I'm excited to be bringing you another yummy recipe from my youngest sister, Olivia! If you need a winner French Toast recipe, this is it! -Crystal I started making this recipe a few years back when I was looking for […]

Intentional finance. Intentional family. Intentional business.


Cinnamon Raisin Ice Cream Soaked French Toast (Freezer-Friendly)

I’m excited to be bringing you another yummy recipe from my youngest sister, Olivia! If you need a winner French Toast recipe, this is it! -Crystal

I started making this recipe a few years back when I was looking for the perfect french toast recipe to use on one of our super-sized family vacations. (I’m usually the one in charge of all the meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking!)

With 25+ people to feed, it can be difficult to come up with a recipe that suits everyone’s tastes. But this one was a total hit with everyone the first time I made it, and we’ve been using it on our family trips ever since!

Sometimes I substitute in different types of bread for people who don’t like raisins. Feel free to switch it up with the bread of your liking, but I think it adds a special boost of flavor. 🙂

Olivia is a music teacher, graphic designer, and event organizer. She loves hospitality, ministering to the elderly, reaching out to international students, playing harp gigs, adding beauty to everyday life, and experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. Her greatest joy in life come from knowing God and growing in her relationship with Him.


How I Am Staying Fit in this Season of My Life

Someone recently wrote in and asked, “How do you stay fit?”

While I’ve talked about fitness in previous posts, it’s been awhile and I thought it would be great to revisit this topic again and share where I’m at in my current season of life!

As I thought about how I’m staying fit right now, three strategies came to mind:

1. I make it a priority.

I was blessed to be raised by parents who made fitness a big priority. My dad was a runner in high school and college (he was on the track team) and still runs 3 miles every single day at age 64! My mom is also really into fitness and encouraged us to participate with her in various workout programs (or just long walks or bike rides) many times while we were growing up.

As I watched both of my parents make physical fitness a priority — even in the middle of their busy lives — I knew that it was possible to find time for fitness, if you made it a priority.

As with anything you want to do in life, you can’t just say you want to do it. You have to commit to it and make it a priority. For me, that means getting in exercise as early as possible in the day and making my health and well-being a priority.

When I’m fit, I have more energy, I’m happier, I’m healthier, and I enjoy my life more. I’m a better wife, mom, and business owner. In fact, I wear all of my hats better when fitness is a priority. And it’s worth it!

2. I do what works in this season of life.

Staying fit will look different in different seasons. Right now, here’s what it looks like for me…

  • Drinking a gallon of lemon water every day. If you drink enough water and stay hydrated, it will help you stay healthy, sleep better, improve your skin, make you feel more energetic, take away aches and pains from dehydration, and regulate your weight and digestion.
  • I eat a big salad every day, as well as other raw fruits and veggies. I try to eat good protein at every single meal and eat mostly whole grains. I feel better when I eat whole grains, and I know that it’s better for me.
  • Limit desserts and sweets. I don’t completely limit them. I did for a long period of time, but now I just make sure I eat sweets in moderation.
  • Get enough sleep. Getting an adequate amount of sleep makes me healthier, happier, energetic, and more productive. It also helps my stress, clears up my skin, lowers my anxiety levels, and regulates my weight and metabolism.
  • Make sure I’m not taking on too much. Stress drastically affects your health. Having too much on your plate can cause your whole body to be unhealthy. This is something I’ve made a huge priority in the last two years.
  • And yes, exercise. I’ve learned not to push myself too hard. My personality is the type that I can easily be too driven and I can end up pushing myself too hard. Right now I have three very active kids who need a lot from me, I have a successful blog/business and work full-time + oversee my team and the longterm strategy of the blog, and I also invest a lot of my time into my local community. Because of this, I want to make sure exercise is fueling me, not draining me. So I try not to push myself too hard. I’m doing 10 push-ups per day and a run about 1-2 miles every day. And I try to stay active throughout the day, as well.

3. I don’t compare myself to others.

I encourage you to not compare yourself to someone else. It’s so easy to look at someone else and wish you had her body type or her metabolism.

I’m blessed to have great genes from my parents. They are healthy and slim and active and they seem to have passed on their great metabolisms and love of healthful foods and fitness to all of their kids.

But I know that not everyone has the same body structure or health or metabolism that I do. At the same time, I know that I need more sleep and more down time than a lot of other people do. Sometimes I can get frustrated that I’m not as able to go-go-go as someone else is, but then I remember that I have many strengths that other people probably wish they had.

Instead of wishing we were someone else, I want to embrace exactly who I am and all of the strengths and weaknesses, abilities and inabilities, body type and structure I’ve been given. And I want to make the best choices I can with the time, energy, and ability that I have.

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Gretchen’s $57 Grocery Shopping Trip and Menu Plan for 4


1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust – $0.89

1 pkg Baby Carrots – $0.99

1 pkg Celery – $0.99

1 pkg Instant Pudding – $0.49

1 gallon Milk – $1.88

1 bag Frozen Corn – $0.79

1 bag Mini Cucumbers – $1.79

1 carton Whipped Topping – $0.79

2 cans Green Beans – $0.44 each

1 pkg Chunk Cheese – $1.79

2 dozen Eggs – $1.37 each

1 Half & Half – $1.99

2 jars Spaghetti Sauce – $0.99 each

1 can Pineapple – $0.95

2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup – $0.49 each

1 Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate – $1.19

1 bag Spinach – $1.49

1 bag Shredded Cheese – $2.99

1 loaf Bread – $1.49

3 pkg Strawberries – $1.19 each

Total: $30.65


2.18 lbs Banans – $1.07

1 pkg Big K Cola – $1.28

1 Birdseye Frozen Vegetables – $1.49, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $0.99 after coupon

1 pkg Hormel Pepperoni – $3.49, used Free e-coupon – Free after coupon

1 pkg Kroger Frozen Chicken Breasts – $6.99, used $1.25/1 e-coupon – $5.74 after coupon

1 Kroger Ice Cream – $2.50, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $2 after coupon

3 Kroger Frozen French Bread Pizzas – $0.88 each, used $0.50/3 e-coupon – $0.71 each after coupon

1 Kroger Apple Juice – $1.39, used $0.50/1 e-coupon – $0.89 after coupon

1 Kroger Oven Roasted Turkey Breast – $2.50, used $0.75/1 e-coupon – $1.75 after coupon

1 pkg Kroger Applesauce Cups – $1.49, used $0.40/1 e-coupon – $1.09 after coupon

1 pkg Land O Lakes Butter – $2.50

1 Milka Oreo Chocolate Bar – $0.79, used Free e-coupon (no longer available) – Free after coupon

1 Post S’mores Cereal – $2, used $0.50/1 e-coupon AND $0.50/1 Ibotta rebate – $1 after coupon and rebate

1 pkg Reeses Peanut Butter Cups – $2.99, used Free e-coupon – Free after coupon

1 Simple Truth Breakfast Bars – $1.50

5 pkg Simple Truth Nuts – $1 each, used 5 $0.75/1 e-coupons – $0.25 each after coupons

1 pkg Solero Frozen Fruit Bars – $4.99, used Free printable (no longer available) – Free after coupon

1 Totinos Pizza – $1.25 – used Free e-coupon – Free after coupon

1 pkg Keebler Crackers – $2.49, used Free e-coupon – Free after coupon

1 Zone Perfect Bar – $1, used Free e-coupon – Free after coupon

2 pkg Kroger Frozen Cod Fillets – $2.99 each, used 2 $1/1 e-coupons – $1.99 each after coupons

Used Free Clicklist coupon (so the pickup fee was waived)

Total after coupons and rebate: $27.17

Total for both stores: $57.82

Menu Plan for This Week


Cereal x 3

Eggs & Spinach x 3

Toast & Juice


Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Sliced Cucumbers

Turkey Sandwiches, Strawberries x 2

Crackers, Cheese, Fruit, Veggies x 2

Lunch out with our Lifegroup



Grilled Fish, 30 Minute Rolls, Steamed Veggies

Homemade Cheese Pizza, Breadsticks, Spinach Salad

Spaghetti, Steamed Veggies, Homemade Bread

Poor Man’s Steak (using venison), 30 Minute Rolls, Green Beans, Pudding Pie

Hawaiian Haystacks

Pancakes, Eggs, Juice



What I Read & Watched This Past Week

Welcome to my weekly Book-ish post where I share what I’ve been reading and watching recently. If you missed it, you can see my Reading Goals for 2018 and 44 Books I Plan to Read This Year.

What I Read This Past Week

After reading and loving Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I was eager to read this followup book called The Emotionally Healthy Woman. While I didn’t necessarily agree with every tiny little thing in it and think you need to remember to not take anything in the book to an extreme, I felt like there were some really great nuggets of truth in this book.

A big thank you to my friend, Melissa, for letting me borrow this book and for encouraging me to read it in the first place.


What I Watched This Past Week

Jesse was in Peru this past week, so I was flying solo as a parent. Which meant I didn’t have much extra time for watching anything myself. But the kids and I did watch the next three episodes of Designated Survivor together. We really enjoy that show.

(Note: It’s definitely a more action-packed show geared for adults and it might be scary to some kids who are sensitive. Silas doesn’t usually watch it with us because it’s a bit too scary for him.)

Time to Read

People are always asking me how I find time to read. Honestly, it’s because I love to read, because I’ve chosen to prioritize it, because I don’t have a lot of other hobbies, and because I can’t not read. Also, when you love something, you usually can find ways to get creative to find time to fit it in — even if it’s in the little nooks and crannies of life.

I wrote a post on 3 ways to find more time to read — even when life is busy. And here are 7 more ways to find time to read.

What did you read and watch this past week? Any books or movies you really think I need to read or watch?

(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.)

A Peek Into My Life This Past Week (+ an update on my 2018 goals!)

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! 🙂 

It snowed a tiny bit on Monday! Which meant that, since we live in the South, Kathrynne’s school had a two-hour delay. Silas doesn’t have school on Mondays + it was his Spring Break (he goes to a 4-day-per-week school right now) and Kaitlynn was off for teacher in-service day, so we got to enjoy a leisurely morning… which was perfect for right after we “lost” an hour due to Daylight Savings on Monday.

Did you read my review of this book? I highly recommend it!

We all filled out our brackets for the NCAA championship this week and have a very big family competition going on for who is in first place. 🙂 We were very disappointed that WSU (the school Jesse went to for three years of undergrad) didn’t make it past the first game. 🙁

Silas & I had a fun outing on Wednesday for his Spring Break. Read all about it here.

Jesse left on Thursday to head to Peru for a few days to help put on a Discipleship Conference down there with this team from our church. We’re missing him while he’s gone, but we’re loving his updates and the opportunity he has to go on this trip and encourage and share with the church there.

While he was gone, my mom and sister came to visit for two days. It was fun to get to show them our house and have them stay with us! We took them to some of our favorite places — including the Spice Shop downtown where you can taste test all the spices! Oh man, they have some really yummy ones!

We also went to Winstead Park — which has great historic significance and beautiful views! (We took a lot more pictures from our time together, but my mom and sister said they weren’t dressed presentably enough to have me share the photos online! ;))

I got a text from a friend one morning this week. She was struggling with some big life transitions & she needed encouragement. She was feeling invisible, scared, and overwhelmed.

I texted her these words… and I feel like some of you might need to hear them tonight, too!

“I am standing with you. Well, maybe more like sitting with you! 😉

“It’s SO hard to feel out of your element and that you don’t belong. That you just don’t have what they want and you don’t know how to be what you’re supposed to be.

“As I was thinking of your text this morning, I kept hearing God whisper these words to me: ‘She doesn’t feel like she belongs there. She feels like she’s an imposter. That she’s out of her league. That she’s too much or not enough. But with ME, she belongs. I’ve placed her there. She can hold her head up high and walk in confidence knowing that I have called her to this. I will be her ENOUGH. For this day. For this hour. I see her. Her work, her heart… it’s not invisible to me.’”

Over 13 years ago, when I first started blogging, I picked a lot of fights with people by blogging on hot topics. And I expended a LOT of energy defending my positions in lengthy comments & posts.

Guess what happened? Well, for one, I realized (after a few long years and a whole lot of cringe-worthy posts) that I didn’t really know what I believed & needed to stop touting the beliefs & convictions of others & step back and do my some deep soul-searching & understanding of why others believed differently than I did (instead of just adopting the prideful “I’m right, you’re wrong!” mentality.)

But I also realized that spending much of my time on the internet trying to defend myself and prove my point and convince those who disagreed with me to change their minds… all this was just frustrating me, zapping my time, and taking way too much of my emotional energy.

So I quit that blog and made the big decision to set huge boundaries on what I will and won’t blog about (that list includes basically ALL hot button issues) and I also decided to commit to not defending myself online.

Even though I don’t blog about hot button issues anymore, there are still plenty of people who don’t like me online. They wish I would blog differently. They don’t like it when I say this or fix my hair that way. They don’t like my makeup or wish I had addressed something more clearly. They upset that I make money as a blogger. They wish I would go back to being poor. They don’t like how I’ve changed over the years. They are disappointed in my choices. They think I’m too frugal or not frugal enough.. & on & on it goes.

It’s rare that a day goes by that someone doesn’t write in saying they are offended or upset or bothered by things I’ve put out on the internet.

I’ve come to peace with this. It’s part of putting yourself out there. I love the sage advice, “I am not responsible to those I don’t have a relationship with.”

I have amazing local truth tellers in my life who check in and check up on me regularly. I need that. I want that. And it gives me freedom to let almost all of the rest of the negativity roll off my back. Because you just can’t please everyone!

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: 16 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: 13 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 96 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: I’ve finished one book so far.

7. Take the kids to South Africa.

**Progress: We nailed down dates for our trip!

8. Go on a family road trip.

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.

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: 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January and Content Creation 101 launched in February. We launched the 4-Week Blog Coaching Program this past week and we’re currently working on a new YourBloggingUniversity.com course that we hope to launch near the end of March.