Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Gator Football with Tommy...

In case you’re living under a rock, college football season kicks off this Saturday! In honor of our favorite team here in the Halquist House, this week’s edition of, “Way Back When-esday,” is paying tribute to the Orange and Blue!

Back in the fall of 2006 I took a mini road trip to visit my very good friend, Tommy, in Gainesville. He was an excellent host, providing the true college experience. You know, the typical shared dorm rooms, ice-cream before dinner, pizza every day, tail-gating, beer pong…

Not to mention a sweltering day of Gator Football in, “The Swamp.” It was a fabulous weekend, one that was very much needed at the time and one that I never will forget. Thanks for being such a great friend, Tommy. After all these years, you still bring the biggest smile to my face!

T-3 days until college football! Can I get a, “GO GATORS!!”?

Play along with Cheryl at Twinfatuation… it’s so much fun to reminisce!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Have an Unwelcomed Guest...

Around this time every year Rich works on getting the pond into better shape. He was out this past Sunday trimming the brush around the water when he spotted this little fella! Can you see him?

Have you guessed it yet?

Yeah, we have a baby gator in our koi pond...

... and clearly he is not afraid one bit of humans since I walked right up to him to take these pictures.

Wondering the craziest part about the story? We were talking one night before bed last week about getting the pond into better shape so that we can buy some fish for it. I guess that because it was right before bed, I dreamt that night that when Rich was cleaning the pond, there was a gigantic alligator in it!

Luckily for Rich (and his limbs), the gigantic part was off.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- Sickly Sunday...

I wasn’t feeling the greatest this weekend so we spent the majority of it at home, getting a little quality family time under our belt. Here’s Cooper and I getting in a little floor time. We’ve yet to see him do it but he’s scooting in some fashion when we leave the room. We’ll leave him in one position and come back one minute later and he’s in a completely different spot, in a completely different position. I wish he’d show us his trick!

On a side note, a BIG thank you to the hubby for helping out so much this weekend. Not that he doesn’t normally lend a hand, but this weekend, he especially stepped his game up. I’m talking, wake up for the first bottle, change the poopy diaper, vacuum and mop the upstairs, kind of stepping his game up. I should be sick more often! All kidding aside, thanks Rich! You’re the best!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?

Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We miss you already...

As I mentioned last week, Amy and the kids headed back to Washington after spending the summer here in Florida. Scott and his unit are wrapping up some intense training in Ft. Irwin, CA where it is currently 105 degrees. I can’t imagine how he must be feeling but I’m glad that they’re getting prepared. Amy and the kids will be spending the next few months with Scott while he prepares for his deployment to Afghanistan in December. Even though they’ll be back in November and the time they're spending with Scott is so important, we can’t help but miss them already!

After all, what cousins don’t like to chat it up…

… play with trains…

… love on each other…

… and pose for super cute cousin portraits!

I can’t imagine how much different they’ll all look and act after just the few short months that will pass before we see them again. I think that we’ll have to take an identical shot to compare.

Until then, we love you Scott, Amy, Grace, Jack, and Josh! Keep dry and warm until November!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- Post Bath Lovin'...

Bath time is one of my favorite parts of the day. In all fairness though, I feel like I'm saying that a lot these days.

“Oh, I love when I first go into his room in the morning. He’s so excited to see me, definitely one of my favorite parts of the day.”

“Gosh I love rocking him for a few minutes when he wakes up from his nap. It puts him in a great mood for the rest of the afternoon, certainly one of my favorite parts of the day.”

“Ah, I melt when he smiles like that. He gets so happy when he has his first bite of fruit after eating his veggies at dinner time. This is one of my favorite parts of the day.”

I think you get my point. I’m a pretty lucky Momma.

But really, I love bath time. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day!

(Note you also see my first, “baby,” in this picture. Gizmo also enjoys getting in on the bath time action. He also lays next to us for the bedtime story. Silly dog!)

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Dirt Pudding...

On Monday, my sister-in-law Amy and here kiddos headed back to Washington state after spending the summer with us here in Florida. We had one last dinner get together on Sunday night and I wanted to make something extra special for my niece and nephews before they left. Kickin’ it old school, I brought out the Dirt Pudding recipe. I’m not re-inventing the wheel here. I remember eating this myself as a child so it’s been around forever.

Let me start by saying that I doubled this recipe because I thought I would need to with the crowd of eleven we were feeding. This was completely not necessary. It made way too much so I’m going to share the single recipe. Keep in mind that what you see in the pictures is not what you're actually going to get. This recipe will make half of that. Lesson learned.

What you’ll need:
2 (20 oz.) packages of Oreo cookies
½ stick butter
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
3 ½ cups milk
2 small French vanilla instant pudding boxes
1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and powder sugar. Set aside.

Make the French vanilla pudding by combining the pudding mix and milk.

Add the Cool Whip into the pudding and mix until combined.

Add back in the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined.

In a food processor, pulse the Oreos until they resemble “dirt.” If you don’t have a food processor, this can also be accomplished with a large Ziploc bag and a rolling pin. It may take a little longer but you’ll get your “dirt” all the same!

Using clear plastic cups, layer the two mixtures starting and ending with the “dirt.” I added a couple gummy worms to each cup for the extra cute factor.

I found that my cupcake storage container was perfect for transporting these. Be sure to store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

All of the cousins had a different take on this unusual dessert. Jack was a little hesitant of the worms but eventually gave in. Noah would have liked to eat nothing but the worms. Grace dug right in and loved it while Josh and Cooper clearly didn’t get what the fuss was all about. All of their adorable individual personalities shining through!

The kiddos and adults alike enjoyed the special treat although it was far richer than I remember as a child. I guess that’s because my taste buds have matured a bit! With back to school right around the corner, I encourage you to make this special treat for the little mouths in your house!

Happy Weekend Y’all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Boys & Their Dixie...

Anyone who knows my husband, Rich, also knows of his obsession for lawnmowers. From the time he could walk, he’d push the plastic Fisher Price mowers around the house and yard. He was the sort of child that begged Santa Claus for a, “Classic Snapper Rear Engine Rider,” and in the 5th grade, Santa Claus made those dreams come true. He spent Christmas Day mowing all of the neighbor’s lawns. Yes, he was that kind of kid.

As he grew a little older, his fondness of Dixie Choppers in particular also grew. Early in our dating days, he got his very first Dixie Chopper. He was like a kid in a candy store the first time he sat on that thing. His face was priceless, simply adorable.

Well last Thursday afternoon when he got home from work and started his weekly routine of mowing the lawn, Cooper was immediately taken to the noise and watched from the front porch as Dad zoomed around the yard.

When Rich was finished and with camera in hand, I passed Cooper to him for his very first Dixie Chopper experience.

He’s most definitely a chip off the old block! With the engine roaring Cooper went straight to Daddy. No whimpering, no fussing, just taking in the moment.

This time around, both of their faces were priceless, simply adorable.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Bath & Prints Edition...

For this week’s edition of, “Way Back When-esday,” we’re taking a look back to Cooper’s first real bath. After he was born, our friends and family took turns bringing us meals to help out. Being brand new, first time parents, coupled with my c-section, the first few weeks were a little tough so the help was welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Our dear friends, and Cooper’s Godparents, Keith and Kelly, had singed up to bring us food that evening. Kelly made us a delicious “breakfast dinner." Yummy pancakes for dinner? Don’t knock it until you try it. What they didn’t know before they got there is that we had a couple activities that we wanted their hand with.

First off, we needed to document Cooper’s hand and footprints. Now if you’ve never done this before you’re probably thinking to yourself, no biggie! WRONG! As you can see below, a three week old has very little patience for these types of shenanigans. With several hands on deck, we were able to successfully retrieve his prints for both his baby book and display plaques for his nursery.

Next up was Cooper’s first official bath! We had gone the sponge bath route up until this point because of his belly button and healing boy parts. The baby bathtub needed assembly and we quickly caught ourselves wondering how many adults, one of which is an engineer, it took to assemble the thing! Once that was accomplished I undressed our tiny, sweet, fragile baby for his first bath. I was a nervous wreck.

I thought for sure that he’d scream bloody murder (which is what he did during his sponge baths) but I was oh so wrong. He loved being submerged in the warm water and didn’t make as much as a peep the entire time.

That was until we took him out. NOT HAPPY! It took some comforting and a lot of warm cuddling but he simmered down and returned to his happy baby state.

I powdered, diapered, lotioned, and kissed our fresh baby Cooper. We had successfully completed his first bath with only one limited meltdown. I was relieved.

Looking at these pictures it seems so long ago. I can’t believe that this was only six short months ago but at the same time, I can’t believe that six months have already passed. He’s growing up too quickly.

Play along with Cheryl at Twinfatuation... it's so much fun to reminisce!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Introducing to you... Mr. & Mrs. Brandon Chambers!

This past Saturday night, we had the privilege of witnessing two wonderful people become husband and wife. Brandon and Ashleigh stood in front of their family, close friends, and most importantly God, and vowed for better or worse, beside each other is where they will remain until they are parted by death. Their ceremony was the most moving wedding ceremony I have ever been to. Brandon’s Father, Grandfather, and brother, all Reverends, took turns officiating different parts of the service. It was truly touching. I’m so excited to see what the future holds in store for Brandon and Ashleigh. They are such a perfect fit for each other, no doubt, and I am sure it will be nothing short of amazing.

We moved from the church to the reception site, a local golf course that was simply beautiful. Their cocktail hour was held outside as the sun was setting. It was a great opportunity for guests to mingle, take some pictures, sip a glass of wine, eat a little cheese, and soak up the ambiance.

We moved inside as the DJ introduced the new Mr. and Mrs.! They shared their first dance as husband and wife and the way they looked at each other, it brought tears to my eyes. These two… they’re so in love! Instead of the traditional wedding cake, Ashleigh and Brandon opted for cupcakes, a nod to their fun loving spirit.

As you can see, the cupcakes were a HUGE hit. Not only were they delicious but they doubled in duty as each table’s centerpiece. Such a cute idea!

Instead of a traditional dinner reception, they had a dessert reception. There was an ice cream sundae station with every topping you can imagine and as if that was not enough, there was a fondue station with all sorts of scrumptious dippers. I don’t think that anyone left without their sweet tooth more than satisfied!

All of the guests, including me, danced our butts off until the very end of the night! The last few weddings that I had been to I wasn’t really able to cut lose because I was pregnant, but with Cooper safe at home with Mimi and Pops, I let lose and cut a rug. Everyone that I talked to the next day was complaining of sore legs and backs. I was no exception, phew, I’m out of shape! Below you can see that Rich and I were practicing our very best 8th grade dance, 12 inches apart, slow dance. Ashleigh and a couple girlfriends surprised guests with an impromptu 90’s flashback dance. Plus the Chambers boys are not shy on the dance floor. Add in Anthony and Clayton, always the life of the party, and you have one unforgettable night!

There was the traditional bouquet and garter toss. As always, this provides hilarious entertainment. I’m pretty sure that Chelsea mulled the other women for that bouquet.

The bride and groom made their rounds spending time with their guests so we were able to snag a few pictures with them. You’ve got to take note of the bottom right hand picture. This has got to be my favorite picture that I took all night. It’s simply Ashleigh and Brandon in a nutshell. I love it!

We had to leave before their grand exit but they made their way to a fully decorated truck, down a sparkler lit path. Picture perfect I am sure!

Congratulations Brandon and Ashleigh! We love you guys to pieces and would like to welcome you to the married club! You’re going to love it, it’s the best!

You better not be reading this until you are back from your Jamaican Honeymoon :)

Babies?! I’m kidding, I’m kidding! (Or am I?)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- Sleeping Babe and One Proud Mommy...

We attended a wedding on Saturday night (you'll have to check back tomorrow for the SO FUN details on that). My parents were awesome enough to come over to our house to watch Cooper while we were out. It’s just easier to have him in his own environment when we know we are going to be gone through dinner, bath, and bedtime. Cooper had a great time getting to spend some quality time with Mimi and Pops and Mommy and Daddy had a blast dancing the night away with some fabulous friends.

We arrived home to a sleeping baby, safe and sound in his crib. We went in to sneak a peek, grab a kiss, and say our, “I love you” and “Goodnight.”

While we had a blast and the occasional night out is great, we missed him so much. What can I say? I’m one proud Mommy.

Thanks again Mom and Dad for watching him. You must have worn him out because he slept through the night without as much as a peep!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Cherry Cheese Bars...

I made a sweet treat to take over to my friend Lynn last week. She and her husband, Tyler, just had their first baby. Abigail Lovely Orem arrived on July 31st at 3:48pm, weighing in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and measuring 20 inches long. She’s simply precious and althgouh she doesn’t know it yet, she’s Cooper’s future wife!

To lend a hand, I’ll be bringing the new parents a couple meals over the next few weeks but didn’t want to come empty handed when I swung by to meet baby Abigail for the first time. I threw together a batch of Cherry Cheese Bars to bring with me. I hadn’t made these in some time so I did a little taste testing myself!

What you’ll need:
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus 2-4 tablespoons
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup cherry preserves

1. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add one of the eggs and beat well.

3. Add 1½ cups of the flour and the salt. Blend well.

4. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture. With floured fingers, press the remaining mixture in the bottom of a greased, 13x9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

5. Add the remaining 2-4 tablespoons of flour and the brown sugar to the reserved butter mixture. Mix until crumbly.

6. Combine the cream cheese and remaining egg. Beat until smooth.

7. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the partially baked crust. Carefully spoon and spread the cherry preserves over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

8. Return to the oven and bake an additional 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden, bubbly, and brown.

9. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Hope that you all have a great weekend! Tomorrow we’ll be attending the wedding of Ashleigh Orem and Brandon Chambers. We’re so excited for these two love birds! Check back next week for a peek of their big day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Half-Birthday Cooper!

As I mentioned last week, our sweet Cooper turned six months old! I had a serious conversation with Father Time and asked him to slow it down a bit. I don’t know how much good it did but I gave it my best shot.

We had our monthly photo shoot and here are some of my favorites!

This is his serious face. Look at those eyebrows, so inquisitive. Might I also add, look at that hair. Gah, I melt…

Giggly boy…

Our big boy! Sitting up all by himself…

He’s looking off at Gizmo here. He really does just love Giz to pieces…

Model baby, striking a fierce pose…

No caption needed…

Enough pictures Momma... give me that camera!

I’ve got to get going now. Month seven will be here all too soon and I have to soak up six! Have a great day!