Monday, July 2, 2012

Light in the Dark

Did you know if you take the flesh out of an orange or grapefruit and leave the centre pith behind, you can fill it with vegetable oil and use the pith as a wick (be warned the pith takes a bit of lighting) and make a wonderful orange candle.

Remarkably the orange candle will burn for hours, even more remarkably you can refill it with oil and burn it again. If you are ever caught without candles but have citrus, you now know how to make a very effective lantern.  It actually burns quite clean and bright. An excellent school holiday project.

 This ruby grapefruit gave off a wonderful red glow and the oil preserved the skin for weeks.

I recently made orange lanterns for our school's winter solstice night.  Unfortunately, I forgot the camera to take pictures on the night. I also was so busy I didn't have time to be patient and get them all lit.  Don't you hate that! Fortunately, Christine, at Slow Living Essentials remembered hers, check out our schools wonderful winter solstice night here. It was a huge amount of work, but lots of fun on the night. We cancelled holding the event on the actual night of the solstice as it was raining and miserable, but rescheduled it for the following week.

I was a little busy on the day of the solstice event, so I'm not surprised something was forgotten. I was whizzing up the pumpkin soup we had made with the school kids from the school grown pumpkins, making mulled wine, gathering up our solar lights to help decorate the shed, getting together cups, the oranges and our ice luminaries. And caring for a three year old. The solstice night is a parent driven event, and I love it that our school is generous enough to let us run wild with our ideas, and free minded enough to let us have a bonfire and candle lanterns. There was story telling, and drumming, and a parade, and wood fired pizzas, and mulled wine, and soup, and hot chocolate, and a lot of smiling faces on a night when most of us would like to be bunkered down indoors with a blanket and a cup of tea.

The little Bowerbird had a great time helping me make ice luminaries and they really sparkled when lit up. It is quite fun watching them gradually turn into a puddle as well. First we gathered seeds, leaves and flowers from the garden. So lucky that our winter garden still holds a myriad of flowers.

We found a pretty cake tin and popped a jar inside.  We then filled the tin with water, which makes the jar float. Some rocks were placed in the jar to weigh it down.

A paintbrush helped poke the flowers into place. This activity kept the little one occupied for ages. Busy making it look just so.  She loved making them so much we ended up creating three. The luminaries were fully frozen overnight. To remove the luminary from the tin just dip it in some luke warm water. Finally, take out the rocks, add a candle, and light the luminary.

As I said I forgot the camera so no pictures of the final result, but to get an idea of how they look when lit, and to see where I got the idea from, visit Shivaya Naturals. She has made some beautiful sun catchers I'm also tempted to make. If only we had some sun to catch. Soooo cold here today, feeling every draught in our old house tonight. I'm hoping we might get some snow this week, it definitely feels chilly enough.


  1. Those are the coolest candle ideas! As a complete and total pyromaniac, I'm gonna have to give those a try... especially the citrus lamps.

    The solstice celebration sounds absolutely wonderful! It must be sort of nice to live in a place where the winter solstice is completely separate from Christmas. I imagine it makes people more open to the idea of celebrating the changing seasons instead of just the religious holiday. Here winter solstice is absorbed into Christmas and summer solstice gets merged into 4th of July, so only the true die-hards ever celebrate either one!

  2. I just didn't get this until I read again. I missed the whole ice step and that they had to be frozen. Now I get it.

    1. yes it was written a bit shorthand - added a step thanks mum


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young