Filtering by Tag: travel photography

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 39: Creative Challenge 52

Elder flower tea

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 very mobile this past week. She and Richard have covered serious ground in their narrowboat - heading from Waltham Abbey on the Lee Navigation to Limehouse Basin, back to Paddington Basin for a couple of days, and they are now on the river Thames at Clieveden.

This, of course, has left little time for creativity, but Trish made a gorgeous brew of elder flower tea this morning, with flowers that she picked along the river bank. I love the composition of this photo with the water in the background. It's just lovely. And Trish has been indulging her passion for travel photography too, with impressive results indeed. The photos are of Paddington and Limehouse Basins.

Trish's travel photography
Trish's travel photography

Telena Routh

Telena's eco-dyeing

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, achieved some wonderful results at her eco-dyeing workshop last weekend, and this has sent her scouring the neighbourhood for suitable trees. She walks with her eyes focusing skyward on the colours and shapes of the gum leaves and tries very hard not to trip over in the process!

Having already felted some small and large wraps, Telena laid down a variety of leaves, rolled, bundled and tied them up, then put them in the simmering dye baths, eagerly awaiting the results. She also dyed some silk scarves. One of the lovely side effects of a eucalyptus dye bath is the aroma.

Telena dyed the orange coloured pieces in a cinerea dye bath and the grey pieces in an iron dye bath. She's delighted with the results. And who wouldn't be? She says she thoroughly enjoyed the whole process and can see herself happily brewing on the camping stove in her backyard. Telena intends to continue using regular dyes, because she loves brightly coloured fleece, but plans to make eco-dyeing a regular part of her repertoire too. What a fabulous addition to her toolkit.

Telena's eco-dyeing
Telena's eco-dyeing

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been in Brisbane today for a matinee performance of the Strange Bedfellows cabaret spectacular, and he's en route to Melbourne tonight for more of the same. He'll be rehearsing and performing in Sweeney Todd for Victorian Opera too, while he's there. The man is unstoppable.

No description could do Kanen's contribution this week justice. He's outdone himself. He created this sequined suit to wear to Strange Bedfellows shows in Adelaide. It was a labour intensive project and the effect under lights, he says, was quite spectacular.

Kanens cabaret jacket

Here he is wearing his masterpiece. If you look closely, you'll recognise his shoes from a previous creative challenge. And if you're a particularly ardent Breen fan (aren't we all?), you might even sense his deft hand at work in Daryl's crimson shoes.

Strange Bedfellows in Adelaide

This week Kanen also put a lick of Glitterlites over the top of a previous effort. They're now so over the top, he says, that he can scarcely cope - too much fabulousness for the human foot to bear.

Kanens Glitterlites boots

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been a very kind soul this week, devoting his creative challenge time to a project of mine.

I have a suite of online courses that I'll be releasing on my website in July, and I'm busy preparing materials for them. The courses will all be supported by audio and video files, and today I wanted to make a guided relaxation recording for one of my programs.

Steve set up a little mini studio for me this morning in his dark room (the only room in the house with any potential whatsoever for quiet) and I recorded the voice over. He then worked on the soundtrack to get the levels and balance right, then put it together with some royalty-free music in one of his software programs. Thank you!

Scarlet Bennett

Pearl and sterling silver earrings

Jewellery giveaways for my forthcoming book blog tours are still at the top of my list of creative priorities. This week I made some more earrings and also a couple of pendants. I love these pendants and Steve's photos are just wonderful. And I've started work on some book-themed pieces for next week that just might tickle your fancy - if I can bear to part with them, that is.

Yellow jasper pendant
Inca rose pendant
Pearl and sterling silver earrings
Black onyx and sterling silver

Week 37: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been knitting up a storm this week, and she has a new striped jumper to prove it. She started knitting this pullover a few years ago before putting it aside and she's happy to find that it still fits.

telenas knitted pullover

Telena says she loves knitting and creating but finds the stitching up boring, so after all her hard work some creations take a while to reach their finished form. In this case, the colours were singing to her and she could hardly wait to get this piece off her knitting needles and completed. You won't miss her wearing this, she says. No boring beige for Telena.

Telena has also raided her rather large stash of wool and she's picked out some colours in a different palette for her next project. The weather's certainly cold enough for lots of woollies now.

telenas wool stash

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is back in Sydney for all of six days before heading west to Adelaide - ample time to gussy up this rather plain IKEA found object, he says.

kanens cupboard makeover

Kanen had borrowed Jacqui's car a year ago to drop something off in Potts Point and he came across this piece in his apartment building's communal dumping ground. He squeezed it into the boot and dumped it in the garage of horrors from whence it was plucked a couple of months ago to replace a rather gorgeous vintage sideboard in Jacqui's kitchen that had finally succumbed to age.

IKEA furniture is cheap, hardy and practical, but not really to either Kanen or Jacqui's taste aesthetically, so it's been a prime target for some creative challenge magic ever since.

Kanen never needs much of an excuse to go and visit the Wallcandy wallpaper shop - and, in particular, its El Cheapo off-cuts section - so he says it was lovely to spend an hour or so there during the week with the gorgeous girls, discussing all things paper and thumbing their amazing sample books. They all agreed, apparently, that they're better than porn!

The actual 'doing' on a job like this is minimal. A bit of measuring, a bit of blade and ruler work, and a bit of wallpaper glue and you're done. Kanen likes the fact that, due to the reflective nature of the paper, the rather gaudy pattern becomes lessened under light (natural or electric) so that from certain angles you don't see it at all, yet from other perspectives it proudly declares its full 1970s appallingness.

You may notice evidence of Jacqui's birthday celebrations in some of the photos. Kanen says he did the measuring and cutting while drunk, so it's miraculous it came out as intact as it did. That man can pull a creative rabbit out of his hat rain, hail or shine.

kanens cupboard 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 had a hugely busy week. Exploring the British canals in a narrowboat is not all beer and skittles, you know.

trishs cooking

Trish and Richard left Paddington Basin yesterday, and after a six or seven hour journey, are now docked in Limehouse Basin. It was a grueling day after a stressful working week, and Trish was grateful to look out over the inky black water at the reflected lights at the end of it.

Nevertheless, ever the creative, Trish still managed to exercise her artistic spirit. Firstly, she made a fabulous raw courgette pasta. It's based on last week's togarashi recipe and she's calling it her three step, low carb, raw pasta. If you'd like to make this yourself, here's the recipe:

Step 1: Microplane the courgette and marinate it in a dressing of lemon juice, lemon rind, olive oil and garlic.

Step 2: Make a cooked creamy sauce. Trish used shallots, bacon, aubergine and cream.

Step 3: Add goat's cheese coated with togarashi.

Trish's other culinary creation was rhubarb with sugar and togarashi and served with creme fraiche. Yum! Never one to blow her own trumpet, Trish observed that both dishes were sublime. Coming from her, that's high praise indeed.

Trish has also indulged her passion for travel photography this week and she's shared some pictures of Limehouse, which she took on her phone.

Oh, and she'll be cross with me for mentioning this, but it's her birthday today, so please send her your birthday regards!

trishs travel photography

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been busy with some woodworking this week. He's been working on a job that he's been meaning to get to for a while.

steves new music stand

His singing teaching set-up needs constant tweaking, and the music holding facilities above his keyboard have been somewhat inadequate. This week he devised a music stand with greater display capacity along with an improved retention strip along the bottom to accommodate thicker scores, and with hinges attached to the CD shelf so he can lift the stand back when he wants to gain access to the keyboard control display.

He says his new set-up is a big improvement and he's very happy with the result.

steves custom made music stand

Steve also went out with Georgia today and did the videography on her latest You Tube clip. She sang while he recorded and their biggest challenge was traffic, which kept passing and interrupting them at inopportune moments. It took a few takes, but they got there. I'm so pleased she recorded this song. I love what she does with it.

Scarlet Bennett

Continuing on with the project I started last week, I've been working on some jewellery giveaways for my forthcoming book blog tour. I made a few new pairs of earrings this week and Steve has kindly photographed them for me. The Heart of a Rose earrings below are one of my all-time-favourite designs. I sometimes make them with pearls. This time I made them with sterling silver and rose quartz.

Heart of a Rose earrings

I also made some earrings with amethyst, rose quartz and sterling silver. They're long and dangling and not what I usually make, but I quite like them.

amethyst and rose quartz earrings

I embarked on a project yesterday to make something special for a friend. She's never worn pearls before and I wanted to introduce her to the sheer joy of wearing them. I started by making her a necklace with freshwater pearls and sterling silver, and I added an adaptable centrepiece for maximum versatility. The silver centrepiece will allow her to switch pendants around depending upon her mood. I gave her a gorgeous silver heart to wear when she only wants pearls, and I've called this design Pearls with Love.

Pearls with Love necklace

I also made her a black onyx pendant for days when she wants more of a vintage look, and in this iteration I'm thinking of it as Pearls with Everything.

Pearls with Everything

I'm working on a smaller pendant to complete the set and I'll have that ready in time for next week's creative challenge.

In the meantime, I'm absolutely loving this pearl design and I'm thinking I'll have to make some more. Pearls are like flowers. You just can't have too many in your life.

Week 36: 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 exercising her keen artistic eye this week. She and Richard are currently moored at Paddington Basin, and Trish has been walking through Paddington Station in her search for interesting culinary provisions. She looked up, yesterday, and noticed the elegant steel scaffolding above.

Paddington Station

Trish took shots with her phone from a few different angles, and she liked the location so much she intends to go back with her camera.

Paddington Station

Having captured her masterpieces, she then got inspired about food. She ducked in and out of a couple of supermarkets, then she rushed back to the boat to make supper with Richard for some friends. She was so inspired she even managed to dash out a quick blog post. Check it out here. You'll be hard pressed to find more creative ways to use togarashi seasoning. The roasted peaches with vanilla, cognac and togarashi seasoning look simply amazing. Yum!

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, is still obliged to keep off her injured ankle, so she's been finishing some longstanding projects to make the most of her enforced immobility.

She's been working, this week, on a pullover she started a few years ago, a project which stalled when she couldn't decide how to finish the neckline. She decided to move away from the striped pattern she used for the body, opting for larger blocks of colour on the sleeves to achieve a quirkier look overall. The pullover isn't quite finished yet, but Telena's hoping to have another warm woolly to wear by the end of the coming week.

Knitted pullover

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, promised us more of his signature glitzy shoes last week and, as always, he's delivered in spades.

Kanen says he's tres happy with the sparkly little quickie transformation he's executed this week on another $20 pair of Zu shoes - gorgeous soft lambs wool lined suede, down from $120. He's the king of the bargain as well as the king of glitz.

It took Kanen an hour and a bit to jazz up these shoes, with a trusty hairdryer by his side to cut down the drying time.

Shoe makeover

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett's creative offering this week is a light-tight addition to a drawer for his friend Pete, whose darkroom Steve build a couple of years ago. Pete often comes up with little modifications and Steve is happy to oblige where possible. This drawer makes it possible for Pete to store open packets of light sensitive enlarging paper ready to be grabbed and stuck under the enlarger. It's a real time-saver in the darkroom and something Steve might just add to his own darkroom one day.

Darkroom drawer

Scarlet Bennett

My novel will be published on 14 July, and it will be going on a global blog tour as part of its marketing. It's customary to provide giveaways for book bloggers to use as prizes in competitions they run for their readers. There will be book giveaways, of course, but I've also agreed to make some jewellery to add to the mix. That's going to be my creative challenge for the next few weeks.

I'll be making a variety of pieces - some classic sterling silver with semi-precious gemstones, and some book themed pieces like the Pride and Prejudice pendant I made for my niece recently.

Today I made some earrings. This pair is made with turquoise and sterling silver finished with an antique patina. These earrings are reminiscent of American Indian craftsmanship.

Earth goddess earrings

I also made a pair using freshwater pearls and sterling silver. I never, ever tire of pearls. They lend a timeless elegance to just about everything.

Pearl earrings

This is a good start, but I need more, much more. Watch this space to see what I add to the booty.

Week 33: Creative Challenge 52

travel photography in the UK

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 working wonders in her small galley (narrowboat) kitchen this week.

In addition to profiting from her obsession with tagaroshi seasoning, Trish has created a wonderful new recipe - spiced clementines preserved in honey and cognac. These look really fabulous, and if you're as tempted to make them as I am, check out her Clementines in a Cauldron blog where she's posted the recipe.

Always the productive creative, Trish has also added some new travel photos. They make me want to pack up stumps and head straight to the UK. You're a bad influence, Trish!

Spiced clementines

Kanen Breen

kanens shoe makeover

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, is absolutely flat chat at the moment. The Bedfellows are strutting their stuff at the Vanguard, and Kanen is flying to Melbourne early tomorrow morning - no rest for the wicked, clearly. But he's found time to indulge his shoe fetish this week with a truly spectacular makeover.

Just when he thought he'd produced the gayest pair of shoes in Christendom, along came a little product called 'Glitterlites - flexible glittercoat', and he was born anew, trembling like a six year old girl playing with her first My Little Pony doll. He knew that this stuff existed, but it's an American product - pretty expensive to import - and Kanen wasn't sure it would be worth the expense. Imagine his delight to find it, quite by accident, at a shoddy old cobblers in Bondi Junction.

'God bless America,' he says. 'It's brilliant! And you can anticipate a whole new range of camp footware when I return from Melbourne.' Too exciting.

It's advisable, apparently, to match the glitter to a similar background colour, so Kanen painted a pale pink undercoat with leather paint and he says he could honestly have stopped at that point because the shoes looked so smooth and shiny. He then added the Glitterlites, which painted on as smooth as silk.

He's loving these shoes sick now, and desperately hoping to finish another longer-term project to combine them with in time for the opening gala concert at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Can't wait to see that. These sparkly new wheels are really something, aren't they?

pimp my shoes

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, is having this week off to celebrate a milestone birthday. Happy birthday, Keryn, from the entire creative challenge team! Another year young with your happiest, most creative years ahead of you. See you next week.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has decided - after going through her wool stash - that she really ought to join woolaholics anonymous. But she's decided, instead, to de-stash and put some of her bountiful collection to good use.

Going through her stash, Telena's eyes fell on some lovely gold bobbly wool and, as she pondered its fate, she thought of a young lady at the gym whose favourite colour is yellow. Telena knew she'd love it, so she's spent much of her spare time this week knitting a scarf and hat for her gym friend's birthday next month - even knitting on the ferry en route to work.

knitting on the ferry

Her next step is to try and muster the courage to donate some of her wool collection to a deserving cause or person. Good luck with that, Telena.

Telena has also fitted in some felting time this week. She's made several prefelts with the idea of creating a sculptural collar. She layered different colours of fleece to achieve this, and as she sews, felts, and cuts away streaks, the different shades will be revealed.

knitted scarf and hat

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett has been a photographic creative again this week

The photos in the triptych were taken using the Kershaw Eight 20 Penguin camera pictured. He found it in a junk store and paid peanuts to add it to his ever-growing collection of old cameras. It takes roll film and produces 6x9cm negatives It's a very basic camera, and quite clumsy to use, but it works just fine and is a worthy addition to his collection. As you can see, he captured some lovely shots with it.

Kershaw Eight 20 Penguin camera images

Steve created a diptych with a couple of pinhole photos that he took in Boorowa last Sunday for Worldwide Pinhole Day. He used the big old box camera that takes 8x10 film and has no lens on the camera, just a tiny, half millimeter pinhole to form the image on the film plane. Miraculous.

pinhole photos for worldwide pinhole day

Steve also took a lovely portrait of Lucy and Hannah yesterday, taking advantage of Lucy's trip home from Sydney. Gorgeous girls.

portrait photography - lucy and hannah

Scarlet Bennett

I've been in my jewellery studio again this week, completing a set of pieces that I've been incrementally adding to.

I'd previously made a cuff and ring (pictured) with sterling silver and green aventurine, and I wanted a pendant to complete the set.

green aventurine cuff

So I made a vintage style pendant and I'm just loving it. All I'm missing now, it seems, are some Breen-esque shoes to complete my ensemble. Too much? Never!

Green aventurine pendant

Week 32: Creative Challenge 52

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh, has been interested of eco-dyeing of late, creating pattern and colour on her textiles with plants and flowers. After her daughter Rachel's wedding, she thought it would be lovely to take some of the flowers and eco-print her a silk scarf.

Telenas eco-dyed scarf

Telena soaked two silk scarves in water and vinegar, then cut off flowers and foliage and arranged them on one of the scarves. She laid the other scarf on top, followed by a cotton sheet, then rolled it up around a piece of dowel, tying it up securely.

Telenas eco-dyeing

Unfortunately, Sydney's recent bout of wild, unseasonal weather delivered a two day power cut, which meant that Telena had to wait until power was restored before boiling the scarf in a large saucepan with some added alum as a fixative.

She's quite pleased with the result because she wasn't expecting the purples to print well, but she's a little disappointed with the results of the roses and leaves - a likely consequence of the power outage delay.

Telena called one scarf 'finished' at the end of the dyeing process, but felted into the second using the colours and shapes of the bouquet. Rachel is pleased with the keepsakes from her bouquet and that's the most important outcome from Telena's point of view. Telena has also pressed some of the flowers in a flower press made by her husband Peter. A talented family!

telenas pressed flowers

Trish Urquhart

Trishs galley cooking

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 skillfully applying her craft in the small galley kitchen of their narrowboat, Patience.

Trish and Richard are currently enjoying a sojourn in the UK, and Trish has been blogging about their adventures. This week, she's shared some cooking news and a great recipe - check it out here.

Trishs galley cooking

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that Patience has recently been revamped with some necessary repairs - rust removal and an external re-paint. Trish has photographed the transformation. Whose is the smartest looking boat in the fleet then?

narrowboating in the UK

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has been making a spectacle of himself this past week. Jacqui asked him to bedazzle a $39 pair of Specsavers glasses for her and, whilst he was at it, he finished off a couple of unfinished symphonies for himself.

The gold pair were an earlier effort that Kanen worked on during our 30 day challenge last year - they were red in their past incarnation - but he wasn't happy with them so he re-did them for Jacqui's Aida opening night - all glitzy and gold to match her jacket.

The pink pair were Kanen's first ever attempt from last year using glue and glitter, which were super flashy but very clumpy. They now have about twenty coats of clear nail varnish over the top to smooth out the look and make them less exfoliating to wear.

Kanens glasses makeover

Jacqui's green and red pair speak for themselves, and Kanen says they're his schmickest job yet, because Specsavers are so familiar with him now, and so amused by his efforts, that they left the lenses out so he could 'work his magic' without any fear of schmutzing the lenses. That's just too funny for words.

Kanens glasses makeover

Keryn Clark

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, flew in and out of the Sydney storm last week, and has been flat out ever since.

She had to retrieve a flower order that was delivered to the wrong florist in Tweed Heads, she requoted on a corporate job, and she had to get all her Mother's Day orders in too.

Keryns flowers

Never one to rest on her laurels, she's re-decorated the shop this week The formal arrangements are her business partner, Remy's, work but the concept is Keryn's and she also did the heavy lifting, dragging the furniture and props around the shop until she was happy with the new arrangement.

Keryns shop fit out

The accounting project Keryn was working on last week is still a work in progress. She's moving across to MYOB and has had to re-input all of the last three month's worth of work - ugh! It doesn't bear thinking about.

Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Day, and Stephen Bennett and his friend Pete headed off to the towns of Booroowa and Dalton with their large format pinhole cameras for a feast of photography.

Dalton pinhole photos

Steve's camera is an 8x10 inch format, and Pete's is an unusual 4x10 inch version. The weather was ideally cloudy with soft light, and they both came home with light hearts and some shots in the bag.

pinhole photography
pinhole photography

Scarlet Bennett

I've always loved making hats, even though I rarely wear them. It's an annoying quirk.

On a roll from the past few weeks, I've been knitting some more hats and scarves. On particularly cold days, I might even wear any that I don't give away. This set looks lovely on Georg.

Knitted scarf and hat

I also had a lovely creative hour today playing around with make-up to help Hannah find a new look. With such a gorgeous model, it's hard to go wrong.

make up transformation

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

Week 22: Creative Challenge 52

South African born writer, florist and cake whizz, Keryn Clark, has some very exciting news this week. The new Gold Coast florist shop that we've been hearing about, Bloom in Design, is open for business! Here, for your enjoyment, is Fourteen days in the life of Bloom in Design.

Keryns Finished Shop Fit-Out

What started out as a vague idea as Keryn sat at her computer in Perth a mere four months ago, suddenly took shape and became real. Today's photo journey starts with a blank room on the Gold Coast, after Keryn and her business partner, Remy, took ownership of this space on 1 February.

Keryn had analysed the specs from the plans she'd received by email and she knew what needed to be done when they moved in - after five days they opened their doors.

Keryn's job is concept, planning, promotion and knitting things together, and for the last few months she felt like she was pushing a cart up hill. Then suddenly the shop came together and it was Valentine's week. What a great time to open a florist shop.

At the beginning of the week, they didn't even have a flower supplier. In desperation, Keryn found a grower in Sydney on Facebook and phoned to ask if he shipped to the Gold Coast. The answer was 'yes', so she ordered a shipment of flowers two days later, which he promptly sent to Brisbane, a hundred kilometres away from Bloom in Design. One courier and $300 later, they had flowers.

Keryn made a You Tube video, which she had to learn to do very quickly, to promote the opening...

Their website, which is currently just a placement page, comes from an arrangement Keryn photographed before they left Perth. She liked it so much she sent it to their graphic designer for use as part of their brand. Next came set-up of the social networking sites, which Keryn has linked to the website. She's been bombarding them with photographs ever since, trying to establish a social media presence.

But the real joy in this project came for Keryn on Valentine's Day when four out of five of her own arrangements sold within a couple of hours. She hasn't historically been known for her floristry skills, although she has trained as a florist. Remy, her business partner, usually gets the accolades while Keryn hides in the back room doing something essential but boring. She was allowed to play on Valentine's Day and was very happy to sell her arrangements.

Keryns Valentines Day Flowers

Keryn also did flowers for two restaurants as a marketing exercise, which netted them four customers.

And finally, realising that they were overstocked as a result of not yet knowing their market, she drove to their local supermarket, which had been under-supplied with flowers, and sold twelve assorted arrangements which were gone within thirty minutes. All this from staring out of her window in Perth, playing with arrangements on her kitchen table, and taking photographs of them because she was bored.

Keryns Flowers

Congratulations Keryn and Remy. It's a beautiful shop.

Telena Routh

Classical oboist and textile designer, Telena Routh's week began with the promise of some spare time for felting, but everyday life somehow got in the way. She started the week by making some felt balls to be used in future jewellery projects.

Telenas Felt Balls

Having seen one of her felting friends felt around a teapot several years ago in a workshop, she's always thought it would be a fun thing to do, with a beautifully insulated teapot a further attraction. Telena cut strips of prefelt in different colours and wove them around the teapot. After wetting down with soapy water, she gently rubbed the surface. This proved more difficult than expected as some areas were awkward to felt around. With much perseverance, the fleece began to felt and shrink around the form of the teapot. She felted a little cap for the teapot lid (how cute is that?), and she thinks she'll felt the teapot cover further in the coming days. For now, she's off to make a nice hot cup of tea.

felting a teapot
Telenas Felted Teapot

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 sharing her culinary talents with her daughter Maria this week.

Maria has secured a job making petit fours for a restaurant in Johannesburg, and she was due to deliver her first batch this week. Trish pulled an all-nighter (with other family members also forgoing sleep) to act as kitchen hand and assist with the preparations. Maria's petit fours were a big success and now that Maria has fully developed her recipes, Trish thinks she'll manage the workload independently in the future.

Trish and Richard are in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo this weekend, staying with their friend Merle of Barok, and Trish has taken some nature photos for her contribution. They make me want to down tools and head straight outdoors.

Trishs Lichen Photos

Kanen Breen

Opera singer and Strange Bedfellow, Kanen Breen, has given in to temptation and declared his creative challenge The 52 Week Shoe Challenge. And it's just as well, because his amazingly glitzy shoes just keep coming.

He needed these shoes, he said (and we all believe him), to go with the opening night shirt he purchased, but in the absence of any craft store that he could locate, he's pleased to present his first Zara/reject shop creative hybrid. The original Zara shoe was $20 down from $90, and only had appeal because of the silver leather around the edge.

Shoe makeover

The transformation was achieved with craft paint and glitter, all secured with hair spray. The shoes were quite a hit on opening night, although Kanen expected them to be trashed by evening's end. He was wrong. They're rock solid and can now happily take their place in his regular rotation. So now he has new shoes and a new technique up his sleeve. Expect to see more hair spray spectaculars in the future.

Kanens shoe transformation

Georgia Bennett, Stephen Bennett

Singer, guitarist and song writer, Georgia Bennett, enlisted Stephen Bennett's help for her creative contribution this week. You may remember from last week that Steve has embarked on a project to develop his video production skills. And Georgia has been keen to improve the quality of her You Tube recordings. They joined forces this week to see if they could improve on the results Georgia's been getting with our very basic set-up. They've achieved a great result - far and away the best yet.

Georgia also made some stunning treats by playing around with the raw, organic chocolate recipe she posted a few weeks ago. This time, she made peanut butter cups and also some delicious mint chocolate. The chocolate was very rich last time, so we added blended macadamias to the basic chocolate recipe to give a creamier result - a trick inspired by reading the ingredients on a variety of raw, organic chocolate bars - and it's a real improvement. Neither of these creations is going to last long around here.

Georgias Chocolates

Scarlet Bennett

People who know me well know that I'm far from a last minute wonder. I always like to prepare for deadlines in advance. But this week, that turned out to be impossible and I had a real scramble to the finishing line. I woke yesterday morning with no creation even underway, and the obvious solution was to attempt something with a Valentine's Day theme. I made this bold heart using polymer, black onyx, a dried flower from my garden, and resin. It's not finished yet - I'll make the edges sharp once the resin is properly set, but it's an interesting piece that will look really good with the right outfit.

Valentine's Pendant

As is always the case when you're incredibly busy, all sorts of other things demand attention. We're absolutely drowning in garden produce at the moment and I'm determined not to waste a morsel. So this weekend's cooking output has included: pumpkin soup, crumbed eggplant, Afghan eggplant curry, Italian tomato sauce, and fig jam. I also made a double batch of banana, walnut and cinnamon muffins and some delicious nut loaves for the freezer. A nice, productive weekend all round.

cooking with garden produce

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 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...

KanensHat

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.

CoastPhotos

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.

Crust

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.

Filling

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.