A family's journey of learning how to make a home, save money and be healthy… while having fun doing it!

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Chinese Chippendale Chairs- Before and After

I have been waiting patiently since we moved in to this new house to give this set of chairs a little upgrade (they were covered in shiny brown paint and fabric that just didn’t match in our house).

chair 1 (1)

I debated a ton of “refinishing” options:

  • sanding them and then staining
  • spraying it white or black for a classic look
  • going bright turquoise, navy, or even a fun yellow/green color

But then my sister thought of a charcoal color and I was sold. Although I wish I was more adventurous with color in my decorating (from seeing all of these beautiful colorful, Pinterest homes) I just can’t seem to breakaway from my grey habit/slightly masculine color taste in design.

I’ve wanted Chinese Chippendale chairs since I can remember. I’ve always loved the style. So I updated mine with a light grey linen tablecloth (cheaper than buying fabric!), a test-size can of paint in charcoal grey, a hand sander and a staple gun.

Here’s what they look like now:

chair 2



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Salted Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes Recipe/ Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Up here in Wisconsin, where the temps are currently -12 (-35 with the windchill), we’re stuck inside with nothing to do but bake! So I made homemade chicken soup and my favorite kind of cupcakes: Salted chocolate caramel pretzel cupcakes.

These are easy to throw together and look nice for parties or events. The recipe is below:


Salted Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes/ Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Author: The Family Class
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  16 mins
Total time: 36 mins
Use your favorite boxed chocolate cake mix to first quickly make the cupcakes. Or, I like to use this recipe (minus the frosting) for my chocolate cakes from scratch.
Next is the salted caramel buttercream. This recipe uses butter, whipped cream, vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt.
  • 2 sticks UNSALTED butter softened (but not melted!) The ideal texture should feel like ice cream. I can’t stress this enough: perfect frosting is almost 100% the right consistency of the butter. I microwave mine on 1/2 power and watch it very carefully for about a minute.
  • 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping from Starbucks. I bought a whole bottle (they sell it seasonally) but if that’s not available, order a drink and ask for the caramel syrup on the side (any excuse to run to Starbucks!)
  • Snyder’s or any brand square-shaped pretzels
  1. Beat the butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed.
  2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar is incorporated with the butter.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to medium again and add vanilla extract, salt, and 4 tablespoons of cream and beat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the Starbucks caramel (note: if you don’t want the caramel to be strong, I recommend adding a small amount at a time and taste testing!)
  5. Pipe on the frosting and top with a pretzel and crushed pretzel pieces (I do this by putting them in a baggy and letting my son “smash” them)