Intuitive Skincare (And Why I Stopped Doing a Routine)

I've been obsessed with skincare since I was 11 or 12. I enjoy the process of it, the ritual of cleansing and beautifying the exterior self, indulging your senses in a way that feels like it's "doing something", and I kind of want it to be the answer to all my problems. As much as I don't want to, however, I must admit an uncomfortable truth, blogger heresy: my skin feels better when I leave it pretty much alone.

A lot of you will say I just haven't been doing skincare "the right way". You might want to suggest more products or techniques I should try, which is well-meaning but misses the point of what I'm trying to say here. I'm not against skincare - I just think our approach to it is a bit of a clusterfuck. I've been washing my face all my life, and doing a 3-step routine since I was still a child. By my early 20's my nightly skincare climbed up to 8 or 9 products, and got more and more complex. Looking at a lot of skincare forums and hashtags, it's hard for me to ignore the parallels between those spaces and the pro-anorexia forums of the 00's; both are full of very young girls becoming obsessed with perfecting an innately transient and imperfectable thing, sharing advice on how to "control" it, and all of them sure that if they only stuck to the right regimen, their life would sort itself out and maybe they'd be beautiful. This breaks my heart a little bit.

The skin-positivity movement still has a long way to go. No matter how diverse an ad campaign attempts to be, it seems that clear skin (or airbrushed skin) is a beauty standard that never gets challenged. The only time I ever see normal, common skin conditions like acne, eczhema, or keratosis in the media is if they are being directly discussed; it's never just "oh here's our autumn collection" on a gorgeous model who just happens to have some spots. The message here is that our skin is not good enough as it is, that we are losing some kind of battle with our faces. The vast majority of people are over-cleansing their skin as a result, stripping it of natural oils by cleansing twice or three times a day. This isn't about trying to push the "all natural" approach and condemn luxury skincare, I'm just against the routine-pushing rhetoric that "you have to be consistent to see results". I think this is PR-speak from companies that want you to feel a bit bad about yourself, use more of the product, and then buy another one sooner. A lot of those brands rely on us not actually listening to our skin, but to them instead.

I understand that genetics has a big part to play in how our skin behaves. I also know that diet, lifestyle, hormones, medication, and environmental surroundings can all change things. I'm not saying that throwing your whole routine in the bin will have amazing results for everyone. Lots of people need medicated skincare to keep dermatological conditions comfortable to live with, which is totally fine. All I'm saying is that we might know more about what our own bodies need than we give ourselves credit for.

So what should you do if you know your regular skincare routine isn't working for you? Look in the mirror, bare-faced, and feel your skin. Ask yourself what you think it needs to feel good, not to "look perfect". Do this every day, and go about achieving it in as few products as possible. Some nights, what this looks like for me is just taking off my makeup and spritzing my face with rose water or toner. Looking after my skin, truly caring for it intuitively based on what it needs that day, feels and looks very different to the routine I would be sold if I went to a mainstream beauty counter. I love a lightweight serum, and I love cleansing wipes. Cleansing wipes get so slated, but I've found they work better for me than any expensive makeup remover. I tend to buy ones that have tea tree, rose, chamomile or aloe in, as those feel good on my redness-prone skin. I use a face mask every so often. I trust the brands that I really love, and in this way my skincare has become more of a ritual, a self-care practise rather than a punishing or chastising process. I stress less about how I look, and I incorporate beauty into my witchcraft, dedicating my ritual to Aphrodite. If the skincare habits you are stuck in aren't serving you, don't be afraid to let them go, and find a way of inhabiting your body that feels gentler, warmer, and closer to something like kindness.

On The Commodification Of Witchcraft

Witchcraft is booming. New books, products, and spiritual services come out every day. Masonic and occult symbolism is vividly present in mainstream pop music, we have more cutesy "white witches" on TV than ever before, and more and more people are sharing their magic online, posting pictures of their altar space or Sabbat celebrations. I spoke with You Magazine recently about why I think modern witchcraft is becoming so popular, and to me the answer was obvious. Millenials and Gen Xr's want a spiritual path that honours everything organised religions too often ignore or demonise - women, our natural darkness, our sexuality, and above all, mother nature.

The surge in interest in witchcraft has been so great that Sephora recently announced they are bringing out a "starter witch kit", containing a rose quartz, a smudge stick, some oils and a few other things. The kit will cost $42. This news has attracted so many differing opinions and perspectives over recent days that I felt I needed to discuss it here. Let's overlook, for a second, the question of where these crystals were mined, and by whom. It's true that many trendy lifestyle stores have already been selling over-priced witch tools such as Tarot cards, incense, and crystals for years. But that doesn't make it acceptable. That doesn't mean we should grow complacent at every instance of unethical flogging of sacred materials. We are allowed to be angry every fresh time it happens. The commodification of white sage, and the unsustainable harvesting of it to meet demand from white girls dabbling in spirituality, is problematic on its own. White sage is not yet endangered, as some well-intentioned people on Twitter claim, but it does need to be responsibly harvested to avoid damage to what is left of our planet's wildness. Even putting aside the fact that you could buy enough herbs and seeds to start a garden, or several instructional books, with that amount of money, witchcraft isn't a commodity and it can't be bought at all. Not only could young witch's money be better spent, this kit is also spreading the idea that being a witch is all about having the right "stuff". How declawed and unthreatening have we become, that being a witch is a fashionable and kitsch identity one can pick up at Sephora.

We want to buy the symbols and tools of a witch without thinking about where they come from and whether they were made through pain and exploitation, or the energy they carry. I read an article the other day that contained a passage I probably won't ever forget: "So what does our world look like? Let me describe to you our power animals....sharks long-lined and finned by fishing fleets that have butchered through the Tuna shoals we have fed to our plague of familiar cats". That image perfectly encapsulates what I'm trying to warn against here. The balance has been utterly destroyed, and huge corporations bear much of the blame. Profiting off a resurgence in witchcraft is crass and adds insult to injury.

For me, there is a connection between my veganism and my craft. Witchcraft has a long and bloody history, full of sacrifice, death, and violence, and I have no desire to erase that. You don't have to be vegan to be a witch - historically speaking, that's just not true. But if you unpack the core foundations of all nature-based magic, you do by definition, have to be anti-agriculture. Animal agriculture is responsible for most of the world's deforestation, and the destruction of our eco-system. Witches have respect for the cycle of life, death, and new life. They may have hunted for their food, or sacrificed an ox, or used the bones of a bird to cast a spell, but those things did not disrupt the natural environment. Animal agriculture has pushed us so far away from the wheel of the year, from the cycles of death and rebirth, and from the possibility of any sustainable meat-eating, that to me it wouldn't make sense for me to be a witch living in the city in 2018, and worship nature, yet not be vegan. We are calling the corners with water and earth we help to pollute. We wear black lipstick tested on terrified rabbits.

I had my Silver Ravenwolf phase as a teenager, and that's nothing to be ashamed of - seeking a sub-culture that feels like home. It's not the young girls buying this starter kit that I feel are at fault. This isn't about gatekeeping esoteric knowledge, or making witchcraft elitist. Quite the opposite, I want the young and the curious to know that magic is their natural state, and all they have to do is return to it. I don't want anyone to feel like they must buy anything to be a "real witch". Witchcraft is not a clique, to which the price of entry is $42.

There are many gifted, experienced, authentic witches selling quality witch tools. You probably already know who they are, if you are reading this post. I see people copying them, instead of supporting them. Everyone wants to feel like "the next supreme". Nobody wants to humble themselves enough to learn, or admit they may not have the answers. Witchcraft is not hereditary, but it is wisdom handed down from initiate to initiate. We seek the wise woman, or medicine man, or herbalist, for help in our time of need - and they give it to us. I see so many trying to bypass the essential trial and adventure of appearing at a crone's door and lacing her hand with coins. We have lost respect for Baba Yaga, for Hecate, for those who have gone before us. I can't help but feel that if you truly cared about witchcraft, about the survival of this spiritual wisdom, rather than just your own alternative image, that you'd give your money to witch-run businesses instead.

Witchcraft is always going to have a fanclub. Magic is sexy and mysterious and enticing, and trends are useful for spreading niche information across the globe. There is nothing gross about witchcraft becoming more popular, and there is nothing shallow about having a witchy aesthetic - but we must be mindful and on the lookout for how those things can be at odds with one another. Witchcraft is a wild art. You must believe in your word and in your own heart to practise it. Go out into the woods and put your hands in the earth that knows you.

All photography by Rich

How I Celebrate The Harvest Season

At the very beginning of August, I'll be celebrating Lughnasadh. Otherwise known as Lammas, or the First Harvest, Lughnasadh marks the golden days of high summer, and the beginning of the reaping festivals. The first fruit is ripe and ready to be picked, and we move on to another stage in our journey through the year. This day has much to do with fertility (all witch's festivals are about fertility in some form, as the wheel of the year mimics the natural cycle of all life and death) but it also revolves around the home and kitchen, nourishment, growth, fire and plenty.

On a personal level, it always feels to me like a time to honour everything the universe has given us, and welcome in the rewards we are about to receive for our hard work, struggle, and lessons over the year so far. If you've been blessed, now's the time to give thanks and open up for more. If you've been wronged or had it rough, remember that we all reap what we sow, and nobody truly escapes that fact. Moving forward in our own lane, and tending our lives with love and kindness - even when we can't yet see any results - pays dividends in the end. This day is also a reminder that the dark months are inevitably coming (sob) and we should make the most of the sunshine we have left. Here are some simple ways I like to mark the beginning of harvest season. 

Go Blackberry Picking: I still get just as excited as I did when I was a little kid to head out foraging in my neighbourhood for ripe blackberries. I remember going with my parents when I was young, and the smell of my mother's jam and my father's blackberry crumble. The other day I went with my boyfriend and it was one of the loveliest days we've ever spent together, filling up some Tupparware and empty water bottles with berries, getting really excited every time we spotted a bunch hidden in the undergrowth. Make sure you leave lots for wildlife and be careful to watch out for nettles - they always grow around blackberries!

Bake My Own Bread, Pies, Or Cakes: I bake all year round, but especially at this time, when so many ingredients are at their best and I start to crave the hearty kind of food that is best made from scratch. Use up any summer fruits and all those blackberries you gathered in cakes and crumbles, and mix up a bread mix with some seeds or nuts. It doesn't have to be hard or complicated if you don't want it to be.

Decorate A Harvest Altar: My altar changes seasonally and with whatever spells I've been doing. When harvest time comes around, you might find corn figures or dolls, food offerings like fruit, nuts, and seeds, and symbols of fire and the sun on it, as well as lots of yellow and orange. Sometimes I create an altar for a specific harvest goddess like Danu, Hestia, or Demeter. You could even make an altar to all the things you've learned and taken from the year so far or over the summer, and make a section for all the blessings you wish to manifest in the autumn. Get as creative as you want and bring together anything that feels sacred and beautiful to you.

Start An Autumn Crop Or Garden: I don't have an outdoor garden or lawn in my apartment building, but as we get lots of natural light, we've managed to grow many happy plants in our small space. It might not have ever crossed your mind to sow seeds at this time of year, but anything you plant now should arrive in time for your autumn cooking. Onions, parsnips, and pumpkins are very traditional, but if you don't have the space, do as I've done and grow edible plants on a windowsill. Chilli, parsley, and wild rocket saplings are currently filling up our mini glass greenhouse - a steal in IKEA for £12. 

Do A Tarot Spread Relating To The Home: All Sabbats (Pagan holy days) are good days to practise Tarot, but if you have any questions or need guidance in areas relating to your home, health, family, personal growth, and what lessons to take with you into autumn, Lughnasadh is an especially potent day to do so. 

Have A Barbecue: Festivals are ultimately all about gathering people together, feasting, and celebrating life, and what better way to do that while the weather is beautiful than a cookout in the outdoors? Your garden or a public park will do just fine to roast some corn, BBQ veggies, burgers (I love the No Bull ones from Iceland, their texture is amazing!) and put out some lemonade. If you want to, you can even say a simple blessing over any shared food or drink, and then make sure everyone present has a bit. Celts did this at Lughnasadh to bring luck to all their friends and family. Blessing a bottle of wine, and then sharing it with your lover, is also a very fitting way to celebrate August's lush abundance.

Growing My Hair Out After Years Of Bleach

There's so much writing online about how to grow long hair. Some of us can get almost fanatical about it, obsessed with achieving "Disney princess lengths". This is not that kind of post. I'm not interested in growing my hair as long as it can possibly go, no matter what; I started growing it because I wanted to be free of the discolouration years of bleaching and colouring had caused, leaving me with frazzled, khaki ends. It took a little time, but all of that is now gone, and I have my own natural colour and texture reaching my bra-straps. I last bleached my roots in March 2017, which means I've developed around 14 inches of fresh growth in 16 months. 

I haven't been taking any hair vitamins or wacky Instagram supplements. I eat a vegan diet and tend to mix up my wild medicine; I often take iron, kelp, Forage Goddess Drops, and soya protein powder. Getting enough protein in your diet helps all your hair grow, including your lashes and eyebrows, so I make sure I pack it in there.

In the shower, while I'm waiting for my conditioner to do it's work, I give myself a little scalp massage using this brush by Tropic. Massaging your scalp while you're washing your hair is beneficial for a few reasons; it helps stimulate blood flow and lymph, which is vital for hair growth. It also helps to work in all your product so that you get that thorough, a-proper-hairdresser-did-this kind of rinse. I've been using their Hair Feast and a couple of pumps of Hair Smooth Radiance Oil afterwards.

I let my hair air dry as often as possible, and use as few tools as you can. I only curl my hair with an iron once a week maximum, if I'm going out somewhere special. Use heat protection when you do use any heat, even a hairdryer. I also like my hair to sit in it's natural oils a bit - I don't wash it every day. It goes quite dry and frizzy if I do. As I have a fringe, I tend to pin some hair out of my face once my hair needs washing, so that I don't spread grease to my face. Using a deep conditioner once a week really helps keep it soft and manageable, no matter how long it's getting. If you can do an overnight mask, even better. I really loved the 7th Heaven Papaya Deep Conditioner that I used recently (vegan, cruelty-free, and only 79p) but try out different ones and see what your favourites are.

Getting regular trims is one of the most important steps to growing out your hair. You don't want split ends working their way up your length and causing slow progress. Getting just a little bit off every six to eight weeks will make your hair feel so much bouncier and looked-after. No point having length if it's damaged, unhealthy length.

The last thing I try to keep in mind is to just not worry too much about it all. It's only hair. For me the goal is to feel good naturally, all the time, no matter whether I'm naked or dressed, wearing makeup or not. I don't like to rely on anything for my self-confidence, and I don't want to get preoccupied with any particular facet of my appearance - which can happen to people when they're intentionally trying to grow their hair. Much like skincare routines or healthy eating plans, it can become an unhealthy obsession with perfecting an inherently transient and imperfect thing. Take all these tips with a pinch of salt and do what makes you feel good.

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Plant Babies

Being a nature-based solitary witch, most of my magic takes place in the kitchen, the bath, or out in the wild. Working with flowers, essences, plants, and herbs is central to my practice and my whole ethos as a witch; almost everything I do is based around tending human needs through the bounty we have right at our fingertips, and underneath our feet. Magic is nature and nature is magic. I like to grow my spells, eat my spells, bathe in the infused water of my spells.

Recently my boyfriend got this mini greenhouse from IKEA, and together we've been filling it up with our plants, creating a joint garden. The living room gets the most sunlight; it's almost like a greenhouse already, so that's where all the arid-loving plants live. The shady bedrooms of the house are much better suited to ivy and other shrubbery. Many of my plants have been in desperate need of  re-potting for a while, and we wanted to combine a few and make giant cactus/succulent gardens in larger pots. So, I designed little triads that would coexist harmoniously.

Many of the ones pictures here were picked up on a recent trip to Merthyr, Rich's hometown. We did a big trip to Trago Mills and bought lots of 85p terracotta pots, soil, drainers and a few other bits as well as plant-life. Everything in the garden section was so cheap I wanted to bring home more than we could have carried! In the end we settled on a sedum, desert rose, chilli, and an echinocactus with beautiful navy blue flowers. We plan to go back with a bigger bag and gather a larger haul on another day. I can no longer justify spending £15 every time I just want a little plant in a sturdy pot. Desert roses are usually at least that amount in high-street homeware stores, but I got the one pictured below for only £2.29 unpotted. I like buying plants this way sometimes, as I have so many pots and jars laying around that I've chosen myself. I even use LUSH tubs sometimes! Simply pierce a few draining holes in the bottom after you've given it a thorough clean (you don't want to sink your plant in shampoo residue) and fill with some multi-purpose or cactus soil.

Desert roses are one of my favourite smaller plants to have around the house, as they require so little attention and have such a beautiful, soft and powerful appearance. Feminine energy just radiates off them. They're also a great plant to place on altars to Venus or Aphrodite, or anywhere you do your makeup or beauty routine. 

There are still many flowers and herbs on my wishlist; I don't have an aloe vera at home and it would be very useful having one around for when I inevitably burn myself, as I did recently on Rich's motorbike. I've been reading up on how to propagate succulents and cacti, so that I'll know what to do if any of my babies start getting a bit long. The bigger a garden gets the more research you have to do to make sure everything can thrive, but I love doing it, and sharing it with my beloved makes it even more joyful.   

The Ultimate Vegan Carrot And Walnut Cake (With No Dairy Alternatives!)

2018 has kinda effortlessly become my year of baking. Getting really good at making vegan treats was one of the things I wrote down as an intention for this year, and for once I'm actually super proud of how far I've come with my New Year's resolution. I met my partner around the beginning of January and having him in my life has certainly helped motivate me to cook from scratch more - making him fall in love with vegan food brings me so much joy. Another thing that's been really helpful is Pinterest. Finding inspiration and starting-point recipes is so much easier on there than any other platform. The inspiration for this particular cake, a moist, crumbly, hearty and exceptionally sweet carrot and walnut cake, came from Loving It Vegan. I've changed the recipe considerably here, according to my preferences, and I love the result. I think it's one of the best cakes I've ever made, and it disappeared so quickly I thought I'd better share it. Unexpectedly, it contains no dairy alternatives in the actual cake base whatsoever. No nut milk, no margarine except a little bit for the icing, no boxed egg replacement. The rise comes from the baking powder and soda, and it's all held together by the carrot and the banana. This is all you'll need.

2 cups (250g) plain flour; 1 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon baking soda;  half a teaspoon of salt; 2 teaspoons of cinnamon; 250g of grated carrots; 200g white castor sugar; 120ml of olive oil; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 100g brown sugar; 1 banana; 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; 1 cup or around 150g of chopped walnuts (with some extra for decoration).

For the lemon buttercream icing, I just mixed lemon juice, a little margarine, icing sugar and a little vanilla extract until it was the right consistency. Try starting with around 3 tablespoons of margarine and adding the icing sugar and other ingredients until it's the right thickness and taste for you.

When I make this cake I tend to get most of my ingredients from Home Bargains, where it works out quite cheap even with the walnuts and fancy confectionery. If you can't get to a Home Bargains try an Aldi or a Lidl, as they often have really cheap nuts and fruit/veggies.

Start by grating all your carrots until you have 250g, then set them aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and lightly grease two round cake tins. You can line them with parchment paper if you want, but I usually just grease and then dust with a little flour. Mix together all the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a big mixing bowl. Add the grated carrot, castor sugar, and brown sugar and combine it gently. In a separate bowl, mash a banana with a fork until it's almost completely smooth. Add the olive oil, vanilla extract, and lemon juice to the mixing bowl, then add the mashed banana and give it all a good stir until it's thoroughly mixed together. Add the chopped walnuts and repeat that good stir you gave it. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins (your batter should be quite thick and sticky, this is fine, don't panic!) and level it out so it's fairly even on the surface. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until a knife in the centre comes out clean. Let them cool on a rack while you make the buttercream, and then sprinkle some leftover walnuts, or whatever else you want, on top of your cake. Voila.

Getting Started With Crystal Magic

Crystals aren't just super cute ornaments and accessories (although they can be, should you wish!), they are also incredibly powerful tools for manifestation and magic. There are endless ways you can harness these powers and bring some crystal magic into your life; whether it's through jewelry, spellwork, interior design, a sex toy, small pocket-lining pebbles or anything else, wielding a carefully chosen stone can be a game-changing tool for self-reflection. Objects have the significance and the abilities that we bestow onto them (although some lend themselves to certain tasks better than others) and crystals are no different. I use them in almost every area of my life, from decorating to exploring sexual fantasies. Most of the gems pictured in this post were gifts from Eclectic Eccentricity, check them out if you're in the market for a crystal kit to get you started. If you've never delved into crystal magic before, and have no idea where to begin, here are some of my favourite multi-purpose gems and how they can enhance your well-being.

Rose Quartz: Known as the ultimate love stone, rose quartz is most often used in spells to help open the heart or attract romance. It has a soft, feminine, and relentlessly loving energy. Think of it as a salve for emotional wounds and a balm for a jaded spirit. Not limited to romantic love, rose quartz is perfect for opening you up to the possibility of friendship, community, and unconditional love in all its forms. Many people swear by rose quartz wands in sexual exploration, and use the stone to heighten their libido and create a feeling of sexual safety.

Jade: Used for thousands of years in beauty and sexuality practises, jade is a milky green stone famous for aiding mature and contented love, beauty well into old age, and healing of sexual blockages. Consider trying out a jade egg in the bedroom, or getting a facial roller to add some magic to your skincare routine!

Selenite: I use a selenite wand to re-balance myself at the end of a long and hectic day. If you want some help aligning with your own truth and inner wisdom, or want to process things you've learned before you fall asleep, use selenite to show the way. It also helps realign your whole energetic system and physical well-being. Selenite is soluble so never put it in water! They are a self-cleansing crystal and need no extra help.

Amethyst: Intensely purple stone amethyst is linked to the crown chakra, our connection to a higher power. It aids intuition, peaceful sleep and dreaming, mental balance and equilibium, and psychic protection. Almost anything to do with the mind comes under the domain of amethyst! I keep a large slab of it beside my bed, and scattered around my home to set a tone of mental clarity and creativity.

Garnet: This is a fantastic stone for self-possession, confidence, luck, purpose, energy, and fire. I carry a small garnet "dice" (a small stone with many sides, perfect for sending energy off in every direction) in my bag or pocket when I want to have an especially good day or feel empowered.  

Clear Quartz: Clear quartz is the ultimate space-clearer. Think of it as a sponge for any negative energy or stagnant thoughts you have lurking around the place. Remember to cleanse and charge these stones regularly, as they really do absorb all the nasties. I have a lot of clear quartz jewellery that I program for different purposes.

Dalmatian Jasper: Slightly less famous than the rest on this list, dalmatian jasper is an instantly recognizable stone covered in little black spots. I use it as an anti-anxiety, calming stone. I take it with me alongside my garnet if I'm doing a solo journey or going anywhere I'm nervous about.

If you want to learm more about crystals or even if you just find them pretty to have around, The Power Of Crystal Healing by Emma Lucy Knowles is probably the best book I've found on the subject. There's gorgeous photography throughout and it really goes in depth on every stone, rather than just throwing out some keywords like "good for love" or "a lucky stone". The summaries are much more specific and detailed, without being too intense or academic. If you want to learn more about the basics of witchcraft, check out this earlier post of mine on how I practice in my daily life.

First Impressions Of Pretty Zen, By Jules Aron

I've always loved the concept of beautifying food; filling yourself up with magical nutrients from the inside out. I love to cook and to eat. A large portion of my life revolves around food, and baking brings so much joy to my spare time. This is what first attracted me to Jules Aron's Pretty Zen series, Nourish & Glow: Foods & Elixirs, and Fresh & Pure: Beauty Balms & Cleansers. Nourish & Glow is a recipe book for people who want to feed themselves into looking great, something I can definitely get behind. It's sister tome is full of slightly different concoctions; recipes and guides to making your own beauty products. As a pair, aim to teach you everything you need to pamper your body from every direction.

I'm a big believer that skincare starts with what you put in your body. If I'm in the frame of mind where I'm really taking care of myself and paying a lot of attention to my skin (which isn't ALL of the time, not by a long shot...sometimes I really can't be bothered, and that's fine) I try to make sure I'm at least partially backing it up with good food and drink and getting all the micronutrients I need. Otherwise, I feel like I'm not getting the maximum benefits of whatever products I'm using anyway. Looking good doesn't really mean anything to me if I feel like a warmed-up pile of shit on the inside.

For me, taking care of myself means eating a plant-based diet, with no dairy, eggs, meat, or fish. I'm not saying this will be the case for absolutely every soul on the planet, but it definitely works for me, and I can't emphasize enough how much I love being vegan. Luckily, every recipe in the Pretty Zen series is vegan-friendly, which means I don't have to do any adapting or substituting to give anything a try. Every recipe is also free from gluten and refined sugars, which means nearly everyone can eat from these books.

My only criticism (which isn't really a criticism, just an observation) is that the Pretty Zen series contain a lot of niche ingredients that you'll have to pick up in health food shops, and some of the recipes work out quite expensive if you're buying everything you need all at once. For me, this means that I'll use these recipes on special occasions, or adapt them to cut down the cost. If you're looking for easy weekday dinners then just be aware these might be too far on the luxurious side!

If, however, you want to learn to make your own jeweled rose latte or healthy vegetable chips, then this collection is where you want to look. There's beautiful, colourful photography throughout (always essential for me if I'm going to try a new recipe, I like to know how that baby is supposed to look) which makes for wonderful coffee table books. I'm going to be testing out some recipes soon and publishing them here on the blog, so keep an eye out for that, and obviously look out for Pretty Zen in bookstores if you're in the market for some very special, nourishing beauty food.

This post contains samples, see my PR page for details