Tuesday, October 25, 2011

He's all boy...

Cooper is undoubtedly all boy. Even when he was an itty-bitty newborn, not even strangers asked whether or not he was a boy or a girl. He just has that all boy look about him. His personality, it's also all boy. He's loud, loves to play rough, quite rowdy, loves his trucks and trains, and especially enjoys all things outdoors. 

All that being said, it came as no surprise when we put a ball cap on him the other day. Unlike the birthday party hat, he loved it. There was no tugging to pull it off, he just took to it immediately. 

He looked so grown, like such a little boy, that I had to grab my camera to snap a few pictures... 

Just look at him... 
I can't ever get enough... 
He's going to make one great lil' fishin buddy for Grandpa... 
... I have no doubt. 

After all, he is all boy and what little boy doesn't love going fishing with Grandpa?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- Pumpkin Patch Edition...

 Last Thursday we took our little pumpkin to the patch! We were quite excited, as it's Cooper's very first Halloween. A slight cold front came through so we were able to somewhat bundle up and really enjoy the evening. To get the full effect, we stopped off at Starbucks to grab our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season and strolled through the quaint little town of Celebration down to the pumpkin patch. 

Just as we had anticipated, Cooper was immediately taken by all of the bright orange pumpkins (so much in fact that it was quite difficult to get him to look at the camera). I am sure I looked like a total crazy person as I was trying to get these pictures. 

We spent an hour or so exploring the patch and finding the perfect pumpkin. I took the opportunity to grab my, "Mommy & Me," photo and I must say that in my humble opinion he was certainly the cutest little pumpkin in the patch. 

Cooper also learned a valuable lesson that night. Hay... it's not so tasty!

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

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I hang my head in shame...

When something (shoes) are on sale (I'm talking 15% off) you have to buy them right?! 

Good, I'm glad you agree because I may (meaning I just got back from the mall and I totally did) buy Cooper the cutest little pair of Baby UGG's. 

Yes, I hang my head in shame but I couldn't resist. 

I'm going to go ahead and blame Bloomingdale's. They were having a promotion that when you use you Bloomie's credit card, you automatically get 15% off. See, I had to do it. 

After all, we're headed to the pumpkin patch today when Daddy gets off work and he couldn't go without a pair of adorable little boots, right?! 

Good, glad you agree again. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Little Wagon Master...

Cooper has a new love... his all-terrain wagon. 

If he's fussy, the wagon does the trick. If we're bored, wagon to the rescue. If the weather outside is just too pretty to be indoors, the wagon's where it's at. He'd probably sleep in it if I let him. No exaggeration, there is no time limit when it comes to the wagon. It never gets old, even when we're taking the same loop around the driveway over, and over, and over again. 

See what I mean? He LOVES it...
On this day, Coop's teeth were bothering him...
Can you tell?
They were really hurting in the, "I'll chew on anything in sight," kind of way...
But on my never-ending quest, I was still able to capture the occasional smile. Probably because Daddy was doing something goofy behind me or because I was pretend sneezing. A great big AHH-CHOOOO!!! always gets a little giggle...
But then we're right back to the chewing...
A great BIG thank you to the hubby for passing those eyes onto Cooper. 
Ah, I melt... 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- No Birthday Hats, Mommy!

This past Saturday we attended Cooper's friend, Tucker's 4th Birthday Party. It was a beautiful morning for a park party. Heather, Tucker's Mom, did a fabulous job putting together his Thomas the Train themed birthday. The kiddos enjoyed running around and burned off quite a bit of energy. All the Moms that I talked to post-party said that their kids took a nice long nap. Our kid was no exception. 

We enjoyed spending some quality time with some wonderful friends. Cooper even got a little play time in with his future wife, Abigail. As you can see, Cooper desperately wanted to hold her hand. The kiddos scarfed down some tasty cupckes and all was going well until... 

I thought it would be a good idea to let Coop wear a birthday party hat like the rest of the kids. 

Note to self, Cooper DOES NOT like birthday hats. 

Lesson learned, son. Lesson learned. 

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies...

I warned you, this week I'm sharing another pumpkin related recipe. I made these a couple weekends back when we had our first, "cold front," Yep, that weekend when we had a high of 81 degrees. Oh the joys of being a Floridian. All the same, these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies were tasty. They were cake-like, soft, fluffy, and had just enough pumpkin flavor to still let the milk chocolate chips shine through. 

What you'll need:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12 ounce bag) milk chocolate chips

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then mix in the pumpkin and vanilla. 

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the wet mixture in thirds until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Like usual, I use a small ice cream scoop so that the cookies are uniform in size, allowing them to bake evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies are barely browned around the edges. 

Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack. These lovely cookies are great warm but taste just as great cooled completely. This recipe makes around 3 dozen so there's plenty to share. I sent some next door to the in-laws house and brought some the next morning to The Breakfast Club (sharing with the Schroeder's and the Hill's). 

This weekend we have some gorgeous weather on our hands. I'm very much looking forward to spending as much of it as possible outside, especially given the deluge that we dealt with last weekend. There's a lot going on ranging from Tucker's 4th Birthday Party tomorrow morning to Cooper's first trip to the Pumpkin Patch! I'm so looking forward to both. 

In addition, I'll be attending a Candlelight Memorial Service tomorrow evening in honor of Grace Julia Ross. Speaking of which, tomorrow, Saturday October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Memorial Day. If you could, wherever you may be, please light a candle at 7:00pm to honor all those who have encountered the unimaginable loss of a child. Here in the Halquist house, we continue to pray for the peace of mind and comfort of the entire Ross family. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

8 Months Old...

Can you even believe it? Cooper turned 8 months old last Tuesday! He's learning new and exciting things every day and it's such an amazing experience to get to sit back and watch him. 

The monthly photo shoots are getting a bit lot more challenging but as I've said before, I'll stop at nothing to capture the moment! Here are a few of my favorites from this month... 

 My secret weapon, Gizmo! Cooper will look in whatever direction Giz is... 

Such a big boy...  

This one's my favorite, he looks so serious. No smiling for Mom this month... 

Give me that camera, Momma! 

Learning to clap, I'm super excited about this...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Picture Day Flashback Party!

My real life friend Heather over at, "Life As We Know It, with Two Twinkies and a Tater Tot," is hosting a Picture Day Flashback Party. I can't pass up such a fun opportunity so Mommy & Me Monday is being put off until next week (it also just happens to be perfect timing since I didn't step in front of the camera at all last week!). 

Here Rich and I are in all of our Kindergarten glory! 

Little Richey with his bowl cut hair and cute little grin is simply too cute for words. I especially love the dinosaur sticker on his hand. That is Rich to a T! 

And here I am, miniature Meagan, snaggle tooth and all! Even though you can't see it in this picture I'm sure that my Mom stuck a matching bow in my hair. I'm also pretty sure that I probably rolled my eyes as she was doing it. 

Go dig out those old school photos and join in the fun! Happy Monday all! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Flavorsome Friday- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins...

Fall is upon us and I can almost guarantee you that from now until the end of November, nearly every recipe that I share with you will be geared around pumpkin or apple. I can't contain myself once Fall arrives, as these are two of my favorite flavors. I squeeze every last second out of these seasonal flavors as I can. 

This week I gave another Pinterest recipe a try. It took a bit of forethought because of the cream cheese step but they were totally worth it. The original recipe said that they are supposed to be a Starbucks rip off. I've never actually had the Starbucks muffin but these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins were to die for. 

What you'll need:
For the filling... 
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins... 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have any on hand so I just added a dash of ground ginger and all-spice)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil 

For the topping... 
1/2 cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1 1.2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces

To prep the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl and mix until well blended. Put the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Reinforce with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours (I did this the day before and left it overnight). 

To make the topping, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl. Add in the butter and cut into the dry ingredients as if you were making a pie crust. This mixture should remain coarse and crumbly. Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. 

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. In an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, and oil. Mix until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be sure to not over mix at this point or you'll end up with tough muffins. 

Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To assemble the muffins remove the cream cheese mixture from the freezer and slice into 24 equal pieces. *Note that I removed the mixture from the freezer before I was actually ready for it and if made this is much messier process. Take it out just before you're ready to slice it.* Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, place on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

After baking, transfer the muffins to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. While you'll be quite tempted, DON'T DO IT! The cream cheese inside is super hot! Consider yourself warned. 

As I said earlier, I adore pumpkin so these were right up my alley. Paired with a warm cup of coffee, I was in Heaven. I hope that you'll give these a try also. I promise you won't be disappointed! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Can Do Anything Good...

This is one of my favorite YouTube videos. I figured anything this awesome is worth sharing so here you have it!  

I like to start many of my days off by watching Jessica do her daily affirmations. I mean really, this four year old certainly has her stuff together. Sadly, she has more confidence in herself than many adults I know.

Who are we kidding? If everyone started their day off with a little song and dance about how great life is, the world would be a much better place. I'm convinced of this and you won't persuade me otherwise. 

After all, I can do anything good... yeah... yeah... yeah! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Way Back When-esday- Craving a Vacay Edition...

I'm doing a big of wonder-lusting today. I want to go on a vacation. I'm craving a vacation, really. Anywhere would work. I just want to get on a plane, train, heck even in an automobile and have a little getaway. Just Rich, me, and sweet little growing Cooper. 

For now though, looking back at pictures will have to do! 

This week's, "Way Back When-esday," is looking back on a few snapshots from a family vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee back in October of 2007. 

A beautiful cabin, gorgeous Autumn scenery, and a little rest and relaxation with my love and his family... 

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

What's Cookin' Wednesday- Baked Buffalo Wings...

We’re all about Gator football here in the Halquist house. This recipe is another one of my go-to game day foods. These Baked Buffalo Wings are easy peasy and quite tasty too!

What you’ll need:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
20 chicken wings
½ cup melted butter
½ cup hot pepper sauce (I used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce)

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease it with cooking spray. Place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a Ziploc bag and shake to mix. 

 Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated. Place the wings onto the baking sheet and refrigerate for at least one hour. I did this several hours ahead of time and it works all the same!

 Just before you’re ready to bake your wings, mix together the melted butter and hot sauce, then dip the wings into the butter mixture and place back on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip the wings, and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. The chicken should no longer be pink in the center and should be crispy on the outside. Total baking time should be 40-45 minutes.

These wings come out crunchy, succulent, and way better than anything that you can order from a delivery service. Plus, they’re baked, not fried, making them a little better for you (let’s just ignore the ½ a stick of butter). Notice the vegetarian husband opted for a thin and crispy cheese pizza. Alright by me… more for me! 

What’s Cookin’ Wednesday

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Great Food-Truck Invasion...

A couple of weeks ago Kissimmee Main Street put together a great event where our little town was taken over by all kinds of delicious gourmet food-trucks. All the yummy food was followed up with a town square showing of, "Ratatouille," on a blow up movie screen. A movie about a cooking rat seemed pretty dead on considering all of the food that was consumed that night! 

Rich and I decided to make this a date night so we left Cooper at home with Mimi and Pops and hit the town. There was so much to choose from that I had a hard time deciding where to even begin. 

After walking the row of trucks several times I finally decided on Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts. I can't remember the name of the truck that I bought these from but I do remember that they buy all of their ingredients locally which I thought was pretty cool. They were de-li-cious, so delicious in fact that I forgot to snap a picture before I scarfed them down. All the same, they rocked! 

Rich opted to hit up the Gourmet Flatbread truck and snagged a Margarita Flatbread with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella  and parmesan. I wasn't shocked in the slightest that he chose the closest thing to pizza that was offered. We are talking about Rich after all! 

After mingling for a bit the rain started to roll in so Rich and I decided to skip the movie and head home to hang out with Cooper and my parents. Before leaving I grabbed a fancy schmancy grilled cheese from the Gastro Truck. This gem was made on thick sliced multigrain bread and filled with gouda cheese, thinly sliced honey-crisp apples, thick-sliced bacon, and a little drizzle of honey. Oh-Em-Gee... Super tasty! 

Before heading home we hit up the Yum Yum Cupcake truck for a few treats to bring home to enjoy with the babysitters. We chose several varieties like Key-Slime, S'more, Chocolate Butter Cream, Red Velvet, and Peanut Butter Chocolate. They did not disappoint! 

I must say that I'm pretty proud of my friend Kelly who is the director of Kissimmee Main Street. She's doing some amazing work over there and Kissimmee is lucky to have someone as passionate as Kelly on their team. Now, when's the next invasion? I'm ready to try some more new treats! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mommy & Me Monday- My Little Mohawk Man...

We took the somewhat sad leap last week and moved Cooper out of his baby tub. Bath time is now even more fun than it was before thanks to Cooper's new giant rubber ducky. When you squeeze his beak, he quacks and everything! Super entertaining for Coop! 

Bath time is no longer just about getting clean, it's also play time! Cooper likes to splash around and play with his squeeze toys...

And Gizmo, the dog that we have to spell out B-A-T-H when it's his turn for a dip in the tub (or else he goes running underneath the bed) even likes to get in on the action. Bath time, it's a family affair! 

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