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 😉


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!


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 😉


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…

2012, An artful version of a lamb
2014, I guess we were hungry!
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


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!


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)


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


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 🙂

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.


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!!!


Clothing, Culture

5 Things You Need to Know About TRACHTEN

1. The term “Tracht” refers to traditional garments worn in German-speaking countries. Every region has their own version of dress, and some occupations do as well (nurses, carpenters, religious orders).

2. Trachten is still worn and enjoyed by many people, especially in southern Germany (Bavaria) and Austria. 

3. People wear Trachten to religious celebrations, weddings, holidays, and any day the biergarten is open!

4. There is Trachten for every budget, and every occasion – some people even choose to be married in it <3

5. Wearing Trachten is a great way to celebrate your heritage and it looks great on every body type!


Dolls / Puppen

My Oma began a wonderful tradition with her grandchildren that my mother has chosen to carry on now with my boys.  Oma purchased a little Puppe (doll) at the birth of each of her grandchildren and kept the dolls in a large corner hutch in her kitchen. Each doll had a basket into which sweets were placed, so when we visited we always knew to check and see what our doll had for us! Being the first grandchild, my doll is the oldest and most interesting. His name is Robertle, and he was made by the famous Kaethe Kruse company. I love his delicate features and sweet outfit, but my husband finds him a bit creepy for some reason…not sure why as his mother collected many dolls from around the world! Now that I am grown, Robertle lives in our dining room hutch 🙂

When my boys go to my mom’s house, they visit their own matching dollies, in search of chocolate.

One of my favorite toys from my childhood is my American Girl doll. If you are lucky enough to have owned or played with one, you’ll know that these are very special dolls. Beautifully detailed and robustly built, the core collection of dolls all come with a back story and their own series of books. My maternal grandmother purchased the ‘Kirsten’ doll for me when I was born and saved her for me until I was old enough. Having a doll with the same rather uncommon name meant a lot to me growing up, but her origin story impacted me even more.

Kirsten Larson’s fictional journey as a Swedish immigrant to America taught me very real lessons. I came to recognize the courage and determination that my Oma needed when she came over from Germany at only 17. The power of friendship and the sorrow of loss were explained to me for the first time. And the strong work ethic and independence expected of the main character reflected the way I was raised by of my own family.

Did you have a special doll growing up? Have you ever been greated by a doll bearing sweets?