The Kitchen Window

The Kitchen Window
Antique Milk Bottles with Herbs and Flowers


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.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Adventures at the Farm

Well, my dentist appointment lasted almost 3 hours yesterday morning - I'm home recovering and didn't even need the Vicodin that was prescribed - just Advil.  Have I mentioned how much I dislike going to the dentist?  I have to give myself a hand, I bucked up and acted like a Big Girl and just scheduled the appointment and went.  I'm so glad it's over and that I'm feeling fine. 

While I was making my cup of tea this  morning I glanced out the kitchen window and saw this snapping turtle walking up towards the pond from our field.  FHFB had seen a smaller one earlier in the morning,  not sure if they were returning from laying their eggs or just visiting from the larger pond down the hill. 

We often see these prehistoric looking reptiles floating on the top of the water, sunning themselves and waiting to see if we'll throw out some bread.  For several years now there has been a snapping turtle that actually comes up to the surface whenever he hears my voice on the porch.  It's a riot, he knows there will probably be some stale bread heading his way. 

These are not my favorite pond-dwellers. I much prefer the pretty little painted turtles. 

It was really a busy morning on Frog Hollow Farm.  While I was outside taking these photos I heard a loud ruckus near the East garden and was surprised to see large wings flapping around in the air. A half second later Olive, one of our cats, went tearing up the porch steps.  Finn, the black cat, was still in the field near the commotion.  Another half second later about 6 baby turkeys came tearing up out of the garden onto the front lawn - with mama turkey beside herself.  I gathered the cats and put them inside.  Mama turkey was just devastated - she called for her babies for quite a while.  I saw one baby head over to her, and found another one stuck on one of our stone steps.  I went over to help it, the baby started squawking, and mama came tearing over to me - let me tell you, I thought she was going to really hurt me, but I just put the baby down and tore into the conservatory.  Not sure what happened to everyone, but I heard mama calling to them for quite a while afterwards.  

I'm not happy with the cats - and they know it.

Heading over to my dad's for dinner later. 

Happy Anniversary FHFB - 33 years!  I love you!

Ciao, bella!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Painted Turtle at Frog Hollow Farm

I love painted turtles.  They are usually found sunning themselves on logs that are floating in our pond. Sometimes we see them walking up the sides of the pond to lay their eggs. 
The cutest painted turtle that I ever saw in the pond was a tiny little baby skimming along the top of the water.  He was about 2 inches wide and just so adorable. 

There is so much nature to see in and around a pond.  We have blue and green herons that stop by, as well as an old kingfisher.  Watching him dive head first into the water is spectacular.  Red-winged blackbirds love hanging out in the cattails that grow around the perimeter of the pond.

Our farm is called Frog Hollow Farm due to the very large and loud bullfrogs that live in the pond and make their presence known, especially on hot, humid nights. 

Catfish, striped bass and little sunnies are also seen swimming around.

Colorful koi have been added to help with the algae - they are great at keeping the pond clean by eating the algae that loves to grow in the sunny parts of the pond.  As they swim right beneath the top of the water you can't help but watch them with their beautiful orange, white and black color combinations.   Our koi are a few years old and measure about 12-18 long at this point.  They survive the winter by staying close to the bottom of the pond where the water is warmer.  We keep a bubbler going all winter so that the pond doesn't freeze - which could trap deadly methane gas that can be lethal to fish and other pond life.

Here's the painted turtle swimming away. They are such shy little creatures, I think the clicking of the camera scared him.

Heading to the dentist today for a two hour appointment.  Yesterday was the mammogram day - can my life be any more fun? 

 Just kidding, things are great - loving life, retirement, sunshine and our green and white striped hammock that is way too big for the back porch but I love it there anyway.

Have a great day - Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes

Yesterday I invited two friends to stop by for Frog Hollow Farm Margaritas on the back porch. The weather was perfect for sitting and talking outside - and the margaritas were definitely the perfect cocktail!  Since both ladies had worked all day I wanted to serve some simple, delicious appetizers and a light dinner. 

Here's the menu:


Twice Grilled Peppers with Buffalo Mozzarella and Caper Basil Vinaigrette
Yes, I did serve these on Friday night for SVV and FVV but they were so delicious, and I still had some of the ingredients leftover so I decided to make them again.  They were a perfect savory for the occasion and I always love it when I can put something together with things that are already in the fridge or cupboard.

Herbed Goat Cheese Medallions with Thinly Sliced Red Onions and a Red Wine Vinaigrette
(very simple, one of Martha Stewart's recipes that I can't find online)

Frog Hollow Farm Margaritas


Mustard Chicken Salad

Chopped and Lightly Marinated Grape Tomato and Organic Cucumber Salad

 Frog Hollow Farm Asparagus


Coconut Cupcakes

As you can tell I love and use many of Ina Garten's recipes.  You may know her as the Barefoot Contessa.  She is a fabulous cook and gracious hostess and I love her simple, no-fuss approach to entertaining.

But the star of the evening (for me anyway) were the coconut cupcakes - I was determined to make them since our visits in April to Georgetown Cupcakes in Washington DC and Babycakes Bakery in Abingdon, Virginia. 

I'm a little nervous because there are a couple of leftover cupcakes, and I bet they would taste great with my morning tea, or mid-morning tea, or afternoon tea (you get it) - but I'm going to save them for FHFB. 
Today should be in the 90s - I'm heading off for my yearly mammogram and some shopping.  I always reward myself with a little something after my yearly mammogram and also whenever I visit the dentist - two things I dislike doing, but I know they're very important. 

Enjoy your day and do something nice for yourself!

Ciao, bella!

Monday, May 24, 2010


On the Frog Hollow Farm porch breakfast table...

These peonies are from our friends SVV and FVV - they are avid gardeners and wonderful friends.

Today's blog is a celebration of these beautiful flowers and this pretty bouquet.  

Sitting on the porch farm table....


So pretty and frilly - just lovely!

Happy Monday to everyone - hope your week is perfect in every way.

Ciao, bella!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back Porch Birthday Dinner Menu

Last night we had two dear friends over for dinner.  This is a couple that we have known for many, many years and we have so many things in common!

We love to cook...and to eat ~

We love wine and we love gardens~

and we love to travel  - we've been so many places together!  

Friday, May 21, 2010

If You Love Beatrix Potter....

If you love Beatrix Potter like I do you have to visit The Make Bea-lieve Blog that Cindy is developing.  Cindy is a student living in Washington state.  I've only recently become familiar with her blog but it's so sweet I had to share it with you all. 

My favorite Beatrix Potter character is Jemima Puddle Duck.
She is just the sweetest, don't you think?  We still have the Jemima Puddle Duck stuffed animal that belongs to my daughter Katie. 

Looking forward to an absolutely wonderful weekend of working in the garden and having dinner with friends on the porch!

Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Spring Rod Curtain

Well, I finally dug out my old Bernina sewing machine and sewed up a little curtain to fit on a spring rod to hide some shelves on a piece of furniture in our conservatory. 

The Frog Hollow Farm Conservatory

This is what the shelves looked like before adding the little curtain:

I found several sets of April Cornell dishtowels at Home Goods for $4 each.  The colors and pattern seemed just right - I wanted something with a little yellow in it, preferably a pattern with lines, not flowers.  I sewed three of the dishtowels together to fit onto the spring rod, with a little puckering for fullness.

Here's how it looks now:

Now, I realize that the lines don't match up but that's okay in this setting (I think).  You can see that several of the plants are no longer on the top shelves, they're outside enjoying the dappled sunlight on a little table under our maple tree in the wine garden.  I definitely need to add some things to those shelves - it's looking a bit bare right now.

Here's a close-up of the dishtowel fabric: 

Even though the shelves aren't in this picture I think the fabric works well with the rug and other colors in the room. 

I'm at Transformation Thursday - stop by to see all of the fabulous ideas!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My First Etsy Purchase

Today I received my first purchase from the Etsy store in the mail. 

It's an I Spy Quilt kit for a new baby boy!

This is what the quilt will look like when it's finished:

Here's what all of the pre-cut pieces look like:

(sorry about the photo, I don't take great photos without natural light and it's kind of cloudy this afternoon)

The directions for sewing the pieces together seem clear and the project looks like it will be fun and rewarding.  I can't wait to begin - I'm pulling my old Bernina sewing machine out from the closet as soon as I can. I used it the other day and it seems to be in good working order. 

Thank you Cassie at Quilt-Addicts all the way from Queensland, Australia! 

Ciao, bella!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This little corydalis plant has found a home in a small rock wall on our front walkway.  I don't know if you've ever planted corydalis, but they are prolific reseeders.  We planted blue and yellow corydalis plants about 15 years ago.  The blue never came back but these little yellow ones fill in so many spaces in the front of the house. The leaves are very dainty and light, they fill in between other plants so beautifully.  And, they are easy to pull out if you think they're a bit out of control. 

Here's a Google image of blue corydalis - aren't they pretty?

We're winding down after a full weekend of shopping for perenniels and annuals at some wonderful nurseries in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  Yesterday was the shopping day (after we had the rug people out to measure the office area for a new rug) - today was the planting day.

This is the front garden at Frog Hollow Farm.  It's mostly shade due to a very old and beautiful maple tree so I add flowers that do well in partial sun. 

FHFB has designed some wonderful borders around the inside of his vegetable garden and he's filling them with bee balm, roses, lambs ears, peonies and daisies.  I'll be sure to feature them on my blog soon. We have a problem with the one end of our garden because of the huge walnut trees that are on the edge of the woods - they're roots and nuts leech into our garden and many plants do not do well  - the walnut trees make the soil toxic for them. 

Hope your weekend was wonderful.  I'm looking forward to dinner with two wonderful friends in the middle of the week...Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Conservatory Make-Over

My decorating skills are not well developed, nor are they necessarily defined.  I love collecting things from places we visit  and love both primitives and elegant items.  One problem that I have, although a friend of mine said that it's my creativity, is that I move things around in many of the rooms on Frog Hollow Farm.  This is really almost therapeutic for me as I work to discover the 'perfect' arrangement of the furniture and decorative items that we own. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tea Table in the Kitchen

Sometimes there are just too many things on my kitchen counters, and I need to clear them a bit in order to clear my mind, if you know what I mean.  This little table came from the family room foyer in my parent's house.  It's a little rectangle-shaped table with a little cutting board that pulls out from the front - you can see the little knob pull in this picture.  I decided to try to fit it at the end of our kitchen counter and turn it into a little tea table - this would then make it possible to remove all of the 'tea things' from the other counter and place them in one location.  There's also an outlet here that can be used for the coffeepot when necessary -we still use the old-fashioned Farberware percolator - we think it makes the best coffee, and keeps the coffee hot as well.  My daughter hated the table at the end of the counter and thought that we'd constantly
be bumping into it.  I was a little worried about that as well but so far, so good. 

I don't love the look of the table, the wood is kind of like an oak and our cabinets and floors are all pine. So, I covered the table with an old embroidered tablecloth that belonged to my mom as well, and I think it looks pretty cute.

The wooden box with the rooster painted on it holds my regular Lipton teabags.  My sister Laurie gave it to me a long time ago.  The little off-white teapot in the center is an antique Salada teapot (that's a big S on the top of the pot) - and I have organic raw sugar inside.  The little red covered bowl holds regular white sugar and the cylinder shaped canister is an old ceramic peice with green painted trim - that holds our coffee (Dunkin' Donuts of course!)  The ceramic rooster is a little decorative piece that I had in my kitchen - right now it doesn't function as anything on the table except looking cute.

I added a little vase with daffodils (this was taken in April) and my antique glass pitcher of milk fits nicely in the front. 

Here's a view from the side - it was hard for me to take photos of this because there isn't much light directly in front of the table. 

  I just love embroidered pieces like this. 

Here's a close up of the embroidery on the side of the tablecloth.

I'm linked into Metamorphosis Monday.

Ciao, bella!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers out there.

And Mom, I think of you every single day and wish you were here!

Ciao, bella!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dinner on the Porch with FHFB

FHFB invited two very old, dear friends over for dinner on Friday night.  Now, I'm not sure I've told you that FHFB is a meterologist, and our dinner guests were meteorologists as well.  So, these three guys were in heaven, talking about weather like they were chronicling a new global resource guide for climate and forecasting.  Not really, but they do love to talk about anything and everything to do with weather, and they have uncanny memories with regards to dates of storms, the type of weather, how much it rained, how long it rained, snow, wind, hail, sleet and so on and so on.  It's so much fun to sit and listen to them when they get started.  They are truly passionate about what they do. 

Friday, May 7, 2010


We have an old wooden barrel in front of our garage that seems to have become the annual home of a beautiful columbine plant for several years now..

Here's a close-up of the flowers, a little past their prime maybe but still dainty and pretty.  The plant just keeps getting bigger every year!
It always takes me a minute or so to remember the name of this flower for some reason.  I love it when volunteers  find a favorite place to make their appearance and bloom year after year.

Ciao, bella!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Frog Hollow Farm Frog Clock

Here's our newest addition to the Frog Hollow Farm conservatory.  I don't know why, but I seem to be putting cute little decorative clocks in many of our rooms on the farm.  This fellow looks like he's got a lot on his mind. 
Here's a close-up of the Frog Hollow frog clock. He looks a little friendlier from this angle, don't you think?  I think I see a little smile on that froggy face!

Sometimes I see a little something in a store that I would normally just pass by.  This little fellow caught my eye in Pier One the other day, and he was on the clearance shelf.  How could I leave him there?

He looks like he's ready to take a walk, maybe down to the vegetable garden or maybe over to the pond.  Wonder what he's got in that little barrel?

I hope you all had a fun Cinco de Mayo. FHFB and I had a friend over for some late Frog Hollow Farm Margaritas on the porch and delicious fish tacos.    The tacos were so simple to make and very delicious.  FHFB said he preferred having beef or chicken in his tacos, but he ate every bite of the fish taco! 

My photo is a little blurry - and I hadn't even had a margarita when I took it!

Since there wasn't much time to food shop this week, we used whatever we had in the house to make the tacos.  I blackened some pieces of Chilian Sea Bass from Whole Foods on the stovetop and crisped several small corn tortillas in the oven. 

To assemble our fish tacos, we first put a teaspoon of Marie's Creamy Chipotle Ranch dressing on the tortilla, then a small bed of chopped fresh organic spinach with a tablespoon of homemade guacamole.  After that we added a few small pieces of blackened Chilean Sea Bass, fresh tomato salsa made with chopped red onions, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. 

We are all looking forward to a wonderful Mother's Day here on the farm. 

We're having overnight guests on Friday night, an old friend of FHFB's - we love visiting his summer house on South Hero Island on Lake Champlain!. 

South Hero, Vermont

My daughter will be home for the weekend - I would love it if my son could make it up from North Carolina, but I don't think that's possible - we spent three great days with him in Asheville a few weeks ago!  The second best thing after having Katie (my daughter) here is that we don't have a thing planned - the weekend is ours to do with what we please. I love those kinds of weekends!

Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frog Hollow Farm Margarita recipe

Okay, maybe I do have time to post about Cinco de Mayo.  Here's our very simple Frog Hollow Farm Margarita recipe.  I learned how to make this drink in Wellfleet Massachusetts many years ago from our friends Steve and Liz.
Here goes: 
Use 6 oz of a 12 oz frozen drink mix for each blender full.  Place 6 oz 9half) of frozen drink mix in a blender. Add the following to the blender:  6 oz tequila  and 2 oz triple sec - I use the empty frozen drink can to measure each of those ingredients.  Fill the blender with ice and go for it!  You can rim your glass with salt if you like, I love using salt!  Add a slice of lime and enjoy!
Ciao, bella!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mixing Things Up...

I don't think I'm going to have time to put a Cinco de Mayo tablescape together anytime soon - lots of outside gardening this weekend, a sweet baby shower tomorrow and then back to work consulting and testing some elementary students for 2 days. 

So, instead of a colorful tablescape I thought I'd post a colorful salad!

Getting some of the fresh ingredients together for the salad....

Let's see, it looks like we have bright yellow peppers, crisp English cucumbers, sweet grape tomatoes, crunchy carrots and celery, julienned prosciutto, chopped leaf lettuce, sliced endive and a sprinkle of blue cheese in the middle. 

I mixed everything together with a light whole grain mustard viniagrette made with first press virgin olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar, whole grain mustard, salt and pepper - very simple.

Guess FHFB really enjoyed it!

Hope all is well with all of you and that you're having a great weekend!

Ciao, bella!