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!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Stone House Hike

This week the kids and I finally did the infamous Portland hike to the stone house (aka the witches house) in Forest Park. It's an easy 1.5 mile round trip hike along a creek, and aside from the trail being busy, it was a really wonderful hike.
The stone house was built as a public bathroom in the 1950's and was abandoned shortly after. Now there are rumors that it is haunted.... The building is covered with graffiti, but I guess, in a way, that is what makes it the unique place that it is.
We did not get any haunted vibes while we were there, but it looks like a ghost ran through one of my pictures...

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Yum

Over the weekend, the kids and I went to pick raspberries and blueberries. And man, did we come home with A LOT of blueberries. Most of them will be eaten fresh or frozen, as we are headed out of town soon, but that is A-OK. My kiddos love to eat frozen blueberries as a treat, so they are happy.
While picking, Phoebe ate about 10 berries for every one that she put in the bucket, but that's the best part, right? And..... we found a friend in one of the blueberry bushes! It surprised me at first-- you will find her picture below....

We froze some of the raspberries and the rest went into these muffins. I thought they were delicious. I have included my recipe below...

Raspberry-Chia-Cholcolate Chunk Muffins:


1 3/4 cups of flour (any kind will do)
1/2 cup sugar or your favorite sweetner
1 egg
3/4 cup milk or milk-ish product
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 cup chocolate chunks or chips
1/4 cup chia seeds

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin tins. Mix together egg, milk, oil and sugar. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Slowly mix in flour, salt and baking powder. After it is thoroughly mixed, add in chia seeds. Then fold in chocolate and raspberries.

Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350-F for about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool on rack.

These were a bit gooey with the raspberries, but they were yummy!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Yarn Along

Good morning! Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along . How is it already yarn along again? I feel like I just posted last week's. Man, this summer is simply flying by.

I am slowly working away at this sweater, which I am happily knitting for myself. I am almost done with the hood!  I keep thinking I will have all of this time to knit at night, but, my kiddos are seriously wearing me out (in a good way, of course!).

I am almost done reading The Beet Queen, one of the books from my summer reading list. It is a sort of wild book, with lots of black humor. It's all about people, and well-- how people can be pretty awful to each other. I am enjoying it, but I think I might have found it to be even more humorous if I had read it at a different point in my life.

However, by the time you read this, I may have already finished The Beet Queen, as I am writing this post a bit early. I am packing up and heading off for a ladies (kid-free) camping trip that includes a hot springs resort. The Beet Queen and Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House will be traveling along with me.

And are you ready for a funny(ish) story? Today I learned that if I shut my minivan trunk with the keys in it, it locks the car up. Which is what happened while I was packing my car for my camping trip. And after searching the house high and low for the spare, to no avail, I had to pay over $100 for a loacksmith to come and unlock my car. Wow. Shock on the sticker price. An expensive lesson learned. I am just happy I didn't do it while camping. I can't imagine how much that would have cost!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Cape Lookout

Last week, me and my kiddos went camping with another mama and her kiddos. We spent two nights on the Oregon Coast at Cape Lookout. The weather was amazing (which, if you know the Oregon Coast, is a very lucky thing) and we had such a great time. I am in love with the Oregon Coast. I don't think I could live there, as the dreary winters would be too much for my sun-loving body, but it is such an amazing place to visit. The kids spent hours playing on the beach and at the campsite, we did a quick hike to nearby Munson Falls, and we even got to watch a couple of whales who spent an entire day just offshore of the beach we were at. It was a perfect way to start summer break!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

National Safety Month

Happy Summer!  Bet you didn't know that it was National Safety Month, did you? Well, it is! And because of that, I just wanted to remind you of a couple of quick ways that you can make sure you and your family are living in a safe and healthy home.

Lead- homes built before 1980 may have lead in the paint and homes built between 1970 and 1985 could have lead sodder in the pipes, which can leak into your drinking water.  Lead can cause serious problems, especially in young kiddos. The only way to REALLY know if there is lead in your drinking water is to get it tested.. some cities (like Portland) will do that for you for free, so check and see if your city has a similar program. If you do find lead in your water, certain filtration systems can help to remove lead. Also, letting the water run for about 30 seconds before using it, and never using warm water for cooking can help get the lead out of your drinking water.

Asbestos- asbestos can be found in drywall and popcorn ceilings built before 1980 and can cause cancer and lung related problems. If you think you have asbestos in your home, you should have it professional evaluated and potentially removed.

All sorts of other chemicals can be released into your home when you use cleaning products, cook with teflon, bring dry cleaning into your home, bring home anything made of PVC, or bring home new furniture, sheets or products that contain fire retardants or formaldehyde. In short, lots of stuff you find in stores can be toxic for you health. So, research before you buy and buy products that are less toxic. Also, make sure to open doors and windows daily to air out your living space.

Lastly, be prepared. Have working fire extinguishers and know where they are stored. Be ready for whatever emergency could happen where you live. Here in Portland, we are at risk of a big earthquake, so at my house we have a couple of bins full of emergency supplies and food in our garage. Extra water on hand is great too.

So, have fun and be safe. If that doesn't want to make you do the safety dance, I don't know what will! And for those of you too young to know what the safety dance is-- you need to check out youtube.  I'm pretty sure that you will not be disappointed. Pin It Now!

Happy Solstice!

We are welcoming summer with open arms over here! Bring on the fun!
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Our June Garden

Our garden is changing so much every day. Winter squash vines magically reach out arms overnight,  the tomatoes seem to grow several inches in a day, and every morning new buds and flowers grace us with their presence.
Right now we are eating from the garden here and there, but mostly we are just waiting... the strawberries and snap peas are mostly gone, the spinach has bolted. But blueberries are almost ready and tomatoes aren't too far off.  The garlic is just about ready to be harvested (I think).  Zucchinis are growing and in just a few more days will be big enough to eat. The blackberries are just starting to turn pink.
And with a little more patience we will have two kinds of peppers (one hot, and one not), pumpkins, winter squash, pickling cucumbers, elderberries, potatoes, yellow plums and a whole lot of grapes.
Oh and crickets.. apparently we are good at growing those around here. How many can you spot in my photos?
How is your garden?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yarn Along

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

Although the warm weather hasn't been inspiring me to knit very much, I did manage to cast on and knit a wee bit of this sweater for myself. I would actually love to be able to wear it later in the summer, so I do have a little bit of motivation working in my favor.... Plus, I am just in love with this pattern.

I just started reading The Beet Queen, one of the books from my summer reading list and wow!--- that book surely starts off with a long series of depressing events. There has been some humor in it as well, but I do hope that the story becomes more upbeat..

I have been enjoying spending time on the back porch (which is covered and shady) reading in the evening after the kiddos head to bed. It stays light out so late now, and I love stealing moments to myself outside while there is still light.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Monday, June 15, 2015

My Favorite App....


OK people. I have a new favorite app. It's the Environmental Working Group's app called skin deep. At some point, I have mentioned their website, where you can go to find out how safe your personal care products are and can find safer alternatives to your current favorites. (Like sunscreen-- they currently have a list of the safest sunscreens on the market-- super handy!). I have been using their website for years, and love it. but...... I finally just downloaded their skin deep app and it is amazing. You just use the camera on your phone to scan a a product's bar code and up pop's their safety rating as well as a bunch of info on the product. Now, not every personal care product is in their bar code data base, but lots are, and if the bar code is not in there, you can still search by the product name. But, it is so very handy to have this with you while you are at the store shopping for a product-- you can just scan it in and see what the rating is. I am super excited and have already been using it to test all sort of things already in my home.
It's free. It's awesome. And no, I am not a paid sponsor. I just think their app is rad.

Do you have a favorite app?
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Saturday, June 13, 2015

On Life, Love and Change

I have some news to share. It feels a little bit weird sharing it here. A bit impersonal I guess. In fact, I haven't even told everyone in my "real" life yet because it just seems too overwhelming to call each one and too lame to just send a group email. But I think it will feel good to get it off my chest... and I hope it may facilitate some discussions, or provide a sense of community for others who are going through or have gone through a similar situation. And the more I put off announcing it, the more I feel like I am lying, or being fake, or just being a bit dishonest.
My husband and I are separating (and likely getting divorced). He moved out about 5 weeks ago. Things have been not-great for a few years, so I can't say that this was completely unexpected, but it certainly wasn't what I hoped my marriage would be when I got married 9 years ago.
Mostly, we just grew apart. Having kids changed us each in different ways. We started to value different things, and value one another less.
I will spare you (and me) the details, but I will say that I am sad in so many ways and for so many reasons. But, I will also say that I am trying to look on the positive side and see the opportunity that exists ahead of me. I know that I won't be sad forever and I feel lucky to have family and friends to support me on this journey.
I also feel lucky that, so far, things are very amicable between us. We are still in touch daily, having family dinners once a week, and even have a couple of family trips planned for the summer. We were friends for 9 years before we started dating, and we are hoping that even though we aren't suited as a couple, we can re-find that friendship and at least give the kids a lot of time together with both parents. Above anything else, we are still a family.. married or not... we created a family together and a family we will always be.
The kids are handling it fairly well. Finn, who has an anxiety disorder, was the one who we expected to have the most difficulty. But, really, he is doing better than I would ever have expected. Phoebe has been the one who has cried more, become dramatic, and lashed out in some ways. But, she is four and really doesn't understand what is happening. I think I am the most emotionally overwhelmed. I am trying to channel that energy into good paths, like yoga, exercise and meditation, but I have found that I sometimes snap at the kids too easily, or let them have a little extra screen time because I am just emotionally drained and don't have the energy to play with them the way I should. I think it will take me a while to get this all sorted out (in my brain) and hopefully those around me can be a little bit patient while I am faltering (sorry kiddos).
It all still seems a bit surreal, and I sometimes wonder if it will ever seem like reality. I keep asking myself "how did we let this happen", but in the end, no one has an answer.
It's sad. I am sad. I am so sad for my kids who, for the rest of their lives, will have to shuttle back and forth between houses. This is never what I wanted for them, but I hope they will still manage to thrive.
And (when I am in a positive mood) I sometimes think that this is all for the best. Hopefully we will all (eventually) be happier in our new situation, although I think it will take a bit of time. There will be hurdles and rough patches, of that I am sure. But whatever happens, my children will know that they have two parents who each love them very, very much. To the moon and back. And then again.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

My Summer 2015 Reading List

I am officially done with teaching for the summer! Sometimes, I feel like a kid, so excited for summer break. But it IS exciting. Woo-hoo!!!... I love the feeling of less responsibility---not having to check work email every day, no grading, no making sure I am prepared. Don't get me wrong--I love teaching and I love my job and feel so lucky to have it, but I also feel really lucky to have a break from the grind. A break to spend more time with my kids, to travel and camp, and to have just a little bit less responsibility. My overactive brain needs it.
 Every year, around this time, I put together my summer reading list. I never make it through all the books on my list (although I usually do make it through most), but I still enjoy setting goals and having a list of books my brain can focus on when it isn't focused on teaching. And who knows? Maybe one year (this year?!?) I will actually tackle all of the books on my list.
My biggest problem is that I still think about summer in the same way I did as a kid.... having nothing but TIME on your hands. Lazy days just asking to be filled. However, now that my kids will be out of school, time is really the last thing I will have.. There probably won't be much lazing. But, now that both kids are a little bit older, and Finn is reading like a champ, maybe there will be more mandated quiet reading times where I can read too.
Anyways, time or not, here are the 10 books I am hoping to read this summer. A couple are repeat offenders that I never made it through in years past. A few are new books that I am really looking forward to getting my hands on.  And a couple have been on my to-read list for many years. So, without further ado, I present my summer reading list to you!








Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

A Short History of Nearly Everything 


Do you make a summer reading list? If so, what is on it for this year?!?
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yarn Along

Well, hello! Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

It's been really hot here. The kind of hot that doesn't inspire much knitting. I did finish up another slouchy hat (for me!). I love the colors. I still need to add buttons, but that can come later. The kids and I are going camping next week at the coast, so I may actually have a chance to wear it (although with 90-degree weather here, it just doesn't seem possible!). I tried to take a picture of me wearing it this morning, but my eyes are still too tired-looking. I need more coffee!! Photo to come soon.....

I am just about to start this sweater for myself. I am a little hesitant about what size I should make..but I can't wait to knit this one up. I can already think of several places I want to wear it!!

In the reading world, I am trying to finish up Tender Morsels, a very strange book. I am not even sure how to explain it to you, so I won't.  It's very magical and imaginative, and at times, confusing.  It does have a sweet, endearing aspect to it though, which makes me want to read on. I am thinking that at the end, somehow it will all make more sense?

And, since it is almost summer, I will be posting my summer reading list soon! I can't wait!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Monday, June 8, 2015

A Day at the Beach: In Pictures

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