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 our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

From Summer to Fall

Happy Monday, friend. Apple cider is poured, the porch is open, two little girls are lying on a pile of blankets, a little boy is out protecting the backyard, the sun is dancing on our dining room walls, and the sound of a lawnmower is coming from outside my window. It feels like the end of summer, doesn’t it? It’s a warm 75 degrees right now and soon it’ll be back to constant chilly weather, something I’m not upset about at all. Summer weather and I usually don’t go well together.

The world still feels like it’s sitting upside down and for the most part, Paul and I are getting used to it. Masks join our weekly laundry haul, hand sanitizer sits in each car and within all of my bags, and getting together with other people seems like a luxury. We’re doing what we can to keep the people we love safe and while doing so we’ve been able to spend more time taking care of our very old, but very charismatic, house. Earlier this summer we gave our hardwood floors a lovely new finish, changing its color from a yellow-orange to a rich chocolate brown.

The night before the floors were redone…
After the sanding…
The beautiful rich color. We are so happy with how it turned out.

I finished painting the staircase hallway a light gray, a project that I started over a year ago. We finally finished the stairs by ditching the hardwood installation idea and instead installed carpet. (Rusty and the girls seem pleased as it is now much easier to climb.) I gave the spare bedroom a beautiful makeover when it became my office, and now it is my most favorite room in the house.

My office after we moved out the spare bed and right before the floors were redone.
Painting the walls white…
Painting distressed stripes, not quite sure if it would turn out…
Very much in love with it at this point…
Isn’t it beautiful? I just have two more ceiling tiles to paint and it will be finished.
Seashells, seashells, seashells…

And although we haven’t had anything to do with it, our street has been in the very long process of getting repaved with new water lines since April. It’s nearly complete and we are beyond thrilled. Our front porch is slathered in dust from the dirt roads surrounding us but it is a small price to pay for a new road and just the overall relief for the completion of the project.

In the midst of all that has been going on, I’ve become a Kindergarten teacher. I began working in a school steadily last winter/spring before the virus. I then became a long-term 5th grade substitute just as schools in Minnesota transferred to full distance learning. In May, I spent several weeks studying for interviews and was honored to have been offered a job at the same school, this time as a Kindergarten teacher. Last week I conquered my very first two weeks as a classroom teacher (specifically a hybrid classroom teacher where I teach students online and in person). It was two weeks of feeling like I was on a roller coaster; filled with happiness, anxiety, fear, confusion, doubt, excitement, and determination. Teaching during a pandemic is not ideal, but it is what it is and I’m determined to give my students the best Kindergarten experience. My room is decorated with scenes from Finding Nemo, the ocean in general, space, constellations, the moon, Mickey Mouse, and the joys of travel. There’s a lot of blue and it already feels like a piece of my own home. For the first time in a long time I feel happy and proud, like I have a true purpose.

What’s a classroom without Mickey?
Lucy came to hang out with me. (Don’t worry – admin allows this. :))
Welcome to Mrs. Tran’s Kindergarten Class, Explorer!

The girls have been making so much progress. All three pups have become a full-fledged pack; loving each other, playing with each other, eating together, sleeping together, and chasing squirrels together. I have zero fears that Rusty will turn against them (Lucy seems to be the alpha, however it is clear that I am the main alpha – Paul agrees), and I have zero fears that the girls will tag-team against Rusty. They have bonded completely and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We watched Harley recently (Rusty’s best friend who lived across the street from our first home) and the girls must have known how wonderful he is because right away they could barely leave his side, constantly trying to play and lick his face. It was fun to see Rusty and Harley go from playing with the girls, where they were so gentle and basically just nibbled their necks, to fully tackling each other and pulling on each other’s legs and ears. Dogs are the best, what can I say?

In the world of watercolors, you might have guessed that my calendar took a backseat, and you would be right. I’m upset I couldn’t get it done in time, but with what has been going on in the world and specifically Minnesota this summer, I just couldn’t muster up the motivation. However, I did manage to put a calendar together for you to download and print in your very own home! It has new art and old art, new quotes and old quotes, all with a dash of whimsy and happiness. It’s so simple – you just purchase it in my shop, then I’ll send you an email with all of the pages, you download them, print them, and hang them up wherever you would like! They print perfectly on regular printer-sized paper. If you’d like it to feel more elegant, I recommend printing on cardstock paper, but printer paper will do just fine. And, it’s only $5 for the whole year! :) I hope you enjoy it, friends! Click the link below to shop and get your calendar in just a few minutes! :)


Now, that’s not to say I’m not still working on the Minnesota calendar. In fact, I just finished – dare I even say it – my most favorite month of the calendar, October. Oh friend, it is an absolute delight. I used our cozy trip to the North Shore last year as inspiration and let me just say, I feel like I nailed it. It’s the epitome of comfort and hygge and I hope you’ll enjoy it for the year 2022 (yes, I’m thinking that far out already). I only have a few more months to go and then it will be finished. Between teaching and just trying to enjoy the days before they become shorter, I’ve had little time to put towards the calendar. But, football season is upon us and that means Paul and I have very slow Sundays with no plans, which usually turn into painting with tea and diary writing days. I can’t complain. Would you?

This summer, Paul and I began to walk more. We walk through the neighborhood to get to the nearby lake, then walk along the tree-covered paths with people picnicking in the grassy lawn or fishing on the tiny peninsulas, and then back out along the streets filled with fairy tale cottages to our 110-year-old house. It is something I look forward to each day. We aren’t distracted by screens and we get to have really good conversations, which usually end with us dreaming about our future in a small house with lots of land to grow food and flowers, and have chickens and apple trees and space for Paul to build his own boat, with views of sunrises and sunsets and the water…someday.

Me, in love with every piece of our walks.

The picket fence in the backyard is overflowing with white, yellow, and red roses, pink hydrangeas, rosemary, lavender, and white daisies. It’s not quite to the fullness of our garden in our first home, but I bet soon it will be. I can hardly wait. It’s bordered by white thick seashells from the East Coast – something I saw New Englanders doing when we visited earlier this summer and just knew I had to try – and twinkle lights.

It’s nothing big, but it brings a bit of magic to our very tiny and boxed-in yard. I also added two vegetable garden plots to the yard as well as a fruit garden, giving me a reason to walk through the yard each day for new growth and a chance to practice beginner homesteading skills.

We’ve been harvesting food from the garden and it’s been an absolute joy. I find that on my very busy and stressful days picking basil or a few tomatoes for just a couple of minutes brings up my spirits. I’ve made homemade pasta sauce the last couple of weekends with the roma tomatoes in our yard and I’m happy to report it tastes just like my mom’s sauce; a taste that brings up childhood memories every single time. There’s a couple of bags sitting in the freezer, waiting for those chilly autumn and winter nights when comfort food is needed, and they will pair nicely with the trays of homemade pasta.

Okay friend, it’s nearly dinner time and the darling boy and I have yet to take our walk, something I look forward to all day long. I hope I haven’t talked your ear off, and I hope you take a look at the new calendar – if you ever have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below or email me at hello@nikkijeantran.com :) Cheers to you and to the beautiful days of autumn that lie ahead!

A page from that big dream of mine, a book about life with just us two.
  1. AJM says:

    Always love reading these…glad you are doing well. Say hi to Paul and the pups for me. :)

  2. Nana says:

    I just love reading your blogs. You my dear are so talented. You have got to write that book. Love you more :)