Category Archives: My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – The Healing Power of Being Outdoors

Ironically, as I’ve struggled over the past 6 weeks with health issues and anxiety, I’ve stopped doing some of the very things that make me the most happy and healthy.  Today I took an important step by, well…stepping outside.  And of course, I made sure to bring along my camera. (Note to self – stopping to take pictures of beautiful things is one of the best ways to be mindful and in the moment.)

Here’s what caught my eye…

Happy Thursday!



Filed under live in the moment, Live In The Now, Live In The Present, motivation, My Favorite Things, nature, nature photography, New York, photography, wisdom

Biding My Time on the Lower East Side

I’ve had occasion this past week to spend time on the lower East Side.   It’s not a neighborhood I know well, so I’m glad I remembered to bring along my camera.  (How cool to still be discovering new things in my hometown!)

Here’s what caught my eye today…


Filed under Architecture, Art Deco architecture, Live In The Present, My Favorite Things, New York, New York City, photography, travel photography

My Favorite Things – Getting My First Cartoon Published!

This is what it looked like around here this morning when I opened my email and learned that one of my cartoon submissions had been accepted for publication…

I started creating and submitting cartoons to publications back in September 2017.  A year and a half might seem like a long time to break in, but in the world of cartooning, it’s actually relatively short.  And so I also did this happy dance…

Truth be told, I figured that if I ever got published (I wasn’t getting discouraged – just trying to keep realistic), I might get picked up by one of the smaller publications who pay between $25 – $40 per cartoon.  This is what getting 3 figures for your first published cartoon looks like…

For now, I’m keeping further details of the magazine and publication date under wraps, but I promise to share more when I can.  In the meantime, there are still a handful of Joana Miranda Studio 2018 Cartoon Calendars available for sale.  And even though I’m now famous (ha!), the calendars are still just $18.50 each.  For more information, take a look here.


Filed under Art, Cartoon Illustration, funny art, Funny Illustrations, Humorous Illustration, I Love What I Do, Joana Miranda Studio, Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy, Love What You Do, My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – The Holiday Windows at Bergdorf Goodman

Every year since we moved to New York City, I look forward to seeing the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman.  Each year is a different feast for the eyes, and this year feels extra special since the 7 windows are a love story of sorts to a handful of cultural institutions around the city.

The New York Philharmonic window comes alive practically instrument by instrument in a fiery red explosion of neon color.

Far less monochromatic, but still jaw-dropping is the New York Botanical Society window.

The Museum of the Moving Image window steps back into the glamour of the silver screen…

While the New York Historical Society’s window brings a touch of folk art history to the mix.

Certainly the most dazzling is the window dedicated to the American Museum of Natural History…

(In this closer view you’ll see that even the skeletons are encrusted with crystals!)

While I missed the window dedicated to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), this window with its accidental reflection of the lights and bustle of 5th avenue is a poetic love letter to New York City in and of itself.

And this window – entitled “to New York with love, BG” – ties in black-tie fashion with many of the city’s landmark buildings, monuments and iconic images.

Very few of us New Yorkers are lucky enough to have Carrie Bradshaw-worthy wardrobes (or closets)…

But we can always dream.  Maybe I should wear these boots on my next stroll through Central Park?


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

My Favorite Things – Holiday Baking

(At least, I think I still like doing it…)

Growing up in my family, the holidays just weren’t the holidays without our having at least 13 batches of home-baked cookies on hand.  In addition to helping bake the cookies, my “job” was often to arrange the cookie plate with cookies selected from each of the 13 tins.  I still like to bake, but these days my holiday baking is more for giving away to friends and family.  Why?  Because I now prefer the taste of almond flour to white flour, and I also try to avoid eating sugar if I can.

Therefore, this year I’ve decided I will try and “make-over” a few holiday cookie recipes so that my husband and I can enjoy the spirit of the season without feeling like beached whales by the end of it.   In addition to my standard must-have-in-the-house/freezer-at-all-times Chocolate Oat Almond Flour Cookies with Crystallized Ginger (pictured in the middle, below), I’ve now made Almond Macaroons (top of plate, below) and Coconut Macaroons (bottom of plate, below.)

The Almond Macaroons are flour-free, while the Coconut Macaroons have only 1/3 cup of flour.  I will experiment reducing the sugar in my next batch of Almond Macaroons because the cookies are quite sweet.  In case you’re interested, here are the recipes (from The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden):

♥Almond Macaroons♥

(Makes 12 to 24 depending on the size)


1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, toasted*

3/4 cup granulated sugar 

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat mat.  Reserve 24 almonds for decorating.  In a food processor grind the rest of the almonds with the sugar.

With the machine running, slowly pour in enough of the egg whites to form a soft dough.  Add the almond extract and pulse to mix.

With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-size balls and arrange on the baking sheet.

Press one of the reserve almonds onto each ball, flattening the cookie slightly, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden and feel slightly firm.  Cool on a wire rack.

(*Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.)


♦Coconut Macaroons♦

(Makes 24)


1/3 cup all-purpose flour

pinch salt

2 1/2 cups dried (unsweetened) coconut

2/3 cup condensed milk (I use condensed coconut milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 package bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or a Silpat mat.

Sit the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Stir in the dried coconut.

Pour in the sweetened condensed milk (or condensed coconut milk).  Add the vanilla extract and stir together from the center.  Continue stirring until a very thick batter is formed.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  When melted, dip the bottoms of the cooled cookies into the chocolate and place the cookies on their side to allow the chocolate to set.


P.S.  All three cookie recipes above keep very nicely in the freezer.  That way, you’re also less likely to over indulge, too!


Filed under Cartoon Illustration, funny art, Funny Illustrations, My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – Making Variety the Spice of Life


Seven years ago when I left my job at the Milwaukee Symphony to follow my husband in his new job in New York City, I was full of anxiety.  Foremost in my thoughts was of course…

How will I make a living? 

And that thought was quickly followed by this one…

If I go back to musical freelancing after having played as a member of an orchestra for 10 years, I’ll feel like a failure.

Fortunately, life intervened.  Freelancing became the ONLY option, and I quickly learned that it was not only the best way for me to pay my share of the rent, but also exactly what I needed to be doing in order to feel challenged, stimulated AND happy!  Go figure. 

So while I’m not writing this post to suggest that you all take up the viola and move to New York City to join the musical freelance scene, I do want to suggest the following:

  • Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone.  You might find that the areas outside your comfort zone provide new perspective and tremendous opportunities for growth.
  • Pursue your outside interests.  Illustration and music might not seem like they have much in common, but my two passions feed each other and help to give me needed perspective when the going gets tough.
  • Volunteer your time.  There is nothing that will make you feel more worthwhile, plus you might discover even more interests in the process!  In the past four years, I have volunteered on 38 New York Cares projects around the city.  Those 74 hours have put me in contact with other dedicated volunteers and expanded my horizons.  Through volunteering, I’ve gotten to know many more neighborhoods in the city, and the interactions with the people I’ve helped have made the city seem like a lovely small town.

How about you?  What fears will you face today?


Filed under Cartoon Illustration, Do What You Love, funny art, Funny Illustrations, Humorous Illustration, I Love What I Do, Joana Miranda Studio, motivation, My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – Embracing My Inner Earth Mother

When it comes global warming, I wish we could get past the arguments over whether or not it’s man-generated and instead focus on ways to care for our planet.  I certainly haven’t been an earth-mother, granola type in the past, but with the string of warm winters and this unusually warm fall (which I’ve been told is NOT related to global warming per se…whatever!), I’ve begun focusing on my own little carbon footprint and how I can minimize it.

Here’s what I’m doing these days:

  1. We have a nice collection of tote bags (in fact, I even designed a few of them – take a look here) and I take the bags with me whenever I do the food shopping so that we save on paper.
  2. I compost all of our non-dairy, non-meat food scraps.  Since we live in an apartment, I keep the scraps in a bag in the freezer until I can take them to the farmer’s market composting bins.  Not only am I doing something good for the earth, but our regular garbage is a lot less smelly.
  3. I turn off the water when I’m soaping up and shaving in the shower (no earth-mother hairy legs for me, thank you very much!) I figure I save quite a few gallons of water, plus it’s nice to enjoy the sensation of being covered in soap lather.
  4. We recycle our paper, plastic and metal.  In our building, it couldn’t be easier.  We just have to walk down the hall to the compost room and put the items in the appropriate bins.  Amazingly, there are people in our building who put old clothing into the paper bin, and dead flowers into the metal/plastic bin.  I’d love to recycle those neighbors, too, but usually I take the time to resort the items into the appropriate bins.  Someone has to do it, and the maintenance men sure deserve a break every once in a while!
  5. Being New Yorkers, we take public transportation all the time.  I love walking, so when I’m away from New York, if I can walk somewhere instead of driving, I’ll opt for that option.  It’s better for the environment, it’s healthier and some of my best ideas come to me when I’m outdoors walking!

How about you?  Do you have any green, earth-friendly tips in your routine to share?  I’d love to hear!


Filed under Cartoon Illustration, funny art, Funny Illustrations, Humorous Illustration, My Favorite Things