Honeymoon Registry A Popular Option
(NAPSI)—More and more brides and grooms are discovering a delightful new twist on an old wedding tradition.
Bridal registries have long been the way for engaged couples to identify exactly what they need—and want—to start their lives together. Traditionally, young couples who were establishing a home together created a registry chock-full of household items. Nowadays, however, many couples prefer a new registry trend that can help turn the honeymoon they envision into a well-planned reality.
The increasingly popular honeymoon registry lets friends and family help the bride and groom afford a trip to Fiji, the Caribbean or anywhere in the world they dream of going. Instead of purchasing an impersonal set of flatware or risking a duplicate gift, wedding guests can now contribute to unique experiences that can help make a couple’s honeymoon all the more memorable, such as sponsoring a couple’s massage, a sunset cruise, a snorkeling excursion or a helicopter tour.
As one bride, Lisa Dexter Johnson, put it: “Our honeymoon in Hawaii was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that we will always cherish. Our friends and family loved the idea of being able to help us create memories that will remind us of them.”
The only major honeymoon registry service that also offers full-service, complimentary travel planning is 1-800-Registry. It’s a free online registry that makes it simple to select unforgettable honeymoon gifts. The company will even contribute $200 to get the honeymoon fund started.
In addition, couples can make the most of their honeymoon trip with some proper planning:
• Start early. The sooner you decide where you’re going and where you’re staying, the more likely you are to get what you want at a good price. It will also give you time to arrange for passports and visas—this may take time, especially if a name change is involved.
• Go later. Many couples take the time right after their wedding to settle in and unwind and plan to take their honeymoon trip when they have more time or more money or when the destination is less expensive or less crowded.
• Get to know the destination. Check out the weather, the amenities and the costs. You can consult with a 1-800-Registry Honeymoon Specialist for all the destination details.
You can create a honeymoon registry, view a registry or learn more at www.1800registry.com or by calling (800) 256-4920.
Download article content
Vacations Mean Photos
(NAPSI)—When it’s time for that long-planned vacation, whether you’re going big—say, the London Olympic Games—or keeping it a bit more modest—the cabin by the lake—or you plan to just stay at home and relax with your family, you’ll want to remember the times with great photos.
While today’s cameras and smartphones make taking photos a snap, there are many techniques you can use to be sure your photos not only look great, but are memorable and worth keeping and sharing.
There are plenty of sites online with tips from professionals that will help you take excellent pictures. The experts at Adobe, whose Photoshop Elements software is the leader for image editing, have compiled a list of tips and tricks that work well for them.
Observe the “Rule of Thirds”
This tip will help you create an eye-pleasing composition: Don’t center your subject. Imagine a 3x3 grid. Put the important elements along the lines and where they intersect, which brings more attention to the picture than centering would.
Watch the Light and Exposure
Avoid shooting into direct sunlight. Doing this is not only harsh, it creates unwanted dark shadows and may make subjects squint. Generally, it’s best to take your photos in the morning after sunrise and right before sunset. If you must take photos in direct sunlight, here are two simple-to-follow tips: (1) Try to set things up so your subjects don’t have to look into the sun and (2) turn on your flash. Yes, even in the daytime. It will fill in shadows and produce a better exposure.
Get Up Close and Personal
Panoramas are breathtaking. But sometimes the most memorable pictures are taken not of an entire subject but of a small area of the subject—an intricate pattern on a door frame, dew on a blade of grass, a child’s eyes. These can have more impact. You can use your camera’s flower mode for sharper close-ups.
When you have more than one subject in the photo, think about how to arrange them for greater interest. Try to target a clean background: Cluttered backgrounds distract from highlighting the subjects, while plain backgrounds help emphasize your subjects. Remember to take some vertical shots. The world isn’t only horizontal.
Add the Pro’s Touch
Once you’re home, you can turn your vacation photo portfolio into something a pro would be proud of. The beauty of imaging tools, such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, is that you can focus on capturing the moment and let the software do the rest. Today’s consumer photo-editing software can help you fix flaws, adjust colors and transform photos to get the perfect shot.
For example, suppose you forgot the rule of thirds and your photo just looks out of kilter. Crop guides can help you apply the rule after the fact. Other features allow you to instantly unclutter or repair photos. It’s easy to remove unwanted elements such as objects or people.
You can also create the perfect shot, whether a portrait, group or vista, by combining the best from a series of shots. You can create an amazing panorama, for example, by stitching together a series of both vertical and horizontal shots. Also, you can produce a great group shot by taking the best from several images. Similarly, recompose your picture to any size without distorting people or buildings, or go from landscape to portrait or vice versa.
Cleaning up common flaws or enhancing images can be easy, too. You can make skies bluer, eliminate red-eye and adjust color, contrast and lighting with a few clicks.
Now that your photos look great, you’re going to want to share them. Before you do, you may want to enhance with effects, text or graphics—creating an entertaining viewing experience. Slide shows are one popular way to organize and show off your photos. You can even mix in a bit of video to take full advantage of the video capture feature of your camera. Other ways to showcase your shots include photobooks, scrapbooks, greeting cards and calendars. You can always print your photos at home and create a more traditional photo album.
Finally, the Internet gives you lots of options to share. Friends and family can view your vacation photos on YouTube, Facebook, any number of photo-sharing sites, even your personal Web page.
Download article content
Australia—A Country So Unique It Has Its Own App
(NAPSI)—From world-class cities to natural wonders, Australia is home to stunning landscapes, immersive nature and the friendliest locals around. With a country as big as Australia and with so many travel options, most can’t wait to visit, but get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start planning.
To make trip planning fun and easy, Tourism Australia has created a suite of tools, including an inspirational film found on www.Australia.com that features highlights of Australia’s top destinations and an interactive tablet app that takes you further into the stories in the film in a unique, memorable way.
The innovative new tablet application “There’s nothing like Australia” is compatible with iPad and Android™ and is presented in the form of a rich interactive coffee-table book about Australia. The multimedia content takes you through journal entries about 13 “best of Australia” destinations, providing information on world-class experiences, attractions and places to stay using striking imagery, full-screen integrated video and an itinerary planning tool.
The app takes explorers through the sights, sounds and experiences of Australia. For example, on the Great Ocean Road, surf, meet kangaroos on the golf course, hike near waterfalls and get personal with a koala. Tilt your iPad back and forth to fly a helicopter over the world-famous Twelve Apostles.
To learn about the world’s oldest culture, embark to Uluru on a voyage of self-discovery at the world’s largest monolith—an iconic symbol of the Australian outback. Experience tours with the traditional custodians of the land, the Anangu.
For another look at the outback, The Kimberley is nearly the size of California, but offers a bush and coastal experience. At El Questro Wilderness Park, experience majestic waterfalls like Amaroo Falls that are still being discovered and fish and fly over the extraordinary vistas of the tiger-striped Bungle Bungles.
Feel like visiting Kangaroo Island, which is known as a “zoo without fences”? Here, you can pet a baby kangaroo, meet a seal on the beach, and luxuriate at one of the world’s finest resorts, Southern Ocean Lodge.
Ready to head to Australia? Download the “There’s nothing like Australia” app from the iTunes store or visit www.australia.com for more information about Australia.
Download article content
by Andrea Dekker
(NAPSI)—Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway, family vacation or a quick business trip, traveling is easier when you travel smarter. Here are a few tips to help simplify the travel process, while helping to save time and money and reduce stress while you’re away.
1. Genius Gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, iPods® and cameras are all must-have items when traveling. However, they all come with chargers, cords and other accessories that can be cumbersome to carry. Thankfully, products like the Energizer® 5W Premium Universal USB Chargers make it easy to control cable clutter with smart, wraparound cable storage and are compatible with USB-powered devices. Eliminating the need for so many different power supplies and the frustration of tangled cables, these chargers turn your outlet—available in car and wall models—into a charging station.
Even better, consider consolidating technology when you can. Use your smartphone as a digital camera and GPS system to cut down on the amount of gadgets needed for a trip.
2. Smartphone Apps to Add. Booking flight and hotel reservations early can help you lock in a great fare and save you money. Manage travel itineraries with TripIt®, an app that lets you easily check in for flights, track flight status and even get alerts if your plane is delayed. More than just for transportation, this app can even hold tee times, guided tours, shows and other vacation plans.
Other apps, perfect for car trips, are the mobile versions of hotel booking sites. You can easily secure a room in a nearby city or town right from your smartphone. There are even apps that help locate nearby gas stations with the lowest prices. Download these to your smartphone for smooth sailing on the open road.
3. Smarter Spaces. With many airlines charging per bag, and some even charging for carry-ons, it’s cost effective to reduce your luggage load. Pack more efficiently with the use of a compressible Space Bag®. With no vacuum required, these reusable bags can triple the amount of space in a suitcase or duffel bag, leaving room for souvenirs.
Travel-size toiletry containers—or single-use packets of shampoo, lotion and hand sanitizers—are another great way to reduce the bulkiness of your bags, especially if you’ll only be away for a few days.
Make your next trip a bit easier by investing in these smart travel tips and you can focus on the most important thing—a memorable trip.
• Ms. Dekker is editor of Simple Organized Living.
Download article content [Top]
Passes Help Visitors Explore War Of 1812
(NAPSI)—As the nation commemorates the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the penning of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one city will take center stage.
That city is Baltimore.
During the war, the British launched an all-out bombardment of the city that lasted 24 hours. Only a small, star-shaped fort blocked their advancement but the fort’s soldiers and Baltimore’s citizens stood their ground, defending the fort and turning the battle-hardened British army back. At dawn the next day, surprised to see the flag still flying, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Today, visitors to Baltimore can stand on the ramparts at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and gaze out at the waters where Key first saw the nation’s flag during the Battle of Baltimore.
Visitors can also see Key’s original manuscript at the Maryland Historical Society and visit the home of Mary Pickersgill, where the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that flew over the fort was sewn.
Visiting these sites is easier than ever before thanks to combo tickets that make it less expensive to visit several of the city’s top attractions. These include the Star-Spangled Baltimore Pass and National Anthem by Land and Sea tours.
The National Anthem by Land tour is a 75-minute narrated trolley tour on a San Francisco−style trolley. The National Anthem by Sea tour includes a 60-minute narrated cruise.
The Preservation Society has also added 1812: Schooners and Privateers, a guided 60-minute walking tour focusing on the less-well-known Baltimoreans whose role as shipbuilders, sea captains, carpenters, innkeepers, laborers, seamstresses and militia companies helped end the “second war of independence” and start anew with a flag and national anthem. The tour visits Fell’s Point, home to more than 70 houses dating from the 1812 period—more than anywhere else in Baltimore.
Visitors are invited to discover the importance of the war through special events, exhibitions, living history and more over the next three years.
For More Information
For more information, visit www.StarSpangledBaltimore.com or call (877) BALTIMORE.
Download article content
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library Reopens Bigger, Stronger, Better
World-Class Art Exhibits Add Excitement To Grand Reopening
(NAPSI)--The revitalized National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) opens in Cedar Rapids, IA, in July 2012 with three world-class art exhibits that will draw and captivate visitors from around the world.
Now enlarged to 50,000 square feet, the museum and library celebrates its grand reopening with “Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau.” Featuring paintings, jewelry, sculptures and lithographs, the exhibition comes directly from the Mucha Foundation in Prague and London. An exhibit of this size and caliber has not appeared in the United States since 1999 and is the first of its type to appear in the Midwest.
From 1995 to 2008, the NCSML definitively stood on the banks of the Cedar River as an icon of the strength of Czechs and Slovaks everywhere. In 2008, the world watched the river reach a record-breaking flood level.
“We were just days from launching a museum expansion project when the flood occurred,” said Gail Naughton, president and CEO of NCSML. “So in keeping with our Czech and Slovak heritage, we moved forward instead of retreating.” The 1,500-ton (3 million-pounds) museum building, dedicated in 1995 by Presidents Michal Kováč (Slovakia), Bill Clinton (U.S.) and Václav Havel (Czech Republic), was moved 100 yards to an area several feet above the record flood level.
While much of the NCSML’s fine art and folklore artifacts were saved from the devastating waters, a great deal had to be refurbished and cleaned.
These refurbished NCSML artifacts can be seen in the “It All Comes Out in the Wash” display featuring beautifully embellished textiles, including the beloved kroje (folk costumes), painstakingly restored at the Chicago Conservation Center. This unique exhibition shows the vibrant colors and quality of the pieces, the largest collection of kroje outside Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The oldest pieces date to the 16th century.
“We will continue to feature our collection of kroje, Royal Dux porcelain, Egermann glassware, Bohemian crystal, folk art and political posters,” Naughton said. “Our commitment to our visitors from around the world is to keep our exhibits fresh. Czech and Slovak histories are vast and rich so we will tell these stories through revolving, captivating exhibits.”
The third grand reopening exhibit, “Weird & Wonderful: Award Winning Art for Children’s Books,” includes 76 award-winning illustrations that were honored at the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), an international competitive exhibition of children’s book illustrations that has been held in Bratislava since 1967.
“With these three awe-inspiring exhibits, we celebrate our return from a natural disaster in 2008,” Naughton said. “There is no better way to celebrate the completion of a project of this magnitude than with these art exhibits. People who come to see them won’t want to leave.
“With the generous contributions of individuals, businesses and foundations—the Czech Republic, the state of Iowa, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city of Cedar Rapids—we have a dream come true,” Naughton added.
The relocated NCSML (the only professional museum dedicated to Czech and Slovak history and culture in the world) is now three times larger, which lends itself to more exhibition galleries, an expanded research library, additional educational programming space, a new museum store and more collection storage.
The revitalized museum and library opens July 14, 2012. Go to www.NCSML.org for more details about grand reopening events and specific exhibit timelines.
Download article content
Relax: It’s Good For You
(NAPSI)—If rest is the best medicine for a hectic lifestyle, then a routine escape may be just what the doctor ordered. Regular relaxation can stave off burnout, enhance job performance, strengthen bonds with loved ones and relieve stress in long-lasting ways. So the next time you reach for your calendar to tack on another task, it may also be wise to ink in some vacation time.
If you’re like most Americans, however, this may be easier said than done. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, more than half of all U.S. workers have unused vacation time, wasting an average of nearly 70 percent of their allotted time off.
That may be one reason for the appeal of vacation ownership, otherwise known as timeshare: It provides a guaranteed vacation each year and helps you stay committed to taking that much-deserved break. In fact, timeshare enjoys an owner satisfaction rate of 85 percent and an occupancy rate that outpaces hotels by nearly 20 percent, according to the American Resort Development Association.
Other benefits of vacation ownership include:
• No Vacation Planning Hassle. Timeshare owners know they already have an excursion planned and paid for that they will enjoy.
• Consistent Vacation Experiences. One of the most common reasons for making a timeshare purchase is the desire to replicate a truly great vacation experience. After an enjoyable stay at a resort, timeshare owners want the peace of mind that comes in knowing they can count on a similar experience year after year.
• Variety When You Want It. For timeshare owners that thirst for travel adventures beyond the property they own, vacation exchange companies offer a world of possibilities. For example, RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange, offers vacation options at more than 4,000 resorts in some 100 countries.
• More Space to Roam. Timeshares are typically more spacious than hotel rooms and offer many homelike amenities such as a fully equipped kitchen, dining room and living room. This can ensure plenty of space to relax and unwind and is particularly helpful for families and groups traveling together.
Those considering vacation ownership can learn more at www.vacationbetter.org or can even sample the timeshare experience firsthand before they purchase by booking a stay through Endless Vacation Rentals at www.evrentals.com, which lets consumers rent available units at resorts around the world.
Download article content
Memorial Museum Keeps Legacy Of World War II Airmen Alive
(NAPSI)—A museum has taken on the urgent task of preserving the history of World War II airmen. Many of the “greatest generation” signed up to fight and fly when they were only in their teens or 20s.
John Keema was a 21-year-old airman aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress of the 390th Bombardment Group on August 24, 1943. On a raid over E´vreux-Fauville, France, his aircraft was hit by German anti-aircraft fire. A friend and crewmember of Keema’s was killed and four others wounded. His crippled B-17 ditched in the English Channel, where the survivors were rescued at sea. It was his second mission.
“Youthful excitement about finally being in combat was quickly shattered by the bitter truth of war: Men die,” said Keema, now 90. “My friend died.”
The 390th Bombardment Group was a part of the 8th Air Force, based in England during WW II.
Of the 350,000 men and women of the 8th Air Force, 54,000 were killed or taken prisoner, among the highest casualty rates of any unit during the war.
A Time When Young Men Came of Age
The average age of an officer aboard a B-17 was 24. Many enlisted crewmembers were still in their teens. Today, these special veterans are rapidly passing into history. The 390th Memorial Museum located in Tucson, Arizona, is preserving their legacy.
Stories like Keema’s are vital to that mission.
“We want the memories of the veterans to live on through the museum,” said Emile Therrien, executive director of the museum. “We encourage anyone associated with the 390th, or their descendants, to tell us their story.”
More than 3,000 men and women served with the 390th during WW II. From 1943−1945, the group flew 301 missions over Europe with a loss of 181 aircraft, and 714 crewmen paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Honoring Their Courage and Sacrifice
In addition to its mission of recording the oral history of the 390th and others from the “greatest generation,” the museum is home to the Joseph A. Moller Library, a research center for the Air Campaign of Central Europe. The museum houses over 90,000 pages and more than 10,000 photographs documenting the combat history of the 390th, along with memorabilia and historical artifacts from the air war over Europe.
The centerpiece of the museum is a beautifully restored B-17 airplane. Known as the Flying Fortress, it became the most recognizable symbol of the European air war.
For more information on the museum, to make a donation or tell your story, visit www.390th.org.
Download article content