The Ladies Room

Today I undertook the (massive) project of cleaning out the desk and filing cabinet in the dining room. I’m pretty sure neither had been sorted for a good two years, and I wanted to reclaim a drawer for filing work paperwork. As I was going through, I ran across a printout of an email that’s been going around the internet for years. According to the subheaders, I printed this copy in 2003. But it’s a funny read so I’m bringing it back out again, just for those who may have missed it.

The Ladies Room by Valerie Guest

My mother was a fanatic about public toilets. As a little girl she’d bring me into the stall, teach me to wad up toilet paper and wipe the seat. Then, she’d carefully lay strips of toilet paper to cover the seat.

Finally, she’d instruct, “Never, never sit on a public toilet seat.”

She would demonstrate “The Stance,” which consisted of balancing over the toilet in a sitting position without actually letting any of your flesh make contact with the seat.

By this time I’d have wet down my leg and we went home.

That was a long time ago. Even now, in our more mature years, the “Stance” is excruciatingly difficult to maintain when one’s bladder is especially full.

When you have to go in a public restroom you find a line of women that make you think there is a half- price sale on Nelly’s underwear in there.

So you wait and smile politely at all the other ladies, also smiling and crossing their legs politely. Finally you get closer.

You check for feet under the stall doors. Every one is occupied. Finally a stall door opens and you dash, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the stall.

You get in to find the door doesn’t latch. It doesn’t matter.

You hang your purse on the door hook, yank down your pants and assume the “Stance.” Relief. More relief.

Then your thighs begin to shake. You’d love to sit down, but you certainly didn’t take time to wipe the seat or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold the “Stance” until your thighs experience a quake that would register eight on the Richter scale.

To take your mind off it, you reach for the toilet paper. The toilet paper dispenser is empty. Your thighs shake more.

You remember the tiny tissue you blew your nose on that is in your purse. It would have to do. You crumple it in the “fluffiest” way possible. It is still smaller than your thumbnail.

Someone pushes open your stall door because the latch doesn’t work and your purse whams you in the head.

“Occupied” you scream as you reach for the door, dropping your tissue in a puddle and falling back, directly on the toilet seat.

You get up quickly. But it is too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with all the germs and life forms on the bare seat because YOU never laid down any toilet paper, not that there was any, even if you had time to.

Your mother would be utterly ashamed of you if she knew, because her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because frankly, “You never knew what kind of diseases you could get.”

By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, sending up a stream of water akin to a fountain and then it suddenly sucks everything down with such force that you grab onto the toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged to China.

At that point you give up. You’re soaked by the splashing water. You’re exhausted. You try to wipe with a Chick paper that you found in your pocket, then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.

You can’t figure out how to operate the sinks with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past a line of women, still waiting, cross-legged and unable to smile at this point.

One kind soul at the very end of the line points out that you are trailing a piece of toilet paper on your shoe as long as the Mississippi River.

You yank the paper from your shoe, plunk it into the woman’s hand and say warmly, “Here. You might need this.”

At this time you see your man, who has entered, used and exited his bathroom and read a copy of “War and Peace” while waiting for you.

“What took you so long?” he asks, annoyed.

This is when you kick him sharply in the shins and go home.

This is dedicated to all women everywhere who have ever had to deal with public toilets and also to all men who have ever wondered why it took so long.

This is what actually happens in a Ladies Restroom. All of you men think that women are having a pleasant time in there – that’s why they stay so long.

11/22 Weekly Menu

woman-cookingOne of the best things I’ve implemented in the last year is to plan a weekly dinner menu. The weekly menu helps me in a number of ways:
1) It lets me grocery shop in advance, rather than stopping at the store every day for just one or two items I need for each meal.
2) It helps me utilize what I have that needs to be used or can be used.
3) If I have a plan that I know I can follow, my family is more likely to get a meal than told “grab a sandwich”. And I’m a lot less likely to say we’re ordering pizza or eating out, if I have it all planned in advance. I hate thinking of meals last minute, so if I plan ahead, I know when in my day I need to prep or start something, rather than realizing at 3pm that I have no idea what’s for dinner!

This has become even more important as Brianna has started adding weekly evening activities to her schedule. On Mondays and Wednesdays she has swimming and gymnastics respectively, so I know that I won’t be home to put dinner in the oven/take it out, so I can plan to have crockpot meals those days, or leftovers. Some days, I will leave a blank in my menu mid to late week, if I want to try to take advantage of whatever sale they’ll be having at the grocery store, whose sales change on Wednesdays.

One thing about the weekly menus, though, is that they’re adaptable. I would guess I often have one day a week that I change, because something in our schedule, groceries or motivation changed. Last week, for instance, I had planned leftovers for Wednesday, but Monday’s leftovers got left on the counter (I was so sad!) and Tuesday’s meal was a complete fail. So I had to come up with a meal for Wednesday. Don’t feel like your menu planning is failing if you have to change on the fly, just look at it as a guideline rather than an absolute.

Jane said she’d like to have a weekly menu thread, and since Sundays are the day I plan my menu, I’ll be sharing mine here on (most) Sundays. My menus run from Sunday to Saturday. Please share yours in the comments!

Sunday: Hashbrown ham quiche (I have leftover ham that needs to be used. I’ll make this and freeze the rest of the ham for a future meal).

Monday: Burritos w/spanish rice (usually this would be a crockpot meal, but I made and froze carnita meat a few weeks ago, so I only need to throw it in the oven to heat it)

Tuesday: Parmesan-crusted tilapia (frozen, from Sam’s club), green beans, baked potatoes and fresh bread

Wednesday: Alfredo w/chicken, salad and leftover bread

Thursday: Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving gets a menu of its own so we’ll do a separate post to talk about Thanksgiving.

Friday: Leftovers. I’m shopping on Black Friday NOT cooking.

Saturday: Turkey Tetrazinni (I’m sure I spelled that wrong)

One thing I want to say about this menu is that it only has one day of leftovers. Often my menu has two days of leftovers, some days I actually plan ahead to eat out. But a lot of times these days, we don’t have leftovers for dinner because 1) with another person in the house, there are no leftovers or 2) that other person (my brother) and I eat them for lunch. So don’t feel like you must have a new meal every day. Use your leftovers for another meal! Ready? Your turn!

Wish I'd…made this dress!

Welcome to the first of several weekly topics. This one is “Wish I’d” where we show you something we wish we’d made, cooked, thought of or otherwise done. If you’re cruising the web and see something you wish you’d… (something crafty or cooking related, preferably!) and would like to guest post, just fill out the form on the contact us page.

Selvedge DressFor the first installment of “Wish I’d” I’m choosing a project that a crafter posted over a year ago. It’s a selvedge dress. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, all fabric has selvedge edges, which keeps the fabric from fraying. The edge can be used as a marker of sorts, and include the name of the company or designer the fabric came from and perhaps the name of the fabric. It’s generally considered the unusable edge, for a variety of reasons (it’s thicker than the other fabric, has a different weave, print, words, etc) and most crafters cut the selvedge edge off the fabric and discard it, but Jodie from Ric-Rac constructed an entire dress out of these edges. You can see from the dress just how different selvedge edges can be. Some of them are plain and some can be incredibly lovely. I do know some crafters collect different selvedge edges, because of their diversity.

Not only am I jealous of the ingenuity of this dress, but I’m also jealous of the dress itself because it’s a totally adorable pattern (and doesn’t she look cute in it?) This is definitely something I wish I’d made!

$50 GC winner!

Though we ended up closing the contest to help name our new cooking and craft blog early, because we ended up brainstorming a title all three of us liked, we still had 17 people who’d sent in suggestions. Thanks to all of you, it was fun to see what you’d come up with!

I let random.org do the choosing and I’m happy to say that Erin W. (yes, that’s you, Erin) from the wild hills of West Virginia is the winner of a $50 gift card to an online retailer of her choice.

Congratulations, Erin. I was pleased as punch when you were picked because I knew you could use a boost! Email me and let me know where you’d like your gift card to.

In the meantime, our new blog is under construction and hopefully we’ll be announcing it soon so you can join us in our cooking and crafting goodness.

Day two of new things to share

Something else exciting happened! This weekend, we took a trip to Washington D.C. for the weekend. We’d gotten tickets to the Metropolitan Food Show, and to see Guy Fieri give a presentation (he was an absolute riot, really. Very funny guy and I’m so glad we got to see him). I got us a room in Inner Harbor of Baltimore so Sunday we could walk around the Inner Harbor and visit the Aquarium. The weather cooperated so well, it was almost 70 for our walk around the Inner Harbor. Brianna loved every minute of the aquarium and kept saying it was “the best day of my life!” I got some good shots of her, here’s a few:

From 2009-11-10

(more…)

Look, Ma! New job!

I think most of you have seen the news by now, but let me back up for a minute and be a little girly.

Seventeen years ago next week, when I was seventeen years old, my mom passed away suddenly. It’s a hard age to lose your mom, and I was just coming out of that difficult teen period and just beginning to be able to hold civil conversations with my mom again, when she died. But though I’ve now lived just as many years without her as I did with her, there are still memories I will never shake and she still contributed to who I am today.

One of those ways, unbeknown to her at the time, was my love of romances. I still recall the trips I’d take to the used bookstore with her, where she’d trade in a brown grocery bag full of Harlequin category books, and get another bag in return. She’d browse the shelves with a list in hand of the numbers she hadn’t gotten yet, and off we’d go with that bag of books, which would set next to her recliner until she’d gone through it. After she’d read through them, they didn’t actually go back to the bookstore, but moved on to my grandmother and aunt, who traded a similar bag back to my mom in return.

I have always been an avid (and precocious) reader, and in fourth grade, I snuck into that brown bag of Harlequin category romances and pulled a couple out. Hey, it was a large bag and she wouldn’t miss them as long as I returned them quickly, right? That night, and for countless nights in the following years, I read those Harlequin romances into the early hours of the morning, often by flashlight. My love of romance was born with those purloined books, and it hasn’t abated since.

So it’s with great pleasure that I get to say today* that I’ve accepted a position as executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s new digital-only press. Some things come full circle, and I’d like to think this is one of them. Thanks, Mom.

*this links to a post I did for Dear Author, with more on my emotional journey in the past months

Contest! Name that blog & win a $50 gc

*contest is closed, we have a name! Winner will be announced this week!*

Have you ever had the urge to do something a little different than what you’re doing now? Or to share your love of something? That’s what Jane Litte of Dear Author, Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and I are doing. We’re teaming up for a non-publishing related blog for all things crafting and cooking in our world. It will be a little something for everyone, with pattern reviews, completed projects, recipes, tips, guest bloggers (because there’s a whole lot of things in crafting and cooking we’re not very good at) and more (there will be wine recommendations!)

But we need your help to name our new site, so we’re offering up a $50 gift card for your suggestions. Come up with a clever, funny, practical, cute or serious name for our new endeavor and you may win a $50 gift card from the online retailer of your choice.

    Rules

1. Email all suggestions to angelajameseditor AT gmail.com with subject line BLOG CONTEST. Please do not post them in the comments here, it will not count as an entry.

2. You may give as many suggestions as you like, but please try to include them in one email, if you think of some later and want to email again, that’s okay, just try to avoid 15 separate emails 😛

3. Contest is open internationally.

4. Contest closes on Wednesday, November 11, 2009. is closed, we have a name!

5. This is the most important: we’ll need to purchase the domain to match the blog name, so make sure there’s a domain available for the name you’re suggesting. You can check domain availability here. We won’t/can’t use a name that doesn’t have domain availability.

$50 gc will be awarded to the person whose blog name we use. If we don’t use any of the suggestions, or end up using a combination of suggestions–or more than one person suggests it–we’ll hold a random drawing.

I have a secret

(sung to the tune of “We Love You Conrad” from Bye Bye Birdie

I have a secret
Oh yes I do
I have a secret
A good one too

Though I can’t tell you
don’t be blue
My secret’s coming to you…

(on Monday)

Golden Heart critique winner!

Sorry I didn’t get to this yesterday. I decided to go ahead and let Random.org choose my winner, because I just couldn’t decide from so many good first lines. I wish I was seeing some of these entries!

But since there can be only one… Suzanne Lazear, you can thank our anonymous benefactor for your free critique of this entry:

genre: steampunk YA

Whatever happened, she could not allow them to catch her and not a single drop of her blood could spill upon the ground.

Congratulations! You have until Sunday, November 8th to send your entry to me (DOC or RTF format) to angelajameseditor AT gmail.com

Good luck to everyone entering the Golden Hearts!

Seafood Lasagna

This recipe has a little bit of history. I got it from my friend Trish at least a year ago (probably more like two), and she raved about how good it was. Unfortunately, my family seems to consist of picky eaters and I was fairly convinced they’d never eat this. So Trish, my wonderful, beautiful, goddess of a friend, Trish, brought me some of this twice when she made it for her family because she knew I lusted after it, but was hesitant on making it for my family. Seriously, that’s a true friend, no? Finally, last month, with my brother living with us, I had hope that there’d be at least one other person in the house who would eat it, so I could justify making it. Totally and completely unexpectedly, it turns out everyone in the house liked it. Yes! Total win all around. Thank you, Trish, I love you.

As a note about this recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make, so don’t be overwhelmed. It’s not any more difficult than regular lasagna and goes together quicker in some ways, I think.

Ingredients:
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS plus 1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bottle (8oz) Clam juice*

1 lb scallops (I used frozen, defrosted baby scallops)
1 lb Shrimp (I used frozen, defrosted cocktail shrimp)
1 package imitation crab meat, chopped
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided**
9 Lasagna noodles, cooked & drained***

Instructions:
1. In large skillet saute onion in oil and 2 TBS butter until tender.

2. Stir in broth and clam juice, bring to boil. *This is my first change in the recipe. I didn’t use clam juice because I didn’t want to buy it. What I did is substitute an extra 4 oz of chicken broth plus 4 oz of white wine. You could do 8 oz of broth or 8 oz of wine if you wanted. This recipe is forgiving that way.

3. Add the seafood and 1/8 tsp pepper; return to boil.

4. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 4-5 minutes. Drain, reserve cooking liquid, set seafood mixture aside.

5. In a saucepan, melt the remaining butter; stir in flour until smooth.

6. Combine milk and reserved cooking liquid, gradually add to the saucepan.

7. Add salt & remaining pepper. Bring to boil. Cook and stir for 2 mins or until thickened.

8. Remove from the heat, stir in cream and 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese. Stir 3/4 cup of the white sauce in to the seafood mixture.

9. Spread 1/2 cup white sauce on the bottom of a greased 13in x 9in x 2in baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, spread half of the seafood and some sauce. **the original recipe doesn’t call for mozzarella but Trish mentioned she used it, so I guessed and decided to put it in both the layers and on top. I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of mozzarella on each layer.

10. Repeat layers. I ended with about a cup of sauce on top, but you could end with noodles. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella (more if you like it)

11. Bake uncovered at 350 for 35-49 mins. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. No seriously. Let it stand or you will have a big ol’ mess on your hands. It needs to set for 15 minutes (especially if you add the mozzarella) so it doesn’t fall apart too much.

***Trish said she has since tried no boil noodles and they work. I didn’t mind using the cooked lasagna noodles, cooked to just al dente, but I’m also not a fan of the taste of the no boil noodles.

You could easily halve this recipe and make it in a smaller, 9×9 pan, if you’re cooking for just a couple people because a whole pan does make a lot. However, I must say I think I liked it even better reheated the next day.

I’m also pretty sure I used Parmesan in the layers, just a little, but I can’t remember. I think cheese is something that you can always add more of with lasagna!

One thing I was thinking, while I was making this, was that the creamy seafood sauce would make a great filling/topping for a seafood burrito. There was this Mexican restaurant growing up that made the most delicious seafood burrito with a white sauce. I’ve never found anyplace since that makes them, but I think the seafood sauce for this lasagna would be fantastic for that (and yes, I will try that eventually).

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