Dinning Room Do-Over

By Vanessa Meyer, guest blogger

Y’all I am so excited to share my dining room makeover with you!  Well, let’s be honest it was not really a makeover … more like a successful attempt to finally decorate after living in our house for nearly two years.

But first, a bit about me. I’m a working wife and mom to four young children. When it comes to shopping, I’m frugal, the belle of bargains and a sucker for DIY projects. Together with my dad, we’ve built our entry-way bench, a toy storage unit and two twin beds for my middle boys. Between marriage, kids and work, it goes without saying that spare time doesn’t present itself much. So this year, I decided to take a few days off for Spring Break with my kids and transform our dining room.

First up … window treatments. We have one large window in our dining room and I dread spending money on curtain rods and drapes. It gets so expensive, especially when you have a TON of windows. I found a great pin for DIY curtain rods and after a trip to Home Depot and a phone call to my dad, viola!


I wanted simple, plain white curtains. I found these 108” curtains at Kohl’s on sale for $24.99, plus I had an extra 30% off coupon!  A quick search on Amazon pulled up these curtain rings that I’ve been able to use for multiple window coverings.

With a neutral window covering, pops of color were calling my name. I love vintage floral prints and found some great ones on Etsy, but hello price tag! I turned to my fav, [yep, you guessed it!] Pinterest and found some amazing vintage floral prints for free [insert pat on back]. I printed them at Staples – a much cheaper route for printing than local print shops – and bought these frames on sale at Michael’s.

I was happy with my prints, but the room still felt like it was missing some color. To help achieve a more open concept, we partially tore down the wall between our living and dining room when we first moved in. It left us with a small, angled wall in the dining room that I never loved, but live with. This was my chance to use the wall to dress up the room.

During our trip to the Silos, I spotted the magnolia leaf wreath often used on Fixer Upper episodes. Shell shocked at the $99 price tag, I confidently turned away knowing I could find something similar for half the price. Back home, I turned to my faithful craft store, Hobby Lobby, which did not disappoint. I found this magnolia wreath for $50 and used my 40 percent-off coupon, purchasing it at just $30! Coupled with an antique mirror I bought from Hobby Lobby last year, (find a similar one here) and some wire to hang the two, my walls were complete.


Finally, I wanted to add a live plant because, you know, that’s what self-proclaimed interior decorates do. It was off to Lowe’s with the hubby. I found THE PERFECT indoor plant called Bird of Paradise.  I told him how much it was – $70. Never at a loss for words, he declared we were not paying $70 for a plant I was going to kill in a month. So, I decided I would start smaller [ahem…cheaper] with a cane plant that’s nearly impossible to kill and a cute basket from Home Goods to place it in (find a similar one here.).

Once in its place, I quickly realized the cane plant wasn’t cutting it. So, I swapped out the original plant I was forced to buy picked with a fiddle leaf fig tree from a local nursery in San Antonio.


Here’s a final picture of our new dinning room.  Hope you got some home décor inspiration!



Spring cleaning

All it took was a quick read of the new Magnolia Journal and a shift in season for the annual spring cleaning itch to kick in.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going room by room, cleaning, purging, donating and organizing, and it’s been refreshing. The sweet volunteer at my local Salvation Army knows me by name.


The “after” picture. The “before” picture didn’t make it because a pile of blankets fell on top of me when I opened the door.

The name of the game … simplify. Ironically, my mom heard a message in church recently around happiness – and that it does not come from materialistic items. I’d venture to guess those with less are happier than those with more.

As I stack up the donation piles with things gone unused for months, even years, I find myself cleaning out my thoughts. Holding on to things we don’t need can be a tough habit to break, but an immature one to keep. As I prepare for Easter, I’m reminded of what’s recorded that Christ owned. A true minimalist who spent his spare time, outside of carpenter work, and likely all of his money, traveling around spreading the Good News.

Life sure comes a lot easier with less choices. My hope is that something as small as creating less choices on what to wear will free up a few extra minutes each morning to maintain my commitment to read the Bible.

What are you cleaning out this Spring?

For the love

I used to despise reading assignments followed up with book report assignments in middle and high school. To the point where [confession time] I would just skim a few chapters and create a crafty ‘review’ honing in on only the content I knew I could speak to if the teacher asked any follow-up questions.

Isn’t it ironic himg_8436ow we change as we grow up? Now, I’m about to tell you three reasons why you need to stop whatever it is you are doing, pull up Amazon and order Jen Hatmaker’s For the Lovemid read!

No. 3
Run your race. After reading 10 chapters, this is the best way I can describe the underlined theme of this book. Hatmaker is spicy, witty and has no shame calling out the absurdities we face in America as working women, wives, moms and Christians. She does us all a favor and says, in black ink, what we all silently think and burry deep down in fear of neglect or rejection from society, and then tells us why it’s absolutely insane to cave into the nonsense [and by golly we might be overworked, overtired, overstimulated moms but we are not insane]. Sometimes, ok a lot of times, you just need a good book to remind you of this lesson.

No. 2
School-aged mamas, this one’s for you. We’re six months away from our oldest entering kindergarten, but all three attend a ‘mom’s day out’ type of place three days a week. Hatmaker’s Surviving School chapter had me in tears. If you need to pull yourself out of the educational freenzie for a breath, hardy laugh and a reminder that if your child doesn’t like you all the time, you are doing a darn good job, this one’s for you! Here’s a sneak peek:

“Moms, I can barely speak of what Pintrest has done to us here. Between bento boxes with sandwiches cut into the shape of dolphins leaping into a sea of kale, and spraying our kids’ feet with lemon essential oils to soothe their troubles, I just can’t even …”

No. 1
Three words … THANK YOU NOTES. Yes, the Jimmy Fallon kind, only mommy-ized. Let me dangle two carrots in front of you, because one of these entries simply won’t suffice.

“Thank you obvious warning labels. Without you I might have stuck my kid in a washing machine, lit a match near an open gas line, used my hair dryer while sleeping, or, God forbid, not realized eggs may contain – wait for it – eggs. I have no idea how I ever functioned without you. (I almost ingested the contents of a lava lamp just yesterday, but your label made another quick save. God bless.)”

“Thank you, Miss ‘Could you bring me these pants in a size 2?’for finding the dressing room adjacent to mine no matter when or where I try on clothes. You keep me humble. I also appreciate hearing how my size shirt ‘swallows you.’ And yes, we all know how ‘cold you are in here’ without any natural insulation. Eat a sandwich.”


Moms gone Waco

Between the two of us, we have seven children, all under age 10. So when an opportunity for a single-day, moms-only trip to Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market Silos presented itself … you better believe your shiplap me and one of my besties, V, took it!

Fifteen hours and 350 miles later, it’s safe to say we created some memories to last a lifetime.

Let’s start with a PSA … do NOT stay in a Temple hotel directly off of IH-35. Can you say Breaking Bad?! After five minutes on the hotel property, that shall remain nameless, we were darting back to our car. I’m not sure if it was the man from the streets roaming around the rooms when we first pulled up, the front desk associate asking for the make and model of my car, or the fact that the entire property, inside and out, looked like it belonged on a murder/detective show, but we gladly donated our hotel fee and – V’s pillow – and never looked back.


After making it to Waco safe and sound, we settled in to a much safer hotel and slept in … until SEVEN A.M.! Can’t tell you the last time that happened.


By 8 a.m. we were on our way to the Silos ready to enjoy a breakfast treat from the Bakery.

After we parked a block away, we heard a train coming. It was picturesque of the small, quaint town and something I’m sure the HGTV production crew would have loved to capture. An old train rolling through downtown with the Silos in the background. By the time we realized the train was on the tracks that were 10 yards in front of us, it gave us just enough time to sprint across before we got stopped by the railroad crossing gate. Someone give be a cinnamon roll already.

Ahhhh, the Silos. V put it best – it’s an adult Disney Land. Everyone is ridiculous friendly, and genuinely happy to work there and have you visiting. From the moment you step on the property you can’t help but notice the details – a signature trait of Joanna Gaines. The music magically makes the crowd seem tolerable, the market’s setup attracts camera phones of all types snapping away ideas for homes across the country, and the outdoor space allows for swinging, lounging, eating, running kicking and throwing.

An hour-ish later, we headed to visit Harp Design Co. located in a small but sweet location or a residential area where you can hear him – or someone from his team – working in the back.


Then, it was back toward the Silos to visit The Findery – an adorable shop filled with home goods, furniture, light fixtures and apparel.

Downtown Waco is charming. You can’t help but notice the architecture of the old buildings – many with stain glass. We grabbed lunch from a BBQ food truck at the Silos and then headed back to San Antonio – but not before buying a few cupcakes for the road which are worth every penny of their $3.50 price!

A Rodeo Surprise

It’s been well over 20 years since I’ve been to a rodeo. I mean the real rodeo – not just the grounds and carnival portion. Last night, I ventured out with our two oldest kiddos – J and M – to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo to watch the real deal.

We were able to see some live stock and enjoy several carnival rides for a few hours before the big show. Once we climbed to the top of the AT&T Center – yes, climbed, with a three and five-year old – we settled in our seats just in time to watch the grand entry.


Dozens of beautiful horses nailed the opening choreographed number with cowboys and cowgirls leading them around the pin proudly carrying American and Texas flags. It was military night – so the MC proudly recognized military men and women in attendance followed by the unthinkable. An opening prayer!  Ya’ll, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rode kicks off their event – where people from around the world, yes world, come to compete – with a prayer, praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Chills bolted through every cell of my body. Pride and grace flooded my eyes in the form of water. I wish there was a way to explain in words the way I felt at that moment last night.

Every day I see and hear  disrespect and hate spewing from the mouths and fingers of my fellow Americans – most on TV and the internet – and some days, it’s enough to make me wonder if we will ever, as a united country, come back to Christ. But, last night I was filled with hope that I had lost. Never would I have thought a large, public event would be so bold as to pray first and then honor the country where God purposely put us. A place that allows that kind of public praise, provides freedoms of all kinds and supports healthy competition for men and women.

The rodeo itself was phenomenal. My favorite events were the bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull racing. These men are legitimately insane. To willingly get on the most athletic, bucking horses and bulls to see how long you can hang on in the proper position requires some big cojones! If you live near a town that holds a rodeo I strongly encourage you to attend. It’s an incredible experience.

I definitely plan to support this event, which supports our family’s beliefs, every year. Kudos to you, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, for being bold!


Pancakes and Halles

You know that time the best breakfast spot in town decided to build a barn-inspired reception hall next door? Ya, me either. Until today. I stumbled upon my future front door at the most adorable, and likely newest, event Halle in San Antonio!


If you live in or around San Antonio you should be very familiar with the infamous Magnolia Pancake Haus. Just two short months ago, they opened up the Magnolia Halle right next to their Huebner location.

With its warm, Texas, rustic-inspired theme, you might have thought you landed in a surrounding city like Hondo or Castroville. The large windows around the venue, floor-to-ceiling white rock gas fireplace, iron accents and barn-style bathroom doors make you want to kick up your cowboy boots and get ready to party at a country-chic wedding reception.

Kudos to the local pancake masters for making this bold and smart business move. I foresee the venue booking up very fast! And if you haven’t done so already, try out their jambalaya omelet … it’s a household favorite!

Why? Because I love you.

If you’ve ever been a mom of a toddler, you might recall the Why? stage. Yep. I see you baby boomers grinning. And millennials cringing. With every adult question or statement, a high-pitched Why? follows.

My ever-so-sweet three year old girl, who happens to be the middle child, started down the Why? path several months back. This is our second time around, though. And with age, comes experience, right?

It recently dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, there is a better answer to the Why? questions beyond truth and logic. Because, let’s just be real, no matter how simply and factually you try to answer their sweet, innocent, wide-eyed selves, they ALWAYS follow up with, yet another, Why?

I swear, I don’t want to be one of those because I said so parents. But after the 17th Why? I no longer have the desire to create an educational moment, my blood pressure has sky rocketed, shoulders are tense and I’ve completely forgot the original topic of discussion.

M – our middle child neck-deep into the Why? phase would be the toughest of our three children to test my new response mechanism on – so I went for it.

Mommy, can I have another cake?*



Here it goes …. eyes locked in on her, huge grin on my face ….

Because, I love you.

Confused look. Silence.


I mean, what can a child say to that? They know at a young age that we as parents love them to pieces. So they simply can’t ask you why you love them – well they could, but don’t tell them that. We’ll see how long this lasts …

*I cannot promote good nutritional habits without explaining why my three-year old is asking for another cake. I use mini silicon cupcake holders to host bite-size chocolate peanut butter cups from the 100 Days of Real Food cook book. Ingredients include 100% pure maple syrup, 100% cocoa baking bar, natural peanut butter or almond butter and almond milk – no refined sugars!

Lunch line to stove top

As a kid, I always brought my lunch to school. In fact, we were an in-home-cooking type of family. Nothing ever really fancy, but pretty healthy. I remember the high school cafeteria lunch menus consisting of milk cartons, pizza and corn dogs. Yuck.

It appears healthy is back trending. Thank goodness.

We’re paying close attention to what we are fueling our bodies with these days, but with a busy schedule I need meal preps and cook times to be quick and easy. So, last night, I threw together a meal inspired by a build-your-own-pasta line in my employer’s cafeteria.

While recently doing a 10-day detox with my fellow Juice Plus health nuts, I would grab some chicken and veggies sautéed in garlic, olive oil and pesto and leave out the pasta [wheat + gluten is not allowed during the detox]. It was delicious.

I took the lunch-line recipe to the stove top with a twist. Slice and dice whatever veggies Brown_Rice_Vegetable_Pastayou have [ours included spinach, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini squash], while you saute some olive oil, pesto, onions and garlic over medium heat. Throw in the veggies and saute for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, boil some brown-rice gluten-free pasta and drain. Mix it all together with a splash of tomato basil sauce and top with feta or goat cheese.Voila! 

A fast, easy meal with 100 percent clean foods – just the way your body likes it!

An inner voice

It’s back to bloggin I go. For a several years, I stayed faithful to writing about our growing family’s adventures, inner thoughts and observations. After taking a 25-month hiatus, I’ve decided to return to online journaling, 2.0.

During my blogging sabbatical, God blessed us with a third child. As full-time working parents with three young children, it’s safe to assume life is busy. We aren’t one for making New Year’s resolutions, but in the New Year, my husband mentioned wanting to dedicate more time to reading. And I agreed. So, I did the unthinkable – I deactivated my Facebook account. Gasp!

After less thanmagnolia_story_book two weeks of going off the [Facebook] grid, I’ve finished my first book of the New Year. And it was the perfect way to kick off 2017. Chip and Joanna Gaines remind each of us to listen to that inner voice – the Holy Spirit – and go after your dreams.

During my time reading The Magnolia Story I heard, saw and encountered God. And He very kindly showed me, what I believe are, some of his desires for our family.

Not to mention, one of my favorite blog sites – Coffee and Crumbs – shared a little inspiration on Instagram encouraging mamas to make time for what you love to do, every day. So … here we go again!

What are you aspiring to do this year?