wannabeahippy follower giveaway

To celebrate reaching 200 fans on the wannabeahippy facebook page, I'll be giving away some more soap. Any excuse for a celebration and to offload some more of this soap! I'm not trying to get rid of it because it's not good, I love it. But... being made from recycled oil, I have a constant supply which outstrips demand, and maybe, just maybe, some of you will try it, like it and want to make it yourselves.

It has lemon essential oil for a fresh fragrance and mild anti-bacterial action, lemongrass tea for fragrance and colour and chopped lemongrass and cane sugar for exfoliation.

If you think you would like to try some of this soap, just become a follower of or subscribe to this blog (buttons to the right) AND leave a comment on this post. In a few words, tell me what you would like to see on the wannabeahippy blog. Tutorials? Events updates? What's happening around my place? I'll pick a random comment using a random number generator and post the result here. Good luck guys!!

What to Plant: May

Lyn Bagnall, published writer of the book "Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting" has a fantastic post on plants to start growing in May, based on your local climate, seasons and phases of the moon. There are also some general gardening reminders for Autumn. Check out her "What to grow in May 2010" post.

Continue on with the  fertilising, pruning, weeding, dividing from April, and start taking some cuttings for brand new free plants! Right now is always the perfect time to start your kitchen garden.

Rescue Hen Update!

The little rescue hens I got a couple of weeks ago (second group) from the Battery Hen Adoption Program were in very poor condition - a good reminder about the conditions we are actively supporting by buying cage eggs. They were pale, almost featherless, struggling to stand and walk, and generally sad little creatures. It breaks my heart to think of animals treated as egg producing machines like this. You can see the oppression in their eyes.

Well, they are still in poor condition a few weeks on, still resembling scrawny, half plucked roasting chickens, but they are much happier little girls. We've seen sunbaking, dustbathing, scratching and scrap eating in excess. A few were so confused about what to do first, they would lie down with their featherless wings up to catch the sun and have their heads in the scrap bowl, eating at the same time. Such extravagance! Grass is still a bit of a mystery, but the kitchen scraps are being gobbled up in no time. Dirt was a totally new and very interesting substance to have on their feet!

The first group are being less than hospitable and behaving like spoilt brats (and they are just that). Regardless, they are all beginning to blend together and become friendly. They have a lot of life left to live in chooky retirement on the mountain!

If you are able to adopt some hens or donate to the cause, please visit the website at Homes For Hens.

Recycled Newspaper Pots Tutorial

Here is a free, quick and easy project to use up old newspapers and recycle them into pots that can be used to germinate seeds, strike cuttings, or to pot up seedlings. They'll reduce your garden start up costs and the best part is that they can be planted straight into the garden, meaning no root disturbance for the plant. The plants roots will grow through the paper and they will eventually rot away or be eaten by worms. If you use a thicker paper, just tear away and compost the paper before planting.

There are special kits being marketed to make pots like these, but they are absolutely unnecessary. Just use materials you already have on hand. Generally newspapers these days are printed with soy-based inks so using them for vege and herb seedlings is fine, but it's better to use the black and white sections just to be sure.

What you'll need: newspaper, a glass or jar, scissors or ruler to tear paper, compost or seed raising mix.

How to do it:
Fold or tear paper into an oblong and wrap around bottle.


Leave a few cms of paper overhanging the end of the bottle.


Fold in the edges underneath the bottle.



Fold over the top edge to secure the paper in place.


Fill with compost, and you're ready to go! It's best to keep them in a container to retain moisture and to stabilise the pots.

Variations: Use old phone books, junk mail, flyers or any paper that is unbleached and non-glossy. If you are uncertain of the inks used, or if it has been chemically bleached, use the paper pots to grow non-edibles to be planted in an ornamental garden. Use glasses, tubes, pipes, cans, jars etc to roll the paper around. Different sized pots are useful for different applications.

Going Green Expo - Melbourne

When: 30th April - 2nd May, 10am-6pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am-5pm Sunday
Where: Melbourne Exhibition Centre at Southbank
How much: $15 ($12 online) for adults, $10 ($8 online) for concession, kids under 18 free.

Focusing on green solutions, ideas and products to help individuals and businesses reduce their environmental footprint, reduce carbon emissions, reduce the threats of climate change and save money in the process. There will also be competitions, prizes, special expo discounts, and giveaways. Visit the Going Green Expo for a free Australian Native Plant Guide.

There will be products, information and demonstrations on:
  • Argricultural & Permaculture Products & Systems
  • Sustainable Design & Consulting Services
  • Biodynamic Farming & Produce
  • Building Products, Sustainable Homes & Commercial Solutions
  • Carbon Audits, Trading & Offset Programs
  • Chemical Free Products,
  • Commercial Sustainability Management & Consulting Services
  • Commercial Environmental Solutions
  • Community Services & Programs
  • Domestic & Household Replacement Products & Solutions
  • Education, Information & Resource Organisations
  • Electrical & Lighting Solutions & Technology
  • Energy Management & Renewable Energy Alternatives to Reduce Greenhouse
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Environmental Auditing & Accreditation
  • Environmental Management Systems
  • Environmental Services, Urban Design & Consulting
  • Environmentally Responsible Food & Beverage Products
  • Ethical Investment & Financing
  • Fair Trade Products
  • Green Gardening
  • Government Departments & Planning Authorities
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Industry Associations & Community Organisations
  • Media, Marketing & Advertising Service
  • Natural or Organic Products & Producers
  • Non Toxic Products
  • Non For Profit Organisations
  • Office Products, Print, Paper & Packaging
  • Personal Goods, Clothing & Textiles
  • Plants, Flora & Fauna Consulting Services
  • Recycling & Waste Technology
  • Recycled Products
  • Seminars, Book Launches
  • Solar Products & Services
  • Transport Alternatives
  • Water Conservation Products, Services & Technology

Herb Awareness Weekend - Brisbane

The Queensland Herb Society will be holding its annual Herb Awareness Weekend at Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens on 8th - 9th May from 9am - 4pm.

You can expect:
  • Information on a large range of medicinal and culinary herbs.
  • Large variety of stalls featuring preserves, coffee, teas, spices, skincare, bush foods, and plants for sale.
  • CafĂ© Sage will be open, serving home baked herb inspired food and beverages.
  • Colin Campbell will be a guest speaker and signing copies of his book on Saturday morning.
  • Free demonstrations and talks on herbal medicine, workshops on growing your own herbs, cooking with herbs, demonstrations and gardening tips.
Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for concession card holders. Maps and directions are available here.

Fryer Oil Soap

As if frying food in F A T isn't shameful enough, after a few uses you're left more than a couple of dollars out of pocket and with litres and litres of oil to dispose of. Oil being one of the worst pollutants of land and water - one litre of oil will contaminate over one million litres of water - it's essential to dispose of it properly, or to recycle it into something useful again. So what about soap? That uses oil, but - does anyone really want to 'wash' themselves with fish and chip fragrance? Hmm.

So I tried it out as an experiment, and reasoned that if it smelled strange, it could become an 'outside' soap to wash off greasy boy hands and muddy child feet. Well knock me down, there is no aroma reminiscent of a dodgy fish & chip shop, and the lemon essential oil held it's scent really well.

The oil I use for frying is a canola blend, so I added some coconut oil (copha) to harden the soap. I filtered the oil through a couple of layers of paper towel. The 'water' component was made with a lemongrass tea, and the lemongrass added back into the soap at the end as an exfoliant. I used organic lemon essential oil at a 3% concentration.

So if you're a fellow fat fryer and would like to give it a go - here is the recipe!

Lemony Lemongrass Soap
2900g canola oil
750g copha
500g caustic soda (sodium hydroxide)
1000g water (or tea)
100g lemon essential oil

The instructions for making the soap are in this soap tutorial. The water/tea in this recipe takes the place of the milk. For information on caustic soda/sodium hydroxide/lye check out the post on it here. Happy soaping!

What to Plant: April

Planting reminders for April are now up on Gardenate. Just choose your climate zone from the drop down list for a table of plants good to be sown now, and what to get prepared for May. You can also sign up for reminders to be emailed to you every month to keep your kitchen garden growing year round.

Autumn is also the time to grow flowering plants to attract insects that will prey on aphids, grubs, spider mites and scale and assist with pollination. Try using edible plants such as calendula, nasturtium, dill, coriander, basil, parsley, chives, sage, lemon balm and viola for dual purpose growing.

Prune back dead and diseased wood to promote lush new growth. Be carefuel to never prune back more than about 1/3 of the total plant size.

Plant growth is starting to slow down now that the weather is cooling off but the roots will still be growing in the warm soil so it's time to feed plants and lawn with an organic fertiliser to build up strength over winter.

Clumping plants can be divided and replanted, sickly plants can be transplanted or composted (make sure they're aren't diseased) and messy areas tidied up.

Take advantage of the cooler weather and the long weekends to make this year your best gardening year yet!

Herb of the Month: Parsley

The two main varieties of parsley (continental flat leaf and curly) are widely used in the culinary world. What would a seafood buffet or the butcher shop window be without sprigs of parsley scattered everywhere? The plant will generally live for two years, although the second year is mainly concentrated on flowering and seed production. Leaving a few of the flower heads go to seed will mean a self-perpetuating parsley garden, and no more buying seeds annually! Parsley is perfect to use as a garden border or planting in pots for your organic container herb garden. Don't bother with dried parsley or the dead and dying bunches from the supermarket - in a few weeks you'll have your own fresh parsley to pick as you need.

Sowing: Sow thickly direct in garden, or several seeds in each cell of a seedling tray. Plant from mid-Spring to early Autumn in rich, freely draining soil in a warm sunny place.

Germination: Can be sporadic and slow (up to 3 or 4 weeks), but watering in gently with boiling water or soaking seeds overnight before sowing ensures faster and more consistent results. Covering with a thin layer (about 1cm) of very fine organic seed raising mix will also help new plants push through to the surface. Keep soil moist but not wet - a seed raising container with a clear lid is great for holding moisture and warmth.

Growing: When seedlings are well established, thin out, leaving only the strongest plants 10-20cm apart. Water well with an organic seaweed solution or compost tea to promote strong root growth and minimise stress on remaining plants. Top dress with organic compost and mulch.

Harvesting: Nip out selected leaves with fingers or sharp scissors, being careful not to disturb the roots. The best part is the more you pick, the denser the plants will become.

Uses: Most commonly seen scattered haphazardly over food as a garnish, parsley is useful for so much more. Use in sauces, salads, stews, egg dishes, tomato dishes, herb crumbs for meat, risottos etc etc. Chewing on a sprig of parsley will freshen breath and remove heavy odours like garlic and curry. It is known to be a diuretic, an anti-cancer agent and for aiding kidney and heart function. It is high in potassium, vitamin c and available calcium.

The best time to sow parsley throughout most of Australia is now, so grab some seeds at the store, or order online and get planting!

Small Spaces: Container Herb Gardens

Officeoriginair for Royal VKB

Starting a container garden is an ideal way to maximise growing space in a small backyard or balcony. Even if you can only fit in a few herbs, you'll avoid being subjected to buying the prepackaged bunches of lifeless slops at the supermarket. And it's SO easy! You just buy the plants, buy the pot, buy some potting mix, plant the herbs, water them in. Done! Anyone can do it! Instant gratification at it's peak.

Buuuut, if you would like your herbs to survive, and you even have the audacity to expect them to thrive, read on. There's a whole lot more to guaranteeing the survival of your newest edible garden members.


Your personal situation: If you travel a lot, or are lacking in the memory department (aren't we all?), or any other reason why your plant might be neglected of water and attention, you might be better off choosing either a self watering pot, a really B I G pot, or a herb that will thrive on neglect like Rosemary.

Location: Choose where you would like to have your pot, and choose plants accordingly. If you have a dark, cool spot, then you'll be quickly met with disappointment if you planted something like basil. If you're looking to fill a large container, make sure all the plants you choose share the same interests, lest they get bored with each other and jump ship. You wouldn't want the rosemary drowning while the mint's lusting for more liquids.

Watering: Again, you need to be aware of the individual plants you're growing. On the most part, herbs don't like to be sitting in wet soil. Plants like parsley will rot off at the base in no time at all. You'll see the leaves yellowing, leaves dropping and some erectile dysfunction. And that's sad for everyone. At the same time, as we all know, dry soil is a killer for the non-hardy herbs.

Feeding: If you expect to be feeding from your plants, you'll need to feed them too. Potting mixes are mostly horrible like that. Mixing an organic slow release fertiliser and some well rotted compost in with the potting mix is a good start. Container gardens also lose a lot of nutrients because of watering - all the goodies end up spilling out onto the ground. Regular watering with a liquid fertiliser or worm 'tea' will keep them going.

Design: The fun part! Mess around with textures, colours and height. Groups of three, five, seven etc are more attractive to the eye. Try variegated and coloured varieties or edible flowers like nasturtiums. Think about the herbs you actually use the most, and some new ones to experiment with. If they'll be near a doorway, try ones that will smell yummy when it's brushed against. Chocolate mint comes to mind...


Making Compost

What gardener doesn't understand the feeling of satisfaction when topping up the garden beds, or planting new seeds into moist, dark compost. What used to be household or garden waste ordinarily destined for landfill, is now the life force of an organic garden. What was once alive, is now enabling life to continue on.

Compost doesn't take up much space, and can look tidy even in a small backyard. There are several methods for making compost including commercially made tumbling compost bins, stand alone bins, open compost heaps directly on the ground or even in the form of a worm farm. Many councils will sell compost bins and worm farms at reduced rates to encourage home recycling, so it is worthwhile checking with them before purchasing a bin.

This is a 200L compost bin made by Tumbleweed. It's neat and tidy, compact, and made in Australia from 100% recycled plastic.


If your space is too tiny to house any of these methods, it's worth checking with your local council or tip to see if they provide a green waste composting service. Many will take in green waste free of charge, then for a small fee will let you take away as much as you like to use in your garden or pot plants.

If you are able to make your own compost, you have the advantage of knowing everything that went into it. Ideal ingredients include kitchen scraps, paper, cardboard, grass clippings, prunings, shredded garden waste, animal manures, tea bags, coffee grounds, wood ash, even hair and dust from the vacuum cleaner. Basically if it used to be living, it will make great compost. Ingredients to avoid are meats, cooked foods, glossy paper, dog/cat poo, and any plant material that was diseased or weeds likely to grow and spread again eg couch grass.

All you need to do is create layers in the heap, alternating dry/brown materials (carbon) with green/wet (nitrogen), make sure it can be aerated by tumbling or turning with a fork, remains moist but not wet, and allow it some time to work its magic.

Wannabeahippy has been amazingly slack in setting up the compost, but is finally in the process of setting it up as we speak! Photos and step by step tutorial coming very soon!

Relocalisation - Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

What is "relocalisation"? Basically, relocalisation is a strategy being used to build communities that rely predominantly on local food, renewable energy, transport etc and revolves around sustainable, self-sufficient practices. By using local knowledge, expertise and experience, communities are able to strengthen the local economy, build community resilience to issues such as peak oil and oil price spikes, reduce the effects of climate change, and increase security in energy and food supply.

As our demand for cheap oil continues to increase and oil production supply peaks and declines, it is obvious that there will be shortages and drastic price spikes at best. Needless to say, prices on all of our oil-based products, which are more widespread than most people realise, will increase substantially. Think fuel, diesel, LPG, polyester, antihistamines, synthetic clothing, dentures, shampoo, aspirin, synthetic fertilisers, lipstick, detergents, paint, refrigerants, your computer, even food additives and preservatives. Can you really see yourself just popping down to the shops for some milk when fuel is at $9/l?

Needless to say, we're going to have to get used to living without such a heavy reliance on oil. How smoothly the transition process evolves is completely up to us. By relocalising, we will be killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. All of our basic everyday needs can be secured within the local community, reducing reliance on oil and at the same time, significantly reducing our carbon emissions. Peak oil and climate changed are addressed at the same time.

There have been a number of working models implemented across the world to address both climate change and peak oil. The Transition Network has been developing step by step transition iniatives for groups to implement in their own communities, which include education and training, help with handling opposition, connections with other Transition Towns, and practical projects.

There is so much we can all do, and you can be involved as little or as much as you like. Do you want to be a part of the group spearheading this movement? To get involved or to see if there is a Transition Town near you, jump over to their website here. We hope to see you there.

Blog Announcement

Over the next few weeks there will be some changes in content on wannabeahippy. We'll be focusing more so on frugal, sustainable and practical ideas and information to simplify our lives and reduce our reliance on oil-based energies. I'll include information on the local Transition Town initiative, relocalisation and build a bank of resources and links.

Food related posts will now be posted on a new sister site at wannabeafoody. All the food posts have been copied and all new recipes and tutorials will be found there from this point on. We'll be looking at ways to reduce the purchase of over-priced, over-packaged, over-processed junk foods, and looking at simple, cheap and healthy ways to feed the family on any budget. The aim of this site will be to build a basic set of skills, gain a repertoire, and basically to get people back in the kitchen.

So pop over and have a look, let us know what you think and stay tuned!

The 10 Little Red Rescue Hens

They've arrived! On the 20th of March, I drove up to the Northside of Brisbane to pick up the little battery girls. They are in infinitely better condition than most of their fellow inamtes and have adapted to their new life in record time. After the 1 hour drive to their home among the treetops, they were removed from their respective boxes - 10 chickens, 3 eggs total. These little girls couldn't stop laying if they tried - years of intensive breeding programs coupled with super high protein feed, climate controlled sheds and artificial lighting programs guarantee thousands upon thousands of financially cheap eggs.

The first glimpse of their surroundings must have been mind boggling. They had never seen dirt, grass, trees, the sky, sunshine, other animals or open spaces. A few were struggling to take their first steps, and quickly tired with the exertion - but continued laying eggs. After a few days their strength and personalities were shining through.

11 days on and we have some crazy girls! Sunbathing and scratching were the first instincts to be ignited, and they are mighty proficient at both now. The nomadic bush turkeys that wander through the yard are now escorted out with much cackling, speed and excitement. By around 6am each morning they are lined up at the gate, complaining loudly and donning their most pathetic facial expressions because they haven't been let out to free range in the yard.

If you are able to re-home some of these little sweeties, (and it is sooo worth it, even for your own sense of goodwill) please visit the Battery Hen Adoption Program website. If you aren't able to keep some chooks of your own, you can still help their cause by choosing free range eggs and meat. Supporting our free range farmers is essential in keeping hens out of tiny cages. And guess what? Eggs are on the list of things I don't have to buy!

Returning after an extended hiatus!

Hi everyone (those of you who are still with me!), firstly I'd like to apologise for being so damned slack in the last year (I'd like to pretend it hasn't been that long) and not posting a single thing. Secondly, after having a personal break to get some perspective back in life, I'm ready to get back into this thing and get crackin'!

News from the last year: the wannabe hippy has moved on up (literally) in this world is now living amongst the mists and rainforests of Mt Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland. "The green behind the gold" is blessed with rich volcanic soil, high rainfall levels, earthworms the size of snakes and an extended growing season due to the mild climate.

The community is very tight knit with a strong focus on relocalisation and conservation of the surrounding environment. Mt Tamborine has just become an official Transition Town and you can read more about that on their very own website here.

The vege gardens are still in the process of being built, although I am lucky enough to have a herb garden (more of a jungle), a "Thai/Indian" garden with ginger, turmeric, curry tree and a few asparagus and comfrey plants thrown in for good measure.

The much anticipated 'rescue hens' will be arriving on the 20th of this month. The poor little battery girls are whisked away from death row by a lovely group of people, to be rehomed to live out the rest of their days in luxury. I can't wait to meet them and start a mini photo blog of their progress.

That's about all for now, I hope everyone has had a safe and happy year and I look forward to reconnecting with you all again.