Earlier this week, I visited family, and we helped my sister get organized and begin preparations for a holiday open house. The event is planned for Dec. 2 at The Orange Blossom in Hampstead, NC, where she sells handmade crafts, painted furniture and a variety of soaps, candles, jewelry and other gift items.

ChatterboxBeach ornaments, paintings and greeting cards also are available at The Orange Blossom.

Browsing through her shop at 15201 U.S. Highway 17 N, I marveled at the workmanship of the various vendors. Among a variety of beach-themed and vintage décor, she sells handcrafted pens made with historic wood, delightful and festive ribbon wreaths, soy wax candles with fragrances including Frazier fir, hand-knit T-shirt rugs, decorative pumpkins made out of wine corks, original paintings, vintage cross stitch, artistic photos of the nearby beaches, and local honey.

Her shop makes me feel cozy and welcome. New items are added almost every day. Her Christmas tree is filled with burlap balls and soft velvet hearts. Her painted furniture is a must-see. She uses Country Chic paint, which also is available for purchase in the store, to transform functional tables, benches and bureaus into pleasing pieces for the home.

I left the shop with the purchase of a decorative metal basket painted in bright-yellow and shrimp-orange; three jars of Country Chic paint in the colors of Bee’s Knees, Full Bloom, and Cheesecake; and a good feeling about my purchases.

The open house on Dec. 2 is squarely marked on my calendar. Food and door prizes are planned. But shoppers don’t have to wait until the open house to visit the store. They can shop now.




My sister needed to clear her head last week. Unsure of where to go for peace and quiet, she ended up at the fabric store where she sat down and began browsing through pattern books.

She wasn’t alone. Another woman sat next to her turning page after page in search of a design similar to a picture of a dress she had ripped from a magazine. The woman’s head bobbed side to side comparing the photo in her hand to the different patterns in the books.

At about the same time, I was several states away surfing through bolts of fabric in a store lined floor to ceiling with rolls of discount decorator fabric and accessories. I was clearing my head, too.

Surfing through uncut fabric with all of its possibilities calmed me, like watching colorful fish swim in an aquarium or viewing the vivid colors of various petals in a garden.

The possibilities of making something beautiful or clever, functional or whimsical made me feel hopeful and happy. The feel of the fabric, the texture and weight ignited ideas through my fingertips.

After more than an hour of browsing, my sister came home with a pattern and fabric. I came home with fabric, too.

And we left our head clutter at the stores.




During February, my mom, sisters, and I decided we would all make blankets.

We like to get together and work side by side, but because of scheduling conflicts, each of us worked on our own separate projects alone. Someone started knitting a blanket. Another chose a baby quilt project. I wanted to finish a picnic blanket that was almost complete but got stalled without material for the backing. Foiled in the progress, I started cutting up T-shirts to make a quilt to give my son in celebration of a special achievement.

All I needed were the T-shirt fronts, which featured logos and artwork from memorable places he has attended over the past few years. Most of the T-shirts were in good condition, so as I cut the shirts apart with my rotary cutter, I started stacking the plain backs of the clothes in one pile and the 12 fronts that I needed for the blanket in another.

While working on the project, I realized that I also wanted to do something nice for the fellow moms who have helped my son reach his achievement. They have encouraged and supported him and me for many years.

After positioning the T-shirt fronts, I returned to the leftover material. Admiring how the orange, brown, green and gray fabrics complemented each other, the idea came to me. I could make rose pins out of the discarded fabric and give them to the moms as a show of appreciation.

My niece showed ChatterboxBeach how to make the flower pins several years ago. We sat in my mother’s den cutting fabric from outgrown T-shirts and chatted away. At the end of the day, my niece gave me an orange flower to keep. I pinned the flower on a thin, black jacket that I have worn on many dressy occasions.

The flowers have other uses, too. They can be pinned to a wine bottle cover, placed in front of a picture frame, or added for decoration to a table setting.

rose pin

I got excited about making the roses for the moms and put the quilt on hold. Soon I was tracing patterns, cutting curves, and bringing out the hot glue.

Later in the day, one of my sisters sent an email that she had temporarily abandoned her blanket project to spend her Saturday making T-shirt roses for a client. I was thrilled. Once again, we ended up crafting together on similar projects, even though this time it wasn’t planned. She offered to make a few roses for the moms on my gift list, too. I love having sisters!

March has arrived, and we at ChatterboxBeach continue to work on our blankets. Hopefully, we will all finish soon and have a lovely show-and-tell when we get together to begin a new craft project in March.

–Caroline at ChatterboxBeach



During the long holiday weekend, I was stuck at home while the rest of ChatterboxBeach met at the shore to make a collection of hearts together.

They sent me a picture of what they were making. For this project, they cut deep-red, velvet-like fabric into heart shapes, sewed the pieces together adding twine for hanging, and stuffed them plump. They made so many beautiful hearts.

Wanting to get involved, I dove into my home fabric stash and came up with a soft purple fabric and made my own his-and-her hearts in purple.


Hearts become popular just before Valentine’s Day, but they have a forever message of love and friendship.

Here are some ideas ChatterboxBeach has for displaying hearts:

 Billie likes to string several hearts on a ribbon and display the garland at the Orange Blossom Shop in Hampstead, NC.
 Caroline suggests hanging hearts on cabinet knobs to add sparkle to the room.
 She also ties homemade hearts onto birthday, wedding, hostess and graduation gifts for added charm.
 Hearts left on a pillow make special valentines.
 Hearts in a bowl make a pleasing display.
 Mary suggests adding hearts to a wreath or vase.
 She also likes to strategically place them at table settings for added beauty.

No matter how you choose to display your hearts, ChatterboxBeach has enjoyed making them.

–Caroline at ChatterboxBeach



During a recent snowstorm, I called to check on my sister.

“What are you doing?” I asked after hearing her frazzled “Hello.”

“My electricity just went out,” she said. “I’m knitting in the dark.”

“How?” I asked.

She was pearling and knitting in the glow of a strong, heavy-duty flashlight. The utility company estimated that her electricity would return in about three more hours, but she didn’t want to wait.

ChatterboxBeach was in the middle of a fingerless glove frenzy.

In December, we decided that we didn’t do enough crafting as a group in 2016. Working on individual projects was OK, but we missed having a mutual focus where we could feed off each other’s creativity and energy.

Each of us pledged to make fingerless gloves in January. My sister was not about to disappoint.

We chose fingerless gloves because they are fun to make and provide great warmth in the coldest months of the year. Sometimes I wear mine in the house when I’m doing housework or typing on the computer because my hands get cold in the winter.

During holiday travels, we saw many people wearing fingerless gloves. One lady was wearing a beautiful pair cuffed with fur in the train station. Because her fingers were free, she could scroll and type on her cell phone without any trouble. We were delighted to see that our server at a fast food drive-thru wore a pair of purple fingerless gloves as she passed our order of country ham biscuits and sweet tea though the window. In addition, I gave a warm pair of hand-knit gloves away as a gift. Fingerless gloves are most appreciated when wind chill temperatures dip into the single digits.

Although my mom, sisters and I are knitting in separate towns, the knitting frenzy keeps us close. We delight each time one of us posts a pair online. Each set evokes an emotion. My sister and I ironically purchased the same color yarn and are using similar simple patterns to make our gloves. Mom’s pattern features a more intricate cable design. She went rogue and knitted adorable hats embellished with flowers, too.

My house is drafty, but I’m staying warm this January. I’ve got my yarn and needles in hand for the family knitting frenzy – and I’m wearing my own pair of fingerless gloves as I work.

–Caroline at ChatterboxBeach



Writing and crafting play tug of war with my time.

When I sit down to write, my sewing projects shift to the short end of the rope. But when my attention pulls in the crafting direction, blank pages go unwritten.

Balancing the push and pull between fabric and paper is a constant challenge.

After many months of concentrating on creative writing, I am renewing my commitment to crafting just in time for spring. My mom and sisters, too, are getting out their paints and fabrics. Maybe as the days get longer, I’ll have more time to write about what we’re crafting.

So stay tuned to the ChatterboxBeach website. The craft side is starting pull ahead once again.




ChatterboxBeach has found a home not only on Etsy, but also in an adorable shop called The Orange Blossom Resale in Hampstead, NC. Our handmade crafts fit right at home among the many vendor booths that feature an eclectic array of home décor, jewelry and fashion items. Located in a strip mall on Highway 17, the store is a convenient drive from Jacksonville, Wilmington and the Crystal Coast and Southern beaches. We love to browse each time we add more items to our booth.
The chef hats, scarves, pillows and dishcloths that we sell on Etsy also are featured in the store. Additional items are also available at The Orange Blossom, include paintings, aprons, pocket books, cup cozies, knitted necklaces, wine bags and mini quilts. ChatterboxBeach hopes to add new products each week.
Let the store owner know your favorite ChatterboxBeach items so we can keep them in stock. Let us know what you are looking for, too. We enjoy tackling new projects together.
Contact us anytime at and stop by The Orange Blossom Resale at 14884 Highway 17, Hampstead NC 28443, (910) 821-1544.
Store hours are:
Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 4 p.m.
Monday: Closed


garden and weddings 012

In the heart of summer, and under the forecast of a heat advisory, I attended an outdoor wedding right out of a picture book. The ceremony took place at a shady spot underneath an evening sky with a backdrop of picturesque trees and a blooming flower garden. The setting highlighted the young bride, lovely and graceful, and the handsome bridegroom, tall and witty, as they exchanged vows of love and fidelity.

Seated in a row of white folding chairs near the string quartet, I admired the chic bows tied onto the chairs along the center aisle. Dangling from each was a wooden heart about the size of a Christmas ornament. And painted on each heart were the couple’s initials, K+N, as if they were carved on a tree.

I mentioned the clever and special detail to the mother of the bride at the reception.

The bride made those, she said, explaining that after the venue for the ceremony became official, the bride wanted to go to the local craft store. There, she bought plenty of wooden hearts, spools of decorative burlap ribbon, 150 various jars, and an assortment of electric votive and tea-light candles that would fit inside the glass.

In addition to lighting up the wedding reception area with candles, the bride also made her own place cards from lace-like paper adorned with miniature burlap flowers. She slipped bouquets of purple and pink flowers into mason jars to create her dinner table centerpieces. And with her father’s help, she orchestrated a star-like night sky in the overhead beams of the dining room using strands of white Christmas lights.

The guests enjoyed music, food, dancing and toasts. They browsed wedding portraits of the couple’s relatives that were placed along the dining room windowsills. Family and friends also wrote memories, well-wishes, advice and prayers upon postcards provided at each table for the newly married couple to read on their honeymoon and beyond.

What I will remember most about this wedding was the love the couple had for one another and how welcome they made their guests feel. The personal touches that the bride made with her crafts added an elegant and celebratory ambiance to the entire event.

More importantly, the warmth and love that the bride shared through her handiwork will no doubt be the same care and attention that she gives to her marriage.


Eggplanet art 001

Throwing away scraps of fabric hurts the crafter in me.

Every small square of material can lead to an amazing project, and the challenge of making it happen peaks my interest. I’m constantly looking for ways to use my fabric stash wisely to prevent waste and create art.

Recently, leftover scraps from a snack quilt became part of an art piece entitled “Eggplanet.” My imagination transformed images of tomatoes, onions, peppers and pickles into appliqued planets in outer space. Paired with an alien from another scrap and an upside down coffee cup as a flying saucer, a silly universe was born. Leftover tulle and ribbon made a fine comet, and soda can tabs and a bead added a 3-dimensional satellite to the cosmos. I entered the wall-hanging into an art show called “Beauty in the Dark.” The piece was rejected, so I hung it on a wall in my home. Friends see something new in the quilt each time they visit. I like to see their reactions.

Leftover material also can create more than art.

As a novice, I learned how to tie quilts by making blankets for charity from discarded Laura Ashley fabric. My quilters’ group spent many evenings together rotary cutting squares from the donated material. Then we formed an assembly line to sew the squares into strips and blankets. We stretched out on a parish hall floor to tie the quilt layers. The project was win-win. We kept material out of the landfill and provided warmth and comfort to those in need.

Rescuing fabric runs in the family. My sister is especially creative with local finds.

doll dress

A great fan of Lilly Pulitzer fashions, she up-cycles materials from skirts and dresses to make doll clothes with matching headbands. In addition, she recently repurposed pink and green Lilly Pulitzer fabric by covering a bowling pin. The result was a cute décor item great for a bedroom, porch or any special spot.

rose pin

She and our mother also have found uses for rarely-worn T-shirts. My sister turns strips from the castaways into colorful knitted rugs and bathmats. Our mom uses T-shirt scraps to make rose flower pins.

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, we celebrate finding new ways to generate art and crafts from everyday items. A little imagination helps turn useless scraps into useful products.


kite brush

No robin has dared to step on my snow-covered lawn to announce spring’s arrival yet, but someone else has had the courage.

ChatterboxBeach sold its first hand-painted beach brush of the season this week, which I’m taking as a sign that people’s thoughts are moving past the bitter chills of winter and into the warm air of springtime.

I see it in my own work. Recently, I completed a quilted art piece called “Eggplanet,” which explores a whimsical view of the beauty and darkness of outer space. But my new project addresses a “Garden Cottage” theme that includes watering cans and flowers.

Soon we will all be brushing the sand off our shoes and outdoor lawn and pool

chairs. We’ll be wearing short sleeves beach umbrella brush
again, grilling outdoors and taking evening walks in the expanded daylight. And as depicted on the sand brushes, we’ll be flying kites, wearing flip flops, bouncing beach balls and relaxing underneath umbrellas.

Most importantly by the end of March, we’ll finally be able to brush off winter and experience spring for a while.

I’m confident that the seasons are about to change, but it would be nice to see a robin to confirm.