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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • and welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with Rusty, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just the two of us - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with your cup of tea and begin reading. Enjoy, friends! (Latest posts on the right!) --->

Hello, dear friends. Do you have your cup of tea? Perhaps a mug of coffee? Are you ready to see my final wedding?

If you’ve been following me for the past year or so, you’d already know I’m officially retired from weddings and other photography sessions. However, after announcing my retirement in 2016 two lovely brides slipped through the sliding door; Linnea and MaryRose. (You can read about Linnea’s beautiful July wedding here.)

I remember the exact night when Mary called me, her excited voice squealing through the phone; ’twas a misty foggy night in December of 2013 and I had just finished an engagement session in Downtown Stillwater. Her and Byron had just been looking at rings and a wedding was definitely in their future. So over the last few years, our lunches and coffee dates and HomeGoods shopping trips have consisted of wedding planning, future dreams and goals, life’s ups and downs, and reminiscing about the year we met, when I had first moved to St. Cloud to be near Paul when he moved away for college.

As she was taking over my shift at Walgreens one night nearly 10 years ago, she told me Paul was definitely going to propose, she could just feel it. A few days later I came back with a shiny new diamond on my finger and our wedding planning chats began taking place in the break room at work, on shopping trips in St. Cloud, and during long drives to teach Saturday morning pre-school classes together.

She’s the type of friend where distance is irrelevant and time spent apart creates zero strife in our relationship. Each time we get together we catch up where we left off, cheering each other on in life’s accomplishments and always being a bad influence on each other when shopping for unnecessary HomeGoods treasures (mostly things for our dogs). I’m so thankful to still have her in my life after all these years. I’m thankful we became friends when we were silly teenagers (even though at the time we disagreed on Team Jacob or Team Edward (we were 19, don’t judge)) and that she was there when Paul and I were married seven years ago, and that she always tries to motivate me to exercise (she has dragged me to kickboxing classes against my will – it’s her way of loving me), and that she trusted me enough to photograph her beautiful wedding day (and fed me mimosas during, too :)).

I love her and Byron together. Byron is completely genuine. He’s kind, he’s crazy about Mary, he spoils their dogs, he’s incredibly hard-working, he’s hilarious – I couldn’t be more happy that my wonderful friend has found a wonderful person to ride the ride of life with. I love you both and I hope you enjoy your sneak peek. Xoxo times a million.

PS. You’ll see Paul in here, but guess what?? This was my first and only time shooting a wedding alone!! Ahh!

My beautiful friend.

Love them all.

:) :) :)

They held the entire day in their wooded backyard, down a windy country road with lots of crunchy leaves.

Everything was done with love, even the flowers were from her friend’s garden.

First look. :)

:) :) :)

Happy tears, of course. :)

The colors were so bold – loved them.

Her smile is so infectious. :)

Love them both.

PUPPIES!!!

:) :) :)

What every bride wants to do when she gets to the end of the aisle. :)

It was a bit chilly so the boys lent their coats to the girls. :)

Byron’s brother performed the ceremony – so much laughter and smiles and happy tears.

Just married!!!

Paul and I were huge fans of the puppies, especially Hagrid who reminded us of Rusty. :)

It looks like I don’t have eyeballs in that photo, but trust me, they’re there.

:) :) :)

It’s always so sweet when a momma joins the dance.

So sweet. :)

…and I can’t wait to watch them live happily ever after.

Hi friends. Relaxing music for you? I’ve got just the thing. (When Harry Met Sally always reminds me this time of year.)

I usually write to you in the early evenings, late afternoons. I’m not a morning person. Most people who truly know me can vouch for that. I am no good before 9am. My brain takes a few hours to fully turn on so I get most of my productive creative work done later on in the day. I’d rather stay up until midnight working than waking up before dawn to begin – something about the darkness in the morning makes me antsy and alone. I don’t like it.

So, here I am. It’s 6:10pm here in our home and Paul is just getting on the bus to come home from work. I have a good 30 minutes of quality time with you until I’m distracted by chats with Paul and snuggles with Rusty. Shall we begin?

I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting these last few days on how I can better spend my time. Perhaps I sound a bit spoiled when I write this next sentence, but ever since just taking a part-time job on top of trying to make something on my own, I’ve felt completely off and a bit like I’m always trying to catch up, especially around the house. You people who are not only leaving the house and going to a full-time job, but are also parenting and maybe trying to create your own side business, I give you so much credit. How do you do it? You are probably superheroes. If I had a hat on I’d take it off to you.

I am a creature of habit and routine. Although I loved my summer vacation days as a child and dreaded the thought of homework, I couldn’t wait to get back to school and have a safe and reliable routine. It kept me grounded and gave me comfort knowing I was on some sort of path.

Because this part-time job is new for me (if I didn’t tell you already I’m teaching art classes during the week and I love it) and because I’m still trying to make something of my art as a business, my days are a bit scattered. My teaching schedule changes, sometimes weekly, and when I’m home I’m trying to figure out my priorities with my business since my hours are more limited. Do I work on advertising? Finances? Painting? Designing? Blogging? Photography? Photoshop? And the list continues…

Besides business and jobs and such, I crave perfection in my house as well. I grew up in a home that was always tidy, meals were always planned, and during the holidays home was the most comforting place in the world. Every season my mother pulled out the decor from the basement totes and boxes, put them on the dining room table, and began to pull general decor from the walls, shelves, tables, windows, etc. She had a gift of pouring each holiday into the house at full blast. We watched the most perfect fall and Halloween movies, Thanksgiving movies, and Christmas movies throughout the appropriate months. We ate food that was warm and familiar during the chill of those months, and inside our house was home.

As an adult, I’ve tried to imitate that. I make sure my house looks as cozy as our house looked growing up. I light the pumpkin candles and keep apples hanging in the fruit basket in the kitchen. I have garlands of leaves strewn about the rooms and I have electric jack-o-lanterns lit up at night. And when the mood strikes, Disney’s Sleepy Hollow and Charlie Brown’s Halloween movie is on the TV with the fireplace humming and pouring out heat. During Christmas it looks like an elf exploded in our home. I’m thankful my mother taught me priorities.

Do you want to know the one thing that has been causing me to feel like I can’t enjoy it all and balance everything in my life? It’s the silliest thing. It’s meals. Meals, people!! Because I don’t have time to make home-cooked meals lately I feel as if I’m failing Paul and I. These are the months when I want to have food cooking in the crockpot or a chicken roasting in the oven and the house is enveloped in days gone by. These are my most favorites months of the year. So, we go to the grocery store and pile up on veggies and meat and all the good stuff with organic labels and even with all the best intentions, it usually goes to waste and I feel extremely guilty (I feel guilty just typing that). Instead we’ll go out to eat or one of us will pick up fast food – it’s a terrible habit but we just don’t have time. I’m trying to accept that.

So last night, after teaching and before Paul came home, I “cooked” a frozen bag of pasta, veggies, and chicken for 12 minutes. I lit candles, turned on the fireplace, fed Rusty, started laundry, did the dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher and I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder – I know how silly that sounds, don’t worry), turned on Ichabod Crane, and finally felt some relief. By the time Paul came home, the kitchen smelled like fettucine alfredo, the living room looked and smelled like a cozy pumpkin, and we had a whole stack of clean undies to help us take on the rest of the week. I hadn’t felt that productive in weeks and all because I wanted to bring perfection into every aspect of my life. No thanks. It’s frozen pizza for dinner tonight, which means I’ve had this lovely time spent with you.

I’m going to try my best to eliminate some things that add any unnecessary stress in my life, especially during this time of the year when nesting and slow moving is encouraged. What about you, friends? Is there anything that helps you prepare for this season?

xoxoxo

Meg Cooper Photography | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comI don’t often write blog posts about my personal relationship with Paul, but as our anniversary is just around the corner I thought it might be appropriate. Bear with me, friends. :)

As some of you may know already from past posts, I began dating Paul just a couple of months after turning 19. Looking back, we were both a couple of babies, but we fell head over heels for each other in an incredibly short amount of time. A couple of weeks after our first date, marriage was already getting brought up in conversations. After only dating a month, I was planning on moving nearly two hours away from home just to be near Paul. After only a few months, Paul was deciding how he wanted to ask my parents for permission to marry me. We were moving too fast; people referred to it as “the honeymoon phase” and we were warned it wouldn’t last.

Ten years later that phase hasn’t ended. We will often say to each other how lucky we are to still be head over heels for each other as well as each other’s best friend. We have seen how harsh the world has affected marriages over the past ten years and we’re so grateful we still are happy every single day. We know we’re lucky and we do our best not to take each other for granted and remind each other how much we really do like one another.

(We know that in some ways our marriage has been easier than others’. We know it’s incredibly hard having children (but also a blessing) and we also know that we (thankfully) have yet to endure major tragedies together which so often can break up a marriage. Again, we are lucky and we don’t take it for granted. However, when the time comes and we have to say good-bye to Rusty, I know I’ll be holding onto Paul for dear life.)

Marrying Paul was, quite literally, the easiest thing in the world. Being married to him is, quite literally, the easiest thing in the world. (I hope he can say the same about me. :)) He is the smartest person I know and he is my Superman. If Paul can’t fix something, I know I’m screwed. He is the most reliable and responsible person I know, someone I can depend on for anything (except to believe in magic and wizards and fairies and talking animals…but I digress).

He is my cheerleader and support system, without him I’m not sure I would have had the courage to pursue art or photography. He truly believes I can do anything, even become an accomplished violinist if I would JUST PRACTICE. (He bought me a violin three years ago because it was on my list of goals and I have yet to master anything on it because I NEVER PRACTICE…)

He is the hardest working person I know, constantly supporting the two of us and our future while I have jumped through careers just trying to land on the right one. He is the funniest person I know, one of the things I loved about him since day one. (The best part is he says the same thing about me. I knew I was funny.)

Besides my diary, he is my one true confidant. He knows everything about me, my past, and my dreams for the future. He knows my habits, he knows what I’m thinking before I get the words out, and although I don’t like to admit it, he knows I’m in a bad mood before I do. He knows I don’t particularly enjoy change, he knows I’m too hard on myself, and he knows I change my mind more often than not (when he brings that up I remind him he’s lucky I haven’t changed my mind about him.)

And of course, I think he is the best-looking boy in the whole wide world. Jack from Titanic has nothing on him and naturally, Paul keeps getting better looking with age. I love his gray hairs peppering his short black hair and beard, his big smile and perfect teeth, his beautiful brown eyes, his freckles on his ears, his one dimple on his cheek, and the fact that he has a tattoo on his back and still continues to forget he even has one. (Seriously, people will comment on it when he’s swimming or something, and he’ll totally not know what they’re talking about.)

We fight like every couple does, we go to bed annoyed or angry with each other (something that is so hard for me to do – I want to finish/continue the fight and he wants to give me the silent treatment which, for me, is the WORST THING YOU CAN DO), we make mistakes, we hurt each other’s feelings (not usually on purpose), and we bicker about what movies or TV shows to watch and directions when driving.

I don’t know what I’ve done in my life to deserve him. Sometimes I look at him and realize he’s a completely other being with his own mind and his own beating heart and his own view of the world (it’s easy to think we’re one person when I’m with him) that consciously chose me and continues choosing me every single day. It’s a surreal thought. I hope as the next sixty years float along I continue to never take him for granted. Or us.

(I also hope he reads this.)

If you’d like to relive our wedding day, click here. Our anniversary isn’t for another two weeks but the fall weather lately has me thinking it’s already mid-October. :)

Thanks for reading this, friends, and I hope it wasn’t too nauseating. :) Xoxo

Our honeymoon. :) Jamaica, 2011.

Thanks to Dana for the next two photos. :)

Climbing Dunn’s River Falls. :)

On the boat to the island for a private dinner, our favorite part of the trip.

I do love Santa. Christmas, 2012.

My graduation, 2012.Our second big trip together. Alaska, 2013.

Growing old together, us bird-watchers.

He’s always amazed at his ring indent.

Mexico for our anniversary, 2014.

Masters Graduation, 2013.

Our birthdays are two weeks apart – my family is lazy and combines both our birthdays. ;) (Just kidding, calm down.)

New York City, 2015.

One of favorite things at our first home, walks at sunset.

The most perfect pumpkin patch down the road from our first home.

Malibu, 2015.

Christmas, 2015.

Celebrating our 5-year anniversary where we spent our honeymoon, at the same resort in the same room. Jamaica, 2016.

San Diego, 2017.

:)

Selling our first home, 2017.

Buying our second home, 2017.

Christmas, 2017.

Walt Disney World, 2018.

:)

  • Gwen LarsonSeptember 26, 2018 - 6:08 pm

    Happy Anniversary to you, Nikki and Paul! This was fun reading and refreshing so many memories of you. Meg’s wedding photos were awesome. Her work reminds me of yours.? Your grandpa must really be a funny guy!! I was so hoping to see that awesome tattoo during the Honeymoon…and even had a second chance for that second one…but no luck.? Thank you for sharing your life with us. I am blessed. Xxoo to you both!ReplyCancel

    • NikkiSeptember 26, 2018 - 6:20 pm

      Gwen, you always make my day with your comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog. :) I now co-shoot weddings with Meg and we’re glad our photography styles resemble each other – it makes shooting together much easier. :) Haha Paul’s tattoo is a blue Pentecostal flame at the top of his back, an 18-year-old’s rebellion. ;) I don’t even know if I have a photo of it! I’ll have to be sure to take one. :)ReplyCancel