Tag Archives: contest

The Reckoning

15 May

Hello, beautiful people.

Today is the day I announce The Gauntlet winner. Isn’t that exciting? Well, maybe not. If you didn’t compete, I guess this can just be a post to read about people who have bigger balls than you.

Zing! That was harsh. I take it back mostly.

If you’re new around here, let’s catch up real quick: I do 365 challenges, I have a series called Lollipop Tuesdays where I blog about having tried something new that I totally suck at, and sometimes I have contests. The Gauntlet was a contest where I combined these things and challenged everyone to pick something they suck at and do it every day for 30 Days, no cheating. When they were done, they were to write to me about it so I could judge their awesomeness. The most awesome wins a $100 Visa Gift Card.

Behold, Judgment Day has come.

I should come right out at the start and say that most of you sucked at this. Which is okay. It’s hard to make time to do the same thing every day for 30 days. Work happens. Kids happen. Oversleeping happens. Lots of things are there to get in the way before your brain even has the chance to try to talk you out of it.

It’s amazing, the variety of things we suck at. Some of us suck at being more proactive about job hunting, others at taking time to be creative, and still some at keeping in touch with certain people. There were promises to be more social, oaths to wake up early every day, and the ever-popular commitments to exercise.

But most of you failed. Kind of pathetically so. I received confessions of all kinds – texts, calls, in-person confrontations… people treating me like their priest, walking me through the things that tend to hold them back, the thought process that led up to stopping… humans are strange creatures.

I should note here that establishing habit is attempting to break your will, discipline your mind, and change the way you’re wired in order to redefine comfortable. People sell all their things, go to India, shave their heads and join monasteries to do this. This is not an easy task.

That’s why I was impressed by every single submission I got from readers who completed the challenge. And while I appreciated every single one of them and could see how hard each person worked to overcome obstacles, I’m fortunate that one submission was a clear standout to make the job easier.

The winning submission logged each day of their Gauntlet participation in a journal detailing activities, dedicated their participation to a cause, and is hoping to use the winnings to donate even more. Isn’t that ridiculous?

Michelle Laurie initially joined The Gauntlet quietly. She didn’t tell anyone, she didn’t even email me – she just made up her mind to do something for at least an hour every day to help animals, educate herself, or call others to veganism. But when she realized that a $100 gift card could really help her cause so she raised the bar and spent the next 30 days watching documentaries, ordering campaign materials, compiling and distributing information packs, working at Vegan Society bake sales, and even sponsored a hen named Scrags.

Like I said: ridiculous. You can read all about it here.

So here’s to you, Ms. Michelle Laurie. You’re the clear winner of The Gauntlet and I’m inspired by the depth of your commitment to a cause and your ability to go all in. You’ll be hearing from me shortly.

But I’m not done. I mean, I’m done with Michelle but I’m not done talking about awesome people. Though I’m far too poor to be establishing award-receiving runners-up, I would really like Annette Padfield over in this corner of the Interwebz to take a nice big bow.

Though Annette technically failed because she missed one day of the thirty,  she managed an enormous feat of a different kind: she completed the contest anyway.

So many people say they’re going to do something, mess up, and take the energy that could be spent on trying again immediately on focusing on their suckiness.

We all suck. There’s no need to get all inside yourself about it. It’s okay. 

Annette treated herself to a needle felting machine and let it gather dust in the corner for a long time until she challenged herself to make something with it every day for 30 days. There was one day within that span that she produced absolutely nothing.  She could have given up, because that was a pretty big bummer and she’s tried to commit to things in the past and failed. Instead she just pretended that day didn’t happen when she woke up the next day, finished the challenge, and in the spirit of being a finisher, emailed me her update – confession and all.

So that’s pretty awesome. Also, I didn’t know a needle felting machine was a thing. It’s a thing. Take a bow, Annette. I’m too poor to give you a real reward, which is good because people who did their challenge without missing a day would probably resort to violence, but you’re awesome for making a way instead of making excuses. 

This concludes The Gauntlet. There will be no more tweets or posts or hounding about it, and there will no longer be an enormous picture of a gauntlet in my right sidebar. It’s been replaced instead by an updated layout, buttons to stalk me, and a rabid bunny you can click on for a random post. Enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who entered; I’m impressed by all of you. Some of you started year-long challenges, some of you inspired others to join, and some of you simply learned a little more about yourselves. All impressive things. If ever you’re feeling down on yourself for missing a day or not putting forth as much effort as you’d have like, just remember that just by continuing to try you’re getting closer to your goal than all the people who are still paralyzed by their most recent defeat.

And to all those paralyzed people, remember: any day is a good day to get back on the train. 


The Best Macaroni and Cheese in the World

30 Dec

“The time has come”, the walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax–of cabbages–and kings–“

and the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

It took me a few months, several pounds of macaroni, and a lot of money in cheese, but I have finally found a macaroni so wonderfully delicious that I shall deem it the best macaroni and cheese in the entire world.  

Technically, it’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe that was submitted to my Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure post and it’s completely subjective to Dave’s and my taste.  But since we can only make conclusions from the evidence presented to us thus far in life and because I have not found a better recipe in my entire life, I can confidently conclude that there is no better dish to be served in the realm of the patriotic and cheesy than what I’m about to share with you:

Congratulations to thesinglecell, who submitted a recipe for a yummylicious pasta and cheese combination and is soon to be the proud owner of a $25 Visa Gift Card for the tip.  

There’s something Raclette does when it makes sweet, hot, oven love to heavy cream, Parmesan and sharp Cheddar that makes a gooey cheesiness so delicious you’ll swear it’s made of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust.  

This is not a picture of the macaroni I made. This is just random food porn. I'm not a food blogger; I'm just a girl in search of a dream of delicious cheesy pasta. Also, Wylio.com didn't have much to offer in the way of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust pics.

So if you’ve got an hour to kill, some money to donate toward the good cause of cheese production, and a good whisking hand, make an attempt at thesinglecell’s submission below.  I dare you to tell me rainbow dust isn’t delicious.

1/2 lb pasta of your choice, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
5 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
3 oz. Raclette, cubed (a white, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese… a good grocery store with a cheese bar may be your best bet)
1/4c. Parmesan, grated
1 3/4c. heavy cream
3/4c. milk
Paprika for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Pour cooked, drained pasta into 9×9″ pan.
Blend flour, mustard and salt together in a small bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour, salt and mustard and stir until blended.
Add milk and cream, stirring or whisking until dry ingredients are dissolved and liquid is hot, but not boiling (after you pour in the milk/cream, you can increase your heat to medium if you need to).
Add Raclette, stirring/whisking occasionally until cheese melts. Repeat for cheddar and parmesan, stirring/whisking often so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta; sprinkle with paprika and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Then broil until top is golden.
And, um, for extra incredibleness? Fry 3-4 slices of bacon first, drain them, and then crumble them into the pasta before you put the cheese sauce in.
Bon appetit!

So congratulations again to thesinglecell and congratulations to all of you as well.  Because even if you didn’t win a $25 Visa Gift Card like she did, you still won a darn good recipe.  

One more post to go, ya’ll.  See you tomorrow for my 365 Project/postaday2011 sign-off. 

The Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure

9 Oct

Okay listen.  I need your help.

I am trying desperately to find the most fantastic recipe for macaroni and cheese possible.

Possible.  Do you understand?

I keep trying recipe after recipe and each casserole dish is a big batch of sorrow.  I’m starting to doubt my ability as a homemaker and as an American.  After all, vats of bubbling cheese and white, nutritionless pasta is what we rock.  And we rock it hard.   So where has my patriotism gone?

How can I make this happen?  I keep scouring the Internet for recipes and trying them.  I take them from sites with really fantastic food porn.

You know what I’m talking about – food porn.  Blown up images of things melting or bubbling or flaking just perfectly.   It’s sexy.  It’s almost raunchy.  And you’re huddled in a quiet corner as you fantasize about the possibilities that a cinnamon the size of your head could bring to your life.  Or if stuffing a cookie with your favorite candy bar really does make it taste twice as good.

Mmmm Food Porn.

Why should you help me find the most amazing macaroni and cheese recipe ever? You should do it because a truly good macaroni and cheese is a kind of delicious that everyone should share.  You should do it because I’ll blog about the one that truly rocks my world and I’ll take fantastic food porn pictures of it and link to your site or your cause or a picture of your dog – whatever you have that may make use of linking.

You should do it because I’ll give you a $25 Visa Gift Card.

No really – I will.  That’s how badly I want a good mac and cheese recipe.  And you know I’m good for my word.  Remember my grand TheJackieBlog t-shirt raffle?  Those folks got their shirts.  Here’s proof.   Doesn’t the idea of $25 American dollars make you want to scour the Internet and your recipe books for the best of the best? 

So give me everything you’ve got – macaroni tips, macaroni recipes, macaroni sites – I’ll take it all.  And I’ll labor over every word and ingredient until I am a Macaroni and Cheese Master.  I’ll cook it all  up like a mad scientist and when I’m done I’ll share with everyone the best recipe of all and I’ll give a $25 Visa Gift Card to the one who submitted the winning recipe.  Tell your friends. 

But only the ones who can cook. 

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