Franklin, Ind. — More than a Salvage Warehouse

Welcome to Franklin, Ind., AKA "Hoosier Howell."

Welcome to Franklin, Ind., AKA “Hoosier Howell.”

We don’t just go to Franklin, Ind. for old sinks and bits of baseboard. The small town of 24,000 is home to more than just a salvage warehouse.

Located in the heart of Johnson County, about a 30-minute drive south of Fountain Square, Franklin reminds me a lot of the place I used to live right after college—Howell, Mich. From the stately courthouse in the downtown, to the mom-and-pop shops and even a cute, old movie theater, the only things missing from making it a Hoosier Howell are hot air balloons and the Melon Festival (although, Franklin does have a strawberry festival). Franklin is also home to Franklin College and the Johnson County Museum of History.

Tasty treats at Hoosier Cupboard.

Tasty treats at Hoosier Cupboard.

It has fashionable boutiques, including Brick Street Boutique; a place to indulge your sweet tooth (always good for us) at Hoosier Cupboard Candy and Snacks; a toy store, Toodleydoo Toys (heck, that’s just fun to say); and a place to fill up on grub, Ann’s.

The latter has been around forever, since 1952, when it was known as “Alta’s Place.” Located at the corner of Jackson and Monroe streets, this breakfast and lunch joint is hoppin’ on the weekends, and it’s not hard to see why: The pancakes are deliciously sweet—Caitlyn said they were more like cakes than pancakes—and the seasoned potatoes have the perfect amount of “kick,” although, they also come with a nice side of grease (so be forewarned).

Pancakes at Ann's = Brunch bliss.

Pancakes at Ann’s = Brunch bliss.

Caitlyn got the veggie omelet, which she, overall, enjoyed but lamented that they appeared to use Kraft-esque American cheese. It makes sense: You wont find any culinary breakthroughs at Ann’s, just old reliable standbys like a grilled cheese sandwich, burgers (sorry, fellow vegetarians, bean or veggie patties are too la-dee-da for Ann’s), fish and chips, and so on.

For dessert, swing by the Hoosier Cupboard, up a street on Jefferson. From truffles, to chocolate-dipped Oreos and even chocolate Cola, this small-town store has a surprisingly large collection of treats.

Caitlyn's omelet and toast.

Caitlyn’s omelet and toast.

In the mood to shop? Scope out Salvage Sisters for some antiques—Caitlyn snagged a teacup plate in her Depression glass pattern for only $3—and Brick Street Boutique for trendy clothes and accessories. We didn’t even get a chance to go into Gray Goat Bicycle Co., which is probably good since we don’t have the money right now for me to blow on tricking out my bike.

Until next time, Franklin …


Rehab Addict: Franklin-Style

It's like a freaking field day for Caitlyn at the salvage warehouse.

It’s like a freaking field day for Caitlyn at the salvage warehouse.

Caitlyn’s got the DIY bug. Between rehabbing The Frankfort House and her recent “Rehab Addict” bingeing, my wife’s at no shortage of projects or ideas for gussying up the Grand Old Dame.

One of Caitlyn’s many jobs is actually delivering catered lunches all over central Indiana, and it just happens that last week she drove through Franklin, Ind., a small town about 30 minutes south of where we live. While there, she drove by a shop called “Salvage Sisters,” and instantly she channeled her inner-Nicole Curtis and wondered what day we might make a trip down there to see what treasures we could unearth.

Turns out that day was just 72 hours later, so off to Franklin we went. We didn’t even make it to Salvage Sisters before she saw yard signs along Forsythe Street for Franklin Heritage Inc. Architectural Salvage (FHAS), a hidden warehouse chock full of salvaged items, only open from 10 am to 2 pm Saturdays. A few turns and a little jaunt north of downtown, FHAS is like rehab heroin: Doors of every variety and size, 1920s bathroom sinks, 1930s baseboards — you name it. At first a bit overwhelming due to the sheer inventory, everything is well organized by category, offering shoppers a sort of “organized chaos.”

Our sink of the future (minus the faucets, which will be replaced with more historically accurate ones).

Our sink of the future (minus the faucets, which will be replaced with more historically accurate ones).

Some of the products have prices, while others don’t. Haggling is permitted for the cash-strapped, but they also take credit. Not sure how to quite install something? The shop is run by Franklin Heritage, Inc., who places proceeds toward local preservation projects, so the workers are quite knowledgeable.

In the end, we only walked away with two pieces of baseboard to replace those pieces that were stripped off by a previous owner in the mud room of The Frankfort House, but it was $8 well spent. We also looked at a 1920s cast iron bathroom sink that we will be going back to snag this weekend for $40, with plans to scrub it down and replace the historically inaccurate faucet knobs.

I worry going to Franklin might replace our Saturday morning yoga if their inventory remains this good!

Stay tuned for more posts on our trip to Franklin.

Poppycock’s Anything But Nonsense

Poppycock's Pita Chips appetizer before we devoured them.

Poppycock’s Pita Chips appetizer before we devoured them.

One of the perks of heading to northern Michigan so often is the opportunity to try out new restaurants. During our last trip up there, Caitlyn and I swung by Poppycock’s in Traverse City.

Located on Front Street, Poppycock’s might have a silly sounding name, but we assure you, it’s all business when it comes to delivering high-quality, flavorful dishes. With a vegetarian-friendly menu and trendy vibe, it was certainly a nice way to unwind after a busy day of renovating The Frankfort House.

We were starving when we got there, so we started with Poppycock’s Pita Chips, a plate of lightly fried parm-dusted pita points with homemade salsa, hummus and melty Jarlsberg cheese. Our waitress could tell we were clearly hungry, so she bought out some more warm, fresh pitas (I believe it was just $2 more).

For the main course, the Mrs. ordered up the Greek Quinoa salad, which is mostly what it sounds like, with feta, kalamata olives and mustard balsamic vinaigrette. She added on a cup of the tasty Tomato Spinach Swiss soup. Together, the two complemented each other quite well and made for a full meal.

The whole spread.

The whole spread.

Meanwhile, I ordered the extremely rich and decadent root vegetable pot pie, which consisted of caramelized fennel, onion, parsnips and sweet potatoes with spinach, double cream brie and marsala shitake cream sauce. Of course, a flaky puff pastry piece was neatly positioned on top. Even though it was quite rich, I was surprised that I was still able to finish it all and did not feel too full afterwards.

Still, we didn’t quite make it to dessert, which is unfortunate, as Poppycock’s has a whole display up front full of delectable treats to tempt your sweet tooth.

Need some artwork too? Poppycock’s has artwork on display — and for sale — on its walls. Talk about one-stop shopping/dining!

Poppycock’s is certainly worth the trip, and with ample parking in downtown T.C. (especially during the off-season), it’s not a challenge to get to.

So, next time someone tells you they just want to go to McDonald’s for dinner, turn to them and say “poppycock!” and head to Front Street.

Caitlyn’s and Kris’ Eggs-celent Adventure

Our new (and first) chickens like to eat ... a lot.

Our new (and first) chickens like to eat … a lot.

It’s been a week since we acquired our first three chickens for our new coop and attached run and … so far, so good.

Neither Caitlyn nor I have any experience with raising chickens, outside of the one class we attended at Agrarian near Broad Ripple a couple months back. But, so far, it turns out that’s all the education we’ve needed as we enter the world of backyard egg production at our urban Indianapolis home.

Too busy to raise chicks, we bought three pullets (that’s an adolescent-ish chicken, for you non-poultry folks) from a nice lady south of town, although we picked them up in a parking lot of a Speedway gas station, which felt a little weird, but, given how we acquired our dog, Bailey (in a parking lot of a YMCA), I guess that’s how we roll these days.

Two Rhode Island Reds, named Lucy and Louise, and one Buff Orpington named Daisy are the foundation of our flock. We’re still trying to sort out who’s at the top of the pecking order, but it looks like Daisy has the lead, although, big Louise could still make a power play. Lucy’s clearly more content with following the others.

Only chumps eat from the bottom of the feeder.

Only chumps eat from the bottom of the feeder…unless you have a short, scrawny neck like Louise here.

Daisy’s the curious one — always stepping out from the pack and usually among the first out of the coop in the morning — while Louise likes to perch (and poop) on just about anything, including the birds’ feeder and water fount. All three are content with eating pretty much all day long. Our coop will be a microcosm of obesity in Indiana, I fear.

A little confusion the first couple nights, as the birds were more content sleeping together on the floor of the coop rather than on the perches inside, but they’re getting there. They hate being handled, but we make it a point to do so most every day just so they kind of get used to it. Side note: Daisy let me know the other day this was not cool and peed on my jacket. Louise was also not happy when Caitlyn was holding Lucy and I Daisy, letting out stressful wails from the coop; I promptly was given two chickens to hold while the wife grabbed the pouting poultry.

Daisy, the alpha chick(?), with my alpha chick, Caitlyn.

Daisy, the alpha chick(?), with my alpha chick, Caitlyn.

Bailey and Jackson, naturally, are intrigued by the chickens, and the former makes every effort to barrel into the run as soon as we open the door, so handling our pullets is a bit of a two-person job as one person needs to restrain the pooch. Jackson is more content just with hanging out on the coop’s roof and craning his neck down to see what’s going on below.

Our three ladies chirp — a lot — but no more than your average small bird in a tree … and there are lots of trees in our neighborhood, so it’s not really noticeable beyond a few feet from the coop. They enjoy playing keep away when we toss kitchen scraps or tree blossoms into the coop, but aren’t so good at playing keep away when Caitlyn or I step into the run, all running to one corner and thereby trapping themselves in our clutch.

Caitlyn’s already talking about future chickens and ours won’t even start laying eggs for another four months!

2015 Project Days at The Frankfort House

LET'S DO THIS! Our annual Project Days get underway at The Frankfort House with some heavy-duty paint work.

LET’S DO THIS! Our annual Project Days get underway at The Frankfort House with some heavy-duty paint work.

For the second consecutive April, Caitlyn and I took a weeklong trip to The Frankfort House to gussy up the grand old dame, in preparation for the busy summer rental season.

We went it with a list a mile long of projects to complete and, naturally, we bit off more than we could chew. After cleaning and fixing up lots of little things in the house, we turned our attention to the first big project: Painting the exposed ductwork and rafters in the basement ceiling a nice, dark green.

The basement ceiling before (left) and after (right). We also gutted out old, dilapidated shelves.

The basement before (left) and after (right). We also gutted out old, dilapidated shelves.

There’s no nice way to say this, but the basement is creepy. Half of it is what they call a “Michigan basement,” with dirt floors and a glorified crawl space and the other half is more like what you would expect in a house, with cement floors and unfinished walls. You fully expect at any time that a possum or raccoon will jump out of the Michigan basement side or that you’ll get shanked if you don’t watch your back. That’s unfortunate, because the laundry is in the basement and it’s either overcoming your fears or emitting odors for a week. Toss in an awkward back stairwell with inconsistent step heights and you need a Sherpa to make the ascent back up.

The back stairwell was a little ... rough.

The back stairwell was a little … rough.

We felt painting the ceilings (which we did) and the floors and walls (which we didn’t) would help liven up this scary part of the house, so we purchased a Wagner Power Plus Paint Sprayer from Menard’s during our binge shopping at the 11% off sale. Reviewers online, as well as relatives, warned us of paint sprayers. “They’ll clog up,” they said. “They’ll sputter paint,” they added.

Well, we’re happy to report that after nearly four gallons of Behr paint (only available at the Home Depot and our go-to for wall and ceiling paint), the sprayer worked perfectly. Sure, our masks and goggles got coated in green paint, but it worked out in the end and already makes the basement look three times nicer. We found so long as you were meticulous with taking apart and cleaning the parts in warm water afterwards, there never was a problem.

The back stairwell is now a little more inviting, although, still much work to do.

The back stairwell is now a little more inviting, although, still much work to do with the stairs.

While we couldn’t get to ripping out the existing stair treads and ripping up all the vinyl titles, we were able to paint the stairwell and frame the side door, which previously was unframed and oozing insulation around the edges.

Framing and molding hasn’t just been an issue in the stairway. The “crown” molding in the living and dining space has always presented challenges for us. The previous owners left crown molding, but we had countless fits trying to cut and get it up, even after watching several YouTube videos, so we admitted defeat and acquired some standard non-crown molding for the ceiling. It’s nothing fancy, but it helped to finish the hack job done on the attic’s sliding ladder trim and makes everything a little more polished since we added the baseboard and floor molding last year.

One of these days, stairs ...

One of these days, stairs …

New twin beds from Restoration Hardware are on the way and, hopefully, we’ll finally get some décor up on the walls in time for the summer rush this year!

The Frankfort House is starting to look more like a home.

Indy Restaurant Review: Rook, Yard House

Tasty vittles at Yard House.

Tasty vittles at Yard House.

The downtown Indy restaurant scene has really blossomed over the past year and Caitlyn and I got a chance this past week to try two new-ish food joints, Rook and Yard House.


Cozy and cute, Rook is a nice addition to Fletcher Place.

Cozy and cute, Rook is a nice addition to Fletcher Place.

Rook, not for the claustrophobic, is a teeny, shotgun restaurant sandwiched between Chilly Water Brewing Company and The Bureau, inside the Hinge Building in Fletcher Place. Rook bills itself as “contemporary Asian cuisine,” and it’s hard not to see why.

I tried the Curry Noodles, which came with eggplant, fried tofu, mint, basil, shallots, mushrooms, bell pepper and pickled red onion. As you might expect, it packed a little bit of a spicy punch, but nothing I couldn’t overcome. The tofu was perfectly fried — just a little crispy and not too hard to munch.

Noodle this one.

Noodle this one.

Caitlyn ordered up the Ra Mein Noodles, with mushroom, gai lain, peas, pickled mustard greens, cabbage and fermented black beans and added a fried egg. A little sweeter than the Curry Noodles, the Ra Mein would be a nice alternative for vegetarians not interested in tofu. In addition to what we got, Rook is also known for its “steamed buns,” which are sort of a dumpling-like concoction that comes with either avocado or pork belly.

If Asian isn’t your thing and you’d rather look at TVs than talking to your companion during dinner, we suggest Yard House, located in part of the former Nordstrom space downtown.


It's spinach, so it's healthy, right?

It’s spinach, so it’s healthy, right?

With TVs everywhere you turn, Yard House is a great, upper-scale venue for watching sports and taking in any of the 100+ beers on tap. We visited on its second night, so new employees and trainees were about just as ubiquitous as the TVs. We had a friendly server who chatted with us about March Madness (MSU all the way, baby!) and was extremely prompt in taking our order and getting us our food.

Normally, Caitlyn and I aren’t big fans of the chain restaurant scene, but Yard House does something we haven’t seen before at chain restaurant: Offer a full menu made with Gardein meatless products. I got the Gardein buffalo wings and they were fantastic. Honestly, it’d be hard to tell they weren’t real boneless wings.

Caitlyn got the pear and Gorgonzola flatbread, a cheesy-meets-sweet dish, thanks to the balsamic dressing drizzled over the top. She also ordered a salad that impressed her with the corn being from corn on the cob. We shared the spinach dip appetizer, which came out with eight massive, thin and salty pita chips for dipping.

Yard House tip: Get there between 3-6 pm Monday-Friday for deals on lots of dishes. The spinach dip was $4 off when we went, as were my wings. Who doesn’t need more delicious food for less money?

The service was stellar, although, we wonder how it will be in a couple of months once the new shine wears off. The ambience was … loud. If you want to hear who’s sitting across the table from you, be prepared to lean in real close or yell. Then again, it’s an upscale sports bar and not the Capital Grille, so that’s to be expected.

All in all, two great new-ish restaurant experiences for those looking to branch out in Indy.

Link Roundup: 12-Hour Travel Show, Happy Trails, Good Websites

Woof. Woof. Find a dogsitter with

Woof. Woof. Find a dogsitter with

We haven’t been traveling much lately: Between paying for a new roof on The Frankfort House, buying a chicken coop and hens (well, the hens are coming next month), and various repairs on the Indy house the past few months, the most traveling we’ve done is to the suburbs and Home Depot isn’t just that exciting an experience to blog about, so you get another link roundup. Hooray!

11 Reasons Why Travel Makes You a Happier Person: Another listicle, courtesy of HuffPo, I would add or stress “trying something new.” Whether it’s food, or an experience, travelling opens your mind.

Travel Channel Unveils 12-Hour Show: 30-minute shows are for chumps, or at least that’s what the Travel Channel thinks. Follow their crew on a live 12-hour road trip and get your Car Bingo ready.

10 Websites Changing the Way We Travel: There’s a list like this every week on the Interwebs, but this one actually has a couple of interesting links, including “DogVacay.”

Marriott Launches New Website to Woo Younger Travelers: Marriott execs liken marketing to millennials as dating. Will they wait three days after the first date before texting?

Which flight will get you there fastest?

This tool might look dry at first, but it's addictive!

This tool might look dry at first, but it’s addictive!

The data geeks over at the FiveThirtyEight blog have cooked up a pretty addictive—and interesting—travel tool. Analyzing six million flights, the team figured out not only which airports will get you where you need to go fastest, but even, on average how many minutes will be added or subtracted to your flight based on your chosen airlines.

You can pretty much pick any origin airport to get its stats and then add your destination and see how efficient your airport is in getting there. Users can even look at airlines and see which ones are more efficient by month.

A pretty cool tool that might be good for those near lots of airports, but not so much for those in smack-dab in the middle of Indiana.

Play with the tool online now.

Link Roundup: Mastering Google Flights, Best Travel Apps, Travel Insurance ‘Gotchas’

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.18.46 PMOK, I’ve been a little lax in updating the blog lately, so accept this post of useful travel-related links as my apology!

6 Google Flight tricks: Chances are, you’ve used this at least once, but are you using it effectively?

10 Essential Travel Apps: Wouldn’t be a list without one of these type of stories.

12 Ways to Pack, Travel Light: Always a good story to re-read before a flight.

Avoiding Travel Insurance “gotchas”: Don’t get burned by travel insurance! Know the risks — and the costs.

U.S. Dollar’s Strength Makes Europe Travel a Bargain: At long last, the USD is closing in on the Euro (although, it still has a ways to go).

Review: Annie at the Murat

Leapin' lizards! It's Annie!

Leapin’ lizards! It’s Annie!

Much to the astonishment of my wife, I’ve never seen “Annie.” But that was about to change, thanks to Indianapolis City Market, which gave us four free tickets to see the pint-sized redhead, Daddy Warbucks, Ms. Hannigan and more during its national tour at the Murat Theatre downtown on Opening Night.

All I really knew in advance was that some precocious girl named Annie starts off in an orphanage, sings a Jay-Z song with a bunch of other orphans and eventually gets adopted by some rich Republican. Oh, and that there’s a dog.

What I didn’t know is how much I would love seeing this musical in person. Issie Swickle hit it out of the park as the title character, from her “Oh, gee-s” and “leapin’ lizards” to the staple song “Tomorrow.” How can you not root for someone so lovable? Hannigan, played by Lynn Andrews, nearly steals the show with her over-the-top, supporting comedic performance, but everyone—from FDR to the supporting cast—all did a superb job of complementing one another and the script. Even Sandy was played by a real dog, well, two, actually, who together pull off a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen-type performance.



I consulted with my wife on the costumes—her background is in history—and she approved (I can never tell if anything is historically accurate, rather, it either just looks “cool” or “uncool”). The sets were sufficient and completed the illusion that you were in 1930s New York City.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, 11-year-old Annie is in a girls’ orphanage and is eventually brought to the billionaire Oliver Warbucks’ posh NYC mansion for two weeks around Christmas. What starts off as a vacation of sorts from the orphanage turns into a full-fledged adoption, but not without first trying to find Annie’s biological parents and dealing with some schemers who want to claim Annie and Warbucks’ $50,000 reward for her real parents. Toss in a rather funny scene at The White House with FDR and his advisors and you might be surprised how one of the most innovative programs to come out of Washington, D.C., The New Deal, came to be! They never taught me that part in my high school history class …

Annie plays at the Murat through Sunday.