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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 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!) --->

It all happened a little over a month ago when my family was at my sister’s house celebrating Easter Sunday. My brother, who travels often for his work and sometimes overseas, was telling us that he would be traveling to England again in just a few weeks. Would anyone like to go with him?

ME!! PICK ME!! I WOULD LOVE TO GO!!

Three hours later my flight was booked on the same plane as Richie’s, and he and I began planning our once-in-a-lifetime-trip together through many strands of emails, texts, and phone calls. The day my bright yellow rain boots came in the mail, I knew this was the real deal; I was going to England!!! Ahhh!!!

It’s been just one day and two weeks since my brother picked me up at my mom and dad’s house to begin our 6-day journey and, as cliché as it sounds, it still feels like yesterday. We’ve only ever traveled together one other time, driving in his van with my sister-in-law, nephews, and Paul from their home in upstate New York to NYC three years ago, so we knew we were going to find out a lot about each other in the next few days. :) Needless to say we had a wonderful time together (and for our family – the only time we argued was over which movie to watch at night. :)).

We discovered that Italian food is the only food we like in England (at least at the places we went) – pasta is pasta and pizza is pizza. We survived tiredness with large amounts of Americanos and Mochas from the neighboring café (so cute – you’ll see it soon). We made sure we each got to see what we wanted to in our limited amount of time in London, racing towards the Underground and chasing the sunlight.

Walking through the crowds of London, we always made sure to stick together. When we visited a beautiful castle just minutes before it closed and the ticket-keeper cautioned us about going in without enough time, Richie weighed once-in-a-lifetime over caution/common sense so I could finally see an English castle. During all the pausing for photo opportunities, not once did he oppose or complain. When I lost my lens cap in the gardens behind a 800-year-old church, he retraced my steps with me until we finally found it. When he was sick, jet-lagged, and thoroughly exhausted, I did my best to keep his spirits up and his sickness at bay with bottles and bottles of water. When we were both jet-lagged and incredibly exhausted, we tag-teamed keeping each other’s spirits up. When we finally found a footpath that wove through rolling hills and fields of lambs, he put on his rain boots to accompany me on a serendipitous walk. And when he needed the windows open in order to sleep, I pulled my sweatpants and sweatshirt out of my suitcase and slept under the blankets.

I came home to discover I took 600+ photos. Holey moley. So, although this blog post may seem long and full of entirely too many photographs, just know I did my best to limit them for you. :) Someday I’ll be back with dearest Paul, showing him what I know and discovering new things about beautiful England (keeping in mind that Italian food is always good no matter where one goes). I appreciate Richard so much for letting me tag along, for putting up with me, and for allowing me to take as many photos as I did. :) And also for buying rain boots. :) (Love you, Richard.)

Okay friends, enjoy visiting England through my rose-colored lens!! I’ll try to explain things as much as I can along the way, but really, I’m as much of a tourist as you are. :) xoxoxo (Music? Yes!! Only the best songs for this post! Or, if you’d prefer instrumental here’s another good list.)

 The little café we frequented while we stayed next door at The Cromwell Lodge Hotel.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comIsn’t it darling?? We tried for an early check-in since we arrived at around 11am, but since we couldn’t we spent some time in here…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com…and then finished our coffees in the hotel’s beautiful dining room.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe explored the hotel’s grounds while we waited…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAll along the brick in the back of the hotel were climbing roses! I wish I could have seen them in bloom!!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comBut the daffodils and tulips were abundant so it was okay.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe tree stump almost as wide as our car.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWhen we were finally able to get to our room, we discovered that “just up the stairs” means up 5 flights, through hidden doors, past a beautiful view of the gardens, and down the stairs through a hobbit hole. “Mind your head” the sign says. :)Our room!! Richie on the left, me on the right. The beams were my favorite, even with all the ducking and knocking.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe view right outside our room. I had to pinch myself.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comRichie has been here before and wanted me to see this church – unfortunately it was locked when we tried and I never got the chance to go in. Next time! We (mostly me) enjoyed hearing the church bells all day, however.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe park behind our hotel…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com…so much blooming…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comA stroll down through the shops…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe could’ve bought so many books from this old and used bookstore. We were having too much fun.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOn our first full day, not being used to this whole jet-lagged experience, I accidentally slept until 3pm…oops. So we quickly got ready and with a bit of luck we were able to make it to the nearby castle 2 minutes before they stopped letting people in on the only day it was open while we were there. Fate was on our side! (I don’t know how Richie was able to drive this whole time, especially on the country roads. I tried to keep my mouth shut.)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comPulling up!! There’s a moat. This will be perfect.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comA real castle!! I’m in awe.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com(There’s a mixture of cell phone and camera photos, just so you know. :)) Isn’t this incredible?! The lawn is even perfect.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comFueling up with his Americano. :)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comIf we weren’t on a time crunch, I would have liked to have had a picnic. Right here.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOr here at this table. Maybe I’ll bring Paul back and we’ll have a pot of tea (or coffee) right here. Listen to the pigeons and robins.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI did my best to take photos inside, but what with the people waiting for us to leave and the lighting, I didn’t get as much as I’d have liked to. Oh well – another time!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI was always drawn to the views.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThis was in the queen’s room (when she stayed) and so she wouldn’t have to go all the way downstairs to church, this was put in her room with a kneeler underneath so she could attend mass. Fascinating! We would to have loved to learn more about this place…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI think I could read a book here.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comLumière!!

English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWhile we were in one of the last rooms, the darling hostess suggested we get better views FROM THE ROOF!! My heart may have stopped.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOh my goodness, friends. Can you hear the little lambs? The pigeons? The robins? The light wind? I swear, it’s there.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comSee? I even have a video of it for you. :) (Sorry about my fast camera-moving and high-pitched excited voice. :))

English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com

English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe garden view from up top. Does it remind you of Alice in Wonderland too?English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comMy favorite photo of myself taken – I’m just so happy here I could have burst.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWalking under an archway…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOf course there’s another picnic table. Maybe this is where we shall have our pot of tea…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comHe brought my nephew’s traveling teddy bear to take photos with :) (Like Flat Stanley, remember?)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe tree!! How adorable!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com

English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe stopped in the tearoom/gift shop before leaving and the woman inside was so kind, didn’t rush us or anything, encouraged us to take our time despite her purse being packed and her jacket on, ready to go home. We each bought some souvenirs, thanked the lovely lady, and discovered the church sitting right behind the entrance to the castle. Dare we go in? :)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com

English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe gift shop lady walked past us on her way to her car and told us it wouldn’t hurt anyone if we peeked inside…so we did.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEverything is a postcard.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comFields of lambs as we drove away…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe baby lamb dancing in the back!!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe took a bit of a detour on our way back to the hotel, finding pretty views and stopping for photos…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comLike this other field of lambs…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThey’re literally just there on the side of the road. See Richie getting out of the car?English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comIsn’t he precious?English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI’ll also be sitting here with Paul someday. Just whiling away the time.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThen we found a spot to park and walk to Who Knows Where? Found this adorable dog on the way. :)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWith both our rain boots on, we headed to the unknown destination on the winding dirt path. Saw a cute bird house. Of course there’s a random hand-painted bird house on the path.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comDo you see it??English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOh goodness. We were overwhelmed. So beautiful.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comRolling hills, little cottage roofs…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comIs your heart melting yet?English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAnd back to our little shops across from our hotel…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOut to dinner at our favorite spot, Pizza Calzone.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOur lovely, lovely hotel.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAnd just like that we left the countryside and ended up in the heart of London.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWisteria draping over every fence and doorway, smelling like lavender and lilacs.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comMy brother spoiled me on this trip – our hotel was right across the street from Kensington Gardens. Be still, little heart.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comPrincess Diana’s Memorial Playground. I’ve always thought that God mixed my mom and my Auntie NeeNee to make Princess Diana’s beautiful face and hair. :)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe beautiful gardens at Kensington Palace.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI could picture the archway completely covered in its greenery, I bet it’s just gorgeous.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWould you believe we ran into a group of Minnesotans that all randomly met right here in the gardens? They were so kind and were glad to take one of the few photos of the two of us. :)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWhen I asked Richie what his favorite part of London was, we both agreed it was walking through Kensington Gardens. Next time I’m here I’m bringing a picnic basket and a wireless record player. And Paul.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comFascinating.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe swans and geese were so incredibly friendly. I had the most fun photographing these lovelies.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comCan you believe I got this photo?! I was so thrilled.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comHave you seen Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet?? If you watch him at the bench writing, you’ll see this beautiful building in the background – he was sitting at that bench on the left! Would you believe I didn’t even realize it until I began getting these photos ready for this blog post?! (If you haven’t seen the movie, please do. It’s a wonderful movie about J.M Barrie creating the story of Peter Pan, set in London and the English Countryside. You’ll thank me later. :))English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe birds just sit on people’s heads!! They were so friendly!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comLittle Peter Pan. My heart skipped a beat.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe took these photos for my dearest sister who plays the role of Mother to two little boys and loves this story so much. Cheers, Toni!!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe colors of England!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe entrance to Buckingham Palace!! We’re so close! Hang tight!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comCountless times I said I wished I had brought a different lens – too many times I couldn’t get a whole building with my camera, so I was entirely too thankful I had my phone’s camera.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comIt was so surreal, friends. The Queen is there! How can this be my actual life? Pinching myself.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEvery little detail was to be seen…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAnd soon it was time to be moving on. The sun is moving and there’s more things to see, more people to cross the streets with, and more gift shops to peruse!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAs we walked I became distracted by random beauties…English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comAnd then we walked out of the tiny alleyways and came to this. I have no words, friends.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe birds actually came up to me, practically asking me to feed them. If only I had tuppence!! (How great would it be if “Feed the Birds” came up on the playlist I linked you to right this second? Is it playing? Go get it! It’ll be worth it!)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe cobblestone! The towering columns!! Pinch me!!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI. Was. In. Heaven.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThis is real, can you believe it? It’s magnificent.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe sun continued to sink behind the Cathedral’s dome, so we said good-bye and made our way to our next destination, Tower Hill.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comI’m ashamed to admit that while I was taking these photos I didn’t even realize what it all said – it was old looking and I got excited, what can I say? I wish I would have taken more, it looks so interesting!!English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comRichie let me pick a lot of the spots because he wanted to see everything but this was the one spot he wanted to visit, the Tower of London. (Ever seen Robin Hood with Russell Crowe? I’ll admit, I didn’t finish it when Richie made me watch it that week, but he loves this movie.)English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEverything is a postcard.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWhile walking on London Bridge, we saw Tower Bridge. (We were a bit confused as to which one was which, but we finally figured it out. :))English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comWe were on our last loop of our tour, ending at Palace of Westminister, London Eye, Big Ben, and Parliament Square.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comThe Winston Churchill photo is for Paulie – he’s a fan. :) We were a little bummed that Big Ben and the Palace were being worked on, but we saw them. It was still thrilling.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comEnglish Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comOn Cloud 9, friends.English Countryside and London | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.com

And as the sun went down we rode the Underground back to our hotel, across the street from the dripping wisteria and Kensington Gardens. We ordered pizza (I’m serious about the Italian food), turned on Mary Poppins, and got lost in the music of chimney sweepers and prudent bankers. (The deal was that we had to watch English-themed movies during the trip.) ‘Twas bliss.

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed traveling to England with me, listening to the lambs, smelling the wisteria, and feeling the rush of excitement from people seeing Buckingham Palace for the first time. :)

Now I’m snuggling with Rusty and sitting next to Paul as I finish typing this. We just came in after spending the day creating gardens in the front and back of the house; life is good. As much as I love to have adventures in different lands, there is something so wonderful about coming back home to my own bed, pillow, and of course, my two favorite boys.

Cheers, friends and I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, hopefully spent playing in the dirt and the rain. xoxoxo

PS. Thank you again, dear brother. xoxo

  • MelanieMay 13, 2018 - 8:55 pm

    Nikki,
    This was a fabulous blog post! I could totally feel your excitement and I ***wish we could go together some day! Thanks for sharing this adventure with all your wonderful pictures. I’m having a lovely day and will watch the new Little Women soon! Also, I don’t think I’ve watched Finding Neverland so I’m putting that on my list!ReplyCancel

  • Patti EckertMay 13, 2018 - 8:47 am

Hello, friends!

Shall we indulge with some music on this wonderfully sunny Spring afternoon? Yes, let’s.

Rusty and I are basking in the sunshine on the front porch, something we’ve been waiting desperately for for months. The neighbors pull into their driveways in their mini vans, children pile out, giggling and running for the front door, and then there’s nothing to hear but the tinkling of our wind chime and the chorus of birds in the trees high above us. I can tell this is going to be my favorite place in the house.

Not impressed with a school bus that went racing down our street…maybe I need one of those signs that says “Drive like your dog lives here!” – isn’t that the phrase? :)

I turned 29 this month, and for someone who thought she’d have her entire life figured out at the ripe old age of 22, I am still on this roller-coaster of learning – almost in view of the end, and then the tracks take a sharp turn and I’m sent back into the abyss.

I don’t like to write about the negative things that happen in real life, especially on here. I prefer this to be a bit of a getaway, a collection of Dear Diary moments and snippets of bliss. But sometimes real life will peek its ugly head and I feel the need to share some truths in life on this side of the screen. You’ve heard me talk about trying to find my place in this world with my photography, art, design, writing, and anything else. You’ve read my break-through moments on here, and you’ve seen what life is like when all is gravy and my biggest worry is whether or not to take Rusty for a walk.

But hidden between those moments are very real – sometimes long – bouts of depression. A spiral drop into a big rabbit role, sometimes seeming impossible to escape, until the blessed sun shines and all looks right again in the world. Tea gets poured, things are accomplished, and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth can finally be together. I’m learning that this is normal, especially for those of us who work alone or are trying to figure out our creative mess in this world where, quite frankly, creativity and art are sometimes placed beneath the careers deemed as great success with big paychecks.

It’s been hard for me to transition from steady paychecks and a false sense of “purpose” to not knowing what the hell I’m doing again (excuse the French) and feeling quite useless simply because if Paul and I had separate bank accounts, mine would have nothing in it but moth balls. What is my worth?

I don’t like to be negative. I actually hate it. And I despise the drama of this all. I like frolicking around with colorful thoughts in my head, believing in fairy tales and singing catchy songs for all to hear. I like corny. I like crying simply because something is so beautiful. And unlike most blog posts, I don’t have an ending to this story. This stuff happens and like other things in my life, I’ve been learning about it and trying my hardest to conquer it.

I’m learning that when people ask me, “So what do you do now?” (I know people mean well and are just curious when they ask that question, but holey moley it makes me cringe), I shouldn’t stutter and stammer trying to think of how to explain the things I do. I’m an artist. (Paul recently told someone I was a graphic designer and I like that one, too.) I’m pushing the barriers of self-confidence and pushing the barriers of what my worth really means to me, not others. It’s a daily struggle , but I reach for my inner 5-year-old self and continue to be hopeful.

Did I crush your mood? I hope not. I hope that after sharing my life with you for over 6 years, you see a real person behind the words, and I hope, if you’re someone like me, you don’t feel alone. And perhaps you see that no matter what is shared online through people’s highlight reels, there’s always a bit of ugly real life hiding in the background. But, there’s always someone hopeful for picnics and sunshine, good friends, hand-holding, baby snuggles, fairy tales, and a happy ending to their story.

………………………………………

Let’s switch it up, friends! I meant this post to really only be about what I’m about to share with you, but ya know, feelings and such got in the way. :)

Okay, so in between the sad days and the crying on Paul’s shoulder, I’ve been in a state of bliss working in my little cozy office on THESE!!

Watercolor Calendar | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Can you guess what I’m making in my mad scientist lab?!

(I’m hoping you all guessed ‘calendar’ otherwise I would have to completely rethink my designs.)

YES!! I’m beyond excited about this project and I find myself wanting to bring my proofs along wherever I go so I can show them to everyone. I LOVE them! I don’t think I’ve ever LOVED something I’ve done – not like this. Even if they don’t sell I won’t care because I LOVE them and that means more for me. (Just kidding, kind of. I do hope they sell. Quite a bit.)

They’re ALL hand-written, hand-painted, handmade everything! Even the grids! I have so much fun brainstorming them in my head, finding quotes to match what I’m going for, and then watching the designs come to life. Every day when Paul comes home I drag him upstairs and bounce around my office showing him all the new stuff I’ve made. He’s always pleased. :) I shove them in my family’s faces when we get together, anxious to see their reactions (the nephews are always my biggest fans :)).

I’ve been researching different printing companies (who knew this would be the hard part? Can’t a girl just catch a break with prices??) and soon I’ll be honing in on one. I only have September, November, December, and only half of February and March to finish – it seems like a lot but I’ve only just started this in the beginning of last month. I’m hopeful I’ll be done by the beginning of June. :) If so, by the time the printing company has finished it, I should have the calendars in our home by August? I know it’s late, but I’m going to try my hardest. :)

I’ll be selling them through my website, my Etsy shop, announcing them on Facebook, Instagram, and here, and then I’ll be like a Girl Scout and knocking on doors! Just kidding…maybe. :) I’ll give my mom some to take to work. :)

Okay! I think I’ve talked your ear off today – time for me to get ready to go see my little nephew perform in his school’s concert (tears of happiness, always). :)

I hope the ending lifted your spirits up a bit! Pip pip, friend!! Enjoy the sunshine, the birdies, and all the little moments that make life oh so b-e-a-utiful! xoxoxo

Hello, friend!

I can’t type too long – I must be off soon! My bubble bath is running (rough life, I know) and I don’t have much time to get ready. Paul will be home soon and we’re going out to an art museum tonight! Ooo la la. I can’t wait. :)

So let’s get straight to the point, shall we? My office in our new home has been given a makeover and I’m. in. love.

When we first moved in I thought I’d be painting the walls a very light blue, or even white. I thought I wanted a bright, airy, cheerful room – but then I opted for a dark, cozy, dreamy room instead. I used a bunch of photos of English cottage rooms (the dark ones) as a bit of inspiration, I was even tempted to paint it like the dining room in Pride & Prejudice, but eventually stuck with what I knew and painted it the same deep gray that was in our last home’s bedroom. I love it! It’s a dark, cozy cove and yet I still get tons of light in here.

Here’s what it looked like before we moved in (taken from the MLS website):

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Here’s what it looked like after we moved in plus a mid-painting photo:

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

And here it is now!!

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com

Isn’t it lovely?! We changed out the old beige blinds for faux wood white blinds (something so simple makes such a huge difference!), hung the curtain for my closet (the curtain used to be our old bathroom’s shower curtain!), and Paul just hung up my white shelves the other day. The only new pieces of furniture we bought are the white cubby shelves under the TV – my last office had much more shelf space with the window ledge so I needed something simple to make up for it – and my new chair. I’d been using that tall blue chair for years and although it’s a pretty color, it is terrible on my back. I clearly had no idea how long one sits in a chair when editing wedding photos when I first purchased it all those years ago. But this new one is wonderful and so comfortable – it’s adjustable in height, tilt, and it spins! (And it’s pretty.)

And when I’m working on my computer the room looks a tad different. I pull my large blue monitor off the floor (in these photos it’s in the closet behind the curtains), bring my laptop, mouse, and keyboard out of my desk drawers, and grab my scanner out from the little blue and white striped table under the window. It seems like a hassle, but really it’s not. And then when I paint they all go back into their hiding places, giving me more room to spread out on my desk (like in the photos).

So that’s where I’m hiding every day during the week while Paul’s downtown and Rusty is snuggled in his bed. Although I still miss our old home quite a bit, I love this office much, much more than my old office (although I do miss the view of my garden – speaking of, Paul and I have been creating all sorts of plans for the garden this spring!! We’ve already begun with the seedlings which are currently residing on my piano, soaking up the sunshine, and we’re planning on creating another gated vegetable garden in the backyard!! I’m excited, so excited. Spring, please be here NOW.)

Okay friends, time to get going and venture outside these four walls! I still have the completed bathroom makeover to show you and hopefully soon I can show you what we’re up to in the garden! :) I hope you like my office – feel free to come over, a pot of tea is always on. xoxo