about me

    Emily Malone

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

    Contact Emily

    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

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    Looking forward to chatting with you!

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    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

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    A Look Back.



A House and A Coffee Mug.

I don’t really know when or how it started, but I kind of have a thing for mugs.  We don’t have a ridiculously big collection or anything, but I tend to be choosy about the ones we do have.  I like them to be meaningful and add an extra smile to my morning coffee or evening tea.  Most of them are reminders of place we have lived. 

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Some, are just wishful thinking, and reminders of wonderful vacations spent with people I love. 

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When we moved to Seattle from Virginia, we spent our first year in a teeny townhouse in the funky Fremont neighborhood (a rental, so we could get a feel for our new city).  We loved the city-vibe, the walkability, the proximity to friends and so many great Seattle spots, and the quick bus ride downtown for Casey.  I was incredibly spoiled by being able to walk to a natural foods grocery store, a huge farmer’s market, a vegan bakery, the waterfront, and the Seattle zoo (among much, much more). 

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As we approached the one year mark last spring, we started looking into moving into something more “permanent” (which is clearly a phrase I should never be using!).  We loved Fremont the year we were there, but we were itching for a bit more space, a better layout for our now-mobile child, and some functional outdoor space.

Somewhere during all of this, Casey went to the drug store to exchange our Soda Stream bottles, and they were doing a promotion where if you spent $20 you got a free Seattle neighborhood mug. He came home with Fremont and Magnolia (another nearby neighborhood), and said “I spent $50, so I had to pick a second one, and I figured we were most likely to want to live in Magnolia.”  I smiled and agreed. 

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We hunted and hunted and must have toured at least 100 houses of all different ages, shapes, prices, and sizes.  I know the housing market is different in all parts of the country, but here in Seattle is it on FIRE.  Housing is incredibly expensive and competitive, and we were pretty overwhelmed by it.  After about two months of religiously searching every weekend (and many evenings!), we found our house.  In Magnolia.

The layout was perfect, the backyard was gorgeous and BIG (by Seattle standards), and it was just a few miles away from our current digs in Fremont (and even closer to Casey’s office!).  We made an offer, crossed our fingers, and eventually worked out a mutual deal with the sellers.  We were ecstatic. 

The following week we got a phone call that sent all our plans into a tailspin.  The sellers had changed their minds and were no longer going to sell their house – they would keep it as a rental instead.  We were devastated, and at that point I kind of felt like we gave up.  Frustrated by the Seattle market, we started looking east toward the ‘burbs.  On one of our first visits out to the Eastside (as we call it here), we walked into our (current) house and were mesmerized by giant closets, expansive space, and the world’s most beautiful kitchen

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Things moved quickly – too quickly, really – and before I knew what had happened we were packing up and moving 30 minutes east to Kirkland.  There is a lot that I could say about our move and the months that followed, but in the interest of maintaining some privacy I’ll just say that it ultimately wasn’t the right choice for us.  We had a big beautiful house in a really nice neighborhood, and found ourselves really unhappy in it most of the time.

The biggest issue over this past year has been Casey’s commute.  Of course, we knew it would be longer going into our move (and even tested it out via bus), but riding a few times and riding every day (at different times of the year) is totally different.  On a good day, Casey would be home in an hour.  On a dark, rainy day in the winter (of which there are many!) it would often take 90 minutes or more.  Meanwhile, I was hauling Cullen all over Seattle and spending way too much time in the car myself – as most of our friends and activities remained closer to our old house. 

The other commuting issue was that Casey was severely limited in bus options that run directly to our house.   He only had three options in the morning, and three in the evening – if he missed them he was out of luck.  On many, many occasions, he’d have to work late and end up missing the last bus, which meant I had to put Cullen in the car at bedtime and go pick him up at the nearest transit center (fifteen minutes away).  All of this is to say, it just wasn’t working.

All year long, we’d think about – and talk about – the house in Magnolia.  We’d long for the big sunny backyard, the mountain views from the kitchen and master bedroom,  and the floor plan that would have worked so well for our family.  In the meantime, we did our best to explore our new area and find new adventures and things to enjoy there – admittedly, somewhat half-heartedly. 

Somewhere in early spring, as we approached the one-year mark in our house (and also learned we had another baby coming), we decided we needed to figure out one way or another if we were going to move.  The feeling of living in limbo and indecision had gone on for way too long, and we were making ourselves miserable.

After a few long talks and “what if’s” – we called our realtor and threw out a total long shot scenario.  We decided to re-approach the original sellers of the house we had loved in Magnolia the year before.  We knew they were likely approaching the one-year mark on their rental contract, and thought perhaps they were reconsidering selling it this year instead.  He told us it was very unlikely we’d convince someone to sell us a house that wasn’t even for sale, but he was definitely willing to try.  He made the call and we waited, and waited, and waited. 

We moved on and moved forward, and then one afternoon we finally heard back – the sellers were interested, and wanted to talk.  I could write many, many paragraphs about the months that followed, but I’ll give you a brief synopsis…

We did all the back and forth phone negotiations with the sellers in early March, and agreed on a mutual selling price.  The real clincher here was that they were willing to accept a contingency offer that would give us a short window in which we would sell OUR house, in order to make our deal official.  This is absolutely unheard of in the competitive housing market right now.

To complicate things, this was just days before Casey and I went out of town for two weeks (to Atlanta and Hilton Head), so everything had to freeze and go on hold until we got back.  After two weeks away, we returned home with just four days to get our house listed and ready to go on the market.  We worked nonstop cleaning, organizing, staging, and coordinating listing appointments.  We went live on the market in early April.

Once our house was listed, I was in charge of keeping our house in perfect condition at all times, as well as getting Cullen and the two dogs out for all open houses and showing appointments (many of which gave just 30 minutes notice!).  It was a chaotic blur, and we spent many afternoons all cooped up in the car driving around (it was a particularly rainy week) while people toured our house.

Just as this whole situation has sort of felt like a dream, our good luck continued.  Our house sold in just five days.  We met our contingency clause for our purchase, and our move was officially underway.  It all felt very surreal, and as each hurdle was passed (inspections, appraisals, etc.) I felt more and more weight drop off my shoulders.  I continued to shuffle schedules and haul the family around town to accommodate lots of meetings and appointments in order to get the deal done on both ends. 

In the interest of our privacy, which I’m sure you can understand, I’m not going to get into the financial details of any of this.  But we’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it means to sell a house after living in it for just one year (read: people think we are insane, and we probably are!).  As it turned out, the house we bought last year was considerably underpriced and also in an area that appreciated very quickly.  So as crazy as it sounded to sell so quickly, we ended up profitable on our sale (even after fees, commissions, etc.) and without any losses.  Pretty much a dream scenario.

Also – we actually downsized!  We learned a valuable lesson that square footage and shiny master bathrooms are overrated when compared to location, character, and priceless proximity to friends and jobs.  I will say a bit more about our new house tomorrow, but it’s smaller, it’s much older, and it’s exactly what we wanted all along. 

Through all of this, I never talked about it because I was so afraid it wouldn’t come true.  I also knew that we were so lucky to live in (and own) a beautiful home, and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful or unaware of our blessings.  And despite having many of them, we knew we needed this big change. 

I’m sitting here typing this from my new sunroom in a house that I have loved for more than a year.  I can’t even describe the feeling of happiness we have all felt since our moving truck rolled into the driveway on Saturday afternoon.  I can’t believe that we bought a house that wasn’t for sale, sold our house in just five days, and finally ended up in the Magnolia house we dreamed about for so long.  It was one hell of a lot of work, but so indescribably worth it.

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I’m looking forward to telling you more about our moving weekend, sharing some pictures, and giving you the very exciting news from our gender reveal party (!!!) – can’t wait to share!

Thanks for following along on our crazy journey.  I joked on Saturday that I love this house so much that my next move will be into a retirement community.  Finally – finally, we are home. 

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99 Comments so far
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Brenda     at 7:28 pm

Wow! What an incredible journey. Congratulations on finding the house of your dreams!

My home buying experience this spring was also a wild ride… while house hunting, every house my husband and I were interested in sold in a day(or less). We were extremely frustrated, and thought we would never get a house we liked. Then one evening my husband was browsing Zillow and said, “Did you know your grandparents’ old house is for sale?” I thought it couldn’t be true, but it was! The house was at the low end of our budget AND in the exact location we wanted.

We closed on it today, and I can’t wait to move into a house were I already have 25 years worth of great memories!

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Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy     at 7:44 pm

Congratulations!! My husband and I just bought our first house, and it is much older and more of a fixer upper than we originally wanted, but we love it, and we’re so excited to make it our own. You’re right, shiny and new isn’t always better!

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Samantha @ Sweetly Striving     at 7:51 pm

That is such a wonderful story. So very excited for you. Lots of happiness and joy is in your life. You are very blessed.

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Allison @Can't Wait For Breakfast     at 8:19 pm

Thanks for always being real Emily – I love how you always share your emotions – as a reader it really helps me connect and reminds me that its Ok to have those feelings too

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Caitlin     at 12:10 am

Congrats!! I know your kids will have an amazing experience growing up in Magnolia just like my siblings and I did :) so happy for your family! Maybe I will run into you guys this summer when I visit my family!

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Kristi     at 3:12 am

Congrats! I can’t even imagine all that you went through getting your dream home. I am still in the first home I bought and I still remember the tears I shed during all the frustrations of buying a home.

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brit     at 5:08 am

thank you emily for writing about this. being an urban planner with a focus on residential development, i am often finding i need to convince people of all the benefits of living centrally. your experience and words mean so much to me. congratulations. thank you so much for writing this post.

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Rachel     at 6:16 am

Aww – what a lovely story :) Wishing lots of happy times in your new home.

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More     at 6:19 am

Wow! What an incredible story! Congrats and welcome HOME! :)

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Aimee     at 6:19 am

You’re so not crazy! You’ve just figured out what most people don’t “get” until they retire. Live where you live! We lived on acreage for 5 years. We loved the property and the huge house, but my husband spent at least 2 hours a day commuting, and I was on the road ALL the time carting our 7 kids to all their activities. A year ago my husband died after a 4 week battle with leukemia. And just like that it seemed so SILLY that he had spent so much of his life in the car! I moved the kids to a small city so that everything’s close. It makes so much more sense.

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Chase     at 6:53 am

What a crazy story! But I’m glad that you found what’s right for you and your family. This is a true story that you have to just ask for what you want. You just might get surprised!

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Ingunn     at 12:47 pm

Love this story! Congratulations on finding your dream home – we found ours last year, and I felt totally at home for the first time in my adult life…and I can totally see us living here for a looong time.

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Bitch on a Diet     at 3:19 pm

That is ABSOLUTELY amazing! congrats on your new home : )
My husband and I also want to buy a house but unfortunately we’re already being overpriced in our area (southern California) so we’ll just have to wait until our dream house shows up at the right price. Good thing we love our rental right now

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Paula     at 3:48 pm

How awesome….what a great story with a happy ending, loved this post and the mugs! :)

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Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Our Gender Reveal Party (and the Big News!).     at 4:05 pm

[…] to.  In just a matter of a few days, I feel like my life changed so much.  We’re in a new house that we couldn’t love more, and we’re expecting another gorgeous boy that is going to change […]

Ravyn     at 4:59 pm

I’m SO very happy for you guys!!! We are in a similar situation in Portland, so I know how trying the whole house thing can be. I can’t wait for your updates. Enjoy that new house!!

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Megan Baer     at 8:45 pm

Congratulations on the new house! What an amazing journey to get to your dream home – I’m so very happy for you guys.

Also, my husband and I recently visited Seattle and since then he was had some major dreams of moving out there – he fell immediately in love with the beauty, bounty of outdoor activities and vegan/veggie friendly atmosphere. One of his favorite places was Discovery Park (mine too), so he about died when I shared with him that you guys moved to the Magnolia area. Yes, I give my husband semi-monthly Daily Garnish updates, or as he calls them: “DG updates”. He’s always so surprised at how much Cullen has grown up. I tell him it’s baby growth training for when we have kids. :)

Again, so happy for you guys! I CAN’T WAIT to see a house tour post! No rush though… I’m sure you guys are plenty busy.

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Julie     at 6:43 am

What a great story! It was just meant to be. :)

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Christina     at 7:32 am

Congratulations!

I completely identify with what you posted here. Long story short my fiancee and I built what we thought was our dream house back in 2005. It included his and her closets, a master retreat with it’s own fireplace, a huge bonus room, and a gourmet kitchen. Total it was almost 4,000 sf. Yes, 4,000 square feet for three people. Three and a half considering we only have his son every other week. While it was absolutely gorgeous I would find months going by where I hadn’t entered two whole rooms. We lost it thanks to the horrible economy and the fact that we were both in industries that weren’t sustainable (he the car business, me high end development). It was heart breaking at first and a loss I will never truly “get over” but in hindsight it was too much house. And holy crap the cleaning. NON STOP. Now we are in the house he built shortly before we started dating, with plans to buy an even smaller house once his son is out and in college. Give me a one story on a nice sized lot over a palatial house on a postage stamp any day.

Thank you for sharing your life with us, can’t wait to see pictures of the new house! You have a knack for creating beautiful spaces.

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Emily Malone Reply:

Wow, that is nuts. I relate to the cleaning though – I could never keep up! And many of our rooms were empty because we never used them and had no reason to pay to furnish them. Such a waste!! Happy you found something you are happy in now. :)

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Veganlily     at 12:35 am

SO happy for you and was very much hoping you’d move based on your posts over the year. I bought my first house at 29 and sold it at 31 – wasn’t the right fit. I also didn’t lose a penny but it would have been worth it even if I had. This is such good news for your marriage and family-kudos to having the strength to change a choice that wasn’t right for you!

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char eats greens     at 8:16 am

That’s a great story and I can’t believe how perfect it worked. I say, good for you for asking the owners to reconsider selling! And good thing you did or else you would have always wondered what could have been…now IT IS!! :)

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Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Easter Weekend 2014.     at 3:07 pm

[…] bunny ears on.  Last year, we had just gotten back from traveling and we were in the midst of selling our house, which meant Easter fell off the radar.  This year was simple and relaxed, but definitely felt […]

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