Top 13 Eco friendly Gift Ideas

Top 13 Eco Friendly Gift Ideas || cityhippyfarmgirl

1. Fermenters Starter Pack- scoby’s, sourdough starters etc. Bundle a bunch of your favourite fermented goodies together and some written ‘how to’ instructions.

2. Get baking. Put together a little hand made hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread, Iced VoVo Cupcakes– the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand basket, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.) A little hamper like this is sure to win over your loved ones.

3. A succulent in a vintage teacup I still say is a visual winner. Get creative.

4. Assistent Original– now this is a pricey gift for Christmas, but if you are serious about a kitchen investment that is going to cater for every kitchen whim you have- it’s a worthy investment, as cooking from scratch is a commitment and you want to make it as easy as possible. (For bread baking nerds, look no further… 5 kilos of dough she can handle.)

5. Sign a loved one up for a Milkwood Permaculture course, (or a locally grown Permaculture course in your area.) They will be brimming with inspiration afterwards, and that…is always a good thing.

6. Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly organic fruit and vegetable box.

Bliss honey- south coast NSW || cityhippyfarmgirl

7. A big jar of local honey. Honey can be used as a face wash and natural exfoliant, stirred into your morning chai, or drizzled over toast. Make a list for the recipient of all the things they can do with their sticky prized jar. It really is a sweet idea!

8. Still sweet talking. What about the ultimate gift of a hive of native bees. Your recipient will be beeeside themselves with happiness.

how-to-make-gift-labels || cityhippyfarmgirl

9. Have a peek over at Ecolosophy. They have some wonderful eco friendly, handmade and fairtrade goodies, perfect for all ages.

anzac-biscuits || cityhippyfarmgirl

10. Or you could try… a simple plate, dish or second hand tin from your local op-shop/thrift shop/charity shop. Beautiful one off antique ones can bought for usually just a couple of dollars. Fill the plate with your favourite biscuits and the recipe printed out on the back of the card.

11. Digital Subscription to an inspiring magazine- someone will be jumping up and down with excitement. (Earth Garden Magazine, Great Ocean Quarterly, PiP Magazine, Green Magazine, Slow, Dumbo Feather– they are all wonderful!)

french-breakfast-tea-cityhippyfarmgirl

12. For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea and little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 673 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

enamelware || cityhippyfarmgirl

13. For the baker, drinker, eater…errr anything really- enamelware. You can’t go wrong, really you can’t.

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What are some of your eco friendly gift ideas?

 

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A garden to die for AND a giveaway

foxglove patch- Ecolosophy

Today I would like to introduce you to Tanya from Ecolosophy. I haven’t met Tanya, as she lives on the opposite side of the country. If I did meet her though, I’d probably give her a feet lifting off the ground kinda hug, deposit some sourdough on her bench top and then run through her kitchen, (being careful not to slam the back door of course) scurry down the back steps and then face plant into her garden.

Have you seen her garden? If you have, you’ll know that it’s face plant worthy. This is the kind of garden that gets featured in magazines. This is the kind of garden that dreams are fuelled on, (inclusive of mine!) This is…ok, you get the picture. I’m in love with her garden and before I share anymore of my love for it. I thought I would share a little Q+A that we had.

Salmon Beach- Ecolosophy

1/ Tell me about your garden and what you have growing at the moment. I’ve seen snippits in Earth Garden and there is a little garden envy on my part!

Ha! Well bear in mind, I only take pictures of the pretty bits! Our block is 10 acres and rented. Mostly we aim to keep it maintained so it’s not too snaky but we do have some lovely bushy bits where we hunt for wildflowers and orchids. The garden you’ve seen in Earth Garden is our vegie patch. We shower and wash in salty bore water so we can give this area all our fresh rainwater. We have built raised garden beds from whatever we could salvage locally and filled them with manure and pea hay and compost.

I do the herbs, my partner does the vegetables (except tomatoes, they’re my thing) and we often lock horns over real estate in the patch. Luckily herbs are tough and a little bit sneaky so slowly and quietly, they’ve inserted themselves into any available crevice. As time goes by I’ve noticed that more are left to do their thing and less are getting evicted. My eldest son has also started infiltrating the patch with his love of flowers, so the patch, which began as a rigid, productive, straight row kind of vegetable garden, has evolved into a crazy and haphazard explosion of colour, a bee paradise, a worm farm, a science lab, a classroom and a grocery store, an open air gym for both vigorous workouts and low impact yoga, an oasis of peace and an avenue for artistic expression. 

2/ You’re going on family picnic on the weekend, what food will you take?

Our weekend picnics generally involve the beach and the boys bring lemon, flour, salt, pepper and grand plans to catch our food and live off the land. Now, I don’t like to show a lack of confidence, but I also don’t like to go hungry, so I usually slip in a few chicken and vegie quesadillas… just on the off chance, y’know?

Bailer + Fish- Ecolosophy

3/ Ecolosophy is an online store you run with your business partner Rose. Can you tell me a bit about your background and why you started it. 

Well my background is in horticulture, herbal medicine and retail, Rose comes from urban design and sustainability. We’ve long been friends but a couple of years ago we started day-dreaming together about our ideal enterprise. Ecolosophy evolved from that. We wanted to create a business that could not only sustain us but also makes the world a better place. We selected our range in the Ecolosophy shop adhering to an eco criteria and our blog is a multifaceted exploration into green living. Although we currently live in a small town and grow a lot of our own food and keep chooks, we’ve also lived in built up urban environments and faced all the challenges of being eco in the city. We’re actively involved in our local community and as the business grows we hope to engage in more social enterprise as well.

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4/ If you are putting together a package for someone that wanted to reduce their environmental footprint, what would you put in there to kick start their efforts.

Here’s my five eco things that I wouldn’t be without now.

  1. My jute string shopping bag, just like your nanna used. It’s lightweight, strong and expands to fit heaps in. It lives in my handbag and I use it at every shopping expedition.
  2. My Keep Leaf Produce bags, because really, why do we need to keep wrapping our vegetables and loose bulk goods in those stoopid little plastic bags?
  3. My bamboo toothbrush. The more I learn about plastic, the less of it I want to own…and I definitely don’t want any in my mouth.
  4. I can proudly say it’s been two years since I gave up cling film… how so you ask? These beeswax and hemp food wraps are awesome and have helped bridge the fridge gap with food covering.
  5. Who Gives a Crap… I can’t go on enough about this loo roll so excuse the shameless sales pitch…it’s good for your bum, great for the world! The lovely guys at WGAC have created the cutest, 3 ply toilet paper that is 100% recycled with no chlorine, inks, dyes or scents. They donate 50% of their profits to the charity Wateraid which means that every roll you buy is helping to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. If all that isn’t awesome enough, these rolls are so pretty, you’ll be itching to display them in the smallest room in the house. You’ll be hooked -check out their website whogivesacrap.org to organise a subscription to get these super cute rolls delivered to your door.

Ocean Toes- Ecolosophy

5/ Last meal on earth. What are you eating, who is there and where are you?

It’ll be just my boys and I, camping with the bush at our back and the beach in front of us. A crackling fire will warm our sandy toes and the night sky above us will be sprinkled with stars… experience tells me we’ll probably be eating quesadillas!

cityhippyfarmgirl giveaway- Ecolosphy

Now the lovely ladies at Ecolosophy have put together an eco-hamper giveaway for one lucky duck reader to crank up their eco-journey. Ecolosophy is offering a hamper containing their top five, favourite eco-products for one lucky subscriber. All you need to do is enter the code-word cityhippyfarmgirl into the special instructions box in the shopping cart when making a purchase at the Ecolosophy shop during 2014, for a chance to win.

(And now coming back to my running face plant back in to that magnificent garden… anyone else want to join me?)

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Visit the Ecolosophy website for more info including terms and conditions

Jump on over to more of their eco goodness on the Ecolosophy blog or social pages Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

 

Top 10 eco friendly ways to say I love you

10 eco friendly ways to say I love you || cityhippyfarmgirl

I was sent an email a little while ago, asking whether I would like to spruik some Valentines Day products. Although I generally feel lucky to even be asked, I did feel they hadn’t thoroughly researched their target market particularly well.

Stuffed small toys, toting love hearts, smiling bear faces and large ‘made in China’ tags, has never been my thing. Ever. It seems unlikely that’s going to change any time soon. In my eyes it also seemed unlikely that a space with the name cityhippyfarmgirl would be likely to encourage the purchase of said items, but it’s true, you don’t know unless you ask.

I did however say a polite no, and instead thought about some alternative ways to say I love you, for the most heart filled day of the year.

thinking green on valentines day || cityhippyfarmgirl

Top 10 eco friendly ways to say I love you

1/ A big beautiful bunch of kale, rosemary or any other seasonal greenery you might have in season. A bunch of red roses it isn’t- it’s better, way better!

2/ Rediscover the lost art of whispered sweet nothings.

3/ Bread. If you thought the heady combination of flour, water and salt wasn’t romantic, you haven’t thought about it in the right fashion. Soft and pillowy, rounded shaping and hot, HOT oven. (See, your loved one will be lusting after your rolls in no time.)

4/ Lingerie- If impressive underwear is your thing, take the time to research it and make it ethically made.

5/ Switch that bunch of flowers for a pot plant. Indoor, outdoor it doesn’t matter. Even if your green thumb is frequently the colour of squid ink black, a potted plant will last far longer than a bunch of flowers ever would.

succulent valentines day gift || cityhippyfarmgirl

6/ Poetry. No texting, no spell check, just a pen and some paper.

7/ Heirloom vegetable seeds, now stay with me. This is long time love. The kind where together you get to sprout those little seeds to become seedlings, and then watch them cared for, nurtured and loved as they grow, and grow. Ready to be plucked and eaten, preferably over an intimate candle lit dinner for two.

8/ A lovely bottle of organic or biodynamic local wine.

9/ A picnic. You don’t have to be a young couple to enjoy a late afternoon picnic on a grassy hill top. While couples with young kids, don’t quite get to do the gaze into each others eyes so much, kids do generally run off and leave you alone for 2.5 minutes longer than they would if you were eating dinner at home. That’s two and half minutes you could be gazing lovingly into each others eyes, or perhaps a quick pash before the kids run back and trample sand through the sandwiches again.

10/ And finally. Nothing says I love you quite like butter and sugar does, (well in this household anyway.) I have posted these biscuits before, but here is the slightly tweaked simple recipe again.)

coconut strawberry heart || cityhippyfarmgirl

Coconut Strawberry Hearts

250g softened butter

1 cup (220g) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 1/2 cups (525g) plain flour

strawberry jam

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer until pale. Add vanilla and egg, then mix through rest of ingredients. Lightly knead biscuit dough – if mixture looks slightly too dry, knead with dampened hands. Roll biscuit dough between two sheets of baking paper to about 5mm –  Pop into the fridge for an hour or so until firm, and cut out into shapes. If the dough comes back to room temperature while you are still cutting, being tricky to handle, just pop it back into the fridge for a bit.

Bake at 170C for approximately 15-20 mins, until a very light golden colour. Allow to cool and then add half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in between the two biscuits.

finding the spirit

speculaas- cityhippyfarmgirl

Nothing says it’s nearly Christmas time, quite like belting out Wham’s Last Christmas at the top of your lungs. While big hair, eighties clothing and a snowy white landscape aren’t really necessary this year; an enthusiasm for all things just a teeny bit cheesy are. With three little people grinning from ear to ear for encouragement, I plan to quietly soak all that Christmassy spirit well and truly up.

I wasn’t going to though, well not yet anyway. It all seemed a little too early still.

However, last years advent calendar was hung, and the boys were keen for the Christmas sticks to be draped and decorated. Pre-school carols were seeping in and had a funny way of sticking in my head all day. I also couldn’t avoid the fact that everyone else was well and truly already on the Christmas wagon.

What pushed Last Christmas on to replay was the very real thought of my little people becoming big people. No longer finding it quite as exciting to decorate some fallen sticks with some brightly coloured baubles and their bunk beds with draped silvery tinsel. The excitement of seeing what might be in the advent calander in the early morning, and the planning of all the things they would do, once the Christmas holidays began. I know that contagious excitement will someday fade, as their limbs get longer and their childhood thoughts and ideas change.

So while their little dancing legs are eager, their air guitars await and theres a willingness to sing all songs Christmassy, then so will I.

And I’ll love every second of it.*

 * In the spirit of Christmas, so will all my neighbours. It’s a well known fact that Last Christmas should never be played quietly; and living in a small city apartment, well playing something with Christmas enthusiasm means everyone gets to enjoy it as well. Now THAT’S the spirit of Christmas.

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speculaas-cityhippyfarmgirl

For added Christmassy goodness, I’ve been making speculaas again. It’s been two years since the intermittent light swearing incident over the little wooden windmill and, this year I thought I’d try my luck again. Alas, still not to a standard I like, so no windmills again this year. However, the dough I’ve tweaked a little and it’s still a happy biscuit to eat.

Perfect for a little dunking, munching or sending of small parcels off to the neighbours.

Speculaas #2

150g cubed cold butter

150g brown sugar

300g plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

2 tbls cold water

Pulse all ingredients except the cold water, until resembles bread crumbs. Turn out to a board, add the water and give a quick knead to bring it all together. You are a after a smooth dough consistency. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper and pop into the fridge to firm up (or roll into a log and freeze for a later date.) Cut out shapes and bake at 180 for 15-20 minutes.

sunflowers and lists

christmas

biscuits

sunflower

I’m trying to remember to do quite a few things at the moment. Lists are being made, crossed off, lost, restarted, and scribbled upon. The end of the year where everything comes to a halt. Classes are finishing, teachers are changing, christmas decorations have been hung and there is a buzz in the air that is beginning to mount. But not before I go through my multiple lists.

Thank you biscuits for the dance teachers.

Thank you biscuits for the soccer teacher.

Thank you biscuits for the school teacher.

Goodbye biscuits for the school class.

Christmas biscuits for the neighbours and friends.

Now if only I could remember to take them when I go and see them.

This year we’ve done the festive bundle of sticks again. It feels right. Fifteen minutes of collecting fallen sticks from outside, held together by a ribbon and then decorated by the boys. Simple, environmentally friendly, space saving, and most importantly….I can put it up high. If I didn’t, little fingers would be breaking off everything she could and jamming it into her mouth for a little stick flavoured snack.

How about you?

Working your way through any lists? Anyone else doing Christmas sticks this year?…and sunflowers, aren’t they beautiful.

There is something about seeing them that just puts a smile to the face and a little dance in the toes. Seeing them in unlikely places, like a city side street… just makes them even sweeter.

double ginger bites

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doublegingerbites

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My loved grandparents came to visit… and there were Double Ginger Bites.

The girls came to visit for a little cake and coffee by candle light… and there were Double Ginger Bites.

A little Christmas package was sent…and there were Double Ginger Bites.

I was hungry, and dinner seemed like a terribly long way off…and there were Double Ginger Bites.

Double Ginger Bites

125 grams softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 beaten egg

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup golden syrup

4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tps cardamom

3 cups plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

100g chopped uncrystalised ginger

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix them all together. Knead it a little on a floured surface, mixing in the chopped ginger until you get a smooth dough. Let it rest in the fridge a bit until firm, then roll out dough 5mm thickness (or thicker if you prefer) and cut into rough squares and lay on lined baking tray.

Bake at 190C for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until light golden.

eight eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

  

local honey– use as a face wash and natural exfoliant, stirred into your morning chai, or drizzled over toast

box of homemade biscuits (recipe below)

gift tag card made up from a dried pressed flower

lunch date voucher- favourite packed picnic lunch

giant gingerbread person in a crocheted pocket

jar of homemade almond pesto

gift wrapping- I’ve talked about using old maps as wrapping paper before. This particular one was gold, as I had found an unwanted old atlas on the street that someone had lazily put out there. At first I was dismayed at the thought of it sitting out there unwanted and unloved, getting rain damaged. We certainly didn’t need another atlas… then I remembered wrapping paper. Sure it was a bit sad that I was cutting into this large beautiful book, but I was certainly better than just going in the recycling bin which is where it was headed. Team it up with some wool to hold the folding in place, and no tape is necessary.

For more wrapping ideas, have a look at this rather awesome site on furoshiki, other wise known as the Japanese art of fabric gift wrapping.

(For last years 12 eco friendly Christmas gift ideas, see here.)

Coconut Strawberry Hearts

250g softened butter

1 cup (220g) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp coconut essence

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

3 1/2 cups (525g) plain flour

strawberry jam

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer until pale. Add vanilla, coconut essence and egg, then mix through rest of ingredients. Lightly knead biscuit dough and roll between two sheets of baking paper to about 5mm. Pop into the fridge for an hour or so until firm, and cut out to shapes. If the dough comes back to room temperature while you are still cutting, being tricky to handle, just pop it back into the fridge for a bit.

Bake at 170C for approximately 15-20 mins, a very light golden colour. Allow to cool and then add half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in between the two biscuits.

Eat two immediately to see if they are ok to gift. Yep? Ok, should be good to go.

For a similar recipe see Coconut Jam Drops.

bok choy stamps

I always wanted to make a potato stamp as a kid.

I had a crafty-making-stuff type of book. Which I would scrutinise for hours and hours looking at each and every page, planning what I would try to make next. Things like walking stilts, a phone from two cans and string, and those enticing potato stamps.

I made them once, and was fairly underwhelmed by the cross I had carved out. I did a few pages of painted crosses and that was about it. Back to scrutinising the next page as to what I could make next.

Far too many years to count later, and it’s time to revisit. Although this time it’s away with you potato stamp and hello bok choy. No carving necessary this time. Just chop off the leaves, (a little stir fry for dinner I think) leaving a one inch or so stump for your stamp. Give it a generous lick of paint and there you have it, a bok choy stamp.



the weight of the steak


When I was researching what piggy options a city girl had, I discovered Feather and Bone, in Rozelle. A supplier of sustainably raised meat. I started getting their weekly emails filled with interesting meaty information and what’s on offer at the moment. From there, I went to one of their open days and got to see for myself at how it was all done, coming home with a weighty little number that had cook me up just right, written all over it.

I’ve written before about knowing where your meat is from and asking whether you would be prepared to do the killing yourself. Reading back on that post I realised that even in the last not quite 6 months our meat buying habits have changed since then. I’m fine with that, I like evolving. I now very rarely buy any meat from a super market or butcher. Instead, the meat intake has dropped even less, and the majority of it is now coming from farmers markets. If those markets are few and far between because I can’t get there or the meat isn’t available, then so is the meat eating. Why? Because I really want to know where it’s from. I want to know more of how it was raised before slaughter, who reared it and if possible, what their farming philosophies are like. I simply can’t get this if I’m buying from the supermarket.

Meat has been the topic of choice in this fair country of ours for the last few weeks. Ever since the ABC’s Four Corners program was shown about the live cattle export business to Indonesia, people have had things to say. A lot of things to say. The footage was graphic, confronting and got people into action to get things changed.

It might have changed Indonesia’s meat eating habits for a bit as the supply from Australia has almost stopped, but would it be enough for people to question their own meat eating habits here within Australia? Could that daily/weekly slab of meat become less? Could it become just a special occasion meal?

Back to the weighty number in my possession, and I had a little treat in store for Mr Chocolate. Special occasion, yes it was. After visiting the warehouse of Feather and Bone, I came home with a steak. Not just any steak but a Chianina steak, aged for 6 weeks, rib eye cut, weighing 673g and costing $45. There was, a small intake of breath, (you can’t fight history right) at the cost of it, but overall I was more than happy to hand over the cash for the hefty piece of meat. I knew where the beef was coming from, I knew how long and where it was aged and butchered, (Feather and Bone.) I also knew that this steak was going home to my loved one as part of a twice a year meal of steak, (the last one being at Aria.) It was also going to be enjoyed by him, (I hoped.)

Now on getting that steak home, I started to sweat a little. Not from the weight of the thing, but the pressure to cook it the right way. (To clarify, I don’t eat steak, which means I don’t cook steak.) This however, was a treat. It had to be cooked just right. I had quizzed Grant, (at Feather and Bone) when I purchased it and then also made a frantic phone call to my friend who proudly has Meat on her bookshelf. Plan put into action and I’m off.

Plates at the ready, the steak was brought back to room temperature, salted, seared, into the oven, and then rested for the same amount of time it had cooked for. The pressure was high, the weight of the steak was sitting firmly on my shoulders, and geez, it was a hefty one.

No cooked pictures, as that was the last thing I needed was to try and get a ‘good’ picture in the fading light and building anticipation of Mr Chocolate about to cut into his rib eye.

But how did it taste?

Let’s just say… if Mr Chocolate was about to leave the earth tomorrow and he could choose any meal to end it, this steak cooked by me (*nervous giggle*) is now top of the list.

I think that just might be a success.

Isola (producer)

Chianina Beef

6 week aged

Rib eye

673g

soap nuts

soap nuts

little cotton bag you put them in

Soap Nuts


So what are they?

“Soapnuts ( Sapindus mukorossi ) are an environmentally friendly, sustainably produced, bio-degradable and compostable alternative to commercial laundry detergents. Grown wild in India, for centuries these nuts have been used for many purposes, from laundry to cleaning jewellery and treating contaminated soil. They are most widely recognised as being an effective and environmentally friendly natural detergent, but can be used for a wide variety of other uses.” New Internationalist

Do they work?

Yep, they do. The clean just as well as any other laundry liquid I was using. There is no lingering soapy smell. There is a tiny and pleasant clean, fresh smell when I first get the washing out of the machine. You have to really stick your nose in the fibres to get it though and nothing residual once the clothing as dried. They also leave everything quite soft. No need for any fabric softners, (if you use it.) There is a really great indepth post here comparing the nuts with regular washing powder. The Monkeys don’t play neatly, and it manages to get all the grime off their clothes.

How expensive are they?

Not all. You only need to use 6-8 of the nut shells in a load and then they are then re-used for another 4-6 times. All you need to do is dry them out in between washes and peg the little bag up when you dry your laundry. So the 500gm bag lasts for ages. New Internationalist (where I got mine) claims they will last for about 6 months doing about 200 loads. That seems to be fitting in with how I’m using them too.

What do you need to do?

Put 6-8 shells in the little bag (3 are included) pop it into some hot water for a minute (I stick a bowl of water in the microwave) and then put the bag and water in with the load of laundry.

Is it too much of an extra effort to do it all the time?

Nope, not all. A minute to warm the water, and a few seconds to empty the bag to dry it and the shells. Super easy.

Can you use them for anything else?

I’ve only used them for laundry, but you can apparently use them instead of regular shampoo, hand wash, cleaning jewellery and pest control in the garden.

What to do with them when you are finished?

They can go in the compost or used as mulch in the garden.

Any problems?

No problems for me. I’ve been really happy with them, and will keep using them.

Some places to find them

new internationalist Australia

Wildsoapnuts.com Australia

www.soapnuts.co.uk