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!

Still in the Game: Book Review

Once in awhile I have to travel for work. Two weeks ago I was listening to an interview with Devon Still on Rachel Hollis’ Rise podcast. “We” watch a lot of football on TV but usually there is a book in my hand and the game is just background noise to me. I could hardly tell you who the main players are on our very own MN Vikings, so I can say I had no idea who Devon Still was.

As Rachel interviewed Devon I quickly wished the main topic discussed was football rather than the topic of choice. His daughter had been diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 4. Can you imagine? I sure can not. It makes me sick to my stomach, my head wants to spin and I literally feel like my breath is taken away.

Why did this interview pull me towards listening to his whole story in his book Still in the Game? That I can not tell you. I downloaded the book for my drive home and then could not stop listening to his voice share the miraculous recovery little Leah had. Their faith in God and drive to fight brought tears to my eyes and softened my soul as their journey carried on. I started the story with a shortness of breath as I thought of the dreadful news shared to their family and when the cancer disappeared I saw hope again. Hope that if this ever happened to me and one of my girls, I would fight strongly as they did. I would fight Leah Strong.

There are times I feel like I need stories like this to show me how blessed I am and to show me how great God is.

Educated: A Book Review

Educated. What an intense book written by Tara Westover. To know that this incredible human being went from limited school education and a shocking up bringing to this intelligent and powerful woman gives one hope. Hope that they can do anything with the right self determination, resources and people’s support.

Mormon is a word I am familiar with. The way a Mormon lives I am not. Besides the concept that a man may marry more than one wife and that they believe in Jesus, I have not learned much about this way of living. Heck, my own Christian beliefs is something I struggle with daily and am continuously learning about. I have heard brief stories similar to Tara’s upbringing, but that is key. They were brief stories mentioned on the news. I realize that not all Mormon’s are like Tara’s family. With a quick Google search, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s stems off from Mormonism.

Much like Tara starts her book in her Author’s Note, this post is not about Mormonism. Or my lack of knowing what the religion is about. This post about the reaction the book brought to my heart and my mind.

Tara’s relationship with her family is millions of miles from the relationship I have with my family.

Wait. I want to delete that line. But I can’t. That was my first thought. Within seconds I realize that is not the case. In the beginning she loves her family. She deeply loves her parents and siblings. She loves them in the end too, but the relationships change. She loves them as I love my family. The main difference is that I still respect my family being an adult where I question her respect for some of them. Her parents guided her the way they knew how just as mine did. They were hard working individuals like mine. They taught her to be respectful as mine did. What they did not do was keep her safe like mine did. They did not trust her words like mine did and do.

The relationship Tara had with her mom was the most difficult for me. I imagine it was the hardest for her too. It was as if Tara’s mom was trying to make everyone happy. I think as a mom this is a natural tendency. She would agree with all parties to keep the peace. As Tara got older this caused confusion for her. It caused her to question the support she had from her mom when her mom said one thing to her and then differed her opinion on the subject when she commented another way in front of her husband. As a daughter one looks up to guidance from her mom. She had a strong pull to do so, but as Tara got older she had realizations that caused her to doubt her mom. Her mom was dedicated to her husband, as many Christians are, and did not stray from backing up her husband on all accounts. All accounts meaning the ones that did not keep Tara’s well being and safety in check. Maybe, some would read this and disagree. Tara’s father, and mother maybe, believed that they were following God’s plan.

The education Tara received is from one extreme to the other. The schooling she received is not taken for granted. That is clear in her memoir. It is well deserved. The elbow grease it took for her to pass the ACT and to pass her initial college classes is unfathomable. The education she received on life gave her perspective that most others would never be able to see. They may try to study it, they may try to understand it, they may try to dissect it, but she lived it. The challenges she went through taught her love, hard work, empathy, perspective, fear, intuition, self survival and the list could go on.

How does one trust in relationships after living a life like Tara’s? God teaches us to forgive. Her parents want her to forgive her brother Shawn. I am uncertain I could do it with the games and torture he put her through. Disease or not, he did not get the help he needed. My heart hurts for Tara. She continuously went home in search of her family’s support. At times she would get doses of it, but in the end she risked her life to come home. That is unfair and not the way God intends for us to live. I like to think that if Shawn received the help he needed that there could have been a possibility of her having the life she wanted and deserved as well as the love from her family. A situation full of manipulation.

For some reason this book makes me want to research this culture, but I am most certain it would make me angry. I can put myself in many people’s shoes and can understand a lot. This? Not so much. I understand 100% why this book has made multiple Best of Lists.

May Goals 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post. That doesn’t mean I have not been reflecting though! What has come always from the last month? Positive change is not easy. I have known this and have had it in the back of my mind for the last few years but goodness has it been at the forefront lately. Whether it is personal or business, the mind or the soul, or the relationships we have with those that we live near and dear to everyday.

I had the opportunity to be in leadership class for the past nine months through Sanford. It was titled Leading for Results. Most of us thought it would be how to direct staff and projects to get better results. The class was aimed at personal development. Making us stronger individuals would make us better leaders. Better leaders make our teams better. The class fit perfectly with what I was trying to do. It taught me new things. It confirmed what I had been reading. Some of the teachings I had already implemented. Some got moved up on my list of priorities. Some were ideas I had not heard of and were added to my list. The great thing about this class was I could apply these teachings to my personal life.

I took a break from my monthly goals. It was much needed. I was overwhelmed by them which tells me I need to evaluate them. I want to do too much. I have always been that way. Good things take time!

May did bring a lot of accomplishments:

◦ Work trip to San Diego and attended a Ritz Carlton workshop

◦ Read 4 Nora Roberts books

◦ Joined Weight Watchers and am seeing slow progress (strong and fit is what I am aiming for- moderation)

◦ Presented a presentation for Leading for Results

◦ I am becoming a better version of the wife I aim to be

◦ Working out 5-7 days a week

◦ Trying new recipes

2019 Book List

Here I will list the books that I read in 2019. Most of them I will provide a link to my book review. Beware, if you read the review, it may give away what happens in the book. Read with caution *smile*

Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty

Coffee Pines & Designs Book Review Here

Still Alice, Lisa Genova

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker

Coffee Pines & Designs has many posts referencing this book.

Friendly Deceit, L.V. Hope

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

The Fringe Hours, Jessica N. Turner

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Coffee Pines & Designs book reviews:

Big Magic and Encouragement

Big Magic and Enchantment

Big Magic and Permission

Big Magic and Persistence

Big Magic and Trust

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Review here

The House Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton

Review here

The Bridal Quartet by Nora Roberts

Review here

The Bridal Quartet

A teacher. A marine biologist (ok, swim with the whales). That’s what I wanted to be as a child.

A teacher. An interior designer. A social worker. A wedding planner. An interior designer. A business major (hey, it was general enough). A gerontologist. An interior designer. That’s what I wanted to be in college. That is why it took me 7 years to finish. A girl can change her mind, right?

An interior designer eventually won, thank heavens, it took me long enough. However, Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner, made me desire to be a wedding planner. I even looked into education on how to become one and had info snail mailed to the first apartment I lived in (shout out to Ms. Erin). A few years later my friend Melissa shared The Bridal Quartet books with me. My first thought was “Nora Roberts? Really? Those are books my mom reads. Like Danielle Steel, right?” This was before I realized my mom and I have the same taste in fictional books, and before I realized she had not picked up a Danielle Steel book in a long time. I couldn’t put the books down. Mac, Emma, Laurel and Parker become a huge part of my life for a couple of weeks. The dream of becoming a Wedding Planner surfaced again. Amanda could be the photographer. Ashley could do hair and makeup. I could do the wedding planning piece and we could find others to add to our own Vows business. One problem, we all lived in different cities. Dream quickly shattered.

My sister picked these books up from a used online bookstore. I had to read them again. I loved them this time around just as I had the last time. If she wants them back I think I will look for my own copies to add to my bookshelf. Just as a wedding should be, this series is delightful and lovely.

I joined Weight Watchers

(Almost) every morning as I sit down with my Start Journal (thanks Rachel Hollis) I list out my 10 goals.

One of them is to be 10 lbs lighter.

One of them is to be a healthy eater.

For as long as I can remember I could eat what I wanted to and stay the weight I wanted to. I was highly active in dance through my freshman year of college. I then sought out running and bought memberships to gyms. I love to workout. Til this day I would call it a passion. However. More often than before I fall out of sync. More often than before it’s not a high intensity workout. I try though. I keep trying. That is important.

The scale is not budging. Monday morning as I couldn’t sleep I pondered what to do. What do I have to do to make the scale budge? I googled options and I joined Weight Watchers.

Once I returned home from a work trip I was all in. I have to be. Why am I doing this? Why am I not accepting the scale’s numbers? I know I can be healthier. I know I can be stronger. I know this will help me feel emotionally better. I know this will set an example. I am needing accountability. I am needing a system. Here is to accomplishing a goal.

April 2019 Goals

Tomorrow is May Day, May 1st. We are almost half way through the year already! The post I wrote last would give an in-cling on how my goals went for April. Best to reflect nonetheless! Life ebbs and it flows.


Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst was a book that sat on my shelf for well over a year. It amazes me when that happens. The old saying is “don’t just a book by it’s cover”. Well, I do when it comes to books. Good book design speaks my love language. At the end of March this girl needed a fictional book bad, but Uninvited was such a natural book to pick up. It had an energy force that drew me to pick it up rather than an “easy” read. Consider this my book review. The following are my top take always:

1. “Not in my presence will you talk about yourself in this way” (page 6). Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a loved one. Be gentle with the words you speak to yourself.

2. “When a man is physically present but emotionally absent, a girl’s heart can feel quite hollow and helpless” (page 14). Life between men and women is not easy. There are ups and there are downs. I have seen this in my past. I have seen this affect my friends. Prayers that love languages are strongly spoken between you and your significant other.

3. It is not easy to see God’s good design in the world with all of the “decay and corruption” (page 20). Difficult things surround us daily. It is hard for me to believe in Him some days, but too many miraculous things have been witnessed for me to not believe in a higher power.

4. “Live loved” (page 3). One of my favorite quotes and on page 46 she reminds us that it is a choice to live that way. A choice we get to make each day.

5. “I crave for life to make sense. I cringe when it doesn’t” (page 52). Thankful I am not the only one that struggles with this. Shout out to the Type A people out there. Hello to the INFJ personalities!

6. “Humility can’t be bought at a bargain price. It’s the long working of grace upon grace within the hurts of our hearts” (page 85). A co-worker reminded me long ago that positive changes take time. I think of this often. There are no quick fixes out there. Make a plan, stick with it, and if you fall off of the bike, get back on!

7. “Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present-day infections” (page 95). An analogy without a lot of truth.

8. “It’s good to ask the ‘what’ questions but less helpful to ask the ‘why’ questions” (page 135).

9. “Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours” (page 142).

10. “Messy realities in the midst of the miracles” (page 161).


The sketchbook did not even get cracked open this month. However, The House that Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton sent inspiration to me. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to binge in Pinterest land after I ready this book. The coffee book was impressive. Diane Keaton built her home after images she found on Pinterest. I literally wanted to dive into the book and live in the spaces she “pinned”

Part of a weekend was spent going through all of my Elle Decor, Architectures Digest, Dwell and House Beautiful magazines. I followed Diane’s footsteps and ripped out designs that spoke to me. Bookshelves, swinging interior chairs, black painted walls, colors upon colors of paint, black and white spaces. I taped them into an all black sketchbook. Essentially, my own The House that Pinterest Built book was created. It was a Marie Kondo type of thing to do. I kept what I needed to keep and threw away stacks of magazines. Clear the clutter.


The temperatures rose and running outside was a new high. Temperatures dwindled and the high went away. Spring, please come back. I have lost the desire to workout indoors. I need the sunlight. I need the warm weather. I have become a hibernating bear after fighting it all winter long.

7 Challenge

I avoided the challenge this month like someone trying to avoid cake on their first day of dieting. Jen Hatmaker and her family quit Media for a month. I know I could. It would be hard. She quit it at a magnitude that I can’t even try. She quit TV, Music, Social Media. I could go without TV. I could go without Social Media but not Music. I often think of forgoing Facebook. It is not a social platform I check out each day. When I do though, I realize I miss out on seeing friend’s life happenings. It is a part of our world. It can consume us, like so many things in life. For now, I will stay with Facebook. I will stay with Instagram. It is a way of connecting. It is a way of finding inspiration. I will say though, that reading Uninvited helped me pick prayer/medication each morning over checking Instagram. It is helping me pick reflection at the end of the day over social media. It is a work in progress. Life is a work in progress.

Anxious in April

Today is April 27th. Like other months, where has April gone? There were goals laid out, by myself, in January. The past 3 months I have met the goals, some barely, but they were met. This month? Not so much. As I sit here and reflect I know the month is not over. I know there are a few days left ahead, but what I would need to cram into those few days makes my stomach do summersaults. Those summersaults started this morning at 5:23 AM. It is Saturday people! Deep breaths came. Sleep did not. I tried. It still did not happen. Up I went. Paper and pen in had to lay out what I could accomplish today. The plan needed to incorporate things that would settle the stomach, the soul and the mind.

Sometimes goals can not be made. Sometimes, many times, my to do list is far too long to meet in the deadline created in my head. Deep breaths again. Do you notice a trend? What would make me feel well?

Rearrange the living room.

Tidy up the house.

Clean up my office at work.

Do something special with the kids as another work trip soon approaches.

The living room was rearranged, and then again, and then moved back to the way it was. Think Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore in “Because I Said So” when they try too rearrange Mandy’s living room. That is a “problem” with being an interior designer. Once the room is laid out perfectly, there is no sense in rearranging it. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a couple of new pieces, but the layout makes perfect sense. Mission accomplished!

Tidy up the house. It is a constant work in progress. The kids were not having it this morning and this momma was not in the mood to fight them. We will try again tomorrow.

A quick trip to Target and off to my office we went. They were so patient and kind as they watched a movie and colored while I tackled the never ending piles on my desk and floor. I got a few odd looks last week as people passed by my office and I was on the floor working. There were too many piles on my desk for me to properly work. *sigh* I think I can finally go in on Monday and feel 50% more refreshed. Another win!

Tonight we will attend a dance showcase. The girls and I are super pumped to enjoy this evening with some friends. The last few weeks have been stressful for the three of us. At any given time one child is feeling out of sorts. Change of seasons? Growing pains? Internal stresses? Finding themselves? As a mom I try to read their emotions, I try to calm them, and I try to give them room to manage through these thing on their own. It can be difficult. I read a quote recently, and please forgive me as I can not give proper credit to who wrote it, but it talked about how being worse than a helicopter parent is a lawn mower parent. A parent who mows a path for their kids. I would guess it was either Brene Brown, Jen Hatmaker or Lisa TerKeurst as those are the authors of the latest 3 books I have indulged in. The goal for this momma is for them to work through some of these things on their own. Give them space.

As they rest, yes, my kids still take the occasional nap, I will peel myself away from this desk and pick away at a few other things. One thing at a time. The to do list can always be re-written!

March 2019 Goals

Where did March go? Things felt so well managed the first part of the month and then wham, it was over! The girls are outside running around in the rain and snow (rain from the sky, snow all over the yard yet). Oh, how I long for warmer temperatures. Hello, we live in Minnesota, so one should not be expecting warm temperatures and flowers blooming yet. So Minnesotan of me to discuss the weather *sigh*

How about those goals?


Big Magic took me (mostly) by surprise. There was one or two small sections where I wanted to throw the book out of boredom, but the rest of it spoke to my heart 100%. It made me laugh, smile and cry.

Big Magic and Encouragement

Big Magic and Enchantment

Big Magic and Permission

Big Magic and Persistence

Big Magic and Trust

The goal was to read one additional book. Rachel Hollis’ 2nd book, Girl, Stop Apologizing came out and showed up in my mailbox. I wanted to pick it up and start reading right away, but the fact that I had not finished reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown was hanging over my head. *guilt, go away* I gently put Mrs. Hollis back, and picked up Mrs. Brown. One of the best personal development books I have yet to read. It was heavier compared to some, but in a heartwarming way. A way that wanted me to take it slow. The reflection process is a gentle one too. Her words are causing me to evaluate myself as a leader at work and in a personal sense with my family.

I tell you though, this girl needs a fictional book, like ASAP, like stat.


Page 4 of 4 this month was forced and unpleasantly weak. The beginning of the month presented 3 drawings that were fun and relaxed. My Daemon of Creativity (read Big Magic) was fun to sketch out and dream about. I continue to see her floating around my brain when I need a pick me up.


Well, I did it! I moved 5 days out of each week. The documentation provides me with warm fuzzies. Like a completed checklist, seeing the fact that I moved my body 5 days each week beyond running around my home or work like a chicken with it’s head cut off is a healthy accomplishment. A work trip to NYC provided me with opportunities to workout in the hotel gym. There is something about working out in a gym that brings on a sense of competitiveness. Not against the others in the gym, which was pretty scarce, but against the machine. The days were jam packed with work related business so it was the machine and me for 30 minutes. HIIT running and ramped up speeds that I can not push myself to do on the open dirt roads in Minnesota.

7 Challenge

No comparing here. Jen Hatmaker disposed of A LOT of things during her month titled Possessions. Me, not so much, a box (largish, kind of, maybe?) sits on my floor with items to be donated. Could I find more? Probably. Listen, during the month February we disposed many garbage bags filled with clothes and toys. If I took any more of my kids’ toys they would still have plenty, but, I would be called out on the fact that I “cleaned house”. We have stuff, do not get me wrong, we could get rid of things that hold little value to our hearts and souls, but we do not have an extreme abundance of things. I think Marie Kondo will have to visit my house during a less chaotic month. One of the biggest take always I read in 7 was a quote Jen Hatmaker included on page 86 “Obedience isn’t a lack of fear. It’s just doing it scared”.

I pray that April Showers bring us some Flowers. Happy April everyone!

Big Magic and Trust

Big Magic: Trust: Stubborn Gladness

Is it possible to quote a whole section? If I could, it would be Stubborn Gladness. I will quote the following from page 218:

I have chosen to believe that a desire to be creative was encoded into my DNA for reasons I will never know, and that creativity will not go away from me unless I forcibly kick it away, or poison it dead. Every molecule of my being has always pointed me toward this line of work.

It is like Elizabeth took the words right out of my mouth…well…she said it much better. I could fight creativity, I could choose to not make time for it, but then I would become the unsettled person I was a couple of years ago. I welcome the challenges that creativity brings to my mind, my soul and my heart. I trust it in it.