Well, it wasn't a dream, I thought to myself as I sat up in the early morning hours and surveyed my surroundings. The mattress and bedding in the iron four-poster bed we slept in had enveloped me like a cloud and I was rested and ready to soak in the day ahead.
I quietly tiptoed around our upstairs suite while Beau slept, grabbing a sweater and my reading material and sneaking into the nearby coffee nook I remembered so much from watching the episode the first time. With it's black and white patterned flooring, imperfect shiplap walls, and blue green lower cabinets, the uniqueness of this room was inviting and made me feel like I was transported to a loft in New York City; that is, until I looked out the window and watched a handful of old men park their trucks across the street and head into the McGregor Post Office to get their mail. :) I made coffee in a cream colored Magnolia cup, curled up with one of Joanna's many soft blankets, and opened the pages of my book. Soon, my mind drifted, as it did often throughout our stay, of ways I could bring pieces of this inspiration home to Cedar Falls. Surrounded by beauty, it was the details that really did for me.
Soon, the smell of breakfast made its way upstairs, inviting Beau out of bed and us both to the kitchen. Kate had made an egg bake and we arrived just in time to help set the table, this time in the breakfast nook because we vowed to make use of every inch of this space! We shared pastries from Joanna's bakery, fresh fruit from Marianne, and this is when Nate came up with the idea to call his former co-worker who lived on a ranch not too far from Waco. Soon, an idea that seemed to come out of nowhere came to fruition in a matter of minutes, and the boys had plans to make use of Les' ranch (and his gator) just thirteen miles away from where we were staying. Thankful the boys had just found some fun of their own, Kate and I smiled to each other, secretly knowing we had just scored some precious girl time in a place made to play house.
These precious few hours with Kate were some of my favorite memories of this trip. We played house. We listened to Johnnyswim and took turns soaking in that dreamy bathtub. We curled up under the covers of those two twin-sized beds in the soft blue room Joanna designed to mirror her daughter's. With our Bibles, our journals, and the chocolates placed on every end table in the house, we laughed and cried and dreamed. We ate leftover spaghetti and sipped white wine in rocking chairs on the porch, letting the Texas sun warm our cheeks. And when the boys came home and recalled snippets of their adventure, we made plans for one last dinner at our Magnolia home - this time with some pretty important invited guests.
Perhaps one of the sweetest surprises of our stay at Magnolia House involved a couple who knows the walls of this home even more than Chip and Joanna themselves. Rob and Marianne Ward were approached by Chip and Joanna shortly after they purchased the house and began plans to fix it up. In a transitional period themselves, they said yes to God's call and became overseers of the property. In the midst of the renovation, Joanna once again approached Rob and Marianne with yet another proposition - to live in the run-down, dilapidated "Carriage House" just steps away from the back porch of the bed and breakfast. Only after fixing it up and filming it for an episode of the show, of course! Now, Rob and Marianne are the sweet faces behind this home. They schedule visitors, personalize each experience to make everyone feel special, make sure Joanna's exceptional taste and vision is maintained around every inch of that house, and in our case, accept our invitation to join us around the table for dinner. With a simple text that read, "We'd love to come, what can we bring?" We were a bit star-struck, but mostly gracious they accepted our invitation with such genuine excitement, and boy are we glad they did.
Rob prayed for us around the table, shared stories of how this all came to be, and made us laugh with several Chip stories, like the one where his seven goats found their way in the upstairs of their farmhouse, and soon out the window while the four kids screamed their heads off. They spoke candidly about how fast the Magnolia brand has grown and the challenges of finding the right people to live and breathe the same values Chip and Joanna hold so dear to them. They shared stories about their family, asked us about ours, and talked about the blessings that have come out of the Magnolia House, thanks to the people who have found themselves in it. "It's been a place for people to connect and reconnect," Rob said. And for the four of us, it did that and a whole lot more.
After a peek inside the Carriage House, we ended the night in matching Magnolia bathrobes, curled up in those sweet twin beds again, with a TV cart on wheels pushed in the room. Rob told the guys that every episode of Fixer Upper was saved on its DVR, and it seemed pretty fitting to watch this home come to life from inside its walls.
Our stay at the Magnolia House came to a sweet ending the next morning. But as we said goodbye to the shiplap and closed that black front door one last time, we took so much out with us. We left closer as friends, inspired to take pieces of this with us in our daily lives and homes. It was the ultimate retreat, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so grateful.