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Best DIY and Food Posts from Last Year

I know we’re already three days into the New Year, and I should be thinking ahead.

But, darn it, I’m still feeling nostalgic over 2012!

I love dogs so much that I blog about them nearly every day. But in between networking for adoptable dogs and taking infinite photos of the canines in my house, the fellow residents of Wayward House (both dog and human) and I also enjoy tasty foods and beverages and the thrill of making things ourselves.

I try to post about these experiences in the hopes of inspiring my lovely readers.

Memorable food and DIY posts from 2012:

homemade barking dog stopper

1. Homemade Barking Dog Stopper  – Charlie Machete’s new worst enemy went viral on Pinterest and generated the most single-day hits ever for this blog.

speedy stitcher sewing awl

2. Sew Your Own Dog Beds – Zach’s solution for sturdy, cost-effective and comfortable (as far as we can tell) dog beds involved the use of a nifty tool I have still never used – the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl.

No bake sweet potato cookies.

3. Sweet Potato Peanut Buttery Frozen Goodness – This no-bake dog cookie recipe is super healthy and helped me use up some sweet potatoes leftover from the 2011 harvest.

Image copyright Stacy Ideus Photography 2012.

Image copyright Stacy Ideus Photography 2012.

4. Don’t Shop, Swap! – I like looking good as much as the next girl, but I hate to spend on fashion. Whenever possible, I trade clothes with my friends.

diy household cleaner

5. DIY Citrus-Scented Household Cleaner – I followed another blogger’s lead on this and managed to give up Windex forever.

diy detergent

6. DIY Laundry Detergent – We pass up the harsh chemicals of the commercial stuff and save money by mixing up our own sudsy soap for our clothes (and stinky dog beds).

gentle leader dyed with RIT dye

7. DIY Dye Project for Collars and Leashes – Zach turned a pink gentle leader into a macho camo green for Charlie Machete.

Volunteer lemon basil.

8. Basil Mint Tea – This refreshing recipe helped me deal with extra herbs from the garden and put an old pickle jar to good use.

king louis

9. Remedy for a Good Time in Kansas City – I was stoked when a new restaurant that values homemade and homegrown food opened up in my neighborhood.

Lemon Vodka Gingerade and Ginger Syrup

10. Lemon Vodka Gingerade – After my friend Lisa the DIY Gourmet gave us her homemade ginger syrup, we put our first two homegrown lemons to tasty use.

Have you tried a DIY project recently? Tell me about it in the comments!

Come back tomorrow for one more post full of 2012 reflections. After that, I promise to get on with 2013!

A Holiday Drink with Homegrown Lemons and Homemade Ginger Syrup

It’s lemon season.

Meyere lemon wedges

Citrus heaven.

Well, technically, the season for Meyer lemons grown in temperate areas, such as a big pot in my Missouri dining room, can be year-round. But we just finally picked the first golden bursts of sunshine from our little tree.

In a little over a year, we have seen our little Meyer lemon tree burst into bloom a couple of times. After creating an intoxicating fragrance, most of the flowers fell off. But last spring, several of blooms gave way to little green fruits.

Two of them lasted through the hot, hot summer, my inconsistent care and a move back inside for winter. I eyed the lemon babies daily for signs of yellowing. Finally, they were ready.

Since we only had two, I wanted to be sure we used them for some special and memorable recipe.

homegrown meyer lemons

There they are! Two homegrown lemons!

By chance, around the same time, my DIY gourmet friend Lisa gave me a bottle of her homemade ginger syrup.

So, Zach cut up the lemons – which were amazingly sweet, tart and juicy – and mixed up some delicious drinks (with a little help from the Sodastream that I previously bought on Lisa’s recommendation).

Check out the recipe for the drinks and the syrup itself!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade (Crystal’s approximation of Zach’s recipe)


  • Vodka
  • Lemon wedges
  • Ginger Syrup
  • Unflavored sparkling water
  • Ice


Fill a pint glass with ice. Add vodka. We usually pour to about 1/4 of the glass. This would be about 1 to 1-1/2 shots if you’re measuring.  Next, add sparkling water, leaving about a finger’s width of room at the top of the glass. Grab a couple lemon wedges and squeeze them into the drink. Then, add ginger syrup to taste.

Now, stir, and enjoy!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade and Ginger Syrup

That bottle of syrup didn’t last long at our house!

A Loose Recipe for Ginger Syrup (Lisa’s Recipe)


  • 3 big pieces of ginger, about the size of your hand
  • (Filtered) water
  • 2.5 – 3.5 cups suger, I used about 2 parts white, 1 part lt. brown, 1 part raw
  • A few pieces of lemon peel from an organic, unwaxed lemon, no pith


No need to peel the ginger, just wash it well.  Pulse in a blender until it is well minced. Cover with water in a heavy bottom pot. I just eyeball the amount of water, about 3 times more than the ginger.  But err on the side of less since you can always add more water later if it is too strong. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 mins. Strain and try to press out as much of the liquid from the ginger as possible.  Discard ginger.  Return to the pot and add the suger. Simmer on low for another 30 mins.  Turn off the heat and add the lemon peel.  Let the syrup cool then strain it one more time.  Done. It’s ready to get made into some amazing drink.

Note: I just filter it though a medium/fine mesh sieve a couple of times, but if you want it less cloudy and pulpy, you can pass it though cheese cloth a few times before you add the suger.

On this batch, I boiled the ginger down a second time with a couple fresh cups of water.  I thought I could get more ginger flavor, but I think it just got a bit bitter.  I probably wont do that again.

Have you ever made your own syrup for flavoring fancy drinks? What’s your favorite sparkling drink for holiday time?

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