Archives for May 2014

Progress on the Master Bedroom (But Not Done)

When I watch tv shows where a house undergoes a “redo” in a day, I feel like such a loser.    I started painting days ago, and while the room is now painted, I haven’t got it back together.   This picture was taken on May 22.  It’s May 30.  No we’re not done.

Bedroom 1

We just got it painted yesterday which was May 29.   We haven’t put the stuff back.  Here’s the bed with all the junk on it that I”m using to clean the room.  I’ll be sleeping with that Windex.


Have you ever done something and then doubted yourself? Maybe you became unsure? I do that most of the time, but not this time. I love this bedroom now that it’s blue.  Before I painted,  didn’t want to clean it or enter it. I just ignored it most of the time when it was the horrible cold coffee brown color.

Everything looks so much better with the new paint…these sheers have been there forever, but today, they look fresh to me. I washed them and pulled them out of the dryer and put them on the curtain rod. That curtain rod has an interesting history. It’s really a pipe that Mike got at my True Love’s a few years back for 34 cents per foot.  We stuck fenials on the pipe, but I can’t remember where we got them.


I wanted a few things above the bureau.  It has a mirror but I don’t like it.    The two pictures are from our days with Nortel. Mike worked out of Calgary, Alberta, and Nortel was nice enough to fly me up several times (obviously before we had dogs). We stayed at Banff Springs Lodge and hiked around Lake Louise.  The upper picture is the lodge and the bottom picture is Lake Louise.   I purchased these prints on that trip. The chalkboard that says “light of the moon” is a reminder of one of Mike’s first observations about Mendota. “It’s so dark…the only light is from the moon!” When I have to spend the night away from here, I’m very aware of the traffic, noise and lights. I prefer to sleep where there are only the stars and the moon to illuminate the way.

Three pictures

Here they are on the wall…Love Love Love this blue.

Bedroom Wall

One project begats another project.  See the blue table I did last year pictured below?  It was an Annie Sloan project.   It’s going to be white in a day or two.   I think it will look really pretty against the blue. I also replaced the lamp.

Master Bedroom Paint 1


I’ll show you when I get all through.


That Poor Valley Mud

It has been beautiful in our river valley for the past few days. Low humidity…sunshine. Everything is growing.

Potatoes and Blueberries

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve heard me mention… “Once you’ve got that Poor Valley mud on your boots, you can’t  wipe it off.” You’ll always want to come back.     Please travel around our area with me and enjoy a few of the pictures I’ve taken in the past 24 hours.  As I look at them, I think that it’s true — you can’t wipe the Poor Valley mud off.     Or maybe you just won’t want to! The hayfield below….I can show you a picture, but I wish I could share the smell.   Hay Bales Quilts…this quilt was won this morning by Darius Hall at today’s Mt. Vernon UMC Homecoming.   It was donated by Linda Nunley.   Her stitches, love and fabric selections helped raise over $1600 for the Mt. Vernon Cemetery.   Thank you Linda.  Congratulations Darius.   Quilt Darius Won

We were all happy that someone we knew won the quilt.  However, Fern Salyer and I were also hoping that Dixie Hall of Franklin, Tennessee (and sometimes Maces Springs) would win as this Memorial Day weekend is Dixie and Tom T.’s  birthday weekend.  Dixie and Tom always support Mt. Vernon and our quilt sales efforts, and we love them!    Maybe next year!   I took a picture of Fern as she has something to say to Dixie and Tom….

Fern for Tom T and Dixie

In southern, rural America…places like where I live…there’s a blur between families and church families.    There’s an intimacy in worshiping together as well as living near one another and sharing  lives.     You should hear our “prayer and praise” list.   We gathered yesterday at Mt. Vernon’s picnic shelter  to celebrate Emmie’s first birthday …here she is.

Emmie 18

While we were having birthday fun,  a film crew arrived to work on a documentary.   Since our church has ties to the Carter Family, this wasn’t as unusual as you might think.   We figured out how we could work, party and film together.    We invited them to the birthday party and then to Homecoming on Sunday morning.     They accepted, and we so enjoyed them.

Film Crew At Table

Some of the film crew were Scotch Irish, and guess what?  So are we!!    We compared our light eyes…light skin…discussed sunburns.   We discovered that the largest difference was in timing…we arrived across the pond a little sooner (a few generations ago) and our accents are no longer quite the same.   I asked this pretty young lady to pose with Dale Jett.    They compared accents…here’s how Dale summed it up:

Dale and Friend 2

I think the film crew might have gotten some Poor Valley mud on their feet.     Dale, Teresa and Oscar sang for them (and us) this morning.   I couldn’t get Teresa in the picture from where I was sitting.    I was listening….“I’m going where there’s no depression.”     Lyrics and sounds that travel across generations.

Great Depression

After church…we went for a drive….you know what we were doing…have you ever got behind someone just barely moving down the road?  That was us.  We usually say “it’s those Tennessee drivers” but today, it was Mike and me and I was taking pictures.  Sorry!  It was another opportunity to pick up some more Poor Valley mud.   It’s rampant. What do you see below?  Do you see lovely small white flowers?   If you do, you’re not  from around here, and we need to have a lesson!   If you live in the Southern Appalachians…in what we call Mendota…Hiltons…or Poor Valley… you don’t really see the flowers on this vine.   You see future blackberries!  Blackberry cobbler!   Blackberries in the freezer!  Blackberry jam!   It’s going to be a great year for blackberries…they are everywhere!   Another rich blessing…another reason to pick up another piece of that Poor Valley mud.


We drove a little further, and Mike said “you’re going to love this” as he spotted the quilt square in the picture below before I did.   I do not know these people but I ran right up in their yard and took a picture.   A new quilt square!   I knew that if the homeowners came out, we’d end up being pals!  I love quilt squares, and I am  an enthusiastic, crazy for, in love with the idea, a supporter of the Mendota Trail.  In fact, I’m certain we’d be best friends!


Quilt Square Thank you for visiting RiverCliff Cottage.  Did you get any mud on your boots?


The Clematis…Continued

RiverCliff Cottage was built in 1999, and I have tried to have a beautiful clematis most of the years since. It’s 2014, and I may….just may have my clematis. Catch up on my strategy to keep this clematis alive here. Apparently, it’s working!!

Clematis Plant

Usually after just a few days of blooms, it wilts, but I believe that it’s past that time. I’m telling you people…the City of Bristol, Virginia has some amazing garbage that we call compost. I quit using mulch in the beds around the house and just spread compost. And the results are….

Clematis 2

And this…

Clematis 3

Seriously, it appears that my soil was too poor for the clematis and this was the cause of the wilt. I’d been using commercially packaged compost, etc. but it did not work. The plant is in the same location where it has always tried to live. The only thing different is that for the past 2-3 years, two inches of Bristol compost has been added. Feeling very happy as we approach Memorial Day. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Master Bedroom Redo

A few years ago, I stopped working and “took my house back.”   The problem is that once I took it back, it ran away!    I’m chasing it down AGAIN!

We’re working on the master bedroom.  “We” so far is me, but Mike will step in and help soon.    I’m trimming it out for Mike to roll on the paint.    The room is also a complete mess, because why clean it up at this point?

Bedroom 1

More trimming…I cannot tell you how dirty this room is. I’m ashamed.  Even though it’s cleaned often, when I pull out and move things around, there is dust and dirt showing up everywhere.   I have pet spiders!    Blinds are dusty and windows will have to be cleaned.   I’m hanging my head in shame!

Bedroom 3

I still like this Thomasville highboy pictured below. I copied my very talented friend, Danea Walters, when I purchased this piece of furniture. That was 20 years ago!! Can you believe it?

Bedroom 2

You can imagine how shocked — and interested — I was when I saw a similar one painted yellow. I’m not this brave, but it is fun to imagine. I saw this on a blog called “Hi Sugarplum”

Yellow HIghboy

For now, however, let’s just focus on getting this room painted a better color. It’s Sherwin Williams Aqua Sphere.

I am not a good painter, but I don’t want to just hate this time spent working in here.    I’m finding it a lot easier with Fannie Flagg’s new book which is on CD called “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.    It’s good!

Fannie Flagg

I’ll keep you updated on our progress. Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch the paint dry!



Easy Strawberry Lavender Jam

Strawberry Lavender Jam Lid

If you’ve have not yet tried home canning, you are missing out. It’s both rewarding and satisfying to preserve food. I think many of us have an instinct to gather, prepare and store for winter.

Strawberries Talking

Yep–I do wanna jam with you!    I made Strawberry-Lavender Jam over the weekend.    The lavender added an extra dimension to the taste, and it was very easy to do.   I followed the recipe on Ball Real Fruit Pectin (liquid) with the added ingredient of lavender. You need canning supplies and a basic knowledge of home canning to be successful with this recipe. The Ball Blue Book is the very best place to start.  You can get all your home canning knowledge right there, and this would be a good first project.


3 and 3/4 cups of crushed strawberries.  I crushed them with a potato masher.   

1/4 lemon juice

7 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon of culinary grade lavender

Prepare your waterbath canner, jars and lids.   Prepare and measure the above ingredients.  Combine crushed strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in an 8 quart saucepan. The  depth of saucepan is necessary to keep the mixture from splattering and making a mess or making nasty red polka dots on your stirring arm.  Ouch.  I used the wrong size in the picture below, but on my next batch, I had corrected this mistake.  Aren’t these pretty?


After you’ve got the crushed strawberries, lemon juice and sugar mixed, place the lavender in a tea infuser and drop it into your strawberry mix.    If you don’t know what a tea infuser  is, I’ve got one pictured below.  I’ve been calling it a metal acorn all these years.  

Tea Strainer Infuser

Bring your strawberry mixture with the lavender in the tea infuser to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat.   Stir frequently (like all the time).  


Add the Ball RealFruit Liquid Pectin.  Return to boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim foam, if necessary.   (You may also put 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine  to reduce foaming.)      I recommend using a wooden spoon…I can’t prove this but it is so hot that I’m fearful a plastic spoon would melt.  

Remove from heat, remove the tea infuser, and ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe rims.  Center lids on jars.  Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.

Place filled jars in canner covered by 1 to 2 inches of water.  Place lid on canner, and bring water to a gentle boil.  Process ten minutes (some may have to adjust for altitude).   Following ten minutes, turn heat off and let stand for five minutes.

Remove jars and cool.  Check lids for seals after 24 hours.  Mine sealed within five minutes.   Each mix made about 14 of these 4 oz. jars of Strawberry Lavender Jam.

My Army

Once I observed my jams had sealed and set properly, I began thinking about what I wanted to do with them.   Perhaps I should have thought of this first?   There’s no way Mike and I will eat 40+ jars of Strawberry Lavender Jam….so   I’ll use them as gifts, so I decided to make the jars a little fancier..

After a few minutes searching Pinterest for ideas, I went to the website  to see what was new,  and I found round labels to fit my lids using Kraft paper.   I ordered them from Amazon and this morning they arrived.  While I’m supposed to be painting the bedroom, I’ve interrupted myself to make labels.   Here’s the labels.

Avery Round Kraft Labels

I followed the online design on, selected  Martha Stewart as my style  (She is not my style but that was the name of the design –I think she’s an odd bird but in this case, I liked the embellishment) and within about 60 seconds, I had nine labels.    Since they are adhesive, I then just stuck them on my jar lids.   There is a pucker on the sides which I later learned I can rub out, but I’d already taken this picture.  Sorry.  

Strawberry Lavender Jam Lid

Don’t they look pretty all in a row?

Three Strawberry Lavender Jams


Clean the tea infuser fairly quickly after you’ve used it. It’s metal, and there is so much sugar in this mix that it will set up and be very difficult to open. I had to open it while running cold water over it.

Don’t be tempted to double the recipe. Your jam may not set properly.


Beating Clematis Wilt the Mendota Way

I have never, ever had any luck with growing Clematis.  My Clematis efforts have all resulted in wilt.   I’ve tried different locations and different varieties.  Same old wilt.  About three years ago, I gave up.  I dug the plant up and tossed it in the compost bin.  It tried to come back, but I treated it like a weed and cut it off or tried to pull it up.   Instead of Clematis, I focused my attention on this pink Mandevilla and the efforts were well worth it.

Florida Vine


But very near this Mandevilla, there was a Clematis vine that kept peeking out–and getting whacked off.    I showed it no mercy.    This spring,  however, before I had an opportunity to beat it back, the Clematis vine was up taunting me.

Clematis Not Bloomed 2

The picture above shows a healthy vine, but I’ve seen that sort of thing before.   Sorry…I’m not buying it.   However, shortly thereafter….a little over a week ago…it finally bloomed here and there.    Now, I knew the wilt was not far off.


I posted on the Rivercliff Cottage Facebook page, and my sister, Pat, gave me very specific instructions on how to keep this thing from wilting.  Per Pat’s advice,  I don’t speak to it, look at it, water it, or pretend that I think it’s going to stay this way. I only mention that I’m planning on cutting it down when I walk by, but I do so in speaking with an Iris. You have to be very careful when dealing with Clematis. They will taunt you with their beauty and when you fall in love, they wilt. So…just for the record…I hate this plant.  It helps that I have some Facebook friends that hate it with me….Lisa Griffith confirmed that she hated my Clematis, too.  She was joined by Gayle Whitson who suggested I replace it with a satellite dish.  Kay Elliott agreed it was hideous!    I mentioned this all to the Iris with the Clematis lurking and listening nearby.   

Thus far, this is working.  Here’s the Clematis today…more blooms and still no wilt.

Clematis Sunday

Shew!  That is one ugly plant.




Half Dead Plants At Lowe’s

I love Lowe’s.  It is surely my True Love.    Here’s some of the great great deals I’ve got from the Half Dead Plant Rack.   Never pay retail!

These were purchased way back at the end of March.  They had been bitten by frost and had brown and white spots on some of the leaves. The items in this pot were marked 50% off.  I brought them home, potted them, and just watched the temperature at night.    I had to move them in the garage once or twice, but I’m really enjoying them.

Pot of Flowers

I really wanted some salvia because the bees love it. I’d bought three one-gallon pots of salvia at Home Depot when it was 4/$12. I wanted more but didn’t get back in time, and I saw it was up to $5.98 yesterday.   No way. Today I got some for $2. It was on the Half Dead Plant Rack for $3 but the manager said it looked so pitiful that he only charged me $2.  I’m wondering..was it the plant looking sad or me?   Who cares!

Salvia Ugly

I trimmed the dead leaves and broken stem off and replanted my $2 salvia in a “$10 hole” of dirt. It’ll do great, and it’s a perennial so I’ll see it again next year.

Salvia Planted

Earlier in the week I scooped up five Bachelor’s Buttons (Scabiosa) for $1 each. Nothing was wrong with the Bachelor’s Button plants except that the blooms had faded. They will come back. The yellow plant beside it had been $5.98 and I got it for $3–I felt only so/so on that purchase.

Bacherlor's Button

I wanted a few annuals and last week’s special was four six-packs for $5. I saw my brother-in-law and sister’s healthy plants, and I was green with envy. I went over to Lowe’s thinking I’d do the four six-packs for $5, too. However. the Vinca I wanted…well all of the six packs had one dead flower in them, but they were not on the Half Dead Plant Rack. I asked Lowe’s if they could discount the six pack since I wasn’t really getting six flowers. They did!! Yay! I got the six-pack five flowers for 50 cents. I almost skipped out of Lowe’s.


Mike is getting embarassed to go to Lowe’s with me. Seriously.


Feeling Very Blue

I have hated the color of our bedroom since the day I came home and saw it was painted. Our bedroom had been a seafoam/teal green, and I was wanting something softer but had not made a decision.   Mike got tired of seeing paint chips all over the walls and one thing led to another, and I ended up with a bedroom that looks like cold coffee. You’ve not seen many pictures of this bedroom on this blog.   I hate it.

I’m going blue.  I’m going to paint the bedroom the top blue blob in the picture below.  It’s Sherwin Williams Aqua Sphere.  This picture makes it look a little lighter than it is.  It has more gray in it.

UGLY Paint

Here’s the paint chip.

aqua sphere

We’ve budgeted for this some time ago. I’m not going to do too much. It’s going to be painted, I’m purchasing a new lamp and a new rug. I have lots of bedding that works with this. I’ve slipcovered a chair white which will also go in here. The only thing that’s not done is the hardwood floor redo, but we’re waiting a year for that because of our dog. Lucky will most likely be at the Rainbow Bridge next year, and it makes more sense to do it then.

Speaking of blue, I went out to work with our blueberries a bit this morning. We have six blueberry plants in three raised beds. Three are newly purchased in 2014, and three were replanted after they lanquished in bad soil conditions for three years. The raised beds have rich compost with a healthy mix of peat moss for the acidity the plants need. The tricky part is that they also must be watered often at this stage.

These are two of the new plants. The one on the left is blending in with the grass.

Blueberry 1 and 2

I’m the water girl…water…water…water. Every day I’m feeding sugar water to the bees then watering the blueberries and other plants. Here’s the old blueberries, and I’m really pleased to see new leaf growth. There’s a few berries trying to show up, too.

Blueberry 5 and 6

Following taking these pictures, I mixed in the acidifier and some granulite matter that holds water. This mixture is in the drip line around the plant and down in the soil about two inches.


Finally, look at what is in my garden. A clematis isn’t that special, but my clematis always get the wilt. I still don’t think this one will be here next week. Bet she’ll start to wither.


This plant has been here for years, but I gave up on it and each year, I’ve tried to dig it up. It’s very determined, and I’ll be really excited if it continues to flower and not wilt. The soil is completely different than it was when this plant first went in the ground. Since them, there has been several inches of compost added annually.

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.  So much mystery in these posts!!  Will that clematis wilt?  Will the blueberries live?  Will she really get the paint on those walls?

Hope you have a great weekend.




George Hendricks’ Wooden Box

There will be a wedding in June at the Farm on Barnrock Road (Helene Holbrook’s Mendota farm).  It is going to be so special.  It’s Delaney’s special day, but it’s an event that many of us have an interest in.   There’s been a huge clean up around the farm recently.    Discoveries were made.

What on earth shipped in this box from Interstate Hardware and Supply?   Someone suggested dynamite.  It’s not crazy…there is a pond on the property, and there is so much rock everywhere.   I’m sharing the picture below.  If anyone knows what might have been in this box shipped to G. W. Hendricks in Mendota many years ago, please let me know. I just realized I failed to take a picture of the opposite side. It says Interstate Hardware and Supply.

Hardware Hendricks

It says “hardware”, but I wonder what was so important it had its own crate? What a cool find.  There were actually two crates.

Hendricks 2

In a nod to the history of this place, these boxes will be on display during the wedding. This wedding has created so much fun and activity.  There is chalkboarding, mowing, planning and preserving.   The Spring House will be where the drinks will be served.  Cool, isn’t it?   On the interior, there’s a trough that was used to keep things chilled in the old days. It’s been bleached clean and the old trough will be full of ice keeping things chilled for the wedding party. This Spring House is back at work!   Amy Statzer will be bartending and making sure everything is in order in the Spring House.

Spring House

Ahh…I can’t wait. It’s going to be so pretty. Pinterest who?


Walking Down Swinging Bridge Road 2014

Lately I’ve been thinking about the hidden gems in my life. I’m walking today on the road in front of my house looking for things I normally fail to notice. Cars are just too fast.

I started at Jeff and Missy’s barn. Right away I see things I’ve been missing. This barn was built a long time ago as it’s got the stacked stone foundation. See the wreaths? They are barbed wire, and I love the “hoop” on the side. Basketball in Mendota!

Jeff's Barn 1

Another view of this pretty barn…

Jeff's Barn

This road looks lonesome but it’s far from it. I hear the river running, woodpeckers, crows, crickets, dogs and cows. The crows are the worst! It looks like I’m walking through a nice, restful salad instead of a bunch of screeching crows. My nickname was Crow in 7th grade. I wonder why? It must have been my shiny hair.

Swinging Bridge

There is another reason I’m walking with my camera. Something special is happening on Swinging Bridge Road. Marck and Margie Dean are working with the American Chestnut Foundation to restore the mighty chestnut. They are close…very close…to a blight-resistant American Chestnut.

The babies…the tiny seedlings…are here. Carefully protected…guarded…monitored…and in the case of Marck and Margie, the seedlings are also “loved”. They could not have found better caretakers.


This tree was the most important tree in the Southern Appalachians. It could be again. It sustained families and wildlife. In a world of global warming and uncertainty, I have a bit of hope when I look at the small seedings down the way on Swinging Bridge Road. I hope you feel the same way.

Patty does. She’s guarding them. She apologizes for the bad haircut. It’s a work in progress.


Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


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