Archives for October 2013

Sweet Home Virginia

Not a week goes by that I don’t wish we could go on a vacation.  I’d never want to leave the mountains in terms of where I live, but I also enjoy getting away.  It’s been a while!!   I wanna go!    However,  this will wait until the Dear Girls are gone….they are too feeble, too spoiled…too precious to entrust to anyone overnight.  Margie, a close friend and fellow animal lover, will pet sit and give us a break when we need to leave for more than a few hours, but that’s it.

So, when you’re stuck at home…just go home.  That’s what I did yesterday when I started walking around our property taking pictures.   A beautiful tree…but it just gets better.

Nature Walk 4

Mike joined me and on the GOLF CART of all things, we headed up the ridge. This old road…really a path…normally only has animal traffic…horses, deer, and I’m sure a few coyotes among many other smaller animals.

Nature Walk 7

Limestone formation…looking very untouched. I think it looks like a dog or a bear.

Nature Walk 9

What do you think this one looks like? A whale’s mouth?

Nature Walk 12

At this point, we’ve left our property and we’re on our neighbor’s land. He has a system of gates so that we can come and go but keep his livestock safe. In the drought a few years ago, it worked well, as his cows grazed on our side. I so enjoyed having cows even though I had to make sure their water tank stayed full.

Nature Walk 13

The ground is flat up here on top. Have you read about the “Grassy Balds” of the Smokies? I wonder if they are like this…meadows on top of a ridge.

Nature Walk 14

Isn’t this beautiful, and I discovered my phone works up here because it’s so high. I can come up here alone and if I get chased around by a bear, I’ll be able to call!

Nature Walk 15

Yep…there’s part of “the knob” of Clinch Mountain.  I belong to this mountain.

Nature Walk 16

Just a few months ago, I was able to get a way for a “spec” of time and visited a congested large city. A deer tried to cross the four lane, and everyone just kept flying by. It stumbled and fell. Everyone kept driving. No one could stop because everyone was going so fast.    It haunted me for the remainder of the visit.

Here on top of the ridge where I took this picture, I can look down into a “bowl”.  It’s hard to tell from this picture but that is what it looks like when you’re here.

Nature Walk 17

My home is back behind and over that ridge that is shown in this picture below. It feels so peaceful here.

Nature Walk 18

Discoveries…I’d never seen a hedge apple. I’ve heard of them, and I guess they are in lots of places here in Mendota based on my Facebook post asking what it was. They were on the trees up here. Do they really keep spiders away?

Hedge apples

Looks like green brains to me.

Nature Walk 10

We started winding around going down hill and through a maze of gates…and ran into this girl. Moo!


Sometimes I just need an attitude adjustment. Got it!!


Bean Soup In a Jar

Since I live 17 miles from a grocery store in Mendota, Virginia, it’s important to have items on hand that can be counted on.    By making these meals in a jar recipes and having just a  few other items on hand,  I can count on having soup for dinner when I’m tired, short on money or just wanting a bowl of soup.

We  have definitely entered fall in Mendota, and it’s the time of year I fix soup almost every Saturday. Week before last it was minestrone, last week was vegetable beef, and this week it’s chicken noodle. It’s easy and it keeps Mike and me eating relatively nutritiously.  Concurrent with this, I rekindled an old interest from a few years back… “Soup in a Jar” recipes.

Soup in a Jar Up close

I thought it would be convenient to make a few up for myself and for gifts. I found one I haven’t made, but based on the ingredients, I’m sure I will like it. It’s also eye candy in a jar. Very pretty for a fall kitchen.    (Keep reading…the recipe is below).  Also, and way off base, do you feel more secure when you have a few of these types of things around?  I do…if the power is out, etc., I can always make this soup on my gas range.   It might not include the meat but I think it would still be tasty.

Jars and Towel

This one is going to be a gift so I’ve added a Food City gift card with my jar pictured above because the ingredient list calls for a 48 oz. can of tomatoes and ground beef or mild Italian sausage. For a small family struggling, this soup mix and $10 gift certificate to purchase meat, tomatoes and possibly a gallon of milk will be useful. For rural people like me who like home-canned tomatoes, I’ll give a jar of my tomatoes, the soup mix and a $5 gift card which will make it more affordable for me to give plus home-canned tomatoes are more tasty.

I had some of the ingredients on hand but I had to buy a few. I really don’t cook on my porch but it’s such nice lighting that I haul everything out there and take pictures.

Soup in a Jar Ingredients 2


The directions below provide instructions for both how to make the Bean Soup in a Jar (as in putting the jar of stuff together) as well as how to prepare the soup. If you give this as a gift, you’ll need to include directions on how to prepare, and that’s also included.

Bean Soup In a Jar


Soup in a Jar Up close

Ingredients that go inside the jar:

1/3 c. beef bouillon granules, 1/2 cup dried split peas, 1/4 cup pearl barley, 1/2 cup dry lentils, 1/4 cup dried onion flakes, 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic, 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, 2 bat leaves, 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni.

Preparation ingredients:

1 lb ground beef or Italian sausage
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 quarts water
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions to accompany your jar:.

Ingredients:     One jar soup mix, one pound of ground beef or Italian sausage, one 28. oz canned tomatoes and 3 quarts water and fresh ground pepper to taste.

1. Remove macaroni and set aside
2. In a large pot, brown ground beef or Italian sausage and drain excess fat
3. Add tomatoes, water and soup mix
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes.
5. Add macaroni, cover and simmer and additional 15-20 minutes.

The jar I pictured in this post actually ended up going into a Silent Auction which will be held November 11 here in Mendota.     I used a Thirty-One bag I bought over a year ago and filled it full of useful things.   The Soup in a Jar fit right in one of the side pockets.      Fun to give, fun to make and fun to receive!

Silent Auction Bag








Hiking and Biking Trail in Mendota

Today we had three auctions in Mendota and no bidders! This was a bit depressing.

It took me back a week or so to my trip to Damascus, Virginia for a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. I am not a person who likes to disappoint other people. I have this need to be “liked!” Ugh. I wish everyone’s feelings could be accommodated when considering a hiking and biking trail in Mendota. However, that is not possible, and it’s very difficult to see our community today and recall our community in the past when tobacco provided a sustainable family income.

If we have the opportunity to support a hiking and biking trail from Bristol to Mendota in the future and fail to do so, we are missing an opportunity to have family-owned, sustainable businesses — bike shops, river tourism and restaurants. If you live here and you have a son or daughter, this young person might have an opportunity to stay here…working and living in Mendota. Imagine. This is something we haven’t seen since Burley tobacco left our area. We will continue to have “the drain” of young people leaving unless we give them a reason to stay.

If I focus on what “could” be…I think of Damascus, Virginia. There are seven bike shops in Damascus. Here’s Adventure Damascus. I talked with “Pepper”, and Pepper told me that this is actually one of two bike shops owned by the same person. I think the other one is Sun Dog. Most of the bike shops close in November and reopen in March, but this one stays open year round. He says they work their tails off from March to November.

Adventure Damascus

I rode on the Creeper Trail twice in the past month. Most everyone I spoke with was from somewhere else. They travel over to Damascus to ride on the trail. Quite a few were also riding on the New River trail. They eat, too! I also noticed t-shirts being purchased. Those tourism dollars are sustaining these businesses. I rented a bike…it was right at $30 for the bike rental and transportation. Here’s another picture. They look pretty busy even though this was taken midweek.

Bike Shop 2

Places to eat…of course I took pictures of them!

blue Blaze Cafe

When I worked in HR at AGC’s Abingdon Plant, I used to call “In The Country” for catering. Great food. Bad picture…I took it from the car.

In The country

One of my favorite places is about 12 miles into the ride. I’m thinking bacon lettuce and tomato as I peddle into this area. It’s in Taylor’s Valley which reminds me of Mendota because there is no cell phone service. Nada.

Creeper Trail Cafe

The man who owns the Creeper Trail Cafe said that he used to rent this house out. I asked if it does a “little better” now. He laughed. He employs quite a few people, and they make fresh soup beans and cornbread as well as those great BLTs. Yum. He was so nice.

Creeper Trail Cafe

Bikes parked while people are eating..

Bikes in Grass

I remember a long time ago…more than ten years ago…when Oscar Harris asked me if I was “in” or “out” on a proposed hiking and biking trail. Definitely am out!!!

Have a great weekend. Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Shoe Containers – My New Favorite Thing!

I’ve lost a pair of shoes recently.   LOST!   They will turn up somewhere in this house, but I can’t find them.    This occurred following a comment from a girlfriend that I was “so organized.”   Really…says who? I’ve searched high and low, beginning in this “organized” closet…


After I snapped this picture, I did start working in the closet. It’s better, but it’s not picture worthy. Here’s what I really got excited about. I bought some shoe organizing units a long time ago, but I just put them to use tonight. Here’s a pair of my favorite shoes…they aren’t winter shoes, so they need to be stored, but I don’t want to forget where they are.

Shoe 1

Here’s their new winter home…I can see into these so I’ll not lose my shoes.

Shoe Container

I could put two pairs of shoes in these units, but I’m sticking to one.

Tucked Away

See how they work? My shoes won’t get dusty and I can easily find them because I can peek inside.

Snug as a Bug

As Christmas approaches and I think of decorating for the holidays, I’m going to use this also as an opportunity to continue to sort and get rid of things. When we no longer have our “dear girls” we’ll be having our floors redone, and we’ll have to move everything out of the first floor of our house. Every item that is not used that I get rid of is an item I won’t have to move. It also just feels good not to be ruled by clutter.


Fall Garden and Pictures of Mendota

Before I start…if you are interested in learning to quilt, please see information on our upcoming class by going here.

I’ve been off my blog for a few days. I’ve really been off kilter for the same number of days. The days are getting shorter, and I have to work on not feeling “the yucks.” Do you get them?

Mike is working to get our woodboiler in working order for the winter. If you have a woodboiler, you know a side benefit is that it provides hot water, but our hot water feature did not work last year. As of today, that is fixed. Yeh!! While he was working on this, I took the doggies for a ride. Our granddaughter’s birthday is coming up, and I wanted to make sure her gift arrives before the weekend, so the doggies and I headed out to see Patsy at the Mendota Post Office. Here’s a few things we saw along the way…

First, a favorite barn of mine. My parents hung tobacco in this barn. Do you know where it is?

Ruby's Barn

And a friend, Judith, asked for a picture of churches in Mendota. I think I know the church she’s wanting to see as it was her family’s church. The members of St. Peter Presbyterian now own this church and worship there, but at one time it was the Mendota Bible Methodist Church. I have spent many summers in Bible School at this church as well as quite a few Sunday nights. I still remember Patsy and her sister, Mary Alice, singing “He Touched Me.” I’m surprised I remember anything, because there was a lot of note passing, nudging and “looks” going on the left side, back two rows of that church at one time.

St Peter

I like this little door plaque that someone made for the church. Wayne Hays is Pastor of St. Peter. Pastor Wayne has earned the respect and affection of our community.

St. Peter Door

And what would be better than a small, rural school at the base of the mountain? That was the story once, but that was a long time ago. The building is old, but if Washington County’s leadership saw the building today, they would be shocked. It is Spic-and-Span clean thanks to Wanda Riner, Bill Porter, and the MCA. If you were one of the ones privileged to attend this little school, you’ll like this picture.

Hamilton School

Here’s another…

School Again

And I came home from my little drive with the doggies, I walked around the yard and went over to where some green bean vines were hanging around left from a day in August when I stuck just 16 beans in the raised beds. I never watered them and it quit raining, so I thought they’d just do nothing. A few came up…I believe these are Mountaineers.

Green Beans Climbing

I could not believe it…there were beans on these vines and two others not pictured. Perfect, tender green beans.

Green Beans

Guess what I’m eating while I type this?


Mendota Quilt Class November 15-16

These pieces have plans, and they’re hoping others will have plans, too!

Quilt 2

Wanna learn to quilt and do it here in Mendota?   Work hard for two days and leave with a quilt? Chris Schanzenbach and I are hosting a quilt class on Friday and Saturday, November 15-16, 9:30 am until 4:30 pm. Class will be held in my guest house, lower level.

Cost is $35 payable at the time of registration and includes lunch both days. There will be additional costs for your supplies and tools (Chris will  provide a materials list following registration). Instruction will be geared to first-time quilters, but more experienced quilters are also welcome. Come and enjoy a mini-retreat, relaxing with your neighbors, and making a beautiful quilt.  Something for a new baby, wall hanging or just to keep your lap happy!

You’ll need to bring your own sewing machine and know how to operate and sew with the machine.

For me…it’s what is in this bag…just fabric today but oh the possibilities!    Did you think I was going to be the instructor?   My sisters are rolling around in the floor laughing.  No way.  Chris is the master quilter.  I’ll be taking the class with you.   Learning and having fun.

Brown Bag

Little pieces of fabric…they’re lining up and thinking about being a quilt.  “We just know we’re going to be beautiful!”

Quilt 1

Such pretty colors…how fun this will be!

Quilt 3

To register, send $35 with your name, email, and phone number to:

Chris Schanzenbach
5505 Mendota Road
Mendota, VA 24270

Space is limited. All registrations must be received by November 9. Questions??? Contact Chris at


Route 802 Mendota Virginia

I drove down State Route 802 today — the Mendota Road. I decided to bring you along. There’s a house on that road that I’m fascinated by but it’s not included in this post. I have to stop and talk with the folks and ask them if I can put it on the blog. They weren’t home, so that may come later. At any rate, here we go…


The roads are winding–not in a scary way but just enough so that you have to drive a little slower and watch what you’re doing. I went really slow and took pictures.

Windy Road

Here’s Regina’s Rockybrook. I think it’s open only on Saturday. She called me one night when I wrote the Mendota Villager just to say thanks. That was a long time ago. Margie Dean now writes The Villager.


Here’s an old building that I think looks interesting. I wonder what it was built for? Does anyone know?

Old Building

And a sassy red barn that someone obviously loves.

Red Barn

Someone’s beautiful entry “Peace Like a River.” They love the North Fork, too!

Peace Like a River

Here’s what used to be North Fork Baptist Church (below). It was established in 1776. I do not know if services are still held here. Mom took Pat and me to revival at this church when we were young. I mortified her that night by announcing that I knew where babies came from — “out of their mama’s mouths.” I had seen a mother cat carrying a small kitten and got everything mixed up.

Holston View

Another church…I’ve never been inside this church. However, when I was a teenager, I “parked” there with someone. Who? Well, that young man no longer walks on this earth, and I’ll never tell. It remains a secret! We sat there and listened to an eight-track tape, and I tried to act like I liked beer. Ugh.

Poor Valley Log church

Nearby there is a chimney that nature is reclaiming.


I took a picture of this sawmill which is one of two on this part of Route 802. My father had a sawmill. My father was a pallbearer when the famous musician, Mr. A. P. Carter, passed away. People who have learned that Daddy had a relationship with A. P. ask if Daddy was a musician. Nope, he loved and owned a sawmill, and A. P. loved sawmills almost as much as he loved music. They were sawmill men.


Below is a picture of a field of boxwoods. I love it when people try and earn a living in Mendota. Once in a while, they can. I hope this nursery is doing well. Across this field and the river, there is an old two-story structure which you can see a tiny bit of in this picture. I’ve never been there, but I was told there was a dumbwaiter in the building. Now why would I remember that?

Boxwoods and Old Building

And another sweet church..

Church 2

And this was my Uncle Paul’s church. His name was Paul Barker. He was both a preacher and a miner. His granddaughter called me a few weeks ago. It was so nice to connect.

Church 2 again

Hope you’ve enjoyed driving down State Route 802, Mendota Road, with me. I was coming home from a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. Here I am…

Eva Beaule on Bike

I’m “coming out.” I’m a supporter of a hiking and biking trail in Mendota.



I wanted to go for a ride today, and getting Mike to go was like pulling teeth.  He did this…he did that…and then, he said, “can I drive my sportscar?”  Of course he can drive his sports car.  The real statement was “if you will you ride with me in my sportscar, I will go.”

My reply was, “can you drive like you’re driving my Prius so I’m not going to be skeered?”   “Yes,” was the reply.    Then I pulled the real bullet out…”Honey…do you think you can get in it with your not-so-awesome new knee? “Of course” was the reply.     And he did! Off we went!

Porsche 1

We saw some pretty places…I took these pictures through the windshield so they may be a little blurry.

Taylor's Valley

The picture above was from Taylor’s Valley. We had to zip in and out of Virginia to get there.

Virginia Sign

But what goes up, must come down. What gets in, must get out. He got in really easily, but I did not think he’d get out. Here he is..planning on how to get out of that car.

Still thinking

I think I can…I think I can…

Getting out

Almost there…(Me: Yawn)

Getting back in

You’d think this car would love him back. But she’s a selfish girl. She betrayed him. Look in the mirror in the picture below. Can you say “Flashing Blue Lights?”


I feel a little sorry for him. Not too much, but just a little.


Pam Powers and Leaps of Faith Jewelry

If I have a dream for our remote little village, it would be for us to have small, sustainable businesses. Maybe a jewelry business? Did someone really eat with these pieces?

J 1

Or these…Why didn’t I think of this?

J 2

Such a great idea…


I love Randy and Pam Powers. They are not only neighbors and relatives, but Randy is the son of my sister Nancy’s best “lifetime” friend, the late Rita Collier. They walk the walk of their faith, and they’re fun!

Check out the Kingsport Times News article on Pam’s hobby-turned-business. It’s called Leaps of Faith.

Sometimes newspaper links fail to work after a period of time. If this happens, you can also take a peek at her work on Facebook.  Here’s the Facebook link…

I encourage you to visit her Facebook page and “Like” her.  If you’ve ever lived in Mendota or a small town, you have some idea how hard it is to make a living here.   “Here” being in Mendota — not driving elsewhere.  Pam took a courageous step, and she can use our support.    If you’re interested in pricing or buying a piece of Pam’s jewelry, please message her (or even me) and she’ll get in touch with you.

Hope someone who is buying me a Christmas present is reading this! Hint!  I could use another “Serving Spoon Cuff Bracelet”  (only about $27).




Can You Solve These Mysteries?

I’m hoping someone will help me figure out two things. What is this? It looks like a wooly worm except it’s gold and it has spikes.

Spiked Worm

I’ve googled “gold wooly worm with spikes” but I didn’t find anything other than just regular wooly worm information. It’s actually got a cute face. It’s like a cross between a wooly worm and a Yorkie dog.

cute Face

And the second question is what is this all about? I did not decorate for Halloween but I’ve got little spidery webs on all the shrubs. I didn’t like them so I just shook the shrub with a broom and they fell or blew away, but what are they?

Mystery White Things

Please leave a comment on this post or on Facebook if you know what either of these are.


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