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!

Friday, December 30, 2011

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Last Mountain: A Review

Todd and I watched The Last Mountain last night and it almost brought me to tears. Even my dear hubby, who normally gets sick of my pro-environment documentaries, announced how much he liked it, and then immediately went to the film's website and tweeted about it. That's a good sign.
The film is about big coal and how the greed of the coal mining industry is endangering both human health and the environment in West Virginia and beyond. The documentary shows the fight to save the last mountain in the Coal River Valley, and shows how mountain top removal has devastated the surrounding area.
Brain tumor clusters are found near the mined areas, with 6 brain tumors in one mobile home park. A local elementary school backs up to a surface impoundment, which holds tons of concentrated mining wastes that are poisoning the students and teachers alike. Air quality is terrible and the water is polluted beyond belief. The removal of vegetation of the top of the mountains has caused sever flooding in the valleys below.
And why? For greed. The coal industry claims that they are providing jobs and giving us energy. Yet, in recent years, they have cut over 40,000 jobs and instead have added machines to do the work of people. And yes, coal is providing 50% of electricity in the US.... because they are supporting politicians who will make it stay that way!!! Renewable energy is available! Solar and wind is real, but if big coal keeps paying off the government, that change is never going to happen.
The citizens of Coal River Valley are trying to save their last mountain and instead of mining it, turn it into a wind farm.. if they can stop the progression of mountain top removal.
Interested? Watch the film and then take action! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yarn Along and a Christmas Sweater

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for the last Yarn Along of 2011! So, this week I am still reading Saving Fish from Drowning and Collapse, both of which I have been stuck on for a couple of weeks. Somehow, amidst the holiday scramble, I just haven't had much quiet time to myself in order to read. Imagine that, eh?
And, apparently I haven't had ample knitting time either because guess what I am knitting this week? Phoebe's stocking. Yes, Christmas is over. Santa already came (and I used a back-up stocking for her). But, she is not even a year old and I can guarantee she won't hold a grudge against me for this one. I am about halfway done with this monstrosity of a stocking (which I will felt when I am done knitting). I know if I put it away until next Christmas, it will be pretty hard to re-motivate on a half-knit stocking. So, I am trying to stick it out and finish it so it is already finished when Christmas 2012 rolls around. But, there is no pressure anymore (since I already missed the deadline), so I am hoping I can make myself finish in a timely matter. My only real push is that I am telling myself that when this stocking is done, I am going to knit something for myself (isn't that a novel idea?).
However, I do have some good knitting news which is that I managed to finish Phoebe's new sweater in time for Christmas! It is the Debbie Bliss dufflecoat pattern, except I left the pockets off of this one in hopes of making it look a bit more girly. I am happy with the way it turned out and also happy that it is a wee bit big. That means she will hopefully get a lot of use out of it!
What are you reading and knitting?
Pin It Now!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Merry

The past week has been filled with preparations, anticipation, wonder, excitement and exhaustion. Since we did not travel anywhere over Christmas, we had time instead to spend with our local friends and with one another. Last week brought lots of baking and making. Some favorite moments included:

Making (and tasting) a gingerbread house (from a kit, mind you, which was still harder than I anticipated!)

Decorating gingerbread cookies with Finn's dear friends

And making a fabric wreath when we found ourselves with a spare moment. We found a lovely tutorial here.

Christmas eve was a special dinner with friends, while we tracked Sant'a progress across the Atlantic. I think I may have been more excited than Finn for Christmas morning to arrive... and sleep eluded me for most of the night.
Christmas morning was filled with heaps of gifts from near and far, a yummy breakfast, a walk with the dogs and some time skyping with family far away.

Today we tried to re-enter the world of reality, but it was not an easy transition. Schedules are off, and less sleep (for everyone) means that we are all a bit cranky and not our best. Hoping to re-find our rhythm as we enjoy our last week of 2011!!!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas!
Pin It Now!

Friday, December 23, 2011

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice

Wishing you light and warmth on this shortest day of the year.
Happy Solstice!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Elf on the Shelf

Have you guys heard about the Elf on the Shelf? We got it as a present last year, and it has proved to be a great one. Basically, each night while your children are sleeping, your elf flies to the North Pole to report on the naughty and nice behavior of your child and when he arrives back at your house, he hides in a different location for your child to discover.
So, the first thing Finn does each morning during the month of December is jump out of bed to find Muga (that is our elf). He has a blast and it has become a lovely morning ritual.
The problem is having to remember to move the elf each night after the kids are asleep. It seems easy, right? But some days leave me physically exhausted and brain-dead (I think that is in the job description for "mom", right?), and some nights I am ready for bed as soon as the kids are down. Moving an elf just isn't on top on my to-do list. Now that we are 3 weeks into December, I have a pretty good routine going, but during the first couple of weeks there was more than one occasion where I woke up in a panic the middle of the night remembering that I needed to go and move Muga... and we have had at least one or two close calls where we had to move him in the morning without Finn seeing.
Anyways, I had no clue how popular the Elf on the Shelf was until I started reading other blog posts and facebook posts about it. And then I started finding out about some moms who apparently have no trouble remembering to move their elf and in fact find the time to create entire elf-scenarios while their children are sleeping. If you are in need of some pee-in-your-pants laughing during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, then check out this blog post making fun of over-achieving elf moms. Sorry if any of you are one of these moms.. I actually think many of these ideas are terrific and would be so fun for Finn... if I didn't have to cook, clean, work or sleep.
But, we love our Muga and love this fun tradition that we have begun.
Do you Elf on the Shelf? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finn's First Sleepover!

Friday night, Finn had his first sleepover. It made me a little emotional, because he suddenly seemed so grown up. A sleepover! Isn't that what big kids do?!  He is only 4, so I don't think this will be a regular thing, but it just gave me a glimpse of the years to come.
The cutest thing about this sleepover is that the whole thing was totally initiated and organized by my husband. He chose a night when I had plans to go out with the mother of Finn's friend, set the time, planned out dinner and activities, and by the time I got home at 10:30 the kids were (just barely) already asleep. I honestly think Todd might have been more excited about the sleepover than the kids were.
But things went great. Todd made xmas quesidillas (he came up with that all by himself, folks), made sure to have a special dessert planned out, and even brought home donuts the next morning. I tried to get him to do a guest blog post all about it, but, well, I got DENIED.
Anyways, this whole event was just too cute not to share!

Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


OK, first off, I have to say that the Portland Public Library is awesome. I recently found out that you can check out an electricity monitor called a kill-a-watt that lets you see how many watts different devices use while plugged in to your power outlets. Needless to say, I borrowed it and the thing is pretty sweet. You can compare the power usage of different appliances to one another and also see how much electricity devices use while plugged in but NOT turned on (this is know as a vampire charge). I was happy to find that my cell phone charger did not use any electricity while plugged in when my phone wasn't attached but was shocked to find out the our double-strand of Christmas lights use about 10 times the wattage as our table lamp! I have been making sure the holiday lights get unplugged before bed each night now that I now what an electricity drain they are..... I know I should get the LED kind, which use much less electricity, but they make me crosseyed and feel like I am going to have a seizure.
If you ever come across a kill-a-watt and have a chance to bring it home (check your local library!), it's pretty neat to see and compare the power usage around your home. It even turned into a betting game of sorts for us. Now that I am more acutely where of what devices are using the most power, I am making better decision in powering things down when not in use.
Have you ever used a kill-a-watt?
Pin It Now!

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Handmade Holiday

Well, my 2 big projects I was hoping to finish in time for Christmas are still on my needles: a hooded sweater and a felted stocking, both for Phoebe. In the meantime though, I have been busy creating a few other handmade holiday gifts:

felted acorn ornaments:
the idea for these came from Rhythm of the Home's tutorial for acorn necklaces. I just made the string a wee bit shorter so that they were the perfect size for ornaments. And I sort of suck at making felted balls, so mine don't look quite as nice.. ;)

A set of 12 hand-dyed  play silks for Finn. I dyed these (with my friend's advice) using water colors and they came out great. It was definitely a messy project, but they look pretty sweet!

A "Be Merry" bunting. I actually made this to sell in my etsy shop, but haven't yet been able to get a presentable picture of the whole thing. It may be a little late at this point!

Some kimono xmas PJs for Miss P. I used the same pattern as I did for these, but just made the arms longer.

And, of course, we have been busy making cookies. On tomorrow's agenda are a couple of batches of saltine toffee, my favorite holiday treat. You can find my super super special recipe for them here.

Hope all you crafty mamas are getting your holiday gifts finished up in time! Pin It Now!

And the WInner Is..

The winner of the last-minute holiday ornament giveaway is.....

........wait for it.........

Kimberly over at The Wyatt Zoo!!

And, if I am not mistaken, it is also her birthday today, so it just seems fitting.
Thanks to all of you who entered! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yarn Along and a Giveaway Reminder

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for another Yarn Along. I haven't made nearly as much progress (on my reading or knitting!) as I would have liked since I last joined in yarn along 2 weeks ago. I have been doing much more sewing and socializing (which is good), but it hasn't left much time for reading or knitting.
I am still reading Saving Fish From Drowning and am about halfway through. I also just got Earth from Above and Collapse from my local library and I am eager to dive into both of those.
In the knitting world I am still working on Phoebe's second sweater (Debbie Bliss' dufflecoat). I am getting there, but the hood seems to be taking forever. I have barely made any progress on Phoebe's stocking, and the pressure is seriously on now! Only 11 days left! Do you see all those balls of yarn in the photo? That is how much I need to knit up in the next week and a half. Yikes.... not sure if I will complete both of these in time. At least she is only 9 months and won't really know if her stocking was done in time for the holidays or not... right?
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Are you under any holiday time lines?

My last-minute giveaway for a holiday ornament closes tonight! The winner will be announced in the morning. Hope you join in.... Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giving (And the Sweetest 4 Year Old)

This year we have been trying to instill in Finn that the true meaning behind Christmas is not just getting presents, but giving presents, sharing what you have, and spending time with family and friends. Since he is only 4, we decided that showing him this, through actions, would speak much louder than words.
So last week, the family headed out for a trip to buy some canned goods and some toys to share with those less fortunate. We brought the toys to our local fire station where they were having a toy drive. And, lucky for Finn, he was able to get a tour of the station when he dropped off the toys! We brought the food to a local emergency center that helps those in need. When we get there, there was a huge line waiting for handouts of food. It was awesome for Finn to get to see us bringing something for others and seeing the actual people who were going to receive it.
We also talked about Heifer International and how they help families in need by providing them with animals (this was spurred by a catalog full of pictures of animals that we got in the mail. What 4 year old could resist that?)... Finn decided that he and I would pool some money and buy a family a share of a goat. We each took $5 from our savings (Finn's from a money jar that has about $12 total and my "savings" was actually my credit card). It was so sweet to see him get excited about this and I hope to make it a yearly tradition.
To top it off, the next day my sweet sweet boy told all of his friends at school that Christmas is not really about getting presents but about giving things to others (his teacher told me this when I picked him up). Is that not the cutest, sweetest thing you have ever heard? I mean, no doubt that when he wakes up Christmas morning and finds that Santa has been to our house, he will be ecstatic. Honestly, I am so excited to see him find his presents that I feel like a kid again! But to know that my little boy is so willing to share makes me happy beyond belief. At least I know I have done something right in terms of parenting.. (maybe that negates my threats about Santa not coming if he doesn't start listening... ?).
I have good memories of always participating in toy, food and coat drives when I was growing up and I am glad I am finally getting a chance to pass those memories along. 

Tomorrow is the last day to enter my last-minute giveaway for a holiday ornament! Pin It Now!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for another weekending post....

This weekend had some ups and some downs...
A Friday night call to the emergency room
after Phoebe woke at 11 o'clock with a flushed face
and a temperature of only 95.4 F!
Fevers I am used to, but a low temp was a mystery...
still not sure why it dropped so low...
and the worry has not completely disappeared.

Saturday was the day we planned on volunteering
together, as a family, to do some planting.
However, with Phoebe's scare the night before,
plans changed
and we made our way to a holiday film instead.
We made the best ever snowflakes
for the second year running,
And took the dogs for a jaunt in the park.
Some sewing, some knitting, and some last minute shopping
also made their way into the day.
I finished the night with some knitting in bed
while netflix documentaries were filling my head.

Sunday morning was quite lazy:
A leisurely breakfast, a walk with the dogs.
Some cleaning, some sewing, some ornament making.
After lunch came an adventure:
A holiday train with a few of Finn's friends!
There was garland and lights and holiday tunes
And... someone special was there,
his name starts with S and he dresses in red.
I bet you can guess who it is!
The train adventure was followed by
a dinner disaster at a Mexican restaurant.
Back to the house for
bath time and jammies
and 2 tuckered kids all tucked in their beds.

How was your weekend?

P.S. - Don't forget to enter my last-minute giveaway! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last-Minute Holiday GIVEAWAY!!

Whoooo's ready for the holidays?!? Since we have been trying to teach Finn that the true meaning behind Christmas is giving (and not just 'getting'), I thought maybe I should do some of that giving myself. So, I want to offer one of you lucky folks a hand-made recycled-felt holiday ornament. Just go to my etsy shop and check out my 2 ornaments and come here to leave a comment telling me if you would prefer a penguin or an owl. (If you choose an owl it may not be the exact one pictured here... I have been using different fabric for each of the wings). I will use a random number generator to select a winner!
Comments will close at midnight PST on Wednesday the 14th so that I can get it shipped to the winner in time for Christmas! Please make sure you include your email address if you are a no-reply blogger. Thanks!

And I am still looking for a couple more mamas to participate in a book exchange! Please join in! It will be so much fun! Pin It Now!

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Christmas Cheer and Not-Your-Average Christmas Tree

This past week we have been busy as beavers adorning our little home with lights and holiday cheer. Finn is so excited by every decoration that we put up and seeing the smile that lights up his face is definitely the true meaning behind the holidays.
Anyways, we had a bit of a Christmas tree dilemma this year. My asthma got horrible while I was pregnant with Phoebe, and has not returned to pre-pregnancy levels (and it seems unlikely that is ever will- bummer!). Last year, I had a terrible time bringing a live tree into our small home, and it made my asthma flare up (bad enough to warrant a trip to urgent care even). So, since my asthma is still horrible, we decided that bringing a live tree in probably wasn't the best idea (plus, it isn't exactly the most environmentally friendly thing to do either). I started to research other options, but there weren't many. Did I really want to pay hundreds of dollars for a fake plastic tree (that is definitely not eco-friendly either) and then have to store this monstrosity for 11 months out of the year in our already tiny home... nope. I thought about a teeny-tiny fake tree, but I knew that wouldn't be the same for Finn; we wouldn't be able to put lights or real ornaments on it... no presents would sit beneath it. Every other option I found seemed a bit kooky- wall decals, metals poles. Nothing seemed right.
Well, about a month ago, a huge branch from our neighbor's maple tree fell into our yard during a windstorm. At the time I was annoyed, because it could have hurt someone (like our ducks). This is a tree that is much too big for the city lot it is in, and it shades several backyards out almost entirely during the summer so we are not able to grow food back there. The maple leaves and seeds cover our yard for a good portion of the year, and although I love trees, this one is a bit unruly and needs to be trimmed. It's just not safe. Our next door neighbor has talked to them several times, to no avail, and it seems like someone will need to actually be hurt before they will take action. Anyways, it suddenly came to me that maybe this branch that fell into our yard could be our holiday tree. Sure, it didn't have any leaves, but it did have a sort of tree shape to it. Plus it was free and we were going to have to figure out something to do with it anyways. Behold, our Christmas tree.
My husband was skeptical at first, and Finn kept whining and telling me he wanted a real tree. But, once we brought it inside and decorated it with lights and ornaments, everyone was please with the results. Our free, eco-friendly, asthma-friendly, re-purposed tree. Maybe it will become a new tradition. p.s.- All of the pictures I have taken of it are horrible, as without leaves there is a lot of distraction from our cluttered house!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Handmade Holidays

I have been finishing up some handmade holiday gifts over the past few weeks....

Some cute-critter felt ornaments :

A few field bags (from SouleMama's new book The Rhythm of Family) for some of the children on my list:

Some personalized onesies and travel bags:

And, of course, Finn had to make some salt dough ornaments for friends and loved ones to join in the hand made spirit (can you find the one ornament that is not holiday themed? If you guessed the mustache, you are correct! thanks dear husband for your lovely participation):

Our recipe for salt dough ornaments can be found here. However, this year, I mixed food coloring into the dough before we cut out the shapes. It was quite hard to get it mixed in, but I think it was less messy for Finn.
I still have a few projects that I am trying to finish up before Christmas, but with busy schedules, holiday parties, the end of the term, and the millions of other things happening in our lives.. I am not sure if they are going to get done in time or not. I am trying to work on just accepting that for now...

If you are scrambling for holiday gifts and want to give hand made (you know you do!) but don't have the time, check out the Handmade Holiday Directory where you can find hand made treasures by mamas, like myself!

What are YOU making for the holidays? Pin It Now!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Loves Getting Books in the Mail?!?

Ivey over at Durango Mom got me involved in a children's book share. It is basically like the chain letters I have tried to avoid for most of my life; however, this one seems pretty darn awesome. Basically, you send a book to the first person on the list, and (if everyone participates), your child(ren) will get 36 books in exchange! Even is there is only 50% participation, 18 new books in the mail is pretty sweet for a youngster. Especially the surprise and anticipation of not knowing which books they will be or when they will arrive. Sounds fun, right?

So, I am looking for 6 4 mamas to participate- send out one book and get a bunch in return. Easy peasy.

If you are interested, leave a comment with your email, or email me directly at: tarynoakley(at)gmail(dot)com

Hope you decide to join in!! Pin It Now!


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for my first weekending post....

This weekend was full of Christmas spirit
And lots of family time too
Hanging lights and Christmas cheer
Making salt dough ornaments (and a mustache too)
We finished up gifts to wrap and mail
Saturday breakfast out on the town
and a wee break from dish duty for mom
A walk through our favorite park,
A birthday party for Finn's dear friend
And a date night to a Christmas party....
(A fabulous night, with lots of moments to be left unsaid)
Sunday brought a slow morning
A bit of sewing, a few photos too
In the afternoon, a brisk and sunny walk to the library,
with cookies shared on the walk home.
A pot of soup to warm the bones
A tree brought inside (more on that later)
And adorned with lights, decoration and love.
A quiet evening with some yarn
and a moment to take a deep breath.

How was your weekend?

Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reducing My Impact: A Year Long Adventure. Month 8- Reducing Consumption

For the past 7 months I have been trying to reduce my impact on the Earth, with a different focus for each month. For the month of December I will be focusing on permanently reducing my family's consumption of stuff. And the timing is pretty fitting if I do say so myself.... the holidays tend to be times of complete over-comsumption, and I hope that I can change that just a wee bit.
I am not going to forgo buying anything, or claim that I will never buy a new item again, but I want to re-focus the way my family and I think about buying things. About needs versus wants. And about quality. Before bringing something into the house, I want to make sure it is something we need, not just something we want. Is there a space for it? What is it's purpose? Do I like it enough to keep it until it is no longer useful? Also, deciding to buy high quality items that will last a long time instead of having to continuously replace things. For example, last year we bought Finn a $20 pair of rainboots which had holes in them 2 months into the winter. This year, we splurged and bought a $50 pair from a local shop, but we know that they will make it through this winter and it is likely that Phoebe will be able to use them and then we can pass them down again. So, in the long run we are probably saving money, and we are using fewer resources in the process. Plus, in buying local, we were able to keep the money circulating within our own economy.
We are also trying to indulge more in experiences instead of 'things'. For Finn's birthday we asked for memberships to the local children's museum and science playground... so instead of more stuff to store and take car of, he could have access to somewhere fun and exciting on a rainy day.
We already do try to make or buy a lot of what we need used, but I do sometimes get lazy or buy something as a splurge, so there is definitely room for improvement.. trying to be more prepared for things like birthday or holiday gift giving, for example. This year I am not going to be able to make as many handmade gifts as I had hoped because (once again) I did not leave myself enough time. I really do need to start preparing next summer! And keeping my eye out at the second-hand shops for things I will need in the future, instead of waiting until the last minute, not finding what I need, and having to buy it new.
Lastly, in terms of food, I want to reduce what we are purchasing, by using everything we buy and letting nothing go to waste. We are really good at forgetting stuff in the back of the fridge, which ultimately means that we need to buy more food to replace what we lost.
Yesterday, Finn actually said to me "mom, our house is really tiny (which it is), so I think we need a bigger house". I asked him why he thought we needed a bigger house and his response was "so that we can have more stuff". This launched me into a deep discussion (with a 4 year old, mind you) about needs versus wants and how we really didn't need anything. It made me realize that the best way for him to learn this is through watching his parents make good choices.
For more on the environmental impacts of your "stuff", check out my previous post on The Story of Stuff.
Do you have any good tips for reducing consumption? Pin It Now!

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

9 Months...

Today my little gal is 9 months old! She is completely different from Finn at 9 months. He was very mobile.....crawling and  rolling everywhere, and always just wanting to stand and bounce on your legs. Phoebe on the other hand, is usually content to just sit and watch the world go by. She hasn't shown any interest in getting anywhere, and is just my mellow baby who is living in the moment. It seems appropriate for this time around as I am really trying to soak up and enjoy these baby times and I am in no hurry for her to grow up. Happy 9 months Miss P! Pin It Now!