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    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. --->

Valentine’s Day is upon us once again, friends! Although you might be one of those people that absolutely hates the idea of a Hallmark-inspired holiday used to raise rose & chocolate prices, how can you deny a reason to be romantic and thoughtful?? :) Yes yes, of course you shouldn’t have to buy expensive gifts and create elaborate surprises – I totally agree. However, instead of thinking how annoying it is to see people being pressured into the expensive holiday, why not change the way you look at it (you’re welcome, Daddy :)) and see it as a holiday where you just get to show your loved ones you love them? And “loved ones” umbrellas over numerous types of people. For example, my nieces and nephews are my loved ones. Mom and Dad are my loved ones. Nana & Gramps, my siblings and in-laws, cousins, friends, kindred spirits, etc. are all my loved ones. And of course, Paul and Rusty rank pretty high on that list. :) So Valentine’s Day just means I get to (notice I don’t say have to) shower them with lots of love and it also means I have a day to look forward to in the middle of dreary, frigidly cold, February. ‘Tis a necessity in Minnesota.

There’s so many things you can do instead of just buying roses and chocolates! Last year my parents decided to have a Valentine’s Day party and it was a total success. The little boys made everyone Valentines, us adults created a beautiful red, pink, and white food spread and everything was delicious and extra sweet. We all wore reds and pinks and we celebrated just like any other holiday. Dad even taught me how to make homemade heart-shaped pizza dough – a little extra to add to the festivities. And thanks to Pinterest, the possibilities with recipes and decor are literally endless. My favorite is the chocolate-covered strawberries. So simple and amazingly deliiiiiiicious.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Ingredients:

  • strawberries
  • 1-2 cups of chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli semi-sweet – they’re my favorite)
  • wax paper

1. Wash strawberries.

2. In a pot on low, melt chocolate chips on the stove, stirring often (we don’t have a microwave but I’m sure you can melt them in a microwave).

3. Dip strawberries in chocolate (typically up to the leaf) and then place directly on wax paper.

4. Let them dry and then keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

5. If you want, add red, pink, or white sprinkles while the chocolate is still melted on the strawberries, or you can drizzle white chocolate to make pretty designs! This year I might add some white chocolate for fun – worst case scenario, they look ugly and still taste good. Pair with a rose tea…oh la la. :)

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend to you, friends!! I hope you enjoy it and I hope you feel extra loved (as you always should :)). xoxoxo

 

Hello friends! It’s nearly 2pm, the sun is in full force in my living room (causing partial blindness to my dear pup who is basking in the sunlight), it’s quiet in the house (Paul will be home in a few hours and then on to the grocery store! Ooh the delights!), tea is steeped, and I’m taking a mini-break from work to say hello to you. :)

Life has been changing over here and it’s made me realize that no matter how old we get, we’re never really done learning, are we? Maybe we’re done learning about geometry, biology, and English literature, but even those subjects might never be off the table. When you buy your first house you begin to learn about maintaining and cleaning that house, how to install appliances, how important it is to find studs when hanging abnormally heavy objects on the wall…:) When you start a new job it’s like the first day of high school – you’re learning the layout, the people, the job itself, the schedule, etc. But is there a time when you find yourself learning new things just for you?

The past two years of my life have been consumed with learning – learning about my business, learning new talents, new tricks, new trades, and especially learning about myself. It’s been interesting, it keeps life going. To say I have “nothing to do” would be a complete lie. There’s always something I could be working on, improving, etc.

Only a year and a half ago I bought my first paints and paintbrushes, ready to take on the world of water-coloring. It had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember (my parents let me paint a wall in my bedroom about 10 years ago, and if you heard them tell the story you would know I had no talent back then. :)) and I felt if I didn’t try it now, I may never try it. And if you’ve been following me on Instagram you would see how much I’ve fallen in love with the moments I spend painting. I’m still practicing and I’m getting better every time I sit down – that’s not to say I’m very good, just better than the teenage self who painted the beach on a very large wall. :)

Then there’s gardening. Who knew after writing a post so long ago that I would come to miss it in these dreary, monotonous, winter months? Gardening thrills me. It actually thrills me! Daydreams of large veggie plots and overgrown English gardens can easily consume a good portion of my day if I’m not careful. I still have no clue what I’m doing out there but the thought of knowing next year I’ll be better than I was this year is truly exciting. Who knows what my gardens will look like in 3 years? 10? Ahh! Bliss!!

Inspired by my dearest cousin, I’ve been learning how to bake bread. The more homemade things in my kitchen and house, the better and more in control I feel. So far, the loaves haven’t always looked the best, but they smell diiiivvviiinnnee. And taste amazing. Especially toasted.

For Christmas, Paul gave me the most amazing gift. I cried, screamed, cried some more. Hugged him a lot. Laughed. And cried. ‘Twas a violin. Ahhh!! I have always wanted to learn how to play the violin. And the cello and the harp. But the violin was always my favorite. Ooooo it’s just beautiful. He did such a great job finding it!! He gave it to me about a week and a half before Christmas (we’re AWFUL at keeping presents from each other) and I vowed to learn The First Noel to play for my family on Christmas Eve. Lo and behold, I learned it! It was a bit scratchy at times and I’m sure my elbow went all over the place, but I did it! I felt like a little kid all over again. :) And my dad has one too! Someday we’ll play a duet together. :)

To top it all off, I’ve just started learning something else. Lots of things are changing over here (winds in the east and all that good stuff :)) and it’s all very exciting. So I’ve been learning new things to prepare myself – I’ve been teaching myself how to completely create a website from scratch!! Coding, designing, etc.!! I’m super excited and I feel like my brain hasn’t been used this intensely for a loooong time (perhaps it’s not best to admit it, but there you go!) but it’s a good feeling. :) A week ago I only had the basic knowledge of web developing/design from years of tweaking my own website. And now, I can make a vague, not horribly ugly, basic website on my own. And there’s still so much to learn – I seriously can’t wait.

The other week I had a mentoring student over for a few hours (hi Shelby!!) – we discussed everything under the moon about photography and yet, there was still so much more I had to teach her after she left! But I’m so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone, meeting a total stranger (besides knowing me from here :)), and opening herself up to critiquing and an abundance of jam-packed learning! And just a few days ago, she put herself out there even more and started her Instagram photography page. How much would she know now if she hadn’t taken the steps to begin learning? How much would I know about painting if I had never dipped a brush in water? How much would my mom know about gardening if she’d never allowed herself to learn, make mistakes, and grow each year (no pun intended)? How good of a cooking resource would my Nana be if she hadn’t began all those years ago?

Take some time this year to learn something about yourself, or to learn something you’ve always wanted to. Read a book, watch a tutorial, ask someone, or just teach yourself. Think how much your life might change in just a few days. And who knows?! Maybe someone will be asking for your help someday. :) Cheers, friends!! xoxo

 

Forty degrees in Minnesota’s winter?! We’ll take it.

The blankets of snow covered the ground, hints of color still remained in the trees, Andy & Marnie were complete naturals, and an adorable pup showed us her impressive trick. :) We went to Lebanon Hills in Eagan – which was the location of one of our very first engagement sessions & bridal sessions – ’twas a time for reminiscing…:) I love Lebanon Hills – the lake, the woods, the tall grass…I swoon. :) You may recognize this beauty from her sister’s wedding – which was our very first wedding back in 2013! – I’m so thrilled she remembered me for her wedding photography!!

Andy & Marnie, we are so excited for you two and cannot wait for your August wedding!! Congrats a billion times and enjoy your sneak peek! :) xoxo

 

Love this one!! :)

Cuties. :)

Love this!

Bursts of fall color!

Ahh! Love it!

Meet Winnie. :)

Isn’t she fantastic?! Rusty wouldn’t have done so well with this trick…

Love this.

Gorgeous girlfriend!

Oh Winnie. :)

Such models. :)

Cute!!

Annnnnd she’s done. :)