Archive | April 2011

Peace Corps Timeline Update…Home Stretch?

We received an email yesterday from our Placement Specialist who would like to set up a time for a placement phone call. We are THRILLED and have been waiting for someone to contact us since we were medically cleared and then asked to send in updated resumes earlier this week.

We will be speaking with the Placement Specialist early next week – I don’t think we’re going to be able to sleep a wink until then. {See countdown until the call to the right!}

To give you an idea of how long our journey has been so far, read below for our updated timeline. We hope we’re in the home stretch and just one more update away from knowing where we will be placed. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for us!

Peace, Mari & Paul


MAY 27



NOMINATIONS! {For August 2011}







MAY 03

Video Work in Progress

Fixer Upper – Phase 1

Although we love Charlie just the way he is (the Camper Van AND the person), we have been making some changes and improvements to make him just right (the Camper Van NOT the person!). Boy are we sore! Mari & Paul

Here’s a list of what we’ve done so far:

  • New license plates
  • Made new curtains (see earlier post)
  • Ordered new upholstery for the front seats
  • Reversed the pop-up top (it was inside-out!)
  • Dismantled the old cabinets and removed the sink
  • Ripped out the carpeting and bought new carpeting
  • Removed the old backseat and cushions and ordered new ones
  • Removed the old door panels and bought new ones
  • Sent the new door panels to be upholstered
  • Ordered new cabinets with stove and sink
  • Removed all headliners to be replaced
  • Replaced the old radio with a new one
  • Installed a 12V charger on the dash
  • Added a secondary battery

New Curtains for Charlie

If you were looking for me last week you could probably find me in the sewing room creating these new curtains for Charlie. I got the fabric from none other than Hobby Lobby and it is outdoor fabric that is fade and water resistant. Woohoo!

My favorite color combination is black & white and Paul picked out the material. I think they look pretty good. Peace, Mari

Medically Cleared for the Peace Corps

Yesterday we finally heard that we have both been medically cleared for the Peace Corps. Mari and I are elated after so much waiting and now only have to wait for a call from our Placement Officer. Our biggest concern was that some technicality would hold up our application or we would hear back from the office at the last possible moment – the minimum notice is only 6 weeks before the proposed departure. Our nomination is for a departure in August.

Mari received a voicemail in the morning and quickly called back and left a message. Mari didn’t want me to leave the room in case the medical office called again as they had questions for us both. Our high tech compromise was walkie-talkies so that I could then head out to the back yard to work on Charlie our camper van. Minutes later I hear a squawk on the receiver and a very excited voice, “she’s calling now, back to the house.” The requests were easy to address, one page was missing from the packet and another section was left blank.

For those not familiar with the process it may appear to be a rather small step to pass a medical physical. However, the truth is that many strong candidates get rejected due to relatively minor medical reasons. Much like the legal hold I had on my own application, which was lifted only last week, it was outside my control.

We are happy to finally feel movement after so much waiting! Next step is placement. Keep you posted.


One Year Anniversary

Yesterday was the one year anniversary since Paul proposed! Here’s the video again of how it all happened. Enjoy! xo, Mari & Paul

Bunny Cake How-To

Growing up in a family with a Jewish Mom and Catholic Dad we celebrated many holidays. In the spring, Easter and Passover would often overlap creating an interesting dilemma. While we spent Passover with the **Rich Family** we usually spent Easter with our cousins on my father’s side. Making a Bunny Cake together became a tradition for me and my mom to bring to my aunt’s house for Easter but often she was unable to eat any of it because she was observing Passover!

You can try to make this Bunny Cake for any number of occasions. We made it yesterday to bring to an annual Easter brunch at a friend’s Bed & Breakfast. Enjoy, Mari


Bake your cakes. I used a store-bought yellow cake mix box that yields either two 9-inch rounds or two 8-inch rounds. I have 9-inch round cake pans so I used those. I left the cakes to cool overnight but if you don’t have that kind of time just make sure they are cool enough that the frosting won’t melt. Cakes straight from the oven are very hard to frost and I don’t recommend it.


Find or make a display platter. I used a piece of foam core and covered it in tin foil as you can see above. I simply taped the tin foil to the back of the foam core. If you have a large enough platter use that. However, make sure to leave enough room for your entire Bunny with bow tie – the final size of your cake will be approximately 2.5 times the diameter of one of your cakes rounds.


Cut out the bunny ears and bow tie. We used a 9-inch plate as our template for cutting out the ears and bow tie but you can also use the edge of your round cake pan. Eyeball the size of the bowtie and make a small mark with a sharp knife towards the center of the cake where you will start your cutting. Do this for both sides of the bow tie since you will be making two ears.


Position the face, ears and bow-tie on the display platter. I find that dabbing a bit of frosting at each of the attachment points helps to secure the cake to the display platter. Position the ears at the angle of your choice and place the bowtie as close or far away from the face as you want. My bunny doesn’t have much of a neck but it was easier to frost that way.


Frost the bunny with a crumb layer. Some people rush this step or skip it altogether. However, I learned about the importance of a crumb layer in the cake decorating boot camp I attended last year at the Institute for Culinary Education (thanks to a generous gift from Paul). If you take the time to do this thin layer of frosting and let is set a bit you will have a much easier and crumb-free time with frosting the rest of your cake.


Decorate the bunny with frosting and colors of your choosing. This is my favorite part! Draw the eyes, nose, mouth (tongue optional), and inside of the bunny ears using a pastry bag with an attachment or by simply using a plastic storage bag and cutting a small hole at one of the corners. I used food coloring to make the frosting pink and green and you could do the same or change the color if you like. Many supermarkets also sell pre-filled tubes of decorating gel in a variety of colors (including black) and you could use that too.


Add details like candy eyes and colorful sprinkles. I used red hot candies for the eyeballs and I added colored sprinkles to the bow-tie and inside the ears for fun. Decorate the tie however you want – make it polka dotted, striped, or another color entirely. This is all up to you and your imagination!


Press shredded coconut onto the face and ears. This is the trick that makes your cake come alive! Carefully press shredded coconut (you can find this at the supermarket) into the frosting taking care not to ruin the eyes, nose, mouth, or inside the ears. You don’t need to be too careful not to overlap the pink of the ears since real bunnies have hair in their ears!


Add the spaghetti whiskers. This was the first time I tried doing this and it was a success. I took regular dried spaghetti and I snapped it in two with my fingers. I did this with three pieces and then I stuck them into cake around the mouth.




Happy Easter (and Passover)!

Look out for the Bunny Cake How To tomorrow…Enjoy, Mari

100th Post: A Look at Some Creative Inspiration

One of my favorite things about the World Wide Web is discovering new sources for creative inspiration. As I reflect on the fact that this entry marks the 100th post on this blog, I thought I’d look at some sites that are inspiring me at the moment. I’ve discovered an inter-connected group of creative blogs mainly based in California authored by dynamic and inspirational women. I came across these sites when I was sewing an apron the other day and found Bari J.’s apron tutorial.

I’m so glad I did! I have uncovered a font of inspiration to keep me crafting, writing, photographing, and blogging for months to come. {Click on the blog name to visit each site.}

Enjoy, Mari


Bari J.

I love the down-to-earth sewing tutorials, gorgeous fabrics, and project ideas. This was the first in this series of blogs I visited and from there I found the rest on this list. Yay!


Check out the Sketchbook Stories exploring the artistic process, project ideas, and inspiration from this illustrator and designer.

Family Creativa

Follow this Swedish family in their creative endeavors from designing fairy gardens to the daughter Nora’s photographs. Paul and I want to BE this family. They are incredible and seem to infuse each day with curiosity and wonder.


A collaboration among several talented female artists, wishstudio is: “the place for you to create, share your stories and talents, find togetherness, experience life and joy, and discover your very best self.” I haven’t taken one of their workshops yet but I hope to some day.


I’ve totally thought about doing just this: “GoGoCraft is a full-service eco-conscious mobile crafting workshop providing exciting and accessible make-and-take workshops for all ages.” Maybe we’ll make our way out West so we can participate!

Shutter Sisters

A collaborative photo blog, I appreciate the variety of photographic styles and voices as well as the incredible narratives that often accompany the stellar images.

Happy Earth Day: Butterfly Bliss

Happy Earth Day!

Here are a few images from the Butterfly Release Event at the Danville Science Center last weekend. I volunteered to do crafts with kids {we made caterpillars out of construction paper with adorable googly eyes} so I actually didn’t get a chance to take that many photos. Despite the rain and tornado warning the turnout was rather large and the Butterfly Garden was full!

I watched the noon release where the butterflies were carefully let loose in their new home. Young lepidopterists-in-the-making helped the butterflies to orient themselves. It was a rather magical day. I hope you enjoy and appreciate the Earth today. Spend some time outside! Mari{posa}

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