Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shopping Cart

I haven't written a Product Review for a while now although I've been wanting to do so for months. But since at the time there was only one particular product I wanted to share, I figured I'd just wait until the list extends to at least two or three interesting discoveries. Finally, I have them :)

Baby Fever can be so cute and fun, I attest. Unless it is literally baby fever and we're talking about the child's temperature.

In Dubai I had found patches to stick on baby's forehead to help reduce the temperature. I cannot remember the brand and hubby could not find them when I asked him to bring us a couple of boxes to Lebanon.

So I checked for available alternatives in Beirut and found this magical treasure:

Photo Credit: R. Abouzeid

At an ungodly hour of emergency one night, I was happy to know Mazen Pharmacy in Corniche Al Mazraa would deliver the miracle patch right to my door.  

In a nutshell, Cool Aqua-Patch works almost immediately and effectively helps reduce fever. It is so much better than ice-cold water which Mia would constantly fight with all the strength her little body could muster.

It is now illegal for pharmacies to home-deliver in Lebanon, however Mazen Pharmacy will bring you any over-the-counter product 24/7, provided you purchase at least one item from Mazen Supermarket. Tel.: +9611300444 +9611313369 +9611313362.

My advice is to keep a couple of Cool Aqua-Patch boxes at home, at all times, in case of emergency.

The following text contains highly feminine content which may be graphic to some of the male population. It is intended to provide tips for mothers-to-be on post-delivery issues. 
You have been warned ;)

The other couple of products I'd like to introduce are actually two brands of the same article: maternity pads.

Before my first delivery, I was advised by the hospital nurses to purchase "Relax" a local brand by Sanita. I don't know if it's because they have some sort of arrangement with the company or if it is just because the local brands should be cheaper, and thus available to all patients alike. Or maybe "Relax" has just become synonymous with maternity pads in the same way Kleenex, Kotex and Panadol are colloquial synonyms for tissue paper, sanitary pads and paracetamol.

In any case, "Relax" did not relax me at all.

It was rather uncomfortable as the pads are too narrow although super thick, and the nurses advise to place two next to each other to cover the entire area.

This time again, I went to the hospital carrying my box of "Relax", not so happy at the idea I'd have to wear pads thicker than my baby's diapers and yet, not wide enough to do the job!

So you can imagine my joy when my pharmacist advised me to go for something else when I was (finally) out of "Relax". The first time, he gave me Euron© Micro:

Photo Credit: R. Abouzeid

Verdict: slim, yet wide enough to cover all the needed area. Perfect.

As I'm almost through needing pads, I went back asking for the same quality of product (pure cotton, no plastic filter or perfume) but smaller in size.

The pharmacist asked his assistant to bring the requested product, and I think there was some sort of misunderstanding because I ended up with exactly the same width and size as Euron© Micro:

Photo Credit: R. Abouzeid

After reading on the box "Odour Dry System" I suspected these were actually not maternity pads. I was not mistaken as it appears I was given a box of Helen Harper Incontinence Pads. A quick jump to Euron© Micro's site would confirm these too are in fact incontinence pads.

The result is the same: wide yet slim and absorbent. What else could one ask for, right?

So my advice is, if you're on your way to the hospital, in labour, put aside your pride and make sure you pack a box of "leaking" pads in your bag. Don't worry, that won't be the last or even the worst pride-robbing gesture you have to make for the sake of your child ;)

Mamma Mia

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Piece of Cake!

Number 2 has arrived! 
And he even has a name now: Jad.

Every child brings along new love and new joys. At our household, they also bring cake along. Indeed, Mia got to celebrate her birthday every month until she turned one, and now it is Jad's turn to give mommy yet another excuse for guiltless indulgences!

The rationale being, a newborn's age is recorded by months, and even by weeks during the first month. Makes sense, right? And that is why we had the utmost pleasure of celebrating Jad's One Week Birthday a few days ago. 

This event got me thinking about Mia's first year celebrations and of course, cake.

And cake always takes me back to Mia's 6-Month Birthday which was the first real-fake festivity. After all, many parents do pay attention to this milestone and deem it to be cake-worthy.

But in our case, since all previous months were also as deserving, I decided to make this one extra special by ordering a customized cake inspired by Mia's favorite toys for her Half-Year.

Photo Credit: R. Abouzeid

Following that yummy success, Hubby's first Father's Day was also granted the same special treatment. The key syllable here being "Treat".

Photo Credit: R. Abouzeid

The impressive chef behind those masterpieces is Erum Khalid, a Dubai-based mumtrepreneur from Pakistan who took her love for baking to the next level. And beyond.

That mother of three who is also a full-time KG1 teacher at Wesgreen International School credits her mom for being the inspiration behind her passion for cooking: "My mother used to be a really good cook, but she didn't really bake. I used to watch her cook sometimes, and this is how I got interested. I actually did a small baking course with my aunt 15 years ago, right before I got married. After I got married I moved to the UAE, but didn't really bake for a long time."

What led you to bake for others? 

It started when I tried to bake some cakes for my husband's birthday and also for his cousins. The cakes were appreciated. Then I started searching for recipes, and I discovered the Internet. After I started working at WIS, I liked to take new cakes I had tried to school for feedback. The cakes and bakes were very much appreciated. It was actually my teaching assistant Mehreen who suggested that I should start this as a business.

Photo Credit: 7th Heaven

Where did you learn to bake? 

I learned to bake from the course I did before I got married. The rest I learnt through the internet, YouTube and TV.

How did you discover fondant and where did you learn that art? 

I found out about fondant from TV I think. I saw how beautiful cakes can become using this medium, how lovely flowers and figures can be made. This was something I had not yet tried. So I tried different recipes from the Internet and made my own fondant. Then I eventually moved to store bought fondant because it's easier and less time consuming to use.

Photo Credit: 7th Heaven

How did this adventure begin?

I started baking on an order basis some time in 2010 when I baked a cake for the husband of one of my friends.

How difficult was it to launch your own business?

Well it wasn't very difficult because I didn't really want to start it off on such a large scale anyway because I am still working full time. I was getting orders from school and was satisfied with it.

How do you currently operate? 

I currently operate from home. I have a page on Facebook called 7th Heaven where people can look at the photos and if they are interested in ordering they can either email me or call me, the information is all given on the page. I am also currently listed in the Expat Echo list of home bakers. I don't do deliveries yet; and payment is either in advance or on pick up, depends on the customer.

Photo Credit: 7th Heaven

Are you planning to establish a full-fledge bakery in the future? 

Yes Insha Allah I am planning one, and would love to have the opportunity to set up my own business as a full time venture.

Do you organize special events to promote your services? 

I sometimes have competitions on the other page that I manage: Bakers United. We have competitions and the prizes are usually cakes and cupcakes from 7th Heaven (laughs). I had a special offer on cakes during Eid also. 

Tell us some more about the workshops you organize. 

I started giving classes and workshops because some of my friends requested that I teach them how to make cakes and decorate them. I have classes at home and have conducted a workshop for Mirdif Kids Club at Al Areesh club recently. Whenever I plan classes I post on both 7th Heaven and Bakers United so that people can be informed. 

Photo Credit: 7th Heaven
Step by step illustrated tutorial to create baby shoes in fondant

So you are very active on Facebook!

I have three pages on Facebook! One is of course 7th Heaven which is for commercial purposes where people can order cakes and cupcakes. The other page is Bakers United, which is a place where we share recipes, tips and tricks. I have photo tutorials and step by step albums to help people learn. The other page is just for fun: The Art Of Photography, where people can add their photos, learn how to take photos and just share.

What does the future hold for Erum Khalid? 

Well hopefully I would like to set up my own bakery/cafe sometime in the future if circumstances allow. I would love to make cakes on a regular and full time basis. Lets see!

Photo Credit: 7th Heaven

In one word, if you were: 

A dessert, which would you be? 
Chocolate mousse

A cake filling? 
Dark chocolate ganache

A color? 

A song or music composition?
'Time to say goodbye' Andrea Bocelli

A film?
Masoom (Indian movie)

A famous character (real or fictional)?
Queen Rania

Mamma Mia+Jad

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grand-Mother's Day - Bonne Fête Mamie

For as long as I can remember, growing up in France, we have religiously celebrated Grand-Mothers' Day in March, every single year. 

Well that is for as long as little humble I could remember. Because apparently, before 1987 this celebration never even existed! 

And to add insult to injury, the whole thing was created and orchestrated by a coffee brand! Granted, they are called "Grand-Ma's Coffee" (Café Grand'Mère) but still, I am a little disappointed. Not to mention, a study shows that this particular celebration had a direct impact on plants and flowers sales. Yikes!

No, no, I am not silly or naive enough to believe all other "holidays" are genuine celebrations of Mothers, Fathers, Love and whatnot. I do know we live in a commercial world. Ruthless. Heartless. And shameless.

But I like the little romanticism I have left in my heart.

Sometimes, I fear it may fade away altogether.

I love the clouds that used to be my world, growing up. I love the fantastic that used to turn the simplest details into extraordinary events. I love magic (not the Harry Potter kind though).

But I don't know when exactly, all this started to slowly dissolve into distant memories, and soon I fear, will become completely extinct.

I keep some faith that Mia and Number 2 might revive them one day. They have that kind of magic, children. I pray I am not too tired or busy or overstrained when that day comes. Because I want to enjoy it. I want to live it. I want to love it once again.

In the meantime, I'll keep on celebrating the Grand-Mothers in my life. Because they are deserving of any honor we can bestow on them. They are deserving of the time we set aside just for them and to  thank them. They are deserving of a little romantic touch. Coffee brands or not. Commercial or not. Whatever or not.

And for those who'd like to join the yearly fake-stivities, Wikipedia kindly gives a calendar of this "holiday" that has been carefully scheduled every first Sunday of March:

Fête des grands-mères

Love to all tétas :)

Mamma Mia

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