Monday, 28 May 2012

Elderberry Hedge: 'The Bonny Baker' Bakery & Cafe

"'The Bonny Baker' Bakery & Cafe"
(May 28, 2012)
Watercolour, approx. 7x10"

    What can you say about Bonny? Well, for one, she's a real sweetie!  Her sunny disposition has most everyone in the village flocking to her bakery/cafe and her delectable desserts keep them coming back!

    When Bonny first moved to Elderberry Hedge she was looking for a unique location and she certainly found it when she happened upon an overturned milk crate - just the right size for what she had in mind.  The open front of the bakery allow the aroma's from her daily baking to waft through the hedge and entice many to meander down the well-worn path for a quick bite.

    Bonny discovered her love for baking when she was just a l'il mouseling.  She perfected her chocolate chip cookie recipe by the age of twelve and moved on to pastries in her teens which have won blue ribbons at the county fair every year since.  She really loves baking fancy cakes and cookies, but breads have become something of a speciality as of late.

    Throughout the year Bonnie runs Baking 'Funshops' (because baking is never work!) for villagers of all ages because she feels that everyone deserves to feel the wonderful sense of accomplishment that comes from baking something yummy from good, simple ingredients!

    ♥ Cath- 




"Blue Jay Chick"
(Spring 2006)

    Taking their first few hops and pops in the grass as they begin to explore the world outside the nest... so cute!  Over the past several years I've watched many young birds get their start by hopping around the yard.  The parent bird is always perched somewhere nearby - watching.

"Robin Chick"
(May 2012)  

   Sometimes the parent will make their presence known using the not-so-subtle swoop overhead method... other times I've noticed that they sit somewhere just out of sight - waiting, watching - a single sharp chirp from the parent alerts the chick to start hopping toward the sound of the call. 

    This l'il robin chick was having a seista in the backyard on Saturday afternoon, well, that is until I heard the shrill call from it's momma alerting it of the approaching paparazzi (me!) and it started it's hippety-hoppity way home...

    I ♥ the little tufts of fluff still holding on and poking between the more mature feathers - darling!  

    ♥ Cath-


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Steadfast Love

Another wonderful reason to be thankful and full of praise for our heavenly Father!!

♥ Cath-

Friday, 25 May 2012

Plein Air Painting!!! :)))

    Today I was able to enjoy the first half of a birthday gift that my loving hubby gave me - a day at a Kim Rempel Plien Air Painting Class!  Woo-hooo!! 
    The Good Earth in Beamsville hosts Kim's classes and their grounds are beautiful!!  There are so-o-o many lovely little vignettes around the property and their gardens, WOW!!   Not only is it a lovely treat to be able to paint anywhere on the property but part way through your day of painting you get to sit down in their refreshing bistro and enjoy a beautiful gourmet lunch and decandent dessert - YUM!!   Now anyone who knows me knows there are two things I love: ART and GOOD FOOD!!  ~ I tell you these classes were made for me!!  

    The above photograph is the vignette that I chose to paint at Good Earth today.  I have admired that split-rail fence ever since I laid eyes on it at my first-ever plien air painting class back in July 2011 - all silvery in the sunlight and the rhododendrons in full bloom - simply inspiring!! 

    But I've always been intimidated by layers and layers of green foliage - I love looking at it but painting it is something else altogether! I pondered it for a few moments and then that split-rail fence starting calling out to me so I decided to leap in with both feet, set up my easel and have a go at it!! 

This is my painting about an hour in - just before lunch break...

...and by the end of the day it looked like this:
"Nicolette's Garden"
Acrylic on stretched canvas, 16x20"

    You can see I took some artistic license in a few areas. In particular I swapped out the background foliage for a blue sky - if I were to paint the same vignette again tomorrow I would do the same thing -
I ♥ blue skies!

    A wonderful and inspiring day!!  I'm feeling very blessed!!
    ♥ Cath- 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A few of my favourite things...

"Mermaid Lagoon" from the BIG map...

and the "Sea Serpent"

and also the "Pirate Map Medallion"

These pieces have been a part of my life for two weeks now - so I'm still thinking about them and all I learned while designing each 'character' and the line work that defines them.... 
I hope you haven't minded more pirate postings! 

Fair winds, me mateys!
♥ Cath-

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What I've been up to....

"Pirate Prop Map"
(approx. 15"x26")

    I've been busy helping with the set design of VPS' "How To Be A Pirate" mini-musical.

Design painted for gymnasium doors

       It all started with a pirate map for the actors to use... that was just a warm-up for the BIG (7.5 foot square!) map for the stage backdrop...  That big ol' map was a lot of fun to work on! 
    I racked my brain to think of all the pirate-y things I could include in the map and came up with classics like "Mermaid Lagoon" and "Hideaway Island", and then some of my own original names: "Village of Pillage" and "Whale-y Waters"... I worked away at the lines to make them look as though a feather quill had been used to scribe them - I'm happy with how it turned out!  Here are the details in a thumbnail arrangement:

        After the map was completed it was on to the two pelicans for the stage... I constructed a complete chicken wire framework of a pelican body but due to stability/balance issues I put it aside and started from scratch with some laminated (glued and layered) pieces of cardboard.
    I drew a profile silhouette of a pelican and then padded it out (to look 3D-ish) with newspaper.  A few brushstrokes with some paint and a cheeky l'il pelican took shape and my math skills proved sufficient in designing him to stand straight and balanced! 
    I had made a fish in the same style and wasn't sure how I was going to use it until I talked to my Mom and she suggested a fishing pole over the pelican's shoulder with the fish dangling from the line... a couple modifications and voila! A fishing pelican! Thanks Mom!!
    Here is a photo of the pelican before he left home and two showing his place on stage in the play:

    The second pelican was completed soon after - a simple painting of a pelican in flight:

Pelican getting adjusted for hanging...  Will be hanging much straighter by showtime!

    The set design was a complete team effort and my daughter's amazing teacher Mrs. Preece was the one who imagined up all the coomponents that were to be in the set - I set to work on my 'jobs' (as seen above) - she set to work too and constructed the whole front half of a pirate's ship complete with a mast (with working hoist for the Jolly Roger!) and by showtime it will have working sails also! I told you she was AMAZING!!  As for the ship all I can think to say is, "My, she's yar!"

    Here's the overall set design - which, by the time I see it Wednesday morning at dress
rehearsal, will have been tweaked and adjusted to perfection by the wonderful Mrs. Preece! 
I can't wait to see it!!

        And now you know what has kept me so busy and away from my watercolours!
        ♥  Cath-

Monday, 21 May 2012


"Pathway on Eagle's Nest"
North of Bancroft, ON
(July 2005)

    Pathways.  You can describe life as being made up of pathways.  Pathways represent choices, roads we choose to take with either determination, hope, or simply faith.  Sometimes we look ahead clearly envisioning our paths, other times we stop and look behind us to see the kind of path we have traversed. 

    For me it's a little of both, I sometimes do pause and look back to see where I've come from, thankful to God for helping me through it all, but the real joy comes from the few occassions that I'm blessed with seeing the next small portion of the path clearly laid out... inspiring joy fills me up when I realize that there is still some more of the path to tread - I'm not done yet - still more to do, more to learn, more to give.  I take the next step knowing there may be inevitable difficulties on the path ahead but I also know God is with me the whole way - for that I'm thankful to Him each and every day!

     ♥ Cath-

"Eagle's Nest Pathway"
North of Bancroft, ON
(July 2005)

 "Bruce Trail Pathway"
Jordan portion along 21st Street, North of Ball's Falls, Jordan, ON
(Summer 2007)

"Red Bridge Pathway"
Twenty Valley, Jordan, ON
(Summer 2007)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A day of gratitude and praise...

"Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD, give praise, O servants of the LORD,
who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to His name for it is pleasant!"
(Psalm 135:1-3)

    Sundays are a wonderful day to gather up in your mind all the blessings the LORD has blessed you with over the past week and let your gratitude for His goodness and love fill you with praise! 

    ♥ Cath-

Friday, 18 May 2012

Port Dalhousie Carousel

"Port Dalhousie Carousel Horse"
(June 2009)

    I ♥ the Carousel at Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie! 

    I don't always enjoy the blasting circus music (played by an antique Frati band organ) but I can't help but be drawn in by the beautifully hand-carved and hand-painted animals that grace the deck of the carousel - 68 in all!  Lions, horses, goats, giraffes, camels, even chariots (for those less nimble), all carved and painted between 1898 and 1905.  We've been blessed to have the carousel in Niagara for 91 years - and it's still only 5 cents to ride!!

    When I sit and consider the time, amazing talent and skillful labour that went into each and every one of those animals two things occur: appreciation for these beautiful works of art and inspiration to put that "little extra" into everything I do.  

    The work I accomplish with my talents may not last as long as these carved animals but I know without a doubt that it's worth the time and effort to do my very best with the talents I have been given!

    ♥ Cath-

   "Carousel Lion"
(June 2009)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


(June 2009)

   Love 'em or hate 'em dandelion flowers are a part of each Spring and early Summer. They have a tendency to hunker down when you run a lawnmower over them, laying there waiting until the 'coast is clear' so they can once again straighten up and stand tall - one of the very reasons my husbands dislikes them so much!  But when the girls were small dandelion puffs held a magical quality that made the backyard a place full of possiblities and hope.

    Ever since our oldest daughter was just a toddler dandelions puffs have been called 'wishberries'.... One day I sugggested she make a wish before she blew the feathery seeds off the stem and her sweet imagination took over and the name 'wishberry' was assigned to the humble little seed puff.

    Like birthday candles or cutting the first slice of cake, wishberries give each of us an opportunity to make a silent request... a tiny moment of time in which to prioritize our real wants and needs...  a moment of joy just thinking on the possiblility of that wish coming true!

    With abundant opportunity to make as many wishes as you want, step outside and act like a kid again!  Pluck up a dandelion puff, make a wish and blow every seed off the stem!
    ♥ Cath-

"Make a Wish"
(May 2007)


Monday, 14 May 2012


(Photograph, 2006)

    The sun is shining and my friends are calling to come outside and play! 
Who can resist a classic game like Hide and Go Seek? 


    As I am still making time each day to sit and work on my Elderberry Hedge paintings, life is getting busy again at school and home so time is snip-its at best...  Until I get next installment ready for post I thought it would be fun to post some of my photographs from over the years that have become favourites.
    "Hide-N-Seek" is a photo from a series of 'staged' photos that I took one summer day using beautiful plush bunnies and bears that I gathered together while my girls were babies... This scene reminds me of the TV series "Old Bear Stories" based on the books written by Jane Hissey - toys as alive as you or I. 
    ♥ Cath-

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Happy Mother's Day!!

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."

    A wonderful Mother's Day wish to Mom and Mother-In-Law... One of the most cherished things I know about both my Mom and Mother-In-Law is that I know without a doubt they will both be worshipping God today in their respective communities and I along with them.  I will spend some quiet time today thanking God for them and all they have have brought to my life! 

    My Mom is always there for me - she has taught me (along with Dad) first and foremost to love God and commit my life wholly to Him. I'm blessed by their example! She passed down her ability to draw, her love of baking (and substiting ingredients!!) and I love her beyond words!!

    My Mother-In-Law just kept loving me through my "growing up years" after I married her eldest son - looking back, I'm grateful for that and I really cherish our relationship now because of her determination then!

May our heavenly Father whom we worship today and each day bless these wonderful women!!

♥ Cath-
(Proverbs 31:26-29)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"It's a pencil to paper, brainstorming thing."

    Filling my sketchbook with drawings and thoughts is like a conversation with a new friend.... you don't learn everything there is to know about them but you usually learn a lot of information in a quick, concise manner.
  Elderberry Hedge Bake Shop Brainstorm
(Sketchbook page, scanned)   

Bake Shop Brainstorm - Breakthrough!
(Sketchbook page, scanned)

    The above images are bits of "conversation" I had with one of the residents of Elderberry Hedge.... when I first met her, I didn't even know her name but after a little conversing I realized I was talking to Bonny, the bright and cheerful resident baker of The Bonny Baker: Bakery and Cafe...  
    ♥ Cath- 

    P.S. The title that says it all!  I visited with a friend for coffee in the first week of April and during our conversation she encouraged me to begin a blog.  While discussing this pursuit she came out with this gem of a statement, "Sometimes it's a pencil to paper, brainstorming thing." ~ I ♥ that!!   
    I told her that that statement would make an awesome blog name... as you can see I didn't end up going with it, but I knew without a doubt that I would use it in a blog and that I would give her full credit for it too.  Kim Rempel - thank you for your constant encouragement and enthusiasm!!  I have three words to describe Kim: IN - SPIR - ING!!  Check out Kim's blog: Eat Drink Paint


Monday, 7 May 2012

Elderberry Hedge Schoolhouse

"Elderberry Hedge Schoolhouse"
(Watercolour, 7x10")

    Every growing village needs a place for young minds to explore and advance under the tutelage of a wise and learned member of the village.  Elderberry Hedge is no different.  The young from far and near gather daily to learn with Mr. MacKinnley as he instructs them in all subjects: math, languages, history, geography, and the arts.
    Mr. Mackinnley, like Edward, seems to have had his profession marked out for him from the time he was just a fledgling. Fortunately our Mr. MacKinnley studied and grew and soon discovered that he, like his family members before him, had been blessed with a natural ability to learn and to teach.
    Rising with the sun each morning our village teacher gets out for "a good stretch of the wings" followed by a hearty breakfast.  Then the lovely flight over the village to the schoolhouse where he will go through his morning routine of dusting and polishing the windows. With only an hour left before classes are to begin for the day he settles down at his large desk to look over his lesson plan.
    Finally, it is time. Stepping out into the sunlight of the morning with bell in hand, Mr MacKinnley announces the start of the day for his students.  Quickly lining up outside the doors, they are greeted with a warm and friendly smile from their teacher - today is going to be another wonderful day of learning! 

♥ Cath- 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

As a deer...

"As a deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
Psalm 41:1-2

    ♥ Cath-

    Whenever I look at this photo I imagine a deer timidly coming out of the brush to drink in the cool waters, so it always makes me think of the bible verse I included above. ♥

    I took this photo in 2005 during a visit to my parents home in Bancroft, ON.... this is a calm resting place after the rushing of the water through Egan Chute. Egan Chute is located along the York River, east of Bancroft on Hwy 28.

Friday, 4 May 2012

An Interruption...

We interrupt our normally scheduled blog for this important message:

I met Toronto-based author/illustrator extraodinaire Kevin Sylvester today!!!

The first two books in the Neil Flambe series by Kevin Sylvester. 

    The third installment (Neil Flambe and the Crusader's Curse) hit bookstores only yesterday unbeknownst to me - I didn't know when it was going to be published seeing as I had heard that the publishing company handling the first two books went bankrupt.  Luckily for all fans of the Neil Flambe series Simon & Shuster Canada picked it up and is running with it!! Yeah!!
    I went with my oldest daughter to a DSBN sponsored Silver Birch Book Conference today in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a day full of workshops, key-note speakers and lots of kids - everywhere!!  The first workshop I attended was 'Cartooning with Kevin' in which Kevin Sylvester took students through the "inner workings" of creating a doodle - brilliant!  He is a crazy-talented artist who encouraged the kids to just relax and draw - keep your hand loose and moving - who cares if there are "a million extra lines" in the drawing, that's what gives it energy - keeps the eye moving!  Another great point he made was to layer up with unexpected 'jokes' and add interest to your drawings. Basically, he encouraged the kids to not ever give up on a drawing - just keep addig to it!  AWESOME!!  
     Before finishing the workshop he went around the room and drew and autographed an original doodle for each student. He gave them the choice between a dog, cat, dragon, and a penguin with a mohawk. Yep, you read that correctly!  
    My daughter choose a dog (it was before the penguin came into play!)...
Dog Doodle, signed

    Okay, my geek is showing now because I stood in line to get the first two Neil Flambe books signed and doodled by Mr. Sylvester - and yes, I photographed them to post here - see below!
    I am quick to forgive him for spelling my name incorrectly each time because he is an extremely generous man to sit for well over an hour and not just sign his name in his books but to personalize, doodle, and sign each book for everyone in line! 
       I got two li'l Neil doodles!! 

     The teacher I attended the conference with is going to seriously look into getting Mr. Sylvester to bring his wit and talent to our school for a presentation sometime very soon!  Yeah!!

    All in all a great and inspiring day!!

♥ Cath-

P.S. My regualar scheduled blog (which was written to post today) will be posted on Monday.
After meeting such an amazingly talented author and illustrator who is also very down-to-earth and
funny I couldn't help but be inspired to dedicate today's blogspot to him! : ) 

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Elderberry Hedge: The Crow's Nest

"The Crow's Nest"
(Watercolour, 7x10")

    Edward is the sleek and dapper crow who owns the beautiful jewellry shop in Elderberry Hedge.  Edward not only sells beautiful jewellry, he is a skilled gemologist and fine metalsmith crafting custom pieces for the discerning customer.
    The study and interest in gemology and fine metals has been passed down through many generations of Edward's family.  Known to have an outstanding ability to spot pieces of fine metal and jewels just about anywhere, Edward has many family members working as scouts and buyers for the world's leading jewellry houses.  Others have been hired over the years by wealthy patrons to guard and maintain personal jewel collections.  Edward has said that a distant cousin of his still lives in the famed Tower of London, guarding the Queen's jewels.

♥ Cath-