Every Day: book review

I may be 36, but I still like a YA novel. Every Day by David Levitham was an interesting take on a 16 year old trapped in other 16 year olds bodies. How sad that he falls in love with a girl yet is not “allowed” to follow his heart and truly be with her. I look forward to reading the sequel, Another Day.

Follow the list of books I have read thus far in 2018, click here.

Friday Favorites: Dark Walls

Grabbed the Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home from the Bemidji Library. I am enjoying some interior design inspiration over a cup of coffee on this sunny morning. Makes me want to change up our home. It’s hard to think we have been in our home already six years. We have a few rooms to update for the first time before we redo some rooms. It doesn’t hurt to dream though!

There is something stunning and inviting about a room with dark walls. I have yet to try this in a space of my own but will some day. I love how it contrasts with the bright white trim in this Domino book. The neon pieces of furniture are fun pops of color. A person has to really love these bright colors to put the money into sofa and chairs of this magnitude, but how beautiful is this room! A person may not be able to find chairs and sofa like this in stores but they can be custom made.

Sweet Girl & Smart Girl Review

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. I get so sad when I finish reading some books. I long for more story and more detail. I am not ready for the characters to leave my world. These feelings are heightened after I read a series of books with the same characters. I finished Rachel Hollis’ second and third books of her series, Sweet Girl and Smart Girl. Just as I did with Party Girl, I was rooting for the main characters, Max and Miko (love the name by the way, I think I had a Barbie back in the day with that name). I found a piece of myself in each of them. Each character was a strong person dedicated to her dream and making it come true. That alone was enough inspiration for me to keep reading. Bring Landon, from Party Girl, back into the mix, I adore the friendship and truth they bring to each other’s lives. I am blessed to have friendships like this and couldn’t help thinking of my friends throughout the books. Factor in their love stories and you have strong chic lit books. I liked how Landon’s story continued throughout Sweet Girl and Smart Girl. I didn’t feel like I was left hanging so much with her and Max. Now Rachel Hollis, perhaps a fourth book is needed? The epilogue was not enough. “Girl” as Rachel (or Landon) would say, I need more!

Other series of books that I have enjoyed:

Nora Roberts:

Chesapeake Bay Saga

In The Garden Trilogy

The Bride Quartet

Inn Boonsboro Trilogy

Susan Wiggs:

Lakeshore Chronicles

Happiness Project: May Review

Be serious about play and leisure. That was my challenge for May. I was supposed to find more fun, take time to be silly, go off the path and start a collection. Oh goodness, most people would think this would be an easy month, but without looking ahead to the months to come, this may be the hardest. I like to think that I am fun to be around, but me being silly just doesn’t happen. I wish it was, I am in awe of people that are silly, like my sister, but it is a difficult task for me. Yes a task. I do have to take this time to pat myself on my back. We did have some unexpected and atypical hot temperatures for Bemidji for the month of May. We spent a day at a friend’s lake home. The girls had no problem jumping in the lake. A month prior it was pure ice, so you can maybe understand my reluctance to jump in after them. After an hour, I decided, what the heck, it is 90 degrees out, be the fun mom. Guess who had a lot of fun! Yep, that was me.

For the month I did try to focus on my free time and finding things to do that made me happy. For an example, T put up a fence last fall for a garden we wanted to make. It ended up bigger than we anticipated. I explained to him that it was added stress on me to have a garden that big. We scaled down the amount of things that were going to be planted. He brought in Stella’s help to plant the seeds and explained she was going to help water them each day. I love the idea of being organic and having our own garden, but the time I have available outside of family time and work is limited. I want to be able to work out, work on my blog, read books and just plain relax in the warm temperatures and sunshine. I made a mindful effort to not take on more than I can realistically and positively accomplish. I don’t like to be a failure. If I can’t do something well and up to my high standards, I don’t want to do it. It is added stress.

I am sure when Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, said to go off of the beaten path she didn’t mean to stop doing something I love. She intended for me to seek something out that was out of my norm. I thought of something that I could try at the beginning of the month but couldn’t think of something new I was desiring. Before I knew it, the month was over *oops* I can share that I did end up not working out as much as I had the previous couple of months. Instead of my 6 day work outs/week I was like 3-4. Not bad, but I was feeling pretty good about the 6 day results. I also noticed that my anxiety/stress levels raised this month. Perhaps, the workouts were helping. Back to my dedicated workouts for June.

Starting a collection caught my attention, but along with starting a collection made me instantly think of clutter. Now, as I write this reflection, I think I could have thought of things that didn’t require clutter. I collect books and cookbooks. Those collections make me happy. I have always wanted to start a dream/motivation/inspiration board. That could have been my collection. It is never too late to start *smile*

Interested in finding out more about my Happiness Journey? Check out previous posts here:





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

Every Day by David Levithan

Book review here.

Party Girl: Book Review

This girl has been fighting off a cold or allergies for the past week or two. Friday it was apparent I needed some R&R this weekend to move past it. I have been a bit MIA from my love of reading lately and needed a chick lit book to get me back in the groove. I finally picked up this gem of a book and devoured it in two days.

See, a few months ago I was roaming through the world of Instagram and happened upon Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Wash your Face. I had never heard of this writer before. I ordered the book on a whim, read it in no time and loved her from the start (see blog post for why). I loved how she talked about the trials of writing the book and getting it published. Not that I wish trials on anyone, but it shows that she is human and that things take work and dedication.

This morning I used my Memorial Day Barnes and Noble added discount to purchase the two books that follow Party Girl. I can’t wait to dig deeper into the characters she has brought to life.

As for Party Girl…it is exactly what I expected after reading the description in Girl, Wash your Face. I have to admit though, I kept seeing Landon Brinkley as Rachel Hollis, not a long blonde haired character. I could hear Landon speak as Rachel speaks on her podcast, Dais. A voice of genuine friendliness and fun. It was a different take on the high rolling life some live in LA.

Pick up this book if you want to giggle, feel inspired to take a leap of faith and invite some new girlfriends into your world.

Oh, and just one more reason why I love this book. Check out this page. Rachel Hollis, I love how you incorporated Edward and Bella into this book. *smile* I am a dork. The first Twilight movie is still my favorite, bad acting/low budget and all.

Click here to see the books I have read this year.

Monday Meals: Summertime Grilling

‘Tis the season for grilling! Bring on the summer meals. This means a lot of meat on the grill for us. It is hard to believe that I was a vegetarian for a year. I adopted this way of eating after I saw the documentary Food Inc. If I had not married a man from Minnesota who has hunting as one of his hobbies, I would probably still live with those eating habits. He probably married me as I “gave” up this diet after a year. It was a difficult way of living. I mainly ate this way as I have a very passionate love for animals. T is a wonderful cook and grilling meat is his specialty. Last night we ate pork chops on the grill, grilled potatoes, cooked green beans and a couscous salad. T has a homemade blend of seasons he uses on almost all the meat he cooks. If I was to pick one store bought blend I would suggest 21 Salute from Trader Joe’s. Anything we put this on tastes good.


Slice the potatoes into thin slices

Between two pieces of buttered tin foil place the potatoes, sliced sweet peppers, sliced onions and minced garlic, we also add a few more slices of butter throughout. Sprinkle with 21 Salute.

Fold the tin foil and grill on the grill until fully cooked.

Green Beans:

Steam a few servings of green beans and drain the water from the pot.

Add a couple of tablespoons of each, soy sauce and butter.

Sprinkle with black pepper.

If you have sesame seeds, sprinkle on top before serving.

Couscous Salad with Mint, Raisins and Almonds

1/2 cup cooked couscous

1/2 cup raisins (or Craisens)

1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cucumber, sliced

1/4 cup mint, chopped

1 T sliced almonds

Curry Dressing:

3 T soy sauce

1 T balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 t curry

2 T honey

Mix all ingredients together.

We made two types of burgers tonight. Both come from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks. Read here for my love of everything Gwyneth!

Thai Style Burgers (semi altered) from It’s All Good

1-1.5 lb ground beef

2 t minced garlic

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 small chopped onion (called for 2 shallots)

1 t chili powder

2 t soy sauce

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground pepper

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Cheesy Stuffed Burgers (semi altered) from My Father’s Daughter

1/2 c mixed onion

1 t dried rosemary

1 -1.5 lb ground beef

1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground pepper

1/2 c shredded cheese

Mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and grill

Add some fresh fruit on the side for a nice added sweetness. I love the taste of comfort food in the winter, but goodness, I love the taste of summer freshness!

Magnolia Table Book Review

I have owned the Joanna Gaines cookbook, Magnolia Table, since it came out a few weeks ago. I have ooohhhed and aaaahhhed over it almost daily. I finally tested out one of her breakfast recipes for my in laws this weekend. Emery and Stella said it was a keeper. Easy to make and much more tasty than the Pillsbury kind. The orange frosting was a bit too much for our taste. I sat it aside and drizzled it over some brownies we made later in the day.



1.5 sticks of butter, room temp

3/4 c brown sugar

4 t grated orange zest

1 t ground cinnamon

2- 8 oz cans crescent rolls

1 c chopped walnuts


2 c powder sugar, sifted

Orange zest from 2 oranges

2 t vanilla

1/2 c fresh orange juice


Heat oven to 375

Mix butter, brown sugar, orange zest and cinnamon into a paste.

Roll out dough and pinch the perforations to make 2 single sheets.

Spread butter mixture onto both sheets.

Sprinkle walnuts on butter mixture.

Roll up each sheet, long way.

Cut into 12 rolls total.

Spray bottom of 8 in round cake pan.

Place 12 rolls in cake pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Whisk glaze ingredients until well mixed.

When rolls come out, flip onto plate and let stand 5 minutes.

Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve warm.

The brownies looked a bit funky after my kids cut them apart, but we’re sure tasty. I have learned to make my own with this recipe, but this was an Annie’s Brownie Mix.

True Roots on a Sunday Morning

I got to wake up to the sunrise this morning. This is one of the things that makes me happiest, being able to wake up with the sun. Northern Minnesota days see little sun for so many months out of the year. My alarm goes off at 5:30, or earlier if Emery wakes me up, which is pretty often. Today, Sunday, the sun woke me up at 5:51. A win for me! I got to shower in peace. Stella and I got a few minutes to snuggle even before Emery came stomping up the stairs. Stella and I do not get many minutes of time alone, the look of sadness crept across her face when she heard Miss Em coming upstairs. I gave her an extra squeeze and the lightest smile I could while I kissed her nose. Once the kids and I were ready for church I was blessed with a few moments on the couch, Spiced Latte in hand and the newest cookbook of my collection, True Roots. Thanks Kristin Cavallari for the Spanish Spiced Latte recipe. I made it per your directions yesterday and today I changed it up a bit.

Spiced Latte


Organic Cinnamon Coffee, brewed in my Keurig

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

1/4-1/2 cup almond milk

1 T maple syrup

Brew coffee (I am a wimp, so it is made on a tall setting with my Keurig.

Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Heat milk.

Pour milk into coffee cup.

Whisk in spice mixture.

Stir in maple syrup.

Happiness Project: March Review

I was to focus on aiming higher with “work”. The funny thing is the author set the goal of launching a blog, perfect timing as I had just started Coffee Pines & Designs. She wanted the reader, me, to enjoy the fun of failure, ask for help, work smart and enjoy “now”. Coffee Pines & Designs wasn’t my job, but it was a project I wanted to work on.

I intended for the focus of Coffee Pines & Designs to weigh heavier on the topic of interior design, and I still plan for that, but it has been therapeutic to share my thoughts on self love and personal growth. It has felt like a higher power, or energy was saying “it’s ok to focus on another topic for now”. I think looking over the last month’s posts, it was clearly needed for myself. To journal, if you will, and to have people read it and say “me too” or “thank you, I needed to hear that I am not the only one” was beneficial. There are friends of mine who I have had little contact with since moving to Bemidji that have read my blog and reached out to me. What a great way to re-connect. We may not see each other often, or talk much, but we still have this connection, even with all of our life changes.

The other points I took away from this month’s assignment were the following:

Fake it til you feel it/Act the way I want to feel:

There are days where you just don’t feel like getting out of bed, or feel like you want to be positive. But I always try , some days I failed, some days I succeeded. It is hard to enjoy the fun of failure (as she suggested) in regards to our emotions, but laugh a little, shrug your shoulders and move on. If that doesn’t help, tomorrow is a new day!

Do a little each day:

Pace one self. With the blog, I don’t have to write a post each day. Some days I wanted to write more than one because my mind wouldn’t shut off and the time allowed. It will all flow when it needs to. I began working out with Mom’s Into Fitness, her plan is roughly 30 minute workouts each day. A little each day. Two weeks into it, I have stayed on track and hope to keep it that way. January’s focus of energy is a must for me, each month.

Writing partner/Community:

My friend, Amanda, of Lemon Drops Photography in Fargo, ND has a blog. We have been each other’s sound board for topics and advice. She is my partner. She is part of the community this blog is bringing together for me. A social platform for me to connect with others around the United States wanting to read my thoughts and visa versa. We learn from one another, we inspire one another, we hold each other up.

Make work room inviting:

My work room is hard to keep clean, with it being a work out space, my closet and my design room, but I rearranged it to feel more like I want it to. I have some final touches to work on, but a little here and there will get it done.

Slightly uncomfortable:

I write about thoughts that come deep from my mind and heart. Some of them are uncomfortable for me to share, but I know when I read stories from other bloggers, not always were those stories easy to write and share either. It is what makes us human. It is what makes us grow.

One goal brings another:

As I write one post a lightbulb goes off for another. I am like a pinball in a pinball machine, I go from one side to the next, up and back down again hitting the trigger that sends me to the next corner in a flash. I need to remind myself- slow down, do a little each day. There is no need to rush.

But I am having fun, so rushing is not bad, as long as I am producing something I am proud of- happy about. After all, this is the Happiness Project!