When I moved home twelve and a half years ago I had no idea what I was getting myself into! God is so funny that way, isn't he? I moved home to run my Dad's new retail shop not planning on staying long, and having zero business experience. Here I am, all these years later, now owning that business with my husband, who is now mayor of this little town we call home!
Almost every southern cook I know has a recipe box or binder full of cards and slips of paper collected over the years from family, friends, and magazines. This is in addition to a cabinet full of cookbooks - from beautiful glossy picture-filled hardback books to spiral bound paperbacks filled with covered dish supper favorites and the name of the cook. My Mama had a dark wooden recipe box with a cornucopia painted on the top. She would pull it down from the cabinet above the stove, and we would know something delicious was about to happen in that kitchen.
When I got married, I received a recipe box, a couple of binders, and plenty of blank recipe cards. At the time, I had no recipes of my own to write on the cards and put in the binders or box! My mother-in-law gave me an old binder full of her and her mother’s recipes. This binder has become precious to me. Over the years, I have learned to make a few of those recipes, including my husband’s favorite - fresh peach cake for his birthday. (I shared this recipe in my blog Peach Cake.)
Last year, my Mama gave me the sweetest birthday present - her wooden recipe box! She included the card for my favorite meal as a child - Chicken Spaghetti! She’s also been working on typing up her other recipes to add to my collection. Of course, those in her own handwriting are the ones that are so dear to my heart. I have such sweet memories and feelings of home every time I look at that box.
Now that I have learned how to cook, I have lots of recipes in my everyday repertoire, and love gathering more. My problem is I have not organized all those recipes. I have a shelf full of cookbooks I’ve collected and lots of recipes scribbled here and there, but I don’t really have a system to organize them all. That’s one of those goals I’ve always hoped to get done, but never have! So, I’m trying to get my act together now, starting with our favorite recipe box from Rifle Paper Company. Choose from three different designs to match your kitchen and personality. We also have a cute Berry Basket Recipe Box you may prefer with its open top. And, all our recipes in the Recipe Archive are available in a printable format perfect for 4”x6” recipe cards to fit!
I look forward to organizing all my recipes - both old standbys and new favorites. Of course, I will still use recipes found online and in cookbooks; but, there is something nostalgic about reaching for a full recipe box. You can almost feel a connection to the cooks who have shared those recipes with you as well as the many southern cooks who have come before. And, what a wonderful gift for those who will come after us. One day, perhaps I can pass on a full recipe box to my daughter-in-law to help her become a great southern cook.
We love doing vintage shows because it gives us a chance to show off our true Southern style. One of our favorite things to do is to use our new and trendier items to feature our special vintage finds. We love the eclectic look this creates and we believe it brings our vintage finds to life again!
Each show we try to feature a different area or theme, so our booth at this show was heavy on kitchen and office items! Of course, we still brought some of our favorite garden items and jewelry pieces to finish the look.
We are still obsessed with the unique jewelry that Sweet Auburn Studio produces. These charming pieces are handcrafted with unique vintage finds to create the loveliest bracelets.
We mixed in a few vintage finds that felt like fall. It is hard to transition into the next season when it is still so warm out, but then again, we're pretty use to that!
This was one of our favorite kitchen set-ups yet. We are in love with this rusty old chicken coop and thought it would be the perfect way to display some of our recipe boxes and kitchen towels!
Vintage kitchen utensils and funky new kitchen towels make for a great pair. Our enamelware and jam was also a hit! Full of personality, this area became a fan-favorite at the show.
We love to bring out our Rifle Paper Co. notebooks and calendars every chance we get! This office space is full of color, and color makes us happy!
We underestimated how much everyone would love our paper rolls that can be mounted to the wall, so we're sold out! They didn't make it to the website, but don't worry, we've re-ordered! Keep an eye out for their arrival and in the mean time, tell us what else you want more of!
We are so blessed to have the opportunity to travel and meet so many new people! We hope you've enjoyed a look at our last show and we hope you'll plan to make it to one of our holiday markets! Check out our Events page to see what show might be close to you.
If you have seen anything that you are interested in pictured above that you have not seen listed on the web site, shoot us an email! We aren't able to list all of our merchandise online, but we'd love to send it your way if it is still available!
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara, Jorjanne, and I got a chance to hang out with our friend Carey this week to get a lesson in boiling peanuts. We had a ball spending the morning with him on his back porch, learning how he has perfected his methods of this very old, southern tradition of boiling peanuts.
Within the last year, The Southern Mercantile has made so many new friends! We love that we are gaining new followers so that we can continue to share our love for the South. Since many of you are still getting to know us, we thought that we would repost our Coming Home stories--how we got to where we are today. Our usual blog posts give you a glimpse into who we are, but our coming home stories are so much more. We would love for you to take a minute (or two, or three!) to read Roxie, Jorjanne and Tara's stories of what brought them home.
Grow Where You Are Planted
Like Tara and Jorjanne, I grew up in this small Georgia town called Ocilla. The main difference in our stories is that I don’t have generations of family that lived here before me. I have mentioned before that my mother is from Virginia, and my father is from Colorado. They met at college in Tennessee and moved here in the 70’s. Lack of family ties can really make one feel like an outsider from time to time, but it can also show you the power of good friendships!
Faithful in the Little Things
I grew up in a small town. Scratch that. I grew up in a rural community outside of a small town. Next door to my grandparents’ farm and within a mile of the county line, I was the first one on the school bus every morning and the last one off every afternoon. Keep in mind, we have one elementary school, while the middle and high schools share a campus, for the entire county!
I have been home now for two and a half years, and almost married a year. I can feel my roots beginning to sink again. Growing up in a small town and moving back to that small town as an adult are two very different experiences. I spent four vital years of my life in a different area where people see things differently, eat differently, speak differently, treat each other differently, dress differently and well, live differently.(Granted, I was only 3 hours away in Athens, GA, but there is no comparison.) I was allowed the freedom to experience other cultures and lifestyles—while taking note mentally and inwardly beginning to shape my own. I wouldn't trade those years for anything—because if nothing else, I learned to love differently.
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!
What we're Pinning