CUTE PETS – Dec. 2013

December is such a fun month with pets – most dogs will scamper around in the snow, snapping at the flakes in front of their nose. Cats may not feel quite as pleased with snow, but they have been known to venture out for a quick taste before scurrying back inside to a warm bed.


I’ve learned the hard way that dogs and chocolate don’t mix – even though they seem to love the stuff! So make sure to keep your holiday chocolates and goodies out of reach, and keep cats away from holiday greenery and poinsettias. Let’s make sure all your pets have a safe, happy holiday!


Meowy Christmas!


By Paul Santana


dreamstime_xxl_19666491As winter fast approaches and the cooler weather settles in, now may be a good time to consider taking care of some of those automotive maintenance tasks you’ve been putting off. Hand-washing your car or truck at home can be difficult once there’s snow on the ground, so taking care of some general cleaning and detailing now will make your life easier in the coming months.If you’re the do-it-yourself type, like me, one way to accomplish these tasks is to take a drive down to the local auto parts store to purchase a multitude of cleaners, brushesand polishes. More than likely, that’s what most of us will probably do. However, there is a more cost effective method. You might be surprised what you can achieve by simply taking an inventory of some of the basic household items that you probably already have sitting around your home. To help you make use of what you might already have, I’ve collected several home remedies and methods that I’ve tried or heard about over the years, and put them together for you to try out in your own driveway.


Under the Hood

If your battery terminals are showing signs of corrosion, you may have heard that one of the quickest and easiest ways to remove the corrosion is to pour a little cola soda over them. This is true, as the cola will literally eat the corrosion away. The downside to using soda is the sticky residue that it leaves behind, so if you have it, I recommend using baking soda mixed with a little water instead.It’s best to remove the terminals and clean one at a time (an old tooth brush works well here). Remember to always wear gloves, and finish by wiping the connections and terminals with a damp cloth.Applying some petroleum jelly to the clean, dry terminals will help prevent future corrosion.


While you’re under there, take a look at your windshield washer fluid. If you’re running low, you can make your own by mixing together 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent, and 1 quart of rubbing alcohol. The alcohol helps ensure the mixture won’t freeze, and leaves a streak-free shine.



Paint and Exterior

dreamstime_xxl_19941782Most of today’s automobiles feature a paint system designed to prolong your vehicle’s color and protect the bare metal from rusting; keeping your car clean is the best way to maintain that factory finish. Start by looking for colors and substances that don’t belong. Cleaning bugs and tar off the front of your vehicle can be a real pain, but believe it or not, laundry pre-wash liquid can remove most tar from your car’s finish. Once the tar is gone, why not give it a good wash? One teaspoon of your favorite mild shampoo or dish soap mixed in a gallon of water makes a decent car wash detergent. Be sure to use a soft cloth to scrub (old cotton t-shirts work well), rinse often, and watch out for hard water spots. Now that it’s clean, this is a great time to try to remember the last time you waxed your vehicle. If you can’t remember, guess what – it’s probably time!If you’re still not sure, pour a glass of water across your hood. If the water beads up and cascades off, you’re in good shape. If it just pools up and doesn’t bead, it’s time for a wax.Although home remedies can be great for cleaning your ride, in my opinion, wax is the exception.The best way to ensure you’re properly protecting your clear coat and paint finishes is to purchase a good automotive wax and apply as directed. A quality wax applied correctly will leave your car looking clean longer, and can extend the interval between washes.


Coming back to home remedies, cola and aluminum foil will clean rust off your car’s metal bumper (if you still have a metal bumper). And speaking of bumpers, if you’re finally ready to say goodbye to that old bumper sticker, try lighter fluid. Simply spray the old sticker, let it soak in for a few minutes,and then gently remove with a razor blade or plastic putty knife.


If your wipers are beginning to show signs of wear, you can usually extend their life a bit by rubbing them briskly with medium-grit sandpaper. You can also keep them clean by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol.


Perhaps you’re starting to notice your headlights aren’t as bright as they used to be. Over time,they may have developed a haze. The good news is you can probably restore them by simply using inexpensive white toothpaste.Pick one with a little grit, and apply a liberal amount to the headlight with your hands. Work in the paste with a clean cotton rag using a circular buffing motion. After a few minutes, remove the paste using another clean rag. Once complete, wipethe headlight clean with a window cleaner (one-halfcup each of rubbing alcohol and water plus a tablespoon of vinegar works well). As an alternative to toothpaste, some say using a cooking oil spray will also do the trick. Using a cotton rag, wipe the oil onto the lens, taking care not to contact the paint, and simply wipe away any excess oil. The idea is that the oil will help fill in any minor scratches.



Speaking of scratches,surface scratches are probably the most common exterior issue you’ll run into.One of the most effective methods for repairing minor scratches may also bethe most surprising. Toothpaste includes a natural abrasive that’s gentle enough to clean your teeth, but also strong enough to remove superficial scratches in your car’s clear coat finish. First, you need to make sure the area is clean and dry. Next, apply some toothpaste using a soft cotton cloth. Begin buffing the scratch away using a series of alternating circular motions. Once your arm feels like it’s about to fall off, stopand wipe the area clean. If not completely gone, wait a few minutes for the feeling in your arm to return, then try again. As with even the most expensive off-the-shelf cleaners, sometimes it takes more than one application to achieve the look you’re going for. Once you’ve achieved a smooth surface, buff with a rubbing compound (yes, you’ll have to purchase some) and then wax to restore the shine.

As long as you can’t see the bare metal, you’ve probably only scratched the clear coat. Paint chips, however, are another story. Ifyou see bare metal, you’ve got a problem. Until you can make it to the store to purchase a paint chip pen or touch-up kit, you can protect your car temporarily by applyingclear nail polish to the area. A candle in a similar color rubbed into the affected area will also work. The wax will help seal the crack or chip until you can properly repair the surface.


dreamstime_xxl_34570810Now that the exterior is looking good, it’s time to concentrate on the area in which we spend the most time. Most interior surfaces can be cleaned by hand using basic mixtures of household ingredients, but some materials may require more specific cleaners. The point is, do your research to make sure you don’t damage your interior fabrics. I’m going to concentrate mainly on the carpeting as well as the general fabric materials used in most interiors.


To remove basic stains from your carpeting, it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves, have some clean cotton clothsand/or a sponge handy, and some dry towels. In a spray bottle, mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, then add a couple of tablespoons of mild dish soap. Spray the area,taking care not to saturate, and work it into the carpet with asponge, clean cloth, or medium-bristle brush.It’s also a good idea to roll the windows down to help the carpet dry faster. Wait about 30 minutes, then blot the area dry with a clean cloth to remove any residual cleanser.


For grease stains, try sprinkling baby powder or cornstarch on the stain, then leave it for a couple of hours before vacuuming clean. Blot the area with a mixture of warm water and grease-cutting dish soapto remove any residual stains. Be sure not to reinstall any mats you may have removed until the carpet is completely dry.


Isn’t it about time to clean that dusty dashboard? Instead of using a rag that could leave lint particles behind, grab some used fabric softener sheets, which won’t leave any lint behind.


If you’re a smoker (or own an older vehicle that still has ashtrays) try sprinkling some baking soda in your ashtray. The baking soda will absorb any odors and keep your car smelling fresh.Another great way to keep your interior smelling fresh is to put a bar of your favorite fragrant soap under the seat.



Keeping your car’s exterior looking good and interior cleancan be an expensive endeavor. But, using some of the items you might already have around the house can help lessen the burden. Plus, you can feel better about not exposing yourself to all the chemicals found in most off-the-shelf cleaners. It may sound a little silly, but a clean vehicle can also make you feel better. Remember how good you felt driving it home for the first time?Now get out there and clean that car!

Don’t Sweat it!

By Róisín Crowe


Sweat the small stuff …

From sweat lodges in remote settings to far infrared saunas found in the finest spas, gyms and wellness centers of the world, raising one’s body temperature and sweating out toxins are but two of the many benefits of the age-old practice of heat therapy.
Sweat Lodge and teepeeWhile the human body hasn’t changed much in eons, the world we live in most definitely has.  Sadly, most of us are living, breathing and eating in an environment heavily steeped with pollution, toxins, chemicals, additives, preservatives, as well as many dangerous metals. It’s hardly an uplifting thing to contemplate, but there is good news.

As a matter of fact, the good news is plenty. We are more aware than ever before, as well as being more inclined to take self-responsibility and make conscious, informed choices. Our bodies have a complex, natural filtering system in addition to an equally complex storage facility for the excess toxins, which acts as a sort of buffering system. Many of us don’t even feel the effects of these toxic accumulations until we are experiencing random physical symptoms that tend to baffle our physicians, sometimes waiting until enough harm is done before a diagnosis can be made. Others, however, suffer from very mild to extremely debilitatingchemical sensitivity, as much of the toxicity of the day-to-day world can set off a chain reaction.

The heat is on …

dreamstime_1835271Heat therapy, or thermotherapy as it more commonly is called nowadays, has been around for thousands of years, dating back to 500 B.C., when heat was used to create a fever in an attempt to cure illness. Hundreds of years later, many more benefits of heat have been discovered as well as incorporated into modern-day therapeutic protocols ranging from localized treatment of aching muscles, such as sports injuries or arthritis, to whole-body, systemic infections. Yet it wasn’t until approximately the 1960s when heat was effectively studied in conjunction with cancer cells. The conclusion was that cancer cells are sensitive to heat; since that time, a wide variety of thermotherapy has been used on a wide variety of conditions, including cancer and detoxification.

Many forms of heat …

Heat therapy has been characterized by the application of heat to the body as a natural remedy or for a sense of renewal – even a sense of cleansing. Hot packs, hot towels, hot water soaks, hot baths, hot springs, heating pads and saunas are delivery systems for heat. Religious rites as well as ancient tradition include heat. One such example is that of the sweat lodge.

The Sweat Lodge …

The sweat lodge or sweathouse is also sometimes called a purification ceremony or ceremonial sauna. This practice dates back to the fifth century, B.C.Many diverse cultures and peoples throughout the world have had and/or still utilize some variation of this sacred ritual. The Celtic tribes of Ireland and Scotland used vapor baths, and the sweathouse remained in general use until the 19th century in Ireland.These were most likely therapeutic in nature, constructed for just one person at a time.This practice has been found throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America.

woman sweat head tiltNative American culture reveres the Inipi ceremony, a type of sweat lodge that is a Lakota purification ceremony. This highly sacred rite has been preserved through many generations and is not fully revealed to non-Lakota people. However, roughly described, it involves a frame of saplings covered in blankets or animal hides. Stones are heated in fire and then placed inside the lodge in a centrally located pit. Water is then poured on the stones in order to create steam. Songs as well as traditional prayers are offered in the language of the Lakota.Those that perform this sacred rite are highly trained for years and must communicate with “Our Sacred Grandfathers” in their Native Plains tongue.

Keeping an extremely high standard in honoring the tradition has been paramount for those inheriting as well as maintainingthis instruction and responsibility. This information has been meticulously taught, passed down and preserved. It is neither taken lightly nor is it “open to the public,” as rules do apply. Little has changed over time, with the exception of the animal hides often being replaced with blankets, plastic sheeting, canvas sheets or tarps, and even old carpet is used. Women are permitted in some ceremonies under some very stringent conditions depending upon the specific tribal custom and authority.
Beauty Spa FacialEach tribal community has broad similarities that overlap in this practice, yet with very different elements specific to the tradition of each group; however, the ideal of spiritual cleanliness is common to all. Prayer and offerings are also usually part of a common thread, with a shared communion of Spirit.

It has been unfortunate that this sacred rite has become “popularized” as a sort of retreat or spa treatment without regard to its rich heritage or sacred meaning. Relatively recent news has reported “sweat lodge” deaths more than once. These tragic casualties were in no part a result of an age-old responsible practice.


Heavenly Heat …

Another form of heat therapy is the sauna. Found in the world’s finest gyms, hotels, cruise ships and homes, this ancient invention originated in Finland. It is basically a small room or house where participants experience dry or wet heat therapy by promoting relaxation and sweating.  Temperatures range from 70 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and steam vapor is created by splashing water on hot rocks. In Africa, for example, the temperatures are kept much lower than in Europe. The many customs and practices throughout the world vary greatly, and can be confusing to travelers.

Couple using saunaThe dry heat sauna, which warms the “objects” rather than the air, is gaining popularity in the form of both the infrared and the far infrared saunas. The far infrared sauna penetrates the tissue deeper by the emission of light that is absorbed by the surface of the skin. One of the health benefit claims of the infrared sauna is that of detoxification through perspiration. Many people with chronic illnesses and/or physical limitations are not physically able to expend energy through exercise in order to perspire. The far infrared sauna is also considered more comfortable by those who do not tolerate the temperatures of the standard sauna.

With a growing concern in environmental toxicity, many new cases of chemical sensitivity are being diagnosed, ranging from the mild to the incapacitating. Toxins are stored in the body fat as well as connective tissue, organs and joints. Releasing these toxins through the sweating process is a key reason the sauna is gaining popularity in individual home settings. A leader in the manufacturing of far infrared saunas, Heavenly Heat Saunas offers a safe detoxifying environment for the chemically ill, and are all entirely made in the U.S. Heavy metal detoxification relief; relief for arthritis, Lyme Disease and autism; as well as overall personal health and stress reduction are but a few of the benefits in a completely wood-glue- and varnish-free environment.

You might be wondering what is the difference between sweating in a sauna as compared to good old-fashioned outdoor exercise or work. Great question – and there is a difference between these types of sweating. Sweating during exercise is not nearly as effective for detoxification because exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic nervous activity inhibits toxic elimination, according to Lawrence Wilson, M.D., a holistic physician and heat therapy expert.

If none of this captures your interest or specific health need, then consider the skin rejuvenation benefit of heat therapy. Sauna slowly restores elimination through the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body,and its major eliminative channel. In most people, it is inactive, congested and toxic, according to Dr. Wilson; sun exposure as well as exposure to hundreds of different chemicals damage the skin. The sweating process helps gently eliminate all heavy metals and toxic chemicals. This, combined with the relaxation benefits, contributes greatly to a totally refreshed overall sense of well being and rejuvenated skin, with general improvement reported in acne, rashes, burns, psoriasis and eczema.

Relax, unwind, enjoy, and most definitely …SWEAT IT!!

Getting Your Head Into the Game: A Parent’s Guide to Shopping for Video Game Consoles

By Micah Berg


If you find yourself shopping for one of the newest gaming consoles this holiday season, prepare for a shock. The strongest contenders in the gaming industry – Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – are pouring everything into this year’s video game production. Sony’s PS4 is boasting cutting-edge equipment, while Microsoft centered its focus on becoming the anchor of every entertainment system. Nintendo’s new Wii U combines the approachability of its predecessor with the industry-leading Nintendo DS, a portable gaming console; plus, the much-anticipated Ouya console hit the shelves this year. This holiday season, your gifting options are as numerous as they are decisive.
ps4-xbox-one-controllersAdmittedly, game consoles are intimidating.Consoles cost hefty amounts of hard-earned cash, and they require games that also accumulate costs over time. When you buy one, you want it to work. You expect whoever receives a console to be entertained for years, and you need that equipment to carry its weight. However, you may be relieved to discover that the perfect gift is well within your grasp.

Consider your target audience

Frequently, people make the mistake of purchasing the console that receives the most hype. Console producers invest millions of dollars every year into demonstrations because the hype drives revenue. Fortunately, each console inadvertently aims for a specific age group. The hands-on design of Nintendo’s Wii U makes it a picture-perfect young-age console. Younger audiences tend to lean toward the Wii U because it focuses onmotion and simplicity.Sony’s beefy hardware encourages game developers to generate highly polished games, which appeal to an adult audience. Microsoft’s superior online integration draws the most tweens and teens.

As a rule of thumb, explore the games offered for each console to grasp for what type of audience the console excels. Racing games, first-person shooters and fantasy (role-playing games) tend to exhibit a teenage fan base, but can potentially feature adult content. Trivia games, sports games and party games appeal to family-oriented audiences. If the console you are considering as a top candidate hosts a majority of video games with titles such as “Grand Theft Auto” or “Dante’s Inferno,” then the console’s focus is inevitably an adult audience. In other words, don’t let the two or three trivia games convince you that a console is family-oriented. See what audience the majority of a console’s games appear to be suited for, because each console caters to a specific audience – from the engineering to the price tag on the box.


Compare initial and annual prices

PS4_10Next, gauge the costs of your options. Individual consoles cost a lump sum, and the games cost extra as well. Never purchase a console without incorporating the costsof video games and additional equipment. For example, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PS4 both require a monthly or annual subscription for the bells and whistles, as well as online gameplay (on which both consoles depend). Annual subscriptions typically cost $50, and the highest quality games cost $60. Many of those games also depend on expansion packs that can drive the cost of a game upwards of $120.The expense of gaming lies more in the games than the console itself, but fortunately there are options that counteract the cost of gaming altogether.

For many, PC gaming is the friendliest monetary solution. Video games released on computer platforms require no monthly or annual subscriptions, and seasonal sales tremendously reduce the price of video games.In return, PC gamers sacrifice dependability and simplicity. Computer viruses, hardware failures and game compatibility can put a temporary damper on gaming. Less-than-technical audiences risk spending gratuitous amounts of money on PC gaming because of upkeep. Worse yet, the general risk of PC gaming is only overshadowed by the cost of a computer itself. Nonetheless, if you find PC gaming to be a viable solution, then the lump sum for a computer pays off tremendously.

ouya-the-85-million-kickstarter-project-63000-people-wanted-is-kind-of-a-let-downInversely, not all consoles are expensive. Consider the Ouya if you are going to be responsible for all the purchases resulting from the console. Not only does the Ouya cost hundreds less than other consoles, the games cost less as well.Each game released for the Ouya is required to offer a free-to-play version of the game, and the games themselves typically range from $1 to $20.

The lower cost of an Ouya comes with certain implications. Namely, the traditional $60 price tag on games from other consoles accounts for development costs. Games produced at low costs sacrifice quality and longevity, forcing a market of lower-quality games. Most of the games released for the Ouya share a market with smartphones, and they take less time to beat. Nevertheless, other consoles tend to charge developers extra, notching up the price of a game. In reality, the quality and longevity sacrificed for games on the Ouya pays off in the long run.

Separate the gold from the gimmicks

Gauge the cost of a console in terms of what you get out of it. When purchasing an Ouya, your money accounts strictly for the console and a single controller. If you – or the individual to whom you are giving a console – expect more from a console, then check out some of the extra features.

Xbox One

Microsoft_Xbox_One_consoleIronically, the Xbox One was designed primarily as a home entertainment solution. It contains a DVR, similar to a cable or satellite TV receiver, and the effort that Microsoft invested into the Xbox One mainly revolves around subscription TV. Regardless, the Xbox One is expected to maintain a focus on online gaming. The controllers and headsets offered for the Xbox One will integrate perfectly with games released for the console, and the system also depends on a front-facing camera. Microsoft’s line of Xboxes boasts a history of online gaming successes, including “Halo,”“Call of Duty,”“Forza” and “Rainbow Six.” Most likely, Microsoft will maintain the winning streak of online gaming with the Xbox One, but online superiority could have been accomplished with a $300 price tag had the company simply developed a game console that doesn’t secondarily record television.Depending on your desires, the Xbox One can be a phenomenal game console that handles television … or a confused mess.

Playstation 4

The strongest changes to the Playstation 4 happened months before development. Originally, Sony intended for individual games sold on the PS4 to register to the console when played. In other words, Sony hoped to eliminate the used game market. The company wisely decided to reverse their one-use games and passed the simple, powerful PS4 into development. Not only does the PS4 cost $399 (which is $100 less than the Xbox One), but it’s also the strongest console on the market. In the grand scheme of things, the PS4 provides the most quality for the amount that you spend. The social networking features and PSVita (Sony’s handheld console) compatibility complement its sheer quality as a game console. The only true downside to the console is the awkward touch-sensitive pad in the center of the control, which doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

Nintendo Wii U

Wii-UWhen the original Wii was released, it instantly became a top seller. The motion games and the simple control scheme introduced families to gaming in a friendly way. Nintendo also created the top-selling Nintendo DS, a handheld console. Now Nintendo has released another monster in the gaming industry: the Wii U. The many features of the Wii U mirror those of previous successful consoles. It integrates the Wii’s ability to play motion games with the Nintendo DS’s dual screens, and, as always, Nintendo will be encouraging the same titles that have made them famous throughout gaming history. Unfortunately, the dual-screened, motion-activated Wii U appears to be a fundamentally shaky console. Dual screens aided handheld consoles due to the lack of a complex controller. Motion gaming works well on a stationary console because players tend to become self-conscious while playing them. Motion games are also not safe to play while on the move.When dual screens and motion gaming are combined, both features inadvertently become unnecessary. For $299, consider purchasing the original Wii and a handful of quality games …or maybe an Ouya.

Cute Pets: November 2013

If you’ve been keeping score, our office now boasts two bullies and two lap dogs. But just to tip the scales in the bully direction, Shana recently rescued an Alapaha Blue-Blood Bulldog, an old breed that has recently been brought back from near extinction. According to the ABBB website, they are described as “American as apple pie,” and have existed in the rural southern United States for over 200 years. Dixie was a bit shy and skittish at first, but she’s well on her way to becoming an office fixture. And judging by the size of her feet, this Dixie chick promises to be a very large girl!


Keep sending us your cute Halloween pet pictures – some of those costumes are a hoot!

Concours d’Elegance Offers a Glimpse Into Automotive Perfection

By Paul Santana

Concours_d'Elegance_Logo Courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. All rights reserved.

For the past 63 years, Pebble Beach Golf Links, located on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula in Pebble Beach, California, has been host to what has become known as the world’s premier celebration of collector cars – the Concours d’Elegance.  Once a year along the famous 18th fairway, thousands of spectators gather to be in the presence of some of the world’s most collectable, and expensive, automobiles. This year, over 250 historic vehicles showed up from 36 states and 12 different countriesto compete for Best in Class, and ultimately, Best in Show honors.
CadillacElmirajConceptReveal05.jpgThis year’s top honor went to an immaculately restored 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria, owned by previous Concourse winners Joseph and Margie Cassini III.  Having spent much of its life in Puerto Rico as a taxi, it was brought back to the United States in 1968. Ownership exchanged hands a few times before the Cassinis purchased the car in 2010, marking the beginning of a rigorous three-year, complete teardown restoration.

“Each owner wanted to restore it, but the task seemed too daunting,” Joseph Cassini said.  More than 10,000 man-hours later, it has been restored to showroom condition, and is celebrating a best-in-show win. This marks the Cassinis’ second best-in-show win, and the first American-made car to win the ribbon in nearly 20 years.
cadillac-elmiraj-concept-interior-pebble-beach-revealAmong the Pebble Beach crowd were famous celebrities such as car enthusiast Jay Leno and actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, along with representatives from nearly all the major auto manufacturers from around the world, all coming together to celebrate automotive history, as well as to provide a glimpse into our automotive future.On the putting green in front of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the “Concept Lawn” displayed 20concept and new production vehicles, many of which were making their world or North American debut.

Sandra Button, Chairman of this year’s Concours d’Elegance, wanted to celebrate the whole of automotive history.

“We’re committed to showcasing the very best of the automotive world, past and present.”

By gathering examples of future automotive design, together with exquisite examples of automotive past, the Concourse d’Elegance had something to offer every automotive enthusiast. While this concept of mixing the past with the future is nothing new for the show, (they’ve been doing it since the early ‘90s), this year featured some breathtaking new models and concepts that will hopefully be making their way into dealer showrooms soon.

acura-nsx-concept-9Acura NSX Concept:Marking Honda motor company’s return to the sports car market, the next generation Acura NSX has been “teased” at several recent shows, but the Pebble Beach showing revealed to the public a glimpse at the direction in which Acura’s interior is heading.This new NSX will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected V6 engine, and will feature Acura’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD), putting traction to all four wheels. Its three-electric-motor hybrid system – one adding power to the V6 and two powering the front wheels –works in sync with a dual clutch transmission to provide varying torque levels to the wheels, enhancing cornering and acceleration performance. Acura plans to release the Ohio-built NSX in 2015, with a possible topless roadster soon to follow.

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept:Cadillac has released some very performance-based designs in the past few years, and this year’s offering continues that trend. The Elmiraj, unveiled in a color GM calls Indian Blue, is a beautiful two-door four-seater, with a distinctive hard centerline crease from front to back. The stretched-out 121-inch wheelbase is reminiscent of the long Eldorado models of the past, and with an overall length of 205 inches, it’s one of the longest concept cars we’ve seen out of GM in years. Powered by an eight-cylinder, twin-turbocharged engine, the Elmiraj is a rear-wheel-drive luxury sport concept that Cadillac hopes will clearly represent where their brand is headed. The luxurious interior consists of high-quality wood accents mixed with state-of-the-art, three-dimensional displays and futuristic leather seats. Although its Pebble Beach world debut featured only two doors, GM Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn admits they have already looked at the possibility of offering a four-door as well.

Galpin Ford GTR1Galpin Ford GTR1:  Galpin Auto Sports drew upon its 60-plus years of automotive customizing experience to design and craft their first coachbuilt Ford GTR1 supercar. Based on Ford’s GT design, Galpin’s goal with the GTR1 was to show what the GT should have evolved into had Ford continued its production. The GTR1 is powered by a twin-turbo-charged 5.4L V8 engine, capable of producing an estimated 1,024 hp and 740 ft-lb of torque, propelling any driver brave enough to pilot it to a top speed in excess of 225 mph. The body is handcrafted in lightweight aluminum by expert metal crafters, and is approximately five inches wider than the original Ford GT. Rolling on 20” forged aluminum rims wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, the six piston brakes and full carbon rotors bring all 1,024 horses to an abrupt stop. Carbon fiber accents and high-output headlamps round out the sleek exterior, and inside you’ll find luxurious hand-stitched leather seats, headliner and panels, along with machined aluminum gauge accents and a high-quality sound system. Galpin plans on producing the American-built GTR1 in very limited numbers, so you better get in line now.

Lamborghini-Veneno1Lamborghini Veneno:            With the recent production of the spaceship-like Aventador, Lamborghini continued to push the limits of futuristic supercar design with the amazingly aerodynamic Veneno. Making its North American debut at Pebble Beach, the Veneno (Italian for “venom”)  resembles more of a four-wheel rocket ship than a car, and honestly, if it had wings, it probably could fly. The ultra lightweight, futuristic Veneno is powered by a 6.5 liter V12 mid-mounted engine, which produces 750 hp, and is linked to a 7-speed Independent Shifting Rod transmission. All of which translates into extremely fast gear changes (50 milliseconds), sending power to the pavement through its permanent all-wheel drive system. Zero to 62mph is accomplished in just 2.8 seconds, and tops out at around 220 mph. Lamborghini will only produce three cars to sell, all of which have already been spoken for.

Laraki-Motors-Epitome-ConceptLaraki Designs California Epitome:Continuing with the theme of Lamborghini’s futuristic supercar, the Laraki Epitome Concept may appear more at home in a science fiction film than cruising the streets of California. Designed and built in California, the heart of the Epitome is based on a heavily modified C6 corvette engine, producing 1,200 hp from the 7.0-liter quad-turbocharger power plant, boosted to over 1,750hp when it’s filled with 110-octane racing fuel.   Laraki, better known for designing high-end yachts, has spent a great amount of time trying to make the Epitome look like nothing you’ve seen before. The body is all carbon fiber, with muscular and aggressive lines, unusual surface treatments, and its unique lean-forward stance adds to the Epitome’s menacing appearance. Comprised mainly of carbon fiber and aluminum, it’s extremely lightweight, and built to corner. This mid-front-engine hypercar is eye-catching to say the least, and with a $2 million price tag, it’s ultra-exclusive, and, unfortunately, just a bit beyond my reach.
best of show winnerThis year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance brought together thousands of auto enthusiasts, with one common trait – their love for the automobile. With $1.27 million raised for various charities this year, and a history of over $16 million raised since the first Concours in 1950, Pebble Beach is a prodigious venue that continues to draw large crowds year after year. The 2013 Concept Lawn consisted primarily of high-end performance vehicles, but also displayed a few practical examples of cars to come. As engineering techniques and material technology continue to evolve, hopefully auto designers will keep pushing the performance envelope, while paying homage to automotive past, and generatingmore inspiring designs for the future.


Each year, the Christmas shopping season kicks off with Mistletoe Market – a three-day extravaganza of over 100 merchants featuring clothing, gourmet food, children’s games and toys, jewelry, home décor and Christmas decorations. Celebrating its 20th year, Mistletoe Market opens at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 31 and runs through Saturday, November 2.




Funds raised during Mistletoe Market help support the Junior League of Oklahoma City’s community projects, which focus on “Changing Lives Through Literacy.” Commemorate the 20th anniversary of Mistletoe Market by purchasing a Junior League of OKC ornament, from Kitty Keller Designs, for $30. View the 2013 ornament, only the second in the series, at www.jloc.org.


Also on their website you will find a comprehensive list of attending vendors. Along with local shops, returning favorites include gifts for men (Provisions for Men, Classic Golf Gifts); women’s gift ideas (Fox Lane Pearls, Shawls by Barrett Imports); decorations for your home (G Gallery and Glass Studio, What’s In A Name, Robin Wolf Pottery); Christmas gifting (Karen’s Dough Delights, Under Wraps); gifts for kids (Pajama Party, Puzzle Tracks, Scribbles & Dribbles); food for holiday entertaining (The Toffee Company, Company’s Comin’, DGZ Chocolates, Pastamore Gourmet Foods); and holiday spirits (Salt & Lime, Wine-A-Rita).


A special Preview Party takes place on October 30 from 6-10 p.m.; the price of admission is $45 and includes beverages, hors d’oeuvres provided by local eateries, live music, and a jump on all your Christmas shopping. Plan to join the fun at the Cox Convention Center, with plenty of underground parking.


Admission tickets purchased online at www.jloc.org through October 25 will be mailed to your specified address. After that date, tickets must be purchased at the door.


By Randy C. Anderson

The tradition of pumpkin carving began not with carving pumpkins, but instead carving turnips, beets and potatoes. Hundreds of years ago, the Irish were the first to create “Jack-O-Lanterns.” These became synonymous with the tradition of Halloween, which itself dates back 2000 years, when the Celts celebrated November 1 as the newyear.

TTP_4437An Irish myth about “Stingy Jack” gave rise to the term “Jack-O-Lantern.”As the story goes, Stingy Jack loved to play tricks on everyone … even the devil. When Jack died, he was refused entrance into heaven, but neither was he allowed into hell. The devil wanted nothing to do with him (it is said that Jack once tricked the devil himself). Legend says that Jack has roamed the earth as a ghostly figure ever since, carrying a burning coal in a lantern he carved out of a turnip. Supposedly, the devil tossed the burning coal to Jack when he refused him entrance to hell.

With the myth of Jack Of The Lantern, the Irish carved just about any food that was large enough to display a face –the idea being to ward off evil spirits throughout the countryside when Halloween arrived. With waves of Irish immigrants flocking to the United States in the 1800s, the tradition of carving Jack-O-Lanterns came with them, and has been celebrated ever since.

IMG_0839-Edit-1There aren’t many examples of our early ancestors’ carvings, but assuredly, they were simple caricatures carved into beets, potatoes, or turnips. Pumpkins were quickly found to make an excellent carving medium, and almost all other foods were spared in their favor. Pumpkins remain the most popular carving medium today.

Trevar Peterson takes pumpkin carving to a whole new level with detailed portraits and scenes he spends up to 12 hours carving. He is a meticulous artist who pays attention to everydetail. Always a big fan of Halloween, he first tried his hand at carving about 14 years ago. Trevar started with “those kits” found at craft stores, complete with paper patterns and plastic carving tools. He enjoyed those first few years,but eventually wanted something better. With a background in art and a degree in graphic design, he started drawing portraits and making his own patterns to transfer onto pumpkins.

_DSC5517One of his big breakthroughs came when he got a computer. He could now photograph his subjects and make high-contrast images to use as a more detailed pattern. He started with a portrait of his son, Henry. Nowadays, carving his son’s portrait into a pumpkin has become a yearly Halloween tradition.

Trevar’s work has been noticed at the Oklahoma City restaurant where he works. There, he has created carvings for use as table settings and decorations. His wonderful pumpkin arthas even been highlighted on local TV newscasts. Two years ago, he had the opportunity to compete on the Food Network’sHalloween Wars – but their schedule called for two months of shooting in the winter, and with a brand new baby at home, he declined.

As an artist, Trevar has always sought to perfect his craft. He now utilizes a new range of tools, including many traditional sculpting tools, and has adapted others for his own particular use. These tools allow him to create details in his carvings that you will not see in carvings by other artists. He also studies other carvers’ work, notably that of Ray Villafane.

_DSC5503“Ray has more of a sculptural style than mine. My designs are more of a black and white, high-contrast image. Ray’s carvings are a 3-D sculpture of sorts,”Trevar explains.

Trevar’s designs are truly amazing. He puts many hours into his carvings, which begs the question: how long do they last? With a preservative he adds, you can expect his pumpkins to last three to four weeks. Unlike traditional forms of art, pumpkin carvings are fleeting.

“That’s why I always take photographs. They are my ‘preservatives,’ andwill be around for a long time,” he says.

For one of my favorite carvings, Trevar used a watermelon to create an incredibly detailed carving of a brain. Trevar uses watermelons in the off-season, when pumpkins are not readily available. Carvings of company logos and business slogans have adorned table centerpieces at parties hosted by several local companies.Each piece is truly unique and special.

_DSC5525-EditLast year, with drought conditions and a poor growing season, pumpkins were few and far between. So this story about Trevar Peterson has been two years in the making!

With Halloween almost here, Trevar is almost certainly booked for this year, but you can always try a watermelon carving for your next party or event, and there is always next Halloween! Plan well ahead – Trevar only takes a few orders each season, and he needs two to three weeks to ensure that you get your piece of carved art on time. You can reach Trevar at trevar.peterson@mac.com.

Trevar says he has always been comfortable with a pen, and he loves art. His ambition (and passion) is to become an animator with his own animation series. With his love of art and his unique talents, we will surely be watching an animated series by Trevar Peterson in the near future.

KRYSTAL KEITH: Sass, Strength and Song

By Abby Lorenc


On April 16, 26-year-old Krystal Keith, daughter of Moore, Oklahoma’s Toby Keith, released her self-titled EP and began an adventure. After years of waiting, she is finally launching her music career. Her full-length album, coming soon, is titled “Whiskey and Lace,” adeptly depicting the femininity and toughness that make up the singer herself. Krystal laughs easily, thinks clearly, and sings from her heart. We talked with Krystal during her recent radio tour about the excitement of a new career, the long anticipation leading up to 2013, and life as an Oklahoman.


kk_img_2674If Krystal had had her way, she would have gone straight from high school graduation to cutting an album. She has been singing since she could talk, and she knew she wanted to use her voice for more than lullabies. The family laughs over pictures of Krystal throwing a fit when her mother wouldn’t let her on stage to sing with her dad. In early adolescence, Krystal began writing and performing, spending time around her father’s studio sessions and concerts, gaining an understanding of the industry. Country music fans were introduced to Krystal’s talent when she appeared as a teenager with her father on the Country Music Awards, singing “Mockingbird.” People took note. This girl had a voice!


But although she would have gladly launched her music career after high school, her father insisted she attend college … actually, it was more of an ultimatum. If she wanted his help in starting her music career, she would have to have a degree.


“I fought him really hard,” Krystal laughs, “and for the first two years I actually did really poorly in college just to try to prove to him that it wasn’t for me.” Her bluff didn’t work. Since Krystal had always excelled in school, her father saw right through her act. Eventually, she realized that he would not give in, and she committed herself to her college career, choosing to major in business communications. Not only did she succeed at the University of Oklahoma, she is now seriously considering going on to pursue her MBA once her life slows down a bit.


I asked her how college changed her as an artist.


“College gives you a chance to grow as an individual,” Krystal reflects. “You learn about culture, about yourself, and you mature. College gave me the time I needed to grow up, and it gave me the maturity I needed to handle this industry. It was definitely the right call.”


Today’s music industry is inundated with second-generation stars that have been given a helping hand into the limelight of fame, but have not been taught how to handle that fame. The recent scandal and sadness surrounding Miley Cyrus serves as a case in point, and Krystal’s balance and sensibility provide a stark and hopeful contrast.


Not only did she graduate college before starting her career, she recently married her college sweetheart, with whom she owns and manages an energy company. Krystal’s composure is no act. This is an educated, grounded woman with stable relationships, business skills, and a sense of self based not in an act, but in reality.


I asked Krystal how she and her dad were similar and different in approaching their music careers. She notes that they are both stubborn and strong-willed. The conflict about the starting date for her career is just one example. She clearly has a lot of respect for her father and the path he walked to country music fame.


“He had a lot harder road ahead of him when he started doing music. The industry was different then.”


kk_-_sunriseNot wanting to assume that all was easy thanks to having a father in the industry, I asked Krystal if she had encountered any obstacles entering the music industry in her father’s famous shadow.


She responded gratefully, “No. It has been really great for me. Everyone has been really helpful.” She loves the country music industry, and so far she has experienced it as a gracious and welcoming place.


zoom_IMG_2308_3wShe experienced this in particular as she worked with some of country music’s most respected producers and songwriters while putting together the 13 songs that make up her album. Until beginning to work on this album, Krystal had not written collaboratively, and described collaborative writing as “a blast.”


She candidly reflects, “You can tell yourself you’re great all day long, but when you have another writer who will be honest with you, it makes you a better writer.”


Krystal worked with Nathan Chapman, who has worked with the likes of Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Jewel, to write her single “Get Your Redneck On.” The album had been done for three years when Nathan called to work with her.


“When I got the call to work with Nathan, I couldn’t believe it,” Krystal remembered. “He is just brilliant, and working with him was incredible.” The song quickly became a favorite of hers, so much so that she pushed another song off the album to make room for it. She experienced collaborative writing as both inspiration and discipline.


As she put it, “It takes a lot of crappy songs to teach a singer to write a good song. Nobody comes up with a hit on his or her first try.”


For her EP, Krystal and her producers chose songs that are eclectic and representative of the album’s range. “Doin’ It” is upbeat and hopeful, the kind of song that makes you wish you were driving a red truck down a country road. In “What Did You Think I’d Do,” Keith sings of spontaneous young country love and the joys of risk taking. And “Can’t Buy You Money” is an ironic song about a happy family that is making do with little.


Perhaps the song that has gotten the most attention is “Daddy Dance With Me.” Krystal wrote this song as a surprise for her father at her own wedding. She worked with the recording studios to write and produce the song without her father’s knowledge.


“The song is already making its way into father-daughter dances. This is also the only song to have a music video to date. The video, which containsa friend’s actual wedding footage,boasts almost 1.5 million views. The album’s title song, “Whiskey & Lace,” is a prime example of creative collaboration. Krystal worked with Rodney Clawson to write the narrative song that follows the life of a stripper.


She’s quick to qualify, “It’s not raunchy. It’s up-tempo, rockin’, but not too racy.” She chose the song as her album title not because of the story, but because the title reflects her own personality. She is girly but strong, and she’ll take a Jack Daniels over a Daiquiri any day.


Krystal made more than one trip to Nashville in the process of making her album. I asked if she had plans or dreams to move there or anywhere else in the future.


She responded emphatically, “Oklahoma will always be home. With our [her and her husband’s] business, we’ve had out-of-state job opportunities, and I told him I might consider living elsewhere for a while, but we are always coming back home. On our third date, I told him ‘I’m not a girl that leaves Oklahoma. If you’re looking for a girl that will move all over the country with you, I’m not her. My kids will be raised in Oklahoma.’” Krystal’s entire family, with the exception of one uncle, lives within a ten-minute drive.


She adds, “I’m not leaving that village for anything.”


kk_-_organA loyal Oklahoman myself, I asked her why she thought this state was so special.


“We are a proud people,” she responded. We love our state and support it like nobody’s business. Across the state, we are neighbors, and if something happens to any of our neighbors, we come together to help each other. Once you’ve lived here, you understand how great it is.”


When the recent tornadoes hit, Krystal was out of town and could not return for a few days, but she stopped everything and watched the news in shock. Thankfully, her family suffered little loss, but she had friends whose homes were damaged. She said spending that week away from Oklahoma was one of the most difficult things she has ever done. As soon as she came home, she changed clothes and began helping with the cleanup. They loaded a trailer with water, baby wipes, cleaning supplies and food, and pitched in with everyone to help. Later, she performed with father Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Willie Nelson at Toby Keith’s Oklahoma TwisterRelief Concert, which reportedly raised $2 million. As she said, and as every Oklahoman knows, we drop everything to help out a neighbor in need.


When she isn’t touring, Krystal is running the business with her husband, gardening and cooking. She actually launched her food blog, “The Barnyard Bistro,” in June, has already published a private cookbook, and is hoping to publish one in the future. But right now, her music career is at the forefront of her mind, and the project she is hands-down the most thrilled about. With “Get Your Redneck On” hitting the radios this month and “Whiskey & Lace” scheduled to drop later this year, Krystal has every reason to be excited. And we Oklahomans have every reason to be proud of this woman’s talent, strength and sense of place, and to follow this burgeoning artist as she begins her career.


It’s official … we’ve gone to the dogs! First there was Otis (a rescued pit bull), then along came Koco (Yorkie). Brianna (Shih Tzu) shortly followed, and recently we welcomed Kyra, a 90-pound American Bulldog. Despite her size, Kyra is a gentle girl who loves coming to the office. Having had two hip surgeries in her youth, she’s good for about four running steps before flopping to the carpet for a belly rub. Once this wrecking crew starts down the hall for treats, everyone better get out of the way!


We dressed all the dogs in their Halloween costumes so they could be photographed for this issue of Distinctly Oklahoma. Send us pictures of your pets all dressed up for trick-or-treating, and we’ll put them in November’s DOK.