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!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wishing for Sunny Weather...

For me, this weekend was a weekend of longing for sunny days. Portland has been dreary and rainy, and while the rest of the country is donning their tanks and flip-flops, we have been living in our wellies and raincoats. So, this weekend we tried to snap out of the funk and just pretend that we were having the wonderful weather that everyone else was having and we still enjoyed some outdoor adventures (even if we did get wet).

We explored some new forest

Found a really cool (if a bit scary) bridge

Saw a salamander

And played at the river. Who says it's not almost summer?

And I know that the dogs had fun!

Pin It Now!

Friday, May 28, 2010

This Moment....

Inspired by SouleMama

Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

EcoArt: A Review

Ecoart!: Earth-Friendly Art and Craft Experiences  for 3-To 9-Year-Olds (Williamson Kids Can! Series)
Ecoart! by Laurie Carlson is a great little book that gives some cute ideas for home-made, earth-friendly art projects. She has recipes for home-made glues, projects that involve making your own beads from home-made clay, instructions on how to press flowers and some great ideas for projects using the dried flowers. Plus, near the end she gets into an outdoor section with ideas for wreaths, bird feeders, mini-gardens, earthworm homes and so much more. This one is definitely worth checking out from your local library, or may even become a favorite on your craft book shelf!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where does your electricity come from?

Most of us probably have no clue what the actual source of our electricity is. When you start the dishwasher or turn on the stereo, where did that electricity originate from? One of my classes this term has focused on energy.. how energy is produced, our dependence on fossil fuels, renewable alternatives, and how our obsession with oil is leading to unprecedented changes in our global climate.

Most of the sources used to produce the electricity we use leave hefty environmental and health impacts:
Coal poses safety hazards to mine and completely destroys the environment. Much coal mining today simply removes the entire tops of mountains, which causes deforestation, erosion, water pollution and decimates entire ecosystems. Coal is the dirtiest of all the the fossil fuels and releases large amounts of CO2 ( a greenhouse gas) as well as pollutants that cause acid rain. Coal provides more than 50% of the electricity for the United States.
Nuclear Power contributes less to global warming and air pollution, but we are faced with the fact that we currently have no safe way to dispose of our accumulating nuclear waste. And, since some of it may be around for 100's of 1,000's of years, we had better figure out something quickly. Plus, there is always the risk of another Chernobyl.
Natural Gas is fairly clean burning, but still releases CO2. And, moving it from place to place requires either liquefying it or building large pipelines. These pipelines intersect ecosystems and can be detrimental to wildlife. Plus, our supply of natural gas will likely only last another 25 years or so.
Even some of our 'renewable' sources of power such as hydro-electric are not as sustainable as one may think..... the dams that are used to create electricity change stream conditions below the dam, destroy ecosystems, hinder fish migration, and change natural flood cycles.
Our best options for clean power are solar, wind and geothermal (and even these are not 100% problem-free), but currently, these clean power sources are making up only a small percentage of our total electrical usage.

Do some online research and find out what sources your electricity provider uses to generate power. Are there ways that you can choose to have your electricity come from more environmentally friendly sources?

If you live in OR, WA, CA, ID, UT, or WY, check out the Blue Sky Renewable Energy program. You can use their environmental impact calculator to see how much it will cost for you to purchase renewable energy and to see how much of a difference your switch actually makes.
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our Day in the Mud

This time of year in Portland is hard (for me anyways) because the rest of the country is having spring, and we are still having winter. So yesterday we braved the chill and the mud and decided to spend some time in nature. I think Finn and I both needed it!
We found lots of big trees (which continue to amaze me, even though I see them on a regular basis)

We saw 2 snails scooting across the trail,

Quite a few slugs (of course),

And some unfurling ferns.
When we got back to the car, Finn said to me " Mommy! We did it! What a beautiful hike!".
My thoughts exactly, kiddo.

Pin It Now!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Freezer Paper Stenciled Bean Bags

This weekend I finished up some bean bags for Finn. I got the idea from Lil Blue Boo, and she actually has a great bean bag tutorial on her page. The biggest challenge for me was stenciling the letters of his name onto the scraps of fabric... when you use fabric paint on a t-shirt, the material is absorbent. When you are stenciling onto these cotton prints, however, they are not absorbent, and the paint will easily run if you put too much on at one time (this was actually my second attempt, as the first round looked awful). This time I used a sponge to apply the fabric paint (instead of a brush) and I also kept a rag behind each square as I painted it to help absorb extra... the letters still ran a tiny bit in a few places, but it was acceptable enough for me. Finn loves them (and even slept with the "F" last night) but they have become a weapon of sorts as well. Be careful not to make them too heavy! Pin It Now!

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Moment...

Inspired by SouleMama

Pin It Now!

Reducing Your Environmental Cancer Risk

For a quick list of tips on how to reduce your risk of cancer, check out the most recent report by the President's Cancer Panel. Many of the tips are relatively easy (but oftentimes more expensive) such as choosing organically grown food, not using plastics that contain BPA, and filtering your drinking water. Other tips include using a headset with your cell phone, wearing sunblock and having your home tested for radon.
Cancer seems to be coming at us from every angle these days, so the more risks you can reduce or eliminate, the better. Take 3 minutes to read the report and then challenge yourself to make a lifestyle change that will reduce your risk of cancer. Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dino Grahams

Everyone loves graham crackers, right? How about making your own? My friend Wintry pointed me to a great homemade graham cracker recipe from Smitten Kitchen. This week we made them in the shape of dinosaurs.... definitely a big hit for the toddlers. Just be prepared to be constinantly bombarded with "I want another graham cracker.....". Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Farm for the Future

This week, I gave the students in one of my classes an assignment to watch a BBC film entitled A Farm for the Future. This film discusses the idea of peak oil, and the fact that our agricultural system is closely tied to fossil fuels (from the fuel for machinery to synthetic fertilizers to pesticides... all of which require oil). This means that as our fossil fuel supplies dwindle, we will have to come up with a new system of producing food to support the masses.
The idea this film presents is moving our agricultural system towards permaculture. Permaculture is a way of growing food that mimics natural ecosystems. So instead of clearing land and planting things in long rows, you design your garden in layers that includes trees, shrubs, vines, understory and groundcover. All of the plants you choose have a function, whether it is food production, mulch production, nitrogen fixer, insect attractor, or pest control. And the way you design your garden allows these plants to do jobs for each other to maximize your production of food. What this means for the humans is that these gardens take a lot of time and energy to plan and prepare (as one must gain sufficient knowledge of how plants work and interact, and then put that knowledge to work in the design phase). However, once the garden is planted and established, it will require very minimal care as plants will be there to fertilize and mulch and you don't have to do it yourself.
Permaculture can produce immense amount of food off of minimal land (as having so many layers allows for constant food), however, our main staples, like grains, do not grow well in a system like this. So, switching to permaculture requires not only a shift in how things are grown, but also a shift in what people are going to eat.
I think the concept of permaculture is fantastic, and we are actually (very slowly) turning our yard into a permacultre-based system. However, due to our very small lot size and minimal funds, it is happening piece by piece over time and not all at once. I think shifting our entire agricultural system to permaculture is still a ways off, as it would take convincing the masses to change the way that they eat, but as oil supplies continue to be depleted, we may soon have no other choice.
A great intro to permaculture is the book Gaia's Garden, which I have already written a review of.
You can currently watch the film A Farm for the Future online here, or google "Farm for the Future" and look for an available link. If nothing else, it will at least open your eyes to a new way of food production! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Octopus Tee

My newest creation in the world of freezer paper stencils... Mr. Octopus. Finn is very proud of this shirt and tells everyone he meets that his mama made it for him (awww, break my heart). Pin It Now!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend of Gardening

This weekend Portland had wonderful weather, and at our house, we spent most of the weekend outside prepping and planting our garden.

We went to the farmer's market and bought our tomato and pepper starts

Planted our corn for our 3 sisters and planted potatoes in our road strip

We built a tee pee for Finn that will (hopefully) have beans trellising around it

Awhile back, we salvaged an old bathroom cabinet and repaired it to use as a storage area for duck food and other outdoor items. Yesterday I finally got it painted.

And this morning, we had our biggest slug-hunt in our family history. We must have collected well over 100 of the little buggers. Needless to say, our ducks were very excited.

Pin It Now!

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Moment...

Inspired by SouleMama

Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some Recent Creations...

I have not been in much of a crafty mood in recent weeks, but in the past few days my creativity has rekindled and I have motivated to do a bit of crafting. I made a knitted gnome baby hat and a couple of freezer paper stenciled onsies for a baby who is due to arrive any day now. I also managed to whip out a freezer paper stencil for Finn who gets very excited about craft days. Unfortunately, as I was just about to start painting these, I left the room for one quick moment, and, by the time I had returned, Finn had unscrewed the top of one of the bottle of fabric paint and had dumped it all over himself and the floor. I now know that fabric paint does wash out of hair and off bamboo floors; it does not, however, wash out of fabric. A sad day for Finn's pants, and a good lesson learned by mom.. never trust a 2 year old alone with fabric paint. I suppose I could have figured that out without experiencing it, but I know that I will never chance it again! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Food Matters: A Review

Over the weekend I watched the film Food Matters. It was OK and held my attention, but I feel like the information could have been better organized and presented in a more exciting way. Many of the topics were brushed over and ideas weren't as fully explained as I had hoped. It made me wonder if everything they were saying had scientific information to back it up, or if some information was not yet fact. I guess with the release of Food Inc., the bar was set in terms of organized information presented in a meaningful way.... and Food Matters fell below that bar. However, there was some good information in there, including some topics that I hope to delve into further with my own research.
The film starts out talking about the importance of including raw food in your diet (which I already knew), saying that if every time you eat your meal contains less than 51% raw food, your body with have an immune reaction and basically attacks itself (which I had never heard of). I suppose it can't hurt to eat more raw, and this is one of those topics I want to look into more. The film also talked about the politicization of the pharmaceutical industry and how a healthy diet has been shown to cure even terminal cases of cancer. It also discusses (briefly) how amalgam fillings act as a poison on our bodies (this I have already done my own research into, as I have several amalgam fillings in my mouth and have already removed quite a few). Another interesting point the film brings up is how vitamins are truly important to our diet. Many doctors will tell you not to bother and I have talked to wastewater treatment plant workers that say you can see piles of vitamin pills in the sewage that appear not to have been broken don whatsoever. I do take vitamins, but have always been a bit skeptical about how much of them we actually absorb. This film swears by their use however, and even stresses the idea that taking extremely high doses of certain vitamins can cure serious illnesses, including depression.
So, some interesting stuff in this film, but again, I felt like it could have used an overhaul. Still worth the watch though if you are concerned with your health and what you eat! You can watch the trailer here. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We're Goin' On a Slug Hunt!

One of our favorite family past-times these days is hunting for slugs to feed to our ducks. The ducks will hunt for slugs on our own, but we keep them in the backyard and our front yard is overrun with those slimy suckers.
One of the best benefits of our ducks is that they actually love to eat slugs. Ewww. But, I find it both intriguing and magical that they can take a food source that almost nothing else would eat (certainly not me!) and turn it into a food source for me- eggs! (well, eventually at least... our ducks have another couple months before they start laying eggs, and we are starting to believe that 2 of our 3 females are actually males. humph.) But, the slug eating is still really cool... a completely non-toxic way to manage our garden pests (we have already had offers from the neighbors to bring slugs from their yard over.. and the answer is yes! ). Plus, slug-hunting is a great way to bond with a toddler. Anything that is gross and slimy and that gets eaten alive by ducks just has to be cool, right? Pin It Now!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother's Day Adventure

Yesterday, my family treated me to a wonderful Mother's Day Adventure. I thought I would share some of it here.I woke up to my son giving me a hand-painted pencil holder

Then, after a lovely breakfast, we went on a nice little hike

with really big rocks....

and we picked some flowers

Then we finished off the day with a trip to Cirque de Soleil.
What a wonderful day to be a mama!

Pin It Now!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Today I am feeling blessed to have such a wonderful family and such a curious little boy to explore the world with!
Pin It Now!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Pin It Now!

Friday, May 7, 2010

This Moment...

Inspired by Soule Mama

Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Home-Made Seed Bars

Ever had one of those delicious Bumblebars? This week I decided to try and recreate the recipe in my own kitchen... I must say that it came out pretty tasty! It doesn't have quite the same consistency as the store-bought kind (it doesn't stick together as well), but for a lower cost, less packing and home-made, I can overlook that fault. If anyone has any tips on how to make it stick a bit better, please fill me in.

What You Need:
  • 1.5 cups sesame seeds
  • 1 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/8 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbl. honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbl vanilla
What You Do:
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Grease a 9x13 baking dish (I used olive oil spray) and spread mixture into it. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Cut into squares after it has cooled and hardened. I have been storing my in the fridge (as to reduce the stickiness factor).
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

When I did some research yesterday and found out that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration for Mexico winning a war against France, I was not quite as excited to celebrate it as I have been in the past. But hey- any excuse for a margarita is a good holiday for me! In honor of this Mexican day of festivities, we had our own Mexican-inspired morning.

We made Mexican eggs for breakfast

We made tissue paper flowers from used tissue paper (hence the wrinkles)....

Which inspired us to dance...

And we made chili peppers to decorate our holiday tree (we had to take the picture outside because the lighting in our house in horrible).

I hope that festivities will continue after I am done with work tonight with a yummy margarita from the taqueria down the street.
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Build-A-Birdhouse Take 2!

Yesterday, Finn and I decided to build a new milk-carton birdhouse in celebration of spring. If you are curious, you can check out the 2009-edition birdhouse here. Finn loves to watch our feathered friends come to feed in our yard (heck, so do I!) and birds are great garden helpers as well: they eat pesky pests and they fertilize with their poop!

To build this birdhouse, you will need:
  • an empty and clean milk carton
  • dowel
  • scissors
  • sturdy string or wire (I used hemp)
  • glue (I used hot glue)
  • a small square of cardboard
  • construction paper, paints, glitter, stickers, or any other decorating materials.
First, poke a hole through both sides of the milk carton, near the bottom. Now insert your dowel through and you have a perch! Choose one of the sides that already has a hole at the bottom, and cut out a door/window for the birds to feed from.
Next, poke a hole through the center of the top lip of the carton. Measure your cardboard square so that it is the approximate correct size to make a roof. Fold the roof in half, so that it slopes, and poke a hole on each side of the roof, close to the center line. Thread your sturdy string or wire through one roof hole, then through the carton, then through the other roof hole. Tie a knot in the top of the string and whatever length you want it to hang. Now, fold the roof edges down until they touch the sides of the carton, and glue the edge where roof meets carton. Your roof should be stable and secure.
Now decorate your feeder, fill the bottom with bird seed and enjoy your day bird watching! Pin It Now!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Grow Your Own Clean Air

Did you know that indoor air quality is often much worse than the air quality outside? In the developed world this happens because all of our new stuff (furniture, building materials, paints, etc.) off-gasses toxic chemicals for many years AND because most of our homes, especially the newer ones, are well-insulated. Good for your home's efficiency, but not so great for any toxins that are trapped inside your house. We basically fill our homes with toxic stuff and then trap the air in. Hmmm...
Good thing that we have our friends the plants. Plants not only produce oxygen, but are also capable of actually cleaning the air. Plants can remove particulates and capture off-gas (like formaldehyde and benzene). Philodendrons, spider plants and ivy are all good choices for air quality. For a quick 5-minute video that talks about greening your air, check out's How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air.
So, this week, try to find a new plant to adorn your home and clean your air. Thanks plants! Pin It Now!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May Day!

Pin It Now!