Love in a time of Pokemon

wattle || cityhippyfarmgirllove || cityhippyfarmgirl pokemon || cityhippyfarmgirl

I recently listened to a podcast with Alain De Botton on the topic of love. The first time I was interrupted 26 times before it came to the end. A concoction of three children and a mischievous whippet was the source of the interruptions.

Despite the stopping and starting, I didn’t turn it off.

I couldn’t turn it off.

The conversation was fascinating and I knew I would be listening to it a second time, if only to hear the lines I had missed the first time in their entirety. (I did listen again and was happy that I had. )

Alain de Botton’s way of describing our culture of romanticism, and also why you should be upfront with your own fault’s from the beginning of a relationship was quite wonderful to hear.

So is there magic in some people’s relationships? Or is it an incredible amount of work, effort and kindness that creates this thing called love of which isn’t made by two perfect single creatures with an ambition to live happily ever after.

Alains’ words had me musing for far longer than the podcast, that’s for sure.

[The conversation with Richard Fidler can be found here. Or the rather condensed version of what he talks about in his book, found here.]

But what does Pokemon have to do with love I hear you ask?

Well, over time my small people have spent many happy years with heart eyes for Pokemon. With the eldest two being marginally obsessed, the third was drawn in almost by osmosis by her older siblings. Pokemon, of course she shall LOVE it! they cried.

At the announcement of Pokemon Go, the small-sized ones pricked up their ears and declared…awwwwwesome. Can we get it on your phone Mama?

Nope, not a chance, I said without barely raising my head.

At least I didn’t really disappoint them there, they really didn’t think there was a chance at all of me actually saying yes to that, but it’s always worth a crack eh kids? And yes I still love you all, even though we aren’t getting it.

They then moved pretty swiftly straight on to the kids they knew with their own phones and the crucial app. Straight after school there is a small beeline as kids begin charging around pointing phones in trees. Hastily mumbled hellos to waiting parents and conversations continue, spoken in the garbled tongue of Pokemon.

I recently (happily) caught a conversation between two arborists up a 20 metre tree. With me unintentionally listening in on what started out as some typical tradey talk between two up-a-gumtree fellas and ending in talk of Pokemon Go, strategies on playing and the Pokémon they had managed to happily capture the night before.

I couldn’t stifle the laughing longer than a minute so had to come on inside, where my attention was instantly brought back to that mischievous whippet. All I had to do was follow the trail of chewed objects, she’d lovingly left out for me.

Luckily for me, as I picked through the wreckage of my lounge room, I already knew that any relationship was built on a fair amount of work, effort and kindness. Whether that be with the man I’ve chosen to create a family with, my three Pokemon loving children or that mischief-making whippet. Which I think, keeps things far more interesting than any happily ever after that Disney or Hollywood would have you believe.

Best flowers to grow for you and your bees

flower 4 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 5 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Looking around my garden, while it certainly wasn’t a total sea of blooms and wildflowers, for a garden that was 7 months young it had a decent selection of flowers both for us and our local bees. I was actually pretty happy with how it was all shaping up. Some flowers had come and gone, some flowers were still to be planted when spring officially raised her head again, and somethings had been there since we began.

When we had first started ripping up agapanthus and gardenias (which is what this garden had solely had before us; alongside grass and crap soil) I had vehemently said, we shall not grow anything that doesn’t serve an eating purpose and is useful! While I still stand by that statement, I have added a little bit more flexibility to it. Kangaroo Paw and and Daisies have earned their positions in the sun and while we don’t eat them, they look gorgeous and are a great addition for our bees to choose from.

For the bees and other local beneficial pollinators my wild plans of having a year round selection of changing seasonal foraging options… well it’s actually shaping up quite well.

Here’s a list of some bee friendly (whether they are native stingless, solitary or honey bee) plants that have made their way into the garden or will be in the next month or so.

flower 9 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Alyssum– sweet scented, great for a ground cover.

Borage– you can also eat the slightly spiky leaves, just finely chop them first. Edible flowers, great for decorating and salads.

Blueberries– Hopefully they’ll turn into blueberries at some stage, they do seem to have a long flower stage, (this is their first year out of pots.)

flower 12 || cityhippyfarmgirlflower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Calendula– Not on the excellent end of the colour chart for bees but it has many other uses so I’d be mad not to include it.

Clover– Tiny soft scented flowers, loved by bees and adored by small hands.

Comfrey– It’s been lying fairly dormant in a corner of the yard, biding time for warmer weather ((I hope!) A good soil conditioner, great for compost and a medicinal plant.

Cornflower– Not yet planted but the seeds are ready to go, come warmer weather. Plant too early and the seeds won’t germinate in the cold wet soil.

cosmos || cityhippyfarmgirl

Cosmos– these were such a joy over the warmer months, with so many flowers coming from a single plant. They also gave great shade to some of the more delicate vegetables.

Daisy– and oldy but a goody, and I can pretty much completely ignore them in terms of maintenance.

Dandelion– They grant wishes, don’t really make you wet the bed and are a super simple flower addition to your bee flowers.

Kangaroo Paw– a gorgeous Australian native that doesn’t require much attention at all.

Lavender– They happily sit in my “Mediterranean Corner”, sounds far more exotic than the dry corner where it cops the most sun.

Lupins– great green manure crop, where I was supposed to cut them down before they got to flower stage…nah, just couldn’t do it. I loved seeing bees on the flowers.

Marigold– again not at the good end of flower colour chart but still a favourite and easy to generate more seedlings, so they are here to stay.

Nasturtium– Good ground cover, will climb if you train it up and flowers look lovely for food decorating.

Rocket– My first rocket crop was a failure due to rubbish soil, I’ve learnt from it, can now grow great rocket and have let the rubbish crop go to flower so still creates a garden benefit.

Sunflowers– I haven’t planted these beauties yet as still a bit cool, but the seeds are good to go and I’m just a little bit excited about have 2.5 metre flowers within my garden.

Thai Basil and Holy Basil– I’ve got patches of both, and while not quite at the large bush stage, they are looking promising.

Yarrow– this beauty is doing wonderfully well, conditioning my soil, providing seasonal flowers and is a great medicinal garden addition.

Zinnia– currently not flowering due to winter but summer gave a wonderful crop which helped with shading some of my more vulnerable vegetables during the middle of the day heat. They were also remarkably easy to generate more seedlings with the dried flower heads.

flower 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

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If you are creating your own bee flower garden, do keep in mind, they can see the purple/blue coloured flowers the best, with red flowers being at the end of their scale. I’d say skip the red roses this year and head for the borage!

What plants do grow for the benefit of both you and your bees?

For more reading on bees and their colour preferences see here

 

 

 

Spinach and Fetta Bread

Spinach and Fetta Bread 01 || cityhippyfarmgirl

While two of my children gagged their way through dinner, the other one couldn’t get the second, third, fourth slice in fast enough. The problem and in equal measures, the highlight of the bread, was the spinach.

Spinach is one of those vegetables that seem to be hated by many and adored by all others. I think spinach is delicious and and will happily eat it in any form given to me. In a bread, you’ve got the benefit of a vegetable hidden (or not so much) in a high carbohydrate baked good, where you can’t go wrong really.

(Although two round here would contest that.)

So while I showered my spinach eating child in heart eyes, deep seated love and adoration, I loaded up his plate with slice after slice of green infused bread goodness.

I ignored my other two who continued to gag their way through the meal, feigning food poisoning, swallowing inability and general parental wickedness at even placing such a thing on our family table.

I instead focussed on the crusty sided outside of the loaf. The soft inner crumb, the subtle taste of the spinach and fetta infused throughout and the slappings of cultured butter to bring it all together.

As sunk my teeth in, I mumbled that I might make another one tomorrow.

Predictably this was met with a one sided cheer and two tragic noisy wails worthy of oscar nominations…luckily for me I’m well practised at ignoring misguided spinach wails.

Spinach and Fetta Bread 02 || cityhippyfarmgirlSpinach and Fetta Bread 03 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Spinach and Fetta Bread

2 tsp dried yeast

5 cups (750g) strong bread flour

600mls tepid water

2 tsp salt

200g fetta

1 bunch of finely chopped spinach or rainbow chard

In a large bowl mix through your yeast, flour and water, with a spoon then cover bowl and leave for 20 minutes. Then add salt, spinach and fetta, turn dough out on to bench and knead dough until it comes together. It’s a bit of a messy one with the spinach and fetta, but the dough will start to feel smooth and more elastic.

Pop the dough back in to the mixing bowl and cover for about an hour or until roughly doubled in size.

Fold the dough over once, and then proof again.

Dough out on to the bench and gently shape into a round, laying it on a baking tray. Rub a little extra flour on the top and leave to proof again until roughly doubly in size.

Score the dough just before it goes in the oven and bake with steam at 230C.

 

 

Focus… on just one thing

cityhippyfarmgirl.com

Outside it’s blowing a gale. The sun shines bright through the windows and if I wasn’t paying close attention I’d think it was a perfectly lovely regular sunny day out there. Watching the eucalypts bend in the wind, tell me instead it’s a day with mixed feelings.

I get that.

Jumbled thoughts and distracted actions, I’m certainly no stranger here. It seems this week is one of those times. Time to pare it back a little, concentrate on one thing at a time instead of adding more and more to the circus show.

So how am I doing that? I’m dropping in little things that make the heart sing into the everyday, where I know the exhaled breath will be taken back and might be, (hopefully) just a little longer…instead of being unknowingly held.

I’m reading ‘Optimism’ by Bob Brown. What an incredible man, he can come round for dinner any time.

Singing along to Paul Dempsey, because he is awesome, (and equally encouraged to drop round for dinner any time.)

Swapping eggs and lemons for Lemon and Olive Oil Cake with my neighbours. Bonus chats over the back fence, always included.

Stopping in the winter sun, looking out to the water, grounding myself, and taking a minute just to focus on the one thing.

Because that stuff right there?

Yeah, it’s important.

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How are you travelling? If this post reminds just one person to take a minute to stop, breathe and practise a little mindfulness for a minute or too, I’m happy with that.

Also try here for an interesting read on the Japanese method of self reflection: Naikan

 

 

 

 

 

For the love of bees

Native Stingless Bees Australia || cityhippyfarmgirlNative Stingless Bees || cityhippyfarmgirl

I hadn’t seen the bees for awhile now. It being winter and actually feeling like winter, I’m like a concerned parent. Silently hoping for a day over 18 degrees, just so I can check in on them all, make sure the hive is ok. A reassuring healthy buzzing bee off on a foraging trip, that’s all I need to see.

That day comes, it’s warm, it’s crazy warm and the first thing I do after ripping my too hot woollen scarf draped around my neck is scamper up the hillside (err, slight slope in the very urban backyard but who’s paying attention to those details) to see if the bees are out. They are! My little native stingless friends are out and about and there is rather a lot of them.

In summer, first thing in the morning. I can sit outside, close my eyes, and hear a bunch of different bees and other pollinators amongst the tomato flowers. Opening my eyes I would often find a variety of different bees crowding a flower peppered plumbago. The hedge really should have been pruned back long ago but I can’t seem to do it with so many bees sourcing their daily foraging needs within the blue flower buds. It would feel a bit mean.

Ever since I did a Native Stingless Bee course, bees have been a constant source of intrigue and curiosity. Not just the native stingless ones, but the whole lot of them. European honey bees, solitary bees, they really are incredibly interesting creatures.

Gina Cranson

I adore this poster by Gina Cranson. Copies of the poster can be bought through a variety of places, but you can start with her Etsy site if you are keen, (there also now available QLD versions). One of these posters sits above my desk- learning the different types just by glancing at the pictures several times a day.

When we lived in Sydney, I had organised for our local council to fund some native stingless bee hives to set up residence within the school grounds. There were 3 when we left which opens up the possibilities for either splitting the hives and passing another on to another school or harvesting the honey. Either way it’s a wonderful lesson for school kids, and I’m hoping to do the same here at our new school.

Another option for bee lovers is to host a honey bee hive. Not technically yours for keeps, but a wonderful alternative, which gives a pollinated garden and proportion of the honey as a trade off. It’s a winning system I tell you.

insect hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

More reading and information for all the bee enthusiasts out there

Earth Garden magazine frequently writes on a variety of our wonderful bees.

Awhile back I wrote about how to create your own Insect Hotel, over on Milkwood.

Tim Heard is the Native Stingless Bee master with his book The Australian Bee Book, (he also does frequent talks and workshops up and down the East Coast of Australia several times a year.)

Urban Hum hosts hives if you are in Newcastle, NSW.

Doug Purdie from The Urban Beehive, has you covered for all things honey bee related.

 

 

Seven kinds of lovely

Hunter Valley 6 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 5 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hunter Valley 2 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 7 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 4 || cityhippyfarmgirl

It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s lovely… Seven kinds of lovely.

Lovely big quiet spaces to explore

Lovely log fires to practise fire making skills

Lovely misty mornings

Lovely smokin’ hot tea

Lovely little towns to walk to for coffee

Lovely visiting dogs

Lovely little family break.

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Hope your tea is hot and your toes are warm this week people.

Also, thank you so much to all the lovely kind people who dropped in and said hello in my last past. It was really wonderful seeing all the comments trickle in from long term commenters, to people who had often lurked in the shadows and commented before. Thank you!

 

Connecting with community

connecting with community || cityhippyfarmgirlconnecting with community 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlconnecting with community 2 || Brydie Piaf

Some times having a blog can feel a bit like having a one sided conversation with yourself. You know when you see someone standing in the corner, just quietly having a chat to themselves? Yep, that can often be how blogging feels. All a little one sided. Not today though, not this post. Nuh uh.

Today it’s about you the reader, the visitor, the lurker and the person who accidentally dropped in when they searched for emedia piano and keyboard method, (sorry, I have no idea what that is either.)

For this post, I’d love you to tell me something about you. What you ate for breakfast, what’s growing in the garden, how you trained your cat to dance cartwheels before bed time, the best way to slaughter a chicken, your Grandma’s favourite pre-dinner cocktail, what annoyed you on Tuesday. Anything, honestly I’d love to know, (adult conversations have been a bit low on the ground lately.)

To make it slightly easier, I’ll start off…

Hello there, I’m Brydie. This is my space where I waffle on quite a bit about things that are important to me, things that come to mind and things that I like to take pictures of. While mostly I do it for me, I also do it for the connection that it gives me to other like minded souls who sometimes drop in. Like you, the lovely readers, visitors, lurkers and the odd dissatisfied but still hopeful emedia piano person.

I like knitted socks on my feet in winter, looped scarves any time of year, home-made sourdough cut in thick slabs, whippet snuggles, steaming chai in the morning, permaculture inspired gardens, reading books that make your heart grow big and conversations that make you think in ways you haven’t thought before.

Teas hot, scones are warm, and talk is open to all topics.

Hello🙂

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Scone recipe here, from back in the early days of blogging, recipe is still good to go, just excuse the very average photos.

 

Kangaroo Pie

kangaroo pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s labelled as ethical, sustainable, lean and a great substitute for other more popular red meats, but is eating kangaroo really something that Australian’s should be embracing further, (and will kangaroo pie be the thing that gets us there?)

The first few times I tried kangaroo, my taste buds were so traumatised that I didn’t touch the stuff for another 9 years. Not being a huge meat eater to begin with, it can be quite gamey and a bit of a strong taste. While great slabs of meat on my dinner plate is never going to happen, I thought I should revisit the eating of kangaroo and see if I couldn’t do it a little differently.

The results I’m happy to say, were far more satisfactory, this time round.

Now why did I bother revisiting the eating of our national icon? Well, because it ticks quite a few of the ethical and sustainable meat boxes that many others in the commercial meat industry simply don’t. While there are still issues that also surround this industry, to me (at this stage) it comes out ahead when you weigh it up against some of the other everyday meaty kinds.

A snapshot of eating kangaroo.

  • It’s a lean read meat.
  • It’s wild
  • Environmentally, kangaroos have a much smaller footprint than a cow or sheep
  • Farm free, (remember it’s wild)
  • Harvested in the wild as well, not trucked to slaughter
  • Dependent on where you buy your meat from- some companies only source the males for eating. Making sure any young joeys aren’t left motherless.

Have a look at this article here for a further well rounded look at the pros and cons of eating Skippy. It’s definitely not a simple process, but eating meat for most of us really isn’t anyway.

Unless you are rearing, hunting, or butchering your own meat, there are many questions to be asked, values to consider and choices to be made. It’s the way it should be.

Anything less than that is devaluing what goes on to our dinner time plates, and ‘blind eating’ of anything isn’t something we should be engaging in at any point of the food chain.

While this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve talked about ethical meat eating on this blog, having a kangaroo recipe is.

And the secret for me in getting a meal past my family that wasn’t going to taint my tastebuds for the next 9 years? Kangaroo mince (not chunks), great spices, and the best accompaniment for any true Australian pie, tomato sauce…you little beauty mate.

Kangaroo Pie

800g kangaroo mince

olive oil

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried vegetable stock

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 medium diced onion

1 large diced carrot

1 large diced eggplant

pastry (frozen or make your own)

In a large pot, add a couple of good slugs of olive oil, the finely diced onions and cook through until translucent. Add the kangaroo mince, brown it through and then add your spices, and vegetables. Pop the lid on until the vegetables are cooked mostly through. Put pot aside and allow to cool a little.

Oil baking tin and line with pastry. Add kangaroo mix and make your pie look pretty with remaining pastry. Bake at 200C for approximately 35 minutes or until pie is cooked golden.

kangaroo pie 04 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Further ethical eating conversations can be found here.

Food for thought- the ethics of rather a lot.

Meat, could you? Would you?

loving, living, laughing

Loving meeting friends for a solstice swim at sunrise in the pouring rain. There was a chorus of small folk bundled up in jackets, beanies and boots looking on as their parents braved the wintry watery ocean depths in a nod to all things solstice. It was cold and raining wet and grey.

I loved every bit of it.

Living one step away from chaos every day. With three kids who regularly make mischief of one kind or another and a pup who will chew everything, anything in sight.

Chaos.

Just one step away from it.

Delicious laughing at things small people come out with. The smallest is quite intrigued by babies at the moment, and is looking forward to having one. I was gently telling her, well she had to do quite a few other things first. She has to learn about lots of different people…discover new things in wonderful places. She has to try lots of delicious foods, like eating ice cream in Italy…and sausages on cold days in Germany…

[She has a think about this]

So we have to eat lunch first?

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What are you loving at the moment?

[“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE]