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Results may vary, but the plan is to post weekly, usually on Wednesdays. I'll be here. Hope you will, too!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Boys who Cook

When a mom is raising sons, she has to decide what kind of men she wants to raise. For me, raising men who cook was a top priority. (It's no coincidence that the romantic heroes in my books are often found in the kitchen.)

My dad always cooked. Although Mom usually did most of the cooking, Dad worked beside her--cutting up a salad, prepping fresh fruit and vegetables, chopping onions for the dish she was cooking. If Mom was the chef, Dad was the prep cook. When Mom was needed elsewhere, he could take over and run the whole show--which he frequently did. My brothers learned both by example and by being taught, invited into the kitchen and told how to help.

The family that raised my husband did not take the same approach. Though he is usually willing--and decades of experience have taught him how to throw a few kinds of meals together if necessary--Hubby prefers to bake goodies, his one great cooking expertise.

When our genetic mix produced sons, six of them, I was determined they would learn to cook. It worked well for most of them. The one great exception is the boy who took "Foods" four years in high school, but never really learned to cook anything.

My eldest can cook all kinds of foods, but like many men, he specializes in barbeque. His BBQ wins awards and gets him invitations to cook for crowds at parties and fund raisers. He's also a superior breakfast cook.

Son #2 is a chef. "Cooking is creation," he likes to say, "but baking is chemistry." While he largely leaves the baking to others, he subscribes to foodie magazines, watches the Food Network on TV, and experiments constantly with recipes. At the end of a stressful day, he unwinds in the kitchen, leaving his wife free to take on other duties such as helping the kids with homework.

One of his more enjoyable work conferences featured an onstage cooking performance and a meal prepared by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Anyone who knows my son will not be surprised to know that he skipped a chunk of the conference to introduce himself in the kitchen and ask, "Do you need any help?" He spent the rest of the day working side-by-side with the famous chef and even helping in his onstage show. Teaching this son to cook produced not only a fine household chef, but a bold and polished showman who loves the kitchen.

Like his showman brother, our youngest watches the Food Network, studies recipes, and experiments with variations. He's the one who created a "flying pig" for Thanksgiving last year. You've heard of the Turducken--the deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey and all of it stuffed with stuffing? The "flying pig" takes it one step farther with a layer of ham as well as some bacon in part of the stuffing. Talk about a gourmet treat! I felt rather smug when I saw what had come from teaching this son to cook.

Son #4, the one who spent most of three years living in Korea, has learned to prepare Korean food together with a number of other meals and can easily take over the kitchen if his wife is busy elsewhere or he just feels like it. So can Son #5, although he is generally less interested and tends to leave the cooking--except for the outdoor BBQ--to his wife.

It's been an adventure to see how my efforts to raise men who cook have produced such varied results--everything from the son who can hold his own with the best to the one who thinks micro-waving a hot dog is the height of culinary effort. It should also be mentioned here that I have one daughter, who is an excellent cook.

One never knows how parental teaching will play out, but I was gifted with cooks. My daughters-in-law, son-in-law, and grandchildren are glad I made the effort.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't be with her seven children, seven great kids-in-law, and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Grandchildren A to Z

When we were young and dumb and just beginning to plan our future life and family, The Waltons were on TV. Although we knew the romance of their situation was highly idealized, we liked the idea of a large, loving family with each member supporting every other. The Waltons had seven children.

Simultaneously we were cultivating the friendship of a man who became one of my husband's dearest friends, met my sister at our wedding, and eventually became my brother-in-law. His military family, while not ideal, seemed to have many of those same mutually-supportive qualities we had admired on TV. He was one of seven children.

It's easy to see where this is going and yes, by the time we were settled into our marriage and getting ready to start our family, we were thinking of seven children. It's fairly easy to see how that would go as well, but as I wrote earlier, we were young and dumb.

We even went so far as to decide our children would be closer if they were closer in age. Our eldest was barely twelve when our seventh was born. If we'd taken more time to consider, perhaps we would have organized matters a bit differently.

Now here we are, not a Walton clone in sight. Our children all have children of their own and our eldest grandchild, a handsome young man named Austin, recently married. Our family may be looking at yet another generation in the years soon to come.

We're human. Like other parents, we've made mistakes and I have to admit, I made some whoppers. While I have my regrets, I'm deeply grateful for my family. They have their share of mistakes, regrets, and differences as well, and that mutually-supportive vibe we looked for is quieted by distance: the seven of them are spread over six states. Still they make serious efforts to stay in touch and to back one another. They are all great people.

With the birth of our twenty-fifth grandchild last month--a handsome manchild named Zane, we now have grandchildren from A to Z. Most of them are too far away to know us well, but we are making the effort to see them as often as we reasonably can and we're trying to remain an important parts of their lives. The Waltons may have had a more idealized family, but they've got nothing on us.




Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't be with her seven children, seven great kids-in-law, and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest. 






Saturday, June 4, 2016

Confessions of a Carboholic

I love sugar! I know that does not exactly distinguish me from other red-blooded American women, but one thing does set me somewhat apart. I can't do the usual "chocoholic" binging--at least, not since the allergy developed.

Yes, I know what you're thinking: "Allergic to chocolate? How do you live?!" I wondered the same thing in the beginning, especially since it's not strictly speaking an allergy. It's more of a sensitivity, a sort of "Eat Chocolate = Get a Migraine" thing. At first I thought I couldn't live without the chocolate and occasionally indulged anyway. Now a thick slice of chocolate fudge layer cake looks like three days of misery. Suffice to say I'm no longer as tempted as I once was. I can still get away with an occasional chocolate chip cookie--if I don't push it too far, but that's the only chocolate fix I'm allowed these days. Still, avoiding chocolate doesn't save me from the rest of Sugar World.

If it's sweet, it's good to eat. At least that seems to be the way my psyche sees the world. I've sometimes heard people describe a certain dessert as too sweet or too rich for them. I wonder what they're talking about. To me, there's never such a thing as too sweet and too rich only describes certain billionaires.

If it were just the sugar, that would be bad enough, but I also crave almost any kind of baked goods. That includes cookies, cakes, pies--yes, all the super-sweet items you typically find at bake sales--but the not-so-sweet breads, rolls, and pastries too. If it's heavy on the carbs, it's destined to make me heavier as well.

I've discovered I can control the binging, but it takes quitting cold turkey, sometimes literally. Low-carb, high-protein diets work for me, but only after I beat that first two miserable weeks of craving and avoidance. Let's face it: My name is Susan and I'm a carboholic.

I'm coming to terms with the reality and learning just how common this form of addiction can be. It seems there are many closet carboholics among my relatives, friends and neighbors. I suspect some of you who are reading this may be hiding the same guilty pleasures and living in a constant love-hate balance with those delightful heavy-carb temptations and their siren-song aromas.

I know a few folks who've taken the plunge, declared themselves addicts, and sworn off every taste of anything made with sugar or flour. If you're among those brave souls, please accept my humble adoration. For now I'm content to hold that tiger by its tail and tease it until it turns on me. Hmmm... maybe there's a reason so many scenes in my books focus around kitchens and food. I'll think about that this evening ... while I'm baking.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't be with her seven children, seven great kids-in-law, and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest. 



Saturday, May 28, 2016

Big Events Coming!

Spring and summer are often the time for big events. May and June are filled with graduations. Mother's Day happens in May and Father's Day in June. June is also considered the month for weddings and consequently, for wedding anniversaries. In our family, we are experiencing answer d) All of the above.

Last month we traveled out of state to witness a grandson's baptism. Then we went on to another state to share in the birthdays of two other grandsons. A fourth grandson's eighteenth birthday, high school graduation, and plans for the future will take us across several states before June is over. Somewhere in the midst of it all, we have celebrated Mother's Day, five May birthdays and the birth of another grandson. Before June ends, we will celebrate our daughter's birthday, Father's Day, and our wedding anniversary. This May-June season will be filled to the brim with reasons to rejoice.

And we're just getting started. In June we meet to see off a brother and sister-in-law who are on their way to missionary service in India. We will see a grandson off for an adventure in another land and language. We will meet and celebrate with scattered family we seldom see and we will have opportunities to reach out to new people who may one day become family as our grandchildren grow older and introduce us to potential mates.

We are already papering our fridge with wedding invitations. Although some of those events will be too far away for us to attend, we are planning to be there for others. In the midst of it all, we sometimes wonder when we will have a chance to unpack.

Would we change a thing? Well, we might hope for some of those grand events to be a little closer or our schedules to allow us to get to more of them, but otherwise, no. We love all these lovely people and the great occasions we get to share with them. We can only hope good fortune will bring even more grand events and great occasions in the days, months and years to come.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't be with her seven children, seven great kids-in-law, and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest. 





Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mercury in Retrograde? Go for it!

They tell me Mercury is in retrograde. In fact, my friend Gina Ardito just did a great post on that very subject for the "classic and cozy" blog. I'm no expert on astrological phenomena, but if this is what happens when Mercury goes rogue, then I say GO FOR IT, MERCURY! Retrograde any time you like!

This month has been great to our family. We started with a visit to see an eight-year-old grandson (Eric) who was having a special event in his life. We hit a second peak this week with the birth of a new grandson (welcome, Zane!), and we'll cap off the month by traveling to the Midwest to celebrate another great event with our grandson who just turned eighteen. (Go, Tanis!)

In the meantime, California had an unpredicted rainstorm last night (our forecast still says partly cloudy although more than an inch has fallen), and our area has needed rain desperately. The whole state, at least as much of it as I can see, is in bloom--or seems to be. Birds are nesting, bees are humming, and a book that hadn't done well suddenly sold more than 500 copies in two weeks. I can't say that any of these events have been affected in the least by the movement of the zodiac, but I like them. I like them all very much!

As it happens, Mercury is a friend of mine. In my novel, MAGGIE RISING: ADVENTURES OF A PART-TIME PSYCHIC, the heroine's legal name is Eastern Star Rising. Her older brother is named ... you guessed it! ... Mercury Rising, and Merc is a cutie too.  If you should happen to look at my birth chart (something I haven't paid too much attention to, although I've seen it once or twice), you'll find that Mercury and I go back a l-o-n-g way. No wonder that planet is so good to me.

Okay, time to be honest: If Gina hadn't told me Mercury was in retrograde, I wouldn't have known. The fact is I haven't given too much thought to the movement of stars and planets. Still, given the marvelous events of these few weeks, I will likely confuse people in the future when I hear them complaining about Mercury going retrograde. If future experiences are anything like this time, I'll be happy to see Mercury acting up whenever and however it happens.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 14 novels, all available as e-books. She loves her northern California home which she shares with her husband of 46 years and the two spoiled cats they serve. When she can't hang out with her seven children and 25 grandbabies, she loves hanging with her fictional offspring, the children of her mind. She also loves hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.susanaylworth.com or find her @SusanAylworth, at .facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author, or on Pinterest.