Modern Day Thank You Notes

I have a love/hate relationship with the digital age we live in.

I kind of hate that unless your phone is turned completely off anyone can find you at any time. For the record, I never, ever turn my phone off. Not while I have kids out in the world, which is most all the time, but that's not important right now.

But I love when friends send me photos and we can share exactly what we're doing at any given time. It's the modern-day "thinking of you" greeting card.

In December, Lucy and I made vats and vats of Cuban eggnog, or Creme de Vie. I packaged it in the best, most beautiful bottles I could find and made custom tags to attach to them.

Creme de vie tag

We delivered the local ones and I sent them out to friends that don't live in our immediate area code, too.

In this modern age, the "thank you" usually comes electronically (and I'm absolutely fine with that) and many times the gratitude comes with a photo.

Like this one, with the note that read:

"Thank you for the yummy treat and the beautiful bottle too! xoxo"

Desi & creme de vie

That's my dear friend, Desi Arnaz Jr. (be still my foolish heart!) sipping some of my famous Creme de Vie. *sigh*

He can keep the bottle. I'll keep the "xoxo."  ;-)

Dear Desi... (A birthday love letter.)

A few years ago, thanks to the magic of the internets and because of a series of happy accidents, I got to meet one of my Cuban childhood crushes.

In fact, you can read about My Adventures with Desi in the Blog Category that has his name, Desi Arnaz Jr. (I know I could change the category name to "My Adventures with Desi." I don't, because I just really like seeing his full name on my blog * sigh*, but that's not important right now.)

Desi & me

It's Mr. Marta's-Childhood-Crush's Happy Birthday today. =D

Dear Desi,

I wish you the happiest of birthdays today! Much love and good wishes!



P.S. I promise to make you some of my famous arroz con pollo and maybe some more pastelitos on my next visit.

Desi & me & pastelitos

Feel free to leave Desi a birthday greeting on this post. I know his wife, my friend Amy will make sure that he sees it. ;-)

I know. I'm a fool. *sigh*

The Best of MBFCF in 2011

It's that time of year when I look back and see what has transpired in my life this past year. And it's moments like this when I realize how grateful I am that I started blogging.

Here's a time capsule look back at 2011 - MBFCF style. I also did this for 2010 and 2009 and I'm so glad I did. It's quite a compilation of stories I've got going on here. Do I sound surprised? The truth is, I sort of am.

If you're a regular reader, I thank you for hanging out here and keeping up with the "relajo" that is my online life here at MBFCF.

If you just recently joined the party, the following posts will give you a glimpse of what life is like here in my cyber-world as I walk you through my favorite posts over the last year. Welcome!

And if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook, please go "like" My Big, Fat, Cuban Family there.

Without further's the best of MBFCF for 2011. (NOT 2012! Not yet, anyway...)

1. An Historical Day - In which I celebrate my sweet Desi Arnaz Jr.'s birthday. *sigh*


2. On a clear day, you can see Havana - In which I tell about my Dad's amazingness as a storyteller on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Papi on the roof

3. El Bix - A Cuban cure for all that ails you - In which I celebrate the magical properties of Vicks VapoRub.

El bix

4. For the love of guava.... - In which I discover (thanks to a dozen or so online friends) the amazingness of Conchita GuavaBites!

Guava bites

5. The Hawk Walk - in which my three men have a wonderful adventure together involving a hawk named Mariposa.


6. Always Right - in which my kids hijack my blog on Mother's Day which leaves me in a puddle of tears.

Lucy & me

7. N-E-S-T-L-E-S ... A Giveaway - in which I get to bake in the Nestlé Kitchens and was out-of-my-mind excited to be making REAL Nestlé Tollhouse Cookies in the Nestlé Kitchens. I know. Shut up.


8. It's a Small (Cuban) World, After All - in which my daughter, Amy Kikita and I inadvertently meet up with some long lost relatives.


9. How to make Cuban coffee with KILLER espuma. You're welcome. - In which my daughter, Amy Kikita reveals her secrets to making espresso.


10. Cooking with the Troops or Meet Team Cubanaso - the absolute highlight of my year, in which my big, fat, Cuban family and I  fly to Texas and get to make a Cuban Nochebuena-style lunch for 300 wounded warriors and their families.

Team cubanaso

11. Fricase de Pollo - a lo Cubano - in which I continue my quest to share my love of all Cuban food.


12. Cuando Sali de Cuba - stories of courage and hope - A series I began for Hispanic Heritage Month (Cuban Style) in which ordinary people show extraordinary courage as they began new lives here in the U.S. I'm quite proud of this. And by the way, if you have a "coming to America from Cuba" story to share, please email me.

Cuando sali

It's funny, but I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading my blog (statistics tell me you are, but that's not important right now) and if anyone cares about the silly things I write about. But there is one thing I know for sure and that is that I'm so happy that I've documented all of these stories, both mine and yours, and all of the happenings of this past year (technically, years - I've been blogging for 5 - count 'em!- years now).

MBFCF has become my personal legacy, and of that I'm quite proud. (Get the sandpaper! Pa' darme lija!)

Happy New Year!

The Dark Christmas Tree

It's December the 24th and my Christmas tree is finally up. But there are no ornaments on it.

My friends tease me because I don't like to decorate my home for Christmas very early in the month of December. In the Christmases of my youth, we would always wait until Christmas eve to decorate the tree. There's nothing like feeling the season when you're hanging ornaments, listening to carols, sipping creme de vie and smelling the intoxicating smell of the pork roasting all day in all of the garlicky goodness that is our Cuban Nochebuena.

So I like to wait. It's not that I don't love Christmas. I totally do. I love everything about it. 

And it's not like I haven't been busy. I finished all my shopping by the first week of December (thank you, Cyber Monday). 

We (by "we," I mean Lucy) have made vats of creme de vie. It's all been bottled and tagged and delivered to our friends. This includes my dearest Desi Arnaz Jr. (see photo below). *sigh*

Creme de vie for Desi Arnaz Jr

(I'm kind of in love with my tags this year, but that's not important right now.)

This past week I have been busy hanging our Christmas stockings, by the chimney with care, of course. ;-)

Christmas Stockings on the Fireplace

I have already given my girls their traditional matching Christmas PJs.

Christmas pjs

This week I also stocked my hutch with my favorite Christmas dishes.

Hutch decorated for Christmas

We (again, by "we," I mean Lucy) have made countless Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies. (That also means we have eaten countless Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, but that's not important right now.)

I edited and packaged our annual Christmas video and a family keepsake photo album of the highlights of everyone's year. They are all wrapped, tagged, and ready to give to the rest of the family tonight at our annual Nochebuena celebration.

Wrapped movies

The kids made our annual run to Porto's already this morning. (25 tamales, 25 croquetas de jamón, 25 pastelitos de guayaba, 25 pastelitos de coco, 25 pastelitos de guayaba y queso, 4 loaves of Cuban bread, a dozen papas rellenas, and some steak sandwiches to get us through the day. =D)

Porto's Bakery boxes

But it's already noon on Christmas Eve, and my Christmas tree is still not decorated. And I'm okay with that.

Christmas tree

Let me explain. My son, Adam, just got home today. Happily, he'll be with us for the rest of the week. He arrived on the o-dark-hundred flight from San Francisco and barely slept last night. He's here and napping now.

He was so looking forward to coming home for Christmas and he wouldn't be putting up a Christmas tree in his world. And so, I am completely content to wait with that dark tree in my living room.

When Adam wakes up from his nap, we will hang the ornaments, listen to Christmas Carols, sip some creme de vie, and enjoy the intoxicating smell of the garlicky goodness that is our Cuban Nochebuena.

I'll be reminded of the Christmases of my childhood and we will have made a memory. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Feliz Navidad, my friends!

An Historical Day

According to my friend, Amy Arnaz, the day that her husband was born, the news of his birth knocked the inauguration of President Eisenhower off of the front page of all the newspapers across America.

Can you imagine?

Eisenhower 1953

That was on Monday, January 19, 1953.

This same baby who created such a stir on Inauguration Day, 1953, was also on the very first cover of TV Guide that same year.

Baby desi

I'm privileged and proud to call this Delightful Disruptor of History, my friend. 

Yes, Desi Arnaz Jr. (*sigh*) is celebrating a birthday today. And apparently, there's Cuban food on the menu. (*takes bow*)

Desi & me

Happy Birthday, my sweet Desi! (*sigh*) May you have many, many more!



P.S. I still owe you that arroz con pollo, but that's not important right now.

P.P.S. Miss Amy, here's the recipe for the black beans. Buen Provecho!

Please go visit my sweet friend, Miss Amy's blog. It's called Insights from the Magic Tutu. Don't be shy. Go wish Desi Arnaz Jr. a very happy birthday. But be sure to tell them Marta sent you! ;-)


Desi's in Miami this weekend (and I am not). *sigh*

I was privileged to have had the opportunity to be in Miami in May for Cuba Nostalgia.

While there, I got to see and hang out with most of my favorite intransigent bloggers (=D) and to experience the food and music that define me as a Cuban.

I love living in So Cal, but every now and then, Miami sings her siren song to me. (It usually comes with a killer bongo beat, but that's not important right now.)

Desi Babalu poster

Opening tomorrow, July 8 through July 11 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, there's a show I'd love to see. The show is called..... (wait for it....) Babalú. (I know. Shut up.)

Starring Lucie Arnaz, with guests Raul Esparza, and Valarie Pettiford, and dancers Jeanette Delgado and Richard Amaro and very special guest (be still my foolish heart) Desi Arnaz, Jr. (Yes, that's right MY Desi. *sigh*)

So, if you're in Miami this weekend, please go see this show. Do it for me.

Don't forget to tell Desi that Marta sent you. *sigh*

(cross-posted at Babalú blog)

The Best of MBFCF in 2009

Everywhere you hear about and see the flashbacks, the nostalgia, the reminiscing about the past year.

Well, today I look back on this blogging year and some of my favorite posts. (Yes, I do have favorite posts and lots of others that make me wring my hands and wonder why I do this in the first place, but that's not important right now.)

Actually, it's tough for me to choose my favorites, because I write about the comings and goings and uber-geekiness and silliness of my family. For the most part, I usually write from my heart about whatever is on at that moment. And that continues to be the Reason I Blog.

But here are the Highlights of MBFCF for this past year. (As voted on by a panel of Myself. =D)


1. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Jamie oliver 

The time I was contacted by the producer for umm... Ramie Toliver. *sigh*

2. Pure Imagination


In which my son becomes the Greatest Candy Maker of All Time and leaves mom in a puddle of tears.

3. "Funny, but you don't look Cuban."

Fam hats 

Celebrating my mom's 95th birthday with party hats and great style.

4. Breakfast of Champions

Cafe con leche
Café con leche. That is all.

5. No 'Flux capacitor' needed

Time travel 

In which I run smack-dab into an icon from my past in the unlikeliest of places: Washington, D.C.

6. Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos or What Cuban Music Heaven Looks Like


The night we got to see Andy Garcia up-close and personal at the Conga Room.

7. Miles of Smiles


I just really like that picture and all the comments that you shared on that post.

8. Pastelito Delivery Service

Me, Desi Arnaz, Jr. and my Pastelitos de Guayaba in the same area code, at the same time. =D

9. How Many Cuban Girls Does it Take to Get ONE Photo?


I laugh out loud when I remember this moment. So glad I caught in on film and blogged about it.

10. Gonna buy five copies for my mother...

The day my coming-to-America story came out in the O.C. Register. (*she wrote, proudly*)

11. My Man, Ron

Reagan ranch

An unforgettable visit to the Reagan Ranch.

12. Measuring Life

Noche buena invitation 

Celebrating MBFCF in this year's Christmas video.

These were just some of the highlights of my year. I think that 2009 will go down in history as the year in which I Blogged Once Again. =D

Thank you all for allowing me to share the ups and downs of my big, fat, Cuban family with you. I look forward with great anticipation towards 2010 and all that it may bring.

Prospero Año Nuevo!

All Desi. All the time.

So we went to Vegas and Boulder City the week before Thanksgiving to see the fabulous Tormé Sings Tormé show. It was absolutely delicious and satisfying in every way. 


First of all Steve March Tormé's tribute to his incredibly talented dad (Mel Tormé) was both exhilarating to watch and yet tugged at the heartstrings as he sang while showing video of him with his dad.

For the sake of full disclosure, when he sang a medley of I'm Wishing (the Snow White song) and When You Wish Upon a Star, (with the family photos projecting in the background) the tears were flowing freely. What a gift!

Slide show

Of course, my favorite part of the show was when Desi got up and took to the Conga drums.(See him right there behind Steve? *sigh*)

Desi on drums 

I love that they knew each other as kids and are still friends today.

On stage 

After the amazing show, there was a lovely reception for the band at the Dam Hotel, (=D) where we were staying.

It was there that I got to give the lovely Miss Amy (Mrs. Arnaz) her MBFCF mug.

Mbfcf mug 

And also got to visit with her husband, My Friend, Desi Arnaz, Jr. (*blushes*)

Desi & me

The last time we visited I had taken Desi some of my famous pastelitos de guayaba. He enjoyed them so much he thought that maybe we'd be interested in buying the newly vacated restaurant space across the street from their theater. 


He's quite the convincing salesman, too. "Just think! I could walk across the street whenever I got hungry and have Cuban food!"

Okay, so maybe I was tempted, a little.

(Actually, my mind started racing forward in total I Love Lucy fashion in which Lucy and Ethel come up with some harebrained scheme to start a business - how apropos, right? - and I began to think that maybe living in Boulder City and opening a Cuban restaurant there wouldn't be so bad, and since we homeschool and Eric works at home, we could live wherever we wanted and we do so love Desi and Amy, and I'd get to see him... All. The. Time. But that's not important right now.)

So Eric and I talked about it and fantasized a little....

Marta's kitchen 

Until we remembered that it gets to be 120 degrees in the summer in Boulder City The Dam City.

So sorry, Desi, mi amor. =(  

But thanks again, Desi and Amy for a fabulous weekend. We'll definitely be visiting again! (And yes, I'll bring you some more pastelitos. MUAH! <--Cuban kiss.)

The Dam City

Eric and I were privileged to spend last weekend among friends in Historic Boulder City, Nevada. Boulder City was built to house the workers who built the Hoover Dam, also known as the Boulder Dam.

Either way, let's just call it what it is: The Dam City. (This is where the fun begins...)

Hoover dam sign 

We loved staying in the Dam Hotel. The Hotel has been host to many dignitaries over the years. Now they can include the Darbys on that list. =D

Dam hotel

And, of course, we went to the fabulous show playing at the Dam Theatre, which is owned by our friends, Amy and Desi Arnaz, Jr.


Here's the lovely Miss Amy busy with the decoration of the Dam window. ;-)

Amy in window

We ate our fill at the Dam Candy Store (aka Grandma Daisy's) The homemade dipping caramel was to die for.

Gma daisy's

In the Dam Hotel is the Dam Museum which tells about the building of the actual Dam, one of the Seven Civil Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.

Dam museum 

We even got to see the Dam Sheep.

Dam sheep
Actually we might have missed the Dam Sheep, but we had asked a local...

Me: "So, what is there to do here in the Dam City (=D) on a Sunday afternoon?"

Local: "You could go see the Mountain Sheep come down to graze."

Me: "Umm...okay."

The grazing Dam Sheep were pretty amazing after all. Who knew?

Our stay in Boulder City was relaxing and delightful. It is charming and welcoming in that small-town-America way. (Thanks, Amy and Desi!)

Street signs 

We picked up a souvenir for our son:

Dam hat 

And next time....

We may have to actually go out and visit the Dam itself.


We hear it's a Darn Big Dam. ;-)

Dam big dam

(I crack myself up.)

Mixing business with pleasure

We're back on the road to Vegas this weekend, but let me tell you why...

My blog-pal, Amy Arnaz, wife of my pastelito-loving friend, Desi Arnaz Jr. invited us to come and enjoy a special tribute concert this coming weekend at their beautifully renovated Historic Boulder Theatre.

Yes, of course we're going. For three reasons:

1) The Arnaz's were gracious enough to invite us. (!)

2) Eric had business in nearby Las Vegas this same weekend, (is that serendipidous, or what?) so we'd be in town anyway.

2) The tribute concert is called Tormé Sings Tormé.  It will be performed by Steve March Tormé (a childhood friend of Desi's) doing a classy tribute to the life and music of his dad, Mel Tormé

Yes, Mel Tormé, silver-throated jazz legend (also featured in the Seinfeld episode, The Jimmy, but that's not important right now). 

So, to recap, my weekend will involve a fabulous getaway with my husband in Vegas for a few nights, then a few days in Boulder City during which I get to spend time with Desi (*sigh*) and the lovely Amy, and enjoy Steve's big band tribute to his amazing dad.

Major added bonus: Just found out that Desi will be playing drums at the show. (Thank you, God!)

Could I be any more excited?