Caught in the Web

 Bonkers Over Blogs

From home improvement hints to culinary commentary, A Review of Five Great Blog Sites


by Laura Emery, Field Editor 

Blog (n): a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also: the contents of such a site (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

When it comes to home-improvement blogs, Sherry and John Petersik of Richmond, Va., have made their mark in the blogosphere, by all accounts. With over 85 features in various magazines, newspapers, television programs, and websites, the little DIY diary blossomed from a part-time hobby to a full-time blog and business. “We’re definitely not experts, just DIY dorks who like to learn as we go and share our adventures and misadventures with the world,” they explain. They feature projects (all with detailed accompanying photos), answer reader questions, coordinate giveaways, and manage sponsors for their burgeoning blog. They have also written a New York Times-listed bestselling book titled Young House Love. It all started with their first house. “We bought it back in 2006 after coming off of a combined eight years of living in Manhattan. Armed with a little bit of know-how and a lot of enthusiasm, we decided to make our little needs-some-love house into a love-it-to-pieces home,” Sherry explains. So what makes this home-improvement blog stand out from the thousands of home-improvement websites out there? The fact that visitors get to go on the daily home-improvement journey with the Petersiks and learn from their mistakes and get inspired by their successes. After reading this blog, visitors will not only fall in love with the young couple and their 2-year-old toddler, but will be inspired to tackle some DIY projects of their own.

The blog’s tagline says it all: Save Money. Save Energy. Live Better. With entries from a variety of different writers, this blog contains many wonderful articles on how to do just that — save money, save energy, and live better. ECOtistical vs. EGOtistical is one such blog entry — where blogger Caroline Egan explains that “being ecotistical is about knowing what types of information to share with your friends and family about being eco-conscious” without being egotistical. “First, never sound preachy,” she writes. “For example ‘What do you mean you don’t recycle? Don’t you know the polar bears are dying?’ Rather you could say, ‘I once read that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod and recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two whole weeks! That’s why I try to recycle as much as I can, because it is often the littlest things that help.’ People are much more willing to listen to you if you don’t link their failing to be eco-conscious to a massive problem (like the population of polar bears).” Other topics covered include solar panels, federal tax credits for residential energy efficiency, ductless heat pumps, LEED certification, and energy audits.

Just as the title conveys, this blog is written by a photography enthusiast who is learning as he goes. “I hope this blog helps somebody else discover the power in their hands with a modern digital SLR and capture special images!” he writes. Recent blog entries include: “What are F-Stops,” “Lens Dilemma,” “The Magic Buttons of Happiness,” and “What do more X’s get you?” This writer decided to write his blog in layman’s terms — foregoing the technical industry-specific lingo that tends to be prolific in many of the other popular photography blogs. “Jargon and complexity,” as he puts it, just isn’t his style. So if you’re someone who wants to be a great photographer and capture amazing memories, but doesn’t quite have all of the know-how, this blog is a great resource. Easy to read and easy to understand.

This humorously titled cooking blog is written by a woman named Nicole, who started the blog five years ago while she was living in Italy. “I have always loved to cook, but the sights, sounds and tastes of Sicily inspired me in ways I never could have imagined,” she explains. Through her blog, Nicole welcomes visitors into her kitchen. Gorgeous high-quality photos of the most beautiful culinary creations tempt readers to keep reading, while easy-to-do recipes keep them coming back for more. Whether it’s cranberry white chocolate pecan cookies or baked white bean dip with rosemary and Parmesan, there’s something featured to please every palette.

This blog is written by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a very popular veterinarian on the web. A graduate of the prestigious UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine with experience in both emergency and general practice, “Dr. V,” as she is known on her website, started her award-winning blog in 2009 as a way to share her enthusiasm with the world. “I’ve always been a dog person, unabashed, and proud of it. From the time my first Lhasa bit me at 8 years old, then snuggled into my arm before pooping in my shoe, it was all over. I’m helpless,” she writes in one of her entries. But don’t go to this blog thinking you’ll be reading post after post on the best dog collars or how to train your animals, because this isn’t a blog about being a veterinarian. Instead, it’s a blog about this veterinarian and her life. With excellent writing ability and a good sense of humor, she welcomes you into her world and into the world of her home full of pets.

Be sure and check out part two of this column in the next issue for more great blog reviews.


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