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!

Monday, October 17, 2016

New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and More!

Mason's View in Chicago
I’m running behind but if y’all could run in my shoes for a week, you would be not only behind, but tired, too! So last time you heard from me, Lisa and I were in NYC having the time of our lives on a girls trip. That was Monday the 10th and on Tuesday the 11th, Mason was back home in Auburn meeting a crazy busy schedule as well. Our family friend Gary picked him up very early to travel to Grass Valley where Mason did several live cooking demos at an elementary school who does a tasting week each year. While Mason and I were out for lunch a number of months ago, the woman who organizes the event recognized Mason from Chopped Junior and asked if he would be a guest chef. Well wouldn’t you know it, the event was the same time I was to be in NYC and Dave could not take him so Gary offered. 

In the meantime, while I’m planning my trip to NYC, the call comes in that Mason has been invited to appear on a national television talk show and needs to leave for Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoon? You mean the same Tuesday that he is cooking in Grass Valley in the morning? UGH! So Gary took Mason in the AM and delivered him to Dave by noon so the two of them could catch a plane in the afternoon to Chicago. The two of them had a whirlwind trip and all of us Partaks landed at Sacramento International airport on Thursday, tired and ready to all be home sleeping in our own beds. We made it home, got the laundry in the washer, did the dishes from the cooking demos on Tuesday, paid bills, returned calls, took hot showers, and got a good nights sleep. 

Friday Mason had to practice two recipes as we were putting those clean clothes back in suitcases to head to Los Angeles where Mason is competing in another big cooking contest. It will be televised so I can’t share the details yet, but as soon as we know when, we will share with you. Up, up and away we went and here we are in Burbank, CA and Mason is competing today. Send good vibes our way and I’ll do my best to post on time next week. Happy Monday!

Monday, October 10, 2016

New York in the Fall

It’s fall and I’m in New York with Lisa. We made plans for this trip more than a year ago and we met up late Friday night. Saturday and Sunday the weather was very fall like, with some overcast skies and even a fair amount of rain on Sunday. We tootled Times Square, popped in to see a movie (after being wet all afternoon) - Sully, which was fun to see in NY, and we shopped a little, too. On Sunday we went to the American Museum of Natural History and wow, what a place that is!! According to their website, it’s more than 1,500,000 square feet of space to learn. Lisa and I spent easily 3-4 hours there and still did not see everything. I especially enjoyed the geology exhibit and loved seeing so much from California and even Placer Country as it pertains to the gold on display. This is going on my list of places to go back to with Mason, hopefully before he graduates from high school. It is absolutely a must-see if you visit NY.

We made a list of the things we really wanted to do while we are here some of which include roof top bars & nightlife, shopping the wholesale stores open to the public, riding bikes and the carousel in Central Park, seeing a show or two, and visiting the new Brookfield Mall at the site of the World Trade Center. We are staying in a little apartment in the meat packing district which is right across the street from Chelsea Market. There is just so much to see and do that is not on the normal NYC tourist list, there is no way we will do it all. With that said, we have already covered lots and we have another 3 days to play. I’ll wrap this up with a realization I had last night before falling asleep. After a full day of fun that wrapped up at a gay country bar we hopped in a cab and headed back to our little place, we decided to stop for dinner and that was one of the best meals of my life. I learned many years ago that there are restaurants that have great food and no atmosphere, great atmosphere and mediocre food, neither of what’s important, and finally, very few that have both amazing food and incredible atmosphere - We had dinner at Tao and I have a very clear understanding of the michelin star ratings for restaurants. I don’t know if they have stars, but they should! So the food was incredible, you get that, but my realization was this, Lisa and I were captivated from the time we walked in the door. We were greeted with big smiles, got right in and the experience moved along as we laughed, chatted, and sipped our drinks. By the time we had finished our meal, it occurred to me that had not thought about our phones, friends on social media, or anyone else for that matter. The
environment we were in had us completely present and enjoying what was happening right there and then. I suppose I snapped out of it at one point when I chuckled and noted that we had darn near cleaned our plates and didn’t event think to take a photo of how beautiful they looked when we were served. Just for fun, I snapped a photo of them having been thoroughly enjoyed and we paid our bill and left. I might note, for the meal and experience we had just enjoyed, in New York, the bill was under $100! With that, I will leave you with this:

Energy of intention

Life can often leave you feeling stuck or trapped in an undesirable position. Yet no matter how confining your situation may be, there is always a positive way forward.

Even though your options may be very limited, you do still have some powerful choices. Even in a difficult, highly challenging situation, there are real and present possibilities for great improvement.

The first thing to do is to refuse to see yourself as a victim. By taking full responsibility for your situation, you give yourself the power to change it for the better.

Next, instead of fretting about the way things are, develop a clear and compelling vision of how you want your life to be. Somewhere within the realm of possibility is a realistic goal that will make things much better for you.

Find that goal, focus on it, refine it, and make it so desirable that you cannot help but move toward it. Fill your awareness with your vision of a positive outcome, working enthusiastically and relentlessly to find and follow the way.

You've spent your entire life making things happen. Take control of the energy of your intention, and get yourself where you choose to be.

Ralph Marston - The Daily Motivator

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall Home Show in the Bag!

Happy Monday Friends and welcome to fall!

Yes, we got a taste of real fall weather over the weekend, cooler temps and even an awesome thunder storm with a heavy downpour yesterday. I have been busier than usual these last few weeks, between work, events, and Mason's performance schedules, I'm not sure which direction I'm heading when. In fact, the days got away from me so much that I didn't write a Monday Motivator at all. 

We just wrapped up the fall home show here in Auburn and it was wildly successful. Mason did Chopped Challenges all three days and when he wasn't performing, he was either emceeing other chefs during their Chopped Challenge or selling sauces in his Mason Made booth. He got to do double duty making money with his business and being paid for his host duties. Not bad as he gets ready to turn the clock over to being a teenager! Yep, the 20th of this month my baby turns the heck did that happen? He almost sold out of all his product, coming home with just 8 bottles of sauce. We will be restocking for the Mandarin Festival where we expect much of the same the weekend of November 18-20. As I mentioned in an earlier email, we are planning to put together some pretty packaging to make ready made gifts. If you can come to the festival, you can taste the products or you can just trust us when the tell you they are delicious! I'll send out more details as the event gets closer.

This coming Friday I am off to NYC for a girls weekend with Lisa and I cannot wait! New York in the fall and with no other commitments on my calendar, sounds like heaven. Now I'm off to keep tackling my list so I can get all my work done this week. I hope you are enjoying the change of season as much as I am and I'm sure I'll have plenty to share from the east coast next week.