Excerpts of Erynn

a blog about… nothing in particular and everything at once

A lot of littles April 3, 2014

Filed under: Marriage — Erynn Sprouse @ 6:29 pm
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This has been on my mind and I thought I’d just put it out there.

Ladies, we have to protect our marriages. None of us are immune to temptations and our husbands aren’t either. We have to build a hedge around us. The only one you can control is you, so start there. Watch out for letting others meet your needs… even if that other person is a woman. Meeting needs is how you build love for one another and if someone else is allowed to do that, at best, you’re missing out on an opportunity to strengthen your marriage… at worst, well… I think we’ve probably all seen marriages that have fallen apart.

And that’s just it.

ramshackleMarriages can fall apart just like houses left untended. What’s the difference between a 100-year-old house with a caved in roof, shutters hanging off and paint so far gone no one knows what color it was to start with… and the 100-year-old mansion that’s the pride of the neighborhood? The difference is care, effort and work has been constantly put into the mansion. The other was left to the elements without anyone to put on a coat of protective paint, a roof when it was needed or even a simple nail when the shutter first fell off. Sure, the dilapidated old place could be restored, but it will take a whole lot more to get it back than it would have if work was put in all along the way… and honestly, when it gets to that point, most would rather just take a bulldozer to it.

tall, proud houseSo take a moment today and do something… anything… even if it’s small… and put a little effort toward your marriage. Send a sweet, romantic or even sexy text. Make a special treat. Fix your hair and dab on some perfume before he comes home. Write a note on the mirror to tell him something you respect about him. Save some energy for (ahem) bedtime. Just pick something and do it. Invest some effort into your marriage, even if you don’t really feel like it, and you just may reap huge dividends.

These are just little things… but, as one of our teachers used to say, a lot of littles makes a lot. Then again, a lot of littles left undone… well, that’s also a lot. So in the words of that great philosopher Nike, “JUST DO IT.”

 

Mexican Lasagna and (totally awesome) Flan February 2, 2014

Filed under: recipes — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:04 pm

To be totally honest, this blog is all about me. It’s by me. It’s for me. It’s the place where I occasionally spill the things that need to get out of my brain, the place where I can keep thoughts I’d like to keep (diaries get lost so easily!), memories I’d like to keep, and… as is the case today… recipes I’d like to keep.

There are a lot of blogs that I occasionally tune into (none that I follow all that regularly). Smockity Frocks is one of those. She is one of the 4 Moms of 35 Kids. I love their stuff! Anyway, she has a mexican lasagna recipe that I’ve made a bunch of times and we all love it. I think my kids may not realize that lasagna is usually an Italian thing, come to think of it. Oh, well. On to the recipe. My version of it. The original (which isn’t much different) is here. Biggest difference: mine is doubled.

Mexican Lasagna Recipe

2 cans refried beans
16 oz. tomato sauce
2 – 3 lbs. ground beef OR 1 lb ground beef plus 1 can black beans (drained)
2 pkgs. taco seasoning mix (McCormick is gluten free)
2 small onions, chopped (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
8 – 12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
corn tortillas (about 12)

Instructions

Brown and drain the ground beef, adding the onions and garlic if desired. Add the black beans (if using) and taco seasoning and prepare according to package instructions (usually add ¾ c. water per lb and cook about 5 minutes). In a small bowl, combine the refried beans and tomato sauce. Spread a little of this in the bottom of a 9”x13” that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray or greased.

Smockity Frocks says to cut the corn tortillas into strips about 1 inch wide. 5 strips works well, and you can cut several tortillas at a time. A pizza cutter is great for this. Add a layer of tortilla strips to the bottom of the dish, slightly overlapping the strips. I actually don’t cut the tortillas (see the picture).

photo 1

Smockity says put half the meat mix over the tortilla strips, spreading it out to the edges. Add half the remaining bean/tomato sauce mix, then top it with a layer of cheese. Repeat the layers–tortilla strips, meat, sauce, and cheese. I make 4 layers and put a bit of cheese with each layer. My guys like cheese! Also, since I don’t cut the tortillas, I alternate which corners the whole tortillas go in (there’s a picture again).

photo 5Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Let it stand 5 – 10 minutes before serving and then enjoy! I know you will.

And here’s a great dessert to go with. My mom always made flan for Christmas. I’m not sure where or when the tradition started; I think she just loves it. And I can’t blame her one bit. I love it too. Her recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. I looked up a substitute and here’s the resulting recipe. It was soooo delicious, especially with eggs from our backyard chickens. If you’re not familiar with flan, just make this and then you will be… and you’ll thank me. :)

Rich Baked Flan

2/3 cup sugar
7 eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

First thing to do is to caramelize the sugar (after you preheat the oven to 350 degrees… because that’s what you always do first, right?). If you haven’t done this before, it might sound weird and scary and hard… but it’s not. Seriously. Make sure you keep an eye on it and it’ll be fine. Get out a sauce pan or a skillet. Put the sugar in the skillet and heat on medium heat, stirring frequently (read: almost constantly). At first it’ll do nothing. Then it’ll keep doing nothing. Then it’ll start to clump up. Keep heating and stirring and it will turn into a brown, caramel colored liquid. Pull it off and immediately pour it into an ungreased 1.5 qt casserole and swirl it a bit to make sure it’s even. The sugar is super hot and hardens quickly, so work fast and watch all your digits.

Put all the other ingredients in a blender and whirl it up. Pour it into the bowl with the caramelized sugar and put the whole bowl into a larger pan. Now here’s the hard part. You need to fill the larger pan with at least an inch of hot water. Are you going to put the stack of dishes and cream into the oven and then pour in the hot water (risking a burn while reaching in the oven) OR are you going to fill the pan with water and then try to put the teetering stack of mess-potential into the oven? Personally, I pull the rack out, put the pan/ bowl stack on the rack, fill the pan with water and then carefully push the rack in.

Bake for 50-60 minutes till set. The flan will set more as it cools. My mom always lets it set in the fridge over night. I didn’t have that much time today, so it set for about 3 hours. It wasn’t totally solid… but it was still delicious.

 

Romance January 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Erynn Sprouse @ 2:44 pm

We are rapidly headed for February and my favorite holiday of the year. I know… lots of people don’t care much for Valentine’s Day. It’s my favorite, though, because of its history. Really, my history, I should say. Better yet, our history. Valentine’s Day 1999 found my 17-year-old self in a small mountain valley town in Southern Colorado. I’d been baptized a mere three days earlier and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Sunday morning broke and my now-husband met me at my dorm with roses, doughnuts, and a couple of CDs with special songs. We went to Bible class and worship service, but we didn’t stick around for potluck lunch. Instead, my best friend and I were instructed to go about our business, but stay away from my dorm room and her apartment… the guys would be in touch. Ultimately, we were treated to a made-from-scratch-by-two-twenty-something-men dinner of shrimp alfredo, salad and apple pie (even the crust was from scratch). That was romance!

At least it was back then.

Today, 15 years later, romance looks a little different, and not just in my life.

Today, a nice dinner, a man on bended knee with diamond in hand may not be the most romantic proposal. With social media and technology being what they are, if he’s to be counted a romantic, he may need to gather a few dozen friends and family (flown in, of course), choreograph a moving dance production and convince everyone to lip synch along. This kind of “lip-dub” proposal is romance in 2014… or it was in 2013… we’ll have to see what happens this year.

Or maybe lip-synching isn’t really either of your style. Maybe literature is more the thing? Romance might look like a Pride and Prejudice proposal. Either way, a simple bended knee just might not cut it.

In my own life, 15 years later, there is no lip-dub and there are no regency dresses, but there is plenty of romance. Around here, romance looks like a clean kitchen after I’ve had a cozy nap. Romance is my sweet husband reading to the kids so I can get some work done. Romance is a terribly dumb movie to laugh about for months down the road. Romance is cuddling on the couch in just the right way so I can still knit. Romance around here just might smell like curry cooking on the stove after the kids are in bed. It might look like an “I love you” text out of the blue. Romance for me in 2013 was encouraging me to take my son out for a movie when the spontaneous whim struck at 9:00 at night. It was that… and so many more moments, big and small. It was my husband making time with me a priority… it was making me a priority.

Because isn’t that what romance really is? Making the other person your priority and putting effort in to make them feel loved… special… cared for… important. But it’s not just in the grand gestures like planning and executing a dream proposal/wedding from your soon-to-be-wife’s Pinterest board. Romance is in the every day.

But you might miss it if you’re not looking. If your eye is on the horizon, waiting for your romance ship to come in, you might miss the person sitting at your side, bringing you a cool drink and sharing your life with you. If you’re waiting for a huge gesture, you could miss the small ones. Don’t let dissatisfaction be sown in your life, in your marriage, in your heart or in your love by seeing the huge things other people may do and wishing those things were yours. Do not let your heart envy the romance of another. Instead, look in your own life, your own marriage and find what romance is already there. Nurture that. The romance you find may not look like anything else you’ve ever seen before. Your romance may not look like mine. But if it makes you feel loved and special, cared for and important, then celebrate it and call it what it is: romance… even if no one else would recognize it as such.

Might I suggest that romance, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder?

This Valentine’s Day, find a way to show your spouse love and care. Even if it doesn’t look anything like the 23 Most Thoughtfully Romantic Gestures of 2013. After all, those 23 people were using their talents. Find a way to use yours.

 

The Main Attraction April 11, 2013

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:03 pm

“Ugh, Buddy! I’m trying to get STUFF done… and you’re being a distraction!”

 

He looked up at me and grinned. Big grin. Little baby teeth poking up grin. Excited for Mommy to be paying attention grin.

 

And it hit me…

 

“I’m sorry, Buddy. You’re not a distraction. You’re the main attraction.”

 

It’s easy to forget isn’t it?

 

Knock knock… April 10, 2013

Filed under: diary,Kids say the funniest things — Erynn Sprouse @ 11:08 am

This just has to be recorded for posterity’s sake. School time can wait just a bit on this drizzly day.

The boys are all about laughing and having a good time (what little boy isn’t?) and Ean John has joined the ranks of the comedians. Their favorite joke for their daddy to tell goes like this…

Jeremy: Knock knock
Kids: who’s there?
J: Annoying dog
K: Annoyi–
J: WOOF WOOF WOOF!

So Ean’s jokes go like this…

Ean: Knock knock
Anyone who will listen: who’s there?
E: [insert anything... really... anything at all... "banana" or "kid with a tractor"]
AWWL: [whatever] wh–?
E: WOOF WOOF WOOF

And he’s sooo completely adorable as he’s telling this joke for the 93rd time in 10 minutes that I don’t mind being the AWWL (the 95th time does get to be a tad too much!).

These moments are all too fleeting and I have learned the hard way that if I don’t get it down, the memory will likely be lost forever. So here it is for me to come back to later, but also to encourage other young mothers to put memories down somewhere safe.

 

Big Brother Knows Best March 24, 2013

Filed under: homeschool — Erynn Sprouse @ 9:12 pm
Tags: ,

I have an opinion on just about everything, true. There aren’t many things on which I hold so strong an opinion as on homeschooling. But this isn’t really about homeschooling.

The Romeike family came to America from Germany seeking the right to homeschool their children. In their “motherland” homeschooling is illegal (side note: you may recall that one of the major ways Hitler planned for the future of his Germany was through influencing the children in their schools). If deported, the Romeikes face persecution, prosecution, fines and possibly even the loss of their children into State custody. They have asked for political asylum and their case is being considered.

It’s not looking good.

But, like I said, this isn’t really about homeschooling.

Father knows best or Big Brother knows best? That is the real question here. If homeschooling is not a fundamental right, the logical conclusion is that the government can say that I MUST turn MY children over to THEM. How my husband and I choose to educate our children is OUR choice, not the government’s.

Want to do something about it?
1) Sign this petition– we need A LOT more signatures. If we can get 100,000 total signatures, the White House will make an official response. It’s not a guarantee of favorable action, but it’s a step.
2) Share this information with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth… however you can. Get the word out.

Whether you’re a homeschooler or not, this is important and it will have an impact here in the U.S. Our rights are slowly… but surely… being stripped.

It’s not about a German family.

It’s not about homeschooling.

It’s about parental rights. And if you don’t do something, if you don’t stand up, if you don’t fight and pray and do what you can, you may not have the chance to stand and fight down the road.

For more info, click here.

 

Just go with it February 23, 2013

Filed under: diary — Erynn Sprouse @ 1:11 am

What a day! We started it off with one in the ER and plans for travel cancelled. Ean woke up at 1:30 this morning with wheezing, labored breathing, so he got a visit from the paramedics. X-ray showed nothing amiss, but it was enough to warrant staying home. But seize the day, right? So we decided to make it a Mommy Day for Isaac. PBJ lunches in hand, we headed off to Ikea to get our new table & chairs we’d picked out (yay tax return!). It wasn’t the best plan since Ikea is 2.5 hrs away, but… Anyway, we roamed and looked and had a medium amount of fun. Isaac was really looking forward to surprising his brothers with the new table, but we got to the check out and the card was declined. Must’ve been over the daily limit of the debit card. We’ve quit credit cards so I didn’t have anything else to put it on. All that time… all that effort… Just to leave empty-handed. But we did have fun. We sat in (most) every chair, and spun in the spinny ones. Tried the couches. Laid on the beds. Sword fought in the utensils section. Visited the bathroom twice. Ate Swedish meatballs for dinner. Drank lingonberry juice and lingonberry soda and split a piece of chocolate cake. So it’s not as if the day were a total loss… And I guess we didn’t technically come home empty-handed either. There was a giant cardboard box sitting lonely in the parking lot. That’s gold not to be ignored!

 

 
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