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! 🙂

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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. 🙂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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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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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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What I Wore: Learning to dress for style & function

It has been a long, long time since I have done a fashion post! The last one I did was actually shot in the first week of my pregnancy with E, before we realized I was pregnant. 🙂 I quickly started feeling way too sick with all-day-long morning sickness to be in the mood to take any pictures. I would have liked to have done a couple of maternity style posts, but once I started to actually look pregnant, I was on bed rest by then. Putting the pregnancy at risk in order to get some pictures was so not an option. Besides, the only time I was wearing anything other than my grandma’s baggy sweat suits was on my brief trips to my doctor’s appointments. 🙂

For my first 7 weeks postpartum (after I left the hospital), I pretty much lived in one of my pairs of leggings and one of my baggy black tees or tanks. I had a hard time wearing much of anything else because of the bulky binders I was wearing to help support my pelvic bones. I had to dress strictly for function, and started to feel like I was wearing a uniform each day.

Now that I am feeling a little better (and have stopped wearing the Velcro/elastic contraptions), I am starting to try to learn how to dress for this new phase in my life. I need clothes that are accessible and breastfeeding-friendly. I also don’t want to wear a bunch of dry-clean only clothes since I always end up with spit-up and other things on me daily. I figured that once I lost the majority of the 40+ pounds I gained during my pregnancy that most of my pre-pregnancy clothes would fit me again. I only have about 10 pounds of that weight left, and almost none of my clothes fit. Pregnancy completely changed my body in ways I did not expect. My hip bones widened significantly, and my rib cage expanded by over 10 inches during the pregnancy. I hoped that they would go back down after the pregnancy, and they have a little, but I definitely have a completely different shape now. I also have the new challenge of not being ready to wear heels or wedges yet thanks to the lingering pain in the ligaments between my legs and pelvis. Until those are healed up a little better, all of my outfits have to look good with flats, which is a big change from what I am used to wearing.

Both of my guys have been very patient lately as we have spent much of our weekend time trying to find things for my new-mommy wardrobe. First order of business was a new purse that will work with almost anything. I don’t want to ruin any of my nice vintage bags with any kind of baby-related stain, and I needed something that could be worn over my shoulder or cross-body. I wanted something easy to clean, a great neutral color, big enough to hold a burp rag and a few other baby essentials. Sometimes the diaper bag is just too much for a quick trip, or I need something more accessible when the diaper bag is in the bottom storage compartment of the stroller. I ended up finding the perfect solution…this Marc by Marc Jacobs bag that actually matches my diaper bag. 🙂 It even has two straps so it can be worn cross-body or over the shoulder! It is quilted nylon, and wipes clean so easily. I am so in love with this bag. 🙂 Expect to see it with pretty much all of my upcoming fashion posts.

After we found the purse, the next order of business was finding some clothes that fit my new shape. I am a total high-low shopper, and love shopping at a wide range of places. One of my favorite things to do is spend an afternoon digging through some of my favorite thrift stores to find some great pieces. This outfit is perfect for an afternoon of thrift store shopping. Some thrift stores don’t have the best dressing rooms, so I love to wear a base layer that I can try things on with. I start with a black nursing tank and black leggings, and add on top of that. The baby is not a big fan of the nursing cover, so I have been wearing scarves that I can use as a nursing cover as much as possible. That way he can still keep his one eye watching me like he enjoys doing, and I can cover up a little. 🙂

Over my leggings and nursing camisole, I added a button-down tunic, that allows for easy access, a large vintage scarf nipped in at the waist with a vintage belt, and ballet flats. It worked out perfectly for our day of thrifting and shopping.

Scarf: vintage (was my Grandma’s, from one of their many vacations)
Belt: vintage
Tunic: H&M
Sunglasses: vintage
Leggings: Still wearing my maternity leggings since they do not rub on my c-section incision which is still sore. Brand is unknown but they were from Macy’s.
Nursing Tank: Motherhood Maternity
Shoes: Chinese Laundry
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

E is wearing H&M Kids, from their organic collection. 🙂

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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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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.  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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Current Projects Around Our House

I am currently on pregnancy bed rest, so unfortunately my involvement with the projects around our house has come to a temporary standstill.  My husband on the other hand has been quite busy working on a number of projects.  Currently, he is working on building some pantry cabinets for the unused space in our laundry room, and a major project with the bedrooms.

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The bedrooms all have gross popcorn ceilings, so while he is doing a massive reorganization of these rooms, he is taking the chance to first scrape the popcorn off the ceilings. Luckily for us, the popcorn ceilings were actually recently applied by the previous owners, and one of the inspectors tested them to show that they are not the asbestos based popcorn ceilings that were so popular in decades past. Which means he can safely remove the popcorn himself, without having to hire a team of professionals. Before he started, he laid down paper floor tarp to catch everything he scraped off. Next he will start repainting the rooms.

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He also recently did a major overhaul on the bedroom that will be the baby’s room. Since our house has literally no insulation, he opened up the wall and added insulation, made new trim for around the window, painted, and more. Eventually, he plans to do the same for the other bedrooms as well, but in the interest of time (the baby will be coming soon!), the other rooms will be fine with just a new coat of paint for now.

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I apologize for the cell phone only pictures. I am not allowed to lift anything at the moment, which includes my dSLR. “Real” pictures of all of the rooms will be coming as soon as my doctor says I am allowed to start walking around/lifting things again! 🙂

Bathroom #1 Preview

Bathroom #1 Preview

I started redecorating this bathroom a long time ago, but never posted a full set of pictures yet thanks to this disaster.  I painted and decorated, and was just waiting for my husband to put up the chair rail and replace the floor trim.  Since we still are a little worried about the shower leak problems, putting that trim up has been very low on the priority list.  We know that we will have to completely gut this bathroom at some point anyway (there are some very strange areas with the walls), and it is a balancing act of trying to prioritize projects and find a balancing act with my husband’s limited time availability.  For now, all of the big pieces of trim that we have purchased for the kitchen and this bathroom are sitting around, waiting for their chance to come up on the priority list of projects. 🙂

I put some vintage lace as decorative trim on the edges of the built-in shelves, and put in some adhesive cork shelf liner as well.  The two little vintage wicker shelves were awesome thrift store finds that I painted and use to organize my pretty little toiletries.  The towel hook was also a thrift store find, and was a little beat up looking.  I distressed it a little more with the sander so it had a more intentionally distressed look instead of just beat up.  I put some of my own artwork on the walls, along with some estate sale mini portraits, and one of my favorite Anthropologie signs on the outside of the door.

This bathroom is far from being finished, but at least it looks a lot better than it did here!  I will be happy when we at very least get the new trim installed. 🙂

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My Home Office!

My Home Office!

I have been waiting to unveil this room for quite some time now. 🙂  So far, it is my favorite room in the house.  I can make things as pink and girly in here as I want with no complaints from anyone else. 😉  There were a lot of projects that went into creating this room.  You can read about the ceiling here, my custom cabinet knobs here, my DIY lampshade here, my fabric covered bulletin board here, and the flooring fiasco here.  You can also see the before pictures here.  My office is bedroom #4 in the before pictures (also last used as an office).

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I used the same two desks that we had in our old rental house (seen here), but I wanted a more cohesive look.  I primed and painted the two desks a matching shade of “fig” purple.  I painted the floor a gray with a hint of purple, and found two pinks that I love for the walls and built-in cabinets.  This room has tons of storage closets with shelving and drawers which works perfectly for all of my craft supplies, camera gear, photo props, etc.

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When we moved in, the previous owners left behind their built-in “desk” and wall cabinet.  The very haphazard desk had to go, but I decided to find a way to spruce up the open wall cabinet.  I painted it all white, glued vintage laces to the edges of the shelves, and added two types of pretty printed shelf liner paper to the back of the cabinet.  I went with shelf liner paper since I didn’t want to buy a whole roll of wallpaper for such a small area.  It was kind of difficult to match up the patterns along the seams, but I am so happy with the end result!

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I have seen many home offices on other blogs and sites like Pinterest, and for some reason, it seems like people feel they are entitled to make snarky remarks about what kind of computer peripherals are incorporated into the space, as if that can make or break the design concept of the room.  I have seen countless comments along the lines of “would be a great room if she just went wireless!” or “ew, cords!”.  If the primary function of your home office is for pinning, bookmarking, tweeting, and reblogging, then by all means…why wouldn’t you have a wireless keyboard and mouse?  However, if you actually do real creative work with your computer, wireless accessories do not come anywhere close to the level of precision that traditional wired accessories provide.  I will take my tablet with its USB cord any day over a wireless mouse!  Even my husband initially tried to get me to use his wireless accessories, but those were very quickly put away.  My solution for dealing with all of the cords…I keep things neatly organized, use strong Velcro to keep the power strips in place below the desk, and made this cute little fabric skirt under the desk to cover all the cords.  I am pretty pleased with the end result. 🙂

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