Bring the cafe home

A cafe is probably the most ubiquitous eatery worldwide. True, it is still more a Western concept, but it seems to gain foothold easily in any part of the world. Somehow, it manages to become the hip place to hangout, host a meeting, work, study, settle your meals or just to be by yourself. Practically anything.

Well, now that most of us are in lockdown, what do we do? Why, bring the cafe home! I had this idea since eons ago. It’s actually not cheap to hang around in a cafe. A cup of coffee and a small snack sets you back $7 at the very minimum. $5 for a cup of coffee? That’s almost enough to buy 1 pound of green coffee beans which is sufficient to make 16 cups of double espresso coffee. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Fresh roasted fresh ground coffee. Choose your own beans, even Blue Mountain if you like. Beats what you get in Starbucks anytime.

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Battle of the online Marketplaces

The online marketplaces have seen a boom in their sales volume recently, thanks to the Circuit Breaker measure that has resulted in home-bound people doing much more shopping online than in brick-and-mortar shops.

You may not have noticed, but I’ve seen the online sellers or merchants swing from panic selling to now hiking prices (beer prices especially) and milking the cash cow from increased demand. At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, they were actually worried about holding on to too much stock on hand, and they tried to offload at highly discounted prices. Thankfully i caught some of that action, since I’ve always been buying stuff online. Because it’s cheaper when you buy online!

I thought now is a good time to share my experiences on how you can save when you do online shopping. Probably 80% of the items i buy when shopping at online marketplaces (Taobao isn’t considered one) are groceries, because you need to eat everyday right.

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Battle of the Supermarkets

Not sure if you feel the same, but once taken-for-granted, now the Supermarket has become almost a sacred place. You need to queue to get in, and, I’m not sure about you, once inside, I don’t just hurriedly get the stuff in my groceries list. I would scan the shelves to see if there is anything I missed out. In doing so, i actually take more notice of all the items on the rack. It suddenly dawns on me that everything that sits on the shelf serves a purpose, their value finally given recognition. We should count ourselves blessed for having such a varied and diverse range of food items, don’t you think?

So, do you stick to a certain Supermarket for your groceries? I’m pretty sure NTUC FairPrice is still the more popular one for most people. Fairprice is unbeatable when it comes to cleanliness and tidiness. But that is something i can easily forgo in favour of value and convenience. So, I’m going to tell you what i think of the other popular Supermarkets.

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Stay at home, cook at home!

It was almost exactly 4 years ago when i said everyone must learn to cook. In some ways, the predictions i made back then came through. We have actually arrived at that point in time when people started getting worried about food security.

If you hardly cooked before this, now is a great time to start! Train yourself to be able to feed yourself – i see this as an essential skill everyone should have. Being able to feed others is a good idea too – meeting someone else’s basic needs is a great way to serve others don’t you think?

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DIY clock repair

The current Covid-19 situation is teaching us many lessons about life, one of which is, we really don’t need that many material things in life. Instead of throwing away your old but still functional items, consider making do. Instead of replacing broken down items, consider repairing. This has always been my principle in life.

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Taobao product recommendation – Oil sprayer

Years ago, i bought an oil sprayer, but it was soon left in the dust. It really didn’t work so well in that you don’t get an even misting. Fast forward to today, oil sprayers have improved quite a bit. The main reason i abandoned the idea of the oil sprayer was that the oil became rancid very quickly. However, i recently realized that this problem can be overcome by storing the oil sprayer in the fridge. Simple as that. I felt it was worth trying out the oil sprayer again.

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Taobao product recommendation – Mini Wash Ultrasonic washer

I came across this “new” gadget on Kickstarter that uses technology I’ve never heard of – Ultrasonic cleaning. It looked really impressive, but by now, it’s become a reflex for me to be suspicious of products on crowd funding platforms. True enough, this was one of those many products being launched on Kickstarter simply for exposure rather than to kickstart a built-from-scratch brand new idea. Indiegogo is much worse in this respect, they advertise products that have been around for a long time, and sell the products for many times more than what you could get them for on other retail websites.

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Taobao product recommendation – Aircond remote control

The aircond remote control is one of those things that’s bound to become spoiled after some years of usage. The LCD becomes illegible. Thankfully, you can find compatible replacement remote controls from Taobao.

I’m sure most people would prefer to buy a remote control that looks exactly the same as the one its meant to replace, but for the savings i am able to enjoy by buying from Taobao, i don’t mind slight differences. The remote control i got has an extra heat mode, which obviously doesn’t apply in this part of the world. But hey, it’s in English, and that’s more than good enough for me.

For 15.80 Yuan (S$3.15), and including shipping, it still works out to be cheaper than what you can find on Shopee or Lazada. I also got a “universal” fan remote control. Unfortunately this one didn’t work with my EuropAce tower fan. Oh well, for 7.6 Yuan (S$1.50) it was still worth trying.

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Taobao product recommendation – Piano humidity controller

The relative humidity in Singapore typically ranges from 50% to 100%, and this is not very good for keeping pianos in optimal shape. According to Steinway, the most favourable environment for a piano is a relative humidity of 45% to 70% and a constant temperature of 20°C. This is only possible if air conditioning is turned on all the time, which is not feasible for most people.

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Taobao product recommendation – Tamagoyaki pan

To make Tamagoyaki, you really need a special pan. You need a small pan so the eggs would be thick, and it has to be rectangular or square so you can make a roll out of it. I needed little convincing to buy one of these pans on Taobao.

If you’re lazy to do parcel forwarding, you could buy from Shopee and the like. However, the cheaper ones you find on these local marketplace platforms are the ones with coloured bottom (green/pink). I don’t like these, they look unprofessional. I rather go though a little bit of hassle and buy the stone coating, or the really made-for-Japan ones.

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