A Bountiful Harvest!

It was a busy day in the studio!  Women gathered for creating and reflecting.

A follow-up to September’s workshop on Abundance Muses.

We began with some noticing and wondering. What had been different since our last time together? A wild variety of answers with one thing in common… our intentions were actually changing things in our lives and the lives of those we love!

Some red thread.

And a new question. What might we be hoping to harvest in this season? As we pondered, rain fell gently in the garden which is a hugely hopeful thing just now.

Then, editing those harvest hopes into a one or two word prayer. You guessed it! Time for dots!!! Each dot a prayer…

IMG_6108I’ll admit it’s the first time I’ve prayed while embellishing the bottom of a pumpkin! Then some time for paint drying and lunch.

A big pot of harvest-appropriate butternut squash soup. Truffle potato chips, chocolates, cheese… reminders of Italy.

And more dots. This time on the tops of the pumpkins!

Plus a few spares for my first artists’ market, known as Bizarre Bazaar, scheduled for October 27th! (Stay tuned to see whether Bill and I can actually put up the tent!!)

After that, some time for our Muse paintings. Some light here. Some shadow there. Moons added in honor of tonight’s full Harvest moon.

A new technique here or there. Scary colors doing magical things.

The new studio table baptized in paint.

Lots of support and encouragement wrapped in stories of how we got here from there.

A visit from my CODEX moon, with some pointers on shading and highlights.

And a considerable amount of leaping over the studio angels, who slept on, lulled by their favorite drum music.

Then, some words from Shiloh Sophia McCloud’s Tea with the Midnight Muse.

Here are a few of those words (though I can’t do the layout justice) on the off chance that you might have some harvesting to do, too!

Fear Less, Love More

fear less… love more… doubt less… dream more… mock less… hope more…

hesitate less… dance more… pretend less… be more you…

think less… receive more

May Bounty shine on you and yours… Sue and Phoebe and Luther

’tis the season for soup and paint…

The big wooden bowl in the kitchen is running over with ingredients for my favorite fall soup.

The studio is running over with canvases and paint and (dirty!) brushes and scraps of collage paper and way more extra texture than would be considered optimal by most artists. Luther is still blowing coat!

Here are some in-progress pics from the studio, complete with repair work underway. The soup recipe comes next!

First, the beginnings of an owl who has insisted on having tea with my Midnight Muse.


Then, TreeWoman, sketched in, with lots to say!


And now for the recipe… my own concoction, just for you and yours!

World’s Tastiest Butternut Squash Soup

Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day and awakens and refines the appetite. – Escoffier

Makes about 6 quarts of soup. Leftovers freeze well. 

Equipment: You’ll need a 10 quart stockpot and a couple of pans for roasting veg. I use heavy gauge stainless ½ sheet trays. An immersion blender, food processor, or Vita-Mix type blender are really handy. In a pinch, a food mill will work. Or a hand potato masher.

Ingredients: I try to pick organic squash that are more cylindrical in shape, than those that have the bulbs on the bottom. They’re easier to cut up and peel! Also look for smaller squash, about 2 lb. or less in size. They have thinner skin and smaller seeds. Plan ahead for this soup and buy pears about 5 days ahead of time so they’ll be ripe. If you need to purchase stock, the varieties in the shelf stable boxes, no salt added, organic if you can find them, are usually the best choices. A small, local butcher may have broth periodically. That would be a great choice! This soup is comforting in the same way that the m-m-good tomato stuff from the can seemed when you were six. But way better!!!

Note: Additional ingredient suggestions are listed below under Garnishes.

  • 2 quarts bone broth or veg broth, preferably homemade. Chicken, turkey, or pork are all great. Veg works really well, too, for an easy vegan dish.
  • About 6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with a bit of kitchen string.
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh.
  • 3 – 4 lb. total butternut squash (about 2 smallish ones), washed and peeled, with seeds removed. (If the squash are really small and tender, sometimes I skip the peeling!) Chop into chunks about 1 inch square. The pieces don’t have to be pretty. They just need to be about the same size. (If you want to save the seeds, rub orange strings from them with a clean, dry dish cloth. Rinse well. Spread on paper towels to dry.)
  • Good olive oil.
  • Good grey Celtic sea salt.
  • Freshly ground pepper…black, mixed, or pink.
  • 3 – 4 ripe organic pears, washed, cored, seeded, and chopped to about the size of the squash pieces. (Substitute organic apples if they’re more local or pears aren’t available.)
  • 2 large or 3 medium organic red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, washed, cored, seeded, and chopped.
  • 2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped. 

Preheat oven to 450 F. 

Cover 2 sheet trays with unbleached parchment paper, if desired to help keep veg from sticking.

In a 10 quart stockpot, place the broth you’ve chosen and heat gently, adjusting heat as stock thaws or warms from fridge. Bring to very gentle boil. Skim any foam that appears on top, and continue to simmer slowly while you prepare the veg.  Add thyme and bay leaves.

Place squash pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle with good olive oil to coat lightly and season with salt & pepper. Toss together well. Be a bit generous with the s&p.It will be most of the seasoning for a big pot of soup. Hold on to the bowl. You’ll need it again in a few minutes!

Spread squash on prepared sheet tray, in single layer. Place in oven at 450 F for 15 min.

While squash begins to bake, prep veg and pears or apples as noted above. Add to bowl. Drizzle all with good olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Toss together well and arrange in a single layer on 2ndsheet tray. Add 2ndtray to oven and continue to roast, along with squash, another 20-30 min.

You’ll begin to smell the veg as they get close to done. Check with fork for tenderness. They should brown to about a medium tone. The squash will get darker than the pears and onions. Remove  trays when done.

Check simmering soup stock. Raise temp a bit so it’s simmering fairly boldly, but not boiling. Remove bay leaves and herbs if used. Transfer all the veg into the stockpot CAREFULLY. An extra set of hands is helpful for this. Mix well and allow to simmer to blend flavors, 10 or 15 min.

Prepare desired garnishes. Get creative! Here are some thoughts to start:

  • Chopped pumpkin seeds. (Save squash seeds until fully dry and use, lightly toasted, in other soup or salad, or save them to plant in your garden.)
  • Popped corn, lightly salted.
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley or other herb or green of choice.
  • Crumbled, cooked sausage-preferably local in spiced pear flavor or Italian sausage, mild or hot, to taste.
  • Good, homemade toasted bread croutons, pan fried in a bit of melted butter.
  • Crumbled local goat cheese
  • Really fine, aged Balsamic vinegar for drizzling just a bit.
  • A dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.
  • Chopped avocado. 

Just before time to serve, puree mixture. A hand-held immersion blender is easiest. Other wise, transfer in batches to a food processer or VitaMix (blender). Use caution with hot liquids – only fill containers ½ full! If using a food mill or potato masher, allow liquid to cool a bit first to avoid burns. Working in batches, mash and blend soup well.

Stop when you like the texture you’ve achieved. Chunky, really smooth, whatever works for you! If you want it super smooth and velvety, you can pass the puree through a fine screen sieve. The cone shaped ones worked well and you can push soup through with a wooden spoon. It’s all a matter of personal preference. I’m fine with a little texture left in mine!

Return all soup to pot, if necessary. If using hand-held blender, be sure plug does not fall into soup! Stir to blend well.

Taste for seasoning. With a good, homemade broth base and generous seasoning along the way, it probably won’t need any additional seasoning. I like the pure, clean taste of all the veg! If you like a little heat, try:

A few drops of hot sauce, to taste, or a pinch of cayenne or chipotle pepper. Warm spices like cinnamon, curry, or nutmeg are another good choice.  

When it tastes perfect to you, it’s ready! Small children may like to do their own garnishes and are more likely to actually eat the soup if they do.

Set your imagination free on serving options, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Traditional bowls and spoons are great. Try shot glasses in a small bite appetizer setting. If you don’t have enough soup bowls for your crowd, teacups or coffee mugs will work.  Add a slice of really good bread and perhaps a piece of good cheese and you have a fabulous meal. Have fun!

Save those leftovers!!! Cool soup before placing in freezing containers. Glass jars break a lot. We use BPA-free plastic but never pour hot food into it. I freeze soups like this in quart, pint, and even ½ pint size containers. Then you can thaw what you need for a family dinner, a comforting lunch on a crazy day, a care package for a friend, or even a creative way to add extra veg to any soup or sauce. Try thawing a small container and using the warmed soup instead of cream or olive oil to mash potatoes!!! Leave an inch of headspace before placing the lids to allow for natural expansion when it freezes. Label clearly including whether the broth base is meat or veg. And be sure to date it. That’s a freezer full of comfort food and all you did was cook dinner!






Wednesdays Come Faster Than Sundays!

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind of doing so far. One of those weeks that remind the preacher inside me that Wednesday feels like it comes around way faster than Sunday! And a clear message that time for reflecting leads to things like blogs and sermons and paintings.

There are several gallons of bone broth (aka Bird Soup!) cooling in the kitchen, a creative process which began with thawing on Monday, and simmering from Tuesday until today, about 24 hours of cook time. Surely, at least some of Heaven smells like this!

I’ve painted on three different projects so far this week.

And, a bit earlier today, I joined some of my paint sisters in a guided visioning journey that had to do with steps into the future and gathering and planting, all of which are happening literally and figuratively in my world, just now.

True confession… I have a tendency to wander off on my own during visioning moments, perhaps because the visual part of the experience is often missing for me.

Today, though, I was struck by a particular phrase.  Something along the lines of:

What is your right pace for stepping in this moment?

My first reaction was a little faster than I can go right now!

I’m still having some challenges with a muscle injury in my calf.

IMG_5967Ever helpful, Luther seems to have appointed himself resident physical therapist. In fact, I leaped over him conservatively 17 times yesterday while I was getting the broth pot going. Everybody knows the best place to lay is in the middle of the kitchen floor, between the sink and the stove!

And, no, Luther has not yet developed a grasp of getting up and moving unless the spirit moves him. (I’m holding hope on that one!)

When I thought a bit more about the stepping question, though, I realized that the answer for me is to just keep stepping.

It really doesn’t feel like a contest, but more a matter of perception.

I’m choosing to perceive myself as a being in creative motion, rather than a being sitting still. (Even when I’m sitting still in the service of moving some more!)

And, speaking of creating… The photo above is a glimpse of one of my CODEX paintings-in-progress.

Before I tell you what it says, let me explain first that Hebrew was not my best academic adventure!

So, allowing for missing vowel points and a bit more proof-painting to come, the word, read from right to left is pronounced ba-rah and means create. 

And here’s the punch line, as it were. I realized, recently, that what keeps me stepping from one stone to another in my world is the deep calling to create everything from paintings to soup to love.

Just between us, that feels like a really good place to be! Where are you noticing creativity in your world?


Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach