September 17, 2014

Let's Do a Makeover!

I've been thinking about starting a new blog. One that will be more "life" driven. I've been through a lot in my 44 years (and counting) as I'm sure many of you have. Sometimes it's nice to know that someone else has felt a similar way or experienced a similar life event. Sometimes just reading about someone else's experience and how they dealt with it and came away from it can make all the difference.

There have been times I've felt entirely alone. That surely no one else could understand what I was going through or how it affected me. It would have been wonderful to have read something and connected with the author during those difficult times.

But not just the difficult times. Sometimes you are having an especially happy time in your life and you don't have anyone to share it with because the people surrounding you don't know how to be happy for you. Or you live away from your family and the "friends" you have are competing for mom of the year and don't want to hear about the successes of your children.

I think social media has played a role in how people react to others. How less supportive we are of others...especially in the good times. Seeing how great everyone else lives on a daily basis can make one feel like they are failing at life. We forget how edited and photoshopped those posts really are.

Writing is very therapeutic for me. I starting writing a book (which I will finish one day, just not today) but I need a different outlet for my writing style and needs. Blogging offers that for me.

While talking this all over with my fiancé and taking some time to really think about what I want to do with blogging I have come to realize I want it all. I want to do the fun projects. I want to talk about the amazing love I have found the second time around. I want to talk about how my kids amaze me with who they are and what their talents are. I want to talk about the good times. I want to talk about the bad times. And how the bad times have brought me through to the good times. What it will be like to get married for the second time and how it is so very different. And all other wonderful things life has in store for us.

I want to talk about all of it.

I thought I needed two blogs for this. One for the projects and one for the rest. But wait...

Today I realized I don't need to change the name of the blog or start a new one, because life is about The Finishing Touches.

So there you have it. This blog will remain. It will remain The Finishing Touches. But it's getting a make over! And who doesn't love a great make over?!

Hope you stay along for the ride...

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July 22, 2014

Graduation...Oh and Some Centerpieces

My son graduated from high school this past May. It was traumatic...from this mom's point of view. This little boy that I have nurtured since 1995 is no longer a boy. He works hard and he plays hard. He's made the most of his 18+ years. Soon, I will have to leave him at a new "home." He will move into his dorm and begin his life. Truly begin it.

Getting through these 18+ years with him has made me realize that life doesn't "begin" when you are born. I'm not talking about the technical term "life" please keep your hats on. These first 18+ years were just preparing him for what's to come. And he has worked hard. He took advanced classes, was involved in many activities, and graduated in the top 5% of his class. He was asked to write a song for graduation and did just that, where the top choir sang it in it's debut. The kid amazes me. Correction...the man amazes me. I didn't have that much drive back then. I don't have that much drive now.

I'm worried and excited and sad and happy and proud all at the same time. He leaves in a month. One month. And he will move into the dorm. On his own. Which brings me now to what brought us here.


What an experience! Graduation for me, when I went through it, was entirely different from having your first born go through it and watching from the sidelines. The more I willed time to slow down the faster it seemed to go.
And so a party needed to be planned. Luckily, he knew pretty much what he wanted. I knew I wanted to do cupcakes...and that I didn't want him to be all grown up. I could control the cupcakes. Not the other. So cupcakes it was. And a lot of them!
It was decided that the cupcakes would be part of the centerpieces because I didn't want too many left over and I figured if they were on the tables they would be eaten. =)

I created a centerpiece constructed of a vase, some shredded paper in Nick's school colors, a pizza pan, a doily, a fun graduation table decoration, some picture frames and some hot glue. These took very little time to actually construct. What took the longest was choosing the pictures for the frames (and baking all those cupcakes!). Plus, everything was from the dollar store so it was very cost effective.

I filled the vases with the shredded paper...

 I took 12" pizza pans and glued them to tops of the vases (centered on the tops)...
I placed large doilies on the tops of the pizza pans. Here is how they turned out!
I added the graduation table decorations and some confetti to make it more festive. (Note, I used a little hot glue to hold the table decoration down so it wouldn't fall over.) After adding pictures to the frames I placed them around the vases, under the pizza pans so guests had something to look at and could see how Nick has grown. We added cupcakes around the outside of the pans for guests to gobble up. Throw in some trail mix in fancy bowls and you are set!

I received many compliments on these and they cost between $2-$3 to make (not including the frames). The frames were also from the dollar store so the total for each table centerpiece came to around $7.00.

Fun and festive and really set the mood for the day. We had a great time. It was a bittersweet experience. Below are some personal pics from the day.

Nick and I then and now...
Nick and his sister...this was a difficult time for her as well, but she made the most of it...
The three of us...
His final moments of high school...
My graduate...
I mentioned earlier that Nick wrote a song for graduation. Mom has the first signed copy. =D
This mom survived. The centerpieces were a hit and the cupcakes were eaten. Life is good.


This post is linked to:
The Dedicated House
DIY on the Cheap

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July 01, 2014

Taco Dip - Quick, Easy and Yummy

Love taco dip? I do! Especially if it's super easy and YUMMY! I got this recipe from a friend and my family has it a couple times over the summer. It's a great dish anytime but with the 4th of July around the corner this can keep lots of party-goers satisfied. Here is what you need:

2 - 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 - 16 oz container of sour cream
2 - packets of taco season
Toppings of your choice

Blend the cream cheese and sour cream together.
Add both packets of taco season and mix well.
Spread mixture in bottom of pan.
Top with your desired toppings.

I like to use lettuce, shredded cheese and tomatoes when we have this. You could also add black olives, onions or any other topping you may enjoy. You can also add drops of sour cream after adding your toppings for some extra yumminess. This is one of those dishes you can really make your own. It's great to serve when hosting a party or bring along to a potluck.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a wonderful July 4th!

~Laurie Ann

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Wedding Coolness

A friend of mine attended an outdoor wedding and brought back a couple of cool ideas I thought I'd share with you.

First, sunglasses! Each guest was given a pair of sunglasses so as not to be blinded by the couples' love... (or the sun I suppose)

Next, these programs are just too cute! They were made into fans with the program information on one side and activities for guests on the other. And each came with its own writing utensils.

What great ideas for an outdoor wedding! Honestly, the fan programs aren't a bad idea for an indoor wedding either. It can get rather warm with all those people and some places don't have air conditioning.

What cool stuff have you seen at weddings? What did you do at yours that added your personal touch?

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June 27, 2014


I haven't been out here in what feels like forever! My apologies...

Life has gotten in the way of me staying up-to-date with the blog. So as you can probably guess, I haven't done too many projects around the house. The latest would be that I started painting the house. Yes, started. It isn't finished. Therefore, I have a partially painted house. Ugh. BUT! It will get done. Just not today.

I have had many changes in my life over the last year and a half. I missed writing and had started a book. I hope to finish it one day, but find myself drawn to the blogging platform.

So I have decided to start a new blog!!!

We all have life experience. We all can contribute to one another. My new blog will document my journey. I hope there will be at least one person it will connect with and if I can help that one person to feel like they aren't alone in their experience(s), then it will all be worth it. I'm hoping to update here as well...there are projects that need to be finished! and started!

I'm still designing and setting up the new site, but I will let you know when it's ready so you can grab a beverage, put your feet up, if you cry easily, grab a box tissues, and join me on my journey...

Have a wonderful day!

~Laurie Ann

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December 10, 2012

Oreo Balls Recipe

One thing I love to do at Christmas time is bake! Who's with me? So I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes to make. I'm not switching gears here, I just like to bake this time of year and figured someone else probably does, too. And who doesn't love a new recipe? =)

Here is the first of my favorite recipes to make this time of year. Oreo Balls! (There is a link at the bottom of the post for the printable recipe.)

oreo balls recipe

This one is really easy but very yummy! I hope you like it!

  • Oreos
  • Cream cheese, softened
  • Almond bark, melted
oreo balls recipe

Crush Oreos using a food processor or blender until fine.

oreo balls recipe

Mix with softened cream cheese.

oreo balls recipe

The mixture will end up looking something like...well....mud. =)

oreo balls recipe

Form into small balls and place on wax paper. Chill.

oreo balls recipe

Melt almond bark and dip chilled balls, place back onto wax paper.

oreo balls recipe

I use a toothpick and spoon to cover the balls so I don't get the almond bark all dirty.

oreo balls recipe

After removing it from the toothpick, I dip a separate toothpick in the almond bark and fill in the empty spot made by the toothpick I had stuck in the Oreo ball.

oreo balls recipe

Once all are dipped, chill again. Enjoy!

oreo balls recipe
(Makes approximately 43 Oreo Balls)

  • Use a small cookie scoop to form the balls into equal sizes. 
oreo balls recipe
  • Only melt 5 or 6 squares of almond bark at a time.
  • I store mine in an old ice cream pail in the freezer. They don't take long to soften up to eat!
Click here for the printable recipe.

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December 07, 2012

Weekend Inspiration: DIY Gift Ideas

While researching this topic I came across an article called "Rules for Making DIY Gifts That People Actually Want" from TLC Home. My first thought was, "I didn't realize there were rules." But then I realized, this isn't a bad idea. I mean, no one wants a gift just for the sake of getting a gift. Overall, what I got out of the short article, was put some thought/effort into it. So I figured, why not gather some great ideas all in one place?! It could be sort of like shopping. =) Follow the source links for full tutorials. Have fun!

I'm going to start with candles, because I LOVE them! I have tons of them around my house. Flameless and regular. Candles are fairly easy to make. How about these adorable travel size candles made from small candy or mint tins?

DIY gift ideas
Source: Sunset
These are adorable, aren't they? You could make several to give away individually or as sets. Love this idea. There are so many different sizes and items to make candles. You can use mason jars, tin cans, tea cups, small flower pots, coffee mugs, candy dishes, and the list goes on and on! Is there someone you know that would love to receive a candle?

Note: For more great candle ideas check out decorative decal pillar candles and dip dyed candles.

Next up is a DIY Multi-Strand Scarf brought to us by Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth. My daughter actually made me one of these this summer and I absolutely love it! I get so many compliments on it whenever I wear it and someone always asks how to make it or to look at it closely so they can see how it's made. Click the link for the full tutorial and you will be on your way to making your own!

DIY gift ideas 

I featured this recipe box from The Frugal Girls in an earlier blog post. What a great gift idea to give that someone that loves to be in the kitchen!

DIY gift ideas

Fill it with some personalized recipe cards and they will be set. You can make them on your computer at home. And don't forget to write down a few of your favorites to share with them on those new personalized recipe cards! They will think of you each time they use this.

How about giving Christmas ornaments? Check out this tutorial from The 36th Avenue on how to make chalkboard ornaments. Make an entire set for each person you want to give them to. They look amazing on the tree!

DIY gift ideas


Create a personal tote bag for someone. This lovely tote from Ashley Ann Photography is spot on!

DIY gift ideas

You can personalize a tote any way you like. There are so many options. You can even make the tote yourself. I don't know about you, but I would love one of these!

Make a desk organizer set. After finding this project, I believe I will be making one of these for myself at some point! I love me some organization! This set from In My Own Style is adorable!

DIY gift ideas

Personalized towels make a nice gift as well. You can get as creative as you like with these! Making Lemonade makes it look so easy!

DIY gift ideas

If you don't have stamps, you can make your own by printing out the letters, tracing them on wax paper and then cut them out. These would be an adorable gift! The possibilities are endless!

Sweets! Who doesn't love to receive sweets?! Last year I had done a lot of Christmas baking (recipes to share on the blog coming soon). I found some adorable Christmas boxes that played Christmas music when you took the lid off. I placed plastic wrap in the box and filled it with a sampling of all my goodies. I had one person on my gift list doesn't care for chocolate (what????) so I just put extras of the non-chocolate goodies in her gift box. Everyone loved them! That was pre-blog, so I don't have any pictures of the ones I gave, but you can imagine. You could even write out the recipes, hole punch the corners, tie together with ribbon and include them with the box.

DIY gift ideas

Any gift box will do, depending on how many goodies you place in the box, will determine the size. You could even use something other than a gift box, like a mug.

Gift giving is supposed to be fun so be creative and have fun with it! Will you be giving any DIY gifts this year?

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November 30, 2012

Weekend Inspiration: Holiday Party Ideas

holiday party ideas

Do you enjoy entertaining at the holidays? This time of year is usually very hectic, so why not slow down and spend some time with those you care about. After all, it is the time of year to let those around you know how much you appreciate them. So I thought I would share some holiday party ideas with you.

A cookie exchange is a great way to get your favorite gal pals together. Plus, you get some great treats to share with your family and don't have to bake all of the different varieties yourself. Sounds like a win win, right?

I hosted one of these a few years back (should do another one) and it was great fun! Each participant brought a different baked good to share with the group. Everyone baked 4-5 dozen of the treat of their choice. All goodies were displayed on a table, leaving out a dozen of each to enjoy over the afternoon, of course. Each participant should bring an empty container with them to fill with the variety of goodies. Everyone goes around the table filling their container with the different goodies. You can figure the math out before the exchange so everyone knows how much to take of each kind, or everyone can go around taking one of each until all the goodies are spoken for. I also had everyone bring a copy of her recipe to share with those that wanted it and had recipe cards on hand so they could copy it down.

I found some great, free printables for recipe cards, invitations, voting ballots, and awards over at How to Nest for Less, if you are considering hosting a cookie exchange. As the host, you can offer a small door prize for the best cookie!

Decorating for this type of gathering is easy and fun. If you have already decorated your home for the holidays, that is probably all you really need. You can, however, add a few little touches, such as this adorable wreath made with cookie cutters from Serendipity Refined...

holiday party ideas

You can even scatter around cookie cutters on the table where you display all the goodies, and then each participant can take one home at the end of the party.

A wine tasting is another great way to get a group together to enjoy the holidays. You can get approximately 4-6 glasses of wine per bottle, so you will need to figure out how many bottles are needed depending on how many people you are planning to host.

You will also want to decide how many different types of wine you will offer for tasting. Offer a nice mix of whites and reds, dry and sweet. Snacks go splendidly with wines...strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, even apples. Also, crackers and cheeses go well with the wines. So consider having some on hand to enjoy with the wine.

If you are yourself a wine connoisseur, you won't have any trouble organizing and hosting this, but if not, check into one of your local establishments to see if this is something they offer. This can be educational as well as fun!

To decorate for this type of party, use wine corks as card holders to identify the different types of wines and snacks being offered.

holiday party ideas
Source: Urban Farmhouse
Use empty wine bottles for a gorgeous centerpiece like the ones here from Cleverly Inspired.

holiday party ideas

Most importantly, just have fun!

Everyone loves to eat, at least everyone I know does, so how about hosting a dinner party? Dinner parties can be done two ways. Either you provide all that is to be eaten, which can be costly, or you can ask your guests to bring an item. You could provide the main part of the meal, they could provide some or all of the sides and/or dessert.

This type of party is pretty straight forward. Eat, drink and be merry! Be sure to check with your guests regarding any food allergies. =)

As far as decorating, again, if you decorate your home for the holidays, this should be adequate. You can do up a fun centerpiece for the table or decorate the backs of the dining chairs.

holiday party ideas
Source: A Fool for Flowers
holiday party ideas
Source: Fresh Home Ideas

holiday party ideas
Source: Shelterness
holiday party ideas
Source: DIY Network

On the more casual side, how about hosting an ugly Christmas sweater party? This can be fun for everyone to come up with the ugliest sweater, prompting participants to even make an ugly sweater. Now, you can give as much leeway here as you like. Maybe you will allow vests, sweatshirts, etc. The rules are up to you.

Have cards for everyone to cast an anonymous vote for the "best" sweater and have a prize, like a gift card to go towards purchasing a non-ugly sweater. ;)  You can also award the "worst" sweater with a gag gift.

Have plenty of snacks and refreshments for everyone to enjoy while mingling and just having a good time. Play some Christmas carols as background music to enhance the mood.

holiday party ideas
Source: Babble

Lastly, have you considered hosting a tree trimming party? I think this would be so much fun. Put up your tree and be sure it is well lit, but do not decorate it until the party.

Guests can bring an ornament to put on the tree. They should place their name and the year on it so you will always remember when and who you received it from. Be sure to give your guests an ornament to take home to place on their own tree to remember you by as a party favor. Another option, is you and your guests can make ornaments during the party to place on the tree. They can make one to take home as well. Have plenty of space and supplies for everyone.

A fun idea for the homemade ornament would be to purchase small picture frames and take pictures of everyone when they arrive. Everyone can decorate their frames to personalize them. If you can, print the pictures at home, otherwise, add the pictures later. You could have a small tree just for these ornaments.

This could become an annual event. Think of how fun it would be to see everyone's ornaments from year to year and spend time reminiscing about Christmases past.

holiday party ideas
A Touch of Christmas 2012
If you are considering hosting a party for the holidays, I hope these ideas have helped. And if not this year, maybe next year! Have you hosted a party like any of these before?

It can be difficult to not get so stressed out this time of year, so be sure to take a little time for yourself and your loved ones. Happy Holidays and have a great weekend!

This post is linked to:

Fox Hollow Cottage

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