Happy Yom Kippur

Reality is not my forte. Never has been.

Keeping my heart open in reality takes too much work, too much courage. As a young child I would go into the trees behind our house and play with imaginary friends instead of the real ones I had.

As an elementary school kid I would go ride my bike and feel the wind in my hair, instead of doing my homework.

As a teenager I would, well, avoid reality whenever I could.

As an adult, I focus on things that are not important such as their messy room, how it takes them too long to respond when I am talking, and how they forgot to do their laundry.

I focus on goals I am not accomplishing in each moment such as feeding all the hungry children of the world and housing all the homeless.
I waste precious time escaping reality on Facebook and watching movies on Netflix when I could be spending time with the people I deeply love, giving them all my heart.

My mind is visibly elsewhere during Minecraft explanations, origami demonstrations and D & D .. whatever they are called.
I am busy trying to brush their hair and make them eat broccoli when they are just wanting a hug and a book read to them.
I am planning the open design kitchen my husband will build me instead of the amazing way he sits with the children to help them focus on their homework every school night.

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All these things do want to get done, but in each moment, I want to be in that moment, not the next or the one before. What is it they say about having one foot in the present and the other in the future.. something happens to the present, ahem.

I want to walk with my heart in the lead, not with my mind spinning.
This is the work for me this coming year. Writing it here makes it true, yes?

This Yom Kippur, I will praying for more time to do this work and correct this tendency as much as I can. I will be praying for one more year to give them hugs, sit down to dinner, and maybe even pretend to love Minecraft. I will be praying for one more year and the wisdom to appreciate it and to treat it as the gift that it truly is.

May it be a beautiful year of peace, health, love and light for all of us.

5 Things Not To do When Getting Your Kids Ready For Overnight Camp

How can a made bed possibly bring so many emotions?
Deep breath, smile. Ok,.. as promised..

Getting Kids Ready For Sleepaway Camp For The First Time

1 Do not start 2 days before they leave for camp.
2 Unless you function best under ridiculous pressure, do not start a week and a half before you launch 8 new products on your herbal skincare line.
3 Do not do the laundry and pack their stuff on a really beautiful day when you would rather have everyone outside.
4 Do not think about all the little things the camp doesn’t know about your kid like how he forgets to drink water and will never put on a jacket unless you tell him to. It doesn’t mean he isn’t cold, it just means he is busy with more interesting thoughts.
5 Do not let them see you cry, it is good, they are blessed to have such a wonderful place to go to. Be grateful and let go.

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.

5 Fascinating Musings Over Why I hate and love my dehumidifier.

1 Well, it pulls humidity out of the air. In soupy New Jersey in the summer, that means your dehumidifier is your best friend.

2 Dehumidifiers smell bad because the bucket holds stagnant moisture pulled from the air. I keep a bottle of leftover essential oils from experimental recipes, and fill a dropper of it into my dehumidifier every time I think of it (a few times a week) to keep it from molding. I just started this genius practice this summer, so far so good.

3 A portable dehumidifier, handy as it may be is also a pain in the butt. Ok, so you can hook it up to a drain in the basement, that’s smart and you never have to really think about it. But in our house in summer, we need the thing upstairs, and there is no good place to hook it up just for summer, so it sits in the hallway. In a house with 4 kids, another thing in the hallway is a pain in the butt.

4 I don’t know where you live, but here in the garden state we have to empty it every day. Another thing to do. I’m not kvetching but, wait no I am kvetching. Get over it. 🙂

5 A dehumidifier is meant to pull moisture out of the air in summer but it blows out warm air. It’s 2015 people, we couldn’t find a way to make it blow cool air?

There you have it. My relationship with my dehumidifier. Complex and baffling.
What paradoxical feelings do you have about your various home appliances? Be in touch below or on your favorite social media, please let me know I am not alone it this struggle!

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!)
http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/

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. http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-sunscreen/

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.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17188472photo(46).

How to Grow Calendula At Home, And Why You Should

We first discussed the healing powers of calendula in our blog post on Why Calendula Belongs In Your First Aid Kit and Your Skincare Routine . Calendula is truly a healing powerhouse. Its powerful role in protecting and repairing the skin, including on a DNA level, and soothing irritation and redness, are well known and supported by peer-reviewed scientific research. It is used for everything from dermatitis to acne and from cleaning wounds to healing digestive ailments. But did you know that you can grow this magical ornamental and therapeutic “marigold” yourself in your own home garden to enjoy it for both its beauty and for its healing properties? Here’s what you need to know to grow these glorious golden blooms:

  • Order calendula seeds from a reputable organic seed vendor. Healing calendula is known colloquially as “pot marigold” and scientifically as Calendula officianalis (C. officianalis). This is not to be mistaken for other more common varieties of marigold which are a different genus and more widely available at garden centers.
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  • Plant the large, curved calendula seeds in a deep pot with potting soil. If planting in a garden, it can tolerate even poor soil, although it will thrive in well-worked and fertile soil and produce more blooms. It can be planted in full sun or partial shade and does well even in foggy areas where it stays cool during the day. The seeds germinate easily (germination takes 7 to 14 days) and can grow in almost any climate in the United States, except the very most arid or arctic.
  • Seeds can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost or can be direct-seeded outdoors in the spring. Whether planting indoors or out of doors, plant seeds ¼” below the surface of the soil and water regularly. If started indoors, the plants should grow to 4-5 inches and show some leaves before being transplanted 6” from each other. Plants will grow to a height of 2 to 2 ½ feet.
  • Harvest flowers in the hottest part of the day during the summer when the flowers are entirely dry and the healing resins are at their highest level. Harvest throughout the season as flowers bloom by snapping flowers off the plant. Dry flowers them by hanging them in an area with good airflow or placing on a drying screen or in a dehydrator at low temperature. Drying should occur out of direct sunlight. It will generally take 7-10 days to fully dry flowers.
  • Use the dried or fresh flowers in tea or in a tincture. Fresh flowers can be cut for decorative use but are also edible. They can be served raw in a salad, added to soups for color and flavor, or mixed in with goat cheese for a lovely presentation. Dried flowers can also be used to infuse oil for external use as a skin treatment. Keep in mind that some people are allergic to calendula and it is advised that it be avoided internally during pregnancy.

Happy growing!

Why Calendula Belongs in Your First Aid Kit and Your Skincare Routine

Calendula (Calendula officianalis) has long been known as one of the most healing herbs in the herbal apothecary. It has sacred status in India, is known as “Mary’s Gold” in tribute to the Virgin Mary in Catholic tradition, and was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks in many ceremonies. Calendula is often used topically for ailments and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes such as itching, contact dermatitis and heat rash. It is used to reduce swelling and inflammation, including of the mouth and throat, as well as to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and proctitis and to heal abrasions. It has a history of being used for detoxifying the gallbladder and liver when taken internally as well as to treat fevers and prevent muscle spasms (including menstrual cramps). It has become familiar for its presence in popular homeopathic skin preparations for burns, rashes, and itching. The uses for this plant are amazingly varied.

Calendula is a type of marigold, but it is not of the same genus as the common marigold, that vibrant and ubiquitous flower of orange and yellow and red that shows its fiery colors in front yard gardens. The common garden marigold sadly does not contain the same therapeutic properties as potent calendula does… Yet even if you can’t pick up a calendula plant of your own at any home and garden center, you can grow your own calendula (C. officianalis) to use for therapeutic purposes at home!

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Ora’s Amazing Herbal’s Advanced Nightly Skin Repair Phytonutrient Face Oil Serum and Lightweight Daily Nourish Face Oil Serums are cold-infused with organic calendula because of not only the herbal wisdom of the ancients but also modern scientific research that has verified many of the herb’s benefits in the laboratory. This includes studies that have proven its potency as an antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent and a protector of genetic material, preventing skin mutations that can result in cancer. Our facial skin is the neediest skin on our body, especially as we age. It’s constantly exposed to the sun, environmental toxins and wind. Calendula applied to the skin directly is uniquely able to help soothe irritation, reduce redness, calm breakouts, moisturize, and repair sun damage.

Calendula has an important role to play in your skincare routine for preventing and reversing aging, as well as in your first aid kit for the treatment of rashes, itching, inflammation and abrasions. It can often be used as a replacement for over-the-counter hydrocortisone-based creams (but consult your healthcare professional first). Try keeping a calendula cream, lotion or healing salve in your first aid kit, especially during the summer when many people are most active and prone to irritation and injury. For maximum healing, sun damage protection and calming for your delicate facial skin, try facial serums and other skin care products that list calendula as one of the first ingredients. Let this vibrant golden flower work its soothing magic, just as it has done since ancient times.

Is Tamanu Oil the New Argan Oil? The Story of a Little-Known Miracle Oil That Can Transform Your Skin

Tamanu

One of the key ingredients in our Advanced Nightly Skin Repair Phytonutrient Face Oil Serum is tamanu oil, an oil that is still unknown to many in the Western world. Although the mainstream market has discovered Moroccan argan oil and added it to all kinds of hair and skin products, tamanu oil is just starting to gain attention as the public starts to learn about how this humble little nut can be transformed into an oil with incredible skin-healing and anti-aging properties.

Tamanu nuts (Calophyllum inophyllum) are typically grown in Southeast Asia, East Africa and Australia. They are dried for several months until the nut secretes its precious oil that is cold-pressed to create a skin-healing oil that has anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. It is noted for its ability to heal scars and wounds and reduce stretch marks as well as its effectiveness in the treatment of mild abrasions and rashes. It is strongly anti-inflammatory and also full of antioxidants that can help prevent or reverse signs of aging. Tamanu oil has been used by traditional cultures to protect the skin from extreme weather. Preliminary research has indicated that tamanu oil contains an anti-inflammatory compound called calophyllolide as well as a form of vitamin E and other anti-oxidants.

Tamanu oil is strongly regenerative for the skin thanks to its free-radical-neutralizing polyphenol content, which is why Ora’s Amazing Herbals uses it as a key ingredient in our Night Serum. But it is also used for psoriasis, acne, athlete’s foot, rheumatism, scabies, eczema, sunburn and to prevent wrinkles. It is also used for topical pain relief, as it can relieve some of the symptoms of shingles, joint pain and other conditions. It is known in Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands for its ability to heal chapped or burned skin. Peer-reviewed research studies have shown tamanu oil’s efficacy in healing scars.

Tamanu oil, in combination with other phytonutrient-rich oils such as carrot seed oil and pomegranate oil, is a critical ingredient in our popular new Advanced Nightly Skin Repair Phytonutrient Face Oil Serum. Our restorative serums use only gluten-free, all-natural ingredients to protect and repair your skin and keep your face glowing all year long.

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.