August 21, 2015

Aham Prema. Every Mile. A Custom Piece.


"Hi Erica, I love following you on social media. Your jewelry is amazing, but more your commitment to showing up to every moment (whether you look the part or not) and rolling with life as it comes is inspiring. I am running the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon on Sept. 12. The race is significant to me because it will be my first race (and half actually) since I ran the Brooklyn Marathon back in 2013. Since then, I joined the Peace Corps, got sick and was medically separated, gained 30 pounds, and have seen the rough edges of life. I finally have lost most of the weight, am making strides with my running, and slowly finding the courage to be bold and chase dreams. This half really represents this journey for me. I was hoping that you could create a special necklace for the big day. I am giving you free artistic freedom if you are up for it. My only stipulation is that it is under $200."

I received this email from Cara and I was immediately honored, humbled and then nervous. I take my work very seriously, especially when my job is to celebrate someone's hard work or represent their struggles, their strength and courage. I consider the responsibility an honor and always do my best to meet their expectations, and hopefully rise above them.  

I responded to Cara asking for a bit more guidance. Artistic freedom is a wonderful thing but without actually meeting my customers in person, sometimes it's difficult to get them and represent their story.  So I wrote "I know you said you'd like to give me artistic freedom but I find that often, once I start coming up with ideas, my customers bring up elements that they'd like incorporated. So, before I get started, are there any specific ideas you'd like me to incorporate? For example, race logos, etc… "

Cara responded: "I know a lot of artists (read architects) so know it can be frustrating to have limits on your designs. I trust you. I do envision something with a mantra though — I want it to representative of the race and the journey it's taken to get there. Maybe you could incorporate on of the ones I've been using lately (below) but I also believe that mantras can find you so am open to others if you have one you think would fit the design well.
Aham Prema (which is sanskrit for "I am love")
Follow your heart, your mind will follow
I wanna see you be brave
"I had an epiphany on my long run this weekend and would like the mantra to be "every mile becomes a part of me." On this journey I've struggled a lot with regret and things not working out the way I would have liked. I've worked a lot for remember that even if it doesn't come in the packaging I expected, every mile in running and life is moving forward towards my dreams and has brought me to where I am — happy and healthy."

So much inspiration with which to create! I knew Cara liked the heart shape charm and decided to represent Aham Prema and "follow your heart" by engraving the sanskrit words on the heart charm. I added the "every mile becomes a part of me" rectangle in gold, one of my favorite charms. For the race, I thought it might be cool to engrave something representative but not 100% literal, meaning, not the actual race name. I looked at the race logo and saw that it included the Smoky Mountains framed with trees so I worked on an image that incorporated those ideas and that I could engrave on a round charm. This way, we'd have three charms, all different sizes and shapes, to create texture and interest.

The above image is the final necklace and I can honestly say that it's one of my favorite custom pieces ever. I love how the Smoky Mountains came out and am eager to continue down this path, engraving images that represent races or events, instead of the actual titles themselves. What do you think? Like it?

Thank you Cara for honoring me with this job! I had a blast doing it and truly hope you love your necklace. And thank you for giving me permission to share your story. (Note to readers: I never share personal stories or details without first asking permission. Your privacy is important.) Wishing Cara the best of luck in these last few weeks of training and a kick ass race on September 12th!!!

August 20, 2015

Summer Tomato & Ricotta Tart

Christina, my ESD assistant, showed up to work with a box full of tomatoes & peaches this week. Hello summer deliciousness! I've been throwing them into salads, pureeing them into mush for Emmett, and putting them on the grill all week which has made menu planning lots of fun. Robert isn't a huge fan of tomatoes unless they're roasted so yesterday morning, I decided to make something with the rest of the tomatoes that I'd thought he'd really appreciate. A roasted tomato & ricotta tart on a polenta crust. So easy, tasty and beautiful!

Summer Tomato & Ricotta Tart
2-3  Large Juicy Ripe Tomatoes
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Cups Polenta
2 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
Truffle Oil or Truffle Infused Salt (optional but recommended!)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with olive oil. Cut large tomatoes into 1/4" slices and place on the baking sheet. Toss the grape tomatoes on the sheet with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt. Roast for 45 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, oil a 10" tart pan with a removeable base. Prepare the polenta by combining with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the butter, then reduce to a simmer and cook until polenta is thick but spreadable, stirring constantly. Pour the polenta into the prepared tart pan, spread evenly and pop in the oven (where the tomatoes are already roasting) for 20 minutes.

Once the tomatoes are roasted and the crust is baked, remove from the oven and reduce oven to 350 degrees F. Spread an even layer of ricotta over the crust and arrange the tomatoes on top. Place back in the oven, about 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is softened and warmed through. Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil leaves and add a splash of truffle oil or salt before serving. Or you can sprinkle with some freshly ground salt & pepper.

Robert took one bite of this tart, looked up and said "Wow. Good job!" Looks like I'll be making this recipe again soon.





August 19, 2015

A Giveaway Winner & A Touch of Hope for this Mama

When I was pregnant, I engraved an ESD necklace that said "HEALTH JOY LOVE STRENGTH GRACE BEAUTY FAITH MOTHERHOOD " Ha! I'm actually wearing that necklace as I write this blog post and when I put it on yesterday, as Emmett grabbed my hair and tried to pull it off of me with his mouth, I couldn't help but laugh. Given what I now know about motherhood, I probably should've engraved "MOTHERHOOD COFFEE SLEEP PLEASE SHOWER SANITY SLEEP NAP" Don't get me wrong, I love this kid and am so insanely happy that I get to be his mom. But at the same time, motherhood is kicking my ass and leaves me little time to do even the basics like finishing a cup of coffee or showering in the morning. And sticking to a running schedule? Ha! Forget it!
How perfect! I was wrapping up this post, stood up and stepped right into my cup of coffee! Why was it on the floor you ask? Because we had to move our coffee table to block the fireplace so that Emmett wouldn't play with the it. I figured that a picture of the necklace + the spilled coffee might make you laugh while I try not to cry because now I don't have coffee ;) 
Yes, this gets me down once in a while. I'm enjoying not having any races on the calendar for the first time in years but I really miss having goals. And there are mornings I wake up and don't know what to do with myself, the old me battling the realities of this new crazy life. Lately, when I feel overwhelmed or lost, wondering if I'll ever get it all under control again, I take a deep breathe and try to remember that women have been doing this, and excelling at it, for years. I just need to take one day, sometimes one hour or crying fit, at a time and I'll be ok. I think that's why we're all lucky to have so many role models out there in the wonderful world of the internet. When I was pregnant, and since I've had Emmett, I've looked to so many amazing moms I follow on social media as role models. Seeing that they've survived the first years of their kids' lives, and now seem to have their stuff together, gives me the hope I need to get through the tough days. One such mom is Jen C, also known as Moms Gotta Run. When I see Jen online, I think "She's got it together! She's a mom, she's training for NYCM, she rocks... there is hope!"

So, it seems perfect that during this particularly difficult week (hello 9 month sleep regression!), when I asked rafflecopter to randomly select the winner of last week's giveaway, Jen's name popped it. This is a sign, right?!? The universe must be telling me that I too can get through this difficult stage and emerge on the other side with my sanity. In the meantime, I'll continue to turn to moms like Jen to give me the motivation and hope I crave.

Congrats Jen on winning a free entry to the Newport Liberty Half Marathon! This past weekend, Jen ran her second 16 miler in a row in prep for the NYC Marathon. I'm so excited that she gets to add this gorgeous race to her calendar as training for the biggest 26.2 mile NYC party of the year.  Jen also wins a custom engraved necklace by me and I cannot wait to hear what she's thinking for the design! Jen, shoot me an email at erica@ericasaradesigns.com to claim your prizes!
Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Lucky Jen, look at this beautiful course!
(photo courtesy www.50stateshalfmarathonclub.com)

August 6, 2015

Newport Liberty Half Marathon Giveaway

This is the first time in six years, other than when I was pregnant, that I'm not training for a race. Honestly, even when I was pregnant, I had races on the brain and training in my mind. But at this moment, my calendar is empty and although it's liberating, it feels weird.

So when I received an email from the Newport Liberty Half Marathon offering me a free entry, I jumped at the chance to race it! The race will be held on September 20th, and in it's 22nd year, is a USATF certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park. With views of Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano, it sounds like a spectacular opportunity and I so wanted to participate. But then I looked at the calendar and realized with only seven weeks to train, and being not at all in racing shape at the moment, it would be stupid for me to sign up. The last time I ran a half marathon without enough training, I blew out my knee and had to walk much of the race. Seven weeks + full time ericasara.com work + taking care of a 8 month old = not possible to be ready in time. A total bummer but now this race is on my "to do" list for sure!
Beautiful views along the Newport Liberty Half Marathon course. I can't wait to race it one day!
Although I had to turn down the entry, the awesome folks at the Newport Half offered me an entry to giveaway and, given that I love making runners happy, I asked if I could throw a custom engraved necklace into the mix. They agreed. In addition to race entry, the winner will receive a custom engraved ESD necklace. The necklace includes 2 sterling silver tags on a sterling chain. The first tag is engraved with 13.1 on the front and the race logo, date, and your finishing time (if you'd like) on the back. The second tag is engraved with the mantra, word or name of your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you're planning on racing a half in a few weeks, some tips might help, right?

  • Hopefully you already have a strong base. This race is a great way to get that half in before some of the fall marathons like MCM or NYCM. 
  • Stick to your plan! No matter how great you feel, stick to the mileage you have on your schedule and don't add that extra mile or two just because you want to. Those extra miles can add up and cause unnecessary strain. The goal is to get to the start line healthy & happy. Remember that!
  • Eat right. Just because you're running all the miles doesn't mean you can eat all the food. I ran my best races when I was eating vegan and raw because my digestion was in tune and I had insane energy. I'm not saying go vegan, raw or follow any other specific diet. But make sure to get the fuel you need to sustain your workouts as well as your normal daily activity. A cupcake here and there is fine and delicious, but a cupcake every day just because you're in training might not be the best idea.
  • Test your race day fuel BEFORE your race. Nothing new on race day, so test out all those GUs, Chomps, and UCAN during your training runs. This includes specific flavors and caffeine levels. Your stomach doesn't need any surprises on race day! 
  • Have fun! Unless running is your job and winning is how you pay the bills, remember this is supposed to be fun. So try to enjoy your runs, even the long ones that might seem daunting as you head out. They are nothing you can't handle...
  • Which brings me to my favorite tip: have a mantra! "I can handle this", "One mile at a time", "Hills are my b*tch"... whatever gets you and keeps you going when you need it the most. And when those fail and you feel like you can't keep going, take a deep breathe and count to 100. It'll take your mind off the pain and chances are, by the time you get to 100, you'll have run past that wall and forgotten the pain.
Ok, what are you waiting for? Enter the giveaway and get training. Happy running!

June 4, 2015

Capturing Memories with Soundwaves

A few months ago, Emmett started giggling. You would have thought the kid won a noble prize based on how I congratulated him. I clapped, cheered and smiled like a crazy woman. Robert even worried that I might have scared Emmett away from ever giggling again because I was so over the top. When he giggled some more, I captured the sound on my iPhone so I could save the moment. And then, of course, I engraved it on a charm and a new collection was born.
One of Emmett's first giggled, captured on a charm along with his first footprint
I know it sounds so cliche but I can't believe how quickly time is flying. Emmett changes every day and he's an entirely different little boy than he was even two weeks ago. He used to fall asleep in my arms and snuggle as long as I'd let him. These days, he wiggles out and wants to hang out in his crib to fall asleep. I'm learning to enjoy every moment, even the messy stinky ones.

I waited to launch this idea until right before Father's Day because I thought it would be cool to do something new that I thought would really appeal to the guys. Soundwaves in available in necklaces & bracelets, but also in a moneyclip, cufflinks & a keyring. So now your guy can carry his baby's heartbeat or first words around with him with a very special, masculine and one of a kind piece.