Archives for March 2013

Ready to Go!

There is always a lot to do on our property in the spring, and this year is no different. However, we’ve had a shorter “window” of time to get everything outside done.  Where we would normally do this at a more reasonable pace, Mike’s knee replacement surgery will take place in the next few days and this has accelerated the schedule. 

Here’s some of the things that were done outside in the past ten days…

Compost spread in all the garden beds.   In the  picture below, those are perennials here and there in the dirt.  We’ll put lots of annuals in the beds.

Fenced Beds Ready

The next picture is the new apiary.   Gerald and Mike installed wire fencing on Friday to keep skunks out. I wish skunks were rare and valuable. We’d be rich. Did you know that the raised area (on the cinderblocks in this picture) where the hive sits should be 1/2″ taller in the rear than in the front? This allows rainwater to run off the roof of the hive.

New Apiary

Rosebushes pruned. I remember reading in Southern Living that the time to prune roses is during the NCAA Final Four so we’re right on time.

Rosebushes Pruned

The six acres fenced in where our house sits did not have a single tree on it when we purchased this property. There’s now about 70 trees. All have fresh mulch around them to control weeds. This tree is a weeping mulberry tree. Chrissy the Cat gets stuck in this tree several times each year.

Mullberry Tree

Chrissy: I hate her.  She puts me in that tree and gets me all tangled up. I’d never do anything so stupid.

   Chrissy 2

The weeping cherry tree is at the onset of  it’s brief-but-beautiful show this year. Almost bloomed out!

Weeping Cherry Flowering

I’m so glad that when Mike comes home he won’t have to worry about these things and can just focus on recovering.


Home Office Today

I worked so hard on our Home Office Redo/Reorganization…

After Office Area

And then I stopped talking about it because I can’t get it finished until the couch that I never show in the pictures is slipcovered.    I chose a pretty pre-washed denim which will wash well.   Here it is…

Black Chair Red Pillow Denim

Dannette Mayfield came about three weeks ago and made the pattern for the slipcover.    She and I intended to get this slipcover started well before that time; however,  every week she planned to drive over from North Carolina, it snowed!  At any rate, it should be back soon. I’m allowing myself to get excited about this room again.

Except…someone is not cooperating. Even though that someone bought a “Neat Desk” scanner, he is still keeping stuff. And he has that stupid white plastic trash can which I hate.

Home Office Progress in March

Can you believe this messy desk?    I hope this is just a transition day. 





Garden Plans

It’s supposed to snow tonight!   It makes it seem that we are premature in getting our raised beds ready.  Adding compost each year to these beds is a lot of work. 

Raised Beds in March

And then we pulled out some of this for dinner…

Corn Frozen

As well as these little strange looking packs of chopped bell peppers…

Green Peppers Frozen

I added the frozen green peppers to onions and seasoned chicken in a few tablespoons of olive oil…


Made really tasty fahitas.    I should have put some of the frozen red bell peppers in for color.   

And then I decided that having a garden is so worth it.   It’s a good thing, too, as we Mike has purchased enough seeds for four families.



Apiary 90% Complete

I’m so excited about our new apiary. Our new bees will arrive mid-to-late April.

Jenna and Ashley worked hard on this project today. I took pictures.   Here’s where they started this morning….

Apiary Start

The hives have to sit level so there was digging and positioning involved…here’s Jenna…

Apiary Leveling 2

After the leveling, they installed landscape plastic as a weed barrier  held in place with large flat rocks that we had on hand. The rocks are heavy  but Jenna and Ashley moved them around like rock stars.   Betty Butterbutt came to lend a hand…

Betty Butterbutt Looking Things Over

But she grew bored and took a nap…

Bored Betty

Here’s where we are at the end of the day….still need the fence wire in place and the posts need to be evened up, but most of the work is done.   We made the stone into a path along the back side of the hive where we’ll stand and work behind the bees.  In the front of the bees, the stone is laid in a decorative pattern to hold down the weed barrier.

Apiary Almost Complete

Notice how the shade falls on the hive? The picture below was taken about 6 pm — this shade will feel good to our bees in the blazing heat of summer.

Shaded Apiary

Here’s our hard working pals, Jenna and Ashley. We enjoy their friendship and will miss them greatly when they leave for their work this summer. They have been such a help, and Mike will go into his upcoming knee replacement surgery with peace of mind that the real RiverCliff Cottage is in good shape.

Jenna and Ashley

Are they going golfing?


Mt.Vernon/Mendota Cemetery 2013 Benefit Poster

Here it is…

Dale Jett 2

Dale, Oscar and Teresa were playing in New York City last Saturday night, but they’ll be back home playing for us on Friday, April 26.

Do you like the poster?


My Sister’s Dolly

Have you ever heard of Shoebox Ministries? Samaritan’s Purse comes to mind when I think of these ministries. My sister is working to make her shoebox extra special for a little girl. Can you imagine the face of a sweet child opening her box and seeing this sweet face staring back?

Little Black Faced Doll

A sweet dolly…with skin the same color as the little girl’s skin? With a pretty dress…and cute feet?

Little Black Doll in Tree

This dolly was sewn with love and prayers. It will make a little girl smile. And I am smiling, too.

We are still at it here at RiverCliff Cottage as we get our hobby farm ready for spring. However, I thought you might like a break from the pictures of us working!


How We Bee-Haved Today!

Hi…we are so busy around here. Mike will be having knee replacement surgery soon, so we’re trying to get everything done. In addition, we didn’t expect to lose all of our bees which means that we had to remove any honey in the hives. We did this on Sunday after church.

Here’s our neighbor, Helene, uncapping the honey from the frame.

Helene 1

We won’t have a great deal of honey, but we don’t want any to go to waste. It seemed strange working with honey on a cold day. It was stiff. We moved it close to the woodstove to get it warm but the extraction was a lot of work. I didn’t do any of the work. It was done by Gerald, Ashley, and Jenna. It was Mike’s day to babysit Gracie so he’s no where to be seen in this process.

One person cranked, while two held the extractor down to keep it steady. Here’s Gerald cranking the extractor. This is not an automated process.

Turn 2

The honey was so stiff Gerald’s arm got tired so he rotated to Ashley and Jenna…they all look like their having fun, but it went on for hours!

Turn 3

And here’s the first drop of that precious honey…

Honey Drop

We are getting new bees! Our new bees were born and raised in the Roanoke area. We are getting four hives. They are black in color. We’ll be picking them up in mid April, and I’ll take you along for the trip! They are more aggressive bees than the Italians. Hopefully, we’ll learn to get a long.

We’re moving our apiary by the barn. It is a good place for the bees because it gives them privacy but it’s close by. My task for these bees will be to ensure they are fed daily upon their arrival. I enjoy this. I’ll be asking our neighbors…”have you seen our new black bees?” Hopefully, they’ll be working all around Swinging Bridge Road.

Here’s the gate where I’ll enter when I’m feeding them…

Apiary On The Way

And while all this was going on, we purchased firewood for next winter, and Jenna and Ashley worked their tails off unloading it.

Busy Day

Because of Mike’s knee, we decided not to cut our own wood this summer.

Here’s Jenna…

Jenna Carrying Wood

And where was I during all of this? Well, it looks like a small task but I started weeding the flower beds around the house and guest house as well as push mowing the small back yard. I was at it all day, too!

Here’s a “before” of the guest house bed…weedy.

Weedy Guest House

And here’s an after…a few perennials are here and there. I’m glad the two lupine plants survived the winter. They’ll be beautiful this summer.

Weeded Guest House

So, I weeded and weeded and weeded. My arms are aching, although probably not as bad as Jenna and Ashley’s arms.


Gracie The Dog – Ouch!

It’s a beautiful Saturday. I could be outside working; helping Mike and Gerald with breaking down our bee hives (see more about that here), or helping my girlfriend with her move to her new business location.

I’m not doing any of those things. Instead…you know how much I love this girl, right?

Gracie Stretching

I’m babysitting her closely. She’s got a terrible “hot spot” on her leg. It was shaved and she’s being treated with antibiotics and medication.

Gracie's Leg

She does not want to wear a silly Cone of Shame to keep her from licking, and I do not want to ask her to wear it. At 15 in dog years, she deserves her dignity. So, on this Saturday, I’m sitting with her making sure she doesn’t forget and lick her leg. She’s deaf so she cannot hear me tell her “no” if she attempts to lick. Instead, I touch her lightly and raise my index finger…she’ll be just about to lick but when she sees me, she turns away.

I know it itches even though I’ve slathered on the antiobiotic/antifungal/anti-itch ointment, but she is such a good dog, she’s trying hard to make my job easy.

Gracie Eyeing Me

If you’re reading this, why don’t you comment and tell Miss Gracie hello. I’ll tickle her and yell in her ear!!


The Bees

Not too long ago…just a few months ago…it was this.

lots of bees

Tonight, there are nine hives near our house that have not one single bee that is alive.

Depressed? You bet. There is a great deal of money and heart in our bees. However, we’re on the search for new bees. We’re hoping to get bees that have wintered in Virginia.

While we’ve talked to people in Roanoke whose bees survived, we’ve been told that our story is not uncommon throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. We need our bees. When we get them, we’re moving them closer to the house in a spot that we think will be better with morning sun, evening shade and a wind barrier. If this doesn’t work….I don’t even want to think about that.


White Smoke and Burlap Numbers

I have been a little depressed. My bees are all dead. I can’t talk about it but it’s been on my mind for three days. I’ll do that later. Let’s talk about something else.

Well, here’s the news in Mendota, Virginia.  See the white smoke…

White Smoke

Did you really think that the Pope was selected at the Vatican?

In addition to our Papal activities, we moved the new entertainment center storage unit into the den.    The reason we wanted the entertainment center/table was to hide wires, but we haven’t finished the re-wiring behind the table to actually accomplish this. Still, here it is…made out of reclaimed barn wood.  Mike did a nice job. 

Entertainment Center in Room

Excuse those stars. They will be taking a vacation this summer.
I got the three baskets at Target over 7 months ago for this entertainment center. We don’t move very fast around here. When the entertainment center was finished, I could not find them!! One was being used for bread. One had toilet paper in it. And one holding just junk. Now, however, they are all in place and ready to hold television remotes, DVD’s and magazines that are in the den. 

One Two Three

I like the look of the baskets but they needed a little something to make them feel fancy. I added the burlap numbers. This was very easy and cost almost nothing. Here’s my tools for this little task…

Stenciling Supplies

I did have to make a stencil with the  Cricut since I didn’t want to buy one. Stencils that are used frequently require that mylar or something similar be used. However, in my case, I just used construction paper since I was only using it once. I dipped the paint brush in black acrylic paint and blotted it on a paper plate until it was almost dry. Then, I blotted the stencil placed on the burlap.   I let the stenciled burlap dry about one minute and then pressed it into the canning jar lid.

Number 1 Burlap

Something funny here…I did this on the table top that Mike, Jenna and Ashley refinished this week. All three of them would have cringed if they’d been watching. No worries! Here’s the table top AFTER I finished my project. Still lookin’ good!

Kitchen Table Refinish

Back in the den….If you look on the  new entertainment center/table, you’ll see some books…they belonged to my Uncle Johnny and my father.

Entertainment Center in Room

Here’s a close up…


The book that says Robert Lee on it was Daddy’s…look at his handwriting. I loved him even though he gave me his ugly feet!

Daddy's Book

Every time I see these books, I have a good feeling.


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