The Gold Country Fair is Coming!

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Jim and Mason The Gold Country Fair is coming! September 10-13. For the first time ever, there will be a cooking stage and live cooking demos all four days.

There will be recipe contests on Saturday and Sunday – Saturday, bring your best apple dessert (not pie), and on Sunday it’s your best apple pie (2 crust) recipe. I will be cooking once each day along with some of our favorite local chefs and culinary professionals. On Saturday, one of our Jr. Hillmen football coaches will be making apple crisp with me, how cool is that?

You will get free admission with your recipe entry and kids 12 and under are free! Oh, and the first place prize for an adult and a youth on each days is $25! For more information about the fair, visit the Gold Country Fair website.

Awards on July 4th


PlaqueOver the July 4th holiday weekend I was presented with our Auburn Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award for the work I’ve done to put a new kitchen in at my school. I had no idea it would include all these other cool awards, too!







Park Pass & a Picnic, Beals Point, Folsom Lake


In this episode of Park Pass & a Picnic, we visit Beals Point State Park at Folsom Lake. Sadly, the water levels are so low, this puddle of a lake feels desolate and sad. Mason went swimming, but the water was never deeper than his waist. Ultimately, we did not picnic here as it was just not enjoyable this year, but based on the facilities, we will likely return when the lake is more full.

Hey, you can’t win them all, right?

Park Pass & a Picnic, Oregon Creek Day Use Area, North San Juan, CA

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This is the second stop on my summer adventure, Park Pass & a Picnic is on the middle fork of the Yuba River. This is my summer project of visiting and reviewing parks we’ve not been to and packing a lunch with what we have in the pantry and fridge. It turns out this is not a state park, it is in the Tahoe National Forest and is maintained by the Dept. of Forestry. What is good for you is that there is no charge to visit this park! Oregon Creek feeds into the Yuba river and it is super cool! There are lots of granite slabs to lay your towel on so you don’t need chairs, and the water is the most crystal clear as you have ever seen. I had my goggles so I could see fish and crawdads, I even saw a really big snake! It scared the bejesus out of me, but not enough to make me want to leave. My mom is still laughing about me do the “Scooby Doo” run trying to get away because I couldn’t get traction on the wet granite. I didn’t think it was funny at the time, but now I can laugh about it, sort of.

This park is only 50 minutes from where we live in Auburn and I’m sure we will go back, oh, and there is an awesome ice cream shop in Nevada City that you have to try on your way home, it’s called Treat, and it is on York Street right of the main strip that is Broad Street. They make their ice cream and have crazy good flavors, some you know and some you’ve never heard of like Breakfast Bourbon. My mom let me taste it, it was okay but my mom thinks my dad will love it!

I loved this park and my time swimming in the Yuba river, I will absolutely go back and think you should check it out, too. Oh, and before I forget, you can click here to get my killer tuna fish sandwich recipe.

From I-80, exit Hwy. 49 going north to Nevada City. Oregon Creek is 16.5 miles up Hwy 49 past Nevada City. Cross the bridge over the Middle Yuba River—marked by a “Yuba County Line” sign—and the Oregon Creek day use area will be on your right hand side. 

Park Pass & a Picnic – American River Confluence, Auburn, CA


This is the first stop on my summer adventure Park Pass & a Picnic, the American River Confluence right near my home in Auburn, CA. We love this park because it’s so close to our home, it has easy access to the water, the park has bathrooms, lots of trails to hike, and the area right under the bridge is a pretty calm place for kids to play and swim in the river.

The arm of the middle fork of the American river that feeds into the north fork has little rapids to play in and a nice, calm deep place that’s safe to jump off the big rocks. I am not wearing my life jacket in this video only because my mom determined that day that it was okay for me to swim without it. The river is never the same so we decide each time we go if I need my life jacket or not, they have some at the river for kids to use so even if I don’t have mine, I can still be safe.

For our picnic we had ham sammys and cherries, we just made lunch with what we had in our fridge – it was good!

If you don’t have an annual park pass, this park costs $10 for day use.

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My Summer Adventure – Park Pass & a Picnic

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Mason Video EditJust before school got out, my mom told me I had to go to summer school. I was mad, really mad!! She assured me it would not be so bad but I didn’t believe her.     When she sat me down at her computer and said she was going to teach me video production and editing like she learned her last semester in college I was so relieved!

She had an idea that we could use our annual California State Parks pass, pack a picnic and visit some of the parks we’ve never been to. She said we should stay within a 50 mile (one way) distance from where we live, but if we have plans to be out of town and we have time to visit a park, that will count. She is always trying to find ways to save money, so packing a picnic with the food we have at home makes sense and it can show people how good your lunch can be and you don’t have to spend lots of money eating out. Her idea is that she and I both review the park for the things we like and maybe the things we don’t like so much and then I can do a video to share our adventures with all of you. I think this is going to be so super cool! Don’t you?

Park Pass + a Picnic = My awesome summer adventure vlog!

Follow along and I hope you will share your ideas with me, too! This video is the first video I ever edited, I think it turned out pretty good.