Friday, May 24, 2013

Spotlight: The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

I can't remember when I first learned to cross stitch, I just always remember doing it! I probably learned when my mom was working on this big americana sampler that we hanging in our hallway. I remember  what it looked like and watching her work on it so clearly, yet can't think what my first project may have been. I kind of equate cross stitching with knitting and crocheting. They are all cathartic in a sense, portable, able to be done while doing something else (you all know how much I love multitasking!) and can be set aside for as little or as long as you want, waiting for you to return. I always have a project going and it's so easy to pick it up whenever I need a break, have to sit somewhere for a long time, or just need to take my mind off of things. I even took one to Africa and worked a bit every night with a headlamp under my mosquito net.

For those who equate cross stitch with grandma, it's time to check out what it's all about these days! Don't get me wrong, fabulous vintage patterns have their place (finally starting my Mad Men deer by the way, remember that hunt?!), but the patterns being created these days are just too cute to resist picking up this craft, or getting back into it.

latte love by the frosted pumpkin stitchery

Today I want to introduce you to a couple ladies I recently discovered through the workroom, Amanda and Ashleigh of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery! This BFF duo creates cute, one of a kind cross stitch patterns for stitchers of all experience levels. 

Some of you who follow me on facebook and instagram have asked about the project I've been sharing (above top), which is the springtime sampler from the frosted pumpkin stitchery. Think of it as a virtual stitch-a-long! When you sign up during the sampler presale, you receive a color key and chart of all the sampler borders, then you receive  a chart every week for a month or so with the pattern for one row of the sampler.

You can follow along on facebook, instagram and flickr to see everyones progress as you go (above bottom). The Springtime Sampler was released in April and while many people have completed, I'm way behind — but it doesn't matter! 

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Their first seasonal sampler was a winter wonderland and they will be continuing with summer and fall, too. In fact, the presale for their Summer Sampler begins today!! It is on sale for $12.95 through the end of this month with the first full week beginning with the start of summer, which gives you plenty of time between now and then to get all your supplies and prepare your borders! 

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Some of their samplers are monthly, including their most epic pattern, the fruit of the month club (shown above)! There's no way I can pass this one up, but it will have to wait until after the move! This pattern was released before as a year long stitch along, but was recently re-released as an entire pattern which you can find here.

Another monthly sampler that is currently in progress is their woodland sampler (shown below). How adorable is that?! It's never too late to begin and get caught up! You can purchase this pattern at any time through the year and will receive the current and previous months initially, then receive each following month as they come.

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Want to learn more about the ladies behind the patterns? Read on!

Who is The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery?

The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery is Amanda & Ashleigh! We are two best friends!

Where do you currently call home?
We both live in Northern California

How long have you been operating?
Since 2011

Is Frosted Pumpkin a full-time adventure or do you have a day job?
Since the first of the year it's become our full time job! Ashleigh works at a ceramic studio on the weekends and Amanda occasionally designs quilts.

How did you come up with your shop name?
We both love sweets and fall- our dream baked good is anything with frosting and pumpkins!

What, if any, formal training have you had in the arts?
Ashleigh has a degree in graphic design, Amanda went to school for printmaking

"This is how we work: Ashleigh designs a chart (this is the full summer sampler!) and we set up camp at Michael's and pick colors!"

What made you decide to start your business?
We really loved to craft but it was hard to find kawaii cross stitch patterns!

Where do you sell and market your patterns? (you can also find some patterns on Kitschy Digitals)

Five things you love:
Amanda: I love Halloween, donkeys, camping, sock yarn & Porkchop!

Ashleigh: Road Trips, peach tea, my pups Zula & Panda, being crafty & Autumn

What is your favorite leisure time activity? 
Amanda: knitting socks!
Ashleigh: Crocheting or cross stitching

Favorite junk food?
Amanda: pickle chips! 
Ashleigh: Reese's peanut butter cups

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, with whom would it be?
Amanda: Hermoine for sure! She's my very favorite.
Ashleigh: I would have to say Tina Fey. I would love to be as witty and creative as that lady!

Share some of your favorite music 
Amanda: I alternate between the soundtrack to Animal Crossing, to Motley Crüe to Waylon Jennings. It really depends on my mood that day!
Ashleigh: Some of my favorites are Old Crow Medicine Show, Adele, Miranda Lambert, Billie Holiday and Mumford & Sons

What would you like to learn?
Amanda: I'd like to learn how to weave!

Ashleigh: I would like to learn play the violin (super random!)

What does the future hold for you and your creative endeavors? 
We are going to keep releasing new patterns, maybe an ebook! We have lots of ideas and hopes and dreams!

You can follow The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery on facebook, flickr and on instagram with hashtag #thefrostedpumpkinstitchery. You can also visit Amanda's blog, Hey Porkchop, for tons of other crafty adventures!

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So, are you ready to begin?! You can start with this FREE pattern of the Frosted Pumpkin mascots, Sugarloaf and Threadly, and sign up for the summer sampler here! Tell me, did I make a cross stitcher outta you? :)

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the Kitchen: Ham and Broccoli Shells with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

I've been hoarding recipes. I know, it's so selfish of me. My husband teases that I never learned to share because I was an only child, but what does he know. He is a boy, after all.

In all honestly, I've been trying to wait (impatiently) until I was out of my dark, poorly lit apartment kitchen and into my new, bright airy naturally lit kitchen so the photos could actually look appetizing, but it's just taking too long!

Since we're stuck here, packed and ready to go, with nothing else to do for the next three weeks, I thought I would put the time to good use and do a little much-overdo blogging! So, allow me to apologize for the ugly photos you are about to see, but I promise the deliciousness of the recipe will make up for it all.

This is one of those you-can-use-cauliflower-for-anything kinda recipes. Are you into those? You know, cauliflower rice, cauliflower tortillas. It seems to be the new world's most versatile food, but I might just be behind on the times as I usually am!

The sauce for this easy, oven-baked casserole is made rich and creamy without having to use tons of cream, sticks of butter or tubs of cheese, but by using pureed cauliflower. I personally guarantee (should I create my own seal of approval?!) that no one (especially your kids!) would ever guess what it is made out of.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
4 teaspoons flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces pecorino or romano cheese, grated
1/2 lb pasta shells
1/2 - 1lb ham, chopped
1 - 2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets 

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with flour, stirring to coat, then add milk and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 minutes. Be sure to heat slowly and stir often to avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg (don't leave this out!) and half the cheese. Puree until smooth in the pot with an immersion blender, or carefully transfer to a blender or food processor.

In the meantime while preparing the cauliflower sauce, cook the pasta until slightly tender but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Mix the pasta, ham and broccoli in a large deep casserole dish. I use about one full pound of ham cut into bite sized cubes and two good sized bunches of broccoli. 

Pour the sauce over top and stir gently to mix evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake until bubbly, 20 - 30 min. Broil for 2 -3 minutes to brown top and let stand for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

As I make it, this dish will easily feed six people (with a side dish) or a family of two to four at least twice. We have it with a side salad, if I'm feeling healthy, or cheesy garlic bread, if not :)

Though I have yet to try either, I see no problem with making this ahead and leaving it in the fridge for a day/overnight or freezing before baking.