Sartorial Saturday–Oktoberfest

For the first time, I had national dress to wear to Oktoberfest! I went with my newest piece from Rare Dirndl, the Herbology dirndl, and I dressed it up with my fanciest apron:

I planned my outfit carefully, including some lovely Edelweiss accessories and a not-quite-Alpine hat:

I even painted my nails in lovely fall colors for the occasion!

I decided to try something different when it came to footwear…I went with ankle boots, and I love how they went with the outfit!

I’m really happy with how this look came together!

Here’s a pair of photos from the event:

And some pictures of the event itself:

It was so much fun to be able to dress for the occasion!

Sartorial Saturday–My Favorite Things

“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!

Sartorial Saturday…on a Monday?–International Flair for Pentecost

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!

Sartorial Saturday…On a Sunday–Heiligen Tracht For Easter

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?

Six Months of Duolingo

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!

Tasty Tuesday–Exploring My Heritage Through Cooking

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!

Legacy

Tomorrow is the 110th anniversary of the birth of my paternal grandfather in Vienna, Austria.

“Graublau”

That is the word that connects my eyes to my grandfather’s passport. It is the summation of the legacy he left me.

Standard forms never have an option for my eye color, which is the color of Lake Michigan on an overcast winter day. I always have to settle for blue, which is as close at it gets. But my grandfather apparently had more latitude in describing his eye color when he got his passport, because it says simply “graublau” or grey-blue (more grey than blue, I think). Perhaps this is an Austrian trait, because years ago I came across a similar, although even more specific, description in White Stallion of Lipizza (emphasis mine):

“He stood up now and put both hands on the boy’s shoulders, holding them tight. Gray eyes looked into gray eyes for a long moment. Then, “Hans,” he said, “all Viennese are proud of the Lipizzaners. Even I who have never seen them. It is something wonderful we inherit from the past. But for most of us it is a thing to admire from afar. Like stars. Or the moon when it is new.”

I like knowing that I got my eyes from my grandfather, whom I barely remember because he died when I was three. I also like knowing that they may also be a broader reflection of my ethnic heritage!

Sartorial Saturday–Frohe Weihnachten!

I’m back with the a new styling for “Die Heimat” dirndl, just in time for Christmas!

As soon as Rare Dirndl shared photos of a special gnome apron for Christmas, I knew exactly how I would style it, and it turned out even better than I imagined!

I added an Austrian flag inspired necklace I picked up from a Rare Dirndl jewelry party through their Facebook group…it’s both a perfect representation of my heritage, and the perfect colors for Christmas! Edelweiss are also represented through my hair clip and new red wrap bracelet.

I feel extra Austrian and extra Christmasy!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Sartorial Saturday–“Die Heimat”

You didn’t think I’d stop at just one dirndl, did you?

When Ryan bought me my very first dirndl as an early Christmas present, there were two options that really stood out to me…the beautiful purple floral dirndl he ordered, and “Die Heimat,” a dress that features a gorgeous suede bodice and comes with an apron that has a lovely print of deer and old script. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to save my money and go ahead and add a second dirndl to my wardrobe…let’s call it a gift to myself for my (almost) 100 day streak of German lessons with Duolingo!

As always, accessories are everything. I added a fierce-looking Hirsch necklace from Rare Dirndl to go with the outfit, and on Black Friday, I got this beautiful lace dirndl blouse for a steal! I added my edelweiss clip to a grey fedora, and a pair of dirndl-style shoes and some nice warm tights that aren’t quite the right color depending on which part of the outfit you compare them to, but let’s just overlook that, shall we?

One of my favorite details of this style, and something that I think makes it extra special, is that there is both a ribbon and a chain for lacing. I’m not going to lie…trying to figure out how to lace them both without getting them tangled was a challenge, and I was pretty slow at it, but I think I’ve maybe got it figured out now, and it looks so good!

I feel Austrian when I wear this!

Stay tuned to see how I style this dirndl for Christmas!

Sartorial Saturday–National Dress

Today I’m taking a look at something completely different!

I have always loved national dress, from Norway’s bunad to the sari of South Asia. And I have long lamented the fact the the US really doesn’t have ethnic dress, unless you count jeans (which I don’t). But my ethnic heritage (Austrian and German) does have a traditional garment for women in the form of the dirndl, something I have long wanted to add to my wardrobe, and Ryan bought me a purple and floral one for an early Christmas present!

This beautiful dirndl is from Rare Dirndl, a small business located in Chicago (where else?!?). It consists of a purple dress and a gorgeous floral print apron, and I’m wearing it with a Rare Dirndl puff sleeve, lace-trim blouse. Also, the best clothing designers know that women want pockets in their dresses, and Rare Dirndl is no exception!

The details on the dress are amazing (look at the pleated trim around the neckline and the piping down the front!), and the workmanship is outstanding (check out how well the hooks on the front are sewn on, and with such a beautiful color of thread, too…it almost looks like they’re set with gemstones!). The print of the apron is fantastic, too…it has a metallic sheen, and the colors are so vibrant…and the strings are actually long enough to fit me properly, which was a huge concern of mine. It is seriously the most well-made and best fitting dress I have ever had (and I have a lot of dresses!).

To accessorize, I added a purple fedora and a petticoat with a lace edge meant to be seen:

I added a leather Edelweiss clip to my hat (also from Rare Dirndl), and then moved it to my hair, just for fun. It can also be worn as a brooch…I love a versatile accessory!

Here’s a look at the whole outfit sans hat:

Rare Dirndl also offers some lovely jewelry, and many of the pieces feature Edelweiss, a flower often associated with Austria. The scalloped necklace is so delicate and beautiful, and I love the pop of color of the wrap bracelet! (I added one of my Lake Michigan HOMES bracelets in a coordinating color, since I’m celebrating my heritage.)

I’m ready to twirl my way through the Alps!

This is my first dirndl, but it won’t be last…I’m already waiting for my second Rare Dirndl dress to arrive! Erika was such a huge help in answering all of my questions and making sure I got the dirndl of my dreams, so I’m really excited to support her small business again! It’s really not a jump for me to go from retro dressing to ethnic dressing, because they both include a nod to the past in a new, modern way, so I feel comfortable wearing this outfit not just to German events (I can’t wait to style it for Belleville’s Christkindlmarkt in a few weeks), and it’s definitely not a costume item to me. I’m looking forward to sharing more photos of my national dress(es) as I style them in different ways throughout the seasons!