California lockdown (in Malibu).
Introducing one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world - and one of the greatest people I know - Amanda Blakley. This completely magnetic Canuck and I met on the streets of Positano 20 YEARS AGO!! We were 21 year old backpackers, bopping around Europe for the very first time. It was love at first sight. We became fast friends / pen-pals - and have met up all around the world ever since (LA, Toronto, NYC, The Hamptons, Mexico, Italy x 3, Australia etc etc). This woman is pure gold. Eternally optimistic, happy, curious, creative and kind. I love her. Very honoured to share Mands' insight into isolation in California, here.
Name: Amanda Blakley
Star Sign: Cancer/Leo Cusp
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Where do you live now? Malibu, California
Describe yourself in 3 words or less… Creative, social, hungry.
Describe Malibu in 3 words or less… Here it is in 5 - an abundance of nature, beauty and relaxed beachy vibes.
How many days have you been isolating for now? 64 days as of tomorrow May 14.
Who are you isolating with? My husband Adam and our little boys Atticus & Archer.
And can you describe your space? We are so grateful to be living in a roomy ranch-style home in nature, close to the beach and trails and tonnes of wildlife.
What is the vibe like in Malibu? I think in general people are trying to stay optimistic at home while taking measures to limit their exposure to the outside world. The threads on our community forums range from helpful and supportive to angry and fearful, which is probably representative of most of our own emotional states on a daily basis!
Are the beaches and hiking trails still open? Sadly not any longer. People were taking advantage of them and over-crowding lead to their mass closure two weeks ago. Locals still seem to be sneaking down but I’ve been avoiding them and just doing country road walks/runs instead. It looks like they will be slowly opening up again soon though, which is great.
Do you have any tips you can share for sticking to, or starting a new kind of daily routine? If I’m being honest, it’s been pretty hard to maintain a routine. Between housekeeping, feeding the hungriest boys on earth and attempting to homeschool, it hasn’t left me with tonnes of time or energy. Instead we just sort of go day to day. The weekends are definitely all about leaning-in to free time for all. Lots of movie nights, reading on the couch or hammock and running or biking around the yard. During the week the natural rhythm of the day is punctuated by meals and snacks and play and I sneak in some lessons in between. I recruited my mother to help with some virtual lessons for the boys and their teachers are also hosting daily Zoom sessions.
Do you have any daily rituals? I’ve been trying to carve out time each day for a big solo hike or run on the country roads around our neighbourhood. A bit of yoga on the OnePeloton app has been a nice addition too. I’m also strictly observing cocktail hour like some kind of militant 1950’s housewife who’s life depends on it!!!
Adam, your husband is now working from home, so that makes you the Queen of Home Schooling. How are you finding it? Any tips? My only tips are not to push your luck. Some days will be great. Zoom classes attended (on time, no less) and with participation, assignments completed without tears, while other days are just gonna be a complete write-off, and that’s ok. Trying not to be too hard on yourself and keeping the vibrations high at home with lots of joyful activities, pumping your favourite music for dance parties, baking up a storm, performing skits, painting/drawing, playing board games galore and building things out of boxes and leftover Amazon packaging! Whatever it takes to get through the day. And if they can learn a new skill or develop a new interest - great - but most importantly, keep happy and healthy!
Tell us a bit about your work… Similar to you Gigi, I am a constant tourist, adventuress and travel writer/expert. I contribute prose to some of North America’s preeminent publications like Elle Canada, HERE Magazine, CBC, The Globe and Mail, Well & Good, among others. I also work with travel and lifestyle brands (like American Express, Cadillac, Banana Republic and others) as an ambassador and content creator.
Are you finding more creative inspiration in this time? I would like to say yes, but I’m feeling a bit stagnant - probably has something to do with all the domestic duties on my current to-do list!
What other creative outlets do you turn to? I have been reading as much as possible and making an effort to journal each day. Sometimes I dive in and help the kids with their creative projects. Last week we made a submarine out of some big boxes. I’m also starting a garden - a nature project I’ve been wanting to dig into for a while now!
Any recipes for isolation you can share? My husband has taken on the dinner duty of late - such a treat and the highlight of my day to sit down to an amazing meal every eve at our very own restaurant! Now that he’s no longer commuting he has the time and energy to get creative in our kitchen. I’ve become the baker. This yoghurt lemon blueberry loaf was a hit this weekend:
Have you still been able to find access to good produce? Luckily our amazing local farm stand started offering curbside pick up of curated boxes full of their incredible seasonal produce as well as bread from Tartine in LA, amazing baked goods from Varsity Bakers, and prepared meals and salads from Malibu Farm.
Your current drink of choice? An adaptogenic mushroom tea in the morning and a cold glass of Sancerre (or 2) in the evening - hopefully it will soon be time to switch over to rosé and Aperol spritzes!
What is on your stereo? Opera, Mary Poppins, The Big Little Lies soundtrack, and Dance Monkey on repeat!
And what books and podcasts are you loving at the moment? My boys love the Circle Round podcast - Adam just finished the Goldfinch and I’m about to dive into The Other Language - a collection of short stories by Francesca Marciano.
What about exercise? Any online classes you are loving? The OnePeloton app has great yoga, boot camps and even meditation classes on demand or live. I’ve also been enjoying a walk/hike or run around our neighbourhood which has some great rolling hills that really get my heart rate up!
When this blooming virus goes away, where will you be travelling to next? Definitely back to Nicaragua - like most people, our spring break plans were cancelled. I’m so excited to check out Verdad Nicaragua, a small Eco lodge near San Juan Del Sur where we’ll take some family surf lessons. I’m also pining for a visit to The Lodge at Blue Sky in Wanship, Utah. A luxurious mountain escape on a 3,500 acre ranch near Park City. And a visit to the new FS on the Sea of Cortez outside of Los Cabos is definitely on our bucket list!
Are you a window or aisle seat kinda gal? Aisle - I like to be able to get up and walk around!
What 3 things are always in your suitcase? Sunglasses (I love Chimi Eyewear from Sweden), a great hat (always by the incomparable Maryam Keyhani), and my favourite face oil by Amandine Sol Botanicals.
What are your 3 favourite hotels in the world?
Castel Son Claret in Mallorca, Spain
Capri Palace, Anacapri, Italy
Hause Hirt in Bad Gastein, Austria
These three properties have transported me to another time and place and offered the ultimate in hospitality - a fine balance between feeling at home and like a treasured guest
Words you live by…
I want a quiet life
I want to go
a little bit
- Atticus Poetry
And lastly, who are you most looking forward to hugging when all of this is over?!! My parents, brother and sister, my niece and nephew and our family treasure, our 99 year old grandmother!