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.

Stone Harbor Summer Getaway.

At last, my final photo dump from our summer adventures!  Like I mentioned before, we had two big vacations this year – and as the timing worked out for both families, the ended up being almost back to back.  We got back from the San Juan Islands, had a week in Seattle (which Casey actually spent traveling in NYC!), and then we re-packed the suitcases to head all the way out to New Jersey.

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent my summers growing up at the Jersey shore.  My great grandmother had a house there, and every summer – as soon as school let out – we packed up the station wagon and my mom, sisters, and I headed to New Jersey for the next three months.  My mom took care of my great grandmother, while Rebecca and I (and eventually Sarah) played in the sand, soaked in the sun, and lived this amazing beach life that I thought was normal at that age. 

When my grandmother passed, the house changed hands to a different branch of our family, and our beach summers came to a close around the time I was 13 or 14.  Other than one brief weekend that I spent there back in 2000, I hadn’t been back to Stone Harbor since I was a kid!  So it was really exciting to spend a week there with my family this year – both reliving my own childhood memories, and creating so many new ones with my own children.

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This was Graham’s first trip to a real (sand) beach, and he absolutely loved it.  I was worried he would just eat sand and cry the whole week (which is what he does on Seattle beaches!), but he discovered shallow waves and warm water, and couldn’t have been happier.  Cullen was a fish as always!  Beaches are such great vacations at this age – so easy to just let them run around and be messy all day.

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And of course, time with Grandma is priceless.  She had her hands full with all FOUR grandsons for a week!

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I love our rocky Seattle beaches and cool Pacific water, but you just can’t beat an East coast beach.  I love the soft white sand, the miles and miles of beach to walk, the songs of the seagulls, and clean salty water to jump in. 

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It was such a treat to spend a whole week with my older sister and her family.  Of all our loved ones, they are the furthest away and hardest to get to, and we don’t see each other nearly as often as I’d like!  But we sure do savor the time we do get together.  This was my first time seeing them since January, and both of her boys have grown so much since then! 

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The toddlers hadn’t been together in a full YEAR, but they jumped right back into being buddies like it was yesterday.  They were both pretty excited to fly their first kite!

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My mom’s fiance, Jim, brought his kite from home – and Cullen and Jonah had a blast watching it dip and fly, and helping to move it all around.  It is so fun to relive all this stuff again through the kids!

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When we originally booked a trip for Labor Day week, we were all worried it might already be too cool to enjoy the beach.  The joke was on us because it ended up being over 90 degrees the whole time we were there.  We got into a good vacation groove, with every morning spent enjoying the sand and salt water from morning to lunch time. 

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I decided to suck it up and buy some new bathing suits for our trip – my first one-piece suit since back in my Speedo days.  But I really wanted to be able to enjoy time in the beach with the kids – sitting in sand building castles, running after beach balls, and holding grabby babies.  I didn’t want to waste time or energy worrying about my stomach rolls or feeling self-conscious.  And so while I definitely felt like a M-O-M in a one-piece and baseball cap, I also felt a lot more comfortable.  And yes, Graham has a mouth full of sand!

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Such a treat to spend a week away all four of us!  I am surrounded by crazy boys all day long, but I sure do love it.  (Stitchfix top!)

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In the afternoons and evenings, we explored the town – checking out shops, playgrounds, and going for bike rides.  We found some bikes in the garage at the house, and I rented a bike trailer at the local bike shop so I could sneak in some exercise while entertaining the toddlers.  It was a hit!


And we’d also go back to the beach to play paddle ball, run around in the sand, and watch those pretty pink sunsets. 

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Another big reason this trip was planned was the opportunity to see my grandparents – it has been FIVE years!  They had never met any of their great-grandchildren, so it was really special to all be together. 

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The grandparents were troopers and even came down to the beach to hang out on many mornings (they are 85!).  Also mid week, Sarah (little sister) and her boyfriend arrived!  More vacation scenes…

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Check out Levi and Graham the last time they were together – all the way back in January at just 12 weeks old!


And here they are now as big 10-month olds.  Their birthdays are just 18 days apart, and it was so much fun to see them finally really play together.   

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Four generations on my mom’s side of the family, in the backyard of my great-grandmother’s home.  Pretty cool!

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A wonderful week full of so many new memories, in a place that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a baby myself. 

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And with that, our summer travels came to an end, and we came home and jumped right into the start of school and rain boots and pumpkins, and all the fun that is the fall.  Up next – toddler/pre-school lunch ideas!

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.  :)

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