Snowed In and Okay With It

Hi…I took a vacation day today.   I haven’t been on the job 90 days, but I woke up and **knew** it was going to snow and a few additional inches would be added to the 8 inches piled up and not melting.    It was not a day I wanted to be out.  I’m on a cleaning spree…before I go to bed tonight, this house will be spotless.   I’ve felt bad for almost three weeks and things are behind around here!

But first, I must walk around and take some pictures.   I’ve been on Pinterest pinning all of these wonderful kitchens I’d like to have and I’m not going to get any time soon.   I decided to embrace my kitchen with a vintage theme…after all it’s 15 years old.    I’ve always loved the Victory Garden posters from World War II.  Here’s one that was popular in the United Kingdom.

Dig For Victory – Grow You Own Vegetables

I’d thought about trying to find some vintage reprints of these posters, but I stumbled on something I like better at a site called The Victory Garden of Tomorrow.   I’ve ordered two and I’m putting them in my kitchen.

Here are two of my favorites that I ordered.  I believe one was $15 and one was $18.   They speak to me.

Eat Real Food

See that jar with beans in it?  Onions?   Doesn’t that just scream Mendota?   I loved this one, too, because it reminded me of my sister, Pat Gardner.  Pat taught me to love gardening, and Sue Cressel taught me to love home canning.  I love them both for giving me these gifts.

Grow It Forward

I bought the frames at Michael’s.  These will look great in my kitchen and will brighten it up which is one of my goals.

It has been such a busy time.  Who knew that starting a river outfitter…a tiny river outfitter at that…would take so much time?    The brochure was an exercise in patience but it is at the printers.   I cannot thank Eddie and the staff at World Printing in Bristol for their patience and help.   I’ll show you the finished product next week when it’s back home.

Also, we are still grieving for Luckie.  I’ll never stop missing her, but another little one who is in grave need of help showed up on our back porch.  She’s wild.  I haven’t been able to touch her.


For those of you who have known me a long time, you see that she looks like Molly–a cat I got at Saturn Corporation that lived 21 years.   This little one is named Muffin.   You might also note she is the third gray cat that I’ve ended up with.  She will never be an indoor kitty.  I can’t get her into the garage.  I’m not sure I can ever tame her; however, we’ve made her a warm place to stay with a pet’s heating pad to ensure she stays warm during the -3 temps we will be experiencing in the next 48 hours.    She has almost let me touch her on her nose, but she  changes her mind at the last minute.  What she does relate to me is food.  She runs over when she sees me.  She also innately understands I want to help her.  I’ve got to catch her and get her “fixed” in the coming six weeks, but for now, I’m just glad she has a warm, dry place to weather out this extreme cold weather.    She’s also been very hungry, and she’s at that stage were she cannot get enough to eat.   She currently eats two cans of Fancy Feast each day and two small bowls of Ims.

And Sam?

Sam the Cat

He hates her.



Our Annual Trip To Peterstown, WV

Mike and I made a quick trip to Petersburg, West Virginia today.  We make this trip every year to get a part or two for the woodboiler.  We have a heat pump, but as the deeper cold of winter approaches, we transition to the woodboiler.   We bought one a few years ago that was supposed to be very energy efficient and exceed EPA standards. What the reality has been is this thing is  a pain in the butt to get ready to go.   Each year there is an upgrade or something that needs to be replaced…sometimes under warranty…sometimes not.    Because of this, and all of the wood that we buy to keep it going, I doubt that it saves us a penny.   Change that to “I know it doesn’t save us a penny.”


However, we are very nice and toasty in the winter.  We keep the house on about 72 or 73, and the heat is a much warmer heat than that of the heat pump.  I have no idea why.     So even though it’s a lot of trouble and uses a lot of wood (we call it The Pig), all is forgiven when it’s 10 degrees…or – 7 degrees as it was last winter, and we know that our electric bill is not even phased by the cold.   This year’s upgrade says that it will burn twice as efficiently — using 1/2 the wood.    Right.    It will probably breeze right through this barn full of wood.  

Wood in Barn

And there’s wood behind the barn that we don’t have room for.  We’ll move that and stack it for next year.    For the past few years, our wood needs have kept EJ and Neth, our sweet nephews of a sort, in spending money.

Wood Pile

When people find that we have a woodboiler, they’ll say “that’s good when the power goes out.”  Actually, no, it’s not.  It’s one reason we have a generator. (Her name is Ginny and she is my best buddy. Here’s an old post.) The way the woodboiler works is actually like this.   It has a pump that circulates water through or near the firebox.  The  water becomes really hot in the pipes which then enter our crawl space and somewhere along this journey, there is a fan in our ventilation system and the warm air comes through the same vents that the heat pump uses.  It has to have electricity to move the air around.    At any rate, that is how I understand it.   That’s why it’s so important that we have a generator.

We get our power from AEP, and there have been some years that we’ve had many outages due to all of the trees the power lines run through.  They’ve done a better job in recent years in tree trimming, and we’ve kept power when others have lost it during snow and wind.   The worst outage we have experienced in 15 years was during the first year our house was under construction.  The power was off for 11 days.    We usually have at least one outage per month but if the outage is just four or five hours, we don’t even blink.    I know AEP’s number by memory.

The power was off at an acquaintance’s  house living in a more urban area.   In just a few hours as the house got colder and colder, they went and sat in the car with the engine running.    I cannot imagine. I’d just keep driving and never return.

I took a picture of this AEP plant this morning as we crossed the New River going into Peterstown to get the parts for the woodboiler.   I like old industrial buildings.   (Don’t you love looking at images of abandoned buildings and amusement parks in Google?)    I always wonder who works in these buildings, what stories the walls hold, etc.     I learned that this is the “Glen Lyn” plant, and it was scheduled for closure in 2014.   It looks empty so the closure may have already taken place.   I read that 44 jobs were lost in this closure, and I’m betting they were good-paying jobs.   This was an old coal-fired plant…about 90 years old… located on the New River,  and there were environmental concerns.  Still, I feel such sadness.

AEP Plant in Petersberg - 2

It was an ugly, winter’s day on this trip so I did not take a lot of pictures but this is really a pretty area.   Peterstown has a quaint mountain town charm.   When we visited last fall…a little earlier in the year…I loved it.  I’m sure we’ll be making a return trip back.  Maybe it’ll be a prettier day.

The cat just came in, so it’s time for bed.







Wormy Chestnut Coffee Table

Isn’t this a lovely picture? Our neighbor, Dr. D’Amato gave us these apples which I’m certain are heirloom because they taste so good.


Those apples reminded me of my den which is also a red color, and as I was sitting eating one of the apples this afternoon in the den, I decided to take some pictures of our wormy chestnut coffee table. I did so because when I review what Google searches land a reader at RiverCliff Cottage, I see the words “wormy chestnut” frequently.

Here’s the coffee table Mike made a few years back.   While our house is not rustic, our den is, and this table is perfect.  We can put our feet on it, knock it around or leave soft drink cans on it. Nothing phases it. This is furniture made to work.

Table 1

It’s not all wormy chestnut.  The legs are made from reclaimed walnut.

Table 2

Unfinished barn siding makes up the table’s apron — I am a tobacco farmer’s daughter. I’m sure this barn siding housed tobacco at one time since it came from Southwest Virginia.   I like furniture that tells a story and this table tells part of my story.

Table 3

Here’s another picture…

Table 4

It sits right in front of the fireplace, and Gerald (my brother in law) and Mike made the mantle above the fireplace.   It’s very simple, but again, it’s wormy chestnut.

Fireplace Mantle

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.



Happy 4th of July and Working in the Bathroom

Happy Independence Day! I’m so glad I live in a country that doesn’t require I keep a clean house!

Messy Room

That empty spot in my living room is where I’m having something slip covered. Danette took the chair but left the ottoman. She custom measured the ottoman while she was here, so there was no need to take it.

Remember Dottie’s basket…a post from last week? I did manage to clean enough of the bathroom so that I could take a picture and not hang my head in shame.

towels 3

That wasn’t a really good picture, but hopefully, you can see that I”m tying the bathroom to the wonderful Aqua Sphere bedroom I’m still enjoying ever so much…

Bedroom 1

I’m also really into these grapevine wreaths that are a combination of burlap, bandanas and pieces of material I just happened to have. Here’s the one I made yesterday morning. I made a second one since we have company coming and staying in the guesthouse tomorrow. I put the smaller one in the guest house and the larger one, pictured below, on our front door.

Wreath 1

It’s a beautiful day in Mendota, Virginia this 4th of July. It’s sunny (a great day for killing Japanese beetles)..about 80 degrees with low humidity. Everyone and his brother is floating on the North Fork today. I should set up a grill and sell hamburgers from the river bank. Hmmm….

Have a wonderful, safe 4th. Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


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.


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 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!



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.




Living Room Clean and Re-Arranged

Each spring I go room by room and clean house.   I started in my living room this year.    I took everything out of the room.  Here’s what it looked like over a week ago.


And it stayed that way for a few days.   Finally, we finished cleaning this room and reversing the fan for warm weather which was immediately followed by a night where the temperature dropped to 19 degrees.    Spring must be very confused this year.

This room is painted in a Benjamin Moore color I have used before and I never tire of it.  It’s called Concord Ivory.  I’m not sure I would like it in a dark room but in a sunny room, it looks so pretty and cheerful.

LR Couch

I cleaned this room from the top town. I vacuumed each piece of furniture and put it back where it belonged and then I decided to move it around. This couch was somewhere else in the room.   I still don’t have the curtains up.

I also moved this curio.  That “arrangement” is sticks I got in the yard and a forsythia branch.   I know…it’s a fake.  Sorry. 


Without running out and buying a lot of stuff, I tried to make the mantle look more spring like. I removed the red berries from the willow branches and inserted some green berries I purchased at Walmart for $3.   Like the forsythia, I’m sorry to say my berries are fake.

Willow in Vase Spring 2

Here’s the mantle…

Mantel 2

I like to see books and magazines on a coffee table. I also like to use alot of live plants in this room (in spite of my two fakes I mentioned earier. )

Coffee Table

Here’s the whole room again…I like this room. I think it’s pretty but still casual enough to be comfortable, and it’s very eclectic. I really do need to put the curtains back up. I will. Maybe today.

LR 2

Next is the kitchen. Have you started your spring cleaning?


Freezing in Mendota, Virginia!

It is cold here today.  We were -2 last night, and the high temperature today was 14.   Since our house sits near the river, we’re actually warmer than most spots in Southwest Virginia. In geography, that would be called the “maritime influence.” Through some miracle, we did not lose power last night. Thank goodness.

My neighbor, Marck Dean,  took some very cool pictures of the North Fork. Looks a little nippy. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Mendota Polar Plunge? That’s a fundraiser we might try!

North Fork 1

Luckie went outside today. You have to dress for this weather. She wore her blue Polartec.

Luckie Wearing PolerTek Dog Wear

She asked Gracie if she wanted to go. Gracie said no. No.darn.way. I like my couch.

Gracie on the couch

Gracie also said “Luckie you’ve lost your mind. Look at the North Fork! It’s very pretty, but it’s got icebergs.”

North Fork 3

Sam the Cat joined in the conversation. He said “*!&%” and “I like my chair!” He added…

Sam Kidding

And although Luckie reminded everyone that the river really is pretty today…

river curve

No one wanted else wanted to go.

Chrissy Tables It

Do you think there will be lots of babies 9 months from now?

We’re all staying in and staying warm tonight here at RiverCliff Cottage. I hope your water keeps running, your heat pump keeps pumping and your animals are safe and warm.


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