Party like a Tourist.

“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot 
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It’s October in Germany, which can only mean one thing.  Oktoberfest!

End of September through mid-October in Germany is abound with Volkfests, which in Germany are really just festivals with beer, wine, food, amusement rides, etc. The most notorious Volksfest being Munich Oktoberfest. We happen to live near Stuttgart, which has a phenomenal Volksfest, and this year we did it BIG.  Lederhosen, dirndl, braided hair.  We drank the liters of beer, sang Sweet Caroline at the top of our lungs.  We sang German songs like Texans that know very little German.  And here in Germany, something I can appreciate, is if you dance like Elaine from Seinfeld, you are in great company.

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Dirndl shopping at Krüger in Stuttgart.

It’s only been just over a month that we’ve been living in Germany, and one thing has really stood out to me.  I’ve lived in some great cities, but am guilty of having not made the most of seeing and doing all the things to experience the places that I’ve lived in the US.  It’s more obvious to me now that we are in another country and go see something different almost every weekend.  If you’re friends with expats, you probably notice that as well.  They see everything.  They live like they only have a few years there. Oktoberfest may not be available to everyone, but I bet there are some really great things to see and experience right where you are. It doesn’t take a trip overseas to see new things, learn, and have loads of fun!
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The lesson for myself, is wherever I am, whether in Europe or small-town Texas, is to party like a tourist!  Live like you’re only going to be there for a few years.  Go to the festivals. Go to the museums.  Take a road trip.  Go to the farmers market.  Pour yourself a beer, turn on Sweet Caroline really loud, stand up on a chair, but not on the table (you animal) and live a full life where you are.  Prost!
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Texas Chili

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If you’re like me, the first hint of crisp, cool air, and I’m thinking about one thing for dinner – warm, spicy, and hearty CHILI. But let me start off by saying one thing. Don’t you dare start on the beans vs. no beans debate. Just don’t. If you’re not familiar, Texans have long argued about whether or not beans belong in chili. Personally, I like both versions. But I grew up with beans in my chili, and that’s what hits the spot for me.

One of the very first things I cooked in Germany was this chili, which is a modification of one of my favorite chili recipes from home. It has a lot of flavor and spice, NO JUNK, and it is so simple. Enjoy!

Texas Chili

Yields: 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2-3 tablespoons chipotle in adobo (3 if you like it pretty spicy)
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
1 cup full-bodied red wine
1/4 cup worcestershire
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 15 ounce cans of kidney beans
2 15 ounce cans of crushed tomatos
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a dutch oven over medium heat,  add avocado oil, and saute onion and bell pepper until soft.  Add in chipotles in adobo, chili powder, and cumin and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until flavors are combined.

Add ground beef to onion and pepper mixture and salt meat liberally.  Break up meat and brown on medium-high heat. Once meat is browned, drain grease, if necessary.  *When in the US, I would have skipped this step, but German ground beef seems to be a higher fat percentage, so I leave this step in for my friends in Deutschland!

Once meat is browned, add the red wine and worcestershire and simmer for approximately five minutes, until wine and worcestershire have cooked down slightly.  Pour the remaining wine in a coffee mug, drink, and continue to the next step.

Add beans and tomato sauce and simmer on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Add additional salt to taste.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt, cilantro, and chips.

MACROS:  Calories 452, Carbs 34g, Fat 21g, Protein 31g, Sugar 8g

 

Sometimes You Get What You Need

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This week marks one month that we have been living in Germany.  It’s still so hard to believe that we’re here thousands of miles from our family, friends, and a decent margarita!

Andy and I have both lived in Texas our entire lives.  But about 6 months ago, we found out that Andy was getting a great opportunity with his job, that would take us to Germany, if we accepted it.  I’d worked in the corporate world since coming out of college, and the idea of not working honestly really scared me!  I mean, what am I going to do all day?  Will my life have purpose?  I wonder if I will get depressed with those long cold Winters?  Can I still afford Lululemon pants?!  We had several long talks, but both knew deep down that this was an opportunity, that if not taken, we would deeply regret.  We quickly told our families and friends, and then not long after, put our house on the market, sold our cars, and here we are!

I did a lot of thinking on how I would use this time in Germany, because as I said, the thought of being unemployed terrified me!  One thing really stood out to me in those times of reflection.  I think so often in adulthood, we lose the art of “play”, and get caught up in always being productive in some way.  For some of us, it’s because we don’t create the space necessary, and others are juggling parenthood and multiple jobs, and legitimately don’t have the space in their lives.  So in this season, I really wanted to be purposeful, and do things that I enjoy, just for the heck of it.  If you would have told me several years ago that I would be leaving my job, selling everything, and moving to Europe, I would have said you were CRAZY.  Nope.  I’m a realist.  What, am I going to start blogging too?  Well, God has a humorous way of reminding us who is in control.  And he has an even better way of giving us what we need, even when we don’t realize we need it.  I’m sure one day I will be back in Texas, neck deep in work deadlines, racing home to a couple unruly kids, and I will daydream about the season in life when I had the space and freedom to rest, play, dream, and to have the occasional 2 pm beer.  Am I right?

I’m really excited to share our journey, from life in Germany to travel adventures, and of course some of my favorite recipes I’ve cooked up (in our teeny-tiny German kitchen)!  Stay tuned.

Tschüss!

Christan