Welcome to Coffee Pines & Designs

Welcome to Coffee Pines & Designs a blog created by an interior designer, a person working on self love, an artist and a foodie. My name is Kirsten and all of those people are me. Far more importantly, I am a wife and mother of two daughters. I am blessed to have those titles, but upon moving to Northern Minnesota in 2011 I lost a little bit of myself. This is my outlet to regain my creative spirit and share my passions. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey!

Whoomp There It Is

I was driving the kids to school the other day listening to the radio. “Whoomp There It Is” came on. I knew those lyrics from start to finish. The girls probably thought I was crazy. As it ended I laughed, I snorted because I laughed so hard and then I had tears. I had tears of joy. I was so young when that song came out. My mind was not saturated with adult worries, mommy brain or more useful/unnecessary facts. Over the years I have often commented that I wish I could remember lyrics like I once did. Yesterday morning I laid in bed and listened to Coldplay’s “Fix You”. I really listened to it and I cried again. Not only because the lyrics are so beautiful but because it is so sad that I (or we) can get so wrapped up in life to not listen, to not experience, to not feel.

I have always loved music. I am not musically inclined. I can’t sing. I tried to play the flute once. I didn’t jive with the teacher so I quit. I can still listen to a song and hear how I would tap dance to it (think Gregory Hines in the movie “Tap”).

My point is, music has always been a part of me. My first memories of truly loving music was 80’s rock, Janet Jackson- Rhythm Nation, Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey. Music has been a part of my heart and my soul. It makes me feel emotions. I need to honor that. I need to tune in *pun intended* I need to essentially mediate to it. I need to be present.

I bet you didn’t expect such a “deep” post coming from a title of “Whoomp There It Is”. It was that stupid song though, that brought me to life on a Friday morning. It brought me to a realization that I need to feel a little more!

The thing I fear most about my kids…

Many of you with kids may have conferences around this time of the year. I am blessed that our girls are doing well academically. I could use this time to talk up my kiddos, and believe me I could, but this post is about the thing I fear the most with my kids. Are they nice? In a world where there is so much hatred, disrespect and bullying I truly want kids that are nice to one another. If they are not doing well academically, I want them to try their hardest. That’s all.

When Stella came home with this piece of homework it made my heart sing. It made me smile. It brought tears to my eyes out of happiness. I got to hear her describe how God wants us to like others, like us, and not like us.

Dear God, please keep this mindset with Stella. Let her welcome people of all different backgrounds into her life. Amen.

Monday Meals: Lunch Prep

Lunches are hard for me. I need something fast but filling. Some weeks are better than others when I prep for weekday lunches. Last week a friend from work shared with me a recipe for Apple Harvest Chili. A patient had shared it with her. She was kind enough to bring a bowl to share with me. I later made the recipe and quickly wished I had doubled the batch! I also whipped up a batch of Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, It’s All Good. These two recipes should get me through lunches this week. I hope you enjoy the Fall recipes…or winter, wherever you may be reading this post from *smile*

Apple Harvest Chili


16 oz chunky salsa- medium heat

1 can corn, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

14 oz chicken broth

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1 T cocoa powder

2/3 cup chopped cashews


Mix all ingredients except the cashews in a pot

Bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour

Stir in cashews before serving

Top with shredded cheese and sour cream

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander


2 T Olive Oil

1 Large red onion, diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

5 Sprigs of cilantro, chopped

1 t cumin

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 t Chipotle in adobo sauce

6 Cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 Cups vegetable stock


Heat oil in large pot

Cook onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin and salt on medium heat for 10 minutes

Add chipotle and potatoes along with stock

Bring to boil and then simmer 30 minutes

Purée soup in Vitamix, or other powerful blender

Friday Favorites: Baked Donuts

I love starting the day off baking breakfast with my kiddos. There was no school today so baked donuts it is! I purchased this donut pan from Pampered Chef a month or so ago. The first recipe I tried from the Food Network was a hit with my kids and my co-workers. We have tried two toppings. One with cinnamon/sugar and one a glazed. Last time I made them I asked my kids how they were… “better than Tim Hortons”! That is a win in my book!


Baked Donuts from Food Network


2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

2 T butter, melted

2 t vanilla

Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt

In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk, butter and vanilla

Mix all ingredients together

Bake in a donut pan at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes


8 T melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

Dip the donut in the butter and then in the sugar/cinnamon mixture

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I had the pleasure of watching the Mr. Rogers documentary this morning. I was pleased to see it at our local library already. This was a show I grew up on. I think it was on before Sesame Street each day while my grandma babysat my sister and me. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a kid.

I have even more appreciation for his great insight now that I am an adult. The messages he shared were so deep but were shown with such simplicity. He was a radical, as they said. He talked about subjects that were scary- death, divorce, war, just to name a few. How was he so ahead of his time?

It is a shame that Mr. Rogers is not on PBS any longer. I get it. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has some of the same messages but with a different look to entertain the new generation of kids. Our kids could learn a lot by listening to Mr. Rogers. Daniel’s messages just don’t quite hit home like they should for the scary things our kids see in today’s world. Look at his neighborhood and the recent shooting. I would like to see more of us embrace each other like he did.

I don’t remember hearing that Fred Rogers passed away in 2003. Although, I was in college and at a different point in my life. I cried for his passing this morning- like an awful sobbing mess. Rest In Peace, Mr. Rogers, and may more people act like you did.

Happiness Project: Passions and Mindfulness

Here I am, finally sitting down to write about September and October’s Happiness Project. September focused on Passions and October was on Mindfulness.

September almost made me sad when I read the chapter and prepared for the month. I almost avoided the subject to be honest. Passion is a hard subject for me. Part of the problem is I am too passionate about too many things. Interior Design, Art, Reading, Exercising, Healthy Eating, Music, Movies…and then there is my family and friends. How can one fit all of that into life? Well, I try, and then I get sad when I can’t do some of them to the extent that I want to. I know life is a balance. I know that I can’t do all of the things listed to the fullest extent that I want to at the same time. I feel like my passions are a “need” in my life, not a “should”. I don’t feel complete when I think of not being able to do some of these things. I don’t like to be told that I can’t do something, even when it is myself saying I can’t do something because of time restraints. It is a battle that I deal with daily. I think this paints a picture as to why I tried to avoid the focus of passions and essentially avoided writing about them too *sigh, smile*. I tend to dive both feet in with whatever passion I focus on. This is why I read 5 books of the Anna Todd series, After, within a few weeks. This is why I can be dedicated to my workouts for a month and then find myself geared towards my blog at full force for the next month- slacking on my fitness. All of these things make me happy, I know this, I have to continue to be mindful of being happy with whatever passion I choose to focus on when the kids are in bed, work is complete and the house is tidied up.

The focus for October was mindfulness. A word I feel has been an underlying part of The Happiness Project month after month. There has been a focus each month and with that comes mindfulness of that topic.

One of the fun take aways from this chapter was using mindfulness in conjunction with a password. So many of us need to use passwords each day for the technology we use. Take a topic you are focusing on and create a password with it. *Breathe2018*. *Smilemore2018* *Getupfromyourchair2018*

These are only suggestions and not passwords I am using *smile*

Gretchen Rubin suggested to make a list each day of items you are thankful for. I was already trying to do this as it was a suggestion from Rachel Hollis. I was feeling overwhelmed by the suggested list of ten Rachel recommended. I was at a work conference last weekend and one of the speakers suggested a list of three things at the end of the day. Now, this seemed more manageable. Not that I am ungrateful for ten things each day, but Rachel’s suggestion was to be extremely detailed with the list. For example, one day I was walking Emery into school. It had snowed that day so this little munchkin of mine was in large snow pants stomping in her clunky snow boots. She had this strut. A strut of confidence and sass. It made me smile and giggle to myself. I was thankful for witnessing that moment. I was thankful that I was not in a hurry so I could be fully present with her.

Two months left. I can not believe that this project is coming to an end. Attitude is the focus for November. Oh goodness! Focus in Kirsten, this is a good one for you!

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. I am grateful for those around me and take the time to read through my thoughts.

Book Review: After series by Anna Todd

I was listening to a Rachel Hollis podcast a few months back. She was talking to Anna Todd, an author I had not heard of before. One of Anna’s books was being transformed into a movie. I figured it was a book I had to look into. Little did I know I would devour 5 of her books in little time. The After series has 5 books within it. After, After We Collided, After We fell, After Ever Happy and Before. I can’t help compare these to a young adult version of Fifty Shades of Grey. One would not be able to deny that the story lines were similar- innocent girl meets a bad boy and falls in love- the books even include some racy content- ok, a lot of it.

What drew me into Anna’s writing was her attention to detail. All of the books were lengthy, but this gave each character details that a lot of authors miss. Often times when I read a story I long for more. Deeper words to describe the characters, more to the story line and then what happens “after” *pun intended*. Anna hit these three things on the head. With this being a young adult series, I wonder how the movie will be portrayed and laid out on the big screen.

I thoroughly enjoy a good soundtrack, as many of my close friends know. I was intrigued to see a playlist at the beginning of the 5th book, Before. I wish I would have had the playlist from the beginning so I thought I would lay it out here for you. Tessa’s favorite band in the book is The Fray, I highly suggest listening to their full album as you read the series as well.

Coffee and a Good Read- 2018

I am an avid reader. Here I will list the books I read during this year. I will provide a few words to describe my feelings of the stories told without giving away the book.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Unforgettable love. Inter-racial struggle. Ahead of the times. A must read.


Darker by E.L James

This is the 2nd book written through the eyes of Mr. Grey. Enlightening. Additional details. Further perspective.


Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen

Something Blue by Emily Giffen

One does not have to read both books and it does not matter which one is read first.

Lovable characters. Chic Lit at its best. Why did it take me so long to read her books?



See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Held my breath. Not your typical Nicholas Sparks book. Suspenseful love. Root for the underdog.


Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Artistic writing. Hopeful. Why do his books not get old?


Still Me by Jojo Moyes

This is the third book in the series. Me Before You was a tear jerker. After You was good but Still Me made me feel whole again. A great follow up to the second one as I was left feeling a bit disappointed.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This was my suggestion for the book club I was in. It is one of Oprah’s 2018 Book Club selection, but also one I kept seeing float across the Instagram account for Book of the Month. It had me at page 5 when one of the main characters references Love Jones, a movie I had on VHS back in the day. It has a soundtrack that I still frequently listen to. It is an emotional and intense read. I longed for it to be longer with more details of the love triangle that it is. Silver Sparrow did an excellent job with this piece of work.

Girl, Wash Your Faceby Rachel Hollis

Full book review here

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Brief book review here.

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Read review here

Sweet Girl and Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis.

Here explains my love for these books.

Every Day by David Levithan

Book review here.

Another Day by David Levithan

My thoughts on the book are found here.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz

Thoughts here on my first Enneagram experience.

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner

See my thoughts here on this gem!

Silence, Broken Silence, Players Bumps and Cocktail Sausages, Silent Night by Natasha Preston

The After Series by Anna Todd

book reviews here

Equality & the Minority

There has been so much banter about equal rights lately. Well, for as long as I can remember, really. It’s amazing how it changes over the years, and it’s even more astonishing to me as I grow older. In the words of Rodney King “can’t we all just get along”? It’s true. It seems so simple. Why? Why can we not get along? God made us different but I have a hard time believing he wanted us to live in a world where there is so much hatred, negativity and disbelief. I don’t know the Bible well, but I know there are words in there that showcase God’s wishes for love, positivity and trust.

I listened to a talk this last week. It was between two men, both caucasian, that said they are at a point where they feel they are the minority and don’t dare say anything in fear of offending someone. Why should it be that way for them? As long as they are being kind to the people around them, what does it matter? With that being said though, why has it been that way for women in the past? Or African-Americans? Or any race or minority for that fact? Are we all not a minority at some point; depending on our location? Yes, it appears that Caucasian men have had it “easy” in years past, where their words mattered most. That their words were the way of the world. Thank goodness that is changing. I know the concept of “we are all created equal” could be up for debate. Some people are born with certain talents, some are born into certain family structures that cause life to be easier in some ways, some people work harder to move up in the world. So it easy to understand that maybe “we are not born equal”. I have to believe that God wants us all to be loved, respected and supported equally in a positive light.

I grew up with a family that supported me, I surround myself with strong women who work hard to make a positive difference in our world, I get to mold my children to be strong thinkers who help lift their friends up and showcase their passions.

I pray that we continue to move to equality. I pray that we love one another for our differences. I pray that we support each other’s talents. I pray that we acknowledge other’s weaknesses and encourage change for the better.

Monday Meals: Meal Planning

Meal Planning, I swear, is an art. An art I feel like I enjoy at times, and one that I despise at other times. I decided to go through the history of Coffee Pines & Designs thus far to see what Monday Meals recipes were posted. I hoped this would give me a good idea what to make in the few weeks ahead. I listed out the recipes for my own reference and thought it might be helpful for you, as a reader, to have them listed out as well. Grab a recipe or two and add it to this week’s plan for your family to enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Meatloaf Meatballs

Chicken Curry

Cheese Tortellini Bake

Taco Salad

Caribbean Burgers

Curry Chicken Salad

Cheesy Veggie Quiche


Tortellini Minestrone

Italian Chopped Salad

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Kale Strawberry and Poppyseed Dressing Salad

Cheez It Pork Chops

Couscous Salad

Thai Style Burgers

Cheesy Stuffed Burgers

Cheeseburger Joes

Chicken Tikka Masala

Cheeseburger Pot Pie

French Toast

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Mango Avocado Salad

Chinese Hotdish

Upside Down Pizza Casserole

Black Bean Soup

Asian Buffalo Sauce

Coconut Shrimp

Slow Cooker Thai Stew

Shepherds Pie

Sweet Maui Taco