Top 17 Articles of 2017

This isn’t really a blog.  It’s a constantly expanding reference book.  Most years, the most popular articles are more than a year old–they’ve had more time for other sites to link to them.

I’ve made two Top 17 lists here: The articles written in 2017 that were most popular, and the articles that were overall most popular in 2017.  There’s no overlap!

One thing that’s changed here at The Earthling’s Handbook in the past two years is that I’ve become a regularly contributing writer at Kitchen Stewardship.  My articles there link to articles here, and vice versa, so readers tend to pop back and forth between the sites.  Also, my 11 Kitchen Stewardship articles published in 2017 all were at least as popular as my top 17 articles in The Earthling’s Handbook…so I’ve made a list of my Kitchen Stewardship articles, too!

Top 17 Earthling’s Handbook Articles Published in 2017

1. Go Green in 2017: How to Clean.  After 20 years of experience with Earth-friendly household products, we wrote this guide to cleaning a typical home.  We recommend the best brands of dish and dishwasher detergent, all-purpose cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, antibacterial spray, furniture polish, and hardwood floor cleaner, as well as explaining how to use vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol.

2. Seventh Generation Coconut Care Baby Lotion review.  We tried a free sample of this new product, and here are our honest opinions.  Mostly, we’re comparing it to pure coconut oil.

3. DIY Vegan Bacon from Potato Peels.  To top your cream-of-potato soup, here’s a yummy, smoky, salty, greasy, crispy food that makes a better substitute for bacon than anything else you can make out of garbage in 5 minutes!  Nutritional comparison to pork bacon included.

4. Recycling Coffee Bags with TerraCycle.  In 2017, we found a new way to recycle those foil-and-plastic bags that aren’t accepted for curbside recycling and will never biodegrade in a landfill.  Learn how to start your own recycling brigade or join my brigade to recycle coffee bags in Pittsburgh, PA!

5. Darwinian Gardening.  Here are photos of the lovely and sometimes surprising results of letting “the survival of the fittest” determine what plants coexist in your garden.  I explain how to plant the seeds you have and encourage the plants you like, to grow a uniquely beautiful garden that’s environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and low-maintenance.

6. February book reviews. The most popular of the 6 book review posts I wrote during the year includes The Bronze King, No Impact Man, The Survivalist’s Daughter, Blue Like Jazz, Wolfy & the Strudelbakers, and Oleander Girl.  In 2017, I indexed all my book reviews–so I’m not going to include other book review posts in the Top 17 articles.

7. How to make it from scratch instead of a package: Chipotle Simmer Sauce. I reverse-engineered a Frontera brand sauce well enough to please my skeptical 12-year-old!  Almost a year later, this is one of his favorite homemade foods, and we make it every couple of weeks with black beans…but we haven’t yet tried it on tofu as I said we would….

8. Every school needs a Jacob!  Thoughts on gender roles inspired by the children’s book Jacob’s New Dress, my college roommate’s Instagram, a Hobo Mama article, and an interaction between two preschoolers at the playground.  Every school, and every gathering of Earthlings, needs some people who challenge our assumptions and help us to think more flexibly about what we each need in order to be comfortable as ourselves.

9. Go Green in 2017: Clean Up Your Hygiene Routine.  Here we explain why you might not want to saturate your body with endocrine disruptors and microplastics.  Based on 20 years’ experience, we recommend the best brands of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and diapers.  We explain how to replace facial cleansers, hand soap, body wash, shampoo, foot scrub, deodorant, and baby wipes with inexpensive, green alternatives.

10. Go Green in 2017: Drink Better Milk.  Sometimes we buy ultra-pasteurized organic milk, 3 cartons in a cardboard box, at Costco.  Sometimes we buy local milk that’s not certified organic but comes in returnable glass bottles at the food co-op.  How do we decide which is best?

11. That Time I Bought Ladybugs by Mail.  This funny story from my twenties is a cautionary tale in the use of beneficial insects for in-home pest control.

12. Public Transit and Convenient Commuting.  I gloat about living and working in the wonderful world of Pittsburgh’s East End, and I puzzle over why so many Earthlings put up with long hours of driving.  (I lost the job with free transit that I had for most of 2017, but in 2018 I expect to find a new job that’s just as conveniently located!)

13. Why My 12-year-old is Riding Public Transit Alone.  The kid who grew up riding the bus with Mama demonstrates that he can be trusted to ride alone–and he started when he was 11, actually.  We explain what to take into consideration when deciding if a child is ready for this responsibility.  A smartphone is not a necessity!

14. What I Really Learned in College.  Psychology is about a lot more than crazy people lying on a couch.  My gift for spotting tiny errors is important.  I can cook without a kitchen.  I’m not the weirdest geek.  And more!

15. Streamlined Task Juggling: Getting things done when working from home.  My brother Ben, who has worked as many as 3 simultaneous part-time jobs while also having household responsibilities, explains his system for keeping track of everything and making it fun.

16. I let my vegetarian kid cook a steak.  What the heck?!  I can explain….

17. Why we had Banana Bread and Black Bean Soup for Easter dinner.  We don’t eat lamb.  We don’t eat ham.  And this particular Easter demonstrated God’s overflowing love with 6 pounds of surplus bananas.

Top 17 Earthling’s Handbook Articles by Number of Readers in 2017

Let’s make this more mysterious by using the abbreviated titles I wrote down when reviewing the stats!

1. blood types
2. Teletubbies
3. over-baked
4. spits up blood
5. Costco vs. GFS
6. baby drops
7. coffee hour
8. vinegar hair
9. cauliflower
10. TNTD hair care
11. humidify
12. organize GS
13. Agent of Change
14. dishwasher changed
15. Magic Bullet
16. GS snack
17. scramble frozen

All of Becca’s Kitchen Stewardship Articles in 2017

  • 3 Easy Ways to Freshen Your Home Using Essential Oils.  Making a homemade air-freshener spray is easy, with just 3 affordable ingredients.  Other options are to scent the incoming air from your heating/cooling system or to do my toilet-tissue trick!
  • Eating Less Meat to Save Money and the World.  Daniel and I gave up meat for Lent in 2002, and it changed our lives forever.  We still eat a little meat now and then.  I encourage people to give up meat for a while to see what it’s like to live without it, and I share lots of tips for a less-meat lifestyle.
  • Asian Ingredients and Cooking Techniques to Spice Up Your Everyday Meals.  What does an English/German/Lithuanian-American raised in small-town Oklahoma know about cooking Japanese, Thai, Indian, or Chinese food?  The skills and tastes I learned from my mother and grandmother may surprise you.  Includes links to 4 Asian-inspired vegetarian recipes I invented and my family loves!
  • 3-part series on composting household food scraps:
    • Easy Steps to Composting Affordably: Why compost?  What can (and can’t) you put into a backyard compost bin?  Set up my system with 3 big flowerpots, or try another easy option using minimal equipment.
    • Work Composting Into Your Kitchen Routine:  How do you collect those food scraps so they’re out of your way and don’t smell bad?  How will you remember not to throw those scraps in the trash?  See actual buckets of compost in my kitchen!
    • Using Compost to Nourish Your Garden: How will you know when that wonderful homemade fertilizer is ready, and then what can you do with it?  See the surprises my garden brought me in the spring of 2017, and learn about gardening on a cliff!
  • Kick the K-cups! 3 Easy Ways to Make Garbage-Free Coffee.  I knew that coffee pods weren’t for me: excess packaging, endocrine disruptors, and plastic-flavored coffee!  What I didn’t know before researching this article was that people are paying 3 to 10 times as much per serving as they would for loose coffee grounds!  Seriously??  Learn about the thrifty alternatives that taste better, too.
  • Reusable Shopping Bags for Every Grocery Run.  Before sharing my tips for choosing sturdy bags, remembering to take them to the store, and managing them at check-out, I tell the story of how I learned the flaws of plastic bags by chasing yogurt down the tennis-court hill at Carnegie Mellon.
  • How to Cook Without a Kitchen.  Practical tips are combined with anecdotes about what I did right, and wrong, in my years of living without a stove, refrigerator, microwave, or real kitchen sink.  Includes photo tutorial for washing dishes in a stall shower, the #1 way to save money on beverages, and 8 things I can’t believe I used to eat!
  • Teach Kids These 5 Habits for Lifelong Healthy Eating.  What my parents taught me about eating, cooking, and grocery shopping helped to ensure that those wild college years would be the worst diet of my life, and I’d shape up as soon as I had a real kitchen.  How am I teaching these habits to my 21st-century kids?
  • Creamy Lentil Coconut Curry Recipe + Easy Ways to Use Roasted Vegetables.  This is my favorite new recipe of 2017!  Delicious, packed with vegetables and healthy protein, and not too difficult or expensive!  I also explain how to use roasted vegetables in so many different ways that you could eat them every night for a week.

I’m beginning 2018 looking for a job, just as I began 2017. That’s discouraging, but a lot of other things have changed. Overall, I’m feeling optimistic about a new year with new articles to write, new books to read, new recipes to try, new experiences with my 13-year-old and 3-year-old, and eventually a new job!

What do you Earthlings want to read about this year?

Find more inspiration for your new year at Hearth & Soul and To Grandma’s House We Go!

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2 thoughts on “Top 17 Articles of 2017

  1. You really have created an amazing reference guide, Becca, and your blog is really something to be proud of! There’s so much inspiration for enjoyable sustainable living here. I’ve scheduled your post to share on the Hearth and Soul Facebook page on Sunday. Thank you so much for sharing it with us at the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Have a lovely weekend!

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