by hollycombs

So I’m finally (after 4.5 months of home ownership) getting around to collecting our “before” photos of the house. It’s amazing how much has changed in so short a time and looking back at these photos, I realize how much I’ve forgotten. So, with no further ado, here was the house when we bought it…

Living room:
Living room - before

Living room - before

Dining room:
Dining room - before

Sun room - before

Kitchen - before

Kitchen - before

Laundry room - before

Master Bedroom:
Master bedroom - before

Master Closet:
Master bedroom closet - before

Master Bath:
Master Bath - before

Master Bath - before

Hallway - before

Linen Closet:
Linen closet - before

Hall Bath:
Hall Bath - before

Hall Bath - before

Guest Room:
Guest Bedroom - before

Study - before

Study - before

And, just for fun, a photo from our first night in the new house (I will never forget that it was 42* in the house when we got there!):
First night

I’m hoping to take a slew of “In Progress” photos over the weekend (we’re having a house warming, so it will all be cleaned up!) to post next week.

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{Moments of Inspiration}

by hollycombs

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

A moment with Jane the goat

With my new baby goat, Jane.

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Meet Jane

by hollycombs

Jane the goat

Husband and I welcomed the latest addition to our growing little family last night: Jane The Goat.

She’s a sweetheart of a little baby, just weaned and only 2.5 months old. It was honestly heartbreaking to take her from her mama, and the little thing bleated all the way home.

Bringing Jane home

Chappy was immediately interested in her new companion, although they are currently separated. And before long, Jane wanted nothing more than to be with Chappy. She now bleats when Chappy wanders away from their adjoining gate. I take that as a very good sign.

Chappy and Jane

Jane doesn’t like being caught, but gives up fairly easily once she is and lets me pick her up and hold her. We also introduced her to Ginger, who was fascinated and maybe a little jealous of the newbie (not uncommon for Ginger, she eventually gets over it).

When I went out for morning feeding, Jane actually approached me — it’s the first time she has initiated contact. I’m hopeful that with a lot of handling she will become very people-friendly, and with her young age, she’s likely to attach to Chappy just fine.

We couldn’t be happier with our new little girl, and she opens us up to a whole new world of things to learn.

Holding baby Jane

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by hollycombs

In keeping with my last post, Fallow, I was forced into a bit of rest this week and realized that I needed it much more than I even realized.

I had been struggling through Day 2 of Horrible Headache, when I kindly informed my husband that I would not be making progress on the house that evening, because I was going to soak in a hot bath. (He wholeheartedly supported this, because he’s wonderful.)

I soaked. I sipped a glass of wine. I watched Persuasion. I may or may not have done all three at once.

Then I took myself to bed early, with a good book (reading approximately 1.5 pages before completely falling asleep).

I woke up this morning refreshed. Not perfect, but the headache was gone, the exhaustion was gone, the stress of just getting ready for work (much less actually working full time) was gone. I hummed along on my to work, listening to an audiobook during my hour commute, and arrived half an hour early. It was a good way to start the day.

I think more rest will be in my future.

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by hollycombs

From Shauna Niequist recently…

There’s a certain amount of pressure for all of us, I think, to be endlessly productive, to create content around the clock, to say big things every day, if you’re a blogger, or every Sunday if you’re a preacher.

Let’s resist that. It’s not how nature works. It’s not how seasons work. There’s planting and reaping and harvesting, and there’s the practice of letting a field lay fallow for a while, allowing it to prepare again to produce. For the first time in a long time, I’m practicing silence, laying fallow, trusting that the world will keep spinning quite happily without quite so many words from me.

Right now, in my life, this is profound. Lay fallow? Silent? It feels foreign. But there has to be a way to incorporate this into my oh-so-full life of working, living, renovating and more. There just has to.

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Thursday, or…

by hollycombs

Thursday, or as I like to call it “Day 3 Without Water.”



I woke up Tuesday morning to find our water pump not working. Kind of like when our hot water heater broke two days after moving in, or like when our well pump stopped working last month. Yeah. Three months into this whole home ownership thing and we’ll have mastered just about all water problems (including running toilets, leaky faucets, an overflowing washing machine and a contaminated well that won’t pass inspection). Go us.

We have to be realistic about the things that go wrong with home ownership, but that’s not the whole story. So here’s a quick snapshot of where we are right now:

The good: Three new little chicks joined our mini “homestead” this week. They still need names, but they’re cute and chirp constantly.

New chicks

The bad: Um, yeah, no water. No showers, no hot tea in the mornings, you get the idea.

The ugly: That would be the kitchen. Wallpaper has been stripped, new counters and sink are installed, but the 80s honey oak cabinets still scream outdated, the floor is torn up and the walls desperately need sanding/mudding/painting/tiling.

And because I’m trying to be positive here… The lovely: Almost every room is painted! Sure, I have a few closets and ceilings to finish, but the kitchen and sun room are the only rooms left to paint! It’s wonderful to walk through the house and feel how different it is compared to when we moved in. Red walls? Nowhere to be seen. Turquoise paint? All gone. It makes a girl happy.

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{Memories} Jane Austen

by hollycombs

Amid the chaos of house projects and preparing for company (and more house projects), I managed to carve out bits and pieces of down time (ie. laundry folding) to watch snippets of some well-loved Jane Austen films.

I found myself inexplicably happy as I watched, filled with some of the best memories. I am truly in love with Jane Austen’s unique wit and perfect dialogue.

I received my first set of Jane Austen novels the summer after 7th grade. My brother’s girlfriend was working at a bookstore in Denver and sent me a special collection of lovely hardback books. I immediately selected the thickest copy, Sense and Sensibility, and began to read. Some of the vocabulary was over my head, and I struggled to keep up with the characters and actions. I wasn’t well versed (or versed at all really) in British literature at the time. Eventually I switched to Pride and Prejudice, but the five different Miss Bennets had me utterly confused. I still loved to read them though and continued my pursuit in spite of my confusion.


A few years later, when I was about 15, Jane Austen made a resurgence in my life. I was visiting the same brother, now married to the girlfriend who had first introduced me to Jane Austen. MF and I watched Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in about a 24-hour span. I was smitten. I was able to keep track of the characters, understand the plot lines, delight in the dialogue. I still remember so vividly, MF and I laying on a twin bed in their guest room watching for hours, and as John loaded the car and kept prompting us that we needed to get on the road, still we watched, transfixed. Eventually, he came into the room and turned the TV off.

In college, I was delighted to learn that my new roommate had the exact same tiny, hardback copy of P&P that I did, and she even had it for the same reason: A traveling copy. It fits so nicely into a purse or carry-on!

During the summers, Mom and my SIL, K, and I would get together to scrapbook. We would steal my brother’s projector and play the long A&E version of P&P on a giant screen while we scrapped away.

In graduate school, I started inviting friends from all walks of life to join once-a-month Jane Austen film nights. We would watch any and every version of each book, and discuss late into the night what we liked and didn’t like about each version and how they compared to the books. I brought friends together from different parts of my life, and they brought friends. I met new people. There were women from 19 years old to 35, and we delighted in each others’ perspectives.

Now, I have a home of my own, and I can’t wait for fall. Because I will pull one of my well worn copies of P&P from the shelf, curl up with a blanket in front of the fire and indulge in Austen’s unforgettable wit and dialogue. It will be heaven.

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My barista

by hollycombs

StarbucksHusband and I made a quick day trip to Washington DC on Sunday. We needed to pick up some supplies from Ikea for our kitchen renovation before Dad comes at the end of the month. Every time we go on a road trip (no matter how short), we always stop for Starbucks. We don’t treat ourselves to this when we’re in town, because we simply don’t have the money. But when we’re on the road? We splurge.

The problem is that I never know quite what to order. Oh, I know I want a chai latte. But I don’t know how many pumps or what kind of milk or any of that. And every time I hesitate when ordering, I feel this pang of grief. Every time.

You see, Michael was a Starbucks barista, a good one. Husband and I would stop in his Starbucks every chance we got to say hi and get a quick drink. The first time I ordered chai, he took a moment to think and said, you won’t want it full strength. He came up with exactly the right combination for my tastes. I never asked him what it was, he just remembered and gave it to me every time.

Now he’s gone. And I don’t know how I like my Starbucks. And it kind of hurts a little every time.

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by hollycombs

When I finally ordered In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, it couldn’t get here fast enough. The day it arrived in the mail, I ripped open the package and couldn’t wait for bedtime (ie. a few quiet moments to read). But, at the same time I’m reading a new piece of French literature and wanted to spend some time on that.

So I told myself I would hurry up and read the first chapter of In Praise of Slowness, then I could turn to fiction. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get through to the end of the first chapter. And when I finally set that book down, I was anxious to pick up my next book. I lay there in bed, exhausted, fighting sleep for the sake of reading. My eyes began to shut, and I lay there for a moment doing absolutely nothing. And it felt good. But, I told myself, I need to pick up a book and read more, I can’t just sit here.

But isn’t that what I had just been reading about? The cult of speed? Our inability to do nothing?

So I didn’t. I didn’t pick up that book. I didn’t read any more. I just lay there. Silent. Still. And slowly drifted off to sleep. Content. Happy.

I wish my life were like that more often. I wish I embraced the slow. The quiet. The still.

It’s hard though. When you’re house-hunting. When you’re growing. When you’re moving. When life is in upheaval. When you wonder if there will ever be a new normal. When you feel like you’re in a hamster wheel.

I make it through the day one breath at a time these days.

Slowing down to take a walk

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Learning, cont.

by hollycombs

I spent a long time learning about mortgages, real estate, and more. A long time searching and researching.

We have our home now, and it’s time to learn new things.

Already tackled by an utterly uncertain new homeowner with Daddy on speed dial:

  • Replacing toilet innards
  • Replacing exterior door locks
  • Disinfecting bacteria-laced well
  • Fixing holes with wood putty
  • Installing dryer
  • Removing and rehanging doors
  • Installing fencing
  • Installing gates
  • Dismantling and rehanging shelving
  • Installing curtain hardware
  • The “to-learn” list:

  • Replacing ceiling fans/light fixtures
  • Replacing shower heads
  • Tiling
  • Installing back splash
  • Painting cabinets
  • Installing electric fencing
  • Replacing outlets
  • And there’s more… Oh so much more. And I’m going to choose to relish it.

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