Queen for a Day


by Deanna F. Cook

SUBTLE HINTS may work for spouses, but with children it helps to be blunt. Do your family a favor this year and let them know exactly what you want for Mother's Day: the royal treatment. With a little planning and supervision, your kids can give you a day of leisure while they have fun turning the house into a castle fit for a queen. After enjoying their homemade decorations, brunch, and entertainment, you'll wish every day was Mother's Day.



On the evening of May 8th, Dad should insist that Her Highness plan to sleep late the next morning--with the shades pulled and a host of fluffed pillows tucked behind her (no peas under the mattress, please). While Mom rests, the king and his court jesters can quietly create a festive brunch and decorate the table.

Pineapple boats
Royal ham 'n eggs
Monkey bread

Prepare a throne at one end of the dining room table by padding a straight-backed chair with a special pillow. Decorate the table with fresh flowers, cloth napkins, and a full table setting (two sizes of forks and spoons). To make colorful place mats, decorate a 2-inch strip around the edges of sturdy 8 1/2-by 11-inch pieces of paper with a pretty pattern, such as potato print flowers or watercolor geometric shapes.



Once the food is prepared and the table is set, young heralds can bring their horns up to the bedroom and request the presence of the Queen Mother. Making the horns is a simple matter of snipping and removing the bottom of a paper cup and taping the cup to the end of a cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper or paper towels. Cover the whole thing with tinfoil and tape a flag made of scrap fabric or crepe paper so it hangs down (for a true heralding horn, snip a V-shape out of the end of the flag.)


When Mom arrives in the dining room, kids can escort her to the throne and place a special homemade flower crown on her head. An easy crown can be made out of a strip of colored construction paper, 2 inches wide and about 25 inches long. Tape or staple the ends to make a circle and punch holes around the top edge. Decorate it by threading fresh flowers through the holes and adding leaves, fresh or paper, with staples.


A member of the court can dramatically unroll and read a scrolled list of chores that will be granted to Her Majesty throughout the day: "All your dishes will be washed; the junk drawer will be organized; your bed will be made and pillows fluffed; your hair will be combed," and so on. To make the scroll, cover two paper towel tubes with colored paper and tape to either end of a long white piece of paper. On the paper, write the chores (and initials, if the kids are divvying up the assignments). Roll up the scroll and tie it with a ribbon. After brunch, it can hang in a prominent spot (a reminder to all the subjects).


The kids can put on a hilarious show by turning themselves into Mini-Mom. To set up this optical illusion, jester number one should crouch behind a table. Jester number two first pulls a pair of baggy shorts up to number one's elbows and puts her hands into a pair of sneakers so she can rest them on the tabletop. Number two then pulls a T-shirt over number one's head and tucks it into the shorts. Jester number two should hide behind the first and put his arms through the T-shirt sleeves to complete a mini-matriarch. She can attempt to brush her hair, put on sunglasses or play an instrument.




Kids love this fruit salad in pineapple halves.
Dad should help cut the pineapple.

1 pineapple, cut in half lengthwise
Juice from half a lemon
1 1/2 cups seedless grapes
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
12 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 sliced banana (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Remove the tough core of the pineapple halves with a spoon or knife. Carve out the remaining fruit, cut it into bite-size chunks, and place them in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon over the shells and chunks to prevent browning. To the bowl, add the grapes, kiwi, oranges, strawberries and optional ingredients. Toss well, then spoon the fruit salad into the pineapple shells. Chill covered until serving time. Serves 4 to 6.



This dish, easy enough for children to assemble themselves, can be adapted to suit any queen's particular tastes. The vegetables that are listed below can be substituted with 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms, chopped broccoli, shredded zucchini, or cubed boiled potatoes; and instead of ham, you can add strips of prosciutto, cooked sausage slices or bacon pieces (or forego the meat altogether).

1 1/2 cups French bread cubes
1/2 lb. cooked ham, cubed
1 8-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 eggs
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish and line the bottom with the bread cubes. Cover with a layer of ham cubes, a layer of chopped spinach, a layer of cherry tomatoes, and finally, shredded cheese. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, dried mustard, pepper and milk together. Pour this mixture over the casserole.

Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese turns golden brown. Serves six.



Even a matriarch should have the chance to monkey around. Offer her this sweet cinnamon yeast bread, which can be made from scratch. If you want to save time, skip making the dough and substitute a storebought bread dough (look in the frozen food section of your grocery.)

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, melt the butter over the stove in a saucepan, add the milk, and heat just until warm. Pour the milk and butter mixture in the bowl with the yeast. Add the eggs, salt, sugar and wheat flour. Stir well. Add the white flour one cup at a time until you can form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes. Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and set in a warm spot, free from drafts.

Once the dough has doubled in size, usually in about 1 1/2 hours, punch it down. For the topping, mix the sugars and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Melt the butter and pour it into a separate bowl. Then roll the dough out into a log shape about 3 1/2 inches wide and cut into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, dip it in the melted butter, then toss it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place two layers of the balls in a greased, 10-inch tube pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, usually for about 45 minutes.

In a preheated 350-degree oven, bake the bread for 25 minutes. Serve warm.



Now that the queen is full of good food and good jokes, a treasure hunt can lead her to her last surprise: a long, hot, bubbly bath. To create a relaxing ambience in the bathroom, Dad and a helper should sneak off to run the tub, play classical music on a cassette player, and light beeswax or scented candles on a small table near the tub. Leave out clean towels and a washcloth, back scrubber, glass of juice and a few magazines. When everything is set, Mom can start on her hunt, following the four clues listed here, or those your family has made up:

CLUE 1: Search all the shelves for that one type of food/ That always puts you in a very fine mood.
CLUE 2: Look behind a speaker that booms/ Every time you want to hear tunes
CLUE 3: Lift up the dust ruffle and take a peek/ Under the comfortable place where you sleep,
CLUE 4: Go into the bathroom and point your toes/ Dip into the water and forget your woes.

While Mom relaxes, it's time for her subjects to clean the kitchen and start working on the promised chores.

Go back to the Mother's Day Page.