September 2008 Blogtipping

Blogtipping iconLately, our West Texas weather has been unseasonably mild and we’ve had much more rain in the past several weeks than we normally get all Summer.   These cool & overcast days have made it feel like Fall is arriving early and there’s just something about that which makes you feel like firing up the oven.   Plus, as new parents, we’re trying to cook more at home anyway…

So this month’s Blogtipping is focused on cooking & recipe sites.

Now, these sites don’t have recipes for, as The Curmudgeon would put it:   "Teeny, tiny portions of pigeon meat, set atop a brillo pad and covered by a contrasting caramelized ooze, resting next to a little dollop of white turnips or a slice of some vegetable you’ve never heard of."   No, these blogs offer easy-to-make dishes that real people would enjoy containing common ingredients you’ll be able to readily track down — or may even already have on-hand.

As you may recall, "Blogtipping" is an chance for us to share 3 things we like — and offer a tip or constructive comment — about 3 blogs each month.   So here are our picks for September:

Kalyn’s Kitchen by Kalyn Denny is a great blog that combines a love for cooking with a commitment to healthy, lower-glycemic food that fits within the South Beach plan.   It’s definitely worth a look because of:

  1. The site is a great resource for all sorts of low-carbohydrate info & practical tips to help keep on track with that style of dietary goal.
  2. Lots of great low-carb recipes that are anything but lacking in flavor or variety.
  3. Simple & clean site layout makes it easy to navigate around.
  • Tip: There’s so much content on the main page, it can be a little overwhelming, but it’s well worth taking the time to explore the sidebars.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is just one section of an impressive & diverse website by Ree, a.k.a. Pioneer Woman, a transplanted Californian in dusty Oklahoma.   Why do you need to check out her site?

  1. Step-by-step instructions with detailed photos makes even more involved dishes easy.
  2. The very active community of readers means there’s always other ideas & tips related to Ree’s articles.
  3. The recipes offered are tried & true, using mostly common, simple ingredients.
  • Tip: There’s so much going right on this site, I can’t think of a single thing to add!

The Peanut Butter Blog is a fun, fairly new blog dedicated to peanut butter!

  1. Loads of great, easy recipes!
  2. Links to all sorts of fun & funky peanut & peanut butter -related food & accessories.
  3. You can subscribe via RSS feed to stay up on the latest stuff.

Do you have a favorite food-related blog or website?   Post a comment and share it with us!

August Blogtipping

Blogtipping iconI like words with dual-personalities and so it’s all the more fun that I can say that the sites I’ve selected for the August Blogtipping are indeed an august (meaning noble, honored, impressive, or eminent) group.   This month’s picks are all part of the ever-growing and diverse ranks of Permian Basin bloggers:

Double Danger is James Cross’ foray into gardening, barbeque, & all sorts of other interesting stuff and it’s worth a look because:

  1. Loads of practical tips for making the most of your time in the backyard.
  2. James isn’t afraid to share his gardening dissappointments right along with the successes.
  3. Simple & clean site layout makes it easy to navigate around.
  • Tip: Hey James, maybe you could post some photos of your outdoor cooking gear?

Your Photo Tips from Damien Franco provides useful digital photography tips, techniques, & tutorials:

  1. The content is clear enough for even rank novices can understand & apply.
  2. The impressive photos featured on the blog!
  3. Keep up to date with either email or RSS feed subscription.
  • Tip: I’d like to see more regional photos to showcase some of the West Texas that’s not as well-known.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sticky Doorknobs by Jimmy Patterson, veteran blogger, seasoned writer, and a man whose charitability clearly outweighs his fear of heights.   This blog is always at the top of my Google Reader list because:

  1. Jimmy’s wit & wisdom shine through in his writing.
  2. I admire the sense of community that "Sticky Doorknobs" inspires.
  3. Jimmy’s musical tastes & trivia contests keep me on my toes!
  • Tip: Hey Jimmy, when ya gonna beef up that "About" page a bit?

Bonus:   Not only is this site a part of the thriving virtual neighborhood of the Permian Basin, but Clems’ house is barely half a block down the street, so how could I not mention Clems & Soph’s   While it’s not a blog per se, their website has some great photo galleries, including lots of pictures of their daughter Sienna as well as Clems’ latest home improvement project that’s really amping up his house’s "curb appeal."

networked neighborhood

Be sure to check out the list of Midland-Odessa area bloggers over on the 2Dolphins Favorite Sites page.   And if you know of any regional bloggers whom I’ve omitted, please leave a comment and I’ll add ’em right away!

July 2008 Blogtipping

Blogtipping sign icon"Blogtipping" was created by Easton Ellsworth over at Business BlogWire to offer 3 complements & a tip or constructive comment to 3 fellow bloggers each month.   With so much going on in analog world, Dede & I have barely had time to keep up with anything digital, so our Blogtipping for July is another assortment of unrelated, but still very cool blogs that we think you should take a peek at:

Let’s Explore by Amy Anderson offers lots of inventive & inexpensive activities, crafts, & even snacks for kids.   Dede wanted to highlight this site because:

  1. It features loads of things to keep kids hands & minds busy.
  2. Amy proves that kids’s stuff can be both frugal and fun!
  3. Great mini-reviews of children’s books.
  • Tip: Hey Amy, maybe you should add an "About" page so we can get to know a bit more about you?

The Simple Dollar from Trent Hamm offers "cents and sense" with simple ways to manage finances, save a little money, and improve your life.   This is a recent find that quickly landed in my Google Reader list because:

  1. Truckloads of practical finance & lifestyle tips.
  2. The blog is frequently updated with fresh & interesting new content and has lots of helpful reader comments.
  3. Clean & easy to navigate site design, plus email or RSS feed subscription.
  • Tip: The content is great, but I’d suggest adding a few more images to visually jazz up the posts.

I Do Things So You Don’t Have To is chocked full of all sorts of things, from kinda ordinary to adventurous to downright wacky, that JD is willing to let her readers experience vicariously through her.   There’s plenty to like about this blog:

  1. The author’s sharp wit makes even mundane "things" fun & interesting.
  2. Who else would live with a rodent, go on a crazy diet, have a tooth pulled, watch a crummy movie, or live through an allergic reaction — and then blog about it?
  3. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or have updates sent to you via email.
  • Tip: I can’t think of anything to add but I’m anxious to see what JD gets into next!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a new blog you’d like to share?   Post a comment!

Junetipping v2.0

Blogtipping iconWith most of the monthly Blogtipping posts I’ve done, there’s been a central topic or theme to tie together the 3 blogs I’m showcasing.   (It seemed relevant for this past April’s post, for example, to focus on finances for the sake of April 15th a.k.a. "Tax Day.")   However, June’s featured sites don’t really have a unifying theme;   It’s just another grab-bag of assorted, but very worthwhile blogs I’d like to recognize & share:

Glassy Eyes by Ira Mitchell aims to pull the curtain back on the mystifying & monopolistic world of prescription eyeglasses to show you how you can get quality glasses for as little as $20!   (Dede & I hadn’t discovered this blog before we gambled on , but given how well that worked out, I’m likely to try this for myself next time I’m ready for some new specs.)

  1. Ira’s not just talking smack here — he really wears glasses that were purchased online — several pairs, in fact.
  2. He arms you with all the info you need to confidently purchase eyewear online at a fraction of the prices of places like LensCrafters or EyeMasters!
  3. The site is chocked full of research, forums, articles, customer stories, retailer links, & even discount codes!
  • Tip: I’d sure like to see the forums moved from Google Groups to a more capable platform like vBulletin or PHPBB.

[Geeks are Sexy] is a group blog from Canada that focuses on a wide variety of fun technology news.   [GAS] is one of my regular reads because:

  1. Offbeat science & tech news & commentary.
  2. Frequently updated content means there’s always something fresh & interesting to read here.
  3. The website is clean & easy to navigate, but you can also subscribe via email or RSS feed.
  • Tip: Hey Kiltak, maybe you could arrange for more cool freebies like tech vendor swag?

The Art of Manliness calls itself "a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man."   Sure enough, it’s an incredible resource for guys — and even has a few things that’ll appeal to gals as well.   There’s lots to like here:

  1. Tons of useful & practical tips & techniques.
  2. Thought-provoking articles with loads of reader comments to keep the conversations going.
  3. I like the classic feel that the old-school artwork & photos give the site’s excellent design.
  • Tip: I can’t think of anything to add — this blog is awesome!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a new blog you’d like to share?   Post a comment!

Blogs May Be Tipping

Blogtipping iconBlogtipping is a chance to give a nod to some noteworthy fellow bloggers — after all, everyone likes a little pat on the back, right?   And you never know, this could be the tipping point for some lesser-known gem of a website to become an overnight sensation.   May’s installation is a grab-bag of assorted blogs that don’t have anything else in common other than, well, we think they’re worth checking out:

Blue Skunk Blog is a recent discovery but I’ve been enjoying keeping up with Doug, both on the blog & via email.   Doug Johnson, who is the Director of Media & Technology for the Mankato (MN) public school system, uses this as a sounding board for education- and technology-related topics among other things.   What’s not to like:

  1. Some great reading material about kids & technology.
  2. Be sure to check out Doug’s free e-book.
  3. Nice, clean site layout makes everything easy to find!
  • Tip: I’d like to see a page aggregating some of the reference material links that’re peppered throughout some of your posts — like the Alliance for Childhood’s Tech Tonic.

Simple Green World by Jeneflower is a brand new blog that Jen has spun off from her Three Sons and a Princess adoption blog.   Dede & I like this one because:

  1. Practical eco-friendly tips drawn from personal experiences.
  2. Jen’s "Living Mindfully" attitude is inspiring & infectious!
  3. Posts target the bigger picture — not just being greener, but also increasing the health of your family, decreasing expenses, reducing waste, & just being a better overall person.
  • Tip: I’d like to see a few more images & photos!

4 Reasons Why from brothers Mark & Sean Evans is a fun blog that I recently added to my Google Reader subscription list because:

  1. Each post features a short list of 4 (sometimes 5) items to support an idea or argument.
  2. I like the controversial angle that these guys take on topics.
  3. Very clean site design makes it easy to navigate & discover lots of interesting stuff.
  • Tip: Guys, your "About Us" page could use just a little more info and maybe include a photo so we know what you look like?

Now it’s your turn!   Post a comment to share one of your favorite blogs!

April ’08 Blogtipping – All About the Benjamins

Blogtipping iconWhat with April bringing a close to tax season and lots of people getting those handy rebate checks in, "personal finances" seemed like a really suitable topic for this month’s Blogtipping post.   The Internet is peppered with all kinds of great sites with terrific information about personal finances — far more than I could mention here — but here are 3 blogs I frequent that really have something special to offer:

Generation X Finance by Jeremy Vohwinkle has articles that’re geared towards "Generation X" but I keep coming back because:

  1. While the topics may be geared towards those in their late 20s – 30s, the great info here is applicable to anyone.
  2. Very practical packing tips!
  3. Clean site design!
  • Tip: Hey Jeremy, maybe you need a snazzy logo for your site?

Dumb Little Man from Jay White isn’t strictly a blog about money matters but it’s definitely worth a look because:

  1. Tons of useful articles on healthy living, personal development, organization, & finances.
  2. Easy-to-navigate site design!
  3. DLM Blender scoops up great posts from around the Web.
  • Tip: I’d like to see just a few more images in the posts.

Wise Bread is a fantastic group blog for personal finance & frugal living tips.   There’s lots to like about this community-driven site:

  1. Tons of practical & applicable tips for living large on a small budget.
  2. You’ll definitely want to subscribe via email or RSS feed to keep up with the very frequent updates.
  3. Very active forum provides a place to interact with others amd get even more info on making every penny count.
  • Tip: This is one of my never-miss mainstay blogs — I can’t think of anything that’s missing.

As a bonus, SNL offers a revolutionary debt & money-management program.   Chris Parnell teaches Steve Martin & Amy Poehler the secret to financial success.   Stop whatever you’re doing right now and go watch this hilarious video at


Now it’s your turn!   What are some of the personal finance blogs or sites that you frequent?   Post a comment and share the wealth!

February ’08 Blogtipping – Parentipping

Blogtipping iconAs prospective new parents, Dede & I tried to do whatever we could to prepare for this new role.   We took classes, read books, subscribed to magazines, and along the way, we also discovered a number of great blogs & web sites that offer loads of parenting innovations, insights, & inspiration.   Since February 1st was our official Gotcha Day, it seemed only appropriate to use this month’s Blogtipping post to showcase parenting blogs…

(Giving credit where it’s rightfully due, "Blogtipping" was coined by Easton Ellsworth over at Business BlogWire as an opportunity to say three nice things — and offer one suggestion for improvement — to three well-deserving fellow bloggers.)

ParentHacks from Asha Dornfest is one of Dede’s favorite blogs that offers, in their own words, "parenting tips from the real experts: actual parents."   I love the fun Swiss Army knife-inspired logo, but what really keeps us coming back is:

  1. The wealth of tips, tricks, & techniques that every parent — seasoned pros & newbies, alike — can use.
  2. Frequent updates means there’s always something fresh & new to discover!
  3. RSS subscription option makes keeping up-to-date with the site a breeze!
  • Tip: I can’t think of a single suggestion for improving this blog, so just get over there & check it out!

FamilyHack from Michael Davis & (naturally) his family features some great parenting tips.   I’ve refered to Michael’s blog before, but it’s worth mentioning again because of:

  1. Great articles with very practical & applicable pointers.
  2. Great travel tips from someone who’s obviously been there &amp back!
  3. Great videos with parenting tips & tricks.
  • Tip: What’s not to like?   I’m hoping that the Davis family has even more opportunities to add great content in ’08.

Healthy Children by Dr. Steven Parker on the WebMD site is a recent discovery but I’m finding that I really like his take on pediatric health issues & child-raising topics because:

  1. He doesn’t just go along with established notions without first doing some in-depth review.
  2. His posts cover a broad range, so there’s a wealth of info in the archives.
  3. You can subscribbe to the weekly articles via RSS feed.
  • Tip: The search feature on Dr. Parker’s blog is a little clunky and sometimes doesn’s seem very effective.

Now it’s your turn!   Is there a parenting or family-related blog site that you love?   Post a comment and share it with us!

January ’08 Blogtripping

Blogtipping iconInspired by our upcoming return trip to Moscow, I chose "travel" as the focal point of January’s Blogtipping post.   While it’s certainly exciting, travel can also sometimes be quite stressful.   But here are just a handful of great travel blogs that can help get you organized, ease some of your worries, and help prep for your next big trip:

Jauntly is a very new blog by Ilana Smith that’s dedicated to frugal, practical travel.   I’m keeping my eye on this blog because:

  1. Unlike some blogs that assume travel means cargo shorts & hiking boots, Jauntly has an "everyman" perspective — y’know, travel for the rest of us.
  2. Very practical packing tips!
  3. Clean site design!
  • Tip: It’s a new blog, so it just needs more posts.

TravelGearBlog from the BootsnAll Travel Network staff covers the world of travel gear & gadgets.   It’s worth a look because:

  1. Previews & reviews of loads of products for travellers.
  2. "How to" articles to make the most of your gadgets on the go.
  3. I really like those Weekly Gear Guides!
  • Tip: There’s lots of info on the gear, but not much yet on what to carry your stuff in — I’d like to see more bags & luggage reviewed.

Travelhacker is another fairly new resource for all types of globetrotters, from business travelers to vacation travelers on a shoestring budget that offers tips on bookings, vacation spots, and perks.   There’s lots to like about this blog:

  1. Tons of useful& very practical tips for travelers.
  2. Posts include a wide variety of tourism & travel topics.
  3. Frequent posts means there’s always fresh and interesting stuff to read on this blog!
  • Tip: The content is great, but could also benefit from a few photos here & there.

As a bonus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Travel category of Michael Davis’ excellent FamilyHack blog.   Michael & gang offer some great practical and (especially for us) very timely advice on traveling with kids.

luggage iconAlso be sure to check out Doug Dyment’s OneBag (formerly "The Compleat Carryon Traveller").   While this is more of a reference site rather than a blog, there’s a wealth of travel packing insights to be found there.   Even if you can’t quite commit to Doug’s philosophy to only ever travel with a single carry-on bag, you’re sure to find tons of useful information that you can use when preparing for your next excursion.

Now it’s your turn!   Have a favorite travel-related blog site you’d like to share?   Post a comment and let us in on it!

December ’07 Blogtipping

Blogtipping iconDecember’s Blogtipping post comes much later in the month than normal but it was delayed for the best of all reasons — we were in Moscow at the first of the month meeting our new son, Liam Matthew!   Anyway, better late than never, right?   In honor of our fellow adoptive parents, our picks for December feature just a few of the many, many great blogs done by other parents who’ve either already adopted, or will soon complete their adoption(s):

A Dad’s Journey Through International Adoption is Steve & Stefanie’s detailed account of their adoption of Andrei from Novosibirsk, Russia.   We love this blog because of:

  1. You get the rare "dad’s perspective" that’s missing from many adoption blogs.
  2. Steve’s a funny guy!
  3. Neat videos!
  • Tip: We’d like to see more photos & videos.

Olive You by Frank & Christen is a rare blog in that they haven’t actually started the adoption process yet:

  1. Christen writes about their experiences as they prepare for their Russian adoption in ’08.
  2. Very pretty site design & layout.
  3. Great sense of humor & variety of topics.
  • Tip: We’d just like to see more of those awesome Cayman Island photos!

Family Reunion from Dave & Debbie Brown is a great launching point for other adoption parents — international or domestic:

  1. Debbie’s frequently-updated sidebar makes it easy to keep up-to-date on the progress of lots of other parents’ adoption journeys.
  2. A great variety of post topics including reviews & little inspirational pieces.
  3. Frequent posts keep the interesting stuff coming.
  • Tip: Hey Deb, more pics please!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a favorite blog site you’d like to share?

October Blogtipping – Get Your "Green" On

Blogtipping iconBlog Action Day, an annual event where bloggers unite to focus on a single important global issue, is October 15th.   Its organizers chose "the environment" as this year’s theme because it’s an issue that can relate to virtually any subject, any blog, and anybody.   So, in honor of this, my Blogtipping picks for October are all about getting your "green" on:

AutoblogGreen is a group blog dedicated to highlighting environmentally-friendly automotive news.

  1. A wide range of car-related topics are covered — from energy-saving tips to alternative fuels to electric cars to hybrid mass transit!
  2. A steady stream of new articles keep things fresh &amp interesting.
  3. Subscribe via RSS to keep up with the latest posts.
  • Tip: I’m eager to see more Smart Car posts!

Ecotality Life covers a variety of "green" products, gadgets, & technologies.   The site’s worth a look because:

  1. Reviews & previews showcasing useful eco-friendly products.
  2. Lots of informative articles about interesting innovations & solutions.
  3. Clean, easy-to-navigate site layout.
  • Tip: I’d like to see more products aimed at the average consumer.

GroovyGreen is a group blog that highlights news, products, & people who’re promoting sustainability, reducing consumption, improving health, & finding cleaner alternatives.   There’s plenty to like at GroovyGreen:

  1. Practical & easy-to-apply tips for "greening" up your daily life.
  2. Very snazzy design makes it a snap to get around on the site.
  3. Up-to-the-minute Breaking News from around the web.
  • Tip: The main page can be a little overwhelming because it’s so packed with content…

Now it’s your turn!   If you know of other great ecologically-minded blog sites, please post a comment to share ’em with us!