Color Vibe 2013

On September 28, I had the wonderful opportunity to run in the Color Vibe 5k of Charleston, WV, supporting the Special Olympics. I ran by myself and still had some great interactions and a really fun time with my husband and daughter afterwards.

The Color Vibe goes all throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. If you sign up beforehand, it only costs $40 including a shirt, sunglasses and color packets, and even if you wait until the day of, it’s just an extra $10.

The Color Vibe benefits different local charities and non-profit organizations in each city. The only wishy-washy thing I can come up with for this run is that there’s no set percentage of proceeds I can find that go to the charities or organizations the Color Vibe teams up with. Everything I’ve read says that a fairly small percentage of the proceeds actually go to the charity partner. On a positive note, a percentage (whatever it may be) does go to the charity partner, and this particular 5k is a simple, fun, colorful run for all ages and types of people.

I would highly encourage those who are looking to have a good time or who are just starting out to participate in a Color Vibe 5k closest to you. It’s well worth it, and my family had a great time.

You can visit the Color Vibe website here, and below are some pictures of our experience at the Color Vibe in Charleston!

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17 Reasons Fall is the Loveliest Season

Fall1. Sweaters, leggings, scarves and boots become acceptable attire.

2. Decorating is simple because you can use items that are literally found right outside––leaves, pumpkins, logs, etc.

3. Everything has pumpkin, nuts or cinnamon added to it, and it tastes and smells delicious.

4. Hot coffee and tea don’t just taste good or help you wake up or get relaxed. In the Fall, they comfortably warm you up.

5. The colors––need I say more? Beautiful, warm … the colors.

6. You can go outside in comfy clothes and not end up sweating, needing a cold shower.

7. After intense workouts or activities, you can sit outside for a few minutes and cool off. Best feeling ever.

8.  You can leave the windows open all day, smell the fresh air and have next to nothing to pay on your electric bill.

9. School festivities are starting and the holidays are right around the corner. It’s a happy, bustling vibe.

10. A hot cocoa and movie day is actually excusable during cooler Fall afternoons and evenings.

11. [This one’s for all the pet owners out there] You can actually put a cute bandana or light jacket on your pet and be able to justify it with the slightly cooler weather.

12. Television’s primetime Fall line-up is back on, and we can finally watch the premieres to the finales that left us high and dry all summer.

13. Cuddling up with a blanket is the absolute best when Fall rolls around. It’s not too hot like in summer, and it’s not a necessity like in winter when you’re only using a blanket because you’re freezing your toes off.

14. Candles add just the right mood, cozy smells and tiniest bit of warmth to your home.

15. Football is back and your fantasy football league can begin!

16. Barbecuing, tailgating, camping and spending quality time outside in general is more comfortable and enjoyable.

17. Fans legitimately make a room cooler instead of just blowing around hot air.

What do you love about Fall?

6 Tips for Staying Organized with Tiny Tot(s)

I think every mother can share the feeling of finally getting your little one(s) to sleep and walking out of their room to see the rest of your home must’ve been hit by a tornado that just blasted through. It happens to every single one of us. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand a mess numerous messes. I understand there are times and places to get messy or to make a mess, but feeling overwhelmed because your entire home is a mess and you’re going to spend a large chunk of time cleaning it is completely different. So, to (almost) completely eliminate this frustration from my life, I’ve come up with a few tips for staying organized throughout the day and hopefully avoiding the binge cleaning three hours before someone comes over.

My first two tips are adopted from a wonderful book recommended to me by my sister-in-law called The Happiness Project.

1. If you can do it in a minute or less, do it right then! There are little messes and to-dos we pass by throughout the day and think, “Oh, I’ll just do it later.” If each of those things take a minute to do and you find 10 oh-i’ll-just-do-it-laters, you just made a 10 minute chunk of things you’ll have to do later. On top of that, you’ll be less likely to do it, because there will be way more to do. If you see a pan sitting on your stove, a group of toys on the floor or walk by the laundry room knowing there’s a load sitting in the washer, take literally ONE minute and do it. It will stop you from accumulating things to do later, and it’ll be one less thing you have to worry about.

2. Have a tidy-up session before you go to bed. If you’re like me, you have a hard time telling your body it’s time to shutdown and go to bed. If you’re not like me, you might fall asleep on the sofa before you even make it to bed. Either way, if you implement this time into your routine before bed, it will do two things: Get the remainder of your to-dos out of the way, leaving you to wake up in a refreshed and clean home AND possibly get your body into a routine that will start to tell your mind when it’s time for bed.

3. Create decor out of toys or items that would normally just cause a mess. Take the toys and things you normally would hide or store away day after day and display them. It’s fun for the kids to have their toys on display and available whenever they want to play with them, but it also creates less work and easier access for you.

In the picture on the left, the bath toys are displayed right next to the tub versus having to get on the floor and dig under the sink to get them out. In the pictures on the right, I just used the bottom shelf to display some of my daughter’s “cooler” looking toys instead of leaving items she could break or having to continuously pull her away from the shelf.

4. Create an organization center to make communication better and to cutback on forgetfulness. Before children are thrown in the mix, having everything under control and remembering dates/to-dos is a breeze. However, once you have a family, the part of your brain that had control over everything is now just trying to control day-to-day with the little one(s). Create a board or calendar next to the refrigerator or front door where you’ll constantly see it and keep every little thing you can think of on it. This way you, and anyone else in the house for that matter, can remember important dates and events, have a physical list of things that need to get done, see the mail and so on. It’s one of those things that, once it’s set up, takes a minute or less. If you think of something or make plans, go write it on the board.

Our family organization center.

Our family organization center.

5. Don’t let the time consuming chores get backed up. This one is the hardest for me because the most time consuming chore and the chore I hate the most are one and the same: Laundry. One time after getting caught up on all my laundry, probably at 2 in the morning, I decided I never wanted to do binge laundry (or any time consuming chore) again. So, when there’s one (yes, ONE) load of laundry that’s accumulated, I do it––no waiting, no putting it off, do it. I can throw it in the wash in a minute or less and same with changing it over, then I can sort and put the clothes up during my tidy-up session before bed. This way, I don’t end up doing more than one load of laundry in a day, it takes me maybe 10 minutes altogether, there’s no frustration trying to find or sort through anything, and I can honestly say I don’t feel like I have to do laundry that often anymore. Laundry is my best example, but this rule should apply to anything that’s time consuming or can easily be put off and get backed up. It’s better to take a few minutes on separate occasions throughout the week than having to take hours at one time.

6. Declutter your home. Studies show when you live in a clean, organized environment, you feel better and you’re inclined to get more done. Take a  day, weekend or even a day each week until it’s done to tackle decluttering your home. This one is time consuming, and a lot of you won’t do it, I understand. I always wanted to declutter and simplify my surroundings but just never made the time for it … until I had to move. And I don’t mean move a room full of stuff from your dorm to a one bedroom apartment, I mean move an entire family and household FULL of clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, decorations, pictures and on and on and on. Something like that can really make you reconsider what you need and what you don’t.  After a couple months of living in our new house, it was time to get organized for good. I started by sorting through everyone’s clothes and getting rid of every single item that wasn’t being worn. I then organized all the cabinets, storage, under-the-sinks and junk drawers with either labeled containers, tiny corner shelves or small storage boxes and threw out all the things we never used. Any paper work or mail sitting around was filed into folders and for any toys or items that float through the house, there is a designated spot for them when they’re not in use. There are tons of helpful tips and ideas for decluttering, but that’s a whole different blog. In a nutshell, downsize, get rid of anything if you haven’t used it in the past year and organize the items you have left. 

Top left; My overflowing mess of a closet. Bottom left: The clothes I donated. Right: Afterwards.

Top left; My overflowing mess of a closet.
Bottom left: The clothes I donated.
Right: Afterwards.


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Rattles and Heels

How to Put Your Pinterest Addiction to Good Use

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m addicted to Pinterest: My name is Tessa Shull and I’m a pinoholic. Surprisingly, I really do actually use a large amount of the things I pin on Pinterest. [GASP]. It’s true.

I believe that if you enjoy something and let it consume time in your everyday life, you better be able to do one of two things with it:

1. Enjoy or use it socially, whether that means with family, friends, kids, gatherings, students, etc.


2. Put it to good use, and that can mean bettering your home, health, finances, relationships, career, self and so on.

A homemade meal I found on Pinterest. Simple, affordable, healthy and delicious.

A homemade meal I found on Pinterest. Simple, affordable, healthy and delicious.

I’ve found a way to enjoy Pinterest whenever I want without shame because I’m able to put it to good use, and this is how:

Food: Cook a meal or make some of those nutritious shakes you pinned at least two to three times a week. When you’re hungry and have no idea what to make, resort to your food board. It will save you money, possibly calories and more than the amount of time it took you to pin the recipe + a few others.

A simple, fast Pinterest find that actually got my glass stove-top clean.

A simple, fast Pinterest find that actually got my glass stove-top clean.

An idea I found for an "organization center" with a Calendar, daily meals and to-dos that keeps our family on top of it.

An idea I found for an  “organization center” with a Calendar, daily meals (ones in red are Pinterest finds) and to-dos.

Organization and Cleanliness: My rule is that if I can do it in a minute or less, do it right then. However, if I’m on Pinterest, I’m obviously already not doing much of anything else. So, in that case, if it’s something you can do in a few minutes (or more depending on how much free-time is available), try to do it right then. Seriously, just get up and go label those cords on the the power strip with the tape or bread tabs or whatever else you KNOW you have laying around your place. If you have baking soda and apple cider vinegar sitting in your kitchen, go make the household cleaner you just pinned. I promise you it won’t take more than five minutes, and it will save you a ton of time and money in the future.

DIY: These are my favorite. DIYs can be time consuming, but we all know there are projects, things around the house, gifts, etc. that you want or need to get done. DIYs are the best way to go, and you have all the information right in front of your face. Whatever you need to do is going to take time anyway, so why not do it yourself and save a ton of money or make it personal. Before I really DIYed, I would go spend money on things that were hazardous, pointless or just an unnecessary cost when the whole time I could’ve just done it myself. So, next time you need to go shopping or get a gift or fix something, just browse your DIY pins and DoItYourself.

A crafty gift idea I found on Pinterest and made my own spin for my Etsy shop and a profit.

A crafty gift idea I found on Pinterest and made my own spin for my Etsy shop and a profit.

Crafts: These can seem hard to justify, but they’re really not. If there’s some crafty thing you want to do, it can add decor to your home or you can even turn a profit! I use a lot of my crafty pins to gather inventory for my soon-to-be-open Etsy shop. It’s also something fun to do with your kids, friends, sorority or in a classroom.

A pin (from my Examiner job, also found on Pinterest) on professional writing.

A pin (from my Examiner job, also found on Pinterest) on professional writing.

Professionalism: Pinterest can be such a great tool for just about any career, education or just general skill. You can search and find so many helpful tips for marketing yourself, educational topics, interview etiquette and on and on. It’s seriously an endless resource to find the knowledge you need to further yourself as a professional in any walk of life, so use it! Through Pinterest, I found out about Examiner just by searching “freelance writing,” and now I write for them.

7 bridesmaids' bouquets I made for my wedding that cost maybe $20 altogether instead of buying bouquets for $100+ each.

7 bridesmaids’ bouquets I made for my wedding that cost maybe $20 altogether instead of buying bouquets for $100+ each.

Event Planning: This is a BIG one. You can find anything and everything imaginable on Pinterest when you’re planning for a wedding, baby shower, party, birthday, graduation or literally any other event in existence. I retrieved a very large portion of my wedding ideas and plans from pins, and instead of looking back thinking “I wish I’d know about this” or “I wish I would’ve done that,” I was able to find all these cool ideas and incorporate them into my wedding beforehand. Same deal with my first baby reveal. Once again, it’s a great resource, so use it!

A 5k I'm participating in that I originally saw this picture of on Pinterest and became interested.

A 5k I’m participating in that I originally saw this picture of on Pinterest and became interested.

Health: There are tons and tons and tons of exercise and health tips to be found on Pinterest. If you want to lose weight, eat healthy, juice, make healthy products for your skin, do any kind of exercise, you can find it on Pinterest. You can find motivation, step-by-step guides, apps and literally just about anything. After my pregnancy, I was able to lose 40 lbs., and a lot of it was done with ideas or healthy recipes from Pinterest. Truthfully, we should all be exercising and eating healthy in some way, but most of us dread it. If you’re on Pinterest, you have a health and/or exercise board. So, just incorporate some of those pins into your daily routine.

An idea of organizing and decorating with my baby's toys instead of constantly having to clean them up and hide them away.

An idea of organizing and decorating with my baby’s toys instead of constantly having to clean them up and hide them away.

Babies and Children: Pinterest is a great place to find help, ideas and advice on raising and taking care of children. You can find fun and educational projects, disciplinary tricks and tips, birthday party and decor ideas, food recipes, etc. If you have a newborn, there are also tons of tips for breastfeeding, losing weight, sleep scheduling and on and on. When you’re interacting with your child or children, make a conscious effort to do something that you’ve pinned with them, whether it be daily, weekly or ongoing. 


A cool collar from an Etsy shop I found for my dog on Pinterest.

Pets: If you’re a pet owner, Pinterest can be a great place to get tips on pet care, trendy item or shop finds, a good laugh and even ideas for making your own grooming products. Have a little fun and make treats, do something different, start something new or get something fun for your pet.

Media: Pinterest is also a good place to find other media outlets, shows, movies and literature to get involved with. Find a good list of books or movies and actually go purchase or check them out.

A group board I share with one of my best friends who lives halfway across the US.

A group board I share with one of my best friends who lives halfway across the US.

Just Because: There are some pins on Pinterest you won’t be able to turn around and physically use, and that’s okay. Some things are simply just funny or good to know. Put these pins to good use by sharing boards with a friend or group and pinning common interests or shared humor. It’s a simple way to keep in touch and keep friends/family you may not see often on your mind. 

If you have some other good tips to put your Pinterest addiction to good use, comment and share them with me! I’m always looking for more ideas.

The Non-Health Related, Non-Judgmental Reason Breastfeeding is Best

Let me preface this post by saying, the word breast is used ALL throughout it. So, if you’re immature just don’t even bother reading it.

I have a friend who recently had her first baby. I’m so honored to say that she’s talked to me some about breastfeeding, and it made me reminisce.

I have no negativity towards mothers who choose not to breastfeed, I don’t look down on anyone’s choice and think that this decision is 100% up to each mom and their health or career or whatever situation individually.

That being said, for those mothers who are on the fence, struggling or just don’t know how much longer they want to continue, this one’s for you.

I’ll start my reasoning on why breastfeeding is best by acknowledging its struggles. Breastfeeding (having a newborn in general) is one of the hardest and most exhausting things I’ve ever done. It’s time consuming. It’s constant. At first, possibly, difficult or painful. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you don’t sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time, and you can never take a day off or even a break from having a newborn. It’s hard, and it’s new and lovely and scary and exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. So, I sympathize with understand what all mothers go through. I know that every mother has times where they wonder if they’re doing the right thing and if they’re ever going to sleep again. You are and you will. And if billions of other mothers can do it, so can you. After the first couple weeks, you hit a groove, and it gets much easier. Not too long after that, your newborn just slept 4-5 hours at a time. Before you know it, it stops taking 30-40 minutes to breastfeed and begins taking half that time. You may even get comfortable enough to stop hiding out and start breastfeeding in front of people. Yes, to answer the question always running through your mind, it will eventually and continuously get better as you go.

Now that we’ve got the hard part out of the way, let me tell you why it’s going to be worth it. There were many times during the first couple months of breastfeeding where my husband and I would go to a family dinner or play a game with friends or have a conversation with someone, and my daughter would get hungry. So, I would take her somewhere more private and breastfeed her. 30-40 minutes later when I got done and came back, everyone would be finished with dinner or the game was over or the conversation had stopped. I’ll be honest, during those moments I sometimes felt frustrated and completely disconnected from the world. Almost a year later, this is where my friend asking me about breastfeeding comes in. I really thought about it for the first time since I was actually going through that stage. While you’re in it, you never think it’s going to end, and it’s hard to look at the positive things right in front of you when you only see the negative. The truth is that even if I’d stayed at dinner, I never would’ve remembered what I ate. If I’d continued playing a game with friends, I probably couldn’t tell you what game we played now. And if I’d finished half those conversations, a week later I wouldn’t have a clue what we’d talked about. Looking back now, I can recall almost every one of those times I pulled myself away from those situations to feed my daughter. And I wasn’t disconnected from the world, I was just completely and totally intertwined with her. I was bonding with her in a way I will never be able to again. My daughter was completely and totally dependent on me, and there has never been anyone else who has ever or will ever rely on me more than that. She was 9 and 10 and 15 and 18 pounds, and she’s never going to be that size again. And I remember the majority of those times, vividly. I remember taking my daughter to the back room at my husband’s grandma’s house during Thanksgiving dinner. I remember closing the door and sitting on the bed in my aunt’s bedroom at a get together in her new home while my family played a game. I remember going back to the bedroom in our apartment to feed our daughter while my husband continued talking to our friends in the living room. Funny thing is, I don’t remember what we had for Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn’t tell you what game my family was playing, and I haven’t the slightest clue what I was talking about with the friends in our living room, but I do remember breastfeeding my daughter. I remember looking down at her, rocking her, talking to her, smiling at her and truly being happy with just her in those moments. Every. Single. Time. I got to experience that, and it was so worth it. And that’s why, in my opinion, breastfeeding is best.

When you find yourself frustrated at the things you think you’re missing out on, wondering if you’ll ever sleep again or just unsure if breastfeeding is something you really want to do, remember it is truly such a strong bond that only you can have, and it lasts such a minuscule amount of time in comparison to an entire lifetime. It may seem challenging, but nothing good is ever easy. You’ll never get it back, and it’ll never happen again. So, every minute you feel like you’re losing, you’re really gaining, and it’s so worth it.

10 Reasons Going to the DMV Just Plain Sucks

1. There will always, always be a wait. Nine times out of 10, you wait longer than 20 minutes. The majority of those nine times out of 10, the wait is at least an hour.

2. Most of the people there are in a bad mood, employees included.

3. The DMV is very, VERY strict. If you do not have exactly what you need, you’re out of luck, no matter how long you waited and no matter who told you what.

4. If you’re getting a new license, you get one shot at a good picture and you’re stuck with that picture for years. Chances that it’s a picture you like? I don’t know, but I do know they’re not very high.

5. It’s stuffy and smells like 50-year-old carpet.

6. The chairs look and feel like a one-room school from the ‘30s donated them.

7. No one is carrying on conversations and there’s no music. So, hopefully you don’t have to take a phone call or your stomach doesn’t growl because everyone will hear it.

8. It always costs money.

9. If you’re getting a new or another license and actually do have all the correct, up-to-date documents and information, there’s still another obstacle, a vision test. So, make sure your vision, eyewear and/or eye appointments are up-to-date too.

10. You just spent a portion of your day at the DMV. And it’s also very possible, you didn’t succeed and have to jump through some more hoops to go back and try again.

And on top of all that, do you actually even know what the place causing all this grief, DMV, stands for? And no, if you Google it right now, that doesn’t count.

How to Change Your Name after Marriage, Easily

Getting your name changed after marriage is really not as big of an ordeal as everyone makes it out to be, I promise. I know numerous people who’ve been married for months, even a year or more, and haven’t done it yet because they’ve built it up in their mind to be way more difficult than it actually is.

I’m going to cover three steps:

  1. Changing your name on your Social Security Card and Driver’s License
  2. How to make the time to do it
  3. Other name-change items

ALRIGHT, here we go. You can probably gather everything up you need and be to the vehicle in the same amount of time or less than it will take you to read this post.

Changing your name on your Social Security Card and Driver’s License:

I’m going to cover every item you’ll need to bring with you to get your new Social Security Card and Driver’s License.

Social Security Card:

  • Current Social Security Card
  • Current Driver’s License or Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage License (make sure you bring the official one and not the one for show)
  • (optional) Application for a Social Security Card printed and filled out

Simply go to your local Social Security Card Center with these items, it’s free and it should be a breeze. My visit didn’t take more than 30 minutes not including drive time but plan for at least an hour.

Driver’s License:

  • Social Security Card
  • Current Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate or Passport
  • Two proofs of residency—utilities mail or lease/rental agreement
  • Marriage License (once again, the official one)

If it’s been more than 30 days since you were married, you MUST HAVE your new Social Security Card with your new name (the receipt or old SS card will not work).

Literally all you have to do is go to your local DMV, show them the items listed above and pay a $5 fee. This process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so, depending on your wait time.

How to make the time to do it:

There are three key ways to making time to change your name––take a couple hours out of your day, go at the right time to avoid long waits, bring as much proof of identification and residency as possible. If you’re not sure, bring it; it’s better than getting there and not having what you need.

The Social Security Card Center and DMV are only open Monday–Friday. If you don’t work every week day, it’s extremely easy to take a couple hours out of your day and go do it. That is absolutely all there is to it. So, GO, now if possible!

Social Security Card Centers are generally open from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. and DMVs from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Times do vary from place to place so look up hours of operation to be sure here and here.

For those who do work every week day, you have a few options:

  1. Take a personal day. Use a couple hours to get your new SS card and license then use the rest of the day to be productive––get that thing you’ve been meaning to do out of the way, make all your other small name changes or call a friend or relative to meet for lunch. Everyone has to take a personal day at work sometime, so just plan for it. If you know you’ll be taking a day off for something else, plan this into that day too. Think about it this way, in all honesty, it will probably take you the same amount of time as sitting down to watch a movie or a couple episodes of that show you DVRed, so spend a couple hours out of one week day doing this instead.
  2. Take an extended lunch break or leave work early. You’ll probably have to spend longer waiting in line during these times, but if your work schedule isn’t flexible and you can’t take a day off, this is your best option. If you have to talk to a boss to do so, not a problem. Chances are they’ve had to go to the DMV before and will understand.
  3. Get your SS card one day and license another. If you only have a small window of time, just do one in a day, and it will cut your time significantly. If it’s been more than 30 days after your wedding date, you’ll have to do this anyway.
  4. Go during the least busy times if possible. Monday and Friday are the busiest days, and lunch time is the busiest time. The best times to go are in the middle of the week, mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Other name-change items:

After you’ve accomplished getting a new SS card and license, it should be effortless to get the rest of your accounts and information changed.

Here’s a list of all the other name-change items:

  • Bank accounts
  • Work––payroll, name displays, business cards (talk to HR)
  • Credit cards/checks
  • Passport
  • Insurance––auto, home, health and any others
  • Utilities and bills––gas, water, electric, phone, cable, internet
  • Loans and leases/rental contracts
  • Mortgages
  • Titles
  • Voter registration
  • Memberships––gyms, stores, clubs
  • PayPal
  • Email address
  • Online accounts––Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, Amazon, iTunes, etc.
  • Organizations––active member or alumni