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!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


This weekend was
AMAZING weather.
It couldn't have been more perfect.

We did a lot of planting and weeding,
had out first fruit pops of the season,
took leisurely strolls through the neighborhood,
and cleaned off all of the furniture on the back porch.
It certainly feels like spring!

The weekend also brought a birthday party
for a special 2 year old friend,
a mama's night out with an old friend in for a visit,
sweet potato biscuits, veggie fritatas, and spinach-artichoke dip
(not all in one meal!),
a trip out for Mexican food,
and of course, a much anticipated visit
from the Easter Bunny!

But the weekend also brought sickness for Finn,
who has been throwing up all day
(My poor kids, I swear they have been sick all winter!).
We also discovered a small paper wasp nest by our front door.
Todd is allergic, so it needed to come down.
I hosed it down, and within an hour,
there was already one cell rebuilt.
Man those wasps are hard workers!
Tonight we will try some peppermint oil spray....
wish me luck!

And now I am off to prepare for my class.
A new term starts on Tuesday,
and there is much for me to do!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

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Friday, March 29, 2013

An Island Made From Trash

On our first day in Isla Mujeres, we stumbled across a man-made island, complete with a little home, that was about 50 yards from the shore. It turns out that this island is built from discarded plastic bottles, fruit bags, and wood pallets and that more than 70% of the materials used in the construction of the island and house were made from trash. As we approached the shore to get a better view, we saw Rishi, the owner and builder of the island, who waved hello to us and offered us a tour of the island and his home (for a small fee, of course ;)).
Since I am an environmental science instructor, this was right up my alley. I jumped at the chance to tour the island and talk to Rishi more about his home. This is the deal: he takes discarded plastic bottles and puts them in trashed mesh fruit bags. He then ties wood pallets together to form a raft, and stuffs the bags full of plastic bottles underneath the pallets to make them float. Since the plastic bottles are covered and out of the sun, they won't breakdown and in fact, they become a great home for barnacles and other sea life. After the floating platform is built, he plants mangrove trees on top of the pallets. As the trees get bigger (which takes many years, mind you), the roots dig down through the plastic bottles and grow around them. Eventually, the wood pallets will rot out, but the mangroves floating on plastic bottles will remain. The areas of his island that had the biggest mangroves were by far the sturdiest... you could really feel the difference in how hard the ground was.
This island was amazing. Rishi is living very sustainably, making very little impact on the earth, and is actually finding a viable use for all of this plastic that seems to surround us. He was given a set of solar panels so that he will eventually be able to have refrigeration and use a computer. The inside of his house was comfortable, and even quite charming. I think the island was previously a little more decked out, but after the last hurricane, there was quite a bit of damage that is still being repaired. Here, take a look:

 Here is a view of the island from shore. You can see the solar panels (not yet hooked up) to the left of the boat dock. 

 Here is a view of a bare pallet with the bags of plastic bottles underneath.

 A view of the island from shore.

 Rishi coming to get us to bring us on a tour.

 His solar oven, complete with a cooking cake (or at least he called it a cake... it looks way to healthy to be a real cake in my book!)

 View of the backside of the house. 

 His work out bench- the weights are also made from discarded bottles. The weight can be changed by how much they are filled up. Cool and cheap!

 The front room of the house. It was pretty cool inside considering how hot it was outside and the decor is definitely cozy!

 The shower. Water collects on the roof and comes out through a conch shell. The downside is, if it hasn't rained for awhile, there is no water the shower with.

 The composting toilet. It was a wee bit stinky, but only because it hadn't rained in a while (or so he says..)

 This will eventually become a clothes washer. It will be hooked up to a windmill, which will cause it to spin and wash clothes. The water will be heated by the sun, of course!

The porch swing on the top (3rd) story. Immediately in front of it is a small spa! Sweet!

Once we got home, I read more about this trash island. If you are interested, check out this video.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

Happy spring! We just got home from our trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. This spring break, I learned that it is not relaxing to go on vacation with a 5 year old and 2 year old. Don't get me wrong, it was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, I had a wonderful time and am so happy that I went. But, it was exhausting. Lathering the kids up with sunscreen, keeping them from throwing sand at one another or in their eyes, and making sure no one drowned was not an easy task, or at least not very relaxing. And the plane flights home? Well, I am not even ready to talk about those yet. Overall, the trip was amazing, but now that we are home, I feel like I need a kid-free vacation in order to recharge!
We were very lucky that Todd's father paid for our plane tickets, our hotel and the majority of our food. There is no way we could have gone on this trip with our own funds and I am so appreciative. In general, the kids were mostly well-behaved. Finn, who has anxiety and sensory issues, was dealing well with all of the changes and lack of routine, and I must say, I was really happy with his behavior.
On our first day there, we found a man who had built an island and a home on the island using mostly trash. We went on a tour, and it was super cool. So cool, in fact, that I will write a separate post on that tomorrow. We also went beach-glass hunting, explored tide pools, saw a turtle sanctuary, toured the island in a golf cart, spent a ton of the time in the pool, and played at the beach and in the ocean. And, Todd and I had many a margarita!
On the last day of our trip, the weather was not-so-nice, and we spent most of the day in town and at the pool. As it was getting close to sunset, we decided to have one last family walk down the beach to take some last photos. Well,.... Finn decided to climb on this huge sand bag on the edge of the beach, which was fine until he wandered too close to the ocean-side edge, which was covered with a mossy growth, and slipped into the ocean fully clothed. Finn can't yet swim. Where he fell in, he could touch the bottom, but each wave that came in crashed over his head and he was in a panic. A second later, I jumped in after him. I was also fully clothed and sadly had my point-and-shoot camera strapped to my wrist (I managed to salvage the pictures, but the camera is kaput). Anyways, he was worked up for quite a while, but looking back, it was pretty funny and makes for a good story.
Here are a few moments from our vacation:

 Photo by Phoebe

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn Along.

We are in full-preparation mode for our spring break adventure to Mexico, and I finally decided what reading and what knitting to bring along. For reading, I will be bringing Moby Duck, a book about plastics that may be very fitting for my class nest term... but not exactly easy beach reading. For the lighter side, I am bringing The Full Cupboard of Life (from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) and Operating Instructions. For some reason, I am packing like I will have copious time to read, but realistically, I will be entertaining and chasing 2 children non-stop and will probably come home having read 10 pages!

And what to knit? I decided on the In-Threes cardigan for Phoebe. Since it is in one piece and on a circular needle, I figured it made for good traveling.

Oh- I also recently finished up a present for a friend who is due next month. A teeny tiny baby milo vest and a matching gnome hat. Those little milos just knit up so quickly!! Take a peek below. Apparently, my cat wanted to be included on this one!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

Ok, now I am off to do some packing! Adios amigos!

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Monday, March 18, 2013


Linking up with Amanda at Habit of Being.

This weekend was mostly recovery and taking things slow.

A mama night out for pub knitting with some friends
and realizing, as I cam home exhausted at 10:30,
that I must have the cold that has overrun my kiddos.

Saturday morning the hubby let me sleep in,
and this worn-out mama needed it.
I did some chores and a wee bit of work,
a family walk to the library,
and some preparations for our upcoming vacation.
The husband went out, kids were tucked in early,
and I did a little reading and had a Parenthood marathon.
Exactly what this lady needed.

Sunday morning we grabbed pastries and coffee
from the best French bakery right down the street.
A family walk to the grocery store, a trip to the park,
and a whole lot of laziness in between.
A sunny late afternoon and dinner on the grill.
A quiet evening reading and knitting,
resting up for a big week to come.

How was your weekend?

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Some Feelings of Gratitude

Linking up with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

It has been a week full of sickness, but amidst the sickness, I have still found plenty to the thankful for:

* our tropical vacation (I kid you not!) that is right around the corner

* the many days of sun and warmth that we were lucky enough to have this past week

* the leaves and spring flowers beginning to bloom- the colors make me so happy!

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Friday, March 15, 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.

Cheating today and adding some words. This isn't necessarily a moment I want to savor and  remember, but it was a moment of peace in a hard week. Finn was sick (and home from school) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and when Phoebe was feverish and having trouble breathing Tuesday night I took her to urgent care on Wednesday morning to find out that she has pneumonia. Again. She had it in the same exact spot in December, leaving us a little bit concerned about a possible underlying cause. But, our main focus right now is getting everyone well and rested. It has been a week of naps and movies, staying in and letting things go. A week of adjusting, of patience, and of getting some rest whenever (and wherever) you can.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for another Yarn Along.

I finally finished JK Rowling's Casual Vacancy. In the end, I enjoyed it, but I wasn't really wrapped up in the story until the last 100 pages or so. There were just so many characters with different stories that a lot of first couple hundred pages was just keeping them all straight and remembering what had happened. So, yes, I enjoyed it, but less than I had expected to. I have know started reading Garbage Land: on the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte. I am trying to choose a book for my students to read next term, and this is one of my options. So far it's good. Packed full of good info and actually pretty captivating for a book about garbage.

In the knitting world, I just finished up a wee baby milo for a little one still in the belly..... pictures to come soon. I am now deciding between picking up Finn's monster that I started last month or starting this whale for Phoebe. I hope they will both be done in time to be Easter presents. And, as for my surprise project that I was working on last week: I made a Milo for one of my best friend's daughter's first birthday. I decided to leave the cables out and use 2 different yarns and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. Here are a few pictures.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

What We're Reading

Here is a peek into a few of our newest favorite books in the rotation:

What have you been reading?
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Friday, March 8, 2013

A Visit with Grandma

My mom, Lulu to the kids, came all the way from Chicago last week to celebrate Phoebe's birthday. We did a lot of birthday preparations, but also managed to squeeze in a lot of fun as well. Lots of dinners out, a walk by the river, a trip to the Chinese Gardens, and a trip to Multnomah Falls. We were all sad when she left, especially Finn, who kept telling me that she wished Lulu could live next door.  Here are a few pictures from our adventures:

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