Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet Aubrey

Back in this post I introduced you to my sister-in-law Katie and showed you the nursery wall art I made for my soon-to-be niece.

Well I am happy to announce our little niece has arrived and is cute as good could be. Aubrey Hessen was born on August 25th weighing in at 8 pounds 5 ounces.Aubrey is my brother's second child and they are now a beautiful family of four. Tommy and Katie are such dedicated and caring parents. JD and I have always been close to them and are so blessed to have them in our lives. They always go through every major milestone in life before us and have a lot of helpful advice and counsel to offer.
Little T is now a big brother (just 15 months older) and loves his little sister.
I absolutely love Aubrey's nursery. It's calming and purple--my favorite color.
Here is the wall art I made:Today is my brother's birthday. Happy Birthday Tommy! You are a great brother, dad, husband, and son. Thank you for always being there for us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wedding at Pen Ryn Mansion

Well friends, we survived our crazy wedding month and LOVED every minute of it. (in case you missed the first 2 check out wedding 1 and wedding 2)

3 rehearsal dinners. 3 outdoor weddings. 3 dresses. 2 tux rentals. 3 different cities. 2 hotels. took 196 pictures. drove 694 miles.

This weekend we drove to Holland, PA in Bucks County, which is about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia, to celebrate Vicki and Keith's wedding. Vicki and I were roommates all throughout college. She was in my wedding and is one of the kindest and most caring friends I have.

They had their ceremony and reception at a beautiful mansion overlooking the water.

The Rehearsal:
Wedding Day:
The After Party: Parx Casino
Another fabulous wedding down in the books. It was so great to see Vicki and Keith get married and have the 4 college roomies united again.

p.s. did I mention I won $78.00 on the slot machines?! wohoo!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Video Blog: Shopping & Saving for Fall Decor

On countless blogs and facebook statues I've seen people referencing fall. How much they love the cooler days, anxiously awaiting pumpkin pie, switching out their fall wardrobe, the start of football season etc. I was ready to decorate for fall and realized I only had one pumpkin. was time to shop!

I always go shopping, find my deals then come back and write about them. This time I thought I'd bring you along for the ride. So I grabbed my camera, cameraman and off we went. It's my first video blog experience, so here it goes.

I came home and the decorating began. I only spent $15.00 in the video above and I needed a few more things. So I left the camera (and cameraman) behind and went back out to Michaels. I purchased a few more things you didn't see.

I was going for a simple, neutral theme with a few pops of color. Let me remind you, our condo is SMALL. Our kitchen and living room are basically one big room. I have limited space to decorate and needed the perfect balance. Not too much, not too little. Little space=not much furniture=not a lot of place to put decorations.

My focus area was the window sill. I forgot to take a before picture. But it was covered with picture frames. Here's a picture from awhile ago.
Dressed up for Fall:
I took a few pictures with the morning sun and a few in the evening. It's very hard to photograph a window with good lighting.

Thoughts: Whenever you have a large space or long tabletop it's good to think of decorating with three different heights and clusters. My floral arrangement was the tallest and looked best in the center. Cluster 2 is the books with the silver pumpkin on top. It's great to use books, especially if they coordinate with your color scheme. We luckily had a book with just a little bit of orange. Cluster 3 consists of a small orange candle, a bronze pumpkin and a vase filled with acorns. I picked the acorns up from my back yard. I like the acorns because they are neutral and natural.
Coffee Table:
I just kept it simple. The wooden tray came from Michaels and was originally a frame. I took out the metal hooks and painted it a golden yellow to hold the candles and pumpkins. I also picked up that yellow dish from Michales for $1.00.

Nothing fancy, just added some pumpkins to a tin I already had and placed a candle on the sink. Smells delicious. Hot apple cider.

I really wasn't planning on putting anything in the bedroom, but I didn't use this little green pumpkin anywhere and it matches nicely in there.

Our Kitchen already has so much sitting on the counter tops. Coffee pot, microwave, toaster, knives etc. I didn't want to add any more clutter to the counter tops, so I made this sign to sit on the stove. I picked up a wood frame and orange paint from Michaels. After a lot of thought, I found this picture in a Martha Stewart Living Magazine. It's perfect for a kitchen. I cut it out, wet it, roughed it up with a sponge to look vintage and rugged and glued it in.

So the big question? How much money did I spend?
Grand Total: $45.64
$5.64 over budget is not too bad. I am very pleased with my purchases, crafts, and day of decorating.

Thoughts on the video blog? Like it? Did you laugh? Want to see more? Could go without? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

On another note, I want to thank Sassy Sites for featuring me on their blog!

Happy Fall Everyone!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Negotiating: Douglas Style

Saving is a regular part of our life, hence the name of the blog High Style on a Small Budget. Back in this post, I explained how we reduced our Internet and cable bill by $35.00 a month and added DVR just by asking. We are always looking to score a deal.

I got this idea from my brother, Tom, when he took a negotiating class while getting his Master's. He went on to explain the power of negotiating, so I thought I'd give it a try. Of course not every attempt ends in success, but it never hurts to try.

So here are a few accounts of Negotiating: Douglas Style...
(some are recent while others date back to over 2 years ago)

Date: 2 years ago Location: Bridal Store Savings: $200.00
  • This was my first attempt at negotiating so I was a bit nervous. I bought my wedding dress at Renaissance Bridal in York, PA and had a wonderful experience. Before I went I was reading reviews online and I happened to read that some stores offer a discount if you purchase a dress the first time you go. So I said to the women helping me, "I happened to read online that some stores offer discounts if you...." She said they never offer discounts but would kindly ask the manger. She came back and said, he must really like you, he is going to give you $200.00 off. Wahooo!
Date: About 2 years ago Location: J. Crew Savings: $75.00 (ish)
  • JD and I both reeled in the savings on winter coats from J.Crew. I purchased mine about 5 years ago while he got his the winter of '08. All we did was check the online price and then ask the store if they would honor the online price and they did. Some managers will and some won't. So we got the coats for cheaper and didn't pay for shipping.
  • ATTENTION TEACHERS: J. Crew always offers 10% off to teachers with proof. I take my ID or show my insurance card.
Date: Last Winter Location: Walmart Savings: $15.00
  • This one just cracks me up. Most people wouldn't think of asking for a deal in Walmart but we thought we'd give it a run. We LOVE Prison Break the TV show and could barely wait to get our paws on Season 4. We checked around for the cheapest price and Walmart came up as the winner. We were shocked to see the price in the store was $15.00 more than the online price. I wouldn't dare pay $15 more, so I tracked down the store manager which is NOT easy in the Walmart in Germantown. It's a zoo. I asked him if he would honor the online price and he said, yes. I think it was because he was so busy, but he just had me tell he cashier how much it was online. No one looked it up and they took our word. Good thing we're honest.
Date: Last Month Location: Rent Savings: $25.00 a month
  • Our landlord wanted to increase our rent and I just asked her not to and if we could go month to month instead of signing on for another year. She kindly agreed.
Date: 2 years ago Location: Circuit City Savings: $175.00
  • JD's wedding gift to us was a Samsung flat screen TV. He did a lot of research and online price matching. Still when we went to buy it, the store had it listed for $175.00 more. We just asked if they could honor the online price and again after tracking down the store manager we were swimming in another sweet deal.
Date: Last Month Location: Express Savings: $30.00
  • JD recently bought new dress pants. We rarely shop at Express so when I got the coupon I threw it away. I was kicking myself when we were checking out couponless. So I explained to the cashier that I knew they were running a promotion but didn't have my coupon and asked if there was anything he could do for us. He said sure just come back with the receipt and the coupon and they would subtract the difference. I went on to stay how inconvenient that would be for us that we live 20 minutes away...blah blah blah. He gave in :)
Tips for Saving
1. Always research any purchase and look around for the cheapest price.
2. We find many times that online prices are cheaper than in the stores. Always ask if the store can and will honor the online price. Some stores have strict polices while others are left up the store manager.
3. When negotiating be overly kind and polite. No one wants to help someone who is rude.
4. Always ask if the store or company is offering any promotions. I saved a few dollars this way when getting an oil change. I also attempted this when getting my car fixed but none of my car's needs were on special.
5. Use coupons.

I strongly encourage you to become a negotiator. Your wallet will thank you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wedding on the Water

Last weekend, we attended Paul and Becca's wedding and enjoyed spending time with all the Douglas'.

This past weekend we headed to Baltimore to the Inner Harbor for a weekend filled with the Hessen's. My older brother, Adrian, married his beautiful bride, Michelle at 5:30 pm on Saturday evening on the water at Pier 5.

I have never seen a more beautiful backdrop for a wedding. Boats floating on the water and the setting sun can't even begin to describe the view.

Again, we had so much fun. The weekend was special for a few reasons...
  • All three children are now married.
  • I got to see my 83-year-old grandma who lives in Texas.
  • Adrian married a girl perfect for him in every way.
Another wedding down in the books. Can't wait for Vicki's, my college roommate's, in two weeks.
Then we'll be done.