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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • Hello Friend…

    and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves the romantic things in life. Tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, old and worn books, slow-dancing to records, painting by candelight, lakeside walks with Rusty, and starry-night picnics with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you smiles and happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

I just love the first of the year. A new chapter, a new blank sheet, a new boost of confidence, a new attitude, a clean slate to get muddled on all over again – it’s brilliant! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years, and that Santa was good to you all and you rang in the New Year with people you love. :) Cheers to 2018!! (Can you believe it?!) Music? Why yes, let’s.

Who knew getting used to a new house would feel like an immediate loss of all sense and sensibility? (A nod to dearest Jane.) Feeling completely unsettled without any roots to hold onto I have been like a shell these past few months, going through the motions of everyday life (not being the greatest at it, but what can you do?), having sporadic moments of content and bliss, only to soon be come over with fits of inner hysteria and confusion. What is this feeling of limbo I keep having? Caught between this world and the next? Why can’t I just get a grip on anything solid and pull myself down to the ground? Or up above the murky water?

Spring Things Watercolor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comI think some people would call that anxiety. I think I would, too. (I think Paul would, too.) Where am I going with this? Nowhere, just chit-chatting about life, really. Plus, the more I’ve talked about my terribly adorable habit for worrying about nothing with other people, the more I come to realize I’m not alone. I think we’ll start a club. But now that we’ve established some groundwork here and have already built some wonderful memories, this old creaky home is beginning to feel like a safe haven. And now that the rush of the holidays has ceased, my old gardening books have surfaced on the coffee table and my dreams begin floating towards sprawling roses, fragrant basil leaves, and beautiful, rich dirt under my fingernails.

So friends, shall I catch you up with where we last left off in the story? Let’s see, Paul and I were starting to get to know our house and neighborhood a little better, painting walls and installing new sinks, celebrating our 6 years of marriage, and in the middle of enjoying autumn in our new home.

Jiminy Cricket Quote | Nikki Tran Copyright | Nikki Tran BlogFast forward a few months (can it be?!) and we’re now much more used to this old home. It really feels like home now – I give Christmas a big part in that feeling – and we’ve been settling down more and more each week. I’ve finally decided on a paint color for our living room, which until recently was sporting 4 different colors on one wall, and I continue to downsize our belongings making it feel so much more purposeful and cozy. We’ve grown accustomed to new grocery stores and where we prefer shopping and when (perhaps this sounds odd but living in a small town, deciding on where to go and when was never an issue because it was rarely busy and there were few selections), and we even have new favorite spots. I imagine we’ll have more once we can get out of this nest and explore when the weather warms up.

Rusty the Yorkipoo | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comRusty is content as ever. All he needs is a good, warm heater, a stuffed animal or two, and a well-worn bed and he’s all set. Truly adaptable species.

Although I haven’t made much progress on my blog lately, I have been working as often as possible on my new website and I’m happy to say the only thing holding it back from being live is a glitch on the technical side!! I’ve been a bit of a perfectionist with this project – more than usual – but enough is enough and it’s time I just get it out there! It’s a huge umbrella for everything I want to offer to you and your friends, family, co-workers, whomever!

Creative Business Branding – website design, logo design, social media design, business cards, etc.!!

Photography Resources – Photoshop actions, editing tutorials, webinars, and eventually much more!!

Watercolors – homemade wall art for your home, and eventually other products like cards, kitchen items, etc.!!

(Can you tell I’m super excited?!!?)

I asked a bunch of you on Facebook what web address I should have and I took your advice – I won’t share it now since it won’t work, but it’s simple and perfect for what I need. And since all small businesses need a name and my previous name is too specific, I opted for a new one. Instead of it being Nikki Tran Photography or Nikki Tran Branding, etc., it will now just be Nikki Tran. My name. That’s it. I’m hoping over the past 6 years I’ve built a bit of a brand around my name, and I’m excited because I can use my name for anything I want to do (because you know, Paul knows, and I know that I change my mind quite a bit). So my next blog post may just be introducing you to the new website!! Cross your fingers!!

Becoming Jane Watercolor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comBesides working on my website and trying to suffocate random bouts of anxiety, I manage to find time to fit in the little things in life that mean the most. I’ve been working on some lovely commission watercolor prints lately, something I’m truly excited about, and am now working on my latest, a homesteading theme – I’m in love! As ecstatic and flattered as I was 6 years ago when people began booking me for photography sessions and weddings, I’m even more so when people hire me to simply paint things for them. What an incredible treat for me.

I was able to see some really beautiful paintings this week, made by the littlest hands with the biggest hearts. My nephews spent the entire week with us while their parents were on a tiny island of paradise for their anniversary, and we attempted all sorts of things with our paintbrushes. I loved seeing their giddiness when they completed a painting, handed it to me to scan and design, and saw their finished art printed into a card. They were so proud, I was so thrilled. In between staying in our PJs all day and playing video games (Uncle Paul and I are thoroughly addicted to Cars 2 Battle Racing), there was lots of reading, chess playing, battle ship sinking, chocolate snacking, starry ceiling bubble baths, and 90’s movie watching (again, I was just so thrilled). It was a magical week and I’m pretty homesick for them right now, if I’m being honest. I’ve called Paul “Uncle Paul” numerous times already and expect to see their stuffed animals and books scattered around my office. Auntie life is the good life.

And now it’s time for me to ride off into the sunset. Paul’s about to get off his bus and I must rescue him from the cold.

Until we meet again, dear friends! Stay warm!! xoxo

Hello dear friends!

(Music? Yes, let’s.)

We’ve been busy over here, adjusting to the new home and life we’re making in this quiet neighborhood tucked inside the Twin Cities. The bathroom upstairs already has been getting a lovely makeover – brown has turned to blue, tan to white, and an old sink has been replaced by a new, old looking, pedestal sink. It’s something like a mini spa to me. I’ve always wanted a blue bathroom – for some reason the old house’s bathroom never became one. Perhaps it was all the orange wood and the absence of a window.

The little bathroom in our new home has a big window with white trim, the door is white, the trim is white, the freestanding tub is white (I would call it a claw foot tub but sadly the feet were removed – no idea why!!), and our new storage organizer above the toilet is white. Everything is bright, and really it should be, especially in that size of a bathroom (when Paul and I are in there together brushing our teeth, we have to do a little dance to get around each other and the door). It’s not quite done, but I’ll show you some progress photos. I’ll be hanging a few art prints on the wall still, and I’m planning on free-handing some words over the doorway. I’m still not quite sure. I love that it feels spa-ish to me. I’m honing in on that feeling.

So here is our bathroom before we moved in, taken from the MLS website. It still looked like this until a couple of weeks ago when we decided to change out the sink. It was too small and I really had no room for much in that area.

We bought this lovely. :) I’ve always wanted a pedestal sink ever since living in my childhood home and we’ve always loved bronze hardware, thus our decision to pick this combo. Once Paul took the old sink out, we realized the pipes were pretty far out from the wall, hence the pop-out bead board wall Paul had to add behind the sink, otherwise there would be a huge gap. :)

Here it is completely finished (except for a tiny bit I have to paint on the edge)! Isn’t it lovely?! I started painting the top part of the walls a very light blue (called Streetwise from Behr) – it’s not yet finished. :) And when it’s time for calming bubble baths, I light that candle and only have the lamp on for light. It’s divine.

Bathroom Remodel | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here’s the other side of the bathroom BEFORE I did anything to it. The rack behind the toilet came with it, but it was pretty wobbly and things would often fall through the shelves. I needed better storage. I’d been getting ready every morning in the much tinier bathroom on the main floor (it’s right off of Paul’s office) and I just wanted this space to have my things (Paul’s bathroom is the beautiful one in the basement – subway tiles, a heater, vanity sink…it’s lovely.)

And here we are today with it! The bottom will all be white to blend in with the tub and bead board wall, and the blue is on the top. We got the beautiful storage cabinet from Target (it looks incredibly crooked when looking directly at it, but our house is old. Floors are slanted. What can you do? :)) That art print on the storage container is available in my Etsy shop in case any of you want some lovely Jane Austen words in your own cozy bathroom (or any room in general, it’s not picky).  What do you think? Does it feel spa-ish to you?? :)

I’m beginning to love so much about this place. The sun is absolutely divine when I come home from work. It’s cut from the blinds and makes patterns on the corner hutch in the kitchen, and it bounces off the fall colors in the dining room making it extra warm and snug. The living room is a tiny little cave during the day, and then in the afternoon it’s full of warmth and little pockets of light. The sun sets right in front of our porch, pouring into the living room through the tree branches. I was worried, when we moved in, that we wouldn’t have any light in this house because it was so close to the neighbors and surrounded by so many trees. But it’s proved me wrong and I adore the speckles of light on the walls throughout the day.

NikkiWe’ve been hosting a bit more now that things are settling down. There are still boxes and random artwork lying around – a few too many stacks of books piled in corners on the old, wood, floors – but we’d never see people if we waited until the house was perfect. My aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and immediate family came over for pumpkin pie, Easter pizzas, donuts, and drinks the other weekend. We talked and sipped in the light of that gorgeous sun. They all approved of our new house, stamping it with love and hugs.

Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comPaul’s family came over this past weekend to celebrate my nephew’s 9th birthday, complete with ice-cream cake and magic shows. (He is incredible – someday we’ll be reading about him and how he began to do magic at the age of 7.) We showed his parents our new home, chatted over pizza and cake, and ended the evening watching the beloved The Little Giants movie with the kids and our brother, Joe. (I relive my youth every single time I watch that movie. Becky was my hero and Jr. made me swoon.)

And then just a few nights ago, Paul and I celebrated being married for 6 years. (I’m lucky, I know.) Although our anniversary was Sunday, he surprised me with dinner reservations on Friday night at a cute farm-to-table restaurant down the road (it reminded me of one of my favorite restaurants in Jamaica). We ate duck and sweet potatoes, sipped wine and beer, and cheered to 6 years over an on-the-house triple chocolate shooter. Perfection.

Our Anniversary | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

In between the busy-ness of our everyday lives, I try to sneak in time to paint. I’ve been creating homemade cards for my family whenever there’s a birthday or special occasion, and I’ve been having the most fun with it. My family and I have a lot of inside jokes, mostly from old movies, so there’s always details only they would appreciate. For example, my dad’s Father’s Day card is below…from Field of Dreams. :) I’m just finishing my nephew’s birthday card – he’s a fan of the pizza-eating turtles so his card will have some green faces and cheese-dripping pizza painted on.

Field of Dreams Watercolor Card | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And that’s pretty much been life over here. One of our guilty pleasure shows is on (Naked and Afraid – don’t judge until you watch. It’s unbelievable.), Rusty is snuggled in the few inches between me and the couch, and I’m still on a mini cloud 9 after visiting our old town after having a dentist appointment today. (I love my hygienist so I don’t plan on changing dentists, no matter the drive.)

After the dentist I walked down the street to my favorite antique store – where almost everything in our house is from – found an old library’s lecturn that will be used as a bookcase, an old photograph of our old town, and an old, crinkly copy of Treasure Island. I walked out with all my goodies, packed them in the car, then took a short walk to the coffeehouse to get my favorite coffee smoothie. With coffee in hand, I roamed the streets of my favorite little town, soaking in the sights and sounds and probably looking a bit odd to others with my big smile on my face. It’s autumn and that town looks like a postcard. I could just kiss it. The lake was bright blue and people were walking everywhere. When I made my rounds through my favorite spots, I drove to our old street and was too thankful my neighbors were outside. We hugged, caught up with life, played fetch with Harley, and then it was time for me to go home. The sky is still there, open and beautiful as always. The trees are bursting with color, and our little lake is still glistening with the setting sun. I love that place, but as always it’s wonderful to be home with Paulie and Rusty, no matter where that is.

Have a wonderfully, autumn-like weekend, friend! I’m hoping we’ll have some time to pick out that most perfect pumpkin, perhaps pick an apple or 5, and drink tea on the front porch. :) Cheers, friends! xoxo

Home at Night | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

  • MelanieNovember 22, 2017 - 8:06 pm

    love hearing your updates and glad for all your good news…ReplyCancel

    • NikkiNovember 27, 2017 - 6:44 pm

      You are too kind, Melanie! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! :) xoxoReplyCancel

Nikki Tran Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello dear friends. Some relaxing music before we start? Yes, let’s.

I feel as if this conversation has consumed my entire being for the last few months, so I’m hoping this will be the last big chat about it on my blog – hopefully you’re not too sick of hearing about it. (I feel so melodramatic about the subject, but what can I say?)

Our first home will be officially sold tomorrow. Paul and I pre-signed on Monday, the new owner is officially signing tomorrow afternoon. It’s hard to believe it’s actually happening!

We had a wonderful good-bye, however. On Sunday, after watching Rusty’s best friend for the weekend (he was so thrilled!), we drove him and his things back to his house since it’s right across the street from our lovely old home. I punched in their garage code, left Harley inside the house with all his goodies, shut the garage door, and walked across the street to our home one last time.

Paul and I cleaned out the rest of the house – there wasn’t much left except a few odds and ends. The curtains had been shut for a few weeks so I opened them to dark, moody clouds over the lake, let the windows open to breathe life into her…gave her a little last bit of love. Our best friend/neighbor Kraig came over (walked in just like on Seinfield like he always has done) to help Paul move some heavy things from the house, and while they were taking care of that important stuff, I had other important things on my mind.

Out the dining room doors I went, onto the deck, breathed in a big cold breath of fresh air, and walked towards the garden. My lavender was doing so well – boldly purple and smelling like Heaven; the roses were still springing tiny bushels of sweet-smelling buds; the hydrangeas were already turning its dark and moody color for the winter; the apples were ripe and bright red hanging from the tree; and the vegetable garden was still somehow flourishing – no consistent water and no love in a few weeks, you’d think it would stop producing? It had just rained but I opened the gate and walked through the mud anyways. The bell peppers were enormous and turning red (of course I picked a few, wouldn’t you?), the jalapenos were also bright red, and the basil…oh that delicious basil. I couldn’t be greedy – I have a basil plant in my kitchen so it can always smell like summer. I picked things here and there, dodged a few dropping apples, and made my way through the rest of the yard, watching the lake move angrily about. Winds in the East and such…

Nikki and Paul Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comAfter all the work was done in the house – I went back in to help vacuum and clean some last minute things – Paul asked if I wanted to walk through one last time. Of course – why else have their been tears on the brims of my eyes this entire time? Time to let it all out!

So we walked through each room, me touching the walls and making sure everything looked just right for the new owner, trying to remember this house’s every little detail. Out to the yard we went, our favorite part about this house. We walked along the stone path to the swing – something we would do a lot, especially on those over-stressful days at work or in life – and took our spots to enjoy the lake. We didn’t say much, I was too busy sniffling and wiping my eyes. But we sat there taking in all the sounds and smells of this little corner of Heaven (to us it really was), knowing that the next time we see it, it’ll be from afar while visiting Kraig or Bruce and Traci. What an odd thing to think of! Someone else living here? Goodness, I hope he keeps the roses.

As we made our way back inside, we stopped at the garden – Paul grabbed a red jalapeno for us to try (hot, hot, hot) and I clipped a rose from each rosebush to hang and dry at our new home.

Sentimental? Me? No way.

We said one last good-bye to the inside of our first home and pulled the screen door behind us for the last time. My heart may have actually broken a tiny bit at that moment.

Paul had us take a picture outside in the front yard (as you can see above my eyeballs are a little red and shiny) and then we gathered our things and hopped inside the pickup truck.

Nikki Tran Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comAnd now here we are, picking up where we left off; a home-cooked meal here and there with the sound of records finishing, long walks through the quiet neighborhoods (the best for trick-or-treating), and the deliciously slow, hot, bubble baths with a glass of wine in hand. Life’s little treasures, right? We’re having an impromptu family party this weekend – I absolutely can’t wait. It’s time to fill this old (new) house with a lot of love and “Dear Diary” moments.

Rusty is pawing at me to go to bed now – who needs a clock around here? Jammies are already on, the heat is set so the mornings aren’t so chilly and feeling like winter, Paul’s getting us glasses of water, and there’s a lovely book about Walt Disney waiting for me on my nightstand.

Cheers to you, dear friends, and to the (almost) weekend! xoxo