Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn 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!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Summer in Review

Summer is winding down and tomorrow will be the first day of autumn. The past few days here have been warm, but I can already feel the fall chill in the morning air. I love it.
I had some big plans for the summer of 2011, and now that summer is ending, I decided to look back and see how my summer panned out....
  • Work on sewing from a pattern. Phoebe's bonnet, that I made a couple weeks ago, was my first time sewing from a pattern ever. And it was an easy pattern. I want to expand my pattern knowledge. I plan on starting with sewing an apron from a pattern. If it goes well, maybe I will start using patterns more often! This was a failure! I bough a few commercial patterns on sale this summer and couldn't even figure out where to start. However, I did sew a kimono top  for Phoebe from a mama-made (easy to understand) pattern AND I did sign myself up for a sewing class which includes learning to read a pattern. So, hopefully, I will accomplish this soon!
  • Paint the exterior of my house. This is sort of a big undertaking, especially with a new baby, but my house is small. Really small. So I think a weekend with a couple of friends will be enough time to finish the whole project, and it will look so much better! Now I just need to decide on a weekend (and a color!). Success! Well, sort of.... ha! We did manage to get our house painted, but there are a few funny stories that go along with it. Have a minute? So, first off, choosing a house color is way more difficult than I had ever imagined. I had some color ideas set in my head, but the color that you see on the paint sample is not what it is going to look like on your house. So, 4 different shades of green later, I though I had found the one.... until I painted the entire backside of the house and realized that in a huge swath, I hated the color. It belonged in Jamaica, or somewhere warm and tropical. So, back to the paint store I went, with all 7 gallons of my green paint. I begged the man to help, to make it better... and after much grumbling and complaining, he did make it better... but it still wasn't perfect. But, was I going to abandon 7 gallon of good-enough paint and spent a couple hundred more trying to get exactly what I wanted? I decided to just be happy that it wasn't going to be the Jamaica green that it had started with and even a non-perfect shade of green is way better than the boring dirty-gray color that it was. OK, so the next hurdle was that we have 2 young kids. I have no idea what I was thinking when I signed us up for this, but painting a house with 2 kids is no picnic. Basically, we could only paint when my husband and I were both home. One of use would paint, or sometimes both, but one person always had to be ready to deal with whatever kid issue arose, which was usually about every 3 to 7 minutes. So, we painted in pieces... an hour here, 15 minutes there,.. and even though our house is small, it took about 6 weeks to get it done. And, we had finished nearly everything, except for the 2 really tall parts on our roof that we could not reach with the ladder that we had. So, instead of borrowing ladders and dealing with heights, we decided to hire a painter that would have the equipment and the tools to get the job done easily. It was only about 4 hours of work, and we didn't want to pay and arm and a leg, so we hired a painter off of craigslist. To make a long story short, don't ever do that. A week later, after the painter repeatedly called in sick day after day, he decided to finish the job while we were out of town. He was furious that we were not home to pay us, and screamed at Todd for about 20 minutes over the phone. Upon return to our house, the job was horribly done, and Todd ended up having to borrow a ladder and repaint it all by himself. Thanks hubby. But hey, it's done. It's not exactly the color I wanted, but I know it will be awhile before I am ready to repaint my house again!
  • Learn to pickle! I learned how to can a few summers ago but have never tackled pickling yet.Still haven't done this, although I just got a great recipe and am hoping to get a few jars done while I can!
  • Choose a sweater pattern for Phoebe. Hopefully I will start knitting it as well, but I at least want to  have it decided on by the end of the summer.I am taking suggestions if anyone has some good one for me.... I did! I chose the crossover top by Debbie Bliss and have finished the back and have started one of the front panels. However, in choosing this pattern, I found like 8 more things I want to make her as well. Better knit fast!
  • Try to dye with dandelions.We tried! And it turned out horrible. Maybe you need to get spring dandelions? Or ones that grow in different soil? All these did was make the shirt look slightly off-white, like it was a bit dirty. Ugg.
  • Make homemade paper. I have actually done this before, a really long time ago, but would like to re-learn how to do it and maybe improve my skills. We did it! You can see the results here.
  • Keep a plant photo-journal of new plants I encounter on hikes. I did, although the not-so-great weather we had (in addition to all of the house painting) resulted in less hikes than I would have liked. But I did learn a few new plants this summer!
  • Restart my 365 project. 365 project is a photo project that allows you to post one photograph for each calender day. It is a real motivation to take lots of (great) photos each and every day and then to sit down and critique them and decide which is your best from that day.  I started this photo project last summer, but then once my pregnancy had me feeling awful, I wasn't up for continuing. So, I want to restart my project again this summer. Success! I have actually taken photos every day this summer and uploaded my 'best' one to my 365 project. Some days my photo isn't so fantastic, but at least I did it. Every. Day. Remembering to always have my camera has made me catch some moments that I otherwise wouldn't have, and, I suppose that the more time I spend with my camera the better I will get.
  • Perfect a loaf of (yeast) bread. Enjoy it with the glass of beer pictured above. OK, so I definitely did not perfect a loaf of bread yet, but I have been trying and have made much improvement. I have been using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day recipe and have had a lot of issues. First I had some bad yeast. After fixing that and still getting poor results I finally bought an oven thermometer, which is when we learned that our oven is off. Way off. Like by 50 to 150 degrees depending on what temperature you are trying to get it to. Which means that my bread that was supposed to be in at 450, was actually around 320. SO,.... I now set the temperature much higher to get close to the oven temp I need, but it is still not exact. However,  I think that this bread is about as perfect as it is going to get without buying a new oven.
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