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.



Gift Guide For Kiddos: Sibling Edition!

Does anyone still need to do their Christmas shopping?  Of course I meant to do this post weeks ago, but surprise surprise – I’m way behind as always!  You guys still love me, right? 

We aren’t going crazy with gifts this year.  I feel like my kids have tons of toys and barely play with any of them.  In fact I’ve been organizing and paring down and getting rid of all the stuff they have outgrown or just never touch.  I just recently joined our local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and it is my new obsession.  It’s a great way to gift or donate things you don’t use anymore (but that still have lots of life left in them!) – highly recommend if you have one in your area!

These days, my kids fight over everything.  Sharing is a constant battle, and I refuse to buy two of everything – they need to figure out how to use things together!  So this year I’m focused on things that will occupy them at home that they can enjoy (peacefully) together. 

Here are some of our favorite things right now – some things we already have, and others we’re considering as gifts down the road.  I have until like the 22nd to Amazon Prime, right?

BOARD GAMES & PUZZLES

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Hungry Hungry Hippo – the boys got this as a birthday gift this year, and they are OBSESSED.   It is the perfect game for them to do together because they each have their own hippo, and they can do it at the same time without waiting for turns. 

Perfection – this is on our xmas list this year.  We played with it at a friend’s house, and it was a great collaborative game that the boys could do together, along with working on fine motor skills and shape sorting.  I remember this one from when I was little!

Berenstain Bears Learn to Share Game – this one is already wrapped under our tree.  My kids LOVE the Berenstain Bears, and we have every book that my mom saved from my childhood.  I’m hopeful that the sharing lesson will rub off!

MLB Matching Game – Cullen got this for his birthday, and both kids are obsessed.  When just Cullen and I play, we do it memory style and flip the cards upside down to try and make matches.  When Graham plays with us, we do them face up and see how quickly we can find pairs.  It’s a great learning tool, and both kids have memorized almost every mascot and team now – scary. 

Puzzles – Cullen has always been really into puzzles, even at a super early age.  Right now he can do 200 piece puzzles by himself – his favorites are this dragon and this dinosaur puzzle.  We recently got this 300 piece snowman puzzle, but he likes to do that one with mom or dad.  Graham has just started to get into puzzles too, and he can do this 30-piece barn puzzle all by himself now!  I love that they love puzzles as much as I do!

THINGS THAT GO!

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Micro Maxi Scooter – Cullen got this scooter for his birthday in October, and he rides it nonstop.  I got Graham the Micro Mini used off Craigslist, but it’s really beat up and he likes Cullen’s bigger, heavier version much better.  So I’m going to re-sell it and get the Maxi scooter for Graham for Christmas this year.  It is his big gift for the year!  We decided to bring them inside for the winter months, and the kids ride around the house together all day long.  I don’t make them wear helmets inside, but outside they rock these Giro helmets for safety. 

PlasmaCar – we don’t actually have one of these, but I’m always eyeing the used ones on Craigslist.  My kids love to ride on stuff, and in the summer we are outside ALL of the time.  We’ve used these at friends’ houses and both kids love them.

Kettler Kettrike – I scored one of these for $30 on Craigslist last summer, and both kids love it.  It’s pricey for a kids bike, but it works way better than any others we’ve used.  And it fits both of them so it definitely lasts for a few years if you get it early!

BUILDING & CREATING

I’m trying to avoid getting lots of tiny one-note toys anymore – the kids lose interest way too quickly and I hate all the clutter in our playroom.  So instead we’re just adding to sets of toys we already have – I’ve found that the kids are more likely to play with things that have multiple components and accessories to build in different ways.

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Duplo Building Sets – Cullen is probably old enough to move onto the small Legos, but he still really likes the Duplo sets, and those are better for Graham right now anyway.  We’ve been adding small sets here and there for birthdays and holidays, and we’ll get one or two more this Christmas.  Favorites in our house are the farm, the fishing set, the fire truck, and the construction vehicles.  I really want to get the big zoo, but we’ll hold out for now since it is pricey they are already getting plenty this year.  These are another good option to look for on Craigslist! 

Thomas the Train – we are FINALLY entering the world of trains.  Up until now I thought my boys just weren’t really into it, and then I realized that the reason they never played with our trains is because we had ZERO cool train stuff – just two very basic IKEA sets with no accessories.  But they love playing with them at toy stores and friend’s houses, and this is the one thing Cullen keeps asking for this year.  We are going to start out with a few basic engines, the roundhouse, this tunnel, and the crossing station.  I’m super excited about the holiday themed trains – Thomas and the Snowman and Santa’s Little Engine!

Update – there is a HUGE deal on Thomas tunnels and accessories today on the Thomas site!  I just scored the roundhouse for only $60!

Mondo Bloxx – my mom got these for the boys for Xmas, and even though I have NO idea where I’m going to store them (they look enormous!), I think the kids will love them.  We had something like this when I was little and I remember building tall towers and staircases and forts and things with friends.

HOLIDAY BOOKS

The rule in our house is that you can never have too many books.  I buy books (and we go to the library often) all year long, but this time of year I like to add a few new holiday-themed books to the collection.  Here are the new ones we’re picking up this year:

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Little Blue Truck Christmas – Graham is OBSESSED with Little Blue Truck, so this one is going to blow his mind.  I also got him the LBT plush stuffed animal for him to sleep with.  I can’t wait to give it to him!

The Polar Express – somehow we don’t have this one yet, so it’s definitely time!  Cullen is at the perfect age for enjoying this story.

Richard Scarry’s The Night Before The Night Before Christmas – we actually picked this one up last year, but both kids still love it.  

I Spy: A Candycane – Graham loves these early reader I Spy books, and they are great for him for finding hidden pictures and matching skills.

Dinosaur Train: Our First Snow – the most popular show in our house, so naturally we need the holiday book.   

MEMBERSHIPS & EXPERIENCES

We get annual membership to most of the kid spots here in Seattle – the zoo, the aquarium, the science center, etc.  This year we are also doing some fun holiday experiences like the Snoqualmie Santa Train, as part of our advent calendar fun.  We’ll be doing a lot of the free holiday events around the city too – Bellevue Botanical Garden lights, driving around Olympic Manor lights, Greenlake Light the Night walk, Snowflake Lane, listening to Christmas Ship carols, and a few others.  It’s fun to live in a city with so much holiday cheer, and it really does make the season feel special with so many new adventures on the calendar.

So that’s some of what will be under our tree this year (and other ideas we’ll be saving for later).  What are you getting the kiddos in your life this year?? 

We are decorating our tree tonight and planning to listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate.  I’ll be back later with pictures of all our decorations and more holiday fun this year.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year!  And to my Jewish friends – Happy Chanukah! 



Thanksgiving 2015 (& Beautiful Bouqs!)

We are back home in Seattle after a wonderful week back in the Midwest with our families.  We took off last Tuesday morning, and for the first time in four years I wasn’t nervous to fly.  The kids are at great ages for it, and it was also our first time flying without a stroller – so much easier!

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It was also Graham’s first time on a plane since he turned two, so he finally had his own seat.  It costs a million dollars for us to fly anywhere now, but it’s always worth it to go see family.

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We spent the first half of the week in Indiana with Casey’s side of the family.  The house was full of extended family members from as far away as Miami and Atlanta, and it was so wonderful to see everyone.  The boys were in heaven!  Casey’s mom and I took them to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum on Wednesday morning, and I am surprised we ever got them to leave.

Thursday was all about FOOD!  Casey and I snuck off to the gym and got a rare opportunity to work out together, which was a nice start to the day.

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Tina and her sisters were cooking machines – there was a schedule complete with cell phone alarms going off to ensure that dinner made it onto the table on time.  Pretty impressive!

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I was in charge of the Thanksgiving centerpiece, and thankfully my job was super easy this year.  I was offered two beautiful flower arrangements from The Bouqs Company, and I knew that our week-long Thanksgiving festivities were the perfect occasion.

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I was super excited when The Bouqs Company reached out to me, because I had seen them on SHARK TANK on one of our many wild Friday nights last year.  Here is the basic rundown on how the business works:

  • The Bouqs Company is a flower delivery service that’s easy, fresh, and beautiful.
  • Flowers are cut the day you order and shipped the next day, so you’ll receive them sooner and they’ll last longer!
  • Flowers are grown on the side of an active volcano in Ecuador, so more sunshine and mineral rich soil makes for better flowers!
  • Flowers are shipped directly to your door from the farms – no waiting in warehouses until they’re ordered, so always good quality and beautiful.
  • All flowers are grown at sustainable, eco-friendly farms that follow strict responsible farming practices and are 3rd party certified by Veriflora and The Rainforest Alliance.
  • What you see is what you get – exactly like the picture on the website, no bait-and-switch, and never any teddy bears or cheap candy.
  • Always free shipping!!

When I was in high school, my mom was a florist and I worked at the flower shop part-time after school as her helper.  I learned a lot about the floral industry, and nothing drives me crazy like those over the top pre-arranged boxes arrangements full of balloons on a stick and died carnations.  My favorite thing about the arrangements from The Bouqs Company is that you get EXACTLY what you see in the picture – no surprises!

If you are interested in trying out The Bouqs Company yourself, just enter the promo code GETBLOOMS for 20% off your first order!  They have some gorgeous holiday arrangements available right now.

I ordered the BBQ’N arrangement for Thanksgiving at the Malone’s house, since I knew it would look great with the fall decorations and colors in their living room.  I went with the “deluxe” option that included 24 roses with freesia accents for $50.  They arrived all boxes up and packaged into two smaller bouquets.

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I did my best to channel my inner florist and arrange them nicely on the table.  They smelled amazing, and the colors were gorgeous.

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Beautiful blooms with football on in the background – Thanksgiving, indeed!

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While the moms cooked, the boys enjoyed time with family that they don’t see nearly enough.  Both boys were totally enamored by their great-grandmother, and it was really special to see them together after a long time away.

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Finally, it was time to eat!  Tina planned an amaaaazing spread of veggie food (in addition to turkey and ham).  It was a serious feast!

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I was in charge of this vegan mac and cheese dish made with chao (vegan) cheese and field roast/breadcrumb topping.  It turned out really well – definitely one to remake!

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A plate full of goodness – so good I had to wait several hours for dessert.  Is there anything better than Thanksgiving food??

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The following day, we said our goodbyes and headed to Cincinnati to see my side of the family – it was grandparent overload for the boys!  We took them to the Cincinnati Museum Center, where they were very happy to discover there was a big snake and turtle event happening (yikes!).

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One big thing of note from this trip was that it was the first time Graham has ever slept in a bed.  When we got there on our first night, he took one look at the pack n play and it was clear it wasn’t going to happen.  So we convinced Cullen to share his bed, and every night from then after they slept cuddled up together.  Truly, the cutest thing EVER.  My heart could only take so much.

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On Saturday, we had Thanksgiving part two!  My mom and Jim cooked all afternoon while the boys took epic long naps, and I spent several hours cocooned under a blanket on the sun porch with my sister.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

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Once dinner was on the table, we were all ready for feast number two.  Cornbread veggie stuffing…

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Cranberry sauce (my personal favorite!)…

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Skin-on mashed potatoes (the only way to do it!)…

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Place cards made by the kids (with a little help from mom)…

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A yummy shaved Brussels sprout dish…

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Field Roast celebration roast…

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And a big bowl of roasted veggies with fresh herbs.  Such a great spread!

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And of course – more beautiful flowers from The Bouqs Company

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I sent the Desperado volcano roses to my mom’s house because that pink color looked so incredible.  It did not disappoint in person! 

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I moved them to the sunroom for better photos, but they were absolutely perfect on our holiday table.  Is there anything more classic and beautiful than roses?

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We stayed a few more days and enjoyed family and just all hanging out together.  Every time we go home it gets more difficult to leave.  When we landed at the airport in Seattle yesterday, Cullen burst into tears and sobbed, “I wish all our family lived in Seattle.”  Me too kid, me too. 

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The kids had an awesome week and were beyond exhausted by the end.

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It was a great visit and I feel so lucky that we go to see so many loved ones all at once.  I’m thankful for so much family time and so much good food, and now the countdown is on until Christmas when we’ll have visitors here in Seattle!

And many thanks to The Bouqs Company for providing our gorgeous Thanksgiving arrangements.  The quality of the flowers was fantastic and the service was excellent – I’ll definitely be using it for gifts in the future!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!  Back soon!

This post is sponsored by The Bouqs Company.  Thanks for your continued support of Daily Garnish, and our family!

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