Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn Oakley and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

This week I have been working mainly on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I have finished the body and now just have the sleeves and hood left to do. Both involve picking up stitches, so I need to make sure I am mentally present, which actually rules out a lot of my knitting time. I normally sit down with my knitting at the very end of the day, when the dishes are done and the kids are in bed-- and sometimes, by that point, there is not much energy left for thinking! No picture of the sweater today-- but hopefully a finished one soon!

I also decided to start myself another one of these cowls (shown in the photos). I just finished one a couple of weeks ago, but ran out of the yarn I was using-- and it was a random skein I purchased when a yarn shop was closing. It is still wearable, but less thick than I wanted, and it has been nagging at me ever since. The sweater I am knitting for Phoebe is too big to bring anywhere, so this has been my on-the-go/ my brain is too tired to think about a sweater project. I am using scrap yarn from my stash (yes!) and am loving how the color scheme is turning out.

Last week I mentioned I was reading The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russel Gold. A lot of you were interested in the book, even requesting a review. Well, here it is: Honestly, I didn't quite read the whole book. I skipped about 100 pages and came back for the last chapter. I was thinking the book was more about fracking and its impacts... and instead, most of the book was naming men who own oil companies and telling how much they paid for this or that. I am sure that information is interesting to someone, just not me. Snore. I enjoyed the beginning, where it talked about the logistics of fracking, how the process works and the impacts of this oil boom on the workers and small communities. The end chapter has a few paragraphs on the environmental issues. And the whole middle is like a really boring story of rich guys. Just not for me. Sorry to get your hopes up!

Currently I am reading The Martian by Andy Weir. It is so interesting! A fiction story where a man gets left for dead on Mars. I am completely captivated!

Oh yeah, and Moshi wanted to say hi for yarn along today!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Our Weekend

Our weekend was mellow, relaxing-- bordering on restless at a few moments even.
Friday night I made my favorite lemon tart, and we had movie night, watching Kiki's Delivery Service, an anime film from 1989.
Saturday I headed out to an early morning yoga class, made french toast, and took Phoebe to her swim class. The sun came out in the early afternoon and I happily did some outdoor chores around the house; tidying up the garden, fixing the fence, cleaning up the back porch. All things that have been on my to-do list for ages, but have been waiting for nice weather. Afterwards, we took the kids to the park to play on the equipment and shoot some hoops. They rolled down the huge muddy hill and came home looking a bit like wild savages......which lead to a late afternoon round of showers and a very early dinner eating outside at our favorite Mexican. Todd went to his office for an evening of work, which meant that I had the night to myself. I indulged in some tv watching (Downton Abbey included!) and made some good progress on the sweater I am knitting for Phoebe.
Sunday morning was super foggy and so we puttered around the house. We read, we did some yoga and some science experiments, but mostly the kids just used their imagination to do whatever kids do. Our big plans for the day were to go on a hike. The fog cleared around 11:00, and it was warm and sunny, so after lunch we got in the car for our adventure. And then we were foiled. Fog surrounded us on all sides. It was sitting on all of the rivers and water bodies. And we decide we needed sun more than we needed a hike. So we headed back to the park to play in the sun. And it was warm-- 60's-- in January. Which felt fabulous, but also just sort of wrong. Like spring was here, except it's not, because it's only January. I finished off the weekend with a run to a hot tub with a friend. If all runs ended in a hot tub, I would go every day!

How was your weekend?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding Nature

Living in a city, I often feel the need to escape, and to find some bit of nature, no matter how small. Luckily, Portland is situated in an amazing part of the country, and we have so much access to wilderness: forests, rivers and ocean. Sometimes, however, we don't have the luxury of enough time to drive an hour or more to seek out these treasures. And on those days, we do the best with what is close and easily accessible. Sometimes that is playing on the bank of a not particularly pristine river, or walking through a wetland surrounded by industry. And sometimes, these little gems in the rough are the best places of all, because you can see, that even amidst human development and pollution, nature still thrives, and is ready to take over the second it is given a chance.
Anyways, the resilience of nature was not actually my intention when I sat down to write this post. Rather, I was thinking of how easily children are occupied in nature. If I bring my kids to the beach or a river, or even to a pile of dirt or rocks that they can dig in, they will literally play for hours. Happy, immersed in their own thoughts. Sticks become props, treasures are found, ideas are discovered. In the comfort of our cozy home, toys that were coveted for months are played with for a few minutes at a time before becoming boring. Others barely even make it out of the packaging. This is not to say that all toys are like this; Finn can (and has) played with his legos for hours on end, and books, markers and stuffed animals are all well loved in our home too. But outside, there is always something to find, something to do, something to explore. So on those days when my kids don't want to go on a hike or for an adventure, I still make them go. And you know what? They (almost) always have fun once they are there.  

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

The past week has been wonderful. For whatever reason, I feel like the world has slowed down a little bit and I have found time to read and knit, time that didn't even need to be (mentally) scheduled in.

This week I have been working on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I have made some good progress over the past week (but then again, chunky needles and thick yarn will do that for you). I have just arrived at the part in the pattern where I need to divide for the sleeves, which means I will need to  start paying a lot more attention. The stitches are so thick that I think any little mistake will be easily noticeable. But, I am loving the color and loving how fast it is growing!

Currently, I am reading The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russel Gold, which so far has been a fairly unbiased and informative read on the impacts of fracking. I am only about 1/6 of the way into the book, but I do like it so far. It directly relates to what I am teaching about this term, and I try to keep up with at least some of the relevant literature.... I am also reading Specials, the third book in Scott Westerfield's Uglies series. It's teen sci-fi: easy reading and a bit mindless, but also makes you start to question the world around you.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Sunday, January 18, 2015


This week I have felt grateful for:

* The rain. Yes, I do live in Portland and yes it rains here a lot throughout the winter. And no, I don't actually love the rain. I would prefer a nice sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Yesterday was brutal.. hard rain falling all day long without a break. Ugh. But water is life. Without rain, life is a struggle. And here, in the land of abundant rain, we have green growth all throughout the year. And that is something I do love.

* My kids. Even though there are some days that are challenging as a parent, I am so lucky to be on this journey. And I am so glad that my children are who they are (struggles and all). My children teach me every day, and I am so grateful for that.

* For some quiet moments this week to read and knit, and for the indulgence of Downton Abbey.

What are you grateful for this week?

Playing along with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Reusable Snack Bags: A Quick Tutorial

One of my goals for this year is to cut back on my family's resource use and the waste that we produce. For about 9 months, I have been meaning to make some reusable snack bags for Finn's lunch and packing snacks on the go. And this past week I finally did just that. Finally. Sometimes I just don't know why I put things off so long.

These are pretty easy to make, once you get the process figured out. I bought a half yard of ripstop fabric from the store for the linings of the bags, and used fabric from my stash for the outside. Here is a quick run down of the steps:

1.  Decide on the size that you want your bag. Fold your cotton fabric in half (the folded side will be your bottom of the bag). Add 1/2" seam allowance to each side and the top and cut out your fabric. Do the same thing for the ripstop. Make sure you cut the fabric the same size (don't just guesstimate). If the 2 pieces are not the same, the bag won't sew together evenly.

2. Fold your fabric along the bottom edge so that the right side is on the inside. I like to iron my fabric folded flat at this point to make things nice and even. Sew the fabric together on each side seam, leaving a 1/2" seam. Leave the top side open. Do the same for the ripstop. Now iron the side seams open.

3. Now you will need some sew-on velcro. Turn your ripstop fabric right-side-out and sew a strip of velcro about 1/2 inch down from the top edge on each side of the ripstop (note: make sure your two pieces of velcro make a set that will stick together-- one side should have loops and one side should have hooks-- this is how your bag will close later).

4. OK, now turn your ripstop fabric back so that it is wrong side out (with the velcro on the inside). Next, turn your cotton fabric so it is right side out and place it into the ripstop fabric. At this point, the right sides of each of your fabrics should be touching.

5. Now top stitch all the way around the top of the two bags, closing them together. Leave a 2" opening.

6. Next. pull your bag through the 2 inch opening so that the right sides are both out. It's hard to explain this part, but just do it, and you will see what I mean. Now you (almost) have a bag! Just top stitch again, this time without leaving a gap, and make sure you close the gap that you left earlier.

You're done!

Sorry I don't have pictures of each step. I sew-by-night and there is just not enough light for a quality shot. Just leave a comment with any questions you may have!

Finn has been using his new bags all week. So far I have hand washed, but I don't see why they can't go in the machine as well.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

Last week I finished up one of these cowls for myself. However, I ran out of yarn about 9 rows from the end (and it was a random, leftover skein I got when I yarn shop was closing), so it doesn't have the heft that it is supposed to. I have still worn it a bit, but it's not quite what I had imagined.

This week I have been working on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I am hoping to have the sweater and the mouse doll done in time for her birthday on March 1st. It's chunky yarn on big needles, so it should go quickly.

I'm still reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have a bit over 100 pages left and I can't wait to find out what happens. This is a favorite read of mine!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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