My New Potting Table!

I have wanted a potting table or potting bench for a long time. Recently, I saw a few (expensive) reclaimed potting tables when we were out shopping for our backyard makeover project, and I knew we could make one on our own for much less. I am addicted to scouring the free section on Craigslist whenever I have free time, looking for items that will be good for a project. A while back, I found a few free twin headboards and I’ve been saving them, planning that we would make a couple of benches out of them or perhaps something else.

I started thinking that the headboards would make a good table and shelf surface for a potting table, particularly the stronger pair. Also, this set of headboards had an open cut out area along the side that would be the perfect overflow area for excess soil that piles up on the work surface. I knew that I wanted to use a vintage door as the back of the potting table, and started trying to find some for free on Craigslist (I didn’t want to use the ones that I have since we made those into a folding screen/photo backdrop). Craigslist people are perpetually flaky, and I never heard back from any of the people I contacted. I decided to look at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to find a vintage door instead of waiting months to find one on Craigslist. My husband and I each have our own hidden stashes of “junk” that we save for future projects. I raided my supplies and his, and decided that we would use two of my headboards, an old wooden closet rod for table legs (but I would need two more legs), some pretty trim I had been saving just for decorative accents, some of his scrap fence board for a shelf, and some of his general scrap wood to lift the whole thing up off the ground. Then we went off to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore closest to us (the Gardena, CA location) to find a door, some table legs, and something to use on top for shade.

I love the concept of shopping at ReStore…save things that would have otherwise gone into a landfill while helping a worthwhile charity at the same time. When I was at the ReStore, I started brainstorming about what we could use as a shade overhang above the door. Initially I was thinking scraps of shingles from a roof, but then I started thinking that old shutters would be even better. I love old shutters and think they look really cute, plus they could be adjusted to let in more light on a dark, dreary day. I found two sets of shutters that were a good deal at $6.99 each. I also found a decorative wooden rod that would work well for the table legs ($2).

I am a thrifting queen, and I can honestly tell you that most of the things at the Gardena ReStore location are very overpriced. I have read so many people in other states writing about the amazing deals they have found at their local ReStore, and that may be the case elsewhere, but there are not many great deals to be found at the Gardena store. Between how much I scour Craigslist, thrift stores, flea markets, vintage stores, and antique malls (mostly for photoshoot props but also for our own projects), I can pretty much tell you the going value on most things that you find often. I will tell you that the average price for an old vintage door with a bit of character is usually around $20-25. Almost all of the doors at this location were in the $40+ range, even very plain ones with no character and in bad condition. I feel that if things were just a little bit overpriced it would be okay since the proceeds go to charity but who is going to spend $40 on a broken down 1980s fax machine? Anyway, I spent a lot of time digging through all of the doors looking for one that I liked and hoping to find one that was not overpriced. I found one where the top half of the door looked like shutters, and it had the extra bonus of being priced at $19.99! Finally one that was reasonably priced!

I told my husband that I finally found a door that I loved and that I was ready to check out. He wheeled the door up to the cashier, and pointed out to them that there were actually two price tags on the door. The price tags were those really thin sticker tags that are perforated, making it impossible to get them off in one piece. Each price tag had a date on it, and the tag with the lower price had a more recent date, indicating to anyone with common sense that they door had been marked down. Instead of honoring the lowest marked price as a normal person would do, the sales associates called over the manager to ask him if they should charge us the higher price at $39.99 (why?!).

When the manager came over, he immediately started trying to make up stories about how the lower price must have been incorrect, and explain how he could not honor the lower price. When my husband very calmly tried to point out that both price stickers were dated and the lower price had a newer date, the manager then started trying to claim that someone must have switched the tags (really…with the tag in amazingly perfect condition? I find that quite hard to believe. I know people do it since I used to work retail, but I also know how close to impossible it is to do well with this kind of price tag). Then the manager did the most obnoxious thing…he started taking off the price tag with the lower price. He joked that maybe he would be nice to us and split the difference and give us a price somewhere in the middle.

That is when I lost it. I know my husband was embarassed that I got really, really angry. He was looking at me like please, this is a charity store. I don’t care…I spent a lot of my time looking through all of the doors in there, looking through all of the prices. No way was I about to be ripped off at this point. In general, I pride myself on being very warm and friendly to people that I meet. However, if you really make me angry, my Sicilian/Mexican/German temper comes out and it is not something you will soon forget. The way that they acted like they were going to set their own price for us based on what they felt like charging us was what made me so incredibly angry. It felt very discriminatory.

I informed the manager that I was not an idiot, and he could not pull a bait & switch stunt on us. California state law requires that a marked price be honored, even if the price marked on the tag is there in error. I worked in retail for many years, and took many retail marketing and management classes in college.

When I started mentioning the state law, the manager got angry and told me, “don’t start quoting the law to me. I don’t care about any of that because the law does not apply in here.”

Oh really? Interesting…so because they are a non-profit, they are allowed to pull stunts and rip people off using bait & switch techniques? Does the price depend on your race, ethnicity, or car you drove up with? They can make up prices to be whatever they want based on the individual customer? I really don’t think that is the case…they are a store that sells to the public, which is still a retail location by definition, regardless if they are a non-profit, a resale store, or any other classification.

In the end, they begrudgingly honored the marked price, but it was not until after I had to do a lot of yelling. I applaud them for running a charity store, but it is time that people start being held accountable for their actions. I have never been so horribly treated at any store in my life. I am sure that there are many other great ReStore locations, but the Gardena, CA store needs a serious overhaul with their employees. I hate calling out a charity in such a negative manner, but since no one pays any attention to customer complaint letters these days, I just hope that this post will bring some attention to the matter so other customers are not treated in a similarly awful nature.

If I had the time to wait, I could have in theory found all of the items for this project for free via Craigslist, but since I have a ton of plants to put in my new flower pots for our backyard, this project was fairly time sensitive. If anyone else wants to make one, I highly encourage you to scour the free sections of your local Craigslist, and save up all of your own perfect supplies!

My husband was very skeptical of my design at first. He followed my instructions but had a hard time picturing the end result until it was finished. He kept trying to think of a place where we could put the potting table where it would be out of the way (and therefore not an eyesore). Now that it is finished, we both love it, and it is going to be featured prominently in our new backyard design. It is so cozy and quaint…just makes me want to go out there and plant lots of new things! πŸ™‚

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Below: my husband made me some hooks for my tools out of an old wire hanger.
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Below: a succulent arrangement I made in a vintage watering can, the vintage Joy sign that was my grandparents, and one of the mini chandeliers that hung at our wedding reception.
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Below: a windchime that I found at a dollar store a while back and a side view of my husband’s handiwork. πŸ™‚aliciainwonderlandblog.com

Below: supplies in cute vintage buckets, pebbles and homemade compost.
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Below: more supplies in buckets, potting soil in a large bucket with a lid (found at Home Depot), and my lesser used gardening supplies such as soil testers, etc.
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Below: another vintage bucket reserved for holding clippings, etc.
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Below: excess dirt is easily cleaned up with the open slot in the headboard-turned-table.
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Below: my scrap trim finally put to good use.
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Below: the biggest splurge for the project, my shelf brackets from Anthropologie (aren’t they just so pretty?!).
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Below: the remaining evidence of the price discrepancy.
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Our Living/Dining Room Reveal!

This post has been put off for a long time now. I kept feeling like our living/dining room was never “finished”. There were a lot of details that we had put off, and I didn’t want to photograph the room until they were completed. Some were silly things, like I felt there weren’t enough plants in the room. Ironically, when I took these pictures, a lot of the hanging plants were actually draining off in the bathroom anyway after being watered. πŸ™‚ Anyway, without further delay, here is the heart of our home, our living room. This is where we spend most of our time.

The big cozy couch pillows are everyone’s favorite thing in the room. I made the pillow covers out of the pashminas that I used for a while as our bedroom curtains at our old house! πŸ™‚ There are lots of tiny plants throughout the room that I recently propagated from cuttings, which I am really excited about (full post about that coming soon). Our house is finally starting to feel like our home now that this room is coming together. πŸ™‚ I’m not thrilled that there are a few photo props stashed around since I am running out of storage in my office and studio, but other than that, I really love this room!

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Join Us On the Love Boat for Valentine’s Day!

For all of my Wonderland readers who are in Southern California, you have got to register to get tickets for an amazing free event tomorrow night on the Queen Mary in LongΒ  Beach! The party is being thrown by Ehrmann, to celebrate the U.S. debut of their MIXIM Greek Yogurt, which looks absolutely delicious! The cherry & dark chocolate mix on their Facebook page (here) looks SO good. πŸ™‚ You can register to get your tickets by clicking here.

You should also enter to win their Year of Love contest here…a night out every month for a year plus a monthly delivery of yogurt! Sounds amazing…especially for new parents, a date night every month sounds like a dream! πŸ™‚
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Once you’ve registered to attend, tweet me and let me know…if you find us on the boat, you may get your photo featured in my follow up blog post! I will even send you a download link for your high res image. πŸ™‚ You can find me on Twitter @apluscphotos.

In the meantime, I am trying to pick my outfit for tomorrow night, and could use some opinions! Which outfit below should I wear tomorrow night? The pretty sparkly new Anthropologie sweater that I was really excited to find recently with some faux-leather pants, my favorite leather jacket with my super soft black velvet pants (another Anthro find), or this cute dress with another favorite Anthropologie sweater? I will probably wear my pink Manolos with whichever option I end up choosing since they are my favorite (and a super sentimental gift from my husband). Which outfit is your favorite?

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As you can guess, my studio is still set up from the Valentine’s Day mini sessions that I held recently. πŸ™‚ There are some really cute babies and young children coming to my photography blog (here) tomorrow in case you are interested!

What I Wore: Father’s Day Weekend Part 1

Okay, I am just going to say it. I DESPISE the whole sock bun trend. I can’t stand when perfect every-hair-perfectly-in-place hairstyles become a huge trend. This overly neat sock bun trend brings back flashbacks of being yelled at in ballet class for having “wild hair” as a little kid, as if that is anything I can control. I love a messy updo, and love that they embrace my hair’s natural tendency to be curly, wild and crazy. I don’t care if messy updo’s are not the trend du jour, you will never see me trying to force my hair into an unnaturally perfect hairstyle. Just like when stick straight, flatironed hair is the trend of the moment, it annoys me. Most people can’t live up to that level of Pinterest hair constant perfection, and it is silly to try. I feel better that I got that off my chest. πŸ˜‰

I absolutely love this shirt that I found in my closet! It is the perfect comfy breastfeeding shirt. It has a faux-wrap style, and the parts that crisscross over the chest have thin bits of elastic to help it keep its ruffly shape. I will be wearing this one a lot. πŸ™‚

Shirt: Anthropologie
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Jeans: JCP
Bracelet: vintage
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E’s shirt is from Etsy, hat from H&M, pants & socks were gifts.

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What I Wore: Accessorizing the New-Mom Style

I have quickly realized that being a new mom comes with some unexpected extras…things like dark under-eye circles and hair that is often dirtier than you would like. Instead of giving up all hope of feeling/looking decent, I am trying to learn to accessorize around these fun little extras. Great shades and concealer hide the dark circles, and fun hats and dry shampoo help get you through between washes. My hair takes forever to blow dry and straighten, so on one occasion I even had to ask my mom to come help with the baby so I could just get my hair washed. πŸ™‚ The little guy does not like to nap which does not leave me much time to do things that take a long time.

Button down shirts worn over nursing camisoles are really starting to be very useful for nursing the baby. I wore another scarf here that was great as a nursing cover. I generally am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they tend to make me look huge and boxy, but I have found that as long as I belt it or tuck in at least part of the shirt, it really helps me feel like I am not drowning in the shirt.

These new flats are amazingly comfortable and feel like I am walking on a cloud! I love them. πŸ™‚ I also discovered an added accessory bonus this day…sparkly bracelets are great for keeping the baby occupied during diaper changes! He watched my wrists moving around and glittering, and before he had time to make a fuss, the diaper was changed!

Hat: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Scarf: H&M
Blouse: Nordstrom
Nursing camisole: Motherhood Maternity
Sweater: Anthropologie
Pants: Anthropologie
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E is wearing FAO Schwarz and a hat from H&M.

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Our Baby Boy’s Nursery Tour!

Yesterday’s post explained a little about how I got out of my creative slump a few months back, despite being on pregnancy bed rest. I originally had plans to design our baby’s room in a woodland style theme, with a large tree mural on one wall. However, once I started looking at pictures of baby rooms online, I realized that so many people seem to have had that same idea recently and I got pretty discouraged. Our neighborhood is named after all of the large mature pine trees here, and that is our favorite thing about this area. When we first saw all the trees in this neighborhood, we both instantly knew that this would be our home. πŸ™‚

I wanted to create a nursery design that would reflect our love of the outdoors, and still show my unique design style. The idea of a tree mural had to be scrapped since I could not paint a wall while on bed rest anyway. My challenge was to find ways to reflect the look that I wanted, via projects that I could create while lying in bed. Normally, sewing and painting projects would be my first go-to option, but since I could not sit up and sew anything until recently, I had to use other methods of creating for most of the decorations. Even more of a challenge: I primarily had to use whatever supplies I had on hand in my craft room since I could not go wander around any craft supply stores for quite some time. In the end, I went with a nature/outdoors/garden/forest kind of theme, with a little inspiration thrown in from The Lorax (the mobile over the changing table has my version of truffula trees!).

Despite all of these restrictions, I absolutely love the end result. My husband did an amazing job redoing the walls, adding insulation to the exterior wall, and creating a custom frame for the window trim. We wanted to replicate the look of the trim in our old craftsman rental house. You can see the before pictures of this house here.

Some interesting items worth noting…the tiny rocking chair was given by my great-grandmother to my mom, then to me (I sewed the little “Rockin Cowboy” cushion). The hamper was a baby shower gift from when I was born. πŸ™‚ I found the changing table for free on Craigslist and was originally planning to use it as a plant stand in my patio area outside. When I realized it went well with our crib, my husband sanded it down, repainted it, and made new shelves for it. The daybed was originally intended for our living room, but that didn’t end up working as well as we had hoped. I wanted to make sure that I have a pet-free bed to nap in after feedings, so we moved it into the nursery. The needlepoint pillow in the middle of the daybed was embroidered by my grandma, and sewn together by me.

The framed wall art is a mix of items. I found the vintage Winnie the Pooh prints at a thrift store a while back (actually during my first pregnancy just after we got married). I have been hanging onto them since them, waiting to be able to use them. πŸ™‚ The owl prints were a free printable that I found via The Handmade Home. I sculpted the cross and made the yarn covered “E”. The round empty embroidery hoop on the wall is left intentionally blank for now. Once he is born, I will be making an embroidery design with his name and birth date. The prints with the Bible quotes and the quote from St. Francis are printables that I designed myself. They will be coming soon to the blog as well!

I am so happy with the finished room, and can’t wait for the little guy to join us in his room! The cats love the room so much that I have trouble keeping them out. πŸ™‚ Two walls were intentionally left fairly empty to leave room for all of the photographs that we are bound to take of our little guy.Β  In the next few weeks, I will be posting tons of DIY instructions on many of the various projects I made!

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Baby Boy's Nursery Tour

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Hallway Makeover

I actually finished the makeover on this hallway a while back, but since I hadn’t unpacked the curtain rod that I wanted to use with the curtains, I hadn’t blogged the transformation yet. You can see the before pictures here. This is the hallway that leads from our entry room into my office and studio area. I use the vintage trunks and suitcases to store photo props and blankets. I added some of our favorite photos and some touches from our wedding decor to personalize the small little space, including our floral monogram banner that I made. The hallway is also most likely going to end up being where we keep the baby’s stroller. πŸ™‚

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