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, August 30, 2012


Last week, I took the kids to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro, about a 30 minute drive from Portland. The museum is located on a frontage road, in a 60's style ranch home. When we were driving up the driveway (literally) I was second guessing myself about our adventure, thinking that it wasn't going to be worthwhile.
Boy, was I wrong. First impressions certainly can be deceiving. This ranch style "home" (with the gift shop in the garage!) houses an amazing collection of rocks, crystal and petrified wood, including a large collection local to the Pacific Northwest. Finn was amazed, and kept exclaiming in excitement, especially when we got to the room of glow in the dark rocks... awesome! I think if I was sans-kids, I would have wandered more and stared longer, but Finn happily explored alongside me and said that he couldn't wait to go back.
The garage gift shop held many treasures.... a few rocks as souvenirs for Finn and an Oregon coast agate guide for mom. I have always collected and admired rocks, but for all of my rock-love, I am able to identify only a few types of rocks, and don't know nearly as much about their formation as I would like. When Finn started to ask me questions about how rocks glowed in the dark, or how a petrified pine cone is formed, I knew that I needed to brush up on my geology... and quick! I am already being outsmarted by a 4 year old!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Day at the Coast

Monday, for my birthday, the kids and I drove to the coast for the day. I had some thinking to do and I felt like I needed to be at the ocean..... I needed that cleanse of the waves and the sand. Despite the weather predictions of a high of 62, mostly cloudy and a chance of rain, the day was PERFECT! Blue skies and 70 degrees. Even the water was pleasant, which is rare for the Oregon coast.
The kids had a blast, and Phoebe, my wild child, kept continuously bolting straight for the ocean. Finn has always been the opposite.... and I never realized how much chasing a mama could do until Phoebe started to move. I didn't get a whole lot of relaxing done, as I was chasing her basically non-stop, but it was a gorgeous day and everyone left tired and happy.
Here are a few pictures I managed to snap while I wasn't in chase-mode!

Pin It Now!

Monday, August 27, 2012

35 Times Around the Sun....

Today I am celebrating my 35th birthday! Hard to believe that yet another year has slipped away, but then again, so much has changed in this past year. One year ago, baby P was not quite 6 months. She was just sitting up on her own and starting to eat real food. Now, as I look out of the corner of my eye, she is cooking in her play kitchen, muttering to herself all the while. One year ago today, Finn was still 3.... still a toddler, really, whereas yesterday he asked me and Todd where plants came from. Not the plants in our garden, or at the park, but the very first plants that existed on Earth. He wanted to know how they got there in the first place. Pretty philosophical, don't you think?
Last year for my birthday, I made a bucket list of all of the things I wanted to do before I turned 35. Most got accomplished, some did not. This year, however, I don't want to make a to-do list. I have decided that this year should be for slowing down, for enjoying. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of stuff that I want to do (I am a do-er, that's for sure), but I want to make sure that I stop and enjoy the ride along the way. I have seen how easily time slips past while you are chasing children and picking up toys, and I want to try and savor this next one as much as I can. I want to worry about accomplishing less, but having more fun doing it. I want to work on finding a balance and a rhythm in our daily lives. And I want to enjoy my family and friends and the time we spend together. Pin It Now!

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Moment: San Francisco

{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 I am cheating, as my photo deserves an explanation! Last weekend, Todd and I got to go to San Francisco for a long weekend... WITHOUT KIDS! It was the first time that we had both been away from the 2 kids together, and the first time that I had been away from Phoebe overnight.
The trip was fantastic. Although I did miss the kids dearly, and even cried several times, it was so nice to spend time with Todd and to only have to be responsible for myself for a few days.
We hung out with friends, saw some great music, made it to the beach to spread one of our late dog's ashes, and walked through Golden Gate Park. The weather was miserable, which was to be expected, but it didn't even matter because we had so much fun.
Unfortunately, I brought a cold/flu home with me, which I have been battling ever since. I am starting to feel better this morning, aside from a very sore throat.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I have been wanting to learn how to pickle for years... and just have never managed to actually try it. This summer, I was determined. We planted a pickling cucumber, and when our first few fruits began to appear last week, I decide I had better learn what to do with them!
I started easy.. refrigerator pickles. I have canning equipment, and know how to can, but decided that with only one cucumber plant, I would probably never have enough cucumbers ready at one time to make the whole canning process worth it. So, refrigerator pickles it is!
I followed some basic instructions found here. In a 2 quart jar I put sliced cucumbers, jalapenos, garlic, fresh dill, mustard seeds, peppercorns, a bay leaf, a couple grape leaves (supposedly to ensure crispness!). then I poured in a solution of water, brown sugar, white vinegar and white wine vinegar. Shake, refrigerate and wait!
First batch: WAY too sweet
 Well, the first batch came out WAY too sweet for my liking. I was wondering about the brown sugar, and it turns out that it wasn't a good idea.
So, my second batch of pickles was pretty similar, except I used red pepper flakes instead of jalapeno, and I used a solution of white vinegar, water and a small amount of salt.
Batch 2 came out much better. Pretty darn good in fact. I am looking forward to experimenting some more with pickles this summer. Do you have a delicious pickle recipe?
Second Batch: Pretty darn good!

Pin It Now!

Friday, August 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.

 Happy weekend!! And don't forget to join in my August Garden Linky Party! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Garden Linky Party

Howdy folks! It's time again for a garden link-up! Last month, I hosted the July Garden Linky Party so we could all show off our lovely July gardens. Now that it is (already!) mid-August, I think it's time for an update! I would love to see what is growing at your house.. to link up, just add your name to the list below!
Ready for a tour? Here is some of what you can find in our garden in August....


Pole beans growing up and around everything:

Strawberries for little hands

A variety of tomatoes, almost ready to be picked...

A whole lot of squash....
The world's cutest butternut squash

Some monster spaghetti squash

And lots of zucchini... Lots.

Grapes in the making:


Freshly-dug potatoes:

Herbs galore,

And a whole lots of bees!

What's growing in your garden?

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summertime Art!

Finn is an artist at heart. There are days where he will spend 4 hours straight at the art table imagining and creating. It's awesome. So, needless to say, these days of summer have been filled with lots of art. Of course there is a lot of drawing, painting, and cutting. But this summer I have been trying to find more planned projects... some of which have worked well, and others which have been a complete flop. Several of the art ideas we have played with this summer have been inspired by pinterest (my new addiction!). Here is a sampling of some of our summertime art:

Homemade Play Dough (an old and favorite stand-by):

Recycled Robots. Ours don't look exactly like the tutorial....but these were awesome and we plan on making more.:

and Bubble Prints:

What art have you and your kids been doing this summer? Pin It Now!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Music, Peacocks and Dirt

Last Thursday we headed to String Summit, a very family-friendly music festival that Todd and I have attended for 7 of the past 8 years... a family tradition if you will.... The festival takes place at Horning's Hideout, a magical (if very dusty) piece of secluded land, complete with forest paths, a lake, and plenty of peacocks. The peacocks are the big novelty, with the kids (and adults) constantly on the lookout for dropped peacock feathers to take as souvenirs.
This year's adventure was amazing, as always, but a lot of work. Phoebe, who just started walking a few weeks ago, is still rather unsteady, and spent a lot of time falling... into dirt and down hills. She is also very independent (to put it kindly) and will just take off in any direction without ever looking back. That meant that Todd and I had to be really vigilant about watching her, and there wasn't a whole lot of down time.
But, the weather was lovely, the music was great, and spending a long weekend camping and dancing with like-minded folks is always wonderful. This year, about a week before we left, I spotted this on pinterest. I knew with the peacock theme, that it would be perfect for String Summit, and I knew I had to make it for Phoebe. Finn was not keen on a tutu, but told me that he wanted a new cape, and so I just had to make Finn a cape to match Phoebe's skirt. I also found some peacock-patterned fabric I had laying around and whipped up a little skirt for P to wear under her tutu.
The costumes turned out great. There were several other peacock skirts at the festival, as I had expected there to be, but Finn was the only one with a matching cape. With the hot weather, dusty ground, and a stumbling baby, the tutu didn't get worn as much as I had hoped.... however, I made it a bit big in hopes that she can wear it again next year.
Below you can see a few pictures from the weekend, as well as a quick costume photo shoot that happened before we left and before things got dirty! Today was spend unpacking, cleaning and doing lots and lots of laundry... and I hope to re-find a bit of rhythm before we go on another adventure next weekend!

Pin It Now!

Friday, August 10, 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.
Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Our Stolen Future: A Review

Our Stolen Future by Theo Colburn, Diane Dumanoski and John Peterson is an amazing and amazingly depressing book. First published in 1996, it is a bit outdated, but it is an extremely important piece of work.
The book discuss, in detail, the connections between made-made hormones (from pesticides, medicines, plastics, and more) and human health issues, specifically fertility. At the time this book was written, this was cutting-edge science, and was essentially a more modern version of A Silent Spring. And maybe even a scarier version. But yet this book doesn't seem to have made a dent in the way we think about chemicals. In fact, our public library (which is awesome, mind you) didn't even have a copy of this book. There was one lone copy at the community college library that I teach. The work of Theo Colborn (one of the authors) has been featured in several films that discuss connections between the environment and human health... but this stuff should have been front page of every newspaper.
Our Stolen Future traces the connections between synthesized chemicals in our environment, declines in populations of wild animals, and health and fertility issues in humans. It shows how certain types of chemicals get stored in fat cells of organisms that ingest them. The organism who ingests them may not show any ill effects, and so when safety tests on these chemicals are run, they seem safe and are given a green light. It is years later, however, that these chemicals can start to take their toll. The chemical burden of a mother can interfere with the development of her babies.... causing things like lowered sperm counts in male offspring, higher chance of certain cancers in babies, and incorrectly developed sex organs.
We are seeing similar patterns in wild animals, and often to higher degrees. Populations that are already threatened by habitat loss or overfishing and are now being exposed to our chemical poisons are having trouble producing future generations. Lab studies have shown numerous chemicals, that are now ubiquitous, that are shown to greatly reduce fertility in animals. Humans take longer to show these effects because we wait longer to reproduce, but they are showing up. Male sperm counts have been on a rapid decrease over time, miscarriages are on the rise, as are other developmental problem such as ADD, autism, and learning disorders.
In essence, we are messing up the human population. The chemical burden that we are putting into our environment (and therefore into ourselves and our offspring) is starting to take it's toll. It may not be an easy correlation to see..... if we ingest trace small amounts of pesticides on our food, it is unlikely that we would suddenly get extremely sick. And we ourselves may never get sick at all. But our children may. They may suffer learning problems, cancers or infertility. But because these problems result so many years later, and because we are all exposed to so many chemicals, it is hard to tease out which chemicals are doing what.
This is a captivating read, and I made it through the 250 pages in just a few short days. Depressing, yes, but also inspiring. A must read for anyone interested in the connections between chemicals and human health.

Pin It Now!