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.

Read more

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.

Read more

‘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.

Read more

Perfect timing

Some of you may have been wondering why I’m no longer on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Or maybe you didn’t even notice at all. Hah! 

There are many reasons, but the main ones are allowing myself to fully be in the moment with loved ones as well as myself and giving myself more time to focus on writing. 

Writing has always been so therapeutic to me. I feel like social media encourages brief descriptions on life events and in return, it really takes away from feeling every emotion and thought at that moment in time, which is often a celebration of life’s most precious moments.

In my opinion, it takes away more than it gives. And I’ve grown tired of things being taken away from me.

I’m giving myself more.

So…

I’m officially a part-time employee after asking my boss to transition due to overstressing and uncontrollable anxiety from working in people’s mouths during this pandemic. 

It was a hard decision, but an easy process once I realized my mental and physical health matters the most. Of course, Khang has been my #1 support. 

All of this took about 3 weeks to finally happen. Coincidentally enough, my last full-time work week ended with a 10-day vacation (planned 7 weeks in advance) back in my hometown of Ocean Springs, MS. 

A lot happened and I treasured every moment home with our families. I’ll share more later, but I’ll start with our first day of vacation. 

God’s timing is always perfect. 

It started off on such a wonderful note and in the sweetest way possible. 

With a surprise proposal. 

But not just any proposal. It was with Khang’s first cousin and his long-time love. 

I still remember the night he first showed me a picture of her. It was dark, but I remember hearing the excitement in his voice as he was telling me about her. 

Y’all, she had absolutely no idea it was going to happen. She had no idea that Khang and I were staying just 1 mile away from their hotel. 

She had no idea of all that was being plotted:

Khang knowing their exact location on Google maps at all times,

Us parking far far away so she wouldn’t recognize his car,

Us hiking 30 minutes prior so we could pin drop the exact location where it would all go down,

Khang texting him that he totally hiked passed us and to turn back around, 

Me squatting for 20 minutes behind some thorny bushes so she wouldn’t recognize me (totally worked because she thought I was some crazy Asian lady bird-watching),

And best of all,

her not knowing she would be hiking up a mountain as a girlfriend and back down as his fiance. 

It’s always been a dream of mine to capture a proposal. I’m so happy it was these two. 

Correction: This family of four!

 

Honored to be part of the beginning of their commitment to fuuurever.

Eeeeeek! Welcome to the family (even though it feels like you’ve been part of it for so long already)! We are so happy for y’all!

 Hope y’all enjoy these photos as much as I do. I mean it’s impossible, but you can still try. 

 Thank you for reading and following along 

with me,

Jules.

Read more

Holly: Moving fearlessly forward with faith

Have you ever met someone and instantly admired them?

That was me with Holly.

She graduated one class after me in dental hygiene school so, of course, I saw her around from a distance.

Oh my goodness, just realize I seem like a stalker. Hah!

Let me quickly get to the point here: I continued to admire her kindness and really blown away by her beauty.

Our friendship truly started to develop on a dental mission trip to Belize in 2014, which was life-changing to say the least.

And y’all, the more I got to know her the more I just fell in love with her!

I think what I loved most (on the mission trip) was her strong faith and how she gracefully carried Him in her heart and through her actions.

To put it simply, Holly’s beauty was much more than skin-deep. It flowed to her core and I just marveled at it.

And I continued to do so through good ole’ social media–she resides near Jackson, Mississippi.

So imagine my complete surprise when she began to document her struggles with her body in the past and present.

She also started sharing her journey with fitness and a healthier lifestyle, which is amazing and inspiring to say the least.

She documents it all (good and bad) but in a way that motivates you to not only improve your life and body, but your mind too, which is so so important.

To not judge your progress by the numbers loss alone, but by celebrating the confidence and fearlessness gained.

But still, I was over here in Charlotte still utterly shocked by all her insecurities and flaws she saw in herself.

Now I don’t want to come off as dismissing her opinions and emotions.

Because I did not.

In fact, I tried hard to see what she saw and instantly knew(like when I first met her), in return, I wanted to show her what I saw in her: all that confidence and fearlessness.

A different perspective from someone on the outside.

I wanted to show her through my eyes all the absolute beauty she holds.

Hence this photo session we did in the wee hours of the morning.

It was the best time.

Coffee seemed like a good place to start at the super cute Cultivation Food Hall.

We got right down to business!

Who are we kidding?! There were lots of giggles!

I mean y’all, how does one go about looking so freakin’ gorgeous in athletic wear?!

The lighting here wasn’t ideal, but it says “step into the light” to me. Or dance into it (her last name is Dancy too)! 

Holly,

Thank you thank youuu so much allowing me to capture you and your journey.

My hope is for you to look at these photos and marvel at your beauty inside and out.

You’re an absolute gem.

No matter where you go in life, heed no fear because for you my sweet friend, God has wonderful and beautiful plans for you.

All my love.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

Postscript: If you yourself are looking for a team to not only hold you accountable, but to motivate and inspire you towards a healthier body and lifestyle, then check out my girl Holly, who I know will lead you towards your goals and so much more!

Here are her Instagram and Facebook pages! And if you’re ready to get started here’s the direct link to join her tribe!