Kitchen Renovation – The Final Before and After Reveal

Alright, here it is! The final reveal of our kitchen renovation. All in all it took almost a year for us to complete the DIY reno from start to finish (oh and in that year we worked and had a baby), but we couldn’t be happier with the result and we do feel a sense of pride having done it ourselves (ok, with lots of help from family too!) Our kitchen has officially left the orange1960s vibe behind, and has been transformed to a modern, chic space.

Caution: the before & after photos are shocking.

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

I drew the color inspiration from Emily Henderson’s kitchen (one of my favorite designers!) It took a bit of convincing to get Matt on board with blue for the lower cabinets (I understand, color in a kitchen is scary for some!) but he trusted me and we love the color combination of the deep blue on the bottom, and a crisp white on top. And YES folks, those are the same cabinets as the before photo….sort of (read on…)

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

You’ll notice in the kitchen renovation that the floors got a major overhaul from the 1960s faux cobblestone linoleum (ew) to fabulous hardwood hickory in ‘butterscotch’ tone (the lightest tone). I love the variation and rustic feel it brings to the modern updated kitchen. Oh and that cute white vase show below for kitchen utensils? It’s from Magnolia Market (don’t you just love Fixer Upper!) and is one of the fabulous gifts from our fun Christmas Exchange, our favorite things (read more on how that works here).

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

You may have noticed that we also extended the counters out beyond where the original footprint used to be in our kitchen renovation project. We added the cabinet to the left of the fridge (which really makes the fridge more a “part of the kitchen” vs. hanging out alone in left field like it was before), and added to the left of the butcher block counter, which allows us a pull out garbage drawer (best. thing. ever.)

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

The cabinet doors got a lovely facelift in this kitchen renovation. You can see that we added a 1/4″ thick, 2″ wide frame outline to each cabinet door, giving them a shaker style look, but still using the original (real wood) cabinets (hence saving a LOT of money). I will do a post more on this later because it really is amazing how much just a small border and some paint completely transform cabinet doors. The doors of course also got some stylish new hardware (we bought the hardware off Craigslist, but needed a few additional pieces that we matched from Amazon here). You will also notice in the before and after photos that we took down the ugly scallop detail above the sink connecting our upper cabinets and replaced it with a straight piece of wood (amazing how much that scalloping dates a space!)

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

And oh the bar, how I love the bar! (It may be my favorite component of our kitchen renovation). My dad made us this butcher block (yes MADE, he’s so talented) and I love how it compliments our new hickory floors. We sit here all the time, often you can find Matt working on his laptop while I cook in the evenings, or me working on my laptop during the day and watching Vera in the living room. (Or Lewis enjoying the barstools as you can see below. He doesn’t get much fame these days with Vera so I figured I’d give him his spotlight on this post). Of course the opposite side of the bar in the kitchen allows us for AMAZING counter space and lots of outlets (is there ever such thing as too many outlet?! I think not).

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Yay for pretty appliances! (see you never again, Jenn-Air) We had purchased the fridge in the ‘before’ photo (the old one died on us), but this dual oven 5 burner gas range is brand spankin’ new and we love love love it. If you recall we also moved the location of the stove (kitchen layout plans here). The refrigerator and stove are part of the Frigidaire Gallery Series.

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

I am also nerdily excited that my microwave is tucked away and hidden in the nook in the base cabinets (a high priority in my kitchen renovation plans). The shelf also does double duty to store my cookbooks, and the large drawer under the microwave (large like hugely deep), stores all our pots and pans. (You can see our dishwasher is our last appliance to update eventually, but it’s still kickin’ and tucked away so it doesn’t bother me too much). We also love our gray upholstered barstools with nailhead detail from Target.

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

And our backsplash! Ah I just love it. We went with gray glass subway tiles laid in a classic brick pattern. I love that the gray tiles bring in the gray from our quartz countertop. The countertop really resembles marble but is a great durable material, quartz (these countertops were installed a few days before Vera was born, oh kitchen renovation timing). We ordered our range hood off Amazon (see it here).

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate DressKitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

I love walking into this kitchen every day (real life: it’s never this clean, you should have seen the living room and dining room filled with all the clutter I took away for the photos). But clutter or not, it has made leaps and bounds of change for the better, both function-wise, and aesthetically.

A few future additions/projects/tweaks to the kitchen include lighting above the sink, a possible window treatment, upgraded dishwasher, and maybe pendant lighting over the bar.

One more before and after side-by-side, just to remind us of how far the kitchen has come and to instill belief that there really can be potential and life in old spaces to make them new.

Kitchen Renovation Before and After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress


Kitchen Renovation Before & After | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Hospital Bag Essentials – Must Haves for Mom

Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

There are lots of things that are overwhelming to plan for your first baby, for me, packing my hospital bag was one of them. I wanted to have everything I needed, but how on earth was I suppose to know what I needed considering I had never had a baby before?! Enter, my list of Hospital Bag Essentials – Must Haves for Mom.

As I was packing for the hospital, I did the basic research of typing “Hospital Bag Must Haves” into Pinterest and going through a few basic lists to create my own list of things we packed.  Now looking back, here is my feedback on the things that I consider “must haves” based on my experience. Note, we stayed at the hospital from Saturday mid-day when I was induced to the following Thursday since I got a fever during labor and Vera went to the special care nursery for 48 hour observation (read more about that here).

Note, I never pack lightly (like ever). But in our case, I was very happy I packed heavy. Typical hospital stays are 2 days, but since I got an infection during labor, it meant little Vera had to go to the special care nursery for 48 hours.  So AFTER our 2-day long labor, plus 48 hours of special care nursery, meant we were at the hospital from Saturday afternoon to Thursday morning. To say the least, Matt had run out of shirts by the last day.

Here are my Hospital Bag Essentials – Must Haves for Mom

Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Comfy Robe
As I mentioned, I was induced, so it wasn’t like we showed up at the hospital in any big rush with water broken or anything. Therefore, I “labored” for a long time (like 2 days), and was able to be in my own comfy clothes for a lot of it, which was great.  The Gilligan O’Malley robe I got was from Target, and it was soft and thin. It allowed easy access for my IV, blood pressure cuff, and the belly monitors during labor. I know there is a trend to buy special cute “Maternity Hospital Gowns”, but honestly the robe I bought (which wasn’t maternity) worked just fine (I just purchased a bigger size) and I admit, it was nice to wear a cute robe when you are feeling super crummy during labor.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Nursing Bra
This is all I wore on top under my robe during the actual labor. It was comfy and supportive and the plan was to simply unclip the straps when baby was out to have “skin to skin” time. I also wore this the whole time during my hospital stay as it was easiest to nurse with the easy access.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Yoga Pants
This may be a given, but I will tell you what small detailed discovery I did have on yoga pants. I packed a pair of tighter thicker yoga pants (that are more for REAL running vs. just your standard Victoria’s secret yoga pants with the cute fold down waistband, more like the material of Victoria’s Secret Ultimate yoga pants). These ended up being really nice for after delivery when you have to wear those awful pads (#notglamorous), they did a nice job holding everything in place.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate DressSoft Fleece Blanket
This was not on any list I saw, but I’m SO glad I brought it to the hospital. I’m a bit of a texture freak, so having something soft was very comforting both during labor, and for the nights following labor (itchy hospital blankets = not so fun when you are already physically beaten up from labor). I purchased a $10 Target fleece blanket on clearance after the college dorm items were being clearanced out. Best $10 ever spent.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Your Pillow
Similar to the itchy hospital blankets, the pillows at the hospital are itchy pancakes, no good. Bring your own pillow, you’ll be happy to have that touch of your comfy bed at home with a nice soft pillowcase.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Sleeping Bag
Ok, this isn’t really for Mom, it’s actually for Dad. A lot of hospitals have awful fold out couches in the delivery room for your partner that are not comfy at all (our hospital’s actually weren’t all that bad). BUT, just to be sure your partner is at their 100% best to support Mom (and baby) throughout your hospital stay, you may as well pack for them to have the best chance at a good night’s sleep. The sleeping bag just adds a bit of extra padding to that pull out sofa. You’re welcome, Dad.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Nursing Tanks
These were one of my last purchases when packing for the hospital bag and boy am I happy that I got them! These are what I lived in at the hospital as they gave such easy access to feed baby and didn’t require a lot of changing of clothes. This was especially great for us because I had to travel through the halls to the special care nursery to feed my daughter every 3 hours, so we weren’t just in our room like a lot of standard deliveries.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Open Cardigans/Sweaters/Sweatshirts
Ok, these (combined with the nursing tanks) are what I would consider the clutch items to pack (when packing I had no idea what I’d be “wearing” in the hospital, and this combo is literally what I lived in). Key aspect of the cardigan, sweaters and sweatshirts is that they are either open or zip/button up. They were perfect to wear over the nursing tanks for when guests would come to visit, or just to be warmer/cozier, but still having access to the nursing tank for feedings.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Flip Flops
Having a September baby, I lived in flip flops during my pregnancy through the hot summer months (and truthfully all during September too since I was so swollen that no other shoes fit!) I was happy to have the flip flops at the hospital to slip on when we took a few walks through the halls during labor, and for all the back and forth that we had to do between our room and the special care nursery.


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

I had read a few lists that recommended Chapstick, and now I 100% agree that it is a clutch for the hospital. Labor means drinking a lot of water and your lips really DO dry out, make sure your partner has your chapstick on hand to hydrate those lips!


Hospital Bag Essentials - Must Haves for Mom | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Water Bottle Tumbler
Now the hospital will give you something to drink water from during labor, but I found that I was REALLY happy I brought my trusty tumbler like shown in the photo above with a long straw. It was great because I could drink out of it while laying down during labor, and it sat upright in the hospital bed with me to be easily accessible. (And yes, of course I always have to rep my favorite local favorite, Caribou Coffee 🙂

I hope this list helps some mamas pack that bag for the hospital! And don’t worry, if you DO happen to forget anything (I forgot a hairbrush, seriously?!), your visitors will likely be more than willing to bring your forgotten items in exchange for seeing your adorable baby.

Vera’s Birth Story


Vera’s birth story has been a post I’ve been wanting to write, and seeing it’s the last day of 2015, it seems like a good way to close out the year looking back at our most awesome event of this year (the dust has settled, Vera is now 3 months old).  For Matt and I who were about to become first time parents, we had no solid birth plan, but I can say that the series of events/story of how Vera was born was definitely not what we expected, but is something I want to document and remember (because it DID result in a great outcome, Vera!)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

In the last few weeks leading up to the due date, I had started to show symptoms of Preeclampsia, mainly high blood pressure and lots of swelling in my hands & feet (note, it didn’t help that Minnesota had an exceptionally hot and humid summer this year; needless to say, we didn’t go to the State Fair). Because of this, my weekly doctor appointments had often turned into twice a week to monitor these symptoms and make sure baby was doing alright (even doing stress tests on baby to be sure she was all good). I had a doctor appointment just the day before, Friday, and my doctor said that she was on the fence about inducing me, but I should come back on Monday and if my blood pressure had not gone down, then they would plan to schedule an induction. In the meantime, she said to have a nice relaxing “couch potato weekend” of doing nothing (p.s. nearly an impossible task for me especially since I was at the peak of my “nesting” phase). BUT, the doctor also said that if I had a headache at all over the weekend (another Preeclampsia symptom), I should go to the hospital immediately.

Saturday morning around 3am I woke up with a bad headache. I hoped it would go away, but by mid-afternoon it had not subsided. I had a bunch of things I still wanted to do around our mid-construction house (like the crazy preggo lady I was, I did make Matt make a minor change to the nursery gallery wall before we left, envision “yep hang that frame right there, nope a little more to the right, yep right there”) but we grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. To be honest, I 100% thought they would send us home, I knew from the appointment on Friday that I wasn’t dilated at all, so I figured they would just put me on the monitor to check out baby and back home we would go.

We arrived at the hospital around 3:00pm and were brought into a Triage room and (like I thought) I was hooked up to the monitors on my belly to track baby’s heartbeat and my contractions.  The doctor came in and was very non-committal to whether or not they would be inducing me or not. I stayed on the monitors for over 4 hours (they did let me order dinner thank goodness, which gave us insight that they were in fact going to keep us) and baby’s heart rate and my contractions were both good, but my blood pressure was still high. They finally made the decision to induce me and start the induction process that night, we just had to wait for a delivery room to become available. Meanwhile in our Triage room, we heard multiple couples come in (who were actually IN labor), and obviously received rooms first, which of course makes total sense. It reminded me of the FRIENDS episode where Rachel keeps getting new “roommates” in her hospital room who all have their babies before her. 🙂 Finally around 8:00pm they brought us to our delivery room and told me they were going to start with Cervadil which is an oral pill given to “soften” the cervix, it takes 12 hours to work, so I was given this, and then some lovely meds to help me sleep, and we went to bed officially “induced!”Vera-Birth-Story2

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday we woke up, had breakfast and I was checked to see if I had progressed any, which I really had not. They decided to give me another cervix softening medicine, Cytotec, which took 4 hours. I was able to take some naps as my contractions weren’t very strong, and Matt was able to do some work on his laptop.  By 2:30 I was still having contractions, but didn’t have an IV yet. Around 6:00pm I was given the IV and they started Pitocin (which meant no more eating). The Pitocin of course did cause me to have much stronger contractions, but I was still progressing slowly in the dilating department. The summary of 6:00pm – midnight of Sunday = laboring on Pitocin with no epidural.


Monday, September 21, 2015

And now it was Monday, the laboring on the Pitocin with no epidural lasted for another 4 hours (about 10 hours total), then around 4am I chose to have the epidural (p.s. not very strong epidural as I found out later) as the contractions were very strong and close together, but the “finish line” wasn’t too near since I still wasn’t very dilated. By 8:45am I was dilated to a 6. I labored all morning and afternoon, and they decided to break my water around 5:00pm. Soon after, they told me that I had caught an infection during the long labor, and depending on how that impacted baby’s heartbeat, they may have to consider a c-section. After 40+ hours of laboring, I was so crushed by the thought of not “finishing what I set out to do” (aka, a vaginal birth), I started bawling and just wishing I was ready to push and get our baby safely out of me the way I wanted to. Luckily, baby’s heartbeat wasn’t impacted and I was give the green light to keep laboring and deliver vaginally. By 5:50pm the contractions were 2 minutes long and 5 minutes apart. By 8:00pm, they were 1.5 minutes long, much stronger, and 3 minutes apart. FINALLY around 9:30pm I was given the ok to push and after 2 hours, Vera was born at 11:27pm weighing in at 7lb 2 oz, 21.5” long.


I think all mom’s have an idea in our minds of how we will react and what the feelings will be like right when our baby arrives into the world and we see them for the first time. “We will hear her cry and when we see her she will be perfect, Mom and Dad will cry, Dad will cut the cord and we will get the best skin on skin bonding time ever. It will be amazing.” When Vera came out, I vaguely saw a limp, grey-colored baby and did not hear a cry. I think my heart sunk 3 floors down as my brain tried to process what was going on. Within seconds, the doctor and what seemed like 20 nurses (ok it was probably more like 5), had cut the cord and whisked Vera away from Matt & I over to the baby bassinet in the corner of the room. I finally said to the doctor (likely in a crazy lady panicked voice) “Why don’t I hear her crying!?” The doctor explained that Vera had a bowel movement right before she came out and they didn’t want her to cry right away in case she had any meconium in her mouth that would then go into her lungs. The nurses were sucking any meconium out of her cheeks and she was put on oxygen immediately (we did finally hear some grunts which were slightly reassuring, but definitely not the classic ‘newborn cry’ I envisioned hearing.) Matt was able to go over to the bassinet and cut the cord a little shorter, and a nurse brought Vera over to me and laid her on my chest for maybe a minute before she was taken to the special care nursery to be put under observation for 48 hours to make sure she didn’t catch the same infection I had during labor.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I had to wait another 5 hours after Vera was born until about 4:30am after being stitched up and pushed on in the delivery room (I won’t get into the details, you can look up the aftermath of childbirth, not fun) before I got pushed in a wheelchair down to the special care nursery to see Vera & really hold her for the first time. (In that 5 hours Matt did go back and forth between the two of us and took pictures of her and showed them to me on his phone which made me feel a lot better).


Wednesday & Thursday, September 23-24, 2015

The next 48 hours were spent with Matt and I in our own hospital recovery room (without Vera) going down to the special care nursery every 3 hours for feedings. Her blood sugar dropped pretty low so we had to supplement since my milk had not yet come in. We opted for donor breast milk, which was an awesome option at our hospital. We fed her with what we referred to as a “finger feeder” (technical term “SNS Feeder”) which is essentially a tube connected to the donor breast milk that Vera sucked from (it either went into the nipple shield or was taped to one of our fingers). Because she was getting so much “extra” real milk, we left the hospital with her weight at 7lbs 1oz, just 1 oz shy of her birth weight. Woo hoo!

We practically ran out of the hospital once Vera was cleared for NOT getting the infection that she was under observation for (thank goodness!) We were just so ready to be home and to get to spend all our time with her rather than feeding visits every 3 hours down the hall. Since I wasn’t sure when my supply would come in and Vera had been eating about 1.5oz of donor breast milk per feeding in the special care unit at the hospital, we ended up purchasing donor breast milk from North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis (just so we had something to feed her as a backup). Going to pickup our purchased donor breast milk was one of the more interesting trips I sent my parents on, but we were so grateful for the help. Luckily once I go home my milk came in fine and we continued our finger feeding plan that week (so we could know how much she was eating), feeding her every 2-3 hours. At her one-week check-in she weighed in at 7lbs 6oz, again exceeding her birth weight, so gold stars all around!


Closing Thoughts:

Having never had a baby before, I really went into labor with few expectations or plans (our “plan” was that I would labor as long as I could before getting the epidural, but wouldn’t be disappointed if I chose to get one).  We took a “Preparing for Childbirth” class, but that mainly focused on a typical “you go into labor yourself AKA water breaking” situation, which of course didn’t pertain to us at all in the end.  Really an induction was something we just weren’t prepared for and didn’t know anything about (like how long the entire process can be). Then of course we didn’t expect to be in the special care nursery for 48 hours after having Vera either, but overall we had amazing nurses and were just plain old grateful that Vera was healthy and that we got to go home.

After experiencing childbirth I must say that I have a newfound respect for all Moms, regardless of how their deliveries went (vaginal, c-section, natural, epidural, etc). It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, it takes strength in the most unique way, brings out the best of you and your partner as a team, and it really does give you a feeling of “she-man woman power” that is nothing short of badass, so to all moms, you are ah-mazing.

2015 Family Christmas Photos

This Christmas I feel like the luckiest gal in the world, I have a healthy and happy husband and daughter.  Matt continues to be the hardest working and most supportive husband and father I know, and we have grown so much closer and learned so much more about the true meaning of teamwork in the journey of new parenthood.  Vera will be 3 months old this Christmas and we are having so much fun watching her grow. Enjoy our 2015 family Christmas photos!

Sending you the warmest wishes and happiest of holidays from our family! Thank you for reading the blog and following our little journey of life.

Christmas Photos 2015

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Gift Guide for the New Mom

With the holidays just around the corner, I know there must be some of you (myself included) who haven’t completed your gift shopping (that’s why they invented Amazon 2-day delivery!) Being a new (first time) mom, I thought I would round up a gift giving guide of things for a new mom, first time mom, or soon to be mom that are fun but still functional and things that I’ve found myself either loving, or putting on my own Christmas list.

bathpillowBath Pillow
Prior to having a baby I really wasn’t much into baths. I pretty much would get too stir crazy thinking about all the other things I could be doing. Now, baths are glorious and a great way to have alone ‘mom’ time (and in our case, evenings for giving Vera & Matt alone DAD time). I admit I need one of these, I may or may not be using Vera’s BloomingBath as my pillow 🙂
Bath Pillow – $19.95


Coffee Shop Gift Card
For the coffee-loving mama (me me me!), coffee shop gift cards are truly the gift that keeps on giving. Nothing energizes me more than my favorite delicious crafted coffee house beverage. I could say my coffee orders in my sleep (“Venti white mocha”…”Large Mint Condition with white chocolate, skim milk and nonfat whip”) Getting a coffee shop drink is totally a TREAT for me, and gift cards make that treat 100% guilt free. (Tip: Find out what the closest drive through coffee shop is for the mom and buy a gift card from there! Drive throughs are a god-send to new moms who don’t want to get baby out of the car!)
$25 Starbucks Gift Card


Nursing Shirt
Clothes are hard. The new mom just went through the dreaded maternity clothes feeling super whale-like, and now sort-of has her body back (SORT OF). If she’s nursing, however, her boobs are still probably huge and finding cute tops that are conducive to nursing is an uphill battle (because the last thing you want to do after having a baby is CONTINUE to shop maternity clothes. Blah!) I like this Old Navy top because it looks like something I’d wear even if I weren’t breastfeeding a baby, but also offers a great option for nursing in public. Win!
Old Navy Nursing Shirt – $26.94


Bed Tray
Maybe this one is more of a ‘stay at home mom’ gift, but Vera and I often hang out (and I work) in bed all day. Somedays I have my coffee and lunch in bed, and I’m always on my computer, this handy little tray would make for less spills and more ample room! I also admit that often on weekends, Matt brings me breakfast in bed since I’m usually either feeding Vera or working, so this would be great for that too!
Bed Tray – $24.99


As a new mom, I’m still working on the mastering the process of meal planning, grocery shopping, and successfully cooking dinner on a consistent basis (oh, and having food in the house for me during the day, although I hold true that wheat thins and a cheese stick IS considered lunch). My sister is a great cook and I asked her for a recommendation for a cookbook for a new mom for quick and easy dinner recipes.
Everyday Food: Great Food Fast – $14.63

Clarisonic Mia
New moms can vouch that often, showering doesn’t happen (heck, even when I take a bath sometimes there really isn’t hair or face washing going on, it’s literally just soaking and relaxing). As a new mom, I’ve found that something as simple as a really clean feeling face can feel super rejuvenating. I’ve had my Clarisonic Mia for a few years now and love it. It just provides a really deep clean feeling and you feel like you really do get all the makeup, dirt, and oil off your face. (Tip: Don’t worry about buying their face wash, you can really use any face wash with it! My current favorite is the Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Ageless Resurfacing Scrub).
Clarisonic Mia – $150

Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo
Having previously worked in the beauty industry, I can say that this product comes highly recommended (especially for people who have fine hair like me!) Back to the theme of not always showering (so glamorous I know), I love this dry shampoo for pulling together quick hairstyles and taking that greasy look out of your hair.
Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo – $11.08

Mommy Hook
While strollers can seem like more work and a pain to haul/push around, lets look at the positive of them, they hold all our crap! They have a pouch for our phones and even cupholders for our (much needed) coffee. When you are out and about, this Mommy Hook is essentially a huge carabiner that can clip things like shopping bags or purses so you can stroll hands free and sip that delicious coffee.
Mommy Hook Stroller Accessory – $6.99

Magazine Subscription
Magazine subscriptions are seriously so underrated and so often overlooked as a possible gift. Some may say that they are even outdated (which truth-be-told has made magazine subscriptions CRAZY affordable). Well, I say “pshhhhh” to that nonsense. New moms are often confined/stuck in one place for 30(ish) minute increments nursing or pumping, and while Pinterest and Netflix can provide some entertainment, magazines are a great piece to add into the rotation. PLUS, who doesn’t like getting fun mail amongst a bunch of bills and spam?! (For the last few years I have been gifted the HGTV magazine and I totally love it!)

Enjoy & Happy Gift Giving!

I’m Loving: Blanket Ladders


My favorite interior decor pieces are ones that not only look great, but are functional as well. Right now I am love love loving the idea of using a ladder for blanket storage. In so many amazing interior designs that are popular on Pinterest, you will notice a combination of rooms having lots of interesting depth and textures. A ladder blanket adds a great rustic element to a room and provides vertical storage space where there was otherwise just a blank wall!

When I approached Matt with the plan to make the ladder he was pretty skeptical (just seemed too basic and a very ‘man approach’ of “A ladder is for climbing”), but as you can see below, it turned out great! SO great, in fact, that we’ve decided to take orders to make these puppies and sell them (just call us the ladder makers 🙂 We will see how these do locally and then maybe they’ll hit the Etsy market.

If you’re interested in a ladder, we are selling them for $60, pickup in Eden Prairie. Email to place your order! (One week turnaround). Also posted on local Craigslist here.

Blanket Ladder

Blanket Ladder

Blanket Ladder Lovin’ Links:

Blanket Ladder Decor | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Kitchen Renovation Layout

Kitchen Renovation Layout

We bought our house knowing we would be doing (a lot) of work to it. One area in particular was the kitchen. I read somewhere on a blog that you should live in your house for a year with the current kitchen before you go gutting/remodeling it to find out what works and what does not (by actually living in it), hence the kitchen renovation layout plan. As much as I wanted to tear it apart right when we moved in, we knew the whole main floor reno would be a process, so we started to consider what we liked/didn’t like before starting our renovation.

Let’s start with the positive (glass half full).

  1. The cabinets themselves are made of real wood, solid oak. Very sturdy. This made it difficult for us to say “just gut them and replace with new ones” because a lot of new cabinets are pressed particle board and Matt just couldn’t not have real wood (which I understand)
  2. The cabinets went to the ceiling maximizing storage = win!
  3. The general “U” layout of the kitchen really worked well in the space. With the garage access door where it is, the window above the sink, and the sliding door in the dining area, it really utilized the footprint well.

Didn’t Like:
Oh boy, I warn you, it’s a big list. A combination of both function and aesthetics.

Kitchen Renovation Layout

  1. The cabinets (oh wait, I thought we liked those?) Well, we liked the real wood aspect of them. What we didn’t like was: the orange-y 80’s color, how the doors were flat and lacked depth, the hardware, and somewhat the layout (more on that later)
  2. The scallop above the sink, enough said
  3. The lack of counter space (hence our microwave sitting on our counter = pet peeve!)
  4. The Jenn-Air stove with its “easy-bake-oven” size oven (for real, pans had to go in vertically and it couldn’t fit a Papa Murphy’s family size pizza. Not. Ok.)
  5. The pantry (cabinet next to the fridge in the photo above) ate up valuable counter space/kitchen area and it was a black hole of no organization
  6. When you walked in from the garage (to the left of the fridge in the photo above), which is an access we used often, the fridge pretty much smacked you in the face (or so it seemed) since it was right up next to the door.
  7. Our garbage that sat out for the world to see (and smell) at the end of the cabinets. Ew.
  8. The 70s step down counter that was a dumping ground for junk
  9. The floor – 60’s yellow/orange faux cobblestone laminate just isn’t a dream of mine. “Shocking” I know.
  10. Lighting – Yep there was one overhead light for the entire kitchen space (one of two in the entire main floor, they didn’t believe in overhead lights back in the 1960s, lamps were the cool thing)

So first thing was first, were we going to gut and 100% start over with new cabinets/layout? Long story short, we decided no. It was a combination of the high cost of new cabinets, and knowing we had real wood solid oak cabinets that were super sturdy and had potential (I KNEW I could save them and bring them back to life!) But we did want to change the layout (slightly), so we knew we would be building a kitchen with a mix of ‘old’ and ‘new’ cabinets. Oh boy, here we go.


Refrigerator Location
As I mentioned in the list above, you don’t really how much you hate a refrigerator being right next to a door unless you experience it. Our light switches for the kitchen and garage were also BEHIND the fridge so you had to stick your hand behind there to use them. Just silly. So, we knew we wanted to move the fridge but our layout didn’t lend too many options. Therefore, we decided to slide it inward and put a 1 foot cabinet on either side of the fridge. To the left, there was now the 1’ cabinet right when you walk in the door from the garage (and we can access our light switches!) Also a great spot for coffee cups, charging phones, etc. On the other side of the fridge, it was the buffer between the newly placed stove and the fridge.

Kitchen Renovation Layout

Stove Location (& Update)
Our retro Jenn-Air stove used to be on the peninsula side of our kitchen, leaving a scrappy amount of counter space on either side. Not ideal. We chose to move the stove location (and upgraded to a new dual oven, 5 burner gas stove. Swoon! Quite the upgrade) over to the garage wall side to free up much needed counter space.

Extend countertop for garbage/more counter space
At first I worried that we were extending our kitchen, but I think that now-a-days as compared to the 1960s when the house was built, the kitchen is so much more of a living space and social gathering place than a tucked away secluded area. Therefore, we decided to extend the former peninsula side of the kitchen out to flush with the new 1’ cabinet by the door to the garage. This also allowed us to build a pull out garbage drawer so that we would never have to look at (or smell) our trash cans out in the open (hallelujah!) AND gave us even more counter space, which let’s be honest, you can really never have enough of. Win. Win.

Add bar-height counter
I grew up in a kitchen that had a raised bar-height counter and I have memories of sitting there ALL the time. Homework, breakfast, lunch, sometimes even dinner, or just hanging out with my Mom while she cooked dinner (still in the kitchen to socialize but out of the way). I knew I wanted to add this to our kitchen and I’m SO glad we did.

Layout Before & After
So as not glamorous as my mockup plans are, this was really a huge undertaking to figure out the new layout of the kitchen without REALLY changing the footprint/designated space. (And now you have officially familiarized yourself with our OLD fabulous 1960’s orange-y kitchen as it was in all it’s glory. That will be clutch when you see the new reno and the huge transformation!)

Ta da!

Kitchen Renovation Layout

Kitchen Renovation Layout

I am so excited we are ALMOST done wrapping up our entire kitchen process that has literally taken a year to undergo (in our defense, we did a lot of the work ourselves, and had a baby 🙂 Jaw-dropping before/after photos to come!!

Kitchen Layout Plans | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

Corporate Dress Gone Stay at Home Working Mama

Corporate Dress Gone Stay at Home Working Mama

Ready for another career update? In the spirit of blogger transparency and keeping it real, I want to update you on real life, and my work updates (p.s. –  I have had more career updates in the last year than in my entire working life.) Here’s the update about what’s new and exciting in my world of “work”.

As you may recall from this post back in January, about how 2015 was going to be the “Year of Big Changes”, I underwent (another) career change BACK to the corporate world, but in a part-time position so I could also pursue photography, blogging, and wedding rentals. Well my friends, that post went live on January 5, 2015. Just 17 days later, Matt & I discovered the most wonderful news that really DID mean that 2015 was going to be the “Year of Big Changes”, because we were going to be first-time PARENTS! (Is that foreshadowing or what!?) Yep, Baby K had entered the equation and we excitedly looked forward to the months ahead.

With this news, also came lots of adult life choices/conversations/decisions (yes, I guess you need to do those adult-like things, especially when you are having a baby). Questions like, “was my part-time salary going to be worth looking into a daycare situation”, “would there be a daycare that would take an infant part-time”, “wait, do we even want to do daycare?”, “can I stay at home?”, “can we afford me to stay at home?”

So with those questions in mind, here I was working part-time corporate, part-time my own personal endeavors when suddenly in February (about a month after finding out we were pregnant), I received an offer for a part-time remote position that I could do 100% from home (or anywhere with wi-fi). I had applied for this position back at the end of 2014 and had thought that the opportunity had passed. This new part-time remote position would require me to work 15 hours a week to start. So, I started the part-time remote job in May, and well folks, 24 hours at part-time corporate + 15 hours remote at home, yep I was back to 39 hours a week (plus photography and personal endeavors). So to say I was “busy” work-wise through my pregnancy was pretty much an understatement.

So really, the whole point of doing the part-time remote gig right away was because it was essentially our long-term plan for me to have a (steady) income after the baby was born, and also have the opportunity to stay at home with the baby.

Fast forward to today — our daughter Vera has (of course) arrived (and yes, blown up all over the blog :), and I’m embracing this whole new idea of “work” from home. I admit that she and our cat Lewis are pretty great coworkers, and trading in my workspace cubicle for my sofa, bed, kitchen counter, passenger seat of the car, or a coffee shop, has been wonderful. But of course the best part is the baby snuggles and the amazing opportunity to work from home.

So I am beyond excited to announce my new (self-proclaimed title):

Mallory Kiesow – “SAHWM”
Stay-at-Home (PT Remote-Working) Mama
Lady Boss

Man oh man, that is going to be one BUSY business card, ok fine, that really made me make a fake business card, just because. 🙂

Corporate Dress Gone Stay at Home Working MamaHere is what my beautiful life has been looking like in my new role (funny how Instagram can be a good summary of our everyday lives!)
Corporate Dress Gone Stay at Home Working Mama

Vera’s Newborn Photos

Contrary to the last few posts, I DO promise this blog will NOT 100% be a shrine to my daughter Vera (I plea that she is 6 weeks old and I AM still obsessed with her, as healthily as a new mom should be 🙂  But I did want to share the newborn photos we took of Vera in her first 10 days of life. A big thanks to my sister Adrian who stood in as the photographer while I got in front of the camera vs. behind the lens like usual!

I wanted this session to be a lot like the newborn sessions that I photograph. A healthy mix of lifestyle photos with parents in the nursery, as well as some more classic ‘portrait’ type shots of the baby (especially great for birth announcements, etc.)

*Side note: New parents (in particular, new Moms) I (now) can 100% sympathize and relate with how you feel just days after giving birth, but I BEG you to be in a few photos like these with your new baby. In all reality, the focus is on the adorable baby anyway, and all you have to do is stare lovingly at your new bundle of joy with your partner. Although it may be tempting to skip out and just have the photographer only photograph the baby, toss on some mascara, leggings, a comfy sweater and a scarf and you will be good to go. (And I promise, you will be glad you have these to look back on!)

Vera’s Newborn Photos

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Looking for a newborn lifestyle photographer in the Minneapolis area?! (Don’t worry, I come to your house so you and baby can stay put!) I would love to book a newborn session for you or anyone you know! Please contact Photographs by Mallory Jo to setup a session. 🙂

Vera’s Woodland Nursery

It was so fun to plan Vera’s woodland nursery. Here is my moodboard that inspired the end result. I wanted to go for a baby girl woodland nursery that wasn’t too girly (but I just had to paint the walls a fabulous blush pink/coral 🙂

Baby Girl Woodland Nursery

And here are photos of the nursery, we are so happy with how it turned out.  Here are some details:

Branch Mobile – I DIY-ed this by finding a branch in our backyard and hanging strips of fabric leftover from the quilt along with gold ikea ornaments. (I also added that cute little bird on the top of the brand, held in place with jewelry wire 🙂 We hung it from the ceiling with fishing line and tacks so it has a great “floating effect” above the crib.

Baby Girl Woodland Nursery

Gallery Wall & Deer Head – I knew I wanted to do a gallery wall above the changing table/dresser.  My mother-in-law did an amazing job by making the faux taxidermy deer head from this tutorial! Other elements on the gallery wall were mostly from my basement. I framed three photos of Matt and I, one of our engagement, one from our wedding, and one of us with the ultrasound of baby 🙂

Baby Girl Woodland Nursery

You Are Our Greatest Adventure Sign – Inspired by the Etsy listing, Matt & I DIY-ed this sign by using strips of pine wood with danish oil (it is the same wood and oil used as the closet – more details on that here). Then, I cut out the saying “You Are Our Greatest Adventure” on white cardstock paper using the Silhouette machine and used spray glue to adhere it to the wood.

Upholstered Rocking Chair – Don’t you just love that chair?! I searched long and hard for an upholstered rocking chair that wasn’t uber expensive. P.s. It’s from TARGET! Check it out here, I took a leap of faith and ordered it without being able to sit on it to try it out (it is an online only product, but I’m pretty sure we COULD have returned it to the store if we didn’t like it, but luckily – we love it!)

Baby Girl Woodland Nursery
Baby Girl Woodland Nursery

Gold Foil Tree Decals on Gallery Wall – I used the Silhouette machine to cut out simple triangle shaped trees on gold contact paper. The best part is that the contact paper is already sticky on one side, so I simply “stuck” them on the wall in a grid pattern! I love that these have a geometric aspect to them so they can be trees or more like arrows, either of which goes great with the woodland theme. I think it really added to the feature wall.
Baby Girl Woodland Nursery
Baby Girl Woodland Nursery
Baby Girl Woodland Nursery
Baby Girl Woodland Nursery

Moodboard Links: 
Blush Paints
Color Scheme
You Are Our Greatest Adventure Sign
Target Wingback Rocking Chair
Branch Mobile
Etsy Woodland Prints

Baby Girl Woodland Nursery | Creative Mess in a Corporate Dress

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