Category Archives: 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

My Favorite Things – Closing In on the Finish Line for the 2018 Joana Miranda Studio Cartoon Calendar

I’m wrapping up work on the 2018 Joana Miranda Studio Cartoon Calendar and thought you’d enjoy another sneak peak…

Featuring 12 of my brand new, never before published cartoons, the calendar would be a lovely holiday gift for your friends or family.  (Heck, you might just want to reserve one for yourself, too!)

The calendar will be available for purchase in my shop at Etsy soon.  You, my loyal readers and fans, will get a head’s up here on my blog as soon as the calendar has launched.  In the meantime, feel free to check out the other fun and whimsical illustrations and cartoons I have currently available by clicking here.

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Filed under Art, Cartoon Illustration, funny art, Funny Illustrations, Humorous Illustration, Joana Miranda Studio, Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy, My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – The Cleaning Ladies of My Youth

Actually, there was only ONE I really remember.  Her name was Fernanda and she worked for my aunt in the little town of Algueirão outside Lisbon, Portugal.  While we played with her daughter (who was close in age to me and my sister), Fernanda cleaned…

And cooked.

(She was pretty tolerant of our antics, but when we crossed the line, she’d come after us with her slipper.)

But at the end of the day, there was always laughter and plenty of hugs!

(Illustrations © Joana Miranda)



Filed under Art, Cartoon Illustration, Drawing, funny art, Humorous Illustration, illustration, My Favorite Things, New work, practicing drawing, quick sketch

My Favorite Things – Snapshots from Goose Pond, New Hampshire

It’s hard to believe that our vacation is coming to a close.  We’ve had spectacular weather, oh-so-many delicious meals, and lots of opportunities to just rest and play.  In fact, I’ve been spending so much time doing all of the above that I  pretty much forgot to pull out my camera.  Sometimes really being in the moment is the best medicine!

And when I’m back in the grind of work in the city, I plan to pull out these photos and give myself permission to dream again…

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

My Favorite Things – Boating on the Hudson

(Which, by the way, happens  for us about once in a blue moon!)

But we lucked out last week with an invitation to  dinner, along with a boat ride on the Hudson.  Even better, the weather was sublime AND we even had a full moon.  So, from the middle of the Hudson somewhere near Tarrytown, NY, here’s what life looked like on Sunday…


Filed under My Favorite Things, nature, New York, photography, travel photography

My Favorite Things – The Early Fruits of Summer

I’ve had a hectic two weeks – including playing 14 Wicked shows and a trio concert in Vermont – so tonight I am relishing having a teeny breather before we head off to Saratoga, NY for more fun with New York City Ballet.  Escaping the heat and noise of the Big Apple is quite welcome at this time of year.  Speaking of fruit, my appetite was piqued on my short stay last weekend with my mom in her cottage in New Hampshire.

Here’s what’s flourishing in her garden right now…

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