Merry Christmas from the House of Annie

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-2, 8-11 (New King James Version)

Christmas Display at Tang’s Dept Store, Orchard Rd, Singapore

Tang's Orchard Rd Singapore Christmas Display

May you have a joyous holiday season!

Merry Christmas, Selamat Hari Natal, and Mele Kalikimaka from House of Annie.

Cheers and Aloha, Annie and Nate

Defeating Comment Spam Bots

Here’s how I dropped virtually all of my comment spam, with no extra challenge fields to hinder human commenters.

no spam logo by david hegarty

logo by David Hegarty (License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic)

I hate spam. I don’t mean the  canned Hormel pork product that is so tasty in Spam musubi or Spam fried rice. I mean all the unwanted comments and links to any manner of dubious websites invading this blog’s  comments section.

House of Annie is a WordPress-powered blog that used to get a moderate amount of comment spam. Spambots – computers run by spammers to automatically leave comments on blogs – were becoming an increasing nuisance. Like most WordPress blog owners, I use the Akismet anti-spam plugin as my first line of defense against comment spam.

But sometimes Akismet either lets a spam comment through or shunts a legitimate comment over to the Spam queue (a “false positive”). That’s why I moderate comments as well, only letting previously approved commenters get automatic posting privileges. It’s a second line of defense for the ones that gets past Akismet, but doesn’t help with false positives that may be sitting in the Spam queue.

If there are a lot of comments in the spam queue, it’s not so easy to find these false positives. It’s almost like finding a needle in a haystack. As this blog has gotten more popular, that haystack has gotten bigger. I needed to find a way to reduce the comment spam, but did not want to use CAPTCHA or math challenge-response plugins that stop spambots but slow down human commenters.

I think I found my answer.

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Common Lime Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio demoleus)

Meet “Limey”, the lime-eating caterpillar:

Common Lime Swallowtail Butterfly Papilio demoleus 5th instar

We have a kaffir lime tree in a large clay pot in our carport. Kaffir lime is a wonderful ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking, particularly Thai dishes. We’ve used kaffir lime leaf in many recipes, including Stir fried Pork with Long Beans, Thai Green Curry, and Wild Salmon Cakes with Kaffir Lime and Ginger.

One day, I spotted what at first appeared to be some bird poop on one of the leaves. It actually turned out to be a caterpillar, as evidenced by the obvious circular-shaped cuts showing up on some of the leaves that this “poop” was on. Every morning, I took a look at the plant to observe the progress of the “poop”.

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October Top Commenter: Roti-n-Rice

Meet Biren, from the Roti-n-Rice blog, who is a top commenter for the month of October. Biren has been an active commenter since our Pandan Spiral Mooncake post, which inspired her to make some beautiful Butternut Squash Mooncakes of her own.

Roti-n-Rice

Just like the previous two top commenters, I want to thank Biren for being a top commenter by introducing her site to you. She recently completed a move from Blogspot to Wodpress, and her site looks great! At less than a year old, Roti-n-Rice is an impressive recipe site with a large and active following.

Here’s our fun little “interview”.

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About Us

My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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