Entry Room Updates

We recently went through and made a few updates to our entry room to get it even more organized than it was before. 🙂 You can see more details on the previous post here.

Here is the new layout…a few items were shifted around to make room for the armoire, and a few new smaller items were added as well.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I had this white armoire in storage at my parents’ house, and we realized that it would be perfect in our entry room since there is no coat closet in this house. At first I did not think it would work out well in this room since the floor is sloped (to allow the house to be handicapped accessible – the entry room used to be a porch with a step). However, my husband was able to use some shims to keep the armoire level, and we love finally having a “coat closet” in our entry room.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Inside the armoire, I put my box where I keep all of my gloves, and other miscellaneous items that I always seem to be looking for in a hurry when leaving the house.  On the same shelf is my hiking backpack, with all of our supplies for us and the dogs when we go on a hike.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

The armoire is the perfect spot for my husband to hang all of his black jackets as soon as he gets home, which has been helping keep them pet hair free. I also hung an old sweater organizer that I was no longer using, which makes a great organizer for shoes of a variety of sizes. The similar hanging shoe organizers never seem to work for me since they only hold standard size shoes. Using the sweater hanger allows us to fit in all of the shoes that we use the most often, including a couple of pairs of small boots.

The cross is something I have had for a long time, and was excited to find after it having gone missing for a couple of years. 🙂

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I added a couple of things to our entry table organizing: hand sanitizer for every time I come home from running errands (my immune system has gotten very weak after so many months of bed rest), earplugs (my husband always seems to be looking for a pair when he is working on loud projects), and sunscreen in the basket (he is bad about remembering to put some on before he goes out).

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Umbrellas, a parasol for sunny days, rain boots, and my gardening boots.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I found the little cream scalloped box shelf at a thrift store, and it is the perfect spot for my husband’s sunglasses when he gets home. We put up a cute hanger to hold my favorite sunglasses. We have started using the chalk boards to keep track of our to-do lists and lists of projects around the house. We keep all of the important lists in our organizer app (we use Cozi on our phones and online), but it really helps us keep motivated to see the lists of projects written out right on the wall. We love crossing items off the list. 🙂

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

More room tours coming soon!

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My Eco-Friendly Cleaning Guide

I am slightly obsessed with keeping our house clean, organized, and as healthy and toxin free as possible. The past several months were very difficult since I was on bed rest and not allowed to do any cleaning (you can read more about my pregnancy journey here). My husband cleaned as much as he had time for, but since his time is so limited (and he doesn’t know my normal routine), our house was never as clean as I usually keep it. We considered hiring a cleaning service, but things were in too much of a state of unpacked chaos, with a bunch of half finished projects all over the house.

Since I have been off bed rest, I have made it my main goal to get this place unpacked, cleaned and organized. We bought the house just a short time before I got pregnant, and then all the pregnancy complications brought much of the unpacking and organizing to a complete standstill. It has been just under two weeks, but we have finally been able to get pretty much everything unpacked, and I went on a crazy organizing spree. I also did a thorough seasonal deep cleaning of the entire house. It took me much longer than normal since I am just slowly regaining my strength, but it feels so nice to have a clean, organized house again! It has not felt like this at all the entire time we have lived in this house.

One of my favorite resources to make sure I do a thorough cleaning job on a regular basis is Martha Stewart’s collection of cleaning checklists. I have them all printed out and in sheet protectors in the floral binder shown above. I used to have the daily checklist posted on the fridge, but by now I have it memorized and it is part of my regular routine. The weekly cleaning checklist is great, as are the monthly and seasonal lists. I actually put in my weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning days in my organizer app (we use Cozi), scheduled to repeat regularly, so I never forget which list to use and when. Since I have really bad dust allergies, I usually add in another mid-week mini cleaning or two, to try to keep the dust at a minimum. That also helps with the crazy amount of pet hair that our family tends to generate. 🙂 You can find all of Martha’s cleaning checklists here. I also recently found a daily cleaning checklist that I love on A Bowl Full of Lemons (available here). This one is definitely going on the fridge and becoming part of my new routine! So far, it is really helping me keep things maintained and clean!

Many women get a strong nesting instinct while pregnant, and want to get their house really clean before the baby arrives. Since I have been doing so much cleaning lately, a number of people have asked me if that is from my nesting mode kicking in. I don’t think the baby is coming in the next couple of days, but I am just so happy to be able to catch up on my normal routines! I am a strong believer that your house is not actually clean if all you are doing is replacing the dirt with a bunch of toxic chemicals. I don’t use any “traditional” cleaning products in my house, and I can guarantee you that on a regular basis, our house is just as clean or cleaner than any house you can find that is cleaned with the “strong” cleaning products. I do not use products with bleach, ammonia, or other harsh ingredients for the safety of the environment and our own health.

When I was a kid, I started using Simple Green to do the cleaning for my chores since I was a very environmentally concerned kid. While I still use Simple Green on occasion for really deep cleaning jobs, the scent is honestly not my favorite. These days, I vary between using homemade natural cleansers and store bought natural cleansers. If I have the time, I love referencing the cleaning recipes detailed in the book shown above, Lemons & Lavender. I make good regular use out of homemade lavender oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. Other times, I love using the products from Method. I seriously love the way they smell. 🙂 They have a wide range of products for a variety of needs. My favorite is the cucumber all purpose cleaner. I use that for almost everything. I also love the fact that they have naturally disinfecting products for the kitchen and bath…no harsh chemicals needed to sanitize things!

Also in my cleaning caddy is Bon Ami. I love this for scouring the sink, showers, really dirty pots and pans, etc. It has been around forever, is super cheap, and non-toxic. I always save the mesh bags from potatoes, garlic, and other produce since these make great (and free!) scouring pads. You can see my little stash in the caddy above (the red thing is a bundle of mesh bags).

If a particular pot or pan is dirty beyond the scrubbing point, and the Bon Ami is just not enough to get off some kind of burnt, caked in mess, I put a mixture of water, baking soda, and vinegar in the pot and boil it over low heat. This always gets the impossible to clean tough stains off my stainless steal cookware. It may take a little scrubbing after boiling for a while, but this method has never failed me. I never use anything that may scratch the surface of the pots and pans to get them clean (no scouring pads, etc.).

Instead of cleaning with paper towels, I keep stacks of rags on hand for dirty tasks. I also keep a microfiber cloth on hand for mirrors and windows. If I still have streaks after that, I use the tried and true method of a crumpled piece of newspaper to get rid of any remaining streaks.

My two favorite sponges are a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (great for so much!) and the Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Sponges. These are also great to use in place of paper towels as well since they are absorbent! Once a week, I wet all of my sponges and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any lingering germs.

For dusting, I love using the pink microfiber mitt shown above. It fits on your hand like a big mitten, and makes it really easy to dust surfaces. I am very short though, and that limits my range of what I can reach easily. As a solution, I attached the mitt to an old Swiffer stick with a rubber band. I love the ease of use of using a Swiffer, but feel so wasteful using them since they have to be thrown out so often. For me, this is the perfect solution!

With so many pets shedding so much fur all the time, keeping our floors clean is a big task. I start by sweeping each room with a regular broom and dustpan to get rid of the dirt, pieces of cat litter, and whatever else has been tracked all over the house. Even though the floors may look clean at that point, I have come to realize that we still always seem to have even more pet hair lingering after that point. I then use the Mr. Clean microfiber dust broom shown above, which picks up the rest of the pet hair and any lingering dust bunnies. I am seriously obsessed with this dust broom/mop combo. It is one of the best things I have ever found. One side has a dust broom, and the other has a mop attachment. When I finish with the dust broom side, I go through and use the mop side. Since the mop is made out of detachable fabric, I love that I can take it off and give it a really good rinse in between each room. When I finish with the whole house, I can take off both attachments and throw them in the washing machine with all of my dirty rags and towels. It is so easy and so efficient!

The caddy shown above is my whole house caddy. I also have a second container of bathroom cleaning products that I keep under the bathroom sink in our master bath. One of my favorites for the bathroom is the Method Daily Shower Spray. We give a quick spray every day after our showers, and it helps keep the grime down between cleanings.

I hope my guide has inspired you to consider using some healthier, more environmentally friendly ways to keep your house clean! I am not going to go into detail about why the traditional cleaners are horrible…there are plenty of other resources online and in books about why those cleaners are bad for the environment and your health. None of the products or references listed above have requested to be listed or provided sponsorship…these are just my honest tips about what I have found to work best for me! 🙂

Laundry Room/Pantry Progress!

My husband started building these custom cabinets for the empty space in our laundry room to serve as pantry space quite a while back. Unfortunately, thanks to a really slow in-store delivery of the slide rails for the pull out drawers (and no phone call once his order had arrived!), the project got delayed for quite a while. The pantry cabinets are not finished yet, but functional is major progress! We no longer have food stacked up in corners throughout the living room, which is very exciting! Besides painting the pantry cabinets, he also plans to make doors for the pantry cabinets that will coordinate with the look of our kitchen cabinets. Eventually, when we get around to replacing our big bulky heater unit with something that can go in the attic, the box around the heater will also turn into more storage (which I am really excited about). Just like with our kitchen, there are a lot of finishing details that need to be finished (mostly trim work and outlet covers), but those details will come later once we are less stressed about everything being so disorganized and dysfunctional for so long.

I am very happy to have an organized laundry space again. We got this fold down table at Ikea to serve as a space for me to fold laundry. I love that the table folds down to save space when it is not in use.

All of my laundry supplies are organized on a shelf that was actually salvaged from elsewhere in the house! I have a basket for dirty rags, one for clothespins, one for miscellaneous laundry and shoe care supplies, and all of my laundry care supplies in a vintage fruit crate from our wedding. 🙂

Below: the slide out pantry drawers he built, some extra shelves above the almost-wasted area thanks to the strange location of the electrical panel, and my lost socks clothesline. I keep the socks that are missing their pair pinned to the clothesline until we confirm via a deep cleaning of the house that the mate is indeed missing. The missing socks usually turn up somewhere before then (I think one of the pets likes to use dirty socks as a toy).

You can see better below how we utilized the space in front of the electrical panel that otherwise would have gone to waste. It makes a perfect little nook for our vacuum, vacuum accessories, and the ironing board. Also, I have a perfect spot for my cleaning caddy, with all of the cleaning supplies I use on a regular basis.

Close up of one of the pull out drawers, with all of my baking supplies grouped together. I organized the pull out shelves with the heavier items since the rails will support up to 100 pounds. One drawer has all of the vegetables and fruit that I canned myself from our garden, another has regular canned goods, one has all of my baking supplies, and the last one has other cooking supplies like oils and vinegars.

In the pantry cabinet on the left, the space was smaller so he just installed shelves there. I found some plastic bins that fit these shelves well to organize the remaining food items.

In the plastic bins, I have the food separated into small baking supplies, cereal and breakfast supplies, dinner sides and pasta, snacks, and spices. We are both so happy that we finally have an organized pantry! It makes it so much easier to find everything we are looking for.

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Two Easy DIY Projects With Chalkboard Spray Paint!

Projects with chalkboard paint are everywhere these days, and I had to do a couple of projects.  I have seen many tutorials online for using chalkboard paint, and was very excited to see chalkboard spray paint at our local home improvement store.  Much easier to use!

I found a few silver trays at a thrift store for $1-2 each, and taped off the decorative edges with painter’s tape before painting.  I painted them with two coats of the chalkboard spray paint, then hung them on the wall with plate hangers.  Super easy, and we love the new message center in our entry room!

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I have a problem when canning time comes around with labeling my canning jars.  Last year I used my label maker, but those labels are difficult to remove.  I have so many empty jars that say “marinara sauce”!  I saw some chalkboard labels for sale at a craft store, and decided to try to make some myself. 🙂  I used the chalkboard spray paint to paint a sheet of contact paper.  Then I used an oval template I made to cut out labels.  So far, they are helping us keep organized in the bathroom!  I can’t wait to try them out when I start canning food this year.

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Entry Room Makeover

There are certain things that drive me nuts…one of the big ones is being disorganized.  We have spent the past couple of months on a constant hunt for keys, hats, flashlights, my purse, important papers, etc.  I decided that I had reached my breaking point with living in chaos, and we needed to start to have a little bit of organization around here.

I was going to wait until my husband finished the kitchen before I tackled the entry room, but that project is taking much longer than we originally expected.  I noticed that he mostly just bangs things into the trim when he is coming in with large tools, sheet rock, etc., so I will just paint the trim at a later date.  I worked on organizing this room a little at a time, in between editing pictures from a wedding we recently shot (sneak preview here).  You can see the before pictures of the entry room here.

Our entry room used to be the original porch on the house, and since the whole house was made handicap accessible, the floor in the entry room is sloped.  The chair is not crooked; it is the floor. 🙂

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I redesigned the little entry table that we made at our old house (seen here).  I had layers of paint on it before, and wanted to get rid of some of the teal and bring out more of the layer of white underneath, so I sanded it again and added a burlap curtain to create some concealed storage.

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I recently made some silver tray chalkboards (tutorial coming soon!) to hang as a message center.  The current message is my little reminder for us to pray and ask God to fill our home with peace, love and joy.  This is important and helpful during stressful times – like when you are in the middle of a major kitchen remodel. 🙂

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Things we use regularly: hiking backpack, my coupon organizer, and a ready picnic basket. 🙂  I also set up our dirty work shoes on a vintage cafeteria tray that I found at a thrift store, with some rocks underneath to catch any dirt.

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We live in a neighborhood full of very large, two story (or more) homes.  More than one person in the neighborhood has pointed out to us that we have one of the smallest homes in the whole neighborhood.  We don’t take that as an insult; we take it as a compliment.  To us, that means our home is more full of love, just like in Little House on the Prairie.

When we were engaged, I went through a list of questions with my husband-to-be to try to make sure that we had the same priorities in terms of finding our dream house.  I asked him if he would rather have:  the littlest house in a good neighborhood or the biggest house in a lesser neighborhood, a big house with tons of space inside but very little yard or a tiny house and a big lot.  Luckily we both agreed on the little house, big lot ideas. 🙂  I made this little embroidery to proudly display our love of our little home.

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When we had our home inspection, the inspector noted that the light fixture in the entry way had problems with flickering, so one of the first things my husband did after we moved in was replace it with this new light fixture.  The new fixture is beautiful, but the flickering still continues.  I have not replaced the cover on the light switches so that he will remember that it still needs some electrical repair. 🙂

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We were starting to have trouble keeping track of our mail.  I came up with a good solution and have it sorted into 5 categories:  bills, Chris, Alicia, repurpose, and recycle.  The pile of repurpose paper will later be turned into newspaper logs for our fire pit movie nights (tutorial here).  The recycle pile is full of paper that cannot be used for the logs:  shiny, coated ads, envelopes with plastic windows, etc.

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The clock on the wall used to be in my bathroom at our old house, and I had previously painted it aqua.  An aqua clock on a different shade of aqua wall looked pretty horrible, so I repainted the record yellow, and then re-glued the lace back onto the record.  At our old house, we had a built-in cabinet in the hallway that was perfect for miscellaneous utility items that we need to keep on hand (previous post here).  Since we don’t have that at our new home, I picked up this little white cabinet to take its place.

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A closer look at my homemade record clock, a vintage working thermometer that I love, and a fun take on an antique electricity sign.

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Vintage mirror I got for free in college, little storage box for extra keys that we don’t use every day, a little “clothesline” for important papers like invitations, and a kite that we made together for a photoshoot prop.

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A place for spare change (formerly an Anthropologie candle), an estate sale tray for my husband’s daily pocket dump, chalk for the message boards, and a basket for sunglasses and other miscellaneous items.

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Keys, notepads, stamps, pens, more chalk, and other useful items all easily accessible.

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This thrift store hat rack is very useful.  Now we don’t waste time looking for hats and my purse when we leave the house. 🙂

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A peek inside my little utility cabinet organization.  Whenever my husband gives me jewelry as a gift, I save the little cardboard boxes to organize small items.  I am very lucky to have such a generous husband. 🙂

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A special vintage basket full of pet supplies:  leashes, brushes, and even doggy hiking boots.

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The cats know that the bottom basket is full of their toys, and they know that they just need to push aside the burlap curtain to access them.  I have even been able to train them to (sometimes) put their toys back in the basket when they are finished playing with them. 🙂

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I made little signs to organize our mail.  Shown here, repurpose & recycle.

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“Reusable Paper Towels” Drawer

This is my “reusable paper towels” drawer. 🙂  Our current house is so old that there is no spot for a dishwasher, so we have to wash all of our dishes by hand.  With limited counter space, I usually have to end up drying at least some of the dishes by hand since there is only so much space on the little dish drying rack.  To cut down on the amount of paper towels we go through, I organized this drawer with a towels for a couple of different purposes.  There are some nice fluffy towels for drying dishes, and then some smaller ones specifically for cleaning.  When I am cleaning the furniture, the kitchen counter, or the bathroom, I use one of the smaller towels instead of using paper towels.  When I am finished using one, I have a small basket in the laundry room where they all get placed until I am ready to wash towels.  I pre-soak the cleaning towels before I wash them, and it has turned out to be a pretty good system!

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