Top 18 Articles of 2018

Like last year, this was a year in which The Earthling’s Handbook drew more readers to the articles that have been here a long time (and therefore have been linked to more often, on other sites as well as in my own articles) than to new articles.  The list of overall most-popular articles is so similar to last year’s that I’ll merely report that the Teletubbies have sunk to #8 (thank goodness), the soap saver broke into the Top 18, and the brownie-baking tip has become even more popular.

Top 18 New Articles in 2018

1. Do metal detectors prevent school shootings?  As a social scientist who’s worked with data on gun violence, I noticed that most media reports on school shootings didn’t mention whether the school was or was not walking students through a metal detector routinely.  When my son’s school acquired a metal detector but a lot of parents were opposed to it, I began to wonder to what extent metal detectors actually make schools safer . . . so I did some research.

2. U is for Unlikely Uterus.  This was the most popular of my book review posts in 2018, possibly because of the silly title.  I reviewed In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume and A Uterus is a Feature, Not a Bug by Sarah Lacy.  (Because I’ve indexed all my book reviews, I’m not going to include other book review posts in the Top 18.)

3. Peeking Over the Hemp Horizon.  In the month when medical marijuana dispensaries opened in my home state of Pennsylvania, I reported on two other aspects of the cannabis plant: This article addresses the many practical, non-drug, Earth-friendly uses of hemp (and includes a rare photograph of me, modeling my hemp sweater), while my article at Kitchen Stewardship delves into the research on cannabidiol oil and my personal experience using it to treat arthritis and sore throat.

4. How to support Girl Scouts without buying cookies.  It’s almost Girl Scout Cookie Time again!  If you have misgivings about eating all that sugar and palm oil, throwing away all that packaging, or spending so much money on so few cookies . . . consider the alternative I recommend, as an experienced Girl Scout leader.

5. Hummus and Vegetable Flatbread Sandwich: You deserve this lunch!  I’m so glad I wrote this article, not just because rereading it reinforces that I deserve good food, not just because it might help others, but because it captures so clearly the experience of struggling through a stage of nearly-constant migraines with their psychological as well as physical effects.  The first half of June 2018 was a time so miserable that it’s hard to remember.  This article helps to remind me what I’m avoiding by taking my new medication consistently and by resisting the idea that I don’t deserve things that help me.

bringing in firewood

This wonderful illustration by Garth Williams is copyright 1953. The text is copyright 1937 by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

6. Cultural Sensitivity and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This is the last and most popular installment of what turned into a 3-part series about reading Wilder’s books to my 4-year-old daughter, in which I explained how reading about opinions I think are wrong is an opportunity to discuss values, why reading to my kids is better than handing them my phone, and how Wilder’s nineteenth-century pioneer childhood is both alien and familiar to us and what we can learn from that.

7. How the East End Food Co-op Keeps Me Fit and Happy.  The idiosyncrasies of my local cooperative natural-foods store have many benefits!  This article links to the one I wrote for Kitchen Stewardship: 7 Secrets to Shopping at a Food Co-op.  It’s not just for hippies!

8. How to Build a Gym in Your Hallway.  My partner Daniel wrote this article about how he “found a new room” in our house by building exercise equipment in a hallway I’d thought was too narrow to use for anything.  He made it versatile, inexpensive, safe, and easy to dismantle when we needed to move it temporarily.  This is just one of the 19 Thrifty Ways to Find More Space in Your Home that we shared at Kitchen Stewardship!

9. Magic Breakfast Burrito + 70 Things to Cook in Cast Iron.  My friend Alison’s tip for cooking eggs so they don’t fall out of the tortilla turned into the one new recipe I wrote up for inclusion in a cast iron recipe round-up at Kitchen Stewardship.  I’ve been making this breakfast regularly for the past few months!

10. Would decluttering save you from buying a new appliance?  I wrote this article and the connected guide to organizing your freezer at Kitchen Stewardship in response to the assumption that anyone who’s serious about home cooking has to have a chest freezer.  We only have the freezer compartment of an ordinary-size refrigerator–here’s how we make it work.

11. My 3-year-old’s 3 Favorite Foods.  Each of my kids cheerfully ate almost all the foods their parents eat until they were 3 years old, and then they became more picky.  Despairing over the lack of variety in Lydia’s diet, I reminded myself to consider the virtues of the things she does eat routinely–could be worse!

12. Am I your role model?  Ooohh, I’d been thinking of writing this one for years.  I’m glad I finally did.  Read this if you think you wanna grow up to be just like me!

13. Go Green in 2018: Get out of the car!  It’ll work in 2019, too: Walk to some of the places you’re going anyway; you’ll be surprised at some of the things you’ll see.  This article is illustrated with photos that might inspire you to visit Pittsburgh in February.  Seriously.  2018 was a year when I walked over the hill to Lydia’s preschool literally hundreds of times, and it was well worth the extra time compared to driving.

14. Oh, no, a teenager!!!  My son Nicholas turned 13 just before 2018 began–but he didn’t turn into some kind of monster.  This is just another stage in the life of this person I’m raising, in which some things are more challenging but others are easier.  (During 2018, he grew to be taller than I am, which is weird . . . but in some ways, he’s still really only very small.)

15. The Tree of Life in the City of Steel.  The year when my most popular new article was about gun control also turned out to be the year when there was a mass shooting in my neighborhood.  This is my reflection on how it felt a few weeks later.

16. Go Green in 2018: Can You Afford to Buy Greener Products?  My handy 5-step process for making these decisions will work in 2019, too.  See the process applied to choosing one specific household supply in What’s the Real Cost of Your Toilet Paper? at Kitchen Stewardship.

17. The Urban Nature Experience All Children Deserve.  Lydia enlightens us on the need to have a rock and a pine needle to poke it with.  We can find Nature right next to the sidewalk on our neighborhood’s main street!

18. Things Not To Do: Television Recycling Edition.  Here I tell you what to do with your old television, as well as explaining how we smashed my hand.  (I recovered completely after about 3 weeks, but wow, that hurt!!)

The Rest of My Articles at Kitchen Stewardship

Every time my writing is published on another site, I add a related article to The Earthling’s Handbook with a link to the other site.  Just in case you missed clicking through on any of these, here are my 2018 articles for Kitchen Stewardship that aren’t mentioned above:

  • Can Real Foodies Find Good Deals at Gordon Food Service?  Yes!  This suburban store, open to all shoppers, offers great bargains on certain healthy ingredients.  Here’s the scoop on what’s a good deal there vs. what’s cheaper at another store.
  • Greening Your Church: 9 Stewardship Strategies that Won’t Break the Budget.  These tips are not just for Christians but for any building where people gather, drawing on my experience of 22 years in a small Episcopal congregation.  Using resources wisely often costs less money, not more!
  • Everything You Wanted to Know About Xylitol in Chewing Gum.  My family reviewed 6 brands while I researched the safety and benefits of xylitol as a sugarless sweetener.
  • Easy Meal Planning Tips to Use Your CSA Share.  If you’re considering subscribing to a Community-Sponsored Agriculture farm in 2019, you might be wondering how you’ll use all those vegetables and avoid waste.  I have a handy 5-step plan for this, too!
  • Smiling Salads: Worth a Try.  This article actually wound up being titled “Easy Ways to Get Kids to Like Veggies and Want to Cook,” but that’s over-hyping it.  Here I explain the value of having a kids’ cookbook–even if it’s not the most incredibly useful cookbook you could get–and the value of trying innovative approaches to help kids enjoy healthy meals–even if those approaches only work temporarily.  Perspective on my own childhood as well as my kids’.

What’s Coming in 2019?

I was very low on writing time in the last months of 2018, as my new day job (data analysis) and a major renovation of my home both started in October!!  I hope things will settle down soon and I’ll find more time to write. . . .

There will be more book reviews, definitely, and a recipe for curried split-pea soup in the slow cooker, and probably some stuff about our renovation.  I’ll explain why I’m still commuting mostly by public transit even though my new job offers free parking.  I’m way behind on reviewing Earth-friendly products you can buy from Grove Collaborative.  Daniel and I outlined a series on how to grow smarter kids, and I hope to write at least some of that this year.  And there’s this skirt my best friend gave me in high school that I wore to our 25th reunion, which ties together with a joke passed around in the early days of the Internet to inspire a question about the history of silk production that I really want to answer someday when I have time to do the research. . . .

Stay tuned!

Visit the Hearth & Soul linkup for more great things to read!

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