Family Vacation {Art & Soul}

We were so excited to find that fellow Seminole, Chef Art Smith, has a restaurant at The Liason, where we stayed during our DC vacation. It is called Art & Soul, and it was fantastic!

Our first night there, my best friend Tanya and her husband Michael, who are newly stationed in the area, met us for dinner.

I had not seen her in over a year, so I was thrilled to get to spend quality time all together.

While we waited on them to arrive, we had cocktails and the kids actually ordered their entrees at the waitress’ suggestion. Brilliant idea. We were all tired, and it helped the kids relax to have their food in front of them.

Once they arrived, Aunt Tanya and Uncle Michael were the center of our attention. We had so much fun. Mason adores his Aunt Tanya.

And Miss Julia claimed her man!

I love long, relaxing dinners. The restaurant’s ambiance was perfect, and we all enjoyed our meals. It was also nice getting to walk a short distance to the elevators afterwards, without having to worry about travel.

If you are in the DC-area and looking for a great restaurant, make sure you check out Art & Soul.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Originally posted on Sweet Tea & Bourbon:

Ben's Chili Bowl - Washington, DC - Photo by Mike Bonfanti

As soon as we booked our flight to DC I started looking for places to eat. At the top of my list was the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl.  During our first four days in the city we did not get anywhere near the restaurant, and  I was worried I would miss out on a delicious half-smoke.  Thankfully thing fell in line on the afternoon of our departure, and we made the trip from the National Mall to the diner on the air conditioned yellow line.

Ben’s is across the street from the U-Street Metro stop in an eye catching red and white painted building.  The restaurant opened in 1958 and proudly declares itself a Washington landmark.  We entered the door and were greeted by a line of people that stretched down from the cash register.  I took a place in line while Becky and the kids scouted for a table.

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Family Vacation 2014 {Part 1}

Mason has been asking to fly for a long time, though it’s not mine nor Mike’s favorite thing to do. However, one of our family resolutions for the year was to travel more, so we decided to plan a family trip far enough to hop on a plane. When my best friend told me that she and her husband would be stationed in Washington, DC this summer, I knew it was the perfect destination. The flights from Tallahassee were easy and inexpensive, and I knew we all would enjoy the sights.

We left Tallahassee at 6 am (Mike booked the flights… I will not be doing that again), so we were all groggy. Still, the kids were fantastic and were not nervous at all. They both loved being in the air! We traveled as light as possible and did not take a stroller but, honestly, I wish we would have so we would have had it for Jules in the city.

As soon as we arrived at our hotel, The Liason, we immediately set out to see sights. We purposely chose this area, because we wanted to be near the Capitol and Mall. It was perfect— but the walking quickly became too much for the kids, even Mason. I learned a lot about traveling with little ones this go around.

We saw a ton that afternoon, though. Our first stop was The Capitol.



Mike, our fearless leader, then took us on a stroll of the Mall. The kids were troopers, though we were all exhausted by the time we decided to have a late lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. We had been up since 3 am.

After a delicious meal, we headed over to the White House. The kids wanted to see “where that bad guy lives,” though we had to explain that we can vote for a Republican replacement soon. We were not able to book a tour, sadly, but it was nice to see it in person and share the experience with the babies. President Obama was giving a speech while we were there, and I hoped to catch a glimpse of him, so we hung out for a bit and met a sweet girl from New Hampshire who kept us entertained.



In the end, we were thrilled to meet British reporter Neil Munro from The Daily Caller, as he was leaving the White House press conference. He was hysterical, and he and Mike shared tales of life in London.


Download This {Accuweather MinuteCast}

New York’s Fashion Week is in full force, and I am loving all of the photos I’m seeing. I am also loving an outstanding new feature on one of my favorite apps, Accuweather.

(Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for AccuWeather/AP Images)

The feature is called MinuteCast, and it has already come in quite handy here in North Florida, where thunderstorms pop up almost instantaneously this time of year. It’s Easy to use and Free! Download the AccuWeather app today on your iPhone, Android, Microsoft or Amazon mobile phone and click “Get MinuteCast”. MinuteCast is also available at from your computer or mobile phone.

Today is game day for our home team, the defending National Champions, Florida State Seminoles. We take our school spirit very seriously–“Party like it’s Saturday, dress like it’s Sunday”–and eye-catching and classy game day fashion is a must.

Before heading out for a little pre-game shopping this morning, Miss Julia and I consulted Accuweather MinuteCast and chose our cowgirl boots to fend off any puddles we might come across in historic downtown Thomasville, Georgia. These paired perfectly with our gold sun dresses and pearls. Go Noles!

This photo was taken in one of our favorite boutiques on Broad, Brooke & Nicole. They were hosting a Matilda Jane trunk show, and we stocked up for Fall.

By the way, Elle has my favorite Fashion Week coverage. I was looking through their list of “Models to Watch” and came across Noel.

{Photo: ELLE Magazine}
Does she not look like my Miss Julia!? I think we are missing out on some opportunities for my little one. Contract anyone?



My cousin Kelly and Mason at the unveiling of the Jaguars’ new video boards. There was a soccer game with DC United and Fulham, and then there was a concert by Carrie Underwood.

Mason LOVED the soccer game before the concert. He like Carrie Underwood; but he made his Daddy leave when she played “the Meme song.” He associates “See You Again” with Mom’s death.

A German Folk Song

Mason just loves Aunt Anita. He only sees her once or twice a year, but he really takes to her, which is a big deal, since he’s so reserved.

Aunt Anita Cheshire is married to my Uncle Kinsey, my Mom’s brother (and only surviving sibling). She is from Germany. They met and married while my uncle was stationed there while serving in the military.

I just love this video of her teaching Mason a German folk song. He loves learning about other cultures, languages and flags, so this was right up his alley.

My cousin Ingrid says the song is called, “Hop, Hop, Hop” and is translated as follows:

It means, “Hop, hop, hop, Horsey run faster, Over sticks and over stones, But don’t break your leg.”

Bryant Family Reunion 2014

The Bryant family reunion is just not the same without my Mom. This year, for some reason, I was particularly missing my Granny and Aunt Bertia, too, probably because I spent more time as a child in White Springs with them than anyone else.

Aunt Willa Mae has been in the hospital and nursing home, so she wasn’t able to come. We actually saw her right before she was released, when I was at my Daddy’s July 4th. She looked fantastic. Still, without any of her family at the reunion, it felt lonely.

It was great to see Uncle Kinsey and Aunt Anita, who has bounced back well from cancer. They brought Ingrid and her wife with them and also their granddaughters. I can never get over how much Uncle Kinsey looks like my Granddaddy. Of course, I also see where I get my ruddy pink complexion.


It was also wonderful to see my Great Uncle James and Aunt Retha Mae. They were driven there by their daughter Judy and her husband. Of course, Kelly and Carol were there, too, with my Uncle Jack.



The best past of this year’s reunion was seeing my distance cousin, Chad Bryant and his wife, Sallie. Sallie and Chad both graduated high school with me. Chad and I were friends in 9th grade when he first moved to Hilliard. He escorted me for Homecoming, and we got to talking about his last name. We soon figured out that we are related. My Granny and his dad were first cousins. I had not seen either one of then for a while, so it was fun catching up!


We can’t forget Miss Julia. She loves meeting her “fam-il-lee” and is the social butterfly at these gatherings.


She’s also a shoe-in for the next “Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair” at the Stephen Foster Memorial.