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  • Welcome!

    Welcome to the blog! My name is Nikki Tran. My husband is the bee's knees, our yorkipoo is my best friend, and my family is my world. I am so pleased you stopped by! Snuggle in your cozy chair, grab a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy reading about little snippets of my life as a wedding photographer and a creative old soul who loves tea, gardens, books, kindred spirits, & exploring lovely things. Check out my latest posts on the right. --->

Another beautiful wedding in the books for us and just wait until you see it friends. :) The details, the pastel hues, the location – dreeeeaammmy. And of course, we’ve lucked out with absolutely wonderful couples this year and Lindsay & Davy are no exception. To give you a little bit of a background about them, they used to live in Hawaii. I know!! Hawaii…how amazing would life be there?! When I think of Hawaii, I think of laid-back, life-loving people. And seriously, these two are exactly that. Even at our last meeting (when things are right in the midst of hectic-last-minute-wedding-planning-world) they didn’t seem to have a care in the world. They were up for anything; everything seemed like a breeze with them. And on their wedding day when I saw Lindsay in her dress for the first time, she literally looked like she belonged in Hawaii – her dress, jewelry, all the details, the ceremony, the music. It all reflected their life together – a lifelong vacation with the two of them. :)

Davy & Lindsay, we are so happy for you two and so glad Kailee recommend us to you – it’s been so much fun getting to know you both and thankfully, we get to see you again in just a couple of months!! :) Enjoy snippets of your beautiful day. Get some glasses, pop a bottle of wine, and just enjoy. :) xoxoxo

(Vendors listed at the bottom.)

Those shoes!! 

Dreamy colors. 

Lindsay couldn’t even look at her mom without crying. :)

Gorgeous!

The guys didn’t have ties and I just loved that look on them!

Davy’s mom made all the flowers!! So impressed.

Love the boutonnieres.

So many pretty colors. 

:) :) :)

So sweet!!

They had an artist draw their wedding ceremony! What a fun idea!

Gorgeous location.

Love this one from Paulie.

Just married!! :)

Love this one. :)

Models!

Who doesn’t want to swing on their wedding day?!

Love all of these!

My goodness.

Love this one. Too many to choose!

Isn’t it pretty?!

The golds were just gorgeous. I can never shoot enough weddings with gold.

Their family was so nice – can’t wait to see them all again in November!

Yes, that would be our other bride & groom. :)

:) :)

VENDORS:

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Little Log Pioneer Village

Dessert: Café Latté

DJ/Entertainment: Brian Paulson

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

Hair/Makeup: Michelle Dunlap

Decor Rental: Affordable Elegance Rental

Wedding Gown: a&bé Bridal Shop

Bridesmaids Dresses: Bridal Accents Couture

Menswear: Heimie’s Haberdashery

Bridal Shoes: Badgley Mischka

Bridal Jewelry: Always & Forever Bridal Boutique

Rings: Filigree Jewelers

Good morning, friends!! I have a special blog post for you today – I’m honing on some homemaking content and I invited my lovely cousin, Ashley, to write today’s post! A couple of years ago she had told me that she started making her own bread; once a week she makes the family’s sandwich bread loaf. I was so impressed! Then I found out she can make all sorts of bread – ciabatta, focaccia…I’m just so proud. :) So anyways, about a week and a half ago I went to her house and watched her make homemade bread. I snapped photos, enjoyed the lovely aroma that is homemade bread, and now I’m so excited to share it with you!! I’m planning on adding more recipes and other homemaking loveliness to the blog so I hope you enjoy this one! :) And if you’re interested in becoming a writer, an editor, or you’re just someone who enjoys some wonderful inspiration for daily life mixed in with some wittiness, head on over to her blog, Ashley Brooks Editorial – you will love her. :) And now, enjoy her taking over the blog today!! Happy Monday, friends! xoxo (PS. Full recipe is at the bottom of the post.)
I’m so excited to be here on my lovely cousin’s blog today! I spend most of my time blogging about writing, editing, and creativity, but I also love talking about homemaking. I was thrilled when Nikki asked me to share my homemade bread recipe with you!

I started baking all of my family’s bread after my husband and I took a trip to Italy in 2013. The food was (obviously) amazing! Nothing here at home could compare to the food we had in Europe, but the food that was really lacking was the bread. After a week of complaining about how bad our bread tasted, I decided to start making my own—and I liked it so much that bread-making turned into a hobby! Before long, I was baking homemade focaccia, ciabatta, pita rounds, french bread, and pizza crusts. The bread that started it all was simple, whole-wheat sandwich bread. I bake a loaf every week, and I’m delighted to share the recipe with you! I know it sounds intimidating to bake your own bread, but the beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. You can enjoy your own fresh-baked bread with just six ingredients—and most of them are probably already in your pantry.

The base of any bread is flour, yeast, and water. I like to start with fresh wheat berries that I grind myself with our flour mill, but you don’t have to go to those lengths. Just pick up a bag of wheat flour from your local grocery store, or try mixing half wheat and half white flour if you like your bread as fluffy as Wonderbread.

The key to good bread is making your yeast happy. Yeast loves a warm environment, which is why we heat up the water . . . but don’t get it too hot, or the yeast will die and your bread won’t rise! I microwave my water for 45 seconds to get the perfect lukewarm temperature, but every microwave is different. Use a meat or candy thermometer to check the temperature on your water. You want it between 105 and 115 F.

Now we’re ready to start mixing! Pour your warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer, then sprinkle in the yeast. (You can make the bread without a stand mixer, but get ready for an arm workout!) Add a cup or two of flour, give it all a good stir, and let it proof for 3 to 5 minutes. (It should look a little bit spongy at this point.)

Next, add your olive oil, honey, and salt. (Tip: Add the oil first, then use the same measuring cup for your honey. The leftover oil makes the honey slide right out!)

I also like to add a sprinkle of vital wheat gluten since it makes whole wheat bread a bit fluffier. (Without the gluten, my bread comes out dense as a brick!) Some recipes call for dough enhancer or citric acid to achieve the same results. If you’re using a mixture of white and wheat flour, you probably don’t need these extra ingredients.

Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, stir all the ingredients together and begin gradually adding flour, half a cup at a time. It’s impossible to tell exactly how much flour you’ll need; it depends on your environment and altitude. I use far more flour during humid summers than I do in dry winters! You want your dough to pull away from the bowl but still be slightly tacky (not sticky!) to the touch.

Once the dough starts looking more structured, switch to the dough hook attachment. If you’re not using a mixer, sprinkle some flour across a large cutting board or clean countertop. (The extra flour keeps the dough from sticking to the cutting board.) It’s kneading time!

Kneading is the process that develops the gluten in the dough. (There’s gluten in white flour, so this step happens even if you didn’t add the vital wheat gluten.) It’s basically a messy science experiment that results in delicious bread! Check out this tutorial to learn how to knead your bread and how to know when it’s ready to rise.

Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. (Don’t forget the sides!) Place your kneaded dough in the pan and gently stretch until it fills the space and looks like your standard loaf of bread. Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and let it rise for about 50 minutes.

Remember, yeast likes to be warm! If your dough is too cold, it won’t rise. My favorite spot for rising bread in winter is the warm fireplace mantel. If your kitchen is warm in the summertime, you can let your bread rise right on the counter. If you have the A/C running like I did, preheat your oven to 170 F. Once it’s heated, turn the oven off and place the dough in the warm oven to rise.

Once your bread is risen, you’re ready to bake! (Don’t worry if your bread isn’t risen enough in 50 minutes. Just find a warmer spot and give it more time.) Preheat your oven to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. You’ll be breathing the delicious scent of homemade bread in no time. :)

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

4 1/2 (or more) cups of flour (whole wheat or a mixture of white and wheat)
1 3/4 cups of warm water (105 – 115 F)
3 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/4 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)

Directions

Add warm water to bowl of stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast over water. Add 1 to 2 cups of flour. Stir. Let proof until spongy.

Add olive oil, honey, salt, and vital wheat gluten. Mix all ingredients together. Gradually add flour until dough pulls away from bowl and is tacky but not sticky. Switch to dough hook, or prepare a floured surface to knead by hand.

Knead until dough is no longer sticky (but don’t over-knead. Dough should not be stiff or dry). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Place dough in pan and shape to fit. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warm place for about 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake risen bread for 30 minutes. Let bread cool for 10 minutes after removing from oven, then remove bread from pan and place on cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!

I get to see a lot of wedding ceremonies and I must say, this was one of my favorites. It was centered around not just finding the right person, but about being the right person. When people get married there’s always so much excitement. But then real life will step in and sometimes, marriage is hard. It’s something that needs to be worked on every. single. day. And some days you might not be the right person – you’ve had a bad day, life is hard, stress is getting to you, and when that happens the other person needs to be there to help better that person – be their partner’s best friend, their supporter, their shoulder to lean on, etc. I love how Jonathan, their pastor, described marriage and it gave me goosebumps watching Brad & Leah recite their vows, and watching the way Brad looked at Leah. It was such an honor being at this beautiful wedding – the colors, the people, the venue, the sunset; everything was perfect. And we couldn’t be happier for these two wonderful people. :)

Brad & Leah, thank you so much for inviting Paul and I to be a part of your beautiful day! We are so happy for you and seriously, I can’t wait to show you your photos. So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or tea, of course :)) an enjoy your sneaky peek!! :) xoxoxo

(Vendors listed at the bottom.)

 

I’m so impressed – the girls made these bouquets!! I know! Amazing!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Her little nephew – he stole the show and a little piece of my heart. :)

They didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony so they read their letters on either side of the brick wall. :)

:) :)

There were lots of laughing. :)

Just married!!

Love this one! They’re so happy!

Bold colors are my favorite.

Seriously, hand-made!!

Oh Brad, you looked so handsome. :)

Can you tell they’re sisters? :)

Gorgeous!!

My goodness.

The light was so dreamy here that we literally didn’t have to move from that path. And these two made everything so easy – there’s a ton of them. I couldn’t choose!

Ahh! Love this!

And this one!!

I love them all. What can I say?

I felt so proud with all the pumpkin photos – do you remember that session!? Dreamy.

I went to high school with Brad so it was nice to see some familiar faces. :)

They played the “Shoe-ly Wed Game”…

Swooooon.

Brad & Leah now share their wedding anniversary with her sister so they got to dance to their song, too. :)

:) :)

Cute!!

This was so much fun! The DJ had a bunch of different types of dances in a hat and each bridal party pair had to pick a style and then dance to it for 15 seconds – such a fun way to get people on the dance floor! (They’re doing The Twist if you couldn’t tell. :) )

This had to have been my favorite – well done. :)

And then they had a dance-off. :)

And then we took a ride on the golf course to find that dreamy light. :)

:) Love these two.

Omigoodness. It’s just too perfect.

Again, I just couldn’t choose a favorite. So enjoy a bunch. :)

Ah!! Love this one!

This is typically a hard pose to do (as most of my past brides know :)) but she nailed it. :)

Absolute favorite. 

:) :) :)

Happy Wednesday, friends!! I hope you enjoyed this wedding – another one will be coming on the blog next week!! :) xoxoxo

VENDORS:

Ceremony: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

Reception: Owatonna Country Club

Florist: The bridesmaids. :)

Dessert: The Perfect Day Cakes

DJ/Entertainment: Complete

Hair/Makeup: Sister’s Salon & Spa

Officiant: Pastor Jonathan Davis

Wedding Gown: Simply I Do

Bridesmaids Dresses: Target

Menswear: J. Longs

Rings: Jared’s and Zales