29 July 2010

Yep, still 32. * sigh *

Again with the "should be working," but considering my editing queue is currently holding such gems as "How to Create Your Own Ventriloquist Dummy" and "How to Become a Police Officer in Connecticut," I just can't do it right now. Instead, I'll tell you about the lovely birthday afternoon and evening I had.

After I left you Wednesday afternoon, I scooted next door to the same cafe (Tosi's) where we had dinner the previous night. That veggie muffaletta was still calling my name. The weather had cooled some, so I grabbed an outdoor table (with distant water views!) and had the loveliest lunch.

I had to make a few adjustments to the actual sandwich -- they put mushrooms on it, which seems too weird for me, so I nixed those. I also had them add provolone (you can't have a muffaletta w/o cheese! come on!). And the "olive salad" was really just olive tapenade. BUT.... it was perfect. Mix in the side of pesto pasta and a Mexican coke, and it was triple perfect. I sat here until my battery died, then I walked around a little, peeking into a local art gallery slash tattoo parlor and... finally... the new food market! I chatted with the owner for a while, then picked up a few snacks for some bluff-bench-sitting.

They carry a bunch of freshly ground nut butters, and they offer them in little trial sizes, so I snatched up some cashew butter and some chocolate peanut butter (o. m. g.). After a few raisins, it was back to the apartment to get ready for dinner at Brewster's.

It was supposed to rain all day. It never did. Then, on our way to New Buffalo, it poured. Of course. But... then the storm took a quick turn south, and New Buffalo was never hit. We got to sit outside on the patio after all. Hooray!

I ordered up an old fashioned on a whim. It sounded mature. Then we nibbled on some salads (house for me, Caesar for Brad). For our main courses, Brad went with the four cheese pizza and I choose the seafood option -- shrimp on couscous with Mediterranean veggies and a fresh peach salsa.

I was telling Brad at dinner how part of the allure of this restaurant is its limited and changing menu -- you never know what you're going to get, and sometimes you have to order something you wouldn't normally choose. But by ordering something out of your norm, you often end up with a pleasantly surprising tasty dish. Not that I would think this dish wouldn't be tasty, but at an Italian restaurant, I'm more likely to make the obvious choice. But here, with only a few entrees to choose from, this was the only veggie option. And it was just perfect -- even with the peach salsa, which I was unsure of. Extra props for taking the dang shrimp tails off for me. I hate having gross shells in my food, even if it is the "classy" way to cook shrimp! My only complaint was the fresh parsley, which I really just hate hate. Ugh. But there wasn't enough of it to really tick me off too much. Brad also loved his pizza, even rating it higher than the lasagna he had (and loved) last time.

For dessert, I was not making the mistake of passing up the homemade cookies again. I chose a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie (and a coffee, too). Num num num num.

As far as birthday dinners go, this was on the light side. But I still felt a little overstuffed, so I convinced Brad to walk down to the beach with me.

Good thing we weren't planning on swimming!

We took in the sunset, skipped some stones, and talked about how awesome it is to have such accessibility to beaches. Maybe someday we'll even sell our house and get to move here for real!

Come on 32.... Will you pretty please be a little less sucky than 31? :D

28 July 2010

Woohoo (ish) for 32.

I'm supposed to be "working," but it's my birthday, so I can blow it off for a few minutes if I dang well want, right? I would obviously prefer to be spending the day at the beach (I am in St. Joe for a few days), but the weather disagrees. The good news is that I anticipated that and spent a few hours at Warren Dunes yesterday. I love watching all the pooches swim (even though it makes me miss my own SO much) and scoot around on the sand. A giant bull mastiff (named Sumo, ha!) and a giant chocolate lab plopped down into the water right in front of and were NOT going any further, so I got to watch them all afternoon. The water is also SO warm, so if you were at all considering a trip to Lake Michigan, this is the summer to do it.

In the evening, Brad and I rediscovered a little cafe in town, an offshoot of a bigger Italian restaurant in the area (we got lunch there several years ago). I could live on sandwiches, and they offer a few lunch and dinner specials, so there's a good variety (including a knock-off muffaletta AND a veggie muffaletta). Brad went with the three-cheese ravioli, which he liked (it had fresh basil on it!), and I decided on the open-faced Italian tuna melt, which was delicious. It had artichokes in it! Yum. It also came with a little side cup of Greek pasta. Double yum. It's one of the few quick in and out places downtown (that is not Jimmy Johns), which sometimes you just want. We had a nice little meal sitting at the bar that faces the street. They also have Mexican coke in a bottle! When we got home, we walked down to our beach and watched the amazing fire red sunset... as well as the hundreds of mini fish hopping around for food. Hilarious!

I started today with a trip to the Wednesday farmer's market, which is really just three or four booths, but they cover the basics. For breakfast, I opted for a homemade blueberry muffin for $1 and a free apricot (when I tried to buy just one, the nice lady just gave it to me -- I'll have to remember to buy something from her in the future). I sat on my favorite bench swing overlooking the bluff and the lake and scarfed them down.

I don't know if it's the tail end of the season, or if it's just how they grew this year, but I'm super disappointed in the apricots I've had. I still enjoyed eating my free apricot, but it had next to no flavor (as did the others I've had this summer). Meanwhile, the blueberry muffin was super tasty and free of the over-sugar, sticky mess commercial blueberry muffins usually are. It was the perfect breakfast, with one of my favorite views in town.

You can't tell from the pic, but I'm at the top of a cliff looking down and out.

Our favorite Silver Beach Pizza adds to the lovely view.

Tonight it's back to New Buffalo for dinner at Brewster's. I can't wait!

26 July 2010

Slumber party massacre.

I love a good theme party. Like love love. And when I realized Brad was going to be out of town the weekend before my birthday, it seemed only natural to have a girly PJ party. And I love PJs. I mean, I practically live in my PJs. So it was the perfect plan.

This past Saturday, I piled Krissy, Alison, Birgit, Melissa, Lisa, Kristal, and Tabi into the house and we got to girls-only pamper-time business. Well, after we worked our way through four bottles of champagne, that is.

Lisa, the box engineer, of course.

Heidi fit right in.

Not only did Kristal bring her killer foot bath...
She gave me a real foot massage!!

And mud masks ensued.
Pictures blurred to protect the innocent. he he he!

Orange nails to match the new party PJs.

And, there was cake. Oh glorious cake.

Melissa slaved over this beautiful watermelon cake, which was also SO tasty! Chocolate cake, and I don't know where it's hidden in there, but there is cherry somewhere. I love chocolate and cherry! I'm the luckiest cake girl ever. :) (And I've still got a huge chunk left. Maybe if Brad is lucky I will share it with him.)

And Of COURSE we had a pillow fight!
Georgie officiated.

This was the perfect way to kick off my 32nd year. Love you ladies!

24 July 2010

Red sky at night.

I went to the movies with my mom last night, and when we came out, there were all sorts of storms going on. By the time we finished dinner post-movie, it had stopped raining. When I got home, I went outside to take a picture of this crazy ticked off-looking sky.

While on the deck, I noticed something strange protruding from our woods and all the way across our yard and into our neighbor's yard.

Why yes, that IS a giant tree. A giant dead tree.

The red tint from the sky emulates my frustration. Did I mention we had a house showing scheduled for first thing this morning and an open house Sunday morning? I woke up this morning and took a peek...

Yep, still there.

Sigh. I am at least thankful that it didn't hit the house. It didn't knock our deck over. But it is still a huge ass tree. In my yard. If the HOA won't remove it, I WILL flip my lid. This will be funny eventually. Like, in 2014.

And, also on the bright side, considering the weather the past two days, I am VERY thankful Lisa S. and I made our 2nd annual AA Art Fair pilgrimage on Wednesday. It was still pretty toasty, but there was a light breeze and it waited to rain until we got home.

Ladies who art fair.

We remembered that the South U area was our favorite last year, so we headed there first. It didn't disappoint. In fact, we went back there at the end of the day to purchase the two items we'd been thinking about all afternoon.

Feed me!

If you look closely, you'll see a little Seymour, nearly giving Lisa a big kiss. I suspect he will have a home soon in Lisa's new garden!

Georgie is everyone's muse!

We make a good team. In and out in a few hours, a nice break for lunch, and, most importantly... Stop for birthday cake at Jefferson Market on the way back to the car!

The little cake boy made my day. Not only did he let me pretend it was my actual birthday, he gave me my cake for free AND guessed that I was 22. He he he. :) I heart Lisa art fair day.

22 July 2010

Three is the magic number.

Happy THREE-YEAR blogaversary* to No pickles, please!!

*I must confess, while I was excited to find a graphic to use, I am disappointed that I don't appear to have actually invented the word "blogaversary." Hmph.

To celebrate, I almost picked up these pickle items to be my blog mascot(s), but then I realized, ew, pickle flavor:

It's hard to believe I've been doing this for three years, but I'm so glad I've kept at it. I do reconsider it constantly -- I often struggle with the self-centeredness of it (does anyone really care what I had for dinner?). But, ultimately, I like to write. I've always been a writer. So I guess you could say I mostly just do it for me anyway. And for those of you that pop by and visit me, thank you for supporting me and humoring me and caring what I have to say (or at least tolerating what I have to say so you can sneak peeks at world's two cutest dogs ever!). Hugs and kisses to you all!

Three years ago today: I was much more of a newlywed than I am now. I was just about to turn 29. Georgie wasn't born. I had a real job. Brad worked at Ford. I ate meat (and worse yet, I ate a lot of crappy not-nice meat). I didn't own a big girl food processor. I had yet to meet a few of my very closest friends. My dad lived in Saginaw. I'd never been to Paris. I had short hair. I didn't know how to knit. I had never stepped on a snake with bare feet. I had a weird pickle complex. Wait, that's still true.... :D For nostalgia's sake, take a peek back at my first post ever! Of course balls is in the title.

20 July 2010

Melting with the homies.

In the midst of all the craziness this weekend, I missed my one-year veggie-versary. A full year. I can't believe it. For the most part, I don't miss anything. And the only things I miss are weird things, like lunch meat. Oh, and gyros. I've had a handful of mini slips, where I had a mini nibble of Brad's lamb or ham and cheese sandwich, but honestly it was never more than a nibble, and it was not more than maybe five times. I have not once put beef or chicken in my mouth, other than when I accidentally had a sip of chicken broth-infused cheddar soup.

It's all for you.

I always intended to go back to my meaty ways eventually, and I still probably will some day. But maybe not. Maybe I will even stop using my leather purses someday. But probably not. (Hey, I didn't buy them!)

As for the crazy, my brain still hurts from it. Let's just say we didn't get our house(s) in St. Joe. And we didn't sell our house in AA after all. Back to square one. If you have any good real estate mojo, please send it our way.

But enough with the crazy. Well, the real crazy that is...

Except for the looney up in Togus.

This Saturday, Rachel took me on the most amazing lovely birthday date. Rachel time, of course + Zingerman's brunch + antiques market bonanza. It was beyond perfect.

I was insanely jealous of Rachel's omelet (damn you, no-scrambly-eggs-having-belly) -- mushrooms, smoked salmon, and pimento cheese. I'm speechless. Come on. (My sunny-side up eggs with oodles of toast were oozy deliciousness, of course.) Funny aside, as we were being seated outside, I said "not in the sun!" And she said, "of course!" And then sat us in the sun (mostly Rachel, who was a trooper). Oh, and our waiter was named Zan. Like Zanne from Friends 'Till the End. Then it was time to melt in the heat at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market.

We've talked about going to the market for ages, and we finally had the perfect opportunity. Hooray for antiques! Dang, I just realized I don't have pictures of my beautiful wares (I'm in St. Joe with Brad right now). But Rachel helped me pick out the perfect Pyrex dish for my fantasy collection -- a mini casserole dish from the 1970s. The dish is bright yellow and the lid has a white sunflower painted on it. Thanks so much, my love. And I will think of her every time I use it. I also snagged a matching yellow mini loaf-ish dish for $5. Score! I can't even describe the variety of items we saw, and the hilarity and awesomeness of it all.

The better to see you with.

And, the piece de resistance, a pooch... in a bowl!!!

15 July 2010

This little piggie.

Today was a pig-out day. I met Kristal for lunch and wasn't even planning on eating, then wasn't planning on eating much, but as soon as I saw what was on the special menu, I was all over it. We went to Jolly Pumpkin (which is growing on me) and there was NO WAY I was not ordering the smoked salmon sandwich with herbed creme fraiche. I mean c'mon! Even Kristal deviated from her regular to order a smoked salmon sandwich of her own.

In all honesty, it wasn't the best thing I've ever had. The salmon just wasn't very strong, if that makes any sense. I love the salty bite of a good smoked salmon, and this was very mild. We both ripped the weeds off our sandwiches. And while Kristal liked the mystery lemon flavor hidden in there somewhere, I really just wanted my salmon, cream, and bread. I would, however, order it again.

For dinner, it was time to head to the D for a belated bday celebration for Tabi. Now that Sara lives in MI, too (woo!), and works downtown, Slows seemed like the logical gathering spot for the three of us. (And, since I'm being honest, I'm not at all totally jealous that pretty soon here, they'll both be working downtown, within blocks of each other. Hmph.) Always fun to think that this is the 21st birthday summer I've spent with these ladies (we all have in-a-row summer birthdays). How old are we? Ha! I'm so glad we still enjoy each others' company after all these years.

Anyway... Sara took my recommendation and got the Yardbird, which is pulled bbq chicken with cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. Tabi went with a pulled pork platter. And I finally got around to trying the Genius, which is a fake bbq chicken sandwich (minus the coleslaw and pickles, of course). You can't go to Slows and not get the mac and cheese, so I got a side of it (seriously, $2.50? Total steal.), as well as a piece of cornbread.

"Are you really taking our picture while we're eating?"

I think everyone was pretty pleased with their food, and I was glad Sara enjoyed the Yardbird. I'm glad I tried the fakie chicken because it was pretty good and the best fake chicken I've had yet. I would, however, ask if they could top it with cheese and mushrooms if I got it again. I had serious Yardbird envy. After dinner, Sara took us on a little tour of her soon-to-be new neighborhood in the D, then drove us over to her new office, which is right on the river. Swanky.

Hello, Canada!

BTW, you will NOT believe what Slows had on their cocktail board. It was a... well, it was so horrible I seem to have blocked the name out of my head. But it had pickle in the title. But it's a cocktail, so I assumed it had to be a funny play on words -- maybe a cocktail with green liquor in it or something. I have a pickle blog! So, of course, I asked what it was. The first thing out of the waitress' mouth was "...pickle juice." I said "STOP RIGHT THERE." I'm still offended. Blech!

The tudors.

Real estate sucks. We didn't get the vineyard house. * sigh * BUT I have closure and I feel ok now. About an hour after was all said and done, we found out that the quiet little street was moments away from oodles of development -- we're talking 100 new houses. Yeah, good riddance to that.

Time to pursue our backup house, which is actually our original no. 1 choice. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for us.

Tudor St. Fenced-in backyard. 'Nuff said.

13 July 2010

Guard dogs.

Already missing this little guy. Think anyone will notice if I stick him in my pocket and sneak him to the beach with us?

I think the pooches will miss the front door most of all. We sure won't miss George barking at every leaf that dares blow by, but there's nothing like pulling into the driveway and being greeted by George's excited spins and Heidi's icy glare. I can't wait to see what becomes their favorite spot at the new house. (And how beautiful is that tree? I had totally forgotten it ever blossomed, let alone mid-summer. What a lovely surprise.)

11 July 2010

Back to the future.

Still waiting to finalize the details of the sale and getting ready to make offer on our vineyard house... And in the meantime, we had two more house showings this weekend -- they were already scheduled, so we went ahead with them. As soon as we came back home Saturday morning after our last ever showing, I promptly made mini messes all over the house and DID NOT PICK THEM RIGHT UP. So liberating. Ironic that now that we've basically sold the house, it finally feels like mine again. That being said, I hate to admit that the fault is all mine for the sad sorry state of our refrigerator.

Even Heidi is disgusted.

At least I have plenty of mustard, right? Ha! Anyway, despite our pathetic provisions, I decided to make Brad a home-cooked meal before he headed back to St. Joe tonight (only one more Sunday separation for us!). I whipped up a modified version of my mom's goulash (which is really more of a stroganoff, but I grew up calling it goulash), which is a meat-y meal. I had a box of fake meat crumbles, so I went with that.


It's not much, but it felt good to cook something, and I LOVE this meal. Like love it love it. Did I love it love it with the meat crumbles? Not entirely. But it was still pretty tasty and Brad liked it, too. I will be enjoying the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, and goulash leftovers are always even better (although growing up, we didn't often have leftovers because goulash is always a huge hit). If you're looking for a quick dinner, try whipping up Patti's Goulash! In a large pot, cook a box of noodles. In a saucepan, brown a pound of meat, salting and peppering, of course. When that's done, dump in a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of potato soup, then two cans of water. Mix and cook until hot. (My mom always added onions, too, but we didn't have any tonight so no onions for me.) When the noodles are done, mix everything together and enjoy the heck out of it.

In cookware news, I scored a few more vintage dishes from my Aunt Sandy:

They match the giant yellow pot I brought home last summer.

Part of a set, this was my grandma's.

And finally, in crafty news... I'm not necessarily the craftiest person. But I love a good project, and I particularly love a good organization project. ESPECIALLY when it involves photos. Currently in my basement are approximately 10 giant boxes of Brad's mom's family photos. The majority of the photos are in those horrible old photo albums with the sticky pages, which is just ruining the photos, and, you know, they're just sitting in boxes in our basement -- I feel so sad for them! So I offered to pull all the photos from the offending albums, organize them (chronologically, of course), and eventually put together a few small albums for Brad to keep. Then I'll pass everything else along to Marc and he can do the same. It will take forever, but so far, I'm making decent progress.

Left, before. Right, after.

I like to organize.

1978 to 1995!

And, just for fun... How cute is that husband of mine!?

Mini pimp!

So serious.

I worked on the photos from 6 until 11, so now I am going to bed. My back kills me. And the sooner I go to sleep, the closer I am to my mozzarella, cucumber, and tomato sandwich tomorrow for lunch. Mmmm. Sweet dreams!