And We’re Off!

And We’re Off!

Scott and I decided to go to Purtis Creek State Park again.  However, we are going to be doing more than just exploring.  We will be making an informational video about….  the solar system.  Yeah, you heard me right, we are going to make a video about the solar system at a Texas State Park.

We tried a few weeks ago, but just hadn’t gotten the feeling right.  I am just not good at video yet and we had tried it on the spur of the moment.  Today we will have the help of our friend Angie who has a YouTube channel (  Here is her video of Purtis Creek State Park:

We met Angie about a year ago while we were exploring Meridian State Park.  She is the one who took the photo of us in front of the CCC building.

Photo taken by Angie Bracken at Meridian State Park.


We actually love this photo of us and now that we have a friendship out of it, it is definitely one of my more favorites.

So, be on the look out for a new video series.  This will be Scott’s series about history, space, information, science…  you know, whatever takes his fancy.

We are off on another adventure.  See you soon!


WiP Wednesday – Embroidery With Ren – Week 4

WiP Wednesday – Embroidery With Ren – Week 4

20160518_095252_resizedYes, I am still working on this project.  I can’t seem to get enough time to finish this Bent Creek Sampler.  This past week was extremely busy between getting my truck fixed and working on the website.  I have been able to get a bit stitched, but not finished.  I am hoping this time next week to have it ALL completed.

20160504_061208_resized This was where I was at two weeks ago.

20160518_095727_resized This is where I am today.  All I have left are the birds and the heart at the top.  I am thinking about doing some outlining to make the house and the birds stand out since they are pretty much the same color as the fabric.  Not sure how I came out to that color choice.

So what are you working on this week?

Nature In All Her Moods

Nature In All Her Moods

We have a new video up, the second in our Outside The Box series.

Our plan is to upload a new video roughly once a week, but you might have noticed that this one is a little late.   The first video went up with almost no editing and was very quick and easy.  With this video we wanted to include some photos and video that illustrated what we were talking about, that turned out to be a little tricker than we expected, and it took several days to work through the process.  One of the reasons that we started this series was that we wanted to become better at making and editing videos.  We hope that our videos will continue to improve as we learn new skills.

The Outside The Box series is intended to be relaxed and unscripted, just us sitting and talking informally about whatever topic we have chosen for this week.  Based on the first two, they will ramble a bit as we follow whatever digressions come up during our discussion.

We also plan to do videos that are scripted, researched, and more polished, but for now we are keeping it simple as we learn how to do this.

This week we are talking about getting out and experiencing nature when the weather is less than ideal.  When we started the Texas State Parks Project we decided that we did not want to limit ourselves to only getting out when the weather is nice.  We have too many things to see and do and not all that many weekends when the weather is just right,   There are times when we have looked at the weather and asked ourselves whether or not we really want to get out in this, and we have never once regretted it when we have decided to brave the weather and go.

Let us know what you think of the video, and if there is anything you would like us to talk about please leave a comment here or on YouTube.



WiP Wednesday – Embroidery With Ren  – Week 2

WiP Wednesday – Embroidery With Ren – Week 2

20160504_061249_resizedWell, I finished the Vintage Sampler Reproduction and the padded satin stitched initial M.  They both turned out really nice.  As for that reproduction piece,  I have always wanted to do a reproduction from start to finish.  I can now use this for future projects to help with lettering.  This is exactly why these types of samplers were created.  They are a tool from the past that still has significance on the stitching today.FB_IMG_1462398191341As for the padded satin stitch initial letter “M”, I have completed the stitching part of this project, but now I have more to do on it.  This process is called “finishing”.  This is when you take the completed stitched piece and you do what needs to be done so that it can be used, displayed, framed, ect…  Most of the time this type of work is sent out to a professional who does the finishing.  It can be expensive and take a lot of time.  20160504_061305_resizedI will be turning these two bits of stitching into an ornament with cardboard, quilt batting and homemade cording.  These are very pretty and not as difficult to make as you would think.  I have made many of these and would love to do but, but the hand stitching is time consuming. The ornament below was stitched out on an embroidery machine which is faster, but I prefer doing the handwork.20160504_165810The cording is made using perle cotton thread and a simple machine that is used much like a fishing reel.  Basically you turn your amount of thread into a loop and then you hook it to the machine and a secure place.  Once you get the tension just right, you start to turn the handle.  That turning twists the thread and then, when there is enough twist, you half the twisted thread and let it spiral together.  The only problem with this is that to get enough cording for a project, you have to use long loops.  This makes for a bit of a humorous activity if done with Scott.20160504_165521I will be working on this over the next two weeks and continuing to work on the Bent Creek “Love” sampler.  I have been telling everyone how much I just hate counted cross stitch, but I keep going back to it.  There is just something about it.  I do hope you are able to find something that brings joy to you like this does for me.20160504_061208_resizedlifelife-ren

SFO Vacation – Part Three – Adventure in The City By The Bay


While we were visiting San Francisco, California, we took approximately 4,000 photos on just Scott’s camera; this does not include my phone camera or his. That is a lot of photos to process and explains why we have taken so long to get only four days processed.  Please enjoy the photos from our Tuesday and Wednesday of our January trip.

Tuesday, January 19, was an early and wet morning for us.  Our friend dropped us off at one of the BART stations so we could head into the famous city by the bay.  The BART travels all round the Bay Area while the MUNI is only within the actual city and has some really great deals for visitors of the area. We decided to go with the three day pass because it was actually cheapest for us with unlimited travel on the MUNI.  I loved riding on them and really enjoyed the vintage cable cars we were able to ride those two days.sfo1 Anyway, we were loaded up with our packs filled with clothing, food and camera stuff while we wearing plenty of layers and rain gear as we waited for the right train.  I must say we had an amazing view as we waited, however, my photos just did not do it justice.  This was definitely a test for both of us where map reading were concerned.  However, the transit system has a really great set of maps to get you where you need to go within and outside of the city.
sfo sforail sfo2

One of the wonderful things I loved about taking the train into to San Francisco was the fact that there is a lot of street art along the rail side of buildings that you can only see from the train.  Unfortunately, we were moving way too fast to take any decent photos of any of it.  There was also a difference in the style of (rail side) street art from city to city.  I was very thrilled to see the art, as you know my love for street art.  This was only a taste, however, of what was to come because we would be entertained by more than just the paintings, but by street entertainers or buskers.
sfo3Once we emerged from the subterranean depths of San Francisco, we found ourselves drenched and umbrellas destroyed from the rain and swift wind wanting to push us down and roll us down the street.  We gathered our composure and headed to the nearest cable car so we could go find breakfast at Crepevine Restaurant on Church Street.  Since going gluten-free I have not had a crepe in a long time so I was extremely excited by this and had been planning that specific meal for weeks.
sfo4 sfo6We finished breakfast and then headed out for more adventures.  Since we could not check-in at our hotel until after 3:00PM, we had to explore the city with our packs in tow.  However, this didn’t seem to be an issue since we saw many people with packs; unfortunately this was due to them being homeless. I am accustomed to the homeless here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but they are mostly hidden here by overpasses and shelter/help locations.  In San Francisco, they are not hidden at all.  At night you will see them sleeping in doorways of closed businesses and alleyways to protect them from the elements.  You will see them on street corners during the day busking and begging.  Never once were we treated badly by any of them and we were able to share what little change we had.  This is one thing that you need to be ready for when you visit because it is a bit of a culture shock.  Don’t be afraid of them though because they are not looking to rob you blind, just looking for a bit of your compassion.
sfo5One of the things I love about many of our trips are the surprise of finding embroidery where I do not normally expect it.  This trip was not lacking in that area.  There were many amazing pieces of bead work, goldwork and costuming. Unfortunately the shops selling the purse and coat bedecked with beads, gems and embroidery knew they could sell them for a small fortune, but they were definitely a pleasure to look at.
DSC03980 The dress you see on the mannequin was made for the San Francisco Ballet Troup’s production of Romeo and Juliet.   It was stunning.DSC04357We went up and down as many streets as we could looking at the many different churches found within San Francisco as well as everything else to see.  These churches were amazing to see because of the architecture and artwork outside and inside as well.DSC03954DSC03951DSC04230DSC04232DSC04239DSC04124Then of course there was all the street art.  I have never seen so much within one place.
DSC03970DSC03985DSC04182DSC04190DSC04198Of course it was not just paintings on buildings that we found to be amazing on the subject of street are, but there were statues and more.DSC04243DSC04307DSC04321Then you had interesting lights and rows upon rows of flags everywhere.DSC04206DSC04208
They also had these kiosks all over the city with bits of art and history inside them!

DSC04361We also ventured to the area the City Hall was located.  I am honestly not quite sure how we arrived there, but we found it.  That is pretty much how the day went actually.  We would be riding a cable car and I would see something that looked interesting to me and tell Scott we were getting off.  I never heard a complaint from him so I am assuming he was on autopilot and ready to take some fun photos.
DSC04165 DSC04174One of the things I had planned was to visit a specific shop to purchase a button for my “May the Hands” sampler project.  I wanted something vintage looking that would fit it with the nature theme of the project.  It took a while, but I managed to find one and enjoyed every minute of it.  The place is called Britex Fabrics and it is full of wonderfulness!
DSC03896DSC03899DSC03904DSC0390320160504_093953_resized We were only a block or so from the hotel at this point so we checked in and dropped off our packs.  The hotel The Park Hotel at Union Square is an older place that is not expensive at all, especially for San Francisco.  We were rather shocked to find them next to the Union Square area where the high end shops were located.  The rooms are sparse with a bed, dresser, desk, tiny fridge and a couple of lights.  That’s it.  Most of the rooms do not have bathrooms in them so you have to go down the hall to a shared bathroom, but we were lucky and they offered us one with a bathroom for the same price we were going to pay for one without.  The manager said they were in between conferences so there were plenty of rooms.
park hotelPhoto taken from the website.
DSC04369Going up to your room, you are greeted by a rather old elevator.  We honestly wondered if it had been here ever since the rebuilding of San Francisco after the Great Earthquake of 1906.  It had amazing decorative touches.
motif  motif2   room9  bell
The room itself was bare, but very nice without any type of bugs.
The bed was comfortable and the view was interesting.
room7 DSC04366 room3room5To the left…
room6to the right.

Once we were checked-in our room and unpacked, we decided to walk over to the Broadway Tunnel under Russian Hill just a few blocks over from the hotel.  I had been doing a lot of research of San Francisco and this was one of the five tunnels I wanted to see.  Unfortunately it was the only tunnel we were able to see while we were there this time.
DSC04365We then walked over to Chinatown and ventured in a bit.  It was nothing like I had expected it to be, but all of the touristy shop owners were ready to sell us cheesy souvenirs.  I am apparently too nice to tell people to bugger off because Scott had to save me from the harkers many times.  DSC03923DSC03925DSC03943DSC03945And of course I found rubber duckies so there had to be a photo of that so everyone would believe me!
DSC03948Another area that was important for me to see was the Portsmouth Square near the Financial District. This was the first public square in San Francisco.  It is now a playground for both children and adults.  You will find the Asian community busy playing checkers as if it were a sport.  They are all gathered around different players, giving advice and placing bets.  It was a rather interesting thing to see.
DSC03997DSC04001DSC04010Noticing something interesting I stated towards the Financial District.  I could see what looked like three statues on top of a building.  If you will take a look at the first photo of the Portsmouth Square, you will see a large building with three items on the roof way in the distance.  That is what caught my eye and if you have learned anything at all from our blog it is that I am a curious person and it usually ends up in an adventure of some sort.
DSC04021These are three of the twelve that sit upon the room of the Atlas Building.  They are the Corporate Goddesses that watch over the San Francisco Financial District. There were designed and created by artist Muriel Castanis in 1982.  There really hasn’t been much written about the history in what I could find online; however there is a great blog post about them on Odd Things I’ve Seen.

Realizing the time we decided it was time for a meal.  We had over 20,000 steps and two dozen trips on cable cars in just one day.  To say we were exhausted would say little about how tired we were.  However, the day was not over.  We still needed to find dinner and plan out our next day in the city.  So we found a very nice Irish restaurant called Johnny Foley’s Irish House and enjoyed a plate between us. There was so much food I was glad we shared a plate because I had been promised cheesecake!  Trying to find the Cheesecake Factory was a bit of chore, but we were able to locate it on the top floor of the Macy’s Building right off of the Union Square.
sfo9Unfortunately Union Square was in total chaos due to some repairs and road work happening.  However, we were able to take our photo in front of the “Hearts in San Francisco” statue.  It was a sign of even more amazing adventure the next day when we went to visit the Golden Gate Bridge.

As we slowly made our way back to the hotel about 9:00PM we could hear the people below.  I climbed into bed tired and sore, but so happy to have finally made it to the city by the bay.  As I lay my head down upon the pillow, I remembered hearing the music of buskers below playing music sweetly and thinking, “What a wonderful end to a fantastic day.”