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.

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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.

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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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Moghrabyeh (semolina dough grains)


moghrabyeh

Lebanese cuisine gained its reputation for the mezzeh, tabbouleh and raw meat…. But if you are fan of hard core Lebanese food, Moghrabyeh should be one of your favorites.

Moghrabyeh, are grains (shaped like small balls) made of semolina, available as dry or frozen. This dish is deep in flavor due to caraway and cumin seasoning. You can prepare it with chicken (thighs or breast) or beef shank (aka mawzet) or even both. My recipe calls for chicken, the most common one.

For those who thinks it’s hard to prepare this dish, follow me step by step you will change your mind.

Step1: cooking the chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 kg chicken (10 pieces approximately), thighs or breast
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground caraway
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Season the chicken pieces with salt, caraway and cumin. Fry in butter and oil until golden brown (about 5 minutes each side). The reason to mix butter with oil beside the lovely taste, the oil helps the butter not to get burnt quickly.

fried chicken

Step2: cooking chick peas and onions

Ingredients:

  • 10 small onions
  • 2 cups chick peas canned
  • 1 tbsp butter

Fry onions with butter until tender and fragrant, then add the chick peas and fold together for about 2 minutes.

chick peas and onions

Step 3: making the broth

Add the onions and chick peas to the chicken. Pour 6 cups of water. Put a small cinnamon stick and simmer for 30 minutes to get a chicken broth.

broth

Step4: Preparing the moghrabyeh grain and the sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of dry moghrabyeh
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups of the chicken broth
  • 5 cups of hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground caraway
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

Remove the chicken from the broth. In a deep pot put the moghrabyeh grains and cover with 3 cups of the chicken broth already prepared and 5 cups of hot water. Put the butter, salt, caraway and cumin. Cover the pot and put it aside until the moghrabyeh gets tender in texture like pasta.

moghrabyeh soaked

With the remaining broth, add one tbsp flour and 1/2 tsp of cumin powder, cook on medium low heat to thicken. Keep in it the chick peas and onions.

Serve the moghrabyeh grains with the chicken and sauce.

moghrabyeh

Astuces:

  • Put the sauce on individual portions as the moghrabyeh absorb the sauce if it stays long time in it.
  • If you are cooking frozen moghrabyeh, it’s the same method but requires half of the quantity of broth/water
  • If you are not willing to use canned chick peas, soak the dry chick peas in water a day before until it doubles in size.

moghrabyeh

Enjoy this full flavor dish, it’s one of the dishes you can’t enjoy cooked light, make it as it should be done without counting calories. Anyways it’s not an everyday dish.

Recipe courtesy of my mum.

moghrabyeh

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Crème caramel


creme caramel

Crème caramel or Crème renversée or even flan custard, they are different names for this succulent dessert. I always thought it’s very difficult and tricky to make it until today, i promise you it’s so easy and prepared in less than 20 minutes.

The secret of success of this caramel dessert is in using bio eggs and both milk and cream to get this very smooth and silky texture.

creme caramel

It consists of two parts of preparation. First the caramel and then the creme.

Heat 1 1/2 cup of sugar on a medium heat and in a non stick pan until the sugar gets brown and gradually melt to turn into golden caramel. it will take about 5-7 minutes.

creme caramel

Pour the caramel into a baking dish and distribute it evenly in the dish until it covers all the parts by tilting it in circular moves. Put aside to prepare the creme.

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 6 large eggs bio
  • dash of salt
  • zest of half lemon (3/4 tsp almost)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cognac or whiskey of a good quality
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Whisk sugar and eggs, gently so you don’t get bubbles, then add salt, zest and cognac (or whiskey) and mix them until combined. Finally add milk and cream and mix well again gently to avoid bubbles which won’t give the smooth texture later when baking.

If you get bubbles you can get rid of them by sieving the mixture before pouring it in the prepared baking dish. Cover it with aluminum foil and make small holes in it. Bake it bain marie style on 200°C for almost an hour or 70 minutes. Start checking on it after 50 minutes. Insert a wooden skewer, it should comes out clean.

creme caramel

For those who doesn’t know bain marie technique (water bath or double boiler), it consists of bathing your baking dish in another wider dish containing boiling water. The water covers the outside of your baking dish to half. This technique is meant to evenly cook something, gently and gradually.

Let the crème caramel cool down, then turn it upside down on a plate, not too shallow because you will have caramel liquid coming out.

creme caramelcreme caramel

Better served after chilled in the fridge for at least 5 hours!

If you wish to serve it as individual portions you can pour the creme evenly in small ramekins.

Recipe courtesy of my mum, i am so lucky she is still here!

creme caramel

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Apple carrot cake


apple carrot cakeSometimes all you need is a simple and easy cake recipe for everyday. Breakfast or dessert, this is the wholesome cake to adapt. It has fruits (apple and carrots), nuts (walnut), eggs and milk.

apple carrot cake

It’s a complete meal or snack, made it healthier by replacing the butter with vegetable oil and using low fat milk.

So much flavors in a simple cake to enjoy and indulge.

apple carrot cakeYou will need: (9″ baking dish)

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • zest of one lemon (approx 1 tbsp)
  • zest of one orange (approx 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 large carrot grated
  • 1 medium apple grated
  • 1/2 cup milk (low fat)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chip
  • a handful walnut

apple carrot cake

 

Preheat oven on 180°C. Butter a 9″ dish and dust with flour then put it aside.

Start by mixing eggs, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until light in color and fluffy. Mix in the lemon and orange zest and the oil and keep mixing for another 5 minutes on low speed.

Fold in the flour, baking powder, grated carrot, grated apple and milk. Mix gently until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour in the baking dish and bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

If you wish to wrap the cake with chocolate, sprinkle 1 cup dark chocolate chip on top when the cake is done and still hot then garnish with a handful walnut. If you don’t want to add chocolate, chop the walnuts and add them to the batter before baking.

apple carrot cakeIt’s so fluffy and rich, beware that one piece could drag another. In other words it’s addictive.

This cake is so versatile, you can add cinnamon if you’re fond of, and if you wish to enjoy a deep flavor,  you can add a pinch of nutmeg and clove.

apple carrot cakeIf 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.