because my little blog is growing up!

I just got so sick of dealing with certain type size/spacing issues AND not being able to add page tabs to this blog theme, that I started to think about revamping the blog. The blog started freezing in Safari and only cooperating when opened in Internet Explorer. And then I started to think the theme was a little cluttered and distracting, and I could THINK OF NOTHING ELSE TIL I FIXED MY BLOG.

Which I did this weekend. Check it out.

I'm sure it will go through future incarnations. I ended up with wordpress.com after aborting a short-lived attempt to understand FTP and all that goes with wordpress.org. Maybe if I find a nice computer-geek guy to set all that up for me and show me how to do all that someday, Chai Latte Please will someday have the freedom of advertisements, plug-ins and java. As it is, the move from Blogger to wordpress.com meant giving up my 3-Day Countdown (which is java-based) and the possibility of Google Ads.

But I'm happy with how the new format looks and my own domain name only cost $15 and 10 minutes. But now I have tabs galore and can e-mail commenters (bonus!).

Any suggestions for future changes?
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I personally think blister management (aside from hydration) is one of the most important things to practice while training for the 3-Day. I'm horrible at it, but I really wish I weren't. 

During my first 3-Day, I had no idea what a "hot spot" was or why you weren't supposed to put moleskin directly on fully formed blisters. And let's be honest, I got epically horrible blisters when I walked in D.C. last year. *

It all went downhill the first afternoon last year: I changed my socks at lunch but didn't take my shoes off after that, because my feet hurt. Thus, I didn't realize that part of the reason my feet hurt was newly forming blisters. And once you have blisters, it's that much easier for new blisters to form.

What should you do? Use moleskin/bandaids/etc while training. Try different types of socks/lotion/foot powder to find the right combination for you. And definitely spend way more time that you normally would considering whether the walking shoes fit before you buy them. Once on the event, check out the medical tent at the first or second stop so you know what materials they have and what is recommended. 
And here's the advice from the 3-Day FAQ response:

Blisters are the most common problem seen on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event and the best way to protect your feet is to prevent blisters from forming. Blisters can be a direct result of a friction rub between the skin and another object (skin, sock, shoe, etc.) or due to pressure in the shoe or moisture from perspiration. Staying well hydrated during the event is important for blister prevention as dehydration allows the skin to fold on itself and create a friction rub.
Proper shoe and sock selection also is key to blister prevention. Purchase a shoe that is a half to 1 full size larger than your normal walking shoe. There should be ample room to wiggle your toes in the toe box. Break in your shoes slowly by alternating at least two pairs of shoes during your training. Do not wear brand new shoes on the event.

Choose a sock that pulls moisture away from your feet. This will keep your feet cool and dry. Synthetic socks such as “Coolmax” or “Dryfit,” or wool socks are better than pure cotton socks for keeping your feet dry. Try wearing two socks or double-layered socks and plan on changing to clean and dry socks halfway through your training walk. If your socks are still wet, try foot powder or spraying your feet with spray antiperspirant. Make sure that your socks fit you well and do not bunch up in any areas.

Hot spots are places on your feet or toes where you feel tenderness, pressure, heat, burning or pain. If you feel a hot spot during training, stop and change your socks. Increased protection can be obtained by applying moleskin, 2nd Skin or a bandage. Moleskin acts as a second layer of skin and should not be removed until the end of the walk to prevent peeling of the skin. Any bandage that is applied should be smooth and wrinkle free. Benzoin liquid, or Nuskin or Toughskin spray found at medical supply stores are sometimes used to “toughen” the skin at problem areas. Do not get a pedicure or try to remove calluses before the event or long training walks. Do not wear toe rings on your long walks; the heat may swell your toes and feet, decreasing their blood circulation.

If you get a blister, try not to pop it. They are nature’s way of creating a protective cushion and intact skin protects you from infection. Small blisters should be covered with antibiotic ointment and a bandage; this is then covered with a square of 2nd Skin or a corn pad for further protection. Do not leave the 2nd Skin on overnight as it will dehydrate and can irritate the skin.

For large blisters that are painful, clean the blister with an alcohol pad and have a medical professional drain it with a sterile needle. Be sure to keep the open blister covered with antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

Take time during your training to experiment with techniques and products that work for you. Blister care products that you should carry with you in a waist pack during the event include Band-Aids, moleskin, benzoin, synthetic “wicking” socks, alcohol swabs, blister care bandages, small scissors and Body Glide or Vaseline.

Veteran 3-Dayers: What are you tried and true blister-prevention methods?

I'm showing off last year's 3-Day blisters as part of the 2Toms Blister Shield "Worst Blister Challenge." If you're on Facebook, you can check out the link on my wall. I can't figure out how to link to it here.
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(I'm not willing to use my teeth in a fight, 
but I'm still bigger than you, BlackJack! 
Note his devil eyes...)

So, the problem started with socks. Mine, specifically. He ran off with a freshly laundered pair of black socks, but since they were cheap (and I was lazy) I just let it go. Crystal came home and tried to take them away from him (cause, you know, dogs shouldn't eat socks). He growled, I got involved, he growled more AS IF HE THOUGHT WE'D FEAR A 27-POUND FLUFF-BALL WITH SERIOUS ALLERGY PROBLEMS.

Crystal went upstairs. And let's be honest, I was afraid he'd bite me if I tried to take the socks away. He was using his really mean growl. When "trading" for a treat didn't work, I got mad and told him to go to his "house." (IE, plastic crate with a metal-bar door. Prison would be an apt name). In he went. With the socks. And still growling when I got near him.

So, instead of fighting harder, I fought smarter.

I shut the cage door. And placed the treat about four inches away from the front of the door. Close enough to smell, far enough away that there's no chance of getting it.

Take that, little spoodle!
I really, REALLY wanted to like Rob Ryan. He's the narrator in Tana French's debut psychological suspense novel who takes us on a journey through his flawed memory and (even more flawed?) personality as a detective investigating a 12-year-old girl's murder in the same woods where his two childhood friends disappeared two decades earlier. Sometimes he tries a little too hard to string together witty metaphors, but that can easily be forgiven in a character who tells you upfront that police lie:

"The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely, spending hours and days stupor-deep in lies, and then turn back to her holding out the lover's ultimate Mobius strip: But I only did it because I love you so much.
"I have a pretty knack for imagery, especially the cheap, facile kind. Don't let me fool you into seeing us as a bunch of parfit gentil knights galloping off in doublets after Lady Truth on her white palfrey. What we do is crude, crass and nasty."

See? Since I am the person who once dealt with the stress of writing about a juvenile pimping trial by watching several hours of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, he had me hooked by the end of the second page. And kept me wound around his little finger until the middle of the book when we slowly begin to learn the truth about Rob Ryan:

: : : spoiler alert : : :

He has the regrettable habit of shutting women out after he sleeps with them once - which causes his relationship with Cassie to implode. His narration includes a few half-hearted but likely honest explanations for his bad behavior toward Cassie, but months later, when he calls her to tell her he loves her, she pretends he's got the wrong number and he listens as she climbs back in bed with her boyfriend. He wonders if she realizes she didn't hang up the phone and whether she was trying to hurt him or simply giving him the peace of listening to her sleep one more time. 

(Get a clue, buddy. When her boyfriend asked who was on the phone, she said some guy saying he loved her. But it turned out he was looking for someone named Britney. Yes, she knew you were still on the line, and yes, she probably wouldn't have been upset if you were hurt.)

Oh -- and he gets sucked in by the victim's psychopathic sister and manages to muck up the investigation against the teen who isn't quite legally an adult. Then, he tries to tell us readers that we got sucked in by her, too. As some readers pointed out here, they didn't. And we're left not liking the main character we started out adoring.

We readers are also left hating that French doesn't solve the original mystery. 

Overall, I'm OK with the book's lack of resolution (and so is this reader). 

1) We don't get to know everything about life, anyway; 2) We get to see several mythical motifs surrounding the murder site. I don't think there's any significance to that other than the fact that humans tend to look to myths and the supernatural when they can't explain things; and 3) We all kind of toy with the idea that Ryan is responsible for his friends' disappearances, but in the end, he's not a manipulative psychopath or else we wouldn't all think he's a bit of a loser. He didn't have any real motive for making them disappear, and if anything, I'm willing to bet he panicked or just stood there when something bad happened to them.

But that's just me. We'll have to wait to see if French decides to explain it in a sequel...

Or I might read it again to see what I missed.
It's true. I love strawberry Special K cereal and home-brewed Dunkin' Donuts coffee and reading books cover to cover. I over-schedule myself only to embrace procrastination with a zeal I otherwise reserve for chai latte or Chipotle burritos. I can be trusted with secrets, but when bored, I am prone to purposefully making bad decisions just to see what will happen... What? Oh yeah, I've made a ton of bad decisions out of ignorance and poor judgment, too. No one gets THAT bored.

Other simple truths:

1) I love my job. One might say it has few opportunities for advancement, and it's certainly not going to make me rich. But journalists get to see the muddled mass of humanity with the bird's eye view few others have. Under certain circumstances I might deny it, but I love the rush of breaking news, negotiating for access, balancing conflicting ideas, struggling with words at break-neck speeds, and really, just watching people. I'm not sure if I've stared pure evil in the face, but I've seen a ton of selfishness, greed, addiction, pain, love, generosity and boring ole life. 

Sometimes I think MY life is passing me by while I'm busy writing about other people's lives -- but after doing a little living of my own, I've concluded that there are worse ways to pass the time than by banging out an article or two.

2) I'd rather be smart than pretty.That might be why I am. Or maybe it was a matter of chasing what was possible. At any rate, unless you're really good at manipulating people, you're better off complimenting my writing or asking my opinion about something. If you tell me you think I'm pretty, I'm likely to think you're 1) drunk; 2) stupid, or 3) don't get out enough to realize how many truly gorgeous women populate the Midwest.

3) For writers, typos are like toilet paper trailing from the bottom of a shoe. If you love someone and somehow she doesn't realize she picked up a little extra paper in the bathroom, OF COURSE YOU TELL HER. If, however, you are that snarky girl who keeps hitting on the guy she likes, you're better off letting someone else point out TP - er, typo. It's not the biggest deal, but she's likely to add it as a mark against you.

4) I sometimes pretend I have a bad cell phone connection just so I can hang up on someone.

5) I have never done that to Maria or my mother. They both actually hang out in places with poor reception.

6) I ache for things that never really quite were. I used to think regrets were wasted sentiments, because we are more often shaped by our struggles than our successes. And then I realized I had no real idea what regret was before I finally experience something regretful. Now, sometimes between sleep and awake, I long for the times when my fiance (now ex-husband) kissed me on the nose and love seemed deep and perfect. Or the time when someone told me I was making a difference in that little town. Or the time I thought an afternoon's walk through a bad public housing project would provide enough truth for a story. 

It was, and it wasn't. It did, and it didn't. I'm not cynical enough to deny all that was, and I'm no longer naive enough to not recognize all that wasn't. But don't we all want to believe in Santa Claus, sometimes?

7) I believe I need to accept people for their faults, forgive them, and limit how much I allow their faults to hurt me. I still have no idea how to actually do this.

8) I really, REALLY want to wear sandals and flip-flops to work every day. I would, only I fear people already don't find me professional, so I only wear sandals two days a week. Or so.
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These aren't super-official instructions or anything. I first saw these at a breast cancer walk fundraiser years ago and just bought a bra and played with it until it worked for me. (And no, I have no idea if people actually carry these as purses. I haven't - but I would. I'm pretty sure I would, anyway).

Step one: Go shopping for bras. I usually get a nice, large padded bra, because those seem to keep their shape the easiest and seem the most likely to hold up against keys, etc., being placed inside. I also either look for convertible/strapless bras or bras with cute straps that can easily be made into a purse strap.

Step two: Slice and dice. Once I have a bra, I cut out around the cup, leaving as much of the strap as I want to use for the handle. Then, I cut a slit near the top of the inside of the cup so I can wiggle out the underwire.

Step three: Decorate and sew. Without the underwire, the cup is flexible enough that the cups can be matched up and sewn together. I usually add the embelleshments before I attach the two cups. If I'm using trim or string for a handle, I usually knot the trim and sew it into the top edge of one of the cups before I attach them. When attaching the two cups, I usually glue them together first with a fabric glue and then go back and stitch it together to reinforce it. After I sew, I go over the cut edges of the cup with a fray stop or fray guard to prevent it from unraveling. (If you do this earlier in the process, it can be difficult to sew.) Sometimes I line the inside, and sometimes I don't.

Step four: Don't let anything spill out of your cups. Depending on the shape of the cup, sometimes I use a button or hook and eye in the middle of the open end so the "purse" can close.

Like this exact purse? You can purchase it (via E-bay) here. (Auction ends May 15.)

Need some creative inspiration? This Etsy crafter uses slinkier bras. This one uses lots of color. And this one appreciates fringe.
As soon as I decided the Friday FundRAISER series was coming to an end, I stumbled up tons (OK, a bunch. Not literally tons) of ideas. So I had to share:

* How 'bout them cupcakes? Have a bake sale for breast cancer. Bake cupcakes of various sizes from very small “mini” size to very large. Put 2 cupcakes together and wrap in clear plastic wrap. Sell as cup size “A” cakes, cup size “B” cakes, cup size “DD” cakes, etc. The larger the cup size, the more charged for the pair. Then host a cupcake party for your friends and neighbors. (From 3-Day Coach Kristin Harris in the 3-Day's April news)

* Gift wrapping: Around the holidays, utilize a large space, such as a church basement, for a gift-wrapping service. Donors can bring packages for you to wrap for a donation. Offer a television (or two) and snacks so donors can occupy themselves while their packages are being done. This saves them the time and trouble of wrapping presents out of sight of the kids. (From a new, but loyal, ChaiLattePlease reader)

* Temporary tattoos: A blogger I enjoy reading is having a quirky fundraiser: Donate at least $25 in a specific timeframe, and she'll write your name on her body the day of the event --- and provide photographic evidence! Check it out here.

* Raffles and whatnot: Before you get creative, keep in mind that states and local communities have laws governing many fundraising activities, including raffles, auctions and other promotional activities. Compliance is the responsibility of each participant, and the 3-Day for the Cure cannot render legal or tax advice on these matters. Web sites like http://rafflefaq.com/united-states-raffle-laws/ provide links to raffle laws for each state, to help you with your research. Please also review the 3-Day for the Cure fundraising policies. (From the 3-Day's March news)