9/5 | Life Lessons from Baby Quin


We welcomed our daughter, Quin Estelle into the world a little over a month ago and It’s taken a while for me to write this post because I’ve been throwing around thoughts in my head about it for a long time. This is the most personal I’ve ever got in a blog post and I’ve gone back and forth on whether to publicly be this transparent. But ultimately I decided that it’s important and that while some people may read it and majorly judge me, some may really need to hear it. So I’ll take the judgement and turn off the comments on this post.

I have a shirt that says “living the dream” on it and the week before Quin was born, my brother-in-law saw me wearing the shirt and asked what “living the dream” meant to me. I was a little caught off guard and fumbled through an answer, but I’ve thought about that question a lot over the last month.

At the time I got pregnant with Quin I was in a dark place. If that question had been asked to me then I would have said something like “there isn’t room in our life for me to dream”. If you’ve read my first blog post Jumping In then you know that my husband and I own a coffee shop, which was his dream for a long time. And while helping him pursue his dream, I rediscovered my love of design. What I didn’t tell you though is that I had been pretty envious of him being able to pursue his dream and how little it felt I was able to pursue mine with being a stay-at-home mom and being limited on money to work on design projects in our home. I was struggling with my purpose and frustrated as a mom. I often felt that Ben was to blame for my unhappiness as a mom and as a designer because we were spending so much energy and money on the coffee shop. I struggled with wanting to be with my kids, but also wanting some space to do something else in addition to momming and doing behind the scenes work for our business. 

The month before we got pregnant with Quin we had a conversation in which we decided we were way in over our heads with owning a business and having two little ones, so we wanted to wait about another year before getting pregnant again...and then, surprise-baby number three was on the way! At first I did a lot of crying. It felt like if there had been any chance of me having the freedom to pursue my own dreams, it was now long gone as I was about to start back at square one with a newborn. 

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant I decided to join a recovery group for codependency. The funny thing is I had no idea what codependency even was until a friend who invited me to the group roughly defined it for me. All I knew was that the combination of seasonal depression and frustration with my life had come to a T and I was tired of being mad and sad all the time. My life felt out of control and as I sat on my couch crying and explaining it to a friend one day she brought up an idea that I had never thought of before….what if all the chaos and unhappiness that felt like it was just happening to me would require change from me rather than my husband and kids? I decided to join the codependency group because I learned that codependents often struggle with basing their happiness on other people’s actions. They try to control situations and people and when they can’t, they kinda lose their mind. They play the victim of their own life because it feels easier to blame someone else than actually do the hard work of changing themselves. 

The last 8 months that I worked through my codependency has been absolutely life changing. I won’t go into all the ways it has changed my life through a blog post, but if you want to know more, let's grab a cup of coffee. For now, I will say this. I have never felt so free as a mom or as a person. I’ve learned to worry about the ways I need to grow in my own life rather than letting myself believe that if my husband or kids or friends or family would change that I would be happier. I let go of the guilt that was making me feel I needed to be a certain type of mom or do things a certain way. The reality was that things weren’t working the way they were. So we started changing things. In our marriage, by having a babysitter come part time so I could start pursuing design as an actual job. In the way I viewed God and His involvement in my life. I started to value my own self care because I realized when I’m taking care of myself, I have more energy to take care of those around me. I think just about every area of my life has changed.

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I thought that getting pregnant was going to take away more of my freedom, but I was wrong. Instead it caused me to do some deep soul searching into why life wasn’t working and it has brought more freedom than I ever thought possible. I knew there had to be a better way and being faced with the unexpected pregnancy of my sweet Quin helped me to figure it out. For that, I am forever grateful.

So as I’ve been reflecting this last month on what living the dream means to me, I’ve realized this is it. I’m so in love with my family. It's weird for me to remember my original reaction to getting pregnant because as I look at my family and see my sweet Quin I realize she is such a gift. They all are. In letting go of what I wish was different I’ve learned to see how amazing my husband and kids truly are. They’re incredible and I have so much fun with them. And having the outlet of designing other peoples spaces is kinda unreal. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually get paid to do it. Our life is far from perfect. Our kids throw fits in the grocery store and we miscommunicate in our marriage and sometimes let the night be ruined because neither of us wants to apologize. But we are learning and growing and that’s really all I could ever ask for. I truly feel like I’m living my dream and I’m so incredibly thankful. 

Photo Credit: Suzy Lynn Photography

Photo Credit: Suzy Lynn Photography

1/28 | On Letting Each Other Feel How We Feel


I’m going to let you in on one of my most horrifying experiences as a new mom. Don’t judge me. Picture it with me-I have a three week old baby and I’m venturing out to grocery shop for the first time with my new baby. I packed all my groceries in reusable bags and had the car seat in one arm and my couple bags of groceries on the other arm as I head out to my car. I bet I didn’t get 10 steps into the parking lot when a huge gust of wind hit and my bags BREAK. My groceries then all start to blow away. I look around and the coast is clear, so I quickly set the car seat down and start running around, trying to grab all my items. A few people saw what happened and ran over to help me. Then one of them says “mam! your baby!” I look over, and the wind had literally blown my car seat on its side…..with my son in it! Thankfully, he was buckled in and was completely fine. He was just hanging out with not a care in the world. But I lost it. I scooped him up and just started crying right there in the parking lot.

Later I ran into someone I knew and was still sweaty from what had just happened. They asked how I was doing and I quickly said “good!” even though that was a straight up lie. Anybody else been here before? Do you feel like if you were honest with how your day was actually going things would suddenly get really uncomfortable?

Why is it that we are so uncomfortable with people being honest about hard times? We go around saying "Hi, how are you?" as we interact with people but I think 90% of the time we don't actually want to know how they are, and if god-forbid they dare to tell us they aren't well, things often get awkward really fast...

Why do we feel this NEED for people to be happy? And why do we think it's our responsibility to make that happen by saying things like "at least your situation isn't worse." Listen. That phrase has helped NO ONE EVER.

I find myself only wanting to share the glory of my life with everyone, but not the ugly. Opening up about your feelings is risky. But when you do and the person’s response is to make you feel bad for the way you are feeling? Dude. That stuff sucks.

Since I’ve been trying to make more of a conscious effort to answer authentically when someone asks me how I am, I recently said "yes" when someone asked me is I was stressed over some circumstances in my life. Their response was "well, don't be". I just stood there stunned….really dude? If it was that simple do you think I would be choosing this stress JUST FOR FUN? I just wanted to give some smart ass response, but I held my tongue. Not only was that not helpful at all, but I was finally honest about how I was feeling and then it felt like my feelings were completely disregarded. My natural reaction was to want to shut down and never put my feelings out there again.

I think we need to give each other space to be where we are and feel what we feel in the midst of pain. Showing emotion when hurting is a healthy reaction. If we don't, we will stuff it until eventually we explode. Or we will become lonely and depressed.

A friend recently shared this verse with me and all I could say was "YES".

"Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation? "

This verse comes from Job 6:26 and what's happening here is Job has just suffered a great loss and as he is grieving, his friends are picking his words apart. John Piper refers to this as "words of the wind" meaning that sometimes people need to speak their mind, even if what they are saying is a little over the top. He sums it up by saying "Don't be nit picky about my words when I'm in pain". I love this and feel like it's so important to have people in your life who will allow you to speak your “words of the wind” without correcting you or making you feel guilty about it.

I have a group of friends who have heard ALLLLL my words. We have all seen the ugliest sides of each other. But we are better people for it. After nights of my kids constantly waking or days of tantrums from a three year old, I have said things like "I just want to run away and never come back." They know that I don't mean that, but I'm expressing that right now things feel really hard.  If my friend venting to me makes it so she can walk back in her house and not yell at her kids, that's a win!

Let’s encourage authenticity and vulnerability instead of making people feel like they have to be their best selves all the time. I promise we will walk around feeling lighter and our connections to each other will be deeper.

4/29 | Anniversaries and Unmet Expectations

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Do you ever find yourself struggling to enjoy what you expected to be a really great day, just because things aren't panning out quite how you'd hoped or expected? 

Yesterday was Ben and my six year wedding anniversary. The first year we got married we promised that we would always make a huge deal of our anniversary. Gifts and going on a little trip somewhere were a must in our book.

The first few years we nailed it. The first year was Baltimore, Maryland for three days. The second year was a combo of a couple days spent in a log cabin at Hocking Hills, and then a day exploring downtown Columbus. 

Each year we've had less time and less money to celebrate- and while I knew we weren't going to be able to get away overnight this year, I had high hopes of getting away for the day without the kids. Fast forward to Friday night. Ben had spent the entire day replacing our hot water tank, which had unexpectedly went out the night before. On top of that, plans had fallen through with babysitters and we were now looking at having only a couple hours to celebrate, which meant not even leaving town. No exploring new places, no day away. I was major bumming.  

Sweet Ben was trying to console me and it was like with every positive thing he said, I just became more frustrated because what I really wanted was for him to FIX IT and tell me he'd actually been stashing away money for the last few months and was sweeping me off to a weekend away. But he didn't. 

And then after a little more wallowing...two thoughts suddenly hit me that changed everything:

1. If our anniversary is the celebration of us, then really all we need in this equation is Ben and I. I could go buy fancy gifts, or run away for the weekend, but none of it would make sense for celebrating our anniversary if Ben wasn't there. He and I. Those are the two key ingredients. 

2. I'm getting hung up on thinking that gifts and getaways are the best representation of our love for one another. And I'm feeling a little salty that we will have two kiddos tagging along the whole day. But here's the thing....those beautiful babies of ours are the flesh and blood representation of our love for one another. And that is WAY more profound than any gift or trip. 


So my perspective changed and we celebrated. We did end up getting to go out to dinner thanks to Ben's parents who watched the kids. And that was all we needed. We laughed at silly things that I usually don't stop to laugh at because I'm taking the day too seriously. We took our time eating dinner and talking and it was wonderful. 

I hope that one day we are in a position to be able to celebrate our marriage in the ways we used to. But for now, I'm thankful for the lessons I learned on our sixth anniversary. That's the rich stuff which I never want to forget. 


3/27 | The Value of Friendship


So far, 2018 has been....HEAVY. A few days after the launch of my blog I got a call that my dad had been admitted to the hospital due to an infection which almost cost him his leg. He is home now and healing up well, but it has been an emotional roller coaster. 2018 has brought news of two dear loved ones facing cancer, others facing equally heartbreaking circumstances. 2018 has brought sickness being passed around and around our house for two months straight, which in turn has meant being cooped up with sick littles and feeling like I'm losing my ever loving mind.

When I launched this blog I envisioned it being a place of beauty, inspiration and positivity. The last few months have been so hard and I've thought about posting what I'm learning in the midst of it all, but I've been afraid of being a downer. Afraid that people aren't interested in the real things in my life. That they're only here for the pretty design posts. 

In my first blog post I talked about how in a sense, this feels like the worst time I could be choosing to start a blog because our life feels filled to the brim with parenting and owning a coffee shop. Who knew it could get MORE crazy?

But you wanna know one huge factor that has helped keep me grounded in these last few months? Friends.

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The last year or so has completely reshaped my view of friendship. I used to think of friends as optional...more of like a plus if I had the extra time. For years I had thought that friendship was a sacrifice that I was only willing to make if I had the surplus of time and energy. But I've come to realize more and more that friendship actually gives me energy to face life head on and make it through alive. Here are 3 reasons why I'm so thankful for the friendships in my life. 


1. I can be completely irrational and honest while also feeling 100% safe to do so

There have been many times in the last few months where I have texted my group of friends FUMING over literally the pettiest things in the world. Or yesterday I believe my exact words to a friend were "I'm just walking around the house with Laney in my arms while I cry my eyes out." Sometimes venting goes a loooong way in your emotional stability. I feel so much freedom to share literally the ugliest or saddest parts of my heart with them. I whine, cry a little, and then they help me to move on. They relate, but offer helpful advice that helps me not get stuck in the dark places. 


Photo Credit: Style & Story

Photo Credit: Style & Story



2. They remind me who I am as a mom and apart from being a mom

Sometimes I struggle to look inward. My eyes are set on my dreams and goals and I can view my kids as an inconvenience as my heart longs to pursue those things at a quicker pace. My friends remind me that my kids are a gift and that while my focus is mostly on them in this season, that doesn't mean my dreams are dead. That if I don't enjoy where I'm at right now, I will regret it. My brilliant friend Amy Seiffert has been key in helping me learn this lesson through her book, Chin Up. 

They also help me to see that just because I'm a mom that doesn't mean I can't pursue anything else in this season. It just means I need to take on less. It's good for my kids to see their mom happy and excited. I'm a healthier mom when I'm not obsessing over my kids. My capacity may be smaller these days, but my friends help me to chase my dreams with the little time I do have. 



3. They inspire me

My friends are some of the most beautiful, talented, generous, honest, and genuine people I've ever met. It would be SO easy to look at them and feel incredibly down on myself because they are so incredibe. But we (usually) choose to see each others beauty and talents for what they are and cheer one another on. When this happens, amazing things come of it. We feed off of one another and take chances and DO things. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, I have felt stuck due to all the hard things going on around me. Last night I was able to get away with a friend for a cup of coffee and then met up with more friends at a boutique in town where we tried on all kinds of new spring items. Overalls, dresses, all the things....It was so fun. And while being in the presence of these beautiful souls I was reminded the value of authenticity. 

I was reminded that if having a design blog meant I was only comfortable posting pretty images than I would have to say "pass". Because I'm a real human with hard things going on. I'm fumbling forward in motherhood, marriage, friendship and designing. And if being real about that inspires even one person then it's completely worth putting my heart out there. 



I hope that if you are in the trenches of life, you know that you are not alone. My life does not consist of sipping coffee with my crew all day while enjoying a beautifully decorated home. And that's why I want to post about real life in addition to the pretty stuff. 

I hope that if you have some dear friends, you call them today to let them know how valuable they are to you. I hope if you haven't made time for friendships, that you will. It may feel like you are sacrificing time or energy, but good friends will make you feel like you are gaining way more than you are losing. And if you feel like you have tried to have friends and are in a lonely place, I feel you too. I went through a long season of feeling like there were no people I connected with. Friends will come. I encourage you to take risks in meeting new people or in voicing to current people in your life that you want to know them more deeply.  

Take heart friends. This life can be very ugly at times. But we are each given people in our lives to help us pull back the lens and be reminded of the beauty all around us. Find those people. Find the beauty. 





Picture it with me— 18 year old Cass, full with dreams of heading off to BGSU in the fall to pursue a major in Interior Design. I'm telling someone my plans and their response to me is something along the lines of "Wow, you're going to school for interior design? You must really care about making money."

....Dream crushed.

I used to care A LOT about what people thought about me. In fact, I would say that for a good part of my life I was shaped more by who I thought people wanted me to be, than who I actually was.

So there you have it... one comment and I gave up my dream of interior design.

I love interior design for how it makes me feel. How it inspires other people. How you can walk into a space and feel transported to a whole new world.

Looking back on it, I wish I would have been confident enough to know my own heart, instead of believing what a mere stranger thought they knew about me.

But I wasn't. The week I went to college, I changed my major. Then I bounced around from major to major trying to be anything but what that person thought I was. A counselor, a social worker - none of it was me though, and I dropped out of college.

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Right after that I met my husband, Ben. He was FULL of dreams and passion and drive to achieve those dreams. His dream was to open a coffee shop and since I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I helped him pursue his dreams. We were two kids in our 20's with not a dime to our name, but the hope of creating an amazing shop.

After what felt like an eternity of gaining enough startup capital, we finally started the build out process of our shop, Flatlands Coffee.

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Looking back on it now, I'm not even sure how this happened, but somehow in the process, I became the Flatlands interior designer.

Our space is 2,000 square feet and we basically gutted the whole thing and started new. Everything you see, our hands have been in. It was such an intimidating, sometimes infuriating, but incredible experience to design it. I didn't realize it at the time, but in the process of helping the man I love achieve his dream, I was rediscovering my own dream. As I type that now, my eyes fill with tears because I'm just so thankful.

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Designing Flatlands was the beginning for me, but since then I've dreamt of starting a blog about design. We had our son Oliver the month before opening the shop and then our daughter Laney just 3 months ago. The last few years have felt so insane between having a new business and becoming parents.

I've kept telling myself that now isn't the time for my dreams; that I would wait until we are done having kids and they are all in school. But thankfully, I have a small group of great friends who are also dreamers and who talked me into just going for it. And Ben, who when I sheepishly told him I wanted to start this, enthusiastically responded "Let's do it!"

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So here I am at what feels like the worst time ever to be doing something like this, but at the same time I feel like I NEED to do this. I love my husband and our kids and our business, but sometimes it feels like I give and give and give and there isn't a whole lot of life left in me at the end of the day. I want to stay inspired. Designing is so inspiring to me and seeing others inspired by my work brings me so much joy. I'm going for it.

I will be posting mostly about design, but also about my everyday life. Soon I will make a post going a little more in depth about the design process behind Flatlands, but for now, here is a little glimpse - this is the place that reignited my passion for design.


It's a second home for my family and I love it.