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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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.

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.



capsicum sweet chilli sauce

I wanted to make this chilli sauce, but then realised I didn’t have enough vinegar, and also wanted to use up the eight long capsicums I had, (bull horn’s.) So I fiddled a bit, a little tweak, a whispered please let it work and hey presto… capsicum chilli sauce. I think I actually like this one even more than the other as it’s a little less sweet, leaves the taste of the capsicums and still gives a dish the kick I want it to.

Capsicum Chilli Sauce

8 long thin capsicums

100g small hot chillis

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

5 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

black pepper

2 good slurps of balsamic vinegar

In a food processor, blitz the capsicum, chilli, garlic and ginger. In a pot add add the remaining ingredients, add chilli combination and bring to a rolling boil. Keep at the same temperature, stirring until sauce thickens. Poor in to sterilised glass jars/ bottles or in to a clean jar and store in the fridge.

sweet white squares of deliciousness

The recipe calls these sweet white squares of deliciousness Australian White Christmas. I can’t bring myself to call it that. White Christmas in my head is a horrible taste memory that sits with childhood cake stalls, laced with copha, bulked up with a cheap rice bubble crunch and far too much icing sugar. Copha in my books is up there with finding slugs in your spinach moments before you eat it. The Monkeys (if I can help it) will never have to endure copha.

So why would I make something that is titled ‘Australian White Christmas’ given my taste bud association with the name?

Well one, because it’s in the SBS Feast magazine (surely THEY wouldn’t use copha) and two, because all the ingredients look like they would blend quite nicely- with a few minor change ups on my part.

Let’s give it a crack.

Oh! It’s good.

Really good. The good quality white chocolate I think makes a huge difference. Don’t bother buying ‘white chocolate’ if it doesn’t have cocoa butter in it. It’s just a concoction of sugar and some sort of vegetable/animal oil something or other. Go for the good stuff, (I use Whittakers.)

The macadamias give it some texture, and the odd cherry here and there, some colour. This one is super easy to make and cut up for a gift…

Or for a little after dinner nibble with an espresso or two and some lively dining table conversation.

Sweet White Squares of Deliciousness

adapted from SBS Feast Magazine- December issue

500g good quality white chocolate

395g can of condensed milk

100g macadamia nuts

100g glace cherries

50g desiccated coconut

1 tsp vanilla

In a pot over low heat melt the chocolate combined with the condensed milk, turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Spread mixture out into a greased and lined pan. Sprinkle with a little extra coconut and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours until firm. Cut into squares or logs for gifts.

sunshine, lemons and a whispering curd

A rush of lemons.

Limoncello is now on the go, but it took three lots of lemons before I was happy with the quality that was to be used.

So what do I have? A whole lot of lemons. Lucky for me, I love lemons.

Limoncello, lemon cordial, and lemon curd have all been fiddled with in the kitchen this week. Limoncello will wait for another day as it’s not ready yet, but the cordial and curd? Cordial bottle nearly empty and there is now a large jar of curd whispering to me from the fridge. That’s right, she whispers. Sings to me from a closed door. Letting me know she is there and waiting.

Just a little taste as you walk on by, come on…you can do it. Leave the carrots, it’s me you really want. Where’s your teaspoon honey?…

It’s hard. It really is. Husky voiced, the lemon curd allures and entices you with her whispered sing song voice. Just a little teaspoon indeed.

It’s the Lauren Bacall of the fridge. Refined, sultry tones and probably wearing a beautifully cut Chanel type pants suit too. All that in a jar of old fashioned lemon curd…who knew?

Lemon Curd

1 cup of lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 tbls cornflour

In a pot add the juice and sugar. Bring to the boil, turn down a little and simmer for about 5 minutes. All sugar should be dissolved. In a bowl whisk your eggs and cornflour together. Slowly drizzle this mixture into the juice and sugar mixture, whisking quickly as you do. Keep at a simmer until the curd thickens.

Lemon Cordial

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Equal parts strained lemon juice, sugar and water. Juice the lemons, strain the juice. In a pot add the sugar and water and bring to a rapid boil. Boil until it thickens slightly. (For me this took six minutes, depends on the amount you are using and also the pot though. Then add your lemon juice.

Store in a bottle and leave in the fridge. Serve with mineral water, ice and a couple of sprigs of mint, or perhaps a little vodka… or just good old tap water.

green takeaway coffee cups

I like coffee. I really do. I don’t think I have a coffee habit, I just really like the stuff. Good coffee, (I don’t bother wasting my time with bad coffee.)

For our home coffee I can only get from one place in the whole city. Kind of restrictive yes, but that’s what the palate dictates. It’s fairtrade, it’s local-ish, (from East Timor) and tastes just fine.

Mr Chocolate also likes coffee. He didn’t before he met me though. Before me he was a tea drinker. Ha!…not now though. Long work hours, two pint sized Monkeys, and a coffee brewing wife all point towards kissing that tea goodbye a long time ago.

All those long work hours, requires the odd pep up from his favoured local barristas during the working week. Always on the go he needs a coffee to match so it needs to be a takeaway coffee. Last year The Monkeys gave him a reusable coffee cup (KeepCup) for those weekly coffee pickups. Instead of using a disposable cup, sucking back the black liquid, and casting the cup aside. He could now hand the cup over, get it filled, suck back the black liquid and wash it for next time.

There are a few different reusable coffee cups out there on the market these days. As more people spread the word and hand over their cups to their local barristas, I hope this will just become the norm for takeaway coffee drinkers.

One less thing to be dumped into landfill.

upcycling to gift tags

Gift tags are such a simple thing to make. You can upcycle so many things to make instant eye catching tags that re-cycle something, look pretty good and don’t cost anything. Scissors, a hole punch and imagination are all that’s needed.

Christmas cards are a great thing to chop up, (thanks to Tricia for the point in the right direction with this one). Just make sure there is no writing on the other side.

Gift to match: Anything Christmassy.

Cereal boxes. I know that sounds a bit odd, and it would depend on what cereal you buy maybe… but with the right gift, I think it works.

Gift to match: Jar of muesli/granola, box of muffins.

Chocolate wrappings. Ok, this isn’t going to work if it’s a mars bar. But if you are buying some tip top chocolate once in awhile, it seems a shame to spend all that money on some delicious chocolate, for it not to get a second go doesn’t it? (See this post, on how to make wrapping paper and cards from chocolate wrappers.)

Gift to match: Anything, it looks a bit different.

Biscuit/Cookie boxes. Again, maybe not for any old box, but given the right one and it can look rather interesting I think. I was given these as a gift and loved the box so much it just sat there empty for a few months on a shelf. The Monkeys had been told to keep their little mits off it until I had decided what to do with it.

Gift to match: Something lovely.

So many things can be turned into a gift tag, or used as a small card. Perfume boxes, old calendars, pasta boxes… lots and lots of things to have fun with and give a new life to.

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles…

Bubbles Recipe

Glycerine    1 part
Dishwashing liquid    2 parts
Water   7 parts

(Recipe is approximate. You may have to play with the ratios a little.)

Most kids get a kick out of bubbles. Actually I like bubbles, so perhaps there are a few adults out there too that would be keen for a bubble recipe. I just use my kids as an excuse to use them.

Bubbles love a wet environment. So if it’s humid, rainy kind of weather, perfect for bubbles. In the bath, with the bathroom door shut (trapping that moist air in ) perfect for bubbles. Snowing outside…I have no idea, but give it a go. It could  be perfect for bubbles. When the bubbles pop straight away they are drying out, the glycerine helps to stop that, and the moisture in the air as well.

Make your mixture up and leave it a few hours, or even over night (I’m not sure why, but it seems to work.)

You can use anything as your bubble maker. We had an empty container that had been given to us previously, but an old wire coat hanger twisted in to a circle can work just as well. Bigger bubbles!

Now go get to those bubbles.

(they also make a great inexpensive gift.)

 

* Where to buy glycerine from? Your local chemist. Not expensive and will do you quite a lot of bubbles.

Jams, Chutneys and Granola….

New to the blogging world. I thought I might start one, just to watch my own progression on living as sustainably as possible in an urban environment.  Finding out what works for me and my family and maybe achievable by others living  in a city environment.

Last week was  a busy one. The kitchen saw a flurry of activity in a few days. From a box of unwanted pears destined for the garbage emerged 9 jars of jam. One batch Lemon & Pear, and the other Lemon, Ginger & Pear. Really tasty! One pot of Mango Chutney, using some mangoes given to us from my father in laws neighbours tree. First time I have ever made chutney, and suitably impressed at how easy it was.

Yesterday I made Granola– So super easy to make. I came across this as my husband really likes to buy the stuff. The supermarket packet ones can be quite pricey and never seem to go very far, and after looking at the ingredients- “How hard can it be?” So wanting to make it a bit (a lot) healthier than the packet ones this is what I use.

quick oats

s/r flour

coconut oil

vanilla

cinnamon

optional extras- maple syrup, whole almonds, walnuts, desicated coconut, sultanas, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, seasame seeds, pepitas, honey. There are so many healthy and tasty flavours you can play around with. And if you really just want it to taste more like the packet stuff- just add sugar!

The trick is at the end is to add a little water and scrunch the mixture together with your hands, getting those tasty clusters together. Then whack it in the oven until toasted and golden colour (170C). Move the mixture round once while cooking, so it cooks evenly.

Its a really tasty breakfast cereal, good for a snack or even better for a present for some one.

 (Present idea– Put it in a lovely glass jar and a label.)