Staying Sane During Lock Down

Keeping busy is the name of the game so I don’t pull my hair out!

I don’t know about you, but being forced to stay home has had its benefits and its drawbacks. Thankfully, Won and I enjoy spending time together so that’s a plus! The forced pause has also given us the chance to catch our breath since we’ve had such an incredible amount of upheaval in our lives over the last year. On the other hand, it’s been 38 days since the stay at home order was given in Portugal and we are ready to get back out there.

It’s been really interesting to see how friends and family have been staying busy during the lock down. Some are using the time to clean, sort, and purge a la Marie Kondo. Some have taken up new hobbies like bridge and embroidery. Others have been focused on keeping their kids busy, educated and entertained. Some have been painting, drawing, writing and and creating new music, like several in my family.

As I have shared in previous posts, Won and I have taken the time to walk our new neighborhood and get to know the streets better. Here are some of the other things we’ve been up to.

Learning something new…

Since it would be difficult to start hobbies that require investment in new materials, which would be impossible to secure at this point, and we did our organizing and purging prior to our move here, we’ve been scouring YouTube for fun things to watch and stumbled on a few interesting ones I think you might like too.

The first is the Dianxi Xiaoge channel (click on the name to launch the channel). This show is all about the life of a young woman living with her family and cooking for them in rural China. It is primarily a cooking show and there is generally no narration, only ingredient subtitles, but it is completely mesmerizing nonetheless! I don’t know how old she is, but she looks like she’s about 18, which can’t possibly be the case once you start watching her. She is simply amazing. She goes “shopping” for ingredients on her family’s farm and in the general vicinity near where she lives. She catches fish by hand, but also by making fishing poles from bamboo. She climbs trees to gather fruit. She also chops them down to use as, or create, cooking utensils. She weaves baskets, measures nothing, preserves food (which is fascinating in and of itself); it’s crazy. Each episode typically focuses on one seasonal ingredient, which she’ll whip up into multiple dishes for her family to eat. Her kitchen is pretty basic, but what she produces is masterful. She uses a lot of spice and heat (i.e. peppers) in her dishes and I’m sure they are incredibly flavorful. Won would love to try most of them. Me? I’d be dead in 2 seconds if I took a bite (I never acquired a taste for spicy foods so I’m hyper sensitive). Looking won’t kill me though and I am in abject awe of her skills, knowledge, and confidence. Let me know if you watch any episodes and share what you think.

Another YouTube channel we’ve discovered is “Falconry and Me.” It is produced by a female falconer who lives in England. She has 40 different varieties of birds of prey such as ravens, owls, caracaras, and of course, falcons, including peregrines! Through her channel she educates on the care and handling of the birds and provides fascinating insights on each. My favorite is a raven called Fable. The only other animal I have ever come across with that name was my mother’s borzoi. She was a sweet, regal dog and I loved her name. Clearly, only special animals must be called Fable. Fable, the raven, is incredible. She has the equivalent intelligence of a 7 year old and a personality to match. Her vocabulary is absolutely wonderful. I didn’t realize she was talking at first so I went back and watched a few again so I could focus only on Fable talking. Her problem solving skills are impressive. In addition to Fable, I enjoyed learning about Kevin a female caracara (you’ll get a kick out of learning why her name is Kevin). I didn’t even know there was such a bird as a caracara. There is also a video dedicated to a gorgeous barn owl called Flynn and a video compilation of a falcon growing up. We are totally fascinated and have learned a lot! I hope you tune in and enjoy learning about it too.

Planning ahead…

We’ve also been keeping busy discussing where we will go once Portugal comes back to life, which right now looks to be sometime in mid-to late-May, but no specific date has been communicated.

We did a lot of homework before we moved here to learn as much as possible about Portugal and we have a laundry list of places to see. However, now that we are here and have been forced into this lock down it allowed us the time to put together a more focused and thoughtful plan of action. We are going to start with the places closest to home first. There are things to see and do in our own backyard that we would most likely have missed given the many exciting places to see. This forced pause will ensure we don’t miss those treasures that are within our immediate reach. Some of them include:

  • The Museum of Portuguese Music (as seen below) which is literally a 5 minute walk down the street from where we live.
  • Casa de Santa Maria, once a luxurious private residence in Cascais and now a museum. It blends several different architectural styles and influences.
  • Casa Sommer a building which houses a branch of the Cascais Municipal Library, hosting collections pertaining to the town’s archaeological, architectural, historical and cultural heritage.

There are many others, but this is just a taste of some places we plan to visit.

Taste testing port…

Since we are in Portugal, the origin and motherland of affordable, delicious port, Won has taken it upon himself to try as many as possible (I confess, I’m helping too). We can get great port for under €10 a bottle! We’ve already gone through two bottles and have another three we are in the process of drinking. So far, Won has given each one a score of 10 out of 10, but then I don’t think we can rely on his scoring assessment after he’s consumed a half bottle. No matter, we will press on. With so many available ports to taste, we figure we’ll be done with our taste testing activities sometime in the year 2045.

Staying connected…

Like so many others, we are also embracing video conferencing. I’ll admit, having just retired from a job where video conferencing was one of the primary methods of communication, the idea didn’t exactly thrill me. PTSD perhaps? Regardless, the lure of seeing groups of friends and more than one or two family members on a video chat quickly got me past my hesitations. It’s so much fun to see the faces of the people I love and have real time chats to catch up.


We find ourselves laughing at the silliest things that wouldn’t be worth the time to try to explain (could it be the port? Nah…), but we have also been laughing ourselves silly watching Ozzy Man Reviews on YouTube. If you are easily offended by foul language, I don’t recommend this, but for those who are not, and you haven’t seen any of his videos, I high recommend it. He’s a guy from Australia (hence the “Ozzy” moniker) who reviews video clips on every possible topic and subject. I nearly peed my pants when I watched him review a contest that involved a lot of people chasing after a wheel of cheese that had been thrown down a steep hill. One of his best can be found on his home page and is of an older gentleman who has an encounter with a poisonous brown snake…let’s just say the older gentleman wins the day and it’s completely hilarious.

I’d love to know what you are doing to keep sane during this time. Please reply and share.

From Portugal with love,


Published by Beth Thomas-Kim

After working in corporate America for companies like Mattel, Nestlé, and Johnson & Johnson, I retired and moved to Portugal in January of 2020 with my husband Won and our 12-year old wire fox terrier, Sweet Pea. We now live in Monte Estoril, a lovely seaside town just outside Lisbon. We spend our days happily exploring this beautiful country and learning about its fascinating history, engaging culture, warm and welcoming people, delicious food and wine, and stunning architecture. This blog was started primarily as a way to keep family and friends updated on our transition from the US to Portugal. Now, my subscribers include people from all over the world. Enjoy!

12 thoughts on “Staying Sane During Lock Down

  1. Beth, agreed that Chinese girl is beautiful talented and amazing. I haven’t watched all her things, just three or four of them but I’d like to know more about her. Regarding the port, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it… I’ll check out Ozzie. Thanks!!


    1. I’m so glad to learn you are familiar with her videos. I suppose it’s not too shocking though…she has more than 26 million subscribers. Won and I are sipping as I reply. Let me know what you think of Ozzyman. Sending hugs!


  2. Kelly and I have done some of our own episodes of “Chopped”. We each choose 2 secret ingredients, then we both have to prepare a mini meal using all 4 ingredients in 45 minutes. It is fun and has some interesting results!


  3. That OzzieMan is hysterical! Snap. Crackle. Pop. The cheese rollers are the best and I wouldn’t be surprised if his footage does find its way into someone’s advertising. Glad Won’s got the port situation under control. Keep laughing 😂😂😂


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