Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blue Screen of Death

Last night I was sitting on the couch, watching Big Bang Theory and knitting all snuggled under my new favorite blanket with my feet propped up and a cat in my lap when my dear partner comes over to say that the computer unexpectedly shut down and is now showing an error message. Wondering what virus my Dear has inadvertently invited into our system, I went to the computer to fix it and came upon something very different. This, my friends, is a stop error. Some refer to it as the blue screen of death.

I was able to save our pictures, documents, and (I think) our music; but the search for a new computer begins today. *sigh* And I was hoping to work on replacing my old truck this spring.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Michael and Kona

Michael, my long lost friend from Penn Valley Dog Park and the father of Kona, I hope you are reading my blog because we miss you and hope to see you bright and early tomorrow morning. Be there! (If not tomorrow then sometime soon. Quit avoiding us! :) Merry Christmas!

H&K and Harper

P.S. If Kelly did something to piss you off, I can make her apologize!

Kansas City Gypsy is now on Facebook

Kansas City Gypsy is now linked up with Facebook! I knew you'd be excited, too. Seriously, this is for those of you who tell me you can't remember the link. Now what is your excuse? Huh??

Have a happy, festive weekend, everyone!

English Toffee and Fingerless Glove Knitting Woes

Today is the final work day that all of my co-workers will be together before Christmas, so I decided to make English toffee for them. I have a tried-and-true recipe that my grandmother used every year at Christmastime. Of all the candy Grandma made at Christmas, her English toffee was my favorite.

          Grandma’s English Toffee

          1 cup sugar
          1 cup salted sweet cream butter
          6 oz. package semi-sweet real chocolate chips
          ¼ cup finely chopped pecans

          Line 15x10-inch jelly roll pan with waxed paper

          In 2-qt. saucepan combine sugar and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasion until candy
          thermometer reaches 300 degrees or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms brittle
          strands (25-30 minutes).

          Quickly spread into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over hot candy; let stand 5 minutes.
          Spread melted chocolate evenly over candy; sprinkle with nuts. Cool completely; break into pieces.

One of the things I like about this particular recipe is that the toffee never comes out hard. I know that toffee is supposed to set up harder, but I like it more when it doesn't. Each time I've made this recipe, I have carefully taken the mixture to 300 degrees, trying to reach that elusive stage of toffee-ness. Fortunately, I have never succeeded.

As I was making my first batch last night, I used unsalted butter for the first time. I quickly learned that is a no-no - the mixture completely separated and was ruined. The next two batches, using salted butter, separated a bit, but not so much that the end result is anything less than delicious!

Another project that I have recently picked back up is the elusive hunt for the perfect round knitting loom fingerless glove (aka arm warmer, aka wrist warmer, aka fingerless mitts). The results of my first attempt, following Lisa Clarke's pattern  here., were okay, but not exactly what I wanted. The yarn was all wrong and I wanted a longer, more luxuriant glove that would gather along my arm, reaching my elbow.

But instead of trying a different yarn, I tried a different yarn and different stitches. The results have been so hideous that I ripped out all of my attempts but the very latest. On this attempt I found that a very tight knit, purl, knit, purl pattern (there is a name for this stitch, but at the moment it just won't come to me) is a nice option, if a bit chunky, when done on the blue round loom.

Then I happened across this funky pair of mitts at Kohl's on Wednesday night and snapped them up, 'cause this dream has been so long in the making with no pair to wear yet, that I just had to have a pair to wear until I make my own.

More resolved than ever to enjoy a pair of my own making (cause, face it, this pair I bought, though cozy, is ridiculous. They were made for a 12 year old, I think. And who knows what will happen if I wash them - they're falling apart after one day's wearing.) I have come up with a plan for what will be my first pair of successful fingerless gloves. I'm going back to Lisa's pattern, same stitch, but I'm going to use a bulkier yarn, this Lion Brand Homespun in the color Regency.

I think it will work because it is super soft and a single strand will still give me some much needed textural interest. My one concern is how tight I should make the stitches, but I'll figure that out in the process.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wish List for Santa

Dear Santa,

Here is my wish list:

  • world peace
  • snow on Christmas Eve
  • more new episodes of The Big Bang Theory

You know how I have been reading crafty blogs and wanting so badly to make those cloth napkins over at Lisa Clarke's blog? Well, Santa, I've been held back from making those napkins because I couldn't find just the right collection of fabrics. I had to LOVE them, you see....and guess what!!?? I found it! I found the perfect fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop! It is called the Essence Fat Quarter Bundle by Sandy Gervais for Moda Fabrics.

Isn't it beautiful, Santa? And the linens I make will go so well in the kitchen and dining room.  And can't you just see yourself dabbing the corners of your mouth with one of these lovely prints when you stop by for our usual milk and cookies? Just follow this link to the Fat Quarter Shop. So, Santa, what do you say?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Lovely Weekend

Okay, first things first. I finally took some additional photos of the wreath. So here it is, albeit a bit dark in the photo:

It's beginning to feel a lot like the holidays around here. Snow should transform my neighborhood into an ethereal winter fairy land by the time I wake up tomorrow and I can't wait!

I started this post last (Sunday) night, but had so much trouble getting my photos from flickr that I decided to go to bed and try again today. Here is what I wanted to tell you:

What a weekend! After a Friday night trip out to Legends and a Saturday shopping trip to Hobby Lobby and Wal-mart, my holiday shopping is complete, though I have a short list of handmade items to complete. The kitchen is stocked with holiday yummies, like Shatto eggnog and Starbuck's Christmas Blend. We tried the Christmas Blend in the French press last weekend. MMMMMMwah! SO good!

Today, we attended the Kansas City Zoo Pancakes for Penguins fundraiser. For $8 each, we had Chris Cakes, Roasterie Coffee, a free photo with Santa (no photo, we bailed after being swarmed by toddlers), a reusable shopping bag featuring the Zoo's centennial celebration, as well as the opportunity to pet a real chinchilla. She was precious. The sea lions and the trumpter swans were out. And we had the opportunity to see the new baby blue monkey, Indigo. Many of the animals in the new Tropics exhibit were energetic and curious about the crowds. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday afternoon was dedicated to making a sweet holiday buffet for my dear partner's coworkers. We made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cup cookies,

and then played with the Wilton pretzel candy molds and Oreo cookie molds. This was the highlight of the afternoon. We are both new to making candy, so we had a lot to learn.

Like to screw on the lids to the squeeze pretty tight to avoid a green candy explosion. It was a blast, literally! Don't let the microwave in the picture mislead you. The candy is melted strickly by bathing the candy pieces  in hot water using these squeeze bottles. It was a lot of fun, and the results are cute.

After all of the fun in the kitchen was finished, I prowled around the house taking pictures.


Zeus was feeling particularly photogenic this evening.

He is a handsome little rogue, isn't he?