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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    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

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    A Look Back.



A Day In The Life Of A Five Month Old Baby.

5:00-5:30am – Wake up!

Cullen starts making noise on the monitor, and I bury my head in the pillow and groan.  Casey gets up and jumps into the shower, and I pretend to not hear any of it.  After ten-ish minutes of whining and scooting around the crib, I head into his room to feed him.

March 10

His diaper is usually leaking at this point, so I strip off his pajamas and put him in a clean diap.  I do everything in the dark, hopeful that once he’s clean and full he’ll want to go back to sleep.  That never actually happens, but in my sleep-deprived delusions, I still try every time.

6:00am – Reality strikes

I have been rocking him for 15 minutes, and he is wide awake and trying to play.  This boy is absolutely not going back to sleep.  We head into the bedroom to talk to Casey while he finishes getting ready for work.  Once he heads out for the day, I get ready to start mine.

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7:00am – Starting the day

I put Cullen down on the bedroom floor with a few toys, and I jump into the shower. He’s usually in a great mood in the mornings, and now that he’s able to army crawl, he’s very content to just have a big open space to move around in.  I shower, get dressed, and do my makeup – if I don’t do it now, it’s not going to happen.

March 9

We head into Cullen’s room to get him dressed, and then we grab the dogs and all head to the 2nd floor. 

8:00am – Breakfast for all

Cullen goes into the Jumperoo, while I head to the 1st floor to let the pups outside.  Back upstairs, I grab their food bowls – back downstairs, I fill them up in the garage.  I let them in and we all head up.

If Cullen is content in the jumperoo, I attempt to eat breakfast too.  I usually sit on the coffee table and talk to him while I eat, because it buys me a little more time than if he’s left unattended. 

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Oatmeal is feeling very repetitive these days, but it keeps the milk supply up!

On other days when he’s gotten up too early, he’s ready to head back to bed at this point for a short 20 minute nap.  He also needs to eat again, which only takes about 10-12 minutes total these days.

9:00am – The morning nap

We are just finally hitting that sweet spot that I’ve been reading about in all the sleep books.  Cullen is settling into a pretty predictable morning/afternoon sleep pattern (which will implode now that I’ve typed this).  Almost like clockwork, around 9am every morning he starts to rub his eyes and show signs that he’s tired.

I rock him with his pacifier and a blanket under his face, and let him get sleepy and drowsy.  Just as he starts to fall asleep, I move him to the crib, turn on the sleep sheep and monitor, and tip toe out quietly.

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The beauty of the morning nap is that they are finally starting to be longer. Up until last week or so, his naps were never more than 30 minutes. But he seems to be settling into napping for close to an hour in the mornings!

10:30am – Walking and playing

Once he’s up, it’s time for a snuggle from mom and a clean diaper.  Since we’re usually getting ready to head out for the afternoon, I feed him around now too.  Depending on what day it is, I try to always have some sort of afternoon activity planned.  One day a week we head to moms group, which Cullen LOVES.  He is so into watching other babies!  (Check out the hand holding – eeeeeee!)

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On other days, depending on the weather we might meet another friend for a walk, or head to storytime at the local bookstore.  He loves storytime because of the songs and all the other kids there.  I don’t think he even sees the books being read, but he loves the environment.

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Since he’s at home with me every day and not in a daycare, I work hard to get him around as many other kids and sights/sounds as possible.  I’ve also been doing a few mommy & me types of classes – it’s fun to have new things to do with him now that he’s so much more interactive.

My afternoons out with him are also good for me.  Being at home with a baby can feel very isolating at times, and I can’t say enough about the value of having other moms in my life.  It’s nice to go for walks and know that your company understands meltdowns, missed naps, blowouts, and all the other baby drama. 

If we’re on our own for the afternoon, this is generally when I’ll try to take him out for a run or walk by myself, so that we both get some much needed fresh air.  If it’s cold or rainy, we bundle up!  Seattle moms do not fear the rain.

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2:00pm – The afternoon nap

We’re usually home by late afternoon, and Cullen is ready to eat again.  He often takes a light snooze during playgroup or our walks, but he still needs more of a formal nap in his crib in the afternoon.  I rock him and sing to him, and he dozes off for the next 60 minutes or so.

This is a great chance for me to finally eat lunch, let the dogs out again, switch laundry, check/answer emails, clean up toys, make phone calls, etc.  And longer naps mean I can actually make proper meals from time to time!

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Two soft-cooked eggs on a sourdough English muffin with Earth Balance.

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Spinach salad with avocado, mushrooms, and walnuts in orange-miso dressing.

3:00pm – Playtime at home

Once Cullen wakes up, he usually plays in his crib for a while.  I have a few hanging toys and stuffed animals in there that he loves, and it buys me 15-20 minutes of extra crib time – priceless.  It’s also great for him to learn how to play independently.  One of the best parts of my day is when I do finally go into his room, and he greets me with a giant smile (and crazy bed head!).

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At this point, we play in either the living room or his nursery.  Now that he’s working on crawling, he likes to chase toys across the room and harass our dogs.  I set toys out for him, put baby music on, and we play for an hour or so on the floor.

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4pm – Where is dad?

This is usually the point where I start to feel kind of drained for the day.  I’m ready for a new face and an extra set of hands.  I feed Cullen again while we wait and listen for the door to open!  I take videos of him and upload them for the grandparents.  I stare at the clock.  A lot.

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Casey is usually home between 4:30-5ish, and after he changes and unpacks, he gets his own time to snuggle and play.  One of my favorite parts of the day is seeing Cullen’s reaction when Casey comes in.  Boys and dads – it’s something special I tell ya. 

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For the past few months Casey has been really bogged down with work, so even once he gets home he will continue to work at the counter while I talk to him and bounce Cullen around.  Recently we tried to revamp this a bit – now the 4:30-6:00 window is becoming Casey’s time with Cullen.  Alone.  Mama needs a break, and it’s good for both of them to have some alone time together.

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I finish up a little bit of work, get dinner started, feed the dogs, and (hopefully) squeeze in a run if possible. 

6:00pm – Winding down

As he’s gotten older, Cullen has started putting himself to bed earlier and earlier.  What used to be 7:30pm (like clockwork!) is now more like 6:15 or 6:30.  We have tried keeping him up later (to hopefully encourage him to wake up later in the mornings) but he just can’t do it, and we want to respect his sleep. 

I take him upstairs and put him into his special PJ diapers and his jammies.  If it’s a bath night, we do that now too (usually twice a week).  If he’s still pretty happy, we’ll read a few books in the glider.  If he’s starting to fade quickly, I go straight to feeding him. 

He absolutely never falls asleep eating anymore, and pulls off after only 5-ish minutes on each side.  Once he lets me know he’s done, we rock and sing, and I watch his eyes get heavy.  He goes into his crib easily, and is pretty good about settling himself to sleep.  A few kisses from mom and then I’m back downstairs for the night.

7:00pm – 10:00pm – Mom and dad time

Having Cullen on a consistent (and early) bedtime has been a huge help in giving me and Casey a little time to ourselves in the evenings.  This is when we finish work, make dinner, and get a chance to talk about our days.  We usually watch a show or two before retiring to bed for the night.

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12:00am – 2:am – Midnight feeding

We’re still getting up once a night for a middle-of-the-night feeding, and the time is varying quite a bit these days.  What was consistently 3am a few weeks ago is now as early as midnight some nights.  I have tried simply soothing him through this feeding to see if it’s just wakefulness rather than hunger, but it never works.

I take him out and feed him, and he falls back asleep after 15-20 minutes.  Back into the crib for him, and back into bed for me.

5am – Good morning!

We’re up again after sometimes just 2ish hours of sleep from the previous feeding, and the cycle starts all over again…

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It’s crazy to re-read my day in the life of a 7 week old baby post, and see how different things are now. 

A few notable changes between then and now:

  • Feedings are much shorter and are 3 hours apart now – they take up so much less of our day!
  • Cullen sleeps in his own room now – both for napping and overnight!  This makes a huge difference in the quality of both of our sleep, and my productivity during the day.
  • He is much more independent these days, and able to entertain himself for longer stretches.  While I still play and interact with him all day long, I feel a lot less frantic that I must maximize every minute.
  • We get out and do so much more than we used to!  It’s fun that he can participate in our activities now instead of always sleeping through them.

I can only imagine how different this will look in another few months.  Each day is different and there are always surprises, but I go to bed each night feeling incredibly blessed and lucky that I have the opportunity to be at home with my little munchkin, watching him grow. 



Crispy Blackened Tofu.

One of the questions I hear most often from readers is wondering how to get their “meat and potatoes” boyfriend/husband/dad/whoever to start eating a more plant-based diet.   This, my friends, is your answer.

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Inspired by a dish at one of my favorite restaurants, I thought it would be fun to try making my own.  The spice coating gets a delicious and rich crunch from being cooked on high heat, and the smokiness exactly what you crave at a backyard barbecue. 

Crispy Blackened Tofu

by Emily Malone

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (2 servings)

    For the Tofu
    • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed)
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or other cooking oil)

    For the Spice Blend

    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon corn starch
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Instructions

    Start by pressing a block of tofu to drain out the excess water.  While the tofu drains, go ahead and make your spice mix.

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    The mixture is spicy, but not over the top.  If you can’t handle any heat, scale back on the cayenne and black pepper.  The paprika adds amazing richness and flavor to the blend!

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    Add all spices to a shallow bowl, and stir to thoroughly combine.

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    Once the tofu has drained, slice the block into four even rectangles – once through the width, and then cutting in half through the top (did that make sense?).

    Place tofu in a shallow dish and add soy sauce or liquid aminos – it doesn’t need to be much. Just enough to let it soak into the bottom a bit. After a few minutes, flip each piece to coat the other side.

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    In a sauté pan, heat sesame oil (or other oil of your choice) over medium high heat – you want your pan to really get hot! I prefer to use my non-stick pans for this, but you can try it in stainless as well.

    Take each piece of tofu and press it into the spice blend, ensuring to coat the whole bottom in a thick crust of spice.

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    Flip it over and repeat on the other side.

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    Then carefully place each piece into the hot pan – it should sizzle and pop, and you’ll see immediate color forming around the base of the tofu.

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    Add all four pieces to the pan and continue to cook over medium high heat. After only a minute or two, the bottom should be pretty dark in color – flip to the other side!

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    Cook for another minute or two on the other side, until both are crispy and blackened to perfection.  Slice and serve on a bed of rice or quinoa with a side of roasted greens!

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    Honestly, at first glance I’m not even sure you could tell this is tofu.  Before it is sliced, it looks more like a slab of salmon!

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    I often hear from vegans or vegetarians who are in a food rut, eating the same things over and over again.  There are only so many ways to marinate and bake tofu slices.  Blackening and crisping really transforms the tofu into something unexpected and deliciously different. 

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    And I truly believe that even hard core meat-eaters will enjoy this dish.  It’s the perfect solution for a cookout or dinner party that may include a variety of different diets.  If you thought you hated tofu, promise me you will give it one more chance.

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    Enjoy!

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