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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New Mattress…from IKEA?

This week was exhausting. I spent 3/5 days offsite (2 hr roundtrip–too close to justify a hotel, but enough to be a pain when the meeting is 8am to 6pm everyday) and logged in for a few more hours every night to keep my inbox from exploding. Then I had to get 3 cavities filled on Friday (fun, let me tell you, especially when 1 of the fillings fell out when I got home, and the office is closed until Monday). And this morning I took the melon to the vet for his yearly checkup, and my easy-going fuzzy face morphed into this angry, hissing, rage-drooling thing. Which made me feel bad for disrupting the kitty zen that is usually his life–especially when the vet next told me that he had lost nearly a pound in the last 7 months, making him a little too thin. A pound! How?? He eats more than I do!

I went home, stuffed his face and thought about collapsing in bed for a nap. Except my bed is awful. I got it five years ago, and being a cheap innerspring its been in a steep decline for the last two. It’s been really messing up my back, so I’d gone to Sleepy’s last weekend, but was gobsmacked by sticker shock. But a co-worker mentioned that he had an Ikea mattress that was pretty decent at an even better price. A little dubious, I decided to give it a shot.

The nearest Ikea is in Paramus (ok, actually there is one equidistant in Elizabeth, but everyone is pretty unanimous in its horribleness). Its, well, Ikea, and full of clean, white, Swedish modernity, though they appeared to have stepped up their in-store restaurant game–my lunch of salmon with dill lemon vinagrette, lingonberry juice and sweet potato chips was surprisingly good.

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Its very easy in Ikea to get distracted by all the shiny at reasonable prices, so I set my face and made a beeline for the mattress section. I also didn’t like Sleepy’s because of the dizzying number of options –Ikea was refreshingly simple. On the floor, there is innerspring or foam/latex, and only 3-4 options of each. I bounced around and narrowed it down within about 10 min.

The next part was tricky, and what I had been dreading…how to get it to the car. But Ikea helps there too. They vacuum wrap all mattresses into tight rolls that include straps to haul away–it was very easy to fit my final choice (Sultan Morgedal, $299, Firm, Foam, Queen) into the trunk of my tiny subcompact as long as I put the back seats down. And the roll-packing with straps made getting the mattress up the stairs of my 2nd floor walkup much easier than anticipated (a neighbor eyed me dubiously when I declined his help)

I made it!

I made it!

Ikea has a 90 day return policy along with their complimentary 25 year limited warranty, so I’m going to give it a test week. Its about 1/2 as thick as my old innerspring, but feels much more supportive for my back and pretty comfortable so far.

NYC Holiday Market and Eats

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:

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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):

(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):

We even stopped by Insomnia Cookies for college nostalgia’s sake:

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Providence: Arcade Shops

So, yesterday I had an unsuccessful trip to Boston in search of holiday markets.  Part of the failure was due to scheduling issues that delayed me till the market was closed (but really, what weekend market closes at 3:30?), but part of it was definitely a lack of motivation to hurry around once I got out into the dreary, rainy, cold day.  Ugh.  Even a wool coat and waterproof boots can’t make that inviting.

Today was sunny, but super chilly, which was equally effective at sapping my gift-searching strength.  Days like today, I think wistfully of the one winter I spent in Geneva, Switzerland, where the local businesses (including yes, the banks) all put out a giant round barrel of mulled cider or wine, allowing you to hopscotch your way through town with a perpetual steaming cuppa.  Providence doesn’t have that, sadly.

What Providence does have is a covered arcade, so all the sunlight streams in through the glassed ceiling, but all the cold stays out.  If only the arcade was longer.

Kuala Lumpur: Utama Mall

As we have said before, Malaysia is hot. So the natives tend to do one of the following: eat ice cachang, camp out in front of the a/c, or…go to the mall.

Utama mall in Kuala Lumpur is enormous. I’ve been to the Mall of America a couple of times, but the scale of this place puts that to shame. I mean, the entire floor of one wing is a movie theater. Dad, justtwomorethings and I went there one day–after dragging me away from the pet shop at one  of the entrances (they had kitties and a sugar glider, ok?)–to walk around.

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The problem was, due to Malaysia’s continued economic development, a lot of trade happens with the Western Hemisphere. And all that trade brings all the Western brands, which there is a growing demand for in Asia. However, since we all come from the Western Hemisphere, this rendered most of the mall depressingly similar to what we could have gotten back home, size aside.

Dad, admiring a bank of Samsung Curved TVs

Dad, admiring a bank of Samsung Curved TVs

However, there was an interesting little nature exhibit in the middle of the place. It was nice to see an attempt to recognize nature in the rampant stampede toward progress.

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