Ruesink Update – House Hacking

Jake and I are doing exciting things!…and no, tiny humans are not involved.

If you follow me on social media, you may have heard already that Jake and I are embarking on our next big adventure! And no, it does not involve a tiny human.

This week, Jake and I closed on our second home, a house just a few minutes South West of our condo in Austin. We absolutely love our condo and are sad to be leaving it but we’re very excited about our new adventure. Now, you may be thinking, “Jackie, didn’t you just get your condo? Haven’t you been married less than a year? How and why are you buying a second home already?” Well, my curious friend, I’m happy to answer all of your questions!

Jake and I bought our condo in November of 2016. It’s small, cute, and in a fantastic location in Austin, within walking distance of a Torchy’s Tacos. It’s in a quiet community, on a bus line, and is no more or less space than we’ve needed for just the two of us and Stella. We really hit the jackpot with this one.

But Jake has spent the last few years studying the real estate philosophy made popular by BiggerPockets called House Hacking. The idea behind house hacking is that instead of buying a single-family home, you buy a multi-family home (duplex, triplex, or 4-plex) and live in one unit while renting out the rest. This allows you to essentially live for free and even make a profit. So using this philosophy, we’ll be renting out our sweet little condo and learning how to be awesome landlords.

“But, Jackie, you bought a single-family home…that doesn’t count, does it?”

Well, no, not exactly. Single-family homes aren’t exactly what BiggerPockets suggests as ideal for house hacking. Jake and I tried to buy a duplex but ran into some tricky financial boundaries that we just couldn’t commit to right now. We tried and learned and now we know some of the restrictions we’ll face if we attempt to buy a multi-family property again in the future.

The current plan for our new adventure is to live in this house for the next few years, fixing it up, and renting out rooms on Airbnb to help fund our home improvement projects. Once we’ve saved enough and are ready to move on, we’ll rent this house out just like we’re renting the condo and move on to Property #3. We’ll continue this process until either managing multiple properties gets to be too much or until we decide we actually hate moving and should really stop.

While Jake and I may not be following the ideal house hacking model, ideally we’ll be setting ourselves up for a secure financial future that will allow us the freedom to spend our lives doing what we feel is most important: loving God and serving others.

“But Jackie, you know nothing about being a landlord. What on earth makes you think you’ll be able to do this?”

You’re absolutely right. As of maybe a month ago, I knew nothing about what it takes to be a great landlord. But I’m learning. BiggerPockets literally wrote the book on managing rental properties and Jake and I have been studying like college students who care. We’re approaching this whole management thing like a business, and as such Jake is putting his degree to work while I’m getting some hands-on experience setting up efficient business processes. We have a lot to learn and I’m sure we’ll find in this process that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do but we are nevertheless positively pumped to fail and learn and succeed.

All of this to say, the Ruesinks really are up to something big and we would love your prayers as we take on this new challenge. Ultimately, we’re hoping that God uses this adventure as an opportunity to minister for His kingdom. However, we’d also appreciate prayers for our marriage as we’re basically going into business together which certainly adds a new dynamic to our relationship.

Finally, we’d like prayers for our hearts to resist the compulsion of greed. Yes, financial security would be great but God does not say that Christian’s lives will be financially secure. We are repeatedly told that as believers, we can expect to encounter hard times. While the financial benefits of our plan are appealing, we want to focus our hearts not on money (which God can take away whenever He so desires) but on the lives we’ll have a chance to impact through the doors this adventure opens.

Jake and I recognize that God has given us more than we need in this life and we want to be good stewards of everything that he’s given us. We want to enter into this adventure with the intentional mindset that what resources we have are God’s first and we’re just taking care of things for Him. We appreciate your prayers as we move into this exciting next phase of life and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!

PSA: Christmas Has Changed

If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas is different as an adult.

PSA: Christmas Has ChangedSo Friends, I have a confession: I hate surprises. Mostly when I know they’re coming. Christmas has always been a fun challenge of my stealth skills as I’ve always done everything within my power to know my gifts ahead of time. My parents were pretty great at being Santa Claus but the magic didn’t last long because they never anticipated my extreme impatience and ninja skills.

I remember as a kid sneaking down the staircase and watching them set up all my gifts and taking bites from cookies. When they’d go back to bed, I’d walk around and check out some of my new toys and leave them right where my parents had left them so that no one would know I’d gotten up in the middle of the night.

When I got older and my family stopped doing Santa gifts, I would go on hunts through the house to find my presents before they were wrapped. This usually happened right around when school started because my mother is famous for doing Christmas shopping WAY too early.

And when I started working at a toy store in high school and college, I became so great at wrapping presents that I could skillfully and stealthily unwrap whatever was under the tree for me and re-wrap it, making Christmas morning much more fun by getting to act shocked and surprised.

I still don’t like surprises but since I’m a grown-up now, I don’t have the opportunity for stealthy Christmas antics. More than that though, I think I’m losing Christmas spirit as I get older. Maybe I need to sing louder for all to hear but I really do feel like Christmas cheer is harder to generate these days. In school, there were always breaks for holidays but my big girl job isn’t quite so generous. And now that Jake and I are married, figuring out the holidays has gotten a lot more complicated.

I think part of the reason Christmas feels less magical though is that my priorities have changed. I care a whole lot less about the presents under the tree these days and a whole lot more about celebrating Baby Jesus with my family. While I am still a firm believer in holiday traditions, I hold on to them as an adult for the time spent with loved ones rather than for the magic of preparing for Santa. So maybe, the magic isn’t harder to come by, maybe Christmas is just a different kind of magic as an adult.

Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling the magic this year, I hope you hold on to the hope that Jesus’ birth brings and make your own brand of Christmas magic with the people you love.

Merry Christmas, Friends!


Kids: A Psa

No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, we’re planning to have kids, but when that happens is not your concern.

As Jake and I close in on our first marriage anniversary, it has not escaped my notice that one question seems to permeate so many of my discussions lately: “when are you guys having kids?” While most people are genuinely just trying to make conversation or mean the question to tease, I’m becoming more and more annoyed by it. I expect this question from my parents, in-laws, and grandparents, but if that’s not you, I honestly don’t want to hear it.

Yes, Jake and I would love to have kids. But our timing and intentions are not really anyone’s business but our own. We have ideas and plans for how we would like to spend our limited time together before parenthood and we’d like to accomplish as much on our list as possible.

We know our plans and lives are not our own and if God chooses to bless us with a baby earlier than expected, we’ll welcome him or her with open, loving arms. But we’d also like to enjoy our time together before that happens.

So please, before you ask a friend/coworker/sibling/couple/stranger when they’re planning to have kids, remember that it’s not really your business. If and when they choose to produce offspring, they’ll let you know. Until then, pray that their marriage will be strengthened in this time without children and kindly keep your mouth shut.

My Cozy Go-To Holiday Read (And My Winter Reading List!)

I have a favorite book to read around this time of year…do you?

My Cozy Go-To Holiday Read

I just love this time of year, don’t you? It’s a little bit cooler and the air is filled with excitement and urgency for the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, though, and my instinct when things start getting a little crazy is to pick up a book.

My holiday go-to is Pride and Prejudice. I can read this book any time of year but for some reason, I’m always drawn to it around the holidays. Maybe it has something to do with the resemblance of the Bennett family to my own, or the fact that my bestie and I were obsessed with the book (and 2005 movie) all throughout high school, but this book always feels like coming home.

I have a good friend who feels the same kind of way about Wuthering Heights and she unashamedly rereads it every year around this time. I think there’s just something about classic literature that is comforting and that speaks to our souls differently than modern novels and stories can. And when life gets crazy as it often does around this time of year, we want something warm and cozy to wrap up in.

Now that I’ve rambled enough about holiday reading, I can get to the good stuff! 😉

For my last reading list I realized that seven books may be a bit ambitious with how busy I am. So for my Winter Reading List, I’m implementing stretch goals. It will be my goal to finish the last two books on my list but if I don’t, they’ll be the top two on my next list!

And, as I did last time, I will include a ☑️ next to the books I finish as I finish them so if you ever want to chat about a story or character when I’m done, I’m happy to do so!

So without further ado, here’s my Winter Reading List that I’m super stoked about!

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) ☑️

This is another book where if you haven’t read it or don’t know anything about it, we just can’t be friends. Read the book. Watch the movie. Get educated about this classic. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are some of the greatest characters ever written.

Attachments (Rainbow Rowell) ☑️

This is a quirky story that follows a guy named Lincoln whose job is to read email conversations between employees at a company to make sure they’re in compliance with company policy. However, long emails between friends Beth and Jennifer take lonely Lincoln by surprise when he realizes he has deep feelings for one of the girls.

Quality is Free (Philip Crosby)

I’m currently reading Quality is Free for professional development at work and I find it absolutely fascinating. This book is one of the first written about the internal quality management of a company. The idea is that quality (compliance with set standards) is free but not complying to high standards of quality can be very costly. If you’re a process, quality assurance, or organization operations nerd like me and you haven’t already read this, I highly recommend it.

Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)☑️

This movie came out in November and I had no idea it was a book. I know, shame on me. I should just always assume movies are books first because so often they are. This classic detective novel is set on a train on its way from Istanbul to London and is filled with quirky and suspicious characters in a real whodunit mystery (my favorite).

Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng) ☑️

As much as this book is another mystery novel, it is also a story about family and our struggles to understand those closest to us. Set in Ohio in the 1970s, the Everything I Never Told You follows a Chinese American family’s descent into chaos when their favorite daughter’s body is found in the local lake. This one was on the top of all the lists in 2014 but I’m just now getting around to it and I’m pumped to read it!

Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly)

I, like most of America, absolutely loved this movie and cannot wait to read this book. For my friends who live under a rock, Hidden Figures is about three brilliant African-American women at NASA who become the brains behind launching John Glenn into orbit. Filled with girl power, inspiration, and the beautiful story of kicking discrimination in the butt, Hidden Figures is the true non-fiction story of how Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson changed history.

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff (Chip Gaines) ☑️

I am a woman from Texas therefore I’m obsessed with Fixer Upper (HGTV) and Chip and Joanna Gaines in general. So of course I have to read Chip’s new book Capital Gaines where he talks about things his mentors taught him and, like the title suggests, all the things he’s learned from taking risks and being his crazy-antics self. I’m excited to hear what he has to say about business but I’m also just excited to hear all his crazy stories because you know they’ll be good.

What do you think? Will you be joining along this winter? Read any of these already? Let’s chat!

When Your Husband Bleeds Maroon

Why are you whooping?

When Your Husband Bleeds MaroonMy husband Jake is my favorite person on this planet. But he’s also an Aggie.

If, like me, you grew up in the great state of Texas, you know that there are two kinds of Aggies, two-percenters and those who bleed maroon. My husband is the latter. Sometimes I think he is the spirit of Aggieland here in Austin.

Growing up, many of my friends were Aggies. Most people in my church and a lot from my school went to Texas A&M and my best friend is a proud member of the fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2011. Aggies have been everywhere in my life but not once has their cult-like brand of enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I’ve never gotten into the spirit of Aggieland.

Funny how that happens, right?

One of the things I’ve learned being married to Jake is that to him, being an Aggie isn’t just about where he got his degree, it’s a huge part of his identity. It’s safe to say his parents brainwashed him from an early age so he’s literally been an Aggie all his life. As such, he doesn’t (like to) miss football games (though sometimes that’s unavoidable) and he’s equally dedicated to the A&M basketball team as well. He even follows baseball in the spring. This kid is committed, let me tell ya.

While I really don’t understand it, I’ve learned that one of the best ways I can love Jake is by prioritizing Aggie [insert sport here] when I can. Recently he had some friends who were kind enough to invite us to a football game on the spur of a whim. He asked me Saturday morning if I would like to go to the game that night and I agreed. While the height of our seats nearly made me throw up, I know how much it meant to my sweet husband to be there. I will probably never get into Aggie sports the way Jake probably wishes I would. But I’ve figured out that making them important in my life (even when I think they’re dumb) is a quick way to my husband’s heart.

Jake and I at Kyle Field

I don’t know if you are married (or will be) to someone like my Jake. But just a quick word of marriage advice: your spouse is not going to change who they are but you can change how you love them. We will always run into things about our spouses that we don’t like whether it’s the way they do the dishes, or how much time they spend watching sports, or that they say “remote” instead of “switch” when referring to the device that changes the channels on a TV. None of that matters, really, but letting these things bother us isn’t loving them, it’s letting the enemy break apart your marriage.

I will never understand my husband’s Aggie-hood but I will not let it be a barrier to our marriage. It’s going to take humility and patience at times but I want to love this man the very best that I can.

Anyways, maybe you have an Aggie in your life that you struggle to relate to (you probably do, they’re everywhere). I hope this little story helps.

If you have no idea about the spirit of Texas A&M, that’s fine too, thanks for reading my really long rant. Let’s be friends!

How to Adult: Hosting for the Holidays

Planning to host friends or family this holiday season and not sure where to start? Here’s some simple ideas to be the hostest with the mostest (even if you have no idea what you’re doing)!

How to Adult: Hosting for the HolidaysWith the holiday season in full swing, it seems like Jake and I have a party or event to attend every other weekend! With so much going on, I’m not sure we’ll get around to hosting anything ourselves this year but getting to be a party-goer so often recently has given me plenty of ideas for being a better party-thrower. Here are a few simple tips and tricks to have your friends thinking you’re profesh at throwing holiday parties!

  • Set the melodic mood – No matter the size or theme of your party, (background) music is super helpful in creating the right atmosphere. Spend some time on Spotify curating a playlist to help the evening flow just the way you envision.
  • Get your stuff clean – I know this sounds incredibly silly but having a clean home is absolutely necessary. Clear the clutter from the main rooms your guests will occupy and make sure your kitchen and bathroom are sparkling. Why did I add kitchen? Because if you’re serving any time of food and your kitchen is a hot mess, it reflects poorly on whatever you just slaved over to serve. Trust me, clean your stuff.
  • Arrange seating – You can take this piece of advice as literally as you would like. My original thought was along the lines of making sure you have enough places for your guests to sit comfortably (my and Jake’s biggest challenge in our 600 square feet). But if you’re having a dinner party, you may want to pre-arrange seating so that your guests have the best time possible. After all, you know your guests probably better than they know each other. If you think people will click, sit them next to each other and watch new friendships form. Similarly, if you think certain personalities won’t work in close quarters, seat them away from each other.
  • Have a place for jackets/purses – This is something small that a lot of people don’t seem to think about any more. Having a designated spot where people can dump their junk keeps your party area looking and feeling cleaner and bigger and your guests will appreciate not having to look after a jacket or carry their purse all evening.
  • Give your guests something to do – I really like the idea of assigning friends or family with certain tasks throughout the night to ease the burden of hosting. If you don’t think it’s classy to assign guests with cleaning or cooking duties throughout the evening, how about assigning a particularly friendly guest with making sure everyone is introduced? Or, if you have a friend with a good sense of the mood in the room, how about putting them in charge of your playlist for the evening? Play up the strengths of the friends or family that you involve and make sure everyone is game for it before the party, but having helpers definitely makes the multi-tasking host’s life a little bit easier
  • Have lighting set the mood – Similar to music, lighting is a huge factor in creating your ideal party atmosphere. Want people to dance? Make it dark and, if you have them, turn on the party lights. Want your guests to participate in a game? Keep the lights bright enough so that they know what’s going on. Not sure what kind of lighting is best? I’d suggest lower light or candlelight because it makes everyone glow and brings people together!
  • Light it up with vanilla extract – This is possibly my favorite trick! Before guests arrive, spray or dab vanilla extract onto lightbulbs near the party area. Do this while the light is off so that when you turn it on for the party, the heat will release the vanilla and make your party smell delicious!

Have any other go-to party tricks? I can’t wait to try these out next time Jake and I host at our place! If you try them before me, let me know how it goes in the comments!

You Are More Than Your Cat-Eye

There’s so much more to girls than our ability to get the perfect cat-eye…although that’s an awesome skill.

You Are More Than Your Cat-EyeConfession: I’m a girly girl who never got into makeup.

I’m not really sure how that happened. I was a cheerleader and a drama kid so I learned those kinds of heavy-duty makeup skills early on. But day-to-day makeup never really stuck with me. I have friends and family who do amazing things with concealer and eyeliner, contouring and cat-eye but I’ve just never been interested. Not because I’m not fascinated by the whole process but because I’ve never felt like makeup-me was actually me.

I remember having a conversation in high school with my friend and her mom in the car and they asked why I didn’t wear makeup and I responded “because I don’t think I need it.” And then immediately regretted coming off so full of myself.

But it’s not that I think I’m a supermodel or anything. I just don’t feel like anything about my face or skin needs to be hidden or highlighted or concealed. I think the real me, with a clean face and sunscreen, is so much more comfortable than makeup-me. And I wish more girls felt the same way in their skin.

I have nothing against makeup. I wear it on special occasions and I totally think it makes women look extra-stunning. What I don’t like is that there are girls who see makeup as a necessity for beauty. Like they can’t be pretty without putting their face on in the morning. This ideology makes my heart so sad.

I hope that if I’m lucky enough to have a daughter she would measure beauty not by makeup and beauty products, but by people’s character, confidence, and loving actions. I think this is an important part of improving this world we live in because enforcing the idea that girls can’t be pretty without makeup is a harmful, deceitful, unnecessary, ugly lie. And girls already face so many patronizing, demeaning lies in this world.

If you are a girl who rocks a killer contour, I envy you. But I also hope you rock days without makeup just as confidently. Take a page from Alicia Key’s book and learn to be comfortable in your own skin, just as God created you. And let’s start working together to create a world where girls see the beauty in health, confidence, and caring for others.