Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cavalock and The Final Post of The Year

Hey, Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone out there!

I'm grateful for whatever holiday activities that come my way. Since I became a full-time (unpaid) caregiver my social circle has kinda, well, more or less vanished. No more office gatherings, after-work parties, etc. I suppose there's some good and bad there. Anyway, I got a Christmas eve invite to a prim and proper dinner event with a new group of folks. I was initially a little apprehensive and cautious, worried that I might have forgotten my social graces over the months. But seriously, I had a good time, amazing home-cooked food (S$23 live Boston lobsters!) and of cos new, interesting company. Couldn't really ask for more on Christmas eve.

I thought I would do a little rundown on some of the cool things or activities this year that I really enjoyed. Figured it might help brighten my otherwise dreary caregiving days when I look back.

Back in September there was the bread making class where we learned how to bake challahs, baguettes and little soft buns. That was a really fun experience and I only wish I had to opportunity to make some more besides this. Printing this photo book bout my 80-year-old Dad's wildlife photos was a neat highlight too. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy? ;)

This was the year that I really went full hog on my boardgaming hobby. Funded four boardgames on Kickstarter and so far two have already arrived. Bought almost a dozen new ones as I slowly build a nice little boardgame library so that if anyone wants to drop by for a game, there'll be plenty to choose from. I really think if more people would take the time to play today's boardgames, they'll really enjoy them. I mean, boardgames aren't like Monopoly or Scrabble anymore. If you think boardgames are still like that, it's like saying all movies are like Gone With The Wind. There are soooooo many different boardgame genres out there. Let's see, some of the better games I played this year include The Downfall of PomPeii, Love Letter, Lords of Waterdeep with Scoundrels of Skullport expansion, Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Elder Sign with the Unseen Forces expansion and a whole buncha others.

Then there's my new Lego hobby which I only started in the middle of the year. In one fell swoop, I spent about S$800 on those three Lego buildings in a single purchase from the back of a BMW. Really. Some of the guys are already hardcore Lego collectors so it was pretty easy for me get started on this. Recently we all went all-out on the fake Lego superhero minifigures. That was fun as it was not unlike the time over decade ago when we were going crazy over Mage Knight miniatures.

There were more than a few little moments in the year that I recall fondly. Like the half day trip across the Causeway, the fancy hospital staycation, winning the Star Wars LCG lucky draw twice in a row and selling old family vintage relics at my flea market stall on a hot Sunday afternoon. I guess compared to a lot of my peers and ex-colleagues, those don't seem like much but when you are a caregiver with only a handful of choices available, I'm so thankful for every moment that makes me happy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cavalock and The Pomegranate Reconciliation

Not many folks know this but you can actually grow pomegranates here in our weather. I know that for a fact cos we grew them back in the old family home and I would snack on them when I was kid. Now they weren't as big as the US ones you find in the supermarkets today but still there's something to be said bout the joy of eating something you grew in your own little garden.

So when I saw these big babies at the local supermarket, I figured why not try to see if a bite can take me back to my childhood. Here's a pretty neat link on what you can do with the pomegranate. Well, the arils are still as juicy and crunchy as ever, kinda reminds me of cranberries now. High in antioxidants and helps lower blood pressure, definitely worth grabbing a couple more the next time I'm at the supermarket.

Now I know some of you (if there are still any!) reading this who are probably sick of my fak ... I mean, "customised" Lego minifigures updates but I just can't help myself! We got a call from the auntie that they got a new shipment and almost instantly somewhere on this little island, a group of working adults, some married with kids, immediately cancelled their working lunches and made a beeline to the shop. At only S$1.80 each and with the real deals going for like S$20 each, how could we resist?

We figured there's gotta a leak somewhere in Lego that the factories in China are coming up with designs that are that close or accurate to the comic books. The entire Green Lantern figures based on the Brightest Day saga? Come on, I really find it hard to believe that someone in China some factory executive read the series and decided to make figures outta it! Some of these aren't even released as an official Lego minifigure (yet?) so there's gotta be someone, probably in the US who's supplying the factories with the prototype designs.

DC Comics' Secret Society of (Customised) Super-Villains: (Top left to right) Cyborg Superman, Bizarro and Two-Face. (Bottom left to right) Atrocitus, Sinestro and Joker.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cavalock and The Great Customized Minifigure Roundup

Looks like almost all our cakes are baked and delivered just in time for Christmas! Another huge thank-you to everyone and we really love all your wonderful compliments! Check this out, you got your sour cherry pie, pear cake, rum-soaked fruitcake and orange sugee cake.

I must admit that the holiday season can be a rather depressing time for us caregivers but I promised a long time ago not on dwell on unpleasant stuff in this here blog so allow me to totally geek out on a awesome day out with the guys. Started with an afternoon of boardgames with the couple of the guys at my place where we played Elder Sign and Core Worlds. Then we headed to the east to meet the rest of the gang for dinner and more importantly, to grab these fak... er... I mean customised Lego superhero minifigures!

Yes, these are technically not fake or counterfeit Lego products cos if you look at the packaging, no where does it say Lego. Making or customising your own lookalike Lego minifigures is actually a popular and legit thing among collectors. Apparently a bunch of enterprising guys in China decided to customised a whole bunch of Lego minifigures and sell them at very reasonable prices. So there you go, these are just ... er... customised minifgures. :P

In my previous post, I showed some of the ones I bought. Well, after our boardgame session at my place, we went and bought a ton of them at this little shop that had hundreds on sale including customised crowd favourites of Star Wars characters. It's the freakin' motherlode!!!! We spent over S$400 cos the auntie shopkeeper charged us only S$1.80 each! At that loooow price, we practically cleaned out half the shop. Some bought them as holiday gifts for kids or colleagues, others to make little armies or chessboard pieces. I grabbed just 10 boxes including a complete set of Le ... I mean customised Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles minifigures. I love these Turtles and they come with their own skateboards and pizzas!

If you guys like these customised Lego minifigures from good ol' China, check out my other posts, here, here and here!

Lookit them pesky turtles skateboarding through the neighbourhood!  

Rooftop chase scene!

A Weapon X reunion tour!

Thor and Loki! Brothers on a balcony!
Super-villain team-up! Cyborg Superman and Bizarro go up against Green Lantern! Apparently Green Lantern and Bizarro are Comic Con exclusives and there is no official Cyborg Superman Lego minifigure yet. 
Then what greeted me back home was one of the games that I backed on Kickstarter couple months ago. The Agents finally came although the box was pretty banged up and contents a bit wet. Seems like the package made a slight detour to Israel. Interesting and unique game mechanism where different effects are triggered depending on how and where your cards are placed.

There you go, a rare yet totally geeky day and nite out with the guys. Wish there were more days like this. Like I said, the holiday season can be a downer especially if I go on social media and see someone's vacation pictures or even of office parties. Been more than a couple years since I went to a Christmas party too. I guess you kinda get cut off from meeting your peers and colleagues if you are a full-time caregiver. I tell myself there's a bright side to all this like spending time with my elderly family members but sometimes I do feel like I need a break.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cavalock and The Canned Chardonnany Complex

Chardonnay in a can! And just in time for Christmas too! This latest offering from Japanese brewery Kirin caught my eye in Meidi-Ya recently. Nah, I didn't grab a can although at a little less than five bucks, I thought it's a pretty good deal. A little history bout the Kirin canned chardonnay, it was first introduced way back in 2003 with 5% white grape juice.

As usual, spotted lottsa other snacks that I don't think I have seen elsewhere. There's some new veggie Pretz sticks, cans of coffee with Japanese celebrities on them, crazy chutney flavours as well as fruit and ginger nuts digestive biscuits. I say if you wanna throw a party and are bored with the usual snacks at NTUC Fairprice or Cold Storage, then you can find some really funky stuff here. Trust me, your guests won't stop talking bout the canned chardonnany for days.

Time to geek out now with these "Lego" minifigures I bought for less than 3 bucks each! Well, if you are a Lego collector, you would probably be able to tell that this ain't the real deal, yup, they are knockoffs, fakes or copies of the very popular Lego superheroes minifigures lineup. But make no mistake folks, these are very good copies. The design and look are all based on actual existing figures so they are all almost spot on. Now since the official Lego superhero minifigures usually come as part of a Lego boxed set, it's not easy to find them sold as singles and even if you do, they ain't cheap.

The above Bizarro (evil fake Superman, hah, fake fake Lego Superman! Hey, is that an oxymoron?) minifigure is based on an exclusive Lego piece that was only released during Comic Con 2012. You can spend hundreds of dollars to get the real deal on eBay or just pay over two bucks for a pretty damn good copy of one. A lot of my friends are buying them up like hot cakes; as gifts to kids, for checker board pieces, office display, etc. It's always great to find a cheaper alternative!

I got me a classic blue and grey Batman too. Kinda weird to see a Batman figure come with gun accessories. Bizarro came with the Krytonite crystal. Then the day after I bought the DC minifigures, I found good ol' Thor on sale for only S$2.50. Wish I could find Loki too and yes, there are fake Loki minifigures out there. Like I said, if you are a superhero fan or a Lego fan who don't wanna spend a small fortune on minifigures, and if you aren't that fussy, this is something worth getting.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Cavalock and The Postcard Butterfly Effect

It's getting closer to Christmas and we be baking our ever-popular Bacardi rum-soaked fruitcakes all this week and next. A big thank you to everyone who ordered one (or two!).

Now I actually uncovered this stash of vintage postcards from the old family home couple months back. Tried to find out exactly how old they are but not much luck, figured they are at least 50 years old, looking at their condition and style. They are all from either England or Switzerland. The ones with the little kids or babies do look kinda creepy.

I really like these butterflies postcards cos they are all actually perforated or cut-outs. I gotta be real careful handling them cos it's pretty easy for the cut-outs to fall out.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Cavalock and The Retro Christmas Sale

It's almost Christmas and I'm gonna be putting up some of the vintage retro items that I found in the old family home over the last year!

What we got here is a complete set of Zodiac-themed porcelain plates, mocha cups and saucers from famous German Hutschenreuther brand.

They are all unused and still in their original boxes; I believe they are from the 1970s and each is an exquisite vintage porcelain piece portraying one of the 12 Zodiac signs. They are also part of the "Poetic Porcelain" collection by designer Ole Winther. According to folklore, singles back in the 70s were pretty much into the Zodiac as popularise by that famous pick-up line in bars during that time, "hey gorgeous, what's your sign?" :)

Anyway, back to the plates, I have searched online extensively and I have only seen a few single plates going for about S$40 per piece. But I have also never come across anyone selling whole collections like this. Thus making them the perfect gift for the family who already has everything. Well, I'm selling my family's entire collection for only S$500, that's 36 pieces of designer porcelain at about only S$13 each. I don't intend to sell any singles so that means I won't be breaking the set up.

Don't forget I still got other vintage goodies for sale here and the blue whiskey glasses here are for sale too. All four blue glasses going for just S$32.

So last month I finally made my long awaited MacArthur-like return to Johor Bahru after like decades away. Although we only spent Saturday morning and early afternoon there I really enjoyed myself. The roadside fruits stalls and hawkers all made for a most welcome post-breakfast stopover before we started our shopping. Most of our time was spent at Tesco supermarket or rather the mall that Tesco was a tenant. Once I stepped into the mall, I swear I have never seen so many shops selling smartphone accessories in my life. Plus Beats By Dre headphones going for like S$30 only! Dozens of them in almost every shop! And shops here have the gall to sell them at crazy inflated prices like over a couple hundred bucks! I knew there was no way anyone would be dumb enough to pay over a hundred bucks for a pair of headphones. Hope the shops here learn a lesson from across the causeway and set prices closer to reality. ;)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cavalock and The Uncanny Crab Compendium

Who knew there are so many different local ways to prepare crabs? I sure didn't. Me and the guys were having dinner at Mellben Seafood over at Ang Mo Kio when I saw this at the back of their menu. Some I have tried, others I have never even heard of, like Tomato Sauce Crab and Claypot Curry Crab. Although I don't think I'll be in a rush to try the tomato sauce one.

By the way, the restaurant also has a 'wall of shame' with CTV photos of patrons who left without paying. Most look like PRC couples, hey, just sayin'.

Was going through the old family home kitchen last week and found this lot inside a drawer. I think any collector of beer paraphernalia would certainly appreciate these. Beer bottle openers from Gosser Beer, Amstel Holland Beer, Orange Smash and our very own Tiger Beer.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cavalock goes Back on The Neighbourhood Breakfast Trail

With all the new cafes and hipster coffee joints opening in my neighbourhood of Jalan Besar and Arab Street, breakfast out can be quite an expensive affair especially if you are a big breakfast guy like me. Heard about this relatively new joint along Kandahar Road called Dong Po Colonial Cafe and decided to drop by for a late breakfast a few days ago.

They had that retro shanghai vibe and decor going. I got nothing against that as I don't usually let a restaurant's deco influence my dining experience, yah, I guess that's another reason why I can never be a food blogger. Gosh, ah hear them food bloggers devote a whole lotta big fancy words just to describe the inside of a deli, youse know what ah mean?

Anyway I rather enjoyed my late morning breakfast. The bread butter pudding would fill any mere mortal's stomach but I always knew I was more than that so I had the above kaya toast as well as 2 eggs and a cuppa tea. There's also the almond french toast and a little tea cake which I was told you eat by dipping it in coffee. Total cost was just a little over S$12 for a hearty traditional local breakfast for two, still slightly cheaper than heading to McDonald's. Seeing all that tasty pastries in the showcase is a sure way of getting me over again for another visit in the very near future.

Been a while since I posted any of my 80-year-old Dad's wildlife shots. Besides the Bird Park, he has been hanging out at the Botanic Gardens too. Some friends have suggested that I sell some of his shots as prints, would anyone be interested in them if I do?