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I've collected several photos through the image search feature on Google. If any of the featured images are yours, please contact me so I can add a credit if I haven't done so already. I will also gladly remove an image upon request. And please return the favor of crediting: if you use one of my photos, please link back to me! Thanks for all the inspiration!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Boudoir Photography - My Wedding Gift To My Future Hubby!

I know I just made a post about keeping things secret from Chris, but I can't not post about his wedding gift! I'm doing a boudoir session with Lindsi and making Chris a "little black book" with the images. And because I'll be the guinea pig for Lindsi's first boudoir session, I'm getting an awesome rate!

If you've never heard of boudoir photography before, think of it as a risque version of a bridal portrait session. It's kind of like bridal pin-up. Depending on the bride's level of exhibition, these photos can range from fully clothed bridal lingerie to nothing at all. I'm going with a classy middle ground. ;)

Time for inspiration photos!

First up is traditional bridal boudoir. I'm definitely getting one set of lingerie all in white. Victoria's Secret is going to love me in a few months. And I may have to get a "prop" veil for the occasion as well. Maybe I can borrow one from one of my married friends? *cough*Amanda*cough*Leslie* :) I'll have to add some red lipstick to up the ante on the white lingerie.

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Sexy/mysterious boudoir:

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I love this photo! Probably too elaborate of an outfit for me to get my hands on something similar, but I love it nonetheless!

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How cool would it be if I bought a wig and became a different person for a few of the photos. Might as well run with the "fantasy" of boudoir while I'm at it!

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Theme boudoir. I absolutely love the sports' jersey photos. Chris will love that as well. I already have a UGA jersey and socks like this:

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I like that this one showcases the ring as well:

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I may have to channel my inner Jessica Simpson for this one. I have an apron that says "Domestic Diva" on the front. I'll definitely be playing with Chris's traditional side by doing a "housewife" photo.

We're planning on holding the session towards the end of summer when I'll be in better shape and have more free time. I'm scouting out hotels that have exceptional decor as the background for our shoot and I've already been scouring lingerie sites for ideas on my outfits. I'll keep everyone updated as the plans come together and of course, when I get the photos! As with the wedding dress photos, they'll be posted in my private Photobucket account until after I give Chris his gift.

My Dream Wedding Gown!

Because I never know if Chris may get bored one day and decide to go snooping, I won't be posting pictures of the dress here until after the wedding. So instead, I've set up a private Photobucket account with a guest password that has pictures of the dream gown. So if you're itching to see it, go here! Leave your email addy in the comment section so I can send you the guest password.

I can tell you this: it's a Jim Hjelm and fits perfectly into my Southern Romantic Charm theme and no other dress I've tried on can touch how fabulous it looks on me and makes me feel. :)

EDIT: You can now go HERE to see the gown without a password!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Running of the Brides Rant & Rave Recap!

I've been putting this entry off because I knew it would be LONG & time-consuming. This week has really taken everything out of me. I'm drained to the point of a possible mental breakdown. As I write, I keep thinking that I might just call it a night by 9:30. But I've started, so now I must finish!

Running of the Brides was absolute chaos! I was prepared in terms of team organization, signs, mirror, etc., but I just wasn't prepared for a lot of things thrown my way the week leading up to the event.

First to go wrong was the "free" part of the contest I won back in February. The contest coordinators, Atlanta Occasions, really dropped the ball on the specifics of my winnings. I hate to throw anyone under the bus, but one of the reasons for me starting this blog was to be honest about my entire wedding planning experience and to give valuable insight to other soon-to-be-brides out in cyberspace about potential vendors and such.

Anyways, the contest description was for a FREE gown at the Running of the Brides plus team uniforms for the event. However, I got an email just 9 days before the event from a coordinator saying that she had my $249 Filene's Basement gift certificate for me. I was like "HUH?" There was absolutely NO fine print or mention of a gift card. I was under the impression that I would pick out a dress, my name would be on a list at the register, and I'd walk out not paying a dime. She tried to "assure me" that 90% of the gowns were sold at the $249 price range. But that wouldn't cover the taxes or the fact that I could end up picking a gown in the $499 or $699 range. There wasn't even a mention about the team uniforms. I sent her a polite email basically asking what happened to the original terms. And I basically got an email back saying that since they didn't have a big turnout with the contest entries, I got the shaft. I was not pleased with this. I had already re-budgeted the money saved for the ROTBs by paying more on my photographer deposit and putting down money for the reception & ceremony sites early. But I sucked it up because of two things: 1.) $249 is better than $0, especially in this economy and as a college student planning a budget wedding and 2.) I very well could find my dream dress at $249.

Then, my team started to shrink. I had originally planned on having 4 of my 6 bridesmaids, my mom and my FMIL all come with me for help (so 7 total including me). The two BMs who couldn't come to begin with had legit reasons ahead of time (one is an accountant in the middle of tax season and the other just moved to Ohio after accepting a reporter position). Of the remaining 4, one of them couldn't get out of a test the day of the event, and my FSIL had serious medical problems arise and was advised by her doctor not to drive. Because my FSIL couldn't drive to pick up FMIL, FMIL didn't feel comfortable driving up after being sick herself the whole week. So everyone that couldn't come had real reasons for not being able to, but I still got stuck with only 3 helpers. It dramatically changed our gameplan. Since I had to try on the dresses, that only left 1 person to man the dress pile, and 2 people to trade & bargain & find dresses for me.

Moreover, the Wednesday before the event, I pinched a nerve in my neck! I literally wasn't able to get out of the bed until about 3 hours before we left for Atlanta. I still don't know how I made it through all that craziness!

Okay, enough with all the negatives. I DID have fun and it's one of those experiences that I'm glad to have had. One day I'll tell my kids and grandkids about it! On to the pictures!

Here's my "team" shortly after we arrived at about 7 am. We had planned to get there at 6 am, but because I foolishly forgot my gift card back home the night before (which forced me and Ashley to drive the 1.5 hour late night roundtrip back to get it), we decided to sleep in a bit. I also came up with a quick, cheap, & easy theme for our team after finding out that we weren't getting our free uniforms. I had the girls wear red GA shirts and bought them whistles and Ashley donated some spirit poms. We were Operation: Finish the Drill. If you like GA football, you know what I'm talking about. ;) I guess we forgot our "eye black" in the hustle and bustle of the morning.

While Ashley and I were back in Athens retrieving the gift card, we decided to stop off at Wally World to get supplies for a couple of signs and made them before returning back to Atlanta. Here's Amanda (and bless her heart, she was braving the cold while recovering from one) proudly holding her sign.

I had designed uniforms for my team before finding out I won the ROTBs contest. Had I known they'd go back on the prizes they promised, I would have placed the order for these:

Everyone's shirt would be customized with their title on the front and name on the back.

Here's an example of a team with a uniform that was standing right in front of us in line. I think the idea was cute overall, but I'm not so sure about the basketball-shaped whistles and bunny ears? Maybe they were to locate each other better?

I talked to them and the bride told me her fiance created their uniforms! I like that they had their duty titles on the back of the jerseys. I guess I'm partial to their uniforms since they were close to what I had designed for my team and they had pink in them!

At a little after 8 am, the real madness began! (see previous video to get a feeling for it) This picture illustrates the point in time when I had a "bridezilla" moment. Basically, we'd been standing in line for an hour, the doors open, everyone takes off, but then people from BEHIND us starting running AROUND the line to cut. Suddenly the line comes to a complete stop (I'm guessing they close the doors periodically to keep from having a stampede) and we get backed up because there is no longer a single file line because of the selfish people trying to cut. So I scream out to everyone that if they would just be patient and stay in line, we'd get in a lot quicker than by doing what they were doing. Ugh. I have no patience for impatience, lol. I mean, these girls might as well have just stood across the street from the entrance and then ran and cut when the doors were opened. *insert synonym for female dogs*

So, we're FINALLY inside! We immediately got separated after we chose a changing spot and it took at least 15 minutes to even get our hands on a dress to start bargaining with (we missed the dresses on the rack by about 5 teams). After begging to a mega group to just let me have 1 of their 60-something dresses, the bargaining & trading began! Here's some of the gowns I tried on:

This is the same gown that I made into a "trumpet-style" by pulling the back tight. Because there were virtually NO trumpet-style gowns, I had to envision what I could do with some good alterations.

Another dress that I seriously thought of purchasing. But because of the gift card fiasco, I didn't have the required $450 plus tax difference as this and the previous gown were $699.

Mom looked so cute being our "sitter". She said she had a hard time guarding our few "keep" gowns from overzealous brides. I could tell she was over the excitement of the event after about 5 minutes. :(

This is the dress I ended up taking home. It was by no means my dream gown, but it was $249 and had potential. I could make it a tighter fit & flare and cut the chest into a V-neck. And if I still wasn't happy, it was essentially a free dress that I could sell on Ebay for profit to go towards my dream gown!

Well, to make an already long story a bit shorter, I decided to sell this dress and buy the dress I've had an eye on for awhile now. Immediately after the ROTBs and lunch, we drove across the country (okay, it was only to Peachtree City, but it felt like an eternity through downtown rush hour Atlanta traffic) and I tried on the gown of my dreams! See next entry for more details!

Okay, here are my tips for future running brides:

BEFORE the Event:

*Know exactly what you want ahead of time & try those styles on at local bridal salons to get a rough estimate of your gown size. Keep in mind though that designer gowns run VERY small.
* Book your hotel near the event & set your GPS the night before.
* Make a list of everything you need & check them off as you pack them. Don't forget your $$$!
*Bring a full lenght mirror.
*Gather your team, assign duties, & brief them on what you want (preferrably with photo references). I would suggest having at least 3 helpers but no more than 6.
*Duties include: sitter/protector (finds a changing spot and guards dresses in your possession), negiotiator (takes gowns you don't want and bargains to find ones you may like), changer (helps you try on the gowns), grabber (someone who just finds dresses off the racks or unattended to bring back for trying on or to give to negiotiator).
*Leave young children at home. If they're under about 15, they shouldn't be there. I actually saw a few women with babies and wanted to hit them.
*Get plenty of sleep & eat a filling breakfast!
*Dress accordingly for the wait in line & for stripping down to your undies in front of hundreds of people (including guys and media).
*Get there early but not too early. One team got there at 11:30 am the previous day and walked out empty-handed. Just remember that your dream dress might not be there, so don't go overboard.
*Don't freak out about the long line. It's mostly made up of helpers, not brides-to-be.

DURING the Event:

*Find a bride who is trying on dresses that you like, then ask for the ones she's giving up.
*Grab any dress and try to trade it for another. Focus on the sizes more than the style when trading. You need to know what size you need and the size of the gowns you have in hand to trade so you can go to people looking for that size.
*The gowns are not organized by size, price, or style on the racks, so don't worry about needing to go to a certain section.
*Keep in mind alteration options because you may find a gown very close but not exactly what you're looking for.
*Don't be rude. You're not a savage. I hope.
*Don't be surprised if you find torn, stained, or otherwise damaged gowns. This is the result of savages. I still hope you're not one.
*Know what you like and don't like enough to be able to visually say yes or no to a dress at least 90% of the time. This saves time because you can skip trying them on and give them to your negiotiator to bring in new dresses. If you wanted to take your time trying on gowns, ROTBs isn't for you.
*Don't hoard gowns. As soon as you know you don't like it, send it back out. There are some really small teams and timid brides who will appreciate that.
*Remember that the gowns are not returnable, so choose wisely!

AFTER the Event:

*Thank your team until you're blue in the face. :)

And the most important tip of all:

Decide whether you want the full experience of the ROTBs or just the chance to find a discount dress ahead of time. I'm glad I had the experience, but because the gown I wanted was so specific, I didn't leave with my dream dress. We arrived at 7 am and left a little after 10 am. By that time, most of the dresses were back on the racks and there was no longer any chaos. We would have been just as well off going later than earlier. But hindsight is 20/20. If you can't decide whether to go early or late, I would say that if you don't have a specific idea for a gown or aren't picky, go later. They had plenty of two piece, sheath & ball down style gowns, but nearly no fitted styles.

I hope I have shed some light on this world famous event and once in a lifetime experience. Thanks for bearing with me through the longest post ever. haha

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Savannah Riverboat Rehearsal Dinner Cruise...and a Ghost Tour?

I've been missing in action for almost a week because I've been completely swamped in school work. I'm in the midst of a bonafide "hell week". When it's all said and done, I will have finished 2 projects, 2 quizzes, a mock show (for my broadcast news program), an online homework, and 2 tests in less than a week! Whew!

So, in the spirit of procrastination, I figured I'd stop in for an update before Grey's Anatomy begins and I must resume the studying. Gotta keep my sanity somehow, right?

My wonderful future sister-in-law came up with an idea for the location of our rehearsal dinner: the Savannah Riverboat! She then proceeded to say things like "But we can look around!" or "You don't have to do this if you don't want to!" But I absolutely love the idea! I assured her that I think this would be the most fun for the wedding party & limited guests (I'm having a very intimate rehearsal dinner of wedding party & immediate family only).

It's even better knowing that I don't have to worry about planning for the dinner. Leslie & her mom (my FMIL) are putting the entire thing together and my FMIL has offered to foot the bill (as is the tradition of the groom's parents). I know I can trust them to put together a fabulous evening!

We'll do our rehearsal less than a mile away at our actual ceremony square, then we'll probably just walk back to River Street for the dinner cruise. I think we may try to park in a deck halfway between the two locations to split the difference on the walk back to the cars. Parking can be a little crazy in downtown Savannah and moving the cars too much may not be feasible.

After the dinner comes the REALLY fun part. I want to go on a ghost tour after the dinner cruise! I'm hoping that my budget will allow me to treat at least my wedding party to the hearse driving ghost tour, but I may have to do a walking tour instead. I'm still not sure whether I will invite the out of towners along with us (if I could find the correct wording in an invite to indicate that they're welcome but will have to pay their own way, I definitely will). I know that traditional etiquette calls for having OOTs attend the rehearsal dinner, but I'm just not feeling that. I already have a tight budget and don't really want a ton of people seeing me "practice" for the real deal. So in place of invites to the rehearsal dinner, I will make sure to give OOT care packages full of things to do while in Savannah. Hey, it's my wedding and I'll plan how I want to! :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Bridesmaid Dress Pick!

And the winner is...

The Jim Hjelm satin strapless ball gown with a "cashmere" color bodice, natural waist, inverted pleated skirt front and back & side pockets! The skirt color will be "driftwood" to match the guys' suits.

Style: jh5818

Amanda was able to try it on at the bridal salon we visited yesterday after the Running of the Brides. And although they only had one size in stock that swallowed her up, she still said (and I quote), "This is my favorite bridesmaid dress ever!" She's been in a lot of weddings, so that little comment made me feel really good. No girl wants to be "that" bride that ends up on wedding don't lists for issuing out hideous gowns.

Amanda's wearing the same color combo as pictured above (cashmere bodice & black skirt). I'm glad we looked at the color samples in the store because the mocha is basically black, so I'm going with the driftwood which is more light chocolate than it looks online. Hopefully the girls and guys will compliment each other. Here's the main inspiration for the guys' suits:

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So if any of my girls are reading this, make sure to start making appointments to get your measurements taken at local bridal salons (this is free) so I can order the dresses. I would like to order the dresses all together for a couple reasons:

1. It insures that the color is identical because the ink will come from the same lot.
2. I can get discounts for ordering more than 4 gowns at once.
3. Jim Hjelm isn't found everywhere, so as long as I have your measurements, I can go order them at one store instead of having my girls try to find stores on their own. This saves them considerable time.
4. They all come in at the same time, so we don't have to worry about who's gotten theirs and who hasn't.

I'll probably set a date to have the gowns ordered and paid for according to how long it takes the store to get them in. So girls, don't worry about money for awhile. It'll probably be close to the end of summer before we need to start stressing about making sure they're paid for and whatnot.

Sneak Peek: Running of the Brides!

My Own Little Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory

I love candy. I have a huge sweet tooth.

But a diet high in sugar doesn't exactly have a place in pre-wedding body preparation. So I've decided to put a light at the end of the wedding fitness tunnel in the form of a candy buffet at our reception! I get to have this night to splurge, so I'm not going to feel guilty about it at all.

One of Chris's classmates heard about my candy buffet plan and offered to lend me the jars she used at her wedding! That's a big check off my "purchases" list. She showed me a picture of the jars and they're absolutely gorgeous! Thanks Daphne! Here they are at her wedding:

Now I have to decide whether to do a monochromatic theme or variety of colors with the candy. And then I'll have to choose the types of candy after I do that. I could do a lot of "scooping" candy or traditional wrapped candies like you see in convenience stores. Not sure. I do know that there will be some salt water taffy in honor of Savannah! Here are some of my inspirations:

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Photo by Me

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I've also decided on our wedding favors! I really wanted something personal that fit in with not only our overall theme but also the season. Since it's an autumn wedding in the south, I chose candy apples! We can make them ourselves at a very low cost and they are absolutely charming. Who doesn't like candy apples? (okay, other than those with braces or a loose tooth or dentures, lol) More inspiration:

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There should be a lot of updating coming soon. I did the Running of the Brides yesterday morning and I've found out how many tables I need at the reception so I can start on some DIY projects. Keep tuned!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Very Own Inspiration Board!

I'm still up for some reason so I decided to make the most of my insomnia and create an inspiration board for the wedding. Without further ado, I present my "Southern Romantic Charm" inspiration board!

Click on the board to make it larger. I also added it to the bottom of the blog for permanent viewing. What do you think?

Doggie Table Numbers

I have gone back and forth and back again when it comes to ideas for table numbers. I started out thinking I'd want to do something with wine bottles like every table being named after a different type of wine. Then I thought about incorporating our engagement photos but ultimately decided that I'd use those for our guest book.

Then I came across the cutest idea from another wedding blogger! I could incorporate 3 of the most important things in my life (besides Chris) into the table numbers: my dogs! Chris and I have 3 Labrador Retrievers that are our "babies". We seriously consider them our children.

Dixie, the golden lab, is about 11 years old and Chris got her back in high school. He found her after keeping an eye on a box of puppies left behind in a park by someone. He came back at the end of the day to find only one left walking around all by herself and decided to take her home. He initially had to hide Dixie from his mom until she "warmed up" to the idea of having a dog. She grew up to be the perfect dog that basically takes care of herself. You'd be hard pressed to find her doing anything wrong.

Dixie ready for Christmas gifts! She had already gotten a sniff of the milkbones awaiting her!

Madie is our purebreed black lab. Chris got her for me for our second Christmas. She was one of the last two puppies left from her breeder. When we went to pick her out, she was the one that ran out of the front door to greet us. Her breeder proceeded to warn us about Madie being the "stink pot" of the bunch. I ultimately picked her because she seemed immediately attached to us, like she knew she had to work it to go home with us! Madie is definitely the smart dog of the group. We quickly found out that Madie can also be a bit of a diva. She's picky about what she eats, who she likes, and even when we can pet her. She never sleeps on the floor and once even nipped my butt after I spanked her as if to say "You're not the boss of me!". But I love her so much anyways! I even found out we share the same birthday when I was filling out her AKC papers! She was meant to be a part of our family!

Madie thinking she can drive. I guess she just wanted to give Chris a break as we drove back home from a 4 hour trip...

Gabby is our newest addition. She originally belonged to my little brother who got her as a gift for his now ex-girlfriend. Then my mother took her in until my oldest brother (a police officer) decided to put her in K-9 academy. But there was another labrador already there that basically showed her up and Gabby was kicked out. That's when we decided to take her in. Chris and I had been talking about getting a chocolate lab to round out the bunch and give Madie a friend (Dixie's getting old and can't take Madie's rough-housing). The idea of a 2 year old, housetrained dog with all her shots and already spayed really appealed to us. So exactly 2 years after we brought home Madie, we brought home Gabby. I've never met a dog that is as loving as Gabby in my life. She cannot stand not being touched. But that's okay because she's also the softest dog in the world. Too bad Mom didn't mention Gabby's nack for "dumpster diving". We're always having to hide garbage because little miss piggy will get into it!

Gabby doing what she does best: begging to be pet. She's literally bugging Chris as I type this!

Here's all 3 of my babies with their Valentine's gift for me: A balloon that say "Love you so doggone much!" tied to a bottle of wine! Can you believe they went to the store and picked this out all by themselves! I'm assuming Dixie bought the wine since she's the oldest. ;)

Here's the inspiration for the "doggie table numbers":

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I really like the look of the first one, but there's really no way I'm going to be able to get shots of all three dogs together like this. They're just too impatient. So I'm thinking I may just do a montage of different photos of each dog. I'm definitely going to plan a day to take them for a walk in a pretty park so I can get ton of photo options of them to do something along the lines of the second inspiration photo. I'm not sure yet if I'll put the photos in frames or use some kind of stand as pictured to raise it up for better viewing. All I know is that I'm excited at another DIY project that will enable us to include our "children" in a very special way!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our Engagement Photos!

Lindsi (our photog) just sent over the photos from our engagement photo session a couple of weeks ago! We chose the beautiful campus of the University of Georgia as our backdrop and the photos turned out AMAZING. Take a look for yourself!

Highlights from our engagement photo session with Lindsi Jones of Lindsi Jones Photography. Click on the photos for bigger versions:

We started off with pictures in the Founders' Garden which is still beautiful in the middle of winter with no full blooms. :)

After that we moved towards North Campus to get photos with the historic buildings of UGA and of course, the Arch! The Arch picture is probably my favorite because it just captures everything I love about Athens: the university, downtown, and the love of my life.

Next was the gorgeous Tanner Building. It's a renovated warehouse that is now used for art classes. This building is one of my favorites on campus even though I've never even been inside it!

Lastly, we were supposed to take photos inside Sanford Stadium where the Georgia Bulldogs play on Saturdays in the fall. However, the man who was supposed to let us in never showed up! ARGH! I'm just glad Lindsi thought to get this photo outside the ticket office before we left.

I am extemely thrilled with the outcome of the shoot! I am planning on using the photos to make a yearbook-style guest book for the wedding reception and Lindsi is helping me look into albums, so they'll definitely be more on that later.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I would have done a few things differently though for the session. Mostly, I wouldn't have worried about getting my makeup done professionally. I needed new MAC foundation anyways so thought I might as well get a free appointment out of it for the engagement photos. I asked for a very natural look with just a little emphasis on the eyes using neutral colors. However, they put a new girl on me (even though I had an appointment with someone else who is very experienced) and she basically did makeup 101. She applied tons of black eyeliner and purple eyeshadow because purple is the color that's supposed to make brown eyes stand out. She also gave me HUGE fake lashes that I had to cut down when I got home. I ended up looking very unnatural in a lot of the close up photos. What's more, the appointment took twice as long making me have to push back the photo session and lose critical light!

The other things were pretty much out of our control. We wanted pictures ringing the Chapel Bell (a big tradition after football victories) but there was a service in session and we were prohibited from doing so. Then there was the stadium fiasco which was really upsetting. I wish we had thought to go around to the front of the stadium and get a few photos with the back of the jumbo tron. But hindsight's 20/20 on that one. Like I said, I'm very glad we got what we did and all of the photos were fantastic! Lindsi was such a pleasure to work with and I can't wait to work with her again during my bridal session, rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony/reception, and *drumroll* the boudoir session that I just added on! More about that later as well! ;)

Anyways, if you'd like to see even more from our engagement session or just more of Lindsi portfolio, visit her blog here! And if you're looking to have a professional photographer for any of your photo needs, I highly recommend her. She's also willing to travel, so don't be scared if you think you live too far away from the Valdosta area. Just let her know what you're looking for and she'll work with you!