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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!
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Wayward Living Tip: DIY laundry detergent

This is not soy sauce.

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After talking about it for months, Zach and I finally took a big DIY plunge recently. We made our own laundry detergent.

It was so easy!

Although we had the three necessary ingredients on hand – borax, washing soda and a bar of soap – we whipped up our first batch with a pre-made mix purchased at the Farmers’ Market from our friends at Nutressant who have already turned us on to natural toothpaste and natural deoderant.

The little brown bag contains equal parts borax and washing soda and shredded cheese pre-grated soap, plus instructions for mixing it all up.

Basically, you just need to add water to the mixture and heat it over the stove, stirring until the soap flakes dissolve. Then, you add more cool tap water and pour it all into your desired container. In a little while, the liquid turns into a jelly-like state and you have homemade laundry detergent. Plus, you get a label to afix to your end container.

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Nutressant’s mix costs $9 and is supposed to make enough detergent to wash 64 loads. The Nutressant folks assured me that the “low suds” recipe would be safe for our high efficiency washing machine, and that seems to be true. No problems so far.

That is, we’ve had no problems with their mix or our own.

We were so excited after making the Nutressant stuff that we immediately made a bunch more of our own laundry detergent. Zach grated the soap — a bar of Nutressant we had on hand. He also added a few drops of essential oils like lavendar and eucalyptus as we transfered our detergent into bottles.

The whole prepping and mixing process took less than an hour and yielded us the equivalent of over two bottles of commercially-availalbe detergent.

We’ve been using homemade detergent for about three weeks now, and I don’t think we’ll ever go back. Our solution is way cheaper, involves no scary, hard-to-pronounce chemicals and is much easier on the environment.

I’m not giving you a precise recipe here because we kind of eyeballed things, based on the Nutressant directions.

But here’s a tip: It’s not recommended to use just any old bar of soap. There are specific kinds of bar soap that are considered laundry soap (Zote is one). You mainly want to avoid using any extra-moisturizing bar soaps becuase they could leave oily stains on your clothes.

The next time we mix up detergent, I’d like to try this Instructables recipe, which calls for a combination of washing soda and baking soda.

Washing soda is supposed to cut grease, while baking soda deoderizes – both key elements for clean clothes.

To learn more about the benefits of non-toxic household products, I recommend the website and documentary Chemerical.

Would you ever make your own detergent? If you have, please share any tips in the comments!

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