Archives for November 2012

Fall Out Christmas In

Did you go shopping on Black Friday?  I didn’t have anyone who wanted to go with me, so I stayed home.  Sigh.  I missed going.  I would have been at Lowe’s at 5 am buying the 20 ft. of Christmas garland for $5.

I did go by Lowe’s later in the day, but it was too late.   No garland.   I was so bummed out that I missed the bargain and then I decided to go to Home Depot which is near Lowe’s.  Bingo.  They had the garland.    If this keeps up, Lowe’s will no longer be my true love.

Here it is…I bought five rolls.

Garland From Home Depot


Having this garland on hand while I had foddershocks up caused me angst!!   It’s like I have a bi-polar thing going on.    Look at these sad foddershocks…


After I took this picture, I took the foddershocks to the meadow behind the house and spread them around. Corn pulls a lot of nitrogen from the soil, so it only makes sense that foddershocks, which are basically old corn stalks, will return the nitrogen.

Then…I had to figure out what to do with my pumpkins.

I have one pumpkin that I’ll use for pumpkin pie, but it is one that grew all by itself without my help. It’s my Cinderella pumpkin…also called Rouge Vif d’Etampes. I can’t say that.

The other pumpkins  I used this fall are just plain ol’ pumpkins from Hillsville, Virginia. I got these from the farmer who gets the small amount of hay we have. He pays me six pumpkins a year.

So I didn’t want to eat these pumpkins. I had something else in mind. I knew that they would be appreciated by someone else.

Piggy Looking for Pumpkin

Piggies love pumpkins.  I threw the pumpkin in and I was afraid they’d have trouble “breaking through” the pumpkin’s skin.  No worries .  They got right to it.

And getting rid of the pumpkins and the foddershocks allowed me to put my garland on the front porch.   I smelled like pine after I was through.   A good smell!  I felt good about transitioning to fall.  Nothing was wasted.  The foddershocks and the pumpkins are exactly where they should be tonight.   There was no garbage or waste.

And I’m loving the front porch!



Yummy Crock Pot Potato Soup

Why did I even mention recipes on this blog?  I am a very lame cook.   Left to me, I’d eat at Wendy’s all the time.  I love their chili.

However, I must soldier on.    Last week I showed you a picture of this…

Here’s the recipe.   If I can make it, anyone can!

Six potatoes, peeled and cubed

Two onions, chopped

One rib celery, sliced

Two carrots, sliced

One teaspoon dried parsley

Five cups chicken stock (I normally Swanson’s chicken broth)

One teaspoon salt

One fourth teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

One third cup butter

One 13-oz can evaporated milk

Chopped chives

Two cups cheddar cheese (use for heavy garnish once the soup is made)

Combine all ingredients except milk and chives in crockpot.  Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours or high 4 hours.  Add milk and chives.

Add a couple of tablespoons of cheddar cheese to each bowl served.

I’ve made this several times and always like it.  However, last Tuesday, I was in a hurry and I did not peel the potatoes, as the recipe instructs.   This didn’t work as well as when I follow the directions.  The other thing I did which I wish I had not done was replace the chicken stock with water and four chicken boullions.  It wasn’t as good. 

I’m not a good improviser.

Does anyone have any recipes for meals that can be frozen ahead of time?  Especially soups?





Mendota Thanksgiving 2012

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was good. And busy.  Let’s start out with the “featured bird” this weekend!

Here it is…

Ha! You thought I was going to show you our amazing turkey!   Nope!   This picture was taken a few miles down the river from us in Hiltons.   Jessica Fischer’s brother in law spotted this pretty eagle and took the picture. Last Sunday, there was one sited just up the river from my house. Selling feature for living in Mendota, Virginia…the eagles are healthy and we intend to keep them that way!   I saw one not long ago but didn’t have my camera, and since it was busy grabbing roadkill, it wasn’t exactly majestic.   There is just no good way to package our national bird chowing down on a dead raccoon and feel good about it.

Our actual  turkey was a great local guy……totally organic…lived a great life until last Tuesday.   If the Smythe family is reading this, he was good.   They raised him.  It was so nice to have a turkey that I didn’t have to thaw or search around for the neck and giblets hidden inside which I’ve forgotten more than once. Yuck.

We had 24 for Thanksgiving.   I’m hoping that my tablescapes will inspire you….aren’t they lovely?  I know…very difficult with a lot of thought and time going into these tables.

And what was most impressive is that I took the time to decorate not one, not two…but SIX tables.  Here’s another one…very original.   You are wondering where I got the napkins?  The white ones…in a roll?   I’ll give you a tip…you can find them at Walmart in the papertowel section.  I know.  You’re impressed. 

My guests were very polite…they took their hats off..

And…in a picture that’s a bit smaller…they parked their rides out of the way…and fertilized our yard at the same time.

Here’s a few pictures of us getting all set for  stuffing our faces dining in style.

And another…oh look…I forgot to tell you about the John Deere decor I used at Thanksgiving!  Wow!

Thanksgiving was great.  No one stressed over the meal as everyone pitched in and brought a dish.  We ate, visited, played a little Corn Hole and rested.

So many things to be thankful.  I had trouble started this blog, because where do you start when life has been so good?

I promised the recipe for my crockpot potato soup!  That will be tomorrow’s post!




The Calm Before the Storm

Here’s something funny…I barely proof my posts, and I had titled this “The Clam Before the Storm.” Ha! You might have thought it was about having seafood for Thanksgiving. Not me…it was just a typo which I fixed.

Speaking of Thanksgiving…are you ready? Are you still going back and getting the last bit of this or that from the grocery store? I went to Walmart last night, and I think I have everything. We have about 25 coming. It should be fun.

Did you know it’s hard to find ground cloves this time of year? Whole cloves…yes! Ground cloves…not so much.

In just a few hours, our house will be bursting with a teen, two tweens, and their parents. Normally, the parents stay at our guesthouse but we have a friend staying there this week, so everyone is in the “main” house. Our house is not huge, but it’s bigger than it needs to be for two people. However, during weekends like this, I’m glad we have a bit of extra space. The three bedrooms will all be used, the sofa bed will be used, and the loft will be used. Lots of places to sleep.

Right’s the calm time. (Not the clam time!)

Everything is done. The house is clean. Ahhh…look at this clean room! I like this room. Every room in my house is clean for the next couple of hours. Do you realize this is a big deal? This almost never happens!

Our bedroom really doesn’t look clean…we have an old rug and a bunch of doggy beds on the floor. Gracie cannot walk on hardwood which means we have scatter-rug “runways” here and there. She’s worth it…isn’t she a sweet looking doggie!

So…the house is all clean, and I have some potato soup in the crockpot with just a few more hours to go.

This is the best potato soup…or I think it is. I’ll share the recipe in the next post. I changed it up a little bit and I want to make sure it’s still good!

Life is good! I am thinking of all I have to be thankful for.


Mendota Virginia 2002 Flood

I am supposed to be cleaning house a bit this afternoon as our granddaughters are coming in on Tuesday. Left up to me, they may have to arrive to a messy house, as instead of cleaning…I started going through pictures!

I found some that will be of interest to anyone from this area. Mendota is in Poor Valley and it’s a river valley. The North Fork of the Holston is our river. It’s a lazy sweet, slow moving river, but on occasion it shows a different side.

Here’s how our river looks normally…a great place to fish, canoe and take pictures!

Mendota Swinging Bridge on North Fork of Holston River

In 2002, here’s what the North Fork looked like, and this was not when it was at its highest…

Mendota Swinging Bridege Under Water North Fork Holston River

Do you know who these folks are that are in the picture? (I do…it’s a test for you!)

This is the Swinging Bridge located at the tressel in Mendota.

Mendota Swinging Bridge Tressel at the North Fork

I’m still cleaning. If I find more pictures, I’ll put them on RiverCliff Cottage. It’s not the normal thing that bloggers talk about, but since this is my blog…well…I can do what I want to do with it…even look at scary pictures!


Sorta Like Pottery Barn Chalkboard Window

So….in last night’s post, I was oohing and ahhing over something I’d seen in the Pottery Barn catalog.

It was this…

So I decided that I would use this as my inspiration to make something similar…using what I had. I had a window; I had chalkboard paint in a spray can; I had tape; and I had chalk ink.

Here’s my window…it’s old. I can imagine a little face peeking throught this window looking for the school bus or a kitty looking out the window.

Nice and chippy…

I taped it up…

I then sprayed with chalkboard spray and let it dry about an hour or so.

Then…I drew on my first square…this is easy! Twinkle…twinkle…little star!

Almost done, but my dove looks more like a dolphin…glad this is chalk I’m working with!

It’s fixed in this picture.

Here’s another picture…I’ll add some Christmas things a bit later. I didn’t want to overwhelm Thanksgiving before it even arrives!

Thinking ahead…Christmas is coming soon!

Right after I put this post together, I went back to the Pottery Barn catalog to see what the cost of their chalkboard window was. I am so pleased with mine which cost me almost nothing! And….drum roll…the Pottery Barn piece was $249.

Mary Ann Howell is the winner of the apron and dishtowel!


Copying Pottery Barn

Isn’t this cute?

Pottery Barn Chalk Pane

And do you know of any reason why I can’t make something like this? I’ve got the window and the paint.



Sweetie Pi

It’s time to start putting birdseed in the feeders!

Feeding the Birds in Mendota

And, for the first time ever on this blog, enters Sweetie Pi the Cat! I mentioned the “bird” word and she could not resist.

Sweetie Pi Posing for the Camera

She’ll be watching that bird feeder!

From Sweetie Pi and me, thank you for reading the blog. We are sitting on the couch…purring and typing.

Is typing the right word? Maybe I should have said “keyboarding” or “keying”?

Sounds strange.


Hairballs and Chairs

I drove home from Bristol last night very carefully. At 6:30 in the evening, it was pitch black and raining like cats and dogs. I drive a Prius which gets great gas mileage, but it does not perform that well on slick roads–especially when they have wet leaves over them. Yikes!

What a difference from the gorgeous Sunday we had yesterday.  Mike and I went to church and then came home and jumped into doing outdoor things.

One of my outdoor things yesterday was brushing Luckie and Gracie.   Look at Luckie in this photo…she looks pitiful. Unkept. My Luckie Dog looks like a stray. (Well, a fat stray.) Luckie and I are both ashamed.

I brushed and brushed. I used a Furminator. In this picture, there is just a little bit of dog fur on the ground around Gracie and Luckie, but it gives you an idea of how much fur came off of Luckie.

Gracie and Luckie After a LIttle Brushing

It was everywhere. I raked most of it, but even so, this was left behind.

my true love) for $14 each. They are so durable and light to move, and they come in assorted colors.

I decided that rather than walking them down the steps from the deck on the guest house that it’d be okay to just toss them off the deck. They are plastic….right?

Chairs Toss Over Deck

Whoops! I hate it when such a good plan goes awry.

Cracked Addirondack Chair





My Fall Pumpkin Window Picture

Before another minute passes…

Before I look at the Pottery Barn Christmas catalog for the 17th time…

I want to enjoy this pretty piece of autumn that Katie Harris painted and I purchased at her Mendota gift store. (Note…Mendota still doesn’t have a grocery store…just Katie’s little store that she opens when she wants to….just another eccentricity of our rural life!).

I’m liking this a lot. And look…remember those gourds that I grew and gathered and gathered? Talked about them a bit here.

There are a few still here along with my pumpkin I made for 25 cents. I’m going to have to get the beans out of that pumpkin if I don’t go to grocery store soon!

Before fall gets away completely and we’re totally wrapped up in the Christmas holiday, I also want to give someone an opportunity to have this cute little Thanksgiving apron and dish towel. I wish I was rich…I’d give something away every day. It’s so fun. Each one of you could be my Secret Pal! Alas, I am not rich in that way.

Here’s the apron…I hung it on the fence post. See the turned ground behind it..the naked trees? Winter’s near!

Here’s the dishtowel. I bought it at the Family Bakery in Gate City, Virginia, with this blog in mind. I’m so grateful for all that I’ve been given. It’s fun to share.

"Give Thanks" Dishtowel

To win this, it’s very simple. Just leave a comment on the blog saying anything you wish–the comment section is at the bottom of this page where it says “leave a comment.” The second way to enter is to comment on the Facebook entry where this post was introduced. You can enter twice..once on the blog and once on Facebook. The drawing will be random on Friday morning. The dishtowel and apron will be in the mail to the winner that afternoon. Should arrive in plenty of time for Thanksgiving!

If you don’t need or want a Thanksgiving apron or dishtowel, please share this blogpost with someone who might so they can be introduced to RiverCliff Cottage. More blog readers would be sweet!

Thank you for reading. Should I apologize for the post a few days ago where my face was green?



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