News

Hello & Happy New Year 2018! January 12 2018

What a year 2017 was. I must admit I’ve enjoyed the downtime SNOBX2018 forced upon the inhabitants of our little sandbar. I had to laugh though after readingan article a friend shared -- East Glacier Park received over 49 inches of snow during their last storm. Our 4 inches slowed down life and now it’s time to get back to planning for 2018. I found myself saying “We have the best customers” many times last year and want to thank a few “people” that helped make 2017 a sweet year for Sweater Box Confections. First, our wholesale accounts for helping spread Sweater Box Love and providing locations from Manteo to Duck and beyond for sweet treat pickupsNext, I would like to thank the other business owners I've interacted with -- from fellow vendors at the Market and special events to those we've collaborated with on special projects. It really DOES take a village to raise a small business! Anda big thanks to the local publications that gave us love on their pages.

But the Sweater Box “Cookie of the Year” award goes to YOU, the individual! Last year was one of transition for us. We moved from a shared commercial space back to a home kitchen. My worries were for naught. You continued to call, email, text, private message, order online, and come by the Market and Pop-Ups for your cookies, pies, and pennies! We shipped directly to you or a special someone, delivered to your home or office, even met you in parking lots and the occasional beach walkover...we even left your treats at other businesses to make it easier for you to get your goodies. Somehow we made it work -- and I am filled with gratitude for your support and the stories you have shared with us.

And because #wehavethebestcustomers we are adding a rewards program that we're calling “Sweet Rewards!” It’s our way to say THANK YOU in 2018 and beyond. Simply sign on so you can begin collecting rewards that will be redeemable on future purchases made online and in person (no matter where that might be!)

Now enjoying their winter hours, Waveriders in Nags Head is a great place to relax, chat, drink a beer or glass of wine, grab a hot drink or get a little light fare (and yes, that includes some Sweater Box treats!) If you've not ever been or it's been a little while...allow us to introduce you to one of the OBX's favorite haunts...

We look forward to hearing more cookie and baking stories from you in 2018 and creating our own to share with you.
Sweet regards,

Chris & the Sweater Box Team




Looking at the World with Lavender-Colored Glasses June 24 2017

Hello Cookie Fans!

I feel summer is here at last.  We’ve loved on our moms, dads, and grads and now on the Outer Banks it's all about summer vacation.  With this comes small adjustments to local living --- don’t go out to eat or shop on a rainy day without patience...and, if you must go to the grocery on Saturday or Sunday make it early!  Breath in, breath out...and relax.  I use driving as an exercise in mindfulness, following the car in front of me and concentrating on my breathing.  It doesn't always work, but I think one should have goals.  It's a little easier when the driver ahead of me has used the lever that makes the lights on the vehicle go “blink, blinkey, blink.”

The Color Purple

We have been looking at the world through lavender-colored glasses in the Sweater Box kitchens lately.

It started when a local editor informed me our Lavender Cookies were making the “OBX Love List” of the Outer Banks Magazine.  As I've admired this publication for its content and and beautiful photography, I felt honored! (I’d like to thank my mother for her continuous support, my grandmother for inspiration, my agent and you, our amazing cookie fans.)  And when I saw us in print...well, I felt bona fide!  Free copies of the magazine are located throughout the Outer Banks.I then had the great fortune to meet Jenni Koontz with Epic Shutter Photography.  She came by the kitchen for a few hours and while I talked and made lavender cookies, she took pictures which she went on to feature in her blog!  It was a fun afternoon getting to know her a little and learn about her love of the water and mermaids.  Check out her photography and blog -- she’s featured other local business we love or give her a call if you are looking for a photographer.

The last of the lavender love I’d like to share with you is about White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg, VA.  I recently made a trip to the farm to deliver cookies and pick up more lavender.  As you can see from these pictures, the Haushalter Family has created a beautiful space where one can ponder or wander, taking in the spectacular mountains surrounding its location in the Shenandoah Valley.  For me, it's a welcome escape from our summer pace -- an opportunity to talk to the animals (alpacas, sheep, and goats...oh my!) and relax at the Purple Wolf Vineyard tasting room offering lavender infused wines. After a stroll around the farm, stop by the store and take in the many products they make right on the farm including soaps, lotions, and aromatherapy products. Oh yeah...and our Lemon Lavender Cookies too! There's lots of information out there about the health effects of lavender.  Without conducting our own double-blind research test we can not state conclusive facts about the powers of our lavender cookies but this is what we know...

Life seems more special when we take the time to slow down, enjoy time with the people we care about or have a conversation with someone we've just met.  We think there's no sweeter way to do this than with our Lemon Lavender Cookies.

Order today so you have a few on hand in case all that mindful breathing while driving doesn’t work -- studies show lavender has calming effects!

Sweet regards,

Chris & the Sweater Box Team


The Birds & Well, You Know... April 21 2017

Hello Cookie Fans!

It’s always exciting to begin a new journey, I think.  You have an idea what to expect but don’t always know how the journey will unfold.  This is how I feel as we settle into our new space -- our new home is called -- home.  We are here learning the new flow and tweaking where needed.

This is what spring is all about, a new beginning, a different journey.  Our chickadees have returned to their house at the top of our stairs for the 7th year!  They will soon begin flying back and forth with small bugs to feed their new hatchlings.  I also see, and hear, robins, wrens, towhees, cardinals and a woodpecker on a daily basis to name only a few.
So that's the birds, now for the bees.  Or, more precisely, the birds and the bees of the plant world.  Yes, I'm going to talk to you about plant sex.  We are going to get down with the dirty--side of spring.

It starts with the courting, you know the dressing up, putting your best petal on, applying just the right fragrance.  It's like going to the bar on a Friday night, wanting to connect with that dandy daffodil in the next flower bed.  The flowers put on a beautiful show until the pollen lands on the stigma and the “birds and the bees” of plant life begins.  Before you know it you are committed to raising another seed. Lucky for us the plants are not shy and put their display on for all to see and smell and cough and sneeze and have headaches and COVER EVERYTHING IN YELLOW!

Dang, pine pollen is messy.  Around here it means everything turns a pale shade of yellow, I mean everything.  We get yellow footprints in the house!  It feels, a bit, like preparing for a hurricane.  Instead of securing things and bringing them up off the floor it means bringing things in that can’t be easily cleaned by spraying with a hose.  Or, keeping the house closed up on a beautiful day, not because you boarded the windows but just so the inside does not become yellow.  You look out the window and realized the “smoke” is only a cloud of pine pollen blowing from the trees.  I always enjoy the rains that come and wash away the yellow monochrome.​​​​​​​

Here in the Sweater Box kitchen I feel like the chickadee family, we are busy preparing our “nest” and getting ready for the busy feeding season of summer.  We are excited to announce a new wholesale family member, Island Perk [ https://www.facebook.com/IslandPerkCoffeeOBX/ ]!  They are a new coffee shop in downtown Manteo.  Our cookies, biscotti and muffins pair nicely with their coffee.  Stop in and say hello.

The Manteo Market will be back before you can say April showers bring May flowers.  Until then, stay tuned to this bat channel or Facebook or Instagram and we will let you know about special events.  If you will be on the Outer Banks for your spring break we are taking orders for Chocolate Chess or Key Lime pies; email us at chris@sweaterboxconfections.com

Where to find us…

April 15th we will be partnering up with The Tea & Spice Exchange [ http://www.spiceandtea.com/duck/ ] in Duck, 1:00 PM.  We will be pairing our cookies and their teas and discussing ways to use one cookie recipe many ways.

May 13th the Manteo Farm & Craft Market [ https://www.facebook.com/Manteo-Farmers-Market-354947188237/ ] begins.  Each Saturday, through September, you can find us at the George Washington Creef Park from 8-12.  It’s a beautiful venue and a great way to purchase locally made/grown products.  Plan on enjoying the other shops and attractions Manteo has to offer.


May 20th*, for our fifth year, we will be at the Dare County Master Gardeners [ https://www.facebook.com/DareCountyMasterGardeners/ ] festival.  It takes place at the Baum Center at 300 Mustain St. in Kill Devil Hills from 9:30-2:30.  This is a great opportunity to purchase plants and tour the arboretum the Master Gardeners keep so beautiful.

*Yes, we will also be at the Manteo Market.  Divide and conquer is our May motto!

Cookie Me! (or someone you love.) [http://sweaterboxconfections.com/collections/individual-products]

Daisy & Barbie - Women in History April 21 2017

March marked the beginning of Women’s History Month.  This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”  Hey, I’m a woman and I’m in business!  Since I’ve started this business thing I’ve met some amazing women that have taught me a lot about business and helped me learn a lot about myself.  And so I pivot to cookies -- but not MY cookies: Girl Scout Cookies!
Who does not love a Girl Scout Cookie?
I was a Brownie.  No, not like Franjean and Roll, Brownies from the 1988 movie “Willow.” The kind of Brownie that sold Girl Scout Cookies.  One year I must have sold a lot of cookies -- and selling cookies meant going door-to-door in my neighborhood to get orders. If the back seat of my grandfather’s car, stacked high with boxes of cookies, was any indication, I hit up lots of neighborhoods.  Yes, those were different times, when parents felt safe letting their children walk around knocking on strangers doors trying to sell whatever fundraising project was at hand.  What a supporter my grandfather was to help me deliver all those cookies. Little did I know, one day, I would be selling cookies once again!
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Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low is a perfect woman to recognize this month as the founder of Girls Scouts of the USA. Wikipedia reports that in 1911 she returned to Savannah, Georgia, after meeting Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, telephoned a distant cousin, saying, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!"  I have business friends that have had “ahas” like this...although I’m sure wine was involved.  Back to Ms. Low. She created an organization to empower girls and build courage, confidence, and character.  I’m sure more than one businesswoman started her entrepreneurship selling cookies.
I sold enough cookies that year as a Brownie to win one of the prizes our troop leaders had for the top sellers.  I don’t remember if I was 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, but I DO remember my prize was a Barbie that stood on an aqua platform with a microphone.  Her outfit was swirly browns and purples and I’m fairly sure there was some fringe in there somewhere.  Barbie...now there’s another “woman” in history.
Yes, I ordered cookies today from my friend’s daughter.  They stopped by to pick up a pie on their way to her Girl Scout meeting.  I did tell her the only way people would buy something was to ask them (I’m making my business coaches proud).  She asked and I ordered two Do-si-dos, one Tagalong, one Thin Mint and one Somoa.  Now I must wait for the annual cookie binge.
Those Girl Scout cookies are only going to last so long.  So, I'm knocking on your door (looking very adorable in my apron and headband, the Brownie uniform is long gone ) and asking, “would you like to buy some cookies?”
Sweet regards,
Chris

PS Remember Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and graduations will soon be upon us.  Let us help you celebrate with a gift made with love.

Avocado Or Harvest Gold? January 07 2017

Hello Cookie Fans!

I really enjoy reading cookbooks, more specifically, baking books.  Current books are prepared with amazing photography and stories often accompany most recipes or at least a short description about the inspiration.

But just like fashion and appliance colors, cookbooks change with the times.  This realization came Christmas morning as I sat down with a cup of coffee and toast and grabbed a nearby book to thumb through as I ate.  The book, Southern Living's "The Cookies and Candy Cookbook," circa 1972.  Some of you may remember cookbook series our mothers and grandmothers acquired, you know the cookbook version of the encyclopedias we used for book reports as kids.  The Casserole Cookbook edition was resting under the cookie one.

The photographs were definitely a sign of the times and the recipes were that and nothing more, a simple list of ingredients and mixing instructions.  Many were followed by the name and location of the contributor.  Mrs. George P. from Virginia Beach, Mrs. Andrew T. from Little Rock, Mrs. Patsy W. of Warner Robins, Georgia and Kathryn W. of Beckley, West Virginia.

As much as I love the stories and pictures of the newer cookbooks I was left wondering about the women who's names appeared after these recipes.  What is the story of these women?  My guess is they were women who loved to bake, entertain and make moments special for their families, friends or the new couple that moved in across the street.  They may have recently made holiday cookies with their kids, grand kids or even great grand kids.

The pictures reminded me of the cookies my Grandma Carroll made for us at Christmas or the pictures Facebook friends have been posting of their holiday baking creations.  As much as some things change, some things remain the same.

The same is true at Sweater Box Confections, some things may be changing but what will remain the same is our love of baking treats with quality ingredients so you can celebrate life.  Here's to a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

​​​​​​​Sweet regards, 

Chris

P.S. And of course there was a handwritten recipe tucked inside the back cover.

Mama's Macaroni
1 Box macaroni, cooked & drained
2 cans cheddar cheese soup
1 can whole milk
1 can stewed tomatoes
3 slices raw bacon cut in small pieces
Dash pepper and salt
Mix all together, pour in baking pan and sprinkle with crumbled potato chips.  
Bake in oven 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Mary M. Harris

Disease Tour, Bears and Baking June 16 2016

Living and running a business on a sandbar has its own quirks and challenges.  A big one is sourcing my ingredients.  Some things are ordered and delivered to the kitchen, but my staples of butter, sugar, eggs and flour require a trip to Virginia every 2-4 weeks.

I don’t dread this trip since it gives me a chance to sing or listen to business podcasts.  I also notice the passing of the seasons as I drive past the crops in the fields.  On my last trip I noticed it was almost time to harvest the wheat. I found it a little ironic that I was on my way to purchase 200 pounds of flour which recalled my days harvesting wheat from research plots during my gradual school days.  This is how I fondly refer to my MS degree in Plant Pathology (the study of plant diseases)  from the University of Georgia. My thesis was titled “The Effects of Pythium irregulare and Soil Physical Factors on Wheat Growth.”  Don’t worry, I will not get into specifics. Just know that harvesting research plots of wheat, in Georgia, is hot and scratchy and requires long pants and sleeves.

Continuing with grad school memories I also remember our Disease Tour.  No, I was not in a band.  Over spring break my fellow grad students and a willing professor got our geek on, piled into a van and traveled throughout Georgia looking at plant diseases on different crops.  We did this willingly.  I’m sure it was interesting seeing the diseases I had been learning about in the classroom, but that’s not what I remember.  What I remember is a van stuffed with students, a professor and LOTS of watermelons and peaches.  Our tour stops were at other research stations and they had a bounty of fruit. They had harvested what they needed for their research and we were allowed to pick what we wanted for ourselves.  Remember, we were grad students, not making a lot of money, and this was free food we were being offered! It was awesome.

Over the past weekend I visited the White Oak Lavender Farm again to pick up more lavender we use in our Lavender Cookies and enjoyed camping in the Shenandoah National Park.  I did not look for any diseases on their plants.  We enjoyed a hike on National Trails Day.  I did look for fungus of the edible type, with no luck, but enjoyed seeing black bears with cubs, does with fawns, a turkey, an orange salamander and a red breasted grosbeak.

From wheat and fungus to flour and baking seems like a logical transition to me. Time to open up another 50 pound bag of flour.

Happy trails and sweet regards,

Chris

hiking in Virginia


Turkey & Swiss on a Baguette March 04 2016

Before I started Sweater Box Confections, I had the honor of working two winters in Atlanta for the Reeb family in their fourth generation chocolate and pastry shop, Maison Robert. 

I met Robert as a student at John C. Campbell Folk School, a magical place in western NC.  I took his class twice and got to be his assistant for a couple years until his daughter, Katia, played the daughter card and I got booted. Oh well, she hired me for the Atlanta gig so I forgave her.

It was a great experience.  Not only did I get to work around chocolate and pastry each day they also paid me! That was sweet.  I learned A LOT.  It's amazing what one can learn by watching.  My favorite watching place was while eating lunch on the kitchen bench in the back.  They provided lunch each day from the shop.  A simple salad, a decadent slice of quiche or a sandwich, usually eaten from an aluminum pie tin. My favorite (depending on the day of the week and phase of the moon) was a turkey and Swiss on a baguette; a little lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes and spread with dijonaise.  Lunch heaven.  Oh back to the watching thing, when I was not moaning with sandwich  satisfaction I watched, watched and learned.

I worked the front on the house.  I learned about customer service, systems, packaging, merchandising and so much more.  I also watched and learned from a business owner perspective, before I really thought of myself as a business owner.  

I realized I liked working there and I liked being an employee there and watched for ways I could emulate them as a boss if I ever became one.  I liked the way I was treated, so much so that early on, regardless of who was around, near the end of the day, EVERY day, I would state in a loud voice, “Thanks for another fun day at Maison Robert,” and I meant it.  Don't get me wrong, it was not always fun and games, it was BUSY.  Everything was made and packaged in house and held to high standards. It was a lot to learn and it astounded me how much chocolate was made, packaged and sold on a daily basis.  Have I mentioned how much I learned?

What's the moral of the story?  I felt appreciated and valued.  It was more than a turkey and Swiss on a baguette, it was a lot of little things.  Those little things made me want to be a better employee, try harder.  I was not the perfect employee, I'm not sure they exist.  I do believe with proper training, systems and a good attitude you can get pretty darn close.  I still have a lot to learn as a boss but I will be showing my employees a little extra love on March 4th, because it's Employee Appreciation Day.  How will you appreciate your employees?

At Sweater Box Confections, we want to help you appreciate your peeps.
Our March, under $10 special, is four chocolate chip cookies, packaged and shipped for only $9.95.  Who will not feel appreciated receiving a cookie?  Share this with your boss (don't be shy, you're just helping them look good) or assistant.  
Remember it's little things that make your peeps get on board with your vision.  
Give a little sweet something to say thanks for being a part of my team.
Sweet regards,
Chris
P.S. “Thanks for another fun day at Maison Robert!”

The Great Bike Ride November 06 2015

A local business owner and friend recently asked me about sponsoring an upcoming event, Ride for Life. It's a charity bike ride with part of the proceeds supporting autism and part supporting her club’s Christmas project to provide bikes for local kids. Growing up I spent a lot of time with bikes. There was my green Schwinn, with the pink flowered banana seat. Next, came the light blue 5-speed from Sears. Then when the cycling bug bit, I went on organized rides with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Bud, rode the countryside of southern Michigan and northern Indiana after dinner, called Greg LeMond one of my heroes (I have now dated myself) and did a lot of riding with the local cycling club in my hometown.

Image​Most of that cycling happened on my dark blue Nishiki, I spent a lot of money on that bike and had many miles of freedom on it. How could I say no to kids getting bikes for Christmas? I said yes and made a lot of cookies for the rest stations. With my sponsorship came a free entry and I thought it might be time to dust off the now Cannondale hybrid. My biggest worry was getting my hiney used to the saddle again. Guess what? Life happened and I didn't spend the time in the saddle preparing for the ride. I considered not doing it, I was able to come up with a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t participate. I'm not in shape, I don't have the right bike (my bike has fat tires and a kickstand), I need to shave my legs, I have to work in the kitchen, I need to clean my house. Ok, I'll stop with the list, I could go on.


How many times has this happened to you? The voices in our heads try to keep us from doing the things we want? We give up before we even start? I told those voices to go eat a grocery store cookie and decided I at least needed to show up! I was a sponsor! I would meet some new people, I might even have fun.

The morning of the ride arrived cool and sunny. My only goal was to show up for the pre-ride meeting and ride as long (or short) as I felt like. I was giving myself permission to only ride a few blocks, ok, I really wanted to finish the 25 mile ride, but as long as I showed up the rest was considered buttercream on the cake.

What happened? I showed up at 7:15, wearing my padded bike shorts and a bottle of water, I rode to the turn-around point and kept riding. I was feeling good, I was in no hurry, I chose easy gears to keep my cadence up, a girl has knees to protect after all. I rode all by myself, on my terms. I made it to the second rest station and realized there were only a few miles left. Of course they were into a slight head wind but it was flat and the most beautiful fall day at the beach. I kept going. I made it! I met new people, I had fun and I didn’t shave my legs.

Sometimes the most difficult part is showing up and ignoring the voices in our heads. If the voices get too loud shove a grocery store cookie in their mouth, take a deep breath and just show up. You might even have fun!

I don’t remember getting any of my bicycles for Christmas but my friend told me the Outer Banks Womens Club will be buying some for local kids this year. I hope they enjoy the wind in their hair and the freedom I enjoyed. I could not find any pictures of my old bicycles, I always took one when they were shiny and new, but I did come across a clipping of a race for charity I was in with fellow club members. Yep, that’s a perm.


Chris vs. Bear August 11 2015

In early June my boyfriend Scott and I had the opportunity to escape the beach for the weekend before settling into the summer schedule. I picked the Shenandoah National Park. Just the basics were tossed into the car -- tent, pads, sleeping bags and personal items -- and off we went early on a Friday morning!

We arrived at Skyline Drive mid-afternoon, stopped to pick up an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, China Rock, looking for a ride up the road to meet friends, chose a campsite at Big Meadows campground (while Scott and I put up the tent, China Rock polished off the bag of Peanut Butter Cookies I gave her) and continued up the road to drop China Rock at her meeting place.

Back at camp we looked over the map to make a plan for the next day. We chose a nearby trail that would take us to two waterfalls. The next morning we were up early, enjoyed a big breakfast, donned hiking boots and loaded up a daypack with water and snacks (yes, including cookies from Sweater Box Confections).

Scott and I have different hiking paces so he is often a few minutes ahead of me and out of sight, and I enjoy the solitude of the the woods. We are in the habit of each carrying a whistle in case of trouble. Have I mentioned that we were in bear country and Scott LOVES bears? If fact, he wants a pet bear.

Surely, you sense what’s coming.

It was such a beautiful day! We crossed a horse trail and stopped to drink in the scenery, taking pictures along the way. There was a lot of cool fungi due to recent rains. I’m telling you, it was a truly beautiful day! And then...I see him. No, not Scott. I see HIM...the bear! He’s coming downhill toward us! Well, actually, I don’t know if it’s a male bear but I have a 50/50 chance of being right.

"Ptssss, ptsSSS, PTSSSS!" Scott turns around and looks at me and I start pointing dramatically and mouth the word bear. We both stand still and the bear continues toward us.

Did I mention I have Snickerdoodles in the day pack? Bears love Snickerdoodles (actually, they love food, but I’m sure what’s in my backpack is this particular bear’s favorite).

Oh crap, I need to take a picture or better yet get this on video! I’m not sharing the Snickerdoodles with a bear, nothing to worry about here. I know Scott has spotted the bear, and we’re both standing quietly on the trail. I’m wondering at what point do I blow the whistle to scare him away? I whip my phone out of my pocket and hit record….

Did you see the bear? No? What? You only saw my bare hand? I’m happy to report that I prevailed, without a scratch, and we enjoyed Snickerdoodles during our lunch break!

My story is that I was in total control and scared the bear away with my fierceness. It had absolutely nothing to do with the hiker approaching from the other direction...absolutely nothing, I say. 

The moral of the story: We all have different talents that we are good at and enjoy doing. Share your talents and look to others for help with things that are not in your wheelhouse. That's what I did for the above video. By using a professional my 2.5 second clip was transformed into something that was real and silly that anyone could watch!

The other moral of the story: Remember to make time to do the things that feed your soul. It helps to keep you healthy and happy. As a business owner I really struggle with this and am working on being better about making ME a priority.

Kayaks killed the pumpkin pie November 15 2014

This is my answer to why I’m making sweet potato pies for Thanksgiving rather than pumpkin pies. I know you are asking how these two things are remotely related? A few weeks ago I told some of you that I was headed off to the North Pole to have my final strategy meeting with Santa and the Elves concerning Christmas cookies and chocolates. I lied. That meeting was in early October; a few weeks ago I went on vacation.

We enjoy going to Western North Carolina and up into the Smokies for vacation. We tent camp, hike and kayak and/or raft. Here’s a picture of me (in front) and the other half in a double duckie. We are looking pretty good, I think. Anyway, back to the pumpkins. Along the Nantahala River (this is a Cherokee word meaning “land of the noon day sun”) is the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). They host the Great Pumpkin Pursuit. The concept is the NOC numbers a BUNCH of small pumpkins then pitches them into the river above the Class III, Nantahala Falls. Image

Once the pitching begins, by costumed folks by the way, the collection begins by those in kayaks, rafts or those along the shore. Afterward, when all the chaos and dry clothes are found, numbers are drawn, and if you have the corresponding pumpkin you win a prize! Oh, wait -- did I tell you that these are PIE pumpkins?! Hmmmm, what a great way to get pumpkins for pumpkin pies, I’m thinking.

Are you guessing what happens? Pumpkins are pitched, we start paddling. I’m plucking pumpkins from the river, then, damn, we get hung up on a rock. It seems all the other boaters and pumpkins are passing us by. I need to make pies, I need pumpkins! At last we are free and approaching the falls. We forget the pumpkins for a few seconds...uh oh, I don’t think we picked the right line...the duckie noses into the bottom of the falls…. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Scott manages to keep the ducky and his paddle, I assume river rescue position and start floating down river, on my back, feet first, clutching my paddle. I indicate to those around me I’m ok. Then, wait, there’s a pumpkin! I reach out--SCORE! I make it to shore with my paddle and two pumpkins, Scott swings by to pick me up and we continue down river to the take out. We nab six pumpkins total but sadly not enough for all my pie orders.

We haul them back to the beach from the mountains and I bake them. I will have a few Nantahala River Pumpkin Pies available, and I won’t even charge extra. I can’t let that pumpkin go to waste.

But, what’s the real reason I’m making sweet potato pies? North Carolina is the top producing state for sweet potatoes, it’s our state vegetable and they are yummy. I roast them and puree them until smooth. I follow my pumpkin pie recipe but cut back on the sugar to balance with the sweet potatoe’s natural sweetness. The custard goes into a handmade, spice crust. Serve them with a little whipped cream and your picky eaters probably will not even know it’s not pumpkin. But you can still tell the story like it is.  

Donkeys, Dirty Socks and Change June 04 2014

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Hello, 

That's me on the donkey. Behind me are Grandma Carroll and my mom, pregnant with my little brother. Looks like a pretty idyllic family photo, right?

If you said, "Yes," you'd be correct. But you'd never guess that my wonderful father had just recently been killed  in a car accident at the ripe old age of 26.

That's right, in spite of losing a father, husband, and a son, here we Carroll women are dealing with the radical change we've just had thrust into our lives, TOGETHER.

That's my dad in high school kicking back with the dirtiest socks Grandma had ever seen. She was mortified that he would wear such filthy things, but you can tell he couldn't care less. It's a shame he was taken from us so early, but we grew together and supported each other through the transition, like we always have when faced with big life changes. That's how my family is, and it's helped me tremendously in growing my business.

  In order to grow, you have to experience change. In can be intentional, or it can be accidental, but change will always happen. I've found the best way to deal with change positively is having family, friends, or a team around you to support you.

  They are people who love you and believe in you. They are the ones who lend a hand when they see you stumble. They pick you up and remind you of the greatness that lies ahead if you can muster the strength to keep moving forward and don't quit. They are the ones who make change bearable, and even welcome, because it means you're becoming a better, stronger, kinder person.

  So rather than fear change, gather a supportive group of people around you and invite change. It can be scary as hell, fun, challenging, rewarding, hard as shit, and scary as hell  (yes, I listed it twice because it can be THAT scary!). But ask any great person what made them that way, and they'll tell you of the big changes in their lives, not the times when everything was steady and safe.

  Now, I have a really big, scary (at least for me) announcement to make: my website is LIVE! I finally did it, with a lot of help from my team. It's www.SweaterBoxConfections.com, and you can now order your favorite treats online. Ain't technology great?! Go check it out, place an order, and get deliciousness in the mail.

  (Whew! Ok, that wasn't so bad. I think I'll live. Now, on to the next change...)

 

Enjoy (Ir)responsibly!

 Chris Carroll

  Father's Day Special!

 

 Hope you didn't forget Father's Day coming up soon! Even though my dad isn't with us anymore, I always remember him at this time of year. His birthday was June 17th, which will be two days after Father's Day.

  I talked earlier about change and having your team of supporters with you. Well, if your dad is one of your biggest supporters, then I encourage you to show him how much you appreciate him with an order of Sweater Box Confections! It might just be the best Father's Day gift he's ever received.

  If you go to www.SweaterBoxConfections.com and place an order of $30 or more (before shipping), I'll include two free coconut macaroons, one plain and one key lime with your order. Live locally? You can save on shipping by picking up your order at our Secret Kitchen Lair (not so secretly located with Zen Pops at MP 4.5 on the big road or as the post office would call it, 3712 N. Croatan Hwy., Kitty Hawk, NC)!

Because we should not limit celebrating our dads, moms, aunts, uncles, ourselves, grasshoppers, trees, you get the idea, to just one day I'm offering this special for all of June!

 

 (WARNING: Giving your dad Sweater Box Confections may cause you to be envied and called a brown-noser by siblings, smothered in love by your father, and scorned by your mom for not being as thoughtful in May. BEWARE!)