Giddy-up horsey

I’m just now realizing I haven’t really shared with y’all my love for all things vintage. No joke. My closest family and friends know how deep it runs.

My dream car is a hunter green vintage mini cooper. Like even if I’m rich and have the chance to buy the “newest mini cooper that can fly” I would still choose the vintage mini time after time.

There’s a reason for sharing all of this. So as an avid thrifter or whatever you want to call it, I peruse antique stores regularly much to Khang’s dismay.

So when my sister-in-law Ngoc, who also likes to go antiquing, came to visit, I happily showed her my favorite spot, The Sleepy Poet.

She was expecting at the time and scored the cutest wooden rocking horse towards the end of our trip. Horsey was a little rough but I immediately offered my services to refurbish it (no, I’ve never done so in the past) and assured her it would be a breeze. Hah. It didn’t matter anyways because I could not say no due to the absolute truth that it was so stinkin’ precious.

Plus all I could think about was fixing it up for my baby nephew and hearing him excitedly saying, “Giddy-up horsey!” when old enough. It was a done deal and we packed it up in Georgie (my mini cooper). I think it’s safe to say we were both excited to introduce horsey to our boys.

I remember them both sorta surprised and for some odd reason it looked a tad bit more rough in my house compared to the dimly lit store (hah). No worries though because the four of us started to list all the things that needed to be done to it like new paint colors, missing hardware, adding new props, etc.

After a little research, we found out horsey was once a popular rocking horse (The Wonder Horse) back in the 1940’s-50’s, which is also the same brand rocking horse both Ngoc, Khang and Greg (more on this later) grew up playing with too except a plastic more detailed version with horse sounds!

It was meant to be. You already know my excitement went up a high notch. 

I think from start to finish, it took roughly 8 month off and on. Khang and I were pretty much on the same page about what all needed to be done. I decided in order to do a “proper job” was to completely dissemble and sand sand sand it. Whew. Looking back, I was not fully prepared.

After this stage, I bought transparent paper and traced horsey’s outline along with its trimming details.

And then we put horsey all back together again. All new nails and screws. Closed the unnecessary holes with wood putty and sanded again and again. So. much. sanding.

Then of course me being me. I googled how the original looked like and noticed right away ours was missing his “backing” on the seat. So I called in Uncle’s Khang expertise and he made horsey a new back.

During all that time, I was giving Ngoc and Greg time to decide on colors. I think the most stressful part was picking the colors. So much that they decided to “let” me decide. They said they wanted to be “surprised” but I have other thoughts–it was easier putting all the pressure on me haha. Just kidding. But not really.

So I started to brainstorm and sketch. I went back and forth about keeping the new design close with the original along with the cherry red color or going 180 and giving horsey a total makeover.

I ultimately decided to go with the latter. I had to be careful with my sketches because Ngoc was closely following along with the whole process.

Just a few detail highlights:

  • New hand-drawn trimmings for a more modern/simple look (for Greg)
  • Personally mixed custom color called Ngoc’s Mint (for her love of pastels)
  • Miss Mustard Seed Primer, Milk Paint, and Beeswax finish (for its non-toxicity)
  • 10 mm braided rope that I knotted to look like a bridle
  • Custom stencils designed by OMAC (my awesome sister Jill): Smith Wonder Horse and name labels in gold (for Ngoc) foil paint
  • A whoooole lotta love from Uncle Khang and Auntie Uyen

The paint was on a whole ‘nother level. I think all in all, there’s about 4-5 coats on horsey not including the primer layers (2). Not sure if it was because of the wood/plywood being 50+ years old or milk paint choice but it cracked significantly. I was really upset about it at first but then it grew up me. It kept horsey looking vintage and charming.

Even when I was frustrated and nervous about messing up (again and again), I kept picturing this image in my head of Greg on his own rocking horse and in turn thinking of our nephew on horsey. It definitely helped me stay focus on finishing. His mom shared the image with me 3 months after finding horsey.

But I always knew it would be worth it.

Everything started coming together towards the end. I stenciled the labels last along with Khang and I signing the backseat.

And the results! I absolutely love how horsey turned out in the end. But I think I loved the entire process so much more. I’ve just always enjoyed meticulous work especially with my own hands.

I truly had a wonderful time even with the stress and worry especially since I know without a doubt Ngoc, Greg, and our nephew will take special care of horsey and give him all the love for years to come.

Khang and I were able to deliver it personally to horsey’s new owner on his baptism weekend. Of course, Auntie Uyen wrapped it all up for my baby boy.

He has a little ways to go before he can fully test out those brand-new extension springs. 

But already he’s the most adorable little cowboy in the south.

Have you ever tried to refurbish anything or would like to? Oh please do share!

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Springtime Withjules

Fall has always been my most favorite season. And it still is.

But.

Spring has been closing that gap to the top of my list with every passing year.

The gorgeous blooming redbuds signal the start of this beloved season. At least for me anyways.

During my work commute one faithful Spring afternoon, I noticed a group of redbuds and decided to wait till the following Spring to seize the opportunity for a photo sesh with Khang. I have a feeling this will be the start of a new Spring tradition with the Phams!

Along with all the wondrously colorful flower blooms come the warmer weather and refreshing air. So of course, lots of more outdoor adventures and enjoyment.

I cannot forget the adorableness of Springtime too. I love love that we live near wooded areas and have many encounters with woodland creatures all year round.  But Spring is my favorite time to observe them because of all their babies: nestlings, bunnies, kits (baby chipmunks), pups (baby squirrels), fawns, and even baby insects—I love them all!

You can tell they’re babies too because they are much more playful than “adults”. Even now just picturing them hopping and prancing about in our yard or playfully chasing each other brings the biggest smile on my face.

There’s one particularly sweet image that I have from out my window while washing dishes of an American Robin “parent”. I know it was either a mommy or daddy because it was flying low with twigs in its beak. I wish I could have followed it to its nest!

I could seriously go on and on but I’ll just continue by sharing random images of my very sweet Spring 2021 with y’all.

So did I convince you to come visit Charlotte during Spring yet? I sure hope so!

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Springtime with the Mophetts

There’s magic during Springtime.

I’ll share more another time, but this family here does a pretty exceptional job at describing what I mean by that spring enchantment.

I absolutely could not wait to share these precious family photos of our dear dear friends, Lauren + Stewart and their newest addition. 

 It was such a lovely day at the everblooming Rosie’s here in Charlotte.

Like y’all. It could not have been a more perfect day.

I’m sorta invested in them.

I think it’s because Khang and I knew L + S before they started dating so we’ve seriously witnessed their relationship grow from dating to engagement to marriage to a baby in a baby carriage.

Baby girl melted my heart with her sweet smiles.

A favorite of mine and Lauren’s.

***It’s earmarked and tagged in my head to remind myself to take more cuddly photos in the future.

As if this family session couldn’t be any cuuuuter, Lauren brought some of her childhood books. And from baby girl’s face, you know she’s passionate about story time. Hah!

I almost didn’t take this shot but at that moment, it felt very natural to me, so I just captured it. I found out later on that it’s actually one of her favorite ways to be held by her Mommy.

I think it’ll be a sweet reminder for Lauren when she looks back on this picture.

Y’all probably know by now how I love traditions and family heirlooms.

Well, Lauren’s pearl necklace used to belong to her maternal grandmother. I love that she wore them. It’s almost like you can feel all three generations of love.

One of the last photos taken and I think it’s just perfect with Father’s Day a few days away. Stewart was my go-to-person for smiles throughout our entire session. Obviously he did good.

Happy First Father’s Day to you, Stewart and all the wonderful Daddies and father-figures out there.

Dads are the best. Spoken from a bona fide Daddy’s Girl.

Thank you thank youuu to the Mophetts for allowing me to take their first official family photos. I had a delightful time capturing y’all.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Being gentle

Remember my favorite Mr. & Mrs Smith?

Yep those two. Now they are three. Well four including their golden furbaby. 

Khang and I were lucky enough to go visit them and meet our sweet new baby nephew!

Ngoc asked me beforehand to take a few photos of them at home. And to my absolute delight she specifically asked  me to capture “real moments at home to remember how things were at that moment in our life”.

My favorite kind of photography.

No outfits or poses were planned or set-up with the exception of that first photo above. Baby boy enjoys being outside so we took lots of neighborhood walks and of course I wanted to capture that.

Look at this proud papa.

It was basically grab, go, and shoot with Hans. I ran into a few low lighting issues, but the moments captured more than made up for it.

I love these photos in their home so much. If I could then I would hug them close to my heart. I do mentally.

My favorite ones were of Ngoc and baby while they nursed.

So purely sweet and natural. The apparent connection between these two blew me away. Ngoc is such a good mama.

Something I caught her saying a few times if baby was fussy or not in the best of moods,

“Oh I know… I’m sorry baby, I’m new at this too. We’re learning together.”

Just wow. This still pulls at my heart strings.

It speaks volumes to me. I love her mindfulness. I love that she allows herself room for error but more importantly, acknowledging that she and her family are learning during this very very new and exciting time. Together.

But above all, I love how gentle she is being with herself.

I will not pretend I know anything about motherhood but I know I will be repeating those same sentiments one day (hopefully).

I feel like everyone, no matter where they are in life, should be reminded to “be gentle”. Because aren’t we all technically new to the start of every day?

So thank you. Thank you, Ngoc, for the sweet reminder.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Charmed

This is kind of late but fitting because I’m sharing my birthday celebration from this past November as we are welcoming 2021.

Fitting because they are both worth celebrating. Me with a new year of life to look forward to. And cheers to hopefully a better and brighter year for all in 2021!

I knew my 30th rotation around the sun would be a memorable one indeed. But goshhhhh, I will never forget it or 2020.

I know a lot of bad happened and still continues, but with all the dark and sad days it made me appreciate all the good that much more.

Please excuse me while I try to focus on that good.

In no particular order:

My parents finally became grandparents to TWO beautiful babies.

And I became a proud proud auntie again and again!

Khang and I spent more quality time than I could’ve ever wished for and realized how lucky I am to call him mine. It only strengthen our marriage.

I fell deep in love with our home and back yard.

Spent loads of time bonding with my sweet nephews in Virginia.

Realized we wanted to start a family sooner than later.

Found out we will become an auntie and uncle to TWO more babies in Spring 2021!

More time spent in the great outdoors… King’s Mountain, Catawba Trails, Grayson Highlands, and Blue Ridge Parkway+.

Clocked in 140+ hours driving safely from Charlotte to MS for more family time.

Accepted a part-time teaching position as a clinical instructor at CPCC Dental Hygiene Program here in Charlotte. On my birthday at that. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

And lastly, all our loved ones are safe and healthy.

All this good. I’m rolling it up and taking its good vibes and energy with me into 2021 and my 31st year.

It was important to me to mark the end of my 30th year on a happy note, so Khang and I set our eyes on Charleston, SC. Finally.

It did not disappoint. So much history and charm bursting at every corner.

Here are a few photos from our basically 48 hour getaway.

Not pictured are the delicious shared meals and absolutely lovely alleyways we found along the way.

Also Khang being Khang found this wonderful audio tour that we used during our self-guided biking/walking tour.

Y’all it was such a beautiful day! I couldn’t believe our luck…truly believe we were charmed during our entire stay in Charleston.

Our tour started at the corner of Church and Cumberland Streets. Notice the “French Quarter” print!

Tower of St.Phillips Church

Our first alley in Charleston was Philadelphia Alley!

If I had known, I would’ve taken a photo of each alley we explored. I could write a separate blog about them alone. I only have photos of Philadelphia on Hans.

But I strongly encourage everyone to find these secretly tucked away alleys. I think we walked through at least 6-7.

My favorite was Stoll’s Alley. I took this quick snap with my phone. It was the narrowest alleyway.

Dock Street Theatre

Next up is Joe Riley Waterfront Park or The Pineapple Fountain. Why a pineapple?? Because it has historically served as a symbol of Southern hospitality.

I loved biking through this area so much! The grove of oak trees with hanging spanish moss during sunset was beautiful!

Of course, Rainbow Row was a highlight for me. I love colorful anything.

All that and more like the Historic Charleston City Market, Pink House, more alleyways, and The Battery all happened before noon, so we biked back to our cottage for an afternoon nap.

Y’all already know. It’s me.

We really enjoyed our cottage ( really a pool house) which was also located in an alleyway and within walking distance from King’s Street.

We even found the cutest neighborhood bakery around 1.5 blocks from our cottage.

After recharging we explored more alleyways and empty historic neighborhoods just really enjoyed and appreciated all the charm and architecture.

I forgot to mention this was all Day 2.

On Day 1 when we arrived, we ate a late lunch, perused up and down King’s Street, bought a few vinyls for my girl Phoebe (phonograph/record player), and drove out to see the gorgeous Angel Tree.

There was so much I didn’t capture with Hans but I hope you have an idea of just how lovely Charleston is enough to go yourself!

Please feel free to ask questions if you’re curious.

Of course we practiced social distancing and wore masks in public except when eating.

Speaking of eating, restaurants and dishes worth noting: The Seafood Plateau + raw oysters at The Darling Oyster, THE Ricotta Gnocchi Bolognese at Fig, Okonomiyaki with pork candy + Papaya Salad at Xiao Bao, everything at La Patisserie, and Vicious Biscuit.

Now I’m hungry.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year–I have loads to share from all our holiday festivities too especially DIYs. Soon!

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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