How are we spending the quarantine here at Nomad Estilo
How are you all doing out there in Corona-world? It would have been impossible to believe at the beginning of 2020 that I’d be writing to you all from a state-enforced quarantine during a global epidemic. But here we are. I had organized to open my shop in Agua Amarga for Easter, and this week would normally have been very intense with work and social life, connecting with all my clients after the quiet of the winter and getting organized for the season. As it is I’m spending Semana Santa at home with my son, and my days are just as busy, but are filled with finding a thousand ways to keep him entertained, talking as much as possible with family and friends and enjoying home life with cooking and gardening.
During the first week of the lockdown here in Spain, I found it almost impossible to work. What use was there in talking about decoration in the face of a global crisis? As the weeks have gone on I have changed my mind. Being creative continues to be what I most enjoy, and spending so much time at home, I have thrown myself into making my environment one which fills me with joy to be here. I had just moved house before the crisis began and so there are so many jobs that need doing. It’s easy to think of interior design as something frivolous and superficial, but I have never agreed with that sentiment. Our environment has a huge impact on our emotional wellbeing, and my passion as an interior designer has always been the ability to create emotional atmospheres which make people happier and more at ease.
When I started Nomad Estilo with my little shop in Agua Amarga I set out to create an environment which delighted and surprised my clients. From the beautiful scents that waft out of the door and beckon all who pass, to the products I source from all over the world, I love seeing people enjoying the experience of being in my shop. The things I sell are not essential. But they make life more beautiful, and I think we can all use some beauty in our lives at the moment. With that in mind I wanted to share some of the things I’m doing to make quarantine at home easier for my family.
My son is two. This means that once he’s awake my day revolves around him. In the beginning this was so hard, because there are many other things I need to do each day and trying to juggle being a mum and working simultaneously is pretty much impossible. My solution is to get up at 6am on the days I need to do specific pieces of work. As I’m writing this it’s still dark outside. But I love to write in the early morning before the world wakes up. I’m a morning person, but I’m also a tired mum! Thank god for coffee! But waking early and having some time for myself in the mornings has made my day so much easier. Of course I need to sleep too, so the siesta then becomes a must and getting to bed early also. I don’t always manage this. Netflix is dangerous. This is not for everyone. But find a schedule that works for you and stick with that Monday to Friday. It’s a good idea to change your routine at the weekend and factor in more time to relax. For us here in Spain going out every day at 8pm to clap for the medical services is also an unmissable part of our daily routine. I love speaking with my new neighbours, my son and a little girl across the road wave at eachother every day. I feel we are part of a community, and that we are not alone in this.
To be honest if you have small children you’ll know this is kind of part of the job, looking after a toddler is non stop! But my body needs to do some other exercise too, especially when I’m also baking cookies (I’ll come to these later). This is still a work in progress. When in the day can I work out? If I do yoga with my son around he climbs all over me, actually this is pretty fun and it feels quite good when he sits on my back while I stretch. I have ordered a skipping rope! I read that just ten minutes of skipping a day gets your heart rate up and I can manage ten minutes I think. We dance. I put my favourite French radio station on Fip and we dance around the living room. I garden. But I’m missing working out. So I’ve signed up for online classes and I’m going to try and fit this into my day. When? I don’t know yet! That is the tricky bit.
The Kitchen Garden:
Initially this started as an idea for a fun activity to do with my son but honestly I think. I’m more excited than he is. We ordered some kits online with seeds, compost, pots etc and we had great fun planting them all. I have the seedling by the kitchen window and watching them grow is so satisfying. Every day we go and check their progress and give them water. I find it really relaxing. Although I don’t think we can stop going to the supermarket any time soon, I can’t wait to enjoy the food we produce in the coming months. I have set up pots and containers on the patio and we’re growing herbs, tomatoes, strawberries, peas and lettuce. If you don’t have any outside space a sunny windowsill or balcony will do. You can order everything you need online. I only hope that when life returns to some normality I can keep this going!
Create your space:
What are the things which you love in your home? For me it’s simple pleasures: fresh flowers, a fire in the evenings, putting candles on at night time, or making the table look beautiful for every meal. It’s also about creating a harmonious energy in the space: getting rid of unnecessary clutter, keeping everything spotlessly clean, tidying up each evening before bed. What are the things that make you feel good in your home? Can you create a sacred space somewhere just for you? Somewhere you can disconnect from the world outside or have some space? This could be a bedroom or a space within your living room. Fill it with things which bring you joy, your books, or an area for a hobby or exercise. Can you create a seating space there with comfy cushions and a blanket to nest in? Maybe you have some photos which remind you of people you love, a painting by a friend, or a quote which inspires you. The designer Ilse Crawford said, “home is the ongoing story of a person”. How do you want to tell that story?
I am a serial do-er. I am also incapable of being bored. I have my mother to thank for this busy gene, she is also a non-stop person who finds it hard to do nothing. It’s an exhausting habit. One of the things I have had to re-learn these last few weeks is the beauty of doing nothing. Putting ourselves under pressure at this time makes no sense at all. We are already under pressure. The emotional toll of what is happening in the world should not be underestimated and it’s normal to feel emotional, sad, angry, tired or overwhelmed. So slow down. Be kind to yourself. Practice self-care. Sleep all day if you want to (or can, just the idea of this makes me envious). Breathe. Try to manage the inherent stress we are living through in whatever way works for you. For me that’s a hot bath with candles lit and relaxing essential oils. Or just playing with my son and hearing him laugh. Talking with the people I love. If we cannot slow down and just be in the moment now, when can we.
For me cooking is one of life’s great pleasures and I find being in the kitchen preparing something delicious relaxing and satisfying in equal measure. I wanted to share with you all one of my recipes that’s easy to do at home, great for kids and very indulgent. I am part Dutch and these cookies were an invention born out of a simple idea: what would happen if American-style chocolate chip cookies and Dutch Speculaas had babies together. What a fun experiment! Dutch Speculaas are spicy biscuits. In the golden era of Holland in the 17th century they dominated the global spice trade and so there are many Dutch recipes involving crazy amounts of spices. They remind me of happy times from my childhood visiting with my Dutch family. They taste of home.
To make the spice mix:
5 tsp ground cinnamon
2.5tsp ground nutmeg
2.5tsp ground ginger
2.5tsp ground cardamom
2.5tsp ground cloves
Ground cinnamon and nutmeg are easy to find in any supermarket. The others might be harder. Ground ginger and cardomom is easy to buy online. Cloves you may need to buy whole and crush in a mortar. I like to make as much spice mix as possible and keep it for the future, in that case just double or quadruple the recipe and then keep the mix in a well-sealed spice jar.
For the cookies:
225 gm salted butter, softened
200gm white sugar
200gm brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tbsp spice mix
380 gm flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
175 gm white chocolate, chopped small
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugars until combined.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla into the butter/sugar mix until fluffy.
- Mix in the dry ingredients until combined.
- Add the chopped chocolate and mix well.
- Roll 2-3 tablespoons (depending on how large you like your cookies) of dough at a time into balls and place them evenly spaced on your prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake in preheated oven for approximately 8-10 minutes. Take them out when they are just BARELY starting to turn brown around the edges.
- Let them sit on the baking tray for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
My son is crazy about these cookies. My boyfriend too. He’s currently in lockdown in Madrid, so we made a batch and posted them to him in a parcel, a little box of love for him to keep his spirits up and let him know we care. I don’t think they lasted very long!
Wherever you are in the world I hope you and your family are healthy and safe during this time. I send you my very best wishes and I hope to see some of you very soon when I can finally open my little shop in Agua Amarga. This week I’ll be taking more photographs for my Granada collection and I’ll also be working on some more delicious recipes to share with you. Thank you for being part of the Nomad Estilo community.