How to thrive and find ways to connect during social isolation

Koskela wanted to bring you a one-stop-shop of titbits, productivity hacks and simple ways to reinforce the sanctuary of your home. Self isolation is a challenging time for everyone, but it also presents a unique opportunity to reconnect with yourself, as well as those around you. Therefore, we have collated our best suggestions for how to mentally and socially cope with our current isolation situation. 

  1. We show you how to shop with impact to help small business survive this unprecedented time.
  2. We outline ways to help you maintain the sanctity of your home by creating a seperate work space.
  3. We offer a range of suggestions to keep your mind and body occupied in your free time, and simple ways to connect with friends and family from afar.
  4. We focus on how to honour your temple by presenting numerous pamper options to keep you feeling rejuvenated and fresh.
  5. An activity you can do with the whole household, backyard weed foraging! 

Please enjoy, and stay safe. 

Chapter 1. Shop small for a BIG impact

Here at Koskela we want to stand with our community, which means our supporters and the artists and makers that we collaborate with. We understand that people are scared and may feel powerless given how this virus has permeated a sense of helplessness throughout society, but fear isn’t the only thing that’s infectious, so is hope, love and kindness.

Koskela is committed to supporting small business and artists in this trying time as it’s the little guys who suffer the most in times of crisis. Which is why we wanted to share with you our top ten new and classic product recommendations, which will not only bring brightness and joy into your home, but will support local Australian artists and makers. 

  1. Troopy Travel Cup (exclusive to Club Koskela members): 
    The Troopy Travel Cup is a collaborative project with independent ceramicist Arcadia Scott and the Elcho Island Arts centre. Enjoy your WFH brew knowing that proceeds go back to the art centre and independent ceramicist Arcadia Scott. 

  2. Seljak Blankets

    Seljak is an inspired business run by two sisters who produce all their blankets from recycled materials. For every 10 blankets sold, Seljak send one to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. So invite a piece of luxury into your home, because this brand does more than just keep you cosy in WFH environments.


  3. Koskela Bean Bags
    We all need to take a moment to ourselves right now, and reclining on a bean bag seems like a pretty comfortable way to do it. Ethically made in Australia, our bean bags are now available in water-resistant nomad canvas for the outdoors. 

  4. Tjanpi baskets:
    Seeing as you'll be spending so much time at home, you may as well re-decorate! These colourful Tjanpi baskets from the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council is a social enterprise that supports women in remote Central Australian deserts to earn their own income from fibre art.

  5. Mavis Ganambarr Pig & Gloreen Campion Echidna:
    Need a WFH companion? This cute little bush pig is from Elcho Island Arts and is handmade by Mavis Ganambarr using rainbow pandanus and bush string. It's prickly friend the Ngarrbek (Echidna), is from Maningrida Arts and Culture centre by artist Gloreen Campion, made from pandanus and wood.

  6. Addition Studio Australian Native Body Scrub:
    Addition Studio believe that you can create a calm, healthy and creative existence by performing daily rituals which nourish your mind and body. This beautiful body scrub was created with this in mind. Made in Australia, it harnesses the cleansing powers of our beautiful natives. 

  7.  Baina Cove Bath Towel and Clovelly Hand Towel
    Cove and Clovelly are organic cotton, clay-coloured towels featuring a curved, architecturally inspired ribbed panel detail. Baina is an Australian brand, made ethically in Portugal. An inviting, soft cocoon to wrap yourself in after washing off the day. 

  8. Raconteaur Candles:
    Set the mood in your work from home set-up with these vessels of sensory explosion. Australian made, and designed using native botanicals from iconic Australian locations. Social distancing might be keeping you away from Bondi Beach, so why not bring it you? 

  9. Malcolm Greenwood: 
    Having a dinner party with your fellow social distancing housemates? Why not amp it up with these inspired ceramics from coveted Australian ceramicist Malcom Greenwood. Handmade with love. 


  10. General Sleep PJ’s:
    Who would have thought you could work from home in comfort and still look chic? Thanks to General Sleep’s sustainably sourced cotton-linen pj’s, now available in navy, you can! Shop with confidence knowing that you’ll be supporting a small Australian business, which have social initiatives in place to ethically support the weavers in India and honour their traditional handloom techniques. 

 

    Chapter 2. Create a bubble of productivity 

    Home's truly are our sanctuary. However given the current climate, for a lot of us, they have also morphed into our work spaces. So we invite you to explore our Focus edit, a specifically curated bubble of productivity and creativity within your home.  
      
    Our PBS Desk is a Koskela original, made in Australia. Developed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this desk is specially designed to create an ergonomic WFH base. We've paired this refine piece with our classic upholstered Jake chair, now available in a variety of vibrant or muted powder coat finishes.  

     

    For those who prefer a larger expanse to work from, we have you covered with the multi-functional use of our Brolga dining table. This table is also made in Australia and can be custom built with an 8-week turn around, or if you're ready to bring this elegant design into your home, we have floor-stock available for purchase at 30 percent off. 

    To help infuse all your creative and productive juices, we have some practical tips to keep your mind focused and your limbs buttery.   
      
    Firstly, it is important to create distinction between your sanctuary and your workspace. We're going to help you replace the morning commute to work with a few morning rituals ready for adoption depending on your style. 

    • Give your workspace a unique smell, different smells trigger structures in the brain which play a major role in controlling mood, memory, behaviour and emotion. Therefore, if you have a particular candle, incense or diffuser for your workspace and you begin to associate that smell with work, it will help you transition into a focused state of mind. We have some beautiful, Australian made options here

    • As tempting as it may be to roll out of bed and into your workspace, a great way to feel invigorated and ready for the day is a gentle morning workout. Some which we have tried and tested are: 
      - Bodylove Pilates online workouts 
      - Boho Beautiful yoga videos 

    • We've all heard a lot about getting dressed up and ready for work to help you get into the zone. A simple and affordable way to make yourself feel empowered and ready to take on the day is a fresh lip colour or nail-polish or grooming equipment, we have options for everyone. 

      Secondly, prepare for your day as if you were leaving the house... you know what that means, meal-prep! This will keep you in the good habit of preparing nutritious and economically savvy meals to help stimulate all those WFH epiphanies. Here are some great recipes to get you in the mood. 

      • Overnight oats - For that low GI release of energy throughout the day 
      • Bliss Balls - For a simple and healthy mid-morning snack 
      • Frittata - Whether you're vege or a meat lover, this page has the frittata for you

      We're learning as we go here, just like you guys on how to best operate under these unsteady circumstances. However, one thing we know for certain, is good design. Which we hope to constantly inspire and motivate you with. 

      Shop the entire WFH range

       

       

      Chapter 3. Sharing is caring: Koskela's Quarantine Titbits 

      Life as we know it has radically changed in a matter of weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving crisis with no real end in sight. That is not to say it’s all doom and gloom. Quarantining at home is giving many of us the opportunity to slow down; a lifestyle change that is good for our wellbeing, but in ordinary circumstances quite hard to achieve.

      The Koskela team has been working remotely for several weeks now, and we have been sharing ideas for surviving, and even thriving, during quarantine. There are opportunities aplenty to learn and broaden our perspective, explore and satiate our curiosity, stay informed, keep calm and keep active.

      We have also included some ideas to support the community. While everyone has experienced upheaval during this time, some have been hit harder than others, so it’s important to give back if we can.

      Without further ado here is Koskela’s roundup of tried-and-tested titbits!

      Learn

      Cultural Competence – Aboriginal Sydney offered by The University of Sydney
      A free online course that uses Aboriginal experiences and narratives of Sydney to explore the key themes and capabilities of cultural competence. The entire Koskela team is undertaking this course in 2020 to broaden our perspective on First Nation Australians.

      8 books on Indigenous history & culture that will move and shake you
      At Koskela we are deeply committed to Australia’s Reconciliation movement. We encourage you to read some (or all!) of the books on this list to gain a better understanding of the perspective of First Nation Australians. We have included a bonus list of 7 children’s books if you would also like to engage your kids.

      Explore

      Google Arts & Culture
      Content from over 1200 leading museums and archives who have partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to bring the world’s treasures online. Zoom Into Van Gogh's Terrace of a café at night or Browse Portraits of African Americans or Explore the collections of The National Gallery in London.

      Stay informed

      ABC’s The Economists presented by Peter Martin and Gigi Foster
      This half-hour weekly programme airs on Radio National, but you can download it as a podcast anytime. The hosts provide excellent in-depth analysis of the Australian economy and it’s especially worthwhile listening to the latest episodes for an understanding of the effects of COVID-19.

      Coronavirus offers "a blank page for a new beginning" says Li Edelkoort
      The infamous trend forecaster suggests we are entering a quarantine of consumption that will eventually allow humanity to reset its values. This is a fascinating and ultimately hopeful perspective on the crisis.

      Keep active

      Boho Beautiful: The Digital Yogi Life
      If you are feeling anxious one of most effective treatments is to move your body. Check out this excellent YouTube channel packed with yoga classes and guided meditations. The videos range from 10 to 30 minutes in length; ideal for a quick sanity break. We recommend the Beginner & Relaxing Yoga playlist in particular.

      BodyLove Pilates
      Is working from home giving you a sore back? Commit to one Pilates class per day and improve that posture! BodyLove Pilates is a studio specialising in pre and post-natal workouts that comes highly recommended by Koskela’s mums. They livestream classes and also have a great library of online workouts on their website.

      Sydney Dance Company Virtual Studio
      When in doubt, dance! Sydney Dance Company’s has launched a Virtual Studio with dance classes for everyone, at any experience level.

      Keep calm

      APS media release
      The Australian Psychological Society has released advice on maintaining positive mental health in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. The media release includes a list of trusted scientific sources for up-to-date information.

      Waking Up meditation app
      There are hundreds of meditation apps on the market, but this one developed by neuroscientist Sam Harris has a two-pronged approach of practice and theory. He posits that the purpose of meditation isn’t merely to reduce stress or make you feel better in the moment – it’s to make fundamental discoveries in the laboratory of your own mind. Wow.

      The Book of Life
      A free resource accessible on the web, or you can download as an app. The Book of Life is an offshoot of The School of Life, which was founded by the influential contemporary philosopher Alain De Botton. It’s a series of essays written by many people over a long time that cover the most substantial things in your life: your relationships, your income, your career, your anxieties. The homepage has been refreshed with stacks of coronavirus-related content that will soothe and reassure you during this very strange time.

      Watch & listen

      Isolation Island #1
      There are plenty of COVID-19-themed Spotify playlists cropping up, but this one curated by Australian music composer and sound designer Gary Sinclair is our pick. He intends to make a new playlist every week until life resumes to normal. "Hopefully this will help boredom, ease anxiety and provide some excitement. There will be no specific genre." It gets our thumbs up for excellent easy listening.

      Install the Netflix Party Google Chrome Extension
      In this new age of social distancing watching TV has suddenly become a social activity. Instruct your gang to install the new Google Chrome extension, which syncs video playback and adds group chat to your favourite Netflix shows. Get started with a Studio Ghibli marathon; all their delightful animated films are now on Netflix.

      Did someone say movie night?
      Our marketing coordinator and social impact coordinator have curated a list of some incredible Indigenous films and TV specials. Not only will this help thaw your mind, but it will broaden your perspectives in a time when we're all starved for sense of community and togetherness. 

      Look after your community

      Stand by the hospitality industry

      • Continue to support your local café by getting your morning coffee takeaway.
      • Make Friday night order-in night! #GreatAussieTakeaway
      • Order lunch from Two Good, or donate a $7.50 meal to a shelter 
      • Help keep OzHarvest’s vans on the road - every $1 given will allow them to deliver two meals to someone going hungry.

      Be a good neighbour
      Pop a note in your elderly neighbours’ post boxes with your mobile numbers and an offer to help or have a chat over the phone with a cup of tea. Better yet, have that cup of tea with your neighbour over the fence, at a 2-metre distance!

      Volunteer
      Find ways to virtually volunteer via the BCorp organisation, Vollie.

      Spend with them
      The Instagram account @spendwiththem was originally founded by motivational speaker Turia Pitt to help small businesses affected by the bushfire crisis. Now they are helping Coronavirus-affected businesses, too. The account promotes the goods and services of local ventures and provides information on where you can buy direct.

       

      Chapter 4. Home Sanctuary - Time to Unwind 

      With so many of us working from home, the sanctity of our homes as sanctuaries for creating, loving and relaxing has been threatened. We're here to help you reclaim the inner sanctuary of your spaces so that you can switch into ultimate weekend mode. 

      Firstly, you have to set the scene. We would like to introduce you to the Pamper edit. Designed to help you switch into weekend mode and unwind in your own sanctuary. Indulge in the sensation of ultimate relaxation as your body melts into the soft caresses of our bean bags or leather floor cushions, snuggled up with one of our favourite blankets dozing off to the aroma of Australian natives diffusing in the background. This weekend is for you, let us help you celebrate your sanctuary.

      Burning incense or natural oils have been proven to stimulate the brain with a sense of calm. Their delicate aromas are capable of reducing heart rates, and soothing the nerve pathways within the brain to make you feel completely relaxed and at peace. 

      For many of us in isolation, we are missing partners, family and friends, to help create a sense of intimacy why not wrap yourself up in on of our thick blankets and set up a House Party with a group of friends or family. Better yet, you could coordinate a pamper session with your friends or family over House Party where you coat your faces in a soothing mask and indulge in a glass of red together. 

      To help you set up this virtual pamper session with your inner circle, we've curated some homemade recipes that you can try yourself in the comfort of you sanctuary. 

      Calming and Soothing mask 

      Ingredients 

      • 1/2 Avocado 
      • 1 tablespoon of honey 
      • A handful of oats or oat bran 

      Benefits 

      According to Clean Beauty co-founder Dominika Minarvic, honey is not only antibacterial, but it's an excellent humectant, which mean that it helps your skin to retain moisture without feeling oily. Additionally, the oats and avocado have soothing and moisturising properties, which after 15minutes on your skin, will eave it feeling supple and moisturised. 

      Coffee Body Scrub 

      Ingredients 

      • 1/2 cup of coffee granules - if you've been making home brews in a french press or percolator, keep the used coffee granules to make the scrub, zero waste and good for your body! 
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
      • 1/2 cup coconut oil
      • 1 teaspoon on vanilla extract 

      Benefits 

      Mix all together and gently rub the mixture over your body, avoiding sensitive areas around the eyes. Leave on for several minutes to deeply exfoliate whilst moisturising your skin. The coffee granules help to rejuvenate and boost circulation, with the coconut oil helping to reduce inflammation and keep skin moisturised. 

      However, if you're not the DIY type, and are in the mood to support small Australian business, we stock some beautiful natural body scrubs which use ingredients native to Australia. 

      Addition Studio's Australian Native Body Scrub, made from native ground wattleseed & pink ochre, with blue cypress & macadamia oil to invigorate and energise your skin. 

      Salus's purifying body scrub, infused with eucalyptus and rosemary to cleanse, smooth and soften dry skin. 

       

      Shop our Pamper edit to lay claim on your home as something that is truly your sanctuary. 

       

       Chapter 5. Five backyard weeds that you can cook with this weekend

      Koskela had the honour of collaborating with foraging extraordinaire, Diego, or as he's fondly known on Instagram @theweedyone. His book, Wild Stories Foraging Guide is now available for purchase with Koskela. It deep dives into 16 of the most common, edible and medicinal plants of the Sydney Basin. The hand booklet style makes it the perfect partner for backyard adventures. The book is brimming with detailed and colourful images on each plant and a short description of its uses. 
      We did a little questionnaire with Diego, hopefully after reading it you'll be ready to add some backyard weeds to your long weekend recipes. 
      1. When did you first start getting into foraging?

        I am lucky, I grew up in a farm in northern Italy and at the time it was still common practice to send the kids out in the fields or the local forests to collect wild greens, berries and mushrooms. At the time it was just another of the chores entrusted to us as I never knew the term foraging, I only knew the plants, the seasons and the locations where to get wild foods from.

        2. Did you have a mentor to teach you the subtleties of different weeds, plants and fungi? Or are you self-taught?

          As kids, we were taught by our parents, uncles and unties. It was a slow and constant learning process, as we walked in the fields we were taught the names of the plants, what to harvest, when, how, what to wait for and what to leave alone.

          When I moved to Australia 25 years ago I found out that many of the plants I knew also grow here, people call them weeds. Since then, after many years working in orchards and garden centres, I accumulate knowledge of indigenous plants, learned from books and by talking to elders and old migrants. You never stop learning. By now I teach how to take advantage of edible plants to the public full time, running workshops for schools, councils and the hospitality industry.

          3. What are the five most common backyard weeds that we can eat? And how do we identify them?

          There are lots of useful plants in everyone’s garden. Five of the most common are:

          Dandelion. Much celebrated food and medicine all over the world. Distinguishing features are the leaves, shaped like lion’s teeth (hence the name, dandelion, from the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth). You know it already as you picked the clock of seeds and blew them in the wind since a young child, and by the bright yellow flowers dotting your lawn.

          Purslane. An excellent and nutritious native plant, much appreciated for the high level of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Easy to identify with the fleshy leaves, see the image. This plant has been used for food from Mexico (verdolaga) to the arid zones of Australia where Aboriginal people used to collect and use the highly nutritious seeds.

          Chickweed. Popping up all over your garden, under your bushes and in wet corners. Very high in vitamins, this common sprawler is easy to identify by paying attention to two distinctive features: a single line of hair runs up the stalks, like the crest of a chicken, and a core string, visible if you gently pull apart the stalks, resembling a chicken bone.

          Amaranth. Indeed, the superfood amaranth grows in your garden. This amazing plant is loved in central and south America as much as India. The distinctive feature is the seed head, resembling a cat tail when fully ripened and heavy with seeds.

          Mallow. Absolutely everywhere. This tough plant survives serious neglect and makes it the perfect weed. This amazing pant is also beautiful food and loved in the Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern cuisine. The distinctive feature is the flower with five petals, white to pink to purple in colour. The seed pods then are also very distinctive, see the image, and resemble little cheese wheels. 

          4. This seems like an exercise that would be fun for the whole family, what are some easy identifiers that kids can look out for when foraging for edible treasures in their yard? 

          The best things kids can do is to familiarise themselves with shapes and features. Start small, like go out and collect different leaves from different plants, and notice how shapes change. Start a flowers collection, press the flowers and learn about features: commonalities and differences, patterns and colours, all-important visual tools to cultivate ( pun intended).
          When you start to see similarities and start to recognise shapes in the landscape, you start to name things. From there is an endless journey of discovery. You will never stop learning. 

          A great way to get kids familiar with the different weeds is doing press prints and personal notes as you forage. 

          Fleabane (coniza) Mallow  Mallow
           


          5. What are the best ways to consume common backyard weeds? Do you have any favourite recipes?

            Probably the best way would be in a pie, where you can have several different plants, all contributing with peculiar flavours to an overall delicious and super healthy meal.

            Another great way to combine different flavour is Salsa Verde, a typical dipping sauce from where I’m from, traditionally served with root vegetables, or boiled meat. The base is parsley, but it can accommodate for any amount of wild weeds from your garden. The recipe below is the result of adapting my mum’s method with some home kitchen experiments by my partner Marnee. 

            Ingredients

            1/2 cup Dandelion leaves

            
1/2 cup of Mallow leaves


            1 cup parsley


            1 garlic clove crushed


            2 teaspoons capers drained


            ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

            
Juice of 1 lemon


            Dash of red wine vinegar

            
½ tsp dijon mustard


            Sea salt to taste

            Method

            1. Place Sow thistle, Mallow, parsley, garlic and capers in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.

            2. With the motor running, add oil, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice to the mixture. Process until well combined.

            3. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stand for 10 minutes.
            4. 
Serve as a dipping sauce or use as a marinade.

             Happy foraging and cooking! 

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