Here are ten recommendations from music and the coolest podcasts, to books on the environment and sustainability that will leave you inspired and feeling like your self-isolation was time well spent.
Another week of self-isolation in Hong Kong. While many countries have been social distancing for several weeks now, Hong Kongers have been at it for over two months. Patience and nerves are fraying (if not already frayed). Your reflection in the mirror seems to have gotten larger than you remember it, and the discarded chip packets remind you why. Wine in the afternoon no longer seems like a novel or fun idea; you’ve exhausted Netflix like those bottles of Pinot lined up on your window sill; and your three-month regrowth is proof that you aren’t really a blonde after all—not that anyone will see it. And still there’s no end to self-isolation in sight. What to do?
I can’t help with your regrowth, but here are ten recommendations from music to self-care that will leave you inspired and feeling like your self-isolation was time well spent.
It's a good time to catch up on all that reading you've been meaning to do. Read that Tolstoy book that's been sitting on your shelf untouched since you bought it in university. Give Ulysses a second attempt (or third, or fourth), or tackle that stack of Pultizer-prize winning fiction you amassed over several years but still haven’t cracked open.
Looking for something to redirect your attention from the current pandemic crisis? No problem! Here are some books addressing that other urgent crisis that isn't going away anytime soon—not even with a vaccine—climate change! From fiction to non-fiction this pile of thought-provoking books explores sustainability, rewilding nature, the circular economy, the environmental impact of fashion, animal agriculture, and deforestation. Finally, you can also find out what all the rage was over Sapiens.
Top to bottom: Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braggart + William McDonough ; Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymbery + Isabel Oakeshott ; Weather by Jenny Offill ; The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams ; To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World by Lucy Siegle ; We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer ; Feral by George Monbiot ; Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari ; The Overstory by Richard Powers.
First it was one day, then two. Then that stretched into a couple of weeks of pretty creative excuses. Now the very thought of cardio practically sends you into cardiac arrest. And your favourite pair of skinny jeans is working its way farther and farther into the dark recesses of your wardrobe.
Alright, get into your workout gear or something comfy. That’s right, well done. Now, go and get a snack— you know, for some energy—and get online. Nope, sorry turn Facebook off, and stop reading what Trump said this time. Head to these online yoga and workout classes instead. There are live Zoom classes to get you motivated, and online classes to do in your own time.
AndFit - This new Hong Kong gym offers online and Zoom classes for HIIT, abs and booty workouts, bodyweight training and core. You. Will. Sweat!
DoYogaWithMe - From power to restorative yoga this online platform has hundreds of free and paid yoga videos catering to all yogis and skill levels.
The Be.Come Project by Bethany C. Meyers - Online exercises that blend pilates, yoga and dance for every body, in accessible 25 minute routines for all levels.
Ballet Beautiful - If getting schvitzy is not your thing, Ballet Beautiful offers customised and private online ballet-inspired fitness classes that will get you toned and lean.
Nike Training Club - This app provides free workouts for everything from bodyweight-only sessions, invigorating yoga classes, targeted training programs, and full-equipment home workouts for all fitness levels.
Alo Moves - Thousands of online classes from yoga to HIIT.
Bar Method - Burn fat and sculpt your body with a series of barre classes that will strengthen your core and build stamina.
For those who need some style motivation and workout gear (working out in your undies is probably not a great idea on Zoom) here are some great eco-friendly workout gear recommendations to keep you looking and feeling good.
Shop the Fitness Edit
Adidas by Stella McCartney Perforated Bodysuit ; Manduka eko® Yoga Mat ; Rick Owens X Veja Thunderbird Mesh Sneakers ; P.E. Nation Recycled Nylon Leggings ; Agent Nateur holi(stick) no.3 Deodorant ; Adidas by Stella McCartney Midlayer Zip Top ; Manduka Natural Rubber Mat Spray ; Adidas by Stella McCartney Recycled Polyester Essentials Sports Bra ; Kooshoo Organic Plastic-Free Hair Ties.
In need of some nature in your life? Wish you could take up a bit of gardening but live in a small space with no garden? A few plants is all you need to get you started on creating your own urban jungle. The right plants can purify the air around you and lift your mood, not to mention they look wonderful and add life to a space. You can also cultivate some herbs and vegetables on your window sill, and have the satisfaction of eating home grown.
Looking for some indoor garden inspo? The solution is at your finger tips. Check out these gorgeous instagram accounts:
Now that you've taken a look at these lush insta accounts, you're itching for your own potted plants, but where do you start? Fortunately for Hong Kong readers, several Hong Kong garden shops and nurseries deliver flowers and potted plants straight to your door, and will even give you some tips on caring for your new plants. All you have to do is choose your plant. Try a snake plant for air purification (it's practically kill proof); rubber plant for its dark glossy leaves; peace lily, which filters toxins from the air and blooms into beautiful white lilies. Monstera has large large decorative green leaves, and palms make an excellent addition to any indoor space.
Keren’s Garden - Hong Kong's only home delivery nursery, they have soil, large pots, garden supplies, fruit trees, flowering plants. You name it, they have it.
Flower Delivery Hong Kong - If it's floral arrangements you're after this place has orchids galore, bouquets and floral boxes, as well as some smaller house plants.
Fleur HK- Smaller potted plants and flowers.
Garden Plus - Here you can buy potted plants, edible plants and herbs, outdoor furniture and even a barbeque.
If you're done with compiling and replaying your 400-song Spotify playlists (and the daily-mix algorithm is off, sneaking the occasional Taylor Swift song into your metal mix), and you want something different, download the Radiooooo app.
This musical time machine lets you choose music from a slow, fast or weird category (somehow Nick Cave has ended up on this list) from every decade from 1900 to today from all around the world. In your exploration of music history you're bound to make a discovery or two. It has gospel; Brazilian bossa nova; experimental Mongolian throat singing; Tanzanian rock; classic 1930s Chinese chansons; and enough Japanese experimental electronic music to have you wishing you played the theremin and synths (I think I found Daft Punk’s ‘70s Japanese inspo). Music nerds, say hello to your new friend.
And although music venues are closed and concerts cancelled the world over, if self-isolation has taught us anything it's how much can be done online, from socialising, food delivery, watching movies, working out and even opera. Many major classical concerts and events are being held without audiences and streamed live for us to see —often for free —bringing us some respite and beauty in these trying times.
Online classical concerts
From opera to ballet, talks to virtual tours, you won't have to leave your living room to hear and see some of the most exquisite music and performances out there.
• The Metropolitan Opera – ‘Nightly Met Opera Streams’: metopera.org
• Berlin Philharmonic – ‘Digital Concert Hall’: digitalconcerthall.com
• Bolshoi Ballet – ‘Golden Collection’ : youtube.com
• New York Philharmonic – ‘NY Phil Plays On’: nyphil.org/playson
• Sydney Opera House – ‘From our House to Yours’: sydneyoperahouse.com
• International George Enescu Festival – ‘Digital Festival’: festivalenescu.ro
• Budapest Festival Orchestra – ‘Quarantine Soirées’: bfz.hu
Need to feed your brain a bit? Try out these fantastic podcasts.
Recode Decode - Hosted by one of Silicon Valley's most revered journalists, Kara Swisher, this podcast interviews tech execs, writers, politicians, academics and celebrities for a deep dive into the world of big ideas, from instagram to AI, as well as social and political issues from universal basic income, fake news and the impact of coronavirus and quarantine on the way we work and communicate.
Wardrobe Crisis - Sustainable fashion podcast with Vogue Australia sustainability editor, Clare Press, who explores consumerism, ethics, activism and the impact of fashion on environment and people.
Wired UK Podcast - The week in tech, culture, science and politics. Random facts and interesting topics, from coronavirus 5G conspiracy theories to CBD oil.
Intercepted - A weekly podcast from the investigative news publication, The Intercept, delivering thought-provoking and critical analysis on under the radar global issues.
The Secret History of the Future - From the world's first cyberattack in 1834 to 19th Century virtual reality and lab grown meat today, this weekly podcast by The Economist's Tom Standee and Slate's Seth Stevenson examines the historical precedents that can transform our understanding of modern technology, offering new ways of looking at the modern world.
99% Invisible - These weekly podcasts take a look at the stories behind the design and architecture —much of which goes unnoticed—that has shaped our cities, from city benches to shade.
Already exhausted Netflix and watched enough Tiger King that you’re convinced Carole ‘Cat Lady’ Baskin killed her husband, and that your yoga instructor is modelling himself on Doc Antle? Let’s take it back to old school and over 50 minutes— movies. No, I don’t mean Contagion, or the whatever sequel to Jumanji. Let’s throw in some cult and classic films that perhaps you’ve never seen before.
The Criterion Collection has some great box sets online (iTunes also has a great selection of Criterion Collection films), and for cinephiles there's the Criterion Channel. It’s by monthly subscription (and can also be accessed through Apple TV in your region) but you’re sure to get lots of movies outside the mainstream and will impress your friends with your knowledge of Tarantino’s film references once you re-emerge from self-isolation.
Here are some great cult classics from the poetic, escapist, thriller, to weird art house to get you started:
My Neighbour Totoro- Hayao Miyazaki
La Dolce Vita- Fellini
Breathless- Jean Luc Godard
Solaris— Andrei Tarkovksy
Seven Samurai- Akira Kurosawa
The Big City- Satyajit Ray
Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alain Resnais
Chungking Express - Wong Kar Wai
Citizen Kane - Orson Wells
Lady Snowblood - Toshiya Fujita
Ed Wood - Tim Burton
The Conformist - Bernardo Bertolucci
The Holy Mountain - Alejandro Jodorowsky
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Has the daily bathrobe and tracksuit pants look got you feeling a bit like The Dude in The Big Lebowski? Does it scare you how easily you've slipped into the habit of wearing pyjamas to walk doggo in the afternoon? I get it, you're not going anywhere so why bother dressing, but this could also be the time to be fabulous and experiment. Conspicuous consumption is in quarantine, so what better chance to re-love and re-discover your wardrobe?
Go through an exploratory journey of your wardrobe, put on your most extravagant outfit, fish out those 6-inch high heels, and while you're at it grab that sequinned cape, and knee high latex socks (no?). Throw it all together and what do you have? A lewk! Big, bold, abashedly out there and most definitely NSFW, but the office is closed anyway, so enjoy!
Social media is exploding with #fashionchallenges for every style and everyone from vintage clothing, extravaganza, slow fashion, BDSM (I told you there's a fashion challenge for everything and everyone), and home craft fashion challenges. Take a strut, take a snap, and pos(e)t!
Now, while I have you thinking about your wardrobe, how about a spring clean? Sort out what you want to keep, what you want to donate to charity or swap with friends, and what needs repairing or reworking. No time like the present to hone your mending skills. After all, the most sustainable clothing are the pieces already hanging in your closet, so give them some love.
While you're in your Friday finest serving up quarantine realness why not go on a virtual tour of some of the world's best museums? Be an armchair critic and browse through the collections of The Met, New York; The Louvre, Paris; Musee d'Orsay, Paris; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Vatican Museum, Rome; The British Museum, London; The National Gallery. Check out the current design exhibition at MoMA in New York.
Best thing about it? No queues and no crowds!
Run that hot bath, splash in some rose oil, pour yourself a glass of red, and slap on that face mask. Light a gorgeous fragrant candle, dim the lights, relax and breathe. Spend some time on self-care, but invest in natural and clean beauty products which are non-toxic and cruelty-free.
Here are some great non-toxic at-home pampering recommendations that will soothe your skin, hair and nerves. And, these products are kind to the planet and animals.
Top to bottom, left to right: Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish ; Kiki Health 10% CBD Oil ; Ellis Brooklyn Marvellous Massage Oil ; Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum ; De Mamiel Skin Recovery Blend ; Therapie Detox Himalyan Salts ; Votary Soy Wax Candle ; Rahua Leave-In Treatment ; Incausa Bath + Meditation Incense Set ; Odacité Aventurine Gua Sha ; French Girl Organics Nail + Cuticle Oil ; De Mamiel Soothe Essential Oil ; Kjaer Weis Organic Lip Balm ; Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask.
My local supermarkets have been out of flour for weeks and my insta feed is bursting with home cooking videos. It seems like now that we all have some time on our hands, everyone is making sourdough starters and cakes. Self-isolation has spawned legion of insta-Nigellas and Nigels. But, if your culinary skills stop at peanut butter on toast and you need some help getting started, here are five fave vegan cooking blogs and several cook books to get you inspired:
Elavegan - Simple plant-based, refined sugar-free and gluten-free recipes.
HummuSapien - Nutritious and delicious vegan cakes, muffins, salads, soups and more.
Minimalist Baker - Easy recipes and a go-to for every meal of the day.
Sweet Potato Soul - Hundreds of fun, tasty and accessible vegan recipes from chef Jenné Claiborne.
OhSheGlows - Vegan peanut butter cookie ice cream, to buddha bowls and aioli, this blog has a huge range of different vegan recipes that will keep the whole family happy.
Top to bottom, left to right: Smith & Daughters : A Cookbook (The Happens to be Vegan) by Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse ; The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen ; Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero ; PlantLab: Crafting the Future of Food by Matthew Kenney ; Protest Kitchen by Carol J. Adams & Virginia Messina ; The How Not to Die Cookbook by Michael Greger MD & Gene Stone
Always wanted a fur friend but just never had the time? Now that we're all housebound (and the weather is amazing) it's a great time to foster a dog or pup in need of a loving home from one of Hong Kong's many dog rescues (or local dog rescues in your area). The Hong Kong Dog Rescue, LAP, and Paws United are often overwhelmed with homeless pups and dogs who need loving foster homes before finding their forever homes.
Many dogs come from neglected or abused backgrounds and they benefit greatly from your love and attention. Fostering gives dogs better socialisation and improves their chances of adoption. You'll be saving a dog's life, and think of all the sunny hikes, the morning cuddles, and the adorable loveable company you'll have. You may fall in love with your new fur friend and consider adopting them. That's great! A loving forever home is what every pooch needs, but please, don't adopt a dog unless you are sure you can commit to caring for it for the rest of its life. A dog is for life, not just for quarantine.