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How I Broke Free From Legalism

(Read the story behind this photo here.)

Well, this week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show is all about Christmas and Christmas candy and cleaning your house for Christmas and one of our family’s favorite stocking stuffer traditions… and then we take a hard turn and Jesse interviews me as I share more of our story and specifically how I broke free from legalism.

(I know, those two topics have nothing to do with one another — but hey, you just never know what you’re going to get when you tune into the podcast each week!)

To be honest, I didn’t know how my conversation with Jesse was going to go as we shared this part of our story. I knew there were things I wanted and needed to share. I’ve shared them with people who know me personally and I’ve briefly touched on things in posts here and there, but I’ve never publicly opened up about those first few years of blogging like I did in this episode.

If you were around in the early days of blogging and read my original blog, I think you will want to listen to this episode. If you weren’t around when I was first blogging, but you have been curious how I went from being extremely conservative to where I am today, you will definitely want to listen to this episode.

By the way, I was a little apprehensive about how this conversation was going to go, so I asked Jesse if he could lead the interview instead of me. He did a fantastic job and I loved getting to have our roles reversed a little on the podcast! (Though, of course, he had to remind me about being irritable during the few month of my pregnancy! ;))

We also share about some of our first few businesses (yup, was not our first business — oh no! We tried quite a few things before then!), our business failures, and I share candidly what I learned from those. Plus, we end the episode answering a listener question about how to get over your fear of traveling.

By the way, be sure to download the 2-Hour House Cleaning Checklist. It’s perfect for this time of year when we’re either hosting guests or wanting to get our house in more orderly shape heading into 2019!

In This Episode:

[01:26] – It’s all things Christmas around here this episode! I talk about our favorite Christmas candy, tell you how my 2-hour House Cleaning Checklist has saved my life and how it might be the perfect checklist for your holiday season, and share about a fun family tradition for stocking stuffers we have each year that is inexpensive, easy, and so memorable.

[06:54] – Jesse joins me today, but we flip things around and he serves as the podcast “host” and interviews me.

[9:33] – When I realized I was pregnant (surprise!) and was so sick and had to quit working, I went online to try to learn how to make money at home. Listen in to learn about something I thought would be a good idea.

[11:52] – Jesse and I talk about how that first business idea worked (or, more accurately, didn’t work). We discuss what we thought would be a great idea and why it didn’t really work. 

[14:34] – We talk about one of the valuable lessons I learned from that business, and how it helped with future projects.

[16:10] – I talk about why I ended up starting my first blog, what it was called and why I’m pretty embarrassed about it now. I share how God used atheist and feminists (many of whom came and left very negative comments on my blog!) to open my eyes up to my legalism and to help me begin to start in on a journey of breaking free from legalism. 

[21:32] – And then I get really honest and share how I’ve learned some important life-changing lessons through all of this and I ask forgiveness of those I offended with my very black and white, abrasive, legalistic blog posts.

[25:25] – This week’s question comes from Carrie, who asks if I was afraid to travel overseas and whether I have any insights or tips on being comfortable in a foreign country. Jesse and I both share about what has helped us and how we’ve overcome our anxiety about traveling and long flights.

Links and Resources:

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. 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.

Sponsor Spotlight

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

Oops! I accidentally went over the grocery budget this week!

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, 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.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

Well, y’all, I had thought I was about $6 under budget this week… and then I went to add up my receipts and discovered I was actually $1.72 over budget.

Whoops! I realized that I read one receipt as saying I had spent $36 when it actually said I saved $36 and spent $42. Oh well!

I have a little wiggle room in the budget since I’ve been under budget a number of weeks, so it will be okay. But lesson learned: Don’t just glance at your receipt before heading to the store!

(I keep my receipts and then use those to tally how much I’ve spent for the week. I know; that’s ridiculously old fashioned, but it’s usually what works for me. Maybe I should move up to something more sophisticated and techie!! Jesse does track it all in YNAB, but he’s usually a few days behind in tracking and inputting everything, so I usually just go off of my receipts!)

I try to stick as close to the $70 mark as possible — it’s a fun challenge for me PLUS I love getting to show you how it works for our family and the deals that I find!

At any rate, here’s what I bought this week:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • Back to Nature Cookies — on sale for $0.99 when you buy 5 participating items, plus used a $1.50/2 coupon that printed while I was checking out = $3.45 for 5 boxes (my kids were SO excited about these!!)
  • Lemon Juice — $2.49
  • Alo Juice — Free with free Friday e-coupon
  • 2 dozen Happy Eggs — marked down to $2.49 per dozen
  • Hillshire Ham — on closeout for $2.09
  • Planter’s Peanuts — $2.49 when you buy 5 participating items, plus used $1.50/1 Kroger digital coupon = $0.99
  • 1 loaf of bread — marked down to $1.39
  • Clementines — $3.99 for a 3-lb bag
  • 3 bags of Sweet Potatoes — marked down to $0.99
  • 1 bag of grapefruit — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 packages of Cheddar Bratwurst — marked down to $1.79 each
  • 4 packages of Eckrich sausage — $1.50 each when you buy 5 participating items
  • 5 boxes of Simple Popped Popcorn — $1 per box when you buy 5 participating items (plus each box has a free Redbox movie rental code in it!)
  • 1 container organic Spring Mix (no romaine!) — marked down to $1.79
  • Total with tax: $42.38

Psst! Need some help with cutting your grocery budget? Check out my series: 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget.

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

Cashback earned this week: $0.10 from Ibotta for submitting my receipt and 284 points for submitting my receipt to Fetch rewards (that’s basically the equivalent of $0.28).

Total spent this week: $71.72

Also, I just had to show you this 52-week Meal Planner that my friend, Erin, from Simple Purposeful Living sent me. 

There’s space to write out your menu and then your shopping list — and then it’s perforated so you can tear it out and take your shopping list with you to the store!

Aldi shoppers, I thought this would make you smile. (And excuse the fact that the meme says “Aldi’s” not Aldi and “grill’s” not grills.)

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. 🙂


  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon (from the freezer) Yogurt, Hard Boiled Eggs, Banana Bread


  • Hard Boiled Eggs, Banana Bread, Cheese/Crackers, Avocados, Salad, Leftovers (for Jesse & Me)
  • Ham Sandwiches, Clementines, Cheese/Crackers, Yogurt, Cookies, Hard Boiled Eggs (for the kids — They are in charge of their own lunches.)


  • Yogurt, Cheese/Crackers, Popcorn, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cookies


  • Saturday: Dinner out
  • Sunday: Fend For Yourself — snack-y food and leftovers
  • Monday: Peppers & Sausage over Brown Rice
  • Tuesday:  Pork Sandwiches, Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Wednesday: Whole Wheat Pancakes, Bacon, Grapefruit
  • Thursday: Turkey Meatballs, Sweet Potato Fries
  • Friday: Leftover Turkey Meatballs & Sweet Potato Fries

What I Wore Today: The perfect outfit for an at-home Saturday

(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.)

It’s a quiet at-home Saturday and I picked a comfy and cozy outfit to wear — all that are pieces I got from Amazon or Proozy at great prices!

My sweatshirt is from Amazon and I adore it — and it’s just $19.99 and comes in a lot of different colors.

By the way, the photo on Amazon of the sweatshirt makes it look more distressed, but mine came and it’s brighter and more shiny as shown by these photos.

I pulled the drawstring out of the hoodie part since they were really long and you either need to cut them or just pull them out. Also, the pocket stitching is a little loose and it’s come undone a little bit with a lot of washes, but otherwise, it’s held up really well.

My leggings are some of my favorites and I wear these so often and they are as low as $18.99 on Amazon. They are so comfy and they fit really well. Plus, they have held up well with many, many washings (I’ve had them for quite a long time!)

And my shoes are my new Nike shoes from Proozy and they are just $45 shipped through Sunday night! (Be sure to use coupon code MSM45 to get this deal!).

Oh and my tumbler is my very favorite Contigo tumbler. It’s one of my secret weapons to help me drink a gallon of water every day.

By the way, would you be interested in seeing posts like this occasionally where I share an outfit and details on where I got everything? Let me know!

Brigette’s $86 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6


1 48-oz carton Canola Oil – $1.79

1 24-oz jar Honey – $4.69

1 5-lb bag All Purpose Flour – $1.15

1 bag Powdered Sugar – $0.95

1 pkg Turkey Bacon – $1.89

1 10-oz bag Pecan Halves – $3.99

1 10-oz bag Chopped Pecans – $3.99

1 32-oz bag Pinto Beans – $1.45

1 24-oz jar Pasta Sauce – $0.85

1 jar Garlic Powder – $0.99

1 jar Cinnamon – $0.99

1 large canister Old Fashioned Oats – $2.39

1 large box Corn Flakes – $0.99

1 box Crispy Rice – $1.15

2 boxes Honey Nut Oats – $2.30

2 jars Organic Salsa – $2.70

1 pkg Pepperoni – $1.95

1 pkg Turkey Pepperoni – $2.19

1 16-oz bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $2.15

1 3-lb bag Frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts – $1.39

2 cans Chicken Breasts – $3.10

1 large jar Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.89

1 head Cauliflower – $1.85

2 bags Riced Cauliflower – $3.78

1 carton Organic Grape Tomatoes – $1.39

1 bunch Organic Bananas (1.94lbs $0.51/lb) – $0.99

1 bunch Bananas (1.53lbs @ $0.38/lb) – $0.58

1 5-lb bag Red Potatoes – $1.49

1 bag Frozen Organic Broccoli Florets – $1.09

1 pkg Romaine Hearts – $1.99

1 3-lb bag Apples – $1.99

1 carton Organic Strawberries – $1.99

1 16-oz bag Mini Cucumbers – $1.69

1 large tub Organic Spring Mix – $3.99

3 bags Baby Carrots – $2.25

1 pkg Broccoli Crowns – $1.39

2 pkgs Blackberries – $1.78

1 3-lb bag Mandarin Oranges – $1.99

2 64-oz cartons Orange Juice – $3.38

1 gallon Whole Milk – $1.32

1 32-oz carton Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt – $3.29

2 dozen Eggs – $2.20

1 loaf Sandwich Bread – $0.65

1 pkg Tortillas (I can’t find these anywhere on my recipt!)

Total: $86.00

Weekly Menu Plan


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

Cereal, Toast, Yogurt, Fruit, Oatmeal, Homemade Granola, Fried/Scrambled/Hard Boiled Eggs, Veggie Omelets


Tossed Salad Bar (Chicken, Romaine, Spring Mix, Craisins, Pecans, Chopped Fruit and Veggies, Hard Boiled Eggs, Shredded Cheese, Dressing), Crackers x 3

PB and J Sandwiches, Carrots, Applesauce x 2

Leftovers x 2


Build-Your-Own-Burritos (pinto beans, seasoned ground venison, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, plain greek yogurt), Broccoli

Pinto Beans and Ham (ham is from my freezer stockpile), Homemade Cornbread

Cheesy Hamburger Soup, Make-Ahead Butterhorns,

Spaghetti All Carbonara, Breadsticks, Roasted Cauliflower

Italian Chicken, Parmesan Cauliflower Rice, Easy Whole Wheat Bread, Oranges

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Broccoli


We Paid Cash: an RV

A testimony from Jill of Organizational Toast:

Five years ago, our little family of four moved from Florida to the midwest. Neither my husband or I knew much about where we were moving, but we vowed  we would take every opportunity to travel and explore our new home. We quickly realized we loved being on the road and that there were so many amazing places to visit!

Two years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to purchase an RV to explore even more. We also knew we would only buy an RV if we could pay cash. And we did!

So how did we do it?

1. We Researched

We spent months researching RVs and came up with a reasonable budget based on the information we gathered.

We went to multiple RV dealers to compare prices, models and features. We went to each dealer armed with pertinent questions related to pricing that we had found on the web.

Once we gathered all our information we looked over our finances and picked an RV that met our needs and that we could reasonably pay cash for. We chose a purchase price of $15,000.

2. We Set a Savings Goal

We set a 1-year goal to save $10,000. We already had $10,000 in savings, but we didn’t want to empty our savings account. We came up with a savings plan and each month, we put aside $850 in a dedicated savings account.

Having a separate savings account helped us stay motivated.

3. We Found Money in Our Budget

Creating and sticking to a monthly budget was so important to reaching our savings goal. We already have $500 a month dedicated to savings, so we only had to find $350 more each more.

Here are a few ways we found that additional money

  • My husband started taking his lunch to work
  • I ramped up my meal planning, especially frugal and meatless meals
  • We implemented 2 No-Spend weekends a month

Here is where it gets interesting.

About 8 months into our year of saving, one of the dealers we visited contacted us about an RV they had on sale. It was still $3500 OVER what we had in our savings. We let the salesman know we would only pay in cash and that we were willing to wait until we had the full amount saved before we made a purchase.

We went back and forth with the RV salesman and even got a call from the sales manager promising us great rates on a loan and that the deal wouldn’t be around forever. We stuck to our guns and simply let them know we would only pay cash and we were willing to wait.

After a couple more phone calls, the dealer lowered the price to meet our budget. We dropped off our check and drove off with an RV the following week!!

We have built so many beautiful memories in our RV since we purchased it and are so grateful we can enjoy it without the burden of a loan!

Jill is a work at home mom to two sweet and crazy kiddos and the creator of Organizational Toast. Her goal is inspire other moms to get organized and simplify their lives with uncomplicated strategies to manage their finances, home, and life.