Week 2: Creative Challenge 52
Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has had a frantic week. With her Allaboutwriting hat on, she's had responsibilities with the Parkview Literary Festival and the Jozi Book Fair, along with her usual managerial work to keep the business ticking over successfully. Her former husband fell off his roof while cleaning his gutters. He's injured, but not fatally, thank goodness, and Trish drove her son over to render assistance at the accident scene. It's hard to picture that as a relaxing experience. She's been working through the Ugandan footage that was taken on her documentary trip last week - think Left-Eye Productions. She attended a music theatre performance that the editor working on the documentary was performing in. And she made supper last night for her daughter's new boyfriend. Phew. I'm knackered just thinking about it. And that's before I get to the extraordinary meal she prepared.
She decided - making a virtue of necessity by the sounds of it - to use the supper last night as an opportunity to do something creative, and boy has she succeeded. It was Heritage Day in South Africa this week and she was inspired to adopt an Africaans theme for her creation. As Heritage Day was also National Braai (barbecue) Day, the solution was obvious - the result, however, is certainly not. The new boyfriend, Nate, took up his position at the barbecue, with delicious results. Trish's daughter, Maria, prepared some yummy salads. And Trish produced a virtuosic starter and dessert.
She'd decided upon braaied peaches, using the first peaches of the season, but her green grocer had run out of stock. So she opted, instead, for pineapple. She made a starter consisting of barbecued pineapple, lovage tempura and crème fraîche garnished with chopped pistachio nuts, passion fruit and a drizzling of chilli oil. For dessert she made barbecued pineapple dusted with chilli and ground star anise, served with chocolate ice cream, caramelised chilli walnuts, a dusting of cayenne pepper and star jasmine flowers. Seriously? That makes me hungry! Check out Trish's blog to see more of her amazing cooking adventures.
Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has returned to his home base in Sydney and launched his reno project almost as soon as he walked through the front door. This week's creative contribution is a major bathroom overhaul that he undertook, determined to make the tiny room look less tiny. His bathroom has been bugging him for three years and, with his blood up and his adrenaline pumping, he went off in search of some left over wall paper that he used on a project a few years ago (he's promised to share photos later, just for fun). And...drum roll... he now has a fabulously light, clean, and - above all - almost invisible bathroom cupboard that previously overpowered and dominated the room, sucking out all sense of light and space.
Ever the fashion guru, he's also found time to paint a pair of shoes. Contain your envy. These classy dazzle-dazzlers are a sight to behold - and there's not a sequin in sight. I'd love to see Kanen tap dance in these...
South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has produced an entirely fitting spring masterpiece this week - three magnificent flower bombs. Keryn was a partner in a successful and, as you can see, highly creative floristry business - Bloom by Design - until their premises were sold in the aftermath of the GFC. With the mining boom in Perth sending real estate prices into la-la-land, Keryn and her partner were unable to find new, affordable digs and they both had to go and find other jobs. They think of this business as a plucky Aussie battler because they still get calls for flowers seven years after they closed their doors.
The exciting news is that they've decided to re-brand as an online florist, and Keryn has been creating arrangements to post to her blog to build an online presence before the new shop goes live. Expect to see more of these gorgeous flowers in the coming year. Bring it on is all I can say. They're exquisite.
Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had the sort of week that will make you feel exhausted just reading about it, but she's still managed to churn out an impressive creation.
Telena's husband, Peter, has had a milestone birthday this week (a number ending in zero; Telena, of course, is quite a bit younger) and this was the trigger for a major clean and tidy. Telena reacquainted herself with their vacuum cleaner - hello? remember me? - and much was achieved, including a major re-ordering of her textile studio.
Telena then cooked for 60 people (ugh! I'm having palpitations just thinking about it): 4 pavlovas, 2 chocolate coffee cakes, numerous salads, chicken kebabs, 3 slow cookers of Moroccan lamb, enough rice to feed an army, and 2 large fruit platters.
Having accomplished all of that, Telena still found time to needle felt into the bag she knitted last week. She's felted it in the washing machine today, and here it is, still wet - hot off the press, as it were. Bravo, oh textile goddess!
Singer, guitarist and songwriter, Georgia Bennett, has been right in her element this week. She's spent the past week on work experience at Better Music in Canberra's south. Surrounded by guitars and other musos, she's been as happy as a pig in mud. The guys made her feel very welcome, and she learnt how to repair and maintain her guitars, as well as making herself generally useful wherever she was needed. She received very positive feedback so I gather she made herself as indispensable there as she is here.
It's a tradition, apparently, that the work experience student brings a cake for morning tea on the last day of their placement. Always quick to spot an opportunity, Georgia decided this was a great way to fulfill her creative challenge commitment, while feeding the hordes at the same time. She made the best chocolate brownies that have ever been produced in our kitchen - a triple batch to make sure there were enough to go around - and they'd disappeared before the last arrivals reached the tea room. Having tasted them, I can understand exactly why. It took all my self-discipline to stop at...gulp...three...or maybe it was four. I can't remember now (that was actually a lie).
Stephen Bennett has been an absolute legend this week, creating extra infrastructure to support our urban farming project. He's built two big vegetable beds, along with a bed for Hannah's roses. He's put up wire for our berries, and he's fenced our vegetable plot and orchard to keep the dogs out of mischief. It's been hard, heavy work and you can see more details here. My weekend gardening award goes to Steve. This is a gift that's going to keep on giving.
I've had a mixed media kind of week. My top priority was a jewellery project because it was Hannah's 21st birthday on Saturday and I wanted to make her something special. She's been hankering after a rose quartz ring, so that was at the absolute top of my 'to do' list, and I was just hoping I could do the occasion justice. Hannah's thrilled with the result and it hasn't been off her finger since I gave it to her, so that creative effort has ended happily.
I was determined to do a pastel painting of an image my friend Jackie created. She took a picture of Duke 'Kissing' Casanova (our kissing horse) and added a picture of a white mare wearing an exotic bridal veil - a Casanova getting married theme, if you like. I loved the image and wanted to have a go at recreating it with my pastels. There are lots of things I wish I'd been able to execute better, but I can see that I'm improving and that's encouraging.
I've also spent a lot of time out in the garden, helping where possible with the infrastructure and working to create an abundant summer harvest. See my urban farming blog for details. It might be a day or two before I can move again, but it was worth it.