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, August 31, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along.
OK, so I am STILL working on Phoebe's baby shorts. I thought for sure that they would be done for this week's yarn along, but alas, I need a few more days. This past weekend was so busy that I have been too exhausted to knit much the past couple of nights. I promise, next week it will be done!!
I started reading The Help for my mama's book club and so far I am really enjoying it. I also started reading The Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and it is awesome!! The author has cancer but has basically stopped its progression by changing the way she eats. She explains why the typical American diet is so horrible (in terms of chemistry), which has really made an impact on me, and although I don't foresee switching completely to her alkaline based diet, I do plan on leaning my eating habits that way. . and I can't wait to do the cleanse she includes. Plus, she is hilarious. Her writing is full of swears and crudeness, which just makes reading about digestion that much more fun. I will definitely write up a review on this one when I am finished.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reducing My Driving: An Update

For my year-long adventure, I have been decreasing my driving during the month of August. Or at least I was supposed to be, and have failed miserably. I already knew going into this month that it would be a challenge, as we were embarking on a road trip to California to start the month off. Hard to not drive when you are on a road trip. Then, as we returned to Portland, summer had finally arrived. Pre-August was cool and rainy, and frankly, I had little to no motivation to go explore when the weather was no cooperating. However, once we came back and the weather has finally been sunny, and playing in the river sounds fun instead of torturous, we have been exploring natural areas frequently. And this means driving to get there. Which also means that since I am taking up huge chunks of days going on adventures, I don't have a lot of time to get my errands done, and don't have time to take the bus or walk for hours to do them, and I therefore need to drive even more. It has been a vicious cycle, really. But, I am being a realist. Summer here has been short this year and we didnt do a whole lot of driving in June or July since we didn't do much adventuring. I also have 2 kids and 2 dogs, and sometimes it just isn't possible to take the bus or walk if I want to go to the same places. I can no longer ride my bike for longer trips (at least until Phoebe is a bit older), and so our options are a bit more limited. I know this is no excuse, as I chose to have a second child, but it is what it is. Once fall brings cooler weather and a return to rain, we will still explore, but closer to home and with less frequency. Until then, I am actually relishing the days where we want to go explore and enjoy the outdoors.
I did manage to take the bus home form the dentist this month, and took it to pub knitting last week. I have also been better about trying to group errands into clumps so that I can get a bunch done in one car-ride. Not always the most pleasant with a 3 year old who gets bored after the first errand or two, but it does cut back on driving miles.
All in all, I have learned that August is not a good month to try and decrease my driving. I do plan to continue to try and reduce my driving throughout the year, and I hope that when fall rolls around and we are on more of a schedule, I will be able to do just that. And until then, I will try and not feel too guilty about the miles I have driven this month! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Birthday at the Beach

To celebrate my birthday this year, we spent Friday night and Saturday at the coast. It was cool and windy, but the sun was out and it was beautiful. We met up with some friends and their kids on Saturday, so Finn was entertained.
I always feel re-set after returning from the ocean. Here are a few pictures from our trip:

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

35 Things to do Before I Turn 35

I am turning 34 today. Wow. Where did all of that time go? I remember being a child, and thinking how 34 sounded so old. I remember my parents "over-the-hill" birthday parties when they turned 40. Are you kidding? Over the hill? That is right around the corner. I think that having children makes time go by even faster. Days are full, and there is always something to be done. And watching a child go from completely helpless to walking and talking in 18 months is nothing short of amazing.... while at the same time becoming the mere blink of an eye.
Next year I will be 35. Sort of a big milestone, I think. So in honor, I am creating a list of 35 things I would like to do before my birthday next year. I tend to be overly ambitious though, so we'll see how it goes.
  1. Knit a sweater for Phoebe
  2. Knit something for myself
  3. Watch the sunrise with someone special
  4. Take a sewing class
  5. Go camping somewhere that I have never been
  6. Pick up my instruments again and start creating music
  7. Do a food cleanse
  8. Take a vacation
  9. Read War and Peace
  10. Go snowboarding at least once (I used to go regularly but ever since having kids....)
  11. Paint the inside of my house
  12. Put baseboard trim in my house (a project I was supposed to undertake 4 years ago)
  13. Tell the people that I love that I love them more often
  14. Learn to make my own earrings
  15. Be a better mama, especially working on being more patient with Finn....
  16. Purge unneeded stuff and learn to live more simply
  17. Teach Finn to swim
  18. Get better at Spanish
  19. Learn about a new classical composer each month and immerse myself in their music
  20. Learn how to identify 10 new plants
  21. Have Moshi (our puppy) very well trained (right now her training is quite mediocre)
  22. Make yoga and meditation a daily happening, even if for only 3 minutes each day
  23. Learn 5 new constellations
  24. Learn to find joy in the mundane
  25. Finish Phoebe's baby book from birth to age 1
  26. Eat more greens
  27. Enter a photo contest
  28. Make a new friend
  29. Volunteer
  30. Go on at least one date each month with my hubby
  31. Re-learn baby sign language
  32. Re-organize the back yard/side yard storage
  33. Get some new house plants
  34. Live for the moment
  35. Don't act my age!

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Friday, August 26, 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 
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kimono PJ's

I finally finished P a pair of kimono pajamas that have been on my to-sew list for months and months. It was my first time making a shirt of any kind, and it was easier than I thought (and it came out really cute, if I do say so myself..).
For the top, I modified a pattern that can be found here. Actually, click on the link to check out her super cute tops and then you have to email her and she will email you a pdf of the pattern. Sweet, huh? For the pants, I just made them by tracing a pair that fit Phoebe well. I talk more about that here.
I asked Finn if he wanted a pair and he politely said "no, mom" (with a slight roll of the eyes).  Maybe I will just have to make P a second set. Too cute to not, right?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining in over at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along. Can you find my book and project amongst the sea of stuffed animals? Finn's room was a bit messy this morning!!
On a good note, I have finally finished reading Freedom by Jonathon Franzen. Good thing, as my book club is meeting to discuss it tonight! I started reading the Yarn Harlot: Secret Life of  Knitter Monday night and I am already about 2/3 through. It is a fast and funny read.
And, I am still knitting the same baby shorts for Miss Phoebe from Debbie Bliss' Essential Baby. I am about 3/4 through now, but since cool weather is approaching, I had better get a move on. I am hoping next week's yarn along will bring pictures of finished shorts! (fingers crossed) Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seed Saving 101

After reading Seed to Seed last spring, I realized that jumping head-first into seed saving was not going to work for me. A lot of plants (like everything in the squash family for instance) will cross pollinate with each other, creating seeds that will produce hybrids, or "mutts" if you will. Most of the time, these randomly crossed seeds will not produce the particular fruit that one would expect of hope for, and so saving seeds from your garden zucchini will not necessary produce zucchini fruits if planted next year. Basically, for many plants, saving seeds properly takes a lot of space, time and technique, none of which I currently have.
However, some plants are super easy to save seeds from, like snow peas. So while I decided that trying to save seed from everything I plant was not feasible, saving seeds from the easy-savers was something I wanted to try.
So, last week, Finn and I had our first attempt at saving seeds from our garden. We made sure to leave some of our snow peas unpicked and waiting for them to turn brown and die. Then we just shelled the peas and put them in a jar. Viola! Seeds for next year.
My only problem was that once we popped open the shells, some of them had peas that still had some green color to them, which means they must still have moisture in them. So,... I am letting the jar sit without a lid for now, and am hoping they will all turn brown eventually?? Once everything is brown with no moisture left,  I will lid the jar and put in a dark, cool spot. However, I really have no idea is those green one will turn brown without rotting, or if I should remove them from my stash. Maybe some of you more experienced seed savers could lend a hand.....?
Have you saved seeds before? What kinds?

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Colony: A Review

Colony is a movie about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the mysterious unknown that is ravaging honeybees in the United Stated. I really enjoyed this documentary. It was much more focused on the social aspect of bee keeping, and how the industry is dealing with CCD, then on the science behind it, as I was expecting. The cinematography was beautiful and the entire movie had this backwoods surrealism to it. I almost felt like I was watching Napolean Dynamite, expect the people in the film were for real, and not just acting. I guess you have to be a little quirky to keep bees for a living, but the family that the film focused on was more than a little. But, I think that made me love them all the more.
Over the past few years, America has lost about 1/3 of its honeybees, and no one is quite sure why. There are theories from cell phone signals to genetically modified crops, and no one can seem to prove or disprove any of them. This movie went into a bit of detail on two of the main theories, pesticides and disease. Some scientists (and beekeepers) think that the cocktail of new and "ever-improving" insecticides may be killing off bees. The debate continues on this because dead bees are not found immediately after pesticides are sprayed or even in the spray area. Instead, bees are gathering nectar from these sprayed plants and bringing it back to the hive to feed the young. Some scientists are concerned that these sub-lethal doses are resulting in changes at the genetic level, causing birth defects one or two generations later. Additionally, some scientists speculate that these seemingly harmless doses could be causing memory loss and preventing bees from finding their way back to their hive. Other scientists (especially those that are employed by the chemical companies) think that these pesticides are completely safe for bees and pose no threat.
The second main theory is the disease theory. Bee populations are becoming more and more inbred as beekeepers are getting their queen bees from only a limited number of bee "breeders" (is that the right word? I have no idea...). This limited genetic diversity could be making bee populations more susceptible to disease. Whereas a population with lots of diversity will be likely to overcome most disease (with some dying off and some surviving), a genetically limited population who has no resistance to a disease will lose large numbers, and could potentially die off as a result.
Scientists and beekeepers are still struggling to discover the truth behind CCD. Whatever the cause, the film warns that humans should talk it as a warning sign, the canary in the coal mine if you will.....  If bees are suddenly dying off in large numbers due to some environmental factor, humans could be next if we don't change the route we are taking.
This movie is definitely worth a watch, if only to marvel at the life of beekeepers!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photo Exhibit!

Last month, my old photography teacher, Sharon Lavier-O'Keefe (
asked me (as well as all of her previous students) to participate in a photo exhibit. The exhibit is a fundraiser for a medical fund dedicated to one of her students who just recently lost her battle with cancer. The news of this mama of 2, whom I did not know, brought me to tears, and of course I wanted to participate. I donated a framed photo to the exhibit, which began on August 1st. Since we have been out of town, I was finally able to view the exhibit Thursday evening, and I was impressed. Impressed with the number of donations for a woman whom most of us didn't actually know (60+ photos!), impressed with the quality of the photos, and impressed by the generosity of so many. And, I must say that it was pretty darn cool to see my own photo hanging on a exhibition wall! Mine hasn't sold yet, but I still have a couple weeks left so fingers crossed! 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Julie Martinez Medical Fund.
If you live in Portland, and feel so inclined, swing by the exhibit and check it out!
Above is a small section of the exhibit. Can you guess which photograph is mine? Pin It Now!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another Adventure

After a fun trip earlier in the week to explore a local recreation area, the kids and I set out again this afternoon to continue our adventures. We headed to Eagle Fern Park, an old growth forest situated along a beautiful creek about 40 minutes from our home. The recommendation came from my friend Heidi, who blogs over at Under the Humble Moon. The park was lovely, with short hiking trails and a companion field guide. The water was clear and cool, with a lovely swimming hole (next time we will bring suits), and American Dippers dotted the rocks in the creek. Finn had a wonderful time throwing rocks and getting his feet wet, and when it was time to go, he actually started crying and said he didn't want to leave. Awwww. I didn't want to either. And I know that we will be back soon!
Hope you all had a great Friday!

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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, August 18, 2011


So far, this summer has not been as full of exploring new places as I had hoped. We did take a wonderful vacation and got to explore some new California terrain, but we haven't had much of a chance to be out and about on the home front. Earlier this week, we had a chance to head to a state recreation area about 25 minutes away..... and as soon as we got there, I couldn't believe I had never been there before. Lots of wooded trails, river access, sand to play in, and places to lose yourself (well, almost).  I currently have a 5 week break before my next term starts, and I hope to find a lot more time to explore places close to home. Where have you been exploring lately?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some Blog-Award Lovin'

Courtney over at A Life Sustained (one of my all-time favorite blogs) has so kindly given me a blog award! Hooray! Since I started my blog back in 2009 (woah!) I have found so many connections throughout the  blogging community. I have found great tips, great recipes, and read many a great story, and am so happy to be part of the blogosphere.

This award is given to bloggers with under 200 followers. In order to participate, you've gotta follow the rules. Here goes...

1. Thank the giver and link back to them.
Thanks Courtney! I love A Life Sustained and connect with so much of what you write. Thanks for blogging!!

2. Reveal your 5 picks and let them  know by leaving a comment on their blog.

It was so hard to choose! There are so many fantastic blogs out there that it is actually hard for me to keep up with them all. Here are a few that I have been enjoying a lot the past few weeks...

3. Copy and paste award to your blog.


4. Have faith that your followers will pass the love to other bloggers.

Pass it on, folks!

5. And most of all have Bloggity-blog fun.

Done and Done!

What blogs are YOU loving these days?
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Again...

This weekend, my family and I returned home from our week long summer road trip. It was quite an adventure to say the least. There was a little too much time in the car, and a few stressful moments (like trying to get a 3 year old to poop somewhere that isn't his home), but all in all it went really well. Way better than expected, actually. Everyone had a whole lot of fun. And as with all trips, we were sad that vacation was over, but happy to get back to our house and to a routine.
Our travels brought us to the Columbia Gorge with a group of friends to see some music and a re-creation of Stonehenge. Then we headed to Lake Tahoe to meet up with more friends, see some music, and spent some time lake-side. The last time I was in Tahoe was when I lived there in 2001. I was living with my now-husband and his girlfriend at the time. Pretty weird, right?
After Tahoe, we drove through Lassen Volcanic National Park and to Mt. Shasta, where we spent a couple days camping at Lake Siskiyou. We hiked up at Panther Meadows to a spring/vortex/sacred Native American place, did some swimming in the lake, and sat up enjoying a campfire. It was bliss.
Here are a bunch of photos from our trip.... sorry if I included too many. It was hard to choose!

The Gorge:

Lake Tahoe (why did I ever leave?):


Mt. Shasta:

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Wake Up and Smell the Panet: A Review

Wake Up and Smell the Planet, by the writers of,  is another one of those environmental guide books that give you loads of quick tips on how to be a better environmental steward. The reason why I decided to read this one is because I heard it had a section on safely composting cat poop. And it did. About a paragraph long and not terribly helpful. I decided to read the whole thing, just to see what it had to see. Overall, I was frustrated with many of the answers, agreed with many others, and learned a few new things.
Some annoying "tips" include forgoing ziplocs to instead wrap your sandwich/snacks in waxed paper or a disposable napkin. Umm, how about a reusable cloth bag or a cloth napkin or re-purposed plastic bag? Encouraging folks to use disposable items seems a little UN-environmental. It also encourages using a microwave to save energy. How about the fact that it is not safe to microwave breast milk ( or any other items that contains dairy or meat) as it will change the genetic structure. No thanks. It also gives a thumbs up to both McDonals'd for the pro-environment options they offer (like offering organic coffee at some locations). How about all of the other very eco-UN-friendly choices they offer as well? GMO corn, feedlot cattle, and non-local foods just to name a few. And happily accepting to-go in styrofoam containers, but just bringing yoru own metal silverware to make up for it. Umm, what? This book also encourage on-line shopping instead of shopping at the mall in order to reduce one's carbon footprint. How about NOT shopping? Or shopping less? Or buying used?
But, there were some interesting (and useful) points in here as well. Like taking a train instead of flying to drastically reduce the footprint of your travel. using vinegar during the wash cycle instead of putting dryer sheets or fabric softner in (both of which are carcinogenic). And the fact that some Goodwills will take unwearable  clothing to be shredded, baled and re-purposed. Cool!
So should you read this book? The writing style was pretty humorous and it was mostly entertaining, but for me I found myself getting frustrated at the lack of environmentalism in this environmental book. Seriously. I like that it isn't trying to get anyone to be an uber-eco-freak, and is focused on more realistic goals, but I think people can do a little better than driving through McDonald's for their eco-friendly (not) meal. I actually found myself talking back at this book on more than one occasion, which maybe says something about me as well, but I felt like these were mainly eco-tips for very un-eco people, which clearly does not include any of you.
So, I would take or leave this one. I have never spent much time on Grist's website and am now curious to know if their website is of better quality than the tip book they published. Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mexican Corn Salad

This is a refreshing dish on a hot summer day!

What You Need:
  • 1.5 cups sweet corn (de-cobbed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbl rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbl lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
What You Do:
  • Combine corn, onion, bell pepper, tomato and cilantro
  • In small bowl combine vinegars, lime juice, and spices
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Drying Herbs

I have blogged quite a bit this summer about herbs in my learn an herb series. However, for most of us, we can only grow or find fresh herbs for a part of the year. Herb can be useful in teas, salves and baths all year long, so if you want access to herbs all year round, you will want to dry and store herbs during the summer when they are plentiful.
Drying herbs is easy. Cut the part of the herb you are using when it is at it's peak. For flowers this is when the flowers have opened and not started to die. For other parts of the herb, check the web to find out the best time to harvest.
Line a cookie sheet with a paper towel, lay herbs on the paper towel so that they are spread out and not touching or minimally touching. Cover with another paper towel. I actually rarely ever have paper towels, and I would think this step could be done using kitchen towel, but I have never actually tried it myself. I just happened to have some leftover paper towels from my home birth.
Once you prepared the tray, turn on your oven light and stick the tray in. The heat from the lamp is actually the perfect temperature to dry herbs. The downside to this is that they take a day or two to fully dry, so you need to make sure to remove them before preheating your oven!! Alternately, you can dry herbs outside, but they shouldn't be in direct sun, and the wind can easily blow them, so you need to pay fairly close attention.
Once the herbs feel dry, store in glass jars with lids. Check jars a few days after drying to make sure there is no condensation inside the jars. If there is, the herbs need to dry more. Store in a cool dry place. herbs will be the most potent when they are freshest, so if using for medicinal purposes try to use within 6 months to a year at the longest.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Did you know that the 98% natural label on your baby shampoo means virtually nothing? Cruelty-free? Meaningless. Biodegradable?... questionable. When choosing a product, consumers often have little go by except for the packaging and the labels and certifications it includes. However, a great deal of these "eco" labels are virtually meaningless. Many "certifications" have no regulations whatsoever, meaning that any manufacturer can put them on their product and no one will have oversight to make them remove the label if it is incorrect. Other labels, like "free-range" mean only that the animal has to have access to the outdoors for a portion of their lives. Sadly, many of these "free-range" animals are actually too big and broken to walk outside, or may be terrified of the outdoors because they spent their first few weeks locked in a dark pen.
On the other hand, some labels and certification do have rigorous standards and verification processes, and therfeore tell us a lot about a product. If you are curious as to which labels are meaningful and which are meaningless, check out the Greener Choices website on eco-labels. You can search labels for food, personal hygiene, cleaning products and paper products. Pretty sweet. Now someone just needs to make an app for this, so shoppers can check at the store when deciding between products! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Age of Stupid: A Review

I just watched a film entitled The Age of Stupid. The name itself actually turned me off from watching the film, and it was only after a second thought that I decided to give it a whirl. The whole format of the movie, is, like the title, pretty stupid. It is some guy in the not-so-far-off future, who lives in a world where humans have killed themselves off to the brink of extinction. The entire film is him sitting at a high-tech futuristic computer (that apparently survived the extinction of the planet) showing clips pertaining to global warming and how we should have seen the signs coming.
So, although I thought the set up for this film was incredibly cheesy, I did find the actual clips both informative and entertaining. And scary actually. Really, really scary. The film is discussing how humans let global warming run out of control by the choices we made, and predicts the sort of future we might foresee. The clips are actually things that have happened.... clips from Hurricane Katrina, recent heat waves, the tremendous retreating of glaciers in recent years.... and "looking back" upon these events, the humans realized that they completely ignored the prominent signs of global warming that predicted the doom of their race. For us, now, it is hard to really feel the true threat of global warming when we have not yet felt the full effects. Not to mention that the oil companies have been paying marketing firms to make it seem like global warming is a hoax. That way, they are sure to continue to make big profits.
Some of the interesting topics covered in this film include the fact that flying on an airplane is the single worst thing an individual can do to contribute to global climate change (that one hit home for me as I flew already in June and will be flying again in October...oops). Other big factors include consumerism and shipping our food around the world before it is eaten. Silly, silly, system. Fossil fuels have become so intertwined in our lifestyles that it is hard to see a future without them. But at current rates, we will have used it all up within the next 40 years. Sadly, once average global temperature rise 2 degrees Celsius, we will start runaway climate change, in which it will sort of spiral out of control, no matter what we do to stop it. So, in essence, we are running out of oil and will have to change our sources of energy within the next 40 years anyways. But instead of just changing now, and preventing a global climate crisis, we will likely sit back and watch the show until it is too late and we kill ourselves off. The movie calls it the suicide of the human race. Yikes.
So, although this movie was set up as this futuristic doomsday thing, I felt like it actually did have some great information. But, if you are looking for some lighthearted information to relax to on a Thursday evening, this is not the thing. I have already learned about global warming and was aware of the information the movie presented to me, but viewing it in this light was enough to make me want to sell our car and never buy anything again. Pin It Now!

Friday, August 5, 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 
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