Thursday, 22 June 2017

Scissors, Paper, MICE! Update post

Hey y'all, so I was going to edit the original post but it's already crazy long so here's a new post about the same thing because one can never get enough of TP amirite?!?

So, I think a couple of days after the original post, I received a response from NooTrees. Coinkidink? I think not! Obviously the people at NooTrees love reading very amateur blogs by flaky women.

NooTrees responded on Monday 19 June
Anyway, yay that they don't test on animals. Boo that they take over a month to respond to Facebook messages. But I guess I can't blame them, I don't always reply Facebook messages, especially ones from crazy hippies.

Anyhoodle. Because I was so chuffed about CloverSoft's response times and highly informative responses, I decided to tell them that I blogged about them.

They were kind enough to continue responding in their typical loving fashion. But then they totally did me one better:
Like a broken robot, I reiterated the no animal testing thing. Beggars CAN be choosers apparently.

It's a love-fest and Clovie and I are going steady now.
And within 2 days...
To add to my $80 collection of tissue paper!
PREMIUM TISSUE PAPER YOU GUYS!! I'm basically the Gywneth Paltrow of tissue paper (which means to say I'm fancy).

Anyway, this isn't an ad for CloverSoft, nor was I sponsored by them, although I guess now I kinda am a little since I got some free stuff. Is this what it feels like to be an influencer???

Thank you Clovie and the CloverSoft team for making me fancy, adding to my TP collection, and for giving me yet another reason to write a blog about TP!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Scissors, paper, MICE!

Hello, so you may recall that I said in this blog post that I'm becoming some tree-hugging-animal saving-earth-mama.  Well, since then, I've definitely embarked on quite the project. For me, the lowest hanging fruit was to take a stand against the use of animal-testing in beauty and household products, my belief for this is really that I don't want to give my money to companies that support something I believe is unethical and largely unnecessary. I thought this would be fairly simple, but hey, guess what, it's a HUGE endeavour. Bet you've never thought about all the products in your house that are produced by brands that conduct animal testing. It is, in official and totally quantifiable terms, a BUTTLOAD.

Basically, huge conglomerates own everything and in order to maximise profits, they sell globally and are required by some country laws and regulations to conduct safety checks which include testing their products on animals. A good indication of whether things are tested on animals is if they are sold in China, as laws require it.

Pic taken from Zero Hedge
So, as I embark on this insane journey of obsessive replacing my regularly used product for cruelty-free ones, my commitment is to do my best to eliminate products from companies that conduct animal testing, within reason. What this means is that because I have a mortgage to pay, I'm probably not going to pay like 3 times more for a product just to escape a company that tests on animals, because that wouldn't be sustainable in the long run.

Today, my post is about something that most probably wouldn't spend much time thinking about - paper products. I'm talking about tissue paper and toilet roll! I have a really bad habit of using a lot of paper products, be it to clean my ears after I get outta the shower, or even when pooping (I mean, come on, no one wants to have some one-ply wipe situation. That is just unsanitary and you might as well poke your poop with your finger if so). I'm trying to cut down on how much I use of course because let's save the trees but let's get that pesky animal testing thing out of the way as well.

Anyway, what I've used since forever: Kleenex

Kleenex is a famous household brand owned by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, one of those giant conglomerates that probably produces a large percentage of your personal and healthcare products. Long story short: They conduct animal testing. (Booo hisss boooo thumbs down!)

Image from the Vegan Rabbit

So I decided I would start looking for cruelty-free companies with paper product brands being sold in Singapore. That was the first challenge. Seventh Generation is a leading cruelty-free household product provider but finding them in Singapore is akin to drawing blood from a stone. Stores in Singapore that carry the line don't carry the tissue paper and toilet roll. But if you're looking for their washing liquids and other stuff, you can try:

  1. Pupsik (I've never bought from this site, don't know if it's legit)
  2. SuperNature
  3. RedMart

I considered ordering from Amazon but the delivery fee would basically bankrupt me so yeah. NO.

To that end, I started looking at brands that I had never heard of, because I guess, if you've never heard of a brand, then it's probably not owned by a conglomerate, right? I started researching "green" brands which are basically suggesting that their use of bamboo products is 'better for the environment' (I'll touch more on this later). The shortlist:

  1. NooTrees
  2. CloverSoft
  3. Dr Blanc
However, on their websites, they didn't mention anything about animal testing (cruelty-free labels don't rank highly in Singapore) so I decided to write to them.

I direct messaged NooTrees via their Facebook account but till today, I've not received a response:

Or maybe there won't be any cricket sounds since they may test their products on crickets for all we know. I was checking out their "About NooTrees" page just to ensure I didn't miss any animal-testing notices and noticed something I've circled in red:

I fixed it for them!


Anyway, not to be deterred, I also wrote to CloverSoft and Dr. Blanc and oh boy, CloverSoft's customer service officer/s went all out. Below are screenshots from my Facebook of the actual conversation. Ps, read from top left, all the way to the bottom, then  top right, all the way down.
Click to enlarge (I hope it can be enlarged, I've never tried this, you might need a magnifying glass, sorry.)

TL;DR? The summary is:

  • CloverSoft didn't want to test any animals but one product, the CloverSoft Baby Wipes, were required to be tested by regulation. 
  • They say they tested the baby wipes for the first and only time on mice.
  • They say they tested in their Swiss lab and there were no abnormalities or deaths reported (although what's become of the mice was not stated).
  • They conducted human patch tests for skin sensitivity reactions instead of using mice.
  • All other CloverSoft products were free of animal testing.
  • I was pleased to hear this and recommended that, for the ease of the consumer, for them to implement this indicator of "tested on animals" on their website.
  • Within a day of my suggestion, this indicator on their Singapore website was made available (I checked!) 
  • The bottom line is that while they cannot claim to be a cruelty-free company, I believe that they have made efforts to avoid animal testing. (Please note that I forgot to ask whether they hire 3rd parties that do conduct animal testing so this is a grey area).

From scrolling through the CloverSoft website, I came to realise that Dr. Blanc and CloverSoft are essentially affiliated. And Dr. Blanc issued a response to me (albeit a much more delayed one):

Clearly Dr. Blanc is a busy doctor, unlike 'Clovie'
So while I was disappointed with the fact that the CloverSoft baby wipes were tested on mice, I was pleased to hear that the products that I would use were said to be free of animal testing. And I was heartened by how the company had engaged with me and taken my feedback seriously instead of writing me off as a crazy hippie.

I decided that I would try to mix up my purchase and get Dr. Blanc rolls (which are bleached if I'm not wrong) and CloverSoft tissue paper (which are unbleached). But before purchasing, I did one last thing - a price analysis!

Toilet roll
$19.45 for 30 ($0.65)
Dr Blanc
$12 for 20 ($0.60)
Tissue paper
$6.10 for 5 ($1.22)
72.75 for 60 ($1.21)

So it would actually be more cost competitive to buy from CloverSoft and Dr. Blanc! So obviously I had to buy $80 worth of toilet roll and tissue paper (Not. Extreme. At. All). It only makes sense in order to get free delivery. Plus they gave me a coupon (it didn't end up working but I got the first time purchaser $5 discount online). It's practically SAVING money!

This is what $80 worth of tissue paper looks like. Dog for scale.

As for the actual product review, for the Dr. Blanc toilet roll, I am pretty pleased. It's not as thick nor smooth as the Kleenex (the dotted pattern might be the reason for it) but it serves its purpose and it doesn't feel like I'm sand-papering my butt. The CloverSoft tissue paper is rougher than the Kleenex but it's nice to know I'm not dabbing bleached tissue on my face and bonus, my soul feels soothed knowing that I'm not complicit in the act of animal cruelty.

We're nearly at the end of this post! Hahaha who would have guessed I could talk so much about something so seemingly unexciting! Sadly, laws and regulations change all the time, so I'll always need to keep in mind that the animal testing status can change.

One last note, if you're tempted to buy these because of their "green" status. Do check out some articles here and here about "green-washing".  At this time, I don't really know where I stand on this because I can't say I know enough about the science behind it, but I think it's important to at least read up more, and not immediately buy into the marketing spiel.

Thanks for reading!

In case you need a kick in the butt to remind you why animal testing sucks, read this and then watch this.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

How ya going, mate? Part 3: Fremantle

NOOOOOoooooOOooooooOOOOOOOOoooo I'm reaching the tail-end of my Australia trip.

Day 6

We set off from our place in Hermitage by 10am to make a relaxed journey towards our rented house in Fremantle (a suburb outside of Perth city). We'd heard that the Naturaliste Lighthouse was a nice spot to check out so us tourists gathered there for SELFIETIME! Half of us reached first so we had a thrilling game of Connect 4. Guess who won??

The pathway to the Lighthouse has a gate and a sign saying something about payment for tours, this confused us initially because we thought that meant we could only access the lighthouse if we paid money for a tour (which we didn't want to cos we needed to save that money for shopping at K-Mart obviously). In truth, anyone can enter the gate to walk up to and around the exterior of the lighthouse, but in order to gain access into the lighthouse, you will need to pay for a tour. Furthermore, all who visit are encouraged to offer a token sum to go towards the maintenance of the lighthouse.

This is the mini-me of the lighthouse

K. That was anticlimactic. Maybe I just don't really care for lighthouses. LOL.

Anyhoodle, we then went to the restaurant at Eagle Bay Brewery Co where I had the second of the fish & chips meal I would order on this vacay. It was nubbad. This restaurant was modern and spacious, the food was decent with rather large portions.

Our slow journey towards Fremantle next brought us to the Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the world (It's 1.841 KM). This picturesque location was made all the more beautiful by the sunny and bright day (although the temperature was still cool at around 15 degrees celsius). So as it turns out, the length of the jetty can be visited in three ways - via a train, a private buggy or on foot. In any case, in order to get onto the jetty, money has to be paid. We decided we wouldn't pay to ride on a train cos we are perfectly capable of walking.


There was absolutely no cloud cover or shade and 3 of us are deathly terrified of the sun (UV rays are the worst!) and we practically sprinted our way to the end just to get out of the sun. So by the time we reached the end of the jetty, we weren't even interested in seeing the underwater observatory because our heads were on fire. Also, initially walking on the jetty and looking out to the water was beautiful and serene, but once you've seen it, there's not much else to see. It's just water and more water. At least have some dolphins fighting wars against sharks while seagulls shoot torpedo poop down to the water right???

My head is on fire

Seagull doing his thang. 'His thang' is probably pooping.

The walk back was equally painful and I was sweating a lot. I can't say I would recommend this to anyone, unless they like to fish and just want to spend a serene day out fishing on a jetty.

We took another two hour drive (I think. I was sleeping of course) to the Lloyd House, the place we had booked via Stayz in Fremantle. This house was very large, with enough rooms and beds for like 13 people I think. I felt that the decor of the house was a little crazy with paintings all over the place and filled with an assortment of random furniture in various styles. The garage was unusable because it was filled with stuff. Finally, some of the beds weren't made when we arrived, and the bedsheets of the bed in the room I selected were dirty. I suppose I was least impressed by this lodging but it wasn't terribly bad, I still slept well on the super soft bed (after changing the sheets) and the shower of this place was the best of the three houses we had been to (showers are very important to me - water pressure, consistent water temperature, detachable shower head rather than just rain bath type).

After settling in, we set off on the most important venture - We went to K-Mart. This isn't a joke. My friends were googling things to buy in K-Mart way before the trip even started. They all have their own homes and the K-Mart homeware collection is apparently the bomb. No pictures because I was focused on shopping. Awesome thing about K-Mart is that they open later than most stores, I think they close at 9pm.

We needed to eat after and it was getting late so we found Italian restaurant La Sosta which is situated in a more commercial area of Fremantle. It's a darkly lit restaurant with modern interior, a perfect place for a date. The food was sadly not that great, although there were a couple of highlights - The chicken liver pate was good, and the waiter was friendly and was basically the Italian version of our friend Anil. I think Mellie was very disappointed by the tiramisu which had been deconstructed. The majority opinion is that classic desserts should be kept sacred and not turned into a molecular gastronomy style creation.

Chicken liver pate was suprisingly delicious

Always easy to eat

I honestly can't remember what this is

My meal - truffle mushroom ravioli
Day 7

We set out early for breakfast at Moore and Moore cafe to get fuelled up for our exciting day - we were going to Rottnest Island! The cafe is tucked into a building housing an art gallery. The food was pretty decent, but I do think Australian restaurants and cafes can be pretty pricey. I had a cornbread and poached egg breakfast for like $15-$20.

But who cares about breakfast? WE'RE GOING TO SEE QUOKKAS!!!!!

We drove over to the jetty to buy the tickets to get on the ferry to go to the island. The queue was pretty long and as we were going to spend the whole day on the island, we had to locate the all day parking area where we could leave the cars. Once we got our tickets, we boarded the ferry that would take about a half hour to get to the island. Then we died. Well not really, but we might as well have. The ride was extremely choppy and this led to some casual vomiting and the desire for death to have mercy on us and take us swiftly.


Before the boat ride of death started

Sweet baby Jesus we made it
There are two ways to travel Rottnest Island, one is on bike, and the other, to take a bus which you can hop on and hop off at various stations. The bus comes every half hour or so but can be crowded and is typically filled with older people. Because some of us can't cycle, we did the bus tour.

Within a half hour of reaching the island, we made contact with a few of the 10K-12K quokkas that roam the island freely! PS. the really good photos of the quokkas are taken by Mims.


Seriously we tried SO many times to get selfies but they were really fidgety and actually would lose interest upon realising the phone doesn't offer food.
Most of the quokkas we encountered were quite friendly and not scared, although some were more cautious than others. Mostly you could tell they wanted food. When we came across quokkas hanging out near a cafe, I could see that they were losing fur, compared to those who we saw at sites where there were no cafes or restaurants around. THIS MADE ME SO MAD! This is very likely because of the humans who would feed human food to them. Quokkas natural diet is the vegetation on the island. STOP FEEDING THEM HUMAN FOOD. IT'LL GIVE THEM CANCER AND MAKE THEIR FUR FALL OUT YOU BUTTS! This is why we can't have nice things.

Arm and leg belonging to some a$$hole feeding the quokka peanuts
Oh we also saw peacocks. They were fierce and sometimes attacked the quokkas like to scare them off for being a source of competition for food, I guess. Or maybe they're just like really grumpy.

I will cut you.

Aside from animals, there were some beautiful beaches on the island, where people could swim and enjoy the views. Nigel and Dan actually took a dip - It was apparently very cold so well done to them for braving those waters!

While the weather in Autumn on the island is cooled by the strong winds, the sun beats down mercilessly through the day, with very little cloud cover, and shade for us to hide under at the stops we visited... We could have been better prepared! I would have brought a visor that covered the entirety of my face had I known.

HAHAHA I love this photo
I enjoyed meeting those little guys and visiting the island but looked forward to getting a break from the sun. We made our way back to the jetty to take the boat back to Fremantle, filled with trepidation, fearing the ride back would be a repeat of the morning's boat ride.We decided to sit on the upper open air deck which is apparently the place to go if you're easily motion sick. The ride back was much smoother, maybe it was a different boat, or the waters were calmer. Whatever the case, we survived sans vomiting!

We rewarded ourselves with a seafood dinner at Kaili's Fish Market Cafe! I had a grilled fish and chips!

To cap off a successful day, we treated ourselves further by visiting another K-Mart for more home shopping! In case you were wondering, I bought more makeup from Australian brands like Australis and BYS.

Day 8

This was a Friday and the Fremantle market operates on Friday through the weekend so we popped in for a quick look around. I was expecting it to be larger, kind of like Borough Market in the UK. It housed a few key things like local produce, organic soaps, art, and had food stalls in various cuisines like Japanese and Mexican. We wandered about for a while and eventually bought $50 worth of cheese.

I ate this. It's called a Muffle I think.

There didn't seem to be a butcher in the market so the boo and I ventured about ten minutes walk away to a well-known butcher, Frank's Gourmet Meat, that made the boo's heart race with joy.

So proud of his $200 worth of lamb

We then headed back to the Fremantle Markets to have a quick brunch of Ramen from the stall there (it was really good by the way) before heading off to Watertown for outlet shopping!!

So Watertown Brand Outlet is an outlet mall with local Australian brands like Cotton On and Valley Girl, as well as the usual big sports players like Adidas.

As with most shopping excursions, I'm too excited to buy stuff to take any photos. The only photo I have is the one the boo took:

And the only reason why he took it was because he witnessed two dudes getting into a good ol' fashioned fight. Like MMA style beat down with the "winner" of the fight eventually getting up, turning around and kicking the other dude. Not sure how it all turned out but fighting is never the answer, people. Unless you're getting paid, like in actual MMA tournaments. If that's the case, DESTROY HIMMMMM!!!

There were some awesome sales going on with 50% off the already discounted price so I got a pair of sneakers for $9 and tops for $5. AWESOME! The guys were less successful, clearly lacking skills in shopping.

The weather took a bit of a turn and started to drizzle on and off so instead of visiting a park nearby, we decided to head to Crawley Edge Boatshed which is some famous site to take an Instagram photo. It is literally just a locked boatshed sitting on a jetty on a lake. Anyway, we got there nearing sunset which must be the witching hour for Asian millennials because after parking, there was suddenly a long line of Asians all standing in wait to take photos on this jetty in front of the boatshed.

So we stood at a little lookout point and the above is what it looks like. Anyway, when we were there, there were three young people in their late teens to early twenties who were just hogging the spot for ages taking photos over and over in various formations and styles. It was really inconsiderate to the people who actually wanted to take photos there.

Escue me, are you a model???
Rather than join the line, we took a group shot and I tried to use my head to block those inconsiderate teens. Very challenging BTW as they kept changing their posing style hahaha!

I still think this is a pretty good instagrammable shot!
With that checked off the bucket list of things to post to Instagram, we headed to indulge in what we are truly skilled at - Eating. We got to Ciao Italia early and good thing too, that place gets crowded. It felt like Pasta Fresca in Singapore for it's similar style, and also because most of the patrons were Asian, possibly even Singaporean.

I had lasagna and was stuffed! Huge portions!

I think everyone enjoyed the pizza while there was a varied response to the other mains. I actually enjoyed Leo's spaghetti bolognese quite a bit but I was stuffed. It was here that Mellie finally got to satisfy her craving of a normal tiramisu (take that La Sosta!).

A quick pop in at the wine store near the restaurant after dinner for at home refreshments on our LAST NIGHT IN AUSTRALIA :(

We spent the remainder of the night packing up and then chit chatting as we sat at the dining room table trying to finish the last bits of food we had in the house.

Day 9 

On our last day in Australia, we had arranged for a later check-out (around lunchtime). The meerkat couple decided to go to some place for breakfast while the rest couldn't commit to waking up, so when the boo and I got up, we went to Little Lefroy's for a breakfast date near the house. It's a smallish joint that seems pretty popular so we waited a short while before getting a table. The breakfasts being served all around looked pretty grand and tempting but we decided to share a toastie with extra poached egg and bacon.

Very yummy! Seemed to be the smallest thing served on the menu

My date

We returned to the house to find Nigel, like some economical Mcgyver, had made hot soup out of the remaining ingredients we had bought along the trip.

Goodbye Lloyd house!

We had the rest of the day ahead of us so we drove to Little Creatures brewery to have lunch and hang out for a couple of hours.

I got a pressie from Leo and Mellie, and I got to eat some acai (not from Litte Creatures)!

Superstar dish

Happy fatties
We spent quite a few hours at Little Creatures, eating and drinking, after which we decided to do some last minute shopping. We visited a store called Peckho which had awesome home stuff and other knick-knacks, then drove to Garden City Shopping Centre to check out shops like Sports Girl and more. However, when we got there, most of the stores were nearly closing and Nigel realised he had lost his wallet.

My fave thing at Peckho - a wall of pics of all the dogs that visit the store

So we retraced our steps to Little Creatures and Peckho to see if the wallet was anywhere to be found but alas it was gone. In that time, Nigel cancelled all his cards and made an online police report and was so chill about it, it felt as if he had simply lost a keychain. Too cool. We also probably got a speeding ticket at some point so this was a rather strange twist of events.

Our trip was nearing an end but not before we squeezed in one last meal! Chingchongcheenpong Dan managed to persuade us to go to a Good Fortune Roast Duck House in Perth City. I was pleased to eat Chinese food and greedily inhaled my rice and duck. We finished everything we ordered for the first time out of the whole 9 days.

"I can't believe we're eating Chinese food!! NO don't take a photo of me!"
After this meal, we topped up the car's gas for return to the car rental place at the airport. We swiftly returned the car, the guy's finished the remaining beer they had, we checked in and got on the plane. The next morning, around 4am, we touched down in Changi and thus ended our "fat on cheese and wine" trip.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!