Chocolate strawberry cake


choclate strawberry cake 1Of all valentine’s desserts i believe a decadent chocolate and strawberry cake shouts it better! Nothing says i love you more than a homemade dessert, it holds so much care.

This special cake is not just looking beautiful but it is delicious too. It is love at first bite!

chocolate strawberry cake 2Whether you celebrate valentines day or you don’t, you can bake this cake any day you wish to spread love and joy at home.

You will be surprised from this foolproof cake, how easy and doesn’t require baking skills at all. You will be encouraged to do it more often if you are not really a big fan of baking.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour sifted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder sifted(of a good quality)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped strawberry

Mix all dry ingredients together then add vanilla, vinegar, oil and water. Combine well before folding in the strawberries.

Grease a 9″ heart pan and bake on 180°C for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

chocolate strawberry cake 3chocolate strawberry cake 4Keep aside until completely cool and meanwhile prepare the ganache to wrap it up.

  • 200g chopped chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream until about to boil and dump in the chocolate. Let it rest for 5 minutes before mixing well. The silky ganache will appear gradually while mixing.

Let it rest 15 minutes in the fridge to hold itself before pouring it over the cake.

chocolate strawberry cake 5I told you it’s so easy and could be done in no time! Garnish with strawberries for the festive look. Isn’t it so beautiful?! Wait until you taste it too.

chocolate strawberry cake 6The moist texture is heavenly. It stays up to 3 days outside the fridge, and if you wish to serve it cold, keep it for up to one week in the fridge. This cake doesn’t feature eggs, milk or butter so the life duration is longer. Don’t hesitate to try it and give me your suggestions.

chocolate strawberry cake 7I wish you love 366 days a year. Isn’t 2016 a leap year? An additional day to love and be loved ;)

chocolate strawberry cake 8chocolate strawberry cake 9If you like this post give it some likes and shares to spread the joy. Don’t forget to like marmite et ponpon facebook page and follow on twitter. More interesting posts are yet to come.

 

 

Makhlouta (mix grains soup)


makhloutaMixed is the literal translation for the word “makhlouta”. This traditional Lebanese soup consists of a medley of chickpeas, pinto beans (or any bean of your choice), lentils and bulgur. A great source of proteins and iron to serve well for people abstaining from eating meat during the lent period.

If you are vegetarian and this is your first introduction to makhlouta, trust me it will be on your to do list from now on. The ingredients look simple but the outcome is deep in flavor.

makhlouta 5You will need:

  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup beans (of your choice but usually it’s pinto beans)
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 2 big onions finely diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • cumin powder for seasoning (optional)

Soak chickpeas and beans for overnight or at least 12 hours to double in size.

makhlouta 2

In a deep pot fry the onions in olive oil until tender and fragrant. When they start turning into golden brown color, drain out chickpeas and beans from water and add them to the onion then the lentils and bulgur. Pour 2 liters of water and cook on medium heat. When it starts boiling, reduce to low heat, cover the pot and let it simmer for an hour. If the water reduces feel free to add some more. The level of water should be always 2-3cm above the grains.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of cumin, it gives a nice deep flavor and helps with the digestion of the grains later. Some people like to add lemon juice for this purpose.

makhlouta 3This delicious soup serves 4-6 plates. It’s not an entree like other soups, lebanese people serve it as a main dish as it is so filling! It’s a hearty soup served in old days during winter to supply with the energy needed.

makhlouta 4

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Endless ways i love you


endless loveAfter the success of last year’s wheel of love i found an urge to revisit this activity, to express my endless reasons i love my family especially my family has grown since then.

As said before, telling your children “I love you” more often and expressing it for every occasion develops their secure attachment to you, knowing that they are loved unconditionally. Strong closeness to the family will lead no doubt to positive relationships in adulthood and high self esteem.

endless love 2I still have faith in celebrating love if done in deep and expressive ways. Lot of you including me, find Valentines day becoming very shallow and commercial. Lets not go this path and teach our children the true meaning of love, the way of Valentinus the patron saint of lovers.

I used an old wood tray; i gave it some festive bright look by painting it with vivid colors.

endless love 3I prepared our homemade clay dough, and hand it to Nady to cut out heart shapes and color them.

A quick reminder on how to do the dough:

You will need:

  • 1 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to medium heat. Whisk continually  until it starts to thicken. It will take couple of minutes to look like mashed potato in consistency, remove it immediately from the heat. Place it in a bowl and cover it with damp cloth until it’s cool. Knead it on a smooth surface by adding cornstarch if it feels a bit sticky.  And it’s ready!

Stick the hearts on the tray:

endless love 4Enjoy writing on the hearts the many and endless reasons why you love your children and husband/wife too ;) It’s not just for kids! Do it to your significant other and let love flourishes in your hearts and homes!

endless love 5Hang it on the wall as a frame, and if your children are old enough to write, you can get them involved in the game and stretch it for a longer time. Ask them to write the reasons they love you too and play this mutual love game starting a week ahead, hanging everyday one heart from each, until valentines day when you have filled all the hearts.

endless love 6

My boys are still too small to be able to read, Antoun and I filled all the hearts and read  them to Nady. Joud (6months) was enjoying the colors and kisses!

endless love 10

I wasn’t surprised with my Nady who visually memorized them and was telling me each heart is saying what! This is a reason why i love my smart boy.

endless love 7

Don’t forget that love is not only words, it should be followed by actions, and the most important the presence. Be present for your kids, in love, protection and service. Happy love xxx

endless love 8endless love 11

endless love 9If you like this post give it some likes and shares to spread the joy. Don’t forget to like marmite et ponpon facebook page and follow on twitter. More interesting posts are yet to come.

 

Maldives baby


maldives

Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before – Dalai Lama

Travel is my dream and my dream is to travel the world. I guess it’s contagious or maybe in the genes; My adventurous boys love traveling too and i really find a pleasure in their enjoyment. They take the trip to the next level and change my perspective.

For Nady (3 years) it’s his third adventure, and the first for Joud (6 months), without counting the many trips back and forth between Lebanon and Qatar. I told you we like to live in a suitcase, and Antoun likes it :)

The decision to go to Maldives was taken on the spur of the moment. My mom was leaving back home (after 3 months with us), so we decided to wrap up her journey en beauté, and go all together with my brother and his family. Lets go for some sun and fun!

maldives 2

People find us crazy to go to such a romantic place with kids, i told you, kids change your perspective toward things. It’s still a romantic destination to chill and relax, but if you look at it from my eyes it’s also a enriching trip for the kids; Who said kids don’t admire beauty or don’t need such a heavenly environment where the vivid colors are so enchanting.

Your kids are what you teach them and expose them to. Last year we went for an adventure to sri lanka, to discover and see things that Nady used to see only in books. This year, with our new addition, Joud, we were sure that Maldives is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the nature masterpieces, the family and escape from the cold to benefit from the sun and get extra vitamin D.

maldives 3maldives 5maldives 4maldives 6maldives 77Maldives is an island country in the Indian ocean, it is a long and narrow country formed by 26 natural atolls. The origin of the word atoll itself is in the language of the Maldives, is now used in many languages worldwide designating a ring-shaped coral reef cluding a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. The capital and largest city is Malé, traditionally called the kings island.

We were in Meeru Island resort and spa, on the island of Meerufenfushi, North Malé Atoll. It’s the only resort on this island stretching over 1200 meters long by 350 meters wide. It’s a beautiful resort of a turquoise lagoon, white sand beach and palm trees.

The Maldivian hospitality is a must mention, we had a warm welcome and a great friendly and prompt service throughout our stay.

maldives 10maldives 14maldives 9maldives 8maldives 11maldives 15maldives 12maldives 13

You can choose to either chillax under the sun or go for some water activities. Whether you are an adventurous traveler or just seeking relaxation you can enjoy:

  • sea cruising
  • diving
  • water skiing
  • kite boarding
  • banana boating
  • fishing
  • island hopping
  • taking photos
  • live cooking
  • spa
  • laying on the beach and catching tan

In our case we spent a lot of time at the beach and by the pool, enjoying our kids happiness, we roamed around the island for some memorable photos and enjoyed the Maldivian and international food and drinks.

maldives 17maldives 21maldives 23maldives 19maldives 20maldives 22maldives 18maldives 24

Always looking forward to the next voyage :)

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How to entertain your 3-6 months baby


baby joud 3-6 months

Now your baby is bigger and stronger, he is a more alert and active one. Probably he developed some routine, and maybe not, but sure he will be awake for longer periods of time during the day. Time to play and develop motor, intellectual, language and social skills.

Don’t forget each baby meets his milestones at his own pace, each baby is unique. To play with your baby you need to take into consideration the acquired skills at this stage. Here is an overview on what happens from 3-6 months:

Intellectual skills:

  • Follows moving objects
  • Recognizes familiar people

Fine and gross motor skills:

  • Plays with toes
  • Brings hands to his mouth
  • Having early hand-eye coordination
  • Reaches with his both hands and grasp things with his fingers
  • Rolls from tummy to back and otherwise
  • Raises head and chest when on tummy
  • Can push up to elbows
  • Can bear his weight on his feet (stands up)
  • Can sit supported
  • May begin teething

Social skills:

  • Smiles socially
  • Laughs for you at play time
  • Expresses unhappiness when hungry or need to change

3-6 baby entertainment

Language skills:

  • Turns to sounds
  • Recognizes his name
  • Babbles and coos to grab attention
  • Expresses happiness to a song he likes

3-6 baby entertainment

Below are some ideas on how to entertain your baby and make benefit out of this play time. Follow their readiness and abilities to enjoy these activities:

  • Reaching high for toys, can be done positioned flat on his back to reach toys dangling from the mobile or baby gym or when seated in his swing.

3-6 baby entertainment

  • Peekaboo and funny faces (lets be honest and call it silly faces), are always fun and entertaining. Your baby started to develop a sense of humor. He laughs at pleasant surprises, such as your face appearing from underneath a blanket or a toy popping out of a box. Encourage your baby’s laugh and enjoy their priceless giggles. Till now i am all in tears when he really laughs hard. My heart melts for him.

 

  • Call his name every time you talk to him or about him to learn his own identity. I even change some words in a song to say his name ;)

 

  • Grasping toys, while encouraging tummy time. Prop your baby on his tummy, (in the beginning you can help by placing him on a rolled a soft towel, later he will be able to do it by himself when his muscles are stronger), place few toys around and give him a space to reach for toys with his free hands.

3-6 baby entertainment

  • Mirror play, babies love seeing and discovering their reflections, and as they grow you can point out parts in the face and name them to help his language skills for later.

 

  • Music is an effortless entertainment, you can always take advantage when tired or have something to do at home. I mean by music not just playing music in the room, at this age your baby wants to be involved and discover. Hand him a toy that produces music (like a rattle for example) or a toy that sings and tells stories (usually they come in cute animal shapes) . This way you develop as well their tactile, motor and language skills.

3-6 baby entertainment

  • Making sounds is the most spontaneous play parents always do. I guess it comes by instinct, simply clicking your tongue, whistling, or making animal noises, clapping… By the end of the 5th month, your baby’s communication skills start expanding rapidly, you will hear lots of squeals and babbling. These produced sounds are a response to his feelings such as happiness or excitement. Baby babbles at this stage are one syllable repeated such as ba, ma, ga… few will add another syllable. Encourage your baby babbling back by imitating animals sounds and lay good foundations for more developed language skills at a later stage.

 

  • Activity toys such as exersaucer, walker, jumperoo and music station.. you find lots of these activity stations from all brands. This type of activity most parents think they don’t need to get involved in it as the baby can discover by himself. In contrary i believe when parents get down on the floor near them and explain verbally what they see or hear will double the fun and benefits!

 

  • Going outdoors is such a fun activity for your baby, especially if you get the chance to go to parks or beach and expose your baby to new sights and sounds. Such surroundings are so much beneficial to your kids health plus they make them more relaxed and happy.

Finally a one to one play is always recommended without toys or objects, simply the mother or father can do:

  • Bouncing in the air
  • Pull and exercise their arms and feet
  • Roll them on tummy and back
  • Make funny sounds and faces
  • Tickle and shower them with kisses
  • Extend bath time to enjoy the water splash
  • Massage their feet and toes
  • Telling stories
  • Hold your baby in your arms and dance to a nice music

As i always say, you shouldn’t be a pedagogue or take coaching courses, trust your motherhood instinct and follow your heart. You are a great mother by nature :)

four months baby joud

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