Trick or treat sign: Free Halloween printable

This is my first year as a mother when I’ve actually felt on top of Halloween. And that’s 100% because I decided to not go all DIY.

I’m so glad I’m half-assing Halloween.

When Peeper said she wanted to wear a Cinderella costume, my inner feminist cringed—but then I hopped on Amazon and ordered her a damn Disney dress.

Kiwi is still too little to have much of a preference or even know there’s a holiday coming up. So I figured that hey, she has fleece giraffe-print pajamas, so why doesn’t she dress as a giraffe? #twoforonepajamas

Now I have to get out and show off these top-tier costumes. And if you’re like us, you won’t be spending all of Halloween at home, either, waiting to give out tiny chocolates to almost equally tiny Elsas and Pikachus. We’ll be taking the girls out to get their own candy (which we’ll quickly appropriate, obvi). So I wanted to set out a trick or treat sign welcoming the neighborhood kids to help themselves to the treats I’ll leave on the front porch.

And hey, so can you, because you can download this Halloween trick or treat sign for free!

Download this free trick or treat sign printable to leave with a candy bowl on your porch this Halloween! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Download your free Trick or Treat Sign!

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(Sorry, the free printable does not come with free candy.)

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DIY colorful tomato cages

60-second DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Peeper, in all her almost-three-year-old wisdom, has become quite the picky discerning eater. Tool around the internet searching “picky eater” and you’ll find about a billion recommendations to miraculously make your preschooler ask for seconds of that spinach-quinoa-frittata you whipped up. The tip that has made a lot of sense to me, though, is having your kid help grow the food you want her to eat.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a black thumb. I have somehow managed to kill a half-dozen cacti and succulents in the last year, not to mention the less hardy plants that have perished on my watch.

But I refuse to give up—especially if persistence means fewer power struggles around the dinner table. So this spring and summer we are growing some edible plants in planters.

First up on Peeper’s homegrown menu: tomatoes!

 DIY colorful tomato cages

Getting her hands dirty

Peeper was so excited to plant the tomato starter. She’s been checking on it daily as the poor plant languished in its tiny pot for weeks. (See my earlier note about killing plants. Oops!)

We couldn’t find the trowel in the rat’s nest of our garage, so Peeper helped scoop potting soil with a little Mason jar.

DIY colored tomato cages

What kids learn from growing food

I’m most excited about the (theoretical) expansion of Peeper’s menu, but there are other benefits to helping kids grow food.

Planting a seed, tending to it and watching it grow is a tangible lesson in where food comes from. Hands-on gardening teaches kids about the life cycle and the effect of the environment (like what happens to a plant after a rain storm or a scorcher).

Growing food also teaches kids about how a plant grows. Peeper got up close and personal with the tomato plant’s roots as we loosened the packed dirt around the root ball.

Planting tomatoes and DIY tomato cages

Kids also learn ownership and responsibility. Peeper has asked to water the plants we repotted and loves to check their progress. The patience she’ll gain, too, as she waits for a tiny green tomato to turn into a beefsteak is a bonus for any preschooler.

Making a pretty tomato cage

Once we repotted the tomato, we had to stake in the tomato cage. We explained to Peeper that tomato plants grow big and heavy, and the cage helps support it.

When I’d gone to the hardware store to buy the cages, I wanted to get the beautiful, brightly colored ones—but couldn’t justify paying three times more for a pink or green one.  Instead, I bought the regular silver tomato cage—and gave it a 60-second facelift!

Spray painting DIY tomato cages - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

DIY colorful tomato cages

Using stuff you probably already have in your garage, you can make a tomato cage even prettier—in about a minute!

60-second DIY Colorful Tomato Cages

Supplies

  • a metal tomato cage (mine cost less than $3 at the hardware store)
  • cardboard or newspaper
  • spray paint (I used a can that was lying around from a previous project, so it was free!)

Directions

  1. Lay out your cardboard or newspaper on a flat surface. Make sure it’s bigger than the tomato cage so you don’t spray paint the ground.
  2. Set the tomato cage on top in a way it won’t move around.
  3. Following the directions on the spray paint can, spray a layer of color on the tomato cage.
  4. Wait until the layer of paint is dry, then turn the tomato cage over. Spray paint that side.
  5. Wait for the paint to dry fully, then stick the tomato cage in the ground. It’s ready to support those tomatoes in style!

Happy house-iversary

One year ago we moved into our West Linn home, which, thanks to Peeper, we still call New House.

We’ve been here long enough that people have stopped asking us how we like our “new” neighborhood, house and town. But I’m just as grateful today as I was on that first day we moved in.

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19 months: New House

Eric and I stood in the bare living room, grinning at each other. We had just received the keys to our new home, the first property either of us has owned. We were saying good-bye to cramped apartment living, chain-smoking neighbors and car alarms that consistently blared in the middle of the night.

We had ordered pizza because that’s what you do the first night in your new place. Finn and Edie had been sprinting in circles, taking advantage of all the space and complete lack of furniture.

We weren’t going to spend the night; we had hardly begun packing, in fact. We were just about to head back to the apartment when we changed Peeper’s diaper.

Then—but of course—she peed on the floor.

The house was officially ours.

Moving with a toddler - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Real Neat Blog Award—and 7 questions

I was happy to see the other day that Raising Alex The Great nominated me for a Real Neat Blog Award. (I’ll send you my address so you can send me the check/plaque/gold-plated statue. K?) She writes about motherhood and the unique challenges—and joys—of having a premature baby. Check out the blog!

She posted a few questions I answered, below. Beyond that, I’ve nominated 7 blogs that I love—take a look for some phenomenal reading.

  1. What’s your go-to dish to make when you know you’ve got important company coming over?
    I tend to make black bean-sweet potato enchiladas. (I made them last night, in fact, though we didn’t have anyone over. They’re just so good!)
  2. Do you believe in the 5 second rule?
    Abso-freakin-lutely. I know that science says that food on the floor picks up germs, but I’m with the 87% of people who give dropped food the thumbs up. I’m just not germ-phobic.
  3. What is your favorite online shop?
    I don’t like to shop, either in person or online, but when it’s someone’s birthday, I head to Etsy. I like that I’m supporting independent creators and that my friends and family get unique gifts.
  4. What is your favorite joke?
    I’m not a good joke-teller—I tend to laugh before I get to the punchline—but I like the corny ones.
    To wit:Where did the king keep his armies?
    In his sleevies!
    *crickets, crickets*
  5. What is one thing that has made you smile today?
    Peeper, as usual! She loves walking into our bedroom closet and sticking her head out the other end. “Peek!” she says. It makes me laugh every time.

    Peeper is an equal opportunity peek-a-booer.
    Peeper is an equal opportunity peek-a-booer.
  6. What makes your house a home?
    An open door. Our place is always a mess, especially now that Peeper can pull her own books and toys off the shelves, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting friends or family to come over.Growing up, our house was in a permanent state of disarray. I was rarely embarrassed, though, and my parents were always more than happy to set the table with an additional plate for a friend who stopped by—or even throw down an extra mattress for someone who needed a place to crash for months.

    Home is a welcome mat.

  7. What’s for breakfast?
    Lately, I’ve been eating Life cereal. Peeper’s breakfast requests have been getting very specific, though (“Hot dog! Avocado! Fork! Bib!” was her demand request the other day), so her tastes keep mornings interesting.

I nominate the following blogs:

Urban Bliss Life is a down to earth but stylish lifestyle blog with posts about recipes, kids’ parties and actually easy DIY.

The Monster In Your Closet tells it like it is, hold the BS. She writes about work, raising two sons and the balance of immersing yourself in the present moment without abandoning the past.

Loni Found Herself chronicles the adventures of raising a toddler in LA. I admire her openness in goal-setting and reflecting on how becoming a mom has changed her.

Little Fall Creek is a mama-homesteader who mixes posts about wrangling free-range chickens with photos of her daughter getting muddy in the yard.

A Tiny Rocket posts about motherhood and art. I can’t figure out how she finds the time to create her gorgeous paintings daily (follow her on Instagram, too!), but I find her dedication inspiring.

West Metro Mommy reads more than I thought humanly possible and publishes honest reviews of each book. This is where I go before heading to the library; I get most of my recommendations from her.

Snapshots & My Thoughts is a style and family blog out of Austin. I love her photographs, inspiring style posts and—ahem—giveaways!

Here are my questions for you bloggers to answer!

1. What do you do if you have writer’s/painter’s/photographer’s/creator’s block?
2. What’s your food guilty pleasure?
3. If you could magic yourself into an alternate career, what would it be?
4. What was your favorite childhood book?
5. What’s one thing you love about yourself?
6. Dogs or cats?
7. Any upcoming travel plans? Where?

Real Neat Blog Award—and 7 questions

I was happy to see the other day that Raising Alex The Great nominated me for a Real Neat Blog Award. (I’ll send you my address so you can send me the check/plaque/gold-plated statue. K?) She writes about motherhood and the unique challenges—and joys—of having a premature baby. Check out the blog!

She posted a few questions I answered, below. Beyond that, I’ve nominated 7 blogs that I love—take a look for some phenomenal reading.

  1. What’s your go-to dish to make when you know you’ve got important company coming over?
    I tend to make black bean-sweet potato enchiladas. (I made them last night, in fact, though we didn’t have anyone over. They’re just so good!)
  2. Do you believe in the 5 second rule?
    Abso-freakin-lutely. I know that science says that food on the floor picks up germs, but I’m with the 87% of people who give dropped food the thumbs up. I’m just not germ-phobic.
  3. What is your favorite online shop?
    I don’t like to shop, either in person or online, but when it’s someone’s birthday, I head to Etsy. I like that I’m supporting independent creators and that my friends and family get unique gifts.
  4. What is your favorite joke?
    I’m not a good joke-teller—I tend to laugh before I get to the punchline—but I like the corny ones.
    To wit:Where did the king keep his armies?
    In his sleevies!
    *crickets, crickets*
  5. What is one thing that has made you smile today?
    Peeper, as usual! She loves walking into our bedroom closet and sticking her head out the other end. “Peek!” she says. It makes me laugh every time.

    Peeper is an equal opportunity peek-a-booer.
    Peeper is an equal opportunity peek-a-booer.
  6. What makes your house a home?
    An open door. Our place is always a mess, especially now that Peeper can pull her own books and toys off the shelves, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting friends or family to come over.Growing up, our house was in a permanent state of disarray. I was rarely embarrassed, though, and my parents were always more than happy to set the table with an additional plate for a friend who stopped by—or even throw down an extra mattress for someone who needed a place to crash for months.

    Home is a welcome mat.

  7. What’s for breakfast?
    Lately, I’ve been eating Life cereal. Peeper’s breakfast requests have been getting very specific, though (“Hot dog! Avocado! Fork! Bib!” was her demand request the other day), so her tastes keep mornings interesting.

I nominate the following blogs:

Urban Bliss Life is a down to earth but stylish lifestyle blog with posts about recipes, kids’ parties and actually easy DIY.

The Monster In Your Closet tells it like it is, hold the BS. She writes about work, raising two sons and the balance of immersing yourself in the present moment without abandoning the past.

Loni Found Herself chronicles the adventures of raising a toddler in LA. I admire her openness in goal-setting and reflecting on how becoming a mom has changed her.

Little Fall Creek is a mama-homesteader who mixes posts about wrangling free-range chickens with photos of her daughter getting muddy in the yard.

A Tiny Rocket posts about motherhood and art. I can’t figure out how she finds the time to create her gorgeous paintings daily (follow her on Instagram, too!), but I find her dedication inspiring.

West Metro Mommy reads more than I thought humanly possible and publishes honest reviews of each book. This is where I go before heading to the library; I get most of my recommendations from her.

Snapshots & My Thoughts is a style and family blog out of Austin. I love her photographs, inspiring style posts and—ahem—giveaways!

Here are my questions for you bloggers to answer!

1. What do you do if you have writer’s/painter’s/photographer’s/creator’s block?
2. What’s your food guilty pleasure?
3. If you could magic yourself into an alternate career, what would it be?
4. What was your favorite childhood book?
5. What’s one thing you love about yourself?
6. Dogs or cats?
7. Any upcoming travel plans? Where?

Sunshine to melt your blizzard blues

Unless you’ve been taking a social media/news/talking to people cleanse, you’re all too aware that much of the country is dealing with the fallout from a major blizzard. Much of the Northeast is buried under two feet of snow, but here in Oregon, we’ve been enjoying our signature mellow weather.

Whether you’re digging out from under the blizzard or just bemoaning winter’s grey skies, here’s a little dose of sunshine to brighten your day, courtesy of Peeper and me.

Sunshine Popper from Catherine Ryan Gregory on Vimeo.