Banana Date Cake

My husband has been away on a trip and before he left he bought a large bag of bananas. My daughter eats a banana every day with breakfast, but we were left with about 9 that had reached the point that they weren’t nice enough for anything but some good ole banana bread.

I haven’t made banana bread in a long time, so I went to my typical trusty source for recipes: Allrecipes. I found one titled “Banana Crumb Muffins” and decided it looked promising. One tip I would like to suggest anytime that you use a recipe online is to check and see if there are any comments. A lot of times your will find helpful tips that make the recipe even better.



Banana Date Cake/Muffins
[This recipe makes 1 small bundt cake, about 16 mini muffins or about 8 regular sized muffins]

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla (I used powder)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
3 very ripe mashed bananas
4-5 tbsp. date paste (I used premade, but you can make your own)
For the crumb topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter

Directions:
1 – Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
2 – Lightly grease (I used butter) your cake pan (I used a bundt tin) or muffin pan.
3 – In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and vanilla (if you use liquid vanilla, add it with the wet ingredients instead)
4 – In another bow, beat together the bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.
5 – stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until it is moistened.
6 – Spoon the batter into the pan half-way. Add the date-paste (for my cake I added the date paste like a ring all the way around the bundt tin — for muffins I formed little balls and pressed them into the batter) Add the rest of the batter on top covering the date paste.
7 – In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle the topping over your cake or muffins.
8 – bake in  the oven for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Banana Date Mini Muffins

I hope that you enjoy this recipe. If you give it a try, be sure to leave me a comment below telling me what you think!

الحمدلله

S

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Baby Gadgets

Here are some baby gadgets that I have used with my daughter.

Sleeping / Lounging
Fisher Price Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
[Walmart – find it here]

Newborn until about 5 months
I bought this while I was in the US before my daughter was born. She took naps in it frequently as a newborn and should would lounge in it here and there until she was about 5 months.

Graco Travel Lite Crib with Stages
[Amazon – find it here]

Newborn until (still in use at 14 months)
My mom and gram bought this for us as a gift at Centrepoint when there were  here visiting in Saudi. It honestly didn’t get much use until my daughter was about 10 months old and I sent it with her to be used by the babysitter while I am at work. At this point it is a bit snug for her to totally stretch out, but it still works for us just fine.

Ingenuity SmartBounce Automatic Bouncer
[ToysRUs – find it here]

Newborn until 7 months
I bought this at Centrepoint when my daughter was about 3 months and was interested in looking at things around her while lounging. I got her to fall asleep in this while bouncing a handful of times. She also sat in this in the bathroom while I would take a shower.

Playing
Bright Starts 4-in-1 Discovery Activity Gym
[Walmart – find it here]
52275_hr

Newborn until 6 months
This was a baby shower gift from my mom’s best friend. It is great because it is quite small and was easy for me to fit in my luggage to come back to Saudi from the US. My daughter used it from the time she was a newborn until she was about 6 months and wanted to sit upright.

Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun Activity Center
[Amazon – find it here]

Newborn until (still in use at 14 months)
This was a gift from a group of my colleagues from work. This actually has 3 stages: a play mat like the previous item, a jumper as shown in the photo and a “s” shaped activity table. We didn’t use the play mat too much because we already had one, but we did use the jumper for a few months and then when my daughter turned 1 year I converted it to the activity table, which she is still currently using.

Little Tikes Wide Tracker Activity Walker
[Amazon – find it here]
walker
We bought this when my daughter turned 1 year. We should have gotten her one a couple of months before when she started standing and walking along the furniture. She used it and shortly after she started walking on her own. She still plays with it though and likes to put her toys in the little doors.

Travel
Graco Modes Click Connect Travel System
[souq.com – not available]

Newborn until (still in use at 14 months)
I bought this travel system from a website here in Saudi before my daughter was born. It is nice because it is a multi-position set. The seats can be interchanged and the baby can face you or face out. We still use the stroller, but stopped using the car seat when my daughter was about 10 or 11 months old. She can still  use it as her weight is under the limit, but I actually purchased a new seat for her that can be rear and forward facing.

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat
[Walmart – find it here]
coscoscerene
10 months until (still in use at 14 months)
I bought this Car Seat while I was in the US this past summer. I wanted something that seemed a bit more comfortable than the infant seat that came with our travel system. I also wanted to plan a bit ahead knowing that at some point we would need a forward facing seat. I would have paid a lot more for a seat like this here in Saudi.

Ergo Baby Adapt
[Amazon – find it here]

Newborn until (still in use at 14 months)
I bought this carrier on amazon and had it shipped to Saudi when my daughter was 2 months old. My husband had a business trip to California and because I was on maternity leave I decided to take baby and go with him. We actually left the stroller at home and only took this carrier. It was fantastic and totally worth the money.

I might update this post a bit later if there is something that I have forgotten. This has been in my drafts section for so long that I figured I should just try to clean it up and get it posted :).

Let me know if you used any of the gadgets and if you liked them or not. Also, tell me about any gadgets that you used that are not on my list!

 

الحمدلله

S

 

“Breastsleeping”

Here are three posts — and some comments that I received — over on my Facebook account about bed-sharing.


Before I became a mother I always said that I wouldn’t allow my children to sleep in my bed. — PART 1 — You read all of these terrifying things about co-sleeping, and yet there is something so instinctual about it. I remember just after she was born, when my mother and grandmother were here with me, if I fell asleep in bed and the baby was in the other room I would suddenly clutch the blankets in my arms and subconsciously search for the baby as I was transitioning from asleep to awake.

Before I became a mother I always said that I wouldn’t allow my children to sleep in my bed. — PART 2 — The biggest reason I felt the way I did about co-sleeping is because I am generally a very heavy sleeper (I’ve always been the person who can sleep anywhere/anytime/anyplace). I really didn’t think I would trust myself sleeping next to my baby. However, as soon as she was born I realized that I don’t sleep the way I did before. If I went to take a nap in the other room while someone watched the baby I would wake up as soon as she let out any kind of cry. Now, when she stirs, I wake up before she even makes a sound. I open my eyes and if she’s awake I feed her or change her. If she’s sleepy, I watch her a minute until she goes back to sleep and I close my eyes again.

Before I became a mother I always said that I wouldn’t allow my children to sleep in my bed. — PART 3 — “Breastsleeping” – It felt like I wasn’t getting more than 2 hours consecutive sleep, until I started nursing while lying down. As soon as I started doing that it was like magic. I didn’t have to actually wake up, sit up or wait for baby to finish/go back to sleep. And I didn’t have to risk falling asleep while holding her in my arms. “Breastsleeping” allowed me to multitask by feeding and relaxing at the same time. I know that this is the main reason why most of the time I feel adequately rested or at least pretty far from exhausted. 

•I remember reading in one of my psych books how at the turn of the last century is when kids started sleeping in separate beds from their parents and then eventually separate rooms but prior to that it was totally unheard of. Or how a baby goes from having constant contact with the mother (being in the womb) to being isolated in their own bedroom can be traumatizing to them. Or the simple fact that as adults we like the security and comfort of sleeping next to our spouses but expect our children to not have those same desires and sleep alone. So, S******’s crib is in our room, inches away from our bed and M******* knows that whenever she wants to crawl in our bed, I always make room for her! ❤️

•D** slept with us for 6 months. I think you are right, it is instinctual. I firmly believe I was not sleep deprived for those 6 months because I was never worried about D** during those nights. If he needed to nurse, he would usually latch on himself. I think it formed a very healthy, happy bond between us.

•Almost a year and a half and my bug still sleeps with me- I’m a huge supporter of SAFE co-sleeping. I feel we push our children to be independent FAR too early in their lives. 

•My babies all coslept! And nursed as they pleased! W****** is 8 months old still co sleeping and nursing!

I received many supportive comments from family and friends. I did, however, receive one comment, which I was expecting:

•AAP has warned against this. It is ok to have the child in your room up to 6 months to a year….in their own bed. So many deaths have occurred because of this practice…if your child dies because of it…you will be charged with murder.

I replied:

I’ll just leave this here ☺️ 

http://news.nd.edu/news/researchers-propose-breastsleeping-as-a-new-word-and-concept/

~ ‘McKenna argues that co-sleeping while breast-feeding is a safe environment for your baby. This is because “the breastsleeping mother/baby pair both sleep in lighter stages, which makes them more sensitive to the behaviour of the other.”’

Here is another link that I’d like to just throw out there:

https://neuroanthropology.net/2008/12/21/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives-why-human-babies-do-not-and-should-not-sleep-alone/

~’For breastfeeding mothers, bedsharing makes breastfeeding much easier to manage and practically doubles the amount of breastfeeding sessions while permitting both mothers and infants to spend more time asleep.’

~’the highest rates of bedsharing worldwide occur alongside the lowest rates of infant mortality, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) rates’

A final point that I would like to make is that breastsleeping/bed-sharing can be done safely or unsafely. It’s so important to understand and follow guidelines for safe cosleeping. If you are under the influence, overtired or on a surface other than your bed, just don’t do it! It goes along with the old expression “better be safe than sorry”. So, do what you feel is instinctually right for you and your baby, but educate yourself and do things safely. 

الحمدلله

S

Home?


I’m American. I grew up in the Adirondacks of northern NY state. I went to university in VT about an hour away from my hometown. The first time that I really moved away from home was August 2012. My husband was accepted to study his masters at a university in IA and since I had finished my masters, I went with him. From August 2012 until December 2013 I lived 17 hours away from my dad and 10 hours away from my mom (by car). Then at the very end of December 2013 I decided to take a job and move to Saudi Arabia…

Now I find myself calling two places “home”. The little town I grew up in is “home” because it’s what I know and most of my family live there. Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia is “home” because it is where I live and work. It’s where my apartment and my things are. It’s where my husband and I stay together. It’s the place where we started our own family. 

When I’m in Saudi and I say “home”, I mean NY. When I’m in NY and I say “home”, I mean Riyadh. That one word has different meanings for me. It hold different emotions based on which place I’m talking about. 

My home in the US is full of old memories — summers spent playing ball, harsh winters spent in front of the wood fire. There are places so vivid in my mind – this path leading up to a small waterfall near the top of the river that runs through town, noises I can hear if I close my eyes — rain on the roof of my bedroom, things I can imagine feeling — my feet stepping on the grass of our lawn, smells that I can sense when they are nowhere near — crisp autumn leaves, and tastes that still seem so fresh — cool water straight from the tap. The nostalgia  I get when I’m away is so real.

On the other hand, there is a quote that describes my feelings for Riyadh perfectly – “You know that you’re in love when home becomes a person, not a place.” My husband makes Riyadh “home” for me. Riyadh is nothing like where I grew up. Its the opposite of what I know. It’s a crowded city. It’s a desert with hot, dusty summers and mild winters. But somehow I feel at home there. I feel my place there and I miss it when I go away. It’s a place where I feel safe. It’s the “home” where I start to make new memories.

The beautiful thing about this is that I’m almost always “home”. 

الحمدلله

S

A Very Belated Happy Eid

Well…I tried! I definitely didn’t get the chance to share all of the recipes that I was planning to post, but I’ll give myself credit for the two that made it up and that just means that I’ll try again next Ramadan, ان ساء الله. 

I hope that all of you had a blessed Ramadan and a wonderful Eid. This is very late, but better now than never! 

We spent our Eid in Ha’il with Y’s family. It was baby’s first Eid, so I really enjoyed getting her dressed up for our gatherings. The first day of Eid I put her in a grey pleated dress with teal embroidery, a teal bow headband and a pair of sandals from Okaidi. On the second day she wore a white eyelet dress from Carter’s [which I purchased online during a sale for less than $12], a bow headband we borrowed from her cousin and a pair of white shoes from Centrepoint. I forgot to take a picture of her outfit from the third day, but she had on this cute white and gold patterned tank bodysuit and white cotton pants from Carter’s. Also, one of Y’s uncles paid for the girls to stay at the rented Istrahah an extra day, so we had another evening of dressing up. Baby wore a little set with a black tank bodysuit (that said little cutie in gold) and white pants with a black and gold print from Carter’s [this set was a gift from my mom].

I had such a fun time putting her in such cute outfits, as to be quite honest 90% of time time she’s either in a play suit for bed or a onesie and maybe some cotton pants, maybe. 

Once again, please accept my warmest belated Eid wishes to you and your families. 

الحمدلله

S

Ramadan Recipes: Tomato Macaroni Beef Soup


Tomato Macaroni Beef Soup

Ingredients:
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 cup of ground beef
-1 small onion [chopped]
-1 tomato chopped
-1 cup macaroni
-4 tbsp oats
-4 tbsp tomato paste
-2 tbsp Arabic mixed spice
-salt & pepper (to taste)
-1 tbsp chopped parsley/dried parsley
-8 cups of water

Method:
*{I use a multicooker to make my soups, but you can use a slow cooker or a  regular pot.}
1. Brown onion, tomato and beef with the olive oil (if you’re using a multicooker/slow cooker do this in a frying pan and then add it to your cooker — if you’re using a regular pot do this in the pot)
2. Add the rest of ingredients to your pot and cook (if stovetop put it on a low heat and check it now and again to make sure that you don’t need to add any water)
3. Leave it in your cooker/pot for about an hour. (Check and see if you want to add any more salt/pepper — If you are cooking stovetop you might want to add the macaroni after the first 30 mins if you don’t like them to be too soft)
4. Add the parsley and serve with lemon.

Enjoy!

الحمدلله
♥

S

Experiences with Breastfeeding: Part 2

It is such a relief once breastfeeding becomes “easy”. I guess a better word would be relaxed. Baby has become more efficient and I have become more comfortable. These days there isn’t much pain and leaking is minimal. Things are good.

At 4 months I had to go back to work, which meant that baby would go to daycare and I would pump in my office. The first two days were difficult for her, but since then she has been totally fine. I had trouble pumping enough for her in the beginning, but with a little patience and more frequent pumping sessions I was able to send her with enough milk without having to do any extra pumping outside of work. Thankfully, my experiences with pumping at work have been wonderful. I have my own office and I’m able to just close and lock my door when I need to. Also, there are other women here who have been in the same situation and so everyone is very understanding and supportive.

However, during that month we found out that baby seems to have a cows milk protein allergy. It was causing her to have a lot of mucus and sometimes blood in her diaper. The doctor asked me to put her on a special formula for a week, but to continue pumping. I guess the doctor felt that the formula would give us a faster answer, but it broke my heart to hear those words. Anyways, I listened to his advice and after two days passed and neither of us had slept very much, I gave up and I put her back to my chest. (A week before that I had stopped having any dairy myself. The doctor had told me to cut back, but I decided it would be easier for me to just avoid it as much as I could.) It took us three to four weeks, but we saw improvement. I have continued to avoid dairy and breastfeed and I’m happy with my decision to do that. I’m also grateful that the pediatrician was supportive of my decision as well. Continue reading

Ramadan Recipes: White Chicken & Oats Soup

 

White Chicken & Oats Soup


Ingredients:
-1 tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts [cubed]
-1 small onion [chopped]
-1/3 cup lentils [rinsed]
-6 tbsp oats
-1 tbsp cumin
-salt & pepper (to taste)
-1 tbsp chopped parsley/dried parsley
-8 cups of water

Method:
*{I use a multicooker to make my soups, but you can use a slow cooker or a  regular pot.}
1. Brown onion and chicken with the olive oil (if you’re using a multicooker/slow cooker do this in a frying pan and then add it to your cooker — if you’re using a regular pot do this in the pot)
2. Add the rest of ingredients to your pot and cook (if stovetop put it on a low heat and check it now and again to make sure that you don’t need to add any water)
3. Leave it in your cooker/pot for about an hour. (Check and see if you want to add any more salt/pepper)
4. Add the parsley and serve with lemon.

Enjoy!

الحمدلله

S