Barely a month ago, the world was rocked by the death of George Floyd – yet another Black life unfairly taken, and one that proved to be the breaking point and wakeup call not just for the USA, but the world. Globally, protests continue for racial justice and police reform; with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to fight systemic racism.
Education or re-education, learning and un-learning, are the first steps in understanding the individual’s place in the system. Then only can the movement be purposefully pushed forward in the hopes of creating lasting change. Here are some of the resources the team has found useful in our own journeys over the past four weeks, as we stand together to support true equality.
Layla Saad is a globally respected writer, speaker and podcast host on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation and social change. Meaningful and relevant, her book, entitled Me and White Supremacy, is a 28-day guide focusing on combatting racism by helping readers identify and dismantle white supremacy and biases within themselves.
A bold read for anyone who wants a deep dive into the truth of systemic racism in the United States is this book by Ijeoma Oluo. A New York Time Bestseller, So You Want To Talk About Race is a contemporary take on America’s racial landscape and the complexities of issues faced by African- Americans.
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic, Between the World and Me is a riveting analysis into racism in the United States. The book takes you through a historical journey through real events in American history as experienced by the African-American community.
Directed by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, 13th is a thought-provoking documentary that takes a deep long look into the history of United States’ prison system – revealing racial inequality, prejudice, and the disproportionate number of African-Americans who have been incarcerated. Available on Netflix, this powerful film tells an important story to all who will watch and listen.
Based on James Baldwin’s uncompleted manuscript, I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary explored through the notes and letters of Baldwin in the 1970s. The memoir touches on racism in the United States as well as the deaths of Baldwin’s close friends and civil rights leaders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evans.
Based on the events of a true story, When They See Us is a web television miniseries that premiered in 2019. The series tells the story of the wrongful conviction of five African-American teenagers, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana, after a jogger was brutally attacked in Central Park in 1989.
Hosted by journalists of colour, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. The fearless conversations explore how race impacts every part of society – from politics, pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.
Slay in Your Lane: The Podcast comes from multi-award-winning authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, who rose to prominence with their pioneering guide to life for young Black Women. The podcast explores topical news and popular culture from a Black British female perspective while expanding upon many of the same themes addressed in the book.
This podcast digs into stories that are not always shared out in the open. Hosts Leila Day and Hana Baba start conversations about what it means to be black and how we talk about blackness. It’s a celebration of black joy with a mission to dig deeper into stories that we don’t hear enough about.
Foreseeable is a podcast by Global-is-Asian, the flagship digital platform of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Each episode addresses a different social or cultural issue in Singapore, with local and international experts sharing their thoughts, opinions and predictions. Tune in to their episode on racial integration in Singapore, particularly poignant in the current international climate.
Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them – to tears, awe and anger. Episodes like “Being Black in the Age of Wokeness” and “Still Processing: Being Biracial” are not to be missed.
Check out the rest of our blog here for the latest updates on current affairs, travel and wellness trends.
As global travel restrictions continue across the world, the prospect of a holiday still seems very far away. However, according to research, cabin fever can be cured by looking ahead and planning a future trip – here are a few of Scott Dunn’s dreamworthy destinations to inspire wanderlust for your next vacation!
Destinations that offer wide-open spaces, nature and off-grid adventures are poised to be popular amongst travellers when travel resumes. Bespoke travel operator, Scott Dunn offers a hassle-free vacation for guests with every detail is looked after by their expert Travel Consultants – from flights to visas and packing lists! Travellers can look forward to journeying to a range of inspiring destinations with Scott Dunn’s exclusive itineraries that offer unforgettable encounters such as witnessing the magnificent Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, getting up-close-and-personal with Canada’s diverse wildlife and trekking through Chile’s breathtaking landscapes. Prepare to be inspired!
Discover Africa’s magnificent wildlife: Scott Dunn’s Tanzania and Rwanda in Ultimate Luxury itinerary combines two bucket list wildlife experiences, the great migration of wildebeest in the Serengeti and trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Guests will enjoy stays at Singita Faru Faru Lodge in Tanzania and Singita Kwitonda Lodge, which opened last August on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Scott Dunn advise that travellers should leave plenty of time to plan this trip and book at least 1 year in advance as the annual migration crosses the Serengeti in the summer months and there are only a finite amount of annual trekking permits through Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park.
Encounter Canada’s Bears and Whales: Scott Dunn’s Whales and Bears of British Colombia itinerary takes visitors off-the-beaten-track to spot some of Canada’s diverse wildlife including black bears, sea lions, migrating whales and grizzly bears. Another itinerary that is best booked a year in advance as this trip includes staying at small, boutique hotels with limited rooms – don’t miss out on your opportunity to witness these incredible animals!
Delve into Israel’s Past: Steeped in history, Israel is a melting pot of history, culture and religion. Scott Dunn’s A Week in Israel allows guests to journey to Israel’s key sites including Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv. Guests will enjoy exclusive activities including a cable car ride to the impressive Masada Fortress, where travellers will marvel at the breathtaking views across Israel’s desert landscape and the mesmerising Dead Sea.
For more travel inspiration on destinations to visit post-pandemic, visit our blog here!
We’re all raring to book the next flight out of here for that holiday we’ve been dreaming of, however there is no question that the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world of travel on its head. Travel restrictions, social distancing measures, and extreme sanitisation protocols are in abundance. Few countries have been spared from the detrimental impact of Covid-19, and even when its effects begin to wear off, we can only expect a new normal to surface in the way we travel, and with it new changes to adapt to.
What will travel look like in a post-pandemic world? The V&VPR team spoke to industry experts, and gathered top travel trends to look out for:
The Creation of Travel Bubbles to Boost Regional Tourism
As there is little clarity as to when a vaccine for the virus will be produced, several countries have begun to look into ‘travel bubbles’ to promote regional tourism. “The general consensus is the local market will recover first, as we’ve seen in China, then regional travel, then international,” says Raini Hamdi, Editor-at-Large of Skift, the global travel industry intelligence platform.
Australia and New Zealand have already begun discussing plans for a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ between both countries, and an article by The Guardian noted that this travel bubble could come into effect as soon as September 2020. What does this mean for the average traveller? Well, the good news is that we might be jetting out of here sooner than we might expect, but epic across-the-globe holiday plans might have to be put on hold for now.
Meaningful and Down-To-Earth Experiences Will Be Greatly Sought After
The pandemic has certainly shifted our priorities in many ways. While most placed emphasis on activities and experiences promoting self-fulfilment and self-actualisation in the past, many are now realising the value of time spent with family and loved ones, having meaningful experiences and moving through the world with purpose.
“We’ve already noticed a change in the consumption of content (digitally) where fans are actively seeking inspirational content, and we believe that the value of luxury in the future will focus on a far simpler way of life,” notes Lindy Rousseau, the CMO of Singita – the conservation and ecotourism brand that has been preserving African wilderness for the past 26 years. “We believe that when travel returns to normal, tourism will rebound quickly, especially to places such as Singita, where guests can immerse themselves in nature and connect with each other, appreciating the simpler things in life – travel, family and peaceful solace in nature.”
Travel Journalist Grace Ma echoes similar sentiments. “Such difficulties would make us cherish cleaner air, greener spaces and clearer seas at our destinations even more,” she remarks. “Because the journey takes so much effort, we’d pick imbibing the spirit of the destination over being superficially impressed by ostentatious displays of luxury.”
There Will Be a Demand for Wellness & Health-conscious Travel
Taking a proactive approach to health has jumped up on the list of priorities. Pre-Covid-19, wellness tourism was already booming, with the Global Wellness Institute reporting in 2018 that it is now a $639 billion industry out of the overall $4.5 trillion wellness market. With no vaccine available yet, wellness tourism is poised to grow even more as travellers place emphasis on making choices that benefit physical and mental wellbeing – and the travel and hospitality industry will have to continue to evolve to meet the demands. Does this mean more balanced and nutritious hotel and restaurant menus? Hiking excursions in the great outdoors? Yoga and other forms of meditation to clear the mind and soothe the soul? Absolutely.
“People are taking a much more proactive approach to wellbeing – far more preventative rather than treating the issue,” observes Lynda Williams, Founder & Managing Director of VIM & VIGOUR PR. “Boosting the immune system isn’t just about diet and vitamin C tablets, but a balanced lifestyle which includes better sleep, less stress and the right exercise. Wellness resorts can offer all of this in a transformative way but the best ones, also equip guests with the right tools to carry on their new habits way after check-out.”
High Standards of Hygiene & Safety Will Be An Expectation
As the luxury travel and hospitality industry prepares for reopening, it will be an expectation that health and hygiene measures are taken seriously in order to establish trust between guest and organization. Such measures are already being communicated through various communication channels and will become the norm for the foreseeable future.
“Privacy and sanitization throughout the consumer journey as well as contactless service (where possible) will be a key focus,” says Mike Harlow, the General Manager of Scott Dunn Singapore. “Destinations need to assure travellers that they are open for business and are upkeeping high standards for safety and health with well-equipped and functioning medical facilities, essentially abating fears and reinforcing that it is safe to come explore.”
Dean Winters, Managing Director of Swire Hotels whose properties predominately span across Greater China comments: “We are prepared to be welcoming back our guests and our top priority will centre around providing a safe and comfortable environment while delivering uplifting experiences,” he says. “We believe this is of utmost importance, as travellers will place an emphasis on safety and cleanliness more now than ever before.”
Anticipate a Rise in Sustainable Travel & Ecotourism
Conscious travel will be on the rise as tourism recovers. In recent years, travellers have already begun to take notice of the impact that their jet setting habits can have on the environment – but now coupled with the visible positive benefits the lockdown has had on pollution levels, clearer seas, flora and fauna, it is hoped that consumers will travel responsibly and think carefully of how they want to move through the world.
“Luxury travellers will be more discerning about the places they go and accommodations they stay in. They would gravitate towards those that are thoughtfully local – made with materials from the locality, reflective of local culture, and supportive of the immediate community, ” says Grace Ma.
Check out the rest of our blog here for the latest updates on travel and wellness.
Kindness and community have never been so important. During these unprecedented times there has been an amazing rise in incredible thoughtful kindness from individuals, brands and companies to support those in need throughout the pandemic. The impact of the Covid-19 virus has changed our outlook and the way we live our lives, shining a light on the importance of human connection and a sense of community.
Check out some of the amazing Singaporean companies, international brands and donors that are giving back during this time – from helping frontline health professionals to building lifesaving machinery and assisting less fortunate members of the community.
- #HOMEFORALL Campaign at Straits Clan – The Lo & Behold Group’s members club has forged a partnership with the Collective of Migrant Efforts among other NGOs and agencies for their #HOMEFORALL campaign. The initiative aims to help Singapore’s migrant workers with food support during the Covid-19 pandemic. Chefs Daniel Sia and Damian D’Silva have been working hard to prepare 450 meals per day, 7 days a week from the Clan Community Kitchen to the Goldmine Energy Tuas Factory-Converted Dormitory (FCD) and Eng Soon Dormitory. For more information on how to donate please visit their website.
- Beng Who Cooks for the needy – Jason Chua and Zhen Long have started Beng Who Cooks, preparing meals for anyone in the community who is unable to afford meals during this pandemic. The young hawkers are rustling up Singapore-style Poke bowls for those in need and pairing meals with drinks from their neighbouring stall at Hong Lim Market and Food Centre.
- Lunch Boxes from Alma – Executive Chef at Michelin-starred Alma, Haikal Johari assists medical professionals by providing twice weekly lunch boxes for the staff at National University Hospital. Partnering with the popular Woodlands Sourdough bakery, each box contains Angus beef burgers, beef pastrami sandwiches and sourdough sandwiches piled high with delights including roasted cauliflower, hummus and smoked cheese.
- SGPaySitForward with Ninja Van and Night Owl Cinematics – An initiative that enables everyone to give back to the community. People can buy a $25 care pack which will then be delivered by Ninja Van couriers to the doorsteps of vulnerable individuals and families in Singapore. The care packs include items that will stop the spread of Covid-19 such as hand sanitiser, surgical masks and antibacterial products. Their aim is to distribute 100,000 care packages by 1st June, visit their website to donate.
- Food support by DBS Bank – Singapore based DBS Bank has donated an incredible S$2.5 million towards food support for the city’s most vulnerable groups. This has been used to give out more than 200,000 meals to the elderly and low-income families through The Food Bank. The initiative has also supported ItsRainingRaincoats by providing more than 100,000 meals to Singapore’s migrant workers.
- Qatar Airways assists healthcare professionals – The airline gave away 100,000 free tickets to healthcare professionals, in a bid to thank them for their amazing work throughout this pandemic. Throughout April, Qatar Airways Cargo increased their around-the-globe services by transporting 50 million kilograms of medical supplies and aid relief to impacted regions.
- General Electric and Ford create ventilators – These companies have joined together to manufacture the life-saving devices at a facility in Michigan, America. An expected 50,000 ventilators will be made with different settings to help improve blood-oxygen levels.
- PPE by H&M – When fashion giant H&M shut their doors, they pivoted to assist those in need within their communities. As well as donating to local charities, the H&M Group began producing personal protective equipment to hospitals.
- Jack Ma’s donation to curb Covid-19 – Co-founder and former Executive Chairman of Chinese technology corporation Alibaba Group, Jack Ma has donated millions towards the coronavirus vaccine research, as well as putting together a handbook of medical expertise from his home Zhejiang province in China. Ma has also ensured a major widespread operation through providing medical supplies, such as face masks and lifesaving equipment, to more than 150 countries.
- Twitter and Square CEO pledges $1 billion donation – The biggest donor so far within the coronavirus pandemic is Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square. Dorsey has already donated (at time of publishing) US$87 million out of his US$1 billion pledge.
- Captain Sir Tom Moore raises over £32 million for NHS Charities – A heartwarming story of an incredible 100-year-old war veteran who walked laps around his 25m garden in Bedfordshire, England. Tom’s initial plan was to raise £1,000 for the NHS, however he eventually raised an amazing £32,794,701 from more than one and a half million supporters. To mark his fundraising efforts and to celebrate his 100th Birthday, the Queen has awarded him with a knighthood as Honoury Colonel.
For more information on Covid-19 topics, please visit our blog here!
Throughout the past month, the number of Covid-19 patients in Singapore has surged. Worryingly, the vast majority of those infected have been Singapore’s migrant workers living in dormitories. To curb the spread, these accommodations have been declared as isolation areas and unsurprisingly, many have also been identified as Covid-19 clusters.
The climbing toll aside — at publishing, Singapore has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia — the Covid-19 outbreak has also brought migrant workers’ cramped living conditions to light globally. Many Singaporeans came to truly understand the living situation of the country’s 400,000 migrant workers for the first time, including financial insecurity and lack of access to healthcare, on top of cramped conditions.
A silver lining is that many in the local community started to ask the same question: how can I help our unsung heroes? Studies have shown that how we choose to spend our money or time impacts our happiness and emotional well-being. Evidently, giving to those less privileged than us activates the reward area of the brain which makes us feel happy.
A number of volunteer-run organisations as well as charities in Singapore have rallied together to assist our migrant workers with daily necessities while they’re in isolation; from monetary contributions, donation drives for meals, snacks, beverages, games, clothing, data cards and more are also ongoing in our city. We’ve highlighted some ways that you can help. We ask that you consider extending a helping hand to our migrant workers who build our roads, our buildings, and ultimately, our city — for which, we are deeply grateful.
- Migrant x Me is a social enterprise that is committed to raising awareness of the migrant worker community. Continuing to build an inclusive Singapore through fundraising efforts, donations go towards long-term education programmes, emergency funds for workers in need, future events to bridge the local and migrant communities. Throughout this pandemic, the money has also gone towards forming care packages including data top ups, vitamins and masks.
- Healthserve is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing healing and hope to migrant workers. Through their medical clinics, casework, social assistance, advocacy, research and outreach programmes they work to address the complex and intertwined needs of migrant workers – from medical to legal, physical to emotional, mental to social. All donations from 10th April will be directed to HealthServe’s general fund to support their operations that helps more than 10,000 migrant workers every year. All outright cash donations for $50 or more will receive from IRAS 2.5 times the value in tax-deduction.
- Migrant Workers’ Centre is a non-government organisation whose mission is to champion fair employment practices and the well-being of Singapore’s migrant workers. MWC has set up a fundraising campaign where charitable donations will go towards food and accommodation costs as well as everyday essentials such as toiletries. It has also partnered with Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach to distribute care meals and packs to more than 250 dormitories.
- TWC2 is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to promoting equitable treatment for migrant workers, they strive to help workers through difficulty and throughout this pandemic they have been assisting in a number of different ways. You can donate through their giving page and the money goes towards phone top-ups so that the workers can speak to their families and friends back home.
- Majulah Belanja has joined together with other charities to raise funds and collect goods. The charity is focusing on addressing immediate needs such as food, basic necessities, promoting meaningful occupational engagement for health & well-being and consolidating resources for an online support hub. Volunteers can assist to ensure that the needs of those in Singapore’s dormitories are met through answering requests on their website – from phone chargers, to fans and toiletries.
- ItsRainingRaincoats is an initiative that aims to spread kindness to migrant workers in Singapore by improving the lives of workers through imaginative, innovative and authentic strategies. They recently launched Mad Wish, Making A Difference While I Stay Home. At this time, where migrant workers are stuck in isolation and the vast majority of the Singapore workforce works from home, the organisation launched a remote programme for learning English. As many migrant workers have expressed interest in improving their English, it is an ideal time to skill up. Conducted purely online, anyone can volunteer as long as you can speak English and can spare 45 minutes a week!
- City of Good is a vision of a Singapore where individuals, organisations and leaders come together to give their best for others. It is run by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. The #SGUnited portal has been put together by NVPC after consulting with charities on their needs. There is also an online form specifically for donating in-kind to migrant workers.
- It’s Raining Raincoats is also pooling volunteers and resources together to match donors and migrant workers. They update their social media channels regularly as they have their ear to the ground on changing daily needs. For more information on how you can help, follow their social media channels for details on donating goods such as old phones, games, colouring pencils and more.
- #CYC300kMaskChallenge is run by heritage made-to-measure tailor CYC. If you have a sewing machine and some basic skills, we urge you to join the movement. CYC provides the template for anyone who can commit to making 300 masks in 10 days or less. While they have enough volunteers for now, those interested can still sign up to be part of their waiting list or database for future needs.
For more inspiration to get you through this circuit breaker, check out the rest of our blog here.
We are well into the last month of circuit breaker, and while staying at home has had its own challenges, we’re looking forward to stepping into better days as our world starts to recover. That being said, if you’ve done all there is you’ve wanted to do at home, and need a little more inspiration to help get you through this last lap here are some ideas and activities the V&VPR team have put together to help you survive – and even enjoy – the remaining weeks of lockdown.
Keep Positive by Practicing Gratitude
Need some perking up to help you stay afloat in all this gloom and doom? Spend some time focusing on the things you know you’re grateful for. As mentioned in our previous blogpost on Wellness in the time of Coronavirus, practicing gratitude is an amazing way to overcome feelings of anxiety and helplessness in this current climate. Keep a journal and write down three things you’re grateful for every day, or even take it one step further and write gratitude letters for friends and loved ones that you appreciate which you can send via snail mail to make their day.
Declutter Your Home
There’s no better time to reorganize that mess in your house you’ve been putting off for a while now. Whether it’s that dusty old guest bedroom you need to clear or the mountain of items you haven’t used in more than two years – now is the perfect time to declutter. Do you really still need ten different coffee mugs or that old skirt you’ve been keeping since your university days? If it doesn’t spark joy, toss it out! Maintaining a tidy home can turn it into a sanctuary that will make rest and relaxation a breeze whilst also giving you more time, space and energy to focus on other priorities.
Learn How to Prep Healthy Meals
Once the circuit breaker is over, one of the most important skills you can step away with is learning how to throw together healthy, nutritious meals to help you support a healthy immune system. If you don’t usually cook, the next few weeks is the best time to pick up your pots and pans and get cracking in the kitchen. Check out these 3-ingredient recipes from Shape magazine, ranging from Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon to Quickie Crab Cakes that you can whip up in a heartbeat – these are great to take along to work as well when it’s time to head back to the office.
Sweat it Out
If you’re feeling restless from staying indoors or looking to tone up and get some ab definition for when pools and beaches are back open, consider taking on fitness challenges or virtual workout sessions that you can carry out from indoors. For beginners, check out Chloe Ting’s trending 2 Week Shred Challenge ranging from just 10 to 40 minute workouts a day – it’s absolutely free, and all you need is a fitness mat to help you get closer to your goals. Take it up a notch with Kayla Itsines famous 12 week Bikini Body Challenge which you can find on her SWEAT app, boasting affordable subscriptions starting from just $0.33 USD a day.
Also consider supporting local businesses by joining in on their virtual fitness classes, so you can do your part to help the economy whilst staying at home! We recommend signing up for F45’s 45 Day Challenge where you’ll have access to daily 45 minute workouts; UFIT’s daily live 30-minute long virtual classes with programmes ranging from Stretch, Pilates, Build and Burn; and WeBarre’s enjoyable hour-long classes that range from $12/class or $35/week.
Explore the World from Your Armchair
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you’re completely cut off from the wonders of travel. With the help of today’s technology, there are plenty of ways to see the world that are available at just the touch of a button. Take part in amazing virtual experiences offered by some of the world’s top hotels, resorts and destinations such as Singita’s virtual game drives where you can get up close with some of Africa’s incredible wildlife; the Sydney Opera House’s digital initiative – From Our House To Yours, featuring full-length performances and talks; and Capella Ubud’s Jamu-making tutorial video based on the all-natural, anti-inflammatory juice that has been a known tonic in Indonesia for centuries.
Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
Finally, make the best of the time you have with friends and family. Whether you’re cooped in the same house, or miles and miles apart, an opportunity for quality time like this is unlikely to come by again soon. Binge an entire series on Netflix together, take part in quizzes and virtual games, solve a 1,000-piece puzzle – the possibilities are endless. Need a few games to get you started? Create your own quiz to play with loved ones on Kahoot!; check out Skribblio – our favourite multiplayer drawing and guessing game or get whisked away to stunning NSW landscapes and adorable wildlife with these virtual jigsaw puzzles.
For more inspiration to get you through this circuit breaker, check out the rest of our blog here.
Two weeks ago, the Singapore government announced an extended ‘circuit breaker’ period in Singapore with the hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19 — this “soft lockdown” means that the vast majority of the country is working from home, limiting outdoor activities to ‘essentials only’ and for those with access to technology, using those tools to stay in touch with family and friends.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only shaken the economy, but the prolonged period of isolation and social distancing have certainly taken a toll on mental health, giving rise to higher levels of anxiety and depression. Locally, it was reported that over 6,600 calls have been made to the National Care Hotline in Singapore, after it had been set up for just two weeks.
It has never been more important to prioritise our mental health. At V&VPR, we often talk about the importance of holistic wellness and the effects of each choice we make having an impact on our overall wellbeing. It’s understandably easier to care less, or indulge more, when it comes to our food and drink choices these days. Coupled with news of consumer alcohol sales going up during the Circuit Breaker period, we wanted to understand more about the relation between our food and drink choices and our mental health.
We brought together Asher Low, co-founder of Singapore non-profit organisation Limitless — whom V&VPR supports on a pro-bono basis — as well as nutritionist and host, Charlotte Mei, on Instagram Live to chat about their experiences during the Circuit Breaker; tools for coping, and how eating right and working out always makes us feel better. Asher is a certified social worker who founded Limitless to help youths in the fight against mental illness, poverty and social inequality. Follow Limitless on Instagram for the full conversation available soon on IGTV. In the meantime, read on for highlights of the interview.
Part 1: Fighting Cabin Fever — Stay Connected, Keep Moving, Keep Learning
Four weeks into the Circuit Breaker and with another month to go, many of us have started experiencing cabin fever syndrome, a distressing feeling of restlessness and irritability from extended periods of staying indoors. To combat these unsettling feelings, Asher suggests to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do: keep in touch with friends and loved ones on a regular basis albeit virtually over the multitude of apps and video conferencing platforms available such as Houseparty and Zoom. Our personal favourite is virtual movie night with Netflix Party. Both Asher and Charlotte support a regular fitness routine for improved mental health — in fact, keep it fun and exercise with friends on-screen to provide you with added motivation!
Another common feeling you may experience in lockdown is a loss of control. It is overwhelming to feel like while you may be doing your best to keep safe and healthy, there may still be other factors outside of your power – for example, having a family member or housemate working in essential services that has a higher risk of exposure to Covid-19, having your entire daily routine turned on its head, or feeling like your space is encroached on since the home is perpetually ‘full’ now. Asher and Charlotte recommend taking back control by focusing on productivity. Choose habits and hobbies that you’ve never tried before such as cooking a new dish outside of your repertoire, learning how to play a music instrument or picking up a new language online. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to be high achieving all the time – setting small goals for yourself is an excellent way of providing a sense of focus and purpose. The objective here is to try — don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve all your goals for the day. “If you slip up or are just having a bad day, it’s okay. Stay positive and pick yourself up,” Charlotte advised. “Look back and find out what your triggers are and come up with solutions to cope with those moments.”
And if you have the privilege of space, having just one spot that solely belongs to you can also drastically help with feelings of control. Whether it’s having your own work desk, your own bed to return to, or a corner of the living room that no one else can intrude upon, can make a significant difference in your mood.
Exercise is also an amazing coping mechanism especially right now as it produces endorphins that trigger positive feelings. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going for a long run or doing an hour-long workout – doing something small is better than doing nothing at all. We enjoy Nike Training Club for its free workouts that start from just 5 minutes! If you’re not feeling up for exercise, how about cleaning up your room instead? Decluttering is a great way to physically and mentally detox, and burn some calories while you’re at it!
Anxiety and feelings of depression are common issues faced by many around the world right now – unsurprisingly, the Limitless team has also been receiving a higher number of messages and calls during the Circuit Breaker period. Asher and Charlotte both agree that a good way to try and overcome the feeling of helplessness is to practice gratitude – don’t dwell on the negatives but instead, try and keep track of the good things. This doesn’t mean to be aloof or avoid the situation, but to take a moment and understand that while it is a difficult time, it is only temporary and there are many things we can look forward to in the future. A few easy ways to practice gratitude: keep a journal and write down three highlights of your day every day — these can be things that you’re grateful for, goals you’ve reached; or as Charlotte has been doing this year, simply write down one achievement — whether you deem them big or small — on your calendar daily.
Part 2: Eat Well, Feel Better
Diet and mental health are very intertwined, and food should be seen as a positive aspect of life. However, in today’s world consuming food is almost always portrayed as a fattening or guilty activity, and this has caused a lot of disordered eating and anxiety in people. Eating right can vastly boost your mental health, and spending some time cooking healthy meals for or with your loved ones can be an excellent bonding activity.
Let’s start by reframing our relationship with food. Charlotte’s key piece of advice is to not have a restrictive diet, instead focus on good ingredients you can add to your meals (rather than reminding yourself of what you shouldn’t eat). Food should be seen as a form of enjoyment, and an activity that brings people together. It is intrinsically good, providing us with the energy and nutrition we need to survive, and we have license to enjoy it to the fullest – but in moderation. “Make peace with your relationship with food, and this will translate to your relationships with people as well,” she says.
The portrayal of healthy eating in the media often calls to mind boring salads, steamed foods and high price points. Charlotte debunks this by noting that healthy food can come in many different forms and cuisines – and can be vibrant and wallet-friendly as well. In Singapore, a common staple for many of us is cai png, which literally translates to rice with dishes, available at almost every hawker centre and neighbourhood coffee shop. This economically friendly meal is not known for being particularly healthy, but Charlotte considers this an acceptable option, if we turn the concept on its head: Based on the plate concept, we swop the ‘base’ of white rice — which usually takes up at least half the plate — for vegetables instead; a quarter plate of rice, and a quarter plate of protein (opt for healthier options like steamed fish, tofu, or stir fried meat). This ensures a nutrient-dense, filling meal.
Right now, making frequent trips to your corner cai png stall may not be the most viable option, so Charlotte also suggests healthy, affordable ingredients to add to your diet at home. As a trained nutritionist, Charlotte candidly states that scientifically, there is no such thing as a ‘superfood’ (Note: We checked, and yes it is purely a marketing term) — so don’t worry about being able to spend on pricier items like chia seeds, kale, and blueberries. We have perfectly nutritious options in our backyard — that is, easily accessible via wet markets and supermarkets. Leafy vegetables like chye sim and watercress, and plenty of fruit like apples and oranges, should form the base of our diets. Canned foods can be healthy as well! It’s not necessary to buy whole fresh fish to get your vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, instead consider shelf-stable canned tuna, mackerel and sardines. Canned beans and canned corn are also an amazing, versatile additions to your pantry.
Want to whip up a quick, deliciously healthy recipe? Charlotte shares her favourite 3-ingredient meal, starring her ultimate go-to ingredient: eggs!
Egg & Cucumber Toast
Time: 10 minutes
- 2 eggs
- Slice of bread — sourdough is ideal, but bread that you have will do
- ½ cucumber
- Using a mandolin or knife, slice cucumber thinly.
- Toast bread (butter optional)
- Prepare eggs to your preference — scrambled, hard boil, poached, etc
- Assemble sliced cucumbers on toast, top with eggs, and add salt and pepper to taste
For more information on Limitless and their services visit their website here.
If you are coping with anxiety and depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to the helplines below.
Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH): 1800 283 7019
Emergency Helpline (IMH): 6389 2222
SOS (Samaritans of Singapore): 1800 221 4444
Check out the rest of our blog here for more tips and inspiration to get you through quarantine.
On days where nothing seems sure, there’s nothing better than stepping into your kitchen and whipping up your favourite comfort food knowing with absolute certainty that you won’t be disappointed.
We’ve gathered top no-fail recipes from each of the V&VPR team members to provide you with cooking inspiration that will warm your spirit.
Charissa’s Pick: One Bowl Chocolate Cake
“Who doesn’t like chocolate?” – Charissa
This simple chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen is fuss-free and takes less than an hour and a half to make.
- 1/2 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (190 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (60 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- Heat your oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a standard loaf pan. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan.
- Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if you’re feeling fancy.
Olivia’s Pick: Shrimp Saganaki
“It’s super easy to make but makes me feel like I’m on vacation when I eat it!” – Olivia
This savoury dish is so good, it’ll be on your mind for days after. Follow Olivia’s mouthwatering recipe for Shrimp Saganaki here:
- 300g raw king prawns (ideally with the heads & tails on)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tin tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 handful fresh dill
- 1 glass of white wine
- 1 handful of feta cheese
- Chili flakes, dried oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil
- Warm a frying pan on a medium heat, add oil and crush the garlic into the pan
- Once the garlic has started to brown slightly, throw in the prawns, chilli flakes, oregano, salt and pepper
- Once the prawns have turned pink and just start to curl, take them out and place to one side
- Add a glass of wine to the pan and simmer away
- Throw in all of the cherry tomatoes, leave to reduce for 1-2 mins and then add the tinned tomatoes
- Stir and leave to cook for a couple of minutes
- Tear up the dill and add to the pan
- By the time the cherry toms are soft and cooked, the whole thing should be ready
- Pop your prawns back into the mix and stir around
- Crumble over the feta cheese and serve
Samantha’s Pick: Basque Burnt Cheesecake
“My motto this circuit breaker is Keep Calm & Have Cake. This cheesecake is so light and fluffy, it goes perfectly with a good cup of coffee to perk you up in the morning.” – Samantha
Butter Milk Pantry’s recipe for Basque Burnt Cheesecake is quick and easy and will leave your house smelling like a bakery.
- 430g cream cheese, room temperature
- 120g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 270g heavy cream
- 20g cake flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Line 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.
- Beat sugar and cream cheese together on medium until smooth and you can’t feel the sugar granules any longer. Scrape the bowl.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium until smooth. Scrape the bowl again to ensure that nothing sticks to the sides for even mixing.
- Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just mixed.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour and cream until smooth.
- Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture whilst the mixer is beating on low until mixed through. Increase speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds just to ensure it’s all combined.
- Bake at 240C for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give the pan a jiggle.
- Let cool in the tin fully on a wire rack to allow the cheesecake to set.
- Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.
Rosie’s Pick: Tomato Curry
“This is my comfort food, as I know the recipe off by heart. I don’t have to think when I’m throwing it together and it’s pretty quick to make – great after a long day. I love the mixture of tomatoes and veggies and how wholesome and warming it is.” – Rosie
A good bowl of curry is like medicine to the soul. Rosie’s tomato curry recipe an amazing pick-me-up to have any time of the week.
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped/crushed
- 750g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 2 handful’s spinach, washed
- ¼ cup of red lentils
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- Dash of chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- Fry onion and garlic together in a pan until translucent
- Add in cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes and stir
- Add in 1 cup of water and red lentils
- Add in chilli powder, chilli flakes and turmeric powder
- Stir well and leave to simmer for approximately 10 mins, stirring from time to time
- Add in spinach and season
- Take off heat when lentils are fully cooked through and serve with brown rice
Tiffany’s Pick: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns With Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze
“I have regular cravings for any baked goods that feature cinnamon and this recipe might just be my favourite one. It uses the natural sweetness of sweet potato to get that delicious syrupy flavour, making it less guilty than most cinnamon bun recipes. The process of kneading the dough is also incredibly therapeutic – almost as good as eating the end product!” – Tiffany
Pillowy-soft cinnamon buns are just a short bake away with this recipe by Samantha Seneviratne from Food52.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for bowl and skillet
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup roasted and puréed sweet potato flesh (from 1 potato)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting, if necessary
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pepita filling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 ounces pepitas (2/3 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
- Prepare the dough: In a small pot, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Watch closely to ensure that the milk doesn’t boil over. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pot to melt. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let it cool to 110° to 115°F. (It should be warm to the touch, but not too hot.) Add the egg and sweet potato purée and stir to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, combine the flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm milk mixture and mix just until incorporated.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed (or knead with your hands) until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a buttered bowl, cover it, and leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
- Prepare the cinnamon filling: Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and mash to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Prepare the pepita filling: Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pepitas and salt and cook until lightly browned and popping, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar has melted and coated the pepitas, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and let cool.
- Butter the cast-iron pan. Tip out the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 12 x 11–inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the surface. Break up the sugared pepitas into smaller pieces and sprinkle over the cinnamon filling. Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the top seam closed. With a serrated knife, cut the roll crosswise into 10 equal pieces. Set them in the pan, spirals facing upward. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest until the dough has almost doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown and puffed and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 185° to 190°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Cook the butter in a small skillet over medium heat until the milk solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the freezer until cool and just beginning to solidify.
- Beat the chilled butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is exactly as thick as you like it.
- Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then top with glaze. Let cool slightly before serving.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of comfort food recipes. Check out the rest of our blog here for more ideas and inspiration to get you through quarantine.
Listening to podcasts are an ideal to pass the time when cooped up at home during this Covid-19 pandemic. Offering an alternative to visual entertainment, podcasts can transport listeners to another realm, educate, entertain and inform. Here are some of V&VPR top 5 favourite podcasts:
A favourite, this podcast is hosted by DJ Lauren Laverne features notable guests who she ‘sends’ to a desert island. A story of their life, each guest gives eight tracks, a book and a luxury that they would take to their desert island. Guests include a range of incredible people from Footballer Ian Wright, to Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. The series goes back to early 1940s, and so there’s a plethora of editions to listen to. Be sure to listen to the incredible David Nott, who shares his experience as a Doctor in disaster and war zones. Sit back and enjoy as stars share the soundtrack of their lives.
A current affairs podcast that brings you up to date with the latest news and happenings each week day. The Daily’s host is celebrated journalist Michael Barbaro of The New York Times who summarises emerging news stories and discusses cultural issues with guests.
Singer song-writer Jessie Ware co-hosts this hilarious podcast about food and family with her fabulous mother, Lennie. Each week guests from the worlds of entertainment, culture and politics drop by for a bite and a chat.
A thrilling listen, Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder have co-created this investigative journalism podcast. The anthology features three different seasons, each one focused on a different true crime story. If you haven’t listened to it yet, this is a great and binge-worthy podcast to get you through the next few weeks.
The popular New York Times column that was recently turned into an acclaimed TV series on Amazon. This podcast features notable personalities reading the popular columns about the stories and mysteries of modern love. At the end of each episode, each hosts interviews the original writers to discuss post-column life and love.
For more inspiration to get you through isolation, visit the rest of our blog here!
Take this stay-at-home period as the perfect opportunity to practice more self-care and self-love. To help give your mind and body a boost of TLC, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to transform your home into a glorious, luxury hotel spa for the day!
07:00AM – MEDITATE
Start the day with Singita’s inspiring sunrise meditation.
Lead by Singita’s Wellness Manager, Renée Rosettenstein, this session will ensure viewers relax and commence the day de-stressed and invigorated. Accompanied with a beautiful shot of the rising sun over the expansive African wilderness, this calming meditation is the ultimate way to welcome a new day.
10:00AM – PREP
Create your own sanctuary.
Scent is vital in recreating a spa experience, and our top pick is the Volcanic Stone Diffuser from Curators Collective in Jugiong, NSW that releases the essential oils of amber and spices. Adding a few drops of essential oil to these black volcanic stones permeates the air with soothing, therapeutic fragrance. Get yours through this link.
Next, get comfy with soft, delicate matching pyjamas. Located deep in wine country, Edited and Co, is a boutique in Mudgee that sells sophisticated, soft-to-touch fleece tops and track pants worthy of that opulent at-home spa day you have planned. Available in grey and vintage white for a sophisticated feel, shop for a pair of chic and comfortable pyjamas here.
11:00AM – FACE
Face mists are a wonderful way to rejuvenate and refresh your skin at the start of the day.
Using this simple recipe from Capella Singapore, you can prep your own bottle of Cucumber Mint Face Mist using natural ingredients such as cucumber, mint and lemon. Cucumber has vitamin C which can help soothe skin and keep it revitalized; while lemon promotes an even skin tone, and mint has anti-inflammatory properties – a perfect combination for maintaining a healthy glow with or without makeup.
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 bag of mint tea
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1 spray bottle
- Juice the cucumber and add in the lemon juice.
- Steep the mint tea bag in hot water for 5 minutes. Allow tea to cool.
- Combine the cucumber-lemon juice and cooled tea together in a spray bottle.
- Store in a spray bottle in the refrigerator.
- Use to start and end the day and as many times in-between.
13:00PM – SCRUB
An at-home spa day just isn’t complete without a luxurious body scrub.
Aside from helping you keep your skin soft, smooth and hydrated, body scrubs also aid in stimulating blood circulation and improving the overall tone and health of your skin. Capella Singapore divulges the recipe to their Himalayan Salt Scrub with ingredients such as grapefruit essential oil that will help to stimulate the lymphatic system and eliminate excess water. It also helps to boost circulation and diminish the appearance of cellulite.
- 1 Cup Himalayan Salt
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Container or Jar
- Combine Salt, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil together in a bowl.
- Add in Grapefruit Essential Oil to your preference.
- Put mixture into a container.
- To use take into shower and apply to body in circular motions. Focus on elbows, knees, feet etc. as needed. Rinse with lukewarm water.
*Note of Caution as this has oil it can make surfaces slippery
Lips require care and attention as well, and this quick-and-easy scrub is especially useful for preventing dry and chapped lips, ensuring you always look lovely and fresh for your next Zoom meeting. Capella Singapore’s DIY Coconut & Honey Lip Scrub is great for keeping your lips soft, exfoliated and hydrated.
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 5 drops Essential oil of choice (Citrus is good)
- 1/2 Tbsp Warm Water
- Combine Coconut Oil and Honey together.
- Add in Sugar, Essential oil and Warm Water for correct consistency.
- Put mixture into a container. Store in the refrigerator.
- To use rub on your lips in a circular motion for two minutes, rinse with lukewarm water.
15:00PM – SKIN
While the popular Endota Spa in the Southern Highlands town of Bowral, NSW is closed at the moment, you can now jump online and pick up amazing Endota products that will help you achieve that glorious glow at home. Their Brightening New Age Mini Kit contains cleansing gel, a detox mask, brightening serum, eye cream and firming moisturiser for a mini facial you can do yourself.
Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, NSW has its own luxurious Bouddi spa pack that you can purchase online which uses essential oils inspired by the Bouddi (meaning ‘heart’ in the local Aboriginal language) wilderness. The pack contains a body wash and body lotion hand blended and packaged at Bells Day Spa with ingredients such as Orange, Rose Geramium & Patchouli essence.
17:00PM – EAT
End your spa day right with a nutritious meal, inspired by nature.
Singita’s menus are known for offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes, and new health bowls have been introduced alongside natural infusions and loose-leaf teas. To finish your day of wellness on a good note, re-create the taste of Singita with this recipe for Sweni Lodge Beetroot Tart.
- 250g cooked whole beetroot, boiled and peeled
- 50ml red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons treacle sugar
- The juice of 1 orange
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 egg, whisked
- Place the vinegar, orange juice, sugar and rosemary into a small pan and simmer over a very low heat for roughly 5 minutes or until you have a syrupy consistency. Allow to cool.
- Scoop out 8 “balls” of cooked beetroot using a melon baller and place them into the vinegar and orange juice mixture. Coat the beetroot evenly with the syrup.
- Place your puff pastry on a floured work surface. Using a round template (e.g. a tea cup, saucer or side plate) cut out a round piece of puff pastry. Remember the size of your template will determine the size of your tart!
- Next brush the round of puff pastry with the egg wash and place on a greased baking tray.
- Place your beetroot balls on top of the puff pastry, arranging them in a symmetrical pattern. Keep any left over vinegar and orange mix for plating.
- Place the tray in a preheated oven at 180°C for ± 10 – 12 min or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our blogpost on how to create your own at-home spa day. For more wellness inspiration, check out the rest of our blog here.