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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!) --->

Hello dearest friends!

It’s time for an update, wouldn’t you say? The last you heard from me I was raiding my garden for as much basil as possible before the big move. And now we’re here!!

(Music? Yes please.)

It has been a whirlwind to say the least. The past few weeks have flown by and we’re already on our 3rd week of living here. We’ve already had dinners in our dining room while Frank serenades us; we’ve drank wine under the twinkle lights on the front porch; we’ve had big breakfasts on a lazy Saturday morning (if you follow me on Instagram you know that’s one of my most favorite things to do on a weekend); we’ve taken walks at sunset along picket-fence lined houses; we’ve had movie nights in the tiny, cozy, dark living room; and we’ve already begun dreaming for our new garden(s).

Moving itself was a lot of work. Who knew one could accumulate so many things in a short amount of time?? (We lived in our first home for only 5 years.) Needless to say I’m in a down-sizing mood. Is it useful? Do I absolutely love it? Fine. If not, it goes. Why do we need 8 sets of dishes?? 16 champagne glasses? 10 tablecloths? Clothes I haven’t worn in over a year? It’s just the two of us so I have to keep that in mind when I look at our belongings. Someday Paul and I are going to live in a much smaller house (think Tiny House Hunters but a few more 100 square feet) so purchasing and decorating needs to be intentional over here, for my sanity and for the sake of our old house’s creaky beams.

While it was a lot of work, we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful neighbors/friends & family. Kraig, Bruce, and Traci helped so much on our first night here (the guys + Paul moved almost every single piece of furniture in here in one haul. I am still so grateful when I look at all our stuff). My sister Toni came to help that night, too, bringing with her a sense of home and belonging with some lovely house-warming gifts. Having her there helped truly make it feel more like home (sisters are good like that) – between us 3 girls we made sure the boys were fed and had enough beer and wine to drink (I hear that helps achy moving muscles). Of course I cried when they all left and kept wanting more hugs as they backed out of our driveway…

Paul’s brother Joe and my niece and nephew (Emily and Ethan) came over the following day and did even more good to our home. While Joe and Paul tackled big moving tasks and hung up TV’s (very important around here ;)), Ethan and Emily carried in more boxes from our moving trailer, I unpacked, and together we were able to make this place a little more liveable. At one point all the boys went to Home Depot for more tools/necessary just-moved-in items (like chocolate) so Emily and I turned on the music and began decorating. She helped me move the big rug around and lay it just right under the dining room table; she carefully unwrapped my tea things and made my tea cart feel at home with all the teacups and teapots nicely arranged; she helped me decide which pretty books would go on the bookcase and which ones would have to wait for another bookcase (we left the fireplace at our other home for the next owner so I’m without much needed shelves). With girl talk and decorating and sipping tea, she was the other big reason this house felt more like a home that night.

And once the dust settled and things began to come even more together, we had my entire little family over – only 3 days into moving! We unpack quick. It’s still so new to me when we all are able to get together as a family. You might remember from previous posts that my brother and his family lived in New York for quite some time and only just moved back to Minnesota a little over a year ago. So these times with them all together are precious to me. Having all four nephews over at once is the highlight of my day and sometimes I can’t help but join in on their fun or snuggle with them during a good movie. (They keep getting bigger each time I see them. Noo!! Stay little!! Hold my hand forever!!)

I tried to document the first weekend here with all the help coming and going (except for the first night with the neighbors and my sister – ’twas a fast-paced-all-work-no-play night and they did it wonderfully). Be warned, there are a lot of photos, but I barely documented the beginning of our last house and I don’t want to miss anything this time. :)

And now that life is settling down again, I’ll be back on here at least once a week. I’ve got loads to tell you, lots to show you, and my long list of blog ideas are waiting to be crossed off. :)

We close on our first home in just a few weeks – I know I’ll be a mess after signing the house away, but I know I’ll learn to love this house the way I loved our first. Ah! Just thinking about it gets me all teary-eyed. :'( I recorded a few videos of life in the country before we left so I could always hear those sounds and almost feel like I was in our garden or among the cornfields.

Anyways!!! No more sad talk! :) Enjoy the new home, friends! And excuse the mess, of course. :) xoxoxo

We closed on a Thursday so right after signing Paul and I took our already-packed trailer to the new house. :)

Welcome to my new office! The light is absolutely dreamy in here.

We know what’s important – kitchen table and chairs with a cozy lamp was the first thing in the house.

We. Have. A. Storm. Cellar.

The bright dining room! See the details on the trim?? Even the electrical outlets are so beautiful.

We didn’t spend the night the first day. Instead on Friday, Paul and I met at the new house after work (I brought food, he brought another packed trailer) and we started our first official day in the house with dinner on the front porch. :)

Not the best photo, but document we must!

I told you about the new couch – here it is!! We moved it in, just us two, and it’s my favorite place to be now. :)

These were taken after Kraig, Bruce, Traci, and Toni left. (So sad I didn’t think to take photos during!)

Rusty exploring his new place. :) He wasn’t so sure about it…

So. Much. Stuff.

The aftermath of eating pizzas, drinking wine and beer, and moving with friends.

Our first night! Our box spring wouldn’t fit up the stairs so we’ve been sleeping on the mattress for the last few weeks. (Paul forgot to bring the pillows/sheets hence the couch pillows.) Can’t complain!

And the next day Joe, Ethan, and Emily came to entertain us. :)

Moving In Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

They love their cousin.

This is when the house really started feeling like home. Kids have that magic with them I suppose. :)

Then two days later the rest of my family came over, and the big camera came out of the box! How do you like our box collection? :)

My family (minus 3 little boys – probably playing hide ‘n’ seek in the storm cellar). :)

Rusty’s still not sure about this place…

Haha Chaser’s face.

Another aftermath from pizza and wine in the kitchen.

My little loves. :)

:) :) :)

They gave us all a concert. :)

We never had a photo taken of us in front of our first home, so this time Toni took our photo. :)

It’s a lot darker in there than the photo shows – the perfect movie room.

And just the other night we had my Nana an Gramps over for a big, delicious crab and shrimp dinner, complete with records, wine, lots of laughing, and good family stories. Each day it’s feeling more and more like a home, especially when close friends and family walk through the door.

Move In Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here’s what life looks like now; Rusty has found his new spot, in our bedroom on a pile of pillows looking out the window, keeping watch for us.

More things need to be condensed and gone through in this house, so don’t mind the clutter. :)

:) :) :)

What the office looks like now! More downsizing will happen plus some painting. I’m thinking a white with a blue tint – every time I paint a room blue it’s just too blue, so I’m trying something else. :)

The kitchen so far! It’s bright and cheerful and I’m thinking about painting the walls white, painting the yellow table a dark brown (make it look like dark wood), and continue a theme of white with dark brown wood…like a farmhouse. :)

Moving in Weekend 2017 | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

The living room is my favorite room in the house – utterly romantic and cozy. (There’s me saying “hi” in the mirror! :))

It’s amazing how well our furniture fits in this house. It all used to feel so out of place in our 1990’s home, but in one built in 1907, it just fits. :)

Fall is alive and well in our home! Cannot wait to cook pumpkin pies…soon, friends. :) xoxox

Harvesting Basil | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello, sweet friends! Music? Yes, let’s. :) (I’ve been singing it around the house lately – so much uncertainty!)

I’m currently nestled in my office in our little house in the country. We should have been in the new house now, but what can I say? Life happens and closing dates get pushed out, but we are now good to go for our new closing date: tomorrow morning! We don’t plan on moving in completely right away. We have a trailer we’re borrowing from a friend and it’s been loaded since Sunday (I’m trying to read the last few chapters of Harry Potter #2 slowly – #3’s packed and there’s no way I can get to it anymore!!) so tomorrow Paul and I will be unloading it at the new house with Rusty in tow – we’ll let him get used to the place while we haul boxes in and begin cleaning. We’re hoping to be in the house completely by the end of the weekend – here’s hoping!

Want to know what I’m really excited about?? We bought a new couch and I am head over heels in love with it!! Typically with my furniture I go for pretty over comfy – I know that’s a weird way to be but, cest la vie. As we were about to leave the furniture store we discovered the gem in the clearance section (hurray!) and although it’s not my style nor my favorite color, I fell in love. It’s technically a 2-piece sectional and it has a Cuddler!! Have you heard of them? I definitely hadn’t and then we looked online a bit – apparently Cuddler is the actual term for a rounded end to a sectional, like a little reading nook! I LOVE it. The color is on the border of beige and gray, so I’m hoping with the right pillows, blankies, and wall color I can bring out the beige and hopefully some browns…:)

Anyways! I’m getting off topic. I wanted to share with you our vegetable garden!! I had told you last year that Paul began tilling the land for it and earlier this year we had even put in the rod-iron fence. So today I wanted to show you the beautiful, overgrown mess that’s hiding underneath the apple tree, and what I’ve been doing with some of the loot I’m getting from it. :)

Here’s Paul last fall, tilling away. We measured the garden to be 8×16 (it was the largest size that would fit in that area).

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Finished tilling!! Now to wait until spring…

Along comes spring and Paul put in a beautiful fence around the garden, complete with a swinging gate! I was/am in love!! Also, see the moon up there in the left corner and the lake in the background? I love this photo so much, it might have to be framed in the new house despite my neighbor’s house in the back.

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And then we planted our goodies: roma tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, broccoli, kale, basil, oregano, chives, and marigolds. :) :)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here was our garden about a month ago. The chives came first, then the basil, oregano, kale, and then the broccoli. The bell peppers and jalapenos have just recently been ready to harvest (and taste delicious, especially with scrambled eggs and cheese…) and the roma tomatoes keep producing new ripe tomatoes every day. :) :)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here’s a close up!! We thought we were keeping a wide enough gap for a walking path, but we clearly underestimated the growth of everything. The tomatoes and peppers are in the top right corner; the basil, oregano, chives, and half of the marigolds and kale are in the left top corner; the other half of kale and marigolds, and half of broccoli is in the bottom left corner; the jalapenos and the other half of broccoli are in the right bottom corner. ‘Tis a full house! (Also, see the random apples in the garden floor?!)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here is our garden now, showing off its beauty for potential buyers. Isn’t it lovely?? Now to decide what to do at the next house…

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

One of my favorite things about this garden, besides opening the little gate and perusing along the “path” to find new things each day, is harvesting basil. Oh. My. Goodness. The smell alone is intoxicating – I just love everything about basil. I love chopping it when it’s fresh, I love hanging it in batches to dry, I love plucking off a piece fresh from the garden (my Nana plucked one off one day – before then I had no idea I could eat like that! Now when my niece and nephews are over, I surprise them too by plucking off fresh basil – they love it!). Seriously, I have a divine love for basil. And harvesting it is much easier than I thought. All I do is this:

Basil Watercolor - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com1. Take a pair of scissors to the garden.

2. If the basil is starting to flower, cut the flowers off first.

3. Cut the basil at the appropriate spot (I know I won’t explain it well, so here’s a quick video) – I know I’ve cut at the wrong spot a few times, oh well. :)

4. Rinse it well in the sink – get rid of “bad” basil, bugs, dirt, etc.

Harvesting Basil - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com5. Combine all the cut basil in a bunch leaving enough room to grab the stems.

6. Using a rubber band, wrap the stems together into one solid bunch.

7. Take a paper clip and pull one of the ends until it’s at about 90 degrees. Tuck that end through the rubber band, and uncurl the other end of the paper clip to create a hook.

8. In a place that stays somewhat dark, hang a line of string or use a curtain rod to hang the hook end of the paper clip.

9. Let it dry for about 3-4 weeks (simple test: if they crunch and break easily, they’re done). Enjoy!!

Harvesting Basil - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comUnfortunately, I have nowhere dark to hang my basil or lavender or whatever else. So I hang my basil on the curtain rod above the sink window. Yes, sun still can hit it but the tree outside gives it enough shade that so far, it looks like its drying pretty well. The smell is amazing. I have two batches hanging right now and as soon as we move into the new house I’m coming back to our garden to cut another few batches to hang in the new kitchen – I have a walk-in pantry so I finally have a spot to hang it! I cannot wait.

Harvesting Basil | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Alrighty friends, I think it’s time to read some Harry Potter (slowly…), perhaps a bubble bath and wine is in order, and then sweet dreams. Tomorrow shall be the beginning of a very big adventure and one must be ready to face it head on. I hope you enjoyed tonight’s post! :) I can’t wait to show you the new house – follow along on Instagram, I’m sure I’ll be updating it tomorrow…:) Ciao, friends!!

Paul & Nikki Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello hello, dear friends!!

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to write and if you’ve read the title of this post, you’ll finally know why!!!

Yes, friends. WE’RE MOVING!!

But first, music please? Yes, let’s. :)

I’ve been wanting to tell you for quite some time. I’ve kept Instagram updated a bit, but because it hadn’t been announced at Paul’s work until just recently that he was taking a new job, I had to lay low on the blog. And because it’s been, quite literally, the only thing on my mind, I couldn’t trust myself to write on here without letting something slip. It’s consumed my brain for almost 3 whole months!!!

To be honest, this wasn’t even on our radar until the very beginning of June when Paul applied for this wonderful job opportunity. We clearly didn’t know if he’d get it, but we thought, why not apply and we’ll just roll with the punches when they come. So he did, and after a month and a half of interviews and studying, my darling Paul got the job (as I knew he would). :) However, there was a big road block – we would have to move to the Cities, something I truly never thought would ever happen. I became the country mouse and gladly took my role very seriously. We were both raised in the Cities, but never thought we’d go back.

I think Life likes to give little pokes now and then when it thinks we’ve gotten too comfy.

City Mouse Country Mouse - Copyright Nikki Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comBefore he even was offered the job, I began organizing my mind and the house. I knew he would get it (#1 fan right here) so I had to begin to get things packed and my thinking right. Honestly, I was dreading moving. I feel ashamed to say it, but I selfishly was putting my comfort over Paul’s opportunity. I cried quite a bit, probably made him feel a bit guilty (shame, shame, shame on me), but I’ve adjusted 100%  – maybe 99.8% – and we are literally moving in less than a week!! I’ve gone from moping around the house and reminiscing about everything I love about this place, to dreaming about new garden plans, rooms to decorate, new restaurants to try, and really, a brand new life for us.

Our little home, the place we’ve put so much love into, is officially on the market. We’re still waiting for the right person to come along and fall in love with the lake, the garden, and the cozy little kitchen. Cross your fingers for us!! :)

Cozy Kitchen Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comSo that my friends, is why I have been missing over here. I’ve been putting my efforts in elsewhere; packing up each room and finding hidden treasures (like our honeymoon photos!!), stopping to snuggle with Rusty in the last few days of being home at our first house (school is just around the corner!), putting up fresh coats of paint, down-sizing like CRAZY – our new home is much smaller than this one, and just trying to be present every minute I’m here. Between the constant leaving for showings and trying to keep this house meticulously clean, we haven’t had as much time to do the things we love in this season. Bonfires have been almost non-existent, home-cooked meals are rare, and walks at sunset don’t come around as often.

But this past weekend we were able to indulge. After an open house, we came home and were able to enjoy our little house. We had a real dinner, Paul started a bonfire, Rusty’s best friend was over, I harvested so many bell peppers, jalapenos, a few tomatoes (I hope to get as much out of the garden before we move – hopefully those tomatoes start ripening!), and more basil. We drank wine, talked of plans at the new house, kept the fire going, and were able to just be. It was one of my favorite nights here, and if that was our last bonfire, I’d say it was a success. So I thought I’d share a few photos I took – I rarely bring my camera out but I just had a feeling I should document our night. :)

How can one not think dogs have souls? Look at those eyeballs! (If you don’t know, Rusty is my boy on the right. Harley is on the left. :))

Today I made a list of flowers I want at our new house – Strawberry Vanilla Hydrangeas made the list.

Our little lake. We bought this house in the winter when all you could see was lake – the trees block it in the summer.

Our only successful attempt at a timed photo with the camera sitting on patio furniture. We had to throw a tennis ball as soon as I sat down otherwise we had puppy butts in the photo. (Can you see Rusty behind us??) :)

My little love. (He was trying to escape and play with Harley – Momma needed photos!)

I really hope I have good sunset lighting at the new house…

Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

I should probably tell you something about the new house, right? (If you follow along on Instagram (search @nikkijeantran) you’ll see more frequent updates – I tend to use that as a mini blog.) Well, our new house is in the Twin Cities, I’ll say that much. It’s on a nice quiet street, close to lots of things (something we’re not too used to out here), and it’s 107 years old!! I never thought I’d actually own an old home. I grew up in two old houses, both built before 1920, but never thought I’d actually get to own one myself. So this is all pretty exciting to me. I even have a claw-foot bathtub, a walk-in pantry, a front porch, and there’s a storm cellar – the stuff dreams are made of!! We’re excited to get to know our new neighborhood, the sights and sounds, the people, the lifestyle, and see where life will take us in the next 5 years.

The best thing about moving right now? The holidays are right around the corner!! The fall decorations aren’t even going into storage when we move in – they’re coming straight upstairs to the dining room to be unpacked. I’ll put Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, The Halloween Tree, and Blackbeard’s Ghost on the TV while I hang up autumn garland and wreaths, and bake pumpkin pies in my new stove (while figuring out how to cook in a kitchen with very limited counter space). I’ll grab some blankies, a good book or Victoria’s new magazine, and a hot cup of tea (or mochas – I’ve still been cheating on my tea) and I’ll snuggle on the front porch with Rusty. Paul and I will take walks on streets filled with red, orange, and yellow crunchy leaves (hopefully!), then come home for wine and a bonfire (we still have to figure out where to put one – the yard is half the size of ours now), listen to records on the front porch…

Yes, I think the next adventure will be something to write about. :)

I hope all is well with you, dear friends!! Enjoy the next few days of summer, whether it’s getting the kids ready for school, or spent at The Great Minnesota Get-Together (see you there!!), or getting ready to have your own big adventure. The best is yet to come. :) Cheers to you, friends!! xoxo

  • NanaAugust 24, 2017 - 9:58 pm

    We are so happy for the two of you..Love you moreReplyCancel

  • MomAugust 24, 2017 - 8:01 am

    I’m excited for you both!ReplyCancel