Liebster Award: 11 Great Blogs!

Pary Moppins nominated me for a Liebster Award!  I am honored to be recognized by this perfectly practical blogger who offers such tips as a mnemonic for teaching kids to set the table and 20 very useful kitchen tools and how to make smelly shoes smell better.

The funny thing is, when I received a Liebster Award last year, the rules were different!  I smell a folk process at work–like one of those games of “Telephone” in which each person along the line attempts to repeat the same thing but winds up changing it a little bit.  Oh, well, at least this will be fun to write….

First, I’m supposed to tell 11 random things about myself.  I’ll try to make these things that aren’t already mentioned somewhere in The Earthling’s Handbook.
  1. My Myers-Briggs personality type is ENTJ.  I am very close to the center of the extravert-introvert continuum, though: I strongly prefer being with people to being alone (except in the bathroom!) but I often have various elaborate things going on inside my head at the same time.
  2. If I were suddenly offered a month off work, I would go to London and thoroughly explore it, as well as taking some trains to other parts of Europe.  I’ve always wanted to go there, but it never seems quite feasible with the amount of Paid Time Off available.
  3. I collect Sears catalogs.  Actually, some of them are JCPenney catalogs.  I have about 20 of them, from 1902 to 2004.  (I do not have one from the 1950s, if anybody wants to get me a present!)  It’s a lot of fun looking at what was available, and what it cost, in each era.  Sometimes the written descriptions are unintentionally hilarious, especially in 1902 when Sears sold medical devices and there were not yet any restrictions on the claims one could make about what a product could do for the user.
  4. From age 11 to 15, I self-published a little magazine called House on Jimae Lane and sold subscriptions.  (I also produced about a dozen issues of House on Jimae Lane between ages 4 and 11, but I drew those by hand, so there was only one copy of each.)  It was a lot of fun but also a lot of work!  Writing online is much easier.
  5. I am mostly ambidextrous.  (Brushing my teeth or using scissors with my left hand, or screwing lids onto jars and bottles with my right hand, is very difficult.)  It’s a huge advantage in my work as data manager of a social science research study–I can operate the computer mouse with one hand while writing down numbers with the other hand.  When I worked as a dishwasher, I saved a lot of time by being able to gather forks in my left hand and spoons in my right, simultaneously, from giant trays of mixed silverware.
  6. I never write in cursive, except for my signature.
  7. I detest 3/4-length sleeves and capri pants.  They remind me of sixth grade, when I grew six inches in eight months.
  8. I have been a Star Wars and Doctor Who fan since I was five years old.
  9. If I need to draw something–just to test some drawing materials or because somebody is asking me to draw–I draw a panda standing under a rainbow.  This has been my standard picture for about 30 years.  In general, though, I’m much less interested in drawing pictures than in drawing diagrams like floor plans, flow charts, and family trees–or, if I want a soothing artistic experience, I fill a whole page with colorful plaid or similar methodical patterns.
  10. I like peeling things, such as sycamore bark or old paint.  It is amazing to me that, among the many lumpy-trunked sycamores along Pittsburgh’s streets, there are some with layers and layers of old bark just hanging off them–how can all the other passersby resist the temptation??
  11. Spelling comes very naturally to me, but every once in a while I have trouble with a word, and even when I’ve double-checked the correct spelling it still just doesn’t look right to me.  See recipient, below.  I want to put another E in it somewhere.
Next, I’m supposed to answer the 11 questions the nominator has asked me.  Since she didn’t say otherwise, I’ll assume these are to be the same questions she answered.
  1. Favorite book?  I have a lot of favorite books!  How about, What’s the last book you read?  Quite a Year for Plums by Bailey White, a novel about a bunch of quirky characters in south Georgia.  The next book I am going to read is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  The floor-plan book I’ve been gazing at most recently is the Aladdin “Built in a Day” House Catalog of 1917.
  2. Cats or dogs?  Cats.  I am allergic to dogs, and I don’t care for their typical personalities, although I occasionally meet a dog I can really respect.
  3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  I wouldn’t be surprised if I were still working as data manager of the Pittsburgh Youth Study!  We keep getting grants for more rounds of interviews with our participants, who are now in their thirties.  One of these days we’ll have to rename it the Pittsburgh Middle-Aged Guy Study or something.  Speaking of aging guys, in 10 years my son Nicholas will be a high school senior–wow!
  4. What is your favorite form of social networking?  Gee, I guess blogging–I enjoy hopping around reading stuff, commenting, and linking things together.  I love the Web, and I find that most people who enjoy writing enough to set up a blog are clearer thinkers and better spellers than the general population that’s been online since Eternal September began.  I don’t do Facebook or Twitter.  I recently started using Pinterest for my “check out these interesting things!” links, but I’m kind of peeved with some aspects of Pinterest and don’t spend a lot of time there.  Overall, I’m disturbed by how “social networking” seems to be replacing “socializing” in a lot of people’s lives these days.
  5. What are you most excited about in 2013?  Continuing some positive trends in my life that began in the summer of 2012: streamlining some of my data management processes at work (complicated to explain, but it’s very exciting for me to be making things better) and improving my relationship with Daniel.  Also, having completed my three-year term on the church vestry means I will have some extra time available, which I hope to use for wonderful activities that do not involve taking on another major volunteer commitment right away!
  6. Favorite holiday?  Hmmm…I like each holiday in its time and enjoy the cycle of seasons coming around each year.  Over the years, the church holidays have come to mean more and more to me, especially Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday.  I also love the family celebration, decorations, and carols at Christmas–but not the glitzy advertising.
  7. Coffee or Tea?  I love both!  I drink coffee every day.  I always have a cup of peppermint tea at the beginning of my workday, and if the office is chilly (as it usually is, year-round) I drink more herbal tea during the day to keep my fingers from going numb.  At home in cold weather, I like rooibos tea to warm me up.  I like green and black teas, too, especially pineapple-ginger green tea.
  8. What do you do in your spare time?  I play a lot of number-based games–for example, I draw imaginary family trees in which birthdates and relationships are determined by random numbers, and I have many simpler games I can play in my mind without needing to write anything.  I feel weird about playing these games so much, but over time I’ve come to realize that they are a form of data management and that playing them undoubtedly sharpens my skills for work!  Also, I like to play Rambling Sprawl Estates or play other games with my family and friends.
  9. Any weird habits?  I always chew my first bite of food on the left side of my mouth, next bite on the right, and continue alternating, making it come out even.  Probably this prevents uneven wear on my teeth, but my real motivation is some half-conscious idea of “fairness” that developed before I can remember.  No, it’s not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–if for some reason I have to chew more on one side, that doesn’t bother me in any lingering way.
  10. What’s your favorite smell?  Lilacs.  Or grilled onions.  Not at the same time.
  11. How many siblings do you have?  One brother, Ben, who has written guest posts for me about turning annoying ragweed into useful fertilizer and rewiring an old house.

Finally, I’m supposed to nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers to receive the Liebster Award.  Eleven!!  Last time it was 5.  At this rate, not only will everybody in the world receive a Liebster Award, but a few years from now just one recipient will be forced to nominate all other blogs in the universe….

After mulling over this for a while, I decided I will nominate 11 blogs that I feel are worth a look that are not to my knowledge wildly popular–I will not bother looking up exactly how many followers they have–and that have not received a Liebster Award already from me or from anyone else so far as I have noticed.  (For a research professional, I seem to be a bit lazy at doing research sometimes….)

  1. Click Clack Gorilla is an American-born musician, writer, and mother now living in a Wagenplatz (kind of like a hobbit-style trailer park) in Germany.  Here’s a recent day in her life.  She also writes about interesting things like gender differences in country-music ballads about murder and who’s better than Harry Potter.
  2. This (sorta) Old Life is the story of Rita and Cane fixing up the house where they live with their children from previous marriages.  It’s part how-to manual, part eye candy, part philosophy, and always grounded in the uniqueness of these particular five people and the things they find to make their home.  I normally find home-improvement blogs pretty tedious.  Here’s what makes this one different.
  3. My Sister’s Pantry is written by two sisters who like to cook healthy, frugal, mostly vegetarian food, working from the basic principle that keeping a variety of good ingredients in stock makes it easy to cook good meals.  They cheerfully talk us through the process of improving kitchen habits, with plenty of encouragement and recipes.  We recently tried their Mac & Cheese Without the Box, and it was every bit as easy and tasty as promised!
  4. Green Idea Reviews evaluates various ideas for reducing one’s environmental impact.  Victoria, who is employed outside the home and expecting her third child, finds time to try a lot of little things that make a difference, and she writes them up in a consistent format that’s pretty objective while also giving her personal opinions and experiences.
  5. Small Steps on Our Journey is Rachel’s story of her family’s ongoing efforts to be good stewards of God’s Creation while still enjoying good food, fashion, and fun!  She has an even easier way to use up the bread heels than any of my unwanted bread tricks. (I think her kids must be a little less annoyingly observant than mine is!)
  6. Unintended Housewife was a woman who was unemployed and working out how to be a housewife, when I first saw her blog.  Now she has a baby and is in more of a typical stay-at-home mother role, but I still really enjoy her perspective on life, especially her Are You Freaking Kidding Me?! series.
  7. Hyperbole and a Half is a dead blog–the author is no longer posting to it–and that’s why I’m not linking to the homepage.  But if your sense of humor is anything like mine, you’ll want to read every post in this hilarious collection of personal stories, many of which are illustrated with the author’s own cartooning.  [WARNING: Some posts contain effusive profanity.  Some are unsuitable for children in other ways.]  These are just a few of my favorites:
    • Sneaky Hate Spiral: A hilarious yet perceptive explanation of how a few little annoyances can add up to overwhelm you with rage.
    • This Is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult: An excellent depiction of the relationship between responsibility and morale, complete with graph.
    • The Alot: A handy strategy for coping when you see terrible grammar and punctuation on the Internet.
    • Skeleton Man: Unusual temporary school building + inappropriate Halloween story = months of torment for a second-grader.
    • PLEASE STOP!!!: An extremely effective strategy for controlling children’s behavior…and the work-around.

    Oy. You know what? In order to list 4 more not-so-popular blogs that I really think are really worth reading–overall, not just for one or two specific posts–I’d have to browse around for a while, and I honestly don’t have time–it’s already taken me weeks to write this post, a little at a time, and I have a deadline approaching at work, and I’ve just got to accept this award already! I will come back later, as I discover new blogs or rediscover good ones I’d forgotten, and fill in the rest of this list. I promise not to give any awards to blogs that are not worthy.

    UPDATE: Okay! Nearly six months later, I am ready to finish this list!

  8. Tell Me Why the World Is Weird is the musings of a female math nerd, raised in the United States and now living in China, who is still a Christian but questions many of the popular ideas of fundamentalism on such subjects as love and modesty.  She also posts some great collections of links to other interesting things on the Web.
  9. Kate’s Apartmentsteading is about a single mother’s efforts to “homestead” in an apartment.  Kate is an interesting vegan Muslim hippie artist who writes about all sorts of topics, from how she repaired and repainted a yard-sale rocking chair to the disturbing effects of a common cereal preservative on her child to why she quit wearing a bra.  She’s even taken on the difficult topic of how Muslims contribute to anti-Muslim bias in the United States–complete with funny ironic graphics.
  10. Amber Strocel has been writing her site for a decade and still has only slightly over 200 followers, so I think she deserves this award for her supposedly unfocused collection of writing!  Many of her articles are about raising her children, but her name isn’t Mommy.  She also thinks critically about Earth Day and shares 10 Things to Love About Canada and explains why she’s willing to walk alone at night.
  11. Stuffed Veggies is a food blog written by a Greek Orthodox vegan who shares helpful advice for coexisting with omnivores.  She posts lots of recipes for interesting salads, variations on traditional Greek foods, and even breakfast ice creams.

So, there are 7 blogs, anyway, 11 blogs that work for me for lunch-break reading! Uh oh, it’s 2:00…back to work!!

7 thoughts on “Liebster Award: 11 Great Blogs!

  1. I resonate with #7 – I had a similar growth spurt in grades 5-6, and although I’m now only at the “taller end of average”, my limbs must be longer than average, so I still have trouble finding pants and shirts that are long enough, and I avoid capris and 3/4 sleeves.

  2. Thanks so much Becca!! Just re-read the loose requirements, and I guess I don’t really qualify if the numbers are as such. But fuck it. I am flattered, and I’ve finally got around to mentioning it in a post that will be going up tomorrow. Thanks again… 🙂

  3. Pingback: mein liebster freund(e) | click clack gorilla

  4. Thanks for sharing these blogs. I only recently discovered the world of blogging (as a reader). I find myself jumping from one blog to the next with a link and I forget where I started and what I was checking on in the first place. I have learned a lot about living green this way, which brought me to your blog a couple of weeks ago.

  5. Pingback: 11 Blogs Worth Reading | The Earthling's Handbook

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