Week 44: Creative Challenge 52

Author Scarlet Bennett

I don't often lead with my own stuff, but since so much of my creative output over the past couple of years has come to fruition this week, I thought I'd take a moment to celebrate it - because it's back to work in a serious way tomorrow. Striking Out was released on Tuesday and now the pressure is on for the sequel.

As befits a published author (skip the snippy messages - it's a joke), I even have a black and white publicity photo these day. Crikey! I could almost pass for someone literary. But don't be fooled. My writing contains bad language, earthy humour, and sex. What's not to like about that?

Striking Out is available from all major online retailers in print and e-book, and direct from the publisher (print only). Check out the customer reviews that are coming in on Amazon. Happy to see these!

Striking Out by Scarlet Bennett

I released a suite of online courses for writers and performers on Tuesday. Please check these out and share with people you think might be interested.

Sincere thanks to Lucy Bennett for the awesome banners she made for each course. Lucy has just completed a Masters of Publishing degree at Sydney University, and she's in her final week of an internship at Allen & Unwin. Message me if you need banners, copywriting or professional editing, as Lucy is now accepting free lance work and she does brilliant work.

The video we made to promote my Goodbye Stage Fright course is my contribution for this week. I can't say I'm über-thrilled with my performance on it, but it's the best I can do at this point in time. I've got more videos to make yet, so I'm sure I'll get better as I go. In the meantime, at least I'm wearing awesome jewellery.

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is making a return guest appearance this week.

Things were quiet at the centre where she and Remy have their florist shop last week, so she went looking for some happiness. She found two budgies in a small cage of the back of a pet shop, squeezed between the fish tanks and the fridge, with only a single neon strip for lighting. She didn't go looking for birds. She just wanted to look at fish, pets - anything but the empty courtyard at the Emporium.

These were the only birds in the shop and because Keryn has a general aversion to birds in cages, it took her another three trips to the shop that afternoon to decide that she could give them a better life and at least surround them with flowers.  Once they were installed at the shop in their temporary quarters, a normal birdcage, Keryn went looking for something bigger.  She found this old cage on Gumtree. It's at least 4 times bigger than their temporary home, and she and Remy spent the week turning it into a Parisienne apartment. Ooh la la!

Keryn's bird cage

The birds are loving their new home in the sunshine. Keryn wheels them into the shop every night, where they settle down quite happily. They love their new life, and if the kissing is anything to go by, they love each other too. In fact, Keryn has been told by enthralled passers by that she needs to get a nesting box. Keryn loves listening to them chirp and fly around their new home, and these lovely new friends have outperformed expectations on the 'bestowing happiness' measure.

Keryn's budgies

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is back teaching again, with student exams looming, so she's had less time to play around in her studio this past week. Nevertheless, she altered the pattern for her hanging nest and felted one using a wool batt. These are similar to the batts used to insulate ceilings, except they're made of fleece. The wool fibres are coarse and coloured, so they don't need dyeing. Telena laid two layers out at right angles to each other around the resist, then felted strongly to create a dense felt. She likes the way it turned out, but thinks she'll make further modifications next time.

Telena's felt bird's nest

Telena also undertook the tough job, this week, of further culling her wool collection, as she thinks she has enough for two lifetimes. She's had real trouble with this and she thinks a trip to woolaholics anonymous may be in order. On the plus side, she was able to give some wool to her mum, who was delighted. Telena did a fun arrangement on her dining table to commemorate this poignant parting of ways.

Telena's wool collection

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has a stylised, gothic makeover and an opening night to contribute this week.

It was the opening of Sweeney Todd last night, and Kanen delivered 'a scene stealing act as the Beadle' - check out today's review in the Sydney Morning Herald (sorry, Kanen, when I stumble across a review like this, of course I'm going to share).

Kanen says he was as anxious, terrified and self-doubting as he's ever been, but he managed to pull himself together, breathe deeply and apply the brakes on rapidly approaching hysteria, which was an incredibly creative act in itself.

Kanen did his own make-up for this show, and even in this photo you can see that he nailed it. He says he'll have some close-up photos to show us next week. Bring it on.

Kanen Breen as the Beadle

Trish Urquhart

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 been producing delicacies left, right and centre this week and, even better, she's sharing some of her recipes. Trish made togarashi peaches and cherry jam, and now you, too, can share the joy.

Trish's Togarashi Peaches

Take four peaches, halve and stone them. Place in a baking pan. Mix together a teaspoon of togarashi seasoning, a teaspoon of vanilla paste and a tablespoon or two of honey. Drizzle this over the peaches. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped Brazil nuts. Add a splash of water to the pan and bake at a high temperature until nicely browned, adding a little more water if needed. You want some sauce to form in the pan. Serve with Greek yoghurt.

Trish's togarashi peaches

Trish's Cherry Jam

Trish's cherry jam

Weigh the cherries and add 1/3 of their weight in sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of whisky and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Cook in a frying pan until the cherries are thick and jammy, and then pour them into a sterilised jar.

Cherry jam is delicious with cheese on oatcakes, on oat porridge, and with fried haloumi.

Trish's cherry jam

Check out Trish's fabulous food blog to see more of her wonderful food adventures.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett decided to spruce up his music computer area with a custom made rack for various electronic items this week.

He can now organize his toys in a more compact and functional manner, and he's quite chuffed with the result. See the before and after shots.

Also, he did it all for nothing. All the bits he used had been previously clogging up the garage.

You've gotta love a good salvage operation.