I can’t tell you how long I sat staring at a blank computer screen before I finally got up the courage to type anything.  When I finally did start writing, nothing seemed to fit.  I felt like Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”, starting and deleting, starting and deleting.  And in the end, I’ve decided to go with his character’s strategy: the truth.

I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long.  I’ve had a rough year, full of death, but full of life, as well.  It’s been… well… hard.  Excruciatingly so.  I lost myself, my creativity, my hope, my joy, for quite a long time.  But more on that later, I promise.

Right now I want to focus on the positive.  I woke up this morning for the first time in a long time with the smallest spark of excitement to create something, and I latched onto it like a lifeline.  It was the first time I’d felt that in almost a year, and I have to admit: it felt wonderful.

I love Halloween.  Seriously, the thought of it turns me into a giddy seven-year-old every single year.  And this particular year, we actually have a yard!!  And because I’ll be 4 days away from delivering my baby (surprise!) this Halloween, the fam has decided to create a spooky graveyard to scare people and hand out candy.  MUHAHAHA– oh, I mean… Yay!  Won’t it be fun? *Cue innocent smile*

You’ll get to see our graveyard and all our Halloween decor take shape from the beginning, and if you want to add some creepiness to your yard this Halloween, here’s how:

materials: Most of this stuff you probably already have, so this project is not only easy, but cheap (my favorite kind!)  The only thing we had to buy was the styrofoam.

step 1: Call your local hardware stores and ask if they carry sheets of styrofoam insulation.  (I’ve never been to one of these stores that doesn’t carry them, but I’ve heard that not all of them do.) Grab your razor blade (you’ll see why in moment) then go and purchase that baby!! This one ran us about $15, but we’ll get a good 7-10 headstones from it, depending on the size and ornateness we decide on.

step 2: You might immediately freak out at the size of this thing, but don’t worry.  Do you see our rinky-dink car?  If we can transport this thing home with no problem, you can too!!  Simply use your razor blade to cut midway through the styrofoam from top to bottom, then snap them into smaller pieces.  Very easy, and surprisingly non-messy.

step 3: My manly soldier husband is going to kill me for posting these, lol.  Those socks are really… something else.  *Snicker*  But don’t judge him too harshly.  He’s very picky when it comes to socks (I blame the 10-mile ruck marches he has to do twice a week), and these are the ones he likes best.  And the best news is, they come in “neutral” colors!  (Sorry sock company, but that’s not neutral, lol.)

Anyway, step 3: If your styrofoam sheets are thick and stiff like ours, jump and walk around on it to give it some natural looking texture.

step 4: Use your razor blade to scuff up the sides.

**NOTE:** This is the step in the process where it gets a little messy, so if you decide to complete most of your tombstone inside, you might want to have a broom or a vacuum handy.  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to release all that styrofoam into the environment, because it’s so toxic to anything that comes in contact with it.

step 5: Tie your marker to your pen/pencil/stick using your cord/yarn/string.  (Honestly, this step is optional because you could totally freehand the next step.  But my husband is a bit of a perfectionist, lol.)

step 6: Use the above method to draw a nice, round top to your headstone (or you could just freehand it.)  And just to get your creative juices flowing, here are some other shapes that tombstones come in:

Image courtesy of Oocities.org

step 7: I know.  Seeing him with that razor blade on the hardwood floor just about gave me a freaking coronary.  His response?  “Babe, I dismantle bombs for a living.  I know how to be careful.”  Good point.  He says that trick is not to push too hard, as you don’t want to go through all the way through the styrofoam.  Basically the same concept as step 2.  But if you don’t dismantle bombs for a living, I totally understand if you want to do this outside.

step 8: This time you do want to cut all the way through the styrofoam.  Cut straight lines all around the curved, and snap the pieces off a little a time.  Babe, seriously.  I know you’re good, but could you be a little careful with that knife?

step 9: You could do this step after you added the letters, but the hubs got over-excited, lol.  I have to admit, this step is fun.  After all, what tutorial tells you to actually destroy what you’re working on?  And in my opinion, the more destruction, the better!!  This graveyard is supposed to be old and weathered, after all!!

step 10: Add the lettering.  Now, you do not have to get as fancy as my husband.  If it was up to me, I would have just carved stick letters into that thing.  But feel free to get as simple or as fancy as you’re comfortable with.  Here are just some examples of what you can put on your headstone:

Headstone ideas courtesy of Disneyland.

step 11: Use the razor blade to carve out the letters.

step 12: Add any more cracks or weathering that tickles your fancy.  Really tap into your inner three-year-old destructo mode.  You’re allowed, so go nuts!!

step 13: If you’re not already outside, take that beaten up puppy outdoors and give it a coat of grey spray paint.  It’s doesn’t have to be a solid coat – after all, it will be dark and poorly lit when these are on display.  But if there are specific places on your headstone where you want it to look really eaten away, you can spray the spray paint on thick.  Just give it a few moments between coats, as you don’t want a hole eaten all the way through through the styrofoam.

step 14: Add some highlights with the black spray paint.

step 15: This step is completely optional, but personally I thought it was one of my husband’s more brilliant moments. If you happen to get lucky time it right like we did, you can do this on a day where there is lots of freshly mowed grass around.  Simply take a few handfuls of grass and dab it onto the wet paint.  VIOLA!! Instant aging.

step 16: Let that baby dry, and you have yourself the start of a freaking awesome Halloween graveyard.

We stuck ours into the ground using tongue depressors cut into points on both ends, but you could use just about anything: wire coat hangers, L brackets, sticks.  And the brilliance with making these so early is that you have plenty of time to create them.  Just make one every few days for a couple weeks, and you’ll have an amazing looking graveyard by the time Halloween rolls around!!  I’ll post more pictures as we create more headstones.  

I’m sorry I was gone for so long.  I owe you all an explanation, and I promise I will explain soon.  In the meantime, it’s nice to be back among friends.  I love you all, and hope everyone has been doing well in my absence.  Until next time, my friends!!

**NOTE:** To see the link parties I am linking to, please click here.  Do yourself a favor and go check them out!!  They are AMAZING!!