Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Sunday, February 14, 2016

These scratch made brownies are the perfect treat for Valentine's Day or Christmas because of their pretty red color. And they're super easy to make! Give this recipe a try for your Sweetie!



Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Brownies
1 stick butter
2 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Mixture
8-oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine butter and chocolate. Heat in 30 second intervals in the microwave until completely melted. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Batter should be red. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until mixture is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
  5. Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
  7. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. Brownies may either be served at room temperature or chilled.
Notes:  

The more swirling you do in step 5, the more of a marble texture you will create.

This recipe makes a lighter red velvet. If a more traditional red velvet is desired, start with dark chocolate and add an additional 1/2 tsp food coloring. 


New Year's Cleaning

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I know, I know…  We are technically already into the month of February and I'm just now talking about New Year's.  Well, there's a reason for that.  We all make New Year's resolutions that last for only a few weeks (if we are lucky) and then we kind of start to fall off.  I wanted to make sure that I was going to stick with this resolution before I mentioned it here.  But now that we are almost six weeks into the new year and I'm still going strong, I think it's time to confess what I've been up to.


One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to clean house.  And I'm not talking about dusting and vacuuming, although that wouldn't hurt either.  :)  I'm talking about decluttering, organizing, purging, and really deciding what things are useful and what things just need to be tossed for good. And when you're talking about doing this for your entire house, you're really talking about a big undertaking. But so far, what's really working for me is breaking things up into very small and manageable sections of the house to work on at a time.  

For example, instead of saying I'm going to organize my entire closet today, I have chosen to break things up by spending 20 minutes to go through all of my jeans.  Maybe the next day I'll spend 15 minutes going through my sock drawer.  And when I'm organizing and purging, I'm using these criteria to determine what to keep and what goes.  

  • Is it useful?
  • Is it beautiful?
  • Do I love it?
  • Is this a sentimental item?


And if it doesn't meet at least one of these criteria, then it goes in a pile to donate or toss, depending on what it is.  

Here's a little rundown of all the things that I've been able to organize just in the first six weeks of this year.

  • Cleaned and organized under the kitchen sink; tossed old cleaners and ones that we don't use or don't work.  
  • Organized all of my jewelry; consolidated everything into one armoire; tossed old, broken, or junk pieces I no longer wear.
  • Cleaned and organized bathroom cabinets and drawers; purchased and installed drawer organizers that have literally changed my life.
  • Sorted books and toys; began preparing items for children's consignment sale.
  • Cleaned out the laundry room; tossed large hamper that we aren't using.  It was taking up precious real estate that I intend to use for a drying rack instead. 
  • Organized office files; retaining only important receipts, documents, and files.
  • Went through Lexi's clothes and shoes to weed out what no longer fits and needs to go into the upcoming consignment sale.
  • Cleaned and organized guest bedroom/ closet/ gift wrap area (which was still a mess from Christmas)

Oh, there is still much to be done. But I am slowly chipping away at it and feeling really good about the progress I'm making so far.  Some of these tasks have taken me several days or more to complete. But as I mentioned I'm trying to do things a little bit at a time. I find if you take on too much at a time, you just get burnt out and overwhelmed. This way seems to be working really well for me.  And stuff is getting done.

There are also a few things that I am delegating to my husband for his help.  And when he has a few minutes to spare, I enlist his help for small projects to knock them off the list.  Things like:

  • Changing light bulbs
  • Taking tools and such back to the garage to put away
  • Hanging pictures
So there you have it.  An organized and simplified home greatly contributes to my sanity.  That's the goal, and we are slowly but surely chipping away at it.  What resolutions did you make this year that you are still working toward?

A Valentine-y Dining Room Tour

Saturday, February 6, 2016

As promised, here is another look around at more Valentine's Day decorating that I've been cooking up recently- this time in the dining room.  I really do enjoy unpacking my seasonal treasures with each change of season, and carefully helping them to find their place.  If they need cleaning, I clean them up.  Many of these pieces are vintage wares, so I try to take very good care of them now that they have found their home.  

Here's the big picture of the dining room all gussied up for Valentine's Day.


And here's the bird's eye view of the table setting. 


Now, let's zoom in to see the close-ups.  The blue dishes that you see here are our every day dishes. We have had them for several years now, and I still enjoy them.  I accent each place setting with our Irish linens that we brought back from our trip to Ireland a few years ago.  I always add roses to the Valentine's Day table- just because.  And the tea cups and saucers are new to me this year.  They were a Mother's Day gift from John and Lexi last year.  Their pretty pink floral pattern made them a no brainer to add to this table setting. 


Here's a closer look at some of the tea service pieces.  I remembered that I also had a couple of pretty tea strainers in my kitchen cupboard so I also added those to a couple of the tea cups. 


I like to sprinkle the Valentine's Day table liberally with "love birds".  Here are a few of them now!



This little creamer bird is new to me this year.  He is small but very sweet.  I thought he matched this table well. :)


And remember my pink nursery rhyme glassware?  I decided to display it in the dining room along with a few other vintage finds. 


It would seem that I have a thing for old children's cups and plates.  I found this one recently in a little antique store and couldn't pass it by. The image in the center of the little girl feeding her teddy bear is just darling, but what makes it for me is that the sides of the plate say "I go here, says the Fork" and "I go here, says the Spoon".  I swoon. 


On that same antiquing trip, I also found this gorgeous pink poodle bank.  It's ceramic, and it doesn't have a stopper in the bottom.  The head actually comes apart to access your coins inside.  You can see the two pieces are tied together with a ribbon to hold everything in place. 


And finally, I also found this huge antique German Valentine's Day card recently.  It is a 3-D card that stands about six inches tall, with pop up and honeycomb features.  These cards were popular in the early 1900s, but aren't super rare.  Most of them feature scenes like this one.  Very pretty, and very Valentine-y.  They sure don't make them like this anymore. 


So there you have it.  My Valentine's Day dining room is ready for big day.  As you can see, this room is decorated very differently from the kitchen.  And it's not a traditional red and pink decor with hearts everywhere.  I used my soft blue dishes and accented with other pastel pieces, sprinkling in lots of floral and lots of vintage finds.  Decorating is highly personal.  It doesn't have to be precise or to anyone else's liking but your own.  It should always be fun and always be filled with things you love.  :)

For more Valentine's decorating, be sure to take a look at these other blog posts from the Harris Sisters:







And we wish you are your sweetheart a very Happy Valentine's Day!

A Valentine-y Kitchen Tour

Friday, February 5, 2016

Can the calendar be right?  It's already February, and Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  Oh heavens!  Wasn't it just Christmas yesterday?  Thankfully, I started my Valentine's Day decorating right after I put away all my Christmas decor, so even though I don't feel quite ready, I guess I am more so than I thought. 

Here's a look at my Valentine's kitchen tablescape this year. 


And here's the bird's eye view of the whole thing in action. 


Now, let's zoom in on a few favorites for you.  This is one of my very favorite pieces, added last year. It's a shelf sitter set of salt and pepper shakers.  These kissing kiddies are adorable and fit right in to the tablescape.  I sit them atop a vintage pink depression glass cake stand. 


Here's another favorite- probably my MOST favorite- it's my vintage Humpty Dumpty cookie jar, and I have shown him on the blog several times before.  I always look for reasons to bring him out.  I think his pastel colors match this table perfectly, and with the addition of my "new" vintage nursery rhyme table glassware this year, I think my Valentine's decor is starting to take on a new theme. 


Here's another look.  He sits atop another cake plate.  You will see lots of pink depression glassware, candy conversation hearts, and vintage Valentine Cards on display.  It's fun to find these treasures through the year and bring them all together for this tablescape.  

Oh, and my mini chalkboard now advertises "Kisses" for only 25 cents.  It's been fun dressing it up with each change of seasons. 


Oh, but my piece de resistance are these amazing vintage honeycomb wedding bells.  I hung them from the kitchen chandelier this year overlooking my Valentine's tablescape.  I LOVE them so much. And I have to say a HUGE thanks to Magpie Ethel for her inspiration of vintage bells that she uses for her New Year's display.  When I saw them on her blog, I nearly did a backflip.  They are amazing. She is amazing.  If you love treasure hunting and decorating with vintage items, read her blog.  It is everything.  Enough said. 


Here's a peek at the table with the wedding bells hanging down in the center.  I really do like the effect.  They were such a cheap thrill, and are pretty readily available on both eBay and Etsy.  And what's more, they fold flat for storage, so they take up very little room in the storage box. Another plus!


I usually add a special piece of two of depression glass to this table setting each year, but this year I opted instead for new napkins.  The napkins I previously used with this table were nothing special, so I had this set embroidered from an Etsy vendor, and I love how they turned out.  The "Be Mine" napkin is my favorite.  So I placed it at hubby's spot at the table.  Now that's true love.  Speaking of which, that's one of the other napkins.  The set included "Be Mine", "True Love" , "XOXO", and "I Love You".


I used the "I Love You" napkin for my own place setting. 


So that's the quick look at this year's Valentine's tablescape.  Stay tuned for more Valentine's decorating in the dining room too. How are you gussying up for Valentine's Day this year?

***UPDATE***

Just when I thought I wasn't going to add any new pink depression pieces to the collection this year, these lovelies found their way into my life.  I was out window shopping in one of my favorite shops this weekend when I spied two of these gorgeous sherbet glasses. 


There were only two, and the shop owner said he just put them out.  They came from Ohio and had only been on display for a couple days  when I found them.  He also told me this pattern in the Miss America pattern, which was very helpful so I can keep an eye out to hopefully find a couple more one day.  What a wonderful find!