Sunday Serenity: Finding the Fun

February 7, 2010

This week, I have found so much serenity in relaxing into my own creativity. I realized recently that a lot of my creative energy goes into thinking of ways to enjoy art with my little ones. I think that there is nothing better than creating with our children, but I also believe that taking a little time for ourselves to relax, getting our hands dirty, paint on our faces, and having fun is really important.

Yesterday I gathered together some of our art books to plan a lesson for the boys. While I was sitting there, Tori Amos on (old school Tori), and all of the boys art supplies sitting in front of me, I took a seat on their small child size chairs, and colored. Not exactly stay in the lines coloring, but more, looking through the art books on Monet, soft pastels in hand, coloring.

It was fun, I mean really fun. I was a mess in the end, and the boys thought it was hilarious to see mommy, art shirt on, soft pastels in the hair, having such a good time. I didn’t invite them to sit with me, or to watch me, this was just for me. I really wanted to spend the whole day in that chair, just going through sheets of large paper making new designs.

Having children is such a huge blessing, but remembering and acknowledging our inner child is a wonderful gift we can give to ourselves

My husband had a very hard week, and was exhausted by yesterday morning, and both of my kiddos suffered from the stomach flu, so the serenity was a family affair this weekend.

As the weather is turning colder out again, and everyone is in need of a little comfort food, I decided it was the perfect day to make up some chai rice pudding. I am not really sure that I could get much more mileage out this chai concentrate, but I am apparently going to try my hardest. I love this stuff, it is just so yummy, and there seems to be an endless amount of possibilities to use with it. Yesterday, I had milk, arborio rice, chai concentrate and raspberries in the fridge, so that is where we started from. Warm raspberry chai rice pudding, and a cup of tea. Is there any better serenity than that?

Warm Chai Rice Pudding with Raspberries

4 cups of milk (I used almond milk for this recipe, but anything will work fine)
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup of honey
3 tbsp. chai concentrate
Fresh fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries
1/3 cup of dried fruit

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and rice to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 60 minutes. Add the honey and chai concentrate (and dried fruit if using), and allow to cook until the rice has plumped up, and is tender.

Serve in small cups, and top with fresh fruit.

I have been trying to spend part of each of my weekend with just my camera in hand, and no particular subject to shoot. I have loved playing with photography since I was a little girl (my dad is a landscape photographer), and just using the lens to tell my story on what beauty means to me. As my red mood was taking over, I searched my house for all of the pieces of that great color that I could find. The Amaryllis won out, and we spent the day together, catching the best light, playing with profiles, and loving every minute of it.

Years ago, when I first started teaching yoga, I had a student tell me that she never ended her day without a hot to cold bath before bed. I had heard of other cultures enjoying hot to cold experiences, but I had never thought of using it myself.

Today, it is a weekly part of my cleansing routine, and it is a miracle when my insomnia comes on.

Going from a super hot water bath to an ice cold shower can be tough, but exhilerating. For me, I sit in the bath for as long as I can, and then as soon as I need a cooldown, it is up into the shower for at least 3-5 minutes. I repeat this process at least three times, and I swear I can barely move I am so relaxed when I am through.

On the days when I really need to get every toxin out of my system, I draw a bath with 1/2 cup of dead sea salts, and a 1/2 cup of baking soda. A long soak, a lot of sweating, and a little cold water gives me a very comforting way of heading to sleep. Since salt is very drying, it is a good idea to have a heavy oil to replenish moisture to the skin.

I took to my journal last night to tackle a very basic question, but one that still gives me trouble. What do I need to feel creative? I am coming to realize that there are thousands of things that inspire me, but only a handful that make me a truly more creative person.

What five things do you need to feel creative this week?

I plan to end my weekend by enjoying a candle gazing, like this one that Lisa talks about. It has been too long since I sat in complete darkness, with only a candle to gaze at and take in. Candle gazing is a very warming practice, and one that brings a very needed sense of calm.

I wish you an abundance of serenity this weekend.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

adirondackmama February 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Well, now that sounds like a perfectly serene ending to a chaotic Friday. I'm glad that the boys are feeling better, Eben had it too and it is no fun at all.

I love the video of you drawing. I've been playing around with pastels as well since I finished up my watercolor for my grandparents for Christmas. So great to see you at work.

Epsom salts and I have been having a little bathtime ritual as well. I love the exfoliating effect of them.

Your new banner is gorgeous. Very fitting of Valentines.

Lots of hugs and health.


Maeghan February 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Sorry about the chaotic week. I hope the wee ones are better. I have never actually thought about your question, I will have to get back to that one. I bought myself a yoga dvd and mat yesterday. It is going to be a new beginning for Mr. Miller and me. I don't sleep well at all anymore and hope it will help at night.


Suzanne February 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I hope complete health is restored! It is so tough when the children are sick–take good care of yourself:-) That pudding looks so yummy!


eliz~ so wabi sabi February 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I takes these detox baths too…I find it helpful to either laugh a lot or breathe deeply when making the transition to the cold water. I think the key is the deep breathing that you do when you get into that cold water…it gets your lymph moving and keeps your body from reabsorbing the toxins from the water. So the cold water is really key to these hot baths.

I need a clear agenda to be creative in the most satisfying way…having a lot of materials at hand, a lot of time, and the permission (granted by myself of course) to just give in and make something.


Ann February 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Photographs as always are just wonderful and I can actually taste the rapsberries. Glad you are all feeling better and relaxing after a busy week. I am now on my half term holiday – although as usual a million jobs to get done.
Have a good week.


Lynn February 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

So many wonderful elements in this post – I am going to have to come back again to digest it all. I am eager to try the rice pudding as my family reins in its reckless eating (too much wheat and dairy lately)!

Your art-making reminds me to say that my partner and I haven't managed a real date night in a while, but we've had a wonderful time this week watching a DVD together on coloring with block crayons! Even watching someone else make a picture take shape can be wonderfully therapeutic somehow…

(Hoping your littles are feeling much better and that your husband has an easier week this week.)


rose February 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

The question of what makes me feel creative is one that I am focusing a lot of energy on at this point in my life. I never pursued creative endeavors as a child, no one in my family did. Now, as a mama to two girls, I am feeling, quite dramatically, the void this has been in my life. As a result I am pushing myself to explore different forms of creating (sewing, knitting, cooking, and dance to name a few.) It is challenging to learn all of these things as an adult, but I am having a great time for the most part discovering that amazing sense of accomplishment when I have created something from nothing. I want my girls to grow up in a creative household and be able to fully manifest their potential as creative beings so that motivates me to keep going when I am feeling discouraged. So, I don't really have a list of things that make me feel creative quite yet, but I can say that my daughters inspire me every day and so do the amazingly creative women who take the time to blog about their lives!

Have great week!


samthehamsmom February 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Wow, that arborio rice looks so amazing! I love the texture of the rice pudding and the raspberries. Although I am more partial to tapioca pudding, I may give this recipe a go~thanks. Glad you and your family found some MUCH needed serenity~Laura


Jessica February 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I look forward to reading your little space each day. It's so rejuvenating and affirming in the sincerest of ways.

Loving the new banner with it's reds and whites…beautiful! Now i need to stop admiring your calm and your rituals and get a few of my own going! Thanks, Heather!


Rebecca February 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Love the new header, red is a great color. This series is becoming one of my favorite ways to start my Sunday. Thank you for sharing


Francesca February 7, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Sometimes doing something just to feed our inner self makes us a happier person and therefore a happier and better mother. I appreciate how you focus on us as individuals, and not only mothers. I find that creativity is fueled by the process of making, and actually doing creative things, which in turn require a broader and more penetrating view of our surroundings in search of inspiration.
PS I was touched by your words.


Lise February 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

This is such a good reminder to nurture our own creativity, as well as our children's. The kids in my early childhood program have been cutting hundreds of snowflakes lately, and one day, I joined them in cutting. I'd forgotten how much I love to do that, and had such fun discovering what shapes I could make!

Thanks for your nice comment about my first crochet attempt!


Megan February 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm

I resonated with this entire post. From the serenity of sitting down to do artwork, to the rice pudding (love chai concentrate), to the hot/cold bath/shower. I went through a season of loving those and especially loving the time I would take to take a detoxifying bath. Of course that was before kids and nowdays I don't do nearly enough of that. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to take time for ourselves…it is vital.
What 5 things do I need to feel creative this week?
1. Energy- less than 2 weeks to go in my 3rd pregnancy and energy is slowly slipping away.
2. A goal to reach toward – I have lots of these in the coming months.
3. Sufjan Stevens, Fernando Ortega, Wilco, and George Winston
4. Quiet time to think and listen to the hum of my sewing machine.
5. And energy..oh wait, I already said that one 🙂
Have a wonderful week!


denise February 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm

i just have to tell you that I look forward to this post every week now. thank you.


quirkygranolagirl February 7, 2010 at 10:26 pm

What a coincidence. I was listening to Tori all night on Friday while I was busy creating in the kitchen. Listening to her reminds me of creating art by myself or with my roommates in my college days.


kendra February 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

what makes me feel creative = making an idea come to life, and innovating even more along the way. when it turns out, and especially if it turns out better than i expected. well, then i really feel like a genius, or like i had some enormous good luck…. or maybe some outside help. this is worth watching, if you haven't:

i must embrace the cold after the warm. thanks for the reminder!


Emmalina February 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

A gorgeous post Heather. You obviously inherited your dad's talent for photography, these are stunning. I think it is lovely that you are able to be so expressive and creative in the context of being a homeschooling mum; I find this really inspiring and it gives me hope for a future where there is a bit more room for me too! A lovely post to read during a very fraught Sunday, thank you.


5orangepotatoes February 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

Sounds like everyone is on the mend after a draining week. Love the video. I used to play with charcoal and pastels all the time, but haven't recently. I still need to make the chai concentrate and then make the pudding. Yum, and those raspberries look refreshing. Love the ice photo!


Stephanie February 8, 2010 at 12:32 am

I sat down with Jackson this evening and had gotten out paper and crayons, he wasn't too into it as usual, but this time I kept everything out and just colored away. He became so involved and I even found out he knows some of his colors. I loved every minute of it, it's so fun to bring out your inner child 🙂


Jennifer February 8, 2010 at 1:02 am

I really look forward to this Sunday Serenity series. I really need to think about your question but just off hand I know that for me getting sleep is vital for creativity. I get a lot of ideas from my dreams and it always seems like inspiration comes during a shower or bath, maybe that's from relaxation.
I love your new banner. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a photo header!
I also wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such thoughtful comments. It means so much!


jessica February 8, 2010 at 1:45 am

I am definitely trying that chai rice pudding-it sounds (and looks) so tasty. Right now I am off to a soak in a hot bath with salts and baking soda—I think it will be the perfect way to end the weekend. These serenity posts really, really speak to me. I find myself reading them time and time again throughout the week when searching for those quiet moments I desperately need.


larissa February 8, 2010 at 3:07 am

Heather I really enjoyed watching you draw – i have never used pastels and it looks like a wonderful way to create. In fact this whole post is so very creative and beautiful – LOVE the heart shaped raspberries in your pudding! what an awesome way to kick off the week.


Angela February 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I really, truly, love what you have to share! Thank you for the heart, body, spirit ~ soul-satisfying nourishment…I feel like you speak so gracefully to the mother,woman,artist/creative spirit in me and so many of us that join you here.


Kelly February 8, 2010 at 3:56 am

so much goodness in this post. thanks.


nicola February 8, 2010 at 4:52 am

i just needed to add another comment saying what a beautiful and thoughtful post this is heather. again.


Kathy@Oiko February 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

Heather I just love your delicious recipes and hope you may be able to help me. My little boy is turning one this month along with seven other cherubs in my mothers group. We have planed a birthday picnic at the base of beautiful Mt Warning in Tweed Valley, Australia. My dilemma is finding a healthy birthday cake recipe that the bubbas and mummas can enjoy. Any suggestions?


Imene February 8, 2010 at 1:49 am

I am glad you had a nicer end to your week. I fear stomach bugs because of all the messiness involved and the laundry!!
I saw your video I really enjoyed it. I am inspired by your ability to experiment with new things. Here's to another creative week!


Leanne February 8, 2010 at 2:56 am

Oh Heather such playful and creative indulgence and the soundtrack would be just the same in my home. The only thing missing from your video is the divine smell of incense smouldering.
I have been slowly working my way through a wonderful book (for the second time) ….The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.
Every time I pop over here it comes to my mind. I wonder if you are meant to have a look? X


Polly February 8, 2010 at 4:03 am

Question about the recipe: do you add the chai concentrate and honey after the rice and milk has cooked for 60 minutes? And if so, about how long did it take at that point for the rice to 'plump up'?

Oh and btw, seeing your handwriting in your journal was a total blast from the past from when we used to exchange notes in high school. I bet I have a bunch of them in a box somewhere – I should go through and find some. I think they would probably mention Eric Nies (sp?) or what we were doing that weekend… 🙂


sunnymama February 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm

A beautiful post and the rice pudding looks delicious! Your blog is so inspiring and fun. 🙂


AG Ambroult February 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I like what you dais about remembering and acknowledging our inner child. I have recently been eeking out a tiny bit of time for my very own creativity, too (not business-based). Your work is beautiful and I can tell it was a nice release for you. Youe photos are great, as well (they always are). …and candle gazing? I have never even heard of it, but suddenly have a strong urge to do so! Thanks for thispost. You are living a very inspired life.


Shivayamama February 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Leanne, LOVE LOVE that book. It has been years since I have worked with it, and you have inspired me to go back and pick it up. It took me a bit, but I finally found it. Would love to chat about it if we ever get the chance. WArmly, Heather


Shivayamama February 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Larissa, pastels are the BEST. They are so messy and so much fun and they just produce an awesome result. I did not see that I had heart shaped raspberries in that bowl until you mentioned it. So cool 🙂


Shivayamama February 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

That is so funny, because after I read this, I went in and looked at old notes that I had from the two of us, and my handwriting is the same 🙂
I added the honey and chairight as the mixture was starting to thicken up, which is will do rapidly towards the end, and which is what you really want to see happen. You can add them at the start as well, but I found that they caused a little bit more stick at the bottom that way.
BTW, did you get my email after you sent me your address? Or are we just email cursed?


Shivayamama February 8, 2010 at 9:48 pm

What fun to have such a close mother's circle! I have two birthday cake recipes that I use for each of my boy's birthdays every year. The first is… the second is… They are both moist and free of refined sugar. If you are not gluten free, than simply substitute the flour quanity for regular flour.
If you have any other questions, feel free to email me any time at
Blessings to your son on his first birthday.


perches February 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Oh, yum: thank you for the rice pudding recipe. I love rice puddings and am always on the lookout for a tasty new recipe. I really appreciate how you share specific examples of soothing things & how to incorporate them into a daily routine. I've started using one of your earlier notes on the water pitcher & cool/scented washcloth, and it's helped with adjusting to a new climate. As for the inspiring songs, have you seen this one ("Art") on YouTube? I love watching it occasionally:


perches February 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

OK, oops, here's the correct URL for the "Art" video:


Lindsey February 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Oh, candle gazing. I haven't done that in years and years! You've inspired me for this evening after my yoga class. 🙂 Thank you!


Rose February 10, 2010 at 1:24 am

Hoping you are all feeling better soon!

I read somewhere recently that the drop in body temperature that occurs after a hot shower or bath helps one fall asleep. I can attest to this, because I always shower before bed rather than in the morning.


Earth Mama February 11, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I hope your candle gazing southed your inner being. As well as getting down and dirty with the art supplies…and being fully present with your littles. I think your inside out class is rocking an awakening, which is a great thing. Thank you for mentioning me. I'm a bit behind getting caught up on blogging.



Aukele February 18, 2010 at 8:37 am

the rice pudding is amazing… i love love love it!! so yummy and delicious!


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