I’ve lived in the South for most of my life, and over the years, I’ve developed my own arsenal of things that are just quintessentially Southern. Sure, fried chicken, country music, and confederate flags can be found near and far in the southland, but I think there is a lot more to the South than those stereotypes. I see things like hospitality, story-telling, and affectionate ways of speaking to others. I hear real country music–like that of Blind Willie McTell and Muddy Waters, that can at times be so full of sorrow and that at others can make you want to grab your sweetheart and dance all night long. I am enamored with the South’s love affair with food–the kind that has led to years of secret family recipes, Sunday night feasts, and every kind of pie you could ever dream of.  At its worst, the South is close-minded and judgmental to a fault, but at its best, the South has a slow and comforting pace and strangers who treat you like family.

My favorite Southern tradition however, is far more tangible: porches. Big, wrap around porches, with reading nooks and spaces to entertain on. Porches that act like an extension of the living room and the kitchen, where you can start your morning with breakfast and a light breeze and end your day with a big cup of tea on a swing, with crickets chirping while you watch lightning bugs in the yard. Its possible that I’ve over-romanticized porches, but I truly believe a porch is an essential component of a house. (which makes me wonder how I will ever reconcile my desire to live in a big city while owning a home with a giant porch. oh reality.)

I adore the idea of french doors in your kitchen that open onto a porch for eating, but I also love those giant porch bed swings. I can just see myself reading there all afternoon long (with some sweet tea or lemonade, if we’re going to keep on with the Southern Theme)-it looks like pure bliss.

One of my good friends, who clearly knows me very well,  got me a book entitled Porch Parties for a birthday a few years ago. Its a guide for how to entertain on your porch, and it has advice for everything from place settings, food, decorations, and all the other things one should know when throwing porch bashes. I love the book and I long for the day when I can put it to its full use–for now, its just being used for its abundance of cocktail recipes. The one we made on my birthday is known as a Gumby Slumber, and its the perfect summer drink-especially if you’re dealing with 100+ degree weather like we are here.

Gumby Slumber (from Porch Parties by Denise Gee)

For one drink you will need:

1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice

1 1/2 ounces orange juice

1 1/2 ounces spiced rum

1 1/2 ounces coconut flavored or white rum

combine everything into an ice-filled cocktail shaker–shake well, pour into a highball glass, and garnish with some pineapple if you’re feeling fancy.

click through each photo for the source


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