Give me fruit, and I will make jam - I thoroughly enjoy taking berries, peaches, pears, figs, or whatever fruit I can find and turn it into jams, jellies, and preserves.
In the fall of 2015, a group of people from our community gathered to discuss the growing needs within and around foster care in our area. Led by a local pastor with a heart for foster care, we agreed to form a local chapter of an organization already in place,
Called to Care. Towards the end of the meeting, he asked if anyone felt called to be a part of the leadership team, and I felt my hand rising. Little did I know that my life would be forever changed by the information presented to me over the next few weeks.
Why is there a need for an organization like Called to Care?
Within Ben Hill, Irwin and Berrien counties, we have 160 children in foster care and only 10 local foster families. This great divide is bridged by foster families who live in other counties, as well as children's homes that are located hours away. This means that not only are children being uprooted from the only home they've ever known, but they're also being moved miles from their schools, communities, extended family members, and friends. The only remedy to this is to prevent children from coming into care (by supporting those families) and to recruit more local foster families!
Called to Care acts as a liaison between the Department of Family and Children Services and the community by communicating the needs at hand. We (with the help of our 884 Facebook friends) started a clothing and supply closet at Ocilla Baptist Church. Thanks to generous donations, we have clothing of all sizes, shoes of all sizes, undergarments, diapers, hygiene items, blankets, toys and books available to our foster children. Working closely with our local DFCS workers, we are able to meet most of the physical needs in our area.
Our brick-and-mortar retail store, The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry, is a drop off location for donations. We have also hosted drives for specific items, which is conveinent considering that we are in the heart of downtown!
We had a local mom, Kirsten, recently bring in an overwhelming amount of donations. Kirsten's sweet baby girl, Lindy, just turned 1 year old. To celebrate her birthday, Kirsten asked if guests would bring a donation to Called to Care in lieu of a gift for her daughter. The donations poured in as family and friends gathered to celebrate Lindy. What a special way to celebrate her daughter's life! We have been so encouraged by this gift, and so many families are going to be blessed by her selflessness.
Called to Care hosts quarterly events in which the kids are provided opportunities to leave their worries at the door and to simply play. Snacks, bouncy houses, art projects, nail painting and one-on-one basketball games make for a fun afternoon. We love every minute of getting to know these kids and are thankful for the opportunity to encourage and serve them.
Here's a few examples of other projects we've completed in our area:
DFCS Visitation Room Before:
DFCS Visitation Room After:
From the very beginning, I became heavily involved in the needs presented to Called to Care. Not only was this an overwhelming undertaking--but also a heart-breaking one. With each request, with each need, the tears would come. I had this aching desire to do more than meet the physical needs of these families. I suddenly felt the very real call from Jesus to care for the widows and orphans. It didn't take long for my husband, Phillip, to feel the exact same way. We were faced with desperate needs on a weekly basis that broke our heart and changed our thought process. We knew fostering was where our family was being called, so we started making preparations.
In less than a year's time with Called to Care, Phillip and I felt the need to create a home for our future family--whatever that may look like. Our budget was small, but we wanted to purchase a home of our own and begin to settle in. We looked at homes that were "move-in ready" as well as fixer-uppers, but nothing felt just right. I was set on having at least three bedrooms (this would be necessary in foster care if you have children of the opposite sex in your home) which narrowed our search tremendously due to our budget. We made a list of pros and cons for some of our favorite homes, trying to make sense of it all. Finally, my mom asked if I'd be interested in looking at a home in town that wasn't listed, but she knew the owners tried to sell it a few years ago. I said yes, and she made the call. This couple was happy to show us the house that would soon become our home. Learn more about our home and the renovation process by checking out Beech Street Bungalow: Before.
After we began putting our home back together, I started dreaming up what the "girl room" and "boy room" should look like. I loved the idea of creating a comfortable and safe space that any child might love. Lots of thought and planning has gone into these two special rooms in our home, and my heart is anxiously awaiting the day when these rooms will be finished and full.
I have always loved children. I have always wanted to be a mom, and to have a family of my own. After coming to know the Lord, I realized I had a heart for adoption--but still wanted to birth children of my own. After maturing in the Lord, and seeing the unrelenting needs around me, my thoughts began to change and turn into what I believe to be His. This is what I know to be true: He has given me a deep desire to be a mother. He has given me a husband who shares my same desires. He is good. He is faithful. He will bring children into my life who need me at that exact time, whether I birth them or only have them in my home for a few months.
We are excited, and we are nervous. This process is slow, especially when you're in the middle of remodeling a home! We now have a group of 7 local families ready to complete training to have children in their homes. (Roxie, Jorjanne and I are three of those families!) What a blessing this journey has been and will continue to be.
If you are interested in being involved in Called to Care, please let us know! You can visit our Facebook page or email us at email@example.com. If you don't live in South Georgia, look for ways to positively impact the foster care system in your area! We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have. I believe that we are indeed called to love, called to serve, and called to care. The beautiful thing is that everyone can do something.
As I continue to reflect on our wedding day, there is one more thing I wanted to make sure I shared with you. Although it may seem silly, I believe the details make the wedding. It is easy to just focus on the big picture, but it is the details that make everything so special. Sometimes, it can even be the details that help craft the whole feel and theme of the wedding. It is in the details where guests see your heart and style--along with the careful thought and planning you put into making it your special day. I have flipped through my pictures hundreds of times, and it is these that I keep coming back to. (The details.) Here you will find photographs that capture sweet details from my wedding day that I believe made it so special.
Throughout the years I have become quite a little note writer. I have found it to be a good opportunity to show someone how much they mean to you--and believe me, it means a lot to them. There is just something about a handwritten note that time cannot erase. For things as simple as a call, or as big as a Kitchen Aid mixer, thank you notes can have a special way of exhibiting gratitude and love. With my wedding only a few weeks away, you can imagine how busy I have been writing! Thank you notes can have a way of becoming overwhelming, burdensome--and let’s just be honest; a real chore.
**Notice what I have said, “CAN have a special way of exhibiting gratitude and love” and “CAN have a way of becoming overwhelming, burdensome, etc.”
Well guys, when you saw the title of this blog you may have been thinking to yourself "is she still working on that house?" The answer to this question is yes, yes we are. This little house has been quite a labor of love for me. If you are new to The Southern Merc, and you have missed the story on our Alder Street Renovation, you can catch up by clicking any of the links below!
Alder Street Social Club
Alder Street Renovation
The Living & Dining Area
It has taken me a little while to get the bedrooms and the bathroom "photo ready." I have moved the furniture several times, rearranged the pictures several times, and have finally decided this is as good as it gets for now!
We'll start with the guest room. Unfortunately, I did a terrible job documenting our progress in this room. What you need to know about the room before we started working is that it had a dark, orangey-brown wood floor, walls and ceiling. Here is what it looked like when we started working on the house. We closed up a window on the side wall and made the window on the back wall larger.
Here is the same wall today. The picture over the bed is hanging where the window was that we closed up. I chose a pretty light gray by Sherwin Williams for this room called "Aloof Gray". The trim and ceiling are "Ceiling White" by Olympic.
You guys know I love a well-made bed - in fact, I wrote a blog on that topic! These vintage embroidered pillow cases that say "Good Morning" and "Good Night" were just what I needed to cozy up this guest bed.
I try not to clutter my house up with too many collections, but I just can't help myself sometimes! In this room I used vintage jars to house my collections of old dominoes and vintage thread spools.
The closet in this room was a nice size but only had one small door, making the space hard to use, so I had the opening widened. Luckily, there was a door from the bathroom that we did not need that matched the original closet door to make a pair. The antique glass door knobs are not original but I thought they made a nice touch! Little details like that make nice upgrades to any home, large or small.
This little bookcase is full of family pictures. I love displaying old pictures, it is so comforting to me to walk in and be surrounded by loved ones that went before me.
Y'all, what can I say? I like pictures too much! Haha! You can also see in the picture below on the left that there is a mirror and hooks for the convenience of our guests.
This is the little hallway area that connects both bedrooms and the bathroom. When you walk into the hall from the living/dining area, the guest room is to the left, the bathroom is straight ahead and the master is to the right.
There were two closets in this little hallway. We closed one up and made it open into the master bedroom. This gave me a good place for the air conditioning return. The other small closet houses the water heater. I would have loved to have gone with a tankless water heater but it just wasn't in the budget at the time. The closet below became the bedroom closet. That is the original water heater. Don't worry, we got a new one and installed it across the hall in the smaller closet.
Now, on to the bathroom! Just in case you forgot, it was disgusting. You can see the panel box was in the bathroom, so we moved that out to the hallway when the wiring was replaced. We moved the window to the right so it would not be partly in the shower. The flooring had to be completely ripped out and replaced. Hopefully, it goes without saying that we replaced all the fixtures! Ha!
This is our very small bathroom now! When you embrace living in 980 square feet, you have to make use of every inch! When we bought the house the washer /dryer hook up was in the kitchen. Rather than give up much needed closet space in the bedrooms, I decided to go with a stackable unit and put it in the bathroom. It is certainly not luxurious, but it works for us! As long as we keep up with the laundry and keep everything in its place, it doesn't feel too cramped.
Even the smallest of spaces deserve some special details. I couln't really find a ready-made shower curtain that I loved so I splurged on some fantastic fabrics. Dad helped me make this no-sew cornice board, and Aunt Janet was quick to lend a hand in sewing my shower curtain.
Keeping essentials like q-tips, bobby pins, and cotton pads in pretty containers on a pretty tray helps keep your counters looking good while still having everything you need conveniently located.
Next on our virtual tour is the master bedroom. I call this the master because this is the room that Matt and I chose to be ours but it really is exactly the same size as the guest room, just with two closets. This room had been used as a nursery about 30 years before we bought the house! My dad actually put up this wallpaper for our neighbors at the time when they were preparing for their first baby! Funny how things come full circle. Dad did an excellent job hanging that wallpaper because it was a pain in the you-know-what to get off of those walls!
This is my beautiful, peaceful bedroom now!
The walls are painted "Misty Lake" by Valspar. The trim is the same as the rest of the house, "Ceiling White," and the ceiling is the same as the living area, "Spare White" by Sherwin Williams.
The chandelier is vintage and is my most favorite light fixture in the house! We have low cielings so I didn't have many opportunities in the house to use a hanging light fixture. Since this one hangs over the foot of the bed, it keeps us from bumping our heads!
I hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my home renovation! It has taken a little while to get things settled, but I love a work in progress! I have been working on the yards this year so that will be the next thing on the list to share!
If you like what you see in the house, check out the store! It is full of beautifully currated items that speak to my southern style!
If you have been keeping up with what's happening at The Southern Mercantile, I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you think of the house and if you have a project of your own you are working on!
Every year my husband makes one request for his birthday - Fresh Peach Cake! His birthday is June 28, which is usually the beginning of peach season. This sweet, delicious, light cake is what he has always requested for his birthday cake, beginning years ago with his mother. Several years ago, she passed the tradition on to me.
I was truly blessed growing up to be a part of a family that traveled. Since my parents were both school teachers, we had plenty of time in the summer to pack up and hit the road! Keep in mind, my parents were school teachers, so these were not glamourous vactations full of ski trips, water parks, restaraunts and hotels. Our road trips consisted of tent camping (thank you K.O.A.), dinners from the cooler (a.k.a. cooler crud) and finding all the cool stops along the way that were free or cheap! While our trips may have been a strain on the family budget, they were full of fun and happy memories (somehow you forget the stressful times when it is over). My brother and I were really lucky to have gotten to see so much of the United States of America!
From Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, and The Grand Canyon, to a tour up the west coast of California, Oregon, and Washington. We visited the world's deepest hand-dug well in Greensburg, Kansas, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, an Indian Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico, and the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, Colorado.
Every once in a while, usually in the fall, we got to go to places like Disney World and Sea World!
Of course, as a teenager these trips got a little embarrassing. We were getting the car serviced in California on one of our trips, and I realized that my dad was wearing a tie-dyed tank top, shorts, fanny pack, and Mickey Mouse socks with sandals. We were quite a sight!
Y'all, this blog would be too long if I named all of the fun places my family traveled over the years! We usually landed in Colorado for a week or so somewhere along the way to visit with my grandparents and play in the mountains we all still love so much!
Being able to travel and see so much of our beautiful country did so much to help shape who I am today. I am a southern girl at heart, but I am sure you can tell by touring my home and reading my other posts that my style and personality has been heavily influenced by sights and experiences I was exposed to on our journeys! What a priceless treasure, to have been able to soak up different cultures, styles, people, and landscapes. Thanks to my adventurous parents for being willing to load us up and be away from home for weeks at a time. Your kids are better people for it!
In honor of all of these nostalgic feelings this summer, Tara, Jorj and I thought it would be fun to spread the southern love across the whole country! During the month of July we want to get a new Facebook "like" from at least one person in every state! So, if you are reading this, and you don't already follow us on Facebook, head on over and like our page! If you are a Facebook fan already, we hope you'll tag a friend from a far away place and help us reach our goal!
If you are heading out on a road trip of your own this summer, we hope you have safe and happy travels! Share a picture with us along the way!
One of the best things about summers in the South is the plentiful supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here in Georgia, we get particularly excited when peaches are in season. There seems to be no limit to the peachy goodness that we produce during peach season: peach cake, peach preserves, peach salsa, peach relish, peach pie and peach cobbler, just to name a few. My personal favorite of all peach concoctions is the Peach Beehive!
Ice cream in general is always delicious, but there’s something about homemade ice cream that’s even tastier! I’m not sure if homemade ice cream is a strictly southern tradition or not, but I know it’s a summertime tradition for our family! There are lots of recipes, but I’ve perfected a simple vanilla recipe, which is always a crowd-pleaser. Once you have a basic recipe like this, you can make variations with whatever fruit is in season, or even make chocolate using cocoa powder.
Many recipes call for eggs in the mixture, which you cook on the stove, then have to cool before making the ice cream. That’s too much trouble for me. Other recipes don’t cook the eggs, which is supposed to be safe because of the churning, but I don’t trust it. Therefore, my recipe does not have eggs in it. It is however, full of cream and condensed milk, so it is certainly not for the lactose intolerant!
Like I’ve said, I like to keep things simple, so I mix up my ice cream right in the canister for the ice cream churn. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 can condensed milk, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. The sugar won’t dissolve, but make sure it’s all distributed evenly. Add 1 pint heavy whipping cream and 1 quart half and half. Top off with whole milk to the fill line on the canister. Stir to incorporate the condensed milk mixture.
The dasher - the part that does the churning - goes inside the canister. Put the lid on, then get ready to start your engine, or ice cream churn! Follow directions for your churn on how to put the motor on your ice cream churn, but you'll need to be sure the dasher is inserted through the lid into the motor and the motor is locked onto the outside bucket.
If you’ve never made homemade ice cream, there are a few items you will need in addition to your recipe: a churn, rock salt, ice, towels. You can usually purchase an ice cream churn at Wal-Mart or many other grocery stores, especially this time of year, as well as online like at amazon.com. They can range in price from $25 up to $70 for a basic churn, with fancier options that don’t require ice or rock salt running up to $250. I say stick to the $25-$40 range unless you’re going to make ice cream several days a week. The rock salt can also be purchased at most grocery stores. Once you’ve filled your canister and placed it in the churn, you’ll need to layer ice and rock salt all around the canister. Helpful hint: I usually plug in the churn to get it started after I put the first layers in so the churn can spin freely and not get caught up on pieces of ice. The towels can be placed around the top of the churn to insulate it or underneath to catch condensation or overflow. I usually set my churn in the sink or in a large pan because as the churn makes the ice cream, the ice melts, causing water to spill out of a hole at the top for this purpose.
The motor on the churn can be pretty loud, so you may want to put it in another room or outside, where you can close the door on it. Most models of ice cream churns will stop running when the ice cream is ready. You just need to listen for the motor to stop, then unplug it. When you remove the canister of ice cream, be careful not to allow the salty water into the lid. You don’t want to ruin all your effort!
Undoubtedly, when Chris used the knife in the canister, he somehow made some tiny holes, which didn’t leak out the ice cream, but siphoned in the salt water! It was awful and sooooo disappointing!
This vanilla recipe is delicious all on its own, but feel free to top it with fresh fruit, like berries or peaches. Yum!
So, for your next get-together, try your hand at homemade ice cream. It’s sure to be a hit at any gathering!
Be sure to have joined our email list in order to get this recipe sent right to your inbox! Also, find this recipe and other recipes like this in our Recipe Archive.
On the first weekend in June, we found ourselves in Lawrenceville, GA for Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta, our last show of the spring! While I have greatly enjoyed our travels and meeting lots of new Southern Merc fans, I must admit that I am looking forward to slowing down a bit for the summer! This show in Atlanta was a fantastic end to our spring travel schedule. We had a great venue and a super-fun crowd!
Our space was filled with cool garden items, succulents, vintage office decor and cool summer travel items.
Roxie even set up a little work station and created custom flower arrangements during the show!
We have a real passion for vintage garden items, so y'all know we can't leave home without a collection of vintage planters and bell jars.
Can you really ever have too many globes?
We have had a really great time on the road this spring, and we are excited and thankful to have met so many new Southern Mercantile fans! While it will be nice to unpack for a while and recharge our creative batteries, we are already looking forward to fall! You will have a few more chances to catch up with us this year in September and November. You can always find a list of our upcoming travels on our Events page.
In the mean time, if your summer travels have you passing through south Georgia, we would love for you to drop by our store in Ocilla! Stop in and see us at The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry, have a little lunch and do some shopping!
Just because we are done traveling for a while, doesn't mean we don't have anything fun planned for you guys this summer! Keep checking the blog every week for more recipes and renovations headed your way. We are also having a special, online-only, vintage sale that will launch next week. We'll be featuring a selection of our favorite treasures that didn't find happy homes while we were out on the road. The vintage sale will only be up for a limited time, so if you see something you like, grab it!
If you haven't already, join our email list so you are sure not to miss a thing that is going on at The Southern Mercantile! Happy Summer y'all!
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