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"The Magnolia Story" Book Discussion and Easy Pecan Pie Bites Recipe

I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.



Stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper have finally written a book together about how America’s darling couple survive Chip’s crazy antics, a farm full of animals, four kids, a flipping business, and a tv show, all the while still loving each other and even finding joy in the stresses of life. This autobiography takes us back to meet young Chip, the high school football star who learned business sense from a master, beginning with a lawn mowing business. Joanna, meanwhile, worked at her father’s tire company, and as a child received a lot of scorn for looking so different from the others, something which is hard to imagine with the beauty and fashion sense she so unwittingly carries. But this story tells us where she learned to fashion houses to make them more than just beautiful, to turn them into a home where children can play and people live real lives full of joy. Learn her secrets to overcoming hard life lessons in this encouraging story about Magnolia and the wisdom of Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Jo asked the question on their first day of filming, “Why would anyone even want to watch us on tv”? What’s your answer, and what part did Chip’s boat idea from the pilot play in securing them a tv series?
  2. Chip admitted to not knowing any more about interior design than Joanna. “I would just get my hands dirty and figure it out. Everything I did was that way.” How did that prove very true for him, and the opposite for Joanna? How did that philosophy enable him to take risks she wouldn’t have and overall improve their knowledge and skills?
  3. Why do Chip and Jo find a physical job like this so rewarding? What are some of the benefits they mentioned?
  4. What happened with Joanna in New York that made her faith deeper and more personal than ever? How did she used to think about God, and how does she view Him now?
  5. How did some of the major events of their marriage and career work out “in that perfectly messy way life works when you trust in God and His plans for your life rather than focusing on your own”? What were some of the disappointments they “had to learn to manage” to get there?
  6. Why did Joanna think that “sometimes we know ourselves a lot better than we think we do when we’re children”? How did her ideas and inspirations as a child become her adult goals and achievements? Was the same true for Chip?
  7. How was it a major breakthrough for Jo when she realized design needed to be functional for her family, not just a beautiful show house, and that i it wasn’t, then she was failing?
  8. How did the Gaines shift from surviving to thriving, even in the midst of pain? What did they say about getting intentions right and what that can do for our lives and perspectives?

The Recipe

Pecans grow in the backyard of the Gaines' beloved final home, and the young boys helped Chip harvest them in an episode of Fixer Upper. To incorporate this food with all the warm goodness we associate with the Magnolia story, a recipe for Buttery Pecan Pie Bites was chosen.

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  • 2 boxes frozen pie crust, defrosted to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp golden dessert syrup, or honey
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Easy Buttery Pecan Pie Bites



  1. Allow pie crust to come to room temperature. Remove from packaging and gently roll it out onto a floured surface. Spray a mini muffin pan with 100% pure olive oil spray and preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut your crust into rounds using a small child’s size cup (about 4-6 oz). Layer each one over the holes in the muffin tin and press down gently with your fingers. There might be a little overlapping. If so, just press the layers together to make a bigger cavity for the filling.
  2. When you’ve cut all you can out of the dough, roll it into a ball, then roll it out thinly (just like it was before, you can use the cut rounds as a thickness measure) like cookie dough and recut into circles with the cup, until you’ve used all the dough from both boxes. If you have more rounds than your pan will allow, just bake in batches.
  3. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, syrups, eggs, and vanilla. Put about a tablespoon and a half of the chopped pecans in each pie crust circle in the muffin tins first, so they will be covered with the filling last. Don’t worry, the pecans will float to the top during baking (and if you have extra pecans, you can use them later to top ice cream!).
  4. Drizzle the melted butter/syrup mixture over the chopped pecans, just enough to fill each cup. Bake for 22-24 minutes. Allow to cool five to ten minutes before removing from the pan. Carefully use a thin, small metal spatula to help you if needed.

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This Life I Live: One Man's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever by Rory Feek is about a man’s deep love for his wife and music partner, and how she was diagnosed with and lost a battle to cancer.

Better Than New: Lessons I've Learned from Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me) is a book by Nicole Curtis of the DIY Network show Rehab Addict, and contains many of the same themes and struggles of the Gaines’ story.

Steven Curtis Chapman has a newly released autobiography called Between Heaven & the Real World: My Story about the many trials and joys he’s endured during a decades-long career in the Christian music industry.

Tim Tebow wrote an autobiography called Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms.

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