Staying Creative in Quarantine (Or Trying to)

          2020. What a year, eh? And we're not even halfway through! Like everyone else I had so many plans for the year, and one of them was launching our new collection, but what with the lockdown I don't know when that's going to happen now. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

Sneak peek at our new collection look book, which we shot earlier this year.

          Anyway, enough of that depressing train of thought. I'm writing this post to share with you some of the things I've been doing to stay sane, err I mean creative, while we've been in quarantine. I've included some links in case you might be interested in trying them out, too. Full disclosure though: these aren't all totally productive activities, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we need to take it easy on ourselves, now more than ever. Now without further ado here are some of the things I've been I've been up to:

1. Jewelry-making – of course!

The Tala necklace from our upcoming collection. Also pictured are my latest obsession, daisy chains.

          Cebu City, where I live, has been on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) since March 28. This means strict border control between Cebu and the surrounding province, with military checkpoints on every road leading out of the city. You can't go in or out of the city unless you're a medical or essential worker. Long story short, this effectively shut down production since our artisans and suppliers are based in Lapu-Lapu City.

(Left) The jewelry pieces I made out of some of my old jewelry. (Right) My old Caboodle-turned-jewelry-box, circa 1995. 

          I miss being able to visit and experiment with materials, so I've had to get a little creative at home. It all started when my sister found my old Caboodle that I used as a jewelry box all the way back in 1995 – major blast from the past! Along with jewelry I haven't seen in years, I also found some bits and bobs that I decided to turn into new jewelry. I love that I get to wear pieces from my childhood again!

I've been having fun making beaded jewelry using the beads my sisters found and beads from my personal collection.

          My sisters have been busy cleaning and found a whole stash of beads from their old high school projects. Rather than throw them out, they gave them to me and I've become more than a little obsessed with beading. My favorite thing to do lately has been making beaded daisy chains. This DIY from Honestly WTF has easy to follow instructions and I guarantee you won't be able to stop making them! They've also got other great jewelry DIYs like these embellished friendship bracelets that partly inspired the Amica collection. If you want something slightly more complicated try your hand at this daisy chain ring, it's adorable!

2. Crochet

          ECQ may have started on March 28, but I was actually already in quarantine before that. I'd attended an international conference earlier that month, and the day after I developed a sore throat and cough. I was brought to the emergency room to get tested but they'd run out of test kits, so I had to be quarantined at home to be safe. Luckily it turned out to be nothing more than a sore throat and I got better after a couple of days. I still had to stay isolated for two weeks though.

          What to do when you're stuck alone in a room for two weeks? Well if you're me, you rediscover your crochet skills and make... cat toys!

Toys galore! They're all the same color because I only had that one skein of yarn. He doesn't seem to mind though.

          Here are some of the ones I made: catnip mouse, octopus, TP toy. If you're going to dive into the world of knitting and crochet, Ravelry has a lot of great patterns and membership is free.

3. Cooking

          I love trying out food from different countries and cultures. Indian food is definitely one of my favorites (I have my Domus friends to thank for that!), but the rest of my family find it too spicy or the flavors too strong. Samosas are one of the few safe dishes that I know everyone is going to eat, probably because it's similar to empanada, so I've been making them for the past few weeks.

          This is my go-to dough recipe, there are also instructions on how to fold the pastry. For meat fillings I use this recipe as a base, sometimes with ground pork or chicken. And this is one of my favorites, a pav bhaji-samosa crossover. Add a little sugar to your filling to make it more palatable to Filipino tastebuds – or is that just me and my dad?

          Have fun experimenting with different fillings. You can even use the dough recipe for empanada. My mom's had great success substituting the oil for shortening for her empanada recipe.

          Another dish I've been craving and cooking is scallion pancakes. This recipe is absolutely delicious and fool-proof, and you will get crisp pancakes every time.

          I haven't resorted to making bread just yet, but I'm tempted to try my hand at pandesal!

4. Reading

          Quarantine has been the perfect time to catch up on my reading and I'm proud to say that I am now halfway through my 2020 reading challenge! Here are a few book recommendations, some are old favorites, some I read earlier this year, but all are light reads because the world is too grim for anything too dark or serious right now.

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – One of my favorite books! It's about a young businessman who's suddenly thrust into a dark and magical world beneath London.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – The first book I read this year. January, a young woman in the 1900s, discovers a book that takes her on an adventure beyond our world. I can't say more without spoiling it, but I will say that I did not expect the story to go the way it did and I was blown away by the end.
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – I just reread this last year and it's still a favorite. Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, sets out to seek her fortune but is put under a spell by the Witch of the Waste that turns her into an old woman. Her only chance to break it lies in the heartless Wizard Howl's moving castle. I much prefer the book to the movie!
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I can't believe I never read this book until now, but I'm glad I read it as an adult because I feel like I can appreciate the themes of this book better than I would've as a child.
  • Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Parallel worlds and perilous magic! This is a trilogy and I'm bad at summaries, but trust me it's definitely a great read!
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Still a favorite after all these years! I like listening to the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry while I work. You can listen to the first book read by Daniel Radcliffe and other celebs here.

 

          And now on to the quintessential quarantine activity...

5. Binge-watching!

          I don't know about you, but I've been rewatching a lot of shows and movies. Maybe it's because I feel like I need something familiar to hold onto in these uncertain times. Anyway, here are some shows and movies that can provide a much needed escape from reality:

Shows:

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – 1950s housewife turns comedienne when her perfect life gets turned upside down. I started this when I went into quarantine and watched all three seasons within the first week, which I regret because I started missing it the moment I finished!
  • The Vicar of Dibley – An classic British series from the 90s, when the Church of England was starting to allow women to become priests. This is about a lady vicar and her misadventures in her parish in rural England. Cozy, wholesome, and very funny, it never fails to cheer me up.
  • Outlander – World War II British Army nurse Claire Randall reunites with her husband on a second honeymoon, when she is suddenly transported to 18th century Scotland during the Jacobite rebellion. Are you raising your eyebrows? Yeah, I did, too, but I'm a sucker for period dramas and this one does not disappoint. Top-notch acting, sweeping cinematography, gripping storylines– this has it all. Fair warning though, this show can be quite graphic and does not shy away from brutal topics and imagery.
  • Fleabag – Poignant, heart-wrenching, and hilarious. It's essentially about a 30-something year old woman and her dysfunctional family as she makes her way through life. Season 1 is a little too uhh... British for me, but season 2 is SO. GOOD.
  • The Chef Show – Every time I watch this I wonder why I never considered a career in culinary arts. You can watch this after a full meal but I can guarantee you'll still feel hungry. You've been warned.
  • I'm not normally one for sitcoms but these are always worth a rewatch: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community, Friends, Miranda.

Movies:

 

  • Emma (2020) – Absolutely gorgeous sets and costumes, this movie was total eye-candy! As far as adaptations go though I still prefer the 2009 BBC mini series.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – One of my favorite movies. It still breaks my heart and makes me want to dye my hair blue.
  • Only Yesterday – An animated film by Studio Ghibli, this is about a young woman who reminisces on her life as she takes a trip to the countryside. This one was surprisingly charming and made me nostalgic for my childhood. Watch with the original Japanese audio track.
  • Moulin Rouge – Is there anything more escapist than a big, bold, over-the-top musical?
  • The Darjeeling Limited – This is my favorite Wes Anderson film. The opening scene is iconic.
  • More light comedies for when real life gets too much: Date Night, You've Got Mail, Late Night, Chef, Julie & Julia.
          If you want something a little more high-brow for your binge-watching, the National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera are streaming their plays and operas for free.
          And lastly,

6. Enroll in an online course

          MoMA is currently offering their online courses for free, and I've been taking Fashion as Design. I'm on the 5th week of this 7-week course and it's been very interesting. It takes a look at fashion beyond aesthetics and dissects them as objects of design. My favorite so far has been week 2, where we took a look at some ubiquitous fashion items, like the hoodie, sneakers, and jumpsuit, and how they've evolved in design and cultural significance over the years. Definitely give it a try!

          And that's my quarantine survival guide! I hope you check out a few of the recs.

          One a side note, I've also been trying to get some actual work done. Last month we did the fundraising sale in aid of our frontline workers and people affected by COVID-19. Currently I'm researching and compiling Filipino mythology and folktales as reference and inspiration for future collections.

          And speaking of future collections, I've been tossing around the idea of creating a diffusion line since last year. The lockdown has presented so many challenges to how we produce and even ship our pieces, and these constraints have got me thinking of new products we can offer (definitely not masks though). I'm already cooking up some new designs, but I'll save that for another post. 'Til then, take care and stay safe!

Susanne


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  • Charu on

    Lovely post Sue! You have been upto some really fun stuff :)


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