Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Like Father, Like Son...

Cooper turns eight months old next week. Can you even believe it?

This week's, "Way Back When-esday," is peeking back to life with a one month old. That is, life with a one month old who ate every hour, on the hour. During that time, we in the Halquist house took sleep wherever we could find it and in this case Daddy and Coop found it snuggled up in the recliner, both snoozing with one arm up. 

Like father, like son. It warms my heart. 

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- I Jus' Wanna Pinch Those Cheeks...

Sometimes, there's just no need for a big long explanation. 
This is one of those cases. 

I jus' wanna pinch those cheeks!! 

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Popcorn Brittle...

Last weekend was the Florida/Tennessee football game and that's always an event here in the Halquist house. A few years back Rich and I actually attended the game in, "The Swamp." It was miserably hot so this year we opted to have our own little party right in the comfort of our air-conditioned family room. My sister Alisa joined us. You know what the kickoff of hunting season does to a wife. She was orphaned all weekend but we certainly enjoyed her company!

For our little soiree, I made some Popcorn Brittle. I even picked out all the orange and blue M&M's to show our team spirit!. 

What you'll need:
1 bag of microwave popcorn
1 cup M&M's 
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 vanilla extract
1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pop the popcorn and remove any un-popped kernels. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. I also sprayed the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray for a littlle added security. Evenly sprinkle the M&M's over popcorn.  

Place the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the peanuts and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and mix well. 

Immediately pour caramel mixture evenly over the popcorn mixture. Though you'll be tempted to, DO NOT STIR! You'll end up with one big, gooey disaster if you do. Consider yourself warned :)

Let stand 30 minutes or until caramel has cooled and hardened. Break into pieces and enjoy! Be sure to store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container, otherwise the caramel will adsorb the moisture and become chewy, thus defeating the purpose of brittle all together. 

As I've said before, I am a complete sucker for the whole salty/sweet combination. I hope that you also enjoy this scrumptious treat as much as I did! 

Happy weekend y'all... T-92 days until Christmas!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tomorrow We're Official...

Officially entered into the season of Fall, that is. Please tell me that you are as excited as we are here in the Halquist house?! I can barely contain myself with all of the Fally-goodness that's on its way. 

Yeah, you read that right, I just said Fally-goodness.
That's a real word, right?
Oh, no it isn't?
Well too bad... It is now!

Last year Rich and I made this Top 10 List of things that we were looking forward to. There are some updates to said list now that we have our newest little addition. Here we go!

1. Good television! We can hardly wait to watch our shows again; Grey’s, Bones, Private Practice, Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives... Oh My!
  • We still watch our shows but we don't watch them until we put Cooper to bed around nine. This greatly limits the amount of television we're able to squeeze in so in all likelihood, we'll be consistently running weeks behind on all of them! Guess we better stay off of all social media so there aren't any spoilers! In addition, we have a couple new favorites. I cannot get enough of Glee!, The Good Wife, The Sing Off, and the hubby is all about Swamp Loggers. Yes, a show about people who are loggers in a swamp. Oh joy! 
2. Fall décor which at our home includes hay bales, scarecrows, corn stalks, and mums galore!
  • I'm totally dressing Cooper up like a scarecrow, sitting him on the hay bales alongside our other scarecrow friends, and taking an obscene amount of pictures. Brace yourselves for the cuteness that will follow! 
3. Harvest scented Yankee Candle! This will be burning in our house October 1st, I can guarantee it!
  • Yeah, I'm not so sure that I will make it to October 1st this year. Our existing candles are nearly burned out and we're going to Yankee Candle this weekend. Who am I kidding? I don't have that much self-control. 
4. Gator Football starts this Saturday! Can we get an Orange... Blue... Orange... Blue?!
  • The season is already under way and so far, so good! Keep it up boys!! I must admit. I am shockingly surprised by how well they are doing. Hopefully I haven't spoken too soon. 
5. Sleeping with the windows open. Ahh... the sounds of nature lulling us to sleep!
  • Now that Fall is here, I'm ready for the temperatures to follow suit! Not only do I adore having the windows open but I also love what that does for our electric bill. 
6. Spiced Pumpkin Lattés from Starbucks. Please tell me these come in decaf?
  • Oh, so much can change in a year. I'm now no longer pregnant and living on caffeine. Bring. it. on! They make these in the gigantic venti size right? Think they'll throw a shot of espresso in there for me?!
7. Being able to actually utilize the sunroof in my new car! Seriously, who uses those in the Summer time anyways?
  • Touché! I'm willing the cooler weather to join us. Can you tell? Also, the car is not brand new anymore. We still giggle at the thought of the car salesman asking us if we had any children. We told him that we were hoping to soon but unbeknownst to us, precious baby Cooper was already growing inside me, just a few weeks along! God is good :)
8. Homemade banana bread on a sleep in Saturday morning. No description needed! 
  • Bahahahahahahaha! Sleep in Saturday morning, puh-lease! All laughing aside though, I wouldn't trade the early morning Cooper cuddle sessions for all the sleep in Saturday's imaginable. The banana bread though, I'll take that. 
9. Using the outdoor fireplace in comfy oversized sweatshirts. We may have to wait a couple more months for this but I am telling you, it’s on its way!
  • Again, another activity that Rich and I will enjoy after we put Coop to bed. Thank God for the man/woman who invented the video monitor. I imagine this will be a regular occurrence and a great opportunity for us to have some one-on-one time to chat and catch up. 
10. And last but certainly not least... as of this minute there are 115 days, 12 hours, and 51 minutes until Christmas! Anyone who knows Rich and I know how much we love Christmas and all that it entails. Bring it on!
  • Breaking news! There are actually 93 days, 13 hours, 11 minutes, and 45 seconds as I type these words!!! 
Thanks to our precious addition Cooper, our Top 10 List has become a Top 12 List! How could we possibly leave out... 

11. A trip (or two) to the Pumpkin Patch! With as much as Cooper loves bright colors I can only imagine how much he will light up at the sight of tons of bright orange pumpkins! 

12. Trick-or-Treating! You just wait until you see his adorable little costume. He's going to be the cutest lil' lion that you ever did see! 

If you weren't excited before, I certainly hope that you are now! Happy Fall Y'all!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Nursery Furniture Edition...

For this week's, "Way Back When-esday," we're taking a peek back one year exactly. It's truly amazing how much can change in one year.

One year ago we were anxiously preparing for Cooper. The nursery furniture had arrived and as you can see, we were pretty darn excited! 

Rich was one proud Daddy as he loaded the furniture onto the trailer at Babies 'R Us...

And I was super excited to get going on the nursery...

Fast forward one year and as I type this very blog entry, Cooper is taking his afternoon nap in this very, albeit assembled, nursery furniture.

As excited as we were then, I don't think we had any idea how much love and fulfillment being parents would bring us.

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

What's Cookin' Wednesdays- Spinach & Artichoke Dip...

I'm a huge fan of both my mini crock-pot and Gator Football, not to mention a complete sucker for a good dip. So for last Saturday's game I threw together this Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It's super simple and super tasty!

What you'll need:
1 block of cream cheese (I opted for the 1/3 fat but I wouldn't recommend using the fat free. It just doesn't melt the same)
Pinch of salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg
2 cloves of grated garlic (I love garlic but if you're not a huge fan, I would recommend using only one or none at all if you prefer)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 package of thawed and squeezed dry chopped spinach
1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped into bite size pieces

Simply mix together all of the ingredients and then transfer into your mini crock-pot. Heat on low until melted and creamy, this will take about an hour.

Enjoy with tortilla chips! This dip is perfect for a game time snack because if you're anything like us here in the Halquist house, we graze. It'll stay warm and melty in the crock-pot throughout the entire game.

What do you have cookin' in your house?
Play along and link up with Heather over at, "Life As We Know It with Two Twinkies and a Tater Tot."
What’s Cookin’ Wednesday

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Momma Said...

Here in the Halquist house we've entered the teething stage. Yesterday was, to put it mildly, a challenging day but that's okay. As the song says, "Momma said there would be days like this."

Luckily on said days, I have my arsenal of weapons.

1. Refrigerated teething ring- check!
2. Infant Advil, though we didn't have to use it this time- check!
3. Baby Oragel- check!
4. Helping husband hands- check!
5. And thanks to a sister with an awesome sense of humor, Mommy's Sippy Cup- Check!

I can't stand to see him in pain and the worst part is his little toofers aren't even close to breaking through! I'm so glad that the teething woes come in waves. Cooper is feeling much better today and after a day like yesterday, I think that we could all use a break from the constant whimper.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- A Black Tie Affair...

We went to dinner last night and I took it as an opportunity to snap a picture for, "Mommy & Me Monday." Clearly a night out at Broadway Pizza Bar calls for a bit of dress up. Cooper put on his Sunday best, it was a black tie affair!

Goodness that tie-onesie and the little, tiny baby jeans just melt my heart!

Happy Monday y'all, I hope that you have a fantastic week!

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Key Lime Bars...

As of late, I’ve become obsessed with Pinterest. If you’ve not come across this yet, their website describes it as, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Like I said, I am completely obsessed. I have pinboards that range from, “For the Holidays,” all the way to, “Cooper’s First Birthday.” Personally, I use it often because it’s also available as a free app on the iPhone. Though I use Pinterest for all sorts of things, by far I use it mostly to find new and exciting recipes to try. That, my friends, is how I came across this week’s Flavorsome Friday.

The original recipe calls for these to be made with lemon but in my efforts to not waste the key-lime juice that the hubby brought home for me last week, I made these tasty treats as Key-Lime Bars.

Be warned, these are super delicious and addicting. So addicting that it’s impossible to have just one. I'm talking, so delicious that I do believe these are one of the best things I have ever baked in my life. Yeah, they're that good.

What you’ll need:
20 Nilla Wafers
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) very cold butter
1 package (8oz.) cream cheese, room temperature (I opted for a low-fat variety but I don’t suggest using fat-free)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons grated lime peel (about 2 large limes)
¼ cup lime juice (the original recipe said to, “not even think about using bottled,” but I did and they tasted fan-freaking-tastic!
Powdered sugar for dusting

Using a food processor, crush the Nilla Wafers until they look like fine bread crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to put them in a Ziploc bag and bang away. Add in the flour, brown sugar, and butter pulse until the mixture is combined. Again, the original recipe calls for you to cut the butter in as if you were making biscuits. I’ve found that a food processor can do the same thing and in much less time. The butter should still be about pea sized. This is going to give you a delicious, airy crust. Put the cookie mixture in a foil lined 8x8 baking dish. With your hands, press the crust into the dish in one even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

While your crust is baking, mix together the cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add the eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, and baking powder and mix until thoroughly combined. Add in the lime zest and key-lime juice and mix until just combined.

Your crust should be done par-baking at this point. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the partially baked crust and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.

Allow the bars to cool completely (at least 2 hours but even better, overnight). I cut off the edges so they would all be uniformed and completely square. Cut the square into four and then each fourth into fourths. You’ll end up with 16 perfectly delicious squares.

We had Keith, Kelly, Alisa, and Ryan over for the game on Saturday night. I originally made these for that purpose but we ended up eating dinner so late (totally my fault because I didn’t want to mess with Cooper’s schedule) that they left without dessert. It wasn’t until Kelly and I were texting when she got home that I remembered dessert, sitting in the fridge downstairs. No worries though, they didn’t go to waste. I sent half next door to the in-laws and I’m not going to lie, Rich and I ate the rest. I should disclose that we ate them over the next several days. We’re not that glutinous!

Again, in my efforts to not waste, I used the limes I zested and made flavored ice cubes. I didn’t have an ice cube tray so I used one of Cooper’s baby food trays. With the first lime, I used the juice and squeezed it into the individual pods. With the other lime, I cut it into pieces and put one in each pod. I can pop one of these out, throw it in a glass of water, and voila! Flavored water. Genius, I know (sarcasm).

I know that this post has gotten longer than usual but I just have one last thing to say. We are officially in the double digits people! That’s right… 99 days until Christmas. Can I get a, “Whoop, whoop?!”

I hope that y'all have a splendid weekend. I know that here in the Halquist house, we most certainly will!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A little update on our friend...

Having a baby gator removed from a pond on your property is harder than we first imagined. Yes, our little friend, he’s still here. We were told something along the lines of, “We have to contact a state and there will be a study done to ensure there is no shortage of gators in your area. After that, a trapper will be contacting you.”

Hello?! We live on a lake in Florida. Call me crazy but I don’t think that there is ANY shortage of gators in our back yard. Geez Louise! Anyways, it looks like he’s going to be around for a bit longer.

On the upside, while Cooper was napping the other day, I spent some time outside and after snapping the above picture of our little friend, I walked the yard and took in all of the little creatures we are so lucky to have around.

A dragonfly, my Mom’s favorite…

A bumble bee, doing its thing…

Gizmo, loving the time outside, just the two of us…

A very well camouflaged grasshopper…

Ahem, get a room why don’t you?!...

The Very Busy Spider, which also happens to be one of Cooper’s favorite books. It’s written by Eric Carle and Cooper adores all of the animal noises…

Lizards galore, though this one was cool because of the spike on his back…

What appears to be one tough spider. Clearly, he’s been in a fight or two since he’s missing some legs…

Nature taking its course, there was a lot of pollinating going on…

And lastly my little squirrel friend. He was just surprised by the corn in the middle of the day. This is something that I usually put out when we’re sitting on the back porch in the evenings.

All this picture taking was started because we have the most precious hummingbirds that gather at a tree in our backyard. They’re so tiny and simply beautiful. However, they’re also super fast. I’m determined that I will eventually capture a picture. Once I do, I promise I’ll share.

Go take a moment to take in the little things. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Randal Honey...

This time of year, when the weather begins to ease back and the Florida evenings are simply beautiful, there’s the tiniest part of me that misses my convertible. Albeit, this is a very tiny part, there’s still nothing quite like riding down the road, top down, wind blowing through your hair, with music blaring over the speakers.

While I have many fond memories of my Pontiac G6, one that stands out to me took place with my very dear friend, Randi, and this edition of, “Way Back When-esday,” pays tribute to that night.

We were both still somewhat newly single and flexing our independence muscles. We went to Jelly Rolls, a local dueling pianos bar and spent the evening singing along at the top of our lungs with the ever so talented musicians.

A night at Jelly Rolls just wouldn’t be complete without joining the chorus line during Frank Sinatra’s, “New York, New York.” So, we did just that.

We ended the evening by driving home, top down, music blaring, and much, much more singing. We’re pretty talented, ya know?!

We’ve both done a lot of growing since then. Both married to wonderful husbands and each have one adorable child. While so much has changed, so much has stayed the same. She’s one of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I consider it an honor to call her my friend.

It’s your turn to play along with Cheryl at Twinfatuation. It’s so much fun to reminisce.

Monday, September 12, 2011

7 Months Old...

Can you believe it? It makes me a little sad to report that our sweet, Cooper Allen, has turned seven months old. I may be a little (okay, a lot) biased but I swear he just gets cuter each month! Here are some of my favorites from our monthly mini photo shoot.

Striking a pose for Mommy…

This is my favorite. Sitting up like a big boy with such ease and of course, playing with his tootsies…

Getting a little tired of all this hard work, also known as tummy time…

“Okay, okay, Mom. I’ll push up for you one more time but you better get a good picture because I am done after this!”

Ah, the drooly chin! Who knew I would ever love drool this much.

I’m off to go play but before I do, Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Amy! I hope that you have a beautiful day. Give Scott kiddo duty and take some time for yourself. Love you!

Mommy & Me Monday- Tag Team Edition...

This week is a tag team, “Mommy & Me Monday!"

Real Mommy…


… giving our boy some Gator lovin’ before the game on Saturday.

Go Gators!!

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Key Lime Cupcakes...

As I mentioned last week, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday on Monday with a Labor Day Cookout and birthday celebration combined. We had a great time spending the evening with family and it was especially nice to get to see my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Sheri, who were in town from Ohio.

My Dad is not a chocolate fan (Gasp! I know right?!), so when I set out to find a new and fun recipe to try, these Key Lime Cupcakes caught my attention. I decided to merge two different recipes because I preferred this cupcake recipe and this meringue topping.

In all honesty, I was itching to use my baking blow torch. Problem solved!

What you’ll need for the cupcakes:
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup self-rising flour
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 ½ tablespoons key lime juice (I used bottled)
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
¾ cup buttermilk
*note that I doubled this recipe for 24 cupcakes.

What you’ll need for the meringue:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon key lime juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
*note that I doubled this recipe for 24 cupcakes.

Line standard muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk both flours together. Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add the lime zest and juice (batter may look curdled).

Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Spoon the batter into each liner a little more than ½ way full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Moving onto the meringue...

Fill a small pot 2-inches deep with water. Set it over medium-high heat to bring to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the egg whites. Remove the bowl from the pot of water and set the bowl in the base of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the key lime juice and vanilla. Beat the egg whites at high speed until shiny and it holds stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes.

Fit a pastry bag with a star tip, fill with meringue topping, and pipe the meringue onto the cooled cupcakes. Be sure you have an official taste tester give their seal of approval (ha, ha!).

Now the real fun begins! Using a small kitchen torch, toast the tops of the meringue until lightly golden brown.

Present the cupcakes and sing Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the whole wide world!

I think that the next time I make these I’ll add a key lime pie filling to really give them the limey-zing. They weren’t quite tart enough for my liking and a gooey filling would take these to an all new level.

Happy weekend y’all!