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Joanna Gaines is Back


Have you seen Joanna Gaines’s new TV series Magnolia Table? Like many of us I became besotted with Joanna and her practical, common sense, yet chic style on the Fixer Upper series she did with her adorable husband, Chip. Joanna’s new series, Magnolia Table, takes its name from their restaurant in Waco, Texas, as well as her best-selling cookbook. In Joanna’s new series, I’m drawn to her kitchen because, except for her fancy stove, it looks as though it’s been lifted straight from the architectural plans for the house James and I never got to build.

Actually Joanna’s kitchen makes me a little melancholy.

It was 10 years ago, on Christmas, that James died unexpectedly while walking on our ranch. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long and while I now have a better mindset, little things like Joanna’s kitchen, make me think about the “what might have beens.”

It’s uncanny how much my kitchen and the one in Joanna’s new series look alike. Like Joanna’s old 1800’s gristmill kitchen in Waco, I wanted our new home to look like it had been built in the 1800’s by the Germans who settled the Texas Hill Country. Joanna and I “share” the same white marble top, wooden island table (I’d already found one in my favorite antique store in Comfort, Texas, and put it in storage), as well as the pine floors, pine French doors and pine cabinets, but it’s “our” walls that are the real showstoppers!

The technique is known as German schmear. Unlike most of the new limestone homes here in Texas—which have identical, straight, saw cut limestone blocks—German schmear features irregular sized stones with a heavy coating of mortar that not only sets the stones in place, but overlaps or “schmears” onto the face of the stone. James and I did a lot of looking before we found “the” guy who understood how it was done. If you’re interested in this technique just know that home repair guy, Bob Villa, has it all wrong.

His idea of German schmear is to whitewash red brick. No, no!

Even bigger news than Joanna’s new series is that she and Chip have started their own television network. The Magnolia Network is set to replace the Discovery DIY Network sometime this year. For now you can stream Magnolia Table on DIY Network or Discovery+ which is available for $4.99 a month. Chip and Joanna will also feature other brand new series about families who are finding their niche on the farm or in the garden. I’m looking forward to all of it.

With Fixer Upper, The Magnolia Journal–Joanna’s magazine, The Magnolia Table cookbook, numerous branded product lines, a realty company and the Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco and now Magnolia Table and the Magnolia Network… Oprah has nothing on these titans of business and media! Bravo to Joanna and Chip and their family!

“Of all heroic pursuits large or small, we believe there may be none greater than a life well loved.” Magnolia Manifesto

All of this talk about Magnolia Table and cooking has inspired me to make Korean BBQ this weekend. My initial plan was to take it over to my dear friend, Rob. We’ve been buddies since college and have cooked and travelled the world together, but since Covid, we’ve been limited to “food porn” conversations on the phone. He loves spicy Korean food so my first thought was he could sit on his porch and eat, while I sat on the front steps next to his large stone gryphons that stand guard, but with 3,000 new Covid cases here in one day… I’m just going to drop it on the front porch and blow him a kiss from the driveway.

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33 thoughts on “Joanna Gaines is Back”

  1. “It was 10 years ago, on Christmas, that James died unexpectedly while walking on our ranch. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long and while I now have a better mindset, little things like Joanna’s kitchen, make me think about the “what might have beens.” ”

    Perhaps, “what might have beens.”, not the right phrase. You and James DID have your kitchen. It’s still alive in you, as is James. Love grows, no matter death.

    Those original German style stones….. When I was in Scotland studying historic gardens our teacher, on site, off hand, said about the rugged stone home, “……stones are field gathered.” People used what they had. Often whitewashing, or plastering the field gathered stones, to hide the poverty of their ‘beginnings.’

    Now, we copy that Poverty Cycle design layer. What else to call it? I copy it so often, the Poverty Cycle.

    It is palpable, how Covid affecting us, even in your sweet story.

    For me, you & James HAVE your kitchen.

    T00 bad I/we can’t have your COOKING !!

    Looking forward to your book.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

    • Tara, You’re so wise! We did have our kitchen! The one at the Little House on the ranch and it was intimate and wonderful and we entertained friends and family there. Thank you for reminding me. The Scots were like the Germans who moved here. They used what they had and what they found, and they built wonderful stone walls around their property as well as the stones on the inside and outside of the house. I would go into overdrive if I thought I could have all of you come to my home and enjoy one another and a meal. xoxox, Brenda

    • Thank you, Susan! I was stunned when I first saw Joanna’s kitchen, and it brought back great memories of looking for the right architect and together drawing up plans for our home. Be well and be safe, Brenda

  2. What a great read this morning. That schmear is so beautiful, and interesting! Off to look at recipe. Enjoy and hi to Rob!

    • Thank you, Carol, for reading and leaving me a comment. The website with the Korean BBQ recipe is my new favorite cooking site. Her recipes are delicious and not to complicated and the images are gorgeous. I will say hello to Rob! xoxox, Brenda

  3. Loved this post and absolutely loved Tara Dillard’s response.

    Like the flu, I believe Covid is here to stay. Don’t allow it to steal your joy.

    Looking forward to your book and to many more happy posts.

    Judy Truex Reed

    • Hi Trudy, Tara Dillard always has something profound to say, but I love you comment equally as well. Like you, I believe we will never be rid of Covid and yes… “The trick is not to let it steal our joy!” Thank you for that! xoxox, Brenda PS: I have set an April 1st deadline to finish my book. I know there will be more edits, but this will be a huge milestone.

    • Thanks for your thoughtfulness, Sally. Since James died some years are easier than others, but this year was one of my worst. Don’t know if the isolation from Covid had something to do with it, but I cried at the drop of a hat. Sending you a hug right back! xoxox, Brenda

  4. How wonderful to open FB today and see a post from you! I love the kitchen as well, all of the light and natural materials in it. As someone who cooks quite a bit, I can’t help but wonder how hard it is to keep the schmear behind the stove clean, ha! Now I’ve got to figure out how to get some Korean food, that looks wonderful. Happy New Year, stay safe and healthy.

    • Hi Stephane! I’m equally as happy to see you here, today! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me a note. You make a great point about keeping the stone and the schemer behind the stove clean, but since the same rock and schemer is also used on the outside of the house and endures more than cooking grease and spaghetti sauce splatters, I think if you wipe it down right away… perhaps with a grease cutter like Windex… it should be fine. Blessings to you this New Year and stay well. xoxox, Brenda

  5. Hi Brenda – I never heard of German schmear and find it quite attractive. Fixer Upper taught me about shiplap. I like Joanna’s casual, but sophisticated style. She reminds me of a young Martha Stewart. I admire the ageless Martha, too. Enjoyed reading your blog today.

    • Hello Miss Colleen!!! I’ve always been enamored of the German schmear technique. So much more organic looking than the cookie cutter, square rock blocks I see on most homes around here. I first saw it used indoors in the home of a friend who lives in the Texas Hill Country. It was so chic and together with her furnishings… She changed the way I looked at design. Good point about Martha Stewart. Another titan of media and branding. Don’t you love all of these smart, strong women? Thanks so much for stopping by. See you, again, soon! xoxox, Brenda

      • How wonderful of you to take us along on a walk down memory lane. I can truly u derstand why Joanna‘s kitchen would have stirred up nostalgia for you. Perhaps there is still a German schmeared wall kitchen in your future. I really admire Joanna and all that she and her husband have accomplished. I especially love her kitchen and her ‘can do’ attitude and style. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today.

        • Thank you, Sandra! I’m happy you enjoyed my blog post, because that’s the goal of everyone I write. I think Joanna and her husband have handled their success so well, and like you, I admire them. Hope to see you here again! xoxox, Brenda

  6. Brenda – Regardless of the topic your posts are always uplifting, thought provoking and the best part — an easy and fun read. While you’ve seen your kitchen come to life in someone else’s dream, never say never. I’m downsizing and can’t find the house of my single life dreams, so I decided to design and build it as a retirement gift to myself. And, Scottish smear is added to the details list! (Did I mention I always also learn something new from your posts…) Now I just need to decide where to build.
    Life not only goes on, but is filled with new adventures. You can still make that kitchen a reality.

    • Donna! Thank you so much for the complement! That’s something every writer wants to hear. I LOVE your idea to build your own retirement house. After James died I was on the path to doing the same thing but… Let’s just say I found out in time that the builder was not above board. You have my same philosophy: Life goes on. Please keep me posted about your home!!! You hear me? I’m really interested. I can live vicariously through you! xoxox, Brenda

  7. It absolutely sucks that your life with James came to such an abrupt and cruel end. But because it happened to you and because you are inherently a storyteller, we, your readers, feel the sensation of pain and sadness with you. Your experience makes us all stop and take stock of what we enjoy today that may well be gone tonight. Thank you

    • Mithra, Thanks so much for the sweet words. I’ve been enjoying your journey on the farm, because we both love the land and have enhanced it and turned an old house into a home we love. Enjoy every minute of it! xoxox, Brenda

  8. Good to see you back on the blog field my friend. Sorry it’s been such a difficult year ~ remember I’m only a phone call away. Can’t wait to make the Bulgogi recipe …. I adore all things Asian!! Wonder why!! Well…..maybe not ALL things!! Sending love & hugs.

  9. This is a beautiful story of the dreams you and James had about your home. You had a beautiful vision and who knows, maybe you can still make it happen.
    Joanna and Chip Gaines are top-notch folks, very family oriented and just all around good people. The picture of the Korean barbeque looks so good…I’m sure your friend Rob will love it.

    • Thank you, Donna! I always love seeing you here! I’ve come to terms with the fact that building a home is not part of my future, and that’s okay, because I love the home I have now… If only Annie hadn’t made it her job to run after me and mess everything up, but then, I wouldn’t be without her. Have a great week! xoxox, Brenda

    • Rebecca, It took me a while to figure out what the technique was called. Most builders don’t do it because it’s more time consuming and expensive so it was only the old stone masters at the quarries who were familiar with what I was talking about. Thanks for reading the post and leaving me a comment. I hope this finds you well and safe. xoxox, Brenda

    SHE OWNS THE MAGNOLIA MAGAZINE?I need to look at that again!
    I AM SO SORRY ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND……………….life sure gives us twists and turns!

    • Contessa, Have you ever seen an episode of “Fixer Upper?” Chip and Joanna Gaines created their empire from that show. Yes, Magnolia magazine is hers as well along with a bazillion branded product lines. They’re wonderful. And thank you for your mentioning James… He was wonderful too! xoxox, Brenda

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