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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Irish Christmas Tree at Frog Hollow Farm

I call this little tree my Irish Christmas tree.  It was originally copied from the front cover of one of Martha Stewart's December Living issues - I think!  Her tree was all gold, as was mine when it started out.  The first Christmas after my mom died I decided to add green to the ornament collection on this tree, in memory of her. She grew up in Ireland and trained as a midwife in Belfast before immigrating to the United States in the early 1950's.

Many of the ornaments first came from a little shop here in northwest New Jersey, called Harley's Garden or Rocking Horse Antiques - it went by both names and was owned and run by two wonderful guys, Harley and Joe.  They had the most wonderful Christmas open house parties at their store every December, it was truly a magical little store that held something beautiful in every nook and cranny.  Sadly, Joe and Harley decided they would close the shop, but they are still around and I see them at antique shows once in a while.  They are delightful; however, I truly miss seeing them and visiting their store.  This little tree reminds me of them as well as of my mom!!

The sprays of white pearls was also an idea that I saw on one of the many decorated trees in Harley and Joe's Christmas Barn.  They have long wire stems and can just be placed inside the branches of the tree - they rest on the branches and soften the whole look.

Every ornament reflects light either by small pieces of mirrored glass or the overall finish on the outside of the ornament.  At night is when this tree looks most magical!

This red bow compliments the green and gold in the tree, but also hides the extension cord plug that sits on the table behind the pottery piece that holds the little tree.

We love this tree so much that we've decided to get another one to decorate in our family room.  That will make four decorated trees at Frog Hollow Farm this Christmas!  They just make every room look so special!

I'm linked over at Seasonal Sunday at The Tablescaper.  Please drop by to check out all of the delightful seasonal ideas that are linked to this party!

Ciao, bella!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After

I've decided to sit down and take a short break from cleaning and re-organizing after our delicious Thanksgiving dinner spent with family. 

It was snowing here during the morning - and raining for most of the remainder of the day.
My Aunt Sheila brought us this pretty turkey flower centerpiece - it's so cute and is feeling pretty special right now sitting on our pumpkin pine table in the kitchen with a tray of fresh fruit and a cake plate full of leftover (not for long) homemade cookies.

Okay, back to work, and then a nap!

Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Like all of you, I'm in the midst of preparing for Thanksgiving, but I needed an excuse to sit down for a few minutes, so I thought I'd show you what I've been doing all day.

You need to know that there are two very large closeups of a photo of some cookies that I just can't remove from this post.  I don't know how they got there and hope you'll just ignore them.  And I see that some text is mixed up.  Yikes, I am really sorry but Blogger is just not cooperating with me and I don't have the time to start over.

Preparing some appetizers. 

These are Parmesan Cheese Sticks from the Barefoot Contessa's recipes.  I started cutting the dough up in small squares because I was losing so much cheese when I was twisting the long strips of dough.

These are the ingredients for the Stilton Tart with the Cranberry Chutney.  The tart was easy to make and turned out so delicious looking, but my cat Olive jumped up on the counter while it was cooling and while I was out of the kitchen and began eating it.  I am really bummed about that.

Some temporary storage in our unfinished pantry.

A vintage dishtowel found in Lambertville, NJ last Sunday.

And some photos of the Thanksgiving table, lit up with all of the candles I love to use in the dining room.  No food yet though!  I'm taking photos today because I know I'll forget as soon as I have my first glass of wine tomorrow. 

I'm using some vintage dishes that I picked up in Vermont a few years ago.

Here's another close up of the vintage china.  I'm using an orange pottery charger from Positano, Italy as a contrasting color, picking up the orange of the flowers on the plate. I also have green pottery chargers, also from Positano Italy, that are used alternately on the table.  The large white plates were in the clearance aisle in TJ Maxx. 

Our green turkey from William Sonoma - he'll be filled with homemade cranberry sauce!

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Thank you all for stopping by and taking a look - I know how busy you all are today! 

I also snuck in late at Tablescape Thursday - there are so many, many wonderful table setting ideas - and I was number 100!

Ciao, bella!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Frog Hollow Farm's Dining Room Makeover

The Frog Hollow Farm dining room and living room have always been challenging for me to furnish and decorate in so many ways. 

First of all there ar 5 doors/doorways in the room - the original double Dutch door which now leads to the outside front wine garden, another Dutch door leading to the family room, the doorway to the kitchen, the door to the conservatory and the door to the basement.  With all of these doors, pathways need to remain open in order to be able to move around without banging into things.  Also, we have a large walk-in fireplace with an old Vermont castings stove that throws off a lot of delightful but strong heat - so furniture can't be too close to that area in the fall, winter and early spring - the times when we are most likely burning wood in the woodstove. 

This large room is really the original stone farmhouse - so it is truly the centerpiece of our home.

Over the years I must have moved furniture over 100 times, really, over 100 times.  I was driven.  Ask any of our friends, it was always something that they would comment on because every time they came over something was different - and it became sort of a joke with our friends - in a good way :) !

 One time FHFB was away on business for a few days and arrived home late at night.  The furniture had all been changed and he almost walked right into the couch and end table.  Yikes! 

Over the years, with each of my attempts to work with the room, I was content for awhile, but always felt that something was missing - we really never bought too much new furniture - so I worked with interesting pieces found at garage sales and antiques shows and stores. 

I was going for a more primitive setting because of the walk-in fireplace. 

But recently I felt that the room needed a major renovation with a new color scheme and more elegance! 

Today I'll share our dining room makeover, and next time I'll put up more dining room close-ups as well as some photos of the living room.


We started by covering the two corner dining room walls with sheetrock so we could use wallpaper to delineate one space from another. This is what it looked like in the midst of that process:

Here's a photo taken of the dining room in February 2010, set up for a dinner party with our friends Liz and Steve. You can see how harsh everything looked, and it was exactly that harshness seen in these photos and many others that made me want to redo the room and bring in some softness. The interesting thing was that the room never looked stark - everyone always commented on how cozy the room was. 

Our son's unframed painting is hanging on the back wall.

FHFB and I have been working on this room since mid August - deciding on colors, fabrics, design and determined to have it all done for the holidays.  We were so very lucky to work with two talented ladies from Design Works, a local design company.  Susan and Pam have become fast friends, and we just loved working with them as they helped organize the project. 

Here's a photo of the renovated dining room corner from the living room:

Really, it's the same room!  The old glass paned door to the conservatory in on the right.

I don't have photos of the process of putting this all together. FHFB did all of the wallpapering - he does a fantastic job - and he's very patient!

The framed painting of the front of the Frog Hollow Farm House on the wall was seen in the earlier photo and was painted by our son Frank while he was in college.  I had it framed locally and think the colors work well with the new room colors.

 Susan and Pam worked with most of the furniture and rugs that we already had - so we were able to work within a more manageable budget.  The rug under the dining room table was in one of our bedrooms - we just traded rugs.  And the hutch hanging on the wall was the top part of a step back cupboard we purchased in Burlington Vermont several years ago.  Susan and Pam suggested that we use the bottom portion of the hutch as a sideboard and hang the top part on the wall.  I've filled the space underneath with an old bench and a set-up of after dinner drinks and liqueurs - I'll include closeups in my next post. 

We chose 'Straw' wallpaper from Thibault and paint from Benjamin Moore in 'Straw' and 'Filtered Sunlight' for the walls and 'Vanilla Cream' for the trim. 

Here are some other views of the dining room:

The chandelier is electric with five holders to include real candles. I wasn't sure about adding electricity and will still use candles for entertaining.  The electricity comes in handy when I'm working on a project and need a large workspace - the dining room table is a great place to work.  We have always eaten by candlelight in the dining room using two antique forged iron chandleliers found on a vacation to Cape Cod, as well as many table candles.  You can see the forged pieces hanging over the table in one of the earlier photos of the table set for dinner with our friends.  These two iron chandeliers are favorites of FHFB and we're planning on relocating them over a farm sink in the new pantry area right off the kitchen, a more primitive and functional space.  But that's a whole other post!

You can see the top part of the hutch hanging on the wall - filled with my mom's Wedgewood china and Waterford Crystal.  I'll take more close-up photos on my next post. 

This post is longer than I planned but there really is a lot going on in the room.  Thank you for stopping by and please check in next time for some close-ups of the dining room fabrics, wallpaper, etc.

I'm linked in to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.  Please stop by to see all of the very interesting posts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Decisions! Decisions!

Last night I had dinner with two wonderful friends, both teachers from Tewksbury and both very special in their own rights.  Carol and Becky, that was a delicious bottle of wine, wasn't it?  :)  Here's to many more!

I've been looking through all of my cookbooks and my back issues of the Thanksgiving themed Bon AppetitMartha Stewart Living and Gourmet magazines to find appetizers for our holiday parties.  My most favorite issue is a 1979 copy of Bon Appetit - the subscription was a gift from my mom and the recipes were used for the very first Thanksgiving dinner that FHFB and I hosted in our first home in Rockway Township, lovingly called "Little House on the Highway".  We still make the cornbread stuffing and Italian Roasted Turkey recipes from this issue!

You can see that it's definitely been used!  The cover is detached and the edges are frayed.

More magazines saved from prior Thanksgivings...

My collection of Thanksgiving recipes and decorating ideas also includes several little pamphlets from Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma. 

So far I've come up with my first draft of appetizer recipes for Thanksgiving.  I know, why am I serving so many appetizers in addition to the traditional turkey dinner?  Well, my family has a tradition, at every gathering, to sit and chat for a 2-3 hours before the meal while eating delicious appetizers and drinking whatever special cocktail we have prepared for the day.  For Thanksgiving we're thinking of serving a light but delicious white sangria, with slices of apples and pears.

Can I call this list of appetizers a transformation of sorts, from an empty piece of paper to a list of 9 appetizers, most of them making it to the final cut?
Here's what we have so far:
Alton's Salty Sweet Pecans
Cheese Straws
Parmesan and Thyme Crackers
Cheese Tray with Many Varieties of Olives
Veggie Tray

Crostini with Sun Dried Tomato Jam
Olive-Garlic Soft Cheese Spread served with Whole Grain Baguette
Prosciutto Cups With White Beans
Stilton Toast and Cranberry Chutney

I haven't linked to each of the recipes because many of them are from a fantastic link I found on called Cocktail Party Menus - it's just full of delicious cocktail party menus with all of the recipes linked in as well - a very easy site to work your way through.
I'm linked in to Transformation Thursday with Gina at Shabby Chic Cottage- stop by to see all of the ideas and links!

(from Google Images)

Ciao, bella!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Pictures Today

Hi everyone!  I'm so happy to be back on my blog - the last few weeks had been invaded by hours of studying and meeting with a study group in preparation for an exam.   With a passing grade, this exam provides credentials documenting expertise in special education assessment, along with many other benefits.  I'm glad that I prepared for the exam and have it completed, but am also extremely happy and relieved that it's off my radar - I much prefer decorating, cooking, shopping, entertaining, reading, enjoying the seasonal changes, planning parties and dinners and relaxing to studying these days. 

My list of things to do this week include:
  •  create menus for the remainder of the week - I'm trying out the South Beach diet and have been pretty happy with the results so far
  • order a turkey from Ashley Farms here in Northwest New Jersey
  • plan Thanksgiving menu and recipes - we're providing the appetizers, turkey, stuffing, gravy here at Frog Hollow Farm - my sisters are bringing the side dishes and desserts - how lucky am I?
  • plan menu for the Frog Hollow Farm Christmas party
  • design a menu for Christmas Eve - celebrated for so many years with our long time dear friends the MacPeeks (hope you can make it Liz!)
  • create a menu for Christmas morning breakfast
  • figure out which take-along dish we're bringing to Christmas dinner in New Brunswick - FHFB's brother and wife always host this very festive and wonderful day
I'd rather organize and plan for dinner parties and create a cozy and comfortable home than study any day!

On Friday some new furniture will be arriving here at the Frog Hollow Farmhouse so I'll be able to show you the results of our dining room and living room makeover that we've been working on since the end of the summer - just in time for the holidays. 

Ciao, bella!