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T’s Guide to Staying at Home, and Making the Best of It

Now that we’re nearly through the work week, and school week, the uncanniness of the current moment has set in. Some European countries — like Spain and Italy — have enforced strict lockdowns while in New York, museums, libraries and restaurants have shut down indefinitely. But “social distancing” — not commuting, not dining out, saying no to that party you really didn’t want to go to anyway — can also open up some unexpected opportunities for those with time on their hands: to try a new recipe, work out from the comfort of your own home, catch up on some reading and tackle any organizing projects you haven’t gotten around to yet. Below, T recommends some activities for riding out the quarantine — whether self-imposed or not — while preserving your sanity and sense of purpose.

When the San Francisco-based florist Christina Stembel’s decade-old business, Farmgirl Flowers, was in its infancy, she often baked cinnamon rolls — the “ultimate comfort food,” she says — and brought them in for her employees. Stembel doesn’t just consider the gooey dessert to be the ultimate comfort food; she thinks of it as a good litmus test: “If you meet someone that doesn’t like one of these,” she says, “do not trust them.”

“Growing up in the West, I was always wanting to be very westernized to fit in,” says the Taiwanese-Canadian designer Jason Wu. “And in my 20s, I really started re-embracing my roots.” That included his mom’s ultra-comforting fried rice, made with whatever ingredients were conveniently available, including cubes of ham, an unexpected, nontraditional accent he keeps in the recipe to this day.

Rostam Batmanglij is best known as a musician, producer and onetime member of the indie-rock band Vampire Weekend. But he’s also the son of the renowned Iranian-American chef and cookbook author Najmieh Batmanglij (for whom he’s designed books); his pedigree means he has spent his whole life around food. Here, he shares a controversial avocado toast opinion: He swears by the strange alchemy wrought when an avocado meets mayonnaise.

Not much of a morning person? Neither is the San Francisco-based designer Evan Kinori. Still, he manages to “set the tone nicely” for the day with a kale- and avocado-filled shakshuka — a distinctly Californian take on a beloved dish from Israel, where his father was born.

For the performance artist Migguel Anggelo — who grew up outside Caracas — arepas are a great unifier: “It doesn’t matter in Venezuela if you are poor or you are rich, middle class — whatever you are, you eat arepas,” he says. Having moved to the United States in 2002, Anggelo now makes arepas as a means of staying close to his culture; they are also, it turns out, infinitely adaptable — the soft cornmeal patties can be filled with all manner of savory fillings, including scrambled eggs, ground beef or tuna salad.

The novelist Mona Awad has also conjured a nontraditional morning meal worth waking up for. In graduate school, she had an epiphany: What if she took all the ingredients in her classic morning oatmeal — banana, raisins, cinnamon, oats — and baked them? The result: a decadent, yet still virtuous, cookie that’s also breakfast.

Although the scalp is the foundation for a healthy head of hair, according to the colorist Christophe Robin, it’s also frequently neglected. Here, Robin and other hair-care professionals offer advice for developing the right detox for any hair and scalp type.

Start with a soak, move on to a scrub, then moisturize: Here, skincare professionals share their favorite techniques for giving feet a refresh — because masks and exfoliants aren’t only for your face.

To de-stress at the end of the day, the creative consultant Matilda Goad has devised a turmeric latte recipe she describes as feeling “like a hug” (and that she likes to pair with a television binge). We imagine it can also abate the headline-fueled anxiety that might be keeping you up at night.

The British designer Anya Hindmarch is all about “a bit of artful disarray” — but she’s also a consummate “tidy freak.” In her office, there are no Post-it Notes (too disorganized) or jackets slung over the backs of chairs (ditto); instead, the space is remarkable for its clean surfaces and the labels on, well, everything. If you’re looking for something to pass the time while housebound, you might try replicating some of her techniques, outlined here.

The culinary world already has a specific term for the organization required in the kitchen: mise en place, a French phrase denoting the meticulous work space of a chef. Ellen Bennett, the Los Angeles-based founder and C.E.O. of the lifestyle brand Hedley & Bennett (and a former line cook), breaks down how to achieve the perfect mise en place in your own kitchen.

Eccentricity and maximalism don’t have to be synonymous with clutter. Here, the London-based interior designer Beata Heuman — whose work treads the line between “crisp orderliness” and refreshing whimsy — shares her tips for keeping things neat. She recommends, for example, seeking out vintage storage solutions for some character, and even recruiting the youngest members of one’s family to help clean up.

For an alternate perspective on social isolation, you might consider learning more about intentional communities: off-the-grid collectives where residents share duties of cooking, farming, governing and finances. “If there is any sense of romanticism running through the community,” writes Mike Mariani, “it lies in the notion that none of us, actually, have to be complicit to political, social and economic forces with which we don’t agree.”

On the cusp of turning 40, a reader finds herself at a personal and professional crossroads. Megan O’Grady, one of T’s Culture Therapist advice columnists, has some ideas for how to navigate what comes next.

In southeastern Switzerland, 20 minutes outside the resort town of St. Moritz, a once-lovely 19th-century building had fallen into disrepair following a few ill-advised renovations. Wanting to transform it once more — by embracing a renovated version of the home’s former self — its new owner recruited the Milan-based design and architecture firm Studio Peregalli. If you’re seeking to discover rooms other than the one you are confined to at the moment, look no further.

An overlooked touchstone of Japanese-American literature, John Okada’s “No-No Boy” (1957) “isn’t often acknowledged for articulating what had never been said before,” writes T’s features director, Thessaly La Force. Written under the long shadow of Japanese-American incarceration during World War II, the novel “is a kind of generational reckoning with American bigotry” — one that has unexpected resonance now, amid family separation and incarceration along the United States’s southern border.

For T’s most recent Travel issue, the novelist Peter Rock made his way to Milos, the southernmost of the Greek Cyclades islands — and the frequently overlooked neighbor of Mykonos and Santorini — to discover what makes its waters, and its culture, unique. He planned to do so in a distinctly immersive way: by swimming along the island’s coastline.

In 2015, a clip from Cecelia Condit’s “Possibly in Michigan,” an unsettling video artwork from 1983, began circulating on Reddit. Four years later, the piece had made her an unlikely celebrity on TikTok. Here’s how.

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