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.
We went home for Xmas again. Mango was quite excited about it…
Though less so for the plane ride to get there. I didn’t quite luck out as much as for Thanksgiving, but there weren’t many people on the plane again so the flight attendant let me keep him on the seat next to me at least.
He did settle in quite quickly once we got home, though.
Bryant Park Tree
Union Square Eats
Santas on motorcycles
Since Justtwomorethings moved to the east coast, the Holiday Markets in NYC have been a favorite of hers to go gift shopping before the holidays. The past couple of years, she has taken me along too, since I’ve been in the area (alas, we always seem to go when Santacon is going on).
The Union Square Market, in my opinion, it still the best, but this year we went to Bryant Park Market as well. Its a bit smaller, but the vendors seem a little more upscale (probably owing to the fact they are housed in little glass huts instead of tents). There’s also a big ole Xmas tree right in the middle that’s decorated up quite prettily.
There are a few traditions we always follow for Thanksgiving:
I went home to visit the parents this past Labor Day weekend, taking the kitty with me. The kitty was not pleased about the plane ride, but did perk up a little in the car on our way to my parents’ house–Mia, on the other hand, alternated between annoyed glowers and resignation the whole weekend.
This weekend, as opposed to other trips home, was fairly low-key. It was just too god-awful hot to do much. We did attempt to go to Kettering’s Holiday at Home street festival on Sunday, but only stayed long enough to chuckle at the ridiculous kitty t-shirts and see the goats before heading back for blessed air-conditioning.
Kettering Holiday at Home Festival
My dad did do his barbecue again, which was amazing, as always 🙂
I went home for the Fourth, packing up the melon for a ride on Ultimate Air Shuttle again (and they are running a BOGO special this summer, so I get a free flight in 2 months, score!). Mango was, to say the least, not a great fan of the experience, but to me it sure beat paying extra for parking, going through the terrible security lines, and having to get up 3 hours earlier than the actual flight time.
Its been about 6 months since I’ve been home, and I think that’s the limit of the kitty memory. Save for Mia. Mango had almost forgotten everything else, but he instantly recognized his little auntie and made a beeline for her furry face–much to Mia’s vocal dismay.
But I did do other stuff besides watch live kitty TV in the house. Every year our hometown shuts down the main road to put on a street fair. Most of it is what you expect from a Midwestern street fair, but its fun and there were some newcomers this year. Also, the fair food–where else are you going to get chips on a stick? Dad also did his awesomely yummy grilling–with an Asian spin, which means thin slices of beef and pork are marinated in soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce, jam and other secret goodness that Dad makes new everytime. This year we also grilled corn and peaches, which took in the smokiness of the meat cooking at the same time to add an extra dimension of deliciousness.
Last weekend was Chinese New Year (ok, technically Thursday was) so justtwomorethings and our parents came to NJ to celebrate with me. The melon was ecstatic and spent the first bit running around, trying to sniff everything and everyone and get into justtwomorethings’ luggage.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, FOOD is a big thing with our family, so we spent the weekend stuffing ourselves. Our best two meals were at Penang and Fatty Crab though. I first took our parents to Penang after picking them up from the airport – we’d never eaten there before, but its right next to the nearest sizable Chinese grocery so we gave it a shot. That was a good idea, because it was quite good and deemed fairly authentic by our Penang-born dad.
Fatty Crab is in NYC. Justtwomorethings and I ate there before, but arrived too early for the dinner service. The bar apps were pretty good though, so we made a reservation for dinner this time. Fatty Crab is more Malaysian-inspired than the true on Malaysian of Penang, but still quite good. Especially the crab of the restuarant’s name–I had trouble with the shell, but the curry sauce was amazing.
The only male I curled up against this Valentine’s Day was my fuzzy melon, but we had sushi, Red Velvet Oreos and Netflix, so it was actually pretty awesome:
There ‘s only about 2 weeks until Xmas, so Justtwomorethings and I spent the weekend in the city to finish up our shopping. NYC is certainly getting into the spirit–besides Santacon (which we, aside the tipsy revelers on the subway, managed to avoid), we were greeted by this at Penn Station:
Grand Central and Union Square were also running their annual Holiday Markets, which are also go-tos for unique gifts. And, of course, food (with the expected fat squirrels begging for tidbits):
Ash-Reshteh: Persian veggie soup
(Justtwomorethings: The mini-donut conveyor line, with its delicious mouthfuls floating across the booth on a small stream of hot oil, was an exercise in temptation. And getting a cup of the Ash-reshteh required a surprising amount of pushiness, with the crowd around the booth) Not that we didn’t explore other places. Republic had some nice Asian style apps and Fatty Crab by our hotel had some very yummy quail egg shooters (their version of a sambal tasting):
Apps @ Republic
Fatty crab Quail Egg Shooters
We even stopped by Insomnia Cookies for college nostalgia’s sake:
While in NYC this past weekend, we stayed at The Jane Hotel. Usually our go to for a quick one-night stay is one of the Pod Hotel’s two locations, but that was all booked up (we think due to Santacon).
The Jane was built in the early 1900s–originally as a boarding house for sailors–and management have consciously kept a lot of the old, historical stuff, like the checkered tile in the lobby, old fashioned bellman uniforms for the staff, and weird things like a stuffed peacock on the wall:
A lot of the quirks too, like cabin-like rooms with bunkbeds and shared shower/bathrooms down the hall (this sounds dorm like, but everything is much cleaner than your dorm ever was). There are even real porthole windows in the doors.
(Justtwomorethings: Space is even tighter than the Pod Hotel, with less than a yard of maneuvering room in front of the beds, and the bedroom to bathroom ratio is way, way higher, something like thirty double rooms per bathroom. And no detectable wifi signal in our room. On the other hand, the towels are better quality, it’s an awesome location if you want to hit up the lower part of western Manhattan starting from West Village and going down, and they provide free water and individual bathrobes and slippers in the room. Overall, the place runs on charm and the odd whimsical luxury; I’d still favor Pod Hotel on getting the most out of my dollar, but The Jane is a fun Plan B.)
The in-house restaurant, Cafe Gitane, continues the theme, with more quirky decor (this time a stuffed alligator on the wall), with a decidedly colonial French/African, sailor/maritime look. The menu certainly is an interesting mix–my orange blossom waffle with bananas and strawberries was a little disappointing (though the syrup in an old ammonium hydride bottle was cute), but justtwomorethings’s baked eggs with Merguez sausage and tomatoes was delightful.