This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 31 July 2016

When you have been through a tough time you can shut off your heart to protect yourself from further hurt and pain.
In this blog post and yoga video we focus on opening up our hearts again to love and trust once more.

Back bends are great for energizing, stress relief and encouraging deeper breathing.
On my 'sister' blog we look at some of the ways you can protect your back in back bends-

Need something to occupy the kids this summer? This kids' yoga practice might be just the ticket for you to do with your children.
It is not only fun but has many benefits for children including helping keep their bodies strong and fit and providing learning opportunities.
Have fun!
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Natural travel first aid kit - bug bites

Recently I was lucky enough to go walking in the Howardian Hills with a black alpaca called Luca.  It was a wonderful experience but in my excitement I forgot to put any insect repellant on.  As a result I was bitten several times. Please see 'Essential oils for summer' 

As the saying goes, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'- but if you get caught out like I did, try one of the following:-
  • Lavender essential oil is my top choice.  It reduces the inflammation of the bite, helps reduce the itching and is anti-microbial.  Dilute in a carrier oil.  It should not be used near the eyes or mouth. Please see 'Natural Remedies - Lavender Essential Oil' -
  • Aloe vera gel is also anti-inflammatory and will help soothe the itching.  Please see 'Aloe vera - nature's skin soother' -
  • Calendula is anti-inflammatory, soothing and moisturising.  It is available as a cream-look in the baby department of your local pharmacy.
  • Tea tree essential oil or witch hazel are antiseptic and so will help prevent the bite getting infected. If you use tea tree essential oil dilute in a carrier oil.
  • Camomile is also anti-inflammatory.  To use it on a bug bite boil some strong camomile tea  - use more that one teabag and just enough water to cover them.  Allow to cool then apply to the bite with some lint or a cloth.
Please note try a patch of skin 24 hours before use as essential oils may cause skin allergies in some people. Also they are not intended for young children, people who are pregnant or suffering from any health problem. Consult an aromatherapist for advice. Do not use near your eyes.

Please also see,

'Natural travel first aid kit'-

'Natural travel first aid kit - Sun stressors'

Janet x

Vintage Natural Beauty- Exercise

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Calisthenics was a system of exercise used to improve the health and fitness of both boys and girls in the nineteenth century. Calisthenics comes from the Greek kalos, meaning beautiful, and sthenos, meaning strength. Calisthenic routines were usually comprised of set exercises, each referred to by a short title such as "Wrist Movement" or "Military Position". This made it possible to teach calisthenics to large groups- an instructor would give the command for a given exercise, and the instruction could be followed en masse by all of those taking part. The little calisthenic routine that I've designed for you is adapted from Catherine E. Beecher's Physiology and Calisthenics: For Schools and Families (1867). Victorian-style dress is optional (but fun)! Just a quick safety note- if you have any medical conditions please consult your doctor before undertaking any programme of exercise. 

"Military Position" 

This is the starting position for the routine, and your "resting" position throughout. Stand with your heels slightly apart and your toes turned out at an angle of about sixty degrees. Stand up nice and straight- you're aiming for a lovely straight line between ear, shoulder, hip and ankle.

"Collar-Bone Extension" 

Starting from Military Position, stretch your arms straight out in front.  Follow this by stretching the arms backwards, opening up the chest. Repeat a number of times until you feel you have got a good stretch across your shoulders and chest. 

"Wrist Movements" 

 Starting from Military Position, rotate the wrists in one direction and then in the other. Easy peasy! 

"Elbow Whirl" 

Holding the upper arms as close to the body as possible, rotate the lower part of the arm. As the name of this exercise suggests, the movement should come from the elbows. This might feel a bit awkward at first, but you'll soon get the hang of it. 

"Shoulder Whirl" 

Make big circles with the arms. This nifty move strengthens the arms and loosens up the shoulders.

"Arm Positions"

This move has three parts- it's almost like a mini-routine within the routine. Don't worry though, it's really simple to do! The first part is just the basic "Military Position" described above. For the second part of the move, stretch your arms straight out to the side. After you have stretched your arms to the sides, lift your arms over your head. Repeat this three-part sequence a number of times to strengthen your arms. 

"Body Twist" 

For this move, you keep your lower body facing forward and twist your upper body to the right, and then to the left. You can do this nice and slowly- it's very much like a standing twist in yoga.

"Side Swing" 

This is my favourite move in the routine- because it's the most fun! Hold your arms straight out to the sides and then bend your body to the left, moving the left hand down and the right hand up. Do the same on the other side, and repeat a number of times (feel free to hum the Dambusters theme tune while you do this). 

"First Position" 

This move is based upon the first position in ballet. Begin with your toes turned out, and hands resting in front of you in a soft curve. Then bend your knees gently, as if doing a demi-plie. Repeat a number of times to strengthen the legs. 

"Upward Movement" 

This is another chance to unleash your inner ballerina. Lift up on your toes, stretching your hands above your head. Softly drop your heels back to the floor. Repeat this move several times, until you feel like Anna Pavlova.

"Sidewise Movement" 

We finish off in grand style with this elegant move. Extend one of your legs out to the side, pointing your toe. At the same time, extend your arms above your head in the "ballet arms" position you held in the "Upward Movement" exercise. Repeat on the other side, and repeat a number of times until you feel satisfied you've had a good stretch. 

So there you have it- you're exercising like a Victorian! For some authentic music to exercise to, you might like to have a look at Flora T. Parsons' Calisthenic Songs Illustrated (1867), which includes such rad tunes as "I Love Our Pleasant School" and "School Discipline". 


Becky x 

Meatless Monday : Lentil and spinach lasagne

Monday, 25 July 2016

This vegan Lentil and spinach lasagne is easy to make and if you are feeding a crowd you can scale up the quantities. 

Lentil and spinach lasagne

Serves 2
You will need

50g cashews
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
150g organic dried brown lentils
1/2 tsp pink salt 
8 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp majoram
handful spinach - around 20g

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water for at least 2 hours.

Heat the oil and add the onion.  Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Add the lentils, salt, tomato puree, majoram and around 400ml water.  Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and the liquid reduced. Stir in the spinach and allow to wilt.

Place a third of the lentil and spinach mixture in a loaf tin. Top with a lasagne sheet (or one and a part sheet if necessary to cover the mixture).  Continue to layer in this way ending with lasagne sheets.  

Whiz up the cashews with the water covering them in a high speed blender.  Top the lasagne sheets with the cashew 'cheese', then place the lasagne in a pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes.


Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Your confidence can really take a knock during and after a tough time. In this week's yoga video and blog post our intention is to rebuild our confidence by connecting with our physical, emotional and spiritual core. Please see my 'sister' blog- 

This week we are looking at protecting your knees in some floor poses.

'Yoga for seniors- keeping your heart healthy'.
Blog post, yoga videos and yoga sequence on my 'sister' blog-

Harvesting the raspberries and a mug cake recipe

Next week the series, 'Natural travel first aid kit' will be back and we will look at how to deal with bug bites. This week we have been harvesting the raspberries.

This year we have had a bumper crop of raspberries in contrast to last year when we had only a few. Raspberries are easy to grow and should provide fruit for many years.  They do need plenty of water however.  There are two types 'Summer bearers' like ours which produce fruit in the summer and the so-called 'Ever bearers' which produce a crop in the summer and one in autumn.  Be aware that you may not get a good crop in the first year although some do produce small berries - gardening requires patience I'm afraid.  It is for this reason the raspberry canes on the allotment have only produced small berries where as the ones in the garden have produced large berries. The birds have left the raspberries alone this year but you might want to net yours if they become a problem.

As well enjoying the raspberries just as they come, we made these 'Surprise ingredient chocolate and raspberry mug cakes'. The flavours of raspberry and chocolate go together so deliciously and mug cakes are so amazingly quick to make.  The mug cakes are also an opportunity to use any beetroot (the surprise ingredient) you are harvesting about now.  The beetroot adds richness, sweetness and moisture but you will not be able to taste the beetroot. It is also a good source of fibre. The natural sugars in the beetroot are released slowly keeping your insulin levels stable. Healthy and delicious, what more could you want?!

Surprise ingredient chocolate and raspberry mug cakes
Recipe makes 2 large mug cakes and two cup cakes or 3 large mug cakes

70g coconut oil 
15g stevia
Egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
125g rice flour 
3 tbsp cacao
120g beetroot, very finely chopped (almost liquid) in a high speed blender 
1 tsp vanilla
Almond milk  
130g raspberries (+ a few to decorate)
Coconut cream to top

Mix the coconut oil with the stevia.  Add the dry ingredients, the vanilla and egg substitute and mix well.  Stir in the beetroot and enough almond milk to make a batter-like consistency (about 6 tablespoons).  Stir the raspberries in gently so as not to break the raspberries up. Divide the mixture between mugs and cups and place in a microwave on full power for 2 minutes.  A skewer in the mixture should come out clean not with cake mixture on.  Top with coconut cream and reserved raspberries when cool.

Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

Vintage Natural Beauty- Foot Care

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Victorians thought that a lovely-looking foot was a very desirable thing to have- in an era that largely concealed the shape of women’s lower bodies in public, “There is a delightful promise in a fine foot and ankle that the rest of the limb is shaped with the same grace”. The ankle-flasher in this case was the Victorian dancer Lola Montez, who was certainly a fan of fabulous feet: “It will be difficult to over-estimate the importance of a well-proportioned foot and ankle as a part of female beauty”. The problem was that feet- then as now- refuse to play ball in the beauty department.

Stinky feet were not conducive to romance, and the writer of Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve It (1870) observed that “It is impossible, with any comfort, to sleep in the same room with a person so afflicted, and not a few married women have traced their domestic unhappiness to this cause”. Victorian beauty manual The Toilette of Health and Beauty (1833) advised bathing the feet in water to which vinegar had been added. Historian Ruth Goodman in her book How to Be a Victorian has described vinegar being used in the Victorian era as a deodorant- here, it is used to deodorize feet. It’s certainly worth having a go at bathing feet in dilute apple cider vinegar if you are looking for a natural solution to keep feet smelling fresh. In my experience, the smell of apple cider vinegar soon disperses- it doesn’t leave you smelling like a chip shop all day!

Victorians felt that rubbing the feet was good for the health of both the feet and the whole body- the writer of The Toilette of Health and Beauty observed that “friction on the soles of the feet is very advantageous”. Dry body brushing is very fashionable these days, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is quite a new practice. Yet dry body brushing, or “dry friction”, was something that the Victorians did. The writer of Toilet and Cosmetic Arts in Ancient and Modern Times (1866) felt that frequent use of the “flesh-brush” was “not only capable of cleansing the skin, but advantageous, from exciting the cutaneous circulation, and invigorating the whole system, as well as the skin”. This all sounds very similar to the advantages that are claimed for dry body brushing today.  The description of the “flesh-brush” as a brush with “bristles set on a leather back” would also seem to suggest an appearance very similar to a modern body brush. The inventor Charles Babbage was told by a (somewhat over-enthusiastic) friend that use of the “flesh-brush” was “how to live for ever”! If you want to have a go at dry body brushing yourself, my mum has written a brilliant blog post on the subject: Love Wellness- Dry Body Brushing

Much of the advice on foot care offered by Victorian writers, however, just consisted of a healthy dose of common sense. Lola Montez felt that the swollen ankles suffered by genteel Victorian ladies stemmed from “a want of exercise and sitting indolently in over-heated rooms”. The Toilette of Health and Beauty, meanwhile, advised a daily change of hosiery and well-fitting shoes. The author observed wryly that “Many volumes have been written on the art of shoeing that noble animal, the horse: it is considered as a fundamental rule in farriery, that the shoe must be neither smaller nor larger than the hoof, and yet people can submit to squeeze their feet into a narrower compass than is intended by nature”. So clean socks, moderate exercise, and no silly shoes- good sound advice, I’d say!

Love, Becky x

Meatless Monday : Sweet Chilli marinaded tofu with summer roast vegetable wraps

Monday, 18 July 2016

This year we have had a go at growing some turnips of the variety Golden Ball. Please see 'Organic garden update- Spring planting one (guest post)-' These sweet turnips are lovely roasted but if you cannot get hold of any, you could use roasted squash instead.  

Last year we grew beetroot and although we haven't this year we have been given some by our allotment friends. If you have been growing beetroot this year this would be a great way to use some of it. Please see 'Organic gardening update - harvesting the beetroot'-

Sweet Chilli marinaded tofu with summer roast vegetable wraps

Serves 4

You will need 
1 roasted Golden Ball turnip, peeled, cut in two then sliced 
1 large roasted carrot, cut into two then sliced 
1 medium beetroot, peeled, cut into two then sliced
1 400g pack firm tofu, diced 
4 wraps

For the marinade 
2 green chillis, seeds removed, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 tbsp stevia 
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
pinch pink salt
1 -2 tbsp water

Blend the ingredients for the marinade in a high speed blender until smooth. Place in a bowl with the marinade and leave in the fridge for an hour or two.  

Roast the vegetables for 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees (you can do this the night before and refrigerate if you are cooking).

Place the tofu with the marinade in a pan and heat until the marinade is reduced.

Divide the roasted vegetables and tofu between 4 wraps, roll up and serve.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 17 July 2016

This week's yoga video and blog post continues the 'Yoga to help heal after a tough time' series with 'finding pleasure in life again' - Please see my 'sister' blog-

In this blog post we look at how you can protect your knees in standing balances.
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Healthy joints are really important as we age in order to avoid osteoarthritis.
In these chair yoga videos we increase circulation to the joints and put the joints through their range of motion. 
Please see my 'sister' blog-

Natural Travel First Aid Kit - Sun Stressors

Previously on the blog, I've shown you how to avoid sunburn - my article 'Summer Skincare' will give you the lowdown on how to avoid being left red-faced (or red anywhere else!) -

If you do get caught out ,however, these are my top tips for sunburn:-

Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, and the gel can be applied to soothe sunburn. Apply gently with your finger tips until the gel is absorbed.  Aloe vera is also good for prickly heat. This itchy rash causes a prickly sensation on the skin, and is often a problem in hot weather. 

Lavender essential oil can be used for sunburn.  You can apply it neat if the area that needs treating is small, but for larger patches of skin soak a flannel in cold water to which 10-20 drops lavender has been added, and press gently on the affected area.

Camomile is also very soothing.  Brew some camomile tea and allow to cool completely. Apply to the sunburned area with a flannel.  The same remedy can be used for prickly heat.

Witch hazel is also antiflammatory, and can be applied to sunburned skin with a flannel.
These basic tips will keep you safe in the sun:

  • Seek shade if you can between 11am and 3pm 
  • Wear sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing to cover up
  • Apply sun cream every 2 hours or after swimming 
  • Stay hydrated 

Note: Seek medical help immediately if you are showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke - these include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, muscle cramps or a rapid pulse. 

Last week we looked at some natural remedies for holiday tummy troubles. 
Please see
'Natural travel first aid kit'-

Janet x

Vintage Natural Beauty- Hand Care Review

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

In last week's article I shared some tips from the Victorians about natural hand care:

This week I've been putting some of these Victorian beauty treatments to the test. After being subjected to many hours on the allotment, my hands were in need of some serious TLC. Add to this a hefty dose of laziness in keeping up a hand care routine, and I'd ended up with less than stellar-looking mitts- my nails were chipped, my hands dry and red, and my cuticles hadn't seen an orange stick in many moons. But never fear- the Victorians are here!

The first step was to trim and file my nails. Daniel Garrison Brinton and George Henry Napheys, the authors of Personal Beauty: How to Cultivate and Preserve It (1870) felt that the "nails should be oval in form", so I tried to aim for that. Once my nails were looking in better shape, it was time to deal with that pesky redness and those neglected cuticles. To do this, I bathed my hands in a lemon solution for five minutes. This was just a simple recipe of one part lemon juice to three parts warm water.

Lemons were often an important part of Victorian beauty routines, and were used to beautify both the nails and the skin of the hand. Victorian ladies used lemons to combat reddening of the skin, the presence of which showed that the lady in question had to perform- whisper it- manual labour. I don't think that I used the lemon soak enough times to notice any lightening of the skin, but lots of people do say that it works over time. 

What it did do effectively was soften my cuticles so I could push them back. This was something that the Victorians did: Garrison and Napheys wrote that "The thin skin should be pressed away from their roots so as to display the pearly half moon there situated . . . thus lengthening the oval of the nail". (Just as a heads up, don't ever be tempted to cut your cuticles- this can give you a nasty infection.) 

Part two of my Victorian-style pampering sesh was a hand scrub with oats and rosewater. I added a little hot water to a small handful of oats until it formed a thick paste, being careful not to scald myself. I then added a few drops of rosewater to the paste: 

I then scrubbed my hands with the paste using gentle circular motions. After I'd done this for a few minutes, I used the lemon water to rinse it off. (I’d recommend gently scraping off the majority of the paste back into a bowl before rinsing to avoid blocking your sink!)

To finish, I used a suitably Victorian hand moisturiser- liquid glycerine. Although I was concerned that I'd find it a bit sticky, I found that by using a small amount and rubbing it in well, I ended up with a lovely, silky-soft finish. Considering how cheap this stuff is, I'd say that you can't really go wrong. 

As a result of these Victorian treatments, I'd say that my hands are in much better condition- and I think the pampering was good for the soul as well :) If nothing else, it's inspired me to take much better care of my mitts. And that's something that any Victorian lady would be proud of. 


Becky x 

p.s. As with all natural beauty treatments, don't use if allergic to any of the ingredients. Also, if any irritation occurs, stop use immediately. 

Meatless Monday : Potato, cabbage and chickpea curry

Monday, 11 July 2016

This week we have been harvesting spring green and potatoes. If you remember this year we planted a variety called Arran Pilot which is a 'first early'.  We planted the seed potatoes in April and the potatoes are now ready to harvest.  It always seems like a miracle to me that for every seed potato you plant, you get several potatoes in return - and there is no supermarket potato that tastes as good as one you have grown yourself. Please see 'Organic garden update: spring planting four (guest post)'-

If you want to grow potatoes, its not too late.  Now is the time to plant 'lates' which incidentally do not need chitting.  These will be ready for your Christmas feasting!

growing potatoes

As for the spring greens (which can be left to form cabbages), we have learned from last year's mistakes.  If you remember our cabbage crop last year was decimated by cabbage white butterfly caterpillars- this year we netted the cabbage and they stayed netted.  Please see 'Harvesting the cabbage (or not!!)'-

harvesting the cabbage

With my potatoes and cabbage, I made this potato, cabbage and chickpea curry.  Hope you enjoy!

Potato, cabbage and chickpea curry

Serves 2 
You will need

400g potatoes, cut into chunks and boiled until just tender
1 tbsp organic olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced 
2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 tsp pink salt
150g shredded spring greens/cabbage

Heat the oil and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, spices and salt and continue to cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the shredded cabbage, parboiled potatoes and a little water if necessary and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender.  Stir in the chickpeas and heat through.  Serve with naan bread or rice.

Janet x 

Recipe Copyright © 2016 40plusandalliswell

This week on Flexiladiesyoga

Sunday, 10 July 2016

In the 'yoga to help heal after a tough time' series we are looking at how yoga can help with any insecurities, fears and anger. 

In this week's blog post we look at how to protect your knees in some revolved standing poses.

Upper back pain can result from poor posture over time. It may also be accompanied by shoulder and neck pain or even lower back pain. 
The following yoga sequence on my 'sister' blog stretches the shoulder and chest muscles and releases tension in the neck. The sequence can be practiced on a chair so it is suitable for all -