Sunday, October 31, 2010

Souper Sunday: Santa Fe Pumpkin Chowder

Can you think of a soup more fitting for Halloween? Me neither! This recipe is courtesy of Amy Bogard ... artist, adventurer, musician, mama, and more! I encourage you to go meet her via her blog, Micromovements.

I have three journaling superheroes who inspire me out of my handwriting-only box. (Another post for another day.) Amy is one of them. She is leading the trip to Taos that has me counting down the days until May. Until then, when I'll get to see (and, hopefully, get a taste of) Santa Fe in person, I will be enjoying this soup!

Here's the scoop on the recipe which Amy says is a favorite via Gluten Free Goddess. To quote Amy, "I am neither GF or a goddess but it's delicioussssss!!!"

Santa Fe Pumpkin Chowder

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste
1 15-oz can pumpkin (or squash)
1 15-oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 heaping cup roasted corn kernels
1/2 cup Frontera Jalapeno- Cilantro Salsa
1 cup light broth
1 14-oz. can coconut milk, as needed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Chopped cilantro, to taste- dried or fresh
1 teaspoon raw organic agave nectar
Juice from 1 fresh lime

Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat and add the garlic, cumin and curry paste; stir for one minute. Add the pumpkin, fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles, roasted corn, and salsa. Stir to combine.

Add the broth. Heat through to a simmer, and begin adding the coconut milk; start with one cup. If you like it creamy, add more. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, cilantro and sherry. Heat through gently and bring to a slow simmer.

Taste test and add the fresh lime juice to brighten the flavor. Stir. Add more spice if you need more heat; add more agave and/or coconut milk if you need less heat.

Serve with organic blue corn tortilla chips.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dear Taos

Photo Credit: Jim Kimmons

Dear Taos:

We haven't met yet, you and me. But we will. Next year. In May. I will be doing my best to capture you by whatever means you creatively inspire me to use. And, in the process, I suspect that you will capture me in return ... in ways that I can't even begin to imagine from where and who I am right now. Consider me all in.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Work of the Hands

This past weekend, I had the privilege of working with these beautiful people at the Shelter Animal Reiki Association booth at the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Conference. We gave 10-minute sample Reiki treatments to veterinarians, vet techs, and other exhibitors from across the country, with a few international visitors as well. Between treatments, we answered questions about Reiki and how it can be especially helpful to animals in a shelter setting. We were also there to lend support to SARA's founder, Kathleen Prasad, during her three sessions.

I went into this experience looking forward to being of service and making new friends in the process. I had absolutely no idea that this experience would leave me completely undone. There was so much compassion in such a small space ... and I'm not just talking about the SARA booth. The other exhibitors, the vets, their support staff. So many good-hearted and open-minded people. So many so appreciative of what SARA is trying to accomplish. It could swell a heart to bursting.

Besides all of that, there is a lot to be said for having a hand (or two) in helping others put their burdens down for a little while. It really is an honor to be a Reiki practitioner and to hold the space for people to relax for even a few minutes in a world prone to keeping us too busy and weighing us down with worries. The dozens of people I treated over the course of the weekend hadn't laid eyes on me before, but each trusted me enough to put themselves in my hands, with eyes closed, for a few minutes of peace. At the end of each treatment, without fail, they would exhale and thank me. Powerful stuff. Powerful, humbling stuff.

So you'll have to pardon the lack of a soup recipe yesterday or otherwise checking in. It might take me a little while longer to come in for landing. I'm really enjoying the big-picture view from here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reiki for Animals

I invite you to watch this lovely and informative segment on Animal Reiki that was on the PBS program, Healing Quest. It features my teacher, Kathleen Prasad, who is doing amazing things. She is co-founder of SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association), which is bringing the practice and teaching of Reiki into shelters and sanctuaries across the U.S. and beyond.

I have been practicing Reiki for ten years, attuned to Reiki I in October 2000. I didn't consider treating animals until I read Kathleen's first book, Animal Reiki, and took her core curriculum workshop in 2006. I fell in love with Reiki all over again. Her teachings made me a more confident and competent practitioner, regardless of whether I was treating animals or people. I will be forever grateful.

Kathleen will be traveling from California this weekend to speak at a conference of holistic veterinarians. I have the good fortune of being able to help the team at the SARA booth by giving 10-minute Reiki treatments to conference attendees who are interested and answering any questions that they may have about the practice of this Japanese energy technique.

If YOU have any questions about Reiki, please let me know here in the comments or by e-mail.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Souper Sunday: Curried Carrot Soup

When the leaves start falling and the furnace cuts on, I start digging around for my beloved soup recipes. You too? Well, I thought that it might be fun to open future Sunday posts here at Jakk's Magic Beans Life to soup recipes. Yours and mine. Hopefully, there will be one new soup recipe here every Sunday until or into Spring.

Please send me any soup recipes that you'd like to share and you'll be the star of an upcoming Souper Sunday post. Doesn't matter if your recipe is easy or complicated, vegetarian or omni-licious. All are welcome. Include a photo, if so inclined ... of the soup, of you, of the soup AND you. If you're really feeling creative, any shot oriented to the season would be cool too. You'll get full credit for everything, of course, and a link back to your website, if you'd like it shared.

Are you in? Great! Send to me at

On this first Souper Sunday, I wish I could tell you that this recipe is a family heirloom, passed down through generations. Nope. Sorry. I adapted this one from a 2003 recipe from Rachael Ray. It's fast. It's easy. It's got a warm, spicy kick to it that soothes me when it's cold and wet. I like it best sipped from a coffee mug. By the way, it freezes and reheats beautifully, with a little water or broth if needed.

Curried Carrot Soup
Serves: Approximately six 1.5 cup servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 2-pound bag of baby carrots
2 32-ounce cartons of chicken or vegetable broth
1.5 tablespoons curry powder (more or less to taste)
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Sour cream and/or chives as garnish, if desired

Preheat medium pot over medium/high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Saute carrots and onions for about 5 minutes. Add one carton of broth, curry, cayenne and salt. Bring to boil, cover and cook until carrots are tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from stove and allow to cool. Puree in blender in small batches (with caution) or using a stick blender. (Pre-schmooshing with a potato masher makes the pureeing process go a lot faster.) Return soup to low heat. Add broth from second carton to the thickness that you prefer. I have never garnished this soup with sour cream and/or chives. It's perfectly delicious without them. For all I know, I've been missing out, so please give it a whirl if these additions sound good to you.

Happy souping!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sharing Sadness

Jen Lee's recent post resonated with me, as her words often do.

"Maybe this is the sadness that is underneath it all, all of the time."

It has been almost a month since my solo retreat weekend at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford. I know that I promised to share the details of this experience weeks ago, but it's difficult to share what is still in process. I reaffirm that I truly welcomed the opportunity to have the expansive time to and with myself. For meditation. For contemplation. To simply be. But I had no idea what would be coming as a result.

"Perhaps all the activity is just my attempt to outrun it."

The reality of this retreat experience turned out to be very different than my fantasy of it. Rather than basking in the luxury of having nothing to do but be, I was faced with and, honestly, surprised by a tremendous sense of sadness. There was no way to avoid it. I had purposely limited the number of distractions at my disposal. (Seemed like a good idea when I packed.) There was no book to read. No television to watch. No computer at hand. There was no other option but to be with these uncomfortable feelings ... to make them and me a cup of tea and hear what they had to say.

When I slow down, all the things I haven't properly felt along the way are right there like a giant tidal wave arching over my head onto the shore.

My pain. The pain of loved ones. The pain within our world at large. Losses. Changes. Molehills. Mountains. So much to sit with ... but, sooner or later, sit with it all, we must.

Grace comes on its own schedule, but it always comes. I felt lighter the next morning, clearer, and in deep gratitude for having (finally) surrendered to what must have been clamoring for my attention for a very long time. Since returning home, I have been awake to all of the ways that I habitually distract myself from my true feelings, in particular, the heaviest and darkest among them. I try to have the foresight to put on the tea kettle and invite them to stay, rather than looking or busying myself away.

Nope, not easy. Never comfortable. But so much better in the long run than trying to outrun them. Sooner or later, they win.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The last quarter of 2010 has brought cool breezes, falling leaves, and my annual compulsion to simplify. I'm not a spring-cleaner by nature. This happens for me in autumn as my family and I prepare to nest indoors. October brings me the blank canvas of a fresh solar year. Marching orders are crystal clear. Out with the old and then gently hold the space to welcome the new.

I'm looking closely at how my days are spent and the hours/minutes within them. I have been starving for time here on the page and at my workbench. I am committed to clearing the literal and figurative clutter to find it. My well-being must be in good order before I can be of any help to anyone else. For me, quite simply, well-being = my arts.

My 2011 calendar arrived in the mail yesterday, along with my "worthy" necklace. Not a coincidence, I'm sure. This new calendar is a wee, red Moleskine. The wrapper will stay on it until January 1. But holding it between my hands, it's already telling me stories of new beginnings ... opportunities and dreams. So many good things for which to make room!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Have you ever considered
That maybe it's never really been about
Whether you can or can't do it
Be it or have it
But rather whether or not you've accepted
That you're worthy of it
Worthy, period
Because you are

This is my birthday present to me, lovingly created by Stacy Anne de la Rosa of Bellawish. She very kindly sent this photo as a sneak peek and I couldn't wait to share it with you. Words cannot describe how much I eagerly await its arrival and the important reminder that it will provide.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Path Ahead

My 45th birthday was spent on a day-long play date with my husband. We started bright and early with breakfast of the pancake persuasion at a local restaurant. (They had me at "blueberry compote.") Then it was off to the Cincinnati Nature Center for a bit of autumnal hiking. We had lunch at our newest favorite restaurant. And then, of all things, we started to clean out the garage when we got home. There wasn't even a whiff of this happening on our agenda. I guess the motivation was spawned from wanting to access the Halloween decorations that haven't seen the light of day for a couple of years. Next thing you know, we're pitching what needed pitching, changing and rearranging. Out with the old and, well, just out with the old. It felt great!

I think that the path ahead looks a lot like the hike that we took this morning. Each step has a way of revealing itself. No need to rush or make assumptions about what's coming over the hill or around the bend. Better just to take my time and enjoy where I'm at each moment of the journey and to trust that all is well.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reggae Run Report

After weeks of blazing sun and cloudless blue skies, yesterday afternoon turned seasonably cool and cloudy as Mother Nature finally got around to flipping the autumnal switch. I'm ashamed to admit that bailing out was seriously considered when the persistent drizzle became a steady shower. I confess that an escape plan was hatched and an alternate itinerary was cooked up that included warmth and dryness. Very tempting. Fortunately, I had the good sense to really think about how I would feel if I didn't follow through with this race which I had looked forward to for months. The answer, loud and clear, was crummy. It was really important to me to do this. Not only for myself, but for all of us.

So upon my commitment to forge forward, I'll have you know that the rain stopped and the clouds parted. There were a few welcome glimpses of the sun, bright enough to set the turning leaves on fire. And as I climbed those butt-kicking hills in the second half, after rounding Observatory, it felt like you were with me. We were cussing and laughing. By my side in spirit, you helped me to stay the course ... reminding me, again and again, that I could do it.

And do it, I did. I finished those 3 miles in 50 minutes and 9 seconds. Of course, there wasn't a trophy waiting for me at the end. Honestly, there was no one and nothing at the finish line other than the timer, a few bananas and cups half-filled with lukewarm water. But I felt like a champion, equally proud of myself and relieved ... and yet my elation was only a fraction of what it would have been had you been there. For real. You were missed. Very much.