Make Tea Not War

I love autumn but I hate all the warm, cold, warm, cold, warm, cold confusion. It just wreaks havoc on our immune systems in this house. We have one kid with a cough, one kid with the sniffles, one who is exhausted and one who is, well he is a teenager. Finally today I declared war on seasonal change! And by war I mean I made tea. Here is what I made.
All quantities are eyeball estimates of volume and not weight. The highly complex reason for this is that I am a busy woman and eyeballing is just fine for this. Don’t judge my imprecision! How much measuring do you do when you make tea?

2 oz broken up cinnamon sticks
6 oz hibiscus flowers
4 oz elderberry flowers
4 oz rosehip

Dump it all into a quart size mason jar and shake till well mixed. It will be about half empty. You can add more herbs to fill it if you want, I just like having space to easily blend.
Scoop about an ounce into a quart size mason jar, add boiling water to fill.
Allow to steep until some child comes in complaining or coughing or asking for a tissue.
This may be 8 minutes or 8 hours, both are fine. One is stronger than the other but both have major benefit.
Strain out the infusion. Add water if it is too strong. And raw local honey if you must get it sweetened in order to attain .. compliance, as they call it. It should be yummy so they chug it and ask for more, but too much sugar (yes even honey counts) is not good for the immune system. You know your audience, make your decision for them.
I also sometimes add a cup of the strong (~ 8 hour) infusion to a pitcher of water and put it on the table for dinner, it is always gone by the end of the meal.
Enjoy! Be well!

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.

No Matter How Crunchy You Are, Think Twice Before You DIY Sunscreen

Natural sunscreen do’s and don’ts.

People keep asking me why I don’t sell a natural sunscreen.
The truth of the matter is that I use my Nightly Repair Face Serum in the morning, and although I state no claims, it has enough natural SPF from the tamanu, carrot, and other oils that I don’t need any SPF on my face most days. (See below for citation on a study I found about SPF of tamanu). If I am to spend a day in full sun I use a lab tested, mineral based high SPF sunscreen from a company I trust such as Badger Balm, with sunglasses and clothing as sun protection. A day of full sun happens for me about once a summer. At most I tend to spend an hour or two in full sun, during which I am happy to soak up the rays and feel my melanocytes getting their Vitamin D absorption on.

In the meantime here are a few do’s and don’ts.

1 Do refer to the EWG guide to sunscreen to educate yourself and to double check your choice. They have a search bar, where you can enter the product you are considering and they will rate it for you. (We aren’t on there yet, but we sure hope to be soon!)

2 DON’T shmear yourself or your kids in a bunch of oil that you read somewhere online has SPF *8-10 and go to the beach all day. YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WILL BURN! For example I have seen people say things like, “Just use coconut and olive oil!”. As a pale skin person with experience in the sunburn from just shmearing oil department I can say to you, “NO! Make sure you have actual sunblock on if you are going to depend on a skincare product to protect you from the sun.

3 Any natural DIY recipe that has only oils, and no mineral blocking agent such as non-nano zinc oxide, is not to be depended upon.

4 If you want to make your own sunscreen you can check out this article for guidelines. She is talking sense.

5 An easy option is to add some non-nano zinc oxide (see chart in #4) to some of our body butter which is about SPF 8 and use that as sunscreen. Just warm up the body butter in the sun or however else you want and mix it in, then place in freezer to re-solidify. This is basically what I do for my own DIY sunscreen. I don’t use it for a day at the beach though, for that I call in the big guns that have been lab tested for SPF of at least 30.

In case you are interested. Here is a link to the abstract about the tamanu oil study that I found. It was designed in order to assess the possibility of using tamanu oil in an opthalmic solution, since chemical sunblocks are cytotoxic (kill cells) and cause damage to the eye.

How to Make Green Eggs That Your Kids Will Love

Last week my childrenʼs school celebrated Dr. Seussʼs birthday. In the kindergarten class they made green eggs by mixing spinach with eggs. My 5 year old who had been refusing eggs for months came home asking for green eggs. I wasnʼt there when they made it at school so I winged it.

I filled the container with fresh spinach and then added 3 eggs. I use organic extra large. I then sczoozced them together.

photo 1 (7) photo 2 (6)

photo 2 (5)photo 1 (6)

I heated my trusty cast iron frying pan, added a pat of good quality butter, spread it around the pan and added the green mixture and cooked it just like regular scrambled eggs.

I called it “green eggs in a pan” … get it? Green Eggs and Ham… green eggs in a pan…? My 5 year old didnʼt get it either, she said “No! Itʼs just called green eggs!” Ok, we can call it whatever you want.

Served it with tomato salsa and a size of frozen cherries.

Why frozen cherries? She wanted frozen cherries, what can I say.

This was a super easy way to get some protein, iron, B vitamins, and fiber into my kid with a bout 5 minutes of cooking time. My kind of instant gratification.

photo 3 (2) Green Eggs

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.

Mamas Touchy Tummy Ache Triumph

Ora's Amazing Herbal - baby

Warning:If you are not a parent of a young child, this post will probably be a little bit TMI. Yesterday, my little shmookey, no not my pookey, my shmookkey, had a tummy ache. hot-water-bottle-with-coverI was pretty sure it was nothing serious but I needed to offer her some comfort that would encourage it to, um, pass. First I tried to give her an herbal tincture I have for tummy discomfort. Let us say that low compliance interfered with that strategy. Then I had one of those I am a mother which means I am amazing moments. I filled a good ol hot water bottle with hot water. It’s the kind that has its own sweater so it can never get to hot on the skin, like the one on the. Then I gently rubbed some Touchy Skin Salve on her tummy in a clockwise (from my perspective) direction. It makes perfect sense because the ingredients in that salve are all anti-inflammatory and soothing. I was kicking myself for never thinking of it sooner. Just for a minute or two. Then I put the hot water bottle on her and told her I’d be back to check on her in a few minutes. When I came back she was asleep. An hour later she got up and took care of business. Triumph over the touchy tummy.  TouchySkinSalve_Both_OpenJar2

Good times!

Be Well,


(Photos: David Zimand)

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