April 18, 2015

ESD Gift Wrapping Poll!

Every time a gift giving holiday approaches, I'm reminded that I'm horrible at gift wrapping. At least several orders request gift wrapping and I have to decline because the package would be a complete mess of wrinkled paper with torn edges and visible tape. The horror, I know.

But you know what I can do? I can engrave and I can tie a ribbon. Sounds like a great gift wrapping option to me, right? So just in time for Mother's Day, I'm adding a gift wrap option to ericasara.com. It will cost $6 & will include an engraved brass tag and a ribbon.

I've come up with two ideas but want to offer just one on my website so I could use your feedback. Which do you prefer? If you could take just a minute to vote below, I'll send you a coupon for free gift wrapping on your next order (valid until Mother's Day) as a thank you!

Option 1: Engraved Brass Charm with White Raffia Ribbon
Option 2: Engraved Brass Charm with Purple Satin Ribbon
To vote, leave a comment below with your favorite option and include your email address so I know where to send the coupon code for the free gift wrapping! And while I appreciate any additional feedback you have, please know that developing new concepts takes lots of energy, thought & time. I put a great deal of effort into new offerings and come up with the ideas I feel are best so requests for different ideas are always lovely but ...

The poll will be open until Wednesday evening and we'll start sending coupon codes out Thursday, just in time for Boston Marathon& Mother's Day gifts!

April 17, 2015

Race Recap: Emmaus 4 Mile Classic

Wow, this is my first race recap in a very very long time! And I'm writing it with a smile on my face. Must be a good thing, right?

On Sunday, I ran my very first race as a mom and it was wonderful. The Emmaus 4 Mile Classic is put on yearly by the Lehigh Valley Road Runners. Sunday marked the 38th Anniversary of this race which started and ended at the Emmaus High School, and weaved through a neighborhood of rolling hills.

I signed up for this race a few weeks ago because I felt that to get back into running, I needed something to train for. During my 12 weeks off after Emmett's birth, I couldn't wait to get back to running. But once I was cleared to get in the miles, it was much harder than I anticipated. Finding the time to run was one thing. Finding the energy was another. And when I could find both, my body was only too happy to remind me that I was starting from below ground zero. Post c section & an emergency surgery a week after birth, my body was weaker than it's ever been and every run reminded me of that.  So I signed up for a race and figured that with it on my calendar, I'd have more motivation to get my goal of 4 runs a week done.

I was wrong. Well, sort of. The motivation was there but like I said, the time & energy weren't always available. The weekend before the race, I went out for a 3 mile run and it was hard. Like really, really hard. I blame the wind and the hills, but still, it was discouraging. It left me pretty nervous for the Four Mile Classic with tons of self doubt streaming through my brain. What if I couldn't finish? What if I had to walk? I hate walking during races. What if I finished last? The day before the race, I was in the shower where I do my best thinking, and couldn't get these doubts out of my head. I realized I might need a new mantra during the race... so I headed down to my studio and made a new bracelet to wear. Work in progress... progress would be my focus. At this point, it should be all that matters. My only goal would be to finish the race. I wouldn't care about my pace and I would just listen to my body and stay comfortable enough to finish happy.

The morning of the race was like no other race morning I'd ever experienced. Before baby, a typical race morning involved breakfast in bed, getting dressed and then dancing around my home to loud music getting myself pumped up. But Sunday, I woke early to nurse Emmett, pumped to empty the rest of my boobs so I wouldn't leak (which didn't really help because they filled up halfway through the race. Ouch), changed his diaper, got him dressed and then changed his diaper again, packed his diaper bag and put expressed milk in a bottle in case he needed to eat while I was running. Oh, and somewhere in there I found the time to get dressed too.
Bag full of race gear: Check! Expressed breast milk: Check! Baby: Check!
We arrived at the high school with plenty of time to find parking, get my bib, and hit the bathrooms. We headed out to watch the kid's one mile race and I couldn't help but get excited for when Emmett will be old enough to run. I hope the kid digs it as much as we do! But if not, that's cool too. The kid's race winner finished the mile in 6:01 which was pretty amazing to watch. Some time between arriving and the kids race, I also managed to stuff a banana down my throat.
What do you think kiddo, want to run races when you're old enough? 
And then it was our turn. I headed to the start along with the other runners and was quickly reminded what it's like to run a small race. Back in my NYC days, I ran NYRR races almost every weekend with thousands of runners. Those races were always divided into corrals based on pace. I forgot that this race wouldn't be that way and so I walked to the back of the bunch to start. For one, I didn't want to get in anyone's way with my slow pace. But also, I didn't want to be influenced by the fast runners, going out too fast and burning out quickly. And then we were off!

According to my watch, I started the race at around a 10 minute mile which was right where I thought I'd be. Although I didn't have a time goal, I figured that if I listened to my body, I'd end up with an average pace anywhere between a 9:30 and a 10 minute mile. As you can see on the elevation chart above, the first portion of the race was uphill so I made sure to keep it easy. As other runners past me, including a woman pushing a double stroller (nice job lady!), I let them and kept my steady relaxed pace. Around mile 1.5, the banana I shoved down my throat bit me in the ass. Hello cramps! My stomach was killing me so I focused on my breathing. In deeply through my nose, out slowly through my mouth. Slow and steady. I'd experienced cramps like this in past races and they always forced me to walk but I really didn't want to walk my first race back.

I remembered my race mantra, Work In Progress, and kept going. Breathing through the cramps. With each downhill, I refused to increase my pace too much, knowing that another significant hill was coming up and that I'd need my breath and my energy to climb it. The strategy really worked and I maintained a pretty steady pace for the entire race. I steadily climbed the hill from 1.5-2 and headed back down. At around 2.5, I noticed a big cheer squad up ahead. It was a bunch of young kids with their parents holding signs and I thought "it would be so cool to have a cheer squad like that one day". I could just imagine Emmett holding a sign. And then I got closer, I saw the signs and I realized the cheer squad was for me! I mean, wow! I almost cried. Thank you Sarah & Jessica, the signs & cheering made my day!!!
Cheer squad & picture courtesy of Sarah & Jessica. Thank you guys so much!!!
The cheering & good vibes were just what I needed to finish the rest of the race strong.  Another short uphill and then a recovering downhill and I was headed to the finish line. I looked down and saw my average pace was 9:26.  As I entered the high school parking lot, I heard Robert call my name and spotted him holding Emmett. The moment couldn't have felt better and I crossed the finish line with a giant smile on my face. I looked up to see the clock reading 36:40 and was pretty pleased. Later, when I told Robert about the banana and the cramps, he pointed out that it probably helped me more than hurt me. It forced me to keep my effort easy instead of going too fast and crashing and burning. The cramps kept my ego in check, I stuck to my strategy, and I finished my first race as a mother runner happy. Even better was seeing Robert with Emmett waiting for me and cheering me on. Thank you Robert for being an amazing dad & husband- I love you!!!
Approaching the finish line
Posing with my favorite little guy right after the finish... and before he started freaking out & reaching for the boob. I guess cheering made him hungry!
 A great benefit of small races is finding your crew easily. I reunited with Robert & Emmett, sat on the curb, wiped my sweat off and fed the kiddo, and we were on our way to celebrate with brunch. It was a perfect morning and I couldn't have asked for a better return to racing.

March 3, 2015

Chocolate Chai Walnut Cookies

It seems that my blog has turned into a recipe blog. I'm ok with that. To be honest, I have my hands full with Emmett. It's been tough juggling Erica Sara Designs responsibilities with taking care of a newborn and now an infant. But cooking & baking are my meditation, aside from running, and I can hang with the little guy in the kitchen and tell him stories at the same time. It works.

This is a cookie recipe I've made a bunch of times in the past few weeks. It's super quick, super easy & requires ingredients I always have on hand. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chai Walnut Cookies
1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Baking Cocoa
1 Tsp Chai Spice Mix (recipe follows)
2 Egg Whites
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, baking cocoa & chai spice mix. Add the egg whites & vanilla extra and beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally to incorporate everything. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Scoop the batter with a tablespoon and drop onto your baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool before removing the cookies from your sheet or they will fall apart!

Chai Spice Mix
In a small container, combine
1 Tsp Ground Cardamom
1 Tsp Ground Allspice
2 Tsps Ground Cinnamon
3 Tsps Ground Ginger
Shake well, store & use whenever chai spice is needed!

February 1, 2015

Pancakes With Blueberry Sauce

Emmett  is almost 10 weeks old. I can't believe I gave birth more than two months ago. I'm only now starting to feel like myself again, although a more exhausted and overwhelmed version of me. But it feels good to slowly get back in the swing of things. Although I'm not yet cleared to run, I've been trying to walk at least two miles a day and I've been doing strength training exercises whenever I can fit them in.  I'm also back in the kitchen and that feels good. Cooking and baking have always been a sort of meditations for me and I love that the results also benefit my family because they get to eat the yummies that I make.
In the kitchen, making breakfast for my family. My happy place!
Last week, Robert's folks flew in from Colorado to meet their first grandchild. It was a pretty special week made even better by the family meals we shared around our kitchen table. I grew up  in a home where we sat down to eat as a family almost every night. It's something I've always wanted in my home, for my kids. So even though his diet is all about the boob, Emmett joined us for every meal in his swing. It was wonderful.
Emmett patiently waiting for breakfast to be served
One of my favorite family meals last weekend was Saturday morning breakfast. I was craving pancakes and bacon but halfway through cooking them, I realized that we were out of maple syrup. Remembering  I had a giant bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer, I figured blueberry sauce would have to suffice. Such a tough life, I know. Breakfast was delicious and everyone seemed happy. It's definitely a combo I'll make again and I thought I'd share it with you all since Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. If you need an impressive & delicious Valentine's Day breakfast to impress your love, here it is. Enjoy!
The finished product. So quick, easy & delicious!
Pancakes: I used this recipe and substituted Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour to make them gluten free.

Blueberry Sauce
3 Cups Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (I buy these in bulk at Target. They're delicious!)
1 Cup Orange Juice
3 Tbsp Honey or Agave
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries, the orange juice and the honey or agave. Heat over medium heat until the blueberries start to break apart, stirring occasionally so that the mixture doesn't burn.
  2. Add the remaining blueberries.
  3. Remove about 2 or 3 tbsp of the liquid from the saucepan and place in a small bowl or cup. To that, add the corn starch and mix well.
  4. Add the corn starch slurry back to the saucepan and mix well until thick.
  5. Pour over your pancakes & devour.
We had extra blueberry sauce left over so I stored it in a little tupperware and mixed it into my plain yogurt the rest of the week. So yum.

December 3, 2014

I'm Back!

Yes, I'm back! Not that I really went far.

I'm happy to report that last Tuesday, I gave birth to an amazing little guy. I'm smitten, I'm in love, I'm... I don't know. Is it possible to really describe this feeling with words? I have lots to write about my birth experience and I'm hoping to put together a separate post about that. But in the meantime, I'd love to introduce you to our little man, Emmett Moshe.
Emmett Moshe at exactly one week old. Also in the picture, my coffee! I can drink it again without feeling like my esophagus is going to explode. Hooray!
Since Emmett arrived just in time for Thanksgiving, I was able to take more of a break that I expected/intended to and am so grateful for that. It was amazing to spend time with just him and Robert, experiencing life as a new family and loving each other like crazy. I am a lucky lucky lady and every time I look at my guys, it's easy to remember that.

But 'tis Holiday season and my business won't run itself so, as of yesterday, I'm back in the studio engraving, soldering, tumbling, polishing & shipping! I'm super proud to say that orders haven't been delayed at all and I'm on schedule to continue shipping on time. So for to those of you asking if I'm taking orders, the answer is a happy YES!

I was able to get the gift guide up on the site right before I started labor.

And even added a bunch of new gift ideas to the website that morning
So excited about the new Name Plates, Distance Plates & Intention Plates! All can be personalized and are available as both necklaces and bracelets.
There have been lots of requests for more guys stuff. I'm loving these cufflinks & tie clips for Holiday! Again, totally personalized since I engraved everything to order. Like?
Also, lots of folks have been asking when my order deadlines are so here they are:

Chanukah 1st Night
1st Class Shipping: December 7th
Priority Shipping: December 9th
Priority Express Shipping: December 11th

Chanukah Last Night & Christmas
1st Class Shipping: December 15th
Priority Shipping: December 18th
Priority Express Shipping: December 19th

These dates are subject to change based on workload and first time mom exhaustion factors so of course, place your orders sooner than later! If there are any changes, I'll be sure to post them on the blog, facebook & via twitter.

Questions? Feel free to ask them below in the comments or shoot my team an email at custserv@ericasaradesigns.com and we'll get back to you ASAP!