Filtering by Tag: landscape photography

Week 51: Creative Challenge 52

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, is in Paris, and she's taken the opportunity to take some photos while she's there.

Trish and Richard are staying in a gorgeous, but tiny apartment on the Ile Saint Louis, but they've had a lot of work to fit in and that hasn't left Trish any time for cooking. With extraordinary food on every corner, who needs to cook in Paris?

Paris photography
Paris Photography
Paris Photography

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has returned from a joyful family wedding in San Diego, where she spent time with family, went sightseeing, and drank quite a few margaritas.

Telena in San Diego

She took bamboo knitting needles, crochet hook and some wool to amuse herself on the plane, and she managed to knit and crochet a number of squares while watching seven movies over the course of two flights. She finds it easy to knit without watching what she's doing and she's getting better at this when she's crocheting, although she notes that she's a little slower.

Telena's squares

Telena had no opportunity for felting this week, but she's gathered some silk chiffon and fleece for a new project and can hardly wait to get started.

San Diego

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been the Jimmy Choo of Warragul this week. With three of the girls from the Remembrance tour green with envy over the ruby boots he made for Libby last week, he's found himself in hot demand. The girls trooped off to Target to buy some cheap shoes for Kanen to play with, and they put in requests for their favourite colours.

Kanen's shoes

Kanen says he spent no more than about 90 minutes on any one pair, although he notes that the pink undercoat didn't take to the faux leather very well, requiring four coats for even coverage. Each coat was completely dry within 5 minutes, however, so it didn't hold up production.

Shoe makeover

Kanen forgot to take a before photo of the blue boots (which were black), but he was quite taken with the blue leather paint, sans glitter, and he says he might whip up a pair for himself when he's home from tour.

shoe makeover

Stephen Bennett

Steve's scones

Stephen Bennett put on his chef's hat this afternoon to make a delicious batch of sultana scones to get us through the working week. He was a popular fellow indeed when they were sampled this afternoon. They're delicious!

Steve's scones

He's also shared some photos from a gathering of film photographers last weekend. The group sat around for a while talking about cameras, films, prints and the weather, then went their separate ways to see what they could find to photograph. The two buildings in Steve's photos were taken with a lens on the camera and the other two are pinhole (lens-less) photographs. Nice.

landscape photography
landscape photography

Scarlet Bennett

I've started working on some pieces to put aside for Christmas gifts, and I put together this choker set today for a friend who adores blue and butterflies. It's made with blue sky jasper, crystal quartz and sterling silver. It's not something I'd wear myself, but she'll love it.

blue sky jasper choker

Week 49: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has recently been in Orange and, while she was there, she visited Sassy Wines, a small boutique winery. The owner, Felicia, expressed interest in having some of Telena's textiles in the gallery at her cellar door, and she gave Telena a bag of mixed merino/polworth fleece to use in her creations.

Telena's felt scarves

Telena experimented with the fleece this week, finding that it created a softer felt than pure merino, and she's excited by the possibilities.

Telena's felting process
Telena's crocheted squares

She made two long skinny scarves, one with fleece alone and the other a mix of fleece and silk chiffon. Telena hasn't decided how she'll dye them yet, whether she'll eco-dye with leaves or aim for brighter hues.

Telena has also been making crocheted granny squares as she's going overseas and is hoping that a bamboo crochet hook will be deemed a safe travelling accessory by the authorities who determine what we can and can't take on flights.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, reports that the tedious events of last week (when Kanen received a homophobic taunt from a heckler in the crowd after he sang the national anthem at a nationally televised basketball match in Melbourne) have deterred his itchy glitter-finger not a jot! So he presents this week's dazzling offerings with a gay and defiant heart. Bravo.

Kanen's glitter tie

Kanen hasn't shared his creative process since he assumes that, by now, we're all too familiar with his methods. He did, however, experiment with a new technique that's turned out quite splendidly. He dropped into Riot Arts and Craft for a bottle of acrylic medium because he's been struggling with the consistency of the gorgeous Glitterlites paints he so adores. It's very thick in the jar and doesn't spread very well on fabric, requiring several coats to achieve uniform coverage. Kanen thought he'd see if it might apply more evenly if it was dispersed in an appropriate medium.

Kanen's painted boots

His hypothesis was resoundingly confirmed and he says this is an important development because the thinner coats allow greater flexibility in the finished shoe, which means no cracks or sparkle loss where the shoe bends with the foot.

Are we glad to know this, he asks. Absolutely! I'm loving those new wheels sick.

Kanen's shoe makeover

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 contributed a wonderful recipe for her contribution this week.

Trish and Richard have started the return journey in their narrowboat, Patience, to their mooring in Braunston and, as they travelled through various locks, Trish discovered a bounty of hedgerow fruit - apples, plums, elderberries, haws, blackberries and sloes.

Trish's hedgerow crumble

Trish has mountains of fruit still to process, but for now she's created a brilliant hedgerow crumble, and she's shared the recipe on her blog. Do check it out. It looks delicious. As does her greengage clafoutis below. Yum!

Trish's hedgerow crumble

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has nearly finished renovating the camera he started work on last week and all that remains is to secure the bellows to the frames. He's very pleased with how it's turned out and, with the hardest part of the job behind him, he's looking forward to finishing the task.

Steve's camera renovation

We're just back from a trip to Sydney, returning to Canberra via Kiama and Berry, to shoot a couple of marketing videos. Steve took every possible opportunity to grap some landscape shots while we were there. He took these photos in Manly.

Manly Beach

The next photo was taken in Kiama, and rest at Berry.

Masonic Temple Kiama
Berry

Scarlet Bennett

I've got two new online courses that will launch in the next couple of weeks and I wanted to make videos for each of them to include on my website.

These are substantial programs - roughly six months in duration - and, although they're both peak performance courses, the content is very different because the professional demands of each profession differ so greatly.

So...we went to Sydney to film a video for the Peak Performance for Performers course because we wanted footage with the gorgeous Sydney cityscape in the background. We filmed at dusk and into the night to capture the amazing view of the city lights. Steve took a photo to capture my creative effort.

Filming for Peak Performance Psychology for Performers

This morning we drove to Kiama for some ocean footage, and the weather just couldn't have been better. The rain held off, but the sky was blanketed in grey clouds, giving us fabulous, soft light to work with. It was a bit of a flying tour, but we got the job done and now it's over to Steve to put the videos together.

Video for Peak Performance Psychology for Writers

There wasn't much time for recreation on this trip, but we did manage a walk around Manly Beach this morning and a book indiscretion at some point on our journey was inevitable. The impressive thing is...I only bought one!

Manly video trip

Week 48: Creative Challenge 52

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has made a plum tart tatin this week and she's shared her recipe too. Read on!

Trish's plum tart tatin

Trish's Plum Tart Tatin Recipe

Melt some butter, sugar, star anise and cassia bark in a pan until it bubbles and is caremelised. Arrange the cut plum halves in circles in the pan and continue cooking until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Place a circle of puff pastry over the plums, tucking in around the sides. Bake in a hot oven until the pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven. Allow to stand for ten to 15 minutes and then loosen around the edges and invert onto a serving dish. Serve with yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Do check out Trish's blog to see more of her fabulous food adventures.

Trish's plum tart tatin

Trish has also done some landscape photography this week, working with a sunset theme, and her shots are gorgeous.

Trish's sunset photography
Trish's sunset photography

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, managed to carve out some felting time this week, in spite of a busy teaching and examining schedule.  She felted a purple felt lace scarf for a friend, while she was waiting for a student to arrive. She then managed to finish the piece after his lesson, while a curry was simmering on the stove. Telena wins the multi-tasking prize this week!

A few days later, she enjoyed some felting in the sun, making small shapes into brooches, while enjoying a nice cup of tea. 

Telena's felt scarf and brooch

Telena also finished the eco-printed top from last week, leaving it to soak for a few days in the iron water, then washing it out and drying it to reveal the final colours.

Telena's eco-dyed t-shirt

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is back in the tie game again this week, inspired by our illustrious PM and his draconian stance against marriage equality.

Victorian Opera asked Kanen to sing the national anthem at some basketball matches last night and he quickly decided that a glitter rainbow tie would be a fitting and fabulous protest whilst singing about the glories of our 'fair' and 'free' land.

He says the tie was straightforward if slightly time consuming to create (endless waiting for one color to dry before embarking on the next, and multiple coats required for even coverage), and the results most pleasing to his eye.

Kanen's rainbow tie

Kanen sang the anthems twice - first for the women's match and then two hours later for the men's. Both times were televised. The first time, the cameramen very artfully filmed him from the back and side, almost as though deliberately avoiding his fashion flair- most annoying, he says. The second time, however, they captured his full-frontal flamboyance, which prompted a redneck in the crowd to hurl homophobic epithets at him. Kanen says he expected this and couldn't have been less fazed. In fact, he found it strangely gratifying, because it meant that his tie must have been sparkling extra bright.

How gorgeous does he look is his finished creation? (The fans on Facebook were swooning).

Kanen's rainbow tie

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett’s offering this week is threefold.

Firstly, he found another unusual vegetable to photograph, and thinks he might try a series of root vegetables. They're bound to be gob-smackingly popular with the punters.

Steve's root vegetable photography

Secondly, he hauled his bones out to the front porch and weeded the little garden next to the front door that has been in serious disrepair for months. There's still work to be done as he plans to fertilise and touch up the paint work, but it looks heaps better now than it did.

Steve's garden diptych
Steve's camera renovation

Thirdly, he’s making slow progress with his 8x10 camera, but progress nonetheless. This week he managed to get the old bellows off the front and rear bellows frames, and clean them up ready to receive the new ones. He’s a bit nervous about this as he doesn't feel that fabric related activities are quite his bag, and he doesn’t want to ruin the new bellows. He also prepared a couple of new lens boards for his two 8x10 lenses. He had to cut bigger holes in the aluminium, clean them up, spray with matt black, and then mount the lenses and tighten them up with the lens wrench. They are both ready to go now and just awaiting the new bellows, at which point the whole apparatus can be reassembled.

Steve's camera renovation
Steve's camera renovation

Scarlet Bennett

I've been a busy little author again this week, churning out nigh on 15,000 words, while carrying a full-time workload. I've drafted two chapters for my crime fiction novel - and it's just reaching the point in the story where some seriously bad stuff is going to happen, so that's kept me interested all week - a complete module for one of my online courses, and a few articles for my Psychology for Writers program too. One of my articles is about how you can tell when people are lying, and I really enjoyed researching and writing about that topic. Don't try to get anything past me now! My beta readers have given it a big thumbs up, too, so there are a few new lie spotters in the world these days.

The demand for my online courses has been really pleasing and I want to take a moment here to thank all you kind people who helped spread the word. I'm delighted to be working with the fine people who've signed up for my programs, so thanks for letting people know about them.

I whipped up some earrings today, mostly so I'd have something visual to share for my creative contribution. I've never made hoops before, and I'm very pleased with how these have turned out. And I made the turquoise flower earrings because they struck me as just the ticket for an out-and-about Saturday. Flowers, after all, go with everything

Scarlet's handcrafted earrings

Week 47: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is showcasing a jacket transformation this week. He bought this jacket from Topshop, largely because it was on sale for $35 (down from $200). It fits Kanen like a glove, but is a shade too plain for his taste, so he knew it would need 'the treatment' when he bought it.

Kanen bought the sequined butterflies at a garage sale that "Sarah Jane", a local fashion boutique was having, and this week the garment and the sparkles have officially met!

He's sewn them on, but not rigidly in case further inspiration strikes. But for now, the jacket flies with him to Melbourne for another four week stint.
 

Kanen's jacket

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 indulging her passion for landscape photography again, with very successful results. She took these shots on the River Great Ouse just outside Ely a few nights ago.

Trish's landscape photography

Trish has also been busy cooking this past week. She's made red currant jelly and samphire, and she still has ingredients left to play with today. She's planning a busy day in the kitchen.

Trish's red currant jelly
Trish's red currant jelly

Trish created an extraordinary tart tatin using beetroot, along with some beetroot cured salmon, and beetroot greens and lentil soup. She's posted her recipes on her fabulous food blog. Do check it out.

Trish's samphire

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, managed to snatch some time between teaching this week to continue dyeing some scarves with leaves she collected on a recent trip to Orange.

She found a variety of different eucalypts, and bundled them up in an iron water dye bath. She soaked a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt in soy milk overnight because cotton reacts differently to wool and silk, and needs a protein mordent to help the dyeing process.

Telena's eco-dyeing

Telena laid out the leaves and rolled the fabric around a dowel. Then she boiled it for two hours in the iron water. She couldn't wait to unwrap it and is very excited by the result.

The shirt is still wet in her photo, and the oxidisation process will continue as it dries.

Telena's eco-dyed t-shirt

Telena also made a dye bath from some of the remaining eucalypt leaves (being careful not to use the ones that she knows give red/orange tones) to create dye her scarves this lovely colour.

Telena's eco-dyeing

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett is very excited and can hardly sit still this week because he's close to getting his 90 year old Century Universal 8x10 camera functioning, and he can’t wait to use it.

He had a functioning  Sinar 8x10 camera, but sold it a couple of years ago as it was too heavy and bulky to cart around. His friend Pete gave him this camera (a much lighter, more compact field camera), but it needed extensive restoration, in particular, a new bellows and carrying handle. The poor old thing is battered and scratched, as you can see, and is missing a couple of small mechanical items.

Steve's old camera

Good news, however. A new bellows has just arrived from China, and a leather craftsman in Canberra has made a replacement leather handle. So all that remains is to figure out how to fit the bellows properly, find a few alternatives to the missing bits, and put it all together again.

Steve's camera refurbishment project

The two photos below are 8x10s that Steve made with his previous Sinar camera at Bombo near Kiama. The rock formation is known as The Cathedral.

The Cathedral

Scarlet Bennett

I've written thousands of words this week, giving my forensic psychology manuscript a real boost. That creativity isn't ready to share, however, so I've put together a quick terrarium today. I planted it out in my trifle dish, which is sacrilege in one sense, I know, but it's been years since I've made trifle and the dish has sat in the cupboard for years, neglect and unused. I decided it would be better off serving some function, albeit an unconventional one.

Scarlet's terrarium

Week 43: Creative Challenge 52

Trish Urquhart, who runs Allaboutwriting, works as a documentary producer for Left-Eye Productions, and tries her best to live up to the title chef extraordinaire, has been exploring The Culinary Delights of the Riverbank this week. Do check out her fabulous blog. You'll be amazed by what Trish has made with the ingredients she collected.

If you've been following our year long Creative Challenge, you'll know that Trish and Richard have been travelling around the UK in their narrowboat, Patience. This has given Trish an opportunity to explore wild produce on their travels. She came across some blackcurrants at one of the locks yesterday, and created some delicious blackcurrant jelly with her find.

Trish's blackcurrant jelly

Traveling around the UK has also given Trish an opportunity to shop at a variety of different markets - just the ticket for a gourmet cook. This week she's made mushroom risotto flavoured with truffle cheese, beetroot tart tatin, and a beetroot and green lentil soup flavoured with sherry vinegar and smoked paprika. All in the little galley kitchen in their narrowboat. Very impressive! To see more of Trish's food adventures, please visit her fabulous food blog.

Trish's mushroom risotto

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, had a very busy and successful craft show last weekend, and she's enjoyed a more relaxed time this past week. She had a lovely excursion to Virginia Farm in Annangrove with a friend, where she bought some Corriedale fleece - a coarser fleece for more sculptural felting. Telena then spent another happy day teaching her friend to nuno felt so she could make some gifts to give to family on an overseas trip.

Telena happily knitted while issuing instructions, and her friend rolled and rolled and rolled her creations.

Telena's felting

Feeling inspired, Telena drew up a pattern and a resist for a sculptural form. She's been planning to create a hanging bird nest for the garden for a while now. She laid out the cream coloured Corriedale around the resist, and made a long, thick dreadlock to attach to the nest. She gently felted, taking care around the edges to avoid creating ridges. As the fabric thickened and shrank, Telena cut a slot and pulled out the resist. She then felted harder until the fabric was strong and dense. Telena plans to eco-dye this piece with some eucalyptus leaves once she's made a few more in various shapes and sizes.

Telena's felting

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is still in Melbourne rehearsing Sweeney Todd and the weather, he says is bitterly cold, wet and windy (reminds me of Canberra) - perfect for creating masterpieces indoors.

Original purse

A Sweeney colleague presented Kanen with an old purse for a make-over this week, after having admired his red and gold sparkly boots - as you do. Kanen says he loved the old, lived-in version of the purse, but she was gagging for some gold sparkle, so he humbly presents the new 'improved' model. He says there was very little work involved at all, but she loves it, and it's a project befitting a time-poor, very busy week of stage calls. Nice!

Kanen's purse makeover

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett's offering comes to you from the Blue Mountains this week. He took Hannah and Georgia to visit his parents in Leura for a few days. Amongst other things, the trio undertook the delightful Grand Canyon walk, fitting in a quick trip to Govett's Leap while they were in Blackheath.

Hannah and Georgia

Steve is pleased to announce that his Tactical 5.11 trousers were a huge success in the wilds of the canyon, but he was less impressed with his new Vibram soled outdoorsman shoes. He ventured forth into a frothing creek to photograph some small waterfalls, and unfortunately the grip of the Vibram sole didn't entirely match the slip quotient of the wet rocks, resulting in a bit of a tumble, a dinged knee, and wet socks. Fortunately, the water cooled feet were rather beneficial on the steep and unrelenting climb back out of the canyon, resulting in a springy and bouyant photographer reaching the top and motoring merrily back to base camp. Ah, the joys of the outdoors.

Banksia flowers
Grand canyon steps
Hannah and Georgia
Grose Valley
Mt Solitary

Scarlet Bennett

I've been working all day, every day for weeks now to get some online courses ready to launch on my website. The plan was to have the courses ready to go live on the 14th of July when my book is published. I'm going to make that deadline, but only by the skin of my teeth.

For this week's Creative Challenge, I'm going to share the link to my Psychology for Writers program, and the video I made as part of its marketing. If you have any thoughts before the page goes live on Tuesday, I'd be delighted to receive your feedback. Check out the content on this link: Psychology for Writers.

Week 42: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been pressed for time this week (ah, the trials and tribulations of a veritable cabaret legend), but he came up with a solution for a black satin shirt that he bought online, which arrived with sleeves way shorter than indicated. He took the shirt with him to Melbourne because it's perfect for the suit he wants to wear to his opening night performance of Sweeney Todd, knowing full well it would fall under the banner of Creative Challenge fodder.

Kanen's embellished glove

A quick trip to Lincraft, a quick and easy sewing job later, and we have the illusion of greater length if not the reality. Kanen notes that it's not a solution that would appeal to most chaps, but he's happy with a fringe or two to add a touch of interest.

Kanen's sleeve solution

He also found a glove with attractive lace-up detail in the gutter during the week (just the one, sadly), and he thought he'd glam it up a bit for some bedfellows action down the track. He says it's not his finest work, really, but it will look alright under lights and it kept him out of the pub, which is probably a good thing given his schedule during the week.

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 touring the UK on a narrowboat for the past couple of months, and they've really been seeing the sights. She and Richard left Oxford yesterday, and travelled as far as Thrupp village on their way to Cambridgeshire, via Braunston, on the Oxford canal.

Veg van berries

On Friday, Trish walked a couple of blocks from the boat to shop at a gorgeous veg van than moves to different locations in Oxford on different days. She bought some lovely berries - strawberries, tayberries and blackcurrants amongst other things. Trish and Richard had friends coming over for supper, so Trish made a blackcurrant marscapone sauce to go with the strawberries and tayberries. Here's her recipe:

Trish's Berries

Ingredients

250g blackcurrants, 100ml water, 50g sugar, 2 star anise, 4 bay leaves, and about 10 crushed black peppercorns, 250g marscapone.

Method

Place all ingredients except the marscapone in a pot and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the fruit is pulpy and the liquid has reduced and is syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Push the mixture through a sieve. Discard the solids and beat the blackcurrant syrup into the marscapone. Serve with strawberries and tayberries.

Trish also made a roasted cauliflower. She rubbed the cauliflower with olive oil and paprika, and roasted it in a hot oven until it was a deep golden colour. Yum! To see more of Trish's fabulous food adventures, check out here food blog.

Trish's Roasted Cauliflower

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been flat out this weekend at the North Shore Craft Group exhibition and sale. 

This week, she made some skinny scarves with beautiful sari silks embedded into fleece.

Telena's felted scarves

She made another waistcoat, this time using a lovely rich colour palette against the black fleece to create a stained glass window effect. Telena also made a collar using layers of felt and fabric in purple tones. And she found time to finish a felt lace dress that she'd started previously too.

Telena's felted waistcoat and collar

On Thursday, Telena spent the day putting together equipment and arranging all the beautiful creations of jewellery, pottery, leatherwork, studio glass, and an array of textiles, which included bags and woven and felted garments. Her plan was to find somewhere, after all that, to sit in the sun and enjoy a good book. Sounds like a plan to me.

Telena's exhibition photo

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has created a photo essay for this week's contribution, from photos he took along the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. A few years back, he was working regularly in Adelaide and he took every opportunity to go exploring with his camera.

Fleurieu Penisula

These photos were taken at Second Valley, the sort of place where you wish you owned a little shack you could stay in through the winter each year. His photos have all been shot on film, scanned, and tweaked in Photoshop for your viewing pleasure. Nice.

Fleurieu Peninsula
Fleurieu Peninsula

Scarlet Bennett

I've had a complete Creative Challenge wipe-out this week. It's not that I've been slack. In fact, I've done plenty of creative things. It's just that my creations have either a) been an utter disaster or b) fallen into the 'to be revealed soon' category.

In terms of future revelations, with Stephen Bennett as my trusty videographer and tantrum resolver, I've made two videos in the past week to promote some online courses that I'll be adding to my website next week. Steve's editing the curse words out of the videos as I write.

Mirror compacts

As to the disaster, well, that's still a painful subject. Having had such a successful pilot run making book-themed mirror compacts, I tried to make a sizeable batch yesterday for giveaways when my novel is released (only 9 days to go now!). The problem is, it's been bitterly cold in Canberra - a string of -7 degree nights followed by days with a top of 10 degrees - and, even with the heater powering away next to me, it's turned out to be just too cold for the resin to move and set smoothly. And the heat gun doesn't make up for the cold ambient temperature, either. So I now have a large pile of unusable mirror compacts that will have to be thrown out - I'll be lucky if there's a single good one amongst them. The consequences of this are:

  • wasted money and resources (which irks me no end)
  • time pressure to make more giveaways
  • and a complete Creative Challenge blowout

I was relying on those compacts!

Wandering around the house lamenting the fact that I'd become a Creative Challenge desperado at this late stage, with the finishing line emerging on the horizon (it's just ten weeks until our year-long challenge comes to an end), I was wracking my brains for a solution. What to do?

That's when my black sense of humour kicked in. Having scarcely sung a note in anger over the past decade, here's my contribution (one woman,  5 minutes - quite literally, I'm afraid), and you'll have to give me points for working the theme because that, I think, is its best feature. On the one hand, my current form is disappointing. On the other hand, I've always rather envied the clapped out rock chick sound. At last, it seems, I've arrived.

Back in the day, for the record, I made some half-decent recordings, and here's a link to prove it (the recordings are on my website to show that I've walked the talk when I launch my Goodbye Stage Fright online course next week).

'The years teach much which the days never knew.'

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Week 40: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been eco-dyeing again this week, chancing her luck with her outdoor cauldron between bouts of rain. She's become an expert, she says, in quickly assembling, using and disassembling her camping stove.

Telena's eco-dyeing

She's experimented this week on some silk scarves using mordents in the dye baths to create different colours. She also made some cream coloured felted scarves and dyed them with native leaves collected in her neighbourhood, along with a bunch from her florist to add foliage that grows in cooler climates.

Telena's eco-dyeing

Telena is enjoying her eco-dyeing project so much that she's decided to grow her own supply. She ordered 5 tube stock and, when the box arrived, she discovered that the nursery had sent her 20 little seedlings, 15 at no cost. She's pleased to have the extra because she's not sure how well the plants will do in the warmer Sydney weather, but she's going to try to find a chilly, exposed spot for them in her garden once they've grown a bit bigger.

Eco-dyeing plant stock

It's school holidays in NSW now, so Telena is hoping to have some extra time in her studio, playing with textiles and serenading the neighbours with her saxophone.

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been taking the nation by storm this week with his glorious partner in crime, Jacqui Dark.

You can't miss this celebrated pair - they're everywhere. The Strange Bedfellows cabaret (of their own distinctive creation) has been an enormous success and they're in all the papers. Here's a sample of the reviews that have been published in Melbourne and Brisbane in the last eight days.

They've been on the radio too, with notable sessions on ABC 774 Conversation Hour and Joy FM. The punters can't get enough of them.

Regular followers of this blog will have seen many of the costumes revealed for the first time right here as Kanen has stitched and glued and laboured over his uber-glitzy caberet creations.

The big question is this...what's he going to do next? Watch this space.

Strange Bedfellows taking the world by storm

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 traversing the Thames with Richard this week in their narrowboat, Patience. Trish has taken some gorgeous travel photos as they've journeyed, a few of which she's shared with us here.

UK Travel Photography
The river Thames
Roasted plum and onion relish

In her galley kitchen, Trish whipped up a delicious roasted plum and onion relish this week, and she flavoured it with chilli and star anise. She and Richard enjoyed it with cheese.

Trish plans to perfect this recipe further as she says she'd have preferred a little more sweetness. She's going to make it again and then she plans to share the recipe - a culinary delight for the rest of us to look forward to.

And she can keep the stunning photos coming too!

The river Thames

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been happily engaged in his landscape photography this week. He took these images at Wee Jasper at the foot of the Brindabellas, 80 kilometres north-west of Canberra. The water panoramic at the bottom is going straight to the pool room. I love it!

Wee Jasper
Wee Jasper
Wee Jasper

Steve also helped me today with an image that I wanted for my website. Who's the most adorable dog in the world, then?

Scarlet Bennett

book themed mirror compacts

This week I finished off the giveaways I started work on last weekend, for use by book bloggers when my novel is released on 14 July.

I wanted to make something a bit different so my giveaways are not all jewellery. And I wondered about some book-themed mirror compacts, but I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make the idea work.

I'm delighted with how my experiment has turned out. See for yourself.

Book-themed mirror compacts
Book-themed mirror compact
Music-themed mirror compacts

Week 35: Creative Challenge 52

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has created a sexy shoe makeover this week. 'Pinch me!' he says. He searched high and low across Melbourne's cobblers and shoe repairers this week for the lovely Glitterlites that he showcased in a recent shoe transformation but, alas, nobody had even heard of it. Nobody, that is, until his last port of call - a shoddy little shopfront run by the Rekaris family who were delightful and quite caught up in the passion of his search (he wins hearts everywhere he goes, our Kanen. The folks at Specsavers adore him.).

Kanens red shoe makeover
Kanens red shoe makeover

The Rekaris family hadn't heard of Glitterlites, but they advised Kanen to ring a leather wholesaling group in Flemington called Leffler, who supply most of Melbourne's shoe repairers and makers with their products. He rang them. He described. He held his breath. They said yes, they stocked all the colours of the rainbow with such casual indifference that Kanen almost thought he'd dreamt it. An hour later, he was standing in their warehouse trying to decide which colour in the spectrum he most desired. He says he was like a frat boy in a whorehouse for the first time. Oh dear.

Kanen ultimately decided that red was his top priority because he needs it to make a pair of shoes for Daryl, the Bedfellows' pianist. Daryl now wears, in their shows, the red sequined jacket Kanen made previously, so it only seemed right to queer him up even further, to match the Bedfellows' own peculiar brand of gildedness.

Next stop was the ZU shoe warehouse in Richmond to spend further $$$. He managed to pick up six pairs of shoes - $900 worth - for $120. 'Very me to go for one pair and come out with six,' Kanen says, 'but I'll live on two minute noodles for a month if I must!'

Daryl's brogues are a darker charcoal than the before photo suggests and, of course, the true magic of the glitter can't really be captured in its full sparkly magnificence, but Kanen says they look a treat in real life. He could have stopped at the 'undercoat' stage - not as shiny as his previous pink pair because he's painting on suede rather than leather - but the sparkles beckoned and won the day. One pair down, five to go.

Kanen's still in Melbourne and he says that shoe transformations are a great creative challenge option for hotel living, so watch this space. He says he planning something outlandish and sparkly next. Just for something different.

Keryn Clark

I write with sad news for flower fans. South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is working so hard at the moment that she's decided to opt out of the rest of our year-long creative challenge. She's indicated, however, that she may return briefly to show us how her backyard transformation ends up. Something for us to look forward to. If we're lucky, she might even throw in a flower arrangement or two.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been obliged to keep off her ankle again this week, and she's taken the opportunity to finished an unfinished knitting project.

This pullover started its life as a sleeveless vest for Telena's father, but remained unfinished when he passed away. She's attempted to finish it several times, but the timing somehow wasn't right.

The pattern had a pullover option and Telena found that she had enough wool to extend the project, so she busily knitted the sleeves and sewed the garment together. She says it's rather large on her, but she feels warm and cosy in it.

Telena's pullover

Last night, Telena and her husband went to a 1920s party, so Telena adjusted one of her long, black concert dresses to transform it, temporarily, into a flapper dress. She folded the extra length up on the inside and sewed it loosely to the lining. She then sewed some long black fringing to the now shorter hemline. She says it looked quite the business with a red feather boa, long red gloves, and a headband with feathers and a rose.

Telenas flapper dress

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 indulging her passion for togarashi seasoning. She bought a huge bag of cashew nuts from an Indian supermarket in a town they passed through this week on the way back to London on their narrowboat, Patience. She roasted the cashew nuts on a very low heat with olive oil, togarashi seasoning and salt, and then ate them as a snack while writing this blog post.

Roasted togarashi cashews

Trish has also included a travel photo she took from Patience last night. How's the serenity?

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett promises that this is the last instalment of photos from his Easter photographic trip to the Snowy Mountains. He's finished processing and scanning all the films and here are the final fruits of his labours - a highly productive and satisfying trip. When's the calendar coming out, I wonder.

Steves high country triptych

Scarlet Bennett

I started this week's blog with shoes and I'm finishing with shoes - sort of, in a sublime to the ridiculous kind of way. Where Kanen wins the style award, I'm hoping to win the comfort award. Well, daggy actually. I'm not too proud to admit it.

But the truth is, in winter, I get very cold feet, and I'm a relentless 'fixer' of problems, no matter how trivial.

I've been tinkering away with these slippers for a couple of weeks now. The crocheting took me no time at all. And the rest of the tinkering would be more accurately described as procrastination, because stitching up and cord plaiting are the jobs I least enjoy. At last, however, my masterpiece is complete. Do try to contain your envy.

Week 34: Creative Challenge 52

Stephen Bennett has produced some wonderful landscape images again this week. His tetraptych is of a ruined cattleman's cottage that he found at Shannon's Flat on the back road from Canberra to Adaminaby. There was no fence in evidence so he bowled up to discover he had the place to himself and then spent a happy hour exploring with his Hasselblad. It's just as well he did, because it's wet and windy in Canberra today - not a suitable photography day at all.

Cattleman's hut landscape photos

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is apologetic about this week's creation. In fact, he claims it's his weakest effort to date which, given his extraordinarily high standards, is hardly discouraging.

He's in Daylesford for Mother's Day where his sister also lives. He hadn't yet come up with any creative plan of note, so he was delighted to find that his uber creative sister, Keele, had fashioned a lamp together out of old bits of other lamps and light-fittings but had yet to tackle the plain, boring lampshade atop her masterpiece. He says he's not kidding when he tells us this dreadful effort (his words!) took him ten minutes.

The fabric is an old skirt of Keele's that he's stretched into place without cutting and then sewed in with the hideous bobble trim she bought for her daughter. Kanen says, 'it aint pretty, but I'll sneak over the line with it and aim for a more considered contribution next week.' I think he's being too modest by far. A Breen original is still a Breen original and this lampshade has a charming retro feel.

Kanens lampshade makeover

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has been frantically busy this weekend with Mother's Day flowers. Aware that she had no chance of contributing anything today, she submitted some photos earlier in the week, documenting her history in Perth.

This little house is where she first encountered her business partner, Remy, nearly twenty years ago. His twin brother is a hairdresser who used to work out of the house and Remy had his art works on display there too. That meeting set in motion a creative partnership that has lasted ever since.

Keryns house
Perth in transition - a photo journey

Keryn wanted to capture Perth in transition in her images. When she first arrived in Perth, Beaufort Street near the art school was undeveloped, but now the city has started to swirl around it. The little grey vintage shop is where Keryn had her first poetry framed, and Wall Candy was a source of inspiration, not to mention an endless source of furniture. Keryn has included a photo of her signature flower, the bougainvillea, even though she says that roses run a close second. Finally, the terrace houses have been overtaken by McDonalds and Officeworks. Keryn says she knew the person who owned one of them and he bought it years ago for $480,000. Imagine what it would be worth now.

Perth in transition - a photo journey
Perth in transition - a photo journey
Perth in transition - a photo journey

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been continuing her exploration of eco-dyeing this week. With all the recent storms, there's been an abundance of kerbside branches in her street, so she's had some fun foraging for suitable plant matter.

Telena has made a lightweight off-white felted wrap comprised of two fine layers of fleece over silk chiffon. After felting, she soaked it for a few hours in a bath of alum and water. She then layered it with leaves and gumnuts and rolled it around some dowel. She tied it and boiled it in a large saucepan with the addition of some bits of rust. She left it in the solution for four days to let the colours develop. As you can see, the foliage has left clear imprints - gorgeous.

Eco-dyed wrap

Telena has also made a felt lace wrap this week for the friend who was responsible for all the beautiful flowers at Rachel's recent wedding.

felt lace wrap

With winter approaching and several friends expecting babies, Telena has been knitting some gumnut hats. She's very fond of this pattern and the yarn is very soft and warm. They don't take long to knit so she now has quite a collection. Telena has damaged a ligament in her ankle so she says it's time to put her feet up and do some more knitting. Anyone expecting? There are hats to spare.

knitted baby hats

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 is still cooking up a storm on Patience, their recently refurbished narrowboat. She's written an erudite blog this week, featuring impressive words like revictual and gongoozler. If these words are as foreign to you as they were to me, check out Trish's blog here. You'll be able to impress the punters silly with your new words, and Trish's travel photography is awesome too.

Trish has also filmed a moody time lapse video from the boat. There's water, clouds and trains and a tangible sense of chill in the air. Love it.

Scarlet Bennett

My friend Kayleen came over for a jewellery making lesson yesterday and I taught her how to make a gorgeous silver cuff, which I then forgot to photograph. Just as well I'd made a small something extra - some cute sterling silver earrings to liven up a cold, grey weekend.

Sterling silver spiral earrings

Week 28: Creative Challenge 52

Telenas black felt dress

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has had an impressively creative week, particularly when you consider that her daughter's wedding is now just a week away.

Telena met with her felting group early in the week, and enjoyed a relaxing day felting around foam to create different bead shapes. Some of these remind Telena of sugared almonds. She's been playing around with various combinations and will make some creations with them soon.

Telena has also made another felt dress, this time in black. It looks stunning and sophisticated, creating a stained-glass effect when worn over colours.

Telena is hoping to find some more felting time in the coming week, but with rehearsals, teaching, Easter and a wedding, her schedule is looking rather busy.

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, is currently in Oxford attending Oxford Literary Festival events while managing her usual workload remotely. Trish has already attended a number of food related talks, and some with a connection to Venice/Italy (relevant to Allaboutwriting's forthcoming Venice writing retreat), and today she's hoping - weather permitting - to go on a literary walk.

Trish in Oxford

Trish has been busy with her camera, and her creative contribution this week is a collection of photos that she took in Oxford.

Trish and Richard will be spending a protracted period of time in Oxford while their narrowboat, Patience, undergoes much needed repairs - rust removal and a fresh coat of paint. Trish plans to photograph this process so we may get some before, during and after photos over the coming weeks.

Heralds in Oxford
Trish in Oxford

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has submitted an offering from his Flash Gordon/Iron Man collection this week.

These were (are) his all-time favourite boots, made from a really gorgeous soft leather. Unfortunately, Kanen helped a friend move house in them and squashed both of the toe caps under a couch he was carrying. The leather itself had an already distressed patina when he bought them so they ended up looking scruffy and sad very quickly.

Well, it's all too obvious how he chose to revive them, but his original plan to paint only the toe was as short-lived as it was optimistic.

Out of respect for the boots Kanen so loves, he actually did the right thing and pre-treated the leather, as well as stripping the wax and colour from it before using proper leather paint. Funnily enough, he says, when you do the recommended prep, the results are better, long-lasting, and easier to achieve - who knew???

As promised, Kanen wore his gold-lapel jacket to Jacqui's Aida debut last night, and it was a satisfying hit (he made a few additions that he'll share next week), but Jacqui was the real star of the night - fabulous. Bravi tutti!

Kanens boots

Keryn Clark

Keryns backyard

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, had a beautiful backyard in sunny Perth - check out this You Tube clip from last summer to see for yourself. The same, however, cannot be said for the backyard in Keryn's new Gold Coast home, and she's revealed all this week in a Creative Challenge photo exclusive.

The terracotta pots and the frangipani tree were given to Keryn a couple of days ago by a friend, out of pity, and because he didn't want them in his new white-marbled Hampton's style patio by the river. So...there's a tired frangipani, some chipped terracotta pots, a collection of hanging baskets, a gas cyclinder, some water tanks, and Keryn.

Keryns backyard
Keryns backyard

In a fit of gloom, Keryn has turned to her favourite gardening sites, which are Garden Bleu in Johannesburg, and Gardenista, a really good gardening blog. Between them, they are going to help Keryn transform her backyard. Keryn has created a mood board on the wall of her office in the shop using pictures from Garden Bleu and Gardenista and, so far, she's thinking of erecting a black fence around the perimeter, a wall garden to cover the tanks, a gazebo over the deck, and a pergola down the side of the fence with wisteria and lots of boxed greenery. She'll move the washing line into the garage.

Keryn has challenged herself to add something each week to her horror backyard with the intention of having a big reveal in the next few months. Either that, she says, or she's moving!

Keryns mood board

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett passed a happy half hour photographing the Comet Inn at Hartley Vale - a mid 19th Century pub - with his pinhole panoramic camera and his Hasselblad. Something weird happened to the bottom right photo, as the image isn't quite what he expected. He thinks he managed to both over-expose and double-expose the image, resulting in an unusual low-fi picture that he quite likes - a happy accident, perhaps.

Comet Inn Hartley Vale - Stephen Bennett photography

Scarlet Bennett

I found this lovely vintage ring in an antique shop yesterday - at an absolute bargain price - and it inspired me to try my hand at a design I've been contemplating for my niece, Samantha.

Samantha is a voracious reader with a particular passion for the classics, and she'll be celebrating her birthday in late April. Pride and Prejudice is one of Samantha's all-time favourite books, and when we were discussing classic P&P quotes recently, she told me that this is her favourite: [Charlotte Lucas] 'Mr Collins tends the gardens himself and spends a good part of every day in them...I encourage him to be in his garden as often as possible.'

I've been working on a design to feature that quote in a vintage piece with a classic, aged feel. Here's what I've made. I'm very happy with how it's turned out and I'm hoping Samantha will love it.

Pride and Prejudice pendant