5 Ways For Moms To Make Their Face More Beautiful In Summer

1 Every time you make your kids drink water, drink water. Hydration is key.

2 Every time you make your kids eat some fruit and veggies, eat some fruits and veggies. Your skin will thank you for the nutrients.

3 Every time you get your kids in to bed to make sure they get a good night sleep, get yourself into bed for a good night sleep. Say goodbye to having tired looking face.

4 Yeah right, ok fine, go for a nice brisk walk. Increasing your blood flow brings better color and tone to your skin.

5 When you put a sunhat on your kid, put a sunhat on yourself. Protecting your skin from the sun is important, but sunscreen has its drawbacks and limitations. A hat and sunglasses are a great idea for helping prevent dun damage.

6 When you look at your kid and smile and tell him/her “I love you so much”, go find a mirror and repeat.

Alternatives to Steroids for Eczema in Kids & Adults

Natural Eczema Treatment

Anyone with eczema can testify to the quick speed with which most doctors are ready to dispense prescriptions for steroid creams. However, an increasing number of people are turning a skeptical eye towards this conventional approach to treatment and questioning steroids’ safety. These creams are absorbed into the body through the skin. There are strict maximums on steroid dosages due to potential side effects, which children are particularly prone to. Although regarded by many as a benign medication, steroid creams can actually cause growth restriction for children, thinning of the skin, depigmentation, contact dermatitis, stretchmarks, and more. Although there are cases where eczema requires medical treatment, there are safer alternatives to steroid creams that can be tried first.

The first “treatment” to try for eczema is not a treatment at all but rather prevention via the identification of eczema triggers. Take a look at what some factors might be in causing the appearance or worsening of eczema. This includes infections; very hot or very cold weather; environmental allergens such as pollen, mold, dust, or pets; skin exposure to substances that can irritate the skin, such as many soaps and laundry detergents, body care products, and cleaning products. Even emotional stress can cause an eczema flare. Changing hormone levels may also trigger it, as can certain foods (whether or not you have a truly allergy to them).

The second natural approach that can be taken to treat eczema is the use of chemical-free moisturizers, emollients and oils to sooth the skin and deeply moisturize it, as well as protecting it from weather changes and irritants. When Ora’s Amazing Herbal was first launched, two of our first products were our All-Purpose Salve and Touchy Skin Salve. These were initially created by founder Ora Assayag to treat her own child’s severe eczema in order to avoid resorting to the antibiotics and corticosteroids suggested by doctors. Ora quickly discovered these salves were effective for the treatment of eczema and extremely dry skin, didn’t cause stinging for people with irritated and sensitive skin, and provided a protective barrier for people engaging in work or play that can irritate and dry out the skin, in addition to having many healing properties. They can be applied to a child’s exposed skin before going out into the cold or heat, used to treat rough, dry or irritated patches of skin, and can even be effective for cradle cap. Consider giving safe salves and healing oils a try before resorting to medical treatments that may cause as many problems as they solve.

Do NOT Put THAT On Your Skin!

Shea Butter

It seems intuitive that using natural and pure skincare and clean eating are the same thing. Everything that goes on your skin gets absorbed through your skin to your underlying adipose (fat) cells, to your blood, and from there to your whole body.

When I cook food, I do not add Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, or Propylparaben. When I shop at the store I read ingredients, and when I see things like yellow #5, which are known to accumulate over time in the body, I do not purchase those products.

For me, the same goes with skincare. So when formulating my new Ultra Healing Body Butter, it was a no-brainer to select ingredients that I want absorbed into my body.

Shea Butter
Shea butter is an all-natural ingredient made from the nuts of karite nut trees (Butyrospermum parkii or “butter seed”) that grow wild in the savannah regions of West and East Africa. I particularly love the addition of shea butter in this formula, for a few reasons. Obviously the way it feels and how well it works are the first reason. The next is its high nutrient density, vitamins A and E and essential fatty acids, to be specific. Shea butter can be used on babies and pets without any concerns, and feels delicious from the minute it goes on until hours later. It is often used for eczema, stretch mark preventions and minimizing, razor bumps, and plain ol’ dry skin and hair. Organic unrefined shea butter has a buttery texture and nutty scent, as well as an approximate SPF of 6.

Complementing organic shea butter with apricot kernel, castor, and my herbal infused base oil, gives me all the elements I could imagine wanting in a body butter.

I love to take a long hot shower or bath, scrub down, and then after drying off and body powdering, use my face serum and body butter. My skin is fed, I am a whole new me.

My skin is truly clean and happy. And so am I.

Why It Is Taking Me So Long To Come Out With These Washes

Herbal Skin Care - Our Work Desk - Ora's Amazing Herbal

I remember in smell, don’t you? My mothers kitchen when I was a kid. I smell mac n cheese when I smell my mothers kitchen in my memory, but then it drifts to chicken soup. My dog. That dog was such a lunatic dog. She used to jump the fence and go for a run and then just come on back whenever she pleased. We tried everything but she just was gonna go for a run. My babies, their sweet sweet heads, their stinky, funky folds.

Someone told me today that my house is a good smell when you walk in. I almost cried. What a wonderful thing to say to a person. So important.

I suppose though that there is a reason those smells are so precious to me. It is not just the smells themselves.

I have to think it through. This precious work.

If I were to come out with a hand and body wash, and a mother used it in her bathroom or by the magic of the family kitchen sink, and it was made with the purest ingredients and scented with thoughtfulness and essential oils only, it could only be good, right?

But then what if she had a guest in her kitchen, and they used the soap, and the smell was horrible to them, like old gym shoes.

Wouldn’t that say something about me?

When I first started learning how to cook, I could not serve my food. I was living in a house with friends and we would often have dinner guests. Usually, it was a table with 20 or so people all squished cozy together, some lounging on pillows. I think the table was actually a door laid out over cinderblocks on the old stone floor. Everyone would contribute something to the meal, either food or wine, and music. I would sometimes make some food to go on the table. I could never be the one to bring out my food though. I could bring out someone else’s food, but never my own creation.

My friend Anna, who was born a wise woman, sent me out of the kitchen one night.
She just smiled at me and said, here take this out.
What a beautiful friend.

10 Things I Would Tell Myself 12 Years Ago When I Became A Mom

When I first became a mother, I panicked. It was the first time in life I had ever committed to something that I could never walk away from if the going got rough. It was the first time the buck really ever stopped with me. Really, anything else, if you really have to, you can walk away. This motherhood thing was different (insert the word fatherhood if you are a dad) and it freaked me out. On reflecting upon my initiation into motherhood, I thought of the things I wish someone had engrained in me in the beginning. I wrote these 10 things from my current self, the relaxed, well balanced, fully in control and always put together (ahem ahem) mother of 12 years and four amazing, compassionate, beautiful (now I’m not joking it’s really totally true) kids.

Notes to self:

1. You are doing the best you can. Assume the same in everyone else. There may be a few mothers out there who don’t care about their children, I am told, but I have yet to meet one. They are the exception. Most mothers love their children and are doing the best they can with what they have. Don’t judge them or yourself. If you feel like you could do more, do more. If you feel like you can’t, don’t.

2.  You are the only mother your children will ever have. If they need someone to make clear boundaries, set standards, draw a line, make a hard decision, fight a battle, it is your job. No one else can tell you when it is time to do this and when it is time to let it go. You are their only mother who would kill or die for these people without any hesitation, and who really knows them well enough to be equipped to make that decision. You are the only one with the power to always and without fail, have their best interest in mind. Do not let anyone ever tell you what is right for your children. Collect info, research, get support where you need it, and make decisions based on what is right for you and your family and no one else ever.

3.  It will never be enough. It’s ok. You are their mother, you are not Gd. You can not make the world a different place than what it is. You can however do your best to prepare your children for the world that you brought them into. Heartbreaking, but true.

4.  Change is constant. Do what is right for you and your family now, and don’t be afraid to change it up. Each child is different, every stage is different, you as a mother have learned and grown. It is good.

5.  Being a martyr does not make you a good mother. An exhausted, out of shape, poorly fed, unhappy mother, teaches children that model. The only way to teach your children to be energetic, healthy, nourished, and happy, is to be those things for yourself first.

6.  Your kids know you. Do not underestimate them. Maintain your integrity, and be honest with them. Apologize, and grow. They love you. They will forgive you.

7.  Give them responsibility as soon as they are capable. You are their teacher, not their slave. The best way is to teach it is to do it together until they can take over.

8.  Their siblings are your gift to them. Long after you are gone, they will have each other. Help them love each other. Teach them forgiveness and compassion for one another, not by telling, but by showing. Don’t feel guilty when you don’t have all the time you wish you had for each individual. After all, they have each other too, because you did that for them.

9.  Remember how hard it is to be a kid. Tell them about it.

10.  Show your family that you appreciate and are grateful for them. More important than what diapers you use, what baby carrier you wear, how many years you breastfeed exclusively, how many beds you fit in the bedroom, what grass fed organic butter you use on your sprouted gluten free dehydrated omega 3 probiotic crackers, what education system you choose, what religion and spiritual path you ascribe to, is to smile at each other and be grateful for every moment.

Thank you, self. I will keep that in mind.

Be Well, – Ora

photo of me and the girls

Toss in and walk away broccoli rabe and baby zuchini weekday dinner!

Ora's Amazing Herbal

Got your attention didn’t I? That gorgeous brilliant green in a setting of rustic homey and wholesome cast iron did it. Well I hate to tell you, this is no knock out recipe. Since our business has been growing, I have been finding myself taking the softer easier way when it comes to food prep. I suppose my background in holistic nutrition and whole foods preparation makes my easier softer way meal look like a gourmet meal compared to a Wacky Mac  kitchen adventure, but still I feel the need to confess last nights dinner. I put it all in the oven and walked away to “do homework with kids”. Translation: play with essential oils so finalize next product formula by deadline while yelling from my home office “Stop goofin around and do your homework!”

Preheat oven to 425.

Salmon, picked up from fish store on way home from driving carpool. Midpiece, 2 #. Not the tail, it’s dry. Put in baking dish, slice across 3-4 times to allow seasoning in, pour on some soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder and squeeze 1/2 lemon on it. Plop in oven.

Red potatoes. (Organic important) Wash, put in baking dish, cover with lid or foil. Plop in oven.

And now the moment you have all been waiting for.

Broccoli rabe and baby zucchini. Open package of broccoli rabe, run water over it while checking for aphids, this season, not aphids so far. Place in cast iron skillet. Cut open package of baby zucchini. Fill package with water and drain repeatedly 2-3 times or until emotionally secure that we can pretend its been really washed. Place in pan with broccoli rabe. Peel a few cloves garlic and put them is. Sprinkle some sea salt.  Drizzle some olive oil. Shmoosh around with fingers. Plop in oven . Walk away.

Come back when it all smells good.

Run some water over some organic (tomatoes are on the dirty dozen now) grape tomatoes and pour into a bowl.

Bring out some organic butter and sour creme if desired for potatoes.

There! I made a multicolor fresh meal and spent 10 minutes in the kitchen.

Hey, maybe we’re not doing so bad after all.

Here’s a serious question, though: Do you believe maternal diet for a breastfeeding mum can trigger cradle cap?

I believe that everything we eat when we are breastfeeding affects our babies.

That said, a crazy neurotic mom who is so afraid to eat anything lest their precious baby get a pimple, is not a happy and well nourished mom. If mom is not well nourished and happy, baby is not well nourished and happy.

I had two colicky and cradle cappy babies with rashes and all kinds of stuff. When I went into labor with my third, I swore off all dairy (except butter, because it has no casein or lactose). She was never colicky or cradle cappy at all. When she was about 2 months old I tried about an ounce of milk in my tea. She screamed for hours. My fourth, the same story. I am not an anti dairy person. I do dairy (organic and grass fed as much as possible), but a mom of a colicky baby is never a happy well nourished mom. Notice the theme here?

The Blessings of a Home Birth


In the wake of all this talk about birth and womenʼs rights to choose if, how, when, where and with whom to give birth, I recently discovered that I have been blessed beyond belief – more than any woman I know.

Donʼt worry, I am not going to go on and on about all the things I am blessed with. I simply have to say that I have four children and absolutely no birth trauma.

No c-section stories.
No episiotomies.
No monitors strapped 
to me in labor so I couldn’t move.
No food restrictions during labor.
No patronizing 
comments or looks by medical staff.
No encouragement to give up on the natural thing 
and just go ahead and have the epidural.
No unwanted prophylactic treatments of my 
newborn without my consent.
No separation of my baby from me ever at any time.
loud or sudden noises causing a rush of adrenalin into my bloodstream during labor impeding the effectiveness of the other birth hormones and increasing my chance of needing medical interventions.
No beeping machines.
No feelings of not being safe or 
lack of trust in those who I depended on for the survival of myself and my baby.
dehumanizing invasion of privacy.
No eyes rolling at me.
No pressure to commit fear-
based decision making instead of information-based decision making.
No excessive 
ultrasound requirements.
No lack of attentive support.
No being left naked in a paper 
shirt in a cold room with my feet in stirrups waiting for some stranger to come touch my most vulnerable body parts.
No CYA (cover your ass) policy and protocol based 
confrontations with caretakers during before or after labor causing detrimental or debilitating stress to me and my family.
No lack of supportive and consistent council
during postpartum breastfeeding difficulty.
No being subject to medical negligence
during prenatal care, labor, postpartum or well visits with no legal recourse because I was forced to sign release forms in order to receive care.
No lack of baby care 
resources as a first-time mom.
No uninvited and not prescreened strangers in my sacred 
birth space.
No feelings of powerlessness (except in surrendering completely and 
blissfully to God during labor but I think thatʼs actually powerfulness; at least it was for me)
No postpartum depression due to lack of support and follow up care including 
herbal medicine support for balancing hormones by my highly trained, and experienced home-birth midwives.

Like I said, I have been blessed beyond belief.

photography by David Zimand

Things to remember when surviving colic

My first 2 babies were colicky. It was hell. Pure hell. Here are a few things that may be helpful:

  1. If you are losing your mind, it will come back. Itʼs ok.
  2. The baby may be screaming like crazy but he/she is safe. Do whatever you need to do to keep it that way. The human nervous system can only take so much high frequency and high volume sound. Sometimes the best choice means putting the baby down safely and walking away for a moment. Itʼs ok.
  3. If you and your baby are crying at the same time, itʼs ok.
  4. If you have a partner, they may not be perfect, none of them are. They may not do things exactly the way you would, but they can help. Let them.
  5. Going outside often works better than anything. Put that baby in a carrier and walk. Donʼt worry about waking up the neighbors. 
  6. Change of scenery is good. I became good friends with the grocer, I was the only one in the store wearing a screaming infant while browsing the bulk whole grains section. Itʼs ok.
  7. Try eliminating all dairy for 3 weeks. I know it sounds ridiculous and impossible but I speak both as a nutritionist and as a mother. My irst two babies were colicky. They screamed for up to eight hours straight, daily for months. I tried going off dairy but never absolutely and totally for more than a few days. When I was pregnant with our 3rd, we were dreading it.  I went off all dairy the minute I went into labor. We waited for her to start crying, but she never did. When she was 2 months old, I put a little milk in my tea, like maybe an ounce. She screamed for hours that night. In my experience as a nutritionist, I have found 3 weeks to be the amount of time it takes to get a real assessment but usually by two weeks you can tell its helping. Try going off all dairy for 3 weeks. Trust me I learned this one the hard way. If you are feeding formula, try changing the formula. If none of this works, at least you will know you tried. It still will not last forever. Itʼs ok. 
  8. Look at and talk to your baby. Even when you are feeling overwhelmed and losing your mind, if you can stay calm, you can be supportive and nurturing. Trust me, mothers fake it all the time. Itʼs ok.
  9. Protect your back. Use pillows to support your arm for breastfeeding, even if you think you donʼt need it. Take care of yourself. Itʼs ok.
  10. Drink more water. Drink water every hour. You have time to drink water even while the baby is screaming. Itʼs ok.
  11. Wearing your baby can calm both you and your baby. You can move around and get things done while still being attentive and feeling close. Wearing the baby inward so you are tummy to tummy can be a good way to maintain constant gentle abdominal pressure on the baby, which is also helpful . I prefer a wrap for wearing newborns. It supports my back as well as keeping the baby safe and secure. When positioning the baby in the wrap, pay attention that his/her head isnʼt hyperextended forward, as this can be dangerous. If wearing your baby doesn’t work, itʼs still ok.
  12. We used to rest the baby carrier on top of the yoga ball and bounce, sometimes that worked really well. (Baby fully buckled in and someone still holding the carrier). This way if they fall asleep you can put the baby and carrier down and have a cup of tea. 
  13. Speaking of tea, herbal teas like this postpartum formula can really help keep the stress hormones from taking over. Iʼm a big fan of this one because it worked for me within minutes, and because it is made by beautiful wonderful friends. 

Amazingly enough, mothers, fathers and babies survive colic  all the time. It will not last forever. Your child will not be walking down the wedding aisle screaming bloody murder. 

You are doing great. Itʼs ok.

How to Clean a Big Fat Baby

I don’t mean to brag, but I have fat babies. Rolly-polly nook-and-cranny babies. I’m one of those cooky moms who breastfeed exclusively for a very long time, so I don’t know why my babies are fat. I do know it’s a blessing though because all my friends with skinny babies are always worrying and complaining that their babies are too skinny. For mothers of skinny babies check ups are traumatic, and diapers are always leaking. Grandmothers and poorly misguided pediatritians are pushing formula and early solid introduction even though the kid is just fine and everyone knows that breast is best. It’s a nightmare.

I don’t have that problem. I have the opposite problem. What could be the problem with a fat baby you say? I’ll tell you what the problem is. It’s the shmutz. Keeping a fat baby clean is like trying to keep a kitchen counter made out of macaroni clean. Cooked macaroni. How to do get the shmutz out? If you wash it every day, it’s too much wear and tear and if you don’t it gets deeply disgusting, fast. Same for a baby, if you bathe them every day, their skin gets too dry and irritated. And even if you do that, how do you get that god awful smelling neck dry and staying clean after the bath? I have tried keeping a fat neck extended enough to be aired out. It does not work and you get one pissed off kid! And that behind the ears cheese receptacle, and oh lord, the belly button. Even if you have a skinny baby, you have that to deal with.

And what soap do you use? The one with the sodium laurel sulfate, or the one with the carcinogenic refined petroleum derrivatives that you can’t pronounce? Or the “natural” one, with the “fragrance”?

Well by my fourth baby, I finally came up with a perfect strategy. Don’t wash, wipe. That’s right, just wipe it out. Make or get some salve, made with non synthetic and non irritating ingredients only, put some on your clean hands, and wipe out the shmutz. Wipe out behind the ears, under the arms and all those places. Wipe down that squishy tushy while you are at it. Put some on a q-tip and clean out the belly button. Don’t use any water, because water just feeds the festering bacteria and yeasts that are waiting to grow in that nice cozy environment. Salve is lipid (oil) based and has no water in it so it works as a moisture barrier keeping skin moist but not promoting any nasty microbial growth which can lead to stink, rashes, and infections. Then wash and dry your hands and do it one more time. Wipe down that whole baby with smooth and shmeary salve. Make it like a little baby massage time

Don’t get me wrong, when the frozen blueberries she had for breakfast come back to haunt you, it’s time for a bath. But in between those events, take a little advice. Don’t wash, wipe.