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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    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.

San Juan Island Family Vacation.

Alright.  I’m finally ready to creep back in and admit that my summer “sabbatical” is over.  I will just start by saying – I am so grateful for all of you who continue to check in and be part of this community, particularly when the community “leader” has been a bit of a ghost lately.  And while I certainly took my summer “vacation” a bit more literally than I’d even intended, I’ve also always hoped to stay true to this space.  And this summer, that meant walking away a bit. 

As I’ve said before, I really just wanted to go enjoy the sunshine with my family.  And with that, I found myself honestly just feeling uninspired to write.  I respect you guys and what I’ve created here too much to write when I’m not feeling it, and I assume you don’t want to read things that are fake or forced.  So I soaked up a lot of summer sun, made wonderful memories with my family, and waited for inspiration to strike.

And guess what?  It did.  So hi – how was your summer?  It actually feels funny talking about summer because – even though it was 87 here on Monday (!) – fall is definitely in the air.  But before I plunge forward into all the things fall, I have to pause and recap the very end of our summer.  Because my online journal here would not be complete without including two totally amazing summer vacations.

We try to do an annual vacation with Casey’s family each year, and this year we did one with my family as well.  And as the scheduling worked out for both sets of families, we ended up doing our two big vacations for the year almost back to back (problems, right?).

We’ve done annual vacations with Casey’s family in Georgia, Hilton Head, and Charleston in recent years – and so this year everyone finally headed out west!  Casey and I were really excited to share our part of the country with his family, and in mid-August we all headed up to San Juan Island – a beautiful island that is part of an island chain outside the Seattle area.  In fact, it is one of National Geographic’s best summer trips!

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Casey’s parents rented this incredible home for our family to share for the week.  It was truly an island oasis, and I spent all week feeling so grateful and happy to be there. 

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The property sat on a small peninsula, jutting out into the water looking out over 280 degree private views of the breathtaking water and surrounding islands.  We had a dock, a small beach, a heated lap pool, and so much more.  It was HEAVEN. 

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The inside of the house was really comfortable and spacious for our group (six adults and three kids!).  And everywhere you looked there was water in the background – nothing better.

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I think this was my favorite spot in the house – not surprisingly, the kitchen!  It had an eat-in table with a window seat and the sun would rise each morning right over this spot.  The one time when it is an advantage to have kids who wake before the sunrise!  :)

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It was so peaceful and serene there, and it was the perfect spot to relax, unplug, and unwind. 

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Between the deck, the beach, and the pool there was plenty to do each day, so we stayed at the house a lot of the time.  The kids all loved the pool, and the adults spent a lot of nap times floating around enjoying the sun. 

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It was wonderful to see my niece, Hadley, again – and the boys had a blast playing with her.  Weird that she and Graham are only five months apart since she seems so much older right now.  He couldn’t get enough of her!

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And of course, the kids can never get enough of Grandpa and Mimi.  One of the things I loved about being in the islands is that we just really relaxed and slowed down.  There was no agenda or rush anywhere, and we savored everything around us – family we love and so much natural beauty. 

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In the evenings, we took advantage of this amazing bonfire pit!  We let Cullen stay up a few nights to do s’mores with us, and I could tell he felt like a very proud big kid. 

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While the sun rose through the kitchen, it set just off the left side of the beach, and the fire pit and dock were the perfect places to sit and watch the skies turn pink and orange each night.

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Is there anything more summer than a s’more at sunset?

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After a few days of mostly hanging around our place, we eventually ventured out to Lime Kiln State Park on the west side of the island.

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And we got there just in time to see a pod of ORCAS swimming by!  This is my favorite thing about the San Juans – the incredible natural beauty and wildlife.  There is something seriously magical about seeing giant killer whales in their natural environment. 

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And so fun to spend a week away with this guy, who actually got to unplug and enjoy some time away.  We both really needed it!

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We had one nice dinner out in Friday Harbor, which required showers and nice outfits, and of course – the annual family photos.  These three are a hoot, and I can’t wait to watch them all grow up together.

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We wish the Atlanta crew weren’t so far away, but I’m grateful that through the magic of frequent flier points, we get to see them as often as we do. 

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That’s about the best our family could do – haha. 

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But all smiles for Mimi and Grandpa, whose arms and hearts are so full for their grandchildren. 

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Does not get ANY better.  I could spend every night out on that beach!

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Our big adventure of the trip was a whale watching tour!  Seeing the whales from the park was a wonderful surprise, and got us even more excited for our boat tour later in the week.  I have dreamed of whale watching in the San Juans eve since we moved here!  The boat made Graham sleepy…

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We spent the first hour or two driving around learning about local islands and history, and saw other cool wildlife like wild deer and sunning sea lions.

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And then – ORCAS!  I don’t know what it is about them that seems so magical and mysterious, but I was seriously in awe of their giant black dorsal fins and smooth movements. 

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The rest of our time was spent throwing rocks and digging on the beach below the house…

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Cooking family meals – like taco night (and the ONE food picture I snapped all week!).

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Doing an awesome 1,000 piece puzzle – Casey, Tina, and I finished it on day five!

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And making lots of wonderful memories that I know I’ll be cherishing and holding onto during these colder, darker winter months.

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And just after the sun rose on our final morning, we ferried back to Seattle after a week that left me feeling very full and happy. 

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It was so fun to share this Northwest gem with our family, and we are forever grateful to them for all traveling up this way and for sharing this beautiful home.  I am crossing my fingers that this was the first of many summers we might spend there in the years to come!

Until then, I’ll hold onto pretty pictures that serve as a nice reminder of a wonderful week.  That, and the leftover s’mores fixings made their way home to my pantry.  :)

Summer Adventures.

Apologies for the quiet here last week.  I wish I had good excuses for you guys, but the reality is simply that it is summer – and there is so much to do, and eat, and see, and splash in – and I have been spending very little time indoors, and even less in front of my computer.  I keep making these giant to-do lists on our kitchen wipe-off board, and at the end of the day I am lucky to cross one thing off.  No regrets though – tis the season of sunscreen, tiny sandy shoes, and buckets and shovels rolling around in the back of my car.

We have been having such a wonderful summer – maybe our best yet?  This weekend was no exception.  Seattle was at it’s absolute best, with beaming sunshine all day long, sparkling water all around, and glowing sunsets night after night.  We knocked quite a few things off our summer bucket list, starting with – miniature golf! 

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Cullen is seriously obsessed with baseball these days, and he swings – both real and imaginary – bats around everywhere he goes.  So I thought he might have fun playing mini golf, particularly after I saw him playing with a friend’s toy club set at a park the other day.  Golf was a hit! 

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Graham wasn’t quite as impressed.  He snoozed on my back in the Stokke carrier, and I tried to argue for a handicapped score with all that extra weight shifting my center of gravity.  Casey beat me by a lot, Cullen cheated on every hole, and we all had a blast. 

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After a quick trip through our neighborhood farmer’s market, I spent naptime gardening!  I owe you guys a garden update soon – it is growing way faster than I can keep up with.  And real vegetables are actually growing – check out these squash!

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We grilled them for dinner along with corn on the cub, portabello mushrooms, and field roast – so delicious.  After we ate, the boys took a bath and changed into jammies, and then we took them for a pre-bedtime stroll to the grocery store in their new wagon (a Christmas gift we are finally putting to good use!).

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Sunday morning, both boys were up (painfully) early.  They bounced and climbed all over our bed, while Casey and I threw around ideas for what we’d do that day.  Instead of our usual walking loops and farmer’s markets, I tossed out something more adventurous.  Casey was into it, and so by 7:30am, we found ourselves ferrying across the Puget Sound from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. 

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As we drove onto the bottom car garage of the ferry, Cullen exclaimed from the backseat, “Oh, I am SO excited about riding the ferry!”  I tell you what – kids sure do make things way more complicated, but they also make them infinitely more fun. 

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We sat back and enjoyed thirty minutes of gorgeous blue water in every direction – with mountains all around, and all of Seattle’s beauty in the distance. 

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Graham’s first ferry ride!  He almost slept through the whole thing, but woke up just in time to enjoy the last few minutes.

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Somehow we have lived in Seattle for three years now, and we had never made it out to Bainbridge.  So for our first trip, knowing we had a limited window of time before the boys needed afternoon naps, we wanted to keep it low key – breakfast and a beach adventure.  We cruised the island a bit until we found Pegasus Coffee – a wonderful little coffee shop with an outdoor patio, a full menu, and delicious island-made kombucha on tap! 

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Cullen inhaled a massive blueberry muffin (he’d already eaten a full breakfast before we left!)…

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While Graham inhaled fistfuls of blueberries.  Kid loves to eat!

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Casey ate some sort of delicious veggie hash…

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And I had this incredible breakfast sandwich!  Flaky, buttery bread with roasted veggies, eggs, Beechers cheese, and a veggie patty sandwiched in between.  Seriously amazing. 

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After a relaxing, leisurely breakfast, we drove along the coast on the east side of the island – checking out all the beautiful homes, and stopping to soak in views like this. 

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Oh hello, Mt.Rainer! 

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This view honestly took my breath away.  Naturally, we started looking up real estate listing on our phones, as we are clearly now moving to the islands. 

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Our drive along the coast line took us to the north end of the island – Fay Bainbridge Park. 

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Beyond a camping ground area and small playground, we found a nearly empty beach with gorgeous sunshine, sparkling blue water, and lots of sand and rocks to explore.

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Casey and I took turns walking around with and snuggling Graham, who was determined to wiggle out of our arms so he could eat every rock on the beach. 

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Meanwhile, his big brother was hard at work perfecting his pitch – hurling rocks into the water with all the force and spirit of a two year old who loves to watch things fly through the air. 

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The only thing better than throwing rocks on a gorgeous beach, is doing it along with your dad.

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Such a wonderful morning with my favorite people. 

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As the clock ticked toward nap time, we headed back to the ferry and we were home by 12:30pm – just in time to read books and tuck two very exhausted boys into their beds.  And Casey and I needed to rest up ourselves, because we had a very special date night planned!

I planned a night out for us, and told Casey we were going to do a different type of date night.  I was so excited when the weather ended up being absolutely perfect for our activity – kayaking! 

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We rented a two-person kayak and paddled all around Lake Union.  We cruised past the houseboats up close (and of course, decided we need to live on one of those someday too!), waved to passing boaters, and had a total blast together. 

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It is always fun to see our great city from a different perspective, and no better way to do that than from the water.  As much as I love our occasional dinners out, this was a much more memorable and fun way to take advantage of having a rare babysitter! 

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After a quick meal, we hurried over to Golden Gardens Beach to soak up the last sunset of the weekend.  We had the perfect view of the mountains silhouetted by orange and pink skies.  We snuggled up on a piece of driftwood and I can’t remember the last time I have felt that relaxed and happy. 

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This summer just gets better and better, and there is still so much more fun ahead.

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