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! 

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