Some Useful California Travel Information

It is critical to highlight California travel information, given that the state has a reputation for being a hot vacation spot. There is so much to explore in the huge state of CA, including the state’s breathtaking beaches; the Golden Gate bridge; wine tasting regions; Monterey Bay in San Francisco; the San Luis area; and child friendly parks such as Disneyland and Legoland.

Tourists remain enthusiastic about the breathtaking beaches in CA. Gorgeous beaches can be located all across the state, though Southern CA has a climate that is more suitable than the northern part of the state where going to the beach is concerned. Some of the beaches in CA include Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City, and the gorgeous beaches in Anaheim that surround the theme parks in the city.

Another well known tourist magnet in CA is the Golden Gate bridge, which is located in the famous city of San Francisco. This bridge has set the backdrop in many films, and it can be seen via an antique fire truck; helicopter; or movie tour. Kids typically enjoy the antique fire truck tour. Viewings of landmarks in San Francisco are usually included in tours of the bridge.

California is also renowned for wine tasting, especially in San Francisco’s Napa Valley region. While Napa Valley conjures thoughts of grown-ups sipping divergent wines, a region located in the area called Calistoga actually has quite a few activities that are suitable for families to enjoy together. They include Harry Potter activities, a safari, and a train ride.

Another place to see in CA is Southern San Francisco’s Monterey Bay. It is a lively tourist spot that is home to Cannery Row, which is also the label of a Steinbeck novel. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and a profusion of sea otters sea lions, and whales are just a few of things to see by the bay. Big Sur Coast is not far away from the bay. It is by one of the most gorgeous and scenic dives in the world. Area beaches are breathtaking, but the water in them is cold.

San Luis is an inexpensive place between Los Angeles and San Francisco that is great to visit in California. There is a great Children’s Museum and Natural History Museum there. Also, a profusion of cheap hotels are located in the vicinity, on top of beaches. An farmer’s market that is free offers many activities including live musical entertainment is a great place for families to enjoy within San Luis.

Disneyland and Legoland are two of the best known theme parks in the world. People with children are well aware of them, and they both contain lots of kid friendly activities. The drawback where these parks are concerned is the expense associated with going to them.

The top places to dine, lodge, and go for entertainment can all be found via the Internet. Many online travel sites exclusively cater to these topics, and they can be found through the major search engines.

In conclusion, there are quite a few things to do in CA, and many places to eat, sleep, and enjoy entertainment in exist around the state. They include the state’s breathtaking beaches; the Golden Gate bridge; wine tasting regions; Monterey Bay in San Francisco; the San Luis area; and child friendly parks such as Disneyland and Legoland. The Internet has a lot of good CA travel information available.

Refurbishing Your Home Furniture

A homemaker confers more significance to home furniture especially in the living room, dining area and bedrooms. Furniture calls for attention for the reason that your home is where you use up most of your time. When you are at home, it is important that you are comfortable not only with the people around you but most especially to the environment around the house. The environment includes the furniture that you are using, may it be living room furniture, dining furniture or bedroom furniture.

Refurbishing your home furniture appends attraction to your environment and usually initiates convenience and relaxation. The appearance of your home generates a notion on your mind as well as your whole family’s mind. So it is important to make a good and positive ambiance around the house both for your sake and your family’s sake.

In choosing the bedroom furniture, you should keep in mind that price need not necessarily matter. There are many discounted bedroom furniture sets that look really pretty and elegant, not to mention comfortable and durable as well.

For your dining area, dining furniture need not be expensive as well. You can pick a solid wood furniture but you just have to make sure to put a protective guard around the edges to avoid accidents.

Achieving your desired look for your home is not difficult. You just have to make sure that everything fits perfectly, meaning, there is no furniture that is isolated from the whole theme that you are trying to portray.

Buying Home Furniture – Top Priorities

Different parts of your house require furniture of different styles and types to make the best use of both the area and the furniture. This is because each furniture piece plays a different role in your house, with the common feature being that each item should be comfortable and should go well with the surrounding structure and color scheme.

That said furniture in your living room needs to be different from what you will put up in your bedroom and vice versa. Apart from being comfortable, furniture needs to be decorative and stylish. You don’t want to invite friends and family over to a shabbily furnished house now would you? Some of your first time visiting friends might even want to take a little tour of the house, and a rightly chosen furniture will definitely save you a lot of embarrassment.

Before you go ahead and invest money in furniture, there are three things you must take into consideration. After all, you don’t buy home furniture every now and then. Here are the 3 things you need to keep in mind while buying furniture:

  1. Quality should be your top priority. You need not spend your money on super expensive designer furniture available in the market. If you are on a limited budget, go for a more basic, simple design, but make sure you do not compromise on the quality of the piece you want to buy. As far as possible, try buying wooden furniture. These pieces are strong, can be crafted to suit numerous design choices, and they add a homely, warm ambience to your house.
  2. Comfort is another important characteristic which defines good furniture. Your furniture needs to have a design that provides physical comfort. At the end of a tiring day, won’t it be great to come home and just drop on your favorite couch to help you relax after a long day at work? Remember that badly designed furniture is often the cause of many health issues like back pain, muscle pain and even headache.
  3. The design and color of your furniture need to be such that they blend in with the look, feel and the color scheme of your house or room. They must also make the most appropriate use of the available space, without making the room look overcrowded. Also, the members of the house should not face any discomfort while moving about in the house because of the furniture. You should even get specially designed pieces of furniture to allow you to utilize the spaces in the corners of rooms, which otherwise would go unused.

Of course, you need to keep your budget in mind. Be a smart buyer and visit a couple of stores to check the prices and various available designs. The Internet comes to your rescue, as always. Do your homework before stepping out to buy what you need. You would not regret having spent the time in going through the variety of furniture available and its prices, before you make your pick.

Phoenix Real Estate Market at Risk of Sudden Slowdown Due to Newly Passed Housing Bill

The Phoenix residential real estate market could see a 10% or greater drop in home sales with the elimination of down payment assistance tied to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, which would have serious repercussions given the market’s already challenging climate.

Nestled in H.R. 3221, or “The Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008,” passed into law on July 30th, the Congress and the President set a date of October 1st for the elimination of down payment assistance, a financing option for many home-buyers in the Phoenix real estate market.

Down payment assistance is provided in tandem with a Federal Housing Administration loan whereby home-sellers can contribute monies through an intermediary toward a down payment for home-buyers to purchase a home. The intermediary acts as a pass-through for seller contributions and passes these monies to the buyer as a ‘gift.’ Ameridream Inc. and Nehemiah represent the most visible of these intermediaries and have been involved in several legal challenges with FHA over the down payment assistance option.

But the hard truth is that elimination of these programs may adversely impact the Phoenix housing market and do more harm than good in the short term. This is due to FHA loans and down payment assistance programs’ prominence in the current housing environment. FHA loans haven taken on a hugely important role in the Phoenix residential real estate market. As loan programs disappeared, credit requirements tightened, and down payment requirements rose to 10% or more, FHA loans presented the only option for home buyers to get into properties with 3% or less down payment through the use of DPA. Some estimates are that FHA loans currently represent over 50% of closed residential real estate transactions for the year. As a result, the wholesale removal of down payment assistance programs may have an immediate impact.

If the legislation holds, the market may see two developments. First, there will be heightened activity in the period up to October 1st as affected home buyers seek to lock into homes before they get sidelined and aren’t able to. Second, there will be an appreciable decline in buyer activity and home sales as a result of down payment assistance’s elimination after October 1st. Buyers who could have purchased homes will have to wait or give up their search.

Phoenix could see a 10% or greater decline in an already suffering housing market that potentially moves it away from a market that is recovering to one that is stinging. Taking this one step further, if the impact is similar in other markets across the country, the effect on the broader economy of the United States may be problematic.

The Federal Housing Administration as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is staunchly against the use of the programs citing that down payment assistance transactions incur a disproportionate number of foreclosures when compared to loans where the buyer accumulated the down payment. Higher FHA loan defaults raise the costs and risks to FHA. FHA cites that homeowners using these programs are able to buy their homes with effectively no money down and so have no personal stake in the properties themselves. With no personal stake, the buyers may not have the personal financial discipline to keep their commitments or the financial wherewithal to afford the properties in the first place.

Proponents counter that the programs simply allow viable and qualified buyers the ability to own their own homes and that elimination of the program will hurt American families.

Regardless of the side of the debate one is on, the market reality is that wholesale elimination of the down payment assistance option does present a risk to the Phoenix housing market. as it has been an important and prominent enabler for the local housing market. Time will tell if a viable compromise solution is put before the Congress and the President before down payment assistance goes completely away.

Travel Guide – The Best Way to Plan Your Holiday

Holidays form a very important part of our lives because they recharge our batteries and refresh us completely. The only thing that can lighten us up and invigorate our spirit to work and live life dynamically is a holiday. Not just that, a holiday is something that helps us better understand the place we are visiting; there may be so many things we wouldn’t have known about the place if not for the visit. Most of all, it helps us build memories, which stay with us and probably never fade away until we become extinct. Furthermore, holidays bring us back on track and help us keep the momentum going once again with a new, rejuvenated and vibrant spirit. As humans, it is highly essential for us to take regular breaks from packed and hectic life schedules and enjoy the precious moments that a holiday brings about.

The travel guide can simplify the planning part of a holiday. It gives information pertinent to the destination and its various features. For instance, if you are planning a trip to Goa and you want to know the major tourist attractions, the answer can be got by looking up in a travel guide. Not only that, a travel guide also contains information about the various hotels that are located in the particular destination. For tourists, travel guides have come very much in handy and have helped in developing an understanding towards the various aspects about destination that is being visited. Referring a travel guide is a trend that is widely followed these days.

Travel guides are often documented by travel agencies. Since they deal with helping people enjoy their vacations in different places round the world, these agencies have an in depth knowledge about major and minor tourist destinations. Travel agencies are the best way to obtain travel information and the attractive aspects of a particular place you want to visit. Travel agencies also suggest places that can be visited on the basis of your preferences and priorities. The travel information about a particular place is provided by travel agencies and these agencies also take care of transport and accommodation services. Travels agencies have tie ups with the hospitality industry, both working in mutual coordination in order to promote their own services and increase their brand value. So remember, if you decide to go on a holiday to a particular place, approaching travel agencies is the best option since these agencies provide full travel information of the place you’d be visiting.

Traveling round the world is an exciting prospect and provides something very different when compared to visiting different places in your native country. For one, the culture is completely different and so are the people. Interacting with locals in a different country is as exciting as visiting the attractions there. You can travel world round and enjoy the sights, the cuisines and the wonderful locales which foreign countries can provide. A good source of information about international destinations is travel world magazine. The travel world agencies also give detailed information about the most sought after tourist attractions in the world.

Gold Rings for Women – A Sentimental Gift Item

Gold is perhaps the most precious metal that is available today. It is a luxurious metal that only few can afford nowadays owing to the very high gold prices. Even though gold is such an expensive metal that only few people can afford, it really hasn’t been replaced by any other metal. People still seems to save up as much as they can when it comes to buying gold jewelry for themselves. Jewelry is very popular among ladies and it serves as a very good gift item as well. In this article we will be discussing the suitability of gold rings to be given as gifts to someone close to you and to someone who you feel is really special and important in your life.

When you have decided that you want to give gold ring as a gift, there are a few things you need to understand. First of all, there is not just the simple yellow gold from which gold rings are made. There is white gold and rose gold which can be chosen as well. Rose gold, we think, is a good choice for the ladies because it has a pinkish touch to it. It couldn’t be more suitable for any woman since the color pink is also associated with women. White gold on the other hand, is a metal that is commonly known as platinum as well. It has a very glossy shine and looks somewhat like silver, although both the metals are worlds apart.

Keeping in mind the purity of the gold rings for women is also important when selecting one as a gift to give away. Never choose a ring that has been gold-plated because once the plating comes off, the ring loses its shine and its glamour. If you cannot afford a gold ring, you could give away an older one or have a new one made from an older gold ring. Gold rings for women or any kind of gold jewelry for that matter, are never made out of pure 100% gold. Some other metal is always mixed with the gold to make its stronger. The carats that are mentioned on the ring give you an idea of how much gold has gone into making the ring. If you’re gifting a ring something above the 15 carat mark would do because the higher the carats, the more gold has been used in making the ring.

When you’re giving away gold rings for women, make sure you keep a check about the allergies that the lady you are giving the ring to, has. If they suffer from any allergies of gold, it’s best not to give them a gold ring. Perhaps something else would be more suitable. If you’re looking to make the ring more sentimental, you can also have the rings for women, custom-made. You can have a ring made according to your own design and have something of sentimental value engraved on the ring. It could be a date, a name or even a quote; whatever you think is suitable. If you want to spend extra dollars on the ring, you could even have stones fitted into or onto the ring. This will cost you more, but it will definitely add to the look of the ring. A beautiful ring, placed in a nice ring box is sure to lighten up any lady’s mood. Gold rings for women are the perfect gifts to give away if you can afford to give it.

Health-Medicinal Benefits of Garlic May Not Include Prevention of Heart Disease

For thousands of years, physicians have been aware of the health/medicinal benefits of garlic. But, today, the popularity of garlic supplements is related primarily to decades of research concerning the health benefits of garlic in lowering cholesterol, thus improving the health of the heart and possibly reducing the risk of heart disease. While no one disputes that there are numerous genuine health benefits of garlic, the most recent research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) casts doubt on garlic’s cholesterol lowering effect and its benefits to heart health.

Over a period of six months, 169 people with moderately high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol were given three different formulations of garlic supplements. The trials were double blinded, randomized and conducted using placebo controls. Older research supporting claims of the benefits of garlic to heart health were not always conducted in this manner. Some research was conducted using laboratory animals. Some research was not blinded or placebo controlled, meaning that researchers or participants knew they were receiving actual garlic supplements. The problem with non-blinded studies is that the results are sometimes skewed towards what the researchers want or expect the results to be, plus, the placebo effect is well documented. When a person believes that they are receiving a product that will help their condition, any substance will return positive results 10-20% of the time.

NCCAM research concerning the cholesterol lowering benefits of garlic supplements was also controlled so that no other changes in diet or exercise regimens were made, because the primary question is whether or not garlic supplements alone actually have a beneficial effect on LDL cholesterol. If the NCCAM results are accurate, then garlic supplements have no effect on LDL cholesterol levels. Thus, the benefits of garlic to heart health may have been overstated by previous researchers or simply blown out of proportion by the media and supplement companies.

The undisputed health/medicinal benefits of garlic are mostly related to a component known as allicin, which is released when fresh garlic is crushed. Louis Pasteur, the father of modern antibiotics, noted garlic’s antibacterial activity in 1858. It was used to prevent gangrene during World Wars I and II. Other health benefits of garlic include the treatment of various infections, such as upper respiratory infections, fungal infections and infection with intestinal worms and parasites. The garlic must be fresh and crushed in order to be effective. The allicin is lost if garlic is cooked.

Top 10 Events to Celebrate on a Party Bus

A San Francisco party bus can be an excellent transportation choice for a wide variety of activities. Instead of renting a traditional limo, you can kick the party up a notch with more space and entertainment. Most buses include amenities like a sound system, plasma televisions and plenty of comfortable seating. These ten events are the perfect opportunities for chartering a party bus.

Club Hopping
Bay area party bus drivers know all the hot spots in the city, and they will help you make the rounds. Most bus services will offer club hopping packages that will include entry to two or three clubs along with plenty of onboard entertainment in between.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties

Give the bride or groom a night to remember with a party aboard a San Francisco party bus. You can add your own refreshments and entertainment.

Weddings

Get your wedding party to the church on time in extreme style. A party bus can provide extra time for the wedding party to spend together and add another memorable element to the special day.

Concerts

A party bus makes it easy to see all your favorite entertainers. The bus will pick you up at your front door and drive you right to the front of the arena or concert hall. After the concert, your driver will be ready and waiting to keep the party going on the way home.

Sporting Events

The tailgating is on the bus, and what a party it is! You avoid the hassle and expense of crowded parking lots, and those plasma televisions onboard come in quite handy for catching the pre-game shows.

Birthdays

Have a big birthday coming up? A San Francisco party bus can get you to your destination in high style. If you prefer, party onboard while your driver gives you a unique tour of the city.

Prom

There is simply no better way to impress the senior class than by showing up to your prom in a Bay area party bus. This party on wheels can be the perfect way to start and end your special night and parents can rest assured that kids will make it home safe and sound.

Graduation

That graduate worked really hard to get where he or she is today. Why not reward them with a special trip to the graduation ceremony? Afterwards, a San Francisco party bus can be the perfect way to make the graduation party rounds.

Family Reunions

Get the clan together by hopping aboard a party bus to take you to the reunion site. You can book a Bay area party bus big enough to hold the entire crowd so that everyone gets to the reunion together.

Gold Watch – The Perfect Gift For Your Valentine

Are you thinking of what to gift for your Valentine on this Valentine’s Day? How about giving him or her the best and the most memorable gift? A gold watch would be the perfect gift to anyone from their loved one, wouldn’t it? And if your hubby loves jewelry or likes to have a collection of watches, they will surely be more than just happy to add this to their collection if they matches their taste.

Such a watch encompasses everything anyone would love to have. Precious rocks and rubies can be embedded in the watch to show the time as presentable as it can be and make it more than just a watch. A gold watch can be more than an ordinary watch when you wear it; it can be an accessory.

Gold watches usually make a clear statement of style and class for those wearing them. It does not matter where you wear it, whether in your office or with your friends, this watch can surely make you look special and set you apart from the crowd. And all that gives this watch the special aura, is the gold which is specifically used for this purpose. If you do not have one of them yet, go out and get one. However, have a look at the price tag first before you actually hand over your credit card to pay the bill, because price is important when buying expensive watches.

Gold is one of the most precious elements which of course also makes such a watch precious and expensive. However, apart from the gold, there is more to those expensive watches, such as the expert watch craftsmanship.

Ladies also love gold watches, and no doubt, they would make brilliant gifts for any special occasions. Be it your girlfriend or your mother or sister, anyone would love to have a beautiful watch regardless of their age. You can find cheap watches or very expensive ones, but the bottom line is that they make for a gift to remember!

Gold watches look great when worn with expensive dresses or designer suits and these watches last very long if maintained well and with care since gold is very durable. So, remember to take good care of that watch from the minute you put it on!

How to Buy Vintage Jewelry at Thrift Shops

Some of the best places to find great vintage costume jewelry are thrift shops. You’ve seen the big stores – Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers…and then there are the charity shops run by churches and non-profits. All of them receive donated jewelry, and I have found some amazing pieces in thrift shops. It seems to me that the larger chain shops have better prices than the smaller charity shops, but it really depends on who is pricing the jewelry when they put it out for sale. Some shop employees are very savvy about values, but some aren’t and they often price jewelry very low. Maybe they figure that if it isn’t real gold it isn’t worth much. Good for us!

Thrift shop shopping has lost the stigma of being just junk shops or places where the down-and-out shop.

A great tip is to become friendly with the staff of the shops that you visit. One clerk lets me rummage through the jewelry bins before she prices them and puts them out on the floor. Another lets me know when they get a large amount of jewelry donated.

Find out when the shop has their specials. One store in my town has a 30% Senior discount on Wednesdays. Guess which day is my shopping day!

Sometimes the shop management will put a large amount of jewelry in a plastic bag and sell the bag for a fixed price. If you find these, examine the bag as closely as you can – you won’t be allowed to open it, and there’s lots of junk in there, mostly stuff that didn’t sell, and often lots of plastic Mardi Gras beads. I bought these bags a few times, and it was fun sorting through everything, but I wound up donating most of it to a nursing home for crafts projects. I have found a few really nice pieces this way, but I don’t think it was really worth the time and trouble.

Most thrift shops have a glass case where they keep the better stuff. Ask to see pieces that interest you, and examine them closely. Look closely at the racks where they usually hang the cheaper stuff. I found a sterling silver Native American belt buckle, with a turquoise stone in it and signed by the artist, hanging in a zip lock bag on a rack. I bought it for $2.80 and sold it on eBay for $52! It was badly tarnished, but I polished it up and it was beautiful.

There always seem to be lots of watches in those cases. Beware of copies of famous makes, and buy only name brands that you recognize. Make sure the band is in good condition and that there are no scratches on the crystal. The watch probably won’t be working, so plan to spend $5 to $7 for a battery. If you’re buying for resale, be sure to include the cost of a battery to see if the watch is worth buying. You’re taking a chance there – it might not work even after a new battery is installed.

Whether you are buying jewelry for your own collection or for resale, there are several things to look for when examining thrift shop jewelry.

1. Condition, condition, condition: You are going to come across all kinds of jewelry in all kinds of condition. Look for broken clasps, missing stones, worn metal finishes, and any green material on gold tone jewelry. The green stuff is corrosion, and it can’t be cleaned off. Pass on that one. Check that stone settings are tight, and if they aren’t, be careful with the piece – you should be able to tighten them. If the piece is dirty you can clean it. Bring a jeweler’s loupe or strong magnifying glass so you can examine the piece closely.

2. Is the piece signed? The name on the back of a pin or earring, on the clasp of a necklace or bracelet, or on an earring clip is the “signature” of the designer. Signed pieces can be more valuable than unsigned, but there are also many many “unsigned beauties” out there. Look for the name, and if there is a copyright symbol ©, that means the piece was made after about 1955. No symbol – you probably have a real vintage piece. Look for the numbers 925 on silver jewelry – that means it’s sterling silver, and if the price is right, you’ve got a steal.

3. Price: It’s hard to put a price on thrift shop jewelry – the cheaper, the better, of course! I try not to spend more than $3 for a pin, bracelet, necklace or pair of earrings. You might come across something really spectacular that costs more, and if you think you can profit from it, or you want it for yourself, go ahead and buy it. A good rule of thumb when shopping thrift shops is this: If you like it but aren’t sure, set yourself a limit, say $5. If it turns out to be not so great, you’re not out that much. As mentioned, some thrift shop employees know more about jewelry, and will price some pieces too high for you to sell and make a profit. But there seems to be quite a bit of employee turnover in these shops, so the next person pricing jewelry might not be as knowledgeable.

After Christmas is a good time to pick up Christmas jewelry. Some shops will mark down holiday items to get rid of them, other shops just store them away for next year.

I love shopping at thrift shops – just like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Every trip is a treasure hunt. Some days are slim pickin’s, but some days are very rewarding. Just yesterday I got 10 pieces for $15 – several are sterling silver, and one piece may be jade – I’m still not sure.

Be consistent in your thrift shop shopping. Try to go out every week, and find out when the shops have their special promotions. Most of the large chain shops put out new merchandise all day long, some other shops restock on certain days. Find out when those are, and get there early.

Read books about costume jewelry, and become knowledgeable, so when you shop the thrift shops you’ll be armed with information. Have fun with it, get to know the thrift shop staff, and you’ll come home with some fabulous jewelry at fabulous prices.