How to Decorate Handmade Tombstones with Stencils

It all starts from somewhere.  An idea pops into your head, you think about it, you ponder awhile, then you try to turn your idea into reality.  That is why my Mommy did.  For years, they have been complaining about how their styrofoam tombstones keep falling down in the yard, breaking apart from the strong winds in the Fall and blowing down the street into a neighbors yard.  So, back in July, Mommy started on her trek to figure out how to create some tombstones for their yard that would not fall over and could withstand strong winds.  Daddy purchased a few sheets of pressed wood, and that got Mommy well on her way.

Staining a Tombstone

Next, was to figure out a few designs of tombstones that would look great.  So, Mommy sat down and started to draw out some designs on a little piece of paper, then she turned those little sketches into larger drawings onto pieces of thick cardboard.  She then cut the designs out with an exacto knife and traced them onto the pressed wood.  Now came the fun part – cutting them out!  She started out using a jigsaw that Daddy had and that worked great, until she almost burned up the motor on it from the massive amounts of abuse and use on this poor little hand saw.  She eventually had to purchase another jigsaw which she got at a steal at Sears Hardware that had more power.  This new jigsaw was the answer to all of her dreams as it cut through the pressed wood like it was butter!  Then, Mommy had to figure out how to make the tombstones stand up in the yard.  She cut small bases of wood for each tombstone, then drilled 4 holes in the bases.  Two of the holes were for the 7″ spikes to pound them into the ground (the tombstones would not blow away for sure now), and the other two holes were for the wood screws to attach the tombstone to the base. 

Mommy was off and running cutting out tombstone after tombstone, one design after another, until she realized that she has made over 15 wood tombstones!  Holy crap, she thought!  We’re going to have a yard filled with tombstones now!  Then, she had an idea to put some of the tombstones on eBay and their website to see if they would get any “bites”.  Well, they did in fact!  Daddy & Mommy sold 13 different tombstones in total and were happy that they could make someones Halloween special.  They sold the tombstones not painted so that you could decorate them yourself!  View them here!

After all of the tombstones were cut and sanded to perfection, we could now paint them.  Paint them?  Holy cow, what should we use?  We started off with gray primer and sealed the tombstones well, then used different Krylon spray paint on top of the primer.  Krylon offers some really neat spray paint that comes out actually looking like granite or hammered steel, and they even have one called Glowz that once sprayed onto a white tombstone it makes it glow in the dark. (as it charges up with daylight)

Now, with the tombstones painted comes the fun part – the stenciling!  Man, what do you put on a tombstone?  We thought this part would be easy, but trying to come up with what to write on our tombstones was more difficult that we thought.  Trying to come up with a good epitaph was not easy, not to mention that it had to “fit” on the tombstone too.  We are just glad that we started really early on this project as it has stretched out for months for us, but that is only because this was our first time trying to create our own Halloween props.  Next year, we will be ready with more ideas! 

 


Stenciling on your tombstones can be done in a few ways, as I am sure there are more ways to do this than what we used, but here are some of our ideas.  a) Purchase actual stencils (this is the quickest way to stencil) and trace onto tombstone – we used a stencil called “Girls are Weird” (We know, strange name for a stencil).  b) Printout your words in the font of your choice onto cardstock, then cut each letter out with an exacto knife (this takes a lot of time and patience, but once the letters are cut, the hard part is done), then just trace around your cardstock letters onto your tombstone.  c) Purchase already cut wood letters from a craft store (this is the easiest way to do it) and glue them onto the tombstone. Or, if you feel that you are creative and want to take on this task… d) Cut your own letters out of wood with your jigsaw.  (We cut RIP letters out of wood and this took a long time and was very tedious to do, but once they were done, they looked just as good as the store bought ones) 

So that’s it!  Creating Halloween props is fun, time consuming, and sometimes you can even learn a new swear word in the process, but the results are amazing!  What we have ended up with are Halloween tombstones that can withstand strong winds, will not fall down, will not break apart, and look awesome!   Just remember, it all starts with an idea, it’s up to you what to do with that idea!

Decorating for Halloween

 

                                           The time FINALLY arrived…. it was time to cut Daddy’s pumpkin!  Daddy could not wait to finally get the chance to cut his own grown pumpkin this weekend as he was so proud of it.  If you were following our story of our attempt to grow pumpkins in our backyard, you will remember that we had problems from the start.  The rainy weather demolished the first packs of pumpkins planted, so re-planting was next.  We waited impatiently for the first pumpkin plants to emerge from the ground, only to have them chewed off by chipmunks.  Still, we weren’t worried because we had so many pumpkin plants planted and felt that we had a good chance of more little sprouts.  Well, one after another little sprout appeared and we got so happy, until the next day they were gone – chipmunks again.  We ended up with just a few pumpkin plants and we were uncertain if these guys would make it, so we waited.  Well, one plant took off and grew to a vine of more than 19′ with approximately 17″ wide leaves.  We thought that since this plant has grown so big, that nothing would touch it, we were so wrong.  The chipmunks left this plant alone (finally), but the deer had a field day one night on our pumpkin vine and ate half of the main vine.  Since they ate the main vine, it stunted the growth of the other vines with all of the unpollinated small pumpkins, so we were left with just our one pumpkin.  We were so unhappy with all the damage that the deer did, but we are glad to announce that our one pumpkin made it to an amazing 20.4 pounds!  After Halloween, Daddy is going to take all of the pumpkin seeds from his pumpkin, clean them, and store them away for next year and use them to plant more pumpkins. 

Daddy & Mommy started pulling out all of their Halloween decorations over the weekend and Mommy went into overdrive painting all of the wood tombstones she cut with the jigsaw, while Daddy carried up props from storage for the front yard and started placing them in the grass. 

It took them over three hours to get everything in the yard for now, but there is still a lot more props that will be placed outside, but they can’t put them out yet because these are the expensive ones, like Daddy’s animatronic Freddy, Jason, and his 6′ tall Ripping Reaper of Souls that rips open his cloak to show all the souls in his chest.  Pretty cool, eh? 

It was a long weekend and Daddy & Mommy are pooped from all the work they did.  Mommy is still painting & staining tombstones, but the yard looks great.  They even had Grandpa help fix one of their props, a 63″ Standing Ghoul that had a broken clamp, and we knew that Grandpa was the only one that could fix this, and he did!  (Thanks Grandpa!) 

I still don’t have my Halloween costume done yet, but Auntie Rene sent us some great photographs of neat costumes for pets (thanks Auntie) to help us get a costume idea.  We still think that I might be a lion for Halloween, but you’ll have to wait and see what I end up as.

Monday was kinda crazy over here because Daddy & Mommy had eight items that sold over the weekend on their eBay store, so lots of Halloween products had to get wrapped up for shipping.  I helped Mommy get everything done too, as I sniffed all of the product and chewed a little on each of the boxes, so if anyone of you get a box with a little chew mark on it – that was me!  She spent the entire day getting all of these packages ready for the UPS man, and I had to take a break and I napped amongst all of the boxes in the kitchen. 

How are you decorating for Halloween this year?  What is your costume?

Almost Got Skunked!

It amazes me every Monday when I reflect back to my weekend on how much one dog can cram into three days.  I am on high alert for what goes on around here and I know when something does not belong or a stranger is lurking whom I have never seen before and I alert Daddy & Mommy to what I find.  But, when it’s time for bed and I hit those nice fluffy blankies, I am out like a light, feet up in the air, dead to the world and its surroundings.  And that has been a HUGE problem these past few days.  I have talked about all the deer we have around here a lot, and I do watch them from every window, but we have had some major damage to our yard over the last week and a half from the bucks!  They, for some reason, have chosen our yard to “Mark their Territory”, both the front yard and back, and they are making huge ruts in the lawn which has torn up the grass from one end of the yard to the other. 

Deer Damage: Click on photo to enlarge

Pieces of grass and dirt chunks are strewn everywhere and now our once beautiful looking lawn, has turned into what it looks like “divots” from a golfer on a golf course.  (I didn’t hear the bucks yell “F O U R”, or I would have woke up)  Daddy & Mommy are really upset – the damage is done and it keeps happening.  Every morning we wake up and look outside, MORE ruts!  We started thinking that it was just our lawn until yesterday we noticed our neighbors lawn had ruts too, but that still does not make it right. 

Daddy and Mommy did a whirlwind shopping trip on Saturday and stopped at some craft stores to see if they could find the supplies they need for Halloween.  They found these neat 3″ plastic letter stencils that they are going to use on their wood tombstones for epitaphs and the stencil font was called “Girls are Weird”.  Strange name, but the stencil font is cool.  Mommy was even practicing on paper to see how wide the words would get just to make sure they fit well on the tombstone. 

And, speaking of tombstones……Daddy & Mommy finally surprised Grandma with the tombstone that they made for her.  She was blown away that we made her a Halloween decoration and she loved it!  She could not stop looking at it and giving them hugs!  Her tombstone was painted with gray primer first then a Krylon “Make it Stone” spray paint was applied to give it a stone texture and finally a clear coat was applied to seal it from the weather.  Grandma wanted her tombstone to be placed in her flower bed so she could see it from the house and enjoy it!  Glad you liked your tombstone Grandma!  We love you! 

Anyhow, after Daddy & Mommy got back from their errands, they took me to PetSmart since I was good, and they felt bad that they left me alone earlier in the day.  That’s ok, I mostly slept on the bed while they were gone and watched a few cartoons too.  Well, on this particular trip to PetSmart, I was bad.  I would not listen and just kept running up to every person I saw like it was my first time out of the house.  Geez, what got into me?  I know Mommy was getting mad at me, but I could not stop.  All the PetSmart employees greeted me, as usual, when I entered the store and Jane and Amber fed me treats, one after the other.  I even saw some of the customers just standing there watching me and my antics and they laughed.  I also met this really nice couple whom I loved and they just kept petting me and hugging me.  Aw, they were so nice!   Also, Amber the PetSmart trainer even was chasing me around the store – man oh man did I love that!  She kept goofing with me every time she ran into me in the store.  (I love that kind of silliness!)  Mommy and I sat down and checked out all the kitties that were waiting to be adopted while Daddy snapped a good photo of us.  And, my best bud Brett was grooming some doggies (who did not look like they were having any fun) and he came out real quick to see me & give me hugs!  Gotta love Brett! 

Now, comes the interesting part of the weekend… Mommy and Me almost got skunked…..twice!  Yep, you heard that right!  Once on Saturday night and again on Sunday night.  Mommy took me out for my last bathroom break of the day and when we came around the corner of the house, a skunk was walking towards us on the grass, then turned around real quick (because we startled it) and Mommy did some quick thinking and grabbed me and we ran super fast back into the house.  My little heart was beating like crazy on the landing and she gave me a hug to calm me down.  What just happened I was thinking and Daddy asked that too and we told him that we just ran into Pepe le Pew outside.  He said “Oh Man” and could not believe it, because we have not seen any skunks out here at all, until today.  Then, it happened again on Sunday night, the exact same scenerio…. went outside for my last pee break and WHAM…. that skunk was in the exact same spot we saw it the night before, and….we did the same thing… R U N!   That is one thing that we are for sure that we don’t want to get sprayed by.  Who would hug me then?  I would smell badly. 

What a weekend I had, just packed with fun & excitement (only if you can call almost being skunked twice as excitement), but we are glad that the Cleveland Browns WON yesterday!  YIPPEE, yes we know it was only by a point and in the last seconds on the clock, but a WIN is a WIN and we’ll take it!  Way to go Brownies!  And, if that is still not enough stuff crammed into a weekend, Mommy also painted her wood “EEK” letters and finished them with a nice clear coat.  I hope everyone had a fun filled weekend like I did…what will happen next? 

Do You Play With Your Food?

Lately, I have started this strange obsession.  I play with my food before I eat it.  I am sure that I am not the only one who does this, as some people have the strange quirk that their food cannot touch eat other on their plate, to which I think is strange, but who am I to judge when I play with mine first.  I am transitioning over from puppy food to adult food, now that I am under 30 days until I turn one, and I must think that my larger bites food is fun!  I take a piece out of my bowl, run around the house with it in my mouth, drop it on the floor, pounce on it a few times, then I lay down on the floor and eat it.  (it takes me awhile to eat a whole bowl of food when I do this, but it’s funny to watch)  I don’t do this every time I get the larger bites, but lately, most of the time I play with my food first. 

Begging for treats at the register

I went to my favorite place again this weekend, PetSmart and got to see all of my friends.  Daddy and I rooted through the clearance bin and checked out all the toys.  I got to meet a lot of new friends too that were in the store – they thought that I was so adorable.  One guy I met by the front door wanted to take me home with him, but I knew that would not happen as Daddy & Mommy know better.  This guy said that he wished he could have a doggie as beautiful as me, so I told him to check with the APL to see if he could get one.  (Hear that APL?  I am referring people to come visit you and adopt a pet)  I also got weighed at PetSmart since it has been awhile since we did this and we found out that I now weigh 59.4 pounds.  WOW!  I am almost 60 pounds!  I am for sure growing up! 

Mommy worked on the tombstones again this weekend and we now have 8 cut out.  She used the electric sander and sanded the tops of all the tombstones so that they are as smooth as a baby’s bottom and she even had an idea and cut out a bat and a moon.  She is going to paint the bat black (of course) and attach the bat to the moon after painting it a really cool orangish-yellow, then she’ll attach them to a doll rod and put outside as a decoration.  (Mommy is really creative, eh?!) 

Oh yeah, before I forget to mention, the little doggie that I mentioned earlier, Charlie, he was finally found and was reunited with his family!  We saw Charlie and his Mommy taking a walk this weekend in the neighborhood and we were so happy to know that he’s now back home! 

I hope everyone had a great weekend and are making some awesome plans for the 4th of July weekend!  As for me, I heard that the family is coming over for a cookout.  Great!  That means I get to see Grandma & Auntie again! 

Love Always from one food-playing puppy,
Nikita

30 Days Until I’m an Adult

It hits you when you’re not looking, it creeps up on you day after day, heck – it even lurks around the corner.  What is it you ask?  Adulthood!  I just turned 11 months old today and it hit me like a ton of bricks, that I now have 30 days until I become a full grown adult and remove myself from the puppyhood category.  WOW, now what do I do?  I’ve never been an adult before, so what changes?  I know one thing for sure, that my eating habits have changed in the past eleven months.  When I was first adopted and Daddy & Mommy brought me home, I scarfed down my food like there is no tomorrow, I am not even sure I chewed those little kibbles of Science Diet, and now, I take my time, chew each and every morsel in my bowl, and even take a few pieces out and play with them on the floor before eating them. 

So what’s this thing call Adulthood?  Am I going to have to apply wrinkle cream every night to my face, or will I start seeing a “pot belly” or “spare tire” around my waist now, do I have to exercise more, will I stop being carded now when I buy beer, will weird hair grow out of my ears (no wait, I’ve already got that going on), do I need to start trimming my nose hair, or the best yet…do I get to park in those handicap spots that are close to the building?  All of these are good questions, and even though I don’t know the answer of “what’s next” in this thing called Adulthood, I look forward to finding out. 

So, do you love Halloween as much as my Daddy & Mommy do?  I had my first experience with it last year when I was about three months old, and I never knew what would show up in the kitchen.  I ran into Michael Meyers & Jason Voorhees while entering the kitchen for a cool drink of water, and a black cat crossed my path while running under the kitchen table.  (isn’t that a bad thing?) So, to start off the season (you have to plan for Halloween early) Mommy started drawing some life-sized tombstone templates that her and Daddy are going to cut out of wood.  I gave Mommy my two cents worth of ideas while I laid next to her on the kitchen floor when she was drawing…. oh wait, I think I actually told Mommy that looks like something I could pee on in the yard! (ha ha)  She did not think that was funny! LOL    They make a really neat “home haunt graveyard” every year, but have a major problem with the foam tombstones falling down or blowing down the street from the high winds we get, so they decided this year to cut some wood tombstones.  After the tombstones are cut out, a base will be made for them and it will be attached to the tombstone.  A few drill holes in the base will be used to secure them into the ground with some gutter stakes.  And, of course, the most important part is painting them to look old, adding some cool embellishments to the tombstones (RIP) or even some moss glued in the right places will turn these simple tombstones into an awesome home haunt.  When you get the chance, no hurry, but check out their website at www.themesnthings.com to see if you can find something haunting for your own home haunt this year. 

Hey, don’t forget that Father’s Day is tommorrow!  You still have time to shop!

Love ~ Birthday Girl Nikita