Filtering by Category: 30 day Creative Challenge

Day 30: Creative Challenge

Having threatened to go out on a whimper instead of a bang, opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen has had a startling return to form today. He's been eyeing his unsuspecting and beloved boots with a glittery eye for some time, fantasising about gold sparkly boot caps. The problem was, he could never bring himself to be so radical and permanent with a boot that has served him so well and that suits so many occasions in its current, unadulterated form. Cue his Warhol costume, which has elasticated sparkly arm bands that go under a jacket and are never seen. He was so sad at this prospect, that he wore them on his orange boots instead of under his jacket - and a genius and temporary transformational idea was born. Off to Lincraft he went. Two lengths of black elastic, some glue and sequins later, and a cheap as chips make-over has come to pass. Knock 'em dead, cowboy.

 Kanen's boot innovation

Kanen's boot innovation

 Trish's carrot, coconut milk, passion fruit and lime smoothie

Trish's carrot, coconut milk, passion fruit and lime smoothie

The creative challenge team's cooking guru, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, was awake in bed last night plotting a celebratory offering for the final day of our creative challenge. Given that her culinary creations are usually consumed at breakfast on account of the time difference between Canberra and Johannesburg, she ruled out sparkling wine with lavender or black pepper syrup. Even creatives have to draw the line somewhere.

After much deliberation and having decided she absolutely had to use ingredients she had on hand, she decided on a selection of celebratory juices. Celebration of not, I'd be ecstatic to get any one of these for my breakfast. Feast your eyes on her rose and cardamom scented lassi, coloured with the juice of a beetroot and spiked with lavender syrup. Join me in drooling over her carrot, coconut milk, passion fruit and lime smoothie. Or win the health award of the day with her green juice made with lettuce, Swiss chard, mint, ginger, lemon, clementine, and pink grapefruit. Now these are my kind of cocktails. Cheers!

For more exciting food adventures, check out Trish's blog.

 Trish's breakfast cocktails

Trish's breakfast cocktails

 Steve's microphone and music - all ready to go

Steve's microphone and music - all ready to go

Stephen Bennett has been channeling his inner beast today, planning a creative contribution that he knew would delight me. I've long been at him to record some of my favourites out of all the things he's sung over the years, and he thought he'd ease into it by recording a music theatre piece (from Beauty and The Beast) that one of his students has been working on. This is a radical repertoire departure for him because his background is entirely classical and, although opera companies quite often put on music theatre productions, Steve's never been involved in them. Mozart, Bach, Handel and Schubert have been his core composers.

Anyway, when I left for a meeting this afternoon, he'd arranged himself in our living room with his very basic recording equipment and he was about to launch into action. This is the result - an absolutely stunning effort given the inadequacy of our recording equipment and technology. This is going to be awesome. I have my recording 'to do' list at hand and I'm all set to keep him very busy indeed.

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been busy responding to a commission. She displayed one of her exquisite scarves recently, at an exhibition of the North Shore Craft Group (their spring exhibition is on this coming weekend at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden) and picked up a commission from a visitor who just loved what she'd made.

There's a lesson for all of us in this. The lady who commissioned the scarf had walked past Telena's display early, spotted the scarf, and then wandered off to enjoy the rest of the exhibition. When she came back to buy the scarf, she found that someone else had beaten her to it. Don't you hate it when that happens? It all ended well, of course. Telena made a custom scarf, just for her, in her favourite colours and with added length because she was very tall. All's well that ends well.

 Telena's gorgeous scarf: Before and after

Telena's gorgeous scarf: Before and after

 Scarlet's Tiger's Eye Pendant

Scarlet's Tiger's Eye Pendant

Like the rest of the creative challenge team, I wanted to make something special to mark the end of our 30 day challenge. I have a friend who's going through a painful separation at the moment, so I decided to make a pendant for her featuring her favourite gemstone - tiger's eye. The stone itself is absolute exquisite. It has texture that looks like animal fur and radiant golden highlights that change depending on the angle and the light. My friend is going to love this piece.

I also thought I'd report on the progress of the seeds I propagated on day 20. They're shooting out of their trays and will soon need either planting out or transplanting. There's still the ever-present threat of frost to contend with, but it's looking good for my organic vegetable crop this year.

And finally, a word of thanks to my partners in crime. The 30 day challenge has been a wonderful adventure which owes much to my traveling companions. Thanks for all the inspiration, fun and laughter. It's been beyond awesome.

 Scarlet's early season seedlings

Scarlet's early season seedlings

Day 29: Creative Challenge

I'm ridiculously proud of today's contribution. Introducing...drum roll...my first complete pastel painting of a horse - with absolutely no photo editing whatsover. What you see is exactly what I drew. I started work on it yesterday, after I finished making the black onyx cuff, and I'd never have finished otherwise. It's been a real two-day labour of love. I really can't believe how much I've improved over the course of this 30 day creative challenge. When I posted my first horse drawing on day 2 - the first drawing I've done of anything since I was about 10 - I said 'I can't draw', and it was true. If today's pastel painting proves anything at all, it's the merit of trying something new. I've still got a long way to go, but 29 days, half a dozen drawings, a couple of You Tube tutorials and I go from completely inept to this? It's insane. The force - scratch that - the horse was definitely with me these past few days.

 Scarlet's pastel painting of a horse

Scarlet's pastel painting of a horse

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, absolutely loves playing with colour, and she's held her passion at bay for long enough to create this remarkable cream wrap - sacrificing colour for understated elegance and simplicity - for the Spring Exhibition of the North Shore Craft Group, which is on at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden in St Ives this coming weekend.

She says there are real challenges involved when making lace felt, and the garment certainly screams 'complex'. You have to be careful not to overstretch the wet fleece, apparently, in case it becomes too thin or rips. Delicate as it is in transit, once felted, the fabric is very strong. Telena loves watching the merino wool roving, which looks like long fat ropes of cotton wool, as it transforms into her beautiful finished garments.

She swears she did her oboe practice before indulging herself today. The question is, do we actually believe her?

 Telena's cream lace wrap

Telena's cream lace wrap

KanensBookBefore

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, claims to be approaching the finishing line of our 30 day creative challenge with more of a whimper than a bang. He's had a full working day in the theatre today, with no access to his sequins or glitter. Quelle disastre!

Even so, he wins the gong for the strangest contribution today (since he's officially known as a strange bedfellow, I can surely say that without causing offence). He found a book by Joan Collins in the drawer of his dressing room, and he turned it into an impromptu decoration to brighten the space he's sharing with Abraham Lincoln (Warhol and Lincoln together at last, he said). If this makes no sense, it may help you to know that Kanen is in Brisbane at the moment, playing the role of Warhol in a Philip Glass opera about the last days of Walt Disney.

Always the entertainer, Kanen says his contribution today fits his particular creative niche of annoying and repetitive, finally unfolding into fabulosity. Ah! If only he knew how much we love his funny ways.

It has to be said, Abraham Lincoln must have done a serious double take when he found this creative offering in his dressing room. What the...?

 Kanen's interior design talking piece

Kanen's interior design talking piece

Cooking maestro, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has recently found herself with a surplus of exotic curds on her hands (see her blog, A Collection of Curds, for the fascinating details of her curd obsession). On the lookout for new ways to serve her curds, she made these versatile oatcakes. They're delicious on their own with the curd, even more delicious with goats milk cheese and curd, and utterly irresistible with curd and creme fraiche. She served her creations with a choice of either tea or single malt whiskey. High tea never looked so good.

 Trish's oatcakes

Trish's oatcakes

Stephen Bennett had two photos that he ran out of time to frame on day 13, when he had a veritable framing marathon. He didn't have quite the right frames for the prints, just a couple of blonde timber frames that he didn't much like. So he stained the frames today using Western Australian Jarrah stain, to please his Western Australian wife. Then he added a few coats of varnish and framed the prints. All in a day's work for this versatile creative.

 Steve's renovated frames and framed prints

Steve's renovated frames and framed prints

Day 28: Creative Challenge

TelenaBlackandWhiteJacket

With the finishing line of the 30 day challenge in sight, the creative challenge team has welcomed a new member today. Telena Allport Routh, classical oboist and textile designer, has been creating extraordinary garments with hand made felt, and she's made a few pieces to share with us over the next few days.

She made this gorgeous black and white waistcoat from nuno felt, which is a combination of silk and fleece. How lovely! She laid the silk on top of a pre-felt base to make this stunning creation. And isn't it gorgeous?

If that hasn't whetted your appetite for Telena's creations, check out her spiral wrap, below.

But goodness sake don't let her anywhere near your pullovers, because they may never be the same again. If inspiration strikes, she may decide to lay them out and then roll and rub them with soap and water until they turn into something that looks and feels remarkably like...felt.

 

 Telena's spiral wrap

Telena's spiral wrap

 Trish's lavender shortbread

Trish's lavender shortbread

Cooking legend, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has been baking up a storm today. Inspired by the lavender syrup she made on day 16, and needing to find a way to use the syrup that was left over from her dinner party, she decided to make some lavender shortbread.

She's never made good shortbread, she said (are you laughing as hard as I am? She really must taste mine), so she spent some time researching shortbread recipes on the internet. She decided, in the end, upon Marmaduke Scarlet's recipe, to which she added a splash of her very special lavender syrup and some dried lavender that a friend bought from Lavender Fields in the UK. She served her lavender shortbread for breakfast this morning with some chamomile tea that she spiked with lavender syrup. What a way to start a Sunday. You can see more of Trish's cooking adventures on her fascinating food blog.

 Trish's lavender syrup and lavender shortbread

Trish's lavender syrup and lavender shortbread

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been doing some creative problem solving rather than creative handiwork today. With co-strange bedfellow, Jacqui Dark, and two year old Xander visiting, he's had to get unusually creative with the bathroom in his serviced apartment. Xander is particularly attached to a nightly bathtub soak with his trains and cars, but Kanen's serviced apartment only has a shower. Disaster? Not with Kanen on the job! $12 über-creative dollars later, and they now have a shower recess bath that Cleopatra herself might envy. Like all Kanen's creations, this one is bright and colourful. Xander will love it, and if Kanen gets the urge to bathe himself in milk and sequins, well, who's going to stop him?

 Kanen's bath: An exercise in creative problem solving

Kanen's bath: An exercise in creative problem solving

Stephen Bennett has been a very busy composer today. He's written a piece for guitar and percussion, based around a chordal progression that he came up with on his guitar, with a melody for tuned percussion devised to fit over the relentless semiquavers. He added a couple of un-tuned percussion instruments and an organ drone to round out the sound. He's had a very happy time and has been completely off the radar all day. Hello? Hello? Anyone home?

 Steve's Effluvium composition with themed photo to match

Steve's Effluvium composition with themed photo to match

Our eldest daughter, Lucy, is doing a Master of Publishing degree at Sydney Uni, having finished her Classics degree (Ancient Greek, Latin and Ancient History) last year. Like most uni students, she dresses very casually. If I was to put money on her wearing jeans with some kind of black top on any given day, I'd probably come out of the wager pretty well.

I wanted to make Lucy a signature piece that she could wear with anything in her wardrobe and dress up or down, depending upon the occasion. The result? This classic cuff with a brushed sterling silver finish, bonded to copper, and a 20mm black onyx focal piece. She's going to absolutely love it.

 Lucy's black onyx cuff

Lucy's black onyx cuff

Day 27: Creative Challenge

TrishsBeetrootCurd

Our resident cooking guru, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has outdone herself again today. Flush with her successful garment transformation yesterday, she's been busy in her kitchen creating an innovative new curd - beetroot, citrus and thyme.

To make the curd, she juiced about 5 beetroots from her garden (with the stalks, but not the leaves), 3 smallish oranges, 4 clementines, and 3 lemons. She reduced this by half according to the 101 Cookbooks method, boiling it with a small bunch of thyme and the rind of a lemon. She cooked the curd to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, because she thought a previous curd, cooked to 165, wasn't quite thick enough.

Here's today's mouth-watering curd, served for breakfast on an oat biscuit with feta cheese, black pepper and lemon rind. Trish thinks the curd would be great with any goats milk cheese, maybe on a little puff pastry or in goats cheese tarts. If this has whetted your appetite (and how could it not?), check out Trish's food blog for more of her exotic creations.

 Trish's beetroot, citrus and thyme curd

Trish's beetroot, citrus and thyme curd

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen 'Gok' Breen, has been busy creating accessories for his spectacular wardrobe again. He beat a well worn path to Specsavers today, exited via Priceline, and terminated his journey at his chintzy little craft table, all revved up and ready to create. Having made a gorgeous pair of sky blue glasses on day 18, he's made a lovely little pair of pink ones today to match the shirts he dyed on day 11. Who would have thought that a bottle of nail varnish could be put to such creative use? It puts a whole new slant on the old rose coloured glasses phenomenon.

 Kanen's rose coloured glasses

Kanen's rose coloured glasses

Stephen Bennett has created another micromusic composition today. He's based this short piano piece on eighth notes, using 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8 and 7/8 variously throughout. This was to create a lopsided effect with his um-papa bass line. He says the piece reminds him of a clunky old piece of unsafe machinery - a ferris wheel, for example - going around and around in circles. He's made a composite of some photos he took in Melbourne to visually represent that theme.

 Steve's ferris wheel composite

Steve's ferris wheel composite

It's been days now since I've tried to draw a horse and I decided today was the day to remedy that. I enjoyed myself enormously and I was glad to be back in the saddle (pardon the pun), but I can't say that it's my best horse drawing. I may have peaked early with the drawing I did of Mister Mo on day 16, which is my favourite so far. Still, my skills with pastels are improving and, for a beginner, I've been having a pretty good trot (sorry - it was too good an opportunity to pass up). I've done all the colour blending in this picture with my pastels and that's a positive technical development. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm definitely improving.

 Scarlet's horse drawing

Scarlet's horse drawing

Day 26: Creative Challenge

Unbeknownst to each other, the creative challenge team has generated a textiles theme today. Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has finished his opening night masterpiece and it's an absolute stunner. I defy anyone to look better dressed that Kanen in this marvellous jacket. It came at a cost, of course - sewing endless seed beads and sequins is not for the faint hearted - and Kanen summarised the result thus: La Commedia è finita. I'm assuming that, three days and sore fingers later, he means a black comedy.

 Kanen's extraordinary opening night jacket

Kanen's extraordinary opening night jacket

Our resident cooking guru, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire (succeeding admirably - check out her food blog here), has really branched out today. She even took herself by surprise with this one.

A friend popped in yesterday and while they were chatting, she noticed the stunning grey wool felt sleeveless jacket her friend was wearing. It had been made, apparently, by an artist friend (contain your envy, Kanen Breen). When Trish exclaimed at its beauty, her friend whipped it off and said - 'Look. It's made in one piece. No seams, just holes cut for the arms.' Trish knew immediately that she had to copy it. She ripped down some flip chart paper and traced the shape. Then she remembered a boiled wool dress in her wardrobe that she'd been thinking of turning into some sort of jacket. Ten minutes later, she was the owner of a new sleeveless wool jacket. It has a seam down the back, admittedly, but it's gorgeous. Trish is going to be turning heads in this wonderful creation. There's real competition on the creative challenge runway tonight.

 Trish's gorgeous boiled wool jacket

Trish's gorgeous boiled wool jacket

Alas, that's where the runway competition ends. You may remember that, inspired by Kanen Breen's stunning work with fabric dye, I reported my not-so-stunning misadventures on day 22, when I managed to turn some perfectly good shirts a ghastly shade of mauve. My Lincraft dye order arrived in yesterday's post, so I rectified the damage today, transforming my mauve monstrosities into unglamorous, but serviceable, black tops. There's no razzle or dazzle on display here, but the tops can now, at least, be worn. And I shouldn't have any trouble rustling up some eye catching jewellery to brighten things up a bit. I don't think my creative efforts today improved on the original garments, but they're a huge improvement on my first dyeing effort, and at least now when I dribble pasta sauce at lunch time, it will find a home in forgiving black.

 Scarlet's dyed shirts

Scarlet's dyed shirts

Stephen Bennett picked up a day's work teaching singing at a private school and it was his first day today. He's been on the go since early this morning and he hasn't had time to do anything seriously creative. He always has time, however, to play with some photos. He's made a 'faces' composite for today's contribution. Bring on the weekend, he says. I don't imagine he'll face much opposition to that sentiment.

 Steve's faces composite

Steve's faces composite

Day 25: Creative Challenge

Stephen Bennett has delivered on the promised recording of his first song, The Awfulisers. He set the song to a poem by cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet, Michael Leunig, and wrote a limited range vocal line to suit beginning to intermediate students. He's sung the vocal line himself in the recording below, accompanied by his computer playing a midi file through his Roland sound module. It would be nicer with a real pianist, obviously, but for the time being, this demo will suffice. Great to hear him in action again.

 Steve's photo montage of The Awfulisers

Steve's photo montage of The Awfulisers

 Kanen: Masked ball shoes - before

Kanen: Masked ball shoes - before

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and there may be a nugget of truth in that. Opera Singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been busy with his glitter today. When he showed up at his friend's house to deliver the mask he'd made for his friend's daughter (she's attending her first masquerade ball this weekend, see day 21), she decided that the shoes he'd bought her, which were silver, needed to be gold. Just as well he had his travel glitter pack at the ready.

He tried to give the silver shoes a lick of his trusty so-soft gold fabric paint, but the paint refused to dry and then peeled off in tacky looking patches. With fabric glue, silver glitter, gold glitter, a can of clear varnish, and some masking tape at hand (who else takes all this stuff with them when they go visiting?), he's transformed the shoes into glittery gold creations. He managed to drop one of the shoes in the dirt while the gloss was still wet, but he's confident he got most of the tan-bark out before it set. He's sure the combination of glue and varnish will hold the glitter in place, but he says he missed a trick because a light spritz of super-hold hairspray between gluing and varnishing would have added an extra layer of glittery security. Photos don't do this creation justice. I'm quite sure the shoes need to be seen to be believed.

 Kanen: Masked ball shoes - after

Kanen: Masked ball shoes - after

 Digital interpretations of Scarlet's pastel drawing

Digital interpretations of Scarlet's pastel drawing

I watched a pastel drawing demonstration online today - how to draw a realistic eye with pastels - presented by The Virtual Instructor, to try and get a clue about how to use the medium (not to mention how to draw an eye - they were fresh out of horses). Inspired by the demonstrator's creation, I decided to have a go at it myself, which wasn't easy because it wasn't a tutorial and lots of steps were skimmed over. While not a patch on the demonstrator's drawing, mine is a good beginner's effort and I'm quite pleased with it. I've attached a photo of the original drawing, along with a couple of versions that I fiddled around with digitally.

 Scarlet's original pastel drawing

Scarlet's original pastel drawing

Day 24: Creative Challenge

My creative contribution today, while falling into the jewellery category, represents a radical departure from my usual style nevertheless. I love to work with metal and gemstones and all things earthy. I just love the feel of the raw materials in my hands. And I love the look of the shiny metals and natural stones too. But today I was looking for another couch creation and that required a bit of ingenuity.

I spent twenty minutes in my studio first, cutting, filing and drilling a large copper disk. Then I soldered a sterling silver jump ring to create a bail, and I stained the copper black. I then spent a happy hour tucked in and warm on the couch, softening and shaping some polymer clay to create a sunny spring flower. I baked the clay and glued a mother-of-pearl gemstone in the centre with epoxy, set the flower on the copper disk and...voila. This pendant is big, even by my standards, with a diameter of about 10cms. But on a day when I'm feeling particularly young at heart, I might just wear it.

 Scarlet's spring pendant - sterling silver, copper, polymer, mother-of-pearl. Thanks to Stephen Bennett for the awesome photo.

Scarlet's spring pendant - sterling silver, copper, polymer, mother-of-pearl. Thanks to Stephen Bennett for the awesome photo.

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has been creating magic in her kitchen again. Today's gastronomic wonder is pink grapefruit curd, and there's an interesting story attached.

Trish thought she'd get ahead of the game by doing some of the work in advance. She bought the grapefruits yesterday and was planning to make the curd last night (to overcome the challenges posed by the 8 hour time difference), leaving just the photography for today. Like all great plans, it went awry. She went to a Swahili class last night - as you do - with her Left-Eye Productions partner, Andy Spitz, in preparation for a possible film job in Tanzania, and didn't get home until late. Strangely enough, she baulked at making her pink gratefruit curd in the wee hours, so she's had a mad morning scramble to create today's masterpiece. Trish has used the juice reduction method she reported yesterday (from 101 Cookbooks), and the result looks mouth-wateringly delicious. Can you imagine it in a little shortcrust pastry tart? Check out more of Trish's cooking adventures on her fabulous food blog.

 Trish's gorgeous pink grapefruit curd

Trish's gorgeous pink grapefruit curd

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has reported in from his death bed, I'm afraid. I gather he's succumbed to a rare, but painful, death-by-sequins affliction. He's embellishing a jacket to wear on the opening night of the Philip Glass opera he's currently rehearsing in Brisbane. Always the optimist, he thought this show-stopping jacket would be a one-day creation. Not so. He now estimates it will take him about three days to get the job done. His fingers are sore and his patience has been stretched to breaking point. But, my word, it's going to be worth it. Using a combination of black sequins and silver seed beads, he's turning this jacket into an opening night sensation. I think he might also have cottoned on to an innovative form of superannuation. When he retires, he'll be able to auction off his wardrobe and sail away into the sunset, cocktail in hand and wallet bulging.

 Kanen's sequined opening night jacket: Part 1

Kanen's sequined opening night jacket: Part 1

Stephen Bennett laboured for hours on the song he contributed yesterday, but didn't actually get around to recording it. Having slept on his composition, there were things he wanted to adjust when he revisited it this morning. And that's fair enough when you start with a blank page and compose in a frenzy of inspiration. I can't imagine submitting a first draft of a story. Ugh! The thought alone makes me shudder. I'm told the recording is now scheduled for tomorrow. In the meantime, Steve framed a photo that's been sitting on his framing bench downstairs, awaiting his attention, so he'd have something creative to contribute today. Not bad at all for a quick creative rescue.

 Steve's framed photo of Theo Bartolozzi and Duke 'Kissing' Casanova

Steve's framed photo of Theo Bartolozzi and Duke 'Kissing' Casanova

Day 23: Creative Challenge

The ayes have it. Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been busy with his...yes...you guessed it...sequins...with spectacularly avian results. He's been picking the eyes out of his wardrobe and replacing them with glitzy, shimmering sequins. He's hoping that on a sunny summer's day, these birdy eyes will flash and catch the light in the way they've failed utterly to do in his hotel room. He struggled to get the full sparkling experience in his photos, too, but it's easy to imagine how dazzling this shirt will be in the right light. Today's contribution has a stunningly tropical feel about it. Now all we need is the holiday to match.

 A bird's eye view of Kanen's sequined shirt

A bird's eye view of Kanen's sequined shirt

Continuing with the tropical theme, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has made a stunning Naartjie and Passionfruit Curd today. Naartjie is the Afrikaans name for citrus. The word has been used in South Africa since 1790, but the first record of it in written English was by Lawrence Green in the Tavern of the Seas in 1947.

Trish created a hybrid today, basing her creation on her favourite passion fruit curd recipe, but reducing the naartjie juice according to the method described on 101 Cookbooks. She cooked it to 165 degrees (important information for people like me who turn everything into toffee), and the results speak for themselves. Check out more of Trish's amazing cooking exploits on her food blog.

 Trish's exotic Naartjie and Passion fruit curd

Trish's exotic Naartjie and Passion fruit curd

You can't compare apples with oranges, but you can take a tropical theme too far. Oh well, life is short and I may as well live dangerously. Actually, that's about as exciting as my day's going to get. I woke up with a heavy cold and spent the day on the couch wondering what I could create in repose. My solution was to take a You Tube drawing tutorial. The one I took was called Pastel Drawing Painting Techniques and the first projects were these apples. I had to knock off after I'd completed my red apple because I was too sick to finish the tutorial, but I'm mightily pleased with the results. I'm also pleased to be able to boast that these pictures haven't been enhanced at all - just photographed and then set out in this diptych with black frames around each picture for clarity (thank you, Stephen Bennett, for the photo work). Not a horse in sight, Kanen!

 Scarlet's pastel apples

Scarlet's pastel apples

Stephen Bennett has bucked the tropical trend - no holiday for him - and written a song for voices with limited vocal range today. It's not always easy to find repertoire suitable for students with undeveloped voices, and he's been thinking about writing some songs to fill that niche. He's blogged more details here, but the gist of the story is that he's long been a fan of cartoonist, writer, painter, philosopher and poet, Michael Leunig. Leunig wrote a wonderful poem about the mess bureaucrats are making of the world, and Steve has written a vocal piece to Leunig's text. This is part one of a two day project. Today we get a photograph of the score. Tomorrow Steve's going to record himself singing it, and he'll post the audio recording to our Day 24 blog. He just has one minor detail to attend to first: He needs to learn to do multi-track recordings on his computer. One man, five minutes? I don't think so.

 Steve's composition, The Awfulisers, set to a poem by Michael Leunig

Steve's composition, The Awfulisers, set to a poem by Michael Leunig

Day 22: Creative Challenge

 Steve's film photo

Steve's film photo

Remember Kodak and film cameras? Well, Stephen Bennett had an old fashioned photography day today. He decided to satisfy his creative urge with a film adventure, an interesting trip down memory lane. He went exploring around north Canberra and shot a roll of 120 black and white film. He beetled back to his dark room, put his chemist's hat on, mixed up all the foul smelling chemicals, and processed the film. The film was scanned once it was dry and...voila! Now there's a blast from the past.

 Steve's darkroom developments

Steve's darkroom developments

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is going to be irresistible at work tonight dressed, as he is, in this glamorous Pick-up Artist t-shirt. You may remember stage one of this t-shirt transformation, which was faithfully reported on day 20. It involved some of Kanen's ultra soft fabric paint. Today he's transformed the tee into a ritzy, glitzy, eye-catching, seductive masterpiece. If you've never sewn a sequin, you really can't appreciate the time it would have taken him to do this. Hand sewing sequins is not a task for the impatient!

Kanen is quite pleased with this creative transformation, although he says it's ironic that he would have Pick-up Artist emblazoned across his man-boobs since he's the lousiest smooth talker on the block. Proclaimed this fabulously, however, he's prepared to try and live up to the title. He thinks that anyone who's suffered through one of his attempted seductions will smell a rat, though. I suspect he's being way too modest. He's that kind of guy.

Work continues on his mask commission with all the razzle and dazzle we're accustomed to. Where on earth would Kanen be without his sequins? And how would the creative challenge team survive?

 Kanen's mask, along with his sequined, seductive, pick-up sensation

Kanen's mask, along with his sequined, seductive, pick-up sensation

This creative challenge is extra challenging for Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries very hard to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, because of the time difference between Canberra and Johannesburg. With Canberra 8 hours ahead, Trish has to get her creative contribution to me by 11-11:30am her time to spare me the pain of blogging into the wee hours. That's a challenge.

Ever the valiant creative, she leapt out of bed with great plans this morning, debating whether she'd make clementine curd or a clementine cake, but made the mistake of sitting down at her computer first. You don't need me to tell you how that worked out. She then had to rush off to a meeting with the editor of the gender based violence film she's been producing, and the rest, as they say, is history. She still wins the beta-carotene gong of the day, however, with her rushed but delicious beetroot, carrot and clementine juice. Just the thing to keep her creative energy powering.

 Trish's quick-fix energy creation

Trish's quick-fix energy creation

Talented, skilled people make hard tricks look easy. I've had a few reminders of that this past week. Inspired by Kanen's impressive efforts with his dye pots and fabric paint, I started looking at my wardrobe with a whole new sense of possibility, casting my creative gaze over all the items I rarely wear. I selected three items and soaked them in a bucket of rich, royal blue dye, excited by the prospect of some new blue garments in my wardrobe. That wasn't quite how things turned out. My pink lacy over-shirt turned a dark shade of purple and the two white tops - a white camisole and a long sleeved shirt - turned the most revolting shade of mauve you could imagine. They're so hideous, I wouldn't even give them away. I've ordered some black dye from Lincraft and when I take delivery, I'll have another go. Watch this space...

I had a similar experience today. Trish very generously shared her three potions recipes in the blog she posted overnight. I was so excited, I decided to have a crack at her black pepper syrup this morning. It looked like something a common garden cook like me could manage. Not so. And this is what I mean about highly skilled people making challenging tasks look easy. My black pepper syrup is...well...not actually syrup at all. Anyone for black pepper toffee?

Undeterred, I decided to try again with a variation, which is more my usual (wayward) cooking style. I'd picked all the remaining chillies off my last fruiting chilli bush the night before our first heavy frost in June (unbelievably late for Canberra). They'd then sat, neglected, in a tub, awaiting my time and attention. Today turned out to be their lucky day. I used Trish's black pepper syrup recipe, but replaced the black pepper with chopped chilli, and the result is quite delicious. I debated whether or not to leave the lovely red chilli pieces, along with the seeds, in the completed syrup, but since the syrup itself is plenty hot, I strained them out. Now all I need are some ideas about what one actually does with chilli syrup. Trish? Help!

 Scarlet: The last chillies of the season and my chilli syrup, recipe courtesy of Trish Urquhart

Scarlet: The last chillies of the season and my chilli syrup, recipe courtesy of Trish Urquhart

Day 21: Creative Challenge

You'd think that Sunday would be a day when the creative challenge team could take on bigger creative projects, but this week, life being what it is, we've all squeezed interesting but modest creative activities into the day. Our cooking guru, Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries (successfully, in my view) to live up to the title cook extraordinaire, has been a fine steward of her resources indeed. She went out into her garden this morning and picked about twenty passionfruit off the ground. She pondered her cordial options: passionfruit and mint?; passionfruit and lemongrass? In the end, she took pity on her lemongrass plant, which needed nurturing rather than picking, and opted for her trusty passionfruit cordial, which is always a favourite. Since she'd already picked some mint, and since she's been an exemplary steward of her resources today, she turned her various ingredients into passionfruit, carrot, clementine, mint and ginger juices for breakfast. I don't know anyone else who enjoys such creative, not to mention gorgeous, breakfasts.

 Trish's exotic breakfast juice

Trish's exotic breakfast juice

Opera singer and strange bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has a plethora of creative projects on the go at the moment,  most of which he's keeping under wraps for the time being. I've heard rumours about a Superman t-shirt transformation - can you imagine? - but we'll all have to wait until it's complete for the big reveal. I feel like a kid at Christmas - too much excitement! How will I ever sleep? In any case, Kanen's been a charitable soul today, opening his glitter box for a very good cause. He's been making a mask for the daughter of some friends to wear to her first masquerade ball next weekend. She's eight years old and extremely particular about the design elements, so don't expect Kanen's usual flamboyance - he's working to some tight specs on this project. This is not the final product, but it's two thirds done. Originally white, it's now a sparkling gold. A photo of the finished mask has been promised for tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm going to have Mozart going round and round in my head all night courtesy of that mask. Bisogna aver coraggio, o cari amici miei...

 Kanen's glittery mask

Kanen's glittery mask

Stephen Bennett has produced a faux bromoil in his wonderful Nik software today. Bromoils were invented right at the beginning of the twentieth century and the process involves rubbing ink into a photograph to create a painterly effect. That sounds simple enough, but I'm told the process is both complicated and labour intensive. It was favourite technique of the pictorialists, back in the day. Steve has transformed this photo of a ruined Sydney brewery, and he's happy with today's creative contribution because he thinks the bromoil effect looks quite authentic.

 Steve's brewery bromoil

Steve's brewery bromoil

It's been some days now since I attempted a horse drawing and today's effort wasn't my best, I have to confess. It took a bit of scrambling around in my photo editor (after I'd photographed the drawing) to create a passable image. It was a good learning experience, however, and I enjoyed myself, which is what it's all about, after all.

 Scarlet's latest horse drawing

Scarlet's latest horse drawing