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:

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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.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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)

Enjoy!


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My New Cakes!

In addition to the blog, I also make cakes in my spare time. I’ve been busy making cakes all weekend, and have been away from the blog for a little bit. These were definitely the most challenging cakes I’ve done to date, but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out!

Here’s the princess cake:

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and the Woody/Toy Story themed cake:

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What do you guys think? I’d love some feedback!


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Orange Glad Review and EXCLUSIVE Promo Code- A Dessert Box Subscription- SAY WHAT???

We were so thrilled when the nice folks at Orange Glad offered to send us a box to review. Orange Glad sends an assortment of desserts in the mail every month, and although we try to eat healthy over here at the family class, we both have a sweet tooth and we enjoy gourmet sweets.

 The box:

Orange Glad: $19.95/month. Orange Glad is a assortment of gourmet sweets delivered straight to your doorstep every month.

Promo code: Orange Glad has a special code for our readers only: 10% off with code “FAMCLASS10″

 

ImageOur box contained five different types of treats.

 

It also came with two inserts as well.  The first one told us about all the treats and the companies that made them.  

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The second insert was an ingredients list. I always love when companies include ingredient lists, because I have Celiac (so I eat mostly gluten-free) and I like to know what the ingredients are!

ImageAnd here’s all of the delicious desserts we received! (Also, we received this box the same week of our move. I had to BEG Greg not to eat it before I could photograph it- if there’s chocolate in the house, he finds it.)

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The Crispery S’mores Crispy Cake

Marshmallows are my absolute favorite dessert, I think because they tend to be gluten-free! So my eyes lit up when I saw The Crispery S’mores Crispy Cake. I’ve actually seen these in a different subscription box and I’ve always wanted to try them. This yummy marshmallow treat is layered with crunchy graham cracker cookies, rich chocolate, and marshmallows. This was the main thing I had to keep away from Greg. Want proof? He was hovering over me while I took pictures waiting to snatch this one away when I was done. He didn’t even bother to take the cardboard sleeve all the way off before he tried it:

ImageSeriously. He’s like a dessert vulture.

 

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Cary’s of Oregon Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee

From the info card: Cary’s Toffee is made from a mouth-watering blend of sugar, butter, milk and a hint of vanilla extract. Cary’s of Oregon creates award-winning toffee based on family tradition.

These were delicious. I love toffee. It’s one of my favorite types of chocolate. I claimed these right away!

 

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Julian’s Recipe Liege Style Vanilla Belgian Waffle

From the info card: European Belgian dessert waffles are steadily gaining popularity in the United States. These treats are made with pearlized sugar that create a dreamy caramelized coating on the outside, yet the inside of the waffle is still perfectly soft and fluffy. Julian’s Recipe Liege Style Vanilla Belgian Waffle has a subtle sweet flavor and can be enjoyed during any time of the day.

These were seriously magical. My sister and I tried this one on Black Friday. We both loved it! I only wish I had more. I’m going to be ordering these for sure. It was a keeper.

 

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Isabella’s Cookie Company Choco-La-La-La

Soooo… my sister and I may have also eaten these for breakfast on Black Friday. Hey, no one ever said Black Friday breakfast had to be healthy. My favorite thing about the winter season is all of the holiday-themed treats that emerge. Isabella’s Cookie’s had white chocolate mint chips and red, green and white sprinkles. They were adorable and tasted great! I thought these would make a good gift/comfort food for someone far away at Christmas time!

 

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Newark Nut Company Chocolate Peanut Butter Brittle

Peanut brittle is a childhood favorite of mine because my grandma used to make it. I love the salty sweet flavor combination of the peanut brittle and the chocolate. We all loved this one!

 

Our verdict:

If you couldn’t tell from our glowing reviews, we’re completely in love with Orange Glad (I mean, chocolate treats delivered to my door, how can you not love it?). Each of the featured products seems to taste homemade, and has a fancy artisan feel. Orange Glad would make a great last minute Christmas gift this season!

What do you guys think? If you want to check Orange Glad out, don’t forget to use coupon code “FAMCLASS10″ to score 10% off!


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Mia Tempo Review- Monthly Organic/VEGAN Spa Supplies in a box!

First things first: I feel like we haven’t been on here in forever since our move, but we’re back now, and excited to get some of these boxes we have piling up reviewed! We also can’t wait to share some new house renovation pics (coming soon!)

 

Mia Tempo is a monthly subscription box featuring all natural/organic/vegan spa and beauty products. Their mission is to provide you some much needed “me time” with a relaxing, spa-like experience each and every month in the mail. What could be better than that? AND, With each box sold, Mia Tempo donates a portion of the proceeds to non-profit organizations that empower women. Sounds good to us!

 

My sister was in town for Thanksgiving, so instead of dealing with all of the craziness, fighting over $2 toasters, and crazy lines, we decided to have an online shopping/baking marathon on Thursday (Thanksgiving) night and a stay-at-home spa day, compliments of Mia Tempo, on Friday!

 

This month they debuted their first “Limited Edition Signature Box”, which is the box that we are lucky enough to be reviewing. I love that all of the products are organic- I have an allergy to anything that is artificially scented and I tend to break out- so I pretty much stick with organic or non-scented stuff. According to Mia Tempo, this box has been curated to reflect the rhythms of the fall season and features a number of firsts for them:

 

1.      The first skin care & bath products blended exclusively for Mia Tempo subscribers by the team at Buffalo Gal Organics.

2.      Eco-Fill Shred from the French Paper Company – made in the USA from 100% recycled materials by a 140 year old family-run company that is totally water powered.

3.      Based on many, many requests the skin care, bath & beauty products in our Signature Box are Gluten Free & Vegan Friendly!

Here’s what I received:

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Mia Tempo ships USPS in a brown box:

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And when you open it, behold the gorgeous wrapping! Doesn’t it look relaxing already?

ImageIncluded in every box is a treatment menu. This menu tells you the order of everything and explains all of the products. Love it!

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ImageThe first step on the card was to relax, and prepare a warm cup of tea from Tea Forte – I’ve always wanted to try Tea Forte (seriously, how adorable is that package?). I received orchid vanilla, and it was delicious.

 

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ImagePaddywax Library Collection Jane Austin Candle – I love candles! This one is a 2-wick soy wax candle, without synthetic fragrances. It comes in a cute little reusable travel tin. The scent is a floral blend of gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine. Love it, and I could smell it immediately when we opened the box- it really does smell like a spa!

 

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Next up on the treatment menu were the Buffalo Gal Organics Dead Sea Bath Soak (Amber & Fig) – These bath salts smell great, and I already use bath salts for sore muscles pretty often so I was excited to see these! They are made with essential oils and organic herbs to help you wind down and detoxify. One word of caution: they have a lot of herbs in them, and it may freak your husband out a bit if you forget to rinse the bath out after… but they rinse right out… oops! 🙂

 

ImageNext up on the treatment menu, we did the Buffalo Gal Organics Cream Body Scrub (Amber & Fig) –we ended up using this as a foot scrub for pedicures, although this is an all-natural scrub that can be used on your whole body. It smelled great and made my feet super soft!

 

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Next on the treatment menu was the Wild Carrot Herbals Wild Rose Face Mask – This is a small, one-use packet of powder that you mix with honey & water. We added honey and water to it, and it made our skin feel amazing! I’ll be hunting this one down for sure!

I even managed to get a picture of my sister putting it on. Here’s Kelsey’s big blog debut:

ImageWe joked the entire time that we looked like “Wilson” the volleyball from Castaway. But we had a lot of fun, which I think is the point of Mia Tempo’s spa box!

 

 

ImageNext, we tried Buffalo Gal Organics Deep Moisture Lotion (Amber & Fig) – This is an all-natural lotion that smells amazing.

Finally, we tried the Wild Carrot Herbals Wild Rose Eye Cream – Rose essential oil is one of the safest oils to use on the skin. It fights fine lines and wrinkles by protecting the delicate tissues around your eyes. I love the “rose” smell too- it reminds me of my Lola’s house.

 

Our thoughts:

We loved Mia Tempo. I’d recommend it for a lazy, after Thanksgiving or Christmas sister or friend day, or just for some pampering for yourself after a long week! I also think it would make an amazing Mother’s day present or present for any woman in your life that lives far away- because all of us could use some pampering (especially organic!) every once in awhile!

I was also hoping I wouldn’t get a ton of beauty products I’d never use. I don’t subscribe to many “beauty” boxes because I don’t do a ton with my makeup and I don’t switch up my style very often (I’ve used Estee Lauder coverup for about 100 years and probably always will) That said, I was definitely pleased with the items I received. Not only were they organic and vegan, but they were all so useful we used them right away!

What do you guys think? Would you try out a spa in a box experience? Why or why not?

 

 


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If you shop on Thanksgiving, you are part of the problem

Here’s a really good article that explains why I loathe Black Friday. 😉

The Matt Walsh Blog

friday_sales-tu9i

I’m a capitalist. It’s not my religion, I won’t bow before its altar, I won’t kiss its ring, but I believe in capitalism. It’s an invention of man and it involves money, so it’s not perfect, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest a better system. So I’m a capitalist.

I am not, however, a consumerist. I like the freedom and innovation of capitalism; I loath the materialism and gluttony of consumerism. There’s a popular misconception that capitalism and consumerism are inextricably linked; that one naturally involves and requires the other. But this is a fallacy. Certainly the “stimulus” programs a few years ago ought to have dispelled this notion entirely. The government perverted the free market and elected to hand free money to millions of people, hoping that they’d go out and buy a bunch of stuff with it. This was consumerism at the expense of capitalism, and it revealed…

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We’re Moving! And 33 Moving Tips that will make your life so much easier

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We’re moving into our house over the next 2 weeks! We’re so excited and can’t wait to show before/after pics- our house was a complete reno. We also have some reviews we’re working on that need to get put up after the move, but in the mean-time, I thought I’d share this helpful article that I found full of great moving tips. 

 

Click here to read the article.