Patriotic Porch

I’ve been having a blast being a part of our social media team for Country North Gifts (Instagram @countrynorthgifts).

We started doing a weekly feature and it’s been so. Much. Fun!

I had to travel really far to do this week’s concept. That jaunt across my driveway and my neighbor’s to their front porch was a killer in this Maine heat. (I’m working really hard to keep a straight face.)

We combined her two rockers with mine and scrounged up little tables for her gorgeous plants. Our decor? Items from our selection at the store – flags, blanket, pillow, etc). I love how just a few accessories can complete a look and create a space you love.

The Cozy Nook Gets a Makeover

With a big ol’ snowstorm headed our way (which has most assuredly arrived) we were busy this weekend preparing to be stuck inside. There was the usual mad dash to the grocery store for food, milk, and “good snacks”. (I have it on good authority that the thing to do up in Northeastern Maine is to stock up on potato chips for a storm.) But that wasn’t all we prepared.

There’s nothing worse than cabin fever, especially when your house is already feeling claustrophobic with clutter.  It didn’t help that I found myself binge watching a show focused on tidying recently.  (Hello, KonMari method)

There was the normal aftermath from watching for four hours.  The kitchen cabinets have been streamlined and everything has it’s own place now.  But that wasn’t enough for me.  Oh no, not in the least.  I was feeling the itch.  The itch to switch that is.

In the end I swapped out the kitchen nook furniture with a large leather club chair from our living room.

Here’s the thing- you’ll probably look at this set up below and think “Oh, that’s adorable and perfect for a small area off of the kitchen. (Well, okay, I would and I have.)  I’d sit there, drink my coffee, visit with friends.  Etc.”


If you’re looking at this and thinking, “where’s the snow?” Well, you’ll be glad to know, this picture?  It’s old.

Only we never did.  Not often enough.

I can tell you what did end up there; 6 days out of the 7.  Clutter.  So much clutter.  On the table.  On the benches.  Even on the floor beside it.  What’s the use of a space looking good if it doesn’t function well?  After all, this is our home; not some feature on Pinterest or a photograph splashed upon the pages of an interior magazine.



On the flip side, the big brown chair while comfy was rarely sat upon in our living room. Would you like to take a guess what usually landed upon it instead? I’ll give you a clue, it starts with the letter C (and no, not our cats although….). Once again, what’s the point of having a good looking set up if it’s only going to end up misused?



For another “make do’ surface solution; I snagged this plant stand for $8 months ago. It just took a few minutes of slipping on my snow boots and sloshing outside to grab it.  Now there’s three spots instead of just one. Score!

The nook is now cozy, cute and ready for this storm.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with a book and a cup of coffee in my little nook. Before I go though, I’ll leave you with this simple girl’s simple tip- when it comes to designing spaces in your home, think about the function first and foremost.  Who’s using it?  What is your lifestyle like? Answer those and then jump in, have fun with it and make it you.  Look around your home and pull together what you have.  I spent zero dollars and just 30 minutes moving furniture here and there to create this little space.  It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be you.


This $20 thrift store cabinet holds a ridiculous amount of coffee mugs.  Those adorable cabinet doors, along with the white baskets above the shelf  hide the clutter to help keep this small space feeling bigger than it is. 

Getting Ready for Halloween

The sun is setting sooner, the air is getting crisper and the leaves are transforming from green to golden red hues.

Fall is here and if you listen closely you can hear us cheer.

Halloween is near!

I’ve been slowly pulling out all of my fall and Halloween decor from boxes and bins, and after weeks of scouring local stores and for good deals I can finally decorate to my hearts content.

Starting with our coffee nook.

Fun fact: The majority of what you see is from Dollar Tree over the years. The black spiderwebs on the windows, the Lucky Raven Cafe Sign, as well as many of the pumpkins and skulls.

A Little Goes A Long Way

I love how just a tiny drop of color can instantly change a room from liking it to loving it.

Just less than 2 weeks ago we arrived in northern Maine and into our home that we bought sight unseen (well unseen in person) from southern NM.

Upon first arriving I wasn’t really on board with the wall color or the black square outlines of this dining room.

It’s not a bad color and the squares add a taste of whimsy, but they just weren’t on my personal style radar.

However. I don’t have the time or money to be transforming it in the near future. Way bigger things to focus on with my wallet. Like closing on our old home and you know, stocking a pantry.

I don’t know about ya. But my motto is, “If you don’t love it but can’t change it then just own it and change you.”

Just like we did with our new living room.

And this has definitely changed me. I’m in no hurry to paint now. (I might not ever paint it actually.)

Just a few tweaks here and there and suddenly I can appreciate the preexisting wall treatments.

First we brought in the mirror that was in our old house’s entryway. This was to form a connection with the black squares. Next we hung a painting we’d bought for our old bedroom. This helped to tie in all of the colors, but as I sat on that adorable window bench I couldn’t help but look around and contemplate.

It was missing something.

So to Pinterest I went.

I scoured and searched for ideas and inspiration and suddenly there it was. A color I hadn’t even considered. And then as if a sign from above – in comes the kid in the pink tank top and later another in her bunny pajamas.

And that’s how we got our accent color.

Helloooooo fuschia. Pink. Whatever she is, she’s beautiful.

There’s still more I’d like to do, but at least now I have a starting point. And it only cost me $10 at Walmart.

KISSing Christmas



I hear sleigh bells as I gaze upon page after glossy page of dreamy winter wonderlands framed by festive windows; the quintessential wreath hanging from a velvet red ribbon. I can smell the glazed ham and pumpkin pie as I click my way through the houseware sections online.  As I gaze upon the festive homes filled with merriment on my Pinterest boards, my heart cries yes as my wallet whimpers out a mournful no, please no, for the love of all things holy, no. 

My wallet is very articulate.

It’s no secret that November and December are a retailers dream.  From small independent mom and pop stores to the big box giants, everyone’s clamoring for a piece of that pie- and I’m not talking that sweet potato one in an adorable pie plate from Amazon.  And they’ll play dirty to come out on top. They are relentless in their pursuit.  They sell dreams of Christmas perfection.  They dazzle us with daydreams of gathering around a fire (below a perfectly decorated mantle), everyone in matching pajamas that cost more than my electric bill (family of six, remember?), eating sweet treats on plates shaped like gingerbread cookies.

They had my number and man did they call me. It was like I was on speed- dial.

Window displays of days gone by would lure me in, promising holiday perfection.   Seasonal music filled my ears as I happily shelled out dollars and coins.  I’d dance with the sugar plum fairies while pushing my cart full of Yuletide booty towards my car; humming along with the radio station as I unloaded my new purchases and began to decorate my home.

When the holiday high finally faded, I’d sit on my couch, surrounded by tinsel and scraps of wrapping paper and try to remember what happened.  And when I’d finally look up from my cup of cocoa and really look at our bank account, the merry music would be replaced by a musical score worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

And the worst part? My home wouldn’t have even gotten close to those decieving, perfect pictures of Merry Bliss. Not only would I feel stupid, but I’d also feel like a complete failure.   I’d realize I had been bamboozled.  Beguiled.  And completely missed out on the simple joy of just being.

It was a cycle.  A vicious cycle dressed up in an ugly sweater and a hideous pair of socks.  You know, the ones your grandmother got you every year.


This ugly sweater picture is brought to you by a lack of shame and my husband’s sewing skills.

Not anymore.

Each year we seem to be stepping back more and more from the hype of the holidays.  We don’t need the latest and greatest decorations to have an amazing Christmas.  We just need each other.

Yes, I still love to decorate for the holidays. I ooh and aah over the plethora of pretty things.  I love things. I’m not ashamed.  I am most definitely not a minimalist.  I like stuff.  If that makes me materialistic, then fine. I admit it. But as I mentioned in my previous post- I’m not rolling around in a pile of money. No dinero.  At least when it comes to buying things I don’t really need.  And no, I don’t need the stack of coffee cups that look like a snowman.  I just want them. So I’m a broke practical materialistic mama.

So, how do I stay true to myself, get that satisfaction of finding little treasures for my home, and decorating to my hearts content without ringing in the new year with buyers remorse?

I kiss Christmas.

Keep ISimple, Sweetheart. (No need for name calling.)

1. Start with what I have.  I lug it all into the house and take stock of everything.  Then I make a list.  Anything broken that needs replaced?  Anything missing?  Is there anything I truly need that I haven’t bought yet?

This year it’s: One more stocking because I lost one of them and a new tree skirt.  A few more ornaments. And that’s it.


2. Shop my house. Any non holiday items that I can use?

The answer is a huge resounding yes.

Glass bell jars.  White pitchers, platters, and bowls. Candle pedestals. Even tin cans that I cleaned out and use as vases from time to time.  Any and all of these look amazing with a bit of seasonal floral and branches, pine cones and even loose ornaments.


3. Focus on one room and let it just flow from there.

I no longer try to decorate my entire downstairs.  It’s impossible, and costly.  And I value my sanity.  So the bulk of our decorating goes on in whatever room holds our Christmas tree.  Our family room.  The bathroom, front room, dining room and kitchen will get little touches that tie them all to the main focal point- the family room.

4. Perspective and purpose. We take our sweet time and remind ourselves not to sweat the small stuff.  In the end, does it really matter? No. What matters is that we lived well and loved often. Besides, I’m pretty sure Jesus is still going to love me, even if my silverware is mismatched and I only own one tablecloth. I’m just saying. I mean, he is the King of Kings and he was born in a manger……


Christmas 2014

Until next time, comment below!  What’s your favorite Christmas song? When do you start decorating for Christmas? Any family traditions? I look forward to hearing from you!





A Child’s Christmas Comes Early


It’s been almost a week since we were stealing our children’s candy, gorging on chocolate, and watching Ghostbusters over and over and over again. The costumes are safely tucked away, our pumpkin luminaries are once more shoved into a box in our garage, and the only cobwebs hanging around are the real ones because my ceilings are really high in the front room, and I’m not that tall. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to them.) All of this can only mean one thing. October has gone, and November has stepped up.

Pumpkins, fall colors, garlands of pine cones, and apple cinnamon scents wafting from the wax warmer lanterns. Pictures of turkeys everywhere.  These are the things that used to take place of pride after the skeletons and ghosts were safely packed away. It’s what many have in their homes right now.

They don’t have an 11 year old named Grace Dulinsky.



From day one, her downy crown of brown hair and bright blue eyes earned her the nickname Mini-Me.   As she grew, her personality began to shine through, only driving home the fact that she is indeed a miniature version of me.  And so much more.

She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Not quite the middle child nor the baby of the family, she’s an introverted enigma wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of whimsy and fun.  Out of our four kids, she most definitely has inherited the Style Gene. Her ability to style isn’t limited to just her spot on fashion sense either.  She loves all things home decor.  Especially holidays.


We gave her the lead on halloween decorating this year, and I’ve decided not to stop there.  I’m passing the torch, so to speak. It’s been coming for a few years now.  It started small.  Letting them choose the decorations one year.  Allowing them to decorate the tree. I let go of trying to control it all.  Of trying to create the perfect holiday, only to end up an emotional wreck wrapped in tinsel.

An amazing thing happens when I step back.  Magical things.  They rise to the occasion.  They shine and their joy is infectious. And I stop controlling and start celebrating.



So, Christmas decorating has started, just barely a week after Halloween has ended.  Some will think we’re crazy.  I no longer care.

Life is precious, ladies and gentlemen, and I for one don’t want to waste a second of it.

My children will grow up and have their own homes and families. They won’t be begging me to help them go through the decorations. They won’t be here to snuggle by the fire and watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  One day, I’ll find myself with the perfect tree, arrayed in a color coordinated display of splendor.  I’ll miss the misshapen ornaments made out of salt dough, and the random stuffed animals shoved between the branches.  And I’ll miss the sweet, pure excitement that is a child’s Christmas. 

Christmas has come early to Casa Dulinsky, and I am embracing the chaos.  Even if I can’t see my desk.


Whether you choose to decorate early or closer to the season, or not at all, just remember- life is to be embraced, every single day.  The joy of Christmas, the miracle of our Savior’s birth, can be celebrated every day.  So spread the love, and share the cheer.  Christmas is near.

Happy Holidays my friends.  Let the gaiety begin!