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A to Z cards isolation ideas
Illustration: Mitchell Moore/Time Out

The A to Z of surviving iso

Need some ideas on how to fill your days? Let this lexicon of fun ideas guide you

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Written by
Rebecca Russo
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Guys, it’s getting weird. We’ve been locked in our homes for months, and while some states are easing some restrictions, life won’t be totally normal for a long time. To get you through this bizarre time, we’ve put together a lexicon of our time staying at home. In it, you’ll find fun ideas, silly memes and maybe even a place to commiserate shared iso experiences.

  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

Have you ever wanted to learn ballet but worried it would distract your father from organising against Maggie Thatcher’s privatisation of England’s mines? Or maybe you… just didn’t have the time or motivation? The Australian Ballet is now offering free classes from real ballet dancers, so if it’s the latter reasons, you’re in luck. And yes, if you’re wondering, you can be a complete beginner and still take part. Meet you at the barre?

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  • Things to do

Oof. It’s been mighty hard being this close to your TV all the time, hasn't it? And what about those adorable (but constantly pestering) kids who should be studying? And is it just me, or is the lure of falling into a YouTube rabbit hole far too fascinating? What the hell, give in to you the YouTube rabbit hole and call it self-care. This is a good place to start.

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  • Art
  • Art

Melbourne CBD’s usually packed city streets have gone quiet of late, with the majority of us working remotely and staying home to flatten the curve. Local photographer Gavin John took the opportunity to capture Melbourne in a photography series that portrays the city during the current crisis and subsequent shutdown. It’s quite spooky.

  • Restaurants

How many times can you open and close it in one day? Can you juggle those years-old bottles of curry paste and expired Dijon mustard? Be careful, it’s messy if you fail. Maybe you’re holding onto the hope that those dried-out cheese slices, tubs of Yumi’s hummus and half-opened jars of capers might magically transform themselves into a delicious five-course meal overnight. Hey, here’s hoping. In the meantime, you can let the pros feed you.

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Group chats
Photograph: ©WhatsApp

Group chats

We’re all trying to connect the best way that we can right now, whether that’s by simultaneously watching Netflix shows together or sending each other increasingly strange selfies. Either way, it’s nice to remember that social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t socialise. Fire up those group chats! If you’re after a nice icebreaker, might we suggest a round of Would You Rather? (Upside down face or Twisties as fingers is a good starting round.)

Hand sanitiser
Photograph: Supplied

Hand sanitiser

No one could have predicted that a previously ubiquitous and frankly a bit dull item like hand sanny would become the must-buy product of 2020 (well, there are those conspiracy theorists)? Luckily, when stocks on the supermarket shelves began running low, our ever-resourceful breweries and distilleries stood up. Gypsy Hub started making pure alcohol, Third Drawer Down did its own artist-designed bottles, Docklands brewery Urban Alley is hoping to produce 100,000 bottles a week and more recently, Patient Wolf and Wolf of the Willows Brewing teamed up for a juniper-scented hand sanitiser.

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Iso
Photograph: Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

Iso

Cute abbreviation for something so horrible, huh? Be glad “quar” didn’t take off in the same way.

Jar sauce
Photograph: Flickr/Marco Verch

Jar sauce

Death to jar sauce! Sydney comedian Nat from Nat’s What I Reckon has become the master of iso cooking with a series of expletive-ridden cooking how-tos. But this isn’t Claire Saffitz showing you how to recreate candy. No, Nat’s mission is to teach us how to avoid shitty jar sauces and make our own bolognese, risotto, soup and even curry. Watch it here.

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  • Film
  • Film

Let me introduce you to this incredible free (yes, FREE) movie service. You can access thousands of great movies for free with nothing more than a library card. It’s also super easy to sign up.

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Memes/monogamy/muting yourself…
Photograph: Washyourlyrics.com

Memes/monogamy/muting yourself…

So hard to choose for this one. Iso memes have been keeping us sane. And for a second there it looked like either everyone was either coupling up or freaking out that they couldn’t commit. And lastly, please, Karen, can you just mute yourself?

Naps
Photograph: Unsplash/Vladislav Muslakov

Naps

Need an activity to fill two to three hours at a time but have no money, no interests and no energy? Take a nap, mate. It’s finally an acceptable thing to do with your day, so don’t go crying to me when things are back to normal and you’re complaining about all the naps you didn’t take.

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Odds and ends
Photograph: Creative Commons

Odds and ends

With supermarkets out of essential staples and trips to the outside world limited, making dinner feels like an episode of Ready Steady Cook. OK, so you’ve got half a leek, a probably-expired can of mushroom soup and a packet of dried pineapple - go! Or, rather, stop. It’s time to order a produce box from one of Melbourne’s best restaurants. They are put together by people who are better at this than you are and are the foundation of coherent meals.

  • Art
  • Art

Apparently a lot of people think they should be called puzzzzzzzzles. But to that I say: when was the last time you actually tried one? Was it when you were seven and it was the only activity your parents allowed you to do once they’d confiscated your Nintendo because you lied about who exactly sat on the bathroom sink and broke it? No time like the present to try puzzling again! There’s even an incredibly detailed one of Melbourne you can try.

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Quirks
Photograph: Unsplash/Luke Peters

Quirks

Working from home has got us realising some of our own, and some of our partner’s/housemate’s/family member’s/iso buddy’s adorable and not-so-adorable quirks. Have you realised your partner is a “let’s circle back” kind of person? Or have you seen your colleague’s partner wandering around sans pants? What about realising your parents enjoy watching Sex: Explained together after accidentally stumbling into their Netflix profile? We’ve all got our quirks!

  • Things to do
  • City Life

If you’ve been seeing rainbows everywhere from your social media feeds to your local streets, you’re not alone. Children across the world, including Australia, have started making rainbow artworks to raise spirits (and let's be honest, keep themselves busy) during the shutdowns. It’s the wholesome content we need right now.

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Sourdough making
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sourdough making

It feels like some MasterChef challenge that went off the rails. Remember when we all flocked to buy croquembouche moulds (and now hibachi grills?) and then immediately forgot about them? Well, it looks like everyone everywhere has a new obsession: sourdough bread. But this DIY project ain’t no socially distanced walk in the park. You will soon realise loaves should actually cost $2,000 for all the labour and maths and flipping and flouring and goddamn WAITING that goes into it. Don’t worry though: we have some handy tips to get yours right. Read more.

Tik Tok
Photograph: Creative Commons

Tik Tok

Did we need another social platform to spend hours swiping through? Probably not, but Tik Tok sure is fun. We’re particularly fond of Toks (is this what a single one is called? I’m old) that make fun of Australia, including old mate Scott Morrison’s recent press conference jab. This is the one I mean.

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  • Things to do

It’s hard not to feel helpless right now. But it's vital, now more than ever, that we put on a united front and help those who need it, including struggling venues, those at home without friends or family, or those valiant health workers who are risking everything to keep us all safe. Click through for a list of ways to support locals during this time. 

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Wiki rabbit holes
Photograph: Flickr/Gordon Wrigley

Wiki rabbit holes

I can’t tell ya how long I spent looking up the origins of Vegemite or learning about the punk rock bands Björk was in pre-fame on a recent Wikipedia binge. And look, even after I’ve accidentally spent a whole hour clicking from link to link on this worldly encyclopedia, at least it’s more educational than an episode of Tiger King. Speaking of Tiger King, did you know Carole Baskin’s real first name is Stairs!?

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Yoga with Adriene
@theformfitness/Unsplash

Yoga with Adriene

Moving your body and being present in your skinsuit is really important right now. So it makes sense more people are getting to know YouTube’s yoga queen Adriene. There’s a video for everyone here: those with lower back pain, those looking to stretch it out, those absolute beginners who have no idea where to start… you’ll find something good here. Plus, the presence of her dog Benji snoozing in the corner of every video and hilariously getting in the way is a real treat. Watch here.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

The unsung heroes of these uncertain times? Maybe. We’ve enjoyed seeing penguins, pandas, snow leopards, lizards and more – but they were all outshone by Zookeeper, Adam who brought some much-needed pizazz to the giraffe livestream.

Need more ideas?

  • Things to do

We've collected the best ways for you to experience Melbourne while staying at home here into this hub, so you can stay sane, comfortable, fed, watered and entertained at home – while helping small business owners, hospitality workers and creative people who desperately need your business.

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