Category Archives: Lifestyle

Father’s Day was a labor of love

The best gifts , I believe that anyone can give to me is the gift of time and a labor of their love. These to me, are more valuable than anything material. And so for this year’s Father’s Day celebration, I planned the weekend to cook my husband’s favorite meals.

A pre-father’s day dinner

Our Father’s Day celebration began on Saturday when I cooked Chinese stir fry rice with stir-fry shrimps and beef sauce. My husband loves Chinese cuisine so I took out time to visit the fresh market to buy fresh ingredients which I used in cooking the pre-father’s day dinner.

Father’s Day brunch and dinner

Father’s Day fell into a Sunday so as characteristic of my household, we had brunch at about noon after Sunday Mass. We love Sunday brunch because that’s the only day of the week when the entire family is complete at the dinner table. And for Father’s Day brunch, I made akara (bean cake) and pap ( corn porridge).

Akara (bean cakes and pap (corn porridge)

Akara can be laborious to make but since we are a family of bean cake lovers, it comes quite natural to me. Here’s an easy recipe for making delicious akara.

Homemade akara recipe

To make akara (bean cakes) for my family of five, I use the following ingredients:

Brown honey beans – 2 cups

Onion – quarter slice

Ginger – 1 teaspoon

Eggs – 2

Salt – a few pinches to taste

Vegetable oil (soybean oil, sunflower oil or any of your choice) to fry the bean cakes – 350ml

Steps:

1. Clean the honey beans and wash it clean without removing the peels. I never remove the peels because the peels are fiber rich and nutritious.

2. Soak the beans in a bowl of water and place in a refrigerator over night.

3. By next morning, blend the now swollen beans in portions to allow for a smooth blend. Add the onion and ginger to the beans in the kitchen blender and blend at intervals until a smooth paste is achieved. You do not need a special blender because the beans which has been soaked over night is usually soft and easy to blend.

4. Pour the smoothly blended honey beans into a bowl and add the eggs. Mix with a large spoon and then add salt to taste. Mix again until all ingredients are well combined.

5. Pour the vegetable oil into a pan. I use soybean oil but you can use any vegetable oil of your choice. Heat it up and throw in some onions to add flavor to the bean cake. Once the oil starts to sizzle, you can add the bean cake paste in droppings into the hot oil. Fry until both sides are golden and then take off heat.

For dinner, I made my husband’s favorite soup – Banga. Banga soup is indigenous to people from the Niger Delta of Nigeria and because he is from the Urhobo tribe, I have had to learn to cook this soup for him. Traditionally, banga which is palm oil fruit soup, is extracted from palm kernels and can be quite laborious to do. In recent times, there has been a number of canned banga ( palm oil paste) however, these canned alternatives are nothing in comparison to native palm kernel paste extracted from native palm trees which are healthier as the oils contain far less cholesterol. The taste and texture is also very different as the canned alternative does not taste as authentic as native grown palm kernels.

A dear friend of mine who processes native palm kernel fruit paste sells authentic banga juice which saves you time and allows you to cook authentic banga soup with ease. She also sells authentic banga spices. You can find her on Instagram at this Plug

Banga and eba

And as part of our celebration, the kids wished their father well. It’s their own little way of showing their appreciation for all that he does for them. In the end, we had a memorable weekend and my labour of love paid off.

How did you spend Father’s Day? Did you buy a gift or did you make something special. Please do share in the comment section.

Cheers!

Happy Father’s Day

Our fathers, our heroes! Dependable, reliable, strong, witty and fun; these are some of the ways we describe fathers and why on a day like this, we celebrate them.

And to mothers playing the role of fathers in their children’s lives, we celebrate you as well.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cheers!

Happy Father’s Day!

I join the world to celebrate dads because I have an amazing dad and an amazing husband. When we have dads who are ever present in the lives of our kids and likewise in our lives, we are always happy and grateful for them.

Growing up, my dad was and still remains a buddy of mine. I was raised by open-minded parents who showered me with so much love. I remember that when I was an anti-social teenager at the university, my dad and my mum would turn up at the hostel and take me out to dine and have fun till late into the night because they wanted me to experience the fun and beauty of night life and not to be inhibited.

The best gift a father can ever give to a child, especially a daughter, is his presence in her life because it allows us to choose the right men to love and not to look for love in all the wrong places.

And so today, just like every other day, I toast to my dad and all the awesome dads around the world.

Cheers!

Enne

Music inspiration: Flavour & Phyno Chop life

“It’s a beautiful day to remember we are not here forever… celebrate me now that I am living not when I die you go throw party, this life is for the living …. chop life, celebrate life… “

I work so hard and seldom have the time to rest or even celebrate myself. I am also constantly second-guessing myself even though am right on track. This song resonates with me fir these reasons.

If you think you are not good enough, then it’s time to stop and celebrate yourself. Celebrate your mistakes because you learnt from them and celebrate your achievements because they take you closer to your dreams.

Cheers 🥂

My hysterectomy experience

Hi guys! It’s been such a long time since I blogged; life has been hectic and I have had some health issues but I am so glad to be back!

So, I had hysterectomy done three months ago right here in Lagos, Nigeria. This was a procedure I wanted to do five years ago but doubt and fear held me back while I struggled with excessive blood loss and its attendant anemia caused by uterine fibroids. I have had fibroids for as long as I could remember – in fact, I found out that I had fibroids in my early twenties even before I got married. At that time, my doctor had told me that the fibroids would not interfere with my ability to have children so his advise then was that I hurried to have kids and then deal with the fibroids later. So I agreed. Just as expected, I was able to have kids – I now have three children and each time I got pregnant, the fibroids expanded in size. It was tough managing my pregnancies and I ended up having three caesarean sessions. After my third baby, I had my tubes tied so I would not get pregnant and that way I could focus on managing the heavy bleeding that I experienced during my periods. This heavy bleeding left me anemic my entire adult life. And when you are anemic, it means that you are dizzy or drowsy most of the time, your blood level is so low that it starts to affect your concentration so much that I started struggling to remember names or things that I had read. I was struggling to remember basic things! Because I was performing at very low capacity, it affected my productivity and everything else around me so I had to see my doctor last year.

Now, I will be candid – I do love my doctor! He is a very meticulous and cautious doctor so even though he gave me the option of hysterectomy, which is the removal of my uterus, tubes and cervix, he also wanted me to try other evasive procedures to see if we could control the excessive bleeding. So I had a hysteroscopy and mirena inserted to hopefully control the excessive bleeding. Unfortunately for me, a few months into having the mirena inserted, it fell out of me in the toilet. I must also say that the mirena did not help me at all as my bleeding became even more excessive. So with the mirena gone, I had to face the decision to go through a hysterectomy because my blood count had become so low even though I had been on hemoglobin (iron) supplements for years. With my dwindling health, I was losing my ability to concentrate and a few months into the covid 19 lockdown, I started having irregular heartbeats and suffering from palpitations so I had to see a cardiologist who advised that I went ahead with the hysteroscopy. After weeks on some medications to stabilize my heart beat, I was cleared for surgery.

My surgery started as a laparoscopic hysterectomy because my doctor wanted a procedure that would encourage quick recovery but he also informed me that he would do an open surgery if I started to bleed, which was exactly what happened. I had the hysterectomy three months ago and my recovery was quite speedy. I was back on my feet in no time. The beauty of hysterectomy is that one stops bleeding two days after surgery so you get that instant relief. However, it took my body nearly three months to normalize. To start with, I had a serious case of vaginal dryness that even when I was cleared for intercourse, I couldn’t do it because of the vaginal dryness. It was a very painful experience. I also lost my desire for sex for the first two and a half months after surgery. I was told that loss of libido was not associated with hysterectomy but that when that happens, one could seek sex therapy even though the majority of women had no issues at all with sex after the surgery. My ovaries were not removed during the surgery so I was not becoming menopausal, which meant that I needed to give my body some time, which I did. Gradually, the vaginal dryness disappeared and I no longer experienced loss of libido.

Life after hysterectomy has been great now that I am fully recovered. My sex life is now back to normal and so is my health. I am no longer on hemoglobin (iron) supplements because I was able to build my blood count by eating iron-rich foods and meticulously taking my iron supplements after surgery. I am now also active – I can now go on long walks and do simple exercises and trying to stay fit without being excessive. The beauty of it all is that I no longer have to spend a dime on sanitary pads or tampons! I feel so relieved to not have to worry about monthly periods and its accompanying heavy bleeding that always kept me absent from work and activities nor do I have to deal with the pains.

I know many women can be doubtful or fearful of hysterectomy but I will encourage you to do it if your life depends on it. My life depended on it because I had lost so much blood and with my heart now involved, I could not take my life for granted. If you need to go for a second or a third opinion, please do; if you need to change your doctor to someone more experienced in the field, do so. Clear all your doubts and do the procedure because you need to stay alive to take care of your kids.

Have you had a hysterectomy or any other procedure done? Do you need information on my hospital if you are in Nigeria and need a reference? Do you have fears? Please do share!

cheers!

Ene

TIME MANAGEMENT KEY TO E-LEARNING FOR KIDS

Long before the corona virus outbreak, e-learning had always been available but for lots of parents in Africa, where I live, we had relied heavily on traditional schools and partly paid attention to e-learning opportunities for our kids. Personally, I had simply downloaded a few educational apps for my kids and that was that! But with the corona virus pandemic leading to global lock-down, schools were shut down and e-learning began. In Nigeria, our case is quite unique because we have a high proliferation of private schools offering various curriculum while the government simply plays the role of monitoring. What this means for us is that education in Nigeria is not balanced and very expensive. There is a high disparity between private owned schools and public schools as public schools in Nigeria are under-funded and poorly equipped, adding to the disparity in quality of education being offered. So comes the corona virus outbreak and while private owned schools are launching e-learning and taking advantage of Zoom classes and Google Classroom, amongst others, public schools were cut off from e-learning. To fill the gap, the government started tutorials on television and radio stations across the nation. So when I talk about e-learning in this post, I am referring to pupils in urban Nigeria.

So while parents are trying to make head of the corona virus pandemic, they also have to grapple with e-learning for their kids, which is tough by-the-way, coming from a country where we do not home-school our kids. To cope with the challenges to having our kids ready and eager to learn online, we had to provide computer devices for them and have internet access, which is not cheap down here and after that, we have to work really hard to get the kids involved and be interested in learning online. But the key to e-learning for kids is time management.

Time management is so essential to e-learning because you could spend an entire day lost in the fluster of home-schooling that your kids can miss out on actual learning so you have to be strategic, purposeful and deliberate with your time. Here are some tips on how to manage your time effectively for your benefit and that of your kids:

  1. PREPARE AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR E-LEARNING: Start by providing comfortable work stations for your kids. Don’t encourage learning on the bed or learning done haphazardly; rather have a designated spot for e-learning that can accommodate a laptop or tablet, books and with room for the child to write.
  2. STRICT ADHERENCE TO BED TIME AND WAKE UP: Kids need a minimum of eight hours of sleep so if they can go to bed on time, they will get ample rest and wake up energized the following morning. In my household, bed time is 8 pm and you could decide to extend it by an hour but do not go beyond 9 pm while waking up time should be 8 am this way they get more than twelve hours of sleep. Try this and you will find your child energized and ready to go! As for you the parent, please be in bed by 10 pm latest because you also require a good rest to avoid being grumpy and messy in the morning. Remember, you are now the teacher and your mood whether good or sour will affect your child’s performance.
  3. NO VIDEO GAMES, NO TELEVISION: It may seem a bit harsh but kids get distracted easily and you need their concentration during e-learning so in my household, I do not allow video games on week days as the kids go on a break from e-learning on weekends. I also do not allow television until in the afternoon after learning is over.
  4. STRUCTURE TIME AND CONTENT OF LEARNING: Creating a structure makes your time management even more feasible so start by fixing the commencement time and the termination time for e-learning. Because kids are most productive in the morning, my kids start learning at 9 am and end at 1 pm. I have structured their learning to be short and simple so that it is not too cumbersome or tiring so they do not lose interest in learning. For Nigerian schools, I am currently using www.schoolgate.ng for the kids’ academic tutorial so this is usually where my kids start their day from. They begin by learning one topic each in all 6 subjects offered on the website and then we move on to the more fun websites – https://www.e-learningforkids.org/, https://www.coolmath.com/ , https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html , https://www.funbrain.com/ To make learning easy, bookmark these pages for easy reference and visit. So, in my structuring, I put into consideration core academic subjects and other fun activities like reading and fun educational games and videos so that by the time the class is winding down by 1 pm, my kids are ending their sessions with a fun game or video or some fun activity that they can do from home.
  5. DON’T FORGET SNACK BREAKS! AND BREAKFAST IS IMPORTANT: Please make sure the kids get to eat breakfast before they commence learning because they can be cranky on empty stomach. And for much younger kids, give room for a ten to twenty minutes snack break so they can pop some juice or simply jump around while listening to educational songs.
  6. And lastly, keep learning fun and interesting by blending fun learning with core academics.

This is how I have been able to cope with e-learning. I hope this helps.

How are you coping with e-learning? Are there any tips you could share with us? Please do leave a comment.

Cheers!

Enne

Covid 19: Discrimination in the midst of a pandemic

The world is devastated as we fear our global economy on the track to a meltdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. A virus, which started in China has practically gone round the world, claiming lives and casualty – that’s what globalization does. While scientists struggle to find a cure while scrambling to save lives, the rest of us are agitated, praying and hoping that we will conquer this horror. So you can imagine how shocked I have been when discrimination in the form of racism and racial attacks made its ugly head into this pandemic.

I believe the earliest came from Donald Trump when he tagged it the “Chinese Virus” and got the whole world riled up. I don’t think that when lives are being lost in such great numbers, it should matter where a virus originates- rather, concerted effort should be put in place to battle the virus. Perhaps after lives have been saved, one can go back in retrospect to see what went wrong and how such a pandemic can be prevented from re-occurring. But to blatantly call it a “Chinese virus” is racist. And I thought it would end there until people began attacking the Chinese online.

I believe that the rest of the world have reasons to be upset with China simply for the fact that the government did not come forth with the realities on time. That being said, the average Chinese isn’t his or her government! Should the rest of the world attack the Americans for having a racist president? I mean, common! African leaders are the worst leaders on the planet but does that make me who is Nigerian, greedy, corrupt and incompetent? Of course not! While you can direct your anger to the Chinese government, you should not be attacking the Chinese people because guess what? They are suffering just like us! And please let’s remember the many Chinese descents who are serving as doctors and nurses in so many countries across the world and helping to fight Coronavirus. So since some people are saying Chinese nationals should be sent back to their countries, should we also send the brilliant Chinese doctors and nurses who are risking their lives to save your own nationals back to China?

Just when I thought we had been dished enough discrimination in the midst of this crisis, news filtered in again about how French scientists were suggesting using Africans as guinea pigs for Coronavirus vaccine and I was livid again! What is wrong with people? Do you not see people beyond race? I mean, as humans, we all have the same physical structures, right? We all have our challenges, our dreams just as any human being. Our skin colors just like our unique cultures and religions are some of the things that makes diversity intriguing. But if you think Africans are nothing but guinea pigs, well, then you are a lost cause and cannot be redeemed.

My latest anger is directed to Guangzhou, China where Africans are being evicted from their homes and being thrown on the streets because the local authority believes that Africans brought Coronavirus to China. Not only are Africans being rendered homeless as landlords and hotels are refusing to accommodate them, some of them are being forcefully tested for Coronavirus even though they have no recent travel history. All I can say is this: how hard can it be to treat a fellow human being with respect?

That’s the question I will use to end this post. It’s a good for thought for everyone of us. HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO TREAT A FELLOW HUMAN BEING WITH RESPECT?

Covid 19: How cooking is helping me to cope

After being stuck in the house for just a week, I thought I was going to go crazy. The thing about me is, I hate being stuck in one place and I hate mood swings and worse of all, I hate my will power being taken away from me. So I manned up and decided to change my situation. I made the decision to learn something new every day and get my hands and mind busy – cooking was one of the things that I indulged in during this lockdown.

As I found, “Learning changes the physical structure of the brain. These structural changes alter the functional organization of the brain; in other words, learning organizes and reorganizes the brain.” Pls read more here 👉🏽 Here As we learn, nature kind of creates both “hardware” and “software” simultaneously (Read more) and in so doing, the more we learn, the easier it becomes to learn new tasks. If we are not learning at all, we find our brain in some kind of redundancy which makes the task of learning even harder. So for me, learning new things and acquiring new skills is very important because it stimulates the desire in me to learn more. And when I learn more, my confidence grows and then I feel better about myself. That is what cooking has done for me during this covid 19 lockdown.

I do enjoy cooking but I got bored eating the same regular foods every time and thought that by creating new dishes, it would create excitement and bring fun to meal times, which it did because my kids would go, “mum, what are we eating today?”

So, my routine was to learn new dishes and also to find ways that I could be creative with regular dishes that we already eat. So that gets me off my feet to start planning, which I do a day ahead. By doing this, it keeps me excited and expectant about the new day ahead of me. It also makes cooking interesting because the kids and I are learning new things plus it presents a teachable moment for my kids because then I can take advantage of the opportunity to teach them about the culture from which the recipe originated from. When conversations flow, automatically, we are having a good time. Also, by tweaking some of the recipes, I am able to test my creativity and improve on my skill as a cook.

Here are some of the meals that I have cooked:

Chicken curry

This is my version of chicken curry with basmati rice and steamed carrots, which I was just making for the very first time. My family does not like curry but I wanted them to be a little adventurous so I altered the recipe a bit. I used pure coconut oil which I used in stir-frying the chicken and curry to give off the coconut vibe. My family hates coconut milk or anything cream in foods so I had to mix the chicken broth with a little corn starch as thickener which I poured into the curry. And it was a success because everyone enjoyed their meals.

I grill quite a lot now so we had grilled potato jackets with grilled ribs served with carrot purée sauce and mixed vegetables. This was another winner.

Why am I sharing this post? Because I want to encourage everyone who is on isolation or quarantine not to give up – rather, learn a new skill; pick up a new healthy hobby and you will be amazed at what it does to your mind!

Cheers!

Enne

Covid 19 isolation & healthy eating

Hi guys,

The most part of the world is in isolation in compliance with social distancing, Nigeria inclusive. We’ve been at home for two weeks now and it hasn’t been easy.

I realized that when you sit in one place, doing very little, you tend to overeat and I did fall victim in the first week until my body started complaining. Do you know that our bodies complain and give us signs when we are doing too much and over stepping our bounds? The trouble is we don’t listen! But I have chosen to listen so I am back to eating healthy once more!

When you are indoors for the most part, your mind can mess with you which is why you need to eat a well balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals that protect our bodies. We are being urged to eat immune boosting foods and we know that junk food will do the exact opposite so indulge rather in fruits, vegetables and fibers – your gut will thank you and so will your body and mind!

You don’t have to do a complete 360 on your diet – I am simply modifying everyday foods and making them healthier, that’s all – nothing too drastic. Here are a few modifications I have adopted:

I made a vegetable salad of carrots, Cabbage, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers with mint and coriander drizzle served with pita bread.

To not discourage the kids, I made the same salad with grilled sausages and a little cream which I toasted on my George Foreman grill. The outcome below:

I made coleslaw of carrot and cabbage with baked beans, some fresh tomatoes, lettuce and grilled bacon. So we still get to enjoy bacon but with salad.

This is grilled plantain with grilled Crocker fish served with stir-fry green peppers and onions in tomato sauce.

This is a very humble meal of steamed brown beans and sweet potatoes pottage made with fresh tomatoes. I replaced palm oil which traditionally is used in Nigeria with fresh tomatoes stir-fried in soybean oil. Served with a sprinkle of coriander.

My kids don’t like noodles so we don’t eat noddles that much but any time I make it, I discard the seasonings that accompanied it and steam it in hot water before stir-frying the noodles. The vegetables were grilled as well as the steak and served with a drizzle of mint and coriander sauce.

Grilled plantain once more with grilled chicken with tomato sauce.

So, I no longer deep-fry foods but grill all the time now. There is now more servings of vegetables accompanying regular foods that we eat. Am just making little changes at a time to keep the family healthy while we are on lockdown.

Did you know that junk foods can cause fatigue? Eating healthy will keep your energy levels up, your brain will be stimulated and you will be healthy and strong.

Please share with me some of the ways you are staying healthy in isolation.

Cheers!