An Introduction and An Update

You might not realize it but Stitchntravel is actually the project of two people, Ren who you have already heard from, and Scott. That’s me.

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My primary interests are history, science, woodworking and music. For the last couple of years I have been teaching myself to play the guitar and getting involved in the traditional music scene in Dallas and Fort Worth, and of course the Texas States Parks Project.

If you read this blog then you know that Ren and I have set ourselves a goal to visit all of the State and National Parks in Texas over the next couple of years.

In the last two months we have taken a short break on that project in order to make some progress toward a longer term goal. We want to move into an RV and travel the country.

As a first step we have sold, given away, or thrown away most of our stuff, and moved from a large house into a much smaller apartment. This has been a time consuming, and for me at least, an emotional experience. I can become very attached to my possessions, and it is sometimes hard to let go. I am amazed at how much unnecessary stuff I have accumulated over a lifetime, and how much of it I have moved from house to house without ever really using. While it was hard letting go of things that once held meaning for me, (the books were the hardest), it is also very freeing. It also made moving considerably easier.

As we are settling into the new apartment, and finding places for everything, it is becoming clear that we have not yet gotten rid of enough stuff. We will be spending the next few weeks paring our possessions down to the minimum amount of stuff we actually need and use.

In addition to getting rid of unnecessary stuff we are also breaking away from old habits and developing new ones that will be more suitable to the life we want to be living in a few years. We got rid of cable TV a few years ago, and substituted with online entertainment, which in many ways consumed far more of our time. We could always turn on the TV and find something we really wanted to watch, and all too frequently we did. Once we move into an RV we will have to rely on our cellular plan and public WiFi for our internet access, so we made the decision to make that transition now. We use Verizon for our internet access because they have the best coverage area and network speeds. They do not however have unlimited data plans. We no longer have the “luxury” of binge watching entire series on Amazon or surfing YouTube all night. We’ve also had to cut back on the amount of time we spend on social media. This has given us more time to focus on other things we want to do, as well as letting us focus on them with fewer distractions. We both feel like we are getting more done.

I firmly believe that both of these changes are for the better, and will help us toward our long term goals. Neither of these changes has been easy, and neither is complete yet. We will be spending the next few weeks clearing out more stuff and figuring out just how much we can live without.

I hope that by the end of April we can get back to discovering the natural and historical treasures that Texas has to offer, and sharing those discoveries with our readers.  Which I imagine will be more interesting for most of you than the personal posts we have been doing these last few weeks.

Scott

Where Has All The WiFi Gone?

Facebook.  I have decided it is the vampire of the 21st century; it sucks up all our time, productivity, and creativity. You think I’m over reacting?  Take a moment and think about how many times you log in just long enough to see if anyone has commented on your most recent status.  Stop at a traffic light on the way somewhere to see where your friends are.  Wake up and say hello to your friends across the world before a good morning greeting to the spouse next to you in bed.

Scott and I were discussing this last night because we decided to not get cable for internet just to see if it were possible.  We have watched many videos by Technomadia and Gone With The Wynns and read their blog posts about going wireless; how hard could it be?  They make it look so easy!  We had a surprise coming.

The husband told me to look at my data usage for the past week and tell me what I saw.  He said he saw a mountain of data used and I told him I was afraid to look.  I did and I was not happy. What made it all worse is that 90% was Facebook!  F A C E B O O K !  How could this be?  I never use it!!!

Apparently this isn’t true.  I may have thought otherwise, but the numbers do not lie.  I looked at my timeline and saw post after post after post for one day.  The day before that, post after post after post; the same every day for weeks, months…..  I was floored.  I thought about when each of those posts were made and I found another bit of information that actually scared me a bit.  I was posting at stop lights and when I was trapped in traffic on the highways.  Had I Facebooked while I was actually driving?

I read an article posted to Facebook by a friend of mine.  It was titled “HPD Issued 65 Tickets to Motorists Stuck in Tuesday’s Gridlock” from the Honolulu Star Advertiser website. Basically the highway had to close their ZipLane (Express Lane, HOV Lane, ect…) for some computer issues.  This caused a horrible traffic jam and people were on their cell phones which gave the Highway Patrol a prime opportunity to ticket people for cell phone use while “driving”.  Wow.  Just, wow.  How many times have I been sitting in my car in the middle of 820 gridlock posting to Facebook or texting a friend?  How many times should I have received a ticket for doing just this?  How many times could I have been in or caused an accident?

Scott said he was having just as many issues as I myself was with the use of Facebook.  When he wakes up, before his feet ever touch the ground, he is on Facebook.  There have been mornings he is rushing around and running late because he has been on FB lost in friends’ posts and commenting.  Often FB is the first and last thing he sees every day.  The other day he was having a face-to-face conversation with a coworker when he pulled out his phone and started Facebooking.  How often have you done this?

The last straw last night was us seeing just how much data usage Facebook had on both of our phones.  Within six days we have used 1.38GB, out of that 3/4 of it was FB on our phones.  You might be saying, “But, Ren, that’s pretty good over six days!”  Unfortunately, we were moving and extremely busy four of those days and we actually didn’t FB much at all.  This usage has been mainly over a two day period!  This is not only shocking, but a bit disturbing.

Go to your preferred web search site.  Now put in “social media kills creativity”.  Sit back and read some of the articles.  I know, I know, you can’t always believe what you read online, but do you really think that many people would be saying the same thing if it weren’t true?  Before the internet we had time to be bored, as my husband says. He is very right on this.

Think about it, before the internet and smart phones we had to read actual books, play games with others face-to-face, day dream, and the list goes on.  How many times today do you find yourself sitting in a waiting room looking through your phone?  Sit at a traffic light and check your FB status?  Sitting in the comfort of your home playing a game online while your family is lost in their smart phones or computers – in the same room?  Because we have instant gratification and an escape from boredom, we are cheating ourselves of time to accomplish things that need to be done and dreams you talk about but do nothing to prepare for.

That, that right there is why we have taken Facebook off of our phones.  It has been sucking up time, energy, and creativity.  Now don’t get me wrong, it is not just Facebook, but that is where we saw the most set of issues.  In order to break this poor habit, we have taken the app off our phones.  We have to physically go somewhere WiFi is accessible and use our computers or pads.  I do not know if this will help, but I know I went to bed last night talking with my husband and I woke up to have a conversation with him this morning.  I also made the decision to go find WiFi to do a quick FB check and status update, two blog posts and meet a couple of new people.  Sure I could have done that on FB, but I would have missed out on some great face time with some interesting people.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t Facebook or do other social networking, but I am saying you should look at your usage and determine if it is keeping you from a life in the real world.  I did and I am ashamed to say, I had to come out from under the rock I was living in.

Ren

Welcome to the Apartment!

Well, Scott and I are in the 547 sq ft apartment and I think it will work out nicely.  Because of a few things we decided change furniture wise, we are not crowded at all.  We have a new set of captain beds with dressers underneath, a Poang chair and stool, no dining table & chairs, and traded giant small-kitchen appliances for smaller ones. The beds I think are the best change.  Because the “dressers” are under the sleeping area and there is additional storage underneath as well, the bedroom area isn’t as cramped as it would have been with the two dressers we had.  Well, once we get some things unpacked.

The “unpacking”.  That should be a title of a horror flick for sure.  I can’t find anything and when I do, I have no idea where I am going to put it.  I hadn’t realized just how much kitchen stuff I had taken with us; this does include food.  The month before we moved we pretty much ate out of our freezer and pantry, but it just wasn’t enough.  I have searched the pantry and taken out anything there is a duplicate, we don’t eat, or will never eat and made sure it is unopened.  I will be delivering two trash bags worth of food to one of the food pantries in the DFW area.  There is, however, still not enough space.

The small appliances we brought are huge in this small room of food preparation.  I had sold my large food processor for a much smaller one, passed one of the two large crock pots to someone else, sold the large blender and mixer.  We did keep the slow pressure cooker and Foreman Grill, but I foresee those going away when we move into an RV.  They do make smaller Foreman Grills, right?

Since there is no shelf space, we have kept one of the bookshelves from the house.  It fits rather well in the walk space leading to the kitchen giving the trash can a very nice space to sit without being in the way.  The cabinets are rather strange actually.  You have your underneath cabinets with a half shelf  towards the back.  These work rather well for the dog food container, large pot and the pressure cooker, but it makes it difficult to get to anything else we want to store in there.  Then you have this:

taken from http://green-tree-properties.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Kitchen2.jpg

taken from http://green-tree-properties.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Kitchen2.jpg

The upper cabinets above the sink are tiny and very high on the wall.  There are two cabinets on either side, one other tiny set of shelves and a decent sized set of shelves.  Unfortunately there is this empty space above the sink.  I have been in apartments with this type of design but they were not as HUGE as this one.  I know something huge in this apartment is rather humorous.  We actually decided to shop Ikea again in a month or so and get some type of wall storage where we can store our few dishes and flatware.  Something like this:

image taken from http://www.ikea.com/ms/media/seorange/20131/201311_Wall_storage.jpg

image taken from http://www.ikea.com/ms/media/seorange/20131/201311_Wall_storage.jpg

I think we will also find an interesting way to store our spices so we can put them above the above rack system.  We have discussed the magnetic one and a plain old fashioned rack, but just haven’t figured it out yet.  Any thoughts?  Ideas?

While we are unpacking, we are realizing we had not purged enough. I can’t believe how much stuff we still have.  We have to leave everything in the storage unit until we get everything in the apartment put away, but there is just not going to be enough room for it all.  I am, to say the least, really shocked.  I honestly thought we had purged enough; more than enough actually.  I think I was living in Wonderland.  So, we are purging again.  This time it’s gonna really hurt.

Time to go work on the apartment.
Ren