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!