Archives for June 2014

I’ve Lost a Little Weight

I’ve lost a little weight and I thought I’d post a picture.    So proud of myself especially since I ate a whole cabbage today.   It had just a little olive oil, water and chicken bouillon, and it was a small cabbage. Before you pass judgement, cooked cabbage really shrinks.

My hair was messy in this picture but oh well.  I’ll post another one when I lose five more pounds.  I hope it’s soon.

Me Lost Weight


Larkspur in the Garden

I said earlier in the week that I was not leaving the house on Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday. I lied. Tuesday turned out to be Mexican food night which I could not turn away, and Wednesday was an unexpected trip to Lowe’s for Mike, and I ended up tagging along for only one reason — to check out the half dead plant rack.

As we drove through the Lowe’s parking lot, I tried to peek through the wires and plants to see if many plants were on the rack. I could see a few–but not many. After breathing in the scent of my True Love’s garden center, I hopped out of the truck and dashed back and found a bunch of really sad, dead plants and one good-looking Delphinium for $5. It was the only one on the rack. I was so excited. Have you ever seen a grown, middle-aged woman skip? That was me! I skipped over to checkout! Happy! Happy! Happy! I’ve been watching these plants for a week hoping they’d come down from their $12.98 price.

I started thinking about the likelihood that someone just sat the delphinium on the half dead plant rack versus its really being there on purpose. Yikes! So…when I told the cashier that it was on the $5 rack of the half dead plants, and I wasn’t certain it had actually belonged there, she said “for you, it will be $5 whether it an accident or not.” I could have hugged her! Thank you!! My True Love has the best cashiers! I was so excited!! Here she is riding in the truck on the way home. Mike suggested I put her in the back (as in the truck bed). “ARE YOU CRAZY???” was my response. I held her close all the way home.


Delphinium is commonly called Larkspur, and the blue ones, like this one are symbolic of an open heart and ardent attachment. This is appropriate, as I am ardently attached to this plant. While a $5 plant, it deserves a $15 hole in the dirt and this one got a big loamy place to live surrounded by that great Bristol City Compost.

Delphinium Planted

She looks tiny in her new home, but she has friends. Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) on one side and a common Marigold on the other.

Delphinium With Friends

A little further off, there is this tricky Clematis that continues to taunt me. I think I discovered a way to beat the wilt! Yay! Read about that here.

Clematis Plant

I’m hoping she does well in her new home. Do you love flowers? Do you place your flowers in an order? I subscribe to the method of just sticking them anywhere so long as the light and the soil are right. The rest I leave to chance.

It doesn’t always work out well. Sometimes, however, it does.


A Day In Mendota Virginia

Yesterday, I worked all day and I’ll go back in for a few hours on Friday, but for the remainder of this week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday– I’m not leaving Mendota. It’s not as easy as if I’d said “I’m not leaving Bristol.” It means my meals are planned and my activities or what I want to accomplish this week is considered because there is no store here. I have what is in my house or what my neighbors will loan if I run short. Here’s what my typical stay-at-home day looks like…it starts early….usually at around 6:00 am.

I water in the mornings, and there is the constant dead heading of flowers. I know…it’s hard.


About 10 am, as I hung out laundry. I could hear kids playing in the river.   They are skipping rocks, splashing and fishing. Sounds nice.

River BAnk

Do you agree….


Back at the garden…I check on the half runner green beans. These beans have been fighting insects from the day they sprouted, but they are holding their own…with no outside help except water and healthy soil. Mike placed tobacco sticks in an “X” pattern on the top of each bed. We’ll tie those down, and they will be what the beans climb around.


Remember my strawberry-lavender jam? I told you I used culinary or food grade lavender? Did I tell the truth or did it come from my garden? Hmmm…


When the beekeepers gathered to share sugar for our bees, one man brought his extra tomato plants. The kindness of a stranger…and it’s doing well.


Speaking of bees, the swarm I caught is doing well. It’s been a concern because of the lack of activity going in and out of the hive, but a peek inside a few weeks ago showed plenty of brood, so the queen has been working. Finally, the bees have hatched out and I’m seeing them although not in this picture.  They are all out gathering.   Whew. I love my bees.

No 2 Swarm

Some things just grow better from seed, and cucumbers are one of those some things. Mine are growing in a bucket. I need to keep them on the move away from cucumber beetles, so I thought I’d give this a try. I’ll keep you posted on how this is workng.


Basil is another thing that grows easily from seed.


If you live in town, you can grow a garden of your own with a raised bed, a few buckets and some want to. It is not even hard work.

However, for in the country is No. 1!!

Board Picture


Where There Is Love

There is an old Irish proverb “It is easy to halve the potato where there is love.” You may have a half of one of my potatoes.

Here they are…all fancy in their blooms. When the bloom fades and the leaves wither, the potato is ready.


Here they are on May 4…they were only babies just five weeks ago.

Potatoes 051414

And here they are on June 8…

Potatoes So Big

I’m such a lazy gardener. I’ve let the greens bolt. The basil has gone crazy.

Crazy Lettuce

But it all works out in the end. I borrowed a few coreopsis blooms, a petunia vine and some of the crazy basil and bolting spinach.

Flowers 2

How is your garden growing? Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Painting With Your Own Chalk Style Paint

Last year I painted a small end table Duck Egg Blue with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint.  Here’s the post.    I liked the way it turned out, but I’m now painting my bedroom a new color.  Since the bedroom is now Sherwin Williams Aqua Sphere Blue, it clashes with the Duck Egg Blue table.   My aqua and my duck are not getting along!  Here’s the table…

Duck Egg Annie Sloan Table 3

Annie Sloan’s chalkpaint product is wonderful, but I didn’t want to drive a long distance to get it or pay the $30-$40, so I started looking for recipes to make a chalk-style paint. There are several…some use Plaster of Paris, some baking soda, some grout, and some a powdered form of what makes up Tums! I went the Tums route which means that I used powdered Calcium Carbonate. It was $4. I also needed a white latex paint, and since I didn’t have any at the house, I bought one of the Valspar paint pots for about $3.  Perfect for a small job such as mine.

Calcium Carbonate

The recipe is simple. Two parts paint to one part Calcium Carbonate, and since the paint pot is 8 oz., I just added 4 oz of Calcium Carbonate. Here’s my paint brew.  Unlike some of the other recipes, I learned that this mix stores well.   One most important tip…please make sure you have something to stir the mix with. I could not find anything and had to go out and cut a tree limb. I was channeling Paul Bunyon.   The consistency of the mix is not as smooth as normal paint.

Brew with stem

I brushed the mixture on the table and drawer and let them dry overnight.

White Table Not Chipped

When I first asked Mike to “distress” a piece of furniture he almost fainted. He could not imagine. In his eyes, you must “refinish” instead of distress. He’s come along.    

Table Almost finished

He used sandpaper to rub the white off and allow the blue to show through.  After that he rubbed a clear paste wax on the table.  However, you can use any wax including car wax.   Whatever floats your boat.     The wax gives the dull chalk finish a nice sheen and smoothness to the touch.    In the picture below, the table is almost through.

White End Table

And done!

Bedroom 1


Master Bedroom More Progress Again!

We finished painting the bedroom last week.  It took forever, and Mike still is not happy with the way the paint rolled on the walls, but I’m so over that.   Who cares if it is not perfect?     Last week, I could not wait to have something “put together” in this room, and I showed you one completed side of the room in an earlier post. It’s here if you haven’t seen it. I’ve now got the other side of the room put together.

I wanted a restful retreat.    My high school friend, Linda Godfrey, has a “Restful Retreat” board on her Pinterest page.   I think that is a perfect description of what a bedroom should look like.  Some of the pictures she pinned to her board were my inspiration…especially when I decided on blue for the walls.    Here’s the bed….with its duvet cover and pillows.

Bedroom 2

Remember the end table that showed up in the  picture below?

Master Bedroom Paint 1

I am still using the end table, but I didn’t want to keep the color.  It’s got a new chalk-style paint finish and a new lamp.   Do you like the little turtle?  I thought it was appropriate since I’ve been so slow putting this room back together.

Bedroom 3

Here’s a close up of the little turtle.  Mike’s son made it in elementary school.  I’ve meant to give it to him, but I haven’t done so yet.  I will.  One day.

Bedroom 4 Turtle

I stepped back a bit to take this picture.  I had to be careful or you’d see the last side of the room that is still not put together.   Do you recognize the quilt in the picture?  If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know it’s the 2013 Mendota Cemetery Quilt.   How I love that quilt and the sweet man (and his wife) who gave it to me.    Receiving such a gift is one of the wonders in my world.

Bedroom 1

I’ve got one more side of this room to finish and then I’ll have the whole room done!


Jammin’ With Strawberry Rhubarb

Do people up north eat rhubarb?   When I lived there, I never heard the word rhubarb, but you can’t rely on my judgement.  I’m so influenced by Southern life that when I attended college (as an adult mind you)  and the professor asked what the most common religion was in America, I raised my hand and said “Baptist.”   (As most of you know, I was wrong.)

Back to rhubarb… I’ve never heard anyone speak about strawberry rhubarb pie anywhere but…!      Strawberry-rhubarb pie is a prize in Southwest Virginia!    My grandmother, like most of her contemporaries living in Mendota at the time, had a rhubarb patch.     She warned us, “never eat those leaves.”   I have been thinking about her, and I decided to make some strawberry rhubarb jam, but I had difficulty finding rhubarb.   I knew I could get it at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market, but the main market is on Saturday; and on Wednesday, I wanted to get started.   I finally found it at Food City….just  a few of the red rhubarb stalks for $3.53, but I was glad to get them.

Based on this apparent rhubarb shortage, I decided to plant some rhubarb.  I got my plants at Lowe’s.    My little patch will have four plants. That’s enough for my needs.   They seem to like living out by the barn, and I can water and watch over them as I water my blueberries, potatoes, green beans, etc.    My stalks are tiny in the picture below, but fully developed rhubarb stalks look like beet-red celery.   You can sprinkle sugar on the stalks for a crunchy, tart treat.    And…as my grandmother said,  “Never eat those leaves,”  because...well, they’ll kill ya!  They are poisonous.


I worked that comment about my blueberries, potatoes, green beans, etc. so I could, once again, show you the raised beds.  Anyone considering gardening should consider raised beds.  They are the best!   I took this picture about one week ago.   How ’bout them taters?”   We are abundantly blessed in rural Southwest Virginia.  Beyond the garden, you’ll see a line of white flowers…those are my blackberries.  Behind the blackberries further up on the ridge, there is a huge patch of raspberries.  The only challenge with these berries is the competition with the turkeys.   They love berries, too.

Potatoes and Blueberries

Back to strawberry-rhubarb jam…I used the traditional recipe for strawberry jam (minus the lavender) (posted here), but in this case, I first chopped up two cups of rhubarb and then added enough crushed strawberries to make 3 and 3/4 cups of the combined crushed strawberries and the chopped rhubarb mixture.

I love the rich red mixture.  Strawberry jam is so sweet and the rhubarb adds a bit of tartness.

Strawberry Rhubarb

For those of you who yet to try food preservation, please try it.   Making simple jams is a great way to get started.  After making one successful batch, you’ll be hooked.  So pretty and a great gift.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

And look at this, the cherries are here!    They are so happy and cheerful, but I am not sure whether I’ll bother picking them.   You are welcome, birds!




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