Archive | November 2011

DIY Ideas: Peace Corps Home

Paul and I are homebodies. We love to have friends over to hang out, eat a meal, share a story. So, as we think about what our life will be like in Ecuador, we’ve been collecting some interesting inspiration for DIY projects to decorate our Peace Corps home. Here are some ideas to make a stylish home on a tiny budget. We’ve included the links to where we found the item and if we attempt to make any of these projects we’ll keep this blog posted.

Enjoy, Mari & Paul


Magentic Pallet Chair

Uncommon Goods sells this resourceful chair, which can be stored flat while being held together with magnets. The simple design looks pretty easy to recreate as scrap wood and pallets may be available wherever we are placed in Ecuador.


Sling Back Leaning Deck Chair

Designed by Bernhard Burkard, this chair requires only a few materials to communicate a modern and utilitarian style. Don’t forget the rubber supports on the bottom of the chair!


Chalkboard Map

ReCraft sells this as a set of stickers but you could also make it by outlining a map on a wall and either painting it in with chalkboard paint (we used a lot of chalkboard paint at Starting Artists!) or with regular black paint to make a silhouette statement.


Grandfather Clock Wall Decal

Speaking of silhouettes…we saw the above image in a summer issue of ReadyMade Magazine but it can be purchased from Blik (along with tons of other silhouette wall decals) or another version can be found at Glorious Wall Stickers (a UK company). Either design can easily be transferred to a wall with paint but if you can’t make that kind of commitment then the wall decals are your best bet.


Hanging Closet

Also from ReadyMade, this closet can be adapted to any size wall area or ceiling height. All you need is a wooden rod, rope, and hanging hardware & tools. Not too shabby!

Thanks Matt & Kerry!


We had a blast staying with our friends **Matt & Kerry** at their place in Jamaica Plain, MA when we were in the Boston area for Thanksgiving. Thank you for always making us feel welcome and for sharing good news, meals, Oscar, and your lovely home. We miss you already! xo, Mari & Paul

Thanks Jason & Arlene!

We had a wonderful time staying with our friends **Jason & Arlene** in Brooklyn before our New Jersey adventure. Thanks for the hospitality, spring roll lesson, birthday surprise, mini-doughnuts, and as always the great conversation! Here are a few images from our visit to Occupy Wall St. and our weekend in Brooklyn.

xo, Mari & Paul


Go Inside Guernica


Enjoy this 3D representation of Picasso’s masterpiece by artist Lena Gieseke.


Ecuador Peace Corps Quarterly Magazine

El Clima is a magazine created by current Peace Corps volunteers in Ecuador. Check out the most current issues below.

September 2011

June 2011

February 2011

November 2010

August 2010

Thank you **Sarah R** for finding these.

If you are interested in connecting with more volunteers leaving in January 2012 search for our Facebook group called “Peace Corps Ecuador Jan 2012.”


We Are Thankful For…

On this Day of Thanks, we’re taking a look at what we’re thankful for this year. First and foremost, we are thankful for our health and for the health of our loved ones. We’re thankful for those loved ones and the time we’ve gotten to spend with all of you as we prepare to leave for Peace Corps Service. We appreciate the opportunity to share our skills and talents in the Peace Corps and we’re especially grateful that we have been placed in Ecuador. We are thankful for the freedom we’ve had to travel in Charlie and to see the amazing United States from the road. We are thankful for sleeping in and for plenty of food to cook and eat together and we appreciate traveling where we can meet new people and learn new things. Finally, we are grateful for having each other, always.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours,

Mari & Paul

Another New York Story


Enjoy this beautiful video I saw on Vimeo. We just left NYC for the last time in a long time. Glad there are videos like this to remind me of a place that holds such a special place in my heart.

I miss you NYC!


My Trip to Bangladesh

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For three weeks I lived in Bangladesh participating in a program at the Nobel Prize-winning micro-finance Institution, Grameen Bank. The program was called “Comprehensive Training Program for Replicators.” I applied for this program in order to connect my background in accounting and finance to my future work as a Business Adviser in the Peace Corps. My hope is that micro-credit can be used to support the businesses I will be working with in my host community in Ecuador. After completing the program I left with the skills to either support an existing micro-finance institution or to build a new program from scratch.

Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammad Yunus in 1976, popularized a new term called mico-credit. Yunus’s book, Banker to the Poor argues:

  1. Credit is a fundamental human right denied to the poor,

  2. Credit is a way to alleviate poverty and empower women,

  3. Poor borrowers will honor their loans even in the absence of collateral.

Starting with 27 dollars this economist gave small loans to a group of women. To his surprise they paid their loans back in full after investing in materials to build baskets and stools, which they sold in the market. Today the organization has over 8 million members, nearly all women, who use the loans to invest in projects from livestock to grocery stores.

In the training, I was placed in a branch in the village of Purila Poba for a little over two weeks conducting the rest of my training in the cities of Dhaka and Bogra. Because I did not speak Bengali I worked with a translator and program coordinator **Matin** who later I would also call friend. **Muhammad Sidduzman**, the Branch Manager spoke no English but spoke with me for countless hours going over the technical side of running a branch office. Discussions included how to recruit new borrowers, lead meetings, establish loan ceilings, check loan utilizations, approve or reject loans and maintain security, among other topics.

Read More…

I Heart the Muppets


Can’t wait for the new Muppet Movie that opens in just a couple of days.

Yay! Mari

Moment of Zen: XIV

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