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!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Lovely Little Trip

Last week, Todd, the kids and I went to San Diego for a little vacation. It was fantastic. We spent 2 nights at Legoland, which for Finn, a lego fiend, was pretty awesome. Phoebe, who is fearless, loved it just as much. She was riding roller coasters and having the time of her life.
After Legoland, we spent a few days with one of my favorite people in the entire world. We went to the San Diego Zoo, relaxed in a hot tub, and ate on the beach. The weather was mostly 60's and sunny, which was a great reprieve from overcast Portland. It was amazing and I must say it was a little bit hard to leave.
We got home on the night of the 23rd, just in time for the excitement of Christmas to sink in. It feels good to be home, but I can't say I haven't been daydreaming about the beach a bit....
I only brought my phone for a camera, so the pictures are not fantastic, but I thought I would share a few anyways. Just to make you jealous. Yup.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

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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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Full Plate

I haven't found much time to blog recently. There has just been way too much going on. The holiday preparations and parties have been so much fun, but have thrown us off of our schedules a bit, and I think know that we have all eaten too many sweets! The excitement of Santa, and an upcoming vacation, have all of us buzzing with anticipation (and the adults busy with preparations!). So much fun!!
Phoebe is in the midst of some terrible twos. The best way to describe her these days is Dramatic (yes, with a capital D). And Finn has been having a really hard time with school lately. His anxiety is worse than ever, which makes getting to school quite a challenge, and creates lots of emotional outbursts during his time at home. I have been feeling very helpless, trying to pinpoint his anxiety triggers and trying to find a way to help his stress subside.
So, life has been hectic and emotional. I haven't had a chance to even come up with a good topic to blog about much less write it, and sadly, I have only taken a handful of pictures so far this month. And I think everyone in my family is in dire need of this break from work, school, and our normal routine.... (aren't we all?). Anyways, I am so grateful and excited for my family to have some time to spend together, away from the stresses of school and work. I think this is exactly what we all need.
So, I will hopefully be back in this space soon, with a fresh mind, and with some wonderful pictures (and words!)to share with you all.
Hoping your spirits are high and your holiday preparations are going well!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

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, December 11, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny of Small Things for this week's yarn along.

This week, I am knitting madly, trying to finish up a few gifts pronto so that I can mail off a couple of boxes. I think I can do it....

In spirit of the holiday, I decided take a quick break from the other books I am reading and read Bill McKibbon's Hundred Dollar Holiday. It's an older book, from 1998 if I remember correctly, but the message is still valid, actually, probably even more so. He talks about how this time of year should be less focused on consumerism and materialism, and more focused on family and togetherness. It's a message I already believe in, strongly, but a good reminder nonetheless.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

And the WInner Is...

#1- Carey! Congratulations!
And, thanks to all of you who participated. xo Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Finding Time for Togetherness: Our December Tradition

The holiday season, fun as it is, is always super hectic. Between social gatherings, making and shopping for presents, and decorating the house, it seems like not much time is left for anything else.
So, when Finn was little, we started a tradition of having a family-time advent calender through the month of December. This is our way to make sure that we are finding time each day to be together as a family, doing something special. That's what the holidays are supposed to be about, right? Being with family and the ones you love? It just often gets overshadowed by presents and commercialism...
Anyways, these "owl" activities, as we call them (as our advent calender is made from felt owls), are a time for us to connect and to make memories and traditions for years to come. When I think back to Christmases of my youth, I do fondly remember certain gifts, and I sure did love opening presents. But, more than specific presents, I think of the activities we did: gatherings with family, Christmas caroling, decorating the tree, baking cookies, going to see The Nutcracker. trips into the city (of Chicago) to see the lights and store windows, hot cocoa in front of the tree, reading The Night Before Christmas, ice skating, and all of the other activities we did.
So, that is what I hope to share with my children as well. Some of our activities for this year are: writing letters to Santa, making a gingerbread house, donating toys to a local toy drive, making paper snowflakes, and seeing the light display at the Zoo. This year, we are a bit less organized than normal, and so Todd and I are deciding each day's activity the night before. It leaves us more flexibility, but it is also a bit more hectic.
How do you spend time as a family during the holidays?

Oh- and please pop over to this post for your chance to win a little giveaway!

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Friday, December 6, 2013

This Moment (and a giveaway!)

{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 hop over and enter my giveaway! Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Wee Giveaway

As I mentioned last week, I participated in a craft fair at my son's school that was pretty much a bust for me. Oh well. I had a feeling that might happen, and so most everything I made for the craft fair already had another home. I made holiday gifts for my nieces, pajama pants for Phoebe, and a bunch of knits that I can donate, and so the fact that I didn't sell much just meant that I was that much more prepared for the holidays.
But, not everything I made for the craft fair already had a home in mind, and so I thought I would give one of my orphaned crafts a new home by having a giveaway on my blog. I love giveaways, so I figured I would spread the love and have one of my own.
This giveaway is for one wee gnome in a pouch. The gnome's hat and pouch are upcycled from a sweater, and he would be perfect to wear around your neck or to hang on a tree. And, to sweeten the deal, I will throw in a tube of my homemade lip balm.
To enter, just leave a comment on this post. If you are a no-reply-blogger, make sure to tell me how I can get in touch with you if you win! The drawing will close at 5pm (PST) on Sunday the 8th and I will randomly select a winner soon after that.

P.S.- I will mail to anywhere!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yarn Along and Some Early Holiday Gifts

Joining with Ginny of Small Things for this week's yarn along.

Over the past week I have knit up a bunch of hats for Christmas gifts. A huge one for my father, one for each of my kids,  and a teeny tiny one for Phoebe's doll. The extremes of hat knitting, I suppose. I have a couple more small things to finish knitting for presents, and then I may actually knit a thing or two up for me!

Since the weather here has been pretty cold (and has just turned FREEZING, literally, which is weird here for Portland), I decided to give my kids their hats as an early holiday present. These ones are warm and cozy and I figured they could use them. I think they came out well-- I included a few pictures below.

I am still (ah-hem) reading Sometimes A Great Notion (slowly, slowly chugging along) but decided to start reading One Summer by Bill Bryson. I think I need to mix it up a bit.

Are you knitting up (or crafting) some goodies for the holidays? Please join me in Handmade Holidays 2013! Click on the badge below to read more.

And, check back in the next day or two... I am planning on getting together a wee giveaway.

What have you been reading? What have you been knitting?

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Monday, December 2, 2013

On Being Thankful

Over the weekend I spent some time reflecting on my life and was reminded of something I have known about myself for a long time: I often mourn for the things I don't have while completely overlooking the many things I do have. I know many of us do it. I think it is part of human nature to want to strive for more, to reach perfection, to be everything you want to be.
But, really, how realistic is that? How feasible is it to have the perfect life with the perfect partner, perfect children, a perfect body, a perfectly clean home, and so on? Well, let me tell you- it's not realistic at all. Life isn't perfect. We make messes. We make mistakes. And really, all we can ask for in life is the courage to try again and the strength to do better.
Am I sounding corny yet?
Anyways, the point of my ramble is that I realize I need to spend more time being thankful for what I do have. Yes, maybe there are struggles (both with others and with myself), and my life is far from perfect, but I do have so much: a husband who adores our kids, 2 beautiful children, a cozy home full of animals, and so much more. But after a bad day (or week!), sometimes being thankful for what is in front of you seems near impossible. I guess I really need some practice.
How do you practice being thankful for what you have when life throws challenges at you?

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Not?

Last week, I took my students on a tour of Portland's Burnside Rocket Building. I have taken several classes to see this building, as the architect, Kevin Cavanaugh, found some amazing ways of incorporating sustainability into the design.
My favorite aspect of the building is the rooftop garden, where the restaurant located on the top floor, Noble Rot,  grows produce all year long. Although yields are fairly low this time of year, during the late summer, more than half of the produce on their menu is grown on the roof. Can't get much more local than that, can you?
So today, I asked myself why all new building aren't designed this way? Not only could we all be growing food on our roofs, but the soil would act as an insulating layer to save on energy costs, we would create new habitat for wildlife on our roofs, it would reduce the warming effect of normal black-colored roofs, and hey- it is just cool. So, seriously, why not?
So, let's just say this is the start of a revolution. Let's grow food on roofs! Spread the word!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny of Small Things for this week's yarn along.

The past couple of weeks I have been knitting up some tiny things: cowls, arm warmers, and a wee gnome hate. I was in a craft fair at Finn's school this past Monday and Tuesday (and, well, let's not talk about how it went, as I only sold 4 things... but, seeing as it was my first craft fair, I think I did learn a lot). Anyways, I figured the knits that didn't get sold (which is all of them!) could become easy holiday presents or more likely, a  donation for others in need this holiday season. Hmmm, or maybe I will even have a giveaway on here, so check back soon!

The cold weather we have been having here in Oregon has given me the knitting bug. I think doing a lot of small projects also helps, as I feel like I  am really whipping stuff out. I have a few more things I have to knit for the holidays, but I have already started daydreaming about a project or two for myself.....

Are you knitting up some goodies for the holidays? Please join me in Handmade Holidays 2013! Click on the badge below to read more.

Now, off to get ready for our Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow.

What have you been reading? What have you been knitting?

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Handmade Holidays 2013

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Every year around this time, I am knitting, sewing, and crafting like a mad-woman trying to get holiday presents for my friends and family completed. And I know that many of you are too! In this time of over-consumption and crazy commercialism, I feel that making at least some of my own holiday gifts, and trying to buy others from small artists or businesses, is my way of contributing to a better world-to-be. Plus, I really like to make stuff.

Are making your own gifts this year (or buying handmade gifts made by small business)?  If you would care to join me in Handmade Holidays 2013, I would be delighted. Grab a badge and spread the word. Let's hand make our holidays together!

I can't share most of my handmade holiday gifts just yet, as I want the recipients to be surprised, but I will share after they have been opened. I can't wait to see what you are all making as well! If you have a link to your handmade goodies and want to share it here, please do!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

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, November 20, 2013

Yarn Along and A Modeled Tunic

Joining with Ginny of Small Things for this week's yarn along.

Last week, I showed you all a photo of the plain tunic that I finished for Phoebe. A few days ago, I had the chance to put it on her and grab a few pictures, and,well..... apparently, when knitting up this cute little tunic, I temporarily forgot how large my children's heads are and casted off too tightly. And so, when I went to put the tunic on Phoebe, it wouldn't go on. However, I was determined, and after a few minutes of wrangling with her head, I finally did get it to fit. Phew! Then I went through the entire day wondering if it would come off, or if I would have to cut it off of her, but for some reason, the off direction is easier. I have gotten it on and off once since, so although it is a tight squeeze, I think we are good.

This week I have just been knitting up several children' cowls and arm warmers for the craft fair I am doing next week. I figure if they don't sell, they will be good for gifts, or to donate.

And what am I reading? I have decided that I am just not going to talk about what I am (still) reading until I am done. Hehe. Then when I talk about a new book, you will all be pleasantly surprised.

What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Healing Herbs

For the past many weeks (6 or 7) I have been plagued by what I initially thought was water trapped in my ears. It sounded like there was water sloshing around in them and they were plugged up, hurting, and making me feel dizzy at times. After weeks of trying over-the-counter tricks to dry them out, I realized (via the help of some friends) that my ears did NOT have trapped water, but were FULL of wax. Ewww.
As I don't have health insurance, paying several hundred dollars to get them flushed by a doctor was not in the budget. Around this same time, I was reading Wooly Moss Roots, a sweet sweet blog that I follow by a fellow Oregonian, also named Taryn. On one of her sidebars was a link to a garlic-mullein ear oil recipe that helps with ear aches and helps to break up wax. I didn't have any fried mullein flowers, and wasn't sure where to get any at this time of year, so I left her a comment and vowed to save some mullein flowers next summer.
The next day, I received an email from Taryn, asking if I would like her to send me some of the dried mullein flowers she had saved. Within a few days, I had received the flowers, made the ear oil (recipe can be found here), and have already seen improvement in my ears.
I am so grateful for her kind gesture and for this simple recipe that has helped so much! Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gratitude Sunday, Hedgehogs, and Love.

 Happily joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for a Gratitude Sunday post.

A few days ago, I mentioned to Todd (half joking and half not) that I really wanted a pet hedgehog. I mean, seriously, these things are cute. I just pictured Phoebe in a gnome hat, our pet hedgehog, and our small urban home magically turning into an enchanted forest castle. It could happen, right? But anyways, Todd and I were talking about hedgehogs and the very small possibility that I could get one. Finn must have overheard me, because last night night before bed he said "Mom, I heard you wanted a hedgehog and so I made you this"

Seriously, how sweet is that? I am so lucky to have such a sweet, thoughtful (and talented) 6 year old. Plus this morning, after Phoebe woke up, she ran up to Todd and said "Daddy, I love my mommy!". That may not seem like anything crazy, but for 2-plus months, Phoebe has been on a daddy kick, and all she ever really says to me is that she wants her daddy and that I should go to work. So hearing those words out of her mouth almost brought tears to my eyes.

What (or who) are you thankful for today?

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny of Small Things today for another yarn along.

I finished Phoebe's plain tunic a couple of days ago. I am really happy with how it turned out. Super cute and it was quick and easy. I left it to soak in some water to help soften it up, and it has finally dried. Hooping to get it on Phoebe, and take a few photos, in the next day or two. I will share them when I do!

In the meantime, I have been knitting up a bunch of modified versions of these. They are going to come in handy for holiday gifts.

I am still reading Sometimes A Great Notion. Still! And I still have quite a bit to go. Man, it is going to be a great accomplishment when I finally get through this one. It's not like I don't like it- I do, I swear! I just haven't been able to really sit down with it for more than 10 minutes at a time.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

A 6th Birthday Sleepover

Last Thursday, my little guy turned 6. In the past, Finn has always wanted huge parties where he invited all of his friends. This year, however, he asked to just have 2 of his very best friends over for a sleepover. Nothing crazy. No 25 kid guest list.  I didn't have to have tons of food for a bunch of kids and parents, I didn't need my house to be spotless, and I didn't have to spend much money.  It sounded perfect to me.
We decided to make it an indoor camping party. We put the tent up in the living room (and it took up our entire living room, literally). I made some paper trees to make it look forest-y, and his birthday bunting said "CAMP FINN".
Dinner was beans and rice and quesadillas, per Finn's request. A very camping-esque dinner, right? I made s'mores cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting topped with graham cracker crumble, mini marshmallows, and a square of chocolate). They were a huge hit. I also made marshmallows dipped in chocolate and graham crackers, just because it sounded fun.
Party bags were handed out after cupcakes, as each one included a flashlight, a couple of glow sticks, and an autumn gnome doll in a sleeping bag.
After eating, playing many games of hide and seek, and some flashlight wars, the kids got to watch some movies from inside the tent. And they were laughing, screaming, and having a good ol' time. In fact, everything was great except the actual sleeping part. I finally got them to quiet down around 11:15 and then the three of them were up and at 'em at 5:30. 5:30! We definitely had some tired and cranky kids after that.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013


Finn is six today. Six. It just sounds old, doesn't it?

It was only a few years ago when Finn was a funny little munchkin who stumbled when he walked and had us in laughing fits with the silly things he said.... now when I look at Finn, I no longer see a little boy, but instead I see an amazingly creative and contagiously sweet little man.

I am so proud of my guy. He has grown leaps and bounds over the past year, overcoming social struggles at school and gaining confidence in himself. I know this kid is going places, so watch out world, here comes Finn!

Happy 6th Birthday Mr. Finn!
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slowing Down

Now that autumn is REALLY here, and the rains with it, I am reminded that it is that time of year for me to slow down. To spend more time at home, enjoying the presence of my family, working on projects, turning my attention inwards. My natural tendency is to always be exploring and searching for new experiences, but during the rainy months I am much more content to explore my backyard, my street, or a box of craft supplies long untouched. It may not be as fun or adventurous, but it is the time when I learn the most about my children, and myself, the time when we can focus more on who we are rather than where we are going. Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


This weekend I heaved a big sigh of relief that Halloween was over. Don't get me wrong, I love Halloween. Actually, it's one of my favorite days of the whole year, but, it happens to be a lot of work: visits to the pumpkin patch, making costumes for a family of 4, carving pumpkins, decorating the house.... it is all fun and creative work, but work nonetheless.
This year I kept the Halloween costumes pretty simple (you can see our family Halloween photo here). Finn wanted to be Darth Vader (apparently he has moved to the dark side). We already had a mask and a black cape from his Batman costume from 2 years ago, so I just did a freezer paper stencil on a black shirt to make Darth Vader's shirt. You can see instructions for how to do freezer paper stencils here.  It's super easy and slightly addictive. Todd decide to be a clone trooper. We splurged on a mask for him, and I made him a clone trooper suit out of a painting suit with felt "pads" glued on. Sadly, the hot glue didn't work very well on the knee area and he lost a few pads along the way.. if I would have had more time, I would have sewn it on. Oh well.
Several months ago, Phoebe saw bee wings and a bee antennae headband at the craft store, which inspired her to be a bee for Halloween. We bought the wings and antennae (as I knew those would be hard to make) but I made her an easy no-sew tutu in black and yellow glittery tulle and knitted her some striped leg and arm warmers. Simple, but boy did she look cute. I was a beekeeper, which I pulled together from things I had around the house. I didn't get any good photos of Phoebe Bee on Halloween eve, so I made her dress up again the day after, and we did a photoshoot outside.....

Anyways, my big sigh of relief was short lived. Finn's 6th birthday (and birthday party) is Thursday, and even though he is having a small, simple party, there is still lots to do. And, I recently decided to sign up for a craft fair at the end of the month in hopes to earn a little bit of extra holiday money... and I have absolutely nothing made. So, I need to step it up into high gear. Pin It Now!