In 2021, I received my first (and second) dirndls. Throughout the course of the year, I added two more, and now in addition to the four dirndls, I have a total of nine aprons, four dirndl blouses, and a whole bunch of fun accessories. I didn’t get them to just have them hang in my closet, though, so I made a point of dirndl-ing up at least once a month this year. I’ve worn Heiligen Tracht for Easter and Christmas, I’ve traveled to Chicago in one, and I was able to wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest and Grant’s Farm for the first time (among other places). Here’s a look back at my year of dirndl-wearing.
And a closer look at some of my favorite dirndl accessories (including lots of edelweiss!):
I’m looking forward to wearing my dirndls to even more places this year!
I spent much of the fall eagerly anticipating the preview of the new holiday apron from Rare Dirndl, and I was not disappointed…the reindeer apron is perfect for not just Christmastime, but all winter! I love that farmhouses and bunnies join the reindeer on the snowy background:
I chose edelweiss accessories, as I usually do when I wear a dirndl, but made sure to cover the Christmas colors of red and green as much as possible:
Here’s a closer look at my necklace duo, both from Rare Dirndl:
I chose to pair the apron with “Die Heimat” dirndl for these pictures, but I’m also looking forward to wearing it with the Herbology dirndl in the (not too distant) future:
I love the red ties on the apron, and I added a red ribbon to lace up the front of the dirndl, too:
I love how the pops of red stand out!
Red tights and sparkly silver shoes complete the look:
This just screams “Christmas in Germany,” don’t you think?
I’ve continued to try German recipes since the last time I shared a look at the German cooking I was doing. Most are new to us (and many of those are recipes I was introduced to through the monthly recipe share in the Rare Dirndl First Looks Club Facebook group), but I also made some old family favorites for Oktoberfest.
Baked Fall Spätzle
I have really enjoyed connecting to my heritage this way, and I’m looking forward to trying even more new German recipes in the future!
It’s a little later in the month than I would have preferred, but today we finally had our annual Markel Family Oktoberfest! It was a beautiful day, and I thought it was very fitting that we sung a hymn in church this morning that I remember my dad singing in German while I played the piano when I was a child.
I was excited to have a dirndl and lots of edelweiss accessories to wear this year:
When we got home from church, we had our traditional Oktoberfest lunch of fondue with brats, German pickles, and homemade pretzels:
I made most our dinner of schnitzel, spaetzle, rotkohl, and sauerkraut from scratch (the sauerkraut was the only store-bought item).
For dessert I made our favorite Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte:
Oktoberfest is a lot of work…like an actual holiday’s amount of work. But it is a holiday for us, and I love having a way share my heritage with my family!
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things.”
The Herbology Dirndl from Rare Dirndl is my fourth dress from them, and it’s the one that most makes me feel like I’ve stepped right out of a scene in The Sound of Music. There’s something about the blue and brown dirndl combined with the plaid apron that just screams frolicking through the Alps to me!
I love the foliage print apron ties!
I also love that this particular style takes some inspiration from Professor Sprout…that makes my Hufflepuff heart happy!
I accessorized with lots of edelweiss (hair clip, earrings, and necklace), plus some beaded bracelets:
I think this will be a great look for fall!
But wait there’s more! When I placed my order, Rare Dirndl was running a special that included a bonus lace apron. According to my middle daughter, this particular pairing makes me look like Cinderella!
There’s such a lovely elegance to a lace apron.
It has the same beautiful foliage print ties as the plaid apron:
But I couldn’t just leave it at that, right? As soon as I saw the colors of the dirndl in person, I knew I had to pair it with my deer print apron from “Die Heimat” dirndl:
That, of course, meant a slight change in accessories, because a deer print apron calls for a bold Hirsch necklace!
This look is just as great as the first two…I love having the ability to mix and match aprons (I have a total of eight of them for my four dirndls).
The best thing about this dirndl is how absolutely versatile it is, and I have yet another styling in mind that I’m planning on trying out for Oktoberfest!
On Easter, I wondered which holiday would be my next dirndl holiday. Well, I didn’t have to wait long…50 days, to be exact! I decided there is no better church holiday for dirndl-wearing than Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ disciples, and the Word came to people of all backgrounds who spoke many different languages. I even managed to work red, the traditional liturgical color for Pentecost, into my look for the day!
Now that we’re entering the endless green season of the church year, I won’t have church holidays for dirndl-wearing for a bit, but I’m still planning on finding at least one opportunity each month to wear a dirndl!
This Easter, I decided to go with something completely different, fashion-wise!
As I understand it, the Tyrol region of Austria has a tradition of “Heiligen Tracht,” holy folk-costume, which is traditional dress like this dirndl that is worn only for church holidays, not secular drinking days. As I have worn this dirndl almost exclusively to church, and never to a drinking festival, I thought it fit the bill perfectly for Easter!
Instead of my traditional “Easter bonnet,” I paired it with a flower crown, as well as an edelweiss necklace and wrap bracelet. All these flowers are perfect for spring!
I love how the whole look came together…the lace dirndl blouse is perfect for spring!
I’ve now worn a dirndl for Christmas and Easter…which holiday will be my next dirndl holiday?
Just over six months ago, I started making an intentional effort to complete at least one Duolingo German lesson every day. I had had a Duolingo account for literal years (I think I signed up just to see how the process worked before having the children use it in school) without ever actually using it myself, but last September, I decided I wanted to give it a try. It was part of a broader effort to connect to my heritage (see my fashion and cooking posts), I think.
I studied German for four years in high school, so it’s not like I was unfamiliar with the language, but it had also been over two decades, and I was a fairly lazy German student, so I had a lot to learn (and relearn)…I basically knew just enough to get myself into trouble in Germany!
It’s been an interesting process. There have been days where I couldn’t put a sentence together correctly if my life depended upon it (I really struggle with word order in German…I always have), and other days where I it all just made sense, and I could have kept going forever. I still have a hard time remembering the gender of words, but that is no surprise. I do think my vocabulary has grown quite a bit, though, and in general, I feel more comfortable with the language, which is kind of the point.
I’ve come across some bizarre and hilarious sentences along the way:
The bear, in particular, has been a constant source of amusement:
There have been some very relatable translations:
And some that I wish weren’t quite so relatable:
Duolingo contains some deep truths hidden within the lessons:
I even came up with a great idea for a Spargelparty from the lesson on asparagus (stay tuned for that one!):
I’ve hit milestones along the way (my current streak is up to 187 days):
It might not seem like much, but I’ve cleared all of the lessons in just one unit, which is quite an accomplishment to me (see my above struggles with learning German):
I’ve also advanced to the Diamond League (once):
Last night was my big achievement, though:
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not done with learning German, not even with Duolingo. This achievement came from passing all of the checkpoints (which took way less time than I was expecting!), not all of the lessons, and I’ve just gotten started with the collection of stories (which are quite fun!). But I really feel like I accomplished something, both in realizing that I must have retained more of my high school German than I thought, and in committing to continuing my education as an adult. I’m really looking forward to learning more, and maybe someday, I’ll actually get to put my new skills to use!
I’ve always enjoyed ethnic cooking, especially German, Austrian, and Hungarian recipes that reflect my own heritage (two of my family’s favorite dishes that I’ve been making for years are spaetzle and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte). For the last six months or so (ever since I started doing German lessons with Duolingo and wearing dirndls), I’ve really been trying to introduce more personal ethnic recipes into our meals, so I’ve been doing a lot of German cooking, mainly with recipes from Dirndl Kitchen and the Easy German Cookbook. It’s been a lot of fun trying new things, and it really helps me feel to connected to the generations who have come before me. Here’s a look at the recipes we’ve sampled since I began this little project:
Döner Kebab on Pide Bread (A Turkish Recipe by way of Germany)
Linsen mit Spätzle (Lentil Stew with Spätzle)
Berliner (Jelly Filled Donuts)
Linzer Augen (Jam Filled Cookies)
Schweinelendchen mit Pilzrahmsoße (Pork Medallions with Mushroom Cream Sauce)
Haschee (Meat Sauce)
Goulaschsuppe (Goulash Soup)
Blitztorte (Lightning Cake)
Hühnerfrikassee (Chicken Fricassee)
Kabbeljau mit Senfsoße (Cod with Mustard Sauce)
Königsberger Klopse (Prussian Meatballs in White Caper Sauce)
Milchreis (Rice Pudding)
Kartoffelklöße (Potato Dumplings)
Senfbraten (Mustard Roasted Pork Loin)
Versunkener Apfelkuchrn (Sunken Apple Cake)
Speckbohnen (Green Beans with Bacon)
Quarkbällchen (Jelly Filled Donut Holes)
I’m not done trying new German recipes by any means…I haven’t even made it all the way through the cookbook yet! But this is a look at where I’ve been so far, and as I try more new dishes, I’ll make sure to update the list!