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.

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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Little lights of mine

I’ve been patiently waiting to share with y’all that I became a new auntie to not one, but two new babies this year.

Yes, that’s right. TWO beautiful and healthy babies.

They are only 3 weeks apart and the first grandbabies for my parents.

They are just the best. We’ve been beyond the moon in love with them both.

And I love being their Bac Uyen and Di Uyen.

Bac/Di are different ways to say “aunt” in Vietnamese.

My sister Jill and I constantly remind each other how blessed our family has been with adding these two new additions to our family.

I say and think it all the time, but here it is again…God’s timing is perfect.

These babies saved 2020 for me personally.

When the world went into lockdown early on from COVID-19, my mind and thoughts went to dark and unhappy places. It felt very suffocating to be and feel that constantly. 

But these two..well they brought with them such beautiful and powerful light.

They brought back the “shine” in me.

These little lights of mine brought me back to myself and gave me the motivation to keep moving forward and towards better and brighter tomorrows.

I love them so so much.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet them both and actually took a few photos of them and their parents recently.

Here they are!

Try not to melt from all their cuteness and adorableness. I know I have and still can’t seem to hold my composure whenever I see or hear them.

Crazy to think that this was the last blog I did with them. 

And this was the last blog I did with these two! Time fliesssss.

Perfection right??

And y’all, Khang and I are getting two new babies in 2021!

Not sure if either families have publicly announced their news yet, so that’s all I’m sharing.

For now.

My heart might actually burst when all our babies meet their first cousins.

Hopefully one day in the not so distant future.

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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‘Tis the season to be thankful

Update: Our Christmas Card photo for 2020 at Crabtree Falls

 Khang and I went on a long-planned camping trip with friends towards the end of September. It was wonderful to say the least. I mention it because at that time in Virginia hints of fall were beginning to peek through.

Then in early October we snuck away for our Fourth Annual Fall Hike for Christmas card photos. Here are ones from previous years!

But honestly, our main goal was to experience the full effects of fall in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. And gosh, it did not disappoint. I’m sharing photos of that trip here.

Rewind to now and fall is in full swing in Charlotte! So it’s almost been 2 months of a glorious fall for us!

It feels like the loooooongest fall season of my life!

And it hit me…why don’t we do this every single year?? Because y’all, fall is and has always been my favorite season.

Growing up in MS only allowed maybe a full week  or two of fallish weather (or what I thought was a fall). Hah!

Excuse me while I secretly plot the same for next year (and every year thereafter).

I doubt Khang will even complain and dub it a genius idea.

I enjoy change and the change of a season is one of my favorite things about Mother Earth.

But with fall, it’s not only the change of the weather, air or trees that I love so much.

It’s the distinct reminder for all the good that has already taken place before the year comes to a close.

Unfortunately there was and continues to be a lot of bad in 2020.

And it throws me into a deeper appreciation for life and the people I love in it.

Tis’ the season to be thankful indeed.

So I thought it would be fun to include more photos than I’d usually share from this year’s annual fall hike.

As always, Khang’s patience with me while experimenting with Hans was much appreciated. I’m excited to send out our Christmas card this year. It turned out better than expected because we felt like idiots running back and forth. Well mostly just me.

I liked this spot so much that we came back  for a second round of photos after hiking Crabtree Falls.

Beautiful cascading waterfall! And a very enjoyable and slippery (from recent rainstorm) hike.


I almost broke my rule and thought about using two photos for our card with this one too but ultimately decided against it.

These were taken on our sunset hike to Hawksbill Outlook. GORGEOUS VIEWS!! I almost picked the last one for our card too.

Mainly landscape portraits of Grandfather Mountain. Like WOW! His majesty reminded me of The Grand Canyon. Like poetry.

Last photo taken with Hans and it’s of Khang overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Perhaps my favorite part of our entire trip that’s not pictured was driving with the sunroof open and taking in all the strikingly beautiful fall foliage with Khang next to me.

Le sigh. Until we meet again.

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Update: Helping Hands-1st Edition

Wow.

What a wonderful and long journey it has been with my Helping Hands 1st Edition embroidery hoop fundraiser!

So many thoughts and emotions from start to end.

And even now as I’m updating y’all, it’s all coming back to me after finishing up 6 months ago.

I still remember my anxiety, nerves, and doubts before sharing the kickoff. I was so so scared it would not be well-received or people would somehow lash out and just hate Helping Hands, its message, and me

But the feeling I remember most and what kept me going was the very first person who reached out to me about getting involved: Kristina

She didn’t know it at the time, but I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and love that this basically stranger wanted to be part of something so dear to me. 

I guess in a way it was like validation that okay this is as good as you think it is in your heart and people see it too.

And before I knew it, all 10 hoops were reserved!

Then came the real work.

I mean look at how precious they came out to be! La la loved each person’s

“1 letter change”.


It took a much longer than I intended and even longer to send these babies to their forever homes due to COVID-19.

But just as rewarding if not more to see and hear how much each person loved their custom embroidery hoop!

I sent each hoop with a personal letter but I want to publicly declare my love and utmost gratitude to the 9 beautiful human beings (you know who you are!) for believing in me, in my mission, your absolute patience, your donation, but most importantly your giving hearts because y’all were able to collectively raise nearly $1,000 for Global Dental Relief and its mission to provide free dental care to children all over the world!!

Like what?? We did that ^^^ guys! *Happy Dance*

And a little too for making this girl here just the happiest. 

&& Big thank you to those who couldn’t contribute directly but still encouraged + supported me along the way and shared Helping Hands with their loved ones to get the word out!

I’m still taking reservations if you’d like to be part of this small but impactful circle of ahhhmazingness or know someone who does or would simply like one of these sweet embroidery hoops for themselves.

By the way, they make a lovely baby shower gift!

As always, thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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