Nikki Tran Blog | My Little Corner of Happiness bio picture
  • Welcome!

    Welcome to the blog! I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea, gardens, books, kindred spirits, decor, being in the kitchen, & exploring lovely things. 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 my little corner of happiness. Check out my latest posts on the right. --->

Hello dear friends! It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in our little house – Paul’s watching football (blessed, consistent, football Sundays), Rusty is sleeping after having his friend over for the weekend, and the house is hushed after a busy, very fun weekend with family and friends. I’m in my little nook in the basement, editing photos, uploading photos, and browsing Pinterest while The Little Prince plays in the background (have you seen that movie? If not, please do. You – and your inner child – will thank me later :)).

So, as you might already know, the countdown to wedding photography retirement is getting shorter every day. We just photographed our 4th to last wedding last weekend and it’s slowly becoming a reality for me that this is it. We’re almost finished. Soon the only weddings I’ll be attending will be as a guest – no more stealing brides and grooms away for sunset photos during dinner, no more teaching how to cut a cake, or finding the most perfect pocket of light for dreamy photos, or trying new things with ring photos and details. It’s getting bittersweet, friends, especially after being around Steve and Tracy last weekend. We’ve had a wonderful group of brides and grooms in the last 5 years, which always makes the decision to quit difficult. But it really hit home when we were mentioned in a speech from the bride and groom themselves – something we obviously never expect! When Steve started thanking his family members and close friends with tears in his eyes, I was completely overwhelmed when he turned to Paul and I to thank us for being there and documenting their day. Oh my goodness. Thank goodness it was dark because the tears started coming and I felt a rush of gratitude that my job has allowed us to be able to know these two and be there for them on their wedding day.

Steve and Tracy are two of the sweetest people we’ve ever known – genuinely nice, genuinely thankful for everyone in their lives, and there is barely a minute when there’s not a smile on one of their faces. We are so grateful to have gotten to know them and at the end of our time at their wedding, I just didn’t want to leave! I hate good-byes, especially after working with such wonderful brides and grooms, so I’m glad that I even get to relive their day with our photos. :) Steve and Tracy, congratulations from the bottom of my heart! You two are absolutely wonderful and we are so happy for you and Brayden. I hope you enjoy reliving your day (with a bottle of champagne perhaps? :)) – love you both!! xoxo

PS. Besides the wonderful help I always get from Paul, I also had extra help from lovely Shelby, a budding photographer who wanted to see what it’s like to shoot a wedding. So, I will do my best to let you know when it’s her photo you’re seeing and not mine, because really, her photos were beautiful. Thanks Shelby!! :)

Not even two minutes into getting ready and the tears started flowing…

Love this one from Shelby.

Gorgeous, Tracy!!

As usual, well done Paul. :)

Love these of you, Steve!!

Oh gosh, the first look was so sweet. Everything made me cry this day!

:) :) :) :)

:) :) :)

Haha love this!! Her smile is so contagious!


:) :)

I just love all of these.

:) :) :)

Love this.

So handsome, friend.

Their little family of 3. :)

They had such gorgeous weather. We were expecting rain and like usual, Paul and I bring good weather. Sunshine, light breeze – the perfect fall day.

:) :) :)

Ahh! Goosebumps!!

Loved his reaction.

:) :)


As usual, she’s all smiles. :) :)

With a slight breeze, there’s a chance the candles won’t light. :)

Yes!! Love this shot from Paul!
Just married!! :)And then we hopped on a couple of pontoons and set sail on a Minnesota fall day. Boys in one, girls in the other.

So we pulled up next to the boys.

Hi Paul. :)

Love those dresses – so shiny.


Their entire wedding day was held at a family friend’s house – it was perfect. Each table had their own cake, burlap draped the tables, baby’s breath was scattered about, and everyone dined under twinkle lights and white tents.

Two of my lovely past brides (as is the maid of honor! I’ll point her out to you :)).

Little Brayden. :)

Mr. & Mrs.!!

:) :) :)

:) :) Love this from Paul.

And of course, we whisked away to find the dropping sun.


Oh goodness. So dreamy.

Another favorite!

I have too many favorites I think.

:) :) :)

:) :) :)

Just a guy and his kid fishing at sunset. :)

Such sweet, heart-felt speeches that night. Every speech brought tears and laughter.

Love these two.

I couldn’t choose a few dancing photos – they just were all too perfect.

:) :) :)

Brayden made an appearance!

Love this!

There’s my lovely past bride!! :) Loved seeing her and Bubba!

There’s Bubba. :) And Paul. And Arica. :)

And as we walked away down the driveway after saying our goodbyes, of course there would be a bonfire at a Minnesota wedding. Bliss. :)

I wish I had something more specific to talk to you about today, but really, I think this blog is becoming more and more of just an online journal with photos – a little of this, a little of that, and hopefully somewhat entertaining for you. :)

What can I tell you? Life has been somewhat hectic for me these past couple of weeks (actually months but it feels like a fresh start of chaos with this new job). I’m finding that I barely have time for anything – I come home somewhat early but there always seems to be something going on, something to catch up on, or I’m just plain exhausted. However, I did survive my very first week of school and I have to say, I do love it quite a bit. Friends, my job involves reading books, buying new books, repairing old and worn books, laminating book covers, stamping due dates, decorating a library, and talking to kids. It sounds glorious and it is glorious. 

I do miss this little guy though. He’s my world and I know we’re his and there’s only so many days in his short life that sometimes I feel guilty for leaving him all day. But, as soon as we walk in the door, all is forgotten and I know he forgives me as he sneezes in my face and his butt almost falls off from excessive wagging. Summer vacations will be our days together again; we’ll sleep in, bask in the sun, chase butterflies, water the garden, take walks, and snuggle by the bonfire. (I painted me and Rust below, if I were still a little girl and had red hair. :)) 

We have all the windows open today – finally. The weather has been so wet, humid, and mosquitoe-y lately and I just absolutely hate it. I love the rain, but the humidity and bugs can go. Bring on the fall weather, the boots, sweaters, apple cider, baking pumpkins, candles, blankets, and crispy fall paths. I’m debating on decorating for fall today or tomorrow…we have old friends coming over tonight for dinner and maternity photos! I cannot wait to see them! We haven’t seen them in almost 6 years…is that right?! Oh gosh. So, we’re preparing for a wonderful night catching up over good food, good music, and fall-like weather.

And since winter is slowly creeping towards us, Paul and I have been preparing our yard for next spring already. We’ve finally decided to expand our vegetable garden and create a really beautiful, more convenient, picket fence garden!! Complete with a little gate!! Friends, I cannot WAIT. I’ve been wanting some sort of picket fence in my life for so long and I’m so excited we’re actually doing this. We bought our little tiller and Paul was out there for a few hours tilling away under the apple tree and near the lilacs while the sun slowly went down. I kept him company, of course, rooting for him from the sidelines and doing a little backseat tilling (I can’t help it sometimes – it’s like word vomit). It needs a couple more rounds on it (we think – we’re new at all this so we’re going with the flow) and then we’re planning on planting garlic before winter comes. Then by spring, we should (crossing my fingers!!) be ready to put up the picket fence. It’s going to be a long, tiring ordeal however, because not only are we doing that, we’ll also be tearing down our deck and creating a concrete patio lined with yet another picket fence. So, next spring shall bring lots of changes, lots of improvements, and lots of happy dances from yours truly. :) We have a long list of things we want to try in the garden and I’ve been reading up on homesteading a lot (this book is my favorite – it’s in depth, has drawings, and a huge variety of gardening ideas) and someday, we hope to buy a lot of land to really do the farming thing right. :) We’ve even talked of getting chickens (not to eat of course – I plan on naming my chickens! Henrietta, Betsy, Mabel…), and maybe even some fluffy, white, baaaaaa-ing lambs. To dream…

Well, I think I’ve talked enough to you – I’m sure you’ve got things to do on this blessed Saturday and so do I! We went to my nephew’s soccer game earlier this morning – his very first one! – and Paul’s out mowing the lawn, and now the meatballs need to be made for tonight’s dinner. So good friends, I bid you adieu and I shall talk to you soon. :) Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!! xoxo

  • Melanie BeilnerSeptember 10, 2016 - 10:28 pm

    so excited for your picket fence projects…hope you get some time in your new busy schedule to do what you love and catch up on all those activities us kindred spirits love so much :)ReplyCancel

    • NikkiSeptember 11, 2016 - 5:12 pm

      Oh Melanie, you are too kind! Thanks so much for the well wishes! :) Can’t wait to show you all in the spring. :) xoxoReplyCancel

It’s finally here!! I’ve finally sat my butt down and blogged about our kitchen makeover!! And it only took me 5 months to do it. Ha! Oh goodness…

So, a little background on why and when this all started before you see the big revealing. (The prolonging will make it more exciting than it really is…:)) Okay! We moved in this little house (it’s not super little – we wish it were) a little over 4 years ago, back in spring 2012 when the market was at its low point. It was cheap, it was somewhat different than the other houses on the street and other houses we’d seen in our price range, and it had a wonderful view of the lake behind us. All in all, we couldn’t complain. We were home-owners!!

Fast forward to just a few weeks later, and the orange wood was starting to get to us. It’s not just in one room – it’s literally everywhere. It’s in our GARAGE. On our GARAGE DOORS. On the BASEMENT WALLS. On the TRIM. On the CUPBOARDS in EVERY ROOM. Our kitchen was saturated in orange because of all the wood cabinets and trim. We were able to fix up the upstairs bedrooms by painting the trim white but we were hesitant to tackle any other room because, like I said, there was a lot of orange. After hearing from one of our friends (hi John!!) about this cabinet painting kit that only took them a weekend to do in their kitchen, we bought it, thoroughly excited about shedding the orange. And although our intentions were good, that kit sat on our kitchen floor for years. We talked about it, dreamed about it, sometimes even reached to open it, but still the kit stayed untouched.

Until March 2016.

I don’t know why, but it was suddenly like, What are we still doing with this orange kitchen?!?! Are we mad?! So one random night, we ran to Home Depot to also buy wall paint (why only start one ginormous project? Why not add more work?) – I had this vision of a warm, brown, rustic, cozy, Italian kitchen – even though our cabinets were going to be stark white. So anyways! There we are one night, Paul starting the cupboards with the kit (which was expired so we had to buy another new kit while we were buying wall paint) and me tackling the walls. We turned on Pandora, going back and forth between 90’s R&B (“Alllll myyy liiiiffee!! I’ve prayed for someone like you!”) and today’s country hits with a little Backstreet Boys in between (my choice, obviously). We ate random snacks and stayed up way past midnight (Paul eventually decided to take a day off the following day to continue our noble quest) and before ending that first night, I talked him into busting out the gosh awful bar that stuck out from the kitchen bay window. YES!!! That had been on my list of to-do’s since day one but Paul was always against it. Not only did I use my charm to get him to take out the bar, but also the ugly, useless, 90’s computer desk!!!! SUCCESS!! Oh gosh, it was absolutely therapeutic taking a crowbar to all that orange. I was dancing around the kitchen, completely beside myself with glee. :)

And then of course as all home projects go, once you start one you can’t simply leave it at that. So our painting projects turned into new flooring, new countertops, new kitchen sink, new hardware, new faucet, new (used) furniture, new lighting, and even a new back-splash. Yes, that’s right. We attempted it all and surprisingly, did most of the work ourselves (I can’t take too much credit – I painted 1/2 of the cupboards and all of the walls while Paul did all the dirty work, like hooking up the sink and dealing with the disgusting garbage disposal, or screwing in 3 different kinds of hardware because none of them fit anymore because of the paint, or hammering out the bar and desk. Paul’s my rock, what can I say?), saved ourselves a bunch of money, and holey moley we are in love with our handiwork and my visions of a cozy kitchen come to life. We sit in the kitchen for dinners now, turn on the record player and the little table lamp for company; we’ll sit there during a thunderstorm and drink coffee (him) and tea (yours truly); he’ll sit there and watch me bake or cook dinner while we tell each other about our days; we’ll drink wine and admire our work, happy to have each other and this little house. ‘Tis not a bad life, friends. :)

So, without further adieu, let me show you OUR KITCHEN!!! Let’s start with the waaaaaay before, shall we?

Here is our little kitchen before we moved in. This was taken off the realtor’s site. It really wasn’t horrible, just a lot of orange. Also, notice the bar. It shall be gone soon!

Again, another one before we moved in…

And then here it is just a year after we moved in. I was apparently too lazy to have the curtains – made by Momma – on the top half of the windows. Again, notice the ugly bar and the ugly desk on the left.

And TA-DAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! Isn’t she lovely?! The bar was replaced with an old bistro set I found on Craigslist – something I had pictured for years. And do you see the cute café painting above the bistro set? It actually says “Café Nikki”!! My name is never naturally on anything, especially spelled the right way, so when I saw it at Kohl’s I HAD to have it.

The cabinets were painted white, we bought new bronze hardware, and you can even see a hint of brick wallpaper we used for our back-splash (yes, wallpaper!!).

The sink wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t feel the need for a two bin sink, nor did I care for the stainless steel. I hate the smell of it when it’s being cleaned and I hate the grime that accumulates so easily. We originally wanted a farmhouse sink, but it just didn’t work with the space we had. Instead, we opted for this beautiful white, deep, single sink and I LOVE it.

The faucet is so pretty and antique-like, I just love it! And the COUNTERTOPS!! Who knew they made laminate wood countertops?!? Not me! A cheap alternative to the butcher block look and it looks wonderful! Also, love our dish dryer. :)

Did you know that the pot rack and island didn’t come with the house? We found them at a neighbor’s garage sale just a few days after we moved in. Best $5 purchase ever. Plus, the island is also where our garbage is! Sneaky sneaky!

I just love this. So much brighter, but cozier too. (Paul says don’t mind the dishwasher – he didn’t raise it high enough when he had to remove it for the countertops (also a disgusting job) so soon he’ll be fixing that. :))

So cozy. I just love it. Have I mentioned I love it?!

See the rest of the orange in the other rooms?? Unfortunately, we’re not even attempting the railings. We must live with it. :)

My favorite spot! I read here, I write here, I dream here, I cuddle with Rusty here, I eat & talk about life with Paul here…all good things happen here.

New kitchen things call for new pretty coffee mugs. Watercolor poppies!!

And if you’re wondering what happened to the computer desk area…TA DAA!!! This used to be my mom and dad’s yellow table and we got it when we moved in this house. For years it acted as my lens table up in my office, but now that I’m retiring and a brand new working girl, there was no need for it. So it’s the perfect place to store baking essentials, cookbooks, Rusty’s food, and other random stuff that seems to accumulate over time, i.e the junk drawer that everybody has (top left drawer).

And there you have it, friends!! Was it worth the long, procrastinated wait?? I hope so. :) And I hope it gives you a little inspiration to do things yourself. You totally can! If we can do it, you can do it! Just jump in with a crowbar and see what you come up with! Ha! :) xoxo – until next time, friends! :) :)

  • MeghanAugust 30, 2016 - 10:02 pm

    Would you be willing to share how you did your cabinets? What you used? Did you have to sand? Your kitchen looks BEAUTIFUL ;)ReplyCancel

    • NikkiSeptember 10, 2016 - 2:40 pm

      Thank you so much Meghan!! :)

      Of course! We used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit – honestly, I don’t think I’d use it again. It “eliminated” the need for priming, but you still use a chemical in the kit to basically sand it down. The paint color itself was not a quality paint. It actually took 6 coats!! All in all, I don’t think we’d ever use the kit again. I think we would do it the traditional way of sanding, priming, and painting.ReplyCancel