Wednesday, 26 December 2012

And now to relax...

"Gift of Love"

(watercolour, Thank you card design, 2007)

    I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day... I have a feeling the biggest gift you gave to others was your friendly smile, your warm hug, your helping hands and your appreciative heart - 'cause that is the best gift you could give anyone, anytime throughout the year but an especially cherished gift during the Christmas holidays!

    As I think back on the past two days, Christmas Eve through to the late hours of Christmas Day, the feeling still lingering in my mind is that this years gatherings were not the whirlwind of wrapping paper as in previous years but a more relaxing time with each of our families, appreciating the time we were blessed to spend with them during the holidays!   

    From our family to yours we wish you a BIG box of love and thoughtfulness! May you each know just how loved you are - just for being you!!    

    God bless you!
    ♥ Cath-  

Friday, 21 December 2012

A Celebration!

"A Celebration"
(watercolour, 8x11")

Oh, Mama, it’s the most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen!” L’il Bunny clasped her paws together and tucked them under her chin in an exuberant, cheerful manner.
We’ve been waiting a long time and here it is blooming in the winter snow!”  Mama’s eyes gleamed as all the woodland animals gathered to admire the beautiful addition to their forest.
Mama, I think God has blessed us all!  God is so good!” L’il bunny was so overjoyed she could hardly keep her feet on the ground.
You are right l’il one - God is wonderful, and we are all truly blessed!”

    We just celebrated the 1st birthday of our beautiful niece - a long awaited bundle of joy and a true blessing for her Mommy & Daddy and everyone else who loves her! 
    A few months ago I was inpired with the idea of a rose blooming in the winter representing my niece, and all the l'il woodland creatures gathering to celebrate representing all of us who gathered around when we heard the wonderful news of her arrival!  It's already been a whole year and she's growing and learning rapidly, always more reasons to celebrate! 

   God has truly blessed our family!  We praise Him continually for His goodness!!

    ♥ Cath-

Friday, 14 December 2012

Winter Joys

"Moonlight Skate"

(watercolour, family Christmas card design, 2007)

    This is a Christmas card design from several years ago... our oldest was in her "everything blue" phase and our youngest was in her "everything purple and pink" phase.
    I love this design because it reminds me of the need for quiet moments.  When I look at this painting I slow down and I begin to feel the crisp air and I hear only the sound of the girls giggling and the sound of skate blades running atop the ice... and then after a few moments I can't help but release an exhalation of relaxed contentment!  

    I hope as the holidays rush upon us that we will each have time to slow down enough to hear the sound of children laughing, the snow squeaking under our steps, the comforting crackle from the fireplace, and to observe the beautiful purple-blue shadows that stretch across the ground, the diamond-like twinkle of snow on the branches, and to feel the true warmth of a hug from a loved one!

    God has blessed us all! May we share His love and truly reflect His shining light to everybody we meet this holiday season - making it a joyful time of year for everyone! 

    ♥ Cath-

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

"Let It Snow"
(watercolour holiday card design)

    Many of us are both hoping for snow and dreading it at the same time.  I think most everyone loves the romantic beauty of a crisp white blanket of snow, just in time for the holidays.  We all love the ideal that the snow will fall silently through the night when everyone is snug and cozy in their beds and we'll awake to the twinkling crystaline beauty of it all. 

    In reality we have all created busy schedules for ourselves that often times has us driving from one place to another and so for that reason we may not be looking forward to the snowy weather.  I hope though that we can take some time this month, and through the rest of the winter as well, to stay in one place long enough to be able to relax, and even enjoy the sight, when the snow begins to fall. 
    Falling snow is beautiful!! Sometimes when the flakes are big and slow in their descent I enjoy going outside and just standing there, letting the flakes fall on my face and feeling as though I, myself, am in a big snowglobe... it's moments like that that I appreciate the seasons and thank God for the beauty that each season brings!

    ♥ Cath-

Sunday, 2 December 2012

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things!

A Few of My Favourite Things
(Sing to the tune: 'My Favorite Things' sung by Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music')
Christmas tree sparkling and Christmas wreath hanging,
Fresh cedar garland and jingle bells clanging,
Cheery red ribbon all tied up in bows.
Time to get into my comfiest clothes!

Pure butter shortbread and gingerbread cookies
All the great recipes not used by rookies
The wonderful joys that this season brings
These are a few of my favourite things!!
When Jack Frost bites, when the snow stings,
When I'm feeling low...
I simply remember my favourite things,
and my heart regains its glow!

    I was inspired to write these words when I sat down after a long day of baking crisp, buttery shortbread cookies, helping my children set up and decorate the Christmas tree and decorating the front porch with fresh garland and pretty plaid ribbon.

    God has blessed each of us with so many blessings - we just need to open our eyes and hearts to see them all!!  Gratitude and appreciation for God's blessings will always give us something to sing about!!

"Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe, help to make the season bright..." 

    I made this watercolour design for a holiday card - not everyone 'got it' but I still enjoy it myself!  I loved working on it and using so many fun colours on the light strings.  There are so many fun pictures to paint when you listen to the classic "Christmas Song" (a.k.a. "Chesnuts Roasting on an Open Fire").  This picture reminds me of yesterday - a big turkey (me) being assisted by two cute l'il bunches of mistletoe (kids) helping to decorate the house, making the season cheery and bright! : ))


A Place of Learning...

♥ Cath-

P.S. I took this photo when I visited the Jordan Historical Museum Schoolhouse yesterday. 
My wonderful friend works there as the "School Mistress". She takes local school children through
a day of school in 1908.  Now that it's December the schoolhouse is all decked out for their 1908 Christmas programme - fresh pine boughs and red ribbon... A little historical tidbit I learned from my friend: red ribbon was favoured in the early 1900's because holly (and its lovely red berries) was not readily available so bright red ribbons were used to acheive a similar cheery affect!      

Thursday, 29 November 2012

I'll Be Home for Christmas...

"Peas have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree"

(watercolour, approx. 7x4")

    When you hear the same Christmas songs over and over again, year after year, you have ample opportunity to listen to them and have fun with the lyrics!  Everyone knows the pictures the original song lyrics paint but when you take these lyrics that everyone knows and paint a new picture with them it makes the song interesting again!

    A few years ago these peas showed up in a design I used for a dinner party invite:

"Peas come for dinner"

(watercolour, approx, 5x3")


Friday, 23 November 2012

Passing it on...

    Our youngest was given an assignment by her school teacher to write a paragraph about Hereditary Traits and/or Character Traits that have been passed on to her.  She came home not knowing what to write about because writing about inheriting straight brown hair from your mom does not make much of a paragraph!  I looked at her and said, "Did you know that you are a 4th generation artist?"  She asked me what I meant and I went on to tell about how her great-grandfather was a oil/acrylic/watercolour painter and woodcarver (as well as other things), her PaPa has been a oil painter and a sign painter as well as a woodcarver along with other creative pursuits, her mom is a watercolour/acrylic painter and illustrator, and that she too is a watercolour/acrylic painter and constant doodler and sketcher!  That's four generations of creativity and to add to that her PaPa married a very talented lady ("MomMom") who was a pastel artist and now paints regularly in acrylics! 
    Well, if only you could have seen her as she sat up a little straighter - you could tell how special she felt as she realized that an ability to draw and paint came from so far back in her family line and is now residing in her!!  God has definitely blessed her!
    All that to say that some of the best times she and I share with this common ability is challenging each other to draw random ideas just for fun!  She will sit down with her sketchbook and ask, "Mom, what should draw?"  I always try to come up with something silly to inspire her sense of humour first, encouraging the wheels to begin turning as she pictures the scene in her mind...
    Recently I suggested she draw a raccoon jumping into a pile of leaves - really leaping - right into a BIG pile of leaves.  It's one of her favourite activities so I thought she could have fun with it... her hold up was that she didn't know how to draw a raccoon but I encouraged her to try her best and think about how they have a big round body, striped tail and black mask... I love what she came up with!  I especially love the raccoon squealing, "Weeeeeeee!" in mid-air!!
 "Raccoon Leaping Into Leaf Pile"
(graphite and watermarker)

I couldn't resist trying to capture that same kind of fun and spirit!  Here's my sketchbook version:

 "Raccoons Leaping in Leaves"

    Hopefully I pass on other important character traits to my children as God blesses me with time and ability.  I hope you are all inspired to nuture lovely things you see in your children and encourage them to be proud of the talents and abilities God has blessed them with!!

    ♥ Cath- 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sketchbook Sneek-a-Peek

"Study of 'micromys minutus' - Harvest Mouse"
(pencil, sketchbook)

    I love drawing mice...  I guess it's because they are so small and innocent looking - l'il shiny black eyes, long whiskers and little cup-shaped ears... After discovering a photo and small article about the Harvest Mouse (micromys minutus) in a British Edition of Country Living magazine I was inspired to fill a sketchbook page with this tiny critter.... Harvest mice are only about an inch high and build tiny round, tennis ball-sized nests in the talls grasses of the English countryside... they only eat seeds from the grasses and grains near where they live...
    ♥ Cath-  

Monday, 19 November 2012

Fa La La La La La La La La!

"Deck the Halls..."
(watercolour, holiday card design)

    When this idea struck I simply couldn't resist! I love collies (and dogs in general) and everytime I look at this design it just makes me smile! 

    ♥ Cath-   

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Kittens and Mittens and Yarn, Oh My!

"Kittens and Mittens and Yarn, Oh My!"
(watercolour, approx. 7"x9")

 After working on the minute details of the Mouse in the Mitten ("Cozy and Bright") I needed to work on
something simple and silly so I developed a simplified kitten shape and then did a bit o' research to study different colouring and patterns commonly found on cats...
    The original idea for this design was three rows of kittens wearing mittens but when I sat down to draw them I was inspired to take the design in a different direction seeing as only three of the kittens showed up with mittens.  As for the others kittens intended for the design, I found a few were still working hard at knitting and some were still just preparing their yarn and one very silly l'il brown kitten got so caught up in the whole project he still is not completely untangled!  
    This design will be available as a simple holiday card and/or a cute Winter greeting card...

    ♥ Cath-

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Mmmm... Memphis Fire Barbeque Company

    Time for a little more food blogging!  I haven't been out with my sister for awhile and she is definitely my tried-and-true favourite foodie companion when eating out.  We visited a fantastic l'il restaurant in Winona, ON called "Memphis Fire Barbeque Company" - a great place for really great comfort food!!
    We had been there before, over a year ago, and I've been craving it lately especially my favourite menu item the Big Chef Burger.  Oh, how I wish I had taken my camera to show you this amazing meal!  Let me see if I can describe it for you...  Picture this:
    A light and lofty kaiser roll cut in half and holding a hand-formed, flat-top grilled 1/4 lb. patty, that is if you order the "lighter, one patty" option, which you do have to ask for - the menu original sports TWO 1/4 lb patties!!
    Cheddar cheese is melted on top of the patty, just gooey and melty enough to hold a handful of thick-cut homemade bacon chunks (ya really can't call 'em 'bits') piled high onto the burger-half of the kaiser roll. 
    On the top half of the roll is fresh sliced tomatoes, crisp lettuce, cut-so-thin-you-can-practically-see-through-'em onion slices that I think must have been soaked in water because they don't have that slap-you-in-the-face onion flavour, the water bath makes them less intense and gives them a great crunch even when they are cut super thin, and wait there's more: crinkle-cut sweet pickles piled high to top it off - and somewhere in there is a great ranch dressing too - it's either under the burger or under the tomatoes - I didn't go searching.
    Now to eat this work of art before you... Take two hands to pick up the top half being sure to secure it's burden of toppings and gingerly flip it onto the mountainous botton half which, when done successfully creates a burger that sits a good 5-6 inches high - OH YEAH!!! My only suggestion for approaching this Mammoth Mountain of Mmmmm is to flatten the burger down as well as you can with the palm of your hand then just go for it - it's a two-hander through and through - just grab it up and have at it - it's a l'il drippy but wow, it's a lot delicious!!
    As for sides there are a lot of choices but I will only mention ones that I have had in my visits to this great restaurant: Fresh cut fries - A-MA-ZING!!! <== say that in a sing-song voice or in a matter-of-fact voice - trust me, either way works!  They have Heinz Ketchup on each table - and Heinz truly is the best ketchup - but with these fries you won't be looking for anything to dip them in - they don't need anything - they are perfectly seasoned straight from the kitchen - sorry Heinz!
    Another great side you can choose is their Macaroni & Cheese... portioned out in white stoneware ramikins this Mac & Cheese takes me right back to childhood - this is the real deal people!!  Just like my Mom's and my Mom's Mac & Cheese is GOOD!!  They even serve it with a buttery crumb topping - just like Mom did - YUM!!
    This will sound like a ridiculous amount of food but this is research, I want to be able to report as best as I can on this restaurant - so I also ordered their Coney Island Fries - a small order.  Fresh-cut fries, blanketed with their just-spicy-enough 'Fast Chili', a dallop of their amazing smoke-house-smoked cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese and chopped green onions.  One side note on their chili and if this sounds strange to you, I urge you to just try it anyway, I'm pretty certain they use the following spices to spice it up: chili powder, possibly a little cumin, definitely nutmeg and maybe a little cinnamon - it is delicious - and I don't even like nutmeg!
    And for dessert they often have a long list of homemade pies (made by a lady who lives down the road from Memphis Fire) but rarely will anyone have the room left to order one - but if you have a sweet tooth that won't quit they will box a slice to go! I ordered a peanut butter cream to go - which is really Southern and it is tasty!
    Bottom line, if you like Southern barbeque you'll LOVE Memphis Fire Barbecue Company.  If you appreciate completely-from-scratch comfort food made by chefs/owners who put quality above supply-and-demand then you'll love Memphis Fire Barbeque Company - follow the link above and look over their menu - it's like 1950's diner meets Mom's home cookin' with fantastic barbecue sauce and applewood smoke thrown in for good flavour! 
    ♥ Cath-

    P.S. Remember if you want to go and try their chicken or ribs, they are only available for evening dinners - Chicken: Monday through Wednesday, Ribs: Thursday through Sunday - it's recommended that you call ahead and reserve your choice as they only cook a limited number each evening and they go quick!!  This isn't chain restaurant food - this is quality, take your time and do it right food!
    P.P.S. If you watch the Food Network, I've heard that "You Gotta Eat Here!" filmed there back in the Spring - so hopefully that episode will be airing soon! 
    Also, this restaurant has an on-going mission to get Guy Fieri, also of Food Network fame, to film a "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" segment there.  

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Cookies That Turned Into a Cake

    Having left over pumpkin puree is always an inspiration for me, well, at least for the last 5 years.  It wasn't until 5 years ago that I actually started liking pumpkin - *Gasp!*  Well, the only pumpkin I had known up until then was the thick, sweet/spicy filling that, in my opinion ruined a perfectly good pastry shell... I tucked it into a category in my mind that also housed mincemeat and red bean paste - that category is titled: "Why??"
    I'm happy to report that unlike Jane Austen's popular hero, Mr. Darcy, whose "good opinion once lost is lost forever", I gave pumpkin another chance and discovered that there is more to it than I had previously given it credit for!
    I have come to enjoy an occassional slice of a well-baked pumpkin pie and have even gone on to use pumpkin puree in cakes, cookies, yeast rolls and also upped the yum-factor of pumpkin by oven-roasting it like squash and serving it as a tasty side.
    That's the history of my pumpkin experience, now on to the present! 
    I had some left over pumpkin puree after making my annual batches of Pumpkin Apple Spice muffins for the artisans/vendors at our school's Thanksgiving weekend ARTfest so I set my mind to think of a cookie or muffin or something, that would be nice way to use the puree up... I thought molassses would probably be nice with it and began to think of my Mom's Molasses Gem cookies - I could probably add pumpkin to them somehow - I didn't have time to test my theory - it's been a crazy week - so I headed to the computer and came across a couple inspiring recipes - I took components from both and came up with what I thought would be cookie bars and instead came out as cake.  But hey, I'm not complaining!  Wouldn't life be sweet if everything you put in your oven came out as cake?! - with the exception of bacon of course!!

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Molasses Cake 

    The cookie recipe I used is from My Baking Addiction but with these 'tweaks':

1. I substituted 1.5 tsps of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp allspice for the pumpkin pie spice.
2. I omitted the black pepper all together.
3. After combing the dry ingredients with the butter mixture I spread the dough into a greased 9x13" baking dish and sprinkled the dough with streusel topping.

    The streusel topping was inspired by a recipe found at one of my favourite blog stops: Chef in Training.  The streusel recipe can be found on this recipe page.

    I baked this creation in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, although a couple minutes less would have been perfect, so 20-22 minutes is best.  After cooling on a rack for 30 minutes I cut it into 24 generous pieces and they came out about an inch and half high with moist, tender crumb like a coffee cake - not at all what I was expecting - I thought I'd end up with Autumn-Spiced Tollhouse Cookie kinda thing, but not every surprise is a bad one!  This cake would be delicious served with tea or hot apple cider!

    With the cold temperatures we've been having and our families hectic schedule it's comforting to have a warmly spiced snack cake waiting for the kids when they get home from school and for when hubby gets home from work! 

    ♥ Cath-


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Today is the day...


P.S. This duck seemed to be saying, "Be sure to get my good side."  : )  I couldn't resist her sweet 'smile'!  I know that this duck will find her way into Elderbery Hedge sometime soon!
Photo taken at Happy Rolph's Bird Sanctuary, Port Weller, ON.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cozy and Bright...

"Cozy and Bright"
(watercolour, approx. 7x10")

    The idea for this painting came to me while working on another winter themed painting way back in October 2011.  The idea was quickly recorded in my sketchbook and then a month or so later I grabbed some watercolour paper and began laying out the picture and even started painting a bit of it...  that was alomst a year ago - but now, after after several days work, here it is finally complete! 
    I learned a lot with this painting and pushed at the boundaries of my comfort zone so much that I'm sure if you could actually see it it would now look like a crazy amoeba!  Ah, but 'tis the only way to grow and develop so I'm sure my comfort zone will quickly adapt to it's new shape and size and be ready to be stretched again!  Yeah!! 

    I imagine this l'il mouse is humming and thinking happy thoughts of upcoming celebrations - look at that smile! - he's definitely joying in the anticipation of it all!
    I found myself humming right along with him as I worked away at this painting - his happiness is contagious - I guess that's why I choose to create these kinds of illustrations - they inspire felicity!!
    ♥ Cath-


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Spot o' Tea....

    I enjoyed a day out with my very dear friends at a new tearoom that we have been wanting to try for a few months now - Chadwick's Antiques & Tea Shoppe in Ridgeway, ON. 
    Two beautiful old storefronts open into adjoining shops, Chadwick's Antiques & Tea Shoppe and Lemon Serbet's Sweet Shoppe. Each shop is filled to the brim with antiques and imported treats from Britain.  The building housing these shops is circa 1890 and is very charming...
    We decided to go into the Lemon Sherbet's Sweet Shoppe first where a Harry Potter fan would delight in all things wizarding: wands, scarves, cloaks, owls, chocolate frogs, and Bernie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.  Alongside all these whimsical items are shelves stocked with British treats: Tavener's fruit/mint candies in travel-size tins, Curly Wurly, Double Decker, Frys Turkish Delight, Sherbet Fountains, Catherine Wheels, Flake, Frys Chocolate and Orange Cream as well as a variety of loose sweets: lemon sherbets, rhubarb and custard, chocolimes, and much, much more.  Note: all the loose sweets are sold by the dozen and to the Chadwick's family a dozen means 14!  Woo-hoo!!  
    One of the tea tables nestled amongst the antiques
      The tearoom is actually a shared space with the antique shop.  Tables of varying sizes are dotted throughout the shop - each creating a little vignette in and amongst the many antique displays.  It made for non-stop conversation as we all looked around and reminisced about our parent's and grandparent's houses that held the same or similar items...

A place setting on the table we chose...

    I don't know about you but I love the approachable-ness of mix and match fine china.  I love that every place setting had a charger, two plates and a matched set teacup and saucer but the nothing else matched - it's just plain friendly.
    We all ordered the same lunch: Chicken and Mushroom pie, an mini pie (perfect for a lunch) made of puff pastry and a delicious chicken/mushroom filling, alongide a fresh salad of greens, sliced strawberries, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and fresh mushrooms drizzled with an imported Salad Cream (this Cream tastes like a dressing made with mayonnaise and just the perfect amounts of white vinegar and sugar - similar to what you would put on a fresh broccoli salad). I asked for a scone because I think a good tea room is determined by it's scones - and I'm happy to report that theirs reminded me of the scones my Mom made when I was a kid - so they definitely get the thumbs up from me!  Overall, we thought the food was tasty and priced well!
    Now for what I bought in the Lemon Sherbet's Sweet Shoppe:
Walkers 'Mega Monster Munch'
"Massive hunks of ROAST BEEF flavour baked corn snack"
Verdict? They are pretty good!  Huge crunch factor with a beef bouillon-y essence.
Buy again? Probably not... but worth the buy if you simply love to try new flavours.  

Cadbury 'Picnic'
"A feast full of peanuts, caramel & raisins" 
Verdict? This was the BIG winner!!
Tastes like an 'Oh Henry!' bar with a couple Glossette raisins along for the ride - so good!!
Buy again? Definitely!!

  We are now on the hunt for another tearoom we have not yet tried....
I'll let you know when we have found one!


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Be Strong...


P.S. I took this photo in Jordan, ON.  I have always loved the translucency of leaves on a bright clear day - they make for such cheery photos!!  

Sunday, 9 September 2012

He will make straight your paths...


P.S. My friend and I came across this bridge while walking on the beautifully maintained trails
at the Forty Mile Creek Park (aka the Elizabeth Street Pumphouse) in Grimsby, ON. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Bald-Faced Hornet - Hedged!

    Hedged (adj.) an artistic adaptation of the realism of a creature (mammal, insect, bird) to the point it is personified and smiles back when looked upon.

   I enjoy capturing the essence of a human or creature in my own style, something that allows the viewer to quickly recognize the person/animal depicted and if done well, causes them to smile too...
   One of my favourite joys while 'hedging' a creature is to see it there on my page just as I'm placing the last few pencil strokes and suddenly a happy greeting escapes me, "Oh, hello!"  It often comes as a surprise to me as though I've walked around a corner and bumped into someone and they seem happy for the occassion... Does that make sense?   One thing I know, if the movie "Miss Potter" is an accurate depiction of  how Beatrix Potter 'interacted' with her created characters, I'm definitely not the first to experience this joy.
    All this to say that drawing the realistic rendering of the bald-faced hornet was tense and I kept at it only because I was determined to truly study it.  What a difference when it came time to begin 'hedging' this hornet - I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and I began to smile (I simply couldn't help it!) and I kept smiling the whole time I worked away at it!  Talk about inspiring!!  As soon as the face was formed I could see a personality coming into shape.... a conversation was started...  
    I would like you to meet Newt.  She is a sweet l'il bald-faced hornet who dreams of opening her very own Stationery Shop in Elderberry Hedge... She spends her days collecting beautiful fallen leaves, petals, and grasses.  After carefully drying these finds between smooth stones or in bunches hanging in her large treetop home she creatively incorporates them into her homemade paper pulp mixtures and presses them into lovely sheets of paper - perfect for birthday party invitations or notepaper for keeping in touch with a long-distance friend.


♥ Cath-

Thursday, 6 September 2012

School's In and I'm Back!

    What a refreshing summer!!  It is always good for me to take a step back and figure out what is working and what isn't in my day-to-day and these last two months have allowed me that freedom! I'm working with a new game plan and finding it exactly what I need! Inspiring!! Yeah!! 

    On with the blog!

    My girls and I were invited to join my friend and her children in an all-day outing to a local conservation area where we enjoyed canoeing and a refreshing (aka cold!) dip in a 1-acre pool... we had a picnic betwixt these two water activities and it was while we were eating that I discovered two things:
1. I'm not very good at picking picnic locations
2. Bees LOVE lemon-lime flavoured pop!

    I was fascinated by one of these flying specimen, it was BIG and black and looked like it had yellow-y war paint, 'William Wallace-Highland warrior-style', on it's face, thorax, and abdomen.  I had no idea what is was until I returned home and looked up the descrption on the internet... a Bald-Faced Hornet! Known for it's large paper-like nests and it's reputation for multiple stings while guarding said nest. Phew!! Glad we only discovered that online and not during our lunch!

    Anyways, short-story long, the next day my friend's son was back to work at a local farm where he was told to get rid of a bee that was building a nest in one of their packing crates and he recognized it to be a Bald-Faced hornet. Remembering that I was fascinated by them the day before he somehow euthanized it and brought me the specimen so I could study it and paint it! 

    And so I set to work on Tuesday morning after I saw the girls off to school and started my first specimen study/painting, and let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for botanical/entomological artists who create beautiful art for scientific study and textbooks.... even though that is not my style I enjoyed prodding my brain to focus on the minute details and draw them as accurately as I could...

    By Wednesday afternoon I had a completed study of the profile and face of the Bald-Faced Hornet:

Bald-Faced Hornet, Specimen Profile Study

Bald-Faced Hornet, Face Study

        This study inspired the newest member of the Elderberry Hedge village and you'll be able to meet her in my next post... I call it 'The Bald-Faced Hornet Hedged' ... adapting a 'creature' to fit my illustration style whilst maintaining a sense of realism - or something like that!  :  )  

    ♥ Cath-

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The blessing of rain....


P.S. This photo is of the Upper Falls at Ball's Falls Conservation Area in Jordan, ON. I was at these falls not five days earlier taking 25th anniversary photos of a beautiful couple and I stood right at the brink... there was not a drop trickling over the edge - it's beautiful what a little rainfall can do!  Thanks be to God for His generous blessings!!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

God's Light...

♥ Cath-

    P.S. After the art show on Saturday I had to time to stop and sit and enjoy looking over the beautiful verdure that is Twenty Valley (from Jordan Museum grounds) in the dazzling late afternoon sun.  

Art in the Village 2012

    Phew!!  Made it through my first ever art show!!  Our wonderful town had an Art in the Village day to celebrate Niagara being selected as the Cultural Capital of Canada 2012.  About twenty local artists were selected to display their work, me being one of them - Yeah!!  Here is what my tent looked like when all set up: 

        I had a wonderful day meeting new people and hearing their comments on my paintings and illustrations.  It was good for me to see my work through other people's eyes for a short time...
Feeling very blessed for the opportunity and encourage you to visit the rest of the Niagara Nights of Art scheduled from now until November 3rd.  You are sure to be inspired!!

    ♥ Cath-

Monday, 23 July 2012

Happy 18th Anniversary!

Our Wedding Day
July 23, 1994

18 years ago - Wow, time flies!!
    I have always loved the Latin phrase "Semper Amemus" which means 'let us love forever' or 'that we may love forever'... Nothing is more inspiring than knowing that you are married to your best friend and the love of your life!  So thankful to God for blessing us, may He bless us with many more years together! 
    ♥ Cath-  


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Love never ends...

"Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never ends."

(1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

♥ Cath-

P.S. Another addition to my heart-shaped rock photo collection...
found in the path along the Bruce Trail, Jordan, July 7, 2012 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

"Do not be anxious about anything..."

It is hard to do but well worth the practice it takes to replace worrying with earnest prayer!

♥ Cath-

P.S. This photo was taken in Campden, ON - I just loved the horizontal bands of colour!

Campfire - Preliminary Sketch

Preliminary Sketch
(H/HB graphite, sketchbook)

    I was talking with a friend this past week about how much her family looks forward to campfires in the backyard and making S'mores over the open flame... She then said I should make a picture of several woodland animals sitting around a campfire making S'mores...  I could see it all in my mind the moment she mentioned it and so I grabbed my sketchbook when I got home and worked up this sketch.  Like the preliminary sketch of Nicholas in his shop of antiquities light and shadow are very important in creating the proper atmosphere...
    I may be working this one as a painting while displaying my artwork at the Jordan Musuem grounds (3800 Main Street, Jordan) on Saturday, July 28th from 10am - 6pm.  The town of Lincoln has created an 'Art in the Village' day in participation with the "Niagara: Cultural Capital of Canada" program for 2012.  I submitted some artwork and was selected so I will have some of my acrylic work there and many of my watercolours... nothing is for sale - it is a display show only - I am looking forward to seeing you all there!

    ♥ Cath-    

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Drawing in the Shade - Take 2

"Drawing in the Shade"
(watercolour, approx. 8x8")

    I sat down to work on the ideas I had after completing the original "Drawing in the Shade" and this is what I accomplished... it's more interesting now with a few more objects of interest... it feels more peaceful.
The bunny is doing what he enjoys in a comfortable spot in the yard....

    Here are a couple details from the painting:

I definitely enjoy this painting more than the original...

Happy, less humid days to paint really help!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

"Do not lose heart..."

"So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer nature is wasting away,
our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen  but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal."
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) 

♥ Cath-

P.S. This photo was taken a few weeks ago in the beautiful gardens of my dear friends John & Lisa. 

Drawing in the Shade

"Drawing in the Shade" 
(watercolour, 4x4", cropped detail)

    We don't have central-air in our house and this last week has made us all feel slug-like in our thoughts and activities... We have traveled to area malls to enjoy an hour of air-conditioning and tried to stay still for long periods of time so as not to be in a constant state of "sweat".
    Above is a portion of a watercolour doodle I made while still in the mode of thinking cooling thoughts (see also: "Meeting in the Middle") and had the energy to sit at my art table without risk of sweat droplets falling on my painting! :)
    Sitting under a big shade tree where the air is clear and light, the sun is warm but the temperature under the thick foliage is several degrees cooler than in direct sun... Perfect atmosphere for inspiring thoughts!  
   I don't know if I like the complete doodle... actually I know I don't prefer it - yet.  Looking at it now I know I need to put more into it... more options for the bunny to have chosen from... why did he choose to lean up against the knobbly bark of the big tree when there was a beautiful l'il settee full of plump cushions just over there?  These are the kind of after-thoughts I have had... so this is only a doodle and one day soon I will create a more complete story picture showing more details....  Here is the complete drawing so you can see what I mean:

    The hint of a setteee just over by the climbing rose would be better and maybe even a brightly coloured ball over to the left in the middle ground to have given bunny more options showing his choice of sitting in the shade to draw over running around kicking a ball.... Hmmm, I tend to grow and stretch with every doodle and drawing, always questioning, what more could have been done to make this more complete, more interesting....  and these mental musings are enough for me to accomplish in this heat! :)

    As I type these last few words I hear thunder outside - could we have a welcome relief from the humidity and high temperatures?? Mayhaps after the storm we will be blessed with a perfect atmosphere for more inspiring thoughts!!  Thanks be to God!!

    ♥ Cath- 

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord...

"Humble yoursleves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
(James 4:10)

    This photo was taken a year ago at the Good Earth in Beamsville.... the land/business owner graciously allows participants of the plein air painting classes to have free range of the property including the area surrounding her sweet l'il cottage... this is a birdbath I discovered and fell in love with...
This year while visiting again I found the gardens are much overgrown and the birdbath almost completely out of sight, but it makes me smile to think that one day someone will pull back the tendrils of ivy and bits of brush and discover this l'il gem all over again! I imagine they would feel quite like the character Mary Lennox in Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden".

    ♥ Cath-  

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Who will receive blessing from the Lord?


    P.S. This photo was taken at Charles Daley Park in Lincoln... I was fascinated by the 'striped' rocks along the shoreline and as I snapped away with my camera a beautiful crash of water struck them - very inspiring!! 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Plein Air in JUNE!!!!

   Today was the second half of my wonderful birthday gift from my generous husband - a day plein air painting at Good Earth in Beamsville!!  A extrememly talented local artist and all-round lovely person, Kim Rempel has plein air workshops at Good Earth once a month (May - September) and encourages all participants to shrug off limitations and just have at it!! 
    Well today, I took that advice to heart and let myself be inspired by the beautiful perennial gardens on the property and let the brush strokes fall!

"Black-Eyed Susans"
(acrylic, 12x12" stretched canvas)
    I don't know if you call these Black-Eyed Susans or Orange Coneflowers but they were a lovely golden yellow and a beautiful contrast to the surrounding flowers and foliage!
    And that's not all!! After lunch - which was AMAZING - I was inspired to paint a second piece - a companion of sorts to the first painting:

"Black-Eyed Susans Too"
(acrylic, 12x12" stretched canvas)

    I can tell that my mind was more at ease about accomplishing this second piece. Not to get all analytical about it but the strokes just appear more free and smooth - relaxed... that's the effect good food has on me! : )

Here they are together:

    A wonderful day that has renewed my faith in myself as a student - I'm still learning and developing!!  To prove the point - here is the painting I accomplished at my first plein air painting workshop (I've now attended four) on July 8, 2011 - one year ago, give or take a week:

    I've developed some in the last year! It's exciting to see that!!  I'm thankful to God!!  Woo-Hoooo!! 

    ♥ Cath- 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

"Meeting in the Middle"

"Meeting in the Middle"
(watercolour, 8x8" approx.)

    I can't believe I am typing this but I have to write the truth of it - I was inspired by the heat and humidity today!  Ever since I was a kid summer heat mixed with humidity has been something I have longed to get away from. But today while preparing to paint it struck me that the only way to combat this horrid combination is to use my imagination to focus on something refreshing and cool... 
   Water... lake... ocean... Okay, now we're getting somewhere!  Underwater ocean scene with..... a polar bear, yeah, a polar bear! Okay, every illustration needs to tell a story so what is he doing, other than swimming?  Hmmmm... the polar bear is swimming to meet a friend! Now for a friend... a fish? No... Hmmm, an animal that lives in the ocean... oh, oh, I know - a penguin!! 
    Umm, Cath, penguins live in the Antarctic and polar bears, um, yeah, they live in the Arctic - opposite sides of the earth!
    Okay, okay, I can still work with this....  Haha!! I know, I'll title it "Meeting in the Middle" as though the polar bear started swimming South and the penguins why, they were swimming North, you know like a family vacation of sorts and they MET IN THE MIDDLE!!  Woo-HOOO!!!

   Well, it worked... I stayed cool and refreshed all day and we don't even have air-conditioning in our house - so my imagination has shown itself to be in full-working order!!

   ♥ Cath-

Monday, 18 June 2012

Give this illustration a title...

(watercolour, 8x8" approx.)

   Normally, I will think up a fun name for an illustration while I'm working on it but who can be normal on a Monday?  I made this illustration on a whim and so far I have not been able to come up with a title, so I'm asking you to look at my illustration and suggest one.  I love inspired "first impulse" titles so have at it!! Name this piece!!

   ♥ Cath-   

P.S. Leave your title suggestion as the comment! Also, I think if you are using Firefox it hinders your ability to comment - I suggest viewing this blog on Internet Explorer.  c.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Worthy of Praise...

Spend today thinking of all that you can say "thank you" to God for...
all you can praise Him for, and then do it!

♥ Cath- 

Strawberries with Edward

"Strawberries with Edward"
(watercolour, 8x8")

    A week ago I was invited to a tea room for luncheon and whilst perusing the adjoining giftshop my eyes happened upon a beautiful cast iron sculpture of a rabbit - a paperweight.  I knew without a doubt that this l'il fellow would make for a charming companion on my art table.  I asked him if he would like to come and join me on my adventures in painting and he seemed very contented with the idea.  So home he came!  He has spent the last few days getting aquainted with the tabletop and the girls asking after him and admiring him - which he quite enjoyed! At last settling in, he chose a spot on the table that is bathed in soft northern light for a majoirty of the day.
   Just a day ago I was invited by a wonderful friend to join her in picking strawberries at a local patch.  We had such a lovely time, enjoying the sun and the fresh air... when I arrived home and began tending to the berries I looked over at Edward sitting in his favourite spot and then down again at the beautiful red berries in my hand and inspiration struck!!  
   To capture a little more of the beautiful light which Edward enjoys I placed some of the berries in a glass jam jar and set them down in front of the window and well, you know the rest...

    ♥ Cath-

Thursday, 14 June 2012

More Props...

The remaining props of which I have photographs are for the following plays being performed Thursday at our school by students who are in the Sunbit Theatre Company in-school drama program:
"The Princess Who Couldn't Cry" and "Oliver Twisted"

Royal Banners for the Princess play 
(One with a crown, one with an onion)

Chalk Outline for 'Oliver Twisted'
(a film noir-style mystery)
Two of these 'outlines' were put up on a solid black wall at
back of stage with caution tape artistically angled across them...
I also made matching thrones (yellow and red) for the Princess play 
but made them at school and didn't have my camera with me...
Looking forward to my current busy-ness calming a little bit as school
begins to wind down but loving these last days of excitement that
cause most everyone to walk around with a smile
and the energy to reach the finish line!
My mind is humming with ideas for summer projects!  Woo-hooo!
♥ Cath-