Archives for July 2012

Mendota Sunday

 

I said I was not going to post again until Monday…I lied.   I fixed such a great meal for lunch that I just had to share it with you.

We had this…

And we also had this….a buffet of sorts!

This week is going to be busy but fun.  Vacation Bible School will be in the evenings and I’m going back to work on my house during the day.  I’m working in the living room and the kitchen foyer, and I hope to have them both done by Friday.   I will show you pictures…this keeps me accountable!    I’m also going to pick out fabric for a chair slipcover (which I am NOT doing myself) and for a new bathroom window treatment (may do myself).    Thank you to the nice folks staying in the guest house as they have given me the extra money to do both!  And yikes…I go to Weight Watchers tomorrow.  If I didn’t gain any weight this week, a miracle has occurred.   I have been sloppy. 

I’ll be ending this blissful summer and going back to work soon so I want to accomplish quite a bit.     Mike and I have had a great summer, but I’m sure he is excited about the rest he’ll get — although I am going to load him down with projects for the next three weeks!!!    

It’s a sleepy Sunday.   My husband and my dogs are napping.  My laundry is hanging on the line as if it’s asleep too.  Might as well be ’cause I’m leaving it there until tomorrow!. 

 

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Colors That Inspire

Living rurally, I am inspired by this color….tomato red…on a rustic podium with an audience of green…   or is that a tomato on the fencepost in my backyard?

 

 

I look to the left at my unkept garden and find more color inspiration…my favorite flower.   It works so hard…feeds the bees and butterflies in the summer…the hungry birds in the winter.   It’s the color of the sunshine.     It is perfect.

 

 

My kitchen is 12 years old and the only recent update is the window treatments.    Tomato and yellow in my kitchen… enough to make me happy when it cold and dark outside…I do not get tired of it.

 

 

My style is cheerful… (excuse that light…it is on my list…please join me in imagining  the black wrought iron one that I am so wanting.)

 

 

Thank you for allowing me to share…I am working on my photography skills…particularly indoor shots…please be patient.    This is my first step out into the world of linking to other bloggers.    I am a little skeered.     Your comments are appreciated adored.

PS…my counter tops are really never this neat! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Mendota July 26

Before anything else…check out the North Fork of the Holston River this morning which runs in front of the house.   This was the view this morning following last night’s rain.  That girl is muddy!

 A blog reader asked, in a roundabout way, why I’m doing this blogging thing.  Well….it is way more fun than cleaning house.   Actually, it’s an answer to a question I’ve heard many times…”why do you live there?”   I can’t articulate a single answer so in writing this blog, I’m hoping to respond.   So many good reasons…

Speaking of the blog…you may now “follow” RiverCliff Cottage by subscribing on the buttton to the right of this post.   Also, if you have left a comment, thank you!!    Please continue, and if you have not, please do so.   I love your comments–especially when you share what you are doing or if my thought reminded you of a thought…and so on.    If you wish to share a picture that supports a topic, please send along.  It would be fun to see what you are doing. 

For everyone who comments between now and Monday, July 30,  you will be included in the  random draw for this DISHTOWEL!!!   Very expensive…almost $2.00!!     Please comment as anyone…everyone…can use a dishtowel!!  I’ll announce the winner on the Monday evening post which will appear about 10 pm.   So exciting!   Pleeze don’t make me beg….if I can’t give a dishtowel away, I’m sunk!!

We are still up to our necks in Kandy Korn.   Last night, while I froze corn, I pleaded and begged made a suggestion that Mike make a “corn run” and drop off a few ears here and there.   It’s garden wars…turn your head and we’ll leave some squash on your doorstep!   He hung it on our neighbors’ doors!   Today, I ran up the road to Don and Molly Kiser’s and left a few ears in their barn which I felt allowed me to steal a couple of their tomatoes.  See how it works!

However, I’m getting some unwelcome help on getting rid of the corn.   I know who it is based on the evidence…

Rocky Raccoon!!!     He has forgotten how nice I was to him two winters ago when he was cold and hungry and I gave him peanut butter sandwiches.    Just look at this…

See the chewed up ears between all the baby gourds that have volunteered because I didn’t hoe the garden.   

I asked Luckie about helping me out…maybe going out and giving the raccoons a good barking tonight…she was waiting on me to take her for a trip around the Mendota Loop (Swinging Bridge to Mendota Road to Barn Rock to Swinging Bridge). 

 After the loop Luckie said “see my cute little paw in this picture…you can kiss it but I’m not chasing your ‘coons.    I’m retired!”  

This week is a busy week…especially since I laid around all day yesterday and did nothing.  Mt. Vernon UMC’s VBS starts Sunday, and I am so excited about it but there is quite a bit of work involved.  On Saturday, I get to decorate the church like a farm which is going to be fun!    We’re “Farming the Fruits of the Spirit”…a great reason to find a use for my burlap since the burlap curtain project failed so miserably (see here), stack up straw bails, set up a Fruits of the Spirit Fruit Stand inside the “Spirit Corral.”   You get the message..it’s going to be a blast!!     Check out Mt. Vernon’s Facebook page for all the scoop

Finally, I’ve had some company show up.  Look at these pals….

Because of the work these little guys have created, VBS, and my extremely filthy house, I will not be posting again until Sunday night. 

 

 

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It’s Freezing in July!

Our corn is in!  We are so excited.  We are terrible at growing corn.  It usually doesn’t even germinate or the crows get it before it has a chance. 

This year, no one was more surprised than Mike and me when the corn came up.  We planted Kandy Korn, a sweet hybrid that has been around along time.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you may remember when it looked like this…

Believe it or not, today it looks like this!

 I just noticed that one of the ears looks a little rotten.  Sorry. 

The financial news says that corn will be expensive this year and will result in higher food prices.  I’m sure I’ll be buying lots of things that have corn in them and will suffer with everyone else, but I won’t have to buy corn.  I’m freezing it!

I have some gadgets to help me in the process…my favorite is this…

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System

This FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer came from Sam’s Club.   I love it!

Look at the corn I’ve froze!  So what if it’s not carefully stacked…

So far, I’ve put up about 60 ears of corn.  I’m now removing it from the cob and freezing it for soups.  

While I had the mess out, I also picked a few green peppers. They grow so easily in our garden. I have a book on organic cooking and it says that bell peppers are among the vegetables with the highest amount of residual pesticide.  Not my peppers!

 

We do nothing to our peppers and they grow all season. We will be picking peppers until the first hard frost. Hmmm…I just noticed that I didn’t wash the peppers before I took the picture above. Sorry.  My father’s voice is in my head saying…”a little dirt never hurt anyone. “

So after I washed them…I chopped them up. Here they are…

I will use these in meatloaf and soup recipes.  I’ll use some that are in larger pieces in fahitas.  They freeze well for these uses.    Look at the wooden chopping block that the peppers are lying on.   Mike made that for me out of leftover materials from a church pew he shortened so we could get it in the house.   A Bristol church replaced their pews and for a very little bit of money, we bought the old ones.    People sat on that bench, found Jesus on that bench, sang hymns on that bench…and now it resides in my kitchen.  I call it my Madonna chopping block since it has reinvented itself.  I hope it lives on a long time. 

Back to peppers…they look a little strange after vacuum sealing….

My mother told me that during the Great Depression, the people in Mendota were not hungry.  Relatives would visit her parent’s home, Will and Eva Sproles, just to eat the good food.   She said she didn’t have nice underwear or pretty clothes and her family did not have coffee or sugar.  However, because they had land supporting a few livestock for milk and meat, a large garden, and put forth the required hard work…they continued to eat well. 

I’ve never forgotten Mom’s words.    She would tell us that while she worked so hard at making sure her own family had plenty to eat.  She worked all of the time.   It makes me feel good to sit at the table on a cold winter day and realize that we grew and preserved some portion of the food ourselves.  And I think of Mom.  

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A Shaky Saturday

Living in a rural area is great.  I would not want to live anywhere else.  However, if you have visitors–even close family–it’s always a little dicey about where to eat if everyone wants a meal out.   For instance, if I’m honest, at least 50 percent of the meals that we “eat out” are at the Rally Mart which is a Shell gas station in Hiltons, Virginia!   The Shell Station has the best BLT I’ve ever eaten, but it’s hard to say to guests…”let’s go eat at the local gas station.” 

When Mike’s son Marc brings his family into town, we always meet them for lunch in Bristol at the Burger Bar.   Have you eaten there?  Believe it or not, I had not until about three years ago.

 The Burger Bar has lots of tales surrounding Hank Williams, but it’s the burgers that we go for!  They are so good.  The chef, Armond, let me take his picture.  I think he looks like Lionel Richie.  He always remember us…or pretends to anyway!

Marc loves a burger called the “Fire God” or something like that.  It’s really hot.   Check out the picture below…this is the way he and Mary eat all the time.  Really.

While Marc is eating a really hot burger, the rest of the family..Mary, Jack, Connor, Mike and I eat normal food at the Burger Bar.  Hamburgers, parmesean fries, onion rings, and sometimes….A MILKSHAKE!!!  Connor (our grandson) was allowed to order a milkshake.  I don’t believe anyone else got one.  It looked so good.  I believe it was an Oreo shake but it was moving so fast between Connor and Mary that I could barely see it.  

His mom, Mary, wanted a little taste, and he was a good sport about it.

A sweet picture…here they are “cheek to cheek”….

 

Connor steps outside…guess who follows?

Connor is still being nice, but he’s less enthusiastic.  “Will she ever go away?”

In this next picture, Mom/Mary goes back inside, and Connor turns away trying to use the time to drink his milkshake…alone…without Mom.   However, look in the window…can you see the pink shirt?  She’s watching him…thinking about that milkshake.  

In the next picture, we’ve paid up and everyone is outside.   She’s still wanting that milkshake.  There’s no use pretending to look pleased.

 I think he’s given up. 

Now back to the country.  Here’s a picture of Jack (other grandson) swimming in the North Fork.   

 

Refreshing!

Jack is not swimming alone…he has a pal with him…

It’s Luci the Labradoodle.  What is going on with her tail?

 

 

 
 
 
 

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Honey

Do you like my new blog look?   It’s taking me a bit of time to get used to looking so fancy.   I hope you like it.

I’ve not written about honey on this blog, but I have a picture of one of the hives on my header.  I like bees.  When I was a child, I caught them in jars and I’d relocate them to a flower (as if they needed to move to a better flower!)  Since honeybees are under stress and dying, a term called colony collapse disorder, it’s gratifying to be a beekeeper working to keep them healthy and productive.   Our food supply must have honeybees, and no one is more capable of returning the bees to a healthy population than small beekeepers–especially in rural areas.

Here’s a picture of my sunflowers which are very close to the hives.  This was taken yesterday, and they are late in blooming but currently are over 7 ft. tall…the bees will love them and what a nice view of Clinch Mountain they’ll have while they are working.   Mendota is perfect for bees…plenty of water, quiet place to live, lots of diversity in their diet, and very few pesticides…these are happy bees!

 My brother-in-law robbed the bees yesterday, and we extracted honey this evening.   In this picture, I’m getting ready to return to a couple of the hives and replace the supers.

If you look closely, you’ll see the supers on the back of the golfcart.  I had planned on returning to the hives and putting the now-empty supers back where the bees could begin the process of cleaning them and making more honey.    I did get one installed.   The second one did not go so well, as space was tight and I had to work in front of the bees which they do not like.  They began “boiling” out of the hives (yikes) and they chased me and managed one little sting even through the protective clothing.   Ouch.  I got the message and decided not to tackle them alone.  It takes two to work fast and efficiently while in an apiary…even a small one.    It also helps to be armed with sugar water and a smoker.

Back in the garage where we’re doing the extraction…

Here’s a few photos of the extraction process which is typical for small honey producers.   This picture is what is call a “super” fresh from the hive.

This super is full of honey and there’s bits of beeswax everywhere…it weighs  well over 60 pounds.  The bees have built honey around each frame and it’s hard to dislodge the frames.   Once a frame is dislodged, we then “uncap” the honeycomb so that the honey can flow more freely when inside the extractor.   We use a heated knife for this process.

Our honey is  fairly dark, but that is good — the darker the honey, the more antioxidants.    Very refined honey…what is sometimes sold in big box stores…is usually not local and it is very light.  It’s been heated several times.  Bad!

Look at this one…those girls have been in the blackberries for sure…

While that frame is very dark, most will be lighter.  The honey will blend together and form a nice amber color.  Since we don’t heat the honey–it can look a bit cloudy at times.   That’s good…as heating removes some of the healthy properties honey  provides.  (I keep droning on about that…but it’s important…I cringe when I see honey in Walmart and other places from whoknowswhere and it’s all light and clear…it’s essentially sugar syrup.)     Raw honey is very healthy.

Once we have uncapped nine frames, it’s time to put them in the extractor which I think looks like part of a steel.   I promise we are not making white lightening here!   We then manually turn the extractor and it will spin out the honey.

Oh who is that lovely person that still needs to lose 20 pounds?   (Used to be 30 pounds…I’m on it!!)

Look inside the extractor at the nine frames full of honey.

We crank the wheel which spins the extractor and slings the honey out of the frames and then down into the belly of the unit.   There is a spigot at the bottom which allows the honey to flow into a double screened sieve into a sanitized five-gallon bucket.   It’s a manual process, and this morning I have a big blister from turning the hand crank.    We may buy a motorized extractor if we stay in beekeeping.

That bucket weighs a lot!  Honey is heavy…a 16 oz. jar holds about 20 oz. of honey if you place it on the scale.

We fence our hives since there are so many predators such as skunks, raccoons and even bears.  Lately a couple of fawns have been playing in front of the hive, but we don’t mind them.

Today the honey we extracted is sitting in a cool spot and the air bubbles are settling.  We’ll be putting it in individual jars later in the week.  I’ll take you along.

Plans for today are being created by nature.  I went out to the corn this morning and I’m sure I heard Mr. & Mrs. Corn whisper they were about ready to leave if I do not pay them some attention.

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A New Look

Hi everyone!

No posts for a day or two as this blog gets a “new do”  with the help of Creative Kristi’s blog design services!

 

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Daily Mendota July 18

Here’s how things work in Mendota.  On Tuesday of last week, Molly called.  She said “did you know it was Helene’s birthday on Saturday?”  Helene is our mutual friend and neighbor but she has just lived in Mendota about one year (actually one year this coming Saturday), so we don’t have all the details that we have on our neighbors–yet.   In a rural community,  we know a lot about each other. 

I did not know it was Helene’s birthday on Saturday.  I asked Molly how she knew.   “Well….Sarah (her daughter) borrowed a book from Miss Helene and it had a birthday inscription with Saturday’s date.”    Oh.

Most teens would not care or notice an adult’s birthday inscribed in a book, but our thoughtful Sarah did, and a small party was born.   I called neighbors and friends, and everyone showed up with flowers and a side dish.  I made a pasta dish which was not fully cooked.  No one said anything, but no one ate it.  I was proud!

I stayed until everyone was gone to help her clean up.  However, I realized the party was still going on because no party is complete until the cat is through washing her legs while on the serving table.

Beautiful flowers, cold soup, and a refreshing tongue bath on the table.  It works!

A special little person came to the party.  My niece Ari.  She’s actually my niece’s daughter so that makes her a grand niece but that makes her sound big and she’s so tiny, so let’s just say she’s my niece.

And I’m not sure how all this works around to another chalkpaint project, but do you remember the picture that was being taped up and readied to spray with chalkpaint in this post?   I didn’t show you what it became.

Here it is…

I’m trying to memorize Bible verses.  I’ve almost got this one.  It’s harder when you get older, so do not laugh.

And I think that gold lamp is just garish.  Do you think I should spray paint it red?

That stool it is setting on was thrown away at the Mendota dump many years ago.  The top of the stool was almost off.  Paul Baker was there at the time,and he gave it to me to try and give it a few more years before it ended up in the landfill.   Mike tried to restore the top but eventually he replaced it with this little cherry top the same color as my cabinets.  I like it.

And here’s what is at the baseboard beside the stool…

At rat hole!    Every kitchen should have one.

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Organizing in Mendota!

We finally have our pantry put back together.  Naturally, it took longer than we thought. 

Here’s what it looked like before…

It was a bit of a mess.  We emptied the contents onto the dining room table and I wondered how we got all of the stuff into the pantry.  Most of the items are on the dining room table but not all!!

We then cleaned and painted the inside of the small pantry area, and Mike reworked the support system to keep the shelves from sagging.   And quickly days and days later, we put it back together.     I continued trying to use what I have CAUSE I’M NOT WORKING!!  I did want a few labels.  I’ve been wanting to buy a label  maker and I almost gave in to the urge.  I resisted.  Instead, I pulled out my trusty chalkpaint can (if you’ve been reading this blog you know how much I love this stuff), and I sprayed something I already had — jar lids.   I am a home canner, so naturally, I have lots of lids.   

This opened up a whole new idea.  In addition to my pantry, I decided to create a spice drawer.  I had little jelly jar glasses because we did not pick berries this year and make raspberry jam.  (Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Turkey and their turkettes who ate all my berries.)   I decided to repurpose these empty jars lying about as spice jars.  They were just the right height to fit in the drawer.

Check this out… I wish I had written the names on the jars neater but I was so excited I basically scribbled.   In fact, see that wet spot on the nutmeg…that would be drool! 

I have wanted a spice drawer for years.  Mike has offered to buy one, make one, etc, but for some reason, we just never got around to it.  Now, I’ve got one, and I didn’t pay anything for it.  

Here’s another close up of the little beauties….

I am envisioning all types of possibilities.   Interrupting thought…did I misspell any names above?    I could go down and organize Mike’s shop…or the garage…using chalkpaint and my new organization skills.  Or I could not do that.

So…back to the pantry. 

Here’s a picture of another way I used jar lids to identify what goes where in my old/new although still tiny pantry…

That shiny black basket was an old faded blue basket from 20 years ago in Franklin, Tennessee.  I bought it in my blue and mauve days when I decorated with baskets and geese and ruffled curtains.  I can’t believe I still have it! 

Here’s some larger jelly jars that I used for spices that were in bigger bottles.  Why didn’t I alphabetize them before taking this picture?

 I’d also read about chalkboard labels which can be purchased at Staples or Michael’s.  I decided to make my own using labels I already had. I just took them outside and gave them a quick spray of chalkpaint.  After drying about two minutes, I started writing on them. 

Here’s a shot of the labels….

  I use about six vinegars…they are all here in this little red box. 

Ok…it’s time for the pantry to be finished…

Here’s a comparison of the before and after. In just looking, there’s not that much difference.  The before is on the left and the after is on the right.  However, I can now find things!  

I know exactly what is in it and now Mike will know where to put groceries away that go in this pantry.  I have nine ketchups!  I can see them!

Also, the pantry has some additional utilitarian uses.  We have a spot for batteries, bags to be recycled and a fire extinguisher.  

I feel a sense of accomplishment on getting this task done.  Tomorrow it’s sewing day. 

Thanks for reading RiverCliff Cottage.     Please comment!    It’s not the prettiest pantry redo, but it’s an efficient pantry redo. 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Mendota July 15

In church today, we recognized Mrs. Faust’s 75th birthday.  She spoke of how grateful she was to live today when things are easier than when she was born 75 years ago.  When she was born, she was a “blue” baby so she was bundled up and placed in the cookstove’s oven to keep warm.   No bathrooms, no phones, no A/C.    Yikes.   Things have changed a lot.   I like simple living with the ammenities.  

On Swinging Bridge Road in Mendota,  until about six months ago, we could only get internet via dial up or satellite.  Satellite was marginally better than dial-up, and it was almost $80 per month.  When we had problems–and there were numerous problems–I spoke with an off-shore call center in India.   However, because we have a direct view of the Mendota Fire Tower, we now get our internet from a local source (at half the price). 

It is faster, and  I like working with folks from Grundy, Virginia.    I think Mike calls “Joe” if he has questions, and if “Joe” has questions about whether the power is off on this side of Clinch Mountain, he calls Mike.    It works.

I want to show you just how direct we are from the Mendota Fire Tower to my house.  My niece took this picture from the base of the tower.  

That’s me down there inside the house with my laptop!

Here’s Lacy’s picture of the firetower.  Lacy is my niece, and  she has a magical eye. 

I’m glad the Mendota Fire Tower has been repurposed and put to good use.  I always want to see it on top of the mountain when I sit on my porch.  When I was a little girl, Landon Carrier was the fire warden for the Mendota Fire Tower.  He was a big man and I wondered about how he got up the steps?   We visited the Fire Tower one day and he gave me a Coke.  I immediately loved him. 

Can you imagine how hot it was up there on top of Clinch Mountain during August?   On a clear day, he told us he could see into five states.  

Back on the ground, I’m going to try and get my pantry together tomorrow.  It will be so nice to have this done!

 

 

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