Pretty earrings and family time

July 11, 2017


First of all, thanks to all of you who sent me a note that you’ve been missing me, (K.H.!!) but no . . . I’m not trapped under something heavy. I’ve just taken a little break from the computer. After frantically working on the book, I needed to unwind a bit. I’ll have another new story up later this week that gives you all the reasons why monograms are wildly popular in the South. (I know, you can’t wait, can you?).

Until then, let me tell you about these fun earrings I won from my friend Hope from the blog Crafty Hope. We met several years ago at a blogger’s meeting, and I was instantly amazed at how creative and talented she is — even her handwriting is beautiful!  Working in multi-media, Hope has recently gravitated to jewelry making. She committed to make 100 pairs of earrings in 100 days, which is a huge goal, but she’s been working away, even when she travels. Hope held a contest for her readers, and I — who never wins anything, won!!! Aren’t these earrings beautiful? The buttons are so quirky, yet traditional too. The pearls of course thrill me, because they are a modern twist on the traditional pearls I love so much. Click HERE to see Hope’s blog, And thank you so much Hope!


Other than wearing new earrings, I’ve been eating a lot of great Southern food. These photos are from my Harrison family reunion held a few weeks ago in the Oak Grove community near Darlington, FL. For those of you familiar with DeFuniak Springs, which is north of Destin, you start there, then drive north until you almost get to the Alabama state line, and once you lose cell phone reception and see cows, you’re there.

I brought a veggie platter, which helped balance all the good fried things. We really are a healthy family who grows a lot of our own vegetables, but for a family reunion, you have to have some creamy casseroles, or everyone will be grumpy.

Oh, how I love these beautiful deviled eggs.


We also had our choice of several different recipes of chicken and dumplings.


I’m pretty sure this was store-bought chicken, but please note how we transferred it to plates. We’re a classy bunch when it comes to things like that. Our mothers raised us right. No store-bought containers on the table, even if it’s a picnic. Ham, pork chops, BBQ pork, casseroles-a-plenty, greens, fresh picked corn and two tables of desserts. Ahhh. It makes the 99° weather almost tolerable.


If this video works, you’ll see what we do for entertainment. We usually have between 75-100 family members at the reunion (this was the 76th year we’ve met) and most are musically talented beyond belief. (listen to the harmonies!) We didn’t go into the church where they have a beautiful grand piano, but this year stayed in the church hall and sang a cappella. “No, Never Alone” was my great-granddaddy’s favorite hymn and someone was telling us how he would stop plowing in the field, and sit under a tree and sing this song. I found that to be very funny because he had 11 sons and 2 daughters, so, “No, Never Alone” was the perfect hymn for him!

Joseph left for the airport on this bus with our church youth group to do mission work with the homeless in San Fransisco. I told him if he didn’t give me a hug goodbye, I’d get on the bus to collect it. So . . . onto the bus I went. Sweet teens that I’ve known since they were babies said, “I’ll give you a hug Mrs. Tarabella!” So finally guilty boy got up and gave his mom a sweet, big hug. I think it’s so important that our somewhat sheltered teens in Fairhope see other parts of the country that aren’t all flowers, jumping fish and twinkling stars.

And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know poor Lois Lane had to spend several days at the Vet. I’ve never seen such a sick dog before (believe me, you don’t want to know the details). Happy to report, she’s all better now and back to her old Beagle ways.


In catching up on the past few weeks, I’d be remiss not to mention that the breath was kicked out of our entire community last week when a happy, active recent high school graduate was tragically killed in a jet ski accident. My son was a friend, and we are all in shock and I know the family would appreciate your prayers.


So . . . that’s what has been keeping me occupied lately. Still working on the book, and I’ll let you know all about it soon!


  • I just love Hope’s jewelry and have purchased several pairs of earrings and a super cool necklace, lucky you! I hoped you were out having fun after all the hard work you’ve been doing on your book, and a family reunion full of festive food sounds like a great way to unwind! Poor Lois Lane, I know you were beside yourself with worry… I will keep your son in my prayers, he is in for quite an adventure, SF is rough these days…I admire these teenagers volunteering and working during their vacation, kudos to him!

    • Thanks Jenna. I’d love to see the jewelry you picked out from Hope. She’s getting quite a following!

  • Poor Lois Lane! I do hope she’s over it completely now.

    I loved the singalong! 11 sons and 2 daughters? Wow, I bet you have lots of 3rd or 4th cousins from all those siblings.

    Your veggie platter is gorgeous, Leslie Anne, but do I spy potatoes au gratin on your plate? Yummy, haven’t made that in ages and I have the most wonderful recipe for it.

    • You can spy lots of delicious and not-so-nutricious things on my plate! I brought the veggies, but didn’t say I ate them! One casserole was so good an we couldn’t figure out what it was, so we decided they had taken sticks of butter, lined them up in the pan and sprinkled crushed corn flakes on top. It was delicious and I have to find out what it was!

  • Arlene Cocke says:

    Just have to say how surprised I was to read about Crafty Hope!
    I had the pleasure of meeting her and viewing her jewelry first hand. I worked the desk in the mall where she sold her one of a kind creations. I must say, the hard part was trying to choose, the piece I loved the most!, So, when Hope is a famous and well loved designer, I will have a few of her original creations!,
    Congrats, lucky winner!
    My best to both of you talented Ladies.
    Arlene Cocke

    • Isn’t Hope the sweetest thing? I understand what you mean about it being difficult to choose from all of her pieces. So glad you’re a fan!

  • Glad you took some time for yourself. That is a necessity sometimes. Love the food…oh my, it looks amazing and the hymn is perfect.

    • Thanks Sandy. I love learning the old hymns from family. I know most of them, but they hit me with a new one every now and then.

  • Leslie Anne, the earrings are beautiful and so glad you finally won something! The food looks so awesome! My son went on several mission trips as a teen and it does them a world of good to see beyond their sheltered life! Prayers for the family that lost their son in the jet ski accident!

    • Oh, thank you so much Pam. It’s been such an odd summer so far, and I feel discombobulated. Thanks for the prayers and kind words about the mission trip. You’re totally right about that.

  • I think I gained weight just looking at the food pictures here! Your veggie tray is beautiful. Are those pita chips on the left side?

    The fried chicken reminded me of a Sunday School picnic back when we were all young parents. One of our members took her tupperware container to KFC and had them fill it with their fried chicken which she then brought to the picnic. One of the husbands looked at his wife and asked her why she didn’t fry chicken like Susie did! We all got a good laugh out of that since the Susie had never fried a chicken in her life!

    Before I had teenagers I questioned the summer mission trips-the spending of so much money to go so far when we had needs right here in our city, you know? However I became a believer when our youngest went on her first summer mission trip to Washington D.C. She came home permanently changed. For the first time she appreciated the easy, wealthy (comparatively) life she had here with us. We gladly paid for every trip thereafter! Those trips unearthed a compassionate heart that beats strong still today and she’s in her thirties now.

    • Oh Leigh, you are so right on track with what I’m thinking on everything! The fried chicken story you shared is hilarious. I may have to use that in a story. The mission trip thing is exactly what I was thinking. San Fransisco? Really? But it’s a great contrast to our comfy home, so it was an eye opening experience for them. I’m sure D.C. was the same feel for your daughter. My Joseph sat at dinner last night and told us about a conversation he had with a homeless guy only a year older than him. Both parents have died, and he’s roaming aimlessly. It totally touched his heart in a way nothing else could. Thanks.

      Oh – and as far as the chips – yes, some are the Pita chips and others are bean chips!

  • Lucky you winning those precious earrings! I’m happy you finally won something:) Wow, family reunions are the one place (except for Sunday after church dinners) to get all the wonderful southern dishes we grew up with. Just looking at all theses casseroles and chicken and dumplings makes me hungry. Hope your son has a wonderful experience in SF. I’m so sorry for the loss of that young grad, a horrible loss.
    Glad to hear Lois Lane is much better. Hope you are enjoying your summer between writing all those pages.

    • Thanks Emily. I decided early on any diet or health restrictions would be paused for the family reunion. There are so many good cooks in our family and it’s a day of celebration! Thanks for the condolences on our friend. It’s such a wake-up call to cherish your children and entire family, because one second can change everything. Hope you are having a wonderful -non-hot summer!!! (ha- I know better!!).

  • Oh Leslie Anne, I’m so glad you liked the earrings I sent!! Thank you so much for mentioning me here. I really appreciate it! 🙂 That family reunion looks like it was delicious and a lot of fun. I know I would have chowed down on that veggie platter of yours for sure. And, I’ve said my prayers for a safe time for the kids on the mission trip. (I’ve got another friend whose son is also on it.) Wishing you all the best as you work on the book! I can’t wait to see it in print 😀

    • I’m thrilled with my big win! thanks for sharing your artistry with me! You are going to be a famous jewelry designer someday and I’ll have some of your original work!

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