Going green

It has always been one of my objectives to go greener, and to be kinder to the environment. In Singapore, it isn't always easy, when the only way I have been taught is to reduce, reuse and recycle (SERIOUSLY, WHAT A TWO DIMENSIONAL CONCEPT) without big initiatives or education policies that direct all individuals. While every child is able to repeat the 3Rs mantra, practising it becomes somewhat difficult, made only worse with the recycling bins in every neighbourhood abused and mistakenly used for rubbish. 

I have attempted to reduce my waste through installing a small-scale recycling system in the kitchen. Every 2 weeks or so, my husband is tasked to carry down our accumulation of plastic and wine bottles. It isn't difficult, just set down to do it, and eventually, the habit will sink in. Even then, I realised that our household consumption of plastic bottles is getting too high, hence the visual reminders placed around the house, to bring along a Nalgene water bottle whenever we head out. 

 
IMG_6041.jpg
 

 

Being a reader of sites such as Zero Waste Singapore , I have been trying to think of ways to tackle my household waste issue and one of the things I have decided to do is to take some of the glass/wine bottles that I have been putting in the recycling bin, and making them into vases around the kitchen and house. It is the simplest of DIY (can I even call it that) ideas, but nonetheless, increases the functional value of the item, and reducing one unit of waste on Earth. I hope that if you do want to start reducing waste, do not be daunted by the big projects you see. Start small, and the results will go a very long way. All the best!

 
IMG_6042.jpg

Sake Bottle

A pretty ornament for my pretty cotton plant. 

IMG_6043.jpg

Beer Bottle

Made more aesthetically pleasing using a Paper Vase Cover. Created by women in the Pardeshi community in Mumbai, India, as a part of the Tiny Miracles Foundation, a Netherlands-based charity, 

 

Inspiration

As some of you might know, I still hold a full time job and this makes juggling my interest on the side, a little tougher. I think  it is enviable how there are many who have dived straight into making their concepts and passion work. I know that it is not easy, and that there will be many setbacks along the way, thus it makes it all the more difficult for me to pursue my DIY adventures on a full-time basis. 

Right now at this point, it is okay for me to fail when a lotion batch that I was experimenting on curdle, or not curdle. It is okay when things do not quite work out, and the nay-sayers tell me I told you so. It is also okay that I spend hundreds of dollars each month on the essential oils, ingredients and packaging, since I have my own back-up. 

Hence, I am very inspired by the Singaporean brands that have made it work, despite the owners having been indoctrinated from young with the idea that we have to be kiasu (scared of losing), and we have to ensure that our paths are already laid out for us. Our Singapore kiasuism features so prominently in our way of life, it is practically coursing through the very fiber of our being. To throw aside this school of thought and pursue my brand full time.. well, I'll get to it when it comes. 

Right now, my only wish is to hone my skills and increase the effectiveness of my recipes. Other than that, all things else... can wait. My wish for you is also to be able to do something that you love. After all, time is limited and precious. 

The wonders of preservatives

Funny how in the beginning of my pursuit with DIY, I was extremely adamant on not using any preservatives in my products. Taking charge of my own skincare meant that everything must be 100% natural. Also, have you not read how they cause cancer! Respiratory problems! Skin allergies! There were a couple of times I read about the near-death experiences (!!) of those who used products that were laden with chemicals. 

Yet, after much extensive reading and research into the world of preservatives, I became more critical of what I was reading, cross-checking with reliable sites and speaking to people in the medical field. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I simply can't make natural products without considering the usage of preservatives, especially if I want them to last for at least 6 months. Unless I make super-small batches, and use them all up in a week or two, I cannot guarantee that the nasties will not be incubated in this perfect breeding ground full of moisture and nutrients that promote their growth.

At least, I comfort myself, I know the amount of preservatives I use is minimal, usually kept to 1-2% of the whole product or even less. If you check the product label of the Big Boys, you will find that more often than not, they can go up to 8-10% of the entire content, which in itself can be toxic over time. However, if you still choose convenience over control, it's okay! I won't judge. 

Let me end off today's post with a recipe that you can try on your own, inclusive of preservatives. I have tried this myself, and made some changes to the recipes I took off the net, and am currently in my 2nd week of usage. If you choose to omit preservatives, you have to make sure that your product does not come into contact with water, and is stored in the refrigerator immediately.  This will also affected its "whipped" texture. 

 

* I will only start posting photos of my process once I get past the embarrassment of my (lack of) photography skills.

** After reading through the recipe below, many of you will realise that it is quite a hassle to make your own lotion. Feel free to buy from your local stores, or if you are game, sign up for my hands-on workshop on making lotions here. (Selling koyok, hoho!)

 

Moisturising Hand and Body Lotion
Adapted from: myhealthygreenfamily.com and livesimply.me

Ingredients

  • 60 ml jojoba oil
  • 30 ml shea butter
  • 2.5 tsp pure beeswax
  • 30 ml distilled water
  • 5 drops rosemary extract or vitamin E oil (optional, may help extend shelf life if you do not use preservatives)
  • 10 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)
  • 1% of a preservative such as optiphen

Directions

  1. In a double boiler (I don't have one, so I have fashioned something similar by placing a stainless steel bowl in a pan of boiling water), melt jojoba oil, shea butter and beeswax. Stir gently until the solution is clear, and set aside, allowing to cool to about room temperature.
  2. Add in rosemary extract or vitamin E oil, essential oils (I used lavender and lemon), and optiphen during the cooling down phase.
  3. Ensure that the mixture is cool enough by using a clean finger to press down on the emulsion. It should be semi-solid but soft to the touch. Begin blending with either a mixer or a stick blender. ( I have both, but the stick blender is much easier to clean as it is less messy)
  4. Pour distilled water in a slow, continuous stream while still blending. You can choose to add in less water if you prefer a thicker consistency. Continue to blend your mixture for a couple of minutes to get the desired fluffy texture.
  5. Store in a sealed container (100-120ml) for up to 6 months.  Refrigeration will help prolong shelf life if you choose to omit the preservative.

Why natural?

This is a question that people have asked me, and on certain days, I have also questioned my personal choices. Doing DIY and the concept of simple simply do not go along.

All too often, I find myself having to check my supplies in the bathroom- is there enough sugar scrub for tonight? Will the hair serum require refilling? Must I make another batch of handwash for the common bathroom? If I think back about it, I used to spend 10 minutes at the store picking out items that I require pretty easily. With this DIY journey, I can spend at least half an hour each time mixing my little concoctions, with up to an hour needed for complex recipes. 

So back to the original question in the title. WHY?? I think I finally grew too tired of spending hundreds of my money on different products which targetted different symptoms, and when mixed together, may not produce the best results. My basic chemistry isn’t all that great already and to look at the myriad of ingredients and chemicals that go into every single one product is intellectually impossible pour moi. 

As I have shared in my previous post, I love the creation process and I love crafting, thus the hours spent in my lab-kitchen are made even more meaningful, especially knowing that my husband fully supports my decision. On a side note, I used to (overly) enjoy playing The Sims, and controlling every aspect of my Sim’s life- like when to go to the toilet, hoho! Hence, having that little bit more control of what is slathered on my face and body is extremely gratifying for me. Control>Time. Simple math. 

Hello, and welcome.

Ah, it feels good to write again. Being able to do it here, reminds me of the times when I blogged almost every day, details down to the mundane. It was wordpress and blogspot then. When the posts were lost due to changes to the web hosts, I was devastated. Here's hoping that with this domain, everything will remain.

Well, that's me. Off on a tangent. The icon you just clicked on was (is) me on my wedding day three years ago. Even then, I was always in love with DIY and crafting. With the help of my lovely friend @knottedbows, we made the bouquets for my wedding, and the corsages for the groomsmen. I guess venturing into essential oils and beauty care seemed the next step, especially when my sensitive skin always flared up with a change in the environment. I was introduced to Young Living by my awesome friend and colleague @un.masque and have since explored the realms of Wild Products Singapore and Aura Cacia. 

I just wanted to welcome you, the reader, to my humble blog with this really short post. To also lessen any confusion, I’m the wife, Carol, of the husband and wife team. I create. The husband provides logistical and marketing advice, as well as the occasional muscle.  

To end off, here's one super simple way that I have incorporated essential oils into my everyday routine.

Peppermint massage recipe