Project 333…whaaaaat 2 posts in 1 day???!!!

Minimalism, that is the official theme of this blog. But wait Chante’ I thought you simplified? So did I! And I have not bought clothes since I’ve been here. Ok, don’t count the 2 pairs of Ecuadorian hippie pants I bought for $5 and realized I looked absolutely ridiculous!! Even though I only wore them in Mi Casa. They are gone. Donated a month ago to a clothes swap. And although we arrived here with only 2 large suitcases each I still felt unsatisfied when I looked in my closet. I wondered did I need more clothes? Less clothes? Different clothes? More contentment? or What?  And then Holy Clothes Horse BATMAN! I ran across a blog called Project 333 ( in the course of gathering ideas for organizing my sewing/dressing room) I decided to incorporate some of the principles I read about, read it here… Now some of you are already there, got it, simplified and moved on, and for those of you who are happy and content with 3 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes (No, I am not being sarcastic) read no further. This post is obviously not for you. However, for those of you who loooooooove clothes, retail therapy, imagine Paradise as one big consignment boutique, or dressing according to your mood (the latter is moi) read on!

In a nutshell with Project 333 you downsize your wardrobe (excluding workout clothes, loungewear and underwear) to 33 items for 3 months. The 33 items include shoes, outerwear, accessories and jewelry. I read about this blog on an online article by NY magazine. Both article and blog advocate purging your closet and only keeping what you really love. You start the Minimalist Fashion Challenge with 4 piles. See the rules here…

You only keep Pile #1, the pile you really love for 3 months. Everything else goes in the trash, in storage or donation. I allowed myself a few more items because of field service and the fact it is chilly and rainy here as well as sunny and hot all in the same day so I needed a bit more flexibility. I am thrilled with the results so far! I now see some nice pieces that go great together and some ideas for pairings I couldn’t see before. Plus, a suitcase of clothes to donate to Bethel. The Bethel here doesn’t get a lot of clothes I was told by one of the special pioneers, just FYI in case you visit, Lol.

This process has unfolded for me over the past couple of days and already it has moved me to repair a couple of things I had been putting off and helped me to reorganize the small amount of mementos, sewing items and books we do have. I did NOT go OCD on this and Project 333 doesn’t advocate that either. Nor is it about suffering or competing with others who downsized with less. However, it is a neat approach to simplifying and figuring out what REALLY brings you joy and contentment.

Sooooo, I am officially starting March 1 if any of you want to join me for 3 months…I would love to hear how it goes for you and see what you’re wearing! Here’s some pics of my downsize process.


Amaru is NOT a Zoo

Ok, I had to get my rhyming in, there isn’t much rhyming in Spanish. So, the country has been on vacation this past week due to Carnaval…you may think “oh, like Mardi Gras” and that’s close, true. Monday and Tuesday this town shuts down! It wasn’t like this on Christmas Day. Very limited bus service, some field service is cancelled and stores and mercados are closed for the most part too. However, an added bonus for Carnaval celebrants is the indulgence in throwing water and other liquids (let your imagination run wild here) and spraying large cans of foam on family, friends and unsuspecting passersby. Chet had water thrown on him. I had water thrown on me, twice, both times from a passing car but no biggie. Thankfully both times it was only water and not….(again, let your imagine run WILD…ok. stop.) And yes, I’m serious.

Anyway because the students have been out of school for a couple weeks after service one day some of the young sisters and I visited the Amaru Zoo. It’s more like a preserve spread over acres and acres of a mountainside overlooking Cuenca. Lots of hiking up and down to see the 5 different ecosystems of Ecuador represented in 43 animal habitats.  Some of these animals could leave if they wanted, but they stay…it’s a really neat place as zoos go. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to see everything, you cannot bring food in with you because of the monkeys especially but there is a snack bar halfway through. And if it’s a workout you’re after well you get 2 for 1! What a deal for only $4.00! Less if you are a student.



Beach days…Mancora, Peru

Just for posting this I know I risk being pelted with snowballs by all my friends who are braving the snowstorms in New England but take heart…the sun IS shining somewhere! The past two weeks in Cuenca, or more, have been very rainy and I felt the ol’ SAD kicking in. For those of you who are not blessed with SAD it’s an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s like a bad case of the blues…for me anyway. It’s definitely milder since I came here because the sun does shine more than it doesn’t and it’s very green. However, some former residents of Seattle who make their home in Cuenca say it reminds them of that drizzly city. Suffice it to say someone told me we are in the wet season as of mid-January. I believe them!

Tripadvisor and I have a little vacation research party after deciding sun is what we need, because even Chet was feeling a bit ho-hum. I booked us in at the EcoLodge and off to the bus we go. It’s an overnight bus leaving at 10pm from Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre. The bus is 8 hours they say. They being the ticket agents who leave out some crucial information. The bus trip isn’t 8 hours directly there. It’s more like a 5 hour trip with a middle of the night (or should I say wee hour of the morning) stop at immigration that took 2.5-3 hours standing in a HUGE line, so our trip really took 9 hours. Someone told me that it sometimes takes only 5 minutes. I think they might have been on something but… If one were to drive, well that would be shorter but from what I hear the rigamarole of going through immigration still makes the trip 6 plus hours. However, we were not discouraged.

We arrived at 7a.m quite groggy and took a mototaxi to our home for the next few days. We overpaid for the taxi, the guy charged us $4 USD when it should have been only S/2. That’s 2 Soles. Basically it’s 3 of our dollars for every one of theirs, our favor. So our taxi driver really took advantage of our early morning-suspended-animation stupor, we paid him the equivalent of $12 for a 3 minute ride when it should only have been about .60 cents. We had to laugh, there won’t be a next time!

Now normally when we’ve arrived at a hotel early they come up with some reason why we cannot get into our room right away…the other guests are in there, it’s not clean, we look dirty…etc., etc., however not at the EcoLodge. They promptly showed us our room, and this is in high season. There are only 7 rooms in this sustainable, environmentally friendly place, constructed almost entirely of bamboo and stone. Plus, they let us stay all day with no charge on the day of our departure. Whoot, whoot! We liked this place.

Brilliant sunshine, great food, a therapeutic massage by a masseuse who turned out to be a sister and regular pioneer! All in all a great, relaxing retreat! Mancora is filled with a lot of young (A LOT) mostly European backpackers but staying a block over from the main drag really helped. We didn’t hear any of the partying that Mancora can also be known for. Just forewarning you. Yes, Ecuador has beaches too, but we wanted to try something different and be assured of great weather. I had heard that Mancora abuts a desert so I knew rain would be unlikely. Yeah, no rain the whole 4 days. Last night we hopped on the bus again at midnight. The immigration ordeal only took an hour this time. Not too shabby. Will we return? I vote yes. I think Chet does too but for now he’s taking a much deserved siesta.

The most expensive mototaxi we will ever take!
The most expensive mototaxi we will ever take!




King size bed and chocolate awaits us after a long night ride on the bus. The mosquito netting was a very romantic touch. Very little mosquitos though…a good thing!
View from the yoga studio/veranda of the EcoLodge






These mototaxis are everywhere and cheap! We found out the hard way!

Corn cakes with parmesan cream sauce

Mancora 2

Mancora 1
Grilled Tuna with soy sauce, ginger, fresh mango and veggies. And of course the ubiquitous rice at Sirena Restaurant.
Sunset Mancora
Sunset on Mancora Beach, Peru.
Chet, Curtis, Eric
Chet and Eric with Curtis, he and his wife came to Quito for the International Convention.
me, Karolynne, Jenn
Jenn and I and Karolynne (Curtis’ wife) cheezin’ for the camera. Why are we soooo happy?
quito delegates
Lunch with delegates from Quito, most of them from Chicago. A real treat.