July has been filled to the brim with many things – my 31 Days of Harry Potter illustration challenge, an impromptu getaway to the oceanside, doing food photography for my day job, finally getting my own little work desk, planning for upcoming trips, trudging through countless apartments in search of a new home, and overall, trying to stay afloat of it all.
Whew! It hasn’t been easy to find a pocket of stillness during this month, nor has it been particularly easy to come by a cool breeze … anyone else experiencing a heat wave in their neck of the woods?
But despite all the running-arounds and sweating-all-overs, it has been a real treat to find comfort in small, unexpected packages. Little tids and bits that feel like gentle hugs that I can nestle into for a short spell.
Here are the seemingly tiny things that brought me immense joys during depleting days this hot, hot summer month:
I love Harry Potter. But I don’t love that the books are finished. However, all of us Harry Potter fans still can’t stop talking about it, reliving scenes and dropping spells here and there, and that makes it all the better.
Even better than that is the Greek Critique Podcast, a new podcast that geeks out about Harry Potter, as well as other geeky properties like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Hunger Games. They discuss a specific theme in each episode, and really dive in deep with thought-provoking commentary, and I really feel like I am sitting at a coffee shop with hosts Brittany and Chris, talking about favorites of our imaginations. The podcast is so good, I even listen the to Airbender episodes, even though I’ve never watched the show!
This may come as a surprise to most people, but I’m not a big fan of fruits, except for bananas, persimmons, and fruit desserts (hello, pie!). But my goodness, I have been eating cherries like I’ve just been told they hold magic within them. (Bonus: I eat them like little apples, with the pit being like an apple core. Don’t judge.)
3. Seaside, OR
Ever since last year, I’ve been pining to go back to the Oregon coast with one goal in mind – to wade in the ocean, to feel the waves wrap around my calves, as the sand trickles between my toes. The time never came, so one hot summer day, I said, “To hell with it!”, booked a hotel room for one night, then trekked west to where it was … rainy.
Determination runs deep in my bones, though, so despite my fear of cold, I went for it. Once my feet got acclimated to the water temperature, I didn’t want to leave! There’s nothing more peaceful and enjoyable than wading in the ocean, and I’m so happy I got around to doing it this summer. This was also my first time in Seaside, which is like the other oceanside towns, but it’s got a little more going on. By that I mean – there’s an arcade!
4. IPad Pro
I have been wanting to learn how to draw digitally for a very long time now, but didn’t want to risk spending money on a digital drawing device, only to hate it. Well, with the iPad Pro, I figured I could hate digital art, but still be able to use it for other things. So I splurged on a refurbished iPad and Apple pencil, and you know what – I am in LOVE with digital art! There is still so much to learn, but I am having a lot of fun with it. This “Favorites” illustration was done on the iPad Pro with the Procreate app!
Ploopy Poopy is a talented illustrator that I’ve been following on Instagram for awhile now. Chelsea’s sweet and darling illustrations and gorgeous hand lettering always inspire me, and when I first saw this Not Paint Water cup, I knew I had to have it because it’s so hilarious! (Big hugs to the Art Stew Patreon for adding this treasure to my gift box!)
Any painter can relate, I’m sure! I always have to make it a point to put my drinking water cup far away from my paint water cup, but I still have to triple check that I am not drinking paint water or dunking my paintbrush in my drinking water. Painter problems, for real.
6. Wild Berries
Come summertime, wild berries begin popping up in the brambles and the thickets by the river near where I live. Never had I experienced wild berries before, so it’s such a treat to pick them and snack on them during a nice stroll. Okay okay, my boyfriend picks them and I eat them. I try to keep away from all the thorns and, most of all, the bugs!
My weekday workout routine consists of Blogilates pilates exercises, but lately, by the time Friday comes around, I’m ready to face plant onto my dinner or the floor, whichever comes first. To keep my spirits up, have a little fun, and celebrate the end of the work week, I started to do The Fitness Marshall cardio dance workouts on Fridays! This lean and lanky dancer cracks me up with his facial expressions and comments, and the videos overall are so much fun. Such a great way to let loose and forget about the things that are weighing you down.
Elephants has been one of my favorite Portland spots ever since I moved here. They have a variety of foods – lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, snacks, gifts, drinks, coffee, cheese, sandwiches, so many things! – that are more or less reliably good, and the staff is friendly.
Hands down, though, they can do soup like nobody’s business. Even though it’s been hot as hell lately, I still order their Carrot & Red Lentil Soup because it’s a seasonal item, and it’s their best soup ever. It’s chock full of carrots, red lentils, basmati rice, and spices, and here’s the kicker – it has cilantro in it, but I totally can’t taste it, which makes it delicious for me! (I absolutely abhor cilantro!)
9. My New Workstation!
A month ago, I wrote a blog post about using a Project Box if you don’t have a studio or dedicated work space. While my Project Box worked well, I just couldn’t say no when my boyfriend realized he didn’t use his computer desk anymore and offered to clear it out to give me a space to work! It is so incredible to have all my pens, brushes, and paints all within arm’s reach. Because of the desk, I’ve been able to draw a lot more. It also helps to leave current works-in-progress out in the open and jump on them whenever I have an extra minute or two.
The day after getting the desk space, my boyfriend commented that I look like I’ve been working there for a long time. Well, I’ve been dreaming of having a dedicated drawing space for so long, I’m pretty sure it all came naturally to me!
10. Purple Outlines
For a lot of my illustrations, I tend to ink outlines with a black Micron 005 pen. Last month, I decided to try using a purple Micron 005 to do outlines, and I am all about that purple outline now! It’s dark enough to be similar to black, but not so dark that it’s overpowering. It also has color, which adds something special to the illustrations. You can see last month’s favorites illustration, which is the second time I did purple outlines. The illustration above also has purple outlines, as well as this Geek Critique portrait here. What do you think? 🙂
11. Coconut Rice
I have always loved coconut rice, but I forgot about it until I made it again this month. It’s so simple, but it adds flavor and creaminess to plain rice! All you have to do is combine 1½ cups of rice in a rice cooker along with 1½ cups coconut milk and 1¼ cups of water, press the button, and in 20 minutes or so, you can have fluffy, lightly fragrant, unplain rice! (Recipe from Cook Smarts)