Thursday, April 25, 2019

The loss of a friend


An old song* says that 525,600 minutes make up a year. The math checks out: 60 minutes an hour x 24 hours a day  x 365 days a year = 525,600 minutes.

The best I can figure, our sweet Cocoa lived about 7,264,800 minutes.


A much-wanted 12th birthday gift for my son Preston, Cocoa lived an exuberant, energy-filled life.
This photo was taken in the summer of 2018; Cocoa had just turned 13 years old. 13 in "human years" supposedly equates to 91 "dog years." She looks awfully good for a senior citizen, doesn't she?

We adopted Cocoa from the local humane society just after we moved into this house, and it's hard to imagine living here without her. If you’ve ever rung our doorbell, you’ve been greeted by her barking. If you’ve ever placed your food close to the edge of our countertop, you’ve had to fend off her stealthy snitching. If you’ve ever sat in one of our living room chairs, you’ve had to brush her hairs off your clothes. If you’ve ever tried to pet her “sister” Snickers, you’ve felt her nosing her way into your caress. 

Sometimes Cocoa would get so absorbed in licking your hand or your face that, when you tried to stop her, she'd continue licking the air around you. 

This photo is of Cocoa and Snickers, side by side in one of our living room chairs:


 Occasionally they'd share a chair, but more often you'd see them like this:

See how the throw pillow is on the floor beside Cocoa's chair? It never failed that Cocoa would jump into a chair and throw the pillow to the ground. 


Every now and then we caught our pups in a pose, like these:





But most of life was like this:



Or even this:



As you can see, Cocoa was no saint. Truth is, she could be awfully aggravating. She could make me so mad that sometimes I almost wanted to kill her.

But I never wanted her to die.

Cocoa ran and jumped and licked her way through millions of minutes until Monday night, when she obviously had a tummy ache. Tuesday morning she seemed a little better, but then on Tuesday afternoon she stopped eating and drinking. Deeply concerned, I made a pallet on the floor beside my bed so that I could keep an eye on her. I checked on her throughout the night. 

Sometime between 4:00 and 6:00 Wednesday morning, Cocoa took her last breath. 

I am deeply grateful that she did not suffer long. And I am grateful that I did not have to make a decision to end her life. I know this is a mercy. 

But my heart is broken. There's no other way to put it.

I think that old song is right. The only way to measure a year in a life is love. Cocoa lived more than 7 million minutes of pure, unconditional, unforgettable love.

I will remember the love.





Cocoa Parham
June 27, 2005 - April 24, 2019

*"Seasons of Love" by Jonathan D. Larson

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Open house: my updated kitchen


It's been a long time since I've shared a peek inside my home, hasn't it? But today I'm excited to invite you into one of my favorite spaces in this house: my new kitchen!


To give a feel for how much this kitchen has changed over the years, here's a look back.

Kitchen in 2010:


The cupboards are wonderful quality, but the kitchen feels like a sea of brown. So here it is in 2014:


I was very happy with these updates, especially the transformation of the island. But over time, the cabinets sustained some water damage, like this:


I knew that this damage had to be repaired, but it took me a long time to decide what to do.

Finally I consulted two friends: one who has remodeled four kitchens for herself and one who is a top-notch local realtor. Both of them advised having the cabinets painted.

To be honest, our granite countertops are not my favorite. I love the sleek, clean look of marble or quartz. But the countertops are in great shape, and the same granite is still being used in kitchen construction. "Your granite is fine," pronounced my realtor friend. And my friend with kitchen remodeling experience suggested that I start with painting the cupboards and just see how I felt once that was done. "You might find that the painted cabinets give you a whole new kitchen," she advised. She was right!


Everything feels so much lighter and brighter now!

Besides painting the cupboards, I made a few other changes as well—some complicated, some simple. Perhaps the most complicated was having the range hood altered. Here's how the old hood looked:

It was a custom-made hood, but I didn't really like the trim work, and the edges were so sharp! (Just ask my husband and two of my sons, all of whom are over 6'6" tall.) With some carpentry and painting magic, here's the hood now:


I considered replacing the range hood with a stainless steel one, but the cost was crazy expensive, in my opinion. So I looked for inspiration online, and found a hood I liked at Home Stories A to Z (Beth's kitchen is simply gorgeous!).

Another big change was the lighting in the room. I swapped out the three small lights over the island for two large lanterns:


I also changed the chandelier over the table:


The other changes were smaller. I swapped out the drawer pulls, but re-used the knobs, sticking with oil-rubbed bronze because it works well with the granite.


I wanted to add some blue to the room to work well with the blue in the adjacent dining room, so I got a new rug:


painted a terra cotta pot navy blue and gold:


and added a small lamp to the serving area.


I also wanted to add some blue to the window treatment. I still love my DIY Roman shade (full tutorial here), so I just painted over some of the green stripes with blue paint. Presto!


Here's a look behind the scenes of the cabinet painting process:


After removing all the cabinet doors and drawers to be taken to the shop, the painters taped off and tented the area. They removed the old finish, sprayed on a primer, then patched every visible imperfection.


Then they sprayed on two coats of the white paint I chose ("Alabaster" from General Finishes).

After seeing these guys work, I was filled with admiration for people who paint their cabinets themselves! 

All in all, I'm very pleased with our updated space. It's so clean, light, and bright. I'm glad I took my friends' advice. I do feel like I have a whole new kitchen!


Sources (no affiliation):

Island lanterns: Birch Lane Heritage, Wayfair
Chandelier: Laurel Foundry Carmen, Wayfair
Cabinet pulls: Emtek Westwood, build.com
Rug: Mistana Hillsby, Wayfair

What do you think?

I'm joining
Marty for Inspire Me Tuesday
Beth for Tutorials and Tips


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Grace at Home No. 336


Hello, friends, and welcome! A blessed Holy Week to you!

I'm glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some highlights from last week's party.

Since Easter is this Sunday, you might enjoy seeing the way Paula from Sweet Pea has decorated her home for Easter. Paula has a treasure trove of vintage items, and the way she incorporates them into her decor is just lovely.


Springtime has lots of us energized for decorating our homes. Decorative lanterns are popular but can be pricey, so I was glad that  Lisa from Fresh Vintage shared step-by-step instructions for making a lantern out of picture frames.


If you're still looking for items to fill Easter baskets, you might appreciate these non-candy ideas from Joy at Artful Homemaking.


If you need inspiration for setting a beautiful Easter dinner table, check out this post from Penny at Penny's Vintage Home. (And while you're visiting Penny, you'll want to stay awhile!)


If you're searching for a wonderful dessert for Easter dinner, you might like this easy carrot cake recipe from Crystal at Crystal and Company. Crystal's instructions are thorough, taking all the guesswork out of this classic dessert.


Holy Week brings thoughts of the sufferings of Jesus to our minds, but to be honest we struggle with the idea of suffering. Michele Morin from Living Our Days offers some practical wisdom from Elisabeth Eliot about knowing God in the midst of pain.


A big thank you to everyone who joined the last party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up.

Now for this week's party! Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Grace at Home No. 335


Hello, friends, and welcome to the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

*A special note to everyone who joins this party: I've used inLinkz for my link parties for many years, and I loved their old system for link parties. As of April 1, they've done away with the old system. I now have no choice but to use the new inLinkz platform, which is a bit more cumbersome for you. I'm so sorry about this. I hope you'll still participate in Grace at Home.*

It's hard to believe that Easter is just a little more than a week away! Do you decorate your home for Easter? If you need some inspiration, you'll enjoy seeing the kitchen of Marty at A Stroll Thru Life.


If you're thinking about setting a special table for Easter, you should check out this centerpiece created by Julie at My Wee Abode. Julie made those beautiful eggs, and she shares her method for making your own.


If you need a little extra something for your own spring decor, you'll be glad to see this free printable from Jamie at Anderson + Grant.


Have you made your plans for Easter dinner? I've always wanted to try cooking a leg of lamb, so I was glad to see that Carol from Comfort Spring shared a recipe for Easy Garlic Rosemary Leg of Lamb. Doesn't that sound yummy?


As beautiful as springtime is, there are still many who struggle with depression. If that applies to you or someone you love, I think you'll be encouraged by this post from Dr. Michelle Bengtson.


As for me, I was thrilled to share the cover of my forthcoming book. Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison from InterVarsity Press will be available in October. 



A big thank you to everyone who joined the last party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up.

Now for this week's party! Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

News to share


I have some news to share with y'all. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have already seen this. It's the cover art for my upcoming book!


You may know that I signed a contract with InterVarsity Press on January 1, 2018. I turned in the first draft of the manuscript on August 1 of last year. Now, finally, all the writing and editing is done. 

Y'all, writing a book is a long, long, LONG process. Some parts of it are rich and rewarding; other parts are frustrating. But working with the art department at InterVarsity Press has been a dream come true. They asked me lots of questions about what I liked, then they considered the message of the book to come up with what I believe is a wonderful cover.

Here's the coolest part: the phone screen will be at least somewhat reflective, so when you look at my book cover, you'll see yourself. Here's a photo of someone looking at the cover:


Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison will be available in October 2019.

I am over the moon about this, but of course my book isn't for me: it's for you! What do you think? I'd love to know!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Grace at Home No. 334


Hello! Welcome, and don't blink--it's the end of March already! My goodness, 2019 is going fast, isn't it?

I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some links from last week's party I think you'll enjoy.

If you're decorating your home for Easter, you'll want to see how Erin at My Mommy World created an adorable wreath for the front door. Isn't this so cute?


If you need some encouragement about decorating your home for spring, you really should read this post from Julie at My Wee Abode. Julie shares how she's sprucing up her kitchen for springtime, and she also shares how she got stuck in the comparison trap along the way. Can you relate? I sure can! (I've written a whole book about comparison, which will be coming out in October!)


The calendar says it's Spring, but I know it's still gray and cold in many places. If you need some springtime inspiration, check out this post from Pam at Everyday Living 


I am always looking for new main dish recipes so that I don't keep cooking the same old thing every night. I was so glad to get this recipe for Mongolian beef made in a sheet pan! You can find it here from Andrea at Living on Cloud Nine.


If you need some encouragement about trusting God with everything--including the little things--you'll be so glad to read this post from Dr. Michelle Bengtson.


A big thank you to everyone who joined the last party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up.

Now for this week's party! Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!