Who is this chick?

Yeah, that one. The one planning for a flowering spring. The one with a song in her heart and a belief in the future. The one dancing with hope.

That’s me, really. With just a few tweaks to the old personality.

I am not known for having patience. A fondness for delayed gratification didn’t make my list either. But hey, if America can climb on board with a big plan for change than the least I can do is try for some changes of my own.

So recently while the girls helped Dave rake yellowing leaves into billowing piles,

I planted something that would not emerge from the soil for 6 month. Talk about delaying some gratification. Talk about hope. I’m talking about lovely ladies that demand a nice six-month nap in the dirt before rearing their pretty faces. Tulips. And daffodils.

I’m never one to jump up and down at the return of warm weather, but I do like the bright colors that litter my neighbor’s yards while our property remains the sole landscape slumbering away beneath a blanket of blandness.

And each year I am reminded that these April flowers demanded attention way back when the first snows were threatening. They require planning ahead. Way way ahead. Which has always been enough to send those tulip-thoughts tiptoeing out of my head.

Not so with the new me. After an eternal election cycle the idea of waiting a paltry six months for flowers seems reasonable. So I read the back of my little packet of seeds. And I dug the holes. And while I may have skimped a bit on the suggested 12 inches of depth and 6 inches of spacing, I remain confident that my yard will look very much like this.

Ok, I can’t say for sure that my yard will blossom like that. But after a long long time I find myself believing in a future bright with rainbows and gilded with hope. My dreams are rich in solar paneled rooftops, electrically-charged cars and daughters bedecked in white lab coats out to change the world.

So why not? Anything is possible. And come springtime I believe we will be dancing in daffodils.

Oh the weather

Throngs of people will tell you that life in Colorado is just grand thanks to the 300+ days of glorious sunshine. I’ll let you in on a little secret: those sunny days can really grind on a person. They come with a burden of responsibility to get out there, get the kids outside, go ride a bike or climb a mountain or some such nonsense. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Ok so maybe it is just what the doctor ordered; but sometimes fresh air is overrated.

Last weekend came roaring in like an angry wet lion. Chilly and soggy and not a reason in the world to pull off pajamas or venture outside (well, except Dave, who braved the weather to save the last of the tomatoes.

We read that pulling in the whole vine and wrapping the bunch in newspapers is the answer to an early frost. They did in fact ripen nicely, within about a week.)

Oh yes, and Dave heroically ventured back out into the yard for wood, making the the girls enormously happy as they settled in before the first fire of the season.

I too eventually shed my pajamas to join neighbor Kristin and her daughter for pie-crust-making 101. (Full disclosure: that beautiful pie I boasted of was made of home grown apples…and Pillsbury crust. I know, I know, shame shame on me. I’m a stinky cheater. Lucky for us all Kristin was on a crusade to change that.)

Kristin’s claim? Not only is homemade crust infinitely tastier, but contrary to popular opinion it is not something to be feared. I had my doubts, but in the interest of research and dessert I crossed the street with a bag of apples, a pie dish and an open mind.

Once we got the apples peeled and ready to go, Kristin and daughter Rachel showed us the ropes, following Grandma’s (not so anymore) secret recipe. Kira joined us, delivering the lemon for the filling so I could follow my favorite apple pie recipe for the filling, passed down to me from my late cousin, Valerie, a woman who knew her way around a pie. And Kira stayed, putting her muscle to work rolling and patting and well, you know the drill.

So? Was it worth it? All the rolling and the kneading and the flour in our hair?

Resoundingly, yes. We enjoyed a morning that was wonderful, warm and neighborly. And later on, we enjoyed our pie, our flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, fresh-from-the-tree, hot apple pie. With home-made crust, and of course, ice cream on the side.

Holy Tomatoes Batman

Shout out to our new farm hands, friends Bridget and Colin , who joined our own little seasoned pickers in the field. Without those extra built-low-to-the ground pickers, I don’t know if I would be spending all my waking hours up to my elbows in tomato juice. Thanks, guys.

Ok, so let’s say these extra farm hands result in a lot of tomatoes. I mean, A LOT of tomatoes. I’m talking about 40 pounds of big red beauties. And with their looming threat of transforming from a delicate treat into mashed rottenness, these tomatoes demand attention.

There are some seriously scary stories out there about the horrors that result from amateur canning. I’m not opposed to learning how to manage boiling hot glassware; in fact, reader Amy has it spelled out nicely at her site Five Flower Mom, and I’m going to give it a go with the next batch, I swear. I just know I’ll be more open to that lesson once the frozen veggies start infringing on my ice cream space. I’m the type who needs plenty of room for ice cream.

For now, since Ben and Jerry have some wiggle room, I was happy to stumble upon this site, http://www.pickyourown.org/freezingtomatoes.htm, that walked me through the easy process of freezing. I froze tons as diced tomatoes and the others I put up as sauce.

Here’s a quick break-down of the easy steps:

(1) Drop tomatoes into a pot of boiling water. Leave them for about 45 -60 seconds.

(2) Drop them into an icy bath. I filled the sink with ice cubes and cold water.

Looked like a mooshier version of bobbing for apples.

(3) Pull off the skin.

(4) Once the skin came off, I cut the stem end. Then I took the whole thing in my hand and squeezed. A nice tight hug, to get out the extra water and some of the seeds.

(5) Dice the tomatoes and set the pieces in a colander in the sink to drain.

For diced tomatoes, I put them in ziploc baggies, squeezed out as much air as possible, and laid them flat in the freezer.

For sauce, I followed my dash-o-this, pinch-o-that style tomato sauce recipe, then froze the sauce in jelly jars (lucky for me we polished off the strawberry jam so quickly!)

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And enjoy.

Nice Trash

Once upon a time a catcall was a catcall. Superficial as it may be, boys, whether in the dorms or on the construction site, whistled at what they saw. And the twisted world made sense.

Now that I’m the resident champion of all things green, things have changed. Last week we had people over for dinner. Neal, my friend’s husband, swaggered into the kitchen and nodded approvingly. Ok, maybe he didn’t swagger, and to be fair there was no waggling eyebrows, but boy oh boy was he impressed:

Nice trash! How can you get away with such a small garbage can?

With pride, we showed off compost heap and recycling bins. Help me; when did my inner dork start roaming freely?

If you’ve known me awhile and are somehow holding on to a vestigial sense of my coolness, you may want to tune out for this next comment:

Our compost pile is super cool.

Not in the same way that two-for-one cosmos are cool. Not like swishing down the slopes sans kids is cool. But as far as back-yard-burb-tales go, we’re not generating a ton o’ trash. Let’s let that be exciting.

OK, you can open your eyes again.Compost Kids

Forget Disney, composting is fun for the whole family! Here are the girls, enthusiastically embracing their newest chore…the dumping o’ the compost.

Look at those smiles. Lucky lucky girls.

Show some respect for peats sake, I’m talking here. There may not be much junk in this old trunk, but you totally just checked out my trash!