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