Welcome to another round of monthly favorites! As always, with illustrations and an eclectic mix of products from food to beauty products to favorite media and art supplies. This month is very much about mindfulness, calm, and coping with those last few winter weeks by getting cozy, warm, and creative!
Join me and share your own favorites for February in the comments!
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Favorites for my Home: Scents
After focusing on energizing and invigorating scents last month, February was all about turning inwards, mindfulness, and relaxation. It influenced my planning and daily routines, and it influenced all my senses.
Lavender Essential Oil and How I use it!
My favorite scent was lavender! Which came as a surprise to me - for all my life, lavender was just the scent that all the (elderly) women on the French side of my family seemed to prefer, with countless little sachets of dried lavender hidden in cupboards and closets. I associate it with my grandmother, which isn't a bad thing at all, but I just never used it myself!
After a sample of a lavender perfume roll-on captured my heart I went out and got myself some essential oil. I love using it in a diffuser, but also sprinkle a drop or two on my pillow since it's so calming!
Oh, and my favorite use: A drop on my yoga matt towel makes the Hatha yoga classes I've been taking recently even more relaxing.
Coconut Incense Sticks
I'm not one for overly sweet scents (except vanilla candles. Give me all of that.) but I've fallen in love with the mix of smoky (yup) and sweet that comes from burning incense instead of scented candles. My favorite in February was coconut, actually!
Favorite Beauty Product: Shea Butter
Coconut oil is such a popular all-in-one natural beauty product, and while I love it in small doses and mixed with other ingredients, I find the scent too overpoweringly sweet when used on its own. (Which is why I like it so much toned down and made "woodier" or "muskier" like in the incense above.)
Enter Shea butter!
The scent of shea butter is much nuttier than coconut products and very subtle - perfect as a body moisturizer!
It's also very thick and I personally enjoy body butter that leans more towards a waxy or balm-like texture more than those on the more liquid side of things - they're easier to apply without creating a mess and last longer!
More illustrated monthly favorites:
Favorite February Food: Good Old Oatmeal
Well, that still stands! I could eat different kinds of cookie dough mixes every day, all day long!
But when a cold wave hit us again in February, I really craved warm food!
I'm not adventurous enough to heat up cookie dough (would that be the same as making cookies?) but oatmeal is my go-to choice for warm & cozy comfort food. The same mixes of spices and add-ins that work for cookie dough are just as delicious in oatmeal!
My favorite oatmeal 'decor': Pumpkin spice, cinnamon, cacao nibs (I like to crush entire roasted beans on the spot for more flavor - seriously, if you like dark chocolate or cacao nibs, try some beans and be prepared for a whole new level of chocolaty darkness!), ground flax seed
Favorite Media: Altered Carbon
On the note of getting cozy and hiding away from February snowstorms? I snuggled up with my sketchbook, coffee, and brushes, to binge Altered Carbon on Netflix.
Now. I needed two attempts to get started with this show.
I've become incredibly cynical about what is commonly called "grimdark" entertainment; often using the excuse of "that's how the world really works!" to indulge in gratuitous violence (against women). That doesn't mean I don't like dark subjects or violence in my fiction, but I don't want it to be there just to be shocking and for the sole sake of gore. So when Altered Carbon started gory and bloody I was apprehensive and let the first impression keep me from watching on for a couple of days.
But I'm so happy I tried again, got past the first ten minutes - and while the show certainly is bloody and violent, it uses those scenes for messages that go beyond just visuals and shock. How delighted was I to find, at the very core, a story about love, family, self-discovery, and (female) empowerment! If you're in the mood for dark, highly aesthetic Sci-Fi show that feels like a fairy tale at the same time, Altered Carbon is the way to go!
For fans of: Dark fairytales, Hannibal-aesthetics, Westworld & The Expanse, characters facing their demons, Battlestar Galactica
Quick note: I had a book of the month, too, since I recently re-read (re-listened) to a book I first read over a decade ago and - while there are some issues with the text - still find utterly fascinating and a setting I love to death (Arthurian saga, all day, every day!).
I'd already finished the illustration when I googled the author's name to make sure I got the spelling down correctly... which is when I stumbled upon the black hole that are the child molestation accusations and all the other issues surrounding her. I'm not one to separate the artist from the art and can't recommend the work of someone I'd have nothing but disgust for in person. So, that's that, and my love for these books has forever been tainted by the new light that makes what I thought to be values of the characters (which are questioned in the text itself) into opinions the author herself supports. Bye.
Simplicity & Creativity
While binge-watching shows, I can't draw anything elaborate. I did fill pages in my sketchbook with new sticker motives and some plant studies, though. After working on complicated and communication-heavy freelance illustrations, it's always so relaxing to get back to drawing simpler motives and personal interests.
Maybe it was the sudden snow (not at all typical for Jeju Island in February!) that had me fall back in love with botanical illustration?
I fell in love with eucalyptus plants and a small sketch in my new Arches sketchbook (hot pressed paper smooth as silk!) was the inspiration for the set of printables I created.
So, I guess those Netflix marathon hours were productive after all...?
All in all, February was about bundling up at home, avoiding the dry cold winter air, and finding inspiration. How did your month go? What made you happy? :)