I’m so excited!

Hey! Sorry it’s been so long that I’ve posted anything… Summer came and my kiddos were here, and now they are back in Sweden and I’m going on about my business.

Yes! I’ve had so much fun working on my business this past month and a lot has happened. I’ve been to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as a vendor this past Sunday, and for it being my first time, I think I did pretty good! It was a learning experience for sure and the couple in the booth next to me gave me a lot of good advice for my next craft show. People are so helpful and amazing!

I’ve opened my own Etsy shop too! You’ve got to check it out and PLEASE tell me what you think! Here are a few items in my shop:

A pretty carry-all to accompany you on your adventures!

A pretty carry-all to accompany you on your adventures!

The inside has a pretty polyester lining of cats!

The inside has a pretty polyester lining of cats!

Heat pads are perfect for muscle aches, headaches, cramps and they make a really nice gift!

Heat pads are perfect for muscle aches, headaches, cramps and they make a really nice gift!

AND, the best part is that not only are you getting pretty and useful things, you also help those less fortunate, because I donate $3 to charity for every item sold. Right now I’m donating to LA Animal Services. I want to thank you in advance for your kindness!

I hope you all have a blessed tuesday!

XOXO Lena

With sadness in my heart

Awesome cookbook!

 

At the moment there’s so much sadness in my heart, at the same time I’ve learned not to be sad because I’ve lost someone but to be happy that I indeed met and got to know this person, that life happened. But what do you do when all these emotions wash over you, the sadness, the tears and the emptiness? How do I know where to go from here? It’s like fumbling around in the dark trying to find your way out of a cave.

My loss, one of my dearest friends, to me that’s huge… and I’m thinking what her daughter must be going through… I can’t even begin to fathom what she’s feeling right now. What would I do if I lost my mother? I don’t know. I don’t think her daughter knows either.

When I found out about my friends passing, I fell down on the kitchen floor like a pile of clothes with my phone in my hand and I cried. There were so many feelings and thoughts and I could hear her voice and the sound of her laughter. That made me cry even more. I was thinking I could have done so much more, but in reality, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

When I told my kiddos what had happened, my daughter fell into tears and said: “Mom, now I know why my heart was aching yesterday”. She is only 10 but already feeling so much and she’s very intuitive.

I love to cook, and I’ve been wanting to make so many recipes out of this cookbook, so to get something else to think about for a while, I started cooking. My friend loved good food and to cook, we often made each other dinner back in the day, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her chicken spaghetti. It was her own recipe, but thank God she taught it to me!

There will always be things that remind me of her. A song. A scent. A color. A flavor. Every time I make the chicken spaghetti, I will think of her, but then again, I always did… Those reminders have always brought a smile to my face, it’s just that now they will have a totally different meaning, still bringing a smile to my face, but also sadness to my heart.

People come and people go. People die and babies are born. Every day. Energy and love in motion. The cycle is complete. It doesn’t make the pain less real nor does it make it go away. But I know I have an angel to hold my hand when this journey of life gets rough or bumpy. Hug and love your near and dear ones as much as you can and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, before it’s too late. Love every day!

I read something beautiful yesterday: “Mom, why do the best people die first? -Well, if you’re in a garden, who would you pick first?

XOXO Lena

 

Chickpea salad recipe

Chickpea salad

 

Finally! Here’s the recipe I promised… Not sure if you can really call it a recipe though since all you do is some chopping and blending… But, ohhh it turns out so delicious!

What you need/do:

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cucumber, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 can (8,75oz / 250g) garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

a small bunch of cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

freshly ground pepper

Here’s what you do:

Chop everything and blend into a bowl, pour the seasoned rice vinegar on the salad (it’s important that you use the seasoned rice vinegar!), and let it marinate for about 10-15 minutes. The seasoned rice vinegar is so full of flavor and has less sodium and is so much healthier than regular salad dressings, you won’t even need any oil! How great is that? To me, this is a full meal as it is… But, if you have a husband or growing kids, like I do, you can mix it with pasta and add meat or chicken to it.

If you’re not a fan of cilantro (I’m crazy for cilantro!) you can leave it out completely, or you can trade it in for some parsley or even basil if you like the italian flavors.

Ohhh, and needless to say, it’s delicious with garlic bread! Nom nom…

Easy as pie! Enjoy!

XOXO Lena

Guacamole recipe

2015-03-10 13.28.56

 

Ohhh Myyy God, this is one of my all time favorites, I make guacamole at least once a week if not more, it’s just so simple to make and delicious to have around for… well, just about anything from dipping chips and crackers, as a topping on your tacos to a healthy spread on your sandwich or even on your baked potato!

This is what you need/do:

2 avocados, pitted and peeled

1/2 onion chopped

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup cilantro chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

juice from 1/2 lemon

salt (I sometimes use Trocomare seasoned salt)

Mash the avocados and blend all the ingredients together and you have an awesome guacamole that will be a hit at your next party! If you like to spice it up a little, add some chopped chili to it. Serrano chili is good. But for me, the garlic does the trick for the spiciness. Enjoy!

XOXO Lena

To be back in L.A.

Organic produce Mexican food! Coffee

Besides my hubby and my friends, these are few of the things that I missed while I was back in Sweden. Even if I enjoyed the food and the cold weather back home, there’s something special with a California sunset… Mexican food… The organic section at the grocery store… 75 degrees and blue skies in March… You know what I’m talking about!

Even if it’s lovely to be back in L.A. I do miss my kiddos something terrible, and I’m praying that 3 months will go by fast. That’s when their summer vacation from school starts and they will hop on a Jetliner and come see me! I can’t wait! Seriously, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas, I’m so excited and counting down the days!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend, and if you’re reading this and live in the U.S, remember to move your clock forward tonight. Daylight savings time starts tomorrow.

XOXO Lena

Spring feelings in February!

 

©Lena Jolly Photography 2015

©Lena Jolly Photography 2015

It was a bit chilly but a sunny Sunday morning in Sweden, you know the kind when it’s right above freezing but then the sun peeks out and starts to warm you up a bit, so after a yummy breakfast of hot cocoa, open faced cheese sandwiches and cereals with milk, we decided to go outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Both my kiddos love the outdoors and we took a walk along the Ljusnan river and we loved every minute of it.

Bumbar feb 2017

 

Oh, I just love the smell in the spring, you know when you start smelling the earth again and the melting snow, I know it’s way too early for spring to arrive yet, but still, on days like these… Mmmmmm… Deep breaths and our faces turned towards the sun… Like real swedes, lol.

Axel feb 2016 Alice feb 2015

 

Sometimes, you just need to sit by yourself and turn within…

Axel feb 2015

I’m feeling so blessed to have these two wonderful people in my life, even if they don’t always get along, (I mean seriously, what kids do?) but on days like these… I LOVE IT!

Bumbar feb 2015

 

Olle enjoyed the walk too, even with his short little Jack Russel legs he’s always first in line leading the pack, lol.

Olle feb 2015 Olle

 

Just enjoying the morning by the water… Fresh air… Sunshine… The best company… What else can you ask for? Seriously.

Axel feb 2017 Alice feb 2019 Alice feb 2017 Axel feb 2018

That was our Sunday morning… Which continued with lunch when we came back home and later in the evening we cuddled up on the couch and watched movies. Are Sundays the best day of the week? Sometimes I like to think so…

IMG_2477 - Version 3 Axel feb 2019 Alice feb 2016

If you want to see more of my photos that are for sale, please check here!

Have a lovely week!

XOXO Lena

Chili con Carne for dinner tonight!

Picture from Pinterest

Picture from Pinterest

On cold February evenings, like tonight in Sweden, I love me some hot Chili con Carne. Actually this North American dish was inspired by the meat and chile stews of Mexico. I promise you, this version will become a favorite!

Here’s what you need:

1 Lb lean ground beef (c:a 500g)

1 Medium to large onion, chopped

3-4 Cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 Large green bell pepper, chopped

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Teaspoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon dry oregano leaves

1 Large can (15 oz) pear-shaped tomatoes

1 Can mixed beans

1 Can white beans in tomato sauce

1/4 Cup fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped

Salt to season

Garnishes (suggestions follow), optional

This is what you do:

Crumble beef into a wide frying pan over medium heat, cook just until meat loses pink color. Drain off fat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper, continue to cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft.

Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add beans. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring often to break up tomatoes. Stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt.

Garnishes. Choose from the following, arranged in separate bowls: 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese, 5 green onions, sliced, 1 firm-ripe avocado, diced and moistened with lemon juice to prevent discoloring, 1 cup sour cream.

You may also serve the chili with baguette or tortilla chips.

That’s it, a very easy, quick and yummy wednesday evening dinner! Enjoy!

XOXO Lena

To be inspired

Be happy!

I just started reading Marianne Williamson’s “A return to Love” and I simply can’t put it down. I love it! I’ve been reading several books by her, and they have all been as good as this one. I can highly recommend all of her books!

Marianne’s books have really touched my heart, I have come across these books during a difficult time in my life, and I am forever grateful for that. The same thing with Dr Wayne Dyer’s books, they are amazing! When you feel like you’re about to hit rock bottom, like you’re not worth anything, or that it doesn’t matter what you do because it doesn’t make a difference in the world, or to anybody for that matter… That’s when you need to read these books! They will change your life, slowly but surely you will realize that all you need to do is to change your thoughts and to have faith in yourself.

I am truly happy and grateful that I came across these books when I did, I think it’s God’s way of showing me a new direction in life. That’s how it happens, you ask God to show you the way, and in unexpected ways, he will show you the way. It may be through a book that falls into your lap, the lyrics in a song, you attend a seminar or maybe you hear someone talking in the line at the grocery store, saying just the right words that will make you go; “Yes, yes of course, that’s exactly what I needed to hear to get me back on the right path.”

At least that’s how these books have worked for me… I have had people come into my life to help me guide me through my difficulties, people who have told me about these books… I’m hoping to be that same kind of inspiration for you, to make your day brighter and your life a little lighter.

Happy monday!

XOXO Lena

Cooking for Valentine’s Day?

© Lena Jolly Photography 2014

© Lena Jolly Photography 2014

I just wanted to remind you about Valentine’s Day on February 14th, it’s right around the corner! If you don’t have any plans yet, don’t panic! Get the “Thug Kitchen” cook book, here, and show your Valentine your skills in the kitchen! He/She will LOVE you even more! After all, it’s the thought that counts. I can only speak for myself, but I’m pretty sure that everyone appreciates a gift that you’ve put some thought behind and show that you’ve noticed what they like, what their favorite food is…

Get the right mood by cooking up a fabulous dinner for two, set the table with a nice table cloth, candle light, lots of candles everywhere, a dozen velvety red roses and soft music in the background. You can’t go wrong!

Good Luck!

xoxo Lena

Feeling blessed

©Lena Jolly Photography 2015

©Lena Jolly Photography 2015

This picture of my son, Axel, takes me back to a warm breezy September morning back in 2011. We were enjoying our morning by taking a long walk along the coastline in Nynäshamn, Sweden. While we were walking we saw the sun burn through the fog and warm up the cliffs where we sat an talked for a long time. My daughter and her best friend were there with us too, but they were busy exploring the shore and picking rocks and talking about important first grade stuff. What a precious memory that I will forever cherish in my heart.

And it dawns on me how truly blessed I am, that I have tons of lovely memories like these with both my kiddos. And I’m so grateful that I have always put these kind of outings first, before my work, a clean house or piles of laundry. Because you know what? Eventually, I will get to do those things too… I have been blessed to run my own business so that I can set my own schedule that works for me and my kids and our lifestyle. I wish more women would take the leap and fulfill their dreams. It’s sooo worth it! All you need to do is follow your dreams and gut feeling. Do what makes you happy. For me, it’s moments like this September morning by the sea shore, walking, sitting and talking, feeling the warm sun in our faces and picking rocks… That’s quality time for me.

Our time on this earth is short, so just decide what makes you happy and go out and do it!

XOXO Lena