Monday, December 5, 2016

Grateful for My Really, Really Great Guy!

Bubblegum Alley in Downtown SLO
Last week Dave and I took a quick trip to San Luis Obispo, a Monday through Wednesday kind of get away. You see, Dave has to be in SLO frequently for work, and every time he goes he tells me how much he wishes I could come with him. He will call me from wherever he is dining and share with me that the sun is setting and it would be so much more fun if we were together. It's been nearly impossible to schedule for us both the be there, especially in December. In the last 3 or 4 years, I've been in school and that time of year we are taking finals. The other challenges are someone to stay with Mason (he's still in school) and also someone to stay with the dogs. This year we planned it and made it happen. There was the little bump in the road with Gunner having to have surgery, but we just paid to have him stay at the vet where he could get the medical care he needed.

Sunset at Schooners

Dave booked us in a lovely little Inn, the Granada Inn & Bistro right in the heart of downtown. The room was quaint with a big shower and a fireplace. It was just what we needed to relax and reconnect. I know couples have a hard time making time to get away, but I believe it is imperative to being happily married. The best gift we can give our kids is happily married parents, and these kinds of excursions are what couples need to remember who they are together, still in love, and why they wanted those pesky kids to begin with. Yes, kids are hard. They are hard to raise, hard to discipline, hard to juggle schedules, and taking the money out of the family finances to get away can be another challenge. I get it. The thing is, when things fall apart, we often would give all we have to make it right again. We would sell our most cherished belongings to have our family together and happy again. Make the sacrifice while things are still good and make them better. We are so lucky that we can combine business with pleasure and include our families. I get that, but where there is a will, there is a way.

A walk on the beach

We stopped in lots of little bars, we walked along the creek, we shopped, we dined, and we drove up the coast to Cayucos where we walked on the beach, had some clam chowder while we watched the sun set, and then had a drink in the old Saloon across the street. It was magical! It was just what we needed and I feel like the luckiest woman in the whole world to have my guy. Dave is one of the really good ones, the kind of guy that after 15 years of marriage still makes me feel like he adores me. I love that every year he still wants me with him when he travels and when I can't go, he can't wait to get home to where I am, where we are, where we are us. I love us.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Oh, How We Hate Socks!

Having a kid cook is pretty awesome, except for those days when you remember he's a kid and doesn't think like an adult. It was totally scary tonight but it's going to make a great story someday. "Remember when you turned on the grill and realized you needed matches? So you went in the house to get the matches… " So you all know where this went, right? Yeah, KA-BOOM! Singed hair, burned nose, and hand that was holding the match. Not serious, but those kinds of burns smart for hours. Glad you're okay sweets. #LessonsLearned

And then on the official Thanksgiving Day, Stinker McJeeter was ushered into urgent surgery with a foreign object in his intestinal tract (likely a sock). He was in the doggie hospital until Wednesday. He came through surgery fine and we visited him each day, at least until we left for SLO. I know Dave thinks I don't like his big dog, but I was the one boo-hooing, shedding tears when I heard he had to have surgery.

Well, it's been quite the week. Coming off of Mandarin Festival week/weekend, getting ready for Saturday Thanksgiving and guests, only to spend lots of time with an emergency surgery and visits with Gunner...well, I'm tired. I'm a little exasperated and overwhelmed, but I think that's just exhaustion by other names. Oh, did I mention we also got a new bedroom set and had dismantle, remove, move, load, unload, and set up said new furniture on Friday? Yeah, it's no wonder I'm pooped. Dave is equally tired, I'm sure. With all the unexpected expense, I've also canceled our Disney trip for my birthday. The veterinary expenses seemed to be just what we had budgeted for the trip and staying home will allow us to do the things we like to do at Christmastime - baking cookies and decorating. We’re just rolling with the punches. On the upside, Dave and I will be getting away to San Luis Obispo Monday and Tuesday as he has a very short training session and we need a little time away and together - just the two of us. More later. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Mandarin Festival is a Wrap!

Another Mandarin festival is in the books! Thank you Gary Gilligan for all the hard work you put into this event and for including me as part of your team. I am honored to run the cooking stage and work with amazing home cooks and professional chefs side-by-side teaching people, having fun, entertaining, and most of all making good food. So many people make this happen, there's no way to thank you all. But just let me say, I'm just so honored to be a part of this event and the group of people who make it happen. It’s interesting to me as I travel the country with Mason as a kid cook, how many people don’t know about live cooking demos. Oh sure, they know Food Network and the celebrity aspect of a culinary show, but it seems that live cooking demos at fairs and festivals is not the norm. I think we are so lucky to be able to do what we do on cooking stages and the more I travel, the more I realize we really do create unique and special culinary experiences for foodies, both novice and professional, and the audiences who sit and watch us.

One more thought on this years festival, I want to congratulate Rachel Griffith for sweeping the recipe contest today at the Mountain Mandarin Festival. For those of you who know, the Griffiths and the Partaks have an ongoing rivalry to see who can win more with the recipes. It's been fun through the years and I could justify that Dave and Mason did not win anything today because I work the cooking stage and Mason mans a booth. However, if I were to do that it would be a complete copout. Rachel also mans a booth at the festival and I'm here to say that it is a challenge beyond belief to prepare a recipe, or two, or three to have at the festival before it opens when they're not due until noon. Rachel did that today and swept the contest winning three awards. Yes, three awards! I believe she won a first, a second, and the Snow's Citrus Court award. Rachel, correct me if I'm wrong. I just want to tell you that I'm so proud of you, you worked really hard, you earned it today and I'm so happy to call you friend. You go girl! Check her out at Polkadot Dinners.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mason Appeared on The Steve Harvey Show

It's been an exciting week, not only did Dave and I celebrate 15 years happily married, but Mason made his first national network television debut on the Steve Harvey Show. He did a great job and when I posted the link on his social media sites, so many of our friends and his fans commented about what a natural he is on camera. I agree, he certainly has that thing, some call it, "it" but I'm here to tell you, for all the natural ability one may have, the more they practice, the more natural ability they appear to have. Mason has been making videos since he was 9 years old (just turned 9) and here he is having just turned 13. He has 137 videos on his Youtube channel, he's done dozens of live television appearances, 52 live cooking demonstrations (not including the ones he's done on TV), competed in many recipe contests and cooking competitions. He has quite the resume and most of it before he turned 13. I took several years of acting classes, mostly commercial classes and John Swain told us again and again, "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Keep doing it, and make it look easy." Mason makes it look easy!  Here's his spot if you didn't get to see it air on last Wednesday.

Be sure to follow him on social media, on Facebook he is Mason Made (, and on Youtube, Instagram and twitter he is Mason Partak. There are some new things coming in 2017 so follow along, it will be entertaining to be sure!

In other news, Dave has a new job with the Guard. I'm not sure what his title is but he is heading up a group to advocate for soldiers who have bonus issues. Now keep in mind, Dave has been doing this for years and is only now being recognized for all he knows. He has saved the deal for so many men and women, he deserves a Real Hero award. I know he won't be holding his breath to see anything from the Guard, but I'm here to say, the work he does makes a difference. If you could speak to those he's advocated for, they would tell you as well.

The Mandarin Festival is this coming weekend and Mason will have a booth in addition to two cooking demos. He has a limited number of bottles that he has signed and we have packaged for gift giving. They are just $1 more than normal price, but they are really pretty, ready to deliver to your host or hostess for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas. I'm running the cooking stage and all three of us Partaks have recipes for the festival recipe contest. I'll let you know how that all pans out next week. Have a great week and practice love, it feels better than the other things people are practicing right now.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Happy Anniversary Month

Happy Anniversary Month David Partak! Who could have predicted that for all the fun things and experiences I've won on the radio through the years, the most fun would be you (Circa 1996)? As we approach 15 years married (15 years?!), we laughed earlier this week when we should have been sleeping, we laughed so hard we both cried. The next morning when the alarm went off, we were still giggling through sleepy eyes. There have been a few bumps in the road over the years, but nothing worth talking about. Our union has been easy as far as the marriage gauges go, wouldn't you agree? Way more laughter than tears, and even some of those tears have come with belly laughs. I am grateful every day for you, our marriage, our family, our life, and I'm the first one to say, "I won the lottery when I won this guys heart." 

November 9th is the day (our actual anniversary) and wouldn’t you know it, we have a wonderful gift coming this week. Mason will be appearing on the Steve Harvey Show! Yes! In early October while I was in NYC on a girls trip, Dave and Mason were in Chicago taping the segment. Check your local listings, it will be on NBC. For us, it’s on at 2 PM on channel 3. If you miss it, don’t worry, I will record it and create the segment for his social media channels. Follow on Facebook, that’s where you will see all the updates first. He’s also on Instagram, twitter, and of course at

I’m celebrating our anniversary month on Facebook and I was going to write something every day, but you all see how crazy our life gets and there just don't seem to be enough hours in each day. This was my post to Dave today:

Today you are not home, not that that is unusual, we know what it means to be separated all too well. People ask if it's hard being apart and the answer is no. We are independent adults, we have separate interests, and in fact, I think our time apart enhances our marriage. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I want to do another 18 month deployment, but a week here, two weeks there, those are just opportunities to miss each other. When we are apart, we not only get to have experiences outside of our family life, we get to appreciate each other a little more. When I was in NY, I had many thoughts about wanting to come back to the east coast with you, wanting to show something to Mason...and coming home is always wonderful. To come home to each other, the boys, our smells, our kitchen, our bed & pillows, it just all feels good. We have stories to share, new things to talk about (Have a Zib Zoob day!), and it just shines a different light on things. I love that we have trust, and we can travel and know the one keeping the home fires burning is doing it with love and the anticipation of the happy homecoming.

I'll leave this post with the memory of your return from an Annual Training or an Arkansas trip (I think). You did everything you could to get home earlier than planned after being gone for 2+ weeks. It was dusk and you walked through the door, took me in your arms and kissed me. You poured a shot of tequila, took my hand and lead me to the kitchen table where you sat down, pulled me on to your lap and drank the shot. You then went on to serenade me with a new Alan Jackson song that had something to do with being happy to be home, your beautiful girl on your lap, and a shot of tequila. Do you remember that? It was in the Aeolia house and it was the corniest, best kind of "I love you" ever! 15 years later you still sing to me, we still dance in the kitchen (not often enough!), and you still drink tequila. I hear new research says it's a probiotic. Laughing! I love you Flower, for as crabby as you can be sometimes, you are equally schmoopy, and show me you love me in ways that no one else could.

*This is clearly not the photo from that memory, there isn't one, but this image shows the love and joy we still feel all these years later. This was in Mexico in 2002

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween and you all know that this holiday rivals Christmas for Dave and Mason. They go all out decorating and even though we really downsized our landscape real estate with our new house, they did not let that stop them from creating a great display!
Dave and I dressed up as Dorothy and the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz and Mason went as Edward Kenway, a character from one of his video games. We also went to several haunted houses, which I have to say, are not my thing!! I don't like to be scared. It was all fun though, we got compliments all night long and even won a costume contest.

Mason went trick-or-treating with friends and being 13 now, he was able to go with a group without parents. I think if they didn't have cell phones I would not have let him go without an adult. Then I think about how we were as kids, we were out way late and no one worried - we don't live in times like that anymore.

Over the weekend, Mason and I made our fall pumpkin sugar cookies and can I tell you, Mason has made massive improvements in his decorating ability! In fact, you tell me, which cookies did I decorate and which ones did Mason do?

And last but certainly not least, Mason has fully restocked his line of sauces and has them for sale for Thanksgiving and Christmas. He will offer a select number of each sauce with autographed bottles gift wrapped for gift giving. Instead of wine for your Thanksgiving host or hostess, take a bottle or two of Mason Made sauces! Email me or reach out via Facebook to place your order. I will be happy to ship if you will be willing to pay for the flat rate charges.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy 13th Birthday Mason!

13 years ago Mason Bonham Partak came into this world, immediately placed in his daddy's arms, he smiled. Well, I don't know if he smiled, I was knocked out and filleted like a fish, but I will tell my tale as if he did.  :) This kid has been a strong willed, smart, funny, kind, pain in our asses kid from the time he realized he could be. He is courageous, he takes chances, he seems fearless (well, except for that time he insisted on riding the sheep, but then got in the chute and cried to not have to ride the sheep!), and he has already made a huge impact on this world. Mason, I am afraid of your teenage years - I know you will test me, you will make me proud, you will make me cry, you will make me laugh, you will practice some serious dumbassery, and I will do my best to not kill you. But no matter what you face in the coming years, I will always love you. I am so thankful that you are my son, you are the best of your dad and I, and you are a rock star! Set this world on fire kid, you have work to do and it will all be noteworthy, I just know it.   

For Mason’s birthday we try to do something that is more than just cake and ice cream. In years past we’ve planned our family vacation in October and it’s proven to make for very memorable birthdays. So much so, as Mason and I were reminiscing about years past, we could not recall what we did for his birthday last year. Thank goodness for Facebook Memories, we planned a party at our local mini-golf place and it was eh. It was fun for Mason because he had more of his friends there, but I like the family experiences better. 

With that said, this year we bought tickets to see an NFL football game at the new Levi’s Stadium. I’m a 49ers fan and Mason is a Tampa Bay fan, lucky for us, they were playing on 10/23/16, perfect to give Mason the tickets on Thursday and go to the game the following Sunday. It was fun, the stadium is beautiful, and Mason’s Buccaneers won! Happy Birthday Mason, may you win more than you lose, my you laugh more than you cry, and may you give more than you take. Your dad and I are so very proud of the young man you are growing in to. Happy! Happy! Happy!