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



    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.

Scoping Out Seedling (+ Giveaway!).

A few weeks ago I talked a little bit here about toy storage and organization, and how we try to go for the “less is more” approach when it comes to filling up the playroom.  But of the toys we do have, I feel like the kids barely even play with them anymore.  There are, of course, the favorites like the garbage trucks and a handful of others.  But most of the time my two are throwing balls back and forth or asking to paint or color or do things that are more activity-based.

As Cullen is getting older, I can definitely see that he’s much more interested in learning new skills and doing things that feel purposeful, and I’m doing my best to provide lots of opportunities for new experiences. 

Let me introduce you to my latest online shopping discovery – Seedling

Seedling is an amazing online collection of imaginative and creative toys and activity kits for kids.  Here are a few things key things that Seedling offers:

  • Activity kits provide an experience that encourages creative play and exploration, and are designed for kids between ages 3 and 13+!
  • The Pocket Money Collection – with price points $1-$15 – are fun, novelty things that kids can save for and choose themselves.
  • Awesome gift ideas – creative, beautiful packaging and all-in-one kits and gifts that are gender neutral and good for many ages.
  • Recycled and recyclable materials in product design and packaging wherever possible, and made of first class materials and tools in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • The philosophy behind every Seedling product is simple: to help fuel imaginations and open new paths to discovery.

I was able to choose a few different things from Seedling to try, and the first thing my eye went to was the Junior Gardening Kit.  This is one of the Activity Kits, and includes children’s gardening gloves, a terra cotta pot, three garden tools, and wooden planter signs. 

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With all the gardening fun we had last summer, I knew Cullen would absolutely love this kit.  But I also knew that one set of gloves was not going to cut it, so I ordered an extra set for Graham from the Kit Collection. 

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We started working on our garden over the weekend, and the kids were super excited to bust open the kit.  Cullen immediately chose the red gloves and got to work. 

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Unfortunately, the gloves were a little too big for Graham (which is understandable, since they are aged for 3+), so he used some hand me downs.  But he didn’t seem to mind one bit because he was too busy yelling “SHOVEL! SHOVEL!” and leaping for the gardening tools. 

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The tools are really good quality and made of nice wood and painted metal.  I can tell they will hold up to kiddo abuse and Seattle weather!  I am so so SO excited about gardening this year. 

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But beyond gardening we also checked out some of the Pocket Money items.  I like the idea of small toys that are more activity based and not just tiny junk that gets lost in the bottom of toy bins.  I picked out a Ready to Grow Dino Egg that I thought would be really fun for the boys to do together.  They can check back on it over the course of two days and watch it hatch and grow (and then fight over it when it’s hatched!).  We haven’t done this one yet but I think they will love it. 

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Another Pocket Money choice I made was the Glow-in-the-Dark Marine Animals collection.  My idea for these was to get them all charged up and ready to go, and then to let the boys take a “special” bath in the dark (close the blinds, turn off lights, etc.) and drop these into the tub with them.  So fun, right?  They are going to go nuts! 

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Our last Pocket Money selection was the I’m Just A Bit Blank paintable puzzle.  Cullen has always loved puzzles (just like me!) and I think he’ll have a lot of fun with this one.  I’m saving it for a rainy day and thinking up all sorts of fun ideas of puzzles that would be fun to paint together.

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And last but not least, our other Activity Kit was another painting item – the Design Your Own Birdhouse kit!  I love how nicely everything is packaged – these would make for such beautiful gifts 

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I wanted to space out using all of our new things, so I didn’t tear into all of them right away (which was not easy!).  I put a few away in the hall closet, but I couldn’t resist the birdhouse.  After naptime it was gross and drizzly outside, and Cullen’s eyes lit up when he saw the kit!  Graham is really into coloring right now, so I knew he was going to love it too. 

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To avoid mass paint splatter and a brown birdhouse, I got the boys set up to paint next to each other and let them work together to paint one color at a time. 

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They were both SO INTO IT!  It was amazing to watch, and even more amazing to watch them actually work together on something.  Usually Cullen just paints on paper, so it was interesting to watch him approach an object.  He quickly decided he wanted to paint the roof red, and Graham seemed to understand and followed suit (aka copied everything Cullen did, as usual). 

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I have struggled to get Cullen to be more interested in art projects and drawing, and I felt like this activity showed me a different side of his creativity.  I tend to change up the materials, but always suggest we create things on paper.  Now I can see how much better he responds to something 3D that he can hold and manipulate.  I’ll definitely use that going forward, and I’m already planning to go get a few more flowerpots that the boys can paint and then plant together!

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Color by color the masterpiece came together…

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And after setting out to dry for a bit, we all went outside to check out the final product.  I could tell that both boys were so proud and excited, and my heart totally melted over each smudgy swipe from the paintbrushes.

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One of the first things Cullen asked this morning was, “Can we go outside and see if the birds have moved into our house!?”  Looks like I need to invest in some bird food…

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One of the things I am most excited to use Seedling for going forward is for sending gifts.  I love to send themed packages, but it can be hard to come up with all the right little coordinating items.  The Seedling kids and accessories are a perfect solution, and there are so many choices for different ages and interests.

If you are interested in checking out Seedling yourself, they are offering a generous 25% discount to Daily Garnish readers!  Sign up here and use the code SeedlingDaily to receive the discount! 

But wait – there’s more!  We’re also offering a great giveaway as an extra thank you to all of you guys for reading and supporting Daily Garnish and partnering businesses. 

One lucky reader will win a $100 gift card to Seedling!  Click over and browse the Activity Kits and leave a comment with your favorite one!  Winner will be chosen 5/20 (open to US readers only).  Good luckk!

Up next, a recap of our wedding anniversary and Mother’s Day weekend – it was a good one!

This post is sponsored by Seeding.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  As always, thank you for your continued support of Daily Garnish. 

Celebrating Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!!  My favorite thing about Earth Day is that a new Disneynature documentary comes out every year on this day.  This year it is all about monkeys, and I can’t wait to see it.  But if you haven’t seen African Cats – OMG – add it to your queue and get the tissues.  One of the best documentaries ever!

We try to be as “green” as we can all year long, but I am finding that it gets harder and there are more challenges now with young kids.  A few years ago, I shared our system for eliminating paper towels from our life.  I am happy to report that we still use this system, and we have been paper towel-free for close to four years now!

This year, I thought I’d share some of our thoughts on how we’re living a bit “greener” with kids.  And as part of that, I’m also happy to share that this year I’ve been chosen to be part of the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Circle!  We’ve been using Tom’s of Maine products in our home for years, so I’m excited to partner with a brand that I respect and support.  


This year, Tom’s of Maine is celebrating Earth Month through the message “Start young.  Live green.”  I really feel like this is a message that rings true in our household.  As the boys grow and continue to learn and understand more and more, we are trying to teach them about concepts like reducing waste, recycling, composting, donating, and the concept of health in general. 

As far as eliminating waste and reducing junk goes, we try to be relatively minimalist from the start.  I know everyone has a different definition of what that term means to them, so take it with a grain of salt.  I have been to houses where it looks like a toy store vomited in every room, and I’ve been to other houses where kids have very few toys (by choice).  Every family has to find the right balance that keeps the kids and the parents sane (and the budget in line).  And it is SO easy to accumulate tons of STUFF, especially once you add more kids into the mix (must have two of everything!). 

In our house, the strategy is pretty simple – all toys must fit into or on top of this console table in the playroom…

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The fleet of trucks and cars hangs out on top, and the baskets are filled with things like blocks, musical instruments, train tracks, stacking cups, and more.  Whenever we get something new – I make a space for it.  This means either packing away toys that that kids have grown out of, or choosing some things that aren’t played with as much to donate or recycle (depending on the condition). 

Other than the main console of toys, we have the play kitchen – which is still a pretty big hit with both kids. 

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And we also have the fleet of garbage trucks that is too big for any basket or table.  These are played with on a daily basis!

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But outside of the playroom, the boys don’t have toys in their rooms or really anywhere else in the house.  I think they have plenty, but I also don’t think it’s anything too crazy.  Of course we have things like art supplies, books, and puzzles – but I don’t think you can ever have too many of those.  A big part of how we’ve avoided the massive toy explosion is to constantly comb through what we have.  I find that too many toys can actually be really overwhelming, and things get lost and broken when there is too much.  So every few months, I go through the baskets and bins, and I sort and organize what to keep and what can go. 

The gently used toys that are still in decent shape are put in the donation pile – and I see this as a great opportunity to get Cullen (and eventually Graham) involved in giving back.  But I’m definitely guilty of tossing the broken toys and things with missing pieces straight into the garbage.  This year, in order to reduce the number of toys ending up in landfills, Tom’s of Maine partnered with Terracycle to make these awesome toy recycling boxes!

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You can fill the boxes with any of the items listed below, and there is a pre-paid shipping label attached to send it back.  Pretty incredible!

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I went through the toy boxes in our house and came up with a good sized pile of things we never use, or things that were missing pieces.  I got Cullen involved, and of course his first reaction was to tell me that those were all his favorite things and he loved them and needed to keep them.  But once I showed him how he could climb up and help me put them in this giant box, he was much more inclined to help out.  Plus, the kid is obsessed with garbage and recycling, so this was right up his alley.

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He had a lot of fun with it, especially once I explained that the old toys and things would be recycled and turned into things like park benches, playground structures, and other cool things he could visualize. Do you think they would let me donate his Mariners t-shirt?  Because he never. takes. it. off. 

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And I was a happy camper when I went back inside and saw all the old junk no one was playing with out of the toy boxes.  Happiness!!

I love the “Start young. Live green” message that Tom’s of Maine is spreading this year.  Now more than ever – with young kids depending on us to make the healthiest choices for them – I find myself constantly scouring labels, looking at EWG lists and recommendations, and always looking for what feels like the best products for my kids.

Somewhere around Cullen’s second birthday we finally started brushing his teeth with toothpaste (we’d used water up until then).  I remember feeling all panicky and worried about making the wrong choice, as there was a lot of mixed information on things like flouride, dyes and flavorings, etc.  I ended up settling on Tom’s of Maine natural children’s toothpaste, and we’ve been using it now for almost two years.  (It scores a 2 on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics List – with 0 being the best and 10 being the worst!) 

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As we continue to develop and encourage good dental hygiene in the family, there is a whole line of children’s dental products we can use for different ages.  Cullen loves having his own toothpaste, and knows that his has the cool strawberries!

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I didn’t know about the Tom’s toddler training toothpaste back when Cullen was a toddler, but we just started using it for Graham.  I’m excited to have a new option for him, since he is so desperate to do exactly what big brother does – including using toothpaste.

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And of course, there are a million different dental product options for mom and dad too.  Casey and I have been using these for years – they even sell them at Trader Joe’s!

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Something new that I’m excited to try out is the brand new line of kids and baby bath products.  Bath time is a big deal in our house, and we are headed into summer when baths become a nightly necessity (so much sand, sweat, and sunscreen!).  There are a lot of products that claim to be “natural” and “green” and I feel like those terms have been hijacked by marketers in the last few years.  But these products are the real deal, and I will happily suds up my kids with ingredients I like and a brand that I trust.  I also appreciate that they offer fragrance-free options, which is always my preference. 

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So that’s my spotlight on Tom’s of Maine for this Earth Day – from toys to toothpaste!  We are certainly not perfect – far from it – but I like to think that little changes and choices add up over time, and the more I teach my kids about it now, the bigger impact they will have over many, many Earth Days and every-days to come. 

How is your household getting “greener” this year?  Do you do anything special to celebrate Earth Day with your family?

I received the Tom’s of Maine products as part of my Goodness Circle 2015 partnership.  As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.  Thanks for your continued support of me, and of Daily Garnish!

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