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, January 31, 2015

Cannon Beach

The past couple of weeks have been filled with sunny days, which is a rare winter treat around here. All that sun gave me the urge to get away from the city and to the ocean, and yesterday afternoon we finally had the chance to do just that. We were only there for a few hours, but that was enough. I just needed to soak up some of that ocean energy and dig around in the sand.
I brought the dogs as well, and since Puppy Cow is 14 and nearing the end, this may have been his last beach trip. However, I thought our trip in the fall might be his last, so yesterday was sort of a bonus.
I love living near the ocean. Driving for an hour to see endless water. There is something freeing about that.
I hope to get back in the next couple of months... I especially want to do some tidepooling... but we will have to see what weather and time allow.

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Unwelcome Guests

We caught this little scoundrel watching over our ducks yesterday morning (in broad daylight). A few years ago, one of our ducks was attacked by a raccoon. The duck did recover, but we have been extra cautious ever since.
I do have a soft spot for these masked marauders (I think they are adorable), however, I am not OK with them using my yard as a duck buffet... so I have to use scare tactics whenever I see them nearby.
She left, reluctantly, but I will be on guard to make sure she doesn't return....

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Friday, January 30, 2015

This Moment: Building Forts

{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, January 28, 2015

Yarn Along

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

This week I have been working mainly on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I have finished the body and now just have the sleeves and hood left to do. Both involve picking up stitches, so I need to make sure I am mentally present, which actually rules out a lot of my knitting time. I normally sit down with my knitting at the very end of the day, when the dishes are done and the kids are in bed-- and sometimes, by that point, there is not much energy left for thinking! No picture of the sweater today-- but hopefully a finished one soon!

I also decided to start myself another one of these cowls (shown in the photos). I just finished one a couple of weeks ago, but ran out of the yarn I was using-- and it was a random skein I purchased when a yarn shop was closing. It is still wearable, but less thick than I wanted, and it has been nagging at me ever since. The sweater I am knitting for Phoebe is too big to bring anywhere, so this has been my on-the-go/ my brain is too tired to think about a sweater project. I am using scrap yarn from my stash (yes!) and am loving how the color scheme is turning out.

Last week I mentioned I was reading The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russel Gold. A lot of you were interested in the book, even requesting a review. Well, here it is: Honestly, I didn't quite read the whole book. I skipped about 100 pages and came back for the last chapter. I was thinking the book was more about fracking and its impacts... and instead, most of the book was naming men who own oil companies and telling how much they paid for this or that. I am sure that information is interesting to someone, just not me. Snore. I enjoyed the beginning, where it talked about the logistics of fracking, how the process works and the impacts of this oil boom on the workers and small communities. The end chapter has a few paragraphs on the environmental issues. And the whole middle is like a really boring story of rich guys. Just not for me. Sorry to get your hopes up!

Currently I am reading The Martian by Andy Weir. It is so interesting! A fiction story where a man gets left for dead on Mars. I am completely captivated!

Oh yeah, and Moshi wanted to say hi for yarn along today!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Our Weekend

Our weekend was mellow, relaxing-- bordering on restless at a few moments even.
Friday night I made my favorite lemon tart, and we had movie night, watching Kiki's Delivery Service, an anime film from 1989.
Saturday I headed out to an early morning yoga class, made french toast, and took Phoebe to her swim class. The sun came out in the early afternoon and I happily did some outdoor chores around the house; tidying up the garden, fixing the fence, cleaning up the back porch. All things that have been on my to-do list for ages, but have been waiting for nice weather. Afterwards, we took the kids to the park to play on the equipment and shoot some hoops. They rolled down the huge muddy hill and came home looking a bit like wild savages......which lead to a late afternoon round of showers and a very early dinner eating outside at our favorite Mexican. Todd went to his office for an evening of work, which meant that I had the night to myself. I indulged in some tv watching (Downton Abbey included!) and made some good progress on the sweater I am knitting for Phoebe.
Sunday morning was super foggy and so we puttered around the house. We read, we did some yoga and some science experiments, but mostly the kids just used their imagination to do whatever kids do. Our big plans for the day were to go on a hike. The fog cleared around 11:00, and it was warm and sunny, so after lunch we got in the car for our adventure. And then we were foiled. Fog surrounded us on all sides. It was sitting on all of the rivers and water bodies. And we decide we needed sun more than we needed a hike. So we headed back to the park to play in the sun. And it was warm-- 60's-- in January. Which felt fabulous, but also just sort of wrong. Like spring was here, except it's not, because it's only January. I finished off the weekend with a run to a hot tub with a friend. If all runs ended in a hot tub, I would go every day!

How was your weekend?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding Nature

Living in a city, I often feel the need to escape, and to find some bit of nature, no matter how small. Luckily, Portland is situated in an amazing part of the country, and we have so much access to wilderness: forests, rivers and ocean. Sometimes, however, we don't have the luxury of enough time to drive an hour or more to seek out these treasures. And on those days, we do the best with what is close and easily accessible. Sometimes that is playing on the bank of a not particularly pristine river, or walking through a wetland surrounded by industry. And sometimes, these little gems in the rough are the best places of all, because you can see, that even amidst human development and pollution, nature still thrives, and is ready to take over the second it is given a chance.
Anyways, the resilience of nature was not actually my intention when I sat down to write this post. Rather, I was thinking of how easily children are occupied in nature. If I bring my kids to the beach or a river, or even to a pile of dirt or rocks that they can dig in, they will literally play for hours. Happy, immersed in their own thoughts. Sticks become props, treasures are found, ideas are discovered. In the comfort of our cozy home, toys that were coveted for months are played with for a few minutes at a time before becoming boring. Others barely even make it out of the packaging. This is not to say that all toys are like this; Finn can (and has) played with his legos for hours on end, and books, markers and stuffed animals are all well loved in our home too. But outside, there is always something to find, something to do, something to explore. So on those days when my kids don't want to go on a hike or for an adventure, I still make them go. And you know what? They (almost) always have fun once they are there.  

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yarn Along

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

The past week has been wonderful. For whatever reason, I feel like the world has slowed down a little bit and I have found time to read and knit, time that didn't even need to be (mentally) scheduled in.

This week I have been working on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I have made some good progress over the past week (but then again, chunky needles and thick yarn will do that for you). I have just arrived at the part in the pattern where I need to divide for the sleeves, which means I will need to  start paying a lot more attention. The stitches are so thick that I think any little mistake will be easily noticeable. But, I am loving the color and loving how fast it is growing!

Currently, I am reading The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russel Gold, which so far has been a fairly unbiased and informative read on the impacts of fracking. I am only about 1/6 of the way into the book, but I do like it so far. It directly relates to what I am teaching about this term, and I try to keep up with at least some of the relevant literature.... I am also reading Specials, the third book in Scott Westerfield's Uglies series. It's teen sci-fi: easy reading and a bit mindless, but also makes you start to question the world around you.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Sunday, January 18, 2015


This week I have felt grateful for:

* The rain. Yes, I do live in Portland and yes it rains here a lot throughout the winter. And no, I don't actually love the rain. I would prefer a nice sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Yesterday was brutal.. hard rain falling all day long without a break. Ugh. But water is life. Without rain, life is a struggle. And here, in the land of abundant rain, we have green growth all throughout the year. And that is something I do love.

* My kids. Even though there are some days that are challenging as a parent, I am so lucky to be on this journey. And I am so glad that my children are who they are (struggles and all). My children teach me every day, and I am so grateful for that.

* For some quiet moments this week to read and knit, and for the indulgence of Downton Abbey.

What are you grateful for this week?

Playing along with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Reusable Snack Bags: A Quick Tutorial

One of my goals for this year is to cut back on my family's resource use and the waste that we produce. For about 9 months, I have been meaning to make some reusable snack bags for Finn's lunch and packing snacks on the go. And this past week I finally did just that. Finally. Sometimes I just don't know why I put things off so long.

These are pretty easy to make, once you get the process figured out. I bought a half yard of ripstop fabric from the store for the linings of the bags, and used fabric from my stash for the outside. Here is a quick run down of the steps:

1.  Decide on the size that you want your bag. Fold your cotton fabric in half (the folded side will be your bottom of the bag). Add 1/2" seam allowance to each side and the top and cut out your fabric. Do the same thing for the ripstop. Make sure you cut the fabric the same size (don't just guesstimate). If the 2 pieces are not the same, the bag won't sew together evenly.

2. Fold your fabric along the bottom edge so that the right side is on the inside. I like to iron my fabric folded flat at this point to make things nice and even. Sew the fabric together on each side seam, leaving a 1/2" seam. Leave the top side open. Do the same for the ripstop. Now iron the side seams open.

3. Now you will need some sew-on velcro. Turn your ripstop fabric right-side-out and sew a strip of velcro about 1/2 inch down from the top edge on each side of the ripstop (note: make sure your two pieces of velcro make a set that will stick together-- one side should have loops and one side should have hooks-- this is how your bag will close later).

4. OK, now turn your ripstop fabric back so that it is wrong side out (with the velcro on the inside). Next, turn your cotton fabric so it is right side out and place it into the ripstop fabric. At this point, the right sides of each of your fabrics should be touching.

5. Now top stitch all the way around the top of the two bags, closing them together. Leave a 2" opening.

6. Next. pull your bag through the 2 inch opening so that the right sides are both out. It's hard to explain this part, but just do it, and you will see what I mean. Now you (almost) have a bag! Just top stitch again, this time without leaving a gap, and make sure you close the gap that you left earlier.

You're done!

Sorry I don't have pictures of each step. I sew-by-night and there is just not enough light for a quality shot. Just leave a comment with any questions you may have!

Finn has been using his new bags all week. So far I have hand washed, but I don't see why they can't go in the machine as well.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yarn Along

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

Last week I finished up one of these cowls for myself. However, I ran out of yarn about 9 rows from the end (and it was a random, leftover skein I got when I yarn shop was closing), so it doesn't have the heft that it is supposed to. I have still worn it a bit, but it's not quite what I had imagined.

This week I have been working on Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater. I am hoping to have the sweater and the mouse doll done in time for her birthday on March 1st. It's chunky yarn on big needles, so it should go quickly.

I'm still reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have a bit over 100 pages left and I can't wait to find out what happens. This is a favorite read of mine!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Magic Morning

This morning, as soon as Finn left for school, Phoebe and I headed to a wetland area within the city limits. When we first arrived, we were the only ones there. The sun was peeking out between clouds and the colors of the sky were reflected in the calm water. We quietly crept down to the biggest pond, and had a moment before any of the the birds noticed we were there. We saw a great blue heron, an egret, and a paddling of ducks... and for that moment, before our presence interrupted them, we got to see them in their full wildness.
I love those magic moments in nature, and I love even more when I can share them with my children.
Hope you found some magic in your day today as well!

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Our Weekend

This weekend was full of friends and social gatherings. A birthday party, a couple of ladies nights, dinner with friends, a playdate, a run with a friend. It felt busy and full, but good.
We found some time for quiet too.... I spent a little time with my sewing machine (how I have missed you old friend!), the kids and I got to spend a little time in the woods, a trip to the library, playing new board games.
I know the week ahead will be a busy one, and part of me wishes I was heading into it with more rest.. but at the same time, my heart is full from so much wonderful time with wonderful friends.

Hope your weekend was fantastic!
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Friday, January 9, 2015

The Scoop on Poop

One of my goals for 2015 is to reduce the amount of trash my family is sending to the landfill. We compost and recycle, and buy used when we can, so we don't have a crazy amount of trash.... but I think we still have a lot of room for improvement. I know a lot of our waste comes from food packaging that can't be recycled, but another large part of it has been coming from our pets. 
As many of you already know, we are a house of animal lovers. We have 3 cats and 2 dogs (we used to have 4). Which means a lot of fur and a lot of poop.
When we first moved from Montana to Portland, we saw dog poop in a whole new light. In Montana we lived on 4.5 acres and it was dry there... so the dogs would bathroom somewhere on the property and after a few weeks it would be dried out and return to the soil. Unless the dogs happened to go to the bathroom right on a pathway we used, we just didn't bother to pick it up. We didn't need to. Heck, we rarely even saw any.
Once we got to Portland, we now had dogs with a fenced-in front yard as big as a large bathroom. It is constantly wet here and if you don't pick up after the dogs several times A DAY, someone is bound to step in it and create a huge mess. So now we pick up dog poop. A lot.
And this has been a huge wake-up call in how much poop a dog can produce. When we had 4 dogs (plus add 3 cats to that), animal waste probably made up 1/3 to 1/2 of our landfill waste. Gross, right? A few years ago, we tried to make a separate compost pile for dog waste on our side yard, but it got too stinky too quick. We looked into special dog waste compost systems, but they wouldn't work in our soil type. Finally, I resigned myself to continue tossing it in the trash.
Then, a couple of months ago, I found out that there is now a company that will pick up your animal waste from your home and take it to a specialized compost facility. We just scoop the poop into a bucket and they come switch it out once a week. It's easy. It's not super expensive. And we have been reducing our trash.
Sometimes I have to laugh at myself thinking that we pay for someone to haul away our dog and cat poop and compost it (only in Portland, right?). But, until the city compost is able to accommodate animal waste (hopefully one day!), I think we have found the best solution.
I would love to hear stories about other creative ways people deal with their pet waste! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yarn Along

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

This week I decided to pick back up the Phoebe's sweater I was going to knit my Phoebe for Christmas. As November rounded the corner into December, I decided that there just wasn't enough time, and that it would be a perfect present for her birthday on March 1st. Well, when I picked it up a couple of days ago, and started knitting, I noticed that the pattern just wasn't right. After a bit of detective work, I realized I had cast on the wrong number of stitches, by a lot, completely throwing off the pattern. So, Phoebe's Phoebe's sweater has been frogged and re-started and it is looking great this time around (although I am only about 12 rows in.......). Now I just have to finish it by her birthday! I am also making myself one of these cowls. But, I am keeping that one in my bag for knitting on the go!

I finally gave Phoebe her new plain tunic and got her to pose for a few shots. The yarn is a blend of wool and silk and is super cozy. I sort of wish I had one for myself....

I'm reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.I'm about halfway through and totally captivated.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Handmade Holidays

Ever since Finn was a baby, I have hand-made many Christmas presents for him each year. However, as Finn has gotten older, he has become mainly interested in books, legos, art, and science. He already has plenty of hats and mittens and he won't wear sweaters or thick socks. I couldn't think of anything that he wanted or needed that I could make that he would actually appreciate. So this year, I didn't make him anything for Christmas.
I made Phoebe a felted play mat for her ponies. I actually had a really fun time making it... but so far she hasn't shown a whole lot of interest in it. It comes out here and there for a few minutes, and then is soon forgotten.  I imagine that it will eventually get it's turn, but it may take a while. I knit a dress for Phoebe too-- even though she didn't really need one. But that's all I hand made for my kids this year.
I did make some hand stitched felt ornaments, and knit some cowls, but I was not the crazy crafter that I normally am this time of year. I am not sure if it is because my kids are reaching an age where I can't make what they are really interested in, or if I have become busier or lazier, or if I just felt like they didn't need anything I could make.
It was nice to not be so stressed in the days leading up to Christmas, trying to get everything done in time, but I also feel like the lack of handmade gifts sort of took some of the personalization out of Christmas-- like we let commercialism take over. I missed seeing presents that I made sitting under our tree, and hope that next year I can find the inspiration to hand make more of their gifts. I will have to start the planning earlier next year though......
Did you make many of your holiday gifts this year? If so, when do you start planning and preparing your gifts for the holidays? I swear, I think I need to start in July.... Pin It Now!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our Weekend, Some Links and A Very Silly Girl

 The past couple of days have been  the perfect mix of excitement and lazy.......
  • A trip to the indoor trampoline park and a lunch out on the town.
  • We un-Christmased the house, which I was just a teeny bit sad about.
  • I had some time to myself for a run, some yoga and even a (solo) trip to the thrift store.
  • We have been munching on this easy and delicious salad all weekend. Even Finn is a huge fan!
  • The kids made these art projects. Finn initially didn't want to join in, but when he saw food coloring and pipettes, he couldn't help himself.
  • I found a new awesome recipe for healthy treats. Finn is not a fan, but me, the Todd and Miss P are all in love.
  • I sneaked in some work time, as a new term starts on Tuesday
  • I have been feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for having such awesome kids.... Finn, who is such a great big brother, and Phoebe, who is the silliest girl I know (see below for details).
  • And now this mama is getting ready for an evening on the town with some ladies. Bring on the chocolate!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Finding Time for Nature

The past few days have been really great. With the holidays over, and our days still free from school and work, we have found a lot more time to be outside. The end of last week was very cold though, so we were bundled for our hikes and didn't venture as far as we would have normally.
On the good side, freezing hikes make for really cool icicles and rime, so we found many treasures along the way.
Today the rain came back and Monday we will once again be back to the grind. We will still find time for hikes and outdoor adventures, but mainly only on the weekends (at least until the days get longer).

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Friday, January 2, 2015

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, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015!

Happy New Year!!!

Just as I was getting used to the idea that it was 2014, it seems that somehow, another year has slipped past. But even when it catches me off-guard, I always welcome the new year with open arms; it is a chance for new beginnings, new hopes and new opportunities.
I am a list maker, and each year I spend the last week of December writing a list of goals and dreams for the new year to come. And this year was no different. I have made a list of things I want to accomplish, areas in which I want to improve, and dreams I hope come to fruition. And with the fresh start that January brings, there is so much potential for things to happen.
However, rather than dump a list of my personal hopes and dreams upon you, I have decided to choose one word (a trend which many other bloggers and news articles are following as well!) to guide me through the year. So, I have decided that my word for 2015 will be calm. I muddled the idea for one-word over quite a bit and my mind kept returning to calm, which I took as a sign. Except now that I type that word, I really hate how it looks. I keep thinking I typed "clam" which would just be really weird.
Anyways, I guess I will get used to it. I am hoping to find more moments of calm in my life and to bring calm when others need it. To approach life with a calmer attitude. To always be the calm and patient mama my kiddos deserve. So there you have it. Calm. Who couldn't use a little more calm in their life?   (......... I was almost going to type a "woot-woot" after that, but that wouldn't be very calming, would it?)
Have you picked one word for the new year? Would you share it here?

Wishing you all a wonderful (and calming) 2015!!

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