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 31, 2010

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 30, 2010

Handmade Holidays

OK, this is the last one, I promise. But here are the rest of the handmade gifts I managed to make for this Christmas (but couldn't share until now b/c I didn't want to ruin the surprise!).

A couple months back, I found this huge back of yarn at SCRAP, our local art supply re-use store for $4! What a steal!!

I turned it into a hat and mittens for Finn, and I still have A LOT of yarn left!

I also made Finn a few pairs of pants (the robot fabric is flannel and really snuggly)

I also made my first pair of arm warmers. These ones were for my sister-in-law who lives in NYC, and I saw a pattern for arm warmers that laced up the side...I figured they would fit into big city fashion. The pattern is from Alterknits.

Lastly, a lot of the ladies in my life got bath salts. I made these for the first time and they are super easy. Fill a pint size mason jar with epsom salts (available at a drug store) and add about 20 drops of essential oils in any combination that suits your fancy. Mix well, wrap up and give!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I have been on a brief hiatus from my blog, as I took a trip to the Oregon coast with Todd's family over the Christmas holiday. We rented a house that was supposed to have wireless internet access, but when we got there we realized that wasn't the case. So, even though I had planned to blog over the Christmas holiday, I wasn't able to.
We did have a nice trip to the coast although the rain didn't stop for even one minute (seriously) and Finn ended up coming down with the flu. I hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful Christmas, and I plan to be back to my blog in full force (whatever that is) tomorrow!
p.s.- the photo is NOT of my house, but a house on Peacock Lane (the infamous street of Christmas lights) in Portland. Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Th Elf on the Shelf... a New Holiday Tradition

Have you ever heard of the game "Elf on the Shelf"? I hadn't, until Finn received it as an early Christmas present this year from his grandma. Here's the scoop: You get a cute little elf (and a book to go with it). You name your elf (Finn named ours Muga). Then you stick him on a shelf somewhere. Each night, the elf flies to the North Pole to report to Santa, give naught/nice reports, Christmas wish lists, etc. and when he comes back, he sits in a different spot (this means you have to move the elf each night moms and dads!). When your kiddos wake up in the morning, they have to try and find the elf's new spot.
This game has been a total hoot for Finn, and his morning search for Muga is the first thing he does right out of bed. I have also found (in a few of my moments of weakness) that a threat that Muga will make bad reports to Santa can actually make a child start behaving better. I hate to use the holiday that way, as it takes away some of its beauty, but let's be realistic.... we all deserve a little bit of a break every now and then, right? Or at least an end to your child's tantrums when you have been up late making his Christmas gifts??
Anyways, this game would make a wonderful gift for any family with young children and I think this will be a lovely tradition in our home in the years to come!
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookies Galore!

Since we are staying close to home for Christmas this year, I have been busy baking cookies to share with family and friends... and if I might be honest, I have eaten a few too many myself!

Sugar cookies (my grandmother's recipe):


Peppermint Bark.... it was my first time making this (per my husband's request) and it came out OK... I couldn't find peppermint extract, and so used mint extract, and it has a hint of spearmint, which doesn't really seem right for these treats. Also, white baking chocolate is not cheap, so I now see why this stuff is so expensive at the store! It's not cheap to make yourself either...

And the infamous saltine toffee:

I think since it is the holiday season, I will be generous and share the recipe here! Be forewarned, these are addictive!

Saltine Toffee:

What You Need:
  • Foil
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers
What You Do:
  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Line cookie sheet with foil. Now, this cookie sheet has to be able to fit into your freezer, so at my house, I can't use a regular cookie sheet but have to use 2 small toaster oven trays instead. Figure out what works for you before you start baking!
  • Cover cookie sheet with a layer of saltine crackers. If they don't fit perfectly, just break some apart and do the best you can.
  • Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add brown sugar, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Pour butter-sugar mixture evenly over saltine crackers and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, pour chocolate chips over the gooey mess and let it sit for a minute or two so they start to melt. Then spread the chocolate over the crackers, trying to get it as even as possible.
  • Then freeze until hard and break into pieces to eat or give away! I like to store mine in the freezer as at room temperature it gets pretty gooey and stuck in your teeth.
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!

Here's to longer days and more light! Happy Solstice!
Pin It Now!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Felted Christmas Stocking

OK, so I know I have been posting a lot about crafts lately, but I feel like that is all I have been doing! Here is a picture of a felted sticking that I made for Finn. The pattern is from Alterknits Felt, and even though it seemed to take forever to knit, I think it came out pretty well. However, I think I will start baby #2's stocking next summer!
These pictures are before and after felting. It didn't shrink up as much as I had expected, so there may be a lot of oranges in there on xmas morning!

Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Handmade Holidays....

A few days ago I  returned from an early Christmas with my family in Chicago (since I am in my third trimester, I wouldn't have been able to visit during the actual holiday). It was great to be home and see my family, but honestly, the trip was a bit disastrous..... The day after we arrived, Finn came down with pink eye and an ear infection (which prevented us from spending much time with my brand new less-than-a-week-old niece), the horrible weather caused my husband's flight out to be canceled, and things just didn't seem to go our way. Plus, upon my arrival home, I developed a painful varicose vein in my leg that I initially thought may have been a blood clot. Fun, huh? But, even though it is so nice to be back home, and have my family healthy again, I already miss the family I left behind.
But, since we did some early present exchanging, I can share some of the handmade gifts I gave. Now, if I can just finish about 10 more projects by the middle of next week, I'll be all set.....Go fingers, go!

This was actually a birthday crown for my nephew's 5th birthday that was just a couple of weeks ago:

Some felted booties for my brand new niece Charlotte (the pattern is from French Press Knits):

This year I made mitten for the first time ever. I have already done 3 pairs and plan on another one this weekend.. and maybe even a pair for my mittenless-self after the holidays! This pattern came from Knitting magazine, which was passed along to me by my knitting mentor:

Felted stacking bowls for my niece Harper (the pattern for these can be found here):

Pin It Now!

Friday, December 17, 2010

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 16, 2010

Reusable Holiday Gift Bags

This year I decided I was going to FINALLY make some reusable gift bags for Christmas. I have been talking/thinking about it for years, but just never made the time. They don't take long at all, actually, and I have no idea why I hadn't made some sooner. Anyways, I had some old Christmas fabric from years ago when I made some holiday quilts, most of it not my favorite fabric, so this project didn't cost me a dime.
I only got around to making 5 bags so far this year (of assorted shapes and sizes) but, if I can stay motivated, I want to stock up on some holiday fabric after Christmas and make a bunch more for next year.
The bags are super easy.... you can follow my instructions for making your own produce bags, but just use holiday fabric instead of muslin and pretty yarn or ribbon instead of hemp. They literally took about 5-10 minutes each to make. 
I have already told Finn that we will be leaving the bags out under the tree for Santa to fill (sort of like a stocking) so Santa has less to wrap and we have less waste. He seems totally OK with the idea, and I figure over the years he will get accustomed, and it will just be part of the holiday tradition. 
I haven't bought any wrapping paper for holiday gifts this year.... I am pretty frugal and always save gift bags and bows, and so I have quite a stash of Christmas bags, as well as some leftover wrapping paper from years past. I love the idea of eventually having a Christmas with no wrapping waste, and making reusable gift bags for all of my gifts. For now, I am just focused on the ones that will stay in our home (and recycling the paper gift bags for presents we send out).
In addition to consuming less and reducing our holiday waste, wrapping presents will also be a breeze (as will cleanup in the morning). And for all of you parents who have stayed up into the wee hours putting together toys, the more time that can be saved the better!
How about a new tradition of Christmas bags for your family?

Pin It Now!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

I decided some home-made ornaments would be a good addition to our list of holiday presents this year, so last week, Finn invited a friend over and we set out to make salt-dough ornaments. Here's how you make them:

First, preheat the oven to 200. Then, mix together:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1.5 cups hot water

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch, and use holiday cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Then (here comes the fun part)- decorate! I mixed together food coloring and water to create a "paint" that could be painted on to the ornaments. Then we topped with glitter. We used a straw to poke a hole near the top of each one that can be used later to run a ribbon through and hang the ornament. Then we baked them in the oven for about 45 minutes.

I let Finn pick out one to keep for himself and he was ecstatic to hang it from our tree. When he woke up the next morning, the first thing he did was to run to the tree to look at his ornament.... which wasn't there. Then a light went on in my head... our puppy Moshi got out of bed twice in the night to drink copious amounts of water, and needed to go outside in the middle of the night as well (both of which are not her normal routine).. I was worried that something was wrong with her.... until we discovered that the salty-cookie looking thing hanging from a low branch on the tree was gone. I am now keeping my eyes peeled for a dog poop full of red glitter! Pin It Now!

Friday, December 10, 2010

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 9, 2010

Awesome Snowflakes!

I read a blog post a few days ago about an easy way to make awesome looking snowflakes and Finn and I gave it a go last Tuesday. I must say, they look great and were slightly addictive to make! the only real problem was that you use coffee filters, and toddler-friendly scissors don't really cut coffee filters..... which meant that I did most of the cutting while Finn instructed me where to cut. It worked out, but he didn't get to be hands-on as much as I would have hoped.
Anyways, check out the blog Helping Little Hands for her great tutorial on these snowflakes!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Banner and Decorations

I haven't spent much time here lately as I have been frantically been making and putting up decorations, finishing up gifts, and trying to tie up the end of my term at school. Here are some photos of 2 Christmas banners I made: one for our living room and one for Finn's room. I had a whole bunch of Christmas fabric left over from some blankets I made years ago, and figured I could put it to good use. They are super easy to make... just cut out triangle shapes using pinking shears (so the fabric won't fray), and sew the triangles in between a piece of ribbon (I used 1-inch thickness). The other photos are of our xmas tree and our holiday tree.

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handmade Matching Game

I got this cute idea from a blog called Peas and Carrots, and it was made for part of Handmade Holiday 2010 (check out my sidebar). Anyways, as soon as I saw this idea on Peas and Carrots, I knew it would be a great 3rd birthday present for Finn's BFF. I made 30 pieces (15 sets of 2 each). The pieces were made from black felt and extra fabric that I had leftover from other projects, with a drawstring bag to keep it all in. This was a fairly easy and inexpensive project, and my son has already requested one of his own. Thanks fellow bloggers for sharing your creative ideas!!

Pin It Now!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waste = Food: A Review

The film Waste = Food is basically a synopsis of the book Cradle to Cradle,  by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. I read this book awhile back (maybe a year ago?), but when searching for my review of it on this blog, I didn't find it, and realized that I must have read the book and never wrote the review. Anyways, the book is great and focuses on making products that won't go to landfills (with the ultimate goal the elimination of landfills altogether). Essentially only creating products that can be disassembled and reassembled into new parts or products that are completely biodegradable and will go back to the earth as nutrients.
This 50-minute film is based upon the same principles, but focuses on a few specific projects, showing how this idea can (and is) applied in the real world. The film is nothing fancy, but includes some interesting interviews and makes some good points. If we make things completely from natural products, than those products can go back to nature when we are finished with them. And, in this sense, our waste can = food for nature.
These guys have some great ingenious ideas kicking around in their heads and I hope that they continue to revolutionize the world of manufacturing.
You can watch the film in its entirety here, at Pin It Now!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Picnic in December...

Today we were lucky enough to have fabulously sunny skies and relatively warm weather (for December in Portland anyways). Finn and I decided it was the perfect afternoon for a picnic at one of our favorite parks. The ducks and geese were in full force, and Finn even made a friend who shared her duck food. It was just the outing that I needed.

Pin It Now!