Tuesday, 5 June 2012

{living simply} some things I don't talk about

 {before any of you get excited; this isn't our house - it's my dad's house - the beautiful upstairs verandah with bamboo ceiling. And the downstairs entryway with those well worn bricks and the mud-brick style walls}

I've been thinking a bit lately about how we live, and how it probably differs quite a bit to how other people live.
I don't talk about it much, as really for me, it's part of who I am, and almost how I grew up - so it doesn't feel unusual or difficult or different for me. But I am very conscious of how it is for Sam and for my children, and for family and friends who come to visit us and have never experienced this way of living before.
So, I've decided that I might start sharing it here a bit more too.

The way we live on this little parcel of land isn't how we planned, or how we will always live here. But it's how we are living here right now, and have been for the past 16 months, and will continue to for some more time while our house building continues. But much of how we live is how we want to live - and will be a continual journey of slow and simple living.

Firstly - the no electricity thing. Yep, it's hard. It was romantic for the first few months, during Summer and the long evenings. But after some time, and then in Winter when the sun sets at 4.30pm. Well, it's a bit of a drag.
We live by torch light, and candles and little solar garden lights that we take outside to charge every morning, and bring inside every evening (they are more for ambient lighting, and act as little glow-bug / night lights for the children in these dark dark nights). We buy candles, and have also been making our own from the melted wax (I'll blog about that another time). We read our bedtime stories by torch, and in Winter time we cook dinner by candle or torch or good eyesight!

We have a battery powered radio - it doesn't last long if we play cds on it, so mainly we listen to whatever radiostation isn't fuzzy at the time.

We don't have tv, or a little dvd player. We have my one laptop computer (we did have two, but Sam's died a while ago). This means at night time we can sometimes either watch a (borrowed from the local library) movie or I have time for my blogging addiction, or doing online work. I charge my computer at my dad's house on most days - but not all days; those nights we have no computer at all.

We charge our mobile phones in our cars when we're driving to school or town. I take my charger and plug it in whenever and wherever I'm out and about, and I feel I'm not pushing the friendship too far...

We have a small gas fridge, it doesn't fit much, and freezes any vegetables we put in it. Luckily for Sam it keeps beer nice and icy! When we first moved here we used an esky and ice for at least 9 months - this was horrible and tedious. But it has taught us to only buy what we will eat and need for a few days, and not keep unnessecary food at the back of the fridge going bad and wasting electricity. (Go and look in your fridge - do you need everything in there? Do you really need a fridge that big?).

Prior to living here, we were never a high-energy consuming household. This is just a step further, and makes us realise we don't need as much as we ever use when it's at our finger tips to switch something on.

Perhaps you could try using your computer for as long as only a fully charged battery lasts. When it runs out, you have to turn it off - you can't plug it in and spend more hours blog-hopping, or pinning, or all those other things I used to do all hours of the night when I lived in Brisbane.

We spend more time reading or sitting and enjoying the quiet. We go to bed earlier, which means we have a better sleep and wake up earlier as well.

You could set yourself a little challenge to live in the dark for a few hours this week. Dinner by candle light is romantic, crochet by candle light is poetic. Get the kids involved too - reading bedtime stories by torch light is really fun; an adventure. I'd love to hear how you went - go on, it's not hard, just a challenge.
(and before you go to bed, go outside even in the rain the cold the snow to say goodnight to the moon, the stars, the sky, the night, the world). 


  1. I love, love, love hearing about how you live Ellie - it is absolutely fascinating - if I get around to blogging today I am going to mention it because it is soooo intensely interesting. So different to the way I live! Love Kate xxooxx.

  2. It's indeed fascinating, but...I am sure I can't do this for 2 days...Am I to spoiled?

  3. Hi Ellie,
    Thanks for filling us in on more of your way of life, I love hearing about it.

    My friend and I were cackling yesterday about the response she gets at work about the different kind of life she lives to her co-workers. I forget sometimes how abnormal it is to not have a tv or ever plan on getting one (us too). We use our laptop, but I love the idea you shared here about only using it until it runs flat. In the past I've also thought about literally having less light bulbs in the sockets. I have to admit that since we've moved out on our own it's come with a break on the energy consumption consciousness.

    Last year my husband and I went on a roadtrip for 6 weeks. Apart from short bouts in accomodation, we lived with 2 solar lamps, a gas stove and an esky without ice. While I wished that we had the tiniest of tiny eskies to keep just a couple of things cool, it was just excellent to live like this, without the option of turning on switches etc. I can see what you mean about long nights, winter and cold without electricity though!

    I guess this isn't completely foreign to me either. Mud brick houses, drop toilets and dark nights have a familiar place in my life as they take me back to visiting my family in Chile when I was a kid. Those who lived on the land didn't have electricity yet. It reaches them now, but back then was just the way of life. I'm quite keen to try more nights with solar lamps and candles. Will let you know how we go!


  4. I had no idea you'd made such a change Ellie! Even though it's a temporary one it's still pretty full-on... Maybe knowing that it's not forever does make it easier to approach as an adventure? Anyway, I think it's wonderful and would love to teach my kids about resources and consumables in this way (if only their mumma could stand it!) ;) Kx

  5. Your children are very fortunate. It sounds very formative for them - something they will always remember!

  6. Anonymous2:07 pm

    I can't imagine living without electricty, amazing how spoiled we are and how things can easily be taken for granted. Your life sounds romantic, but I'm sure at times it doesn't feel that way, like you say - in Winter! I would like to try to stay off the computer more, my blog addiction is something I both love and hate sometimes! The one thing that made my jaw drop Ellie was the esky and ice for 9 months. I don't blame you for not enjoying that part of what sounds like a fabulous and intriguing life. Thanks for sharing xx

  7. lovely! and true! sometimes when things are harder, it is then that we appreciate the small beauty in our everyday. stay warm my love, it is a cold night xxx

  8. What a fabulous way to grow up and to raise your own kids, Ellie. My ideal holiday destination is a shack where we live like this for a few days, and I never really feel like going back to real life. I lived for 5 years very simply, with electricity but without tv and most mod-cons. I loved eating food from my garden, collecting wood for the fire, water from the mountain spring etc.... I think our modern, "convenient" world has left us feeling somewhat dislocated from the natural world and all its cycles.

  9. I love this post.
    I am thinking so much about how much and how often we consume.
    We are trying so hard to go backwards instead of forwards.
    And I might just have to take you up on your challenge one day this week.
    Happy weekend gorgeous girlie. xx

  10. Anonymous4:40 pm

    Wow Ellie. It really gives me perspective on what you do accomplish given the time you have with electricity.

    I used to spend summers at my aunt's house - she did not have electricity. I loved dinners by candle light. Retiring early - what else is there to do in the dark? And doing dishes with a light powered by a car battery.

    Lots of warm thoughts to you.

    Amy (My Merry Way)

  11. Julie4:33 pm

    I've just found your blog and am loving it. Your post inspired us to switch off our power on friday after school. we played games together in front of the fire and had soup for dinner cooked in a pot on top. After we took the kids for a walk in the paddocks in the dark, they loved it so much they keep asking to do it again! Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  12. Wow!!! Truly inspirational :-)

  13. I have loved reading this post. I could live without electricity, have done so..but I do have a difficult time without water.
    I am going to read more..you are an inspiration and I have no idea how I ended up here, but I am thankful.

  14. Lovely! So jealous and loving the pics! Thank you for all of the lovely pictures and updates. I absolutely love your garden - orderly beauty!

    Luxform Tuinverlichting & Buitenverlichting


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