Let's Celebrate! Cuban Food Poster Giveaway

You're all invited to my Online Blog Birthday Party. It's happening right here, right now. Well, technically it's not a party party.

As in, I won't be having you all come over to my house and I won't be cooking or decorating or any of that. Which is making you think this won't be much of a party after all. I know. I feel your pain, but bear with me.

I still want to celebrate. And I want you all to join in the fun. 

And as much as I would LOVE to have a big, fat, Cuban party to celebrate my 9 years in the blogsphere, it's kind of logistically, not to mention gastronomically challenging, so let's do the next best thing. 

A giveaway! I'm celebrating my 9th year of Blogging Awesomeness with A Cuban Food Poster Giveaway!

Cuban Food Poster

Wait! How about I give away NINE (9!) posters? One for each of my 9 bloggy-wonderful years. Yes. I love that plan. Let's do this.

In honor of my 9th blogging anniversary, which I technically celebrated on October 1st, (but that's not important right now) I'm going to give away 9 of my Cuban Food Posters. 

That's right! Your favorite Cuban foods in one elegant poster. 

I have NINE (9!)  11" x 14" posters printed on high quality photo stock. They have a black background with white lettering and some distressing for an aged texture. The poster is printed on heavyweight premium luster paper with archival fade-resistant inks. And, of course, can be found over at my Etsy Shop.

(In case you are impatient and can't wait to see if you won and would like to order your own, please go visit marta darby designs on Etsy.

To enter this drawing for a chance to win one of nine 11"x14" Cuban Food Posters, please leave a comment on this post and tell me:

  • What's your favorite Cuban food?
  • Who cooks it the best?

Tell me.

Please leave your comment on this post and I'll choose NINE (9!) winners on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 at 11 am PST. 

Good Luck and Buen Provecho!


Nine Years of Awesome

If you're new here to My big, fat, Cuban Family, WELCOME!  

I've spent 9 years here in my little corner of cyberspace, writing and (over)sharing about my life and times. 9 years, people! And I'm excited and delighted to celebrate, not just the 9-year-milestone, but the New and Improved My Big Fat Cuban Family Blog. 

Please make yourself at home and feel free to click on all the links and all that and wander around my site and see if you like it. I've got dedicated sections for my Recipes, the main body of my blog posts are under Stories, and my Shop is where you can buy my Cuban Food Posters.

But before you do that any of that, indulge me as I walk down My Big, Fat, Cuban Family Cyber-Memory Lane...

I started blogging on October 1st, 2006. My goal then was to just document our daily lives as I was still homeschooling my kids and was deeply immersed in that world. Also, I wanted a place to write down my sweet and slightly fuzzy memories of growing up Cuban, of having left my homeland at a tender age, and how that has informed my life and choices in the present.

By October 1st, 2007, I was celebrating my 1st full year of blogging and was completely blown away by the amazing (<--The TRUE use of the word. As in, "causing great surprise or wonder.") cyber-community I managed to become a part of. In other words, It's a Small (Cuban) World, After All. 

October 1st, 2008, I had found my niche and my online tribe. I had started cooking my version of Cuban food and sharing recipes on the fabulous Babalú Blog. I felt like I had arrived. Look at me! I'm a real-life-honest-to-goodness food blogger! 

So I continued to write, and cook, and (over)share my little heart out. By October 1st, 2009, I was getting some bloggy self-esteem. People were coming over and READING what I had to share. And they were writing to me and telling me nice things about my blog and my writing. It was a heady time.

I was feeling so clever and proud of myself and had decided that every October 1st I would share a badly photoshopped faux magazine cover to celebrate my Bloggy Birthdays. 

Here I am, self-importantly sharing Cada Dia Con Marta Maria (with apologies to my muse, Rachael Ray). 

By year 5, I was practically blogging in my sleep. Like, seriously. Everything we did and every meal we ate and every place we went became blog fodder. (I apologize for nothing.) 

By October 1st, 2012, I was wondering if I had completely exhausted my repertoire of stories and recipes. Lucy had already graduated high school. Jon would graduate soon. Amy and Adam were busy getting on with their own lives. My mom, Luza was already 98. 

I'd give it one more year, I decided. Surely I would soon run out of things to (over)share by then?

Nope. I'm Cuban. I will ALWAYS have something to say. Like it or not, I was nowhere near bloggy retirement. 

Last year, on October 1st, I had hired Lucy to do the Photoshopping because she's so much more pro and I was doing a little too much. And she made me look way more awesome than I was feeling. 

So I hired her to work for me and make me look awesome once again. "Let's bring you into the 21st Century," she said. "Let's move your old blog over to Squarespace," she said. 

I got overwhelmed and may or may not have hyperventilated a bit. 9 years of blogging is an awful lot of words and posts and pictures and links.

So, I took the summer off from blogging and took the time to just BE. (I may or may not have had a minor nervous breakdown, but that's not important right now.) I'll eventually write about all the fun things we did over the summer and the parties we had, and all the places we went, but truly, taking time off from blogging was A BIG DEAL for me. 

But I did it. I let my blog just languish over the summer as we made the transition from good, old, faithful TypePad. I'm so not complaining about them. They served me well for all these years, but really, it was time to upgrade and yes, the break up was overdue.

Good bye, TypePad. Hello, Squarespace. (I hope I don't sound fickle.)

Eric has been feverishly working here behind the scenes to make sure the links work and the re-directs get, well, re-directed to where they need to be.

And Lucy? 

God bless Lucy, my in-house-all-knowing-hipster-cyber-designer has done the beautiful design you are looking at right now according to my exacting specifications. I'm deliriously happy with what my site looks like today. Also, she's 22 and hip and will not let me stay stuck in my old, comfortable ways, which I appredciate, but still... *shakes fist at Lucy* Ah, twenty-somethings and their endless optimism. 

All that to say this - it's a brand new bloggy day aound here, people! I'll be hosting a fun giveaway tomorrow and in the days to come, but today, I'm sitting around (metaphorically) sipping champagne and celebrating my fabulous new makeover and toasting to whatever the future brings.

My Big, Fat Cuban Family header.jpg

I can still be found (over)sharing all over the web. If you haven't already, you are welcome to subscribe to my Newsletter. I HAVE A NEWSLETTER NOW. I know. Shut up.

I'm back in business and ready to rock and roll. 

If you don't already, you can like My Big, Fat, Cuban Family page over on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter - I'm Smrtqbn.

I share photos on the daily over on Instagram. And I spend waaayy too much time on Pinterest. If you do, too, you should totally follow me, especially my Cuban Food! Board

You know I also have a YouTube Channel, too, right? That's where you can find some of my recipes, and of course, that's where you'll find my mom, Luza, explaining (in Spanish) How the Google and Yahoo Search Engines work. I give you, "Cuco and Yayo."

So, see? Even after 9 years, it's not looking like I'll be slowing down anytime soon. I'm like the Cuban Energizer Bunny.

That. Or I'm just Cuban. 

Happy 9th Blogoversary to me. Let the (over)sharing commence.

How to Make Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream

There are so many things that were different to our Cuban sensibilities when we first arrived in the U.S. Mostly in the foods we ate.

The bread was different. The meat was different. When someone said 'hamburgers,' we thought, 'frita.' It wasn't the same.

"No es igual." "It's not the same." We seemed to say it a lot. Did everything taste different in Cuba? Or were our memories playing tricks?

One particular thing that brings back the memory of the difference in our tastes is Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream. 

First, because we could not accurately describe it.

"It's like vanilla. But not."  

"The color is richer." 

"Maybe it's like French Vanilla?" 

"It tastes..."

The color was right. But the taste of French Vanilla Ice Cream, while better than plain vanilla, was still not quite mantecado. We couldn't describe it. But we would totally know when we did.

It was one of those taste memories that you remembered perfectly. "I'll know when I taste it."

I scoured the internet. I got email inquiries. "Do you have a recipe for Mantecado Ice Cream?" 

I tried and failed to make something close to the beloved Mantecado. I poured through my Cuban cookbooks always coming up a little short.

It was finally my friend, Ana Sofia Pelaez, author of the beautiful The Cuban Table Cookbook, who shared a brilliant recipe that she got from Suzy Batlle, the owner of ¡Azucar! Ice Cream Company in Little Havana. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream of My Memory. It's the rich, custard base that makes all the difference. *slaps forehead*

I should have known! The custard! Cinnamon and Nutmeg! But just a pinch. Barely a hint. 

It tastes like all the best parts of my childhood with a rich appeal to the foodie in me. "Es igual."  "It's the same." 

July 19th is National Ice Cream Day. I think you should celebrate with some Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream and make some sweet memories, don't you? 

Please watch my video and you'll get the idea. (Full recipe below)

Authentic Cuban Mantecado Ice Cream Recipe

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk, chilled


  1. To prepare the custard, combine the egg yolks, whole milk, 1 cup sugar, four, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended.
  2.  Pass the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a 3 or 4 quart saucepan.
  3.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard covers the back of a wooden spoon. 4 to 6 minutes.
  4.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  5.  Chill the custard at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6.  In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
  7.  Gradually add the remaining 5 tablespoons sugar and beat on medium speed until it forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
  8.  Add the chilled evaporated milk and continue to beat until it thickens slightly, 2 or 3 additional minutes.
  9.  Stir in the prepared custard and mix until well blended. 
  10.  Process in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Freeze until ready to serve.

It's totally 'igual.' But that's not important right now. 

The Super Cuban Dodger Awesomeness Winner

"Take me out to the ballgame..."

I'm so glad I will be seeing so many of you on Sunday at Dodger Stadium for Cuban Heritage Day. I'm excited to have my new coolest Dodger Blue Habana Brand Clothing tshirt to wear. I'll be there with my kids and I know it's going to be a grand "pachanga." 

Congratulations to the winner of all this Super Cuban Dodger Swag.

I know you will enjoy all this beautiful awesomeness.

Felicidades, Cristina!

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 will be shipping out your loot next week!

For those of you who are on 'Cuban time' and still don't have your tickets to Sunday's event, here's the timeline for all the fun.

Viva Los Dodgers presented by State Farm and Time Warner Cable at the historic 76 station will feature photos with fans from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal. Outfielder Alex Guerrero will take photos with fans from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 
Outfielder Yasiel Puig will greet fans on stage at 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and take part in a Q&A session alongside reliever Paco Rodriguez. Photos will be distributed to fans courtesy of Blue Prints.
“I’m an extremely proud Cuban-American and excited to be a part of Cuban Heritage Day this Sunday,” said Grandal. “I look forward to spending time with fans before I head out to represent the Dodgers at the All-Star game. My culture is a big part of who I’m and happy that the club organizes events like these.”
As part of Cuban Heritage Day at Viva Los Dodgers, musical entertainment will be provided by The Arsenio Rodriguez Project and Buena Onda. Dodger scout Mike Brito will also partake in a meet and greet with fans at 12:00 p.m. 
Levy Restaurants will offer exclusively at Viva Los Dodgers this Sunday, the Cuban Dog. The Cuban Dog features a quarter-pound all-beef hot dog topped with ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and pickle chips and will be available at Viva Los Dodgers while supplies last.
Sunday’s Viva Los Dodgers is a pregame component of Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium which will feature Cuban music mogul and 19-time Grammy award winner Emilio Estefan throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
The Dodgers will present a community hero award to the Gavina family at Viva Los Dodgers. Gavina Coffee, a Cuban-owned business, has been a coffee tradition in Los Angeles since 1967. Cuban-American Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will throw Sunday’s honorary first pitch.

All fans are welcome and can attend with a ticket to Sunday’s game. For more information on Viva Los Dodgers, please visit www.dodgers.com/viva andwww.losdodgers.com/viva.


The Super Cuban Dodger Awesomeness Giveaway

Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium is so close I can practically touch it. It's happening next Sunday, July 12th 2015.

Our friend and fellow Cuban, Emilio Estefan will be on hand to throw out the first pitch and it's going to be a wonderful day with all kinds of Cubanity (<--is that a word? I seriously think it should be) happening at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. 

Game time is 1:00 pm, but the fun starts at 11:00 am in Lot 6 with the fun Viva Los Dodgers Pachanga.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I'm giving away a fabulous stash of all kinds of Cuban/Dodger related goodies. 

I'm calling it the Super Cuban Dodger Awesomeness Giveaway. (I was inspired by my friends on The Cuban Heritage Committee, who are my muses.)

Get your tickets!

There's still time to purchase discounted tickets and enjoy the family-friendly Cuban themed Viva Los Dodgers pregame festival in Lot 6. Fans can enjoy live music, player autographs, and various activies. Entrance is free with a paid ticket to the game. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, click on this link to purchase.

Get your tshirts!

Then, you need to get your t-shirts, of course from Habana Brand Clothing so that you can appropriately represent. 

Enter this giveaway!

But the best part is today's giveaway...

Sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cuban Heritage Day at Dodger Stadium, Botran Rum, and My Big, Fat, Cuban Family, (Let's just take a moment to appreciate how accidentally cool this is. Thankyouverymuch) I'm giving away all the Super Cuban Dodgers Awesomeness pictured below.

Take a moment to appreciate all of this Cubania and Dodger swag.

• A Special Edition Dodgers Cuba/Puig shirt - autographed by Yasiel Puig #66 (Men's Large)

• A Limited Edition Habana Brand Cuban Heritage Day 2015 shirt - autographed by Emilio Estefan (Women's XL)

• A poly-spandex Property of Dodgers Baseball Club shirt

• A Clayton Kershaw #22 Bobblehead

• A LA Dodgers Team Name shirt


• An autographed copy of Emilio Estefan's autobiography, Ritmo Al Éxito

• An autographed copy of Daniel Amat's cd - Bilbao la Habana y vuelta

• An autographed copy of Gloria Estefan's beautiful cd, Mi Tierra.

• A bottle of Botran Reserva Ron Añejo - because Cuba Libre. Amen.

• Three (3!) LA Dodger Blue embroidered hats.

To enter this drawing for all of this Super Cuban/Dodger Awesomeness please leave a comment on this post and tell me:

  • What's your favorite thing to do at a baseball game?

Is it the 7th Inning Stretch? The Kiss Cam? Heckling the batter? Do you look fabulous in Dodger Blue? Tell me.

Please leave your comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Thursday, July 9th, 2015 at 11 am PST. 

You have to be over 21 to enter this drawing, but you don't necessarily need to be Cuban or even attend the game. Also, I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. The giveaway items were donated and I am happy to share the love. Go Blue!

Cuban Food Poster - And the winners are...

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's giveaway. I so appreciate all your suggestions and I swear, reading all your posts made me HUNGRY!

I'll be working on some of the ideas you came up with in the next couple of months. If you haven't already, please consider adding your name to my mailing list (over on the right-->) so you can get product updates and be the first to know when I'm running another giveaway. (Hint - there may or may not be another happening this weekend, but that's not important right now.) 

I chose three (3!) winners who will each receive the Cuban Food Poster in the size of their choice.

Each poster is unmounted and  printed on heavy duty premium luster paper with archival fade-resistant inks. I will send the winner the size of their choice. They are available in the following sizes:

  • 5" x 7"
  • 8" x 10"
  • 11" x 14"
  • 16" x 20"
  • 20" x 30"

Congratulations to ....





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 I can ship your Cuban Food Poster ASAP!

Of course, if you didn't win, there's always the option to just buy yourself the poster. It's wonderfully affordable and it will look great in your kitchen (or Tia Cuca's). 

My Cuban Food Posters are for sale over at my Etsy shop: Marta Darby Designs. The 16"x 20" is only $21.00 plus shipping and handling. And I also have a beautiful canvas available in a 16" x 20."

Thank you again for all the inspiration!

Cuban Food Poster - A Giveaway

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 be giving away Three (3) Cuban Food Posters to 3 lucky winners.

Each poster is unmounted and  printed on heavy duty premium luster paper with archival fade-resistant inks. I will send the winner the size of their choice. They are available in the following sizes:

  • 5" x 7"
  • 8" x 10"
  • 11" x 14"
  • 16" x 20"
  • 20" x 30"

It looks just like the photo above. Black background with white lettering and some distressing for an aged texture.

To enter the drawing for a chance to win one of the 3 posters, please leave me a comment on this post and tell me...

  • What's your favorite comfort food? (I'd have to go with picadillo, myself.)
  • Who makes it the very best? (Your mami? Tia Cuca? El Palacio de los Jugos?)
  • Do you have any suggestions for other food posters? (BTW, I already have a Salvadorian Food Poster in my shop.)

Leave one comment only, please! 

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for the poster, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose THREE winners on Thursday, July 2nd at 11:00 am PST.

Gracias and Buen Provecho! 

If you're the impatient type (and you know who you are), my posters are for sale over at my Etsy shop: Marta Darby Designs. The 16"x 20" is only $21.00 plus shipping and handling. 

I also have a larger size (20"x 30") and a (16"x 20") on canvas, but that's not important right now.

Also, if you haven't already, please consider subscribing to my mailing list so you never miss a thing! Look over on the right where it says JOIN OUR FAMILY! Gracias! xo

Summer Movies and The A/V Cart

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 cared, is also an Instagram Hashtag - #DarbySummerMovies. So there's that.

But back to the A/V Cart. Last summer, Lucy's boyfriend Marc - who was instrumental in the building of my awesome farm table - built us our very own A/V Cart. Because we're not nerdy enough without having our own A/V Cart. Right?

He painted it black and put wheels on it, because A/V carts should just roll in, blend in and do their job without calling attention to themselves. I'm in love with it.

Isn't it a beautiful thing? The Optoma projector usually sits on top of that big black receiver thing. The 2nd shelf is for the dvd player and the speakers travel in the cart as well. 

In fact, now that we have the A/V Cart, setting up for an outdoor movie is relatively painless, which is awesome because there are nights where we decide to do the movie thing about an hour before the sun goes down and we send out a text...

"Hey guys! Movie tonight? Be here at 8:30."

And we usually manage to get a pretty full house. Outdoor Movie Nights are very much a part of our own personal summer celebrations.

Most movie nights we have concessions - that's movie talk for "snacks." Candy and sodas and water bottles and chocolate bars and the brown paper bags hold popcorn. We usually include some fresh strawberries because they're super abundant around here in the summer.

We bought 3 dozen plastic stacking adirondack chairs from Lowe's to use as theater seating and we roll out a carpet under them which dissuades crawly things from biting bare feet. See how thoughtful we are?

Some Darby Movie Nights (#DarbySummerMovies. If you don't already, you should totally follow me on Instagram. I'm @Smrtqbn) we manage to come up with a theme and serve food accordingly. 

Hot dogs for a screening of '42' - The Jackie Robinson Story

Hot dogs for a screening of '42' - The Jackie Robinson Story

Sometimes we are really super organized and can get everyone here in costume. Yes. You read that right. Like we did for our Hercules Sing-Along. 

I know. We would totally be winning the Gold in the Nerd Olympics here. It was a fabulous BYOT* night.

*Bring Your Own Toga

*Bring Your Own Toga

Other nights it's just us and our hard-working A/V Cart and that's okay, too.

I'm so glad Summer is finally here. The weather has warmed up to where we can comfortably do our movie nights. (#DarbySummerMovies) In fact, this coming weekend we're having a Summer Celebration kickoff which will include the movie, 'Chef,' which we seriously love, and a food truck type menu, which I'm super excited about. (I'll write about that next week in delicious detail.)

For now, I wanted to share about how awesome our summers are and how much #DarbySummerMovies (our own hashtag, people!) and how much we've come to count on our trusty A/V Cart. 

We recently had the following conversation (about A/V Carts) around the dinner table:

Me: "There was always that one impossibly nerdy kid who got to be the A/V Cart Monitor. He was usually the smartest kid, who usually happened to also be the teacher's pet."
Eric: "Yeah. That would be me."

Guess who's still in charge of the A/V Cart? 

Hello, Darby Summer Movies. 

For the Love of Hydrangeas

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 fertilizing with Scotts Miracle-Gro®. See those little tiny buds? They're getting ready to bring the awesome that they're capable of.

Of course, I then have to remind myself that that is all part of the wonder and promise of gardening. Things that appear dead and gone return. Life finds a way and all is right with the world again. Joy and miracles exist in the world and nowhere is there a better reminder of this than in my garden.

I have found every product I need to give my hydrangeas the love they need and deserve available from my local Walmart. Plus all the encouragement I need from the Scotts Miracle-Gro® Mi Jardinalidad website. Find the link to Planting Hydrangeas under Tips & Tricks.

Just make sure when you're fertilizing these lovelies that you don't pour fertilizer on the leaves, they tend to burn easily. And that you give them plenty of water. 

For all you good homeschooled kids, like my own, you'll already know (because Latin and Greek were always on our list of Things to Know About If You Want To Be A Good Human, but that's not important right now) that the name hydrangea comes from the Greek “hydor,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning jar or vessel. This roughly translates to “water barrel,” referring to the hydrangea’s need for plenty of water and its cup-shaped flower. You're welcome.

Artsy photo of Jonathan watering the hydrangeas.

Artsy photo of Jonathan watering the hydrangeas.

So for now, my hydrangeas and I are enjoying a mutual love affair that will probably last through the summer. Thanks, Scotts Miracle-Gro® for helping me cultivate the awesome. 

Remember to always read and follow label directions for the referenced products.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Scotts . The opinions and text are all mine.

'Inside Out' Review: Pixar Touches All the Emotions

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 the unknowns of California.

Riley, I'm sooo feeling you.

Jockeying for top position from one moment to the next, her conflicting emotions - Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust - take turns to take on the dominant role. This very human, but very abstract concept is astonishingly played out into a film that takes turns being funny, unpredictable, fabulously colorful, yet beautiful and incredibly profound. 

I'd like to stop right here and give Pixar a standing ovation and ask forgiveness for doubting. (I know. Shut up.)

I don't want to give too much away, but the truth is, of the five emotions, we, the viewers are really, really rooting for Joy (Amy Poehler) to overcome Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) in the battle for influence over Riley's state of mind. 

Kids will grasp the entire concept as easily as adults will, because the things happening in Riley’s external life are so compelling. She's adjusting to a new city, home, and school. With the move, she loses her friends and the way things were 'back home.' 

Again. Riley. Seriously, babe. I'm sooo feeling you.

It was a relief to me that Riley was equipped with only five emotions because I was already 'roller-coastering' along with her in her new life in San Francisco. But how would they resolve the ultimate conflict between Joy and Sadness??

Ah, but that's the genius of Pixar. Not only do they resolve it, they do it in a super satisfying way. Kudos to Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera. They take you from wanting everything to be happy all the time, because... JOY! to helping you embrace the place that Sadness plays in our own inner dialogue. *mind blown*

My take-away is that Joy is not the only worthy emotion. Our lives can only be emotionally rich if we're open to Sadness, too. And yet, in all of this conflicting emotion, it never turns too serious or starts becoming too preachy.

Just go. See the film. It's fantastic. You may or may not find yourself laughing and crying (as I did) from one moment to the next and having Deep Thoughts about your own guiding emotions.

'Inside Out' is being shown with a new Pixar short, 'Lava,' which is nothing short of delightful. The director, James Ford Murphy creates a musical romance starring two Hawaiian volcanoes that spans millions of years in about 7 minutes. Genius.

*bows down low to the Brilliant Storytellers at Pixar*

'Inside Out' opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 19th, 2015.