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Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

We had a morning tea at work this week, to farewell one of our longest-serving staff members.  For twenty three years TM has worked diligently and cheerfully, always going the extra mile and making sure everything and everyone is organised and looked after.  I have only been at the organisation for just over three years, but in that time she has been such a support to me and I will miss her terribly.  I don’t even want to think about her not being there when I arrive in the mornings.  The place will seem very empty without her presence – even on the days she’s not there, she’s still THERE, you know?

So, as is mandatory for all morning teas, cakes, biscuits, quiches and slices were baked and brought in for everyone to share.  I made my Date & Almond Slice, and also tried a new recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, which I hadn’t made before.  They turned out really well.  Very moist and moreish and easy to make.  Everyone enjoyed them so I am glad I tried something new, and will make them again.  I tend to make things I shouldn’t really eat (ie things with chocolate or nuts in) – my theory being that I won’t indulge too much myself.  This is a fallacy.  I eat half the batter before it even goes in the tin and then keep taste-testing the baked product.  Pathetic.  I’m sure my kidneys hate me.

Anyway, the brownies were delicious – I did modify the original recipe slightly as I felt it had too much sugar in it (I left out about a 1/3 cup from the chocolate batter, but I am giving you the original amounts here).  The recipe comes from Baking Bites – a lovely foody blog with lots of yummy recipes, baking advice, kitchen gadgets and more.
Please do visit their site – you’ll find lots of inspiration 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

Brownie Batter
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Batter
8-oz ricotta cheese (I used smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with baking paper.
Prepare brownie batter: In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until well-incorporated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in flour and salt, mixing until ingredients are just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and set aside.

Prepare cheesecake batter: In a medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A sharp knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into small squares (or large squares if you’re a piggy ha ha)

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Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Enjoy!

And to TM, I say a fond farewell – you will be missed more than I can say x

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Magazine Scrap Cards

Over the last week I have been, among other things, house and dog sitting for a friend.  It’s always hard to do crafting at someone else’s house; you don’t have your stuff there (or enough of it) and it’s not your usual space/routine/cup-of-tea-making-area.  Plus I had two very boisterous dogs to attend to, who did not particularly like me sitting there quietly, ignoring them. At one point, a dog toy came hurtling at me across the table – talk about dropping not-so-subtle hints!

I decided to just bring a very small amount of crafting supplies with me – just glue, scissors, card blanks and mounting tape, plus some old magazines.  I wanted to make some very simple cards for my own personal use and didn’t want to spend too much time agonising over their design.  I went through my magazines (in this instance I used old Frankie magazines – they have that lovely matt-finish paper and lots of pretty images and patterns) and cut out pictures and background designs, text and phrases.

I glued some images to card and cut them out, so I could make them stand out a bit more when mounted on the backing card.  I worked quickly and non-fussily.  It was actually really good fun and freeing – no pressure to make something sale-worthy and I just made designs that I liked myself.  It was easy to make some very cute cards in a short space of time, with limited supplies. It was a great exercise in “just doing”.

First up, a slightly spooky looking deer…

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…and an imperfect gentleman…

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…some good-looking ladies…

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…and a squirrel ready to party (I particularly like his fez!)

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So, just a simple exercise in making do with what you have and creating for the sake of creating, and enjoying some free arty time. Give it a go next time you’re feeling overwhelmed (possibly by your own craft supplies!) or needing to just try something new and simple and satisfying.  It can be a great way to refocus and get back to your self.

Have a lovely week, everyone x

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Easter Treats

Just an extremely quick quickie post today, showing you what I made for my workmates for Easter.  I wanted to photograph it nicely and make things look all prettified and classy…but that didn’t happen, so here’s a picture of the little baggies I made, sitting
un-artistically on a colleague’s desk.

I bundled up little bags of chocolate-covered peanuts (“Bunny Poo”) and some Easter eggs (“Bum Buts” – an Aussie slang term for eggs), made up a little label and bunged it all together in a white paper bag.  Not fancy, but I think it was cute enough.

Hope you have a delightful Easter weekend, regardless of your religion and beliefs.
I, for one, am just looking forward to some days off and time at home.  It’s supposed to be a bit cool and murky, weather-wise, so time spent snuggled up inside sounds good to me, even if I am bemoaning the start of the colder weather and already wishing it was Summer again.  Hopefully I will get some crafting done and just chill, de-stress and rest.  I foresee some sleeping-in in my very near future ie tomorrow, most likely.

Eat lots of chocolate for me!

🙂

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Muesli Biscuits

I am a bit of a cereal nut.  I loves me some cereal, any time of day or night.  It is a good standby when the cupboard is otherwise bare and you need something to eat, whether it be for dinner or lunch or, obviously, breakfast.  This week I thought I would branch out of my usual Cheerios or porridge routine and get some muesli.  I chose a low fat one, thinking it would at least be less likely to adhere directly to my thighs.  Alas, it probably contained enough sugar to give half the world diabetes and actually didn’t taste all that good.  So, what to do with a box of muesli you don’t actually want to eat?  Make cookies out of it, of course.  Everything is better if it is cookie-shaped, after all.

So, here is a simple recipe for using up that crummy muesli you don’t like.  I gave these to my little nephews and nieces on the weekend and they gobbled them up.  To be fair, they are not the fussiest of eaters but, still, they ate these happily – even the little one (who is two and very, very aware of what she does and DOES NOT like).

Muesli Biscuits

3 cups muesli
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons flax seed meal (optional)
100g butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 C

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix butter, honey and egg together until combined.

Mix dry and wet ingredients together.  Set aside for 10 minutes or so.

Roll spoonfuls of mixture together into golfball-sized balls.

Place on baking paper-lined trays and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15-20 mins.  If you have used two trays, swap them around midway through cooking so they bake evenly.

Cool for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack.
If you like, drizzle with a little bit of lemon icing (or leave plain).

That’s pretty much it.  They’re not beauty queens, these bikkies, but they taste alright and they’re a good fibre-rich treat to pop in lunch boxes etc.  You can almost pretend they’re healthy.  Sort of.  And at least you haven’t wasted your muesli! 🙂

Happy Munching x

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Bright Lights…

Bright Lights…

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.  Actually, it does – I’m a miserable bugger – but small things do mean a lot to me.  One thing I think makes everything better, without fail, is fairy lights.  It is fair to say I would put them on everything if I could.  They’re twinkly and pretty – what’s not to love?

This weekend, when I was supposed to be cleaning up for rent inspection, I took some time out to add some fairy lights to my bathroom mirror.  As you do.  I had picked up these lights in the pre-Christmas sales and they were super cheap.  I don’t have a big Christmas tree or anywhere else really suitable for a large string of lights (I had considered over my bed head, but had visions of me entangled in them while I slept so put that idea on the back burner), plus these were plug-in ones, not battery operated, so they needed to be near a power source.  I also got some little adhesive hooks to attach the lights to.  I am fully expecting these to fall off in the near future, but we’ll wait and see…

So, an hour and a half later and a few scary minutes teetering on a chair in the bathroom, I had a lovely, sparkly and bright extravaganza around my mirror.  So pretty.  Makes me almost believe I am pretty and sparkly and bright too.  Well, let’s not get carried away…there’s only so much good lighting can do, after all!  But they’re fun and make my bathroom seem a little less pedestrian and unisex.  The only annoying thing is the settings keep resetting themselves each time I turn the lights off.  So I have to re-do the setting each time – otherwise I get an epileptic-fit-inducing strobe effect happening.  I just want them on static – no flickering or strobing, thank you.  This is not a disco.

Anyway, finally a project I completed and am happy with.  I am trying to get around to doing these little things around the house, instead of sitting on the idea for years, until I no longer want to do it.  For a mere $7.50 and a little bit of time and effort, I have prettied up my bathroom and made it look like I give a damn.  Next up – painting my coffee table and doll house!  Stay tuned!  (you might have to get comfortable…) 🙂

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Clay Tags

Clay Tags

I have been cleaning and tidying all day today due to having yet another rent inspection tomorrow.  I was hoping to be tidied up before today but, with the Christmas festivities and then New Year and my general procrastination, I didn’t get really stuck in until today.  I have to go back to work tomorrow (sigh) as well so it’s kind of a double-whammy of getting-my-act-together-ness.

Whilst tidying up, it is a general habit of mine to get distracted by anything and everything.  Mostly, I get distracted by my own stuff.  I find things I had forgotten about – unfinished projects, supplies I never put away, bits and pieces that are supposed to be part of something but never made it that far.  Today I found, amongst other things, these clay tags I had been making MONTHS ago to put on Christmas presents.

They’re just made from air-dry clay, rolled out fairly thick (to prevent breakage), pierced with a skewer, allowed to dry out and then stamped on with various phrases and sentiments.  Easy-peasy.  Now if only I had remembered to use them 🙂

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Worried that I will forget them again, I put one of them on the outside of the basket I have stowed them in – as a visual clue to what’s inside.  There’s not telling if that will actually help me remember…I could stamp “do the dishes” on my forehead and I probably wouldn’t remember to do them, so there’s no guaranteeing this will help me in this instance either.  But here’s hoping, I guess.

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So, I am aching and tired and over the whole cleaning scenario.  I even weeded the garden and did ironing today (!) so my body is basically going “what the hell???”  and hurting left, right and centre.  My feet are confused, due to me being on them all day, too.  Being tidy – it’s not good for you.  I think it is actually a health hazard 🙂

Hope you’ve had a productive day x

Fingerprint Reindeers

Fingerprint Reindeers

Earlier in the week, I was ranting about being unorganised for Christmas and panicking about not having time to get any cards made.  I wanted to have handmade cards but needed a super quick design that I could get done in an evening and make multiples at once.  Solution : these adorable little reindeer cards made with fingerprints.

That’s right – fingerprints.  So easy.  A little messy, yes, and don’t do what I did and use archival ink that doesn’t wash off (brown fingertips – so attractive), but really easy and quick and surprisingly effective.  I’d like to be able to take credit for them, but I nicked the idea from cards I had seen on the internet.  If you search “fingerprint reindeer cards”, you’ll get about a bazillion hits.  There’s lots of different designs and ways of making the deers – just choose the one that appeals to you.

It’s basically just two fingerprints for each reindeer – one for the head and slightly larger one for the body (I used my ring finger and index finger) – and then a few details added with marker pens.  SO SIMPLE.  And freaking adorable.  Each little guy has a different expression or attitude.  I added a scarf here and there as well as a heart over their heads.  I made about 25 of them in under two hours.  And then made another 2o the following evening. Let’s remember that I normally can’t even make one card in two hours normally.  So these little gems are a lifesaver for me and will take some of the stress and panic out of my pre-Christmas chaos.  I’m kinda in love with them.

So, give them a try and have lots of fun making a mess.  I certainly did 🙂

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