The Mom Con in Pittsburgh

the mom con Pittsburgh

Nov. 15 – Don’t miss this!

There’s buzz, no doubt about it, surrounding The Mom Con happening in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15, 2014! It’s going to be a great event this year and although I’m not able to attend as a vendor for family reasons, I have to say I’m excited to still be involved and learning from the organizers.

The theme for this year’s event is “Inspiring, Connecting and Empowering” and frankly I’ve felt all of those things even before going to the event! I’ve been learning about the businesses and vendors that will be there and I’ve been inspired by the founding moms. I’ve connected with other moms at pre-Mom Con events. And I’ve felt empowered to reach out and try some new events outside of my comfort zone.

Check out this list of speakers  and the schedule. There are still tickets available and if you haven’t gotten yours, I suggest you get them soon!

 

 

Why Farm to Table is Great for Kids and Families

 

Farm to table Pittsburgh

March 21-22, 2014

This weekend is the 8th annual Farm to Table Conference in Pittsburgh! I am really excited to be involved in this year’s event again. The theme for this year is Food Sources and the conference again offers lots of excellent activities for children. The conference has always been family friendly, but a new feature of this year’s conference is the special Kids’ Track of programs! Both Friday and Saturday there will be programs and speakers just for kids and families. The Kids’ Track is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of eating healthy, local food. And if you’re not already convinced to bring your kids downtown, remember that kids under 12 are free!

We are so lucky to have this event in Pittsburgh. I recently spoke at the Parenting Expo here in Pittsburgh and discussed how helping children experience food with all of their senses increases their comfort level with foods and can help them learn to try new foods. Growing foods, shopping at farmer’s markets, attending events like Farm to Table and seeing gorgeous photos of fresh foods being grown, even meeting our local farmers, are all positive ways to help children develop a willingness to try new foods.

I’m so excited to be a part of the Kids’ Track on both days. On Friday, I’ll be hosting a special Tasting Party for kids, and on Saturday I’ll be hosting the Super Fun Local Food Challenge School Assembly! Both of these programs are available as school classroom workshops or assemblies and work with the Social Studies standards for Pennsylvania schools.

Of course in addition to these programs there’s the Local Food Tasting on Friday night and the Saturday Networking Breakfast. Both events are hugely popular. By the time I got to the Saturday breakfast last year all of the food was gone – it was so good no one left a crumb!

I’ll have an exhibitor table again and I’ll offer an encore to last year’s very popular Pizza on a Stick Tasting Party. My boys love coming to Farm to Table and roaming the tables, trying everything from local honey to local cheese, pickled vegetables, fresh milk, apples and more. This year I have decided to get one of those mushroom logs. I love mushrooms and Pennsylvania is the nation’s leading producer of these tasty fungi!

Looking forward to seeing you at the 2014 Farm to Table Conference. Bring the kids, stop by and say hello!

 

National Novel Writing Month 2013

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2013

Start writing!

It’s almost National Novel Writing Month! Are you tackling the challenge this year? I didn’t win my first year (2011) but I did win last year (2012) after a massive, 7000 words in one day final push at the end of the month. I have a much different plan for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I have a strong plot outline that I’m using as the foundation for the story, I know my characters’ backstories and innermost desires. I’m ready to do this. Are you?

Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about what leads to success in my writing. I often have to think for several days, even weeks, about what I want to write before I sit down and put the words to paper or laptop screen. It helps my writing for ideas to ferment in my brain for awhile. I’m so curious about how other people tackle their writing. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped acting on story impulses, but I think I’ve matured a little and am producing better work when I remind myself that time and careful thought before I begin the act of writing adds value.

So what works best for your writing? Working frantically on spontaneous ideas or slowing coaxing a story into life?

If you want to find me and add me as a writing buddy during NaNoWriMo, search for me under the name OneSweetWriter. Good luck!

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Tips for Attending a Writing Conference for the First Time

writing conference

SCBWI is on Twitter @SCBWI

This fall I’m heading to my first writing conference, the Western PA regional conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This conference is in Pittsburgh so I will be able to ease into it without the stress of travel and being in a strange city. But in February 2014 I’ll be heading to my second writing conference, the big SCBWI conference in New York City. As a member of the SCBWI, I have access to a really excellent local critique group. One of the other members in this local critique group recently went to her first writing conference. I asked her what she learned after this first one, and her advice and insights were so excellent I felt I had to share them here with you!

Tips for Your First Writing Conference

I attended the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference in Cleveland.  I was excited and nervous and secretly looking forward to a break from my usual weekend routine of kids and running them around!

I am a creature of habit so once I found a table to sit at for dinner, I went back again for lunch the next day.  I wouldn’t do this again, it is better to mingle and try and meet more people.

If you click with someone ask them what sessions they went to and what they learned.  Also, what sessions they are going to and have them report back in.  I had a hard time picking what I should be attending, so this was nice, it gave me a clue to what I was missing out on (you can’t do it all!) and let me share what I learned with others, helping commit it to memory.  It is a bit of an information overload.  If you are going with a writing group I would try and structure it so you cover as many workshops as possible and debrief each other later.  Alas, I was by myself!

Ask others how their critiques went, I had a couple random people let me read theirs.  It is helpful, even if you don’t know the whole context of the story.

Before attending write what your story / stories are about in three short sentences.  This will help you be concise if asked by someone what you are working on or what you have written.  Plus, you sound more professional.

I would also pay better attention to who the keynote speakers are when signing up for workshops.  The agents and editors present were all keynote speakers and I had also signed up for sessions with them.  This was good and bad.  Good, because I got to know them better.  Bad, because some of the information from their workshops was a bit redundant with their keynote addresses.  In the future I think this would help me pick between two workshops I really wanted to attend.

Another interesting note is both the agents ended up attending one of the workshops an editor gave that I signed up for. Makes total sense now that they might do this and it also provides another opportunity to sit next to an agent and get to know them.

Final thought – it was really exhausting!  I was surprised how tired I was.  You get so much info and at the same time are thinking about your stories and what you need to do.  It sets your mind is spinning.  It is fabulous and inspirational.

OK – that’s it, hope you find it helpful!
Amy

Fun Food for Your Picky Preschooler

I know it’s tough to to the parent of a picky preschooler. They are not at the age when you can reason with them and their tastes change so quickly, it can feel so frustrating. But there’s another way to approach the challenge: make it fun.

I was so lucky to visit a Bright Horizons class this summer and bring one of my Tasting Party workshops. There was more than one picky preschooler in attendance. I was bringing some new foods to them to try so we decided to make it fun. Making pizza on a stick all by themselves was a delightful adventure. Take a look at these brave little faces!

picky preschooler

Do it yourself – it tastes better!

 

 

 

Fun for these kids means hands-on and the opportunity to examine the food options as much as possible before tasting it.They looked closely at the food, smelled it, touched it and then finally nibbled and tried! More than one child tried tomatoes for the first time. Not everybody liked them but they were giggling and chatting and no one whined! Can you imagine that kind of dinner?

picky preschooler

No one can resist food on a stick

Skinny Pete’s Kitchen growing among family friendly restaurants in Pittsburgh

Farm to Family Skinny Pete's

Pittsburgh families deserve delicious food!

Who’s hungry? Join me at Skinny Pete’s in Avalon for Farm to Family, a fantastic new option and from one of the truly family friendly restaurants in Pittsburgh. Parents, grandparents and kids can come together to enjoy a special meal in a relaxed fun atmosphere.

Kids get to create their own meal while adults can take a breather and enjoy fresh farm-to-table offerings from Skinny Pete’s. Kids also get their own copy of My Food Notebook to record the foods they’ve tried.

We need more opportunities for families to enjoy delicious food in a family-friendly setting – and Skinny Pete’s is making it happen. Even if you can’t stay for dinner each meal is available for carry out.  Make your reservations today and stay connected with Skinny Pete’s on Facebook. 

Farm to Table Pittsburgh 2013

I’ll be at the Farm to Table Conference this weekend, hosting a table and a workshop on Saturday called “Kid’s Tasting Party.” Our family really enjoyed Farm to Table last year and we love supporting our local farms. If you’re in Pittsburgh, join us!

2013-Farm-to-Table-Conference-Handout

Classroom Workshops featuring The Bumpy, Grumpy Road

DSCN0311I love visiting schools and sharing The Bumpy, Grumpy Road with kids. They all understand exactly the challenges that the main character Dylan faces – siblings who borrow their toys, sibling who don’t listen. And they all struggle with how to handle those challenges.

I recently spoke with a parent who shared that she wants to give her children good advice on handling the rough patches in life but isn’t sure how to tell them in words they can understand.

The Bumpy, Grumpy Road shows kids that life’s challenges are better handled with positive words and calm feelings. My classroom workshops give them a chance to tell their own story of challenges and solutions.

Does your child struggle with grumpiness or frustration? Is your child’s classroom looking for a great program to discuss the tough times kids face and how to handle them? I’m happy to visit and share The Bumpy, Grumpy Road and simple activities to encourage positive behavior! 

 

Ideas for Picky Eaters

Last weekend, Marty’s Market hosted the official launch of My Food Notebook. Lots of kids and families stopped by to try new foods and used pages from My Food Notebook to record their opinions. While not too many were eager to try to the almond-pine-nut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, the grilled cheese on sourdough and chocolate meringue cupcakes went fast!

Kids who tried a food and journaled about the food could enter to win free copies of My Food Notebook or gift certificates to Marty’s Market. The agave gummy bears were a big hit at the market. Special thanks to Porter Loves Photography for these excellent photographs of the event!

Look for a giveaway for more Marty’s Market gift certificates in January – I love celebrating great local businesses!

 

Even my selective eater tried something new!

First try at My Food Notebook

A delicious spread thanks to Marty’s Market!

Book Launch and Tasting Party!

All are welcome!