Does It Count If I Painted My Thumb Green?

plant seeds

I am a flower killer. Every year we plant gorgeous flowers and bushes and they always die.

But this year, I have hope. I did some research and planted some herbs and a tomato plant over the weekend! {I painted my nails a nice minty green to convince my baby seedlings to grow. Fingers crossed it works!}

This is all the result of a book I put off reading for a long time because I was afraid it would turn me into a crazy, high maintenance eater. I do eat differently now, but it opened my eyes to how I shop and what we eat, and gave me simple adjustments that go a long way. I highly recommend it.

One of those simple changes is to grow a few things we eat frequently. We live in a patio home community, so we don’t have room for a garden per se, but some day I’d like to have one, so I’m starting out small. Planting a few seeds to reap a bigger harvest down the road, if you will. {I truly apologize; my jokes are corniest on Mondays. On second thought, I don’t apologize. You can’t beet corny jokes.}

In all seriousness though, do you grow anything your family eats? Any tips for newbies? Gardening resource must-reads? Please share them!


14 Meal Planning Tips

14 meal planning tips

I am so excited to introduce you to Selah today! She is one of my long-time readers and has become a dear friend. She was gracious enough to share what she’s learned over her years of meal planning with me in a recent e-mail. Her tips saved me so much time I asked if she would mind turning her e-mail into a guest post. Thanks for agreeing, Selah!

Enough small talk: friends, Selah, Selah, friends.

Hi GTR readers! I’m Selah. I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Bert, for 12-1/2 years and we have two very silly, beautiful children. I’m a full-time housewife, part-time administrative assistant, homeschool mom, and avid reader. I find that taking the time to plan ahead makes grocery shopping and daily meal preparation much quicker, easier, and cheaper. This is what I do:

  1. Set a budget. I averaged what I spent each week for 6 weeks to set my original budget. I reevaluate periodically, especially with major life changes like the birth of a child, or the youngest child getting out of diapers (diapers are expensive!).
  2. Choose where and how often to shop. For me, this means a once per week trip to a higher end grocery store, Harris Teeter, because they have great selection and customer service. Plus, twice monthly trips to Target for health and beauty products. You might choose to do all your food shopping at Super Target. It’s really just personal preference.
  3. Take advantage of savings cards and electronic resources. Lots of stores have a weekly flyer that can be viewed online. Many also have online and electronic coupons. Check out what your favorite stores have available. I use the e-Vic program at Harris Teeter and printable coupons from Target.
  4. Check out weekly specials. I focus on high dollar items like meat and produce. I also pay close attention to deeply discounted items, like buy one, get one sales (BOGO).
  5. Take weekly inventory. I check my freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what staples I’m running low on and what proteins I have available.
  6. Keep recipes together. I keep mine in one of two places – a Pinterest board or a binder. I used to flip through lots of different cookbooks and magazines but that takes up time. So, I copied all my favorite recipes from various cookbooks into one binder. Lately, I’ve been finding lots of new recipes on Pinterest and organizing them like a cookbook. If you’re interested, you can check it out here.
  7. Plan ahead. I plan meals that use the same protein and cook the protein once but use it twice. For instance, I bake BBQ chicken breasts and plain chicken breasts (just salt and pepper) at the same time. We eat the BBQ chicken for dinner that night and I use the plain in a casserole or soup later in the week. I also like to check the weather and plan accordingly, i.e. chili on a cold, rainy day. Most importantly, I plan meals with the proteins I have on hand and/or the ones on sale. I NEVER pay full price for meat.
  8. Don’t make it too hard. Each week I plan at least one “Leftover Night” and one “I don’t feel like cooking” meal (something ridiculously easy, like a frozen entrée, breakfast for dinner, or I even budget for takeout). This way, I’m not cooking every night but we still have a plan.
  9. Keep a Master Grocery List. This idea is from organizational guru Julie Morgenstern. I keep a list on my computer with all the things I regularly buy listed by aisle / area of the store. I highlight the items I need and print it out. Then I write in any additional items (or I add them to the Master List if I’m going to start buying them often).
  10. Use coupons wisely. I am not a big couponer. Harris Teeter has electronic coupons that I can link to my savings card. There are also coupons that print out with my receipt each week. I use these and any that come in packaging (lots of boxed products have coupons printed on the inside of the box).  I always check to see if I have coupons for the items that are already on my list. I also check to see if any of my coupons match up with sale items.  Combining a coupon with a sale is the best way to maximize savings.
  11. Pick an ideal shopping time. I like to shop on Saturday morning. I’ve had a big breakfast so I’m not hungry. My husband has the kids so I’m not hurried or distracted. Find what works best for you.
  12. Shop carefully. Generally speaking, if it’s not on my list I don’t buy it (this is somewhat flexible – sometimes I simply forgot to put something on the list, sometimes things are marked down unexpectedly, sometimes I just need chocolate). I compare prices between brands and sizes. I try to stick with generics but will buy name brands if the quality is really better.
  13. Stock up. If something I know I’ll use is on a good sale, I’ll buy extra. There are weeks when there are no good sales on meat but that’s OK because I stocked up the last time chicken was BOGO.
  14. Plan slowly. I find that if I rush through my planning I get sloppy and forget things, like the tissues my husband asked for or the chili powder I’m running low on. When I take the time upfront to plan ahead, I save a lot of time and headaches later!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Selah!

What do y’all think? Which tip is one you think would work well for your home? Number 9 cut my grocery shopping time in half. Half! Planning really does pay off in saving time.

Tight Fist or Open Hand?

principles and methods

I’ve been devouring this sermon series on Proverbs by Mark Driscoll.

I think it was part one where he talked about truisms and methods versus principles. This is a combination I’ve never considered and I think it’s so important as we look at to do’s and to be’s.

Many of the sayings in the book of Proverbs are truisms. Meaning most of the time, generally speaking, they are true. {For example, if you train your children, they will go the way you taught them or if you invest, you will build wealth.} Because life is not perfect, there are cases in which even if you “follow the rules” the perceived “reward” falls through, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

He then explored the idea of principles and methods. While a truism states a principle {be a good steward and invest} and the {generally} true result {you will build wealth}, methods are the variety of ways to get from the principle to the result.

We should live by principles, but methods vary because we’re all different, with varying skills, families, and life structures. DON’T FEEL ENSLAVED BY SOMEONE ELSE’S METHOD. DIFFERENT METHODS WORK BETTER FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Sorry I had to shout, but I needed to hear that myself. I’ll see a superwoman and try to implement what I’ve seen her do and it falls flat. Instead of feeling guilty, I ought to consider what tweaks I can make to fit that principle to my life.

My favorite word picture from the sermon series ties it all together: hold principles with a tight fist and methods with an open hand.

Have you ever thought about the difference between principles and methods and how they fit together? Do you have a method that tends to dictate how you live? Let’s let those go and show ourselves some grace.

Behind the Scenes

first things first

Image Credit

To answer the question of who I want to be, I must first answer the question, ‘Who am I?’

Friends, who we are {and who we’re becoming} all boils down to what our lives are about- and not just what we think they’re about.

What drives our thoughts? Emotions? Words? Actions?

If we don’t consider these things, it’s so easy to get sucked into working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ our lives. We’ll be reactive instead of proactive and spend our time stressed out instead of productive.

I’ve poured countless hours into planning and executing and rehashing events for work, but I’ve never thought with the same intensity about my life- home, marriage, or self, and that started to bother me.

So I did a little experiment.

I started setting an alarm on my phone for noon every day to make myself stop and think about how I was feeling and why. I figured this would give me a pretty good understanding of what is behind my thoughts, emotions, words, and actions.

I ended up thinking about these things more often than once a day and over the course of a couple weeks, realized that for me, my biggest motivation was {and still is} fears of all sorts. I am afraid of making a mistake, offending someone, or not getting everything done that “needs” to be done. {Just to name a few.}

Instead of fearing the Lord and giving Him control {like I thought}, everything else was controlling me the majority of the time.

That is not the person I want to be. If I’m honest, I knew fear was an issue, but I’d never taken the time to think about it within my day, much less try to make changes.

Honestly, the biggest change I’ve made is to pray more frequently and ask the Lord to help me have the heart He wants me to. And He’s answered. I’ve also just started telling my bossy pants emotions that they aren’t in charge. Sometimes they listen better than others {and I realize this will always be the case}, but I can tell a difference.

I think that figuring out what is at the root of behaviors is important before I start trying to plan out who I’m trying to become.

What about you? Are you intentional in considering the things behind your thoughts and actions? Do you have bossy pants emotions that control you too often? Are ridiculous fears something you struggle with, too? Let’s remind each other we’re not alone in our struggles and that choosing to control our emotions is not only doable but imperative.

HI! {I’m sorry I’m shouting I’m just so excited. And I can’t hide it.}

to do's and to be's

Hi friends!

I sure missed you, but thanks for being gracious and letting me spend some time away.

That being said, I am SO excited about what the Lord taught me while I took a break and where He’s leading Greater Than Rubies.

Honestly, I’ve felt disjointed since the challenge ended in December and struggled with what GTR should look like. I wrote this post, and still wanted to write about those things, but I didn’t feel focused and it stressed me out. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to continue blogging or not.

But during my little break, God used a conversation with a friend about ‘to do’ lists and ‘to be’ lists to transform my plans for this blog.

I’ve always struggled with being mastered by my to do list, and while we were talking about that during coffee not too long ago, my accountability partner shared the idea of a ‘to be’ list. What sort of person do I want to become? If I don’t think about and make plans for those things, there’s a greater likelihood I’ll end up far from those goals.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea and one night, the Lord poured tons of ideas into my head and gave me the words to capture what I’m passionate about sharing: simplifying the to do’s and focusing on the to be’s.

There are things on our to do lists that just have to get done- but that’s not what our lives should be centered around. How can we be good stewards of what we’ve been given? Accomplish things more efficiently? Spend more time focusing on the people God is making us into?

I’m planning to research and share ways to simplify:

  • cooking and meal planning;
  • family finances;
  • housekeeping and cleaning;
  • time management and schedule;
  • & wardrobe and beauty-

All so that more time will be focused on who we’re becoming. So GTR will also feature what I discover about thought and behavior patterns, goal planning, and take a closer look at some admirable to be’s.

I’m so excited about where the Lord is leading and I hope you’ll take this journey with me!

Thanks again for your sweet words while I was away. Y’all are the best!

PS If you’re in the DFW area, come out to our Fashion Show benefitting Cornerstone NCT tonight!