J is for Jack-o-Lantern ~and~ the Problem with Printers

Print out your own pumpkin and design a Jack-o-Lantern. Then listen to me rant about printers. Or just skip that part. I'm not the boss of you.

J is for Jack-o-Lantern

One of the things about perfectionism is paralyzing indecision. When it comes to pumpkin carving, that manifests as a fear to cut in until I already know exactly what I want. And that’s where the pumpkin printable comes in. Use it to design as many as you need until you find one that is truly pumpkin-worthy.

Or just use it for paper Jack-o-lanterns because that’s what we did!

Submit your best designs below – especially if you trace it onto a real pumpkin and actually carve it out.

We had a busy day yesterday that ended up with us snacking in bed and each coloring our own pumpkins. I asked my gal Friday whether she wanted an orange pumpkin or white, and she answered yellow like Pikachu. So I printed off a white and she did hers DIY.

I had this idea that I’d do some fancy lettering, but I didn’t think about the fact that I’m terrible at those things. You can probably see where I found a groove along the way and then totally lost it again!

Download your own pumpkin from the NerdishMom.com Homeschool folder. Get it in pumpkin color or make it your own like MGF did with her Pika-Pumpkin.

31 posts of october day 11 J is for jack-o-lantern and the problem with printers

The Problem with Printers

So, printables like the above are generally pretty useless unless you have a printer at home. For a long time, I didn’t. Printers are just such a pain in general. I printed things only on rare occasion at the library. Those printers were also a pain, but at least there was someone else there to fix it for me when they gave me a hard time. But this decision to go without a home-printer was following years of inkjet print cartridges that dried up on me, so on the rare instance I’d go to print my cartridge would be miraculously empty despite never printing anything. It was ridiculous! It’s like they sucker you into buying a printer at a very low price and then charge $50 apiece for a cartridge that’s only going to end up printing 2 pages. And you have to buy 4 cartridges for it to print at all. And let me be clear that this isn’t referring to a single brand. It’s my significant personal experience with Canon, HP, and Brother.

A few years ago, when I decided that I needed a printer at home again (going from printing a few pages a year to a few a month), I found myself with another very cheap printer with all the features I would use (all-in-one, flatbed scanner, network printing, etc…), but what really intrigued me was the subscription ink program that came along with it. For $3 a month – $36 a year – they’d make sure that I had functional ink in my printer full-time. It felt like a scam, and indeed many people have many complaints about HP’s Instant Ink program so I have a hard time endorsing it fully, but for me, in my exact situation, it’s been worth it to pay the monthly fee just for the peace of mind. I’ve had heaps of problems with the printer itself (I have to restart it every time I want to use it because of connection errors), but never with the ink.

That said, there’s now also a free option for up to 15 pages a month, which I’ve now signed up for. The free option doesn’t include rollover of pages month to month, but you can go over your limit. Extra pages are $1 for 10. Mathers will notice that for $3 you can print up to 45 pages on the free plan, so if you’re only an occasional printer this is definitely the right option as the $3 plan doesn’t become any more cost-effective until 46 pages.

Another thing I love about Instant Ink is that I can print out everything at the highest quality, and can print out pages completely saturated in color ink for the same price as a draft quality with a single word in black on it. On the flip side, every page that gets even a drop printed to it counts against your allowance, which includes the pumpkin that only got sent through 20% before the page got canceled. It’s a waste of a page and a waste of paper.


If you have similar annoyances with inkjet printers, there are options. Affiliate links to follow if you are interested in the subscription ink route.

  • The library, especially if your needs are rare, and if you’re going there often with the kids anyway (though the library is for everyone; not just kids!!)
  • HP Instant Ink* – free up to 15 pages a month, $3 up to 50 pages – which includes rollover.
  • Best Buy now has their own subscription option, clumsily dubbed “Easy Replenish.” Like Instant Ink it monitors how much ink you have left, then only sends a new cartridge when you need it – and at a 10% discount. The difference is that where Instant Ink charges per page (similar to the library option), Best Buy is charging you per cartridge. Either one will make sure you’ve got ink when you need it though.
  • Amazon has one of their own (obviously) which works similarly to Best Buy’s program. Amazon Dash Replenishment will monitor your printer and send you ink when you are getting low. This is different from Amazon Dash Buttons which wait until you push the button to reorder for you, or subscribe-and-save which will automatically send more on a certain schedule whether you need it or not.
  • If you’ve got the money – and especially if you print almost exclusively black and white documents – though, the answer is clear. Spend it on a laser printer. Toner doesn’t have these problems. But I’m sure it has problems of its own. Because printers are jerks.

As a tip: For any kind of recurring payment like this, set up a spending limit in some way. One option is to use a prepaid card so that you can’t be charged beyond the value loaded on the card. I’ve been doing it accidentally lately with a paypal account still linked to an expired credit card but that’s not super convenient. There is also an app called Privacy that makes virtual debit cards to deal exactly with these things. I have signed up but haven’t used it yet so I have to personal experience.

*The biggest complaint people have about Instant Ink is that if you stop paying, you can no longer use their ink cartridges. In fact, since the printer is connected to the network, HP can remotely lock the cartridge and prevent you from printing anything unless you replace it with a retail cartridge. This isn’t insignificant so I feel it needs to be said. However, based on my own experience downgrading to the free plan I came to realize that you pay in arrears, and I suspect many of the people with this problem are refusing to pay the $3 for the last month that they were still subscribed. I know I was mad at first when they wanted to bill me once more.

Printer Problems?

Have you dealt with any of this? How? Do you know of a printer that is not a jerk?
Let us know!

All that Nerdish

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join the Mailing List at NerdishMom.com

Get updates, FREE printables, and whatever else my mind comes up with when normal people are in bed asleep.

NerdishMom.com uses cookies to ensure you get the full experience of our website.