News, Updates & Opinions Wanted!

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

SOLD!

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

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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:

 

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Waving from where my future office will be.

 

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Closing up roof

Construction crew nailing down the porch roof.

 

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interior dry wall

Interior ceiling completed.

 

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office before dry wall

Upstairs loft/office is framed.

 

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office with dry wall

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

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before paint

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

 

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painted barn

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

 

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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

 

 

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View from Hartwell Vineyards

 

Cheers,

Pokey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

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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–craftingalifellc.com– 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.

Sunrise

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Crane in place

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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

 

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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

 

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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…


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Smoothing

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smoothing 2

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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.

Wrapped

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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.

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Raven

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

Cheers,

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of Spring (Finally)!

Ooooooh, it’s here! My favorite season:

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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.

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And Clarences agrees.

Clarence

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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…

landed

 

Landed.

on site

 

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

tarp

 

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

deflating

 

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.

Maybe…

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…

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

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We ate a lot of cake!

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

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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…

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

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Alex Anderson came too! (Below, far right)

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And more old friends from high school…

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

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Others got into the spirit of it, too.

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And we laughed. A lot!

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And took advantage of a surprisingly warm day.

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Some of the guys…

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

How a Quilter Takes a Hike

I recently moved from Houston to Napa Valley, driving nearly 2000 miles solo (with three dogs in my backseat). It was challenging, but looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.IMG_0679

I did have two offers for co-pilots, but frankly…as a pet-loving quilter with a lot of precious cargo, I responded to them, “Where the heck would I fit you in the car?”

A Quilter on the Move

What I refused to put on a moving truck, nor put in the temperature-controlled cargo of an airplane:

-3  Dogs

-2 BERNINAS

-1 thermofax machine

-An enormous suitcase containing my most precious quilts, some made by family, some purchased, one by me.

-Jewelry that had a lot of sentimental value

-Crucial documents

-A backpack with jeans, t-shirts, a toothbrush and other essentials.

 

For every night I was on the road (and no, I didn’t drive past sundown), I brought all of this cargo into the hotel room. It meant a lot of trips from car to room between pets, dog food, supplies, quilts, and docs.

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The  hours of driving each day–and being on guard while driving–were pretty exhausting for all of us…

 

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But we saw some very interesting sights along the way, including this Exxon station in West Texas, where, understandably, while I filled the gas tank, I couldn’t let the dogs out to relieve themselves:

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We encountered a wreck on I-10, 90 miles east of El Paso. I would have been stuck in this for five hours (plus) while they righted this semi that had tipped over and blocked both lanes, but with the help of some empathetic truck drivers, I was directed onto the feeder, and again on my merry way.

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After about 23 hours driving and two nights in hotels, I encountered this sign (below).  Admittedly, seeing this was emotional, and I cried. It had been 26 years since I drove my own car in my home state.

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The next day, after driving up I-5,  I was on my property in Napa and saw these pink little flags whipping in the wind. They mark the art barn for Crafting a Life.

 

I cried again.

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The next morning, I woke to this greeting.

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And I cried. Again.

I found this cluster of lemons on a tree on my property.

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You’ll be happy to know, I didn’t cry. (I just plucked ’em.)

Later, Clarence discovered his first hot air balloon and…he cried. (Video can be found on my Instagram feed.)

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And I let the dogs out to run run run. And we all cried…tears of sheer joy and gratitude.

 

Great news! I’m done crying. And better yet…I’m almost done unpacking! And soon ready to get busy and on with the Next Big Life and Business Adventure, here in Napa Valley.

We made it.

Cheers all around,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward and Looking Back

I have gotten a lot of great business and life advice in 2014, but the below quote I spotted in Magic Kingdom might be one of my favorites:

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2014 was a crazy, whirlwind year for me, yet ended on a very high note.

2014

 

I traveled the world; met one of my favorite actors in London when I accidentally ran onto the set of “Downton Abbey;” I witnessed my high school best friend get married in Maui to the greatest guy; and also nearly lost my hand to a hungry swan in Zurich. I also decided to take a leap of faith and go home to California and start a new endeavor, after 26 years away.

This past year Allison Stilwell left all of us with vital advice: Do what you love—nothing else matters.

That’s damn right.

And my college friend Fr. TJ Martinez also had a motto that he said over and over and over: Do the difficult now, and the impossible soon after.

I feel they bear repeating:

Do the difficult now, and the impossible soon after.

And do what you love- nothing else matters.

Pokey

My best wishes for a very happy new year!

Bring on 2015,

 

 

 

Demystifying Walking Foot Quilting

Confessions of a bad Godmother: a few months ago I completed a quilt top in Red Sox colors for my 11-year-old Godson, a devout Red Sox fan, but I’ve been procrastinating on the quilting because I have been waiting for that brainstorm for the perfect quilting motifs that will give the quilt a clean, masculine look–one that a budding baseball star would be proud to have in his bedroom!

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Johnny at a Red Sox game (I think) when he was about seven.

 Fortunately for me, Catherine Redford has come to my rescue with her new DVD for walking foot quilting:

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I bought a walking foot last year and I can’t rave enough about it–it has made my quilting so much easier– but there was a lot I didn’t know I could do with walking foot quilting until I watched Catherine’s DVD.

In the DVD she discusses:

• Mastering the walking foot to create even, straight, and curved quilting designs
• Creating gridded quilting patterns, including straight grids and plaids
• Adding texture and interest with perfect square and round spirals 
• Finishing your quilts with professional results

 

Having had Catherine as a guest on Quilting Arts TV as well as being a seasoned demonstrator in Open Studios, I can vouch that Catherine has a natural, easy-going teaching style that takes the fear and stress out of quilting, (including quilting those pesky perfect spirals).

After watching the DVD, I have decided to use plaid quilting for this Red Sox quilt. The quilt wont be done by Christmas but it WILL be done by Opening Day!

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Go sneak over to Catherine Redford’s blog as she is going to be giving away a copy of her Modern Machine Quilting.

I’d Rather Be Printing Than Packing

Well, I have a bit of an update: I have decided to fast-track my move to the Frisco Bay and make the drive next month. This is a bit sooner than I had originally thought, but I just don’t rest well on my laurels and I am ready to embark on the next leg of my life adventure. I know I will make quicker progress out in Napa, “glamping,”  than trying to build the business remotely from my house in Houston…so California here I come!

What’s slowing me down as I pack is a dilemma I know other surface design aficionados face:  I am surrounded by bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, styrofoam peanuts for goodness sake…all great stuff with which to low-tech print!

I recently received Julie Booth’s book for review, Fabric Printing at Home, a great starter book for those new to fabric printing, and a wonderful refresher for those of us who need a little coaxing and coaching to re-evaluate everyday items as potentially exciting objects for printing.

Fabric Printing at Home

All of the ideas in this encyclopedic book are creative and low-tech (meaning they are on the cheap), and for those with restless kiddies at home over the holidays, this is a comprehensive resource to inspire an afternoon (…or two or three) of indoor printing activities.

I do have a copy to give away, and I’ll randomly select a winner early next week from those who respond to the following question:

What is the object you have used to print with that has yielded the most surprising results? (I will say I am particularly eager to hear this answer!)

Now back to packing…

 

 

 

 

 

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