27 April 2012

Coming along quite nicely.

Just when I thought I 'got it', I couldn't have been more wrong.


I'm referring to my faith.  My spiritual journey.

If you are new around here, this may come as a surprise.  If not, you are certainly aware of my struggles.

I like to think that I represent the common {wo}man.  A Christian that is a Christian because...well, what else would I be? 

Make no mistake...I've never been one to be complacent about my spirituality.  I've always investigated, read, researched.  Other faiths have always especially intrigued me.  Maybe it's the scholar in me.  Maybe it's just plain curiosity.  Maybe it's wanting to understand just how much most of our beliefs have so many of the same fundamentals. 

Who knows?

For whatever reason, I was at a point that I was satisfied with my Christianity {more specifically, Catholicism}. 

Almost smug in the fact that I was one step ahead.  I 'got it'.  Church on Sunday, a bit of light scripture reading, prayers of gratitude at night, or prayers for help & guidance when things were hard.  God was on my side, and that was something that not everyone really understood.  But I wasn't one of 'those' people.  No, sir.

Recently, I have been 'uninspired' to say the least concerning my spiritual growth.  It plateaued for lack of a better explanation.  Never reverting, but certainly never reaching towards grace.  Never glorifying this God that was responsible for all of my many blessings.  Just continuing on the same way, everyday.

On a whim, my family and I attended church with my sister and her lot on Easter.  It's a different church.  A church my old school Catholic mom & dad were less than thrilled about her attending. 

But, she's been there for about 2 years. 

And she talks about it.  She more often than not seems inspired by the sermons.  Her kids love it.  Her borderline agnostic husband is now a believer.  I've witnessed with my own 2 eyes this church's message work its way into the hearts of several of my extended family members. 

That message?

It couldn't be simpler...the Bible.

No smoke & mirrors.  No snake charmers, no one speaking in toungues.  No 'write your check and we'll promise miracles for you & yours'.

Needless to say, we've gone every week since.

Let me clarify...this isn't about 'church'.  This isn't about checking that box off of our 'to do' list week after week. 

For me, it's about finding those 'aha' moments within my faith.  The times where even for a just a fraction of a moment, I am unwavering.  Everything clicks.  I am filled with a lightness that can not be duplicated with any other earthly endeavor. 

And what I realized, no matter how difficult it was for me to understand, is that God is there, but you have to seek Him out.  You have to do the work.  YOU have to SEEK Him.  NOT the other way around. 

How full of myself I've been all of these years.  How arrogant to think that the God that made the Heavens and the Earth would go out of his way to seek ME out in a deliberate way to have a relationship with Him.  It's foolish, really.  Any human relationship requires work, why would a relationship of a divine nature be any different? If not harder to develop?

I've heard this analogy before...an adult plays hide and seek with a young child.  The adult hides under the bed, but with their legs hanging out from underneath the bed frame.  The child sees those legs no doubt, but may have had to walk around the house a bit before they made their discovery.  The child is comforted in the fact that those legs sticking out meant the adult was there all along, but is also pleased that he 'found' him or her. 

The presence of God is always there looming over us.  Accessible.  Available.  Just not always obvious. Does that confuse the heck out of you?  Hope not.

When I think about it...it makes me sad.  During the most difficult time in my life {to date}, I thought I was carried along by God.  And He was there, of course, somewhere.  But I didn't look.  I just assumed.  I never cried out for His help.  I never poured myself out to Him. 

I wonder how much different the experience with Betsy in those early years would have been if I'd tried to do those things.  I was grateful just to wake up each day, and meet my kids' needs.  If I had had a deepened relationship with the Boss maybe I could've found joy in small things when it was so, so hard just to make it until bedtime.

He is eminent to be sure, but we have to ask him into our lives.

I have so much work to do.  I don't think I'm ready to testify after only a month.  That almost seems laughable to me right now.  And, the truth is...I may never be.

But I take comfort in knowing that I'm on the path.  There are days I feel like that path has no end, or it is full of too many roadblocks to bother.  In just four weeks, I have had more days than not, that I think it's not worth it.  Maybe I'm not worth it.  But, one tiny thing will change that.  A passage from scripture {of which I've never really read, not like I do now, anyway}, Rosie riding her bike with no training wheels, Pete helping Betsy off of the bus, Jake helping to clear the dinner table without being asked.  That's God's work.  I like to think I had a hand in it, but it all goes back to Him. 

I hope some of you aren't balking at the fact that I/we Christians cling to an empty promise.  I certainly don't take offense to your personal beliefs.  And, not to get all Donald Miller on you, I also apologize if you've had any negative experiences with people carrying messages of hate who claim to be a Christian.  That is a shame.

Jesus's message was love.  Charity, outreach, forgiveness.  No matter your skin color, beliefs, actions, unlawfulness.  In all honesty, it doesn't get much more liberal than that. And every single person on the planet deserves those things.  Every last one. 

And you doubters, the unfaithful...you may be right.  Maybe.

But, I've never been the gambling type, and I'm not willing to take that chance.  And so my faith stays in tact.  My heart believes it ALL to be true.

And for that...I am pleased.

25 April 2012

'SCM' makes everything better.

It has been one hot mutha in the Lou already.  Around here with the heat comes sno-cones {aka snow balls, snowcones, snow cones, etc}.

Last year we bought an ice shaver.  It makes the ice fine enough to make our own version.  We have since collected lots of syrups {mostly from Target}, and sometimes do toppings like sprinkles, whipped cream, cherries, etc. 

We are all kind of obsessed with the 'cream tops' that most of the New Orleans style sno-cone stands offer around here.  I was thinking it wasn't attainable at home, and mostly had just decided it was something we could only get at our favorite local stand.

with a little research and testing, we can now add it to our own 'options' list when we make them ourselves.

Enter the lead player: Sweetened Condensed Milk {SCM}

From what I understand, this is mainly a southern thing.  But, rest assured...once you give it a try, it will become a 'wherever-you-live' thing.

You can spoon it on top straight out of the can if you like, but we like it best mixed with a little milk.  I would guess I put about 2 TBSP. of milk to one can of SCM.

I just whisk it up...

and VOILA! 

After you make your sno-cone to your liking, you just spoon the SCM mixture on top.  That's it!  To make it extra fun, you can serve it in fun cups or paper cones with even cuter spoons or straws.

This time I did even more experimenting and tried a 'Viatnamese Coffee' sno-cone.  All I did was take Pioneer Woman Iced Coffee concentrate, pour it over the shaved ice, and added the cream top. 

So, so good!

I think next time, I may try just freezing some strong coffee in an ice cube tray, and actually shaving that, but it was still really good.  Definitely worth giving it a try.


spoons: Sucre Shop
cups: {new old stock} Paper Treats
cones: Target

17 April 2012

Swiss Meringue Buttercream...wha?!?!?

I loathe canned frosting.


It tastes like shortening, and makes me want to lose my lunch.

Typically, my go to buttercream recipe is from Sweetopolita.

{Read all about it here...tips, recipe, etc.}

I cannot say enough good things about this recipe. 

It is THE BEST buttercream...EVER!

It goes on so smooth that I have often been asked if it's fondant. 

Best part it tastes so, so, so, so, so good.


{did you know a 'but' was coming?}

it isn't the quickest frosting to whip up, and there are several steps including egg whites on the stove top.  The recipe also yields a TON, and I often times forget I have some in the freezer. 

So, today I made donuts {we're crazy obsessed now, thanks to THIS}, and wanted to slather them in Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but didn't have the energy to make it. 

On a wing and a prayer, I decided to make the Almost-Homemade Vanilla Buttercream by Karen Tack featured in this month's issue of Better Homes & Gardens. 


It is a pretty strong contender for the real thing considering it's sort of a cheat, using marshmallow creme instead of egg whites and sugar. 

It's quick, it's easy, it's good. 

I mean, why wouldn't it be?  It has 3 sticks of butter in it.

Almost-Homemade Vanilla Buttercream
{via Better Homes & Gardens}

1 1/2 cups {3 sticks} unsalted butter
1 16 oz. jar marshmallow creme*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In large mixing bowl beat butter with mixer on medium until light and fluffy.  Add marshmallow creme and beat until smooth, scraping sides.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy (if too stiff, soften in microwave no more than 10 seconds; beat until smooth).  Use to frost cake.  Or store, refrigerated, up to three days or freeze up to a month.  Bring to room temperature before frosting cake. 
Makes 3 cups.
*If only 13 oz. jars are available in your area, add 3 oz. (3/4 cup) additional marshmallow creme. 
For a sweet & salty contrast, add 1/4 tsp. of salt.
You, my friends, are very, very welcome.

16 April 2012

Mad Music Monday...

This week I chose M83.

They are coming to The Pageant in St.Louis this May, and I'm hoping my cousin and I are going to go.  (Michelle: if you're reading this...HINT, HINT!)

They are just really, really good.

It's lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes, and breathe kind of music. 

I do that.

Do you?

If not, you should.

I highly recommend it.

In fact, you could do it after you read this post, and play the 2 You Tube vids I posted.

That would be nice.

You'll like it.

I promise.

The 10 minute break, and the tunes.

Ear buds might help. 

Just sayin'.

13 April 2012


So, I obviously cannot post everyday, but I'm hoping to post every few days.  I think that sounds pretty reasonable. 

It's a matter of time.  And time isn't usually very friendly.  Especially to me.

I don't know what has happened in the last 6 months or so, but I have significantly less of it.

I look at my little nuggets and can't believe how big they are, how independent they are, and how much they know. 

Certainly, Rosie was just spending her days happily nursing and snuggling the away, while Betsy got in-home therapy almost everyday, and the boys were boisterously wrestling on the floor or jumping off the couch...oh wait, the boys still do that.

Anyway, enough of that nostalgic stuff.

Even though, time robs us of so much, it also allows for friendships to blossom, wounds to heal, knowledge to be gained.

I have met many people through my blog.  Over time.

None has come to mean as much to me as Crystal

I never would have thought that of all the people I 'knew' from blog land, that she would be the dear friend to me that she is today.  Over time our spunky debates turned into quite a camaraderie. 

And, in time...I will see her in real life. 

How's that for time being on my side?


09 April 2012

Mad Music Monday...

So, I used to do 'Hump Day Ear Candy' on Wednesday, but because things seem to be new around here, AND because my corpus callosum hurts on Mondays...I thought I would move Wednesday's post to Monday leaving Wednesday open for things I would normally post on Monday.  {Is anyone else thinking about the teacher in 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'?}

So, after thinking long and hard about what band to post today, I have decided to share 'The Velvet Underground'.

Certainly, this band isn't new to most people...quite the opposite actually, but I love them so. 

For me...it's Sunday Funday music.  True rock-n-roll written and performed by real rock-n-roll musicians.  {And, yes...the kind of band that was all sex, drugs, & the music, managed by Andy Warhol for goodness sake. It was the 60s-70s, people...c'mon.}

So, sit on your patio with a cold beverage with the sun setting low, and enjoy this music for what it is. 


Stay tuned this week for nonsense, scandal, travel plans, and plenty of shout outs!

PS I'm not entirely sure what a corpus callosum is or does, but I know it's in your brain, and I know that my brain hurts on Mondays.  Plus, it sounds super official.

04 April 2012

Do it. Now.

Since I haven't blogged in ages, I have lots of things to share with you that are happening or have happened at the House of Grebe. 

A quick share would be the stenciled entry. 

I have always loved Orla Kiely's multi-stem wallpaper, but haven't ever had the chops to buck up and buy it.  It really isn't all that pricey for wallpaper, but I was afraid Big Daddy might have a few choice words for me if I asked him to wallpaper on top of the myriad of other things he has been doing around here.  So...

I decided to try and stencil the design. 

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a pack of uncut stencil paper.  I think it was about $4 for 3 sheets.  I also picked up a new exacto knife so that the blade was extra sharp. 

Next, I blew up the multi stem design in Photoshop and printed it.  Then, I just traced it onto the stencil sheet.  Finally, I cut out the design with the exacto knife.  I did leave the top and bottom edges of the design uncut so that I could use those as a guide to line up the pattern as I moved along.  Does that make any sense?

Because there were so many colors involved, and the fact that walls are not perfectly straight but I wanted to make sure the design looked level, it was a slow moving process.

Off and on, it took me about 2 days to finish.  When the stenciling itself was complete, I had to touch up around the door frames, and ceiling.  Then to give it a more worn finish, I lightly sanded over all the walls. 

I am super pleased, and it gives the entry a little space definition from the rest of the space since we have such an open concept floor plan.  My sister says it looks like a circus, which secretly makes me quite pleased.  I mean, c'mon...the circus is super fun, AND you can buy loads of cotton candy there.

Anywho, if you've ever thought about stenciling, but couldn't find a design you liked, this is a pretty easy, albeit time consuming project. 

The only advice I have is that make sure your stencil brush or sponge is almost COMPLETELY devoid of paint before you start the stencil process.  Otherwise, the paint will bleed under the stencil and onto the walls for a very unpleasant effect.  LESS IS MORE.  I never thought I'd say that, but in this particular case it's very true. 

**Please ignore the shoe basket as we are a 'no shoe' household.
It is always overflowing because no one puts their shoes in their closet.  Don't get me started.**

Let me know if you have any questions about this project.

Or the circus.

I would be happy to discuss either.

02 April 2012

Lifted up.

I have convinced myself, as of late, that no one really reads this, and thus have silently slunk away. 

If you couldn't tell. 

But, lately, I've been inspired to keep up with my old friend, the blog.

Mostly because of a group of lovely people on Instagram. 

I have found a niche of lovely people that have become more than just a community of like minded 'techie-nerds', but more like an interweb family.

Oh, if only we could all fly to the same place and spend a day in the sun together...

Now wouldn't that be lovely?

Life has been more than distracting lately.  I am having a hard time keeping up with 'older' kids and all of their sports and school commitments.  Which is ironic considering we limit activities, sports, and clubs to one thing a season/semester.  We have approached a time when seasons overlap for several weeks, and games and practices have become to numerous to talk about.

Is it wrong that I would be perfectly content if they wanted to stay home and read books?  Ha!

Which is strange since I was VERY active in my adolescence both athletically and academically, and Big Daddy played numerous sports and continued with football in college.  I like to refer to my mom style as vintage parenting rather than lazy parenting.  That's seems fair.  The whole 'keep it simple, stupid' phrase is constantly resonating in my head every time I'm approached with a new sign up sheet. 

Alas, it makes them happy to play, and participate, and learn.  They get fantastic grades, and are good kids.  I don't get to decide everything for them, even though I wished I could. 

Life is fast, and I can only slow down so much.  We must be doing something right if I hear them say CONSTANTLY that their friends get video games whenever they want, have cell phones, TVs in their rooms, etc.  The pace here is slower than outside of these walls, but certainly not as slow as when we were kids. 

Which all I can say, although not eloquently, is that is dumb. 

What's the rush?  Time robs us of so much already, why do we push it along? 

So, after all that rambling...I can safely say {disregard all the times I've said it before}, that I'm back. 

And this time, something feels different when I say it.