Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Home Elevators Invade Suburban Homes

Residential elevators continue to gain momentum in new home developments across North America. Baby boomers who are considering major renovations or who are looking towards buying their last home are considering home elevators as an important upgrade for the long term.

A good source for home elevator comparisons is available at www.silvercross-elevators.com

Five years ago, home elevators were mainly being considered for large custom homes as a status symbol. Today, builders are looking at residential elevators as the next appliance.

Home elevators are allowing the builder to differentiate themselves from their competitors and to attract home buyers with something unique.

Architects are building into new home designs the possibility of converting closet space on upper and lower floors to match a home elevator shaft size to allow for future installation.

Home elevator manufacturers are consolidating into a group of about 5 key suppliers in North America. Competition is expected to increase as the market size expands.

Some models require a machine room in addition to the shaft to enclose the elevator. Newer models are being designed to avoid the extra space requirements of a machine room by having the lifting device at the top of the shaft.

A vacuum elevator hit the market a few years ago and continues to gain market share in limited space and specialty site applications.

Elevator sales are expected to double in the next few years as the market place becomes more aware of the options and models available.

About The Author
Bob Harvey
Source lower cost alternatives to home accessibilty products.

Keeping Your Pool Clean Really Is A Simple Job!

Pools Are A Lot Easier To Clean Than You Think!

Nearly every pool owner would be thrilled to have their pool cleaned by a professional pool cleaner. We witness this on TV commercials all the time. The problem is that a professional pool cleaning service can become very expensive, especially over the entire pool season. Consequently, you should know how to clean your pool with your own two hands.

The water surface of your pool will collect leaves and other debris. Clean it with a pool type leaf rake that has a net attached to it. It should have a long pole on the rake so you can reach all around the pool to scoop up surface debris.

What is the quickest method to clean your pool? Start by walking along the sides of your pool and collecting pool debris with your net. Do this a few times so that you can pick up leaves and nasty insects. It is a great idea to empty the net if the debris fills it and then return to raking to avoid dumping picked up debris back into the water.

Take the leaf rake into the center of the pool and move the net up and down to clean the center. Pull the rake towards your body and make sure to keep an angle of the head of the rake. This will help you trap and bring in any debris that is hanging out in the middle of the pool.

The water surface is done so the next thing to do is to vacuum the bottom of the pool. Connect the hose to the vacuum and place the unit in the water. Adjust the hose so that it fills with water. You need do this first to avoid the vacuum taking in air during the first few moments of cleaning. This will give your vacuum a longer cleaning life. Vacuum the pool floor until it is shiny and clean to your satisfaction.

Brush the sides of the pool after vacuuming the pool floor. It may seem counterintuitive because some debris will fall to the pool bottom. However, this is much faster then brushing first and waiting for the debris to land on the pool bottom before vacuuming. If you have more time then brush first. It is really up to you. If you do brush first then wait about a half hour after brushing to begin vacuuming.

Place the head of the brush downward and brush along the sides of the pool. Use a downward brushing method and keep the brush straight all the way until you touch the pool bottom. Bring the brush back up to the surface with care. Repeat this method for each pool wall.

Presto. You now have a clean pool. That wasn't so bad. Was it? The best thing is to clean periodically to avoid massive debris build up. Follow the steps listed above and you will be well on your way to a pristine clean pool that will have your neighbors green with envy.

About The Author
Krishna Wurz is the chief writer at Rio Pools, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too. For more quality articles on Pools why not visit: http://www.riopools.com/articles

Monday, November 28, 2005

Designer Sinks And Faucets For Your Bath

Sinks have certainly come a long way. The sink, and the accompanying faucet are more fashionable today than our grandmothers, or even our mothers could have imagined! You are only limited by your imagination.

Imagine a gorgeous glass sink seemingly floating upon a rod iron filigree base, this is what is called a vessel sink. Imagine washing your hands over a glass sink of shimmering gold opalescent that looks like something from Dale Chihuly's glass studio. How about a lovely ceramic sink that has decorations reminiscent of a blue Ming vase? Is that really the Mona Lisa looking back up at your from that sink? These sinks are available in glass, painted ceramic, stone and granite, wood, copper, or mosaic. Then, there is the decision of shape of the sink, round, oval or square, or perhaps somewhere in between.

Don't worry, if you have a Victorian home you are restoring you are in luck. The good old white ceramic pedestal sink is still alive and well, if you want one.

Needless to say, along with the modernization and beautification of sinks has come the modernization and beautification of faucets! There are still the traditional two handle faucets, single control faucets and wall mount faucets. Again, only your imagination holds you back in the creation of your new bathroom. Faucets can now be mounted on the floor behind, or beside a vessel sink instead of taking room on a vanity. Faucets for vessel sinks are found in a wide range of finish and style. Polished chrome or brushed nickel, brass, copper and pewter are just some of the finishes available. You will want to look for a faucet with a PVD finish. This "physical vapor deposition" finish is state of the art and bonds the finish to the faucet. It is the most durable finish available in faucets today. PVD protected faucets will not corrode, tarnish or discolor.

About The Author
Jeff Slokum
This article courtesy of http://www.about-faucets.com

Choosing Your New Chandelier

Choosing the right chandelier for your foyer or dining room should be an organized process. You want to make sure it is a reflection of your attitudes and tastes. A chandelier adds style to a room, but is generally a poor light source. Keeping this in mind, here's how to shop for a chandelier that works for your home.

Choose a chandelier that can hang at the right height when a table is centered beneath it. Consider both the chandelier and the room you're lighting: if the chandelier has bare bulbs it will need to be hung high enough to avoid glare. Remember that a chandelier is more of a room decoration than a functional light fixture. It doesn't need a large quantity of flame bulbs just because the room is big; let other lighting in the room appropriately supplement a more restrained chandelier. Avoid glare problems by buying a chandelier equipped with tiny shades (mini-shades) or adding tiny shades to bare candle-type lighting. You can also reduce glare by putting the fixture on a dimmer and then supplementing the room lighting with sconces, table lamps or recessed lighting.

If you want your chandelier to match the room closely, install up-to-the-minute mini-shades - they're easy and relatively inexpensive to replace. Choose a chandelier that meshes with the mood and style of the other furnishings in the room: wall sconces, furniture, wallpaper, window treatments and other accessories. Try to keep metals in the room in finishes that harmonize.

Pay attention to scale. Bigger is usually better; too often a chandelier can look tiny. Remember that a chandelier is a dust magnet. Examine potential purchases for ease of cleaning and keep in mind that simpler designs are usually easier to clean. Determine whether a potential purchase uses specialty bulbs or standard bulbs. Specialty bulbs can be hard to find and/or expensive.

Proper attention to these details can make the difference between a chandelier you will love to look at in your home for years, or an eyesore that you prefer to avoid.

About The Author
Dave Michaels
Article by Dave Michaels of http://www.chandeliertips.com.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kitchen Design Trends: What's Hot for Your Kitchen?

So, you have just made the decision to remodel the kitchen! No decision about your home environment is more important because of the key activities that take place in the kitchen. Now is the time to do a little personal research and find out what your options are.

Exploring Space in Your Kitchen

The larger the space, the easier it is to outfit your kitchen for a modern multi-tasking family. But, not all kitchens are large enough to blend task areas. A qualified and experienced kitchen planning specialist may be able to help you "find" additional square footage you didn't realize you have by removing a wall, opening a closet or raising the ceiling.

Add critical space to your kitchen by carefully planning your cabinets to include features that store the kinds of items you have. Many and varied special cabinets or cabinet inserts are available for every imaginable storage need.

Universal Kitchen Design

The emphasis on ease-of-use in public buildings prompted by the Americans with Disabilities Act is prompting a growing trend in the housing market, too. Whether you have a disabled person in your family or not, everyone can benefit by keeping Universal Design principles in mind when planning a new kitchen. Innovations like those in KraftMaid's Passport Cabinetry make it simple to be sure all functions in the kitchen can be easily performed by any family member regardless of stature or physical capabilities.

Five Tips for Universal Design in Your Kitchen

1. Universal Design means planning the spaces that everyone finds easy to use

2. One of the most basic principles of kitchen design is offering a variety of work top heights

3. Beauty does not need to be sacrificed for functionality. Both are important and can work together to create an ambient environment

4. Place kitchen appliances where they can be easily reached and allow use by a seated person

5. Be sure kitchen cabinet doors and pull-outs increase access rather than impede it, if there is a wheelchair user in your family

For more kitchen design articles and kitchen planning tips, visit http://www.SuperKitchens.com

About The Author
SuperKitchens.com offers practical, time-tested kitchen remodeling ideas that guide you in kitchen design. Before you remodel your kitchen, visit http://www.SuperKitchens.com for kitchen design tips and ideas.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Each and every year, destructive fires are started due to unsafe or improper use. Fires can be prevented, so long as certain safety precautions are taken. By following these tips, you can keep your family and your home safe from the dangers of fire.

Always be sure that the area near your fireplace is free from debris and clutter. A fireplace can be a warm and inviting place to be, but it can also pose serious danger. Make every effort to keep newspaper, kindling, and firewood away from burning embers. Always use a fireplace screen to prevent those burning embers from leaping out of the fireplace.

You should also inspect your chimney on an annual basis. Over the summer months, a bird may have decided to nest in your chimney. That nest could prevent the smoke from exiting your home. The nest could possibly catch fire, or it might cause your home to fill with smoke. Either way, it is not an ideal situation. Creosote is a flammable material that will build up in your chimney over time, so you will also need to have it cleaned every year or so.

Another thing to be mindful of is the amount of wood you are burning at any given time. A fire can grow out of control quite easily and the more wood you use, the more heat and flames will be produced. Do not overload your fireplace. Be extra careful not to burn anything other than wood are a manufactured fire log. Newspapers or garbage are very dangerous when burned in a fireplace. Think smart.

Just in case, always keep a fire extinguisher close at hand. A fire can get out of control very fast, and you may not have time to go looking for a fire extinguisher when you need one most. Also, ensure that your home is equipped with smoke alarms. If your smoke alarms are powered by batteries, be sure to change them every few months. Ideally, they should be hard-wired into the electrical system of your home.

Never, under any circumstances, leave your fire unattended. Always keep your children away from the fire, and explain to them the danger that it poses. You can even visit your local fire hall to obtain a video on fire safety that is geared towards children. Make sure that you do not go to bed unless the fire has burned out. By following these simple tips, you and your family can get cozy in front of the fireplace for years to come.

About The Author
Kim Filler loves to sit in her favorite chair watching the flames dance in her fireplace. When she is not trying to build the perfect fire, she writes freelance articles for fireplacesandwoodstoves.com - a website of interest to those with fireplaces and woodstoves featuring information on Wood Pellet stoves (www.fireplacesandwoodstoves.com/pellet-stoves.aspx), wood stove installation (www.fireplacesandwoodstoves.com/wood-stove-installation.aspx), Majestic Fireplaces (www.fireplacesandwoodstoves.com/cfm-specialty-home-products.aspx) and more.

Friday, November 25, 2005

How To Design A Little Girl's Fairytale Bedroom

Every little girl dreams of having a fairytale bedroom, even the ones that can act like a real tom-boy! =)

Use your daughter's childhood years to create memories that will stay with her for a lifetime. It's really not as difficult as it sounds!

All it takes is some creativity and a little bit of shopping. It doesn't even have to cost a lot to transform a ho-hum bedroom into a little girl's dream land fantasy world. This is the time to let out your own little inner kid and have some fun!

The fairytale concept covers alot of themes, from castles, princesses, knights and dragons, to fairies with lots of glitter and lace (of course), so the first step is to figure out what your little girl would really enjoy. That's an easy one to figure out...just ask!

Let's look at some designs that might be perfect for a young lady's dream bedroom.

ZZ Designs is a pretty popular bedding designer that you may have heard of- they offer several selections you may want to consider.

The first is their Fairy Princess Bedding set which includes a quilt featuring a castle motif with a creative hem that reflects the shapes of the towers of the castle. Placed over a white bed skirt with white frilly or billowing drapes, this choice of 100% cotton can begin your dream bedroom design.

The color scheme of the bedding includes white, pink, lavender, and purple. You can even add a canopy for her bed with 10 yards of shimmery fabric to really finish off look. Just put a nice stable hook in the ceiling at the center of her bed and then let the fabric halves hang and billow from the center down, and attach toward all the corners of the bed. There are other more detailed instructions for creating your own canopy type effects, just type it in to your browser! Pretty nifty!

Another ZZ Designs selection you'll want to check out is called A Little Sugar and Spice. Shades of pink vary from very light to a more dark pink. The 100% cotton quilt features bows, hearts, butterflies and flowers. Each pillow sham features three beautiful hearts. This set is available up to queen size.

California Kids Company offers a quilt that could become the decorating center piece of the perfect little girl's fairytale bedroom.

The hand-made 100% cotton quilt features appliqués of a castle, carriage, slipper and other princess designs. This line provides lots of choices because the same design is available as a duvet cover, and both the quilt and duvet cover are available up to queen size. Matching print sheets, pillow shams and bed skirt, dust ruffle, window dressing, bed canopy for camelback or regular canopies and a whole collection of other accessories give you lots to mix and match to best fit your space.

No matter what bedding you choose, you'll definitely want to add something like the Princess Castle lamp by CK Designs. A pink castle with blue accents holds a pink shade on the tallest tower top. The lamp is operated by a pull chain which features a glow in the dark quarter moon to make the lamp easy to find in the dark.

This is a thoughtful choice for any little girl's fantasy bedroom. It's often difficult to teach children to sleep alone in the dark but the comforting presence of the shining moon can be used to comfort her that SHE is in control and can get to the light easily if she wakes up frightened or has a bad dream.

A beautiful touch for a bedroom with few windows but a lot of wall space is That's My Room's Castle Window Mural. It creates the feel of a stone arch window facing toward another beautiful castle in the distance. This can add an airy touch to a bedroom that has no attractive outdoor scenery to open the windows toward.

You could hang a billow length of satiny cloth around the mural so it looks like real drapes- and you'll have a very realistic looking window added to your child's castle!

How about adding some neat little finishing touches like a glittery wand, some sparkly little shoes that you could customize with glitter and lace. You could buy a few little castle figurines and place them just so for the perfect daydreams!

Decorating for your little princess can be fun. If you never had the dream bedroom you always wanted, you know how much a perfect bedroom can mean. So fulfill your little girl's dreams while you can!

All too soon she will grow up and move into her very own castle.

Patricia Bowlin makes it easy to create a bedroom with flair! Find countless Free tips, ideas and information here on choosing all of your bedding by visiting now http://www.best-in-bedding.com

About The Author
Patricia Bowlin is an entrepenuer, writer and researcher who loves to share her tips, sense of humor, advice and ideas on creating the perfect bedroom sanctuary. Get hundreds of Free useful tips, advice and ideas now by visiting http://www.best-in-bedding.com

Doormats For Your Home

When you want a quick and inexpensive new look in your home consider a change of rugs! Doormats and accent rugs can be an easy way to spice up your home and are a fun way to welcome in the change of seasons.

There are thousands of different types of doormats and accent rugs available for your home. Some can be personalized with your name or your street number. Some have pictures of seasonal characters such as pumpkins and witch's and snowmen and Santa Claus. Others show wildlife such as cardinals and bluebirds and some show flowers like sunflowers or fall leaves.

Some indoor doormats and accent rugs look like expensive oriental rugs, but are safe indoors or out. Made with polypropylene or olefin these are all weather outdoor rugs that can withstand blistering sun, rain and snow. They won't fade or mildew. They wash easily with a squirt from the hose.

Some manufacturers are making decorative doormats and accent rugs with coco. Coco is great at trapping dirt at the front door. Coco is an extremely durable fiber which won't pill. Coco is quick drying and mildew resistant.

There are some very decorative doormats that are silk screened and printed with durable inks. These doormats will withstand heavy traffic and have UV protection.

If you have a very sunny entryway to your home you may want to consider a plain mat, unless you don't mind replacing that faded one a new one every few months. What you can do is consider one of the newer doormats made of rubber or one made of aluminum.

Doormats made of rubber are gaining in popularity. These doormats are non slip and resist mold and mildew and fading and clean very easily with a hose. They come in many intricate designs and different shapes.

A very classy way to say "welcome" to your guests is to have an elegant aluminum doormat. These can also be personalized and are offered in protective powder coatings of black silver, copper, bronze and pewter finishes. These are very heavy mats that will not move under foot. Mats made of cast aluminum will withstand many, many years of outdoor use.

About The Author
Tim Henry
This article courtesy of http://www.about-doormats.com.

How To Choose A Dishwasher

Basically dishwashers all perform the same function, they wash dishes. Some do it more expensively and with more bells and whistles than others do. A basic dishwasher will cost less than $300.00. If you're into higher quality appliances for you home you can spend $600.00 or more.

A basic dishwasher will come without any frills. A basic dishwasher will tend to be louder than the more expensive models and have plastic tubs. Your dishes will get a good wash with a basic dishwasher.

A mid-priced dishwasher will give you a few more frills. These dishwashers are more stylish in design than cheaper ones. They'll run quieter and have more flexibility in loading. In the lower end you'll still find plastic tubs.

A high end dishwasher will sometimes have the electronic touch panel hidden which keeps the dishwasher looking sleek. It will have removable top racks and generally will have stainless steel tubs. The wash your dishes will receive from a high end dishwasher will be excellent. Newer models allow you to load a month's worth of dishwasher detergent at one time.

Most dishwashers have at least three wash cycles, light, normal and heavy. This is generally more than enough for most consumers. With higher end dishwashers you'll have a larger selection of wash cycles available. Some include pot scrubber, soak/scrub and china/crystal. Some allow for drying with or without heat.

Some dishwashers are now self-cleaning. Any food that is lifted from dishes is washed into a filter to keep it from being re deposited on dishes. Rinse options can include a sanitizing wash. This does not have any affect on cleaning of the dishes. It raises the water temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

There are several things you'll want to consider before you make your dishwasher purchase. One, is the money you'll want to spend. As discussed above, a lower end dishwasher will run around $300.00 and a higher end $600.00 or more.

Will your dishwasher be going under your cabinets? That's where most are placed today. Perhaps you'll need a compact model which will fit into a smaller kitchen, or even a portable unit that can be rolled over to the sink and connected to the faucet.

What is the cost to use the dishwasher? Check the manufacturers specifications. Water usage can run between three and a half gallons up to twelve gallons a load depending on the manufacturer. An energy efficient dishwasher will save you a lot of money during it's years of service.

Also, depending on the type and amount of dishes you routinely wash you may need a more flexible dishwasher. If you are washing platters, large bowls and pans on a daily basis you will want to make sure your dishwasher has flexible loading ability.

The most common dishwasher found in most homes is a built-in that sits under a countertop, near the sink. ...

About The Author
Mark Freeman
This article courtesy of http://www.about-dishwashers.com

Monday, November 21, 2005

10 Things You Must Know When Renovating

There are many sad cases of home renovations not going as planned - often going way over budget or schedule, or unforseen complications popping up unexpectedly and ruining even up to years of work.

Most of these situations would never have gone so awry with some careful planning and early decision making sooner in the renovation process. Below are a few issues that it is vital to think about before you begin your home renovation.

10 Things to Think About BEFORE Beginning Work

Prepare a budget
Be aware of council regulations
Find a tradesperson
Know your start and completion dates
Selecting Products
Prepare plans
Purchasing products
What should I purchase myself?
What services are available to my property?
What sort of hot water unit do I need?

Prepare a budget

Before you start shopping for your new bathroom or kitchen you must know your spending limits. Whether you are getting a loan or paying cash, you need to work out how much your project is going to cost. Some businesses also offer finance solutions for approved customers.

Be aware of council regulations

Find out all the information you can before you arrange tradesperson. If your home is heritage listed you will need to meet strict council regulations. Many renovations must be approved by the council before work can commence. Contact your local council for more details.

Finding a tradesperson

Speak with family and friends who have done renovations or built a home. It is important to find a tradesperson that you can communicate with. Make sure you understand everything they are telling you. Book a tradesperson well ahead of time, as they can be booked for months in advance. Ensure that your tradesperson is licensed. Your product warranties are only valid if installed by a licensed tradesperson. In Australia, Trades@call provide professional, reliable tradespeople for most jobs, and all workmanship is guaranteed.

Know your start and completion dates

Communicate with your tradesperson and come to an agreement of realistic start and completion dates for your project. If you have a specific date that the job must be finished by, for example you have relatives coming to stay, let your tradesperson know. Keep in mind that unexpected problems can hold up your project, no matter how well you have planned it.

Selecting Products

It may take a few shopping trips for you to decide on the products that give you the look you desire and are also practical for your needs. Browse through a print or online catalogue. Once you have decided on a style (modern, heritage or easy living) this will narrow down your product choices. Be aware of any size restrictions of the room. Print out or write down product specifications and measure up your bathroom. You may use the online bathroom planner at the Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centre website to layout the products you have chosen.

Talk to your tradesperson about your choices. If the tradesperson tells you that a product you have chosen is unsuitable, find out why. It may just be that extra work is required that they don't want to do. Remember, it is your home and you need to be satisfied once the job is complete.

Prepare plans

It is important that you draw up plans of your bathroom or kitchen. Discuss the plans with your tradesperson. Let him know what sort of products you would like, so he will know what work needs to be done. For example if you have chosen an inwall cistern, the tradesperson will need to know so he can set up the plumbing correctly before the tiling is done. It is best to have specifications of all of the products you have chosen so the tradesperson knows exactly what work is required.

Purchasing products

When selecting products, find out how long it will take for delivery. Some goods such as tapware and toilets will be in stock, while others such as spas and vanity units are custom made and can take up to 1 month to order in. Often these custom made products are non-refundable so confirm your product choices with your tradesperson before ordering. Find out from your tradesperson which products they will required first. Generally, the first products needed are the shower base, bath or spa and mixers if they are being installed on the wall.

As an owner builder, what should I purchase myself?

If you are owner building, make sure you purchase all of the main products for your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. This will ensure that you make all of the decisions and achieve the result you want. There will be things you will not think about when placing an order, such as different handle types on a vanity unit, the pump position of your spa, that you will need to decide on. It is important to make these decisions yourself as they will affect the overall result of your project. Smaller fittings for plumbing can be purchased by your tradesperson.

What services are available to my property?

It is important to know whether you need gas or electric appliances (hot water unit, cooking appliances). If you live further out from the city, you may need LPG appliances. If you currently have electric appliances and you want to change to gas, speak with your tradesperson to determine if this is going to be cost effective and worthwhile in the long run. If you are building a new home, decide on the appliances you want before building begins, as the plumbing will need to be roughed in based on your product selection.

What sort of Hot Water Unit do I need?

There is a wide range of hot water units available and it can be quite daunting to try and choose one. If you are replacing an existing unit your choices can be limited, so speak with your tradesperson. The instantaneous hot water units are popular at the moment, but they use a larger gas line than the standard storage units. This can mean major plumbing changes which can be quite costly, though in the long run the instantaneous systems are cost efficient. See the Bourne Hot Water Selection Guide for more detail.

Many of these points seem somewhat obvious, but the problem arises when you start taking things for granted. When you don't make sure that all your bases are covered, you may find that you have invested a lot of time, effort and money in a home renovation that you may end up unhappy with.

About The Author
Richard Bourne is owner and manager of Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centres. Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centres (www.bournebathrooms.com.au) offer the largest range of bathroom, kitchen and plumbing supplies in Melbourne. Bourne's exhaustive selection of home renovation supplies and great after sales service have helped thousands of people to buy "beautiful products at beautiful prices" since 1992.
Bourne Bathroom and Kitchen Centres

9 Ways To Inexpensively Decorate Your Bathroom

The bathroom has evolved over the past decades from a strictly useful and functional room to one that is similar to a spa. And just because there aren't thousands of dollars available for decorating doesn't mean that a bath can't be unique, dramatic and thoroughly satisfying. Here are nine frugal ways to spice up any bathroom.

1. Collections of inexpensive mirrors add both light and space to any bathroom. They reflect colors, faces and other decorations and add character and interest . Mirrors are much more effective when grouped together rather than being a scattered mass simply hanging on a wall.

2. Pictures or prints can be massed on a wall. For maximum impact hang them closely together rather than separated. Pictures can be striking if they have a 'theme', such as:

* Black and white photos - no color

* Older shots - from the 1930s or 1940s, for instance

* The frames are all an identical color

* The frames or photos have a uniqueness in common - oval shapes, women only, pets

This decorating tactic works best in a powder room, rather than a full bathroom, because of the high moisture.

3. Needlework makes a striking wall accent. For instance, sampler patterns from Colonial America are easily available and a few samplers grouped on a wall create a totally unique bathroom.

4. For color and charm, throw a rug on the floor. In a dull or drab bathroom, a rag rug or oriental carpet will add charm and beauty. Just be certain to use a non-skid pad underneath, especially if anyone will be stepping out of a tub or shower.

5. Collections can spark interest and admiration. Pottery is an unusual accent piece for any bathroom. Or you might consider old bottles, perfume atomizers, shaving mugs or other flea market collectibles. One especially exciting bathroom included replicas of old bottles with genuine antique stoppers made of silver and fashioned into old-time designs.

In a bathroom, be certain there is ample space for your collectibles, like a wide shelf with a lip or a generous window sill. Broken pottery or glass isn't helpful in any room - but it's especially destructive in a bathroom.

6. Color is, of course, the quickest, cheapest and easiest way alter any bathroom. Unusual colors on a bathroom wall, like melon, chocolate brown or peach, will add drama. Accents like brightly colored towels in a monochromatic bathroom will provide an outstanding accent.

7. Architectural details can spark interest. A piece of beaded or crown molding halfway up the wall or near the ceiling can transform a room, especially if it's painted a funky color. A more elaborate addition would be grooved paneling over half the wall. Even a shelf or picture rail adds interest.

8. Add living color with plants or freshly cut flowers. The energy of plants is soothing and creates a zen-like atmosphere that is very conducive to relaxation and letting go of stress.

9. A piece of furniture, space permitting, can add unusual detail to any bathroom. Furniture need not be expensive. Most Goodwill or Salvation Army stores will have a battered piece of furniture that can be revived with sanding, paint and some unusual and classy handles or knobs.

All nine of these ideas won't fit every bathroom, nor should they. Simply choose one or two, as your budget permits, and begin slowly adding details. And don't forget the 'before and after' pictures!

About The Author
Samantha Birch
Read dozens of articles & constant new information on home decorating, furniture, unique home decor, home interiors & gifts, including a home blog, books on decorating and weekly specials.

How to Buy The Right Aquarium

Buying Your First Aquarium, What To Look For

If you are interested in buying an aquarium and keeping several varieties of fish as pets, there are several things you should know before you start looking. Some factors to keep in mind are type of fish, number of fish, and what type of decor would you like. Buying an aquarium can end up costing a great deal of money but if you shop smart you can get a nice aquarium for a good price.

If you haven't owned an aquarium before, you might think it would be best to start off small. In truth you are establishing an ecosystem, so buying a small tank and only a few fish, is actually harder than going a bit bigger. In order for your aquarium to survive, you need the correct pH balance and also some live plants. Think in terms of twenty gallons as a starting size. This will give your fish room to swim and not feel trapped in a tiny space. It will give you more to look at and enjoy as well.

Don't purchase too many fish in the beginning. Four or five is a good number. You'll be able to add more later on if you want to. Another consideration is deciding if you want fresh water fish or salt water fish. You can't have both in the same aquarium. Most of the tropicals live in salt water.

Before you randomly choose some fish, do some Internet research or talk to the pet store employees. Some fish species don't interact well and may actually eat one another for lunch.

Now that you know the tank and the fish you want, it's time to think about decorations. There are a lot of choices at the pet store, and the right ones depend only on what you like. That doesn't mean however, that you can just put anything in the water. Gravel especially must come from a pet store, since it won't have an adverse affect on your aquarium system, like beach gravel would. You don't want to upset the balance you've worked so hard to establish.

After having your fish and decided upon the aquarium you would like, next you will have to bring in the water. The chlorine in the normal tap water is harmful for the plants and the fish. This is the most important factor. You will have to treat the tap water to remove the chlorine content. Use a chlorine remover before adding the water to the aquarium.

Maintaining the correct water temperature is another important consideration for your aquarium. It needs to be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to purchase a thermometer. If the temperature isn't just right, your fish could die.

The next thing to be considered is the food for the fish. Most fish are not fussy about the food they are given, fish flakes and pellets are both fine with the fish. Recommendation for any special food can be ascertained from the pet store.

Some people are of the opinion that just placing a few gold fish in a bowl and hoping that the fish will be fine. However it takes much more effort. Starting an aquarium and then maintaining it can be very enjoyable and satisfying.

About The Author
Kathy Strander runs a very interesting website at Rock Aquarium, visit there today for the latest Aquarium advice, and while you're there sign up for the free newsletter. Read many more interesting articles on Aquarium at: http://www.rockaquarium.com/articles

Your Rose Garden Planting

Sometime during the year you will probably plant roses in your rose garden. There are many opinions on how to do this but I will tell you what has worked for me.

First let me distinguish planting rose into the rose garden that are dormant plants compared with those grown in pots or containers.

Roses which are dormant and bare roots grow well but usually don't bloom as long as those in the containers or pots. The latter are usually growing and not dormant.

If you are buying dormant plants make sure that you are getting #1 grade. These will give you a much better crop during the summer to your rose garden.

Preparing The Soil

Pick an area that will get at least 5-6 hours of sunlight a day. Sun is a very important part of the growth cycle of your rose garden.

The soil should be a good loam and can be mixed with some clay. The loam should be down to a depth of at least 12-15 inches. Dig the soil out for the plant so that it will fit the plant with no damage to the roots and that the first bud spike will set about an inch below the surface.

I would also suggest that at the bottom of the hole you use a fork to loosen the dirt.

Now The Planting

Before setting the plant into the hole in the rose garden, I suggest that you mix some farm manure into the loosened dirt at the bottom. Trim any damaged roots and then set it into the hole.

Now that the rose is set into the hole be sure that the loam you put put around the plant is loose as well. Fill the hole to about 2/3 - 3/4 and tap it down. Water the plant and the dirt. Let the water settle then add the rest of the loam.

Be sure that the first bud spike is at least one inch below the surface.

For dormant plants mound the soil over the plant so it will not dry out. For plants that were in pots or containers there is no need to mound the soil in the rose garden.

It is fine to have a few inches of mulch around the plant base as this contains the moisture.


Roses should be watered about every 7 - 10 days and you need to water the base of the plant. If you water the flower it is easier for the plant to have disease infect it.

Although this presents as a diversion from orchids it is definitely in line with our additional items we have added.

Planting Season

Planting can take place between mid October and mid May. You should not plant or transplant after mid May until October. Good growing in your rose garden.

About The Author
Bob Roy
Sign up for tips in our monthly Orchid Newsletter and get your copy of "All About Orchids" e-book and your 10% Discount on an orchid. http://www.orchids-plus-more.com/orchidaeae.html

The Many Dimensions of the World of Candles

Candles have been around for many, many years, but it was not too long ago that candles were just a means of getting some light in a room when the power went out, and they were a necessity for such emergencies. Nowadays, the role of candles has changed. Some are beautiful works of art which it seems a shame to light, others are a custom scented candle lit and used for relaxation purposes, with their perfume permeating the air. Candles are used for decorating rooms, too. The choice is yours, and you have a wide array of colours and shapes to choose from.

Nothing says relaxation and romance like a candle lit room. It seems to make the rest of the world disappear from sight, so you see only that which is in the candle's light. This is a good way to forget the worries of the day, and is an inexpensive way of doing so too. Give it a try one evening when you feel stressed and feel the tension disappear in a puff of smoke as you light your candles.

Candles are available for purchase in a variety of places, from basic emergency candles in the local hardware stores, to wide selections in the local dollar store, to beautiful artistic creations in home decor stores. There are candles for every occasion too, for Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc., and for people with a variety of interests. Some candles have flowers in them as decoration, others are decorated with shells, or imitation fish or ... there is a lot of choice out there.

Along with the huge variety of candles, and the ability to make your own custom scented candle, comes an equally large variety of candle holders. To make the burning of candles as safe as possible, they need to be in a safe holder, or on a plate or in a tin, but even so, there are candle holders that appeal to all sorts of different tastes. There are wall candle holders as well as candelabras, and numerous glass containers of various shapes and colours that, provided the candles are inserted properly and the glass placed on a flat surface, will be safe for you to burn.

Another advantage of candles, is that you can easily make them yourself, decorating them, colouring them, and adding essential oils to make a custom scented candle to help set a certain mood. Candle making is a good project for a family and a way of making inexpensive gifts at any time of the year and for any occasion. You can also make candle gift baskets with the theme, or colour scheme of your choice.

You can vary your candles too by using soy instead of paraffin wax, or bees wax for more environmentally friendly candles, or you can use gel for candles. This is available in many different colours and shades, and is very effective. Of course you can use different shaped containers for the wax, tins or jars and you can decorate them as you see fit. Or you can make floating candles, using a wide base for the candle to help it float.

The choices for candles are many, but there are advantages to a custom scented candle. You can make it the shape and colour of your choice, and with the scent of your choice, or you an use essential oils to turn it into an aromatherapy candle. Make your choice and enjoy!

About The Author
Alwyn Jackson takes pride in being a complete non-techie who, despite the challenges of life with her particular husband and daughters, enjoys creating websites intended to inform, entertain, and help, others. Her website http://www.candles-alight.com is a compilation of the many aspects of candles and candle making, combining the expertise of others with personal insights.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Leather Sofas Choosing Tips

Leather sofas and leather sofa sets come in a diversity of colors and styles. A leather sofa is the ideal way to improve a room's decor and they are also simple to keep clean. But furniture upholstered in leather can be one of the most luxurious furniture out there.

Today leather furnishings are existing in an amazing number of styles and price points. Certainly, the price matters. And maybe an all leather sofa priced at $700 still sounds too costly to you. But thats about what you can suppose to pay to get a leather sofa on a fairly good built frame. The value of that deal will become apparent over time.

You can get the look and feel of leather for a smaller amount of money by purchasing a sofa that is leather everywhere your body touches and matching man-made material on the sides and back. Be sure to ask your vendor for specifics on construction, leather grade and compare details at diverse price levels. A good leather furnishings investment nowadays can become tomorrows heirloom.

Choosing the true leather, means taking into consideration the flexibility and feel that works for the surroundings of your home. So I’ll try to give you as much information as possible to make sure that the living room with leather sofa you choose isn’t just the best looking, but its also the best suitable leather for you.

Some details about leather and leather sofas in particlular:

- Leather has a versatile quality and blends with any furnishing mode whether traditional or contemporary.

- Leather is a natural skin, and just like human skin, it is flexible enough to stretch and return to its original shape.

- Leather breathes. It is cool in the summer and retains warmth in the winter months.

- Leather seats never feel sticky the way synthetic materials do. The pleasures of leather are for every day and for everyone.

- Leather is not a special occasion covering. It can stand up to the rigors of everyday life and most types clean easily and are very serviceable.

- Leather is fire resistant and emits no toxic fumes, even when exposed to extreme heat.

- Leather resists tearing and cracking.

- Leather wont stretch out of shape.

- Leather is prestigious and gains richness and appeal over the years.

Corrected Leather: Corrected leather has been sanded to have the blemishes removed and then embossed to give it a uniform look. It also has had protective coatings applied to make it more soil resistant and have better color consistency.

Uncorrected Leather: With uncorrected leather, the best hides are selected which are more supple to the touch and will develop a beautiful patina over time. another characteristic is the romance and story that this leather tells; the natural scars, bug bites, neck wrinkles, brands and the slight difference in the shading of color on the hides will create a unique look to your furniture. This leather is not as soil resistant as corrected leather.

About The Author
Yuri Nikitin
Decorating and furniture has not always been my occupation, but it has been my passion for a very long time. I practically inhale decorating books and magazines. So, I here provide you with some of my thoughts and knowledge. Yuri Nikitin - http://www.sectional-sofas.net/.

Captivating Varieties of Glasses

Instead of sticking to the traditional norms, glass for many years has been used in various avatars to decorate buildings. Glass can be used in a beautiful way to improve the look of the buildings especially windows and entry halls.

One of the most popular types of glass is leaded glass. The term "leaded glass" is used because the window panels are composed of glass that is bound together using lead pieces, or strips. These lead strips are called "cames" and they are used because the lead is easy to work with and flexible enough to be bent around all shapes of glass. This makes it particularly desirable because when the leaded glass is finished it can be used in all sorts of locations, such as houses and churches.

Lead glasses can be manufactured with patterns and textures which make it look more sophisticated and advanced. The strength or performance of the glass is not disturbed when texturing a leaded glass. Texturing adds an attractive and artistic look to the glass. If you are looking for a different and artistic glass for your windows then you can easily find it in leaded glasses.

Another type of glass that is commonly used to decorate the house is the stained glass. People specially use stained glass to decorate their front entry halls since it gets regular attention especially from guests. Stained glasses have been used for centuries to decorate homes. Many building around the world speak volumes of the decorative usefulness of the stained glasses.

Basically, stained glass is leaded glass with color and patterns added. Artists add pigmentation to the glass while they are making it. They can also add the colors once the cut pieces of plain glass have been put together. They do this by painting the color onto the glass. The paint is made from powdered glass and color pigments. Once all the painting is completed, the glass is put into a kiln where the heat will melt the pigments and fuse them into the glass.

Through a process of etching, glasses are usually marked to create beautiful patterns on them. This enhances the look of the glass. Various chemicals and abrasives are used to make these marking or etchings on clear glass. You can create any design or pattern through etching a glass. Etching is used to make glasses that can be used in doors and windows that get a lot of attention. It is also used by many people to decorate the entry hall or drawing room of their house.

"Dalle de Verre" is another variety of glass which is also known as the faceted type of glass. The "faceted" look on the glasses is created by taking thicker pieces of glass and chipping their edges. Large buildings are ideal place for such type of faceted glasses for its effect to be properly reflected.

No matter what type of glass is chosen for new homes and buildings the goal is always the same: to combine the functionality of glass with the creativeness of home decorating. Choosing glass for any home can be a fun experience and the net result is a room with unique window treatments.

About The Author
Jonathon Midel runs a very interesting website at Rod's Glass, there's a wealth of knowledge on the website, plus their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too. If you want to read more Glass articles go to: http://www.rodglass.com/articles

5 Tips on Enjoying Your Day Spa Visit

There's just something about walking into a day spa, isn't there? It's a haven from your hectic every day life, an oasis that lets you do something just for you. That massage or body treatment feels like a guilty indulgence, even though it's probably necessary for your sanity!

Whether you're visiting a day spa for the first time or the fiftieth, these tips will help you get the most out of your massage, body wrap, aromatherapy, etc.

1. Remember when Mom told you not to swim for an hour after eating? Well, the same holds true for spa visits. Don't eat for at least an hour before a massage or body treatment.

2. Arrive 30 minutes early. If you're worried about being late, tapping your foot waiting for the elevator and rushing to the receptionist desk, you won't get nearly as much out of your visit.

3. RELAX! I know, that's how you're supposed to feel after you're done. If you can take a few deep breaths before your treatment (in the waiting room, since you're early, right?), your experience will be that much more rewarding.
4. Drink LOTS of water before and after. Water enhances the detoxifying and rehydrating benefits.

5. Talk to your therapists - they don't bite! If anything feels off, let them know: too hot/cold, too much pressure/too little pressure, music's too loud - anything. They want you to have the best experience possible so you'll come back for more.

About The Author
Theresa Carter is the creator and publisher of TheLocalTourist.com, a free online guide to downtown Chicago. Find restaurants, bars, spas, salons, events, attractions, shopping, media, transportation – anything Chicago. Theresa also provides a weekly events newsletter. http://www.thelocaltourist.com.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

TV Technology for a New Age Plasma vs. LCD TVs

You’re ready! You’ve been working hard and saving a ton of money. Now you’re ready to buy a brand new Flat Screen TV. Hopping in the car, you head off to the local electronics store and just take it all in. There must be a million sets for you to choose from, but ‘come rain or snow or dark of night’ you’re leaving with a flat screen TV.

You feel good as the sales rep approaches you. No pressure. You tell her that you want a flat screen and would like to see what they have available. The first question she asks you is, “Are you looking for an LCD or a Plasma?” Uh…you’ve just been defeated. You have no idea what the differences are or even what questions to ask.

Relax, there is a lot to know, but you don’t have to work in the industry to make an informed decision.

First, let’s start on the same page. Both Plasmas and LCDs are called Flat Screen TVs. Yes, there are larger, thicker rear projection TVs using LCD technology, but that’s NOT what we’re talking about here. We are referring entirely to the thin TVs that you might be inclined to hang on your wall.

I won’t go into the technology behind the two types, but I will say that they are so thin because neither uses the old tubes that you associated with TVs twenty years ago.

Let’s take a brief look at the characteristics of both Plasmas and LCDs. Then we’ll compare and contrast. Finally, I’ll try to boil down what situations might need one type or the other.


Come anywhere from 32”-63” with the 40-44” range being the most popular.
Measure 4-6” thick regardless of size screen.
Cost anywhere from $2,000-$20,000 or more.
Can display high definition (HD), DVD, and standard TV pictures with lots of Brightness and Contrast.
Weigh as much as 125 pounds and can be difficult to mount on a wall.
Tend to have problems in high altitudes.
Use a lot of power and generate a lot of heat.
Good for viewing in bright rooms.
Can suffer “burn-in” if the TV image is static for a long time.
Don’t have a track record for repairs or overall hours of use.

Measure from 14-46” in screen size.
Thin and light and may be wall mounted.
Can double as a computer monitor.
Tends to have a narrow viewing angle. If you’re off to the side, the picture may look washed out.
Last for around 50,000 viewing hours.
Picture has poor contrast level, so black colors and fast motions are not well shown.
Can cost $400 for a 13”; $800 for a 17”; $1,200 for a 20”; and $1,600 for a 23”
I’ve listed just a few of the more prominent traits of both types of TVs. Let’s take a look at how they compare.

Inch for inch, LCDs cost more than Plasmas.
LCDs don’t come in large sizes. Plasmas don’t come in small sizes.
Plasmas can suffer burn-in. LCDs can’t.
LCDs tend to have a poor viewing angle while Plasmas have a wider viewing range.
Plasmas do better with brightness and contrast.
LCDs are lighter than Plasmas, inch for inch.
LCDs can be used as computer monitors. Plasma TVs can’t.
Plasmas are able to support the lower tier digital definition (Enhanced Definition, or ED) better than LCDs. As a result, it may be worth saving money by buying an ED Plasma.
Plasmas may have problems in high altitudes. LCDs don’t.
Which TV is right for you? That’s an excellent question, but like all good evaluations, it requires some extra insight. In order to determine if you should get an LCD or Plasma TV, please think about which issues are important to you?

If you need a 14-32” screen, go for an LCD. If you need a 47-63” TV go with a Plasma.
If cost is your only concern, buy a plasma.
If a lot of people will be watching the TV at one time, the Plasma’s wider viewing angle may be the best bet.
If you play a lot of video games or do anything that could leave a constant image on your screen for a long time, LCDs are your choice. They don’t suffer burn in.
If you want your TV to double as a computer monitor, go with an LCD. Make sure though, that it has the right computer connections. Not all LCDs can do double duty.
If picture quality is your only consideration, go with a Plasma.
If you watch a lot of sports or action movies, a Plasma may have a better picture for you.
If you live in a high altitude, the LCD may be better for you.
If weight is a concern for you, go with the LCD.
If power consumption is a concern, the LCD is a better purchase.
As you can see, there is no obvious answer as to which type of TV is better. If you fall into any of the categories listed above, your decision between a Plasma TV and an LCD TV may be much easier. If you don’t, then it’s a bit more arbitrary.

Regardless, we urge you to take a look at the displays in your local electronics store. Even if you don’t intend to buy the TVs there, you still want to know what to expect when you get the TV home.

If you’d like a little more detail and a few specific examples, please feel free to visit: http://www.home-movie-theater-guide.com/big-screen-tvs.html

In the mean time here's wishing you success, fun, and happiness in doing that which you love.

Copyright 2005 Flamworks, Inc.

Scott Foreman Home-Movie-Theater-Guide.com

This article may be reprinted for use in newsletters and websites provided that the information box is kept intact. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: articles@home-movie-theater-guide.com

About The Author
Surround Sounds, Stereos, Sofas, and Screens. A Home Movie Theater takes us to another world. Thrill with the Ultimate in Home Entertainment. Lose Yourself in Movies without ever leaving Home at Scott Foreman's

Oman Here We Come

Having practically circumnavigated the world and since retired and become an assisant CEO of Florida vacation villa rental website of www.fabvillas.com I thought I would start to write about the trials and tribulations of same, the travel not the website that is.

Do you use a travel agent or go it alone? Having done both I think the latter is my preference. Nothing difficult in booking a flight to your chosen destination and if your truly adventurous wait till you arrive and get a taxi to take you to a hotel.

My first experience of this was on a trip my wife and I were taking to final destination Oman in the Gulf.

We started to book the flights as stated above and having questioned the price, it was so cheap, it was like the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! The reason for the low price was a) Its not direct b) Its with Egyptian Air and b) the pilot might ask you the way.

That now prompted the wife to say well if it’s going to Cairo we can go and see the pyramids. Like we were visiting long lost friends on the way. Maybe she was, friends from a former life, maybe?

We opted for British Airways in the end (at least the pilot would know the way) and to make it special we opted for Business class as well.

Off we set-to London Airport and from there to Cairo

Arriving in Cairo in the evening. I had taken the time to ask the party that we were eventually meeting in Oman, if he could recommend a suitable hotel in the area. Bad move. The man in question was a minister in the government and as such was accustomed to 1st class everything. Me?

A London cabbie and wife on an adventure.

The hotel verbally recommended was The Oberoi Mena House. So armed with this information my wife and I leave the terminal building into the heady and balmy night air of Cairo. Walk across to the taxi rank and ask the first taxi driver to take us to The Mena House please. You would have thought I had just asked him to sell his daughter into slavery

Remember I have been in this position at Heathrow, where I used to conduct business. I said to my wife, “Oh it must only be local”. This was purely on the cab drivers actions and the look on his face. That pleading look in his eyes, that I must have shown many times. The look that says or (you hope it does) “Oh please guv not me I’ve waited here for over an hour and you only want to go round the corner” Ever had it happen to you?

I was ready to capitulate when all of a sudden a scruffily dressed policeman approached two bewildered tourists and this cab driver who was acting like he had just been diagnosed with some terminal illness and won the lottery at the same time.

“You have a problem” said the policeman. “No, I don’t think so” I said. “Where do you want to go?” he enquired. “Well we wanted to go to the Mena House, but if its only local we’ll take a bus or maybe they have a courtesy service?” says I defending the cabbie in his efforts to “broom the job”

In a most authoritative voice the officer turned to the driver and said “Mena House” accompanied by a cursory wave of the hand.

Still naively trying to defend this hard done by cab driver, I interject “Hey! Look if it’s local I’ll take a bus. How much will it cost to get there?” The policeman repeated the enquiry to the driver. The reply “Eleven Pounds” That in someway told me that it was in fact a short ride. Wrong!!!!!

So the cases were placed into the boot of this beat up vehicle. Nothing like the regulation vehicle I was used to pushing around the streets of the capital back in the UK.

Of paramount importance is the horn must be in full working order. The other attribute is a heavy right foot. So at breakneck speed we departed the airport area and entered what the driver must have. thought The Indianapolis 500.

After 30 minutes or so of swerving, hooting an gasping the white knuckle ride was coming to and end and we were treated to the sight of the pyramids. My wife and I in unison exclaimed Wow!

We had arrived at this opulent and historic hotel “Oberoi Mena House Hotel was originally a royal lodge built for Egypt's Vice King Khedive Ismail and used when he and friends were hunting in the desert or visiting the pyramids.”

The cabbie sprung out of this deathtrap he had the gall to describe as a taxi, I asked “How much” he smiled a toothy grin and replied,” Eleven Pounds effendi” Feeling entrepreneurial I handed him Fifteen pounds. Well you’d have thought I had just given him the key to unlocking King Tuts personal fortune. He bowed and scraped as he took the suitcases into the reception area brushing aside the liveried staff.

That was the start of the adventure

About The Author
Herman Nuncrush - 58 years of age ex London cabbie. Retired through ill health but have never felt better since I began travelling the world. Now a CEO of www.fabvillas.com a website designed for homeowners of rental villas in the Disney area to advertise their homes. Married with 3 children and 7 grandchildren.Enjoy relating my experiences and people have often said you should write them down. So here goes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Disney Land and Disney World

The big dream of most young children is to go to Disney Land or Disney World. This vacation, though, can cost you an arm and a leg! How do you keep it affordable and please the kids? There are several things you can do to limit your costs and enjoy a great Disney vacation.

First, know your budget. Know what is the most you can spend. Many people often rack up large debts from a trip to Disney and that is just not wise. So, knowing what you can and can’t afford is the most important factor.

Then, you can start considering the large expenses for your Disney vacation. Begin with how you will get there as that is one of the most expensive parts of your Disney Land or Disney World vacation. Flying is most likely the means of transportation that you will have to utilize. But, is it more cost effective to drive? Even if it does take eight or more hours, it may be a great way of cutting costs. Also, flying at odd times of the day and week can help to lower this cost.

So, you’re there, now what? Accommodations are often the next major cost in a Disney Vacation. Cut down on this by not staying at the location itself, but maybe a few miles out. Another way is to book your Disney Land or Disney World vacation at off peak times not during peak parts of the year for visitors. For example, traveling in the summer or during spring break is often the most crowded allowing hotels to charge more since lodging is harder to fine. Cutting down on meals is next. Perhaps you can cut down on breakfast by bringing cold cereal and milk to your hotel room?

Or, pack a sack lunch for while you visit the Disney resort. Cut down on the amount of drinks you buy by purchasing a water bottle and then refilling it at the water fountains. There are many such things you can do to cut your expenses. You can do the same thing with snacks.

Okay, so planning your Disney Land or Disney World vacation may seem like a bigger hassle, but it really is worth the extra effort. Cutting a few dollars here and there will put more money in your pocket for extra attractions or that special toy to remember the trip. Try utilizing websites like http://www.e-travelpromos.com to help you plan the trip to Disney World and Disney Land.

About The Author
Sandy Baker is staff writer at http://www.e-travelpromos.com sbaker@e-travelpromos.com

Western Caribbean Cruise

We were on the Radiance of the Seas for the western Caribbean cruise on November 28/04. This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean with our first last year on the larger Adventure of the Seas. After one cruise with RCI, I expected roughly the same standards with the Radiance and in general, I wasn't disappointed.


Our stateroom was an inside aft cabin and we were not disappointed. It was roomy enough and the lighting was adequate. Closet space and drawers were also sufficient for our use. We noticed that the double beds here were actually a bit better than the one we had on the Adventure since we couldn't really feel the split between the two separate beds like we did last time. If there's one thing that can be improved is the shower curtain. The one installed was not adequate in keeping in all the water from the shower. The shower on the Adventure utilized a double glass door system which was far superior. Otherwise, the cabin was nice and dark for sleeping at night. Although we heard a little noise from the cabins next to us, it was minimal. We didn't miss having any window or balcony at all since we were hardly ever in our stateroom. We were either at port or elsewhere on the ship and went back to our cabins just to relax or sleep. We would definitely book an inside cabin again with RCI unless we had a free upgrade.


The main Cascades dining room was nice and meals were good. Breakfasts had the same menu every morning. Lunch at the dining room was okay. The dinners were good but not every meal item was a winner. There was the odd appetizer and dessert that was not up to par. One thing that my partner noticed was that the portions of the main courses seemed to be smaller than those served on the Adventure. We usually went upstairs to the Windjammer to get more food after dining at the Cascades. In some parts of the Cascades room, the tables were placed too cramp so walking to out own table was tricky at times. The self serve Windjammer was good. It usually had more variety of food than served downstairs at the Cascades. Breakfast and lunch were busy at the Windjammer but during evenings, most people chose to dine at the Cascades. The two other optional restaurants onboard Portafino and Choppe House were available at $20 US per person but we never tried them since the meals already included at the Cascades and Windjammer were fine by us. Other passengers who did go to these optional rooms told us that they were nothing special. There was another cafe available during late evenings called the Seaview and they provided fare such as sandwiches, salads and burgers. This was a nice feature. One thing we did object to was that they charged for the coffee and tea there. There was also a specialty coffee place on the main centrum of the ship and they also charged. We had more availability of free beverages on the Adventure.


The service by the stateroom attendants and dining room staff was top notch as expected.


The evening shows at the Aurora Theatre were a mix of the ship's own crew of dancers and singers plus some outside comics and singers. In general, the shows were quite good. We would have liked them to mix up the entertainment each night rather than allocate music, comedy and magic into different evenings. Rather than an entire show of magic, we would have preferred each night featuring a variety of entertainment. Live music around the ship was a nice added touch.


Although smaller than the Adventure, the Radiance had fine amenities including the gym/spa, mini golf, pools and the shops. There was internet access but at 50 cents per minute, the service is a bit steep. There were things to do during the days at sea such as art auctions, cooking demos and dance classes. However, we felt that there was more offered on the Adventure. As for embarking and disembarking, there was no problem on the Radiance. The 6th level contained the casino and for non-smokers, this was a problem. The ventilation in the casino was not great and as a result, cigarette smoke travelled to adjacent areas near the casino. My partner wanted to avoid going on the 6th level whenever possible.

In summary, we enjoyed our cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. However, comparing it to the larger Adventure of the Seas, we would rate the larger ship a bit higher. We liked the huge promenade on the Adventure which was not available on a smaller ship like the Radiance. Given a choice in the future, we would opt for the larger ship. For first time cruisers, the Radiance would still be a good ship to vacation on. This is simply the case of where veteran cruisers would expect more especially if they have been on higher end ships.

About The Author
Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery (http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca), an online gallery specializing in Inuit and Northwest Native art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native art as well as free eCards

Finding Travel Deals

If your vacation time is coming up and you are planning on making a trip, then you will need to make some plans. Perhaps you are going to visit family? Or, maybe you plan to take your family to see an attraction somewhere? Maybe you are going to visit another country? Regardless of where you plan to go, you can find great deals on getting there, staying there, and even enjoying your time at the location.

Often times we want to take our children to see the things we saw when we were younger. It would be nice to see some new destinations as well. Either way, we want to do a lot but don't always have the funds. So, we are always in search for a deal. There are many out there to be had. Here are some quick ideas.

Saving on airfare is all about shopping around. Compare the different offers each company has. Can you fly in mid week and avoid weekend charges and busy times? Flying at night or at odd times can also increase your changes of getting a deal.

Once you get to your destination, you'll need a place to stay and a car to drive. The best way to get deals on these is to plan ahead. Making reservations ahead of time can be the best way to lower your cost. Cutting out extra charges on things you don't need, or won't use, also helps. No need for that car to come with a DVD player if you only plan to drive short distances. Along the same lines, you probably won't have time to watch all those movies on cable either. Eliminating these extras can lead to extra cash in your pocket.

Saving money on travel doesn't need to stop there. You can save money on travel in just about every aspect by planning and research. Take the time to compare different companies, then choose the best option for you. Also, take a box of cereal and pick up a gallon of milk instead of spending a ton on breakfast. Grab a local newspaper to see if there are deals in there for area restaurants. The local family diner may have some great food at reasonable prices but is overlooked because of all those glaring signs in tourist's face.

Being able to find a deal on travel is a great advantage. Saving some extra cash can truly make your vacation more worthwhile. Since so many people just don't get enough vacation time, getting the most out of what they do get is key. So, take some time and find the best travel deals out there for yourself!

About The Author
Sandy Baker is staff article writer at http://www.e-travelpromos.com.

Alaska Cruise Or Land Tour For A Vacation That Warms Your Heart

Besides its reputation for being "cold", what else do you know about our 49th State? Alaska has an abundance of things to do and see, whether you are a first time vacationer or a returning traveler. There is no other place like Alaska for traveling and exploring. Alaska is 586,000 square miles. With an area that big, think about the possibilities.

Here are just a few of the attractions that are available and are sure to whet your appetite for adventure. Wildlife viewing, helicopter tours, and train rides are very popular. You can also relax on a bus tour into Denali State Park, watch a totem pole being carved, or try your luck at catching one of Alaska’s world famous King Salmon.

It would take (2) lifetimes to experience everything Alaska has to offer. With its vast wilderness, Alaska provides opportunities for viewing wildlife either up close or from far away, in its natural habitat. For example, Alaska holds the distinction of having the largest Eagle population in the world. Whether you are a nature lover or not, just seeeing these magnificent birds soar throught the air is enough to take your breath away. With a wilderness area that is 2 1/2 times the size of the state of Texas, you can be guaranteed excellent photo opportunities.

It's hard to believe that Alaska has the largest temperate rain forest in the United States. Take the time to walk in it and discover this incredible gift. Indescribable adventures await you whereever your journey takes you in Alaska. Every "ice-blue" glacier and historic waterfront town calls for you to jump in to explore and discover its uniqueness and beauty. Give yourself the freedom to answer this "call of the wild". In every city from Anchorage to Fairbanks and beyond, there's plenty to do and see.

One of the ways to see this beautiful state is to cruise the Inner Passage. Taking one of the cruise ships is a simple way to get your feet wet and explore the state. You have the security of knowing that your basic needs like food, transportation, and your lodging is handled while you have the freedom of choosing any number of activities.
Depending on the town you stop in, you can choose to go whale watching, or take a helicopter trip and walk on a glacier. You can ride the White Pass Railroad or pan for gold. You can even take a Jeep tour on a logging trail and top it off with a salmon bake. Also, every town appears to have their own special and historical events happening on a regular basis and you definitely want to catch these, as well. There are also many fascinating museums and remember to save time to see the stunning Aurora Borealis, especially if you go in the fall.

Alaska seems to have it all. From world famous Parks & Preserves to Volcanos. From Historical & Annual Events and everything in between. With such variety, it’s surprising that anyone would look anywhere but north when vacation time comes. Alaska is a great American Vacation destination that you will want to experience for yourself at least once in your lifetime.

About The Author
Elizabeth Ann Wares is an avid traveler and shares travel and vacation tips. She is the webmaster of Airfare X, a leading resource for discount airfare:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Zealand Travel - Northland

The paradise of Northland begins at Cape Reinga, extends down 90 mile beach, to the beaches of Whangarei and forests and bush walks of the entire region.

Much of Northland's extensive coastline remains pristine - an aquatic playground for adventure activities and escapist relaxation. Whangarei and Opua are havens for international and local yachts; Tutukaka and Russell are game fishing hot spots; the beaches of Doubtless Bay and 90 mile beach are endlessly beautiful.

Throughout the region you’ll also enjoy the shopping, dining and entertainment possibilities that stem from the distinctive local culture, which embraces art, creativity, organic farming and alternative thinking.

It is believed that the first Polynesians arrived in Northland in the 11th century. Today Waitangi is the centre of Maori culture in the region, where approximately 30 percent of the population are Maori. European settlement began in the 1840s.

A Nation is born

History has always been made in Northland. The Hokianga Harbour was the first Polynesian landing place, Russell was New Zealand’s first capital and the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands.

The largest island in the Bay of Islands, Urupukapuka is a place to explore archaeological sites.

Beaches and islands

The sea plays a large part in the lives of most Northlanders, and with good reason. Dive down to a shipwreck, swim with the dolphins, bodysurf in the waves or just relax on the sand.

Things to do

* The Albertland Museum in Wellsford (turn right off SH.1 before the Caltex if heading south) contains many artifacts of the past 120 years and is well worth a stop.

* Follow the Twin Coast Discovery Highway and explore some of the linked tourist drives.

* Regular domestic air services connect to Northland’s three airports - Whangarei, Kerikeri and Kaitaia.

* To make the most of the bays and beaches, explore Northland by rental car or campervan.

* The Stone Store in Russell is one of Northland's oldest free standing buildings.

* For a scenic trip that you don't have to drive a car on, catch a coach from Auckland. Most leave from the Sky City terminal, with a ticket office at the terminal.

About The Author
Ace Shattock runs www.nzboards.com - a free online kiwi community

European Cruise - Not All Barges Are the Same!

What image comes to mind when you hear the word barge? Most likely, an American will visualize a long low-slung cargo vessel situated on a river or the Great Lakes, dirty and loaded with coal or iron ore. The idea of a barge cruise may be reminiscent of an old black and white movie where the hero leaves home at a young age on a cheap tramp steamer to seek his fortune in the great world beyond. Or a barge cruise might bring to mind long-haired hippies of the 1960’s traveling through Europe on $3 a day. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The only resemblance between an American cargo barge and a European cruising barge is the long low-slung shape and overall proportions. A European cruising barge is, in reality, an exclusive and elegant means of travel. These barges are also called floating hotels due to the preponderance of amenities and staff.

Forget the thought of a tiny pigeon-hole stateroom just above the waterline of a 2,000 passenger cruise ship. All staterooms in a floating hotel are spacious and well-appointed, more like suites that you find on a cruise ship. Staterooms typically feature twin beds and a private bath. On luxury barge cruises, you will find even larger cabins and modern conveniences such as TV, jacuzzi, and computer hook-up. You have all the amenities of home, including air conditioning, carpeting, a commons area, a dining area and, of course, a bar.

The European barge cruise is an intimate and personal experience as barges typically accommodate as few as 4 people up to as many as 24. Each barge is staffed with a personal chef who prepares gourmet meals from locally purchased ingredients to please guests as well as a captain who pilots the vessel and stateroom staff. A cruise with 6 people can be served by as many as 4 staff members.

Barge cruises are available on most of the rivers and canals in Europe. You can experience up-close the beauty and cultural sites of Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, or Scotland. The pace of a barge cruise is leisurely. The itinerary includes stopping at historic and cultural places of interest along the cruising route. You can sightsee on foot or on bicycles that are available onboard. On barge cruise operator even provides an air-conditioned touring bus to takes passengers to local points of interest at each stop along the way. What a change of pace from the hotel hopping of a bus trip! Just depart from the barge in the morning, enjoy a day of sightseeing and return to the quiet of a private dining room where a gourmet meal is waiting.

The price of a European barge cruise, like all other cruises, varies based upon the cruise line, the accommodations selected, the area visited, and the season (high or low). However, a quiet and personal barge cruise can be had for a price competitive with a Caribbean cruise, without airfare of course. The barge cruise price usually includes accommodations, 3 meals a day, beverage service that includes wines and spirits, and pre-arranged sightseeing tours. And these barge cruises cater to the American tourist by providing English speaking crew members.

About The Author
Colin Hartness
Looking for information about cruises?
Go to: http://www.whatcruises.com
'What Cruises' is published by Colin Hartness -
An excellent resource for Cruises!
Check out more cruise articles at: http://www.whatcruises.com/archive

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Pyramids of Giza

The most famous Egyptian pyramids to be built are the Great Pyramids of Giza, located in the outskirts of present-day Cairo. There are over 100 Egyptian pyramids of various sizes, and over 50 more in neighboring Sudan. However, the three Great Pyramids of Giza earn their fame by being the largest of these.

In the most popular pictures of the Pyramids of Giza, like the one shown below, the middle pyramid, that of Khafre (Chephren), appears larger due to the angle and because it was built on higher ground. The largest pyramid is actually the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the one on the left.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu

Contrary to popular belief, not all the Great Pyramids of Giza are considered part of the Seven Wonders of the World. Only the largest, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is a member, and is the only one of the Seven Wonders that still stands. Egypt was also home to another of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was destroyed long ago.

The Pyramid of Khufu has a height of 145 m (475 ft) and a base area of 52,400 sqm (562,500 sqft). That area is large enough to fit over 20 Olympic-size swimming pools! And for thousands of years, until the rise of modern-day skyscrapers, the pyramid was the tallest building in the world.

What makes the pyramid an architectural triumph and one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the fact that the rocks used in its construction each way more than 2 tons. And there are more than 2 million of those rocks.

Greek travelers to ancient Giza wrote that it took a hundred thousand slaves 20 years to construct the pyramid. However, since they visited Egypt more than 2 thousand years after the Egyptian pyramids were built, the truth of their accounts are suspect. Modern engineers estimate that it would likely take less people and less time to build the pyramid using technology that was available at that time.

Treasures of the Pharaoh

The Pyramid of Khufu was built by the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) in the 4th Dynasty circa 2560 BC, making it over 4500 years old! It is widely accepted that the pyramid was built to bury Pharaoh Khufu when he died. However, many other conspiracy theories abound as to why the pyramids were built, ranging from astronomical observatories to alien artifacts.

Since Egyptian Pharaohs were noted for being buried with their great treasure, Arab conquerors attempted to gain entrance into the Pyramid of Khufu in order to plunder it.

They managed to find a few narrow passages that led both up into the center of the pyramid, and down beneath the massive structure. However, all they managed to find at the end of these passages were empty chambers. No mummies or treasure was found in the pyramid.

During the Arabs' excavation of the Pyramid of Khufu, they encountered various boulders and slabs that were used to seal the passages and chambers within the pyramid. They also found hidden doors. This probably fueled the many myths about the Egyptian pyramids being booby-trapped, and where a grave robber who managed to get in would never get out alive.

A 17th century Englishman managed to uncover another shaft connecting the passages, but still no treasure was to be found.

Two conclusions can be derived from this. One, ancient tomb raiders have long since plundered all the treasure from the pyramid, leaving behind nothing but a few empty chambers. Or two, Khufu's mummy and treasure is still cleverly hidden within (or beneath) the Great Pyramid.

For more information on the Pyramids, visit http://www.nekhebet.com/w_pyramids.html

About The Author
Steven maintains the informational website Wonders of Ancient Egypt at http://www.nekhebet.com. Do visit if you want to find out more about the wonders of Egypt such as the Pyramids and the Lighthouse; or mysteries such as mummifcation and conspiracy theories; or its religion and history

Choose The Best Beach In Jamaica For You

People, obviously, have different needs and different styles. What constitutes a great beach for one person may not be all that enjoyable for another. What makes Jamaica a great travel destination is that, as an island nation, there are a variety of beaches to choose from. Knowing what you want and where to find it will help you to make the very most of that precious vacation time.

There are the classic Caribbean beaches that feature the traditional joys of pristine white sand and blue, blue waters. But, there are also the craggy, undeveloped beaches that are perfectly suited for those hoping to avoid crowds or for those who best enjoy nature in its natural state. There are beaches known for the gentle waters that are perfect for families with children visiting Jamaica and still others with rougher waters and currents that attract surfers. There are beaches known for their active social scene and others that are serene and quiet.

In Montego Bay, Doctor’s Cave Beach is one fine example of the classic Caribbean vacation beach. Five miles of fine, white sand beach that borders clear, cool waters attract visitors to Jamaica from all over. Because of its broad popularity, it is likely to be frequently crowded. Cornwall Beach is another lovely, white sand beach found in Montego Bay.

In Negril, some of the most wild, untouched areas by the sea can be found. Craggy cliffs, amazing beauty, solitude – all of these are what bring naturalists to these shore areas in Jamaica. Crane Beach, by Black River, is a beach that has not been overdeveloped and is notable for the naturalness of its environment.

For families, especially with young children, there are several beaches in Jamaica known for their gentle waters that lack the strong currents and undertows found in other areas, making swimming safer for young or inexperienced swimmers. Among the best of these are the Walter Fletcher Beach in Montego Bay, San San Beach in Port Antonio, Blue Lagoon Beach, which is also in Port Antonio, and Dunn’s River Beach, located in Ocho Rios, fairly close to the famous waterfalls of the same name.

Surfers love Boston Beach, where surfing equipment is easy to rent. The beaches of Long Bay are said to offer the most consistent waves in Jamaica, and on the southwest coast, Treasure Beach can offer adventure to the surfer. Swimmers should take care, though, as the undercurrent can be strong.

Those in search of beaches that combine the joys of sun, sand and surf with an active social scene or party scene will certainly enjoy Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio. Another favorite spot is Seven Mile Beach in Negril.

Jamaica is a lovely island nation with approximately 200 miles of beaches. There are beaches to suit most every taste, ranging from family beaches to nude sun bathing beaches, from peaceful and natural surroundings to the pristine white sands and full services of the resorts, from beaches perfect for active water sports beaches to known for their active social scene. A little planning will help you to choose the best beach in Jamaica for you.

About The Author
Simon Harris
This article provided courtesy of http://www.jamaica-vacation-guide.com