Today’s Commissions ๐ŸŽจ

Here’s some commissions I completed today for Mwako. I’m really happy with them!

๐Ÿ„ Artwork is ยฉ 2021 by Marina Neira McKinzie. You may NOT copy, color, reference, repost or use this artwork in any way or claim it as your own. Only the commissioner/giveaway winner & those featured in the artwork may repost with credit and following my Terms of Use.

๐Ÿฅ‚ Here’s To A Happier Year ๐Ÿฅ‚

Here’s my early wish to a happier year for everyone who follows me. It would be disingenuous to tell ourselves that our problems will be solved at the stroke of midnight tomorrow, and I have to say, if we have even some sense of normalcy returning by July 2021, I’ll feel infinitely grateful. In this winter of our times, I believe we still have a good few difficult, cold months ahead. But if I squint a little, I can already see a glimmer of hope in the horizon. I hope you can see it, too.

I leave you with the lyrics to the opening song of one of my favorite Disney sequels, which inspired this drawing and has both lifted my spirits during sad times and made me smile during happy ones with the reassuring reminder that yes, things worked out in the end, and will again.

Have a happy 2021, everyone.

Under the snow, beneath the frozen streams,
There is life…
You’ll have to know, when nature sleeps she dreams,
There is life…

And the colder the winter, the warmer the spring,
The deeper the sorrow, the more our hearts sing,
Even when you can’t see it, inside everything,
There is life…

After the rain, the sun will reappear,
There is life…
After the pain, the joy will still be here,
There is life…

For it’s out of the darkness that we learn to see,
And out of the silence that songs come to be,
And all that we dream of awaits patiently,
There is life.

Songwriter: Friedman David Allen
There Is Life lyrics ยฉ Walt Disney Music Co. Ltd.

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve! โœจ

Lately, as in the past few months (or maybe itโ€™s been during the duration of the pandemic?) my motivation for really basic things like doing my chores, showering, going out for a walk, has been really low. Itโ€™s almost painful. I still do these things every day just as I should. But itโ€™s hard.

Today I had to go grocery shopping, it couldnโ€™t be put off anymore. So I made myself get up and shower early, and did all the chores I could in the morning, and off I went, and got it done, and now I already have everything put away so that’s a relief.

Tomorrow we will make burgers and hot dogs and greet the New Year with people from “our bubble” that we have either been hanging out with already, or Christopher has been seeing due to work. I got chips and dips and drinks. I’m excited to end the year on a high note.

Last night I was really at a loss as to what to make for dinner. We were out of most things. But I defrosted some beef, substituted onions for shallots and butter for margarine, and with Mojito’s help somehow managed to scrounge up meatballs with mac ‘n cheese for Christopher.

Yesterday I got a huge number of posts moved from Instagram to the blog. It’s still such a small amount… from almost 2,000 posts I am down to 1,778. You may think it’s a pointless thing to do, but Instagram was my diary. I want to get away from that toxic atmosphere without losing all those memories.

Today, though, I have a Zoom call with my mom and commissions to work on. I leave you with some slimy bois:

Having a drink:

Hello, New Day ๐ŸŒž

Good morning, everyone! Yesterday I had one of my last Christmas related packages (gift card stuff.) One of the items is a little keyboard I’ll be using for my Photoshop shortcuts, then it’s Cafรฉ Enchantรฉ, and the final volume of Bears Of The Ice.

I also got the latest English volume of Beastars and OH MY GOD, I had that thing read in like 20 minutes, finally we know who the killer is, but that wasn’t what excited me most about it. Anyway I won’t divulge more because then I have to add my spoiler tag and I just don’t feel like it.

The little keyboard is pretty cute, and it’s mechanical. It was just $14.99.

Besides art and chores, I’m going to spend a good chunk of the day continuing to move posts from Instagram to here (I’ve already downloaded all the photos and I’m just getting the text now.) There’s been multiple attempts at “hacking” into my account by some pretty sad excuse for a human being. ๐Ÿ™ƒ So I’m trying to get that content off so I can finally delete the account. I hate that it still exists at all.

Just in case I’ve beefed up the security in all my accounts. Two step authentication and all that.

That’s all for now, it’s time to get on with my day!

Meal Prep Day! ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฑ

Today I prepped my meals for the rest of the workweek. While they are pretty plain, I add a little something extra every day when I actually eat. I use Japanese sticky rice and boil my hot dogs in broth after cutting them up. They also have a little paprika in them.

When I eat, I’ll add butter, salt and pepper to the eggs, a little something extra I may find on the fridge that day (today it’s olives and hearts of palm) and furikake to the rice. I also usually like to mix a little bit of gochujang sauce with sour cream, but today it’s just mayochup (or salsa golf as we call it in Argentina) since it’s a better fit for the hearts of palm and I don’t have sour cream anyway. ๐Ÿ˜…

Furikake is THE best thing ever and I always find the cutest kinds. I’m almost out though. It really makes the rice delicious and gives the whole otherwise plain meal a very fancy touch:

Oh yeah, guess I never showed off this placemat. Normally, I keep it upstairs, but I wanted it for these photos. I use it to avoid staining my fancy gaming mats when I’m having a snack:

Today is going really well so far and I expect that before 1:00pm all my chores will be done. I hope!

Little Impromptu Get Together ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ™‚

Good morning, everyone! Our weekend ended on a lovely note. Our friend Kris invited us to dinner. I wasn’t super hungry but outings have become quite precious and I wasn’t gonna pass it up. It was him, his girlfriend (whose name I’m still trying to learn) and our friend Jessie whom we saw this weekend already.

We went to Scruby’s BBQ. I was delighted by their holiday window decorations:

These window paintings never seem to change. Now or in the 80s, even in my country, they look very similar. It’s such a nostalgic feeling.

I wanted to be myself last night. I dressed a little more like my usual self and brought Stitches for a picture. I just had fried mushrooms and stole some of Christopher’s fries. My food was actually really bland, so I didn’t eat them all. What with COVID, I didn’t want to touch any of the non-disposable sauce containers or salt and pepper shakers.

After we got home, I worked on a personal New Year’s drawing (I began it at the restaurant, since I brought my iPad with me, but I mostly finished it at home) and then opened the Evangelion Tamagotchi that Christopher got for me. It was a preorder since April, and something we definitely wanted more as a collectible/curiosity than for being a “good” Tamagotchi or anything –but it’s definitely a legit Tamagotchi with the Tamagotchi logo, and it’s official Evangelion merch.

Right now, I still have it at the embryo stage, and I’ve figured out how to do simulation training and give it energy, but I can’t seem to check its stats or do anything else… I’ll have to look into it.

Anyway, Kotoko just came to me meowing with her mouse in her mouth, like every morning. She doesn’t want food or pets. She just brings it for me every morning and then gets on with her day. I guess I should get on with mine.

See you on the next post!

Saturday Winter Walk ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒˆ

Yesterday I went for a long, LONG walk to the mall and to Petsmart, to use my gift cards. Walked several miles total, listening to music and enjoying the cool weather. It was lovely.

The sky was the bluest I’ve seen in many months, possibly years:

Behind me there were some clouds. Otherwise it was a perfect span of blue.

I ended up buying a Sesshoumaru t-shirt at Hot Topic. I wanted to wear it today but it’s just too cold… I love it, though:

I also bought some new decorations for my snail tanks:

After I got home, I finally installed my new keyboard. It’s an absolute dream come true:

It has so many different effect options. I settled on one that shows the colors all the time but isn’t too distracting. In case you’re interested though, here are some videos of the different effects ( this is by no means all of them):

Ultimately, I settled on a less-bright version of this:

Despite the color and flashiness, this is a real, proper, “big girl” keyboard (lol) that should last me many years and is a noisy, raucous delight to type on. ๐Ÿ˜ I’m sure I’ll always be swapping out 2-4 keys to change its look from time to time.

I’ve begun by ordering three custom keys. I was going to wait until I realized that two of the keys, quite expensive on Etsy, were much cheaper on AliExpress (which I checked after noticing the Etsy sellers themselves shipped from Hong Kong ๐Ÿ™„) I got an Alliance keycap, a cute spacebar with little chicks, and the best part of all, a Grogu/Baby Yoda keycap that will likely replace my escape key. I don’t want to lose most of the effect of the keyboard so I don’t expect to customize it beyond this.

After that I opened Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~ (the game I was most excited about, though, I’ll be completing Giraffe and Annika first). This is the fan disc for Code: Realize ~Guardian Of Rebirth~.

It came with a music CD, a keychain, and several cards. The Sholmรฉs and Finis card had some slight damage to the back (you actually can’t see the Sholmรฉs one in the photo above because I think I had accidentally left it behind another card) but it’s minor damage and I don’t care so much about those two characters anyway. I put the ones for Van Helsing, Impey and Saint-Germain in badge holders and I’ll be hanging them somewhere in my work area. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Here is the cover for the CD, it’s quite pretty:

In addition to this I received a package from ODU with two onesies featuring new designs of mine. One is Royal Ribbits which you may have seen, the other is an upcoming design so I’ll share the photo of both once it is formally announced next month.

I guess it’s time to get on with my day. I have lots of chores to do and art I want to work on. I hope everyone reading this has a great day!

AmiiboCoin Package Is Here! ๐Ÿ“ฆโœจ

My long-awaited Etsy package is finally here, after many delays! It had a cover for my Switch Pro controller, a little case for the games I play most often, and a small Stitches plushie.

Here is the case, which was the main reason for my order and I absolutely LOVE:

It’s a really good fit:

And here is Stitches:

Stitches is one of my favorite Animal Crossing characters. In fact he may really be my most favorite. ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿงต๐ŸŒˆ

The game case is really wonderful, but I’m not posting a photo yet because it came with a small stain, and I’m hoping I can get a replacement.

Merry Christmas!! ๐ŸŽ„โœจ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ…

It’s here! And what a wonderful one it was… I am so happy.

By the time my mom came downstairs this morning, I had the table set, every Christmas light on, and gentle Christmas music in the background. We arranged our presents on the table:

We exchanged presents as we had breakfast. It was so lovely and peaceful. We had Grandpa’s photo right by us and it felt almost like he was there. I’m glad I made the little display for him.

From my mom I got a snail shirt, a squirrel shirt, an Amazon gift card, and a Switch otome that I really wanted, CollarxMalice. From Mwako I got some Posca markers, another otome (Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~) a board game called “Lion In My Way” and two manga volumes, both Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid related.

And then… I finally let myself open the present from Buddy, Sarah and Santa.

It was the wonderful keyboard that I’d fallen in love with. It was a frivolous, unnecessary want, that I think must have put Santa in a tough spot. I didn’t expect or deserve it, and I definitely didn’t cry when I tore open the package. Okay, maybe just a little.

Truth be told, when I took it out from behind the clock I strongly suspected what it was and my anticipation and emotion was so great that I just sat on my chair hugging it and almost not daring to rip open the paper. It was heavy, too. I’m waiting a while to actually open the box just to extend that joy, but for now here it is with the rest of my spread:

When I went upstairs to bring the presents to my studio I snapped this cute photo of Rosie and Kotoko together in the sun:

I also did a quick little check on my snails and wished them a Merry Christmas. They were just doing their snail thing:

After opening presents and finishing our breakfast, we went out for a long walk. It was really cold (for Florida) so we bundled up:

I don’t think I ever went out for a long walk with my mom in my neighborhood. When it comes to such things, she is like me, in that we will point out little bugs or leaves as we walk, that are interesting. I can’t do that with anyone else in the same way, so it was really fun.

After we got home my mom began making the shrimp salad. It’s a salad I haven’t gotten to have in AGES so I was really excited. While I waited for her to be done so I could prepare the roast chicken, I had a little snack:

All the while we had country Christmas music (and ONLY country, haha) going on all over the house. God, it was glorious.

After my mom was done with the salad and it was set to chill in the fridge, I prepared my second roast chicken ever. My mom really liked the humita empanadas I made, but this was my big test. So far, I’d had the house perfect, the porch beautiful, nothing out of place. I knew my mom was proud and impressed, and above all so happy. She kept saying so. I really wanted this to be the finishing touch, and for her to feel that I can take care of her and keep her happy. It’s really important to me.

We watched Scrooged while the chicken cooked. I made SO much smoke, the smoke alarm went off. But the chicken itself didn’t burn, just some of the grease. All was good, but there was so much smoke that our eyes were burning.

The dinner spread was simple, but lovely:

As for the chicken, while it was very slightly drier than my first, it was still great:

My mom’s salad was too… everything was delicious. I gave my mom most of the chicken to take home, since I can roast Christopher another anytime.

My mom left shortly after dinner, and Christopher arrived home less than ten minutes after she left, bringing with him several presents from Grandma!

She sent me a photo of me and Grandpa dancing together on Christopher and I’s wedding day, a beautiful silver bracelet, a Precious Moments watch that once belonged to her, two lovely Christmas lanterns to decorate (as well as an addition to the Christmas village, but that’s for both of us, along with a photo of Grandpa and Christopher to put on the fridge.) She also sent me two gift cards, and with one of them I got Cafรฉ Enchantรฉ, the last otome on my wish list. ๐Ÿ˜

My Christmas joy was (and still is) so unparalleled, so overwhelming, that I feel a little guilty. I’m this happy because I spent Christmas alone with my mom, and the way Christmas was disjointed this year should be sad, and nothing else. But you have to understand… we all treasure the memory we have from childhood if it’s a good one –sometimes, nostalgia makes us look back fondly upon it even if a big part of it was sad, because we hold on to the small happy bits.

From the time I was nine years old and my parents separated, my mom and I endured many years of either bad company that resulted in more than one Christmas with fights and crying while I sat somewhere plugging my ears with my fingers to avoid hearing it, to being just us, alone, struggling for money in an unfinished house. But at that point of being alone, we finally had peace, so while we were bordering on poor at times, and our presents would literally be things from the dollar store, our Christmases were very happy.

After we immigrated, we spent over fifteen years of Christmases alone. All very happy Christmases except for the utterly devastating one that came four days after our beloved cat Stimpy died. But when I met Christopher and we married, those Christmases were gone forever. I could not bear to spend a Christmas apart from him. And my mom and I’s rituals are extremely different from the family’s. We never expected to experience them alone again.

For this reason, this Christmas is one we will treasure for the rest of our lives, even though we wore masks throughout, even though I could not kiss her, it still was a precious time, and if I said I would have preferred to have it any other way, I would be lying.

There’s also the fact that this year I’ve become far more aware of my mom’s age, and her fragility, her tiredness and how unhappy she is, and how precious the time I have left with her is. So this coming year, I’m going to start working towards some changes to prepare the house to have her here, because I think when her oldest cat dies and only Sweeney is left, it will be time.

My mom is starting to approach 70, slowly but surely. Were it not for her sacrifice, I would not have made it here, nor met my husband… I want to give my mom some happiness on her golden years.

This topic aside, as I sent a bunch of Christmas greetings, I reached out to a friend of Christopher and I’s, whom we have barely seen this year and had a minor disagreement with, but enough to result in hurt feelings and some distancing. To my surprise we ended up talking and somewhat patching things up. Seems he’s been quite lonesome, and I felt so glad to have sent that message, glad as he was to receive it, that the whole thing left me a little bit choked up. Really added to the magic of the day for me. I hope we can see him soon.

But anyway… I ramble on… here’s one last photo, one that my mom took of Rosie:

I hope your Christmas was happy… I hope you feel lucky, in spite of the grief this year brought. Six days from now we will leave this year behind, and it is disingenous to tell ourselves that all will be well on January 1st. I think if we are lucky, things will *start* to get noticeable better around July-August. It’s okay. We can do it, we made it this far after all.

I want to send my love and my most sincere wishes for good fortune, good health, strength, and an ability to see and appreciate whatever blessings are present at this time, to everyone reading this. Whoever you are, whether you like me, love me or hate me, or don’t know me, whether you enjoy my blog, or hate-read or cringe at it, even if you just randomly found it today on WordPress’s Reader… truly, truly whoever you are… I hope you find happiness.

Blissed Out ๐Ÿ˜ด

This may or may not have been me earlier.

Christmas Eve was wonderful… just wonderful; I havenโ€™t had a Christmas Eve that was just my mom and me in many years. And we havenโ€™t had time to ourselves at all in so long. In spite of wearing masks and being careful it was still a happy time. It was a precious time.

We had lots of snacks. We drank a lot (didnโ€™t get like, drunk, but we still drank two bottles so now Iโ€™m drinking a lot of water.) SO many good things to eat, oh my god. Then I baked her my frozen humita empanadas and they were perfect, she ate a lot. I was really proud.

While we snacked, we watched A Christmas Story. My mom had never seen this movie before, one of my favorites. No one ever wants to watch it with me willingly, and it was really nice to have her enjoy it. We also watched A Muppet Christmas Carol.

In between movies we each opened a present. I gave my mom a little perfume she wanted and she was so happy she looked like she might cry. It was only like a $30 perfume from her wishlist but I guess she never felt like she could justify it… I think I need to stalk her list a little during the year and surprise her from time to time.

I chose to open Buddy and Sarah (and Santaโ€™s) letter rather than a gift. It was a really funny card, I loved it!

As you can see, the card said I would find a present behind the grandfather clock (itโ€™s actually a grandmother clock but I guess they didnโ€™t know that), however, I couldnโ€™t open anything else, so Iโ€™ll have to wait until tomorrow. I wonder what it could be! ๐Ÿ™Š

Anyway, I have a headache and Iโ€™m so exhausted and sleepy that I can hardly think straight enough to type, but I wanted to share a few kitty photos I took today before I end this post. The first couple were taken when I was waiting for my mom to get here, and the cats were chilling on the porch:

Afterwards when we were relaxing in the living room Tomoyo was super affectionate. In this photo she is laying on my stomach, she was kneading and purring so much:

I guess thatโ€™s it, Iโ€™ll have to proofread this tomorrow… I wish once again a happy Christmas Eve to all my friends and followers!