Monday, November 29, 2010

A Green Nursery

Creating a healthy home has been a priority of ours since we began our renovations five years ago. Our motivation was due, in part, to the fact that this was a home in which we hoped to raise children. So naturally, creating the healthiest nursery possible was also main priority for us. It motivated all of our choices, from furniture and wall treatments, down to the rug.

These are the choices we made:

The Cribs: We chose the Da Vinci Jenny Lind crib because it is made with wood harvested from sustainably-managed forests. It's also lead and phthalate free, and stained in a non-toxic finish. Also, the teething rail is BPA free.

The Crib Mattresses: We chose Naturepedic organic mattresses. They offer a non-toxic waterproof surface that includes 100% food-grade polyethylene. They are also hypoallergenic, filled with organic cotton filling.

The Crib Sheets: We chose 100% organic cotton crib sheets.

The Armoire: It was important to us to not purchase any furniture for the nursery that was made with manufactured wood, that may contain glues, adhesives or other compounds which may off-gas over time. Antique furniture provides this safeguard, as well as the opportunity to recycle beautifully-crafted pieces made long ago.

Mike created shelves for the armoire using solid tongue and groove pine floor planks. My Mom then covered them in 100% cotton fabric.

Nursing Chair: We selected the IKEA Jenny Lund slipcovered arm chair for nursing. I was really nervous about bringing a new chair into our nursery, as most new furniture is constructed with manufactured woods that may off-gas. So, I was happy to learn that IKEA strictly procures wood from sustainably-managed forests, and their pressed wood products comply with low formaldehyde standards.

The Rug: We narrowed down our rug choices quite fast in knowing that we would only buy something that was made with natural fibers (with no rubber or plastic backing). We initially looked for 100% wool rugs, but ended up ordering a 100% jute braided rug for its style and shape. It's also reversible, so it should stand the test of time.

Wall Treatments: Like the rest of our house, the nursery was painted using Benjamin Moore's no-VOC line. Everything from the ceiling and the mouldings, to the doors and walls, were painted with the color Simply White in either flat or semi-gloss finishes.

Choosing white for the plaster walls was a natural choice for me as it was the color of my childhood room, from birth until I left for college.

White also has the added benefit of having less pigment added to the mix (pigments most often contain VOCs). I did just recently learn however that Benjamin Moore is one of the very few lines that uses VOC-free pigments. Thus their VOC-free line truly is VOC-free, no matter what color one chooses.

When Mike created the paneled wainscoting, he used solid wood mouldings, assembled and secured in place with a finish nail gun instead of glue.

The Closet: To create extra storage, we relocated the antique dresser from the guest house. We preferred using the dresser for the same reason that we chose the antique armoire. Also in the closet are the toys and books in waiting....until the babies are older.

Purchasing two cribs, two mattresses, two car seats, clothing, diapers, etc.... added up as you can imagine. So we focused our budget on the things we knew we would need from birth through the first several months. Any toys and books we have were ours from childhood, or were given to us by family and friends.

When we do start buying toys, we will focus on brands that offer phthalate-, BPA- and lead-free products.

Baby clothes: We have been very lucky in that we have received lovely hand-me downs from my friend Karen, and my brother Steven and his wife Marna, who have a son and two sweet daughters. The above knit sweater was my adorable nephew's.

This sweet outfit is a combination of a hand-me down (the white cotton onesie) from my niece and a purchase from a baby consignment store (the 100% organic cotton jumper with pink velvet piping). I've found consignment stores to be a wonderful resource for beautiful clothing, often hardly worn, at much lower prices than retail (organic knit jumper was $11).

I hope that everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday! I managed to stay on my feet long enough to make the pie crust... I spent the rest of the day on the couch nodding off and listening to the bustle of kitchen activity made by my mom and Mike.

Happy Holiday Season to everyone! xo

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Nursery

The nursery is finally complete and ready for the arrival of our sweet babies.

At first we thought we'd wallpaper the nursery but we never did find a pattern we absolutely loved, nor a pattern that was in our price range. We also considered stenciling the walls but couldn't find a pattern worth the effort or cost.

I have been wanting to do panel wainscoting ever since I tore out a 'how to' article on it from This Old House magazine years ago. It turned out that the nursery was the perfect room to do this. It added a wonderful detail and even better, was very affordable ($200 for materials). The walls are painted with Benjamin Moore's Simply White in flat. The trim, doors, windows and wainscot are painted with semi-gloss Simply White.

You can go here to see what we started with when planning the nursery.

From the very beginning, I knew I wanted the nursery to have a natural earthy warmth. I find rich wood hues provide that warmth, especially with abundant natural light. I used white and gold colors to provide additional lightness to the room. I also thought that this color scheme would offer a nice neutrality for our baby boy and girl.

From the opposite end of the room, you can see the paneling detail and the antique French armoire.
Draped over the chair is my old baby blanket.

Update: we added a changing table a few weeks after I took these photos. The talented Patricia Banner from Cottage by Design made this for me! 

I wanted an armoire for easy access to baby clothes and linens. I also liked the idea of having a beautiful antique in the room and the rich warmth of the wood. 

Baby girl clothes are on the left and baby boy clothes are on the right. 

I chose a Da Vinci Jenny Lind crib in cherry to match the armoire and brightened it with white bedding.

I went with basic cotton bumpers to save on cost, but did dress them up by sewing white satin ribbons to secure them to the spindle railings. The second crib is upstairs in our bedroom where the babies will sleep at night.

I love the ornate detail of this antique frame and its beautiful gold glow. To go in it, I ordered a print of The Screech Owl by Albrecht Durer. In addition to the picture rail, we secured it to the wall as an extra precaution.

The art next to the nursing chair is a beautiful watercolor landscape my Grandmother used to have in her bedroom. I've always loved it and knew that one day it would go in our nursery. To freshen it up, I added a new mat.

The armoire mirror reflects the natural light from the windows.

After a considerable search, we finally settled on a 100% jute braided oval rug, which offers a nice softness to the room. We also like that the oval shape leaves more of the original wood floors exposed.

I bought this beautiful antique crocheted baby blanket years ago.

I absolutely love these curtains! They're a very lovely brown and white old-fashioned rose floral pattern.

Putting together the nursery was a unique experience for me. Besides finding the armoire, (which I purchased early on in my pregnancy when I was much more mobile), I wasn't really able to get into Portland to shop for things. All of the items in the room are ones we already had on hand, or were able to purchase online.

I hope that you enjoyed visiting our nursery. We know it will evolve over time and we'll be adding things and making adjustments as the babies grow. We're looking forward to welcoming our babies home very soon. xo

Here is a resource list of some of the items we used:

DaVinci Jenny Lind crib $199. (from Target)
Oval 5 x 8 jute rug $130. (from here)
Jenny Lund slipcover chair $199. (from IKEA)
Floral curtains $24.99 per panel (from here)
Antique brass curtain rod and drapery rings $110. (Home Depot)
Owl print $40. (from here)

Go here to read posts on the green nursery. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

35 Weeks

Today was a very special day for us as I am now 35 weeks pregnant (although my belly measures 45 weeks)! With twins, there is a higher risk of premature labor so this milestone comes as a wonderful relief. After 35 weeks, we are also able to deliver in our hometown as opposed to having to go to a hospital in Portland.

Our official due date is December 23rd. However, this is a due date for a singleton pregnancy, twins typically come several weeks earlier. For us, this means that we're expecting in the next couple of weeks!

Here's the last 8 months of my growing belly!

After eight months of pregnancy, I am still reveling in the beautiful reality of being pregnant. We cannot wait to meet our sweet little babies.

Also, the nursery is finally done! All I have to do now is take pictures!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Dining

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I thought I would start getting the dining room ready for the fall feast. I've kept it pretty simple...

hanging a wheat wreath over the mirror...

setting out a mismatched collection of brass candlesticks...

and using pumpkins from our garden as the centerpiece of the table.

We haven't yet picked all of the dishes for the menu, but one thing is for sure... it will include fresh baked pumpkin pies, using pumpkins from the garden. I can't wait! A pie made from fresh pumpkin is such a wonderful, wonderful treat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Country Baby Quilts

Shortly after Hubby and I were married, I began thinking about babies. I always dreamed of having babies, but once we were married it was a dream I could finally wholeheartedly embrace.

Antique quilts were the first items I began to purchase in anticipation of becoming a Mom. I came across them in antique stores, sometimes referred to as 'doll quilts' due to their small size, and loved imagining our babies snuggled up inside them.

Of course, time passed without babies, so I stopped buying quilts, and put the others away for safe keeping. Now, five years later, I'm pregnant with two sweet little ones, and the quilts have found their home in the nursery.

This lavender trimmed quilt is 19" x 23". I just love the vintage fabrics and the sweet hand-stitched detail.

This quilt is 27" x 33". It's much more simply stated with a baby blue and red patch pattern. I love the little 'hand made' tag that is stitched inside.

I love thinking of the women who made these quilts. I have no doubt that they were made with great love and warmth for their children or grandchildren...or even just as an expression of the creative warmth inside them. It's a wonderful thought that makes them all the more beautiful to me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Last of the Roses

Despite the evening frosts, two little brave roses continued to blossom in the garden. All of their friends had gone to sleep days ago. There they stood, together, through the dark cold nights, awaiting the warmth of the next sunrise.

I took them in hopes of extending their last few days of soft beauty and heavenly fragrance.

This variety is called New Dawn, which are wonderful climbers. I planted two along our picket fence and a third grows on a trellis near the dining patio.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Concord Grapes

I waddled out to the grape vines with Hubby early this morning. I had to lean over quite a bit to find my boots in the beautiful autumn confetti.

The grapes are finally ripe after several months of hot summer sunshine and crisp fall air.

While Hubby searched through the curly vines for bright purple clusters, I documented our fall harvest tradition with photographs (which is another way of saying, I watched).

We only picked a colander's worth because we plan on making smoothies with them in the blender. Our plan to make wine and jam...well, it will have to wait until next year. We're using all of our extra time to prepare for the babies.

But the grapes freeze really well. I pluck them from their stems, wash and lay them out to dry. When dry, I put them in zip lock freezer bags and freeze them. They're easy to dip into for smoothies throughout the year.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Nursery Project

thought I'd do a quick post on one of our nursery projects.

Here is the inside of the antique French armoire we purchased for the nursery. The piece was missing shelves so Hubby made these using pine tongue and groove planks. We are striving to make our nursery as green as possible, and didn't want to use any wood products such as plywood that contained glues and adhesives.

My Mom came up with the brilliant idea to cover the shelves in cloth - so we used 100% cotton duck cloth. After washing and ironing it, my Mom made slipcovers, which she was able to slide over the wood shelves as shown above.

Years ago I saw a photo of a linen closet that had a nice lace detail running along the edge of the shelves. We decided to add a similar detail to the armoire. Here is my Mom pinning the lace to one of the shelves before hand-sewing it.

And here's the result.

The cloth covers add a nice freshness to this piece that's been around for well over a hundred years.

I've received a lot of inquiries into when I'll be posting photographs of the nursery and honestly, I thought I would have been able to do so by now. But as it is, I am still waiting for a few items to arrive in the mail - one of the those items being the rug!

I'm typically not an on-line shopper but it's been helpful as I'm no longer making trips into the city. The downside of course is that sometimes things aren't always what they seem online, returns have to be made, and items reordered...for example our cribs.

However, things are coming together and we're really close to having everything completed. So photos to hopefully follow soon!