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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

How I Listen to Audiobooks for FREE

It’s no secret that I absolutely love books. And I try to invest at least a little bit of time every single day reading.

But on really full days, fitting in reading time can be a challenge. Which is why I’m so grateful for audiobooks! They are the perfect solution to making reading a priority — even if you aren’t able to physically sit down and read a book.

However, if you buy audiobooks online, they are often quite expensive — typically more than you’d pay for the paperback or hardback copy. Which is why I’m a fan of finding ways to listen to audiobooks for FREE instead.

Back in 2016, I told you about 8 Ways to Get Audiobooks for FREE. If you haven’t read that post, you’ll want to go read it right now.

I talked specifically about the Overdrive and Hoopla apps in that post — apps that allow you to “check out” audiobooks for free from your local library. Most libraries have since switched over to the Libby app, an app that is much more user-friendly and less clunky to use. And I have become a huge fan of it.

I liked the Overdrive app and the Hoopla app, but I LOVE the Libby app! There are so many different audiobooks to choose from on it and they are all at my favorite price point: FREE!

How the Libby App Works:

  1. Download the Libby app and connect it to your local library card.
  2. Search through the app for a book or audiobook you want to check out (you can search by genre, title, author, book format, availability, and more).
  3. Once you find a book you want to “check out”, you either place a hold on it (if it’s not available) or choose to borrow it.
  4. After borrowing a book, you get to keep it in your account for 14 days. After that, it automatically is loaned back to the library for another patron to be able to check out.

One drawback: Many of the popular books have quite a long waiting list, so if you don’t finish listening within 14 days, you won’t be able to pick back up where you left off until you wait on the waiting list again. However, there are many great books that don’t have a long waiting list — or any waiting list at all!

A Few Tips:

  • I try to pick audiobooks that are no more than 8-9 hours in length because that’s a manageable length for me to get through before the audiobook needs to be “returned” to the library.
  • I always listen to the books on 1.25 speed — you can’t tell a difference. And it means that it speeds it up just a little bit.
  • Be sure to listen to a sample ahead of time. Some of the narrators are amazing and some are just annoying to me. I can’t spend 8 hours listening to a voice that is just annoying.
  • I’ve found that certain genres are best for listening to. I especially love great biographies and fiction. I’ve found that non-fiction isn’t as enjoyable or beneficial to listen to. I prefer to read those since I’m more of a visual learner. Try different genres and figure out which you prefer.

When I Find Time to Listen to Audiobooks:

  • While I’m getting ready in the morning — hair, makeup, cleaning up our room & bathroom.
  • When I’m working in the kitchen — washing dishes, cooking, etc.
  • When I’m driving without the kids — heading out on an errand, to school drop-off, etc.

For me, this adds up to about 30-60 minutes of audiobook listening time per day! And I can easily get through one book in 10-12 days this way!

Other Places to Download Audiobooks for FREE:

Librivox — This site offers thousands of public domain audiobooks — for free. The audiobooks are read by volunteers so the quality isn’t always as professional as what you can download from the library. However, they are free for anyone to listen to on their computer, iPod or other mobile device, or to burn onto a CD. (Note: One of my readers mentioned in the comments that many of the classics have multiple versions available read by different readers, so try a few different versions to find the reader you like best!)

LoyalBooks — This is another HUGE directory of free audiobooks and ebooks. This site used to be called BooksShouldBeFree. It offers a wide variety of public domain audiobooks.

YouTube — Believe it or not, YouTube offers a number of free audiobooks. Some of these are illegally recorded, others are not. To find an audiobook on YouTube, search for the name of the book + audiobook to see if it pulls it up. There are a different YouTube channels that offer free audiobooks, too, such as Greatest Audiobooks and AudiobooksFree.

Open Culture — This site offers a listing of 700 different audiobooks you can download free. Most of the links are to iTunes downloads or MP3 downloads.

Free Classic Audiobooks — This site offers free audiobook downloads in mp3 and in m4b audiobook format for iTunes and the iPod. It’s a pretty old site, but it looks like they update it with new audiobooks fairly regularly.

Learn Out Loud — This site has a Free Audiobook section where they offer 3,000 different audiobooks for free. There are quite a few good selections to choose from. They list free audiobooks from across the web plus some you can download directly through LearnOutLoud.com.

Podcasts — One of my readers recommended the Sparkle Stories and StoryNory podcasts. They offer free audiobooks for kids.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, when you do you find time to listen to them? I’d love to know!

Related Links:

TopGolf, baseball, homework, and snacks

Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂

This week, I enjoyed getting to make some more meals in my crockpot and share them with you as part of the Eat at Home Challenge.

I wrote a post on How We Afford Snacks on a Tight Grocery Budget.

Silas pitched his first inning of a baseball game and did a great job!

His new school is really stretching him academically but in a way that motivates him, not frustrates him (well, most days!) I’ve been so proud to watch him really put his head down and work so hard on his projects and papers and homework and to see the sense of accomplishment he gets from working hard on something and completing it well.

We celebrated Jesse’s and Brian’s (our friend) birthday by going to TopGolf with friends. I’m not skilled at all when it comes to golf, but we still had a great time together!

I love watching this boy play his heart out on the ball field.

From My Heart…

They started fighting one night last week during the before dinner prayer.

One child began praying and the other child cut in upset that they weren’t getting to pray and said heatedly, “It’s MY turn to pray tonight!” And then started their own prayer.

You guys. This is life sometimes. I have visions of these heartwarming family dinners together — and then we can’t even make it through the before dinner prayer without arguing and fighting.

And of all the things to fight about… they are fighting about who gets to pray!!!

But despite the rough start to dinner, we ended up having great conversations around the table and had fun picking a new show to watch together after dinner (we’re trying out Monk — have you seen it?).

No day is perfect. Just like no family picture is perfect…

My parents hired a photographer to come take group photos and family photos when we were together in Breckenridge — which was an amazing idea.

Only thing is, we had a really full week that week and had packed at the last minute and hadn’t really had time to think through what we were going to wear for pictures to coordinate with everyone else.

So it was a bit of a mad, scramble, dash to pull off pictures! What you don’t know is that I’m hiding my shoe strap that is broken. (I forgot it had broken until I put them on minutes before pictures!) We had to run to Walmart at the last minute to find a shirt for one child who forgot to pack something for the pictures. And the girls borrowed my scarves the morning of the pictures because they didn’t like their outfits.

Despite the mishaps, there is beauty. And that is really how I’ve been trying to live my life… looking past the discouragements, the daily frustrations, the mishaps and miscommunications and mistakes… and looking for the beauty.

Because there is beauty and goodness around us, if we will be stop to take notice of it. And the more we look for it, the more we will see it in the middle of our imperfect and messy lives.

2018 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.

**Progress: 58 books read so far this year

2. Read through the entire Bible.

**Progress: I’m using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan and am all caught up— yay!

3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.

**Progress: 36 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 358 miles run so far

Marriage Goal

5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.

Family Goals

6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.

**Progress: We’ve finished three books so far.

7. Take the kids to South Africa. We took this trip in July. What a memorable experience!

8. Go on a family road trip.

**Progress: We’ve been researching some options for this and are planning to make this happen over Fall Break. Stay tuned!

Financial Goals

9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.

**Progress: The workout room is DONE and the office is almost done!

10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)

Business Goals

11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.

12. Launch 5 new courses.

**Progress: We launched 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January, Content Creation 101 in February, 4-Week Blog Coaching Program in March, Email List Setup 101 in March, Make Over Your Mornings LIVE in April, the Facebook Live Masterclass in May, and we launched Build Your List 101 in June!

Costco, Tough Mudders, Crockpots, and Camping

Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂

I posted asking you all about whether you thought I should get a Costco membership and MAN, you all delivered! There were 100+ comments on the original posts + so many other comments I got on social media and emails you all sent in! Part of me just wants to try shopping at Costco for a few months, but the other part of me thinks that many of you are very right: I won’t be able to beat the prices I currently get.

Also, I found out that you can buy seaweed at Kroger (I had no idea since I’ve never purchased it before!) and you can usually get it for less than a $1 per package by pairing coupons with sales. I also heard that it’s even less expensive at Asian grocery stores. So I guess that 10 packages of seaweed for $8.99 at Costco wasn’t such an amazing deal after all!

I started the Eat at Home Challenge on Thursday and I am so enjoying getting on Facebook Live at 6:50 a.m. in the mornings to share what I’m cooking for dinner.

Plus, having dinner all made before our day starts makes the afternoons and evenings so much calmer! I’d love to have you join me live tomorrow morning, if you’re up at 6:50 a.m. CST!

I got this new book in the mail from my friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee. AND I got to interview her on my soon-to-be-released podcast! It officially launches next week and I am crazy excited about it and have been having so much fun learning a brand-new skillset! (Sign up here if you want to get to hear the very first episode before anyone else does!)

Jennifer sent me a copy of her book and these beautiful cards that made me smile! 🙂

On Friday, we left for a weekend camping trip with our Community Group. I brought my Instant Pot for the first time to use for dinner — and it worked like a charm!

Psst! Looking for some of my newbie camping advice? Check out my post from our last camping trip on How We Prepared for Our Very First Camping Trip.

After we got camp all set up and ate dinner, we began with a reading and prayer from our pastor.

(Kaitlynn took some amazing pictures of the lights.)

He was the only boy on the camping trip, but he did great at holding his own and having fun with all the girls!

One of the families brought their dog — and the kids enjoyed playing with him! (Not sure why Silas had one shoe on and one is missing! Who knows?!)

They made a bunch of mud creations with the clay in the lake. The girls then painted them and sold them to the parents. I thought it was quite creative entrepreneurship!

A good ‘ole fashioned game of “chicken”.

We rented a camper trailer this time around in order to try to help us sleep better, make the set up and tear down quicker (since we had the Tough Mudder on Sunday), and help our outdoor allergies not be so awful from camping like they were last time we went tent camping.

Well, it was the best thing ever! We rented it from an RV share site and got it for a day and a half for less than the price of a hotel room. And we absolutely loved it! I’ll probably be writing a complete post on our experience because so many people asked me to do so after I shared about it on Instagram Stories.

By the way, it only took us a few hours to get all packed up and out the door this time — as opposed to 10 hours last time. It helped tremendously that we already had most of the supplies in tubs and I had put together the Master Camping List last time around.

(You can read my post on the Master List of Things You Should Take Camping here.)

The four families who came (one family from our Community Group couldn’t make it, sadly!), all were each in charge of their own breakfasts and lunches, but we had Communal Dinners and everyone pitched in and brought stuff.

We did hot dogs and brats the first night (I brought all of the ones I’d gotten from various Kroger deals and markdowns the last two months — I had them in the freezer and it was plenty to feed all 20 of us!) and then we did a Taco/Fajita night the second night. This worked so well and made it so that no one had to do a lot of work.

Sunday morning, we got up bright and early for the Tough Mudder. It was our third time to participate in a Tough Mudder (see details on our first Tough Mudder here — look how tiny our kids were then!!)

I had been looking forward to the Tough Mudder so much because we had convinced some of our best friends to do it with us. It had been SO hot on Saturday, so we were worried it was going to be too hot today. But it was perfect. Warm, but cloudy and the perfect temperature.

We loved getting to hang out, walk 10 miles together, push and encourage each other on the obstacles, and challenge ourselves outside our comfort zones.

(We didn’t get any pictures on the actual course, but one of the volunteers at the finish line offered to take these pictures at the finish line and text them to us!)

I ended up only skipping one of the 23 obstacles this time — which I was super excited about since I had always bypassed three obstacles in the past. I wasn’t able to complete two of the obstacles that I tried out (both requiring upper arm strength — something I really need to improve in!), but the fact that I didn’t chicken out and went for it and tried it encouraged me.

Plus, the entire Mudder as a whole just felt so much easier and fun than the two we had done in the past. I think that the more you do hard things, the less scary and daunting they become!

If you ever get a chance to do a Tough Mudder, I highly, highly recommend it.

By the way, the tickets are expensive, but you can sometimes find them discounted on Groupon (that’s where we got ours) or you can get in free or highly discounted if you volunteer at the event the day before.

2018 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.

**Progress: 58 books read so far this year

2. Read through the entire Bible.

**Progress: I’m using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan and am all caught up— yay!

3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.

**Progress: 34 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 348 miles run so far

Marriage Goal

5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.

Family Goals

6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.

**Progress: We’ve finished three books so far.

7. Take the kids to South Africa. We took this trip in July. What a memorable experience!

8. Go on a family road trip.

**Progress: We’ve been researching some options for this and are planning to make this happen over Fall Break. Stay tuned!

Financial Goals

9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.

**Progress: The workout room is DONE and the office is almost done!

10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)

Business Goals

11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.

12. Launch 5 new courses.

**Progress: We launched 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January, Content Creation 101 in February, 4-Week Blog Coaching Program in March, Email List Setup 101 in March, Make Over Your Mornings LIVE in April, the Facebook Live Masterclass in May, and we launched Build Your List 101 in June!

A movie, an online class, and an Aldi trip

Welcome to my weekly Slow Day post, inspired by Monica from The Homespun Heart. My Word for 2018 is Slow and, in the spirit of that word, I’m taking one day each week (Wednesday) off — I’ll be unplugged and offline and plan to move at a slower pace, take time to do things that refresh me, and just really focus on being present and savoring the moment.

Each week, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into my Slow Day. Enjoy a little peek into our lives!

I started the day attending chapel at Silas and Kaitlynn’s school.

I love getting to sit with them and spend a little time in their world on Wednesdays.

And then I headed to Discipleship Group.

We kicked off our Lesson 1 meeting by talking about stories and how each of us have a story — and how in light of the Gospel, we can see Creation, the Fall, Redemption and Restoration in our stories.

In our small group time, we each had to draw a picture of a little screenshot of where we’re at in life right now and share that with our group (how we’re feeling right where we’re at in life). This brought such honest discussion and we had really heartfelt conversations as a result.

After Discipleship Group, Jesse and I went to a movie together. (Middle of the day dates are the BEST!)

We saw Mission Impossible: Fallout — which we both enjoyed, though it made me want to go back and watch the rest of the Mission Impossible movies.

After I helped the kids with homework, I laid down and read a little bit and then took a power nap.

And then it was time for dinner and to prep for my online blogging class that I was teaching. (Brian on my team came over to help run the class and get everything set up for it!)

{By the way, I wanted to teach this class during a middle of the week evening, but the only free night that worked to do it was Wednesday. Even though it’s my off day, I made an exception and did it. And I actually really enjoyed doing it on a Wednesday since I felt like I came to the class so fresh and ready to teach after being offline all day!}

We sometimes get creative in how we set things up! This time, we used a huge stack of my coloring books to hold my computer! 🙂

When I was finished, Jesse was on his way home from picking the girls up from church.

(By the way, Jesse and Silas went to Aldi for me while I was doing the class. He said that they split up and both took half the list. Silas told me how it compared prices and made sure to get the store brand not the name brand and the best deal on everything. While it’s pretty simple an easy to do this at Aldi, it made my mama heart so happy to hear him doing this all on his own! I feel like I have accomplished a big life goal that he knows how to grocery shop on a budget and find the best deals!)

I got everything ready for the Eat at Home Challenge live video (since I was going to be working out with my friend, Melissa, at 6:15 a.m. the next morning and was supposed to be on live video at 6:50 a.m.!)

I even washed the potatoes and had them ready to go!

Kaitlynn finished up some homework while I worked in the kitchen.

And Silas made a bedtime snack of macaroni and cheese. (That boy loves his mac & cheese!)

Then, we all hung out and talked for awhile and then the kids went to bed and I worked on prepping for podcast interviews the next day. And then it was time to bed for me, too!

My #1 Tip to Have Stress-Free Afternoons & Evenings

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

One of the best ways I’ve discovered to feel more organized and less frazzled in the afternoons and evenings is to have a plan for dinner and have it already made before the kids come home from school.

That way, when they come home, I can just be present with them instead of trying to fix dinner and oversee homework and help kids with projects and get ready for whatever activities we have in the evening. Plus, it also saves us money because we’re not running to the store or through the drive-thru at 5:30 p.m. at night!

I’ve found that the best way to make this happen is to either have dinner already made and just needing to be heated up or to put dinner in the crockpot in the morning. I look for quick and easy meals that only take minutes to make in the morning or can be pulled out of the freezer and heated up in the Instant Pot or Crockpot or oven.

Want to Try Prepping Your Dinners in the Morning?

I want to challenge you to try implementing this habit of having dinner prepped in the morning in your home and see how it works for you. And to help you out, I’m going to do a fun Eat at Home challenge on my blog and on Facebook Live and Instagram Stories for the next 6 days — where I’ll be prepping our dinners on live video before we head to school in the mornings (I’ll be on live around 6:50-7:10 a.m.).

I’ll likely be in my workout clothes with no makeup on and the kids will be doing last-minute prep for school. It’s going to be real and raw and unedited… and I can guarantee there will likely be some mishaps or real-life scenes that take place. But I want to bring you into our morning and our kitchen to encourage you that you don’t have to do it perfectly for it to still make a big difference!

By the way, I’ll be using the Eat at Home Menu Planning Service for all of my recipes. If you wish you could simplify dinners and plan ahead but you feel like you just don’t know what to make or you don’t have time to plan meals, I highly recommend this Menu Planning Service. I tried them out for the first time last year and promptly fell in love!

And I’m going to show you how it works in real-time on my videos and in my blog posts! (And I’ve got a special discount for you at the bottom of this post!)

How This Challenge Will Work

The challenge will run for 6 days — September 13-18, 2018. Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday morning around 6:50 a.m. to 7:10 a.m. CT, I’ll be on Facebook Live prepping our dinner to throw in the slow cooker for the day so that when 6 p.m. rolls around dinner is READY!

(I’m taking the weekend off since we’ll be camping with our Community Group on Saturday morning and running the Tough Mudder on Sunday morning.)

Every day, in addition to doing a Facebook Live video on my Facebook Page, I’ll be posting here on the blog what I made that day, along with a link to my video (in case you missed it).

My hope is that this will inspire you with some new recipe ideas, encourage you to not wait until the last minute to think about what you’re having for dinner, and motivate you to eat at home more (even on busy nights!) so you can save money.

I’d love for you to join me in this challenge! To participate, go join the Facebook Page here so you can share what you are making every night and see what readers all over the country (and world!) are making for dinner each night, too!

(You can see all of the recipes I made in a recent Eat at Home Challenge + all of my videos by clicking here.)

Need Some Quick & Easy Recipe Ideas?

Like I said, I’ll be following the Eat at Home Cooks Slow Cooker Menu Plan. I love this menu planning service and I think you’ll see why after you watch my videos! It’s the best menu planning service I’ve ever tried — and I’ve tried quite a few different ones!

Here’s what you get when you subscribe:

  • An entire month of Traditional Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Slow Cooker Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of Whole Food Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • An entire month of No Sugar, No Flour Menu Plans, including weekly grocery lists and printable recipe instructions
  • Each menu plan comes with recipes created for small family (3-4 servings) and large family (6-8 servings)
  • Color-coded grocery lists make it easy to swap out ingredients or whole meals
  • Printable Menus to hang on the fridge or near your calendar, so you can easily see what’s for dinner that week and your family can too
  • Access to the entire month at once!
  • 1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – a new plan each month to stock your freezer with 6 meals in 1 hour!

You can choose to stick with just the traditional menu plan or just the slow cooker menu plan or just the whole foods menu plan or just the No Flour, No Sugar plan. Or, you can rotate different menu plans on different weeks, depending upon what you feel like cooking or how much time you have!

And as a special offer for my followers, you can get 30% off the price of the Eat at Home menu plan subscription when you use coupon code FALL at checkout. That makes the monthly subscription $9.80 or the annual subscription just $58.80 ($1.13 per week!!)

If you struggle to make menu plans and would love for someone to make them for you + make a grocery list for you, it’s well worth spending a few dollars every week to let Eat at Home Cooks do the work for you.

Go read more about this incredible menu-planning service here. 

(Oh and they have a fantastic money-back guarantee if you think you want to try it out but aren’t sure whether it will work for you or not!)

I know that many of you are in the middle of getting back into rhythms and routines after summer break so I hope this Eat At Home Challenge will inspire you with simple and easy meals that you can make in the morning before your kids head out the door to school or before you head to work or before you start your day and then you won’t have to think about dinner the rest of the day!

Are you joining us for the Eat at Home Challenge? If so, leave a comment and let us know!