Many 4th's of my childhood were spent at my grandparent's house in Arlington, VA, near Washington D.C. The cousins would all gather in the side yard for a game of badminton or wiffle ball while the "grownups" prepared a 4th of July feast. Of course the night ended with a fabulous mini fireworks display hosted by the Uncles and Grandpa. We never made it down to the Washington Monument to watch the big fire works but many times we watched from favorite spots in town with a great view.
I love the 4th of July. I love decorating the shop with flags and buntings. I love the color red, I love sparklers, and I love cook-outs and all of the traditional southern dishes that are served at them! I love the sense of pride that surrounds this special day, filled with concerts, parades, family gatherings, and fireworks.
My grandpa was a WWII vet and a history/government teacher so he never missed an opportunity to educate us on historical happenings and he did his best to instill in us a love of our country. He was a patriot through and through.
Though my 4th of July celebrations have become a bit more simple and quiet as an adult, it is still fun to get together and reflect on the blessings of living in an independent nation. Whether we get invited to a barbeque at a friend's house or just hang out with whoever is home on Alder St., we always eat well! The meal always includes something off the grill, and of course potato salad. We southerners love our potato salad. There are so many delicious versions of this classic dish. I will confess to you that I have never been a fan of traditional, southern potato salad with pickle relish. I much prefer the more interesting versions full of extra veggies, unusual dressings, and maybe even a little blue cheese. Bacon ranch potato salad has quickly become one of my favorites, second only to my dad's famous potato salad.
We have tweaked this recipe over the years and it has become one of the most popular versions of potato salad that we serve in our café. Filled with boiled egg, celery, bacon, and ranch dressing, how can you go wrong? If you are looking for something new to try this 4th of July, head on over to our recipe archive and give this extra special potato salad a try.
You will also find many other delicious recipes, perfect for your summer gatherings. Happy cooking and Happy 4th of July!
You will find a great selection of cookbooks full of delicious southern recipes in our online store. Be sure to check them out while you are here!
It isn't any secret that I LOVE to set a pretty table. I love table linens, dishes, glasses, silverware... if it involves entertaining, I am in. I thought it would be fun to give you guys some examples of ways you can set a beautiful summer table. These tips will come in handy whether you are having a couple of friends over for dinner or hosting a large party or shower. I had a great time using some things from my own collection as well as things we offer in the store.
My first tip for achieving an interesting and beautiful table is to mix old and new. I love mixing my vintage finds in with new decor items. For this table I used a beautiful vintage table cloth, vintage brass candlesticks and my vintage silverplate.
The white and green color pallet is so warm and inviting and was perfect for showing off gardenias and Queen Anne's lace from the garden.
My next tip is to not be afraid to mix different shades of white and off white. For this table I mixed old and new plates. The off white vintage floral plates sit atop the large white chargers and each place setting got a fresh gardenia to make things extra special.
Mom and I have had a great time collecting mix and match vintage brass candlesticks. We enjoyed them on the Christmas mantel last year and many of you gave them good homes during the holiday season! If you are trying to think of other ways to use these beauties, I think it is a cute idea to re purpose these candlesticks as flower vases. All candlesticks won't work for this but some have hollow centers that allow the flower stems to slide down. While there is no way to keep the flowers in water, they will stay pretty for a few hours, long enough for you and your guests to enjoy during dinner.
The next table is much lighter and casual. I still used my vintage silverplate for fun but mixed with more casual everyday dishes. The zinnias and pittosporum were cut from my dad's yard and look so good in these textured white vases.
When your table is as pretty as this one, sometimes it is nice to use a runner rather than a full tablecloth. This grey woven runner was just the right amount of texture and color to add a little life to this table.
If you are decorating your table for fun or for a special occasion, think of fun details you can add like these sweet little birds nests. A little surprise on every plate!
The next table has a much more modern feel. The simple white dishes, succulents and black and white linens are begging for a fabulous lunch in the garden or supper served fresh off of the grill. If you want to mix things up with your linens, try using double runners across the table rather than one runner down the middle. If you have a very long dining table, you might need 3 to achieve this look. Mixing in the wood, terracotta and blown glass makes it feel very fresh with a nod to the west. I imagine myself sitting on a fabulous patio in Arizona, surrounded by cactus and a gorgeous orange sun set. Ok, I am getting carried away. Can you tell I am really in love with this table?
I cut some of my biggest succulents for this table. They happened to be blooming which was perfect to add a little length and drama to my arrangement. Don't worry, they weren't wasted! They were given to a friend to be potted where I am sure they will be very happy and make lots of succulent babies.
Just one more shot of this because I think it is perfection!
The last table is a little more refined and traditional, set with woven place-mats, simple white dishes and plain stainless silverware. A ginger jar shaped vase full of hydrangeas and gardenias adds a classic, southern feel.
A place-mat is a great option when you are setting places at your counter or if you have a beautiful table you want to show off.
I hope you will have a little fun this summer dressing up your table, even if it is only for your family! As always, we love to see how you are decorating at home, so tag us on Facebook or Instagram!
To shop these beautiful tablescapes, visit our store HERE.
We had such a pretty spring this year here in South Georgia and Matt and I found ourselves out on the patio almost every evening. The patio is always more fun with a cocktail so I decided to share a couple of my favorites with you. These two cocktails require simple ingredients that are easy to keep on hand and are quick to mix up for unexpected guests or impromptu porch parties. I purchased everything I needed at my local package store and my local Piggly Wiggly, definitely no fancy ingredients here!
I love champagne, therefore, I love champagne cocktails. They are so light and refreshing and bubbly. A champagne cocktail in a fancy glass will make you feel like you're at a party, even if you are home by yourself!
Let's start with the French 75. This cocktail contains: gin, champagne, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and a lemon slices for garnishing. This is my favorite cocktail for summer. The bubbles and the citrus fruit are a perfect combination on a warm, summer evening. You can check out my video below for the measurements and tools needed, or click HERE to find the recipe in our recipe archive.
Another delicious champagne cocktail is the Champagne Julep. It is a crisp and bubbly alternative to the classic mint julep and is every bit as good! For this drink you will need: simple syrup, champagne, sugar cubes, and fresh mint. I grew this mint in my little garden which makes it taste extra special to me!
Pictured here in a vintage champagne glass, this drink is traditionally served in a silver julep cup. See the video below for measurements and instructions.
If you love champagne, I hope you will take the time to try one of these delightful concoctions and let me know what you think. From my porch to yours, cheers to the start of a happy and healthy summer!
If you get excited about fun and unusual cocktails, these two bar books are full of good ideas, and they are available on our website! The French 75 recipe is from "Southern Cocktails" and I found the Champagne Julep, along with many other tempting libations in "A Spot at the Bar".
To get all of the details on the tools and ingredients you'll need to make these two cocktails, along with measurements, check out my video below!
By the time Perry was about 6 months old, I already knew what his First Birthday Party theme would be. Little Blue Truck is absolutely his favorite book, and he has shown a preference for it long before I thought he should be able to. As we read the book to him, he would lean around the page to see what was coming next as he turned the page. And, when we finished, he would cry for us to read it again, even pushing other books out of the way!
I had never even heard of Little Blue Truck before one of my teacher friends gave it to us at Perry's baby shower (side note, the other book she gave me, Pete the Cat's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is also among his favorites!). It's a sweet story of Little Blue Truck who makes friends with lots of farm animals as he rides down the road. When a rude dump truck gets stuck in the mud, no one comes to help until Little Blue Truck shows up and get stuck himself. When all his friends hear his "Beep! Beep! Beep!" they show up and do what it takes to get both trucks out.
Since it's not a very well-known book, there aren't a lot of party decorations readily available, so I had to get creative. In the back of the book, there is a link to download a party kit that includes party hats, cupcake toppers, coloring sheets, and a "Pin the hat on Blue" game (which was a lot of fun for the older kids). That gave me a good start, but I knew I needed more, beginning with an invitation. So, I got to work using some of my favorite online tools!
I got on Pinterest and created a board for Perry's birthday party to get some ideas. I was surprised and very pleased when I searched Etsy and found several invitation options! I finally settled on a digital version I could send electronically and print myself. Of course, once I started looking, I discovered lots of Little Blue Truck items made by people who are more creative than I am. I found decorations for centerpieces I could also download and print myself. I ordered a onesie embroidered with Little Blue Truck and his friends (which I managed not to get a good picture of him wearing). I even found fondant characters to put on the cake, which is one thing I could do myself. I'm pretty proud of how the ombre icing turned out, thanks to tutorials I found and Tara's help! If you like the idea of ombre, but aren't sure about tackling the icing, check out Tara's tutorial for ombre cake layers.
I also saw several high chair banners people had made, and I realized that I could do that myself, too, and I did for half the price I would have paid. After Perry's party, I used it as a backdrop for some of his 1-year pictures. Didn't it turn out cute?
While looking at all the things I could order from Etsy, I saw the cutest decorated sugar cookies that reminded me of cookies I had seen from a bakery in our neighboring town. I sent the picture to the bakery and asked if they could make some similar? Not only could they, their cookies were actually less expensive! I love Etsy because you're purchasing from a small business, but I love supporting a small business in my local community even more!
Amazon and Oriental Trading were my sources for paper goods (plates, napkins, tablecloths, etc.) in blue and white gingham, which matched the invitations and color scheme for the party.
If you're planning a party and want the look of being crafty without too much work, my recommendations are to check out Pinterest for ideas, then look for what you need locally when it's possible or Etsy when it's not. Fill in whatever can't be made (by yourself or someone else!) from your local dollar stores, Oriental Trading, or Amazon.
If you don't already follow us on Pinterest, we'd love it if you check out our boards! They are full of great ideas and resources, like our "Soiree" board that has wonderful ideas for parties and gatherings!
This past weekend we had the privilege of hosting a couples shower for Phillip's sister, Mary Beth, and her fiancé, J.D.! We love them so much and we were so happy to be able to honor them in such a fun way.
When we started the planning process, we knew that on any given Saturday, there would be a UGA game that our guests would hate to miss. We decided to incorporate the love for the game into our party. Mary Beth and J.D. loved this idea, considering they are huge fans--and so are their friends! We had a blast and everyone enjoyed the laid back environment of a football party. Today, I will share with you a few fun tips for making your next Football celebration a hit!
Keep team colors in mind when choosing your decor for the party. Don't go overboard, but your team of choice should be obvious by your selection. Stick with prints and patterns that could be used every day to show sophistication.
Little touches go a long way. Chalkboard art is always a fun idea to spice things up and customize the party! If you don't feel confident taking this on, recruit a friend with perfect penmanship to help you with this project.
Have a little fun and keep the theme going throughout the party. An easy way to do this is to make banners and food tags that coordinate with the invitation. I printed off letters to spell "Go Dawgs" in the same font that I used on the invitation. Cut them in the shape of a triangle and wallah! I did the same thing for the food tags to tie it all together. The ribbon I chose for the banner matched my fabric choices on the food table. You're sure to make an impression by carrying out your theme!
Have a little fun when it comes to the menu! Stick with fan-favorites, like Chips and Dip, Cheese Burger Sliders, and Lemonade.
All of the bridesmaids brought a finger food for guests to enjoy. This worked out great and we had plenty to choose from!
When it comes to dessert, you can get a little creative! I chose to make Red Velvet cupcakes to go along with my color scheme, but the possibilities are endless! Cupcakes are fun since they are easy to grab and totally customizable.
*Use baskets lined with napkins, for items like chips, to add an extra layer of look and create interest on the food table!
Keep it Simple
Remember, this is a football party! Relax and have a little fun. Don't stress about the details, just focus on creating a comfortable environment where people feel at home and are able to enjoy the game.
We put a TV outside on the porch so people could enjoy the game wherever they were. Although it was hot, we had a great time celebrating Mary Beth and J.D. Though I didn't have time to capture many pictures before the party started, here are a few pictures I snapped during the festivities!
If you're looking for a few great appetizer ideas for your next party, add "Southern Appetizers" to your cart! It is full of delicious menu ideas your guests will love!
A wine and cheese party may seem a little too snooty to some, but by adding some Southern flavor, you can create a relaxed environment to make anyone feel comfortable! Here are our essentials and resources for making your next get-together a Southern Wine and Cheese Party!
Choose wines that have been made in the South, or better yet, wines that have been made from Southern fruits. For example, muscadine, peach, and strawberry wines are all deliciously sweet and Southern! Of course, you’ll want wines that aren’t sweet as well, so be sure to include traditional reds and whites. Check out these Southern wineries: Duplin Winery, Lake Ridge Winery, San Sebastian Winery, Georgia Winery, Tiger Mountain Vineyards, or Three Sisters Vineyards Winery.
2. Wine alternative
Of course, not everyone will be imbibing at your party, so provide an alternative for those who are underage, designated drivers, or just don’t care for wine. Sweet tea is many times referred to as the "House Wine of the South" anyway, but may I recommend a slightly fancier option? Muscadine Grape Juice is about as Southern as it gets, and I happen to know where to find the most delicious Purple and White Muscadine Juice. Yes, this is a shameless self-promotion for my husband and our family’s operation: Paulk’s Pride! Check us out at www.paulkspride.com
You can’t have a wine and cheese party without cheese! I do suggest having a variety of textures and flavors for everyone to enjoy: soft, creamy, mild, sharp, aged, blue, etc. Our rural local grocery store doesn’t have many choices, but you can find more options at larger grocery store chains. Or, support a family-owned business such as Sweetgrass Dairy. For a uniquely Southern touch, how about some pimiento cheese? Proper Pepper Small Batch Pimento Cheese is a delicious alternative if you don’t make your own. Of course, if you’re near our small town of Ocilla, Georgia, feel free to stop by The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry to order some of The Cafe’s Pimiento Cheese!
A variety of cured meats to go with the cheeses ensures that no one goes hungry at your party! Salami, pepperoni, and sliced deli meats are typical choices, but a summer sausage from Carroll’s Sausage and Country Store makes a delightfully Southern option.
I know, it may seem like a crazy combination, but honey and cheese are delicious together! Try Savannah Bee Company’s Honey for Cheese or any of their honeys for that matter! Or, find a local beekeeper for the freshest honey in your area.
Start with what’s in season at the time near you. Fresh peaches, pears, berries, muscadine grapes, and apples all go well with your wines and cheeses and look beautiful on your table. Find a pick-your-own or farmers’ market for the freshest produce. Add in some jellies and preserves along with dried fruits and nuts for a little variety. Great resources include:
7. Serving pieces
You probably already have most of what you’ll need to serve (glasses, plates, trays, utensils, napkins, cutting boards, etc.), but if you’re missing anything, you can find it here at The Southern Mercantile!
Don’t worry about incorporating all of these ideas- even just one or two will give your soiree a Southern touch. Remember, the point is to keep it relaxed, so we don’t want you stressing out! This is Simple Living, Southern Charm at its finest!
I have had the privilege of sharing my college years with two wonderful people I now call my best friends.
I met Russell the summer after my freshman year. Because of his brutal honesty, snarky sarcasm and general friendliness we quickly became buds. Our relationship usually revolved around food--seeing as we both loved to cook and entertain. (And did I mention, eat?) Russell has and always will be someone I can count on. After Phillip and I began dating, I couldn't wait for he and Russell to meet each other. They hit it off , like I knew they would, and now call each other friends.
Mary Claire began as a mystery college roommate, which I was hesitant about. (Those situations usually don't end up well.) She moved in, and we instantly became friends. Through much time spent at the pool, painting our nails, baking, and watching chick flicks, we soon became inseparable. She is a talented, sweet-spirited, spontaneous girl who stole my heart and encouraged me more than she will ever know.
It was inevitable that at some point these two would meet. They became friends at first, and I never imagined anything else...until April 1, 2014 (a.k.a April Fools Day). Russell and Mary Claire agreed that it would be fun to fool me by telling me that they were going on a date. You can imagine my excitement when they told me, as well as my disappointment when they unveiled the truth. The only bright side in this cruel trick was that Russell was just trying to find out Mary Claire's real feelings about the possibility of them dating. What started as a "funny" joke that I didn't think was so funny turned into a fairy tale. Russell made known his interest in Mary Claire as more than a friend and the rest is history.
Now, Russell and Mary Claire are getting married, and we wanted to do something special.
Since we are in the middle of summer, I thought what could be more fun than a BBQ? I decided to play up the red and white checkered tablecloths for a festive look--using that same look in the invitations as well.
Russell's favorite foods just happen to fall into that category--I mean who doesn't love pulled pork, mac and cheese, deviled eggs...you get the idea!
To dress up the tables a bit while still keeping it casual, I decided to use sunflowers. A friend of mine has an entire field of sunflowers, so I knew just where to go!
We used my collection of milk glass and gold-rimmed plates along with my silver to set the tables. I decided at the last minute to use twine as "napkin rings" to tie the invitations back into the theme.
Although the party was casual, the food was delicious, and the guests were a delight. We had the best time visiting with one another and celebrating our wonderful friends. This party was just one of many celebrations to come--we are so thankful to have friends like Mary Claire and Russell to enjoy life with.