Internship Week 3: Flip-books & T-shirt Design

I’m already almost half-way through my internship. It’s hard to believe how much we’ve covered in the first 3 weeks, but I’m extremely happy with the quality of my work thus far.

The first two weeks of product photography was incredible practice getting to know my camera better and I’m finally feeling confident enough in my skills to work with other people. I’m really looking forward to planning some product photography and fashion photo sessions for the spring!

(Above) I also did an illustration for a T-shirt design—I’ll get to see the finished product of my work when my 8 weeks of training are over and really looking forward to putting my product and fashion photography to the test. 

Check out my flip-book on YouTube!

I had fun making a flip-book this week and am dying to make more—keep an eye out for that, in addition to another animation project I’m currently working on for the next few weeks.

Internship Week 1 & 2: Product Photography

It’s hard to believe I’ve already completed the first two weeks of my new Digital Media Marketing Internship!

We took the first week to settle in and get used to being back at work. My employer sent some supplies to set up an at-home-studio; they sent a package with a new tripod and ring-light with some other basic supplies to set it up. I got to spend the past week getting to know my new camera equipment and refreshing my photo-editing skills and feel a lot more confident using Photoshop now.

I created an Instagram Page for my photography to encourage me to keep practicing and create stock photography.

Follow me on @theartistjournal.ca!

Vegan-Kosher 1-pot Pulled Pork Recipe

I couldn’t find an quick and easy “pulled pork” jackfruit recipe online, so I made my own! I want to try this next in my slow-cooker for Shabbat… Is that “Kosher”?

Kosher, Vegan and can be made gluten-free

I wanted the cheapest vegan pulled pork in as few steps as possible. This is also a 1-pot recipe, so all you will need is a cutting board, knife, a sauce pan, spatula, and something to break apart the jackfruit.

The only things in here are jackfruit, onion, oil, spices and vegetable broth. If you’re in a pinch, water will do. That makes this less than 5 ingredients! 

All this food from the clearance bins was less than $6:

-$1.67 for jackfruit

-$1.99 for 2 heads of iceberg lettuce (of which I only needed 1/2 of 1)

-$1.49 for the buns (regular $2.99) In actuality those buns were in my freezer from last week, but I added its cost for posterity.

Ingredients:

The onion, leftover broth, and spices I already had at home, so you can round the total up to $6 if you like. I shop at dinner hour during the week, which is the best time to find half-off fruits, veggies and bread. The stuff that gets thrown away at the end of the night is sometimes even more than 50% (like the iceberg lettuce I got).

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil with spices and cook until brown (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add jackfruit and fill the pan with broth until the jackfruit is mostly submerged. 
  3. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the jackfruit is soft (for 10-15 minutes).
  4. Once the jackfruit is soft, add the barbecue sauce and cook until hot. 
  5. Put on a bun (or gluten-free alternative), top it with some crunchy lettuce and it’s ready to serve!

These with a side of coleslaw or potato salad, I see this being my favourite summer comfort food. This was my first attempt, so I’m looking forward to trying it again.

Next time I would like to make my own barbecue sauce, but I was being really lazy… If you tried making this yourself, let me know what you loved or may have done differently in the comments below!

The Month Of Elul: Rehearsing For A New Year

Feel free to download this and print it off as a colouring sheet!

The head of the year, Rosh Hashanah, is upon us.

“Shanah tovah um’tukah,” means “May you have a good and sweet new year.”

The King is in the field, and so, it is our time to speak with him.

Preparing for this Mitzvah requires an entire month. The month of Elul is all about introspection. We take the time to evaluate ourselves, to show G-d our best nature and prove why we deserve another year of this life—to continue to serve The King.

After Elul comes the two days of Rosh Hashanah. This is the time in which G-d decides our fate for the next coming year. Will it be “good and sweet”, or will it be our last?

How will you prepare for death?

An old Rabbi asked the class. He was sharing his hatred for Rosh Hashanah… and what the old Rabbi said made me fall in love with this Mitzvah.

To summarize, the pressure of the Lord’s judgement, he said, was terrifying to him. He asked his class, “How could I possibly be ready to answer to G-d? Have you cast none wrong? Of course no one is clean. So to this, I say, I will never be ready.”

You are judged in this life by more than just G-d. Society also judges us—not necessarily by the good we do in the world, but what we guilty for. We also judge ourselves: for those silent moments where we know we could have made a difference, but did nothing.

Your emotional baggage holds you back from more than just opportunities—it will hold you back from a peaceful death. And this is what Rosh Hashanah and the month of Elul are all about. I can say I was more than ready to “take stock of my soul” after this past year. What I need most right now is purpose and there could be no better opportunity than this Mitzvah.

But how do you “take stock” of your soul? What does that even mean?

While the sages provide no instruction past the Six Stages of T’shuvah, there are also fundamental mitzvot to guide us through this soul-searching.

Opening our hearts to forgiveness, preparing our souls for an intense 10 days of repentance and prayer, and giving tzedakah (to charity) are critical in preparation for the High Holy Days. As Sephardim, we even start reading Psalm 27 right on Rosh Chodesh: the first day of Elul, 40 days before Yom Kippur.

My tips for a successful Rosh Hashanah:
1. Spend the month of Elul in solitude. This really helped me attune to my inner-self and better articulate my needs, attitudes, ideologies, regrets, and hopes for the coming year.
2. Have your Machzor handy (or print out the selection of prayers for Rosh Hashanah if you don’t own the payer book)
3. Make a list for tashlich—things you wish to cast away “unto the waters” and never see again.
4. Create spiritual resolutions for the year. Prioritize things like sharing more time with family or becoming more vulnerable in your relationships—goals with deep meaning that will benefit your soul.
5. Give tzedakah (Donate to charity)—it’s Shmittah (Sabbatical) Year, so don’t be a cheapskate!
6. Plan your meals around synagogue—there is no more important time of year to show up for your community than the High Holy Days!
7. Pray to the graves of the righteous. Visit the graves of your beloved and Jewish memorials. I will visit at least one abandoned rural cemetery or prison cemetery to pray for those who have no one left to pray for them.
8. Send out greeting cards—it’s cliché, but for good reason!

There’s a lot you need to do to prepare for the perfect Rosh Hashanah. Having the potential to change your fate for the next year is a lot of pressure! You see why it takes an entire month for us to prepare?

You still have time to rehearse your new role in the world. What role will you play?

Do you deserve a good and sweet year?

Sources:
Chabad.org
MyJewishLearning.com
ReformJudaism.org

My Easy 1 Pot Baked Mac N Cheez (Vegan, Nut-free)

When I’m in artist-mode I don’t take care of myself. I’m more than guilty of getting lazy and slipping up with my self-care. Self-employed people work endless hours, skipping meals and losing sleep over our work.

When it comes to being lazy and trying to cook, they usually don’t go together. It’s always the same thing: I need a break and go to make something to eat, I’m too tired to think of something to eat—never mind find a recipe—and then just order pad-thai for the second time this week instead.

If you’re finding yourself in a dinner-funk, this one is for you!

I will be using “cheez” rather than “cheese” because this is a vegan recipe. There is no dairy in this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of elbow macaroni (or any pasta)
  • 2 cups of milk substitute
  • ⅔ cup of cheez powder (recipe below)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ⅓ cup of vegan cheddar cheez
  • bread crumbs

Directions for Pasta:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil: set stovetop to medium-high until boiling
  2. Once boiling, add 3 cups of elbow macaroni (or any pasta) and cook according to package—I was unfortunately out of macaroni noodles and had to use penne
  3. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally
  4. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit
  5. Remove pasta from heat and turn stovetop down to medium-low for the cheez sauce
  6. Strain the pasta and put it in a casserole dish for later

Directions for Cheez Sauce:

  1. Add milk, salt, pepper, and minced garlic to your warm saucepan (the pot from before)
  2. Whisk all the clumps out before melting in the vegan cheez
  3. Melt cheez over medium-low stovetop, pour sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir evenly
  4. Press the pasta down to pack it into the dish before adding bread crumbs
  5. Add 3 fist fulls of bread crumbs and the rest of the cheez on top 
  6. After the last of the cheese, I added an extra fist-full of bread crumbs for good measure
  7. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, at 350° Fahrenheit

Ideas for variations:

  • Add buffalo wing sauce to your cheez sauce to spice things up (I’m the only spicy food lover in the house, which is the only reason I didn’t try it)
  • Add onions when you bake your pasta for some more variation in texture
  • Make it more kid-friendly by adding extra cheez and swapping macaroni for bow-tie noodles—I halved the recommended amount of cheez to reduce the cost-per-portion, but you can never add too much cheez!

So that’s my easy 1-pot baked vegan macaroni and “cheese” recipe for lazy artists and busy people. Let me know how easy this was if you tried this at home and how it turned out—if you’ve been looking for an excuse to use your pretty pyrex dishes, here it is!

My Tarot Journal: Entry 2

Saturdays are when I do my weekly tarot readings as a part of my self-care ritual. This is what my cards told me about the coming moon cycle…

Spread: New Moon Direction Spread (The Witches Fix)

Deck: Tarot Marseilles

  1. Starting Point: Prince of Wands (reversed)
    • Deceit 
    • Swift change is coming to your life, be prepared
  2. Direction: 10 of Pentacles
    • finance and family
    • money, success and material comfort
    • “unearned” money and profits
    • feeling inhibited by your background/upbringing
  3. Energetic Aid: 5 of Cups
    • something lost, something gained
    • a sad card denoting grief and emotional wounds
    • melancholy
    • “the cup is spilled and its contents wasted”
    • it’s time to explore other avenues
  4. Potential: The Fool 
    • cut yourself some slack
    • don’t worry about what others think
    • “however mad your plans may seem you are always in tune with yourself”
    • s in tune with yourself”
    • This is the start of a life-changing journey
    • Someone unconventional will make you think about things differently 
    • Nervous energy, unstable conditions
    • Can symbolize an unconventional sex life
    • Great, but undisciplined mental energy
    • Look before you leap, stay cautious
  5. Adjustment: King of Swords
    • Logical, clever and quick witted 
    • A love for rational thought
    • “Nine times out of ten you will find him working in some professional capacity, where his bright and restless mind can be put to good use.”
    • Requires lots of mental stimulation from company and lovers
    • Playing games to burn the remaining mental energy
  6. Lesson: 9 of Swords
    • Oppression, fear and anxiety 
    • A dark place of fear and suffering
    • It’s currently an extremely difficult time
    • There seems to be nowhere to turn to for help
    • This despair has grown out of control
    • This does not quell the pain, but points towards a solution for these problems must be faced
    • “A dark night of the soul”
    • Someone sensible must come up with a rational solution, or only time and courage will heal the wounds

Some words of wisdom:

  • Focus on fulfillment and wellbeing
  • Health and success are coming your way
  • A peak has been reached and your dreams are about to come true
  • Love will flow more easily in your relationships 
  • Ideas are coming quickly and you will have plenty of energy to execute them
  • Something you’ve wrestled with for a long time is now coming smoothly and effortlessly, at last
  • Beware of feeling smug

If you drew anything from this reading please let me know in the comment. Do you practice tarot or any other alternative form of spirituality? I would love to know!

After a very long year, I’m looking forward to 2021—to new opportunities and change—for everyone.

Until next time, you can check out what I’ve been working on here!

—J

Turn Your Coffee Addiction Into Your Skincare Routine: Recycling Your Coffee Grounds

After hearing I could use my used coffee grounds in my garden, my plant pots are now filled with more coffee than soil… So I had to find a new zero-waste use for them.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

My partner dried out an 8 oz jar of used coffee grounds to use as a scrub for the stovetops, but we had almost the entire jar left when we ere done and didn’t want to risk them going moldy. So when I found half a jar of coconut oil in the back of my bathroom cupboard, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it! I came up with this simple DIY body-scrub recipe that’s great for reenergizing and softening your skin!

This is the easiest, quickest body scrub you will ever make.

  • You only need 2 things: coconut oil and used, DRIED coffee grounds.
  • Take your used, dried coffee grounds and mix it into your coconut oil (the other way around is a mess)
  • I like a 1:1 ratio of oil to coffee grounds, but you can make the consistency as thick as you like.
  • Since I practice aromatherapy, I also added 5 drops of peppermint essential oils to make it a refreshing and festive scent. I don’t recommend buying essential oils for single-use cases as they’re very expensive, but it’s your call.

I have sensitive skin and eczema and this scrub not only left my skin soft as hell, but plumped up and exfoliated my skin without irritation or dry patches afterward!

I also see this being a quick and easy gift idea for the holidays

If you added some crushed candy canes and wrapped it in a nice mason jar with a festive ribbon, it would make a great homemade and zero-waste gift!

Until next week,

Joey Toadstool

Comic for Quaranzine

Since coming out, people are generally surprised by how domestic I can be and that I enjoy doing things like baking my own bread and doing the laundry.
I make taking care of myself more of a priority these days. That hasn’t always been the case, as being transgender can make it especially difficult to put effort towards yourself when you can’t even look in the mirror.
All this time alone has forced me to become more comfortable with myself than ever before, but reading a book is always what make me feel most myself.

Check out the process work and sketches for this weeks comic on my Patreon page!

Until next time,

Joey Toadstool

Tarot Journal Entry #1

I thought to myself during the previous full moon while doing my regular spread that I should start a tarot journal, or at least some sort of record of my practice. It’s become very meaningful to me over the past year, as it has become a very bonding experience.

Despite the fact there are so many different decks, spreads and intentions I’ve bonded on a much deeper level with numerous people—becoming friends through the vulnerability we give to our decks.

The process of reading tarot can be cathartic and trigger a need for self-compassion and understanding. Reading tarot for yourself can so easily feel like reading for a friend or loved one. The care you put into interpreting each card to each situation—tarot can provide guidance in periods of self-doubt and isolation. A tarot deck you really love can become a close friend: a confidant.

Now that I’ve set out to spend more time on myself and working on myself I’m getting back into meditation, yoga and my spiritual practice. Crystals have an aesthetic appeal—and as a sensory-sensitive person their textures can be extremely soothing in my anxious palms—but their messages aren’t as clear to me as tarot. Crystals on my desk remind me of the intentions and goals I’ve set out for the month, but often nothing more.

  • Deck: Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck
  • Spread: Single-pull          
  • Guiding question: What energy can I manifest to ensure a positive birthday celebration?
  • Card: Buffalo
  • Element: Earth
  • GROUNDED YET HEAVENLY, PRACTICAL YET SPIRITUAL

Key message: “…the Buffalo does not fear death, illness or misfortune… Its gentle eyes look ahead, trusting every turn.”

Reflection:

This hit me hard. It had me burst into tears. I’ve been so scared about what’s wrong with me; so scared about what this illness could be and just trying to suppress my fears and anxiety. I’ve realized I can’t keep pushing it down.

Seeing doctors isn’t the only thing I need to begin healing. I’m realizing that now.

I interpret this is saying “tough times are ahead, but don’t let them ruin your fun. You’re still you, regardless of your illness.” I will somehow turn my hardships into opportunity. 

Making more time for myself on a spiritual level (meditation, sun salutations, foraging in my neighbourhood, tantric sex, etc.) is what will keep me grateful, reminding me that life is precious and worth experiencing regardless of my ability. I’m not sure how yet, but I’m working on it surely.