Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Before I close this little chapter of our Magnolia adventure and move on to reality, I wanted to share a few of our tips and discoveries in hopes that you enjoy this place as much as we all did if you ever have the chance to visit. Magnolia Market's website has a list of tips for enjoying your visit, and you can find several others
Tip 1: If possible, visit on a weekday. I read somewhere that the Silos welcome around 25,000 people a week and that on Saturdays and Sundays, the crowds and lines wrap around the block. We went on a Tuesday and Thursday and had no issues. We waited less than ten minutes at the bakery and had no wait in the checkout line. I did read that the following weekend, average wait time at the checkouts was 90 minutes! The only line I did see when we were there was for the bathrooms! I'd suggest going before, or using the outdoor bathrooms across from the Silos.
Tip 2: Take your time and soak it all in! Expect to spend a half day there to make the most of the experience. An hour or two in the Market depending on how much shopping you plan to do, a half hour to browse the gardens and Seed + Supply Store, eat lunch at one of the food trucks, and definitely eat dessert at the bakery. There are bins full of lawn games, giant wooden swings, kettle corn, and music playing - it's so much more than a place to shop and the perfect place to connect and unplug with friends and family.
Tip 3: Be prepared to purchase! Kate and I literally wanted to buy everything in the store. Since we flew to Texas, we were both ecstatic when Magnolia announced a FedEx Ship-to-Home booth right in the store and were planning to take advantage of this service to send our packages home. Although very convenient (my package arrived two days after shipping it), it was pretty pricey. You may want to take a look at the website prior to visiting the store to see what you can find and order online and what items are in-store only. I prioritized the in-store items for sure, and took pictures of a few things I had my eye on that could later be ordered online. I'll share my fun finds at the bottom of the post.
Tip 4: Eat at the Silos. The food trucks that border the Silos add so much character to the experience, not to mention the food was wonderful. I highly recommend a gourmet grilled cheese (the Sweet Granny was so good) and Moonshine Sweet Tea at the Cheddar Box!
Tip 5: Engage with the staff. Every single person we had the opportunity to talk with was kind, genuine, and loved sharing parts of the mission of Magnolia. Nate talked to a young man who had just started working there two weeks before and had just met Chip. One of the sweet gals I talked to told me about a staff party they just had on the green space with live music and blankets on the lawn. There was a genuine excitement just being around the people there.
Tip 6: Explore Waco and go on a Fixer Upper Scavenger Hunt. We had all read the book and had so much fun driving around Waco looking for Fixer Upper landmarks (with the help of google and gps). Clint Harp's Design Co. Store is a must-do, and we all got so excited when we accidentally came across Bosque Ave. and spotted Joanna's sweet little store where it all began. We also found a couple of Fixer Upper homes, and the stately historic house that is the next big surprise project of Chip and Joanna's. Driving around Waco and getting a sense of the community revealed just how unexpectedly sweet their journey to Fixer Upper has been.
Tip 7: Read the book. The book is wonderful whether you're making a trip to Waco or not, but if you are, it's an absolute must! This book gave us SO much context to understanding their journey to where they are now and we appreciated their story so much more to see the high and low points of their story. We found the street near Baylor University where Chip started buying and flipping homes, and it was really neat to get a true picture of where they started. And it only makes the Magnolia Market more incredible!
Tip 8: Eat some barbecue. We loved Rudy's for its cafeteria style ordering and big ice-filled coolers of glass bottles of root beer and blue cream soda. Part gas station, part barbecue, our food was served on plastic pallets and we sat on long picnic tables next to garage doors that can open up as windows. The ambience was great and we just so happened to be right next door to Chip's most recent adventure...
Tip 9: Appease your husbands with a trip to Austin first. :) In my honest opinion, if you are driving any distance to Waco, it's worth it to extend for a day or two and check out this unique and vibrant city. While the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco may do it for some, I got the feeling there wasn't a ton to do in this city. Austin was a quick 90-minute drive from Waco, and a city we really loved. Waco for Magnolia, Austin for tacos, music, and Texas. ;)
So what did I bring home with me from my visit to Magnolia? My favorite items include my signature Magnolia wreath that seemed fitting to buy while at the Market, two heavy black candlesticks to recreate some of Joanna's black accent pieces, my number signs from Clint's shop, and my sweet stack of hymn cards with the words of Come Thou Fount, just perfect for Mila's dresser. I was like a little girl on Christmas morning when the FedEx man delivered my box. It was so much fun to unwrap the pieces, channel my inner Joanna, and arrange these pieces into our fold here at home. So much of what we took away from Magnolia could be recreated anywhere. Small details, like a flickering candle, a pop of black, or a new towel hung on the oven door, can inspire creativity, cozy, and joy.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
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.