Archives for June 2014

The Day After The Wedding

So…we are returning to normal here after Delaney’s wedding.  For those of you wondering how everyone fared on the morning after…here’s a picture of the wedding coordinator/director.   She’s doing great.   We’ll have her off life support in just a few days.

Net Relaxing

We’d really hoped Helene would be able to help her, but she’s on life support, too.

Mother of the Bride

It was such a beautiful wedding and what a gift she gave Delaney and Chris by hosting the authentic farm wedding.    She’s pretty gloriously...just so  happy.  Words are difficult to describe the great event that took place last night.

Mother of the Bride 2

Some comments following the wedding… “It was so much fun.” “The food was good and it was healthy.”  “So much fun.”   “Never seen such support from a community.” “So much fun.”     “Delaney and Chris are so lucky.”    “So much fun.”  “The mother-in-laws actually really like each another!”  (They’ve opted to be called “outlaws…just sounds more fun!)… and when we ran short on food this morning for the brunch and went to get eggs…the question….”Do eggs really come in mailboxes? — they do in Mendota. (Of course…you’ve always wondered about what comes first…the chicken or the egg…the reality is that it is all about the mailbox.)  And then…”so much fun!”

We’re returning to normal. It’s raining this evening, and it doesn’t worry me at all.

Rainy Da

It’s just an opportunity to make sure my laundry is rainwater soft.

Sheets on the Line

This afternoon, I’ve been doing what my honeybees are doing…just hanging out.


And in case you’re interested, I’m back to killing Japanese beetles. Two rounds a day with my bucket seems to do the trick. Miss a day and they return. It really helps killing them as they emit a pheromone which attracts other beetles. That’s why you see them in groups. And then…shamelessly, they mate right there on the vines! Sluts! I especially like disrupting the honeymoon and seeing the mating beetles drop in my sudsy bucket. Here’s the damage they did while I had my head turned at the wedding

Damage to leaves

In spite of the beetles and the 150+ plates Barb Leonard and I washed this morning followed by about 450 pieces of cutlery, I am so thankful to be a part of the Mendota community where a neighbor’s celebration becomes my celebration and vice versa.   We are rich in Poor Valley.

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage!


The Wedding

For weeks the talk around here has been “the wedding”. No one had to ask “what wedding?” We all have known exactly what “the wedding” meant. It was Helene’s daughter’s wedding…held in Mendota…at Helene’s farm. It was “Delaney’s Day” and so many of us shared in it. More accurately, it was Delaney and Chris’ Day. We can’t forget the groom!

block painting

Friends and neighbors in the valley covered the wedding in prayer. We have had a rainy week in Mendota, and while we’ve needed the rain, and we’re grateful for the rain, we did not want it to rain yesterday or today.   The prayers were heard, and the day was blessed.  The first raindrop fell….about 15 minutes after the ceremony and it cooled things off — it made us comfortable. See the mist above the tent…that’s Clinch Mountain tucking in for the night.


As I write this, Delaney and Chris are married, and they will have wonderful memories of today, but so will we…when you are made to feel a part of something, it becomes something you take with you.

Janette Dean provided catering (along with RiverMyst Farm…also local…also great), coordination and wedding direction as well as landscaping and truly best friend for Helene.   Janette can hold her own with any wedding or event planner or catering group anywhere.  She is a professional and came out of retirement to put her fabulous skills and talent to work for this event.   I took the picture below when she and her best pal/husband, Randall,  were enjoying their food in a styrafoam box…so funny for a girl who has considered every detail of this event. And I do mean every detail.

Randall and Janette

A local girl, our Heidi Smythe, was the floral designer.  She used some purchased flowers, but wherever possible, she clipped and snipped from Mendota. Here’s the barn where Delaney and Chris exchanged their vows.  The two large ferns on each side of the opening belong to another local person, Mary McCroskey.  Mary has plants everywhere in this wedding.   We bought our ferns at the same time.  Mine look…well…different than Mary’s.  She has babied these ferns.   By the way, that garland on the barn is not artificial.  No way.

Barn with Garland

This plain little block building below displays an antique quilt that is meaningful to Helene. It is tied to her father, and while he has passed, the quilt is a reminder of him and gave him a “presence” at his granddaughter’s wedding.    I love the chairs and the ferns above the door.   Amy Statzer, Susan Pippin, and Janette all worked on this….not sure who’s idea was what…they probably don’t know either as they all talk at the same time.

Block House

For weeks, Amy and Susan worked on chalkboards. Here’s a few…on this board, I recognize Amy’s handwriting!

Dinner Menu

And another…local girl Barb Leonard really helped with the jam favors.


Windows are a way to look out on the world…or to find your seat to eat!!

Find Your Seat

Want some coffee? That’s my plant hanging beside the sign!

Sign Coffee

Introducing the wedding party…I really like the “big smooch!”    Amy and Susan (maybe Janette and Barb) went to flea markets and found old pictures for the chalkboard work.

Sign Program

The old springhouse was the bar area. The picture below was taken a few weeks ago before it was decorated in grapevine, fairy lights, etc. Inside the springhouse, before refrigeration was common, items such as milk and butter were stored. Tonight, that area housed ice.

Spring House

And here’s the offerings…

Sign Bar

Directional signs…


Right in front of a cornfield.  How authentic “country wedding” can you get?

Signs Wedding

The cupcakes were delicious, and in this picture, they are all gone.   My favorite was the carrot cake cupcake. The stands were built in Mike’s shop by Daryl Jayne for his daughter’s wedding. Jenny, Daryl’s wife, shared the stands and many other accessories for Delaney’s wedding.

Cupcakes Wiped Bare!!

Here’s a nice touch. Helene has a tiny flower arrangement in her hair…there’s one of Mary McCroskey’s succulents!  Helene practiced medicine in San Francisco, so it’s appropriate that she wear flowers in her hair.


I had one of the best parts in the wedding. I got to “keep” the bride and her bridesmaids the night before the wedding. I was honored. There were lots of photographs taken during the “git her ready” phase. Can you guess what the photographer is sitting on in this picture?

Picture 1

You had to know! He had to sit somewhere!

Picture 2

The first plan was to use a horse drawn buckboard to bring the bride in, but the owner became ill (ouch…kidney stone).  This required a last minute change, and Sherman Pippin polished up his Ford. It worked really well for the occasion. He took such care in transporting Delaney.

I’ve left a bunch of people out because..I know what you’re wondering. Where is she? She’s right here.


This was an amazing day.


Updates and Weddings

My friend’s daughter is getting married this weekend, and it’s such a special affair.   I’m honored to be a small part of it.

block painting

However, not even this can keep me away from my mission to kill Japanese beetles.

Update: Today’s kill was 15. I’m winning…but I noticed a new bug on the green beans, so I may win the battle but lose the war.


Understanding the Enemy

I am continuing waging a war on Japanese beetles. I spotted them on Saturday night, and thought I would just pick them off and drown them. It’s Tuesday evening, and I’ve drowned about 160 beetles. On Sunday, I found about 40 on my green beans. Here’s some damaged leaves.

Mountaineer Damage

I’ve been observing them and they like to be together, and that makes it easier for me to shake them off in my bucket. I have Dawn and warm water. Mike said to me “you know what is NOT very attractive? Someone who won’t walk through the yard without a bucket of water with dead beetles.” Sorry. I’m obsessed. We had company Sunday and he made me move my bucket. I keep it handy so I can just zip out, shake and drown.

Beetles Abuot 40

I’ve also learned that they prefer zinnias over my Mountaineer Half Runner green beans. Normally I have large rows of zinnias out beside the garden, but this year, they are very late (because I put them out late). BIG MISTAKE as I could have been killing them before they got on the beans. Here’s a few that are up and the beetles are trying to eat them as fast as I try to pick them off and kill them. Just a few beetles and so much damage.

Zinnia Damage

I’m hoping that my soil and plants are strong enough to withstand the damage–especially when it comes to my green beans. I spoke with my neighbor and they have not arrived at her house which is one mile up the river. Maybe I’m killing them all before they get there?

I go out 2-3 times per day to check the vines. It only takes a few minutes, and today there was a noticeable drop in the number of Japanese beetles. My friend, Linda Nunley, shared her recipe for discouraging them, and I may try it, but I so enjoy killing them that I’m waiting a few days.

For some reason, I thought they stayed only a couple of weeks but I read tonight that their life cycle is 60 days. This means I’ve got to be checking for beetles for several weeks. These guys are depending on me to take care of the beetles but to do so responsibly.  In a bee-friendly way.

Honeybee cartoon

I’ve never understood hunting until now. Since this started, I totally get it. Listen up, beetles, there’s a new sheriff in town.

On another subject, Mike kept reminding me that summer had started. Apparently, it was driving him crazy that I had not changed out my chalkboard window. It still looked like this…

Spring NoTalent Chalkboard Window

A quick change to satisfy him!

Summer 2


Wedding Bells Grapevine Wreath

We haven’t had internet for several days….something to do with a fuse and Appalachian Power.

While completely locked away from the world, I made a wreath for the door to the guesthouse. It’ll be “Wedding Bells” headquarters in a few days as a bride gets ready for her big day.

Wreath Finished

This wreath was so simple to make as it involved three things:

1) Bow
2) Chalkboard message
3) Burlap Rosettes

I had burlap on hand where I had a disasterous attempt at making burlap curtains. Nope…that did not work for me. Read about it here. Something that works everywhere else doesn’t always work for me. On the upside, it left me with large quantities of burlap which I used for Vacation Bible School banners, loaned to a friend, etc. I also used the lefover burlap for the rosettes in this wreath.

I cut three inch strips that were about 42 inches long.

Three Inch Burlap Strip

Here’s a yardstick posed with the burlap to demonstrate the length of the burlap. If you want smaller rosettes, use less width and length.

Strip of Burlap for Rosette

There’s You Tube videos and other instructions on how to twist, wrap and glue the burlap to form a rosette. My advice is just to cut your burlap, grab your glue gun and do it. I just twisted and glued occasionally, and the rosette magically appeared. Believe me, if this was hard, I would not have been able to do it.

Rosette of Burlap

I made six of them for this project. I like the organic look.

Ready to Glue Rosette

Once you’re satisfied with your rosettes, simply hot glue them to the wreath and add your other embellishments.

Wedding Bells Wreath on Pole

I’ve got this on the door of our guesthouse where my friend’s daughter, our bride, will prepare for her wedding. Once the wedding is over, this wreath will reinvent itself again. Here’s some of it’s past lives.

Wreath With a B


Christmas Wreath With  Bird Poop


Autumn Wreath


Mr. SnowmanUse what you have! Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


An Ordinary Day Ends in Murder

Today started like an ordinary Saturday. I had cleaning to do, but prior to starting cleaning the kitchen, I caught up on making sugar water for my young hives. It’s always a bit messy to do a 1:1 sugar water for 16 quarts, so I do it before cleaning. If someone looked at my stash, they would think I was making moonshine. Moonshine in Mendota! I’m sure it’s been done.


I don’t mind cleaning. I was listening to music and singing. I cleaned the potrack and I took a picture of it. I can find things in pictures that I can’t see in the room. Potracks are no longer in style, but as my dear mother would say “who the hell cares.

Potrack with Plant

My potrack adds a certain charm to the kitchen.  My look at how orange my natural cherry cabinets look?   Must learn how to do better with lighting when taking indoor photographs !  Always so etching to learn.

Potrack View

Oh I do love a clean kitchen even if it appears orange in the pictures!

Kitchen 2

I get lots of questions about these red and yellow curtains. I’ve got just a little fabric left and when someone asks me about them, I mail them a swatch.


My day was going so well. I was channeling Donna Reed without the high heels, necklace, or hairdo. I decided to go out and pick some basil and do a little flower arrangement. I have lots of basil so I use it as flower filler as well as a herb.   This is when it happened. I saw the Japanese Beetles on my basil and my green beans. Look at the damage in the picture below. This was not present yesterday.

Damaged Green Bean

I hate them.  More damage.  Grrrr…

Green Beans 2

It is no wonder I have so many skunks. The skunks like grubs and before these Japanese beetles were flying, they were slugs in the ground  It’s war.   Murderous thoughts started in my head.  I had motive.  I had the bucket, the soapy water, and I had the desire for Beetle Blood.   I picked or shook them off into my bucket of sudsy water and watched them drown.  Did not even feel a tiny bit bad.

Beetle Juice

It’s dark at 2:40 am when I am writing this, but if I could see, I’d be out there checking to see if there’s any more.  I will drown everyone one.

Chickens love these things. I’ve decided I’m going to get some chickens.


Sam Is Skeered & Stuff

There has been lots of lightening flashes and big booms tonight in Poor Valley.  I felt like getting under the bed, but someone was already there.

Sam is Skeered

However, we are grateful for the rain. While Mendota is not as dependent on farming as we once were, we have a large dairy farm, a large cattle farm, a few farmers still growing our Burley tobacco, lots of small family farms, and most everyone has a garden. Many of us are on well water, and we just hate drought! Whew!  Simply put, as my friend, Joey Salyer, says during Sunday’s prayer “thank you, Lord, for the rain.”

The rain makes a garden spring to life.   This picture was taken on June 10.  (This is the great thing about this blog…I can track these things.)  Compare the picture below to the next picture.


The picture below was taken a few minutes ago…just ten days after that earlier picture…those Mountaineer Halfrunner Green Beans are on the loose!! Soon I’ll be picking green beans.

Green BEans

I may have planted those green beans too close, but it just doesn’t seem right to put about 16 beans in a raised bed and expect them to fill it up. However, that is the reality.

Yikes…my potatoes got some high wind and rain. They are laying down on the job.


And remember the side garden….it was like this not long ago.

Border of Side House

It’s exploded…gone whacko. There’s no rhyme or reason to what’s in there. The only common thread is that I didn’t pay full price for the plants. Some crazy lady stuck them in the dirt and forgot about them planted them. Oh wait..that’s me. And of course, there is my husband’s favorite flower still growing there. The dish. Ugh.

Side Garden


What a Night

Last night, I fell asleep about 2:00 am. Sometime shortly thereafter, Luckie barked at me. The poor baby was sick. She had terrible diahhrea. I got up and took her outside to see if there was anything left (there was), and then came back in and began cleaning. I had to rely on my nose more than my eyes because I didn’t have my contacts in. It was bad. She and I are exhausted this morning.

Sick Baby

She even declined our early morning walk to check on what grows overnight. This is our special time. The birds are so noisy in the early hours. She misses them since she can no longer hear, but I tell her about them with my hands, my mind, my eyes and my heart. She connects.

RiverCliff in Fog

I’ve grown a lot of succulents this year as they are going to see some wedding action in about a week. The floral designer, Ms. Heidi, knows she can take them all if she needs them.

Shoe 1

There was an old weed
That lived in a shoe
That had so many chicks>
She didn’t know what to do.

Pair of Boots

Those boots belonged to Randy Powers.  Randy is my friend, my cousin, a retired Navy man, a musician, a restaurant operator, a father, husband and grandfather, and he’s a pastor.  I love him and his boots!   What a sweet gift this old pair of boots have been.  They’ve been around here for years now.  Last year, they got a little fancier.  If Heidi uses the succulents in the boots, then I’ll add some flowers again.

Shoe Flower 2

This is my “Hello Stranger” tomato.  It was given to us by a stranger.  We don’t know what it is, but it’s doing well in the five-gallon bucket.

Tall tomato

The kindess of a stranger.  I hope you receive some kindness from someone today, and better yet, perhaps give some.  It’s important.

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Bedroom Redo With Quilts

I have a lot of quilts, and I make sure they are all used.   When I considered the color for the bedroom redo (Bedroom posted here), I wanted to make sure I could use all my quilts.     In the summer, a quilt and a sheet is what I like on my bed.

Here’s an old blue and yellow quilt that I put on the bed today.  The duvet cover was just to hot for this time of year.  The quilt will be much cooler.

Bed With Quilt

Although…I do like the look of the duvet better. It has a puffy softness that beckons me to climb in. Unfortunately, once I got in there this past week, I started to sweat.

Master Bedroom 5

This will work much better for a while.

Bed With Quilt 2

This quilt just came in from the clothesline. I like the faded fabric. It’s hard to find quilts large enough to fit this bed as it’s a California King. Quilts from Pottery Barn always work.

Quilt  up close

And…the underside of the quilt has a print which makes it nice. Oh whoops…can you see that the old duvet is lying in the floor?

Items on the Floor


Master Bedroom Done

As I’ve been refreshing the Master Bedroom, I’ve been showing off this side…that side…of my redo.  I kept one side back because I imagined a white slipcovered chair and ottoman with this pretty throw casually thrown across the chair.  I realized today that Luckie has some say so on this.

Luckie:  “Mama..that’s not going to happen.”    She likes her denim bed…she adores the box fan blowing on her (even though there is both a ceiling fan and air conditioning running most of the time).  The chair would get in her pathway.  She only tolerates the ottoman which I guess I’ll drag back upstairs.

Master Bedroom 3

That’s okay…the room is not perfect but I like it. It’s so much better than it was.

Here’s what it looks like coming into the bedroom, and I promise there are never clothes on the floor. The bed is always made up. The room is always clean. Seriously. I can’t believe how clean it looks.

Master Bedroom 1

Here’s another…

Master Bedroom 5

I redid the end table…

Bedroom 1

I had paint left over and Mike fixed me a little thing to hang necklaces off of in the bathroom…this is just an old picture frame.

Picture Frame Jewelry

Up close…

Necklace Thing

The bedroom will change when Luckie is no longer with us and that won’t be that far off, but for now, it is done. She’s just too precious to upset.


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