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Category: LITE Feed (non-deal) Posts

12 Books I Plan to Read to Kierstyn in 2021

Why I Prioritize Reading Aloud

From the time our three older kids were little babies, I prioritized reading aloud to them. And not just reading picture books — although we enjoy lots of those! — but also reading chapter books.

I know that some people find it strange that I would read chapter books to babies and toddlers. Yes, they can’t understand a lot of what is being read when they are little, but developing a long for reading and learning can begin at a very young age. Plus, as they get older, they will begin to understand and comprehend much more quickly than we often give them credit for.

One of the biggest reasons why I love reading aloud to kids — even when they are little — is because it encourages them to develop a love for books and literature and it helps me establish the habit of reading aloud from a very young age. When they are tiny, I’m the one who enjoys the books more than they do. But as they grow, they quickly begin falling in love with read aloud time, too (or at least that’s what happened with our older three!)

Our older three will tell you that they learned so much from the books we read when they were little and the audiobooks and audio dramas they listened to. And I have so many special memories of the hours and hours we spent reading together.

(The three older kids when they were much younger. Oh the sweet memories I have of all the reading we did together!)

How to Get Started Reading Aloud

If you are looking for some advice and ideas for reading aloud to preschoolers and grade schoolers, be sure to read my post on How to Get Your Kids Excited About Reading Aloud + this post on 10 Tips to Read Aloud to Kids.

By the way, I have listed some of our favorite read alouds when my kids were younger here. I also have a few more suggestions and chapter book ideas here.

For a long list of book ideas, check out my post on 37 Books I Planned to Read Aloud to My Kids in 2013 (this was when they were 8, 6, and 4 and we were homeschooling). Spoiler alert! We didn’t get through that entire list, but we read a lot of them.

When I Read Aloud to Kierstyn

Right now, Kierstyn and I read together in the mornings. It’s either usually while I’m nursing her or right after I nurse her. We read a chapter from the Bible, we read through her ABC verse book, and we read a chapter from our current read aloud. We also often we a picture book or two. By reading a chapter of a book aloud almost every day, we can pretty easily get through more than one book a month!

12 Books I Plan to Read to Kierstyn in 2021

I picked out the books I want to for sure read to Kierstyn based upon what books we already had on our shelf. I tried to go for a variety of books — some I loved reading to the older kids, some that are classics I’ve wanted to read aloud, and some that are newer.

I love the E.B. White classic book shown above because it has three E.B. White books in one. We’ve already read Stuart Little (the first book in it) and now we’re working our way through the rest of it. So these are the first two books on my list for 2021:

1. Charlotte’s Web

2. The Trumpet of the Swan

And here’s the rest of our stack:

3. The War That Saved My Life

4. The BFG

5. The Imagination Station: Voyage with the Vikings

6. The Imagination Station: Attack on the Arena

7. The Imagination Station: Pearl in the Palace

8. The King’s Highway

9. Fantastic Mr. Fox

10. The Story of Eli Whitney

11. Robinson Crusoe

12. Amy Carmichael

What are your favorite children’s chapter books?

Last Week’s $68 Shopping Trip

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family (two adults, two teenagers, one preteen, and one baby). This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunch for Jesse and me (the kids have lunches at school most days), snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

This week, I decided to do a Shop With Me feature on my Instagram Stories. Which means, I took my Instagram followers along with me from start to finish of a shopping trip at Kroger — including the planning, how I look for markdowns and re-arrange my list while at the store based upon what I find, where I find markdowns, and what I ended up buying for $70 this week.

If you are interested in watching this, I saved it as a highlight on my Instagram stories. You can view it here or go to my Instagram profile and look for the bubble at the top that says “Shop With Me”.

The bakery clearance cart was pretty empty, but I still found some garlic bread and rolls marked down to about $1 each.

Our store has started to have this section in the health food/natural area with markdowns on frozen healthy/allergen-free foods. Does your store have this?

The Mom’s Best Cereal deal is still going — and the iBotta rebate is still available, too! If you’ve not done this deal yet, you can get 5 boxes of cereal for $0.97 to $1.49 each and then submit for 5 $1 rebates from iBotta. This makes the 5 boxes of cereal either free or just $0.49!

I found a lot of closeouts at the store this week! If you have time when you’re shopping at Kroger, go through the aisles and look for these white tags. I was especially excited about the $0.97 granola! I got 3 bags at this price and it’s SO yummy!

I’ve been eating the granola over the honey Greek yogurt I found marked down to $1.99. Delicious!

Does your store have a section for dairy markdowns? You never know what you’ll find in ours!

There were lots of Thanksgiving/Christmas markdowns in the clearance section this week.

I got yeast, StoveTop stuffing, Snickers bars, and lots of canned goods!

And pasta is on stockup price at Kroger again!

My Kroger Shopping Trip

  • 9 boxes pasta — $0.49 each when you use the Kroger digital coupon
  • 2 boxes StoveTop stuffing — marked down to $0.49 each
  • 2 packets of yeast — marked down to $0.49 each
  • 2 boxes Jell-O pudding — marked down to $0.25 each
  • 2 Snickers bars — marked down to $0.29 each
  • 2 cans Campbell’s soup — marked down to $0.25 each
  • 4 cans beans — marked down to $0.29 each
  • Baking powder — $0.99
  • 3 bags granola — on closeout to $0.97 each
  • 1 bag rolls — marked down to $1.09
  • 1 loaf garlic bread — marked down to $1
  • 2 cups yogurt — marked down to $0.39 each
  • 2 bags Tyson chicken breasts — $5.99 each when you use the Kroger weekly digital coupon
  • Half & Half — $1.99
  • 5 boxes Mom’s Best Cereal — $0.97 to $1.49 each with Kroger digital coupon
  • Bananas — $1.63
  • 2 heads Romaine lettuce — $3.58
  • Red Leaf Lettuce — $1.79
  • Radishes — $0.99
  • Carrots — $1
  • Honey Greek Yogurt — marked down to $1.99
  • Whole Chicken — marked down to $3.36
  • Deli chicken — marked down to $4.99
  • Diced pork — marked down to $3.91
  • Milk — $2.99
  • Total with tax: $68.14

Want to learn some of my best tips and tricks for cutting your grocery bill? Sign up here for my FREE tip sheet on how to cut your grocery bill by $50 this week.

Brigette’s $87 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6

My older sister, Brigette, shares her shopping trips and menu plans every week! You can go HERE to see all of her weekly menu plans and you can go HERE to read all about her family!


2 bags frozen Riced Cauliflower – $2.98

2 pkgs Mixed Caulifornia Vegetables – $1.58

1 bag Steamable Mixed Vegetables – $0.75

1 bag frozen Broccoli Florets – $0.85

2 pkgs fresh Bone-In Split Chicken Breasts ($0.99/lb) – $9.79

1 pkg Pepperoni – $1.99

1 pkg (5.45lbs) 73/27 Ground Beef, discounted – $7.94

1 8-oz pkg Deli Sliced Cheese – $1.25

1 pkg String Cheese – $1.99

2 16-oz bags Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – $5.10

1 16-oz bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $2.55

2 64-oz cartons Orange Juice – $3.18

1/2 gallon Unsweetened Almond Milk – $1.49

1 gallon Whole Milk – $1.45

1 gallon 1% Milk – $1.45

5 Greek Yogurts – $2.95

1 jar Salsa – $0.89

1 jar Strawberry Jam – $1.39

1 32-oz carton Egg Whites – $2.95

3 dozen Eggs – $2.40

1 large jar Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.95

2 Cauliflower – $3.98

1 bunch Bananas – $1.00

1 bag Red Grapes ($0.95/lb) – $1.73

1 carton Grape Tomatoes – $0.99

1 pkg Zucchini – $1.70

1 bag Romaine Hearts – $1.99

1 3-ct pkg Colored Peppers – $2.69

1 7-lb bag Grapefruit – $4.19

1 bag Baby Carrots – $0.79

1 3-lb bag Sweet Potatoes – $1.99

1 box Kid’s Krunch – $1.95

1 box Frosty Flakes – $1.99

1 box Marshmallow & Star Cereal – $1.25 (This is what happens when my husband does the shopping and I write the non-specific word “cereal” on the list :))

1 loaf Sandwich Bread – $0.59

Total: $83.73

Harris Teeter

4 pkgs Mueller Pasta – $3.18, used 2 $0.55/2 Smart Source 1/10/21 (doubled) – $0.98/4 after coupons

1 pkg Southern  Biscuit Mix – $1.29, used $0.75/1 Smart Source 11/15/2020 (doubled) – FREE after coupon

1 box Quaker Life Cereal – $2.00, used $0.75/1 printable (doubled) – $0.50 after coupon

1 pkg Sargento Breaks – $1.99, used $0.75/1 Smart Source 1/10/21 (doubled) – $0.49

5 Yoplait Yogurts – $1.85, used $0.50/5 printable (doubled) – $0.85/5 after coupon

1 Larabar – $1.00, receive $0.10 rebate from Ibotta (any snack bar), plus $2.29 rebate$1.39 MM after rebates

1 8-oz block Kraft Cheddar Cheese – $1.99, used $1.00/1 evic coupon – $0.99 after coupon

1 8-oz carton White Mushrooms – $1.00

1 Light + Fit with Collagen & Antioxidants Yogurt – $1.25, used $0.75/1 printable (doubled) – FREE after coupon

Total after Coupons and Rebates – $3.42

Grocery Total for the Week: $87.15

Weekly Menu Plan


Everyone is responsible for making/cleaning up their own breakfasts. Choices include:

Oatmeal, Cereal, Fruit, Yogurt, Smoothies, Boiled/Fried/Scrambled Eggs, Veggie Omelets


PB and J Sandwiches, Peppers, Cheese Sticks, Grapefruit x 2

Stovetop Mac and Cheese, Applesauce, Carrots x 2

Leftovers x 3


Crustless Ham Quiche, Mixed Vegetables, Biscuits

Oven Baked Chicken and Rice, Tossed Salad, Broccoli

Taco Salad, Spanish Rice

Grilled Chicken, Mashed Cauliflower, Cranberry Orange Muffins

Venison Roast in the Crockpot, Cauliflower Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Meatloaf (I use half venison/half beef), Baked Potatoes, Sauteed Zucchini

Pepperoni Pizza, Mixed Vegetables

ButcherBox Discount Code: FREE Keto Bundle (7+ pounds of meat!!)

Have you been wanting to give ButcherBox a try? If so, don’t miss this ButcherBox discount code to get a FREE Keto Bundle in your first box!!

{This post is sponsored by ButcherBox and contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.}

ButcherBox Discount Code for FREE Keto Bundle

This deal ends in just a couple days!

After doing my ButcherBox review last year, SO many of you were excited about trying ButcherBox and asked me if there’d be more discount codes in the future.

And I have GREAT news!! They’re offering a HOT deal to get over 7 pounds of FREE meat right now!

FREE Meat in ButcherBox

ButcherBox Discount Code: FREE Keto Bundle of Meat

ButcherBox is running a special New Year deal through January 18, 2021. When you sign up to try ButcherBox, you’ll get a FREE Keto Bundle of Meat — which includes three FREE cuts over 7 pounds total! You’ll receive chicken thighs, ground beef, and pork butt — all for FREE in your first box.

Just go HERE, enter your email address, and click on the “claim offer” button to get the ButcherBox discount code automatically added to your order. (For more detailed instructions on how to go through the checkout process, see below!)

ButcherBox discount code with different box choices

How to Sign Up for ButcherBox

If you’d like to sign up and take advantage of this deal, just follow these instructions!

After claiming your FREE Keto Bundle offer, you’ll be taken to the sign-up page, where you can choose between five different types of boxes:

I recommend doing a custom box because it allows you to customize the meat that they send and you are able to get exactly what you know you will use.

ButcherBox pricing options

Once you choose which box you’d like, then you pick your monthly box size. You can choose between a Classic Box ($128-$149/month) or a Big Box ($238-270/month). The price varies depending upon which type of meat box you chose.

meat choices

After you’ve chosen your box size, then you can customize what they will send you. I like that you can see exactly what your options are and you can figure out how to get the best bang for your buck!

Then, just input your payment information and you’re done.

If you’re still hesitant about signing up with ButcherBox, be sure to read my honest ButcherBox review! It goes into more details, plus you’ll get my honest thoughts on the quality of meat and our overall experience.

ButcherBox Free Meat Discount Code

Go here to get started with ButcherBox and take advantage of this deal.

5 Steps to Start and Stick With Better Habits

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

As we talked about yesterday, good habits done consistently can completely change the trajectory of your life. (And the inverse of that statement is also true.)

So, how do you start with stick with better habits? In this week’s podcast episode, Jesse and I tackle that topic along with sharing an update on our Christmas break, Jesse’s hunting trip, an audiobook we both listened to, and two updates we made to our home recently.

Here are the five suggestions we gave for starting and sticking with better habits:

1. Keep it simple.

Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Focus on 1-2 small habit changes at a time. As you master those, you can add another 1-2 habits.

2. Write it down.

Make a plan for the habits you want to develop. What will you do? When will you do it? Where will you do it?

3. Make it public.

Get brave and share your plan for building a new habit with the world. Tell a friend who will help you stay accountable. Or, post about it on social media.

4. Do it consistently.

Try to go for a streak. Don’t miss more than one day. Give yourself grace if you do miss a day and then tell yourself you can’t miss more than one day.

5. Track it regularly.

I highly recommend something like my Habit Tracker Checklist or another habit tracker printable or app (there are lots of free ones available!)

My Favorite Book on Habits

Looking for more practical encouragement to develop good habits? As I mentioned yesterday, I highly recommend Atomic Habits. This is, by far, my very favorite book on habits.

James Clear, the author, does such a great job of unpacking why and how to build good habits. I’ve read a lot of book on this topic and I feel like he has a very fresh and encouraging approach. The book is not written from a Christian perspective so I disagree with some of his worldview and conclusions, but there are so many great nuggets of truth and inspiration in this book.

If you feel like you are forever failing at follow through or you just can’t seem to stick with good habits, get a copy of this book. I listened to it about a year ago and loved it so much that I bought a hard copy and then slowly read it again this year. That tells you how valuable I found it! (I loved it so much that I picked it as one of my top 10 reads in 2020.)

Listen in to the episode where we share a lot more tips, suggestions, and motivation for starting and sticking with good habits.

In This Episode: 

[00:33] We’re back! Here’s why we took a 3-week break.

[02:29] A quick rundown of our holidays and how they were different than in the past.

[05:12] Jesse shares some of the details of his hunting trip.

[08:32] The string light saga.

[12:09] After almost three years, we now have a working gas fireplace!

[13:13] The combination of Audible and Scribd is saving Jesse’s life these days.

[14:25] Both Jesse and I finished the same audiobook at the same time and we have thoughts on it.

[20:19] We’re talking all about how to develop new habits.

[22:53] Keeping it simple is the best thing. Just pick one or two habits to change.

[26:28] Why it’s important to write your new habit down.

[28:03] Make what you write down active instead of passive.

[28:58] Once you’ve figured out all of the details, make it public.

[29:50] Consistency is key.

[31:55] Give yourself grace and change the language that you use about yourself.

[33:30] Don’t forget to track your habit changes.

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player here. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

My Daily Habit Tracker Checklist

(My habit tracker from 2019)

In 2019, I chose the word Excellence for my Word of the Year. That year, I really focused on developing habits and practices to lead a more excellent life (not a perfect life nor a productive life, but an excellent life — which I define more here).

One of the practices I established during that year was tracking habits. I created a simple daily habit checklist on Numbers on my computer with some habits that I wanted to prioritize. I would print one out at the beginning of each week and then track them throughout the week.

Small Actions Add Up to Big Change

Halfway through 2019, I downloaded Atomic Habits and listened to it on the Libby app. Within just the first hour of listening, I was pretty sure it was going to be a 5-start book for me. And it was! In fact, I found it so insightful that I ended up buying a hard copy of the book and reading the hard copy again in 2020! (If you know me well, you know that that speaks volumes to how beneficial I thought the book was!)

One of the basic premises of Atomic Habits is that small actions done consistently add up to big changes over time. These actions can be bad habits or good habits. In the book, the author provides powerful and actionable ideas on how to change course and develop disciplined practices… but it a way that serves you instead of stifling you.

Another principle that Atomic Habits highly encourages is the concept of habit tracking. James Clear shares many examples of how this can be done and how it can make such a difference.

I was excited that I had already developed the habit of habit tracking (though I had to chuckle that I was creating a habit to track habits!) and I can attest to the fact that it makes such a difference in my life.

If we say we want to change something, but we don’t proactively make a plan for how and when and what we’re going to do to actually make changes, there’s a good chance nothing will actually change. A habit tracker is a great way to actually put feet to our goals.

(My daily habit tracker for 2021 — I just realized that I need to change the year in the header from 2020 to 2021!)

How the Habit Tracker Works for Me

If you’re wanting to implement a habit tracker into your life, I encourage you to start by defining what habits you want to incorporate into your life. I based the bulk of my habits that I track off of my yearly goals and my personal priorities.

What is one or two habits that could make the most difference or would bring the most positive change into your life? We’ll talk more about how to do this in my post tomorrow on how to start and stick with habits.

  • Once I decide on the habits I want to work on, I create a simple chart on Numbers (you could use any sort of simple computer program that will create a table to do this. Or, you could even just hand draw one and make copies! My biggest advice is to keep it simple, though. If you are new to habits, only include a few on your tracker.
  • At the beginning of the week, I print out the Daily Habits Tracker and stick it in my notebook where I write my daily to do list. I already have the habit of check my Google calendar to write my time-blocked to do list each evening before bed, so having the habits tracker right there in my notebook reminds me to check it and track how I’m doing every day.
  • I know that I won’t always completely every habit on the chart every day, but my hope is to aim to check 5 boxes in each line of my checklist every week. For me, that’s what success looks like.

Does This Create More Stress?

Some of you might feel like a checklist seems over-bearing or not grace-filled or something that could cause stress. For my personality, it’s actually motivating. It helps remind me of my pre-determined priorities, it keeps me on track, and it serves as a sort of built-in course corrector.

Plus, if I find that I’m feeling exhausted or stressed or discouraged, a quick glance at the list might provide some clues as to why. For instance, if I feel like I’m not as connected with my kids, maybe it’s because I’m not spending as much one-on-one time with them. Or if I’m feeling depleted, maybe it’s because I haven’t been consistently prioritizing my health.

I love that — at a glance — I can see how I’m doing at prioritizing my priorities. Overall, I found that this simple practice has made such a difference in helping my yearly goals become a weekly reality.

Best of all, you can easily change or move any of the habits at any time, as seasons of life or priorities change. (You’ll notice a big difference in my habit chart from 2019 and 2020 because my life has changed a lot!)

Coming tomorrow: Practical advice for how to start and stick with better habits

Do you have any questions about the Daily Habit Tracker Checklist? Ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

P.S. Have you read my post on How I Plan My Days Without Using a Planner?