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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wash Wednesday

Now that we have had some sun and warm weather, I can finally participate in Garden Mama's Wash Wednesday!
Using the sun to dry our clothes is just so much more eco-friendly than a clothes dryer. And, for me, the methodical process of hanging each item up and taking it down again later is almost like a meditation to stop and think about my day. Our backyard doesn't get full sun, but we have finagled a spot that gets enough sun to get our clothes dry. And clothes on the line means non-rainy weather, and THAT sounds great to me!
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Curried Lentil Dip

Here is a new favorite that is great for a picnic lunch, potluck, or snack around the house. Quick and easy, healthy, and super yummy. This recipe has been adapted from Moosewood Restaurant.

What You Need:
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 Tbl. oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 3 peeled and diced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbl lemon juice
  • cilantro (optional)
What You Do:
  • Bring lentils and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes
  • While lentils are cooking, heat oil in skillet and saute the onions, garlic and apples fr about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and spices and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the lentils, the onion mixture and the coconut milk and lemon juice.
  • Top with cilantro and serve with warm pita. Yum!
  • Warning: this does get a bot crusty if left at room temperature for too long, so enjoy while still warm if possible.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dear Bees....

Dear bees,

Thanks for all the hard work you do pollinating my garden!

Taryn Pin It Now!

Friday, June 25, 2010

This Moment...

Inspired by SouleMama:
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Thursday ROAR!

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FLOW: For Love of Water. I showed this film to my class today. This was maybe the 5th or 6th time I have watched it and even after seeing it that many times, I was still moved by what it had to tell me. Needless to say, I think this film is well worthwhile and I decided that it was finally time for me to write up a quick review about it.
The underlying question behind this movie is can individuals own water? Can we buy and sell something that is such a public resource? Should corporations be able to control the global water supply? And if so, how can we call this fair and just?
The film starts out talking a bit about all of the poisons that get into our water supply, from pharmaceuticals to pesticides, fertilizers to fuels. War-fare chemicals were developed into pesticides and we now spray these chemicals on our food. They then runoff into the water supply and we drink them. These are the chemicals we developed to kill our enemies, and now we are knowingly feeding them to ourselves. Chemicals like atrazine, which is a hormone disruptor and is commonly found in water supplies throughout the US.
Maybe we should all just drink bottled water and avoid these pollutants? Nope. First off, many water pollutants are most easily absorbed through our pores while we shower, so we can suffer the effects regardless of if we drink it or not. Secondly, bottled water regulation is basically non-existent. There is one person overseeing all bottled water in the US. Bottled water is often just city tap water, and has been found to contain high levels of arsenic, and who knows what else. Drinking bottled water does not make you safe. Lastly, we just know that all of those water bottles, extra plastic, and extra emissions are just not worth it.
The film then gets into water privatization; for-profit companies taking control over public water supplies. In essence, rich corporations selling water back to extremely poor people for 10 or more times what they paid before privatization. Many of the water privatizations have been forced upon countries by the World Bank (who threatens to cut off funding if water is not privatized), and it is almost never good for the public. How can a poor family who has no income suddenly start paying for water?
FLOW gets into talking about dams being built to store water and how it effects both ecology and human lives in the process. 40-80 million people have been displaced due to the building of dams (damming a river causes a reservoir to form on the upstream side, destroying anything or anyone in the vicinity). Most of these displaced people don't get relocated, or if they do, it is often away from everything familiar to them and away from the fertile lands they were used to farming.
The film also talk about corporate greed of water. Nestle has wells across the US and the film shows the struggle of a town in Michigan to get Nestle out of their town and out of their water supply. Nestle doesn't pay for the water they use (and they don't even have to pay taxes because of exemptions), yet they make millions of dollars off of selling water. In the process, streams and groundwater supplies in the area have been altered, but Nestle still continues to bottle. Coke has been a similar greed-monster. In Plachimada, India, the coke plant caused wells to run dry, polluted water, and the plant dumped it's toxic by-product onto nearby farmlands as "fertilizer". These corporations are bad neighbors and destroy the lives of those around them.
How can corporations come into a town and decide to use up or pollute the water supply? Why doesn't anybody stop them? Whose right is it to bottle up a town's water and turn around and make a huge profit off it? As global water supplies are dwindling, we need to ask ourselves who our water belongs to... does our water belong to them (the corporations) or does it belong to ALL of us. Water is essential for life, so we should do what we can to make sure each individual gets what they need.
Hooray for this film!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wax Paper Pressed Flowers

To celebrate the arrival of summer (at least on the calendar, as Portland is still having very non-summer weather), Finn and I made some wax paper pressed flowers to hang on our holiday tree. We collected some flowers from our yard and pressed them in between the pages of a very heavy book for a couple of days. We then placed them in between 2 piece of wax paper with one towel underneath the bottom piece of wax paper and another thin (kitchen not bathroom) towel on top of the wax paper sandwich. Then we ironed with a medium-hot iron until the wax paper sealed around the flowers and then we cut them out. We punched a hole in the top of each one and strung ribbon through so that they could hang like ornaments. Simple, but fun. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biomimicry: A Review

I was introduced to the work of Janine Benyus by a student of mine about a year and a half ago, and have been meaning to read this book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, ever since. This summer, I decided it was going to be a priority for my summer reading list, and it is the first one that I get to cross off.
The first thing I have to say about this book is that the concepts behind it are fabulous... if you want to learn more about Janine Benyus and what she does, check out her talks: Janine Benyus shares nature's designs and Biomimicry in action. The second thing is that this book is a little outdated; no fault of the author, just my fault for not reading it until 13 years after it was first published. This means that some of the ideas she has or predictions she made never did pan out the way she hopes, which almost puts the reader into some new reality where the present is still the future.
Anyways,... the whole premise of this book is that our society and our globe would be so much better off if we would model our actions after the natural world (mimicking biology = biomimicry) instead of doing things how we currently are (which is completely inefficiently and with lots of waste). The book is split into several sections, each answering a question of how we will tackle an obstacle of our life if we no longer follow the rules of a modern society, but instead follow only the rules of nature. The sections include: How will we feed ourselves?, How will we harness energy?, How will we make things?, How will we heal ourselves?, How will we store what we learn? and How will we conduct business. These are all questions that we will likely be presented with in the forseeable future if we continue to pollute and use resources at current rates.
The first section I absolutely loved, especially as I am really into sustainable agriculture. She mentions permaculture, the way of farming that tries to mimic a nature ecosystem, as well as Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution (also on my summer reading list), which is a farming method that involves little human manipulation. The second section which focused on harnessing energy, however, made me realize that she is a biologist (and I am not), and although the overall information was interesting, there was a whole lot of detail on the process of photosynthesis (way more than I care to remember). I started to feel like this chapter was long and drawn out and found my attention span waivering. The section on how will we make things again had some interesting ideas again had some fascinating concepts, like talking about how mussels adhere to rocks underwater and how spider silk is stronger than steel yet made without intense heat, pressure, or nasty chemicals. However, I once again started to feel bogged down by the overload of biology that went with the concepts.
How will we heal ourselves was awesome. My favorite chapter of this book. It talked about finding natural medicines by watching how animals heal themselves; what they eat when they have a parasite infection for example. There is even a section on a certain type of monkey that seems to be able to choose the gender of their offspring by eating alkaline or acidic food during mating season. Amazing stuff. The section on storing our ideas basically focused on using a carbon based system instead of a silicon based system to "compute" ideas... so in essence, replacing computers as we know them by living organisms that could produce similar results, and even better results because these biological computers could "think" more than today's versions. This was where I started to feel like I was in a time warp, as she talked about the biological computers and suggested that early version may be available in the next 5 years or so.... that would have been 7 years ago from today, and the idea still sounds kooky to me. The last section on conducting business was again a bit outdated. A lot of the concepts that were talked about clearly haven't worked, as here we are 13 years later, and we are still destroying our environment at a sprinter's clip. The book mentions the buying and selling of pollution permits (which had just gone into effect when the book was piblished) as the ah-ha moment that was going to change industry, and now, looking back, we know that is not the case.
Anyways, despite this book being a bit outdated, and despite a few sections of way-too-drawn-out-biology for my liking, I still really enjoyed this book. Benyus writes eloquently and presents many ideas to learn from. Ecosystems are completely efficient role models and after reading this, I am certainly questioning how we got so far off the right path, and what it will take for our development to get back on the correct path and to follow the designs of nature. Pin It Now!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice!

Happy first day of summer! Here is to long days, warm weather and (fingers crossed) sunshine!
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all you wonderful dads out there!!

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strawberry Picking Adventure

Yesterday afternoon, Finn and I headed out to Sauvie's Island (about 45 minutes away) for a little adventuring. We spent some time strawberry picking and then explored a new area with a slow-paced hike. Here are a few of our photos:

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Friday, June 18, 2010

This Moment....

Inspired by Soulemama

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rainy Day Reading

It has been a record month of rain here in Portland, and our June has been spent inside much more than either Finn or I would like. Yesterday morning, we had some leisurely time reading in our jammies and listening to the rain fall. Not really what I would call summer, but at least it was relaxing.
Today we are off to the library to choose some new books, with hope that we will be reading these in the sun at the park!
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cell Phone Safety

While at my local library, I got my hands onto a freaky pamphlet about cell phones and thought I would pass along some of the information; in general, this pamphlet discusses the great concerns of cell phone use, especially for children. Cell phones release both heat and radiation, both of which can have devastating effects on the body. Studies have shown correlations between cell phone use and cancer, including a correlation between brain tumors and the side of the head that a person normally holds their cell phone. Other safety concerns include eye and ear damage from the heat and radiation emitted.
Even scarier is that studies have shown similar effects from wifi.... not sure about you other blogging mamas, but we have wifi in our house, which means we are all being exposed to it on an extremely consistent basis.
If cell phones and radio frequencies are so bad for us, why don't we hear about it more often? Because, like almost everything else in our society, there are people out there making huge profits from the use of this technology.. and they need us to believe it is safe. Think about smoking and how long it took for the public to become aware of the hazards of tobacco use. Yikes!
So, what should we do? I know that I am not planning on getting rid of my cell phone anytime soon, but I do plan on keeping a landline and avoiding my cell phone as much as possible. Studies also suggest using a headset at all times when using a cell phone and NOT keeping your cell phone in your pocket or on your body (in a purse or bag is better). As I said, this info is fairly new to me, so I am going to try and do some more research (especially on the wifi safety part!) For more info, check out the wireless watch blog. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Organic Crafts: A Review

I must say that I was quite disappointed with this book. First off, the pictures (drawings) in this book were microscopic and terrible... if you can't see what you are making, how would you be inspired to make it? Also, the drawings were almost always a few pages after the title (they came at the end of the instructions instead of at the beginning) so you don't get to see the picture at the same time you read the name of the project. Plus, the way it was set up, the picture from the previous project often ended up being right before the title of the next project.... so it looked (at least to me) like the drawing was for the title that it was near. And since they didn't match, I was continuously confused as to what project she was describing. Poorly planned.
I don't want to completely slam this book; there were a number of cute and practical projects, like natural pastes, a toad home (awesome) and a gourd birdhouse (which I have been planning to do this summer if my bird gourds grow!) Plus, I did a little background research on the author, and she seems like she is pretty environmentally-minded. However, I have read a couple other similar books recently (Ecoart and Nature's Art Box) which I enjoyed much more... mainly because the layout worked better for me and the larger pictures gave a better feel for what you were making.
So, this is one I would recommend borrowing from your local library before spending the money to buy it. There are some good crafts in there and maybe the layout won't be so aggravating to others. Pin It Now!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Little Hedgehog Love...

Here are some new pants and a matching shirt that I made for Finn the other day.... although he picked out the fabric so maybe the real inspiration came from him. Sometimes all you need is a little hedgehog love to brighten your day.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

This Moment...

Inspired by Soulemama

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Rain, Pennies and Puddles

As of yesterday, Portland had reached record rainfall for June. And this was on June 9th.... I am nervous about my garden and am wondering if my potatoes are rotting and I haven't been motivated to do a lot of the work that I should be doing because, let's face it, gardening in the rain isn't much fun.
A few days ago, I posted a blog about how the slugs are decimating my garden, and I mentioned that I have been encircling plants with pennies to deter slugs from eating them.... and the verdict is: It seems to be working!! Hooray!

Here is a penny circle around a seed I planted (so no seedling yet). These penny-circles have been protecting established seedling as well.. however, I am not sharing any picture as there was so much prior damage that you honestly can't tell it has been working. But it is! I have not found one slug within a circle yet!

And for now, we will try to enjoy the rain as much as we can,

And maybe we can splash our way to drier days.
Our weekend forecast is looking promising!!
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

My 2010 Summer Reading List; Won't You Join Me?

For those of us who teach (or go to school) for a living, summer begins when school lets out. Since I teach community college, I still do teach during the summer term, but I teach only 1 class instead of 2 or 3 and the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed. Plus, I get a week off between spring and summer term and almost a month off between summer and fall terms, so I, just like any of the students, am antsy for my summer to begin!
Summer for me means more time outside and more time for me. Well, sort of. It is hard to have very much "me" time with a 2-year old, but it is more fun none-the-less. Anyways, I am hoping to find (or make) some time to get in a lot of reading this summer. There are quite a few books I have been meaning to read for ages, and some others that really pertain to the topic of sustainability, which is what I teach and how I am trying to live.
I am the type of reader who always seems to be reading 5 or 6 different books at once, which means that I need to finish up the stack of books that I am already reading before I can tackle any on my summer wish list. And, I know a few of the books on my list are a bit long and involved (hello Anna K), but I am going to see if I can meet my challenge.
My summer begins tomorrow (as soon as I give and grade a final for 32 students). If you are a reader (or not) and want to challenge yourself to a summer reading list, join me in creating a summer reading list, reading, and share what you learn!
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nature's Art Box: A Review

Nature's Art Box by Laura C. Martin is a craft book for children that focuses on using lots of natural and found materials. Most of these projects are a little too advanced for my 2 year old (honestly, a few of them seem too advanced for me!), but there are quite a few really cute ideas in here. There are instructions for some basic skills, like flower pressing and printing, potato stamps, natural dyes, and homemade clays, as well as some cute ideas on how to use those skills (pressed flower barrettes anyone?). There are also a few projects in here that I can't wait to try, like making miniature woodland furniture for your child's faerie and gnome friends and a ball made out of vines that looks perfect for hanging some holiday lights on.
After browsing this book, I did notice that the directions for some projects were not nearly as detailed as they could be, and at times were a bit confusing. A lot of the projects are fairly challenging and require a bit of time and prep work, so this book will work best for child-adult teams.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Palm Oil: An UNsustainable Alternative?

Palm oil is grown in tropical regions and can be found throughout our grocery stores, both in beauty products and processed food. Palm oil is a vegan alternative to dairy products, and because it does not come from animals, it is often thought of as a sustainable alternative; however, palm oil plantations are causing huge amounts of environmental devastation throughout the tropics. Palm oil plantations usually begin as a patch of tropical rainforest that is logged and burned. Then, where thousands of species once stood, palm tree after palm tree are planted in their place. These monoculture plantations support literally zero diversity and the numerous animals and insects that need a variety of plants on which to thrive no longer have a place to live.
Some tropical areas are seeing huge swaths of forest cut down every year to make way for more and more profitable oil palm plantations. National Geographic had a great article about this awhile back entitled Borneo's Moment of Truth. It is an article I often have my students read and it is well worth it.
So, start to make note of what is in the food you buy and WHERE it comes from. Some oil palm is grown sustainably, but more of it is destroying rainforests and the creatures that inhabit them. Just because your treat is vegan does not necessarily mean it is good for the planet!
For more information check out the website Roundtable on Sustainable Palm. Also, Greenpeace has created a video about palm oil plantations and Dove products. You can watch the Greenpeace video here Pin It Now!

Monday, June 7, 2010

(Almost) Summer Delights

I am happy to report that today in Portland we had some much needed sun! And, our snap peas are here and ready for the picking. I love watching kids eat food straight from the garden, don't you? Here are a few pictures of Finn enjoying our bounty.

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