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Mardi Gras and King Cake

Mardi Gras and King Cake

“King Cake: A party staple from January 6 through Mardi Gras day, the cake is named for the three kings who visited the Christ Child and whose feast, the Epiphany, is celebrated on January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas. Traditionally, the cake is a brioche pastry baked in a circle, suggesting a crown (although for convenience, large ones are oval). They are sprinkled with gem-like sugar crystals in the official Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. A plastic baby (symbol of the Christ Child), or in some cases a bean, is baked inside. By custom, the one who finds it throws the next king cake party. Lately, the brioche recipe has been supplemented by a coffee-cake ring alternative. French settlers brought the gâteau des rois to Louisiana in the 18th century. Their original round, flaky pastry pie filled with almond crème and topped by a paper crown, is now making a comeback in the French pastry shops around the city.” from New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau website

I’ve never been a big fan of Mardi Gras parades, but I love the history and lore associated with the holiday.  My particular favorite is the King Cake.  Just about every grocery store and bakery has their own special version with a variety of flavors ranging from plain (a little cinnamon) to Voodoo and Praline.  Heated discussions revolve around where to find the best King Cake in the state and everyone has a favorite flavor.  Natives lament the fact that the baby is no longer baked into the cake (liability now that they are shipped around the world, you know.)  King Cake parties are frequent so everyone can get their fill because these treats are only made from January 6 through Mardi Gras day.

Since I have celiac disease and food allergies, King Cake has not been on my menu for many years.  Each year as I run the gauntlet of brightly colored boxes stacked as high as my head and savor the rich aromas, I feel a little twinge of longing.   This is one of the few times I miss being able to eat something on my “bad” list.  I can watch dinner companions eat fresh bread, biscuits, cornbread and more without batting an eye but when it comes to King Cake, it’s another story altogether.  That all changed this year.  I learned last week that a local bakery/deli specializing in gluten-free, allergy friendly foods would be making King Cakes.  Oh Joy!!  I skated close to the deadline, picking up my special strawberry cream cheese King Cake yesterday afternoon, but I will eat King Cake this Mardi Gras season!   In honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to create a Mardi Gras/King Cake inspired Zendala.  The tangle Brayd fits my purposes perfectly as the dough of a King Cake is braided and decorated with Mardi Gras colored purple, gold and green sugar.  Add beads, a crown and masks and it’s Mardi Gras on my tile.  Now I am off to enjoy these last few hours of Fat Tuesday and my first taste of King Cake in years.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Heartfelt thanks to Eric at Truly Free Bakery for creating my special treat! 

Tangle A Day 2013Mardi Gras(unshaded) Rain, Socc, Print Temps

Tangle A Day 2013
Mardi Gras
(unshaded) Rain, Socc, Print Temps

Diva Challenge - Fengle

Spring is not the best of seasons.
Cold and flu are two good reasons;
wind and rain and other sorrow,
warm today and cold tomorrow.
~Author Unknown

Spring has certainly sprung.  I have been fighting a nasty case of the flu made even worse by the high pollen counts for about 10 days now.  We’ve also had an extended period of terrible thunderstorms, rain, tornadoes and flooding in south Louisiana for the past week.  Not the best combination of circumstances for creativity, but I’ve done a lot of tangling between naps and coughing spells.  Plus there was a conference call or two thrown in for good measure.  My Tangle A Day calendar is great for those!

Over the weekend, I tackled a few “projects.”  One of my favorites is a tote bag I have had for over a year.  I used one of the coloring pages from Sandy Steen Bartholomew’s new book Tangled Fashionista and I am so pleased with the result.  I wasn’t procrastinating, just looking for inspiration.  Shrinky Dink plastic was next on my list.  That stuff really shrinks a lot!  After a many false starts and rejects, I finally ended up with a pair of ZIA earrings that I would actually wear.  Plus my grandkids had a great time watching the stuff curl and shrink.

Rick and Maria recently published the instructions for a new tangle, Fengle in their newsletter.  CZT’s have had the instructions for a while now, so I’ve been practicing this one.  It is definitely a tangle that improves with practice, possibilities unfurling each time you draw it.  Laura Harms’ Diva Challenge this week is to use this new tangle, Fengle.  I took up the challenge on the first day of spring so color was calling.  I did several versions of the challenge, all with a bit of color.

Finally it’s Friday, the sun is shining and I am on the mend.  I have my shipment of Zendala tins and those lovely round tiles are calling to me… ahhh Spring!

Diva Challenge 54 - Purple Haze

“The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained.  By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if it is good, it is better than your youth.”  ~Marya Mannes, More in Anger, 1958

For some reason it seems someone, usually me, is always sick on my birthday.  This year was no exception.  I spent my birthday in a hospital waiting room.  My gift the successful removal of a blockage and gallbladder for my daughter after two days of tests and waiting for the “emergency” surgery.  I shared encouraging stories with a brother and sister waiting to see their mom, tangled a little and thought about life in general.  I was especially grateful that my husband resisted bribery for the gluten-free pizza he brought to the waiting room while I was in pre-op with our daughter for waaay too long. Hospitals are not very friendly for people with food allergies and gluten intolerance.  I hate cold food but that was the best cold pizza I have ever eaten!

I decided to use my Tangle-A-Day calendar by Carole Ohl to capture my “thoughts” for those days – particularly my birthday.  When I went to scan the images for this post, imagine my surprise to find my birthday week blank!  I know I was a little distracted, but I’m positive I tangled those days.  Oops!  It seems I tangled February 18 – not January 18.  Oh well, I know what I meant.  They say the mind is the first thing to go.

After getting through the year I was forty-nine, I was relieved to reach fifty.  It has been a year of exploration, understanding, creative growth and spiritual maturity for me.  I suppose that’s part of the reason this quote by Marya Mannes appeals to me.  I have come into who I am meant to be and I like this woman, even if she is over fifty.

Tangle A Day Calendar - my birthday is really Jan 18.

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