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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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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
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Do you know what makes me smile? I read each of your comments, particularly the ones from those of you who entered my recent giveaway for the beautiful Mother Ring Charm Holder. And what I read was the pride in those few lines. "These are the names of the people I love most." I love that. And I get it. As a mother, I think I take the most pride in the four lives I've brought into the world. So, thank you all for sharing your loves and I wish every one of you could win. Sadly, I could only choose one winner. The rest of you may want to consider ordering the commemorative jewelry from my friend, Pam. You can contact her through her Facebook page, Pandora Lee Originals. To choose a winner, I went to the site, Random.org and plugged in the number of comments into the True... Continue reading
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My mother has a beautiful "Mother Ring." If you don't know what that is, it's a ring with a stone that represents the birth stone of each child in the family. Click on this link to read that story. I have always thought that I wanted one. You know, one that represents each of my kids. But I already have my mom's ring, so I have been wanting something of my own. But what? A few weeks ago my dearest friend in the whole wide world sent me an updated version of The Mother Ring. (Because "ring" - get it?) First, let me tell you a little about my friend (my BFF!), Pandora - her close friends call her Pam. She's funny and smart and the most caring person you would ever want to know. I've known and loved her for the past 40 years, which is pretty much a... Continue reading
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The weather here in Southern California has been phenomenal lately. Seriously. It has been the most perfect Spring so far. Very mild. Low 70's with a delicious breeze and then cooling in the evenings. (Go ahead. Take a moment. I'll wait until you're over your jealousy.) As the days grow longer and the weather gets so super inviting, and in spite of our busy schedules, we always set aside a few hours on the weekends just to be outside in our own space. You know how much I love my garden. Well, this kind of a Spring practically screams, "Come out and play right now!" Also, I'm thinking I'm going to have a Big Birthday Celebration next month (Eric and I both have "milestone" birthdays this year) and because our house is freakishly small charmingly small and cottage-like, the party will have to be outside. Just like we did last... Continue reading
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I first want to thank all of you who have supported my Cuban food poster. I love every time one of you sends me a photo of your framed poster and when you tell me how much you're enjoying it. It makes me feel like I'm right in your kitchen with you. (Not in a weird way, of course.) I've been hearing from many of you that the 16 x 20 size is a little too big for your kitchen, so I'm excited today to announce that you can get this really fun poster for your Cuban kitchen in different sizes. (Yay!) Here are the new sizes available today: 5 x 7 - $9.99 8 x 10 - 12.99 11 x 14 - $15.99 16 x 20 - $21.00 Here's the link: Cuban Food Poster on Etsy Order now if you're thinking you may want to get one for Mami... Continue reading
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This is not the way I pictured it. I'm talking about my life as Eric and I approach our Twilight Years. Which are really more of a pale yellow at this point, but that's not important right now. Here's how I pictured it: My kids would all be grown and gone. I have never had any illusions that they'd stay home forever. That would be just plain weird. But I did picture them living nearby. And they'd be coming over for a weekly family dinner. And we'd sit around the table and I would bask in the love and fabulousness of the beautiful family I'd created. And we would grow. And the table would stretch to accomodate more. It would all be super noisy and delicious and there would be lots of laughter and smiles. And that would be how Eric and I would live out our Twilight Years. Happily... Continue reading
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As you well know, it's my great pleasure to be a part of the Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium Committee. For one, we get to have our meetings at Porto's, but that's not important right now. What's so very cool this year is that the Dodgers love our Cubanity (<--that's a word, rightr?) so much that they've added a Cuba Night At Dodger Stadium. How awesome is this? The fun goes down on Monday. May 11th at 7:10pm against the Miami Marlins. Mark it on your calendars and make it happen! For every person that buys a ticket through www.dodgers.com/cuba for that night, you'll receive a voucher for a commemorative Cuba/Puig t-shirt. Are we having fun yet? Of course I'll be there along with My Big, Fat, Cuban Family. (Thanks for asking.) We'll be the ones wearing Dodger Blue and yelling "Dále!" at Yasiel Puig and eating the Cuban... Continue reading
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A few months ago I was invited to an intimate lunch reception at Gaviña and Sons Coffee Roasters. As you well know, I never turn down an opportunity to visit them as it's always a wonderful time, so I went. The guest of honor was none other than Senator Marco Rubio. He was in town trying to make a Big Decision and was wanting to connect with the Cuban community here. Again, it was a relatively small group (as these things go) and we waited patiently for his arrival, made easier by the generous donation of Cuban pastries by Gigi's Bakery, but that's not important right now. The Senator came in and asked not to be videotaped as he was just talking with us "entre familia." (As family.) And he spoke to us from his heart. He answered every single question thoughtfully and not at all like you would imagine... Continue reading
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Yesterday, as many of you know, was Baseball Opening Day. Can you just smell the freshly mown grass and the chatter of happy and excited fans? Can you picture the dramatic unfurling of the US shaped flag? And of course, the fireworks? And are you now celebrating the Dodgers' Opening Day (1-0) win over the Padres? And are you now so super excited for Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium coming this summer? (Of course you are.) We've also added a Cuban Night at Dodger Stadium this year. On Monday, May 11th at 7:10pm. How cool is that? That's two games of Cuban Dodger Awesomeness. Oh the Cubanity! I happen to live a few area codes from Chavez Ravine, but having grown up in Santa Monica, LA will always be my team. And, of course, I'm Cuban, which means baseball is part of my cultural DNA. I'm super excited to... 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. 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