Before getting to the real topic of today’s post, I wanted to share this post from Prison Fellowship, which picked up on my mention of the Angel Tree project in last week’s post on letting our kids lead us toward giving at Christmas.
This week, I’ll be posting several year-end lists, starting with today’s list of great blogs I discovered this year. I subscribe to many blogs through Google Reader, but there are only a handful that inspire me to read nearly every post. If any of these pique your interest, I encourage you to check them out, subscribe, and above all, comment now and then to let the bloggers know that they have an appreciative reader out there.
Eat With Joy – One of this year’s unexpected gifts has been getting to know Rachel Stone, whom I first met (well, truthfully we’ve never met in person, but that will change in 2012) when we were both blogging for Christianity Today. Rachel introduced herself with an e-mail letting me know that she and her two boys, like me and my daughter, have the genetic bone disorder osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). That fact blew me away…that of a dozen or so writers contributing to the CT women’s blog, two of us have this relatively rare bone disorder. She certainly got my attention. But I’ve become a friend, and a fan, for reasons that have nothing to do with our shared diagnosis. Rachel blogs about food, faith, and justice at Eat With Joy. She examines our culture’s bizarre relationship with food, how Christian faith interacts with the ways we cook and eat, and shares both recipes and wisdom gained from her own history with an eating disorder. Rachel gets right to the heart of the matter with relatively few words. Reading her blog regularly won’t take much time, but it will change how you cook, shop, and eat for the better.
Catherine Newman — This is cheating a bit, because I’ve actually been reading nearly everything Catherine writes for about 10 years now, but I justify her inclusion because earlier in 2011, she stopped blogging for other people and started posting regularly on her own blog instead. I first came across Catherine’s funny, honest writing about parenthood on the BabyCenter blog she kept for several years when my kids, and hers, were young. Eventually, she started posting weekly recipes on a blog hosted by Disney, and then when that gig ended last winter, started doing the same on her own blog. I love her recipes and her attitude toward food and healthy eating, which is thoughtful without being preachy or perfectionist. Yes, she mills her own flour, makes her own crackers, and bottles homemade vanilla extract for holiday gifts. But she also puts Velveeta in her mac and cheese and a half-cup of sugar in her spaghetti sauce (a recipe I make about once a month), and once posted a recipe for “pizza toast,” which involves smearing tomato paste on sandwich bread and cutting up string cheese on top of it. But Catherine never writes only about food; the introductions to her recipes, with their keen, funny, poignant observations about life with growing children, are worth a read even if you never intend to try a single recipe.
What’s Good at Trader Joe’s – I didn’t realize until I started writing this that three of my four favorite new blogs have to do with food. Oh well…shows you where my mind is most of the time. This blog needs little introduction, as the title pretty much says it all. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, and could use a little help figuring out which of their unusual offerings to try, this is a great resource. Two couples take turns testing and writing about Trader Joe’s products, using a “spoon” rating system (the highest score is 10 spoons). I’ve discovered some great new things, as well as steered clear of products that would have otherwise appealed to me, on the basis of their reviews.
Introverted Church – Finally, a non-food blog! It probably says something about me, or maybe about the state of Christian blogdom, that I only have one purely faith-oriented blog on this list. There are very few Christian blogs that I truly read regularly. I often find them too preachy, too densely theological, too focused on a particular social or political position arising from the blogger’s faith, or too church-y. (Although please note I do follow other faith-oriented blogs that I urge you to check out, such as Amy Julia Becker’s Thin Places and Jana Riess’s Flunking Sainthood, but didn’t include them on this list because they were not new to me this year.) Introverted Church is the blogging home of Adam McHugh, who wrote…you guessed it…Introverts in the Church (which I plan to review here eventually). But while he and his many guest posters do write about the particular joys and struggles of being an introverted Christian, the blog also features excellent advice for authors and other nuggets. I was part of a four-week series of guest posts on A Quiet Advent that is worth reading even though Advent is now over.
So there they are—the four best blogs I discovered this year. I hope you’ll check them out, and also let us know in the comments if you have any great blogs you have discovered this year.