Sunday, April 15, 2018

Saturday in Napa.

When you hear the words “Napa, California” What is the first thing you think of?

Probably THIS right here!

And April in Napa is a sight to behold.  Acre after acre of beautiful vineyards, ready for the growing season ahead.

It’s an optical illusion to the eyes as you drive past the rows as rows of grapevines standing at attention – appearing with arms outstretched, nearly touching their neighbor vines, but not quite.  Waiting for new growth to happen.

And I learned something -- some grapevines stand taller (less bending for pruning and harvesting) and some are quite short to the ground.

The ones closer to the ground actually require LESS water and during drought conditions will produce more - because they don't require as much water to be drawn up  from the roots to the rest of the plant.  (But oh, the back breaking to stoop so low to end them!)

We were on our way “over the hill” from Fairfield to Napa to meet with the Napa Valley Quilters and friends for the Saturday morning meeting held at the senior center.

I LOVE a Saturday morning meeting!  What a relaxing pace!  It almost felt like playing hooky.  And what a group had gathered.

I was so pleased to see that they started off their meeting day with the pledge of Allegiance.  Click to play:

Hands over hearts, words bringing back so many memories of days in school doing the same.


And of course – there was snack break time!


And as if we hadn’t eaten for DAYS – there was lunch after!

This is a place that Jamie had told me about, very home-town Napa and not to be missed (but I can’t remember the name of it! LOL!)  However, it is the only place in Napa where you can get Chinese or Mexican at the same place:


Oh yeah, this is fun!


Out and about for more exploring!

Many of the wineries were mobbed with people, and I’m not a big wine aficionado, so we went to focus on some local history in the form of Bale Mill!


Such a beautiful day to be outside!

Click to play:

The park is the site of a water-powered grist mill that was built in 1846. It was once the center of social activity as Napa Valley settlers gathered to have their corn and wheat ground into meal or flour. 

The owner of the mill was Dr. Edward Turner Bale. He received the property in a land grant from the Mexican government and lived near the site until his death in 1849. The mill remained in use until the early 1900s.

The mill and its 36-foot water wheel are protected as a state historic landmark and have been partially restored. A trail connects the historic park to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Additionally, the park includes the site of the first church in the Napa Valley as well as the Pioneer Cemetery. [source]

We didn’t hike far enough to see the church or the cemetery – I guess we will have to save that for another time.

But the mill was fascinating!  Click to play:

The Miller was so educated on the subject of mills be it roller, wind or water.  This mill is a water mill, with the trough for the water going up from the creek water source up to the top of the wheel, and it is the weight of the water going OVER the top of the wheel that makes it turn.  The mechanics of this thing are just amazing.


Did you notice the little “cups” on the belt going up the side  of the posts in the video clip?  We learned about the man who invented this system – instead of paying laborers to carry 50lb bags of grain to the top floor of the mill, this pulley system was invented to take the grain up in small cups at the same time the big water wheel is turning the stones saving in the cost of labor, and wear and tear on worker’s bodies as you can imagine – a hard job if you hauled sacks of grain up stairs all day long.

My inner history buff was in high form yesterday!


This was amazing.  Just wonderful.

And to think how the mill in any area became a gathering place for folks and neighbors, catching up on all the latest gossip and goings-on while waiting for their grain to be ground.  This was the social-media of the day.


My evening view.

I’m staying in a guild member’s guest cottage on her property surrounded by vineyards.  I honestly didn’t know whether I should just sit on the porch and watch the world get dark, soaking up every minute – or set up the featherweight that Jamie loaned me for some evening sewing.

In the end, I did a bit of both, and it wasn’t even quite 9pm when I tucked myself beneath the beautiful quilt in the cottage bedroom and sent myself off to dreamland.

Today we’ve got Hawk’s Nest from Scraps & Shirttails II up on deck and I’m excited to be back in the saddle teaching the ins and outs of the Essential Triangle Tool for half square triangles and seeing what these quilters sew up with their scraps!


Quiltville Quote of the Day!

It all begins within!

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!


  1. Dearest Bonnie, I used to live right near there, in St. Helena. I actually worked the gate at Bothe for awhile, and while there had my first ever quilt sales. To the shop at the Mill! Quilted coasters and placemats. :-) I also made 50 assorted kid size shirts and aprons from a period pattern for when they have the living history days and all the local schools come, so the kids could feel more like a part of it.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane!
    S. Ray

  2. Had my acquired in Colorado featherweight out yesterday. Hadn't sewed with it for months, so it needed a little TLC. A new needle and some tension adjusting - with help from our guild expert and she was sewing up a storm. It's an early 50's one, and i got it from a woman who had inherited it from her grandmother who bought it new. The seller never used it, so I'm only the second sewer on it! Case is a little beat up but machine is in great shape. It's been my backup for several years as I have another, but its motor is shot, so it's sidelined for now. I love the way they sew.

  3. So talking about my machine sidetracked me. Yesterday a group of our guild members came rogether to sew items to sell at our state fair booth. Sinnce Alaska is a tourist destination, we make a lot of Alaska themed items, which need to be portable enough to go in luggage. It is a major fundraiser for us. In addition to quilts, we sell a lot of small quilted items such as placemats, potholders, etc. we have a great committee that uses donated fabrics and puts together kits for various items (and of course we accept items made by member as well). We had a great turnout, lots of sewing, laughing and oh yah, eating!

  4. Love your travel and exploring posts ALMOST as much as I love your quilt designs. Tell Jamie I said hello -- it was great to meet her last month at Empty Spools. Can't wait to see the pics from the workshops.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Glad to see THE PLEDGE being said before the meeting.

  7. I visited the Bale grist mill a few years ago with my son. It was wonderful - made you really think about how much work went into a loaf of bread!

  8. Thanks for the tour. Mills are so interesting. Such ingenuity the makers had. Hawks nest uses a lot of HST'S. Good to use the Triangle Tool for.

  9. Thank you for sharing. I feel I have traveled the world and in the process learned some history.... All thanks to you my friend.

  10. How do you remember where you are? I have trouble planning one week at a time. Love watching all your adventures.


Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog every day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)