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In all my wondering around the Texas Hill Country, I’ve discovered crosses, placed on top of hills, is fairly common. Most of these have been discovered randomly, which makes them all that more fun.

Cross Hill, Castroville

Castroville is an adorable town and well worth a visit. The city park is located on the west side of town. Along with all then normal park stuff, there are a number of trails through the hills that one can take. Cross Hill trail leads you up the cross. It’s not a long trail, it was less than a mile round trip, but the views from the top are great. 

Located in Castroville Regional Park, 816 Alsace Ave, Castroville, TX

The Coming King Sculpture Prayer Garden, Kerrville

If you’ve ever driven I-10 through Kerrville, you’ve probably seen the cross up on the north side of the interstate. The cross is 77′ 7″ tall and has a light on it, so it’s visible at night. There is so much more up there than the cross though. There are half a dozen large sculptures, all religious. Bible verses are on the walkways and prayer rocks border the paths. There’s actually a lot to see and more sculptures are in the works. 

Located at 520 Benson Dr., Kerrville, TX 

Cross Mountain Park, Fredericksburg

Located on the north side of Fredericksburg, the cross has been in the park since 1946. With an elevation of 1,951 ft., it was once used a lookout for Native Americans and when settlers arrived, they erected a timber cross and named it. There isn’t much to the park currently, but it’s an easy walk up to the top, if not a little steep, and offers good views of the town. 

Located on N. Milam Street, Fredericksburg
Entrance is well marked with signs on both side of the road.

The post Texas Hill Country Crosses appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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Nothing But Room by Kara - 1w ago

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
I really liked this one. Anna lives alone. She became agoraphobic after an accident involving her, her husband, and daughter. Her husband and daughter no longer live with her, but she talks to them on a regular basis. She watches the neighbors out her window and sees a woman being murdered. In trying to figure out what’s going on, we learn more about her, as well as what happened to the woman. Super good.

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
Some of hers I love and some are just ok. This was good, but not as good as I was expecting. A family moves from rural Pennsylvania to Philadelphia in 1918. WWI is still ongoing and the Spanish Flu is on it’s way. The family deals with loss, but they also find a baby that gives them all hope. In then jumps to a few years later and we see how everyone coped with the loss and what happened with the baby. The book also tied up some other loose ends, which I was very happy it did. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everyone raves about this book. Like seriously raves. It was good, but I don’t know that it was worthy of the accolades people have given it. Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl move to Shaker Heights, Ohio, the idyllic town. They rent a house from the Richardson’s, a family the complete opposite of their own, and Pearl becomes friends with their kids. Mia then starts to clean house for them as well. Elena Richardson is suspicious of them and starts digging around in Mia’s past. Things then happen in both families, that forever change them.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
I really liked this one too. Nellie is about to get married to a wonderful man. Everything is perfect. Then there is Vanessa, who is recently divorced and trying to put her life back together. I don’t want to give it away, but when you get to part two and the light bulb goes on, a whole lot of things come together and start to make sense. 

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
It’s the 70’s, Vietnam POW with PTSD moves his family to Alaska. They are ill prepared, but make it work with the help of neighbors. They basically live off the grid with no electricity or running water. The dark winter days start to get to him and his wife Cora and daughter Leni are left to deal with surviving the weather and him. I thought the situation in the book would happen a lot sooner than it did. I like how it all played out though, even though you think it’s good, then it’s not, then it is, then it’s maybe not again. The descriptions of Alaska and how they lived were also really good.

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson
I almost gave up on this about 50 pages in, but the reviews I read said the same and they kept reading and it got a lot better. And it did. Angie is married to Paul, who at my guess is almost 20 years older than her. He gets call from his niece that his brother is dead and sister-in-law missing, so they fly to New York. The story is told from Angie, the niece Ruby, and Ruby’s mother Silja’s point of view. This way, we get the whole story of what’s happening now, what happened with Silja to lead up to this, and Ruby’s side of then and now. In all this, Angie learns a lot about her husband and it’s not good.

Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah
This was super good too. Cara is British and in an effort to get a break from her family, she books a last minute stay at a resort in Arizona. She arrives late that first night and the desk clerk accidentally gives her keys to a room that is already occupied. The next day, she learns of a child that was murdered 7 years prior. The story was huge news in America, like Casey Anthony Jon Benet Ramsey huge, but being on the other side of the pond, Cara hadn’t heard about it. She realizes that the girl she saw in the occupied room the night before was the murdered girl. She then sets out trying to figure out the truth of the girl, while dealing with her own family drama.

The post April Books appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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Disclosure: Thanks to P&G for compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Every few years, military families pack up and move. We leave behind what’s grown to become familiar – our friends, our favorite salon, our favorite restaurants, and all those little insider things one learns when they’ve lived somewhere a while. Then we pack our families up and start all over again. I always thought the service member had it easy when it came to moving. They knew going on that they had a job to go to every day. It’s the spouse who is left at home to figure out where the best preschool is, how the school pick up line works, and where the best dry cleaner is for uniforms. 

We’ve come to rely on the internet for all this information. Facebook pages have become the default for questions, but wouldn’t it be easier if everything was contained in one place? You could just pick your duty station, whether current or upcoming, and look into resources like things to do, who to have take care of your lawn while your spouse is deployed, and to sell that car before you head overseas. 

Procter and Gamble, in partnership with Operation Homefront, has launched Start Strong, Stay Strong. The free site is all about helping military families connect with each other in every way it could be needed. So much of military life is being strong – strong when they leave, strong when we leave others, and strong when starting over. P&G just wants to help us accomplish that. 

In order to do this though, they need our help. They need us to post our items for sale and create groups to ask questions and find resources. We all know that no one knows all this better than either the seasoned spouse or the spouse who has been at the duty station for a while.

 

The site is super easy to navigate. Sign up (no twenty questions, just your name and email address) and choose your location. It filters by the nearest base to you or you can select any other base. I went with Joint Base San Antonio, since that encompasses Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB, and Fort Sam Houston. 

From there, read through the stories that are posted, or add to the resources. If you want to start a group, you can start one for just about anything. Just click on the “Create a Group” button under Groups and fill out the questions. 

There is also a section titled “Deals.” I’m always a fan of deals. Through April 28, when you buy $30 worth of your favorite P&G products at the Commissary, you get $10 back through either PayPal or a Prepaid Visa card. I like to plan my shopping trips around sales like this, so I like this!

Seriously though, a community like this is only as good as its members! Sign up and start a group or post a local base event. Want to find moms for a playdate? Start a group and find them! 

The post Start Strong and Stay Strong with P&G appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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Nothing But Room by Kara - 3w ago

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
I feel like this was kinda YA, but not labeled as such. Merit is a teenage girl. She lives with her odd family in a renovated church. She doesn’t get along with anyone in her family and they don’t get her. Her step-mom’s brother shows up, then she meets her twin sister’s boyfriend and starts to like him, and then a big family secret comes out. She starts to figure out that how she sees the world isn’t how it really is. This was good, better than I thought it would be.

This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong
Third in the Casey Duncan/Rockton series. I basically ran to the library to get this because I loved the previous ones so much. It was a little anti-climatic for me, but still good. Rockton is an off the grid town where victims of crimes can pay to hide out at for a few years. It’s an interesting concept and it’s all be well thought out for the books. The town gets a new resident that they are told is a serial killer. They want nothing to do with him because they can’t protect the citizens with him there. He proclaims his innocence, so they start looking into what really happened. 

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
I feel like this was hyped up and it wasn’t that great. A woman texts three of her friends and simply says ‘I need you’. They drop everything and go to her. As the story goes on, you start to figure out why she has this hold over them and what happened when they were teenagers. What got me though, was that they were all friends for like a semester of school. That’s it. Now, 20 years later, they drop their lives to rush back to her. What?? Also, the horrible thing wasn’t that horrible (it was, but they didn’t know the extent of it) and there were really just stupid teenagers. I hate when books make semi-bad things out to be horrible, life altering, no one will love me if they know the truth, kinda things. 

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Rose lives in a dead end town with a dead end job. Her mom and stepdad gave her an ultimatum to move out and she has nowhere to go. An arsonist is also making himself known around town, most recently burning down the courthouse and killing a boy that was trapped inside. Rose wants to be a journalist, so she starts sending stories to a tabloid like paper. In doing so, she stirs up trouble and starts to figure out what’s going on. I really liked this one. It wasn’t quite the typical who done it kinda thriller.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
A fictional story, but about a real person. I like these. I learned a ton about Andrew Carnegie and his family (which oddly enough, I Googled things and listened to a podcast about him a couple days after I finished this and everything about him was true). Clara becomes a maid in the Carnegie household and develops a relationship with Carnegie. She is smart and starts giving him advice on business matters. There relationship was inappropriate only because she was his mother’s ladies maid. And so on and so forth. Good book and quite interesting.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
1970’s Britain. Joanna’s father dies. She wasn’t close to him, but when going through the few things he had left, she finds a letter he had written to a woman in Italy during WWII. A letter that was returned unopened. She reads it and it references their boy, so she heads to Italy to figure out if her father had a child with a woman. A woman he had to have met when his plane was shot down during the war. She ends up in a tiny town, the kind tourists skip over. She starts asking questions and no one claimed to know anything, but then stuff starts happening. With the help of who she thinks may be her father’s child, they figure it out. I like the WWII books that don’t always focus on the obvious. The war was just part of the backstory here. 

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
Another WWII era book with factual events thrown in. Hannah’s family flees Germany in 1939. Her parents managed to secure visa’s for them in Cuba. They bought a house there and helped a friend and his son get on the St. Louis to Cuba as well. Once they arrive, the entire ship is turned away and told they can’t dock. The authorites end up letting maybe 30 people off, of which Hannah and her mother are included. We jump to present day, with 12 year old Anna getting a present from her great aunt Hanna in Cuba. Anna’s father died when she was little and wants to know more, so her and her mom travel to Cuba to meet Hannah. Again, jumps between past and present. This was more about Cuba though and what happened there with the government and everything. It really wasn’t about WWII at all. Good book and interesting. 

The Secret Place by Tana French
How can all her books be soooo long, yet cover so little time? I enjoy them, but I really feel like they are just too long sometimes. This involved an all girl’s school and a boy who was murdered the previous year. Some of the teenage girls in this book were beyond snooty bitches. I really hope I wasn’t half that bad as a teenager. Actually, I know I wasn’t. I would have been afraid of cops, not sassed them. The boys murder went unsolved until a girl brings a clue in. The detectives go back to ask more questions and in doing so, figure out what happened. The book jumps between the present with the detectives and the past with the girls and what happened.

The post March Books appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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Disclosure: Thanks to Razor and Kids Obstacle Challenge for providing race registration for us! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Like most families, we are big on doing things together. It’s not always the easiest thing to find activities we all enjoy though. When I was contacted about the Kids Obstacle Challenge, I was super excited about it. My daughter was even more excited. She may have screamed. 

The Challenge is a 1.5-2 mile course with 12-15 obstacles. It’s not a timed race, so kids (and parents) can take their time and not feel rushed to finish. It’s more about the fun and the adventure of it all. The obstacles include an army crawl, hurdles, rock walls, rope climbing, and rope swings over water. Four of the obstacles included water, three of which was mud. That was half the fun though.

So, the way it works is that you register your kids and then you get to run for free with them. Start times are every 30 minutes, so choose the time that works best for you. Each race has the kids start by age, with the oldest going first, so the little ones aren’t trampled. Any obstacle can be skipped if a kid things it’s too hard and no need for the parents to worry, they can skip them all. I did a few of them, mostly the ones involving mud. 

Each kid that is registered gets a goodie bag with Clif bars, stickers, plastic bags (to throw all your wet, nasty clothes in), and upon finishing the race, a medal. They have a photographer on site as well and I’m excited to see those pictures!

If you’re kids are a little older, age 10-16, there is a competitive wave. It is timed, but the top 3 finishers in each age group get a prize from this year’s sponsor, Razor. I’m talking full Razor scooters and the like. Razor is all about getting kids outside for fresh air and family time, so they are perfect for this!

It’s been a few years (like 20) since I’ve ran any kind of race, but in this setting, with no time limits, there were walkers and runners. We did a bit of each and finished right under a half hour. There is a rinse station at the end and fruit and water were provided. I really was impressed with the set up. Besides all that, there was a warm up area for the kids and lots of room for them to run around. Also, if you wanted to run the course again, it’s just $5. My daughter wanted to do it, so she went by herself. I saw her off, then parked myself at the finish line to watch everyone come in. The last obstacle is a low crawl through a mud pit. It’s so funny to watch some people go around and others dive right in. I was surprised at the amount of parents who had to convince their kids to get in there and get dirty. 

This was a very well organized and well thought out event. Tickets are on sale for all locations now. I advise buying early to take advantage of the pre-sale prices. Current dates are below, but there are more cities coming soon, so check the site!

May 5 – Atlanta
May 12 – Raleigh/Durham NC
May 19 – Boston
June 2 – Washington DC
June 9 – Nashville
June 16 – Chicago
June 30 – Kansas City, KS
July 7-8 – Denver
July 21 – Portland, OR
September 15-16 – Bay Area, CA

The post Kids Obstacle Challenge appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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Disclosure: I was provided compensation for my review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Do you love pimple popping videos? Don’t lie, I love them. They are so satisfying. I get on a roll some nights and can end up watching an hour of zit popping or blackhead extraction. I know there are plenty of people who think it’s utterly disgusting, but I am not one of those! I sometimes wish I had cable again so I could watch Dr. Pimple Popper on TLC. No? Ok, maybe you like to pick your husband’s (or who ever’s) zits. I know plenty of people who do love this, so don’t judge. My son currently has a blackhead that I would love to get my hands on, but he won’t let me. I’ve seriously considered to take him to get a facial, but I can’t get him to agree. 

If you love all of the above, gag gifts, or just gross stuff, you’ll love Zits (EWWWW!).

These packs are available at Walmart and other major retailers. All you have to do is peel the back off and stick it on your face or wherever! Then pop away! It’s so gross, but the kids were dying as they popped each others. You pop it like you would pop an actual zit, then all the gunk inside squirts out. 

So wrong, but it’s harmless and guaranteed to get laughs. Each pack comes with 25 zits in a variety of sizes. Instructions are included, but it’s pretty self explanatory. I mean we’ve all popped a zit at some point in our life.

With an MSRP of $4.99, these are perfect for stocking stuffers or as a gag gift for a teenager. 

Zits Pop n Play Pimples Toy Commercial - I Got Zits - Wacky Mom :15 2018 - YouTube

Even better, you can enter to win your own Zits
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Zits Gag Gifts Review and Giveaway appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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If you have paid any attention to the news that past few days, you’ve heard about what’s going on in Syria. While I pay attention, I’m not going to try to pretend I know exactly what’s going on at all times. Assad isn’t the nicest guy and while we don’t need to police the world, it’s hard to sit back and let some evil asshole murder innocent people. That’s kinda been the thing with the last few wars. So, air strikes on Syria. We aren’t alone in this though, the UK and France are right along with us. 

No, no one wants war. No one wants to kill innocent civilians, which happens in cases like this and Iraq and Afghanistan. You try to take out the bad so the good can prevail. I’m not here to talk politics though. I’m here to talk about how much I despise the media. 

Talk has been about us going to war again. I’ve seen numerous messages on social media about it and about keeping our military in your prayers. Ummmmm…what? Have the military not been in your prayers the past 17 years? Yeah, we’ve consistently been at war since 2001. Why does the civilian population not realize this? Cause our media has “better” things to talk about. And no, the things they talk about aren’t necessarily better. We as a country though, have forgotten about our military. We are currently in Afghanistan and we have troops in Syria now. Do people not know that either? We’ve even put our people back in Iraq because (in my opinion) we pulled out to early.

What’s funny is that I wrote about this in December of 2011. That was when the last of our military was pulled out of Iraq and the media was going on and on about how all our military would be home for Christmas. That’s great and all, but my husband was deployed to Afghanistan as I was listening to newscasters say this. He wasn’t going to be home for Christmas. Neither was anyone else in Afghanistan. 

The media has an endgame, we all know that. I also don’t fault the civilian, someone who has no ties to the military and relies on the media for such information, to know that we are and have been at war for the past 17 years. It hasn’t stopped. It won’t stop anytime soon. The media will continue to talk about war and glamorize it, until it’s no longer getting the ratings they want and they’ll move on to something else. So, as long as our military is where they are, no matter how you feel about the ‘war’ or their mission, there is more to it than you are told. So, just pray for them, or just acknowledge that they are there. They are doing a job, same as you. They may not whole heartedly agree with the reasoning for why they are there, but they see and experience things that you may never see or experience (I’m thinking about all the things I’ve been told about Iraq and Afghanistan from the husband and others who’ve been deployed there), so don’t berate them for their job. 

The post War in Syria, What? Did You Forget We’ve Been at War? appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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In the variety of places I’ve lived over the years, I’ve had hard water. It’s never been an issue before, beyond the normal buildup on shower heads and residue on dishes. When we moved to Texas, our house had a water softener. Great! I didn’t really notice anything different though. Then we moved to this house. No water softener and I’m assuming we have hard water since the previous house had a softener. 

No big deal though, right? I’ve lived with it before. First couple loads in the dishwasher came out covered in a chalky film. I ran it empty. I ran it with jet dry. I ran it with cleaner stuff. After a couple cleans, it finally got better. It didn’t totally go away, but better. Then there’s my hair. We moved in the beginning of January, but I didn’t start to notice it until a month later. I had gotten my hair done twice in January and since they washed and styled it both times, I stretched those washes out as long as possible. In February though, I started to notice my hair felt like straw and no matter how often I brushed it, it was still hard to run my fingers through it. On top of that, no matter how much I washed it, there was a gross, oily buildup at the roots. Google helped me figure this one out pretty quick. It’s buildup from the hard water. Apparently the water here is harder than anywhere else I’ve lived. No one else in the house seems to have this issue with their hair, just me. 

First, I tried rinsing it with bottled water when I washed it. Let me just say that even if the water is room temperature, it’s freaking cold when you pour it on your head in a hot shower. That didn’t seem to help either. 

I then discovered shower heads with built in filters. Who knew such a thing existed?!? Not I. They surprisingly aren’t that expensive either. 

Before I bought a new shower head though, I tried a vinegar rinse. I bought a little squirt bottle, then mixed 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water. I used about half the bottle after I washed and conditioned my hair and it worked! All the gunky buildup was gone and my hair no longer felt like straw. I’ve been doing this every time I wash my hair now and all is good. Since it’s such a little amount of vinegar in the mixture, it only smells while it’s actually on my hair. Once I rinse it off, the smell is pretty much gone. I get faint whiffs of it, but nothing bad and no one else has mentioned the smell. 

I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that it was an easy fix. The past 5 years or so, I’ve gone from washing my hair daily (and I have super think hair that has for the most part been below my shoulders. It’s also wavy and I straighten it most of the time.) to twice a week. Since I work from home, I plan my hair washings around my social calendar. It’s gotten to the point that my hair is used to it though and maybe with a little dry shampoo help the day before I wash it, it still looks presentable on day 4. Having to wash it every day was killing me. I’m back to twice a week now and couldn’t be happier about it.

The post Hard Water, Nasty Hair, And The Wonders Of Apple Cider Vinegar appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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When I was looking up things to do in Dallas for our spring break trip, I asked my son to do a search and see if he found anything that looked interesting to him. He pointed out The Sixth Floor Museum about the assassination of President Kennedy, so it was added to our list. Between this and the visit to the George W. Bush Library, it was a day full of president’s, but that is fine by me.

The museum is located just where you might think, on the sixth floor of the former Book Depository building. The first floor of the building contains the gift shop and ticketing, the museum is on the sixth floor, and the seventh floor holds a few displays and a good view out the windows. The other floors contain city offices.

The museum itself covers Kennedy’s life up to the presidency, his presidency, cultural events, and the assassination. I wasn’t familiar with the layout of the streets, buildings, and grassy knoll, so it was nice seeing the models laid out. The aftermath was also discussed with the events of Oswald’s death and the FBI’s investigation. Some of this stuff I already knew, but my son was extremely interested in it all. He knew nothing more than the fact that he was assassinated.

This was not the best laid out museum. We all agreed on this. The ticketing line itself was slightly confusing. Once we were given our audio guides and sent upstairs, the confusion didn’t stop. The audio tour will tell you which panel to go to and then proceed. The panels were not always in order. We would finish a section and then move to the next one, but it wouldn’t be the next one on the audio tour. There was also way too many people there. Sure, we were there on a Saturday afternoon, but it was packed. They were only letting in so many people at a time, so it should not have been that crowded. If you are really into history or it’s a weekday, I say go for it. If you are there on a weekend, maybe pass. Their site does state that the museum may be busy and they aren’t kidding.

The window that Oswald fired the shots out of it blocked off. It’s been set up to look like it was then and the window is still open. If you go up to the seventh floor though, you can look out the windows right above and get a good idea of what he was looking at.

Everything inside the museum is laid out so that when you go outside, it’s easy to visualize with Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll right there. Two X’s are painted on to Elm street to show where the first and second shots hit. The came down Main Street, turned right onto Houston Street, then made a left onto Elm. The book depository is at the corner of Houston and Elm. 

Location: 411 Elm Street, Dallas TX 75202

Hours: Monday – Noon to 6 pm
              Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm

Admission: Adults $16
                     Seniors (65+) $14
                     Youth (6-18) $13
                     Children (0-5) Free

Tickets can be bought in advance online and are included with the City Pass.

The post The Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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I tend to kill plants. Even succulents. I try, I really do. Over the years though, I have managed to keep an ivy plant alive for a few years and one succulent. That’s about it. The frequent moves haven’t helped either. I had to ditch the ivy because we moved overseas and then while overseas, I never even tried because I knew I would have to leave them. 

It’s a rough life I lead.

Last house had horrible lighting. It really wasn’t the lighting so much, as the fact that the windows had the tint screen on them. It was great for keeping the sun out during the summer, but not so much for plant growing. I have a great window in the dining room here, so I figured I would try. I bought basil, parsley, and lavender seeds. I didn’t want to buy planters though, because odds are that nothing will come of these seeds. Why waste the money.

So, soup cans it is. Soup cans are boring though, so why not make use of all the scrapbook paper I have and pretty them up?

This is super simple and you could use just about anything to cover them, fabric, felt, maybe wrapping paper? Remove the label first. I measured out the height by just laying the can on the paper, then wrapped it around the can to see where I should cut the excess off. 

I sprayed glue on the can and laid the paper on carefully and let them dry a few days. Pretty cute, right?

A few days later one of the kids helped plant the seeds. And wonder of all wonders, two out of three are growing! I didn’t label them, so I don’t know what’s what yet. Don’t be like me. Label them. It’s all edible though, so I’m not overly worried. 

The post Easy DIY Soup Can Planters appeared first on Nothing But Room.

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