about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



Celebrating Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!!  My favorite thing about Earth Day is that a new Disneynature documentary comes out every year on this day.  This year it is all about monkeys, and I can’t wait to see it.  But if you haven’t seen African Cats – OMG – add it to your queue and get the tissues.  One of the best documentaries ever!

We try to be as “green” as we can all year long, but I am finding that it gets harder and there are more challenges now with young kids.  A few years ago, I shared our system for eliminating paper towels from our life.  I am happy to report that we still use this system, and we have been paper towel-free for close to four years now!

This year, I thought I’d share some of our thoughts on how we’re living a bit “greener” with kids.  And as part of that, I’m also happy to share that this year I’ve been chosen to be part of the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Circle!  We’ve been using Tom’s of Maine products in our home for years, so I’m excited to partner with a brand that I respect and support.  

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This year, Tom’s of Maine is celebrating Earth Month through the message “Start young.  Live green.”  I really feel like this is a message that rings true in our household.  As the boys grow and continue to learn and understand more and more, we are trying to teach them about concepts like reducing waste, recycling, composting, donating, and the concept of health in general. 

As far as eliminating waste and reducing junk goes, we try to be relatively minimalist from the start.  I know everyone has a different definition of what that term means to them, so take it with a grain of salt.  I have been to houses where it looks like a toy store vomited in every room, and I’ve been to other houses where kids have very few toys (by choice).  Every family has to find the right balance that keeps the kids and the parents sane (and the budget in line).  And it is SO easy to accumulate tons of STUFF, especially once you add more kids into the mix (must have two of everything!). 

In our house, the strategy is pretty simple – all toys must fit into or on top of this console table in the playroom…

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The fleet of trucks and cars hangs out on top, and the baskets are filled with things like blocks, musical instruments, train tracks, stacking cups, and more.  Whenever we get something new – I make a space for it.  This means either packing away toys that that kids have grown out of, or choosing some things that aren’t played with as much to donate or recycle (depending on the condition). 

Other than the main console of toys, we have the play kitchen – which is still a pretty big hit with both kids. 

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And we also have the fleet of garbage trucks that is too big for any basket or table.  These are played with on a daily basis!

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But outside of the playroom, the boys don’t have toys in their rooms or really anywhere else in the house.  I think they have plenty, but I also don’t think it’s anything too crazy.  Of course we have things like art supplies, books, and puzzles – but I don’t think you can ever have too many of those.  A big part of how we’ve avoided the massive toy explosion is to constantly comb through what we have.  I find that too many toys can actually be really overwhelming, and things get lost and broken when there is too much.  So every few months, I go through the baskets and bins, and I sort and organize what to keep and what can go. 

The gently used toys that are still in decent shape are put in the donation pile – and I see this as a great opportunity to get Cullen (and eventually Graham) involved in giving back.  But I’m definitely guilty of tossing the broken toys and things with missing pieces straight into the garbage.  This year, in order to reduce the number of toys ending up in landfills, Tom’s of Maine partnered with Terracycle to make these awesome toy recycling boxes!

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You can fill the boxes with any of the items listed below, and there is a pre-paid shipping label attached to send it back.  Pretty incredible!

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I went through the toy boxes in our house and came up with a good sized pile of things we never use, or things that were missing pieces.  I got Cullen involved, and of course his first reaction was to tell me that those were all his favorite things and he loved them and needed to keep them.  But once I showed him how he could climb up and help me put them in this giant box, he was much more inclined to help out.  Plus, the kid is obsessed with garbage and recycling, so this was right up his alley.

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He had a lot of fun with it, especially once I explained that the old toys and things would be recycled and turned into things like park benches, playground structures, and other cool things he could visualize. Do you think they would let me donate his Mariners t-shirt?  Because he never. takes. it. off. 

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And I was a happy camper when I went back inside and saw all the old junk no one was playing with out of the toy boxes.  Happiness!!

I love the “Start young. Live green” message that Tom’s of Maine is spreading this year.  Now more than ever – with young kids depending on us to make the healthiest choices for them – I find myself constantly scouring labels, looking at EWG lists and recommendations, and always looking for what feels like the best products for my kids.

Somewhere around Cullen’s second birthday we finally started brushing his teeth with toothpaste (we’d used water up until then).  I remember feeling all panicky and worried about making the wrong choice, as there was a lot of mixed information on things like flouride, dyes and flavorings, etc.  I ended up settling on Tom’s of Maine natural children’s toothpaste, and we’ve been using it now for almost two years.  (It scores a 2 on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics List – with 0 being the best and 10 being the worst!) 

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As we continue to develop and encourage good dental hygiene in the family, there is a whole line of children’s dental products we can use for different ages.  Cullen loves having his own toothpaste, and knows that his has the cool strawberries!

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I didn’t know about the Tom’s toddler training toothpaste back when Cullen was a toddler, but we just started using it for Graham.  I’m excited to have a new option for him, since he is so desperate to do exactly what big brother does – including using toothpaste.

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And of course, there are a million different dental product options for mom and dad too.  Casey and I have been using these for years – they even sell them at Trader Joe’s!

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Something new that I’m excited to try out is the brand new line of kids and baby bath products.  Bath time is a big deal in our house, and we are headed into summer when baths become a nightly necessity (so much sand, sweat, and sunscreen!).  There are a lot of products that claim to be “natural” and “green” and I feel like those terms have been hijacked by marketers in the last few years.  But these products are the real deal, and I will happily suds up my kids with ingredients I like and a brand that I trust.  I also appreciate that they offer fragrance-free options, which is always my preference. 

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So that’s my spotlight on Tom’s of Maine for this Earth Day – from toys to toothpaste!  We are certainly not perfect – far from it – but I like to think that little changes and choices add up over time, and the more I teach my kids about it now, the bigger impact they will have over many, many Earth Days and every-days to come. 

How is your household getting “greener” this year?  Do you do anything special to celebrate Earth Day with your family?

I received the Tom’s of Maine products as part of my Goodness Circle 2015 partnership.  As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.  Thanks for your continued support of me, and of Daily Garnish!



Going Back To Cali.

Just as soon as I finally sat down and told you all about our California mini-vacation, I found myself squeezed into a middle seat and headed back down south to Orange County this past weekend. 

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A week or so ago – the Saturday before Easter – I was on my way to Greenlake to meet a friend for a run, when my mom called and told me that my uncle had passed away suddenly that morning.  It was unexpected and obviously very sad and shocking. 

And despite the fact that I had never left both kids before and that everything was super last minute, I just knew that I really really wanted to be there.  So I booked my ticket, packed a bag, and said a million thank you’s to Casey for handling everything back home so that I could take off just a few days later.

In three and a half years, I have left Cullen for two short weekends away, and I have never left Graham longer than a few hours.  So I found myself sort of dazed and confused when I suddenly only needed to care for myself.

Funny how when I travel with the boys I have a million things to manage and remember, and yet we’ve never had a major travel snafu or fail.  And yet, when traveling alone and with only a small carry-on, I almost totally blew it within the first few minutes.  Casey dropped me off at the airport and I was so wrapped up in saying goodbyes and giving hugs that I trotted straight into the airport WITHOUT MY LUGGAGE.

It took about thirty seconds for me to realize it, and at that point I went flying back out onto the sidewalk screaming and waving my arms everywhere, just as Casey was pulling away.  Thankfully, he saw me and I ran over to the car, dropped a bunch of F-bombs, and then slammed the door and ran back into the airport.  Goodbye, indeed!

In a matter of a few hours I read an entire book for the first time in I don’t even know how long.  Side note – this book is hilarious, and a definite must-read for anyone who lives in Seattle (where it is set). 

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It was my dad’s older brother who passed away, and almost the entire family was there.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, spouses, family dogs – it was so amazing to see everyone.  Other than a few people, I hadn’t seen most of these relatives since my grandparents’ memorial two years ago in Hilton Head.  Obviously I wish the occasion had been different, but I know Bob would have loved to have seen us all gathered together in celebration of his life.

We had family events and services pretty much all day on Friday, but with a few extra hours free in the morning, my cousins Sarah and Matt and I took advantage and headed to Laguna Beach to stare at the ocean. 

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The California beaches are seriously so gorgeous.  And there is something so peaceful and meditative about looking out at the water – the perfect way to spend the morning of the memorial. 

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The rest of Friday was spent remembering, reflecting, and then celebrating (because life should be celebrated!) back at my aunt and uncle’s house.  Obviously I am glossing over the private and difficult parts, as they weren’t photo appropriate and I can’t really do any of it justice with words.  But it was a wonderful day of closeness and closure, and I was so so happy I had made the journey down to be there.

On Saturday morning, despite finally having the opportunity to sleep in as long as I possible wanted – I somehow found myself on a running trail with my cousins at 7:30am.  I never regret a run, but I do regret not getting a bit more sleep when I could – ha!  We ran on a beautiful park near my cousin Lynn’s house.  And I ran six sunny miles with another cousin, Sarah!

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She does the Galloway walk/run method, which was kind of fun to try out.  I really struggle with the mental aspect of running, and I think all the walking breaks are too tempting for someone like me.  But we covered six miles which was my longest run to date, so I was happy.  I also stopped to snap a few pictures of important scenery to send back home…

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And hilariously enough, I somehow literally ran straight into my blogging buddy, Monica!  In all of Orange County (which I assume is big?) we ended up on the same trail at the same time – so fun to see her, and wish I was speedy enough that I could have kept up to run along side her for a bit.

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After the run and two giant bagels, I had time to relax at the hotel and read more of my book.  That afternoon, I headed out onto the ocean with another pod of cousins!  My cousins, Dana and Lynn, have been doing volunteer marine wildlife rescue for years and years.  We headed out on a Zodiac boat in search of salty air and marine life. 

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Apparently this is the tail end of grey whale season, and even though they have seen a few lately, the sea was pretty calm while we were out there.  We did get to see a whole bunch of sea lions and seals though, and one gorgeous dolphin.  It was plenty for me, and I was so grateful to be out on the water and surrounded by people I love who I don’t see nearly enough.

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While it was unexpected and sad, it was also a weekend that left me feeling very restored and centered.  Sometimes it takes something like death to bring a certain perspective back to life, and I returned home to find two little boys waiting for me in the airport with chocolates and flowers – and my life felt very, very full.

The funny thing is, while I went on and on about how I was worried to leave the kids for the first time – in reality, I have actually had my first trip away planned since last year.  And it is next weekend – gulp.  So I was bound to take off anyway, but now Casey got a bit of a test run. 

And it’s worth noting that he hit it out of the park.  He and the boys had a blast (as I expected they would) and by the end he was showing off and making vegan biscuits and gravy from scratch and other obnoxious things.  And so next weekend, I will jet off to Florida for three glorious days with my best friend, and I will relax knowing that it’s good for mom to get away sometimes, no matter the occasion.

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