May 2015

It is not often that I am inspired to document what I ate for lunch, so when the inspiration strikes I have no choice but to follow. Here it is, a lunch for two:

Lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon

  1. Mashed Potatoes (boiled potatoes mashed with milk and butter and chopped rosemary from the garden)
  2. Stir Fry (of yellow zucchini, carrot, yellow cherry tomatoes, onion, and tempeh; seasoned with basil leaves from the garden, garlic, asam leaves, dried chilli and mushroom dark soy sauce)
  3. Salad (of yellow cherry tomatoes, cucumber, basil leaves, olive oil, and one of my dad’s homemade salted eggs, shredded)
  4. Potato Soup (byproduct of 1., basically salt and potato water)

The salad was a bit of an experiment because I had never tried salted egg in a salad before, and I’m happy to report that it tasted like cheese in the salad and not weird. There was a faint hint of duck. No salt was required and the dish had just the right level of saltiness. I guess it’s also because the salted egg was homemade and not overly salty. The stir fry and mashed potatoes were good as usual.

We ate in the balcony, with the company of three sleeping cats and a breeze circling my little garden of edible plants. When we finished, a high five was administered – followed quickly by a comatose nap curled up on the couch.

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.

I pretty much abandoned my skincare routine upon return from Europe and have been breaking out with acne because of negligence, stress, and sleep deprivation. Also I was feeling a little icky about using my toner (there was maybe a quarter left) because it had been a long time. I guess I’m paranoid about nasties growing in homemade products which are not supposed to last for long! So here I am, making a fresh batch.

For reference, here is the first attempt. I realise that these posts are a little technical but maybe it might help some others (or myself in the future) to make a better product.

Preparation Stage

I decided to base this recipe mainly on the past recipe that I had used, and added the below changes:

  1. Less humectant (glycerin) because it did feel kind of sticky on the skin and I think that the glycerin was probably the cause.
  2. Also, we’ve repaired the slow cooker so presumably we can do the heat and hold process without the stove (which might make it easier to maintain the temperature at 70deg C); and
  3. I have also got a new stock of liquid aloe vera gel which I am going to completely replace the green tea, I wonder if the aloe gel will change the viscosity of the end product (by itself, the consistency is not too viscous), but I’ll never know until I do it.
  4. Oh another update is that I finally got a digital scale. I wanted to get one that was accurate to 0.1g but ended up mistakenly getting one that was accurate to 0.5g only, which is a little annoying, but oh well. At least it was cheap.

So, the current recipe is this:

Water-based ingredients

  • 30% witch hazel distillate
  • 60% aloe vera liquid gel
  • 3% glycerin

Oil-based ingredients

  • 2% vitamin E
  • 2.5% solubiliser (Polysorbate 20)

Cool down phase:

  • 0.5% essential oil – lavender and tea tree oil, each 5 drops
  • 0.5% preservative (DMDM Hydantoin)

Heating Up Stage

I placed the 3 beakers (water-based ingredients, oil-based ingredients, and some extra aloe vera gel for supplementing the amount evaporated) into the slow cooker, poured in some boiling water and am waiting for the ingredients to heat up to 70deg now for the heat and hold stage, so I’ll take down some notes so far.

  1. I must be the worst chemist ever.

So I very carefully measured the witch hazel and the aloe vera gel, 30g and 60g respectively, and was quite pleased with myself.


And so, my overly confident self eyeballed the glycerin and put in a whole table spoon – and watched in horror when it came up to 6.5g. I had effectively put in 6.5% of glycerin when the plan was to put 3%. Fuck fuck fuck fuckfuckfuckfuck was the marquee in my head as I realised that there was no undo button. And not 10 minutes ago I was solemnly vowing to use less glycerin this time!

I would have to double the amount of everything. So I transferred the liquid from the small beaker to the big, and carefully poured in another 30g of witch hazel and 60g of aloe vera gel.

Then I set it aside. For the oil portion, I put in 2g of Vitamin E and 2g of argan oil, since that we’re now doubling the oil portion, and then 4g of Polysorbate 20. And while measuring these other ingredients, I was so intent on getting the exact measurement (well, up to 0.5g) that… TWICE, I forgot that I was holding the oil bottle in my left hand (while dripping the oil into the container with a pipette with my right) that I accidentally tilted the bottle and spilled oil over my work desk. Twice.

It is lucky that I am not working with any corrosive acid, and no harm is done besides the fact that my work desk is now an oily desk. Aiyo.

Anyway, the slow cooker has been making the process rather slow and the thermometer shows that it’s barely 70deg and so I can’t start counting my 20mins yet. I’ll go check again.

Cooling Down Stage

So the heat and hold process was duly done, and after the 20 minutes was up I took everything out of the slow cooker. I had forgotten to measure the actual weight of the 400ml beaker and therefore had to transfer the liquid out into a bowl to measure it, but now I know, for future reference, that it is 147.5g. Only 176.5g of the water was left, meaning that 10g had evaporated, so I added the extra aloe gel (also heated and held) in there. I had prepared a 40g extra but I guess next time I don’t need that much. I’ll probably use the excess for a mask or something later.

I stirred everything up and left the concoction to cool down to 45deg, upon which time I can add in the preservatives and essential oils. I’m not going to experiment on the essential oils, so it will be lavender and tea tree oil again. I put about 1.5g worth of essential oils (about 20 drops of tea tree, and 10 drops of lavender)and bottled them. So I have about 200g of toner now, which means that I’ll need to use them quite regularly to finish it. I’ll probably freeze one of them.

Bonus Stage: Face Mask

Since I have about 30g of aloe vera gel (and this stuff is expensive) I will use some of it for a mask. There are 3 ingredients to this mask: French green clay, French red clay and aloe vera gel. Basically what you do is to put about a table spoon of clay in, and 1.5 table spoons of aloe vera in, and realise that it’s too watery to put on the face, then put in some other amount of clay until the consistency is like yogurt and it won’t slide down your face. That’s basically what happened in my situation. The choice of red + green is simply because I have some at hand. I also have kaolin clay which is white.

Just wait until there’s a tight feeling on the face and it looks like it’s drying and then you can wash the whole thing off. In general I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave it on for more than 10 mins. For my skin the red clay seems to make it red (flushed, not dyed) within an hour of washing the mask off, I’m not very sure why it is, the green clay seems to be milder. I wiped my face off with a warm towel and proceeded to use the toner that I had placed into the freezer for a quick cooling down. The coolness felt good on my skin, and there was no stickiness, so I think it was a good call to lessen the glycerin.


  1. Maybe I should measure things in a separate container before putting it in. The concern before was that some of the ingredients might get left in the transition container and make my measurements less accurate – but who cares about that if I am actually the biggest enemy of accurate measurement? Maybe the lesser of two evils is the transition container. Maybe I can use a small and shallow container like the saucers that we use to put soy sauce.
  2. Using the slow cooker I can control the temperature to 70 degrees a little better, though it takes a long time to get there. I *could* heat the beakers first with the stove but given my clumsiness I would probably spill stuff and it’s the safest to put all the beakers in and just wait. It doesn’t seem that anything bad would happen with the beakers heating up slowly in time, so I guess I’ll just stick to this for now.
  3. Because I still have about 20g of aloe vera gel unused, even after the mask, I think next time I will only prepare 20g extra and not 40 (this is, if I will be going for 200g worth of toner. For a 100g toner, I will only need 10g extra).


So there comes a point in time when one is hiding out in one’s room because one of one’s cats caught a big rat and is flinging a dead rat around in the living room, and one takes this opportunity to write on one’s blog which one has neglected for 2.5 months.

This is one of those times. I’m hungry, there’s a dead rat floundering around outside of my room, and mi novio is out so is unavailable to sweep up the body. Woe is me!

Ooh el novio has returneth and, with great trepidation I peeked out of the room but the rat body was nowhere to be found! The suspect Dos had left the crime scene along with his foster mum Suki, with a presumably innocent Spot snoozing on the sofa, lending a false sense of serenity to the atmosphere. The plot thickens. El novio had started to doubt my words and overestimate my imagination when, finally he found the dead body… in the cats’ drinking bowl. Floating.

And so a dripping Mr. Dead Rat joins the recently deceased Ms. Dead Bird in a growing cemetery of dead-by-cat creatures that we have had to dispose of in a nearby bush outside of the house.

If anything, this has created a blog post out of nowhere, and you, random visitor of the website or long-time stalker can reap the benefits of the circumstances involving a killer cat, a dead rat and a cowardly cat owner.