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Blog

Summer Renewal

amanda oler

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”

-Audrey Hepburn

  

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While contemplating summer and the solstice, the key themes that come to mind are rejuvenation and celebration. With the arrival of this beautiful season, comes the time to gather with loved ones, and rejoice in the occasions that accompany these warm months. Now is the time to soak up longer days and bask in the sun, while draped in linen dresses, sun hats and sandals.

One of the many luxuries I have always had as a California native, is the multitude of idyllic nature spots available to me. During the heat wave we had here in Marin, a friend and I decided to hop in the car and escape to one of my favorite beaches. The ability to so easily infuse my soul with the alchemy of sea, sun, sand and sky always leaves me with the deepest feeling of gratitude.

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I often find, by this time of year, I have burdens to shed. A lighthearted ritual I have practiced for as long as I can remember, is carving emotions or fears that I wish to be lifted, into the wet sand. I may even pray to the Hindu goddess, Kali, and offer up these insecurities to her--as suggested by Ram Dass, one of the most revered spiritual teachers to date. You can find his Kali meditation HERE 

The best way for me to consummate this ritual is by soaking myself in the heat of the sun, then cooling down by wading into the ocean and letting the chilled waves cradle me. The completion of this ritual is a luscious and satisfying way to feel restored. 

Unfortunately, during our restoration, we witnessed something heartbreaking: we had found a dead baby whale washed up onto shore. In the Bay, I believe, this is the 13th deceased whale found on shore this year. These majestic mammals are starving, and being killed by negligent littering in our ocean, and oil spills. I feel it is my duty as a mother myself, and as a daughter of our divine Mother Earth, to do what I can to practice and model care for our suffering ecosystem. 

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One small way I can contribute, is to try and eliminate as much plastic use as I can in my home and daily life. I am always scheming up new ideas of how Elaia can lower its Carbon footprint. Additionally, Elaia is trying to devise a recycling system where our customers can send back their bottles to be refilled at discounted rates.

In last year’s summer blog post, “Welcoming The Summer Solstice”, I shared how I take care of my skin with an aloe vera recipe to use after having a little bit too much fun in the sun. This year, I am delighted to share that our No.3 comes in a mist that is the perfect addition to your skincare routine. With the anti-inflammatory properties of lavender, frankincense and rose, sun-kissed skin is able to find instant relief in either mist or oil form. (Fun fact, No.3 was originally formulated to help heal the skin after long days of sun exposure. Turned out everyone loved the smell, so I was encouraged to make a perfume! ) Find both No.3 roll-on and mist HERE

Our bodies tend to feel fatigued and agitated after these first few days of extreme heat. This inspired me to formulate a recipe for a drink, that was later made into refreshing popsicles. The combination of lime, honey, lavender and lemon balm helps quench thirst, while simultaneously calming and soothing nerves.   Recipe here:

Lavender lime aid popsicles :

-12 limes
-1/4 cup of lemon balm
-1/4 cup of lavender
-2 1/2 cups filtered water
-3/4 cup of raw local honey

To make an infusion (strong tea) steep lavender and lemon balm in hot water preferably until the water has completely cooled. Strain and set aside.

Juice limes - you should have about
1 1/2 cups. Heat honey on low heat. When honey liquifies mix in with both lime juice and your infusion.

Enjoy over ice or as I did in a popsicle!

(You can find the popsicle molds I prefer to use here.) 

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 I don’t consider myself an expert on anything. I do what I love, with care and purpose, and I want Elaia to represent how I aim to live. I want to share what inspires me, and I hope to live in a way, that models for my children, a healthy existence--personally, collectively and globally.

 

“I don't like to give advice. I like to give people information because everyone's life is different, and everyone's journey is different.”

-Dolly Parton

 

While we are on the subject of one of my all-time fave artists, check out The Wildflowers on the ELAIA’S summer playlist HERE.


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Happy Summer Solstice!

-Mandie





Flowering with Newness

amanda oler

Finally, she has arrived, spring is here. 

The hills are covered in sheets of golden poppies. The smell of fresh cut grass lingers in the air. My eyes feast on magnificent blooms flanking the neighborhood. The streets bustle with strollers, dogs, and bicycles. It seems as though everyone is outside, anxious to feel the warmth of sunshine on their skin. All that nature offers feels fresh and new.

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I spent the remaining days of winter daydreaming about warmer days and prolonged hours of sunlight, while contemplating what this time of year represents for me and how I welcome the change in my life and home. 

Outwardly, what spring looks like for me is sitting in the baseball bleachers proudly watching my son run the bases, spending time in my kitchen making mocktails and vibrantly colored salads, and starting the process of bringing the outdoors into my home. Windows are wide open, fresh cut flowers are strewn throughout my home, and my new fragrance, no.6, (a blend of geranium, ambrette seed, and sandalwood), is diffusing (it also comes in a mist that has been a joy to spray on linens). Inwardly it signifies new beginnings, rebirth, and a welcome supplement to a journey I have been on, one which finds me as my most stable, loving, and accepting version of myself.

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Over a year ago I embarked on a path of sobriety. Feeling a discontent with where I was spiritually, I knew I wanted and needed to make a drastic change. Intoxicants seemed to be a contrary aid for a life I intuitively felt was mine. I was raised with what some call an “alternative” or “holistic” approach to health and wellbeing and holdfast to these things. I create natural fragrances and body care, eat mostly organic, spend as much time as I can outdoors, and practice yoga. I saw myself as a woman leading a healthy lifestyle yet I desired to dull or numb my senses.  Why did I have such a hard time just sitting in my emotions? Why did I feel compelled to numb myself? October 6th, 2017 marks the start of my abstinence from alcohol. 

I spent the majority of the following 8 months high on life. Not since my two pregnancies had I gone more than a month without a sip of alcohol. I felt renewed, accomplished, and clear. Until I didn’t anymore. A familiar restlessness and loneliness crept in telling me to “be social” and drink again. This spiraled quickly. One drink turned into two, which turned into an entire bottle and I found myself disappearing into that dark and familiar place, but this time it no longer comforted me. Perhaps it never did. It didn’t take long to connect the dots that sobriety was what I needed to continue to grow in the ways I desired.

Fast forward to today and how abstinence from drugs and alcohol pertains to the theme of this post: spring.

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Settling into this new self, I feel renewed. Like a budding cherry blossom on its branch, so am I, flowering with newness. I am learning new things about myself and finding I am capable of things I hadn’t thought possible. Simple things like managing my reactions to certain situations. I am settling into a newfound ability to breathe through upsets, rationalize, and soothe myself in ways I wasn’t previously capable of. I have the ability now to recognize which relationships no longer nurture my soul’s well being, thus allowing me to make room for new ones to develop. I am enjoying my own company and learning to get to know myself in a whole new way. I have made the decision to love myself—a concept that has felt foreign most of my life. I feel that when our bodies and minds are aligned with our higher power, magic starts to unfold. I’m excited. I have so much to look forward to and I have only just begun this love affair. I am committed to me. 

This season I will revel in this newfound desire to make friends with myself and be kinder than ever to my body. I will give all of the time needed to watch my beautiful son navigate his way through his teen years—helping raise a young man of such compassion and integrity is an honor. I will witness, at a distance, the unfolding of my daughter’s journey into young adulthood—I rest in constant adoration of the sweet life she is building with her cat and loving boyfriend. I will continue to frolic on mountain tops (no, not usually dressed as pictured in this shoot), grateful for each sip of clean air. I will soak up moments with friends that find us with bellies aching from hysterical laughter and will even cherish the days that end in tear-stained cheeks, grateful for the sacred space of each other’s arms. I will dance in my studio (playlist here) creating Elaia, sometimes with a silly grin on my face and talking aloud to just myself. 

This is spring, a time for all things to bloom. A time to watch myself blossom into a brand new me.

The happiest of Spring Equinox to all!

Xx

Mandie

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Rose infused blood orange mocktail:

  • 4-6 blood oranges

  • fresh mint

  • honey (I prefer raw honey myself)

  • sparkling water

  • dried rose buds or petals 


*Make the infused honey at least one week in advance. To infuse fill a glass 4 oz mason jar with dried rose buds. (Link here) Next warm your honey of choice and completely cover roses. Stir gently, let cool then cover and let this infuse for a week or two in a cool dry place. After this time has passed, heat again and strain through honey into a new jar. You won’t have 4 ounces but enough for your mocktail mixture for sure. 
Juice blood oranges. In a glass pitcher or large bowl add 2 cups juice.  Next heat your rose infused honey over very low heat just to liquify a bit or let thin in a bowl of hot water. This makes it easier to blend with the juice. Add two tablespoons of your  honey and mix well. I added roughly about two tablespoons of fresh mint leaves chopped or torn coarsely. Muddle all of this together. Fill your favorite 16oz glass with ice and 1/2 cup of your mint and rose infused juice. Fill the rest of the cup with sparkling water. Garnish with a slice of orange and fresh mint twig. 


Bask in some sunlight and enjoy!

Embracing Our Shadows

amanda oler

Winter solstice is the day in which the hours of daylight are the  fewest. A day celebrated as a turning point. A potent time for ritual to aid in embracing our shadows and help nourish the soil of our souls.

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This time of year is often weighty with emotion. Be them joyous, nostalgic, angst or sorrow what can be  vital to our well being is to honor what comes up then  witness and confirm what feeds or dampers our growth. 

 The past few years have been about immense change and growth for me personally and I think collectively in general.  I am excited to  practice and share one simple yet effective ceremonial act. 

Fire is an element that is used and  associated with the Pagan holiday celebrated on this day. The way in which I like to utilize this energy is to burn that which no longer serves me. 

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I brew myself a cup of chamomile and lemon balm tea, sink back into my body, play some good tunes, (playlist) and write. It doesn’t have to be poetic, just get it out. One thing I have been trying to release are the stories in which I tell myself that aren’t real, the dialogue I create that hurts my being. One of my teachers recently said “The only way illusion works is if we mistake it for reality.” If I write down what feels like is or was an illusion then witness it burn and turn to ashes it feels as  though I have made room inside myself for something real and fresh. I am germinating my soil to sprout new plants of wellbeing. 


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So, if you have a fire pit as I did, great! If not a simple metal or brass bowl will suffice. Paper(s) in hand, safely hold above the flames and say a little prayer. Sing it, shout it or recite it silently in your mind. Let it go.


After a good burn I like to get even more woo woo and seal my intentions and clear my energetic field. I have made an easy incense by grinding equal parts myrrh (purifying and protecting), chamomile (happiness, well being and purification) and rose (protection, love and friendship) with my mortar and pestle. You can find those ingredients HERE




I burn this over the flames left in the pit or if you are using a bowl to perform your ritual a charcoal disc  is easiest and safest. You can buy those online HERE. I use this blend often through out my house to ease tension or help bring about feelings of love and serenity.



Now go pamper yourself! Enjoy these cozy winter nights by soaking in tub as I do with my warming bath salts and  then cozy up in bed with a good book. I am literally in the middle of 4 myself. 

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That’s all she wrote, folks. See you on the other side of a new year.

Blessed be!

Xx,

M





Warming bath salts:

1/4 cup of pink Himalayan salt

1/4 cup of Dead Sea salt

1/2 cup epsom salt

1.5 tablespoons of cardamom 

3 tablespoons of rose

1.5 teaspoons of powdered ginger 

5 drops of lavender 

5 drops of frankincense 

5 drops of bergamot 

Spoon together preferably in a glass bowl and then split the mixture into thirds. Scoop one third into a muslin bag (found easily on amazon or your local craft store) and drape over your bathtub faucet with water running through or soak in the tub like a tea bag. 

Autumn, A Coming Home to Self

amanda oler

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Greetings earthlings, this post is nearly a month past my self appointed deadline. Unfortunately things do not always work out the way we hope and we can’t rush what's not ready. To quote Vicki Noble, author of my beloved Mother Peace Tarot Deck: “Be patient—there is nothing to do but wait. There is no way to hurry this birth... Trusting that the idea is taking form, a thinker must wait, just as one would wait for pumpkins to ripen fully before picking them.” (Oh, hey, fall...I look forward to basking in the delight of your vibrant array of gourds)

In building my brand, Elaia, I wanted to make a commitment to myself to post a seasonal blog. I had this intention of how the potency of posting a piece on each equinox or solstice would channel the magic I often experience in practicing said rituals. In my mind’s eye the posts would paint a picture of how my routine changes alongside the elements within the season and how I work with them. The truth is I wasn't feeling the magic myself. I had been sick for over a month, physically exhausted, and in the thralls of excitement and angst of what showed promise to be a beautiful new relationship. I was physically depleted, emotionally out of my mind, and spiritually stagnant. I had this witty post all ready, replete with "ancient wisdom" and feminine woo woo, recipes for stock, and a signature incense blend perfectly in sync with Autumn.

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My dear friend Jackie gently pushed me to do a few simple shoots to accompany what was meant to be this joyous transition of seasons. Truth be told I was not joyous. I was scared and uncertain. I was consumed by anxiety and disappointed in my body. Confused as to why I suddenly felt like a victim of unforeseen circumstance. Disheartened by the fact that I couldn't figure out how to step into my usual spiritual practices. I'd fallen off.  And it had to be ok. I could do nothing more than surrender to what was happening with all sides of me.

Ready to "go live" on September 22, Jackie asked for my content, as she is the tech savvy mastermind that so selflessly cradles me when stressing over all things computer related. I told her, “I can’t. This doesn't feel authentic. I don't feel what I wrote.” While what I wrote was honest in the ways that I change up my routines, what didn't feel right was in that moment I was not experiencing those softer, cozy attributes of autumn. The exactitude of my state was the dimmer side of fall—I felt like I was falling. (You're witnessing the metaphorical theme of the season here, no?)

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Often when I get excited about the transition from summer to fall I think of cozying up in bed under the weight of heavy duvets, all the ways in which to cook with yummy warming spices, night walks with my dog in the crisp cool air, prepping months worth of healing broth, basking in the glory of the golden hues of the changing leaves on ginkgo-lined streets in my neighborhood, getting organized, and syncing back into a routine with my son’s school and sports schedule. This year these often exciting deeds felt somewhat burdensome.

In keeping true to myself and living fully in my authenticity I choose to be honest about where I am, share it unabashadley, and remain confident in my momentary struggles rather than hide the messy parts to pretend that my humanness is exempt of inner struggle. And to my truth, these past few months have been about messy edges.

This year I witnessed magnificence in the changing colors of the leaves but was sad that they would soon dry up and fall to the ground. I breathed a sigh of relief with summer’s end to step back into a routine and restore some order in my household and life. At the same time I was nervous about not knowing if the longer colder nights would leave me feeling empty and lonely, tapped and listless. Historically for me, cooking and stocking my freezer and pantry with dried goods packed in pretty mason jars, making like a squirrel and prepping for winter, is a welcome, magical ritual. This year it felt like a chore.

I had made this unrealistic promise to myself to have a limited edition scent as well as a blog post ripe with humor, spiritual practices, recipes and wellness tips. I have never believed in promises so what was I thinking?! I am sure we are all familiar with the age old quote "promises are like pie crust, they're meant to be broken". (Side note: YUM. PIE. Ok, excitement brewing currently thinking about the sweet treats that accompany this season.)

Ok, so. This post all I can write about is a surrender to the change. Autumn is often associated with death, the ending of a cycle. To this I stand arms wide open, vulnerable and receptive, and comfortable in my fear because with death comes rebirth. So, bring it Mother Earth, and thank you for your infinite wisdom. Father Time had me riddled with distress for a moment but I am finding my way back to you, back to self. And THIS, this is the power in the changing of the season: the certainty that we can’t control. Just move with it, whether joyous or uncomfortable.

To quote a brilliant writer,  Rainer Maria Rilke, "Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." This also reminds me of one of my all-time favorite books that has sat atop my dresser for over 20 years, A Tear and A Smile by Khalil Gibran. "I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of the multitude. And I would not have the tears that sadness makes to flow from my every part turn into laughter. I would that my life remain a tear and a smile. A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding."

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Alas! What I am offering this time around is me in true raw honest form. No witchy rituals, no savory recipes but realness and some of my forever go-to's for getting through tough times. Like music. Always music. Listen loudly and cry in the shower or dance alone in your living room and move, move cuz nobody’s watching and you give zero f@#*’s.  Here's my fall playlist (link here).

Offering up wisdom since the day I received this deck on my 16th birthday, The Mother Peace Tarot. (Link here) Tara Brach's podcasts found on Apple's podcast app. And again, the enlightened musings of Kahlil Gibran. (Link here)

Lastly and most importantly staying immersed in community. I have been fortunate to form strong and meaningful bonds with  many women in various groups. The constant unconditional love and support from so many has been worth its weight in gold. I proudly sported a bumper sticker on my first car that read “sisterhood is powerful”. Maybe we all need to adorn our cars with one today!? (Link here) I think most women today are deeply affected by our current political climate. Let’s stick together ...no pun intended.

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In regards to my 3rd baby, Elaia, what I am excited to share is that perfume mists are on their way! The new sample kit is just moments away from being ready for purchase and I have an intoxicating, lovely new scent, No. 6, with notes of geranium, rosemary, and ambrette seed. I have been devouring this aroma by diffusing it in my home.

There you have it. A VERY belated Happy Autumnal Equinox!

So it is, so mote it be.

Much love,

 Mandie

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Welcoming the Summer Solstice

amanda oler

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As the sun peaks over and the days get longer, I gladly welcome the warmth of lighter living. With Summer Solstice, we can all feel a shift in energy.   And with those shifts, I feel the inspiration to embrace my yearly summer rituals.

I personally feel that life shifts from inside to outside.  

I first like to tackle the house.  So much of our life exists between the moments of sunset and sunrise.  I first thank winter for its flannel sheets, dark nights and heavy stews.  But then I like to peel back the winter layers, and invite the sun in.   I fold heavy linens, put away coats and sweaters.  I give them a quick farewell, and stow them for the brief season.

I redress the bedrooms with fresh light linens and and dust the fresh summer layers with my signature organic linen spray to help ease into sleep.

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As summer arrives, there is a loss of structure.  We invite in summer rituals of celebratory milestones: graduations, weddings and gatherings that fit perfectly into the warmer days and long nights. Fun seems to take priority and schedules fall to the side.  Deadlines and homework are replaced with beach days and time with the ocean.

My son in particular is always outside.  Whether it be a long day at the beach or longer days in the sun playing baseball.  When I see the demands on my skin change with the warmer days, I like to use Simpler’s Lavender Hydrosol - great for skin too long in the sun - or sunburns and sun exposure.  I use it all day long, spray it, spray it, spray it.

If my kids or I get too much sun, I will mix aloe gel (I get mine at Mountain Rose Herbs -find it here) with a few drops of lavender essential oil and a few drops of peppermint oil along with Helichrysum.

With later bedtimes, we find ourselves gathering spontaneously.  Pulling together meals from the farmers market when available .  Leafy salads with fresh fruits.  My family especially loves an easy dinner of anti-pasto foods, and my cashews (see recipe below). They’re greek like me. 

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And while we celebrate, I love collaborating with my 20 year old daughter on a summer mix that incorporates equal parts old and eclectic new music that keeps me feeling way cooler than I am. You can find it here.

But as bedtimes and circadian rhythms start to misfire, the best thing I’ve found is my herbal sun tea.  A day in the hot sun, and then poured over ice will calm the soul and get you ready for  a peaceful summer slumber.  I invite you to try it. (see recipe below) 

Welcoming the Summer Solstice is one of the most magical things to experience .  I hope these suggestions help you enjoy the spontaneity and relax in peace.

 

 

Cashew Recipe:  Toss in olive oil oregano, thyme, salt and lemon zest. Toast on an iron skillet.

Tea Recipe:  Two parts lemon balm to one part skullcap and one part lavender. Steep in sun all day.

Getting Ready for Summer Solstice

amanda oler

 
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Beach days and warm summer nights are fast approaching! Be sure to check back in on June 21st, the summer solstice, to see how we like to make the most of the season. We will feature:

-  A signature mock-tail recipe

- Tunes that keep us in the summer mood

 - Design inspiration  

 - What I do to change up my skin care regimen and routine for the summer months