Grandma takes the biscuit

GemLife Woodend resident baking cookies with grandchild

Baking an abundance of love


“As a mum, if you’re working or simply doing all the mum things, you don’t get the chance to spend as much time with your children as you might wish because everything is on the go,” she says.

“As a grandmother, I have nothing but time, so I can sit on the floor all day playing Barbies with my granddaughters or playing trucks or dinosaurs with my grandsons.”

Barbara and her husband Kent are grandparents to Scarlett, 11; Ziggy, 9; Jack, 6; Miller, 4; Remy who is 18 months and the youngest, Max who is 12 months old.

“I didn’t think I could love anyone as much as I love my two sons, but now my grandchildren really are the loves of my life.”

Barbara is fortunate to see her grandchildren regularly.

“Although I would love to see them more often,” she adds.

Two grandchildren live in Woodend, so she is ideally located for babysitting duties. The other grandchildren she sees every two weeks or so.

“Much to the horror of my daughters-in-law I have a shelf in my walk-in pantry with treats especially for the grandkids,” she said.

“They’ll say, ‘but they’re on a shelf where the children can reach!’. And I tell them that’s the point!”

Another joy in being a grandmother is seeing each child develop their own character traits.

“When Scarlett was small, she would look at me and say, ‘one more (treat)’. Ziggy says, ‘I can have?’. Jack would tell me that he was hungry but what he really wanted was sweets. Miller says, ‘I love you, nonna’. I’m really looking forward to hearing what Remy and Max will come up with.”

‘Nonna’s biscuits’ are legendary, especially the sugar cookies and gingerbread biscuits which are the foundation for the colourful and delightfully whimsical decorated biscuits that featured in The Gem’s May edition.

Barbara hosts biscuit decorating classes for other homeowners in the GemLife Woodend art studio and when the grandchildren come over to visit, baking is one of the popular activities.

“Scarlett loves amaretti biscuits and friands, Ziggy just goes with the flow, Miller is my little sous chef – she’ll tell me, ‘I know what to do, nonna’, while Jack simply has fun and enjoys the icing,” she says.

Most importantly, there is plenty of love and laughter in the Spry home whenever the grandchildren visit.

The grandchildren love spending the school holidays at GemLife Woodend. Jack in particular has a routine whenever he stays.

“It’s a swim in the pool, then a turn in the golf simulator, then its pickleball, ten-pin bowling, and back to our home for a while to do it all over again in the afternoon!” says Barbara.

“GemLife is such a wonderful place to live as well as to entertain the family. We love having the whole family over and when the weather gets a bit warmer, we’ll be holding family barbecues on the deck because there are so many of us.”

Barbara’s Gingerbread Recipe


  • 250g unsalted butter softened 800g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbs ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup golden syrup
  • 1 large egg


  1. Except for the sugars, mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. In a mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add golden syrup and the egg and mix well.
  3. Add the already combined dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
  4. Roll mix between two pieces of baking paper. Roll mixture to about 6mm thick. Cut into shapes using your preferred cookie cutter.
  5. Bake on baking paper in an oven at 170 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes.