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Marta M. Darby
Mission Viejo, CA
I'm Marta. Blogger. Mother. Documentor of Life. Cooker of Cuban Food. Wearer of Red Lipstick.
Interests: Writing, making art, gardening, homeschooling, cooking, scrapbooking, graphic design, photography and all things Cuban.
Recent Activity
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We had a big party this last weekend. We served a very cool Cuban sandwich themed menu. I'm going to tell you all about it in a few days, but today I just wanted to share that Every. Single. Person. that came through my kitchen made a comment about my Cuban Food Poster. Every. Single. Person. My favorite inquiries were the, "Where did you find that?" questions. At which point I made myself blush a little and cast my eyes downward and say, "Oh, that? It's my own design." (I've pretty much gotten this act down to a science, but that's not important right now.) I even had an Italian friend suggest I do an Italian food one, which I think I absolutely will, but that's not important right now. It made me think that it was probably time to do another giveaway, so here it is! I'm going to... Continue reading
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When I was in school (back in the day), one of the highlights of our young school lives was the arrival of the A/V Cart. If you're not old enough to remember this from your own school days, A/V is shorthand for Audio/Visual (you're welcome) and the cart would usually hold a movie projector and possibly a record player. Eventually the A/V cart held a TV. I know. Mind blown. Something wonderful was sure to happen when the A/V Cart arrived. Also, there was always one impossibly nerdy kid who got to be the A/V Cart Monitor and wheel the wonderful promise of fun into the classroom. He was usually the smartest kid, who usually happened to also be the teacher's pet. For the record, that was never me, but that's not important right now. So, let's talk Summer. And movie nights. Specifically Darby Summer Movies which, in case you... Continue reading
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I have a love/hate relationship with my hydrangeas. I love them when they're blooming and they're loving me right back, looking so happy to see me every day that they can't wait to give me gorgeous, long-lasting blooms. That's pretty much what our relationship is like right now. They bring the awesome every single day. But I hate when they go dormant. That's when I spend a lot of time staring at their spindly brown stalks during the winter months and I wring my hands impotently and have an ongoing running internal monologue in which I argue (with myself) about whether this might be the year that they're not going to come back. And why do they hate me so much?? (Remember, I'm Cuban. The drama comes as natural to me as breathing.) Ah, but look. This was taken just at the beginning of spring and after their first good... Continue reading
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I didn't know how they were going to pull it off. I'm talking about Disney•Pixar here. I had seen the cute trailers and even watched the first 20 minutes of the new Disney•Pixar film, 'Inside Out,' and I was still unconvinced that they could pull off what they were attempting. In this brilliant animated feature, Pixar uses the actual feelings of sweet 11-year-old Riley as comedic characters to tell the story of her emotional turmoil as her parents move her from the security of her idyllic childhood in Minnesota to all the unknowns of a new life in San Francisco. Before I go on, I have to confess that at that point I was already feeling all the feels, as that was my own childhood story. Having been the newly exiled Cuban child in the U.S. and again moving from a new life I had already embraced in Florida to... Continue reading
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I love my garden. I love getting my hands dirty as I plant and re-pot and freshen my flower beds. It's not that I don't own gardening gloves. I do. Multiple pairs. But there's something magical and healing about feeling the soil on my hands and touching the roots as I gently press the plants I'm re-potting into their new larger containers. And the movement of the fresh, brown earth slipping through my fingers is practically a religious experience for me. I may or may not also talk to my flowers and encourage them to do a little bit better this year. Of course I help them with this. Technically, Scotts helps them with this, but that's not important right now. I'm still the one who gives them the pep talk, so that's something. The other day, my mom - Luza, who is 101 years old - calls. She has... Continue reading
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Back in January when I had the sweet opportunity to visit Pixar and Skywalker Ranch (I will drop this into any conversation when given the chance, but that's not important right now), I had the good fortune to preview about 20 minutes of the new Disney/Pixar film, Inside Out. Read all about that here. This preview whetted my appetite for the actual film and put me in an I-can't-hardly-wait state of mind. If you've seen any of the cute trailers for the film, you'll understand why. I finally got to see the entire film and (wait for it...) interview the very talented people who made this film happen, notably Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera as well as the amazing cast of voice actors. I invited my daughter, Lucy to come along since she's my assistant and is already doing press for the college she works for. I hoped... Continue reading
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Our good friends at Habana Brand Clothing have done it again and hit it out of the park (pun intended) with this wonderful one-of-a-kind-collector's-edition Tshirt for this year's Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium. The game will be on Sunday, July 12th, but the Tshirts are already on sale and you should get one ASAP, before they run out. At our last committee meeting, we started some friendly I-bet-we-can-sell-more-tshirts-than-you type banter. Actually, there was a lot of arm waving and loud no-way-you're-totally-going-down smack talk (in English AND Spanish) about who could sell more shirts and after all the yo-mamas were thrown down, we were both challenged to put our money where our mouths were and make it happen. And because our bilingual smack-talk was witnessed by none other than Betty Porto (owner of Porto's Bakery) and Rose Marin (head of the Cuban Heritage Committee), they challenged us... L to R:... Continue reading
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One of the most fun things about doing giveaways is reading over your comments. When I do, I often wish I could give every single person who entered a prize, but sadly, that's not possible, at least today it's not. Anyway, the way I choose a winner is I take the number of comments (excluding any duplicates) and enter that number into the True Random Number Generator on Random.org. and that gives me the number of the winning comment. It's a lot more efficient than putting all the comments into a hat, and sooo much more 2015. The winner of the Cafe La Llave Bag of Coffee Awesome (according to the very impartial Random.org) goes to...... Congratulations, Maite! Please send me an email with HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line so I don't accidentally delete it. Send me your mailing address and I'll get... Continue reading
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I'm wearing a hairnet. And I'm posting the photo on the internet for the world to see. And I'm pretty okay with it. WHO AM I?? I have a wonderful giveaway for you today. But let me just tell you how it came about. The Cuban Heritage Day Committee (of which I am a proud member) had a meeting at the Gaviña Coffee Roasters plant. You know how much I love coffee and I love the Gaviñas, so of course I said YES! I've taken this tour a couple of times and I swear to you it never gets old. Plus the amazing fragrance of fresh coffee is everywhere and quite intoxicating. The freshest beans, the highest standards, the most delicious coffee - it's not accidental that Café La Llave® is one of the best espressos out there. And for us Cubans, good espresso is...everything! So we toured the beautiful... Continue reading
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You always manage to surprise me. 1) Because just when I thought maybe I was the only one who had any memory of the deliciousness of SPAM®, you guys bring the good stuff. 2) Croquetas made with SPAM®?? COUNT ME IN! The winner of the Wonderful SPAM® Bag and all of its Spammy contents is... Congratulations, Pilar! You've won the following - 1 SPAM Tote Bag Sunglasses (these are Eric's favorite because they're super polarized) Cutting Sheet Can Holder Pen SPAM Can Bank SPAM Temporary Tattoo SPAM Spatula (say that 3 times, really fast) SPAM Slicer Wine Glass SPAM Cook Book SPAM Apron SPAM Mug SPAM Pennant SPAM Pot Holder And a variety of SPAM product Please shoot me an email with HEY! MARTA I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line, so I don't accidentally delete it. Be sure to include your mailing address so that they... Continue reading
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I was recently invited to cook with celebrity chef Sunny Anderson. I know. Shut up. Of course I was going to attend! The surprise was that she was kicking off The SPAMERICAN!TM Tour and would be cooking - wait for it - with SPAM®. FYI: The SPAM Brand invited me to the event and provided me with a gift bag like the one I'm giving away. All the opinions and text are my own. Do you remember the ubiquitous blue and yellow can that was in everyone's mother's pantry? Go right now and read about the 6 simple ingredients that go into each can of SPAM®. It's okay. I'll wait. Wasn't that interesting? I know a lot of us Cubans from my generation remember it fondly. In fact, my mom used to make a wonderful Arroz con SPAM®. I am not kidding. In fact, I'd forgotten all about it until... Continue reading
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I recently celebrated having traveled around the sun for 21,900 days (give or take a couple of leap years). I had a lot of assumptions and deep thoughts about this particular milestone in my life. I'm 60 years old. Here are 20 of my Big Thoughts about this journey of life. 1) I thought that I would be further along in certain places. I'm not. 2) I thought I'd feel differently than I did when I was in my 20's. I don't. 3) 60 didn't suddenly make me wiser or funnier or more resilient. But then it's the slow-growth aspect of my trajectory that made those things happen. There is no suddenly when it comes to character development. It just seems that way when you're not trying to be too careful about measuring that type of growth from moment to moment. 4) That cliché thing that says you only remember... Continue reading
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As always, I'm grateful for all of you who take the time to enter my giveaways. Plus it makes me feel like I can show my gratitude by offering you something of value. I appreciate that you don't all live in a climate conducive to growing veggies and herbs, so I acknowledge those of you who entered the giveaway and are feeling excited to get your garden growing. So, again, thank you. The winners of the two Scotts Miracle-Gro® Veggie & Herb Garden Starter Packages are: and The winners will each receive: 1 Scotts Yard Care Wet/Dry Grip Gardening Gloves 1 Scotts Miracle-Gro® Stainless Steel Floral Cutter 10 Miracle-Gro® Growables® Combination mulch, seed & fertilizer pods for assorted herbs and vegetables. Congratulations, Cindy A. and Faustino! Please shoot me an email with HEY! MARTA I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line, so I don't accidentally delete it.... Continue reading
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California is fickle. It can be 100 degrees one day and back down to 65 the next. It's been a relatively mild Spring and we are now barreling towards summer and that means Outdoor Entertaining Season. Can I get an "Amen?" Eric and I have been planning a Big Birthday Bash. It should have taken place this weekend. However, because California is acting out like a spoiled child right now and the weather is not cooperating with our plans, we've had to bump our celebration out another month. I'm okay with that. It just gives us more time to attend to last minute garden details. Remember last month when we started loving and feeding and refreshing our lawn and garden? Scotts wants to know how I express myself in my garden. Hello....Flowers! I'm a Flower Lover. Anything that will give me lush green leaves and gorgeous blooms has my heart.... Continue reading
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I get so many wonderful invitations to do so many fun things, that I really have to pick and choose where I can best apportion my time. So when I received an invitation from my friends at LEGOLAND® California to visit their newest addition, LEGO® Friends Heartlake City, I was super excited, because...LEGO! But the opening was happening on May 21st, which just happened to be my 60th birthday (but that's not important right now). I couldn't go because my family had made other (fabulous) plans for me. Enter my friend, Marie Day, who lives in Carlsbad and with whom I've had the "We love LEGO®" conversation many times. "Do you think you and the kids could cover this event for me?" I'm happy to report that the Day Family stepped up. Here's their story... The Days at Heartlake City The opening of LEGOLAND® California's newest addition, LEGO® Friends Heartlake... Continue reading
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Humor me for a few minutes as I time travel a bit. I'm old enough now to remember the days when Walt Disney was the visionary of our time. I remember the days when the Tomorrowland located in Disneyland Park really conceived a distant world of the future. Back then, the iconic Carousel of Progress was really a vision into a future that was possible, but still "out there." The latest offering from Disney Pictures, Tomorrowland, starts us out at the New York World's Fair in 1964. I practically came out of my seat when they began with the Sherman Brother's song, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" that they used to play in the Carousel of Progress. Perfect, Disney. You've totally got my attention. I got to see the film in the beautiful Grauman's (now TCL) Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. In IMAX. (Side note: Go see this film... Continue reading
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"Imagine a place where nothing is impossible." Of all the things that I thought that I might be writing about, never did I ever imagine that "interviewing George Clooney" would be one of those topics. But that happened and here we are. The context is that Disney Pictures has made a wonderful, oh-so-Disneyesque film called, "Tomorrowland." And George happens to play the lead character, Frank Walker. And I was invited as part of the press junket for the film, Tomorrowland held at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The rest of the cast, Britt Robertson (“Casey Newton”), Tim McGraw (“Ed Newton”), Raffey Cassidy (“Athena”), Brad Bird (Director / Producer / Writer), Damon Lindelof (Producer / Writer), and Jeff Jensen (Story By) were also present and were all very articulate and lovely. But, as you can imagine, I only had eyes for George. (Can you blame me?) Clooney describes his... Continue reading
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Disclaimer: This post contains an inordinate amount of selfie-type photos of me. Forgive me. I was so over-the-top excited about this night and being where I was and meeting who I met. It's a Cuban thing. Imagine a stadium full of Cubans, all noisy and celebrating and munching on Dodger dogs. Picture them stopping to do the mandatory Cuban kiss thing. "Oye! Hace tiempo!" Picture them talking loudly and laughing and sharing pastelitos de guayaba right there in the stands. Picture them dancing wildly when the Dodgers score. Well, technically, they were already dancing, because Cubans, but that's not important right now. Those were the sights and sounds of Cuba Night at Dodger Stadium on Monday, May 11th. As part of the Cuban Heritage Committee it was my great honor to help organize this fun event and work hand in hand with the Dodgers. We were asked to "Please arrive... Continue reading
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I love nothing more than gathering around a laden table full of delicious food and my favorite people. As a matter of fact, my favorite people happen to be my kids. Mother's Day weekend felt like it should have a lot of those moments. But of course, I wanted to spend as much time as possible just visiting with Amy and Adam. And enjoying my delightful grandson. So I opted for a super simple (but delicious!) menu. You know my motto: "Food Should Taste Delicious." In this case I have a favorite go-to Chicken and Pasta Bake. It takes almost no time to put together (and I cheat a little by getting a pre-cooked chicken to save time) but it has a super wow factor when it hits the table. I was truly craving more time to connect with everyone, including my own mom, Luza. She's 101, as you know,... Continue reading
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For those of you loyal readers, by know you've figured out that almost every Mother's Day, we (the children of MBFCF) have proudly hijacked our mom's blog with some adorable photos and commentary about how much we love and adore our mom. The first year, we wrote THIS. The following, THIS. You get the idea. This year, we decided we were tired of writing about it… but that’s not important right now. (Happy Mother’s Day. We love you!) There is so much more we have to say... but maybe we'll save that for next year. ;-) Continue reading
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I was feeling a little sorry for myself because Mother's Day is coming and half of my kids are scattered all over the map. See this story. For us Cubans, as is true for most Hispanic cultures, Mother's Day is like a High Holy Day. Am I right? Either way, I was still going to celebrate with the 2 that are still here and of course, I'll be spending the afternoon with my own mom and wearing the mandatory Red Carnation, of course. I was still kind of day dreaming about how wonderful it would be if we could have one big dinner together. Wouldn't it be awesome if they could all be here for Mother's Day? It was more of a fantasy than an actual prayer, however... Through some miracle of work scheduling and life events, it turns out that I'm going to have them all with me on... Continue reading
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Let's face it, I'm already a self-confessed Marvel Fangirl, so I went into the screening of Avengers: Age of Ultron with really high expectations. I am not exaggerating when I say that not only were my expectations met, they were fantastically exceeded. Yes, of course, this much anticipated entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an excellent popcorn movie. That was to be expected. But it's the unexpected that makes this film a home run for writer/director Joss Whedon. First of all, imagine taking such a formidable cast, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) all accomplished actors in their own right and treating them, not just as an ensemble, but each as the stars they are. Whedon absolutely accomplished this in Age of Ultron. He has taken six characters, heroes no less, and... Continue reading
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I can't very well let the month of April go without stopping to celebrate the things that I'm grateful for in my very extraordinarily ordinary life. What's important right now? DRIVING a brand new car. So new, in fact, that I don't quite recognize it yet. I told Eric that I felt like I needed an ESCAPE. He took me literally. I am pleased. LISTENING to a wonderful collection of inherited old records from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. I'm so glad Jonathan appreciates vinyl, big bands, and crooners. We've been having a great time sitting around just listening to records. It's become a thing around here. CELEBRATING Eric's 50th birthday. We kidnapped him and took the train up to LA and spent a day at the California Science Center exploring the Dead Sea Scrolls. A dream field trip for us nerdy types. BABYSITTING as often as possible for our... Continue reading
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I should probably start with a disclaimer about how this post is going to have lots of photos (you can thank me later) and be really long and fangirly (<--is that a word?) and I'm probably most definitely going to be gushing. (Oh, no! There's going to be gushing?) I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Press Junket at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. And I just had the distinct pleasure of typing that last statement and can hardly believe it actually refers to my real life, but that's not important right now. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that the newest Avengers film - Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be coming out in theaters on Friday, May 1st. I promise to write a review on Friday to give you my thoughts on the film (Warning: there... Continue reading
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It is my great pleasure to announce that I'm participating in a fabulous celebration of children and books called Día Blog Hop, organized by Latinas for Latino Lit. The Blog Hop features the very best of Latino children's book illustrators and authors. It's very cool to be a part of such a great group and program. 13 Latino authors and illustrators have been paired up with 12 top Latina bloggers to champion Latino children's literacy. The schedule of blogs that will be hopping along with me are: Monday, April 27th Pat Mora on Latinas 4 Latino Lit Monica Brown on The Wise Latina Club Margarita Engle on MommyMaestra Tuesday, April 28th Alma Flor Ada on My Big, Fat, Cuban Family René Colato-Laínez on Modern Mami Meg Medina on Atypical Familia Wednesday, April 29th Angela Dominguez on My Friend Betty Says F. Isabel Campoy on Family is Familia Mariana Llanos on... Continue reading