Fishy Macaroni by Her, Pumpkin Cheesecake by Me

Fishy Macaroni by Her
1 cup cooked macaroni
1/3 cup cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup Goldfish Crackers

Throw it all in a bowl together, mix, and eat.

No, really. She ate it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake by Me

(Modified Cheesecake Factory recipe)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small can pumpkin (15 oz)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the crust by combining the graham crackers with the melted butter and 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, keeping the mixture crumbly. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of a springform pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and continue to beat until smooth and creamy.

Pour the filling into the pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. The top will turn a bit darker. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool. Refrigerate once the cheesecake reaches room temperature. Top with whipped cream as desired.

The cheesecake is ready to eat once cool, but tastes best if allowed to cool for 24 hours.


This is Why Contests are Stupid.

First, let me start by apologizing. I am sorry. So, so, so sorry. If I could go back in time and avoid the entire disaster that I'm about to write about, I would.

I know that many of you spent hours of your life diligently clicking so that I could win a contest. Unfortunately, that was all in vain as I have asked The Bump to remove my blog from the contest. I wanted to do some good and have a little fun by giving some toys to kids in need. However, I'm not willing to sacrifice my beliefs in order to do that.

To explain, I'll start at the beginning.

I'm not sure when it first began, but within the first day of the final round of the contest, I started to suspect that there were some shenanigans going on with the voting. In looking at some of the percentages and the vote totals, it didn't make sense how some people had the numbers that they did.

(It's not hard to predict how those contests will end. Google subscription counts, twitter follower counts, and facebook friend totals give a pretty good indication of how many votes a person can muster, and all of that information is readily available online. In fact, I very nearly didn't pay any attention to the final round of voting because I knew there were some Big Kids in that sandbox. The only way they could be challenged was if my peeps worked their clicky fingers off. I know my peeps, though, and I knew that they WOULD work their clicky fingers off, so I went ahead. Again, I'm sorry to those of you who spent time voting.)

Later in the day, the numbers became even more skewed in favor of one site. I was positive that there were shenanigans, but they seemed to be the kind of shenanigans that could be beaten. It would be a challenge, sure, but as long as whoever was behind it all didn't get too greedy, I knew that my readers and friends could overcome it. At that point there were about 30,000 votes in the contest and it looked like there were shenanigans going on for one blog.

(BTW, "shenanigans" means someone had written a script to log votes automatically in the poll. I'm nowhere near smart enough to know how to do it, but I know it can be done if the poll doesn't have the appropriate security measures in place.)

The next morning, there were very clearly suspicious votes for two blogs. A few hours later, there were suspicious votes for three blogs. By this morning, there were over 700,000 votes cast, and the percentages were rapidly changing. Think about that for a minute. 1% of 700,000 is 7,000. In order to move that single percent, a blog would need over 7,000 votes. No one in that poll has the pull get 7,000 votes in a matter of seconds.

I DEFINITELY don't have the pull to get 7,000 votes in a matter of seconds, especially on a site that loads as slowly as The Bump. Yet, I saw my number go up. I immediately tweeted:

After that, there was a flurry of communications wherein I learned just who I know that knows how to write scripts to cheat a poll like that. There were offers to "level the playing field" and such, which I shot down.

(That's just not how I roll. Although, I can understand the rationale of those programmers. If The Bump wasn't policing the site and didn't care that someone (or several someones) were autovoting, why not? At that point it was very clearly about who knew the most programmers, not who generated the most traffic to The Bump's site.)

The same people then started monitoring the site. Whatever Programmer Spidey Senses they have they used to determine that there were automated votes being logged for eight sites, including mine. EIGHT SITES.

I don't know if it was one person running scripts to mess up several of the blogs or several people working against each other, but I knew that at that point, the whole thing was a joke. A disaster. A mess.

I emailed and asked to be removed from the contest.

Since then, The Bump has acknowledged "problems," shut down the poll, and offered an alternative way of determining a winner. I'm asking that none of you follow through on that alternative way. The money is tainted and I do NOT WANT IT. Please, thank you, and I mean it.

Look. Bloggers can't control what their readers do. The people whose blogs are in that list are NOT responsible for this mess. The Bump is 100% responsible. If little me can click around a few times and determine that something is off, they most certainly could have caught it sooner. If I can find people who can confirm that hacking is possible and they can figure out to what extent the hacking is happening, so can The Bump. When money is at stake, you have to assume that someone will get greedy. The site is responsible for making sure it doesn't happen.

Again, I apologize to all of you who wasted your time on that site. I wish I could undo it, but I can't. All I can do is try to find another way to make Christmas Crazy happen for some needy kids. That's exactly what I plan to do. I will be posting a new way to bring some Christmas Crazy to Toys for Tots (via Stuff-a-Bus) and a local Domestic Violence shelter some time this weekend.

Hopefully you'll still be here to help with it.

(P.S. I expect every single one of you to smash me over the head with a brick if I EVER post about another online contest. Not. doing. it. again.)

(P.P.S. I didn't do any linky linking to "The Site" intentionally and will be deleting any prior linky links right after I hit Publish. I refuse to send any more of my readers to that site.)



Her Highness long agree hath issued a decree requiring that her royal subjects greet her as follows:

* If she is in the mood to mingle with the peasants, thou shalt ignore her. If so much as one royal subject dares to make eye contact, Her Highness shall morph into a terribly heavy growth and attach herself to thine mother. Thine mother will be rendered incapable of moving and it will be all YOUR fault because YOU made eye contact.

* If she is in the mood to celebrate her royal status, thou shalt stop everything, turn, and shout her name in unison. Think Norm at Cheers, but without the mouthy wait staff. Failure to celebrate her existence shall result in The Silent Treatment. Her Highness will cross her arms across her little chest, stick out her lower lip, and silently glare at you.

There shall be no hints as to which greeting Her Highness will expect on any given day for you are expected to be psychic.

Unfortunately, the teachers and kids at dance class are not psychic. They were supposed to yell, "ALEXIS!" They didn't. She was mad. Her Highness went into hissy fit mode immediately, shrinking back against the wall as she sent Death Stares to all of her royal subjects who had erred.

The teachers tried to coax her into participating. She refused.

Other kids tried to coax her into participating. She refused.

Momma don't pay for dance class so that the kid can stand against the wall in a huff.

I shot her the I'm Going to Kick Your Ass if You Don't Knock it Off Mom Stare through the observation window. She responded by suddenly growing a very large set of cajones and GLARING BACK.

We're talking about a child who bursts into tears when I yell at her. The Mom Stare is usually enough to make her run away in fear. However, it seems that the Mom Stare doesn't work through glass. Why wasn't that detail in the instruction manual?

I tried The Mom Stare again. She huffed, recrossed her arms, and stared right back, inching her way closer to the glass. She stood no more than three feet from me, separated only by a thin pane of glass and several onlookers. I wanted to kick her sassy little butt.

I decided to try ignoring her, in hopes that she would grow bored of a one-sided standoff and go back to being her usual good listener self. She grew bored all right. So bored that she resorted to doing half-assed cartwheels while all of the other kids were on the other side of the room listening to the instructor.

There were too many witnesses. I couldn't yell. I could, however, give her hell via sign language. I caught her eyes long enough to sign for her to go play and listen to the teachers.

I know she understood because she signed back, "No."


Eventually Her Highness grew bored of the standoff and joined the class. And by "eventually," I mean about ten seconds after I decided she was going to spend the rest of her life in time out.

When the class ended, she came strutting out of the room, proud of her show of CAJONES! right up until she caught sight of me. It was then that her face melted with apprehension, her shoulders hunched in fear, and she whispered, "I didn't do a good job today."

It's a damn good thing the CAJONES! fell off once the window wasn't there to protect her.


(Pssst . . . Go (link deleted)! Let's bring some Christmas crazy to some kids!)