Thank you, Chicago Color Run 2012, for reminding me that running can actually be enjoyable.

Earlier this month, six of my friends and I made the trek up to one of the coolest cities around and participated in the Color Run. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, it’s a 5K walk/run that blasts you with “paint” (colored mineral powder) as you make your way through the course. That may not sound very thrilling to you, but it sounded like a blast to the 8,000 folks who joined me at the Chicago race. (You can check if the Color Run is coming to your city by visiting its website.)

I was really excited for the race…

…and this is what I looked like in the aftermath.

The weather that morning was absolutely perfect: mid 60s and not a cloud in the sky. We all completed the course and laughed about how completely ridiculous we looked. It took me three days to get all of the green paint out of my ear, and my dear friend Bethany definitely looked like the Incredible Hulk!

Now that I’ve completed my first two 5Ks and met my goal,  I’m trying to decide what physical feat I should tackle next. A 10K seems like the next logical step, but I’m not sure if I love running enough to commit to the training.

For those of you who’ve participated in a 5K: Did your first race fuel your love for running? Were you able to stick with it and continue setting running goals, or did you try another sport/fitness tool? 

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I’ve been MIA in the crafting/decor arena lately. Now that I’ve been in my new rental for approximately six months, everything is finally starting to feel “put together.” The walls are covered with art (with the exception of one or two that need some TLC.) We have enough furniture to fill the space. It’s all coming together very nicely.

Instead of focusing on small projects, I’m trying to put extra cash into my “wish list” fund so that I can finally buy a few large items I really love. I’ve been blessed with lots of awesome furniture hand-me-downs, but I’m itching to buy a few new pieces I can call my own.

I’m not planning on buying anything for another year or so, but here’s what’s on my wish list:

1. A new bed/headboard

I’m currently getting by with a hand-me-down mattress and a simple steel frame from Sam’s Club. I don’t even have a headboard (but you can check out my pseudo headboard here.)

I’ve been drooling over Crate & Barrel’s Colette Bed for years. The nailhead trim is absolutely gorgeous, and it even comes with a matching bench! I’d love to purchase a new bed frame, headboard and mattress when I have enough cash to spare. I think upgrading from a full to a queen will be worth the investment, too.

2. A new couch

My hand-me-down loveseat is cozy, but it barely accommodates two people. I’d love to purchase a full-size couch: maybe something similar to Macy’s Chloe Sofa.

My trusty hand-me-down love seat. It’s small but mighty.

I love this Chloe Sofa from Macy’s. It has a vintage feel without looking too stuffy.

What’s on your wish list? 

I did it! I finally sucked it up and ran my first “official” 5K this weekend.

Lindsey, Jenn, Courtney and me getting ready to run.

Although it wasn’t my best race (that last mile wasn’t pretty,) the experience was incredible. I got to band together with approximately 50,000 men, women and kids to raise money for a breast cancer cure. Oh, and the weather was awesome.

Now I’m even more excited to participate in the Color Run next month.

Two months ago, I decided to light a fire under my anti-running butt and sign up for my first 5K: The Chicago Color Run.

Now that I’m in my third month of training, I must admit that I kinda, sorta enjoy this whole running thing. I even signed up for a second 5K, which I’ll run this upcoming Saturday.

I’m still not a running pro, and I don’t think I’ll ever be a marathoner. Either way, it’s fun to push my own limits and use running as an excuse to enjoy this gorgeous spring weather.

In case you’re feeling inspired and want to train for a 5K, I’m happy to share my three-month running plan with you. I’ve never been a runner beforeand I found this plan very achievable. I needed to take it very slow in the first month, especially since I have an injury-prone knee.

It’s difficult to stick to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday schedule, but I try my best to get four days in per week.

First Month

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday- 1-1.5 miles

2 full miles last Sunday

Second Month

Monday, Wednesday, Friday- 2 miles

Sunday- 3-4 slow miles

Third Month 

Monday and Friday- 2 miles

Wednesday- 3 slow miles

Sunday- 4 slow miles

Running friends: What training plan did you follow to run your first 5K? Was it successful? 

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday that I was a stressed college senior attempting to balance classes, an internship and a post-grad job search without losing my sanity. (Seniors: It worked out just fine for me, and you’ll survive, too!)

As graduation nears, public relations students are asking to connect via LinkedIn and reaching out regarding potential job opportunities. These recent activities reminded me that LinkedIn serves as an incredibly powerful tool for job seekers, but forgetting proper etiquette can hurt your chances of forming relationships and finding your first post-grad gig.

So without further adieu, I’d like to share LinkedIn dos and don’ts geared toward career-hungry college seniors:

Do: Share a personal message when asking to connect, especially if you do not know the contact well.

I cannot stress this enough. Unless you’ve known the professional for years or work together on a regular basis, you should always include a personal message when connecting via LinkedIn.

See? LinkedIn's default message isn't personal. It's your job to jazz it up.

LinkedIn’s personal message feature lets you build relationships and start the conversation, so use it to your advantage.

  • Let’s face it: Professionals aren’t super humans, and they don’t remember every single face and name they meet. If you haven’t chatted with the professional for several months, do the PR pro a favor by reminding him/her how you met.
  • If you’ve never met the professional before, explain why you want to connect with him/her.

Many professionals will not accept your connection if you don’t give them a reason to do so. It only takes a few extra minutes to write a personal message, so do it. A little effort goes a long way, my friends. (Did I mention you should always proofread?)

Don’t: Cut straight to the chase.

I can’t believe I’m stating the obvious, but I’m afraid I must.

If you’re a graduating senior, we know you’re looking for a job. But if you approach a professional and ask him/her about job opportunities and nothing else, you’re going to burn the bridge.

It’s fine to mention that you’re job searching and looking for opportunities, but remember that our field is about relationships. Take time to build connections before asking professionals to help you find a job.

I’m willing to help anyone who takes time to connect and build a relationship with me, and I know my colleagues feel the same way. So reach out. Learn about the professional’s current responsibilities. Ask for job search advice. Seek on-the-job tips from him/her.

Don’t: Connect your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

Unless 70 percent of your tweets focus on industry-specific links, sending tweets to your LinkedIn feed isn’t a savvy idea. If you tweet several times per day, you’re flooding your contacts’ LinkedIn feeds with information that may not be relevant.

As a student, do you really want your LinkedIn network to have direct access to what you’re eating for dinner that night? Do you want your drunken Thursday night tweets showing up on their LinkedIn feeds at 7 a.m. Friday morning? (Drunk tweets and private accounts are another blog post for another day…)

Do give yourself the option to share relevant tweets with your LinkedIn network by adding the “#in” hashtag to your tweets. If you’re not sure how to enable this feature, check out Twitter’s tutorial. 

Do: Fill out your entire profile.

I know recruiters who do more than half of their scouting through LinkedIn. Use this to your advantage by making it easy for them to find you.

Fill out your title. Add your industry. Write a short, concise summary using strategic keywords. Choose your skills and expertise tags.

Professionals: What advice would you offer to graduating seniors? Can you share some best practices?

This post was inspired by Faye’s LinkedIn etiquette post. Check it out and learn how to be on your best LinkedIn behavior. 

I’ve lived in Columbus, Ohio for almost two years now, and I must say: Spring makes me fall head-over-heels for this city. The flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, the Jeni’s line keeps getting longer… you get the point.

Isn't Columbus gorgeous?

March’s higher-than-average weather proved incredible, but April isn’t living up to my expectations. The chilly temperatures and dreary skies that plagued Columbus throughout the past few weeks forced me to take matters into my own hands and bring the outdoors inside.

Since I lack a green thumb, I immediately gravitate toward cacti and succulents. They require little water or care, which works well for my less-than-admirable gardening skills.

I purchased a planter at my local home improvement store (approximately $14) and chose one with a hole at the base (for proper drainage.)  I filled it with three plants ($3-4 each,) and my mom was kind enough to let me use some rocks and premixed potting soil for free.

The longest I’ve kept a plant alive was approximately two years, so let’s see how long these puppies will last! I put them in front of a west-facing window for optimal afternoon sunlight.

Feeling inspired? One of my favorite blogs, The Nester, offers several rockin’ posts about using plants indoors. Part four of her series deals specifically with terrariums.

I haven’t owned a headboard in years, and I’m waiting until I can afford a queen bedroom set before purchasing one. In the meantime, a reclaimed storm window serves as my pseudo headboard.

Not everyone can say they own a reclaimed window, so I’m pretty darn proud of mine. Its bright white paint and shabby chic charm brighten my bedroom, and the wires hanging across it provide endless decorating opportunities. I experimented with clipping Instagram photos (I use PostalPix to print them, in case you’re wondering) and paper shapes to the “headboard,” but this approach wasn’t cutting it.

Pinterest led me to some eye-catching homemade garlands, which were made with fabric, paper and twine. I found several gorgeous fabric buntings on Etsy, but they were out of my price range. I decided to put matters in my own hands and create a DIY bunting.

I kicked off the project by heading to fabric.com. My duvet cover looks like a hydrangea garden threw up on it (in the best way possible!,) so I wanted to stay away from floral prints. I found some beauties and ordered the swatches. (Swatches were only $1.75, so ordering several prints = easy on the wallet.)

Once my fabric arrived, I got to work. I cut most swatches into squares (approximately 3″x3″) and made the rest into long, thin strips.

I tied the strips directly to the wire and used double-sided tape to adhere the bunting “flags” to it.

And voila! I absolutely love the finished product. It’s playful, fun and perfectly shabby chic.

If you’d like to create our own bunting, you could hot glue the fabric to twine. A Beautiful Mess Blog offers some great ideas for making your own garlands, too.

Confession: I’m a terrible photographer.

My j-school education taught me the basics (like lines and rules of thirds,) but photography is one of those talents I may never possess. I truly admire those who can capture everyday happenings in unexpected ways.

Despite my faults, Instagram (available on iPhone; coming to Android) knows how to make the most of my photography-challenged ways, bringing mundane moments  to life through filters.

Here’s some of the photos I snapped recently.



A look I’m absolutely loving: Maps that are cut into sections and framed.

Framed maps are a simple, affordable (in most cases) way to bring your personality into a room. You could frame a map of your childhood neighborhood. Or your favorite vacation spot. Or the city where you met your significant other. Or one that’s just plain pretty.

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What do you think? Would you use (or have you used) a map as decor? 

Around this time last year, I made a feeble attempt to become a running fiend. Several months and one knee injury later, I was back to my anti-running ways.

Until now.

I am beyond excited to say that I’m officially signed up for the 2012 Chicago Color Run! I’m hoping its short distance (5K) and gorgeous location (I couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities,) paired with my love for neon colors and need for moral support (several of my closest friends are running the race, too,) will create the perfect combination.

My *official* personal training begins this week, so please wish me luck. Believe me; I’ll need it!

Running fanatics: What tips can you share with this first-time 5K runner? (For example: What should I eat? What are the best warm ups in town? If you dealt with a knee injury, how did you overcome it?)