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, February 29, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along.
Well, not much knitting happened this past week, with my mom in town, a first birthday party, and a lot of catching up on life to do! I did manage to finish Phoebe's aardvark, which will be her birthday present, along with the dress I finished up a few weeks ago. I also managed to finish up a knit gift for a baby-on-the-way, and managed to sneak in a few rows of Phoebe's tea-party top.
I am still reading Pride and Prejudice, although I am starting to get into much more, and it seems to be easier going. I am also still finishing up Eating Animals, and am loving it.
My next dilemma is choosing a book to have my class read next term for a literature review. I am debating between 4 books, 2 of which I have read previously (Soil Not Oil And The Weathermakers) and 2 of which I have not (We Are The Weathermakers and Eaarth). My plan is to read We Are The Weathermakers and Eaarth, and then to skim through the ones I have read previously to try and see which would be the best fit for my class next term. But, looking at that stack of to-reads (and all non-fiction on the same topic!) sort of makes me shutter!!
What are you reading and knitting?
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A First Birthday Party

We had Phoebe's first birthday party over the weekend. Her actual birthday isn't until Thursday, but my mom was in town and we wanted to include her in the celebration.
A couple of months ago, when we first mentioned Phoebe's party, Finn decided that it would be a mermaid party. And a mermaid party it was. And, essentially, he planned the whole thing...

First off, we needed a mermaid pinata. A mermaid pinata I asked? How on earth will we make one of those? And, it was actually even harder than I had anticipated. And, the only part that Finn would help with was the painting and the stuffing, so we couldn't even really blame the poor artistic quality on him! Instead of doing a traditional pinata where you take turns trying to bash it, we stuffed the pinata from a trap door in the bottom, and then taped a bunch of ribbons to the bottom of the mermaid. Only one ribbon pulled the trap door open and each child had a turn to come up and choose a ribbon to pull. Let me tell you- the anticipation was fantastic. If you are ever gutsy enough to make your own pinata, I would suggest the ribbon method. And I would also suggest making a shape that is not a mermaid.

Finn also insisted that I sew Phoebe a skirt out of mermaid fabric. Easy enough, right? Except that the only mermaid fabric I could find had to be ordered from etsy and was pretty expensive. But, it is darn cute.

And of course, a birthday crown! This one I needle-felted a mermaid onto. I thought it looked cute. Too bad she wore it for about 15 seconds.

For decorations, I made a PHOEBE banner out of some of the leftover mermaid fabric, and also made some simple felt garland, an idea that my friend Heidi had for her son's party recently. It was so cute that I just had to make some of my own....Finn made his own mermaid flags and also decorated the party bags with mermaids (some of them were superhero mermaids).

And, the best part.... cupcakes! Chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and coconut cupcakes with buttercream frosting. All courtesy of Martha Stewart. I guess I should also thank her for the couple of pounds I have probably gained from eating the leftover cupcakes!

All in all, the party was a success, Phoebe only cried a few times, and nothing disastrous happened. I just can't believe my baby is already (almost) one. Pin It Now!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for another weekending post....

Busy weekend, not a moment to relax.
Phoebe' first birthday party
(held a few days early so that my mom could join in too).
Lots of preparation and decorations,
cupcakes and snacks.
The party went off without a hitch!
(A separate post with details will follow soon...).
A farewell dinner with mom at a favorite restaurant
And a most delicious margarita to celebrate the end of a good day!

Sunday morning brought an early morning trip to the airport
And a sad goodbye to my mom.
A walk with the dogs in the rain,
and a much needed trip to the gym
(it had been way too long).
Lots of cleaning and laundry,
and a huge purge of my closet.
How refreshing!
A new bookshelf and shoe rack,
and some much needed re-organizing.
Some prep work for school,
Some meals using what we had on hand,
And leftover cupcakes for dessert.

Now, both kids are finally asleep,
and for the first time today,
I am going to sit, relax,
and probably fit in some knitting.

How was your weekend? Pin It Now!

Friday, February 24, 2012

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, February 23, 2012

Upcycled Skirt

I made this skirt a few weeks back when I was feeling a creative surge. I was looking through my upcycle bin My upcycle bin is a bin (well actually it is 2 bins, but don't tell my husband) full of old clothes that are not worn in their current form... and I sometimes use them to create new clothes for me or the kiddos.
This skirt was once a shirt that I wore while I was pregnant with Finn. While it wasn't a maternity shirt, it's not something I would have ever picked if I wasn't pregnant and I knew I would never wear it again. So, I whipped up a quick skirt. It is a bit shorter than what I would usually wear, so it needs to be paired with leggings, but it is super comfy and I think it came out well.
I love having those little windows of time to myself where I can create.. especially when I can create something that is not on my to-make list. Those times are few and far between these days, so I have come to truly appreciate them.
Do you ever upcycle?
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along. I had a bit of a knitting catastrophe this week when I tried Phoebe's birthday dress on her and it wouldn't fit over her head. At all. Like, not even close to fitting over her noggin. Bummer, right? After much debate of whether I should cut and sew, undo, or just give in and give up, I decided to go the undo route. So... I undid the trim, and re-did the trim, but this time much more loosely. And luckily, I saved it. It fits, and it didn't come unraveled. And it still looks cute. Phew. Other than my knitting mis-adventure, I haven't had too much time to knit this week as my mom is in town for a visit. I still have a bunch of stuff on the needles, but I currently am focused on this aardvark that I am knitting Phoebe for her birthday. Cute, right?
I am still reading Pride and Prejudice. I am enjoying it, but also feel that the formal writing style is making it rather slow-going. I also just started Eating Animals. I enjoy Foer's writing style, so I am pretty sure I am going to enjoy this one.
What are you reading and knitting? Pin It Now!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some Mama Time....

My mom is in town for a visit (which explains why I have been a pretty absent blogger this past week). I am so happy to have her here, spending time with us, and so happy that she is willing to withstand our very meager accommodations...Because we have such a small house, her 'guest bed' is actually the bottom bunk on Finn's bed. That means she has to sleep with the lights part-way on and is forced to get up by 6 a.m. to play I-Spy and Where's Waldo. But,.... at least she is not sharing a room with Miss Phoebe who currently thinks that 3 a.m. is the perfect time to rise and shine for the day. How did I get such early-rising children?
We have been busy ever since my mom arrived... I had to work 2 of the days and we have been preparing for Phoebe's first birthday party next weekend (yes, I have put my mom to work helping me craft!). Today, we finally had a chance to have an Oregon experience, and a true Oregon experience it was. We headed up to see Multnomah Falls. The sky was so grey that we couldn't even see the top of the falls and the rain fell steadily the entire time we were outside. Lush green vegetation, the roar of rushing water, and getting soaked..... now that is Oregon.
Hoping for a day or two of sun while she is here, but until then, I am enjoying some family time, even in the rain. Pin It Now!

Friday, February 17, 2012

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, February 15, 2012

Yarning Along and Some Finished Handmade Gifts...

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along. I have been casting on a lot of knitting projects lately, and have had trouble sitting down to focus on finishing anything up. I finally put the finishing touches on Phoebe's pixie hat and finished up Finn's monster just in time for Valentine's Day. Finn's monster was actually the hardest thing that I have knit, which was completely unexpected because the cover of the book even talks about how easy these monsters are to knit. And most of it was easy. Except for those darn feet! Three toes on each foot that had to each be knit separately, and then put back onto dpns to knit up correctly into a foot. Let's just say that I had a few do-overs and neither foot is perfect. But, since it is a monster, I figured some disfigurement was OK. I think the instructions were a wee bit lacking (at least for this particular monster). I actually think he turned out really cute. I added a heart, for V-Day, and was glad I finished him (I had thought about giving up a few times). Finn has named him "Finn". Now I have 2 monsters named Finn living in my house!
After finishing up those projects, I still have a surprise baby gift, a hat for me, and a top for Phoebe all on needles, and I need to start a gift for Phoebe's birthday which is in 2 weeks. I am not going to cast on anything else until those 4 projects are completed. There. I said it. Now that it is out in the blogosphere, I can't go back on my word now.... can I?
And, I also whipped up a skirt for Phoebe for Valentine's Day as well. It was actually a trial skirt for her birthday skirt I will be making soon. I had never sewn a skirt before and wanted to give it a test run before using her special birthday fabric. It came out all right, but I need to make the next one a little more roomy to make it over those cloth diapers more easily.
Still reading Pride and Prejudice and finishing up The Big Thirst. Too much life has been happening to get much reading done.
What are you knitting? Reading?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day (And Some Cute Heart Garland)

Happy Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day tends to be pretty low-key around here, although we do have a few traditions..... Each year, we make homemade Valentine's for Finn's cousins, Finn makes a homemade Valentine for his papa (and we make a surprise batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies to go with it), and the kids get a small surprise in the morning. This year I managed to whip up a couple of hand-made gifts for the kiddos.... I will hopefully get some photos of those to share with you all tomorrow.
We also do a few simple decorations, mostly consisting of some simple paper hearts. This year we added some heart garland to get us in the Valentine's spirit. I got the idea for this super-cute heart garland here. It was quick and easy to do. I ended up using cardstock as construction paper crinkled and just wouldn't bend right. Finn had fun helping (he did the stapling) and was very excited to show papa when he got home.

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Monday, February 13, 2012


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for another weekending post....

This weekend we went on an excursion.
Friday afternoon, we packed up the car,
and headed to Hood River with 3 other families.
We had a huge rental home that was located on an orchard,
with lovely views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

There was lots of eating and drinking,
chasing and laughing,
playing and chatting...
But not enough sleeping. For anyone.

Wonderful weather with sunny days,
views that couldn't be beat.
Saturday morning we headed up the hill
to take the kids sledding.
The snow hill was mostly covered in mud
with just enough ice to take a sled down.
It was fun, but not exactly
a winter wonderland....

Saturday night brought a gorgeous sunset,
tired and cranky kids,
and early bedtimes for everyone.
A lovely weekend, however,
with seven kids under the same roof,
it was far from relaxing.

Sunday we headed home, unpacked and relaxed.
A night of preparations for a busy week,
and some last-minute Valentine's crafting.
Bedtime came, and Todd and I sat.
And enjoyed the quiet.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

This Moment: Super Finn

{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, February 9, 2012

Earth From Above: A Review

Earth From Above has been around for awhile, but the 10th anniversary edition came out recently and we snagged it from the library. The book is amazing. There are aerial photos from around the globe from things like glacial rivers in Greenland to fabric drying in India. The photos are gorgeous, fascinating, and are all related to environmental issue.
Each chapter of the book includes a summary of a different environmental issue, things like ecosystem decline, population growth, agricultural impacts, water pollution, biodiversity, overfishing, climate change, the current energy crises, and micro-credit. The pictures within each chapter often relate to the summary topic discussed.
This book would be a perfect parallel for the class I teach.. it basically sums up almost all of the topics that I discuss into 3 or 4 page segments and has these fantastic pictures to go with it. If the book was not so gargantuan and enormously heavy (and probably expensive too) I would recommend my students using this as their textbook-- or at least as a companion!
I have had this book checked out from the library for about 2 months now, and Finn and I have really enjoyed slowly going through the book, looking at the photos, and talking about what we see. I am a total sucker for photographs, as well as all things environmental, but this book is definitely worth a look. I only wish I could go visit all of these places in person.. (sigh). Pin It Now!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yarn Along (and a continued case of "startitis")

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things. Can't believe it's already time for another yarn along!
So, I made some progressed and finished up a few things this past week: I finally put the finishing flowers on Phoebe's dress (she isn't modelling it because it is supposed to be a birthday present), I finished up a wee baby hat for a friend (not shown as it is to be a surprise), and I almost finished up Phoebe's pixie hat (just need to weave in a couple loose ends and add the button). Sadly, I made the 12-24 month version, and now, at 11 months, it is already pushing too small. My children have  enormous noggins.
I am still (slowly) working on Finn's Valentine's monster. It is ending up being quite a bit more entailed than I had expected, so I have been sort of avoiding it. If I want to actually get it done in time, I need to get a move on...
OK, so I have problems. I also casted-on a tea-top for Phoebe, another secret project for a baby-to-be, and this hat for myself. I am just too scattered brained to focus on one thing at a time these days!!
I am still reading The Big Thirst and also started reading Pride and Prejudice for my book club. I got an e-reader for Christmas, which I was a little hesitant about using, but I found P&P for only $0.99 and so I am giving it a whirl. It is weird not to have the feel of a read page in-between my hands, but I must say that it is pretty convenient. And, although I haven't researched into them, they seem like an environmental plus because of all of the paper and processing energy saved over printing books.
What are you reading and knitting this week?
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fleas? Oh Geez....

So, with 5 animals in our house, and in a climate that is very supportive of fleas, we are no strangers to these gross pests. But, for the past year or so, the fleas have seemed to leave us alone, and I forgot what a huge pain in the butt they are to deal with.
About 2 months ago, Moshi, our puppy, started to itch. And I mean itch. Really bad, non-stop, itching. We thought she was having an allergy to something she was eating. We decided it couldn't possibly be fleas, because the heart worm meds that our dogs take also prevent fleas from reproducing. So, while fleas may come in contact with them, they can't have babies and the population should be self limiting. Or so I thought.....
Eventually, after Moshi was so itchy that she had scabs on her back and her face was swelling, I brought her into the vet for help. Fleas, they told me. She has fleas. They found one on her. Only one. Hmmmm. So, my first question was how does one flea cause a reaction like this? Answer: an extreme flea allergy. Lovely. We have a dog that is extremely allergic to fleas. My second question was how is she having this reaction when she is on a flea preventative? Sadly, since we also have cats in our home, that we were not treating for fleas, they were acting as the reproductive hosts, and then the fleas could bounce back and forth from the dogs (but could only breed when on the cats). I was told that I would have to constantly treat all 5 animals with a flea medicine, otherwise Moshi would continue to have serious reactions to the few fleas that were in our environment. An hour and a couple hundred dollars later, I left the vet with a couple months worth of flea treatments for our zoo.
I was told that these spot-on topical treatments (we chose Advantage) were completely safe for our dogs, as well as for us. In fact, the vet said, some of the drug reps even come in here and lick this stuff to show us how safe it is. I thought that that sounded like a very stupid idea, and still thought the medicine posed some risks, but what else was I going to do? My dog was allergic to fleas. The vets assured me it was safe, gave me no warnings or precautions... how bad could it be?
We gave the animals the first round when I got home, the itching subsided, and everyone seemed happy. Well, today the animal's monthly dose of flea meds was due. Todd put it on the pets, we made dinner, and as we sat down to eat, we noticed a big "stain" on our leather couch. Upon closer inspection, that "satin" was really an area where the leather finish had been stripped away.... by the topical flea treatment after the dogs had laid down (see photo below).
This of course, freaked me out, and I ran to the computer. Yup, these treatments could act as solvents and strip away finishes.. if it was doing that to the couch, what is it doing to the skin on my animals? Further research suggested that these flea treatments are in fact not benign, like I was told, but full of potentially dangerous chemicals that could harm my pets or the people in my house!
So, I spent the next half hour or so researching some completely natural methods or keeping the fleas out of house... without any toxins. I thought I would share what I found here.

  1. Use herbs to repel fleas. Fill a squirt bottle with essential oils of clove, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, or citronella (or your favorite combination) and spray pet with it every week or so to keep fleas away.
  2. Bath animals regularly. For dogs, rinse with water that has been steeped overnight with lemons to repel fleas. I heard cat's skin was too sensitive for this.
  3. Add brewers yeast and garlic to their food to repel fleas
  4. Add zinc (10 mg for cats and 20 mg for dogs) to their food daily
  5. Keep the house clean! Vacuum the floors and furniture and then empty vacuum bag outside into trash. If you leave it in the vacuum, or dump it in the inside trash, any eggs could hatch and re-infect the house. Wash all pet bedding and dry on hot cycle in dryer on regular basis.
  6. Use diatemaceous earth. This is basically small pieces of silica that will kill fleas without being harmful to pets or kids, even if swallowed. You can sprinkle it around house, especially into cracks, sprinkle onto pet bedding, and even rub into your pet's fur.
I am ready to stop using these chemicals and try some natural methods for keeping the fleas away. Do you have pets? Do you have to treat for fleas in your area? If so, how do you do it? Do you have any great natural remedies to share?
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Monday, February 6, 2012


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for a weekending post.... 

This weekend was the perfect mix of
excitement and relaxation
(Although I was not nearly as "productive"
as I had hoped I would be.
But who really needs a clean house anyways?)

Friday evening, Todd and I headed out
on a double date with dear friends.
Dinner and music, The Wood Brothers,
which was a most fabulous show.
I certainly got my groove on...
We came home to some not-so-happy kids
(and a not-so-happy babysitter)....
Oh well.
At least it was worth it for a night on the town.

Saturday morning Todd brought home
the best French pastries and a rice milk latte.
The sun was out and spring seemed to be
in the air.
Finn and I roamed the neighborhood
and noticed buds beginning to form
and bulbs pushing their leaves
out of the ground.
A trip to the park
because we couldn't stay away from the sun,
and then I headed to a baby blessing
for my dear friend Heidi.
Delicious cupcakes, wonderful conversation
and a lovely wet-felted wall hanging
for the mama-to-be.
I came home to good wine and Italian dinner
(thank you hubby),
as well as to a cranky 4 year old who went to bed at 6:30.
A movie and some knitting,
a little bit of reading,
and ended the night snuggled up with Miss P.

Sunday morning, we got up and
headed to the coast!
I was so in need of the ocean
and the soothing sound of the waves.
The dogs ran wild,
Finn dug and built,
and a crawling Phoebe realized that she was
not so fond of sand.
On the drive home both kiddos slept.
Mama was happy and knit the whole way back.
Back in Portland
it felt like spring
Warm and sunny
and people outside everywhere.
Dinner on the grill,
the boys watched the superbowl.
And I enjoyed a few moments of silence
before the start of a hectic week.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Year Long Adventure: Month 10: Reducing Consumption of Processed Foods

For the past 9 months, I have been trying to find ways that I can reduce my family's impact on the earth. For February, I am going to be focused on reducing the amount of processed foods that we eat. Not only are these foods not so great for our bodies, they are also taxing on the earth... processing food takes lots of water and energy, causes the food to be transported, and also necessitates increased packaging. All things that are harming the environment.
The problem is, my family (and most of our society) is addicted to these types of foods. Although we try and choose more natural snacks, we eat a lot of corn chips in this house. We also keep stashes of crackers for Phoebe to gnaw on and granola bars on hand to grab as we run out the door. With busy lives, these foods are convenient snacks, and something that I have become a bit too reliant on. I don't plan to eliminate processed foods from our home (I am not crazy), but I would love to reduce what we consume. 
This month, I am surely not going to swear off processed foods, but I am going to make an effort at buying less of them. This mean replacing some of those quick and easy snacks that we are accustomed to with homemade snacks. Eating more fresh fruits and veggies instead of crackers and granola bars.This means more work and planning on my part, but I think it is do-able. Hopefully I will find some new and exciting recipes that I can share here.
If anyone has some great recipes for some easy homemade snacks, please pass them along. My family will thank you! Pin It Now!

Friday, February 3, 2012

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, February 2, 2012

Sharing the Love....

This month, Green Mama Design, my etsy shop, will be donating 20% of my sales to, an organization that helps families of children with cancer. So, check it out and spread the word! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for another Yarn Along. I have had one of those weeks where I just want to cast-on new projects and don't seem to be finishing anything....
I am really almost done with Phoebe's dress now. I have finished the dress and blocked it, and I have also knitted the flowers I am going to add to it. But, for some reason, I just can't make myself actually sew the flowers on. I am also almost done with Phoebe's pixie hat. I probably only have 6 rows left and then I need to stitch it up, add the band and block it. But, I made a little mistake, and one of my rows is offset. I don't think anyone can tell except for me, but of course it is all I can look at, and it has made me less motivated to finish it up. I also started this knit monster for Finn for a Valentine's present. And, I also started knitting up a little present for a baby-to-be, which I won't share here just in case.. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. So, as I said, lots of casting on. Hopefully, next week I will have lots of finished things to show you!
I started reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan, which I was actually inspired to read after I watched the movie last weekend. I found the movie to be just so-so, but the topic seemed interesting and I wanted to learn more. I figured (correctly) that the book would have much more detail. I also just picked up The Big Thirst from the library. It correlates pretty well with what I am teaching in class this term, so I figured I would give it a go.
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!