I am very new to chemistry, so pardon my candor.
I noticed that when using a par apparatus, you can see the H2 pressure decrease as your catalyst binds hydrogen. I guess if the pressure drop for a solution with catalyst is greater than the pressure drop for ~the same volume solution without, then your catalyst is binding hydrogen. I guess ideally you could see if your solvent bursts into flames (especially if you are using methanol). My advisor also told me about "Palladium black", which you can purchase from Aldrich.. but use it with argon.