Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Year in Review - Readers Digest Style!

Merry Christmas
and Farewell 2014!
It's that time of year again, time to celebrate with loved ones and reflect on where we’ve been and look ahead to where we want to go. Dave, Mason and I have had a great year with few exceptions. We all had more highs than lows but the most important part of our journey every year is that we are healthy and together.

Mason did plenty of cooking this year not only in our kitchen but on television, cooking stages up and down the state, he was featured in Food Network Magazine and he even did his first paid cooking demonstration for Raley’s grocery stores. Many of you know that Mason auditioned for Rachel VS Guy Kids Cook Off Season 2 and made it to number 9 - they cast 8 kids and Mason was the alternate. So close! I don’t know if he will audition again this year,but I’ll keep you posted. Mason enjoys cooking but he wants everyone to know that a kid cook is not all he is. He loves riding his BMX bike, playing with all kinds of apps on his iPad, building Legos, and he is also really enjoying theatre - currently in rehearsals for Aladdin where Mr. Mason is cast as none other than Aladdin!

On a super cool note, Mason reached his goal of raising the money for his school kitchen. Not only did he reach his goal, he exceeded it raising $26,052! It took eighteen months but between he and I, we did it! The school will not be completely remodeling the commercial kitchen, instead they will be installing a Food Science Lab, or as you and I know it, a home economics room. We will create a grade-by- grade curriculum for the students to actually learn to cook in a kitchen just like the one they have at home. At the end of each year, the kids will host a community luncheon as a fund-raiser and so the community can see what kind of cool things are happening at the elementary culinary program at Alta Vista Community Charter School. Isn’t that spectacular? And all because a then 3rd grader had an idea.

Dave has continued to work on his Bachelors degree while working and trying to find time for his gaming hobbies. The older we get, the less time there seems to be to do the things we really want to do, but there is always enough time to do the things we have to do.

I’ve been loving building my real estate business and especially appreciate that it allows me to do so much with Mason and Dave. I paid lots of bills and managed to pay for our family to take a Disney cruise to the Bahamas in October for Mason’s 11th birthday. If that’s all I manage to earn, enough to pay for family vacations and little mini get-aways, I’ll be a happy lady!
Other fun news for me this year is that I was chosen to be one of 6 Americans to participate in an on line program called America Cooks With Chefs. I was paired with a James Beard award winning chef to whip up a healthy dish that we will then present at the Clinton Initiative Conference in January in Palm Springs. I spent a weekend in Portland with my chef and I’m looking forward to the trip next month.
I hope you are all well and having a lovely Christmas holiday. Happy New Year with lots and lots of love!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Week Kathy

Happy Monday and Happy Birthday week to me! My birthday is Wednesday and I'm looking forward to celebrating with Dave, Mason and some friends out to dinner. I don't have lots to share today except that the cookie factory is open and in full swing! I've gotten off to a late start since I was in Portland, but I'll get done what I can and it will all be good. I also have plans to make some of my mandarin cranberry oatmeal cookies for neighbors since the award winning recipe was featured in the new Mandarin Festival cookbook. I'm making the cookies and giving each of my neighbors a copy of the book, great gift idea, huh? I hope you are having a joyous holiday season, I know I am!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Today I'm Cooking With a James Beard Chef in Portland, OR

This is a prelude to the real Monday Motivator that will come later today. I am in Portland filming for America Cooks With Chefs, a program sponsored by The James Beard Foundation, The Clinton Initiative, Weight Watchers, Better Homes and Garden Magazine, and Barrilla Pasta. I am being mentored by Chef Naomi Pomeroy of Beast and as you are reading this on Monday morning, I am getting ready to be in her kitchen soaking up all I can remember to take home with me. I'll write more later today and hopefully have pictures!

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Official!

Happy Monday and it's official, Merry Christmas! 

Thanksgiving was awesome! After a few years of not hosting our friends for Saturday Thanksgiving, we got back in the swing of things and it was so much fun. It never ceases to amaze me how much work and preparation goes into planning a single meal that lasts 20 minutes. I'm not complaining, just noting that this is the kind of gift that I love to give and receive. Dave did most all of the heavy lifting for this meal while Mason and I added the pretty touches to the house and table. Dave brined our turkey and as usual, it was perfection! I hope you had as lovely a Thanksgiving as we did and are feeling the Christmas spirit like we are. 

It's time now to open the Partak Cookie Factory, but before I can do that, I am off this coming weekend to meet with Chef Pomeroy in Portland, OR to participate in the America Cooks with Chefs 800 Calorie Challenge. I'm so excited! I am not all the way sure what to expect, but I know it will be something to remember for sure. I'll find out how much I can share before the web series is posted and I'll keep you posted. The finale is at the Clinton Initiative in Palm Spring at the end of January and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Dave and Mason can make the trip to join me. Be sure to visit America Cooks with Chefs on Facebook as I am sure there will be fun stuff posted there along the way. 

Have an awesome week and take in the magic of the holidays, they go by so quickly. You never know when someone you love won't be here to enjoy with you next year. With lots and lots of love!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Winners All Around! Mandarin Festival Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving Week! 

We all have so much to be thankful for, even if things are not necessarily going our way. This weekend was the Mountain Mandarin Festival and to say I was busy would be the understatement of the century! I personally made 350 jars of assorted flavors of mandarin marmalade, set up, decorated and tore down our booth, helped to organize and manage 63 volunteers, manned the booth to sell said marmalades, and made 3 recipes to enter in the recipe contest. Dave and Mason both worked their butts off, too. Dave entered two recipes in the contest while Mason entered one. Dave won 2nd place in both the main dish and side dish categories with his Mandarin Chicken Curry and his Mandarin Cider Slammer cocktail, Mason won third place in the main dish category with his Mandarin Jerk Chicken and I finally won the Snow's Citrus Court award with my Mandarin Breakfast Sausage! Whoo-Hoo! Cash prizes for all!

We didn't make as much money with our marmalade sales as we had rain most of the day on Saturday, but I am still hopeful that once all the accounting is in, we can be close to $2,000 in sales. We still have plenty left if you want to buy some for the coming holiday parties and gifts. It is really an awesome artisan product and I don't think it will be available next year. It's $9.00 a jar and all proceeds benefit Mason's school kitchen project. We have 1/2 pints of (they are all mandarin) pepper (120), peach (9), cranberry (26), lime (8), pineapple (19), pineapple-cranberry (7), mango (8), mango-pepper (5), raspberry, (9) and blackberry (3). We also have 4 jars left of a deliciously tart strawberry/cranberry/plum jam (no mandarin) and 32 full pints of no sugar apple sauce - made with only local apples and cinnamon $12.00.

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving and take some time off, relax and enjoy your company - let people help you and if they are not helping, ask them to! Lots of love to you and yours! XOXO

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's a Fox 40 Kind of Morning!

Mason is gearing up for his last cooking demos of the year at the Mandarin Festival this coming weekend. I am also very hopeful that with our school manning the gates and mandarin marmalade sales we will push Mason's fundraising for his kitchen over the top. Fingers crossed as it looks like we will have cooler and possibly even wet weather. If you want to see Mason doing his thing on Fox 40 click here, oh, and he has a fun giveaway up on his website, all you have to do is share how you like to cook with or eat mandarins. Go to and leave a comment, you can't win if you don't play!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fall in Apple Hill!

This hillside at Apple Hill looked just like candy corn!
This has been an eventful week and weekend, school and work is dominating my time but I love them both. Dave has had a break from school but is traveling for work, the work travel will become more frequent and school starts back up for him next week so it's going to get busier before things settle down. Add the holidays into the mix and holy cow, it will be 2015 before we know it. 

This week Mason found himself in a predicament in which he made a really poor choice. I don't want to put the details on my blog, but suffice it to say it was bad enough that he did not get to go trick or treating for Halloween. For those of you who know Dave and Mason, you know that Halloween is a BIG deal! Additionally, he does not have his iPad until 12/1 and he has to write a paper about why what he did was so, so wrong. I sure hope he learned this lesson as it will be far worse when he's not just dealing with the law of Dave and me.

We made time to get to Apple Hill and it was gorgeous! The fall colors were exquisite and we got to ride in a Wells Fargo Stagecoach in Placerville. All in all, we had such a great fall family day. We didn't buy apples but we did get some preserves and little pumpkins for our Saturday Thanksgiving table (we hollow them out and serve Dave's butternut squash soup in them). I just love, love, love this time of year, it just excites me!

Now I am back to work and loving it. I will be closing an escrow on the 18th of November and another on on the 4th of December - this is good news but keep in mind, I have been working on both of these deals since June of 2013! Seriously, talk about sticking with it. Laughing! Have a wonderful week and take in all Mother Nature has to offer, it just doesn't get any prettier.