Putting in the work

I originally wanted to start by saying “sorry this blog is waaaaay late” but you know what?? Screw it. I really really like blogging months after an event, experience, or even season for that matter.

So here’s the beginning of our summer!

We started of with a much anticipated hike we’ve had been trying to time perfectly for the past 2 years. Yeah, I know right. But whyyy? Because of Mother Nature, of course!

Our patience was rewarded with beautiful Rhododendron “peak blooms” located atop Roan Mountain, a five mile ridgeline from Roan High Knob to Carver’s Gap along the Appalachian Trail.

They only bloom once a year and the sweet spot constantly changes so it’s kinda finicky to plan ahead. Lucky for us, we didn’t have much planned for June and we ended up hiking a few days before our 5-year wedding anniversary. Perfect!

I still remember what a gorgeous day it was but remember the vibrant blooms even more–the flame azaleas (orange flowers) were my favorite! I didn’t get much photos of the pink rhododendrons but they were pretty as well.

If you look closely below, you’ll see people hiking on the Appalachian trail just like we did.  Cool fact, on the left side is Tennessee and right side is North Carolina. 

I don’t know why it is but I love it when a trail gets tightly narrow AND when there’s flowers sprinkle along the pathway.

We even caught sight of a deer lazily grazing for a late breakfast. I was so still. And when I heard people behind me, I instinctively remember making a soft shush sound  and they immediately stopped and looked at where I had Hans pointed and enjoyed the view too.

There were also plenty of other wildflowers showing off like these yellow ones. I regret not taking a photo but I loved the tall grass swaying in the wind too. Continue reading “Putting in the work”

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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