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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 dear friends. Happy weekend – let’s start this right with some music. :)

And then let’s skip the part where I give you a really good reason as to why I haven’t been on the blog in awhile and go right to…

Can you believe it?? The weather may not be true to it’s season, but it’s better than snow. (Knock on wood. Always knock on wood in Minnesota.) Soon we’ll be whipping windows open, beating the dust out of rugs, tip-toeing through the gardens, singing along with the birdies (each morning when Rusty goes outside, I notice the birds are getting louder – I’m absolutely loving it), starting the first bonfire, ditching boots for sandals, extending our afternoon walks, swinging on the swing, dining under the stars, and all the good romantic things that Spring so lovingly gives us.

I have a thing for Spring. I was born in it, the colors are my favorites, Spring smells are the bee’s knees, the best sports begin in spring, thunderstorms and the pitter-patter of rain is divine, summer vacation is just around the corner, and you get to breathe that breath of new life. Do you smell that? When you walk outside and can actually enjoy it for the first time in months and you inhale deeply and you think, “Ahh! Spring at last!” It happened to me Thursday. I walked out of work after being inside all day, breathed in, looked up, and smiled. It smelled so good! Rain, grass, mud!! The first breath of life after a long, dormant season in the winter months of Minnesota. (Alaskans and other northern survivors above us, you are the ultimate troopers.)

As the wave of new life begins rippling through, I’ve been getting used to another new job. Yes, I know. I just can’t seem to sit still! However, this job is the puzzle piece I needed to complete my little life plan. As you know, a year ago (almost exactly) I decided that I would be retiring from wedding photography. Then came the inevitable question, Now What? I began looking for a variety of jobs I thought I might like (one can never know until one tries said job – that is my motto) and applied to a bunch of different places. I heard back from a little dentist office in the heart of the small town that so lovingly holds a piece of my heart. Of course I took it and I’m so glad I did. I met wonderful people and it gave me the confidence I needed to take the next job at a middle school (when one works from home for so long, one tends to lose confidence in people skills and general work abilities) which is where I’ve been until the last few weeks. And the reason I am at my current job now is so much because of my previous job in the middle school library. I am now the district-wide Media Specialist!! I’m going for my Masters in School & Library Information and I’ve taken on the ginormous role of managing 8 different schools!! So you see, each little step from a year ago has gotten me here and if you were to tell me last February (when I was crying and hiding away in my closet deciding whether or not to quit the “dream job”) that I would be here, I would have stopped crying in shock and thought you were nuts. But here I am and I love it.

Having a stable career in a setting that I love has now given me the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for such a long time. I’ve tried being a one-career type of woman but that lifestyle just doesn’t suit me. I need more. I need a balance. So while I spend my days learning the ins and outs of this new book-loving job, I spend some of my evenings and weekends lost in dreams of another creative business.

What would you say if I told you I’m working towards being a small-business owner yet again? One that specializes in designing beautiful things like watercolor home decor, Photoshop editing actions for photographers, and websites and logos and brands for like-minded business owners? If there’s one thing I miss about having a small business, it’s the excitement of creating and building that brand with beautiful, uniquely me types of things. (When people tell me they see “my blue” somewhere and think of me, I get all giddy inside!) Clearly I’ve already started the Photoshop actions part (back in 2013!) and I’ve been showing you snippets of my watercolors, but it’s going to be wonderful (for my sanity) to umbrella it all under one name – Nikki Tran Art & Design. So, that’s all I’ll say about that for now (but guess what?! The business cards have been made and shipped and the website domain has been bought! Tiny steps, friends!). :)

Along with new life, this blog needs a little spring cleaning. I’ve updated the categories to be simpler (or so I think) and I’ll be weeding through old posts, changing some design things here and there, and just letting her know I still like her and want to keep her feeling fresh. She’s been so good to me these past 5 years – she deserves to be dolled up again. :)

And so do you! It’s Spring! Go outside, get some fresh air! Breathe in some rain! If you live somewhere where your garden is always growing, pick some flowers! If not, grocery store gardens are always handy! Go for a walk! Play fetch with your puppy! Watch the stars come out! Say good-night to Mr. Moon! Feed the birds! And take that long awaited book you have on your shelf and go outside to finally enjoy it under the sunshine. Xoxo


  • NanaMarch 25, 2017 - 11:16 pm

    I just love reading your blog.Sweetie pie there is nothing you can’t accomplish,you are one talented young beautiful lady.I’m waiting for you to write a book.Love you more???ReplyCancel

Oh my, where do I even begin??

First, hi friends. :) It’s been a few weeks since my last post so I hope all is well with you in the New Year so far. :) Things haven’t been too shabby over here and soon, I hope to tell you about a little something I’ve been working on for the past month or so. It’s all very exciting and until a few more things are set in place, I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you yet. Soon. :)

Anyways! This past weekend Paul and I got to attend, as guests and photographers, a very special wedding between two of our good friends, Tom & Dana. (You might remember them from this absolutely dreamy proposal from last winter.) I’ve known Dana for a very long time, since I was in 5th grade and she was in 8th grade. We started our bond with our love for Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys of course – fun fact: their wedding date was his birthday. ‘Twas fate.) and we’ve been friends ever since. This past year we’ve spent a lot of wonderful days with them and I just love these two. They’re hilarious (every time we hang out we laugh constantly), incredibly generous, full of adventure, and just overall wonderful people that we’re lucky to call friends. (We plan to retire and drive an RV around the US someday together.)

Their wedding day was perfect, seriously. We were worried there wouldn’t be any snow from the springish days we’ve had here, but just a few days before we lucked out and snow came hurdling our way leaving them with a blanket of snow. Their venue looked gorgeous – chandeliers twinkling, pops of color in the centerpieces, gold accents, and an array of photographs of friends and family sprinkled throughout the hall. Their day was more than a celebration for them; it was for everyone that came together on that day, who had supported them for the past few years, and who loved them each individually and as a couple. The speeches that night were beautiful, I felt so lucky to be a part of it all.

We only have one more wedding left until retirement and I’m so glad I get to almost end it with Tom and Dana. :) Love you both and congratulations a million times! I hope you enjoy reliving your beautiful day – Paul and I are truly happy for you and can’t wait to see you again. :) xoxox

PS. You might see us in here a few times – I couldn’t help it! :)

Oh goodness, her dress was a dream.

:) :)


Tom’s twin brother, Justin. :)

Snazzy socks.

First look with her bridesmaids. :) (Right before this I knocked over a very full bottle of champagne. Lordy.)

Love these two!

First look with each other was outside in Mears Park. :)

:) :)

So sweet!!

I love when the bride starts to show off her dress for her groom. :)

Love all of these!!

:) :)

I have too many favorites, as usual. :)

Such models. :)

:) :) :)

Beautiful bridal party – love the girls’ furs!

Those dresses were so beautiful – loved how different they all were!

Such studs. :)

Hurray!! :) (This will be framed in our RV someday.)

During her mother-of-the-bride speech, Gerri called Dana the funniest person she knew, and her very best friend. Love that. :)

Just married!! :)

Do you see that photo all the way on the right?? We made it on the table of family and friends! Holy moley, I was so touched! :)

Since I’ve known Dana since grade school, lots of grade school families were at this wedding and it felt a little like home again. :) The Ponsolles & Heintz, Dana and her brother Dean, another bride, Tara, and carpool buddy, Amy – all us St. Jerome’s kids back together again. :)

The lovely women on the left sat at our table – what a treat for us! :)

Such a pretty dessert table!

The new Mr. & Mrs.!!

The speeches were seriously wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much at a wedding.

Justin talked about the day Tom left for boot camp for the Navy, and it reminded me of my brother and the day he got picked up for boot camp all those years ago. Oh goodness, the tears kept coming!

We were even mentioned in a speech – more tears, friends!! Cheers, Tom. :)

St. Bernard’s crew!

Roseville crew!

Rick and Tara on the right! :)

Us St. Jerome’s kids!! :)

We couldn’t help it…

Whoo hoo!! Sing it!

Tom and his momma. :)

And then we went into the night and friends and family showered them in sparklers. :)

Perfectly dreamy.

Love you guys!! I hope you enjoyed your sneaky peek!! :) xoxoxo

Happy Sunday, friends!

Right now I’m sitting at our kitchen table looking out into the cold while Frank sings to me. Paul’s upstairs watching football and Rusty’s snuggling with his new plaid stuffed animal (a gift from his best friend, Harley, who lives across the street). My mind still thinks it’s morning so I’m listening to it and not getting out of my jammies and bathrobe. The mind wants what the mind wants and I shan’t complain. “Lunch” was breakfast and I’m cheating on my teapots with my second cup of delicious chocolate and hazelnut coffee. It’s divine, especially when the kitchen and dining room floors are so cold from the snow outside, and the skies are gray and dreary while ice forms on the windows. So I stay cocooned inside.

Now that the excitement of Christmas and New Years is over, it’s time to get back to hunkering down and creating coziness wherever I go. I might be a little late in learning about this absolutely wonderful way of living, but hygge is taking over our house and it’s slowly seeping into my mind on a daily basis. Have you heard about it, friends? I’m so glad it’s an actual thing because now I have a name for what I’ve been trying to do with our home and life for the past 5 years. (I must give my Scandinavian roots proper credit.) I’m not crazy for truly believing that soft light, candles, books, and tea can make a heart happy – there’s now proof!

So that’s what we’ve been doing here all winter long. Lamp light instead of ceiling lights, fireplace on (fake, but still radiates happy thoughts), candles lit, record player on, throws and blankets on every chair and couch, comfy sweaters to wear (even for Rusty – his new Mickey Mouse sweater just came in – cuteness overload), warm delicious drinks like mulled wine, mochas, or tea, and sitting down together to chat over meals. Our talks start from everyday things (“Rusty hasn’t gotten out of his house all day”) and usually end up with excitement over our life dreams and goals (“So we’re taking a ship over to England and Ireland? Within the next few years?”). One must have dreams, how else can one live?? And if you can dream with your partner or spouse, well then I just think nothing can get in your way.

Getting into the true spirit of the hygge life, we’ve even started making our own candles and it’s been fantastic. It was Paul’s idea really, because I tend to go through candles pretty quickly, especially when I found out how much I loved painting by candlelight. :) 

Yesterday when I got back from spending the day in the Cities with my family, I was greeted by a brand new batch of cinnamon vanilla candles that Paul had made. He just keeps making me fall for him.The little flickering friends now keep us company wherever we go in the house which I think gives us at least an A- in living a hygge life. Every candle and every page turned in a worn and loved book are virtual hugs.

Because in this world, sometimes you need hugs on a daily basis. I login to Facebook and negativity saturates the “trending” stories. I read people’s comments and I just shake my head at all the anger, name-calling, and unkindness. I hear people at work, at the grocery store, or just passing on the street with unnecessary negativity. And sometimes friends and family (and even myself) aren’t excluded from unkindess or anger. And when it all gets to be too much, one has to protect themselves. Remember what it’s like to think like a child and treat yourself as one. Take care of your body, your heart, and your mind. Be gentle with your thoughts, words, and actions towards others and yourself. Fill your home and heart with things that make your heart flutter. Listen to old songs and watch good movies where sex and crudeness aren’t the main theme. Read books that clear your eyes and mind. Create something you love every time you see it. Speak with gentleness and hope. And most importantly, surround yourself with people who make you feel good – not those that cloud your mind. Give yourself some virtual hugs this winter season and every season. :)

The sky is getting darker and the candles are burning brighter. I’m still in my jammies and bathrobe and my coffee mug is happily drained. It’s back to work tomorrow, shuffling around bookcases and unpacking brand new, beautiful books. We’re decorating for the winter season and the theme is cozy coffee mugs, snowflakes, and Warming Up To a Good Book. I pull out our TV every morning before the sun is even up, and play calming videos throughout the day while Mozart and Hans Zimmer serenade us. The hygge life is alive and well in our home and even my library. Try it, friends. You’ll love it, I just know it. :) xoxo

  • ToniJanuary 9, 2017 - 7:53 pm

    I love you guys. Beautiful paintings on this blog post, Nik! Great message in this post. You’re right, surround yourself with people who make you feel good. I’ll be seeing more of you and Paul soon! ? I’ve got Paul’s candle lit now watching some good old Andy Griffith. Life is grand! Love you!ReplyCancel

    • NikkiJanuary 10, 2017 - 8:22 am

      Toni Maria!! Welcome to the blog! :) We love you too. :) Thanks so much Toner – you the bee’s knees. ;) Hurray for hygge life!!ReplyCancel