The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA


What’s On The Menu? – Steak and Chicken Fajitas

Delaney, is a huge fan of Taco Tuesday! It never fails that at some point in the week she’ll ask, “Dada what day is it?” Then depending on my answer, she’ll know how long she must wait until she can receive her terrific Tuesday meal.

But we’ve been engaging in Taco Tuesday consistently for so long that honestly the whole affair has lately, become a bit stale.  The girls have slowly become less enthusiastic about their dining experience each time I serve the typical hard taco, soft taco, and taco salad compliment.

Alas, the thrill was gone!

My brother Khalid and I, which two of his and two of mine.

My brother Khalid and I, with two of his and two of mine.

I recently confessed this fact to my brother Khalid, who also has the honor of being a stay-at-home dad (two in one family…go figure).  I told him that I was considering abandoning, or at least suspending our Tuesday tradition for awhile.

In his wisdom, being quite creative and handy in the kitchen, he suggested that instead of canceling our weekly custom, we should mix it up a bit.  He reminded me that if I were to venture into a Mexican restaurant, there would be more on the menu than just tacos.

Duh, why didn’t I think of that?


So here is a recipe I found for Steak Fajitas at Simply  I suggest that you click the link to read the recipe verbatim, but basically it calls for:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Steak
  • Onion
  • Bell Peppers
  • Salt

There is also a tasty marinate which calls for:

  • Lime Juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Jalapeno Peppers (which I didn’t include)

The prep time was the longest part, but the meal was whipped up in a matter of minutes.

The Chicken is something I cooked as an alternative to the steak.  Just regular frozen chicken breast baked at 425 for 40 minutes.  Then I sliced it up into strips.

I was very pleased with the way dinner turned out and it was certainly a wonderful way of spicing up our Tuesday!

Thanks Khalid!



The results are in, and here’s what the fans had to say about their meal:

Rachael, “So good, I wanna slap your mama!”

Marley, “Kind of tasty.”

Delaney, “Good, pretty good.”

Journey, “I don’t like Fajitas.”


1 Comment

What’s On The Menu – Classic Chicken and Rice

I was watching Oprah’s inspirational weekly program, Super Soul Sunday, as I do most Sunday mornings, and author Michael Pollen happened to be on discussing the art of mindful eating!

Michael artfully discussed, “what is means to eat with a fuller consciousness and how having a heighten awareness of the food thats going into our bodies can improve our physical and spiritual well-being.”

His talk was so inspiring to me, that right then and there I made the conscious decision to begin to make no fewer than three home cooked meals per week from now on!

I feel like I owe it to my family to do my part to prepare healthy, tasty, but easy to make dishes.  For me, this harkens back to a simpler time when dinner was not just a source of sustance, but a wonderful social event!

Now that I’ve made this promise, this transformative declaration – next comes the hard part!

The follow thru!!!

I am not a chef by any means, so what can I whip-up for dinner that my wife and three little ones will actually eat?

My search for recipes and inspiration had begun.

chicken and rice

So on the Monday afternoon following the show, I stumbled upon an old fashion recipe similar to the way my grandfather used to make it.

Chicken and Rice! (follow the exact directions from the link above)

  • 4 quarts of water
  • One whole chicken
  • 3-4 celery stalks
  • 1 sweet onion
  • salt & pepper
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • rice

The results are in, what did the family think of there meal?

Rachael: “Very good.  Needs more salt though.”

Marley:   “Sort of good.”

Delaney: “Umm, good, but if I have to eat this tomorrow…I know I won’t be hungry!”

Journey: “I don’t like Chicken and Rice.”


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Just Eat!


Ah yes, the dog days of summer are here, and the girls have settled into an at-home routine which includes:  playing with dolls in their dollhouse, riding their bikes (Marley and Delaney learned how this summer), reading their books, and like three little whirlwinds,  romping around the house completely trashing the place!

But one thing they seem to do the most is EAT!

Well everyone that is, except Journey!

Don’t get me wrong, she’ll eat certain things, just not the things I’d typically like her to! When I attempt to serve her up a nice home cooked meal, she prefers to eat a plain old slice of bread.

It gets rather monotonous trudging back and forth to the kitchen making meals and fetching snacks multiple times a day for three growing girls, so it helps to be able to treat the process as if I’m working an assembly line.  Line them all up, and give them each the same thing, as opposed to serving things up a la carte.  And I am not about to serve more than one meal at dinnertime. But Journey makes the task virtually impossible because she’s so darn picky (yet she always claims to be hungry).


She’ll eat things like cheese, and bread separately, but if I try to combine them both into a nice cheese sandwich, she won’t eat it.

Meal time conversations with Journey go something like this:

“I’m hungry Dada, what do we have to eat for breakfast?”

“We’re having eggs Journey.”

“I don’t like eggs Dada!”

“I’m hungry Dada, what do we have to eat for lunch?”

“We’re having turkey sandwiches Journey.”

“I don’t like turkey sandwiches Dada!”

“I’m hungry Dada, what do we have to eat for dinner?”

“We’re having chicken and vegetables Journey.”

“I don’t like chicken or vegetables Dada!”

“Well do me a favor and tell me what you WOULD like to eat Journey?”


IMG_3449Its like Groundhogs Day, and I’m Bill Murray, because this conversation is repeated daily.  At night I hear her voice like a ghost, haunting my dreams strongly affirming – “I don’t like spaghetti…I don’t like tacos…I don’t like this yucky food!”

But you know what she will eat?

You guessed it…pretty much anything sweet! Any dish you can think of that comes with syrup is perfect for breakfast.

Peanut butter with honey sandwiches are the staple for lunch.

But at dinner time the true tug-of-war and test of wills begins!  Journey and I stare each other down like two grizzled old gun fighters squaring off at the OK corral – as I try to convince her to eat something healthy while she emphatically refuses.

Some days I just want to throw my hands up in defeat and shout to the heavens….”WILL YA JUST EAT THE DANG FOOD?”

Looking for solutions, I found many articles related to my dilemma which suggests that I’m not alone in this.  Several articles like Reforming a Picky Eater, Step One: Children Don’t Control the Family Meal, and Quick Tips for Feeding a Picky Eater on WebMD where very insightful and gave me a lot to chew on! They urge parents to slowly and patiently introduce kids to a variety of foods.  A parents job is to offer healthy meals, but the child must choose to eat them.  We must not allow our children to hijack the dinner table.

Of course I was compelled to document this on-going episode in one of the new projects I’m working on – a piece entitled Just Eat! The following is a rough draft excerpt:

…“I just wish you’d chew your yummy stew, so you’ll grow big and strong –

and its good for you!”

“That may be true but in my view, this yucky dish belongs in a zoo.

It looks slimy, moldy, and lumpy too. I think I’d rather eat my shoe!”

“Eat your shoe? Now, now my dear…this is something I don’t wish to


“Hmmm, well maybe you should cover each ear, but I still wish this

dish would disappear.”

“I have no more time to be discreet, at this point I have one thing to

say…JUST EAT!”


Here’s Journey, snapping green beans in an effort to get her involved in the preparing process in hopes that she’ll want to try them later!

So in the meantime, I’ll just continue to find creative ways to cope with this picky eater predicament.

Any picky eaters in your house? I’m interested in your feedback.



Barre, Anyone?

For quite a while now, I’ve been hearing about one of the latest exercise crazes, known as Barre.

If you’re unfamiliar with Barre, it’s based upon ballet movements…and yes, you guessed right, using a ballet bar.

It is a combination of strength-training, dance, orthopedic back exercises, and Hatha yoga all rolled into an intense, hour-long mind-body workout.

Founded by Lotte Berke,

A dancer and teacher, Barre promises to deliver a sensual and satisfying fitness system that firm, lengthen, and shape muscles to their most optimal form: high rounded seats, flat outer thighs, lean long torsos and defined waistlines…every woman’s dream, no wonder the popularity!

I was quite geeked when my coworker informed me of a free introductory class tonight at one of Charlottesville’s premier Barre studios, appropriately called barre.[d]

 In eager anticipation, I hurried through my work day to ensure I could make the 6:30pm start time.

Upon arrival, I quickly discovered why the class was offered for free – because it was being instructed by a brand new teacher, and we would be her guinea pigs.

I also did not know that I had to pre-register! The class was packed full, with no space for me sadly.

Disappointed, I asked the owner if I could watch from the side.  She was very nice and excited to see her new pupil earn her wings, and welcomed me to observe as she explained to me the Barre philosophy.

The class began as the novice instructor beckoned the participants to stand and initiate a warm up stretch.

Instructor: “Get into 2nd position, bring your arms up over your head,” as she unabashedly flung her arms up over her head.

And just like that, the class was over!

Unfortunately, when the instructor swung her arms up over head, she knocked out one of the long, low hanging cord lights. The bulb broke sending shards of glass flying everywhere!

Now these weren’t your run-of-the-mill lights mind you.  They were beautiful, old, mercury filled Edison bulbs.

Although these bulbs may have been strategically placed to contribute to the overall aesthetics and allure of the studio, I would be very surprised if this was not the first time this had happened!

With horror on the instructor ‘s face, and the class nervously not knowing what to do, the owner announced the class was cancelled.  The broken mercuried bulbs had to go through a thorough clean up process to avoid contamination.

The new instructor offered embarrassed apologies and assurances that her 2nd attempt would yield better results, and a make up session would be sure to follow.

And as soon as the class started, it was over.  I guess sometimes you get what you pay for (tee hee).

On a serious note, I wish her well, and in the words of Arnold Schwartzenger, “I’ll be back.”

The owner invited those who were interested, to come back around 7:45pm for the next class, in which she would be instructing.  Of course, this class was not free, but one of her regularly scheduled classes.

Still somewhat interested, and remembering that I had already paid for parking, I decided to hang around and take myself to a nice dinner, and perhaps a drink.  It’s rare, that I get time to myself, so why not, I thought.

I chose a cute little outdoor restaurant two doors down called Mono Loco.  I ordered a fantastic watermelon margarita, and some surprisingly good, but strange shrimp tacos that came with, believe-it-or-not, barbecued potato chips as a topper (yeah, I know).

I finished my meal, headed back over to barre.[d], thinking I was only going back to watch.  The class had already started, and to my surprise, the owner called me by name, and asked me to come join them.

I’d consider myself to be in pretty good physical shape, I mean I do workout (to tute my own horn), but this was perhaps the most physically challenging, muscle burning, multiple rest break requiring exercise activity that I have done in a very long time.  I could barely hang!

I am super excited to accept this challenge and can’t wait to return again in the future.

Word of advice, don’t go to the bar, then go to the Barre.