Monthly Archives: July 2016

Update on the Terrible Two

abby (4)

This is Abby. She was listed in the paper as a “Lap Kitty.” We adopted her and have felt very lucky to get one of the sweetest cats we’ve ever had.

Smoke

Smoke

I saw Smoke at the vet’s office. I went over to the cage to say, “Hello,” and she immediately tried to nuzzle me. She talked to me and was very affectionate. I was a goner and convinced my sweet husband that we had room in our family for a second cat.

She has proven to be a real hard-head. She doesn’t know when to quit and still digs her claws in or bites occasionally, even though she receives bad feedback each time she does either.

Poor Abby has felt besieged by Smoke, who jumps on her relentlessly. There is a lot of hissing and spitting (all from Abby).

 

 

AbbyandSmoke2016

I found them on the dog bed today. (Actually, they’re on BOTH dog beds, as the blue one is Bambi’s and the white one is Molly’s.  I guess they wore each other out…

 

 

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Propane Painting Project – Cleaning

propanetankbefore1

We used the pressure washer to get the tank as clean as possible. We got the front and both ends, but ‘somehow’ missed the back… I got out and cut off a gazillion branches that were either hanging over the tank, almost touching it, or making it so we couldn’t even think about doing anything with the back.

 

propanetankbefore2

While I was pruning and weeding in the front yard yesterday,  my good husband did the rest of the pressure washing, so the tank is now as clean as it will ever be. You can see where we need to prep before we paint, scraping off peeling paint.

 

propanetankbefore3

If the weather will give us a bit of a break – it’s really sunny with a heat index of almost 100 degrees F out there right now – my husband will remove the dome. We’ll tape baggies over the gauges and put down some kind of protection for the concrete pad.

The first step in the actual painting is to paint the whole thing a light shade of green. My husband said he would try to set up the paint sprayer so that it feeds right out of the can, rather than our having to stop over and over again to refill the sprayer.

With any luck, we’ll have a 1000 gallon light green tank the next time I take a picture!

Here’s the ‘watermelon’ design we’re trying to emulate – found on the Internet –

 

cucumber

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Filed under Decorating Ideas, Lewis yard art

Acceptance

powerball

Diary of a Mad Dispatcher via Cathy Ruggiero

Diary of a Mad Dispatcher via Cathy Ruggiero

It was only $478 Million. It was nice to dream for a couple of weeks….

 

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Cooking Tip – Tomato Powder

brighthillgroup.com

brighthillgroup.com

When I was enjoying a lesson in canning from my friend Kay yesterday, she said something as an aside that really blew my mind.

She said that if you have a group of tomatoes that you think don’t make the cut on canning, slice them up, put them in your dehydrator, then in your blender to grind them up into powder.

Put the powder in a jar or sandwich bag and use as flavoring for soups, stews, meatloaf, etc.

GREAT IDEA!

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Filed under Cooking/Canning/Recipes/Low Carb

An Outside Kind of Day

The Herb Society of America-via-Cathy Ruggiero

The Herb Society of America-via-Cathy Ruggiero

We didn’t plan it this way, cause the heat index here this afternoon is 112 degrees F, but, for some reason, my husband and I have both been outside working.

I didn’t know it, but while I was telling you about the next step in our painting-the-propane-tank project, my husband went out to pressure wash the back of the tank! He hasn’t finished, but we’ve been reminding each other that sun stroke is no fun. We’re trying to take LOTS of breaks and drink LOTS of water between sessions.

I guess it was about a month ago that I spent about three days pruning and weeding a trio of brick planters we have on one side of the yard. I had it looking like someone actually lives here and takes care of things. THEN I got busy with the raised bed garden project and now it looks like we might be on a long vacation or might have moved away…

I got one planter on the far side of the garage done, and now I’m almost finished with the first of the trio. My goal for the weekend is to get things under reasonable control again.

I hope that you are having a fun, productive weekend!

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Balance?

Landee See Landee Do via Carla Morton

LandeeSeeLandeeDo.com via Carla Morton

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Filed under Attitude, Funny Signs - Humor

A Creative Definition

I Love Reading Books via Cathy Ruggiero

I Love Reading Books via Cathy Ruggiero

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Propane Tank Painting Project Plans

We have a 1000 gallon propane tank.  We used a pressure washer on it recently because it had all kinds of sticky, grimy dirt all over it.  I thought we had finished the cleaning, but discovered my husband didn’t do the back of the tank.

We were talking about the fact that it needed repainting. Part of the paint is peeling on one end, and the whole thing just needs attention. My husband was talking about getting several cans of white paint.

I told him I wanted to do something less boring. I looked on the net and found this –

 

cucumber

I love it and will ‘borrow’ the idea from the ingenious person who came up with this. I’m sorry, but the credit for this wasn’t given with the image.

We had two shades of green paint created at Yeagers, buying two gallons of light green and one gallon of darker green paint.

I did the first part of the project last night – cutting LOTS of branches that hung over the tank and cut branches all the way across the back of the tank. I can see why my husband decided not to bother with the back. It was impossible to get to!

The next step will be pressure washing the rest of the tank.

I’ll report again when we’ve made more progress.

 

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Filed under Decorating Ideas, Lewis yard art

Cats and Dogs – Take 5

cnd-Peteryork124

Peteryork124

 

 

cnd-snodialove

snodialove

 

 

cnd-swedishfrog

swedishfrog

 

 

cnd-tazzydw2

tazzydw2

Thanks to Emily Davis, trendingly.com

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“Buds”

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Filed under Paul Militaru Photography

New Adventure!

fatgirlgetsfitatlast.tumblr.com-zentozany

fatgirlgetsfitatlast.tumblr.com-zentozany

Today I spent a delightful afternoon with Kay, a long-time friend from Friday Lunch Bunch.

I mentioned that I was trying to learn to can food using both the hot water bath method and the pressure canning method. I knew that Kay was a canner (if you’ll pardon the expression). I asked her if it would be really annoying if I came over and watched (and hopefully helped) her the next time she planned to can something.  Luck was with me! She agreed to let me watch her, and told me that she was planning to can green beans and tomato sauce this afternoon!

I rode home with her from Lunch Bunch. My husband had agreed to come pick me up at Kay’s house when I called him later.

I’ve read a lot on canning and had a vague idea what was involved, but I’m a visual learner. It was truly wonderful to watch Kay at work, visiting as she did each step, with me scribbling down notes as each step came and went.

She told me several good tips that she’s learned over the years. She answered questions, and some of the things she did brought up others.  She said I could call if I had other questions.

Kay used the pressure cooker to can the green beans (a low acid veggie.) She gathers the beans from her garden (she also has friends who bring her veggies, plus she goes to the Farmer’s Market, as I do.)  She washes the beans, cuts them up, dries them and freezes them in ziplock freezer bags until she has enough to can. (She was using beans from two different freezer bags this afternoon. She showed me how to bring them up to temperature by cooking them in a large granite pot. While they were getting hot, she had the jars she was going to use soaking in hot water in the sink. She put the lids in a small pan with hot water and good them good and hot, as well.

When the veggies were hot, she used a funnel to get the beans into the jars. She puts a half teaspoon of sea salt into the bottom of each jar before adding the veggies. She ladles the beans into a jar, packs them down a bit with a wooden spoon, then ladles in the hot bean water into the jar up to the place where the screw lid fits. She uses tongs to pick up a lid from the boiling water, puts the lid into a screw cap, puts the lid and screw cap onto the full jar, then picks up the jar with a tea towel and tightens the screw lid on as tightly as she can by hand. The jar goes into the pressure cooker on an insert round tray in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Her cooker holds 4 pint jars. When she has them in the pressure cooker, she adds some water, then fastens on the top of the cooker and puts it on the stove to build up pressure until the regulator ‘jingles.’ Then she set a  timer for 10 minutes. She watched the cooker from time to time turning the heat down because the regulator was jingling too fast. When the timer went off, she moved the pressure cooker off the burner to cool by itself.

When the regulator hisses only a bit minutes later, she took off the top and used a jar lifter to move the jars from the cooker to a towel on the counter. As the jars got cool enough, each would say, “POP!” as the top made a good seal, being sucked down onto the jar. What an exciting sound!

She did two batches of green beans and then a batch of tomato sauce using the hot water bath method.

She used a juicer to prepare the tomatoes, putting in a whole handful of small tomatoes directly into the juicer. The juicer put the pulp, seeds, and skin on one side while pouring the juice into a container on the other side. She processed all of the tomatoes this way, then ran the pulp/seeds/skin stuff through the juicer one more time. This saves a LOT of effort, making the prep of the tomatoes easy.

As this point, she said you could simply freeze the juice to be canned later, or go ahead and do your batch. She combined the fresh juice she has just made with a frozen batch, heating both together in the granite pot.  She filled the jars with the hot juice, the way she did with the beans. She put the jars into a neat insert in the large canning pot. She can do 7 at a time. When the jars have been boiling for 10 minutes, she uses the insert to pick up all the jars out of the water at once, then uses the jar lifter from there. They cool on the counter, popping as the seals show they’re good.

She had a few beans left today, plus a bit of tomato sauce. She put the leftover into a bag, let it cool for a bit and then will put it in the freezer, to wait until the next batch is done.

What an interesting and fun way to learn the basics of how to can! I have a good idea of what I’m supposed to do now. I had fun visiting with my friend, who has a great sense of humor. Her son – who makes Kay look like she fell in a hole – was great fun, too. Kay even gave me some tomatoes, and a small, white “Scallop” Squash.  I’ve never seen or heard of these before. Kay says they’re really good sliced thinly, coated with a bit of flour and fried.  I’m going to try this tonight!

scallop squash-sites.google.com

scallop squash-sites.google.com

I felt like a little kid on a new adventure, with a whole new world opening!

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Filed under Cooking/Canning/Recipes/Low Carb, Friendship

“A Deep Purple”

"A Deep Purple" - Paul Militaru Photography

“A Deep Purple” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Freckles

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant.”
Scott Adams

 

freckles

I introduced you to Freckles awhile back. I bought him, and a goldfish I named Sushi almost a year ago now. I bought them after babysitting with a friend’s tropical fish while she was on a trip. I found, after returning him, that I really missed seeing him.

The fish did fine for awhile, and then poor Sushi died. I decided to just have Freckles by himself, unless he showed signs of missing Sushi. He’s been happy by himself, getting active and blowing bubbles at me every time I come into the room. He doesn’t say much, but I enjoy him a lot.

One amazing thing is how much he’s grown. When I bought him, he was the smaller of the two fish, at about an inch and a half long. Now I’m estimating he’s over 3 inches long.  I hope he doesn’t get much larger or I’ll have to go with an actual aquarium. I would like to stay with this bowl, since Freckles is a messy fish, needing his water changed every other day.

To date, Smoke has NOT discovered Freckles…

 

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Herding Cats

“Herding cats is like trying to nail jello to a tree.” – Unknown

 

SmokePlayinginChips

This is Smoke, the young cat we’ve adopted into our pet family of two dogs and another cat.

To say that Smoke has a mind of her own is a vast understatement. She radiates confidence and has no common sense about when enough is enough. Abby, our older cat, puts up with things as long as she can stand it, then starts hissing and spitting. Smoke studiously ignores Abby’s rejection and continues to attack her.

I used to have a bunch of ‘dust catchers’  on our dining area window sill. Smoke decided to get up there, mindless of the knick-knacks, causing several to crash to the floor. I removed all of the surviving breakable stuff. Then I tried to grow some herbs in pots. That’s a great place for plants due to the sun. They lasted about a week. A crash and a half hour cleanup of ruined plants and shattered pots killed that idea.

I have two unbreakable things on the window sill now. Both have ended up on the floor.

 

mousetraps2

In desperation, we have put mousetraps all along the window sill.   We came home from errands a few days ago and two of the traps had been triggered and were on the floor. Smoke was no worse for wear and acted as if nothing had happened.

We’ll look like a fortress until “Miss Hardhead” learns that this place is a “NO-NO.” If it doesn’t work, I’m thinking about how I can spruce up the mousetraps so they look a bit more decorative…

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Tomato Harvest July 28, 2016

 

tomatoharvest

Today’s harvest is pretty slim, but much appreciated. We’ve been totally spoiled, eating fresh sliced tomatoes as part of our lunches and dinners. Even with daily irrigation, the plants are pretty hoarked at this point, so if we get more tomatoes, I’ll be delighted.

I still have lots of green leaves and yellow or oranges flowers on things in the main square foot garden. I have no clue if the plants will actually make anything. I have a cucumber plant, some squash plants, a melon or two, and more. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas, checking each day to see if anything is happening.

I did finish mixing and hauling Mel’s Mix (vermiculite, peat moss, and three kinds of compost) to the raised bed planters yesterday. The only thing left before actually planting a fall garden is to stretch and tie the strings to demarcate the garden squares. I’ll wait to do that until right before planting. I’m going to call our local suppliers and see if I can get an idea of when they’ll have fall plants for this area.

Our two tomato plants in the ‘nook’ planter (the planter in the space behind the house and beside the porch) have been prolific this season, but are looking awful right now. Today’s plan is to cut as much dead stuff off as I can to give the living parts as much encouragement as I can.

Are you growing a garden this year? I’d love to hear about it!

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Filed under Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Presto Pressure Cooker/Canner

presto As I told you a couple of days ago, we bought a Presto 23 quart pressure cooker/canner that arrived two days ago.

I was intimidated, thinking back to when my mom used one years and years ago and we kept hearing that people blew up their kitchens, were badly injured, etc.

I decided, though, that if I’m really successful with our raised bed square foot gardening efforts, I should be able to can veggies. My husband was more interested in canning meat and fish. This huge pressure cooker/canner can handle anything, enabling us to can whatever we’d like safely.

We did a trial run with water only to see how things worked the day we got it.

Yesterday we cooked a beef roast with potatoes for my husband and broccoli for me.

 

 

We found a good recipe for which we had everything except raw carrots. It said to cook the meat and onions for 30 minutes, let the pressure go down so that we could lift the lid and add veggies, and then bring it up to pressure again and cook for 15 more minutes.

I have to admit that for much of this time my heart was beating like a drum in my chest. I read and reread the directions, then followed them to the letter. I was afraid to open the pot to add the veggies, but made myself do it anyway. When things were finished, we let the cooker lose pressure at its own speed.  Nothing blew up. All worked as it should, making me feel a bit stupid about worrying.

My idea of throwing broccoli in there was a mistake, however.  Even at only 15 minutes, it became part of the ‘broth.’ The roast was juicy and tender, but a bit chewy for our tastes. The potatoes were delicious, my husband said.

The biggest problem we had was moving the hot, cooked food and broth from the cooker to somewhere we could cut up the meat and serve the veggies. We ended up with my husband tipping the cooker while I held a roasting pan under it, moving things very slowly and carefully from one to the other.

The final decision was that I really like the idea of pressure cooking and canning, but don’t want to fight with such a huge cooker for everyday things. I’ll use this one to learn – and do – boiling water and pressure canning of all kinds of things from our garden, Farmer’s Markets, or store sales during the year.

Last night we researched and ordered an Instant Pot, 5 quart size, to use on a regular basis.

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I’m Happy!

happy-az14597.vo.msecnd.net

az14597.vo.msecnd.net

No one won the Powerball Jackpot – $422 million increased to $434 million – yesterday.  That means we all have another chance for the $478 million drawing this Saturday, July 30th.

My husband scoffs, but starts many sentences with, “When you win the Powerball drawing…”  (or the MegaMillions/Publisher’s Clearing House) His list of wants is growing so he’ll be ready.

As is usual with us, we don’t agree on how we would spend the money. (We don’t even use the same salt.) It makes for an interesting, running conversation! It’s nice to fantasize, hoping for something that will never happen – but MIGHT – rather than get depressed about how messed up the world is….

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Sometimes…

Humanity's Team via Cathy Ruggiero

Humanity’s Team via Cathy Ruggiero

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“Hidden from Prying Eyes”

"Hidden from Prying Eyes" - Paul Militaru Photography

“Hidden from Prying Eyes” – Paul Militaru Photography

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I’m Keepin’ On Keepin’ On

Emily Davis, trendingly.com

Emily Davis, trendingly.com

Sometimes I have to admit that keeping my promise to report to you my progress every Wednesday in my efforts to get the lard off is hard to keep. It would be great if each and every week I could report more poundage and more inches gone. In real life, however, this is not the case – at least when you’re an old broad who really has to push herself to exercise.

I have no exciting news this week. I have been indulging lately – giving in to temptation and enjoying every minute. The latest splurges were

  • a large deep-dish supreme pizza and a coke
  • carry out from our favorite Chinese restaurant

Since I’m practicing a lifestyle now, rather than a diet that has an ‘end,’ I think it’s important to indulge now and then. Even though I gain 2 or 3 pounds, having to re-lose that poundage the rest of the week, I’ve satisfied a craving, enjoying every bite and sip, feeling I’m a real person, rather than someone who MUST eat carefully at every meal.

I’ve learned, over the past 11 months, that I can eat what used to be a regular meal and simply get back to my NOW regular low carb diet. My general weight trend is down, having lost 44 pounds so far, and my girth is a bit less, having lost 21 inches.

I’ve also learned that I can now eat at almost any restaurant and not totally blow my low carb lifestyle – unless I choose to simply enjoy the meal and get back on my ‘horse’ the next meal. I feel freer now that my goal is to CHOOSE what I eat and drink.

Right now my biggest problem is exercise. It’s lethally hot here in Arkansas, as it is every summer, but with added humidity this year that gets to me super-fast. My energy level plummets when the heat hits me in the face and my head is wet the minute I walk out the door. Even with a/c in house/stores/car, going in and out of the heat saps my energy.

The biggest thing I’m promising myself this week is that I’ll religiously do the “Walking with Annoying Leslie” DVD, or listen to the insults of the Wii Fit Plus program, plus try to keep up my strength exercising indoors….

I also have to admit that lately I’m distracted by a project frame of mind. I want to go up to my art room and try to design something fun with buttons on a tee. I’m also dreaming of cutting out a gourd. My husband and I just bought some paint to repaint our now clean, but peeling, 1000 gallon propane tank….

taolife.com

taolife.com

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New Challenge

presto

This is a Presto 23 quart pressure canner/cooker. It arrived yesterday.

I have to admit that I’m intimidated by the challenge of learning to use it to cooker, or as a canner, but I’m determined to learn.

We’re trying to grow veggies in our square foot garden – and now our raised bed square foot garden for this fall. I’m hoping to be able to grow enough good veggies that I can can some for the winter. I’ve known people who canned over the years, and am always impressed.

I’m planning to ask my good friend, Kay, if I can come watch her the next time she cans, if that’s convenient for her. She’s done this for years and knows more about what to do, how to do it safely, and tips than I’ll ever learn on my own. I don’t know what type of canning system she has yet, and I’m eager to find out.

We got this one because you can do the boiling water method or the pressure method, canning veggies, fruit, meat, or seafood, plus being able to use it as a pressure cooker.

We’re going to cook our first pot roast in it tonight.

I’ll report how it went tomorrow, unless we blow ourselves up….

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“Scale of Values”

"Scale of Values" - Paul Militaru Photography

“Scale of Values” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Continue

Sun Gazing Via Cathy Ruggiero

Maya Angelou via Sun Gazing via Cathy Ruggiero

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Lewis Metal Yard Art – Take 4

boxturtle2

This (of course) is a box turtle. He’s made from a box, cut metal pipe, sheet metal cut out for the feet, tail, ears and nose. His eyes are cut glass.

 

boxturtle3

 

critterturkey

This is a turkey. His body is a 25 gallon propane tank. His legs and feet are rebar. His head is a tooth from an agricultural implement. His cockscomb is rolled strap steel. His neck is pipe and the wings and tail are cut out sheet metal.  He has googly eyes.

 

daisy1

This “daisy” with stem and leaves is over 6 feet tall. The flower is about 2 feet across, with all parts, except the stem, cut from scrap metal. The center of the flower is an upside-down plastic pot covered with circles of glass.

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You Only Had ONE Job – Take 3

oj8

 

 

oj9

 

 

oj10

 

 

oj11

The source of these is unknown.

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ART

Linda Sweigart via Cathy Ruggiero

Linda Sweigart via Cathy Ruggiero

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Cats and Dogs – Take 4

cnd-jumperposse

jumperposse

 

 

cnd-kelldog24

kelldog24

This one is for Butter, Mary Lou.

 

 

cnd-NotMyRealName14

NotMyRealName14

 

 

cnd-OwlForTheNight

OwlForTheNight

Thanks to Emily Davis, trendingly.com

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Doll Houses – Take 6

dh19-askthedesigndiva.com

askthedesigndiva.com

 

 

dh20-viralnova.com

viralnova.com

 

 

dh21-foundshit.com

foundshit.com

Thanks to Evie Zimmerman, trendingly.com

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Delightful Surprise!

onthewight.com

onthewight.com

Last week I called for a fill up on our propane tanks. We have a 1000 gallon tank for the house and then a 250 gallon tank for the shop. We gritted our teeth as usual (even though they were supposedly having a sale, according to their email) about paying the bill.

The man came today (coming up our steep driveway backwards (I can’t BELIEVE they do that!) and my husband went out to make sure he filled up both tanks. We figured we needed about 250 gallons to top off both tanks.

When my husband came in with the fill up tickets, I was astonished. Instead of the $2.19/gallon or more that we were expecting, it was $1.09/gallon for the house tank and $1.19/gallon for the shop tank (different plans, different prices – but BOTH a dollar less per gallon than we expected!)

My husband decided I was too stupid to read the tickets. I handed them to him and then he had to eat his words. (I made him grovel a bit for insulting me.) Then he decided it must be a mistake, so he called the propane office. The lady confirmed the prices were correct. He managed to tell her we were ‘pleased’ before hanging up.

We’re still smiling. This just doesn’t happen anymore!!!!

 

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“Formation of Limestone Rocks”

"Formation of Limestone Rocks" - Paul Militaru Photography

“Formation of Limestone Rocks” – Paul Militaru Photography

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Naked Ladies

 -Eureka Springs AR via Cindy Bassnett Thurman

“Naked Ladies” -Eureka Springs AR via Cindy Bassnett Thurman

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Filed under Arkansas, Awe-Inspiring Photography