Archives for October 2014

Table For Sale

This post is unusual for people who read RiverCliff Cottage regularly. However, because I have a Google presence when someone searches on a word, I’m including it on my blog since anyone searching for an antique ice cream table may come across it. When I’ve searched recently, I found that two have been sold at higher-end auction houses in the past couple of years.

Mike and I maintained two homes for a number of years, so we have excess items, and now that we’re using the shop for Adventure Mendota, we need to get rid of some things. We are selling this antique ice cream table manufactured by Sani Products of Chicago at the early turn of the century. I believe around 1916.


We used this for a number of years — in Northern Virginia and New Jersey. I loved it because of the uniqueness and because the floors were never scratched by chairs sliding around! We used it in a tiny kitchen at one time and then as a game table in a den at another time.


The table was distributed by Belknap Hardware Company in Louisville, Kentucky. This specific table came from the employee lunch room at Belknap. It is very rare. The base of the table is fine-grained cast iron heavily coated with porcelain enamel.


I purchased it in the late 1990’s at the Virginia Highlands Festival by an older man representing an antique store called “Grandma’s Attic” or “Granny’s Attic” in the East Tennessee area.

I have a copy of the note that was with the table when I purchased it. If you find it difficult to read, it tells that it was $78.00 new, compared to the standard ice cream table which was $16.75.

Table Receipt When Purchased Small

The cultured marble top is not original to this table, but can be easily replaced.

This table was purchased for $2450, and that is the current asking price, and the buyer will be responsible for shipping/delivery. If you are interested in this table, please contact via email.


Fall or Spring

I love Coneflowers (Echinacea).  However, I have had no luck with them.  I buy them at Lowe’s and they come home with me and get all gnarly.   I’m always optimistic when I buy the 1.5 gallon Coneflower…here’s a picture from an ad.

Lowe's coneflowers

During the summer, I bought one of the Coneflowers (croaked) but I also picked up Lupine seeds and at the same time, grabbed a pack of Coneflower seeds.  I read the seed pack and decided it probably had been a waste of time…they’d never grow…and it was too late to plant them.   I tossed the seeds in the ground and forgot about them.

But Mother Nature did not forget about those seeds.   Nope…she whispered to them to grow.  And they did.  Here’s a crazy plant blooming on October 30.    I’m so excited, and it’s supposed to be back again next year.

Cone Flower Large

It will be fun to see what happens to her next summer. We’ve been cleaning up the yard for fall. My country cottage garden is all snipped back and composted for winter. I weeded and snipped and hurt my back in the process. Or could it be from loitering around the computer all time time. Hmmm…

Fence Row

There is no sign of that clematis as I completely whacked it off. I’m still treating it like a weed, since after 14 years of trying to get it to grow and then giving up, it thrived.

Clematis Plant

And look who else heard Mother Nature’s whisper? I took this picture this morning (October 30) as I picked green beans!

Green Beans

I am having this moment of gratitude for the good things in life.


Adventure Mendota – Working Smart

I’ve missed writing to you! While I do not know everyone who reads this personally, I do know most of the folks and I’ve “met” others through personal emails that you’ve sent. I’ve learned you are like me…struggling to do the right things, making mistakes, doing something right once in a while, and just getting by doing your best. I feel we relate, and when I don’t blog, I feel something missing.

I took a few weeks off to find my camera. Ouch. I have not found it. I will be buying a new one but meanwhile, I’ve found my iphone and ipad take pretty good pictures. I also took some time off because I’m working on the website for Adventure Mendota, and I was tired of looking at the computer. It has also been a fun time at About Face (where I work part time) as we plan our biggest sale of the year for “Early Black Friday” on November 7. And…on top of that, I’ve been considering going back to work full-time…so suffice it to say…it has been busy, busy, busy!

The part of busy this week has been the “work” there is to starting a business. I thought…”we have the shop, we have the land, we have Facebook…we’ll just get some tubes and kayaks and take off.” Maybe that would work for some people, but for us, it’s not going to be that way. There’s liability waivers, insurance, county approvals, VDOT approvals, logos and branding, business plans…all kinds of stuff. Mike does most of it, so I am lucky in that respect. Mike is all about the details which is great when you’re a Big Thinker like me. He keeps me reigned in. Mike and I, or Mike or I, go weekly to the Virginia Small Business Incubator for Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions. They’re fun, and we’re excited to be 1 of 25 entrepreneurs competing for a $5K grant. Here’s where we go.


Independent from this, I have been working on the website. I’m trying to do as much as I can vs. having someone else do it to save money, although I am seeking some help. It does not have a logo and has several things wrong with it, but if you want to take a look at it as a “gentle, not-too-critical reader,” it’s      I asked friends on Facebook for pictures, and they have all been great. To date, however, I’ve used DeeDee Taylor’s pictures and Jessica Leonard’s pictures.    Darby the dog has become our Director of PR.  All of the pictures were beautiful but they were more fall than spring or I could not get them positioned just right, etc. I can’t wait to put some tubing pictures up as well as more kayak pictures, but I want them to be “real” so that means…next spring or summer! Let me know what you think of

One thing that we can check off our list is how to shuttle our tubers and kayakers up and down Swinging Bridge Road. Have you ever wondered who buys the old buses from groups like the Mountain Empire Senior Citizens? Enter..people like us.

Fork Taxi

We’re calling and tagging the MEOC bus the “Fork Taxi” since it will be running up and down the North Fork on Swinging Bridge Road. We bought the bus from Terri Anne and Brock at Clinch River Adventures and I noticed their license read “RVR TAXI.” I shamelessly copied. We’ll have some decals on it and hope everyone around waves at us as we rattle up and down Swinging Bridge Road with our kayaks and tubes!! Mendota rising? Is that a possibility?

Mike and I have been having a great time although there has been a heated moment or two. He took the Fork Taxi and got it detailed. You know what what I thought? Total waste of money, and why wasn’t my car detailed? He’s trying to make up now, so I believe Cracker, my little white Prius, has a spa day planned for tomorrow and will be looking good by tomorrow night.

Also, for those of you who have “liked” and shared Adventure Mendota’s Facebook page. Thank you so much. This journey is going to be fun but only if you’re with us. Float the Fork in 2015!


Honeybee Update 2014

This post has two things — an update on our bees and honey but also a You Tube video that Mike came across that is funny. Please scroll down and watch the video.

Lots of neighbors and folks who read RiverCliff Cottage have messaged me about the availability of our honey.

Unfortunately, we will not have any additional honey in 2014. We have checked the hives to determine if there is enough honey to extract, and we found in most cases that the top “supers” had little to no honey. We must leave three “boxes” which are a combination of deep hive bodies and supers on each hive so our bees will have adequate food for the winter. Their health is our first priority, and during our first year, we took too much honey and starved our bees. On the upside, our bees look healthy and numerous so, hopefully, we will be greeted with healthy bees come spring. In the meanwhile, you can rest assured that if there is another Polar Vortex with -8 temperatures in Mendota, Virginia, I will be out there with bubble wrap, black trash bags, and duct table! Our hives looked strange for a few weeks, but they survived the brutal winter.


The above picture is an old one — I’ve lost my DSLR camera! How did I do this? I’m not sure. I’ll be off RiverCliff Cottage for a couple of weeks–at least the remainder of October– while I (1) finally find my camera or (2) purchase a new one. Ouch!

In the interim, while Mike has been researching kayaks and the potential to have Go Pro cameras for Adventure Mendota (yay) he came across this You Tube video which is hilarious. I hope you enjoy it was much as I did.

Have a great October and I’ll be back in November!! I’ll miss you!!


Rainy Day Kayak Adventure

By now everyone knows that in the spring of 2015, Adventure Mendota will open renting very cool inner-tubes and totally awesome kayaks.  I’m messing around here with the early stages of a logo.  That is not a double-sided pitchfork.  It’s a kayak paddle in the middle of an oval.   Pretty rough, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Logo Work

Speaking of starting…..did I bother to tell anyone I’ve never been in a kayak?   Yes…moi.…conjured this up with Mike before I’d ever been in a kayak.    Until now.    Do I not look like a professional?  Even though the river is barely 4 ft. deep anywhere right now, I put on my life jacket!  I do not break rules!!

Eva Kayaking

Since I don’t yet own a kayak (that’s about to change in a BIG way), my sister, Pat, and I borrowed DeeDee and Eric Taylor’s kayaks.    “Float the Fork…we are on it, baby!”    Mike, who has kayaked before, is busy studying this to death.  He is into details and close to deciding what kind of kayaks we will offer.  Not just brands…but styles.   We are at a crossroads…do we want to order  “sit on top” kayaks or a “sit in” kayaks?   We are leaning toward the “sit on top” like the one below.    Do you have an opinion?   If so, please tell us!!

sit on topEveryone keeps saying that tubing will be the larger part of our business, but honestly, I with my vast knowledge acquired from today only, think that the kayaks will be the most popular!   Mike thinks 12 is the sweet number…I’m like..a MILLION!    I don’t know if I can wait until we place our kayak order…I may have to just go buy one in town NOW. Tonight.    All it takes is about six inches of water and they move along beautifully.  The North Fork was made for kayaking.  Here’s a picture I took of some friends last year.   Had I known how fun it is, I’d have ran out and stole their kayaks and took off!  This is in front of my house people!    Why haven’t we done this sooner!?


Kayak 4

My sister, Pat, is an experienced kayaker.   It was supposed to rain today, but when she and I talked, we decided it was not going to rain.  We are W. T. and Vivian Barker’s daughters, and we’re totally optimistic about things like this.    Pat, however, did have the good sense to wear rain gear and water shoes.   I wore a heavy, cotton sweatshirt (translate that into super absorbent), shorts, socks and tennis shoes.   Seriously…it wasn’t going to rain so why even bother with all that other stuff?

As we launched, it began to sprinkle.   The reason these pictures are not clear…it was raining!!  Hard!   I’m here to tell you when I got out of that kayak, I weighed about 30 pounds more than I weighed in this picture…that sweatshirt can hold some water!

Kayak Hard

It was so fun.  I got stuck on a rock once or twice because I wasn’t paying attention, but I just pushed off with my paddle.  Nothing to it.

It was raining so hard that we pulled out at the second Swinging Bridge…about an hour into our trip…and ran and climbed in the Big Loop Farm truck.  It was lightening and thundering.   Scary!!  We flew over to that truck praying it was unlocked.  It was. Thank goodness!!  Neal Faust did not know he was an angel (okay…he was an angel only for a few seconds).    I knew I looked really fine so I posed by the truck when the rain let up a little bit.   Even just standing on this big truck makes me feel…well..AWESOME!  I love heavy equipment!   Remember the late  Liz Taylor?   Her last and final husband, Larry Fortensky, was a heavy equipment operator.  I wondered about that relationship, but I’ll bet he let her drive the big trucks and stuff.   I now get it, Liz! 

Pat 1 Small

Discussion then began on how in the heck we were going to get home.  We did not “take out” where we had planned to.   We had Pat’s cell phone.    Naturally, it did not work.  However, we were able to pick up a little bit of a data signal.  So…we emailed Mike.   This just looks so sad…a cry for help.   I printed it off when I finally got home.

Little Emal

The email did go through, but Mike wasn’t at home.    We sat in the truck a bit….maybe ten minutes.  When the electrical part of the storm passed and it was a nice gentle rain, we set out walking home.    We had to hide the kayaks in the river bank brush.  I swear…I was starting to feel like an Indian movie where the Indians hide the canoes along the shores of the river from the white man.  In this case,  Pat and I were Indians…trying to be FOUND by the white man (Mike) who was hanging out with neighboring white man Jim Otis seeking firewood to keep the fort warm for winter.    Seriously…where is this man when I need him?

I was soaking wet.  My shoes squished.    See my loveliness..the wet sagging shorts…the sopping wet sweatshirt…the attractive vest…the hat that says “Dad Rocks?”   And how about those legs?

Pat Eva Kayak Paddle in the Air

We started walking.  We walked the 3/4 mile up the road in the pouring rain, got Pat’s car, went and got my truck, and then parked the car and took the truck down to get the kayaks.    Pat drove the truck and I sat in the back in the pouring rain anchoring the two kayaks.  What difference does a little rain make after you’ve been in the rain for hours?  She forgot I was back there and speeded up, and I was pelted with stinging rain drops.   Thank you sista!

What I can’t find in the pictures my sister sent are any of her (hmmmm), but I will share that at one point after we got off the river, she was covered in mud and had to remove all of her clothes except her shirt and underwear.   She was very confident that no one was around to see….it’s a weekday…lots of woods, very remote area.  Totally confident.  No worries.

I reminded her…”honey, it’s deer season.”     Whoops!  









Adventure Mendota – More Baby Steps

This weekend Mike and EJ worked outside leaving me inside to work on Adventure Mendota items.     I worked primarily on clerical items but also selected the theme for the website.  I’d reserved the domain name several weeks ago.  It’s  I’m not sure what you get when you put that in, right now, but soon there will be beginnings of our website.   This whole thing has made me very grateful to be where I am in life.   I feel a sense of melancholy appreciation.

I saw a picture tonight of this silly girl.   I barely know her.

Eva looking silly Resized

That silly girl…sometime around the time that photograph was taken made the comment “aren’t you glad we are going on a cruise NOW rather than when we’re too old to enjoy it….like say about 40?”    I’m serious.  I said that.

I was wrong on so many counts.  There are real fears about growing older primarily based on wellness and poor health.  However, to stop stop living…because of a number is a bad idea.

Mike and I are having so much fun during this time in our lives as we plan Adventure Mendota.  How could we not be excited at the thought of introducing others to this beautiful place where we live?    The river is too low for tubing in this picture, but you get the jist — I don’t see just a river…I see people tubing and having fun in the place that I love.

River 6

The North Fork — Live it!  Love it!  Tube it!

I hope you continue to follow us, pray that we won’t fall on our face, and support us in this little adventure.   It makes us feel young.  I might even go find a hat and a necklace and take a selfie!

Have a wonderful week!



Prepared for ? and Another Dishtowel Giveway

There’s three things in this post.  The first, and kinda funny, is my dried onions.   Onion math is different than traditional math.  Two trays of these…

Onions on Dehydrator

Equal a 4 oz. jar of these…

Onion Flakes

Not so many, right?   However, this was a learning exercise for me.  Now that I know how easy–although stinky–it is to dry onions, I’ll plant more and worry less about them spoiling.  I’ll still have quite a few to hang, but I’ll augment the amount of onions preserved by drying them as well.

Pantry With Onions

Secondly, during the beginning and end of summer, I determine how much my garden will yield and how much I’ll need to preserve of that yield.    The next step is to review everything in my pantry and determine how much food I have available during the winter months…or whenever.   This is a easy process for me because I keep two of everything since we live so far from a store.   However, this year, after rereading a few pages in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and following the disasters and diseases that seem to be ever growing in the world, I kicked it up to ensure I have a 90-day food supply.


I referred to some of the blogs by the women of LDS.   They are experts at food planning since most attempt to keep a year’s worth of food.    I found one PDF spreadsheet that I used as a guide to ensure I have adequate supplies for my 90 day plan.   I didn’t follow it to the letter, yet it was still very useful.     Do you think I’m crazy?


 Mike hasn’t really wrapped himself around this notion, but just a week ago, there was no reason to be concerned about Ebola entering the United States undetected.     I’m the daughter of a man and woman who lived through the Great Depression because they knew how to be self sufficient.

I’m using the food.  Now that I’ve reviewed all of our needs when it comes to food preparation, it is like having my own grocery store.   When I need an item, I use what I have in my 90 Day Plan and replace it with a newer item.  The first one in (the oldest) will be the first one out (FIFO). This way, things will not spoil.    Here’s the sheet.

Sample 3-Month Food Storage Supply

And finally,  I have another dishtowel to give away.  I’m cleaning out my stash of dishtowels.  We’re simplying and cleaning up as we plan on next spring’s venture.  (Read about that here.)    I love giving these away.  Please make me happy and comment!


Please leave a comment on this blog and I’ll put your name in for the drawing next Wednesday, October 8!   Thank you!!

Update:  Melinda Leland is the winner of the dishtowel!  Yay Melinda!  I’ll be mailing you a dishtowel!!




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