Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Air Travel and Gift Giving

Like everyone else, we've been watching news about the TSA, the body scanners and the "much too personal" physical searches. The whole thing has many people concerned about the health ramifications of the radiation, as well as being personally violated. There is actually a National Opt-Out Day (please note, the images on the site are a bit graphic) scheduled for Wednesday, November 24th, that urges people that are flying that day to make a stand against the whole thing. Hopefully the message will not only be received, but have an impact.

We, like many of our clients, have just opted out of air travel this year, period. We already passed on SEMA in Las Vegas and won't be flying anywhere this winter. Instead, we are shipping gifts across country to family and friends. It can be a bit pricey (cheaper than flying, though) and it's not the same as being there, but we're just not willing to subject ourselves and especially our children to the high doses of radiation or the invasive body searches. And, we can't expect our long distance loved ones to do any different.

One nice thing about saving the airfare, is that it leaves us with a bigger budget for the gifts, themselves. I know it's not how much you spend, but the sentiment that's important, but it feels good to have a bit more budget 'wiggle' room. I'm finding shopping funner this year! It seems I'm always busy, so I do quite a bit of my shopping on-line in the middle of the night. I've noticed that some on-line retailers offer shipping discounts during the holiday season, making it even more appealing.

Michael's automotive art is popular in the gift-giving department. Especially since we do offer Free Shipping anywhere in the World. We can ship your print directly to the recipient. You can be in Florida, wanting to send a gift to your cousin in Australia, and we can do that for you, free of charge. We'll even include a Christmas Card from you, if you like. Just let us know what you want it to say. The Planning for Christmas article in our Studio Newsletter, gives you a guideline for ordering deadlines to make it in time for Christmas. For International deliveries (Australia & Europe), we recommend a 2 week lead time.

This holiday season is definitely going to be different. I've heard that bookings at favorite kid-friendly holiday destinations, like Disney in Florida and California are down. As well as hot spots like Hawaii and other tropical destinations. And let's not forget North American ski resorts like Lake Placid, Aspen, Big White, Whistler and Banff. Maybe what needs to happen is a complete boycott of air-travel ... that would send the message, loud and clear!

Although, I have to admit that the on-line gift shopping is making our approach to the holidays a little less hectic and a bit more relaxed, I would like to see this "security" business resolved. Until it is, I don't see any air-travel in our near future.

Take care. Be safe. — Linda

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Corvette Painting Released

It's finally here —  Michael's long awaited Corvette painting. Entitled, "C1, See Them All" it features over 30 cars, spanning all six generations of America's classic sports car. It will be officially released tomorrow, but it's up on line now. It is the 7th painting in Michael's "Muscle Car Landscapes" Series.

The painting's name, "C1, See Them All," is a play on words. Taking advantage of the aptly named C1 through C6 generations of the Corvette, Michael chose the title to tell the story ... while stopping at a scenic rest stop, one of a group of late model Vette drivers have spotted a C1 in the valley. As he calls his fellow enthusiasts over, he realizes that he not only sees the one car, but has happened upon a find of epic proportions ... when he sees them all!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweet Carrot Cake - Sugar Free

October just plain got away from me! Between Canadian Thanksgiving and the Car Collector Auction in Toronto, and Michael working crazy hours to complete his latest all Corvette painting and a bout of the flu, not to mention Halloween with school aged kids, it just whizzed by!

As things calm down a bit, and before the frenzy of a New Release hits (it's called "C1, See Them All", by the way), I thought I'd take a moment and share another "new" sugar free recipe that I just baked last night. Although I'm the only one who has tasted tested it so far, I'm liking it. My father, who is a diabetic with a huge sweet tooth, will be the ultimate judge. But I think he'll approve, it's just decadent and moist enough for his liking!

Here's a quick photo I took, (it's obvious that Michael's the artist, not me!) in our dining room. Although you can't see it, that's "New to the Chase", Michael's 2001 Bullitt painting, in the background!

Sweet Carrot Cake - Sugar-free

2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups Splenda Grandular
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded carrots (about 2 large carrots)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oi

1 2/3 cup Splenda
8 oz cream cheese (I use Philidelphia Spreadable - in the tub)
4 tblsp margarine
2 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly dust with flour, bottom and sides of a bunt pan (which is what I used) or two 9-inch round pans. In a large bowl combine all Cake ingredients. Mix on medium for about 3 minutes. Pour in to prepared pan(s), bake for 45-60 minutes for the bunt, 35-45 for the 9-inch, or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan(s) and cool completely.

For frosting, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Blend well with a spatula. The frosting may still need a bit of work, I've never made one completely sugar-free before. I recommend playing with the ingredients a bit, maybe adding some extra vanilla. Although mine was pretty good, I'm not sure it's quite sweet enough. Alternately, skip the icing, the cake is so moist, it really doesn't need it. Or make traditional icing and serve it "on the side". Just had another thought: this would be excellent with sugar-free whipped cream - yum!!

I'll let you know if it passes the tough dad test. In the mean time, watch for the release of Michael's Corvette piece ... any day now ...  and for my next "Buying Art" installment.  — Linda