Valentine’s Day

So not going lie I thought it was a little odd when Scott asked if we could celebrate Valentine’s Day because we didn’t get a chance to on the 14th. Well.. uh, our first date was on the 13th our relationship wasn’t super deep on the 14th. But it was romantic and sweet and who am I to say no to an amazing date with my Scott. So I accepted and away we went.

After the front door struggle bus episode Scott made the executive decision to use the kitchen door. He knocked on the door and said our usual hellos, and after he told me I was beautiful he told me to wait right there with my eyes closed.

When I was allowed to open my eyes he was standing there with the biggest bouquet of peach roses. The prettiest arrangement I’ve ever seen. The roses were so BIG, and they were for me. It is so fun to be “woo-ed”. (Boy Meets World).

And then, because Scott always has a plan. (Which I love. ) He whisked me away to our dinner reservation. 
It was starting to rain a little bit, but that didn’t matter. I think it made it a little more romantic. Walking across the parking lot his hand in mine it felt like a scene from a movie, and like real life all at the same time. Mostly, it felt exactly how it should. One of those simple moments where the world is spinning around you but no one’s there but you. 
I think the waiter was getting a little annoyed that he had to keep interrupting our conversation to try and get us to order. We laughed  about my indecisive ordering, and sat next to each other instead of across from each other like one of those couples you want to make fun of. (One day I’ll blog about cliche phrases and situations I didn’t believe in and resented until they were happening for me.)
We’re both foodies, I love having someone to analyze food with, and someone who let’s me try their food too. (Thankfully we avoided”Joey doesn’t share food”) 
Flatbread with chicken, roasted red peppers, zuccchini, and goat cheese, and that was just to start. I had Prosciutto wrapped Pork and it was divine. He had a shrimp pasta dish with with a pomodoro/vodka sauce. We talked about our days and tried to figure out how to hold hands, continue to talk, and eat all at the same time. 
We went back to my house after dinner, stealing a kiss or two for dessert. 
When we first started talking he told me he would gladly slow dance with me in the kitchen. The kitchen is the most romantic place in the house for me. I say I love you with food, it only makes sense. I couldn’t get him off my mind that week I was in Arizona so I made a playlist on Spotify for slow dancing in the kitchen. 
We had taken our shoes off which made it that much better. I teased a little asking him when he was going to make good on his promise to dance with me. I turned on the playlist and Billy Elliot filled the kitchen and he pulled me in close. 
Neither one of us are good dancers. Awkward mostly. But we’re comfortable enough with each other it doesn’t matter. We can be silly and romantic and content together. After Billy, came some Norah Jones, and Michael Buble, and then.. My Funny Valentine came on by Chet Baker came on. If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan you know that this is the song that Chief Webber and Adele danced to at their wedding. I love it, and Mr. Daly happened to know it pretty well too. 
and so while the rain tapped gently on the window in time to the music, Scott sang into my ear and we danced and I fell even harder for those blue eyes. 
When he told me he hadn’t seen Frozen yet, I immediately put it on our bucket list of movies. I love it so much and really wanted to watch it with him. So to end our evening he brought over his laptop and hooked it up to my tv. He had bought Frozen for us to enjoy together. 
It was a perfect night, I think we both said “I could get used to this..” countless times. This is happy. 
So we say goodnight in the kitchen and I open the door to let him out and its raining, and I just couldn’t help it. I grabbed his hand and took off running, jumping in the puddles as we went. 
and then in the middle of the street I stopped running,
 and we kissed 
…. the ballerina skirt was a really, really good move. 

…and then he kissed me

Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the first date?
Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the second date?
Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the third date?
Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the fourth date?
Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the fifth date?

We were at dinner with some friends and they were asking for the run down of our relationship and to be honest a lot of the details have run into each other because we’ve spent everyday together. This is the happiest I’ve been in my entire life.  So many amazing details. Butterflies, smiles, and details.

It was pretty simple, that whole first kiss thing. I admit I was getting impatient, emotionally we were both in deep. It kinda felt like he fell out of the sky and walked into my life being all sorts of perfect, (and I never want him to walk out. ) But we still hadn’t kissed.

but we had talked. We had talked about how his favorite Disney movie was Lion King as a kid, but now it’s Beauty and the Beast. We talked about how I drink V8 like my life depends on it. We talked about the time my head got stuck in a wet suit, and the time he tried to make “Scooter” happen as a nickname. We talked about his love for the Brecker Brothers and my love of gingerbread houses.

We talked about favorite hymns, and our families, and us. Long deep conversations about US.

So I admit it, I made a move.

Being the lady that I am, I was determined not to kiss him first, but I figured giving him a hint that I trusted him enough to kiss me would be okay.

(That was quite the set up wasn’t it?)

All I did was kiss his ear while we were watching Leverage.

and then he made me wait even longer.

The show finished and we decided to say goodnight, he kissed my cheek at the top of the stairs and hugged me goodbye.

Remember how he didn’t kiss me on the fifth date?

We have a really good habit of talking after the movie, so date/day 6 he had pulled me in close while we were talking and he was staring into my eyes with those piercing baby blue eyes of his and then in the same moment we both stopped talking, and he kissed me like he meant it.

and I never knew what that felt like.

I mean I thought I did, but no one ever waited that long to kiss me. No one waited to know me like he has before they kissed me. No one made the effort to chase me, and respect me, and value me like he did.

Kisses can tell you a lot of things, kisses from someone who knows your heart can tell you even more.

Falling for a gentleman has its perks.


Jett. With two "T’s"

“So I was thinking today about what our celebrity name would be if we had one.” -S

“Oh really?” – J

“Yeah, how do you feel about Scess (Sk-ehss)?” -S

“Or sweetheart, maybe we could be Jett.” – J

“JETT! I like that. With two t’s at the end.” – J

Move over Kimye. 

It only takes one..

I love baseball & softball. It’s a game of averages.  Even when you strike out 60% of the time you’re the best player in the league.

I can still tell you how my heart beats when there’s two strikes and I’ve fouled it off 5, 6 times. There’s that moment of deciding if you’re going to swing the bat one more time.. give it one more shot.

and then you hear the calm, steady confidence of the four best words being yelled from the stands.

It only takes one.

It only takes one “Yes.” to change everything.

Only one “Yes, I can.” “Yes, I will swing for the fences.” “Yes, I will take the risk, and not look back.”

It only takes one pitch to change the game forever.

Scott and I met online, and he’s going to help me write this one.

Who knew picking each other out would be less awkward than a middle school dance? I think the lack of bad haircuts and braces helped our case.

With the whole online dating world, I would fine someone interesting and send them a message. But the message I would send every time to every single person was based on a template. It went something like this: Hey! How’s it going? {{insert appropriate question about their life here}} Have a nice day! When I came across Jess’ profile she had mentioned that she was looking for someone who would dance with her in the kitchen. I read that and said to myself, “I do that!” So this time around I decided to be a little bold and throw out my template. I asked her about her job and how she enjoyed it and threw in there that I would gladly dance with her in the kitchen.

In case you forgot about the last time I attempted to put myself out there and try online dating, here’s a refresher.

So while sifting through the men online, losing interest and questioning why I don’t eat all my feelings all the time, it was a complete game changer to open a message from a cute boy with the red converse shoes.

“And I like to consider myself a spontaneous guy and will gladly dance with you in the kitchen haha.”  

Wait, he has a plan, an education, knew how to get my attention in four sentences and make me smile. 
I’m sorry HOTFREDY, (one of my many options), next time you and your broken English and I can run off into the online oasis that is LDS Planet. 
So, this time around I wasn’t anywhere near as public about it. I was very much aware of how much time work takes, and as much as I love it, what would my success be if I didn’t have anyone to share it with me. 
So I enlisted the help of my girl Brissa, because she could be emotionally invested and objective at the same time. So we freaked out that someone normal wanted to talk to me, so we stalked like crazy. 
Which, if you’re reading this and you need someone to be excited for you, but you’re too nervous to tell your sister, your mom, your best friend. Call/Text/Email/FB/Tweet me. 
but seriously. I’ll be your cheerleader. This whole vulnerability project is a beast. 
but, then again vulnerability seemed well worth it. Strong jawline, soft blue eyes kinda worth it. 
and then we dug a little deeper.. 
“I love dessert”
….wait. He loves dessert? I make dessert! I make dessert everyday, and do it well! We would have something to talk about! 
and then.. 
I saw those bright red shoes. 
and I knew that he could still have a plan, and work hard, and be serious.. 
but that he could also be silly with me. 
and so with a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach I wrote him back. 
When I first came across Jess’ profile, the first thing that was beaming at me was her smiling face and gorgeous hair:
Naturally, I wanted to continue to search through her pictures. Now I’m a sucker for freckles, and I came across this:
After reading her greeting on her profile over and over again (even though I knew the first time I read it I knew we would get along great) I knew I wanted to give her all I got.
and so we wrote back and forth for a few days. (a whopping 3) And then Mr. Daly made the move to give me his number.  Tossing out there that we should spend some time cooking together… (*I googled where your area code was, because you hadn’t told me you grew up.* – Scott)
Trusting that he was genuine, I returned the move. 
It was Sunday night and we were both watching the Olympics, I remember feeling so comfortable just TEXTING, that I started to get nervous that it was so comfortable. 
“Wait, how long was it before you called me?” – Jess
“I think it was Monday, I wasn’t going to wait that long.” – Scott
but gentlemen do not ask ladies for dates via text. 
and then Scott proved he was serious when my phone rang and “his manly, sultry, serious voice was on the other end.” (apparently I shouldn’t hesitate to finish my sentences.) 
…it only takes one, right?

Daly News and other February Smiles.

(* As written to my dear best friend Sis. Jordan Parkin serving in the Baltimore, Maryland mission.)
Okay, so there’s a boy. A boy named Scott Daly who seems to think I’m pretty great. And I think he’s pretty sweet too. This whole online dating thing makes me feel more vulnerable than I have in awhile and I’m slowing warming up to it. 
It started with an email saying he’d love to get to know me and that he would gladly dance with me in the kitchen. So we wrote back and forth for a few days, and then he took a risk and sent me his number, so I gave him mine and we talked some more. 
And then he called me on the phone to see if he could take me to dinner. (Who knew that still happened?) So I said yes. I mean maybe he won’t propose, and maybe he won’t be a serial killer. 
Turns out he’s pretty amazing in real life too. He was supposed to pick me up at 6 on Thursday Feb. 13th. I was already exhausted with Valentines Day and work and I wanted to cancel on him, because it was either have a nap before going into work or staying awake for 3 days. 
Which CMON, we don’t know if he’s worth skipping a nap, putting on pants, and doing my hair for. But everytime I would go to cancel he’d text me and make me laugh and make break my super serious work mode Jess and smile. So there I was like a third grader smiling to myself all the time so I decided not to cancel. (We are SO happy we didn’t cancel.)
I left work late, and I didn’t have time to do laundry so I stopped at j crew on the way home. (We know this fixes everything) 
I was having a killer hair day, so that was positive, and there he was on my doorstep at 6:00 on the dot. I try and open the front door and I guess a screw had fallen out of the handle. I don’t use that door a whole lot, and I freaking pull the handle clean off. So there he is on the other side of the door all sorts of charming and respectful and then there I was on the struggle bus trying to reassemble the handle and actually get the door open. (This was the most awkward part, and for that I’m grateful.) He smelled really nice and walked me to the car and opened the door. 
We went to Five Guys and talked for an hour and a half straight. And then he took me to the MOA to see the Sacred Gifts exhibit. Which we spent two hours talking about the artists and all these beautiful paintings of Christ, there was a really sweet spirit all night. 
He took me home and we hugged goodnight, he texted me the next morning and we haven’t stopped talking since. I flew out at 6am on Saturday to spend my birthday with the fam and open a new store in AZ. I think it was really good timing to let the date simmer for a week. 
JT is flying to the Philippines on Monday and that’s pretty hard right now, trying to have more trust in my faith. If that makes sense. I have the faith that God will protect him and keep him safe, I’m just trying to remember to trust that. We were able to spend some time together this week which was really special. Saying goodbye this time was harder than last, but there are people who need him.
Scott is doing a really good job of distracting and we’re making dinner together and going to have a movie marathon tonight. But it’s planned, and not just a meh lets just hang out type of thing. He’s going to the grocery store to buy ingredients and then we’ll cook together, which I think is adorable. 
Ps. Did I mention he’s a computer engineer? And he’s in love with my gingerbread houses… And he could build me a device to make my carousel spin. 
We love that. 

We interrupt your regular programing…

to blog something!

So Christmas was the best. For the first time in five years I took a week off at Christmas. I’m pretty sure I slept for three days straight. What more do you want for Christmas? All of the family was together, and there was such a sweet spirit in our home. So much love. Chaos, but so much love. and naps. Did I mention naps?

Lets just call it how it is. I’m buying myself a boppy pillow for my birthday. Best sleeping pillow ever. 

So since I don’t have a husband I got to bunk up with Nash & Gray, which I didn’t mind one bit. In the middle of the night Gray Baby started moving and shaking, so I said nah nah nah. Scooped him in right close and snuggled all 35+ pounds of him. Is he not the sweetest? 

So much right in the world. 

Momsie got us the best shirts this year. JT is the best, he’s so tough and we were silly just like old times. Doesn’t matter how many hard things our family survived this year, we still laugh at the same jokes and smile just as big. The only thing that’s different are our hugs are tighter, and our words kinder. 

My sweet family surprised me on Christmas morning with a children’s story book for MY children about how their Mom became a pastry chef. It’s full of pictures and stories of dedication, hard work and bliss. I think in that moment I realized how far I’ve come and how much I’ve accomplished.

Wearing the exhaustion of not sleeping for six weeks, unwashed hair, an oversized sweatshirt, and the tears of knowing it was/is completely worth it. 
Because on the last page of that book it proudly says that I was promoted to the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef of the entire company. (29+ stores.) 
Every heartache and minute of homesick was worth it, learning how to provide for myself was worth it, stretching my body and mind past limits I thought I had, was worth it. I think I always knew it would be, but for the people I love the most knew it was worth it too. They are proud, and so am I. 
So fast forward to January where I started my promotion. This year has already been a whirlwind, but I love it. I can’t believe how much I’m learning and how much I’m using my education, and just how many people depend on me. In January Kneaders launched a line of mini-bundt cakes. 
and guess who developed those recipes?
Every store I go into I check on my “babies”. I can’t believe that something I created is now being produced for the masses. This ad makes me tear up, I mean, how is this my life? I’m only 22 (23 on Saturday!) and things are so beautiful. I am so happy with these, with my job, with my life. Dreaming big has never been so fun! 
Oh, and I forgot to mention. My “babies” were on Studio 5 with Brooke Walker. I can’t wait for you all to try them. Some of my best work. 
and the best part is I get to wake up tomorrow and do it all again. 

Hogwarts Gingerbread House Part III

The Gingerbread Joy Project is really hard for me to put into words.

My Grandma McGuire was the kind of woman I hope to be. I’m grateful to have some of her genes. After my Grandpa Lucky passed away, she continued to LIVE. She spoke at a Stake Relief Society meeting days after he passed away. She served a mission for the church, she traveled the world. She was awful at singing just like me, but that didn’t stop her from belting every single note with gusto. She road on the back of an elephant when she took a trip with her two best friends to Bali. She hand painted a christmas ornament for each grandchild every year, and even in a huge chaotic family she made you the most important person in the world. She chased her dreams fiercely and refused to let anything get her down. I was so blessed to get to drive her to Sedona for chemo therapy appointments during her fight with cancer. Although it was a painful situation, she never let on. During that time she fueled my fearless fire. We talked about becoming a pastry chef, traveling the world, her secret to german chocolate filling, pecan pie, and religion. She used to come pick me up everyday before school at 5am and we would go swim laps together. Exercise always ended with a cup of cocoa and a big hug. Courage and confidence every chubby middle schooler needs. That is what I want to be able to give back. I hope to build confidence and fearlessness in chasing your dreams by the way I live my life. I want that intoxicating fire to spread. Joy will follow, this I know.

She was famous for building a gingerbread sleigh with reindeer every year. When I was a little girl I made my first house with her. I have been looking for the picture for four years. I also was looking for a candid shot of us on Christmas Eve the year before she passed away. For Christmas this year my family wrote the story of how I became a pastry chef for my future children. Both pictures were in the book. Tears. Tears of joy, exhaustion, missing, and gratitude.

My Uncle James made the comment after I announced that I had been promoted to Corporate Executive Pastry Chef, that she would be so proud of me.  
and I know he’s right, and I know that Hogwarts honored everything she is and everything she emulated. So without further ado, I give you Hogwarts. Built by me, captured by the insanely brilliant Lauren Michelle

Kneaders donated enough gingerbread men cookies so every patient, Dr, nurse, janitor etc. Could have one. I love it. 

stay tuned for next year… I’ve already started sketching. 
Follow @gingerbreadjoyproject on Instagram or Jessica Nan on Facebook. 

Hogwarts Gingerbread House Part II

I was so flattered to be asked to display Hogwarts at the brand new store. I was so grateful for Little Intern and her enthusiasm to see this through the delivery stages. I had nothing left to give to get it set up. I am so grateful for the pictures and videos of that day. This was a big deal, and it was an out of body experience getting it delivered. I’m so grateful to relive everyone’s reactions with a little more sleep in my system. This turned out so much better than I expected. and gave myself credit for that first day. #gingerbreadinsecurity

I turned the guest bedroom into the gingerbread room to protect my work,  was so incredibly useful! I love this house. 

When I move a house, literally everything is moved out of the way. We visualize the path, rehearse it at least 2x and then take a really big breath. 

It really was ideal timing to have an ice/snow storm during this week. No pressure 🙂 

We put the entire thing in the back of the car level before setting it down. 

Halfway exhaling… 

First hard part is over! 
Have you ever seen such a beautiful mess?! Oh how I love it. We were everything in, at this point. 

This is my “analyzing the placement of the house face” …. tad intense

Set up, lit up. Hooray! 
Hard Part #2 finished. 
Moving these is always the scariest part, but I’m convinced my royal icing is stronger than gorilla glue. Bring on the challenge! 
Okay, okay. Part 3 will have hospital pictures! 

Imperfectly Perfect: Gingerbread Hogwarts Part 1

It was gorgeous. There was no denying it. Hogwarts was beautiful.

I once started to read a book about a girl who had the ability to taste the emotion in everything she ate. The joy, the happiness, and also the bad feelings. A lemon bar made to start the healing after losing a lost one. I read two chapters and it made too much sense. Food is how I tell my story, and I didn’t want someone to taste the homesick and sadness of my heart and my hands. I want people to take it in and feel the two moments. First the Christmas magic moment of elation at 2 in the morning where I realize that what my hands have created is beautiful, and second that because of what I’ve given someone will find a hope deep inside of them to carry on, to find courage, to know that someone believes in their dreams. Big or small. Tall order.

I started in June. I sketched out Hogwarts in June. I knew the holidays were going to come at me like a train. I started so early so I could give myself time to do this project justice. My Grandmother was an amazing painter and artist. Paint was her medium, food is mine.

6 months. 6 months I gave myself, and then the train came and I ran as fast as I could, as hard as I could, for as long as I could. I invoked the First Tier plan in October. (I categorize my people into tiers so I don’t feel guilty if I can’t respond during the busy time.)

and then The Typhoon happened and I was hurting. Work was picking up and I was a zombie. So disconnected. I tried catch the magic, why couldn’t I find it? Gingerbread has always been my healing. Nothing makes me happier and fights off the bad, scary, sad, hurt etc. This was so different.. I put on my Christmas apron, turned on my gingerbread song and mixed the dough.

and then it sat in the fridge. The project that tied me to my family was put on hold. I needed to feel like we were stable in spite of this. And so I told myself to just keep moving forward. Even if it was slow. I still had time.. keep rolling until the magic found my heart. We were all safe, where was the magic? After JT was evacuated I showed him my blow torch via skype and we laughed ourselves silly.  I wanted this house for him.

But the time was running out. and then my boss asked if I would be willing to display the house in the brand new store, and then the Children’s Hospital. THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. Thought that my work was good enough for them. So many people believed in me, and I was second guessing myself. I had never patterned a house so large. Never done so much brickwork, I was so humbled and shocked that so many people thought that this was impressive, worth displaying. I knew that Black Friday was going to be one of my big building days. and then.. my hands swelled up and the joints locked. and I sat on my bed and cried. Why were there so many things working against me? Head, hands, time.

and then the *depression* (is that even the right word here?) wasn’t going to keep my hands from moving. Long soaks in lavender, naps, and several really well timed burritos. This was getting done if it killed me. And if you ask Jordan: Chief of Emotionally Stability on the Gingerbread Counsel she’ll probably tell you it almost did. I found out JT was coming home early, and because of our Nutcracker Ballerina. My parents could only come if we delivered the house the first weekend in December.

Thursday morning at 7:30am the clouds parted and my boss sent reinforcements to the store I was helping so I could leave and finish the house. (reason #235734985734 why I love my job. They care about me.) I bought a dozen donuts and knew that I had 80% to finish.

Why I don’t understand that I thrive in the super stressful back against the wall situations is over my head. Maybe I’ll remember that next time. Stevie Wonder & Otis Redding found my soul and I knew that Hogwarts was going to appear to be on display Friday morning.

I gave it everything I had. Past the point of exhaustion, past the point of Wonder Woman exhaustion, Martha Stewart exhaustion. You get the point. Jordan and Madi went and bought all of the V8. When I say all. I mean all. Nothing left on the shelf.  And then I drank 9 gallons in 4 hours. Because it’s a lot harder to be nauseous when you’re supah hydrated.

Somewhere around 2am I had a foot stomping stand off with Jordan. She made me drink weird green juice. I stomped my foot like a three year old. twice. I lost. I drank it. I didn’t like it.

The next morning little intern came upstairs to leave for work. I promptly ran away from her and slammed the door. She texted me to cheer me on and kinda feel out the waters to see if she did something wrong.

“you’re not in trouble, I’m not wearing pants anymore, it’s not done yet.”

“well I’m here for you, but you should put on pants, but let me know what I can do to help!”

26 hours later it was time to transport to the first location.

I walked out of the gingerbread room and sat on my bed and the tears fell. I think it was a culmination of exhaustion, JT being home in America, and every ounce of creative my body holds was on a four foot board. Was it enough time? Would they like it? Do I like it?

There wasn’t even time to cry, we moved all the furniture and I gave little intern the rundown on how we were going to move this to the back of my car. No pressure. Thankfully she listened perfectly and we made it safely.

I don’t think I have ever been so tired. Everyone loved it, we lit up the stained glass and I felt it. I knew that the mistakes that I would remember, no one would even notice.

Sometime that afternoon we made it home from work. My parents were on the road with JT and my house was a really scary place.  Jordan, Little Intern and I started to dig out, feeling sick I showered really fast to try and wake myself up a little bit.

and then that spunky 5’3″-ish girl put her foot down again. Put me down in a freshly made bed and led the charge to get the house clean before my parents got there.

and then she woke me up to a spotless house, down to perfectly arranged logs in the fire like I would do, and my parents being minutes away.

and I was humbled again. Christmas Angel.

and I ate gumdrops on my bed with my JT and talked about football. The house was done, he was safe, house was clean, my parents were here, my boss loved the house. It was imperfectly perfect, and everything I wanted.

*** I say imperfectly perfect, because there were things I wish I could have changed, and this year I will be better because of what I’ve learned. The Gingerbread Joy Project is about family, my family.  Hogwarts represents our family this year. Safe, beautiful over the top with a few imperfections that no one would notice unless I told you so. but they’re everything I’ve ever wanted. ***

and next I will show you all the pictures of this beautiful house and the tender moments of the hospital and the Joy in the Gingerbread Joy Project.



I know what happened the past two months, but not really. We’ve been running on the feet glued to a high speed bus speed, for several long and gratifying months. Piemageddon happened, and then we launched into Christmas, my intern came, somehow this years gingerbread house came together for the hospital, my little brother came home, finished R&D on the bundt cakes, and somehow made it home in time to decorate the tree for Christmas Eve.

I got home and slept for two days. Best Christmas present ever, and I’m lucky enough to spend a week at home. (First time in FIVE YEARS!) 🙂 So for the next few days I’m going to soak up every last moment with the people I’m lucky enough to call mine, and then we will get back to documenting this crazy thing called life.

Merry Christmas!


Jessica Nan