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, July 31, 2011

Day 4 - Westport and Connemara

The fourth day on our tour of Ireland began with another way-too-large Irish breakfast at the Mill Park Hotel in Donegal Town.  We drove along the scenic shores of Donegal Bay - so gorgeous...

Donegal Bay

...then into the county of Sligo and a quick visit to where W. B. Yeats is buried. 

Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo
Yeats is one of Ireland's most influential poets. 

W.B. Yeats 
A Cradle Song by William Butler Yeats
The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.

God's laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with His mood.

I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you have grown.
Our next few hours brought us through the town of Connemara and the sweeping views of boglands and misty mountains.  All along these desolate roads and mountain passes lie monuments to the Irish people who died during the great Irish Famine.   Here is one of my most favorite photos.
Monument along the Famine Road.
We ended our day in Galway, at the Radisson Blu Hotel which was a little outside of the city.  To tell you the truth, I didn't have a great impression of Galway - we ate dinner at a large pub called the Au Pucan (not so great) in the middle of many other pubs and the streets were full, I mean full, of 21 year old kids drinking and partying. 
 I would need to return to Galway during the day to spend some time and really be able to learn more about it.
Our next day brought us to the fascinating Aran Islands.
More to come...
I'm linked over to Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper!!
Ciao, bella!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 3 - Donegal Town

Donegal, with it's windswept hills where only sheep can thrive, is renowned for it's wool production.  After our day at Lough Derg, we drove to Donegal and had dinner in the Mill Park Hotel before heading into town to listen to some authenic Irish music and of course, drink more Guinness. 

Musicians at the little pub in Donegal Town. 

The young girl in the middle sang a ballad acappella and it was just breathtaking.  These musicians seemed like they were the main group at the pub, but different musicians came in through the night, played a few songs and then left for a different musician to join the group.  They would then go to another pub to play with a different group.  It was fabulous and if anything, this is what I would go back to Ireland for, to listen to more of these musicians play their traditional music. 

Killybegs Harbor

During our visit we stopped at the little town of Killybegs (love that name, don't you?) and then on to Teelin to view the Slieve League sea cliffs - just breathtaking.  The highest point reaches 1,972 feet, making them the highest in Europe.  The cliffs drop straight down to the wild Atlantic waves below and we saw such gorgeous views from our vantage point, which wasn't even the top! (More about that later.) 

We continued driving through the Glengesh Pass to the town of Ardara and visited a little woolen shop called Triona Design. 

 This is a family run whop where we saw some demonstrations of weaving their famous Donegal tweeds  - and they also served us Irish coffee (maybe so we'd get a little tipsy and buy more woolens, who knows, but I just couldn't drink an Irish coffee in the middle of the day and stay awake). 

I purchased a couple of beautiful woolen scarves at this store and I'm saving them for Christmas gifts. 

The star of our visit to Donegal however were the cliffs at Slieve League that I mentioned earlier in my post.
All I can do is show you - it's just so spectacular!

See that little beach tucked into the corner?

Here's a better picture of the beach at the bottom of the cliffs.  There are sheep that graze all over these hills - they don't need any water provided to them as the water that they get from eating the grasses is enough. 

This group seemed to be penned up for the day, but all the other sheep we saw were free to roam the cliffs freely.

More Slieve League...

Donegal County Photos

Sheep on the road!  Can you see the blue marks on their sides?  These are placed to help the farmers identify them. 

Thanks for joining me on Day 3 of my trip to Ireland. 
Day 4 will include visits to Connemara and Westport as we head towards Galway City.

Ciao, bella!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Two - Ireland

Our second day in Ireland found us waking up in the beautiful Kilronan Castle Hotel.  Breakfast was an abundant Irish breakfast buffet - with delicious hot coffee and tea.  The service was impeccable!

Our tour director was an unbelievably charming man named Tommy O'Toole - yes, that is is real name.  He lives in County Tipperary with  his wife and has been a tour director with CIE Tours since the early 1980's. 

Tommy has a master's degree in Irish history and was so informative and interesting throughout our drives through this beautiful country that he loves so well. 

Now, I have to admit that the main site that we visited on our second day was kind of a wash-out, in two ways.  First of all it was raining, and we were taking a ferry boat ride over to St. Patrick's Purgatory in Lough Derg.  Pilgrims have been travelling to this sacred site for centuries on spiritual quests or a journeys seeking something deeper; getting closer to their authentic selves, continuing a ritualistic tradition of their ancestors. 

While Lough Derg has been renowned as a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years, and is more commonly associated with penance and purgatory, pilgrims are more conscious these days of the spiritual atmosphere of the Island. In today's noisy and hectic world, people appreciate a haven of peace.

This was not something that really interested FHFB or me, but we were willing to remain open to the experience.  Spirituality is something that's very personal to me, and although I certainly respect the personal practices of many others, public demonstrations of penance or meditation are just not something I'm interested in or comfortable with. 

The tradition of the historical three-day pilgrimage has been preserved but additional services have been offered in recent years. The introduction of these new services - One Day Retreats, Youth Retreats and Special Group Retreats - allow people the opportunity to experience this sacred place when age or disability might otherwise prevent them from participating in the traditional pilgrimage.

We weren't able to go onto the island because there was a pilgrimage in process. 
The picture above is one of the very small islands in the lake. 

After our tour of the lake and a cup of tea and delicious warm scones at the visitors center with a video that I could have definitely skipped ;) - we were on our way to Donegal Town, where we checked into the Mill Park Hotel for two nights.

More about that in my next post!

Ciao, bella!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

'O' is for an Outstanding Start to our Ireland Trip

Our recent tour of Ireland was designed by two women very familiar with Ireland and all it has to offer, Bridget and Maggie. These women have traveled to Ireland many times with their families, so this trip was intended to include all of the beautiful, out of the way, non-touristy parts of the country. The itinerary was phenomenal, developed with help from CIE Tours International located in Morristown, NJ,and included some of the places that FHFB and I definitely wanted to visit.


Our first day in Ireland brought us to the village of Ballbriggan for a full Irish breakfast at an original Dublin pub called the "Man o'War Public House'. 'Ball' or 'Bally' means 'town' in Gaelic. This pub has been recorded in deeds dating back to 1595 - it was just adorable.

The fireplace right across from our breakfast table at the Man O' War Public House.

In Gaelic, Man O' War means 'In the Middle of the Road'.

This is a traditional Irish breakfast, and I ate way too many of them.  
My thighs are still complaining!  LOL - back to the gym!

Irish bacon
Broiled Tomatoes
Hard Boiled Egg
Cucumbers are not normally included

After having a delicious meal and getting to know some of the people in our travel group, we headed to the bus to make the drive to Ballyfarnon to the Kilronan Castle Hotel for our first night's stay.  This hotel has a wonderful spa where my cousin Sinead works as an esthetician - and she was able to get me in for a massage - it was wonderful!

On our way out we stopped at this ancient grotto at the gates to the castle's entrance. 
The Kilronan Castle Hotel is about 10 away from where my mom grew up in
Kilmactranny, County Sligo.

My next post will be about our trek up to Donegal, days 2 and 3 of the tour. 
I hope you enjoyed reading about our 'Outstanding' beginning to our trip!

Ciao, bella!

I'm linking over to Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finding My Roots and Weekly Menu

This summer has certainly been a busy traveling season for us, with our last trip being a visit with family and friends to Ireland.  My mother Lilly was born in a small farmhouse in the tiny village of Knockmore, Ireland.   The first part of our vacation was dedicated to visiting with first cousins and exploring the farm and school where my mom grew up. 

Knockmore is a tiny portion of the Kilmactranny village in County Sligo, right on the border of County Roscommon and about 7 miles from the city of Boyle. 

FHFB and I met my cousin Gerald in the townsquare of Boyle - I didn't see him at first but he recognized me (probably because we stuck out like major tourists while we took pictures of the town!). 

After that, we drove a few miles to his home that he shares with his wife Tish and their two daughters, Sinead and Rebecca. They made us feel so very welcome, with a delicious Irish lunch
(which FHFB ate, even though we had just had lunch!)
  They live in a lovely home with horses and brand new black
and white kittens.

As an added wonderful surprise my cousin Angela and her daugher Sarah were also visiting for the weekend  - she reminds me so very much of my Aunt Nancy. 

When I told her this she laughed and said that I reminded her of our Aunt Nancy! 

Here's the Irish side of the family - without the Sicilian prince :)  FHFB - he took the photo. 

Our trip out to my mother's farmhouse was full of very mixed feelings.  Actually, I think I learned more about her throughout my travels through Ireland than I did from the visiting her home.  That may sound funny but what I realized throughout our trip is that I was hearing my mother's voice and expressions while listening to the Irish people speak, and I came to understand a little more of where she came from and why she approached the world in the way that she did.  Mom didn't talk about growing up in Ireland too much, I think it was a pretty hard life. 

This is the driveway that leads up to the farmhouse.  During the years that my mom was growing up, this cottage was covered with a thatched roof and did not have running water or electricity.
A small kitchen has been added to the back of the house.

This is the wonderful stone barn that stands to the left of the house.

Next to the barn is a lower attached building that was used to house the pigs and the piglets. 

The back building was used as a stall area for horses and cows. 

Can you see that beautiful view in the top left corner of the photo from the back of the larger barn?

This is just a small snapshot of our trip to Ireland, I will be sure to post more photos and let you all learn about and see the wonderful sights in this small island across the Atlantic. 

Something new that I discovered when I returned home is the new Blogger format.  I'm not sure if I like it better and I'm pretty confused about how to use it.  I needed to revert back to the original dashboard in order to edit this post and publish it - it seems that many people have received an error message like mine: bX-g04pxr and the recommendations in the Blogger chat room is to log in with the old dashboard.  Yikes, I'm not even sure what that means but I logged out and logged back in and there I was! 

I'm happy to be at home for the next month and will be busy cutting flowers from our gardens and entertaining on our back porch. 

Here's our menu for the next few days, using lots of vegetables from our garden of course.  If you want any of the recipes let me know and I'll send you the link.  It's a little hard to read due to the small size of the print but I'm not sure how to fix that - I just scanned this document so that I could include it in the post - is there a way to increase the size of the menu so that it's easier to read??

I'm linking in to Seasonal Sundays, On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable
and Menu Plan Monday! at I'm An Organizing Junkie!