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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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This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Farmland® and Latina Bloggers Connect. But, of course, all opinions are my own. Recipe Development - let’s discuss this for a moment. When I hear the term, “Recipe Development,” I think of scientist types in an expansive, pristine kitchen, clothed in white lab coats and safety goggles. Because “Recipe Development," you see, is probably something that's best left to the professionals. At least that’s the way this plays out in my mind. However… I’ve had an idea for an appetizer-type recipe rattling around in my brain for a while. It has some of my favorite ingredients with the delicious addition of bacon. It would be ideal for a game day snack. And serendipitously, I’ve been tasked to develop a recipe using Farmland® Bacon. Full confession: My first reaction was, “Seriously? I’d so love to.” My second reaction, “I don’t really know if... Continue reading
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I really am so very grateful that I have so many wonderful opportunities come my way. I seriously get to go to some fun places and do really fun things. Like that time I went to Pixar and Skywalker Ranch. (I told you. Insufferable.) But my real life moves at a much slower and more reasonable pace. I still make dinner every night (mostly) and have mountains of laundry to do each week, but that's not important right now. What is important right now is the following. Discovering lots of places in and around our own area code. It's amazing sometimes the things I take for granted. This is at The LAB - AntiMall. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. Hands down the coolest hipster place to do a photo shoot in our area. (It took Lucy no time at all to move those cubes around while I just clicked the... Continue reading
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If you thought I was insufferable talking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch in January, just wait until I start telling you about Pixar. Pixar. *sigh* I have often (metaphorically) knelt and worshipped at the altar of the animation gods (little g) at Pixar. Ever since I attended my first animation festival back when I was in design school (in the 80's) and was amazed by John Lasseter's Tin Toy, I have been in love and in awe. When I received the invitation to actually visit the Pixar campus in Emeryville, I was completely beside myself. This was an item on my Bucket List that I hadn't actually ever added to my Bucket List because it was such a far fetched concept. It was more of a "If I could, one day I would love to visit Pixar." Ta-da! (Somebody pinch me.) The occasion was an invitation from Disney/Pixar to... Continue reading
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My mom just recently celebrated her 101st birthday. (It's still weird to say that.) As people do when they get older, she repeats stories that she particularly likes or maybe it's that the memory gets fresher as time passes. Either way, as her birthday approached, she would tell the story of her 15th birthday. In Cuba, as in other spanish-language countries, the 15th birthday is a Big Deal. It's the quinceañera, people! For her 15th birthday, which she celebrated in 1929, she received a few gifts from her mother and great aunts. This day might have been lost down the memory hole, but for the other gift that she received that day, which was this photograph. Her gifts were that beautiful Spanish Comb in her hair and the mantilla she's wearing. She also remembers vividly one of her aunts making her a big jar of delicious homemade mayonnaise. This is... Continue reading
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The New LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Death Star Model Display You know that I'm a self-professed über-nerd about all things Star Wars. Need I remind you about my recent visit to Skywalker Ranch? (<--there she goes again.) Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an invitation from LEGOLAND® California to witness the unveiling of the LEGO® Star WarsTM Miniland Death Star Model Display. Yes, please! I brought my Lego-loving husband, Eric along for the fun, which really didn't take much arm-twisting. "Legoland? DEATH STAR? I'm in!" The LEGO® Star WarsTM Miniland Death Star Model was quite an impressive thing. At 8-feet wide, 13-feet high, weighing more than 1900 pounds and made out of more than 500,000 LEGO bricks, the LEGO Death Star model is the largest addition to LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland. The new model display features iconic film scenes made of LEGO® bricks that were filmed inside the... Continue reading
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I keep repeating it to myself and to anyone who will listen. "My mom is one-hundred-and-one." It's not the number of years that strikes me as odd. It's the amount of life still left in her at 101. "My mom is one-hundred-and-one." I try to explain to people what she is like. What it's like to have a 101 year old mother. But it doesn't quite translate. Because my mom is A Character. She still (at 101!) has a great sense of humor. The following photos were taken at my house on Nochebuena, just two short months ago. I wanted to make sure I had photos of my mom with all of her grandchildren. Because posterity. I tried to get them to pose portraity-style. Because their grandmother is 101, after all. But it's Luza. "Make the ooh face, Abuela." No portraits for her. *sigh* And they love her for it.... Continue reading
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I'm busy these days keeping up my Etsy shop. Do you even know the fabulousness of Etsy? It's a wonderful place to shop online for one-of-a-kind stuff. I totally won Christmas last year by shopping on Etsy, but that's not important right now. All that to say this: I have an Etsy shop. It's called Marta Darby Designs. And you can find it right here. And you guys have been so amazing and have ordered so many posters that I'm seriously feeling all kinds of love for you, so thank you so much! Right now I have my Cuban Food Poster for sale in various sizes. There's a 20" x 30" that's pretty magnificent for $33. The 16" x 20" is super popular right now and is only $21.00. (Thanks, guys!) And I also have a 16" x 20" canvas available for $69.00. The 16" x 20" is this one... Continue reading
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To be Cuban is to be invested in the political outcomes of the island. Whether we live there or not. We are all such crazy opinionated, and vocal people. I don't know if it was always this way, or if it's just what has happened in the last 56 years as the Castros destroyed our beloved homeland. People often ask me why the Cuban people just don't rise up and rebel against the communist government. The truth is that there are many brave souls who do. One such person is Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, better known as Antuñez. Imprisoned for 17 years in the Castro gulag, he has continued his resistance to the regime and has always called for the freedom of the Cuban people at great personal cost. For more information about his struggle, click here. On Monday, February 16th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez and his wife, Yris Tamara... Continue reading
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That was the headline of a recent article in the New York Times. A dear Cuban friend texted me that headline and asked, "Why are we so special?" I don't think she was really trying to start a political conversation because she knows me so well, but that's not important right now. I responded with, "Because we can dance and have great butts." And that's how the crazy began... I decided to have some fun with this today. (Thank you, Carrie for sharing your Cubanity with me.) Here are 10 ways Cubans are special: 1) We can make great flan. 2) We know how to curse colorfully. 3) We can fix anything with duct tape. 4) We know the secret healing powers of Vicks VapoRub. 5) We make beautiful babies that smell of violets. 6) We have sexy hair. 7) We smell really good. 8) Our full-of-sh*tness is endearing. 9)... Continue reading
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This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Farmland® and Latina Bloggers Connect. But, of course, all opinions are my own. I'm looking forward to The Big Game. I'm talking about the Superbowl, of course. And, yes, I know who's playing and all, but truthfully, these days I'm more concerned with the menu than with what teams are on the field, (because I'm usually feeding an army of my own) but that's not important right now. I plan my Superbowl Menu by quarters. Appetizers for the first half. Main Dish at half-time. Desserts for the fourth quarter. I know it sounds kind of formulaic, but it works for the organized part of my brain. If I can make it work for my Cuban taste buds, all the better. Here's a Cuban-inspired appetizer using Farmland® Bacon. (I found it at Walmart.) I decided that the perfect appetizer would be something both... Continue reading
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I have lately been so caught up in telling all about my latest travel experiences (Skywalker Ranch, anyone?) that I have not stopped to write about the things that are happening in my real life and taking up space in my heart and mind. And I know I always tell you that some things are "not important right now," so I decided to share things that are important to me right now. With that in mind, here's what's happening in The Present Participle World of Marta for January 2015. (I know you care.) Loving our brand new mattress. Yes. It was time and we finally bit the bullet and now our bed is The Most Comfortable Bed Ever. We painted our bedroom yellow months ago and all of this is making me super happy. Mostly because I'm sleeping better, but that's not important right now. Working on some custom orders... Continue reading
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As part of our whirlwind trip to Skywalker Ranch (She's at it again!) we had the privilege of interviewing the director of the film, Strange Magic. Director Gary Rydstrom may not have a household name like George Lucas, but the man has some serious film credits to his name. Gary Rydstrom's name is practically synonymous with Skywalker Sound. He has won 7 Academy Awards along with other various and sundry awards in his field. You will find his name on the credits of such films as Finding Nemo, Saving Private Ryan, and Minority Report. Strange Magic is Gary’s first feature film as a director. And we bloggers had a great time talking to him about what that was like. I loved Gary's sense of humor and the laid back ease with which he talked about doing films and his career. You’ve had an incredible career. You’ve received seven Academy Awards... Continue reading
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Last week during my visit to Skywalker Ranch (Is she ever going to stop talking about that? Umm...no.) I got to screen the new film from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic. We had the unique privilege of watching the film in Skywalker Ranch's state-of-the-art Stag Theater with George Lucas himself. Insufferable. I told you. Also, please notice the familiar head of shock-white hair right at about the center in the photo below. I know. Shut up. So, first of all, it's a musical. Deriving, it seemed to me, partly from Lucas' 1973 American Graffiti and Marius De Vries' arrangements for Moulin Rouge. That was a surprising and pleasant surprise. The songs are everything from oldies like "Tell Him" and "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" to a couple from Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" becomes a pretty funny running gag throughout... Continue reading
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I told you I couldn't stop talking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch and everything to do with Strange Magic and today is no exception. To recap, I was invited by Disney and Touchstone Pictures (along with 24 other fabulous bloggers) for a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the famous ranch and for a screening of the new animated film, from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic. Here's my interview with George Lucas. And here's my oversharing about our visit to Skywalker Ranch. Today I want to share the time that we bloggers got to spend chatting with Elijah Kelley. Elijah Kelley is probably best recognized from his performance as Seaweed in Hairspray (2007). Also, he's absolutely adorable in person. When we arrived at Skywalker Ranch, I recognized Elijah right away and greeted him like an old friend. He was lovely. Very personable and willingly posed for photos with all of... Continue reading
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Last week (as you know because I can't stop talking about it) I visited Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. I was invited by Disney and Touchstone Pictures (along with 24 other fabulous bloggers) for a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the famous ranch and for a screening of the new animated film, from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic. What you don't know is that we bloggers were treated to an up-close-and-personal interview with George Lucas himself. I wrote all about our tour of Skywalker Ranch here. Today I'm going to give you a peek into, well, the mind of George Lucas and his impetus for making Strange Magic. Before the trip, I think we had all sort of fantasized about Wouldn't it be so great if we could see George Lucas himself when we visited Skywalker Ranch?, but again, that was still in the realm of fantasy. Then, just... Continue reading
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There are places in this world that are legendary to us über-nerds. Skywalker Ranch, located 40 minutes north of San Francisco is one of those places. Earlier this week I was privileged to visit the fabled home of Lucasfilm's amazing postproduction facility, Skywalker Sound and tour the ranch itself. I was invited along with 24 other bloggers to come up to Skywalker Ranch and preview the latest film from the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic. So, let's just review so far: I went to George Lucas' famed Skywalker Ranch to preview the latest film from the mind of George Lucas. (I know. Shut up.) Let's continue now, won't we? I have made notes and composed this post at least a dozen times because I want to share every little detail with you, but seriously, there's just too much to tell. Skywalker Ranch is a gorgeous slice of heaven. It's... Continue reading
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Seriously, people. I read every single one of your comments and I swear that your love for Cuban food shows right through. Thank you all for participating and sharing your favorite foods and your stories behind them. I'm grateful that you are enjoying my poster. Thank you for that. I love mine. And I figured you'd love it, too. I wish I could choose all of you, but that's why I can't be trusted with these kinds of decisions. Which is why I go over to random.org and plug the number of (legit) entries into the True Random Number Generator, which then gives me well, random numbers. The winners of the Cuban Food Posters are (drum roll, please)... Congratulations! 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) and be sure to include your mailing... Continue reading
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I've got all this great Happy New Year energy going right now and I have so many stories to tell and I'm going to San Francisco next week to visit Pixar and Skywalker Ranch. I just feel like I want to share the love and happy vibes. If you were in my town, I'd say, "Hey, come over for dinner. I'll cook you something Cuban." But since that's not likely to happen, how about I just do a Happy New Year Cuban Food (Poster) Giveaway? Yes. I think it's a wonderful idea. If you were coming to dinner, I would be torn. What to serve? Check out this poster and just try to make a decision. Because I look at this one every day in my kitchen, I think I'm going to try to master the art of making Pan Cubano. (See? It's not just cool looking. It's motivational, too.)... Continue reading
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You know that thing we Cubans do on New Year's Eve? Not just the eating of the 12 grapes and throwing the bucket of water out into the street, but the one about carrying a suitcase out into the middle of the street at midnight if you want to travel in the coming year? If you are confused about any of these Cuban New Year's Eve Traditions, read all about them right here. So, back to the suitcase at midnight. I was one of the many Cuban Faithful who grabbed my bag and took it out into the street as the rest of the world was hip-hollering "Happy New Year!" Because I want to travel this coming year and that's what we do and I may or may not be a little superstitious about this stuff. (Full disclosure: I did not make my way completely around the block, seeing as... Continue reading
I don't usually post political opinion here on my blog. I have on occasion written about politics regarding Cuba because it's not just politics to me. It falls more under the umbrella of home town gossip. Cuban politics in particular aren't just things that are happening 3,000 miles away. They affect real people in my life. People I am related to, or that I've met, or who's writings I read almost daily. On Wednesday, President Obama made the declaration that now was the time for the U.S. to be "normalizing" relations with Cuba. I had been traveling all day. Just returned from a family trip to Northern California and had not heard the announcement. But my inbox was full of inquiries from the media. Would I be willing to give my reaction to the president's announcement? I was conflicted for a moment. I know how these discussion inevitably go. There's... Continue reading
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In looking to review the things I have not blogged about, particularly parties from this year, I came across the photos we took last year at Christmas. And in keeping with my theme of Oversharing About My Parties Week, and since it's December, I thought I'd actually share some holiday party stuff from last year. (Because I'm usually crazy-busy in December, I don't always take the time to write all the details of what I have done, and I know some of you may find it interesting.) So, you know how I'm completely enamored of all kinds of banners and flags and hanging festive things? Last year I had a brainstorm. Of course, I blame Pinterest. (Which, by the way, you can follow me there if my creative process interests you in any way.) I found a banner. Made of words. Which brings together two of the things I love... Continue reading
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Welcome to the 2nd installment of Over-Sharing About My Parties Week. As you already know, I have a beautiful grandson who was born in August. His name is Asher David-Edmund and he is a gorgeous creature that we are all head over heels in love with. Behold the besotted grandparents: Before he arrived, we had a really fun Hipster Baby Shower (of course!) in honor of him and his mama, which I want to overshare with you today. It was Amy who dubbed it The Hipster Baby Shower. I think because we had really different from your usual baby-shower-type decorations and food. Read on. The Invitations The theme for the baby's room was foxes and owls, so I created an invitation with a sweet owl design. For the life of me, I couldn't come up with a cute fox that made me happy, but that's not important right now. I... Continue reading
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In my family of origin we have the custom of always sending out invitations to events that people already know about and are coming to anyway. Welcome to our own special brand of crazy. Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday of November. My sisters and I are pretty much in constant discussion for weeks ahead of the party. Who will bring what? Who is coming? How many? All those details that I'm pretty sure everyone's family discusses before major events. Now, having all this information, we dial up the planning to include invitations to the people we already know are coming. Like I said, our own special brand of crazy. But it's our crazy and we like it. I have also been one-upping myself every year when it comes to setting the tables and creating the atmosphere for the last few Thanksgiving celebrations. Here are the links: Styling a... Continue reading
My dear Tamera, It pleases me greatly to know that I've inspired you, The Queen of Great Taste! xo, M P.S.The boxes are now a staple for every event I host. ;-)
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Hi Michelle, I'm so glad you like it! My frame shop does something called "plaque-ing." It's mounted directly on a hardwood board. The 16x20 size is a standard frame size. My daughter got a sweet black poster frame at IKEA for a very reasonable price. xo, Marta
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