Monday, November 26, 2018

Life Has It's Struggles

As I'm struggling lately with the emotions I still sometimes feel about past betrayals, my feed today is filled with messages that remind me about the people who love me, of the amazing life I get to live, and how it doesn't matter how others have treated and hurt me, it's how I have not responded in a like way.

Though I am likely far more sensitive than people realize (they only see the tough, calls-it-like-she-sees-it, doesn't give a damn Kathy), I do feel confident that I do my best to be kind first, help without being asked, and ethical to the honest best of my ability.

When Mason is struggling with high school drama, I remind him that it doesn't end with middle school, or high school, or college, or the workplace, or, or, or... The fact of the matter is that there always will be people in this world that not only find joy in hurting others but thrive on chaos and pain. It's sad but true. I advise him to do his best to eliminate these kinds of people from his life and when he can't, he's best off to not engage in the drama. Be forthright, honest & practice the golden rule and things should work out just fine. Who was I talking to?

If you are waking up in a bed with a roof over your head and your own clothes to wear, you are already blessed beyond measure. So my melancholy mood was rectified with lots of love from my friends and a big pot of homemade chicken veggie soup. Being in the south over the last week was just pure joy, lots of smiles, kind "hellos," and people are in the holiday spirit. Lots of street decorations already up and lit, cool, crisp days with stores not only playing Christmas music but so many of them have homemade hot chocolate and cider to sip while you shop, it's such a far cry from smoky California. My soup has my house smelling delicious and next up is cookies! Having Diana here for Saturday Thanksgiving was the icing on the Turkey Cinnamon rolls! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mandarin Festival Madness

Mandarin Festival 2015
Through the years, you all know how much the Partak family loves the Mandarin Festival. My first festival was with Mason in 2003 who was just one month old. Dave was training to deploy to Iraq so he was in Fort Lewis, WA. Through the years, because of the relationships we've made with the people at the festival, Mason and I were able to do live cooking demos, I got to run the cooking stage for a number of years while the woman who had done it had to be home with her family, and of course, we have all had so much fun participating in and sometimes winning the recipe contest. I can't be sure off the top of my head, but Dave, Mason and I have all won 3rd, 2nd, and 1st places in all categories, Mason, Dave, and I have all won the Snow's Citrus Court Award, and Dave has won the Best in Show Grand Prize as well. The last two years between running the cooking stage and life getting so busy with Mason becoming a teenager, I've been less plugged in to the time it takes to develop and create winning recipes. So much of my process to develop a recipe happens in my head. I process ingredients, techniques, and how it may look on the plate over and over before I ever try to make it. I've been doing this for the Mountain Mandarin Festival recipe contest since 2009, that's 10 years! Granted, I did not participate one of the two years I ran the cooking stage, but Dave and Mason did. With all of that said, I think we have a cookbook worth of mandarin recipes!
Mandarin Brown Sugar Ham w/Ham Sauce

Here we are in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the festival and the 10th year the Partak's have been participating in the recipe contest and I’m still in shock. This year the recipe that I developed in my head was a brown sugar mandarin ham with “ham sauce." Have you ever heard of "ham sauce"? Me neither. Sunday morning when I got up to get  things together for my ham, I decided at the last minute to make a mandarin upside down cake. I had thought about it, and I was enamored with how pretty I thought it would be. I had time and thought what the heck. I entered the ham and the cake and I won second place and $50 in the main dish category with my ham, but I won Best in Show and the Grand Prize with my cake! I seriously could not believe it. My take-away from winning the big prize is that I need to recognize that I do better when I don't over think things and when I don't try so hard. Seriously, I thought it was pretty and just whipped it up looking forward to how pretty it would be. I'm just over the moon, I have so much to be thankful for and I can't wait to be with all of our friends for Thanksgiving. 

Grand Prize Mandarin Upside Down Cake

Monday, November 12, 2018

Vacation in the Smoky Mountains and Nashville, TN

Gorgeous fall colors and 100-mile views. The weather is spectacular and of course, my people are my whole ❤️ He’s been making me laugh for more than 20 years. It’s our anniversary month and I couldn’t love him more, except tomorrow, I’ll love him more tomorrow, and the next day, I’ll love him even more then.
We have been having such a wonderful time. Only in the south can you sit and watch an outdoor show in individual rocking chairs, play hillbilly golf on the side of a hill with an elevator kart that takes you up to play, oh, and a hole with a Plinko board! Of course, you can’t leave out if I had a nickel for every time I heard “Y’all” and “Bless your heart.”

Waking up in the arms of crazy fall colors and light rain is just like our wedding day 17 years ago in Nevada City. Happy Anniversary Flower Dave, I love writing our story and can’t wait to see what’s next. As a little girl a love like we have was truly only in fairytales, thank you for showing me a new, incredible reality. Nashville, here we come!
Nashville was a hoot! We needed more time, but we ate wonderful food, went to Music Row, and spent several hours at Opryland Hotel that was all decked out for Christmas. It’s tough catching a crazy early morning flight home. It sucks waking up in the middle of the night, but we will be home early with the time change and still have some daytime left. Another epic vacation in the books.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Happy Anniversary Month!

Happy Anniversary Month David Partak! I still marvel at the idea that of all the fun things and experiences I've won on the radio through the years, the most meaningful would be you (Circa 1996)? As we approach 17 years married, we are going to spend our anniversary in Tennesee while last night, you had so much fun hosting Trick-or-Treaters here at home in Auburn. We were both so exhausted come bedtime that I think I was asleep before you, which in and of itself is unusual. We plan busy days, juggle schedules, and laugh a lot, that's what we do, we laugh about silly stuff, like "Free Jesus" pizza, and how middle age has our middles expanding! After a night of laughing, the next morning we will often still be giggling through sleepy eyes - yes, we really do wake up laughing sometimes. The bumps in the road are so few, they are not even worth talking about. Our love and marriage 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 and a little pee, too! 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. 

We arrived in Charlotte to have issues with my debit card, the rental car reservation and had to taxi to the hotel, where we had to pseudo hike from the street due to road construction. It’s frustrating, yes, but we are in a luxury hotel, safe and together. Tomorrow everything will work itself out. And tomorrow we will also get an hour back, so there’s that bright side, too. Sweet dreams... 💤
It appears Team Partak is back in the game. We got our rental car, went shopping for more Carolina Panthers swag than any one fan needs (WalMart baby!), and it seems we have worked out the debit card issue.

With that said, I have to share what a great feeling it's been to watch Mason move through the activities of this trip like a full blown adult. I sent him to check bags while I sat with mine and Dave's while Dave parked the car. He navigated the kiosk, got the tags on the bags, took them up to the counter and laughed with the agent, thanked the man and shook his hand before coming back to sit with our carry-ons while I went and checked my bags. He's growing up and he is so very able. It made me smile and so proud to see him taking care of himself and being good to the people he was interacting with. If you have young kids, let them do as much for themselves as they want to do. Don't worry if it takes longer or they make a mess doing it, it's okay. They will realize they need to plan their time and if they make a mess, they get a bonus life-lesson about how to clean it up. It pays off and I am sure it will give me a little added peace of mind as he heads out on his own more and more. 

Sunday we wrapped up the week at the Carolina Panthers game where they hosted the Tampa Bay Bucs. It was epic! I arranged for Dave to participate in the Salute To Service program getting to carry the flag on the field to open the game. As if that weren’t cool enough, Mason was on the Bucs side and not only got a pair of Mike Evan’s gloves, he got an official practice ball! Our trip is going great and we have barely started. å