October 11, 2016

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

First comes Fall, then comes Holiday season. In our home that means, guests guests guest which means testing out tons of recipes I'll get to serve them. This week I made Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal and it was delicious. It's going on my recipe list for this season's guest for sure! 
Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a bread pan.

In a large bowl beat:
1 1/3 Cup Pumpkin Pie Filling (Yes, the stuff that comes in a can with all of the spices already in there)
2/3 Cup Milk (I used Almond. You can use whatever you'd like)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Oil (I used Coconut)
1 Egg

Mix in:
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 tsp Salt

Bake in prepared bread pan for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before you invert the pan to remove it. Slice and enjoy.

It's delicious heated in a bowl, with a splash of milk around it. I served topped with slivered almonds and chopped apples. 

May 16, 2016

The Newport 10K Recap: Ouch

The Newport 10K in Jersey City, where do I start? Such a great morning, a beautiful morning, a painful morning, a disappointing morning. This race was going to be another "comeback." I thought my life was finally in a place where I could follow a structured training plan, I was ready to get back in shape, ready to run strong again. And then life happened and I let my training fall apart.

I knew I was going into this race undertrained and so I re-set my expectations. Between a 17 month old who thinks 4am is a proper time to wake every morning and a really successful Mother's Day season (thank you US Weekly!), I often had to choose between sleeping, working and training. I chose work. It's not like I could tell customers "Hey, sorry you didn't get your order but I have a 10K in a few weeks and I needed to run." I think my schedule as a mom/entrepreneur/runner deserves its own post so I won't go into crazy detail here but let's just say that I can't do it all. The weeks leading up to the race I often said that I'd never been so exhausted in my entire life and something had to give. So I put serious training on the back burner and did whatever I was able to fit in.

The night before the race I realized I hadn't even looked at the course, hadn't put together my breakfast plan for my 4:30am wakeup, hadn't even looked at the weather. But I had prepared breakfast for Emmett, his mid-morning snack to bring along, charged the ipad in case he was a disaster in the car and we needed it for emergency relief, packed his diaper bag, a carrier, and his stroller with rain cover. I laughed at myself. Race prep really has changed, hasn't it!

Race morning. 4:30 am wakeup, coffee, breakfast, bathroom, get dressed, get the kid up and dressed, pack the car and head out the door with Robert and Emmett. Picked up my bib, did the whole pre-race picture thing, and lined up at our intended pace group with Ashley and Fiona. I was excited to run with these two again, almost a year after we raced the Mini 10K together. I knew they'd stick by me and keep me going, and since Ashley gave birth just two months prior, she assured me there'd be no pressure to pick up the pace.
Pre-race photo opp with my little guy
The race through Jersey City was beautiful. Aside from the giant roadkill (what was that?!?) just a few minutes into the start, it was lovely. We got a tour of the area, shops here and there, cute brownstone lined streets with parks scattered throughout. But there were also plenty of potholes, it was a hot hot morning and some of the black paved areas didn't help our cause (so so hot). At the end of mile 2 I thought, "that was just two miles???" From there, every mile felt like two. I wasn't wearing a watch so I wasn't 100% sure of our pace but I knew it wasn't fast (for us) at all. Based on the time clocks, I could estimate we were probably running an average of a 9:45 pace which should have felt calm and easy for me. Instead I doubted I could keep it up. I spent the first two or so miles of the race chatting with Ashley & Fiona about motherhood, breastfeeding, menstrual cycles and sex after pregnancy (apologies to those around us who might not have been as interested in those topics) but my mile 3, their easy conversational pace became my "I can't talk right now I'm trying to breathe" pace.
Early in the race before reality hit.
The cheers here and there helped. We spotted Danielle and Amelia cheering and it was great to see friendly faces, they certainly put a smile on mine. But by mile 4 I felt my fingers swelling and my head started pounding. I was dehydrated and the tiny sips I was talking at water stops weren't helping much. My legs felt so heavy, like I had lead in my running shoes. You know that feeling during mile 18 of a 20 mile run when you're so depleted and don't know if you can keep going but want to push through? That's how I felt and it was a humbling experience. I slowed down a bit, hoping Ashley & Fiona were ok with that and in step, they slowed down too and I was so grateful. Mile 5 felt like an eternity but we were approaching the water and the beautiful skyline. I kept repeating what Robert said to me during a difficult run in Montana last summer: "It's nothing you can't handle" and pushed myself to keep going, strong and steady. I kept telling myself I could handle just another mile. If I could handle more than 20 hours of labor, I could handle less than 10 more minutes of running. I told myself that this was the wakeup call I needed. That I'm not invincible, that if I wanted something I needed to start working for it again. I told myself that starting Monday, I would find a way to get back into shape and I wouldn't take my fitness for granted. And then I relaxed, took a moment to look up and admire the beautiful NYC skyline and CRASH BAM OUCH.

I remember feeling my foot hitting something, feeling my body flying forward and my brain screaming "find a way to stop this fall"... and then the feeling of the skin coming off my knee, my shoulder sliding across the pavement and the left side of my head slamming into the ground. My friends tried to get me up but my knees were screaming and all I could keep thinking was "I slammed my head. My head, the ground." I think that's when all the emotions built over the past few weeks came pouring out and I began sobbing. I let people believe that I was crying because I was hurting but in reality, I just needed an emotional release. I was disappointed in myself for not being better prepared, frustrated that I never feel like there's enough time to get it all done, angry that I'd dragged my family out of the house at the a$$ crack of dawn to drive almost two hours for a race that I'd totally messed up. I let myself have a pity party and honestly, it felt good. I felt weak and humbled, like I needed to lean on others for a few minutes and weirdly enough, I think I needed that.
Once the paramedics cleaned me off and bandaged me up, Ashley and Fiona suggested we just walk to the finish line but we were about a quarter of a mile away. I didn't want to watch everyone else run by, I wanted to run with them. So we did. We ran, more like jogged, to the finish line and completed the 10K. And the cool part? Just moments after we crossed, I heard the race announcer announcing this contest and heard "Erica Sara Designs" over the loudspeaker. Ahhhh! I was able to forget about the blood running down my leg for a second!


Share your story and a photo using the hashtag #WhyIRun and #Newport10K on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook before midnight Wednesday night. One winner will be selected at random and notified via direct message on Monday, May 23rd. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Erica Sara Designs.

Still plenty of reasons to celebrate.
So, that's my  short and not so sweet recap of the glorious Newport 10K. I feel oddly simultaneously happy and disappointed with my race. It felt great to be back at a race again and so nice to run with my friends. But obviously, it didn't go as planned and even more upsetting is that I didn't get to connect with so many friends I'd hoped to see there.

A major thank you to Fiona & Ashley for being the most awesome #momsquad this mother runner could ask for. Seriously ladies, thank you for sticking with me and picking me back up when I was a giant heap of tears. And of course thanks to my husband Robert who not only understands why I'd want to drive almost 2 hours to a 10K but supporting it and encouraging it 100%.

Next up is the NYRR Mini 10K in NYC on June 11th. I took yesterday off just to be sure that everything was ok with my knee but started logging miles again this morning. Between now and then I have Father's Day orders, an exciting & significant race order to fill, and my holiday look book to put together so I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic. I just want to feel better during that race than I did this weekend. That's my goal!

Who raced Newport 10K? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the race so leave a comment below letting me know how it went or a link to your recap if you wrote one!

March 24, 2016

Newport 10K Training: Week 1 in progress

Is it just me or do treadmill runs seem so difficult that they make the outdoors feel easy. I just hit the pavement for three miles in this gorgeous Spring weather and I felt like I was flying!

Today is day four of my official Newport 10K training. I found this great 8-week training schedule online for advanced beginners and thought, “hey, THAT I can do.” (FYI, I have no idea where this training plan originated and I’d love to give the writer credit where credit is due so feel free to point me in the right direction.) As I complete each day, I’ll be filling in the calendar with images of my workouts, sort of like a visual diary. It’ll be fun to look back to see where these two months will have taken me.
Monday: Rest day so I took Emmett on an hour walk, carrying him in the Ergo most of the way. We walked to a neighborhood farm to hang with some chickens and turkeys, and chatted with the local farmers. 

Tuesday: When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I actually dragged my butt out of bed and hit the treadmill for my 3 miles. I'm proud of myself for this because after many sleepless nights (a one-year-old with an upper respiratory infection will do that to you), I was so tempted to hit snooze. But I got up, got the miles in, showered and put on real clothing all before 6 a.m. Wooohoo! So from now on, Tuesday runs will either be before Emmett wakes or stroller runs. 

Wednesday: 45 minutes on the elliptical and then 15 minutes of free weights. I love the elliptical. Does that mean I'm crazy or something?

Thursday (TODAY): Schedule called for 2.5 miles but that felt like peanuts and I really wanted to enjoy this beautiful weather so I made it 3. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day so I’m planning on stretching and enjoying it. It feels good to be training with a schedule again. Since my son was born, I haven’t been very good about sticking to training plans and, as a result, my running and overall fitness have definitely suffered. I think the most important thing is that I picked a realistic plan – one I can make the time to do. Between motherhood and work, it’s been hard making running a priority but I finally realize that I need to find a way to make it one. That’s another post for another day.

And now it’s time to announce the winner of the Newport 10K giveaway {insert drum roll here}. Congrats, Josephine! Please shoot me an email at erica@ericasaradesigns.com so I can send you your race entry and your $40 EricaSara.com gift certificate.

Thanks for stopping by to read about my training. Any thoughts on my schedule? Tips you have or favorite cross training ideas you think I could add in? I’d love to hear them so please leave a comment below!

March 10, 2016

Newport 10K Giveaway and $40 to spend at ESD

Last weekend, Emmett and I cheered on Robert as he ran his 56th marathon in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As usual, we had a blast spotting him at several spots on the course, cow-belling, and making new friends with fellow spectators. And as usual, marathon morning got me all nostalgic for the days when I used to wake at the crack of dawn for a chance to race too. It also got me psyched for the Newport 10K in May and logging some beach miles here in South Carolina.
A 3 mile run along Myrtle Beach this week felt great and was a great confidence boost. Thanks for spotting me from our balcony Robert!
On May 14th, I'll be racing the 6.2 miles along the Hudson River Parkway in Jersey City. When I lived in NYC, the Hudson River Parkway paths near my apartment were my favorite long run routes and just thinking about those running with those views again gives me goose bumps. Known as the fastest course in the tristate area, this race might just give me that chance for a post-baby 10K PR if I put in enough work and training. May weather, post race parties with tons of raffles, a fierce elite field, views of the Statue of Liberty, and having my son and husband there to cheer me on. I'm excited! I have the opportunity to give away a free entry to the race as an official blog sponsor and figured I'd throw in an Erica Sara Designs gift certificate too. After all, you'll need a piece of jewelry to celebrate your race, right? Details are below. Good luck and I hope to see you at the race!
What:  Entry to the 13th Annual Newport 10K Race + a $40 Gift Certificate to ericasara.com!

When: Saturday, May 14th, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.

Where:  Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310

More Background:   
Known as the fastest course in the tristate area, the Newport 10,000 is a 10K road race along the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City’s community of Newport. Recreational and elite runners will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level for their share of $15,400 in prize money.

The USA Track & Field-certified course is comprised of flat and local roads that interweave along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and provide spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Racers have access to four water stops during the race, as well as clocks at each mile.

The race will be followed by Newport’s annual Post-Race Party, which is going to feature a live DJ, refreshments and prize drawings. Win NY Mets tickets, NY Red Bulls Tickets, a 1-hour massage or several restaurant gift certificates!

Proceeds will be donated to the Barnibas Health, Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional referral teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care for women and infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Event Website: newport10k.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 11, 2016

Emmett's Birth Story & Finding Me Again

2015 was a big year for me. It was the year I learned how to be a mother. It feels funny writing that because I never expected to have to "learn." I've always wanted children and at some point in my life, I thought I wanted as many as six. I always thought motherhood would come naturally to me. What's there to learn right? So when I had Emmett, I was in for quite a shocker.

Emmett was born 2 weeks past his due date and by that time, I was so ready to give birth. I had a detailed birth plan, I was practicing my birth yoga religiously, the nursery was ready, I was ingesting red leaf tea and primrose oil to encourage labor, I had my hospital bag packed, and Robert and I had even picked out what we wanted Emmett's first song to be. Ha! Was I na├»ve. Emmett refused to come and I had to be induced. I was in labor for 25 hours, 5 of which I pushed with everything I had, but Emmett was completely stuck and at 5:45pm on November 25th, 2014, our son was born via C-section. My birth plan had failed and I felt I had failed. While I lay on the operating table with my insides exposed, Robert, who had promised me he would not leave our son alone for even a second and would try to do skin to skin as best as he could, left with Emmett to the nursery. In the nursery was where Emmett would hear his first song, All About The Bass. UGH. That wasn't what we'd picked for him! How could his first song be so out of our control?!? As it turned out, we should've realized at that point that Emmett's first song would be similar to many of our parenting experiences- out of our control no matter what we did.
Robert promised me he'd do skin to skin but the hospital wouldn't let him so he insisted on holding Emmett's hand and never let go.
Ten days after Emmett was born, my family was at our home to meet our newest member and I wasn't feeling too hot. While everyone was sitting at the dining table enjoying lunch, I was upstairs in my bathroom watching pus & blood pour from my C-section incision. I took a deep breath, tried not to pass out, and grabbed my phone to call my doctor. Minutes later, half my family left while my parents, Robert & Emmett piled into our car and headed to the hospital. Once again, I felt like I was letting my son down. Not only wasn't I able to give him the birth I so desperately wanted, at 10 days old I'd now be subjecting him to all the gross germs of a hospital emergency room. Why did we bring him? Because I was breastfeeding and he couldn't be away from me for more than two hours at a time. Hours, tests, an MRI and an ultrasound later, my doctor confirmed that I had an infection and at 2am I was rushed to surgery.
My dad caring for Emmett in the emergency room while I underwent testing.
It turns out that when an old incision is opened, it can't be closed. After surgery I was left with an open wound that would have to be closed with a special portable vacuum. I was put on strong antibiotics to continue fighting the infection and so I wasn't allowed to breastfeed. I had to pump and dump. My parents rushed to the store to buy Emmett 5 different kinds of bottles and formula for sensitive stomachs to be safe. Again, I felt like I failure. I couldn't breastfeed my son and because I had an open wound, I wasn't allowed to even lift him. Robert and my parents took turns sleeping at the hospital so that I could keep Emmett there with me. I remember Robert sleeping on the floor of my hospital room, waking up and going to his first day back at work after paternity leave. He didn't tell anyone what was going on because we wanted our privacy and sometimes having lots of people asking questions just makes it all more difficult. After work that day, he came right back and I remember thinking he looked so tired and sad that Emmett & I had to be there. My heart hurt.
After Robert's first day back at work, he came straight to the hospital to be with me and Emmett.
Five days later I was allowed to go home, attached to a vacuum, with instructions not to climb stairs, clean, lift my son, shower or leave my home. A nurse would come to my home every other day to change my bandages and clean out my vacuum. Publicly I was a happy new mother, juggling my new responsibilities with keeping my business going strong through the holiday season. In private, I was a mess. I was in pain, sleeping tons and unable to move around my own home, this wasn't how it was supposed to be. I went off the antibiotics and struggled to transition Emmett back to breastfeeding. The ESD Love Note necklace was featured in Better Home & Gardens and I had orders to fill, customers to make happy, a business to run. I have no idea what I was thinking when I decided I didn't need to take maternity leave. Next time, I'm taking leave for sure. Thankfully, I have an amazing mother who took an additional month off of work to stay and take care of us. I don't know what we would've done had she not been there and I know I'm so lucky that Emmett got to spend that time with his grandma. But part of me is still so sad that I didn't get to be his mother 100% of that time. I've spent so much of my energy since then trying to make it up to him, making sure he knows how much I love him.
Finally home but attached to a vacuum. You can see the hose coming out of my shirt in the picture. Excuse the wrong date stamp on my mom's camera!
We were so lucky to have my mom taking care of us for all of those weeks.
It may seem weird that I'm writing all of this now, almost 15 months after Emmett was born. But without putting it out there, it feels that a piece of me is missing in this puzzle and it's hard to move forward with writing my story. Every time I sit down to write, I feel tangled in this story and don't know where to start. So maybe now that I've shared it, I can move forward.  Once my wound closed, I was able to take on mothering full time and holy sh*t it's been a wild ride. Like I wrote in the beginning of this post, 2015 has been the year of learning how to be a mother. Learning how to read my son, to understand why he won't sleep through the night, why he won't eat this or will eat that. How to handle his temper tantrums, to teach him new words or how to express himself. And I'm learning who I am now. Before we had Emmett, I was Erica the runner, designer, business owner, artist, music lover, dance party starter, shower singing wife to Robert. But since Emmett, I am a mom first and there have been moments when that's been difficult to navigate. There are times when being a mom has felt second nature but so often it's been a struggle. I used to wake in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, and start my day by answering ESD emails. But I can't do that when Emmett wakes me at 4am and demands my attention. Now my dance parties are with my son and to be honest, they're amazing. Watching him clap, stomp his feet and try to raise the roof is often the best part of my day. And watching my son grow is helping me accept that I haven't been a failure, I just don't have the control I once had and that's normal.

So I spent 2015 learning how to be mother and I'm going to spend 2016 finding me again, in my new context, my new world. I'm trying to teach myself how to do it all, but I find that I no longer believe in balance. Instead, I'm learning to let each part of my life take over fully when it demands my attention. When Emmett is with me, I'm 100% mom. When he's with Robert, or at daycare where he spends two days a week, napping or sleeping, I get to be a business owner and part time mom (let's be honest, moms never really turn that part of them off). That means I may not get to add that new style to my website the moment I think of it, or email that customer back five seconds after I get their message, but it lets me divide my time so I feel more in control. Like I said, I'm still figuring it all out. I don't have all the answers yet.