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, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We have been busy around here getting ready for Halloween. Our pumpkins are carved, decorations are hung, costumes are made, and trick or treating plans are set. Someone I know is very, very excited!
In the holiday spirit, I made some pumpkin shaped grahams crackers and pumpkin flavored ice cream last week. Yum.  Here is my pumpkin ice cream recipe (for your ice cream maker):
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 Tbl vanilla
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • pumpkin pie spices as desired
Wishing you all a fantastic Halloween! And I can't wait to see pictures of costumes tomorrow! 
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buying Local: An Update

For my Reducing my Impact project for the month of October, my focus has been to choose local. I did really well while grocery shopping, selecting produce, dairy and eggs all from the northwest (which I have tried to do for a long time), and I also did almost all of my grocery shopping this month at the local organic market, New Seasons. However, my sticking to local pretty much ended with food. I partly think that October was a hard month to buy local because we have been making Halloween costumes and preparing for Finn's birthday party. I needed things like plan onesies and tees, and fabric and craft supplies. I never realized how much I rely on corporate stores until I tried to think of a local business where I could buy these things and was stumped.
Of course I could buy used, but when you are looking for particular things in particular sizes and colors, I just don't have the time to search at every thrift store in Portland until I find the things that work. So, I ended up going to Target and Joann to get what I needed. I picked up my asthma medicine and Fred Meyer and once again realized my reliance on these corporate entities for my daily breathing. Is there such a thing as a local pharmacy?
I guess if I completely did not want to support these chain stores I would have to plan my Halloween costumes around what we could buy locally (or what we already had).... and not everyone in my family would have been happy about that. As far as my asthma medicine goes, I haven't a clue. Everything about a prescription scream corporate support.
If nothing else, this month has been a wake-up call to me on how much I do utilize non-local shops to get basic things that I need. I do plan to continue to support local shops when I can (and hopefully I will do better next month), but I am still left to wonder where one can buy basic goods locally. Maybe it is better to source out an internet-based company that is located across the country but where the goods are made in the US? I guess this is some food for thought for me.
And now I am happily off to the local toy store to pick up a few things for Finn's party next weekend! Pin It Now!

Friday, October 28, 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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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living Downstream: A Review

Tonight I was lucky enough to see a screening of the movie Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber. Sandra wrote a book by the same title which I read for an environmental science class during my undergrad (about 12 or so years ago.... yikes!). The film documents Sandra, an ecologist and cancer survivor, and discusses the relationships between our environment and the incidence of cancer.
The film is like many movies about environmental pollution, however, this one really personalizes it. Sandra entwines her personal story of living with cancer with the cancer research she has done, and puts a face to the statistic.
The film is informative, yet, like many environmental films, depressing. How can we let this happen to our environment? How can we let companies and farmers put chemicals into the environment that will  lead to people dying from cancer? How can we think any of this is OK?
For me, 2 moments stood out above all of the rest. The first is when Sandra is speaking to a room full of people and shows them a jar of breast milk. She discusses all of the magical aspects of breast milk, like the fact that it has antibodies and brain-building materials. And then she mentions that it is full of toxic compounds, from pesticides to plastics, endocrine disruptors and the like. At the time, I was seeing this move in a theater on the campus I teach at, and was breastfeeding Phoebe. I almost started to cry.
The second moment that really hit home was the last scene. Sandra again is speaking to a room of people and says that in her heart, she knows that our generation will be the last that is allowed to freely dump cancer-causing chemicals into the air and water. We now look back at slavery and think it was completely unthinkable that we ever allowed that to happen. Sandra hopes that her children one day look back at the chemicals we spew into out environment and think that that is also unthinkable. I actually did start to cry at this point. I hope she is right.
I thought this movie was well done and recommend it to anyone who knows anyone with cancer (yes, that is you). Check out the Living Downstream website for screening locations and more information.

P.S.- the book is definitely worth checking out as well! Pin It Now!

Loving Fall

We have been so very lucky and have had a lovely fall in Oregon. Many sun-filled days with cool crisp air. That may seem like a normal fall to most of you, but Portland often has lots of rain and fall seems to be gone in the blink of an eye.
We have been taking advantage of the weather and enjoying the great outdoors. On Monday we made it to Oxbow Park with some friends. Saw a bald eagle, saw fish (presumably salmon) jumping out of the water, and saw a whole lot of mushrooms. We even brought a few mushrooms home and made some spore prints (however, we did it on white paper and all of the caps except one had off-white spores!).
Mostly though, we have just been wandering around our block, noticing the differences from our last visit. I love this time of year because things change so quickly that we can walk our same street every day and find new changes each time.
We have been collecting things on our walks, bringing them home and using them for art projects. Keeping them as reminders of my favorite time of year.
Before I know it, winter will be here and these sunny days will be few and far between. Until then, we will continue to roam the neighborhood, to take in the changes surrounding us, and to enjoy this oh-too-short season we call fall.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

180 Degrees South: A Review

A couple of nights ago, the hubby and I stayed up watching an excellent movie entitled 180 Degrees South. It's mainly an adventure film that depicts Jeff Johnson's excursion to a remote area of Patagonia, where he does some extreme surfing and ice climbing with several well known climbers. In addition to the breath-taking scenery and the extreme athleticism, this film also does a wonderful job of incorporating environmental concerns into Jeff's adventure. The film touches on population growth and resource consumption, global warming, pollution, and several other "hot" environmental concerns. While the film is still mainly focused on the adventure, I love how these environmental tid-bits are trucked in. It connects the environment to the "real-world", showing those who are not scientists how everything is connected.
I would recommend this film for all! The only downside: it totally made me want to jump on a plane to patagonia (not so great for my carbon footprint)! Pin It Now!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Tastes of Fall.....

A couple of weeks ago we went apple picking, and followed that by a trip to the pumpkin farm where we got 20 pounds of pears. So, I spent a lot of time these past couple of weeks processing fruit. We made apple sauce, apple butter, apple fruit leather, apple pie, apple muffins, pear sauce and pear fruit leather. I am glad that all of that cooking and canning is over with, for now, but I do miss the smell of fruit cooking on the stove.
I have been craving fall foods though, and want winter squash, kale and sweet potatoes for every meal. And I just made a batch of pumpkin ice cream for tomorrow's pumpkin carving extravaganza!
What have you been eating this fall? What are your favorite fall recipes?

this face is a "I have pear leather stuck in my teeth" face!
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Seattle Adventure

We spent Friday and Saturday in Seattle visiting some friends, seeing some music, eating wonderful food, and exploring new places. The weather was mostly rainy, but it was light enough that we still had plenty of outdoor time. As always, it was fun to get away for a couple of days, and (as always) was nice to return to the comforts of our own home.

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Friday, October 21, 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, October 20, 2011

Things I am Loving Right Now

The cool, crisp fall morning air

The smell of apples, pears and pumpkins baking in my kitchen

Enormously fat, chubby baby rolls

That Finn's new favorite breakfast is oatmeal topped with parmesean cheese (eww, right?)

Lemony chickpea stir fry (find the recipe here)

The simple joys, like a pile of leaves, that an almost-4-year-old discovers every day.

What Are You Loving These Days? 

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yarning Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along.
So, I still haven't finished Phoebe's crossover sweater yet.. I just haven't had much time to knit. I have finished both front pieces and the back piece, and have started the first sleeve. Each week I think that I will have it done for "next week's" yarn along.... but I have been working on this for many (many) weeks. I also started knitting a pirate crown for Finn's pirate birthday party that will be in a few weeks. It is  a little bit easier to transport than a sweater, so I thought I could maybe get some on-the-go knitting done. ;)
In the book department, I finished The Historian, which I loved (and is why I haven't done much knitting), and couldn't decide what to read, so I started reading four books at once. Whew!  I picked up All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms from the library in hopes that Finn and I would have some time to do some mushroom looking (and hopefully spore prints) in the next week or to. This book came recommended to me by a naturalist friend and is, so far, great. From the looks of the cover I could have sworn it was from the 1970's, but it was actually published in 1991. I am also browsing through Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects which has some darn cute stuff in there. If only I had a bunch of old wool sweaters and a whole lot of time. Some of the projects are really cute though, like the ornaments, cupcake pincushion and a robot sweater. I may get inspired to try at least one of them out before I return this back to the library! I finally got my turn at Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl and am so excited to read through all of the projects. I will share some of what I learn after I finish! Lastly, I am reading Dragonflight, the first in Anne McCaffreys' Dragonriders of Pern series. 
Maybe I will actually have that darn sweater finished by next week? Wish me luck!
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Homemade Baby Food (and some sneaky vegetables)

Phoebe is at the age where she can eat purees, so I have been making big batches of homemade baby food and freezing them in serving-size portions. So far she is not a huge fan of my cooking and much prefers jarred. Boo.
Anyways, my friend Wintry gave me a great tip... when she makes baby food for her youngest, she makes big batches and sneaks these purees into food that she cooks for her older child. Finn is actually a pretty good eater and isn't super picky (most of the time anyways)... but what kid couldn't use a few more veggies? So, I tried Wintry's tip and it totally worked.... just make pasta and add a few cubes of veggie purees, top it off with some cheese and you have super-duper mac and cheese (p.s.- this even works for the boxed kind!). For some reason, if they can't see the actual vegetables, there never seems to be an issue. I am hoping to get a freezer full of these little cubes and plan on just throwing them into whatever Finn is eating.
Do you ever sneak veggies into your kiddos food? Pin It Now!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Patch and A Trip to the Farm

We had a busy weekend filled with a trip to the pumpkin patch on Saturday and a field trip to a farm with Finn's preschool on Sunday. We were incredibly lucky that the weather held out for us both days (and we even had some blue sky). Today's trip to the farm was cool and foggy, giving it a mysterious, very autumn-y feeling.

How was your weekend? Pin It Now!

Friday, October 14, 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 

Please check out Monday's post on Killing It With Kindness and help out if you can! Happy Weekend! Pin It Now!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Straw Revolution: A Review

One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka has been on my to-read list for a long time.... over 2 years. When I finally picked it up to read it, I wondered why on earth it had taken me so long. This book was captivating, easy to read, and was much more than I expected it to be.
One Straw Revolution is a book about natural farming. I was expecting it to be more of a hands-on technical type book (which are often slow reading), but in fact it was quite spiritual and philosophical. The author, Fukuoka, uses natural methods to farm his land in Japan. And by natural, he does not mean that he uses organic compost and fertilizer... he actually follows what nature would do, planting nitrogen-fixing legumes in rotation with his rice crops, and also putting the "waste" straw from his rice harvest back onto the field. He uses almost no added nutrients, does not compost, and does not worry about pests. His pests change from year to year, and his expectation are that he will lose a small portion of his yield to pests. Not fighting against the pests allows the natural cycle to take place, and rarely do losses from pests become large.
Fukuoka talks about how the modern system of agriculture is not sustainable, and how it is destroying our environment. He believes that one day we will all have to use his methods of natural farming because we will not have the resources left to continue our current farming practices. The most amazing thing about all of this is that this book was published in 1978, before anyone was really aware of the destruction that our agricultural methods were causing. I take that back, obviously some people, like Fukuoka were aware, but for most of us, the move away from conventional farming is just now starting to happen (and many people still don't have a clue how much damage modern agricultural practices are creating). However, this movement towards "organic" and "natural" farming here in the US is not what Fukuoka is talking about. Organic is obviously better than non-organic, but according to One Straw, it still causes environmental destruction and it wastes time and energy. Fukuoka laughs at how organic farmers take crop residues, compost them, and then return them to their field (I guess he is laughing at me because this is what I do!). The crop rotation he has going allows him to just leave residues on the fields, and he grows alternating sets of crops that are not affected by the pests of the last crop. So, by the time a crop gets rotated through again, any pests that would affect it have been long gone. It is a magical system, I must say.
Interspersed through all of this talk of farming is talk of the power of nature and the spiritual side of growing food and sustaining oneself, which makes the book seem much more poetic than simply a book about farming. The downsides to this book are, well, of course, I don't live in Japan and I am curious how the system he uses would work where I live with the crops that I eat.. it seems like such a simple set up, yet how simple would it be to recreate it here, with the crops that grow where I live? Also, the end of the book goes into this mini-rant about how food should be simple. How dinners don't need to be fancy, how we don't need seasonings, and how food should be enjoyed with its natural flavor. I do agree that over-seasoning something or over-processing things can really detract from the flavor as well as the health benefits, however, I love eating deliciously prepared and seasoned food. He says that salt is the only seasoning that should be used.... Why? Seasonings are herbs, which are also plants and they make food taste wonderful. So, he may be a master farmer but it sounds like his palette could use a little pick-me-up.
Anyways, this is a great read and one that I should have read long ago! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homesteading Disasters (Or I've Been Weeviled)

So, some of you may remember a post where I talked about dehydrating blueberries,  and despite going way longer than the dehydrator instructions, I wasn't completely convinced they were dry. I had a great suggestion to put the dried blues in the freezer, in case they weren't 100% dry. But, sadly, by the time we got home from California, they had already started to mold. This almost brought tears to my eyes. Luckily though, since this was my first time using a dehydrator, I envisioned that something like this might happen. So I only dried about a pint of the blues and either froze or ate the rest fresh. So, at least I didn't lose my whole harvest and next time I will know that they need to go longer. Much longer.
In other garden news, in August I posted about saving seeds from my pea plants. Well, yesterday I decided to check in on them and this is what I found:
Ewww, right? With a quick google search I found out that they are cowpea weevils, a type of beetle that eats pea seeds. Awesome. I guess I will be buying my pea seeds next year. They are pretty fascinating though, because you can see the holes where they ate their way out of the seed. My question is how the heck do I prevent the weevils from getting into my seeds? And was I eating them when I ate my fresh snap peas? Yikes. Anyone have any experience with these pesky guys? I am obviously going to toss these seeds, but I would like to be able to save (pest-free seeds) in the future. What am I doing wrong? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finn's Birthday Countdown

Finn will be turning 4 in a little less than a month! He has requested a pirate party (and he wants it outside, which is a little crazy for a November birthday in Portland) and preparations are officially underway! In order to give him a sense of how long until his birthday, I made him a birthday countdown. It's a buried treasure; each day he will remove a grain of sand and be one day closer to his special day! Pin It Now!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Killing It With Kindness

My fabulous friend Wintry, who blogs at Mama Wintry, lost her sweet niece Tuesday in 2009 to a rare form of childhood cancer. Since her passing, her family has started whatchagonnado, an organization that raises money to help ease the burden of families who have a child struggling with cancer.
Whatchagonnado is teaming up with etsy sellers to raise money for their cause. Each month, one or more artists will be donating 20% of their sales to whatchgonnado. This month, my wonderful friend Heidi, who blogs at Under the Humble Moon, is donating sales from her etsy shop, Humble Luna. She makes fantastic dragon tails (just in time for Halloween!!) and other lovely children's items.  I will be donating 20% of sales from my etsy shop during the month of February (don't worry, I will remind you all again then!!).
So, how can you help! First off, make sure to check out Humble Luna this month. Also, whatchagonnado is looking for more etsy artisans to commit to a month! If you have an etsy shop and would like to donate 20% of your sales for a month, please either let me or Wintry know. You would be helping a wonderful cause (and it is great free advertising for your shop!). Don't have an etsy shop but want to help? Spread the word! Feel free to grab the whatchagonnado button and put it on your blog! Share this post on your blog or on facebook! Ask your talented friends if they would like to join in to "kill it with kindness". The families they help will surely thank you for it! Pin It Now!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Apple Picking

Fall has arrived and we have the apples to prove it. Today we headed to Hood River to pick apples and to enjoy a day of sunshine! We were also surprised by strawberries that were ready to pick...In October! So we picked, we ate, we conquered. I think I know what my next few days have in store..... I will keep you posted on what these apples get turned into!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Ivy Pullin'!

Today I brought my students out to do some volunteer work instead of the typical field trip we do on Friday mornings.  We headed to a section of Forest Park (with an employee who works for the city of Portland there to lead us) and we helped to demolish as much english ivy as we could in an hour and a half.
English ivy is a terribly invasive species in Portland. It spreads by seeds and by roots, and the mild winters here allow it to thrive and continue growing all winter long. It is everywhere. We helped to restore a small part of the Forest Park ecosystem back to its native plants. It felt really good to spend my morning getting rid of a pile of the invasive ivy, and it made me want to make volunteering a more regular thing. I think Finn, who is almost 4, is probably old enough to come along on some volunteer adventures, and would probably learn a thing or two as well.
Do you have invasive species where you live? Do you and your family find time to volunteer? Pin It Now!