Saturday, September 29, 2012

REI Garage Sale

REI has a semi-annual event where they sell any defect, used, and otherwise imperfect merchandise to people that are REI Members. Jason and I joined REI a few years ago when we were purchasing our mountain bikes and they were promoting saving 20% on any full-priced item.

The membership has been great! It's lifetime so there's no annual fee and you get dividends on the things you purchase in the form of credits you can spend at the store. For more information check out their website here.

A couple years ago we stumbled upon the garage sale and have been avid attenders since. We got great deals last time on a 6-person tent, sleeping pads, and footwear (hiking boots, five fingers).

We aren't the dedicated crazy people who camped out at the store and had been there since 4 pm the previous day. But we did get there at 7 am this morning and waited in line for 2+ hours by the time we got in.

This year's haul was targeted for Norway and more cold gear and light weight camping equipment. And we made out like bandits!!! We saved over $1324.15. Check out all the gear we grabbed this morning -

-REI taku pants: retail $169, garage sale $79.83 (worn once, savings $89.17)
-Bonfire spectral pants: retail $149.95, garage sale $79.83 (nothing wrong stated or found on our inspection, probably used but with tags on still, savings $70.12)
-REI sahara convertible pants: retail $64.50, garage sale $24.83 (worn, savings $39.67)
-Smarty original cargo pants: retail $205, garage sale $99.93 (nothing wrong stated or found on our inspection, probably used but with tags on still, savings $105.07)

-REI quarter dome t2 tent: retail $279, garage sale $99.83 (person said rain fly was too small, but we checked and its fine. It's also missing stakes, no big deal, savings $179.17)
-REI igneo sleeping bag: retail $329, garage sale $99.83 (used, savings $229.17)
-Big Agnes roxy ann: retail $239.95, garage sale $99.93 (zip broken- I spent <5 min looking at the zipper and its not broken. I zipped it up perfectly. Whoever returned it was dumb. Savings $140.02)

-REI Sahara hat: retail $34.50, garage sale $14.83 (used, washed, savings $19.67;I had picked out the same hat in clearance while waiting in line to shop the sale but put it back to save the extra on the garage sale one!)
-Columbia bugaboo insulated 3-in-1 jacket: retail $175, garage sale $37.83 (and I quote "not new, but not used, no defect", savings $137.17)
-Marmot sidehill component jacket: retail $325, garage sale $37.83 (nothing on tag and we can't find anything wrong, probably used, savings $287.17)
And these weren't garage sale but just clearance items we got- 2 turtle fur neck polartec covers for $8.12 each (retail $22, savings on both $27.75)

Afterwards we grabbed lunch and then headed to Sun and Ski sports for the last few things we needed-gloves, hats, and bike stuff. I had a $300 gift certificate from the MS 150 that was about to expire and needed to be used.

Here's the haul of things we got for only $321.93 (saving ~$400)-

I think we are set now on all our winter gear with a total savings today of $1724.15!!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


The Day The Coupons Died...

Couponing has been a big part of my routine for over two years now (read about my couponing suggestions here.

I've had quite the stockpile built up in the freezer and pantry. It was a good thing too because this spring when Jason and I were training for the MS 150 bike ride, preparing for his graduation and graduation party, and making preparations for our three-week vacation outside the US, we didn't have time to grocery shop and survived 90% on the stockpile (and 10% weekly perishables like fruit, milk, and veggies).

Things haven't calmed down since our vacation either! We found out we were moving to Norway (read about that here), were approved to take the Professional Engineering exam in October, and are trying to get our house ready to sell while flying to visit our families one last time before we move.

Needless to say the couponing has taken a back burner to everything else. I even went as far (gasp) as to cancel our newspaper a couple weeks ago because I know I'm not going to get a chance to coupon anymore right now. (And believe it or not we are still surviving on the pantry and freezer stockpile though I will admit its getting quite low...perfect timing perhaps for our move in November!)

Today it hit me how much couponing has changed my grocery shopping. We needed a couple things from the store including cereal. I had a minor (okay major) panic attack when I got to that aisle. There are a lot of choices people!! I typically head straight for the cereals of which I possess coupons. I had none. So how do I choose?!?

I didn't. I called Jason. When he didn't answer I called my mom and told her I was freaking out. She said I was ridiculous and to buy Shredded Wheat. Well I knew I didn't want that! Then Jason called me back thank goodness. I rattled off some names of ones on sale (Baby steps peeps, you didn't actually expect me to get one without a coupon and full price?!?).

He choose. I left. And yes I did hesitate at the self-checkout. I also avoided going to my usual cashier who last time mentioned she hadn't seen me in awhile and asked for my coupons. However it was all for naught because the self-checkout still rubbed my lack of coupons in my face when it said "Do you have any coupons?" No! I don't!! For the first time in over two and a half years I don't have a single coupon! Breathe Darcy- it's okay to buy a box of cereal and not use a coupon. But it hurt a little bit inside.

This cereal better be good after the grief it inadvertently caused me!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, September 24, 2012


This weekend we got to see my mama in Oklahoma City and it was wonderful!! My mom and I are super close and a lot alike. She's one of the most amazing women I know and we are going to miss her and her husband Jeff tremendously when we move to Norway.

I was also able to see a few old friends while we were in town. We landed Friday night and my mom took me to see my friend Chelsea for a couple hours. She was flying to Calgary the next day so it was my only chance to see her. Her little one Cole was asleep but I got to get a peek at him in his crib. He's super cute and has gotten so big since I saw him last! Chels is already talking about coming to visit me next summer and planning for us to run a half marathon in Stavanger!

Saturday morning I had breakfast with my sorority sister Caitlyn and my friend Kate who used to live in Houston. Kate recently had her first little one Eloise who joined us for our girl's lunch as well.

It was wonderful to see both of these ladies and get an update on how their lives are going! (Lining up by height was unintended! ;-) )

The rest of the weekend we enjoyed Mom and Jeff. And how did we enjoy each other's company? Why gambling of course! (It's obviously hereditary, hehe.) we spent a few hours hitting the slots and blackjack tables before grabbing dinner at the casino's buffet. Jason and I found a great machine and quickly hit multiple feature games and overall came out about $300 ahead, one of our bests!

We spent Saturday night visiting and showing Mom and Jeff some of the apartments we are looking at in Stavanger and updating them on how everything is going.

Sunday we visited their church and stayed afterwards for their game day potluck lunch. When we got home Mom dominated all of us in pool. She used to hustle people for money when she was working and going to school. You don't want to play her...

Once we'd had our fill of being beat we showed Mom and Jeff some pictures from our trip to Peru and Honduras and spent the rest of the time before our flight relaxing and enjoying each other's company. Fortunately, we will see Mom at least one more time before we move because we are storing some of our things at their house in OKC, but I'm sure going to miss her... Until she comes to visit next summer!!! :-D

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Now THAT is a God Thing!!

Everyone that knows me knows I am a planner. As a Christian who knows she should be dependant on the Lord, these things are in conflict sometimes. I plan, the Lord throws a curve ball, I plan again, He throws another curve ball, and this cycle is repeated while any previous lessons learned are quickly forgotten.

This was the case in Jason's search for a new job. Depending on where/what he picked that would affect my career and our life plans. As Jason got closer and closer to accepting a position, I began forming my mental plans on how that would play out. It looked amazing to me and I was excited to get the Lord on board with my plans! Yeah, right. Enter God's curve ball - Norway was still on the table!

You'd think after all this practice that I would stop trying to plan things in my life. However fantastic I think my plans are, His are ALWAYS a million times better. And that was exactly the situation with ConocoPhillips and my job.

A lot of people have asked what I am going to do in Norway and if I have a job yet. It's strange, but I've had a real sense of peace that if God wants me to work, then He will open that door. It's not that I am apathetic regarding my job. I would love to continue working, but I know that it's completely out of my control at this point.

I was hoping to hear some news a few weeks ago because our reservoir engineering talent management team (group of reps from around the world who discuss promotions, moves, etc) was having it's quarterly meeting. Unfortunately the rep from Norway was on vacation and didn't call in. My rep told me "We have a plan, but until we get a chance to work out the details, I don't want to say anything to you." Fair enough. More waiting. :-)

Then a couple weeks ago my boss's boss stopped by my office and asked if I had a few minutes to talk. He told me that they were considering a swap between engineers. He went on to explain that there was another reservoir engineer in Norway with about the number of years experience as myself and about the same grade level whose husband just accepted a position with ExxonMobil in Houston.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! Another couple in pretty much the exact same position as Jason and I, looking at moving in a similar time frame, and about equal in terms of a swap in job placement for COP?

Now that is a GOD thing!!

This past Friday I received a phone call from one of the managers in Norway. He talked to me about the position they have for me in Norway and said that they would get started working on the HR process immediately to try and meet the Nov. 12 start date that Baker is targeting right now. I also mentioned to him that we would be doing our house hunting trip in October and he said that was brilliant and he would introduce me to my group while we were in town.

The job sounds absolutely amazing and I couldn't be happier. I feel SO blessed and fortunate that the Lord has created this opportunity for me to continue working and that ConocoPhillips has been such an amazing company working with us to allow me to stay with them. God is good!!


Monday, September 17, 2012

CeCe's Ear Infection :-(

Jason and I started noticing that CeCe had been keeping one of her ears down and scratching it like something was wrong. While I was attending the fabulous Houston Blogger Symposium, Jason graciously took her to the vet.

He tried to put her in a pillow case like one of our friends suggested since we still don't own a carrier, but she was not having it. This picture pretty much captures how she felt about taking another car ride...

The vet told us that she had allergies which have caused an ear infection. If she keeps getting them, then we might want to consider pin-pointing the cause. Seeing as how we are moving in two months I just hope she doesn't get anymore before we leave!

Poor kitten had to have a cream put in her ear twice a day for the next 7-10 days. I think she hates that almost as much as the car ride...

But at least she has Zoey to cuddle her!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Houston Blogger Symposium

This weekend I attended the Houston Blogger Symposium. My friend Chelsea over at The Perfect Catch signed up to attend awhile back and unfortunately it was full when I tried to register. She let me know as soon as she saw a wait list open and I hopped on! I was fortunate and the organizer Megan over at Greetings from Texas added another table and I was able to sign-up!!

The event was very well-run and attended. There were over 50 bloggers (and a wait list of over 70 now!). There were blogs about fitness, fashion, DIY, and everything in between. They had sponsors with tables selling stuff and panels with Q&A for us to get tips, tricks, and advice in blogging.

When I came home with a giant bag Jason was like, "um, I thought you were going to a blogger symposium..." I was, but how could I resist these AMAZINGLY comfortable and cute tees from Laura at Striped Shirt?!? They were a steal at just $15 each (special symposium pricing).

And what about this fabulous chevron-print shirt from The Impeccable Pig and necklace from Langford Markets!

And the rest of this swag was given to us in our goodie bags (there was also a really tasty cookie, but I ate it before I took the picture...oops)

I met some fabulous ladies whose blogs I will start stalking and got some great advice in things I'd like to do to improve my blog and reach out to a larger audience, which will be great as we begin our adventures in Norway and want to share them with everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Engineering Humor

This past week I was in Atlanta recruiting at Georgia Tech, a school with 80% engineering students. Coming from a school that's entirely math and science oriented (Colorado School of Mines) and being married to a fellow engineer, I appreciate a little nerdiness. :-)

Jason and I are both nerds. We know and accept this as a fact. Awhile ago we stumbled upon a Facebook page for an engineering group and we spent some time laughing at the following photos. They are probably only funny to fellow engineers, but give them a shot!

 (*Note: some pictures have inappropriate language)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tour of Champions!!

If you recall I blogged about being invited to the Tour of Champions back in April, which you can read about here. You have to raise at least $12,000 to qualify for the trip and I just barely scraped in with that amount of fundraising. :-)

This past weekend was the event! It was such a fun time and I enjoyed getting to meet new people and ride in a new area. (See that elevation change for Friday's ride...)

This year's TOC was in CO Springs at the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Resort. (Not a bad place to blog from, right?)

We kicked off the weekend Thursday night with a luau. We mixed and mingled before hearing about our awesome fundraising (over $1.6 million for our group of riders!).

Then we watched a video that highlighted all 130 of us TOC qualifiers and heard from people on why they ride and what the MS society means to them.

It was so inspiring and amazing to hear how so many lives are touched with our fundraising! It was a wonderful evening! I sat with some of the other ConocoPhillips riders and a few other new people. Here are a few of my favorite fellow riders!

Friday we headed out on a challenging bike ride. Despite being from CO, I have lost any altitude acclimation that I used to have!! The hills were tough, but I never walked. :-) 35 mph downhill juxtaposed with 5 mph uphill at times...Here's Jan and I getting ready to ride out!

And here's Jan and I exhausted after the hills!

We rode to Garden of the Gods and took a short break and hiked around before grabbing lunch.

We headed back and I use the hot tub to relax in the afternoon before we departed to dinner.

Everyone is on their own Friday night and so as a thank you from the ConocoPhillips team, they treat our group to dinner. There were about 20 of us (riders and guests) and we went to Warehouse Restaurant in downtown CO Springs.

We spent most of dinner ping around and introducing ourselves and talking a little about why we ride. I am by at the youngest rider (in age and years riding). It's so amazing to hear from people who have been riding for 20+ years!

Saturday I signed up for the Air Force Academy tour. I had never been on base before and thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the grounds and hear about cadet life. At breakfast I met three ladies, Alison, Kelly, and Karla, who were also going on the tour and we stayed together most of the day.

A bear greeted us on our way in to the base!

Then we walked around the grounds with our guides Jennifer and Kaisley. They bombarded a freshmen dorm room so we could see what they looked like and make sure it was up to spec (bed has to be made a certain way, etc). One of the poor boys was still asleep and had to make his bed in record time and then hide in the closet!! Fortunately our cadets gave them a positive write-up so they will get some weekend passes. :-)

Below is a picture of each classes signal which they put on their class ring and then the bridge over the grounds with the school motto.

The upper left is a memorial for any fallen Air Force graduates. The bottom left is the chapel in the background and a piece of the World Trade Towers in front for a 9/11 memorial.

After seeing the grounds we headed into the chapel. They have four different chapels for the main religions- Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist. Each has a separate entrance.

The religious services are no longer mandatory per the separation of church and state in the 70's and students can attend at the Air Force or go offsite to worship elsewhere.

The chapel was absolutely gorgeous! Our tour guide Jennifer's parents were married there!

Here is the Catholic chapel. They have 14 of these wooden crucifix portrayals and each one has a small cross somewhere in it.

Lastly we saw the Jewish and Buddhist temples. The Jewish one has these beautiful Old Testament carvings. The upper right is Solomon and the conflict between two mothers. The bottom left is Ruth and Boaz. The final picture in the bottom right is the mediation room for Buddhism.

After our tour we headed back to the hotel and hailed a can to take us to Noodles and Co. Alison went to school in Boulder and she and I both had a craving for it. We introduced Karla and Kelly to the amazingness of their mac and cheese!

We headed back to the hotel and lounged at the pool for a couple hours until it was time to head to our evening's festivities.

We headed to the USA Olympic Training Center and spent the cocktail reception walking around the gift shop and main visitor center. We also took a few goofy pictures along the way...

A torch burning that you could see outside the building and inside looking up.

Then we headed into the auditorium and watched a video with some Olympic highlights. Despite some technical difficulties, it was a great video!

Next we heard from Kelsey Campbell, a women's wrestling Olympian. She competed in the London Olympics and had the gold medalist as her first round fight. She did her best, but didn't bring home any medals. Her determination to improve and hard work to get where she is at today was inspiring! (Sorry it's a dark pic.)

Then we headed over to the gym for a men's gymnastics demonstration. The two boys are 17 and 18 and will be visiting schools this fall hoping to get scholarships for gymnastics and continue training. Both Sean and Jake were amazing, and I don't just mean their abs.

(We had to take this picture in case they become famous.)

After dinner we got to hear from some guest speakers in the CO chapter. They spoke about how MS has affected their lives and what they are doing to help create awareness and support for research and programs.

It was inspiring to hear more stories from people and it makes me want to continue riding and raising support for MS. I hope you'll help me reach the TOC level again next year!

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