(Because I’m capable of domestic arts that aren’t just cupcake porn, doncha know…)

(But don’t worry, there will still be plenty of that!)

Every year, one of the no-kill cat shelters in town has an open house, sort of a fund-raising/awareness/adoption drive.  They hold a bake sale, too, and put out the call for people to bring in baking to help the cause.  I try to make something tasty each year, and one year I recall phoning in sick to work so I could stay home and bake a few dozen cupcakes (I’ve since improved my time-management skills).

I wanted to do something just a little different this year.  Baking is fine, but homemade treats grow stale quickly, and what if they don’t sell?  Isn’t there something a little more tangible I could do?  Then it hit me: what about a couple of cute half-aprons?  They make the perfect hostess gift, and can be tied on long after the cookies have turned dry and crumbly.  I used fun faux-retro prints to keep things merry and bright, and had at ‘er.

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To make them, I measured an apron of my mother’s and drafted up a pattern of sorts.  They were really simple – I think I spent more time steaming my fingers with the iron than sewing – and generously-sized.  I’m not a skinny girl, but the ties wrap all the way around my waist back to the front.  The whole project would have been a great exercise in de-stashing, too (besides helping the homeless kitties), if I hadn’t gone out and bought fabric specifically to make these.  Next year…

I even made little tags with care instructions:

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But, you know, they did ask for baking and not for cute housewares, so I did bring something edible, too. My world  city  inner-circle famous Cuban Lunch candies, packaged and ready for giving, or just for enjoying yourself:

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Hopefully I’ll help them raise a few dollars to help the kitties…what a nice start to the holiday season!

A normal person would, much in the style of Charles Emerson Winchester III, do one thing at a time, do it very well, and then move on to the next thing.  My approach is somewhat more chaotic, and I have found myself with one Mother’s Day project on the go, one yet to be started (eep!), one baby sampler due early summer started, and one anniversary present due late June started.  Everything is slowly getting done, bit by bit, but thanks to my own special brand of multitasking, nothing is really getting finished.  Thank goodness for long weekends.

I did, however, manage to steal a bit of time to try my hand at homemade marshmallows.  These are not vegan, alas, as my experiences with agar agar have been somewhat unpredictable and I actually wanted these to work; if anyone knows a good gelatin-to-agar agar equivalency rate or other vegan option, I’d be thrilled.

That said, they turned out perfectly!  I used Alton Brown’s recipe (found here), although I used nearly 2 1/2 Tbsp of vanilla instead of the recommended 1 tsp to enhance the flavour.  They do get a little sticky if left at room temperature, despite the powdered sugar/cornstarch coating, so I’ve been keeping them in the fridge.

Some of them have extra “skin tags” because I cut them once in the pan, then turned them out and re-cut on the bottom, and some of my cuts didn’t quite line up perfectly – but that’s purely cosmetic.  I’ve never used a candy thermometer before or attempted anything quite like this, but if I can manage, anyone can.  They are vanilla-y, soft, and smooth, and I can’t wait to make s’mores out of these babies!

Oh, yes: Happy Nabokov Day!