Veggie & Herb Garden Starter Package Winners

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:




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. 

Be sure to include your mailing address so that I can ship your Box of Gardening Fun to you ASAP!

Also, when you get that veggie garden growing, I want to see pics, or it didn't happen.

Again, I'm grateful to Scotts for sponsoring the giveaway. The opinions and text are all mine.

I have a few more giveaways coming up in the next few weeks so stay tuned! 

Hello, Summer Garden! - A Giveaway

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. Also, the whole planting, pruning, watering stuff is part of our family's DNA. It's just an activity that we love to do together. Well, mostly Eric and Jonathan do the heavy lifting and I just shout out commands, but that's not important right now.


As you can see, the time and care we took last month and Scotts Miracle-Gro® has totally paid off. Be prepared to be amazed by my flowers...


My favorite Disneyland Roses are really putting on a show for the entire neighborhood. Seriously. Neighbors stop as they're walking by to ooh and aah and make comments and smell my roses. (Win!)


My hydrangeas, too. I always get a little scared that this might be the year they decide not to bloom because they want to stay dormant. Using the Scotts Miracle-Gro® has changed all that. I know I'm practically guaranteed some beautiful blooms. You can pick all these products up at Walmart, of course.


I really want you to get in on the fun of sprucing up your garden, so with a generous donation from my sponsor, Scotts, I'm excited to share today's giveaway. 

Scotts has given me one of these for myself (Yay!) and I'm happy to announce that I'll be sharing the love with two lucky MBFCF readers.


I'm giving away, not one, but two Veggie & Herb Garden Starter Packages from Scotts Miracle-Gro® for you to do some fun summer gardening yourself. 

Included in this Veggie & Herb Garden Starter Package

  • 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. (Come to me sweet basil!)


1) To enter this drawing for the Veggie & Herb Garden Starter Package from Scotts Miracle-Gro® 

Please leave a comment on this post and answer one or both of the following questions:

  • Tell me your favorite garden flower. 
  • What's growing in your garden?

Please leave your comment on this post and I'll choose two winners on Friday, May 29th, 2015 at 11am PST. 

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.





How Does My Garden Grow?

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 year with Jonathan's graduation party.

We started cruising around both our front and back yards, making notes about what needed to be done and as we looked at our potted plants and beds we truthfully started to feel a little embarrassed. Don't even get me started on the condition of our lawn.


Time to bring out The Secret Weapon.


Our "go to" brand has always been Scotts MiracleGro®. We made a run to Walmart and returned with bags of Scotts MiracleGro® Potting Soil and also the Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil to refresh our potted plants and our beds.


We already use and love all of the Miracle-Gro® products for our lawn and garden, so I am delighted to participate in their Express Yourself Program.

As you know, over the warmer months we spend a lot of time outdoors. I also think that because we entertain so much and that that is such a family affair, prepping our home and garden in anticipation is always a group project. In other words, getting ready for the fun is well, in a


"Honey, it's time to get out the wheelbarrow!" Yay!

The secret to our gardening success (besides the perfectly perfect So Cal weather) is Scotts Miracle-Gro®. Also, my home and my garden are definitely an expression of me and (full disclosure here) I really love driving up the street and seeing my white picket fence and all my flowers in bloom. 

I fantasize a little about when we throw our party and people drive up and see all the beautiful green growth and the flowers in beautiful bloom. (I know. Shut up.)


We recently spent a sunny afternoon - a perfectly perfect Southern California afternoon, not too hot, not too cool, but that's not important right now - weeding and pruning and refreshing all of our pots and garden beds.


The pots got a big dose of potting soil. We repotted some and just added soil to some others. The plants are super happy. Soil is a big thing for them, you know. 


Look! My newly re-potted hydrangeas are just going to sing! They already look totally happy. Am I right?


I want to make a distinction between the two Scotts products we use:

1) The Scotts Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix is for indoor and outdoor plants in containers. So we went around the entire garden re-potting and refreshing our pots. They were visibly happy. 


2) The Scotts Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil is what we use in our beds.  


The beds have eroded some from last year and I know they get so much happier when we give them this delicious soil because it also feeds for up to 6 months. 

Plus, my roses are already starting their first bloom and I'm a little crazed thinking about how awesome they're going to be after they get some fresh soil. 

Here's a gratuitous photo of my beautiful Disneyland Roses enjoying their first bloom. You can see how the bed has eroded and doesn't look happy.


I can hardly wait to see what they will do next month after the soil re-fresh and some feeding. Stay tuned. 

So, we spent a really fun afternoon doing all the prep work and planning the upcoming Big Birthday Celebration. And I'm getting super excited. 


Once we get our garden and backyard freshened up and it's all happy again, all I will have to worry about is the food for our party. I think all the prepping and planning may just be my very favorite part of entertaining. 

Do you do this same thing? Are you planning on fixing up your lawn and garden for the warmer months? Tell me all about it.

If you're on Instagram or Twitter, please share your garden photos and use the hashtag, #Mijardinalidad 

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.





Picket Fences, Roses and Contentment

When we moved into our home twelve years ago, it was the Eyesore of the Neighborhood. Many of our new neighbors told us so. They didn't even blush when they said it.

"Oh, you're the new family that moved into the Eyesore of the Neighborhood." (Okay, so maybe that wasn't a direct quote, but you get the idea.)

The house had been a rental and for a quick sell they slapped a coat of paint on it and put in some turf. There was not a thing to be seen growing in the front yard except that slab of green sod.

In spite of the size of the house ("freakishly small"), it had four bedrooms that we desperately needed and the price was right. We would have to work with the Slab O'Sod front yard.

Eric painstakingly cut, painted and installed a real white picket fence. We took our time choosing and planting our roses. We were so grown up now. We had roses that had REAL names. For sure that was a sign that we had "arrived."

When spring comes to our freakishly small home the roses practically sing with color and fragrance. I walk up and down the fence line, deadheading, trimming, smelling, and admiring. And I photograph them. Every. Single. Day. No, seriously. Because every day they seem to get much more beautiful than the day before.

House & garden

Look at the red climber that shoots up 15 feet and is so thick you can't even see our roofline. It's called Stairway to Heaven and has its own story. (<--If you look back at this old post, you can actually compare how much its grown since then, but that' s not important right now.)

The Disneyland roses start off a beautiful orange color. Orange roses? I know! Slowly, they open up to reveal a fantastic blend of orange and pink. I can't get over them.

Disneyland roses

I have classic red roses, too. Classic-drop-dead-gorgeous-Cuban-woman-lipstick-and-nail-polish RED.

Red rose

I kind of wander around my garden like a loon. At this time of the year, even the corners around the yard that I've practically ignored are springing back to life with so much color and beauty that it takes my breath away.

Purple climbing geraniums

When I say, "practically ignored," I mean "put down in this spot and forgot about it." I picked up this purple, climbing geranium a few years ago to train up on the fence but never got around to the actual planting. (Shut up.) And yet, it continues to reward me. As if to remind me that just showing up is sometimes enough.

So I stroll around the front yard of my freakishly small cottage-like home and I sigh contentedly.

It feels to me like I'm cooperating with God as I look around and feel His presence as I remember the words in Genesis:

"The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." ~Genesis 1:12

Roses & picket fence

As my land continues to produce, I look around and with a sigh of contentment, think to myself, "This is good."

Toes and rose petals

This is REALLY good.

Lessons from the Garden

My roses are blooming.

Pink roses

All of them. All at once.

Roses in bloom

And although they look very beautiful,


and some are quite spectacular,


they require my attention. Right now.


And it feels like quite an overwhelming task.

But I'll grab my pruning shears and go through each bush, dead-heading as I go. It's quite a big job when they're all going crazy at once.

Home & garden

I'll spray for bugs, and I'll cut some of the more beautiful ones to bring inside to create a centerpiece.


Once again, God is using my garden as a metaphor for my real life. I have to stop all that I'm doing and pay attention to the beauty that is right under my nose and metaphorically tend to the garden that is my life.

If I don't, I'm going to miss it.

Taking some time off from blogging to enjoy my garden, my husband, my kids, my kitchen, my family. I'll be back in a week or so. With stories. And opinons. And giveaways! But until then, I need to get the pruning shears and get to work.

If you want to connect with My big, fat, Cuban family, the relajo continues over on Facebook.

I also share a slice of my life every day on Instagram. I'm Smrtqbn.



The Cocoon

Eric found the cocoon on May 27th.


We had never seen anything like it before. It looked to me like a jade earring with perfect gold flecks. It looked so, so surreal.

"What is that?" We quickly asked Señor Google better known around here as Cuco. =D

A Monarch. Shut. UP!

It took a few weeks for the thing to begin to turn transparent and show us what was inside.

Clear cocoon

The colors of the monarch butterfly became apparent to us then.

Every day we went out to catch another glimpse of the little miracle hanging from the arm of our patio chair.

On June 13th, the miracle finally happened and the beautiful butterfly slowly emerged.


Lucky for us, he spent hours struggling to get out and dry off and spread his wings. We were privileged to have front row seats (and digital film, of course) to this magical event.

Finally, he lifted off and headed for the flowers to sit and let the sun dry him so he could head off to the next adventure of his short life.


I decided to name him "Andy Garcia," because he was so beautiful. ;-)

The Sprinklers

We have an old house in an old peanut-butter-and-jelly neighborhood.

Our neighbors tell us that before we moved in, this house was the Eyesore of the Neighborhood. (I know. Sad, but true. I'll dig up some "before" pictures of the house one day and blog about it.)

Slowly and tenderly, for the past ten years, we have worked on This Old House and turned it into our home. We lovingly call it Casa de La Loma.

When we moved in, the landscaping (if you can call it that) was just freshly laid sod that we had to hand water because they laid it right over the sprinkler system. (Did I mention it was the Eyesore of the Neighborhood?)

So every evening, Eric and I would go out and take turns watering the lawn. Holding a hose and just aiming it at grass had a zen-like effect on me, and I would work out in my head where I would plant the roses (that would all have fabulous names), and I would pray, and I would mentally design the white picket fence that my husband would one day build for me.  =D

"Maybe we should just get sprinklers."

We came to that mutual conclusion after dinner one evening when we were both tired and were making a rock-paper-scissors decision about whose turn it was to water the lawn. (By the way, I really just like to say the word, "sprinklers." It sounds whimsical to me, somehow.)

Anyway, we got sprinklers.

But we didn't get a timer for the sprinklers, which is a quick and easy set up in this day and age, but that's  not important right now.

(A timer! Why didn't we add a timer? *slaps forehead*)

Let me tell you why....

This forces us to go outside every day to turn them on, right?


Which is something we'd never have to do if we had a timer for the them.

And if we never went outside, we'd miss stuff like this:


And, I don't know about you, but I hate missing a really great show. ;-)


Uber-geek confession: I make everyone who comes over go outside and smell my roses. Is that weird?

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." 

                                    -- Abraham Lincoln

Feliz Pascua!

My garden is fragrant and full of new life.

I am crazy-happy with all of the beautiful colors and of course, torn by the usual dilemma:

Do I leave the flowers on their bushes to bloom and grow and fade naturally? (And therefore let my neighbors enjoy the beauty that is Marta's Garden in the spring?)

Flowers & fence 

Or do I trim off some of the gorgeous blooms and bring them inside so that I can enjoy and appreciate them in a close and personal setting and let my family get the maximum benefit? 

Or do I just split the difference? Share some. Keep some. Yes, I think that's best.

As usual, my garden is once again a fitting metaphor, not just for my own personal life, but for the promise of new life that Easter brings.

To all of you faithful MBFCF readers:

Have a happy and blessed Easter.

Nowlet the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin:
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein;
Invisible and visible,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen
Our joy that hath no end.
~Saint John of Damascus

Cheaper than prozac

I've been a little down lately.

My roses are not yet in bloom. *sigh*

And the sweet peas and gladiolus have not yet broken through the still unseasonably cold (this is California and it's already March!) ground.

What's a depressed flower-lover like me to do?

Inspired partly by the gorgeous Gerbera Daisies that I used as a centerpiece for my mom's birthday party
(BTW, she took those home and quickly had her gardener plant them in her own garden.)
Garden 5

And partly by my own impatience. (she said, sheepishly...)

"It's time for a run to the nursery!"
  I declared this loudly and authoritatively so they would know I meant it.

By the time I returned, Eric had already psyched himself up. Jonathan grabbed a shovel.  Lucy grabbed the camera. ;-)
Garden 2
First, we (when I say "we" I mean "Eric") took down the silly fake grapevine that had been hanging over the arch since Adam's birthday party back in July. (I know. Lazy. But I kind of liked it. Don't judge me.)

Garden 4

We (ahem...) planted a pair of climbing roses on either side.
Garden climbing rose

Then we got lots of flats of annual color for the beds.
Garden 1

And deposited a few of those Gerberas in key spots.
Garden 6

My back and my knees are a little sore, (yes, of course I planted too!) but can I just tell you how delighted I am by those spots of color?

I sit and imagine the sweet peas trailing their fragrance over the picket fence and the roses all colorful in their respective corners.  Now I'm completely distracted from the depression that was threatening to overtake me. Instead I'm enthralled by the possibilities that late spring will bring to my garden.

Garden 3

Yes, you may color me HAPPY

Is it me?

You know how much I'm loving my white picket fence and so I was thinking how much fun it would be to plant a wall of sunflowers along the fence.  Can you picture it? A little sunflower army lined up to greet us each day. (Okay, well, I was sort of fantasizing about that, but that's not important right now.)

Sunflower seeds
So we planted the sunflowers and they started to grow FAST. Within the first week the little plants each had a couple of leaves and then later that afternoon, POOF! they were gone.  What the...??

I coerced the story confession from our sweet little Mexican gardener (but frankly, after this sunflower incident, I'm going to give a little more thought to his actual qualifications to be a gardener besides just being Mexican and owning a weed whacker). 

He whacked the tiny plants which were planted in the bed in front of the picket fence in an orderly line - he deduced weeds and proceeded to whack my young seedlings into oblivion. 

This is why my line of sunflowers looks like this today: I know. What's wrong with this picture??
I know. One SURVIVOR and a dozen more stragglers. 
And yes, he's taller than Jonathan.
So, we went for round two. And here they come!  When the gardeners arrive, I run out screaming for them to turn off the weed whacker and they just smile stupidly, but they don't whack any sunflowers because now they fear for their lives. =D

Sunflower & Jon

It's  taller than my almost 6 foot son. 
And I kind of like that it's the only one to made it to adulthood. But there's an entire crop coming right up behind that one, Yes, I caved and replanted. I told you


They just make me sooo happy. It's a happy day.  ;-)

I. Hate. Weed whackers. =(