What happens when your husband decides to take a shortcut through the pasture.


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no pig smell here!


So thrilled to be a “Peach Pick” on Sweet Peach, a wonderfully inspirational blog devoted to all things Southern. Stylist Libbie Summers weighs in with her favorite gifts for the holidays.

Sweet Peach Blog Dec. 2014Among her fun and whimsical ideas – including a bird dog zipper tote and one very cool pink leather fringe cuff – Libbie adds our Farm Fresh candle. “This candle is simple – fresh and clean with a little gritty undertone. When I smell it burning, it reminds me of my grandmother Lula Mae’s farm in Missouri…minus the pig smell.” See the full list of Peach Picks here.

Sweet Peach Blog2

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A new chapter

Merlin22In 2009, our family embarked on a little adventure when we purchased 34 acres in rural Alabama to provide an escape from the pressures of work and city living as well as a retirement home for our horses. Since then, we’ve simply referred to it as “the farm” or jokingly “Our Green Acres” because we had absolutely no idea what we were doing – but knew we had to do it anyway.

We also struggled with what to name the place and thought on that for a long time. But nothing ever felt right or true. So we waited, figuring the land would eventually tell us. And on a beautiful but bittersweet day last spring it did, just after losing our beloved horse Merlin. Drawing from the land’s rich heritage and celebrating the memory of this incredible horse, we settled on the old Creek Indian word for horse – “Cerakko.” Horse farm…Merlin’s farm. The answer was right in front of us the entire time.

But beyond just naming the farm, we wanted to do something bigger. Something to say thank you to people we’ve met along our journey…friends who embraced these “city folk” and showed them the way. We wanted to pay tribute to the country sages, farmers, artists and tradesmen and use Cerakko Farm as a small gesture for doing so – by creating a small farm lifestyle brand that showcases the beauty of honest living, hard work and nature’s splendor. No matter where we all are…on airplanes, in big cities, back woods, or just sitting on the porch with folks we love…these days so many of us crave authentic experiences and things that remind us of our childhood, carefree days and simple living.

So welcome to The Cerakko Farm Project. We hope you’ll visit our site from time to time and see what custom products we’ll be featuring. And if you’re so inclined, please support our family of artists by purchasing something for yourself, your own family or a friend. Sales proceeds benefit community non-profits like The Red Barn Foundation in Leeds, Ala., which gives safe haven to rescue horses and provides equine therapy to disadvantaged or disabled children.

While we have day jobs just like you, we’ll try to keep the Mercantile stocked with interesting gifts for you to enjoy and share from established and emerging artists throughout the South. We plan to restock every quarter and eventually more often in the future. Availability will sometimes depend on the artists and their ability to offer more products (most of them have day jobs, too), so please be patient if we’re ever sold out.

And speaking of friends, this project would not be possible were it not for the faith and enthusiasm of those who believed in the vision and pushed us forward. Our most special thanks to Betsy Burts who drew the farm logo featuring Merlin, grazing peacefully on green acres during his retirement years. To Jessica Karp – she quickly grasped the concept and painstakingly built the website and general store. And to all the artists who jumped on board to create beautiful, limited edition products for the launch. We hope you’ll enjoy browsing their works and learning more about them and their passions.

Here’s to your own passions, happy things and joyful living!


Hoofnote: We decided to officially launch this venture on the 80th birthday of Sarah McKneally. Sarah owns Linden Hill Farm in Hartwell, Ga., and was Merlin’s caretaker for many years…long before he had a farm of his own. Happy Birthday, Sarah! We love you.

Cerakko3-4695Ufull copy

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our own giving tree

The old pear tree has been calling our names this fall…wondering, we think, why we continue to let it bend over, burdened with the weight of those big country pears. And now it’s mid October and we’ve hardly picked any, except for those we’ve given to friends for their annual canning jamborees. That old tree has become our friend. It was here long before us and will probably be here long after we’re gone – faithfully producing an abundant amount of fruit each year, so much so that the neighbors often speak fondly of it. Today, we couldn’t bear to look at those lingering, lonely pears any longer, hanging high up beyond our reach, so I went out and shook  the branches hard (being careful not to get beaned on the head in the process!). And then we sat in the kitchen and played around with this little recipe to honor our noble tree. Tomorrow morning we’re having coffee with “Doc Pope,” a professor emeritus at JSU and one of the first friends we made out here (ironically her youngest son was one of Adrian’s favorite teachers at Grady High School in Atlanta), and I’ll bring Margaret some of these breakfast treats. Then maybe we’ll stop by Patsy’s on the way home and drop a few off for her, too. And since we’re spreading delight from our “giving tree,” we thought it’d be nice to also share some with you – well, in a recipe at least. 🙂 Here’s our Friendship Pear Muffins.


Friendship Pear Muffins

What You’ll Need:

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon honey

1 small lowfat vanilla yogurt (6 oz)

1/4 cup lowfat milk

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups finely diced peeled pear

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

To Make:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put chopped almonds in food processor and grind until fine. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into large bowl. Add ground almonds, stir well and set aside. Mix together brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the turbinado sugar, canola oil, vanilla/almond extracts, honey, yogurt, milk and egg into small bowl. Add to flour mixture and fold in diced pear. (If batter is too dry, add a little more milk.) Spoon batter into paper muffin cups/muffin tin. Sprinkle tops lightly with remaining 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar.

Bake for 4-5 minutes at 425 degrees (this helps set the muffin tops), then reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 10-12 minutes, or until muffins spring back lightly to the touch. Remove muffins from tin immediately and continue cooling them on a counter or cooling rack. Enjoy – and be sure to share leftovers with friends and neighbors!

Makes 12-16 muffins

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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Two beautiful little songs to kick the week off right: “Coming Home to You” and “Red Light,” performed by Ellis with The October Boys on Prairie Home Companion’s Oct. 4 show.


To listen, click HERE, then on the name of the songs to the right.

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