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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!) --->

Harvesting Basil | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello, sweet friends! Music? Yes, let’s. :) (I’ve been singing it around the house lately – so much uncertainty!)

I’m currently nestled in my office in our little house in the country. We should have been in the new house now, but what can I say? Life happens and closing dates get pushed out, but we are now good to go for our new closing date: tomorrow morning! We don’t plan on moving in completely right away. We have a trailer we’re borrowing from a friend and it’s been loaded since Sunday (I’m trying to read the last few chapters of Harry Potter #2 slowly – #3’s packed and there’s no way I can get to it anymore!!) so tomorrow Paul and I will be unloading it at the new house with Rusty in tow – we’ll let him get used to the place while we haul boxes in and begin cleaning. We’re hoping to be in the house completely by the end of the weekend – here’s hoping!

Want to know what I’m really excited about?? We bought a new couch and I am head over heels in love with it!! Typically with my furniture I go for pretty over comfy – I know that’s a weird way to be but, cest la vie. As we were about to leave the furniture store we discovered the gem in the clearance section (hurray!) and although it’s not my style nor my favorite color, I fell in love. It’s technically a 2-piece sectional and it has a Cuddler!! Have you heard of them? I definitely hadn’t and then we looked online a bit – apparently Cuddler is the actual term for a rounded end to a sectional, like a little reading nook! I LOVE it. The color is on the border of beige and gray, so I’m hoping with the right pillows, blankies, and wall color I can bring out the beige and hopefully some browns…:)

Anyways! I’m getting off topic. I wanted to share with you our vegetable garden!! I had told you last year that Paul began tilling the land for it and earlier this year we had even put in the rod-iron fence. So today I wanted to show you the beautiful, overgrown mess that’s hiding underneath the apple tree, and what I’ve been doing with some of the loot I’m getting from it. :)

Here’s Paul last fall, tilling away. We measured the garden to be 8×16 (it was the largest size that would fit in that area).

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

Finished tilling!! Now to wait until spring…

Along comes spring and Paul put in a beautiful fence around the garden, complete with a swinging gate! I was/am in love!! Also, see the moon up there in the left corner and the lake in the background? I love this photo so much, it might have to be framed in the new house despite my neighbor’s house in the back.

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

And then we planted our goodies: roma tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, broccoli, kale, basil, oregano, chives, and marigolds. :) :)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

And here was our garden about a month ago. The chives came first, then the basil, oregano, kale, and then the broccoli. The bell peppers and jalapenos have just recently been ready to harvest (and taste delicious, especially with scrambled eggs and cheese…) and the roma tomatoes keep producing new ripe tomatoes every day. :) :)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

And here’s a close up!! We thought we were keeping a wide enough gap for a walking path, but we clearly underestimated the growth of everything. The tomatoes and peppers are in the top right corner; the basil, oregano, chives, and half of the marigolds and kale are in the left top corner; the other half of kale and marigolds, and half of broccoli is in the bottom left corner; the jalapenos and the other half of broccoli are in the right bottom corner. ‘Tis a full house! (Also, see the random apples in the garden floor?!)

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

And here is our garden now, showing off its beauty for potential buyers. Isn’t it lovely?? Now to decide what to do at the next house…

Rod-Iron Fence Vegetable Garden | Nikki Tran Blog |

One of my favorite things about this garden, besides opening the little gate and perusing along the “path” to find new things each day, is harvesting basil. Oh. My. Goodness. The smell alone is intoxicating – I just love everything about basil. I love chopping it when it’s fresh, I love hanging it in batches to dry, I love plucking off a piece fresh from the garden (my Nana plucked one off one day – before then I had no idea I could eat like that! Now when my niece and nephews are over, I surprise them too by plucking off fresh basil – they love it!). Seriously, I have a divine love for basil. And harvesting it is much easier than I thought. All I do is this:

Basil Watercolor - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com1. Take a pair of scissors to the garden.

2. If the basil is starting to flower, cut the flowers off first.

3. Cut the basil at the appropriate spot (I know I won’t explain it well, so here’s a quick video) – I know I’ve cut at the wrong spot a few times, oh well. :)

4. Rinse it well in the sink – get rid of “bad” basil, bugs, dirt, etc.

Harvesting Basil - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com5. Combine all the cut basil in a bunch leaving enough room to grab the stems.

6. Using a rubber band, wrap the stems together into one solid bunch.

7. Take a paper clip and pull one of the ends until it’s at about 90 degrees. Tuck that end through the rubber band, and uncurl the other end of the paper clip to create a hook.

8. In a place that stays somewhat dark, hang a line of string or use a curtain rod to hang the hook end of the paper clip.

9. Let it dry for about 3-4 weeks (simple test: if they crunch and break easily, they’re done). Enjoy!!

Harvesting Basil - Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comUnfortunately, I have nowhere dark to hang my basil or lavender or whatever else. So I hang my basil on the curtain rod above the sink window. Yes, sun still can hit it but the tree outside gives it enough shade that so far, it looks like its drying pretty well. The smell is amazing. I have two batches hanging right now and as soon as we move into the new house I’m coming back to our garden to cut another few batches to hang in the new kitchen – I have a walk-in pantry so I finally have a spot to hang it! I cannot wait.

Harvesting Basil | Nikki Tran Blog |

Alrighty friends, I think it’s time to read some Harry Potter (slowly…), perhaps a bubble bath and wine is in order, and then sweet dreams. Tomorrow shall be the beginning of a very big adventure and one must be ready to face it head on. I hope you enjoyed tonight’s post! :) I can’t wait to show you the new house – follow along on Instagram, I’m sure I’ll be updating it tomorrow…:) Ciao, friends!!

  • Jane AndersonJanuary 4, 2018 - 7:37 am

    Hey Nikki, I love these marigold flower. You have helped me alot with your tips. You have explained it in such a great manner. Thanks for sharing this blog.ReplyCancel

    • NikkiJanuary 25, 2018 - 6:45 pm

      I’m so glad this was helpful, Jane! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! :) xoxoReplyCancel

Paul & Nikki Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello hello, dear friends!!

It’s been so long since I’ve been able to write and if you’ve read the title of this post, you’ll finally know why!!!

Yes, friends. WE’RE MOVING!!

But first, music please? Yes, let’s. :)

I’ve been wanting to tell you for quite some time. I’ve kept Instagram updated a bit, but because it hadn’t been announced at Paul’s work until just recently that he was taking a new job, I had to lay low on the blog. And because it’s been, quite literally, the only thing on my mind, I couldn’t trust myself to write on here without letting something slip. It’s consumed my brain for almost 3 whole months!!!

To be honest, this wasn’t even on our radar until the very beginning of June when Paul applied for this wonderful job opportunity. We clearly didn’t know if he’d get it, but we thought, why not apply and we’ll just roll with the punches when they come. So he did, and after a month and a half of interviews and studying, my darling Paul got the job (as I knew he would). :) However, there was a big road block – we would have to move to the Cities, something I truly never thought would ever happen. I became the country mouse and gladly took my role very seriously. We were both raised in the Cities, but never thought we’d go back.

I think Life likes to give little pokes now and then when it thinks we’ve gotten too comfy.

City Mouse Country Mouse - Copyright Nikki Tran | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comBefore he even was offered the job, I began organizing my mind and the house. I knew he would get it (#1 fan right here) so I had to begin to get things packed and my thinking right. Honestly, I was dreading moving. I feel ashamed to say it, but I selfishly was putting my comfort over Paul’s opportunity. I cried quite a bit, probably made him feel a bit guilty (shame, shame, shame on me), but I’ve adjusted 100%  – maybe 99.8% – and we are literally moving in less than a week!! I’ve gone from moping around the house and reminiscing about everything I love about this place, to dreaming about new garden plans, rooms to decorate, new restaurants to try, and really, a brand new life for us.

Our little home, the place we’ve put so much love into, is officially on the market. We’re still waiting for the right person to come along and fall in love with the lake, the garden, and the cozy little kitchen. Cross your fingers for us!! :)

Cozy Kitchen Decor | Nikki Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comSo that my friends, is why I have been missing over here. I’ve been putting my efforts in elsewhere; packing up each room and finding hidden treasures (like our honeymoon photos!!), stopping to snuggle with Rusty in the last few days of being home at our first house (school is just around the corner!), putting up fresh coats of paint, down-sizing like CRAZY – our new home is much smaller than this one, and just trying to be present every minute I’m here. Between the constant leaving for showings and trying to keep this house meticulously clean, we haven’t had as much time to do the things we love in this season. Bonfires have been almost non-existent, home-cooked meals are rare, and walks at sunset don’t come around as often.

But this past weekend we were able to indulge. After an open house, we came home and were able to enjoy our little house. We had a real dinner, Paul started a bonfire, Rusty’s best friend was over, I harvested so many bell peppers, jalapenos, a few tomatoes (I hope to get as much out of the garden before we move – hopefully those tomatoes start ripening!), and more basil. We drank wine, talked of plans at the new house, kept the fire going, and were able to just be. It was one of my favorite nights here, and if that was our last bonfire, I’d say it was a success. So I thought I’d share a few photos I took – I rarely bring my camera out but I just had a feeling I should document our night. :)

How can one not think dogs have souls? Look at those eyeballs! (If you don’t know, Rusty is my boy on the right. Harley is on the left. :))

Today I made a list of flowers I want at our new house – Strawberry Vanilla Hydrangeas made the list.

Our little lake. We bought this house in the winter when all you could see was lake – the trees block it in the summer.

Our only successful attempt at a timed photo with the camera sitting on patio furniture. We had to throw a tennis ball as soon as I sat down otherwise we had puppy butts in the photo. (Can you see Rusty behind us??) :)

My little love. (He was trying to escape and play with Harley – Momma needed photos!)

I really hope I have good sunset lighting at the new house…

Nikki Tran Blog |

I should probably tell you something about the new house, right? (If you follow along on Instagram (search @nikkijeantran) you’ll see more frequent updates – I tend to use that as a mini blog.) Well, our new house is in the Twin Cities, I’ll say that much. It’s on a nice quiet street, close to lots of things (something we’re not too used to out here), and it’s 107 years old!! I never thought I’d actually own an old home. I grew up in two old houses, both built before 1920, but never thought I’d actually get to own one myself. So this is all pretty exciting to me. I even have a claw-foot bathtub, a walk-in pantry, a front porch, and there’s a storm cellar – the stuff dreams are made of!! We’re excited to get to know our new neighborhood, the sights and sounds, the people, the lifestyle, and see where life will take us in the next 5 years.

The best thing about moving right now? The holidays are right around the corner!! The fall decorations aren’t even going into storage when we move in – they’re coming straight upstairs to the dining room to be unpacked. I’ll put Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, The Halloween Tree, and Blackbeard’s Ghost on the TV while I hang up autumn garland and wreaths, and bake pumpkin pies in my new stove (while figuring out how to cook in a kitchen with very limited counter space). I’ll grab some blankies, a good book or Victoria’s new magazine, and a hot cup of tea (or mochas – I’ve still been cheating on my tea) and I’ll snuggle on the front porch with Rusty. Paul and I will take walks on streets filled with red, orange, and yellow crunchy leaves (hopefully!), then come home for wine and a bonfire (we still have to figure out where to put one – the yard is half the size of ours now), listen to records on the front porch…

Yes, I think the next adventure will be something to write about. :)

I hope all is well with you, dear friends!! Enjoy the next few days of summer, whether it’s getting the kids ready for school, or spent at The Great Minnesota Get-Together (see you there!!), or getting ready to have your own big adventure. The best is yet to come. :) Cheers to you, friends!! xoxo

  • NanaAugust 24, 2017 - 9:58 pm

    We are so happy for the two of you..Love you moreReplyCancel

  • MomAugust 24, 2017 - 8:01 am

    I’m excited for you both!ReplyCancel

Hello dear friends! I’m late to the game in recapping the month of July, but trust me. There are reasons for this delay. Those reasons also are why I haven’t been blogging this past week or as much the week before. In due time I shall tell you, no worries. :)

But for now, music! I’m listening to instrumental music right now – feel free to enjoy with me. :)

Without saying why, this past month has been one of the craziest months of my life! I haven’t painted in weeks (ahh! Blasphemy, I know), I’ve barely watered our little garden, and, dare I say it…I haven’t even taken Rusty on a walk in goodness knows how long. But, there’s always reason to such madness and until life calms down I’m just trying to stay afloat. Although the last month has been a blur, right now everything is calm. Paul and Rusty are snuggled behind me, napping together on the couch (Paul’s sick so Rusty is on nurse duty), instrumental music is playing, and cookies just came out of the oven making the house smell like a real cozy hug.

After writing to you I’m going to meander outside to my favorite spot, open my diary and write until I can’t write anymore. I’ll listen to the birdies sing their nighttime songs, I’ll watch the sun’s reflection go down across the lake, and I’ll soak up these blissful moments in our little home. Summer vacation is almost over, reality is just around the corner. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d like to stay in my own fairy land just a bit more.

So what all happened in July? Loads, friends. And I loved doing the month recap for June that I’m doing it again for July using my Instagram photos. I use Instagram almost daily as a mini blog (go say hi if you’d like! search @nikkijeantran or just click on the camera icon at the top of the menu!) so it’s nice to give you all the same updates in similar fashion. So here’s July at a glance…

July 2017 Recap | Nikki Tran Blog |

  • Every season I change out our flower bed boxes that Paul made me using fake flowers. I was a little late this year but before the 4th of July the flower bed boxes were beautified. :)
  • On July 3rd Paul and I celebrated being together for 9 years. He’s still the knees to my bees.
  • Even though I don’t talk about it very often, I’m still working on photography in the background and creating editing actions for photographers. Although I still love it, sometimes it gets put on the back-burner. :(
  • Paul and I had been spending many quality days together in the lake town just a few miles from our house. It’s our happy place – we get lost watching the waves and the boats putt-putting in.
  • Working from home is always a challenge, especially when I want to take a vacation since it’s my summer vacation. But I love it – it gives me purpose and gets me excited for unlimited possibilities.
  • I shared a little video of Mickey Mouse being painted. :) Can you believe that’s the last time I painted? I know, shame on me.
  • I’ve been sharing little quotes here and there on Instagram – quotes that make my heart flutter and so I hope yours does too. :)
  • While Paul and I were in our favorite town, I found this wonderfully photographed and designed cookbook. The cover alone was enough to hook me in.
  • My mom, Nana, sister, and I went to a little tea party in a tiny neighborhood in St. Paul. Afterwards we saw this piano just sitting on the sidewalk. Anyone can play, we were told. So I did! Hands became clammy, my fingers shook, but I played! A “Dear Diary moment” for sure. :)
  • Paul finally got to go golfing with my daddy, and while he did I got to hang out with my little nephew, momma, and 5 little kitties in my 2nd childhood home.
  • Have you had the pleasure of finally printing your beloved photos to put into frames or an album? If not, please do. It’s like Christmas morning.
  • Lazy mornings and snuggling with Rusty have become a bit of a habit this summer. I can’t complain.
  • I began down-sizing like crazy last month, and in the midst of cleaning I discovered I have no real way of filing my art. Put it on the to-do list!
  • BASIL. BASIL. BASIL. My kitchen is so happy I have basil because it smells divine. I have two large batches hanging just waiting to be dried out and stored for later. I. LOVE. BASIL.
  • I had my first official design client!! Friends, it was wonderful. It was just a logo but I was beside myself with glee!! (Go check her out: Emma Halet)
  • I’m learning that I don’t know all the answers and detailed plans of my life (it’s scary stuff for me). I’m learning that sometimes the right answers aren’t always clear until they are.
  • I’m soaking up as much knowledge as I can while I begin my newest adventure. The website is so close to being done but all work and painting has taken a backseat these past few weeks. (For good reason!)
  • Beatrix Potter turned 151!!
  • Our beautiful town celebrated for a whole weekend, just because. We walked with friends/neighbors around the lake to the crowded tents above the baseball fields, tasted wine and beer, listened to live music, crossed our fingers we’d finally win something from the door prizes (they had fairy homes this year!!), ate delicious food-truck food and cheesecurds, and walked back (to our adorable puppies) as the moon guided us home. Another “Dear Diary moment.”
  • Harry Potter’s birthday – after searching there’s no definite answer how old he is. But that’s okay. I spent the evening hanging out with him and Hedwig. ‘Twas a simple celebration, I know he doesn’t like when people make a fuss. :)

And that is the gist of July, dear friends. The sun is setting, it’s time for Paul to wake up (perhaps have some soup?), and it’s time for me to go outside and be still, write, reflect, say good-night to the flowers and birdies, and hello to Mr. Moon (he’s my favorite). Until we meet again, friends (which will be sooner than later, I promise!!) xoxo