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!

Of Mess and Moxie- an introduction

I found a study guide online to follow along with as I read Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker:

In what ways are you able to find Moxie in the midst of a Mess?

Moxie means to be full of energy or determination. I feel like every day I have to dig deep to find a little Moxie to get me through the days. I don’t mean that every day is a mess as the question proposes, but each day it takes energy to fuel the list of to-dos that need to be done. Believe me, there are plenty of messes in my life of being a wife, mother and manager, not to mention the other roles I play in life. What life doesn’t have messes though, right? I find time to do things that bring me joy: watch my kids grow, read empowering books, workout, write, create etc. All of these things bring me energy. They give me the purpose to live life each day.

How are you different from one year ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

A year ago I was doubting myself, my feelings, my desires and my ways of living. I was right on the verge of taking the steps to believe in myself again (thank you counseling, self help books and tuning into the things that have always made me feel full). Today I am much more sure of who I am. I know that I am a kind hearted person who gives her all to everything and everyone around her. I am not perfect, I make mistakes and I am ok with that. I am not any different than the kid I used to be, the young adult I merged into and the human being I was right before I got married and had kids. Of course, I am different, but the core of me is the same.

5 years ago I was a new mother. I had Stella who was 1.5 and was expecting Emery within a couple of months. I loved having really little kiddos around. I loved the snuggles and the coos of babies. Even though they are full of tattles and sass now, I thoroughly enjoy this stage much more. 5 years ago I was a full on mother. Exhausted from having Stella and giving Emery a home to grown in, I had lost a whole lot of “me”. I was happy to be a wife, blessed to have the girls, but didn’t have time to find myself. I didn’t have time to be Kirsten. I felt truly lost. Most moms will understand this. Dads try, but will never fully understand.

10 years ago I was 26. I was single, just meeting my husband to be. I worked in the world of Interior Design, one of my creative passions. I worked out at a phenomenal gym each day. I lived in the same town as my parents and some of my best friends. Life was pretty comfortable and carefree. I could read when I wanted to, create art if I desired and be lazy if I wished. There are days that I long to be that 26 year old again. If just for a day or two every now and again.

As a parent what do I take seriously? What do I take less seriously?

This is a hard question. Being a parent is the hardest job/role I have ever had. Some days I succeed and some days I darn near fail- or at least feel like I do. The girls are still alive, healthy and happy (most of the time) so I must be doing something right as a mom. I want my kids to be kind. That is by far my biggest fear. The first thing I ask at conferences is are they nice to other kids? Do they have good manners? Are they respectable? I would say I also ensure that they are hardworking. I want to make sure they are challenged and understand things are not just handed to them. They will not always be the best, things will not always come easy for them. They have heard the phrase “life is not always fair” to the point where Emmy recites it to her sister often *laughing*

What am I more relaxed on? Goodness, I don’t even know. They know relaxed is not a word often found in my vocabulary. We are a clean family, messes and clutter make me anxious, but I also don’t mind if they have projects out in certain areas of the house because I know they are being creative. If they are being imaginative I am less apt to hound them to clean up their mess. I am less serious about putting laundry away- maybe because I don’t like laundry. I would rather clean a toilet *laughing* By nature, I am a pretty serious person. I wish I could be less serious at parenting,

Write Goals Down = Success

Happy New Year!

We are already five days in! The kids are napping as it was hard to get back to school and not break down by Friday night! The sun is shining and I am basking in it along with the quietness that filters through our home. Shhh, Kirsten! Don’t say anymore because when you do you know you will hear them pound their little feet up the stairs.

I briefly mentioned in my last post, Reflections On 2018, my goals for this year. I already have a list of books to start the year off right, I have one book in particular, 7, that will challenge me for the first 7 months of the year, and I have a few other goals in mind as well.

Being a strong goal setter has always been a desire of mine, but not a strength. Many experts talk about how writing goals down or having image boards help keep goals in front of us and assist with accountability. This is my year for having my goals front and center!

I created a bulletin board with some of my goals listed out for the first 6 months. Some months are limited on the details as I want to fill them in as I get closer to the month. There are 4 common themes that appear. They are as follows:

Books: I will read 2 books a month, at least. One will focus on making me a better person and one will be my bookclub book.

Art: I will draw or paint at least 4 pages in my sketchbook each month.

Move: I will exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes.

7 Challenge: I will read a particular chapter in Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7, and challenge myself for the month on that topic. I may not be as extreme as she was, but nonetheless she will challenge me to get rid of excess things.

Along with my bulletin board, I will continue to use my daily planner. I have, for the most part, been good at keeping my planner with me each day since August. I document what I need to do for the day, I list out my morning rituals (reading daily devotions, meditating and doing the Tibetan Rites), document my water intake and my workouts. The thought of having this planner with me, again has always been a nice thought, but the follow through was lacking. It takes a long time to create a habit, 5 months in, I can say it is a success and one I am proud of. It brings me joy to see the documentation and the consistency.

How is January going so far? I am 1/4 of the way through my bookclub book, Three Wishes. I have read the first 6 chapters in Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker (plan on seeing a post soon). I successfully completed 5 days of working out to Cassey Ho’s PIIT28 program, this was my workout of choice for December and look forward continuing with it for this month.

Cheers to you and a new year! Let’s reach those goals together!

Reflection on 2018

For the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting on 2018. I completed Gretchen Ruben’s The Happiness Project. It was 12 months of focusing on topics like Boosting Energy, Relationships with Family and Friends, Money, Passions, Attitude and Mindfulness. I have tried to work on Mindfulness over the years. Not until this project though, did I realize that I do pay attention to a lot of day to day details, and then there are some, that I clearly need to work on. Some days were easier than others when I dedicated myself to this book and its project for the past year. I am proud to say though, that I did finish it.

Here are the things I took away from this project:

1. I need to move. Exercise has always been necessary for my my physical and mental health. I need it. I find times when I am not so dedicated to making it a priority and I feel it. As I get older, I find that I need to make it a priority. It might not be the hour + that I used to be able to spend on this passion, but I have to be ok with the 30 minutes I can give to it 5 days a week. It is no longer just a passion, it is something that I emotionally need.

2. Relationships with people that accept and love me for who I truly am is vital to my happiness. I am blessed to have many of these people in my life. I have to work on how to “work with those” that have a presence in my life that maybe do not accept me and support me. This is a goal for 2019.

3. Find comfort in trying to be less Type A. I have the pleasure of being in a leadership course at work that has been focusing on Myers Briggs. I am an Introvert, Intuitive, Feelings and Judgmental type of person. That last one, judgemental, still makes me cringe when I write it. Thankfully, it means that I am a very structured person who needs to stick to a schedule and not that I am a judgemental person. I am totally thrown off my rocker if I am taken off of my schedule, which is like 95% of my time being a wife/mother/manager of staff in a large department. Taking this test, along with the Enneagram, has taught me, and continues to challenge me to work on my weaknesses, highlight my strengths and be more accepting of others.

4. Do things that make me happy. If I want to read self-empowering books (call them what you want- self help, self awareness) I will. Until the past couple of years, I have not found them to be so helpful, but find a strong pul to them these days. If I want to ready sappy romance novels, ok! If I want to paint or draw or create fictitious interior spaces, go for it. I have read from multiple authors- Gretchen Rubin, Rachel Hollis, Jessica N. Turner- that so much of what makes us happy as adults are things that made us happy as kids. No wonder, art, design, reading, writing and etc. makes me happy. Again, some of these things are bigger goals for 2019!

5. I believe in being a good person. I believe in higher powers and the positive energy that drives us to be loving and accepting of those around us. My Ennegram number is 2- I am a helper, my Myers Briggs personality type is INFJ- an advocate (think Nelson Mandela, MLK, Mother Teresa, ok, I totally am not them, but they fall into this type). I want to take this last point and heighten my strengths and being good to those around me.

Tomorrow is December 31, 2018. The last day of the year. I look forward to seeing where 2019 brings me. I have a list of 6 self empowering books I have laid out to read. A couple of them I started and didn’t finish. They keep popping up on my radar, so I WILL read them *wink*.

1.Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

2.Uninvited, Lysa Terkeurst

3.Wild and Free, Connolly and Morgan

4.Fringe Hours, Jessica N. Tuner

5.For the Love, Jen Hatmaker

6.Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker

I get to attend a conference with Rachel Hollis in January. I have art and design goals laid out for each month. I am going to attempt a version of Jen Hatmaker’s 7 starting in January. I have a feeling I am going to learn a lot more about myself and those around me.

Cheers to 2018, not an easy year, but a rewarding one. Bring on 2019!

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

The Brightest Stars by Anna Todd

Nothing More and Nothing Less by Anna Todd

With the Band by Natasha Preston

Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas

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.