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!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Happily joining in with Amanda at Habit of Being for another weekending post. 

Friday night the family headed to the Edgefield,
a fairy-tale feeling hotel and vineyard that does a summer concert series each year.
Furthur was playing,
a favorite band of my husband who loves Phil Lesh.
Surrounded by woods
with a view of the almost-full moon.
Two kids at a concert is hard work.
Much time was spent chasing Phoebe
until she finally fell asleep on my back.

Saturday morning the husband let me sleep in until 7:45!
What a treat.
Now that we have a child in school,
we are up every day at 6 am. 
And while I like the idea of getting up early,
my body usually does not.
After coffee and breakfast, we headed to the farmers market.
We ran into some friends, ate a few goodies,
and got some food for weekend dinners.

Todd and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon rearranging furniture
and organizing and purging the garage, which we use as a storage area.
It amazes me that no matter how much we seem to purge,
it always seems like there is too much stuff!
A very early dinner of tacos (and margaritas!), and Todd headed back to the Edgefield for more Furthur, while me and the kiddos stayed home
and watched Chimpanzee.
After the kids went down,
I had some alone time with netflix and my knitting needles.

Saturday night I was struck by insomnia,
which meant that Sunday I was running on about
3 hours of sleep....
Did some sewing, some cleaning, some working,
and a lot of lazing...
Finn and I spent a bit of time in the garden,
went shopping for new pants for school,
and did some art together.
Took Finn to a birthday party-
one of his oldest friends.
Dinner and wine at home with Todd
after the kids were in bed.
And now I am off to rest my head!

Another full week with early mornings...
there never seems to be enough time! Pin It Now!

Friday, September 28, 2012

This Moment: Climbing

{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.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finn's Art Space

Finn's art space. Sadly, this is about as clean as it gets!
 Finn is an amazing artist. On a normal day, he spends1-2 hours on art projects, most of them ones that he initiates and carries out completely on his own. His creativity amazes me.... from recycled art to paintings of people with super-human qualities to intricate scenes where an entire story is happening. I have always enjoyed art. I took a drawing class in college, love to be crafty, and spend a lot of time with my camera. But drawing and painting are not my forte, and I am seriously impressed with what Finn can come up with.
Anyways, creativity takes space and often makes a big mess. And, in an 800 square foot house, space is what we don't have (although, usually we do have a mess!). So, over time, I have been moving more and more of Finn's art supplies to our covered back porch, and giving him free reign over creating art out there. He has a table, an easel, plenty of storage and ample floor space. In essence, it has become Finn's studio. I must say that since my crafting workspace (aka mom's studio) consists of the corner of my bedroom, I am slightly jealous of Finn'a creative space... yet thoroughly enjoy that we can provide him with an area to do what he loves.
Finn is a pretty anxious little guy and art seems to be his go-to activity to calm him down. I notice that sometimes he is in a negative mood, but after spending some time creating, he is much more positive and way easier to deal with. I think he just needs to be alone with his imagination and some colors, and it seems to do wonders for him.
He does make a huge mess, and although we try and clean up together each night, it is rarely actually clean. But, I have learned to live with that. We have had to impose some rules about cleaning up (each night) and restrictions on how much paint can be poured at one time. But we are making it work.  Now I just wonder what will happen when the weather gets colder and the back porch is not such an inviting place to be.....
Here is a quick tour of Finn'a Creation Station:

Material storage. Now the paint bin needs adult supervision!

The work table and painting easel.

The paint bin- Finn's favorite!

Works in progress.....
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to Work, Finding Rhythm

I had the summer off. Yup, work-free. Well, work-free is not exactly the correct terminology, since being a mama to 2 young kids is inherently a lot of work. But, I did have the summer off from working at my job as an environmental science instructor at a community college. And it was marvelous to have a break.
I obviously don't bring the kids to work with me while I teach. But, I also don't have childcare for the time that I need to respond to emails, write tests and class plans, grade assignments, and prep for lectures. So, the non-teaching part of my job often gets done in 5 minute increments throughout the day, or at night after the kids are in bed. And, it sort of gets in the way of life at times- there is always something I should be doing. And, it can be hard to find a balance between work and home...I feel like I could (should?) be doing more for my classes; I should be a better teacher, read more on the topics I teach, revamp assignments, and on and on and on. But, I need to remind myself that even though I am a teacher, I am a lot of other things too... and my number one job is mom. So, I am mostly a mom and I squeeze the teaching into the spaces that I can find throughout my days. And, it has worked, but it can be a little stressful... so a summer break was wonderfully needed.
Yesterday, I went back to work to start a new semester. Throughout much of August, I was actually dreading going back (and even sort of wishing I could quit). But as my break has drawn to a close, I started to look forward to going back to life outside the home. Re-finding my rhythm as a working and stay-at-home mom, depending on the day. I am looking forward to spending time with new students, learning from them, and (if all goes well) inspiring them. In all honesty, I love what I do and I feel so lucky that I have a job where I can help people learn to live more sustainably.
Our lives have sort of been in turmoil here lately, sorts of which I am not yet ready to blog. So, going back to work seems like something stable that may help to anchor me through these rough waters I am navigating.
So here is to a new start. A new semester. A new class. And to finding my rhythm after a long (and much needed) break. Pin It Now!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekending (Or, A Duck’s Dance with Death and a Trip to Flock and Fiber)

Joining in with Amanda at Habit of Being for a very late weekending post. Our internet has been out since Saturday and it is finally up and running again. It made me realize how much I rely on the internet for my daily functionings!

This weekend was:

Friday night; a lot on my mind.
A few hours at pub knitting with some very delicious
Cucumber margaritas. I need to find a recipe.

Saturday morning I had faculty meetings at the community college
Where I teach.
I brought along my knitting, and found that I was not the only one!
In the afternoon, the family headed to Crystal Spring Park,
A scenic and much-loved retreat for this family.
The weather was perfect and I can’t imagine a better way
To spend the first afternoon of fall!

A quick stop by a local brew house for a growler of fresh hops,
And home to grill out, beers in hand.

But….. upon arriving home, we realize that
Finn has locked us out of the house.
(He locked the door lock and we only have a key for the deadbolt. And, he locked the back door, which we usually leave open just in case….).
So, we broke in through a window and pushed Finn through.
Soon after the kids turned cranky. Very cranky.
And there was a mad rush to get them fed and put to bed.
After the kids were tucked in, I went to put the ducks in their house
For the night.
The boys flew out of the pond, but Mutter, the female, didn’t get out.
Instead of quacking, she was squeaking.
And instead of shying away from me, she let me stroke her head.
We took her out, and she collapsed on the ground,
Wings akimbo and unable to walk.
She looked like she was near her end….
After a quick internet search, I diagnosed that she was likely
Egg-bound (an egg stuck somewhere inside her).
We brought her in and warmed her in the tub.
I pet her, and sang to her, sure that these were her final moments.
A few hours later, her eyes were bright once again.
Her feathers were no longer ruffled, and her wheeze and turned back into a
We keep her in for the night, and by Sunday morning,
She was quacking up a storm ready to get back with her flock.

Sunday morning started out lazy.
A walk with the dogs
And a pirate play orchestrated by Finn
Then, I headed to Flock and Fiber,
The local yarn and wool extravaganza.
I went with my friend Heidi, and went without the kids,
Which meant that I could truly enjoy every moment.
The animals were adorable and hilarious,
And colors caught my eye everywhere I turned.
Gorgeous yarn and roving,
Almost too much, as it was hard to make any decisions.
But I did come home with a bag of multi-colored roving
And a beautiful skein of yarn to make a hat for ME!
Sunday afternoon was sunny and lazy:
Picking green beans from the garden,
Making curry for dinner,
And looking forward to some quiet time before the start of
Another big week!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Genetically Modified Foods: A Film and Some Ramblings

When Courtney over at A Life Sustained blogged about this film, I knew I had to give it a watch. Genetic Roulette is a documentary about genetically modified foods (GMOs), the health problems they are causing, and the greed behind their creation. I have seen a few films on this subject, but most are very science-heavy. This film included more of the tangible effects of what can and does happen to our bodies when we eat these things. Diseases like autism and asthma, food allergies and diabetes, are all being linked back to genetically modified foods. The film is sobering, and despite the fact that this wasn't new information, it reinstated my anger (at big agro-corporations and at our government) for letting this get so out of control.
We are unintentionally feeding our children food that is harming their bodies and their minds, and sadly, parents have little choice because these foods have inundated our food system. Although Europe and many other areas require GMOs to be labeled, the US has no such rules, and every time the initiative gets put on a state ballot, big corporations spend lots of money to sway people's minds.
I plan on writing (yet another) letter to the FDA and to my local representatives urging them to require labeling of GMOs, to start long-term testing on the food they are feeding us, and to protect future generations from the downward path that we are currently headed down. And in the meantime, since it doesn't seem like our government is doing much to protect us, I will continue to buy organic food (which is GMO-free) as often as possible. For more tips on how to avoid GMOs in your diet, look here.
Watch the film. Write letters. Strive for change. Our kids are depending on us! 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.
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Bean Burgers

I've been trying to branch out our menu repertoire, which at our house is a bit tricky... Husband likes meat, I am a veggie; I have quite a few food allergies and sensitivities, and the kids each have foods that they dislike.
Last week I made a sweet potato white bean burger, inspired by this recipe.  Here is what I did:

Mix together:
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (baked with the insides scooped out)
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini (white) beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • lemon pepper, chilli powder, salt, and nutritional yeast (or whatever spices you have and enjoy) to taste
Coat with panko bread crumbs and heat in a skillet until cooked through.

I served mine with whole grain mustard, pickled peppers, and lettuce, and a side of homemade pickles.... and I must say that it was pretty tasty.  Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Amazing, Non-Toxic Silver Polish

While doing some organizing and purging recently, I noticed that a lot of my silver jewelry was badly tarnished, and needed some love. I hate using chemical products in my home, so I had no silver polish and didn't want to buy any.
After a brief search online, I found an amazingly handy solution: toothpaste! And it worked like a charm. I even use Tom's, a more natural toothpaste than most, and it still worked great. It made me a little nervous that the same stuff I was putting in my mouth could wipe tarnish off of silver, but happy that it was an easy jewelry cleaning solution. Cheap, non-toxic, and always on-hand!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Fall Garden

I am a couple of weeks behind schedule, but I finally got my fall garden planted over the weekend. Fall gardens are always tricky for me... we have a rather small space and big dreams...which means that most of our fall plants and seeds get tucked in between squash vines, amongst pole beans, and anywhere else a patch of unoccupied space resides.
This year I planted kale, lots of beets, chard, lettuce, arugula, mustard greens and radishes. Garlic and shallots will find there way in there in the next few weeks, and I am debating giving some broccoli starts another try (we have had poor luck in the past).
Do you have a fall garden? What are you growing? Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


It has been quite a while since I joined in with Amanda at Habit of Being for a weekending post, but I am oh-so-glad to be back!

This weekend was:

An almost-anniversary date night with the hubbby for dinner and music
Saturday morning in the yard planting our fall garden
A trip to get groceries,
Some chores around home.
A quick nap for a tired mama,
A friend's birthday party at the local amusement park,
Our neighborhood block party (with a bouncy house for the kids!),
And some mama-time out with her lady friends (bliss!).

Sunday, September 16th, my anniversary,
6 years ago today I married my husband!
So much has happened in those 6 years, so many changes....
Yet, how that time has flown....

A relaxing morning
Yoga class for me,
And an afternoon spent enjoying the lovely weather
and tying up some loose ends.
Tonight will be spent together, at home,
enjoying one another's company.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, September 14, 2012

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, September 13, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Since the fall chill is in the air (well, at least in the mornings), I have been inspired to put soup back into the rotation. This week, I made a split pea soup, adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook.

What You Need:
  • 2 cups split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 yellow potatoes, cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • cilantro
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
What You Do:
  • Combine split peas, water, potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  • Add bay leaves, marjoram, salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until all veggies are tender and soup looks creamy.
  • Remove from heat. Add miso and stir well to blend in.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro (if desired).
What is your favorite soup recipe?
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarn Along

It has been several weeks since I have joined in with Ginny at Small Things for a Yarn Along. Honestly, I have done very little knitting since my last yarn along post in early August. We have been so busy traveling and adjusting to our new schedule, and on most of the nights that I have had time to actually pull out my needles, I have been too exhausted to contemplate knitting. Last night I was able to get in a few rows on a birthday gift for a little gal in my life... and while knitting, I was thinking of all of the things I should be (and wanted to be) knitting, so I think I have regained my knitting inspiration. Perfect timing since the chill in the morning air tells me that fall is on it's way. And those Halloween costumes certainly are not going to make themselves!
And reading? Oh boy. I have been in the midst of a reading schizophrenia for the entire end of the summer. Literally, I am reading 7 books right now, and have only finished one book in the last several weeks. Most of these are non-fiction books, as our family has had quite an emotional summer, and reading about issues is the best way for me to process. But, this means that I keep starting new books and not finishing any and the pile keeps growing...... now that we have no travel plans in the near future, I am looking forward to some cozy nights curled up with a book and some knitting (but not at the same time).
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Heirloom Tomato Salad:

Fresh mozerella
Heirloom tomatoes and basil from our garden
drizzled with oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper

Cedar-plank Wild Salmon and Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a Poblano Cream Sauce and shallot-roasted green beans:

We found this yummy gnocchi and loads of poblano peppers at the farmers market over the weekend, and just couldn't resist combining the two. It was pretty yummy!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

School Boy (Or, The First Day of School Blues)

Finn had his first day of "real" school on Friday. Finn is almost 5 and has been going to a wonderful small in-home preschool at his best friend's house for more than 2 years. It was basically like a play date with his favorite people, and he always had a great time.
On Friday, Finn started a new pre-k program at the local Japanese immersion elementary school. The elementary school is the closest one to our house, however, getting in requires an application and a lottery process. Neither Todd nor I have any particular ties to Japan, but we loved the idea of Finn becoming bilingual and being immersed in a different culture. The school is also fantastic compared to most of the other public schools in Portland, and it is often compared to a private school. And while we will have to pay for pre-k and a small fee for full day kindergarten, the remainder of his schooling will be free. Plus, Finn has several friends in this program, at several grade levels, and one of his best friends is in his class with him.
Finn is not so great with transitions.. terrible in fact. We have had to pull him out of swimming lessons (twice!) because he couldn't adjust to a new teacher. Little kids soccer was a no-go for the same reason. And, he just generally has trouble entering any new type of social situation, especially without mom or dad. So... we knew the first day of school likely was not going to be great. We had talked with him, prepared him, role-played, spent time on the school playground over the summer, watched Japanese videos to prepare for the new language.... you name it, I had prepared for it. But, despite all of the preparations, the first day was a bomb.
Friday was only a half day, and only 8 of the normal 25 students were present (the other 17 students had come for half days on either Wednesday or Thursday to give the kids a chance to ease into their new school). The teachers said to make the good-byes quick and not to linger. They said that crying was normal, and that they had never seen a child cry for more than 5 minutes. So, when it was time to leave Finn at the door, we literally had to peel him from our bodies and basically shove him into the classroom. He was screaming and flailing and yelling my name. Todd and I looked at each other, both heartbroken and unsure of what to do, but since the teachers had told us to make the goodbye quick, we put smiles on our faces, waved bye, and headed out. We could hear him crying as we left the building and could still hear him screaming and crying as we walked pass the classroom window. I wanted to run back in and hug him and tell him that everything was going to be OK..... but he needed to do this, right? It was time for him to learn to be more independent, wasn't it? Sure that he would settle down in a few minutes, we headed off to start our days.
Two hours later I get a call from Todd. He hadn't had a chance to check his work voice mail until 10:30, at which point he got a voice mail from the preschool teacher that she had left at 9:30, an hour after we had dropped Finn off. Apparently she did not have Todd's cell number and since my cell phone number is still my Colorado number, she couldn't call the long distance from the classroom. The message said that Finn was having trouble settling down and that she thought we should pick him up early. Yikes. However, by the time Todd got the message and called back, Finn was doing OK and she said that he should stay. My. Heart. Was. Broken.
When I went to pick him up, he was happy and chatting with the teacher and even talking with some of the other kids. I spent a few minutes talking with one of his teachers, and she said he did have a very rough transition. She said that the playground, which was familiar to him because we had spent a lot of time there this summer, was the saving grace that helped to calm him down. We decided that this week, Todd and I would  bring him to school 10 minutes early and we would play with him in the classroom before the other students arrived. We are hoping that after a couple of days, these transitions will go much more smoothly, and he will once again be excited to go to school. But, for now, I am nervous and wondering if we are making the right decision. I am hurting that my little man has so much trouble with transitions and hoping it is something that we can help him move past.
So now I am off to start a new week, with hopes that Finn can be strong, relax, and let himself enjoy his new environment. And I know that I will be stressed and worried all day wondering how he is doing, hoping that he is calm and relaxed! Updates to come.....

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Farmers Market....

This time of year is my favorite time for farmer's markets in Portland. There are still plenty of yummy summer goodies, like berries and peppers, (and corn on the cob has arrived!) but there are also all of the cooler weather delights that I have missed since spring... potatoes, greens, leeks, apples and pears. The variety of colors is amazing, and to me, it is the most delicious time of year.
This morning was a perfect end-of-summer morning, with blue skies and still-warm weather... just perfect for a trip to the market.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

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, September 6, 2012

The End of Summer

Last Friday, the family headed to sunny Colorado. Todd and I met in Colorado, both went to college and spent a long time living in Colorado, and both have a lot of wonderful friends in Colorado. I miss it dearly, and if it was up to me, we would live there. But, it's not... Todd's job is here in Portland, as is the home we own, and, well, Portland is pretty great too. So, if I had to pick a second-best place to live, I guess this is it.
But, I was extremely happy to spend 5 days visiting old haunts, seeing old friends, and letting Finn and Phoebe play with our friend's children.
Unfortunately, the day we got there, Phoebe spiked a high fever, which stayed pretty high until Monday morning. Monday she woke up feeling back to her old (crazy) self, however, Finn must have had a little stomach upset because he threw up (all of our friend's living room). We worried he had the flu, but he felt fine immediately after getting sick. When we finally thought we were in the clear, a rash developed all over Phoebe on the way to the airport Tuesday (probably the end of whatever viral infection that gave her the fever).
By the time we got home Tuesday, Phoebe's rash was fading and everyone else felt fine, aside from being really tired.. Sort of ironic how our entire trip was consumed by sickness, yet the minute we returned home everyone seemed to be fine. Regardless, the trip was fantastic and it was so good to see my old friends. And Finn had so much fun that he keeps asking his dad if we can move to Colorado (good job, buddy!).
Now we are just trying to re-settle in to our non-vacation lives and trying to find a rhythm before Finn starts school TOMORROW(more on that soon)! Luckily, I have a couple of weeks before I start back at work, which should give the family time to find our routine.
Hard to believe that summer is already over. Our August was full of fun and adventure, and that will be missed. But, I think we are ready to settle into a routine, and lead slightly more predictable lives. At least for awhile. Pin It Now!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pinterest- Inspired Crafts

This summer I have found a lot of awesome crafts on pinterest (you can see what I have pinned on my pinterest page). Unfortunately, I found more time to pin stuff than to actually make it, so my to-make list is still really long. For some reason, I always think my summer days are going to be fancy-free and lackadaisical, but in reality, it is usually our busiest time of the year. Anyways, I did get around to making a couple of pinterest-inspired crafts this summer, so come and take a peak:

Cork boats! I saw fancier ones here, but decide to sort of wing my own. I used a hot glue gun, and they floated great, until Phoebe realized that she could pull the corks apart and destroy....

Finn's jet pack. This was so darn cute, I couldn't resist.

And the super cute peacock tutu that I already blogged about here

Have you been pinterest-crafting this summer? Pin It Now!