Thanks to CRAFT NAPA’s Preeminent Sponsors!


I am so excited. BERNINA of America and Meissner  Sewing have come on board to help sponsor CRAFT NAPA 2016 in January!


Meissner Sewing is providing sewing machines for student use, and also generously donating a brand new sewing machine for our premiere wine blending event: Blend Your Own Vintage Night!  At this event that promises a lot of laughs, participants will be put into teams, and a sommelier will help guide the teams to create a unique blend. Judges will then select the favorite blend, which will be bottled overnight, and all participants will take home a bottle of CRAFT NAPA wine! (And one lucky participant will win a new BERNINA sewing machine!)

Wine logo


Meissner will also have sewing machines for sale at CRAFT NAPA at a very reasonable price,  so if you’ve been thinking about getting a new machine, here’s your chance! They will also have  the  BERNINA Q 24 long arm on hand to play on during the entire retreat and during open sewing times.

I am really excited with how this retreat is coming together! For more information on CRAFT NAPA, mosey over to the Craft Napa site to learn more!







What Shark Tank, a Bacon Alarm Clock, & CRAFT NAPA Have in Common

I recently started to see a trainer again; heck, these old bones aren’t getting any younger, and as I get up in age, it’s important to keep these bones from breaking, so I am making this investment in myself.

I have different fitness goals than my trainer, though; I want to be able to drink wine and eat fries without gaining weight…whereas she is a competitive body builder. She works very, very hard at what she does, and we have had some quality discussions about our career paths, what it means to follow your passions, and the hard work it requires to see them through.

Years ago, my trainer,  armed with her law degree, worked in family law for a length of time, and also did some contractual work in the wine industry. But she knew that a sit-down job at a desk all day was not where she wanted to be; she longed to be somewhere else, to do something else, to be someone else. So she went back and got highly schooled in fitness, and nowadays helps people (like me) beleive in our strength.

I am fueled by passionate people. I want to surround myself with folks who get very animated talking about what they do and how they spend their days…whether it be a trainer,  a longarm quilter, or someone who runs a non-profit to help homeless youth. I am inspired by people who not only have a passion for what they do, but are willing themselves to do the hard, non-glamorous, often gut-wrenching, worrisome work to see that vision through.

Like many dreamers, I watch a lot of Shark Tank– you know…the show filled with a panel of hosts with fat pockets and listen to the pitches of regular Joe Schmo’s with Big Ideas, to see if these dreams are worth investing in.


Some of the pitches on Shark Tank are hilariously bad…but I give my hats off to them for trying! Check out this top 10 list of the worst pitches. (My favorite that makes me cry with laughter every time is the Wake N’ Bacon Alarm Clock!)


An alarm clock that alerts you when it’s time to get up AND cooks bacon. What a way to wake up!


It made me think…wouldn’t it be hilarious to have a showing of “Scratch-n-Sniff” quilts? You know…like scratch a quilt patch and you would get the aroma of BACON!?! I mean come ON! It’s bacon!!!

Well, maybe not. Some ideas–upon a couple seconds of reflection–are bad.

But if you think you have a hunch (and it is an educated hunch with a heaping spoon of prudence)… I say go for it. If it works GREAT. If it doesn’t, then learn from it and move on.

And that is what I am doing. I am going for it. I am investing in building my little art barn, my headquarters for several creative enterprises down the line, but also in case you had’t heard, going to launch a new creative, intimate retreat in Napa called CRAFT NAPA next year.

For Pokey's Ponderings


I was very honored when I asked some of my artist friends to come teach for this retreat, and they all said YES. It is going to be a fun few days of creating during “Cabernet Season” in Napa Valley. (Here, they don’t call it the Slow Season…it’s Cab season when you pour yourself a nice cabby and enjoy it fireside.)





I will definitely still be hanging out on this blog, sharing my thoughts, ideas, and others’ works, but I am spending a lot of time over on the new site, I hope you will join me there, maybe even sign up for the e-newsletter if you want to hear the latest offerings.

Here’s to following your dreams,


Thermofax Screen Printing on Paper & a Giveaway

I have been thinking for a while now how I could promote my business, and one idea I had was to screen print cards with the rendering of my art barn. I have written a lot of blog posts over the years about Thermofax screen printing on fabric, but I have historically had minimal success on paper; I often end up with blurred imagery.  However, I was really glad I was able to watch Lynn Krawczyk’s brand new DVD,  Thermofax Screen Printing Essentials because she had some fantastic tips for screening on all types of substrates:



It’s easy to see why Lynn was asked to create a DVD on Thermofax screen printing. Just check out all of these luscious fabrics of hers (currently in my possession…I am hesitant to send any of them back because I can’t stop petting them)!


Krawczyk Fabric


After watching her DVD, I thought about giving it a go to create greeting cards.  I first created a photocopy of the image in Photoshop that I then burned onto a screen.

Chalk rendering


And for the first time, per the DVD,  I used Jacquard’s Puff Additive, and mixed with Golden Fluid acrylics. The Puff Additive has just enough tooth to it to yield a very sharp image on paper, whether you later want to apply a heat gun to emboss it, or not.

Barn screen


I experimented with different colors, different amounts of pressure when pulling the paint down the screen to get a more organic result.

Screened barn


And now I have my first set of cards to send out to the greater world.



Lynn has a lot of wonderful tips in her DVD and she masterfully and easily explains the processes from start to finish. In celebration of her DVD launch, she is giving away two screens of choice to a randomly selected reader of this blog entry. A question I have is, if you could create a screen of an image, what subject matter or image would you choose?  Just leave a comment below and you’ll be in the running!

To check out other ideas for screen printing and surface design, have a look at these bloggers also participating in this blog hop:

Maddie Kertay

Lisa Chin

Briana Goetzen

Dawn DeVries Sokol

Pam Carriker (goes up tomorrow)

Lynn Krawczyk (Sunday)


Progress! Art Barn & Retreat Info.

Things starting to come together here in Napa!


The crew who are making this barn a reality.


The barn has doors at last, and I am really happy I chose a transparent glass for the garage doors so that the views are intact and allow for a lot of natural light to flow inside.


The interior is being worked on now…it’s not completed but I am happy with the clean lines, the cement floor finish, and the white-washed ceilings and paneling (vs. painted)  so that the grain of the woods still show.



Just to get a sense of how art would look hanging inside, we temporarily hung a trio of Lynn Krawczyk’s fabric collages from the loft.

Krawczyk Fabric Collage


This space is coming together, but it’ll still be months before it’s completed.

Barn WEB copy

In the meantime,  I recently announced on social media the first CRAFT NAPA retreat taking place next January 7-9, 2016 at the Embassy Suites! Workshops range from sewing and quilting, to fabric and paper collage, and surface design. Teachers include Carrie Bloomston, Jane LaFazio, Jamie Fingal, Leslie Jenison, Lynn Krawczyk, Jenny K. Lyon, Judy Coates Perez, Elizabeth St. Hilaire, and Melanie Testa. There are a few fun night events planned including a “Make Your Own Wine” competition with a BERNINA giveaway, an Artist Market, and late night sip-n-sews in the bar featuring some fun stitching projects. You can find out more about this retreat on this web page. The site and the schedule are close to completion, and registration goes live next Wednesday. If you want to get any e-newsletters relating to CRAFT NAPA, you can sign up for more news, stories, and information here.

I am keeping my blog a bit separate from the retreat so I can focus on art-making again.  I am finally able to take all of my supplies out of storage, and tomorrow I’m a part of Lynn Krawczyk’s blog hop for her latest DVD.  I have to admit…it feels pretty sublime to be screen printing again!








News, Updates & Opinions Wanted!

What is my new favorite four-letter word in the English language?


After having my Houston house on the market for more than six months, and flying back a lot to tweak some things and getting this deal done, I can now cross this task off my list. Those who visited my Houston pad I hope would agree it was a great home, and my eyes smarted when I got this special bottle from my realtor at my closing:

Wine bottle

I will miss many, many things about this house and ‘hood, including this outdoor community chalkboard at the end of my street, which just illustrates how cool my neighborhood truly was:

Before I Die


And bike riding along the bayou with my little man; I will miss our rides…and him, always.

Louie Bolton biking


But thankfully the flight from San Francisco to Houston is an easy and fast one, and I have some very good reasons to go back rather frequently, including visiting friends like Leslie Jenison in San Antonio. It just so happens I caught my last visit this past week when Victoria Findley Wolfe was there, and we had a lot of fun experimenting with Leslie’s outdoor kitchen and pizza oven!

Lesley, Victoria, Beatrice

Leslie, Victoria, and Victoria’s daughter, Beatrice


Now just back to Napa, things are progressing at a good clip in my world. Some progress pix:



Waving from where my future office will be.



Closing up roof

Construction crew nailing down the porch roof.



interior dry wall

Interior ceiling completed.



office before dry wall

Upstairs loft/office is framed.



office with dry wall

Upstairs office with windows drywall, and most of the paneled ceiling.


before paint

Structure before painting, glass garage doors, and metal roofing.



painted barn

Current status today with metal roof and first application of paint.



Office view

Future view from my home office.


I have received a lot of inquiries asking when my studio/ art barn will be completed. The answer is…I don’t know. There is still quite a bit to be done, and I am dependent upon schedules and when items (like garage doors) arrive and can be installed. 

In the meantime,  I have been collaborating with some venues in Napa to coordinate retreats in the greater Napa Valley, and I have some pretty exciting news to announce soon. When I can spill, this blog will be migrating over to the new site, and I will have a lot more information for those who want to come visit Napa and create! 

So here’s where I would love some feedback.

Want to opine on a logo? 

craft nappa badges




View from Hartwell Vineyards











It Takes a Group of Quilters to Build an Art Barn Foundation

Some SAQA friends, my first round of artists, stopped by my place this past Friday afternoon:


It was a lovely visit! We toasted with champagne, rifled through some discarded wood for mixed media projects from the art barn construction site, plucked lemons from lemon trees, and talked a long time about sewing machines.

Having these talented friends over was a total boost and affirmation of what I am trying to do here in Napa. And their visit inspired me to put together a short video of the progress made thus far for the art barn.

I hope you enjoy! The website reference on the final clip–– it’s not live right now, but will be in less than three weeks!



The Inaugural Pokey Pour! (Of cement…not wine)

I could not sleep at all last night, I had gotten news that the Big Pour I have been waiting months for was scheduled to happen this morning at 7:00 AM sharp.

But just a little after 6:00, I heard the creak of the opening gate, followed by a slowly traversing parade of trucks and a crane making their way uphill, and so I shot out of bed with camera in hand.

Good morning April 15, 2015! It was Tax Day, but this day marked the pouring of the foundation for Crafting a Life, LLC.



Crane in place


Starting to pour


Despite dealing with last-minute tax business, there was every reason to smile on this day, including the site of this candy-cane cement crane complete with a fun retro font/logo!

Candy cane




The night before at the 11th hour, I invited friends on Facebook to text or message me their artful wishes, hopes, and goals that I wanted to tuck into the foundation before the cement was going to be poured. Some people posted their thoughts publicly, many sent messages to me privately. I printed them all–seven pages total–sealed in an envelope, and placed into the foundation this morning.

Crafting a Life



I explained to my contractor the gist of the contents and how important this envelope was, and when someone thought to remove it just before the cement was being poured, he waved his hands and said, “NO, NO, NO! That envelope absolutely belongs there!” You can see the envelope on the lower left corner of this video…




smoothing 2



After the foundation was leveled, they wrapped it in plastic for sealing and protection from further construction. The plastic covering will not be taken off until the art barn is completely finished. To me it is a symbol, a wrapped present, a reminder what a gift all of this is.



I am eager to unwrap, to unveil, but in the meantime, there is a raven that has been watchful all day from the towering trees above, and when everyone left, he stood guard. He and I have been greeting each other since I got here in January. I like to think he is my protector on this project.



I am having a little Pokey Pour tonight in honor of this day. :)







Signs of Spring (Finally)!

Ooooooh, it’s here! My favorite season:

DSC_0477 2


Below is a collage of springtime images I’ve taken over the last couple of weeks. (One picture may seem a little out of place, though.)

PicMonkey Collage

But to me, the picture on the lower right symbolizes new beginnings, too…because when they put a porta-potty on a construction site, you know this (:::insert profane word:::) is getting real! :)

Construction is starting to really take off for the art barn, and once the foundation is poured, I will have a definitive launch date and can share more plans. But in the meantime–when not filling out a lot of paperwork, number-crunching, re-crunching, re-crunching again, and doing all of the behind-the-scenes stuff to get a new business going…I am determined to enjoy every step of this journey.


And Clarences agrees.



Happy Spring!




A Most Interesting Sight To Wake Up To…

I had a neighbor drop in today. Literally. I kid you not, a little before 8:00 AM this morning, a hot air ballon landed on my property where the art barn is being built. The dogs went nuts, I went nuts, and barefoot and in a pink robe, I ran up the hill to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing (and thinking maybe indeed I had too much Boz Scaggs wine the night before).

The guys in the hot air balloon upon seeing me: “Ahoy there!”

Me, scratching my (bed) head: “Um…ahoy?”

Them: “You don’t mind if we land in your yard, do you? You have a nice flat area at the top of your hill. We will radio in a truck, fold up the balloon, and be on our merry way.”

Me, groggy, needing a lot more coffee: “Um, yeah, I guess that would be ok.You may want to watch out for nails and stuff. It’s a construction site.”

dropping in


And so they radioed in their colleague in the truck, and when he arrived, he helped pull them to the ideal landing location. (Notice guy pulling hard on the rope on the lower left.)

over fence


Almost there…




on site


Then they laid down a huge blue tarp to later put the deflated balloon on.



And began deflating the balloon to fold and put on the truck.



Once folded, they left. It only took about five minutes and I got their business card. Nice guys.

And that is how I woke up today.

Some day I will get used to this kind of thing.


It’s Starting

It’s been an exhausting yet exhilarating few weeks. We are getting settled, unpacking boxes, acclimating to a new time zone, a winter that consists of green mountains, and watching cherry red trucks haul dirt up the hill for the art barn foundation.

Moving Dirt

I thought (a bit belatedly) to host a Valentine’s Day Groundbreaking party, and planned for a local affair but I was really thrilled that some out-of-towners came too, and made a weekend of it!



Friend I have known forever came over, too…



As did their parents who I have known most of my life.



We ate a lot of cake!


Quilters hung out with non-quilters (in efforts to lure them to the dark side).


And the strongest woman I know, Yvonne Porcella, made the trek, too. Founder of SAQA and one of my greatest mentors, I was so honored that she came.

Her humor nearly surpasses her strength…



She also wanted to made it very clear to me that she got dirt under her (freshly manicured) nails during the groundbreaking.







Alex Anderson came too! (Below, far right)


And more old friends from high school…



There was the ceremonial dig. (The pink silk scarf on the shovel was hand-dyed by Yvonne.)



Others got into the spirit of it, too.



And we laughed. A lot!







And took advantage of a surprisingly warm day.




Some of the guys…



It is really starting! I can’t wait to post progress pictures.


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