Penang, Malaysia

We were recently in Penang, Malaysia for a whirlwind trip, due to some family events.  Usually for Asia trips, we try to have at least a week of actual downtime, just so we have the time to get over the jetlag, but this time we could only manage three full days on the ground.  One less layover, but weirdly, I think I preferred the two-layover flight, since sitting for fifteen straight hours makes you end up with cramps in places you didn’t even know you had joints.  Taking advantage of the airline’s little sleeping cubicles (full bed! not a scrawny twin!) was surprisingly small mitigation.

Still, landing in warm, humid heat was a nice change of pace from the dry cold winter back home.  The humidity was also merely sticky as opposed to a slap in the face, which helped ease the constant wooziness from the jetlag.  We took it pretty easy as well, going light on the tourist activities and concentrating on food.

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Family Trip 2016: Seattle & Pike Place

Now that we are all in separate states–me in NJ, Justtwomorethings in NY and our parents in OH–it takes a great deal more effort to get together. While we still spend Thanksgiving and Xmas together, we also have been trying to do 1 family trip somewhere for a week during the other 75% of the year.

Last year was Hawaii–this year, we decided to try Seattle.

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Adventures in Fostering: Voodoo the Mouse

So I always have had a soft spot for shelter pets and rescues. I mean, who doesn’t? Mia came from a shelter. Mango came from a rescue group. I used to volunteer at a local shelter in Michigan as well. It was just cleaning cages and giving the cats some love while they waited for adoption, but I always wanted to try my hand at fostering too.

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Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour is NYC’s first cat café–a concept brought over from Japan, where living conditions are even more congested than NYC. Sometimes housing units are barely big enough for people, let alone a fuzzy, so city dwellers visit cat cafes to get in their kitty time instead.

Meow Parlour is tucked away in a little corner on the lower East Side, near Chinatown. Its been open for about a year, and yet I hadn’t made the pilgrimage. Surprising, I know. But given the MLK three-day weekend and the fact we were in the city anyway to have lunch with our cousin who lives in the area, it made sense to fix that.

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While we were home for the holidays, we got some visitors…of the fuzzy kind.

Mango, predictably, was very very interested in this quartet of squirrels. According to our parents, they are a little family unit that includes our backyard in their territory. But my god…they were fat little things. When they sat down, they looked like little fuzzy cones. I kinda got why kitty so obviously wanted to go after them (he did not, of course, I kept him indoors). I haven’t seen squirrels this fat since Michigan…though these were cute little gray squirrels instead of the ginormous fox squirrels you get there.

Apple Picking! Pumpkins too.

I went apple picking for the first time last year and definitely wanted to go ahead this year–since Justtwomorethings is hanging out with me, I took her along.

Sun High Orchard in Randolph was the place again. It was a little full, given that this is Columbus Day weekend, and the weather, though starting to dip toward the cold side of fall, was sunny and not too chilly yet. We picked out pumpkins first–and since I had someone to help me this time, I got a big one plus 3 little ones for my front steps. We also picked up a caramel apple and some apple cider from the store before checking out the little bunnies (actually quite big) for the kiddies in the front.

The apple picking itself was a little disappointing. I went a little later this year than last year, but the one variety I wanted–Crimson Crisp–was very picked over already. Practically nothing was left on the trees! I had to scrounge around a little on the ground–thankfully, the ground is moss-covered, so enough apples had fallen unbruised that I could fill my bag. They taste as good as I remember though — very sweet, with ruby red outsides and bright white insides.

Roadtrip: Morristown and Surrounding Areas

Justtwomorethings arrived around mid-day on Thursday–and I felt bad about it since I was still at work and she had to spend 5+ hours wandering around doing god-knows what. So I let her pick the dinner place – the somewhat non-sensically named The Office Tavern Grill – and made it my treat.

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Roadtrip: Harrisburg, PA

I’m deliberately dragging my heels some, since I need to time my meet-up with entropyenator for when she’s not working.  Also, seeing as I’m only a couple hundred miles short of ten large, I’m going easy on the car.  I did take it in for an oil change before I started out on the trip, but I’m about a thousand miles past the next oil change due time, and the car is flashing a reminder every time I start it.  Harrisburg is right off the interstate, and is large enough so that I can kill some time tomorrow before finishing up my drive to entropyenator’s place.

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I located an Airbnb place in the oldest part of town, within walking distance of the Broad Street Market, which dates back to the 1860s.  The immediate area has clearly gone through some rough patches, but it shows signs of gentrifying, and they’ve done some neat repurposing of the larger buildings.  Across the street from Broad Street Market is the Midtown Scholar, a bookstore-cafe-art gallery housed in a historic movie theater, and down the street is The Millworks, which is a recycled factory that now hosts a restaurant and a number of artists’ studios.  What I really like is how these businesses have kept the original bones of the buildings (The Millworks in particular is ugly as sin outside) but have opened up the space so that those bones look striking, and not just industrial.  Rhode Island’s tried to do something similar with its old factories, but in comparison those buildings are dark and cramped and unappealing inside, and really don’t play on the vaulted airiness you can get with an industrial building.

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The Millworks is dedicated to sourcing its food from local farms and businesses, which is commendable, but the output is uneven.  The plates are gorgeous to look at, but they’re a bit lacking in flavor.  Charcuterie plate meats were amazing, with fat wisping away on your tongue, but the cheeses were bland and barely noticeable; my favorite part, though, were the pickled ramps, which went easy on the spices so the innate garlic of the ramp came through.  Smoked beef tacos were completely disappointing, desperately in need of salt.  I did enjoy the wlidflower cocktail (vodka, honey, lemon, lavender, cassis), though it tasted as if a bit of bitter pith had gotten in with the lemon; the honey rounded the vodka nicely, and the lavender was a light note instead of a perfumey blast.  And the dessert, a vanilla custard, was okay, nothing special, and it being made out of raw milk didn’t add much as far as I could tell.