Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

It’s taken me a while to put this post together due to wanting a variety of examples (and I’m posting this whilst not hungry so all the better ;-) ). Basically I saw some vegan friendly veggie burgers in a supermarket on special offer back in the January sales and thought it’d be nice to have something different and that I hadn’t had in ages. They tasted similar to many others I’ve had over the years and weren’t anything unexpected but still, Mum was very disappointed and thought they were like cardboard and to me they just felt like mush, something to perhaps have with a plateful of other things to compensate. Not for the first time since I started focusing on preparing food from scratch I wondered why I’d ever bothered with them.

Anyway as usual when we don’t like something we (try to) do it ourselves.

The results

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan

It’s big! That’s a dinner plate, not a small one.

A Chunky veggie burger, vegan friendly and easily made allergen friendly by using preferred flours etc.

It’s a very simple recipe – just veg of choice, flour of choice, abit of sea/Himalayan salt, just enough water to make it sticky or into a batter and a little oil of choice.

The amounts used depends on the size of your pan, how many you want to make and how thick you want them to be. We initially used:
500g of veg,
1tsp of salt,
just enough flour & water to make it sticky,
1 heaped tbs of chia.

Chia seeds are used for their nutritional value and gelatinous quality e.g. as an egg replacer; they literally open/turn inside out with the jelly surrounding the shell. However ground flaxseed/linseed is also a popular choice (1 tablespoon flaxseed/linseed plus 3 tablespoons water) although I find slippery elm a fine and much cheaper alternative. Plus it has the benefit of not sticking all over my mouth/teeth/gums like chia. That said we’ve found that this recipe doesn’t need egg replacers.

Heat enough oil to shallow fry, add some mixture and fry on high heat for upto 5min per side or just before it burns – the chunkier the burger the more heat it needs but it also depends on the strength of your cooker. Cooking it that way made 2 burgers but we decided that a little oil was needed within the mixture as well to ensure cooking all the way through and to improve taste, it also shortened cooking to 3min per side but others may prefer it with less oil.

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan Fried Frying

We found that makes very chunky and filling burgers as pictured but if you make the mixture into a batter rather than just sticky you can make them thinner in the pan to get 3-4 burgers. You can also add tomato sauce, an alternative milk instead of water (which makes them creamier) and spice. I think this would really have benefited from fresh herbs as well such as coriander, parsley or dill – Mum says pesto lol.

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan

The benefits of cooking them like this:

You control what goes in and don’t have to put up with cheapening filler and sometimes unnecessary formulation ingredients like rehydrated textured protein, methyl cellulose, yeast, dextrose, added gluten, hydrogenated or hydrolized ingredients.

It’s a very versatile method and we tried different bases like beans and fruit, yep fruit :-)

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Chunky Bean Vegan

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Apple Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan


This is apple and instead of salt we used 1 heaped tsp of demerara or molasses per apple and we found 1 apple made upto 2 burgers/fritters. More sugar can be used but we like them to be slightly tart tasting. The density of the fruit determines the texture of the outcome e.g. apples are harder and actually tasted like strudel whether we used water or a mix of water/milk but we also used pears and just milk and they tasted softer and more like pancakes.

Homemade Veggie Vegetable Fruit Burgers Fritters Pancakes Healthy Vegan Pear Argan Oil

I actually used organic unrefined argan oil in the mixture for this pear batch!

On the whole these are very filling, we could only eat 1.5 at most at a time!

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) Seed Oil is another treasure finding its way out of Morocco following its hugely successful predecessor Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil. It’s currently one of the most expensive oils available to buy purely for its own value rather than say, couture brand label mark-ups and packaging so it’s quite an honour to be writing about something that I wouldn’t usually come across. If Argan oil is known as ‘liquid gold’ then would that make Prickly Pear liquid platinum? I took it for a test drive to see ;-)

Please note – the bottle of 10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil I’m reviewing was provided by VWCosmetics at http://www.vwcosmetics.com/ in exchange for a fair opinion and company mention, both of which I always include as a matter of course in a review :-)


I was offered the chance to try this oil whilst nursing a scald/burn on my left hand so this review is the sequel to the one featuring Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex, it continues the treatment here’s a re-cap of where I left off:


Approx 1 week after the burn

Time for a change from the aloe vera and lemon juice, started using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.

Approx 1 week after that

Time for another change – I find it best to do this as the skin (body in general) can get used to one thing/treatment and the effects can plateau but I still needed more healing so started using the Organic Prickly Pear Seed oil (OPPSO) on affected area and the above oil on the areas around it.

And approx 1 week after that

Dabbing apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ intact on the wound as a finishing touch, this was left to the end as it is a high strength, unrefined vinegar and not generally found on the highstreet. It’s very strong (so should be diluted) and also very versatile for health, cosmetic and cleaning – so using it here to eat through the damaged layers, heal, soften (yes this type of vinegar softens skin – and hair – whereas lemon juice dries) and lighten the skin. Using OPPSO and argan afterwards.

Note on terminology from now on:
OPPSO – refers specifically to VWCosmetics Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil
PPSO – refers to prickly pear seed oil in general, organic or not, virgin & cold pressed or not.


It’s not a pear as we know and love but a colourful cactus fruit that grows in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Ever heard that joke about treating a porcupine for pins and needles? Well this plant and its fruit are covered in spindles so it no joke when local growers say to leave the higher growing fruit to the birds since it’s not a good idea to use ladders near these plants!… Ouch. They remind me a tad of dragon fruit on the outside and pomegranates on the inside so that should give you an idea of how exotic they are and how small their seeds are. The Daily Mail stated that it takes 1 million seeds to make 1litre of oil and the Chelsea Physic Garden say that their 3in spines used to play 78rpm records on gramophones before steel needles, yikes! They have a Mayan heritage but were also found throughout Africa as a precious resource for food and health then taken to the Mediterranean where they were hailed and regaled before being brought to the spotlight again in current times.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Photo credit: photowalk.mostlyfiction.com/category/desert-plants/

What are those spikes protecting?

A heck of a lot of vitamin content (E & K primarily) and unsaturated fatty acids (Linoleic/Omega 6, Oleic/Omega 9 – has the ability to penetrate beneath the upper layer(s) of skin for longer lasting benefits) as well as saturated acid (Palmitic), minerals and amino acids. And that’s just in the seed oil, the rest of the seed and fruit as a whole are very nutritious. In terms of cosmetic use PPSO is suitable for residents of such dry climates and when shared with the rest of us, in theory a great health booster particularly for those advancing in years and those with dry skin/hair, lines/wrinkles and for some masking to removing discolouration of skin and light scarring. I’ve read about those with heavy scarring and birthmarks having ‘miraculous’ results but personally I doubt that would happen for me. There doesn’t appear to be many sources of info (other than the invaluable and irreplaceable experience of the those who’ve been consuming/using it for ages of course) but the general consensus is that PPSO outclasses argan oil in tocopherols and tocotrienols (the 10 groups of Vitamin E) and leaves olive oil in the dust so to speak hence has the highest amount of Vitamin E out of most oils available for cosmetic use. Other oils noted for Vitamin E are wheat germ and almond. Remember though that Vitamin E can only be taken internally in much smaller amounts than topical use – so olive oil is still excellent for eating and for thicker texture.

I’ve tried to explain Vitamin E in a number of reviews but basically unlike other vitamins it’s not a single ‘thing’ – it’s a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols (5 of each) that are collectively known as Vitamin E though on many products you’ll notice a prominence of tocopherols mentioned e.g. ‘tocopherols enriched’. As a beauty aid Vitamin E is noted and used for anti-oxidant ability and focus on regeneration so all round anti-aging and weather protecting.


First impressions – texture and packaging

The oil is lightweight, has a faint scent that reminds me of cocoa butter and is very smooth – that might sound strange but many oils thicken and get blobby to in the cold but this one doesn’t. That might be because it’s a ‘stable’ oil meaning that it retains more of its nutritional value in conditions that other oils would start to degrade in, given that it’s cultivated and used in hot climates with bright sunshine it’s impressive that it also holds well in the cold. It’s also quick to absorb.

It comes in a cute, little dark Brown glass bottle and matching thick card Brown box. It has an inbuilt, plastic dropper pipette which I found was slow/clogged at times so perhaps not quite wide enough but other than that functional and prevents waste.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

On the burn

I started using this on the burn because I felt it would be better to use a single ingredient product to get the full benefit, product blends are great but sometimes I feel the properties are competing and you might not get the force of the ones you want as they are subdued by others. I was tempted by another product I had used in the past that is a powerhouse of oils but I decided for the burn area itself to go with the OPPSO for the higher concentration of Vitamin E. I’m not one who goes for either phrase ‘if you eat well it shows so you shouldn’t have to worry about your skin/hair/nails’ or ‘the product you apply in one area spreads and affects all the other areas so why bother with specific areas’ … I agree with both to an extent as through research and experience (and quite frankly common sense) one does affect the other, it’s all connected but at the same time some areas need more attention than others and tailored attention at that. That’s exactly why in my Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil review I stated that I felt it important to keep the whole hand well nourished so the skin around the burn wouldn’t suffer as well and could indeed boost aid to the affected area but at the same time the affected area has different/extra needs.

By the time I started using this my skin had that overly smooth/non lined look like a gel blob were it liquid and if left like that looked as if it would probably acquire that somewhat shiny look of stretch mark and cut/torn based scars as well as the lines from the surrounding skin. I wanted to avoid that because it’s a large and noticeable area.

I only needed upto 4 drops to cover the affected and surrounding area and used it regularly especially after washing. I found that it wasn’t as softening or smoothing as I had expected but my hands are problem areas in that respect and need more in the way of lotion or body butter for that effect. However it addressed the shiny tissue issue and made the skin look more ‘real’ and matte again. It now looks more like a birthmark or skin discolouration than an injury scar and the area is not raised but level with the rest of the skin. I think that’s the most I could hope for given the severity of the burn, my skin being prone to scarring and using this at a later stage of the treatment instead of earlier.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review Natural Burn Treatment Home RemedyVegan

Uneven skin tone

Interestingly enough PPSO has notable amounts about both Vitamins E and K; the former being a blood thinner and the latter a thickener – in that sense I can imagine that having a balance of both would or should assist with uneven skin tones, not taking into account skin colourants but more the formation of skin cells. That said old scars and marks run deep and can take years to noticeably reduce since even new skin copies the old when it comes to those so it’s important to use something that is high in Omega 9 to get to those layers or be present when they grow, it’s one thing to have the Vitamin E it’s another to get it where you want it to go, (argan oil has much more Omega 9 than PPSO).

It’s supposed to help with shadows on the face and like many other people probably have been doing I’ve been sleeping under the blanket since on the onset of cold weather and that leads to blotchy facial skin and the darkening of the sides of the nose and under the eyes especially. I’ve tried the oil in that area and haven’t noticed any difference but that’s unlikely to change unless I come up for air and actually get some more oxygen! I’m thinking if I steamed my face & neck and then put this on as an overnight moisturizer it would have a much better chance.


I had a few places of torn skin near my cuticles and this healed them in no time, they didn’t even itch – just went straight back to normal skin.

It’s apparently also really good for achieving glossy locks with a little going a long way, since this is a 10ml bottle and I’m pre-occupied with my skin at the moment I haven’t tried it but I’d hazard a guess that since its rich in Omega 6&9 it’d be better for thick and/or coarse (prone to curling, wiry) or dry and/or damaged hair – it might be too heavy/greasy feeling for light and/or thin hair unless washed out shortly after or heat dried-in.


Looking at the VWCosmetics website I was impressed by the passion shown by the founder for the products from production to sustainability. There is a focus on organic argan and prickly pear seed oil products, both of which are grown by fair trade women’s cooperatives with an interest in helping and forwarding their position in society and protecting their environment. Acquiring both oils is extremely labour intensive e.g. for OPPSO the seeds have to be carefully separated from the pulp and ‘Because each seed contains only 5% of oil, up to 35 kilograms of seeds are necessary to get about 1 litre of Oil.’

There is a lot of info on the site so I won’t reproduce it here but it’s poignant to note that this is pure OPPSO and not a cheaper alternative where PPSO has been blended with other oils or actually from the cactus blossoms and not the fruit seeds.

Also for company info:

-produced on demand ensuring freshness
-elite quality
-first cold-pressed
-organic and unscented
-sustainably harvested
-virgin and unrefined
-does not contain artificial or chemical additives
-paraben and cruelty-free
-brown bottles for maximum protection
-distributed from Germany in consideration of the strict German cosmetic directives

OPPSO Eco – Certification
VWC only works with Producers in Morocco that have their OPPSO classified as a “Natural and Organic cosmetic” holding both ECOCERT and USDA certification.


I think on the whole I’d benefit a lot more from OPPSO if I was older or had weather beaten skin/hair, the fact that I use oils regularly (and have a high oil ‘fat’ diet) perhaps made the effects less noticeable but I can imagine that if the weather was hotter, more oil used and dried in over a longer time period the properties would have more of a chance to shine. Plus this is a small bottle but I’d be interested to see how it fairs on other problem areas on the body. That said in terms of healing damaged skin for both a burn and tearing it did a good job and for that I’m grateful – to Mother Nature, the women who cultivated this and Valerie Widmann who offered it at a coincidental time.

10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil €24.95/£19.57


My left hand was recently scalded and though luckily the worst of it didn’t cover the whole hand quite a large and noticeable area was affected so I was looking for a product that would help. To show how this item fits into the wider perspective I’ll quickly outline my actions to treat the burn thus far and the reasons why I ended up with this particular oil.


Day 1

Immediately after the burn I held my hand under the cold tap for approx 15min, then held half a potato over it until the pain went, held an aloe vera soaked gauze over it for a while and then packed grated potato over it with bandage, replenished every 3 hours for 9 hours.

Day 2

Got my strength and mobility back in that hand, no pain and the skin looked good and smooth in general but after a while the most affected area showed itself and was very Red with an obvious outline/perimeter. Over the next few days I applied aloe vera and lemon juice to it (no more bandages whilst indoors), I was satisfied the residual inside heat had passed but didn’t have access to an oil I wanted I use yet.

Approx 1 week later

Time for a change, the aloe vera and lemon were great but since they were both juice (would have preferred raw aloe vera gel) they were drying, which isn’t a bad thing but it was a toss up between wanting to let the affected skin dry and fall off but also needing the rest to be well nourished and heal as much as possible. The skin was a lot darker, itchy over 2-3 days, still Red in places but more Brown and very distinct from the rest of my hand. I was leaning towards a Dr Organic’s lotion (preferably the Vitamin E, Aloe, Coconut or Tea Tree) but ended up with the Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex instead.

Approx 1 week after that

Prickly Pear Seed oil on affected area and the above oil around it.

A very similar incident happened when I was a child, my Mother immediately plunged my hand in a bowl of cold water for what felt like ages (which is something to be careful of since it doesn’t always soothe and you mustn’t add to the stress on the skin by potentially ‘freeze burning’ it), someone else suggested putting butter on it (never put butter or oil on just after the burn unless you’re sacrificing a body part for a cannibal who likes fried meat). Thankfully Mum didn’t listen, she used Sudafed and later we went to a doctor and got something prescribed. That all led to weeks of heavy bandage, skin that looked like bacon, lots of uncomfortable itching, stinging, then all the peeling and general ‘grossness’. Being a lot older now I don’t have the masses of regenerative ability I used to and my skin is prone to scarring, the above actions are not a recommendation just a run through of my actions for myself and if I had more of a choice there are other products I’d use but as it is this review focuses on the second week when using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review

Advice from staff at Holland & Barrett, compromises and being budget friendly

I had intended to get a lotion because oils are generally expensive though I wasn’t too keen on the lotions because Dr Organic include a lot of formulation ingredients (e.g. preservatives) but they do use aloe vera as the base and in comparison to other organic, cruelty free and mainly natural products readily available on the highstreet you get more for your money with 200ml at approx £7 (more or less depending on the particular lotion).

That said I was in two minds about lavender oil and tea tree oil, both are supposed to be very good for burns and I usually like to mix them as I find the latter makes the former more moisturizing and the lavender compliments the tea tree but again, essential oils are very costly and you’ll be lucky to find big sizes in ready made blended oils on the highstreet. Bigger bottles of both refined blended oils and higher quality and higher concentration blended oils are available online but then you’re balancing delivery time and higher prices. I mulled over a tea tree tincture but decided against it and then against tea tree altogether as it encourages scar tissue to form, not a bad thing in terms of quick healing but not what I wanted.

It came down to a couple of the Dr Organic aloe vera gels and the lotions so at that point I asked for advice. In my experience most H&B staff are well informed about their products, a bit like Lush staff but less effervescent, and in their favour also open to possible as well as specified uses for products and not reticent in recommending other stores if they don’t have something suitable. The H&B lady thought a Vitamin E product would be best since Vitamin E focuses on regeneration, it had been my first choice for the lotion but we agreed the oil would be better since this case wasn’t just for normal skin; overall it’s more pricey but for an oil, organic oil at that and considering that a little goes a long way it was probably the best option. There was also the Dr Organic Vitamin E Scar & Stretch Mark Serum available but she thought that was better for once scarring had occurred and older scars in general, from my point of view that one’s not vegan so I couldn’t use it anyway.

This currently costs £8.99 at 50ml (though they have great sales & a rewards card).

The proof is in the pudding

The ingredient list is very simple; sunflower seed oil, rosehip oil, tocopherol (compounds associated with Vitamin E, source unknown here), jojoba seed oil, calendula flower extract, Damascena rose oil, citronellol and geraniol. To me that suggests rosehip and rose oils diluted into sunflower and jojoba seed oils as otherwise the price would be much higher, their scent is also very faint instead of heady which fits that theory. All of the oils are well known for their extra smoothing and softening effects with the rosehip and rose having a focus on anti-aging and the calendula a refreshing/revitalising component.

I find this oil very easy to use in that it feels light, isn’t sticky and spreads well only needing upto 3 drops per application to fit that part of my hand. When I first used it on the burn I felt a slight ‘stinging’ sensation but only that time, with regular use I found the affected area quickly and visibly retracted, the Redness decreased and the Brown increased particularly around the perimeter. The top layer(s) of skin became more noticeable in readiness to and indeed started to peel off but instead of being crispy and flaking it came off neatly and without pain when reaching the surrounding skin. Interestingly enough the skin underneath didn’t look as ‘ready’ to be revealed as I would have expected with even a couple of White bits (something I’m not used to lol) but they’re slowly getting darker, other parts were Pink but that wasn’t an issue. The perimeter was and is darker than my regular skin so a bit of a concern but since Vitamin E is associated with treatment for uneven skin tone I’m hoping it’ll all reach a good balance.

I have to reiterate that I would have preferred a stronger oil and this is very mild with sunflower and jojoba being gentle bases for more intense oils so after a week’s use I wasn’t too happy with the outcome. I hadn’t expected miracles, it had initially proved helpful by dealing with the top layer(s) but the underneath wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped. Being a pessimist-realist I worried that it’d end up scarred and it was showing signs of that overly smooth/non lined and shiny texture/look of scarred skin but I was given a stronger oil that I then switched to for the affected area. I’m still using the Vitamin E blend around the skin though as I find it a good maintainer for normal skin.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review Opinion Natural Healing Vegan

Stretch marks, scars and more, oh my

The packaging states that this is helpful for dry skin, uneven skin, scars, lines/wrinkles and stretch marks. Having been an active youth subject to a lot of incident and injury from freewheeling ok falling/tumbling down slopes landing underneath my bicycle, jumping off swings at high arc, street hockey to more mundane indoor things like apparently falling off a chair as a child and breaking an arm (too young to remember it seems) I’ve alot of scars. I tested this on a range of them; some old (over a decade) stretch marks on my arm (thank you push-ups, not), a bite mark on my hand that’s relatively recent and a breakout on my face (I rarely eat refined White sugar but did recently for filler and immediately suffered for it with inflammation and spots) and the results varied. I found this worked best on my face with the spots automatically feeling slightly itchy and being visibly reduced overnight, whereas on the older scars there wasn’t any difference. I hadn’t really expected any either since scars are notorious that way and this is a light oil. I find the best ones are the really thick oils and butters like olive, cocoa, shea and coconut – they don’t really reduce old scars as much as disguise them like a soft lens in a romantic film when a lead character comes on screen. They soften the skin enough to make the appearance of scars less ‘harsh’ and jagged, that smoothing also makes the skin look and feel younger which in my experience adds a little glow (more noticeable on darker skin) though if you stop using them the scars become more noticeable again.

In regards to dry skin perhaps the cold weather is hindering it because it’s softening but not really making the skin ‘fill out’ which in itself would combat lines/wrinkles too. It doesn’t tone or tauten – though it doesn’t claim to – but just in case you were hoping for that this is not one of those (fruit oils are better for that). Again, I can imagine this working better in warmer weather.

What is Vitamin E?

I generally know the term ‘Vitamin E’ to apply to a group of health promoting compounds from various plants/foods rather than a single vitamin. A fat soluble nutrient and an antioxidant, which infers to me that it’s a healthy fat (obviously if consumed consciously as part of a lifestyle/diet read up on the possible effects of large quantities and remember that fats are used for many functions in the body not just affecting weight) which is easily broken down and helps prevent oxidization in the body which can lead to degenerative effects such as the ever dreaded aging but also health maladies. It’s linked to a healthy immune system, skin, hair and eyes but the benefits and risks are different depending on topical use or ingesting with the latter needing more careful consideration and recommended amounts for internal use are much lower than the ‘Tocopherol Enriched (10,000iu)’ of this product.

As a now common term in the skin care industry Dr Organic describes it ‘as a moisturiser it helps combat premature skin aging and also protects and soothes dry dehydrated and sun exposed skin. It also restores elasticity and reduces the appearance of skin imperfections by increasing hydration.’

The packaging – Mainly a Disadvantage

This is the one point where the brand falls down on the whole imo. There’s generally too much of it or its awkward. In this case the oil itself comes in a dark Brown glass bottle with inbuilt dropper pipette which is handy and hasn’t clogged in use but the box is twice as big as it needs to be (as you can see from the photo), has an two lids and is literally half empty. I’m guessing they thought they could print the info they wanted on it instead of adding a leaflet inside but its unbalanced and almost makes you think there’s something missing.

Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil Complex Review Opinion Natural Healing Vegan

About the brand

Dr Organic or ‘dr.organic’ is a cosmetic brand primarily available at Holland & Barrett. The ‘Dr’ is a British brand, are enrolled in a number of organic standard certifications and have a plethora of awards.

They describe themselves as providers or ‘bioactive skincare’; bioactive basically means a substance that can be used to affect or promote a response from a living organism, and/or can extracted from a living organism. To me it sounds like a very general slogan which can be applied to any number of cosmetics and non-cosmetics alike however from what I’ve seen of the brand it seems to imply that they are interested in conveying the beneficial properties of the items used without clashing or heightening/playing down some characteristics over others. It’s a lot to ask/a big claim and of course different people have different experiences, their products seem quite mild in general but there are some ingredients I’m not keen on.

Quoted from http://www.drorganic.co.uk/about.asp

Our Promise…
Organic ingredients
Bioactive ingredients
Natural ingredients
Natural ingredients are used in all formulations.
No harsh chemicals
No animal ingredients
All our products are suitable for vegetarians. In some products we used by-products from animals, most of which revolve around honey, these include; honey, royal jelly, propolis and bees wax.
No animal testing
No mineral oils
No GM ingredients
Preservatives (naturally derived)

The ranges available are Aloe Vera, Pomegranate, Tea Tree, Vitamin E, Lavender, Manuka Honey, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Rose Otto, Coconut Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil and Dead Sea Mineral. All of the ranges are vegetarian friendly and most vegan friendly.

Each range has a variety of products available including the usual Lip Balms, Body Butters, Hand & Nail Creams, Face Masks, Face Scrubs, Soaps, Body Scrubs, Body Washes, Face Washes, Shampoos, and Conditioners etc. Some more interesting items are toothpastes, deodorants and items focusing on the foot care.

All in all

Some of the glossiest (and feathery-iest) people I know eat tons of sunflower seeds so even though it sounds like a common oil and not particularly impressive, this unrefined version contains a lot of Vitamin E and thankfully in this blend doesn’t have that heavy, greasy feel or smell usually associated with it. Jojoba is also not the best for smell but is also subdued in that respect here. It’s lightweight and whilst not a quick absorber it’s not too slow and doesn’t thicken in the cold weather so makes a decent barrier oil that protects, nourishes and encourages skin growth. On the whole it’s value for money.

Homemade Mini-Heaters

They say, whoever they are, that need is the mother of all invention. The same goes for art in my opinion which springs also from a need. Well my Mother is always creating and fixing things and she’s blimmin’ good at it even if I do say so myself :-)

I’ve got a one of those flat candle warmers that you see in Indian restaurants which basically keep dishes hot at the table and being that we’re practically turning into snow-women Mum had the idea of making different versions for room heating, or at least huddle heating. (She made a great oil diffuser the other day out of an old bottle opener, tealight and a cup – MacGyver eat your heart out.)

You basically use tealights, put them on a plate, put those on a base pot/bowl of some kind and put a colander or sieve on top. They give out a nice amount of heat for hand and face warming and eventually clear away the condensation/moisture in the air that covers everything i.e. the surfaces/mirrors etc. Tealights are inexpensive, last afew hours on average and so better value for money in the long run than gas tabletop/surface mini heaters/cookers for heating yourself a bit rather than food which does need gas to cook in the first place. Depending on the size of plate used you can probably put 2-3 on a smaller one and 4-6 tealights on a big dinner plate.

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

The stains on the top aren’t caused by the candles, it’s an old sieve.

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Looks a bit like a mushroom

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

They also make pretty nightlights that makes the room like you’re underwater or in a cave :-)

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Candle Tealight Homemade Heater Hand Warmer Poor Household Tips Economical

Or a UFO – ET phone home.

Or a UFO - ET phone home.

Early Edition

‘What if you had tomorrow’s news today?’ the tagline of the show pretty much covers the premise but not the underlying tension. It sounds like a simple question and things like lottery numbers perhaps spring to mind ;-) but what about issues that touch you deeply, that affect others, what about consequences and the practicality of changing events/lives? What could you do exactly and what would be your motivations for doing so?

Early Edition was a US family friendly drama that ran from 1996-2000 airing in the UK on ITV and the Hallmark channel consisting of 90 episodes approx 50min in length over 4 seasons. The show followed a simple format, mostly self-contained episodes presenting a dilemma within the overall mystery of a newspaper from the future (or is it?)


Early Edition

Marissa, Gary, Chuck

Gary Hobson (played by Kyle Chandler – also in Friday Night Lights and The Wolf of Wall Street) is recently separated from his wife and due to events about to unfold soon to quit his job. One morning he goes to collect the Chicago Sun-Times from the doorstep as usual and finds an unusual visitor, a tabby cat (played by Panther, Pella, and Carl) sitting on his paper and who has a way of uncannily appearing and disappearing. To add to the strangeness his paper has tomorrow’s date on it but surely it’s just a printing mistake? Gary and his closest friends Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens – Short Circuit, Cold Fever) and Marissa Clark (Shanésia Davis-Williams – Uncle Nino, Life Sentence) don’t know what to make of it until the events in the paper, things no one could surely know in advance, start happening before their very eyes. To make matters more confusing he keeps receiving it, every day an advance copy and every day the feline visitor. Is it merely a coincidence that as Gary came to a transitional phase in his life he’s now in receipt of this portent?

Only the paper, the cat and an old photo of a man called Lucius Snow with a very similar looking cat. That’s it, no instructions, no background or inclination as to why him or if he was a random choice and perhaps most unnervingly – what should he do about it, if anything?

This is sounding really serious and it is (or perhaps ridiculous) but it’s portrayed deftly with a balance of soul searching, action and humour. It’s not a dark, gritty show but at the same time it pays respect to the gravity of the situation and can get/maintain emotional investment from the viewer.

The main trio are great characters and friends with Gary being the ‘straight man’, Chuck the ‘funny guy’ and Marissa the ‘elegant lady’ so they all give their own input to the situations and bounce off each other, even if they disagree ultimately they are supportive and do their best. It’s never easy or fun and games; Gary decides that whatever the reason is for him receiving the newspaper the fact is he receives it and he can’t sit idly by ignoring all those articles which are the equivalent of pleas for help. He has no special training, skills or knowledge but he’s physically able and willing, an everyday hero without wanting to be, sometimes begrudgingly and resigned to his fate.

Early Edition Gary

Chuck on the other hand is more clever he doesn’t want Gary to ignore the paper either but he also doesn’t want him to spend his life on it or perhaps suffer something fatal, forever the opportunist he figures if it’s fallen into Gary’s lap so to speak why not make the most of it. Sure do the do-gooder stuff but why not reap at least some of the benefits? Why work so hard? He and Gary are often at loggerheads over this – being a helper is time/energy/risk consuming, you can’t conveniently schedule rescues it’s a job in itself and no matter who you are in the societal structure we live in you need currency to manage. There are bills to pay for being born; air, water, food, shelter etc don’t come free or cheap. So they compromise – Gary helps as many as he can and wins enough on betting to get by. He’s not greedy and doesn’t ask for much, but hey if Chuck can make a bit on the side at least someone’s saving for a rainy day eh ;-)

Early Edition Chuck

The third member of the equation has another perspective though; where Chuck has his eyes wide open yet narrowly focused Marissa is blind yet contemplating a bigger picture. She’s concerned about where the paper comes from, why it comes to Gary and the responsibility it carries – is it a message/warning from God and how should Gary go about dealing with it, should he be more wary?

Early Edition Marissa

Chuck and Marissa remind me of shows where you see a character’s conflicting conscience, generally one on either shoulder vying for attention and trying to persuade said character to their way of thinking. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these two represent an angel and devil but they debate and there is definitely some kind of higher (or at least more knowledgeable) power at work, newspapers don’t just print themselves let alone with stories that become reality and on an ongoing basis to arrive daily!

The cat is an interesting character, not quite of the acting prowess of Eddie from Frasier (1993-2004) but apt at portraying aloofness but maybe that’s just its innate ‘catness’… Either way it adds to the enigma with its seeming immortality or at least 9 very long lives…


Early Edition

Season one doesn’t delve much into the who-what-where-when-why of the newspaper & cat, it’s basically setting up the characters, their behavioural patterns and giving examples of situations/difficulties they have to face by trying to tackle articles via prevention or cure.

Is it that unique?

Early Edition Signs Symbols

The opening sequences of many of the episodes are very interesting/strange. This is episode 20, pre-Matrix use of Red to stand out in the Black and White, the framed character doubles up as between pillars of a temple/church no less and arch, Sun(day Mar) 23 in writing, atop a cross with circle and tree in the background. That particular opening sequence was about signs so quite obvious.

The show does seem pretty unique, I can’t remember seeing something with the same re-occurring plot device but the newspaper can easily be replaced with all manner of things from technology to divination. If the character(s) or paper time travelled or the latter was instead a crystal ball, tarot cards, runes etc the issues would be the same. The storyline is guided or directed by a hidden hand/method and without information the people/players involved are somewhat hapless and dependent on it.

Issues for seers – Catch 22

Having advance intel whether by visions, voices or print puts Gary et al in the place of seers imo or at least instruments and being a seer is a dangerous position. When they need help how do they get it, who can they trust, how do they know if the source is reliable? From the perspective of strangers characters knowing about situations before they happen and perhaps turning up at the scene or connected to it and repeatedly so looks suspicious. The general motto is ‘if you’ve got nothing to hid, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of’ but what if it’s easy for others to concentrate on you and not look at/for or miss other factors? Trying to warn people sounds noble but who wants to be burned at the stake and who is going to help if you end up incapacitated, trapped or dead? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t since you can either be blamed for not being believable enough or not saying anything, or managing to help regardless but not efficiently enough (as well/quickly as you could have with assistance) or failing to help at all. Great. Depression and despair are always waiting at the door (not much space on that doormat, they’re practically falling over each other to get in) but even though hope is an ill that was in Pandora’s Box, it keeps us going whether setting us up for disappointment or waiting for improvement, it prolongs and if it didn’t do that there’d be no show ;-). Despite that it manages to have an uplifting spirit and I put that down to character strength and interaction.

‘Playing God’

If you don’t know much about a situation what if you make it worse, what if you’re not welcome or it’s a thankless job? (Remember what happened to the superheroes in The Incredibles (2004) after preventing a suicide that didn’t want to be ‘saved’?) Questions like these that can be draining even hindering and sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen but somewhere along the line we have to stop waiting for karma and take responsibility, no? There are plenty of professions that by default interfere in some way, if we aren’t in one of those does that mean we’re exempt? Documentaries/news present the same question, when the whole crew and specialists portray ‘nature as it is or should be’ watching and reporting as creatures live, smile, suffer before them and don’t get involved except for the major role of being there and presenting to the world. Is that ok, the right way, perhaps that’s the most/best they can do and might be enough? Would you like it if you were being watched, and then not directly helped perhaps even worse had circumstances orchestrated to make better viewing? That exposing your situation may help others perhaps in the same/similar situation but not you, you are an example either a trigger for change or easily forgotten? That’s what Gary, Chuck and Marissa have to keep asking themselves and re-evaluating but within a deadline.


Early Edition

There were 23 episodes in season one including the pilot; it began with stockbroker Gary being kicked out by his wife on their anniversary, moving into the Blackstone Hotel and then receiving the paper and trying to settle into a new way of life. As great as Chuck and Marissa are for advice and assistance Gary tries to engage the police as well so over the season we see a relationship between him and a Detective Crumb (played by Ron Dean – The Fugitive, The Dark Knight) who is obviously cynical but eventually learns to trust Gary. The episodes are action packed seeing Gary et al get involved in a vast array of situations and subjects from bank robbery, a plane crash, presidential assassination to domestic violence, homelessness and the ‘cyclical nature’ of life and death. Gary isn’t immune to injury and gets hurt frequently both physically and emotionally, and the non-hero part of his life is kept in the story via fluctuating love interests, one of which leads to the question of what happens if the paper ends up in someone else’s hands without his permission? It also isn’t limited to doorsteps.

Season one’s opening and closing sequences differed from the rest since it featured Chuck as narrator describing the episode in his jocular and sceptical way, something I found a welcome addition to the visuals and theme music. The colour would go from Black and White to colour as he spoke too which added to his ‘enlightening’ narrative. The voiceover later became erratically placed and featured other characters.

You may recognize a number of faces as guest stars right from the get go with Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Mark Vann (CSI) and Neil Flyn (Scrubs) in the pilot alone and many more throughout. The filming style i.e. colour, score, sfx weren’t anything to write home about but I’d say the picture quality was lifelike and sfx were realistic. It did rely too heavily on putting the main character in constant jeopardy but also had integral character relations, and was both thrilling and thought provoking.


Quantum Leap (1989–1993) – A classic show featuring a scientist trapped in time travel jumping from one time/place to another and as if that wasn’t enough doing so by jumping into other people’s body’s unable to leave until he can solve their turmoil. His only contact from his time being a holographic projection (think Red Dwarf 1988+) that only he can see.

Quantum Leap Book 1

Joan of Arcadia (2003–2005) – Another moving and thought provoking show, this time based on Jeanne d’Arc (c1412-1431). Modern every day teenager Joan Giradi starts talking to God though not just in her head but as various people who come into her life and know things she couldn’t getting her involved in numerous situations to help others.

Joan of Arcadia

Due South (1994–1999) – This is a detective show but the buddy relationship between the two main characters is very similar to Gary and Chuck featuring an idealist and a cynical semi-rogue though Fraser and Ray from Due South are more like brothers due to Ray’s Italian heritage and outlook. Both are serious but manage to be light hearted at the same time.

Due South

I was just saying to Mum yesterday something that’s been bothering me – that we hadn’t gotten round to explaining the use of the Mahavidyas (forms of Lalita Maha Kali) though we have mentioned them before and spoken about Kali. I thought it might be confusing due to their general representation. Note – the Mahavidyas […]

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If I had to write tiny excerpts on my impressions of this show for the cover of a book the following immediately come to mind: “Shocking!” “Consistent thriller regardless of when the crime happens in an episode” “Cunning and completely ruthless” “Amazing. Old stories re-used, re-invented; new eye opening plots that chill and sicken.” “Genre […]


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