08 March 2023

2023 February Roundup

I'm sitting in my garden floor studio, dressed for my lunchtime workout, with the space heater going because I finally got cold. It's surprisingly bright outside, so I have my curtains closed, even though I'd like to look out and see if it starts to snow. Last night's weather forecast predicted snow by this evening ☃️ I hope that prediction comes true!

February went really well for Studio Mikarts. Progress in all areas, no major hiccups, just smooth sailing~ I have lots of cool updates to share and news about upcoming plans, so let's begin!

Patreon Rewards

February was the first time I've printed Patreon rewards in-house. I used the same type of paper that I already use for full-size prints, Red River Paper's Aurora Art Natural, and the same archival printer, my Epson Expression Photo. The reward pictured here is my Winter Gryphon illustration. As you can see, printing went well, so I'll continue printing all rewards in-house for the foreseeable future. Sign up to get monthly Patreon rewards from Studio Mikarts here! You can choose from a single postcard, a pack of three postcards, a full-size print, or a print and three postcards 😄


My Spring Gryphon was featured as a Daily Deviation!

I have some exciting news to share about deviantART! After nearly 20 years using the site, I finally made something that earned a Daily Deviation! 🎊😄🎉✨ For anyone who doesn't know what a Daily Deviation (DD for short) is, it's the prominent featuring of a user's submission by a deviantART official. I've always wanted to be chosen, but I never caught anyone's eye until now. Is it a coincidence that the selected piece was made during my first year after graduating from art school? Maybe, maybe not!

Gryphia Progress

I've continued working through my previous notes to prepare for planning chapter eight and beyond. It's taking a surprising amount of time; I have a lot of notes! But I think it's time well-spent, since I've rediscovered old ideas that fit wonderfully, and remembered previous elements that I don't want to forget to address before the story ends. Progress slowed as the month wore on, because I began using my writing time to prepare for my trip to Japan (in less than a week!) but small steps still move one forward, so that's all that matters 😊

Art Livestreaming

I had an excellent month of livestreaming, as usual! I've continued my January schedule, with Inktober52 on Monday, Wednesday Lucky Dips, and Chibi Fridays. I created so much work on stream in February it was hard to decide which piece to feature here, so I just chose the final piece I made. It's a sparrow + shiba inu gryphon, in response to the Inktober52 prompt: pup 🐶 Click here to check out my livestreaming schedule and, while you're there, don't forget follow me to get notifications whenever I go live! 

Charity Fundraising

My featured charity in February was The Rat Retreat, an Idaho-based organization that provides good homes to rats and educates the public about these sweet, intelligent, misunderstood beings. My monthly donation is always decided by the number of unique viewers on Twitch; I donate $0.10 USD per viewer, with a minimum of $10 and a max of $100. Nine viewers in February equals a $10 donation!

Since I'll be on vacation (sailing around Japan!) for four weeks starting mid-March, my next featured charity shall use both March and April's streaming stats. Since March is Women's History Month in my country, I chose RedRover as my next featured charity, because one of the things they do is help people who are escaping abusive homes bring their pets with them. Women are disproportionately victims of domestic abuse and too few shelters accept pets, who are often victims themselves, so I hope my donation at the end of April will help both women and their beloved pets!

Mika's Monthly...

Here are my recommendations in a variety of categories for things that made my February healthy, fun, and awesome! As always, I am not being compensated in any way, I just legitimately love these things and hope you'll give them a try, too 😄

...Workout 💃 After recovering from a triceps injury I sustained at the beginning of the year (like, literally on January 1st 😅) in February I was finally able to resume playing Zumba: Burn it Up! on my Nintendo Switch! This game is super fun, I love the music selection, and there's not a huge emphasis on getting the dance moves exactly right. The game part just seems to care whether you're moving to the beat, so it's really easy to get into the game even if you have no dance experience! I decided to add dancing to my workout routine after watching a documentary that suggested exercise that also engages your brain in learning is overall more effective. Whether that's true or not, dancing is fun, so Zumba is remaining a staple in my routine!

...Vegan Victuals 💝 For Valentine's Day, my husband got me a box of No Whey! Truffles 😍 This brand is awesome because not only are their chocolates absolutely scrumptious, they're vegan! I am happy any time there's an excuse to eat their tasty treats!

...Book 📕 The one book I finished in February was Andy Serkis' audiobook reading of The Fellowship of the Ring, but even if I had finished some of the other books I'm currently reading, this still would have been my top recommendation for the month. As I state in my StoryGraph review, Andy Serkis doesn't just read the book, he gives a performance!

...Show 📺 I started rewatching one of my favorite anime of all time last month: Natsume Yuujinchou. It's generally a monster-of-the-week style show featuring a boy in high school who can see youkai (a kind of Japanese spirits/monsters). His ability causes him all kinds of trouble, worst of all social isolation and difficulty finding a place to safely be, both socially and physically. It's usually a bittersweet show (almost every episode makes me cry, no matter how many times I watch it!) but it also has some very dark and creepy moments, plus a healthy dose of cuteness and humor. Although the show doesn't directly address these topics, it nevertheless makes me think deeply about relationships, mental health, and how difficult it is for everyone to navigate the world, whatever their circumstances.

...Game 🎮 A Little to the Left is a game I instantly wanted ever since I saw it in a Nintendo Direct last year. Happily, one of my friends gave me a Nintendo gift card for Christmas, so of course I bought this gem immediately! It's a super chill and cozy puzzle and organization game. Many puzzles have multiple correct solutions and there's a Daily Tidy challenge, so even though the main game (which has a surprisingly touching ending!) doesn't take long to get through, the replay value is still rather high 😊 I've been playing every day to unlock all the Daily Tidy badges!

...Music 🎧 I discovered something amazing in February: several of my favorite video games have soundtracks and other albums available on Spotify! This inspired me to create a new playlist called Mika's Instrumental Game Favorites 🎻 and I've been listening to it virtually every day since. It's got a lot of calm, peaceful tracks from Okami and Ace Attorney but also some more peppy, rocking tracks from Sonic Adventure. Either way it makes for nice background music for all kinds of activities throughout the day (I've been listening especially at shower time!).

So that's it for February's roundup! In the week since I started writing, it's snowed multiple times and it looks like it's trying to come down again as I type 😄🌨️ There are only a few days left before I depart for Japan 🎌 Half of March will be taken up by this adventure, and I intend to make lots of plein air drawings and paintings while I'm there! I think that will make next month's roundup quite different and interesting. Please look forward to it! Until then, may you be safe, happy, and well ❤️

Chappie and Aoife enjoying the snow~!

10 February 2023

2023 January Roundup

I can't believe January passed so quickly! And we're already entering the second week of February! It even seems like spring is stepping in early. It's getting much warmer during the day, lots of (dratted) sunshine between rainy spells (all of which seem to happen when I'm not available to enjoy them!), and no fresh snow for weeks. I'm not sure I'm ready for winter to be over. I would have liked more snow! But next month I'll be at sea for a couple weeks, cruising around Japan, so warmer weather would be welcome then 😊

This will be my second month composing a roundup post using my new guidelines (one image and paragraph per section, condensing my recommendations into a short bullet list, etc.). I received positive feedback on last month's entry, so I hope you will enjoy this one, too!

Patreon Rewards

Chibi Tanuki rewards were mailed in January! These were the final rewards to be printed by a third-party print shop. The costs were spiraling out of control, so I decided to start printing in-house! I have recently settled on and ordered the paper, Red River Paper's Aurora Art Natural 300, which is the thicker version of the paper I already use for my giclée print reproductions. I'll also be using the same archival inks, as well, which means both my postcard and print rewards will be museum-quality reproductions! Please sign up here to become a patron and support my work 🥰

deviantART: Spring Gryphon

I'm still playing catch-up with deviantART, so I've uploaded several older pieces recently, all from 2022. It's exciting because this is the closest to caught-up I've been since I resumed posting there! The image I'd like to feature this time is my Spring Gryphon, which was completed last summer (I tried for spring but took too long 😅) as a seasonal greeting card. It's the first of four images I'm making that represent the seasons with a plant and a naturalistically appropriate gryphon. For spring I chose sakura, and the gryphon is a combination of a mejiro bird and momonga flying squirrel 🌸 You can purchase print-on-demand products featuring this Spring Gryphon on my Fine Art America shop.

Gryphia Progress

Progress on my first draft continues at an even keel. I finished up chapter seven and started brainstorming for chapter eight (and beyond) in January. Since I'm now close to entering the final stages of the story, I decided to reread all my notes up until now, to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything that I wanted to include, and to create new ideas by combining my old thoughts with what has actually been written, which is often quite different! It's an exciting stage!

Art Livestreaming

My Twitch streams have gone great so far this year, including the addition of a Monday stream during which I tackle the Inktober52 weekly prompt. One of my favorite projects in January was a chibi caricature of my pet pigeon, Sora. She's already cute enough in real life, but I think I managed to make her even cuter in chibi form 🥰 Click here to check out my livestreaming schedule, sign up for go-live notifications, and join me for a chat while I work!

Charity Fundraising

My charity for January was Veganuary, an organization which helps people try a compassionate, vegan lifestyle by running a challenge every January. They send out recipes, transition tips, data about the positive impact veganism has, and plain ol' encouragement, every day of the challenge. It's a very fun and inspiring event!

In January, I had 13 unique viewers during my Twitch streams, which translates into a $10 donation to Veganuary! Happily, it turned out that there was a 2x donation match in place, so this donation was essentially doubled to $20!

Usually this is all I have to say about charity donations in a month, but there was another exciting moment in January! The Twitch fundraising goal I had going for The Protego Foundation was completely met by a single viewer, SarahQuilt (my best friend for over two decades ❤️), so even more funds are going toward helping animals! Thank you, Sarah~!!!

For February, I have chosen The Rat Retreat as my featured charity. They help find good homes for and educate the public about these misunderstood, oft-ill-treated, but lovable beings. I have a special place in my heart for rats; in my 20s, I cared for three sisters, whom I adopted from my local shelter, for their entire lives. Minerva, Bathilda, and Nymphadora~ They were so sweet and fun and smart ❤️ I'm looking forward to making a donation that will help more rats have long, healthy, happy lives!

Mika's Monthly...

Here are my monthly recommendations! I hope you'll give some of them a try 😊 As usual, I am not being compensated for these promotions, they're all things I legit want to share because I love them!

...Workout 🧘‍♀️ Yoga Master is the fitness game I use the most. Every workday morning, I wake up and stretch out with one of my custom programs. The nice thing about the game is that you don't have to actually play it like a game. For me that made it stressful, rather than relaxing, so I turned off the scoring system and began using it more like a video yoga program, but one I can always customize to my liking!

...Vegan Victuals 🍽️ Nuggs are one of the very first vegan chicken nugget alternatives I ever ate. They are SO GOOD. My favorite is the spicy version, dipped in homemade vegan ranch 🤤 OMG I am seriously salivating now, just thinking about their crispy breading and tender insides~ They are pictured below alongside Wholly Veggie Mozzarella Style Sticks, which are also incredibly delicious!

...Book 📖 Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice by Colum McCann was the first book I finished reading this year. It was my writing-time companion for several months, and although it didn't always quite reach me, it still said the right things so often that I'm keeping it in my writing-time rotation (I usually warm up for writing by reading about writing!). You can read my brief review here.

...Show 📺 In January I rewatched all of the My Hero Academia movies. I found the first one just as awesome as I remembered, the second one both awesome and silly (a little overwrought, lol), but the third one struck me so much more powerfully! I had seen it a couple times before, but until now, I always felt it was on even footing with its siblings. This time, World Heroes' Mission took an indisputable first place (see what I did there? No? Bakugo quote 😉) in my personal ranking. My experience with anime movies generally has been so mixed; too often they just get worse the more that are made; not so with My Hero Academia 💖 (Also, I am again obsessed with Rody Soul 😍)

...Game 🎮 I made it my goal for 2023 to spend at least one hour every day playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and I don't regret it one bit! It's the type of game you can play for a just short while, or easily sink several hours into without getting bored, which makes it both a good workday stress-buster and weekend chillout. By playing every day this year, I hope to enjoy all the seasonal events, collect all the items (like art for the museum!), and finally feel like I did all the things 😊✨ This goal is helping very much with growing my self-compassion and stabilizing my mental health. I have historically been a perfectionist and workaholic. Making it a goal to play video games every day challenges my inner critic, who tries to tell me I'm just being lazy, and gives me time to recharge properly so that I can go to work the next day feeling my best!

...Music 🎧 I've been following Wagakki Band since their first album in 2014, which was comprised of Vocaloid covers using a combination of traditional Japanese instruments (wagakki) and those you'd find in a typical rock band. It was the perfect mashup for me, since I loved that sound ever since Naruto (and its background music) first came out 😍 They're one of the few bands from whom I actually buy all the main albums, and I finally opened my copy their most recent release in January, which is excitingly their second Vocaloid cover album! It's streaming on Spotify so you may not have to go so far as to import the physical album to enjoy these fresh tracks~

Other News: Focus Retreat Center Story

The news story for which I was interviewed back in October, during the Inktober retreat in Malone, New York has been released at last, and some of my interview made the cut! Half of my bit is just me being cheeky, but you can also hear my excitement about how the retreat helped me complete all 31 drawings for Inktober for the first time ever! Click here to listen to the story online. It's the entire news program, so to get to the segment about the Focus Retreat Center, skip forward to 19:29 (min:sec) or if you just want to get to my soundbite, skip to 23:02 😎

That's all I have for you this month. 2023 has gotten off to a great start for me, and I hope it is the same for you! Even if not, I hope the year continues to get better and better for all of us~ I'll be back next month with February's roundup. Until then, may you be happy, healthy, and safe ❤️

13 January 2023

2022 December Roundup

It's a fabulously cloudy morning as I begin typing this. My favorite kind of weather (if it's not going to properly rain, snow, or storm!) ☁️ I'm listening to the Disney Goes Classical album that Spotify recommended to me; it starts out with the overture from Mary Poppins, so I've got goosebumps all over, ha ha.

I'm trying something different in 2023 with these roundup posts. (Happy New Year, by the way! 🎆) They've been taking far too long to compose, so I'm limiting how much I write and how many photos I post for each topic. I hope that not only will this allow me to share the same ideas in less time (time that could be spent creating new stories in word and image!) but that you, my readers, will enjoy the faster clip, as well. That said, let's try it out!

Patreon Rewards

I sent the rest of the six Inktober rewards in December 😄 You can read more about it on Patreon. And if you'd like to get my illustrations in your mailbox, you can sign up there, too! You can choose between a monthly postcard, a set of three postcards, a print, or a print AND three postcards. Patrons don't just get rewards, they are directly funding my storytelling work! They are truly members of Studio Mikarts and my most precious audience 🥰


Click here to view and comment on deviantART.

I'm only a year behind on posting to dA now! 😂 I've uploaded several pieces from 2022 recently, but this is my proudest, my birthday gryphon illustration. I'm still sending this one out as a birthday card to friends and family through the first half of this year. I plan to create a new birthday card illustration at around the same time of year as this one was done. Then my people will all receive the new design on their special days 😊 You can buy this as a greeting card, print, or dozens of other things on Fine Art America. Birthday shower curtain, anyone?

Gryphia Progress

It may not seem like much, but I'm actually quite proud of the two days' writing work I managed to squeeze in during December's holiday and birthday madness (I have six birthdays to celebrate! 🥳). To be honest, I was really struggling mentally with everything I had to do. So being able to sit down, two mornings in a row, and make good progress on chapter seven was a huge win! I don't have any major interruptions to my regular schedule until March, so I'm looking forward to finishing up this roundup post and getting back to writing my novel!

Art Livestreaming

This is another area where I was proud of myself for keeping up with it during the end-of-year madness. It would have only been too easy to just give up and take the whole month off. That is to say, it would have been easy if livestreaming was still as disheartening as it was a few months ago. Things had changed by the beginning of December. I have been honored for months now by a dedicated viewer (hello, Exie~!!) who I look forward to chatting with every stream, and I was shocked to be notified that I qualified for Twitch Affiliate status, as well!

Being offered affiliate was not only a boost to my confidence--an affirmation that I've been doing the right things in my off-beat way--but I had two folks subscribe to my channel on my very first affiliate stream 🥰💕 I'm so glad I stuck to it when things were looking so bleak mid-year; now I'm looking forward to growing my channel and sharing my art with more people!

Charity Fundraising

My featured charity in December was The Protego Foundation. I had only recently learned of their work using the power of the Harry Potter fandom to encourage positive change for animals through veganism (from the Harry Potter Vegan Cookbook! which I reviewed in November) and because Harry Potter always comes to my mind during the holiday season, it seemed like a great fit.

My fundraising challenge uses the number of unique viewers per month to determine how much I will donate. I give $0.10 USD per viewer, with a minimum of $10 and a max of $100. I had 15 unique viewers in December, so I made a $10 donation to The Protego Foundation!

Mika's Monthly...

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'm trying something new in my presentation of these roundups. I considered cutting this section altogether, but I like giving these recommendations, not only as a way to share what's been going on in my life, but because I think they could inspire and enrich, even lengthen, the creative lives of anyone who decides to try them. One's creative life is not separate from everything else one does, after all! But I want this blog to focus on my creative endeavors, and until now, these recommendations were taking half the time and space--a bit too much. I hope this new presentation will work better all around 😊 

As always, I'm not in any way being compensated for these promotions, they're just honest recommendations from me ❤️

...Workout 🏃‍♀️ I finished the YMCA Christmas Run again this year. Running is such an easy sport to get into, and it's a full-body workout, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. There's nothing so fun as running a themed race with a few hundred (or thousand!) other people!

...Vegan Victuals 🌮 Try the "Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch" recipe from the Vegan Fast Food cookbook (which I happily received for Christmas). So good my mouth is watering just remembering these amazing tacos 🤤 

Mmm...soft crunchy vegan tacos...

...Book 🐲 The Hobbit audiobook as read by Andy Serkis. This is my favorite book of all time to start, then adding Andy Serkis's excellent narration, let's just say I started his reading of The Fellowship of the Ring immediately after! You can read my full review (which is relatively short) here on The StoryGraph.

...Show 🤶 The Santa Clauses on Disney+ was pleasantly surprising! I grew up watching The Santa Clause, and I still watch it every year, but I have a well-founded distrust of sequels made decades later. This show therefore exceeded my expectations, didn't disappoint in the least; it was hilarious, wacky, and magical. I'll definitely be watching it again next holiday season!

...Game 🤓 My husband had kickstarted this game and received it in October, but it wasn't until December that we finally played it. Um, Actually... The Game of Nerdy Corrections is a hilarious game that we played with my siblings during the holidays and it was enthusiastically requested multiple times. It's a great party game--pure fun, no stress--that I think anyone will enjoy!

...Music 🎄 It's out of season now, but all month I listened almost exclusively to my new Christmas favorites playlist on Spotify. It's full of the Christmas albums and soundtracks that I absolutely love. I recommend listening straight through (not on shuffle) because one album is a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Other News: 2023 Goals

Finally, I'd like to share with you the goals I set for myself on January 1st this year (using my Jibun Techo planner, which is new to and absolutely perfect for me~) both as a topic of interest and as a form of accountability! I will check in at the end of the year and report on how things went 😊

  • Career 🎨 I will create 12 new, large, full-color illustrations.
  • Education 💮 I will sit and pass the JLPT N2 exam.
  • Finances 💸 I will make, rather than buy, birthday & holiday gifts.
  • Health 💤 I will go to bed on time on work nights.
  • Hobbies 🎮 I will play Animal Crossing every day.
  • Travel 🛳️ I will cruise around Japan with my husband.
  • Family 👩‍🍳 I will host seasonal family dinners.
  • Relationships 💌 I will send a card or letter every week.
  • Reading 📚 I will read & review at least 26 books.

And that's it for December's roundup! It only took me half the time it usually does, so I'm rather looking forward to checking in again next month, and sharing all the progress I'll be making in my creative career journey. Thank you for reading! 🥰

22 December 2022

2022 November Roundup

I've got my curtains half open, so I can see if it starts to snow, while still preventing the morning sun from blinding me when it peeks out through a crack in the clouds. This is the second day in a row the weather forecast said it would snow in the morning, but instead I sit here disappointed, looking at the pale blue sky behind the icy grey clouds 😑 Come, Mother Nature, let it snow! 😆

Still, it's pretty cozy in my studio this morning. I've got a mug of lemon tea at my elbow, my two dogs sleeping peacefully in their beds, and a playlist of my favorite Christmas music filling the air. My tootsies are cold, but I've got a fluffy robe keeping the rest of me nice and warm~ With all the holiday busyness ever since Thanksgiving, I haven't been able to sit down and work on this roundup post until now, the third week of December. To make sure I can actually get it done in a timely manner, this will be a condensed roundup, a few sections removed, and others combined. If I can finish writing this today, that would be ideal~ Let's get started!

Patreon Rewards

In November, seven different Patreon rewards were ordered all at once! It was the first time I've created so many different designs at one time. Included were the six Inktober drawings that Studio Mikarts members voted for, plus the chibi tanuki illustration that was finished at the beginning of the month.

All seven Patreon rewards: six Inktober plus one chibi tanuki.

Two of these seven rewards were sent out in November. I wanted to space them out weekly so that everyone would get a nice, steady stream of happiness in their mailboxes, instead of one big art dump 😅 Plus it saved my hand, since I am still handwriting my messages of greeting and gratitude.

Inktober reward #1: Flame

After these seven rewards have all gone out, I am going to begin printing all rewards in-house and handwriting only the first message, which will then be replicated on or with all the rewards. This saves me a lot of money in production costs (while still delivering museum-quality art reproductions 😎) as well as time and physical strain.

It was a big concern as I thought of the future and the growth of Studio Mikarts. I put it to the vote on Patreon, and was so relieved that all of my patrons voted for the printed message option. So kind and considerate, I have the best patrons 🥰 And their comments about still loving the heartfelt nature of the handwritten message is what led to my hybrid solution of handwriting once and replicating, rather than simply typing the message.

Inktober reward #2: Bouquet

So what's next? I have two illustrations in the works. My main project is my winter gryphon, which in November I got halfway through the final sketch. The snowy evergreen environment is all worked out, I just need to add the gryphon itself now.

The full-size sketch for my winter gryphon illustration.

The other illustration I'm working on is my chibi orca. More about that in the Livestreaming section below 😉 To sign up and become a Studio Mikarts member on Patreon, click here! You can choose from five tiers, receiving postcards, prints, both, or neither (the latter is actually the most supportive option ❤️) and all members get access to exclusive updates and limited time rewards. I'm looking forward to seeing you there~!

Gryphia Progress

Just a small update here. I'm proud to say I've continued working on my novel, but it's been very slow going, so there's not much to report. Still, something is better than nothing and in November I exceeded 3,000 words written for chapter six!


An interesting thing happened as I was preparing material for this section of my post: I noticed that deviantART got rid of their physical prints shop 😲 Fortunately, I already have an alternate on-demand prints account through Fine Art America but it was still a disappointing surprise. dA is turning heavily toward digital offerings, including subscriptions much like Patreon and even A.I. generated artwork (hotly contested by the community there; I'm still not sure how I feel about it...), which unfortunately makes it far less in line with my creative journey than ever before.

Still, after some consideration, I decided to continue using the site. For one, it remains an online repository of my artwork, including all my major work going back to my high school days! For two, they still have the commissions feature, which allows me to offer chibi caricature commissions online. It's a nice feature! There are some other fun things that make the site worth using too, like silly badges and cool profile customization, so although I'm still disappointed that they're pushing so hard toward digital stuff, I feel fairly at peace with the recent changes 😅

Click here to view and add to your collections on deviantART!

Anyway, this is the piece I am featuring today: my Nyan Meow Mice. I recently uploaded the rest of my 2021 artwork, which is to say, all the work from my capstone illustration project 😄 I'm really proud of this project and I intend to expand upon it next year. I love all the pieces I created so far, but the mice one just feels extra good for some reason, which is why I chose it for this post. If you'd like to see all six illustrations and the endpaper and cover designs, click here to visit my gallery on deviantART!

Art Excursions: Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve

It's gotten really cold here since late October, so this excursion was a bit tough! In November, I went with my sister, who is also a professional creative, to Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, a hidden gem right in my backyard. It's a small nature reserve with unpaved trails and excellent viewpoints where you can relax in the stillness, or be enchanted by the cacophony of bird voices, all while gazing at the wildlife (I've seen countless bird species, bats, deer, and even stray domestic rabbits here!) and taking in the scenic wetland environment.

As I mentioned, it was very cold that day, but gloves weren't an option for me while sketching, since I needed precision for my chosen media: watercolor! The golden rays of the sun camouflage how red my frozen hands are in these photos 😅

I used nothing but watercolor for my sketches, no pencil or pen. It's an exercise I really enjoy, because it forces me to be creative with my brush strokes. How can I depict this, knowing the colors will blend when they touch? Knowing this brushstroke might dry before I can get the color ready for the next one? How can I make this shape recognizable in the least amount of time and strokes? These are the types of questions I'm answering when I sketch with watercolor. And the answers show up later in my more detailed and complete watercolor illustrations 😁


I had a great time with my viewers on Twitch in November; I am so grateful to my regular chatters who make each art stream such a pleasure! Here are the results of my Lucky Dip and Chibi Friday streams:

Lucky Dip XIX
Chibi Friday 35: Tanuki Part 7 (final)
Lucky Dip XX
 Chibi Friday 36: Orca Part 1
Lucky Dip XXI
Chibi Friday 37: Orca Part 2
Lucky Dip XXII

For Lucky Dips, which are on Wednesdays, I randomly choose four art tools and then make an image with them. For the past few months, I've been working through a manga pose reference book so that I don't have to worry about what to draw, just how to draw it using the tools I have. Plus, I think my manga/anime-style drawing is getting better thanks to this!

For Chibi Fridays, starting in August this year, I have been asking my patrons to vote on which animal they'd like me to draw as a chibi. Then I generate two random words and use them to construct a scene with the animal at its center. I keep working on that illustration for as many Chibi Friday livestreams as it takes to complete it. Here's the recording of the last one from November:

Be sure to follow me on Twitch to be notified every time I go live! Let's chat soon~!

Charity Fundraising

In November, I chose Farm Sanctuary as my charity of the month. They do amazing work helping end the suffering of farm animals, both for individuals and for the billions trapped in the misery of the farming industry. They run a turkey adoption program around Thanksgiving, which is how I found them last year. Thanksgiving is often referred to as Turkey Day. For me, that now has a different and more positive meaning, as I enjoy symbolically adopting a turkey from them, rather than killing and eating one 🦃🤎

I had 19 unique viewers on Twitch in November. I donate $0.10 per viewer to my selected charity, with a minimum of $10 and and max of $100, which means a $10 donation to help take care of the animals at Farm Sanctuary this time 🥰

December's charity is The Protego Foundation! They use the Harry Potter fandom as a base for building a kinder world through veganism and other animal activism. I hope you'll join me on Twitch this week for my final December stream and have fun hanging out while helping improve the lives of magical (that is to say, all!) animals 💖

Monthly Recommendations

This will be a condensed version of the funnest part of my monthly roundups. I hope you'll enjoy reading about these recommendations and perhaps giving them a try yourself! (As usual, I am not being paid to advertise these things; they're just positive elements of my November that I am excited to share with you~)

🍽️ Vegan Victuals & Book of the Month 📕
The Unofficial Harry Potter Vegan Cookbook by Imana Grashuis & Tylor Starr

My review from The StoryGraph says it all, so I will let it do the talking, spiced up with some photos of my cooking!

adventurous funny hopeful informative inspiring fast-paced

5.0 ⭐

Absolutely five-star cookbook! For TL;DR: the recipes are delicious, the book beautiful, and the information about veganism and vegan cooking both helpful and inspiring!

If you're a Harry Potter fan, get this cookbook! It doesn't matter if you're not vegan, forget about the stereotypes, this food is indulgent and beautiful and absolutely satisfying. The good you'll be doing for animals, the environment, and your own health can just be considered bonuses! It's easy to forget, but the book itself is a beautiful showpiece as well, with a silky, embossed cover; patterned endpapers; well-organized, easy-to-read text; and full-page, color photographs included with every recipe.

Before I describe my experience with the half-dozen recipes I've already tried, here are some highlights from the other sections of the book:
  • Enthralling foreword by Evanna Lynch. If you're already vegan, your passion for the cause will be set ablaze ❤️‍🔥 For those who are veg-curious, you may be moved to finally take the next step!
  • Listing the reasons to go vegan and tying them to the Wizarding World we all know and love~
  • Vegan alternatives section that can help veganize any recipe or allow you to throw together a quick vegan meal without instructions.
  • Fun and helpful Kitchen Witch Tips. A bit too new age witch (spiritual/religious) and not enough fantasy witch (my view of the Wizarding World) for me, so I came up with my own versions because I did like the core ideas being presented (such as clean the kitchen before cooking, get as much light into the kitchen as possible when working, be mindful and grateful as you cook, etc.).
  • The appendix section that lists all recipes, including by which Harry Potter book they're from (such a good idea!), and the metric conversion page (I grew up with Imperial but I prefer metric for its precision!).
I made several recipes from this book for Thanksgiving this year and I was able to provide my family with a complete and magical vegan feast! In fact, I had to make some recipes the weekend after the holiday because I chose way more things than I could make 😅 Here's what I made and how it was:
  • Rabbit Food Grazing Board: So delicious, so filling, perfect for a big gathering or party! The grilled olives were an awesome, unusual addition that I loved, and it was treat to have pomegranate seeds for the first time since childhood (they went well with everything), but the star was the tzatziki sauce. I will make this sauce any time I want tzatziki from now on!
  • Dragon Roasted Nuts: These were a big hit with my entire family, one of the things people called out as particularly delicious. The best thing is, they have a flavor that is both seductively familiar and yet wholly unique. It's hard to stop eating them because you just want more and more of that enchanting taste!
  • Fang's Boarhound Treats: I made these as my pups' Thanksgiving treat and they LOVED them. Absolutely no hesitation or polite curiosity, just munch, munch, down the hatch! Being vegan, these treats are made with stuff humans wouldn't mind eating, like applesauce, peanut butter, and vegan yogurt. I might have to reserve one for myself next time...
  • Butterbeer Three Ways: For Thanksgiving, I chose to make the hot butterbeer and kept it warm in a small slow cooker. The only downside is the calculation necessary to quadruple the recipe, as it only serves two normally. This was another item that was particularly praised by everyone in my family!
  • Pumpkin Patch Brownies: SO INDULGENT. So rich and delicious~ To simplify the recipe, I replaced the cubed pumpkin, coconut oil, and gingerbread spices with canned pumpkin pie filling. It worked great (the pumpkin pie flavor sat evenly with the rich chocolate) and cut off at least a good half hour of cooking/prep work!
To make cooking easier for Christmas this year, we've ordered catering for the main meal, and I'm just going to make some desserts and drinks, several of them from this book, including the Apple Pie and Arthur's Eggnog 🤤 And there are so many holiday appropriate recipes still remaining, not just for the end-of-year holidays. How about Liquid Luck for New Year's? Amortentia for Valentine's Day? The Great Feast for Independence Day? Full Moon Cookies for Halloween? Not to mention Happee Birthdae Cake for all those special days! And there are plenty recipes more for whatever you're in the mood for, such as Cheery Owl Breakfast Donuts, Buckbeak's Stuffed Pumpkins, Coconut Snow Cones, Caramelized Devil's Snare, Ernie's Sandwich, Slithering Snake Ravioli, Polyjuice Potion, and Treacle Tart (Harry's favorite!).

I hope everyone will try this cookbook and enjoy all its magical offerings~!

🎧 Music of the Month 🎧
Mika's Celtic Christmas 🎄 on Spotify

Christmastime is my favorite time of year, so although you might think this more appropriate for December, I was already listening to my Celtic Christmas playlist the month before X3 I especially like to listen to it at the end of the day as I'm winding down for bed~

I recommend listening to this playlist on shuffle, though it's not a problem to listen straight through. I just added whole Christmas albums until I was satisfied, no rhyme or reason to the order other than the playlist's theme and my memory of artists that fit it 😅

Other News: Gratitude Postcard Project

In November, the month of Thanksgiving in my country, I have for years now tried to practice active gratitude through a daily project. Usually, I pick something I'm grateful for each day and consider it through a social media post, journal entry, sketch, etc. This year I thought to do something a bit different: sending gratitude postcards!

So many postcards to choose from🤩

I'm sure I was inspired by the fact that I send so many postcards all year round, not just to my patrons, but to friends and family as a way to stay in touch. Still, I find it interesting that only this year did I think of doing such a thing. Maybe it's because this was the first November in four years where I wasn't overburdened by end-of-semester projects and looming finals. Being a degree-holding college graduate is something I'm very grateful for 😆

First batch included the hand-painted postcard I made at the Grand Canyon!

So, for this project, I posted online everywhere I could think, inviting folks to send me their addresses if they would like a postcard. Considering that's very personal information, I was pleased to have sent out a total of twelve gratitude postcards throughout the month!

Second batch~

I'm not sure if I'll do this project again next year, but I think I'd like to. Perhaps more people will trust me with their addresses if it becomes a yearly event 🫡

Final and largest batch~!

And here we are, at the end of November's roundup. It's the day after I started writing and the clouds are thinner than ever, and it's even colder! I still have hope, though: the forecast says it will snow tonight! 🙏❄️🌨️ It also says it will rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas, but let's just ignore that for now...

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and perhaps got inspired to try something new 😀 This is my last blog entry for 2022, so I would like to wish you a very happy holiday season and a magical new year~! 🎉💖✨ As always, may you be safe, happy, and healthy!