Fall Gourd Decor

I didn't take a "before" picture of my gourd, so this is more a "during" and "after" photo example.

There is a gourd farm around here that Paul, the boys and I went to last fall. This was the grand-daddy of the gourds I bought and it's been sitting in the garage waiting for inspiration to strike!

A month or so ago the idea struck - monogram it and stick it on the porch by the front door.

I started out by painting the whole thing white. Then I duck taped off an "M" and painted it with the free paint Glidden sent out several months ago.

It's now sitting on our front porch on the spray painted chair.


A Tripod & An Abandoned Barber Shop

Judah Funnies - a collection

The other day Judah passed some gas and I said in a shocked voice "Judah, what was that?!"
Quick as a wink he said "I was shooting bad guys."
For the next two days every time he passed gas he informed me he was shooting bad guys.

Judah loves to chat to his stuffed animals once he is put in bed for the night. He tells them what he did during the day, tells them what their body parts are (and *ahem* wonders why certain body parts are missing), he sings them songs, he pretends they are bad guys and he shoots them or he pretends he is the bad guy and makes them shoot him.
The other evening he was talking with them and I said "Judah please be quiet."
I heard him tell his stuffed animals; "Oh no. Mommy said be quiet. Now hush."

Judah was in bed and he called out to me saying "OH NO MOMMY!! My (stuffed animal) pig just ate my bed!! MY BED IS ALL GONE!!"

Judah was eating a peanut butter sandwich and he said "Mommy, it's all gone. Can I have more peanut butter for my bread?"
He had licked all the peanut butter off his bread :)

Me, while eating something good: "Mmm, this is yummy."
Judah: "No mommy. 'M' says 'mmm'."


A Drive

Last week the Man said "On Monday (his day off) lets pack a lunch and the kiddos in the car and go on a picture taking adventure."

And so we did.

We spent 4 fantastic hours driving the back roads of Georgia and South Carolina capturing whatever captured my fancy.

It was delightful.

More pictures to come.


Promotion Dinner

The boys and I had a lot of fun planning Paul's promotion dinner celebration for Friday night. It was just for the four of us celebrating Paul's recent promotion to Staff Sergeant (E6) and it was a nice, laid back evening at home.

We started the evening with a game of "Staff Sergeant Daddy Says..."

Judah toasted his daddy's accomplishments with some tasty Apple Cider.

Judah and I made this centerpiece earlier in the week. He impressed me with his craftiness! Judah tore up the paper and attached it to the cardboard and then attached all the Army men with double sided tape. I added the sticker flag attached to a Popsicle stick stuck in a mound of Play-doh.

Some of the other table decorations.

Paul grilled steaks and pork chops for dinner. I'd marinated them in a coffee marinade and they were *amazing*!!

As a nod towards the Army I packaged our dinner in tinfoil and then placed them in these MRE-style bags. I designed and printed the labels on the computer and then attached the labels to brown lunch bags.

Congrats Babe for all the hard work you did to get to where you are!! xoxo

Linking with TASTY TUESDAY

A Basket of Goodies

A friend and her family came over for dinner last night and she brought this delightful basket of fall goodies she had made. The bread and cookies are delightful and are being enjoyed by all.
I was charmed by her beautiful fall presentation.

Thanks Elizabeth!


Walgreen Clearance

Our Walgreens has all their bags of whole bean and ground Starbucks coffee (and their chocolate bars!!) marked at 75% off. While their regular price is super high, this makes it only $2.50 for a 12 oz bag - the best price I have ever seen for Starbucks coffee.

I asked the cashier about it and she said that they are clearing them out of all Walgreen stores because they are either getting new packaging in or a new brand. She wasn't overly clear. But if you have a Walgreens near you run in and check it out!

They also had their sugar on clearance for .35 cents for 1lb. An excellent deal!


Through the Lens

Some things I have been looking at lately.


Fall Colors

I love fall.

The crisp evenings and beautiful falling leaves are two of the things I really miss about living up North.
They don't do fall in the South like they do in the North!

Last week before the boys and I left for the reunion Paul took us all out to eat at Cracker Barrel. They have their new fall menu out and it is so.so.so yummy!

I ordered their Grilled Chicken and Apple salad from their fall menu. I can't remember what it is actually called on the menu. It should be called Best-Salad-Ever-In-The-Whole-World.
It was that good.

Every mouthful I was telling Paul how amazing it was. I think he got tired of hearing about it. But I honestly don't think I have ever raved about a restaurant meal the way I raved about that salad.

The salad had some green stuff - not sure what they used. But that's not important - there was tons of the good stuff! There was chicken AND bacon. (And lots of both!) Mmm. There were apples, cranberries, candied pecans, blue cheese and this to-die for apple cider vinaigrette. It was amazing.

And it so beautifully said "Welcome to Fall."

Bean Dip

One of my first impressions upon moving down here nearly three years ago was that these Southern ladies could cook!! Of course, I got to experience first hand their marvelous cooking within days of moving down here as the ladies at the church started bringing us meals a couple times a week almost as soon as I got here.

I was amazed at their generosity and the Christ-like love they showed to me - literally a stranger to them!
Paul had moved down here one month before I did and when I did come down - 7 months pregnant and on bedrest - the ladies jumped right in to help out in any way they could.

The meals were amazing. Almost amazing enough to make me want to go back on bedrest right now. But as idyllic as bedrest may sound it isn't. There is very little resting done while on bedrest. But I digress.

Back to the meals. There were several chicken pot pie - all made from scratch. Meatball stew. Poppy seed chicken. My mouth is drooling just thinking about those meals.

And while I love.love.loved those meals one of my favorite recipes I collected from here is a dip recipe.

This is THE best dip recipe and Fritos corn chips are THE best accompaniment for this dip.


3 cans black eyed peas - rinsed and drained
3 cans shoepeg corn, drained
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 purple onion, chopped
1 small bottle Italian dressing (I use Wishbone)

Mix it all together and serve with Fritos.

*When I make this for just us I cut it in thirds. *

It is so simple and comes together so easily. I haven't made it in a little while, but I use to always keep the canned ingredients and bottle of dressing in my pantry for an easy-last minute snack.

NOTE: The first time I saw this dip being served I thought it looked gross. As have most of the people I have made this for. But everyone who has tasted this has loved it. The flavor is amazing!


Dear Daddy

Paul found out the beginning of this week that he was promoted - yay! We didn't get a chance to celebrate though as he had to leave with work for Florida for the week. He gets back on Friday, which has given me the opportunity to think up something special to do to celebrate the occasion. Both boys have been helping me prepare for it - including being great sports about me dressing them up for the pictures for Paul's invitation to dinner.

Do you know there is a huge lack of ideas for celebrating an Army promotion online?! I couldn't find anything useful when I googled it. I'll post about our celebration after the fact - can't ruin any of the surprises for Paul! :)


How Rich a Foundation

Wesley with my Grandpa's cousin (would that be my third cousin?!)

I have been trying to think of how to share about the family reunion in a way that will be interesting to those that aren't family.
I'm not sure that I've figured out how to do that.

My grandfathers cousin - Mert - has spent a lot of time researching our family history (along with many other family members contributing, including one who started it as a project as a Junior in High School 53 years ago!!) This weekend was rich in family history and stories. Complete with photographs, letters and books.

I was struck by what a rich spiritual background I have come from.

One relative - John Townsend (I believe he was a great, great, great, great grandfather)- wrote to Queen Victoria, concerned about her salvation, and she wrote him back saying it was because of his letter she came to Christ. There is a tract that has been written based on that story (which I am trying to get a copy of!)
John Townsend's wife, Caroline, is said to have prayed for her future children, grandchild and great children that they would come to know Christ as their Savior.
John Townsend was also good friends with George Muller.

The recorded history of the Dibble family starts in the early 1800's in Germany, where the family name was actually Diebel.

John Dibble

In 1858 John Diebel left Germany for America and arrived in New York in 1859. It was there that he changed his name to Dibble before serving in the Civil War.
At some point he built a farm, a settlement grew around the farm and the people wanted to name the town after John Dibble but he wouldn't let them
so it was called Derby instead.
That was my great, great, great grandfather.

My great, great grandfather, Merton, was a Millwright, farmer and store owner during his lifetime. He lived in New York and died in 1946.

Raymond and Julia

My great grandfather, Raymond, was married to Julia in 1921 and shortly after that they left for Nigeria, West Africa as missionaries. They were the only white people in the area. Raymond learned the local tribal language - Igala- just by trying to communicate with the locals and he made it a written language for the people. He made several of the tribal languages written languages and before his death he translated the Bible and several other books, including Pilgrims Progress into Igala.
Raymond spent his life in Nigeria, leaving only when his wife died (1927) and then during World War II when he was required to leave. (Raymond remarried in 1931.) During World War II he served as Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Transport Command.
While serving as a missionary in Nigeria Raymond died of a heart attack in 1967, he was buried there.Raymond's tombstone

In order: My great grandfather Raymond, my grandpa Spencer, my great great grandpa Merton

My grandpa is Spencer James Dibble, born in 1925 in Nigeria. He has spent most of his life in Nigeria as a missionary (and he and my grandma are still there.)
He enlisted in the Coast Guard in World War II in 1943 and received the Purple Heart after he was wounded in the back, February 26, 1943, in the Pacific. He took part in the invasion of Okinawa, April 1, 1945. He was a Machinist Mate, 3rd Class and a Gun Captain.

He married my grandma, Phyllis. I'm not sure what year that was. On their wedding night he slipped a necklace and matching bracelet underneath my grandma's pillow (at least that is how I remember the story going!) My grandma gave my mum the necklace and bracelet on her 16th birthday and my mum gave me the set on my 16th birthday. I don't wear it often but I absolutely love it and the history that is behind it!

Anyways, my grandparents had 4 children and raised them all in Nigeria and one of those 4 children was, obviously, my own momma!

My grandparents

So that is a very brief run down of the family history - so much more was covered at the reunion and there was a beautifully done Power Point presentation shown illustrating the narrative of the family tree.

It is amazing to me that my great, great, great, great grandma spent time praying for her future grandchildren - people she never met and yet she has so greatly influenced by her prayers and her example.

As a relative (I think second or third cousin...) said so well in a comment on Facebook yesterday:

"I am also aware that these were just as human as I, with the same potential to make a difference that I have. I pray that even if no one ever remembers my name, that I will live with the level of faith of my forefathers."

The mountains in Tennessee, near where the reunion was held.

Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God
Job 37:14

The Boys at 15 Months

When someone showed me this picture of Wesley it took me a moment to figure out which son it actually was! I dug up a picture of Judah at the same age and was surprised to see how much blonder Wesley is now than Judah was then.
But apart from that they resemble each other quite closely.


Our Weekend

The boys and I had a wonderful time at the reunion this weekend. It was my mum's side of the family (Dibble) and while none of my immediate family was there some of my cousins were and my grandfathers cousins and their families were there.

My grandfathers cousin had put together a slide show presentation, complete with diagrams and photographs, of the Dibble family history dating back to the 1800's. It was fascinating to see it and hear the stories that he had collected about the family members.

Click on the top picture for an album of the Family Reunion.

These are a couple of my favorites:

Wesley with his 'Grandpa Kurt' - the balloon animal man :)

Wesley, Judah and my cousins son, Daniel


Fall Colors

God's creation is simply stunning.

I took some pictures for some friends this week at the canal and after they left I spent some time there taking pictures of nature. That butterfly spent a good 5 minutes dancing in front of my camera and I was wishing so badly I had a macro lens!

The Littles and I are heading out of town for the weekend to a family reunion in Tennessee. I am *so* excited about it! Have a wonderful weekend.
I have my own laptop back and now everything feels right with the world.

And yes, for those that asked, it was a relatively new laptop (great memory!!) It was a year old but had an issue with the fan that caused it to overheat - and eventually it just crashed and I lost everything. (though most of it was backed up)


Sick Days

"Mommy I have in owie in my nose."

That was Judah's way of telling me he had a stuffed nose.
And then a sore throat.

Which he has shared with his brother and myself.

I hate when my babies are sick.


One Year Ago...

Exactly one year ago today this is where Paul was after his dirt bike accident.
I don't remember if I ever posted much about it, but the Doctor was amazed he lived through it.
I am still humbled and thankful.

And, despite what all the doctors thought, Paul has made almost a full recovery.
He has scars.
And a bit of stiffness in his wrist.
But he has gotten back almost his full range of motion in his wrist, which is incredible!


My Thoughts

Don't all cute cowboys chew sticks?!

And he looks like the spitting image of his brother to me.

And look at those cuuuuurls!! They're a comin'!

My laptop died on Saturday and I took it into the shop on Sunday. I am still waiting to hear what happened and if they can fix it. I'm hoping they can, but I think the hard drive crashed. I had everything backed up up to a few weeks ago, and almost all the images that weren't backed up are still on my memory card. I did have a few projects that will be lost forever if they can't recover everything, but I am thankful that I have almost everything backed up!!
It's a best case scenario in a worst case scenario :)



Judah and Wesley have both taken up dancing lately.
Judah begs for me to turn on the music and they both break out their dance moves - and when I pull out the camera they don't perform!! I hope some day to truly capture their dancing, but for now this will have to do.

And it gives you a glimpse of our living room too.


Swamp Juice

I am way more excited about this Swamp Juice than I should be! I saw it in this months issue of FAMILY FUN and thought the boys would get a kick out of it.

This is so simple to make.

I used:
- mini tapioca pearls (and followed the directions on the bag to cook them.)
- Pineapple juice
- Swedish Fish
- Gummy Worms

I put the tapioca in the bottom of the glass and along the outside of the glass.
Then using chop sticks I pushed the fish down into the tapioca against the glass, so that you could actually see the fish.
To finish it off I poured in the Pineapple juice and added a worm.

The boys loved it and I got some pictures of them drinking it, but my computer crashed and I am waiting to get it back, then I'll add the pictures of them with it :)

Check out Jen's blog for more Tasty Tuesday


How a Kiss Came To Be

I said "Wezzy, can you kiss your brother?"
Judah wasn't so sure about it and made some funny faces.
But Wesley was dead set on giving him a kiss.
And it made for a great series of pictures!


Cheeseburger Soup - update!!


We had this for dinner last night and it was delicious!
Wesley and Paul ate an enormous amount of it and Judah and I each had a serving - and there was nothing left for leftovers!!

So here is what I did:

Cook 1.5lbs of ground beef with a bunch of seasonings and Worcester sauce. The seasonings were all ones I normally add to hamburgers - salt, pepper, onion, garlic, Italian, dry mustard and I think that was it. You can't really go wrong with adding your favorite burger seasonings though :) Oh wait! I have "french fry seasoning" and I added that too. Not sure what all is in it as it's a premixed seasoning and I didn't read the label.

Once the ground beef was cooked I put it in the bottom of the crock pot and added milk and plain yogurt - when looking up how to make Cheeseburger Soup I saw that a few recipes said to use milk and sour cream - I didn't have sour cream so used yogurt.

I sprinkled in a few more seasonings. And then some raw onions.

Then I put a bag of frozen french fries on top - the fries weren't soaking in the liquid, they were resting on top of it on the meat - make sense? I think they'd of been nasty and soggy if the fries had been submerged in the liquid.

The fries I used were Battered Fries - they're a thicker cut, as you can see in the picture, and they were SO yummy!

I set the crock-pot on low and set the timer for 6 hours.

I dished it into bowls, layering deli-cut Muenster cheese and a scoop of the soup.
It would work just as well with thin cut Cheddar, but that was the only cheese I had on hand!

When I was about 11 years old one of my friends moms served Cheeseburger Soup for lunch one Sunday afternoon. It was amazing and even though I only ever had it once it has stood out in my mind for the past 13 years as being one of the best soups ever.

I decided today to make my own version of Cheeseburger Soup.

It is in the crockpot cooking right now and in about 6 hours I'll be able to tell you if it was a flop or success. I'm hoping for a success. But I totally winged it. And sometimes winging it doesn't end up tasting as good as it sounds in my head.

Like instead of using potatoes, which was in my friends mom's recipe, I used french fries. It sounds good, but I'm not sure how they'll do in a crockpot!
If it fails I'll have to write and ask my friend for her moms recipe - I'm just worried it won't be as good as I remember it being.


Photography Tips

I struggle with sharing any photography tips at all as I am still so much in the infant stage of photography - in fact one year ago I didn't own Photoshop or a DSLR. I have been teaching myself the ins and outs over the past ten months and still have SO much to learn!!

I have had several of you ask me for tips though, so I am going to see how well I can share the things I have learned over the next few weeks if the interest still remains.

Knowing that the average person doesn't own Photoshop or use any photo editing software I won't be sharing any editing tips - just plain and simple "how to take better pictures."
And the images included will be unedited, straight out of the camera shots.

Tip #1:

When taking a picture of your child(ren) be on an eye-to-eye level with them whenever possible.

There are times when changing the angle to slightly above or slightly below can add interest and
make for a better picture than if you were head on - for example this picture I took of Judah. I love how he is looking up at me, and think it is a much more interesting picture than if he was looking head on at me. (That being said, this image is a bit dark, it was edited and posted several days ago here but I am trying to keep it real with unedited pictures!)

Tip #2:

Before taking a picture of your child(ren) move them around a bit to find where the sun hits their eyes, giving them a natural sparkle in their eye.

There is a lot of "eye popping" done when editing photography, especially in children photography. I sometimes do it too, but usually I just move them around until I find the "sparkle" in their eye. The first picture of Judah that I used at the beginning of this post and this one of Wesley are examples of this "eye sparkle." The one of Judah was taken in the morning and the one of Wesley was taken in the afternoon - they are both facing different directions.


A Bonding Moment

When the crashing thunder and lightening kept Judah from his nap on Sunday afternoon I dug out a cozy blanket, grabbed a pile of picture books and one of my own books I'd been wanting to read and snuggled on the floor with him in front of our fireplace. (ahem, how is that for a run on sentence?!)
He surprised me with his interest in the books and we sat for an hour, me reading my book and him reading his, while the rain poured and the lightening crashed.

It was cozy, comfortable and bonding.

I love bonding moments.


Build Your Own Dessert

We had dinner guests over last night and one of them is celebrating a birthday this week so he got to use our special BIRTHDAY PLATE.

I meant to take pictures of our dessert because it was SO easy and so yummy and so fun!! It was a build-your-own-trifle bar.
I had brownies and pound cake for the base. (The guy who was celebrating his birthday made the brownies since we don't have a working oven - way to make a guy work for his dinner, eh?!)
And then icecream, yogurt, whipped cream and a raspberry sauce.
And then mini York patties, chocolate covered coffee beans, Heath bits, almonds and raspberry chocolate chips.

Everything was in its own little bowl with its own serving spoon and everyone built their own trifle - it was so fun!

Check out Jen's blog for tips on saving money on meat!
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