Picking Out Stuff for the Carmel House

You want to know what is super hard? Trying to pick out flooring, tile, counter tops & everything else for a house that you have to stay totally neutral. This isn’t my house. Well, legally it is right now, but it’s not being remodeled for ME. Luckily, I feel very strongly about neutral colors that are going to stay in a home for a while like countertops, tile, hardwood, etc. I like to bring in color with pillows, art, bedspreads and the kinds of things that are easily replaced. Once and a while, however, when I go and pick out tile and flooring at ICC, David Little has to say “HEY, Nicole. YOU are not living there and that is very trendy. It’s not your house.” He did that today. Boo.

I have this flooring idea that I want to do SO BADLY. It actually hurts thinking about it. D.L. (David Little) said “Well, you would have to get unfinished wood and then stain it when you are done.” to which my David said “Hell no. We are not staining floors. Find finished flooring!” So….maybe I can twist his arm.  He usually gives in when I push, so, we will see.

Anyway, here is what is laid out all over my house right now:

FullSizeRender-107 FullSizeRender_4 FullSizeRender_2


Yep. Lots of decisions and still more to go.


Paint colors, tile planks for the basement and wood flooring for upstairs.


Decisions about fireplace tile and more paint colors.


Bathroom tile, laundry room tile, bar area tile and more paint.

Pretty basic colors even though it might be hard to tell because my phone camera and I were not getting alone today.

All the paint colors are from Benjamin Moore. The hardwood is from ICC as well as some of the tile. All the other tile is from Lowes.

I’m sure you recognize some of the same tile as being in my home and the Fall Creek house we sold. Yep. This tile has been around longer than anyone I know and will continue to be considered classic.

merola-tile-metro-octagon-white-and-black1 TIL699504


There are some other classics I am considering that are not pictured:

Basketweave-tile hex-1-inch-p100-hex-fd_002_000_004_004

These styles were around before I was born and will be around long after I am not!

I looked at Houzz.com for ideas for this fireplace and saw many great ones Hopefully I can make a decision on which tile to use! They are all so freaking awesome and this fireplace in the basement needs some serious love.

carmel house 21


As to the wood looking tile, well, I am thinking of using it in the basement. It looks very nice yet will hold up to water and humidity in the basement. Or, I may go with something else. Who knows.

I haven’t even chosen carpet yet and David is hounding me to “Make your decisions, woman!” I AM super excited because the master bathroom tub comes tomorrow morning and then I can take photos and do the master bathroom destruction and remodel post!

If you have ANY recommendations, email me. I am open to ideas!

Until next time!



Change is in the Air and in the Kitchen!

This week has brought about a lot of change to our Carmel house. By the way, every house we look to buy gets a nick name. They are not particularly clever names but we need them because we look at so many. This house will henceforth be called The Carmel House.

carmel house 7 carmel house 8 carmel house 9 carmel house 11Above is the Carmel house’s kitchen.  I’m sure this kitchen was the bee’s knees thirty years ago. Let me tell you something about the cabinets, they are pickled and you cannot get that shiz off.

IMG_9041 IMG_9042

The photos above are from the Fall Creek house that we just sold. The first photo shows what the staircase looked like. I decided that I wanted to have the banister and newel posts stained a dark color instead of being white, so we had Joe strip them and stain them. SURPRISE! Underneath the white paint we found out someone had pickled the banister! No matter the researched methods we tried to stain the picked wood, it wouldn’t stain and I was super tired of sanding and sanding and sanding.  So, we decided to just paint over it with dark brown paint. 


If the kitchen cabinets were good, quality cabinets, I might have considered just paining them. They were NOT quality cabinets!

We sold the almond colored appliances and got ready for the cabinet removal. 

   The bulkhead is completely unnecessary and makes the room feel smaller. After meeting with Tony, from Freedom Valley Cabinets, we designed our kitchen and decided to take out the bulkhead. 

 And there is that fabulous 1970s linoleum! 

 So the kitchen is now gutted, bulkhead taken down and all the flooring is up. I’ll give you a sneak peak at what we are waiting for.  


All the custom cabinets are being made RIGHT NOW! I can’t wait to share the finished room when it’s done!

Next up: the destruction and planning of the master bathroom. 

Why, Wallpaper? Why Wallpaper?

By now, I’m sure you know of my love and my kids love for wallpaper. 

We happen to buy houses where people not only wallpaper:



 But they wallpaper, then paint OVER the wallpaper and then wallpaper over the painted wallpaper. 

  Come on, people. If you don’t like the wallpaper, please for the love of humanity (especially me), take down the wallpaper and start with fresh walls. Don’t be THAT guy who says “Meh. Let’s just paint over it” because THAT guy sucks. 

There is always something, while taking down wallpaper, that inevitably makes a tear or ten run down my cheek as I look at the wallpaper and sob, “Why, wallpaper? What did I ever do to you? Why do you have to be like that?” And then I start cursing the person who put it up and say “WHY WALLPAPER????” Just, why?

Before I have any of you start to say “Uhm, Nicole, remember when you wallpapered your dining room with that grass wallpaper?” Yes. I do and I would have taken it down before we moved but the new owner ASKED that I keep it up.  So, boom. Still innocent. 

This new house is filled with wallpaper and hate because, obviously, I was a bad person in my past life and karma has caught up with me. 

 I was scoring and taking down the wallpaper in one of the bedrooms when the wallpaper lashed out at me and stole the scoring tool from me. True story. 

That was when I started to cry a little and say “Why, wallpaper?”

As we were taking down a wall, today, I spotted this where the cabinet used to be:

Didn’t they have awesome taste? I moaned “Why wallpaper?” and started to grumble about the fact that they had obviously painted over it everywhere else when Dave said “Honey, this wall is coming down. You don’t have to take the wallpaper down! Be happy!” To which I pointed to the other walls that WERE staying and said “THOSE are staying and THEY have wallpaper under that paint!” He didn’t believe me so we took a closer look and then a closer, closer look and Dave knew he had better skedaddle out of there because I was going to loose it. 


There was paint, then wallpaper then paint and finally more wallpaper. So….the first person was like “Hey, let’s just paint over this wallpaper!” Then he (or another person) was like “Hey, let’s wallpaper over this painted wallpaper!” And then he (or the second person or a third person) said “Hey, I’ve got the laziest idea ever known to mankind. Let’s paint over this wallpapered painted wallpaper!” Yeah. I’m lost, too. At this point, it’s so dang thick you can peel a lot of it off. I turned to find Dave running away from me and I yelled “Nope. I’m okay! Because we are just going to replace the drywall because that’s cheaper than having me institutionalize!” 

The people who decorated this house in the past have to be the laziest people I’ve ever had to clean up after. They decided they wanted an ever so slight elevation in the kitchen. What would I do? Well, I wouldn’t. But if someone asked me to do it for them, I would take off the original flooring and then elevate it and put new flooring down. Clean and correct. 



Nope. Not these guys. This job was done by the same guy who decided to paint over the wallpapered painted wallpaper. They left the original linoleum down (side note – I love seeing 70’s flooring and wallpaper; just not taking it out) – strike one. They put plywood over it – strike two. Then they laid a square beige vomit linoleum over it – strike three. Get out. I guess the beige linoleum matches the lovely picked cabinets.  


Well, forward we charge! Stay tuned for more demolition and hopefully no more surprise wallpaper. 

Floor No More

Remember this floor?


 The day we closed we went over with the sledgehammer and Lucy and I took our whacks at it. 

  And the floor basically laughed at us. This is SOLID brick. Who does that? I can’t imagine the weight on this floor. 

After Lucy’s and my pathetic attempts to even make a dent, one of our workers actually started taking it out. 




There was chicken wire underneath. This floor was put together very well. Too bad it was so wrong. 

We took out the cupboard that was in the dining room and was floored to find out that it was original to the house. 

Just, NO. 

It took several days to get it all up and cleaned out but….


The floor is out!! Now I need to decide on what flooring I’m going to do here. 

Notice the railing headed downstairs in the photos above.  👆🏻 I  have scoured Houzz.com and think I have my design for the new railing. 

Stay tuned for next time! The destruction is coming along nicely!!

Joyeux Cinco de Mayo Amis – I Learned French Instead of Spanish

First off, I recognize the irony of my title. I am a history nerd VERY fluent in sarcasm and irony.

I love Mexico. I love Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.  And, okay, not Mexico, but Roatán, Honduras and Ambergris Caye, Belize are pretty top of the list.

In all these places my insane husband has made some scary decisions like renting a random local’s Jeep and we ended up feeding crocodiles. And we have some seriously funny, NOW – not at the time, memories like when we stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere and I had to use the bathroom which was conveniently located down a fire ant/crocodile infested trail about a mile away from the actual gas station. Then, the door locked in my stall and I screamed and screamed and the crocodiles were like “we hear you, honey, just come on out!” Anyway, I ended up standing on the toilet paper holder half jumping, half hoping that angels were lifting me, to the top of the stall. BTW, the door and stall walls went all the way to the floor. I finally was able to grab the top of the stall and scaled over causing HUGE bruising all down the back of my thighs. I finally made it back to the gas station where Dave and the gas attendant were shooting the bull, (I’m not sure how since they didn’t speak the same language) and Dave was like, “Hey babe, what happened? Why are you crying and bleeding?” It is STILL Nicole-1/Dave negative 150 for that one.

I digress, again. Dave is actually out refilling my ADD meds (I’ve been out for a couple of days) so this might be the most random post ever.

What all these places have in common beside being awesome, is that we ALWAYS eat ceviche when we are in Mexico or by Mexico. So, I had to figure out how to make it and after years and years of perfecting my recipe, here you go:

1 lb. of Tilapia cut in small pieces

1 lb. of medium sized shrimp cut in half

1 lb bay scallops

At LEAST 12 Limes – you need enough to cover the above ingredients. I have purchased 10 Limes only to find out the skin is super thick but you don’t get much juice. You have to make sure the juice is covering the fish/shrimp/scallops. The lime will actually be “cooking” your ingredients.

Cover your fish concoction with the lime juice and watch to see the shrimp turn pink and the fish and scallops turn white – at LEAST 4 hours. Do NOT use lime juice out of a bottle the acid is already gone. It has to be fresh.


While this is “cooking” mix the following:

5 tomatoes chopped in small pieces

1 white onion (large) chopped in small pieces

1 whole stalk of cilantro chopped up finely

1 TBS of minced garlic

2 TBS white vinegar

2 minced Jalapeños

Salt & Pepper & Hot Sauce to taste


After the fish mixture is done “cooking”, empty most of the lime juice and mix together and enjoy with chips or crackers.



Look above at the non-seafood parts of the Ceviche. Take all the ingredient and run them through a food processor. Add salt and hot sauce to taste. Boom.

Serve with chips.


Look above at the non-seafood parts of the Ceviche and MINUS the vinegar and run through a food processor.  Mash up 4 to 5 ripe avocados. Add tomato mixture to the avocado mixture. Add salt and hot sauce to taste. If you like this really spicy, consider using a hotter pepper. Add chips and enjoy. You owe me.


Mix with your beverages of choice, put on your Pandora Cinco de Mayo channel, get your boat ready and enjoy! Au Revior!


The Ever Changing Tables

I won this table in a divorce. I was pretty much hosed on furniture in this particular divorce so this table meant a lot to me.

oak table

I swear, everyone and their dog owned that same table! (Except my ex! LOL!)

Years later, when we moved into another home, the table didn’t quite fit the look I was going for so I painted it black and purchased some antique chairs to go with it and redid the seats.

black chairs

Now, I really didn’t like the black in this new house so I looked at different photos of tables and chairs and fell in love with this photo.

painted kitchen table and chairs

(Photo courtesy of decoratingfiles.com)

First things first. I found the color I wanted which is Benjamin Moore’s Dusky Blue. and I made my own chalk paint which I learned how to make from Lowe’s.

Mix 1/3 cup water with 1/3 cup Plaster of Paris in a plastic paint container. Stir well.

Pour 1 cup of your paint color into the mixture and stir well. Now you’re ready to paint! Unless you are painting black, then I HIGHLY suggest you prime your furniture ahead of time.

I took the seats off my chairs and primed my chairs and started to paint!

AND, WOW! I hated the color.

blueblue chairs

Luckily for me I had only done ALL FOUR of them before I decided I really hated the color. Don’t paint late at night, folks.

The next day I went back to my local Ace Hardware and decided on Benjamin Moore’s Pleasant Valley. After mixing the chalk paint recipe together, I started to repaint.

Chair after chair and I couldn’t have been more pleased with how to color turned out on the chairs.

I had gone to JoAnn’s fabric and picked out a beautiful white fabric that I thought would go very well with the chairs. I also purchased some batting to give my chairs a little more volume.

After getting home, I cut out the batting and fabric and took out my handy dandy stapler and…..where the heck was it? I searched all day.  Finally I gave up and headed to Lowe’s to purchase another one. The very kind gentleman helped me choose one and staples to go with it. So, as the clock was ticking before I had to pick up Lucy from school, I hurried home to get at least one seat done. I spent THIRTY minutes trying to figure out how to get the stinking staples into that freaking devilish stapler. I though maybe this project just wasn’t meant to be finished because I was at my WITS END!

I picked up Lucy from school and told her the thing that makes her want to jump out of my moving car more than anything else: “We need to go to Lowe’s.” And she started to whine and beg to be dropped off at the nearest street corner. Fast forward to Lowe’s WITH Lucy still with me. I return the stapler and staples and go back for round two. A different person helped me and I explained what had happened with the stapler and staples, a little embarrassed at my stupidity. HA HA, Lowe’s.  The problem wasn’t me!!!! Turns out that those staples don’t go with that stapler and in fact, Lowe’s doesn’t even SELL staples to go with that model. Which begs the question; why even sell the stapler if you don’t sell staples to go with it. Ugh. I digress.

We got home, and I was able to get all four seats completed without killing anyone.


FullSizeRender-91 FullSizeRender-90

These photos were taken with my cell phone so the color doesn’t really look like that.

Next, because the table top was a little lumpy from my last painting job, I spent the time to take the black paint off the top of the table. What a fun job.

black table

I primed the bottom and the legs and then using my chalk paint recipe and plain white latex paint I purchased from Ace, I painted the table white.


(Notice the drop cloth? Yay me!)

And here it is finished!

table table1 table 2 table5

Dave won his coffee table in his divorce. He left with one coffee table and two chairs. The coffee table started out with stained wood. The same time I pained the table black, I painted the coffee table black. Being in the same room with the table, I wanted to paint it white also.

So, using the same paint that I used on the table, I painted the coffee table.

coffee table coffee table1

Now I need to convince Dave to let me paint the entertainment center and my black to white transformation will be complete. Until I get a hankering to paint them all again! Wink, wink!

And….Pause. A Mama’s Time Out

I have dealt my fare share of “time outs” in my life. With six kids, inevitably, one of them was always in time out. The hope was they would use that time to reflect on their actions and realize that Mama is always right  that what they did was wrong. It’s a break from what’s really going on. I can’t think of a single time my kids were like “Whooooohoooo! I get a time out, y’all! Thanks, Mama!” However, much like nap time, adults need/want time outs. But, come on, since we can’t call it that, let’s call it a “Pause”.  When I get a Pause it’s like a golden ticket from the Universe.

In the last couple of weeks, I have had old friends come and visit me. Some were visiting for their Pause and some have come to give me a Pause. Either way, it is so awesome when friends come over to Pause with me. I grew up on the west coast and the east coast and yet somehow landed smack dab in Hoosierville. None of my friends growing up (or ANY of my family, for that matter) live by me. I am super jealous when friends around here talk about growing up here and their friends/family live right around the corner. Mine live right around the…..globe.


When friends come to visit, this happens frequently.

Over the years here in Indiana, I have had some amazing friends and family spend their time and money to come to town and visit me or drop by when they are in town and that is when I get my much needed Pause. So, thank you!  Now I’m off to take a nap!