Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy December...almost!

Happy December! Okay, it's November 30, but I won't be writing tomorrow to wish you a Happy December so I'm doing it today. It's funny how some years we are more in the spirit than others. This has been a really trying time with trying to buy a house while getting a notice to vacate during December, but for some reason, I'm really feeling the Christmas spirit. 

Our Thanksgiving was a mixed basket of awesome and awful. We typically skip the official Thursday celebration and relax while preparing for a feast on Saturday with our friends. This year we hosted both days, Thursday with Dave's family who came to stay with us and then Saturday with a handful of our dearest friends. Thursday was lovely, we had a great dinner and took family photos which Dave's mom Mary noted that she really wanted. All was well until Friday morning when Mary collapsed and had to be rushed to the ER. She spent two nights in the hospital and Dave ended up spending his Sunday driving her home to San Jose. Many of you have gone through caring for an aging parent, it's not easy. It's not easy in the physical sense and it's even harder emotionally. Add fuel to the awful fire, our septic system backed up again (less than 30 days from the last fiasco!). Even though a late night call from the septic service was not ideal, I was so grateful that we had the resources to write a check to have it handled. There have been plenty of times in my life that has not been the case. With Dave having gone through this all day Friday and again most of the day on Saturday, I was really glad we had our friends over to lighten the mood. We enjoyed another lovely dinner, good wine, and most importantly, lots of love and laughter. I know Dave wanted to spend Sunday putting up his Christmas decorations and an all day trip to and from San Jose was not on the original plan, it all worked out and we got Mary home safely. 

Now it's back to work and school. My real estate business is booming! Whoever said Nov, Dec, and Jan are a bad time to buy or sell do not know the business. I have two houses in escrow and we are shopping for a third home for one of my clients. It will be awesome to have paychecks in December and January. I hope you all had a less eventful Thanksgiving than we did, but rest assured, we all have so much to be thankful for, starting with each other. Happy Holidays!

Oh, if you moved recently (last 2 years), please send me your address. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Television, Festival, Contests, Oh My!

What a wild ride this last week/weekend was. Whew! The weekend before Thanksgiving is the Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn every year, and as you all know, we all participate. This year we all had way more to do than just making a recipe for the recipe contest. 

The Cooking Channel's show Carnival Eats came to town to highlight the festival and the fun food we have. Dave was asked to be a production assistant as we are local and he knows his way around town. He worked show biz hours all day Friday and Saturday and he is positive that all he shared with them for the production will make our festival and town shine. All three of us also filmed bits as "Streaters" - the people they stop on the street eating the food they want to talk about. The show should air in May of next year so I'll be sure to let you all know in case you want to tune in.

I was asked this year to run and manage the cooking stage. Mason and I have done cooking demo's but to be in charge was a whole different experience. I loved it! I did a couple of demos while Mason did one each day. We had Good Day Sacramento do a spot with Mason and Chef Rachel from Polkadot Dinners early Saturday morning where Mason launched his new business Mason Made Products. He has a line of sauces and marinades (and a caramel sauce) that he is selling at fairs and festivals when he does his live cooking demos. He has created some delicious recipes with these sauces and they will be available next week to ship for Christmas gifts. If you decide to order 3 bottles and are willing to pay for a flat rate shipping box (medium box), we will include a jar of our homemade mandarin marmalade or apple butter and some fresh Placer Grown mandarins. I'll share more about flavors and prices for those of you who are interested. The money Mason raises from the initial sales of his new business will go toward his 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C., after that, he will be a for profit business. I have to tell you how proud of him I am. He worked that booth like a seasoned sales professional. He set his intention to sell out of 17 cases of product and on Sunday he had 59 bottles left to sell - he sold his last bottle 45 minutes before the show closed. I also want to note that in 2015, Mason did 23 live cooking demos. Pretty cool, huh?

With all of this said, I didn't enter the recipe contest as the person who runs it approached me and noted that I typically win, and if I win and I appear to be part of the team that runs it (I'm not), it could appear to be a conflict of interest. I was flattered that they noted I usually win and agreed to not participate. Dave and Mason did and sadly, we did not win anything this year. I would say we just can't do all we were doing and really give our best work. Although, Mason's mandarin milkshake with cranberry whipped cream and Dave mandarin ribs were delicious!

Now we are headed into Thanksgiving and this year we are hosting two dinners. Dave's family is coming for Thursday dinner and our friends are coming for Saturday Thanksgiving. Can you say, "Still very busy"? Laughing! I see it as making great things happen and how can we be stressed when we have so many wonderful people around us? It's not stressed, it's blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

On another note - Mason's episode of Chopped Junior got moved from the 12/15 air date to a not yet determined air date in January or February. It's a bummer but that is how showbiz goes. I'll keep you posted once we know a new air date.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall and Winter Collide

Happy Monday,
The storms have passed but boy were they fun. Dave and I took an opportunity to get away for a few days and headed to Lake Tahoe Thursday and Friday nights. We stopped at Apple Hill on our way up and took in some of the flavors of fall. It didn't take long to start seeing snow along the side of the road and it was just what I needed to feel some holiday spirit. We checked in to our condo (we were offered a friends timeshare) and made a reservation to have our belated anniversary dinner. We gambled a little bit and made our way back to snuggle up in front of the fireplace. On Friday, we slept in, Dave until 10 (unprecedented!) and then we spent the day tootling historic towns in Nevada. One of our favorites was Genoa where we really enjoyed The Genoa Bar, Nevada's oldest Thirst Parlor, Thirst Parlor! Don't you just love that? It was exactly as you imagine, old timey to the hilt! We made our way back to Tahoe, browsed the shops in South Lake, played some cards and then headed back to the condo to sit in the hot tub under the stars, we ate dinner in and watched a movie. It was a lovely two nights in Tahoe but we didn't finish our time quite yet. We took Hwy 88 home and stopped in Amador County to taste a little wine and bottle a case of our own and have lunch. It was so interesting to go from lots of snow to fall colors and green pastures. It really did seem like we drove off one winter wonderland movie set and on to a fall day in the country. It was just what this old married couple needed to recharge our batterie. 

On Sunday, Mason cooked on ABC 10 morning news for the Mandarin Festival that is coming up this weekend. He is cooking all three day in addition to working his own Mason Made booth. It will be here that he will launch his new line, Mason Made Products. It is a line of marinades and sauces that he has been developing recipes with. The two that he will be cooking with at the Mandarin Festival is the organic Ginger Citrus with a Kick sauce and one of his favorites, Asian Fusion Grilling Goodness. Now he can do a cooking demo, share the recipe and sell some of the products for people to take home and make themselves. He's not so sure about the business accounting, but that is what I am most excited about (for him). What to buy, how much it costs, how to price it, sell it, figure out taxes and then profit. He is initially earning money for his 8th grade field trip to Washington DC, that way we don't have to do all the fundraising at the same time all the other 8th graders will be working on it. I'm either going to be very proud, or sorry I agreed. Laughing!

After the tv stuff, Mason went to a birthday party and while it stormed outside, I made 43 jars of mandarin marmalade, I made mandarin fig (20 jars), mandarin pepper (9), and mandarin pepper with all the seeds (14) because Dave says he wants more heat. I'll let you know if leaving all the seeds in gives him the heat he is looking for. Now it's time to enjoy the Mandarin Festival and get ready for Thanksgiving, we absolutely have plenty to be thankful for. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Anniversary and So Thankful

Happy Monday!

It's a glorious day, it's finally raining, really raining. This weekend was jam packed, what else is new? On Friday night we got to go see Elf the musical in Sacramento. Our local newspaper ran a contest for kids to write a short essay about what they are thankful for. I encouraged Mason to enter so we talked about what he would write about. He told me that he loves that he gets to decorate for halloween and Christmas with his dad and that he and I cook and bake together. I noted that it sounds like he is thankful for our family traditions and he agreed. He wrote the essay and he won first place! He won not only two tickets, they gave him four. We went as a family and took one of Mason's friends from football, we had dinner out and then enjoyed the show. The seats were great and all in all, it was an awesome night out. 

Saturday Dave and I spent the day looking at more houses and still have not found something we like as much as the house we are waiting on approval for. It was fun to look, but it's still stressful to not have a firm plan while the clock is ticking on our move-out date. I have faith it will all work out. We joined my good friend Jen for dinner and drinks for her birthday before coming home to cuddle up and listen to the rain. Sunday I did homework while Dave watched football. The fun thing about Sunday was my radio show aired on a Sacramento classic rock station, 96.9 the Eagle. Earlier in the week I was contacted by one of the DJs at the station about coming in to guest host the Sunday show. Having listeners in is part of the stations 25 year anniversary and an attempt to get their listeners involved in what they do. I recored the show on Wednesday and can I say, IT WAS SO FUN!! My next career will be in radio, for real, it will. 

Today is Monday, November 9 and that means it is our 14th wedding anniversary. I love being married. When I hear people say marriage is hard, it takes work, lots of work every day, I don't understand that. I can only surmise that if marriage is hard every day, it must not be the right combination of people. Or maybe Dave and I are just really lucky to have a pretty easy time being married. Sure, we have had some challenges in 14 years, but not daily difficulty and strife. 
We were advised before we got married to always be respectful, to not make jokes at the other's expense, and before we act, to always think with,"Is this kind? Is what I am about to say or do loving?" I've found this to be the very best advice I've ever received and it may be the secret to our happily married life. I love you Dave, and I don't just love being married, I love being married to you! Happy Anniversary.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Fun

Despite our current housing issues and the struggle to buy a house, we had a blast over the weekend for halloween. As much as Dave loves Christmas, I believe he loves halloween more. This year we dressed with a circus theme, he a fortune teller, inspired by Zoltar from the movie Big and I went as the circus ring master. Mason made his costume, he did not follow the circus theme, instead he dressed as one of his video game characters. We had friends in town, Steve and Ro and we went out both Friday and Saturday nights.

Friday night we attended James and Lisa's annual halloween party and let me assure you, they leave nothing to the imagination when in comes to decorations, their house looked amazing! After their party, we popped into our local bar to do some more dancing and before we called it a night, Dave won 3rd place in the costume contest!

Saturday night was actually halloween and while Mason was off trick or treating with friends, Dave, Steve, Ro and I sat out on the deck and had dinner while enjoying all the halloween decorations and a roaring fire in the pit. Having rocked our Friday night costumes already, we pulled together new costumes from our massive stash (yes, it's massive!) and I wore my witchy woman costume and Dave pulled together a witch hunter get up. Steve wore our King Tut get up and Ro went as a kitty cat. Wouldn't you know it, as we were getting ready to go out, the septic system backed up and created a mess that had me on the phone trying to see how soon someone could get here to figure it out. Of course I called our landlord and of course she noted we clearly did something wrong. I'm not going to belabor that point, but suffice it to say, this put a bit of a damper on Saturday night. Here we are on Monday and the plumber said there was no clog and it must be something with the septic system - and those guys can't be here until tomorrow. My landlord has instructed us to not do laundry, no paper in the toilet, no dishwasher, and to go easy on #2. How do you "go easy"? When you gotta poo, you gotta poo!

So that's it, our halloween was mostly fun, until shit happened!