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!
Yesterday we went to Grant’s Farm for our first normal visit since 2019. Yes, we did go on a Private Expedition last year, but we didn’t get to walk through the Tiergarten or see the Clydesdales then, so that was a very different outing. We found that things were somewhat different this time…I don’t know how much of that is due to changes implemented during the pandemic, and how much of it is because the ownership group has changed somewhat, but it wasn’t quite the same experience we had remembered. It was still a beautiful day to be outside, and it’s the closest I feel like I can get to Germany while staying close to home.
It’s always fun to see all of the animals!
And we were still able to take a picture at our favorite photo spot…I wonder how many pictures I’ve taken in this exact same location over the years?
I was also very excited to wear a dirndl to Grant’s Farm…after Oktoberfest, this is the one place I was most looking forward to showing off my German national dress!
Even thought things were a little different, it was still nice to go back and walk around after such a long time!
“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!
Last week, Bunny and I got to visit Erika Neumayer’s Rare Dirndl Design Studio in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago!
It’s a small studio, which is why you need an appointment to visit, but they pack a lot of great items into the space, including jewelry and other accessories, dirndls, blouses, and even their denim lederhosen! You also get a look at the design space, plus some of the special items they’re working on.
While we were there, Erika showed me a poster she had on display at German Fest in Milwaukee at the end of July. You can imagine how tickled I was to see myself featured front and center!
Bunny was searching for a necklace to go with her dirndl (she found a great one that’s just her style!), but I didn’t have anything too specific I was shopping for. I did have something in mind that I wanted but I wasn’t even sure it existed…a fancy zipper pull to add a little extra bling to my dirndls. I was thrilled to discover Rare Dirndl had just what I had imagined! I picked up a beautiful heart and flower design that I can add to any of my dirndls (but I especially like the way it looks with my periwinkle Everyday Dirndl!):
It was so great to tour the studio (we even got to peek in the basement!), do a little shopping, learn about more about the design process, and especially meet Erika, her adorable children who were helping out that day, and Maria, the studio manager, who kindly took our picture:
I’m so glad we got to stop at the studio when we were in the city!
On Thursday, we chased one last wild hair of mine for the summer, and drove up to Chicago for the day. We had a few goals, starting with visiting Buckingham Fountain, which we didn’t get to do in May…it was just as grand as I remembered it!
The place we really wanted to spend time at, though, was Navy Pier, the last really big thing on my list of Chicago things to share with the Fab Five. We walked all the way around it, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to do it…it was in the 70s with a beautiful lake breeze!
Seeing the anchor from the USS Chicago is kind of amazing…you just don’t realize the scale of the size of one until you see it for yourself!
The views from the Pier are amazing!
I also finally got to reunite some of my Homes Bracelets with the place they represent…Lake Michigan!
There was no way we could do all of the things, so I picked one big attraction…the Centennial Wheel. It is very similar in size to the Ferris wheel in St. Louis, but the views of the skyline and Lake Michigan are a lot more impressive than anything we have here in the Lou!
We stopped for Rainbow Cones after our ride. I really prefer the original Beverly location, because it has so much character, but the scenery made the five flavors taste even better!
We walked over to Polk Bros. Park just across the street:
We also shared a burger from the Billy Goat Tavern, just so we could say we had one:
And then we walked back through the mall and to the end of the Pier again:
I will never tire of the view!
The other big reason for our trip north was so that Bunny and I could visit the Rare Dirndl design studio, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, which is a really cool place! We toured the studio, did some shopping, and most importantly of all, got to meet and talk to the designer, Erika Neumayer!
On the way home, we stopped at Portillo’s, as is our tradition:
I’m not going to lie…it was a lot of time to spend in the car in one day (although we certainly had days that were longer on our vacation!), but it was worth it to get to see Chicago one more time before the end of the summer!
When I first saw the Rare Dirndl Lemonade Stand apron, I thought it was pretty. But when I learned that the proceeds from the aprons were going to Alex’s Lemonade Stand to benefit pediatric cancer research, I knew that it wasn’t just pretty, it was also a piece of clothing with a conscience!
I actually didn’t have my purple dirndl in mind when I ordered the apron…at least not for my first styling. But when I saw the lovely color in the flowers, a faint pinkish-purple, I knew that it would be perfect…and I really love purple and yellow together, too!
I went with lots of edelweiss accessories:
It’s such a summery look!
I’d love to see Rare Dirndl do more charity aprons in the future…it’s a great way for me to support both a small business and a good cause!
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!
As I’ve been collecting dirndls from Rare Dirndl to add to my wardrobe, I’ve also been collecting dirndl blouses. If you’ve never worn a dirndl blouse before, they’re kind of a unique item…they’re (usually) an extreme form of a crop top, often with a drawstring at the bottom so you can decide how much coverage you want.
I now have four blouses…three white and one black. Two of my white blouses are lace, and I think they’re my very favorite, because they have such a traditional look. The other two blouses both have puff sleeves, which is really fun! I love how switching out the blouse can give a dirndl a totally different look…it allows for so many more styling options!