Filtering by Tag: Bloom by Design

Week 21: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been up to his famous shoe tricks again. He's submitted this week's creation from sunny Perth, where he reports that hotel crafts completely rock. He says he can't sleep in work accommodation unless there's a liberal sprinkling of sequins, paint and glue on the carpet (can you imagine how popular he is with the cleaners?).

He bought these hideous shoes for $5 and dragged them across the Nullarbor with the express purpose of a cheeky debazzling, and - voila! Given the fact that people are stopping to stare at his sparkly specs, he expects these little lovelies to stop traffic.

Kanens Shoes In Progress

'You know the drill,' he said. 'Paint, glue, sequins, RESULT!'

He forgot his masking tape so the lines aren't as crisp as previous efforts, but they'll get Kanen through the next twelve days in the style to which he's become accustomed, and may even form part of his artsy/casual opening night look if they don't fall apart first (they're not exactly a sturdy shoe).

Kanen says he has an enormous week ahead of him and he wonders what on earth he's going to create during the cracks in his crazy schedule. Hopefully no shoes, he says, but he makes no promises. Just as well. There's an unlikely promise if ever I've heard one.

Kanens Finished Shoe Transformation

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has survived the arduous process of moving, and is busy in her new Gold Coast home, setting up her florist shop. She spent time in Melbourne and Sydney when she first left Perth to set up supply chains and have a look around. While she was there, she created a photo story of her travels.

Her story began with a house sporting a beard - Hipster House, she's called it.

Keryns Hipster House

She walked from St Kilda to South Yarra and beyond looking for flower shops. Some wouldn't let her take photos so she had to go undercover to get these snaps. She saw these places as oases in an urban landscape.

Keryns Urban Oases

The Victorian building squashed between the pop-up and fast food outlets somewhere near Chapel Road reminded Keryn of bloated decrepitude. And the urban art she found struck her as 'voices from the underground'.

Keryns urban art photos

Keryn has (cleverly) named the last two houses Monobrow and Opposites Attract. Love it!

Monobrown and Opposites Attract

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has continued with her jewellery theme, creating felt dreadlocks of different lengths and widths.

Inspired by a photo in the Good Weekend magazine a few weeks ago, she's created two necklaces with a chain-like effect. The darker of the two was made with lots of short felt ropes, the lighter was made from a very long dreadlock that Telena looped around itself.

Telenas Felt Chains

The final necklace combines five thin felt ropes. It's fastened with a clasp, which means it can be worn in a variety of ways - as it falls, twisted or knotted (see photos below).

Telenas felt necklace

Telena says she's been enjoying making smaller pieces lately, but she's also planning some larger pieces. School went back last week, so she's been busy teaching again, and arranging music on Sibelius. Felting time just got that bit more scarce, but I'm sure that won't hold her back.

Trish Urquhart

Trishs Curtains

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 busy on a number of creative fronts this past week.

She's making a set of refurbished curtains for their rental unit. The original curtains were made by Richard's mother in 1965. Trish has re-lined them, as the fifty year old lining was totally rotten on the edges. And she cut off the old tops, threw away the rotten tape, and made a new tab top to replace the old, damaged pieces.

Trishs Curtain Refurbishment

Trish also made an ostrich frittata, using an ostrich egg that novelist Jo-Anne Richards bought in Calvinia on her drive to Johannesburg from Cape Town. She made it with prawns, basil, red onions and gruyere, and Trish reports that it was delicious. To see more of Trish's exciting food adventures, visit her fabulous food blog.

Trishs Ostrich Egg Frittata

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has had a demanding week. She's been sick with a virus that spread through the family with the impressive efficiency of falling dominoes, and she started at a new college on Monday as well.

Nevertheless, she found the energy to make a delicious tomato sauce on Friday afternoon using tomatoes and oregano from our garden. The tomatoes were a mixed batch - all organic and open-pollinated, with a number of heirloom varieties in the mix. The end result was as delicious as it was colourful.

Tomato Sauce

If you think it looks like the tomatoes weren't skinned, you're right, and I'm to blame for that culinary heresy. I attempted to make an authentic sauce once, painstakingly pealing all the tomatoes, and decided - long before the task was done - that life was too short. Ever the pragmatist, I've taught Georgia to make fresh tomato sauce with the skins intact - which makes sauce-making a quick and easy job - and we blitz the end result in a powerful blender. No one who tastes it is any the wiser.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has made a video that is - in his words - truly dreadful. As a neophyte movie producer he came up with the idea of an exciting, gut wrenching thriller called the Kiss of the Carrot, starring Duke and Velvie, with a support cast of extras from Paddock 2.

Things he thinks he learnt in the process:

  1. Learn how to turn the video camera on to record. The red light means it's recording and the green light means it's not. He got this basic concept wrong for a total of 32 takes.
  2. Make sure the microphone is out and working, and use the wind shield when filming en plein air.
  3. Don't try and make a film while feeding horses by yourself.
  4. Don't use daggy scene transitions from the software package.

He feels that his future as the next Fellini is imminent, so he's decided to show his first picture warts and all as a point of reference for future blockbusters.

This short one-acter comes with a warning - it really is awful.

The end.

Scarlet Bennett

Flower Pendant

I made some old style jewellery this week - just trinkets really - for the fun of it. The resin wasn't even dry, however, before the pieces were claimed. Hannah and Georgia have adopted these pendants and I'm delighted they've gone to such worthy homes. I'll probably play around some more with these techniques. They're a relaxing antidote to an overly busy work week and the end result reminds me of a much loved (deceased) grandmother.

Victoriana Rose Pendant

Week 19: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been embellishing necklaces this week. Her daughter, Rachel, is getting married soon and they've been out shopping for bridesmaid dresses together. Rachel has also been draping her belongings around the house to see what she really wants to take with her into married life, so there's been lots of cleaning and sorting activity too. The downside of this is that Telena's studio is now quite full! She plans to remedy that in the coming week.

Telenas Dreadlocks
Telenas Cat

In the meantime, she's taken some of her dreadlock necklaces and added felted balls to create another dimension of interest. The autumn toned neckace is going straight to Telena's private collection, I'm told. Telena has also shared photos of some of her other bead necklaces, and there's a picture of her special studio helper too - just what you need when you're trying to sew knitted squares into blankets. As you can see, Hazel (the cat) has claimed them as her own. Who's a nice, warm kitty, then?

Telenas Felt Beads

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 delightfully creative in her kitchen again.

Her masterpiece this week is an innovative sage pesto, which she served with a roasted garden butternut, fresh out of her garden. Trish's sage is going crazy at the moment and her first butternut was ready for picking yesterday, so she was determined to find a way to combine the two.

She often fries the sage leaves but, after the success of her recent tarragon pesto, she wondered if sage pesto would also be good. As it turns out, it was delicious.

Trishs Sage

Trish took two loosely packed cups of sage leaves and blended them with about a cup of olive oil. She then added six cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, and blended that. She stirred in around two handfuls of chopped walnuts and another two handfuls of ground almonds - thinking that the powerful sage needed this degree of taming - along with two handfuls of mixed grated cheese. She added a couple of teaspoons of honey, and served the pesto with slices of roasted butternut. Do visit Trish's fabulous food blog for more news of her food adventures.

Roasted butternut with sage pesto

Dinner wasn't served until about ten o'clock, however, because Trish was multi-tasking - arranging a bookcase that she'd moved into the living space from their ex-writing room. This, of course, turned into a bigger project than intended and the photos here are a work in progress as she didn't have time to move all the books. Looking good, Trish. Love the paint job.

Bookcase renovation

Kanen Breen

Kanens Gold Shoes

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has effected a five minute shoe transformation this week - a crazy work week for him - and he says he's very happy indeed with the results.

He bought these ultra-conservative shoes last week and wore them to rehearsals where he was roundly mocked for his 'plain Jane' footwear (people can be so cruel). Until then, he hadn't intended to mess about with the shoes but, upon reflection and with a little bit of a nudge from his friends, he decided that they weren't very 'him' after all and something had to be done. Five minutes with his So Soft gold paint and he now has just enough razzle dazzle to satisfy the naysayers and put a smile on his face as well. He says his creative output this week is hardly groundbreaking, but the best his schedule and energy levels would permit. I'm just glad to see him back in the shoe game. Flamingos are all well and good, but I'd definitely being missing his ultra glam shoes. Perhaps a well shod flamingo for next week?

Kanens Shoe Transformation

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has delighted us with another culinary delicacy this week. Always keen to make new things, she had a go at a German Apple Cake and the results, I think, speak for themselves - yes, it tastes easily as good as it looks. To serve, she invented an apple and blackberry sauce using fruit freshly picked from our garden and the combination couldn't have been better. It was a wonderful dessert.

Georgia hasn't done any recordings this week, but she's been prolific with her song writing. She has four new pieces to add to her repertoire once she's refined them to her liking, and we'll hopefully get to hear them in the coming weeks. Keep 'em coming, Georgia.

Georgias German Apple Cake

Stephen Bennett

Grandfathers Chest

Stephen Bennett has had a busy week attending meetings for a new job as choirmaster at Canberra Grammar School, so his creative work this week has been somewhat curtailed.

He inherited an old chest from his grandfather and has been intending to turn it into a bedside table for at least 25 years, so he got on with the job and now can't figure out why he took so long to get around to it. It looks fabulous, doesn't it?

Finished Chest

The tapestry stand he made for Hannah needed a re-design and a few modifications, followed by staining and varnishing, and he completed that job too (not bad for a curtailed week).

Hannah's tapestry stand
Doors in progress

The kitchen re-build is still hanging around his neck like a noose, so he tried to make some progress there. He cut all the rails and styles for the door frames, and when the panel raising router bit arrived in the mail from the USA, he raised the first two panels. He's also gluing up the next panel to be routed. It will be a slow job but he swears he'll get there by next Christmas. All in good time, I'm sure.

Kitchen Panel Doors

Scarlet Bennett

I could take a photo of my computer to show you all the writing I've done this week, but that wouldn't be very exciting, so you're going to have to take my word for it. My fingers have been flying across the keyboard with pleasing fluency, and long may that last is all I can say.

Determined to create something visual, however, I tinkered with some polymer early in the week, making a rose using a few different shades of red. I then added some wire and resin to make the piece a bit more interesting. It's an unusual design and I must say it's growing on me. It looks striking on and the steel wire stops the flower from looking too girly. An industrial passion theme, perhaps, and you've gotta love that.

Scarlets Red Rose

Week 18: Creative Challenge 52

Kanens shoes

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been getting creative with shoes again. Jacqui had some $5 shoes that they'd both declared revolting but, happily, the shoes were potentially garish enough to be put to costuming use in their cabaret capers - with some added sequins, of course. The shoes are still very much on trial, but Kanen says he wants to see them on-stage and under lights before they get sent to God.

There's a little bit of glue clean up to come, but that has to wait for a day or two until the glue is properly dry. Kanen says it's hard to tell from the photos, but the larger sequins have a kind of holographic sheen that is quite vile but well suited to the hideous shoes. It makes them flash under the light, apparently.

Don't despair at this tantalising arm's length view. These shoes just might be coming to a venue near you very soon...

Jacquis Shoes

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is preparing to show some of her felted bags and, with her injured finger still on the mend (but not quite up to textile work again yet), she's opted to showcase some of the bags this week.

Telenas bags 1

Telena has used a variety of techniques to make these bags. Some were knotted and then felted. Others were knitted to a very large size and then shrunk in the washing machine. Still others were made to a pattern with layers kept separate during the felting process, and one was free-machine embroidered.

Telenas Bags 2

Telena is hoping that her finger will be sufficiently recovered in the coming week to allow her to resume felting again. Either way, she's not going to be short of things to do because she still has a wedding to prepare for, oboe lessons to give, and a spare room to prepare for guests. It's good to know that she's keeping out of mischief. And her bag exhibition will really be something to see.

Telenas Bags 3

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 creative with her camera as well as in the kitchen this week. She's been taking portraits of her vegetables - a very fine way to honour them before putting them into the pot - and creating her usual array of culinary delicacies.

Trishs herb and cucumber harvest

She turned an early morning garden harvest (5 cucumbers, mint, tarragon and lovage) into a delicious raw lunch time soup. She served the soup with the remains of her parmesan ice cream (you can find the parmesan ice cream here on Trish's fabulous food blog), which has been in her freezer waiting for another outing.

Raw green soup with parmesan ice cream

The potatoes Trish picked were combined with onion and served as a potato bake for supper. Yum! It's all been happening at Trish's place.

Trishs garden potatoes

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has been impressively creative this past week, as always. She's made a new Tumblr blog, Rhythm Runway, to post about two of her favourite things - music and fashion. And she designed some images for the blog, which she then got Steve to photograph. How good does her theme look?

Rhythm Runway Images

Everyone in our family sings, and we often improvise harmonies and mess about with songs. Georgia, Hannah and I have a version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy that we sing together sometimes when the mood takes us. We trotted it out yesterday to create something different for this blog. It's a live recording featuring Georgia singing the solo and the bottom ensemble line, Hannah is singing the top line, and I'm sandwiched in the middle. Stephen Bennett gets credit for his sound engineering skills. We'd be lost without his various talents.

I'm absolutely crazy about Georgia's solo. She never sings it the same way twice and she's a real one-take wonder. She nails it every time.

Stephen Bennett

As I mentioned, Stephen Bennett has been kept busy with other people's creative projects this week. Always quick to spot an opportunity, however, he snapped this wonderful portrait of Georgia when they were working on her Rhythm Runway shoot.

Georgia Bennett

He's also been making panel doors for our new kitchen cupboards and we may get a glimpse of his results next week. Bring it on, I say.

Scarlet Bennett

Giant Russian Sunflower

My writing output this week has been really good but that means I've been sitting a lot. To compensate, I've been taking breaks in our urban farm, which is absolutely flourishing. Our giant Russian sunflowers have started to morph from flowers to seed producers, which is exciting to watch, and the purely decorative Italian sunflowers alongside are a joy to behold. I defy you to feel grumpy when you look at these cheery blooms.

Italian Sunflowers
Zucchini Flower

The summer glut is upon us and I joked at breakfast that we may need to think about a book - Creative Ways with Zucchinis - since I'm inventing new ways to serve these prolific producers on a daily basis. Today's exciting kitchen adventure, after picking another mountain of ripe produce, was two different varieties of zucchini bread - golden zucchini and sweet corn, and zucchini and chive. They're very nice indeed.

Scarlets Zucchini Bread

The passion Kanen Breen feels for shoes, I reserve, I'm afraid, for eggplants (tragic, isn't it). I just adore these black velvet friends and I've got quite a few different varieties fruiting at the moment. I should have photographed my harvest this week, but I just couldn't wait to eat them. Never fear, however, there are plenty more on the way.

Scarlets Eggplants

I haven't had much time to spend in my jewellery studio this week, but I did make these cool sterling silver earrings. This design reminds of King Neptune's trident and evokes nostalgia for the stories of my youth. They look fabulous on.

Scarlets Trident Earrings

Week 17: Creative Challenge

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, abandoned her kitchen in favour of other creative pursuits this past week.

Trishs Landscape Panorama

She's been holidaying with family in Magaliesburg, and she took the opportunity to take some awesome photos of her surrounds. You may remember that developing her photography skills was one of Trish's goals when we embarked on the year-long creative challenge. She's certainly succeeding on that front.

Trishs Sunset Diptych

Trish had a problem to solve when she returned home to Johannesburg. Richard needed to use their newly renovated office for meetings and the weather was unpleasantly hot. No problem for a creative like Trish. She whipped up this impressive awning in the blink of an eye. She says she was tempted to take a leaf out of Kanen Breen's book and paint stripes on it (note that she didn't go as far as sequins, glitter and seed beads), but it was too hot to faff about with decorations. They needed a cool office and they needed it fast. Nice work, Trish!

Trishs Awning

As the office window faces out onto their vegetable garden, Trish took a few quick snaps in her garden too. She often throws some marigold and nasturtium seeds into the garden when she's planting cabbages in the hope that they'll deter some of insects that love chewing away on her cabbage crops. This year they've self-sown in an attractive line at the base of the passion fruit and are flowering and looking beautiful. She also reports that her gem squashes are flourishing and that she's got enough tomatoes to regularly enjoy tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella salads. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Trishs Garden

Kanen Breen

On the rebound from another two sell-out cabaret performances at The Vanguard in Newtown, opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has renewed his passion (or should I say, fetish) for shoes.

He bought these converse sneakers because he liked the zipper effect, but they were originally a camouflage design which had no appeal, so he painted them green with his trusty fabric paint. He never really liked the colour he chose (too forest green and he has nothing to wear with that colour scheme), so he rarely ever wore them.

After a couple of years in Jacqui's garage where nature took its course with damp as its ally, and they went even greener - mould green to be exact. Kanen made a half-hearted attempt to resuscitate them, but the paint started coming off and he was going to consign them to the bin when he suddenly thought...'Now come on, don't give up, get creative!' Fabric glue, glitter and masking tape later and we have a re-born pair of shoes just gagging to get grooving. Kanen has a feeling these little lovelies won't have any time to gather moss as they stride out with pride and just a hint of gay abandon.

He says, 'I'm back, baby. How I've missed the shoe transforming caper. More to come, methinks...'

Brace yourselves, people.

Kanens Shoes

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is on the move tonight, at a farewell function before she flies out of Perth at 5am tomorrow morning to her new home in the Gold Coast. Safe journey, Keryn, and we look forward to seeing you back in full creative form next week.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had a painful week in more ways than one. She's been unable to create new textiles - ouch! - because she took a slice out of the middle finger on her right hand on a rotary cutter (with the blade protector in place).

Fortunately, she has a very impressive body of work to draw on while she's incapacitated, and she's showcasing some garments from her own collection this week.

The good news is that even with her injured finger, Telena is still able to knit, so she's planning to mass produce squares and blankets for Wrap with Love. Perhaps there really is a silver lining in every cloud.

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has been in Sydney this week, enjoying her last holiday away from home for this summer. Inspired by the gorgeous clothes she bought while she was away - shopping mostly in Newtown's alternative boutiques - she came home determined to create a sewing nook in her bedroom that she can leave set-up and ready to go. Her first project is to make a pattern from this cute little fitted skirt, and then to make another skirt in stretchy black fabric.

Georgias Sewing Nook

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has had a fiddly week organising (and ordering) tools to finish the kitchen re-build. He's finished the painting this week and properly installed the range hood. He's fitted skirting boards behind the stove and put up architraves around the door. So, nothing glamorous, he says, but lots of necessary finishing up. His next task - once the router bit he's waiting on arrives - is to build the timber cupboard doors.

Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

In the midst of building our kitchen, he also found time to set up a portrait shoot for me. I needed a new head shot for my work, and I'm fortunate indeed to have a live-in photographer at hand. One man, five minutes. Sorted!

Scarlet Bennett

Scarlet bennett

I've been busy on a number of creative fronts this week. I finished a necklace that I started last week. The choker is made from blue sky jasper, all the findings are sterling silver, and the pendant is a mixed media creation featuring a dried nigella flower from my garden. If you look closely you'll see a subtle industrial edge - the border embellishments on the pendant are star washers from the hardware store.

Blue Sky Jasper Nigella Pendant

I've also been drying flowers for use in future jewellery creations.

Scarlets Dried Flowers

I've been flat out in the garden, getting rid of summer weeds, planting fresh batches of lettuce, beet, radish, silverbeet, chia, celtuce, sugarbeet and basil. And I've been harvesting, harvesting, harvesting... You can't imagine how much produce my garden is currently producing. The sample below was just what I picked for today's lunch, and it's an understatement to say that this didn't make a dent in my available produce.

Summer harvest

I was fortunate enough to receive a Sedona food dehydrator for Christmas (just in time to turn our ripening stone fruit into delicious fruit leather), and I've been experimenting with lots of different recipes using this extraordinary machine. A particular highlight this week was my homemade muesli bars. Full of nothing but pure, life-enhancing ingredients, these bars have to be tasted to be believed - so much better than anything you can buy at the supermarket. Here they are half way through the drying process on a Sedona tray, and served with a nice cup of tea at the end of a busy afternoon in the garden. Just the ticket.

Scarlets Muesli Bars
Muesli bars with tea

Week 16: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had scant creative time this week, but even so she's managed to produce something gorgeous. She experimented some more with her new drum carder (a Christmas gift she showcased last week) using yarn in contrasting hues.

Keen to create a chequerboard pattern, she made a light pre-fleece with each contrasting colour. She then cut the prefelts in wavy lines and wove them together, before placing a piece of black tissue silk on the back. She felted the fabric, taking care to make sure the pieces didn't come apart.

The resulting collar is a colourful piece that Telena will use to liven up a dark coat. If she wants a muted effect, she'll show the reverse side. Telena loves how the cut fibres form an edge through the silk and make a relief pattern, and she's already imagining possibilities with this technique on a larger scale. How much sleep does she need, she wonders?

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 a busy creative person indeed.

Trish and Richard have a cottage on their property that they rent out, and they've been busy this week preparing it for a new tenant. Trish has sent us some photos to show us the results of their hard work. The transformed cottage looks absolutely gorgeous, and I love the colour scheme.

The previous tenant left behind an enormous quantity of spices and Trish wanted to clear them out because they were consuming much of the grocery storage space. She decided to integrate them into her own spice collection, which posed something of a challenge because her spices were badly organised and spread over three different areas in her kitchen. She needed an instant solution, so she pilfered a rather useful little filing cabinet from the office and transformed it into a spice cabinet with a lovely urban industrial look. Nice.


After a very successful couple of hours planting Swiss chard, coriander, radish and bean seeds, as well as tomato, cabbage and parsley seedlings, Trish dashed into the kitchen to create something with her modest garlic harvest. She's blended the garlic cloves together with olive oil and she'll store the garlic puree in a jar in the freezer. Her research suggests that it won't freeze solid, which means she'll be able to scoop garlic puree out with a teaspoon to use as needed. I'll be interested to hear how this turns out because, if it works, I'll do the same with my next garlic crop. What a great idea.

To see more of Trish's fabulous food adventures, check out her blog.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been flat out with performances this week, but he's managed to find time to fool around with a few birds.

Kanen bought two trashy flamingos from K-Mart for the princely sum of $12 each. New, they were a darker pink and, according to Kanen, unpleasantly pristeen. Over time, one of them weathered nicely with some good, even colour fade and tiny rust patches along the edges. The other, for reasons best known to itself, went a hideous putty colour with major rust issues that Kanen says made it look like an ibis on crack. He was going to throw it out when he suddenly thought...creative challenge!



Kanen has gone to town with left over paint and glitter to give this little birdie her glam back. He's deliberately left it outside to weather because the pink is too dark, but he says it's already fading well, and the glitter is looking older and less 'clean', which he likes. Fabulous, frivolous fun. Thanks for the bird's-eye view, Kanen.



Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is still preparing to move to the other side of the country. She's therefore continued her 'moving chic' creative trend. To use up the ingredients in her pantry, she made an asparagus and sour cream tart and a batch of her famous red velvet cupcakes. I say famous because she won a bake-off with the cupcakes at the law firm she was working at until recently. She says, 'it's not often you steal the prize from under the noses of lawyers so I consider this my finest moment of 2014. Which says quite a lot about the year, actually.'

Keryn took the cupcakes on her Christmas visiting rounds. And the pie, she reports, was absolutely delicious.

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has long been passionate about the ethical issues involved in the production of food. She only buys vegan fair trade chocolate and she keeps a close eye on the things we buy for the rest of our household too.

This week, she decided to try her hand at making raw, vegan, organic, fair trade chocolate from scratch. We couldn't for the life of us find plain chocolate molds - Santa molds are still the flavour of the moment - so she made a plain chocolate slab that we can break into chips for baking, and she also used this ice cube tray to make bite sized chocs. She dipped some strawberries in the left over chocolate and these were devoured within seconds of being set. Her chocolate is delicious and the recipe is posted at the end of this blog. Virtuous decadence at its best.

Making Chocolate
Raw organic chocolate

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has had a busy week. He processed some photos from his pre-Christmas trip to the south coast.

Not a keen cook, he was obliged to make some fruit leather because the fruit on our plum tree ripened while I was away visiting family. This delicious offering is plum and banana, and it's seriously yummy.

He also took advantage of a relatively empty house to do some more work on our kitchen - finishing the internal cupboards, fitting the bench tops, and finishing the tiling. All in all, a great week's creative work.

Scarlet Bennett

I've been away visiting for much of the past week, so I've had a mad scramble to make something in time for this blog.

Continuing with the dried nigella flowers from last week, I've made a flower pendant using copper, hardware store materials, a dried nigella flower, and resin. There are a lot of reflective surfaces on this pendant, which makes it hard to capture with a camera, but I like it a lot. Cyberpunk with a twist, perhaps.

Flower Pendant

Vegan Raw Chocolate

Georgia's chocolate was based on a recipe in Going Raw by Judita Wignall.


1/2 cup cacao butter; 1/2 cup cacao powder (not cocoa powder); agave nectar to taste (Georgia used 4-6 tablespoons); 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; pinch sea salt.


Melt cacao butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Take the saucepan on and off the heat to keep the temperature low. You should be able to touch the pan and cacao butter without pain. Once melted, stir in the cacao powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and salt and combine well. Pour into molds and set 30 minutes in the freezer before removing. Enjoy

Week 15: Creative Challenge 52

Having abandoned all pretense at moving on from my flower obsession, I dried some love-in-a-mist flowers from my garden recently to use in some jewellery pieces I've been working on. Embracing the sense of nostalgia evoked by cottage garden flowers, I've gone for a Victoriana look with the experimental piece I've posted today. I made a classic choker using olive jade and sterling silver, and a mixed media, experimental pendant featuring my beautiful, dried love-in-a-mist bloom. The pendant is attached to the choker with a sterling silver bolt ring, which means it can be easily removed and replaced with a different pendant for maximum versatility. Classic jewellery with a twist. The old world charm of this piece just warms my heart.

I've also been experimenting in the kitchen, trying to make delicious food using ultra healthy ingredients to get us all in top shape to welcome in the new year. I've made lots of different things, but for today I'm showcasing my raw vegan cheesecake with blueberry sauce. Sinful on the tastebuds, nutritionally virtuous everywhere else. You've gotta love that. I've posted the recipe at the bottom of this blog in case you're tempted to try it yourself.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been a very good girl this year and, consequently, Santa has obliged with just the right gift. He's delivered a drum carder, an impressive looking gadget that will enable Telena to blend yarn to create just the right colour combinations for her textiles.

Telena's drum carder is a 'Wild Drum Carder' which apparently has deeper teeth so she can add fancy yarns and blend a variety of different colours and textures. She can darken or lighten the hue by adding black or white, creating subtle gradations between colours. Telena hasn't had time to do much with it yet, but she's blended a few colours to get a feel for the results she'll be able to achieve. Telena's new drum carder adds a whole new element to her textile work as she'll no longer be reliant on dyeing her fabrics. Now she can add blended yarn either before or after felting. I think we can expect to see some interesting creations in 2015. Bring it on is all I can say.

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 creating wonderful images rather than cooking up a storm this week. She, Richard, and her sister Penny, drove from Cape Town to Johannesburg, travelling through mostly remote locations and taking three days to complete the trip. Trish took these photos with her phone - hard to believe when you see the quality of her images - with some photos even taken through the window of their moving car. The trio drove through Sutherland to Calvina and Carnavon, with Trish capturing the flavour of the area en route. These photos make me want to pack up stumps and head on over.

In other news, the sexual and gender based violence documentary that Trish and her Left-Eye Productions partner, Andy, made is now up on the HIAS website. Do check it out here. Gorgeous cinematography to support a very worthy cause.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has embraced a millinery theme this past week. He's gussied up a really plain hat that has been lying around Jacqui's house for the past six months just waiting for him to notice it. This effort is both creative and necessary because Kanen says their darling stylist, Dynae, is unavailable for their next two Bedfellow  performances and he's been in a spot of bother without her. While Jacqui has her wig to fall back on, Dynae makes Kanen's hair look slick and fabulous. When he tried to replicate the style himself, he says he looked old and bald - hence the hat innovation. After a quick trip to Daiso, where all the flowers and jazzy bits cost the princely sum of $2.80, Kanen now has a very nifty hair hider for all future stylist-free ventures. He laments that it's not his finest creative hour, but in the absence of day-care, he has about nine minutes a week at the moment to get his bling on. Hats off to you, comrade. Nine minutes well spent.

Oh, and just to whet our appetites, Kanen has given us a sneak preview of a flamingo that's currently undergoing something of a transformation. Watch this space...


Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has given us a glimpse of her Christmas this year and what a busy bee she's been. Flat out packing for the move to the Gold Coast, she's still found time to cook up a storm. She made a delicious Christmas cake and a gorgeous zucchini pie. She also arranged some lovely flowers for her Christmas table. Note the packing paper table cloth - art that grows out of life. Love it.

NB. Santa liked her packing paper table cloth so much he even wrote on it.

Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and songwriter, Georgia Bennett, has recorded the song she performed at her high school graduation. It's her own composition - one of my favourites - and it's wonderful to now have a recording of it. You go, girl.


Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett took Georgia and Henry for a pre-Christmas holiday in Narooma. Unfortunately, poor Henry came down with a cold and spent the first couple of days in bed. They stayed in a cabin at Handkerchief Beach, just two minutes walk to the water. Sadly there were lots of bluebottles in the water, so it wasn't safe to swim, but it was lovely going for walks in the sand and enjoying the salty air. Georgia took a guitar down to the beach every day for a spot of song writing, and came up with some new material to develop. Steve had fun with his camera as usual, photographing along the coastline and inland at Central Tilba, a beautiful heritage town from the 19th Century. He still has a few rolls of black and white film from the trip to develop, but these digital photos are ready to go.

Cheesecake with blueberry sauce

This recipe came from a book called Deliciously Raw by Carmella Soleil, which came free with my Optimum Blender. You can see more of Carmella's recipes here.


1 cup almonds; 1/4 cup soft dates; 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract; pinch salt.

Process the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. The mixture should stick when pressed together between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a little water or some agave nectar if you want a sweeter base. Press into the bottom of a pie plate or 7-inch springform pan.


First: 2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour; 1/2 cup water; 1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Second: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil; 1 tablespoon lecithin powder.

Process the first 5 ingredients in a powerful blender, pausing to scrape the sides, until smooth and creamy.

Add the melted coconut oil and lecithin and blend briefly, just to incorporate. Pour the flling  onto the crust. Chill in the fridge or freezer for a few hours or until firm.

Week 14: Creative Challenge 52

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has returned victorious from her trip to the Gold Coast, having secured shop premises for her new floristry business and a new home to boot. What this girl can achieve in a week, you just can't write about.

Having checked off those achievements - tick - she's been busy in her kitchen, indulging her passion for vintage cakes. For her contribution this week, Keryn turned to her pile of trusty old Country Style magazines. She loves their recipes and styling. They always feature a favourite homespun recipe and the last two recipes Keryn has featured on her blog have been baked by retired men. She notes that this is remarkable given that these men came from very different gendered environments from the one we live in today, an era in which baking would have been seen as women's work.

Keryn has made a Christmas cake, and if you look closely at the photo composite Keryn has created, you might catch a glimpse of the man who provided the recipe, Keryn says she hasn't tasted the cake yet, but she notes that it looks juicy and delicious.


Telena Routh


Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is working on a scarf that was inspired by her trip to the coast last week.

She started with a fine layer of a sand coloured fleece, and then overlaid the colours of the sea. She wet and rolled the fabric to form a prefelt and then scattered seed beads across it. She laid an off-white silk chiffon over the top and pulled it into ripples to represent the waves and froth of the sea. In retrospect, she thinks a lighter a silk might have allowed more colour to come through, but the piece is not yet dry and it's hard to tell what the final effect will look like. Telena plans to stitch and bead into the felt to create more texture and she's going to mull over further options in the coming weeks. In any case, she's off to an excellent start with this beach-themed garment. Way to get us all thinking about our holidays.


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 renovating her house over the past couple of weeks.

She wanted to create a public bathroom to adjoin their writing room for ease of access during workshops, so she had her local handyman knock down a few walls to create this elegant facility. Today, Trish has created a small bathroom. Tomorrow, who knows? Watch this space if you dare.


Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, along with co-star Jacqui Dark, achieved a triumphant opening night this past week. Their cabaret show, Under the Covers, received rave reviews - here, for example - and Kanen reports that a couple of the reviews even mentioned the jacket he showcased here last week, draped, as it was, around the shoulders of their fabulous pianist, Daryl. Kanen wouldn't share that jacket with just anyone, so Daryl must be an awesome dude indeed.

Under the Covers was completely sold out and I understand the Bedfellows have received a swathe of bookings on the back of their successful launch. Get in quick if you want tickets to their next performances.


Georgia Bennett

Georgia Bennett is currently at the coast, enjoyed a well earned break. She had very little time to get creative before she left but, determined not to miss a week, she whipped up a quick batch of wholemeal peanut butter and choc chunk cookies to take with her on holidays. She was kind enough to leave a few at home to fortify me as I write this blog, which is greatly appreciated. Served with a nice beaker of tea, they're truly delicious.


Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been teaching all week, giving his students their last lessons for 2014. He made the last cabinet to go under our kitchen bench, but hasn't had time to do more work on the kitchen beyond that. To fulfil his creative challenge, he finished a tapestry loom that he's been making for Hannah over the past couple of months. It's a real hit with the birds. When he put it outside to take a photo, this magpie thought it was an excellent perch. Magpies have wonderful taste.


Scarlet Bennett

I haven't made nearly as many pieces as I'd hoped this year to give as Christmas presents. Nevertheless, I found a spare hour to make this sterling silver pendant.


I also spent half an hour experimenting with resin bangles. These bangles aren't finished - they still need their edges rounded and smoothed - but the resin has set enough to be photographed, at least. The blue bangle is part of my Bunnings Collection. It's made with galvanised steel wire, aqua mica and resin. The brown bangle is made with strands of horse hair and resin. Once it's finished, it will be on my arm before you can say 'who's the horse hair bangle for?'

Merry Christmas from the Creative Challenge team. We hope you have a safe, enjoyable break with your loved ones.

Week 13: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has really outdone himself this week. He's been working for months on this creation and he finally finished it this week, just in time for his opening night next Tuesday. He ran out of time to stitch sequins on the back - hardly surprising when you contemplate the amount of work involved in stitching them on the front - so he says he'll be performing front-on like a cardboard cut-out when he cranks out this little lovely. I shudder to think.

Kanens Jacket

The original colour is inside the lapel and Kanen's provided a photo so we can fully appreciate the extent of the transformation. He hastens to point out that it's his mum's arm we can see in the photo, reassuring us that he really hasn't had his nails done. Truly. And we all believe him, don't we?

Jacket Lapel

In the flesh (pardon the pun, the Bedfellows' performance is called Under the Covers and the joke was irresistible), the metallic red fabric paint is an amazing deep red and it's given the wool an almost paper-like feel which looks both derelict and fabulous at the same time.

This is an extraordinary achievement and it augurs well for the Bedfellows' performances next week. With this little beauty, Kanen has taken the concept of dressing for success to a whole new level. What an achiever. I'm applauding already.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been away on holidays this past week, leaving her felting studio unattended and idle at home. Undeterred, she's picked up needles and knitted countless squares. A veteran knitter, she knits in the car, she knits in the cold, she knits in the heat, she knits anywhere, any time.

This week she's made squares to sew into blankets, and she also started work on a vest that she'll put together using mitred squares - the perfect weight for autumn.

Telenas Knitting

With the sea gurgling away in the background, she played her saxophone to her heart's content while her husband entertained himself with his guitar. Holidays really don't get much better than this.


It's just as well Telena managed to squeeze in a break, because she has Christmas and three birthdays to get through before the New Year fireworks explode, and an Easter wedding to prepare for as well. Holiday? What holiday?

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 made a dish this week that's going to make you salivate your socks off. She celebrated Sinterklaas with her nephew and his Dutch girlfriend and sweet things were her contribution to the party. She made a plum tarte tatin using the preserved plums she shared with us last week, but she didn't get a chance to take a photo before the dish was devoured in its entirety. Hardly surprising. She's promised us another tarte tatin - complete with photos - in due course.

Trish also made Sarah Bernhardt Cakes from a recipe on Mimi Thorisson's blog. You really should check this recipe out. The cakes are quite incredible. And do check out Trish's blog to see more of her exciting food adventures.


In other news, Trish has been busy with some renovation projects and she's given us a sneak preview of some work she's been doing to make their office space more attractive and livable. Looking good, Trish. Bring on the next instalment.


Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, had another live gig this week. She played a mixed set of covers and originals at West Wodenfield Beats on Friday evening. As usual, her performance was awesome and she looked the business too.


She christened our new oven today with a delicious batch of chocolate chunk cookies. These really have to be tasted to be believed. They're just perfect.

Georgias Cookies

Georgia has also recorded another clip for her You Tube channel - this time, a cover of The Veronicas' Let Me Out. She had no end of trouble with her video camera, and it's still not working properly, but she persevered and got something usable in the end. I'm so glad she did. I love the way she sings this song and I'm very happy indeed to add it to the collection.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has created an extraordinary kitchen transformation this week. He's not finished yet, but we have a working kitchen again and that's something to be incredibly grateful for (preparing food on the washing machine was a perspective-altering experience, I can tell you). You may recall that last week our kitchen was gutted in response to a water leak behind the tiles. Depressingly, it looked like this:


This week has seen an incredible transformation - the result of lots of blood, sweat and, yes, the occasional tears. Our plumber and electrician have both done their thing, and the dishwasher and cooker are now installed. Steve has almost finished building the internal cabinetry and the jarrah bench tops are now in place. What a sight they are to behold. They've come up beautifully. Steve still has to make the cupboard doors and the panels that will conceal the internal melamine structure. Plus, as you can see, there's some tiling to do. But the kitchen is operational again and that's an enormous relief, especially at this time of year. We'd never have achieved a turn around this quick if Steve hadn't done all the work himself. Three cheers for clever, creative people. Hip hip...


Scarlet Bennett

We've been in survival mode this past week as a result of our kitchen re-build, and that hasn't left much time for creativity. I've been determined to make some progress with my Christmas preparations, however, and when the weekend arrived, I scurried into my studio to make a gift for a friend. You may remember a recent flower design that I made using galvanised steel in the first instance (to add to my Bunnings Collection) and then in copper and brass (see my Flower Collection). Well, I wanted to have a crack at making the design in sterling silver to surprise my friend at Christmas. I'm very happy indeed with how it turned out, and today I'm going to have the pleasure of wrapping it up.


With Hannah's help, I also got creative with the dogs. It's getting hot in Canberra and their haircuts were overdue. I don't even know how a professional dog stylist would do their hair, but we don't care how they look. They've been clipped, bathed and coiffed. They're cool and comfortable and I reckon they're cute as buttons. What more could you want? Obedience? Perish the thought. Give me intelligence and imagination and bold ideas any day. These adorable rascals have those qualities in spades.

Scarlets Dogs

Week 11: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, had great success at the North Shore Craft Group's Christmas sale last weekend. She wore the rust coloured felt dress that she made a few weeks ago, and she sold the red dress, the pink/purple dress, some scarves, some dreadlocks and also some of her felted Christmas baubles. She was very happy indeed with the result.


Telena spent an enjoyable day with her felting group this week, admiring new creations, chatting, planning a workshop for next year, and eventually getting on with some felting. She decided to experiment with texture, creating layers of fabric within the felting. She laid her fleece out over a length of black silk chiffon and wet it down, adding more silk pieces in differing colours and thicknesses. She manipulated them into ripples and pleats, and rolled the felt until the various fabrics were all attached. She then tied small glass pebbles into some areas of the collar to create a raised and gathered effect. She may also stitch into the felt to shape it even further later on.

Telena says that the technique she used is a type of Shibori, a Japanese form of tie-dying. There are many ways to stitch, bind, fold, twist or compress cloth for shibori, and different techniques can be used together to create even more elaborate results.

Telena plans to continue working on her piece this week, and she'll be unveiling the finished collar next week. In the meantime, she's included a photo of some small felt brooches that she's been using as closures on some of her garments.


In other news, the Christmas concert was a success. All Telena's student played well and the parents enjoyed her arrangement of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Telena is now the happy recipient of almost her weight in chocolate and wine. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has had a momentous week. Her house sold and she's been preparing for a big garage sale today - her least favourite activity in the entire world. She's had no time to be creative using her usual mediums, so she's put together some performance art instead. Recently, as she was wandering along taking photos, she found a life-size Barbie box in the middle of the road on a Sunday morning. Of course, the only thing to do under the circumstances was to stand in it. At six o'clock on a Sunday morning, what else could she do? So this week, Keryn is offering Sporty Barbie. She says, 'Believe me, I hate these photos of myself, but I'm desperate.' We've all had that feeling at one time or another when life gets between us and our creative deadlines. So please join me in giving Keryn a big round of applause for this creative effort. It's a funny, clever idea and a very cool creative contribution indeed.

Sporty Barbie

Sporty Barbie

Kanen Breen


Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been working on his costume for an upcoming Strange Bedfellows cabaret performance. He's had a huge week of Falstaff rehearsals in Melbourne, but the show opens tomorrow night so he's expecting to his life to settle down a bit after that, which is just as well because he says that he and Jacqui still have much to do cabaret-wise. The wicked, apparently, won't be resting.

They're in a lather on account of all the decisions that have to be made - what to wear in their show, how many costume changes to have, when to fit them in..let alone the arduous task of memorising all the lyrics.

Kanen made his life vaguely easier this week with a canny shoe purchase. The shoes are not a style he'd ever wear, but they look like slippers and that got his fingers twitching straight away. The price was right too - $10 down from $130 (where does he find these bargains?). The Strange Bedfellows show is called Under the Covers so Kanen's going for a raunchy pyjama-esque look, and these newly bedazzled slip-ons will fit the bill nicely. The gold paint is more subtle than Kanen would've liked, but it gives the slippers a kind of old-school antique look, offset by the flamboyance of the sequins and gold seed beads. His fingers are falling off from having to force a needle through the canvas, but what price fabulousness, he says. What price indeed.


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 had a busy week again, this time largely self-inflicted. She decided to make a start on some home decorating projects that will free up space for a guest room and also make their working space more comfortable. Expect to see photos and news of her decorating progress in coming weeks.

She did manage to spend some time whipping up masterpieces in her kitchen this week. Amongst other things, the dining table was laden with her delicious tarragon pesto of Week 8, whole roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, a whole baby tomato tarte tatin, and a tarragon and ginger roast chicken.

From her garden, she's been picking (and eating) green beans, broad beans, lettuce, sugar snap peas, rocket and radishes.

For her creative contribution this week, Trish made a slightly unusual spanakopita, and I've posted her recipe at the bottom of this blog. I'm going to try this recipe for sure. I have all the same greens in my own garden. Visit Trish's blog to see more of her exciting food adventures.


Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and songwriter, Georgia Bennett, has had a mixed media week. She got creative with polymer early in the week, creating this cute little character. He's really quite adorable and I'm told his name is Geoffrey.


She's also recorded another original song for upload to her You Tube channel. She wrote this song a few weeks ago to capture some of her high school experiences. It all comes flooding back. Nice work, Georg.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been meaning to sort out his workbench for ages, to reduce clutter and make his essential tools easier to access. He decided this was the week to do something about it. The first thing he did was to build a vertical storage space to house his two long wooden planes and a pair of winding sticks. Once that was set up, he was able to get rid of all the clutter. He put up a piece of MDF with a little shelf and positioned all of his most regularly used hand tools into their own spot on the board. He's very happy with the result and finds it much easier to work efficiently and keep track of all his tools. He says he really needs to build a tool cabinet to mount on the wall, and maybe one day that will happen, but it's a rather involved job that requires a significant investment of time. Maybe after Christmas.


Scarlet Bennett

I've been working on a commission this week. My challenge was to make a couple of classic jewellery pieces for a grandmother to give to her two granddaughters for Christmas. The girls are twelve and fourteen years old and I wanted to make them pieces that they'll love now but also still wear throughout their adult lives - remembering how much their gran loved them long after she's gone.

I ruled rings out early because their fingers will grow a lot in the next few years. Bangles and earrings seemed a bit insubstantial, so I opted for classic necklaces with handcrafted pendants, and I'm delighted with how they turned out.

The youngest girl is a fiery customer - confident and energetic with a strong personality. She's a brunette with brown eyes and she wears a lot of black as well as other strong colours. I designed a bold piece for her - no soft tones for this go-getter - using carnelian (which looks more red in real life than it does in the photo) and black onyx. I used an antique patina on the silver to make the overall effect more dramatic.

Sterling silver, black onyx, carnelian.

Sterling silver, black onyx, carnelian.

The older girl is quiet, shy, intelligent and reserved. More inclined to stay in the background than push herself forward. She's blonde with brown eyes and she tends to wear soft colours. I wanted a gentle, romantic design for her - a signature piece that she wouldn't feel too conspicuous wearing. This led me straight to rose quartz, which I think is just the right stone for her. The heart centre piece is a special touch that I'm hoping she'll love.

Merry Christmas girls.

Sterling silver, rose quartz.

Sterling silver, rose quartz.

Trish's Spanakopita Recipe

Fry four finely chopped onions in olive oil until very soft. Add crushed garlic and 3 finely chopped lovage stalks. Fry gently until soft and tender. Add seasoning and finely shredded greens mix - I used Swiss chard, pak choi, lettuce and mustard greens.

When wilted  mix in 3 beaten eggs, a handful or two of crumbled feta cheese, two big handfuls of finely chopped herbs - I used the slightly risky combination of  sage and tarragon. Season well. And then I mixed in shards of shattered olive toffee. (Don't ask - the unfortunate result of an olive jam making experiment - I have vast quantities of this available which I feel I have to sneak into a wide variety of unexpected dishes) Assemble by layering four or five sheets of  phyllo pastry into a baking dish, brushing with olive oil as you go. Then add the 'spinach mix' and another four or five layers of phyllo. Sprinkle with flaked almonds, pine nuts and sesame seeds. Bake at 180 Celcius until golden brown and heated through.

Week 10: Creative Challenge 52


Week ten of our year long creative challenge is already upon us and 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 pulled a miracle rabbit out of her hat this week.

The lead up to Christmas is a busy period for many of us and Trish is no exception. She worked seventeen hour days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to get some films finished. Two films have now been dispatched to the USA via courier and the remaining three are almost finished.

Trish also managed to finalise plans for Allaboutwriting's Venice Writing Retreat next September. There are some lucky writers out there with a fabulous experience coming their way.

Needless to say, with all this on the go, Trish hasn't had much time to create in her kitchen this past week. In fact, she says she's barely managed to put a piece of bread in the toaster. To stave off potential withdrawal symptoms, she's made a last minute dash for the finishing line with some preserved ginger in syrup. She's also used the ginger to make an invigorating ginger tea. Recipes for both these creations are posted at the bottom of this blog, and you can see more of Trish's exciting food adventures here.


Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been busy all weekend with the North Shore Craft Group's Boutique Christmas Sale, packing, labelling, setting up and then sitting back to enjoy the result and hopefully be kept busy at the sales desk.

This week she felted some beautiful scarves that can also be worn as wraps. They're very light-weight and floaty. She made them with silk chiffon and many different colours of fleece, which she cut into squares and laid out on the chiffon, which was then wet down and rolled around a pool noodle and then onto itself. The fleece felted through the chiffon, with one side vibrant and colourful and the reverse side revealing more muted tones. Telena loves the versatility of these two different effects. This form of felting with fleece on fabric is known as Nuno felting.


Telena also made some more dreadlock necklaces - I've included a photo of these that I neglected to post last week - along with beading some more of her felted Christmas baubles.


Telena finished her arrangement of the Queen of Sheba for two oboes and two cor anglais, and the piece will be performed at a school concert this week. Having accomplished that, she's now thinking about her Christmas cakes...

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has been flat out this week with a variety of different things while also juggling ongoing issues with her health. She's put this week's contribution in the 'season of small things' category, which by no means reflects its quality. Good things really do come in little packages in this case.

These first flowers are a mystery waiting to be solved - does anyone know what they are? Keryn's business partner, Remy, collected them while pruning a hedge. Four days later, they're still going strong.


Keryn has never seen blue roses before, so when she spotted these at the markets, she snapped them up. They've obviously been dyed somewhere along the line, and while Keryn doesn't usually go in for flowers that have been artificially enhanced, these are striking and they go well with her blue mirror. I reckon that's something of an understatement. What do you think?


Kanen Breen


Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been gilding the lily rather than having a full-blown creative seizure these past seven days. He's been working to a tight deadline to get his uniquely embellished robe and hot pants ready for a Strange Bedfellows photo shoot, squeezing his creative activities in between a full week of Falstaff rehearsals in Melbourne.

He reports that his fully amended robe and hot pants came up a treat in the shots, and he draws our attention, in particular, to: the fab chunky lace on the cuffs, to which he's added sequins; the red sequin trim on the inner front adorned with further lace to disguise his sloppy craftsmanship; plus the audacious pom-pommery and sparkles on the shorts.

Where creative bling is concerned, it just doesn't get much better than this.


Georgia Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, has had another enormous week. She had two drama performances this week along with her usual stream of commitments. It would be very fair to say that she's looking forward to the Christmas break.

In the meantime, she recorded an Ed Sheeran cover yesterday - a song that she performed live at a gig a couple of weeks ago. It's a great song with a challenging guitar part, and her live performance went down very well indeed. It's always good to impress the punters and she had that thoroughly covered.

Stephen Bennett


Stephen Bennett has enjoyed some woodworking time this week. His creative output was to finish a tool tote he started making some months ago. He had already made progress with some of the pieces cut out and shaped, so it was just a matter of continuing the process through to completion. His tool tote is made out of Western Red Cedar and he used hand tools only for the whole job. The challenge for this project was to learn to cut compound joints by hand, and he's quite happy with how it turned out. He now has a handy way to carry tools from the garage to whichever part of the house has fallen apart and needs fixing. Sadly, we've had a string of such minor domestic disasters in recent times, and it's fair to assume that his tool tote will get plenty of use.


Scarlet Bennett

I've made a few more pieces for my Bunnings Collection this past week. I started with a copper pendant made with aged copper, a zinc washer, a star washer and some galvanised steel wire. It's simple but it looks striking on.


I also made another cyberpunk pendant with a polymer red rose, galvanised steel wire, and a couple of washers. I set the piece on brass that I finished with red enamel and resin. I really like the flecks of brass that I've scraped back around the edges.


You really can't have enough flowers in your life, and I finished the week with a pastel painting to go with my rose pendant.


Trish's Recipes

Preserved Ginger

  1. Weigh your peeled ginger - and set aside an equivalent amount of sugar for use later.
  2. Slice into even sized pieces, disc, little nuggets or strips,  put into a pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer  for an hour or more until softened, topping up the water as needed.
  4. Once the ginger has softened, boil vigorously until the water is reduced and then lower the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
  5. Simmer the mixture until the liquid is syrupy. Could be for as much as an hour. I am at about 50 mins so far and it doesn't look ready. Hoping the result won't be toffee...
  6. Pour into sterilised jars
  7. Enjoy with cheese, use in baking or add to stir fries.

Ginger Tea

I boiled all the peelings with water and now have some very powerful ginger tea in the fridge. To serve, mix a quarter of a cup of the intense ginger tea with boiling water or pour it over ice and add cold water and mint.