Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cavalock and The Spooky Frozen Halloween Special

It wasn't an easy week when it came to my caregiving duties but I made a promise a long time ago, for my own sanity, to not harp about what ails me here. Instead of our Halloween cookies this year, we managed to bake these iced cookies *see what I just did there?* in our tiny apartment kitchen and handed them out for free to some of our friends' kids.

When the opportunity to do a Frozen cookie theme set came along, the tough part was figuring out what kinda images were the easiest as well as most attractive to design. The sisters' faces were too complex to recreate with the icing, so it looked like the next most identifiable trait were their outfits. The dresses weren't exactly easy but they were at least manageable and we thought the ice sprinkles on Elsa's gown was a nice touch. Check out the hand drawn pattens on her sister's dress, that wasn't exactly a piece of cake either.

And there's Olaf of cos. Believe it or not, according to the baker at house, Olaf was the hardest to create as he was all freehand and without the aid of any tracing lines to guide the design. Good news is we just got a video from a little recipient of the Frozen cookies and she absolutely loved them!

Since this is a special Halloween post, I thought maybe I'll post some of the more creepier things I found recently in the old family home. Can you guess what's in the little plastic tumbler? I couldn't at first, until the baker in the house told me what they were after examining them for awhile. Answer at the end of the post! ;)

Now what we have below is apparently a pack of animal claws. Could be tiger or bear? After some research, it appears that back in the day, they were commonly used in pendants to be worn by children as some sort of talisman to ward off evil. Since I'm the only child in the family, I would assume that these claws were meant for me but as far as I can remember, I never worn any talisman when I was a kid. So who or what were they exactly for?

Well, this is to some people probably the creepiest thing I found in the old family home (yet). My old teddy bears! I believe they are at least 70 years old as they were already rather 'seasoned' when I had them as a child. Don't ask me how but they were still in such an uncannily sanitized condition when I found them in an old suitcase about a month ago. Neatly wrapped with no foul odours or blemishes and like captured in an almost bizarre state of suspended animation. They were just like the day I last saw them decades and decades ago. The blue larger one below is actually a wind-up musical bear that plays a lullaby when you turn the key behind him. I got chills down my spine when I heard how crisp and clear the music was again. There were no creaks or lapses when the lullaby was playing. Extremely eerie but equally cool.

In case you are wondering, I never named them. A trenchcoat-wearing practitioner of the occult once said that there is "power in naming". Maybe as a child I did the right thing by not naming them but that is not to say that someone else in the past didn't name them.

Alright, as for what's in the little plastic timber, those are .... gold teeth!!! I have no freakin' idea who they belonged to. Maybe my granddad or someone further down the family tree. I dunno but ... geez!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cavalock and The Case of The Curious Mementos

I must have strolled past Maison Ikkoku a dozen times over the last few months but never found a reason to drop by this popular bar cafe along Kandahar Street until last weekend. A casual suggestion by a friend and we soon found ourselves heading to the cafe for a lazy late breakfast. It's a pretty small and comfortable joint which I suppose puts it in the cosy category. Wasn't in the mood for anything too heavy so I picked the french toast with berries from their all-day weekend menu. It came nicely drenched in maple syrup with a generous serving of berries on the side as well as a dollop of creamy vanilla mascarpone. Yup, it's tenaciously sweet but not that much till it overwhelms me. A very satisfying breakfast that is now giving me ideas to drop by again to try their bar selection one evening.

Now my Facebook friends would likely have already seen this, but I thought I'll just post some of the more intriguing items that I have recently uncovered in the old family home. Shifting through a rusty tin box filled with dozens of faded black-and-white photographs and enigmatic handwritten notes, I found an official-looking document that I believe is of a sea-faring nature from 1938. Travel papers for a ship? I seriously doubt if they mean someone somewhere owns a ghost ship? Well, I do know for a fact that my granddad was in the merchant marine trade around early last century and that some of the stranger, older artefacts could well be picked up by him during his travels. But it still gives me goosebumps whenever I stumble upon an unknown piece of arcane history.

From 1923, here's a German "Weimar Dresden Devil Satan Anti-Semitic Coin Inflation Money". On the front, it reads 'Whether Jew, whether Christian, the usurer is a scoundrel". On the back it reads, "In bad times, no doubt, is a man of many other devil". Having read books and watched countless documentaries on Pre-World War II Nazi Germany, I am a bit familiar with how such a coin or medallion came about, but what I cannot even begin to fathom is how a member of my family got his (or her?) hands on it. Man, if you think that's the most bizarre or even macabre find so far, well, I got news for you. Not today but maybe someday I'll post a couple of the more outlandish ones here. I have encountered mystic relics, Eldritch tomes and enigmatic maps. Some of which I was discreetly but firmly advised against taking photos of. Really.

A little closer to home now and I still couldn't believe how I dug this out from the bottom of a cardboard box of old books. I was going "WTF?!?" when I pulled it out and only recognised it as the original edition of a book that has been hogging the local headlines for almost a month now. It's the hardcover first print copy of The Battle for Merger written by Singapore's most famous Prime Minister back in 1961. A nice little propaganda piece that has been in the local news lately. To be honest, if not for all the recent publicity, I wouldn't had known the significance of it. It's still in a remarkably good condition, seeing that it's over 50 years old. Better shape than the author I guess.

One last thing. I am thinking of setting up an Etsy page soon. Several friends have mentioned that I should try to sell my wares there instead of just plugging them all on Facebook. One of the reasons is that I have noticed that most locals aren't interested at all in such remnants from the past. Here's hoping that I can raise a little cash by casting a wider net overseas but do let me know if there's anything you fancy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cavalock and One Week in Sillypore 11

Some ups, some downs. I guess you could say that this past week was just like any other week and you know what that means! Yup, the perfect excuse to do another of my 'One Week in Sillypore' schtick. On the home front, it was a visit to the Dark Side as we got these Darth Vader butter cookies rolling outta the tiny apartment kitchen and to another little kid's birthday party. We just got the Star Wars cutters earlier this month but each piece here still had to be individually hand-painted. Sure hope the kids like them!

Being home alone means another chance to put together some easy dishes. I know the below pix ain't gonna win any points for plating but it sure tasted great. My own version of cioppino. Thanks to the Internet, putting it all together wasn't that difficult. Mine was a fisherman's stew filled with chunks of codfish, scallops, prawns, onions, potatoes and a carrot. It was a hearty dinner for one and it certainly kept me from going to bed hungry that night. I sure miss cooking at home!

Never been a fan of Korean food but I'm slowly getting there. After my brief Korean immersion in New York, I kinda developed an affinity for their BBQ beef. So here's a nice Korean joint in Tras Street called Sodam that I would seriously recommend, great sizzling BBQ beef at a reasonable price and really friendly service. To me, it's always a good thing when the native Korean staff recognises you.

Another unforgettable meal of the week was the buffet lunch at The Lime restaurant at ParkRoyal hotel. An enticing Peranakan and Western spread that had me stuffed for the rest of the day. Had the table by the large glass walls facing the sidewalk and observed the many office minions scampering off for their midday meals. Like hordes of mindless rodents fervently searching for their next feed. So animated in their brutish movements and behaviour but still soulless in all their inane conversations. Was rather amused to glimpse a past life that has somehow now slipped beyond my grasp, for better or worse.

Picked up some of the new Lego Series 12 minifigures this last week too. Now I'm talking about the real deal original Lego here, not the usual fake Lego minifigires that I usually buy. ;) Really was looking forward to this latest set simply becos of the facial expressions on some of the new minifigures. Mixing and matching the new and old minifigures' body parts in my collection till I achieved a 'fresh' one. The winking look, the kissy face, the new hairdos, they were all perfect for coming up with wacky dioramas like this Lorong Lego in Geylang. Well, I expect local guys would appreciate this little pix.

So my 80-year-old Dad bought a new Nikon V2 recently as his previous Canon camera was getting too heavy for him to lug around the island. He's still learning to use it and I have been going through some of his wildlife pix. I'm not much of a camera guy, the only V2 I know are the World War II German rockets that rained down on London during the infamous Blitz.

One more thing that caught my attention last week was the news of the hacking and leaking of certain celebrities' nude selfies. Yah, I am aware that the incident was a month ago and it's probably old news by now but I was just reading several articles about it, and noticed something was severely lacking in them. Now I want to say that I do agree that it's a horrible crime and we shouldn't watch or promote the images. 

But no one in the news stories was saying that one shouldn't be taking nude selfies in the first place. I mean I know it's not against the law or anything, and an adult should be free to do anything he or she wants with his or her body. I also know the main message is about the violation of one's privacy etc. and not whether one should or should not take nude selfies in the first place. But shouldn't someone, anyone at least mention in all those articles that maybe (just maybe!!!) taking nude selfies might not such be a good idea to begin with? 

Remember not too long ago when politicians in different countries were caught and chastised for taking nude selfies? Seems like while everyone back then was screaming that politicians shouldn't be taking nude selfies to start with, apparently no one is saying that to the celebrities now.

Far as I'm concerned, taking a nude selfie ranks up there with common sense things you probably shouldn't be doing, like 'get a full face tattoo before a job interview', or 'go skateboarding in the middle of the highway during rush hour' or 'pretend you got Ebola on a crowded plane'. It's common sense advice that any sane mom in the world would tell her kids, "Girl (or son), don't you go taking naked pictures of yourself! Y'hear me?!?". 

Unless there's a mom out there who thinks it's perfectly alright for their children (grown-up or otherwise) to take nude selfies, then I say folks (men and women) shouldn't be taking nude selfies. I think that's a pretty reasonable benchmark, if mom thinks it's wrong, then it usually is! But seriously, are people really that daft and not see the downside of taking nude selfies at all? Or at the very least, stop reporting like it's a normal thing everyone should be doing on their coffee break.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cavalock and The Quest for Singapore's First Bus Guide

When the local press starts calling your neighbourhood a hipster enclave, I guess it's hard not to end up having breakfast in another little chic cafe like L'etoile. I have already been to The Bravery and Chye Seng Huat Hardware for breakfast over the last year or two and while I had no major qualms with the food, I did thought it was a little overpriced. Now I heard that this other joint L'etoile is a pretty cool place to hang out so last weekend we decided to take a brisk 15-minute morning walk from my tiny apartment to the cafe at Owen Road.

I know the cafe has actually been around for a couple years now but it was just a wee bit out of the way for us to drop by on a regular basis. We ordered the banana Nutella french toast to share and an omelette each plus a couple of flat whites. I really liked the toast and bananas, not overly sweet as it had just the right amount of Nutella to go with it. The omelette wasn't bad either although I would have preferred it to be a little firmer. But what I really enjoyed was their upstairs sitting area. Free wi-fi, nice ambience with lots of comfortable seats and a much friendlier layout than the other two previous joints.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been digging through tons of stuff from the old family home and besides throwing out dozens of trash bags filled with decades-old junk, I have managed to unearth several historical nuggets that I think folks out there would appreciate. First up is this tiny bank savings book from Bank of America from 1961 that belonged to my late aunt. Can you believe this, it's all hand-written but that's not what caught my eye. What really surprised me was the twice a year interest! Geez, you sure don't see that happening anymore.

Now here's something else the local history buffs might find interesting. I believe this here is our first local Singapore Bus Services bus guide from 1971. Yup, before your smartphone apps or the pocket guidebook, this is apparently how you find a bus and its route. Well, alright it doesn't exactly spell out the route and it's more like a giant fold-out bus interchange map of the island, but I think that's all they got back then. I tried to Google for more info but I can't find any. Does any of the bus numbers still look familiar to you? Looks like bus number 170 is the Johore bus since day one, same goes for bus number 2 heading to Changi Point.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cavalock and The Moist Diane Hook-Up

I really love the almost never-ending array of cool stuff I encounter at Meidi-Ya supermarket. Even after almost a month away, I know I can always count on finding some uncommon groceries on sale. No idea how them beers taste like but I don't think you can go wrong with names like Proper Job and Old Peculier. And if there are any women out there who are willing to try Moist Diane haircare products, let me know exactly how 'moist' she is. ;)

Yah, I know I snapped a pix of the Rude Health products before but this display looked too good to pass up. Besides who knew they also had chips by Nando's as well as bottles of a new Dry version of Calpis Soda.

One more thing that I needed to catch up on since coming back home was the new releases of my favourite fake Lego minifigures ... opps, I mean customised Lego minifgures. From the entire cast of DC Comics TV series Young Justice to Marvel characters like Bullseye and the Punisher, these wonderful Chinese companies have managed to come with some of the more impressive Lego minifigures that the official brand has not or doesn't want to do.

Apparently the Chinese are also aware of what a cash cow the Iron Man franchise is. Look at what they just came up with and as far as I know, there are no official Lego versions of these figures (yet). Wonderful attention to details, way cheaper than any real deal and lookit that, they even did a fake Iron Man Mark I figure recently, five years after the first movie! Plus while the big red Hulkbuster armor below is rumoured to be in the upcoming Avengers movie Age of Ultron, the Chinese came up with a giant-sized one first that's based on the popular comic book design. How's that for ingenuity?

Another delightful and memorable experience I had with the fake Lego minifigures was during my time in Gen Con 2014. I brought more than a dozen figures with me and gave them to strangers I met. I handed them out to stunned cosplayers, kids and fellow gamers that, well, look like they could do with nice surprise. Friendly cosplayers who posed for us got one, like when I handed a Jack Nicholson (or was it a Heath Ledger?) Joker minifigure to a Poison Ivy cosplayer or when I gave a young couple wearing matching Red Lantern t-shirts an Atrocitus minifigure. On my last day there, I saw a little kid playing with some Lego minifigures and I gave his dad a Winter Soldier figure. These were all figures that aren't available as official Lego ones and to see all the recipients' faces light up (especially the Red Lantern couple) was priceless!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cavalock and The Home-Baked Edition

As always, there was a flurry of activity in our tiny apartment kitchen over the last few weeks. From iced cookies to our first attempt at baking a Japanese cheesecake, our overworked Kitchen Aid mixer hardly had time to take a breather.

So someone we knew was having an under-the-sea themed kids party and the baker in the house came up with this selection of hand-painted mermaid butter cookies and vanilla cupcakes. We heard that everyone at the party absolutely loved them ...

... alright, so maybe Aquaman wasn't all that pleased.

So what you are looking at below is our second attempt (a day after the first attempt) at baking a Japanese cheesecake. Now a Japanese cheesecake is not as heavy or cheesy as a typical American cheesecake. In fact, it's rather fluffy and almost like a soufflé. Was good but definitely with room for improvement.

It ain't Christmas yet but we started the festivities early for one reason and one reason only. Yup, we emptied seven full bottles of Barcardi Gold rum (only the good stuff!) for our annual Christmas fruitcake bake. Hope everyone likes them!

And just as I was about to finish this post, look what came in the mail today! Fingers crossed that there'll be at least a couple of Star Wars cookie requests next year when Episode Seven hits the big screen.