One Step Closer to Airing on the Food Network

It's official - the 3rd floor kitchen has finally been installed! After months of fundraising, budgeting, purchasing, and installing, the far side of the third floor finally looks like a kitchen (instead of a haphazard storage space - see below). Big shout outs to Sonia, who took the reins on this project from the first budget draft, and to Krysta who spent the better part of last week cleaning out the space and getting everything put in its place. Our task now is to spend the next month promoting and planning classes to be ready to begin in early April.

A gigantic thank you to all of our unbelievable donors:
  • The Peterson Family
  • The Booe Family
  • Dana Conway
  • The Zhou Family
Literally none of this picturesque spread below would be possible without you. We'll think of you every time we flip an egg or sauté fresh vegetables!

the sink/painted window/slight storage area before...

... and after! hey look, there are mountains back there!

beautiful spankin' new cookware

expertly matched cutlery (I bet you can guess who picked those out)

a spread of utensils, stove, knives, pots and pans, and so much more

Culinary-ly yours,

Updates from the States

Amid snowstorms, santa clause, and satellite TV, I'm missing Ecuador (especially the climate) and reporting adventures to you! Wishfully thinking that maybe you miss us too, here are some exciting updates from break so far:

During our first weekend of break one of my very close friends Dana Zichlin hosted a party in Manhattan to raise funds for her feasibility trip to Guatemala. As you may know, MPI is working on a third site expansion and accepted proposals through November. After months of preparation, Dana will be heading to train with us in Ecuador in late January, followed by a seven week feasibility trip in Guatemala. We are so excited to spend time with Dana in Ecuador and show her the Manna ropes!

Helping a stuck sedan en route to the fundraiser

Dana and Chris Taylor cheers-ing to Manna

Love you Dana!

We also have exciting news to share about our kitchen project! The Peterson family graced us with a visit right before winter break. In addition to giving us tips on how to improve our grill and helping put together our shelves, they also graciously donated kitchen supplies for our cooking class.

Cosas de Petersons:
2 slip-resistant cutting mats, 3 oven mitts/potholders, 4 kitchen towels, 1 dishcloth, 6 dish scrubbers, 3 rubber spatulas, 8-piece utensil set, 4 wooden spoon set, grater, 2 peelers, can opener, measuring cups and spoons, 4 paring knives

A huge thank you to the Peterson family!! For more information about this project and our full wish list click here.

Enjoy the last day of the decade and have a fantastic and safe New Years!
- Jackie

Rainstorms and Dry Pipes

This past weekend was a whirlwind for everyone down here, and we're still recovering. With Dana back in the states (until tonight, hurry home to us!), Mark, Eliah and Seth out on the coast, Priya and Tim in Otavalo and Dunc and I leading summer session 2 to the cloud forests of Mindo, Jocelyn and Serena had the house all to themselves. There was probably a lot of eating, screaming, dancing and youtubing with all the boys away and unable to whine (like old men, maybe?) about all the noise.

Despite the huge rainstorm that hit the valley this afternoon, our house still doesn't have running water (3 days and counting), making daily tasks like laundry, dishes, cooking and showering quite difficult. The summer vols have been wonderful, volunteering to go buy big jugs of water, lugging their laundry to a local laundromat, and keeping the whining to a minimum.

Making soup for tonight's community meal was an ordeal and a half; I have a new found appreciation for frontier women who ran huge houses with no running water (even though I still dream about having a homestead in Montana...), especially when it comes around to dish duty. Running back and forth between the sink and the little pump outside to fill up my bucket with enough dishwater was an exhausting way to spend an afternoon; thankfully I had Mari to help me dry and a glass of wine to relax with :) We make do down here.


(our new dish washing system)

(Stormy June skies)

Raw Eggs

Today marks the end of our Apoyo Escolar and adult English programs, until January when we return to revamp and expand them, of course. In celebration of the close of our first few months, we decided baked goods were an effective way to demonstrate our gratitude, joy, etc. etc. at having worked with the people in our programs. If you've been keeping up with us over the past five months, it really should come as no surprise that we use sugar and chocolate as indicators of affection down here.

So, once again, I found myself quarantined in the kitchen starting at 9am, my companions flour, sugar, and chocolate bars crushed by Eliah's fury. no wonder i feel more than a little queasy right now, seeing as how all i've eaten ALL DAY is cookie dough.



Can't Move...

(our newest dinner guest)

Current locations of all MPIE PDs:

Jocelyn: Horizontal in bed, Perez Hilton up on her computer screen and dreaming about pumpkin pie.
Eliah: Horizontal, watching James Bond and avoiding the compost pile.
Serena: Horizontal, still eating turkey, watching James Bond.
Dunc: Horizontal, talking to himself about the Jalepenos his mom sent and chocolate pecan pie.
Dana: Sound asleep sitting up in a chair, "watching" James Bond.
Mark: Doing more dishes, wishing he was horizontal.
Holly: Horizontal on the floor, watching James Bond and attempting to write the daily life blog.
Seth: Who even knows, he went home and celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. We miss him.
Chris: Horizontal, silently memorizing the lyrics to "oh holy night" as sung by Cartman from South Park. And watching James Bond.

Since we have 4 programs in the community every Thursday (Apoyo, English conversation, English for adults, and Women's Exercise), we decided to 'postpone' our Thanksgiving celebration until today. This was decided after we realized that the smallest turkey we could purchase was 25 lbs. and would take essentially all day to we would all need to be in and out of the kitchen making our respective side dishes starting at 8am (guess who got that lucky shift) until 5;30 dinner time.

I love the eclectic nature of life down here; my Thanksgiving day started with an 8am bike ride to the local market to buy fresh green beans, continued with my first attempt at chocolate-pecan pie and handmade pie crust (thanks for the rescue, Jos!), transitioned to a cab ride into Quito to join the hundreds of Ecuadorians watching day one of the Festivals of Quito bull fights, which subsequently led me to slight dehydration and nausea at watching 6 bulls die in 86 degree Ecuadorian sun...after which Jos, Serena and I piled into a cab, swung by the Mariscal to pick up Paul, a friend from Colorado living in Quito for the next year as well, and headed home to put our dishes in the oven and get ready for our feast.

And, judging by everyone's current positioning, it was an absolute success. Chances are pretty low that our leftovers will last past tomorrow...sorry Seth.

Pictures to follow, when I can muster the strength to climb the stairs and get my camera cord. But I don't think that will happen until next week, based on how full my stomach is :)

(Thanksgiving delights)