Charlotte Winter Wonderland

Our very first snow. 

It’s special like a “first kiss”…you’ll always remember it.

And how sweet both experiences have been with Khang.

I didn’t think the snow would ever come. I kept my hopes down, but when work was cancelled that Tuesday morning, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

With the blinds drawn up, I patiently laid in bed. Then found myself dozing off when Khang suddenly texted me, “It’s snowing”. I jumped out of bed and sure enough there it was falling from the sky…SNOW!!

I excitedly ran downstairs, jumping up and down silently with my hands waving in the air as I mouthed “SNOW” to Khang multiple times while he was on a conference call.

He did not know what to do with me. Hah!

My favorite part of the day was running around in circles in our backyard and just giggling to myself as my boots sank into the soft fluffy snow with each step. Such joy. 

This is living. 

As always, Khang, thank you for indulging me in my neverending uncontrollable emotions. You’re the best.

Read more

Home for Christmas

Our first Christmas since moving to Charlotte and it couldn’t have been better! We jam-packed our schedule to see and be with as many family members and friends as possible.

I told myself I was going take photos with Hans to capture all my favorite moments and…it did not happen.

I just get so caught up with all my favorite people and would just rather be “in the moment” with them. Ya’ know?

I’ll do better next time. Maybe with just my camera phone, which is easier to whip out.

But I did convince the Tran Clan to take “dressy photos”. It was a hot mess, but I’m still happy we did it. Photographing 12 people at one time with a self-timer is no easy feat.

We were in our “Christmas Eve mass outfits” (we took these photos on the 22nd) in our parents’ backyard.

I took a few individuals too. Apparently I was having a focus-issue and didn’t know till I got these scans back.

One of the few negatives when shooting film: Not knowing what you did wrong and adjusting right away. But I think I know what I did wrong.

Photo cred: Jill!!
Love my Mommy and Daddy <3
Our best one!! Missing my brother-in-law, Ronald though.
This was our “serious pose” but I think it’s pretty hilarious.
So Jill and I really wanted to take sunset photos and the only day we could make it happen was Christmas Eve right before mass. And well that’s what we did. Ha.

Khang opted to “stay back with Mom so I can drive her to church”.

It was just me, Jill, and the beautiful sunset.

Jill always carrying that “Cali glow” with her. This is probably one of my favorite shots ever. 

And she took beautiful shots of me too!
I planned to take photos of my in-laws too, but Mom was sick and the weather didn’t cooperate with us. Poo. We will try again this year. 

But I did manage to get some sweet shots of our family in New Orleans. 

Side note: St. Roch Market is a must! Not only is the food culturally diverse and delicious, the wonderful atmosphere is high in energy, yet warm in conversations with people from all different paths. 

We were confined to a corner that made everyone face a wall. This made it hard to take photos, so I decided to play paparazzi and took some through the windows. I was trying to get candid shots. 

Missing a bunch of faces. But happy we got to see our cousins!! It’s always a fun time!!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays with their loved ones. Khang and I sure did!

Thanks for reading and following along 

with me,

Jules.

Read more

Ginni+Andrew

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m one out of five, that’s right,  FIVE girls.

Bless my parents.

Ginni is the second oldest and we’re 7 years apart, so naturally I grew up looking UP to her.

I think older siblings are some of the strongest people in someone’s life, at least that’s the case for me. You feel safe and protected around them.

When I had questions about my FAFSA, I went to her.

When I moved away to college and the AC Man gave me a difficult time with fixing my AC, crying my eyes out, I called her.

When our Daddy is sick and needs to go to the doctor, I call her (this actually happened 3 weeks ago!)

I’m used to seeing her a tad bit stressed because she’s pretty much always helping people (family, friends, work clients) with their problems.

She’s unbelievably selfless.

And I’m very proud to call her my big sister.

But here’s the thing, while photograhing her and Andrew, I was taken by surprise.

Ginni’s usual demeanor slowly melted away with every tickle, laugh, and little joke from Andrew.

It took me off guard.

It was as if I was looking at her with fresh eyes.

The two of them were so playful with each other and laughed for most of the session.

It dawned on me that I was truly seeing my sister in love for the first time.

Like really really in love.

And it was such a sweet experience for me to witness.

Keep scrolling to see what I’m talking about…

They did these adorable gestures when they thought I wasn’t looking, 

but I was.See what I meant by how cute they are?!

So many small lovely details!

Ginni’s a Master Crocheter and crocheted everything you see: blanket, bowtie, gloves, shield (it’ll make more sense in a bit).

I love how they made their photo session their own.

I’m screaming. So freakin’ gorgeous!!
They’re avid Marvel fans, so of course, these two cute nerds just HAD to incorporate it into their shoot somehow.

Yes, Ginni crocheted that badass Captain America Shield.

Yes, Andrew totally owned it.

And yes, Ginni would probably still kick his butt as Iron Man, but only if she was in the suit.

Otherwise, Tony Stark would lose to The Captain.

And then we finished it off at the beach for more dreamy shots.

Andrew is from Cleveland so he’s not just “some bandwagon fan”.

That’s the end of their session. I wished it didn’t end because I could’ve kept going and going!

Chi Hoa and Andrew, thank youuu so much for giving me the opportunity to photograph y’all!

I’m beyond excited to see what this new year has in store for “GinnDrew”!!

Sidenote: I’m learning one of the reasons why I love photography so much is because I can feel what my clients are feeling and these two had me feeling happy and sappy the whole time.

If you are interested in me capturing the love and laughter YOU hold, then email me at hello@withjulespham.com and let’s create some magic together.

Thanks for reading and following along 

with me,

Jules.

Read more

Christmas Card + Calligraphy Inspiration

Our very first official Christmas card! Yay!!

Last year, we didn’t bother.

And I almost didn’t this year, but we got a cute shot during our Asheville camping trip earlier this fall that worked out perfectly!

I think it represents us well. Hah!

I hand addressed all the envelopes and, of course, I was reminded of how much I love love calligraphy.

 

Disclaimer: Not our real address.

It’s especially fun because I get to customize everything like the colors and greetings! After much debate (with myself), I decided on “Blessings from” and “Kindly Deliver to” with a tilt.

There’s something about someone’s personal handwriting on paper that makes a letter or card so much more special.

This is probably why I’ve kept every single card and poem Khang has ever written me!

Makes me sad that some schools don’t even teach writing or cursive anymore.

I vow to teach my children this lost art. 

So this is my attempt to try to inspire as many people out there to try calligraphy!

If you’re skeptical or doubting yourself–DON’T!

Here are two practice sheets from my very first attempt back in ’14.

It was rough, y’all. I waited two weeks until I tried again because I was so discouraged!

I did a comparison from that first time to present day. Look at the difference! I remember hating the letter “B”, now I love it! 

Feeeeling the possibilities?! Well here are the basics to get started:

  1. This book (I started with this one and its great for other handlettering techniques like chalk or paint) or this book (great for just calligraphy and provides different options for each letter).
  2. Modern Calligraphy set at Micheal’s- Recently saw this set and it has my Top Three Favorite nibs! And it comes with a little ink too.
  3.  Calligraphy paper– Can be bought at Hobby Lobby too! You cannot use normal notebook paper because the ink will bleed.

That’s it! I am very practical especially when it comes to my wallet or starting a new hobby. As you get more comfortable and confident then you can explore different pen handles, nibs, and even colors!

Over the past two years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me. Of course, I’m no professional and everyone is different. Do what works for you, always!

Few tips & tricks of mine:

  1. If your nib is brand spanking new, then it’ll have the factory-applied lacquer (prevents rust) coating on it. It’ll need to be removed before usage. Use warm water, soap detergent, and an old soft toothbrush. It will help with better ink flow.
  2. I like to run my nibs through a flame for 1-2 seconds just to make sure that waxy coating in gone but you don’t need to do that if you already wash and rinse the nib as stated above.
  3.  Always always dry your nib after cleaning–it will rust!
  4. Do not death-grip your handle. It takes very little pressure for the ink to flow and it’ll help with smoother transitions with all the curves and loops.
  5. Don’t get too caught up on making your calligraphy look like someone else’s. Everyone’s hand-writing is different so your calligraphy will be different too, which is a beautiful and unique thing!
  6.  Don’t forget to take breaks or your fingers will cramp up and you’ll just get frustrated and waste your precious (& expensive) ink and paper.
  7.  Once you use up all the space on one side of your calligraphy paper, wait for it to dry, and use the other side too for practice.
  8. Practice, practice, practice! It will not look pretty or the way you want it to at first but it will get better. I’m still learning after 2 years!

Just remember: Anytime you are making a “downward stroke” then the line will be thicker because you will be applying more pressure, which causes the “split” on the nib (tip of pen) to widen.

See below for examples.

Notice the space on the nib. See how it’s wider? This will create thicker lines.

And then “put it together”.

Just giving you a small idea of what you expect. The book(s) will be very helpful. If you like videos, then there are video tutorials too on Youtube!

I’m more of a reader.

Please feel free to ask me any questions! Or if you need clarification. I will try my best to answer questions or help in anyway so that your “Calligraphy Dreams” come true!

I promise it’ll be worth it in the end. I almost didn’t want to mail out our Christmas cards because they were so beautiful!

As always, thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

Read more

Put your pinky rings up to the…Rocky Mountains!

If you’re wondering why I’m always blogging about my adventures a few weeks late, it’s because I must send my film rolls to a specialty lab in Utah, The FINDlab, to get developed and processed.

And I wait.

I patiently wait for their email with my precious scans.

It’s always worth the wait.

Especially these from my trip in Colorado.

Just a little background info: The trip was originally planned by my sister Jill, who wanted to see Bruno Mars. Our good friend, Linh (who lives near Denver) and my best friend Michelle joined in and thus our EPIC GIRLS VACAY was on! We bought concert tickets and flight tickets about 8 months in advanced. We even had coordinated outfits ready for Bruno!

Long story short, I received an email announcing Bruno Mars postponing his concert two nights before showtime!

We were SO bummed out! I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to one of his songs since.

But with a group like ours, we made the best of it.

Surely y’all know by now how much I love being outdoors. I could’ve hiked multiple times a day. Colorado is beautiful.

Lucky for us, we were in good company because Linh’s boyfriend, Justin, was basically our tour guide.

And what I love more than Mother Nature herself is the love and appreciation others have for her too.

Justin 100% has that awe and wonder for the wilderness.

Once again, I can never truly capture the beauty in front of me, but Hans and I had a fun time trying.

I only regret not getting in front of everyone more to get shots of their faces. Stopping to take photos often, I pretty much stayed behind the crew most of the time. Hence lots of “behind shots”. Ha.

Our first hike was at Eldorado Canyon Park.

If you look closely at the towering sandstone cliffs, you’ll notice light green patches. I didn’t photoshop that! It’s the growth of lichen communities, which take over a decade to grow.Cool and amazing how those Douglas firs just grow on the cliffs.
This photo was intentional to show how giant the boulders compared to us. To be fair, Michelle and Jill are “fun-size”. 

Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is next! We woke up at 5:30 am to beat the weekend crowds and won! It was freezing, but the sun came out soon enough.Blurry but what cuties!Bear Lake wasn’t really a “hike”. It was more like a casual stroll around the lake with multiple lookouts for perfect photo opportunities like the one below!Light light light. Glorious sunlight.

After Bear Lake and the warm sun, we felt good enough to hike towards Bertha Falls.

So onward we went…and no, I promise I’m not a creeper that’s always stalking her sister from behind. Hah! Like I mentioned earlier, I was caboose. Waterfalls are breathtaking, but a frozen waterfall? A whole ‘nother level!One of the great things about long drives in Denver are the scenic views. Michelle is a genius and probably had the best seat!
Later that day we explored downtown Boulder. The historic architecture was more charming than I was expecting.
I also scored a tiny treasure– 1899 antique world map that I can’t wait to hang up once I make up my mind about how to decorate our home.And I couldn’t resist this adorable home, which is The Pridehouse that supports LGBTQ communities in Boulder County.
Ended our eventful day with these pretty sunset clouds.
Okay, last full day in Colorado.

We went to Red Rocks and almost didn’t because it started to snow…I’m so happy we did.

Just scroll down. You’ll see why.

Barely anyone there.

So quiet.

So serene.

The snow and fog made it even more of a treat. 

It’s like a poem.

I personally preferred my visit this time than the time before, where it was so loud and packed with people.

I promised myself that first time that one day I would experience a concert at Red Rocks. It just one of those Bucket List places.

Overwhelmed? So many photos but I had to share all of it. Hope y’all enjoyed them as much as I did taking them.

If you’ve been undecided on whether to visit Colorado or not. Just go. You won’t regret it one bit. Go anywhere there. You’ll sure to be awestruck with its beauty.

Uber thanks to Linh and Justin for being great hosts to me, Jill, and Michelle! I would totally understand if y’all never leave Broomfield. Just another great reason to come visit. Not that we would really need one!

Thanks for reading and following

along with me,

Jules.

Read more