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Author: Shirley Dawson

Is Photography Art?

The Art of Photography

The controversy about whether photography is art is one that has been raging in the art world for a long time and I’m are not likely to totally solve it here.  But it can be an important decision you have to make if you are considering a career in photography with the goal of producing quality art works.  If that is where you are, the idea that someone would say “That’s not art, you just took a picture” is pretty disturbing.  So it’s worth looking at the question from several different angles before we pick which side to weigh in on.

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Does CBD oil really work?


CBD Oil – What is all the hype about?

In 2018, I began to read and hear about CBD oil from various sources and my first thought was “no way would I be using “weed”, I’ve made it to age 66 without using recreational drugs and no reason to start now.  However, as I kept hearing more and more about certain benefits, I dug deeper and found out that CBD oil is not “weed”.  CBD oil has little of the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) component.  THC is what gets you high and gives you euphoric and intoxicating feelings. CBD oil will not get you “high,” because it contains little to no THC.


What to do during COVID19 quarantine – how about kayaking?

An image of kayakers on a lake

Social Distancing on the Water in your Kayak

Staying home and social distancing has made time go slowly for many of us during this Pandemic.  Maybe you are like me and going slightly stir-crazy right now.  I know I need to be careful because I’m vulnerable to the virus (being 66, a diabetic, asthmatic and on chemo drugs).  I know I need to be careful, but I would love to get out.

Lately I’ve been considering getting in my kayak and floating some of the local lakes in Bella Vista.  I checked and the lakes are not closed.  In my kayak, I can social distance and still enjoy the beautiful Ozark mountains we live in.

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Best Outside Games for kids and Adults

Outdoor Games for Kids and Adults

We have all been stuck inside for a month or more and yes, it can be so boring.  I’m 66 and I find it boring myself.  If I feel bored with my books, puzzles, netflix and internet, what about kids and younger adults.  What can they do that is both active and fun?

Outdoor Games

There are lots of outside games that are fun

With the weather warming up here in NW Arkansas, we have the option for several outdoor type games.  Maybe you can remember like I do, those evenings playing bat mitten, volleyball, pickup football and softball in the side yard.  We had so much fun and got great exercise too.

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Grandparents -missing your grandchildren? Do this!

Image of two grandparents and two kids along a lakefront.

Miss your grandchildren?

Maybe you are like me during this quarantine, you miss seeing and hugging your grandchildren.

This pandemic has messed up all my plans to see grandchildren.

We have had to cancel traveling across the country to see our beautiful Jeanne graduate from high school. Our 3 little grandchildren (14 months, 4.5 years and 7 years) are only 3 hours away but we still have to stay home because of the quarantine.  All this can be so depressing. I really love my grand kids and I’ve been thinking up ways to stay in contact with my kids and grandchildren.


Home Asthma Treatment during Pollen Season

Image of a bee on a flower with pollen in the air

PPI have Asthma and it Hates Pollen

I must say that I’ve been longing for the end of winter and for spring to get here,especially since I’be been self quarantining inside for weeks now.

Image of a cluster of red bud blossomsI love seeing the red-buds blooming from my deck and our windows.  The shining sun has certainly picked my mood up.  I even took my dog for a ride in my convertible the other day and we both truly enjoyed being outside and having the sun shing on us.

However, one thing I hate about spring is the “pollen”.  I have asthma and right now, I’ve been having a big flareup with coughing driving me nuts.  This happens every spring and fall for me, so I’m used to the feeling of shortness of breath and the constant coughing when this happens.  I know I don’t have the COVID-19 virus because I have no fever and the coughing with tightness in my lungs is familiar to me.


Bella Vista Churches go Online -Listen to these messages from God

Image of church buildings

Bella Vista Churches – Sermons/Message online

I’m finding that my own church here in Bella Vista, has some outstanding sermons and messages available online during this time of crisis.  I truly believe our Pastors are being touched by God during this crisis in a special way to allow us to “hear what God wants us to hear” in this time of fear and uncertainty.


Stuck at Home? -this is the time to read!

Reading with an e tablet has great benefits

I’m a voracious reader myself and I’ve been using e readers for years now.  Back when I read mostly “real” books, I had so many books in my house that my husband once told me the weight of our home was mostly in my books – lol!

Then I found e readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Amazon Kindle app for my phone.  I began to read mostly digital versions of books with my amazon Kindle and the app on my iPhone.

The kindle app can be installed on a desktop or labtop also, but on my larger sized iphone I read perfectly well.  I’ve found some true advantages to using e readers and apps.


Stuck at Home! – Consider doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles Can Be Fun!

One thing great about puzzles is they can capture your attention and interest and they certainly pass the time.  But they can be a lot of fun also.  My family has typically got out a jigsaw puzzle once a year during Christmas Holidays when there was more time to work on them.  When my daughter was in her teens she enjoyed working them with us.

After my husband, Mel, and I retired, we had time to work on puzzles more often and we have pulled out one about every 5-6 months.  But now, during this pandemic and having to stay at home so much, we have worked on several puzzles to pass the time. Typically we choose puzzles that are about 1000 pieces and can finish them in 2-3 days (except for one very difficult one about 3 months ago that “kicked our booties” being very hard to do. A huge group of same color puppies – it was extremely hard and took forever.  Then, we found one piece was missing and so threw it away.  Unfortunately a few days after that the piece was found but too late to save the puzzle from the trash pickup.

But a month ago when the world was still sane, we decided to pick a 3000 piece one.  Mel purchased a large clear acrylic sheet to put on our large dining room table and it fills the sheet.  There are so many pieces that we had to leave most of them in the boxes and put just a few out on the table.  That was about 1.5 weeks ago and it still isn’t finished because I’m not working too hard on it – I work by putting all pieces of similar color out to work on but its impossible with this many pieces.  Mel works on it several times a day and he is finally making headway.


Stuck at Home! – Use this time to enjoy nature’s beauty and learn about the winged beauties around you!

Image of Blue Bird on Feeder

There’s time to look out your window now!

Image of blue bird sticking head out of blue bird box.Right outside my office window I have a bird feeder and I can see our bluebird house several yards away.  I’ve captured bluebirds with my camera a while back during spring.  I’ve seen them looking out of their own door/window the the bluebird house like this.

Putting up and maintaining a bird feeder can give you lots of glimpses of beautiful nature here in the Ozarks.


Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family – Part 1

An image of a cat and dog cuddling

Choosing The Right Pet For Your Family

Most individuals have an idea just what type of pet they want; however, the maintenance of a pet can surely cause some concern. Knowing how to choose the correct pet for you may be easy or somewhat difficult. You may have had several pets as a child and know you need a companion for your own home or you may have always wanted a pet but been told you could not have one. Whatever the case you may need to take into consideration some key points to pet care when deciding what pet is right for you.


How I make my face look younger?

Image of beautiful woman's face

Looking younger!

When I had my own photography studio I used to really enjoy editing my images, especially those of the high school seniors.  I loved touching up their faces to make them glow (none of my senior images had zits or acne)  it was so much fun.  In fact I edited every image I took so that faces looked better and skin was pretty.  I even smoothed out a lot of wrinkles for some of the older clients.  They all loved the touched up images.


Best Dog Backpack – You can put them to work!

Image of dog with backpack

Maybe Your Dog can carry his own weight!

Many of us enjoy taking our furry friends with us on trips and walks and it can be great fun.  But what about the dog’s water and drinking bowl?  Do you simply add that to your own pack?

There is no reason your dog can’t carry his/her own stuff, especially if he is not too small.  For my husband and myself, our dog “Boaz” is plenty big enought to carry his own stuff at 130 pounds.  Bo loves to go walking and hiking with my husband, but he does need to have water and something to drink out of just like my husband does.  Recently Bo went along on a 10 mile hike and we decided that he needed to carry his own things.  My husband jury-rigged a small human waistpack for him to carry across his shoulders but that didn’t work out so well – his movements made the pack slide around off his shoulders.  So my husband went shopping to get him a “real” doggie backpack.  Bo is rather large, so he had to go along to try it on.  It just fits and is a little snug but works well without being too tight on him.


How to Make Walking Fun and Interesting?

Image of walker walking down country path

Walking can be interesting

Here in Bella Vista, Arkansas we see people walking all the time.  They walk around Lake Bella Vista, they walk the numerous walking trails and paths, they walk their dogs, they walk in groups, and where I live in in Norwood Courts, they walk uphill to their mailboxes.

Regular walking is known to be great exercise, and it only takes a few minutes each day to enhance your health.  As a person in a wheelchair, my goal is to get out of this wheelchair and be able to walk on my own again someday.  My husband walks a lot:  1) walking our dog; 2) hiking with the hill-n-dale hiking club; 3) walking to Harps at Town Center for a few groceries; 4) walking to our mailbox. Yes, walking is part of his daily planned activites along with several other exercise means (pickleball, yoga class, biking, fit blast class and more).

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Choosing the Right Hiking Backpack

Hiking Backpacks

If you are a hiker, one thing to get right is your backpack.

Size of Backpack

You need to consider the right size for you.  One way to figure this out is to measure the vertical distance from your neck (from the bony bump at the base of your neck to your the center of your back at the hip bones).  You may need a helper to do this.

Vertical Height:

16″ or less, get a size Small

16.5 – 19.5″ get a size Medium

20″ and more, get a Large


Thoughts for Decorating your Home

Image of decorated living area

Home Decorating

Utter the two words “home decorating” in a crowd or women and the place will go mad. These two words seem to breathe fire in women’s bellies. Most women love the idea of home decorating. When discussed in a crowd, there will likely be all sorts of ideas and tips passed around. For some strange reason the female population enjoy smaking changes, especially to their homes. The idea of getting rid of the old and bringing in the new gets women all excited.


Why I buy from Amazon?

Image of woman with laptop computer and credit card in hand

My Favorite Online Store

I have no problems saying is my favorite online store to purchase from.  I buy online a lot.  Mostly because being in a wheelchair makes shopping at brick and mortar companies pretty difficult for me.  Its a lot of trouble loading my wheelchair and myself in my car and then driving to a regular store, unloading my wheelchair and myself and then rolling myself into the store and then pushing a cart or holding  a basket with my selections and then getting it all back in my vehicle and driving home again.  Then, once back at my home, getting my purchases from my vehicle to inside my home is yet another time consuming chore.


Top Cold Press Coffee Makers of 2019

Image of coffee and coffee beans for cold press coffee

Cold Press Coffee Maker

For the last few weeks of 2019, my husband and I have been talking about cold press coffee.  He had read an article in Consumer Reports on them and became interested.  When he asked me about them and I read that cold press coffee was less bitter, I became interested also.  I’ve always thought the smell of coffee perking was awesome!  However, when I drink that coffee, I’m disappointed with the bitterness I taste.  I’ve tried various types of coffee and found all to be quite bitter and never living up to the “promise of the magnificent aroma”.


Road Cycling Safety Tips and Other guidance that can save your life!

Image of road ahead while riding on a Bicycle.

Road Cycling Safety Tips

Bicycle safety is a very important part of riding a bicycle. People ride bikes for many reasons including recreation and relaxation, for exercise, muscle toning, and weight loss, charity bike-a-thons, wine tours, bicycle races and many more!

While riding your bike is a very rewarding experience, you MUST know and use proper bicycle safety rules.


Why not let me help you finish your family Christmas shopping?

Image of gift bags

Get The Last Family Gifts Right here On Our Mall.

I just finished my Christmas gift shopping online last night.  I do most of my shopping online because I’m in a wheelchair and its so much more fun and easier to shop online and have it delivered right to my door.  I shop mostly on Amazon – the Worlds Largest Online Retailer.  I love to shop there because the choices are endless and my Amazon Prime subscription gets my orders here so quickly – usually within two days.  I also use Amazon all the time to find and download books for my kindle (I’m a voracious reader!).  I have Kindle Unlimited and I can try all kinds of books and new authors for free.  I select the many, many free books from new authors and even well-known authors also.  It’s perfect for my reading habit.

The Seasonal Sale Shop here on the Bella Vista Online Mall is now updated for Christmas.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time selecting possible gift choices.  You can go there and see what I’ve selected this year.  Or just check out any of the other many Shops from the “Our Shops” dropdown menu.

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Starting a new online drawing course today – to learn to draw realistically

Image of man hands hands with labtop and writing tablet

Ultimate Drawing Course – Beginner to Advanced by  Jaysen Batchelor

Today I started the “Ultimate Drawing Course – Beginner to Advanced” by Jaysen Batchelor.  Jason is a very talented young man and a good teacher.  I’m already having fun with the first lesson.  I joined after midnight last night in order to get the special pricing of $9.99 (awesome price).  The course has 63 lectures and over 50 drawing projects.  Its going to be very good.  I stayed up until after 3 am to begin the course already.  Here’s my “eye drawing” the first assignment.

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Meet Dana Johnson, local photographer and creator of beautiful art!

Image of Dana Johnson

Meet Dana Johnson, a local photographer

You will find Dana Johnson, a Bella Vista Resident with his wife Sonya since 2007, most any day out on the trails and roads in and around Bella Vista and NW Arkansas with his camera.  Dana is a member of the Bella Vista/Bentonville Photography Club and you will find him at most of their events.  Dana is from Plano, Texas.

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Try Cycling for Your Health – its fun and fit!

Image of two women biking

Cycling Fitness Benefits

Biking/Cycling, just like other sports requires practice to become better at it.  We know that cycling is a great exercise to lose weight and become healthier.  So, if  you have decided to take up cycling as a hobby for both fun and fitness, you should learn as much as you can about the sport and how to become better at it.

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Lets learn to do Yoga! Plus Challenge Review

Image of woman sitting on yoga mat

Is Yoga The Perfect Exercise?

Is Yoga the perfect form of exercise and relaxation? Let’s make a list of what our ideal type of exercise would do. Firstly it would be simple enough that anyone could do it, but have enough variations and different methods that it would maintain the interest of someone who had been practicing it for years. It would need to be easy to learn so that people could pick up the basics quickly and stat seeing the benefits as soon as possible. To be a perfect form of exercise it would need to be capable of keep our body in good shape all by itself. It would help with weight loss, circulation and increasing the strength of the muscles. It would stimulate the lymphatic system as well as the blood flow and help the body dispose of waste products, improving the overall immune response system. It would also have benefits that went beyond health – the sharpening of the mind and an increased sense of well being and contentment. Ideally it would be an exercise form that required no expensive equipment and that could be practiced practically anywhere, alone or in a group.

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Fly Fishing for Dummies (Arkansas version) – Part 1

Image of woman fly fishing in stream

History Of Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has been around in various forms for many years. Early historical records indicate that Macedonian fishermen were using artificial flies to catch fish as early as the second century. The Roman Claudius Aelianus described the Macedonian anglers as using six-foot rods with six-foot line. Aelianus detailed how the Macedonian fishermen would craft artificial flies from a hook with red wool and insect wings tied on. These Macedonian fishermen were apparently quite successful with their technique. There is also some evidence that fishing with artificial flies may even predate the second-century Macedonian techniques.

Unfortunately, little else was written about ancient fly fishing methods. It was 1496 before any major work was published describing fly fishing.

It is thought that modern fly fishing probably developed in England and Scotland. Fly fishing techniques similar to modern techniques began to be developed in England in the 19th century. Around this time fly fishing clubs were also formed in England to accommodate a growing interest in the sport. Part of the interest in fly fishing in southern England was because of the prevalence of shallow, weedy rivers. Fly fishing proved to be well-adapted to this type of watercourse.

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Learning to Play Tennis for the Absolute Beginner!

Image of woman with tennis racquet running to make a stroke

Basics of Tennis Explained

Tennis if you have ever stopped to consider what it is, can be called a fairly basic sport. Because of this, virtually anyone can learn how to play successfully, but the hard part is the physical aspect.

In terms of how the game is actually played, there are some basic guidelines that will allow you to play successfully without feeling as if you are lost. Even if you are not interested in playing but merely watching, having an idea about what is going on and why will give you a much better understanding of the game overall.

The game of tennis is played with a racket.  The game may be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber tennis ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s side of the court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

The equipment that is used is a tennis ball, tennis racquet and a tennis court. For each individual player there is also tennis shoes and of course suitable tennis clothes. Otherwise, there is no other equipment that is needed. This makes it a sport that is fairly light to play, unlike football, which has a large amount of heavy equipment that is involved as well.

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Start Fitness Cycling!

Image of mountain bikers on a trail

What You Need to Know Before Taking Up Cycling

Are you thinking of taking up biking as a hobby or perhaps a means of exercise?  Maybe you are ditching the car or public transportation and taking up bike riding as a means to get around. Either way, it’s a great hobby or workout or mode of transportation that is fun and easy to do.  Biking is considered Low impact – and causes less strain and injuries than many other exercises.  Cycling will use all of the major muscle groups as you pedal and is great for strength and stamina.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started in your cycling.

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Dealing with Snakes on the Trail

Watch out for those trail loving snakes!

Summer is here and naturally, you want to be outside enjoying the beautiful nature around us here in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas.  Hikers, walkers, and bikers are out in force.  Kayaks and canoes are in the waters of our beautiful lakes.  The weather is getting hot, slowly but surely.

With warmer weather, we need to start watching out for snakes in our yards and around the trails and lakes.  Yes, Arkansas does have some venomous snakes we need to be aware of.  But no need to be terrified of enjoying our natural beauty here in the Ozarks.  Employing caution and keeping aware of our surroundings will help us to stay safe from these native reptiles.


Product: Paint Basket Online Art Lessons website Review


Product:  Paint Basket – Online Art Lessons

Website: Paint Basket Online Art Lessons

(an art training membership site)

Cost:  tutorials are free; VIP membership is$1 for first 7 days; $19/month after that.

My Rating

Target Audience:  Artists and those who want to learn about various art, how to create it and increase their skill levels.


Paint Basket Online Art Lessons is a site that offers over 500 draw and paint along classes and courses totaling over 800 hours worth of art instruction.  There are over 100 FREE tutorials and more added weekly for anyone.

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image of hikers

I know you have probably heard this phrase before.


Maybe it was said in a mean or sarcastic way.  But the truth is.  TAKING A HIKE  IS very good for you. Especially hiking in a natural setting like we have in Bella Vista.  Research is showing that there is certainly many benefits of hiking regularly.


Less Stress and better cognitive function


Text image with words"Yes, the ones who walked in a natural environment"



A study by Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources indicated that time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and aspects of cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a dampening effect on anxiety.  The study had participants walking 50 minutes in a natural environment and 50 minutes in an urban environment.  Guess which group were less stressed, had less anxiety and increased their work performance?

There are definite mental health benefits of hiking in a peaceful rural setting as opposed to an urban setting.

Better Sleep Quality


Welcome to the Bella Vista Online Mall

Welcome to the Bella Vista Online Mall

Lake Ann imageBella Vista, Arkansas is located in Northwest Arkansas in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.  This area with its miles of beautiful woodlands, hills, and lakes is one of the most popular places to retire in the U.S.

Bella Vista has been nationally recognized as one of America’s Top 10 Best Healthy Places To Retire by U.S. News & World Report, and one of the Top 25 best places for affordable homes by and Money Magazine. In 2017, Bella Vista was ranked as one of the 25 Best Places To Retire.

The population of Bella Vista takes advantage of the natural beauty surrounding their homes by taking part in many outdoor activities, from, walking, running, hiking, tennis, golf, kayaking, tennis, and pickleball.