New addition: baby Asher Leif

Well I have the finishing touch here to the Woodland Nursery series: baby Asher joined our family on February 4. So far he has been just beautiful and fairly easy/quiet. He is 2.5 weeks old, so some of those days are naturally easier as he sleeps a lot. We don’t sleep so much though!
For those interested in birth stories, read on (for others, skip this paragraph!) This birth was not the easiest of my three, though all were natural/unmedicated, essentially. I think I was expecting this to be less painful; perhaps I forgot how much it hurts or it has just faded over the 5.5 years since I last had a baby. My 2nd was a smaller baby (7 lb 2 oz), so I actually think it was easier. I had about 3 days of early labour, during which I tried to get lots of rest, but timing contractions and expecting labour to happen still tired me out. On February 3rd, I had contractions from about 3 am on. My husband decided he better not go to work. Contractions continued all day but not intense enough to be “the real thing.” At 6 pm the midwives came by to check on me and did a sweep. I had mentally prepared myself to not go into labour that day. But shortly after eating dinner, I had some seriously painful contractions. I tried to read my kids their bedtime story and couldn’t keep going through the pain. By 9 pm I was in labour. By 10:30 or 11, contractions were about 4 minutes apart. We met the midwives at the hospital at 12, and I was 6 cm and in crazy pain. I laboured this way for a couple of hours, not progressing much until my waters were broken. I was rather grumpy and didn’t want to go through labour. I thought later, if I could have only held the baby before going through that, I would have been more motivated! I was trying to avoid finishing the job naturally but did not have anyone giving in and giving me drugs or c-sections.

I had two midwives, a nurse, a nursing student and my husband present. During the transition stage I used the gas, which is the first labour I’ve used anything for the pain. It did help me get through that part. Once my waters were gone, I quickly transitioned to pushing and within about 15 minutes I sent little Asher into the world, weighing in at 39 weeks as my heaviest baby at 9 lb. I liked the end the best – I felt like I could do something about speeding up the birth, and knew I would soon have the baby in my arms and the whole thing would be over with. Every day that has passed has made that pain more worth it, and in perspective it’s only one day of pain really, compared to a lifetime with a precious child.


Our kids love their baby brother, especially my daughter who loves to help, particularly to dress him. I’m finding baby care easier this time around, since both the older kids are in school. It was so much harder last time when I had a 20 month old daughter under foot! We feel very blessed and happy to have such a healthy baby.

Sewing project: knitting bag

I finally had the chance to make this “knitting bag” on the weekend. I’ve had these vintage wooden handles kicking around for years, and thought it would be good to sew up a little tote to keep my knitting away from the cat. It may seem that I am on a yellow kick, and I guess that’s because I am! I bought this fabric in the summer when we were in Oregon, but hadn’t had a chance to use it yet.

vintage wooden handles cloth bag

About 10 years ago I sewed my “bird purse” using another pair of wooden handles I had. That time, I made a cute little purse. I tell people I don’t like sewing – I’m honestly not very good at it – I could never sell the things that I make because there are tons of messy little spots where I’m figuring things out as I go. The process of making this bird purse put me off for years! I like designing prototypes, but don’t like to try to replicate items to sell or give away.

handmade purse

“Bird Purse” circa 2005

So that being said, I’m not even going to pretend to posture this post as a tutorial; in fact, I did not even take any progress photos. Basically I traced the rough shape of another cloth bag, measured it against my biggest pair of knitting needles in an effort to get them to fit, and then just experimented. The bag is lined and I made a bottom shape by tracing the beater attachment from our Kitchenaid.

handmade bag with wooden handles

One tip I’ll mention is that after I had the entire thing sewed up, I realized that I could barely squeeze a hand past the inflexible wooden handles! I forgot to allow for their structure in any way, so I had to remove the seam from the top sides of the bag where I have the grey material and refinish them by hand to allow the bag to flap open and access the inside better.

handmade knitting tote

So that is the story of getting crafty on my first day of maternity leave on Saturday. Now to finish knitting the little photo prop I’ve been storing inside.

Ikea dresser makeovers

ikea tarva before and afterNeedless to say, our bedroom redecorating has spiraled over the past couple of months. True to third trimester nesting instincts, one idea led to another. We sold the old IKEA change table we had in this nook in our room, and had a hard time finding something with character to replace it that would fit into this spot, which is a little less than 35 inches wide.Detail of dresser

Over the Christmas holidays, we finally decided on this plan to refinish an IKEA Tarva dresser, which is quite cheap new (and not very well designed, we discovered!). I picked up the wooden appliques from Home Depot, and the new knobs from Pier 1 Imports clearance. Like a good pregnant wife, my husband ended up being tasked with a lot of the grunt work.

Painting stage

Painting stage

I should mention that we also repainted our Hemnes night stands, which were in antique stain but don’t match our bed, crib or new dresser. We had to buy some ebony-coloured stain because our new Hemnes dresser came with one piece of wood that was not stained on the out-facing side! So we used the same stain to do the tops of all three pieces of furniture to create a consistent theme. My husband sanded the night tables down to bare wood, and primed everything except the tops of the furniture with KILZ spray primer. Next he painted everything with yellow latex paint we had on hand – we did a lot of reading on different ways of painting furniture and decided this would cheer up the space without us having to buy chalk paint or a new colour of paint. Once it dried though, I found this shade of yellow too light.

yellow paint shades: bottom is the latex colour, top has acrylic paint and natural pigment glazed over it.

yellow paint shades: bottom is the latex colour, top has acrylic paint and natural pigment glazed over it.

I took all of the finished yellow pieces and painted a glaze over top, which was a mix of acrylic medium, a few shades of yellow artist acrylic paint, and even some natural pigment I have on hand from France. This created a better shade of yellow. Next, my husband did some antiquing using sanding and by applying and removing stain. He used a blend of the ebony stain from the tops of the dressers, and a chestnut colour we had in the garage. We finished the pieces off with a couple of coats of polycrylic.

Drawer fronts after being "antiqued"

Drawer fronts after being “antiqued”

One of my favourite additions to the room is actually this round mirror that we found for $35 at HomeSense. It’s like a porthole that has totally opened up the room, especially with the feature wall reflecting in it. The round light above it I think is a bit of a design disaster, being almost the same size and shape. I might have to find a different lamp shade at some point, but for now it’s perfect.

Finished product!
One of my inspiration pieces for this project was a dresser by Little Mustard Seed (view dresser). I tried to replicate this hand painted style (it was harder than I thought it would be – I think I should have used a finer brush but I did it in about 20 minutes one night after work).

nightstand doors, hand painted

nightstand doors, hand painted

Here is how they turned out:

Hemnes night stand refinished

Refinished Hemnes night stand

So we learned a lot about refinishing and repainting furniture over the holidays, and we are glad to be finished! Our room feels much homier. We don’t have a “before” picture showing the turquoise tree wall, but it was gray. I think we’re finished for now, though you might notice we still have one Hemnes dresser that is in antique stain. We may eventually refinish it! We were going to sell it and buy the black brown, but we already have the stain etc….

Here are a few more pictures:

"Before" room photo

“Before” room photo



Master bedroom nursery with birch tree wall

“After” nursery view

100 year old Christmas list

Originally posted on The Farmhouse Chronicles:

As many of us in 2013 are thinking about holiday gifts and loved ones, I thought it would be interesting to share my great grandmother’s lists from a century ago. The lists go back to 1906, and I’ve posted the pages from 1906-7, 1912-13 and 1923.

1912 - 1913 Christmas list 1912-1913 Christmas list

Christmas presents – 1913
Mother – felt shoes
Mrs. Duck – cream & sugar
Mr. Duck – suspenders
Leta – nothing
Minnie – cream & sugar set
Tom – duck
Kids –
Maggie – apron (white)
Ruth – Box writing papers
Clara – Fern dish
Jane – Handkerchiefs
Nora – nothing
Clarence – fur lined gloves.

1906-1907 Christmas list 1906-1907 Christmas list

1923 Christmas list Christmas list from 1923

View original

Woodland Nursery part 4: Watercolour paintings

watercolour paintings of fox and fawn

Fox & Fawn watercolour paintings by Nancy Hildebrand 2014

These two little creatures are ready to populate our woodland nursery. I didn’t realize how quick it would be to do these paintings. Usually, I do watercolours that cover the entire page so more time is required for each stage. These sketches took about 10 or 15 minutes each. I applied a little masking fluid to places I wanted to keep white.

animal sketches

Sketches with masking fluid, waiting to be painted.

I had a busy week, so didn’t get back to these forest friends until the weekend. The first phase of watercolour took about half an hour each, then I had to let them dry. I used my Roussillon pigments on the fawn – a lot of the colours were perfect. I so seldom get a chance to do watercolour that many of my paint tubes are dried up. But I can still just get the colour straight out of the tube onto the brush by dampening the dried paint.

Meanwhile, our family went for a hike to enjoy the +8 C weather and sunshine. My daughter didn’t want to go at first, because she was so enjoying the relaxing family day at home in her pajamas, so we just let her wear them on the hike. The kids were immediately having a grand time hiking up mountain bike trails. They found the look out especially exciting, because they could see our grocery store and street from above.

view of Fraser Valley from Sumas Mountain

pregnancy photo on mountaintop

Me, 31 weeks pregnant

Back at home, I was able to remove the masking fluid and put the finishing touches on the paintings. This little project has reminded me how quick watercolour can be…if I practiced more often I could get better at these.

fawn painting fox painting 2

Woodland nursery part 3: Fox and Fawn

My daughter loves to paint, and over the years I’ve learned to let her paint along with me sometimes, although I am naturally quite solitary when I’m working on creative projects. I had seen a cute painting of a fox here, and I thought it would be a fun addition to the “Woodland nursery” we’re creating.

painting a fox with watercolour paint

My daughter and I got out the watercolours for her first lesson using “real” watercolour paint and paper.

I find a lot of people are nervous to try watercolour. I started with this medium, so I quite like the effect you can get on real watercolour paper – the way the paint dries and the colours mix on the paper. We used rag paper out of a book I have. It quickly became clear that sketching this fox shape wasn’t going to be an easy lesson for a seven-year-old, so she claimed my first sketch and I drew myself another one.

fox watercolour paintings

Two foxes

I plan to paint another one to fit into a pair of white antiqued frames I bought for the woodland wall. We’ll also try painting fawns like this one.

watercolor fox

Woodland nursery part 2: Forest Wall

wall trees taped for painting

Creating a tree mural using painter’s tape

Next idea for our room was to paint one of the grey walls turquoise. We’ve had this paint for a couple of years, so we thought this would be a good colour for a feature wall for our surprise baby gender. This is our third baby, but first time we have not found out if it’s a boy or a girl in advance.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ll notice that I love the forest, hiking and nature. So even though our room won’t be a nursery forever, I thought I’d like having trees on the wall. I looked at quite a few image inspirations and then just started making trees with tape. My son had a fever that day, and he was on a TV ban, so instead of TV he got to watch this take shape. It took me a couple of hours to do the taping. I probably could have done it freehand, but thought it would look more crisp using tape.

Tree mural in progress

First coat of paint on.

It took two coats of white latex paint to cover the turquoise. I thought about only doing one to allow more texture and a subtler effect, but it looked better with two coats. Because we had only painted the turquoise a week before, I did not want to leave the tape on longer than necessary, so we removed it the same day. It did still lift the turquoise in a few spots. When we get time, we plan to touch up the turquoise and white. For example, there are gaps where the tape was where branches crossed trees.

birch trees painted on turquoise wall

After removing the tape & hanging the bird mobile.

You’ll notice the finished bird mobile in the picture, above, too. I put it together while my husband painted the second coat of paint. To attach the birds, I sewed them onto the sticks, and secured them all with a dab of hot glue, to keep them from flipping on their perches. The sticks are connected with fishing line. When I was finished, the bottom perch was stubbornly going upside down! I finally solved that problem by sewing the birds’ backs to the perch above, instead of trying to tie the string around the bottom stick.

You can see some of the imperfections in the paint, below, that I’ll touch up. For more information about making the mobile, see my previous post.

Cloth Bird mobile DIY

The bird mobile

detail with cage