What I did on Christmas break

December 30, 2015


Leslie Anne Tarabella

After wrapping the homemade gifts, making a gingerbread village from scratch, caroling to the elderly and whipping up dinner for twelve, I paused to adjust the lights on the tree, because darlin’, we know how important it is for everything to be perfect!

Leslie Anne TarabellaHahaha! The truth is,in the name of “simplify,” this year, I cut every corner I could and had actually just thrown a pizza in the oven and told the teens to fend for themselves, then turned to my husband and said, “quick, take a picture of the back of my dress so I can show Mother and Daddy!” Then, hubby whisked me off to a magical Christmas party where we danced all night. This handsome man even shopped for and wrapped most of the gifts this year!  The lesson here? Don’t ever underestimate the power of sequins.

Dr. Karyn Tunks, Leslie Anne TarabellaEarlier in the week, my fantastic friends and I met for a 2015 holiday lunch at the beautiful Grand Hotel in Point Clear. Karyn, myself, Kim and Debbie enjoyed the festive decorations.

Lois ManuelI popped in to The Fairhope Artist Gallery (owned by Gigi Hackford, whose adorable cottage I wrote about HERE) and found these beautiful earrings made by one of my sweet readers, Lois Manuel.

Lois Manuel , Fairhope Artist GalleryI purchased a pair for my Mother for Christmas, and liked them so much, I went back and bought another pair for myself (Santa told me to do it). They are sparkly and very dainty. Good qualities in jewelry – and ladies.

Fairhope Artist GalleryThe other thing I couldn’t resist at the gallery were these tiny handmade pots. They can hold rings, a pinch of salt at the table, a tiny flower arrangement . . . the possibilities are endless. I bought four that all had a blue and white theme. And yes, the sign is correct . . . only $3 each!!!

Leslie Anne Tarabella

Back to the Grand Hotel for brunch with the family. One boy got dressed that morning and discovered he had outgrown all his dress pants (since the week before), the other had outgrown his blazer, so we hit the after Christmas sales to load up on more clothes. Can their feet get any bigger? (Don’t answer that).

And by the way, shopping with boys is no fun. They only want to buy what they need and leave. No browsing or be-bopping through the sales. Just get it and go. Boo!

Blueberry French ToastI made a scrumptious blueberry french toast casserole for Christmas brunch. It turned out soooo very good! (the photo is before it was baked). The original recipe used chunks of bread instead of slices and also used blackberries. Find the original Southern Living recipe HERE.

Leslie Anne TarabellaOne of my favorite gifts I received for Christmas was having my Mitford map framed. Santa used Lyon’s Share Gallery where they were able to get every crease out from where it had been folded. It’s autographed by none other than the awesome Jan Karon. I’ll hang it over my desk for inspiration!

Jan Karon, Leslie Anne Tarabella

Another sweet gift with a Jan Karon/Mitford theme was this wonderful book. Patches of Godlight, which appears to be written in longhand – as if the entries were actually written by the main character, Father Tim himself. Inspirational thoughts are scribbled on page after page, like you’ve just picked up a private notebook.

I first learned of this book from Kelly over at Talk of the House who is also a huge fan of Jan Karon. Great recommendation!

Leslie Anne TarabellaI decided to use it as a doodle-book myself and highlight my favorite entries with colored pencils. I am a rule -follower, so I feel totally wild and naughty writing in a book. Woo-hoo! What adventures can the upcoming year hold for such a rebel?

Rum Cake, Leslie Anne TarabellaI baked a ton of little butter-rum cakes that were moist and delicious. I’ll have to share the recipe with you later. Too lazy tired to get the cookbook out now and besides, the sequins are so heavy it’s hard to move.

Rum Cake, Leslie Anne Tarabella

I bagged the cakes up and gave them to friends near and far. It was a very merry Christmas, and now I’ll take a few more days off to celebrate the upcoming New Years celebration, send the big kid back to college and make plans for a few surprising changes on the blog!!! 

Hope you have a fun and exciting, sequined-filled New Year’s Celebration with a heap of Hoppin’ John on your plate!


Click HERE to see my Hoppin’ John Salad recipe! 

Leave a Reply

  1. I love how you wrapped up those cakes. They look so lovely and that casserole looks scrumptious! Can’t wait to find out what the surprising changes are in the coming year. Happy new year to you and the family.

    1. Thanks Lorraine and Happy New Year to you too! Hope you are enjoying your time off and we missed you at the lunch!

  2. Well you’ve had a busy and looks like wonderful Christmas Leslie Anne. Enjoyed all the photos and the yummy food. Oh, that dress!!!! It’s Gorgeous not to mention the very lovely lady wearing it. You look like a beautiful Christmas present!
    Wishing you and your family a blessed and Happy New Year…………

    1. Thank you Emily. It was a wonderful party and a great, relaxing Christmas. Of course I’ll wear the dress to the Piggly Wiggly every week. I mean, why waste a perfectly good dress?

      Happy 2016 to you!

    1. If my husband wouldn’t have framed the Mitford print for me, it would have never been done. He knows just what I like!

      Happy New Year to you as well! Eat lots of black eyed peas!

  3. You look gorgeous. !!!
    Love the cakes too.
    You are such a tease with the “big news.” Can’t wait to see what you are up to. I am not good at waiting.

    1. Oh, it’s more of a warning than a tease! I’m working on it now and I’ve made a mess of things. I’ll be lucky if my blog doesn’t disappear completely! Thanks for the nice words, and happy 2016!

  4. Another great post, Leslie Anne. You looked maaaaavelous in your dress! Love the back and you wear it well. I could never wear it due to the fact my boobs are bigger on the back than the front. Love your Mitford map – Jan Karon is the best. Thanks for the tip on the book – I know just who to buy it for. Have a fab 2016 and keep writing.

    1. Katie . . . I’m in stitches every time I read your comments! After I stop laughing I’ll wish you a happy new year!
      Thanks cutie!

    1. When Jan Karon visited Fairhope this past year, she gave the maps to anyone who bought a book, but only autographed two for the top two fans who traveled the greatest distance to attend the event. Since I hosted and got to meet Jan backstage, at the very end of the evening, her assistant ran up to me and said, “This is for you” and handed me the map. I was so excited! Working for one short evening with Jan was the highlight of my year! You can read about the event here: https://leslieannetarabella.com/2015/09/meeting-jan-karon.html/
      Happy New Year to you!

  5. You look fabulous in sequins and THAT dress!! Oohlala! After Christmas sale this year I found a mini bundt pan to make six cakes. I tried and scored on baking a rum cake this year. New holdiay tradition for sure. Happy New Year!

    1. That’s exactly what I used, a mini bundt pan. I also had a large full-sized version and a medium size too! I always think of the scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the woman didn’t now what a bundt cake was and kept saying, “Butt cake? Butt cake? What is the hole for?”

      Hope you have a wonderful and blessed 2016!

  6. Wonderful overview of your Holiday Season. (But now I’m hungry and today is supposed to be an “eat clean” day.) I so enjoy how you frame each event of season in a positive, sparkly light. It reminds me of a favorite line from the Desperate Housewives TV show. When speaking about her annual letter to family and friends, Bree Van de Kamp says, “It’s Christmas…no one want to hear the truth!” You always remind us to take the very best and put a spotlight on it. Happy New Year! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for your readers.

    1. Oh, but the rum cakes were made with all natural ingredients, so I’m sure they’d fit the clean eating plan! Gotta love Bree’s philosophy on everything! Muffins make everything better!

  7. I approve of the sequins and all the other holiday outfits…you look amazing and so does everything else. The little rum cakes are adorable in the individual bags.

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