Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Stay at the Magnolia House

Last summer, Kate and I started casually tossing around the idea of trying to book a stay at Chip and Joanna's Magnolia House, a late-1800s house in little known McGregor, Texas, that Joanna fell in love after showing it to another couple on their show.  When this couple did not purchase it, an idea started brewing in her to restore this uniquely designed house to its original beauty and rent it out for others to enjoy.  The fixer upper journey of the Magnolia House aired at Christmas time in 2015, and officially opened to guests later on in 2016.  I remember watching this episode with Beau and thinking how dreamy it would be to see it up close, but I never would have guessed that a little over a year later, we'd walk through its doors, cook dinner in its kitchen, drink wine on its porch, and etch our own stories into its hundred-year pine floors.  Chalk it up to a little part our parents, who kept our kids so we could do this, a little part Kate and her ambitious desire to go after experiences that inspire us and change us, a little part husbands who love their wives and said yes to sacrificing time and resources to make this happen, and a little part God's handiwork in a friendship with Kate that has strengthened and inspired and called us to connect in ways that reach us out of what is expected.  Oh and perhaps a little bit of luck that we were one of thousands refreshing our computer screen that day in August who happened to get in and reserve a spot for the following March.  Whatever it was that led us through that wrought iron gate and into that dream of a home in little McGregor, Texas, we were thankful and ready to savor every piece of it until Rob and Marianne kicked us out!

I've been avoiding this post for a week now because it seemed too big to put into words just how special this stay was for us.  A little bit undeserving and overwhelmingly thankful were the feelings that surfaced as we speechlessly walked through this house and admired the details Joanna had so carefully put together to bless the lives that would be touched here.  From the natural light that seeped through every corner, to the scratches in the floor and the imperfections on the shiplap, it was easy to see this house breathed years of stories and the hard work of many.  We were greeted with a cake plate full of fresh pastries from the Silos, fresh fruit and orange juice waiting for us in the fridge, beds with the dreamiest bedding I had ever laid eyes on, and concrete counter tops just waiting to be cooked on.  It didn't take long for Kate and I to decide we would not be leaving until it was time to check out!

Our first night was relaxed and unforgettable.  We became locals for a few days in McGregor, throwing together the makings for an impromptu Italian feast at the local grocery store, making due with a sparse selection of fresh bread, herbs, and wine, which made it all the more fun.  We put on some music, poured some wine, chopped tomatoes and onions for bruschetta and filled the house with the smells of garlic and olive oil for a simple marinara sauce.  Then we gathered around Clint Harp's farmhouse table, passed plates and prayed thanks, and settled in for hours of conversation, both deep and light-hearted thanks to Beau's version of deepIf one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown, too? :)

Thanks for always keeping it real, babe.

After passing around the rest of our cupcakes from Silos Baking Co., it was Nate's idea to take a late night stroll around the block.  I loved this, not only because we got to see this beautiful place lit up in all its glory at night, but because it looked so uniquely out of place in this sleepy little town.  The volunteer fire department was right across the street, a dog barked at us from inside a chain linked fence just a few houses down, and it seemed the rest of the community was completely asleep as our foreign steps hit the pavement of the street that was being re-asphalted earlier that day.  And something about all this only added to the magic of this place - a treasure restored and given new life in the most unexpected of places.  Now, hundreds of people drive the extra 17 miles to catch a glimpse of her, take a selfie on the sidewalk, and go eat a cupcake and visit an antique store down the street.  It was unreal to see the impact of such a thing.  Chip and Joanna's impact was felt for sure, but God's loving presence came out of the woodwork here, and would be continued to be seen through the faces of others who humbly serve so well in this place.  More on that tomorrow...          

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Our Visit to Magnolia Market + Silos

After ending our stint in Austin with tacos of course, we said goodbye to this city that captured our hearts (and our appetites) and headed north towards Waco.  Austin was the perfect way to start our adventure, but my heart was ready to settle into Waco and experience all that is Magnolia.  A lover of Joanna's design eye, Chip's humor, and an avid watcher of Fixer Upper since the start, it seemed a bit surreal to be this close to where it all takes place.  It was so neat that all four of us, husbands included, had just read Chip and Joanna's first book, The Magnolia Story.  Their sweet story of how they fell in love, how they admired and complimented each others' differences in order to build a solid team and marriage, and how they little by little used their gifts to build their family and their dreams, while always staying faithful to God, to each other, and to their community in Waco, was inspiring and accessible.  Their success didn't come without its fair share of trials, and their fame wasn't sought after as so many reality stars we see on TV today.  They took some risks, invested in their community, and let God take the driver's seat.  And His driving took them to a farmhouse outside of Waco that would later introduce millions to a little thing called shiplap, to a pilot episode of a reality show on HGTV that has since shattered any and all ratings for the network, and to an abandoned grain mill now filled with so much life and beauty, not to mention 25,000 visitors a week.  And somehow, in the midst of this success story, they have maintained this sweet, simple, and genuine spirit that sings out of every pocket of Magnolia. 

It was easy to see Joanna's vision brought to life around every corner of this place.  Situated within a city block on what felt like the outside corner of the city, with the two twin grain silos anchoring its Waco roots, I felt as if we had just entered our own little alternate universe in the middle of an otherwise typical Tuesday morning for the rest of the 130,000 or so Waco residents.  Joanna's knack for black and white contrasts became the palette for the market, with pretty black iron gates, as well as the smiling faces of so many sweet employees greeting us as we walked into the property.  The smell of popcorn and cupcakes filled the air, dads threw footballs to kids on a large green astroturf field, and smiling women carrying simple craft paper bags filed out of the Market, stopping to take a picture on the steps or under the famous "Miles to Magnolia" sign in front of the silos.  A line of cute food trucks bordered the premises, as did several arrangements of spring flowers, herbs growing in rusted out eavesdrops and antique chicken coupes, and vegetable gardens with chalkboard markers welcoming visitors to stop and get a bout of spring fever in the sweet Magnolia Seed and Supply.  White farmhouse picnic tables with black and white striped awnings, big wooden porch swings, and striped lounge chairs dotted the property, and Johnnyswim filled the sound system, inviting people to relax and stay awhile.  It was all pretty magical and I got emotional every time I thought of the sweet vision that brought this all to life.  

The inside of the Market was equally as beautiful as the property itself.  Every corner was styled to perfection and never have I been in a store where I seriously could have purchased one of everything.  From the subway tiled kitchen area, to the flower market, to the sweet Matilda Jane corner with that tea set I knew Mila had to have, I loved it all.  Knowing we'd be back in a couple of days, it was fun to just take it all in this first time around.  

After a little shopping, and some major garden goal setting after admiring the Seed and Supply store, we claimed a picnic table and decided on soups and gourmet cheese sandwiches at the Cheddar Box food truck.  My Sweet Granny grilled cheese, paired with butternut squash and tomato soup, and washed down with a mint and honey Moonshine Sweet Tea was the perfect lunch to enjoy at the Silos.  And we made sure to save room for one last stop before making our way on the next leg of our adventure.  A stop that was of course, the icing on the cupcake. :)

The Silos Baking Company was not without a line of people at all times during our visits to Magnolia.  This line gave us a chance to admire the beauty Joanna put into restoring this building.  I loved the subway tile contrasted with the charcoal black painted wood work, the blue ticking stripe aprons on the cupcake bakers and sellers, and the sweet names of all the different choices of perfectly frosted cupcakes.  We went with Strawberries and Cream and Lemon Lavender, and the boys found us the perfect spot on the Parisian style outdoor patio.  And the cupcakes were sweet and delicious.  

It was a morning I won't forget anytime soon.  But believe it or not, our Magnolia adventure was just getting started.  And next up was a little town called McGregor, Texas.    


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