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Nikki Tran Blog | Designer. Artist. Photographer bio picture
  • 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!) --->

Hello, friends!

Shall we indulge with some music on this wonderfully sunny Spring afternoon? Yes, let’s.

Rusty and I are basking in the sunshine on the front porch, something we’ve been waiting desperately for for months. The neighbors pull into their driveways in their mini vans, children pile out, giggling and running for the front door, and then there’s nothing to hear but the tinkling of our wind chime and the chorus of birds in the trees high above us. I can tell this is going to be my favorite place in the house.

Not impressed with a school bus that went racing down our street…maybe I need one of those signs that says “Drive like your dog lives here!” – isn’t that the phrase? :)

I turned 29 this month, and for someone who thought she’d have her entire life figured out at the ripe old age of 22, I am still on this roller-coaster of learning – almost in view of the end, and then the tracks take a sharp turn and I’m sent back into the abyss.

I don’t like to write about the negative things that happen in real life, especially on here. I prefer this to be a bit of a getaway, a collection of Dear Diary moments and snippets of bliss. But sometimes real life will peek its ugly head and I feel the need to share some truths in life on this side of the screen. You’ve heard me talk about trying to find my place in this world with my photography, art, design, writing, and anything else. You’ve read my break-through moments on here, and you’ve seen what life is like when all is gravy and my biggest worry is whether or not to take Rusty for a walk.

But hidden between those moments are very real – sometimes long – bouts of depression. A spiral drop into a big rabbit role, sometimes seeming impossible to escape, until the blessed sun shines and all looks right again in the world. Tea gets poured, things are accomplished, and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth can finally be together. I’m learning that this is normal, especially for those of us who work alone or are trying to figure out our creative mess in this world where, quite frankly, creativity and art are sometimes placed beneath the careers deemed as great success with big paychecks.

It’s been hard for me to transition from steady paychecks and a false sense of “purpose” to not knowing what the hell I’m doing again (excuse the French) and feeling quite useless simply because if Paul and I had separate bank accounts, mine would have nothing in it but moth balls. What is my worth?

I don’t like to be negative. I actually hate it. And I despise the drama of this all. I like frolicking around with colorful thoughts in my head, believing in fairy tales and singing catchy songs for all to hear. I like corny. I like crying simply because something is so beautiful. And unlike most blog posts, I don’t have an ending to this story. This stuff happens and like other things in my life, I’ve been learning about it and trying my hardest to conquer it.

I’m learning that when people ask me, “So what do you do now?” (I know people mean well and are just curious when they ask that question, but holey moley it makes me cringe), I shouldn’t stutter and stammer trying to think of how to explain the things I do. I’m an artist. (Paul recently told someone I was a graphic designer and I like that one, too.) I’m pushing the barriers of self-confidence and pushing the barriers of what my worth really means to me, not others. It’s a daily struggle , but I reach for my inner 5-year-old self and continue to be hopeful.

Did I crush your mood? I hope not. I hope that after sharing my life with you for over 6 years, you see a real person behind the words, and I hope, if you’re someone like me, you don’t feel alone. And perhaps you see that no matter what is shared online through people’s highlight reels, there’s always a bit of ugly real life hiding in the background. But, there’s always someone hopeful for picnics and sunshine, good friends, hand-holding, baby snuggles, fairy tales, and a happy ending to their story.


Let’s switch it up, friends! I meant this post to really only be about what I’m about to share with you, but ya know, feelings and such got in the way. :)

Okay, so in between the sad days and the crying on Paul’s shoulder, I’ve been in a state of bliss working in my little cozy office on THESE!!

Watercolor Calendar | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Can you guess what I’m making in my mad scientist lab?!

(I’m hoping you all guessed ‘calendar’ otherwise I would have to completely rethink my designs.)

YES!! I’m beyond excited about this project and I find myself wanting to bring my proofs along wherever I go so I can show them to everyone. I LOVE them! I don’t think I’ve ever LOVED something I’ve done – not like this. Even if they don’t sell I won’t care because I LOVE them and that means more for me. (Just kidding, kind of. I do hope they sell. Quite a bit.)

They’re ALL hand-written, hand-painted, handmade everything! Even the grids! I have so much fun brainstorming them in my head, finding quotes to match what I’m going for, and then watching the designs come to life. Every day when Paul comes home I drag him upstairs and bounce around my office showing him all the new stuff I’ve made. He’s always pleased. :) I shove them in my family’s faces when we get together, anxious to see their reactions (the nephews are always my biggest fans :)).

I’ve been researching different printing companies (who knew this would be the hard part? Can’t a girl just catch a break with prices??) and soon I’ll be honing in on one. I only have September, November, December, and only half of February and March to finish – it seems like a lot but I’ve only just started this in the beginning of last month. I’m hopeful I’ll be done by the beginning of June. :) If so, by the time the printing company has finished it, I should have the calendars in our home by August? I know it’s late, but I’m going to try my hardest. :)

I’ll be selling them through my website, my Etsy shop, announcing them on Facebook, Instagram, and here, and then I’ll be like a Girl Scout and knocking on doors! Just kidding…maybe. :) I’ll give my mom some to take to work. :)

Okay! I think I’ve talked your ear off today – time for me to get ready to go see my little nephew perform in his school’s concert (tears of happiness, always). :)

I hope the ending lifted your spirits up a bit! Pip pip, friend!! Enjoy the sunshine, the birdies, and all the little moments that make life oh so b-e-a-utiful! xoxoxo

Hello, friend!

I can’t type too long – I must be off soon! My bubble bath is running (rough life, I know) and I don’t have much time to get ready. Paul will be home soon and we’re going out to an art museum tonight! Ooo la la. I can’t wait. :)

So let’s get straight to the point, shall we? My office in our new home has been given a makeover and I’m. in. love.

When we first moved in I thought I’d be painting the walls a very light blue, or even white. I thought I wanted a bright, airy, cheerful room – but then I opted for a dark, cozy, dreamy room instead. I used a bunch of photos of English cottage rooms (the dark ones) as a bit of inspiration, I was even tempted to paint it like the dining room in Pride & Prejudice, but eventually stuck with what I knew and painted it the same deep gray that was in our last home’s bedroom. I love it! It’s a dark, cozy cove and yet I still get tons of light in here.

Here’s what it looked like before we moved in (taken from the MLS website):

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Here’s what it looked like after we moved in plus a mid-painting photo:

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

And here it is now!!

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comCozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Cozy Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog |

Isn’t it lovely?! We changed out the old beige blinds for faux wood white blinds (something so simple makes such a huge difference!), hung the curtain for my closet (the curtain used to be our old bathroom’s shower curtain!), and Paul just hung up my white shelves the other day. The only new pieces of furniture we bought are the white cubby shelves under the TV – my last office had much more shelf space with the window ledge so I needed something simple to make up for it – and my new chair. I’d been using that tall blue chair for years and although it’s a pretty color, it is terrible on my back. I clearly had no idea how long one sits in a chair when editing wedding photos when I first purchased it all those years ago. But this new one is wonderful and so comfortable – it’s adjustable in height, tilt, and it spins! (And it’s pretty.)

And when I’m working on my computer the room looks a tad different. I pull my large blue monitor off the floor (in these photos it’s in the closet behind the curtains), bring my laptop, mouse, and keyboard out of my desk drawers, and grab my scanner out from the little blue and white striped table under the window. It seems like a hassle, but really it’s not. And then when I paint they all go back into their hiding places, giving me more room to spread out on my desk (like in the photos).

So that’s where I’m hiding every day during the week while Paul’s downtown and Rusty is snuggled in his bed. Although I still miss our old home quite a bit, I love this office much, much more than my old office (although I do miss the view of my garden – speaking of, Paul and I have been creating all sorts of plans for the garden this spring!! We’ve already begun with the seedlings which are currently residing on my piano, soaking up the sunshine, and we’re planning on creating another gated vegetable garden in the backyard!! I’m excited, so excited. Spring, please be here NOW.)

Okay friends, time to get going and venture outside these four walls! I still have the completed bathroom makeover to show you and hopefully soon I can show you what we’re up to in the garden! :) I hope you like my office – feel free to come over, a pot of tea is always on. xoxo

Office Makeover | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.comHello, dear reader. Has spring sprung in your neck of the woods yet? Snow is drip-dropping off the ledge outside my office windows right now and the birds are making quite the racket in the trees in our neighbor’s yard. I couldn’t be more thrilled!!

I really don’t have a set topic for this blog post today, I just felt like saying hi since it’s been almost a month since I last wrote. I’m still doing the usual dance and routine everyday when Paul leaves for work. Rusty and I are still embracing long mornings before shuffling upstairs with tea and something to snack on. He lays by the window and I look at the big list of to-do’s I create at the beginning of each week and see what I feel like tackling at the moment. My head goes every which way with this little business, to photography, to art, to writing, to design – I never know where to start! On Mondays especially, I just begin doing something that seems appealing and the momentum begins to roll, like a train beginning to run on the tracks. Last week I was sick a day or two and had also spent two of my days painting the office walls, so I’ve got loads to catch up on this week. (Wait until you see my office now! We just received white blinds in the mail about 20 minutes ago, so when Paul comes home perhaps he can hang them for me and my next post will be a before and after of this room! :))

Kitchen Decor | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | nikkitranphotography.comPaul just booked our next vacation for us and as he points out, “Now we’ve got something to look forward to.” ….:) He needs a vacation badly, and it’s just his cup of tea where we’re going this time: Costa Rica! We’re ready for jungle views, endless views of the sea, and nothing to do but swim, sleep, read, write, and eat. Our last trip brought us to Disney World if you remember, and clearly that was my choice for vacation. I enjoy the more tourist-type destinations and Paul would rather be doing nothing on a beach – we need each other to give us a good balance. :) Paul also has to travel to Seattle for work soon and lucky me gets to be his carry-on luggage! I’ve been wanting to visit Seattle for years – excited to do some exploring in the Northwest.

I’ve decided I have a short attention span with projects now that I have the time to do them. I get so excited about one, finish most of it, and then jump to the next thing I’ve been dying to try. An unfortunate consequence is a pile of unfinished projects and a big belly of guilt. This is why I need Paul. Every night we do an Accountability Check and I show him my week’s list of to-do’s and then go over what I got done, why things aren’t done, and my issues/fears/concerns/hopes. He’s been wonderful. Even though he comes home exhausted from work he’s always ready to jump into the ring with me, encouraging me to continue with something I didn’t think was so good, or reminding me why I’m choosing to do a certain project, or giving me suggestions on what could be done instead.

Two projects I’ve been steadily working on are long-lived daydreams finally coming true. I can’t tell you yet, I’d like to have more done before I invite you in, but that is where most of my days lead me. In between working on these projects I find time to update my Photoshop actions collections, working on a new set to offer photographers, and I learn more about marketing, finance,Carnival Watercolor Print | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | audience reach – all the things that truly need to be done. With my last business as solely a wedding photographer, it was easy to reach people and then get hired. A friend of a friend would see their friend tagged in my photos on Facebook and inquiries would pop up in my inbox. Advertising seemed easy and not something to fret about. Well dear friend, this is a whole different ball game and I’m just beginning to wade in the new waters. (Not as fun as painting the day away, but what can one do?)

I’m sorry this was such a blah post, but life is just the same, day in and day out. And quite frankly, it’s been a bit of a blah day (even with the beautiful sunshine!). Next time I’ll have some pretty office photos, and maybe by then I’ll have dived further into the two projects where I will feel confident enough to tell you all about them – then you can get excited with me. :) (It is quite lonely being alone again, but the rewards far outweigh the loneliness.)

I know I’ve told you before, but if you’re truly interested in hearing more from me please feel free to follow along on Instagram. I share much more often on that platform, using it as a bit of a mini blog. I’d LOVE to see you there! Just search nikkijeantran and you should find me right away! Or, just click on the Instagram icon on the top of the right menu. :)

Enjoy your Monday, dear friends! I’ll write again soon! xoxoxo