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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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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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I'm super excited to share this with you today. So, you know that I have that fabulous Cuban Food Poster that I designed last year. I've had such a great response from you that I decided to go ahead and create an Etsy shop (I know. Who am I?) to make it easier for you to buy as many as you want. For those of you who don't know, Etsy is THE place to shop online for some of the coolest handmade, homegrown, fabulously designed stuff on the web. And look! Here I am! And because of this auspicious occasion, I've listed my 16 x 20 Cuban Food Poster (which, I know you've totally been wanting) at a discounted price just in time for Christmas. It's only $21.00 this week. Just in time for you to get one for every single person in your big, fat, Cuban family to open... Continue reading
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A few weeks ago Eric and I had the good fortune to enjoy a pre-screening of the newest Disney Animation film, Big Hero 6. Because we live a few area codes away from Burbank, where the Walt Disney Animation Studio is located, we turned it into a Road Trip/Date Night. First of all, let me say that I had no preconception of the movie, nor did I quite get the extent of the plot from watching the trailers. I knew it was about a young braniac teen named Hiro and a big, fluffy, inflatable robot named Baymax. Truthfully, I couldn't conceive how they could construct a compelling story around these two unlikely "heroes." As soon as the story begins to unfold in the streets of San Fransokyo, every one of my emotions was immediately engaged. The animation (this goes without saying) was beautiful detailed amazing. This is my entire problem... Continue reading
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Last year I had the privilege of attending an event at the Disney Animation Studio and I was overwhelmed by pretty much everything I saw and experienced. That was for Frozen. You would think, then, that I would not be very impressed with the idea of going back again to attend a press junket for Walt Disney Animation Studios' newest project Big Hero 6. You would be wrong. I was super-out-of-my-skin excited to receive the invitation to do a meet and greet and round table interviews with the producer, directors, and voice cast. And, of course, I got to visit the Walt Disney Animation Studios once again. (Pinch me.) The makings of a Disney animated film are intense and complex. I was quite surprised to learn that the voice talent had not actually met or worked together while the film was in production. They record their own dialogue in a... Continue reading
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I was having a conversation with my mom (Luza, who, by the way, is 100 years old) and I was telling her how weird it was to only have 1 of my kids left at home. Technically, even Jonathan is not here, because he's gone most of the time with school and auditions and driving to LA and rehearsals for the play he's in. So I find myself rethinking making meals. I'm so used to cooking for a crowd and now it's just me and Eric. Which is awesome. And completely weird to me. So I am telling this to Luza and she suddenly she asks, "Is your kitchen clean?" Which at first I thought was an issue with her synapses mis-firing again because that seems to happen more often lately. She's 100, after all. I thought she was changing the subject. "Yes, as a matter of fact, it is."... Continue reading
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Do you know what I love most about running a comment giveaway on my site? Well...your comments. Seriously, I love hearing about who the best cook in your house is and about your favorite foods to cook. That, and I have some cool things to give away. I wish all of you could win because this is such a beautiful cookbook. Or as we say in "good Cuban," Ana Sofia Peláez and Ellen Silverman, "You ATE it!"* NOTE: *This particular Cuban phrase loses everything in translation. "Te la comiste" means that you did an amazing job. See? Everything sounds better in Spanish. Congratulations to the winner: Beatriz Navia, you won! Please send me an email with "HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG!" in the subject line. Include your mailing address so I can send you your very own copy of The Cuban Table. You are so going to... Continue reading
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Last year I had the good fortune to participate in the Cuban Cultural Center of New York's (Centro Cultural Cubano de Nueva York) 12th Annual Congress. You can read about that right here. It was there that I met another one of the chefs involved in the event. Ana Sofia Peláez is the author of the very delicious food blog, hungry sofia. We shared a kitchen and chatted a bit as we made our own creations. That day she made Cucuruchos de Coco y Almendras for all of us (which were to die for!) and told the stories of how she had been traveling on a Cuban Food Adventure with the amazing food/travel photographer Ellen Silverman. Together, Ana Sofia and Ellen went to Cuba and Miami (of course) and New York where they visited both Cuban home cooks and accomplished chefs who eagerly shared their stories and recipes and secrets... Continue reading
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Have you ever seen those photos that people take of their kids in the exact same spot or with the exact same toy over lots of years? It's a wonderful way to mark the passage of time and show the child's growth and how they've changed and grown. You know I'm a big fan of then and now photos. I think they make me much more appreciative of the good times we've had, while also helping me be "in the moment." We have a tradition that we do every year where we take a vacation week down in Del Mar, California and go surfing (well, my husband and kids do the actual surfing while I sit on the beach and document the magic, but that's not important right now). We usually take the week that Lucy celebrates her birthday and Eric and I celebrate our anniversary. It was 5 years... Continue reading
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Okay, people. Can I just tell you that I love when you talk about Cuban food? My take-away when I read all your comments was, "Wow. We Cubans are passionate in our love for our food." That's really true, isn't it? Personally, there's something about the sublime blend of flavors in the almighty sofrito. The texture of a beautiful plantain. The variety of soups. The endless list of desserts. So much goodness to choose from. The food of our memories, our imaginations, and our abuelas' kitchen. And the memories of wonderful meals and events at Versailles? So many great stories about Cuban comfort food and celebrations. Thank you all for sharing. Sadly, I only have one autographed Versailles Restaurant Cookbook to give away. But, congratulations to the lucky winner! Irma, please send me an email with HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! in the subject line. Include your... Continue reading
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I can't, in good conscience, end Hispanic Heritage Month without talking about my love of Cuban food and sharing a wonderful new Cuban cookbook. Obviously I'm a lover of all-things-Cuban. Particularly the food that so defines our culture. Platanos, black beans, tostones, lechón asado, picadillo, and of course, pastelitos de guayaba. Food just doesn't get any better than this. I'm happy to report that the wait is over for this wonderful cookbook. My friend and Real Housewife of Miami Alum, Ana Quincoces has partnered with the Versailles family, specifically Nicole Valls to bring you a collection of all of your favorite Cuban recipes from the iconic Versailles Restaurant in Miami, with the forward by ...wait for it...(drum roll, please)... Andy Garcia. (Pinch me!) Part history and lore of the Versailles Restaurant, part detailed cookbook, with a good dose of Cuban idioms makes the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook a must-have in the... Continue reading
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I have a confession to make, I was not prepared to like this movie. But let me tell you why... If you read my post from yesterday, you know that Jonathan worked as a featured background guy on the new Disney movie, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And if you did read all about it, you know that I'm going to be completely insufferable, but that's not important right now. Movies are not made in a perfectly sequential order. You probably knew that, and I think I did, too, but I wasn't quite prepared with how jumpy and seemingly untethered the story appears as they are working on random scenes. Plus, they shoot scenes over and over and over which is how the director decides which "take" tells the story best. It makes very little sense to those of us in the peanut gallery. And, of... Continue reading
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Sit back. Get some popcorn. I have a wonderful "full circle" type story for you today. Jonathan worked on the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day last summer as a featued background actor. It started almost exactly a year ago when Jonathan decided he might like to give acting a shot. He signed up with a casting agency that specializes in background actors. Specifically kids. Because we homeschool and his high school classes were all online, there were no scheduling difficulties. He started working almost immediately as he was 17 and a few productions needed teenage background actors. I recall we were on vacation when I received the email asking if he was available to work for a few days in September on an upcoming Disney movie. Wait. WHAT? Disney had a film in production and they needed a few kids to work "featured" background."... Continue reading
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I had the absolute pleasure to attend the press junket last week for the newest Disney release, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A day at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills? Yes, please. I had already seen (and immensely enjoyed) the film, so I was really looking forward to hearing what the actors had to say. There were 2 panels. The first being made up of the director, Miguel Arteta, the producers: Lisa Henson and Dan Levine, and the screenwriter, Rob Lieber. To my everlasting delight, director Miguel Arteta invoked the mighty name of John Hughes (let's observe a moment of silence, please) as his inspiration for the way the film unfolded. "Yes!" I thought, "That's exactly how I would've done it." (Of course, that's the way I would have done it in the alternate universe I inhabit where I am in charge... Continue reading