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, June 29, 2014

Hola Mis Amigos!

We just got back from a wonderful week in Cancun. It was amazing. My parents, my sister and her family and my family all met in Cancun and spent a week at an all-inclusive resort to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday. And, my parents paid for the plane tickets and hotel (thanks mom!). I got to spend lots of time with family, Finn and Phoebe had some bonding time with their cousins, the weather was perfect, and I didn't have to clean or do dishes for an entire week. It was a true vacation.
The getting there part was a little bit hectic-- at about 7 pm the night before we left our front door lock broke. Literally. We were actually locked in the house. Luckily we found someone to fix it in a pinch on a Friday night, otherwise our pet sitter would not have been able to get in! Then, our first morning flight was quite a bit delayed and we almost missed our flight to Cancun. By the time we arrived in Mexico, I was feeling extremely lucky that we had even made it there.
We spent our days playing at the beach or in the pool (there may have been some pina coladas and dacquiris as well). We collected some sea shell treasures. Phoebe learned how to swim (my little Pisces girl).  And we ate. A lot. 
It's funny-- we never even left the resort. I am a person who like to explore new places, go on adventures, and be busy. But we did none of that. We stayed. We lounged. We did not explore. And actually, that was really nice for a change.
It feels good to be back home (to rain and 60-degree weather here in Portland), but I am pretty sad about this whole cooking and cleaning thing......

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cloud Dough

Inspired by Courtney's post, over at A Life Sustained, I decided to make some cloud dough for my kids. Not only is it a great sensory tool for Finn (who has Sensory Processing Disorder) but it involves getting your hands dirty, which Phoebe is all about.
The original recipe calls for baby oil, which we don't use, so didn't have around the house. Courtney substituted mineral oil, but we didn't have that either. And, I didn't want to make a trip to the store. So, I decided to use canola oil instead. I had to double the amount of oil, but it worked! And it's edible if need be (which is good because the dogs definitely had a few tastes).
To make your own: Mix 8 cups of flour with 2 cups of canola oil. Add measuring cups, spoons, or other toys. Then, play!
The funny thing is.. Finn was excited and wanted to help me make it. But, then wouldn't touch it once it was finished. It's not gross or slimy, and actually feels lovely to play with. In fact, Phoebe didn't want to stop. I saved it in a small storage bin, so I will pull it out again soon. Hopefully next time I can overcome Finn's sensory hesitations...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blueberry Lavender Lemon Ricotta Muffins

I have been thinking about baking something with lavender in it for weeks now, and finally decided what I wanted to try. I took my favorite lemon muffin recipe, and simply added blueberries and lavender to it. I wasn't sure the best way to add lavender to a baked good... so I just chose about 7 lavender stems, let them sit out for a couple of days so that they were partially dried, and then pulled the flowers off the stem. I added them in at the beginning, with the butter, so that there was more of a chance for the flavor to spread.
That said, not every bite tastes like lavender,  but each bite with a flower piece in it certainly did! So, make sure you don't overdo the flowers. The taste is lovely, but I think too much would ruin it.
Do you have any favorite lavender recipes?
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Our First Week of Summer

Our first week of summer has been, well, a transition. I took the summer off from teaching, which means neither of my children are going to any school or camps or, well, anything. At least without me. Monday and Tuesday it was in the 50's and raining, and we were mostly cooped up inside. I was starting to wonder how my children and I were going to survive an entire summer with each other. But by Wednesday the weather improved, and we were able to spend time outside, which seemed to save us all.
I made a big bucket-list for the summer. Mostly of places we have never been to, but that look inviting from the online descriptions. Some of them are bigger day or weekend trips, but most are places within an hour or less.. easy to head out for just half of a day. Well, so far our luck hasn't been so great.... The first park I tracked down wasn't so much a park as a small area of bushes that was situated adjacent to a running track. There was no parking nearby, and well, not much to do anyways. Bust. Our next adventure was to a "nature park". Which happened to be a series of super steep trails leading down into a deep dark patch of forest. We never even attempted to get out of the car.  One look at the steep steps down reminded me of the grand canyon, and I knew I would be carrying at least one kid back out. We had another failed adventure when we tried to get to a wetland nature park near where Finn goes to occupational therapy. The wetland is magnificent, however, you can only get a good view from the parking lot of an industrial complex (see photo above). And, after finally finding trail access that went towards the wetland, I realized that there is no way to get close enough to see anything. The grasses surrounding it are so tall that it's not possible to see the actual water (unless you are in the parking lot of the industrial complex). We did have fun walking the nearby trail, and watching birds fly overhead, but... it wasn't quite what I had planned on.
We have had some good adventures though... a trip to the science museum to see Bears (the movie) on the imax and to play at the museum, a trip to the Portland Rose Test Garden, and a visit to the Pittock Mansion which has the best views of Portland that I have ever seen. We have painted. A lot. Gone on walks.  Played in the sprinkler. Eaten ice cream. You know, summer stuff.
And we have a whole bucket list left to tackle. Let's just hope we find some of the other places a bit more up our alley.....

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's Summer!

Wishing you all a lovely summer solstice. Hope the longest day of the year brings you much joy!
Happy Summer Everyone!
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Friday, June 20, 2014

This Moment: My Budding Entemologist

{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, June 18, 2014

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for today's Yarn Along. 

The past few days have been cold and rainy and I have actually been motivated to pick up my sweater and knit for a bit (the warm weather we had earlier in the month was not exactly sweater-knitting weather if you ask me). Anyways, I am hoping to make some progress this week, as we are headed off for a week-long adventure soon, and I don't think I am bringing any knitting with me. And, I am hoping, that upon our return, it may actually feel like summer here, and maybe I won't want to be knitting a sweater.

I am just finishing up reading Wild,  Cheryl Strayed's account of hiking the PCT solo back in the 1990's. This was my top pick for my summer 2014 reading list. So far, it has been a quick and easy read, and I love the familiarity of the descriptions (as she hikes through California and Oregon, both places I have lived and loved), but I also sometimes find myself annoyed with her bad choices and ability to write them off. So, it is not as amazing as I had expected, but it has been a captivating read nonetheless.

Aside from that, I have a stack of parenting books that I am trying to work my way through. Not the most exciting reading, but with a very independent 3 year old, very necessary. At least for now. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A First LOST Tooth

At 6.5 years old, Finn was starting to feel like the last of his friends to lose a tooth. But, after many weeks of wiggling, on Sunday, he lost his first one. And, when I say lost, I literally mean lost. I was the one who pointed out to him that it was no longer in his mouth. We searched around for it, to no avail. He insists that there is no possible way that he swallowed it (I think because the idea of that grosses him out), but alas, I see no other alternative. I did, however, pretend to agree with him and have been keeping my eyes out for this lost tooth ever since.
Anyways, I feel like it is a big step. Finn is growing up. Getting teeth that he will have for the rest of his life. Teeth that he will have when he is my age! And when he is MY age, I will be 66. Holy smokes. I maynot have many teeth at that point. Hehe.
Back when his tooth started to wiggle I sewed him a simple felt bag that he could hang from his door so that the tooth fairy didn't have to sneak under his pillow. I guess she didn't have to do any sneaking this time, as there was no tooth to exchange, but she was a nice fairy and paid a visit anyways. And Finn liked the tooth bag. Or at least he didn't not like it, which is usually the sort of agreement I get these days...

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Farewell Froggy Friends

On Saturday morning, we said goodbye to our 5 little Pacific Chorus Frogs. We got them as tadpoles back in May, and after watching each one morph from tadpole to frog (which is an incredible experience), we knew it was time to let them go. We brought them back to the tiny pond (at a water garden supply store!) from which they came and set them free. It felt good, but I miss them nonetheless. I was excited to wake up each morning and feed them and watch them hunt fruit flies, or jump from glass wall to glass wall of the tank they were in. They are pretty amazing creatures.
The frogs were all terrified of me and would try to stay away from my hand any time I had to go in to the tank. However, when the last tadpole morphed, this littlest one seemed to befriend me. When I had my hand in, she (or he) would willingly climb on to my hand and would often sit there until I put her down somewhere. I joked that she wouldn't want to leave when we took them back to the pond.
And, Saturday morning, when I opened the top of the jar that I transported them in, 4 happy frogs hopped away and jumped right into the water. And one little frog came back and climbed the outside of the jar trying to get back in. I picked her up and brought her to a rock near the pond's edge, said my goodbye, and with the help of Phoebe's finger, she found her way into the water.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our June Garden and A Link Up

I can't believe it is already the middle of June! Our garden has exploded in oranges and purples, and new growth is shooting up in every available space. I did things a bit more haphazard this year than normal.... I decided to do more group plantings, like putting garlic, nasturtium, poppies, and peas all in one box together, and sticking in squash and peppers wherever there was a free spot. It seemed like a great idea, but now we have calendula and echinacea sprouting up everywhere and there seems to be some competition for light. But, whatever comes of it, it looks beautiful right now and makes me smile each time I walk outside.
What are we growing? Our snap peas are still producing, but seem to be waning down. Our mustard greens and cilantro have gone to seed. We are harvesting basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano and dill, strawberries, lettuce, kale and mint... yes, there is always (too much) mint. And we are awaiting tomatoes, potatoes, two kinds of hot peppers, blueberries, pumpkins, butternut, acorn and delicata squash, zucchinis, grapes, pole beans, raspberries and blackberries. But mostly, we have flowers. Poppies and calendula galore, cat mint, wall flowers, yarrow. I love heading out to the garden every day to watch the insect life it attracts and to see what has changed.

 What is growing in your garden? I would love to see... please share your link with us below!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

This Moment: New Haircut

{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, June 11, 2014

A Little Break

Hello! I haven't stepped foot in the blogosphere for quite a few days now. The short break was unintentionally, and now I feel like I have so much to say.
We spent a long weekend (Friday through Monday) in Stevenson, Washington, in the Columbia River Gorge. It is only about 50 minutes away, but it is an entirely different place from Portland, so it did feel like a real vacation. We had friends in from out of town and rented a house right along the Columbia River (which also happened to be right along the railroad tracks!). It was beautiful, the town was quaint, and we did a lot of relaxing. The internet access was spotty at best, so I decided to take a break from my computer and anything work related.... which meant that Monday night I was swamped with grading upon returning home.
I gave my final yesterday and finished up grading this morning, and, well, let's just say it is officially my summer break! This week I have a lot of catching up to do, especially out in my garden. So, for now, I will leave you all with a few pictures from our gorge trip.

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