Tending space… inner & outer!

There are people crawling around in my attic today. Again!

The same people who keep turning off the power and internet. This is only minutely more convenient than our recent 13 hour long power outage! (Deep bows to beloveds in places which have been through much worse in these days!)

My plan is simple. Tending.

You see, the conveniently placed horizontal surfaces – especially the ones near my chair and in the studio – have somehow gotten cluttered beyond use in all the seasonal and internal and orthopedic commotion around here.

And, as I mentioned, there’s a whole bunch of newness blooming in my studio and calendar!

So, I’m setting and refreshing altars. Five of them to be exact.

If you’ve known me for a while, this may be a surprise.

You see, in the brand of theology in which I was raised right, we don’t do altars!

There’s a whole lot of theory about this and some of it makes sense, especially considering the historical context in which much of it got – you know – written down.

But, we contemporary wanderers are nothing but gifted at reinterpreting words!

So, in my world, altar means intentional space. Much like Intentional Creativity® !

It does not mean big pieces of furniture which separate the holy folks from the regular ones!

My intentions for these spaces, like Feng shui, are to create reminders of what I hope for. What I intend.

Some of them have to do with learning. With focus. Spaces, that by simply sitting with them, can draw my attention from all the crazy, negative, power grabbing, deceitful (Feel free to fill in some of your own words!) junk going on around us.

It really helps!

I’m discovering other advantages to the altar practice, as well.

It’s an organizational tool. Really!

All the stuff I’ve collected for adventures like PRISMA and Maverick and Anthropas, intentionally placed, waiting and inspiring.

A grouping of things which remind me that actually sharing my work allows it to matter beyond myself.

My amazing new essential oils in a space of honor.

And, mixed through all these spaces, symbols of grandmothers and grandchildren reminding me of my Big Why.

And, since we’re being really real, having these altars – these intentional spaces – is orthopedically helpful, too! All the stuff I need the most where I can reach it without having to wonder how much it will hurt or to wait for help.

There is, to be sure, more tending to do. More creating of space that supports hope and growth, for me and for those with whom I work.

There have been moments when I’ve wished that my magic wand did things like this. You know, a wave or two and – POOF – all done.

There’s also the part of me that realizes that there’s growth in the journey. And that’s something I so long to help my girls realize.

So… time for some prayer dots and then back to tending altars. If the Reformation gang are having fits, it may be time for them to learn some new things, too! Or – maybe – some old things!

ps… just in case you’re experimenting with newness, too, and could use some company along the way, I have space for just a few new coaching clients. For more info, you know where to find me… suesvoice@gmail.com

pps… the glimpse of the painting, above, is from my Forest of Grandmothers canvas. It probably won’t mean much to you in this moment, but I’ll give you a clue. The bluish word you can‘t quite read is choose!

ppps…I’ve started my post-holiday fluffing at FierceArtWithHeart but the holiday prices are still in effect, just in case you’ve got a bit of space that needs some tending, too!

’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!






We don’t know…

When you’ve spent as much time as I have with most of your friends being ministers, therapists, and hypnosis gurus, you tend to pick up a lot of useful quotes. This one, which popped up on Friday,  comes from an ancient Sufi teaching story I’ve loved for years.

We don’t know if this is good news or bad news!

Here’s the short-ish version…

On Wednesday I started thawing local, grass-fed, sustainably raised bones for a big batch of beef broth.

Thursday afternoon, I roasted some of the bones and seared the well seasoned chuck roast for a rich, healing, satisfying stock. I soaked the raw bones in filtered water and organic apple cider vinegar, with “The Mother”, to help release the important minerals and collagen from the bones. Then, just before my paint buddy arrived for bonding over CODEX, moon 10, I fired up my biggest, most prized cauldron and started the magic.

Bones, meat, big hands full of herbs from the garden, bubbling away like the world’s best aromatherapy.

And bubbling on through the night.

About lunch time on Friday, we drained off a gallon or so of broth via the magic spigot at the bottom of the pot for my FODMAP diet friends. Then it was time to add heaps of Vidalia onions and organic garlic, along with some celery, parsley stems, and a dried Mexican pepper.

And more bubbling. And big dogs camped out in the kitchen.

Before dinner, we got things strained and cooled and into the fridge.

I was feeling like it was really good news! In addition to about three gallons of bone broth, I had figured out the next step on my painting, written descriptions for the new ones going up in my shop and made progress on the plan for an upcoming workshop.

Then, after dinner, I heard a bang and a bunch of #%*@* from the kitchen. It took a minute to extricate myself from the laptop and magic chair, while Bill yelled back that he was sort of okay.

When I got there, he was clutching a huge garbage bag, standing in  pool of broth, and picking up a bunch of big bones from the floor.


Garbage finally out, along with a roll of soggy paper towels, I started with the wet Swiffer magic.

Suddenly, there was the sound of glass breaking.

Somehow, the cauldron lid crashed into a wine carafe and a very useful measuring cup resulting in glass everywhere and more #%*@* from Bill.

Obviously, lots more cleaning ensued.

And laughing.

We don’t know if this is good news or bad news!!!

If I had to pick, though, I’d go with more good news than bad.

We have healthy, delicious, inexpensive food headed for the freezer and for our friends.

We just bought a new garbage can last weekend so nothing should leak out.

And, laughing is way better than yelling!

Mostly, though, we’ve had teachers who’ve helped us learn that good or bad isn’t always the most helpful question.

Often, it’s what do we do next?

Which is, by the way, an excellent notion to teach the littles in your world. It works for art, too!

According to the plan, the answer to that is to go pick up some more paintings from the magical scan land and add to my book of options. That’s pretty exciting!

So, by the way, are oysters!

Lunch Menu: Celebration & Comfort!

Yesterday, a dear friend came to remove Luther’s sutures after his eye surgery, and to paint for a bit. (We’re working on our CODEX paintings. Moon 7.)

I fixed lunch. The intention… celebration and comfort for body, mind, and spirit.

The menu tended in the direction of rustic elegance.

First, soup. I began with a quart of homemade broth. In this case, grass-fed, local beef broth, FodMap diet style which means no onions, no garlic, and limits on certain veg.

You can begin with whatever you have and trust, avoiding, I sincerely hope, the stuff in cans. Veg broth, chicken, pork, even seafood broth all work nicely! Or, for super simple, organic freeze dried mushrooms soaked in hot water until the color of strong tea and drained well through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. (Not FodMap.) Use resulting broth then save mushrooms to add to soup.

After thawing the broth overnight in the fridge, I steeped it, partially covered, for a couple of hours, simmering gently, rather like tea, with 4 or 5 organic star anise pods, an organic cinnamon stick, about 1/3 of a warm but not hot dried pepper, 2 fresh bay leaves, and a small bundle of thyme and rosemary from the garden. This left me with a broth tending in the direction of Asian flavors.

About half a shot of cognac would not be amiss during the simmering process.

About an hour before lunch, I finely chopped a small organic fennel bulb and the stems of a bundle of organic Italian (flat leaf) parsley and added them to the steaming broth.

Meanwhile I heated some previously cooked organic brown rice in the oven. Brown rice ramen noodles work well, too, but we were out.

Then, back outside, just before serving, for the first batch of organic arugula from the garden. A quick rinse and a fine chop later, it was time to dish up the soup, after a moment to scoop all the herbs and spices out of the pot.

Brown rice in the bottom of each bowl. Chopped, raw arugula on top of that. Broth, with added fennel and parsley, ladled generously over all.

Season to taste with good natural sea salt, freshly ground mixed pepper corns, and a gentle drizzle of organic garlic olive oil which works even for most FodMap friends.

I served the soup with sides of perfectly ripe organic avocado, topped with a smidge of fruity Italian olive oil, and salt & pepper, along with some organic local sourdough crackers. Nuts would add some extra protein.

You can do the same thing with the ingredients you love, enhanced but not buried by the flavors that work for you and whatever’s great in the garden. Or farmers market.

IMG_5299Yes, it’s easier if you happen to have a freezer full of really good broth. And it took a bit of clock time, but very little effort, to fix. Check locally and online for high quality broth which you can find in shelf stable boxes or, especially in the case of seafood broth, frozen and delivered to your door. Yum!

Or, if you happen to have an InstantPot, learn a super simple broth process soon. You’ll be several steps closer to your version of comfort, healing, celebration… whatever you’re hoping for from lunch.

No dessert needed, especially if you have time to paint!

My wish for you this day is inspiration…


Magic Wands

Over the years, I’ve developed quite a collection of magic wands.

The sparkly, beaded one found me in a tiny shop in Black Mountain, NC somewhere around the year 2000. It’s been a handy teaching metaphor for counseling clients through the years though, sadly, it didn’t come with an owner’s manual.

Then there’s the paintbrush which, as it turns out, is quite a bit more useful for making magic than the pretty, moon shaped one.

And then there’s our third magic wand for today.

You guessed it! It is, in fact, a meat thermometer of the old-fashioned, non-digital, actually working sort. Perfectly designed for telling when my fabulous roast chicken is crispy and juicy and exactly done.

Bill and I made two of those chickens on Sunday which, around here, is step one of the magic known as bone broth.

Actually, it might be step two. Step one happens on local farms where my sustainable farmer friends raise chickens like, well, chickens which follow us home from Pine Street Market.


Anyway, the carcasses of those chickens, along with some miscellaneous turkey bones from the freezer, and a whole bunch of onions, garlic, and herbs, disappear into an enormous vat of water and appear, about 16 hours later, as a nourishing, healing elixir of comfort. (Which leaves lots of time for art!!!)


Several of you have asked, recently, for the roast chicken recipe. I’m delighted to oblige!

Click here! 

Fix. Enjoy. Freeze the bones. The broth recipe will be along shortly.

It really is magic. (Especially for breakfast!)

For more soup magic, check out my book:  Let’s Boil Bones… Grammy’s guide to bone broth and other yummy things!




More Dots and a Pot of Broth

A guy called Bill Harris, whose name probably means nothing to most of you, passed a couple of weeks ago from this world, where cancer exists, to the next, where it doesn’t.

I spent a weekend, years ago, in a workshop he was leading. I didn’t know him well. I might, at least back in the day, have been ok with that.

All of that aside, Bill Harris changed my life. And, just maybe, the lives of some of you who’ve known me a while.

You see, Bill Harris is the guy who taught me about filters and maps of reality and the ways people change.

He taught me some other stuff, too, but this, for me, is where it all comes together.

Bill made this chart that basically explained human perception — at least as much as we understand about it — and its relationship to the results we get in our lives.

I used to give my clients copies of the chart, with none of the words written in, and walk them through it so they could fill it in for themselves.

It has a lot to do with neurophysiology and quantum physics.

Here’s the link to Bill’s latest book, Thresholds of the Mind. It’s way worth the reading. The chart is in there and he explains it better than I do!

This is the short version.

There are 2 or 3 billion bits of information coming at us at all times.

On a good day, our brain can handle a couple of hundred in any given moment.

The way we survive is to establish a complex set of (mostly) unconsious filters to block out all the stuff we can’t manage.

What gets through the filters is, largely, what matches the map of reality we all have.

Which is a lot like seeing only what we expect to see.

That, combined with the choices we make and the context in which we exist, determines our experience of the world. The results we get in our lives.

And everybody we know is doing the same thing, all the time, and most of us have no idea it’s even happening.

This weekend is a good example of how it all works.

Ten lives were lost in a school shooting in Texas on Friday. Countless more were impacted in ways we can’t begin to know.

There’s been a wedding going on across the wee pond. A wedding that is, in many ways, groundbreaking.

The American political primary season is in full swing and many of us are wondering not only which candidates to support but what the odds are that our votes will be counted accurately and fairly.

And which of those things are getting through to us have a whole lot to do with our filters and our map of reality.

There’s no judgement here. Just hope.

I didn’t get up at 5 am to watch the wedding. I know a lot about weddings. And I was up late the night before making prayer dots on paintings for the victims in Texas, and for a very sick baby and his grandmother whom I adore.

Today, more dots and an enormous pot of turkey broth that will feed lots of people I care about and quite a few I don’t even know.

All the while hoping that the big wedding across the wee pond will somehow bring more tolerance and peace to a world that could use a whole lot more of both.

And a reminder that when we get conscious of some of those filters, and the fact that our maps of reality are maps and not concrete reality (Whatever that is!), things can, indeed, get different.

Bill Harris drew the chart.

The work is up to us.



Frozen, inside and out!

It’s been an adventurous week in real food land!

First, there was the issue of a big chef’s knife, a handful of organic kale stems, and my left thumb. It wasn’t pretty!

Things are healing well, though the “keep it dry” bit is getting old. I’m grateful for my nurse years and a good, clean cut. Also, lots of Flexible Fabric Bandaids and Bill who ran to fetch them.

Then, just in case you wondered what local farmers are doing when it’s freezing cold in Georgia, ’tis the season for deliveries.

On Tuesday, we got a fabulous batch of dog food from our friend, Chad, as well as some gorgeous beef bones for the two-footed people.

Wednesday brought our long-awaited “pig parts” delivery from my buddy, Greg, along with a reminder that it’s not easy being a family farmer.

Weather issues and truck issues have postponed this delivery for a couple of weeks.

The delivery, itself, was a bit of a surprise! In fact, it was a reminder that being a serious local foodie isn’t always easy either.

(Vegan, vegetarian, and drive-up window friends may wish to skip down a bit. **)

My two favorite kinds of bone broth to make are chicken/turkey and pork. Really!

Chicken and turkey are fairly easy to procure. We roast chickens from our friends at Pine Street Market so often that we have a fairy endless supply of bones, along with great sources for pasture raised, heritage breed turkeys from Greg plus feet and necks from Greg, Chad and the big DeKalb farmers market. (Don’t knock the feet!)

Pork is a different issue. Humanely pasture raised hogs take longer to mature than the factory farmed, grain fed variety. They’re ready when they’re ready which, traditionally, is when it’s cold.

Finding humane USDA processors who will deal with small, family farmers is another challenge and some of them involve wandering a couple of states away and back in the middle of a snow storm.

We’ve been out of pork broth for a couple of months now, so I was ecstatic when my delivery arrived.

Until I saw it.

Let’s just say, for the sake of those who may be new to local food, that the processor apparently didn’t think I was serious when I asked him to split some large chunks in half.

**I did the only obvious thing and pulled on my oven mitts to rearrange a couple of freezers while I hatched up a plan.

I literally couldn’t have put a toothpick in either of my freezers which is both a challenge and, clearly, a blessing.

Several emails and phone calls later, I got the help I needed. Also lots of freezer paper and zippy bags! There are now manageable chunks in my freezer, as well as some more thawing in the fridge. Tomorrow is pork broth day.

In this moment, I am warmed, not only by anticipation of really good soup, but by a community of people who care about delicious, healthy, humane food that’s good for our environment, our economy, and our kids. And, if you’re looking for a place to get involved, bone broth is a great place to start!

Click here to find my e-book, Let’s Boil Bones… with recipes for most eating plans, and watch for the paperback, coming soon.

And put a few pots of herbs in a sunny window. Spring will come!

I owe you, Rusty!






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