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!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ants Hate Polenta

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about ants. They had invaded our house, especially our bathroom and bedroom. It was so bad that I would wake up during the night and find ants crawling on me. I wanted to find a non-toxic way to get rid of them. A got a few great tips from readers, decided to experiment, and thought I would share my results here.
So, our problem obviously wasn't with food storage since our ant problem was somewhere we didn't eat. They had just decided they liked our bathroom, and basically moved on in. So, I just needed to get them to move on out.
The thing that worked miracles was dried polenta (You can also use cornmeal, I just happened to have polenta on hand). I put a few piles of it around where the ants were hanging out. Supposedly they eat it and bring it back to the nest. Once they have it in their belly and then drink water, their stomach explodes. Gross and cruel, yes. And yes, I did feel a bit guilty, but these ants were everywhere. And they bit. Not hard, as they are just sugar ants, but still.... After a few days, I noticed the population size decrease, but they were still around. So, I left the piles, but cleaned everywhere else the ants were. I started by vacuuming up the ants themselves, and then cleaning the entire trail where they had been, spraying a vinegar solution into the cracks where the appeared to be coming in and out of. A day later, they were almost all gone. There is still a straggler every now and then, but I can totally deal with that.
So polenta combined with a thorough cleaning. It works. It is safe for kids and pets. This will definitely be my go-to method next time around.
Have you tried this method before? How were your results? Pin It Now!

Friday, April 26, 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, April 24, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along.

The weather here this week has been gorgeous and it feels like summer! Over the weekend, I got together with a couple of gals to knit and drink margaritas. I was working on  wee little milo for a friend who is due soon. And what I learned was, it is not a good idea to knit things where you have to count increases and remember to switch between knitting and purling while you are drinking tequila and laughing with friends. I was about halfway through with the milo and the next morning realized how many mistakes I had made and ended up frogging it. But, I am forging on and hope to have it finished by the weekend. One day I will finish up Phoebe's In-Threes cardigan and Finn's monster, both of which I have been working on for ages.

I am currently reading Crimes Against Nature by RF Kennedy Jr. and am still plodding through Moby Duck. But, I am really feeling the urge for a fun fiction read to mix things up.... any great suggestions for an easy read?

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do the Math

Bill McKibbon is an environmental writer who has been informing us of the reality of climate change since the 1980's. In 2008 he started, a citizen's group dedicated to slowing climate change. In short, he is amazing.
On Sunday, I went to the premier of his new film, Do the Math. In it, he states that scientist have deemed that a rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius will cause huge changes to our planet. If we want to keep temperature rise below this number, we have to keep the amount of fossil fuels we burn below a "safe" level. The problem is, oil companies already have more than 5 times the "safe" number of fossil fuels in their oil reserves and are still destroying the planet trying to find more.
There are already lots of ways to feasibly generate electricity using renewable sources, but until fossil fuels are no longer the cheapest option, people are going to keep using them. There is no motivation to change our infrastructure around when the price at the pump is still fairly cheap.
The problem is, the cost of fossil fuels is cheap because they have externalized the real costs. They don't pay for the environmental damage when they drill for oil or frack for natural gas, they don't pay the hospital bills of everyone who gets sick because of their actions, and they certainly won't pay to replace out planet when global warming starts to take its toll. These corporations are concerned with making a profit, and that is what they do.
So, the idea behind Do the Math is that we should make fossil fuels more expensive than renewable energy. And no, we shouldn't just make the cost of fuel skyrocket and bankrupt all but the richest. We should make the renewable energy more affordable, and we should make the cost of fossil fuels reflect the true cost.
How to do this? Divest! Stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry through investments. Stop giving them subsidies. Make them pay taxes. What we should have been doing all along.
The film was moving and incredibly motivating. The 45 or so folks that were there to see the film all stayed after and had a discussion, and in the end, we decided that we wanted to be vectors of change. As citizens of Oregon, we felt that we should try and get Oregon to pull investments out of fossil fuels. And, as an employee of a community college, I hope to rally students and do the same at the place where I work.
If we can build a community, and work together, then maybe there is still time to take back our planet. It's worth a try anyways.
Please join in and watch the 40-minute film here. Maybe you will be inspired to action as well. Pin It Now!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Are you celebrating Earth Day today? This is what we have been doing to celebrate:

Earth Art! On Saturday, Finn and I made a stained glass planet Earth and the kids made planet-colored apple prints (once again, please ignore my very dirty windows):

Sunday morning, Finn and I headed to a local wetland area to volunteer in an Earth Day tree planting. Unfortunately, the planting was Saturday, and we had missed it.... bummer! We took some time to walk around the pond and enjoy the scenery, and Finn told me that I should get glasses so that I can do a better job of reading the correct date for next time!

Sunday afternoon, the whole family headed to a nearby nature preserve for a short hike and some wildflower viewing. I guess if we couldn't plant any trees at least we could enjoy them.

I finished off the day yesterday by going to see Bill McKibbon's new film Do the Math. It's a film about climate change and it was hugely inspiring. I will write more about it soon.

Today we are hoping to squeeze in a hike to spend some time in nature and also planning on picking up trash from around our neighborhood.

Do you have Earth Day plans?

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sum It Up Saturdays

Linking up with Jenny from Peas and Carrots.

This week has been a lot of reflection and a lot of sadness. Even though Boston is on the other side of the country, the loss that they are experience feels very close to home. It breaks my heart that a family lost their young son. That could have been Finn. That was somebody's Finn.

And then I feel lucky. Lucky that my family is safe and happy. We have everything we need. I feel safe walking with my children outside and am surrounded by a community of loving folks. We are so very lucky.

This week has also been playful. The monotony of school seems to be setting in for Finn, so we have been spending lots of time playing. Organizing play dates and making time to just be. Getting our sillies out. Dancing. Running.

This week has also been about planning. Getting Finn registered for kindergarten. Planning crafts and activities for the weeks to come. Coming up with plans for summer activities... I know my kids will go crazy if we just hang out around the house, so my plan is to have a big ol' list of ideas to choose from: places to explore, things to make, etc.

This week has also been about eating differently. Baking gluten-free muffins and cookies. Trying new vegetable juices. And being more involved with what we eat.

And lastly, this has been a week of nature. Finn is learning about bugs at school, so we have been joining in at home and reading books about caterpillars changing into butterflies and about critters that live in the soil. We have been talking about Earth Day, and how important it is for us to keep nature in balance. And we are planning some outdoor excursions for the weekend.

How was your week?

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Friday, April 19, 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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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bye Bye Bobo

Phoebe was an addict. A pacifier addict that is. She called hers Bobo and loved it more than anything in the world. It was a must for nap time, bed time, and anytime she felt shy or nervous. In fact, she would wake us up several times a night because Bobo would fall out of her mouth and she couldn't find it in the dark, and we would need to come and bring her another one. It was pretty ridiculous. No one ever got a night of interrupted sleep and if you were out in public and had forgotten to bring a Bobo, a serious fit would often follow. Plus, her teeth are starting to get pushed out and she is getting a bit of an overbite. It may be natural, but maybe it was from all of that pacifier time.We decided. It was time to say bye bye to Bobo.
Finn was never really attached to a pacifier, or a certain blanket or lovey. He was attached to me. First to my boobs, and then, when he weaned, to my body. In fact, when he was 2, he would lie in bed and yell "i want mommy's arm! i want mommy's mole". He liked to rub a mole on my arm while he fell asleep. It was cute, don't get me wrong, and I actually look back and really treasure those moments. But, it also meant that I couldn't ever leave the house before bedtime because he needed me, my actual body, to fall asleep. I couldn't have a night away, an evening out, without knowing that Todd's was struggling to get him down. I felt guilty and it was a bit limiting. So, when Phoebe was born, we decided it should be different. We gave her pacifiers, lovies, blankets, hoping that she would find something to help soothe her. Well, she did. All 3. And now she needs a certain lovey, a certain blankie, and until last week, a pacifier, just to fall asleep. I think our plan backfired!
Anyways, last Thursday night I collected all of the pacifiers from around the house, put them into a bowl, and told them that the Bobo fairy would be coming to take the pacifiers and give them to a little baby that needed them. Why make up a story about a fake bobo fairy? To take the blame off of me. That's right. I knew this was going to be rough on her, and if it was all MY fault, well, she may just never forgive me. Now she can hate the Bobo fairy all she wants, but she will still love her mama.
That first night she asked for Bobo, she cried a little, but was asleep in 20 minutes. That wasn't so bad, I thought. If that was it, why hadn't we done this sooner? Well, then 11:00 came. And 4:00. Each time she screamed (and I mean screamed) for about 30- 45 minutes. Screaming for Bobo, punching and kicking me because she was so upset, and banging her head against the wall. It was intense. I have never helped anyone go through withdrawal from a hard drug, but I imagine that it would have gone something like that first night with Phoebe. It was rough, and by the morning, I was exhausted.
Friday and Saturday night also had rough patches, but there was a big improvement over that first night. And by Sunday? Phoebe was sleeping all the way through the night. No waking up for Bobo, no screaming, nothing. Really? 3 nights? That's all? She still asks for her Bobo at bedtime each night, and usually a few times during the day, but we tell her Bobos are all gone. She says "Bobo all gone" and then moves on.
Sometimes I feel like a mean mama. My heart really did sink when I had to tell her no to Bobo, her prized possession. How could I ever say no to that sweet face? But now that we are all sleeping better, I think we did make the right decision.
So, there you have it. Farewell to Bobo! Thanks for helping Phoebe for such a long time, but please, don't come back! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along.

I have finally been knitting again! Hooray! Over the past week I finished up a birthday present for someone dear to me and have made a little bit of progress on Phoebe's In-Threes cardigan. It feels good to be using my needles once again.

I am currently reading The Explosive Child in hopes that it will give me some ideas on how to deal with and prevent the big ol' meltdowns that Finn is capable of. Finn has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) as well as anxiety, and over-the-top metldowns can be pretty common in kids who are emotionally lagging. I know that Finn often has these meltdowns in his classroom as well, so anything we can do to reduce them sounds great to me. The book focuses on the idea that when your kiddo doesn't want to do something, if at all possible, you should work together with your child to come up with a solution that everyone is happy with. It makes perfect sense, and is something that I feel like I already do quite a bit...... but then when you think about all of the things that kids don't want to do that need to be done (like getting dressed every morning)... it seems like a lot of talks and compromises just to get out the door each day. But, I am definitely willing to give it a try and see what happens!

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Coconut Oil: A New Best Friend for Those Who Get Fever Blisters

Do you get fever blisters? I have been cursed with them since I was young, but in the last decade of my life they seem to pop up whenever I am really stressed or travel to a dry climate. If you have ever had one, you know that they are not fun. They hurt and are painfully hideous to look at. I honestly hate leaving my house when one pops up because I feel like everyone is just staring at my lip.
In the past, when I would get a fever blister, I would get abreva, a common over the counter treatment. It maybe helped it go away quicker, but it would still last for days. Plus, I was sloshing chemicals onto my lip. Yuck.
Then, when I was pregnant with Phoebe, I got one and couldn't use the abreva. So, I had to research natural ways to treat fever blisters. And there are lots of ideas out there!
I have tried them all, or at least a lot of them, and the one that really seems to work for me is coconut oil. The lysine in the coconuts helps to naturally combat the virus that causes the breakout. Over the past year, I have applied coconut oil to my lips religiously whenever I start to feel a painful or tingling area, or if my lips ever get super dry... and, I haven't had a fever blister in about that long. Maybe I am lucky, but life has been pretty stressful lately, so I think the coconut oil is actually working to prevent outbreaks from happening. (Now that I write this I will probably wake up in the morning with a huge fever blister.....).
I actually bring a tin of coconut oil with me whenever we travel, which can actually be pretty messy as coconut oil liquifies at room temps. So, for example, coconut oil in my house is is currently solid, but when I brought some to Mexico, it was super runny and made a big mess. But, I did not return home with a fever blister as a souvenir, so the mess was totally worth it.
Do you get fever blisters? How do you treat them? Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our Weekend

Gluten-free pancakes,
fresh green juice.
Playdates at the park, 
scooter rides, and strolls through the neighborhood.
Some morning yoga,
mama-only trips to the gym,
and some snippets of reading and knitting here and there.
A birthday party, seed planting,
and friends over for a popcorn movie night at our house.

A trip to a soaking pool where Finn
learned to swim!
He has been on the verge for a long time,
but finally felt ready to set aside the water wings
and give it a go.
He had 2 very proud parents!
A celebratory trip out for Ethiopian food was
most certainly in order.

A full morning was spent taking down Phoebe's crib
(she now is on Finn's bottom bunk----
what a big girl!).
We did some major reorganizing and purging,
and even found room for a reading nook,
and I am oh-so-happy with the result!

A very full and productive weekend.

How was yours?

Joining in with Amanda from The Habit of Being.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Right Now......

  • I am loving that Finn has been putting Stevie Wonder on before falling asleep
  • I am trying to hang on to the last bit of baby in Phoebe before she is all 'big girl'
  • I am ready to find some new recipes to go into the dinner repertoire.
  • I am disgusted by the invasion of ants in our bathroom.... any suggestions?
  • I am feeling the urge to purge, organize and spring clean!
  • I am so proud of my kiddos and so thankful to be their mama.
What are you right now? Pin It Now!

Friday, April 12, 2013

This Moment: Concentration

{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, April 11, 2013

Garbage Land: on the Secret Trail of Trash: A Review

A few weeks ago, I finished up the book Garbage Land: on the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte. The title of this book doesn't quite entice me, but when I came across a synopsis of it, it seemed like it would be a perfect fit for the environmental science class I am teaching this term. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. I found it very informative, entertaining, and easy to read. And, it DOES fit perfectly with my class this term and I am having all of my students read it.
Americans produce huge amounts of trash. Yes, some is recycled, but the amount of trash that gets sent to landfills, or incinerated, each day is astounding. And, once we throw it "away", our trash often continues to cause problems for years to come by polluting the land and water.
In Garbage Land, the author follows the fate of her trash from her home in NYC and tries to figure out where it all ends up. This takes us on some crazy adventures form landfills to recycling centers, a wastewater treatment facility, a composting facility, and a whole host of others. Royte is smart and witty, and pokes fun at many of the folks she encounters, which only makes her tale more enjoyable.
Royte has us join her as she sorts through her trash before putting it on the curb. She separates the trash into categories, weighs each category, and deeply contemplates each portion of her trash and where it it originates from. She spends time doing her neighborhood route with the garbage collectors, getting a hands-on feel for the amount and type of trash to be found in NYC. She then tries to track down the landfill where her trash ends up. In the end, she is unsuccessful, but along the way she discusses landfills and some of their common problems, like landfill siting and leachate (basically trash-juice) contamination of groundwater.  As she tries to see the landfills first hand, she starts to discover the politics and secretiveness behind the trash business.
Rote also looks at ways that our "trash" can avoid the dump. She researches composting facilities and even tries her hand at composting her own food waste. She tours a recycling facility and touches on many of the common problems with recycling and why it is not as efficient as it could be.  She writes about hazardous waste and the ways that we deal (or don't deal) with it. She has a whole chapter devoted to plastics and how terrible they are for the planet, including some reasons why plastics aren't as recyclable as most folks think.
Royte doesn't stop at her trash can waste either... she decides to follow the path of her toilet waste. She visits the waste water treatment facility and sees how they separate the solids out, treat them, and then sell them as a fertilizer. This practice is commonly done across the country (including here where I live). These biosolids do have lots of nutrients, but they also often contain heavy metals and other toxic substances.
She ends the book discussing ways that we can reduce our trash, and subsequently, our impact on the Earth. She talks about reducing our consumption, ending junk mail delivery, avoiding packaging, and eventually aiming for zero waste communities.
The sad part is that yes, we are guilty of consuming too much, but so much of this lies in the hands of product manufacturers...most products these days are not built to last. In fact, the designers include "planned obsolescence" into the design....they figure out how quickly they can make something break so that you still trust them enough to buy a new one. In other words, our "stuff" is only meant to last a few years (and that is how these corporations keep making so much money!). Companies should have to take back their "stuff" after it breaks and figure out how to recycle it. One of the most important things I have really learned lately is that we vote with our dollars. When you can, give your money to folks who are making products with care and making them to last years or generations, not big corporations who are making stuff that is destined for the dump.
I would definitely recommended this book. It is such an interesting and thought-provoking journey about what we "get rid of" and where it actually goes. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for an April Yarn Along.

I haven't found much time this week for reading or knitting. I want to do both, and look forward to it each day, and then by the time I get life wrapped up and head to bed I am usually too exhausted for more than a few pages or rows. I started a teaching a new term last week, have actually been being social and spending time with other adults, and on top of that I started taking a guitar class (yeah!). I have played poorly on and off for years, and since I get to take free classes from the college where I teach, I thought it would be fun to learn in a class setting. At least it should refresh my brain and make me practice! I have also been dealing with what I think are some sort of mysterious sudden-onset GERD symptoms (?) that started while we were in Mexico and have since spent a lot of energy trying to figure out how to make my body feel better. I am still working on it, but feel like I am (slowly) making progress.

I'm still working on reading Moby Duck. It is proving to be hard to get through, but the information is interesting, and I hope to get it finished one of these days. Also still reading my quick and easy read from last week, This is Where I Leave You. I am actually enjoying it loads, but like I said, just haven't found the time (or energy) to read.

And the knitting has been about as productive as the reading. After getting a few more rows in, I set aside the In-Threes cardigan that I am knitting for Phoebe. I decide to work on a birthday cowl that I had on the needles since I think I can finish it pretty quickly. Maybe finishing a project will give me some knitting inspiration....?

Hoping this isn't too much of a complainer post! It is just funny sometimes to suddenly realize it's Yarn Along day and then to realize I am still reading the same books and haven't knit much of anything. I just wonder where the time goes! How has it already been a week!?!

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Non-Toxic Wasp Remover

Wasps can be helpful in the garden- they eat insects and also help pollinate. But, their stings hurt, so they can be a bit pesky if you have young children or anyone who is allergic to their stings.
My husband is allergic to wasp stings, so when I found a small wasp nest above our front door Easter weekend, I knew I needed to get it down ASAP.
Since it was so small, I figured I would just powerhose it off the house, and the wasps would leave and find somewhere else to build. No such luck. The nest washed off easily, but within an hour a new nest was already underway (in the same exact spot). So, I had to get wasp remover.
I have only removed wasps once before, in Montana, and just bought the wasp killer that our local hardware store had. It was a pesticide, probably very toxic, and who knows how much of it I inhaled.
I wondered if there was a less-toxic way to get rid of the wasps, with the same ease as the chemical spray (I know you can smoke them out, but that didn't seem like such a good idea right by our front door). I called our local nursery and easily found a peppermint-oil based spray. I wondered how effective it would be.
I waited until sunset (so the wasps would be in the nest), got out my headlamp, and sprayed the nest thoroughly. Within seconds, the nest had shriveled and the wasps along with it, and there have been no signs of them since.
I will say that I felt pretty guilty doing this. I don't like to purposely kill anything, even stinging insects. But, with Todd's allergy (and possibly the kids as well), it wasn't worth the risk to leave them. I am happy that I chose the peppermint oil spray and not the regular old toxic chemical spray. The natural version worked like a charm, didn't smell, and didn't make me feel like I was going to wake up with cancer. Two thumbs up!

A fellow blogger has since told me that if you paint the underside of your roof a pale blue that the wasps will never build a nest there to begin with.... but that is something I have yet to experiment with.

Do you have any great tips or tricks for getting rid of unwanted pests? Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Finn and the Kindergarten Decision

As some of you know, my 5 year old son, Finn, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and anxiety last fall. Things that are easy for most families can be a huge struggle for us and I feel like a lot of our day revolves around Finn, his appointments, and his needs. His transition into his new Japanese immersion preschool program last fall was nothing short of a disaster. But, eventually, Finn did make that transition and by Thanksgiving, he was mostly comfortable in his class. Potty accidents has stopped, crying had stopped, and he was participating in most of the activities. He was happy. We were happy.
Well,.... then came Christmas break. His transition back into his classroom was hard. Very hard. We were back to meltdowns, peeing in his pants (up to 3 times a day!), and then he was refusing to go outside for recess. He was clearly not happy. I was stressed and spent a lot of time crying. We set goals, offered rewards, talked through scenarios... nothing seemed to work.
Then, all of a sudden, about a month after the holiday break had ended, he was back to happy Finn and was once again doing great at school. No accidents, no more crying, no more worrying. And with this new school rhythm came a better rhythm at home and everywhere.....  there has been less whining, less metldowns, he has been getting dressed when we ask (when it used to take 40 minutes or so), and even his occupational therapist said that he has suddenly been making huge progress there as well. He is happy and I feel like we are once again back on the right track.
What I have learned from all of this so far, is that Finn is completely capable. He just needs time to adjust. A lot more time than most kids his age, but if he is given that time, eventually, he will excel. Sadly, sometimes that time is not available, which means that Finn will miss out on certain things, at least as long as he transitions so slowly. But, if he continues to find patient teachers, I think he will succeed.
I know that this journey is long from over. In fact, this recent progress is really just a signal that we can take the next step and try and focus on his anxiety and the root of many of his problems. We are considering working on some diet changes, or possibly adding an herbal regimen to his day. Our most recent dilemma was deciding Finn's school plan for next fall:
Finn's current school is a Japanese immersion program. In kindergarten they split the days 50/50 in Japanese and English, which means 2 things for Finn: 1. Half of the day is in Japanese (as compared to pre-k where the Japanese is mostly interspersed throughout the day), and the language part of his school has been making him really anxious and 2. Since they only have half a day to learn what a normal kindergarten would do in an entire day, there are non-stop transitions. After meetings with Finn's current teachers, the Kindergarten teachers, his disability team, his therapist, and talks with Mr. Finn himself, we decided that we are going to put Finn into a regular kindergarten next year. Todd and I are a bit sad, as we both love his current school and loved the idea of him being bilingual, but we have realized this is not about us. This is about what is best for Finn and where he will be most likely to succeed, and in reality, the traditional preschool in our neighborhood seems like a better fit. That does mean that now Finn will have to transition to a new school in the fall, and make new friends, and learn a new routine, but in the long run, I believe it is for the best. I am just happy that we have finally made a decision.

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Friday, April 5, 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 again to tell you all how cute my little Finny is..... Tuesday night Todd and I had a babysitter while we went to a meeting. We got home about an hour after bedtime and Finn was still awake. I went in to give him a hug, and he told me this: "Mom, I couldn't fall asleep because I just couldn't stop thinking about you". He then gave me a huge hug and a kiss, rolled over and fell right asleep. Isn't that the sweetest? Pin It Now!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Super Easy Non-Toxic Stain Remover

Many of you probably already know this trick, but I think I usually repress it during the winter months when it is cool and rainy. But last weekend, the sun was out and it was warm and beautiful. After trying to get a stubborn pomegranate stain (actually about 20 separate stains) out of Phoebe's brand-new super cute orange pants by using an all-natural store-bought stain remover and also hydrogen peroxide, I was thinking that the pants may have been ruined. But then I remembered a super easy summertime stain remover:

lemon juice + sunlight

I just squeezed some lemon juice onto the stains, put them out in the sun for literally about 15 minutes, and voila! stain-free! They seriously look brand new. I should have taken a before and after picture, but I was just so antsy to get the stains out!

This method hasn't worked for all stains, but seems to do really well on fruit or other food-based stains. I am so happy I remembered it and thought I would share it here for those of you who haven;t yet tried it or have maybe forgotten about it too!

Have you used this stain-removal method before? What is your favorite natural stain-removal? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny at Small Things for an April Yarn Along.

I actually got some reading done while in Mexico and of the 3 books I brought, I finished 2 and read about 100 pages of the 3rd, Moby Duck. I'm still working on Moby Duck. It is information-intensive and so pretty slow reading. The author of the book writes about his quest to search out some plastic bath toys that were lost at sea. The book gets into ocean currents, problems with plastics, and the issue of pollution, all topics that I teach in my environmental science classes. I am enjoying it, but also finding that for me, there are just way too many details that don't quite pertain to the storyline. Over the weekend, the kids were sick and I was feeling sort of blah myself, and decided I needed a good ol' novel to read. Something quick and easy, and funny as well. I chose This is Where I Leave You, a book that was passed along by mom mother a while back. So far it is funny, albeit in a very dark humor sort of way.

Before Mexico, I managed to finish up this knit whale for Phoebe's Easter basket (photo below). It was quick and easy. I left off the eyes because I used a wool-acrylic mix from my stash, and the patterned called for needle felting the eyes on. I decided to just leave them off for now, mostly out of laziness. I brought my In-Threes cardigan that I am knitting for Phoebe along to Mexico. I knit 2 rows while I was on the plane there and haven't touched it (or any other knitting) since! Ahh! I lost my groove. I think the warm weather that we had and Mexico, and since our return to Portland, has pushed knitting back into the farthest recesses of my brain and I can't seem to get inspired to pick up my needles. But, I now have 3 WIPs, and I know once I decide to pick up those needles this week, I will be back on track. Or at least I hope so.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Our Spring Garden

This weekend we were blessed with magnificently warm and sunny weather. We were long overdue for some gardening, and the perfect weather was just the motivation that we needed. I did a lot of weeding, we composted a couple of our garden beds (with compost from our compost bin-exciting!), and we did quite a bit of planting. Here is what we planted for our spring garden:
  • snap peas (I planted these about 2 weeks ago, but planted several more seeds this weekend)
  • green onions
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • potatoes
  • a bunch of flower seeds including morning glories, moonflowers, daisies, and a children's flower mix we found at our neighborhood nursery
I also hope to get some beets, radishes and mustard greens in the ground early this week.

The perennials in our garden are coming back to life: the grape vine is budding, bulbs are flowering and the herbs are turning green. Last fall's kale and broccoli is flowering (which I have left to attract pollinators). The kids have been eager to help with the garden and Finn has been excited to see how fast the snap peas are starting to grow (he is eagerly awaiting peas that he can eat!).  The sunshine has been amazing and I am starting to dream big gardening plans for this summer.

Do you have a garden? What are you growing?

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