Dirndls and Lederhosen

I feel like there’s some things you have to do if you come to Germany.

See castles
Visit Christmas markets
See a concentration camp
Eat bread and cheese
…and schnitzel, and spätzle, and pretzels
Walk through historical villages
and what some may deem the most important:

Visit Munich’s Oktoberfest, aka their major beer festival.

It’s almost a rite of passage in Germany and something that must be done if you’re here in the fall. Thing is, it’s awfully crowded since people from all over the world attend the festival, and the cost of trains and hotels skyrocket because of it. That makes it less than desirable to attend.

But what’s great is there’s another beer festival that’s just as fun, just as popular, but less known, and that’s the Cannstatter Volksfest. It’s more a place where the locals go, and since it’s closer to us, is where we went this year!
Octoberfest, Volksfest
It was my first time, and I was so excited to go! I bought a dirndl, a traditional Bavarian dress, last year in hopes of going, but schedules got in the way, and sadly that dress sat in my closet untouched. I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to wear it, but as luck would have it, we got tickets for a reserved table, with tickets for beer and chicken (a necessity) and had a hard date set.

german dirndl
Trying it on, last year.

Though I was excited to get dressed up, I never imagined G would don a lederhosen outfit, and figured he’d go in his normal “going out” clothes, but I was shocked when the day before, he went to pick out an entire Bavarian outfit from head to toe. I’m talking: hat, shirt, pants, socks, and even shoes! He went ALL out, and I was doing cartwheels inside.

german lederhosen
Very similar to what G wore!

So, come Saturday, we both got all dressed up, hopped on the train, and headed to Volksfest. I was nervous at first to walk around in my dirndl since we were literally the only ones around dressed up, but after changing trains, we blended in because EVERYONE was wearing either dirndls or lederhosen. It made me feel a lot more comfortable and excited to get there.

Germany volksfest, octoberfest
One of the many “tents” at Volksfest

I had no idea what to expect, but the second we walked into our assigned tents (there’s different beer sponsored tents with tables and live music), I was hit by the noise level. It was deafening. Everyone was cheering, singing, laughing, and talking while the live band blared their music. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was standing on the benches at their table. You only sat if you were eating.

It was crazy!

We got to our table and got food and a beer. Not your typical pint or half pint of beer, but a liter…each. A liter. Think on that. The stein is enormous and we had tickets for three each!
dirndl, octoberfest

((I’ll give the spoiler now….we didn’t drink three each!))

I can’t even imagine drinking that much beer, but I watched as some had 5,6, and even 7 liters of beer in a matter of 3-4 hours. That’s almost two gallons, if you can believe that! Lots of bloodshot, half-opened eyes and stumbling going on. Despite that though, the crowd was a lot of fun, singing and dancing to the music. The atmosphere was nothing I’d ever been in before, and it didn’t matter you didn’t know anyone around you, within 15 minutes, you were already good friends sharing extra beers with one another.

We arrived late and only got to enjoy our table for 1 1/2 hours, but in that time, I drank one stein successfully.
germany octoberfest

germany octoberfest, beer
No, I wasn’t chugging it. just pretending to, promise. 😉

Something to be proud of… Or not, I’ll never say, 😉 but I walked out of the tent and back into daylight without any stumbling of my own.
I’m not a drinker, let alone of beer, so I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up, so I was glad I felt pretty “with it.” I’ll thank eating the chicken dinner at the beginning and taking things slow for that. And for not being a beer drinker, I will say the beer was pretty good. Its a special kind that only comes out during the festival, so it makes it all the more special.
germany festival

One thing that makes the festival even better is it’s for everyone young and old. They have games, rides, and loads of different food vendors. There’s absolutely no reason to go into a tent, if you don’t want to. This was the first time G and I had ever been to a fair (of sorts) and he won me a teddy bear at one of the games. I was impressed by his dexterity!

We were smart and didn’t go on any crazy rides, but I was really surprised the amount of {drunk} people that did. These weren’t cute little gentle rides. These were full-on carnival make-you-puke kind of rides. I’m just glad I didn’t see anyone actually puke!

It was a long day and we were out cold by 9pm, but it was such a fun and enjoyable day at Volksfest. If you find yourself in Germany, and it happens to be around this time, consider going to Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart. Or if you’re into crazier crowds – Munich’s Oktoberfest. Buy a dirndl or lederhosen, reserve a table, and have a sip of beer for me.

You’ll be glad you did.

Olive oil granola – a must make!

It’s raining outside when the trusty weather app shows “cloudy” only, but I don’t mind. I get to hear the rain fall and the drip, drip, drip of the storm drain outside the patio door. I’m sitting here in my flannel shirt staying nice and cozy as the smell of my olive oil granola (recipe below!) fills the entire apartment.

recipe, olive oil granola
My second batch in two weeks.

Addicted? Perhaps, but its a good kind of addicted. Mixed with this new Turkish yogurt I found at the store and I barely have any control to stop. The main German grocery store by my house used to carry a Greek yogurt. At 10% fat, it was nice and thick. We used it for everything and replaced sour cream with it.

And then, the store just stopped selling it. Something I find they do often – sell a product and then never restock it. But in it’s place appeared this Turkish yogurt; which, upon researching, aka googling, it’s on par with Greek yogurt, so I grabbed the 3.5% fat to see how it was.

Verdict: delicious, better, but runny. Like sour cream runny.

So, I bought the 10% fat and I will never ever go back to plain Greek yogurt again. I’m a convert! Turkish all the way. It’s thick yummy goodness surpasses anything we’ve ever tasted, and I realize I just wrote several paragraphs about yogurt, but I can’t help it. Its that superior to anything in the states and even here…and if I’m honest, is the main reason why I’m making a second batch of olive oil granola.
greek yogurt

Over the weekend, we attended a bizarre where over 50 vendors from all over Europe come together to sell their products..at grossly discounted prices. This is a “can’t miss opportunity,” so we drove the two hours to get to it. I needed to replenish my olive oil and typically get it from an Italian olive grove company, but they weren’t there! Much to my sadness.

I found another Italian family selling their’s and I hate to admit it, but it’s even better than the other company! So fresh and delicious. The smell alone…I don’t think Americans know what truly fresh olive oil smells like, and friends, it’s amazing! I almost didn’t want to use it on my granola, like I need to savor it, but I know it’ll make it taste all the better.

recipe, olive oil granolaSo, what is this recipe I keep going on about and why in the world would I put olive oil on it? Because it’s nothing without it! That’s why!! Just make it and I promise you’ll flip as I have. Promise.

OLIVE OIL GRANOLA

3c oats
1 1/2c your favorite nuts (I love peanuts, cashews, and pecans in mine!)
1c pumpkin seeds (or your favorite)
1c coconut chips
3/4c maple syrup OR honey OR half of each
1/2c extra virgin olive oil
1tsp kosher salt
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp cardamom OR nutmeg
*3/4c dried fruits, ie. craisins, raisins, apricots ect

Preheat oven to 300*F (149*C)
In large bowl, combine ALL ingredients except dried fruit.
Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
**Transfer to a large bowl or storage container and add dried fruit, stirring to combine.

Serve with yogurt, ricotta, berries or as “cereal” with milk. Gobble up!!

Notes:
*dried fruit can be added before baking, however, they will harden and become difficult to chew. Adding at the end makes them the easiest to enjoy.
**best to transfer to glass bowl immediately after removing from oven. If let cool, the granola will become painfully stuck to the pan. you.will.regret.this!! If you happen to forget, pop it back in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes to soften the honey and to retain your sanity.

recipe, olive oil granolaMake this and tell me how you liked it. I love how this can be customized to your taste preferences, so, have some fun with it and report back to me what you used!!

I’m off to enjoy my delicious bowl of granola and yogurt!
recipe, olive oil granola

3 months on, 3 weeks off

Back in May, G and I went to the states for a couple weeks to celebrate a number of events. One being our first anniversary and two my college graduation. Two very big deals, if I may say! I never imagined that I would graduate from college…let alone at the age of 35. I’ll save that story for another day, but visiting family and friends plus enjoying all the celebrations led to a near 10lb weight gain for me.

I’ll backstory that because truthfully, I did not gain 10lbs in 2 weeks. I did, however, not help the ever-growing weight gain in those two weeks either.

Over the years, I’ve had neck problems. In short: I got injured at work 12 years ago which has resulted in a lot of problems. Fast forward to two years ago and those problems increased to finding a lesion on my spinal cord – thankfully NOT M.S. – but it has limited me drastically in my ability to workout.

Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

Then last July, while we were visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, I injured my foot so badly I couldn’t walk for two+ weeks. How did I injure it? By walking downhill.. yes, just by simply walking… To this day, I still have trouble with it, with the doctors saying, ‘I dunno’ when I ask what’s wrong. Add this on top of my many neurological problems I have with both feet (that forced me to medically retire from my career six years ago), and this brings us to February! I did silly ol’ jumping jacks, and my neck got so angry, I couldn’t work out for months, which brings us back to May!

Phew! Quite the backstory.

Now you can understand how 10lbs began creeping on, because despite eating healthful meals each and every day, not working out was beginning to take its toll. Add two weeks in the states with all the delicious American foods, and before I knew it, I couldn’t breath in any of my jeans anymore. Sitting OR standing!

I felt terrible and knew I had to push past the pain and begin working out again. Though I have access to gyms, I’ve never felt comfortable in them. I wander, get bored, and admittedly intimidated, so, instead I committed to working out for 90 days at home.

Call me crazy, but I’m a big P90X fan (absolutely not a rep, just a fan). I have the original and the newest version, P90X3. I had already done 3 the year before, and was d-o-n-e by the end of it (aka couldn’t stand to do one more workout) so, I grabbed the (much) longer P90X and did the “lean” version.

Let me tell you, it’s a commitment!

My brain prefers 30 minute workouts and these were sometimes almost 1 1/2 hours long. I had to gear myself up numerous times to get through them, but I stuck with it.

After phase one – 4 weeks of working out 6 days a week – I asked G the all important question: “Can you tell a difference??”

His answer: no.

Dang.

Truthfully, I knew the answer, because it was the same as mine. I didn’t see a single change in my body. My weight was almost the exact same, and my clothes were still fitting extremely tight. But I pressed on into phase two.

I asked G again at the end of phase two, now 8 weeks of 6 day a week workouts, “can you tell a difference??”

His answer: yes.

Whew! Progress was being made; slow, but it was there, and I was starting to notice it too! Even though my weight had only dropped two pounds, my clothes were fitting better, and I wasn’t feeling so bleh. — I should note that G said a lot more than “yes” but I’m giving you the cliff notes version. 😉

At the end of phase three, I was singing praises for being done, but also for the results. I was leaner, had more muscle, and fit back in all my clothes again…comfortably! Hallelujah! Though I had only lost around 4lbs, it didn’t matter. I could tell, and definitely G too, that there were major changes from working out, and I was happy for it.

One downside of the lean version we both noticed is it doesn’t do anything for the legs. So, while my arms and abs toned nicely, my legs seemingly got softer and flabbier.

I wonder had I chosen the “classic” and not “lean” version of P90X if I would have had more full-body results, but I’m not quite ready to dive into the hour+ workouts again to find out. They’re smart for keeping it at 90 days, because you truly get sick of it by end of phase 3. Instead, I relished in a three week break and have just started a new 5-day-a-week workout I created to target my legs: 3 days legs/abs, 2 days arms. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

So! What are your favorite workout programs? I’m always up for a fun, muscle-building at-home workout program!

Are you a gym-goer or home-worker-outer (that’s a word, promise) 😉 If you haven’t done P90X, I’d definitely say give it a go. X3 is only 30 minutes each and well worth the effort, but I found P90X incorporates more hand weights which gave me greater muscle growth in my arms. I’m definitely all about toned and defined arms, so bring on the weights! But would love some other recommendations.

p.s. is it possible to write a whole post about working out and NOT have a “workout” photo?? Well, I’m making it possible. 😉