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Sunday, February 23, 2014

We're Going to The Dogs!

At the CELEBRATE home office, we have a large black Labrador retriever named Panini (don't ask). As we got used to Panini's demands and quirks, we realized we could make our lives and the lives of thousands of pet owners lives easier if we wrote down some of the interesting tips and tricks we have used, created, thought of over time!  Here are a sampling of them!


  1. Pet's absorb through their paws whatever you wash your floors with.  To save puppy pain, rinse your floors using a mixture of vinegar and water.
  2. Beware the following foods and plants are hazardous to your pooch: chocolate, garlic, chicken bones, sugar free gum with xylital, aloe, ivy, and amaryllis.
  3. Keep your dry dog food in an airtight container.  It keeps out bugs, prevents spills, and stops pup from raiding the pantry.
  4. Panini has a crate but she used to whine watching the busy goings on in the DIY Lab so we draped a light blocking blanket over the crate to create a comfy cave.  Now at nap time, she is happy a grilled sandwich! 
  5. Give your dog it's own plump bed, not yours!  You can make it yourself.  Sew or use iron-on bond tape to create a rectangular pocket the appropriate size of your dog and fill with a mix of fiber-fill and cedar chips.  The cedar chips repel fleas!  Make it soft and plump and your dog will think he's on cloud nine.  Here is another thought for small dogs.  Just use an old pillow of yours you were going to throw away.  Your dog will love how it smells like you.  You can even open the seam a bit to add those handy cedar chips.  In that case, a pillow case would be an easy to wash cover.
  6. When we first gave Panini a bath, we clogged the labs test tub with her fur.  Our solution, we took a small piece of window screening, placed it over the drain, and held it down with a couple pieces of masking/duct tape.  The screening catches the loose fir and makes it easy to remove.  You could also glue heavy washers or small stones to each corner of your screen to weight it down so that you wouldn't need to use the tape.
Dogs like Panini that like to chew things should have their toys rotated frequently to avoid boredom which can lead to chewing of furniture or important experiments that may being going on it the lab.  Oh yea, we learned the hard the way!

  • Take an old sock and add a handful of dog treats to it.  Roll it up, similar to how you would when doing your laundry.  Put the rolled sock inside another.  It will take the dog a while to get through to the treats. 
  • Take a soda bottle (remove the cap), slide it inside a sock and tie the end.  The dog will love the crinkly sound the empty bottle.
Tennis Balls:

  • Take three strips of old t-shirt or fleece (which is incredibly strong) and braid them together into a rope of sorts.  Next, take a tennis ball and cut a hole just large enough to push the braid through tightly.  Knot the braid on  both ends.  You can toss this around like a fox tail toy.
  • Place several tennis balls in a deep muffin tin.  Your pup will spend hours trying to figure out how to free the balls from their enclosures.
Paper Towel Tube/PVC Pipe:

  • Put snacks inside a paper towel tube.  Press the ends of the tube flat.  Cover the whole thing with duct tape and give it a toss!  The dog will love trying to get at the snacks.
  • Take a PVC pipe, place dried beans inside and cap both ends.  It makes a great rattle!

  • A plastic milk jug that is rinsed and has the cap removed makes the cheapest and quickest dog toy.
  • A large plastic jar from your local wholesale super store that would normally have held nuts or candy makes an excellent toy!  Remove the lid and give it a toss.  Your pup will take time to realize she can only grab it from the open end and will have fun chasing it around as you toss it and bounce it all over! 
  • Try making "doggie pops"!  Freeze beef or chick broth in plastic containers. You can even suspend treats or meat scrapes in the broth for added treat value.  We recommend using low or no sodium broth if you are buying from the supermarket.  Make them in the size that is appropriate for your breed.  They will LOVE them as a treat on a hot day!
  •  Take slices of sweet potato about 1-1.5 inches thick, using a hand held corer put a hole in the center of each slice, and then bake the slices on a lined cookie sheet at 200 degrees for several hours or until the slices have dried and are leathery.  Next, thread the dried potato "rings" onto a length of thick nylon rope.   Knot both end and give it a toss.  Your pooch will love gnawing on this treat. 
 Please note, be responsible and monitor your dog at all times while he or she plays especially with these toys!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Meal Of The Month: February

Apricot-glazed Cornish hens for two

2 Servings
Prep: 15 min. Bake: 65 min. plus standing time

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Cornish game hens (20 to 24 ounces each)
2 tbsp butter, melted, divided
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grated onion
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Method of preparation:
Combine the salt and cayenne. Rub a third of the mixture inside hens.
Brush 1-tablespoon butter over hens; sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture. Place on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the preserves, honey, onion, nutmeg and remaining butter. Cook and stir until preserves are melted.
Brush over hens. Bake 35-40 minutes longer or until golden brown and a meat thermometer reads 180 F. Cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Romantic Dinner 101: Valentine's Day

  1. Location, location, location! Anyone can make a reservation at the local French restaurant, but we are going to help you create the perfect ambiance in your own home. Find a non-traditional and unexpected spot to enjoy dinner within your house or apartment.  If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, utilize your outdoor space as well. For example, the formal dining room, an intimate nook in the bedroom, the garden, etc.
  2. Use your nicest dishes, flatware, and glassware.  This helps set the "special" feeling of the evening!
  3. Mood music is key.  Put on a classic artist such as Eric Clapton or Sinatra.  Play a record for a special feeling.
  4. Avoid scented candles around your dining area.  Stick with unscented, white candles for a classic look. Make sure however the house does smell pleasant and the temperature is comfortable.  Take out the trash, change the litter box, etc.
  5. For romantic lighting, cluster your pillar candles for the perfect glow. Be sure they are no higher than 12 inches tall.  Scatter votive candles around the room to add ambiance and mood.
  6. Keep your menu fairly simple and prepare as much in advance to save your attention for your special guest.  This also keeps the kitchen relatively neat.  No one wants to spend the evening stuck doing dishes or looking at the mountains of dishes made from the meal.
  7. Make the meal three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert. This makes it feel more special than just a snack.
  8. Make sure you have a pitcher or glasses of ice water flavored with citrus fruits, cucumber, or even basil/mint in addition to wine or cocktails.
  9. Avoid messy and overly rich foods for the meal.  No one feels sexy when they are bloated or if they have greasy fingers from tacos.
  10.  Make sure your timing on the food is just right so everything is served at the correct temperature and time.  Be ready when your guest arrives.
  11. Before your guest arrives, go and dress up in a special outfit.  A nice dress or shirt and tie.  Remember this is a special evening, no PJs or baseball caps.
  12. Make sure to eliminate all distractions including technology, phones, pets, etc.  Send your cats or dogs for an overnight at the kennel or grandma's house.
  13. After your dinner is finished, dance together, watch a romantic movie, or maybe hand dip strawberries together.
  14. Our last tip, our favorite way to start and end a romantic, Valentine's dinner: Chocolate.
      • Chocolate Martini: Take a martini glass and drizzle hard shell ice cream coating on the inside of the glass.  Use both milk and white chocolate varieties to create a pattern. Next, in a shaker combine 3/4 cup half and half or light cream, 1 cup dark chocolate liquor, 1/4 cup vodka, with ice.  Shake to combine.  Strain into prepared glass.  Garnish with a conversation heart.
      • Flourless Fudge Cookies (Courtesy of King Arthur Flour): 
          • 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
          • 1/4 tsp salt
          • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional but divine)
          • 1 cup dutch process (preferred) cocoa powder
          • 3 large egg whites
          • 2 tsp gluten free vanilla extra (most pure vanilla extracts should be gluten free)
        • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two cookie sheet, or line them with greased parchment paper. Stir together all ingredients until smooth.  Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again until smooth.  Drop the soft, batter like dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 1/2 inch circles.  Bake the the cookies for 8 minutes.  They should spread, become slightly shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets.  The result is an ultra chewy, rich chocolate cookie with no additional fat or gluten!