A getaway in the beloved mountains of Lebanon… Bouyouti!

Despite its struggles and conflicts and in the face of the tough obscurities Lebanon has been suffering from for centuries, we still find unique places where we can relive Lebanon’s enchanting exquisiteness.

This weekend my husband and I spent a wonderful relaxing time at Bouyouti Beiteddine to celebrate our 12th anniversary. We were welcomed by the rustles of leaves, twittering of birds, and chirping of crickets. It was an excellent getaway – a sanctuary for those who seek peaceful and tranquil moments. We sought calmness and we found it.

the house

Bouyouti is composed of 10 small houses which couples can book over the phone. “Beit el Nahr”, “Beit el Tanour”, “Beit el Ward”, “Beit el Jesser” are some of the names of the houses there.They are scattered around the valley and each one has its own terrace, an ideal space where I enjoyed a tasty breakfast in nature with my love.

breakfast

The whole ambiance took me back into Lebanon’s history.  For instance, we were able to see where “Akhwat Shanay” has solved the problem of providing the area with water, and we did not tire from observing  Moussa’s Castle that majestically stretched its magnificence across us.

Everything is set in neatness and generosity whether it is the complimentary drinks and beverages or the biscuits and salty snacks. There is even a backgammon table in each house to reflect the genuine Lebanese home.

backgammon

As we walked through the levelled gardens, we enjoyed the cool breeze and the fine details as if we were in an old Lebanese village. Geraniums, Lavenders, Hydrangeas, Roses, and other types of striking flowers cover the areas adding beauty to beauty.

lavender pool

Bouyouti does not only provide you with a heavenly ambiance, but the food supplied is simply delicious. My favourite was “La Salade aux Fruits” a mixture of an iceberg lettuce with cranberries, raisins, pecans, apples, cherry tomatoes and honey. The quiches and tarts are also appetizing.

salad

bouyouti food

The mouth-watering “Fondant au Chocolat” is not to be missed, the thickness of the chocolate is simply ravishing.

The area where guests can savour their lunch or dinner is set around a rectangular shaped table where people can mingle and chat together. It creates a warm welcoming mood where everybody gets together.  We had the honor of having Mr. Bazerji, the owner of Bouyouti, with us at that table as he shared with us fruitful stories about the valley taken from our history.

the table

There is also a small playground made of old rustic metal with a huge water fountain in the middle. It simply adds to the whole setting of that missed old village.

Finally, in the midst of olive trees, you can spend the day tanning without suffocating from the heat. The cool breeze gives you the chance of enjoying the sun and the view of the green mountains around you while bronzing.

pool meIf you seek some quietness in a haven of romance and serenity, Bouyouti is your destination.

view house

The Benefits of Water

With the summer heat and the possibility of being easily dehydrated, drinking water becomes a must. Note, however, that water intake should not decrease during the winter season. We all know that water is an essential and vital resource for a human’s survival. It occupies almost 60% of a male body and almost 50% of a female’s. (http://people.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/water/watdiet.html) We hear a lot about the importance of drinking 8 glasses of water a day. However, when I looked deeply into the matter, I learned a few interesting ideas about its importance for grownups and children as well.  No person can survive without drinking water for 3 to 5 days, though he/she can survive without eating for almost a week.

desert water

I will briefly summarize a few significant benefits of having enough water on a daily basis, and suggest some notions on how to encourage your children to get into the good habits of drinking more water.

The Benefits of Water:

Reduces Weight:

Water acts as an appetite suppressant, so it is suggested that you drink water before every meal which helps in an average reduction in intake of 75 calories per meal. In addition, drinking more water helps your body stop water retention which leads to the dropping off of those extra grams of water weight. (www.life.gaiam.com)

Revives the Skin:

Not enough studies confirm the idea that drinking 9.5 cups of water a day gives you a radiant glow like Hollywood stars. Yet, clinically speaking a hydrated skin looks plumper and healthier. Julius Few, M.D., director of The Few Institute and clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of Chicago says, “Moisturizing your skin both internally and externally is a critical combination for healthy, beautiful skin.” In this case it is essential to keep using your creams. (www.womenshealthmag.com)

water female

Helps in Digestion:

The digestive system needs to be well hydrated for a proper digestion. However, drinking water during the meal reduces the amount of acid in the stomach and does not help in digesting properly. It is better to drink either before eating or after a meal in thirty minutes.

water benefits

How to encourage your kids to drink water?

Start Early:

I usually introduce water to my children when they are almost four months old, despite the fact that I breastfeed. The main idea is for them to get used to its taste and come to like it.

Water in attractive cups:

Providing your children with attractive cups might persuade them into drinking more water. Adding a novelty straw, or funny shaped ice cubes will also encourage them into liking water. I came across this creative idea which I found smart and interesting in encouraging children to drink water.

children cup

Set a role model:

If you are parent who drinks fizzy drinks in the mornings, your children will come to find this habit normal and acceptable. Try to set a good example by having at least a cup of water early every morning and plenty during the day. It is best if you can avoid having soft drinks at home and of course never offer your kids a fizzy drink if they are thirsty.

Discuss the benefits of water:

You can plan a project at home where you can initiate a research along with your child. Through fun activities he/she will learn about the advantages of water and the chance of acquiring good habits increases. Discovery through play ensures learning.

water children benefits

Make it available:

Providing your children with an easy and practical access to water gives them the chance of drinking water systematically. With all the water coolers that are provided in our region, children will always have an easy access to drink more water. All you need to do is have the cups ready for them. At home, we also have water bottles distributed in almost every room in the house. By doing so, our kids find it easy to drink more water during the day.

Add a natural flavour:

In case your child finds it difficult to drink water, as a first step offer him/her a naturally flavoured one using fruits like berries or vegetables like lemon. You can also freeze some mint leaves or raspberries in an ice cube and pluck them into their cups. Gradually, try to remove any flavouring so your child gets used to the natural taste of water.

What does your pee say?

Explain to your kids how the color of the urine is an indicator for water intake. Set a challenge for them where they should drink enough water for the urine to become light or almost clear, and I am certain that this challenge will be of great help.

Building good habits start early in life. The wider the awareness we provide our children with, the better their lifestyle becomes.

Grandma’s Apricot Jam

When it comes to having sweets, children of this generation have a vast variety of chocolate bars, candies, jelly beans, and many other unhealthy options. Being a mom who follows up with the amounts of sugars my children get, I always try to offer them some traditional homemade sweets where they can learn about how the older generations used to prepare their own at home.

My grandma’s apricot jam was a great success and the boys even ask to have them as sandwiches which they sometimes take to school. I was delighted to learn that they enjoyed it especially because neither coloring or preservatives are used.

This kind of jam is done in June, where a specific type of apricots are chosen to be cooked in big pots and stored to be used later in winter times.

apricots

Ingredients:

For every 1 kg of diced apricots you will need a 1/2 kg of sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Clean and dry jars with lids

Melted candle for sealing

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a big pot.

Do not stir as shown below.

sugar and apricots

Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.

cooking apricots

Over medium heat, bring to boil for around 20 minutes.

Stir occasionally until all bubbles disappear.

Continue to stir without stopping for around 10 minutes or until you get the consistency needed.

Remove from heat and fill in the jars.

jam

Melt candles in a pan.

candle

Using a tablespoon cover the top of the cooled jam with the melted candle.

cieling the jars

Once the melted candle cools and hardens again, close the jars firmly and store them for later usage.

Note: 1 kg of apricots makes approximately one jar or more, depending on the jams’ consistency.

jars

 I am sure that you will enjoy ending your meal with such a tasty dessert. Enjoy.

Summer Fun Times

My dear readers, good morning from Lebanon. The summer vacation has officially started and having our kids occupied during the school break is fundamental. Numerous studies have shown that if children spend their summer not training their brain in any way, significant academic regression will be noted when schools start again in September. This is quite expected especially if the kids are left to be entertained through TV programs, simplistic smart phone games or other practices that don’t enhance their cognitive abilities.

Since we will be staying for a month in Lebanon, we usually spend the summers in the mountains. There, our children get the chance to explore nature with its beauty and exquisiteness. It is a healthy exposure which gives them the opportunity to learn about wilderness and its perfect functions. I thought of sharing with you some of the activities we usually do during our summer breaks, and I will also include other ideas that can be done during our stay in Lebanon.

Morning Academic Work:

Every morning, we make it point to have an hour of school work. We usually do some reading in both French and English and review some math concepts. This year we will try to focus more on the Arabic, as unfortunately and it annoys me to admit that the level given at their school is way too low compared to the level of Arabic provided in Lebanese schools. It is essential that we try to make our children preserve at least our language.

Educational Activities:

My boys dwell into a world of constructing and engineering as they happily indulge themselves in The Little Engineer’s program. We are lucky to have such a system where children discover their interests in engineering. (picture taken form LTE facebook page)

LTE

Sports Activities:

I usually register them along with their cousins in a football team, so they enjoy their time together while they release their energy and learn how to cooperate in a social sport.

In addition, we usually take them once per week to the pool where they can enjoy some splashing and fun times together.

Travel:

Planning a family trip to visit a new country widens a child’s horizon and makes him/her learn through exploration about different cultures along with their food, lifestyle, habits, etcetera. In August, we will be going to Sicily and I will be telling you all about it later on, so stay tuned!

travel

In case planning a family trip is difficult for whatever reasons, you can always play the role of a tourist in your own country. Lebanon is characterized by its unique mix of different cultures that have settled long times ago and left their marks as time passed by. Visiting museums, Roman Ruins, fortresses, the great Cedars, grottos, castles, etcetera can be all done as a family activity.

Summer Camp:

Many families register their children in summer camps, where children get the chance of meeting new friends and learn new things due to the multi activities provided. I personally prefer to have our activities with the family where my, children can benefit from the presence of their grandparents and enjoy them.

karm jumping

Free Play:

Every afternoon we take our children to a private mini farm where I have them explore nature and play with the animals, while I enjoy my time cherishing those peaceful and happy moments away from the busy and noisy city life.This exposure to nature is something we terribly miss during the school year, so we are lucky to have such a special opportunity.

shadows   raking
Music:

I strongly believe in the importance of having my children learn to play a musical instrument. This summer I have talked them into trying to continue with their music lessons during the summer break. Luckily, I have a talented cousin who is ready to spend a half an hour with each one of them once a week. We will see if things will go as planned.

Here is a list of some interesting activities which we have tried and others which we are planning to do if we have enough time. We always try to find outdoor activities:

For an educational trip visit the The Silk Museum – Bsous (www.thesilkmuseum.com) and Gibran Museum – Bshari

For a Sunday lunch with family and friends ; Arnaoun Village – Batroun (www.arnaoonvillage.com)

Explore and learn about wild life at The Animal Encounter – Aley (www.animalencounter.org)

For a family get away ; La Maison de La Foret – Bkassine (www.lamaisondelaforet.net)

Explore a farmer’s life at Les Parcours de Saveur – Kfarshima (www.parcoursdessaveurs.com)

The Hidden Valley – Bzebdine (www.facebook.com/pages/Bzebdine-Hidden-Valley/111106495718398)

Jeita Grotto (www.jeitagrotto.com)

There are many more ideas that can be found on the website www.beirut.com  and that might be of your interest.

I would really appreciate it if you can provide us with your feedback in case you have been to one of those suggested places.

Have a great summer vacation everyone.