Joyous Exhausting Island Life

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My husband and I had the pleasure of staying on Kiawah this past week.  I work out here everyday, but we live in downtown Charleston.  This week I had no commute.  You would think that would give me extra time in the morning and the afternoon, perhaps even granting the ability to sleep in.  On an island?  Are you kidding?  Matthew and I started laughing out loud yesterday as we spoke of how exhausted we were; fondly I may add.  There is just so much to do, especially with the tide perfectly falling on non working hours all week.  We woke up to watch the sunrise, fished at low tide, shelled when we weren't fishing, and rode bikes when we could fit it in.  I even stumbled upon loggerheads hatching.  Are you kidding me?  And, we weren't on vacation.  We both worked full days fitting in the adventures.  I have captured some of the surprises and gifts Kiawah Island bestowed on us this week.

The two videos of the Loggerheads I will post last, because I know what will happen.  You will become mesmerized and would never view the other pictures if I put them first :). 

Kiener Whelk

One of the many found this week.  Each one feeling like the very first.

Spottail Bass.  In the slot.  (I am in SC now, so trying to call it the local name).

Sunrise - if you look closely you can see the Shrimp Boats on the horizon.

Fall sunset, and moments before I spot the Loggerheads.


Spottail Bass.  I love the purple and blue tints these have in South Carolina.  Gorgeous and incredible fun to catch.

Sunrise above, sunset below, same day and perfect island life.

Lovely gift.

Perfect light timing.

Not only are we joyously exhausted, but we have loads of laundry and de-sanding to do.
Shrimp Boats - hardest working dudes on the coast.

I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful fall.  And, even if you can't get to the coast, I hope this helps you feel like you are visiting the coast, wherever you are.


What is your favorite thing to hunt and gather?

Monday, August 25, 2014

You would think that I would have a favorite gem as a goal in mind as I hit the beach.  And, many times I do.  But more often than not, the best thing about a hunt and gather is not knowing what you will find.  I haven't had a lot of time to hunt and gather this summer, but at least I work on Kiawah Island, and when there is a second to spare I find myself combing it's incredible ten mile beach, one sand dollar and/or critter at a time.  Here are some recent finds:

Sand Dollars remain one of my favorites.  They seem to be plentiful on Kiawah Island.

Each sand dollar I find feels like the first.

Loved finding this blue crab riding out the low tide.

You can almost see how the ocean moved around this gem.

Looks like it's taking a nap, under a blanket of sand.

A great sand dollar day.

Towards the end of my hunt and gather on this August afternoon, an old friend stopped by for a visit:

Happy hunting and gathering!

Mild Starfish Obsession

Monday, August 11, 2014

Have you ever noticed that Starfish are different in North Carolina and South Carolina?  And technically, I know that I am calling it the incorrect name.  Whomever is in charge of changing names of aquatic organisms, has changed the name of the Starfish to a Sea Star.  I am never going to call a Starfish a Sea Star.  I think it's special how people grow up calling certain shells names that have been passed down by family members.  For example, the Lettered Olive is not a Lettered Olive in my family.  It is a Key Shell.  And, the Keyhole Limpet is a Chinaman's Hat.  So go on with your bad self.  Call it what you want, and I will too.  No judgement here.  (Yes, and I now realize that I am talking about a Starfish, and that this has become dramatic.  Sorry for the tangent.) 

I am excited to show footage of two Starfish I found on Kiawah Island on two different occasions. I had never seen a live Starfish move like these two do.  In North Carolina, Starfish are more orange and textured.  I have even seen a purple one in North Carolina after storms.  For some reason, South Carolina Starfish have a smoother texture, and a lovely sand color.  And, they like to perform.  Since I can't pick a favorite, I thought I would include all 8 videos of the starfish footage.  Enjoy!

Which one is your favorite?


Kiawah Island Love

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I have to say that I don't love July 4th crowds or islands.  The crowds and hoop-la of a holiday weekend on an island, make it an island that I don't recognize.  My love of being on an island is mostly a result of feeling like the only person there.  The coveted isolation and personal relationship with that island is something I crave and need.

The great thing about Kiawah Island, SC is that it is 10 miles long.  And, on the east end of the island is a creek you must cross to get to a great shelling sand bar.  So, not everyone is willing to take the plunge to go over.  So, this July 4th I found my island love, and 28 sand dollars.

Here is a sample of my independent and American finds:

Matthew also did some fishing, and brought home some free flounder who were uncomfortable with their new confinements.  (Bit of a grainy picture, but he was far away from me).

I hope you all enjoyed celebrating our nations birthday!


I am the worst blogger ever...Kiawah Island is a dream!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Do you sometimes realize you are something, but you actually never embraced that something?  Maybe it's because you don't like the "marketing term" it gives you, or in my case, you are slightly insecure or scared what that term may mean to the public.  And, when I say insecure, it's completely out of respect for people who are really what they are.  I'm talking about being a blogger.  I'm terrible.  I don't do what you are supposed to do, and although I am okay most of the time with how badly I am at being a blogger, I do think about it. With that said, I continue to keep the blog doesn't just go away.  It's in cyberspace.  By the way, I am dying laughing right now because I actually just used the word cyberspace.  And, now I just realized that I am copying my cousin who does this italicized visual option when she is talking as her real self.  Sorry Anna!  (But, for those of you who don't know her blog, it is a REAL blog -, and it's really badass).  I'll stop now, Anna, forever - no more copying. BUT, I think I just got away with using the word cyberspace with that strange tangent..

That entire paragraph is just a small window into my completely complex (not trying to give myself a compliment), somewhat smart and very distracted brain.

I was trying to say that I don't think of myself as a blogger.   I'm trying to build a brand.  I used to hate to write until I went to business school and I had to write.  Compared to my "colleagues" (nice work trying to get us to use that word), I was the worst in my class.  I learned how to do it though, and actually started to enjoy it.  But, it doesn't come easy to me.  It takes A LOT of time for me to write something I am not embarrassed by - and many times, it's just easier not to write it.   And, I don't even know if I'm doing it correctly. Seriously though - time wise -  now that I am working full time and trying to keep my business alive, how can I even have the time to be a blogger.  And, I don't even have children.  How do you working Momma's do it? 


Regardless, I am going to try harder.  Because it's a passion.  Not just shelling, but the coastal outdoors - the fact that many children don't go explore these outdoors - the primitive joys of catching your own food, cooking it, and eating it - exploring not only barrier islands but new cities - taking a chance on something new even if it makes you uncomfortable - looking someone in the eye and discovering a new and different character that brings your personality out more - being real - waking up and instead of rolling over, jumping out of bed to see what this day can bring!  It's really about being more positive, but even more so, it's about experiencing what is really out there to live.

My husband, Matthew and I, moved to Charleston a month ago.  I work on Kiawah Island.  Matthew found the job posting online.  My negative outlook on that posting said, "I have never gotten a job from an online posting, but why not."  I got a call 20 minutes after posting my resume, and a job a week later.  Matthew laughs that of course I got a job on a barrier island.  And, WHAT a barrier island.  10 miles long, pristine beach - the sand sticks to the bottom of your feet as you walk.  I'm from a beach - a lovely beach with tropical waters and different types of barrier islands - ones that require dredging often.  (I have to say, I was worried moving here to Charleston - I thought I might love it more than Wrightsville Beach.  I do love it, but Wrightsville is my home, and being on Kiawah makes me miss it more - but what a gift!  To work on an island, and to be reminded of the one I grew up on and learned from).

The second weekend we lived in Charleston, I was working on Kiawah that Saturday Morning.  After some showings, I met the husband at The Beach Club for lunch and a walk east to shell.  It was just what I needed.  It's not Wrightsville, but it is home.  Islands have a way of making me feel at home.

Look at the gunk (official term)...oh, and Kiawah Golf Resort's Ocean Course Clubhouse in the background.

My first sand dollar as a Charleston resident.  (My favorite shell to find)!
Kiener whelk I happened to find by stepping on tips of it, as it was buried in the sand from the tide.

My love, The Horseshoe Crab.  Kiawah is a Horseshoe Crab haven.  Live, and unfortunately dead.

The dollar.  My favorite dollar.  (I am rolling my eyes at myself).
Cheers from the coastal low country!


Tis the season: Protect your skin and your bounty

Friday, May 23, 2014

Favorite Sunscreen
Coopertone Sport - it isn't just the best smelling sunscreen.

Growing up on the beach, I was taught to always wear sunscreen.  No other sunscreen excites my anticipation for summer like Coopertone, and my favorite is Coopertone Sport.  And no, it's not because of the iconic logo below.
I love the smell of Coopertone, and it always worked..  I rarely was sunburn, and when I was it was I didn't reapply or wear it in the first place.  This Sport Coopertone is the spray kind, which is great for many reasons, the biggest for me, that I can put it on myself.  But, do not put this on when you are #hunting until after you have baited your crab lines, or make sure you have something to wash your hands with thoroughly if you are fishing.  The minute you touch your bait with sunscreen hands, is the minute you no longer catch anything.  The crabs and fish can tell the bait is tainted, and thus, your day ruined.
Sport Coopertone comes in almost every spf you'll need.  I start with 15 spf at the start of the season, and then graduate to 30 spf the tanner I get.  Depending on your skin type, you may need a higher spf.  If in question, choose the higher number.  No one needs to look like they are turning into leather.  
This sunscreen has many other fantastic attributes:
  • Like I said before, you can put it on all by yourself, but be diligent.  You do need to rub the spray in.  Otherwise you will burn.
  • Since I am active in the sun, this also protects you even after you sweat.  Always remember to re-apply!  You should re-apply every 2-3 hours depending on your activity and the heat of the day.  The more you sweat, the more often you should re-apply.
  • It smells like summer.  Is there anything better?  
Stock up.  If you are like me, you tend to go overboard coating Coopertone.  It's better to be safe than sorry.
Happy Hunting and Gathering!

Hunting and Gathering Gear: The Summer Essentials

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's my favorite time of the year.  The anticipation of summer is upon us, and I am full of excitement as I dream of my favorite things to do in the salt outdoors.  Instinctively, I begin thinking about the gear I will need to be equipped for hunting and gathering.  Here are my essentials:

1. Korringal Bondi Fedora $23.99
2. Patagonia Women's Reversible Mamala Top $55 and Telu Bottom $45
3. Chaco ZX/2® Yampa Sandal
4. Cabela’s Women’s Guidewear® Long-Sleeve Shirt $49.99
5. Patagonia Women's Baggies™ Shorts - 5" $49.99
6. Margaret Turner Designs Sarong

Happy Hunting and Gathering!

And the Logo and Giveaway Winners are...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I must say that I was surprised by how many people voted for the Horseshoe Crab.  I thought it would have been a closer vote.  I also must admit that even though I love the Octopus, I feel very attached to the Horseshoe Crab.  So I am glad you all agreed, for the most part, that the Horseshoe Crab should be Margaret Turner Designs logo. 

Thank you all for taking the time to vote, as well as giving thoughtful comments.  It means so much to have friends and clients who care about my company.  Honestly, I feel like each of you are part of Margaret Turner Designs, and I hope you will continue to stay in touch and pass along your feedback.

And, the other winner, even if she chose the Octopus Logo, is Kelly Sloop!  Congratulations Kelly!  Email me at if you haven't heard from me already and we will coordinate your prize!

Lastly, here is a video of a Horseshoe Crab I stalked a couple days ago.  Ancient and gorgeous, I filmed her in awe.  

Happy Hunting and Gathering,

Which logo should I choose GIVE-A-WAY!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Okay fellow hunters and gatherers.  I have a real crisis on my hands.  And, I think it may be a permanent crisis:  choosing the business logo.  How many businesses actually love their logo, like dream about how awesome it is every night?  I am slightly exaggerating.  But, the logo is super important, and I want to make sure I am picking the best one for Margaret Turner Designs.  If you aren't familiar with my company, please check out Margaret Turner Designs Website and Margaret Turner Designs Facebook Page.

So, the dilemma:  I love the Horseshoe Crab as my logo, but Matthew thinks the Octopus would be a better choice.  I need your help in deciding.  Okay, here's the run down.  At least I have only 2 choices.

Think about the Horseshoe Crab.  This amazing prehistoric beauty has been around for 480 million years old.  It is resilient.  It knows how to survive in the crazy world that is the ocean.  And, it has been here forever.  So, I see my business personifying the Horseshoe Crab.

Matthew thinks that I should use the Octopus Logo, created from a watercolor I did of the incredible beauty Not that I did the octopus justice, I am sure if I meet an octopus later she will rail me for making her pink.  But, when you think about the Octopus personifying my business, it makes logical sense. With the many tentacles that the octopus has, she can obviously multi-task.  In addition, it can represent the different products and industries Margaret Turner Designs can go into.  

With that said, I would love input on the logo you like best.  Comment on this post telling me which logo you prefer, and you will be in the running for any Margaret Turner Designs product of your choice, in the design of your choice.  That could be a scarf in the Octopus Design, or one of our new tote bags in the Sea Urchin Design.  Whatever you want that I sell.

Here they are.  Comment with either the Octopus Logo or the Horseshoe Crab Logo.

Decisions are the worst.  So, I really appreciate your help.  The logo with the most votes will be Margaret Turner Designs new logo.  Voting will end tonight at midnight, so exercise your right to win, and help our logo team (which, is only me).

Cheers and thanks!

My 10, no 12, ummm 13 Favorite Shell Finds

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I have probably 2,000 shells in my house.  Seriously.  And, it's a clean house.  For the most part.  My shells are organized by shell type and placed in lovely glass containers in spots I have to see as I go about my day.  And, no I don't get sick of them.  Matthew, my husband (my somewhat new husband) asked me as I embarked on my most recent shelling trip, if I could try and be picky about what I brought home.  I think he may be worried about the shell accumulation. 

So, that got me thinking.  If I did get picky, or just specific about my favorite shell finds, which ones would I pick?  Because, let's be honest, there is no way I could pick just one.  I decided to make a Top Ten List of my favorite shell finds.  I'm not even sure I can do it, but I am going to try.  Here we go...(oops, okay, I had to change it to 12 already) we go again...

#13 Neon Cockle, Cherry Grove Beach, SC

Cockle's are common.  It doesn't mean that I don't like to find them, but when you see a lot of the same shell, they become a nice collection, not necessarily a great find.  Unless of course the cockle is neon red for some reason.  

Neon Red Cockle

#12 Wedge Piddocks, Bald Head Island, NC 

One of my favorite things to find is a shell or group of shells that I have never seen before.  When I stumbled upon these creepy, intriguing, and beautiful shells, I had no idea what they were.  Turns out they are Wedge Piddocks, a bi-valve that attaches to various things in the ocean, whether it be driftwood, or a glass bottle that looks a little like an old school liquor bottle.

Wedge Piddocks

#11 Horseshoe Crab, Banks Channel, Wrightsville Beach

You probably know this, but Horseshoe Crabs are over 480 million years old.  That makes them older than Dinosaurs.  And, they still live here.  My theory, along with that of the Tarpon, is that if something is inedible, then it is prehistoric.  Horseshoe Crabs are incredible, and are always one of my favorite things to find and one of my bests.  This one was floating in Banks Channel...wonder what happened to the gorgeous poor critter?  

#10 Kiener Whelk, Bird Island, NC

I love to find whelks, all whelks.  The Knobbed Whelk, the Channeled Whelk, the Pear Whelk...etc., but my favorite is the Kiener.  I love how the knobs are more dramatic, more defined, and more prominent.  The colors tend to be richer as a result.  This whelk had the animal still living inside, so I was only able to take the picture of this find home.  That may be why it is one of my favorites.

Kiener Whelk

#9 Sea Urchin, Cape Fear Point, Bald Head Island, NC

I love a sea urchin.  Each one I find brings me joy.  I love how this one got caught inside this bivalve because of the ocean.  It's a little bit of a peek-a-boo.  

Sea Urchin

#8 Rams Horn, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

Even if I wasn't a rabid Tarheel fan, the Rams Horn would be a favorite.  I just recently found out this shell existed.  I think he must be related to the very tropical Chambered Nautilus, or maybe I just want him to be.  This one is indigenous to the east coast, and such a treat! (GO HEELS!)

Rams Horn

#7 Ravenel Scallop, Longboat Key, FL

Scallops are so elegant, classic, and chic.  Perhaps I feel that way because they all wear bow ties.  The Ravenel Scallop, which is mostly flat with a minor curve, is probably a favorite because I didn't grow up finding them.  I have only found them on Florida's West Coast.  I can't quite place my adoration for this specific scallop, but I guess I really don't have to.  I just love it.

Ravenel Scallop

#6 Shark's Tooth, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

I am not good at finding Shark's Teeth.  And, it's a little upsetting if I start to think about it as I am now.  They are so flipping cool, and everyone agrees.  I did find this one in OD one day when there wasn't any other shell to be found.  I had decided that I would spend my shelling time trying to train my eyes to find shark's teeth.  See what happens when you put your mind to it.

Shark's Tooth

#5 Starfish, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

Starfish are shells I have a love hate relationship with.  Usually when you find them, they are alive, so you only enjoy them for a brief amount of time.  And, if you do find them when they are dead, their color has faded and they are gray.  Which is so disappointing because they are strikingly gorgeous in their intended colors.  This one visited with me for a couple minutes right when the sun was rising.  I'll never forget this little critter.

#4 Sand Dollar, Masonboro Island, NC

Sand Dollars are my favorite shell to find.  Each one brings me such joy.  When I first stumble upon the gem, I actually start talking to it.  I say, "hey, how are are gorgeous, I love you, I am going to take you home and take such good care of you." It really doesn't sound as crazy when I am in the moment.  Isn't this one just spectacular though.  And, can you believe that you can walk on the beach and find this.  In the sand.  Washed up.  Out of the ocean.

Sand Dollar

#3 Sea Biscuit Fossil, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

I'm from Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Hurricane capital of the world.  In 1996 we had 7 hit the area directly.  And, because of that, and because of the beautiful barrier island system along the North Carolina Coast, our beaches are new.  The waters are gorgeous, but our beaches are new.  New to the beach because they are dredged.  So very rarely are fossils found.  Ocean Drive Beach isn't foreign to hurricanes, but their beaches are pristine.  The water isn't as clear, but the sand is softer than silk.  And, because of the low erosion, fossils can appear in the dune line, where is just where this sea biscuit fossil was waiting for me.

#2 Scotch Bonnet, Ocracoke Island, NC

One of my best buds got married on Ocracoke Island.  What a great place to get married, and holy cool island!  I had never been, and not only did they get married in a great place, but the weather was insane.  It was October and a bunch of us, including the groom set out for the beach in a borrowed pick up truck.  I was casually shelling when I came upon a beat up conch.  I picked it up, turned it over, and TA DA!!  My very first Scotch Bonnet.  Which, just in case you didn't know, is North Carolina's State Shell.  

Scotch Bonnet stuck in conch aperture - my brother had to break the conch to release the find.

#1 Giant Tun, Kiawah Island, SC

I was biking along Kiawah shelling in March of this year, and I came upon the Giant Tun.  I didn't know what it was, it was the back of it.  (I still wouldn't have known the shells name, but it's face I certainly would).  As my heart started pounding, I said to myself, "please be whole, please be whole," and as I got off my bike and tip toed around to see if it was indeed whole, I finally took a breath and said, "it is whole".  Then I said, "please don't have an animal in you, please don't have an animal in you."  And, it didn't!  So, then I did some silly dance and took some pictures.  Finally, came back to where I was staying to find out what the name of this beauty was:  The Giant Tun.

Giant Tun

Well, there they are.  As I continue to keep thinking about my favorites, I will probably change my mind.  A couple of my favorites that didn't make the list are the Keyhole Limpet (which I grew up calling a Chinaman's Hat), the Lettered Olive (Key Shell - and always a joy to find), Lightning Whelks, Wentletraps, Coral, Baby Ears, Nutmegs, Florida Fighting Conchs, Turbans, Ceriths, Maginella, and Moon Stones.  There are more, but it's going to get dark soon, and I need to comb the beach.

Happy Hunting and Gathering,

New Design: Octopus

Friday, April 11, 2014

What is it about Octopus's that we all love.  I think it's because they are amazing animals.  This may sound silly, but isn't it amazing that they actually exist?  I recently watched Oceans, a Disney documentary, and the Blanket Octopus was briefly mentioned.  That's a different story, but if you want to see something else in the octopus family that really exists check out the blanket octopus.

Now for my post.

My Momma called this morning and wanted to order a baby blanket for a baby girl.  And, she asked if I would try and make an octopus design.  I love an artistic challenge, even when I am screaming at my paintbrush or computer in the design process.  

I first sketched the little critter.
Octopus Sketch


Then, painted it pink, for obvious reasons.

Pink Octopus

And, designed in Photoshop this design.

Octopus Design for baby blanket

If Momma approves, I think we'll give the blanket and framed watercolor as a gift.  

And, the octopus project in a nutshell, or collage rather.

I hope you are all doing something outside today.  It's gorgeous!



My Motivation for Cleaning Shells - Simon Pearce

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Most of the time I love cleaning the shells that I find.  What makes it difficult right now?  The fact that winter won't seem to leave.  It's cold outside, and that takes away from the joy a little bit. 

Cleaning the loot

Most of the sea urchins I found were ripped from their homes.  And, they all took a beating.  Some cracked in half as I started the cleaning process.  Every time a sea urchin or sand dollar is broken, my heart breaks a little bit.

Battered, still intact, (and still gorgeous) Sea Urchin
These sand dollars are the ones I found in Kiawah.  They were also ripped from their beds by the severe current and new moon, so they needed a lot of sun bathing to get to their pristine whiteness. 

Sun Bathing Sand Dollars
So, you wonder, where my motivation for this labor intensive task came from?  This insanely awesome Simon Pearce Lamp that was a wedding gift from one of my favorite people.  You can see why.  And who would put lemons in a lamp when you have shells? 

Nantucket Lamp by Simon Pearce
I can't wait to get these babies all cleaned up for their new home.  The lamp can't wait either.  I think I'm the most impatient of all the inanimate objects I just gave feelings to.  :)


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