Friday, December 14, 2012

Week 3 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway and Delicious Christmasy Red Velvet Brownies!

Week 3 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway starts today and I'd like to start by congratulating Kassandra Camponi on winning the 'Boho Love' Bracelet!  I will be having one last jewellery giveaway this week and instead of including a DIY for it, I have attached a recipe for some Christmasy Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies!

So, what can you win this week?  This week I'm giving away a beautiful, gold toned, metal hand stamped bracelet with the word 'LOVE' on it.  It would be a beautiful Christmas gift for a friend but I won't judge you if you keep it for yourself!  You can enter the contest 2 ways (to be entered a maximum of 2 times):
1.  Like my Facebook Post today on The Refurbished Ruby's Facebook Page announcing the start of Week 3 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway
2.  Like my Instagram picture via Instagram featuring this bracelet

Now, on to the brownies!  I l-o-v-e brownies.  There's something so comforting about them.  They're also a hit at my house because my husband will actually eat them.  Generally he doesn't really like chocolate but chocolate brownies, he will devour.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for recipes of baked goodies that were red in colour when I came across this Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie Recipe.  Red velvet cupcakes are one of my favourite types of cupcakes so naturally I was drawn to this recipe.  As a bonus, this recipe wasn't just a cheesecake recipe;  it was a brownie recipe with a cheesecake topping/icing so I knew I could justify making it since, being a brownie, my husband would want to eat it.

You can find the recipe here.  I made a little heart in the centre to fix the ugly markings I left on the top from checking if the brownie had been baked all the way through.  I like how the finished brownie looks so Christmasy with the red and white swirls.  Let me know how it turns out for you!  I'm sure it will be a winner all year around!

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, December 7, 2012

DIY 'Boho Love' Bracelet

'Boho Love' Bracelet
Today is Friday which means Week 2 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway starts today and I have another jewellery DIY for you!  

I'd first like to say a big congratulations to Nora Salem for winning the 'On The Rocks' Necklace during Week 1 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway!  I hope you enjoy it and for those of you who didn't win, you can follow the DIY on how to make the necklace here or purchase it from my Etsy store.

This next DIY is for the 'Boho Love' Bracelet.  This bracelet has a bit of a Hippie vibe to it and can be worn with many different outfits.  I learned how to make these macrame friendship bracelets when I was about 7 and have always loved them.  I recently discovered how to make heart designs and decided it would be a nice DIY project to share with you as it is versatile and can be used for birthday gifts or Valentine's Day.  

I found a great tutorial online that guided me through the process which you can follow here.  If you've never made these types of bracelets before, I recommend reading this post to learn the basics.  The only differences between my bracelet and the one in the tutorial are the colours I used (I bought pink and black 100% cotton yarn from the Dollar Store), the length (I made mine a bit longer), and I added a vintage button as a clasp.  The button was easily attached by securing it in place with a few knots and then trimming the excess yarn to complete the bracelet. 

If you don't have time to make this little cutie, no worries!  For Week 2 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway, the prize is this bracelet!  The way you can enter the Giveaway is to like The Refurbished Ruby's Facebook Status Today announcing the start of Week 2 of the Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway.  You can also get an extra entry if you like The Refurbished Ruby's Instagram Post Today of this bracelet.  The winner will be announced on Facebook and this blog next Friday, December 14.  

That's it for today!  I hope you have a good weekend and for my Vancouver readers, I will be at Changes tomorrow (December 8, 2012) from 3-5pm making jewellery and if you buy 2 or more Refurbished Ruby pieces, you get $10 off!  So come visit me.  I'd love to meet you!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Confessions of a (Recovering) Shopaholic

Happy Wednesday everyone!  I hope that your week has gone well so far and you have exciting plans for the weekend.  Maybe a little Christmas shopping is on your to-do list.  I love shopping but I'm extra careful these days as I'm a recovering shopaholic.  It all started with a Mom who only bought clothes for us if it came from the sale rack and a school that was supersaturated with students that had expensive tastes and expendable incomes.  I too had an expendable income from babysitting and was allowed to use the money I made however I pleased.  Having learned from my Mom the value in sales but had the desire from my peers for designer labels, I would search sale racks finding trendy clothes for a fraction of the original cost.  It never mattered to me that I was spending all my pennies as long as I spent less than the original price.  And I was as happy as a clam in my money spending ways until I fell in love with a wonderful man who is much more fiscally responsible than myself.  Yes, this is my husband, the man who will proudly ask anyone the question, 'Who is cheap and has two thumbs?" and then excitedly point his thumbs to his chest saying, "This guy!"

When we became engaged and started talking about our finances is when I realized that my retail therapy days were about to end.  I had a significant amount of student loans which I genuinely needed to take as medical school is an expensive professional program.  And while I didn't go out and buy a Mercedes with my professional student line of credit, (yes, sadly some medical students do this), I had debt and therefore any extra money should be applied to basic costs of living (and no, a new pair of shoes just because I've been invited to a wedding and want something new does not count) or paying off debt.

Now, don't get me wrong.  My husband has in no way imprisoned me by freezing my credit card in a giant cube of ice in the freezer.  He has definitely kept us financially afloat by modelling practical spending behaviours and accepting the truth that right now, we live in a season where we can't have a lot of 'extras.'  Even though it's not easy, I've tried exceptionally hard to trim my extra spending in order to be a good financial team player instead of skimming from our bank accounts for the sake of my indulgences.

The purpose of this post is not for you to feel sorry for me but instead, I wanted to share with you some real life examples of ways I'm cutting down on my spending but am still enjoying life and living well.

1.  Starbucks at Home:  I no longer go to coffee shops to curb my spontaneous coffee cravings.  Instead, I found the same type of espresso machine Starbucks used to sell for making their signature lattes on Craigslist, bought it for $70 (normally retails for about $1000), got it fixed up for another $100, bought espresso coffee beans from Starbucks, and now make my husband and I as many lattes as we want at a fraction of the cost.

This is 'Maggie the Magnifica'
Our Espresso Machine

2. Crush the Munchies:  I'm one of those people who will eat and then about 15 minutes later, will feel I need a snack.  It just so happens that these 'snack attacks' are when I'm around bakeries, chocolate shops, etc.  So I do two things before I leave the house.  The first is I have a breakfast with protein in it as it takes the body more time to digest protein and will help you feel full for longer.  Some quick protein breakfast items include things like scrambled eggs, cheese, yogurt, or even a spoonful of peanut butter.  The second thing I do is I pack a snack high in complex carbohydrates and proteins (like a protein bar) with me so that if I get hungry, I can eat my snack instead of buying something more expensive and less filling.

3.  Fun can be Free:  There are many activities you can do around your city for free and by getting out of the house, it will make you feel like you're really treating yourself!  I used to live in Edmonton, Alberta and loved to visit the Art Gallery of Alberta.  On the last Thursday of every month, they have free admission between 6-9 pm so I planned a night on the town with some of my friends and had a great time.

Smiles are Fun
(and free at Zakkushi's in Vancouver) 

4.  Grow Cash instead of Cobwebs:  People often have closets full of clothes they never wear but if they're in good condition, you can consign them.  That way, you're helping someone else who will wear them and you can make a little extra money which is nice to have.  If some of the items are not accepted for consignment, donate them to Goodwill or a local Church.

5.  Have a Garage Sale:    Garage sales are great places to find deals but are also a wonderful option for selling items that you no longer need or want.

6.  Piece of Cake:  I have an app on my phone called 'Cake Deals' which lists all of the discounts from Groupon, Living Social, Mad Deal, etc. in your area on one page so you don't have to receive hundreds of e-mails from each company.  Also, the key with deals like Groupon is that you have to commit to using them before you buy them...otherwise you're just wasting money.

7.  DIY Style:  There are hundreds of websites with awesome DIY projects for around the home, clothing, crafts, you name it!  One of my all time favourite DIY sites is Pinterest.  I've gathered some great ideas from there and it was completely free!  Since retail therapy used to be my favorite way to fight off the blues, through Pinterest, I've found other ways to feel good without spending extra money like making at At Home Spa Treatments with ingredients I already have or can purchase inexpensively at the grocery store.  There are also many fantastic DIY blogs to draw inspiration from that are just a few clicks away.

8.  The Lucky Library:  When was the last time you went to your local library?  Did you know that you can borrow newly released movies there?  A library card is a minimal cost when you compare it to how much you are saving from going out to movies.  I know there's Netflix and iTunes which also don't cost too much but let's be honest, Netflix doesn't have the greatest selection of movie titles in Canada and iTunes can be just as expensive as it was to rent a movie from Blockbuster of Rogers before they went under.  My alternative to the Library is the Redbox at Safeway.  For less than $2, you can rent a newly released movie for a day and can return it to any Safeway that has a Redbox station.  

9.  (Legally) Get Free Music:  Music is like breathing for the soul but collecting all your favourite tracks on iTunes can be hard to swallow.  I recently stumbled across 'NoiseTrade' which allows artists to share their music for free and encourages fans to promote artists through social media.  There is also a 'tip' option when downloading a free sampling of music so you can give back to the artist in ways other than singing their praises on Facebook.  And right now there's a bunch of Christmas music samplers on NoiseTrade like 'Snow Angels' from the group Over The Rhine being my absolute favourite.     

This is a Free Christmas CD from Indie Band
Over The Rhine

10.  Living with Less:  Just because you're in a season of life where the bank account is a little dryer than you'd like doesn't mean that you have to live in a cardboard box and eat Kraft Dinner every night.  My husband and I live well, (we decided to forgo renting a two bedroom condo and instead live in a new, one bedroom condo unit that although is small, is a comfortable size for us)  eat well, (the other night we made a Julia Child chicken recipe with a port wine mushroom cream sauce which tasted divine), and even celebrate well (on Sunday we purchased our first, live Christmas tree together and instead of buying a big tree we wouldn't have enough decorations for anyway, we bought a 4 foot tree for $12 who we affectionately named "Charles" for being a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and love him).  Next time you find yourself wanting something that is big or expensive, just take a moment to ponder if you can do with a little less.  I bet you can and it won't hurt as much as you think.

This is 'Charles' or as My Husband Calls Him
'Professor Charles Xavier'

What I've learned through this experience is that just because I don't spend as much as I used to doesn't mean I have less love, joy, or fun life experiences.  But I've learned firsthand how it can lead to having less debt, less stress due to finances, and less 'stuff' that is eventually going to end up in a garage sale one day anyway.  Thank-you for listening to my confessions.  There will be more to come, I'm sure.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmastime DIY

Happy December!  It's getting closer to Christmas (my favourite time of year) and I think I'm going to be 'making some spirits bright' very soon.  Today begins my Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway which means that you could be getting some new jewellery in the mail from me!  

The necklace I'm featuring on the blog today can be won simply by liking The Refurbished Ruby’s Facebook Status announcing this new blog post to get your name in the draw.  The winner will be randomly selected at the end of the week (Friday, December 7, 2012) and announced that day on The Refurbished Ruby Facebook Page so make sure to check to see if you won!  Now, let’s begin our DIY adventure for today...   

I found some necklace inspiration the other day when I stumbled upon an amazing craft website and knew that it was time to share a jewellery DIY project on the blog!  Although I love making jewellery from vintage and recycled materials, I also enjoy making more modern pieces of jewellery out of new supplies when the opportunity comes up.  I think this necklace is modern and edgy yet has a bit of a whimsical charm to it and would be a drool worthy Christmas gift (if you can manage to take it off your neck first).  

'On The Rocks' Semi-Precious Stone Necklace 
(adapted from Kollabora tutorial found here)
Level of Difficulty:  Easy (no need to be a 'Martha' for this one)

Materials Clockwise From The Top Right:
E-6000 Glue, Semi Precious Stones, Chain Necklace, Bezel Pendant

Materials can be purchased at your local craft store like Michaels or online at

-  1 bronze coloured bezel pendant (In whatever size, colour, or shape you want)

-  10-20 semi precious stones (You can get really creative with all sorts of materials!  Try pyrite for some holiday sparkle or small bits of shell for a more boho feel)

-  E-6000 Glue (Make sure you use this glue near an open window or place with good ventilation as the smell can be strong)

-  24 inch bronze coloured chain necklace (Choose whatever necklace you want.  I recommend a chain that ranges between 18 inches - 30 inches in length.  You can even use a necklace you already have)

-  Scrap paper (Newspaper, an old magazine, etc).


Step 1:  Look through the supply of semi precious stones to find stones you would like to use for the necklace.  I picked my favourites and then arranged them in the bezel pendant to see if I had enough stones to fill it to the depth I wanted.

Step 2:  Remove the stones from the pendant.  Place down the scrap paper on your work surface (this protects the area you are working from the glue if it spills).

Step 3:  Take the E-6000 glue and apply a generous layer (about 1/4 of an inch) inside the pendant.  Then, start to place the stones in the pendant where you would like starting with the inside edges.  Continue to add the stones until the pendant is filled.  If you feel that the bottom of the pendant is covered sufficiently enough then you can set the pendant aside and let the glue dry.  If you would like to add another layer of stones or even just a few stones more, apply a bit more glue to the tops the stones already in the pendant that you wish to cover and place the new stones on top of them.  

Note:  There is no 'precise' way of doing this.  When you're happy with the look of the pendant, you're done!  

Step 4:  After about 10 minutes of letting the stones dry in place, gently touch the stones to see if any of them wiggle.  If they do, you can either remove that stone and add more glue to the bottom of it and then place it back in it's original spot or you can take a toothpick, apply a bit of glue to the tip of it, and fill in any crevices on either side of the moveable stone to ensure that it is secured well enough.

Step 5:  Let the pendant dry overnight.

It's that easy and the results are darling!  

I will be having another DIY jewellery post and Holly Jolly Jewellery Giveaway next week Friday (December 7, 2012) so stay tuned!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh Pinterest...

I'll admit, when I first scored a Pinterest account I had no idea what was going on.  All I saw was this chaotic mess of vibrant colours, fashion forward ideas, and things like dieting advice juxtaposed to the 'to die for cheesecake' made with 3 lbs of cream cheese (no joke...that is 6, 8 oz containers of cream cheese).  

It was fair to say that my first exposure to Pinterest resulted in major sensory overload and to make matters worst, I had no clue how pinning worked or what would be a good idea to pin.  My mind was full of thoughts like, "Do I just copy what everyone else pins onto a board somewhere (and how does one make a board exactly) and how in the world can I turn off that annoying feature that shows all your friends on Facebook what you are discovering on Pinterest so they aren't bombarded with your new DIY obsessions?"  As I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all, I decided to take about a 3 month hiatus from my Pinterest account letting it lay dormant.

Then one summer day a few months ago, I decided to bravely venture into Pinterest Land again.   I was going to be a bridesmaid in 2 summer weddings and wanted to see if I could learn some inexpensive tricks to look my best.  So, I eased myself in by searching for ideas like at home beauty remedies with the wonderful search bar in the top left corner of the page I happily discovered.  By simply searching things I wanted to learn how to cook or make, I realized that I could find almost anything I wanted on Pinterest.  From there I started exploring the Pinterest categories like Beauty and DIY and from then on I was hooked!

For this post, I wanted to share with you my top 3 favourite pins from this past summer: 2 Home Beauty Recipes and 1 Foodie Goody!  Despite it being winter in my corner of the world, they are applicable all year around especially one of the beauty pins which can help you have soft skin despite living in a dry climate.

So whether you're a Pinterest virgin like I was and are still learning to navigate though the endless sea of pins and boards or you're a seasoned veteran, I hope you enjoy these little pins and they show you how easy it can be to find your own Pinspiration!

Although I prefer to wax when I can, this is my new 'go to' recipe I use when I need to shave.  And this beauty trick is not only a physical exfoliant but also makes your skin feel as soft as butter because of one key ingredient and my new beauty staple...coconut oil.  In the pin, the author uses olive oil but I used coconut oil instead (which I bought in the Natural Food section at Superstore).  So don't hide your legs under long johns and knee high ski socks this winter!  Pamper them instead with this at home spa experience!  

Just had a rough day at work and want to take out your aggression on something?  How about fighting some pesky blackheads while simultaneously releasing your tension with the soothing aroma of lavender?  Sounds good doesn't it?!  This pin features a lavender oil recipe to help remove blackheads and it works (and smells) amazing.  (You can find lavender oil from stores like Planet Organic.)  You'll feel much better after trying this, I promise!

I first made this nom-worthy popcorn recipe when I was at a weekend getaway for my friend right before her wedding and all of us bridesmaids just devoured it!  It's simple, delicious, and highly addictive.  It would also be a delightful Christmas treat!

Movie Night Treat Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn:

- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 9-10 large marshmallows
- 12 cups of air popped popcorn

1.  Microwave the brown sugar and butter for 2 minutes.
2.  Add marshmallows to the sugar/butter mixture and microwave until melted (about 90 seconds).
3.  Pour over popcorn and coat popcorn thoroughly.

If you liked these pins and would like to see what else I've been up to on Pinterest, you can follow me on Pinterest by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A New Perspective & Some Perseverance

Japanese Proverb
Last week during an exploration of my new Vancouver neighbourhood, I came across a lovely store that captured my attention right away.  They carry whimsical Canadian labels like Pink Martini and Button but what peaked my interest is that they feature jewellery by local designers.

I've been toying with the idea of getting my jewellery into local stores for quite some time now but I wasn't quite ready to commit.  However, since I was new in town and eager to try something different, I decided to ask how a designer like myself could get my jewellery showcased in their store.  The saleswoman was hesitant at first but when I explained to her what type of jewellery I make, she kindly booked me an appointment with the store owner to show her a sampling of my wares to see if they would be a fit for the store.

I was ecstatic.  Only having moved the week before, I was already networking in my community and there was the very real possibility of having a physical location for my jewellery to be displayed that shoppers could easily peruse.  I excitedly called my Mom and asked if she could send my jewellery to me (since I did not have room in the 2 suitcases I had brought with me when I moved to Vancouver) and my jewellery was on the Greyhound that day.

The day of my appointment, (which was yesterday), was an ordinary, overcast day (typical weather as most rain weathered Vancouverites would say) but I was beaming with excitement.  I met with the store owner in the early afternoon and as I laid out my pieces on the wooden counter in front of her, I tried to simultaneously read her expressions to see if any of my jewellery looked appealing to her.  After I had finished my explanations and showed her all I had, she told me that while my jewellery was beautiful, it wasn't a fit for the store.

My initial reaction understandably was disappointment.  I had really looked forward to this appointment and was now watching the door of opportunity slowly closing in front of me and feeling like a little girl guide who failed to sell cookies to an uninterested neighbour.  But as quickly as I felt the sting of rejection, I felt the need to think of something positive and I started to focus on thoughts like, "It's ok.  I tried my best and this was just an experiment.  I'm going to take this as a learning experience."  And as I ran these words through my mind, I began to feel uplifted.  As my conversation with the store owner continued, she told me of another store that was in a nearby neighbourhood and to see if they would feature my jewellery there.  I politely thanked her for the meeting and walked back to my car.  I realized that although a door had been closed for me, there had been a window cracked opened and instead of heading back home, I plugged the address for the new store into google maps (another app I don't think I would function well without) and drove off to the next destination.

As I arrived there, I decided to turn down my anticipation a few notches.  I wanted to go into the store with curiosity instead of holding great expectations for it...treat it more objectively like an experiment.  I walked into the little boutique and was greeted by the owner warmly and told her I was interested in learning more about selling my jewellery at her store.  She eagerly looked at my jewellery and within 10 minutes, I had been invited to sell my jewellery just in time for the Holiday Party and Christmas Season.  As an added bonus, this store owner loves to help small businesses thrive and had many ideas of how she would like to introduce me and my jewellery to her clients.

I worked well into the evening last night designing, printing, and cutting custom tags for my jewellery and I'm proud to say that my jewellery has been dropped off and will be on display soon at the jewellery bar at Changes Vancouver! 

As I reflect back on this recent experience, I realize that it held two great life lessons for me.  The first is how powerful a person's thoughts are in affecting their perspective.  It was hard hearing 'no' at the first store I presented my jewellery to and I could have easily packed up, called it a day, and labelled myself a failure.  But as I explained in my intro post, I've finally began to grasp the importance of treating myself with kindness even when things don't always go as I've planned.  So, I decided to leave that store with a smile on my face and keep pressing on, which leads me to my second lesson: perseverance is worth the effort.  Like the quote in the picture above says, when you fall, get back up again and continue pursuing what you think is important.

So, if you've been feeling a bit down today, I encourage you to do 2 simple things:
1) Take a moment to pause and listen to the messages you're telling yourself.  If they're negative and defeating, try replacing them with kind words and a positive perspective.  As you practice this, it will become easier to do and you'll start to feel much better about yourself.
2) Look for the windows that have been opened for you.  You'll never know what opportunities lie ahead for you if you don't look up to find them.

Good night,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gooey, Chewy Chocolate Chip Goodness

One activity I've been able to pursue much more fervently since taking time off from my studies is baking. I think my baking skills have improved tenfold since obtaining my degree in Chemistry which required me to be in labs for about nine hours a week and follow 'chemical recipes' to the letter. I had no idea that my lab skills would pay off in my everyday life but surprisingly the practice I gained in the lab transferred into confidence in the kitchen. I find baking relaxing as it rarely matters if you added exactly 1 cup of sugar or precisely 2 teaspoons of vanilla. And the best part is that you can eat your final product whereas in a Chemistry lab, you're lucky if you're allowed to smell your end product without getting lightheaded or nauseated.

So on this rainy, blustery Sunday evening, I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies for my husband as we had run out of his favourite 'Chips Ahoy' cookies and I promised him a homemade replacement. I know that chocolate chip cookies are one of the most basic treats that any baker should have in their arsenal of recipes but sadly, I had not yet found my 'go to' chocolate chip cookie recipe.

As I was searching through food gawker (one of my absolute favourite apps) for a suitable recipe, I came across a link to a blog by Scientifically Sweet that gave tips about how to make chocolate chip cookies taste amazing. Among them was something so simple yet (as I discovered tonight) works wonders for your cookies...refrigerate the dough for at least one hour before baking them. As Christina from Scientifically Sweet explains, it enhances the flavour of the cookies and after adding this little step to a recipe I found on another blog thanks to my faithful food gawker app, (recipe found here) I was ready to bake!

With some slight modifications, I made the most gooey, chewy, chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. And the best part was that after one bite my husband declared them better than his store bought cookies and swore he would never buy Chips Ahoy cookies again ('till death do us part). After my first bite, I decided they tasted like something I've tried at Cookies By George and wish I knew my neighbours in our building well enough so I could share my joy and cookies with them! But since we're not BFF's with the people down the hall, I decided I would share this recipe with you, my virtual neighbours. I hope you carve out a little bit of time from your busy schedule to make some of these delicious, decadent cookies because you will not be disappointed with the results!


Gooey, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Heather Homemade's 'Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies' Recipe)


2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter, melted and cooled to just warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Chipits Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Skor Chipits

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl with whisk; set aside.
3. Melt butter in the microwave and let it cool until it is warm.
4. By hand, or with an electric mixer, mix butter and sugars together until well combined.
5. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until incorporated.
6. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined (by hand will work too – it just takes a little more effort).
7. Stir in the chocolate chips and skor chipits.
8. Place the dough in a sealed container and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
9. Go do homework, read a book, exercise, run some errands, or do whatever you need to do in an hour so that you can feel both domestic and productive by the end of this recipe ;)
10. If you have a stoneware bar pan (like the one from Pampered Chef shown here) this is what I used for this recipe and I didn't need to butter the pan before use. Otherwise, prepare two large baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or buttering the pan before use.
11. After the 1 hour is up, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
12. Roll the dough into golf ball sized balls and place them on the baking sheet.
13. Place one baking sheet/pan into the oven once it has reached 325 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes.
14. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the edges start to harden, and the centres of the cookies are soft and puffy.
15. Cool cookies completely on baking sheet and repeat the baking process with the remainder of the dough.
16. Remove cookies from sheets with a flat, metal spatula.
17. Store in an air-tight container.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How It All Started...

I've been asked on quite a few occasions about how The Refurbished Ruby was started and so I thought it would be appropriate for my first post to share with you the story of how my little jewellery business came to be.

Most of my friends were surprised to hear that I started making jewellery because to them, I'm a science nerd that gets the geeky jokes in The Big Bang Theory, has a chemistry degree, and married an awesome guy who happens to have a PhD in Chemistry.  Contrary to what people may see on the surface, there is a creative part of me but I had forgotten about it for quite some time.  

Growing up, I used to love to walk through the craft fairs in small towns outside of my city and admire the handmade goods vendors had meticulously displayed with pride.  Some of my most cherished childhood memories involved making jewellery from kits and learning from books how to weave bracelets and bead necklaces.  Music also became an essential part of my life as I started singing solos at my Church when I was about 7 years old.  My Mom and I would sing duets together and I was involved in choirs and bands for many years.  Stemming from my love for music was a desire to dance and I was in multiple dance groups in junior high and high school and taught choreography on a number of occasions.  I also had a passion for creative writing, and I can recall the surprise on my high school English teacher’s face when I told him I was going to pursue a Science degree in University, not an English major as he had hoped.  

As I entered University life, it was as if the creativity I had nurtured in my school years was slowly being removed from me to make room for chemical equations, laboratory data, and integrals.  But hints of my artistic spark still popped up once in awhile.  I was given an invitation to join the English department from my University and I excelled at my Sign Language and Spanish classes.  But I continued to push these talents aside to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.  I replaced whimsy with logic, passion with deductive reasoning, and creative writing with rote memorization.

Fast forward 7 years and I had achieved my goal of getting into medical school and I was entering my third year of the program.  It was then I began the most gruelling part of my education called clerkship…the unpaid, sleep deprived medical internship that required me to be up for 28 hours or more at a time, do physical exams on hallucinating patients, and stand in an operating theatre for 6 hours straight just to name a few.  Through this exhausting time, I experienced some of the darkest hours of my life, but from it came the rebirth of my creative spirit and the beginning of The Refurbished Ruby.   

With having completed almost half of the third year of my medical training (and the hardest rotations to boot), I made one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my life...I decided I needed to take time off from my training.  I was feeling completely miserable and knew that there was something going on with my health that I needed to address before I myself would wind up as a patient in the hospital.  I did not want to be hypocritical and tell my patients to take care of themselves while I myself was delaying in dealing with my own ailments.

So, while my personal treatment team was trying to sort through my symptoms to come up with a diagnosis, I was sitting at home feeling an overwhelming urge to do something with my time.  I was used to working at the hospital for about 12 hours/day and I wanted to do something to fight back the terrifying feeling of going crazy with nothing to do at home.  That's when I came up with the idea to take my Mom's abandoned jewellery collection and modernize it.  With her permission, I started searching for pieces I felt had the potential to be remade into something more updated and beautiful but would still hold its character.  With some tools I purchased from a local craft store, I started dismantling pieces and recreating them into ‘modern artifacts’ as Michael Margolis so eloquently puts it.

The love I had for making jewellery from my childhood was rekindled along with my creativity and within a few days I had created about 20 pieces of jewellery.  I started showing only my closest friends and family my jewellery and shared with them my new secret love affair with jewellery design.  I decided that I would like to make a little business for myself and start selling my wares on Etsy.  I came up with the name of The Refurbished Ruby which I thought was quite fitting for the type of jewellery I was making and the rest is history.    

Through collecting pieces of old and vintage jewelry that have been tossed aside and upcycling them, I find that I am rediscovering who I am.  I have great joy in pouring meaning back into unloved pieces by reviving them into new, inspired, ‘Refurbished Rubies’ if you will and feel the process I go through in creating jewellery is a metaphor for how my life is becoming renewed daily.

Upcycling is also a way to be good to this beautiful earth that God gave us.  I’m not a tree hugger but I have learned through my studies that our environment is delicate and we should be good stewards of it by making little changes where we can.  This is why I try to do my part to use recyclable packaging and 100% recycled paper for my business cards.

My life has changed considerably from almost a year ago when I decided to take time off from medical school and although it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life, it was also the best gift I have given myself.  Although my doctors have come up with a diagnosis, they are still trying to tailor my treatment so that I can live a healthier life and start a career.  But more important than school or a job, I am learning through this experience to be good to myself.  I've beaten myself up for too much of my life thinking I wasn't smart enough, tough enough, or good enough for x, y, and z.  It is refreshing to gain a new perspective on life and to treat myself with the kindness I deserve...that we all deserve.

So if there's one thing that you've gained from reading my blog today I hope it's this: to learn to love yourself enough that if you know you need to make some changes in your life to take better care of yourself, even if those changes may be difficult to implement, I encourage you to take the chance.  In doing so, you will be giving yourself an invaluable gift and the opportunity to become the best version of yourself instead of drifting through life.  You may find that you gain much more than you ever expected.  

Happy Friday and I hope you have a beautiful weekend!