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“When A Haircut, Isn’t Just A Haircut”

I once read that you carry the memory and knowledge of your life’s journey in your hair. Up until recently, I had the journey of 1,865 days in my hair.Handwritten word-journey of 1865 days

I sat in the salon chair with the stylist standing behind me, her left hand holding the 12-inch ponytail, her right hand holding the scissors, poised just above the hair-tie. She asked one more time, “Are you ready?” I answered without hesitation, “Yes”. This Continue Reading →

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Handcrafted Thanksgiving Pinecone Turkeys

Pinecone Turkey

From the archives: This project was originally posted last year but I thought that it was so fun, I should post again this year. Enjoy!

My kitchen sink is stacked with dishes, my dining room table is a mess, there’s food everywhere, and I had the best time!  I invited my family over for a crafting day and we revived a holiday tradition from my childhood…Thanksgiving Pinecone Turkeys.  Normally we would craft these before Thanksgiving Dinner, but this year I invited everyone over for an early crafting day so I could share this tradition with you in time for this year’s Thanksgiving celebration. You can see all of their wonderful creations in the Inspiration Gallery, at the end of this post.

These adorable little birds can be made by each guest before Thanksgiving dinner and used as “place cards” on the holiday table.  While guests are snacking on appetizers and waiting for dinner, have them gather around the table and create their own personalized Pinecone Turkey.

Set up a folding table, which you can cover with a plastic tablecloth if you prefer.  Then you’ll need:

  • Pinecones – 1 per person, medium sized.  If you’re lucky enough to have pinecones in the backyard, then save the gathering activity for the kids when they arrive for dinner.  I didn’t have pinecones, but before heading to the craft store to buy them, I asked my family to bring some.  I also put up a notice at work and a co-worker was more than happy to bring me a large bag full!
  • Craft Glue – several small bottles
  • Pipe Cleaners in a variety of colors – the kind with bumps
  • Wire cutters (to clip the pipe cleaners, scissors usually won’t do it)
  • Fancy Paper for name tags
  • 1 or 2 Paint Markers that coordinate with the name tag paper you choose
  • Googley Eyes
  • Any additional embellishments that you can’t live without!  (My family also likes to use small craft feathers in a variety of colors.)

Making Pinecone Turkeys

1. Start by shaking out the pinecones to make sure they are free of bugs and debris.  Set the pinecone on its side, in a position where it doesn’t wobble back and forth.

2. Use the wire cutters to cut the pipe cleaners between each bump.  I like to do this part before everyone arrives.
pipe cleaner bump
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3. Select a pipe cleaner bump and bend it in half to form a drop, and then twist the ends slightly so they stay together.

fold in halftwist the ends together    turkey tail feather
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4. Dab a little glue on the end and tuck it into the back (the larger end) of the pinecone.

insert tail featherinsert tail feather tail feather
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5. Continue to do this, making several rows until you’ve formed the turkey’s tail.

back of turkeytail feathers
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6. Next you’ll want to add the turkey’s head. Choose a pipe cleaner bump and bend it into a loose “S” shape and glue one googley eye on each side of the head. Then dab glue at the base of the head and tuck it into the front of the pinecone.

turkey head  turkey with google eyesside view of google eyes
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7. Add any additional embellishments that you like!

You can add wings to the turkey’s side using pipe cleaner bumps or small craft feathers, which you can also tuck into the tail.  There were some pine needles in with the pinecones, which a couple of people used as embellishment.  Some of us used very small feathers to create a “wobble” under the turkey’s chin and my mother even created a green feather fascinator* for her turkey!  For a final touch, use the paint marker to write your name on the fancy paper and have your guests display the name in front of their turkey, tucked into the turkey’s back or, like some of my family did, glue it to the turkey’s “butt”.

I hope you enjoy sharing this holiday tradition with your friends and family and feel free to send me pictures of the fun!

katie-only signature

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*If you’re not in the “know” about fascinators, those are the tiny embellished headpieces worn by the British at high society events…like the royal wedding.

Inspiration Gallery

Pine Cone Turkey, Mom Aunt Judy Turkey & predator katie: normal turkey Pine Cone Turkey, Steve DadKeithJustice...she's blindHappy Thanksgiving To All Of The Pine Cone TurkeysHappy Thanksgiving!

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The Nature Walk Project, Calendar: November 2012

Please feel free to download this month’s calendar page for your personal use as a printed wall calendar or electronically as the desktop background on your computer.

very time I head out on one of my nature walks, I can’t help but be enamored with the beauty that nature has to offer. All too often that beauty is fleeting, as lovely plants and habitats change with the seasons and never look exactly the same twice.  I find myself so hypnotized by this fleeting beauty that I will take photo after photo trying to capture just the right angle so I can look back and remember where I was standing, what it felt like and the colors of that moment.  While this is a lovely way to remember the places I’ve been, it often results in an abundance of photos. So I’ve decided to turn at least one of my nature walk photos into a calendar page each month.  I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading and virtually joining me on all of my nature walks.

This month’s calendar page features brilliantly colored, pink seed pods on a Maple tree that grows near my home.  I hope you have a wonderful November!

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Click here to learn more about The Nature Walk Project.

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The Nature Walk Project: One Year Later

This is it!  A year in the making!  I’ve been walking around the same lake, once a month for a year, documenting the seasonal changes, the animals and the plants.  Last night I took my final picture of this lovely, little lake path.  Below is a photo compilation of the wooden bridge that crosses the lake.  The photos start in October 2011 and ended last night, the last day of October 2012.

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A Year of Full Moons – October

he moon has reset and will soon start to wane.  This is your monthly reminder that now is the time to release any bad habits or negative thoughts you might be holding onto.  As our view of the moon shrinks, sliver by sliver, let it take that which you wish to release.  Allow yourself the freedom to let go.  It’s during this lunar phase that the growth of leaves on plants and trees starts to slow, because as the moonlight fades, the plants push their energy down to the their root systems.  Focus on strengthening your own roots, the part of you from which everything else grows and flourishes.

The quote on the photo above is from one of my favorite books, The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. The story is enchanting and always inspires me to go out and chase the moon.  I took the above photograph during our full October moon in Orlando, Florida, United States on October 28, 2012 at 9:14 p.m. EST, using my iphone.

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Check out more from A Year of Full Moons

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Celebrating the Multi-Generational Traditions of Women

Most of the images on my site are photographed by myself, however; this lovely image came from istockphoto.

I have studied herbalism for many years and enjoy using the knowledge that I have gained to create both simple and complex herbal remedies, delicious teas, tisanes and brews, and to make natural skin and hair care products.  I get to share a lot of this knowledge in my weekly column on hellogiggles.com as The 21st Century Herbalist.  Once a week I like to repost the column here, just in case you missed it!

Original publish date: September 20, 2012

enerations ago, there were tiny homes cobbled together by the people of the surrounding village, with each neighbor helping the next to create a community.  Inside these little homes you’d find simple furnishings and functional décor.  Keep looking and you’d notice a fire burning low in the hearth and table made of heavy wood, flanked by empty chairs and benches awaiting their occupants. On shelves sat tools worn with use, yet cared for by the very hands that worked them so hard.  If you were to open the cupboards, drawers and cabinets you’d find them brimming with trinkets of nature, bottles of herbal brews, oils, salves and lotions. This is where the secrets of generations past were stored.  This is where the true old wives tales were born and this is where they were passed on.

As an herbalist participating in traditions that were started long before I came into existence, I’m interested in the beginnings of these sacred practices.  When I use my mortar and pestle, I imagine the wise hands of elders cupping the hands of young ones, showing them the motions and flow needed to grind the herbs.  I picture small bottles of golden oils filled with the essences of plants and pure waters from rain, river and well, being set out for the brewing that was to come.  Around a table sat women of generations each with a journal, some as large as tomes, filled with the knowledge of their years.  Each book was tabbed with bits of ribbon and string, bookmarked with feathers and scrawled with herbal recipes. Back then (and even now) there were the few that could understand the plants, they were attuned to them and they knew how to use them.  It was the plant walker that usually became the medicine man or woman of the village.  As an herbalist of today, it is these medicine women of the past that I think of when making healing herbal brews.  Learning about traditions that started long ago and were enacted as hearth fires were lit, foods

…read more (you’ll be redirected to my column on hellogiggles.com)

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Normal Life: September 2012

October is under way and September already seems so far in the past.  As I looked back on all of the wonderful photos that I took during September I couldn’t help but realize just how great the normal life of a normal girl can be.

I’m so grateful for all of the normal bits from September:

  1. One little gecko gets in the house and I’m packing my bags and heading for the door!  Luckily, I came to my senses at the last moment (partially influenced by the threat of loosing my deposit because I abandoned my apartment…but for good reason, those little buggers are creepy) and decided to catch and release the little guy back into his natural habitat.  It was only later that I discovered he is referred to as a “house gecko” and by removing him and placing him back outside, I inadvertently destroyed an ecosystem.  Human destruction – 1, Nature – 0
  2. Storms in the distance always make the most beautiful pink sunsets.
  3. Crackers topped with apple, cheese and honey…all shared with a delightful group of friends and family!
  4. The last of the in-season peaches…mmmm.  I’m missing them already.
  5. The beacon of home.  This sign is like a big, cozy blanket welcoming me back to the city.
  6. “WE ARE OUT OF HAY!”  The problems of life, right?
  7. The full moon peaking out between the clouds.
  8. As summer comes to an end, so too will the summer showers, and it will be a little while before I get to see these lovely rainbows that appear in the sky almost daily.
  9. A lovely evening with a dear friend at a local theater season-opening event.
  10. A reminder of family, as my passion flower bursts into bloom and reminds me of the man (my great-grandfather a.k.a. pop-pop) who first taught me about these wonderful plants.
  11. All season I’ve watched a little family of birds call this box their home.  It looks like they’ve moved on for now but I expect I’ll see them again next year.  ‘Till then, happy flying, dear ones!
  12. Another lovely storm-induced sunset.
  13. A fun evening exploring history and science with friends.
  14. Is there anything better than freshly popped popcorn served in a big ol’ tub?
  15. Salted, soft pretzel?  Yes, please!  These always remind me of New York City and walking to Central Park.
  16. The beet is cut into the shape of a heart, it’s a heartbeet…hehehe.
  17. Yet another lovely evening with another dear friend and a luxuriously soft chinchilla!  Fun animal fact: Humans have 1 hair per follicle, while the chinchilla has 60! That’s what makes them so soft.
  18. Browsing the stacks with a hot cup of cocoa.
  19. For those of you who haven’t lived somewhere flat before, you may not have seen this but that dark portion below the clouds is the edge of a rain storm as it moves across the landscape.  I remember my amazement the first time I realized that it wasn’t more clouds…it was rain.
  20. And finally, one of my favorite snacks, fresh purple grapes. I love it when they’re nice and fresh and pop in my mouth as I bite down on them.  I’ll keep a bowl full on my counter and munch on them all weekend.

I hope all of you had a wonderful September and are enjoying your October!
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