Removing Splinters

This time of year is always busy for me, as I hang out in the garage a lot….making wood tombstones to sell. I love creating new designs and definitely, working with any wood project that I might get into!  Right now, I am smiling from ear to ear as I create some awesome tombstones that everyone loves. Thanks so much, if you have purchased one of my handmade designed wood tombstones – – removing the splinters from my fingers is my reward for your happiness!

Working Hard

Here’s me and my good ole Craftsman Evolv Jigsaw hard at work!

Boogie Tombstone

This is one of my wood tombstones as I work on cutting out the boogie man’s face in the tombstone. It is not as easy as you may think to do this.

Tombstones Made by Val

Here are five of my many wood tombstone designs, with varying heights and widths. Each come with a wood stand that gets screwed into the bottom of the tombstone and two eight inch metal spikes to hold the tombstone into the ground. If you know of anyone that would love to purchase one of these, get a hold of me!

Gosh, do you love love love Halloween as much as I do?

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

I wanted to spruce up a shelf on our bookshelf with the arrival of Halloween (right around the corner), and as I was looking at a small pile of cardboard scraps heading into the recycle bin…I had an idea.

I folded a piece of paper in half (long ways), and drew the shape of a tombstone on it, then cut it out. Now, I have a perfect sized small tombstone! I grabbed those cardboard scraps and traced small tombstones on every piece by tracing around my template I just cut out.

Cardboard Tombs2

Next, I took my X-acto knife and carefully cut out the cardboard tombstones. (with a cutting board underneath to protect the table)  And, before I forget to mention, I also cut out small triangles (as you can see in the above photo) that were glued to the back of the cardboard tombstones as a stand.  (if I had forgot to mention this, I know I would have had someone ask “how did you get the tombstones to stand up?”)

Once I had a bunch of cardboard tombstones cut out, I grabbed some spray paint and covered the cardboard with a nice coat of paint. Once dried, I took my white paint pen and also tried a gold Sharpie Marker and went to work writing on the tombstones.

Cardboard Tombs Painted

I’ve gotta tell you, once I started writing on them, I was hooked and wished I had cut out a few more cardboard tombstones because I thought of a few more funny epitaphs to write down. My Sweets will laugh when he finds the one I placed on his nightstand…”Death by my girlfriends snoring” (LOL)

Cardboard Tombs

So, what do you want on your tombstone?

Send me some of your funny epitaphs that I can use, because I want to make some more of these!

How to Make a Quick Halloween Prop

We all know that the countdown to Halloween has begun, and we know that our time is sometimes limited due to our hectic schedules. But there is a quick and easy way to create an almost free Halloween prop in a few minutes. Let me show you how!


First, grab your branch cutters or a little hand saw and head out into your woods. To make this easy, look first for little branches that might be lying on the ground. If you can’t find any, which I would find it hard to believe that you couldn’t, you will need to saw or snip off a few small branches.

Carry those branches back home and snip off any little pieces of branches so you are left with just one long branch. Now carefully lean them into each other to kinda make a branch t-pee. Once you get them in a shape you like, take some jute and tie them up where all the branches meet. (I would suggest you do all of this “where” you are planning on putting this prop in your yard so you don’t have to carry it afterwards) Make sure you jam each stick a little bit into the ground for stability.

The next thing that I did was bring up one of our black witches cauldron from storage. At first, I wanted to “hang” the cauldron from the sticks, but the cauldron did not have any hooks, so I had to MacGyver something. I took one of our tomato cages and cut off the bottom section with wire cutters and placed the cauldron on top of it. THIS WORKED OUT PERFECTLY!

The next item I grabbed was some fire wood we have behind the garage and stacked them around the cauldron. This is making the effect that the cauldron is stacked on top of wood. Next, I balled up a set of white Christmas lights under the cauldron (inside the tomato cage frame) and turned them on! WOW! When I took this photograph, it actually looks like a fire underneath the cauldron.

I am going to also add an orange set of lights underneath the cauldron too, to give the “fire” a more realistic look. Now comes the fun part…I am going to grab two of our skellies and have them stand around the cauldron! I will have one posed as if he is “warming up his hands” by the fire, and the other one will be “roasting a marshmallow”!

This Halloween prop was made for free, because I already had the cauldron, lights and tomato cage, and the wood & branches were free! Yeah!

Hee hee, don’t you just love Halloween!

Peeking Out The Window

I pulled out one of our many Skellies over the weekend because I am so ready for Halloween! This one I placed in our bedroom looking out the window that overlooks our neighbors back door. Hopefully, I did not scare them too much when they peeked out their window and saw this looking back at them! LOL


The Boogie Man Is Coming

With the arrival of August, there is only one thing on my mind…Halloween! I am starting to get into full Halloween mode and have already started a few more paper mache pumpkins which I will be posting about soon. But, I wanted to show you my latest Halloween craft project, the Boogie Man.

If you don’t already know, a few years ago I started creating wood tombstones because I found that I was tired of chasing our Styrofoam tombstones down the street. The Styrofoam ones are really neat, but they are not practical with all the high winds we get around here in October. So the creation of wood tombstones was born!

I quickly filled up our yard over the last few years with nice durable wood tombstones in varying designs, shapes, and sizes and I no longer have to chase them down the street.

I am always doodling new designs and I came up with the Boogie Man. He looked really good on my sticky note, so I decided to try to hand draw him bigger. I started off by cutting a large box open and lay it flat on the floor, as this will be my template for when I cut it out of wood. Then I go to work hand drawing the design onto the cardboard. I lightly draw my design until I get the right size and shape, and then trace over it with a Sharpie Marker.


Then, I use an X-acto knife to carefully cut out the cardboard design. This part is really time consuming and you need to make sure that you have more cardboard under your cardboard piece so you don’t cut the floor or your carpet accidentally. (I am very careful with this step)


Once the design is all cut out of the cardboard, my template is now ready to trace on a piece of wood. I normally use pressed wood for my tombstones, but I got a nice free piece of 1/2″ plywood and decided to use this for my Boogie Man. (getting a free piece of wood is like candy to me!)


Now that my design is all traced onto the plywood, I need to drill a nice sized hole in the areas that need to be cut out. I do this so I can insert my Jigsaw blade into that area.


I carefully insert the Jigsaw blade into the drill hole and start cutting out my design slowly. The first thing that I noticed is that cutting plywood is so much nicer than pressed wood because the wood does not splinter with the blade.


I really love working with wood and creating new Halloween props! By the way, this Craftsman evolv Jigsaw that I am using is variable speed and you can change the blades really quickly.


The Boogie Man is almost complete! Isn’t he adorable!


The only thing that I need to cut out is the base for the wood tombstone.


This is the completed Boogie Man tombstone that I designed. I love the open design and I am now thinking a bit further on how to make this tombstone better. Since most tombstones you place in your yard are only seen from the front, I might take some frosted thick shelf liner and glue a piece behind the design, then add a light so the Boogie Man lights up. I am sure an awesome red or purple glow behind the Boogie Man will do the trick. I will do an updated post on what I decide to do to finish off the Boogie Man.

So, what are you doing to prepare for the arrival of Halloween? Have you started any paper mache pumpkins this year? I hope so, because it takes time to complete these projects, so you need to prepare in advance!


Post Halloween Highlights 2013


Halloween 2013 was a typical night for us.  It rained the entire day and it rained (rather poured) the entire two hours of trick-or-treating.  It was miserable.  I felt bad for all the little trick-or-treators who were bundled up from the cold, their costumes were covered up so they could keep warm, as they walked door to door under their parents umbrella.



We were all ready to bring up all of our expensive Halloween Animatronic props to set in the driveway for the kids, but due to the rainy conditions, we had to leave all of our “cool props” inside so they would not get ruined. We were bummed.  We could not even bring out our cemetery gateway on Halloween because that is only made of boxes, masking tape and some spray paint, and that would have been ruined by the rain, not to mention the winds.  Another bummer.


I spent about a half hour applying my Halloween makeup to transform myself into my favorite Johnny Depp character, Edward Scissorhand. All I kept thinking while I was standing outside in the rain was “I hope my makeup does not run”.  I stood there freezing my butt off in my costume and could not wait for the two hours of treat night to be over already.


We stood in between our front bushes next to the house trying to stay out of the rain and keep dry as we awaited for the kids to walk up the driveway. One by one, the kids arrived.  Since it was raining, we did not get the large groups we normally do in the first hour of trick-or-treating, so that means that we have lots of candy leftover.  (I guess that is not a “bad” thing), but we would have rather passed it all out to the kids.  


I am not sure if Murphy’s Law had anything to do with Halloween night, but the day before Halloween was absolutely beautiful weather (as we even enjoyed a fire pit that night and had our neighbors come over), and the day after Halloween was overcast, but no rain.  We are used to these weather conditions, always hope for the best…..but we never get what we want for treat night.

Here is a quick video of our front yard home haunt with music, two fog machines going, and yes, Nikita barking in the background at the trick-or-treators!  (LOL)


What’s In Your Halloween Treat Bag?

With Halloween quickly approaching, we are all scrambling around trying to find the money to purchase the gobs of candy we hand out to our trick-or-treaters, because money does not grow on trees ya know.  We know that purchasing enough candy for the two hours of fright night is hard to judge, and the last thing you want is angry kids who are told that you ran out of candy.  YIKES!  (if that happens, get ready to get your house egged!)

Yes, it happens.  You mis-calculate the amount of treat bags every year, and I created a little something to help you with your candy consumption.

candy-counterOk, now that you have your candy under control and know exactly the right amount to purchase, you still might be missing something in your treat bags.  What is it you ask?  Now that is a good question, thanks for asking! For me, I look at Halloween Treat Bags as a golden opportunity.  They are a golden opportunity to spread the word about YOUR BLOG!  And who doesn’t want more traffic and more followers to your blog?  We all love it when we get a new subscriber/follower, and we love it when our views skyrocket, and treating your Halloween Candy Bags as gold is another great way to spread the word about your blog!


I create every year, a new blog card to insert in our Halloween Treat Bags. We get about 200 kids in our neighborhood and I can’t pass up this opportunity to hand out 200 blog cards.  This year, I decided not to use the typical treat bags, and rather used the small “Snack Bags” to fill up with candy.  They worked out perfectly!  And, you all know that the parents always check their kids candy when they come home and what will they find in your treat bag?  Your blog card!  Of course, curiosity will get the best of them and you better believe that they will hop on their computer and type in your blog’s address, and if they like what they see, you have just gained a new follower!  Now, isn’t that easy?

If you need some assistance in creating a quick blog card that you can printout at home, let me know and I can help you out!  You don’t want to miss out on this golden opportunity to spread the word about your blog, and this is just another way to do it!  Personally, I carry around my blog cards wherever I go and pass them out, to…everyone!

So there you have it, I have successfully helped you figure out how much candy you will need for your Halloween treat bags and have given you a golden opportunity to make your blog stats soar!  We always have room for another friend, right?

Also, on a side note, I have seen all over the place and on Pinterest where people are designing little match box covers.  Of course I thought these were adorable and are for the little square match boxes with the little wood stick matches.  I had to try to make some for Halloween.  The little Match Boxes are 2″ x 1 1/2″, and yes it is a small area to design something on, but I was up to the challenge.


I just used my Microsoft Publisher software and opened a blank page.  Then I created a box the size of the match box, and added some clipart and my blog’s web address.  Once I liked what I created, I just copied the image a bunch of times to fill an 8 1/2″ x 11″ full sheet sticker paper, printed it out, cutout the design and then stuck them on the match boxes.  (NOTE:  I am going to pass these out to the parents on Halloween night and these match boxes will not be placed in the kids treat bags as kids should not play with matches)  This is just another way of getting the word out about your blog, and everyone needs matches to light candles in their homes, right?  What better way to “keep” your blog in their sight!

A Wickedly Fun Weekend

The weather cooperated for us on Saturday as we began to carry upstairs from storage, all of our Halloween prop boxes.  Oh the many trips up and down the stairs with all of our wicked delights for the front yard.  The detailed decorating has begun.  (the photo below is a little ghostly effect that I used to enhance our yard)


As I worked on carrying up all of the props, Roy went to work unpacking them and positioning them in the front yard.  Our Home Haunt has started to come alive!


With each prop carefully staked into the ground, a colored flood light was also placed in front of each item to illuminate it at night.  It was like watching a synchronized swimming routine as we worked in sync putting the yard together.


Once we had all the props and lights set in place, Roy had to connect all of them with extension cords.  Yep, you guessed it, we have “tons” of extension cords!  So far, if we did not lose count, we have approximately 15 flood lights, 13 extension cords, 14 tombstones, and at least 15+ props right now in our front yard.


Our wickedly fun decorating weekend definitely caused a stir in the neighborhood, as people slowed down to look and/or stopped to say what a great job we were doing, and even our neighbors stopped by to check out our new prop additions.


Even our favorite police officer, Houston, stopped by say hello as he was patrolling the neighborhood for speeders on our side street.  (he even ticketed about five speeders and stop sign crashers this weekend alone while we were outside!)


And, just so you know...WE ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING DONE DECORATING WITH OUR PROPS!  We still have lots more elaborate props to bring out in the yard, but we don’t display these until the day of Halloween because they are too expensive to be left out in the yard as they could be stolen.  We have 6′ tall animatronic props like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, a Ripping Reaper of Souls who rips open his chest to reveal all the souls he has captured, and Freddie Krueger, along with LED lighted ghosts, and metal orange lighted willow trees to light up our graveyard.  Dapper Death and Count Dracula will also make their appearance too!

Lunging Mad Demon DogWe have a new freakishly scary Halloween prop on order to add to our graveyard and we are certain that this prop will scare the pants off all the trick-or-treaters.  It is called a Lunging Mad Demon Dog that growls then lunges forward when anyone passes by.  Hee hee hee, we can’t wait to see the reactions of the parents too as they stand on the sidewalk and watch their kids walk past this guy!



The green guy in our front door is from WOW Windows and all that it is, is a piece of plastic that you hang over your windows and then just turn a light on behind it.  That’s it!  Nikita was peeking out the front door under the green guy to see what was going on outside.

If the kids want candy, they have to walk through our spooky Cemetery Gateway on our driveway (which we put up on the day of Halloween), walk through the low laying fog that covers the front yard, and past a few scary props just to get candy.  Why make it easy on them, right?  That is what Halloween is all about, scary stuff and things that go bump in the night, so beware if you are heading to our house on Halloween!  (the photo below is from a prior year, and this is not yet up in the driveway)

2011 Home Haunt Photo

Stay tuned for more Halloween posts and our final spooky post after Halloween, as we should be able to include a video of our yard in action, along with music too.  Oh, did I forget to mention that all of our lights are hooked up to a Gemmy Light Show? Yep.  Roy hooks up everything to this expensive piece of Halloween equipment and all of our lights “dance” to whatever spooky music is playing through speakers that are placed in the yard.  He adds all the Halloween themed songs to his iPod and then hooks the iPod to the Gemmy Light Show.  It is definitely a show that you don’t want to miss!

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave

I just happened to notice it the other day, on how the spiders around here are busy getting ready for Halloween too.  They are busy spinning their webs in each corner of our windows outside and I was going to use the broom to brush them away, but then I thought, no wait…. this is the perfect natural setting for Halloween.  Thank you spiders for helping out!


If you have noticed my absence (or maybe not), I have been busy over here working on all of my paper mache projects and I can gladly say that I am getting close to putting the final touches on them!  After our experience of almost catching our Jack Skeleton pumpkin on fire, we have ordered another camping light and will only use regular AA batteries in it, and not the Lithium ones as they turned out to be way too powerful for a little $5 camping light.


I finally got to spray paint two pumpkins yesterday with their first coat and still need a few more coats to cover the newspaper.  The insides are being spray painted with a Marigold color to brighten the insides when the camping light is lit.  (I know when my Sweetie came home yesterday, he was amazed on how good the pumpkins looked)



I am working on finishing the paper mache fireplace too, as I already have one side of stenciling done and will be working on more today.  Normally, when you stencil, you just tape the stencil down and dab your dauber of paint on it, but since the fireplace’s front is not quite flat, I used my silver Sharpie marker and am drawing the stencil on first, then hand painting the white zig zag on the fireplace.  I know, it is going to take a long time, but I have a steady hand and a small paint brush that is getting the job done.



We stopped in a garden center over the weekend to look at their Fall display and saw the most amazing mums and decorations.  I wanted to purchase everything because it was so beautiful, but refrained.  They had the cutest terracotta pumpkin on display and an adorable mummy that I really wanted, but after looking at the $69 price tag, I did not think it was cute anymore!  LOL  How come all of these garden centers jack up the prices on their stuff?  I wonder sometimes what the real cost of the items are.


Our garden is still producing and I am NOT going to tell you the exact amount of tomatoes that we have picked to date, because I want you all to guess!  What I can’t wait for, is what the “final” total will be when the season comes to an end.  All I can say, is that for the past week or so, I have picked at least 50+ Juliet Tomatoes and about 13+ Big Boy Tomatoes each day!  Yes, you heard that correctly!  So, just imagine after three days of heading out to the garden, I have picked more than 150 Juliet Tomatoes!  It is amazing, and we are definitely going to be planting these again next year.  We have kept Grandma & Grandpa fully loaded with tomatoes for sure this year!


Nikita and Bella have been silly again, but that should not surprise you in the least.  I got Nikita a new toy yesterday and she would not let Bella even come near it.  When Nikita took a nap, she would tuck her new toy under her leg or under her head to protect it from being stolen by Bella.  Don’t think that Bella did not try to snag it, as she put in a good effort all day.  Came close a few times though, so Bella had to find other things to amuse her, like my roll of packing tape!  When she got her hands on that roll, there was no giving it back to me.



Man, I love our dogs!  They are so lovable and snuggly and I love the looks on their faces when we play.  If they had eyebrows, they would be raised up like Spok’s in exhilaration of me chasing their butts all over the house and playing hide and seek from them.  (They always end up finding me though)

One of the funniest things that I heard this week was a comment that our UPS driver said.  He dropped off a package the other day and he said to me “It’s about time to decorate the yard isn’t it?”  Now that is hilarious that even he knows how much we love Halloween!

Paper Mache Halloween Projects


I know what you’re thinking, what are you doing talking about Halloween in July, right? Well, we LOVE Halloween and it takes time for us to prepare anything new for our Home Haunt, so we have to start early.

Paper Mache projects take a lot of time, with all the layers you need to attach, and with each layer, you need to do a lot of waiting to make sure each layer dries thoroughly before the next one is placed.

To start making a paper mache pumpkin, you can use whatever form you want, but I start usually with a large bag and fill it up with balled up newspaper or any other filling you can find.  Then, once the form is made, I take string and pull it up along the sides to make those nice indents along the sides of the pumpkin.  Next, you need to decide on how you are going to create the stem.  Sometimes, I just tie up the top of the bag for the stem and paper mache over it, other times, I take some newspaper and wrap it around a piece of wire so I can bend the stem in a funky shape.


I am currently working on a Haunted Fireplace for us to use either in the house as a decoration, or we can use it outside on Halloween night for another prop.  I am planning on setting some of my paper mache pumpkins on top of the mantel of the fireplace when I am done for a nice effect.


The one thing that I will need to work on and figure out how to do this, is to create a fake fire for the fireplace.  I have seen some neat effects of people using an old wire garbage can, a small fan, some red & orange lights, and some pieces of material.  The concept of this is to place the fan in the bottom of the garbage can so it blows upward and “moves” the pieces of material cut into flame shapes while the red and orange lights create the color of fire.  We’ll see if I can get this to work, when I get to that point or step in my process, but it surely will be interesting if I can pull this off.


If anyone would love to do some paper mache pumpkins for Halloween and need some help getting started, let me know and I will be more than happy to assist you.  I am far from being an expert on this, but with the more items that I make, I am learning some neat tricks along the way.