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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!) --->

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

Hello dearest friends!

‘Tis the end of another life-changing year and we’re only a few days away from jumping through the New Year hoop! Are you excited? Big plans for 2017? New goals? Dreams?

I’m on the same boat – a new year means a new way of living. All throughout the year I never notice the changes being made until I look back many months ago and think, Holey moley! Was I really doing that? Did I really make that much progress? (Or the dreaded…Did I really not do what I planned? That’s the worst…)

So I have a New Year’s resolution plan just like you. :) A few years ago I made quite the detailed resolution list and you know what the worst thing was? It was so long and intricate that within a week I had forgotten the majority of it and just went back to my old ways of life. Even two years ago I made a decent long list of things I wanted to do, and even though it was much less detailed I still didn’t accomplish much. So this year, I’m going with a theme instead of a detailed list.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been realizing, rather forcefully, that I am an over-stressed person. I’ve always known I was capable of letting things get to me – I had a stress-induced stomach ulcer in high school when I was bullied pretty badly, and apparently I’m not immune to them when I’m in my late 20’s and high school memories can only be found in my diaries. I thought I had gotten the flu a couple months ago but then familiar symptoms started happening and I was diagnosed with another ulcer; this time mean girls was not my issue and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what my issue was. Yes, lots of things are happening in my life, but nothing more than what happens in other people’s lives, and really, I have nothing I could possibly complain about. But there it was plain as day and I had to get my emotions under control.

So my theme this year is to de-stress. Be more in tune with myself. Be kind to myself. (I’ve since realized that most of my stress is self-induced. I’m a perfectionist, a people pleaser, and guilty of never thinking what I do is good enough and I could always do better.) Let the small things go. Bring relaxing things into my daily routine. Stop caring so much. (It’s wonderful being married to Paul because he does exactly all of this. I learn from him all the time and just wish I could be as laid-back as him.)

That’s it! What do you think? Are there others like me who are self-induced stressies? We need a support group.

But as always in life, there are little snippets that ring through the chaos and bring us peace, content, joy, and butterflies. Paul was away in Germany for work in the beginning of December (something that also may have contributed to my stomach fire) where he was enjoying mulled wine and Christmas festivals and adorable little towns filled with shop windows reflecting Christmas trees, ornaments, dolls, and basically everything he knew I’d love. I’d receive photos of places he was visiting, always with the caption of “You’d love it here,” so when he finally arrived home, it was time for us both to enjoy the magic of Christmas.

A week before Christmas, we left on the morning right after some heavy snow (always advisable) to the adorable little bluff town of Lanesboro – some of you might remember it from our anniversary last year. Since the roads were so bad we didn’t make it down until just an hour before sunset. When we arrived down that sloping hill towards the river and over the town’s rooftops, I was just in awe. It’s nothing  spectacular, but to me it’s perfect. The town was alive with Christmas shoppers, even though it was barely 10 degrees, and the wreaths were strewn about on the lampposts and shop doors, garland wrapped around each window with twinkle lights peeking through the greenery, the bluffs were covered in a fresh blanket of snow, and right in the middle of the street there was a long string of garland connecting the streets to one another with a big wreath in the middle. I couldn’t have been happier. :)

After checking into our little inn (complete with wraparound front porch and a little toy poodle barking from the upstairs balcony) and unloading our stuff in our “Mocha” themed room, we decided to get some food at our favorite spot, Pedal Pushers. Run or drive? That was the extent of our decision making that weekend. We were only a couple of blocks from main street but the snow was already tough to get through everywhere else…so we ran. The cold bit at our faces, the wind tore through our coats, and 2 minutes of running felt like an hour. But then we got to main street and all that anger towards winter froze. It was like looking at a Christmas card. I took pictures, (Paul continued his flight to the warmth of the cafe) absolutely delighted that places like this still exist. The grocery store is a tiny corner market with only the necessities. There’s an ice-cream shop, an English pub, the cafe, a fine dining restaurant, a casual riverside saloon, a liquor store (the cutest liquor store I’ve ever seen), antiques in an old barn, gift shops with local products, an art gallery, and a local theater (live, not movie). What more could a girl ask for??

After dinner we jogged over to a few shops for last minute Christmas gifts, picked up some goodies for us at the liquor store and then some sustenance at the market, and then ran on back to the inn to get ready. Because what we really went down there for was the local theater’s production of A Christmas Carol. And of course being produced in this little arts town, it was a home run. Around 7pm we bundled up and braced ourselves yet again for the fierce cold which had only gotten worse since sundown. But we knew warmth lie only a few blocks ahead and we wouldn’t have to leave it for at least a couple of hours. Always a silver lining. :) And while we were running down the street, we noticed on the top of the bluffs, a lone, lit Christmas tree and we stopped, in the dead chill, and smiled. Of course this town would have a Christmas tree overlooking all the shoppers and theater goers.

We entered the theater and again, I was in awe. It was nothing spectacular but it was everything I wanted it to be; cozy, warm, and old-fashioned. The ticket keeper was having conversations with the little old ladies in front of us like she knew them from her childhood while tiny piles of people came in through the doors with gusts of wind behind them, all red-cheeked and smiles. The play was lovely, a classic tale with some brilliant acting – I didn’t want it to end, and I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful I had someone who shared my love of old-fashioned cozy things sitting beside me.

After the play we hunkered down under our hats and scarves and big coats, ready for the night air. I took one last look at Christmas time in Lanesboro and knew we’d be back again (preferably without all the running).

And that was our little dream that happened in the midst of the holiday chaos. I think we all need moments like that where we actually can take the time to just be. Right, friends? And if that weren’t wonderful enough, this year was the first year in 8 years where my family was all together on Christmas Eve. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephews have finally moved back home and it was such a blessing to all be together on Christmas. Of course when we realized how long it’s been, we cheered and laughed and smiled and clinked our glasses in my mom and dad’s kitchen, with the pasta cooking and the meatballs baking, while the four little nephews were heard screaming and laughing in the basement. ‘Twas bliss. :)

And now, since I’ve written you a small book (and it’s taken me almost two hours to write this), I shall bid you adieu. I wish you all the happiness in these last days of 2016 and as always, I can’t wait to see what this next year brings us! Hopefully good fortune, laughter, health, love, and an abundance of happiness. Cheers to you, friends and Happy New Year!! xoxo

  • momDecember 30, 2016 - 6:38 am

    I think you’re great, and I love the paintings.ReplyCancel

When you plan for a December wedding in Minnesota, you just never know what you’re going to get (the same is true for April). One always hopes for big, fluffy snowflakes and cold crisp air, but instead Travis and Kristin were blessed with warm (32 degrees in MN warm) and sunny weather with barely a breeze in the air, and living in Minnesota one must go with the flow. :) The snow we had gotten before Thanksgiving had already melted, showing off the greens of the pine trees and what’s left from autumn’s gardens. And although the typical winter wedding wasn’t happening on the outside, inside the venue it was nothing but cozy Christmas, smelling of real pine with candles and crystals shimmering off the walls and champagne glasses. Kristin was a snow queen, showered in white and snuggled in a fur stole, while Travis looked classic in his bow-tie and shiny black tux. There was a horse & carriage ride, romantic music, vintage decor and wallpaper-adorned walls, gold accents, Christmas wreaths, and of course a lot of laughs, happy tears, and cheering for the newly married couple. :)

Travis & Kristin, thank you for inviting Paul and I to be a part of your beautiful day, as well as your winter carriage ride. :) We are so happy for the two of you and can’t wait to see what your future holds! We wish you all the best and I truly hope you enjoy your sneak peek (your gallery will be sent tonight!!). Congratulations!! Xoxoxo :)