Monday Blog Hijackery or "I've known Marti for longer than I haven't"

It's Monday. Which means it's time for another Blog Hijackery. (Yay!!)

Because you know that I am all about documenting my life, and I have such great friends, I thought this would be a fun way to do both. So Monday Blog Hijackery was born.

This one courtesy of my BFF, Pam. Her blog is called It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life. (That also happens to be one of our favorite quotes from Lord of the Rings, but that's not important right now.)

I was twenty years old when we met and became insta-friends. We worked as cashiers together at a local movie theater and then both married young and hung out together as young-married-twenty-somethings before we had kids.  (She was the one who introduced me to my first husband, but I don't hold that against her because that produced Amy and Adam. =D)

My kids call her their Fairy Godmother because she is so amazingly generous to them and loves all four as her own.

When I asked her to hijack my blog, I had no idea she would write such nice things about me. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed. But I love that we share more than half a lifetime of memories. Her husband, Pastor Gene, is the one who brings me The Daily Hanford Train Report.

So every day we talk, we text, we Twitter, we Facebook, we send photos and emails and we continue to share life - the cyberspace way.  =D


I've known Marti for longer than I haven't

First of all, I had to share this picture.  I don’t know why, but I am so cute!  We were looking for pecans for pecan pie in 1961 in South Carolina but this was before I knew Marti…

(bet she makes a great pecan pie, Cuban style, of course.)


I met Marti, my BFF, in 1975. I’ve known her for 34+ of my 52 years,  Marti is my oldest (time known, not to imply she is old) and dearest friend.   We keep in almost daily contact.

Marti has always been a great cook and amazing “good time” person.  I remember eating her Arroz Con Pollo on this day (And YES he invented wearing water shoes before they became popular, but that is not important right now).


I know you have read about her parties, but what you might not know is that she gives great gifts and is always creative.


Above was one of her gifts to my husband, Gene.  See how useful!  (Hey Marti, digging the seal picture in the background!  Remember that?) 

I think my favorite gift she gave me was this...


She mailed this to me! She could have been the author of the new campaign!  (Balloons popping out of surprising places-that was her idea YEARS ago, but that's not important right now.)

Here is Marti and my husband, Gene in 1979 at our little cabin in Running Springs.  You see? She has that same great smile! 

Looking at a picture of Marti’s smile always makes you smile, doesn’t it?


One regret I have is that we don’t live closer.  If we lived closer, she would plan all my parties! I could stop by and visit!  We could go to Disneyland everyday!


That was my favorite picture of us!  Here’s the tale... 

She texted me and said it was a DL day!  I was so excited because my husband and I were there.  I didn’t want to tell her we were coming because I truly hoped we could surprise her. 

When she texted that she was there I was so excited.  We kept texting her back and asking where she was!  She didn’t answer.  (Must have thought we were so annoying.) 

Finally she wrote back and said she was just getting off the tree house!  We just happened to be resting at the River Belle Terrace!  My dream had been realized.  Now, hopefully she was still there and the text was not too late in getting to me.  There she was!  I was able to go up behind her and just stood, invading her privacy by getting very close.  She looked annoyed at me then realized it was me!  That was the photo!!!!!  I love it! 


I do use her for encouragement when I am down, and I am so thankful for that.  She never judges me, which is a wonderful quality.  She is always there to listen!  Marti, I so appreciate that, more than you will ever know.  You’ve enriched my life in countless ways.  Thank you for the privilege to hijack your blog! 


Here’s to another 35 years!  Kisses!


Thanks, Pam! You totally made me cry. I love you.

Monday Blog Hijackery or Parrots, El Puma, y el Cubaneo

Today's Monday Blog Hijackery is brought to you by my friend, Chantel Acevedo.

You'll find her linked in a few places here on my blog. She is part of the blogroll titled Smart Cuban Women and Friends. Her personal blog is called Yuca Baby. (Go there. Right now. Tell her Marta sent you. =D)

You'll also find her listed in the Smart Cuban Authors section.

Her book is Love and Ghost Letters and according to Oscar Hijuelos (another celebrated Cuban author. Actually, Mr. Mambo King himself. Shut up. I know.) her debut novel is...

"... enchanting;a heartfelt story. It tells volumes about the intimate life and loves of a family in pre-Castro Cuba. Along the way, it captures, beautifully, the atmosphere and emotions of a time which, both Cuban Americans and many an American reader, will find both reminiscent and fulfilling. A great debut.


Personally, I couldn't put it down, but that's not important right now...

I had the happy privilege of meeting Chantel face-to-face last year (at Disneyland, of course!) and I felt like we were insta-friends. I know you're going to love her, too.


Without further ado, please welcome Mrs. Chantel Acevedo to My big, fat, Cuban family. (APPLAUSE!)


Why I want a parrot...

I want a parrot. 
Specifically, I want a Sun Conure.  One of these guys:



I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, considering what kind of cage to buy, where to put it, what to do with the bird I’ve already named “Sunshine” (not so creative, I know) when I’m out of town. 

All of this, even though I know I’m not getting the parrot.  He’s wee, but expensive.  Loud.  Messy.  Yet, if I close my eyes, I can imagine his minimal weight on my finger, the downy feathers against my cheek, the soft scent of seed in the air.

Where does this desire come from?  As all things in my life, I can trace this one back to my Miami childhood, and my very Cuban upbringing. 

I grew up in a house full of birds. There were the canaries in wicker cages in the Florida room, a dishtowel hung up between the cages so that the canaries, unaware of each other’s whereabouts, would sing operatically, trying to locate one another. 

One of the canaries was named Jose Luis Rodriguez, and the other, Julio Iglesias.

El puma
Remember El Puma, guys?  Vintage yum.

There were parakeets, all blue, because my grandmother said the green ones tended to be mean.  I named them all Tweety. 

And outside, the flocks of green Cuban parrots, having found their way to Miami like so many of their human counterparts, created swift, moving shadows on the ground as they flapped loudly above us in happy, squawking groups.

Everyone I knew had pet birds. 

My aunt, bless her, had a Tweety of her own, a most unfortunate creature that got trapped in the refrigerator, smacked around by a ceiling fan, and nearly drowned in a fish tank. Yet it lived over a decade, and learned to call my cousin’s name, “Andrea, Andrea,” in a sweet, parroty voice. 

My husband’s family had birds too, a host of finches in an elaborate glass cage in his mother’s house, while his grandmother had a penchant for canaries named Caruso.

There’s some irony here I’d rather not explore, this idea of caged things among a people who once lived on a caged island…

It seems my childhood had wings, or at least, it did in my imagination. 

So, as I psychoanalyze myself here on MBFCF, wondering why there are birds in everything I write, why I have a pair of bronze parrot bookends on my shelf, and why I’m longing for a Sun Conure, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about home, about that añoranza Cubans feel all the time, a word more suited than “longing” for what we feel. 

For me, I am doubly struck by it—desiring a Cuba I’ve never seen, and now, nearly a decade away from home, missing Miami the way one misses her mother. 

As Cubans, this is our cross.  We lighten it each in our own way—the lovely and talented Marta cooks and blogs, our mutual friend, Val, champions the cause dearest to his heart with everything in him, I write about Cuba in my fiction every day and really, really, REALLY want a parrot, if only because it reminds me of home.

Thanks for letting me hijack the blog, Marti.  I suggest we meet again soon, preferably while eating Dole Whips in the Enchanted Tiki Room.

See what I mean?
Thanks so much, Chantel!
Dole Whips in the Enchanted Tiki Room??  I'm in!

(*sigh* A girl after my own heart....)

Monday Blog Hijackery or Hey, isn't it still Sunday?

I am hoping that by introducing you to my friends that 1) you'll go visit their blogs and get to know and love them as much as I do. And 2) That you'll forgive me for not posting as often. 

Today's Monday Blog Hijackery is courtesy of my friend who's practically a sister, Amanda Dufau. She blogs over at Brandon's Puppy on her day-to-day goings on, and about her beautiful sons and husband. Hers is more classically diaryish. And when I say classically, it's because that's usually the word that pops into my head when I think of Amanda.

Let me introduce you to my classical blog-friend, Amanda.  ("Hi Amanda!")

I asked her to please do a Monday Blog Hijackery for this week. Of course, she agreed. But being the over-achiever that she is, she posted on Sunday night. Classic!

I would tell you how besides cyberspace, we are connected, but I've already blogged about that before.
Be sure to follow the links, they tell more of our story.
And thanks, Manders. I appreciate your visit to my blog-casa. (Let's work on getting you out here to visit the REAL casa, okay?



It’s Sunday night, about 8pm.

As I type this entry, I am waiting for our rice cooker to go off.
In it are the ingredients to Marta’s Arroz con Salchichas. It’s a regular staple at my house, I make it every couple of weeks. It’s one of those meals that I can whip together in less than 30 minutes, and I know that hubby and the boys will love.

Arroz con salchichas

It’s quick and easy, and the best part? It’s made with love. No really, I’m not being corny.

Didn’t you know? That’s Marta’s secret ingredient in all her recipes. You won’t find it in any of the ingredients lists of any of her recipes, but it’s in there. Just ask her!

In my particular case, that special ingredient planted a seed a long, long time ago in a little house in Manatí, Cuba.

That seed grew (a lot), and now stretches about 70 years and roughly 3000 miles across the country. Oh, and of course, it’s all over cyberspace too…that little guy gets around!

In a nutshell, MBFCF is part of MRLEF (My Real-Life Extended Family, aren’t I clever?!), so much so that I’ll drop whatever I’m doing if any Darby is in town just to visit with them for a bit, and I’ll willingly offer my couch or an inflatable mattress if they need to spend a few nights at my house. I know if I flew over to the West Coast, they’d do the same for me and my brood in a heartbeat.

Amanda & Amy Kikita feeling the Cuba Nostalgia vibe. Miami, 2008.

Thanks Marti, for letting me ramble a bit around here as your new Monday Blog-Hijackee.

I know technically it’s not Monday, but I figured being early is better than being late (If only I could follow that advice in my day-to-day life…).

I’m off to enjoy dinner with my family, sprinkled with a whole bunch of love on top!”

Thanks, Amanda!
It was a lovely hijack. =D

If anyone else out there wants to hijack my blog on any random Mondayjust shoot me an email. Write Monday Blog Hijackery in the subject line so I don't accidentally delete you.  This could be fun. =D

Monday Blog Hijackery or I love when someone else cooks for me

You know that my daughters often hijack my blog and I'm totally okay with that.
It gives me (and you) a break and adds a fresh perspective to this blog.

Today I want to introduce you to my friend The Class Factotum

As much as I love Cuban food, the truth is that I like just about anything that's well prepared and tastes good. (Oh, yes, I'm that easy...)

Which brings me back to my friend and Monday Blog Hijackery (a name, by the way, that I just made up as I was posting this and thinking that hey! this could be a fun regular feature if other people feel compelled to hijack my blog and share their stories here and join in the fun, with my approval, of course...)

I stumbled onto her delightful blog a couple of years ago and quickly bookmarked it and made it a regular online destination. This woman is both funny and smart (my first two requirements for friendship, but that's not important right now) and even though she's not Cuban (she dated a Cuban guy once, that's close, isn't it?) she "gets" me and well, I just want to be her.

Today, my friend, C-F has hijacked my blog (with my encouragement and blessings) to bring you a fabulous Spinach Salad.

The class factotum speaks about spinach

So I was trying to figure out what to do with all the lettuce and collards and bok choy and chard and spinach in my garden. I can’t give it away because my neighbors don’t want it or they’re being that Wisconsin polite where I have to insist 40 times no, really! I have way too much lettuce! Take some! And really? I don’t have the time to insist 40 veces.

OK, I do, but I don’t feel like it. I’ll ask you two, maybe three times and if you keep saying no, then I move on.

Anyhow, I have an abundance of green stuff. Next year, I grow things that can be frozen, which might mean getting a deep freezer because right now, our freezer is full of Kopp’s frozen custard. For now, I have spinach and then it came to me in a vision: spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. That was one of my dad’s specialties, along with potato pancakes (not in the same meal) and how can you go wrong with something that has hot, salty fat in it?

I started with the Joy of Cooking recipe but then thought, that’s not how my dad made it. But he never wrote down his recipe. So I improvised.

First thing you do is go out to your garden and pick some spinach.
Yes, I know that’s not spinach. It’s chard. I don’t have a spinach photo and really, isn’t chard beautiful? I made a crustless quiche with a bunch of the chard last week and although chard is perfectly good on its own, it is significantly enhanced with the addition of cheese, cream and eggs.

Then you wash it.

Wash it over and over because it gets really dirty in the garden. Then you let it dry or not, as to your taste. If you have a salad spinner, use that to dry the leaves. If you happened to wrench the salad spinner from your husband’s hands last summer and throw it in the Goodwill basket because not once in the three years since you had met had you guys used said salad spinner, you will just toss the spinach in the colander. Your husband will use the untimely giveaway of the spinner as proof that nothing should ever be thrown away, including the phone bills from the house he owned with his ex wife ten years ago and the tuition receipts for his stepdaughter, who has been out of college since 1998.

Then chop some onion. Enough. For two people, I used about half a cup, but we are onion-loving people. It goes with our philosophy that there is no such thing as too much garlic. There is almost never too much onion, either.

Then I chopped some smoked back bacon from the Usinger’s bargain counter because I had it and I didn’t want to get any bacon out of the freezer. If you are going the back bacon route, sauté it in a little bit of bacon grease.

You do have bacon grease, right? You keep your bacon grease in a jar in the fridge rather than throwing it away, right? I cry to think of all the people using boring corn oil for frying when they could be using bacon grease. Think of all the starving children in China who would like a decent-flavored stir-fried bok choy.

Once you have sautéed the meat (or fried four or six slices of bacon), remove it, put it on a plate, hide the plate from your cats and your husband, and throw in the onion. Sauté the onion for a little bit in maybe _ cup of bacon grease. That sounds like a lot but it’s better to have too much dressing than not enough. Onion sizzling in bacon grease is a very close second to the very best smell in the world, which is garlic sizzling in olive oil.

Don’t do what I did next, which was think, “Didn’t dad put flour in his dressing, even though Joy of Cooking makes no mention of flour?” and you can’t find a spinach salad recipe in your grandmother’s church cookbook because who needs a recipe for something everyone knows how to make? and throw some flour in, which eventually makes you a nice dressing for German potato salad (fortunately, that is on the menu for Thursday, so it didn’t go to waste) but not a good dressing for spinach.

Instead, sauté your onion solita, throw in some salt and maybe some pepper using the fancy birthday pepper mill your husband got from his parents, who usually send an ugly shirt but it’s not their fault because they ask what he wants and he never tells them so if he’s not going to speak up, he has nobody but himself to blame.

Also put in a tiny bit of sugar – maybe two pinches. Once all that is dissolved, add about as much vinegar as you used bacon grease. I used plain old store brand cider vinegar.  We never had fancy stuff when I was a kid.

Stir it, then pour a bunch of it over your bowl full of spinach leaves, then sprinkle the back bacon or some crumbled bacon from the bacon strips you fried over the top. Mix it all up and enjoy. Joy of Cooking suggests hard-boiled eggs as a garnish but I was too lazy to do that.


Spinach Salad Recipe (more or less)
A bunch of spinach
1/2 cup onion
1/4 cup bacon grease
Two pinches of sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
As much bacon as you want to put on the top


Thanks for the day off and the fabulous recipe, C-F!

If anyone else out there wants to hijack my blog on any random Monday just shoot me an email. Write Monday Blog Hijackery in the subject line so I don't accidentally delete you.  This could be fun. =D