An Intimate Surprise 10th Anniversary Party

It's been ages since I posted on this blog. With motherhood, INKMADE, and my photography work, it's difficult to find time to write and photograph just for fun! So much has happened since the last time I posted Alhamdulilah. Amira turned one. We moved into our first home together. And we just hosted a surprise 10th anniversary party for my sister and brother-in-law! 

My sister and brother-in-law got married young, had a simple wedding, have three beautiful children, and work day and night as a pharmacist and podiatrist. They go out of their way to make sure their kids are happy, as well as the rest of their family and friends. Even after my sister comes home after a long day, she offers to watch Amira, help out with INKMADE, and just lend a hand whenever I have a lot to get done. My brother-in-law also has a crazy work schedule, but he still takes time to help us move, hang out after a long day, and just be there whenever we need him. They are both my role models for having such a balanced, loving marriage. That's why I had to work with our friends and family to throw an amazing surprise anniversary party for them! 

We decided to host it at our house, which motivated us to unpack and get our place tidy quickly. (It's been taking forever with a toddler running around!) I told them that we were hosting a housewarming party, so they had no idea it was going to be their anniversary party! I started by creating a Pinterest board to find inspiration for the table setting. My sister, mom, and I share decor for parties that we have collected over time after hosting so many bridal showers, baby showers, and other events. I reused some of those pieces for the decor for this party and bought a few more to complete the look. Our friends and family helped out with the food and I baked the cake. There's no way this party would have been a success without our amazing friends and family. I feel so grateful to have such wonderful people who took so much time out to make sure this party was a success! Check out a glimpse of the party below:

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May Allah (swt) bless these two with nothing but love, happiness, and success always. Ameen! 


Table Decor Details:

Introducing Solid Food to My Baby

The recommended age to feed a baby solids is between 4-6 months. When Amira was 4 months old, she was still exclusively breastfed and didn’t eat any solids. Whenever people asked me if she did, I wondered if I was being too safe by waiting until she turned 6 months. I had tried bringing food close to her mouth and she just looked at me with confusion. She didn't seem excited, didn't open her mouth, and didn't give me any cues to let me know she wanted to eat solids. I was so eager for her to start enjoying food, but I knew I had to be patient.

Solid Food Baby Led Weaning

Finally, when she was 6 months old, I tried to feed her purees. She didn't enjoy them, but gave them a try. She was more interested than she was when she was 4 months old, which was progress. But she sometimes pushed out the food and looked at me with this adorable face that said: "Hey mom, this isn't breastmilk. Stop feeding me this weird orange vegetable!" I tried carrots, avocado, and other vegetables as her first few foods. I started getting a little worried that Amira was falling behind. She should have been eating solids happily as a 6 month old, but she was barely opening her mouth and didn’t seem to enjoy it at all. What was I doing wrong?

I researched a bit and came across the practice of baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is the process of giving the baby solid finger foods to feed herself instead of feeding her purees with a spoon. Until this point, I had tried feeding Amira with a spoon. One day, I decided to mash up some blueberries in between my fingers and feed them to her. She first made a face and then opened her mouth for more. I was beyond excited to see her asking for more. She devoured the blueberries and the next day, I sat her in the high chair and handed her a banana. I peeled it in such a way that allowed her to have a good grip on it so she could hold it easily while she ate it. She mashed it up, made a mess, and some of it eventually ended up in her mouth. I could tell she loved it. I let out a sigh of relief and suddenly felt so much better, knowing that Amira was finally enjoying solid food.

Solid Food Baby Led Weaning

Tip:

Cut fruits and veggies with the peel, so your baby can use it to grip the pieces. make sure the peel is not soft enough to be bitten, as it can be a choking hazard.

I noticed that Amira preferred fruits as a first food than vegetables. Many sources say vegetables should be fed first, so the baby doesn't prefer sweets over vegetables. My doctor said either option is perfectly fine for a first food. After she enjoyed blueberries and bananas, I decided to hand her an avocado. She absolutely loved the flavor and enjoyed the texture as well. I then moved on to trying a variety of vegetables from squash to sweet potato, regular potato, peas, carrots, and more. I let her feed herself and eventually tried feeding her with a spoon and she ate happily.

Had I not tried baby-led weaning, I would have continued stressing out about getting her to eat solids. She now enjoys a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, and meat. There are days when she prefers holding the food herself and "feeding" herself (which basically means mashing it up and licking her hands sometimes, but hey, it gets in there!) and there are days when she's completely satisfied with being spoon-fed. Sometimes, you just have to try a variety of methods to see which one works for your little one.

Whenever your baby refuses something, try a different approach. I expected myself to puree all her food, freeze them into ice cube trays, and then move onto to thicker textures later on, but Amira had something else in mind. Babies have their own preferences, so follow their cue and go with the flow! I thought I’d share my experience, because I first came across baby-led weaning on other blogs and it was helpful to read about other moms’ experiences as I was going through a similar situation.

Please note: I am not a doctor. If you feel your baby is having issues while eating solids, consult his/her pediatrician for guidance. The information I share is based on my own experiences and may not be the way to go for your baby, as every baby is unique.


How to Make Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils)

I'm not a phenomenal cook. I honestly never really cooked much until I got married. I would bake cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin bread, and a variety of other desserts, but rarely tried cooking anything other than pastas and small appetizers. Even once we were married, I was in school or at work most of the time, so I would just throw something simple together and we'd be fine. Now that I have more time at home, I've been trying my hand at new recipes and just generally getting comfortable with experimenting in the kitchen. While doing so, I started using tools that allow me to cook more efficiently.

 Mixed daal with basmati rice

Instant Pots are the new craze these days. I never understood the hype until my sister gifted me one and it made cooking so much easier. My sister started cooking Pakistani food in her Instant Pot, so I decided to give it a try. The result was amazing! I can be pretty impatient when cooking, so when the daal (lentils) and nihari were done in less than half the time it takes in a regular pot, I was sold. The Instant Pot is so easy to use and it's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker all in one. It saves time and also space. As someone who lives in a small apartment, I enjoy owning the least amount of pots and pans possible.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe
Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe

Most of my recipes for Pakistani food come from my mom. I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite quick recipes here on the blog to help any other busy moms make delicious Pakistani food in a short amount of time. Please note that I’m not a pro at cooking at all and there are many ways to make the food I'll be sharing. I usually opt for the simpler and quicker methods, so if you like adding more ingredients, feel free to change it up. I’m still learning and have my mom on FaceTime when I cook sometimes (God bless her for being so patient with me), but I hope this helps you get started with cooking delicious food with an Instant Pot if you're a beginner like me!

Scroll down for the mixed daal recipe.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe
 

Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils) Recipe


Ingredients
1 cup mixed daal
¼ onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (whole)
½ teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)
1 teaspoon laal mirch (cayenne powder)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tomato (chopped)
1 green chili (chopped)

For the Bagaar (Tempering):
⅓ cup oil
¼ small onion cut in slices
¼ teaspoon zeera (cumin)

Directions
Rinse 1 cup of mixed daal. Let it soak in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Put the daal, onion, garlic, haldi (turmeric powder), laal mirch (cayenne powder), salt, tomato, and green chili in the Instant Pot along with 3 cups of water. Cover the Instant Pot. Press the Pressure Cook setting and set it to 6 minutes. Make sure to set the vent to the sealed position. Once the daal is done cooking, let it sit to naturally release the pressure or turn the vent to the release position to release the pressure immediately. Stir the daal. If you like your daal to be more soupy and softer, add a bit more water and cook for 3 more minutes. If you are fine with the texture, let the daal sit as is.

For the bagaar (tempering), heat up a small fry pan on the stove. Add ⅓ cup oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion slices, zeera (cumin), and kari patha. Once the onions have a golden color, pour the bagaar in the daal. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.

Stir and serve with basmati rice.