Trollbeads Inspiration: KT’s “Big Pink”

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IMG_0327Today’s bracelet is just mouthwateringly beautiful… it brings to mind an old fashioned and totally scrumptious cake that I make every Spring, called “Big Pink”…

It’s super fast and easy to make, thanks to it’s classic 1950’s convenience food approach, and it makes wonderful use of the

IMG_0322abundant rhubarb that grows in our garden.  We like this cake so much, we sometimes even run out of our own rhubarb and have to buy more at the store!

Big Pink Cake

Serves 12

For the yellow cake:
 1 cup sugar
, 1/2 cup butter
, Yolks of 4 large eggs, beaten, 
1 cup IMG_0328milk
, 1 teaspoon vanilla
, 2 cups flour
, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 
1/2 teaspoon salt.
For the rhubarb layer:
3 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
, 1/2 cup sugar, 
1 package strawberry Jello, 
3 cups miniature marshmallows,
1/4 cup powdered sugar, 
vanilla ice cream (for optional garnish… as if ice

IMG_0318cream is *ever* optional at our house…)
Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. First make the yellow cake batter. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, milk and vanilla until fully mixed. Finally add flour, baking powder and salt to the mixing bowl and

IMG_0323mix until fully combined. Set aside.
Evenly distribute the rhubarb on the bottom of the greased baking pan. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar and contents of one strawberry jello mix onto the rhubarb. Layer the

IMG_0321marshmallows on top of the rhubarb as evenly as possible. Lastly, pour the cake batter over the entire surface of the rhubarb/marshmallow. It’s okay if a few marshmallows poke through, it will be a thin layer of batter.
Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the cake is set. Allow to cool and sift the powdered sugar through a strainer to dust the top of the cake. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

C.

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Trollbeads Inspiration: Tulips

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DSCN7386Tulips are one of my very favorite flowers, and always a welcome sight in the garden this time of year.  Here on the West Coast we are blessed with fantastic tulip conditions, with a winter that is cold enough to induce the flower to re bloom, and summers that are warm enough to satisfy the bulb’s need to keep its feet dry for a time.

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DSCN7389Species, or wild Tulips are native to Turkey and are the understated distant cousins to today’s highly bred descendents.  First hybridized during the Ottoman empire, tulips were introduced to Europe by an ambassador who sent bulbs and seeds home to Vienna in the 1500s.  It didn’t take long for this dramatically different

DSCN7384flower to capture the imagination of the passionate gardeners of the time, and by the 1590’s it was unbelievably fashionable in the Netherlands to collect these gorgeous plants.  You can imagine why the newly wealthy merchant class was entranced by these beauties – no one had ever seen such saturated colour and drama.

DSCN7380During the heat of the “Tulip Mania” that followed, intense cross-breeding created a vast multitude of appearances and colours of the plant, and fortunes were made and lost by selling, investing and speculating on these plants.  At the height of the mania, a desirable bulb could sell for many times the wage of a talented artisan.

DSCN7385It was the original economic bubble.  However, the lasting effect of this time is a thriving business that to this day is a significant element of The Netherlands’ culture, and of course, an ever growing vast variety of tulips for us to enjoy.  Plant them in the Autumn before first frost, and enjoy them in April – or simply pick up a pretty bunch and savour their fleeting beauty in a vase….

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Trollbeads Inspiration: Flowering Blackcurrant

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FloweringCurrantHave you seen the Red Flowering Currants in bloom yet?  They’re one of my very favorite early spring perennials… they bloom madly right now, in perfectly   complementary colours… juicy raspberry and rich emerald green.

In my Mother’s amazing garden she had an enormous bush, right in the middle, that practically dwarfed the little apple tree nearby.  It’s a valuable early perennial, not only for it’s beauty, but also for its ability to catch the eye of hummingbirds, who are back DSCN6262from their winter holiday, and looking for good spots to settle in for the Summer months.  If they find a good food source early in the season they might just stay close… and it’s such a treat to have a hummingbird family in the garden!  They love red and deep pinks and can’t resist DSCN6263stopping for a little snack.

The reds and pinks of this bracelet are so delicious and juicy that they could easily tempt a peckish hummingbird!

A recent shipment of Universal Uniques has an DSCN6260extraordinary array of colours and patterns… So many in demand designs:  flowers, pythons, ferns, chess patterns and even creatures!  (Stay tuned for adorable turtles…)  Cristi immediately made up a few “Eye candy”  bracelets to share with our blog readers.  We’ll photograph them all individually and pop them all online tout suite…

DSCN6259The new floral silvers such as “Blossom” and “The Messenger are excellent companions for these luscious raspberry pinks.  Cristi also selected “Transformation”, which is just how the early Spring garden feels…

DSCN6258Isn’t this one gorgeous?  Raspberry and metallic gold is a decadent combination, and the scarlet “Chess” pattern in the background just takes it over the top.  The red is picked up by several other beads in the composition, including the two shown above…

DSCN6255This “Rosa Pearl” is so warm and golden, it just glows in the center of this bracelet.  Its warmth enhances the golden highlights of the metallic uniques as well.  The petite, unique next to it is delicately pretty, and scaled just right for the pearl.

DSCN6261These two beads just flat out make me happy.  The cerise flower at left is transparent, delicate and a masterpiece of detailed floral expression.  The python at right has a magical combination of raspberry and brilliant red that just sings!  It gives the effect of hot pink, but with a warm cast that feels downright spicy.

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Clockwise from clasp:  “Small Flower Clasp”, “Universal Unique”, “Universal Unique”, “The Messenger”, “Universal Unique”, “Universal Unique”, “Mom’s Bouquet”, “Universal Unique”, “Rosa Pearl”, “Transformation”, “Universal Unique”, “Bouquet of Flowers”, “Universal Unique”, “Universal Unique”, “The Messenger”, “Universal Unique”, “Small Core Unique”.

DSCN6256Wishing you a lovely weekend… hopefully we will have some sun and be able to enjoy the Spring flowers as much as the smart hummingbirds!

C