Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Handmade Halloween: Horrifying Headstones

Clever epitaphs make homemade tombstones unique. I borrowed ideas from celebrity stones: "in" was Jack Lemmon's epitaph, "That's all folks" was Mel Blanc's, and "Nevermore" was part of Edgar Allen Poe's.

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Perhaps it was my past life as an art student in the '80s (yes, I was goth for a brief period of my life), but I really get into the costumes and I decorate the whole house, inside and out. I tend not to be too over the top in my outdoor decor, opting for a more subtle, haunted house look. This neighborhood has always been a big draw for trick or treaters, but now that several episodes of Grimm have been filmed here, I felt I needed to step up my game. I headed to Home Depot for supplies.

Horrifying Headstones

  • 1 Styrofoam Insulation Sheet (1/2" x 2' x 8')
  • 1 can Stone Textured Spray Paint
  • Sharp knife or saw
  • Assorted Acrylic Paints and brushes

Cut tombstone shapes from stryofoam board using a knife or thin bladed saw. Do this outside, as it gets pretty messy. First, I plotted out the general size of the tombstones and marked with pen on the plastic my initial shapes. I cut out the rectangles first and then cut out the domed top.

Peel off foil and plastic protective skins from the styrofoam. Using a sandpaper block, sand down the rough edges. Wear a mask, because styrofoam dust gets everywhere. Dull any "sharp" corners and edges. Remember, these tombstones have been sitting out in your front yard for ages and are weathered and worn.

Next, line up tombstones on a tarp and evenly apply stone textured spray paint. If you spray each stone individually like I did, you may run out of paint (I ran out of paint), so try and do them all at once and get a light, even coating, then go back and add more "texture." The paint will need to dry overnight if left outside in a garage in the Pacific Northwest. It may dry faster in a drier environment.

Once dry, the fun begins! I applied black and green splotches to the sides of the stones to look like moss and mildew, using a piece of sponge and acrylic paint. After researching epitaphs online, I sketched the designs using chalk, then I painted the final art using latex acrylic paint.

One sheet of styrofoam will make four assorted sized tombstones. Dowel rods can be inserted into the bottom of the stones as supports to prop them up in the yard. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life is a Journey

Sneak preview: Life is a journey, not a destination
I almost titled this post "How I Spent (the end of) My Summer Vacation," but as I don't exactly take summer vacations...

Except this year I did. Well, you might call it a working vacation, if one can take a vacation during a sabbatical. I have spent the last month in Tok, Alaska, taking care of my 6 year old niece while my sister was away. For those who aren't in the know, my sister is Aliza Sherman Risdahl, social media and tech diva, and she travels quite a bit for work. September was a busy month for her so she called in the big guns to help out at home. That would be me. 

So, every morning I wake up my niece, make her breakfast and lunch, and get her to the bus stop on time. When she comes home from school, I sweep her off to her Native beading class, then return home to prepare dinner. After dinner, I make sure her homework is done, entertain her (or at least I find myself entertaining), then make sure she gets to bed on time.

I now can add child rearing to my list of life lessons. I've also learned how to drive an ATV, cook wild game (sheep burgers! moose stir fry!), clean moose hide, and I'm honing my knitting skills. If I were a Girl Scout, I'd give myself a badge. My actual reward was a week off from all of my busy-ness to explore Alaska. 

Me on the four-wheeler. ©leahsherman
Tok, Alaska, Sled Dog AND Social Media Capital of the World. ©leahsherman
Waiting for the school bus with the 6 year old. ©leahsherman
Me and moose hide (not for the faint of heart). ©leahsherman
Alaska, the beautiful. ©leahsherman
Matanuska Glacier. ©leahsherman
Close up of glacier. ©leahsherman
I have a zillion more photos of my Alaskan adventure week, a handful of which you can find on my Holistica Healthcare Facebook page. It's nearly impossible to take a bad landscape of Alaska, the state is so gorgeous, the lighting is near perfection. 

In addition to my day-to-day work, I've been designing pin-able photo quotes for a few of Aliza's clients. This has inspired me to create a few for Holistica and I've been tweeting, pinning, and posting as I come up with them. 

This is today's quote:

Fact: Sir William Osler, famed physician and brilliant diagnostician, is so reknowned for his aphorisms they are known as Oslerisms.

My "journey" as a super-Auntie ends next week and it's back to Portland and the urban farm for me. I miss my life back in Oregon, but my experiences here have enriched my life as a person and physician. I can't wait to return and resume my Alaska life lessons.

Here are the rest of the Holisti-quotes (working title) to date. Feel free to share them, just leave the little cow and credit in the bottom corner. And be sure to let me know what you think!

Was Voltaire a fan of naturopathic medicine?
Ain't that a fact!
This quote is one of my favorites.