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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.