Rosemary in Mendota

Mendota did not get snow. Mendota got rain. Sniff.

All kidding aside, I do not mind. Our friends and family in the northeast have had a very scary two days. They are safe. I am grateful.

However, I had intended to wow you with snow pictures. Would a rainy gray background of my weedy rosemary do instead?


This demonstrates how forgotten my garden became at summer’s end. The walk to the rosemary inspired me to make rosemary potatoes for dinner, so I picked quite a bit before returning to the house.

I also passed by one of the mums  I transferred from the pot to the ground just a few days ago. I know…a bit weedy. I’ll get around to taking care of that!

Mums in the ground

If these mums “take hold”, I’ll have them to enjoy for years. Here’s a few that are several years old. They are looking a little sad at season’s end but they have been putting on quite a show for at least 8 weeks.

And lazy gardeners listen up! I left last year’s pumpkin out so long that it rotted. As a result, I have been treated to a Cindarella pumpkin which I’ll be displaying on my Thanksgiving table. Wow! Have you priced these pumpkins? Thank you rotten pumpkin seeds! This picture makes it looks small, but it’s a good size and perfect–even though it is growing laying on its side.

It’s time to get the rosemary inside. I picked quite a bit of rosemary, so I’ll hang some up to dry…

It will dry in this basket…the kitchen is smelling so good! I’ll pick more in a day or two.

When it dries, it’ll go into the little rosemary spice jar I made last summer. I’m still in love with spray on chalk paint.   I painted this lid and talked and talked and talked about it in this post.

Rosemary Herb Jar With Chalk Paint

Back to the potatoes. My potato picture has a shadow…it’s me…loitering about with the camera wishing these were my homegrown potatoes, but I only grew three potatoes this year. A total potato disaster here at RiverCliff Cottage. Here’s a sprig for the potatoes I bought…

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of seasalt. Oven preheated to 425 degrees. This will be ready to eat in about 35 minutes. I am so hungry…

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.  So much!


Mendota Daily September 17

Happy Monday evening!   I started back on my weight loss which basically I’ve learned means walking every day. If I walk every day, I lose weight. It’s been less about what I’m eating — although I have been watchful — and more about these feet hitting the road every morning.

Anyway, this morning  I walked two miles, came home and showered and headed out. When you live 17 miles from a retail store, trips count! I had the following “mental list” as I headed out….Hancock Fabrics (40% coupon in hand); TJ Maxx (cute black jeans in mind); Hobby Lobby (40% coupon in hand); Whitney’s Closet (15 consignment items to drop off); Salvation Army (stuff to donate); Target (exchanged a shower curtain); nail salon for manicure; dry cleaners; and finally, My Pal Walmart! I started in Kingsport…looped around to Bristol and then home. Whew! It was 3:00 pm when I pulled into the garage.

I bought a few items to work on fall decor projects. Other than the gazillion gourds that are everywhere, I haven’t done as much as I thought I’d have done by now.   While I’ve already shown you the foddershocks I cut from the corn patch,  I didn’t show you what they look like with a few mums tucked in here and there. I just can’t keep from glancing over at it. So simple and so pretty.

I also made a wreath.

 I started not to show it to you because I’m not 100% happy with it. It’s in puberty. It has two little orange boobies that keep staring at me everytime I look at the door. 

I  tried to make a wreath that was more organic than what I’ve been seeing.   I used ribbon, burlap, Spanish moss and Indian corn.  However, I needed the little pumpkins (which are absolutely nonorganic).   I really needed three, but I only had two so that’s what I used. 

Should I add another pumpkin or just put a bra on the door?

Here’s another thing that reminds me of fall.  Soup.   I made soup last week to take to a family member who has been ill and is now recovering.  Bread, soup and a bit of our honey.    I think that bringing food to someone who is ill, lonely or sad is one of the best ways to say you care.  

I’m having a perfect evening watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with my  Gracie Dog beside me.   My sister lost her beloved Bailey Dog and it’s reminded me that my time with this dear girl is short.    She is on the couch and I can reach out and touch her every few minutes. 

Mike is in the kitchen messing around. 

I love the sweetness of normal.



Mendota Daily August 12

I wasn’t in love with home canning at first.    It was the winter following the summer I learned to can that I fell in love with canning.   This hasn’t been all that long ago–less than ten years.   It was snowing and we didn’t go to the grocery store as we’d planned.   I made spaghetti and instead of a salad to accompany the spaghetti, we had green beans.   The spaghetti was topped with my sauce and the green beans were from the jars on top of the cabinets — all from the summer before.

Those green beans not only looked good on top of my cabinets — they were good.    I thought…I did this!   

 I then read a great book by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I realized how beneficial it is to eat local food.    I love that book…if you haven’t read it, you should!    The library has the book and the CD.   

On Saturday, I started this post describing my excitment over canning tomatoes.   I realize it appears I have a small life to be excited about canning tomatoes, but if you haven’t tried canning, it’s difficult to understand the satisfaction achieved from preserving your own food.  I think that many of us are still “wired” to want to gather and prepare for winter — even though Food City and Kroger are doing a pretty good job of taking over this responsibility!

Anyway, I canned 65 pints of homemade spaghetti sauce and 12 quarts of tomatoes — right at 100 pounds of tomatoes.   The spaghetti sauce grew challenging as I grew more tired.   I started yesterday and did not finish completely until 5 pm today.   I had to scald the tomatoes to get the skins off.  Then I had to skin and core them and put them in my handy KitchenAid food processor which I’d researched last winter in preparation for its use in dicing tomatoes   Great job!  Once I got about 20 cups of the diced tomatoes, I added seasonings and placed the mixture  on the stove to simmer for 25 minutes.  AFTER that, it was into the jars and then into the pressure canner for 40 minutes.  The worst part about this whole process  besides a sea of red sticky mess was waiting for the pressure canner to cool off enough to open and remove the jars.

I’m not complaining.  I have a pantry full of wonderful, yummy stuff that I’ll be quite smug about this winter.   I’m droning.  Here’s a few pictures.

Aren’t these girls pretty?   They are in the “hot tub” getting scalded.    Ouch.

Sue Cressel a nurse practitioner and friend taught me to can.   She went strictly by the Ball Canning Book.    This was 8 or 9 summers ago, and she and I canned 168 quarts of green beans along with many pints of tomatoes,  pasta sauce and salsa.  My right elbow hurt from breaking beans.   I am not sure why I did not learn from my mother…I think she saw me more as a bean breaker than a bean canner.     

So…much of the weekend, I was looking down into a simmering pot of this…


Even though I was busy in the kitchen, I tried to do other things during the “down” time when things were on the stove.  In the country, there is always something to do.  If we’re bored, we can go out and mow grass.

However, I did laundry as we’d had company all week.  I hang my sheets out to dry.  I have two washing machines, so I can zip through the laundry by using both machines and the clothesline and the dryer.   The sheets smell really good, but this has its hazards.  From above, the birds can poop on them, and if I hang them too low, the cat runs up and pees on them.  That red sheet is definitely in the danger zone.

 It’s always something.   And how has your weekend been?   








It’s Freezing in July!

Our corn is in!  We are so excited.  We are terrible at growing corn.  It usually doesn’t even germinate or the crows get it before it has a chance. 

This year, no one was more surprised than Mike and me when the corn came up.  We planted Kandy Korn, a sweet hybrid that has been around along time.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you may remember when it looked like this…

Believe it or not, today it looks like this!

 I just noticed that one of the ears looks a little rotten.  Sorry. 

The financial news says that corn will be expensive this year and will result in higher food prices.  I’m sure I’ll be buying lots of things that have corn in them and will suffer with everyone else, but I won’t have to buy corn.  I’m freezing it!

I have some gadgets to help me in the process…my favorite is this…

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System

This FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer came from Sam’s Club.   I love it!

Look at the corn I’ve froze!  So what if it’s not carefully stacked…

So far, I’ve put up about 60 ears of corn.  I’m now removing it from the cob and freezing it for soups.  

While I had the mess out, I also picked a few green peppers. They grow so easily in our garden. I have a book on organic cooking and it says that bell peppers are among the vegetables with the highest amount of residual pesticide.  Not my peppers!


We do nothing to our peppers and they grow all season. We will be picking peppers until the first hard frost. Hmmm…I just noticed that I didn’t wash the peppers before I took the picture above. Sorry.  My father’s voice is in my head saying…”a little dirt never hurt anyone. “

So after I washed them…I chopped them up. Here they are…

I will use these in meatloaf and soup recipes.  I’ll use some that are in larger pieces in fahitas.  They freeze well for these uses.    Look at the wooden chopping block that the peppers are lying on.   Mike made that for me out of leftover materials from a church pew he shortened so we could get it in the house.   A Bristol church replaced their pews and for a very little bit of money, we bought the old ones.    People sat on that bench, found Jesus on that bench, sang hymns on that bench…and now it resides in my kitchen.  I call it my Madonna chopping block since it has reinvented itself.  I hope it lives on a long time. 

Back to peppers…they look a little strange after vacuum sealing….

My mother told me that during the Great Depression, the people in Mendota were not hungry.  Relatives would visit her parent’s home, Will and Eva Sproles, just to eat the good food.   She said she didn’t have nice underwear or pretty clothes and her family did not have coffee or sugar.  However, because they had land supporting a few livestock for milk and meat, a large garden, and put forth the required hard work…they continued to eat well. 

I’ve never forgotten Mom’s words.    She would tell us that while she worked so hard at making sure her own family had plenty to eat.  She worked all of the time.   It makes me feel good to sit at the table on a cold winter day and realize that we grew and preserved some portion of the food ourselves.  And I think of Mom.  


Easy Squash Casserole & Apron Winner

I keep droning on about squash in the garden.   If you have not gardened or grown squash in the past, you should try it!   It is amazing what 24 hours will do in the development of squash.  World hunger solved by squash.

However,  I have squash beetles and they cause powdery mildew which is the kiss of death of squash.  I’ve picked the beetles off and appropriated squashed them, but the damage is done.  I hate squash beetles.  

While the harvest is bountiful, we are eating squash daily.  I made a great squash casserole which is pictured below with a very simple recipe.

Very Easy Squash Casserole (pictured below)


3-4 small summer squash, sliced thinly

3-4  tablespoons olive oil (amount of olive oil is determined by size of squash)

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

1/3 cup Parmeasean cheese

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or pint jar of diced tomatoes if you are a home canner)

Mix onion, squash, Italian seasoning and olive oil together.   Alternate layers of this  with Parmesean cheese and breadcrumbs.   Top with diced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sometimes I grind a bit of pepper into the mix.

Terri McCroskey of Bristol, Virginia is the winner of the apron.  Congratulations to Terri!  The apron will be mailed on Thursday, July 4.  Thanks to all who commented.    Winner was selected in random pick.



Daily Mendota June 28

I took Miss Luckie Beaule to the vet this morning after a long night of her throwing up and feeling miserable.  Dr. Steve examined her and took an x-ray.  She did not have an obstruction but there appears to be an enlargement in the area of her liver or her spleen.  We will be going for an ultrasound on Tuesday of next week.  Since she was dehydrated, he injected fluids through her skin.  She didn’t like this and snapped at him.    I was speechless.

She’s home now and he gave her something for nausea and asked us not to give her food or water until tomorrow evening.  I’ve broke down and given her 2-3 dog treats and a sip of water just to moisten her mouth. She has also stolen the cat’s food and drank out of the commode.  It is hard to obey the rules.

Since Luckie was worked in for her visit with Dr. Steve, we dropped her off so she could be seen “in between” other appointments.  This left Mike and I some time to kill in Bristol.  We could have shopped together, had a nice lunch, but this didn’t work out because we had Gracie the Golden Retriever with us.  I could not leave her home alone.

I also could not leave her alone in the truck even with the air conditioning running, because if the air conditioning failed, it would be terrible with the high temperatures we’re having.  So…this resulted in Mike running in and out of stores and me sitting in the truck with Gracie.  I learned something.  All of these places have wi-fi!  I had my I-pad with me so I played Words With Friends at Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and “The Lost Sock” laundramat where we washed doggy bed covers (talk about a stinkin’ problem).  I just hopped on and off the wi-fi’s as needed.  Sometimes I had two to choose from!  Really changes the whole experience of being stuck in the truck!  Technology rocks.

I love this little face.  Dr. Steve–are you sure she snapped at you?   She’s so sweet.  

We need rain in Southwest Virginia.  Several weeks ago when we had the first cutting of hay, I noticed that the farmer’s got their hay in with a sense of urgency.   The hay was cut, raked, rolled and gone.   I recall thinking….they know something.  Farmers are more watchful of weather patterns than others.  They know the signs of pending drought.   Maybe they have developed a sixth sense.    At any rate, they valued the first cutting and worked day and night getting it in.   This were smart to do so, as we need rain. 

In churches all throughout the valley on Sunday morning, pastors will discuss the prayer requests.  Every church will have someone raise their hand and say “please pray for rain.”   I could not live anywhere else.

Here’s a picture of the North Fork right in front of my house.  This is what we call Mendota Beach and it’s where I learned to swim.  It’s very low for June.

I’m watering my green beans as I write this.  We have a deep well but it’s risky.

Not one cloud, and it’s blazing hot.  It’s not just that we need clouds to appear for rain.   The lack of clouds makes me uneasy.  It’s like I can’t hide.   The picture below is the “knob” behind our house.  In Poor Valley, we have the mountain and then the smaller ridge that runs through the valley which is called the knob.  No clouds above the knob.

The picture below faces the mountain.  No clouds anywhere.   

Let’s go to another subject, although a familiar one.   Guess what we had for dinner tonight? 

This is not a complete picture of the ingredients for my squash casserole.  I forgot to include parmesean cheese…you know…the one in the giant green can from Sam’s Club.  

This would be a great time for me to include a picture of the finished product, but I forgot about the blog and we ate it.   I’ll make again in a day or two and post the recipe and the yummy finished casserole.

We stalled today doing our projects.  Luckie kept us in town all day.



Honey From Mendota

Do you want a little honey from the country?.  Sweet, warm, golden?

Here ya go!   Stop by my house with $6 and she’s yours!



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