Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

10 FREE Ways to Keep the Romance Alive

Keeping the Romance Alive

I reached over last night and took his hand and said, “I really like you.”

It might seem like such a simple gesture, but after 17 years of marriage, I’m so grateful that we don’t just love each, we LIKE each other, too.

A good marriage doesn’t just happen; it requires two very different people to be willing to put forth time, effort, and sacrifice.

To choose their spouse everyday — on the good days and the bad days.

Faithfulness and leaning in and loving on the dark and difficult days.

To look for the good, to appreciate your differences, to ask forgiveness, and to be willing to extend forgiveness.

To stay when it’s hard, to persevere when it’s exhausting, to be a champion and cheerleader instead of a comparer and complainer.

A good marriage is work, but it’s worth it.

This week, on the podcast, Jesse and I share candidly about romance and intimacy and give you 10 ideas that have helped us keep the sparks flying (some of them are probably not what you’d expect!).

In This Episode: 

[01:12] In light of last week’s episode, I had to tell you that I literally broke up with my phone — unintentionally. 🙂

[03:11] What’s saving our lives? A percussion massage gun and drinking a gallon of water.

[09:18] I’m reading Killing the Rising Sun and Jesse is reading the He Reads Truth daily devotional.

[13:38] Romance and intimacy… let’s talk about some ways we’ve found to keep the spark alive.

[15:29] Jesse shares 5 of his suggestions.

[21:16] My 5 ideas — and we had to laugh at how my first idea correlated to his 5th idea!

[29:10] What would you add to our list? 

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.

This Week’s $60 ALDI and Kroger Shopping Trips (+ a different way of grocery shopping!)

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 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.

We’ve been using the Eat at Home Menu Plan service this week for our meals this past week. I wanted to demonstrate a different way to shop and cook for those who want to stick with a budget but don’t have time to go to multiple stores each week or shop markdowns/sales.

The Eat at Home Menu Plan service only goes on sale twice a year and it’s on sale through Tuesday at midnight for 30% off with coupon code HOME. You can get the annual plan for just $1.13/week with this code — and the code locks in the 30% off rate for the rest of your subscription!

We love this menu plan service and have personally found it to be super helpful during really full seasons of life. Check it out here.

I saw these Tearless Onions at Aldi last week. Have you purchased these before?? I’d never heard of them. Do they actually work and not make you cry when you cut an onion??

Aldi Shopping Trip — $42.75

Kroger Shopping Trip — $17.04

Dinners This Week

  • Sunday — marked down rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
  • Monday  —  grapefruit, Pumpkin Waffles, bacon
  • Tuesday — oranges, Broccoli Cheese Egg Casserole, Banana Muffins
  • Wednesday —  Slow Cooker Italian Chicken/Potatoes, Banana Muffins, green beans
  • Thursday — Slow Cooker Chicken a la King, Biscuits
  • Friday — Dinner out since Kathrynne had an out of town basketball game
  • Saturday — The kids had leftovers, Jesse and I went out with friends
  • Sunday —  Slow Cooker Cheeseburgers, Sweet Potato Fries

My Goals For This Week

This year, I’m doing weekly goals in 2020 instead of yearly goals. And I’m thrilled to report that it’s going so well!

While at first glance, it might seem like I didn’t accomplish that much on my goals list this past week (and I certainly didn’t accomplish as much as I have the last two weeks), I had a really productive and great week.

There was breathing room and laughter and memories made. There was a lot of forward momentum on projects. And there was a lot of time spent with Jesse, the kids, and friends.

To me, that’s what’s way more important than checking everything off my list!

One of my goals was to go through these tubs of mementos we have in the basement.

They have kind of gotten pretty disorganized over the years (and multiple moves) as we’ve just stuffed things in them.

I only made it through one tub, but it felt good to at least make some headway!

Here’s my update on last week’s goals:

2020: Week 3 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Get in 53,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.) 

2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband100 Ways to Love Your Wife100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to HearLive Love Now, and No Better Mom for the Job. Finish listening to Killing the Rising Sun.

3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. every week day.

4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (I did this every night but one night when Jesse was out of town!)

5. Drink a gallon of water every day. (I did this 5 of the days, so I’m excited about that!)

Home/Family Goals

6. Decluttering: Boxes of mementos, under bathroom sinks, and kitchen cupboards.  (I did some decluttering, but I didn’t end up finishing all of this.)

7. Finish reading Great Escapes of World War II aloud as a family.

8. Buy hats and coming home outfit for baby. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.)

Work/Blog Goals

9. Write chapter 2 of my manuscript. (Chapter 2 is really close to being done, but I want to sit with it for a few more days and rearrange and rework some things before I officially say that the first draft is done.)

Word of the Year Goals

10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.

11. Go to a movie with Jesse.

12. Go out to dinner with friends.

2020: Week 4 — Goals

Personal Goals

1. Get in 54,000 steps total. (I use the FitBit Ulta HR to track my steps every day.) 

2. Finish reading 100 Ways to Love Your Husband100 Ways to Love Your Wife,The Whole-Brain Child, and Live Love Now. Finish listening to Before and After.

3. Get up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

4. Go to bed by 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

5. Drink a gallon of water every day.

Home/Family Goals

6. Get new shower curtain, rug, and towels for upstairs bathroom.

7. Read 40 pages of Carry a Big Stick aloud as a family.

8. Get a crib and bedding. (I’m chipping away at my To Do Before Baby Comes list a little bit per week.)

Work/Blog Goals

9. Finish chapter 2 and write chapter 3 of my manuscript.

Word of the Year Goals

10. Pop popcorn and watch another classic movie as a family.

11. Take Kathrynne out on a date for her birthday.

12. Light candle and write notes to our Compassion children.

What are YOUR goals for this week? How did you do on last week’s goals? Tell us in the comments!

Gretchen’s $89 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 5


1 bag Tortilla Chips – $0.89

1 Grape Jelly – $1.29

2 Blueberries – $1.49 each

1 Crisp Rice Cereal – $1.45

2 gallons Milk – $2.38 each

1 lb Butter – $2.61

2 Half & Half – $1.55 each

1 Unsweetened Applesauce – $1.95

1 Sour Cream – $0.89

1 bag Shredded Mexican Cheese – $2.49

1 Taco Seasoning – $0.39

1 bag Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $2.79

2 cans Green Beans – $0.49 each

1 MooTubes – $1.55

1 box Granola Bars – $1.15

2 bags Steamed Peas/Corn – $0.79 each

3 Cucumbers – $0.49 each

1 pkg Yeast – $0.89 (not pictured)

1 Cream Cheese – $0.79

3 dozen Eggs – $0.99 each

1 loaf Bread – $0.95

1 pkg Tortillas – $1.19

1 pkg Hot Dog Buns – $0.85

0.95 lbs Roma Tomatoes – $0.47

1 pkg Hot Dogs – $0.79

1 Peanut Butter – $1.15

1 lb Turkey Breast – $3.99

1 box Cheese Crackers – $1.49

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup – $0.49

Total: $48.34


2 boxes Mom’s Best Cereal – $2.49 each, used 2 $1/1 e-coupon AND 2 $0.25/1 Ibotta rebate AND 2 $0.25/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.99 each after coupons and cash back

1 box Kroger Graham Crackers – $1.79, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $1.29 after coupon

1 Kroger Apple Juice – $1.49, used $0.45/1 Ibotta rebate AND $0.45/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.59 after cash back

2 Mott’s Fruit Snacks – $1.99, used $1/2 e-coupon – $1.49 after coupon

2 Kettle Chips – $2 each, used 2 $1/1 printable – $1 each after coupons

1 Kroger Peanut Butter – $1.79

1 Zia Pasta Sauce – $1

1 Mexican Salsa – $1.50, used $0.25/1 Ibotta rebate – $1.25 after rebate

2 The GFB Bar – $1.50 each, used 20% off e-coupon (no longer available) AND $2.19 Ibotta rebate – $0.10 each after coupon and rebate

4 Kroger Frozen Chicken Breasts (3 lbs each) – $4.99 each

2 pkg Frozen Broccoli – $1 each

3 lbs Ground Beef – Marked down to $4.99 each

1 Kroger Hot Cocoa – $1.25, used $0.50/1 Ibotta rebate AND $0.50/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.25 after cash back

3.72 lbs Bananas – $2.19

1 Lettuce – $1.69

1 Kroger Ketchup – $1

2 RX Peanut Butter – $6.79 each, used 2 $2.50/1 printable AND 2 $2/1 Ibotta rebate AND $2/1 Kroger Cash Back – $0.29 each after coupons and cash back (I LOVE this peanut butter so I was thrilled to get it for almost free!)

5 Simple Truth Little Cubs Crackers – Marked down to $1.24 each, used 5 $1/1 e-coupon – $0.24 each after coupon

1 Simple Truth Hot Sauce – $1.89, used $0.30/1 e-coupon – $1.59 after coupon

Used $0.10/1 Ibotta rebate for any receipt

Total after coupons, rebates and cash back: $39.46

Food City

I ventured into Food City this week! I only grabbed cereal as we didn’t have anything left in our grocery budget for more, but I found marked down fruits and veggies and lots of decent markdowns on meat as well. I’ll definitely be popping in there to check out markdowns each week!

2 Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes – $1.99 each, used 2 $1/1 printable – $0.99 each after coupons

Total: $1.98

Total for all stores: $89.78

Menu Plan for This Week


Cereal, Toast, Eggs, Oatmeal, Yogurt


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Turkey Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Hard Boiled Eggs, Tossed Salad, Cheese/Crackers/Fruit, Chips, Leftovers


Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Brownies

Cream of Mushroom Gravy and Beef over Noodles, Steamed Peas

Grilled Chicken, Biscuits, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Corn

Nachos, Sliced Apples (leftover from last week)

French Toast, Eggs

Chicken Taquitos, Rice, Steamed Broccoli

Pasta Goulash in the Slow Cooker, Oatmeal Spice Muffins, Tossed Salad

Life Update: Pregnancy (week 25), decluttering, and a basketball tournament

Welcome to my weekly life update where I share about my pregnancy & give you a peek into our life this past week. If you want to follow a lot more behind-the-scenes and real-time updates every week, be sure to follow my stories and posts on Instagram.

25 weeks!! And I’ve officially switched over to maternity clothes pretty much full-time.

Side note: I know some people are big fans of just sizing up in clothes instead of wearing maternity clothes. I tried that and things just fit me super weird. So maternity clothes it is. It’s not the hip and trendy influencer thing to do, but since I’m an “advanced maternal age” mama at 38, I just don’t really care. Comfort over trendy all the way!


This week I had almost zero heartburn!!! As someone whose acid reflux got progressively worse with each pregnancy in the past and who often threw up from acid reflux and spent many nights sitting up in misery because of the fire going on inside of me, I just don’t even know what to say other than, “Thank You, Jesus!”

I’ve been super careful about what I’m eating to avoid all triggers, have been trying to drink a gallon of water every day, am exercising every day, and am trying to really pace myself and not overdo it. I have no idea if these things are contributing, but they certainly can’t be hurting anything, right?!


I’m starting to feel much more pregnant. I’m noticing a lot more pelvic pressure and the normal aches and pains related to getting closer to the third trimester. Plus, my bladder seems to be shrinking, the Braxton-Hicks are picking up, and I’m just having to move at a slower pace overall.

Time continues to be moving along quickly and I’m all *bring it on*! I know that it will likely slow down the closer I get to the finish line, but I’m loving that the weeks currently feel like they are mostly flying by! We’ve got a lot going on the next 9 weeks and I’m grateful!


Lots and lots of dairy cravings this week! I seem to vacillate from feeling like there’s not a lot of room in my stomach to eat and having no appetite to being ravenously hungry. But overall, I’m noticing that my appetite is picking up as I near the third trimester. I guess baby is getting ready to gain weight!

Speaking of weight gain, I’ve gained 17 pounds so far — right on track with my usual 30-lb. pregnancy weight gain.

How are the rest of you pregnant mamas doing?

This week, I worked on decluttering the memento tubs we have in our basement storage room. Oh the memories these tubs contain!

I’ve been demonstrating how the Eat at Home menu plan service works on Instagram Stories and Facebook Live this week. It’s a fantastic way to keep your grocery budget lower if you don’t have a lot of extra time.

Kathrynne had a basketball tournament in Springfield, TN on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So we spent a lot of time driving and at games! Their team ended up coming in third place!

From My Heart…

I shared this on Instagram earlier this week:

There was a knock on our bedroom door late one night last week. A child couldn’t sleep and was struggling with feeling anxious so they wanted to come in and talk with us.

Honestly, I was tired, it had been a long day, and it was late. But before I could respond, Jesse was inviting this child into our room and wrapping his arms around them.

“What’s going on? Tell me about it.” I heard him soothingly comfort. And then this child poured out struggles and sadness they were feeling.

As I watched all of this unfold, it was a beautiful picture of the Heavenly Father’s love. No matter what time of day or night it is, we can go to Him and pour out our big feelings, hurts, heartaches, struggles, and sadness to Him.

He is there, waiting to wrap His arms around us, comfort us, listen to us, and be WITH us. We are never a burden or a bother to Him.

He loves us deeply and wholeheartedly. And He will never leave or forsake us — even on the darkest of days.

Note: Over Christmas break, we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland as a family. We were walking around the huge hotel complex together and I looked ahead and saw Jesse and Silas talking and walking and holding hands.

While a lot of people disagreed with my list, this week, I shared 10 Foods You Should Never Freeze.

I also shared before and after pictures of decluttering Kathrynne’s closet.

Did you see my post on the 3 books I read last week and the classic movie we watched?

Decluttering Kathrynne’s Closet (before and after pictures)

Need some motivation to declutter your home? We’ve been working on decluttering our home in January and here’s a peek at Kathrynne’s closet (shared with her permission):

Decluttering Kathrynne’s Closet

Kathrynne spent a number of hours over Christmas break going through her entire room and decluttering and re-organizing it.

We realized, after she had decluttered everything, that she really needed some storage tubs and baskets to be able to better organize and store the items she was keeping in her closet.

So she and I headed to At Home last Saturday to pick some items out. (They have SO many storage options and clearance items to choose from!)

Her only dilemma was trying to pick from all the many options! She finally settled on some items and we headed back home where she spent a few hours tackling her closet.

Doesn’t it look so much better?? She’s so happy with the end results. Also, it’s much easier for her to find what she is looking for, too!

Note: You’ll notice there’s a lot of empty space in her closet. We have intentionally kept it that way because her room has the extra bunk beds in it for hosting kids from foster care (we are licensed for two kids so we are required to have two empty beds . open in our house). We are also required to have empty closet space for them as part of the rules of our home licensing. Where kids sleep depends upon the ages and genders and particulars of the case, but when our home is open — as it is right now — we have to have these things in place.