Monday, January 31, 2011

Meet Baby Eli!

We are the proud Aunt and Uncle of nephew #2, Eli David. Born January 31, 12:26 p.m., 6 lb 8 oz, 20 inches. Mom, Dad, big brother Calvin and baby Eli are all doing well! Congrats to mommy for going all natural!

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Entryway Mirror

DSC03826Yeah, I’m lame and have no before pictures of this beaut. My father-in-law made this mirror/frame, which hung over the family couch in the house that Mr. Tote grew up in. His mom was prepared to throw it away and I snatched it from the ‘toss’ pile. Mr. Tote’s dad had used a miter saw to create the frame and stained the original oak a natural color.

While it was “nice,” it just wasn’t our style. So when I got my hands on it, we sanded it down, painted it white and added some 1x1/4” decorative trim to create the illusion of a window.

And I had a vinyl wall quote that said “Come in. Laugh much. Visit often.” that I cut apart and stuck to the mirror.


I really love how this turned out. It really opened up that area with the illusion of a window being there. I have been wanting to put a foyer table in that spot, but the door has presented some challenges. This mirror is the perfect compromise to liven up that wall.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie

DSC03819Nothing like a good pot pie to warm you up in the dead of winter. I didn’t have a pie crust on hand, nor did I feel like making my own. So I was thrilled when I found this Better Crocker recipe for pot pie, topped with Bisquick mix.

This dish couldn’t be easier to throw together, with all pre-prepared ingredients, aside from mixing together the Bisquick mix.

Mr. Tote and I both loved the heartiness of this dish.  I particularly loved the easy prep. I’m not usually a big fan of using condensed soup, but you really cant’ beat the amount of time this takes to pull together… all of 5 minutes, plus the time it takes for the oven to heat.

16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables, thawed 
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped 
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup 
1 cup Bisquick mix 
1/2 cup milk 
1  egg 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix vegetables, chicken and soup in a medium-sized, ungreased casserole dish.
Stir remaining ingredients in bowl with fork until blended. Pour over ingredients in casserole dish.
Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oreo Truffles

DSC03560Long overdue, like most of my other upcoming posts…

This recipe has made its way around the blog world five thousand times. Like many others on my “Favorites” list of links, I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time. Originally from Kraft foods, I fell in love with the pictures that Heather over at Heather Drive took. So I’m linking to her post of this recipe.

- 1 package (1 lb., 2 oz.) Oreo cookies
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk OR 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
- 1/2 lb. milk chocolate candy melts
- 1/2 lb. white chocolate candy melts

1. In food processor, grind Oreo cookies until completely crushed.

2. Place crushed cookies into a large bowl. Add condensed milk or cream cheese, stirring until combined. The cookie crumbles should all be moist so that they easily stick together.

3. Shape cookie mixture into 1-inch balls. Lay cookie balls on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Place into freezer for a few minutes to harden.

4. Dip cookie balls into melted chocolate, and return to wax paper to dry. Drizzle with additional melted chocolate or candy melts for decoration (if desired).

If you use the cream cheese version, truffles must be kept in the refrigerator. Recipe yields approximately 30-50 truffles, depending on size.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mystery Trip!


The girls over at Dating Divas are always coming up with some super creative, super awesome dates. PS, they have an amazing new website, so be sure to check it out!

So I decided to craft my own fabulous date, which I (surprisingly!) kept a total secret from Mr. Tote. It started out early Saturday morning when he woke up up to go to a separate event we had planned to attend. I told him “change of plans,” to which he looked quite puzzled. He was frustrated in an incredibly adorable way and kept huffing and puffing and grunting for me to tell him where we were going. I told him to dress warm and that was it.

Once we were in the car, I whipped out a crossword puzzle that I had created for free with clues to our mystery destination. DSC03913

A few of the clues were:

  • These are good for your heart. The more you eat them, the more you fart.
  • Nickname of Robert Van Winkle.
  • We met Mike and Jilly here (two river otters)
  • We go to this event to see the lighting of the Christmas tree
  • John Wayne stars in this type of movie


Even though he successfully completed the crossword puzzle with my help on only one clue, he was still totally confused. I told him to think outside the box. I could see his wheels spinning and I wish I could have taken a picture of his puzzled look (I chose to be safe, keeping my eyes on the road and hands on the wheel).

“A chili cook off?” he finally said.

Yep! We were headed to Kalamazoo for their chili cook-off. We’ve been to this event once before, while we were dating. So when I saw my friend from Discover Kalamazoo earlier in the week, she reminded me that the cook-off was taking place this past weekend. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend, since we had such a blast the last time we went.

We arrived in downtown Kalamazoo right as the two-hour tasting window started. With our spoons and score cards in hand, we made our way from location to location in single digit temperatures. There were three categories (Office, Retail and Restaurant) with 38 local shops showcasing chili.DSC03857 DSC03858DSC03868

Chili was served indoors, so we were only outside briefly as we shuffled around, enjoying the heated sidewalks of the Kalamazoo Mall, the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States. DSC03870DSC03875

We managed to visit over 20 locations before tapping out, our bellies full of chili. We strategically planned our last stop at Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant because, let’s face it, you can never be too full to taste some hand crafted beer. I ordered us an eight-glass sampler to share and we got to work filling out our voting cards. Did I mention that one of the voting boxes was conveniently located right outside Olde Peninsula? I could hug the genius that thought of that one.DSC03885DSC03891 DSC03897

After the sampler and a pint of Stout Chocula, neither of us were fit to drive home.DSC03903DSC03904DSC03905 DSC03907

Mr. Tote suggested napping in the back of the Jeep. I suggested the nearby Radisson Hotel. His puzzled look from that morning returned for an encore appearance! I could tell he thought I meant napping on the couches in the hotel lobby. Little did he know that I booked us a room for the night… and a romantic dinner at Epic Bistro. I had spent the past few days sneaking around our house packing his clothes, deodorant, toothbrush, etc. And I had recruited his mom, who stopped by our house to pick Ozzy up for the night.

So after a nice afternoon nap, we bundled up and walked the block and a half to dinner, admiring the ice sculptures that were created earlier in the day. Obvs, our ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ were brief. Remember… SINGLE DIGIT TEMPS, PEOPLE!DSC03910DSC03880 DSC03882DSC03911

For dinner I had Wood Grilled Duck Breast (yum-O!) and Mr. Tote had a ribeye topped with gorgonzola. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other’s company, watching our dear Spartans lose yet another basketball game and pondering how on earth I managed to pull such a fast one on him.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to surprise him like this again!