Corporate Dress Gone SAHWM (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. :)

SAHWM_2Here 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!)

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 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!)

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Looking for a newborn lifestyle photographer in the Minneapolis area?! (Don’t worry, I come to your house!) 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 themed nursery. Here is my moodboard that inspired the end result. I wanted to go for a nursery that wasn’t too girly (but I just had to paint the walls a fabulous blush pink/coral :)


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.


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 :)

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!)


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.

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

Maternity Photos

Better late than never, right?!  Before I reveal little Vera’s newborn photos, I figured I should share the MATERNITY photos we took at 36 weeks. As a photographer, I always encourage soon-to-be mamas to get maternity photos taken, even if you aren’t feeling photogenic, they are great to look back on and embrace the inner beauty of having your child in your belly. Like I always tell mamas, the focus is on the bump! And it’s true, looking back I’m so glad we did these photos. We used a field behind my parents house for a gorgeous golden hour backdrop.
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DIY Boat Bar | Lake Geneva, WI

It’s always flattering when people compliment me for being creative, but you guys, I am clearly surrounded by equally as awesome people who have equally crazy ideas that they execute into one-of-a-kind projects that will just BLOW your mind.  Case-in-point, my sister Naomi and her husband Ryan who live in picturesque Lake Geneva, WI.  They literally put a BOAT in their basement and turned it into a fully functioning bar…I mean seriously, how cool is that?!  That ultimate DIY boat bar project is coming your way, with a lovely interview from the couple themselves on how this dream ever came to be, and the journey along the way.

Enjoy!  Boat-Bar-Blog-16Boat-Bar-Blog-6

Where did you come up with the idea to build a boat bar in your house?  
Good question.  I guess it’s a lifestyle I would love to have: to be on a boat, with a bar, little care in regard to the ‘real world’, sun in our faces with my wife by my side. (Either that or simply a dreamer with a drinking problem).  Kenny Chesney or Jimmy Buffett may have a song or two about just this.


Where did you find the boat that you purchased and how long were you looking before you found the one you wanted? (What were your requirements for the boat?).  
I looked for months on Craigslist (aka the greatest website ever founded).  I wanted a 16-18 foot wood boat from the 1960’s (dimensions based on basement limitations).  I found one in Oshkosh, WI – a 1962 Carve, which bonus, was originally built in Wisconsin.  We didn’t own a vehicle with a hitch except our Class-A RV, so we took a ride in October (with all 3 kids) to Oshkosh and after maneuvering the RV through a storage area, we met our boat.  The owner had started the restoration and it was fully original.  He had wanted to put it on a lake in Wisconsin but didn’t have the time or money to keep up the storage.  So, with a passion & a vision, we bought the boat and trailered it home behind our 36’ RV.


Talk about some of the personal touches you added to the boat bar and their meaning.
The top of the boat was covered with a blue canvas.  So I completely gutted the boat, stripped all the canvas and got down to the bare wood (all being done in my unheated pole building in the dead of winter in Wisconsin). I sanded, stained, varnished, installed stripping, and cut the opening for the walk behind bar.  Cutting the boat was scary.  I thought the back of the boat would fold out and fracture with the side removed (luckily it did not).  Once the boat was successfully cut, we moved the boat into our basement on the trailer (we had to remove a 9’ doorway for access).  We installed the boat on a frame I had built to lift the boat to “bar height”.

After the boat was in the basement, I added a the name “Nowhere to Go” (because every boat needs a name), numerous family photos and nautical elements given to me from family members, each detail and piece has a story and lots of love behind it.  I will also share that my wife bought me a “kegerator” to modify (aka: tear apart) and install that on the boat as well, so we always have fresh tap beer flowing.  I’d say that’s true love right there to just agree with some crazy guys’ dreams of a boat bar in their basement.


Talk about some of the materials used. 
We tried to use things that reminded us of Lake Geneva.  We took old pier posts from our family’s pier and used that as a tie up for the rear transom (aka the door to behind the bar).  We added other items such as the fishing pole from the movie “Grumpy Old Men” from Minnesota (where my wife is from), an old lobster buoy from Maine (where my wife and I lived after we were married), a photo of my grandfather behind a bar, and several other old pictures and decor of Geneva Lake.  We made a liquor cabinet and topped the cabinet with a “zip sled” design from our childhood.


What was the most challenging part of the boat bar project?
Cutting the boat after I restored it.  I’ll never forget sharing with my wife that the boat was restored and we should sell it to someone to enjoy and NOT cut it.  She told me she refused to listen to me scour Craigslist for another boat.  So, after lunch I went to the pole barn and cut the boat. Scary, but luckily, it all worked out.


What is your favorite part of the boat bar?   
Having our family and friends over to enjoy the boat bar is by far my favorite part.  We love that it is unique, fun, and functional- and always a good conversation piece.  Thanks for sharing our story!  We love how it turned out, it was truly a labor of love.


The Big {Gender} Reveal!

I can hardly wait to share with you guys – we FINALLY know the gender of Baby K!  And without further anticipation….


Can you believe it?!  I sure couldn’t, I was totally shocked! I had boy boy boy in my mind SO much that I was seriously floored when I found out it’s a girl.  Matt and I thought long and hard about how we wanted to find out the gender.  I was worried about what my reaction might be, so we decided to have the ultrasound tech circle on a piece of paper in an envelope I brought the gender, and we went through the entire 20 week appointment without knowing (omg you guys, it was so hard to not know for that hour!)  We got into the car and opened the envelope together, alone.  AND… I totally screamed, I was just so so surprised.  My heart was racing, it was such an awesome moment, and we are SO excited to welcome a little GIRL into the world this September!!  :)

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A very special thanks to Hannah of Hannah Schmitt Photography for the awesome photos! :)

Gender Reveal Countdown – 1 Week!

1 week.  1 week.  1 week.  7 days.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Alright guys, to say we’re excited for a week from now is the understatement of the year.  I did pretty well being patient for most of April leading up to the gender reveal, but I’ve lost it and gone crazy with just a week left!!

So crazy in fact that those old wives’ tales predictions that mean nothing?  Yeah, I’m throwing that all out there along with our own variables that we have thought of while waiting (ever so impatiently).


Now, we aren’t having a gender reveal party or anything, but we will be posting something special on the blog to tell everyone the gender!

What’s your guess!?  Vote below! (No, seriously PLEASE vote to humor and distract me for the next 7 days while I continue to wait :)


It’s your turn to guess! What is the gender of our first baby?!

View Results

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DIY Wedding Mason Jar Mugs


Looking back on your wedding, did you have just one project that now looking back you say, “What on earth was I thinking?!  How did nobody tell me I was totally insane?”  Well, I certainly do.  And I’m certain my friends and family just knew that I wouldn’t let down from this idea, so they graciously rolled with it.  Although I still hold to this day that I loved the labor of love I did for these and was so happy with how they turned out.

So, while wedding planning, I was obsessed with idea of these personalized mason jar mugs as favors, but buying them off The


BUT, it appeared to be a painful investment between the cost per mug and don’t let that fool you, make sure you check out the shipping cost too.  Here is what mine looked like:

The Knot Custom Mason Jar Mugs:
Qty needed: 228
Shipping:  $186.89
Total Cost: $789.61
Price per mug:  $3.46 (Total cost (including shipping) / qty)

*Note, this pricing above was when I was planning my wedding in 2013.  Now looking at the link to the Knot, the prices seem even higher! 

Yeah, almost $800 in mason jar mugs for giveaways just wasn’t in our budget.  But don’t you fear, DIY-budget savvy brides, where there is a will (and a BRIDE’s will at that), there is a WAY!

I started researching and found some tutorials on glass etching.  You simply have a stencil/template and buy etching cream from your local craft store (like Michaels), brush it on (I really liked these brushes), let it sit, and wash it off- then bam!  The glass is etched.  Seemed pretty straight-forward.

I took our wedding logo of the “M&M” and the silhouette of our venue barn (that our amazing graphic designer created for us!) and using my sister’s Silhouette Portrait machine, I cut it out onto clear sticker project paper.  Then, I tested it by sticking it onto a mason jar and etching it- success! DIY-Mason-Jar-Mugs_3

Now, that I knew this crazy idea was possible, the next goal was to find where I could purchase blank mason jar mugs to hand etch each 180-some mugs for every guest (#crazybride).  Upon my crazy searching, I came across Fillmore Container in Lancaster, PA (note, I am located in Minnesota).  I emailed them and found not only the blank mason jar mugs at a great price, but also, these adorable daisy lids so straws could go in them (swoon!  How cute!).  Here is how my Fillmore order came out:

Fillmore Container Blank Mason Jar Mugs:
Qty needed: 228 (19 cases of 12)
Shipping:  $141.84
Daisy Lids (100): $28
Total Cost: $351.86
Price per mug:  $1.54 (Total cost (including shipping) / qty)

Cost Savings Compared to The Knot:  $437.75

Well, if you save nearly $500 then I applaud you (as I did myself at the time).  So yes, I ordered 19 cases of blank mugs from Pennsylvania that were all delivered to my tiny 700 sq ft house (insert ridiculous look/laugh here).  It was pretty comical.  They took up my entire kitchen.  Now, of course, the work had just begun.  It’s safe to say for DIY brides, your time is worth nothing.  It’s just true.  If I would look at how many hours I hand etched each 180-some mugs for my guests, I’m sure the $500 savings wouldn’t be worth it, but to us DIY-budget savvy brides, umm yes, it was worth it.

The next few months were a blur (and can pretty much be summarized in the behind the scenes photos below, Lewis loving the boxes filled with packing peanuts that the mugs came in and helping to etch, lots of late night slap-happy etching parties).

Etching the Mugs – The Basic Process:
1.  Cut out stencils of wedding logo from the Silhouette machine (note, you could only use one sticker stencil on one mug, then it had to be thrown away)

2.  Stick them on the mason jar mugs

3.  Using etching cream, etch over each stencil, letting the etching cream sit for 5 minutes (you can see below, I used post-it notes by the mugs where I would write the time + 5 minutes so I could keep working ahead and do multiple at a time)



As one of my prize-DIY projects from the wedding, I wanted these babies to double as my escort “cards” for people, and also label the mugs so people could use them throughout the night and keep track of their drinks. So I had to come up with 2 things:

  1. How/where to put individual names
  2. How/where to put the assigned table names

Here is what I came up with:

Guest Names
For the names, I purchased these key tags they were pretty inexpensive for how many you got in a pack.  Then, I created a template on my computer using a few of my wedding patterns, and typed in each guests name.  I then printed them on white sticker paper (note, not the clear kind like before, the “white”) and cut them out with a 1″ circle puncher to fit perfectly into the key tags.  This was a tedious process, but you can fit a lot of circles on one page, so it really wasn’t that bad.  I also loved that I used my wedding font and pattern to make it tie into the rest of the pieces at the wedding.  (I made tags for Matt & I to use that just said “Mr Kiesow” and “Mrs Kiesow”)- which was pretty cute too).


I then tied this mint green jute twine cording around the mouth of the mason jar mug and slipped the key ring onto it to connect it to the mug, securing it with a knot and bow.


Table Assignments
Our table numbers were constellations, as Matt and I met in astronomy class (more about table names here).  So to tie into that, I decided to use rock candy.  I purchased rock candy in various colors in bulk (from here), and then made flags using scrapbook paper (in my wedding colors).  I made the table names on my computer with my wedding font and printed them on clear sticker paper so I could easily transfer them onto the pretty scrapbook paper.  Finally, I attached the flags to the rock candy, which were placed upside down in the mason jar mugs for guests to find their seats.  (As you can see, the kiddies really loved the candy too :)


I even made a cute little poem which I had printed to poster-size at Walgreens (no, I did NOT really chalkboard write that well!!) to fit into my amazing gold frame to communicate to guests what these (amazing) mason jars were all about:


After all that work, I am so happy to report that our guests loved the mugs and used them throughout the WHOLE night at our wedding.  We even had guests (ok, mostly girls) getting fancy by mixing the Angry Orchard hard cider we had on tap with red wine for a Sangria type mix and using the tops and straws- love!

Was this project a labor of love?  Yes.  Did the mugs mean so much more to me after putting hours of work into them and making them exactly what I wanted vs. just paying $800 for something non-custom: YES.  So there you have it!  I hope you fellow-DIY brides can use this and be sure to let me know if you try this yourself!  (I would love to hear from a fellow crazy DIY-bride like I was) :)

Cheers! (Literally!)

*Oh, and DIY brides, be sure to think about the things that you put SO much work into for your wedding and get some photos with them to commemorate all your hard work! Your photographer will be so appreciative since they don’t know about all the work leading up to the big day!
*Weddings photo credit throughout to Erin Jean Photography

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The Big Announcement – We’re Pregnant!

Matt & I are SO SO excited to share that we are expecting a baby this September!  For someone who is so terrible at lying, this secret was SO difficult to keep for 3 months, but we couldn’t be more excited to finally share our news! :)

How Far Along:  I am currently 12.5 weeks and feeling pretty good!  Our due date is September 23rd.  I was of course feeling nauseous in the beginning, but that has definitely improved.  More than anything, I feel like I am super tired all the time (which is very out of the ordinary for a night owl like me).

Size Of Baby: Baby is as big as a plum (in a few days, we move up to a peach)

Cravings:  Nothing too crazy (yet). Tending to be drawn to salty food and carbs – random cravings have included: cheesy bread and marinara sauce and even more randomly: Subway.  I expect these will continue to change as time goes on.

Anti-Cravings:  This is insane you guys, coffee sounds terrible to me   I know!  Crazy!

I’m excited to share more baby projects in the upcoming months, along with the gender reveal that we will find out in early May (We cannot wait to find out! The planner in me just can’t go with a surprise, I just have to know!).  In the meantime, Matt will be stepping in as my spray painter/painter for other projects since I am out of commission in that category.

So what do you guys think!? Boy? Girl? (No twins, we have confirmed there is ONE baby in there :) Matt and I are both guessing boy, but time will tell!!


Painting Wood Paneling


It’s been awhile since a house project update – don’t think it hasn’t been on our mind (trust me), but we are excited to start our kitchen plan!

Now let me preface with a tough decision we had when it came to our kitchen update plans.  We figured there were 2 routes we could go:

1) Gut + Brand New

We did go through the research process of drawing up a kitchen plan, meeting with the Menards kitchen designer and getting quoted for custom cabinetry (ouch for pricing).  Menards came in around $8K for cabinets alone (not counting countertops, hardware, etc.)  We found a discount cabinet supply store that had pretty good pricing on cabinets, but again being in the thousands for cabinets alone, then taking into account the incremental costs associated with the flooring, countertops, etc. – it just seemed like a lot at this point in our lives.

2) Facelift

Matt has always had his reservations about facelifts (home decor cosmetic facelifts that is, I am opposed to human facelifts too :).  I understand his concerns.  To put money into an “interim solution”, but when we plan and think we are probably going to live with our current kitchen footprint for the next 5-ish years, it is well worth the investment to spruce up what you have with some budget friendly updates.

So, facelift it is!

One thing I have hated in our house since we bought it is the excessive amount of orange-toned wood, including this beautiful paneling we have.  The paneling is along this wall (the chalkboard wall), the sliding door wall (which does really have much wall), in our entry way, and then down the hallway to our bedrooms/bathroom.  So some, but not everywhere.  It isn’t in our living room at all (whew).


Rather than ripping it off and revealing a bunch of destroyed drywall we have to replace, I’d like to paint it.  The question has now become – what color to paint it?!  Initially of course I was thinking a white/cream color.  But our kitchen plans are starting to involve some “bold color” (OMG are you guys excited?!  I sure am. Can’t wait to share :)

Anywho, so I’m leaning toward keeping our walls white and maybe going with painted gray paneling. I am drawn to the gray from this inspiration photo, I just love the clean white walls with the contrasting gray.

photo credit

Here is the mockup of this little corner of our kitchen with the gray paneling:

Plus the white is leaning a little too ‘country’ for my taste, while I feel like the gray is different.

What do you think?!  I seriously need opinions as I am totally torn over this one…



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