Category Archives: Organic Mama Cafe

Skinny Is the New Black

By | Local Phoenix, Natural Health, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Today’s post is by Cassandra, another incredible woman who happens to be a long time friend. (How did I get so lucky to know all these amazing women?) We got to talking online one night about body image and – this is the result. I had no idea this was Cassandra private journey. Her words are raw and powerful. Chances are, someone in your life is fighting the same battle and needs to hear this story from someone who is learning to see herself for the beauty she is, from the inside out. Meet my friend, Cassie.

Cassie - skinny is the new black

5 foot 7, 115 pounds.

Soaking wet. These are Numbers that I would have at one point sold my soul to the devil for. (At least the Devil Who Wears Prada.)

I was never the “skinny girl” growing up. But I never EVER felt like the “fat girl” either…

I ate whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and I wore a size 12. Let’s be honest, I bought 10’s that I had to lay on the floor to zip up. And, I was happy. No one ever mentioned my weight or criticized how I looked, I was just me. And it was amazing.

Then one day I went with my best friend to one of those “cattle call” modeling seminars…

You know the ones? Where they’re just trying to get you to pay 1500$ for pictures and teach you how to not trip on a catwalk. My friend looked like a Giselle. Tall, slender, blonde, high cheekbones…perfect fit for a runway model.

And – surprise, surprise. My friend made it through the first round as I sat outside on a curb waiting for the seminar to be finished and her mom to come pick us up. What a crazy feeling to look back 15 years later and realize how such a seemingly small event would create ripples and tidal waves of doubt and image issues that would echo to this day.

I remember the first time I made myself throw up.

I chose a salad With Italian dressing. A salad??? Total amateur move. It digests before you can even hiccup! I didn’t know any better. I didn’t even realize the toilet was a much more appropriate place to do that than in the shower. But from that day on, there was a voice in me that said “you’re not good enough. And you never will be.”

And so it began. All through high school it’d be a constant battle between “I love food SO much” eating an entire bread bag of donuts in 2 days and “just looking at food makes me disgusted”….even through my college years I got bigger-not smaller—using food as a comfort blanket, never connecting it with deeply rooted insecurity…

Let’s add more fuel to the fire and fast forward to my move to Nashville.

My first job was an omelet chef –yes, we do exist— working for a catering company (surrounded by food oddly enough).

One night I’m all dressed in my little catering tuxedo to work at a fashion show benefit, when someone starts freaking out saying one of the models didn’t show up.

Next thing I know someone grabs my hand, says “put this on and don’t fall”, and I’m shaking down the catwalk in a skin tight couture gown.

Pandora’s box opened, and within the year I had landed work in fashion shows, print, commercials, music videos, and film…but with every audition and booking, my insecurities grew tenfold. All the girls around me were 6 inches taller, 20 lbs thinner, and 5 years younger.

Modeling turned my growing fascination with size into a full blown obsession.

I kept extremely detailed Food diaries including the time of day, brand, even counting out the exact serving sizes, then putting back 2 or 3 pieces to know I was eating less calories than what the package said. I weighed myself every time I went into the bathroom, wearing plastic “sweatsuits” at the gym IN the sauna. I soaked cotton balls in oil and swallowed them to stay “full”. I punched smaller holes in my belts and wore them as tight as I could under my shirts to squish my stomach and make it hurt so I wouldn’t want to eat. I became a “pro” at sliding forks and straws up my sleeve at restaurants so I could purge within 5 minutes of consumption.

Sounds so glamorous, right? Lol

All that to say – It had consumed me. Nothing was ever good enough.

I had become so impatient with “imperfection” that I felt like no one else was living up to their potential. 

I tore apart any small career successes I had and was generally an unpredictable, angry, hot mess.

But I “looked great”…I wore a size 2, I was tan with long blonde hair, booking international campaigns, and I didn’t have to be an omelet chef anymore. Yet I was miserable and those closest around me knew it. The saddest part about being a “smart” person with an eating disorder is that you can fool even the person you live with. My friends just thought I was super stressed with school and working 2 jobs and modeling until it got to the point where people started wondering if I was on drugs.

And this sounds really backwards, but I was so far into that hole that all their “concern” would have done was justify my isolation and convince me that no one had a clue what they were talking about.

My breaking point? I was having so many stomach issues I ended up in the hospital to have a bunch of tests run. 

I had burned not only my stomach lining but also my esophagus and vocal chords from the stomach acids I was overproducing to make up for all the acid that I expelled with each meal. I had ulcers, acid reflux, a raspy voice, the enamel on the insides of my teeth were eaten away, and the blood vessels in my eyes broke from the pressure of puking.

It’s so strange typing this all out for the first time, but I know there are so many people out there who struggle too so I want to be specific.

I think if I could talk to that version of me now, I wouldn’t know what to say. 

It’s such a consuming process that feeds off of becoming a lone wolf and thinking that you alone can tend to your wounds. That no one could ever really get it because its so “commercialized” now and “everyone goes to rehab”… You don’t want people to feel sorry for you and look at you differently because you’ve had an “E.D.” (Eating disorder) label branded into your forehead. Or freak out every time you’re just straight up not hungry.

The ED underworld has a term called “ProAna” (like a proponent of anorexia). It’s a community of people who bond together by seeing the beauty in “thin”. “Ana” becomes a character that is your friend. She talks to you and tells you how good it feels to be hungry. How beautiful your collar bones will look if you stop eating anything with salt, or take laxatives to flush out the puffiness. She is the Devil Who wears Prada. And to someone living in the E.D. World, she is the most beautiful thing that has walked the earth.

Pretty much this world is hell on earth, yet feels like heaven when you hear things like “you’re too skinny” and “wow, have you been working out?”.

Let me pull us out of all these specifics and get to the point:

Why am I dragging out these skeletons???

To feel sorry for myself? To get pity and confirmation from others?

I had to stop here for a minute and truly think of my motive.

I’ve realized if I’d had someone in my life willing to be blunt and honest about their own struggle with this, it would’ve given me a better perspective.

I may have been TOO detailed and honest for most of you. But my heart is instinctually being uninhibited on the off chance that just one person reading this has swallowed oil soaked cotton balls. Or sat on the steps outside feeling like a failure. Or has a voice inside them telling them they are nothing but a waste.

Truth is, I still stare at the big jar of cotton balls.

And I still find myself moving my scale to certain parts of the uneven bathroom tile so it’ll show me a lower weight. I still judge people in my industry who “let themselves go”. I still own a pair of size 25 jeans that won’t zip up so I can put them on every now and then to torture myself.

But the new chapter I’m in is starting to reveal that it’s not a numbers game. It’s not the 5’7, 115 pounds that will give me peace. And it’s also not eating whatever I want, as much as I want.

It’s about being truly healthy according to your body type.

So maybe someday I will be 115 since my bone structure is labeled “small” and that’s what my grandma weighed. Maybe I won’t.

Maybe I’ll eat the perfect amount of protein and carbs and blah blah blah, and end up heavier than what my mind thinks I should be.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done and I close my eyes, I just want to go to sleep and dream about my future, without being terrified of waking up and stepping on the scale.

Or obsess over what I can’t eat…because I come from Italian blood and we LOVE our food. Hahah!

While I don’t scarf bags of donuts, eat entire boxes of cereal in one sitting or go for days with drinking only broth and laxative tea anymore, it’s still a battle to see all of these skeletons gracing the covers of magazines and reading about how Beyonce lost 30lbs for a movie being on the “Lemonade Diet” (and yes, I’ve tried it and it SUCKS! Haha).

Day by day, I’m doing research on how nutrition works and listening to what my body needs.

I’m realizing I feel a BILLION TRILLION times better when I eat LOTS of whole foods instead of processed foods, pair veggies and fruits with high protein intake, and even try recipes involving my arch nemesis: KALE.

I’ve never eaten this much in my life yet my body is responding realllllly well.

Let’s be real, I’m still gonna eat pizza, ice cream, potato chips( all of which I’ve had this past week), but I’m slowly weaning myself off of them so it’s a “special occasion” and not a “cheat night”…

I guess my hope is that someone reading this super long novel–thinking that  “Skinny is the New Black”, will hear these words echo back to them in the mirror…black clothing makes everyone look skinny anyway.

Whether God made you a size 2 or 22, being truly HEALTHY physically and mentally should be our New Black.

Let’s DO this!!!!

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Cassandra is now a full time musician and songwriter in Nashville, TN and is part of the Warner/Atlantic group “The Railers” with her husband and brother-in-law as well as a Staff songwriter for SonyATV. Beginning her southern adventure as an omelet chef and server for a local catering company, it’s been a ten year journey in Nashville that evolved into many detours along the way. Her acting and modeling credits range from runway and print modeling for Women’s Day, Victoria’s Secret, NorthFace and Hannah Montana to videos with Allan Jackson, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. Her heart found its way back to her first love: music. Between touring and songwriting, she enjoys gardening, journaling, cooking, volunteering at the Humane Society, and working with The Special Olympics.

Watch more: “Fat Mama” Fat, Not a Dirty Word

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Relieving Mosquito Bite Pain Naturally

By | Natural Health, Organic Mama Cafe | No Comments

Arizona is not plagued as more humid locations with mosquitos but that doesn’t make the bites any less annoying and painful when they appear. Some people just seem to attract mosquitos though I’ve learned a few good ways to repel them. When they bite, they swell fast and boy, do they itch! At Organic Mama’s house, we use a natural, effective remedy for easing the pain and itchiness of mosquito bites. Of course.

The best part is, the secret ingredient can be used for a lot of other things, which I’ll share in another post. This should be a staple in your medicine cabinet!

Here it is. The secret to natural mosquito bite relief…

Bentonite Clay.

I’m including an amazon link but you can also get it at local health food stores. Here in Phoenix, you can find it at Sprouts and probably Whole Foods (though it’s probably pricey there).

Bentonite is a drawing clay, which means it draws impurities out of the skin. It’s aged, weathered volcanic ash. According to Mountain Rose Herbs, bentonite becomes electrically charged when moistened. Then, it swells up like a sponge and draws out whatever you’re using it to extract.

We have used this drawing clay for several purposes but one of my favorites is to treat mosquito bites. When we apply bentonite clay paste on mosquito bites, they shrink and the itchiness subsides significantly or disappears depending on how old the bite is.

I always keep Bentonite in the house. It’s inexpensive and can be used for many other things.

As with most natural remedies, Bentonite’s effectiveness is increased when used immediately after being bitten. However, it will still help, even with a bite that is a few days old.

For an extra healing boost, add a little lavender essential oil to the mixture. It helps when applying to children. We call it “flower magic”.

You can also add a few drops of echinacea tincture. It has long been used to deal with bites and it’s “numbing” effect eases the pain too.

There you have it! Super easy, non-toxic mosquito bite pain relief.

If you found this information helpful, please share this post! I love sharing safe, natural ways to approach life’s pesky problems.


Natural Mosquito Bite Relief  
Recipe Type: Mosquito Bite Pain relief
Prep time: 2 mins
Total time: 2 mins
  • Bentonite clay
  • Glass bowl (Non-metal – remember the electrical charge)
  • non-metal spoon
  • apple cider vinegar
  • water
  • coconut oil (optional)
  1. Based on the size and number of bites to be treated, place a few tablespoons of bentonite in a glass bowl.
  2. Add an equal amount of vinegar and/or water. Go slow on this. It’s easier to add a little more moisture than to keep having to add clay. Remember the clay is a little sponge-like.
  3. Stir vigorously till the mixture is a smooth paste.
  4. You want the texture to resemble the consistency of mayonnaise. If it’s clumpy, stir a bit longer and add more moisture if necessary.
  5. Apply to bite and allow to dry.
  6. When the paste is dry, use a fairly damp, warm washcloth to gently remove it from the skin.
  7. Apply coconut oil or other moisturizer as bentonite can be drying.

DEET-free Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Mosquitoes Naturally

By | Natural Health | No Comments

This year, we were lucky not to have as many mosquitoes at our place as in previous years. But, in the last few weeks, we’ve definitely been seeing them do their crazy super slow, yet strangely elusive, dance around our home. (How can a flying thing be so fast and so slow all at once!) The best way to deal with a mosquito is to repel him.

Here’s what works for us.

1. Eat more fresh garlic.
Some scientists say this is a crock but I’m usually willing to give something a try if it’s non-toxic and tastes good anyway. I’m usually a tasty treat for mosquitos but when I eat a lot of garlic, they will fly around me and ignore me! It can’t hurt to try, right? Make a big batch of garlicky pesto and enjoy.

2. Use natural bug spray. 
I could recommend a recipe for making your own. But for me, buying pre-made spray is less expensive than the individual oils since we don’t face mosquito invasion on the same level as other places. The herbal option is stinky but it works. Plus, I feel better about not spraying DEET on my kids. We use .

3. Rid your house of stagnant water.
This seems obvious but it never hurts to double-check your space. This year, I started seeing a lot of these blood suckers in the salvia bush outside my front door. I wondered what it was about salvia that was causing this cloud to settle there.

Then, I discovered that the hose in my flowerbed wasn’t off all the way. One of the kids had decided to “help” water. I moved it and shut it off immediately. Within a day, the pool of water and cloud of mosquitoes was gone.

Next – Relieving Mosquito Bite Pain Naturally


10 Natural Remedies for a Coughing Baby

By | Natural Health | 16 Comments

Cooler temperatures are upon us and our babies (under 1!) are already suffering through coughs and colds. We don’t use many herbs for babies under one but there are safe, mild, natural remedies to help clear coughs in an infant. We just went through this in our house with Giant Baby who is not even six months yet so I thought I’d post some encouragement and share what we used.

Coughs can be a good thing if they’re clearing congestion. However, let them go too long or be unaware about the kind of cough you’re hearing and coughs can progress into something serious.

By nursing my kids through coughs, I’ve learned that to clear them quickly, it’s best to

  • Keep congestion thin and moving (moisturize inside & out)
  • Boost the immune system

As I regularly say – natural remedies work best when applied as soon as the onset of symptoms occur. When noses start running and coughs begin, head it off at the pass! The duration of illness is usually shorter and not as severe.

Here’s what we used on Giant Baby. I used all of these steps at once because I don’t mess around with coughs.

1. Steam, Steam, STEAM!
If the coughing isn’t clearing the congestion within minutes and a hacking fit seems imminent, we head straight to the shower. I shut the door, drop a little Eucalyptus oil in the corners of the shower and relax until he’s been cough free for several minutes.

I also shower him before bed to moisten his sinuses & loosen congestion because lying down automatically seems to trigger coughing because it’s harder for congestion to clear in that position. The extra moisture helps! I keep him warm after we get out of the shower.

If he coughs in the night and can’t seem to stop, we head right back into the shower no matter how tired I am. I have learned that it’s worth it. It’s the fastest way to calm the cough. I think we showered about three times a day while he was coughing.

2. Hose the nose.
In babies, the nose, throat, ears are so close together and the passages are small. Congestion affects them all. During coughs, congestion or earaches, I “hose my kids’ noses” to loosen congestion so it will clear more easily. Don’t be intimidated by this. Learn how to Hose the Nose.

3. Massage the chest.
After the shower, using a little coconut oil (NO VICKS for babies this small – it’s just too harsh), we rub that little chest gently but firmly. It seems to help ease the cough and  Giant Baby loves it because we talk with him while we do it.

4. Garlic oil.
Man, this stuff is magic! I use it for my kids (and me!) when our ears are sore and my herbalist also suggested we could safely rub a little on Giant Baby’s feet. I probably used 1/2 t. (maybe less?) and massaged his feet gently. I’m not gonna lie to ya’. It was skunk-a-licious! But, it seemed to calm him and he coughed less afterward. Learn how to make garlic oil.

Magic stuff!

5. Moisturize the air.
We use either a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom to add moisture and keep congestion moving.

6. Eucalyptus oil or Vicks.
I wouldn’t put Eucalyptus oil or Vicks on an infant. But, I DO think it’s ok to use them to scent a room to provide their expectorant powers. I place a little vicks or Eucalyptus oil on an old diaper and wave it around the room (to infuse it into the air) and then lay it near to the bed so we can smell it all night.

***REMINDER!! While Essential oils are wonderfully healing, they are also super concentrated (read: powerful) and should never be left where little hands can reach them. Be safe. Educate your little ones not to touch them & store them out of reach.***

7. Keep the fluids coming.
I would have offered him warm chamomile tea but my little guy wanted to nurse. So, nurse I did. The only caution I’d add with chamomile is that people with known allergies to ragweed should avoid it.

8. Elevate the sleeping position.
It’s hard for congestion to clear when a baby is flat on his back. That’s why coughing increases at night. Our baby sleeps with us so it’s easy to elevate him on my arm and keep a close ear on him in the night. I sleep better and so does he.If we used a crib, I’d find a way to safely elevate the mattress slightly (no pillows in a crib!).

9. Garlic.
Again? Yep. Only this is for nursing moms. Since I nurse, my baby gets the benefit of what I eat. I ate sliced fresh garlic on buttered toast to pass on it’s immune system boosting benefits.

10. Echinacea tincture.
Another immune booster for use by the nursing mama. I took a few droppers 3 times a day.

Using these remedies from the very start of his little cold to the end, Giant Baby only coughed for about three days and it was very mild, usually worse at night.

Remember – the key to successful natural remedies is to jump on that cough as soon it projects its loud sound. Don’t wait till it sounds scary.

*As always, I’ll remind you that I am not a doctor.  These are common sense choices I have made for myself & my family. I have taken the time to research any health decisions I make and have consulted with my local herbalist. I encourage you to always do the same before choosing to take or administer any kind of remedywhether herbal, prescription or off the shelf at a local drugstore.*

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