I was truly blessed growing up to be a part of a family that traveled. Since my parents were both school teachers, we had plenty of time in the summer to pack up and hit the road! Keep in mind, my parents were school teachers, so these were not glamorous vacations full of ski trips, water parks, restaurants and hotels. Our road trips consisted of tent camping (thank you K.O.A.), dinners from the cooler (a.k.a. cooler crud) and finding all the cool stops along the way that were free or cheap! While our trips may have been a strain on the family budget, they were full of fun and happy memories (somehow you forget the stressful times when it is over). My brother and I were really lucky to have gotten to see so much of the United States of America!
Summer is certainly here, along with all the fruits and vegetables that we all love! There's just something about biting into fresh locally grown produce - whether it's from your own garden or a farmer's market - that just makes you want to slow down and enjoy life, and maybe live a bit more simply.
You may already have your favorite recipes for putting up fruits and vegetables, but if you don't, check out some of our best-loved blogs for ideas. Ms. Carolyn's Southern Sweet Pickles are a great way to use up those cucumbers, while Roxie's Fresh Summer Salsas will make good use of tomatoes. Or, if you need some relish to go with your peas, read Peas and Relish. If it's fruit you have, see Jams for Sale or It's Putting Up Time for jelly-making ideas.
Of course, this time of year, there's an abundance of such delicious, fresh from the farm produce to enjoy. Want to share that feeling with family and friends throughout the year? We have just what you need in our July Curated Collection!
Our Canning Kit is the perfect way to dress up the jars you're putting up this summer to give throughout the year as hostess gift, teacher gifts, or any other occasion to show a little thoughtfulness.
With tags, fabric circles, and string to tie them all together, it's easy to take your hard work and make it a cute gift!
This cute little wooden spoon is great to tie onto the jar, or keep it for yourself! And, for more jelly-making ideas, our Jams and Jellies in Less Than 30 Minutes cookbook is full of quick and easy recipes to make and share! Just in case you don't have time to whip up something yourself, we are also including a jar of our homemade jam!
So, if this month's collection looks like something you'd love to help savor the taste of summer, head on over to the store and order one today!
If there has been anything that I have experienced so far this summer, it is what it feels like to be hungry and hot! Now being 8 months pregnant, I have found myself in a current state of snacking, rather than eating large meals. While doing so, I have done my best to keep the snacks as healthy as possible. You know that's a hard task with the sweet tooth I have!
Here are a few favorite snacks that I thought any family would love--adults and kids alike! Great for hot summer days, or relaxing summer nights, make a few new memories in the kitchen (or backyard) this year!
Frozen Fruit Salad
This recipe was introduced to me by Mr. Terry, Roxie's dad! He brought in this delicious treat one day at lunch and I just fell in love with its refreshing flavor! This recipe can be made in individual servings or by the pan. Perfect for a summer dinner party or afternoon snack, you're going to love this Frozen Fruit Salad! Visit our Recipe Archive to find this recipe, along with other great recipes to try!
There is something magical about s'mores...or maybe it's just the campfire. Either way, I'll never turn them down! Making memories around a fire with friends and family is always fun. Whether you stick with the classic stack of graham crackers, hershey bars and roasted marshmallows, or you put a new spin on an old classic, you can't go wrong! (I found a delicious S'mores Bar recipe that is so fun, and easy to make.) My Nana always made a simple and yummy treat for us grandkids when we rustled up an appetite. She would lay out saltine crackers on a pan, smear a little peanut butter on each one, and top them with a few mini marshmallows--then pop them in the toaster oven until the marshmallows were perfectly toasted! It never failed, this simple treat would always make my night! Maybe the magic is actually in the marshmallows...
Homemade popsicles are also something we would make as kids, that seemed so fancy at the time! Even if it was something simple, like kool-aid, that my mom would pour in the molds, I felt like a summer princess eating my popsicle on the back steps. I'd savor every bite while the melted drops of juice stained the dirt. Now, there are endless possibilities for making your own pops. There are a million recipes ranging from using fresh fruit and yogurt (more healthy options) to fudge and ice-cream (a more indulgent choice). Whichever you choose, popsicles should be pressure-free, fun snacks! My personal favorite right now is a combination of homemade lemonade and fresh strawberries!
A simple trail mix is as classic as it gets when it comes to summer snacks. Whether your taking a week long road trip or a 30 minute grocery store run, a baggie of trail mix can save the day! Mix it up ahead of time for a quick snack on-the-go! Keep it as simple as you wish using cereals and pretzels, or shoot for a healthier option with dried fruits and nuts. Trail mix is a great way to get the kids involved in choosing a fun snack they'll love to munch on!
A slushie is another great way to sneak a little fruit into your daily diet, not to mention a quick way to cool down! I usually opt for a quick combination of frozen fruit, ice and a splash of juice when I'm on the run--but your options are once again endless! There is just something special about those tiny bits of chipped up ice that makes a simple drink all the more refreshing.
When it comes to summer nights, fresh popcorn is right up there on the list next to s'mores! Whether you make it over a campfire, or on the stove, this fresh and flavorful snack is always a winner! My roommate in college loved to make this quick and simple snack for us to have while we watched a movie or socialized. I just love all of the possibilities and flavor combinations--they're endless! Mary Claire's staple recipe was coconut oil, popcorn and salt. It is so light and such a guiltless snack when kept simple!
Be sure to check out our Southern Summer board on our Pinterest page for more great summer snack ideas! The possibilities are endless--so let loose and have a little fun with your food this summer!
Peach season is finally upon us, and we are taking advantage of it daily! We love this time of year, because not only is it our favorite fruit season here at The Southern Mercantile, but it is also our customer's favorite at The Cafe at Fourth and Cherry!
We love offering new seasonal specials and desserts to keep things interesting. Over the past few years, this Fresh Peach, Pecan and Grilled Chicken Salad has become a peach-season staple along with our Fresh Peach Cake and yummy Peach Beehives. All you have to do is take one look at it to know it is just screaming summer deliciousness!
Not only do we top this salad with fresh peaches, toasted pecans, craisins, red onion and feta cheese, but we also serve it with a fresh peach vinaigrette dressing that is to die for.
We love this recipe so much, we thought you might too! It would be perfect for your next summer dinner party. With fresh peaches and a homemade dressing, you're sure to impress! This recipe is always a crowd pleaser and it is super simple to make. We hope you'll decide to try it out and let us know what you think!
People always ask me what it’s like having a baby at my age or with such a big difference in my boys’ ages. Just to remind you, Chris and I are 40, Seth is 15, Caleb is 12, and Perry is 11 months. Chris says this year we’re learning how to drive and learning how to walk! Throw in navigating middle school, and life is a bit chaotic right now, to say the least!
The boys and their activities haven’t stopped (nor do we want them to), but now I’m also hauling Perry back and forth with us. He’s quite a trooper, enduring long car rides, or just multiple short ones. He seems to enjoy sitting through concerts and football games to hear his brothers play in the band. He especially loves riding in his little red wagon at tennis and soccer matches to see his brothers play, or at baseball games we’ve attended to support our high school team!
Having a baby at my age in our super busy family continues to be quite an adjustment for all of us. My brain is in a consistently foggy state. With so much more to keep up with, I’m constantly looking for something, usually a pacifier for Perry or a form for one of the big boys. I have had a hard time knowing who needs to be where and at what time. I am grateful that we all have the same calendar on our phones so that the boys and Chris can add to it, and I will know what’s going on (and vice versa)!
Not only is my brain having a hard time keeping up, so is my body! I’ve never been super fit or enjoyed exercise, but over the last few years, I had made a pretty good habit of going to the gym 2-3 times a week. Perry usually sleeps through the night now, but if I start thinking maybe I can get back in the habit of going to the gym early in the mornings, he will wake up at least once wanting a bottle in the middle of the night.
As a matter of fact, every time I start to think I have a handle on things, something always happens to throw off our schedule. Somebody gets sick, or Perry doesn’t sleep through the night, or Chris has an out of town trip, or I have to take my Daddy to the doctor. Wherever I go, I’m always late, which has always been a problem, but is even worse now; it just takes so much time and preparation to get out the door with a baby!
Throw in the normal worries and frustrations of any mother of a baby - Am I feeding him enough, or is he eating too much? Are we reading to him enough, or is the TV on too much? Does he get enough interaction with other kids, but what germs am I exposing him to when he's around other kids? - it’s enough to drive anybody crazy!
Strangely enough, in some ways my age is actually a benefit. Things that may have sent me into a tailspin when Seth and Caleb were little, now just make me laugh. I know that spinning the toilet paper off the roll, and pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets is just a phase. So many things I’ve learned to say, “This, too, shall pass.”
As crazy, hectic, and overwhelming as my life is right now, though, I just have to make myself stop and take a breath. Sometimes, I just sit and hold Perry when he's tired or sleeping and smell his hair and take in all that sweet baby smell. I kiss his soft cheeks and nose and just enjoy the time that I have with him. Unfortunately, I know that "this, too, shall pass." I remember when my big boys would fit in my lap, and I could do the same thing with them. Of course, every now and then, they’ll pile up in my lap too, and we laugh hysterically, but they just don’t smell the same.
I know how quickly this time is passing by. I only have three more years of having Seth at home, and only six more with Caleb. I’m not always good at it, but I really try to spend time with each of them individually, because I want them to feel loved and never left out. We also do some crazy things to try to build memories all together, like dressing up for Halloween or the Paulk Christmas party every year! I even managed to find matching pajamas for last Christmas, which Seth didn't think I could do!
Perry obviously takes up a lot of my time and energy right now, and sometimes I have to remind them that I did the same for them when they were his age. But, more than anything, I want all my boys to know how much they mean to me, and I want them to want to come back home to Mama when the time comes.
We are fresh off of a trip to Atlanta for Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta and boy, did we have fun! We got to stay with a good friend from home, visit with show friends that we only see once or twice a year, and we got to chat with so many of you! It was three days of excitement, creative inspiration and a touch of exhaustion! This has become a great show for us and a must-stop on the travel schedule for spring!
I was so pleased with this booth set up; it may have been my most favorite so far! I hope some of you caught my Instagram stories on set up day as I tried to give you the process from start to finish. It is always so amazing to me that we start with such a mess and end up with something so inviting! If you don't already follow us on Instagram, you can find us at @thesouthernmerc. The beautiful garden arbor that dad helped me build got to make another appearance and served as a lovely welcome to our space. The shelves were stocked with cute kitchen items, garden decor, and plenty of fun vintage finds!
My mom and I have such a good time junkin' and finding unique and fun vintage items. I love the personality and sense of nostalgia that vintage items give to your home and work space. Mixing old with new is such a great way to make a space feel warm and inviting. These vintage shows are so much fun for me, and also too tempting on my wallet! I have a hard time resisting the cool and unusual things the other vendors bring.
It is always a good day at work when you get to be with a good friend! My friend, Melissa, from Greener Grass Handmade and I love it when we can make our paths cross. We don't meet up for every show, but when we do, it is so much more fun!
As always, Matt and I had a great time meeting new people and getting to spread the Southern love of The Southern Mercantile! Thanks to all who signed up to receive our emails - we promise you will be happy you did! We are giving away one $50 gift certificate to one of our new subscribers, and that lucky winner is Jaime Watson! Be checking your inbox Jaime for your happy shopping coupon!
If you saw some things you liked in the pictures above, be sure to check out our online store. It is stocked with fun finds for your home and garden!
While we truly do enjoy our time on the road, it can be exhausting. Not only is the physical work so tiring, but the mental strain can be taxing. There is so much to think of and plan for when you are running a brick and mortar store, while traveling to promote your online business. The list of things to remember is endless, and you must always be friendly and helpful, even when you are tired! There is the constant mental battle of: Did I pack enough? Did I pack too much? Did I pack the right things? Am I making enough money? Is this worth it? It can all become very overwhelming! By the end of a travel season, I am usually feeling pretty exhausted and overwhelmed. On the last day of this show, I was feeling pretty defeated and worn out. I stepped outside, just to take a little break and regroup. I have been to this facility several times before, but never noticed the inscription on this bench that is placed at the front entrance.
I was moved to tears and had to take an extra minute to compose myself before going back in. It was a beautiful reminder to me that the Lord is with me every step of the way, ready and willing to give me all the strength I need if I will only ask. The prayer reads:
O GREAT SPIRIT Whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.
LET ME WALK IN BEAUTY, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
MAKE MY HANDS respect the things you have made & my ears sharp to hear your voice.
MAKE ME WISE so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
LET ME LEARN the lessons You have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I SEEK STRENGTH, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
MAKE ME ALWAYS READY to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
SO WHEN LIFE FADES, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.
I had never heard of Paul Eddy, but he must have been truly loved and respected to have received such a beautiful memorial. He founded the American Indian Festival, which was hosted at The Gwinnett County Fair Grounds and you can read a little more about him here.
This little moment outside the facility gave me just the boost I needed to pack up and make my way home with a renewed spirit. Now, I am busy unpacking and getting the shop put back together as we roll into the ease of summer in the south.
If you find yourself on the road this summer, we'd love for you to stop in for a visit! Visit our flagship store in Ocilla, have lunch in our Cafe, and ramble around our sweet little town. If you can't make it in person you can always keep up with us on the website! Join our email list to stay connected and keep up with new products and our travel schedule. We can't wait to get to know you!
This month's Curated Collection celebrates Summer in the South--and what better way to celebrate than with fresh veggies? This collection's theme is centered around the joy of Summer's harvest.
We have selected two kitchen towels that are sure to brighten up any kitchen. Soft and stylish, these towels will give a vintage feel to the most used room in the house!
The only true way to enjoy the bounty of Summer is to cook up those fresh vegetables for dinner! We have thrown in one of our classic southern recipes, printed on a Southern Mercantile recipe card, just waiting to be added to your collection.
If you haven't tried our Okra and Tomatoes recipe, you should! It is full of flavor and always a crowd pleaser. You don't have to purchase this collection to try it out for yourself, just head on over to our Recipe Archive to check it out! And if you are looking for a few other ways to enjoy your fresh okra this Summer, check out our blog, 5 Ways to Serve Okra!
Since you already know and love our blue enamelware pieces, we couldn't wait to introduce our new line of white enamel in this collection! We chose the ever-popular rectangle tray, but don't worry, the other pieces will be available online soon!
We hope this collection speaks to you, as it did us. We always love this time of year and the fresh variety that it brings. Make a point to shop your local farmers markets this Summer and find inspiration in all that is blooming!
While you're out and about, use the hashtag #SMfarmersmarketfinds so we can follow along! Tell us what you're cooking up, and let's celebrate summer together!
In case you hadn't heard, our Tara is expecting a baby! A sweet baby girl that is due to arrive in July. Y'all know we couldn't wait to host a baby shower and start spoiling that baby (and her Mama)!
I would like to point out that to we Southerners, a shower, whether it be for a baby, wedding, house warming, etc., is not just about the spoiling. Showers and parties are the perfect way to make someone feel loved and supported by the community they live in, or by the church family they have chose to be a part of. You've never felt so special until you sit and look around a room filled with the people you loved most, who have all gathered to take time out and celebrate you! The gifts are just an expression of love and support, as we honor the special times and the new chapters in life. (And... the gifts at Southern showers can be abundant and overwhelming!)
At The Southern Merc, we love a theme! The chalkboard in our Cafe dining room was already decorated with our favorite Oscar Wilde quote and we thought this was the perfect starting point for the party. Tara loves old books and the vintage feel so we kept things simple by using simple flower arrangements, stacked old books, and this fresh greenery garland.
All of the fresh greenery was cut from Mr. Crain's yard. The purple butterfly bush blooms were cut from Jorjanne's yard and the pink and white tulips were purchased from the grocery store. Mixing store bought flowers with things you grew yourself is a great way to keep the cost down and still have beautiful arrangements. For some tips on making your own arrangements with grocery store flowers, you can check out Roxie's tutorial! We tried hard to pick all of Tara's favorite foods and made sure that every detail would be a reflection of her sweet personality.
It is always a sweet and special idea to forgo the traditional "guest book" and choose something that will be special to the guest of honor. Perhaps a keepsake picture or special book that can be saved and cherished. For baby showers, you can make a sweet memory book like this one, or think about using a special children's book for guests to sign that can be added to the child's library. You may remember from Perry's baby shower, we used a precious book called "The Wonderful Things You Will Be".
For weddings or wedding showers, think about using a vintage poetry book, or something that would be special to the couple. For Roxie's wedding, she used a book of Van Gogh's artwork that had been a gift from one of Matt's trips to Italy. Tara and Phillip used a book of paintings of old churches in Georgia, and the church they were married in just happened to be included! The sky is the limit when being thoughtful and creative with the details.
We keep things pretty simple at our showers so after a time of eating and visiting, Tara started digging in to her presents! She was so blessed to receive so many beautiful and useful things.
Friends came from near and far, including two of Tara's college friends, which made the day extra special!
The Southern Merc and Fourth and Cherry crew had a blast celebrating our special girl and we can't wait to add baby Lila to our family of littles! Because of her mothers sweet spirit and ability to love others so deeply, Lila has already won our hearts!
The Southern Merc is full of helpful tips for parties and showers! Check out our archive to finds great ideas for your next wedding or baby shower!
Our shop is stocked with cute gift ideas for wedding and baby. Look around while you are here, we'll be glad to send a little something your way!
Last year, I shared with you all my worries about being pregnant again so long after my first two boys and at such “advanced maternal age” in my blog, Pregnancy Worries. I’m happy to finally announce that Perry Jacob Paulk made his appearance on June 12, 2018! I know it’s a bit late to make it an announcement, but we’ve had our hands full ever since he arrived!
I had been having contractions off and on since April, so my midwife really started encouraging me to back off at work. With my first two pregnancies, I actually went into labor prematurely, which meant my doctor’s office was keeping a close watch on me. By the end of May, my contractions were getting stronger and more regular. When I made it to June (which was my goal!) my Fourth and Cherry family allowed me to stay home on unofficial bedrest, until Perry was born. Nobody wanted me to go into labor in the kitchen making sandwiches and salads!
Let me just tell you, there is a big difference in having a baby when you're almost 40 compared to having them in your twenties! My delivery went as smoothly as possible, with lots of personal attention at our small local hospital. My nurse was quite in tune to me and noticed Perry’s heart rate dropping during my contractions. She notified my doctor, who quickly delivered Perry and discovered that he had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. It’s a common occurrence, but scary when it’s your baby! I’m so grateful for experienced medical professionals like those who took care of me and my baby!
We came home the next day, excited to get to know this little bundle! I have to say, adding a newborn’s schedule to our already busy and set routine was more difficult than I thought it would be. Fortunately, my Mama spent the better part of the next couple of weeks helping us all get acclimated to our new life. I’m so grateful for her, and honestly don’t know what I’d do without her! I’m also thankful it was summer break for our older boys, which meant we didn’t have to immediately start getting up early to get ready for school every day.
I stayed home with Perry, Caleb, and Seth throughout the summer, returning to work when the big boys went back to school. When Seth and Caleb were little, I was a stay-at-home mom, and even though I’m grateful to have had all that time with my boys, I didn’t feel like God was calling me to do the same this time. My Mama is retired now, so she keeps him three days a week for me to work at The Shoppes, and Perry just goes to the office at the farm with me on Thursdays when I work there. Again, I don’t know what I’d do without my Mama!
Perry is 11 months old now, crawling, pulling up on everything, and getting into every cabinet and drawer that doesn’t have a lock on it! He’s learning when he's not supposed to do or have something, so when he does, he just looks up and grins! I think my age and experience has helped me to be more patient, and I’m hoping that will continue as he grows. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely moments (maybe even days?) that I’m not sure I can handle another baby! That’s when I’m so, so grateful for my family and friends to be my support network. And, then he shoots me one of those adorable smiles that just melts my heart and makes me think that maybe I can.
The sweetest thing has been seeing my older boys learn to love and take care of their little brother. Watching them, I know that one day, some girl is going to look at Seth and another at Caleb, and think to herself, “He’s going to be an incredible Daddy one day!” because that’s what I think about each of them now, just like I did with their Daddy.
Perry has been such a blessing that none of us expected or even knew we needed! When I was pregnant and even after he was born, Chris and I would look at each other every so often and say, “We’re too old for this!” Lately, though, we just look at him and look at each other and say, “Isn’t he precious?” or “Look at that sweet baby!” I have always tried to enjoy each phase of my older boys’ lives, but there’s something about having a baby at my age that just makes each moment sweeter, knowing how fast time flies. Perry is a constant reminder that God’s plan is always better than my own.
We had such a good time hitting the road in April and visiting with friends, old and new, in both Perry, and Macon, Georgia. Our first stop was at the Georgia National Fair Grounds in Perry for Vintage Market Days of Central Georgia. Y'all know we love junkin so vintage shows are so fun for us! It is always too tempting to bring back more than we took!
Just to give you a reminder of the chaos of setup day, here is a little picture I snapped of our pile as we were beginning to set up. You can see my faithful helpers, Mr. Crain (Dad) and Aunt Janet busy stringing lights.
Just like that I just snap my fingers and poof! We end up with this! Just kidding. Many hours later we end up with this, but the time is totally worth it and I am always proud at the end!
This cute wheelbarrow and most of our wash tubs went to happy homes and I must say, I will miss them! This was such a happy little display.
The very next weekend we found ourselves headed back to the historic Hay House in Macon, Georgia. What a treat it is to spend the weekend under the ancient ginkgo trees on these beautiful grounds, and we always enjoy any time we can spend above the gnat line!
This was our set up for the garden market. Plenty of bright florals, flower pots, and other garden themed decor.
I had a good time showing off my new collection of hand painted bird nests and wood block prints. I am busy working on more so if you can't catch us on the road, you'll soon be able to snag one online.
I know all of you that entered to win a gift certificate have been anxiously awaiting to find out if you've won! We chose one from each show and the lucky winners are: Judy Etheridge and Janet Williams! Congrats ladies! Be checking your inbox for your special prize!
See anything you like in one of this week's photos? Be sure to check out our shop while you are here. We are stocked with great finds for home and garden!
You have one more chance to catch us on the road this spring! We'll be at Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta May 31 - June 2. After that, we are off the road until August, and remember, you can keep up with our travel schedule on our website. Feel free to visit us anytime at our flagship store in Ocilla, GA, we just love company!
What we're Pinning