Apr 01

Egg Carton Seedlings

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

For a while now, I’ve been hoarding egg carton containers.

empty egg carton planters

At first, I thought maybe I’d do a cute spring craft with them. However, then the yard project started, and I realized I need plants. Specifically, lots and lots of thyme.

Instead of grass, we are using thyme as a ground cover for a good portion of our backyard. Thyme needs less water than grass, and it smells great. Win-win. However, it’s a slow grower. So unless I want my yard to remain a dirt bowl this summer…

yard crazy

…I need to get planting. Now. Enter the egg cartons:

egg cartons with dirt

Here are a few tips when using egg cartons as seed starter planters:

  • I recommend cutting slits between the individual cups before putting the dirt in. This makes it easier to separate them as needed later.
  • When starting plants indoors, many need to be hardened before transplanting outdoors.
  • The egg cups won’t hold a very large plant. Check the germination times and recommended outdoor planting season for each type of seed. You don’t want to be growing a sunflower for very long in these little cups.
  • FYI, among other things, we are growing creeping thyme. Most thyme seeds you see in nurseries are culinary thyme. Culinary (or common ) thyme grows 6 inches tall. It’ll still make a good ground cover, but I wanted something walkable. Culinary or common thyme isn’t very walkable. It’s always a good idea to research the mature height of the seeds you plant.

With a little planning, starting from seed can save start up cost and time from your growing season. Happy planting!

egg carton seedlings

Mar 13

Butterfly Life Cycle Poems & Coloring Page

by Hannah Holt »


Butterfly Life Cycle promo

Last year, my kids wanted to raise a wild caterpillar. We named him Greenie:


He’s that small sticky looking thing next to the apple leaf. We did lots of research, and we tried to make a good go of it. But it turns out we stink at raising caterpillars. R.I.P. Greenie.

Maybe sometime in the future we’ll order a premade kit and have better luck. For now, we’ll stick to the lesson we learned: wild things should be kept in the wild.

We did enjoy learning about butterflies, and I wrote a set of poems about the life cycle of butterflies. I’d like to dedicate them to Greenie (there’s a coloring page at the end!):


Monarch’s Nursery

With a leaf for a crib
and no nanny to beg,
so begins life
as a butterfly egg.


Dining Hall

 The sleepy little caterpillar loves to munch and munch,
laying on his underside for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
Shedding skin that feels too thin, he eats leaves with a crunch.
The growing bigger caterpillar loves to munch and munch.


Dressing Chambers

 Pupa, pupa changing quick,
hanging underneath your stick.
First you’re green and then you’re brown,
trading kid-clothes for a gown.

 The Ballroom

 They twirl and glide, this dancing pair.
Then dip a curtsy in midair.
Waltzing wind, they flutter by…
I wish I were a butterfly.

And here’s a butterfly life cycle coloring page:

Butterfly Life Cycle Coloring

Here’s a pdf copy: Butterfly Life Cycle Coloring Page.

And here’s a color version with answers: Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle.

Mar 03

How to Make a Sun Map

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on How to Make a Sun Map

We’re landscaping our backyard. By “we,” I mean my minions and me.

Line Level

{Aren’t my minions cute?}

My top priority for landscaping is food: I want my yard to grow stuff I can eat. So the first step of this insane exciting project was making a sun map.

Growing fruits and veggies takes sun and lots of it. So I need to know how much sun my yard gets and where.

First I made a sketch of my backyard (I traced over a google satellite image):

blank yard

Then I made ten copies and waited for a sunny day. Here in Oregon that can take a while…

When a sunny day arrived, I kept watch for the first hour of sun in my yard and sketched the area with direct sunlight


Every hour, I made a similar map until the sun went down. I’ll admit, I couldn’t stay home and watch the sun all day. I made my maps over a few days. However, you’ll probably want to make your map within a week to avoid sun shifting (more on that later).

After I had charted out all my hours of sun, I made a cumulative map:

February Sun Map

The purple area gets 6+ hours of sun, so that’s the best space for planting. The white area gets no direct sunlight (at least in February), so I probably want to avoid planting along the southern fence.

FYI, I did this same process at the end of January. Here’s my  sun map for January:

January Sun Map

Notice my January yard has fewer places with direct sunlight and those places get fewer hours of sun. Soooo….

1) Why does my yard get fewer hours of sun in January than February?

2) What do you think my sun map would look like in March?

(Answer 1: I live in the Northern Hemisphere, so the sun angle is lower in January compared to February. My southern fence casts a longer shadow in January. Answer 2: The angle of the sun continues to climb until mid-summer, so my March map will have more areas of sun and longer hours of sun than February.)

Feb 04

Where Is Tel Aviv? (And Fractions Of Course!)

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

My blog has been a little quiet lately. Part of the reason for that is my husband is on an extended business trip to Tel Aviv, and I’ve been extra involved with toddler wrangling.

At the beginning of his trip, my kids would ask, “Where is Daddy?”

I would say, “Israel,” and that was good enough for them. End of conversation.

But now they want to know more. Where is Israel? Where exactly in Israel is Daddy? How far away is it?

I would tell them, “Daddy is 6,887 miles away.”

Miles don’t mean much to a six-year-old, so we tired to think about it another way.

Daddy is 371,000 blue whales away or 110 million matchbox cars away or 121,000 soccer fields away.*

The only problem is my six-year-old recognizes numbers like thousand and million, but they are just big numbers…impossibly big numbers. And that makes Daddy feel far away.

When going big doesn’t work, sometimes it helps to think small. So I helped him learn about numbers less than 1–fractions.

Here is the earth:


{one earth}

If you roll it out flat like a map, it looks sort of like this:


If you draw a line down the middle, you would be halfway around the earth.

half earth

{halfway, 1/2, 50%}

You can see that our daddy is not even halfway around the earth. In fact, he would have to travel about three times the distance to Tel Aviv to travel all the way around the earth.

third earth

{one-third, 1/3, 30%}

Compared to the entire distance around the earth, our daddy is not so far away.

*If you want to check my fraction multiplication for the distance between Portland, Oregon and Tel Aviv, Israel in blue whales, soccer fields, and matchbox cars, here is my work:

fraction multiplication final

Nov 07

Layers of the Earth

by Hannah Holt »


The other day my five-year-old asked me, “What’s a continent?”

Me, “It’s a large land area on a tectonic plate.” (My husband likes to tease me for being incapable of simple explanations. I thought I was keeping it pretty simple, until…)

Him, “What’s a tectonic plate?”

Suddenly, I knew this explanation needed play-doh:

Layers of the earth playdoh1

Question: What is a tectonic plate?

Answer: Tectonic plates are pieces of the earth’s crust. The earth’s crust is one of three main layers of the earth, including the core, mantle, and crust.

The core is the center of the earth. It is made mostly of metal and is surrounded by a liquid-ish mantle:

core and mantle

The earth’s crust rests on the mantle:


The crust is where you find people, and continents, and, oceans and….


I tried keeping it simple. How I’d do?