September 2016 – Oktoberfest!

I still remember how this started:

Entrance to paradise

Scene – At work, one day after the first keg is tapped in Munich.

My hand is definitely missing something

Me – “It’d be fun to go to Oktoberfest someday…”

Half bier, half lemonade – Also known as a “Radler” – Cate approved!

John – “You know, we have a 3-day weekend coming up.  I know someone who has gone the last 12 years for this weekend.  Would you like to meet him?”

Bavarian dress in full effect

Me – (Quickly texting Cate about this revelation), “Uh, yeah!  Sure!” (Gets text back from Cate, starts looking at flights and hotels)

The Paulaner tent

…And off we went!  Three years in a row, so far.  What a spectacular time to be in Bavaria!  Fantastic atmosphere to go along with beautiful weather, food, drink, and scenery.  Definitely a must-visit, even for those who don’t prefer the malted hops-flavored brews that dominate the area. Just order a radler. 🙂

September 2016 – Muscat, Oman

Our first flight OOK (Out of Kingdom) was to Oman.  A little setup to the situation; we had arrived in KSA at the end of July and had gone through the processes with the company to get our iqamas (national ID cards) and visas which would allow us to travel.  Until this was completed, we weren’t able to leave.

While our first trip OOK was technically dinner with friends in Bahrain for an evening, our first vacation was Oman.  Eid al-Adha (the second of the Eid holidays) gave us the opportunity to take a few extra days off while technically not taking official time off (frowned upon during probation).  Cate found a smoking deal at the Al Bustan Palace Ritz Carlton in Muscat, so a few plane tickets and a taxi ride (with a side visit to Starbucks to get our country mug, of course) later, we found ourselves sitting by a lagoon pool and swimming in the Gulf of Oman. 

It was a splurge, a definite extravagance, however after a little more than seven months of interviews, background checks, leaving my previous job, farewell tours, packing, cleaning, relocating, adjusting to culture, experiencing never-ending heat, dealing with foreign country procedures….  I think you get the idea.  We needed a nice break.  This did the trick.  It was absolutely spectacular.

July 2016 – Moving to Saudi Arabia

In July of 2016, we were “wheels up“ from our home of California, on our way through Frankfurt, Germany with an expected arrival in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (or KSA, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) roughly 22 hours later. 

Bags ready to go at SFO
Short layover at FRA

8 bags checked (200 lbs), 2 carry-ons (250 lbs), personal items, and the two of us made our way with little incident.  We arrived roughly 10:30pm +03:00 GST, and pulled into our new home about 2 hours later.  I remember the first wave of hot, humid Arabian air that hit us as we walked out of the airport.  Truthfully, I almost turned around.  I’m glad I didn’t!

Our landlord. Seriously, he came with the house.

The “Backlog”


We’ll use the website all the time (we said)! We’ll update it with all the fun things we see (we said)!


That was 2013 (I think). Here we are in 2019, many trips under our belt, living on the other side of a world with opportunities to travel seemingly turning into a second profession (no compliants, however). I’ve promised myself to make a concerted effort to keep this little website updated not only as a, “This is what we’re up to” type blog, but also as a running history so I don’t forget in my ever increasing circumventing the Sun progressive counter.

So, I promise to:

  • Update the website
  • Put nice shiny pictures on our Instagram feed @theaznoes
  • Be nice to Larry

(That last part is what Cate tells me all the time. I’m just reminding myself.)

Simple Dish Towel

For a few gifts this last Christmas, I made some quick dish towels. Everyone needs dishtowels and I love that they are personalized, but useful. I decided on a little design for each of one and found sketch images on Google images or sketched it myself (the mountains) on Google draw. I printed out the sketches and then traced the back side with a transfer pencil. (See an example on the camera post.)

Iron transfer the images onto some flour sack towels. You can get a whole bunch on Amazon for a reasonable price.

Then start stitching! I just grabbed colors that I had around and did fairly loose backstitches. They were quick and made fun personalized presents.


Make sure to iron out the hoop crease before giving it away!


Careful not to get the transfer line too thick if you are going to stitch over with a light color like the white here.


Market Bags

I attempted to claim 2014 as the year of handmade. I made as many gifts as I could for birthdays and special occasions, but once I found a project that worked, I stuck with it. This meant that a lot of friends and family received a lovely market bag for their birthday.  The easy project is very useful as more and more cities and counties have outlawed plastic shopping bags.  I adapted my market bags from this tutorial and adjusted the measurements based on the amount of fabric I had.

Most of the time I could get 2 market bags out of 2 yards of fabric (1 yard of lining fabric and 1 yard of outer fabric.)  Because of the layout of the cuts and the length of the straps, using only a 1/2 yard cut does not work well.  I also made sure to reinforce the bottoms to make them a little more sturdy.

I had fun personalizing them with different fabrics and colors for everyone!


Double- sided strap with top stitch.



Attaching the bottom to the linking sides that have already been sewn together.



Lining bottom complete.



Complete bag!





Embroidered Cameras

Continuing the year of handmade gifts, I decided to make these embroidered hangings for my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. They both enjoy photographer and I thought it would be something fun for them! I found the sketches here as a starting point.

I saved the images and then resized them so that each could fit in a 6″ hoop. I chose just a simple neutral fabric and black thread for them. To transfer, I printed out the pictures and then traced the back side of the paper with a transfer pencil and then ironed the back side of the paper on to the fabric.



Embroidering the three designs did not take that long and made a fun handmade gift!






In October, we decided to take a quick trip to Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta because… why not? Our good friend Ray is from Albuquerque so he came with us to show us around and his wonderful parents hosted us all.

We tried for two days at the Balloon Fiesta, but the wind was too high on the second day that none of the balloons were able to inflate in the morning. The sheer number of balloons is incredible and they all go up in such quick waves, it’s hard to even try to see them all.IMG_8695


We also had our favorites. Darth and Yoda were some of the last balloons inflated and the crowd started cheering when they figured what they were. (I’m not so sure about the princess next to them though?)


After the big inflatable Smokey the bear on 4th of July, I was super excited to see this guy here. I was nearly running across the field to get close to it before it took off. One of the amazing things about this Balloon Fiesta is that you get to walk all around the balloons as they are being inflated and sent off!



Another big discovery on this trip was the food! Ray had always talked about the Hatch Valley green chilis but now we got to experience them. Craig had them with every meal, which is very popular in Albuquerque apparently.

Green chili breakfast burritos.

Craig loved the chilis so much that we brought 25lbs of them back with us. Little markets sell chilis by the box and roast them for you. Ray’s parents helped us get all the skin off before the chilis were packed up and loaded on the plane the next day. We’re still finding all the different foods that you can eat with green chilis.IMG_6401




Rental Car

In February we took a quick weekend trip to Missoula, MT. Flying up on Friday night and then leaving on Sunday morning was going to be a quick trip but it was enough to be able to make it for Craig’s Mom’s 60th birthday dinner. When we arrived I’m Seattle after our first leg, we found out that our next flight to Missoula had been canceled because they didn’t have a pilot, somewhat important. Not wanting to lose half of our one day trip, we thought it was a brilliant idea to just rent a car and start driving. In full adventure spirit, we rented an escape and drove through the night even though this California girl was only equipped with a little jacket and my trusty TOMs.  Three mountain passes in a full snow storm later, we made it to Missoula at 7am! It was a fun little adventure and I have since bought snow boots.



Baby Bunting


I made this bunting for my friend’s shower for her twin girls!  It takes some time but overall very easy to make.  She helped pick the coordinating fabrics to match some colors in the room.  Each patterned square is backed with a simple muslim.  Then I cut a white fabric as background to the letters and just sewed the top with a 1/4″ seam.  The letters are a felt to give it some texture.  I fused the letters onto the white fabric and then used an embroidery floss for the hand stitching.  The hand stitching probably took the most time but I like the look so it is worth it!





Patterned Fabric and backing- 1/4″ seams included; Fold top over 1″ and sew on the 1/4″ to create a hole for the ribbon or string to go through.

White Fabric- ; Fold a 1/4″ on top to attach.

Letters- I printed on card stock and the cut out the letters with an exacto knife to create a stencil for the letters.

Ribbon- I used 5/8″ ribbon but you can scale it for the size of your squares.