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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!) --->

Christmas in July Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello sweet friends! Music? Yes, let’s. :)

This post will be rather short. At the moment I’ve got beef that’s just about thawed and ready to be made into meatballs, banana-chocolate chip muffins minutes away from coming out of the oven, two mini crock-pots full of tomato sauce, basil, garlic, and Italian sausage, and garlic bread rising underneath a checkered towel. I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t smell like Heaven over here. :) I’ve also got the most delicious drink in hand as I write to you – Pinterest for the win! I’ve used this recipe over and over, with good friends, family, or just when I feel like treating myself. :) (Good ahead and indulge, it’s Friday.)

Christmas Lights Watercolor | Nikki Tran Blog |

Today, my dear friends, is Christmas in July. I have celebrated this delightful holiday for as long as I can remember; from being little and watching Christmas cartoons on Cartoon Network with my family, to working at a gift store with an abundance of Christmas wrapping paper available all year round – excellent for wrapping CIJ gifts, to having my own home and treating friends and family to delightful Pizzelles, Christmas music, a big Italian feast, and yes, a Christmas tree. (If you’d rather listen to a Christmas song, feel free to click here. :))

Christmas in July Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comLast year I was able to really deck out the dining room – which is where our little celebration is mostly held. Food, records, and dim lighting make it the perfect room. The air gets turned on until it’s nice and chilly and the blinds and curtains are drawn so it’s like the sun has set before 5pm. Our dear neighbors/friends come over and we have the most wonderful time. We drink, we eat, we laugh, we play games, we listen to music – ’tis a little holiday in the scorching heat of July.

Christmas in July Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comSo that is where my day is taking me today. I ran errands, went grocery shopping, bought new hanging baskets (half off!), returned some library books, and have been pretty much in the kitchen ever since I got home. In between mixing and taste-testing, I’m giving the house a good, thorough cleaning, doing a bit of downsizing, and giving it some extra love. My summer class is finally finished and I’m already reminded that work is around the corner as I visit Target and see those big Back To School signs (how cruel, it’s not even the end of July – but I’m also celebrating Christmas so I can’t really talk). Aside from school starting, we do have lots to look forward to, lots of big changes, and in due time life will be back to normal again.

Until then I’ll be here, sprucing up the house, giving some shine to the windows, cooking from the garden, taking walks with Rusty, watching sunsets with Paul, and enjoying summer in our little home. Enjoy your weekend, friend! Sending summer Christmas cheer from my home to yours! :) xoxo

Dining Room Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comIt’s 12:30pm and I’m still in my pajamas. I have no regrets; Rusty, his best friend Harley, and I are having a mild lazy day today. My summer vacation is dwindling and with random plans spotted all over the calendar, I’m embracing the days with zero plans. (Both pups are snoozing away, each on their own favorite chair. They lead a rough life.)

Shall we play some music for today? Yes, let’s.

Our life is slightly tangled right now with lots of potential “what ifs.” Sometimes this kind of talk excites me, and sometimes it’s enough to drive me up the wall. There are some big changes that we’ve been on the fence about. It has consumed us for the past month, but right now at this very minute, we’re in a state of limbo. So while my days have felt more rushed and hurried and slightly chaotic, I’ve decided to let summer be summer and I’m embracing being lazy today. I’m getting all those complicated thoughts out of my mind and instead I’m tiptoeing to the simple, slow, leisurely way of life.

It’s so still in this house – all I can hear is the humming of a distant lawn mower. The wind chimes ring every few minutes and the trees are swaying outside the living room windows. Harley and Rusty just looked up at each other in between napping and then plopped back down to finish their dreams. The airVegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog | conditioner has been running non-stop for what seems like forever. On the rare occasion when the temperature outside has dropped below 75 degrees, we open the windows in every room and go to bed with the sounds of crickets and the wind blowing. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to the stars and moon shining through the curtains; the crickets have gone to sleep.

The house smells of delicious basil. Earlier today I shuffled outside – still in PJs (the neighbors must just love me) and followed by two shadows named Harley and Rusty – with my scissors and opened the garden gate. The boys aren’t allowed in so they went around sniffing every corner of the yard, chasing the birds, and licking each other’s faces (mostly Rusty licked Harley’s face and Harley tried running away from him). We have so much growing in the garden and because of the latest chaos in our life, I’ve been avoiding the garden and focusing on more “important things” and because of that, the garden is overgrown. We definitely planted too many of each plant but we’re using what we can and planning on giving some away to family and friends once it’s all harvested. Our kale plants deliver so much, so fast. The tomatoes are growing rapidly and soon we’ll be able to pluck off those little bits of red heaven. The broccoli is just about ready to harvest, and the basil is beginning to flower. So I took my scissors and pruned so much from the kale plants and then harvested my first batch of basil. Oh goodness, it smelled so wonderful. It looked so pretty and fresh. I plucked a few daisies, cut a couple of roses, and followed the two shadows back inside where there’s shade and fresh water. The basil is now drying in the kitchen, soon to be crumbled for dinners in months to come.

Paul & Nikki Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comTonight, when our home feels more complete with Paul back from work, we’ll continue living slowly. We’ll turn on the grill, cut up some veggies, dribble olive oil in a hot pan, turn the records on, watch the sun go down, take a long leisurely stroll, and let summer wash over us. When the sun’s gone, I’ll pull out my paints, Paul will stretch out on the couch with Rusty, we’ll watch a movie or our favorite TV shows, I’ll look over at Paul and smile, and we’ll be happy and content with where we are in this chapter of our life. Frank said it best when he sang

Frank Sinatra Watercolor Quote | Nikki Tran Blog |

  • NanaJuly 24, 2017 - 10:07 pm

    Your writing is so beautiful.I wish I had your talent.Love you more???ReplyCancel

    • NikkiJuly 25, 2017 - 3:53 pm

      Oh Nana, you’re too nice to me. :) Thank you! Hope California was wonderful! Love you more. :)ReplyCancel

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