Thursday, September 6, 2012

Let your little light shine

The last few weeks we've been frantically buying up as many mandarins as we can, while they're still vaguely in season, since we learned how to make these adorable little mandarin lights, and became addicted to their warm glow around the house at night. 
Awwwwwwww... ain't it purdy?
The process for making them is super easy - all you need is a mandarin and a splash of olive oil. One of those things that made me wonder a. why everyone doesn't make these when the mandarins are plentiful and b. why it took me 34 years to learn how to make these little babies.
Mandarin candles drying on the window-sill
At the moment, as we are living without any electricity in the house, the mandarin lights, teamed with some beeswax candles, a gaslight (aka the "noisy light") and a head-torch for reading and skirt-making, have been our only light sources. It's actually been really beautiful, and has meant that we've been doing super-fun things like getting into bed really early each night and just lying there reading or chatting. 
The no-electricity thing has been way easier than we'd anticipated, and there have been some definite benefits to our family. And of course we have a generator for important things like angle-grinding and skirt-making. So I guess we're not really electricity-free at all...
Today I got an email from Phillip, the man who's making our solar system for us, letting us know that the system is now ready to be picked up and brought to us by Pearl's dad, who's making the trek down in the next couple of weeks. 
Our power unit - batteries in the bottom, circuits and what-not in the top. All totally weather-proof so we can just park it out the back of our little house and run a cable to the inside.
This was pretty exciting! Mostly for the following reasons:
1. We are absolutely desperate for some music!
2. It'll be nice to be able to have a light bright enough to craft or read by that doesn't roar.
3. I kinda miss being able to use my sewing machine.
4. It'll be good to be able to charge things like the computer and phone without having to schlep them into town and bludge off our friends' (thanks Vickie!) and employers' power supplies.
5. Pearlie's excited about being able to use the food processor, too,
and of course, last but not least, its going to feel gooooood to be free of the power grid.
The power system awaiting installation of the batteries and....
Batteries in!
When we moved here we were quoted $50 000 to connect to the power lines on our street. Given that this was more than the total budget for our little house, this was out of the question. And also why the cripes would we want to pay $50 000 just so we could pay electricity bills??? While we still lived in Sydney the prospect of off grid solar made us nervous. We didn't know anyone doing it and there seemed to be so much hoo ha around potential battery dramas. But once we were quoted the crazy sums required to connect to the grid we quickly got our heads around not connecting. Once we moved it seemed like every second person (not just hippies) we met had off-grid solar. And so we find ourselves beginning a new life where we are responsible for our own power (and water and waste and hopefully food..)
The system we're getting is small - 1.2kw. But it's more than enough to supply us with what we need. Especially now that we've lived without power for a month. It's really helped us to realise just how much we don't need, much like the whole tiny house shenanigans itself. We're diggin' it, but that doesn't mean that we're not looking forward to having this little baby parked out the back, a handful of solar panels on the roof, music and power drills crankin'. And it's arriving just in time for the end of mandarin season, too.
I love that they're using a power drill to 'model' the system


  1. Oh wow! Love those little lights. So you don't need a whick? just light the pithy bit in the middle? Can you do this with tangellos? We have a bowl full of those at the moment. Must try it. xx

  2. Hi Kim, yes the middle pith is the wick. I think you could do it with tangelos - hive it a go! such delicious aroma xx