cutting, stamping and tying

    how to make gift labels- cityhippyfarmgirl making labels- cityhippyfarmgirlhow to make labels- cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s dark outside

and everyone is asleep,

except for one

One who is cutting, stamping and tying,

now what do I need again?

brown paper for jam jar tops

brown cardboard


hole punch

scissors I’ve had for 26 years

new stamps to play with from here

recycled glass jars

and the afternoon before of a hot sticky kitchen, making jam

gifts ready to go

and a bed that is calling


What are you making at the moment?

* linking into the inspiring My Creative Space

top 12 eco friendly christmas gift ideas

a little succulent gift- cityhippyfarmgirl

Nearly the end of the year again, which means there could be a little gift giving to be had. I love this time of year, but I don’t like the ridiculous amount of spending that usually goes along with it. You don’t have to spend oodles of money, you really don’t. Here are a few ideas to help with a greener tinged Christmas at your place this year.

1/ Tiny presents of tiny succulents in tiny tea cups, (or espresso cups as this little fella is.) You can easily do this with a little cup that may have a chip or a crack in it- stalk op shops, church fetes, roadside discards for succulent holding inspiration. The options are limitless, (have a peek at google images.) Think green, think succulents.

2/ Something for the inspired reader in your life- Changing Gears: by Greg Foyster

3/ 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.

4/ Digital Subscription to a ‘green’ magazine- inspire someone with some idea thumping pages- There are oodles to pick from, and then even more.

5/ Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly fruit and veg box. Foodconnect– Whole Larder Love– Local Harvest etc.

6/ Sign a bloggy friend up to do Blog with Pip– they will love you to the moon and back, (and probably back some more; this course is AWESOME.)

12 eco friendly gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

7/ If you don’t have a crafty hand yourself, have wander over to etsy– Buy direct from someone who does and support a small time crafter with a passion for handmade goodness.

8/ 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.

gift cityhippyfarmgirl

9/ For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea, enamel cup and a little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 542 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

ginger bread gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

10/ Or using the same gingerbread recipe, kid version style.

11/ Put together a little handmade food hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread- the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand store basket (50c church sale thank you very much!) and you’re in Christmassy business, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.)

12/ And if you still aren’t sure of what Uncle Roo and Aunt Bilby would like, make a donation on their part. There are so many charities to choose from in our collective corners of the world- choose one and your recipients will be so very thankful.


For previous years eco Christmas gift ideas and wrapping see

eight eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

twelve eco friendly Christmas gift ideas


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.

Eco-living Fair

As much as I often think, oh I wish we lived out of the city. It’s days like these, I think… damn I love our city. I love having the opportunity to go to things like this. A community fair in celebration of all things sustainable- it was a great morning out.

The Eco- living Fair just keeps getting bigger and better each year. More stalls, more demonstrations, more information being passed around and most importantly, more people. As without people…well, it’s not going to be quite so good is it.

Some snippets from the day…

 Have you thought about joining Slow Food Sydney?

 Paint your own umbrella for the kids.

 Food Co-op spreading mandarin love

Urban Bee Hive Honey  is all from Sydney urban hives.

A very knowledgable little friend of Monkey Boy’s who explained this (rather awesome) renewable energy concept that is awaiting approval in Australia. Monkey Boy then explained it all to Mr Chocolate a little later, (and that’s how enthusiastic information gets passed on, kids!)

colourful stilted entertainment

 valet bike parking and free bike maintenance

 a free plant for anyone that wanted one from the local council nursery

and everyone needed a hat.


What have you been up to this fine weekend? 

Any eco-living action?


This weekend we hippity hopped our way down to Sustain. 

It was billed as a natural and organic lifestyle show with gardening workshops, cooking demo’s, yoga, meditation, a speakers corner, and lots of stalls. I was really looking forward to it, as was hoping that instead of going to ten different shops in order to get the products I like it would be all in the one spot, (plus discover a few more.)

There was a kombucha stall, where you could sample three different types of the naturally cultured brew. A family run business from South Australia, that is slowly expanding their market. These really were delicious and I hope more and more people start buying them. Can you imagine if people swapped their can of everyday soft drink for a bottle of kombucha instead? Ohhh, now there’s an idea. (As a side line, this lovely couple couldn’t sell any of their drinks on the day as Coca Cola owns the rights to the grounds in which Sustain was held… disappointingly ridiculous.)

Sarah from Mojo Kombucha

nui chocolate

I finally got to taste some of the Nui chocolate. I had wanted to try this chocolate for quite a while, as it’s cocoa beans are sourced and fairly traded from Vanuatu. Cocoa beans are generally grown just 10 degrees either side of the equator which makes growing areas for such a valuable world resource highly sought after. Beans grown in Vanuatu have much smaller food miles for us here in Australia than say cocoa beans sourced from Africa or Central America. This chocolate isn’t cheap at $6.95 for 75g. But delicious it is, and they are apparently bringing out a dark version soon too.

A lot of the usual suspects were there.


black tahini which was also on my list of things to try

Sam from Holbrook Paddock Eggs

Everyone knows these days, all free range eggs are not created equal and you should look into what eggs you are exactly buying. Now if I was a free range chook I think I would like to live at family run Holbrook Paddock Eggs (or possibly Celia’s.) These grass roaming hens are moved twice a week along with their portable sheds, and following behind a herd of cows. There is a couple of maremma dogs to love and protect them as they do their chooky thing and quite frankly, I think their life sounds rather lovely. Happy chooks, happy eggs, happy belly.

Garden Up which I absolutely loved. As a inner city renting girl. This vertical garden has possibilities… definite possibilities.

single hook and line caught tuna

While I enjoyed going and certainly didn’t come away empty handed, there was a teeny tiny bit of disappointment that there wasn’t ‘more’.

It did feel a little sterile in there, and I really think some of the components could have been a bit more engaging. Pockets were wonderful, but still… I wanted that bit more. There is nothing I like more than being able to talk to the people behind the company finding out all the little details of how they started, where they source their ingredients or supplies, and where they are based. A generic “organic” labelling, isn’t good enough for me as I want to make a decision for a purchase based on a whole bunch more components.

It would also be great to see more locally based companies there. More sustainable living ideas, and things like that. Maybe they were more prevalent on the traders only day, and in following years as the show becomes bigger, more local companies will be enticed to show off their wares.

I hope so anyway.

Over all a happy morning out and now have a few new things to play with as well.

Mmmm, now what goodies shall I make with that black tahini?


Edit- Adding a few details about the Good Fish tuna that is pictured. It’s hand filleted skipjack tuna caught on one hook and one line. Which is much more sustainable than most commercial tuna catching methods. In Australia it’s imported through Olive Green Organics, through their site if you go to Brands, Good Fish and Stockists you should be able to find if it’s near you. Other countries, perhaps try contacting this same company and they could possibly point you in the right direction?

Alternately Fish 4 Ever is another company that does sustainably caught tuna as well.

the community garden

Our local council is trialing a new community food foragers garden. I really love the idea of this and hope that it takes off,  just getting bigger and bigger.

Imagine city living where on each high density living block there was a community kitchen garden readily accessible for all the locals. An attached community compost bin, for all those to access that didn’t have backyards. Seasonal food grown within a hop skip and a jump of where you live, with composting scraps being used for the same garden while decreasing all the food scraps being sent to land fill.

It doesn’t seem like a big ask, does it?

It just makes sense. Cutting back on waste having to be collected by council. Making more efficient use of space. Encouraging a community spirit. I’m sure on each block there would be at least a couple of willing people who would love to regularly tend the small edible space. If people are living in a high density living area, green spots are hard to come by and the chance to actually dip your fingers in to some soil and tend a little foliage would be incredibly appealing to a lot of inner city dwellers.

More green spaces in the city are needed. Whether it be roof tops, street corners, reclaimed concrete areas, where ever they may be. However,  first people need to ask for it, and be encouraging when trials are put into place. Be vocal, spread the good word. Whispered words of encouragement is what gets ideas moving. Spoken words and acts of enthusiasm keep them there.

If everyone’s local councils started up just one food foragers garden in their area, it was successful, and people respected the space. Surely this could mean the start of many more to come?

The benefits of a nation wide scheme like this?… Oh can you imagine.


Do you have any community gardens or food foraging gardens in your area?

Slow Living April

slowing it down…

(a wonderful concept created by the lovely Christine over at Slow Living Essentials)

it's not pretty but it fills happy bellies

Nourish– I’m loving a simple rustic family sized quiche once a week at the moment. A couple of sheets of puff pastry, (seems I got over that packet guilt rather quickly) beaten eggs and what ever looks appealing on the day. The Monkeys quiche of choice? Fetta and some free range bacon. Mr and Chocolate and I? Whatever seasonal vegetables that look particularly quiche like from our local CSA delivered box, (but lets be honest…he’d rather the fetta and bacon one too.)

Prepare– School lunches are particularly easy when all I have to do is whack one out of the freezer. Pesto parmesan scrolls and apple cinnamon ones are the taste of choice at the moment. They are also easy for a hungry mama to grab on the run.

Reduce– I’ve been putting aside some old worn out clothing. Rips, tears, thinning fabric, too big, too small. I’m sure I can turn them into something else. Just waiting for the inspiration as to what. I’ve also been incredibly lucky with receiving a whole bunch of wonderful little girl clothing. She will clearly have a whole heap of Monkey clothing to grow into but a small amount of pink as been infused into the mixture as well.

Green- Being economical with the oven use, and utilising all the racks when cooking. Also cooking bigger batches of things, and cluster cooking. (cluster cooking…. now there’s something to pop into you days vocabulary.) The worm farm is still going strong. The little fellas seem to have worked out their own little wormy balance and it requires very little maintenance.

Grow– I’m growing mould on my bathroom ceiling… does that count? No, no I guess not. I’m also growing my children, and they are growing like weeds!

Create– Making a little hat for a three year old girls birthday. Teddy wanted to model it, as my own residing three year old refused, (at least teddy keeps still.) I’ve also been playing with using vegetables as stamps and creating cards. It’s been fun playing with what works and what doesn’t.

Enhance- There is hooking action going on lately. I still suck, but I’m willing to learn as I want to get better. Hooking plans in the park or cafe with other hook yielding friends. A recent visit to this shop, just inspired the pants off me. (Thankfully they stayed on while I was in there as I didn’t want to scare anyone away.) Crochet and knitting classes I can see being a part of down the track, unless I really nut out the whole crochet thing by myself, (which seems unlikely to happen at this stage…sigh.) I’m still getting my Foodconnect box delivered too, it makes life just a tad easier.

Discover– I plan to become one with the above crochet book… that’s the plan anyway.

every man needs a penguin sinking into his cake

Enjoy- Mr Chocolate’s birthday, being with my little people, BLT’s in the back courtyard with family and enjoying the beautiful time of year that Autumn is.

love that festive bundle of sticks

Funny how a bundle of collected sticks, ribboned together and  a little tinsel with a few colourful baubles can make you feel happy.

It’s size appropriate for where we live. It’s environmentally friendly, and it took a gathering of just a few metres to put together.

Both Monkey Boy and Little Monkey decorated and just like that, smiles all around.

Excited little boy faces at the result. I’m also happy as it can serve its purpose and then get dismantled and thrown back outside…but more than anything, I’m happy because they are happy. No whimpers of why don’t we have a real tree, just pure excitement.

I loved them for that.

technology and torta tres leches

I had resisted for as long as I could, and I didn’t want to upgrade my mobile phone. My old one was perfectly fine for my rather small needs, and I really couldn’t justify upgrading just for the heck of it. The electronic landfill jungle didn’t need my contribution of a perfectly workable phone, just because I wanted a prettier one.

There had been quite a few comments of why don’t you just get a new phone, but I just solemnly shook my head.

The old girl isn’t dead yet, I would whisper. Not until she passes on, will I look for another.

Other’s phones came and went. Kids started playing with toy models that looked remarkably like mine. Still I refused. My old phone would sometimes reject messages and pictures that people would send me, as the older style just simply wasn’t compatible with today’s technology.

I still refused.

But then she started to falter. Two new re-chargers, some re-wiring from Mr Chocolate and she was good to go again. For another couple of months anyway. Then the charge started to take longer than what the phone could actually be used for.

Nope, not yet I would tersely whisper…

She isn’t dead.

The week finally came, and I noticed the phone was running a little hot. Not in a I’ve had lots of phone calls kind of way, but in an oh, that’s really hot to touch and I haven’t even been using you. Then the funny game of turning on and off every two seconds started, (which is probably why she was running a little hot.) Unusable, irretrievable and really annoying. I jigged, I fiddled, I let her cool down. Nothing worked. Five years ago I would have gone a lot longer without a mobile but these days it’s how so many people communicate, without access to one I kind of felt a little…nude.

The time had come, I succumbed.

With determination and a steely eye I headed to the phone shop. Blah, blah, blah from the sales man. His selling point wasn’t sure where to head when he enthusiastically told me all about using facebook on one particular phone. I hated facebook I told him.

Oh… well how about this one then? That one looks like an older model than the one that just firebombed my ear. Really?

What seemed like half a day later, I trotted out of the shop with a new contract and new phone in my hand. It looked decent enough, seemed to be able to do everything I wanted, and would sure to be saving me money in the long run , (NO, I didn’t really believe that selling point.)

So a new phone to fiddle with, I’m up to date (for at least a few months anyway) and contactable again.

Now I just had to work out how to use the damn thing, (luckily I had this simple Central American cake by my side to help me through it.)


Torta Tres Leches

4 egg yolks

1 egg*

150g (3/4 cup) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

225g (1 1/2 cups) s/r flour

50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

125mls (1/2 cup) milk


395mls condensed milk

120mls evaporated milk

120mls milk

60mls esspresso coffee

Cream eggs, sugar, vanilla, and milk together than mix in dry ingredients. Bake in a greased and lined square tin (approx 23cm) at 180C for about 30 minutes. Bake until golden in colour.

While cake is still hot, leave it in the cake tin, prick it all over with a skewer or fork then pour on the milk mixture. (Combine in a bowl, condensed milk, evaporated milk, milk and coffee together beforehand.)

Leave cake to soak up mixture in the fridge over night.

Serve with fresh seasonal berries or something else tasty, (depending on your season.)

* I happened to have 4 egg yolks which needed using, otherwise swap recipe for 4 eggs?

green hair

A few months back now, I had a little hair dilemma.

My head had decided it would no longer tolerate the stuff I was trying to wash my hair with. No. Instead my head decided to cover itself with painful red lumps that would only go away if I switched shampoos. Ok, so I had developed an odd little/big reaction to my normal shampoo that I had  been using for quite some time.  So I switched…and I switched….and then I switched some more. Nothing was quite right. All the ‘greener’ options either made my hair look the end of a fox’s tail (which is fine if that’s the look you are going for…but I wasn’t.) Or didn’t quite clean as I had hoped for, leaving hair greasy after consecutive washes.

What to do? What to do?

Then two lovely bloggers that I follow, (Multiple Mum and Bruise Mouse ) posted in the same week of using bicarbonate soda and apple cider vinegar for hair washing. It was a sign. I had nothing to lose but some greasy locks and a few painful lumps or two right?

I had read about this method a long time ago but hadn’t taken the plunge yet. I had also read that it might take a few days/weeks to adjust to the new method, but from my experience it was fine from the beginning. Actually it was more than fine. It was great! Clean hair, no residual smell, hair is soft, and has more oomph than it’s had in a long time. Swish, swish, swish…

The method I’ve been using is-

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda mixed with about 80mls of water to make a runny solution. I work that in to the roots and scalp then rinse out with water. I do it on dry hair initially as the bicarb doesn’t lather up at all and if it’s done on dry I can tell where I have ‘shampooed’.

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar mixed with about 700mls water poured over ends. Leave for a few minutes and then rinse out with water.

* Since starting this I have found these two combinations can be a little drying to my hair, so have worked out the best solution for me at the moment is to use regular conditioner alternately with the apple cider vinegar. 

A few weeks in after switching and the lovely Christine also posted on her method for conditioning using rosemary and apple cider vinegar here.

Three months later, and I couldn’t be happier. It is kind of funny that I use the same product for washing my hair, cleaning my bathroom and making my Anzac Biscuits, but hey…it works, and it works really well.


Now while I’m talking of green hair, let’s have a little peek at green hair removal, now I’m not talking of hair on the top of your head…

Hair. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Some people have it. Some people don’t.

Hair options are many.

Shaving, waxing, laser, threading, sugaring, epilation, depilation are some of the methods to take it all off.

Or you can simply grow it.

Hair removal options

Shaving– reusable razors with disposable heads or disposable plastic razors. The disposables make up a huge amount of plastic landfill each year. Hair starts growing immediately.

Waxing– Lots of different brands out there. Some plant based and some petroleum-based. Hair gets sparser as waxing continues. Cotton strips, plastic strips, wooden strips can all be used for slapping the wax on.

Laser– long term hair loss results. Lots of equipment used.

Depilation– creams that dissolve the hair with a whole lot of stinky chemicals at skin level.

Epilation– hair taken from just below the skin’s surface. Electronic or battery operated machines usually used.

So what are the ‘greenest’ hair removal options?

Sugaring-sugar waxing”, hair taken from the root using sugar, water and lemon juice or vinegar.

Threading– a piece of cotton used, takes the hair from the root level. (I love this one. Small thread of cotton a few twists and whoosh!)


Or simply…

Grow it– grow it and be proud.

just how hot is hot?

I did a post at the end of summer on my tiny gas metre box garden. Nothing flash. Just a few pots of greenery that keep me centred. The chilli plants happily flowered and grew, they even got through the Noah’s Ark of winter rain thrown at them. Then they turned red, actually they are still turning red. Slowly changing from subtle green, to come on- I dare you red.

Now when I planted these little fella’s I wanted something a little feisty. The packet said hot, actually it said piccante. It was an Italian heirloom variety. So anything labelled piccante, and I have high hopes.

Not gaspingly, oh for the love of god, find me a river and submerge my firey mouth.

 But, hey…Oooo, yep, that’s a bit hot right there.

Something like that anyway.

So they have been turning red, and I’ve slowly been collecting them on my kitchen window sill. A little fiery red mountain growing. Each day I wonder, just how hot they are.

these look like a completely different variety, but I'm sure they came out of the same packet.

Blueberries are also flowering. Last season there was just a tiny handful of flowers that seemed to take six months to actually develop the fruit. This year with quadruple the flowers, I’m hoping the fruiting doesn’t take quite so long.

Rosemary is also happy. I just have to remember not to remember it. It’s never happy when I give it too much love and attention. Neglect, and the odd whisper of I’m still watching you, and it seems to thrive.

There are some other pots as well that look empty, but have sleeping seeds in them. What’s in there though and I wouldn’t have a clue. I planted them one evening and then got rushed inside. Distracted for the next few days, I never quite made it back out to write what I had planted and where. So now, wouldn’t have a clue what was in there.

Never mind, who doesn’t like surprises….especially the plant kind.

Now, speaking of surprises, I think it might be time to find out just how hot that chilli really is…

Just how hot is hot?

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.