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.


The Making of Mason Made

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This is a cool short film or documentary my mom made about how she feels about my journey as a kid cook. she said she will make another one about my school kitchen project and also my perspective of how this has all happened. I hope you like it, I think it’s pretty cool! 

BerryFest 2015 Giveaway Time!


BerryFest15 Giveaway

I’m cooking at the home show this weekend so come see me if you are in Auburn. If you can’t make it to the home show, I will be in Roseville for 2 cooking demos each day, Saturday and Sunday – oh, and I have tickets! This basket is full of fun strawberry candies, a few kitchen towels and a family 4 pack of tickets! May 9 & 10 at the Placer County Fairgrounds. *Leave a comment on this post about what you love about strawberries and I’ll pick a winner (randomly) on Tuesday so I have enough time to get your prize and tickets to you. If you like BerryFest on Facebook and leave a comment that you like them, I will give you another entry! I’m sure you already like my page, right? Mason Made on Facebook, like me if you don’t already!


*If the winner is from out of town and cannot attend BerryFest in Roseville, the basket will be shipped without the tickets (may have to be slightly disassembled for shipping) and a local winner will be chosen for the tickets.

Fun with Barilla Pasta

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This is a little bonus post, you all know I had a blast being a part of America Cooks with Chefs back in December and January with my mom, right? Well, a few weeks back she got a BIG box in the mail and it was chock full of all kinds of fun pasta stuff. Check it out, a Calphalon pasta pot, lots of Barilla pasta including some of their special collections, a lovely pasta serving bowl, wooden utensils, a pasta tin, a cheese grater and a spoon rest. Oh, and lest I forget, a years supply of Barilla pasta! Yes, 52 free boxes of pasta! That’s alotta pasta.

Some of the things I learned through my time with America Cooks and Barilla is that pasta will not make you fat, excess calories will. Pasta is a good complex carb food. When you pair pasta with high fiber vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, you get a healthy, filling meal.

Pasta is good for you and the planet. Plant-based foods including pasta have a lower environmental impact. Barilla pasta is non-GMO, I know this is important to many people.

As soon as my mom opened her box, she immediately decided we were having my favorite pasta recipe for dinner, my Funky spaghetti but she makes it a little differently than I do. We used the bucatini which is like a thicker spaghetti noodle and it has a hole in the middle, yes, it’s hollow!

The recipe is super simple, lots of color cherry tomatoes, olive oil (just a splash), fresh chopped garlic, basil, salt and pepper. In my version, I crush all of this together with my hands. My mom prefers to give it a few whirls in my food processor, she doesn’t like it puree’d, but a more fine, consistent chop. She adds the hot al dente pasta right from the water into the tomatoes and mixs it all up with a bit of the pasta water – it’s SO good! We eat it for dinner hot and then I dream about having lunch the next day and eating it cold.

Finally, our little family of three does not need all this wonderful food so we gave some of the coupons for free pasta to our local food bank and we put together a super cool Barilla Pasta basket for my fifth grade class at what else, my schools annual spaghetti feed fundraiser! The basket brought in almost $80! Thank you Barilla and America Cooks with Chefs!

You can learn more about America Cooks with Chefs and Barilla Pasta by just clicking on the links. What is your favorite pasta recipe, I would love to know!