18263 days

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Today I celebrate having lived 18 263 days. Half a century. 50 years. That’s a lot of sunsets and sunrises, meals, toothbrushing, yogaclasses, waking ups, going to bed, toiletvisits, walks, lessons learned, meetings, encounters, tears, stages of life, hope and despair, failed loves and joyous friendships, successes and failures, life and deaths, careers and life changes.

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Growing older. It’s not about “staying young” I think. Can’t hold on to anything, especially not something as flimsy as time and age. It’s about embracing who and where you are in life with grace. Maybe.

I alway felt that being young – being a teenager, being 20 and “having-life-ahead-of-you”, being “youngandpromising” – too much pressure, too confusing and I was just always too old for my age somehow. I loved knitting, going for walks in nature and drinking tea with my friends! I and could never live up to the idea of young.

Turning 40 was great, I felt “This is who I am, no matter how hard I try I will never become somebody else, for better or worse. Like me or leave me” and I stopped trying to please everybody and be who I thought others wanted me to be” GREAT relief. Since then I have impatiently waited to turn 50. Finally I feel I have something to give, something to share. I needn’t worry about being “young and promising”, I can just be the odd one that I am and appreciate that.  Youth is so overrated!

Since I have now lived so many days I feel I have learned a thing or two that make my life and that of others more warm, light, simple, less lonely and more meaningful.Some lessons were earned the hard way so if you read this – just take the advice to heart and perhaps maybe they might, if not save you problems at least give you a few smiles on the way. You’re not alone.

So, for whatever it’s worth, take it or leave it, here we go:

– Stay warm.

– Make good sleep and good digestion a priority.

– Wear comfortable shoes.

– Eat well.

– You are important.

– Talk to strangers.

– Lose your way once in a while.

– Never hold back your tears. Let it rip.

– Life is more than just work.

– Don’t believe everything you read on line.

– Eat wild plants.

– Smile at a stranger.

– Nature is the worlds best medicin, therapy, friend, source of energy, life and food, entertainment and classroom. Enjoy it every day.

– Laugh. Especially at yourself.

– If you don’t find a life partner, don’t sulk! Maximize freedom and live your life the way you want it.

– Your body and only YOUR body will let you know what it the right food, lifestyle and exercise for you. Listen carefully.

– Perfect is boring.

– Unexpected change is to be expected. That is the only thing we can expect.

– Say Thank you. Rather say it once too many. To show appreciation for other people and making them feel special opens unexpected opportunities. If nothing else, you make their day.

– Say Hello to people you meet – not just your friends: but to the person at the cash register in the super market, the bus driver, the cleaner in your building, your neighbor or the person who serves you coffee at the coffee shop.

– Give and take compliments with the same joy.

– This is it.

– Eat organic, local foods in season.

– Hold up the door to the person behind you. To get a door slammed in the face just isn’t very uplifting. Hold it up, give a smile and make that persons day.

– Warmth, rest, restoring and good friends make wonders for your health.

– Be grateful for what you’ve got. I don’t know how many of my 18263 days of my life I have spent focusing on what I don’t have or who I am not. Let me tell you – bad idea, didn’t make me the least happy. And I didn’t get all those things either.

– Invite Gratitude and Inspiration: yes – “invite”. In times when I have felt dissatisfied, fatigued, frustrated, inadequate, lonely I tend to force myself to work, force ideas to work and life to change. But without fail I just banged my head against the wall believing I’m done as an artist and creative being. Now I know the trick is to Let Go. Stop running. Stop trying. I step to the side and out of my comfort zone. I go to nature. To the ocean, mountains and where I can hear the silence.  And I wait. Till suddenly, there it is, Joy, Inspiration, Gratitude. It is a beautiful thing and i get a new lease of life.

– Meditate.

– Invite your old and new friends to you a meal at your table.

– When life is tough, know that “This too shall pass”.

– Life is generous, it always gives you a new chance.

– Now leave the screen and go live your life.

Toodiloo, Lisen

 

A foragers workday

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When I tell people that among other things I am a forager and collect wild, edible plants for myself and for a few restaurants, the reaction I am often met with is a softening glaze in their eyes, them seeing me in a strawhat, basket in hand, skipping out in the greenery and sunshine and hang out with the plants, birds and butterflies all day… The own longings for nature reflected in my story. Yes, I have those days when the world is green, the sun is out and I have oceans of time to forage til I’m done but that is not norm…remember I live in Sweden. A great country in many ways but the climate is not always inviting or allowing for skipping around in a straw hat. I love what I do, I love connecting with nature on an everyday basis and gather from its bounty. I feel privileged to work with the inspiring, creative, ambitious and non compromising chefs that I do. But just to adjust your view of a foragers workday I want to tell you about a regular Tuesday in March: I wake up, praying for a little sun. It snows. The world is grey. It’s windy and +1 degree celsius. March in Stockholm .

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An there is no escape, as much as I’d love to just get ready for the day, pack my computer and take off to my warm, snug beautiful office to start brainstorming a new book I have promised wild weeds to two restaurants before tomorrow. And there is no way on earth I would let them down.

So I eat a warm breakfast, put on long johns, warm pants, socks, boots, sweaters, jacket, hat, scarf, mittens. I look like an Easter Witch all wrapped up except my nose and eyes.

Walking around in this weather is not so bad, the movement keeps you warm. I move fast on my bike, swearing over the cold winds. But try sitting still for hours picking tiny tiny plants – that’s when you’re being tried.

I find my “nettle spot”, put on my fingerless gloves, bring out my little herb scissors and start to rummage around last years nettles…I see them only when I sit down, they’re tiny, dark reddish green and barely distinguishable from the soil. But Oh! I begin to get excited. They are here! In spite of cold, in spite of lack of sun, the are here, they strive and they are Oh so tasty and full of sting.

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I pick out a bag, start cutting the little buggers, one by one, slowly slowly filling the bag. My fingers numb with cold. Asking myself what I’m doing out here freezing the living daylight out of me. But then – I hear a bird, then one more, a whole orchestra. I inhale the cold but fresh fragrant air and feel so full of energy and life.

It takes over an hour to fill a small bag. Later in the season, in just a few weeks, i’ll pick over a kilo (a BIG bag) in the same amount of time. Happy with my findings I slowly stand up (legs stiff from sitting in the cold) and get up on my bike. Again swearing over the wind and snow in my face, ride through the colorless city and reach the restaurant where the staff is eagerly waiting for my findings. I open the door, five people greet me with a warm welcome, I am seated by the stove with a cup a chamomile tea in my frozen hands, cold to the bone but slowly warming up. The staff excited over the tender greens, chatting, gossiping, planning. I am so lucky to have this and suddenly it is worth ever second out there in the cold. And I know they will cook the most wonderful, tasty food for their lucky guests tonight. I’m happy to be able to contribute, their happy and hopefully so will the guests be. And I had the fortune of yet again connect with nature, feel life stir in me and happy to have mastered myself enough to spite the cold.

Skörd i mars.

I guess foraging is a reflection of life itself: you have to accept the circumstances, focus on what you want to get done and what it is you want to give to the world, take the obstacles for what they are and remember when life feels hard “this too shall pass”. From cold in to the warmth. From work to rest. From lonely to together. All is transient.  So forget about waiting till you can go out in a summerhat, just take the weather as it is, pack a bag and scissors, dress warm and enjoy all that is given to you!

Skörd 17 mars 2015 Agrikultur

Stay wild,

Lisen

 

Vanilla Body Oil with Baobab

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While in Zanzibar I bought the most amazing Vanilla I have ever come across (Zanzibar is not called Spice Island for nothing!). It’s soft, fruity, sensual, sexy, feminine, earthy, moist, sweet, kind and warm, a scent full of promises and comfort, sensuality and love. I love Vanilla. In food as well as in body products (though not in perfume! Too sweet!).

Try vanilla oil on a salad or in a Turnip soup. Or just rub on your skin and feel fabulous.

When I had a skin care brand, I used to make Vanilla Body Oil on rare occasions and sell it on a “limited edition” premise.  It went fast and people still ask for it. Here is the recipe, i’ts so easy to make, provided you have good Vanilla. Nowadays I just make it for myself and a few very dear friends (who claim they can’t  live  without it, which I strongly doubt but I would hate for them to pass on so I don’t risk it!). The recipe is found in one of my books, Lisens Indian Spa” (only available in Swedish), but now you can make it too!

What you need: Good Vanilla (choose organic if you can) is a must. Previously I used Almond- and Jojoba oil but now, after my trip to Africa, I have fallen in love with the Baobab tree and its oil.

Baobab tree: superfood, super medicine, super water container, food for elephants and humans.
Baobab tree: superfood, super medicine, super water container, food for elephants and humans.

Baobaob oil i nourishing, rejuvenating, healing and easily absorbed by the skin.The tree is indigenous of Africa and is, to me, nothing less than a miracle: the trunk can contain up to 120 000 liters of water (120 tons), live for 5000 years, feeds both elephants (the bark and leaves) and humans who enjoy its fruit, considered a superfruit due to its high content of antioxidants, Vitamin-C and healing properties. The oil is pressed from its kernel.  In Africa the Baobab tree is known as “Tree of Life”.

Experiments with the proportions of the oils is best for you. I like the one in the recipe – if you prefer 50/50 go for that or…it’s your oil, you decide!

If you don’t have Baobab oil or Jojoba, use Almond.

I like to scent my oil with either Lime,Lemon or Olibanum essential oil. Olibanum because it is know to be “immediately grounding” – something I often need.

So, here’s the recipe. Easy Peasy as the Naked Chef Jamie Oliver says when he cooks up a storm.

1 part jojoba oil

2 parts baobaboil

Vanilla pods – I used 4 – 5for 2 cups water. Should it become too strong, just add more oil after it’s done to dilute it.

Scent: essential oil of lime, lemon or Olibanum.

Ingredienser till världens härligaste olja
Ingredients to the worlds most delicious Body Oil

Cut up the Vanilla pod length wise.

Skär upp vaniljstången
Cut upp vanilla

Scrape out the seeds and put them in a dry, clean glass jag. Let the pod itself go in the jar too, along with the seeds.

Skrapa ur fröna.
Scrape out the seeds.

Add the oil. Leave the jar open before you put the lid on so the air bubbles go up to the surface and disappear.

Häll på oljan
.Add the oil

Close the lid. I usually leave the jar in a dark cool cupboard – cool is easy…I’m in Sweden….Leave it there a few weeks. Låt stå i ett skafferi ett par veckor. Eller i ett fönster, båda funkar. When done, remove the pods, add a few drops essential oil, pour the oil into a suitable bottle. Use for daily skin care and / or massage.

Låt stå en stund innan du sätter på locket
Leave the jar open so air bubbles get a chance to escape .

Smell good, makes everybody happy!

Lisen

Sweet Rooibos Body Scrub

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With great reluctance I left Africa after a three months long adventure – the journey began in Tanzania, continued to Zanzibar and ended in South Africa, Cape Town. And Cape Town captured my heart, completely. I’m like a crazy-in-love fool with the country, the people, the landscape, plants food and life styles I have come across. I felt – despite the complexities of this beautiful country  – right at home, people have taken me at face value, welcomed me to their kitchen tables, shared their stories and passions. I feel deeply humbled, honored and grateful. My one and only focus now is to get back there as soon as possible!

But… being back in Stockholm is not all bad – I have a home to call my own, something many people in the world can only dream of. My friends and family make me feel not only missed but very very welcomed back, like I am an important part of their lives.The need to “belong” is deeply ingrained in all of us and perhaps traveling is all about just that – being reminded of who gives us that sense of “I being” – I am fortunate to have communities where I feel just that all over the world!

My mind is spilling over with inspiration, and my senses full of new flavors I want to share. So today I created a “Sweet Bodyscrub” inspired by South Africa and the flavors of the Western Cape. Fynbo honey and Rooibos tea gives me the warmth of the African sun and soft warm light of a sunset by the ocean.The scrub turned out really delicious so here is the recipe! You may have to adjust the measurements according to how you like it and what type of honey you are using:

Sweet Rooibos Scrub by Lisen
Sweet Rooibos Scrub by Lisen

1 cup (250 ml) organic honey

250 gram organic brown sugar

2 tablespoons organic vegetable oil – olive, almond, jojoba or what other oil you might have on hand.

a handful Rooibos leaf tea

1 teaspoon lemon zest

If the honey is firm, put it in a jar over hot water so it becomes soft and easier to handle.

Mix all ingredients to a nice, smooth paste, if it’s too lose, add more sugar and Rooibos leaf.

Put the mixture in a dry, clean glass jar and store in room temperature.

Use: take a shower, take a handful of Sweet Scrub and massage it gently into your skin. Rinse off and enjoy your soft skin!

Sweet Rooibos Body Scrub by Lisen
Sweet stuff to nourish your skin!

The Rooibos leaves and the sugar gives a gentle scrub and supplies plenty of antioxidants. Honey is a wonderful healer and leaves the skin feeling soft, rehydrated, smooth and soothed. Lemon and vanilla lends their inviting fragrance to the blend.

Enjoy!

Lisen