Category Archives: My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – Time

Since the New York City Ballet winter season started 2 1/2 weeks ago, I’ve had little to no free time.  But yesterday and today I finally got some…and I’ve been putting it to good use!

Yesterday, in my ongoing quest to simplify yet still make my illustrations as expressive as possible, I practiced creating some cartoon versions of myself.

My Life as a Cartoon #1 resized

My Life as a Cartoon #2 resized

My Life as a Cartoon #3 resized

I loved doing the facial expressions, but realized that I might need to rethink the body proportions as well.

My Life as a Cartoon #4 resized

(Where did my legs go?)

So today I worked on stick figure body drawings.  I felt like I wasn’t making much progress until I decided to create a more fantastical pixie-like creature.  Here she is…

Joana's Pixie for blog



Filed under art, drawing, drawing faces, education, Influences, ink sketches, inspiration, My Favorite Things, New work, practicing drawing

My Favorite Things – After the Snow

After winter storm Jonas, Central Park took on an almost carnival air with seemingly all of New York City out enjoying the snow.

sledders in Central Park after Winter Storm Jonas

But today as I walked home, the paths were mostly dry and clear, and except for the occasional jogger, I had the park to myself.  

Photo of Manhattan as seen looking towards Central Park South

The air was clean and crisp – perfectly refreshing and conducive to feeling in the moment.  (To be honest, I thought I might have even spied Buddha.)

Buddha snowman

Tomorrow’s warm forecast will probably melt the rest of the snow.  I’ll be sad to see these creatures go…

Conehead snowman

Cute snowman melting in the sunlight


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Filed under My Favorite Things, nature, New York, New York City, photography, Uncategorized

My Favorite Things – A Quiet Afternoon at Home

My low-energy funk last week didn’t last too long.  Between rehearsing and performing shows with the New Jersey Symphony and the New York City Ballet, there hasn’t been much time to loll around this week.  And in addition to my musical work, I’ve also been busy at the drafting table.  Occupying my time is a fun multi-piece, custom jewelry design project for a new client.  Ironically, it’s the work that’s energized me and also given me a sense of calm and focus.

Today after walking home from Lincoln Center, I took time to brew a pot of Rooibos tea and enjoy one of my homemade Almond Flour Chocolate Oat Chip cookies with Orange (recipe follows below).  

afternoon tea

The light streaming into our apartment was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist taking some photos of my magnificent orchid.

My orchid in bloom

My orchid in bloom Jan 2016

And since I was enjoying being in the moment, I finished my afternoon tea hour by lighting one of my Lisn Japanese incense sticks

teapot with incense ribbon

Joana’s Flourless Chocolate Oat Chip Cookies with Orange


1 cup packed almond flour

scant 1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold Irish butter)

1/2 cup non-fat dry milk

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup candied orange peel

1 cup semi-sweet (or 70% or higher) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two baking sheets.  Combine the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, dried milk and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly blended.  Stir in the rolled oats, candied orange peel and chocolate chips.  Drop heaped teapsoonfuls on to the prepared baking sheets, spacing about an inch apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just browned on top.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.


Filed under My Favorite Things, New York, New York City, photography

My Favorite Things – Icy Blues in the Dead of Winter

Looking at my pictures from my visit to Maine last week makes me feel like I went to the end of the earth.  And in a way, I guess I did.

The stillness of the place…

Kittery harbor view

Was surpassed only by its beauty.

Looking out to sea in Kittery, ME

Beaches were deserted…

Coast in York

Though the surf still put on a good show.

Ocean spray in Maine

(This could be the stairway to heaven!)

Rocky York coast

A solitary lighthouse stood proudly in the distance…

Lighthouse in York

And a gull helped keep watch.

Seagull on Maine coast

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Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, nature, photography, travel, travel photography

My Favorite Things – Winter Postcards from New Hampshire and Maine

cold harbor view in Kittery

Part of the beauty of escaping to Maine in the winter is that it’s too cold to do much else other than hibernate (and eat and play card games, of course!)  Fortunately, my mom’s humble rental in Kittery, Maine is just a few steps from Portsmouth, NH, so when we’ve finally gotten up the energy to come out of hibernation mode, there’s plenty to see and do.

Our late afternoon walk today took us across the Portsmouth bridge…

view from the Portsmouth bridge

And provided great views of the lobster shacks and fishing boats in the Kittery harbor below.

the harbor in Portsmouth, NH

House in Kittery, Maine with lobster lures

The fading light brought the lampposts, store signs and steeples of downtown Portsmouth into relief…

many signs in downtown Portsmouth, NH

White steeple in Portsmouth, NH

And left the streets seemingly dusted in a gold haze.

Sunlit lamps and wreath in Portsmouth, NH

After rewarding ourselves with a hot chocolate, cappuccino and a few cookies at Popovers Cafe

hot chocolate at Popovers cafe in Portsmouth, NH

We made our way home across the bridge.

cottage on stilts in Kittery, ME


Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, nature, photography, travel, travel photography

My Favorite Things – A Foggy Day in the Big Apple


One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather…

I went for a walk around the Jackie O Reservoir!

And here’s what I saw…

Yellow tree in Central Park in the fog

San Remo towers in the fog

Upper East Side in the fog

Church and Upper East Side Condos in the fog

Upper East Side church and high rise in the fog

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Filed under inspiration, My Favorite Things, nature, New York, New York City, photography

My Favorite Things – New York City Brownstones Decorated for the Holidays

I had one of those rare mornings today where I realized that I actually had nothing pressing to do.  The presents are wrapped, cookies are baked and packages are shipped.  Even better, my sweetie is now home from Australia so I can relax again.  So, after walking him to work, I decided to take some detours along some of the side streets on the Upper West Side to see if there were any pretty holiday decorations.  This is what I saw:

Pretty brownstone doorway in NYC decorated for Xmas

Arched windows in NYC brownstone with holiday wreaths

Green wreath with green velvet bow

wooden doorway with holiday wreath

Doorway in NYC with iron grill work and holiday wreaths

Brownstone with wreath on the window

Manhattan brownstone decorated for Christmas

Happy Holidays!

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Filed under Influences, My Favorite Things, New York, photography