July 4th Weekend

So my work actually gave us the Friday before the 4th as well as the actual 4th off so…4-day weekend! Since I’ve been here for 2 years but never gone to the beach, we decided to fix that. Justtwomorethings had a good experience with airbnb on her roadtrip–and there was an added plus of finding people that wouldn’t mind a 3rd, fuzzy house guest.

Justtwomorethings: Finding a place that is okay with cats is definitely easier on Airbnb, but the selection is still pretty limited (although dogs seem to be welcomed in many, many places).

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Holiday Shopping in NYC


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.

Holidays 2014

Like Thanksgiving, justtwomorethings and I (and the melon) flew home for the holidays. This time I managed to get a groupon for a charter service out of Morristown–it actually ended up cheaper (since I didn’t have to pay extra for the melon) and included parking, 1 checked bag, and breakfast in the fare. Also, I didn’t have to go through security, and could show up only 30 min ahead of departure.

Our parents greeted us with more wonderful food (including some cute Xmas cookies). Mia, on the other hand, was not sure whether or not to be happy that more human servants were around, or dismayed that the melon keep following her around to tweak her tale and naps kept getting interrupted by forced snuggles/cries of how cute she was (it’s very hard to be a pretty little kitty).

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On Xmas day, we always opened our presents in the morning and then trooped off to the movies in the afternoon. Our parents and I saw the last Hobbit movie–justtwomorethings saw something else, as The Hobbit was her least favorite book. But the day after Xmas, the parents and justtwomorethings took a weekend road trip to Wisconsin in search of cheese and beer while I stayed to look after the cats. I didn’t mind–it was relaxing and I got to cuddle them 🙂

New Year’s Eve and Day were low-key this year–no traveling, so we all got to watch the televised festivities at home in comfortable PJs before exchanging kisses and drinks when the ball dropped (Mango was not pleased to receive a boozy kiss from his mom, and ran away; Mia hid in the guest room).

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Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving and Xmas are the two holidays that our family always celebrate together, in person, at our parents’ house, so Justtwomorethings and I flew home for the holiday. And yes, family includes the kitties, so the melon came with.

This was his first time on a plane–poor little melon was very scared and nervous around the crowds, but he was very good and quiet, and even got smiles from the TSA officials at the security checkpoint. Then he got spoiled rotten by our parents (less so by his little fuzzy auntie Mia, but Mango is content to just stare at her adoringly in a slightly stalker-ish fashion).

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The Thanksgiving dinner (well, actually lunch) was delicious as always. The yummy stalwarts of Dad’s roast chicken and Mom’s stuffing and cranberry sauce was there, but Mom added homemade mashed potatoes, guacamole and cherry wine into the mix. Needless to say, we passed out in a food coma for the rest of the day.

New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve

For the past few years, owing to justtwomorethings needing to catch a flight out of DTW, we have celebrated New Year’s in Ann Arbor. On the Eve, we ate dinner at Weber’s, a local staple. The food isn’t terribly imaginative, but then it’s not meant to be–Weber’s is known for their hearty, traditional Midwestern fare. The place was busy, but the waiter earned his tip checking on us frequently and commenting how much he liked seeing a glowing happy family (the glow may have had more than a little to do with the Merlot, martini and Caribbean Punch on the table).

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You know that you are getting older when you can no longer stay up to midnight without a quick nap–but we all still watched the ball drop on the Rockin’ Eve.

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New Year’s Day dawned bright, white and tremendously snowy. All the NHL fans were happy, supposedly it was perfect hockey weather, but for the rest of us Snow Storm Hercules was terrible. The roads were awful, probably owing to the plowers slow due to the holiday and it being too cold for even salt to do much, though we did venture out for a brunch at Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

Brunch at Zingerman's

Brunch at Zingerman’s

Holiday Week

justtwomorethings and I were able to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so we had a very relaxing time at home.

12/26: Lunch was at home, with leftover pork roast made into pork noodle soup, but dinner at Sweeney’s , a local seafood restaurant that our mom’s friends had recently renovated. We had a very yummy peppermint sundae.

12/27: Day trip to Columbus, stopping first at the Columbus Museum of Art. A rather small place, as art museums go, but it had a cute little Lego art exhibit. After that, we went across town to Graeter’s Ice Cream’s Columbus corporate office. If you haven’t had Graeter’s yet, you should. Their rich, densely creamy ice cream is too rich for all the time, but unique seasonal flavors like eggnog and Aztec chocolate (chocolate with chili and cayenne pepper) is worth the occasional visit.

12/28: Brunch at Cincinnati’s House of Sun for their shaobing yutao, which is this Chinese baked flatbread, but with flaky layers and sesame on top. We stopped by Cam, a local Asian market on the way back for some groceries.

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Christmas Day

justtwomorethings and I had to work on Christmas Eve (boo) so I dashed out of the office yesterday afternoon, grabbed the kitty, a quick nap and a coffee before picking justtwomorethings up from the airport, and driving the rest of the way home to our parents. Mia-cat wasn’t sure if she was happy that she now had more potential human servants or dismayed that we had also brought Mango-cat with us. I shoved my presents under the tree and went to bed.

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Christmas at our place is pretty informal, but we still hold to a few traditions. Presents are not opened until everyone is up, stockings are done first in the family room, then under-the-tree presents on the floor in front of the tree. And yes, the kitties join in, and I was relieved to find that Mia did like her sushi-shaped cat toys from Target. Lunch varies, but always is some very yummy home-cooked meal with an Asian tilt–this year was pot roast with spicy apricot glaze; sticky rice stuffing with Chinese sausage, mushrooms, soy sauce and various other delicious sundries; fish in black bean sauce; and stir-fried watercress. Then, in the afternoon, we went to the movies–Hobbit 2 for Mom, Dad and me, American Hustle for justtwomorethings.

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Lots of nice presents, good fun, and family. Nice!

Post-Thanksgiving Haze

As usual, Thanksgiving feast was so delicious that I forgot to photograph it in the middle of first stuffing my face and then falling into a food coma.  However, I did remember to take pictures of the holiday decorations we put up afterwards (our family is a staunch believer in keeping Christmas boxed until at least the day after Thanksgiving.  The tree:

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

And, since it’s our family, extra stockings for the cats.  Plural.  This photo shows one stocking.  For one cat.  There’s a second (not shown).  For the other cat.  They don’t share.

Cat stocking processed

Admittedly, I did bring something home for the cats myself, though it was as much science experiment as indulgence.  It’s a little stuffed toy chipmunk that raises its head and wiggles its butt when you press down on its back.  As a dedicated reader/mocker of entropyenator’s travails with her adorable little serial killer of even smaller animals, I was curious as to whether the toy would trigger any instincts (in Mango or in the other family furball, Mia, who is has been known to snag a big bug or two).  Sadly, nothing past a careful paw-poke and some wary circling of the little chipmunk.

Family cat staredown

Family cat staredown