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Thank You Donna!

Over the past two years, as well as trying to learn the Irish language on my own, I have learned sign language. My teacher, Donna Leff, is retiring, and I will miss her so much! Watch this video to see some awesome American Sign Language!

How Scottsdale Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day!

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The beer that was brewed for St. Patrick’s Day was not quite finished yet, but the holiday came to Arizona anyway.

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The day before St. Patty’s was a Saturday, and Arizona took advantage of that day to host parades, festivals, and events all over the state.

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Scottsdale however, was not quite finished drinking and celebrating on Saturday.

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The Scottsdale Center for the Arts hosted a St. Patty’s Music Fest. Although Sunday was actually the holiday, this was the only location I could find people celebrating still.

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Perhaps people didn’t want to be hung over on Monday.

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But it was a beautiful day!

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Babies dressed in green, because they were just so darn tired of being pinched.

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Even the ducks wore green!

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The weather was beautiful.

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Love was in the air! (Okay, that’s a stretch, but this is a nice picture).

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People lined up to buy beer, trinkets, music, and things. Especially the green

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There was dancing.

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And splashing about!

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All in all, a very nice day.

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And that’s how Scottsdale, does St. Patty’s.

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With Class.

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49th Annual Highland Games

Every year the Calendonian Society of Arizona hosts a Scottish festival and highland games. In this video you will see competitions such as the Caber Toss, where competitors balance a large 100-200 pound pole and toss it into the air. The object of the challenge is to get the top end to land on the ground in front of you, and then the entire pole to fall forward in a perfect arch. You can see the disappointment in some of the competitors faces in this video as the pole comes falling back the wrong way, toward them.
Other competitions include the hammer throw, stone toss, sheaf tossing. Females also compete in the Highland Games.
Besides the athletics, the festival features food, a whiskey garden, a trebuchet, the SCA (The Society for Creative Anachronisms), and pipe band competitions.

Beer Brew for St. Patrick’s Day!

In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day I took a trip across the street to an apartment shared by an Irishman and a Scotsman, and brewed some beer.

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–well, I took a lot of pictures and asked a million questions like, “So, what is it you are doing now?” while THEY were brewing some beer.

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This is one of those, “What are you doing now??” instances

 What started out as a large bag of grains (which looked like horse food), a smaller bag of hops (which looked rather like turtle food), some yeast (which didn’t look like food at all) and a lot of water, became, in a few short hours, the beginnings of beer.

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Grains!

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Activating the yeast pouch

First thing, they filled a giant pot with water and heated it to 160*F, which took quite a few minutes to heat considering the quantity of water. (While the pot was heating, we ordered some pizza and got some more purified water from the store down the road, sat and talked a bit, stared at the pot…

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Making sure the temperature is correct

Then they added the bag of grain, mixing it with the hot water in a bright orange igloo container. They allowed the temperature to cool down to 152* and placed the lid onto the container for twenty minutes to maintain the temperature.

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Stir.

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And yes, the giant spoon is a beer making essential!

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The grainy water was then boiled, and 1oz of hops was added to the mixture.

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Smelling the hops… smells like turtle food too!

They kept a detailed log of the process, noting the time of boil in a leather beer journal.

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The water was boiled, more hops were added, boil, hops, boil, hops, boil…

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and then some crazy things with a tube that are apparently essential to the beer making process….

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Then the brew was cooled, water was added. The yeast packet, which was flat when we first started the beer making process, had expanded like a balloon. Apparently that means it was ready to be added to the beer.

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The little yeasty boys went to work, consuming sugars and making beer. We, however, passed out. It was two in the morning by the time the brew was secure in the closet, where it would stay for two weeks before it could be bottled.

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Two weeks later, the India Pale Ale emerged from the closet (well after St. Patrick’s Day) and due to its citrusy zing (which apparently surfaced images of nuclear bombs popping on the tongue) was named Oppenheimer Ale.

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Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day.

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The Renaissance Festival… A Story

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Once upon a time, a young girl went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival in search of adventure!

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As soon as she entered the festival is was as if she was transported back in time.

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She saw magical performances. Statues came to life.

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Men everywhere were adorned in the plaid glory of kilts

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She feasted upon strange and delicious delicacies!

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And after the feasting was done, she feasted some more!

 

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The young girl learned the language of the age,

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and put her newfound knowledge to use in the tournament arena. Brave knights jousted to the death.

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Strange sights and strange animals were around every corner.

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Storybook characters came to life.

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The old merged with the present

 

 

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And by the end of a wonder filled day, she found herself exhausted… yet ready for more!
-The End

 

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It’s all plaid from here…

As this blog progresses it will house all sorts of information about resources that are available to Celtic enthusiasts all over Arizona. Check in regularly for updates about upcoming events, pictures and media covering past events, classes available for step dancing, bagpipes, and language, and insights into the Arizona Celtic culture!

 

If you happen to go to one of the events, send in your pictures and a story about your experience, I would love to hear what you think! Just shoot me an email or comment below.

Check out the upcoming events section at the bottom of this page, and don’t miss a single opportunity for haggis, welsh cakes, bagpipes, or kilts!