The grass is green. It's good to be The Cow Queen.

date Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It just might be sinking in. The Queen and Prince Charming often wonder if the lessons that they teach the prince and princess are getting through to their busy little minds and hearts. Evidence reared its head on Saturday.

The Queen took the prince and princess to a local church for their Easter Egg hunt. It is the church in which Prince Charming grew up and his father still attends. The royal family attends another church in the area. We arrived to find approximately 20 children excited to hunt for colorful eggs filled with yummy treats.

The leader gave the signal and all 17 dozen eggs were found in a matter of minutes. The prince gave his basket to The Queen for inspection. Since he is allergic to certain tree nuts, he must have his confections checked for possibility of contamination. In addition to the prize egg ($5 and jelly bean center), he had many eggs with questionable chocolates. After The Queen confiscated the chocolates, the prince started to pout. He was convinced to try the cake and juice. After getting his plate, he came back to his basket and took the jelly beans. "I'm giving these to Granddaddy," he said.

Prince Charming picked him up from the church on his way to do a farm errand. The pouting continued. When we got home, the pouting continued. He was upset that he couldn't have the candy and only knew one child at the event. I asked, "Prince, why did you give your jelly beans to Granddaddy?" His reply almost made The Queen cry. He said, "Because he didn't find a single egg."

He gets it. He really gets it. And that is the Easter message ... selfless love!

The grass is green. It's good to be The Cow Queen.

date Monday, March 29, 2010

The Queen has a very special opportunity and would like to invite you to share in the experience. The Old Schoolhouse (TOS) magazine is selecting reviewer bloggers for the TOS Homeschool Crew. As part of the selection process, I was given 2 download products to review and blog about. I begin with my first blog today and hope you will give me your feedback. That way, I can continue to improve my reviews and get you the information you need to make informed decisions about products to use in your educational journey.

As a relatively new homeschooler, the Queen opted for a boxed curriculum and has not used unit studies as a stand-alone week of learning. The Queen couldn’t see how it would fit into our regular schedule and really never looked into getting one. One particular Monday, the Queen and the prince were having a hard time getting into the groove of the homeschool day. Exasperated, the Queen sent the prince to his bed until he was “ready” for school. In a moment of clarity, the Queen decided to ditch the plan of the day and go to Australia. It is roughly half-way around the world, but we went and stayed for a week. We were pleasantly surprised at what we learned.

Title: Expedition Australia
Author/Publisher: Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
Target Audience: K-4th grade
Format: Download from The Old Schoolhouse Store (phone 1-888-718-HOME)
Price: $7.95, with a money-back guarantee

In this 5-day unit, we studied:
     Where on Earth is Australia?
     Some of the Special Places in Australia
     A Bit of Australian History
     Cool Things to Know About Australia
     Fun and Games in Australia

Each daily lesson included:
     Video links related to the daily lessons
     Geography – definitions, mapping, continents, oceans
     Vocabulary – Australian words and their American equivalents, other words related to   the lesson
     Science – animals, habitats, food, astrology (on day 4)
     Math –Animal size, counting, time, temperature, distance, currency
     Art – drawing and coloring
     Poetry – each daily section starts with a poem about Australia and there is one poem to complete on Day 3
    (Day 5) Music – national anthems

As part of the unit materials, there was a reading list and links to other resources. We were actually able to find some of the suggested books at our library (shocker!) and found them delightful. There were also fun family ideas to further the learning experience. At the end of the unit, the student had a notebook and a lapbook about Australia, and received a completion certificate.

The Queen’s Overall Assessment:
We really enjoyed this unit study. It was a great break from our “everyday” and gave us a chance to explore a different country and a different learning method. Our current boxed curriculum is more of a desk-work type program. To move our “classroom” to the computer was quite an experience. For a 6-year-old little boy, that provided for a lot of opportunity to rattle the Queen’s nerves. The Queen learned not to let the prince have the swivel chair and to disable all drawers. (Top this off with a slower-than-normal computer, and the Queen was shaken.) The video links that started each unit were enticing enough to get the prince to begin his schoolwork. This was his favorite part!

The unit is directed towards grade levels K-4. This could be altered depending on the student. There seemed to be a lot of writing for a first grader and some of the writing was in small spaces. At times, the Queen did the writing. For example, we used the vocabulary lessons as a time for the prince to practice alphabetizing by looking up the word in the dictionary. The Queen would read the definition and write it in the appropriate place. As we read about the animals, we would stick to the facts asked in the notebook pages unless they spurred more interest. More research on the animals and places in Australia could be easily added for an older student.

This unit study is well worth the price of $7.95. The Queen is already looking forward to the Expedition Ireland due out this month. She is planning to take a virtual trip to Ireland when the royal grandparents make the real journey.

G’day Mates.

Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment without divulging too much information of a copyrighted product. In order to review the product I received a free download version with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or reviewed by anyone prior to publishing.

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday. To see things that work for others, check out the list at We Are That Family.

date Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is the best kept secret in the kingdom ... you have to promise not to tell. It will just be between you and me. Are you ready?

This recipe is a favorite of the palace. The prince requested it as his birthday supper for his 5th and 6th birthdays. The Queen has no doubt that he will request it for his 7th birthday.

The Cast of Characters:

non-stick spray, grass-fed ground beef (because that is what the royal family raises and sells), ketchup, onion, parsley, brown sugar, salt, pepper, egg whites, and quick-cooking oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and let's get started.

Spray the rack of a broiler pan with non-stick spray and set aside. The Queen likes to line the pan to make clean-up easier. Sometimes, the Queen will use a metal loaf pan instead.

Mix together 1/2 cup ketchup, onion, parsley, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and egg whites.

Mix in the ground beef and oats.

Use your hands to get the ingredients well incorporated. Just think of all that love that is getting mixed in. The Queen recommends that you remove all royal jewels lest you find meatloaf in your rings in a few days. ewwww! (The prince took this picture. We may have a budding photographer on our hands!)

When it looks like this, you are ready to shape the loaf. (another photo by princely photography)

Place it on the broiler rack and top with remaining ketchup.

Bake for approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes. If you want to be precise, go for an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for approximately 10 minutes ... if you can stand it! (This is probably not the prettiest loaf the Queen has ever made, but it won't be sticking around long.)

O.K. I couldn't stand it. I only waited 7 minutes. That is probably why it didn't slice well, but it sure did taste good.

Here's the handy recipe.

Grass-fed Beef Meat Loaf
3/4 cup ketchup, divided
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 large egg whites
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, onion, parsley, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and egg whites in a large bowl. Stir well. Add meat and oats. Mix with your hands until well mixed. Shape the mixture into an 8 x 4-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with non-stick spray. Spread remaining 1/4 cup ketchup over meatloaf. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

I'm loving this recipe so much that I'm sharing it with others at Tidy Mom's website too. Jump over there to see what others love.

date Friday, March 19, 2010

Back in April of 2009, the Queen was getting a little excited about the impending opening of the royal U-Pick Strawberry patch on the kingdom farm. Not only was it a new venture for the royal family, it was also going to mean more of the luscious fruit for the royal table! The Monday thru Saturday hours for the patch were set at 7 am. until 7 p.m. or until all the berries were gone each day. This meant the Queen would not be able to oversee her normal royal duties. She would need to simplify some of the tasks.

The royal laundry seemed to be the most ominous task that would get out of hand. The Queen invisioned the prince and princess clad in their pajamas (or less) greeting customers. This would not do!

So, the Queen found an empty, boring corner in the master bathroom and corralled all the royal laundry hampers. The mix of different hampers, while not the prettiest site, helped with the next step of the plan. The prince and princess (then ages 5 and 3) were taught to sort their laundry into appopriate load categories. It was just like matching and sorting their playthings ... jeans, whites, and other. When the Queen saw that a hamper was full, she would put them in to wash as she left the house each morning and into the dryer as time allowed. Folding was done at night after the prince and princess were in bed.

This plan worked wonders until about half-way through the strawberry season. The washing machine motor died. Three repair technicians, two weeks, and several mud puddles later, the Queen was back in business.

We continue to use this system. The prince and princess continue to use the hampers (fairly regularly). As the prince said this week, "Mama, Daddy needs to learn how to sort laundry. He put colored undies in with the white socks." It's a process.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check the list at We Are That Family.

date Wednesday, March 17, 2010

National Ag Week -- it is not a holiday declared by the Queen. It is a real-life program to recognize the importance and abundance of agriculture. National Ag Week runs from March 14-20, culminating in National Ag Day. Check for local events in which you can participate -- or just thank a farmer.

Ninety-eight percent of American farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations.  Only 20 cents of every dollar spent on food go to those hardworking farmers and ranchers. (source: American Farm Bureau)

In addition to the food you eat and the clothes you wear, here are some ways that agriculture touches lives everyday. (source:
"Agriculture is Part of Your Life

Products we use in our everyday lives come from plant and animal byproducts produced by America's farmers and ranchers: - Health care: Pharmaceuticals, surgical sutures, ointments, latex gloves, x-ray film, gelatin for capsules and heart valves.

Construction: Lumber, paints, brushes, tar paper, dry wall and tool handles.

Transportation: Fuel, lubricants, antifreeze, tires and upholstery.

Manufacturing: Adhesives, solvents and detergents. Printing: Paper, ink and film.

Personal Care Products: Shampoo, cosmetics, lotions, finger nail polish and toothpaste. Education: Crayons, textbooks, chalk, desks, pencils and paper.

Sports: Uniforms, baseball bats, leather equipment and shoes."
  Some interesting numbers: (source:
"The Food We Eat

In 1996, each American consumed an average of 77 pounds more of commercially grown vegetables than in 1970, 63 pounds more grain products, 54 pounds more fruits, 32 pounds more poultry, 10 gallons more milk lower in fat than whole milk, 20.5 pounds less red meat, 73 fewer eggs, and 17 gallons less whole milk.

It takes just 40 days for most Americans to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for the entire year. In comparison with the 129 days it takes the average American to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes for the year.

More than 96 billion pounds of edible "surplus" food is thrown away in the U.S. Each year. It is estimated that almost 27% of our food supply is wasted.

Americans are eating about 14 pounds of turkey a piece each year, more than double the rate 20 years ago."
This message has been brought to you by a fourth-generation agriculturist. Proud to be providing food and fiber to America and raising the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

date Monday, March 15, 2010

We interrupt this blog to apologize for the poor layout of several blog posts. The Queen is quite perplexed by the conduct of her blogging device. It looks fine for the Queen, but appears to misbehave in the presence of others.

Rest assured that the Queen is working on this issue and plans to have it resolved soon. Perhaps BloggerNanny can shed some light on the situation.

(Note: To the Queen's knowledge there is no such thing as a "BloggerNanny." But ... there should be!)

date Sunday, March 14, 2010

It is Spring in the kingdom!

I know … you think the Queen has flipped her wig and doesn’t know that Spring doesn’t start until March 20th. Well, the Queen doesn’t always go by the calendar. She goes by the "signs".
Now, you really think the Queen has flipped her wig! Perhaps she has, but the signs aren't that hard to read.

When Spring begins in the kingdom, the scenery goes from this

to this

(Don't crank the royal lawnmower yet. There is still the chance of Spring snow.)

The royal subjects begin to look like this

(Although Spring is not their only time for appearance. Rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night can not keep them from their appointed arrival ... and usually doesn't!)

The princess’ slippers look like this

(You probably know what's coming next.)

And the royal offspring have backsides that look like this
(Yes, it is applied from the outside and was created on the outside.)

Let the Royal Laundry commence!
It is Spring in the Kingdom.

date Friday, March 12, 2010

This week’s Works for Me Wednesday post works for the Queen’s taste buds, but not the waistline. The Queen loves homemade bread. She loves to smell it cooking. She loves to put soft butter on it and devour it. Often the Queen doesn’t have time to spend all morning making that bread with all the kneading and rising going on. Then, she found Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

Now, the title is a little bit of a misnomer. The way it works is that you spend about 15 minutes mixing a batch of bread. You let it rise and store it in the refrigerator for a week or two. When you are ready for a loaf of bread, you take a portion of that dough, cloak it, let it rise, and bake it. The five minutes is the active time of working with it after the dough is mixed. It is super simple and super yummy. If the loaf of bread ever makes it from the oven all the way to the table without being “tested,” the Queen is surprised.

Spend the time to read the first 25 pages of the book to learn information that is critical to the recipes working. The book gives a basic dough recipe, some specialty loaves, and some variations of each.

date Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As a young girl, Queen Beverly memorized a poem while waiting for the school bus. With so many cobwebs in the memory vault, she doesn’t recall the author, but remembers the poem going something like this:

Shall we have a cup of tea
and a currant bun?
Shall we sit beside the sea
after work is done?
Shall we walk together
in the twilight gray?
Shall we be the best of friends?
Shall we start today?

That poem comes back all these years later when Queen Beverly sees the prince and princess doing things like this …
and this …

Of course as children of royalty, they spend every hour of every day together in the royal palace and around the kingdom. At home with the Queen, they have plenty of time to form the strong bonds that will make them the best of friends …

Or not!

date Monday, March 8, 2010

Everyone deserves to feel like a queen once in a while. So, I'm going to share this easy roast recipe that will get supper on the table and allow time for pampering yourself.

This has got to be the easiest way to make roast beef. It is a complete meal, requires no thawing, and 5 ingredients (O.K. ... Six if you count water, but I don't because I always have that on hand!)

Here is our cast of characters:

A frozen beef roast. I'm using 100% grass-fed beef because that is what we raise and sell. This happens to be a chuck roast, but any cut will do.

Veggies ... I'm using potato, carrots, and onions. Use the quantity to fit your family.

Seasoning ... anything you like. This one is a blend of garlic, season salt and pepper.

This is going to be fast, so try to keep up!

Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray. Put the roast in the crockpot ... frozen. I started doing this when I decided that my crockpot was cooking things too fast. By the end of the cooking time with a thawed roast, it was overdone, leaving a ring in the crockpot, and stinking up the house.
Sprinkle on some seasoning. Don't be too heavy-handed, you can always add more salt and pepper later.

I just chop the veggies into chunks. The potatoes get cut into halves and then each half gets cut into thirds depending on the size of the potato. 

The onions get cut in half. Then placed on the fresh-cut side, they are cut in half the long way and then into chunks.

That's right, baby carrots. Already peeled and "chopped." They are perfect for the queen in all of us.

Put the veggies on top of the roast and season again.

Pour about 1 cup of water on top of it all and set your timer to cook all day (8-10 hours). edited to indicate that it should be 8-10 hours on LOW

You will come home to a wonderful dinner ready for your queenly appetite. The veggies will be fork tender and the meat will just fall apart.

I would have a better picture of all this yummy goodness, but the royal taste testers got to it before the camera could!

date Friday, March 5, 2010

Being the Queen can be very demanding some most days. A lot of days it is not all about me. (I know, hard to believe!) Every now and then, I want to do something creative that doesn't include the cows, the prince, the princess, and/or housework.

During one particular week of needing a creative outlet, the prince and I were talking about discovering and using your talents. While he is pretty talented at Legos and construction/gadgety-type things, I lean more toward crafts and sewing. During this same time period, I learned that a new group was forming at our church. The Prayers and Squares Ministry would be making quilts (about crib-size) for people in need of prayer. After each quilt is constructed, knots are tied in the threads by members of our congregation as they say prayers for the person.

I knew that I didn't have the time to make a complete quilt for this project, but I did have time to construct the tops. So what works for me, is to construct the tops of the quilt, and let someone else finish the construction. Maybe even a third person is involved by tacking in the threads. Everyone has a part that they enjoy doing, and everyone gets to participate.

This is what works for me. To see other handy tips check out Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks In My Dryer.

date Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yep, it is true! I am a bona fide, crown- and sash-wearing Cow Queen. Well, I don’t really wear the crown (much) and the sash met its demise a few years ago, but I am still a Cow Queen.

You see, about 20 years ago when my hair was bigger and my hips were smaller, I was crowned the National Jersey Jug Queen. To my friends who are not educated in the ways of the bovine, the Jersey is a breed of dairy cattle. Remember “Elsie”? She is/was a Jersey. They are the cute brown cows with the big eyes.

Every year, the Jersey Jug Futurity Show is held to name a new champion and the owner of the cow takes home a “jug” of money as a prize. A queen presides over the day’s events, and one year it was me. I spent that next year traveling to a few events and representing the Jersey cow. My parents spent that year as royal chauffeurs!

During my official reign as Jersey Queen, I met many interesting people and had a royal time! Oh, my hair got smaller too! (Just so ya know.)

Ten years later, I met my Prince Charming (a former Jersey dairyman). With Wranglers and boots, he swept me off my feet. We were married the next year and now live happily ever after in our own kingdom. We raise a prince and a princess along with grass-fed beef cattle and strawberries.

When I began to put this blog together, Prince Charming is the one who developed the name for it. I guess he just can’t get over being married to royalty!

date Monday, March 1, 2010