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This last weekend Slate and I drove 7 hours north to Rangley Maine to witness one of my high school friends get married at her family’s beautiful lakeside home. I have written about my childhood friends before and anyone who has been through the trenches of high school and comes out the other side knows that the friends you make then are the friends you keep forever. I love these girls something serious and have come to love all the men in their lives too. When we’re together it feels like one big extended family. Although we are spread both near and far, all came to the great state of Maine to celebrate our dear friend as she wed her dear man.

And celebrate we did…it was the most beautiful three days, so thoughtfully prepared, and filled with so much love. Michelle and Eric’s generous hospitality was evident in every detail. From the welcome bon fire to the beautiful wedding day to the Sunday morning brunch (with the best french toast I’ve had in my life) we crammed that weekend full of as much fun as any of us could possibly stand. There was swimming in the chilly lake both day and night, hiking the trails to the top of the mountain, bon fires, blueberry pie, a lot of dancing, a drink (or two), surprise fireworks, toast after toast of celebration, love, and seasoned advice, tradition and faith, and of course a lot of laughter.

It felt like such an honor to have been there to witness the beginning of their life together and to have had a whole weekend with some of my most favorite people in the world.

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When we went on our road trip this summer we were lucky enough to visit with some friends we haven’t seen in years. You see, we’ve had more dear people come and go from our neck of the woods than I would like to recall. The only upside is that it makes road trips full of stops to small towns and big cities alike to share an evening with people we love, marveling at how our children have grown, sharing meals together, and often a drink or two. Because everyone needs a little alcohol at the end of an 8 hour drive.

Bourbon is the beverage of choice in the south, or at least amongst our friends. I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen adding more lemon juice, mint tea, seltzer for some fizz, and sugar on the rim for sweetness. We drank this cocktail with some of our oldest friends on a mountain in Georgia, gathered together on their front porch, shooting the breeze, and making up for lost time.

Georgia Bourbon Punch

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup of water
2 tea bags (we used 1 black tea bag and 1 mint tea bag, use whatever you fancy)
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 cup for glass rims

1 cup of bouron
1 1/2 cups orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
1/2 cup lemon juice plus a little extra for the glass rims (fresh squeezed is best)
5 cups of ice

Splash of seltzer
Mint sprigs to garnish

Boil 1 cup water for tea. Add the tea bags and let steep for several minutes. Add sugar to make a tea simple syrup.

Add bourbon, orange juice and lemon juice and refrigerate until needed. .

To serve: Prepare the glasses by pouring the extra lemon juice and about 1/2 cup of sugar into two separate shallow bowls. Dip the rim of the glass in the lemon juice and then dip it into the sugar. Pour the punch and ice into a blender and whirl away until frosty and perfect. Add a couple ice cubes to each glass, pour punch over, add a little seltzer, top with mint garnish, and you have yourself one delicious cocktail.