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October 2015
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December 2015

Friday Food: Christmas Tree Brownies

Christmas tree brownie popI always help with some Christmas cooking at school. MrsDrWho spotted a Betty Crocker Christmas Tree Brownie Mix Kit ( endless name) and after going to five supermarkets and making three phone calls I finally tracked some down. It is sensible to ask the aide to cook with something that needs as little explanation as possible. I would use my favourite plain brownie recipe: This one is good, and so is this.

It all went very smoothly and the brownies tasted fine. I tested them on my next-door neighbour!! Icing and sprinkles are included and you only need 1/2 cup melted butter and two eggs. You could use 1/2 cup oil at a pinch. It really is so easy to mix. I baked the brownie in ab25 x 16cm slice tin. The brownie is the perfect depth and only took 30 minutes to cook. I made a little template for cutting out the triangle shapes: an isosceles triangle with a base of 6cm and a height of 8cm. I managed to cut 16 little tree shapes and there was hardly any waste.

I gently stuck a paddle pop stick into the "tree" and it all went very well!!! My paddle pop sticks were as huge as tongue depressors, but that was what I had on hand. All in all, very successful. I made my own simple icing from icing sugar mixture and water and piped with a ziplock bag, and I tried a few different sprinkles. I will definitely add Christmas Tree Brownies to my list this year.

Christmas Tree Brownies  makes 14-16

  • I used a box mix, any brownie mix that is firm should do the trick, or use your own favourite recipe.
  • This mix required 1/2 cup melted butter and two eggs.
  • The box included the icing and sprinkles, however a cup of icing sugar, water and a ziplock bag will do the trick.
  • Any and various sprinkles and/or lollies for decoration.
  • Paddle pop sticks if you are making trees with trunks!!


If you are using this Brownie Mix, preheat the oven to 180*C or fan-forced 160*C. Melt the 1/2 cup of butter and I do that in an oven-proof bowl while the oven is heating. Put the brownie mix in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and two eggs. Whisk until combined: about ten seconds!!!

Melt butter, eggs and mix

Grease and then line a 25 x 16cm slice tin with baking paper. Spoon in the brownie mixture and smooth the top. I get to use my offset spatula and feel all cheffy!! Bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick or skewer stuck into the centre should come out clean when it is cooked. I always turn my tins halfway through.

And bake and cool

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then on a rack until completely cold.

Cut the brownie

Cut the brownie in half lengthways and then cut out triangle shapes, using the tessellation idea. This means there is as little waste as possible. You can make a template or just cut away blithely. Carefully lift the trees onto some baking paper and get ready to decorate. There is some frosting in the box or make your own icing and use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner snipped off to pipe.


I didn't try to pipe just on top of the tree, I went wildly* from side to side and then cleaned up the edges at the end when the icing was almost set.

*Well not too wildly, but I felt wicked!!

Clean up the sides

In the end I drizzled the sprinkles over the top and reclaimed any excess when the icing was set. I used some 100s and 1000s, and some red sanding sure as well. All in all a very quick, delicious and Christmassy idea.

Brownie christmas trees

Revved Up Like A Deuce, A Christmas Runner In The Night.

Our Sewing Christmas outing went very well last night. We ate tasty food, drank bubbly and swapped gifts. I made some serviceable, but cute, table runners.

Christmas table runner thingies

And MrsReno brought us all a jar of strawberry jam that she made that very day from the berries in her garden. I had jam on toast for breakfast!!!

Really fresh jam on toast

The Scandinavian Santas are taking shape. I have knitted two. I played about with the colour work so I didn't have so many ends. I knitted the beards with doubled wool, and the two rows of the face single. I may use a water colour pencil to colour the face area.  I used different sized needles to make different sizes. I'm making the reindeer 'sweater' Santa next. They take hardly any time to knit, but I have yet to sew and fill one with toy stuffing.

Scandi santas

The Force Be With You Hat is complete all bar the ends.

The Force Be With You Hat 2015

I remembered to take a photo of my Seersucker dress. It is the first one I made so I sewed a dart on each side of the neck to stop the gaping. MrsDrWho said the colour pattern is so busy no-one will notice., The pattern does go every which way but loose. I made a circular skirt and a to-be-going-on-with belt. It needs to be longer, I can't tie a bow.

Seersucker dress 2015

Miss Lorelai Gilmore is still persevering with the chewy bone. I have no idea why she looks so worried, no-one wants that yucky thing.

Gilly and the bone

On Saturdays we don't always meet her friends on our walk. We go up the hill just in case, and then down again. Gilly spends a lot of time wistfully looking back up the hill. You never know, someone might still come.......

Any one coming down the hill

It rained on Wednesday and Gilly was very sad because there was no Morning Tea. There was a rain storm last night and snow quite low down in The South. Fingers crossed it rains again.

In more muscle news, I am working at fixing my quadriceps and piriformis. It appears I will just be hurting all my muscles in turn. I am trying to be less worried and anxious, and my kind Physiotherapist reassured me that my muscles will eventually settle down.

Oh and look what I spotted in The BlackSpot of Doomlight (tm). A very bored guide dog in training. He lay there as instructed, but sighed audibly and then licked the floor until he coughed!!!

Bored guide dog in training

Hat's The Name Of The Game

I am a bit chuffed with myself.

Every year I make MrsDrWho an Advent Calendar with 25 gifts. I have a few things on the go, Santas, and a Nativity, but because we are all going to The Star Wars:The Force Awakens in the middle of the night, which feels so wicked and decadent, I decided to knit her a hat- The Force Awakens Hat from The Ravelry. It is a free pattern, but I did not have much hope that I could do it. I am not very good at colour work, intarsia or fairisle, at all. Still, I decided I would give it a go. And lo, I have almost made a what I like to call acceptable hat.

Force be with you awakening

My 'K' needs a little work and the 'S' disappears into the decorative border, and it needs a good wash and press, but I think it is OK!!  I took the picture with my Ipad so it is a little creamier than in real life. But, I can see the words and the ships and the storm trooper. I have just a few more rows to go and I have finished the decreases. Then there are the ends to sew in....... The pattern only calls for two colours at a time, and so I wound off a little ball of the secondary colour to make it easier to work with and I tried to make as many joins as I could at the place where I joined in the round at the start. Not too many considering.

Inside the force

My hamstring is good, but now as part of a Domino Effect I have hurt my medial ligament and my hip. Thank goodness for sensible friends who listen to me moan and then reassure me, in the face of my worries. Although my knee still aches, I can go down the steps in a normal walking fashion instead of each step, one at a time with a rest in between. And I still take Lorelai Gilmore for her walk.

Lorelai Gilmore so looks forward to her walk. She runs and plays with Rafa: here recreating The Creation of Adam with The Walking Man, who we meet on our walks.

Rafa and the walking man

Gilly runs so fast her ears don't know where to be and she blurs in the photo.

Gilly is so fast

In good Labrador diet news, Gilly has gained health and lost 2 kg. It's been an up and down month for her. She has been burying and digging up her special bone again, she's not terribly good at it, and gets dirt up her nose. She snorts and sneezes, but it must be worth it.

Gilly buries her bone again

Peri's Rose has been transplanted into a new pot in a safe part of the garden thanks to The GardyGardeners. It is blooming and beautiful.

Peri's rose

I didn't mean to, and I didn't want to, but I ended up watching part one of Sarah Ferguson's series Hitting Home, about domestic violence. I couldn't watch some of it, it was just too terrible, and the other parts moved me to tears. It is frightening to think that two women a week have been killed by their partners, or ex partners, in Australia this year. Countless others and their children have been injured. I don't really know what to say, it is just awful. I have never smacked any of the dogs, and I don't believe smacking children works either. It is just a big person hurting a small person. I have smacked a child's hand out the way when they put the fork near the plugged in toaster, and I have lifted children out of the way or held them apart when there was a fight in the playground at school. Teachers are not meant to become involved, but you can't stand by as one child hurts another.

I am glad that the new blog design works. It gives me pause every time I look at it, because it is so different!! I just looked back to see my very first blog post ever. It was a Bravenet blog on the 10th September 2004, so I have been blogging for eleven years. I look at my list of blogs in the sidebar and only about 8/38 are still regularly blogging. Times change and people move on. I try to embrace change, although not always successfully. Trying new things is good, and I would never have made such a nice Star Wars hat if I had not mustered up my courage and started knitting.

Friday Food: Festive Ginger Biscuits

Festive ginger biscuitsAll being well, I am starting a little Festive cooking for Friday Food in the run up to Christmas. I am going to be trialling some new-to-me recipes to determine whether they are worthy of being added to my Christmas Cooking List.

A little bit of Blog-keeping: I have no idea if other people can read the new blog template easily. I can see it on the computer and The Ipad, but I don't know about everyone else.

This recipe is in the December Better Homes & Gardens, Issue 13 for 2015. It's a kind of bonus issue. Quite a few people I bake for love ginger and so I gingered these up by adding some extra naked ginger. If I had had some fresh ginger I would have grated that into the mixture. It is a fabulous recipe because the butter is simply rubbed into the flour, there is no need for any electric appliance.

I made half the recipe and only baked half and ended up with 8 biscuits, so : Maths...... and it would make 32 biscuits. I added extra ginger so I eked out 6 extra biscuits. I measured out a 20ml tablespoon of the biscuit dough and weighed it, and made all my biscuits 23g. People not obsessed with numbers and such-like would most likely just roll out walnut-sized balls.

The biscuits are very festive just as they are, but I attempted the decorations shown in the magazine. There were no actual instructions, so I just made it up as I went along. I bought some M&Ms and some plain Cadbury Dairy Milk Roll, some chocolate sprinkles and white and dark chocolate.  I used a zip lock bag to do the piping. BH&G also suggests that if you don't have the time, or inclination, to bake you can buy Gingernut biscuits from the supermarket.


Festive Ginger Biscuits   makes 26-32

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tspn ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup or honey
  • 1 egg
  • optional, 1/2 cup naked ginger, finely chopped (crystallised would be fine)

To decorate


Rub the butter in

Sift the flour, bicarb soda and ground ginger into a bowl and stir to mix. Rub the butter into the flour until it has the texture of breadcrumbs. If you shake the bowl a little, the larger pieces come to the top and you can rub them in again.

Wet ingredients and knead

Add the egg, sugar and golden syrup. Mix with a spoon or fork until the dough comes together and then use your hands. Here's where I added the finely chopped ginger. Wetting your hands may stop the dough from sticking. I kneaded it in the bowl for maybe 30 seconds until it was smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap or put in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180*C and line your trays with baking paper. The biscuits need to cool almost completely on the tray, so it is best if you have perhaps three trays ready to go.

Dough and biscuits rolled

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the tray. Flatten slightly. I forgot to do this, but I remembered half way through and did it then and my biscuits seemed to survive well enough. They don't spread very much. I could have easily fitted 12 biscuits on my tray.

Flatten and bake

Cook for about 12 minutes. As usual, I turn and swap the trays half way through. The biscuits are baked when they are slightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray. They are quite fragile until they cool and harden.

Plain ginger biscuits

I decorated with little thought for neatness and even less skill. Nevertheless, I have made a chocolate coated biscuit with chocolate sprinkles, a reindeer with upside down Choc Bits for eyes, a melting snowman and a Christmas pudding. I had a lot of fun and I think this would be a great activity for children at school or at home.  While you could use any round plain sweet biscuit, I think the Gingernut is more hardy. If you do click through to the Gingernuts, you can see Australians are very picky and choosy and different regions have different styles and types of biscuit. And never the twain shall meet!!!

Decorated biscuits


Friday Food: Lamington Cupcakes

Inner cupcakeI have slightly adapted this from the November Coles Magazine's White Christmas Lamington Muffins. I don't think they can really be lamington cupcakes unless there is some chocolate. They already have the jam and the coconut. I used melted butter instead of oil, because I prefer a cake that tastes delicious rather than one with a nice texture. I also made my own buttercream frosting/icing, instead of using a packet. That way I know what is in it.

MrsDrWho affirms that these should be served cold, not warm. I have made three batches and they all kept well, un-iced, until I needed them the next day.  The recipe says it makes 12, but I made up to 17 using an ice-cream scoop as a measure.

I watched this video and using only a knife, I made the flat top version as I couldn't find my star swirly piping nozzle.

If you cannot find buttermilk, you can substitute a cup of plain yoghurt, or a cup of milk soured with 20ml of lemon juice or white vinegar. Of course, you can leave out the dark chocolate and they will be perfectly fine as well!!


Dark Christmas Lamington Cupcakes     makes 12-16 ish

  • 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) butter, melted and cooled - or vegetable oil
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g dark chocolate, finely grated or chopped
  • about 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 20gm (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut

For the frosting

  • 185g softened butter
  • 2 1/4 cups icing sugar, softened or pure, which must be sifted
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 20-40ml milk


Preheat the oven to 200*C and put about 16 muffin or patty pan papers into your cupcake trays.

Buttermilk eggs butter

Whisk the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and cooled, melted butter together in a jug, or bowl, that allows  for easy pouring.

Dry and wet

Mix the flour and baking powder with the caster sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

Add chocolate

Gradually stir the wet and dry ingredients together. The fewer folds the better. Sprinkle over the dark chocolate and fold that in gently too. The best thing is to stop just before you think everything is combined.

There's a hole in my cupcake

I put an level ice-cream scoop of the batter into each paper case and then I took a teaspoonful out again. I actually dipped my clean fore-finger into some almost boiling water and then made a deeper, wider hole in the centre of each cake. I was careful not to expose the base of the paper case. You could use the end of a clean wooden spoon or even a teaspoon. My hands are pretty used to hot kitchen temperatures.

Jam and bake

Spoon about a teaspoon of the raspberry jam into the centre of the cupcake and then cover with the teaspoon of the cake batter you removed. I don't have a photo of this, but I smoothed the top with the back of a wet teaspoon and because you frost the cakes, it doesn't matter too much. You don't want the jam bubbling out though. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them.  Mine took 20 minutes and I turned and rotated the trays half way through.

Cool in the trays for 5 minutes and then place on a rack until completely cold.

To make the buttercream frosting or icing, whip the softened butter and vanilla with a stand mixer, (mix-master at our house) and when it is pale add the icing sugar 1/2 a cup or so at a time. Scrape down the sides and add a little of the milk if you need to.

Lamington cupcakes

Top the cupcakes with the frosting. I used a piping bag with a star nozzle on my first batch, and then the flat top method for this batch. Sprinkle with the coconut. I don't trim the top off my cupcakes, and so you can see the cake between the icing and the paper. I don't really mind.

I think these are rather sweet, and I love the surprise inside.

Ice the cupcakes

Hammy Dodger

I know what a Jammie Dodger is, because I find myself to be an unexpected Anglophile in relation to many things: though definitely NOT the monarchy!! We call our Jammie Dodger-like biscuits Arnott's Raspberry Shortcake: These jam filled biscuits are most popular in their home state of Victoria, where they were launched in the 1960s. Often known as 'jammy dodgers' in England, these biscuits have a unique Australian twist. The jam filling includes fine coconut, which adds extra flavour. (

Would that I could have dodged my hamstring injury. Yes, my football career is over before it had even begun. Walking a six-year-old Labrador more often and up more hills, meant that I hurt my hamstring.(Gilly has been digging holes and then playing in the paddle pool)

Gilly likes digging

Wow, no wonder the players grab the back of their legs. The pain goes from the inside of the knee all the way up to my back. Luckily my excellent physio worked out what was wrong and after two treatments I feel soooo much better. I also have to wear arch supports. This means that my legs and back hurt because my standing muscles are adjusting. Ah, the joy of getting old.

Maxine McKew said, and this is not verbatim, that if you are older and have two of anything, one of them will hurt!!

Hawaiian material dress 2015

I am not very good at taking photos of myself, and those from below using the self-timer are not wonderfully flattering. Here is my new Hawaiian dress. MrsDrWho brought back 2 yards of material from Hawaii and I finally got around to making a dress. There was not enough material so I used it as the border on a skirt made from some irregularly spotted green quilting fabric. It is a good match and better than a plain colour I think. I used my Craftsy Adjust the Bust course to do a FBA and I also took out a wedge at each side of the neck to stop the neck from gaping. It works quite well. I am very pleased with my bodice pattern. It fits so well and I plan to trace it onto something more permanent. There was no chance of a photo without Gilly. She was sure there was something good happening behind the closed hall door and every time I stood there, she ran to the door opening, wagging her tail hopefully.

Oh and I love my new dress, forgot to mention that.

I plan to make my Star Wars dress next and then my Christmas dress. I saw some lovely Christmas dog material and I matched it with some green:

Christmas dress material

and I am using the peplum drape from this Out Of Print pattern. I only have the pattern in the small size, so I will be making a full circle skirt and my normal bodice in the green and the adjusted peplum drape in Christmas Dog.

Christmas dress

I've finally finished MrsDrWho's Birthday socks: I Just Want Your (Kiss) Socks 2015. It is Hundertwasser Opal Kiss in the Rain, and had a beautiful selection and pattern of colours. I knitted my own usual pattern on 2.25mm needles.

I Just Want Your Kiss Socks

Here is Cleo "helping" me with my photo.

Cleo helping with sock photos

Lorelai Gilmore is pottering along nicely. She has had a few special treats, like this bone.

Gilly and the chew bone

And she has had so many sympathy treats that she has put on 2 kilos. Oh dear. She is back on a strict no-sympathy diet. Poor Gilly. She still doesn't quite have the eating-off-the-step idea right!!

Gilly, not quite eating it right

We have had some rain at last, so Gilly is constantly wet, then dried, wet then dried. I don't mind, we walked in the rain this morning. We are catching up on the last season of The Blacklist, so I can watch the current one. I am knitting the Lorne Green cowl (Adama Cowl) for WeeJock&Bessie's mum. It is an interesting cowl that starts with a shawl cast on so the first two sections are back and forth, and then the last two are in the round.

Lorne Greene Cowl started

The MadCages bought Peri a rose, Just Joey, which is a beautiful scented orange rose. I am not putting it in the front garden, as when Harki died and I planted her roses, horrid people stole them. They dug the roses out and took them away. Just yesterday I found that some other horrid people had broken off all Toris' Peace rose blooms and some of Vundy's Mr Lincoln. I am going to try and strike those roses and plant them in the back garden where they are safer. I am very glad that I know so many kind people who ameliorate the effects of the horrid ones.

Peri's rose

Tomorrow, all being well, there will be Friday Food. I have made my version of Coles' White Lamington Cupcakes and they have been very well received!!!

Edited to add: I am playing with my Blog Template. Some people cut their hair after a change in their life, I'm not doing that after all the effort I put into growing out the layers!! Oh and I am very poor at playing with my template even though it is all done for me. Bear with, bear with. (I love Miranda!!)

Mourning Has Broken, Like The First Morning...

Lorelai Gilmore and I are working out our new dynamic: she's doing exceptionally well. We were very touched by the kind emails and comments when Peri died. Thank you.

Peri Naughty brought us so much joy, and it is nice to know The Labradors' antics, and endless pictures, may have amused and entertained others. It is hard to be sad when you have a bouncy and bright Labrador like Gilly. She's always busy doing something and then comes to report about her doings. She's always up for a cuddle, a pat and a rub on the belly. Oh and licking, there is always the licking.

I left Gilly by herself on the very first day because I had to go to The Hospital pharmacy. I have left her every day; I've left her in the car at the deli at the corner (on a cool morning with all the windows open for 2 minutes I hasten to add), I've left her at home in the afternoon and last night until 10pm when I went out to dinner at Mr and Mrs WeeJock&Bessie's. Their house is just along the road, and though I thought about her for the three hours I was away, she was perfectly fine and waiting for me at the gate. Usually she just goes to bed, but it rained and I think she was enjoying the rain.

She's been for a walk all by herself too. And she's had a walk with all of her friends: Jet, Rafa and Sandy.

Gilly's first walk alone

MrsDrWho bought her a huge chew bone. I thought she'd eaten it, then it 'appeared' again. This appearance also explained the sneezing. Gilly had buried the bone in the garden.

Gilly and the bone

Unfortunately, I saw where she buried it and she was not happy. I had to go inside and now I have no idea where the bone is, which is a great comfort and relief to her.

Gilly thinks I want her bone

I also left Gilly alone when I went to visit Auntie Dutch for afternoon tea. I sewed two bags for her birthday. I take such poor photos and unless it is a Labrador, I just take one. So if it is wobbly or hazy, that's the only photo I have. I know things are getting back to normal when I bust out two new shopping bags!!!
Bags for Auntie Dutch

I have sewed two new dresses. The Swirly Lime/Aqua dress needs to have a new hem. I need to undo the very long circle skirt hem and then make a new hem with biased binding, just to get 2cms more length. The Hawaii Dress needs a hem and then a belt of some kind. I am wearing it right now, regardless. Oh, and it needs ironing.

Two new dresses

My Pear Dress, which I made 2 1/2 years ago, has worn out. It has some holes and is not for wearing outside the house any more. I have some Apple material from the same range, so I will be glad to replace it with another fruity dress.


I have been poorly pretty much all the time this year and then Peri was not well and I have not kept up my Book List in the side bar of my blog. I plan to add all the books I have read, and I can, because I take a photo when I return a book to The Library. Three times this year The Library insisted I hadn't returned a book. I knew I had, but had no real proof: Now I do!!! Each time it seems the returned book wasn't scanned properly and when another patron tried to borrow said book, The System has a conniption and they found the 'lost' book. Now I keep track of each book when I return it by taking a photo. It can cost $100 to replace a Library book, so I am being canny and careful.

Library books

The weather is turning summery. The nights are warmer and the days hotter in the afternoon. I think we are heading towards a drought. The rainfall for October was 0.6ml. The lowest recorded rainfall since records have been kept was in 1949, when 9ml fell. It is either El Nino or La Nina.... It's El Nino.

Peri Pumpkin is home now, she lives in a little velvet bag on the mantelpiece with Vundy and Tori, who are in boxes, and Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey, who is in a  little velvet bag too. I got a little teary scrolling through photos looking for books, and suffered a few pangs of emptiness. But on the whole, I am glad she is in Dog and Cat and Other Small Animal Heaven. Her legs won't hurt and she will be able to run and play and eat all the Heavenly food she likes. There will be lots of sleeping in the sun, I imagine, whilst floating on a cloud.

It's Recreation Day tomorrow, where people in The North have our holiday for  The South's Regatta Day. It is a good day to start thinking about Christmas. I've already spotted a little sleigh made from some Nice biscuits and two candy canes. Soooo cute!! I'm making lists and planning my baking and crafting. I hope El Nino stays away during December when we want to bake. All Lorelai Gilmore's friends have gone to their shacks for the weekend, so we'll have a walk by ourselves tomorrow. We walk a little farther to compensate for the extra treats that Gilly has. She's spoiled, but fit!!!