A week ago in my post Dress for Your Job at Home – Pandemic Tips, I talked about the importance of setting up structured time in this anything-but-normal period. I’m happy to say that my newly structured work week pretty much flew by. Keeping busy had the perk of leaving me less time to read the news. As a result, I felt less anxious about the things I can’t control (which is pretty much everything outside my door right now.) By Saturday night, I was proud of all that I had accomplished, but I’ll admit that I was pretty tired, too. So I decided to do something I usually never do…take Sunday completely off. The resulting creative burst is proof that rest and creativity really go hand in hand.

Rest and Creativity Joana Style…

On Sunday, after a leisurely breakfast of homemade waffles, I did a thorough clean of the house. For some people that would count as work; happily, for me, I actually enjoy cleaning. Then, as a reward, I poked around on Pinterest for haircut ideas. (With no prospect of a haircut anytime soon, I’m fantasizing about cutting off all my hair into a pixie cut). From there I was inspired to peruse DIY face mask tutorials. I did try out some simple no-sew versions, but discovered that the ear loop models don’t work on me. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) my ears are small so the loops don’t stay put around my ears. However, I did eventually stumble upon this interesting and well done Youtube tutorial:

The cute bike pattern was what initially caught my eye. I also really liked that the mask had side ties. So I dusted off my sewing machine and spent the rest of the afternoon making these two masks – one for me and the other for my sister.

DIY Face Mask with Ties and Filter Pocket

Handmade DIY face masks with side ties and filter pocket

(Filter Pocket View)

Handmade face masks showing filter pocket

In case you’re wondering, I used one of my husband’s old handkerchiefs for the front of the mask. The lining was taken from remnants of material I had from when I tried to make myself concert pants. Using grosgrain ribbon was my own (brilliant!) time-saving hack. Instead of having to stitch and hem fabric ties, I simply singed/sealed the edges of the grosgrain ribbon with a lighter before sewing them in place.

After a day off…

I did feel a bit rusty when I started illustrating again on Monday morning. But that feeling passed pretty quickly. By evening, I had filled these pages of my Moleskine sketch book:

Monday morning rest and creativity Moleskin notebook sketches by Joana Miranda

Today, the sketches flowed even more easily…

Maybe because I was seated on our balcony in the sunshine and fresh air.

 Rest and creativity - after a day off from illustrating, the creative juice started to flow again.
My work space on our patio table.  Working at home during the coronavirus pandemic requires keeping things fresh and fun!

Jumping for Joy Illustrations

A page filled with energetic characters - a good sign that rest and creativity go hand in hand!

In Case You’re Wondering…

These days I’m just letting my illustrations riff on whatever comes to mind. The teeny glimmers of hope offered from the slight decrease in the awful virus numbers in NY is reason enough in my (Moleskine) book to jump for joy!

Stay safe, stay apart and be well!


  1. Helen Reich says:

    What fun illustrations! I’m going with the shop towel no-sew mask for the moment. MSO Social Media Committee is keeping me pretty busy, these days. Also, figuring out everything that has to be sanitized after a trip to……just about anywhere. That’s the most stressful part, to me.I’m going to do a little baroque bow explainer video with a few short Bach suite excerpts. And, have you seen this https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=E8T7Y-E6E_w&list=RDAMVME8T7Y-E6E_w ? It’s been quite the hit, around here.

    • Joana says:

      Hi Helen dearie,

      I loved seeing the Nimrod video with so many of you peeps (my MSO peeps!) There are people I don’t recognize in the video, but a good portion of the orchestra is still the same as when I was there. Seeing the video brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing it with me!

      I did our once-every-week-and-a-half shopping trip this morning. I was anxious about it last night so I woke up every 2 hours. Then, of course when the alarm went off at 7:45 a.m. (I wanted to be in the line outside Whole Foods as close to 8 as possible) I was dead asleep. By the time I got to WF (right around 8 a.m.) the line already stretched down the block. But it was partly long because everyone was standing about 10 feet apart. Once in line, I had a momentary flash of my old anxiety – Oh my God, I’m going to have to leave the line to run home to use the bathroom – but the anxiety passed and I amused myself reading an uplifting blog post.:-)

      It’s really amazing how we are all adjusting to this new “normal.” Everyone I’ve come across in the city is calm, friendly and respectful. I wore my new plaid mask (I was the most unique among the mask wearers:-) but even so my get up wasn’t without issues. To keep the straps from sliding down the back of my head, I placed the upper ones over the top of my ears. However, my ears are not built for both grosgrain ribbon AND glasses, so my glasses fell off my face onto the floor twice. Sigh. At least I amused myself.

      I had planned to buy some Easter candy…because, well just because. I was raised Catholic and have fond memories of the Easter baskets my mom put together for us. However, there was one measly little shelf of chocolate bunnies at WF which, sadly, were already discounted at 1/2 price. I guess people aren’t in the mood to celebrate. Or, maybe the Upper West Side WF caters more to people celebrating Passover. In any case, I bought gluten-free chocolate cupcake mix and a bag of chocolate candy covered salted almonds. I’ll decorate each cupcake with an “egg” and that will be our Easter treat.

      I did another illustration today which, sadly, turned out to be a dud. The inked illustration did have a lot of promise, but I over-colored it and ruined it. Oh well, at least I learned something in the process.

      Send me your Baroque video once it’s up. I look forward to seeing it!

      Sending you a big hug and lots of love,

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