Miss Julia Meets Her Match

Miss Julia and I recently enjoyed a ladies’ lunch with my former co-worker, Iris.

Iris is one of the most magnificent creatures ever made. Truly. Words cannot describe how vibrant and wonderful she is, and her personality is as huge as, well, Miss Julia’s.

Mind you, despite living in Florida for decades, Iris is still a native New Yorker in spirit. She is brash and sassy, and she is Jewish.

Miss Julia was unsure of her at first. However, after carefully observing her for a few minutes from across the table, she decided she was someone she needed to know better.

She also decided that Iris needed to know Jesus. I was stunned as Miss Julia calmly walked over to Iris, pointed at her chest, and told her that Jesus lives in our hearts. Iris, of course, thought this was hilarious and very Baptist, but Miss Julia did not back down from her Christian message. In the end, these two bonded, and I realized they really are two-of-a-kind.


Spending time with the two of them together was one of the best afternoons I have had in a long time, even if Iris did not convert.

Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens {Summer Bucket List}

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens was not on our list; however it was extremely fun. On our way back from my hometown, we detoured through Jacksonville for a stop. I am ashamed to say that this was my first visit to the museum, and I am glad that we made the time. Plus, it was Mike’s idea. No nagging from me, and it was free!

We arrived only two hours before closing, but it was packed. The kids were very well-behaved but were not that enthused. At 5 and 4, they were a little young to appreciate what they were being exposed to; yet I firmly believe you have to start early. I wish I had been given the opportunity to learn more about art as a child. They did love taking a paint set into the beautiful gardens and creating their own masterpieces, however. What a wonderful experience for them.



On the day we visited, the museum was featuring a photographic collection from the Civil Rights Movement that was very touching. I enjoyed learning more about the images, some of which I have used in my classroom.

Mason loved the Ancient Egyptian pieces with the hieroglyphs, and Mike enjoyed the portraits done by the Dutch masters of the 1600s. Although I am most drawn to images from the Regency Period that remind me of my beloved Jane Austen, my favorite work at the Cummer Museum was by Norman Rockwell (Second Holiday, 1939). I was thrilled to see an original. Miss Julia was not a “fancy” art enthusiast at all and preferred roaming the garden paths along the St. Johns River. That is, until it started storming.

We actually bought a museum membership, which gives us access to two other museums in Tallahassee. I hope that over the next year we can return several times to the Cummer, as well as visit the ones nearby. Maybe more than family outings, these can be dates instead.


Spending the Night at Granddaddy’s {Summer Bucket List}

We spent July 4th in my home town, celebrating with our family friends, the Nelsons. Afterwards, we got to have a sleepover at Granddaddy’s house. He was on the road, as usual, but my Uncle Mike was there. It was wonderful spending time with him and letting the kids get to know him.

He’s so cute. He does lawn work with his buddy Jay, and he saved a Black Widow spider in a pickle jar. He wanted to show it to the kids so that they would know never to get near one.

He does not have the patience that he had when I was a kid. I could tell that Mason and Miss Julia were rattling his nerves. However, he regaled us all with stories and was as sweet-spirited as ever. He seemed particularly fond of Jules. He kept saying how blessed we are and how gorgeous she is, which made me proud. He does not have kids and is my Daddy’s twin, so they are the closest thing to grandkids he will ever have.


After breakfast and a trip out to the river, Uncle Mike took us uptown to Seldomridge’s Garage so that we could see their version of Mater. Mason loves this character, so he was as thrilled as he could be to see a real-life version right up the road from Grandddaddy’s house.

Time with Uncle Mike was well-spent. Simple, yet wonderful, memories were made, and we all had a very good day.

A Late-Night Brain Dump

I am lying here, sore and exhausted, up way past my bedtime, and an overwhelming sense of sadness just hit me. I only have three weeks left of Summer break, and one of those is filled with training that I am not thrilled about attending. My vacation has been cut short by two weeks thanks to so-called professional development. Such is the life of a teacher.

I think I am terrified. Time is passing way too quickly now that I am a mommy. When I go back to work, Mason starts kindergarten. He will commute in with me to attend the best school in the city. But, if I had it my way, our house would sell— it’s on the market, for whatever that’s worth– and we would live so close to a school that we could walk to it, immersed in its community. That’s the way I grew up, and I want that for him and Miss Julia.

The truth is, my job allows me this wonderful opportunity to send him to such a great school. For that, I am grateful. However, because I am tied to his school, I am also tied to my job. I would be completely dishonest if I did not admit that sometimes I feel stifled. My legal brain needs to be utilized more.

Yet, it’s not a more intellectually challenging job I seek, though I am ambitious and competitive by nature. I am, instead, mourning the time I have not spent with my children at home. I have blinked and my babies and toddlers have turned into children before my very eyes. I feel like I missed so much focusing on my job and then the death of my Mom.

If I had it to do over again, and I do not, I would have stayed at home. Feminism, independence, and student loans be damned. I would have driven myself mad tending to my little ones, and then later focused on my career.

For now, though, I will adjust my attitude, be grateful for my job and my kids’ educational opportunities, and cry myself to sleep.

After all, in the famous last words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.

But please pray that our house sells.

Happy Tomato Courtyard Cafe & BBQ


From our anniversary weekend #ameliaisland #Florida

Originally posted on Sweet Tea & Bourbon:


The passage of time does weird things to the mind.  When I was a kid old people would tell me time speeds up as you age. My response was to look at them and think y’all are crazy.  On our drive to Fernandina Beach, FL to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary I took a moment to reevaluate my stance. Ten years? It felt like just yesterday we celebrated our wedding day and I watched the most beautiful bride, my wife to be, walk down the aisle at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

I can be quite the romantic and as we crossed the inter-coastal water I held Becky’s hand, looked into her eyes, and asked, “What do you want for lunch?” We decided to see what we could discover downtown parked in the front of a realtor’s office. Strolling up Centre Street a sign for the Happy Tomato Courtyard Café & BBQ caught our eye and…

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From our anniversary weekend #ameliaisland #Florida

Originally posted on Sweet Tea & Bourbon:

Salt - Fernandina Beach, FL - Photo by Mike Bonfanti

To properly celebrate our tenth anniversary we dressed to the nines and dined at Salt.  The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the swanky Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.  Upon providing our name to the hostess we were immediately seated at an intimate table with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Our waiter appeared and warmly greeted us and gave a brief overview of our upcoming dining experience.  With our drink orders placed Becky and I looked over the two menus set before us on pale orange glass plates. Rather than ordering an appetizer, an entree, and ultimately dessert the chef request all be placed at once so proper spacing could occur.

Salt - Fernandina Beach, FL - Photo by Mike Bonfanti

I appreciated this, and while sipping a glass of champagne we considered our choices.  Becky chose to begin with the Key West Pink Prawns while I ordered the Labelle Farm foie gras.  These were to be followed by pappadelle pasta and a…

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From our anniversary weekend #ameliaisland #Florida

Originally posted on Sweet Tea & Bourbon:

España - Fernandina Beach, FL - Photo by Mike Bonfanti

Our second day on Amelia Island was spent relaxing at the hotel and being pampered in the spa.  Following cocktails in the lobby, we decided to visit downtown Fernandina Beach for dinner.  While driving around searching for an open parking spot we passed España.  The restaurant is located at 22 S. 4th Street and was on our informal list of places we wanted to dine.  We circled the one way streets leading from Centre Street until a spot opened.  The walk to the restaurant was a short one, and I was excited to see what was inside the  bright orange and yellow ivy covered restaurant.

We arrived outside España a few minutes before 5 p.m. and waited for the restaurant to open its door.  We had read getting a table during the weekend can be difficult, but hoped the early dining time would make it workable.

España - Fernandina Beach, FL - Photo by Mike Bonfanti

Our fears about not finding an open table on a busy Saturday evening…

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