Thursday, October 29, 2015

Kitchen Remodel: A love affair with Gel Stain.

I blame it on the Home Depot commercials, Pinterest, and an excellent tutorial from my friend Amy. Sometimes being fearless has some perks, we decided to stain all the kitchen cabinets. Our cabinets were the contractor grade oak, and the kitchen was just an orange explosion. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house, and orange just isn't in my color wheel. I followed this tutorial and got to work. Do NOT substitute the gel stain. With San Antonio being a big city there is a Woodcraft store pretty close to us. I know you can get it on Amazon as well. I wanted more of a custom color than they had. The Java color is a gorgeous brown, but I wanted a little red in there as well. I made a custom mix of a quart of Georgian Cherry to 1/2 pint of Java. The Georgian Cherry is pretty bold and I wanted to make it a little darker and rich. I started in the guest bathroom, that way if I ruined it we could just close the door. (sorry guests!) One of the best perks of the gel stain is minimal sanding and you can use it over the plastic-y laminate siding on the sides.

The biggest drawback was the humidity in San Antonio. Each door had to be stained on each side 2-3x and I had to wait 24hrs for it to be completely dry. Since summers here are pretty hot I cleared out the kitchen and made it my workshop. Complete with A/C and awesome fans.

After the guest bathroom turned out so good, we decided to go for it. We literally stained every last piece of wood in our house.

I love it!! It turned out better than I could have hoped. I also remade a table and chairs we found on craigslist. The backsplash was the easiest part. I used 1,2,3 Primer to prep the orange tile backsplash and then I painted it with Behr Premium Ultra paint in Polar Bear. It was so fast! 30min project.

First coat panic... 


Guest Bathroom Finished! 

Priming the backsplash

You would never guess this was laminate wood. 

Before and After on the Kitchen Table and Chairs

Kitchen Before and After 

Once again, my absolute favorite room in the house. It was a huge project, but I'm glad we went for it. It's exactly what we wanted, there is something so gratifying about making your house a home with your own two hands. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Great Big Anniversary Trip

I realize it's almost Halloween and as much as I've been trying to keep this blog up I guess Instagram will just have to fill in the gaps. Thank goodness for chat books! 

One day I'll start my blog differently than its been a crazy couple of months! This is not that blog. 

After Girls Camp we had planned an amazing anniversary trip. A massive western road trip filled with all of our favorite people. That's my kind of vacation, seeing family and eating good food. My dear best friend Jordan was coming home from her mission the week before my family's Lake Powell trip so we decided to drive to Utah to be there for her homecoming, swing through St. George to see the Dalys and round it out with the Lake! 

The first day we drove to New Mexico. Our saving grace was the book BOMB on tape. We both love historical books and this one was really fun to listen to. Plus we felt pretty cultured discussing how "we had just read a book about the nuclear arms race." Win-win. 

The second day we drove up to Ogden, my Pizza and Naps girlfriends put on a little BBQ (thanks for hosting Christensens!) for all of us to get together. We got to meet Madi's fiancĂ© Jonah and get caught up. Texas is too far away sometimes. I talk to these girls everyday. Seeing them in person was magical. 

We were missing our Kayla in San Francisco, that's why we were saving a spot. :) 

Wednesday we spent celebrating us just a little bit. We stayed with Uncle Chuck and Aunt Carrie, which is a slice of heaven in itself. We slept in (20hrs in the car is no joke.) we had breakfast at Kneaders and headed to the Mt. Timpanogos temple to do a session. Somehow the timing worked out and we were there the exact same time we had been married. Mt. Timp will always be my temple. We sat on the same couch in the celestial room as we did right before we went to be sealed. When the lady came to get us on our wedding day I squeezed Scott's hand and he asked me if I was ready. We talked about our first year of adventures and talked about what we hoped our second year of adventures will be. When it was time to leave again there was the same hand squeeze and we left hand in hand ready to face what the new year will bring. Oh how I love the peace the temple gives us. 

Here's to year number two with this amazing guy! 

Please come to Texas! We'll keep you in business! 

After the temple we ran a few errands and ate a lot of cafe rio before heading to Ogden to catch up with Corinne and Ben and their boys. We had a lovely evening talking about Disneyland and exchanging tips, and listening to Garrett on his violin. 

We haven't seen these guys since Christmas, it was great to see their new house in Ogden. 

Thursday we met Sister Parkin in the airport!! Oh I love this girl. I met Scott maybe two weeks after she left. It was a little surreal to introduce my husband of a year to her, but oh I am so glad that I got to be there! She was just glowing, she was such an incredible missionary and I'm so glad she's home! Now I can talk to her whenever I want.

After the airport we stopped to help JT move some of his things to Uncle Chuck and Aunt Carrie's. It's always good to see him. Even if he was headed to go skydiving that afternoon. Ninkle Head. 

Then we headed down to St. George to see Mom and Dad Daly. I was so pleased with how this whole trip worked out. It was so nice to have some unrushed time with all the Dalys! Secretly I wish that we all lived in the same culdesac and got to hangout all the time. This weekend felt like that. We went to the temple together, to a work BBQ, to a fantastic production of West Side Story. It was a theater in the round and extremely well done. We were snapping our fingers well after we left. Both Scott and I have a lot of family history in the St. George temple, but this was my first time doing a session there. Gayle and I split from the boys to get dressed and we knew we were cutting it close so we were hustling. The St. George temple has a lot of stairs and it's pretty easy to get lost. Gayle and I made it to the session at the last minute, but after we sat down we were looking around and we couldn't see Fred & Scott! Slightly awkward to have to excuse ourselves, the boys were waiting for us in the chapel, we walked right by them on the way to the session. Totally crazy. Just gave us some more time to sit quietly in the temple which we didn't mind. After the session we toured some of the sealing rooms. I called my Mom after to see which room my parents were married in. Turns out it was the first sealing room Fred & Gayle showed us. It was a sweet connection for me.  My favorite part of the weekend I have to say was learning how to play hand and foot. I guess this is a legendary Daly Family card game and it was the first time they taught me how to play. I wish we had recorded Grandma & Grandpa Daly teasing everyone. I was a little nervous, but Scott and Grandma Delna and I ended up doing pretty good. It felt like that scene in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days when they're all playing cards. So fun to get to know everyone better. We went to Church on Sunday and everyone came over for Sunday dinner. Gayle made an awesome roast. We showed Grandma & Grandpa our wedding videos and the montage Scott made of our first year of marriage. We had such a fun time with everyone! 

At the St. George Temple

Playing Hand & Foot 

Watching West Side Story

JT came down to St. George to stay the night with us so we could caravan to the Lake the next morning. He was on his mission when we got married so it was fun to introduce him to Fred & Gayle. When he casually asked for the wifi password we all started laughing. Scott has developed a bit of a reputation for complicated passwords. He has a program generate complicated passwords for us so we stay safe. I know where he gets it from. Fred worked at the Navy Shipyard his entire career, and they have a very strict password policy. It's hilarious and very impressive at the same time the crazy passwords he comes up with. I realize this is kinda a silly story, but I love seeing where my cute husband gets some of his little quirks. 

Monday morning we headed to Page to meet my parents to load the houseboat.  Marrying Scott really gave me like a Blazillion functional adult points. I do 2am and 3am really well, but being somewhere ready at 10am is tricky for me. Scott managed to have us to the houseboat early and we already had our stuff loaded before my parents got there. Which launch day is usually stressful so we were winning major points. It was the first houseboat trip that nothing major went wrong. Unprecedented! We got loaded up, launched the boats, parked the boats and had a fantastic time! Scott got up on a wakeboard, my mom brought our wedding cake to eat for our anniversary, we had a lot of naps, a lot of games, swimming, wakeboarding, tubing, eating, and Scott & I even surprised everyone with our new found skill of playing nose flutes. (Thanks for those Gayle!) Dad bought a drone with Uncle James this year. Dad, JT, and Scott had a fantastic time with it. 

Scott made a montage of the Lake! We all fell in love with these drone shots, we spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to justify investing in one. It was way too fun. Thanks for a great week McGuires! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Jessica Daly, Corporate Executive Pastry Chef of Kneaders Bakery & Cafe.

I think I've waited to write this post for nine months for a reason. Leaving Kneaders was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Kneaders was my Utah  family, and my life for several years. It is one of my greatest achievements in life being the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef. It challenged me, it rewarded me, it made me a better chef and a better person. Kneaders took incredibly good care of me and appreciated me and my talents. Being loved and cared for like that made working 100hrs a week during the holidays worthwhile. It made working hard everyday a priority.  I learned how to be a better teacher, I learned how to care more for my chefs. It was a complete blast! I miss it in so many ways. Thanksgiving without making 3,000 pies in three days seems too relaxed. I had my finishing time for a Banana Cream Pie down to 41seconds when I was at my peak during the holidays. 

Specialty Dessert Platters during Christmas. You have to love a certain type of crazy to survive in the kitchen during the holidays. It's a total rush. 
Orders for Valentine's day, you should see Thanksgiving! :) 

This job was a complete dream. I oversaw all the pastry departments, ran store openings, developed recipes, edit recipes, certified pastry chefs, created organization requirements and layouts  for the kitchens, organized holiday prep schedules, taught classes to customers, taught chefs how to run a kitchen, inspections, working in the stores directly making pastry, and washing dishes. No one is above washing dishes. I've seen the founders, the CFO, CEO, CEO of Four Foods Group and every member of the Corporate team come over and wash dishes to help when it's busy. Kneaders is the best team to work for. 

 I worked directly for Colleen, she and her wonderful husband Gary founded Kneaders. She is smart, fierce, capable, and one of the hardest working women I know.  I love her like my Grandmother. She believed in me and pulled some of my greatest recipes out of me. Research & Development is very important, and we did countless taste tests to get each recipe perfect. It was awesome. She asked me to create a line of mini bundt cakes. She wanted one for each quarter and I started with a list of close to 60 possibilities. She is a perfectionist and so am I,  I  made 15 variations of a lemon bundt before we decided on Lemon Ginger. Once we locked in on Lemon Ginger the tweaking of the recipe begins. Testing shelf life, does it need one glaze or two, how does it hold up in the freezer? What about the batter? Do we carry the ingredients already? etc. It taught me to be incredibly thorough. I love that Lemon Ginger cake. It's a perfect January cake. Did you know we went through seven mini-bundt pans before finding a perfect fit? Writing this puts a smile on my face. I love details, and the science behind perfect pastry just really gets my chef nerd going. We all need to be passionate about something.  

 On one of my biggest business trips I was flying with Colleen by myself, and I needed to ask for time off so I could fly home to receive my endowment. It was the beginning of the holiday season and she said yes without thinking twice. Which is a huge deal because holidays as a Pastry Chef are maybe a random Tuesday in March after the real holidays settle down.  Not only did she say yes, she could tell I was a little nervous about this upcoming life change and then told me about how she had served in the temple as the Sister who helps girls going through for the first time. Knowing her incredible workload, knowing that she found time to also serve in the temple was an incredible example to me.  The things she said to me in that airport terminal gave me so much peace. She was so supportive of me getting married and worked with me after we moved to Texas so I could keep working. 

Leaving was incredibly bittersweet. My job was a dream come true for me in so many ways, but it was much harder to keep track of nearly 30 stores in four states and attend openings and provide the support to my chefs and my boss from 2,000 miles away. Part of it was I love Kneaders so much, they deserved a CEPC that could be there at the drop of the hat and be in Utah, and part of it was both Scott and I felt prompted that it was time to build our marriage and build our home here in TX. We are lucky enough that his job allows for that. 

I will always love my time and adventures with Kneaders, and I know that part of me will always miss the rush of being the first one to turn the ovens on in the morning. It was an incredible ride. I promised my mom that we can write a second volume of my story as a pastry chef, so maybe a few CEPC stories will find their way onto this blog too. 

One of my favorite parts of my job was developing recipes and seeing my babies on billboards and advertisements. Pastry is a beautiful art. Here's some of my highlight reel. 

Haupia Tarts for the Aloha Summer Promotion

Pineapple Hand Pies  for the Aloha Summer Promotion 

Lemon Ginger Mini-Bundt Cakes

Hummingbird Mini-Bundt Cakes

Triple Chocolate Pudding Mini-Bundt Cakes

Red Velvet Mini-Bundt Cakes 

One of the craziest things I've ever done was do a cooking demonstration for San Antonio Live about six weeks after moving to TX. 

One of my very first corporate responsibilities was to write the curriculum  and teach a cupcake class for customers. I taught all over Utah and in Idaho. 

My very first store opening, Gilbert, AZ. 

First Store Opening, Gilbert, AZ (Corporate Team)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies and German Chocolate Brownies. German Chocolate is the very first recipe I ever developed for Kneaders. 

Halloween Treats for JT at the MTC

Some of the pies for Thanksgiving. 

Bundts I made for Studio 5 on KSL

Print Ads in the stores and on fliers. 

First Flier I ever did!

Recruiting Interns at NAU and JWU(my alma mater)

Kneaders was pretty amazing and Colleen backed my Gingerbread House Idea so fast. Each of my Gingerbread Houses as well as gingerbread men cookies for every single patient were donated to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. We continued this tradition at San Antonio Children's Hospital last year. 

My First Billboard! 

On my very last day, in my very favorite chef coat. Grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of something so incredible.