Anniversary Blog Fest: Amanda Usen

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
It has actually been a backwards vacation for me! When the kids are in school, I write during the day, but when they are home…I bribe them! The first thing I did was print out calendars of the summer months and tape them to a poster board. Then the kids and I brainstormed all the fun things we love to do during the summer: blueberry picking, going to Fantasy Island, baking treats, visiting my family in Cincinnati, etc. By the time we were done, we had enough ideas for every day of summer! But I wrote at the top of the poster: Mom works until ten am.

It had to be done.

Everyone in the family knows I get a little squirrelly when I have deadlines and I don’t have time to work. Since my second culinary romance, Luscious, was coming out in July, I had to plan ahead. There were over a dozen stops on my blog tour to write, a Luscious release party at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards to plan, a Barnes & Noble book signing to survive and tons of stuff to pack for the Romance Writers of America Conference in Anaheim. I was freaking out, but I was determined to be fun mom, not crazy mom, this summer. Balance is my mantra! And my yoga intention. And my nemesis…

Next up is our Cincinnati visit. My oldest begged to go down to my father’s log cabin in Kentucky, so we’re planning a day trip across the river while we’re there. While the kids are running wild with their cousins, I’m going to hunker down with an entire pint of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream. I dream about Graeter’s ice cream. I haven’t found its equal anywhere, and I try a lot of ice creams. Their chocolate chip flavors are unique. Eating them is like mining for chocolate gold. At any moment you might come up with a nugget the size of a bird’s egg – and it’s the good stuff. The chocolate melts in your mouth, even when your tongue is cold because you’ve already worked your way through half the pint. Usually I line up a smorgasbord of chip flavors: Mocha Chip, Peanut Butter Chip, Toffee Chip, Coconut Chip. Mom says they have a new Cherry Chip flavor, but I am set on the deep purple, sweet-tart-chocolate Black Raspberry. Mine! All mine! The kids will have to choose their own flavors. We’ll follow up the ice cream with a Skyline Chili cheese coney chaser – perhaps an unusual order of operations, but it’s important to have priorities.

Priorites. Balance. Ice cream. If you throw in Chardonnay and heirloom tomatoes, that sums up my summer vacation. Our calendar is covered with fun summer memories and the kids now know how to make their own breakfasts. A summer full of win that lends credence to my mothering motto: never underestimate the power of a well-thought-out bribe!

About the Author:Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own luscious husband. If you want to chat about romance, writing or recipes, please visit her at where you can find recipes for many of the yummy dishes in her books. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter!/AmandaUsen

Eat, play, love

Plain old ice cream just isn’t going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She’s been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there’s no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting…or will it all go up in flames?


  1. You made me so hungry for that ice cream. Black Raspberry Chip! Sounds divine! Must look it up on the internet to see if it’s sold in my area.

    Sounds like your summer was a good one indeed!

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  2. LOL you can bribe me with that ice cream any time! It sounds absolutely delicious, but I’vc never heard of it over here in the UK. (The log cabin sounds like a fantastic retreat to write in too!)

  3. Why are you torturing us with the ice cream. That was not nice.LOL

  4. Guess what? My mother bought a half-gallon, not a pint of black raspberry chip ice cream! I ate ice cream four times in 24 hours. HEAVEN!

  5. I have to agree the Black Chip Raspberry is the best. Love Graeters ice cream, we take a cooler and stock up on the ice cream when we go to Columbus.

    skpetal at hotmail dot com

  6. Excellent way to balance the summer and work. I love ice cream.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  7. I wouldn’t say it has worked out perfectly. Sometimes the kids want pancakes and are willing to wait until ten. Then we eat lunch at three and aren’t hungry for dinner, but oh, well!
    @Jean MP – YAY! Another Graeter’s fan!

  8. You sound as if you did indded have a great summer. I haven’t read your books as yet, but after reading about Scrumptious and Luscious, I have to read them. I also love to bake and cook but am not a professional. I too–since my debut Hist. Rom. Only When the Loon Sings has a heroine who burns everything she first bakes or cooks–do booksignings in bakeries or restaurants. One bakery baked Loon shaped cookies and I gave out one with every book. What a hoot! Wishing you much success.

  9. I loved the post, and now I have to go have some ice cream. 😀

  10. Beverly – that’s awesome! I think giving away cookies with books is a great idea…so great, I’ve done it too! Great minds. 🙂 I’ll check out your books.

    Barbara – I made bananas foster the other night and we ate all the ice cream, but my husband made cookies with the kids while I was at work. Thank goodness! 🙂

  11. Jackie,

    I was wondering about all that fascination with Julian.

    Now I know.

    Love your stories.


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