Sunday, May 30, 2010


Those who know us know that Mike is addicted to popcorn. He makes himself a pan of popcorn at LEAST twice a week, and we've even had weeks where he's made it every night! I think that qualifies as an addiction. I've been asked by several friends for our Caramel Popcorn recipe, so I thought I share it here, with the masses. (Okay, so really, all 7 of you...) Thanks to my Grandma Martindale for this recipe, which we've modified to create other DELICIOUS flavors!!!

Caramel Popcorn

1/2 of a brown paper grocery bag of salted popcorn (oil-popped is best)
1 C. packed brown sugar
1/4 C. Karo Syrup
1/2 C. real butter
1 tsp. baking soda (not powder...ew)

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, syrup & butter to a full boil, then remove from heat & add the baking soda. Stir together until the whole mixture is nice and frothy. Pour it over the popcorn already in the bag and stir to coat the popcorn as best you can. Fold down the bag and put in the microwave for 1 minute. Take it out and shake, baby, shake! Put it back in for 1 more minute, then take it out and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Once it's cooled a bit, it will harden, so squeeze the bag to break it all up.

For other flavors, replace the brown sugar with white sugar, and add a small (3 oz. I think) package of whatever flavored Jell-O you like. Follow the same directions for the Caramel Corn, and you may just slip into a popcorn addiction of your own! BTW, we're working on perfecting our Chocolate Popcorn, and our Peanut Butter Popcorn recipes. If you aren't addicted yet, just wait!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I hit 187 today, which is kind of a big deal for me. In October, when Mike and I joined the gym, I stepped onto the giant scale to reveal a whopping 217. Dixon was 4 months old, so yes, there was some pregnancy weight there, but for the most part, it was ALL me. Today, I am 30 pounds lighter, thanks to LOTS of hard work and perseverance. I'm about halfway to where I think I can reasonably maintain , so I just wanted to share my accomplishment with my favorite people!

Also, if you're looking for some motivation and some inspiration, I discovered this blog a couple of days ago. Because of it, I'm registering my whole family for Ogden's Family Fun 5K in August.

Who's with me?

Post Edit: Sorry, I think I got the link fixed. Also, don't forget to check out my last may have missed it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

79 days and counting...

I really can't believe school is actually over for the year! I guess time flies when you're busier than any one one person should ever be...
That being said, I'm just about ready to begin the Summer O' Fun for the kidlets. I'm hoping that keeping to our schedule will alleviate the constant, "Moooom! I'm bored!" that inevitably shows up about this time every year and doesn't stop until the end of August.

We're starting with folders. The girls are used to keeping a planner at school, to record their homework and other pertinent information, so I decided not to fix it if it ain't broken. They each get a folder with a printout of their chores for the week, and have to keep track of when they are completed. Points are awarded for completion, and points will be used to buy rewards. We're still doing MyJobChart online, but having printouts will keep them from wanting to get on the computer 15 times a day.
I'm also adding a Math worksheet and some kind of Language Arts worksheet each day for the girls to finish, just so they retain what they've learned over the school year. Lest you think I'm a mean mom, making my kids do homework all summer, please know that these worksheets will take about 30 min. to complete both, so it's not like I'm some Nazi Mom....mostly.

We've decided to pick a weekly theme--one the girls are interested in and want to learn more about--then all of our activities for the week will be incorporating our theme somehow. For instance, this week the girls picked Horses as our theme, so on Wed. we went to the library and picked out all sorts of books on horses and borrowed My Friend Flicka from the library as well. Today, we were lucky enough to find that the Miniature Horse Show was going on up at the County Fairgrounds, so we packed a picnic lunch and went to go see them. We found an owner who was kind enough to let 7 little kids under the age of 8 maul...I mean pet... her horse and get pictures with him...they were in LOVE!

So, the schedule for the summer will look something like this (though, I'm not naive enough to believe that it will work out like this every week, all summer long) :

Monday--Swimming Day. We have a membership at the City Rec Center, so I figured we better let the kids use it too! Luckily, Maggie and Brooke are pretty good swimmers, Dixon sits in a floaty, and Katie is too chicken to venture out very far, so my focus can be on my little Kamakazi, Bridget, who is certain she's a mermaid and can breathe underwater. I'm excited that my former swim teaching/lifeguarding skills can once again surface, but I'm hoping not to need the latter.

Tuesday--Movie/Book Report Day. We'll either borrow or rent a movie that has to do with our theme for the week. I love that the library has lots of great choices. Not only do they have a few popular movies, but there are lots of educational DVD's that the kids are WAY excited to watch. We borrowed one on the life of butterflies and moths, and they watched in 5 times before taking it back. Since the kids will have borrowed at least one book on our weekly theme, I figured their L.A. for the day can be a book report. Great way to practice handwriting as well as reading comprehension.

Wednesday--Library Day. Every Wed. the library does StoryTime, where they read a few books, blow some bubbles, do a little relaxing yoga (seriously!), then make a craft to take home. It's nice to let someone else do the reading for a while, and we can return our books and get new ones for the week. My rule for this summer is 3 books each. One from the library's reading list they provide for each grade level, one having to do with our weekly theme, and one that's just whatever the heck they want. I'd love to let them get more, but that's 15 books already, and I have to carry them AND the baby back to the car, AND keep track of them once they're at my house for the week, so...limits are essential.

Thursday--Project Day. My girls have such imaginations, and thankfully they really like to express themselves through making things. I'd like to keep to our weekly theme when doing our projects, but frankly, I'm not sure if I can come up with a unique project every week that sticks to that, so we'll just go with the flow on this one. For this week, we're going to decorate our summer folders, and I may even break out the forbidden paint and markers...maybe.

Friday--Activity Day. We'll plan some sort of outing, hopefully theme-related, that will get us out and doing something we wouldn't normally do, for instance, the Miniature Horse Show. I'm really hoping to mix it up and let the girls experience all sorts of different things. Of course, most of these things will have to be free, but I'm up to the challenge of finding some jewels out there!

So, that's the plan for the Stringhams this summer. We'd be happy to have some company at any of our outings, so let me know if you want to join us! Some of the ideas the girls and I have come up with so far are:

Dinosaur Park
Treehouse Museum
HAFB Museum
Duck Park in Layton
Bike Riding
Running a Race (5K family run/walk in August--Yay!)
Bowling (Did you know that bowling centers across the country have a Kids Bowl Free Program that runs all summer? Two free games per kid per day, you just have to pay for shoe rental. For us, it's $6 and all the kids get to have a great time bowling! Sparetime here in Roy is a participant, so for us, it's perfect.)
Chuck E. Cheese's-the kids think if we use it as an activity, our theme should be Mice. Hmmm.

And that's it for now. While I have some ideas, I still have to come up with more themes, activities and projects to last all summer, so if you have any ideas, please share!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finds & Downloads

Just wanted to pass along a few of my newest finds that I thought you may be interested in!

First, since the last day of school is TODAY, I was happy to have found these great teacher appreciation ideas at The Fickle Pickle, and the great news is, you can copy the templates right off her site! Because I had 7 teacher gifts to make, and limited funds, I used the "You're o"Fish"ally the BEST!" tag, since a bag of Swedish fish was only $2 at Walmart. WAY easy, but still a nice gift to thank the teachers. I also had the girls write each of their teachers a letter telling them how they appreciated them and what their favorite thing about the school year was.

This little jewel can be found as a free PDF download on Dandee's site.
This is perfect for any of you involved in YW, but for those like me, who are not, it's still an inspiration & I plan to frame this for my girls' bedrooms!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Katie's Pinkalicious Party

Katie decided on a "Pinkalicious" birthday this year, and I have to admit, I had a great time coming up with games and decorations for her!

We started off with Pin the Cherry on the CupcakeThen we had a Cakewalk (sorry, no pics) where I had a circle of numbers on the ground, withe the "magic number" being 6, for Katie's age, of course. Every time I said the word, "cupcake" as I read "Pinkalicious" aloud, whomever was standing on the 6 got to jump out and get their cupcake & pink lemonade! It was fun to try to make the cupcakes look like the ones in the story. I think I did a fine job!

After stuffing their faces with lots of pinkaliciousness, Katie decided to open her gifts--again, no pics--but here's a picture of the cute wands I made for all the girls to take home with them...

...and the Strawberry Popcorn Mike whipped up last night for them to take home as well. Seriously yummy!

I also picked up some pink flip flops from Old Navy and some cute little glittery foam flowers and butterflies that we tied on them--once again, no pics. I also failed to get pics of all the girls dressed in all their pink in front of my little pink vignette. Oh well. We had a great time and now I'm ready to not look at or think about pink for a very long time.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I could NOT get motivated to go to the gym this morning, which is weird, because just last night I was eagerly anticipating throwing on my sneakers and attempting to match last week's accomplishment. Maybe it had something to do with with the Mortuary phone ringing at 11:30, and Mike's lumbering attempt to reach the kitchen to catch it before that 3rd ring. Or it could have been the crying baby at 2 am in his soaking wet pajamas and his refusing to fall back to sleep without his bottle. It could also have been Mike's alarm that went off at 4:45 as usual, but this time it got turned off without a hint of movement from either side of the bed.

Oh well. I'm pretty sure I more than made up for it with the 5 hours I spent out in the garden today, weeding, transporting shovelfuls of compost, hand tilling, raking and planting 3-100 sq. ft. beds. There's no way I didn't burn at LEAST as many calories as my hour at the gym. Plus, I get the added benefit of home-grown watermelon, cantaloupe, butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, corn, basil, dill, jalapenos, green chilies, parsley, cilantro, and--of course--TOMATOES!!!!!--from today's plantings. There's just nothing better than eating food you grew yourself. Not only does it taste amazing, but there's such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when things come full circle.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but for now, everything's planted and I'm thrilled to get it all started. I'm still looking forward to my date with the Elliptical tomorrow, so hopefully leaky diapers will remain at bay, and since we're off tonight, we shouldn't be interrupted by a phone call, either. (Now is when I insert a warning that anyone who might think it's funny to call me at 11:30 will have one grouchy mama to contend with once I'm coherent enough to figure out who you are.)

With that, I'm off to bed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Physical and Spiritual Restoration

Since my goal for this year continues to be about restoring, I wanted to share a little progress in two areas of my life that have been receiving significant restoration as of late.
My day starts at 4:45--that's a.m.--when Mike's alarm goes off. We've both committed to getting things done in the mornings before the kiddos are up, and it's really been paying off. That's not to say I don't have to literally drag my body out of it's cozy cocoon every morning, but I no longer have to decide whether or not to actually get up. For that, I am happy. I'm also grateful to have a husband who's not only supportive but is joining me in my efforts, even if he does make popcorn nearly every night.

My early morning routine has a two-fold purpose.

1) Spiritual Restoration. Mike leaves just after waking up to go workout, so after he leaves I start my morning with a prayer, my scriptures, my journal, and my Yoplait Light with Kellogg's Bran Buds (13 g of fiber per 1/3 C. serving!), just so I have a little protein before my turn at the gym. Since I started blogging, I thought I had no need for my journal anymore, but I've discovered a new use. As I read, I write down the impressions and thoughts I get. What's interesting about this new approach is that even after I've closed my book, my mind remains wide open. I've actually thought about taking a pencil and paper with me to the gym as my mind continues to ponder things (faster than I can keep up) even as the sweat seeps through my t-shirt and my muscles are ablaze, but I'm pretty sure that even if my sweaty hands could keep hold of my pencil, the writing would be completely illegible from the constant up & down of the elliptical. So that's out. But I'm really grateful to have taken advantage of the quiet stillness of the mornings that allows me to study without interruption, giving me the opportunity for receiving inspiration, revelation, and reflection once again.

2) Physical Restoration. After I've concluded my studying, I tie on my sneakers and trade places with Mike. By this time, it's 6 am and while I'm at the gym, Mike gets the girls settled in for their breakfast, then heads to our room to study. I'm quite certain his study time isn't as quiet as mine, but he insists on being at the gym first so he can move from station to station without waiting on the little old men who come to lift at 6 and have nothing else to do with their morning than hang out, chatting between sets. (If I didn't know any better I'd think they were having Relief Society.)
Providing no one else has beat me to the punch, I jump on my favorite elliptical with the moving handlebars, so I really feel like I get a whole body workout. I do this for 30 minutes and usually do some kind of interval program--either 2 min. low intensity/2 min. high intensity, or there's also a 4 minute interval option. I usually burn around 400 calories if the juice in my mp3 player hasn't run out, otherwise it's hard to keep up a really good pace and I find myself slowing down too much to burn that high.

Since I workout 6 days/week, after my cardio I do 30 minutes of strength training where I rotate between upper body, lower body, and core, so I hit each twice a week, and do 2-3 sets of 15 for each exercise.

Upper body--Dumbbell curls, overhead triceps extention, lateral raises, shoulder press, shrugs, bent over lateral raises (back), and incline bench press w/dumbbells (since I have no spotter).

Lower body--Quad extensions, hamstring curls, leg press (though I've been informed that I must stop these immediately--again, thank you, knees), calf extensions, and skater squats (squats with a side leg-lift).

Core--Dumbbell side bends, dumbbell crunches (on back, legs straight up, holding weight with straight arms & lifting towards feet), crunches with twist, seated twist with dumbbell (figure 8 motion, side to side across body while slightly reclined), lying straight leg raises (on back, arms to the sides, hands slightly under my tush to support my lower back, then straight legs extended up 90* and back down), swimming (on front, legs and hands extended, then slightly arch back to move straight arms & legs up & down), back extensions (on front, hands behind head & lift), and modified plank (on forearms & toes with body straight--holding for 30-60 seconds).

Along with my calorie output as I workout at the gym, I'm also taking care to pay attention to my calorie input, which is frankly something I have never really cared much about. I like food. No, I LOVE food. And I've become pretty good at cooking that food that I love so much--which is a contributor to my high of 217 lbs. I've realized, though, that I can't continue to eat as I have and lose the weight I need, regardless of how many hours I spend at the gym. And let's face it, I don't have my 3-sport high school athlete metabolism anymore, so over the last 4 weeks, I've been very diligent about the following things on a daily basis:

64+ oz. of water
5+ servings of whole fruits and veggies
Eating about every 3 hours
30+ g of fiber
100g of protein
No added sugar and VERY limited salt
1200-1400 calories

I know the calories seem pretty low, but I started with a BMI of 32, which put me embarrassingly in the obese range. Since my "ideal weight" is something like 127, if I were to actually get back to that size (which I maintain is completely unreasonable), I will have lost about 76 lbs. So, my reasoning (logical or not) for cutting my calories so low is that a) I NEED to get as much pressure off my knees as I can, as quickly as I can, b) it's more unhealthy to be obese than it is to not get quite enough calories, and c) I'm in it to win a couple hundred bucks, so I'm taking drastic measures!

But truthfully, I feel better than I have in a really long while, and I'm pretty certain that if it were just the physical changes alone, I wouldn't feel nearly as well. My morning study has given me not only perspective during the day, but the daily spiritual guidance I desperately need as I try to accomplish a very long list of to-do's, and to-be's. I love that I've opened up a conversation with my girls about what it means to be healthy and unhealthy, and I love that I've been able to include my girls in my Saturday morning workouts. Today was Maggie's turn and she went the ENTIRE three-mile loop with me around our neighborhood--which has some significant hills. When we walked triumphantly through the door, I said, "I'm so proud of you for going the whole way, Mag!" To which she relpied, "I'm proud of me too, Mom!"

I still have a long way to go on my path to restoration, but at least now I'm not just standing on the path...I'm running.

Losin' It

I just got back from my weigh-in and couldn't contain my giddiness, so I'm posting this week's 4 pound weight loss immediately!
So I did the math--you can check it if you don't trust it, Dad--and if I continue my average of 2.75 lbs. per week for the next 6 weeks, I'll be at 176 at the end of the competition. That will put my total pounds lost at 27.5, and my total percentage of weight loss at 13.51%!

Hope my competitors realize who they're up against...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This week.

I've not done a very good job of keeping up on my postings lately. Between tie-making and mothering, I've spread myself pretty thin.

Anyway, just as an update:

Finally got ties off to Jen to shoot for the Father's Day special. I loved one of the fabrics so much that I'm going to make me a skirt out of soon as I get caught up on tie orders.

Had the nephews over for a sleepover on Mon. nite while Mer and Ty went to the Jazz game. Two of her kids were puking, but they all managed to sleep through the night. Tues. night Bridget started puking and yesterday it was Dixon's turn. So far no one else has caught it, and I'd like to keep it that way. I'm looking forward to my payback, Mer...

Wed. nite I made the mistake of staying up until 1 am finishing ties. Considering my bedtime is usually 9 pm, and Mike's alarm goes off at 4:45...well, you do the math.

Last night was Brooke's 1st Grade Patriotic Program. Since the two little ones were still sick, I left everyone else home and took her myself. The program was lovely and brought me to tears several times. I love that because my kids are in a charter school, they were able to sing songs like, God Bless the U.S.A., and God Bless America, and that the last line of the program was, "We thank you for serving our great country and pray for your safe return!" I'm so grateful that political correctness had no place in the program last night!

Today I have plans to shower...then hopefully take the kiddos to the Library before Katie goes to school. I have another 2 tie orders to fill (14 ties in all), which I need to get done tonight, since tomorrow I'm helping out with Field Day at the school, and will be indisposed all day long. I'm looking forward to spending the day in 65* sunshine!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Sew Barbie clothes
Play volleyball
Play drums
Stay home to raise 4 daughters & 1 son
Cheer at every home game, for every sport, for every child
Sew clothing including JEANS
Cook hot breakfast every morning
Cook hot dinner from scratch every night
Make lunches everyday
Mow lawn weekly
Drive vanload of teenagers to Stake dances 1 hour away--monthly
Serve diligently in all callings
Plant gardens
Keep house clean
Teach children--even when they don't want to be taught
Listen without judgement
Love unconditionally
Live faithfully

It's a lot to live up to.

But it can be done.

How do I know?

Because I have


as proof that it can be.

Happy Mother's Day to my Greatest Example.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So Long, Treadmill

Dear Mr. Treadmill--

It was a good ride. In fact, pushing myself to run a full 2 miles on you was exhilarating last week, but alas, my knees despise, they LOATHE you. So much so, that they complained for 3 days straight until I could no longer handle the pressure. I guess we're just not meant to be right now. Hopefully circumstances will change for us in the not too distant future and I hope you'll be waiting for me when they do. Until then, please don't be discouraged when you see me give my daily 300 calorie burn to Mr. Elliptical.

It's not that I don't want to run on you--I wanted nothing more than to hit that 5K this month--but my knees need Mr. E's gentleness right now, and I must put them above my competitive drive. Thank you for your understanding.

Until we meet again,