Thursday, November 17, 2016

Planning Thanksgiving and a Birthday

Thanksgiving is just a week away and for those that are hosting this year this means that it is crunch time. If you are anything like me, you've have been searching the internet high and low on how to make the perfect turkey and how to host a flawless holiday dinner.
Planning Thanksgiving by Helmig Haus
So to help you out I am going to copy some links to what has worked for me in the past as well as show you what I am planning this year.

Planning 101

Whether you are a minimalist or you go all out, the key to having a successful Thanksgiving dinner is planning in advance. Ways to plan are:

To send out invites or not? That is the question: Is it a formal gathering or casual? This is truly just a personal preference. This year I opted to create the invite but just post it as a Facebook event cover photo. 
Planning Thanksgiving
Our 2016 Thanksgiving Invite
The menu: Yes, for most, the turkey is a given, but what will be served alongside of this glorious dish? Traditional sides like sweet potato casserole? Or a more modern or even a healthier version of your family's favorite recipes. 

Make sure that you have enough food for everyone. In this case less is not more! You can find many free printables to help keep you on budget, help you calculate the right amount of food for your Thanksgiving crowd and keep you on track right up until you take that prize winning picture of your blue ribbon roasted turkey on Pinterest. 

Want the best, no fail turkey brine? You have to check out The Pioneer Woman's recipe. I have used this method year after year without fail and the bird comes out juicy and delicious every time. Want to know a little secret? For the juiciest turkey breast...flip the bird! No seriously, roast your bird breast-side down for most of the cooking time, only flipping it right side up when it is time to give it that golden brown tan. It won't be the prettiest bird, but you'll thank me for it.
Planning Thanksgiving
Photo: The Pioneer Woman website
Decorating: let's face it, until recently not much stock was placed on decorating for Thanksgiving, but now it is so thrilling to see how people are embracing the trend of decorating beyond the dinning room table. Great sources of inspiration can be found on Pinterest and YouTube. The best stores to buy decorations and servingware, without breaking the budget, are:

Traditions: Keeping family traditions is what this holiday is all about. Watching or even playing football, choosing teams for a hilarious game of charades, sitting around watching old home movies and reminiscing about old times are just some of the things that keep drawing families back home. Don't have any of these or don't care for them? Make your own!

This will be our first Thanksgiving in our new home and even though I created my own 12 page Thanksgiving planner I am just so far behind. I created it in mid-October... and I just printed it 2 days ago. There was just no way I could focus with all the craziness going on right now. But host a Thanksgiving dinner (and my daughter's 17th birthday) I will.

Two of my greatest sources of inspiration are Jen from Pretty Neat Living and Nikki from At Home with Nikki. Both ladies are masters at organizing but especially during the holidays. If you have never seen these videos, I highly recommend you do so. *warning, these links will open up in YouTube so adjust your speakers if you are at work!

Follow me on Instagram @ enlforever91.helmighaus and Facebook @ Helmig Haus where I will be posting pics of my Thanksgiving prep, setup and decor, the birthday girl and her cake and maybe even a little bit more...maybe I will get a little adventurous and post a mini IG video or something, who knows... 

Need more inspiration? Click on my Thanksgiving Pin board for some quick ideas.

For a more in-depth post about our family's Thanksgiving traditions click here.

Happy Holidays! ♥OX (love, hugs + kisses)

L.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Buying a Short Sale - Our Story

Go grab a cup of coffee... this is going to be a long one...sorry


Buying a home is scary enough for anyone, buying a short-sale is nothing short of a nightmare for your nerves, even if you are a Realtor and know what to expect! So needless to say, buying this home and moving into a completely different neighborhood had taken it's toll stress-wise. It's a never ending roller-coaster ride from beginning to end with our sanity hanging on by a mere thread.

Let me start off by saying that this is not the first home that we have owned. We too got suckered into purchasing a home, in Florida no less, pre-2006 and also got hurt by the housing bubble that followed shortly thereafter. We were one of the lucky ones that were able to deed the property back to the bank and calmly wait out the hit our credit took until the banks would even consider us again.

Around 3 years ago I had been helping out some good friends of ours with their own house hunt and, after speaking with the lender they chose, I realized that buying a home was in our reach again! We were definitely worried about taking such a huge risk again but if you ever read any of my past posts you know that we were practically living on top of each other in our Queens apartment.

After many late night talks and weighing the pros and cons we cautiously decided that it would be worth another attempt to become homeowners. We vowed not to take such a huge risk, and fall into the housing trap again. This time we were smarter and really made sure to do our homework.

Here is what we did:

  1. Kept our searches below the pre-approved amount the lender had given us.
  2. Reduced our monthly debt using Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover
  3. Started putting as much money into savings that we could to cover the closing costs (not part of Dave Ramsey's plan, but it still kinda worked)
  4. Made a list of needs, wants and likes
  5. Started visiting neighborhoods in Long Island that we might want to live in (we couldn't afford Queens)
  6. Wrote EVERYTHING down in a journal. Every detail, thoughts, conversations with anyone that had to do with the home buying process.

The one journal that kept me sane and focused.
Everyone knows that NYC and Long Island home prices are very high so our only option was to buy a fixer upper and/or a short sale. My husband was skeptical, he would have preferred move-in ready, didn't want to move out to Long Island and hated the thought of commuting longer than the 10 minutes it was taking him to get to work at that time. But, knowing how much having our own home meant to me, finally gave in and at least made an attempt to see houses outside of his preferred area.

After touring a few houses that in our opinion should have been condemned or that were bizarre at best, we found one that we actually liked. No, it wasn't the one we ultimately purchased, we lost that first house to a bidding war. The house we did buy was not even on our radar... it had been sitting vacant, as a short sale, for close to a year! Who knew what could have been wrong with it!

After ignoring this house for weeks, I finally gave in and went to see it when the broker was holding an open house with my niece. The minute I walked through the door, I could imagine friends and family hanging out, all the celebrations we could have and most importantly, I could see the house's potential. I raced back to Queens, picked up my husband and dragged him to go see the house. He unfortunately didn't have the same vision...

After talking at length, we decided that the house was out of our range, but not by much and decided to pass on it. UNTIL... the very next day I got the notification that the broker lowered the price, we looked at each other and after 10 intense minutes decided to call the broker at 9am and put in the offer...it was accepted that night! A week later we had the home inspection, 28 days after we put in the offer we were under contract!!! And the rest was history... yeah right.

Actual journal entry
It took 8 long, agonizing months to get to closing. My side was ready to close within 2 months, it was the short sale bank that controlled it, that screwed up week after week. It took 2 months just to get the short sale bank to acknowledge that they received the contract and that they were reviewing it, Then radio silence from them until May 2016. No matter how much the broker threatened that she was going to report them, they just gave excuse after ridiculous excuse such as they misplaced the file, items that were sent multiple times were missing, etc., etc., etc. After finding horrible reviews about the short sale bank, we were about to give up and walk away.

This journal entry says it all
Fast forward to May 18th - my lender texted me that the bank was ready to close and that we had to hurry up and make it quick. But by this time all of our financial info was out of date with the lender and the underwriter wanted us to resubmit all documents and a few extra ones. Talk about ratcheting up the stress to level 100! We had to pull all this information together, pack, schedule the move, pray that our landlord would let us out of the newly signed lease that he demanded we sign while we waited for the bank to approve the short sale and go sign the transfer for our daughter's new school all within 2 weeks until the June 1st closing. What made it worse is that we had to give our landlord 30 days notice to move so with only 2 weeks that meant that we had to pay June's rent as well and move out June 30th. Sounds simple, but it wasn't.

Closing day itself was stressful with having to go back and forth between Queens and Long Island for the final walk-through, bank checks, the actual closing and then back to the house to change the locks. We left our apartment at 8am and didn't return to it until well after 11pm that night. Whew...if you think that it's over I have future posts coming to disprove this thought! I promise I will do my best to make them much, much shorter!

Thanks for hanging in there!
Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A letter from the Editor (blogger) whatever,you understand...

HelmigHaus - Letter from the Editor

My last post was April of this year. That is so sad... I mean, how can I call myself a blogger if I don't keep up with my blog! It's not that I don't want to blog but this has been one crazy year. Too many ups and downs, so many things to worry about, packing, moving, unpacking, flooding... oh wait... I forgot to mention the most important part! 

We bought a HOUSE! ...say what?!

On that note, I want to say sorry for not following through, for not posting, for not striving to improve this blog. I really wanted to share this journey, to get advice, to get some feedback but there was really no time to actually sit and write. And, I'm sorry, I don't like how I sound and look on video, so no YouTube for this lady here. At least for now... It's been so bad that we haven't even had time to open our Etsy shop back up. But that will hopefully change someday.

I guess you can already figure out what direction this blog is going to take now, right? You guessed it! I will be sharing house projects, dilemmas, and triumphs. I know, I know, there are SO many blogs that already do this (and they do the YouTube thing too) but at the end of the day many bloggers just want to share what they go through so others can learn from it as well.

Besides house projects, disasters, DIYs and purchases, you can expect the usual posts about planners, checklists, hauls, holidays and other celebrations, party planning and housekeeping in general. What you won't see are clothes and makeup because let's face it, I am just an ordinary mom and there are so many other talented ladies that look way better than me!

So if you are just the tiniest bit curious as to what I may have to share, I invite you to follow and share this blog and my social media accounts. At least you can have a good laugh at my expense. It's not like I can make any money off of this blogger account because the Gods at Google decided that it was not meant to be. I hope that you'll join me and offer up tips and advice or share in the laughs. We are in for a wild ride!

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 

Friday, April 08, 2016

My Bullet Journal: Life Organized

My Bullet Journal: Life Organized

As promised in my last post, I said that I would go more in depth and show more of my bullet journal planner. I gotta say that sharing it so publicly is sort of daunting. A planner is a very personal thing, it records as much or as little as we care to write within it. It's so intimate, nevermore so than when you are keeping tabs of what you consider the most important to you. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

I must confess, I follow great bullet journal enthusiasts through Instagram and am a part of four different bullet journal Facebook groups. All of those people are so very talented, they have taken Ryder's original idea and have made such beautiful spreads that are constantly evolving as they devise systems to fit their needs. And then there are others who show the beauty in the simplicity of their journals, people who inspire me not through their decoration but instead with what and how they track their collections and tasks. Where do I fit into all of this...somewhere in between :)

For reference: I use a Moleskine squared notebook, a pencil to plan my pages and a Pilot precise V7 RT pen, various sized post it notes and colored pencils. I love washi tape, but for some reason it doesn't look right to me in my BuJo (short for bullet journal) and I wouldn't imagine putting stickers in it. I love the black and white look with just a few hints of color.

My journal key page and index

Some people using the bullet journal system suffer with the forward planning aspect that they are accustomed using a traditional planner. By using this yearly calendar forward planning is no longer a problem!
My calendar - a full year in review/forward planning
My favorite part of using the bullet journal system is keeping track of the little things... the goals that I have set for myself, places I would love to visit, my bucket list, even tracking movies that are coming out that I want to see and books that I should (or am dying) to read.

My 2016 Goals / places to visit in 2016 and my Bucket List Collections

Movies I want to watch / Books I want to read and my Level Up Collections

I use the monthly tracker to remind me of appointments, special events and holidays, all at a glance. Yes, I am migrating some information from the yearly calendar to the monthly but I find that in doing so it helps to reinforce my biggest weakness - not remembering about an upcoming event until the very last minute. (or Facebook surprising me that it is someone's birthday...)

My April monthly calendar at a glance
Another feature that evolves month to month is the monthly tracker, otherwise known as a habit tracker. I have seen a few different types of habit trackers, if there is a habit that you are looking to track it's best to use a system that will work for you.

The beginning of my April monthly tracker
There is one spread that I am working hard to tweak, it is titled "This Week".I have one page for my home and another for my blog and Etsy shop. I just recently starting using this and  I am still trying to figure out what exactly I want/need to keep track of. I also am a Realtor and wonder if I should track certain things in my personal BuJo or if I should create a new one exclusively for my real estate business. On the home spread I am tracking meal planning, water intake, and non-date specific tasks that I want to accomplish that week. On my business page I track when and if I post on social media, a task list for the blog, items I need to focus on in my Etsy account, my current works in progress projects, social media stats and a wish list of items that I am considering buying and need to research.

My "This Week" spread for home and business tracking
Last, but not least, is the weekly spread. I used to just focus on one day at a time, repeating the same template, daily. Now I take two pages and split them evenly, leaving space to doodle and write in quotes that speak to me that week. I also track the weather and the temperature, I think its cute and fun to be able to look back and see what the weather was like during a particular time in my life and see if and how it influenced my tracking that day.

My weekly spread in my BuJo.
I can't tell you how much more organized I've become. Being able to create my own journal, tailored to my exact needs has led me to make such amazing changes in my life. It has made me become more organized in my home. I have finally recreated the cleaning schedule that I wrote out for myself all the years ago at the beginning of my marriage. It has also kept me hyper focused on my finances, paying down debt that has been holding me and my family back from enjoying life and each other. It frees up my thoughts so I can focus on more important things, my family.

Want to see more of what we've been up to? Click on the links at the top of this post and follow me!

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Current Obsession - Bullet Journaling

Bullet Journaling...it's become really popular recently, even more so than the Erin Condren planner or the Filofax. The system, for those as yet unfamiliar with it, was created by Ryder Caroll. He developed a simple way to keep track of tasks, lists and reminders with just using a notebook and in doing so has created a community that has taken their planners to the next level. It is planning in it's most basic form and yet is one of the most functional ways to stay organized. To view his system follow this link.

For others, like myself, it has morphed into a mix of a bullet journal, sketch book, planner and diary. It reminds me of when I used to doodle in my notebooks in school, when I  kept a diary tucked away from prying eyes and then, when I got married, using notebooks to create cleaning schedules and other tasks that I had to keep track of. Since the age of 16, I have used some sort of planner or another to keep track of important dates and appointments, most times they were simple, cheap yearly planners that were very boring (this was before I found the planner community). My biggest problem was that I was purchasing a planner every year but was not using it to it's fullest potential and would get so bored with it that I would just give up on it 3 months in. 

My old planners... pretty boring right?!

Once I discovered the planner community with their vast collection of washi tapes, stickers and pens I was hooked! I loved all of the creativity that I saw, the way that people were decorating their monthly and weekly spreads, not to mention the dashboards and the way that they decorated their planners in general. I so badly wanted a Filofax or an Erin Condren of my own but I couldn't bring myself to shell out the money for them. So at first I experimented with a Mom Planner from Day Timer (see below). It wasn't a Filofax but, since I was using it as a test run, it served my purpose. As with any new hobby, I loved it at first. I didn't have time to decorate it, nor did I want to spend the money to buy stickers that wouldn't even work for this type of planner, but just the feel of it in my hands made me happy. Let me explain, for me there is something magical about holding a book in my hands, it brings me joy. The fact that this was a book that I could customize to my liking was even better. However as the months went by I found myself not wanting to lug it around with me everywhere I went and after 5 months I just never bothered with it again. 

Mom Planner by Day Timer
Inside the Mom Planner

It was during this time that I had discovered the bullet journal system through Pinterest. I was intrigued but not really interested in it at the time. It wasn't until I was trying to find a way to keep track of tasks at work that decided to give it a try. Around this time I had also found Kara Benz from Boho Berry on YouTube, her bullet journal was just amazing so I implemented some of her ideas into my own bullet journal (or BuJo for short). I loved the way that it simplified my life so I decided in January of this year to do a separate personal one. All I can say is that I don't think that I can ever go back to the regular annual planner. Never before have  I felt the freedom to use a planner as I see fit. It is tailored to my needs and if I get bored with the design I just turn the page and design something new.

Journal Key and Index

Year View Calendar

Part of my collection of lists

Monthly Calendar View

Part of a weekly view and my monthly tracker.
Aside from tasks,  events and appointments I tend to record 
the weather, holidays,  quotes and doodle in the extra spaces. 
The way that I do my BuJo is not to everyone's liking, it is time consuming but I find comfort in the ritual. I don't use washi tape or stickers and I rarely use any color other than a black gel pen but I do decorate my journal with doodles and quotes, usually related to what I am feeling that day. I want these journals to be a reflection of me, something to look back on as I get older. What influenced me, what concerned me and what was most important to me at that moment in time. There is no one way to do a bullet journal, it is what you make of it and how you make it work for you.

For those wondering, I use a Moleskine squared notebook and a Pilot Precise V7 RT pen. I get my quotes and my inspiration for most of my doodles from Pinterest. I have a board dedicated to planners, I hope you follow it!

         

Next week I'll try to post a quick spread of April's layout as well as go more in depth about my collections that I keep in my BuJo. I hope you come back to check it out as I will be changing my design up yet again! 

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Back at the Helm...

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with things going on in your life that you tend to drift away from that which once gave you joy? That is exactly what happened to me in 2015. I was doing way too much, trying to do it all and one day I just threw my hands up and gave up. Working my 9-5, trying to grow the shop, getting back into real estate and all the work that goes into making just one blog post, not to mention promoting it, just burned me out.

So here I am, more than a year since my last post, testing the waters so to speak. To be honest I miss blogging, however my life is no less hectic. I am still working a full time job, but now its more like a 7am-3:30pm, I am still in real estate (part time) and J and I are still running the shop. I know this is not realistic, but I am a person that cannot stay idle for long. Yes, nothing is getting my full attention, therefore nothing has really taken off but I am still testing the waters as to what works and what doesn't. My biggest problem has been that I have been hard on myself, seeing only the failures and not seeing the small successes that I have experienced. I don't know about you but I tend to be very critical of all that I do and what I expect out of life.

But I am a little more focused now, I know that I have limits, so here is what I plan for this year (kind of like my mini mission statement):
  • I will post at least once a week on this blog and share it into my current social media accounts.
  • My main focus will be talking about crafting and our Etsy shop
  • There will be posts about my current interests: (how I plan my week, a peak into my journaling style, books that interest me, current and future projects as well as budgeting and debt reduction)
This is by all means not an exhaustive list. I am pretty sure that other ideas will come to me as my mind is always jumping to new ideas which I tend to research to death.

But I am curious, have you every experienced a year long burn out? How did you handle it? Did you ever get back into the swing of things and continued on, business as usual? Or, did you give it all up and started new?

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

#WomensLives - An Intro to the Movement to Empower Women

#WomensLives-An Intro to the Movement to Empower Women via Helmig Haus
I am happy to announce that our blog has been selected to participate in the joint initiative between She Knows Media and Public Radio International through a Blogher campaign to discuss women's struggles throughout the world and how people are fighting for reform and swift action to empower more women and teach our girls that they do matter!

As a mother of two girls, I was eager to be a part of this campaign. I struggle everyday to make sure that my girls realize that they have a voice, that they can stand up for themselves and that they can always dream bigger. Unfortunately, there are many women, especially young girls all over the world that do not have someone telling them that. Women have been fighting for their voices to be heard, to not suffer in the shadows and now, through this initiative we have a chance to shed light on their plights, to fight the injustice that plagues our girls and to lend a helping hand to those women who want equality.

Those participating in the initiative will be sharing stories through social media and their blogs with the tag #WomensLives. We ask that when you see it you also share our posts (or tweets) so that we can continue spreading the word to help make a change for women across the globe! 

"Be the change you wish to see in the world! Mahatma Gandhi
As some of you know I have been resisting adding my blog to Facebook because of issues that I have had in the past but, due to this amazing opportunity, I finally let it go and have now created a dedicated Facebook page for our blog! To see what we are sharing today just visit our page. It is our hope that you will join us and lend your voice to this great cause!

 Click on this link to find us on Facebook! Helmig Haus
 Click on this link to find us on Facebook!
Helmig Haus

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you come back real soon! ♥XO (Love, Hugs & Kisses)

L. 
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