenting as well.

Photo credit to Karen Walrond/ONE
Incidentally, Ethiopia is also where I met Rana DiOrio, the Chief Pickle here at Little Pickle Press. Like Asha and Christine, I found in her an amazing capacity for finding your passions and allowing them to dictate your life. The lessons I learned about meeting all three of these women is that I was wrong. The world wasn’t full of negative women tearing one another down. There were amazing women in the world and they wanted to change it for the better and, best of all, they started with themselves. I count all of them as friends who share a zest for life and a willingness to do what it takes to make the world better for their children and all children. 
Today is also the 3rd birthday of FashionABLE and they are running a special sale until the 25th (tomorrow!) where their entire online store is discounted 30%. This short 2-minute video has an important message about the power of your purchase and what it really looks like to buy fair trade and invest in women. 
There is a lot of good in the world. There is a lot of good to be done in the world. These are just two ways you can help make a difference and benefit women in a place where even the purchase of a book or a scarf can save someone’s life. I hope you’ll join Little Pickle Press today in using your purchasing power to change lives. I promise you that you’ll find yourself changed in the process.
You can join the online conversations that have been taking place during the month of October by following @minparenting on Twitter and by using the hashtag #HelpWomenAtRisk

The Growth of the Farm-to-Table Movement

By Kelly Wickham

Last summer I had a great opportunity to learn to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle while in Milwaukee. That, in and of itself, was quite an adventure that made me appreciate learning to do something new. But it wasn’t until our group got a chance to enjoy a meal at a popular farm-to-table restaurant that I started to ask questions about this movement I had been hearing so much about. What exactly is farm-to-table? I thought.

Luckily, I sat next to Stephanie Quilao, a foodie and creator of a new photo app that makes food pictures palatable.

(It’s a pretty great app, by the way, and I say that as someone who rarely photographs her food. Have you seen what happens when you snap a photo of mashed potatoes and gravy? It never looks good.) Stephanie explained that the farm-to-table concept is simply eating food that is bought locally and then sourced for consumers at a fresher and faster pace.

Celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tom Colicchio explains FTT in this video and yes, he admits that it is a buzzword.

Restaurants are picking up on the movement as a marketing tool, but that’s because many people are seeing the benefits of buying fresher meat and produce directly from farmers.

It’s something my family has practiced over the last several years. All this time our family has been practicing something that is suddenly popular! Who knew? Since I live in central Illinois I am surrounded by corn and soybeans and lots and lots of farms. Our family purchases a half a cow each year and stores the meat in our own home freezer. Naturally, I let the children name the cow Phil since he fills us up; each year we just get Phil Jr. and Phil III and so on. It’s about as farm-to-table as one can get in our area, but without a year-round farmer’s market, finding produce is much harder throughout the winter months.

At Roots in Milwaukee I found that the chefs are taking very basic foods and preparing them in remarkable ways.  It’s very appealing to the public because it’s new and innovative and gives people a way to experience the local foods in their area. When restaurants get in on this, they use foods in ways that help me understand how I can use them at home as well. The farm-to-table movement not only supports things like buying your locally sourced honey, which I use as a natural allergy remedy (Anecdotal evidence or not, it works for me!), but also encourages the use of fresh fruits and vegetables native to your area.

p.s. Besides the farm-to-table way of eating, my family is also dedicated to helping feed children the world over. Locally, I work with our food bank, but internationally, I support the World Food Program that helps feed children in their native countries with their own brand of farm-to-table. You can read more about that here.

Since this is near and dear to my heart, I am equally as excited by Diana Prichard’s upcoming book The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen, because if you want to teach children about what farm-to-table really means, Diana is just the farmer and children’s author to hear from on the topic. 

The Growth of the Farm-to-Table Movement

By Kelly Wickham

Last summer I had a great opportunity to learn to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle while in Milwaukee. That, in and of itself, was quite an adventure that made me appreciate learning to do something new. But it wasn’t until our group got a chance to enjoy a meal at a popular farm-to-table restaurant that I started to ask questions about this movement I had been hearing so much about. What exactly is farm-to-table? I thought.

Luckily, I sat next to Stephanie Quilao, a foodie and creator of a new photo app that makes food pictures palatable.

(It’s a pretty great app, by the way, and I say that as someone who rarely photographs her food. Have you seen what happens when you snap a photo of mashed potatoes and gravy? It never looks good.) Stephanie explained that the farm-to-table concept is simply eating food that is bought locally and then sourced for consumers at a fresher and faster pace.

Celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tom Colicchio explains FTT in this video and yes, he admits that it is a buzzword.

Restaurants are picking up on the movement as a marketing tool, but that’s because many people are seeing the benefits of buying fresher meat and produce directly from farmers.

It’s something my family has practiced over the last several years. All this time our family has been practicing something that is suddenly popular! Who knew? Since I live in central Illinois I am surrounded by corn and soybeans and lots and lots of farms. Our family purchases a half a cow each year and stores the meat in our own home freezer. Naturally, I let the children name the cow Phil since he fills us up; each year we just get Phil Jr. and Phil III and so on. It’s about as farm-to-table as one can get in our area, but without a year-round farmer’s market, finding produce is much harder throughout the winter months.

At Roots in Milwaukee I found that the chefs are taking very basic foods and preparing them in remarkable ways.  It’s very appealing to the public because it’s new and innovative and gives people a way to experience the local foods in their area. When restaurants get in on this, they use foods in ways that help me understand how I can use them at home as well. The farm-to-table movement not only supports things like buying your locally sourced honey, which I use as a natural allergy remedy (Anecdotal evidence or not, it works for me!), but also encourages the use of fresh fruits and vegetables native to your area.

p.s. Besides the farm-to-table way of eating, my family is also dedicated to helping feed children the world over. Locally, I work with our food bank, but internationally, I support the World Food Program that helps feed children in their native countries with their own brand of farm-to-table. You can read more about that here.

Since this is near and dear to my heart, I am equally as excited by Diana Prichard’s upcoming book The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen, because if you want to teach children about what farm-to-table really means, Diana is just the farmer and children’s author to hear from on the topic. 

Featured Customer of the Month: Perot Museum

By Cameron Crane



“There are still trillions of stars to identify. Millions of diseases to cure. Countless dinosaurs to uncover. Who will seek out these unknowns?”

This is the question the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in Dallas/Fort Worth asks its visitors to consider. “We need the Perot Museum of Nature and Science now more than ever to inspire our children to be the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” they continue. And that’s what they seek to do.

The Perot is designed to pique the desire and curiosity of young minds, by exposing them to 11 interactive exhibit halls , multimedia presentations, and vivid contextual displays—five floors all dedicated to exploring the ideas and concepts in science, math, and technology. Programmingat the Perot includes tactile exploration areas, discovery stations, workshops, demonstrations, lectures and symposia, field trips, labs, a teacher development center, after-school and summer classes, clubs, interactive media and more.


It appears the museum is doing its job of sparking an interest in science among the community, reaching one million visitors before its one year anniversary. Of course, the innovative design of the museum helps too. Called “the boldest piece of modern architecture to hit Dallas”, the 180,000 sq. ft. museum serves as an exhibit itself. With walls designed to represent the Earth’s strata, a system for capturing solar energy, amazing landscape architecture, and a cistern for collecting rainwater, the building inspires and excites.

From its exterior to its core, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is truly an inspiration. We are extraordinarily excited to have our books in their gift shop. 
A big thank you to the Perot, one of our partners in inspiring young minds!

Featured Customer of the Month: Perot Museum

By Cameron Crane



“There are still trillions of stars to identify. Millions of diseases to cure. Countless dinosaurs to uncover. Who will seek out these unknowns?”

This is the question the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in Dallas/Fort Worth asks its visitors to consider. “We need the Perot Museum of Nature and Science now more than ever to inspire our children to be the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” they continue. And that’s what they seek to do.

The Perot is designed to pique the desire and curiosity of young minds, by exposing them to 11 interactive exhibit halls , multimedia presentations, and vivid contextual displays—five floors all dedicated to exploring the ideas and concepts in science, math, and technology. Programmingat the Perot includes tactile exploration areas, discovery stations, workshops, demonstrations, lectures and symposia, field trips, labs, a teacher development center, after-school and summer classes, clubs, interactive media and more.


It appears the museum is doing its job of sparking an interest in science among the community, reaching one million visitors before its one year anniversary. Of course, the innovative design of the museum helps too. Called “the boldest piece of modern architecture to hit Dallas”, the 180,000 sq. ft. museum serves as an exhibit itself. With walls designed to represent the Earth’s strata, a system for capturing solar energy, amazing landscape architecture, and a cistern for collecting rainwater, the building inspires and excites.

From its exterior to its core, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is truly an inspiration. We are extraordinarily excited to have our books in their gift shop. 
A big thank you to the Perot, one of our partners in inspiring young minds!

5 Ways To Make Halloween Safe and Fun For Children of All Ages

by Kelly Wickham

Everyone in my family seems to have their own favorite holiday where they decorate their house, invite people over, and really go to town. I always wanted mine to be Halloween but for years we lived in an unincorporated part of town that had no street lights so I ended up taking my children to neighboring subdivisions to go Trick-or-Treating. Often, we spent time at youth group functions and community related parties, but I still longed to host a really great Halloween someday.

By the time we moved into the house we live in now, only one child was still in school and he was in high school so trying to make Halloween my thing became a moot point. What surprised us, however, was that this new neighborhood was totally into Halloween. Everyone decorates and comes out in their driveway and gathers together in groups to make it almost seem like a block party. Parents meet up with other parents and enjoy bonfires and food while the kids take turns being carted around to the houses for candy. In fact, I noticed that cars dropped off loads of kids to come get candy in our neighborhood! Finally! I thought. This feels like Halloween.

Now that we live in a place where Halloween is top priority (because of the candy, obviously) I’ve learned a few things from the parents who live near me about keeping children safe during this fun holiday. Many of these ideas incorporate technology since even young children have cell phones and smart phones these days. Why not use it for good, right?
            SAFETY FIRST: VISION. Make sure costumes provide adequate vision. Since masks can obstruct views and many children love this part of dressing up, consider doing face paint instead. (Here’s a fantastic site for ideas that are DIY.) Bonus: make sure costumes don’t drape too long (especially if there’s a cape involved) so children don’t fall down. There’s nothing worse than falling in the dark. Talk about scary!

2         LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Create a map that you plan to follow with your children. Older kids who want to go alone might want to use something like Trick or Tracker, an app that uses GPS to see where they are in the neighborhood. There’s a “geo-fence” that you can enable that notifies the parent when children go out of the boundaries you set. If you don’t plan on going out for Trick or Treating on Halloween, you can always find tons of related games to play at the App Store, too. (Bonus: here are 30 Halloween apps for both iPhone and Android.)

3        MONITOR CANDY INTAKE. If your children are like mine were you might want to dole out the candy they collect a little at a time. Every single one of mine found themselves with tummy aches from eating too much so they are required to turn it in to me and they can request a few pieces at a time. It doesn’t hurt that mom got to pick out a few, too! Yes, there’s an app for that as well called the Pumpkin-O-Meter that kids can use that let them know about the health of eating all that candy.

           GO INSPECTOR MODE. We played the “What If” game with our children so that they were prepared for something going wrong once they were old enough to be out with their friends. While I didn’t follow them around or even have all these great cell phone apps to track my kids, I did speak with them about their reactions about things that could happen. It’s not meant to scare children, but it opens a dialogue with them. For example, What if all your friends take off on you? What would you do then?


5         STAY OUTSIDE. The only rules we had for the children when they would trick-or-treat with friends as they got older was to periodically check in and never ever go inside a stranger’s home. If they were with a group it was far less likely to happen. Quiz your children and their friends about the rules they think should apply as they enjoy Halloween. Make sure they all know this rule about staying outside at all times. 
      Finally, be careful and have fun! There are a lot of ways to be safe during the only holiday that requires you visit strange homes and beg for sugar. Do you have any tips to add to this to keep children safe during Halloween?

      A great book to share with younger children if you need to start the conversation is What Does It Mean to Be Safe? by our very own Rana DiOrio. You can check that out here.

5 Ways To Make Halloween Safe and Fun For Children of All Ages

by Kelly Wickham

Everyone in my family seems to have their own favorite holiday where they decorate their house, invite people over, and really go to town. I always wanted mine to be Halloween but for years we lived in an unincorporated part of town that had no street lights so I ended up taking my children to neighboring subdivisions to go Trick-or-Treating. Often, we spent time at youth group functions and community related parties, but I still longed to host a really great Halloween someday.

By the time we moved into the house we live in now, only one child was still in school and he was in high school so trying to make Halloween my thing became a moot point. What surprised us, however, was that this new neighborhood was totally into Halloween. Everyone decorates and comes out in their driveway and gathers together in groups to make it almost seem like a block party. Parents meet up with other parents and enjoy bonfires and food while the kids take turns being carted around to the houses for candy. In fact, I noticed that cars dropped off loads of kids to come get candy in our neighborhood! Finally! I thought. This feels like Halloween.

Now that we live in a place where Halloween is top priority (because of the candy, obviously) I’ve learned a few things from the parents who live near me about keeping children safe during this fun holiday. Many of these ideas incorporate technology since even young children have cell phones and smart phones these days. Why not use it for good, right?
            SAFETY FIRST: VISION. Make sure costumes provide adequate vision. Since masks can obstruct views and many children love this part of dressing up, consider doing face paint instead. (Here’s a fantastic site for ideas that are DIY.) Bonus: make sure costumes don’t drape too long (especially if there’s a cape involved) so children don’t fall down. There’s nothing worse than falling in the dark. Talk about scary!

2         LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Create a map that you plan to follow with your children. Older kids who want to go alone might want to use something like Trick or Tracker, an app that uses GPS to see where they are in the neighborhood. There’s a “geo-fence” that you can enable that notifies the parent when children go out of the boundaries you set. If you don’t plan on going out for Trick or Treating on Halloween, you can always find tons of related games to play at the App Store, too. (Bonus: here are 30 Halloween apps for both iPhone and Android.)

3        MONITOR CANDY INTAKE. If your children are like mine were you might want to dole out the candy they collect a little at a time. Every single one of mine found themselves with tummy aches from eating too much so they are required to turn it in to me and they can request a few pieces at a time. It doesn’t hurt that mom got to pick out a few, too! Yes, there’s an app for that as well called the Pumpkin-O-Meter that kids can use that let them know about the health of eating all that candy.

           GO INSPECTOR MODE. We played the “What If” game with our children so that they were prepared for something going wrong once they were old enough to be out with their friends. While I didn’t follow them around or even have all these great cell phone apps to track my kids, I did speak with them about their reactions about things that could happen. It’s not meant to scare children, but it opens a dialogue with them. For example, What if all your friends take off on you? What would you do then?


5         STAY OUTSIDE. The only rules we had for the children when they would trick-or-treat with friends as they got older was to periodically check in and never ever go inside a stranger’s home. If they were with a group it was far less likely to happen. Quiz your children and their friends about the rules they think should apply as they enjoy Halloween. Make sure they all know this rule about staying outside at all times. 
      Finally, be careful and have fun! There are a lot of ways to be safe during the only holiday that requires you visit strange homes and beg for sugar. Do you have any tips to add to this to keep children safe during Halloween?

      A great book to share with younger children if you need to start the conversation is What Does It Mean to Be Safe? by our very own Rana DiOrio. You can check that out here.

My Yellow Umbrella

Reviewed by Cameron Crane

“It’s not raining, cloudy, or even a bit overcast. It is the perfect day for my yellow umbrella.”

I’ve read a lot of picture books in the last few years, and it has been a blessing. How many 25-year-olds have the liberty to shop the children’s section every time they enter a bookstore? Not enough, in my opinion.

The deeper I dive into the world of children’s literature, the more I realize that a good picture book fills you with nostalgia, and a fleeting desire to be a child again. But a truly great picture book makes you forget that you’re not a child anymore. Turning each page becomes an exciting adventure, and age fades away as you lose yourself in silly illustrations and short, poetic, sentences—simple but profound.

That’s what happened when I read My Yellow Umbrella, by Chris Robertson. This beautiful story follows a day in the life of an imaginative girl and her favorite yellow umbrella. This is not an ordinary yellow umbrella. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be raining to use it! No, thisyellow umbrella is a ticket to all the goodness in the world, and when the little girl opens it, she is filled with an extraordinary optimism and happiness.

I had the good fortune of reading My Yellow Umbrella in its early stages of development, shortly after meeting Chris Robertson at the LA Times Festival of Books a couple years back. I fell in love with the book the moment I read it, and almost remarkably, it has continued to evolve since then. It is what I am looking for every time I enter the children’s section of my favorite bookstore.

I highly recommend reading this book with your little ones. From its unique and quirky illustrations to its dreamy poetic verse, this book is truly a must-read.

Download My Yellow Umbrella to your Kindle today!

My Yellow Umbrella

Reviewed by Cameron Crane

“It’s not raining, cloudy, or even a bit overcast. It is the perfect day for my yellow umbrella.”

I’ve read a lot of picture books in the last few years, and it has been a blessing. How many 25-year-olds have the liberty to shop the children’s section every time they enter a bookstore? Not enough, in my opinion.

The deeper I dive into the world of children’s literature, the more I realize that a good picture book fills you with nostalgia, and a fleeting desire to be a child again. But a truly great picture book makes you forget that you’re not a child anymore. Turning each page becomes an exciting adventure, and age fades away as you lose yourself in silly illustrations and short, poetic, sentences—simple but profound.

That’s what happened when I read My Yellow Umbrella, by Chris Robertson. This beautiful story follows a day in the life of an imaginative girl and her favorite yellow umbrella. This is not an ordinary yellow umbrella. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be raining to use it! No, thisyellow umbrella is a ticket to all the goodness in the world, and when the little girl opens it, she is filled with an extraordinary optimism and happiness.

I had the good fortune of reading My Yellow Umbrella in its early stages of development, shortly after meeting Chris Robertson at the LA Times Festival of Books a couple years back. I fell in love with the book the moment I read it, and almost remarkably, it has continued to evolve since then. It is what I am looking for every time I enter the children’s section of my favorite bookstore.

I highly recommend reading this book with your little ones. From its unique and quirky illustrations to its dreamy poetic verse, this book is truly a must-read.

Download My Yellow Umbrella to your Kindle today!

Relief for Ranchers

By Kelly Wickham
Image Credit: movingtofreedom.com
My mom grew up on a farm in a small town in South Dakota called Lemmon. Not only does it have an adorable name, but it’s a tiny town with a lot of heart. At first, my mom and her family lived on an actual working farm and then later moved into town to a house. While now deserted, the farm stood as an eerie reminder of the past when we visited it almost 15 years ago when we took a trip out there to see my grandmother. Whipping winds, dilapidated siding, and a vast prairie dotted with hills and cattle from the next farm over greeted us but nothing so warmly as my grandmother’s stories about The Farm.
It’s a long way from how my sisters and I were raised within the city limits of a huge city, but we loved the farm and all the stories that came with it. The time the sheep took off in a snowstorm and my grandparents searched high and low for them until they found them far from home only to dig them out and transport them back home since they were lost. My grandmother, Maggie, tells that story with tears in her eyes because she can remember how sad it was to have lost a few of them and how difficult a harrowing night that was. She and my grandfather, Johnnie, leaned on their shovels at the end of the excruciating work and cried their eyes out from exhaustion.
So, when fellow Little Pickle author, friend, and fellow ONE Mom Diana Prichard wrote the following on her Facebook page last week, it struck a nerve with me. I imagined exactly the scene she was describing and, since I still have family in the Dakotas, I gave right away. Here’s what she said:
I can’t imagine the pain of losing our herd to a natural disaster but that’s exactly what ranchers in last week’s blizzard zone are dealing with right now. Thousands of head of livestock lost their lives when Mother Nature dumped as much as five feet of wet snow and staggeringly strong winds blew them across the pastures they call home. Money will never be able to replace the piece of the ranchers’ hearts that went with those animals, nor the individual animals themselves. What it will do is help ranchers get back on their feet and continue to make a living. If you can spare even $5 please consider giving to the cause.

I learned that the Black Hills Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives to charities in the Black Hills area in South Dakota. The Rancher Relief Fund was established last week to help provide support and relief assistance to the agricultural industry that was hit by the blizzard that took place between October 4-7, 2013. They are working with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association to help the ranchers and we hope that if you are so inclined that you might be willing to give, too.
Thanks, Diana, for giving us something real and tangible to do for the ranchers and for reminding me how connected we all are since farmers do the amazing work of feeding us.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you have small children that you’d like to introduce to the farming industry with a delightful story about where our food comes from, consider purchasing Diana’s book The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. It’s a charming story with adorable illustrations that will surely be a conversation starter for families. 

Relief for Ranchers

By Kelly Wickham
Image Credit: movingtofreedom.com
My mom grew up on a farm in a small town in South Dakota called Lemmon. Not only does it have an adorable name, but it’s a tiny town with a lot of heart. At first, my mom and her family lived on an actual working farm and then later moved into town to a house. While now deserted, the farm stood as an eerie reminder of the past when we visited it almost 15 years ago when we took a trip out there to see my grandmother. Whipping winds, dilapidated siding, and a vast prairie dotted with hills and cattle from the next farm over greeted us but nothing so warmly as my grandmother’s stories about The Farm.
It’s a long way from how my sisters and I were raised within the city limits of a huge city, but we loved the farm and all the stories that came with it. The time the sheep took off in a snowstorm and my grandparents searched high and low for them until they found them far from home only to dig them out and transport them back home since they were lost. My grandmother, Maggie, tells that story with tears in her eyes because she can remember how sad it was to have lost a few of them and how difficult a harrowing night that was. She and my grandfather, Johnnie, leaned on their shovels at the end of the excruciating work and cried their eyes out from exhaustion.
So, when fellow Little Pickle author, friend, and fellow ONE Mom Diana Prichard wrote the following on her Facebook page last week, it struck a nerve with me. I imagined exactly the scene she was describing and, since I still have family in the Dakotas, I gave right away. Here’s what she said:

I can’t imagine the pain of losing our herd to a natural disaster but that’s exactly what ranchers in last week’s blizzard zone are dealing with right now. Thousands of head of livestock lost their lives when Mother Nature dumped as much as five feet of wet snow and staggeringly strong winds blew them across the pastures they call home. Money will never be able to replace the piece of the ranchers’ hearts that went with those animals, nor the individual animals themselves. What it will do is help ranchers get back on their feet and continue to make a living. If you can spare even $5 please consider giving to the cause.

I learned that the Black Hills Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives to charities in the Black Hills area in South Dakota. The Rancher Relief Fund was established last week to help provide support and relief assistance to the agricultural industry that was hit by the blizzard that took place between October 4-7, 2013. They are working with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association to help the ranchers and we hope that if you are so inclined that you might be willing to give, too.
Thanks, Diana, for giving us something real and tangible to do for the ranchers and for reminding me how connected we all are since farmers do the amazing work of feeding us.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you have small children that you’d like to introduce to the farming industry with a delightful story about where our food comes from, consider purchasing Diana’s book The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. It’s a charming story with adorable illustrations that will surely be a conversation starter for families. 

Libraries We Love: San Antonio Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Graphic courtesy of SAPL
World War I posters, Native American Heritage Month, and the Young Pegasus Annual Poetry Competition; what do these things have in common? They’re all being spotlighted at the San Antonio Public Library!

With twenty-two locations and a lengthy list of resources, the San Antonio Public Library is definitely one of the Libraries We Love. According to their mission statement, the aim of the SAPL is to change lives “through the transformative power of information, imagination, and ideas.” Using a creative array of services and programs, SAPL staffers do just that.

Carefully organized databases help patrons retrieve information on everything from academics to world history, while age-appropriate events appeal to toddlers, tweens, and teens. A colorful scrolling bar on the website highlights new arrivals, and site visitors can download monthly event calendars.

With the whole world just a click away, there’s a lot to love about the San Antonio Public Library. What will you read first?

Up for discussion: Have you used Interlibrary Loan? What’s the farthest a book has traveled to get to you?

Libraries We Love: San Antonio Public Library

By Audrey Lintner

Graphic courtesy of SAPL
World War I posters, Native American Heritage Month, and the Young Pegasus Annual Poetry Competition; what do these things have in common? They’re all being spotlighted at the San Antonio Public Library!

With twenty-two locations and a lengthy list of resources, the San Antonio Public Library is definitely one of the Libraries We Love. According to their mission statement, the aim of the SAPL is to change lives “through the transformative power of information, imagination, and ideas.” Using a creative array of services and programs, SAPL staffers do just that.

Carefully organized databases help patrons retrieve information on everything from academics to world history, while age-appropriate events appeal to toddlers, tweens, and teens. A colorful scrolling bar on the website highlights new arrivals, and site visitors can download monthly event calendars.

With the whole world just a click away, there’s a lot to love about the San Antonio Public Library. What will you read first?

Up for discussion: Have you used Interlibrary Loan? What’s the farthest a book has traveled to get to you?

Tomorrow is National Farmer’s Day

By Cameron Crane

Did you know that tomorrow is National Farmers Day?

Until recently, neither did I. But the journey from farm to fork has been top-of-mind this month, as Little Pickle Press inches closer to the release of the The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen, our newest picture book by Diana Prichard. Of course, most of our food would never make it to our forks without the help of America’s dedicated farmers.

National Farmers Day, formally known as Old Farmers Day, honors the hard labor of farmers throughout American history. Falling on the 12th of October, the holiday recognizes the end of the harvest, a time when farmers have a moment to rest and enjoy the celebration.

Many cities and towns throughout the country celebrate this holiday with local festivals and activities. Whether you are dancing in the street or sitting quietly at home tomorrow, please take a moment to honor and thank your local farmers.

Here are 10 Fantastic Ways to Support Your Local Farmers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Looking for more ways to celebrate farmers with your children?

Start the conversation about where food comes from with our the hilarious eBook version of The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen