Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movin' on Over

Kia ora Eco-Thrifty Reno loyal followers. If you have not surfed over to our new and expanded blog, who not today? Peace, Estwing

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New and Expanded Blog

Hi New Zealand Lifestyle Block readers,

We have shifted to a new and expanded blog. Please have a look:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We have moved

Hello friends,

Please make your way over to our new, expanded blog:

In the meantime, here is a Letter to the Editor I wrote about our Council's apparent lack of sense.

I know you are all probably tired of this, but I just find it so frighteningly tragic/comic that I must share another chapter of our ongoing Castlecliff beach saga. What follows is not opinion or conjecture, but verifiable observation.

A month after Council resurfaced one parking area that no one uses, heavy equipment working to remove wind-blown sand has damaged another parking area that people do use. Next, the sand moved by the giant digger on a windy day blew straight back and blocked the entrance to Duncan Pavilion. Now, less than two days later, sand is filling the car park again. Meanwhile, Council promotes us as a “Smart Community.”

Caption: The steel treads from an excavator have damaged the parking area at Castlecliff beach, while sand blows back into place less than 48 hours later. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Looking Back - Looking Forward

Kia ora koutou, and especially our registered followers.

As we transition into 2014 we have some updates to provide 'all-y'all'. We have combined and expanded our various blogs into one place with something for everyone: eco-thrifty renovation; eco-thrifty gardens and yard (permaculture); eco-thrifty baby; and, eco-thrifty wedding.

So please surf on over to:

But for today, here is a cool look back over the last three years at changes to our home and our "front yard."

Peace, Estwing

Day one.

After one year.

Barren front 'yard.'

Community garden takes form.

Stone car park and wind netting. 

Getting the bigger picture.

Trim below eaves has been painted. (Compare to previous pic)

Driftwood landscaping - around year 3.

Community garden pumping this summer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mid-Summer Permaculture Update

Here are some images of our productive permaculture property during the first and second weeks of January. Highlights include our first apricots, first olives, and first kumara plants.

Beans, tomatoes, plums and apricots.

Our first pumpkins are ready.

Kumara: a new experiment.

Hiding this iron fence with driftwood.

Our first olives forming.

Agapanthus flowering everywhere.

Pears coming along. 

Monty's Surprise apples. 


Black Boy peaches. So excited. 


A very attractive lettuce. 

Pretty cool mottling. 

Peace, Estwing

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Coastal Design Influence

I love our Whanganui coast. I take the short walk from our home to the Tasman Sea nearly every day, sometimes two, three and four times. It has gotten to the point where my wife has accused me of bringing half the coast home with me in the form of sand in my jandals and driftwood over my shoulder.

Driftwood board rack.

When I walk on the beach with my daughter, Verti, we make a special effort to pick up all of the litter we can find. By 14 months, she could spot a Cody’s can from 20 metres.

Way back before she was born, before I started writing this column, and even before our first visit from the building inspector, Dani and I embarked on our first and perhaps best beach clean-up effort. It was Christmas 2010, and a dead goat had washed up on Castlecliff Beach, where it lay sunbathing for two days at the high tide line and three metres outside of the swimming area flags.

After the first day I thought to myself, “That smells.”

After two days I thought to myself, “I can’t believe someone hasn’t removed it.”

On the third morning, I thought out loud to my wife, “Get the wheelbarrow and follow me.”

To make a long story short, we headed to the beach with the wheelbarrow, a tarp, two shovels, and a video camera. We collected the carcass and brought it home to our active compost heap. Within a week it was down to bones, but the video has yet to make it to Youtube. The “goat story”, as it has come to be known, is oft repeated when I am introduced by certain of our friends to certain of their friends.

Driftwood hat rack.

That day over three years ago was the start of my ongoing relationship with our beautiful coastal zone. Since then, the relationship has developed with every walk along the sand, every wave surfed at the North Mole, and every armful of driftwood.

In the latter stages of our renovation, driftwood has become more of a design element in our attempt to meld a classic villa with a beach bach in a way that honours both while spoiling neither. Sounds like a job for Terry Lobb, but in my unprofessional hands I think things have turned out fine.

Driftwood headboard.

Despite what my wife says, there are still some rooms in our home without driftwood, although that may not be the case much longer after my recent venture into headboard making. Previous to the headboard, my indoor driftwood projects had been limited to surfboard racks, coat/hat/key racks, children’s toys, artwork, and our Christmas tree.

Verti's play scarves hanging in her room.

Outdoor projects are another thing entirely. I’ll get to those another day.

 Peace, Estwing

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013: Year of Eco-Thrifty

It was a close competition, and the results have been delayed, but it is finally confirmed that 2013 was the Year of Eco-Thrifty.

Runners-up include: The Year of Pete & Andy; The Year of Obama’s embarrassments; The Year of Sonny Bill; and, The Year without defeat (All Blacks).

Eco-Thrifty narrowly beat out Pete & Andy due a strong cast that included Lorde, Macklemore, and Francis (aka, ‘da pope’).

Lorde (Auckland’s Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor) became the first New Zealander to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single, “Royals.” According to various sources (including Wikipedia), she wrote the song in response to the opulence celebrated in much of hip-hop and rap music, including big, expensive cars, expensive alcohol, and the obligatory “bling.”

If the lyrics in “Royals” slipped your attention, then the lyrics and beat of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop Song” surely didn’t. Although the song experienced heavy rotation on Whanganui radio for only a month or two before falling off the radar, its rotation was very heavy.

Macklemore, too, takes the piss out of consumer culture (and R. Kelly) by ridiculing those who would purchase a t-shirt for $50 (US), when one could outfit oneself from head to toe at an op shop for $20 and “look incredible.”

They be like, "Oh, that Gucci - that's hella tight."
I'm like, "Yo - that's fifty dollars for a T-shirt."
Limited edition, let's do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt - that's just some ignorant @#$%

This is, in my opinion, hands-down the best profanity-filled song of the millennium.

Coppin' it, washin' it, 'bout to go and get some compliments
Passin' up on those moccasins someone else's been walkin' in
Bummy and grungy, @#$% it, man
I am stuntin' and flossin' and
Savin' my money and I'm hella happy that's a bargain, @#$%

As would be suspected from a pope, Francis sends his eco-thrifty message with less profanity, but his words have been called profane by those who wish to maintain the status quo in the Catholic Church. Gone is the opulence of previous popes, and in steps a man of humility unafraid to challenge the devastating effects of wealth inequality around the world.

Conspicuous displays of wealth are in almost every case the antithesis of eco-thrifty. Instead of the win-win-win situations I write about that save money while being good for people and the planet, I would describe them as lose-lose-lose. Specifically, opulent lifestyles often waste money while having large environmental impacts. Additionally, research shows a strong correlation between wealth inequality and social problems (The Spirit Level, Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009).

While Francis’ courage undoubtedly upsets the wealthiest 1%, it has surely boosted the morale of the poorest 50% of global citizens be they Catholic or not. It appears he has taken seriously the teachings of an earlier proponent of eco-thrifty lifestyle, Jesus, instead of embracing the power and prestige of The Church. Good on you, Frank.

And finally, the Light Bulb Moment Award for 2013 goes to the Wanganui District Council for finally recognizing that running eight light bulbs outdoors on sunny days was neither eco nor thrifty. WDC is also the recipient of the Kicking-and-Screaming Award for the same action (turning off outdoor lighting during the day) because it took over three years and four columns in the Chronicle to get Council to take action.

But as a wise person once said, “Better late than never.” Let’s hope that 2014 finds WDC coming to the table on time.

 Peace, Estwing

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Permaculture Update

Here are some pictures of our pumping permaculture property.

Good eats

A lettuce crop where I harvested garlic just 2 weeks ago. 

More on the vine

Bawberries, as Verti would say.

Looking forward to our first grapes this year.

Mo bawberries pwees.

Pumpkins forming.

Another cubic metre of compost.

Spuds in the ground.

"Wild" purslane.

Kittens next door.

A little colour.

Bean blossoms.

Bean blossoms.

Bean blossoms... fooled you. Apples.



Melons in the ground. Hopefully it will be hot enough for fruits to form. 

Red hot chilly peppers - blossoming.

Our first oranges.

Guava fruits forming from fertilized flowers.

Dinner tonight.

Dinner tonight.

Peace, Estwing