Most of you, by now have gotten to know my dad, Mr. Crain. He is a beloved fixture around town and especially at our shop! Dad is an exceptional gardener who keeps his plants thriving all year long and his flower beds looking sharp. Last year he blessed us with his knowledge on potting and rooting succulents, and I have to say, the succulents on Alder St. are still thriving! We've even included a few of our home-grown babies in this month's curated collection! In this blog, Mr. Crain is going to show us how to start plants from seeds and how to split up plants that have grown too big for their pots.
These are the tools we've gathered for today's lesson. you will need a good spade, empty pots, scissors, and potting mix. Dad likes to use a mix of Black Kow, potting soil, and garden humus (compost).
When starting plants from seeds, Dad likes to use peat pellets to fill his seed trays. These pellets come full of nutrients, are easy to use, and cut down on the mess of using loose soil. They hold their moisture a little better than the soil and makes it easier to for you to keep your seeds damp. If you don't have peat pellets, it is fine to use your potting soil mix to fill the trays.
If you are using the pellets, just drop one in each slot, water thouroughly, and watch them expand. They will grow to fill the hole. If you are using the potting soil, just go ahead and dampen the soil with water.
When the peat pellets have expanded, just push on them with your finger and spread them out a little.
Be sure to go ahead and label the slots for your seeds or you will have a hard time knowing what is what when they start to sprout!
Take your tiny seeds and lay them on top of each slot in the tray, according to how you labeled them. Push the seeds down a little just so they won't wash to the side when you water. Each type of seed requires a different depth so be sure to read the back of your seed packet for helpful tips. Keep the seeds moist for the next few weeks and watch your little seeds sprout into small plants! When they grow their second set of leaves it will be time to move them to a bigger pot or time to plant them in the ground.
Now we will move on to the opposite stage of plant life, when it has become pot-bound and too big for it's container. Dad's beautiful herb garden has outgrown its pot so it is time to split these plants up and give them a little breathing room.
Go ahead and prep an empty pot (or two) by filling it two thirds of the way with your potting mix.
After removing the pot-bound clump from it's original pot, you can begin to gently pull apart the different kinds of plants. If you are working with one large plant that has become pot-bound, you can go ahead and gently pull at it to create some seperation.
When you have decided where to divide, you need to cut through the roots with a knife or with your garden shears.
You will need to loosen up the soil and the roots before moving to the new pot.
Decide which plants go in which pots and begin the potting process. Set your new, smaller plants on top of the soil you have prepped, and begin filling in around the sides and the top with more soil.
We had enough herbs to turn one pot into three! They will be so much happier now that they have some growing room!
Repotting is inevitable for all pot plants. Don't be afraid to split them up and spread them out. It is a great oppurtunity for you to expand your garden or to bless friends by sharing your bounty. I love to swap plants with friends! Dad's little herbs were so plentiful, he was a sweetie and shared a couple of the new pots he created with me. What a blessing to step out to my side porch when I am cooking and snip some fresh herbs to use in my favorite recipes. Not only are they delicious, but I am reminding of my sweet Dad everytime!
If you're thinking about starting a few seeds of your own this Spring, check out our terracotta starter pots we just added to the store! These small, handmade pots vary in size but are full of character and are perfect for your garden.
We hope these little tips are helpful to you if you are just branching out and starting a garden of your own. If you love caring for plants, be sure to check out this month's curated collection. It has just what you need to care for your favorite house plants!
You'll find many beautiful things for your home and garden so be sure to look around while you are here. Happy gardening y'all!
Setting up a beautiful booth space is half of the fun! Our mini-southern mercantile really came together with a fresh garden theme. The show walls even got a fresh coat of paint for spring! We used one of our all-time favorite colors, sea salt by Sherwin Williams.
Roxie and her dad built this beautiful garden arbor for our spring display. If you missed us at Cottontail's, don't worry, you will get to see this again! It will be traveling with us this spring.
Roxie brought fresh vines and Bridal Veil blooms from her yard to decorate the arbor.
As always, we enjoyed our time in Birmingham and truly enjoyed getting to meet new people and visit with our faithful Southern Merc fans. Every year we recognize more and more of you! Anyone who signed up for our email list while at the show was entered to win a $50 gift certificate to our online store. We are so excited to announce the lucky winner is Penny Ferguson! Happy shopping penny, be on the look out for a happy email in your inbox!
If you missed us at Cottontail's, or if you passed up something you wish you had gotten, don't forget you can shop with us online!
On Wednesday, Roxie had the opportunity to visit our friend and fellow maker, Leigh Ann from Sweet Auburn Studio! Her shop, Burrow Goods, is absolutely adorable and is a must-visit if you are in the Birmingham area. In addition to her jewelry design skills and abilities to perfectly curate the goods in her shop, she is also a talented interior designer!
We have a new selection of Leigh Ann's jewelry in our shop at our Fourth and Cherry location, as well as a large selection of thoughtful pieces by our friend, Sharon, of Wallin and Buerkle. We'll have new pieces listed in the online store soon so be on the look out!
If you missed our first Spring show, don't worry, there are more to come! Check out our Events Page to see if we will be traveling to a town near you!
Happy New Year Southern Merc Fans! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying a fresh start on a new season of life! I am sorry it has been so long since I have put the pen to paper (or rather my fingers to the keyboard!). I wanted to take a minute to share my thoughts with you about how we ended 2018 and where we hope we are headed in the New Year!
2018 started out with a bang, full of hope, and a renewed sense of spirit. We hit the road March through May and enjoyed getting to see so many of you, old friends and new!
We also had a busy spring welcoming two new babies to our Southern Mercantile fold! Katelyn blessed us with little Lainey Kate in March and sweet Perry Jacob arrived to Jorjanne in June! These little angels have been such a blessing to all of us, bringing so much joy and fun!
I wish I had a year's worth of bragging, good news, and joyous occasions to share with you, but while reflecting on 2018, I have realized it was a really hard year! Towards the end of the summer my year took a downward spiral and I had a hard time coming back. Growing this online busines and sustaining our brick and mortar store in Ocilla has been quite a tall task! Money is always tight (or non-existant), there never seem to be enough hours in the day, and the stress of my day to day life really got to me last year.
On top of other tensions that were already building in my life, our building took a hard hit during hurricane Michael. The storm was to hit in the night which made me incredibly nervous. We already had a few bad leaks, so we prepared as much as we could by putting out plastic and extra buckets, just in case something bad happened during the storm.
Meanwhile, Matt was checking downstairs and discovering all the water that was pouring into our shop from the upstairs. The night that followed was one of the most aweful and most torturous times of my life. We called for back up just to help try to get things under control. My parents, sweet neighbors, and Tara and Phillip ran to our aid, bringing tarps, kiddie pools and head lamps. They helped hang tarps to try to direct the water into trash cans and kiddie pools. For over an hour they helped empty buckets, mop up water and try to gain some sort of control over the elements before the storm hit its peak. To these people I will be forever grateful, and I know there are many others that would have helped, had it not been too dangerous to leave home.
As the storm worsened Matt and I sent everyone home, except my sweet Dad that insisted on staying with us. He manned the downstairs trying to move buckets and save merchandise. Matt and I manned the upstairs trying bale water as fast as we could. The short version of the story is, we baled water for eight hours. The power went out at 10 so we baled in the dark. We tried so hard but the water was relentless and we quickly started to lose the battle. I have never felt so helpless in all of my life. Around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., Mom, Tara and Phillip came back to help us and I have never been so relieved and overjoyed to see three people. The six of us worked until 3:00 am, or a little after, just trying to empty buckets enough to be able to leave. Over the next two days we spent countless hours cleaning, dumping, drying, calling repair men and insurance agents. When it was all said and done, we lost a large portion of our roof and two upstairs windows. We were only without power at the building for about 18 hours, and about 24 hours at home.
I didn't want the blog to become so much about the hurricane, but is was such a traumatic experience for me, I have realized that it really affected me more that I thought it did at the time. Even though it was so hard, I do know that we were truly blessed throughout the whole situation. I know that what we had to deal with was nothing compared to the folks that lost entire homes, entire crops, and entire businesses. I know that the Lord was with us through the whole process because I know that my tired body could not have done what we did for so many hours without His strength. We had countless friends and neighbors show up over the coming days to help and check on us. Jorjanne's husband, Chris, brought a freezer truck from their farm to help us save most of our food supply for The Cafe. It really could have been so much worse, and I am truly thankful for the help and support of our community. This is such a perfect example of one of the joys of small town living!
We powered through Christmas with a spectacular Christmas Open House at our shop and two successful Christmas shows. Thanks to all of you that shopped and visited with us during the Christmas season. You don't know how much we needed your love and support this year!
Even in the midst, of trials and uncertainties, I always find comfort in knowing that the Lord is with me and He has written every page of my book already. I know that the trials in my life have only made me stronger and have given me more of the tools that I need to be able to help other people. I know that there will be an end to these trials and that there is always a mountain top after climbing out of a valley, even if you don't get to stay there long!
As we now roll into the end of January, I am determined to get out of my funk and leave 2018 behind me! The girls and I have taken the last few weeks to rest, catch up on some things that we got behind on, and try to get ready for a great new year! We have been working on some beautiful new products for the store and a fun blog schedule of great new tips and recipes. We are finalizing the dates and plans for our Spring travel schedule and we hope you will make plans to come see us while we are on the road! We are determined to make 2019 the best year yet for The Southern Mercantile and we hope you'll come along for the ride!
Lately, it seems, I can't stop thinking about house paint colors! I don't know if it is because I have been spending too much time on Pinterest or if I have been inspired by Tara's freshly painted house but I have been dreaming of a new color scheme for my little home.
I just painted my house about three years ago so I don't think I will be changing it right now, but a girl can dream! You might remember the color scheme for my little house from my Alder St. Renovation blogs. I do still love these colors but I will be honest, if I could afford it (or had the energy to do it myself) I would probably change my inside and outside colors more often. I just love fresh paint!
For those of you feeling a more neutral color pallet, here are my ideas for house, trim and doors. I loved the grey/green feel of "Gina's Eyes" by Valspar. I don't know who Gina is, but I can see why her eyes inspired this beautiful color! I found it very soothing and a color that one could love for a long time. I chose "Extra White" for the trim and "White Pistachio" for the doors. You could even do a flip flop if you were looking for a lighter house color and use the "White Pistachio" for the body of the house and use "Gina's Eyes" for the doors. Or choose a bolder door color to have a nice pop!
I have seen a few dark green homes go by on Pinterest and I think they look so quaint! I also love to mix different greens together so I chose "Hunt Club" for the body of the home and a light green, "Slow Green", for the doors. My go to off white colors for interior or exterior are "Greek Villa" and "Alabaster", both by Sherwin Williams. These two colors are almost exactly the same and I use them both a lot. I rarely want a bright white, I like a toned down, off white color.
Now for my bolder choice, "Peppercorn"! I love, love, love a dark grey house. I have even seen a few black houses, and yes, I am the crazy person that likes them! If done tastefully, a dark grey or black color can be very elegant and not spooky. I went back and forth between "Peppercon" and "Urbane Bronze" by Sherwin Williams. I almost painted my house "Urbane Bronze" and then I chickened out. If you are feeling bold, I say go for it! I chose to keep the trim and doors very simple. I love the idea of stained doors and/or stained shutters with this dark grey.
Here is one of the homes that I found to be inspiring on Pinterest. I love this bold, yet quaint, home and it is just the look I'm going for.
As you scroll down you can see that all of my choices are really in the same color families. I guess I am stuck on a grey and green kick! If you are thinking of trying any of these colors, here are a few important tips I have for you:
-Always remember that colors look very different in real life than they do on your computer screen.
-Get a sample to paint on the exterior of your home and live with it a little while. -See what the color looks like at different times of day and in different lights.
-When picking a stain color, remember that stain colors will change based on the kind of wood you are staining. You will want to try the color you pick in a small spot to make sure it will dry the color that you want.
If you are not feeling brave enough to change up the look of the whole house, just paint your doors. Painting your doors can make a huge difference in the look of your home. If you need a little door color inspiration, I've got a blog or that too! Just click here.
If you do take on a painting project, we would love to see your progress! You can always send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even as I am writing this, it is so hard to believe that I am reflecting on the past 15 years of my life. In some ways it has flown by, and in other ways 15 years seems so long ago! You have heard me say before that I was young and dumb when I started this adventure in retail so many years ago! I was fresh out of The University of Georgia with no clue what I wanted to do next. I always swore I was never moving back to my home town of Ocilla, GA, but it was home that came calling after graduation. So I made my way back, and here I sit, 15 years later, with a life I never could have dreamed up for myself!
In 2003, my dad had been retired for a couple of years and was running a floral and event business with his business partner, Lisa. They decided to take on a huge project in our downtown by renovating this century-old, Greek-revival style bank building.
The renovations began in the spring, and I moved home in the summer of 2003. The building was to house a market-style retail shop with a café in the downstairs and an event space upstairs. Dad and Lisa were going to need someone to run the shop while they focused on the floral business, so I agreed to come home for one year and help get things going.
That June-December of my life flew by! I worked part-time at another gift shop downtown to make a little money until our shop opened. On days I wasn’t working, I helped work on the building. As you look at all of my pictures, you might be imagining a very large work crew that got this place whipped into shape in such a short period of time, but you would be wrong! Dad and Lisa, with the help of a couple of paid workers, lots of family, and many sweet volunteers, moved mountains that summer. I have never done so much painting in my life!
The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry opened in August of 2003, and I was blown away by the excitement of the community. The first couple of weeks were so fun. People flocked in to see the building.
All of the older residents in town had so many great stories to share of what the building was when they were young - how they used to get their hair done upstairs at Lily Mae’s beauty shop, or how they dreaded having to climb those tall stairs to get their shots at the health department.
The shop was just beautiful and unlike any store we had ever had in our little town before. Lisa was, and is, a very talented designer. I soaked up so much from her in a short amount of time and definitely learned a lot about the design aspect of running a store from both her and my dad.
The grueling work didn’t end when we opened, as we had to move upstairs to finish renovations in time for a wedding in October! I was still painting trim the morning of the wedding while Dad and Lisa were doing all of the flowers!
That was a crazy weekend, but I guess at that point, we had all gotten used to the hustle. Fifteen years later, I can tell you that the hustle continues! There is always something to fix, paint, clean, move, or cry over in this old building. It has been a labor of love for sure!
I like to say I went to the school of hard knocks in the early days. With Dad and Lisa, you have to catch on fast! One wedding weekend they left me in the florist shop and said, “We need 15 table arrangements; we’ll be back after we decorate the church.” I guess I should have been honored that they had so much confidence in my abilities, but I was stressing! It seems I had soaked up a few tricks by watching my dad all those years because the arrangements turned out ok, but I was a nervous wreck! Another weekend, we were catering a party in a neighboring town. Dad and Lisa had done an out-of-town wedding and were traveling to be back just in time for the dinner that night. She had me, by myself, take pot roast for about 100 people to the venue with all of our cookers to cook the roasts, with her giving me instructions over the phone. I had never cooked a roast in my life!
In 2004 Lisa’s husband, Harvey, was diagnosed with cancer that would later take his life. This was a devastating diagnosis, and Lisa had to spend most of her time with him, traveling to treatments in Maryland and caring for him when he was sick. Around the same time, my grandfather in Colorado became ill so my Dad was away for 8 weeks. It was a stressful time for me to be pretty much alone at the shop so Dad and Lisa decided to sell the building and business. The short version of this part of the story is: in walked Matt Seale. He was a financial advisor from Atlanta and looking to invest in real estate. Little did he know he was about to get a building, a retail shop, a floral and event business, a café, and a wife!
Matt bought the building and the business in the fall of 2004, so he and I have been in it together almost the entire time. It was a trying first few years together, as we both had limited experience with events and running a small business. I think we did pretty well considering how young we were! We married quickly in August of 2007 because Matt was being sent to Iraq to serve with the Navy Reserve. It’s not the month I would have picked (the day we got married was, literally, the hottest day of the year) but it is pretty neat that our wedding anniversary always coincides with the anniversary of The Shoppes, since it is what brought us together in the first place. We spent our first year of marriage apart, and looking back, it was probably the hardest year of my life so far. Because of our quick wedding, I had to deal with the daily onslaught of nosy, southern women asking me when my baby was due. I was a newlywed with no husband, the owner of a struggling small business with no business partner, and the caretaker of an old building that seemed to just develop one new problem after the other. I don’t know what I would have done that year without my parents and a few really good friends. Needless to say, that is not a time in my life I like to look back and dwell on!
The years rocked on as we continued catering events, making prom and wedding flowers, and keeping the shop going. I have been involved in over 37 weddings and rehearsal suppers, countless smaller parties, and more funerals than I could ever count.
Vendors in the shop came and went. I have had over 40 vendors and 14 local consigners throughout the years. It was so nice to get through those first few years of turnover and settle in with some serious shop owners that help make The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry so great!
It has been so interesting to learn to deal with the specialties of running a business in a small, southern town. Over the years I have had more than one person call and ask me to look up someone else’s number for them in the phone book. I’ve had a customer ask me to order her something off the internet because she doesn’t have a computer. I have customers drop off gifts for people (that they didn’t buy here) because they know we’ll make sure they get passed on to the right person. I’ve had a customer give her bag of purchases to the mail man, as he walked in to deliver the mail, and ask him to deliver it to her mother at the nursing home (which he did, sweetly and without question). I could fill a book with stories about customer interaction - some funny and some not so funny! The Fourth and Cherry team has been blessed over the years to have mostly very sweet people enter our doors, and we thrive on providing as many services as possible. We still operate a traditional wedding registry where brides can register for fine china, flatware and other things needed to set up a home. We deliver to local showers, sell flatware by the piece (so there is something for everyone’s budget) and offer free gift wrap. We try to include the address of the giver on the back of every wedding card to make it a little easier for the bride to send her thank-you notes. We’ve made salads with croutons only, cut crusts off of bread, and kept lists on the café wall of how certain customers like certain meals. We are happy to help customers over the phone, happy to pick out Christmas gifts when you send over the list, happy to walk your packages to your car, let you borrow our phone, and even fill out your check for you. (Yes we still take local checks and no, we don’t have a stamp. If you don’t know what that means, you are definitely not from a small town.)
Over the years our little business has grown, evolved and changed. At some point we closed the florist, but I can’t remember what year. The shop and the café were becoming busier, and my Dad was retired and traveling a lot, so it just made sense to let that go. We have still continued to do weddings here and there because I just find it so hard to say no! The Café has slowly grown and now offers a much more extensive menu than we did in the beginning. The Fourth and Cherry Company now has three full-time employees in addition to seven part-time. I can’t pass up the chance to mention that Mrs. Carolyn has been with us the entire time we’ve been in business. She has long been a friend of my family and came to work in The Café after she retired from the school system. Her hours have shortened over the years and roles have changed, but she has been a steadfast and dependable friend to us over the last 15 years. She has tried to “retire” at least twice, but we are always thrilled when she decides she wants to come back! She tells me she is going to retire for good when she is 80, so I’ll keep you posted on that! And one other fun fact, Mrs. Carolyn came to Lily Mae’s beauty shop, located in the upstairs of our building, on her wedding day to get a perm! Just one example of how the history of our building is so intertwined with the history of our community and the lives of our customers.
In 2015 (deciding that we didn’t already have enough to do) we created The Southern Mercantile. I had always loved the name and even threw it in the hat when Dad and Lisa were choosing a name for the shop. I kept it in the back of my mind with the hopes of getting to use it one day. We are now growing and building this new brand, while running The Shoppes and Café at Fourth and Cherry, in an attempt to expand our market a little bit and share our love of the South. We are on a mission to preserve some of our more noble traditions by sharing our simple, southern lives with you. It has been so exciting to meet many of you at shows when we are traveling, and to hear from you through email, social media and the website. We have loved every minute of getting to connect with a whole new tribe!
We are excited to share with you that The Southern Mercantile is currently setting up a brick and mortar home inside The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry! The historic bank room of our building is in transition and will soon be our flagship Southern Mercantile location. The bank vault has already been set up as the Southern Merc office and we are slowly transforming the retail space into a beautiful shopping area. It’s just another way the Fourth and Cherry Company is growing and changing.
Love for our community is at the heart of everything we do. In 2011, Matt and I made a choice to stay here and to commit to working hard for Ocilla. We work hard to keep this building standing, keep this shop running, and keep our online presence thriving because we want to see our little town prosper. Our team has a deep desire to continue to love, encourage, support and work for the community we live in. We thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of our mission. Whether you have been a fan of The Shoppes for the last 15 years, or if you are a new fan of The Southern Mercantile, we want you to know that you are appreciated. Every purchase you make, every Facebook post you share, every kind comment you give, strengthens our mission as we move to be a force for good in our community.
If it seems this post has been more like the story of the last 15 years of my life rather than just the history of my business, it is because they are so connected, I could never attempt to separate them. This shop and what it means to our little town is all I know. It has been my everything. I am humbled when I think of all of the people that have loved and supported me personally over the last 15 years. Without your support and prayers (and checking for my horns from time to time), I would have succumbed to stress and discouragement many times. I can’t wrap this up without a very special Thank You to my parents! You are such an example of selfless love, always there to help, no matter what the problem is. Water, termites, absent employees, plumbing problems, leaky roofs, holiday baking; nothing keeps you from running to my aid!
15 years of perspective has helped me to see that time and time again, the Lord has provided just what we need, when we need it. I know He will do the same for the next 15!
I've been making flower crowns for years. Most of my practice came from our wedding business, for all of the sweet little flower girls. You won't be surprised by the fact that my Dad, Terry, taught me how to make these beautiful creations. For the last year I have been making flower crowns and head pieces out of silk flowers to sell in our online store and in our Etsy shop. It has been such a joy to send these pieces all over the country (and even Australia) to be used for weddings, graduation pictures, and even a Halloween costume! Last summer I got to make a very special head piece for our sweet Katelyn to wear on her wedding day!
I realized that some of you crafty Southern Merc followers might be interested in making your own flower crowns for your wedding or for special photos so I decided to share my crown making tips with you.
I started with a floral bush (several different kinds of flowers and greenery all on one stem) but you can start with whatever kinds of flowers you like.
If you prefer a more floral look you can gather whatever stems suit your fancy.
You will need a piece or two of wire, wire snips, and floral tape. For a full flower crown, it takes two pieces of wire, for a head piece, just one. For a head piece, just cut your wire to the size of the piece that you want. Your fist step will be to dismantle your stems. Even if you are using single stems and not a mixed bunch like this one, you will still need to trim each one shorter and separate the leaves from the flowers. I also go ahead and group all of my like pieces together in little piles.
To get started, I wrap my wires together with the floral tape, totally covering them. I then fold each end around my finger to create a loop, and tape it to itself. This will be where you attach your ribbon at the end.
You are going to work from one end to the next, attaching small pieces of greenery and flowers, taping as you go. If you have never worked with floral tape, you will want to practice first on an extra piece of wire. This tape has to be pulled and stretched a little as you work or it won't stick to itself. I usually start with greenery. I choose something spriggy that will lay down over my loop and hide it.
You can see in this picture how I start to layer up the different pieces.
I start to develop a little pattern with my greenery so the crown turns out even. I don't worry as much about evenly spacing the flowers, or in this case succulents.
I only had three succulents to work with so I chose to put two and on side and one on the other. I didn't put one in the middle because it was sticking out a little funny.
Just keep working at it.
When I get to the end, I sometimes end up with an awkward spot that is hard to tape so I break out the hot glue gun. Just choose a pretty piece to finish it off and glue it to the crown, tucking the stem under the other greenery and flowers.
Lastly, you'll add your ribbon. I just tie it in a small, tight knot. I leave the tails long so they can be adjusted. Better to trim after you have fixed your hair then to have ribbons that are too short!
I hope this inspires you to try this yourself! If your first one is ugly, don't be discouraged. You just have to give your hands some practice with the tape and figure out what flowers and greenery work best for the crown you are making.
If you are not up for the challenge but would love to have a flower crown or head piece at your wedding or in family photos, don't worry, we've got you covered! You can check out a few of these beauties that we have listed in the store!
We all love the idea of keeping little pot plants around the house and on the porch, especially this time of year. Many folks have trouble keeping their little green beauties alive and become discouraged. Succulents are truly the easiest little plants to grow, whether or not you have a green thumb! Find a spot where they get enough light, don't over water, and you'll have happy little campers! They basically like to be ignored, which is perfect for me. My Dad and I have had pretty good luck over the last year with our succulent collections so I thought I would have him share some tips with you on keeping your succulents happy and rooting all the babies you will grow!
This is my Dad, affectionately known around town as Mr. Crain. He taught elementary school for 27 years, is super creative, and happens to have a very green thumb. He can grow anything! I have tried to pick up tips from him over the years and, even though my little yard is looking pretty good, I am nowhere near his master gardener status! He's also a pretty funny guy, so funny that he has his own hashtag you can follow on Instagram!
Your first step in starting a succulent collection is, of course, purchasing your first succulent! Once your little succulent is home and happy, it will hopefully start to grow! If it is not growing, it is probably not getting enough light. I haven't had much luck with inside plants so my succulents live on my side porch where they get a good amount of afternoon sun. Tara's succulents are thriving in a bright laundry room window. You may have to try them in a couple different spots but you will know when they are happy because they will grow fast! Remember, it is very important to not over water your succulents so let them dry out before watering them. You will really only need to water them once a week and when you do, don't drown them!
When your succulents start growing it will be time to start trimming them. Your mother plant will start growing little babies around it or start shooting them off of its stem. Don't worry that you will be hurting your plant. Trimming your succulents from time to time makes them grow even more!
You'll want to save all of your cuttings because you can root anything you trim off of a succulent, even just one petal. When you cut your succulents it is good to let them sit out a few days before putting them in dirt. The ends will dry out a little and they might even go ahead and sprout roots!
Dad likes to start our cuttings out in little peat pots. This just makes it easier to keep all of your little babies together so you can tend to them like a little nursery before potting them in larger containers. You can even plant your cuttings in larger pots, leaving them in the peat pots, as they will disintegrate, but we like to re-use ours. If you don't have peat pots you can just go ahead and plant your cuttings in a regular pot. The potting soil you use is also an important element. Dad uses a mixture of Black Kow, potting soil, and garden humus (compost).
After filling your peat pots with your soil mixture, just stick your cuttings or petals in the dirt. Water them and leave them. You will want to water them a few times a week as they are getting started. Let them sit in the peat pots several weeks before transplanting them to other pots, to give them time to root.
When it's time to move your little jewels to larger containers, you will need: more of your soil mixture, small rocks and pebbles, and your favorite interesting containers. In addition to your favorite ceramic pots, get creative and repurpose vintage containers, cups and dishes into vessels for your succulents. We think they look super cute planted in anything! If you choose a container that does not drain, you will need to put small rocks in the bottom so that the water can drain inside the pot. (If your container has a drain hole, you can skip this step.)
Next you will cover your rocks with your potting soil mixture. The size of your container will determine how much soil you need to add. If your container is small you won't need much. The soil you transfer from the peat pot will help to fill it up. Lastly you remove your cuttings from the peat pots, making sure you bring new roots and growth with you, and place them in your chosen container.
Don't be afraid to mix different varieties all in one container. This will add interest and each variety will show different characteristics as they grow. When they start to get too big you can always re-pot again!
We like to top our little pots off with small pebbles. This helps keep your soil packed down and makes it look a little more finished and special.
Dad and I hope these tips have been helpful and that you feel empowered to start your own succulent family! Once you have them going you can have them growing all over the house! If you want to use them in a room that doesn't get great light, just leave them in there for a week or two and then put them back outside. They also make beautiful and thoughtful gifts for special friends and relatives.
If you need a cute new pot we've got your covered! Check out these new items in our store. Happy potting y'all!
Most everyone enjoys the beauty of having fresh flowers in the home, but few of us actually keep them around on a regular basis. While picking up a beautifully crafted flower arrangement from your local florist on a weekly basis would support a local small business and be easiest, it might not fit into your weekly budget or your busy schedule! All of us buy groceries and most grocery stores sell fresh flowers. If you find yourself drooling over the flowers in the grocery store as you push your cart to the produce section, then this blog is for you! Pick out your favorite mix and put them in your cart because you can turn those awkward grocery store bundles into a beautiful bouquet like this in just a few quick steps!
Many people make the mistake of bringing flowers home, removing the plastic, and dropping them straight in a vase (that may or may not be the right size) without any trimming or arranging. While the actual blooms are very pretty, the arrangement will look very awkward and well, like you bought them at the grocery store.
One of the problems with store bought bouquets is that they usually don't include much greenery. To me, greenery is the most import key to creating a lush and beautiful arrangement. To get started you will need: a bundle of store bought flowers, your favorite vase, clippers (or your kitchen shears if you don't have yard clippers), and greenery cut from your yard.
For this tutorial, I intentionally chose some random greenery from my yard. Don't stress over what you are cutting. If you think it looks pretty and has a nice shape, then use it! I am using stems of camellia, azalea, and an unidentified branch from a tree, just because I liked it!
*Note, if you live in an apartment with no access to fresh greens, there is still hope for you to liven up your arrangement! Look at the grocery, to see if they have any bundles that have greenery, of if they have greenery you can buy to add to your preferred bundle. If that is not an option, then choose a vase with a smaller neck, so that your flowers will not be too loose when arranging them.
Start your arrangement by adding your greenery to your vase. Before I start to put my stems in my vase, I trim the leaves off of the bottoms of the stems, so that no leaves will be plunged into the water. Clean stems help to keep your arrangement from getting murky water. I started with the azalea first and then added in the camellia. You will need to trim the stems so that the leaves start at the top of the vase. I use the side of the table or counter that I am working on, to help me decide how much to trim off of the stem.
Spin your vase as you fill in so that you can green the arrangement evenly on all sides. I saved my shorter, unidentified pieces of greenery to fill any holes at the end.
Next, separate all of the main flowers from the mix, leaving the filler flowers aside. This bundle had lilies, mini hydrangeas and roses.
As with the greenery, you will need to remove the leaves from the bottoms of the stems, so that there are no leaves in your water.
I like to start with my boldest flowers first and then add in smaller ones. The lilies aren't open yet but when they do open, they will be big and bright. I started with a taller stem in the middle, and then added one a little shorter on each side. Again, using the side of the table to help me decide how much to cut off of my stem.
Next I will add the mini hydrangeas. I don't want any of these to be quite as tall as my tallest lily. I add one to the center of the arrangement and then the other three, spread evenly around the sides.
Next, the roses. I have a nice little spot in the middle so I add one in right beside the tallest lily. Then add in the others, evenly around the sides.
You can start to see a pattern here. Build each layer, starting with the center, working out around the sides of the arrangement.
Next I will add the "filler" flowers. These little daisies will be just what this arrangement needs to brighten it and add interest. Daisies often have flowers that grow too low down the stem, so don't feel bad when you have to remove a few of their dainty blooms. I added my first stem to the center and then worked around the sides.
I wanted to show a picture of my "trash" pile so you would know that I did have to remove quite a bit of foliage and low growing blooms from the stems. I don't want you to be afraid that you are trimming too much!
Lastly, I used the unidentified greenery to fill in little holes around the bottom of the arrangement, to make it look nice and full.
And ta-da! Just like that you have turned your awkward grocery store flowers into a colorful masterpiece!
If you decide to try your hand at this at home, we'd love to see your finished product! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram so we can see your handy work. I hope you've found this helpful, and that you feel empowered to go forth and arrange flowers without fear or hesitation!
Fresh salsa really is so simple and easy to make, there is no reason to be intimidated and no reason you can't enjoy this treat all summer long! I will confess that I love to eat at a restaurant in Atlanta called Taqueria Del Sol. It is a small chain, and there are several in North Georgia and Tennessee, but we always go to the one in the West Side Provisions District because I just love, love, love this part of Atlanta! Taqueria Del Sol has the best homemade salsa. They offer three varieties on a little trio plate and Matt and I usually make quick work of it! Many years ago, I scoured the internet for recipes similar to their salsas. It was so long ago, I can't remember where I found what I ended up with! My copy was hand written on a sheet of computer paper, with notes of alterations I had made. I didn't know until doing a little research for this blog that Eddie Hernandez, co-owner of the restaurant, now has a cookbook! I'll have to be hinting around to Matt that I want one for Christmas!
For Fresh Tomato Salsa you will need:
1/4 bunch of cilantro
2 Tbsp. spoons yellow onion (I usually like a little extra onion)
**Unless I am having a party, I usually half the recipe because it makes a lot!
If you want to punch up the flavor a little bit, you can try roasting your tomatoes and jalapeños for a Roasted Salsa. For the roasted salsa you will need:
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/4 of a medium sized yellow onion
**Again, I usually make a half recipe. It doesn't make quite as much as the fresh tomato salsa but it still makes a lot!
In no time you have two delicious, homemade salsas that are sure to please any guests! I think they are best served on the patio with good friends and good tequila! Haha!
If you try these recipes at home, I'd love to hear from you and know what you think! Be sure to check out the store for cute kitchen accessories and serving pieces to bright up your summer kitchen. From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
Check out our Kitchen category for cute new aprons and
coordinating dish towels!
I was born with an artist’s heart. I have doodled since I was old enough to hold a crayon and have had a longstanding love affair with color and pattern. Numbers don’t stand a chance at sticking in my brain, but I can always remember what color someone’s outfit was or how their living room was decorated. Thankfully I was raised in a home where there was an endless supply of crayons, magic markers and paper!
I come by it honestly. My Dad is the most talented and creative person I know. He can draw anything, paint anything, build anything, cook anything … I could go on and on.
His sister (our beloved Aunt Janet) is the same way and they got it from their mother, my Grammy. Grammy did not live in a world where the arts were supported and encouraged, but if she had, I am sure she would have excelled in whatever medium she chose. She poured her creative energy into cooking and sewing. I am told she could cook anything, though I was too young to remember eating at her table. She made beautiful quilts, knit slippers and made me a whole trunk full of doll clothes to go with a doll she gave me for Christmas. My family has many a treasure we hang on to because “Grammy made it.”
Creative genes run strong through my Mom’s family as well. My Great Aunt Neva was an amazing painter. She was a high school art teacher and excelled at modern / abstract art. Trips to her house for Thanksgiving were always a thrill. A coffee table full of colored pencils and crayons always awaited my brother and me. Her house was a wonderland filled with her paintings, collections and many cats! When I was in college and finally feeling confident in my own artistic abilities I offered her a trade, one of my pieces for one of her paintings. I was thrilled that she agreed and I still cherish the painting I scored from the swap!
I have counted myself very lucky to have been raised in an environment where my creativity was encouraged. It could easily have been opposite, growing up in this small, southern town, as unfortunately, artistic abilities are not always seen as special and worthwhile. A childhood neighbor, Barry, was always up to some creative project with my dad. Their most memorable projects were murals painted on the walls of the elementary school. Another neighbor (and my Fairy Godmother), Sharon, always told me that she wanted a set of sheets printed out of one of my patterns! In high school I was starving for creative instruction as there wasn’t much offered through the school system at that time. Thankfully, our friend and elementary school art teacher, Mary Ann Cox began teaching art lessons in her home and my brother and I were able to learn from her once a week and soak up all that she had to give creatively. We were able to learn and try different techniques and mediums. Honestly, I would have never been prepared for art school if it hadn’t been for her!
Off to the University of Georgia I went and found myself in the middle of a creative’s paradise at the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Art School at UGA was a perfect fit for me, having only minimal instruction before college. I was able to learn and grow in my talents with the aid of many kind and helpful professors. It took me a little while to fully break “out of my box” as some would say but when I finally became comfortable and confident in my talents I really soared and couldn’t soak it up fast enough! Art school was an amazing experience, filled with good instruction but enough freedom to “find myself” creatively. I will forever cherish the years I spent at Lamar Dodd and all the creative energy and excitement it brought to my life. There were too many wonderful people at UGA to name them all but Glen Kaufman and Ed Lambert were my creative champions that pushed me to excel more than I ever thought possible in my work.
Every senior art student has to present their own gallery show in order to graduate. I feel like my senior show was one of the great triumphs of my life. I worked fervently on it for a year and half, carefully crafting each mixed media piece and pouring my soul into the story I was telling. My opening reception was a night to remember, filled with family, friends, professors, high school teachers … it truly was a night to remember and a perfect graduation ceremony of sorts! I could go on and on, naming people that have helped shape and encourage me creatively.
And then life happened! Upon moving home, I quickly became immersed in learning how to run a business. I poured everything I had into making this shop work, learning how to constantly be a better leader for my team, and a better wife and business partner to my husband. I let myself slip away from the art world, what little grasp I had on it. I stopped sketching and drawing, stopped dreaming in prints and patterns. I quickly gave up on the dream of setting up a real working studio in the upstairs of my old building with screening equipment and my very own paper beater and press. I let all of my skills become so rusty, I barely remember any of my instruction from art school!
Over the years I have channeled my creativity into producing works of art of a different nature, in over-the-top store and window displays, fabulous events, with every detail tended to, and dabbled in graphic design for myself and a few local customers. With the help of a good friend, I even managed to teach myself photo shop! (thank you Lindsey!)
My dreams these days are of new ways to display my goods, sets for my pop up shops, window displays and Christmas themes. Don’t get me wrong, this has all been very fulfilling for me. I love owning a shop. I could never imagine a job I would love more than getting to create beautiful spaces every day. You all are probably tired of hearing about how much I love my community and the journey I have been on to become a more compassionate and caring person. So please don’t think I am whining or complaining of “lives lost”. I am right where I am supposed to be, and I know that.
I am now fifteen years past college days (yes, I am that old) and feeling a bit lost. I am so focused these days on social media, marketing, to-do lists, bills, building repairs and working on my house. I feel like I have hidden away a part of myself that I just haven’t had time for. I have found myself longing for a sketch book and some pastels! I have decided to make it a goal for the year to get back to my creative roots. I am going to start making myself sketch again and work on this creative muscle that is so out of shape! You will notice a theme as we journey through the spring and summer of art and creativity. Through blogs and soon to come new videos we will all be sharing more of our talents with you. I am both excited and scared to death to jump back in to this world I have been so far away from for so long. I assure you I am not planning on producing any masterpieces anytime soon! But it will feel so good to pour a little of my soul back onto that paper!
I will be sure to keep you all posted on the progress of my journey and I’ll share some of my “practice” works with you. The good and the bad! If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “I used to love to paint,” or “I used to love to try new recipes,” then I would like to encourage you to go on this journey with me and get back to giving yourself a creative outlet, whatever that may be. Gardening, cross stitching, quilting, drawing, anything creative that brings you joy. We’d love to hear what you are working on this spring so send us an email or post it on our facebook page. Let’s get creative together!
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