Aug 31, 2007

harvest time

picking corn

enjoying the harvest

Fruits of the land and their little hands

Last spring we planted corn, squash, potatoes, and beans on a little plot of land a short walk from the school. Yesterday the children harvested the early corn, called elote. Did you realize that what we know as yellow "corn on the cob" is simply the early harvest? All corn is yellow at this stage. If you leave it on the stalk until October, all corn hardens into colorful Indian corn, known here as maiz. I never knew, even though my family planted corn when I was a child. We must have harvested it all early, given the fact that we didn't make corn tortillas from scratch.

Here in Mexico the maiz is essential, as it doesn't spoil and can be stored through the winter. It is a major food source for the indigenous Tarahumara people, who live as subsistence farmers on a diet consisting mainly of corn tortillas and beans.

On my plate (literally and figuratively) this weekend is a recipe I've had since I was in Montessori school. We affectionately refer to it as "Meggie's Montessori Harvest Loaf Cake." I hope you love it as much as I do!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup cooked (or canned) pumpkin
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter and add sugar gradually. Cream at high speed until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs. Beat well. Alternately add dry ingredients and pumpkin, beginning and ending with pumpkin. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into a loaf pan that has been greased on the bottom. Bake 1 - 1:15 at 350F. Cool completely.

Happy harvest,

P.S. If you haven't added your comment yet to the previous post, head on over and do so! Check back tomorrow morning to see if you are a winner of one of my sewing patterns!

Aug 30, 2007

100th post giveaway

Montessori By Hand is 100 posts old! To celebrate this milestone, and to thank you for reading, I thought I'd give away some patterns. Leave a comment and your name will be added to the drawing. Three winners, each of whom will get to pick one of my sewing patterns, their choice!

reading pillow white circleMontessori child's apron circle
mei tai front carry

The random number generator will pick the lucky numbers on Saturday morning - good luck!

xo, Meg

Aug 29, 2007

special recognition

Some things are apparent early on in life. Here I am donning my hand-crafted hat back when I was a Montessori student, already displaying my penchant for funky, handmade attire:

handmade hat, circa 1984

Zooming forward on the pictorial time machine, here I am in my Simplicity/Threads Creativity Contest entry last May:

simplicity pattern 4017

Welp, who would have guessed? Simplicity up and awarded me some "special recognition!" They sent me this book a few days ago. This was all pretty exciting and totally unexpected, as I don't think I've won anything since the 5th grade county math tournament. (Which I attended, by the way, in the first outfit I sewed for myself, accessorized with some swanky headgear and braces sporting florescent bands. As if the math tournament wasn't dorky enough.) My "special" shirt was made with Simplicity pattern 4017, and is hand appliquéd and embroidered. The best part about this whole thing is that they are sending me back my shirt, which I get to wear whenever I want!

And another fun surprise - Donna from Purple Kappa tagged me for the "Nice Matters" blogging award! Thanks, Donna! It's such a warm and fuzzy feeling to be acknowledged. So now it's my turn to pass on the award to some of my blogging friends who fit the following criteria:

"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and creativity. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to others who you feel are deserving of this award."

Jo of A bit of this and a bit of that
Laurie of The Wooden Spool
Anna Maria Horner
Leah of Homework
Amanda of Soulemama

I'm sure each of you know why I am knighting you "Purveyors of Niceness." You are wonderful, inspirational people. Please visit these ladies' blogs if you haven't already!


Aug 26, 2007

a sunday of sewing

owl zip pouch, iron-on vinyl lining

An owl toiletry bag with iron-on vinyl lining, from Bend-the-Rules Sewing.

gift - mei tai baby carrier

A mei tai baby carrier made with fabric from the West Hill collection by Heather Ross. (A gift for this little cutie, who helped me out in the photo shoot for my pattern website.

Aug 25, 2007

losing your head (and your 6 legs, for that matter)

caterpillar to chrysalis 041

This morning, my cat Amelie helped us to notice (what we guess) was a Mourning Cloak butterfly larva that had hung itself upside down from one of our window panes. Another was hanging nearby on the stuccoed adobe wall. Nifty, I thought. I'll take a pic and see if I can capture it at various stages as it encases itself in its chrysalis.

caterpillar to chrysalis 005

Several hours later, and thanks again to eagle-eyed Amelie, I watched from inside as the caterpillar thrashed about wildly while the section with its head and six small legs fell off! It then rapidly split its skin from the bottom up. This new skin was wet and red. It slowly dried and became hard. Incredible! Here's what I was able to catch with the camera once I got outside.

caterpillar to chrysalis 033
Here's the head.

caterpillar to chrysalis 010
And the new, wet skin. You can still see the red on the top, but the bottom has already begun to harden.

caterpillar to chrysalis 044
Almost done hardening.

After this, I had high hopes that I could witness and document this for caterpillar number two, hanging on the adobe wall. Here's my bug watching camp - a knitting project and the camera.

caterpillar to chrysalis 051

But that bugger wasn't going to appease my voyeurism before sundown. He'll probably be nice and pupa-fied tomorrow morning. And I did have a nice time knitting. Wait until I share this with my students on Monday!

Aug 23, 2007

yoga photos

Here they are! Twenty-five yoga poses fit for children, ages 2.5-96! The necessary factors finally came together - sufficient time, a sunny afternoon, and a great model! (Thanks to Maria who was in my class for two years. I just had to tell her the name of the pose and she hopped right to it!)

For instructions on how to implement these yoga photos in your home or classroom, visit this post. To print off your own set, head on over to my Flickr photos. Those of you who already have a Flickr account can have prints made and sent to you. Simply click on the Children's Yoga Poses set, and on the set's main page at the top you will see the button "Make Stuff." Click on QOOP make prints. Ordering prints this way will cost you about $5.75, shipping included. There's also the option of downloading the photos onto your computer, copying them to a disc or memory card, and taking them in to be printed off yourself.

Update: The yoga card photos are also available for download through my account, in a folder called "Yoga Cards." Those of you living outside of the U.S. will have to use this option, as Flickr doesn't send prints to other countries.

Here's another way to order the prints from Flickr, if you don't want to go through QOOP:

To order prints from my main page, click on the picture to see a larger view. From this view, you should see an "order prints" button along the top of the picture. Click on it - it will ask you to change your printing preferences and verify that you are in the US. After you go through this little detour, a link will be displayed that asks you if you want to return to the photo you were looking at. Click on that, and now you should be able to order the size that you want and add it to your cart.

I hope your children love them!


Aug 22, 2007

my patterns, your creations - show them off!

Sarah wrote a lovely post about her experience making the reading pillow. Here's her take on it:

Do any of you have reading pillows, mei tai baby carriers, or child's aprons that you have made? If so, please join and add your photos to the Montessori By Hand Sewing Pattern Creations flickr group! You can also click on the photo badge in the sidebar - it's the one just above the labels.


back to school

Every year, my dad would take a picture of me on the first day of school sporting my new backpack and often interesting (especially from 5th grade on) hair-do. I mean ... it's awkward enough to be a pre-teen, but at least ten times worse when you're a pre-teen in the early 90's! I will spare you these embarrassing photos. Instead, here's a peak at this year's back to school get-up.

My Note Taker! Imagine my thrill at finding this pattern at Pink Chalk Studio! It's super easy to follow and yields amazing results. I highly recommend it to any fellow teacher - especially Montessorians, who find themselves taking just short of a gazillion notes per school year. It would also be a great asset to anyone parenting Montessori-style (yeah - we're all about observing the child, if you haven't guessed already!)

notetaker frontteacher's back-to-school get up

Here's the front of the note taker with it's other handy pal, the fabric-covered binder that holds all of my classroom records. If you're interested in my record keeping system, check it out at my Yahoo group.

pleated handbag

And, of course, my "grown-up backpack," (a.k.a. pleated handbag from Bend the Rules Sewing) which is large enough to hold the aforementioned teaching essentials and my Nikon D80 so that I can provide you with shots like this:



Aug 19, 2007

while I am busy ...

... enjoy some recent photos taken in my little corner of Mexico. I'm setting up my classroom and getting ready for the new school year to start, so the blog will have to putz along at a leisurely pace for a few more days.


Aug 15, 2007

prediction: ript will rock our worlds

I've been twitter pated with Bella Dia's inspiration collages for quite a while now, but I lack magazines. As much as I would love a subscription to Marie Claire Idees, I'm quite sure that the little French mag would get quite pouty at the prospect of crossing the Atlantic only to be strapped to a donkey for the last leg of its journey. C'est la vie.

Mais non! My life no longer has to be inspiration collage-less. CHECK THIS OUT! My cousin Luke just wrote a program that allows you to take any image on the web or your computer and digitally paste it onto a magazine collage!

It's called Ript. Click here to download the beta version. Read through "Quick start" to find out how easy it is to use. Even I could figure it out without Patrick, the resident computer know-it-all. I'm already seeing so many possibilities for this program - making inspiration pages for my own reference is the big one.

How cool is that?

Aug 14, 2007


I grew up in a rural area and became accustomed to a chorus of birds coaxing me out of bed in the mornings. While never introduced to proper bird watching, I do enjoy my fair share of observation and listening. Here's a wonderful resource to acquaint yourself (or your children or students) with the chirps and their composers:

bird book 001

"Common Birds and their Songs" by Lang Elliott and Marie Read includes descriptions, full-page photos, and audio tracks for fifty common birds in North America. It's an incredible resource!

bird book 002

bird book 003

You can also find this book in the Michael Olaf's "Child of the World" catalog. I can't recommend it enough! It will certainly be put to use in my classroom this coming school year.

Thanks for reading :)


Aug 11, 2007

favorite things

First of all, I need to thank all of your who have purchased my sewing patterns. Thank you for your dear notes of encouragement, for supporting the hand-made movement, and for helping us save some money in preparation for starting a family. I really hope that you and your loved ones find joy in both making and using your creations.

Remember this tree pillow? Now it has a companion.

appliqued pillow 016

appliqued pillow 002

These past few days I've been enjoying some hand stitching. Hand appliqué and embroidery - a few of my favorite things (aside from raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.) It's portable and relaxing. The needle pricks on the tips of the fingers add an element of surprise (okay, and pain ... but it's all worth it in the end.)

I'm loving the polka dot ties on the back:

appliqued pillow back ties 2

And did you see that Hillary just put her hand sewing pattern cards up for sale? I already bought mine. Can't wait to make the snail and the butterfly (which goes through metamorphosis ... caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly!) Oh, I can't wait to have my own children! In the meantime, these toys might find their way into my nieces' little hands!

By the way, don't forget to take your blankets outside tonight and tomorrow night to watch the meteor shower. What a way to spark your child's interest in astronomy! This year there’s no moonlight to interfere. The best time to watch is from 11 p.m. August 12 until dawn the next morning. If you have a dark sky, you may see a meteor once a minute on average. Cross your fingers for cloudless skies!

Happy stargazing/meteor marveling,

Aug 10, 2007

beat-up binder tutorial on whip up

Psst ... did you see my tutorial on Whip Up and my mention in Craftzine? Yippee!

Aug 8, 2007

make your own hand lotion

I'm a compulsive ingredients label reader. Mumblings of "Eew! Who would put that on their body!" and "Oh, that can't be good for you," seem to escape from my mouth when shopping for food and toiletries.

Several years ago I happened upon this book which has numerous recipes for making your own personal care products. We've gotten a lot of use out of it - and have had a blast emulsifying water and oil, coming up with custom essential oil fragrance combinations, and packaging up the yummy products for gifts and our own use. Here's to handmade - for your hands.

making lotion 004

6 oz. liquid oil (such as canola or olive oil)
3 oz. solid oil (coconut oil, shea butter, etc.)
1 oz. beeswax (find it here, along with other organic products)
9 oz. of water
20 drops of orange essential oil
30 drops of vanilla essential oil

Pour the 6 oz. of liquid oil into a 16 oz. heat-proof measuring cup. Add pieces of solid oil to the liquid oil until the total volume reaches the 9 oz. mark, then add the 1 oz. of beeswax. Put the measuring cup into a pot filled with water and place it over medium heat on the stove top. Stir until the all of the solids melt. This can take a little while.

making lotion 017

Remove the measuring cup from the water and let it cool to body temperature. It will become more thick and opaque - keep stirring it as it cools. Briefly place the 9 oz. of water in its own container into the pot (still filled with hot water) to bring it up to body temperature.

making lotion 019

making lotion 023

Pour the 9 oz. of water into a larger mixing bowl. Get out your hand mixer and turn it on high speed. Slowly begin pouring the oil mixture into the water. Continue processing until the mixture reaches a thick, creamy consistency. Turn off the mixer and add the drops of essential oil, then mix it up a bit more.

Try not to eat it, okay? I know it smells good, but it's for your hands. :)

making lotion 033

P.S. - for you Montessorians out there ... wouldn't this be a great practical life activity for older elementary children?

Aug 7, 2007

the pattern shop is now OPEN!

Check out my little pattern shop at! I do hope you'll like what you see there. Each pattern (the reading pillow, mei tai baby carrier, and the Montessori child's apron) is available for individual purchase as a PDF file that you can download and print off. Also, if you are so inclined, you can purchase all three patterns at a discount.

I'll be setting up a flickr group for those of you who make things using the Montessori By Hand patterns. I'm looking forward to seeing your creations!

Happy sewing, and a heartfelt thank you for your support!


reading pillow white circle

mei tai back carry

Montessori child's apron circle

Aug 6, 2007

montessori child's apron pattern

Patterns will (hopefully) be up for sale tomorrow! Here's the last of the little collection. Isn't my model such a ham? She's one of my five year-old students.

apple and pears apron

fastening the apron