the grand finale (at least for now!)

I have been blogging now at The.Refurbished.Life for SEVEN MONTHS! Seems like much longer on some days, and like I just started yesterday on other days. When I began, I had absolutely NO idea how much work it is to maintain a successful blog. The hours of writing content that is hopefully captivating enough to get you to the actual point of each post. The bags of hot glue gone through to add to the DIY world. The countless dinners I’d say to my husband, “Wait, I should blog this… give me your iPhone!” Though I have a keen appreciation for my fellow bloggers laboring to produce wonderful advice and helpful life tips for the world wide web, I have greatly enjoyed the process of learning the ever-changing realm of the blog.

And with that, this will be my final blog post (at least for now!). As I’ve grown in my understanding of the blog-o-sphere, I am excited to report that I will be hosting a NEW BLOG for women through New Song, my home church. Please come follow what we’re doing at www.NewSongWomen.com. You’ll be glad you did!

As my final farewell, I wanted to leave you with a glimpse of some of my favorite posts from The.Refurbished.Life over the last many days, weeks, months. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me, and I pray every good and perfect gift comes your way!

1) Easy DIY Magnets: I seriously had no idea how easy these would be and how popular they would become on Pinterest!

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2) The Mother Of All Spring Cleaning Lists: Seriously. It’s the Mother!

The Mother of All Spring Cleaning List

3) Chocolate Almond Butter Cups: These are SO GOOD. And super easy to make!

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4) Party Planning 101: I’ve planned more parties this year than I can shake a stick at! This list came in very handy. :)

2.10.14 Party Planning Checklist

5) Top 10 Easy Decorating Tips: I love decorating my home! Hope these tips help you as well!

top ten decorating tips

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. | James 1:17

diy geo styled coffee mug

There are seriously so many possibilities when it comes to spray paint. Never underestimate the transformation those little cans of colored mist can do! I was recently sent a pin on Pinterest that inspired me to take a few minutes to create my own geo-styled coffee mug. Here’s the original inspiration, thanks to our adult daughter, Macey:

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a competitive person (unless it comes to bargain hunting), but I had a little internal competition going to see if I could make this plain white mug into something with pizzazz in under 10 minutes.

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This mug has been sitting on the glass trinkets shelf in my armoire for quite some time, so when Macey sent me that pin I knew exactly what I was going to do. Here are the supplies I used: painters tape, ziplock bag, scissors, spray paint (I chose canary yellow).

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First I taped off the portion that I wanted to spray paint.

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Then, I had to cover the portions that I didn’t want to spray paint. I used a zip lock bag cut in half and taped up the mug to cover the portions I wanted to remain white.

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I took the mug out to my spraying station and sprayed away. When you do this, make sure your spray paint can is far enough away so that you don’t get drippage marks on what your spraying. It should only take 2-3 quick passes with the spray paint to cover what you’re painting.

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I let it dry, and then removed the tape and bag, and it truly only took me 10 minutes! It’s so simple, but I love the way it turned out. And now I can’t wait to have my morning coffee!

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But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” | Matthew 19:14

glass diy projects

I recently took a trip to the local Goodwill and was once again stricken by the realization that Goodwill is a major supplier for us DIYers! I mean, aisle after aisle of merchandise screaming to be painted, glued, sequined and the like. I generally start in the furniture aisles and always look for the colored tag for the 50% discount. (As many of you know, Goodwill prices their merchandise at 50% based on the color of the tag on each item.) I headed down the nic-nacs aisle and perused each shelf looking for inspiration. I determined to go with glass projects, so hunted for something I could use as a jewelry tray and something I could use as coasters. Found ‘em!

The clear glass “coasters” are actually ash trays, but pretty them up with some gold paint pen and you’ll never know.

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I also found these white coasters and used paper and Modge Podge to beautify them. So simple!

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Last, I found this cute clear glass tray and instantly thought it would be great for jewelry. I had a package of napkins that I haven’t used in months, so I grabbed one of them and Modge Podged away!

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These will make great gifts for someone, or might just become a part of my home decor. Next time you’re in need of a little DIY therapy, just head to your local thrift store and those creative juices will get going in no time at all.

7.19.14 diy goodwill finds

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. | Isaiah 41:10

bargain hunting tips & tricks

If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know by now that I cringe at the thought of paying more than $20 for just about anything. The difference between being cheap and being a bargainista is simply this: quality. Cheapsters are all about spending as little as possible simply to save a buck. Bargainistas are all about getting the best and most for that buck! That’s me. Oh what I could do with a mere $20 bill! :) And that brings me to today’s blog topic!

Bargain hunting 101

Before I dive into some helpful tips, let me encourage you (as I often like to do)! No matter how little you may have financially, you can always make the most of it. Now, breathe deep and get ready to go on a bargain hunter’s journey with me!

Step ONE | Boundaries. Always begin by assessing your situation. Regardless if you have $10 or $100, determine how much you are able to spend versus how much you are willing to spend. This will strrreeeetttccchhh your money ensuring you get the most out of your budget.

Step TWO | Quality AND Quantity. You don’t have to just settle for one or the other. Determine ahead of time that you will not settle for something less than what you love, all the while holding out for the best deal.

Step THREE | Research. You’d be surprised at what kind of bargains you can get simply by knowing sales trends at your favorite stores. Get to know those shops before you shop!

Step FOUR | Priorities. One of the best ways to get the best deal on what you’re looking for is to prioritize with a list. Determine what you really want or need on this month’s budget versus what can wait for next month.

Step FIVE | Flexibility. Learning how to be willing to walk away from that end table that’s way overpriced or that rug that isn’t on sale yet becomes just as satisfying when you are willing to be flexible. This one takes practice, but is well worth it!

Now for some tricks of the trade, so to speak, for some of my favorite places to shop.

Hobby Lobby | I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but The Hob puts each department in the store 50% every month. So, if you see a lamp you love or want some scrapbook paper, just hold off until they’re 50%. No need to EVER pay full price here! You can also check out their clearance section where they price things 66-90% off. I just got this amazing mirror that I have been pining away for the last 6 months. Originally $200 and I got it for just $20! BAM! I was so excited! And don’t forget to download the Hobby Lobby app to your smart phone so you can get 40% off any regular price item.

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Bargain Hunt | This store might not be in your area, but I’m sure there are others like it near you (Essex, Tuesday Morning, etc.). They get their merchandise from a myriad of stores who have overstock, and they work on a rotating discount system determined by the date. The longer the item is on the shelf, the more savings you’ll get. So, for example, if the date on the price tag is 04/20/14, then you’ll get 40% off. If it’s 05/01/14, you’ll get 30% off. Get it? I can roam the aisles for quite a bit of my day off looking for gifts or that perfect item I’ve been waiting to find. I got this great weaved basket originally $20 in the department store, marked down to $15 at Bargain Hunt, then discounted to $3 because it had been on the shelf for a while. Love it!

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Target | You have probably read all over Pinterest by now that there are some awesome sales tips to watch for at Target. The first is that they operate on a rotating clearance schedule where they markdown different departments at different times. Here’s a breakdown for you:

  • MONDAY: Kids Clothing, Stationary Items, Electronics, Baby
  • TUESDAY: Domestics, Food, Women’s Clothing, Pets
  • WEDNESDAY: Men’s Clothing, Toys, Health and Beauty, Lawn and Garden
  • THURSDAY: Housewares, Shoes, Lingerie, Sporting Goods, Music, Movies, Books, Decor, Luggage
  • FRIDAY: Auto, Cosmetics, Hardware, Jewelry

They also have a clever way of pricing so that you can determine if the item will go on sale even more (although, you will have to put into practice step five above!). On the price tag, check the upper right hand corner. There will either be a 15, 30, 50, 70 or 75 printed in tiny print. These numbers represent the percentage of the discount. So, if it says 70 or 75 on it, grab it while you can because that’s the lowest it will be priced. I got this amazing tray (which I had looked at several times before!) for just $5.98 (original price was $15). Perfect!

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I hope these tips and tricks help! Happy shopping!

For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, | Titus 1:7

happy 4th with baked apples

Happy 4th of July, everyone! What a festive holiday our Independence Day has become. I’m so glad that this year the rain has subsided so we’ll get to watch fireworks out on the lake. Woot! I’m grateful for our freedom in this country, but even more grateful for our freedom in Christ. Praise God for the sacrifice of His son to live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died. Thank Him for raising to life again so that we can have fullness of life and freedoms unparalleled in this life and the life to come. My heart is full today!

What better way to celebrate this all-American holiday than with an all-American dessert. Baked Apples! These little beauties are simple to create and will tantalize your tastebuds for sure!

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This is all you need for this summertime treat:

  • 4 apples, cored and hollowed
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup of coconut sugar (or brown sugar if you’re not going paleo!)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

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First, preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Core and hollow out the apples, and place in a baking dish. After each apple is hollowed, immediately baste the inside with lemon juice to keep it from browning.

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Next, mix 3/4 cups of the slivered almonds (save the other 1/4 cup for later), 1/2 cup of apple juice (save the other 1/2 cup for later), raisins, coconut sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make sure the raisins and almonds are coated well with the other ingredients.

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Then, fill each of the apples with the mixture and pour the remaining apple juice in the bottom of the baking dish. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes to bake (keep an eye on them around 30 minutes in to make sure they aren’t burning, and lower the temp to 300 if needed for the remainder of the time).

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While the apples are baking, take the remaining slivered almonds and throw them in a pan on the stove with 1 tblsp of the coconut sugar and 1 tblsp of water to glaze the almonds. This will be your topping. Once the apples are baked, pull them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes. Put them in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla coconut milk ice cream (or ice cream of your choice!), top with the glazed almonds and eat it up!

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Have a fantastic Independence Day!

He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. | Psalm 104:13

diy cell phone arm band

I had SUCH a great time this weekend with some vibrant, faithful, crazy sisters in The Lord as we met up in Louisville, Kentucky. We laughed, cried, prayed and ate amazing food together. Notice what’s missing from that list is that we exercised together. Missing = didn’t happen. And did I mention we ate great food?!? Needless to say, I’ll be gettin’ my workout on this week!

I love walking around our neighborhood for exercise! It’s peaceful and beautiful, especially this time of year with all the trees and flowers in everyone’s yards. There’s this amazingly steep hill right at the beginning of the route I walk, so it gets the blood-a-pumpin’ for sure. One sweep around the neighborhood from my front steps and back is exactly one mile. Perfect for getting in some extra cardio!

I used to have a nifty arm band for my phone so I could listen to some tunes while walking, but then I got a new phone and it didn’t fit in the arm band <sigh>. However, thanks to the brilliance of Pinterest, I came across this awesome idea for a new arm band that cost me next to nothing.

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This is so simple to make it’s almost ridiculous! First, just pick out an old pair of socks (or head to the dollar store and pick up a colorful pair!).

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Next, hold the sock up to your arm with the open side of the sock at the top.

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Then, simply make a little snippet in the sock just an inch or so above your elbow.

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Lay them down flat and cut straight across at the snippet you just made.

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Slide the sock onto your arm and fold it up your arm half way. Last, place your phone inside the fold. Tada! Easy peasy. Your phone will be set for your next workout!

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Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? | 1 Corinthians 6:19

“Lalu Chicken” (a.k.a., parmesan encrusted chicken)

Each month we invite our spiritual kids over for a family dinner to catch up and stay in touch with each other. My parents, affectionately named Papa and Lalu by my nephews, join us each month as well. There’s always great food, tons of laughs, and usually some mildly and unintentionally inappropriate comments made by my hubsy. ;D

We were so blessed this month to have Lalu make her pièce de résistance, “Lalu Chicken!” It’s chicken tenders in a delicious parmesan crust. Yum!

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Here’s all you need to make this incredible dish:

  • 6-8 chicken tenders
  • 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tblsp chopped parsley, fresh
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tblsp dried onions or onion powder (optional)

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First, mix all dry ingredients (including the cheese) together in a bowl and melt the butter in a separate bowl.

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Dredge the chicken in the melted butter first, then in the dry ingredients mix (both sides).

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Put coated chicken onto a well greased pan, or a pan with tin foil (also greased). Stick it in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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And there you have it! We served it up with the best sweet potato casserole you’ll ever have, and some grilled zucchini. Topped it off with delicious grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream (see the recipe here!). Such a great meal!

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Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, And your daughters shall  be nursed at your side. | Isaiah 60:4

 

summer mantle round-up

Summer is officially here! This year we’ve determined we’re going to host a few summer socials at our house. It’s just a time to invite people over to grill, swim, play games and enjoy summer together. I have grown to love the summers in the south, although it took me the first few years to get over the humidity! Now I look forward to it nearly as much as the other three seasons. :)

In honor of summertime, I changed out my mantle in the living room to reflect a bit more of a summer-y vibe. It didn’t take much, just some fabric, a little diy and repurposing, and voila! Our summer mantle!

my summer mantle

{You can see my tutorials on the sunburst mirror and these paper covered candles here!}

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To make this wall art, I simply used a piece of heavy duty poster board and some of my favorite fabric from Joann, and got to gluing. So simple, and I love the way it turned out! It’s really grand sitting atop the mantle.

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Those glass bookends below were such a deal! I got them for $6.00 at Bargain Hunt (normally $20 a piece at Target!). Score!

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Some of you might not have a mantle, and some of you might not change out your decor that often. Nonetheless, I always encourage women to see how they can keep their home current and fresh with just a few simple changes. Nothing major. Just enough to help make people feel welcome and refreshed in your home… including you!

Here are some of my favorite summer mantles for you to get inspired (just click on the images below to see more!).

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summer mantle 2 summer mantle 3 summer mantle 4 summer mantle 5 summer mantle 6 summer mantle 7 summer mantle 8

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You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. | Psalm 4:7

casa de aguas guacamole

The hubs and I were blessed to get to go to Puerta Vallarta for our honeymoon two years ago when we got married. It was UH-MAY-ZEENG! All inclusive, y’all. That’s where it’s at. Since our last name is Waters, the employees there kept calling us Senor or Senora Aguas. We loved it. Upon moving into my hubsy’s home to make it “our” home, we felt it appropriate to refer to our little abode as “Casa de Aguas” (the House of Waters). That’s about the extent of our espanol knowledge. ;D

Since we’ve been on vacation this week, we’ve been eating all kinds of incredible food – some paleo, some not-so-paleo – but all tasty! Last night I was in the mood for a little guacamole since we had a super ripe avocado just screaming to be used. So, I broke out the Casa de Aguas Guacamole. Easy peasy and oh so yummy!

6.20.14 paleo guacamole

Here’s all you need to make this paleo-friendly guac:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 6-7 cherry tomatoes
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp seasalt
  • 1 tsp pepper

To make this delicious guacamole, just put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together with a fork. Top it off with a sprig of parsley and a couple of slices of lemon for presentation and eat it up with your favorite tortilla chips. Ole!

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They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. | Isaiah 11:9

oat-less oatmeal + vibey vacation

The hubs and I, along with my parents, are on vacation this week. Woo to the hoo! I’ve been so looking forward to some rest and relaxation for quite some time, and so far this week has been just that. No schedule. Awesome weather. Scrumptious eats. I love times like this!

As we’ve been enjoying some amazing food thus far (Jack Daniels marinated flat iron steak on the grill, anyone?!?), I’ve also been keeping tabs on some of my fellow bloggers and what they’re up to… Inspiring! One sweet blogger who I met ages ago when she was in high school is Emily from Miss Melange Blog. She’s stylish and has fantastic foodie ideas, too. Check. Her. Out. You’ll be so glad you did! Here’s a little shout out to her and her partner in crime, Stephanie, highlighting her yummy Oat-less Oatmeal. Enjoy!

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SO, today I have an awesome little breakfast recipe for you to try. We’ve been eating gluten-free for awhile now and we really like it. However, it’s never fun to feel like you’re missing out on your favorite foods even if the health benefits are worth it. Cue my new favorite Oat-less Oatmeal. It’s warm, filling, full of flavor and super healthy! You should all definitely give it a try. We topped ours with fresh berries, shredded coconut, seeds and a drizzle of honey, but feel free to get creative and add whatever tickles your fancy (yeah, I just said that).

Oat-less Oatmeal
(Originally found in Grain Brain)

Serves 2

1/4 cup raw unsalted almonds
1/4 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 banana, mashed
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 teaspoons pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 handful Berries (optional)

Combine the almonds, walnuts and allspice in a food processor or blender and blend until the consistency is like a course grain but not a powder. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and almond milk until it’s thick like a custard. Blend together banana with the egg and almond milk mixture. Stir in the course nut mixture.

Warm the mixture in a saucepan over low heat, mixing frequently, until the batter reaches desired consistency. Serve with pumpkin seeds and berries on top, and add more almond milk if you would like. You can get creative with what you top it with :) xo Emily

{P.S.: as I’m in the mood for shout outs, the “vibey” in the title is courtesy of my live-in-adopted-into-our-family daughter, Macey. She loves the word “vibe” – all variations of it. She even drives a Pontiac Vibe. Awesome.)

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. | Exodus 20:11