Clothing, Culture, Sewing

Auf Wiedersehen Oktoberfest, wir hatten Spaß /Goodbye Oktoberfest, we had fun!

Autumn is my favorite time of year for so many reasons, but most of all because I love Oktoberfest. The tradition of Oktoberfest began when a Bavarian prince and princess who were wed in some fields outside of Munich, Germany on the 12th of October in 1810. Today, it is celebrated in Munich and throughout the US in various forms. I enjoy all of it – the music, the food, the beer, the dancing, and the dress. I hope to some day attend Oktoberfest in Munich, where they have huge beer tents for the adults, and carnivals/amusements/fair grounds for families to enjoy.  For a take on what celebrating Bavarian culture means to young Germans, check out this article from the NY Times about dirndls in the disco!

This year my hubby and I were invited to attend the Oktoberfest at Pittsburgh’s Teutonia Maennerchor, a private club which celebrates German-American heritage. We had a wonderful time – the food and drink were excellent and plentiful, the company was warm and relatively well-behaved, and the entertainment was great. Everyone looked so fesch, decked out in Trachten, and it was so nice to have another occasion upon which to wear my handmade dirndl.

Something that I am especially proud of is the fact that this summer, I sewed a dirndl for my good friend, Julie. She looks so lovely in it and appreciates the beauty of a custom dirndl! Here we are together at the Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh 🙂

Clothing, Culture

Altmodish Trachten / Old Fashioned Clothing

Instragram recently led me down a rabbit hole of really talented sewers and seamstresses who create reproductions of clothing from bygone eras. This got me wondering how I could perhaps take inspiration for my own designs not only from today’s Trachten styles, but also those of the past….

Thanks to friendly, hardworking librarians, I’ve had the pleasure of looking at some fascinating books on the topic. Last week I visited the Carnegie Public Library in Oakland and I’d love to share with you some of the images I found.

This first illustration shows what people in Oberbayern (upper Bavaria) were wearing in the mid 1800s – surprisingly similar to the Trachten still worn today! The detailing on the menswear is just lovely. I am wondering if the girl with the yellow scarf is wearing her Hausschuhe?!

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Once again, mid 1800s, these ladies are from the Black Forest. I have a little doll that is wearing the same outfit as the second lady, red pompom hat and all! I also love that the lady on the far right has what appears to be a donut?!? on her head…must do more research into that!IMG-3701

Just when I was beginning to think that today’s trend of big hair bows had reached its climax, I see that one can go bigger!! :-O And she is OWNING it. lol

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My greatest find was a book called “Original Tyrolean Costumes” published in 1937. Now, at first I thought, oh wow! this Baron Georg Franckenstein loves Austrian clothing as much as I do! and while this might have been the case, the date of publication makes me suspicious because it was clearly printed for an English audience. A bit of stealthy prewar propaganda, perhaps? Anyway, I love the book’s illustrations and the forward so I’ve included it below.

The fashion illustrations in this book are of such high quality! The children’s outfits are so cute! The artist made sure to show the intricate craftsmanship of the clothing, often including the backs of bodices and jackets.

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I am a big fan of puffed sleeves, even though they aren’t flattering on everybody. These ladies are rocking them, and I especially love the fluffy white hats – they looks so soft and warm!

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And finally, remember to wear what you like – embrace your personal style and if this includes “putting a bird on it”, then so be it! lolIMG-3734

Culture, Sewing, Uncategorized

Sewickley Stammtisch

Hallo! We have been blessed with a delightfully busy summer this year, as the length between my posts demonstrates. This July my father and sister both celebrated their milestone birthdays with a huge party. Many family members and friends joined us for the BBQ themed bash – even some of our German relatives came! It was so wonderful to see family again, and meine Tante brought me Dirndl hardware that is impossible to find in the US, for which I am eternally grateful!!!
Another exciting development was the start of a local Deutsch Stammtisch group, prompted by a shared desire to practice German. We meet every fortnight to speak German/Germish and drink beer – what more could you want?! I am learning so much from my friends, old and new, and having a blast as well. If you’re local and would like to join us, find us here. If you’re not local but think this sounds like a good idea, I encourage you to reach out to your community via Facebook, etc. You might find one already operating near you, or you can start your own 😉
Plans for Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh have already begun, and as always I am excited for the cooler weather and Fall festivities to arrive once more. I’m currently sewing a dirndl for a dear friend of mine, so look for updates on that project!
Bis bald, Kirsten. Xx

Culture, Sewing

Summer Fun / Sommerspaß

Summer has officially arrived here in Pittsburgh, as most of the schools have let out.  Our boys really grew and learned so much this year at their preschool. One more year to go and then they’ll enter kindergarten. While I know I will cry like a fool when they start “real school”, I am looking forward to being able to present them with their own Schultüte. These are decorated paper cones filled with candies and small toys that German children receive when they begin school. I was lucky enough to have been given one when I was small and I can still remember the exciting sound of the paper twisting open to reveal the goodies inside!

The boys had loving, fantastic teachers this year, and so I sewed them both a little bag for an end-of-year thank you. Making handmade gifts is one of my all-time favorite things to do, because it combines the satisfaction of making something with one’s own hands with the joy of giving.

To kick off summer break, we spent the day with my mom and took a lovely walk through the Botanic Garden. What a treasure it is to be able to access nature in such a way! I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather like my little birds and I are 😉

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Culture, Food, Music

Schönen Muttertag / Happy Mother’s Day

Spring took forever to arrive here in Pittsburgh, but now we are enjoying the sun, the rain, and of course the seasonal allergies! The boys have really helped out a lot this year with planting and weeding, and our garden is looking great. The strawberries we planted last year are back and we can’t wait to enjoy some homegrown Erdbeeren!

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This month, the hubs and I attended a local Maifest at the Teutonia Männerchor and really enjoyed ourselves. Their currywurst was very good, the potato pancakes were made-to-order and the Hacker-Pschorr was cold and refreshing! Our favorite German band, Mädel Jäger, played with their normal pizzazz. I am excited to go back to the club soon, and I loved wearing my new dirndl too 😉

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This weekend has been so nice, my boys have showered me with attention and thanks and even let me drag them to Harmony, PA to have lunch at the Harmony Inn. We did not see their resident ghost, but their menu is heavily influenced by German cuisine and so of course we enjoyed ourselves!

The boys even made me breakfast before we went to church this morning; I am feeling very blessed to be part of such a wonderful family. I hope that all you amazing, hardworking moms out there have a great Mother’s Day and feel appreciated! xx

Culture, Food

Frohe Ostern! / Happy Easter!

Today the weather finally broke and Pittsburgh got a warm, albeit wet, day. Spring is finally appearing just shy of Easter weekend.  Last year at this time, I wrote about the German traditions of Ostereierbäume and Osterhase, but I only realized today that yet another of our Easter activities is also done in Germany! Every year my mom bakes a pound cake in the shape of an adorable lamb in a mold like this one. She usually dusts it with powdered sugar and sometimes we give it candy eyes.  This eating of an Osterlamm symbolizes both the sacrificial lambs used in Passover and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus’ life to save us from our sin. I love the symbolism, but really any excuse to eat cake is a good one ;-P Here are some pics of lamb cakes past…

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2012, An artful version of a lamb
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2014, I guess we were hungry!
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2016, Melty but delicious. Twin-approved.

As I write this, the rain is pounding on the roof, reminding me that soon the Earth will be fertile again. Flowers will bloom, plants and children with continue to grow, and life will be more colorful. After this long winter, I can’t wait for warmer weather! From my family to yours, have a very Happy Easter. <3

Culture

Fröhliche Weihnachten und frohes neues Jahr! / Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

I hope this final post of 2017 finds you happy and healthy, surrounded by friends and loved ones.  This December was a whirlwind of fun for my family. The day after Thanksgiving, we ventured out to a local Christmas tree farm with my parents, sister, cousin, aunt & uncle, and Oma. We found two perfect specimens and my boys helped decorate both of them – my mother’s tree featured wooden German ornaments this year (so cute!) and I put together the Weihnachtspyramide for the kids to see.

This year, my hubby and I decided to observe St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th by having the boys leave their shoes out. In the morning, they loved seeing them filled with toys!

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Later in the month, I was lucky enough to accompany my hubby on a quick business trip to London, where we stumbled upon a Christmas market in Leicester Square! I bought a cute hat because it was very cold and admired these adorable wooden animals (the pigs had bottle openers in their bums! lol)

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Sadly, almost immediately after we returned home, several of us got sick. We recovered in time to enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but didn’t get around to baking any Christmas cookies until Boxing Day. However, gingerbread is delicious no matter when you eat it – here’s my attempt at icing 😉

IMG-2155Sonne, Mond und Sterne, alles liegt in weiter Ferne, doch das Gute das ist ganz nah – ein glückliches und schönes neues Jahr!
Sun, moon and stars, everything lies at a great distance. However, goodness is just ‘round the corner – have a happy and lovely New Year!

Culture, Food

Weihnachtsmarkt / Christmas Market

The temperatures dropped suddenly this past week here in Pittsburgh, but the cold didn’t keep us from venturing out in the name of fun! On Saturday we bundled up and ventured to Harmony, a historic town founded by German settlers in 1804 for their German Christmas Market.

I enjoyed seeing German culture alive and well in the form of dress, music, food, and crafts. We saw several people in Trachten and they looked wonderful. My boys danced to traditional music and feasted on pretzels, and we saw wonderful handicrafts created by very talented people. Two large horses pulled a wagon up and down the street and the boys watched in amazement. A jolly Santa greeted our boys and asked what they wanted for Christmas. Finally, we waited in line for the most amazing cookies from The Two Fraus Bakery – their lebkuchen is SO GOOD!!!! I will definitely be returning to purchase more of their goodies.

One of my best memories of Germany is when my family visited the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt – it was simply magical, with amazing food and crafts. In the middle of it, huge snowflakes began to fall; the entire experience left quite an impression on us, especially my mom, who still raves about it. I hope to go back some day to share it with my boys!

 

Culture, Food

Spätzle

If you’ve never had freshly made Spätzle, you are really missing out. A common side dish in German cooking, these delightful little dumpling-like noodles are easier to make than one might think.  The key is to having a gadget that will save you a lot of time – my great grandma used to plonk her batter on a cutting board and then use a knife to cut each noodle into the water! Talk about hard work!!! Some recipes call for nutmeg, but I prefer to leave it out. The good basic recipe is to combine 4 eggs, 1/3 C milk, 2 tsp salt, and 2 C flour – then you drop it into a pot of boiling water and cook it until it floats to the top, sort of like gnocchi 😉 Don’t forget to slather it in butter.

I topped my spaetzle with slow-cooker pulled pork with apples, and it made the perfect dinner for a Fall evening 🙂

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Mmm lecker!

Several German restaurants in Pittsburgh serve spaetzle, and the Hofbrauhaus has a decent version which I of course ate on the first day of their Oktoberfest celebration. Here I am with my girlfriends, and some of our hubbies. We had a lot of fun that night and drank some delicious beer!

Clothing, Culture, Food

Vorbereitungen für Oktoberfest / Getting Ready for Oktoberfest

We are heading into my favorite time of year – FALL! I am a fan of sweater weather, pumpkin foods, and the gorgeous Pennsylvania foliage.  Part of what makes this season so great is that it provides the perfect weather for Oktoberfest celebrations, and I am really looking forward to partying with my friends this weekend down at the Pittsburgh Hofbräuhaus.

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You don’t need to speak German or wear traditional clothing to enjoy Oktoberfest, but it sure doesn’t hurt! I am lucky to own a dirndl that I love and still fits me even after popping out twin boys, and I can’t wait to wear it. My loving husband does not currently own lederhosen, but he gets in the spirit by wearing a blue and white checkered shirt, reminiscent of the Bavarian flag.  Our boys have outgrown their lederhosen so I will be searching for replacements soon because they look so stinking cute in ones like these <3

I wish you all a very happy and healthy Oktoberfest, and make sure to keep well fed and hydrated in between Maß. PROST!!!

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