The Kitchen Window

The Kitchen Window
Antique Milk Bottles with Herbs and Flowers

Welcome!

Welcome to the Frog Hollow Farm blog! I've been blogging since January 2010 and have switched from Blogger to Word Press, but I'm back to Blogger because, for me, it's easier to use. My husband and I live on a little farm in Northwest New Jersey. We have some chickens and a very large vegetable garden with asparagus and raspberries, and rows and rows of sunflowers, snapdragons and zinnias. Traveling, entertaining, gardening, spending time with family, studying Italian, blogging and reading keep us busy and happy. With all of this going on, moving towards a simpler life seems almost impossible but it's definitely a daily goal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grocery Store Flowers...with a Friend



I really went a little overboard buying flowers at the local market the other day.  

Here are some orange and white tulips and alstroemeria - colors of the Irish flag for our St. Patrick's day party on Saturday.  One of our old milk buckets is the perfect place to show them off in our farm kitchen.  We found the bucket in a little antique shop right outside of Brewster, MA called Captain Freeman's about 15 years ago, and collected a couple every time we visited. 

My little bunny friend is just hangin' out, with a little repair to his right leg.

Ciao, bella! xxoo

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good Morning to the Sunshine and Melting Snow

This past weekend we had a St. Patrick's Day celebration here at Frog Hollow Farm with sisters, brothers, cousins, neices and nephews.  It was a great day, a little crowded inside the house with 24 people but all went well.  We set up all of the food ahead of time:  appetizers (all cold or room temp), hot food on the kitchen table keeping warm, and a dessert and coffee bar in the pantry.  Most everything was homemade by me or my family, but I did cheat with some store-bought desserts and a couple of catered appetizers.  (Costco makes a mean cheesecake by the way!)

Our famous Irish Blessing Cocktails were also on the menu, set up on the old step-back cupboard in the pantry.

Irish Blessing Cocktail
The sun is shining this morning, the sky is blue and the daffodils are coming up along the pond.  

Lovely

Irish Pottery


Have a wonderful day! 

Ciao, Bella!  xxoo

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Snowy March Morning at Frog Hollow


A beautiful winter morning at Frog Hollow Farm.  I know many people may disagree with me, but this morning's snow was a site to behold.  
I for one will miss these snowy days that force me to slow down, simmer some homemade chicken soup, light a fire and wear cozy socks and sweaters.  




Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trying out Blogger...and sharing my seasonal dish swap.


Yes, I am still working on my Word Press site…I went back to this original Frog Hollow Farm girl Blogger site and to tell you the truth wasn’t totally impressed….but I do still think that for me, Blogger is easier to use and that means it’s more fun to blog with.

Do you change your dishes from season to season???  I do, and I think that a lot of people do based on the number of blogs I have come across that display beautiful photos of seasonal tablescapes.  For many, the changes occur with the accessories incorporated around simple white dishes, which is probably the way to go….but I am in love with dishes, especially Italian and French pottery (mostly Italian).

Do I need to prove this to you?   We have an old house with an old basement that was remodeled into several office spaces for my husband when he began his business many years ago.   Now that he has moved his business out of our home, one part of this space has become the ‘Dish Room’.  This is where I store all of my seasonal dishes, plates, saucers, mugs, bowls, trays, platters and pitchers.  For the most part they are organized by season, darker browns, oranges, greens for the fall; bright reds and yellows for summer, blue, white and green for winter and lighter turquoise, lemon yellow and white for spring.  Our Christmas dishes include the old Spode Christmas Tree pattern, along with several antique sets of transferware dishes with red, green and cream coloring.  Here are some of the dish room shelves for you to see….

red Polish pottery in the mix

Florentine pitcher, bowls and dishes - used in the Fall

cute crow mug from an weekend market in Piazza Annuziata in Florence

 For the spring I have pulled out some of the Italian dishes with softer colors.  Below are a few photos of  my ‘spring dishes’ and ‘summer dishes’, purchased over the years from Silvia and Maurizio in Florence, Italy.

a mixed set of Florentine dishes

small plates from Maurizio for aperitivi

my very first set of Italian pottery, I add to it every time I am in Florence


 So, here I am back on Blogger.  I'll be taking a look at my front page and see how easy it really is for me to change things.  

Ciao, bella!  xxoo

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring at Frog Hollow Farm

I don't know about you, and I'm sure that this will sound odd to almost everyone, but although I love the warm breezes of a spring day, the flowers, longer days and new garden plans that come with Spring, I have a very hard time transitioning from Winter.




I'm one of those people who loves the coziness of shorter days, fires in the wood stove, wool socks and soft, oversize cardigans to wear around the house and the certainty that Fall will always bring us the holidays, my favorite time of the year.




For me, there is that very awkward time between late February and whenever Spring decides to make it's debut - mud; cold weather; gusty, windy days... seeming even colder to me than the winter.  I just feel awkward all around, even though the calendar and Punxsatawney Phil say that Spring has arrived.



It may go all the way back to when I was a little girl, with a new pastel colored dress and shiny new shoes for Easter Sunday. The problem was, we could never depend on Easter being warm enough for that dress, or dry enough for those new white patent leather shoes.  The warm Easters were wonderful; the wintery ones just terrible.



Yesterday evening I went outside when Frog Hollow Farm Boy drove up the driveway.  The weather was warm enough to go out without a jacket, there was no breeze, and the sun was out.  I may almost be sold on Spring - it does take me a while -  and think that perhaps enough time has passed to help me to begin the transition.

I planted some pansies today - large, happy pansy faces - some really pretty deep violets mixed with some softer shades of violet and white.  The cabbage planters even look happier with some flowers!

Hope all is well - ciao bella!
xxxooo

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Mugs at Frog Hollow Farm

We spend days getting all of our Christmas decorations out each year, and always love finding homemade ornaments and memories from Christmas's gone by, even the piece of Christmas Tree Spode china that my mom chipped one Christmas Eve while she was washing the dishes.  We also seem to have a small collection of memorable Christmas mugs on our shelves, and every time I drink from a mug I think of where it came from and where we were in our lives during that time.


This little mug was a gift from my sister-in-law Tuzza, many, many years ago.  It plays Jingle Bells when you pick it up, and after all these years it still works. We love finding this mug every year and think of Tuzza every time!


These two small mugs were purchased many years ago for 50% off for my children Frank and Katie.  I remember seeing these mugs well before the Christmas holidays and thinking of how expensive they were.  I was so happy to see that they were still on the shelf when the store had their after Christmas sale.  Frank and Katie used these mugs to drink hot chocolate every Christmas - I'm so glad that they survived those preschool hands!


This little Tom and Jerry mug is from the Spode Christmas Tree collection, and is part of a larger set.  I began collecting the Spode Christmas pieces when they were on sale in Macy's and Marshalls.  They used to stay on our hutch shelves during the holidays and used only for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning breakfast, and Christmas dinner.  Several years ago I decided to use them as every day dishes during the holidays, and I'm so glad that  I did.  My very first set of Christmas dishes was the Corelle Holly set, and I was so excited to buy that little set of four Corelle dishes - they were definitely a splurge for us at that time!


These two mugs are from Williams-Sonoma, and came with little cake/sandwich plates in a set.  The first mug is a set of elves building a snowman, and the second set is all the same vintage Santa picture.  They are fun to use, and I always want a cup of steaming hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows on top when I see the Santa mug!



I found this mug in Marshalls last year, and picked it up because it made me smile.  It's a huge mug and my dose of morning coffee looks very tiny in this mug, it works better for tea in my opinion.


Last but not least is this mug that I received as a Secret Santa gift from a wonderful teacher when I taught at the Sawmill School in Tewksbury, New Jersey.  Sue left teaching many years ago, and I would love to catch up with her sometime - she was a really wonderful, intelligent, caring woman.

 

Getting ready for a huge holiday cocktail party this weekend at Frog Hollow Farm.   Above is a photo from last year of one of our appetizer trays - cut up veggies on an antique milk glass cake plate.

Well, I am happy that I found the time to post on my blog today - it was number three on my list of things to do, and I guess that's the only way I am going to get myself to remember to sit down and blog.  All I have to remember now is to put it on my list of things to do! 

xxoo
Ciao, bella!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Frog Hollow Farm is alive and well!


For me, sitting down and deciding to write something, anything, just to begin posting on my blog once again after all these months away feels so good.  So many things have happened, and life is moving so quickly these days, that I realized my blogging helps me slow down and recognize things that happen around me. In the past several months I have looked back at my posts and been amazed at how much I was paying attention to life around me...I don't think that I've been doing enough of that recently.  My blog has turned out to be a chronicle of our lives here at Frog Hollow Farm, and as I look back at the things I wrote about I realize how blessed and lucky I am.  So, here I am, back at the keyboard, ready to reconnect with myself as well as with you all. 


( from Google)


What's been happening here...well, I can't begin without mentioning Sandy, the major storm that hit the eastern seaboard two weeks ago.  This storm was so unique, and such an improbable combination of so many things -  a once in a lifetime event and different from anything I've ever experienced, and it will be a storm that they write about in meteorological texts for years to come.  As some of you may know, FHFB is a meteorologist and he, along with is staff, watched this monster approach the New Jersey coast holding their breaths - it was enormous and devastating to so many.  If you can open the following link it shows some before and after footage of areas on the New Jersey shore.  

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/before_and_after_sandy_photos.html#incart_maj-story-1


FHFB is heading down to Brigantine, New Jersey tonight with a bunch of guys from his office to volunteer and help with some of the cleanup.  


Here are some photos of things we've been up to since we last met - I'll be posting about things separately in the future.





We finally finished the little room off of the kitchen.  I couldn't find a design that I liked, but after Googling words like "pantry", "buttery" and "larder" for what seemed like months, I finally found a photo that looked exactly what I was looking for - and we duplicated it here.  




I miss our gardens, especially the flowers and fresh herbs.  We are already thinking about next year, and what we'll be planting.  I don't know about you, but our garden is always a work in progress.




Lantana growing wild on Lipari, one of the islands off of the coast of Sicily.  

So good to be back, 
Ciao, bella!



Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Visit to the Apple Store


Last fall I switched all of my computers over to Apple products, and I've been adjusting to the new systems ever since.  As part of my purchase I was able to take advantage of Apple's One-To-One Program, which allows me (for a yearly fee) to access all sorts of training at an Apple store, including 1:1 sessions with knowledgeable Apple technicians.

Yesterday morning I spent over 2 hours with Norm, an Apple tech at the Short Hills, New Jersey Apple Store.  A group of about 4 people sat around a large table right in the middle of the store, each of us working on a Personal Project of our choice.  My choice was, of course, the management and organization of my photos - in my last post I had been kvetching about not having access to my photos and my overall feelings of being totally overwhelmed whenever I went into my photo files.

My main objective was to get all of my photos in one location (rather than in an external hard drive, desktop file from older Blackberry photos, and in iPhoto).


My brain seems to become easily tipped and on overload with respect to any computer language, but Norm was great.  As soon as I understood that he was starting with the big picture, and would then help me move into the small, more intricate steps, I was good.  

His suggestion was to begin moving everything over to iPhoto, so the two hours was spent moving photos, creating events, and organizing.  Not everyone I speak to agrees with saving photos in iPhoto, but without their level of knowledge and understanding I need to listen to the Apple techs for the time being.



I still have a lot to do but feel so much better.

And of course, any visit to the Mall at Short Hills is fantastic. I also get to stop by the Whole Foods store in Madison on my way home.


I'm including some of my favorite 'lost' photos for you all to see:

My grandniece Kiara picking strawberries last summer in our garden...

  FHFB posing for me in the city last November.  Katie actually bought him the hat...


Miss Olive taking a cat nap...

Our front cottage garden last summer...

So, for the next few days I'll be organizing the photos into events, then going back to the Apple store to begin working within iPhoto, learning how to better organize and have quicker access to specific photos.  

How things looked before the living room makeover....


and afterwards....


Ciao, bella!
xxoo

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pantry Design


We completed extensive renovations on our farmhouse about 3 years ago, redoing and expanding the second floor, adding on a wrap-around porch and pantry/workroom and connecting the basement with the crawlspace.  All of the rooms have been painted, furnished, decorated and filled with all sorts of things - this was easy to do because each of the spaces had a specific use - I knew what to do with them...except for the workroom off of the kitchen.  

This small room has become the main entrance into the house, as it is right off of the back porch and guests seem to take the porch steps into the house - they are wide, well lit and much safer than the front stone steps - which lead into the conservatory anyway since we don't use the original farmhouse door.  

(P.S. For the last 20 minutes I have been looking for photos of our front doors and porch but everything is so disorganized that I can't find a thing to post.  I will have to make another appointment with the Apple store to help me sort this our and organize my photos.) 

The photo in this post is the design for the workroom that I found on Pinterest and it's perfect!  This room needs to serve as a garden workroom, pantry, entertainment area to hold bar and buffet spreads and an entry mudroom for coats, boots, etc.  So, you can see why I have had so much trouble with the design.  I also didn't want the room to look like a kitchen - every designer I worked with ended up showing me a room that looked like a kitchen.  We will be adding a farm sink and an Sub-Zero glass-front refrigerator to the room.  

My contractor makes a second visit this evening, to begin planning and scheduling everything that needs to be done.  I am very excited and relieved to finally have a design and plan!  

Ciao, bella!
xxoo













http://pinterest.com/pin/83035186849560343/


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tulips


Although it's late February here in northwest New Jersey, the tulips, daffodils and other bulbs that are along the outside walls of our stone farmhouse have been peeking out from their winter naps. 

After the holidays I always love buying fresh tulips - they are so simple and elegant. 

I usually begin with white tulips just to tone down a bit from all of the Christmas decorations and lights, but as you can see, I am all about tulips with color right now!
These gorgeous tulips are placed in an old wooden milk bucket that we purchased up in Cape Cod many years ago.  A smaller, plastic container sits right inside the bucket to hold the flowers and water.  To me at least, tulips always look good in this very primitive container.

This photo was taken with Instagram - you know, I see all of these applications being used by friends and I always give them a try myself, but really don't have a great handle on any one of them. 

Just started a Pinterest account and found a fabulous design plan for my pantry/work room/buttery - a new room that is off of the kitchen and in the planning for the last several years. 

Be sure to check out my next post for the photo!

It's been awhile but I'm happy to be linking over to Seasonal Sundays #89 at the Tablescaper!

xxoo
Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

M-I-C-K-E-Y......


Our brave boy Connor!

My niece Jennifer, Connor's mom, posted this photo along with this message on Facebook.

A sweet woman we met in the radiology oncology waiting room made and sent this hat to Connor - she knew he loved Mickey! 
Oh the wonderful, caring people we've met through this journey!

They are indeed on a tremendously frightening and heart wrenching journey - how lucky they are to meet wonderful caring people all along the way.


xxoo
Ciao, bella!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ahhhhhh!


This is a photo of a beach in the Dominican Republic.
Sunny skies and a bar that never runs out of margaritas!

xxoo
Ciao, bella!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spring Cleaning in January

I've been on a mission here at Frog Hollow Farm - attacking closets, drawers, shelves, corners - anyplace that has been collecting 'stuff', the kind of 'stuff' that makes me feel a bit closed in.  Even though our winter has been very mild, that closed in feeling is starting to get to me.   

Some of the things I re-discovered during my cleaning, clearing and straightening were:

***My Communion dress ***

My daughter Katie wore this dress for her Communion as well.
It's looking pretty sad.

It's calling out for a good, gentle washing and may even be asking to hang safely somewhere to be admired -  it's a sweet little dress


close up of the lace and trim 

Another cute little handy thing that I rediscovered, although it was only misplaced for a few weeks, was a little book of recipe bookmarks that my daughter gave me for Christmas


I think she found it at Anthropologie.
You place the card on the page you want to save and it has a little cut out that clips onto the page.

It works just like a bookmark, I'm making it sound like it's a fantastic new invention.  It's not, but it's pretty, much prettier than the post-its that I was using to mark recipe pages.  

When you close the book the top of the recipe bookmark shows on the top of the book.


By the way, this Irish Pub cookbook was given to us by our wonderful foodie friends Stephanie and Forrest - I made so many recipes from it for our last year's St. Patrick's Day celebration - and it was all delicious and the recipes I made could be made ahead of time too.

Here's the link to last year's St. Patrick's Day post.
http://froghollowfarmgirl.blogspot.com/2011/03/st-patricks-day-menu-from-irish-pub.html

Today's weather calls for temperatures in the 50s this afternoon - I am still waiting for that big, big snow storm!!!
I think it's time to do my snow dance!!
Ciao, bella!
xxoo