A little Inspiration...

Has anyone else been watching HGTV's Design Star?
Well if you have, you would have seen last weeks episode when the group splits up into two teams and they have to make over a deserving family's home inside and out.

Like usual, everyone did a great job on their task (except for Miera, that lady is crazy) but the highlight of this episode for me was the herringbone fence Stanley & Britany made.

Here's the before:

And the after:

Britany came up with the concept and Stanley constructed it.
Someone please try this and send me pictures because I love it!

Make sure you watch tonight's new episode!

All photos via

Parade Of Homes 2012

Parade Of Homes arrived to Eau Claire Wisconsin and it was up to me and my mother-in-law to critique explore the homes. Since a few of these homes politely asked that no pictures be taken , I politely snuck around taking pictures with my camera phone so please excuse the below par snap shots.
Back to the parade!

Just for some side facts, it's rare to find these homes properly decorated in this area. Most homes just exhibit the craftsmanship, which is all fine but makes for a boring tour when your looking for some character.
Luckily, there were a few homes that were worthy to blog about.
House #1 Charming & Contemporary
You walked into the mud room and this cute built in was to your left...

And to your right was this little built in desk.


Powder room.

Dining room. I love the chunky wood mantel.

Living room.

The master was lacking a little in design but the size of this room made up for it.

Master continued.

Master bath.

With a soaking tub...

House # 2. Masculine & Cozy

This house was very large with having 8,000 Sq ft. The whole back side of the house had large windows that let lots of light in and made for a beautiful country view. One of the features I loved most were all the dark, saturated colors they used.


Living room.

Master bedroom.

Master bath

This room was designed as a crafts room. Good use of space if you have plenty of it, I guess.

Oh and don't forget the basketball court. Who doesn't have one of these, right??

House # 3 We'll call this one High Ceilings because there wasn't a
whole lot more that was interesting about it.


Rec room.

They had a thing for drum pendants apparently.

And this is the master bath. I actually have this same mirror from Pier One in my bathroom but does any one else find the 2 mirrors odd? Maybe it's just me, but I was confused here. And don't get me started on the 2 different granite tops....

House # 4 The Farm House.

This was probably my favorite this year.
I told my MIL this is going to be my house...but in about 40 years. There's a special place in my heart for cute, country homes and someday I will own one. I mean come on, who doesn't like to decorate with old barn board and chicken wire?

Also, I should mention that it was down pouring as I took this picture. Like sheets of rain on my head, down pouring. I looked like a wet dog by the time I got to the house.

Part of the kitchen
(I had to be sneaky in this house. The owner was giving me the eye when I started "texting" with my phone aimed at the sink.)

I love the horizontal boards going up the stairs. 

Part of the kitchen/ Dining room.

How cute is this place setting?!

Vignette in the living room

Exposed beams in the living room.



And that about covers Parade of Homes 2012.
Wouldn't it be fun to have your own home featured in the parade?
I've been told the owners can receive discounts for being featured, sometimes up to 50% off which is amazing!

If your interested in last years tours, click here.

What is a travel agent at home?

Many people are unclear about the travel industry. Travel agents are often thought to be the same as real estate agents. Become a travel agent or, more precisely, a travel agent based in the home is an exciting career change or retirement option. Some people do this full time, while many do as a part time business.

A travel agent books travel for customers and is paid by suppliers a commission in the reserve. For bookings that suppliers do not pay fees to a travel agent can also charge the customer a service fee to his own time. An example is if you were to book a hotel for a client, the hotel, then sent a check to the agency after the client checked. Most hotels pay 10% of hotel price excluding taxes and fees. A $ 100 per night hotel reservation would mean $ 10 a night for the travel agent who made the booking. This hotel would cost the same whether the customer uses a travel agent or books through the hotel directly. In many cases, the travel agent can get a better price. It costs nothing to use your travel agent if the travel agent charges a service fee.

Can anyone do this? To work with suppliers, you must have an account established with the supplier. Most require an agency to maintain an IATAN, CLIA or ARC number. IATAN is the International Airlines Travel Agent. CLIA stands for Cruise Lines International Association. Airline Reporting Corporation ARC represents. Each of these memberships requires different things, including sales, money in bank charges, experience or training in the industry, and membership. Many of them require an errors and omissions insurance of $ 1,000,000 or more.

For the travel agency on average, members is not a possibility with some organizations so the agent will be joining an agency and work as an independent agent or foreign agent. There are also benefits of working with an agency because most travel agencies can not make enough in sales to a particular supplier to obtain higher levels of commissions and bonuses. Work with an agency with many agents may increase the commission percentages the agent gets because of the combined sales of all agents of the agency. Support is also very important to be an effective agent. Agents who do not work with others tend to feel more isolated and have to learn to do it alone. Since no agent can have the experience of being in all regions of the world or stay in each hotel or resort, with others, you can get advice is really helpful.

The future of travel agencies is always questioned. The truth is that the industry has changed in many ways. Some changes were for the better, some worse. Many airlines have cut commissions to travel agents. However, there are many other suppliers who pay travel agents more than they were ten years ago. Cruises used to be reserved only for the rich and now accounting profit on each tour. Every year, people will increasingly on cruises. Most people say they want to cruise at least once, and many who are first-come home to want to book another.

You can earn commissions on travel bookings many.

Car rental
Package tours
Some tickets
The international airline tickets
Travel Insurance
Ground transportation, including limousines
Tickets for attractions
Train tickets

People need all the travel arrangements at some point in time. Those who take road trips need hotel reservations. Those who need to travel for business need airline tickets, car rentals and hotel reservations. Families want to experience a holiday with their families. People visit family and friends. Most people who win money say they will have to take a vacation. The newlyweds go on their honeymoon. You may not sell something that is a hard sell. People contact you to help you, you will not be calling them or approaching them trying to sell something you do not want.

Public education is the most important part of any travel agent to do. Most people put travel agents in the same category as real estate agents. They believe that the additional costs of using a travel agent. This is not true. In many cases, a travel agent can get a better rate than the general public through the suppliers who work only with travel agents. Many people do not know all the options to book a holiday. A good travel agent does. Once people are educated on how a travel agent, you get paid, they are more willing to work with travel agencies. If a person knows that if he or she let you book a hotel and will cost the same price regardless, he or she will work with you. It is important that people know how you can help save time and money on their travel arrangements.

So how to enter the industry? Many people think he should go to school or obtain certification. This is not true. You can enter the industry and begin training. I do not recommend anyone spend thousands on a trip to school, he or she knows it's a race he or she really wants to pursue. The truth is that you do not have to spend thousands of dollars for training. There are many free travel agents course providers. There are also organizations such as ICTA (Institute of Certified Travel Agents) who offer courses that the experience of many years in the industry. CLIA also offers courses. There are some agencies that offer training. Even if you decide that this is a career that would like to continue, it is not necessary to spend thousands to become a travel agent educated and skilled. There are many courses you can take with suppliers and organizations get a better education in travel. I truly believe "a practical approach is the best way to become a better travel agent. Learning to work with suppliers and how to find the information your customers need is an important part of becoming a good travel agent.

How can you find an agency to work? There are few organizations dedicated to independent travel agents. NACTA and OSSN are the main organizations. NACTA represents the National Association of Travel Agents on request. Network OSSN means sales outside support. You can also search online at home programs for travel agents. I would never recommend anyone to spend a lot of money to get started. Key to try first and see if it's something you really want to make and receive training before investing too much money in it. Get involved in the industry first and see if it's really a career that suits you best.

Little Updates

I managed to fit in a few small updates to the bedroom this 
weekend in between yard work and more yard work.
First, I painted my plain white lamp shades dark teal and I'm really liking the effect.

I felt like this side of the room needed some dark, saturated colors 
so I whipped out some acrylic paint I had stashed away and painted it on with a foam brush.

My next little bedroom update is I finally hung some art above the dresser.
I found a set of vintage metal wall frames while thrifting and used one of the free print outs I posted about last week to fill them.


So there's my little update.
Teal lamp shades...

Horse art...

And a sleepy cat.
He's not really an update, just more of a lazy blob.