Monday, July 23, 2012

Team We Can Do It and the Lozilu Mud Run

A shot of the victors! :)
Over the weekend, my sisters, friends and I participated in the LoziLu Mud Run in Leesburg, VA. I had been wanting to do a mud run for a while, and that is when my friend N. found out about LoziLu. It was nearby and it was all-female, which I thought was pretty cool. So we signed up and I recruited my sisters and another one of my girlfriends, NB, to do it with us.  As a result, "Team We Can Do It" was born.

On the Lozilu website they encouraged costumes so I thought a Rosie the Riveter look would be cute. N. was the one that put the plan into action with dark blue polos and a polka dotted head scarf. We woke up bright and early, got ready at N's house and then we were on our way!

Unfortunately, on our way to the mud run Justin got a flat tire. Luckily, a cop saw us pulled over and was able to help him out. Our team's original name was "Team Shenanigans" so I guess we couldn't escape our first shenanigan despite the name change, huh?

Here we are before the race, so fresh and so clean! Unlike the weather we had been having for the past few weeks (100 degrees!), the day was overcast with partial showers. It was a true mud run in every sense of the word. I'm sure the mud run coordinators didn't have to do much to make the course extra muddy!

Here is a shot of our heat. We saw some cute costumes. Some Wonder Woman, lots of pink and lots of tutus and striped socks. We got lots of compliments on our outfits. I appreciated the fact that our costumes were very functional, simple and creative!

This was one of the first obstacles--a wall climb!

One of my favorite obstacles was this one. We had to go down this steep muddy hill into a river, then wade a bit down the river to go up another muddy hill. It was a cool way to incorporate the natural surroundings into an obstacle for the course!

All of us about to jump off a ramp. Some of these jumps were a little rough on these old woman's knees, Lol...

The course was really beautiful and scenic. We thought these plants were really cool. They were all around us and we called them pineapple cupcakes because they looked like a cross between a pineapple and a cupcake. :)

At this obstacle we channeled our inner Britney in her "Toxic" video! Lol...

This was the balance beam obstacle. It looked easy but it was tricky because this (like every other obstacle) was very slippery!

This slide was super fun! Here are my sisters going feet first.

But it was more fun going head first (like you see me doing in the background!)

We were glad to have the guys showing their support!


Overall I would say that I had a blast doing my very first mud run. Our team rocked (we were all super supportive of each other!), the mud run was well organized, and the snacks (consisting of cookies, chips, and candy) although not the healthiest were delish! Don't worry, there were some bananas and granola bars for the healthy folk but the sweet and salty snacks were the perfect ending to a fun mud run!

Here we are striking one more Rosie the Riveter pose. "Team We Can Do It"...Did it!  I can't wait until we get to do it again!

Friday, July 20, 2012

On the the Fence

So I guess no one wants our money. 

A few months back when we were deciding what to spend our tax money on, we got a few estimates from some ornamental wrought iron fencing companies. The pricing between the companies was relatively even, give or take a few hundred dollars. 

After we decided on getting the front yard fence, we tried contacting the company that was our first choice, but after a week of phone tag we decided to give up. 

There was another company we considered using (the company that did the security bars for our rear window and basement door), but we weren't sure of their ornamental wrought iron expertise. 

This is the design we we had in mind for the fence tips. Fleur-de-lis of course (A symbol of Louisville, as well as NOLA amongst other things)! Gotta keep a little bit of Kentucky in DC, right?

This what we hope the finished product will look like:

Next we reached out to another company that stopped by when we weren't home.  The guy that came by dropped off his business card in the mailbox, but never gave us an actual estimate for the work. When we followed up his visit with a phone call, he couldn't find the estimate and said he would call us back (yeah, and we're still waiting...). 

After all this run around, I thought maybe it would be better if we started from scratch, so we called yet another company for an estimate, but he didn't even show. I even called to check on his status, leaving a voicemail on his phone, and reminding him of our missed appointment.  The guy didn't even bother to return my call to issue an apology.  We were beginning to think that the market for wrought iron fence companies was a gigantic joke.  Does anyone want to work?!?! 

Right when we were about to throw in the towel on the whole situation, Justin reached out to our favorite bartender at our local watering hole (he's quite the handyman!) and he gave us a reference. 

Luckily the guy he referred us to was able to come out to our property and give us an estimate the next day. Although his estimate wasn't as favorable compared to the company that was our first choice initially, we figured we should go for it while the opportunity was there.   We weren't ready to play another round of phone tag, or have our phone call get snubbed. 

Now that we've finally found a company that appears to be willing to take our money, we first need to put down a deposit. Second, we'll need to get a building permit from DCRA.  Justin was really freaking out about getting one because he didn't want us to get caught performing illegal construction on our house without one.  Working without one can cost you a hefty penalty of $2000!  Once we get past those two steps, I guess we'll go from there...

Have any of you had the same problem with contractors? You would think that in this economy contractors would be chomping at the bit for work; however, in our situation, the companies that we dealt with were either really disorganized or just couldn't be bothered. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's a Jungle Out There!

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a good 4th of July! It was a bummer that it was in the middle of the week, but we still enjoyed oureselves to a barbeque and fireworks on our friend's rooftop.

Before this week it was "long time no see," but I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago for my family reunion and Las Vegas trip (I promise to post on that soon!). To hopefully continue this blogging "streak," I thought I'd give you an update on our tax refund renovation.

After careful consideration Justin and I decided that we would use the money toward a front yard fence. The reason now being that the backyard re-haul wasn't something we felt comfortable swinging at the moment, especially since we are now working with less money.  We are now putting some of that money into the "Joanne New Car Fund". After some pricey repairs, my ten year old car is starting to show its age and driving 30+ miles a day in bumper-to-bumper traffic is not helping help either. wah wah. 

So here's the game plan: 
  • Use one third of the money for the fence to start construction in a week or two
  • Use another third toward a fabulous international trip (time/location TBD)
  • Save the last third to put toward a car for purchase by the end of the year
Okay, now break! Lol, I kid...I just wanted to give you an update because what this post is really about is the backyard, and although we can't renovate it at the moment, it is definitely on our short list of things to do (largely in part to what we had to do last weekend...). 

Although our backyard is approximately 90% concrete slab, it has the uncanny knack of growing weeds. Not your typical dandelions, clover, and whatnot. I mean seriously 'roided out weeds that resemble something from the planet of Endor (any Star Wars fans out there?). 

These weeds are as tall as our grill (under the green cover).

Justin about to tackle the weeds
And they are freakishly weird too...

Is that a carrot? Nope, just your typical weed root. Gross,huh? I pulled it out myself. 
Anyways, with a little bit of elbow grease and some weed killer, we were able to handle the situation as it went from this:

To this:

In hopes of doing some weed prevention we placed our bricks along side our driveway. After all, if we are using the bricks to cover the dirt, then there won't be anywhere for the weeds to grow, right? Or at least that's my reasoning. :)

Nice and neat (and weed free):

I must mention that compared to last year's annual fight with the weeds, last weekend's "grill-high weeds" were the least of our problems...

WARNING! The following pictures are not for the squeamish or the faint of heart...

Behold, pictures from last year's encounter with the weeds.  When we first moved into our house, you can say that the backyard was not given the attention it should have been given.  This was mainly due to the fact that we were so busy painting rooms, decorating, etc.  The result was a back yard with weeds as tall as myself (I'm 5'3").  The positives of it all was we got the "greenery" were wanted to add to our backyard; however, it wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing sight a homeowner would want for his or her own back yard.  

The project took about a whole weekend to complete (considering that Justin was alone, sweating it out during the first day).  In the end, our joy of a "weed free" backyard was short lived.  About two-three weeks later they eventually came back.  By that time, Justin and I had given up (especially since the end of summer had come), and just lived with our new backyard friends until they died off in the Fall and Winter.  This brings me to my question to you all that have your own back yards, and prefer not to contract out the landscaping/yard services to another company.  How do you keep the weeds in your yards from coming back, after toiling in the heat, pulling them out, and then even spraying Round-Up or other weed killers?  Is there a certain process you have found to be more effective than just merely pulling the weeds out of the ground?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 2 Year Anniversary!

Wow, time does fly when you're having fun does't it? I can't believe it's been two years already? Even though we've been married for two years and together for six it feels like only yesterday that I was shooting you down, hahahahaha...just kidding! 

Anyway, to best reminisce about our special day, here is the same day edit that was shown at the end of our wedding. 

Let's hope it doesn't get taken down! :(


C:Documents and Settingsf360659DesktopJoanne and Justin from Joanne Beltrano on Vimeo.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rules of Engagement (Pics)

Hello Everybody! I hope everyone survived the weekend! A major storm tore through the DC metro area and left many without power. Luckily, the Brioni were left unscathed. Too bad I couldn't say the same for one of our neighbors one street over.

Yikes. On a brighter note (excuse the poor transition!), it's me and Justin's anniversary tomorrow and to celebrate I wanted to take a trip down memory lane, starting with our engagement session. Since we were getting married in California and our wedding was Kentucky Derby themed we couldn't think of a better place to do our e-session than the Del Mar Racetrack, the premier horse racing track in San Diego. The track is located right on the water and it provided us with stunning views and a picturesque backdrop for our photos.

Here is the beautiful fountain located in the paddock area (where the horses parade before a race)...

The up close shot made the water look like fireworks!

The archways provided unique architectural detail and complemented our attire!

I love the silhouettes in the shot but for some reason I feel like I look like a marionette! byebyebye...LOL!

Going in for the kill kiss...

I call this, "Justin's disappearing hand" since he was so pale (it was February after all) his hand seemed to disappear, ha!

And of course the picture that was featured on our save the date magnet. Even though it's been two years, I still get a smile on my face whenever I see it on someone's fridge.

A black and white pic for good measure....

And this one reminds me of high school in the 1950s. I don't know if the poses or my dress that makes it seem retro. The caption should read, "Of course I'll let you carry my books and walk me home, teehee!"

Lastly, this one is of Justin and I "placing our bets." Too bad I don't usually look this ecstatic when I place my bets at Derby. Usually I am a couple of mint juleps deep, frantically flipping through my program trying to remember the horse's names. hehehe...

So that's our engagement shoot in a nutshell. I feel that e-sessions help capture the couple's interests and personalities in photographic form. I think our photos truly captured Justin and I and the special meaning the Bluegrass state and the Kentucky Derby has for the both of us.