Seasons of Change

The wheels were up and we were en route to Las Vegas for our annual buying trip. I think it was the first time we had actually exhaled and sat still long enough to breathe in and reflect on the last year and the amazing journey we have been given to experience. It’s mind numbing at times to even fathom the pace by which we do what we do. It’s fun, exhausting and more clear than ever that our life has led us to this very moment.

I had made it halfway through The Magnolia Story by the end of the flight and poked Brandon almost the entire flight reflecting how very similar their journey is to the one we are on. Different, yet the same. Behind every success story is struggle; it’s never as perfect as the world sees it. Our story includes many “go? No-go?” moments like a game of Monopoly.

Even in the last year, we had so many plans and ideas to expand our business, but we were met with struggles. Not the usual kind that people would expect in a small business. We decided to move above the store in September after out-of-the-blue, someone walked up to us and offered to buy our house. Mind you, this is right as our holiday season ramped up. Brandon had been off-and-on sick for a year and finally was told he had lung cancer. So, as if him working a full time job, entering into our busiest season in history, moving (without the energy to do renovations) and ruling out that Brandon didn’t actually have cancer, the house deal fell through. Exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. And it sometimes makes you question the purpose of this journey. “Is it right, is it right now?”

So here we were, moved into an almost finished apartment, the HVAC had been installed incorrectly. It was a constant 80 degrees due to the hot fall season, and a lingering sickness perpetuated by a misdiagnosis made for a miserable transition. It was a living nightmare, actually. That’s like an eternity when you are trying to keep your Monopoly pieces in play.

Overwhelmed, we made it through the holiday season. Breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t going to have to close the store, or worse, lose Brandon to a battle of lung cancer. (When you are whisked into see a panel of cancer doctors in less than 24 hours, your life flashes before you and you make a conscious decision to make all that can’t be counted, count.)

We dusted ourselves off and managed to pick up where we left off in July of 2016; dreaming up our next adventure. We had always dreamed of real estate and renovating old buildings, but we certainly didn’t have that on the radar screen yet. Murphey’s Law, that’s when God nudges you and takes you on a detour from the original path.

That real estate dream ramped up when we created our own real estate holding company, Nicoloff Properties, after being called to buy the old Spears Auto Parts store. Yes, an auto parts store. At the time, we planned to buy that building and open another business, but we had no idea that it wasn’t our time. Just like Chip and Joanna often were faced with was a turn of “the season” as they called it, we faced the reality that it wasn’t our time. Sometimes the season is ripe and aligns for the next phase of the journey and sometimes it reveals a higher order purpose. Like an auto parts store? Yes.

Nudging Brandon upon landing in Indianapolis, I said “maybe we aren’t supposed to buy this old auto parts store, it may not be our time?” Did I mention the closing was in less than 12 hours after landing? He said, “well we will know in the morning, because the humdinger is always at the 11th hour” (Meaning, some crazy kink in the plan, an unexpected turn of events, heck, an illness?) We had endured plenty of those turns in the previous months.

Keeping our hearts open and our ear ready to hear affirmation or some sign that this was part of a higher order plan, the bank called to confirm our closing details and told us “We’ve never seen in the history of banking; a closing cost like this.” Our hearts sank, thinking there had been some miscalculation and that the secret prayer I made on that plane was somehow going to sting with confirmation this deal was a no-go…Our banker said, “It’s 53.00”. That’s right, fifty-three dollars. Shocked, in a good way, we knew we were destined to make this old building new again, not yet sure why.

Our passion has always been to fix more old buildings, create a sweet little bakery and expand to include a more modern version of our store catering to uptown living, but not in the order it was about to unfold. That sweet bakery dream was as early as the name Marshmallow Monkey 5 years ago, believe it or not.

Hours after reflecting this crazy ride, we completed purchase of the Spears building and we were excited to begin fixing the old building, discovering historic details and breathing new life into that old livery and stable. We had gone as far as dreaming up a new name for it after our kids; Blaise Ashton and Olivia Grace (Ashton & Grace). We rendered a drawing, we had a dedication brick made with their names engraved on them for the opening…and that’s when the season changes, and you realize it’s not time.

We realized it wasn’t our time, it wasn’t the season. Now, it’s not all doom and gloom because the very friends of ours at Center For Global Impact and byTavi who bought our old store, faced the same growing pains and outgrew the same little shop we did. We all had shared our excitement in their growth and they were looking to relocate their boutique and  their global operations. They wanted to stay in Franklin, but buildings were few and far between. S0, through a series of conversations, we knew it was their season, their time and God was calling us to lend a hand.

It brought new meaning to the scripture we had engraved on that brick that was supposed to be in the new building at the beginning of this journey; Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope for the future.” And the story that evolved from there is so surreal, it’s hard to write it in one entry. But let’s just say affirmation sometimes comes in the sweetest little package; sometimes an auto parts store, sometimes a bakeshop (yes, a bakeshop).

That’s when it hit us that our little bakeshop is not only for our customers but it’s a little dream our son has always had. It’s not about us, it’s not about doing something that has already been done, it was about making our smart, gifted, son’s dream come to life. We want our kids to find the passion to live in the season, take the call when nudged and know when the season is right for their dreams. His is to be a chef. He too, has been faced with adversity and challenges, so we are focused on helping him make his little dream come to life, and showing him the way.

So the lesson learned is while the onlookers see one perspective, ours is to share that the season is here, and it’s not ours, it’s to serve others which is so much more delicious for us. Stay tuned as our journey keeps taking interesting turns. Like, really curvy ones.

We will keep doing what people have come to love, but growing at the same time. So as the wheels dropped on return from Vegas, I flipped the final page of the Magnolia Story to realize we too, have a story brewing and its an incredibly humbling and remarkable one, littered with so many ah-ha moments that we want to share. But for now, God is giving us this opportunity to build the story that is to be told. And this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ, Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


With heart-felt love and best wishes to byTavi,


Brandon, Nicole and the monkeys (Blaise & Olivia)


Decorate your holiday table the DIY way.

Holiday dinners can be daunting for some, but we have the perfect DIY solution to making your holiday dinner table look like a million bucks for under $30. We love to mix old and new items to create cozy living spaces. Found objects, vintage heirlooms, salvage finds and new styles can be mixed  to create the perfect dinner table for anyone. See what we shared on-air with Indy Style here.

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Here’s the list of supplies you will need:

  • Brown craft paper can be found in the painter’s aisle at Lowes for about $4.00 or you can buy it  by the foot at United Art and Education.
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape or Scotch brand glitter tape (I found mine at Office Max on sale for $3.00 and it took two rolls to frame my placemats)
  • Holiday plates and napkins (they can be paper or fine china; or anything in between)
  • Vintage music sheets, comic books, magazines to be used as placemats (I found mine at a vintage store, but I bet your grandma has some hiding in that old piano bench)
  • Holiday ribbon ( I found my ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics 60% off)
  • Jar Jewels (those festive toppers used to dress up ball jars). I also found mine at JoAnn’s for 60% off.

materials   jarjewelimg_3431-2


  1. First, cut your craft brown paper to size for the table. This will provide the “table cloth” backdrop to adhere the music page “placemats”.
  2. Select a music book and remove the staples to free the pages from the book.
  3. Tape edges of music sheets to brown paper table cloth to create each place setting.
  4. This is the fun part; you can use mis-matched china, vintage plates, chargers (from the dollar store) or paper plates. I personally love the paper plate option because then we don’t have to clean dishes after the meal! Shown here is my favorite set of silver chargers I found in a vintage shop paired with paper plates I found at Kroger on the dollar rack. I also found the coordinating napkins.
  5. I like to mix and match glassware. Again, it depends on how much clean-up work you want. My personal favorite thing this season was creating spill-proff glasses for the kiddos with old ball jars. Here, I found Jar Jewels at JoAnn Fabrics on the 60% off aisle. They matched my dollar paper plates and napkins!
  6. Last, I took my everyday topiaries and tied a coordinating bow around them. I just repurposed those as my holiday centerpieces. If you have a live tree, check with the tree farm or Lowes and ask if you can have some of the evergreen scraps to accent the center of your table. I have never had one of them tell me no. Add some votives along the center, and you have an instant holiday dinner table.


What’s great is you can put a few crayons by the kiddos’ spots and they can draw on the paper to keep entertained, or you you can customize each setting with scripting the names above each plate, write out inspiring quotes or scriptures. Make it your own and don’t sweat picking up after the mess. All you have to do is roll up the paper and the mess, toss it and skate out of dish duty!



Christmas is S’more.


With the news of Starbuck’s red cup debacle still fresh in everyone’s mind and the holiday season ramping up, we wanted to share some of our most wonderful moments of the year; and yes, our feedback cards were green. Don’t read into it too much, they were scraps of paper left from a pile of expired flyers.


About a month ago we were reminded of the looming deadline to decorate a tree we had agreed to sponsor in May for The Festival of Trees downtown Indianapolis. Mind you, this is when it was 90 degrees and raining this past summer. As the date crept upon us, we received a call from the Indiana Historical Society to prepare a “theme” and concept for the tree. Full disclosure here, we had not made a list or checked it twice. C’mon, we have been consumed by a new building, and lets not forget, amazing support from our community and customers keeping us well beyond busy.

Deadlines. If it wasn’t moving, sanding floors, fixing roof leaks, renovating a rental property above our shop, feeding the kids, painting furniture, taking the dog out, ordering new product, noticing the E light on the dashboard somewhere between delivering flowers and picking up Olivia from cheer practice….let’s just say, a “Theme” for a tree was about to tap out all the tinsel we could muster up. You know. We have had Christmas up since July. And, as many of you know, we have O.C.D. (That’s Obsessive Christmas Disorder) with plenty on the 2016 calendar to get started.

This past weekend was another amazing kickoff to the holiday season with our neighbors, customers and friends. We quickly brainstormed a concept for this looming deadline of a tree theme in the chaotic mix of everything else. We came up with a theme to our tree inspired from the Grinch himself; Christmas is More Than Something Bought in a Store

Despite what it looks like on the outside (you know, ruffled awnings, beautifully restored floors, awesome home décor), it’s what’s on the inside that we love the most. It’s the heart of what we do. Similar to the Grinch, (we swear there is absolutely NO parity here) after years of miserable Grinch life (or corporate jobs) that perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from a store, perhaps, Christmas is a little bit more. No ice skates, trees or packages on a cup, but a green piece of paper….maybe.


Our mission has never changed. We want to be more than just a store. Grandpa Becker always said the best foundation of any business is a smile and friendships you create in the community. Not a bad concept from a good old-fashioned tomato grower. We don’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

So, we called upon you, the heart of why we do what we do, and we asked you this weekend to answer this: “What makes Christmas a little bit more than a store?” Our intent, as you know, was to aid in making our tannenbaum stand out from everyone else’s. Not by glitz or beauty alone, but by its heart and purpose (which has grown three times its size). With each little green piece of paper you answered the most important question.



So, let me take you back to Saturday at 5:30pm. When most people around town were likely counting their money, we were counting our blessings and anxious to see what people wrote on those green slivers of paper- even before we counted our pennies. We were so taken back by the common theme we found in that bucket of green entries. (We nicknamed it a bucket of Jesus) And, indeed Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Each and every person’s reason for the season contained mentions of Jesus, family, tradition, friends and unity.


There were over 200 cards in that tiny bucket. There’s no way we could summarize the words, the love and the meanings of Christmas as described on a little green card. (We did love the one that said “Maybe it means S’more”)


So, instead of blowing up the capacity of a blog post with over 200 quotes, we invite you to come see your tree on display from November 27th-January 2nd at The Indiana Historical Society. (Spoiler Alert!) We plan to display each and every note on the tree we decorate. If you can’t make it this year to see the tree in person, don’t worry, we will make this our annual tradition and your “More than a store” tree will be displayed at The Marshmallow Monkey next year.

Traditions have to start somewhere, right? We know the heart and support of our customers, community and town cannot be bought in a store. Affirmation of our purpose was never expected at the bottom of that bucket, but we continue this journey with Jesus at the heart of what we do. (And apparently you do too.)

Happy whatever you celebrate… we say Merry Christmas.


Brandon, Nicole, Blaise (Marshmallow) and Olivia (Monkey)



“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store…”


With a chill in the air and the glow of the holidays around us, we’re pleased to extend our first season’s greetings to you. And as part of our extended family, we’d like your help in trimming a very special tree. Think three sizes too big.

Just like this year has not been just any year. This, our friends, is not just any tree. We have the opportunity to decorate a tree displayed in the beautifully orchestrated Festival of Trees, hosted by The Indiana Historical Society.

Our tree is inspired by the words of the most famous Grinch of them all. “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.

Starting today through November 13, we want you to help us deck the halls by providing a brief explanation or just a simple word that makes Christmas a little bit more. Simply type your word or explanation below. We will scribe your response on an ornament with your name and feature it on our tree downtown Indianapolis at The Indiana Historical Society Festival of Trees.

These special, beloved trees will be on display November 20 through Christmas Day. Once the Festival is over, ornaments won’t be thrown away, but will start an annual tradition to be displayed in our store for many years to come. As your family and our customers continue to grow, so too, will our tree. Traditions need to start somewhere, so please join our community, our friends and us, as this one takes root.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be our elves as we update you on our little tree. Throughout November and December, we will feature your words and a picture of your ornament so others can hear your story of why Christmas doesn’t come from a store, an why it means a little bit more.

Start listing your thoughts below! We have a pretty big tree to decorate and we want you a part of it.

Nothing but Monkey Love for byTavi


I’m not great at writing and I constantly joke that I’m a secret introvert. To be completely honest, I’d love to just sit and watch the conversations and fun happen around me. But you would never guess that because I’m great at hiding it. So here I am, leading a fair trade boutique, products made by women that I know and love, and will be moving our store to Franklin, Indiana. I am meeting a huge amount of new people, being interviewed by newspapers, and writing blogs. I guess I’ll go on pretending that I’m an extrovert.

By the way, my name is Kristen. I work for the Center for Global Impact (CGI) as the Director of byTavi. (I’ll explain all that in a minute.)

I met Nicole and Brandon (you know, the two crazy, creative, and energetic owners of Marshmallow Monkey) in the summer of 2013. They were just opening the Monkey and were in our shop as a new partner and wholesaler. They happened to see our trial centerpieces for our black-tie fundraising event, and in the nicest way possible, told me that we needed their help. Ha! This was the beginning of a hilarious and exciting partnership.

Fast forward 2 years. Nicole and Brandon have been a great source of encouragement to me over the past few months. You see, CGI was looking for a new place to call home. We’ve been in an office space/strip mall for 4 years and we have WAY over-grown our little space. In May, we thought we found the PERFECT house that would fit us all plus our boutique that we were hoping to expand. The Greenwood house fell through, and to say that I was disappointed did not fully express my feelings.

BUT Nicole reminded me that God has a bigger plan. In an e-mail response to a donor event that we invited her and Brandon to, she was telling me all about the crazy ride that her and Brandon had just been tossed onto (which lead to the purchase of their new building). Seeing our invitation, she said: “ I noticed Psalms 34:8 and wanted to read the passage. I made a mistake and typed 32:8 and here’s what the passage read: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel and watch over you” Now, back to work… :-)”

Then, as we continued sifting through the weeds of business development, Nicole said this to me: “Often, I reflect back on life in so many circumstances where things didn’t fall into place the way I wanted them to, and actually they were part of a better, more perfect plan. Just trust. Heck, I am on the trust train to “I don’t know where”…but it’s gotta be good.”

Our current paths have been so similar lately, that I tossed out the question one day, “Do you know any houses for sale that we could buy?” Thinking I meant for my husband and I, they suggested Franklin. Long story short, the Monkey house was actually going up for sale soon and byTavi, through an incredible donor of ours, was able to snatch it up before it even went public.

God did have a plan. We were a part of a better, more perfect plan and didn’t even know it. We just trusted and jumped on the train to “I don’t know where.” And it’s good. So good. byTavi is so excited to be in Franklin and in partnership with such amazing friends and now neighbors.

So what is byTavi and why are we bringing the boutique to Franklin? byTavi is a project of CGI and part of its mission to Empower the Poor, Protect the Vulnerable, and Share the Gospel. We work with women in Cambodia offering vocational training, consistent employment, and a living wage were poverty is widespread. Many of our women are victims of – or vulnerable to – human trafficking.


Through the byTavi project and workshop, these women construct high-quality, boutique-style handbags and clothing. We are so blessed to be bringing the gorgeous products of byTavi to Franklin and believe that this location will further our mission and allow us to work with even more women in Cambodia.

I look forward to meeting you and showing you around the new byTavi Boutique! Come see us at our Grand Opening celebration on August 15th from 10:30am – 5:00pm. Let’s shop together and Make More than a Fashion Statement.

Oh, and just because it’s important information, all of the proceeds from our sales go back into the projects in Cambodia.

Can’t wait to say hello,


It’s not just a business, it’s a calling.

we are moving_FB

We have been so blessed. Today we sit in awe of how many dear friends we have made, making the town of Franklin our home. Although we don’t sit often, we do have great appreciation for the support of our amazing customers and local businesses. Like I said, we rarely get the opportunity to sit still long enough to take it all in. This past month has been really significant as we contemplated our next step in the long journey that we have been called to take. Sometimes, it’s undeniable what route you take on the journey, and sometimes it just has to really hit you in ways beyond comprehension. (Insert two by four here)

Acknowledging and answering the calling is only part of the equation. More than 3 years ago, Brandon and I knew we were going to do something different. A chaotic lifestyle juggling jobs, children, a difficult diagnosis with our son (The Marshmallow part of our story) and it seemed daunting to remotely think we could add a business to it. God nudged us and we knew we were supposed to open the Marshmallow Monkey. In part, it felt like a legacy -preserving tactic to keep our grandpa’s business going for a third generation, but we found it quickly became more. We added our own spin on the first generation business, which was originally built on friendships and great tomatoes. Of course, you know we can decorate like nobody’s business, create the most heartfelt and unique floral arrangements, make paint smell like marshmallows and unearth the most amazing treasures to adorn your home. But that’s not all we have been called to do.

The question is, did we answer the call? No, not right away. God has put us in many situations, to help prepare us for our calling, quietly speaking to our hearts, affirming we are on target with our direction. So many opportunities have been bestowed upon us and all that counts cannot necessarily be counted. From helping tie the community together by locating every single spool of white and blue ribbon in the state when local tragedy hit, to customizing a special gift for an important milestone, or helping bring a new business to town, it’s about making each encounter count. So many moments, people, conversations, ideas, recipes for success, and disappointments have been swirling for the last year. Sometimes the “nudge” that is felt seems to pass unrecognized as quickly as the sun rising and setting by day. Countless relationships have been formed, gleaning more clear navigation to our new “true north.”

The past month has been the most significant month in our lives. It’s undeniable where we should be going. It all started with a dinner invitation we received from our friends who also have a budding business. We have supported their products and even sold them in our store. Although our friends have been on many brainstorming adventures of new buildings, creating restaurants and otherwise, we each have remained true to our callings. The dinner invitation sent was a theme titled “Taste” sharing reference to the scripture Psalm 34:8. Admittedly, I didn’t know the exact context of the scripture, so I googled it. But instead of typing 34:8, I had transposed the numbers to Psalm 32:8. Like out of a science fiction novel, the words appeared giant on my computer screen. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” That makes a person pause for a moment.

We probably didn’t mention it, but this was also in the height of huge “life” contemplation moment, a day when every aspect of our life was being second-guessed. Many small business owners won’t admit it, but there are so many sacrifices we make to keep the engine running. When most of our friends are out socializing, we are doing inventory on a Friday night. Or when most take vacations, we stay up late in another city on a buying trip (not sitting on the beach) trying to nab the best deals for our customers. We eat, sleep, and breathe our business and customers.

In that contemplation moment when the large print hit me in the face, I shared it quickly with my friend who had sent the dinner invitation. Through an exchange of ironic (well, maybe not ironic) emails, we discovered that their business was looking to grow. Timing, or the calling, sometimes does not come when you expect it. We soon realized that the ever-scrunched space that the Marshmallow Monkey had outgrown was perfect for their growing business. It was clear that it was our duty to help another business bloom.

These same friends, who sent us a “Taste” of the future in the form of an invitation, also got the “call” for a larger space and have officially purchased our current location on Jefferson Street. This is just the first chapter in a very interesting story. As we finalize all of our timelines with both the new biz coming to town and our re-opening events, you will be the first to know.

Don’t worry, we aren’t going far. Our latest turn on the journey has allowed us to purchase a larger building right here in Franklin. The new Marshmallow Monkey store will be located just south of the courthouse on the town square in downtown Franklin. The new address will be 41 W. Monroe. But we aren’t moving just yet.

It’s business as usual until July. From July 1-August 15, we will be restocking our new store and getting it ready for a grand re-opening. We will also be going on our annual buying trip during that time just like we do every year. Once we return, it will be just in time have you join us for our grand re-opening which is tentatively scheduled for August (date to be determined). Make sure to look for your invite, and keep in the know by following our journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Make sure your ringer is turned up; your call may be coming soon. Monkey see, monkey do.

Ode To Plaster From Hell and Chalk Therapy

It’s been about 6 months in our new (old) house, and let’s just say the best advice before you do anything dramatic, is to live in it for a while. Owning a 100+-year-old house nestled on Home Avenue in our quaint town of Franklin, Indiana has been a dream come true. This is one of those houses that deserve a name, especially after only having three owners, so we affectionately named it Monkey Manor (Spoiler Alert.)


This last 6 months has been a journey. Shortly after opening our store in the town about two years ago, I recall taking the long way home circling around town dreaming about where we could live and be close to the shop. The 9-mile drive to our home in Greenwood was quickly becoming overrated. My newest dream was to live in this pink house on Home Avenue that commanded the world to notice her; and she was calling my name. Along with the dream of Home Avenue ownership, a vintage bicycle with a basket to haul my yet-to-own French bulldog named Dixie was a must. For the most part the dream has become the next decade’s reality. Pink house is ours, Brandon bought me a charming vintage bike (with a basket) and we have our adorable French bulldog named, Hendricks. Almost picture perfect to my vision! Look at that face!


Well, 5,000 square feet of plaster and hardwood later, the making “a house a home” project has certainly taken us for some twists and turns and continues to take way longer than I care to stand. This past week, we were working on our breakfast nook. The previous owners had wallpapered the room (and many rooms in the house), which was probably a good idea because it has, quite literally, kept the plaster from crumbling. The only catch is, we (DIY’s) all know how wallpaper has a relatively short style life span, and this one, yeah, it’s time was up.


Spirited Wallpaper

wallpaper                                                                                                         Nook-before


A great way to keep the plaster from crumbling without the headache of (attempting) to remove the wallpaper is to power sand the seams and go right over it with the Valspar Reserve paint found at Lowes. The kind with really thick primer mixed in. I make this sound like it was so easy. Nope. This is what I share now as a “quick tip” that was a long, drawn out process of error by trial, room after room over this past 6 months.


So, about that nook. The woodwork in the house is original, almost perfect at that. But, it’s really dark. The wallpaper was plum, green, and gold. All of which are usually okay, it’s just that the small room looked really closed in and dark, especially with one window and two swinging doors that keep it minimally lit. I needed some light and infuse a pinch of our personality.

I picked a buttery cream color, which always makes the beautiful woodwork pop. And, Brandon and I love to pair old and new things to decorate and help tell our story in our home. So this is a color that plays nice with rusty and polished touches, alike.

After sanding my seams and edging the room out, the first coat went up quickly. I knew it was going to take two or three coats and I have found that the first coat, even if light, is best to simply coat the wall. This will also ensure the paper doesn’t get too wet and potentially (but unlikely) pull from the wall. I have found this almost never happens on plaster, but may on drywall-clad walls.

As I coated the east side of the nook, that just happens to be the only exterior wall in the room, the infamous surprise hiding behind the graphic wallpaper was bubbles of plaster raising; all things that come with a house this old. NOTE: This is when that beautiful sunny “buttercup” color doesn’t work well. The imperfections were almost amplified when the shadows and light hit just right. I was quickly reconsidering wallpaper until the perfect alternative came to mind.


Light paint= light and imperfection magnifying. So, I quickly jumped to plan B. What’s the opposite of light? Well, think of a black dress that often will conceal a not so perfect figure; yep, black. What? Isn’t that counter-productive? No, not when it’s a chalkboard wall that can become a focal point, and artfully conceal those pesky, and sometimes-unavoidable imperfections. Charm. That’s my goal. So I spent some time thinking about what this wall could “say” that told a story. A coming out of sorts, capturing the story of us, the monkey people.

Like any good planner, I spent hours applying my graphic design skills to draft a computer sketch for the wall and it simply came down to doing whatever came to mind and through the end of my chalk pencil.


In the end, I kept it simple a frame adorning the notorious “N” for our last name with each family member’s initials secretly placed around the frame. A vignette of an old oak tree (because they are sturdy, last a long time) with a nest housing two perfect eggs (symbolizing my two kids, Blaise and Olivia). A bird sits perched on the edge of the door casing; a vintage bird from an old copula, that reminds me of my grandma (that’s where the obsession with birds comes from). A small wall below the window adorns the name Hendricks, our newest member of the family, and commands a spot for his dog bowls. Two little acorns sit right beside the root of the oak, symbolizing all new things grow (kind of like our old, new home).


branches closeup_initials FullSizeRender-3 hendricks_chalkboard

A day of painting, my fair share of hand cramps and a tapped-out chalk pencil or two, we have a wall that looks like it was intentionally meant to be a story board of our monkey madness… but serves a technical purpose to hide those blemishes that make this house our home.

Want some tips and tricks on chalk boarding? Tell me what you are working on, and what is the greatest challenge you are facing? Chances are, I can save you time, hand cramps and chalk!


Send questions to The Queen Monkey Mother at


The World According to the Queen Monkey …and other daily house calls.



Somewhere between 35,000 feet in the air en route to Dallas, while eating a warm cookie, enjoying the privileges of First Class, I was fighting back tears with each bite. I had lost my passion. I had to recalculate. Within days, I told the suits to take their 2,000 shares of stock and, well, keep them. “I’m going to open a business called the Marshmallow Monkey.” I graciously accepted the predictable looks, the kindly conservative reactions and walked down hall, passion in hand. What they didn’t see across the shiny, over waxed boardroom table were one Queen Monkey, two munchkins, a husband and a big, bold vision.

A year plus later, we’re going and growing strong. We run the business like my hair—you gotta mix it up, keeps ya young. A new hue, shave a little off the sides, maybe even bangs (no, not bangs, I swore never again). The Marshmallow Monkey isn’t ready for a makeover yet, but a few highlights does a girl good.

Our people spoke and we listened, grabbed the keys, turned up the music and got on the road right to your door. So this month, just in time for Christmas decorating, we are coming to you. Say hello to our new splash of color, House Calls.

From Franklin, Whiteland, Columbus, Greenwood, Westfield, Carmel, Broad Ripple and even Zionsville, if our people need us, House Calls will go. Seeking furniture, a gift or maybe some savory advice on how to paint grandma’s hutch? We can provide that insight to your doorstep now. The sky is the limit and our bag is like Mary Poppins’ filled with tools, tips and tricks for anyone or any project. Here’s a quick list to get your brains storming. If you don’t see something you need listed, send us a note to

  • Holiday staging and decorating. Do you have a tubs and tubs of Holiday decorations, but are sick of the same old rerun of your Christmas Vacation? Have us stop in and give you suggestions on how you can repurpose those old relics into something new. Chances are, it’s there, and you just need a monkey’s view of the world. Can’t stand putting up your Christmas tree? Have a party but don’t have time to decorate? Give us a call and we will be your little Holiday Helper.
  • Revival of Grandma’s Hutch. I bet you are like us, you have one of grandma or Aunt Edna’s heirloom pieces and, well, and let’s just say, and it’s not very you. That’s okay, because it can be. We are one (house) call away to providing a quick makeover to your piece or giving you the “know-how” to finish it yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to attend a painting class because we can paint it or show you how. Don’t have paint? That’s okay, we will bring it to you, if DIY is your thing. This is a great option for those of you who like to finish a project while your significant other is at work. It’s like a “while you were out moment”. No travel required.
  • Find and Pick. Ever dream of being Frank or Mike from American Pickers? Yeah, we live that show and it’s likely we have one of what you are looking for. If we don’t, we will find it…and deliver it.
  • Gifts and Flowers. We’re like fruitcake for so many reasons. We have the perfect gift, gift basket or flowers custom made for each person. You provide a little insight, we create that “you are amazing” gift for that not so easy to buy for friend or relative. We will deliver your beautifully customized gift to catch that certain someone by surprise. Monkeys make great Christmas elves. Send us your list or ideas and we can do the grunt work while you soak up the glory.
  • Pick our Brain. This is a category for all things that have no category. Maybe you purchased your dream home and she’s 120 years old (we can’t relate). And you noticed the 30-year-old wallpaper will not come off the plaster wall? We have a solution that will save you time and money. Our advice is really reasonable and if that wall project is something you want done, but don’t have the time? We will make a House Call.
  • Staging. Are you selling your house? Are you a realtor? We can help you stage a home to sell it fast. Every house we have staged, has sold in less than 30 days. Monkey see, monkey do.

An app is coming soon. The app will help you see when we will be in your neighborhood. Until then, call the shop at 317-494-6020 or check Facebook to see where we will be trekking. Try it on for size, tell a friend. Monkey see, monkey do.



What’s Monkey Have To Do With It?

Serendipity has an agenda all of its own and we had no idea a year ago what to expect or how the journey was going unfold.

It’s not WHAT you know, It’s WHO you know. This has been a year spent learning where to buy and becoming friends with antiquity connoisseurs all over the country. While it has been the most exciting part of the journey, finding those amazing one-of-a-kind pieces is not as easy as it looks and certainly not as glamorous as it may appear. Real old stuff  paired with reproduction pieces that vibe the look of 1924, with a bargain lover’s price, is our mantra. The hardest part of the journey is not keeping everything we find for ourselves!

People ask us all the time what our personal style is and the only way we can describe it is a mix of old, (like was once ugly and is now a come-back kid) found, (something found in the strangest of places; and has a great story) grandma’s style (something with sentimental value or reminds you of a place and time; so not to forget) and new (you know, that new stuff that looks old, but is at bargain prices)…and a little kitsch (that something,…well, it’s hard to explain).

We don’t want to be Pottery Barn, One Kings Lane or Joss and Main, but you may be surprised to know we find our stuff where they do. In fact once this past year we were in a warehouse of a friend of ours and saw a stack of skids carrying some old snowshoes addressed to Pottery Barn. So if you bought a pair of those pricey snowshoes, you really should have called or come to see us, we probably had a pair (or two) at grandma’s price. At market we were so surprised to see a lady shopping at one of the same vendors we use and she was the buyer at One Kings Lane. That was quietly gratifying to know, despite having our own taste, we  play and buy with the “big dogs” of design.  We never imagined WE would be carrying the same dog biscuits (coming soon) as those featured in  a recent HGTV magazine.

Monkey Love. We feel so blessed that our customers (also affectionately known as F.O.M.s; Friends of the Monkey) have supported and become Monkey Ambassadors of our shop while spreading the love  to their friends. (just like an old recipe from grandma). Because our relationships have bloomed with many people spanning as far as California, it has urged us to expand, think outside the box and continue to surprise our favorite monkey followers.

We are very excited for 2014 with the introduction of our garden center in the spring, offering planters,  hanging baskets (and not those ready-made versions you can find at the big box stores) gardening containers, fountains, supplies and tools along with unusual plants and herbs of all kinds.

Monkey What? You asked, we listened. Monkey Paint™ is on the horizon offering an economical alternative to furniture antiquing paint. Due to a national shortage of the “scent” Marshmallow, we had a little delay and may have left you hanging ,not knowing if we are still doing it. Yes! We are. Watch Facebook for the launch of our paint. We think our paint is special. It  is made by and sold by us, and us alone.  Who does that anymore? Yeah, we do.

The first batch will have 8 colors. Every two to three months we will introduce a new color. That may leave you asking “what color is next?” The awesome part is you won’t have to conform to a set palette of colors because you (the FOMs) will vote for the next color. We will then have a contest for the naming of the paint. The winner gets the first jar of the new color! This is just the beginning, so stay tuned as we mix things up.

Monkey Studio? We will be offering free paint advice daily and studio classes routinely once we launch the paint. It’s hard to believe this idea spawned from the request of our customers almost immediately after we opened a year ago.

Get the Monkey off your back? Our fresh flower business is picking up. As we began our journey, we initially wanted to keep the flower business in the “back of the house” maintaining the clients from our family’s business.  As we conjure up one-of-a-kind creations, business continues to grow. We recently installed cooler allowing FOMs to see and grab stems from the cooler and offering inspiration for an arrangement suited for any occasion; weddings, funerals, birthdays or “just because”.

This will be our first Valentines Day in our new location. We are anticipating plenty of locals to snatch upour special featuring 16 tulips or 12 roses in our most popular lantern (that is converted to a vase for Valentine’s) and is packaged with a special candle for  $65.00.; a bargain compared to any competitor or “big box” flower shop.

Monkey See, Monkey Do We also have a few surprises in the works that will be shared once we complete the behind-the-scenes business planning. Have an idea? Want to see something new at The Marshmallow Monkey? Do tell!  You never know what we may be up to next. We certainly aren’t done with our monkey business.

The Marshmallow Monkey is located at 436 E. Jefferson in Franklin, Indiana. Home to vintage-inspired décor, furniture and fresh flowers. You can grab a piece of history, flowers, a one-of-a-kind gift for a friend, and  great garden stuff  (with a pinch of kitsch). Marshmallow Monkey is not just a shop, it’s a way of being.  Tell someone, shop and visit often. #FOM

Nicole and Brandon

Owners and Monkey Makers

When Monkeys Fly

What’s the number one question we get every day at The Marshmallow Monkey? “How did you come up with the name?” Well…here you go:

About three years ago, Brandon and I had the dream of owning our own business. We both imagined a small community business, with a purpose of giving back to the community. At that time, the reality was that we REALLY weren’t going to drop everything at that very moment and “do it”. The dream included a great name that our future customers would come to love and had to have a deep meaning to us.  Between the idea of a toy store, a cupcake shop, a town bakery and maybe even a home décor business, we didn’t know precisely what this lofty dream was going to be.

Brandon and I are like legacy -keepers; we don’t think of today, but instead we are dreaming up what life will be like for our kids when it’s their turn to make a mark in the community. One of the most important aspects was (on a list a mile long) to make the name a good one. We have two kids, Blaise who is 11 and Olivia, 9. As they were growing up, Olivia was nicknamed affectionately as “monkey” and Blaise would be found with a pocket full of marshmallows (that’s when they weren’t pressed on the ends of his fingers like a bear claw).  While Brandon was at the firehouse 3 days a week, I had the awesome blessing of being able to travel all around the country as a healthcare consultant; visiting little unique shops from town to town. All of them were named the most random things like “Pink Olive”, “Orange Poppy”, “The Owl’s Nest” (but hard to get out of your mind when you hopped a jet to the next town).  We wanted our name to stick (Like the inside of a marshmallow).


Randomly, it was a Wednesday night sometime in 2010. I just got off an airplane from somewhere in Middle America. Imagine the kids running around that table (complete chaos all around), cell phone ringing with the latest nano-crisis from a hospital blowing up and that box of packing peanuts that were neatly nestled in that FedEx box just delivered had been annihilated into micro-sized pieces with static cling to everything including both children and the dog.  Brandon is a great wordsmith and I am a fine artist who was hijacked for 18 years in healthcare. Together we have a quirky style and often charter a path less taken.

I begin telling Brandon of these adorable shops that were in Dallas from my latest trip.  We basically sat for two hours brainstorming what the name of our undisclosed business-to-be would be named. We both agreed we wanted something that would create a great story for the kids to tell (in the event they end up running this business someday) and something people will grow to love and never forget.

We begin with Monkey. (That was after Brandon had to ask Olivia 6 times to stop hanging on his leg to get our attention) While we both thought it was a great start, we weren’t sure it was going to be “the one”.  Literally a few days went by and a bag or two of marshmallows eaten, Brandon says “what about adding Marshmallow to the Monkey”? I thought “that may be an awesome name; a little of both kids metaphorically woven into the fabric of our company?” YES! The Marshmallow Monkey became a more vivid reality.

We won’t lie; it was after exploration of many interesting adjectives to slide in front of that “Monkey” before we landed on The Marshmallow Monkey. There is a smidge of science behind it, which is really boring to iron out too, like what website URLs and Twitter handles are available that will literally cut your list of names down to one or two. That made the decision really easy! We just knew, whether it was cupcakes, toys or flowers, Marshmallow Monkey could work.

The next couple of weeks were filled with lengthy processes to register the name, grab the URL and ensure we had a name ready…. not knowing in just three short years we would be here.

Yep, it took three years to get all the ducks (Not monkeys) in a row, but we are so excited about our new shop, and being able to carry on our family’s 75 year legacy and we look forward to the day that Olivia and Blaise get to tell their story with pockets full of marshmallows and a new spin on the monkey biz.