My name is Nicole, and I am so grateful you are here. My husband and I started The Marshmallow Monkey in 2010 as a way to share our creativity with others. Long before our sweet little store, we dreamed up a name after our kids’ nicknames. For the longest time I really wanted to have a bakery, but home decor is where we landed. We bought our first store in Franklin, Indiana in 2010.
Imagine the most darling Hallmark movie scene and that’s where our home decor store started. As our little store grew, so did my passion for interior design and homemaking. My husband Brandon helped breathe life into my dream with the intention of just having a side hustle to my full time healthcare executive career. I wanted to channel my inner furniture refinisher, floral designer, interior decorator and all-around inner Martha Stewart.
We started with a small 750 square foot retail store and in a few short years took on renovating and restoring historic buildings in our hometown, growing our store into one of our building projects; an old feed and seed store. Over time, the store and renovation projects grew, we were approached by production companies long before Chip and Joanna were the famous fixer-uppers. We declined, we didn’t want to be in the spotlight THAT much. With so much hustle and bustle, we finally took a step back in 2019, sold the store and moved to our farm where we slowly sunset our store to focus more on family—we literally turned our farm store (barn) into an in-law barndominium. After overcoming a cancer scare, and illness, our priorities shifted and I now share my love for all things home here on the blog. My intention was never really to grow a store; it was more about connecting people with my love for design sharing ideas to create a beautiful home.
Check in here to see how I blend found objects, vintage treasures, classic home staples and a shmidge of things only my grandma inspired me to love.
If you miss the days of The Marshmallow Monkey, here is where you can find me in all my creative glory; in the new season of our journey.
I won’t be far, drop a line on Facebook or Instagram. We love hearing from you!
Cheers to 2021
2020 reminded me of a bad movie. You know, the ones where an entire city was isolate, no daily hustle and bustle and feeling a bit like we are all on house arrest without even incurring a legal infraction. It’s been a year of learning, priority-setting, fear, uncertainty, grief and letting go. Letting go of what we knew was our normal. With this has had a few hidden gifts that often times were overshadowed by a myriad of emotions simultaneously hitting at once.
Work from home, click lists, remote learning and rethinking livelihood bring new perspectives and insights and a few small wins. T.V. is rarely on anymore in our house. We are trying to have more face-to-face conversations. Enabling the kiddos to actually talk, not text or hide behind a screen filled with varying degrees of information, truth, images. They have been feeling isolated, uncertain, unsteady and wondering when the gravity of 2020 will be over.
On the business front, we have dreamed up so many alternate business plans; many of which would be great to launch. But we are pausing, taking in all of the variables and trying to focus on what’s important. That’s so hard as an entrepreneur because we want to just keep going at full throttle. Our kids, the family and our health remain front and center as we sort out our purpose and what to do next.
The pause with working from home has been a blessing (because I get to work with my dogs and kids by my side). It’s also been a bit of a curse because the beginning and the end of a workday seem to blur between wondering what day of the week it actually is; sometimes what time it is. We have had plenty of time to get in our own heads about our life, our work and our purpose; as have I. It’s hard people. And I feel it too.
As the clock hit midnight on December 31st, I think we all, in our altered states of reality thought the fairy god mother was going to wave her wand with pixie dust and 2021 would usher in some new chakra. Well…. here we are and the 7-day trial isn’t feeling like a great start to the new year.
We’ve been busy reimagining our existence and how we can stay relevant. Motivation feels a little slow on the uptick as we all try to weather the next few months to a hopeful new year. Bear with us as we navigate our new norm.
We think of you all often, miss our in-store chats and hearing about your families. We miss the friendships and are keeping everyone on our hearts, and we pray that everyone stays healthy and happy. Our messenger is always on. Drop a line and say hello, we’d love to hear from you ❤
Cheers to a hopeful 2021.
Born to Create
I remember sitting in my third grade classroom when the teacher went around the room and asked each person what we wanted to be when we grow up. I was somewhat shy, but bold when asked and confidently said “Martha Stewart.” It’s funny to me, at such an early age; I knew in my heart what God made me for. But I wasn’t ready yet.
Society today has put a huge burden on people to become “successful” and show to the world they have “made it”. We watch business owners fret about how many Facebook followers they have, how well the stock market is performing, how many online sales they have, if they make a certain amount of money each day or if they are “Instagram Influencer”-worthy. Truth is, that definition of success won’t even begin to make any of us happy.
What were you born to create?
This past week we have been doing a lot of strategic planning, not at a board room table, but on roller coasters at King’s Island; literally. We don’t step away much and shut off the business because as entrepreneurs our livelihood counts on our business doing well and keeping our customers engaged.Customers don’t realize that all day long we are fielding messages via Facebook, Instagram messages, email, phone calls, online order fulfillment, delivery schedules, product pick-up times and even text messages from customers who need or want something from us. We don’t get many hours, much less days to really shut it off. But that’s okay because we are creating relationships and friends along the way.
Can you believe that this is a picture of the first time in over 6 years of owning a business we had a few hours to spare to take our kids to a theme park? It stunned us that 6 years went by so fast. This was the literal discussion as the click-tick-click-tick sounds of the Beast hauled us to the top of the peak. As we took the plunge down the hill at 60+ miles an hour, and heard the kids squealing and laughing in the car in front of us, Brandon and I looked at each other realizing we hadn’t even taken time for our family in 6 years. Aside from a vacation here and there we had really done nothing. And every vacation that we managed to escape to had some type of complicated real estate transaction consuming the whole trip… every single time. Don’t even ask.
So, 12 years ago when I was comfortably making a generous living as a corporate healthcare executive, I longed for something more meaningful that allowed my inner Martha Stewart to emerge. She was always there, even on the weekends and evenings at home cooking, gardening, making little crafts with my kids. It actually was the best of both worlds, but I wanted the one without the complexity of office politics and stressful deadlines causing my gray hair to multiply by the hour. Why did I stick with it? I was scared, unsure, insecure with myself and afraid of giving up my corporate stature and identity. It’s all I knew.
There was a lot of reflection on these evenings making bakery-worthy cupcakes, painting salvaged furniture for our home and picking blooms from our manicured backyard to make floral arrangements for the neighbors. God gave me the gift of creativity in a variety of mediums. Despite being very talented in art, I pursued nursing as my career; it was what smart people do and I was led to believe art would never be a route that would make a good living. What I didn’t recognize at the time was I was already being called to create, but I was going to have to muddle through several years of work and jobs, challenges, obstacles and heartache to reveal what I already knew in third grade. He even was about to allow the unseen reality of entrepreneurship prepare us for the next phase of the journey that was underway— hindsight is always 20/20.
Sometimes the view from the top of the Beast will reveal some valuable lessons to you about life. It was affirmation this week that happiness isn’t something a hefty paycheck will buy you and it certainly won’t fill that calling to do what you were born to do.
Creatives….we make things. I have created some killer pies in my day, I have managed to create a garden specific to all of our food sensitivities, I have created websites and project lists that never end. I have created beautifully finished furniture and perfectly designed living rooms. But most importantly, I have created inspiration for others to draw from, created tiny humans that have a better perspective of serving others and channeling their own creativity. You have this gift too, but you have to find it along the journey sometimes. It will reveal itself one nugget at a time until you know. Be on the lookout, it can sneak up on you sometimes.
People ask us all the time what it’s like to work with your spouse. We have had a really great run. Brandon has single-handedly embraced my insane ideas to restore buildings we owned. He somehow has managed to interpret my ideas I throw at him ten times better than I can even imagine. He can create the most organized process for anything (thank goodness, because I cannot). But all of these individual talents don’t work on their own, we need each other. Brandon and I have created our dream together; something neither of us could do alone. What we have created was NOT a store. It wasn’t a place where people just came to buy furniture, gifts, or collectables. We created a place where people came for just a brief moment where time allowed our customers and friends to just get away, talk about life, share ministry with us, AND allow us precious time created by being with family right where we work. THIS is what we were called to create. It’s friendship, fellowship, ministry and community.
Were you born to create or make? Have you been considering starting a business? Do you have a hobby or side hustle you love, but aren’t yet ready to take the leap? Do you have a friend who is crazy-talented but just hasn’t done anything with it? We just want to be inspiration for others to find their reason to create.
Get after it.
The Quick Fix
Hey ya’ll! Tune in right here to see all things home, health and happiness. Each week we plan to share something DIY home, something related to health or ways to create happiness in your home. So our first project is our dining room makeover. This is something you can do too. Want an easier hack than repainting layers of primer and paint to cover up a really dark color? Have lots of woodwork that you don’t want to paint, but feel like your room is weighed down and feels dark? We understand!! Follow along here for our quick tips to inexpensively update your space.
Anyone ever feel like there isn’t enough time in a day to just do life, much less redoing a room? Don’t panic. This can be done in one day. We moved into our farmhouse late October 2018. Because life comes before buffalo check, we didn’t start any updating until three weeks ago.
The colors throughout the house are actually time-period to the style of the house, but the primitive colors were much too dark for our taste. We have officially begun the process of lightening everything up. Our go-to paint color is Gracious Griege by Sherwin Williams. Good news is it plays nice with EVERYTHING. But, the down side was we knew it was going to take several coats to cover up the dark wine color on the wall in the dining room. And…I really wanted to wallpaper buffalo check because we all know, it’s so darn cute.
There’s a ton of woodwork in the house. If we had our way about it, it would be white, but a lot of it was milled from the trees on the property and we don’t dare cover that up. That further justified going the wallpaper route because who wants to trim paint around all of that? Full disclosure; the wallpaper and paint were going to cost about the same amount by the time we put three coats on the wall, so think about it, you can go right over the dark color with light wallpaper and have instant gratification without the headache of painting inside the lines.
The dining room has wood paneling 2/3 the way up the wall, so the paper was only going to cover 1/3 of the area. This was great on the cost front, but it also allowed us to do a bigger print and it wouldn’t look too busy. We opted for a buffalo check that from a distance looked lighter and up close it looks like pencil lines. This is a more modern interpretation of the check pattern that we think will outlast the trend.
Function is important to us and it should be in your space too. We can take the canvas covers off the chairs and throw them in the wash. The vinyl rug can be mopped and our metal chairs can be wiped down.
Greenery is like a cherry on the top of a sundae. We threw two boxwood wreaths on the built-ins just to add some symmetry and color. A couple of mini wreaths are centered in our tobacco baskets (rectangular baskets, not square, because we are so not square people). Real touch tulips line the center of the dining room table in a ball jar holder. Simple. Livable. Light.
Bloom Where You Are Planted
The violets are in bloom nestled in the mile high grass after all this rain. There’s no way we are alone in wishing for sunshine and warmer weather. Just like seasons in our life, we often have a Pinterest-perfect image in our mind as to what our life should look like, and somehow we know we’re not alone in thinking there is no way real life looks remotely close to that Instgram picture. Lord knows, ours doesn’t either.
Brandon and I have had a wild six years. We have moved our home four times in six years proving that we are certifiably crazy. Lots of things have happened that people looking from the outside in have not seen. It’s important to say out loud that our journey hasn’t been a walk in the park. It’s gritty,it’s littered with road blocks, speed bumps and less-than-picturesque moments that have brought us to this very moment in time.Do you feel like you can relate? Take a breath, it’s going to be okay.
Just the other day, I found myself walking over to the barn; you know, top knot, no makeup, looking like a hot mess express; and realizing for the first time in six years what it was like to actually hear the birds around us. Brandon was busy trying to beat the next rain cloud and getting the grass cut when I waved him down and said not to cut the grass this area where a sweet little patch of wild violets had covered the ground. Now, for the past six years we trampled thousands of violets in life’s hurry to the next thing. We haven’t really stopped and listened to the birds or witnessed the trees budding right before our eyes. So in this not-so-picturesque moment I was having with my red boots on (probably hideous socks too), I had this epiphany of really being present right where we are. Not looking forward or backward, worrying about what other people think but really being rooted in life, right now…right here in all of it’s imperfect glory.
I was timing the lawnmower loop as I plucked as many of those violets as I could before Brandon came back around on the mower to that grassy (and violet filled) patch. I couldn’t help but remember picking mini bouquets of violets for my grandma and she would perch them on her window ledges in sweet little mini vases. In my moment of throw-back, I was determined to have mini vases of violets. I ran as fast as I could to beat the lawn mower to grab some miniature beakers; it was the closest thing. Mission Accomplished.
Full disclosure, I also went into total Martha Stewart mode and made violet ice cubes, an ice ring with violets and threw a few in a spring salad. Yes. They are edible. What I love the most about this is that it didn’t cost a thing. Simple pleasures can sometimes be right under your feet and sometimes just lost in the shuffle of life. Soak it up, it’s what will make your heart smile. And, that my friend, is something no Instagram picture or Pinterest board will ever perfectly capture. Get out there and take it in, life is way too short not to bloom where you are planted.
Flowers are an easy way to add a pop of color and creativity to your drinks. Whether it’s water, lemonade or a cocktail, chilling the beverage with flower ice cubes couldn’t be easier. But not all flowers should be floating around in your drinks.
Even if a flower is edible, the way it’s grown needs to be considered. If the source of the flowers is unknown, then so is the use of types of pesticides and fertilizers on them. Choose organically grown flowers, find a local grower and ask how the flowers are grown, or grow flowers to use in ice cubes or other culinary uses. For ice cubes, try one of these nine flowers.
Marigolds:Marigolds are easy to grow, so these may be where to start if you’re planning to grow edible flowers for ice cubes. They’re workhorses in the garden, attracting pollinators and repelling insects that can attack some vegetables so they’re useful outside and inside.
Lavender: Lavender ice cubes don’t have to go in lavender-flavored drinks. They can go in any drink. Try adding a teaspoon of lavender to your iced tea. With 6 regular sized tea bags steeping, add a teaspoon of lavender. Once ready you can keep the lavender in the tea or strain it out. Pour over ice.
Hibiscus: These pretty flowers need the stamens and insides removed before going into the ice cube tray. Use the ice cubes in Jamaican Hibiscus Tea or put them in a glass pitcher full of water so the color is visible
Pansies: Pansies can be blue, orange, yellow, purple, various shades of red and white. Imagine the colorful ice cubes a variety of pansies would make.
Dandelions: dandelions are not weeds — they’re completely edible. Put them in ice cubes whole or pull individual petals off and sprinkle them in the cube trays before adding the water.
Cornflowers:Cornflower ice cubes would be a great addition to July Fourth celebrations. Like hibiscus, pull the insides out of these flowers before using them in ice cubes. They bloom in late spring and early summer, so think ice cubes for a 4th of July celebration, pairing them with white and red flowers.
Begonias: Begonias grow well in containers. A hanging basket or a pot by the back door mean flowers for ice cubes are always in reach during their growing season.
Common Daisies: Also known as English daisies, the whole flower can go into the cube tray or the petals alone.
Roses:Miniature roses are just as edible as full size roses, so either can be used in ice cubes. The mini roses can fit whole into an ice cube tray. Pluck the petals from full size roses and use a few in each ice cube.
- I use a variety of objects to make ice cubes. The most obvious is using an ice cube tray. Think about what you will be serving; a drink, punch, cocktail, etc. If you are having lemonade, consider throwing in a few raspberries, blueberries or strawberries in with your violets. It adds color and fruit infusion to your everyday lemonade.
- Use distilled water instead of straight tap water. Your cubes will be crystal clear.
- If you are hosting a shower, or luncheon, consider making an ice cube ring that can be made with a bundt pan and placed in a punch bowl. Same rules apply with fruit or other flowers you can include in your ice ring. This just adds a level of pretty to your punch.
- Some other fun containers that work are miniature bundt pans, candy tins, or anything that is freezer safe and shapes that can be made into ice cubes.
- Did you know basil is a garnish that tastes amazing in gin and tonic? Try freezing basil in the cubes and pour your everyday gin and tonic over for a new twist on a summer favorite.
Grandpas, Gardening and Tomatoes
Grandpa always said in gardening, a crop grown in the same field year after year wouldn’t yield successful crops. We too believe a soil change is good. And, metaphorically, that’s what we have been up to for the last few years.
Here’s grandpa in 1926 at age 6 picking cucumbers with his wagon. Farming, growing things and family have been a staple in our lives from the beginning.
The last six years have been the best and most consuming journey of our lives. The crazy-good support we have had from the community, our customers, friends and family is overwhelming. The time has come for our soil to be churned up a bit. True to our roots all along, anyone who really knows us, also knows we have wanted a farm for a long time. And we bought one in September.
Since our humble beginning 2012 on Jefferson Street, we have grown unbelievably fast thanks to our loyal friends and customers. When we began this journey, our goal was to simplify our life and slow down our crazy world filled with two full time jobs, chaotic sports schedules and lots of corporate travel. Our kids were just beginning middle school and life seemed to be speeding up, even as we were trying to slow it down.
What’s most important to us is to continue to be a small part of each person’s story where they are in their journey. We also want to testify that God is most definitely using us as a way to serve others. So our sweet little version of a farm began planting roots in mid October moving our family, with a vision of planting our pumpkins, and seeding our flowers and living a bit off-the-grid.
Keep up with us here to share in our ever-evolving story. This has been a dream come true thanks to all of the love and support of our monkey followers, friends and family.