Catch my breath

Moo cow

I feel like I’m doing the opposite of what the “normal” person does. The normal person travel all through Summer and then gets back into a groove of work, maybe school, but basicallyΒ stopsΒ traveling once Fall hits, and that hasn’t been the case here, at all.

We stayed home almost all of Summer with only me taking a trip to visit my friend in Leipzig, in July. But that’s pretty much it. Now though! it’s been go-go-go and all I can say is I’m looking forward to staying home this weekend.

Through all of this, I forget that blogging is there. I used to write all the time with my other blog, and now I have to remind myself that YES you DO have a blog again, and it means posting more than the occasional one a month. This is a process IΒ must re-learn!

For the past three weeks, we did a trip to Austria to see those amazing cows above, then I turned around the next day and took a 4 day trip to Bavaria by myself for a photography workshop, THEN less than 48 hours later, we were driving BACK to Bavaria and Austria for the weekend to see Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and do the Sound of Music tour…quite different, yet, appropriately combined adventures! Those are all 4-5 hour drives each way for all destinations, and all I can say is: I’m beat!

germany bavaria mountains
Me in Bavaria
eagle's nest germany
Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”

Mixed in all this, I’m also taking German classes and that just adds a whole new level of time-consuming stress that I can’t even explain…unless you’ve learned a new language as well, and can commiserate. But if not, just know: its tough! I find myself lying in bed each night thinking of how to form sentences and what a particular word means, and what was the different between, “gegen, geben, gegeben, again? and is it gibt es, or es gibt..and will I ever figure out how to use that properly!??”Β 

All this keeps me up at night. My own version of nightmares…

So, my guilt levels are high as I go through each day thinking I need to spend my time listening/learning German over playing on the internet (we are paying for these classes after all), while still maintaining the home, and all that fun stuff. It’s silly, isn’t it?

There’s a balance for everything, and I suppose if I didn’t enjoy my mornings like I do for as long as I do, I’d probably feel less guilt. πŸ˜‰ but, let’s not think about that.

Dirndls and Lederhosen

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

See castles
Visit Christmas markets
See a concentration camp
Eat bread and cheese
…and schnitzel, and spΓ€tzle, 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 almostΒ 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. πŸ˜‰

Something to be proud of… Or not, I’ll never say, πŸ˜‰ 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 ingredientsΒ 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.Β 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