Week 1: Creative Challenge 52

The Creative Challenge 52 team is introducing a new member this week, just in time for the first blog of our year-long challenge. South-African born writer, Keryn Clark, has kicked off with some delicious home-baked treats accompanied by a watercolour painting, no less. Way to make a great first impression!

Keryn's candied lemon cake and lemon cupcakes, complete with watercolour still life

Keryn's candied lemon cake and lemon cupcakes, complete with watercolour still life

Keryn embarked on a year-long baking project late last year - 52 cakes - but ran out of steam part way. Our Creative Challenge 52 has reignited her enthusiasm and she's donned her apron, fired her oven, and is hard at it in the kitchen again, to rapturous applause from happy beneficiaries, I'm sure. Her cakes of this week have featured lemons from the tree in her garden, but she's threatening to also get creative with flowers and more painting in the year to come. Bring it on, I say. And could you please ship some of those delicious cakes to Canberra?

Cakes, cakes, lovely cakes

Cakes, cakes, lovely cakes

Kanen's lampshade: An interior view

Kanen's lampshade: An interior view

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been in transit from Brisbane to his home in Sydney today, but that hasn't hampered his creativity in the slightest. Instead, he's almost outdone himself with this creation.

He bought a couple of pictures of Mary and baby Jesus in Fortitude Valley, but you'll never guess what he's done with them. Not even if I give you a dozen guesses. He's called this creation his irreverently ironic religious lampshade, with holographic dual Mary and Jesus on the outside and red glitter on the inside. The lampshade was a plain black Target purchase that came with a mirrored lamp base. See what I mean? It's just not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about what you could create with some religious pictures. As it happens, I have a plain white lampshade that I'm not terribly enthusiastic about. I'm looking at it now with a whole new sense of possibility. I'm not sure that Kanen Breen is an entirely good influence.

Mary and Jesus, as never seen before

Mary and Jesus, as never seen before

Trish's detoxifying mint tea

Trish's detoxifying mint tea

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions and tries her best to live up the title chef extraordinaire, has spent most of the past week in Kampala, Uganda, producing a documentary about refugees. She returned home to find her garden looking glorious, and decided to focus her creative attention on her photography skills with an early morning trip to the garden today to photograph both the beautiful spring blooms in her flower bed and the vegetables flourishing behind. She was planning to use the exercise as an opportunity to think about what she could cook with her home-grown produce in the coming weeks.

Alas, her garden was devastated by a fierce hail storm overnight, and when she ventured out this morning, she was greeted by pummeled plants and shredded leaves. Unbeaten, she picked up the battered mint leaves that still looked useable, and made the Detoxifying Mint Tea that she's been eyeing at 101 Cookbooks. She used all the ingredients suggested, but in wildly different proportions. The result looks extraordinary and I hear it tastes as good as it looks. Hardly a surprise with Trish Urquhart at the helm. Check out her blog to see more of her exciting cooking adventures.

Mint tea in progress

Mint tea in progress

Battered Swiss chard - not quite the image Trish had in mind

Battered Swiss chard - not quite the image Trish had in mind

A bag that Telena has completed in the past to show us what she's working towards.

A bag that Telena has completed in the past to show us what she's working towards.

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had a busy week teaching, examining and performing, leaving her textile studio deserted. Aside from her musical activities, her creativity this week has all needed to meet a 'portability' criterion, since she's been working away from home. Never one to waste an opportunity, she's been busy with her knitting needles creating knitted bags that she can later turn into felt.

She's been knitting with 100% wool that she knows will shrink, and she's started to needle felt fleece into the finished knitted bags. The next step - once she's finished the needling - involves felting the bags in a hot wash in the washing machine until they shrink to the desired size.

Telena is a keen knitter. When she's too tired to knit anything complex, she knits squares to turn into blankets for Wrap with Love. She's made quite a few blankets now and she loves being part of such a wonderful group. I'm sure the feeling is entirely mutual.

This week's knitted bags, along with some squares for Wrap with Love. Who's been a busy knitter, then?

This week's knitted bags, along with some squares for Wrap with Love. Who's been a busy knitter, then?

Georgia's first dress

Georgia's first dress

Singer/songwriter Georgia Bennett is always a hive of industry, and this week has been no exception. She's taken the first steps towards learning to sew, by downloading some free patterns online, and cutting out her first dress. This dress - in a vibrant turquoise blue that will look absolutely lovely on her - looks fairly straightforward to make, and she plans to start sewing in a week's time when she's on holidays.

As if that weren't enough, she also cooked a fabulous vegan meal this week, comprised of all-new recipes. She made vegan meatballs using textured vegetable protein and served them with sweet chilli sauce - delicious. They were accompanied by a noodle salad with a divine peanut sauce. This salad will definitely become a family staple. And, to top it all off, she made a dark chocolate pie with warm strawberry sauce. I've declared this pie our new festive favourite for use on special family occasions. It was quite extraordinary.

Georgia's vegan meatballs and noodle salad

Georgia's vegan meatballs and noodle salad

Georgia's chocolate pie with warm strawberry sauce

Georgia's chocolate pie with warm strawberry sauce

Stephen Bennett has been an absolute stalwart in our garden this week, creating some new infrastructure to support our urban farming project. He's been digging holes and setting uprights in concrete in preparation for the fencing he plans to do in the coming week. He's creating extra space for our vegetable garden, and also a barrier to keep the dogs out of the vegies and orchard. There's more infrastructure to come, so you can expect to see more of this in the next few weeks.

Steve's fencing project

Steve's fencing project

Grand Pacific Hotel, Coogee

Grand Pacific Hotel, Coogee

As if that hadn't won him my gratitude gong, he went to Sydney on the weekend to help our eldest daughter move house. He's been lugging furniture up and down stairs for the past few days (ably assisted by our two youngest), but he managed to find time for a spot of photography when he took Georgia and Henry to Coogee beach on the way home to Canberra. He took full advantage of the photographic opportunity.

Coogee surf club

Coogee surf club

Coogee Beach Panoramic

Coogee Beach Panoramic

Smoky quartz, sterling silver and copper

Smoky quartz, sterling silver and copper

I've got a list of jewellery making projects that I'm gradually working my way through at the moment. I made a couple of pendants over the past week - one with a gorgeous black onyx stone and the other with a soft, yet vibrant, green aventurine. Both are gifts for very special people, so I'm happy they turned out so well.

Green aventurine and sterling silver pendant

Green aventurine and sterling silver pendant

I made a cuff with a beautiful smoky quartz stone during our 30 day Creative Challenge and it's gone off to a very fine home, together with the black onyx pendant. I've included it even though I didn't make it this week because Steve did such an awesome job of the photo before I shipped my gift. How creative is his composition? He's used the stainless steel shot I use in my tumbler as a background. I love it.

I've been busy in my garden, as promised, and you can see how our urban farming project is coming along here.

Black onyx and sterling silver pendant

Black onyx and sterling silver pendant