Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Recap: Texas loves Crystal Cattle

From all around the world.

I almost squealed with excitement when I was looking at my Google Analytics today. Readers from 131 different countries read my blog this year. Thank you! It just goes to show that spreading agriculture's story isn't something that just happens in our communities. People all over the world rely on agriculture, and what to hear your stories. I think a lot of people like turquoise too!

However, there is one group of people that really like my blog - the Texans. The three most popular cities that my readers live in: Ballinger, Lubbock and College. Yeah that's right I have all kinds of Big Brother info on you guys ;). After Texas it is Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Now go tell your east coast and west coast friends about this gal that blogs about food and agriculture.

Google Analytic map for Crystal Cattle. The darker the green the more visitors came from there. 
Back to Texas. In honor on all the Texans that read my blog I put together a few Texas things together. 

Texas Burlap Pillow from the localhoneyshop on Etsy.

It is Texas and turquoise! Maybe the Boy and I need an Iowa and Alberta one. 

Cute Texas charm. This store has all the states, no one needs to feel left out. 

And I love this statement from the You Know You're a Texas When blog. 

Thanks to everyone for reading this year. Now onto an amazing 2012. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Recap: The Best of Pinterest

A virtual pin board

Today we aren't doing an official Turquoise Thursday, but no fear this recap still includes that wonderful color. I joined Pinterest the beginning of 2011 and was hooked immediately, and although I have shared with you many of my finds, a lot of the good stuff never makes it onto my blog. Therefore keeping with this week's themes of recaps I am sharing some of my most repinned Pinterest photos. p.s. If you aren't on Pinterest yet, and would like to be you can find my email under my About Me page and I'll email you an invite.

This is a pin of a picture from one of my favorite artists It is part of my Crystal's Wish List Board.

My Cowhide board is one of my favorites. This McQueen cowhide bag is gorgeous.

I have featured these turquoise earrings on my blog before and they were definitely a favorite on my Turquoise Pinterest board. 

And how about these turquoise suede high heels. Wooza. 

I've got all kinds of wonderful ideas pinned on my Dream Home board. I dream of a home like this. Rock, open beams, wood, windows, love. 

My favorite part of Pinterest is all the recipes. I lived off this recipe this summer. The dressing is amazing. Make a whole bunch because you'll be using it on more than just this salad. 

Don't forget to check out my 2011 Recap of the Most Popular Crystal Cattle Blog posts.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Recap: Top Blog Posts of the Year

And the winners are...

It is that time of year. To recap some of the blog posts that you and my readers enjoyed the most. This next week I want to share a few different Top 2011 posts, so be sure to keep coming back. There is a lot inshore.

Now first of all the top three places that you visited on my blog were my About Me page, who knew you were so curious about me, and my Turquoise Thursday page, everyone loves Turquoise, and my How to Blog Guide. (You can learn how to add pages to your blog in this post.)

Onto the Top 10.

10. Feed sack bags - read here 

This post got lots of comments too. I am going to have to put one of these on my own Wish List! The House that Ag Built even provided a feed sack bag tutorial so you can make your own. 

9. Cotton Wedding - read here

Why not include a little piece of agriculture into your wedding. I really love these uses for cotton in a wedding.

8. Crystal Cattle Wedding: Engagement Photos - read here 

I am absolutely in love with our engagement photos. I highly recommend La Brisa Photography for all the special moments that you want to capture. Chris is based in Texas, but travels all over. Hands down one of my favorite photographers and I can't wait for him to capture our big day.

7. Lady Gaga Moves to Nebraska? - read here 

Could it be true. You'll have to read to find out, but I love the awareness this pop star has brought to agriculture. I still love Lady Gaga's video about farming.

6. The Blonde City Girl - read here

You'll definitely get a laugh out of this one.

5. Watching Corn Grow - read here

I loved learning about corn in Iowa this summer, and blogging about the crops progress. I can't wait to go around from start to finish this year. Planting will start in April, stay tuned!

4. Two Bar West Purses - read here 

This post was wrote in 2009 and is still going strong. Last year it was my number one post, now it has dropped down in two fourth spot.

3. Turquoise Wedding Invites - read here

I think I surprised many of you when I told you that turquoise wasn't going to be one of my wedding colors, however these engagement party invites that two of my cousins designed were awesome. I love the turquoise and burlap combination. The wedding details are really starting to come together. I'll be sharing more with you soon.

2. Turquoise Thursday Junk Gypsy Style - read here

Who doesn't love those Junk Gypsy girls. I can't wait until there new show airs in 2012. I was so excited when I finally bought this turquoise necklace for myself. Definitely a statement piece.

1. Looking pretty in agriculture - read here

I loved getting together with two of my best girl friends for this photo shoot. I also loved all the comments that I got from you guys on this post. Remember just because we like dresses, jewelry, high heels and boots, doesn't mean that we don't know a thing or two about agriculture.

Friday, December 23, 2011

DASH Diet beef in a heart healthy diet

I heart lean beef

New Year's is right around the corner and that means that millions of people are going to be setting New Year's resolutions based on their health. I will be too. I haven't quite narrowed it done yet, but with a wedding in under four months it is pretty good motivation. That wedding dress might hide a lot, but the swim suits I want to wear in Hawaii won't!

I've always enjoyed SHAPE magazine, and the article I read today makes me want to sing their praises. There is something called the DASH diet - a diet that helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the past they told you to stay away from red meat, however with people realizing the benefits of the 29 lean cuts of beef, nutritionists are encouraging people to include lean meat in their diets.

The article really spells it out, and I encourage you to read the full article The Newest Science on Heart-Healthy Diets here.

Happy lean beef eating! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Turquoise Party Dresses

It's a festive season 

Christmas and New's Years Eve are around the corner, so why not choose turquoise for your festive color of choice.

Turquoise (or maybe mint) maxi dress. I love dresses like this, they are always so comfortable. 

Blake Lively rocking the turquoise. I may have a girl crush on her. 

You would need a ballroom for their turquoise and black ball gown, but isn't it pretty. Can big kids go back to prom?

Maybe shorter is your style. Here is a sweetheart turquoise dress

Are you headed out to any parties this holiday season? What will you be wearing?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beef Bandages and other meat gifts

I love meat

Need some last minute gift ideas for the meat lover in your life? I know I am scurrying around getting those last minute items and waiting for the UPS man to make lots more deliveries at my house. I am pretty sure the UPS man is wondering what is up at the Boy's house. There has been more deliveries there in the past two weeks than in the years he has lived there previously.

Instead of throwing that frozen steak on your black eye, why not just bandage it up with a T-Bone Steak Bandage

Or why not profess your love of meat with a Meatetarian shirt

And finally there is the ever popular Bacon Ornament. Perfect for any Christmas Tree. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guest Post: Christmas with Lindsay & a baby boy

Give you a round of applause.

Lindsay has been a long time blog reader. I've been poking and prodding her to start her own blog with not so much success. I have successfully twisted her arm though to do a guest post. See she and I have a lot in common, but there is one difference - Lindsay has a beautiful baby boy and is much more on the up and up with stylish kid stuff. So here she goes. 

Today I’m tackling some firsts. My first blog post and my baby’s first Christmas. It’s safe to say my anxiety is equal for both milestones.  At the encouragement of the blog owner, here it goes:

So, I have this precious, sweet, little baby angel that goes by Abbott (See Exhibit A). 

Exhibit A

As you can tell, it’s Abbott’s first Christmas.  I have been faced with the reality of the situation that:
1. I have a kid, and it’s his first Christmas.
2. Let's face it… he’s just 6 months and doesn’t really know what is going on. I have actually entertained the idea of giving him the same things for the next three years and just taking a picture with a different thing each year.

So, here I am, at the crossroads every parent comes to during the holiday season; to keep it real or go totally overboard?  These were my final selections.  I hope they help you with some last minute ideas for the little ones on your list, or if you are super organized, maybe they will help you get a jump on things for next year.

1.     The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case

I haven’t used this thing yet, but I am already convinced the inventor is brilliant.  A case that keeps my phone free from drool and making unwanted phone calls...oh and he can use it as a teething toy.  Sign me up!  The best part is that this little technology wonder is only $15.99, and the corresponding Fisher Price apps are free.  I like free.

2.      The Jeep Liberty Renegade Walker

I already gave him this gift.  We are just going to add a bow on Christmas morning for the picture.  Babies grow like nothing you have ever seen, and I need to maximize his usage time.  As you can see, he loves cruising for chicks in his Jeep.  I like that it is gender neutral in color.  He likes that it makes engine noises, and it has a horn that honks.  I LOVE that it was super easy to put together.  A little insider tip:  It’s on sale at Baby Depot for $39.99.  They are sold out online, but our store had plenty in inventory.

3.      Purple Banner Designs Lovie

Purple Banner Designs has it going on! I won this lovie in a giveaway right here on CrystalCattle and ordered another one for my best friend’s little boy the next week. I cannot rave enough about how much we love this thing. It goes with us everywhere, and Bethany, if you are reading this… I wouldn’t be opposed to a Mommy-sized one too. Just thinking out loud for you.  

There it is, my first blog post, on the Internet for the whole wide world to read.  I know my sweet, little guy is going to love his gifts, but more importantly I hope he knows he is the best gift. I’ve loved watching him grow, and all he needs to give me on Christmas is that precious gummy smile that he is rapidly becoming famous for.  Best wishes for a merry Christmas and an incredibly blessed new year!  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Turquoise Thursday - Spike Necklace

Boom Turquoise 

Recently I came across the Charm & Chain Blog. They have all kinds of really unique jewelry, and also have a lot of copycat pieces that are MUCH less than the real thing. Of course this turquoise necklace instantly caught my eye.

Isn't it pretty. Perfect with a black shirt or a white collared shirt. 
This turquoise spike necklace is by Kenneth Jay Lane and retails for $80. 

There is also a red version of the spike necklace
Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Season - Metallic Cowhide


I am off to my first Christmas party of the year with the Boy, and have a little DIY cooking item that I am bring with me. Photos tomorrow.

In the meantime let's say thank you for The Farmer's Trophy Wife for pinning this on Pinterest.

This sparkly little number is from Paris, so I probably won't be adding it to my Christmas list.
However, it does remind me of the sequin shirt I am wearing tonight. 

Maybe I'll just add this metallic cowhide rug to my list. 

You've got to check out they have all kinds of great cowhide rugs. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheese is a vegetable

Food chat from a Boy

The Boy and I have been successfully living together for more than two months now, and we love it. It is always interesting when two people come together to live under one roof and begin to share their life philosophies with each other - like cheese is a vegetable. 

Yes, the Boy believes that cheese is a vegetable and that things like brocolli is in the gross stuff category. You see the Boy isn't a big vegetable fan, although I'll give him credit that his tastes have expanded greatly since we started dating. 

One thing we do agree on is that we love cheese. If you were to look in our fridge right now you would find two bags of Parmesan, Monetary Jack, Italian and Mozzarella. There is also cottage cheese (his not mind), cream cheese, sour cream, sour cream taco dip, yogurt and milk -  yeah we are dairy fans. 

Since we have an abundance of cheese the Boy has declared that we can just subsitiute cheese into our diet as a vegetable. Probably not a great plan, but a great way to support dairy farmers. 

Any food disagreements that your family has?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Turquoise Office

Home Sweet Home

If you follow me on Instagram I gave you a hint of what I was up to a couple weekends a go. Yes, the Boy let me paint my home office Turquoise, and I love it. The office definitely needed some color with its white walls and all my white IKEA office furniture. And p.s. I was pretty proud of my IKEA furniture purchases. Not only was it easily the best place to get the most bang for my buck, but my future MIL and I were able to put all the furniture together ourselves!

A little bit of of elbow grease and this is what you get...

Boom Turquoise Office. I decided to go with a color from Lowe's called Aqua Chifron

My cork board wall. You can find these cork board squares at most WalMarts and Hobby Lobby. Definitely recommend nailing them up, the double sided tape that comes with them never seems to work. 

My wall of things I love. The painting was done by a dear friend of mine. Super talented. The two cow pictures are Signature (the black one) and Fantasy and Harmony (the cow and calf), these are my all time favorite cows. And then a picture of my sister and I, and the Boy and I.

I was able to save some money by keeping the blinds and curtains that were already in the room. 

My little seating area. This couch was previously downstairs in our house, but it no longer fit when I moved all my stuff in. The meshing of two peoples things is always a fun project. So that is my office. Feel free to stop by anytime. We can talk blogging, agvocacy, Sure Champ and of course turquoise!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canadian Comedian Rick Mercer visits a cattle show

Rick at Agribition

My fellow K-State Judging Team
member, Lance Leachman's farm.
Although I was unable to attend Agribition this year, via Twitter I was able to see quite the commotion Rick Mercer, Canadian comedian, when he attended one of Canada's leading agricultural events.

Rick's tour of the barns takes him through the grooming of a beef animal, learning how to auctioneer, and the process of buying a goat. All important things to know.
It is always fun to see what agriculture and livestock shows look like through the eyes of the consumer. Check out his adventure! 

And I would say that my cattle showing friends do pretty good in the spotlight of a camera.

#GiveBeef this Christmas

No better gift than helping feed others.

Yesterday, Debbie Lyons-Blythe had a great guest post, by Barb Downey, on her blog about providing beef for families through a movement called #GiveBeef. Today, I've asked Barb if I can repost so I can share with you how you can get involved, and also there are some pretty interesting facts in her post about what farmers and ranchers provide in terms of volunteer service to their communities.

On the ranch with Barb and Joe and their daughters Anna and Laura Cate.
by Barb Downey
Our cow herd has given us a lot over the years.  A good living, a way of life that lets us work together as a family, a way to teach our kids the joys and responsibilities of an intimate bond with animals and a way to live in partnership & harmony with our environment to provide safe, wholesome & nutritious beef.  In return, we give our cow herd the best we have to offer; top nutrition, health care and a lifetime of interaction with humans that ensures they are treated properly.  So while every job has its ups & downs, when the dust settles, cattle ranching has been a blessing and a gift.  This is why all of us in agriculture, both farming & ranching, do what we do.  Sure, its long hours spent in some of the worst Mother Nature can dish out, but the blessings are many and manifest.

Many of America’s farmers & ranchers give back to our communities in lots of ways all year long. According to the Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review:

  • Nearly one-half (47%) volunteer with a youth organization compared with a national average of about 7 percent. About one-third donate their time to community civic organizations beyond youth groups.
  • On average, cattlemen volunteer 11 hours each month to non-profit organizations or charitable causes.
  • Farmers and ranchers are not just generous with their time, but also contribute to charitable causes. About one-half of farmers and ranchers donate at least $500 annually to local or national charities and nearly one-third donate at least $1,000.
I want to recognize that and use it to inspire all of us to unite in our giving. I’m calling on you, America’s Ranchers, Farmers & all of you who support ag producers every day to join me during the Holidays, long winter & all year long in putting a face on the generosity of our ag community.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2010, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The beef community is responding to this need in a number of ways, from donating beef to food banks to volunteering time in our local communities.

How can I make a difference, you ask?  Here at Downey Ranch, we donated a beef and contacted our local locker to donate the processing & packaging.  GTB Meats, Inc. of Riley, KS stepped up to the plate and together, we were able to deliver over 460 lbs (1800+ servings!) of ground beef to the Flinthills Breadbasket.  In turn, the Breadbasket will distribute that to local individuals & families in need this season.  We are fortunate that what we & our cattle produce provides a huge nutritional punch to those members of society most likely to be deficient in what beef provides so well; complete, high quality protein & plenty of vitamins & minerals often lacking in Americans’ diets.

So donate beef (or pork, poultry, dairy or other quality foods from American agriculture).  If you don’t have actual product, sell a few bushels & buy quality product.  If you just love ag & want to help, offer to buy part or all of a beef from a rancher and donate that way.  Just find out what your local organizations need & help to secure it.  There are pantries, kitchens, churches, schools, etc. in every community needing you to step up to the plate.  Then let us know what you’ve done so we can help you inspire others.  Together, we can share the bounty of America’s ranches and make a real difference.

Remember, support “Give Beef” (Twitter: #GiveBeef) any way you can so that all winter long, everyone can truly say, “Beef; it’s what’s for dinner!” 

The Boy and I are a thinking about how we can also #GiveBeef. Watch for a follow up post soon about what our contribution will be. Don't forget to check out the #GiveBeef Facebook page for more information. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hunk of Meat Mondays: Crockpot Macaroni and Bacon

A pound of bacon

Yum bacon! 
Yesterday, was a busy day of clipping our bull calf Forest, house cleaning and painting furniture, so what better way to spare of time than a crockpot meal. I have been eyeing all kinds of macaroni and cheese recipes on Pinterest, and decided to combine a few for my own. 

1 1/2 cups milk - I used 2% milk
One 12 oz can of no fat evaporated milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temp
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups (12 oz) shredded cheese Italian blend
1/2 pound elbow macaroni or mini penne tubes, par cooked and drained (this means cook them for about five minutes until tender but not completely cooked)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Oregano to taste
1 pound of bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. By using a crock pot liner you won't have to worry about any clean up afterwards or you can spray the crock pot with cooking oil. Combine milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, and salt in crock pot and whisk until until smooth.

2. Add the shredded Italian cheese, bacon and macaroni, sprinkle with black pepper and oregano. Stir until macaroni is evenly coated.

3. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.

4. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook for another two hours. You might not need quite that much time, you'll be able to tell when the pasta is all cooked.

Excuse my iPhone photography skills, but that is a pot full of deliciousness!

For other Hunk of Meat Monday recipes check out the Beyer Beware and Pinke Post blogs.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The meat cutting chart

Oh Pinterest

Have you noticed the plethora of meat cutting charts on Pinterest lately? If not don't worry that is what I am hear for to point the good stuff out. Not only are these charts giving you an education in where your meat is coming from, but they are also a great decorating piece for any kitchen or home.

Beef Butcher Cutting Chart from Etsy. If beef isn't your thing, don't worry this store sells chicken, lamb, pork and fish (yes fish) cutting charts, and they've got a deal for you buy three get one free. 

Another artistic beef chart, but what is with the horns again? It is actually better for cattle to be dehorned at a young age. There is less chance of injury to the people handing the cattle, the cattle have less chance of injuring themselves or others, and it cause less bruising of the meat. Meat bruising equal low meat quality.

I love classic beef posters like this meat market poster also found on easy. 

If you are looking for a tried and true beef cutting chart I love this one from They also have mini and bilingual version. 

Another sample is this beef chart from the American Angus Association. When I used to work at the Association we would send hundreds of these out each year. I love that this chart and the one above not only show what the cut of meat looks like, but it also tells you how it should be cooked. You can order this beef cutting cart here

Happy beef eating! 

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