Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas with the Kortes'

Me: C'mon in!
You: Oh, should I take my shoes off?
Me:  Not if they make your outfit!  Would you like coffee or tea?  Let's sit by the fire... and would you like a Gluten-free Christmas cookie?!

That's Christmas at our house and let me tell you celebrating the holidays in our new home has been amazing!  I got to work decorating right after Thanksgiving.  I knew it was going to take some time.  We needed to move furniture and then erect our new 12' Christmas tree.  I took me 2 hours to fluff and shape this tree, but once she was up and plugged in... I was in love!

Then I had to get to work decorating our tree... bottom to top on a 10' ladder where I often wondered "Am I scared of heights?" and "Why did I get a tree this big?"  But in the end, she's stunning and I'm basically convinced I need to re-create this tree year after year.

It didn't stop there though... stockings, lanterns, candles, garlands, all the Christmas decor and MORE.  In fact, I ended up with five fabulous Christmas trees around our home.  The 2nd tree was all white and found it's home in my girl's perfectly posh playroom and we decorated it up with every Paris-inspired black, white & pale pink ornament we could find.  It was just adorable!  I found the 3rd tree at Home Goods and after having a store employee drag it across the store for me to plug it in and ensure it lit up, I bought it & brought it home.  It's a flocked tree, sits in a stand and already had some bulbs and berries wired on it, so I just wired on more plus ribbon!  It was just perfect for the space in our sun room.  The 4th tree was our basement Christmas tree, which may have been a favorite of nearly everyone who made the trek downstairs to see it.  It wears a top hat, has a bit of an equestrian vibe and my girls loved it's classic Christmas feel.  But then, our master bedroom just felt bare.  Neglected.  So I made a quick trip to Kmart (going out of biz sale!) and happened to snag a 7' pencil tree for a $60 deal, brought it home and decorated it up to coordinate with our bedroom.

At this point I'm fairly certain my husband had thought he was going to have to have me committed for being addicted to Christmas decor.  Almost every inch of our home had a touch of something somewhere.  But in the end, after two weeks of non-stop decorating it was done and we could just ENJOY.  Enjoy it with family and friends and reflect on the blessing of the season.

After these photos were shot and I got proofs I just sat there thinking, "Woah!  We've only lived here for six months and we've created THIS for Christmas!"  I just felt overcome with gratitude.  It's a time of year where we do a lot of celebrating, continuing traditions, starting new ones and paying forward our many blessings.  So I hope you will stay and enjoy Christmas with us...

Come on in and enjoy some coffee with me by the fire... 

I think any other tree would have just felt TOO small.  This 12' beast fit the bill perfectly and while I could have probably done a 14 footer... I'm glad I didn't have to take my husband's huge ladder any higher!

To me, Christmas has always been about going a little over the top.  Adding just a little more sparkle, glitter and shine.  

I designed the main floor of our home with a whole "rustic glam" vibe, so I said I was going to do the exact same for Christmas!  Everything purchased for this room was bought with that in mind.

So warm & cozy.

 Ahhhh... symmetry.  Just gets me all giddy.

 Even our sliding barn door got a little touch of Christmas with a rustic wreath.

I almost needed a picture shot at night... this doesn't quite capture of sparkle & light of this tree.

Our sunroom got a little holiday make-over too.

Christmas red, leopard prints, plaids, cozy throws & velvet.

Little details have my heart.

Candlelight and Christmas trees!
Now imagine it filled with family & friends gathered around the island, because that is ALWAYS where everyone is no matter the party we host.

I do not know if this was totally fire dept approved.  However, the real cedar garland looked & smelled amazing and since it was so high... never was a fire hazard!

So simple, but perhaps one of my favorite holiday touches... swags of cedar garland!

An old wooden tray decked out with loads of greens & fresh winterberry, plus 3 sparkling candleholders was the perfect centerpiece for our table.

Me + Plaid ribbon = Kinda obsessed.

Our back hall most definitely had a very woodsy theme.  

Gimme all the gold & candlelight.

I hated to put away many of these things that were once on my fireplace or console table, so I arranged them on the floor and it was just FABULOUS when all lit at night.

 I think the horses approve.

These orbs!!!  They're truly meant to be hung, but when I saw them... I just knew I needed one on either side of my fireplace.  I purchase lightweight cement pots to place them on, filled them with floral foam, added fresh greens, then the orb, glass hurricane, candle and VOILA.  
I am in love with how these turned out!

Yes, yes... even our master bedroom had to have a little glow!

Wintery and warm.

The tree reflecting in that mirror with those lanterns... just perfect.

I love my glitter swan... she wears a fur cape.  And leaves glitter all over, everywhere, every year.

Our basement was completely filled with fur, Christmas reds & plaid, cable knits, velvets, glittering golds, chunky knit wools and everything buffalo plaid.

Oh Christmas plaids.... Oh Christmas plaids.... you make my heart so merry.

Cedar garlands wrapped our entire stairway.

Of course I even had to "Christmas-up" my husband's bar with a few things!

All the little touches make Christmas special to us.

Like glittering reindeer and old santas.

Even our home gym got a little Christmas decor.

Urns & wreath by me.  I LOOOOOVE outdoor decor just as much--I'm a total gardener at heart.

Snowy and serene in December.

An old sled, basket, cozy throw and toss pillows warm up the front porch.

What you do with all of your leftover greens... 
toss 'em in a basket with branches for an effortless look!

Wreaths with big bows hang from wire coat hangers shaped around 
our lanterns on either side of the garage.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope to see you at Christmas next year!

There is no holiday I love more than Christmas because it is a time to give, reflect, be blessed, bless others and share in the joy of Jesus.  So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and may your New Year bring you bountiful blessings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A few new Fall Changes

In Michigan you can always feel when it's fall.  The air changes.  If you live somewhere with four full season you know what I mean.  It smells like fall.  The leaves start to turn and fall, sweaters and scarves and boots are the new wardrobe staples and running to your nearest cider mill for donuts, cider, hayrides and corn mazes is the only acceptable thing to do on a weekend.  You feel me?!

The change of seasons is also when I love to change some things up around our home too.  I nearly always kick off mid-September with changing up our front porch decor.  I add more pansies, pumpkins, potted kale & huge oversized lanterns.

Next up, by October, is putting up some fall decor.  I can't say that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Black and orange are not necessarily my favorite colors, so I'm always challenging myself to find decor that not only will my kids enjoy, but that fits with the vibe of our great room.  This is just a fun table to accessories!  It's the perfect depth and width to make a statement, but not completely overwhelm the room with themed crap.  That's not my vibe.

With each piece I pick up or out I think, "Do I really love it?!"  and "Does this fit my rustic GLAM vibe?!" and if both questions are a big NO, I don't keep it or I take it back or just leave it right there on the shelf.

So this table is nothing more than candle holders and candlesticks I already owned mixed with a small apothecary jar, a sparkly glitter pumpkin and a pearl-y bejeweled skull, plus a real marble tombstone peeking out in the back.  Sure, it's Halloween decor, but it's not orange & black... YES!

You can find a similar console table HERE and HERE, and I love THIS and THIS

My next update was to our master bedroom.  Don't get me wrong... I loved our summer bedding, but it was white and white puppies were leaving little dirty paw prints all up and down it.  So for fall and winter I wanted to pick something darker in tone, but still neutral and cozy.  I initially browsed online for a week before deciding to just head into my local Pottery Barn store to browse.  So with pillow shams, existing throw pillows and the fabric swatch from our bed I went shopping!  Let's face it, if you want to pick out something that day just bring everything with you.  

Within a few minutes of looking I soon realized the duvet cover I had been eyeing online, while lovely, wasn't right with the tones in our room.  That's when I spotted the Anton bedding in Gray by Pottery Barn!  It was love at first sight and just imagine me taking over a whole bed in the PB store dressing it up with the duvet cover, shams, bringing in the euro fur shams I brought along (from last season) and my Callisto Home throw pillows just to make sure it was all going to fit my vision.  One store associate asks, "Are you a designer?"  Me, "No, just into decorating my home!"

So without further ado... our newly restyled master bedroom for fall... 

I also loved THIS in Taupe, THIS in Gray Multi, THIS one too and THIS one in Gray!!  In fact, I'm tempted to grab another for January - March, because our Michigan winters are long and changing up looks keeps me busy on freezing cold days.

And I spotted this upholstered bed while browsing online today, so if you'd like a bed like ours without the Arhaus price tag, THIS ONE definitely fits the style bill.   And I get asked non-stop about our birdcage chandelier and I happened across THIS ONE for a similar look.

Happy fall decorating, accessorizing & shopping friends!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I'm Betting On You: Beachbody's Health Bet

Fitness, nutrition and peer support – the Beachbody Health Bet has all the ingredients for success and I know that means success for you too!  So when you join me in my Health Bet group you'll be part of a 4-week accountability group focused on working out, eating healthy, drinking Shakeology, getting results and winning part of the $1,000,000+ prize pot!  

Here's how it works:
  1. Participate in my challenge group using the My Challenge Tracker App from September 5th thru October 2nd, 2016
  2. Meet the minimum in-App weekly tracking requirements (and get great results in the process!)
    • Log a minimum of 3 workouts.
    • Log a minimum of 5 Shakeology's, plus post a photo of your Shakeology with your tracked activity.
  3. Win and share equally in the final cash pot
The action kicks off on September 5th in my group, so don't wait!  Email me today at with your info to join.  I'll get you added and we can make September Strong! 

Gotta phone?  You can log in, get fit & win!

Monday, August 29, 2016

My 3-Day Refresh Recap

Last week I did a quick 3-Day Refresh because I had just been feeling off since getting food poisoning almost two weeks prior.  My stomach just wasn't 100% ever since.  I love the Refresh because it is so simple and I can easily work it into a normal week.  It's all whole foods based, so it's not like one of those cleanses that has you drinking weird liquids day & night, never eating any food and dying by day 2 only to binge on burritos and snickers.  To me, that kind of stuff is way too extreme and doesn't teach real nutrition.  That's starvation!

So this was my line-up of fresh fruits & veggies last week.  All normal, healthy and easy stuff to prepare!  And the 3-Day Refresh meal plan is easy.  It starts in the morning with a large glass of water, followed by a Shakeology smoothie and fresh fruit.  By mid-morning it's a swig of Fiber Sweep, which gently scrubs out your digestive track.  And no, you will NOT be running to the bathroom all day with this stuff.  Promise!  For lunch you can choose several options all featuring fresh veggies, fruits and healthy fats along with a Vanilla Fresh shake.  In the afternoon you get more healthy fats and veggies and then follow it up with dinner.  For dinner I usually pick the salad or one of the veggie options along with another Vanilla Fresh shake.  And of course lots of water throughout the day, so as you can see... you're eating the whole day!  No starving your body, this cleanse is all about nourishing your body!

On the last night of the Refresh I actually made my Vanilla Fresh shake into ice cream just by using less water and way more ice and then blended it up.  It was so good and a nice little treat for a warm summer evening.

And the results!!!  I was down 5.4lbs (in 3 days!!) and over 4" and 1.25" of that was just off of my waist.  The 3-Day Refresh isn't a lifestyle, but it can definitely be a jumpstart into healthier habits.  Whenever I finish the Refresh I'm always reminded how much I loooove fresh fruits & veggies and that reaching for some raspberries or bell pepper slices are so much better than processed food options.

And even when the Refresh is over I'm still craving my veggies and just adding back in more lean proteins and the next day I was still down another pound.  Just proof that healthy eating is the way to real sustainable results and of course the best example you could set for your family!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Journey to Gluten-Free

Oh gluten. I've been free of you for nearly 4 months now and I feel SOOO good.
For the past 9+ years I've suffered from horrible dermatitis & eczema. They gave me creams & ointments and suggested steroids, but nothing worked. I was still miserable. I started looking for all natural-based products thinking the issue was soaps or detergent.
Eventually I stumbled upon food sensitivities. Everyone thought I was crazy. Sure, I didn't have any of these issues growing up, but wow... our food supply has changed a lot in the last 30 years too. 
Soy is a huge trigger for me, it makes me itch & breakout like crazy, so that was 1st to go. And I'll tell you... as a kid soy was NOT in every food like it is today.
But honestly, I never wanted to give up wheat or gluten, that's hard!!! But when I tried it for a few weeks as an elimination experiment every blister on my hands disappeared. I was shocked. Could gluten have been a huge culprit this whole time? So, I cut it out as I started learning more about gluten intolerances. 
Symptoms of gluten intolerance / sensitivity are numerous – here is a list of many complaints that often clear up when gluten is removed from diets of gluten sensitive people, and clinical conditions linked with gluten intolerance: (Sources Dr Rodney Ford, Dr Alessio Fasano)
•Abdominal pain
•Eczema / rash
•Headache / migraine
•Foggy mind
•Numbness in the legs arms or fingers
•Joint pain
•Gastric reflux, heartburn
•Hashimotos / thyroid disease
•Subset of people with autism, schizophrenia
•Rheumatoid arthritis
•Auto-immune conditions
Crazy, right?!
I feel sooooo much better today than ever before. My skin has cleared, my digestive system works better and I have more energy than ever before. It's not the easiest lifestyle to live, but neither were the miserable skin issues I suffered before.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Welcome to my Home: Our Little Slice of Heaven

Welcome to my house!  I feel like this post has been a long time coming.  After you spend a year planning something and then another year building something that has long been in your dreams and on all of your goals list and then you finally move in... you kind of just want to live it versus share it.  So excuse us while we just LIVED this dream come true.

But I downloaded and uploaded a bazillion pictures and I am hoping you will enjoy our dream home just as much as we do.  It was definitely a labor of love.  I picked our nearly every single detail myself with Jeff skipping out on all design meetings after spending the first one selecting faucets and shower fixtures for 3 hours.

Now that we've been in our new home for nearly two months it feels more real, more lived in, more messy and all of that, I prefer.  I look at these pictures now and they feel a bit sterile and a bit cold.  Today our home feels more WARM, more filled with LOVE and FAMILY.  Pillows are out of place, shoes on the floor, a dish in the sink and towels all over the pool area, but that to me, just means that we are loving every inch of our space.

So without further ado.... our home!

This door.  Oh, this door.  What was once a little Pinterest inspiration turned into a custom made door made by one of Michigan finest wood workers who crafts these doors by hand.  It spans a large space and after the 1st door was rejected by yours truly for just not living up to my vision... door #2 was created.  Door #2 is perfect.  From her curved arch to her huge bevel glass insets she just screams come closer & walk in.

Once you walk in most people notice our horses.  The artist, James McLaughlin Way, not only paints these nearly life-size horses on canvas, but he sells limited editions of them.  This one also happens to be glass coated, but what you don't realize is... it's over 5 feet wide.  It looked SO large when it arrived.  Sometimes I think they almost look too small for this space in a photograph, but in person they seem right at home.

Faux cowhide rug is just a bit of the unexpected in our front entry.

But who's looking at that rug when you peer in and see THOSE beams!  Watching our builder's rough carpenters come in and craft them on-site was amazing.  The feeling I wanted to achieve was "rustic glam" and these beat up worn cedar beams that span nearly 20' definitely fit the bill. 

Perhaps one of my most favorite spaces to curl up with a book.

Fuzzy sheepskin ottomans crafted by me!  These were a fun DIY designer-inspired pop to our great room that I'm glad I crafted for about $400 vs. purchasing for $2000+.  My girls LOVE sitting on them too!

I remember when we realized the island would be 13' long.  It seemed like it was going to be huge, but it fits the space and has turned into our favorite place to gather.  Everytime we have friends over this is where everyone hangs out.

Dream fridge... CHECK.  

Oh, that real brick backsplash!  I tell ya... I nearly gave the mason a heart attack asking for messy brick mortar and a herringbone pattern, but the brick and the quartz counters and the crystal pendant lights just added to the "rustic glam" feel.

Our dining room is so simple and just off the kitchen, but this table... one of my splurges from Restoration Hardware, along with the chairs, is one of my favorite pieces.  Such a classic look and this table was actually the inspiration for all of the hardwood flooring in our entire home!

Our sunroom otherwise known as our family chill room.  It's where we come to relax, kick back, watch TV, play board game and unwind in the evenings.  And this was the only furniture that came with us from our old home... it just seemed to fit perfectly into this new space.

Back off of the front entry is one of my favorite hangouts... my office!

Then down the hall and around the corner is our master suite.  I remember looking at this room on paper and thinking, "It looks so small!"  Apparently this is an issue for many people building a home--it looks small on paper.  Of course, it continues to look small with drywall, painted walls and then carpet.  Once then furniture is in, "OMG, this room is huge!"

It's definitely a perfect dreamy master bedroom.  So serene and comfy and today it looks even more peaceful and plush with custom drapes now hung to tie-in entire design.

The bathroom mirror that nearly gave everyone fears over installation, but now installed... is perfection.  Our master bath was a compilation of a few Pinterest ideas and I absolutely love how it turned out.  We once shared a sink.  Now we don't even touch elbows!

A moment of AWE & silence for the Swarovski crystal faucets, please.  They were definitely worth the splurge.  They catch the light and sparkle all over as you walk through the bathroom.

Our steam shower... forget fancy bathtubs, I'll take a huge steam shower any day.  Add in 3 different shower heads including a rainfall shower head and this thing is the most amazing shower I have ever taken in my entire life.  Also, one of my favorite little details... the herringbone tile floor & ceiling.

Into the back hall you'll find lots of little hidden treasures... like our half bath, message station, laundry room, lockers for boots, shoes, coats and backpacks, plus access to the upstairs.

Let's head upstairs to my girl's space, shall we?!  It's one of my favorite spaces in the whole house and well, my girls just love it.  I was worried about us being on the main floor and their bedrooms and play space being on the 2nd floor, but they love their Parisian loft.  It's Paris chic!

Palest of pink bathrooms with penny tile floor and quartz counters.

Audrey's bedroom...

Finley's bedroom...

Now we're headed back downstairs, but this time down two flights of stairs in our basement.  Beyond the home gym it's not an area we have used a lot this summer, but I know as the weather turns cooler here we'll be enjoying every inch of it this fall & winter.

Our lower level family room is perfect for chilling and I'm so glad we splurged on a new couch for this space... it filled with down feathers and heavenly.  The double chaises ensure that everyone has a comfy spot for movies or Netflix marathons!

You can play a game of pool...

Or belly up to the bar!

Antique glass mirror tiles came from Etsy for a unique backsplash!

The piano I grew up playing on now resides in our basement just waiting for our girl's to start piano lessons this fall.  They love tinkering.  I love the canvas of Wemmick above our piano from our friend and photographer, Amy Carroll.

Our home gym, perhaps one of our most loved rooms in the whole house.

Lower level bath perfect for special guests.  I had some fun with this bathroom picking out some fun tiles and a faucet that was a bit out of my comfort zone, but the waterfall faucet is a hit.  It also functions great as a drinking fountain for super hot & sweaty workouts.

Our first guest room... The Dream Big Suite.

Our second guest room, which I lovingly named the Puerto Rican Suite.  It has a very beachy vibe!

And lastly, let's head to my favorite space.  We live in Michigan, so I'm aware our summer's are short but like I always say... they're the kind of summers Kid Rock writes songs about!  Nothing beats a Michigan summer and we've been enjoying every minute of it each day by this pool.  From early morning coffees to late night swims and s'mores by the fire table this space was designed to feel like a getaway.  When I just chill or work from here I feel like I'm on vacation, a tropical vacation, and that was most definitely the point.

We use this outdoor television daily.

All summer meals are grilled and served up here.


Our pool's infinity edge, and the sound it creates is amazing.

Our master deck... the perfect little afternoon getaway.

A putting green?  Yes, a putting green.  It was Jeff's idea and one that actually worked out perfectly for our backyard.  We wanted some green space, but didn't want real grass near the pool.  It's also provided hours of endless entertainment for major kid-friendly putting tournaments!

I have room for friends.  C'mon over, I make a mean margarita!

The best place to sit and just take it all in, plus roast those marshmallows!

Photos courtesy of Dan Johnson Photography

For questions on where specific items were purchased, leave me a comment below... I'm happy to answer.  I also did a LIVE tour on Facebook Live of our home where I answer a lot of Q's on where many items can be found, so you may also refer to that:

Thank you for stopping by our home, we home you enjoyed the peek inside.

Builder:  Engelsma Homes