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Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Who has time for complicated meals this time of year?  Not us and probably not you!  When we came across this recipe from the divine Gail Simmons,  we knew it was the perfect busy bee recipe!

Three-cheese mini macs

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
  • 4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.
Serving Size

Thursday, December 6, 2012


As promised here is the much anticipated follow up to our previous "savory" post!  As we said last week you can give homemade culinary gifts to your friends, loved ones, or even that office secret Santa that require little to no effort to assemble.  In today's post we will feature several no-cook savory ideas for those on your gift giving list!

Peppermint Bark (Not really "No Cook" but damn easy)

2 -12 oz. bags of of white chocolate chips
1 cup peppermint candies or candy canes

Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Next, place chips in a large glass bowl and microwave at 60% power for 1 minute, stir.  Repeat, stirring until smooth.  Place candies in a large releasable bag and crush with a meat mallet or heavy sauce pan.  Fold half the crushed candy into the melted chocolate.  Pour onto prepared pan spreading to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.  Sprinkle the remaining candy on top and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).  Break into pieces.

Flavored Butters

Honey Butter

1/4 cup honey
1 cup butter
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Blend together and package in an airtight container or canning jar. Refrigerate.

Maple Butter

1 cup butter
1/2 cup REAL maple syrup

Blend together and package in an airtight container or canning jar. Refrigerate.

Orange Butter

1/2 cup of soft butter
1 1/2 sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Slowly add concentrate.  Package in an airtight container or canning jar. Refrigerate.

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

4 cups of fine sugar
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup good instant coffee
1 bottle (750ml) vodka
3 Tbs vanilla extract

Mix sugar and coffee together and then stir in 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until it all dissolves and then let cool.  Pour through cheese cloth into a large pitcher and add 750 ml of vodka (about 3 cups) and 3 tbs good vanilla.  Stir and then pour through cheesecloth again into bottles. (An extra bottle is needed as the resulting drink is more than enough for the vodka bottle).

Hot Buttered Drink Mix

2 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted, softened butter
3 tbsp REAL maple syrup
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients with an electric mixer until well blended. Package in an airtight container or canning jar. Refrigerate. Give with following serving instructions.

"Stir 1 1/2 tsp drink mix into 6 oz. of hot cider or juice.   For hot buttered rum, add 1 oz rum to cider mixture."

Mocha Sugar

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1-2 packet(s) of instant hot cocoa mix, to your taste
3 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur such as Kahlua
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a small bowl stir all ingredients together until well blended.  Package in an airtight container or canning jar. Give with following serving instructions.

"Stir desired amount of sugar into coffee"

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Everybody bakes cookies, but who has time for that this time of year?!  Now you can give homemade culinary gifts to your friends, loved ones, or even that office secret Santa that require little to no effort to assemble.  In today's post we will feature several no-cook savory ideas for those on your gift giving list!



1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix ingredients together.  Spoon into a small jar.  Attach the following instructions:

Rub one teaspoon on each side of steak.  Grill or broil as desired.


1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp crumbed dried rosemary
1 tsp dried fennel side
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp dried orange peel

Mix ingredients together.  Spoon into a small jar.  Attach the following instructions:

Rub one teaspoon on each side of pork.  Grill or broil as desired.

Chicken and Fish

1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp dried minced garlic
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp coarse black pepper

Mix ingredients together.  Spoon into a small jar.  Attach the following instructions:

Rub one or two teaspoon(s) on each side of chicken or fish.  Grill or broil as desired.


Horseradish Chive Compound Butter
(Great on steak or steak accompaniments)

3/4 cup of unsalted butter
2 tbsp bottled horseradish
2 tbsp minced fresh chives

Blend ingredients and let stand for one hour in a cool place to set up.  Place into small, wide mouthed jars.

Dill Compound Butter
(Great on fish or fish accompaniments)

1/4 lb of unsalted butter
1 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
Salt to taste

Blend ingredients and let stand for one hour in a cool place to set up.  Place into small, wide mouthed jars.


Special Seasoning Salt

1 cup salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano, ground
1/2 tsp dried thyme, ground
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp celery seed

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and spoon into airtight containers for gift giving!


Savory Herb Bagel Mix

1 cup dried parsley flakes
1/3 cup dried dill
2 1/2 tbsp dried oregano leaves
2 1/2 tbsp dried thyme leaves
2 tbsp salt
4 tsp dried rosemary leaves
4 tsp dried marjoram leaves
2 tsp paprika

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and spoon into airtight containers for gift giving!  Add the following instructions:

Process 2 tsp of mix with 1 8 oz package of softened cream cheese.  Combine using food processor, blender, hand mixer, etc.  Transfer to an airtight container.  Chill for two hours to let the flavors blend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Hello Loyal Readers!

We've missed you over the last couple of weeks!  We have been super busy at the lab with the holidays approaching.  Look for some great December content coming soon!  Below we have included some super handy "last minute" tips from some of our favorite sources!  May you all have a safe and joyful holiday!



The CELEBRATE Staff!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Our new intern, Timothy's first task was to provide the recipe for this month's "Meal of The Month" feature.  Little did we remember how pitifully community college students eat.  Timothy's suggestion was a Dinty Moore Beef Stew with a Nacho Cheese Doritos crust.  Needless to say, we vetoed Timothy's selection and he is now in the corner eating it.  In its place is the following recipe, fit for normal human consumption!

Bakery Lane Soup Bowl's Famous Corn Chowder

Makes 10 Cups

1/2 cup or 2 oz diced salt pork or bacon
2 tbs butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 chopped celery
1 qt chicken stock
2 cups diced potatoes
6 cups fresh corn kernels (or three 10 oz packages of frozen kernel corn, thawed)
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the pork/bacon in the butter until crisp and browned.  Add onion and celery.  Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Meanwhile, measure stock in soup pot.  Add potatoes and cook until just tender.

Puree two packages of frozen (or 4 cups if using fresh) corn, using a little of the hot stock while blending.  Add blended corn, remaining whole kernels, sauteed vegetables, and cream to soup pot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Heat to serving temperature.  Yum, yum!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Hello Readers,

We wanted to take a moment to introduce the latest addition to our staff,  TIMOTHY!!!  He is our new bright-eyed (not jaded) community college intern!  His mother is particularly proud of his head shot! Welcome aboard Timothy!!!

"Heyyyyyyyyyy, I'm Timothy!!!"

Wonderful Last Minute Costume Ideas!

  • "French Kiss" Paint your face like your favorite member of the rock band KISS and pop on a beret.
  • "Fantasy Football" Dress up in a wizard gown or clock.  Attach a long gray beard if you have one and throw on a helmet.  Feel free to carry a wand!
  • "Buccaneer"  Tape a dollar bill to each ear lobe.
  • "Iron Chef" Carry around a clothes iron and wear a chef hat and apron.
  • "Gold Digger" Spray paint a plastic shovel gold and carry it around.
  • "Sugar Daddy/Mama" Throw on front facing baby carrier and add a bag of sugar.  Tip:  Empty the bag of sugar into a container at home to use later, and stuff to the sugar bag with fiber fill or crumpled paper to reduce the weight.
  • "Fork In The Road"  Buy a black t-shirt and add 3 lengths of yellow duct tape.  Add a plastic fork under one of the strips of tape.
  • "Pumpkin Pie"  Create a t-shirt with a picture of a pumpkin pie with the Greek letter "pi" on it.  This can be done using an iron-on transfer and the computer, fabric markers/paint, or even construction paper!
  • "Bottle Neck"  String some empty bottles around your neck.
  • "Cloudy with A Chance of Rain" Glue clusters of cotton balls to a blue t-shirt to represent clouds and carry a spray bottle.  For a literary take, carry a plate of meatballs instead of a squirt gun then you'll be  "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"!
  • "Time Flies"  Wear a pair of angel wings (store bought or homemade) and hang a wall clock around your neck!
  • "Smartie Pants" Tape or glue candy "Smarties" all over your pants!
  • "Q-Tip"  Wrap your head and feet in cotton batting/fiber fill/KAPOK around your head and feet then wear a white t-shirt and pants.
And here is what Connie and Wendell plan on wearing to your 2012 Halloween Hoe Down (sponsored by Martha Stewart Glitter):   Connie will secure herself in a large box faux-finished to look like a brick while Wendell will wear  a workman's cap, apron, gloves, and carry a trowel because we will be a brick "layer"!  What a pair!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Best Little Sun Glass Holder In Texas (or Anywhere Else)

We had a sunny spell a few days ago and suddenly the office was cluttered with sunglasses of every size and shape!  Wendell's fetching cat-eyed number with rhinestones, Connie's tinted monocle (the woman can't loose the damn eye patch. Why would she wear conventional sunglasses!), Kathleen's vintage limited edition Amelia Earhart goggles, and Michael's designer "lemon grass" Wayfarers  to name a few!  A company meeting was held to discuss the dilemma of how to safely store the abundance of shaded eye wear we had accumulated.  We decided to throw it out to our design department as a challenge, telling them the winner would receive six pounds of organic raffia (in their choice of color mind you)!  They were off like hounds on the hunt!  Here is what they came up with!

1.) Go to your local hardware store and pick up a paint roller screen!

2.) Next flatten the angled portion (the right side in the photo above).

3.) Draw a level line on your wall with a level (hold applause).

4.) Eye balling (a technical term) or measuring (if your as anal as Martha Stewart) the distance of the farthest holes in the mesh  of the flattened section, place 2 cup hooks in the wall.

5.)  Hang the roller mesh "feet" (left end in the picture above) against the wall.

6.) Slide your sunglasses through the empty holes or empty spaces in the mesh!

Our Sunglasses, clockwise from lower left: Connie's Sun-ocle, Michael's over-sized shades, Wendell's dapper shades, and Kathleen's goggles!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Chicken Cabbage Salad

1 head of cabbage shredded (Kathleen likes it chopped)
3 or 4 green onions (scallions), chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil is best)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
1 pack of chicken flavored ramen noodles
Cooked Chicken (Kathleen uses 2 breasts cut into small pieces)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1-2 cups green grapes, whole

Mix the the cut cabbage and green onions together and chill.  

To prepare the dressing, mix the sugar, oil, vinegar, and the season pack from the ramen noodles together.  Shake well.

At serving time, crush the dry ramen noodles and add to bowl of cabbage.  Add chicken chunks, grapes, almonds, sesame seeds, and  dressing.  Toss to incorporate.  

This salad is very hearty and holds up well for leftovers!



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sizzling Sisal DIY Decor Projects!!

Hello Faithful Followers & Web Wanderers Alike!

While most of the free world was spending its Labor Day Weekend eating delicious picnic and BBQ foods (like Kathleen)  Michael's was holed up away from the world working on some creative projects like a DIY UnaBomber (sans Sunglasses and Hoodie)!   Here are a few of the fruits of his labor using one of his favorite embellishment, sisal rope!

The Woven Sisal Accented Wire Basket

The former wire vegetable basket that Michael purchased from Pier 1 several years ago had found its home storing coffee table books in Michael's apartment since he doesn't make enough money to afford a coffee table (or vegetables for that matter).  The basket had become tired and boring, not adding anything to the room and he wanted to breath new life into it for little money.  In comes the always dependable, sisal rope!   Michael purchased his at a "junk" store for about $1.50 for approximately 20 feet of rope.  Harking back to his plastic embroidery mesh days, Michael wove the rope in a diagonal pattern through the openings of the wire basket.  Before determining this pattern, he tried a few other approaches such as weaving the rope in and out of the openings.  None of them had the same visual impact as the "cross stitch" method!  Michael decided to complete the look at three full rows, securing the ends with standard straight pins.  You could be industrious and do more rows but for this project the contrast between the wire and the rope seemed perfect at three rows.

It's A Wrap:  Over-Sized Decorative Vase

The four foot tall orange glass vase that had become a staple in his apartment decor had begun to bore Michael and he wanted to (like the basket above) spruce it up with little to no capital investment.  Once again, enter the ever handy sisal rope!  He simply took a length of the rope approximately 6-8 feet long and wrapped it tightly around the neck of the vase securing it in place with several straight pins in the top and bottom coils.  This allows him the flexibly to remove the rope if he decides to change up his decor in the future!

These are just a few of the ideas Michael thought up but the possibilities are limitless!  We would love to see your DIY decor project using sisal rope (or anything for that matter)!!!  Send them to:   You might be featured in your very own post!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Connie as a young woman inspecting bullets during WWII The Big One!

What You Need:

  • A piece of 1"x1" square dowel or trim
  • dowels approximately the thickness of a pencil or hot dog/marshmallow stick summer clearance end caps (You can find these at discount and dollar stores where you can purchase a bag of 10-15 for $1.00 or less)
  • Power drill (cordless or corded, it doesn't matter) with a drill bit the size of your dowels/sticks
  • Wood glue
  • Ruler

  1. Cut your 1"x1" to your desired length (cut two).  Ours were approximately 10 inches.
  2. Place the two pieces of 1"x1" side by side.  Using your ruler, measure in and mark 1 inch from each end.  Next, divide the remaining space equally (ours were about 1.5 inches apart after we measure in the initial 1 inch).  Of course, if you want lager pieces or more dowels there is plenty of customization on this project.
  3. Using your drill, drill holes partially through the 1"x"  square dowel at the marks you made. (Before using your drill, measure approximately 1/2 inch up the drill bit and wrap a piece of masking tape around it.  This will serve as your depth guide to ensure all your holes are the same.)
  4. Take your dowels and cut them into equal lengths depending on how wide you want your trivet to be.
  5. Next, fill each hole on one of the 1"x1" pieces with a dollop of wood glue.
  6. Press each of the dowels into the holes.
  7. Repeat Step 5 on the second 1"x1" section.
  8. Secure the completed trivet with a large rubber band or twine to brace the pieces while it dries.
You can customize your trivet by staining (NOT painting) the dowels any number of shades before assembly.  You can use traditional stain, food coloring, colored inks, etc.  

In spite of all these directions they are super simple to make and make great presents!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012



1 whole chicken or equivalent amount of boneless chicken
1 onion
2 stalks of celery
1/2 stick butter
3 generous tbsp flour
1/2 light cream
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Boil chicken gently with the chopped onion, celery, salt, and pepper for 1 hour.  Remove chicken from broth and reserve.  Once cool, debone if necessary and shred.  In large skillet, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour.  Stir until smooth over a medium heat.  Mix the cream and 1 2/3 cups of reserved chicken stock (water used to cook the bird) in a separate container.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the roux, stirring constantly.  Slowly pour the cream/broth mixture into the roux continuing to stir.  Add the shredding chicken back to the sauce, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture has thickened.

- Due to the mild taste of the dish, it tastes especially good over jasmine rice.
- Feel free to add mushrooms or asparagus.  You could even try peas and carrots!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


This week the team at CELEBRATE did some overtime cruising one of our favorite websites, Pinterest!  Here is the cream of the crop:

1.) Find a dark colored t-shirt and a cool icon (for example, the solid silhouette of a moose).  Affix a cut-out of the icon onto the shirt and mist/spray with bleach.  This will create a fabulous negative space print of the cut-out!  FYI, black shirts bleach orange so choose your color wisely.

2.) Put marshmallows in your brown sugar to keep it soft!

3.)  Don't throw away the plastic sprinkle top to the Parmesan cheese or the round cardboard top to a box of salt!  Both fit perfectly on mason jars!  The possibilities are endless!  We like using them for powdered sugar, glitter, or even rock salt!

4.)  Use your waffle iron for cooking more than just waffles!  You can make wonderful, crispy hash browns, small cookies, or even cinnamon buns!  

5.)  Use a glue tip/cap on a acrylic, craft,  paint bottle to make painting lines a breeze!

6.) Maximize your closet space (and give yourself an excuse to go shopping) by using soda tabs to double hang items.  Slip the first hole of the table over the wire neck of the first hanger and than you can hang a second hanger from the second hole.

6.)  Instead of dribbling your apples with lemon juice to prevent browning, try spraying them with orange juice in a spray bottle!  This will prevent the browning and have a less harsh bite than the lemon juice!

7.) Use chalk to pre-treat oil stains on clothing before washing.   The chalk helps to dry the oil.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

::Outdoor Party Perfection::

Here are some wonderful tips to help you CELEBRATE the summer in style and comfort!  Thanks to our friends at Real Simple Magazine for these ideas!

  1. When you send out your invites, make sure to tell your guests when you will be serving food.  For example, "Food will be served from 6:00pm-8:00pm".  This way the food can be fresh for all guests attending with the intention to eat.  You will only have to start the grill once!
  2. Have enough seats!  Bring out chairs from the house or spread out blankets or quilts for people to picnic on.  
  3. Lighting!  Strings of lights, paper lanterns, or candles in mason jars always warm up the feeling of a party.  If you need to run extension cords across the yard, clip wire coat hangers into 3-4 inch sections and bend them into "U" shaped pegs and drive them into the lawn over the wires to prevent tripping.
  4. Mosquitoes Menace!   A week before the party, empty all sources of standing water (kiddie pools, old tires, gutters, etc).  Set up fans because mosquitoes don't fair well in the wind.  Set out a bowl of insect repellent wipes for guest to use if need be.
  5. Music!  Don't blast the music because it reduces conversation.  Place your speakers high above head level and turn the speakers towards the side of the house to help take advantage of better acoustics.  
  6. Kids!  If there are children at the party make sure they are entertained.  Have bottles of bubbles; turn on the sprinkler; hand out disposable cameras, etc.  
  7. Hot?  If the temperature is more than you can handle have a basket of hand fans available and have wash clothes (from the dollar store) soaked in ice water from people to place of their necks and wrists!
  8. Use disposable plates and cups to make things easier!  Separate your drink, food, and dessert stations.  This helps to prevent traffic jams and increase conversation!
  9. Keep the food simple and cold (if it needs to be)!  Create ice bowls by filling a larger bowl with water (which you can color or if you'd like). Next float a smaller empty bowl within the larger bowl weighting it down so it sinks slightly.  Place this into the freezer and freeze until solid (1-2 days).  Once frozen, pop the smaller bowl out of the now frozen form.  Fill it with your favorite mayonnaise/yogurt based salads and return to the ice bowl!  This will keep everything fresh, cold, and safe!
  10. Have some labels and a permanent marker on hand for guests to label their drinks to avoid confusion! You could even print out labels if you have a prearranged guest list in mind!
  11. Windy?  Use fruit such plums, oranges, etc to hold down plates on a windy day!  Tie or clip down your tablecloth to avoid fly aways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

::Small Suitcase Savvy::

This is the time of year when you are most likely to hop onto a plane and set off into the wild blue yonder!  Here is a helpful list of essential items not to forget.


  • Contact lenses and/or (sun)glasses. Extra pair if you have them. Contact solution too.
  • Batteries for small electronics or appropriate chargers (cellphone, camera, etc)
  • Headphones for watching movies in-flight (save yourself some cash!)
  • iPod and iPod charger
  • Camera (if you want something more than your iPhone for pictures)
  • Kindle, Nook, or iPad (or other eReader)
  • Alarm Clock (for those of you in the stone age or who are tech savvy enough to use your cellphone)
  • Antibacterial wipes or gel
  • Body lotion (including aloe "after sun" lotion)
  • Sunscreen
  • comb or brush
  • deodorant
  • first aid kit: antacid, gas relief medication, anti-diarrheal, anti-histamine, band-aids, triple antibiotic ointment, motion sickness medicine, mild laxative, pain-reliever, thermometer.
  • dental floss
  • insect repellent
  • lip balm
  • makeup
  • personal-hygiene items
  • RXs
  • Razor
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash if you have a special kind (pack any quantity more than the allowed amount in your checked bags)
  • shave gel and razor
  • toothpaste and toothbrush

  • Addresses of friends or family.  This can be done on your cellphone or on paper.  If you are REALLY good, print the addresses onto labels which you can then stick onto postcards!
  • Healthy Snacks (Michael suggests raw almonds, Kathleen suggests dried apricots)
  • Cash, debit cards, travelers checks, etc
  • direction or GPS unit or smartphone with a GPS app.
  • photo of luggage contents in case of loss.  A list of valuables.
  • Print-outs of reservations.
  • Plastic bags for storing small liquid containers

Here are a few suggestion on how to pack your suitcase better than a Tokyo apartment!

  1. Shoes- Stick to the basics. Pack a pair or two in a shade which can work with the most outfits.  Let your destination dictate your footwear.  This might reduce your shoes to sandals and sneaker or to heels and flats.  The most important thing to know is that shoes take up a lot of space, so choose wisely and wear the biggest pair on your trip.
  2. Experts suggest keeping your color pallet neutral so it's easy to make several outfits out of a few pieces.  For example, pack an entirely white wardrobe and bring in color with your accessories.  Accessories are smaller to pack and can be worth their weight in style!  You might consider a two color max for you clothing to help maximize your options!
  3. WARNING: This next tip is not for the fashion faint of heart. Try to pack 1 pair of pants, 1 skirt, 3 tops.  Mix and match!  This tip might work better for a business trip than for a week in Ibiza! 
  4. Here is a great tip from a faithful reader, Sue in New Hampshire.  Check your local discount store for zip lock, space-saver "packing" bags.  These bags have a one way vent so that when you roll your garments, the excess air escapes leaving the bag flat and thin taking up less space in your luggage.  Try packing each bag with an outfit for each day of your trip!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Here is a wonderful tip/idea that Michael stumbled upon!  While doing some work in the CELEBRATE creative labs, his glasses had become rather smudge ridden.  Not seeing where he was going he bumped into a bookcase containing various household products and knocked some off the shelf.  Michael received a slight (and not serious) blow to the head and his glasses were covered with baby powder.  Reeling for the accident, he grabbed a tissue and wiped his lenses.  "EURKEA!!!" Michael exclaimed.  His glasses had been left spot free and crystal clear!  Next time you are struggling to remove oily smudges from your reading glasses or sunglasses reach for baby powder!


Japanese Pork Cutlets

1 to 1 1/2 coarse bread crumbs such as panko
1 to 1 1/2 lbs pork chops or pork steak, 1/2 inch thick\
1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/2 shredded carrots
salad oil
salt and pepper to taste
Tonkatsu Sauce (See recipe below)

Tonkatsu Sauce:  Stir together 1/2 cup ketchup and 2 tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Set aside your bread crumbs and Tonkatsu Sauce.

Trim and discard fat and bones from pork.  Place meat between sheets of wax paper and pound with a mallet until the pork is a quarter inch thick.

Lightly beat egg with the water.  Next spread the bread crumbs on a piece of wax paper or cookie sheet.  Sprinkle each cutlet with salt and pepper to taste.  Dust each piece of meat with flour, shaking off any excess.  Dip cutlets into egg and press into crumbs to coat thickly all over.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Using a wok or a covered saute pan, pour oil in to a depth of 1 1/2 inches and heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 360 F.

Add one or two cutlets at a time turning as needed until golden brown on both sides.  About 2 minutes or so. Drain briefly on paper towels.

In a separate pan, saute the the cabbage and carrots until lightly softened but still maintaining the crunch. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate the dish, spoon sauteed veggies onto a serving platter.  Next lay the pork cutlets over this.  Finish with a drizzle of Tonkatsu Sauce over the meat.  You can serve the remaining Tonkatsu Sauce in condiment cups for dipping.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"I Love You" In An Unconventional Way

After several months of intensive, visual therapy ("look left, look many fingers am I holding up")  Connie finally was authorized to remove her eye patch (which by this time was covered in enough rhinestones that it over shadowed the office disco ball).  Two things happened!  One, Wendell was entranced by duality of her vision and her two (count them) two gorgeous blue eyes. Two, depth perception having returned, Connie suddenly appreciated Wendell's manly good looks.  Since then the rest of us in the CELEBRATE labs in Colchester, VT have noticed them beginning attempts to court each other.  For example we have seen:

- Connie's handbag filled with cut-out paper hearts

- "Wendell, you wow me" written on the window in the morning dew

- We received a letter from the Burlington International Zoo thanking us for our adoption of a pair of love birds named "Connie and Wendell" 

- Connie's dented fender when she was shocked by Wendell's recorded voice reciting love poetry over her car speakers. She told the police officer responding to the fender bender that she found a CD in her car stereo and confirmed Wendell was not in the back seat as she first thought.  (She ran over our prized crab apple tree in the traffic circle in front of the lab)

- When invited over to Wendell's RV for cocktails, he served a delicious, fruity "Connie-Tini". A tsunami of nausea washed over the staff.

- Connie wrote "I'm wild about you" backwards on the rear window of his car.  Glancing in his rear view mirror his pace maker worked overtime!

- Wendell screaming "Meana Tanda Wena" Zulu for "I Love You" (Picked up form his studying abroad in the Congo learning from the native people the finer points of pom-pom people dolls.  Boy did his International Crafts degree pay off!)

Finally, after too many "Connie-Tinis" combined with the recent memory of her accident Connie decided to spend the night in Wendell's RV to be safe.  As she laid her head on the pillow, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"!  Wendell for yet another romantic surprise had placed a sturdy Hersey Kiss (point up) on Connie's pillow.  Having poor vision in the dark, Connie's left eye caught the silver foil and her cornea was no match!  Yes fans, the eye patch WILL return..... DON DON DOOOOOONNNNNNN.

We hope you were inspired by the prolific, romantic expressions of Connie and Wendell's blossoming love for one another!

To be continued....

Connie, an androgynous senior woman with eye patch

Thursday, June 14, 2012

::A New Look For An Old or Used Book::

Garage sale season is here and everywhere we go there are piles of old/used books and they are dirt cheap! Here are some clever ideas to re-purpose those books that won't make you sacrifice your favorite Kindle or Nook!

1.) Gift Box-  Take an old book and hollow out the interior with an Xacto knife creating a niche.  What you have just made is a gift box!

2.) DIY Magnetic Poetry/Sayings- Find a large print book. Stick your favorite pages on to self-stick magnetic sheets.  Cut the words apart and you'll have the beginnings of all sorts of fridge lit!

3.) Bookends- Find some hardcover books that catch your eye.  Depending on weight, glue together a minimum of 2-3 books together and let them dry for at least 48 hours.  If you decide to pile the book with the spines horizontal, you are all set.  If you plan on standing the spines vertically, make sure to glue the covers of the end books to the first page so they don't fan out.

4.) Tables- Glue a stack of good sized books together and pop a tray, framed mirror, wood, glass, marble, etc  on the top. You will literally (ha-ha) have a pedestal table!

5.) Place Mats-  Find large format, brightly colored colored children's books.  Remove your favorite pages and laminate!  Instant place mats that would be fun for your little ones!

6.) Accent Shelves- Measure the length of the spine of your book.  Secure two "L" brackets to the wall at the height at which you would like your shelf.  Make sure they are within the span of the spine.  Place you book on top of the "L" brackets and you have a cute accent shelf for a small display!

Thursday, June 7, 2012



1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vegetable oil (preferably peanut)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp chili sauce, such as Sriracha
4 cups steamed broccoli florets, for serving
Cooked brown rice, for serving

Preheat your oven to 375F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the chicken chunks with the corn-starch. Spread the cubes out and bake until they're cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.  Next, in a saucepan, heat the oil, garlic, and ginger on medium for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth, soy sauce, hoisin, vinegar, honey, and sriracha; simmer 3 minutes. Whisk the remaining cornstarch into 2 tablespoons water; add that and heat until the mixture has thickened, about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked chicken to the pan with the sauce and toss. Serve alongside the broccoli and over brown rice.


As you can recall, last week we posed a foraging challenge to you and boy did you respond!  We got four fabulous entries that we will share with you later in the post.  First, here are a few ideas we concocted at the CELEBRATE Lab!

Branch Necklace
Find a seasoned twig (not brand new but also not crumbling).  Drill a hole through the stem in a location of your choice.  String cord through the hole and decorate with beads, wire, paint, glitter, etc.

Reed Necklace
Many plants have hollow, reed-like stalks.  After the plant has died and the stalks have dried out naturally spray paint them in some fun colors.  Next, cut them into segments (A band saw works great become it doesn't crack or crush the stems).  String them onto some cord, adding beads between segments.  The beads help to make it look more uniform.

Framed Feather Art
Walking through the forest we often come across lovely feathers.  Why not turn them into wall art.  Simply, matte and frame.  Simple simple!

Here are some of our favorite submissions from the dozen we received!

Package Decor by Beverly from Spokane, WA.  Beverly tells us the ribbon is made from a long leafed plant which she dried and spray painted and the then she glued baby pine cones and pebbles to it.  Eco chic!

Leaf Transfer by Suzanne from Nice, France.  Suzanne placed an ivy sprig under a cloth napkin and hammered it with a rubber mallet transferring the pigment.  Next she accented it with craft paint.  
Walking Stick by Vladimir from Latvia.  Vlad as his friends call him (per his email) found a dried yet sturdy straight branch.  He stripped the bark off and embellished it feathers, beads, and metallic paints.  Then he gave it a few coats of varnish.  He drilled a hole through the top end and strung a piece of rawhide to serve as a wrist cord. 

Serving Tray by Eleanor from Checotah, OK.  She said these are pressed golden rod pressed between paper towels in a book.  She stressed to make sure your greenery is very flat and dry so they do not mildew.  She then placed the greenery on  matte board and covered it all with glass.  
Thanks to all our readers for their wonderful submissions!  Keep them coming!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Hello Faithful Fans!  We have a challenge for you.  We're going to spend the time between now and our next post foraging and creating items with the things we find in the fields and forests around us.  We challenge you to do the same!  Go out into your environment natural or man-made (to you urban readers) and create fabulous things!  Next email pictures to and you might be lucky enough to have your creations featured!!!  There may be prizes...maybe...

Good Luck!  Michael, Kathleen, and the crew at CELEBRATE!

Not Just Your Mother's Clothespins Anymore!

Here are a few wonderful ideas for re-purposing those always handy clothespins!

1.) Use a spare clothespin to hold a nail to avoid hitting your fingers when hanging a picture frame.

2.) Attach a strip of self-adhesive magnet to one side of the clothespins.  You can then attach nails or tacks to the magnet and then you can clip it to your shirt or other area close to your work space.

3.) Create a simple picture frame/holder by clipping a clothespin parallel to the bottom edge of the picture (long or short side depending on the picture's orientation)

4.) Attach a Popsicle stick to one side of the clothespin and create a bracelet "assistant".  It'll make putting on a bracelet a one woman job!  Hold the handle (Popsicle stick) in your hand with the clothespin facing down your forearm.  Clip the clothespin to one end of your bracelet and wrap the other end around and secure.  Tada!

5.) Use several clothespins to fold and secure the corners of your picnic tablecloth to protect it from gusts of wind.

6.) Keep several clothespins by your laundry hamper.  When you soil something simply clip a clothespin on to mark it for stain treatment!

Clothespin Frock by Christopher Bailey for Burberry  YIKES!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our Lab Loves Mother Earth!

One morning Wendell walked into the kitchen wearing Connie's silk robe and pulled a box of Captain Cavity Sugar Flakes from a plastic grocery bag.  At the same time, Connie was making fluffy pancakes and couldn't seem to locate her syrup pitcher.  A typical Tuesday brunch at the lab!  As we all sat down around the reclaimed Texaco sign that serves as our conference room table we found ourselves in a heated discussion regarding trash.  This was triggered by Wendell throwing the thick, plastic bag which held his too-sweet cereal  treat on the floor and the coordinating box which once contained the dentist dream into the trash.  We all yelled in unison, "There must be another use for that!" (meanwhile, Connie with her one good eye was still fumbling around trying to locate her pitcher).  Here are the ideas we jotted down on our napkins (because we reuse EVERYTHING).

To solve Connie's problem:

-Find yourself a small decorative, attractive teapot!  A charming syrup pitcher!  Look at yard sales, thrift shops, or your cupboard!

To solve Wendel's problem (it'll take even more than our team's help to solve HIS problems but we digress):

The Cereal Box
- A drawer organizer.  Slice off the tops and bottoms and fill them with odds and ends.  You can even use the small boxes for paper clips, staples, etc.  Kathleen recommends reinforcing the corners with tape for a longer life!

-A cupcake carrier.  Reseal your empty box of cereal and lay it flat.  Next, cut the now top off of the box creating a tray. Slip, the cut portion inside the tray to reinforce the bottom.  Now you can send you child to school with cupcakes for the bake sale without needing to fret about your expensive platters.

-Photo mailing.  Use scraps of the box to mail photos or documents without fear of them getting bent out of shape.  Cut any box into useful sizes for that matter!

- Shims.  Cut the box into small squares or rectangles of the same size.  Secure them with a rubber band.  Next time you run across a off kilter table or chair you will have the perfect solution.

The Cereal Liner

The liners are thick and water repellent  therefore excellent to pack your hoagie in.  Take the liner and remove any cereal dust.  Next cut into sheets and wrap your sprout wrap tightly!

You can also use the bag to smash stale bread into bread crumbs.  The liner is thick enough to take the abuse.

The Plastic Grocery Bag

Wrap your knees in plastic bags to prevent soiling your jeans while gardening.

Throw a plastic bag inside your purse or man-bag.  Next time it rains you will have a place to stash your wet umbrella!

You can of course wrap up a paint brush when taking a break.  The bag will keep the paint moist and ready to get back to work!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

10 Tips For Better Looking Bouquets

From our friends at Real Simple Magazine, here are some great tips for getting the most bang out of your bouquet!

1.) "Think of cut flowers like ice cream."  They won't melt but they will begin to wilt quickly.  Be sure to head straight home after purchasing them.

2.) Mold and soap speed up the decaying process.  Make sure your vases and tools are clean!

3.) Remove leaves that fall below the waterline to ward off bacteria growth.

4.) You don't have to cut flowers under water.  Have your vase ready to go.  The difference in life span is minimal if anything.

5.) For wood stemmed blooms such as Lilacs, smash the ends with a hammer to help them take in more water.

6.) Flowers that come from bulbs such as tulips, gladiolas, etc do best in cold water.

7.) Don't mix daffodils with other flowers.  They produce a sap that is detrimental to other flowers.  If you must mix them with other blooms, you can soak them in water separately for a few hours.

8.) Force unopened flowers to bloom in minutes by placing in very warm tap water.

9.) Wilted flowers, especially  roses can be revived by submerging them in cold water for a few hours.

10.) Fresh flowers will look fresher longer by keeping them away from too much heat, too much sunlight, and too many drafts, hot or cold.

So now you can tiptoe through your tulips without trepidation!