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, August 31, 2015

Gratitude Sunday, on Monday

Posting this a day late, as our internet has been out all weekend....

As part of my 38 project, I am going to keep a weekly gratitude journal. In the past, I have tried to do nightly journals, but it just isn't feasible for me, and I always fail. I am hoping that this weekly rhythm will work better for me. Plus, I can use this space to share them with you all.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Antibiotics. After catching a terrible cough from my kiddos at the beginning of July, and still having it at the end of August, I was finally diagnosed with walking pneumonia and pleurisy. I am now on a course of antibiotics and I think my symptoms are finally starting to improve. I am all for healing herbs and natural remedies, but sometimes western medicine does wonders. Our dog, Moshi, is on antibiotics right now as well.... after wetting my bed several times last week, she was diagnosed with a UTI on Saturday. Poor girl.
  • The rain! It finally rained here and more is expected this week. Hoping this will help with the 37+ large fires that we currently have here in Oregon and Washington. 
  • Purging and de-cluttering my life. This week Todd and I cleaned up the back yard. We put our duck house on craiglist (and it was snagged up!) and trashed all of the things in the yard that were broken and beyond repair. I have also been going through storage boxes in the garage-- we had a little mouse move in behind the dryer (I found the nest a few weeks go, which was quite the clean-up process--- and our house is still not fully mouse-proof-- even with 3 cats!). But this mouse (or maybe mice) has managed to leave little tiny poops everywhere..... if it is not in a storage container with a locking lid, there is probably a mouse poop in there. So, as I am going through and cleaning, I am also purging and re-organizing. The whole process is slow going, so I think I will be at it a while, but it feels really good to purge. I have already taken a huge trunk load to Goodwill. I am ready to simplify!
What have you been grateful for this week?

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

My 38

38 has been an important number in my life for a long time. It's sort of a long story, and not really worth going into detail about, but long story short--- among some of my friends, the number 38 has become a good luck symbol of sorts. So, for many years I always thought that the year that I was 38 would be filled with good things. And now that I am going through a divorce... well, I really need to believe that good things will happen to me this year....
A few months ago I decided that instead of doing a bucket list of things to do before I turn 40, like a lot of folks do, I decided to make a bucket list of 38 new and awesome things that I want to do while I am 38. So, for several months I have been thinking... thinking about what I want to do, thinking about what is actually realistic given my current situation, and thinking about what things would truly make me happy and bring balance to this new life of mine. And I came up with a list that I am pretty happy with. A few things on my list are a wee bit crazy, but I am also starting a new chapter of my life, and I think that deserves a few (happy) changes to mark that. A few things are slightly more mundane, because not every day can be filled with crazy adventures....
So today, the day that begins my year of being 38, I would love to share my bucket list with you. Because for one, why not? and for another, I hope it will hold me a little bit accountable. What's a bucket list if you don't try and do it, right? I plan on updating my list as I complete my challenges. And I would love any advice you may have!

My 38 While 38 Bucket List:

1. Get a tattoo. This one has been a long time coming. I have wanted one for years, but never knew exactly what I wanted or who I should have do it. And then over the past year my ideas solidified and things have started to fall into place. So, why not? I think it will be awesome.
Done! I finally have an octopus tattoo. And, to make it even better, it was done by a friend, so it is extra special. Octopus are amazing creatures, incredibly smart and adaptable. And they symbolize a whole lot of cool stuff, like regrowth and renewal. 

2. Hike the lava tubes at Mt. St. Helens. This is one that needs to be done in the summer months, so I will have to wait until next summer. But this place is supposed to be amazing!
Done! Although there are two different hikes up there and I only did the shorter one. The longer one involves crawling on your belly a few times.... I would actually like to try and do it some day, but I am a bit claustrophobic and think I need to work up to it. 

3. Run a 10k. I have run many 5ks, but never a 10k. Hoping to run a 1/2 marathon one day, so this is my warm up.
I did it! My friend and I ran the Run Like Hell 10k in Portland in October. We did the 5k back in 2014, so we knew it was a fun run. Each year there is a theme, and everyone dresses up. This year was "Under the Big Top". You can sort of see our tiny top hats in the photo.... we also wore tutus and striped knee highs.
I injured my foot about 2.5 weeks before the run, and was told to stay off it as much as possible. I wasn't sure that I would be able to run, but I healed enough in time to do it- thankfully, as I was really looking forward to this run. However, coming off of an injury, I took it very slow-- and since I hadn't run at all in over 2 weeks, I was still very sore for two days afterwards.

4. See the Painted Hills of Oregon. It's one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. Bet you didn't know that there were 7 Wonders of Oregon, did you?
Done! They are amazing! You can see full details in this post. But, just because they are so beautiful, I will dazzle you right now.

5. Sew myself a dress. I have actually sewn dresses for myself, but they were smock-like dresses from my very hippie days. I want to sew myself a nice fitted dress, maybe even with a zipper. Oooh-la-la.

6. Learn to Play Chess. Again, I used to know how to play chess, when I was like 7, but can't remember. I think it's just something that one should know? Plus, I think Finn would love it and I want to teach him.

7. Learn to identify the native plants in my Oregon Native Plant Guide. I already know some, but as a plant lover, I think I should know them all.

8. Make a lemon cheesecake. Yum.
I made one for myself for my birthday! I guess it was a hit as the kids have been asking me to make another. I used this recipe.


9. Draw portraits of my kids. I took a drawing class once, in college. I haven't done much drawing since, but I wanted to give it another shot. And what better to draw than the two cutest things on the planet!

10. Read War and Peace. Just because.
Done! It was great, The war parts were long and tedious, but the peace parts were one of the best love stories of all times. I have no clue why it took me so long to get through that, but I am glad to have read it.  

11. Yarn Bomb Something. It's the old person version of a graffiti tag.
I did it! I yarn bombed my plum tree. I love it, but my neighbors may think I am crazy. I think I will add more little sweaters over time. Fun! 

12. Knit two pillow covers. My couch could use a couple more pillows and my house needs some more creative flair!

13. Go to the Olympic Peninsula. Again, this will have to be next spring or summer because I want to go when there is a chance of nice weather. I can't believe I haven't been up there yet.
The kids and I spent 3 nights camping in Olympic National Park. It was amazing. We only saw the western part of the park... the park is so big that a visit to the northeastern section would have added about 6 hours onto our driving time, so I decided we would save that for next summer. I was blown away by the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula though. Here is one of my favorite pictures, but I will soon do a post for this trip....

14. Learn to do a headstand. That will reverse aging, right?
I got it down! Next, on to handstands......

15. Watch the whole Twin Peaks series. I missed out on watching this when I was a kid and I think it's right up my alley.
Done! I even watched the movie that came a couple of years after the t.v. show ended, Fire Walk With Me. The series was great, and weird... typical David Lynch. And I just heard a rumor that they might be bringing Twin Peaks back for a new round.....

16. Learn to make 3 fantastic cocktails. I usually just drink wine, but it seems like some fancy cocktail knowledge would be a good tool to have in my tool box.
First one is this grapefruit-ginger Bourbon sour. It is delicious! I started making this one in the winter, but it will be a perfect summer drink. However, I have been making my simple syrup with brown sugar (I think it gives it a richer taste with the Bourbon), and I have also been using powdered ginger instead of fresh. I didn't think the fresh ginger infused simple syrup was gingery enough. 

Next up is this cucumber margarita....a delicious variation on an old favorite of mine... To make cucumber-infused tequila, simply slice cucumbers and put in a jar. Cover completely with tequila (no cucs poking out!), cover with a lid, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Using chili-salt on the rim upgrades this to a pretty awesome cocktail.

Next is this red beet rye cocktail. This one is unlike anything I have ever tasted. It is spicy, earthy and vinegary all at once. It took me a few sips to decide if I liked it or not, but in the end, I decided it was a keeper. Be forewarned that this one needs some prep time... you have to make the shrub a few days in advance!

17. Learn 10 constellations. I already know a few basic ones, but want to learn 10 new ones. The sky and solar system are fascinating, in a weird and crazy way, and I think I should get to know it a little bit better.

18. Enter a photo contest. As you guys know, I love to take pictures. Maybe this will be the motivation I need to take a few really awesome pictures this year.
I did it! I took Tracey's advice and submited through, which was super easy and low pressure. I am hoping to continue to submit to guru on a regular basis.... and maybe also try and find some other, possible local contests to submit to as well.

19. Take an herb class. I want to learn more about the medicinal uses of herbs.
Done! It was great. I actually enjoyed it so much that I signed up for the second course for winter term. And the thirds course for spring term!!

20. See a new band. This is something I generally do by default almost every year, more than once, because I love to see live music. However, this year in particular, I feel like I am really trying to expand my horizons, to be open to new everything, and music is a good place to start.
Done! I saw Spirit Family Reunion at the Doug Fir Lounge. They were amazing! So much energy, and well... spirit! They are foot-stomping indie-americana-bluegrass, and so much fun. If they come near you, go check them out. 

Other new bands I have seen this 39th year of my life include: Cedar Teeth, Bob Moses, Macy Gray,

21. Make my kids photo albums from their baby years. Ugh. I am sort of dreading this one, but I really want to make it happen. I have thousands of photos from my kids younger years. And they are all on external hard drives and no one ever looks at them. So, I want to make an online photo book that I can get printed for each of my kids with the best pictures and memories of their first few years of life. If it goes well, maybe I will try and keep up with them as they grow.....

22. Keep a gratitude journal, for real this time. I have always failed at this. This time my goal is to just write at least once a week instead of every night. I think, for me, that is more manageable.

23. Submit a short story. Somewhere. About something. Clearly I haven't thought about this one much yet.

24. Photograph Crater Lake. Because it is beautiful and I haven't yet been there on a clear day.
OK, so the day was still not clear, but I could actually see the lake this time. Even on a cloudy day, the views are spectacular. 

25. Watch the sun rise somewhere special. Because it is a perfect reminder of how lucky we are that we have this Earth and our sun and the perfect conditions that allow us to live.
I think that watching the sun rise over Black Rock City with my best friend in the world should count for this one. 

26. Learn Fleetwood Mac's Landslide and the Wood Brothers Luckiest Man on guitar. I play my guitar only randomly and never get better. It's time to step it up. Or at least be able to play a couple of songs really well.

27. Acquire a new piece of art. Because I am a grown up and I like art so I should have more on my walls.
Done! I found an octopus print on etsy and I am in love.

28. Dance in the rain. Because why not?
This was easy, and also very gratifying. I got Phoebe to dance with me, on one of our first heavy fall rains. It was still warm enough outside to be a pleasant experience, and it was a definite mood booster. This will be on my list of things to do more often!

29. Hand make all of my holiday gifts, except for a handful for each of my kids. As hard as I have tried, I just can't seem to make hand-made Legos that work.
OK, so this one I sort of did..... I gave only hand-made items to everyone on my list, except for my kids. However, my kids are getting more than a handful of store-bought gifts this Christmas. I did make stuff for both of them (more for Phoebe), but Finn is just at an age where he doesn't really want anything that I can make for him. He wants Legos and books and laser tag sets. And, these kids have been through a lot this past year.... 
Below are some of the things that I made. The stuffed animal sleeping bag idea came from this blog, and I loosely followed her instructions (note: I did NOT make the doll or sloth stuffie pictured below!). The super-hero playmat was based upon an amalgamation of ideas that I saw on pinterest. And yeah, my kids got a bunch of stuff that I didn't make too. But at least I kept t hand made for everyone else. I'll consider it a goal mostly accomplished.

30. See Thor's Well. This place looks insane. I have never been, but when I do, I promise I will share pictures.
It is amazing! I was with my kids, so we didn't get too close. My photos can't do this justice....

31. Get my nose pierced. Read the part above about this being a new chapter of my life and me needing to make some physical changes.
Done! I brought my mom along as team support when she was visiting in September!


32. Take my kids to a drive-in movie. I have such great memories of going when I was a kid, but have never taken mine. There is one about 40 minutes from us, so why not?!?
The 99W Drive-In in Newberg, Oregon (about 45 minutes away from us) played Hotel Transylvania 2 in October. The kids were eager to see it, and it actually got dark early enough that it was reasonable to go. I let the kids sit in the front seats, and, well... they thought they were pretty cool.


33. Sign up for a volunteer project or event with my kids. I think this is a great life lesson for them.
The kids and I pulled invasive weeds for No Ivy Day in Portland. Our site didn't actually have much ivy, but it did have lots of deadly nightshade. It was quick and easy to pull which made it a good activity for the kids....
Until someone kicked a hornets nest and made them angry and a few people were stung. The kids and I were fine, but it did make the kids a bit anxious and ready to go home.
It was really awesome to take them to volunteer with other people-- we have done volunteer work as a family before, but never in a group with strangers. Both of my kids were chatting adults up and making new friends. 
And even though they were very ready to leave and be away from the hornets, I think that they were also proud for having done something important. I am hoping to make this more of a regular routine around here!

In November, the kids and I signed up for another volunteer project bagging up clothes for children in need. It wasn't the most exciting work, and my kids were super-whiney the entire time. It made me realize that this sort of work needs to become a regular part of their routine..... More updates to come, I think. 
In January, we did some invasive weed removal with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council. 
In April, Phoebe and I did some Earth Day trash removal at Kelly Point Park.

34. Do a photo booth photo shoot with me and my kids. I have actually done this one before,  but never with just my kids... there has always been other people too. So just me and the kids. And a lot of love.
Done. Except the photos came out terrible. Way too much contrast. Hoping I can give this one a re-do before I turn 39.... 

OK, re-do is done! Here it is:

35. Read 38 books. Something on this list had to have 38 in it!
 - Trigger Warning, Neil Gaimann
 - In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
 - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,  Dave Eggers
 - Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin
 - The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
 - Mrs. Frisby and the Rates of Nimh by Robert O'Brien
 - The Twits by Roald Dahl
 - Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
 - Hands-Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better and Loving More by    Rachel Macy Stafford
 - The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson
 - Crossed by Ally Condie
 - The Witches by Roald Dahl
 - Reached by Ally Condie
 - Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
 - Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
 - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
 - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
 - The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith
 - Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
 - The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter by Colin Tudge
 - Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
 - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
 - The Human Age by Diane Ackerman
- The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
- The Global Warming Reader edited by Bill McKibbon
- The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith
- Wonder by RJ Palacio
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
- The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
- You Are A Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by Jen Sincero
- The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

36. Re-start my vinyl collection. It has been years since I have purchased an album, and now that I have a working record player, I think its about time!
OK, it's back on. Phoebe and I went to the record store and came home with David Bowie's Diamond Dogs and Madonna's Like A Virgin. Both classics, and both used.  

37. Be able to run a 9 minute mile. Hopefully 3 of them in a row. (Yes, I am currently pretty slow)
OK, as of February 4th, I did it. I ran a 9 minute mile. Still working on this one though, because I want to be able to run three miles at that pace!
As of June 28th, I am able to do 2 9 minute miles in a row... getting closer. 

38. Hike the hobbit trails. It's supposed to be a fun little trail to the beach on the coast of Oregon that for whatever reason I just haven't managed to do yet.
Done! The hike was sweet, and Hobbit Beach was breathtaking! 

And there you have it. My wild (and not so wild) adventures of the next year. Here's to life, love and happiness... and 38 times around the sun! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yarn Along

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

I am frantically working on my vest as I "need" to have it done by next Monday. The  knitting itself is quick because it is chunky yarn on big needles, but the pattern is fairly tedious, as each row is different... so I have to really pay attention (which is not my forte). And so I end up only knitting for 20 minutes or so and losing interest. But I really want to have this done by Monday, and I am pretty determined to finish.

I am continuing to read The Water Knife. It took a bit for m to get into the story... there are several story lines initially, and it is a bit confusing to keep track of it all. But it is starting to get really good now and I am eager to keep on reading.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Sunday, August 23, 2015


Happy Sunday! Hope you are all having a great weekend. Thought I would check in and share some gratitudes with you....

This week I have felt grateful for:

  • The internet. Sure, it is a huge time-suck, but it makes so many aspects of life so much easier: finding recipes, answering questions, communicating. Last Monday I had to replace the ducting on my dryer (I have been battling a mouse who ate through my aluminum duct!). Replacing ducting is not as easy as you would think-- you don't just remove the clamp, switch it out, and replace the clamp as I originally thought. You first have to prepare the ducting by rolling it out and snipping the edge.. or else it will never fit. However, I didn't know this until I struggled with the ducting for about 30 minutes. Finally, at Finn's suggestion,  I decide to watch a youtube video. Withing 5 minutes, my ducting was replaced. Sweet!
  • My pets. There is nothing like being greeted with wags and kisses, even after you only went into the front yard. Unconditional love to the max.
  • The ceramic class I have been taking for the past 7 months. I am still not very good, but let's say that it has been very cheap therapy!
  • My mom. She is my free therapy. I call her almost every day. Usually more than once (sorry mom!)
  • An outdoor space. As a city dweller, I truly appreciate my small plot of land on which I can dig, plant, harvest, dance and relax. Even though my yard is small, It is mine to use as I wish, and I love that.
Enjoy the week to come! 

Joining in with the other Taryn from Wooly Moss Roots
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Friday, August 21, 2015

From the Garden

The garden is becoming happier. Our 90+ degree days are still happening, but becoming fewer, and the plants have been thankful. The squash plants are making another round of fruits, which should be able to mature as long as our September doesn't turn cold and wet. Our grapevine is bursting with fruit and our tomatoes seem to have overcome their problem with blossom end rot. All in all, things are good.

How is your garden?
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