Get Your Passport Now for Summer Travel to the Caribbean

Two months after the U.S. Government instituted new passport regulations for Caribbean and Latin American travel under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), both foreign officials and visitors have called the initial transition a success. Requiring passports for air travel between the Caribbean and the United States, the WHTI was enacted to alleviate security concerns regarding U.S. border security. It was predicted by many that the initiative would create noticeable hassles for travelers and resorts in early 2007. Yet, most resorts and travel bureaus saw no decrease in American visitors, while tourists were able to make successful arrangements and navigate the new passport restrictions.

That said – don’t let the smooth initial transition catch you off guard. Travel experts speculate that the summer months could provide more difficulty for tourists and resorts alike. Due to the fact that so many of the visitors to Grand Cayman during the first few months of this year already possessed long-standing passports, the delays and hassles were minimal. Yet, as family travel to the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean picks up throughout the summer, experts fear that many tourists may overlook the new passport regulations – especially for their children.

If you have begun planning a family vacation to Grand Cayman, now is the time to add passport applications to the top of your checklist. As it takes at least 6 weeks (with some current reports at 10 weeks) for the U.S. State Department to process passports, submitting your applications now will give you enough time to plan your activities for the summer. Simply because there wasn’t a rush on new passport applications at the beginning of the year, doesn’t mean there won’t be a backlog of applications for the summer travel season.

For those concerned about the additional cost of passports for their family, some resorts have developed a unique solution. In an effort to lessen tourists’ concerns about the cost and hassle of passports, hotels and resorts – such as the Marriott and Renaissance Mexico and Caribbean Resorts – have implanted discounts to new passport holders. For instance, if you arrive at the Grand Cayman Marriott and the island is your first stamped destination, you will receive a $100 resort credit. In most cases, discounts like these simply require your family’s passports being shown to the front desk staff at the resort. Furthermore, as you probably finalized your passports well before travel, a credit like this could offer a nice financial cushion for your family vacation.

To help you plan the perfect Caribbean family vacation, here is helpful checklist for the passport application process. Remember, it is recommended to begin the passport application process as soon as you know you are going to travel to Grand Cayman or anywhere else throughout the Caribbean or Latin America:

o First, acquire proof of U.S. citizenship for all passport applicants. Most travelers use birth certificates, but expired passports can also be used.

o Have a pair of passport photos taken at a drugstore, copy shop or any other location.

o Obtain passport applications from the U.S. State Department website or from any post office or government facility.

o If anyone in your family is receiving their first passport, you must visit a passport acceptance facility with your passport photos, proof of citizenship and photo ID to have the applications validated. Passport acceptance facilities include courts, post offices, libraries and government offices. Check the U.S. State Department website for all locations.

o Send your applications with payment from these approved locations.

o If you have planned ahead, you shouldn’t need to expedite your passport application through the U.S. State Department. For $60, the Passport Services Office offers expedited shipping – usually ensuring delivery of passports within 3-4 weeks. Also, if you’re family is in a time crunch, several services can obtain passports in as little as 24 hours for a greater fee.

Why Should You Buy Antique Furniture?

Have you ever wondered why antique enthusiasts pursue and buy antique furniture and other antiques with such great passion, and why they find it so important to learn as much as they can about the subject? What’s the reason these items are so highly valued?

Throughout the world antiques are treasured because they symbolize an era that was, and is now gone. These pieces chronicle a previous period of time, a lost generation, or perhaps it’s a period of history that we fondly recall. Antiques and antique furniture are objects that make history come alive for us, once again.

Historic value is just one of the reasons antique items have always been highly desired by collectors. Another is, they know that in time, the antiques they possess will be worth an amount far beyond what they originally paid for them. From antique silver to Queen Anne furniture, etc., there will always be avid collectors specializing in the acquisition of various types of antiques.

Collecting antiques is all about one’s own personal choice. However, collecting furniture pieces is quite different from any other type of antique because, although you can look at, admire and enjoy possessing your latest treasure, these are items you live with and use daily.

It would be highly unusual for the average collector to amass a large collection of French 18th century armoires/wardrobes, as there certainly would not be room for them in the average home. Although furniture can also be looked at, admired and enjoyed, it is also meant to be lived with and used. When you buy antique furniture, each piece becomes part of your surroundings, your home and your life.

Antique pieces of furniture have been made for every part of the home. Some of the best examples are the living room, This room is where most of the finest 18th and 19th century furniture was designed and made to be used. French and English furniture designers of this period designed some of the most energetic and lavishly upholstered sofas, settees and chairs.

Many of these designs were revived in later years and continue to be stylish and useful today. Victorian furniture can still be found today and the Victorian wing chair is quite handsome and very comfortable. Antique writing desks and desk chairs, both period and revival, are highly desirable pieces of antique furniture to buy, even today.

Also, there are quite a few small, medium and large antique tables that are perfect for both occasional and dining use. And sets of dining chairs, representative of all the well known 18th and 19th Century furniture makers, are sturdy, well constructed and have withstood the test of time.

The unusual character of each piece’s origin, style and period can significantly enhance the appearance of your home. And, if you buy only a piece or two (or even a whole house full) to decorate your home, it can be a great investment as well!

So, buy antique furniture for your home, even if it’s only one or two pieces, it will alter it’s look and feel. And, who knows, you may just find a real treasure for your own future gain…

Click the link below you’d like to visit my antique furniture shop. You’ll find a large selection of antique furniture, lighting, accessories and art for your home.

Anita Boyd has been an antique dealer for over twenty years and collector for her entire adult life. She specializes in antique furniture, lighting and decorative accessories for the home. Her website offers a large selection of antique dining tables and chairs, antique writing desks, antique clocks, antique chandeliers and lamps and also vintage antique furniture.

Please visit her blog, it’s full of valuable posts all about the magic of antique furniture [] and why you should own it.

Some Important Points That You Must Remember When Buying Outdoor Furniture

Your outdoor furniture plays an important role deciding the decor of your home. The furniture that you buy will depend on your lifestyle and habits. For instance, some people may use them to have their meals or to spend quality time with their family. Others may use them when they have pool parties or to entertain the guest who visit them.

There are many offline and online stores that sell both contemporary and traditional outdoor furniture. The furniture that you buy must be both durable and functional. Before you go shopping it is a good idea to prepare a checklist of your requirements and budget. Here are a few important factors you should consider when buying outdoor furniture.

Shape and Size

The furniture that you buy must be of the right shape and size. The size of the furniture will depend on the number of people who will use the furniture. The size of the furniture will also depend on the space available. Make sure you check the space available and the decor of your home before buying patio furniture.

Quality of Furniture

When you buy any product, it is important that you check the quality of the product. The quality of the product becomes even more important if the product is subject to wear and tear. Outdoor furniture is usually exposed to extreme temperatures that could damage the furniture. Also, regular maintenance of outdoor furniture is expensive and time-consuming. Avoid buying cheap furniture as you may have to replace them soon. If you have a limited budget try buying mid-range furniture that is neither expensive nor made from cheap material.


Before buying outdoor furniture, check the time that you can spend to maintain the furniture. Furniture that is made from aluminum or wrought iron is easy to maintain when compared to wooden furniture. However, many people still prefer buying wood or teak furniture because they add to the decor of their home.

Warranties and Service

Nothing is permanent in life and your outdoor furniture is no different. Check the warranties and after-sales service offered by the retailer before you make a purchase. Make sure you check the terms of the contract before you buy furniture for your home.

4 Helpful Hints for Buying Mahogany Furniture

This rare and expensive hardwood is used to make the finest furniture. Distinctive home furnishings crafted from this wood will stay in top-notch condition for years to come. Installing Mahogany furniture in your house might get heavy on your pockets, but it will be a wise investment in your home. Furniture pieces made from this hardwood will give your home or office an amazing look!

Some useful hints for buying Mahogany furniture

Overview of Mahogany: Mahogany is a highly demanded hardwood for making fine furniture. This popular wood is well-known for its durability and strength. It is broadly used in interior design mouldings, boat interiors and decorative veneers. Mahogany being an excellent carving wood reacts well to hand and machine tools. The nailing and screwing properties of the wood are awesome. It is resistant to decay by water and bugs that make it the first preference in making cabinets for kitchen.

Reasons for buying Mahogany furniture: Furniture pieces made from Mahogany wood are crafted in traditional style but these pieces can blend well with almost any decorating style. Its elegance attracts most of the consumers and its unique style will add a class of sophistication to your interiors. Dining tables made from mahogany wood will be an amazing addition to your home. This type of huge furniture piece would instantly catch the attention of people!

What to look for when you buy Mahogany furniture: While buying the furniture for your house, it is important to check whether the furniture is made from solid mahogany or it is made with mahogany Veneers. There are times where people add mahogany veneers to the lower quality furniture pieces to add value to it.

Price factor: Mahogany furniture is very costly. Big estates will often sale off the furniture and will promote the auction in the confidential advertisement segment of the newspaper or online. If you are unable to find the furniture at the auction, find smaller furniture stores that deal in fine furniture than big chains. You should not get hesitated in price negotiation. The furniture stores which are owned privately do not always charge the sticker price. They will bargain a bit of it if you have good negotiation skills.

The above mentioned points are some of the essential hints if you are looking forward to buy Mahogany furniture for your house. You can easily enrich the appeal of your home interiors by installing well-designed Mahogany furniture in your home. The timeless beauty of this furniture will certainly spruce up the look of your house today and for generations to come. You are sure to get the exclusively designed furniture for your office as well as house.

Making The Right Decision While Buying Home Furniture

While you would have spent hours, perhaps days, in making the decision on buying the right furniture for your home, there is bound to be some confusion in your mind in view of the large variety of choices available to choose from. While you are not to be blamed for the perplexity troubling your mind, it does help to make an informed decision based on good research and basic knowledge of furniture types.

Much depends on your outlook towards the various materials available that are vying for your attention. If you prefer wood that has been the choice of several generations and is known for its durability and class, you are amongst millions of people who want to own a piece of nature molded specifically to your personal needs. More so if you plan to own a piece of specially made wooden Amish handcrafted furniture, it is bound to bring a class to your home that is otherwise hard to come by.

Wooden furniture is well known to last long, really long. For how many years have you been seeing that special rocking chair your grandfather used to spend his mornings on? Or the old, but still sturdy closet that you have been storing your clothes in since you were a toddler? So if you are the types who prefer that your children and their offspring as well remember their young days spent cradling in the comfort of the classic setting of your ancestral home, wooden furniture is definitely the way to be.

As far as wooden furniture goes, Amish furniture offers a class that cannot be ignored by any serious buyer. Whatever be your choice of wood, good Amish oak furniture definitely warrants a close look before making your decision. Known for its exclusivity and long lasting, sturdy designs, you will never regret having made your decision in its favor.

Now coming to the next choice – what if you are living in a rented apartment that you are going to move out from in a year or two at most, and would not like to lug your stuff along thereafter. In such a case, you would be better off investing in furniture that would last about as long as you desire it to- which in your case is just a couple of years. You could go in for decent wood laminates which offer the same functionality, while not being nearly as expensive as wood. It will save you the trouble of having to worry what to do with your furniture when you are moving as it would have lived its minimum life. The lower cost and life does not mean, however, that you have to compromise on design, as any good dealer will offer you a large variety of design to suit your tastes and needs. From modern to traditional, all types are available in this versatile material that also fits comfortably into any pocket.

If you are looking at pure smart prototypes to go with the latest designs, glass offers varieties that are hard to ignore. From simple glass tops to total glass molded furniture, you can choose depending on your individual taste. Colored, etched or smoked glass furniture is bound to add an elegance that reflects your panache and taste. A word of caution, however, for those with small children. Glass furniture may cause injuries as it is prone to breakage due to rough handling. Also do be careful that your purchase does not have any sharp or rough edges that have the potential to cause injury, besides the furniture looking ungainly and short of good taste.
More about some other alternatives in my next article. Be sure to sign in next fortnight to look up some other interesting options before making your decision.

Seven Home Furniture Buying Tips That’ll Help You Plan Your Purchases

Whether you’re moving to a new home or updating an existing one, a few home furniture buying tips will help you be on the right track for a good look. Color, style and size will all make an impact, yet you should also take into consideration the comfort and durability of the home furniture that you purchase. Your home is where you can get away from work for rest and relaxation, even if you work out of your house. Think about making your home as comfortable and inviting as possible when buying home furniture with a few of the tips below.

A white room is easy to decorate. If you are buying a new home with white walls and are considering paint and new furniture, remember that almost anything goes with white and you may not need to paint. If you are uncomfortable with a color on your walls, think about painting white.

Purchase furniture that tolerates roughhousing. That is, if you have children, playful friends or pets. Make sure the furniture has been tested if you have these conditions. Durable furniture is well worth the value.

Adapt home furniture for size of room. If a room is big, create a cozy human scale with a high backed sofa and a tea height table between them. When you have a small room with lower ceilings, your home furniture buying should concentrate on low profile sofas, tables and beds. A sense of scale is much more calming and easy to look at.

High coffee tables are more functional. When you think about it, it’s nice not to have to reach down so far to pick up a drink glass or a magazine off of a living room table. Tea height tables are great to work more comfortably. With many televisions that are found in so many of our living rooms now hung on the wall instead of on the floor, it makes it easier to view with a taller table.

Flow is necessary from room to room. When on a home furniture buying trip, be sure to use complementary accents from room to room that enhance the course. A piece of art with red hung in the hall will match the red sofa accent pillows which match the red dining room chair cushions. Purchasing accessories with your home furniture is important too.
Check for a warranty. When you are spending a great deal of money on furniture for your home, it’s a good idea to see if there is any sort of warranty for the pieces. Just as you like a warranty for your refrigerator or television set, a warranty on furniture is important to have against broken sofa springs, chair legs and fabrics.

Shop around. See what is available for your living room, dining room and bedrooms. When you have an idea of what’s available, it’s easier to make a final decision. No one piece will “make” a room, but when you find a special item, you can build around it.

Home furniture buying is fun, especially when you have a plan and are prepared to shop.

What to Look For to Find the Best Home Furniture Deals

Shopping for home furniture can be very frustrating if you do it unprepared. It is always recommended to go out and do a little research first before you decide on where and what furniture you must buy. You would want to know which furniture stores in your area carry certain items and brands. Also try to ask around on where you can buy quality furniture at a good price. Take the time to ask your friends who have bought furniture on which shop sells the best and have good customer service.

Online home furniture stores are just like regular retail store. There are many of them and each of the shop is different than the other. There are shops which may carry a certain specialty and other that have a range of designs depending on your choice. Some of these stores may sell their furniture at affordable prices while others may charge at sky high amounts. Again, it is up to you to do the snooping and figuring out which stores are the best and which ones would give you your money’s value.

When you have decided on the furniture you want in your home, always make sure that what you are getting is good. You may have noticed that you have gone to different furniture stores and some of them sell the same sofa, only on the second store, it is sold for less. Researching will never hurt you and can actually save you a few bucks. There are a lot of good home furniture store that have furniture on sale. Some of these carry promotions like sales on home bedroom furniture or home bathroom furniture. Find out shops that have these kinds of promotions, usually you can save a lot when you buy things on sale.

When making your purchase of home decor furniture final, try and make sure that you have asked the owner or the salesman enough information about your item. There are some items that may need special caring or others that need to be cleaned in a different manner. If what you are getting is furniture made of wood, ask on what is the best way to keep it looking polished. Years from the time you have bought the item, the wood may look old or worn but these salesmen know the trick on how maintain your furniture.

Do not be fooled with set items that you may think come in cheaper. Always solve for the price of each. Some items are really less when bought in set, but it does not hurt to ask the salesman more about the set. Sometimes, you may be spending more than what you should have without realizing it. Take your time when buying home furniture. It is okay if you cannot buy and choose everything within the day. Also take into consideration things like the available space that you have in your home, the color of your walls or the carpet that you have. A lot of times, these things matter because even though you have elegant furniture, if it does not match your home, it will look out of place.

Benefits of Buying Home Furniture Online

You get a much wider choice when you buy home furniture online than from a physical mall store. This is particularly true when you visit the website of a distributor or dealership rather than a manufacturer. While the latter is restricted to its own range of products, a distributor can offer you the range offered by each of multiple manufacturers.

For example, the Stickley website will offer only Stickley furniture while a distributor can offer Stickley, Simply Amish, The Custom Shoppe, Southwood and Sherrill furniture, and also great mattresses from Jamison besides. That is surely better than having to choose from just one company’s range of products!

A Wider Choice of Home Furniture

This is one of the greatest benefits of buying home furniture online: you get a wider choice, and not just of the traditional type of furniture. You might want a beautifully upholstered sofa and armchair suite from Southwood Furniture, perhaps in a period Queen Anne style or in a delicately slender Thomas Sheraton design.

However, on browsing further through the distributor website you might come across some beautifully plain Simply Amish furniture that could get you thinking along a different line – rather than sumptuously upholstered period furniture for your living room you might like the idea of a style more fundamental to the original pioneers.

Perhaps a traditional hickory rocker, or an aspen sofa and chairs furnished with comfortable cushions rather than fully upholstered. Maybe even a comfortable four post glider for something different, and you could introduce a touch of modernity with an Amish entertainment center, accommodating a large LCD flat screen TV set and hi-fi unit.

Get New Ideas With Online Furniture Stores

When they set out to buy home furniture, most people will have something in mind, but they will also be unaware of all the options available to them. It’s only by browsing that you get exposed to fresh ideas and options that may never have entered your head. By visiting a mall furniture store you see only what that one store stocks, and you will even more restricted if that store is a single manufacturing outlet.

That’s like going to a sports shop that sells only Titleist golf balls or Slazenger tennis racquets! It is so restrictive! Few would visit a sports store like that, so why do so when you are looking for furniture? Furnishing your home is an expensive thing to do, so you would think that the greater choice you had the better!

Discounts Might be Available

Not only choice in design, style or manufacturer, but also choice in price! When you buy online you can often get discounts not available from offline stores, since the online facility is less expensive to maintain than a mall store. It’s a fact that many businesses that have both an offline and online sales outlet can reduce their prices because the online sales are able to finance part of the cost of maintaining a mall store: rental, rates, staff pay, power costs and so on.

You have none of that with an online store – or at least very little. You have staff to pay of course, but that’s about it. Then you get all the other benefits that an online operation can offer. The major of these is information: if the internet is good for one thing it is for the provision of information. Not only can an online furniture store offer you its entire range of products to look at on your screen, but it can also provide you with specifications of each piece.

Online Room Space Planning
The dimensions of every piece of furniture are at your fingertips, enabling you to easily plan how it fits into your room. You can use online room space planning software to fit each item into your room – and you have the firm’s entire stock to play with, not just the pieces they are able to display in their showroom.

Add to these benefits the fact that you are under no pressure to buy. They might mean well, but how often have you been annoyed by pushy sales staff trying to ‘help’ you come to a decision? You would feel self-conscious if you wandered around a mall home furniture store for 3-4 hours without making a purchase!

By purchasing home furniture online you do not need to travel and can make your decisions while you sip a cocktail on your sofa. Then order, pay, check the insurance or warranty and arrange delivery without even standing up, let alone leave the house!

Summary of Benefits

Here is a summary of the benefits of buying home furniture online that we have just discussed:

• A wider choice of furniture manufacturers
• View 100% of firm’s stock – not just a selection
• Come across new ideas for furnishing your home
• Discount prices
• All specifications and dimensions immediately available
• Online room space planning facilities
• No sales staff to bother you
• Take as long as you like to choose
• No traveling: choose from the comfort of your sofa (or buy one if not!)

You can no doubt think of more. The point being made is that you have total control over your shopping: when you do it, where you shop and how long you take when buying home furniture online.

How to Buy Home Furniture You Will Love

In the past, homeowners felt pressured to select a single decorating style and to stick to it. The goal was to present a room where all the furniture looked brand new. Today, people are more interested in conveying a sense of their own personal tastes, with rooms that look as if they were furnished over time, through careful selections.

While the eclectic decorating style can be more satisfying, it can present its own set of challenges, too. Too many disparate elements can make a room look unorganized and chaotic. Here are a few tips on how to shop home furniture stores, whether online or in person, for furniture that you’ll love just as much when you get it home.

Unifying Elements

Just as a piece of music uses a repetitive drum beat or base line to establish a rhythm, a well-designed room uses repetition to establish a visual rhythm, a pattern that helps to unify the room, presenting it as a cohesive whole. Colors, materials and textures in house furniture can all be used as unifying elements.

For example, the distinctive texture and color of leather home furniture can be used throughout the room to unify the furniture décor. A side table with pictures framed in leather, a wooden console table in the same shade as the leather, and wallpaper in varying shades of the same hue, would help unify the room by expanding the rich feel and deep color of leather throughout the room.

Interesting Accents

Just as music needs melody as well as rhythm, home furniture needs more that repetitive elements to make the room an interesting space. Colors, materials and textures can be used as contrasting elements, too. Elements that would play well against the weight and mass of leather house furniture include metallic lamps, to add polish and gleam, glass tables, to lighten the look, and colors like celadon or fawn, to soften the overall color palette.

Establishing a Mood

Music with melody and rhythm is likely to convey a specific mood. Determining what mood is wanted from a room, before shopping at home furniture stores, helps inform furniture selections. Every room has atmosphere, whether intended or not. Rooms can be invigorating or soothing. They can establish a feeling of luxury or carefree fun. With some forethought, they can surround you with the environment that best suits your own personality.

You’re the Star

When music is personally meaningful, the artist gets most of the glory. To ensure that your rooms best represent your personality, only purchase furniture that you love from home furniture stores. While creating a cohesive room that establishes the right environment is important, each element of the room should give you pleasure. Set the rhythm, add the melody, create a mood, then go ahead and sing.

Tips When Buying Home Furniture

When buying for home furniture, there are a lot of tips that you need to be aware of in order to get the best out of the quality and from the price. There are numerous stores that sell furniture for the home and you may get confused on which place is the best for you. It is never recommended to buy the first furniture that you like. Always look for more items and selections first so that you can make sure that what you are buying is the best in the market.

The bedroom is one place in your home that you may want to redecorate. When choosing home bedroom furniture the best tip to follow is finding the best and the most comfortable. The bedroom is your private sanctuary and it is very important that your bedroom furniture is comfortable. For instance, when you are buying a bed for your room, choose the one that you find at ease with. Do not be afraid to test out the bed, its foam and how it feels once you lay on it. Also do not forget to measure the size of the bed that it can fit perfectly in your room. For the home bathroom furniture, choose the ones that can fit into the space of your bathroom. Keep it elegant and simple.

For the furniture in your home, the trick is finding the perfect design and color that can match your place. One home furniture store can carry countless furniture that have different color, designs and materials to suit your home. Some of them may have offers of making made to order furniture if you cannot find the design and the color that you want. These made to order furniture may cost more than the regular ones in the store, but if you have the budget and you are willing to wait, this could ensure that you will get the furniture that you want. When shopping for home furniture, it is important that you are getting items that are of good quality. You may want your furniture to last for years. Paying for cheap but low quality furniture will only cost you more in the long run because you will need to repair or buy new furniture from time to time.

When choosing the sofas or armchair of your living room, the rule is like that of the bedroom, choose the sofa or armchair that can give you comfort. Your guests or family will be sitting in these sofas when you get together or watch television, a comfortable sofa means a lot. Also make sure that the sofa can match your room color. It does not have to be the same color, but something that can compliment your home. There is also other home décor furniture that you may want to add like coffee tables, side tables or a small chair or tea table. These are good furniture to add to your room if you have enough space. Overcrowding a room with furniture is never a good idea. It will only make your home look smaller and disorganized.