Category Archives: Gift


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.





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



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


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.


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My son turned 13 years old yesterday, and I thought he would like my present best.

The gift was a snack quilt that I had been working on for about six months. I sewed for hours while he was in school or late at night after he had gone to bed so he wouldn’t see the fabric, which featured gum drops, cheese crackers, pretzels, fruit and other snacks.

“I see hamburgers,” he said slyly as he ripped away the silver wrapping paper to reveal the quilt, which was bordered in hamburger fabric. He draped the blanket around himself, said “Thanks Mom,” and then set the cover aside to open more gifts.

I felt slightly disappointed by his reaction. No jumping up and down with joy? No declarations of the blanket being the best present ever? It was like he had opened a pair of socks.

Other gifts got more of a reaction.

He sang with excitement when he opened a drink cup, hot chocolate and handmade hand-warmers from his friend; his friend’s little sister colored him a picture, which he posted on the refrigerator; he played for hours with a remote-controlled helicopter from my mother.

“This is just so cool,” he kept saying.

Close to bedtime, we talked about his birthday and how much fun he had getting phone calls, how much he liked his cake and how thoughtful people were to send presents and gift cards. He was still playing with his helicopter when I headed toward the stairs. I mentioned that the house was cold, and it was getting late.

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a warm quilt to sleep under tonight,” he said.

I stopped and smiled.

“Yes, you do,” I said, watching his flying toy whirl above the sofa. “But I have to tell you, I thought you’d be more excited when you opened the blanket.”

“Mom, I love the quilt,” he said and landed his toy helicopter. “Besides, I’m sure it’s going to be here a lot longer than any of the other presents.”

Touched by his insight, I gave him a big hug.

I like the way this hamburger-and-snack-eating teen-ager thinks. And I’m especially happy that he liked his quilt.


This necklace would make a great gift for someone special, or a treat for yourself!

This necklace would make a great gift for someone special, or a treat for yourself!

I like to get all of my holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving.

It’s a tall order. But I’m a much more relaxed person when I succeed with the challenge and can sit back in December with all of my presents wrapped and placed beautifully underneath the tree. I also wrap extra gifts in case someone unexpected surprises us with a present, and I buy something for myself to put among the packages just for fun.

Most of my gifts have a homemade component, whether it’s an ornament attached to the bow or a set of dishcloths stuffed in a stocking.

Some years, I come up short on time and fail to make something for everyone on my list.

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That’s when I turn to Etsy and the local craft shows.

This year I found a hand-crafted letter opener for my son who collects stamps, a ceramic dish made in a high school art class for myself and a collection of soap cozies that will make great stocking stuffers.

ChatterboxBeach has a great selection of doll clothes, seashell wreaths, genealogy tools, note cards and necklaces. A vintage dollhouse also could make someone happy.

We’ll continue to add to our inventory throughout November and December, so check back often. With most of our shopping accomplished, we have more time for crafting.


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I can’t resist eating cookies, and now I can’t stop making them.

But forget flour, sugar and chocolate chips. These cookies are made of fabric.

Fabric fortune cookies are lots of fun. They can be used as place card holders, a home decoration or a special gift. Just slip a note inside the fabric cookie for party favors, valentines or invitations.

The first time I made them was for my book club. We were meeting for an end-of-the-year party, and I slipped quotes from the different books we had read during the year inside a batch of my homemade fabric cookies. Because we all have different tastes, I made the cookies out of a variety of colors so the club members could select the ones they liked.

Then we each took turns reading the quotes and guessing which book they came from and which character said the words. I mixed the batch with serious and funny lines. We laughed so hard, we were the loudest table in the restaurant. But it was great revisiting our favorite characters and moments from the novels.

I made fortune cookies again for two friends who enjoy needlework. We get together about once a month for coffee or to visit quilt shows. I slipped quotes about friendship and sewing inside the cookies and shared them. My friends were delighted by the experience.

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It’s truly what’s inside the cookie that counts. Messages can be simple such as “Get Well Soon” or “Happy Birthday.” They also can be more heart-felt. I’ve thought of slipping one in my son’s lunch box with a “good luck on your test” message or putting one on his pillow to say “thanks for making your bed this morning.”

I’m planning to make several sets for stocking stuffers this year. I’m hoping the personalized messages will be a hit, especially for two difficult names on my list. A similar gift should work for my neighbors, a favorite aunt, my teen-aged nephews and teachers, too.

I also plan to pair my fabric cookies with a restaurant gift card delivered in a to-go box to celebrate my good friend’s birthday.

Fabric cookies don’t add calories, but they can be served for almost all occasions.


GIFT RETURN My son was invited to his fifth-grade friend’s birthday party, and we needed to buy a gift. “What does your friend like?” I asked my son before we went shopping. “He said he wants money,” my son answered. … Continue reading