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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!) --->

5 Thoughts From a BeginnerHello hello, dear friends!

Today’s post has been on my mind quite frequently but I wanted to wait until I felt grounded, reassured, and confident to write it. Buuuuut let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen in a long, long time. And what better time to share content than when I’m actually living it?!

I’m a beginner again. I’m starting from scratch with a brand new business in a brand new field. I know nobody personally that is in the same industry (unless the people I follow on Instagram count) and it all feels quite like walking on a tightrope in the dark, just hoping at some point I reach my destination or the light turns on. There are bouts of terror mixed with sensational giddiness and excitement. There are spells of doubt followed by unwavering confidence and pep talks in the mirror. It’s the roller-coaster that is undoubtedly daunting, but the thrill is completely worth it.

With a new journey comes the unruly constant movement of the brain (at least for me). I can’t for the life of me turn it off. (Learning how to meditate would be excellent right about now.) With a billion thoughts running through my head, there’s a pattern I can see through all the fluff.

1. Oh man…another thing to add to my to-do’s. Cue the drama. Guess what?! The to-do’s will never be done! The list will never get short! That’s the beauty of this all – there’s always something to do, something to improve on, something to work for.

2. Are you sure you can do this? Yes, I doubt myself all the time with this business. When I wake up, when I shower, when I’m watering the garden, when I go to bed. It’s constantly there, like a really long, annoying hiccup. (I’ve tried scaring it away.) When I go down to my office and see the piles of lists and the unchecked items from my to-do’s, the doubt sets in and I find myself wondering if I’m sure I can really do this. Am I prepared enough? Do I have the skills? Believe me, you’re not alone if you find yourself slipping down that slippery, negative, annoying slope.

3. I need this to be perfectUmmm…nope! No you don’t, Nikki (and you if you’re saying the same thing to yourself). Nothing will be perfect. The sooner we accept this the sooner we can enjoy ourselves. Do you know what I’ve been doing the last two months? Trying to perfect my new website. In the end, I feel like I’ve gotten barely anything done because I’ve been so wrapped up in it being perfect. Chances are other people won’t notice the so-called imperfections, and if they do, oh well! We’re human, it happens. Things will always be changing and will always be being updated. When I did wedding photography I wanted to create a Welcome Packet. I was so excited delivering my first one, I thought it was perfect (hate that word). Guess what happened? Two months later, I changed my mind and redid it. Every few months I’d update it, adjusting it to what I wanted at the time. Do you know how many times I’ve updated my blog? Would you believe it used to be green and orange with flower wallpaper? And that music from “Up” would play each time it loaded? (Nothing against “Up” – in fact, guess what will be playing in the next post? :)) Perfect is such a loaded word. Let’s get rid of it.

4. Why can’t my business look like hers? Oooo ouch. Why must we think like this? How cruel we can be to ourselves! What we see of someone’s business is most likely tons of hard work put in through many years. We’re seeing them when they’re near the finish line and we’ve only just begun. We simply can’t compare the two! Plus, the things we see are typically people’s highlight reel. We don’t always see the bad and the ugly of someone’s business. Would you have guessed that at one point of my wedding photography business I had to deal with someone actually stealing my work and publishing it as their own and I had to threaten to take them to court? Would you have thought that I only started making a profit after shooting for three years? No, because no one likes to tell the negatives in their life, especially in their business. We imagine all of these successful people have it all figured out. I always imagined myself wearing cute outfits, exercising, eating healthy, and having an adorable office with delicious coffee. Truth: I don’t wear makeup or do my hair, I wear my pajamas 80% of the time, my exercise is quite minimal, I eat healthy 50% of the time, my office is adorable – I’ll take that one – and I do tend to have delicious coffee or tea. But my point is, there’s more to what we see in photos and in blog posts. Comparing only cripples us, not helps us. Take ideas from others but never compare. You’re you and they’re them. Two different people with two different brains with two different ways of doing things. No way is better, just different.

5. Holy cow, this is AMAZING!! Yep, just as fast as the doubt/insecurity/comparison kicks in, the excited little entrepreneur in me begins to see the possibilities again. Where I once looked at my lists with unease, I now get excited to create even more detailed lists with tinier steps to get the job done. (I love organized, excited Nikki. She’s a good time.) I’m jotting down ideas I learn from other people – I don’t compare, I just inhale their knowledge and see what I can use for myself. I tidy up my work space because it just feels oh-so-amazing to be organized. I’ll even throw on a pair of jeans if I’m really excited. I begin to take charge; this is my dream, my life, and I’m going to choose how it’s played out. There will be days where we feel like we’re drowning – it still happened after photographing weddings for 4 years – and there will be days where we soar.

You’re not alone, friend, no matter what you’re dealing with, taking on, or experiencing. Keep up the good fight, reach for those soaring days when you’ve got a bad case of hiccups, write things down in a diary (I put my life on it that it helps), and remember why you’ve started on your dream in the first place. :) xoxoxo

Hello hello, dear friends! (Music? Yes, please. I’ve had this song in my head ever since watching Boss Baby with our niece and nephew over a week ago…)

The air conditioner has been running nonstop. It’s officially the middle of summer, the hottest of the hot, the muggiest of the muggy. (I won’t lie to you – a certain season called Autumn has been on my mind a lot lately and its brought only smiles on my face…) Sometimes when it’s too hot out, I like to turn the air conditioner way up, shut the curtains so it’s nice and dark, turn on only dim lamps and the fireplace, light a few candles, and pretend I need to snuggle with Rusty for warmth while the blizzard roars outside. I watch movies like The Holiday, drink hot tea or coffee, and cuddle under a big cozy blanket. Lucky me, when I’ve had enough I just walk outside to soak in the sun and water the garden. Best of both worlds. :)

You might know I have an Instagram account, and because of the easiness and quickness of it, I post there almost daily and use it as a mini blog. So, I thought I’d incorporate a little recap at the end of each month using some of my Instagram stories – give you a little catch up on what’s been going on over here. Obviously I’m a little late to the show since it’s already July 10th, but what’s the phrase? Better late than never? :)

So here’s June at a glance:

June 2017 Recap | Nikki Tran Blog |

  • Our garden has been thriving. We’re learning new things all the time (which is really the most fun part) and we’re eating veggies straight from the garden (next year we’ll know that we only need one kale plant, two at most. We have 4 and it’s impossible to keep up with it all).
  • I finally painted my office walls!! They used to be like a sea green (from the previous owners) and now it’s a light blue. I love it!!
  • I’ve been watercoloring on and off, mostly for myself. I try to have a plan for it and I try hard to paint things that could be useful for my adventure, but sometimes a girl just has to paint her little heart’s desires. (Last week I painted Mickey Mouse. Needless to say I went to bed happy and on cloud nine.)
  • I blogged the Best of Engagements and Best of Weddings this month – what a lovely finale to the past 5 years. :)
  • We’ve been enjoying thunderstorms and bonfires as much as we’re allowed. The bonfires are difficult this time of year – mosquitoes love Paul a ridiculous amount so we stay in more now that it’s getting muggier.
  • ‘Twas National Best Friend Day. Paul = bff. :)
  • Rusty and I have truly been enjoying being with each other again during the days. Every day starts the same – Paul leaves for work, I hit “snooze” 20 times, I roll over to the sweetest little puppy curled up perfectly against my back, we stroll downstairs for foods and drinks, we cuddle on my office chair while I (try to) work, we sneak in a nap (if we remember), and we both get really excited when we here Paul get home.
  • I shared a blog post about my watercolor supplies! I was thrilled with the feedback and will definitely be writing more posts that are helpful to you all.
  • Paul scored BEAUTIFUL tickets to a Twins game. Friends, I almost cried. I have never been so close at a Twins game. The sky was so blue, the field was so green, the players were so close!! It was a dream, a true “Dear Diary moment.”
  • Besides painting things for my new adventure and for myself, I’ve been dabbling in creating pages for my future/someday/gigantic dream – a book. (I feel so exposed telling you that, but there it is. Dream #1 in my life.)
  • ‘Twas Father’s Day and my darling daddy got a homemade card (Field of Dreams reference if you think the van painting doesn’t make sense. :)). He really is the best. I always told him I’d marry someone like him and all the good strong qualities my dad has, I found in Paul. Hip hip hurray. :)
  • My new website is still a work in progress. Can I be honest? I’m stuck on it right now. I just can’t decide how I want it to be laid out. I keep playing with it, hoping an idea will strike me. Until it does, I just keep on toying with it, moving this over there, using that photo instead of this one, etc. My goal is to have it done by the end of summer…
  • I’m still in my Masters program for Library Studies and my current class is my favorite. It’s all about children’s literature so I’m just having an absolute ball. I’ve needed an excuse to read a bunch of books sitting on my bookshelf and now I have one! I just finished Wind in the Willows and I adored it. I knew I would. Walt Disney loved it, of course I would, too. (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was based off of it and I’ve always loved it.)
  • We flew to California for the weekend in the end of June for our wonderful friends’ wedding. It was gorgeous (photographer’s dream wedding!!), Paul looked handsome as ever as a groomsman, and we met some truly great people. It was a short and sweet stay and we’re so happy for them. (I love being a guest at a wedding…:))

And that’s about it, friends! July has already been off to a wonderful and exciting start. My summer class is almost done, the days are getting shorter already (not by much, no worries), the tomatoes and peppers are growing wonderfully, the raspberries are flourishing (we can’t keep up with them either!), 4th of July was perfect, we celebrated being together for 9 years, and – dare I say it – Christmas in July is just around the corner!! :)

And now it’s time for bed, time to read, time to snuggle with my boys. Have a lovely night/day, whenever you’re reading this, and enjoy these blissful days of summer, friends. Xoxoxo

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |**I wrote this post originally in 2013, but I thought I’d share it again on the blog with a few edits – it’s my favorite story and I thought maybe you’d enjoy it, too. :) I won’t be blogging next week, so I shall see you all the following week!! Happy 4th of July, friends!! :) xoxo

(Music? Yes.) Next week on July 3rd, Paul picked me up on a romantic date 9 years ago. He showed up at my parents’ front door, looking handsome as ever, with a bouquet of yellow lilies (he already knew they were my favorite.) That day was when I knew I’d marry him and take care of him for the rest of my life. Call me crazy, but it’s true. I even wrote it down in my diary. (Diaries don’t lie, you know.)

And then a year later, when so many people thought we were too young and probably just in a honeymoon phase, he took me to the same picnic spot and proposed. I was 20, he was 22. Just a couple of babies, but completely head over heels for each other (and still are!)

Each year on July 3rd, we try to celebrate in some sort of way, making the day stay a holiday to the two of us. The year after he proposed was the day I bought my wedding dress. And each year later we’ve either gone back to our first date spot or done something equally as special.

Where is this magical place you might ask?? To most people, it’s the farthest thing from magical but to me, it will always be a little extra special – Como Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. I don’t really know how to describe it, but every place we went to on our first date just holds a special place in my heart – even the specific Subway we went to for food for our picnic. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I love July 3rd, I love Como Zoo, I love Subway, and I love picnics all because of this day.

Lucky me; Paul brought a camera on the day he proposed and made sure to take photos of me in complete shock and happiness. And he proposed through a homemade book – he knew me too well already. :) I’ve made copies of the book, but the originals are tucked away in our big safe, to be enjoyed and read for years to come. :)

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

His photos and rhyming were just the bee’s knees.

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story | www.nikkitranphotography.comNikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

(That’s my mom and dad…)
Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

Oh my goodness, 22-year-old Paul is too funny.

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

Clearly I was still in shock.
Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

But I was also pretty happy. :)Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |

Cheers to us, Paul – love you and our life together more than anything.

Nikki & Paul Tran | Proposal Story |