Spring 2018 Reading List

I’m back with new books to share for spring! What will you be reading over the next few months? Check out my list!

Hey friends! Long time no talk!

Sorry that I dropped off the planet, 2018 got to me! It’s been one heck of a year already and I can’t wait to update you all on all my new adulting hacks and the crazy things I’ve been up to (inviting strangers over?…Stay tuned!)

In the meantime, though, it’s officially March which means it’s time for a new reading list! Yes, it’s springtime already if you couldn’t tell by the rain and gloom that’s been hanging over Austin for the last month. Perfect weather for snuggling up with a great book and furry friend! So, without further ado, here’s what I’ll be reading this Spring…

Jackie’s Spring 2018 Reading List

Liar (K.L. Slater)

Liar is a psychological thriller that follows Judi, a devoted mother and grandmother helping her widowed son Ben raise his kiddos. When Amber comes into Ben’s life unexpectedly, everyone is overjoyed but Judi isn’t so sure…

 

Before We Were Yours (Lisa Wingate)

This book, based on the real-life events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, follows two families generations apart as they discover the truth of what it means to be family.

 

Wonder (R.J. Palacio)

Wonder is actually a children’s fiction book that was recently made into a movie. The book follows Auggie Pullman and his friends and family throughout the journey of his 5th grade year. 5th grade is a tough year for anybody but Auggie is special because of his extraordinary face. This book has been known to tug the heartstrings of adults and kids alike and I can’t wait to get started.

 

The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book that delves into why humans have habits and how we can change them to be more productive and successful. Human nature can be a tricky thing to tackle but I’ve heard Charles Duhigg is spot on in this New York Times Bestseller.

 

The Wedding Date (Jasmine Guillory)

Alexa and Drew are strangers stuck in an elevator who  end up going to a wedding together. That’s as much as I want to say about this fun debut novel by Jasmine Guillory.

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

Eleanor has absolutely no social filter. Her isolation and loneliness have developed her own sense of propriety and decorum that sets her apart from her peers in ways she can’t understand. It’s only through accidentally becoming friends with Raymond and Sammy that Eleanor realizes how much she needs people to survive.

 

Have you read any of these yet? What did you think? Will you be reading along with me this spring? Let me know in the comments!

How to Adult: Making Sundays Count

There are a few things I need to do Sundays or the rest of my week is a hot mess.

Sundays in the Ruesink household are one of two things: very busy or very lazy. There is no in between. Lately, we’ve been more busy than lazy, though, and I’m finding myself struggling to get through the week productively while still getting to spend precious time with my sweet husband. Once we get into the swing of the work week, if I don’t have my life figured out already, it’s very difficult for me to improvise in the little things like what to cook, wear, or clean after a long day at work.

Funny story – I’ve always been the weirdo who sets out her clothes in advance. My college roommate used to make fun of me because every Sunday night I would pull out my clothes not just for the next day but for the entire week.

To this day, this is still part of my Sunday routine that I have to do to be able to function. You may not be as weird as I am, but I can’t tell you how much it helps me to have a plan – even if it’s just a plan of what to wear this week.

That being said, I thought I’d share some of my Sunday even routines that I just can’t live without. Seriously, you might think they’re small and silly, but I can’t tell you how much less stress I have on weeks when I commit to getting these things done before Monday morning hits.

#1. Meal Prepping

Now, I don’t actually cook and prep meals for the entire week like the crazy (awesome) Pinterest moms do. I tried that once and spent the entire day in the kitchen and it just wasn’t realistic for my life. However, I do make sure that I have at least two large recipes picked out and all of the necessary ingredients in stock. If I already have lunches made (which sometimes happens when I make larger recipes), I make sure to throw a meal in my lunchbox and stick it in the fridge. Along the same lines, I fill a few mason jars with the ingredients for my morning smoothies so I can just dump, blend, and go, healthy, delicious breakfast in hand.

 

#2. Wardrobe Planning

Ok, so you already know I’m kind of crazy about this. I start by looking at the forecast for the week and planning my outfits accordingly. I have a capsule wardrobe so once I have a general idea of the weather for the week, it’s quick and easy to pull clothing to the front of my closet. If I’m really in a planning mood, I also pull out my jewelry and accessories to go with the outfits. This saves me time and energy on early weekday mornings and I’ve actually used the time saved by not worrying about clothes to have an awesome morning time with Jesus. Cannot recommend enough.

 

#3. Actual Life Planning

There are a couple different places in my life that I keep everything planned and organized. I have a calendar in my kitchen, google calendar on my phone, and of course my wonderful and necessary Erin Condren Life Planner. You definitely don’t have to be a calendar/planner nerd like me, but I totally recommend sitting down and going over your week before it starts. It’s really helpful to remember appointments you might have forgotten or tasks you still need to accomplish before the craziness of Monday morning hits. This has been super beneficial for Jake and I in our marriage because we do as much individually as we do together. Knowing each other’s schedules and making sure we haven’t double booked each other or not prioritized time together makes busy weeks so much better.

 

And that’s my Sunday night! In an ideal world, I’d also straighten the house and clean out my purse but, to be honest, ain’t nobody got time for those. But really, once I have these three things taken care of, I can tackle anything the week throws at me.

What about you? Are there things you HAVE to do before Monday if you’re going to walk into the week with energy and confidence? How do you make your weekday time more productive? I’d love to chat in the comments!

How to Adult: Goal Setting – A Breakdown

So you set some ambitious goals for 2018… Now what?

ICYMI: I mentioned in my previous post that while I don’t like the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m always game for setting new goals for myself. The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect on where you are in your life and dream about where you’d like to go. I’ve never considered myself very ambitious or really even much of a dreamer, though, so setting realistic goals that I actually wanted to achieve took me some time to figure out. And getting started can be so overwhelming! My keys to success: planning, people, and baby steps.

Now, please realize that what works for me, may not work for everybody. I’m an ISTJ on the Myer’s Briggs chart so I’m all about black and white, concrete details and lists. ALL THE LISTS. This is just how my brain functions.

But if you’re like Jake, you probably just have all these ideas and goals rolling around in your brain and sometimes writing them down makes them more real but basically, you’re good with them in your head. If that’s you, I think you’re awesome but I just can’t live like you.

Long story short, take this and run with it – you do you.

Step 1: Dream Big

There are no rules to Step 1 which is probably what I struggle with most. This is just creative brainstorming of things you’d like to see in your life – people you’d like to meet, places to go, things to do, what kind of person you’d like to see yourself become. Think in ideals for this step, no restrictions, no “buts” or “ifs” or conditions of any kind. Once you have a few good ideas, prioritize. What all can you realistically accomplish? What is most important that you accomplish? Remember, it’s crazy-hard to reach a goal that you don’t care about reaching. The best way to set a goal you can actually accomplish is if it’s something that’s really meaningful to you. Otherwise motivating yourself will to do something you’re not interested in will not be fun at all.

Step 2: Write It Out

There’s something unique about writing things down that solidifies things in our brains. When you see your goal on paper, it becomes real – it’s out there in the world, not just in your head. But to really make this step worthwhile, it helps to get specific. You did your big dreaming to come up with your goal, now narrow it down a little. Give it parameters, a time frame. What is it specifically you’d like to accomplish and how long will you give yourself to get there?

For instance, I mentioned that one of my goals in 2018 is to memorize more scripture. My specific goal when I wrote it out is to have Ephesians 1 memorized by my birthday (end of February). I got specific about what piece of the Bible I wanted to memorize and I set a realistic deadline for myself.

Step 3: Find Your Accountabilibuddy

Now that you’ve written out your goal, the next step is to speak it out loud. Tell a friend, tell your significant other, tell your parents, tell anyone, really. Talking about your goal will make it even more solidified in your brain, but the important part in this step is to ask someone to join you on this journey as your accountability partner.

We as humans are not meant to do things alone. We will fail every time we try to accomplish things in our own efforts because that’s just not how God designed us (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We were designed for community and part of that is spurring each other on (Hebrews 10:24), carrying each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2), and holding each other accountable (Ephesians 4:25). Partner with someone who will not only hold you to your goal but walk with you on the journey to achieving it.

Step 4: It’s All About Baby Steps

Here’s where my ISTJ starts showing but this is super important! You have a big goal that you’ve written out and told everyone about… Now how do you get started? My answer: plan out some baby steps. Start thinking concretely – what needs to happen for this goal to be accomplished? What do I need to get started? What will I need along the way?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better sense of direction and how to start. From there, you can make a plan to tackle your goal. I’ve found it easiest to make it part of my daily routine and keep my goal at the front of my mind, but depending on your goal, you might want to have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with yourself to see your progress.

Continuing my scripture memorization example, there are several ways I could go about memorizing Ephesians 1, but I know from past experiences that a method that’s worked really well for me is the app Fighter Verses which has all sorts of quizzes, like games, specifically designed to help people memorize scripture in ways that work for them. My first baby step was downloading this app to my new phone. From there, I planned out smaller milestones I want to hit (specific verses memorized by specific calendar dates) and made it part of my daily routine to spend at least five minutes a day in the fighter verses app. Now my ambitious goal of memorizing an entire chapter of the Bible looks a lot smaller when it’s just five minutes a day!

 

Whatever your goal for 2018 might be, I hope this breakdown helps you tackle it. Just don’t forget to bring someone along with you. Sometimes goals can be harder to achieve than we think and we need the support, encouragement, and prayer of the people we’ve asked to join us on our journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help.

And remember, you’re only baby steps away 🙂

Welcome, 2018!

What would you like to accomplish in 2018?

How did you do on your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember what they were? I only had one this year – to marry the man of my dreams – which I accomplished fifteen days into 2017. That’s not really how those things are supposed to work, though, right?

I don’t know your life story but New Year’s resolutions have never been a fit for me. They’re a little like dieting in that if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s more tempting to do it. And usually the things I’m  attempting to resolve to do are so unachievable, I set myself up for failure.

I’ve attempted in the past to schedule new Bible reading regimes or plan out a year of workouts at the gym and all the planning and preparation goes great! It’s the execution that fails every time.

This, inevitably, turns into feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment and the things I was so excited to accomplish loom over my head in gloomy clouds of self-doubt. So, yeah, resolutions are not my thing.

BUT goals are!

When I start thinking of goals instead of resolutions, the pressure immediately comes off. Goals can be worked toward. Goals can be accomplished or they can be postponed. Goals can be met half way or you can have stretch goals – things you hope to achieve if you meet your other goals, but if you don’t, they’ll be on next year’s list. Goals, to me, are so much easier to wrap my head around. They are a way to reasonably target your time and energy as opposed to trying to check off an over-eager to-do list.

So this year, I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be in 2018 and setting goals to help me focus my time and energy to becoming that person. Here are a few things I’ll be working towards becoming in the new year:

  1. A Scripture-Knower. I want to get back into memorizing scripture. Knowing what God says is not only how we get to know Him better but how we fight our sin. Working towards this goal will have me in the Bible and reflecting on God’s word all the time which is something I need more of daily.
  2. A Precious Wife. Now that Jake and I are nearly one year in, I feel like I have more of a handle on who he is and what my role as his wife looks like. I want to be the kind of Proverbs 31 woman that lifts him up, works hard, and shows humility and patience regardless of her circumstances.
  3. An Intentional Consumer. I want to be mindful of the things I put in my body as well as the things I put in my mind. 2017 was a big year for me as far as making healthier food choices on a regular basis and I hope to continue that trend in 2018. But even more, I want to be conscious of the other things I consume – TV, movies, books, social media – and their impact in my life. I don’t want to live my life through a screen and the first step in that is being mindful of what/how/when I’m consuming too much of the things I don’t want in my life.
  4. A More Available Friend. I’ll be honest, I have not done a great job being a friend in 2017 and I need to do better. It’s been very difficult to maintain individual friendships now that I’m married but I don’t want that to be an excuse for letting amazing people fall away from my life. I need the support and community of God-fearing women in my life regardless of my marital status and improving those relationships starts with me.
  5. A Gracious Host. Now that we have the space in our new house, I want to put it to good use. We’ll be renting out rooms on Airbnb during festival weekends here in Austin but more than that, I want our house to be a place of refuge for those that need it. I want our house to be a gathering point for friends and family, brothers and sisters – I want to love people with what God’s given us.

That’s the kind of person I hope to become in 2018. Obviously I know it’s not something that can happen over night, but I believe these goals are in line with what God wants for my life and I’ll be praying that He continues to provide opportunities to become more like Him in these areas.

This year, let’s challenge each other to keep these goals in mind as life inevitably starts distracting us. Let’s hold each other accountable to growing as humans together. Because I know I can’t do it alone.

Are you doing resolutions or goals for 2018? What kind of person would you like to see yourself become in the new year?

Budgeting for That Pretty White Dress

Paying for anything “wedding” is insane. Learn how I saved for my pretty white dress over ten years!

wedding-Ruesink-6783Oh, friends, it is officially winter wedding season! With that and my own wedding anniversary coming up, I’ve been reminiscing about our special day quite a bit lately and thought I’d share the story of how I paid for my wedding dress because it’s a great one.

When I was fourteen, I dated a guy whose parents threw their spare change into a box in their closet at the end of the day. Instead of exchanging the coins for cash, they would use it as a savings system for things they new they would need in the future. I took this idea and ran with it.

I took a large jar that my parents had laying around the house and cut a slot in the lid for coins. I created a label, glued it onto the jar, and put this impromptu piggy bank in my parents’ living room. Whenever my parents would entertain, their friends and family would see “Jackie’s Wedding Dress Fund” and add in their spare change or loose one dollar bills. My parents added as they could and I poured ever spare cent I had into the jar as often as I could. Occasionally, the very generous soul would slip in a $20 bill because they thought the idea was so clever.

At least once a year, my dad and I would total it up and deposit the coins and cash, leaving scraps of paper with the total amount we deposited as an IOU for the future, and watched as our spare change really started to add up!

By the time Jake proposed, I was 24 and had been collecting spare change and loose bills for ten years! As you can imagine, totaling up the jar was one of the first things I did when I went home after getting engaged. From 2006 to 2016, I collected over $1100 in my wedding dress fund and was able to afford the most perfect dress I could imagine for our wedding.

Not wanting to let this brilliant savings idea end, I created a new label for my jar and it has since become Jake and Jackie’s Adventure Jar and will hopefully have much more success than Carl and Ellie’s from Up.

I’m so appreciative to each and every person who contributed to my little jar. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to name each and every person who slipped in a quarter or two but I’m very grateful that they found the idea clever enough to generously donate. I can’t wait to pass on the jar if I ever have a daughter and I hope you’ve found inspiration for your own dreams savings plan!

Did you have an out-of-the-norm payment plan for your wedding? How did you pay for the dress of your dreams?

 

How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the Holidays

You don’t have to totally ditch your diet for the holidays. Here’s how I’ll be enjoying all my favorites this week while still eating responsibly!

How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the HolidaysI have been doing my absolute best to eat healthy over the past couple of months, a challenge made significantly harder by all the holiday goodness. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year and Christmas has ALL the good desserts. It’s really stinking hard to make wise nutrition choices right now!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about staying mindful of your diet this week, here are some tips to help us both stay on track while still enjoying the Christmas spirit!

#1 – Control Your Portion Sizes

This is my every day go-to tip for my diet and it really does work! My favorite way of doing this is just by grabbing a smaller plate. Big plates make it super tempting to just fill ‘em up but if you have a smaller plate, there’s less room to fill. I also find using paper plates to be a helpful option, especially the cheaper ones, because you can feel the weight of your food a lot more dramatically. Yes, Christmas china is pretty but paper plates are disposable and can help you control your portion sizes…I think I know which one I’d go for.

#2 – Eat Only When You’re Hungry

This one is tricky for me because my body is not great at letting me know when I’m hungry. But one of the real dangers with holiday over-eating comes not so much in the meal itself but all the grazing that happens throughout the day. I know in my family we’ll have breakfast and then snack until the big meal is ready sometime in the afternoon and boy, do those snacks get ya! Reading your body’s natural signs of hunger and only eating when it tells you to is hard but so worth it.

#3 – Drink More Water

This is another one straight off my day-to-day diet but it’s so good, it just had to be included in this list. Water. We need it but there’s a lot of other delicious holiday drinks that like to get in our way of consuming more of it. Opting for water instead of eggnog will not only save you calories but also help out with tip #2. If you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry when you finish, you can eat. But a lot of the times, our bodies tell us we’re hungry when really we just need more water.

#4 – Eat You’re Veggies First

So much of what we like to eat during holidays is protein and carbs so eating your veggies first may not be your favorite idea but it will help make sure you get all those good vitamins and nutrients before you get too full to get around to them. This is probably a good practice to get into for day-to-day life too, but I just can’t bring myself to make it a normal practice just yet. I’ll hold on to my childish dislike of most veggies for a little longer, thank you very much.

#5 – Only Indulge in What You Love

It’s Christmas, go ahead and treat ‘yo self! But instead of filling an entire plate with every tasty treat on the counter, scout out only the things you’ll really cherish and enjoy those. Ask yourself “what are my three favorites?” or “What’s something I only get to treat myself to during the holidays?” to help narrow down your options.

#6 – Don’t Feel Guilty

It’s Christmas! It’s ok to indulge. Feeling guilty won’t delete calories that you’ve already eaten. Nor will it replace the benefits of a morning run. Basically, feeling guilty doesn’t get you anywhere. Be kind to yourself and remember that each day is a fresh start to take care of your body.

I hope these tips help you enjoy Christmas this week and enjoy yummy, delicious foods that make your heart smile. Eating healthy during the holidays is tough work so do your best and feel good about it. And remember that tomorrow is a new day with a fresh start.

PSA: Christmas Cards Are Still a Thing!

So, I screwed up a piece of our first married Christmas… everything’s fine.

There’s lots I’m still learning in my first year of marriage but one thing that recently came up was that people still send Christmas cards. Like, people my age are still adorable and traditional and get these really cute cards made and send them via snail-mail to their friends and family. Somehow, I (incorrectly) thought that Christmas cards had become digital and were more a thing of the past. Man, how wrong I’ve been these last few weeks!

Jake and I just keep receiving card after card from our beautiful friends and family and I’m over here like, “that’s so cute! I totally dropped the ball this year!” And while it may be too late to start gathering addresses for all our friends and family, I can still continue with my digital Christmas Card plan.

So here’s to all our adorable friends and family who will not be receiving a card this year. I will make it up to you guys next year but for now, please accept this digital Christmas card as a reminder that you are loved and it’s Christmas time again!

Christmas Card 2017