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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!