Monday, November 7, 2016


   Since ancient times, ghost stories—tales of spirits who return from the dead to haunt the places they left behind—have figured prominently in the folklore of many cultures around the world. A rich subset of these tales involve historical figures ranging from queens and politicians to writers and gangsters, many of whom died early, violent or mysterious deaths.

What Is a Ghost?

   The concept of a ghost, also known as a specter, is based on the ancient idea that a person's spirit exists separately from his or her body, and may continue to exist after that person dies. Because of this idea, many societies began to use funeral rituals as a way of ensuring that the dead person's spirit would not return to "haunt" the living.
   Places that are haunted are usually believed to be associated with some occurrence or emotion in the ghost's past; they are often a former home or the place where he or she died. Aside from actual ghostly apparitions, traditional signs of haunting range from strange noises, lights, odors or breezes to the displacement of objects, bells that ring spontaneously or musical instruments that seem to play on their own.

Early Ghost Sightings

  In the first century A.D., the great Roman author and statesman Pliny the Younger recorded one of the first notable ghost stories in his letters, which became famous for their vivid account of life during the heyday of the Roman Empire. Pliny reported that the specter of an old man with a long beard, rattling chains, was haunting his house in Athens. The Greek writer Lucian and Pliny's fellow Roman Plautus also wrote memorable ghost stories.
   Centuries later, in 856 A.D., the first poltergeist--a ghost that causes physical disturbances such as loud noises or objects falling or being thrown around--was reported at a farmhouse in Germany. The poltergeist tormented the family living there by throwing stones and starting fires, among other things.

Three Famous Historical Ghosts

   One of the most frequently reported ghost sightings in England dates back to the 16th century. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, was executed at the Tower of London in May 1536 after being accused of witchcraft, treason, incest and adultery. Sightings of Boleyn's ghost have been reported at the tower as well as in various other locations, including her childhood home, Hever Castle, in Kent.
   America's own rich tradition of historical ghosts begins with one of its most illustrious founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin. Beginning in the late 19th century, Franklin's ghost was seen near the library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; some reports held that the statue of Franklin in front of the society comes to life and dances in the streets.
   Though many ghost sightings have been reported at the White House in Washington, D.C., over the years, perhaps no political figure has made so frequent an appearance in the afterlife as Abraham Lincoln, the nation's 16th president, who was killed by an assassin's bullet in April 1865. Lincoln, formerly a lawyer and congresseman from Illinois, is said to have been seen wandering near the old Springfield capitol building, as well as his nearby law offices. At the White House, everyone from first ladies to queens to prime ministers have reported seeing the ghost or feeling the presence of Honest Abe--particularly during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, another president who guided the country through a time of great upheaval and war.

Haunted Places

    Some locations simply seem to lend themselves to hauntings, perhaps due to the dramatic or grisly events that occurred there in the past. Over the centuries, sightings of spectral armies have been reported on famous battlefields around the world, including important battle sites from the English Civil War in the 17th century, the bloody Civil War battlefield of Gettsyburg and the World War I sites of Gallipoli (near Turkey) and the Somme (northern France). 
   Another particularly active center for paranormal activity is the HMS Queen Mary, a cruise ship built in 1936 for the Cunard-White Star Line. After serving in the British Royal Navy in World War II, the 81,000-ton ship retired in Long Beach, California in 1967; the plan was to turn it into a floating luxury hotel and resort. Since then, the Queen Maryhas become notorious for its spectral presences, with more than 50 ghosts reported over the years. The ship's last chief engineer, John Smith, reported hearing unexplained sounds and voices from the area near the ship's bow, in almost the same location as a doomed British aircraft cruiser, the Coracoa, had pierced a hole when it sank after an accidental wartime crash that killed more than 300 sailors aboard. Smith also claimed to have encountered the ghost of Winston Churchill--or at least his spectral cigar smoke--n the prime minister's old stateroom aboard the ship. Many visitors to the Queen Mary have reported seeing a phantom crewmember in blue overalls walking the decks. Around the ship's swimming pool, reports have been made of mysterious splashes and ghostly women in old fashioned bathing suits or dresses, along with trails of wet footsteps appearing long after the pool had been drained.

    Among major cities, New York is especially rich with ghost stories. The spirit of Peter Stuyvesant, the city's last Dutch colonial governor, has been seen stomping around the East Village on his wooden leg since shortly after his death in 1672. The author Mark Twain is believed to haunt the stairwell of his onetime Village apartment building, while the ghost of poet Dylan Thomas is said to sometimes occupy his usual corner table at the West Village's White Horse Tavern, where he drank a fatal 18 shots of scotch in 1953. Perhaps the most famous New York ghost is that of Aaron Burr, who served as vice president under Thomas Jefferson but is best known for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Burr's ghost is said to roam the streets of his old neighborhood (also the West Village). Burr's spectral activity is focused particularly on one restaurant, One if By Land, Two if By Sea, which is located in a Barrow Street building that was once Burr's carriage house. 


   With winter upon us, we thought it would be fun to share a fun project of ours with you: snowflake designs with a Star Wars twist.
   Last year’s wild success with our original designs prompted us to spend some time this year polishing those designs and coming up with some new ones. We had so much fun in fact that there are 19 new designs altogether.


  1. Click Diagram link to download the PDF
  2. Print the PDF
  3. Cut the circle out
  4. Fold the diagram. We found doing a accordion fold worked better for us.
  5. Cut the grey area out (you may need an Exacto knife for some of the designs)
  6. Unfold and hang!

Individual Diagrams

Stormtrooper - Star Wars Snowflake


Boba Fett - Star Wars Snowflake

Boba Fett

Darth Vader - Star Wars Snowflake

Darth Vader

Clone Trooper - Star Wars Snowflake

Clone Trooper

Han Solo - Star Wars Snowflake

Han Solo

T-47 airspeeder - Star Wars Snowflake

T-47 Airspeeder

Imperial logo - Star Wars Snowflake

Imperial Logo

Rebel logo - Star Wars Snowflake

Rebel Logo

Republic logo - Star Wars Snowflake

Republic Logo

Additional Diagrams from Full Collection

X-Wing starfighter - Star Wars Snowflake

X-Wing Starfighter

TIE Fighter - Star Wars Snowflake

TIE Fighter

Star Destroyer - Star Wars Snowflake

Star Destroyer

Millennium Falcon - Star Wars Snowflake

Millennium Falcon

Princess Leia - Star Wars Snowflake

Princess Leia

Eta-2 interceptor - Star Wars Snowflake

Eta-2 Interceptor

Death Star - Star Wars Snowflake

Death Star

Clone Trooper 2 - Star Wars Snowflake

Clone Trooper 2


  I really liked this project when I was surfing around the net.  It comes from www.flamingotoes.com.  I hope you like it as much as I have.  The mention of holidays get me going to do new projects and crafts for the coming year.  This would also be a great gift for someone (like a grandma or mom) who like signs, Christmas and loves country decor.

Candy Cane Kitchen Sign

Hello all!! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving and are all ready to dive into Christmas! We have been listening to Christmas music and tonight we’re going to watch a Christmas movie and start decorating the house. I’m so excited. :)
This is a re-post of my Candy Cane Christmas Sign that I posted over at Tatertots and Jello recently. I’ve added in a couple of pictures and instructions for more details – I tend to over-detail tutorials sometimes and I didn’t want to blast the readers over there with pictures. But I thought I’d add them back in for you (because you’re used to me doing that :), plus they include some of the products I used and I can enter it in the DIY Club monthly contest!
So with no further rambling, here’s the tutorial!
I have a fun Christmas Sign tutorial for you – my Candy Cane Kitchen Sign!

Isn’t it fun and vintage-y?
I got the inspiration for this sign from this super cute plate I found at Pier 1.

I just fell in love with the design but I decided I needed it on a bigger, grander scale.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
• 1 – 1×6 piece of wood, cut into three 16″ pieces
• Glue
• Craft Paints & a variety of brushes
• Base Color Spray Paint
• Freezer Paper
• Exacto Knife and Cutting Board
• Sandpaper
• Iron
• Design Patterns – Click Here to Download
(I also have these patterns available in JPEG form if you have a Silhouette and would like to use them!)
I started off by recreating the design on my computer. Then I took each segment and made a separate paper pattern for each. You can skip that and use the Design Patterns I created if you want.
Cut your wood into three 16″ pieces.
(Which Mr. F.T. kindly cut for me and he later pointed out that I didn’t mention it in the Tatertots and Jello post. Since he apparenly felt the need to be famous too I am now mentioning it. Thanks honey for cutting the wood. He’s going to absolutely love that I did this. ;)
Glue the three sections of wood together, along the long sides, so you make one large square.

Clamp the wood together while it dries.

You can skip this next step if you want, it’s your call.
Go out to the garage and check your wood – and realize you’ve glued it to the concrete.
Say some fake swear words and pry it up with the hugest screwdriver you can find. Nice.

Consider setting your boards on something else, or upright, while they glue.
Gorilla Glue expands as it dries. If you are more careful than I was, you can wipe the glue off as it expands and you won’t have this issue at all.
Once your boards are glued together, spray paint the front with your base color.

I used a Krylon Burgundy but it wasn’t quite dark enough, so I did three coats, one Burgundy, one Black, and the last Burgundy. That gave me the nice dark red color I was looking for, with the added benefit of another layer of color that will show when it is distressed.

I believe you could do several of these next steps with a Silhouette or other cutting machine. I do not have a magical machine so we’ll be doing this old school.
Cut out all your pattern pieces. You will need to tape several of the large pieces together since they are too big to print out on one sheet of paper. On the “Cane” Pages, I’ve left the outline of the word “Candy” so you will know how close together to place the words.
Layout everything on the boards to check your placement.

Trace the designs onto Freezer Paper. Leave enough room around the designs so that when you paint, there is plenty of Freezer paper around the stencil.

Paint your base colors on the sign with your craft paint.
The craft paint colors I used (all from Walmart) were Folk Art Calypso Sky (light turquoise), Cardinal Red (dark red) and Navy Blue (dark blue).

Cut out your stencils. I used an exacto knife on a self-healing cutting mat.

You don’t need to worry about the little snow marks or the windows. You can add those details back in by hand later.
Lay the tree stencil at the top of the board so that the bottoms of the trees just barely overlap into the red section.
Lightly iron on the stencil.

Here are some tips for ironing onto wood.
• You don’t want the iron super hot. It will cause the paint to bubble excessively. We want a little of this, because it will help with distressing, but not too much.
• Be careful to keep the iron on the freezer paper. Use the tip and sides if you need to. Paint WILL come off the wood and onto your iron if you iron on the painted section. If this happens use a balled up damp paper towel and wipe it off while the iron is hot.
Once the stencil is in place, paint the trees and house red (Cardinal Red).
While that is drying you can do the same thing with the Kitchen and Bakery stencil. I did the little stars by hand, and I used the same light turquoise paint (Calypso Sky) that was at the top.
For the letters that had pieces inside (B, E, and A) I cut those little pieces out separately and then placed them in position before I ironed it on.

After you paint in the designs, lift the stencil. You could have some base paint come off, because of the ironing. This is fine. Saves work later.
There is a chance that the paint will leak under the stencil just a bit. Once the paint dries, just go over the edges a bit with the color below and paint over those little sections with a tiny brush. This will clean everything up.

In this picture you can see the stars, the snow on the trees, and the windows of the house. You can also see where some paint came up with my stencil. Cool huh?
Next steps are the large green circle, the candy cane, and the snowflake on the top right.

For the candy cane, I stenciled in a lighter red(FolkArt Apple Red) than the base red, and then painted the white(FolkArt Wicker White) stripes by hand. You could make two stencils if you don’t want to free hand it, and then stencil the white once the red has dried.
Once the green(FolkArt Fresh Foliage) circle has dried, stencil on the other snowflake.

Last stencil – the Candy Cane lettering!

That looks pretty awesome, but it’s way too “new” looking. Time to distress! Or in other words – scrape off some of your previous hard work. ;)
For the distressing, I sanded all four edges. I used smallish pieces of freezer paper at different parts on the sides and ironed them on, then pulled the paint off.
Then I sanded some of the lettering and shadows. If you look closely you can see that I sanded a shadow around the Capital C in “Cane”. You can also do extra sanding on the places the boards are seamed together and any knots or irregularities in the wood.
I finished with a light sanding in both directions over the whole sign. Don’t go all in one direction with your overall sanding. It wouldn’t distress that way normally and will look more realistic if you sand in several directions.
Here are some close ups of the distressing.

Add in some hanging hardware if you are going to hang your sign.
And we’re all done!! So much more fun than a little plate right?

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!!