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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Know Your Mushrooms: A Review

Know Your Mushrooms is a pretty hilarious film that brings viewers into the world of mushroom hunters and their subculture. I enjoy eating mushrooms, and am fascinated by them, but have never learned enough about them to be able to ID most, and certainly don't know enough to go into the woods to forage for mushrooms for my dinner. But, they do captivate me, and I would one day like to be comfortable collecting mushrooms for my dinner (maybe with an experienced mycologist by my side!)
Anyways, this movie put my husband right to sleep, but I thought it was funny and entertaining. The introduction has a very 70's feel (even though it is a 2008 film) and makes you feel like you are embarking on a magic-mushroom 'trip'. The majority of the film surrounds the 2007 Telluride Mushroom Festival... mushroom lectures, mushroom hunting day trips, mushroom parades, and lots of cooking with mushrooms. It honestly looks like a lot of fun, especially since Telluride is one of the most beautiful places on Earth!
Interspersed throughout the festival highlights are zany stories from the mushroom gurus and well as lots of fascinating facts about mushrooms. Some mushroom have medicinal properties that can help auto-immune problems or inhibit tumor growth. Other mushrooms can be used to clean up oil spills or other areas of pollution. Mushrooms can even be used to bleach paper white (a much safer alternative than the dioxin-producing bleach that is currently used).
I didn't learn a whole lot from this film, as I have been fascinated by mushrooms for awhile and have read a couple of books about them already (my favorite was Mycellium Running, by Paul Stamets, and you can read my review here). However, I thought the film was definitely worth the watch for the entertainment alone. Even though it is a modern film, I felt like I had stepped back in time, and I enjoyed getting a peak into the subculture of mushroom fanatics. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things today for another yarn along.
I am still working on my Helena sweater for Phoebe. I have finished the body down until the part that becomes a lace pattern. I am terrible at doing lace patterns because I always lose my train of thought, start daydreaming, and forget where I was. SO,.... I have dedicated the rest of the sweater to be done on nights when I am not watching a movie, talking to my husband, or anything else that will distract me even more than my own brain does! We need a day camping, or a long car ride...... I also decided that I think I want to make this Helena a short sleeved cardigan, and not the full sleeves written into the patter. With warmer weather headed this way, it just feels right.
Since the Helena sweater has gotten to a point where I need to concentrate, I threw a basic hat on some needles for myself. I need something warm and cozy for cool nights camping, or for the fall and winter to come. It is mindless, which is exactly what I need!
What am I reading? Well, sorry to bore you all, but I am still reading all of the same books from last week:, Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest, The Urban Homestead (which I am almost done with!),  Raising Your Spirited Child and The Inventions of Huge Cabret, which Finn and I are reading before bed. Hopefully next week I will have finished at least one of these! My yarn along posts are getting redundant!!
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Memorial Day Hike

Todd was able to take Monday off of work, and we headed to some nearby woods for an afternoon of hiking and exploring. The weather was overcast and rainy, but we managed to stay dry under the thick canopy of trees. It was nice to be out in nature together as a family.... with our busy schedules, that is something that happens with less frequency than I would like. I often take the kids out alone, but I must say that it is nice to have another adult along.
We did some hiking...

Found quite a few snails..

...and some slugs.

Then Finn decided to impersonate a snail, and the way that they pull in their eyes when they are nervous:

We found some ferns. A lot of ferns, actually.

And we found a few faerie homes.

Phoebe enjoyed the scenery from my back, although I could tell that she was wishing she could have been crawling around (there was poison oak there, however, so we weren't willing to let her explore!)
How was your Memorial Day? Pin It Now!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Eco-Friendly Architecture and Living Machines

My class on the eco-roof (reflected in the mirrored building)
Last week I took my class on our weekly field trip (yes, college students get to go on field trips too... at least mine do!). We headed to the airport to one of the on-site office buildings. It is a new Leed-Platinum-certified building with a whole host of sustainability features incorporated into the design.
The building included an eco-roof (complete with honeybee hives), geothermal heating and cooling, large windows to capture daylight and minimize the need for lighting, reclaimed wood paneling, recycled carpets, and a bunch of other designs helped to increase efficiency and decrease resource use. However, the coolest part of this building is the "living machine" that sits in the lobby. This 'machine' is an on-site sewage treatment plant that cleans and recycles the non-potable (essentially toilet water) within the building. No need for transporting the water to a sewage treatment plant, which means big energy savings, and major reductions in the buildings water use.
This system was so cool, and was just sitting there in the lobby, looking like a big planter. It made me wonder why all new buildings today aren't constructed like this... Is it the cost? The worry about the system failing? A possible smell? It just seems to make sense to capture your wastewater and re-use it, even if it is only re-used to flush toilets. 
I have read about several municipalities who recycle 100% of their water and turn it back into drinking water. The system we saw doesn't do that, but it wouldn't take much more to bring it to that next level. I think the main issue when we discuss water recycling is the mental image that people can't seem to get past.... If that water was previously inside a dirty toilet, and now, after cleaning it, people are expected to drink it? At first, it does seem a little grotesque. However, the water coming out of your tap is likely cleaned sewage water that was them dumped back into a river (where more pollutants combine with it, probably making it dirtier) and then re-cleaned before coming out of your tap. The same water that we are drinking now has been around for millions of years. It has been polluted, it has been peed out by dinosaurs, it has traveled through the gills of a fish. After much thought and debate inside my head, I have decided that I would be OK with drinking recycled wastewater (assuming that it has been cleaned!). I think that this living machine is the first step in bringing people's awareness to our water use, and how our water use and energy consumption can be significantly reduce by acting more like nature. By taking care of things on a local scale, by re-using and simplifying, and by re-thinking the way that we approach problems.
Would you be willing to drink recycled wastewater?
Eco-roof plants

Lower eco-roof

Living Machine in lobby of building.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Very Yummy Lemon Pound Cake

We had a few friends over for dessert last night, and I wanted to try out a new recipe (which, by the way, is something I always seem to do when we have guests over.. which, is rather risky since you really don't know how it is going to turn out. My husband constantly makes fun of me for this... especially when my experiments don't turn out as planned). Anyways, last night's recipe was a winner, and I thought I would share.

Lemon Pound Cake:
  • I cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbl lemon zest
  • 7 Tbl lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • a cup powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter and flour a bundt pan
  • Mix together the butter, sugar and zest on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in 4 Tbl lemon juice, then the eggs, one at a time
  • Reduce speed to low add half of the flour, and the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Then add the yogurt. Then add the other half of the flour.
  • Pour mixture into cake pan and bake for about 70-75 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Allow to cool completely. Mix together the remaining 3 Tbl of lemon juice and the powder sugar and drizzle over cake.
  • I served mine with blueberries!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

This Moment: Standing

{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, May 24, 2012

Finding Finn

This post has been a long time coming, but, until now,  I haven't been able to find the time, energy, or courage to write about it.
Finn. My first born. My sweet boy. The child who made me a mother, who has made me realize how hard mothering can be, and who has shown me all of the rewards that come along with it. I have known, for a long time, that Finn is not your run-of-the-mill kid. He is 'normal' (whatever that is), most of the time, but also has some idiosyncrasies that have made me wonder more than once if there was more going on inside his head than we realized.
Consistent emotional outbursts that seem out of place for a child his age. Throwing a tantrum with screaming and crying at the beginning of each session of swim lessons, even though he enjoys being in the water. Refusing to use the potty at school unless I am there. Screaming about how hungry/thirsty/tired he is every time we get in the car. Running away from new children who try to engage him in play at the park. Refusing to even open his mouth for the dentist to have an exam. And so on, and so on.
But in between these spurts of emotion, Finn is an extremely bright, extremely wonderful boy. He is so sweet, has lots of friends who he is very outgoing with, and at age 4, communicates better than most 6 year olds I know.
My husband, who doesn't spend as much time around other children, always acted like I was crazy when I brought this up. In his mind, Finn was acting exactly like all of the other children his age, and there was nothing different about him at all. But I knew that there was. I just wasn't sure what it was.
After much hemming and hawing we decided to see a family therapist. More than anything, I just wanted to learn some coping techniques on how to deal with Finn when he was acting "out". How to help transition him to new situations, how to ease his fears, etc. I was nervous to take the plunge and see a counselor...  felt like it meant that I thought something was seriously wrong with our child, or that I wasn't capable enough to take care of him. I was sad that my innate mothering instincts were not telling me how to deal. But, his outbursts were causing me to get stressed, frustrated and confused, and instead of being the extra-patient mother that he needed, I was becoming more angry and exhausted. So, we went.
And the experience was good. The counselor, like myself, felt that Finn was a normal kid- who happened to have some not-so-normal behaviors. Just having this confirmation that Finn was a bit different felt good to me,-- that I wasn't crazy for wondering why he acted the way he did. But, I was also assured that his different behaviors didn't signify any major sociological disorders, like autism, which was also good to know. But, these sessions also left me longing.... OK, so he is different, but why? and now what?
Right after the first counselor session, I found a book entitled The Highly Sensitive Child. As soon as I was a chapter in, I knew I had figured it out. This was Finn. The examples the author used were like excerpts from my real life. Highly sensitive people, who make up about 15% of the population,  are just more aware of everything... from feelings, to other people's reactions and perceptions, to minute details of a situation. These are the kids who are bothered by scratchy fabrics, feel their hunger more acutely, and who notice every change or inconsistency. And, depending on how they deal with this overwhelming amount of information and feeling, they can sometimes act in unexpected ways.
Finn is highly sensitive, and, while reading this book, I discovered that I am too. I am maybe less sensitive than Finn, but we share many of the same traits. Finn is just much more intense in the way in which he deals with these feelings. Now it made sense that Finn refuses to wear jeans, because until high school, I was exactly the same way. I wear them almost every day now, but they used to make me feel trapped and confined. Finn feels the exact same way and prefers pants with elastic waists. Now I understand why he cries for food and water every time we get into the car.. because his body, now strapped into a car seat, is finally calm enough to figure out what it needs. However, since Finn and I deal with our issues so differently, it never crossed my mind that our feelings could be the same. For example, while Finn and I may both feel extremely nervous and hesitant entering a new group of people, my way to deal with it is to be friendly and try to conform and just fit in and not draw too much attention to myself. Finn's reaction to the same situation would be to scream, kick, and maybe lash out at someone. His body just processes his feelings differently than I do. This is something that I assume he will eventually outgrow, but I know that I need to be an extra patient and understanding mother while he is making that transition. And I am so afraid that I am not patient enough to do that, to be the mother he really needs. I want to, and I am trying, but it is really tough.
So, it feels good to have a label on Finn's actions, to know why he is acting the way he does, and to know that there is nothing wrong with him. But, this book was also very overwhelming for me. It spoke many times about how parenting highly sensitive children is hard, but so important, because of their sensitivity (basically, like one big mess up and you scar them for life). Pressure! Plus, the ways to parent these children, at least according to this book, are very different for many situations. And, it made me feel like I have been a huge failure of a parent to Finn so far. Let's take the swim lesson example. Finn never wanted to start a new session, but as soon as he was a day or two in, he loved it and couldn't wait to go. So, each time a new session started, he would throw a fit and freak out. And-- I would push him and make him get in the water, knowing that he would have fun in the end. The book even used that exact example, citing that parents who pushed their children into swim lessons ended up harming their self confidence, blah blah blah. I won't bore you with details, but I felt like a failure. I sort of still do, except I am giving myself credit for trying now. I just wish that when your baby was born, someone would say he, he is "this" or "that" and here is how you should parent him. Instead, as we all know, it is a game of trial and error, and I just hope that I haven't zapped his self confidence too much for him to be a success later in life. I hope he doesn't look back at me when he is older and think about how his mom really screwed him up. Because did I? Am I?
I am now reading Taming the Spirited Child, which also seems to describe Finn's temperament exactly. I am hoping that, with some more reading, observing, and pondering, I will find the best way to help Finn, and to help myself, when he is having trouble dealing with his over-stimulation. Since I am also highly sensitive, I like (need) to have a plan of action. I need to know what to do when a situation arises, otherwise I will default to autopilot, which is normally a short tempered frustrated person.
This knowledge, although tremendous and powerful, is also challenging. I know that I need to take time for myself so that I can stay calm. I know that for a long time, I will have to anticipate Finn's outbursts and be prepared to deal. I know that I will have to continue to take lots of extra time for transitions and not be upset when things don't work out how they are supposed to. It is going to be hard, but at least I think we are on the right path. And that is something I can be happy about.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yarn Along

Good morning! Getting a late start to my morning today AGAIN (man, teaching preschool is harder than I thought.... much, much harder!). Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things today for another yarn along.
I am still slowly working on my Helena sweater for Phoebe. Haven't made too much progress since last week, but since I am not totally excited about knitting another sweater right now, I sort of figured that would happen. Plus, life has been getting in the way of knitting these days. I am looking for a quicker knit to start up, maybe a simple hat for me for our summer camping trips, but I haven't taken much time to think about it or to chose a pattern. Although, funny thing, I had a dream last night that I was knitting myself a very simple hat, not from a pattern, so maybe that is a sign?Maybe I just need something I don't have to think much about, something that my hands can take over while giving my brain a rest?
On the reading front, I am still slowly absorbing Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest. I just can't seem to make much headway because I keep running into other things that I need to read more urgently. Still making my way through The Urban Homestead, which has been perfect to bring while I have been teaching Finn's preschool. In those rare moments where all is quiet, I am sometimes able to get through a page or two, and since the book is divided into very small sections, it works perfectly.
I have also started (and have been devouring) Raising Your Spirited Child. Just like when I read The Highly Sensitive Child, I am finding that this book explains Finn so exactly-- all of his 'quirks' and things that make him different from other children, yet still completely normal. It is nice to be able to know that I am not the only one out there dealing with these same issues. And, last night, Finn and I started to read The Inventions of Huge Cabret. It is the book that the film Huge was based off of, and it is a book unlike any I have seen. Lots of pictures, but also words. It does make the book go by very quickly. Finn and I read almost 80 pages before bed last night!
What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Explore Spring: A Review

Explore Spring by Maxine Anderson is a book geared towards elementary age children and is full of tidbits and activities surrounding the changes that come along with spring. Topics include how the tilt of the Earth creates the seasons, the sprouting and growth of plants, trees, animal migrations, spring babies and weather. Although many of the topics in here are a bit too advanced for Finn (age 4 1/2), there is also plenty that he is interested in. He wanted me to read him the section about tornadoes, and then later that day I heard him explain how tornadoes form to his friend. So cute!
Several of the activities also seem perfect for kids of any age. A few I want to try are carnation dying (have them drink colored water), making a cloud inside a jar, and making a wind chime. Since I am teaching Finn's preschool this week, I just may try and incorporate a few of those into the "lesson plan" (which is mostly playing).
This book is a definite worthwhile check-out from your local library, especially for kids age 7-10ish. I only wish they had one for summer, when we will have plenty of time for explorations! Pin It Now!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekending: Saturday Farmer's Market (And A Whole Lot of Gardening)

Joining in with Amanda at The Habit of Being for a weekending post. This weekend was full. Productive, but full and I feel like I haven't had a chance to sit still. It was mostly full of gardening, and lots and lots of it. Todd's back is hurt, so most if the grunt work was on me, which gave me quite a work out. Pulling out grasses that had invaded our garden, planting seeds, planting starts, adding compost, trimming and pruning.... and it still didn't get finished. Not even close!
We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the farmer's market for breakfast and to pick out starts on Saturday morning, followed by a trip to get more gardening supplies at the local nursery. There was also a girls night out to pub knitting, a family venture downtown to watch the soccer match, a few good meals, a trip out for tacos and a spicy margarita, a lot of house cleaning, and gardening. Did I mention the gardening?
It felt good to spend most of the weekend outside, but my body is pretty spent right about now. I will leave you all with a few pictures form our farmer's market excursion while I go to relax!

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Friday, May 18, 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, May 17, 2012

A New Undertaking....

As many of you know, I teach environmental science part time at a community college. This means that I am at work on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings, and I am squeezing in grading and prep work whenever I can. On Tuesday I started teaching of a new kind: preschool! Finn's preschool teacher (and one of my best friends) headed to Europe for 2 months, and I am taking over as teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next 5 weeks.
Finn has been talking about it for weeks. Months actually. It was so cute to see him on Tuesday as we headed over to their house to get ready for the day. He was very proud to have his mama there as the teacher.
Tuesday went smoothly. Luckily it is an in-home preschool, so besides my own children, there are only 4 more, and most of the time they are finding ways to entertain themselves by engaging in imaginary play. I was actually very impressed by the imaginations of these children!
However, spending the day with several extra children is exhausting, and I now have a whole new respect for all of those preschool teachers out there. Small kids seems to have endless energy, enormous emotions, and are really good at making messes. But we knew that already, right?
I think the hardest part over these next 5 weeks will be switching back and forth between teaching 3-5 year olds on Tuesdays and Thursday and teaching adults on Wednesdays and Fridays and still being a mama and accomplishing my regular tasks in between.
And now, I am off for another day of preschool! Maybe I will become a superhero or a frog or a train or a chair. I will have to see where the day leads us! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yarn Along

Happy yarn along! Getting a late start to my morning today, but thought I would join in with Ginny over at Small Things for today's yarn along. Better late than never, right? Life has been a bit, OK, a lot, hectic these past couple of weeks, and I have so much I want to blog about, but I haven't been able to find the time. I am hoping this weekend will bring me a much needed reprieve, and a chance to sit down with my thoughts.
Anyways, over the past two weeks I haven't gotten much knitting done. I have actually done some knitting, but I ended up frogging 2 projects: a cowl that I was nearly done with but I had just made one too many mistakes on the complex pattern and was not happy with the results. The second was a wurm hat I had intended to make for myself, and all was going well until I had to fold over the brim to make a double edge, and I just couldn't seem to get it matched up right. It was bumpy and lumpy and I ripped it out. I had never ripped something out from circular needles before and it was surprisingly hard. Very unsatisfying, actually. Usually the act of frogging helps release my frustration, but this time I ended up having to pull out the scissors, and it took about 10 minutes to get the yarn off the needle.
So, what am I knitting, you ask? Well, a couple days ago I started another sweater for Phoebe... this time the Helena sweater. I had no intentions of starting another sweater anytime soon, especially since I just finished one, but it's the only thing that I already had the pattern and yarn picked out for and I haven't had time to come up with another project! I think I will end up working on this sweater very slowly, over the next few months, with many more projects in between (as soon as I have time to sit down and figure out what I want to knit!).
In term of reading, I am still slowly absorbing Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest. I am liking it, but just haven't had the time to devote to it, so haven't made it very far. I also started The Urban Homestead, which is interesting and well-written, but also seems very similar to several other books I have already read. I am sure I will manage to glean some new information from it though. I have also been browsing through Gluten-Free Baking Classics. I have been thinking and reading a lot about how my body reacts to gluten (more on that later, if I ever find time!) and although I have not decided if I am going to stop eating gluten altogether, I have decided that I should reduce the amount I eat.... but I still need to be able to bake! I have yet to try any recipes, but am hoping to make some muffins this morning.
What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Yesterday afternoon, I got whisked away for a Mother's Day surprise! The family headed about 20 minutes away to Edgefield, an old insane asylum-turned hotel, complete with restaurants, gardens, a soaking hot tub, brewery, movie theater, and even a concert lawn. The idea was a wonderful effort by my husband, although the trip sort of turned out to be a disaster... it was very crowded and so we had to wait. For everything. Drinks, dinner, dessert.. and long waits with young kids don't often work out well. Especially when everything is a wait. And then there was breakfast today... every restaurant was booked, so we were not able to get a bite of food until we returned home at 11. Everyone was crabby (to say the least). But, it was a fun excursion, and so very thoughtful of Todd. Finn absolutely loved the soaking pool (a swimming pool sized hot tub, in a gorgeous garden setting) and has already asked when we can go back!
Here are a few pictures from our weekend. Hope all you mamas had a wonderful Mother's Day!

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Friday, May 11, 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.

This week's moment is not the best quality photo, but it was just too sweet to pass up... Finn was helping to cheer up a very sad Phoebe (and it worked!). Have a great weekend everyone! Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Revenge of the Electric Car: A Review

The environmental science class that I am teaching this term is focused on energy use. Since our time is limited, and we can't cover everything in class, I wanted to give the students an extra credit opportunity to learn more about electric cars.
It wasn't until I mentioned the 2006 film Who Killed the Electric Car that several of my students told me there had been a sequel: the 2011 film Revenge of the Electric Car. Whoops. So, to get myself caught up on the times, I watched it.
I already knew that electric cars have made their way make into the market, so there wasn't any surprising information here. However, the film focused on the struggle behind the development of these new cars... the monetary issues, the tremendous risks that individuals and companies were taking, the technological failures and successes. And, it seems, that the folks producing the cars are truly invested in creating affordable electric cars that the normal population can afford.
I can certainly say that when I dream about the future, I hope that my family will someday have an electric car that gets hooked up to solar panels or a wind turbine to charge. How awesome would it be to have a vehicle that produces no emissions, neither while being driven, or while being charged?!?
This film was an interesting glimpse at the struggle behind bringing these cars to market, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the future of electric vehicles. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thoughts on Aprons and a Finished Sweater Too (Sort of Yarning-Along)

Since my week in reading and knitting has been fairly uneventful (aside from getting the finishing touches on Phoebe's sweater finished-- she does look pretty darn cute, doesn't she?) I thought I would spare you the details and instead ponder my most recent sewing disaster experience.
So, back in November, I special ordered some fabric... some Titans NFL fabric and a really cute Amy Butler print. Last summer, I had bought an apron pattern (which I never got around to using) but thought that making aprons for my sister and one of my sisters-in-law for Christmas would be a great idea. Well, Christmas came and went and I still hadn't even attempted to start the aprons. I think I was mostly intimidated by the commercial pattern. I had sewn from a commercial pattern once before, but they are scary, hard to decipher, and just sort of a big pain.
Anyways, I decided that since the aprons didn't happen, I would make them birthday gifts. March and May birthdays.. I had plenty of time for that. Well, my sister-in-law's birthday came and went and as my sister;s birthday approached, I had one of those moments of decisiveness. I knew that I was taking charge, and making 2 aprons, with at least 1 of them being on time.
I decided to make my sister-in-law's first, since it was already almost 2 months late. And I painstakingly followed the instructions to the tee.... and it came out looking like an NFL little house on the prairie dress. I mean, it may have partly been that the football pattern just didn't really fit the style, but seriously, the apron I ended up with looks NOTHING like the apron drawn on the pattern envelope. Like, not even close. The one on the envelope was cute and dainty. Not poofy. At all. And the only was I can describe this is POOFY. In a bad way.

I decided that I couldn't give her this apron, unless it was for some sort of weird joke or Halloween costume. Luckily I had enough fabric left over to make another one.. and this time I decided to just wing it (like I have done most of my sewing in the past). I did check out a couple website tutorials, for tips on measurements, etc. but I mostly just sewed what was in my head, which was an apron that was very far from poofy. And, I think it came out pretty good. Good enough that I made the second (well, third actually) almost identically.
I ended up sending my sister-in-law both aprons, as I had no idea what to do with the poofy one. And bless her dear heart she called and said that she loved both. I am pretty sure she was lying about one (or maybe even both) but she is too sweet to ever bad mouth a handmade present.
So, I guess my apron experience has basically just solidified what I already knew-- don't use commercial patterns. They are annoying and can be expensive, and the finished product didn't look a thing like the picture suggested. The other aprons I made looked way better (in my opinion at least), were quicker, less daunting, and more fun since I was designing it as well. Even though I have been sewing since high school, I never sewed with a commercial pattern until last fall, and I can say that I probably never will again. OK, the pattern wasn't totally useless. I did learn some good techniques that I ended up using in the subsequent aprons, but couldn't I have learned that from an online tutorial just as easily?
Every mama-made pattern or blog tutorial I have followed has been easy to understand, written in english (aka non-weird-sewing-terms) and has come out great. Maybe if I bought a nicer brand pattern (instead of the budget simplicity that I used) it would have a better end product? Anyone else have any thoughts, trial and tribulations, or advice on the world of sewing from patterns? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring Explorations

Spring is such an exciting time in nature- buds and blossoms, the emergence of insects of all types, and busy birds. So, in between the rains, we have been trying to spend as much time as we can outside.
Last week we took a wonderful idea from Kim at Mothering with Mindfulness and decided to fill a couple of baskets with scrap fabric, yarn, and thread for the birds to use for their nests. I actually have a big bag of scrap fabric and yarn that I have been saving for years. For some reason, I just can't get myself to throw it away, yet I don't have any plans for it. This was a perfect use!

We have also been going on bug hunts! Finn got a kid's insect guide as the Earth Day festival we went to a few weeks back, and he has been very intent on trying to find all of the critters. We have been searching under rock and lifting up pots...magnifying glass in tow. I love to watch how excited he can get out in the yard. I am a scientist at heart, and although I will love my kids whether they enjoy science or not, it does make me a bit giddy when they get into scientist mode.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Lovely Little Hike

Today we drove out to the gorge to enjoy the wonderful spring weather and do a bit of exploring. We headed to the Tom McCall Nature Preserve to see the magnificent show of wildflowers. There was balsam root and lupine flowering everywhere, as well as wild cucumber, prairie stars, and many flowers that I did not know the names of. There was also plenty of poison oak, which we managed to avoid, but not without a couple of scares (for some reason, if you tell a 4 year old not to do something, they just can't help but want to). It was crowded, but the views of the Columbia River were tremendous, and the weather was perfect. Here are a few pictures from our day:

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