1. A garden sundial
First, determine your latitude. This is essential, because sundial accuracy depends on it. You would not want to make a decorative but useless instrument. Then, gather scissors, tape, one banana or palm leaf, compass and a slightly stale Bundt cake (poppy seed works best). Build a small raised platform in the center of your garden. Bricks work well, but marble is also attractive. When platform surface is level, place Bundt cake in center. Then, fold banana or palm leaf at a right angle. Trim edges so that the triangular shaped leaf has clean lines. Use the compass to determine true north. Then, slice into northern end of Bundt cake and place the style carefully onto cake, being sure not to dislodge crumbs. Then step back and watch the shadow move across the cake. If it falls down the center of the Bundt hole at noon, you will know you have constructed a truly useful as well as decorative sundial. Smoke your weekly cigarette as you wait. Hold your son’s bb gun, to shoot at the birds that are swooping dangerously close to your creation. Remind yourself of the historical significance of sundials. Think about the swift passage of time. Plan your next garden party.
2. Matching travel pillows
This thoughtful gift is the perfect treat to slide into your husband’s carry-on case when preparing for your next vacation. First, determine where you are going. Black forest is romantic, but not recommended for overseas flights. Lemon is ideal – and enhanced by its delicate pick-me-up fragrance – for longer trips. Marbled pound cake works very well, even in coach class. When cake is cooked firm but not too dry, remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Pack your bags while the cake cools. Then, unroll four feet of cheesecloth, Fold cloth over and cut in half. Place cake on cutting board, and use a 10-inch chef’s knife to slice cake into perfect halves. Wrap each half in swath of cheesecloth. Bind ends of cloth with a staple gun, making sure edges are tightly sealed. Place in carry-on cases. Wait for husband. Wait for taxi. Wait for baggage check. Wait for seat row to be called. When you are seated at last, tell your husband you have a surprise. Slip Bundt cake neck pillow behind his head, telling him you made it just for him. Listen to him admire your handiness. Order two Bloody Marys before the plane takes off.
3. Decorative Elizabethan collars
For sheer color and impact, these whimsical delights are best made with a pineapple upside down Bundt cake. (Note: Martha always uses fresh pineapple, not canned). When cake is cooled, place top-down on a raised cake platter. Raise Bundt pan carefully, being sure not to smear the fragrant pineapple. Set one roll of strong, fray-resistant dental floss at your side. Have a drink to calm your nerves.
When you are certain your hands are steady, take about two feet of dental floss. Holding the floss in each hand, pull it taught and place it about one quarter inch below cake top. Keeping your hands even and taking care not to wobble, pull the floss through the cake, severing your selected piece. Remove the piece to a sheet of waxed paper. Repeat in one-quarter inch increments until cake is fully severed. When finished, decorate the rings with colorful oil paints, dried flowers or pretty bits of fabric – really let your imagination run wild. Be sure to leave the outer edge of the rings undecorated. Then, fold vintage lace around the outer edges of the Bundt cake rings. Be generous with the folds, as you’ll want to create a full, blowsy look. Glue in place.
When collars are fully dry, go get the cat. Put the collar on the cat, being sure to take advantage of this photo opportunity. When the cat bolts outdoors, gather your daughter’s stuffed animals, line them up, and place the collars around their necks. Admire the elegance of your design. Place them in the bay window for others to admire.