Celtic Thunder

Warning: So much rambling ahead. This post is for my own mental benefit, nothing more.

I think it’s fitting I’m writing this entry on this particular weekend. In 2009 and 2010 I spent the day in Boston hoping to get autographs from or photos with the various members of Celtic Thunder. But not this year. This year the Boston date has already come and gone, and with none of that same excitement and anticipation of years past.

The tone of my Celtic Thunder adventures was entirely altered, and definitely not for the better. The weather was terrible and rainy. My internship kept me from hopping on an 8am bus to Boston to hang out around the venue all day. The nasty weather meant that my 1:30pm bus was an hour behind schedule, and so I did not arrive in Boston until 7:00pm. In the history of my going to these concerts I have never cut it that close. During the last hour or so of the bus ride I actually developed a knot in the pit of my stomach and I became very anxious. I did not know how far away we still were or if I would make it in time. Not a good feeling to have during what is supposed to be one of the most fun nights of the semester.

It did not in the least bit feel like a Celtic Thunder concert day. In fact, the days leading up to it did not even feel like they have in the past. I was not reading reviews and reactions to the shows online. I was not lurking in the ThunderPub (oh dear, that’s a whole other story with how different it is now). I was not squealing incoherently with excitement to my friends and roommates. Things were just . . . different. And I’m not entirely sure why. I mean sure, I have an idea, but the changes with CT should not have affected me as much as I seemed to have been affected.

Hearing and reading about all the changes occurring with the people involved is one thing, but seeing it (or not seeing it, as was the case) during the shows made it all truly hit me. It all came crashing down and hit me full force. That weekend was probably one of the most bittersweet times in my life. Not seeing Paul and Damian on that stage with the rest of the lads left me with a bit of an empty feeling, as melodramatic as that may sound. For some reason, missing them physically hurt. I haven’t been this affected by an absence in my life in a few years, and I have to say that I’m not too keen to revisit this feeling again any time soon. Also absent from CT were: Brendan, Dave Cooke, PHIL COULTER, the “Heartland” opening, Neil being on stage and playing for the whole time (plus his kilt!). Probably the thing I missed the most was not hearing Buachaill on Eirne. Oh Damo. . . .

Speaking of Damo, as I’m thinking more and more about it, I think The Glee Project was just absolutely cruel. I had to sit through episode after episode to see if Damo would be in the tour this fall, and waiting more than two months to find out he’d be moving on was absolutely inhuman. I couldn’t think of a worse form of torture if I tried. It was the polar opposite of just ripping the Band-Aid off. Way to prolong the pain, Ryan Murphy. I hate you even more now. Especially since I saw Damo’s outfit for his first episode. Just . . . no. And “Pot-‘O-Gold” for the title? Seriously? *sigh*

I read in a CT blog comment that someone did not like the choice of “Friends in Low Places” for Ryan because he couldn’t reach the really low notes. And to this person I just want to say “eff you,” because to so many people (and I’m sure to Ryan as well) this song was not about him performing it perfectly. It was about assuring us that Ryan would “be okay” after all the hell he’s been through since May. I have to admit that tears were shed when the rest of the lads came on stage to since the last bit of the song with him.

During the shows I could not exactly pinpoint it, but something was just off. After some thought, I realized that the sound was entirely different now. I love wee Danny, but I he just changes the sound. His little soprano voice does not blend with the rest of the lads, and as a result the group sound loses its deep, manly quality. I miss that. Damo, please come back and round it out again. Please? Also, please don’t sing a falsetto song on Glee. Please?

After that first Boston show I finally had to admit that this truly was the end of an era. I adore the CT lads as they are now, but it doesn’t change the fact that so many things are irreversibly different now. What I thought stood a chance at being a constant in my life proved me wrong, but it was also wrong of me to want things to remain the same forever in the first place. I guess I can look at all of this as a lesson in coping and going with the flow when something hits me on a personal level.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m growing up and things are going to change. Who knows where I’ll be come next fall. Will I still be in New York? Will I be in close proximity to a CT show? How about the Boston show, will I be able to continue the tradition of going with my friend? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, and I absolutely hate it. This part of my life used to be concrete. Buy the concert tickets as soon as they went on sale (and of course get two for Boston) and eagerly wait for fall. But now, will I be able to get them as soon as they are available? I just don’t know. And I hate that.

So Much Has Happened

This past month (heck, these past two weeks) has been one giant roller coaster of emotion. And that’s just in relation to Celtic Thunder.

Back in May I wished all the happiness in the world to Ryan Kelly when he left the group, and earlier this month some crazy/insane/unbelievable/horrible things were done to him by another party that worried Thunderheads around the country/world. While curious me wants to know the details about what happened, I’m just glad Ryan is safe and happy and returning to what he loves–performing. I’m also pretty sure if Thunderheads found out about all that transpired there would be an angry mob wielding pitchforks and torches storming the culprit’s home à la Beauty and the Beast. That’s how much we care about protecting these lads. As it is, the only thing we can do is continue to support Ryan and show him how much we missed him during his absence. There will definitely be a lot more cheering for our beloved “Dark Destroyer” at the shows I’m going to next month (NEXT MONTH!!).

(Photo from here.)

While we got one lad back, another one is off to pursue bigger and better things in L.A. Wee Damian went and won himself  a 7-episode arc on GLEE! Over the summer I watched him compete for this prize on The Glee Project, and I can’t even express how proud of him I am (as are so many others). But then there’s that other part of me that can’t believe I won’t hear him sing “Buachaill ón Éirne” live this fall. I’ve watched him grow up these past few years and it’s hard to believe he’s the next to leave. If anything, I thought it would be Keith next, not Damo.

(Photo from Damian’s Official Facebook page.)

There have been so many changes in the CT lineup since the beginning of the last tour, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that the group I fell in love with in March 2008 won’t exist in the same way for much longer. I’m sure I will continue to love everyone that is a part of it, but I think this will be my last year of going to multiple shows. I’ll definitely go to an NYC show, but I don’t think I will travel to Boston or New Jersey again.  Change is a part of life, but you can’t fault me for not loving and supporting the changes in the same way as the original.

(Photo from here.)

Well, I Certainly Fell Off the Face of the Earth

What can I say. I completely disappeared and didn’t want to face the world for that last month of school. But it’s over now and the 2011 Summer of Fun has officially begun! I’ve made so many things that I still need to post about, and those will be coming along bit by bit.

But first, I would like to wish all the health and happiness in the world to Ryan Kelly, my beloved Dark Destroyer, who officially left Celtic Thunder on May 12, 2011. I am so happy I was able to meet you in Boston in 2009 and to say hello to you a couple of other times over the past couple of years. Good luck in whatever you choose to pursue next, you have my full love and support.

I think I should move on to happier news now, don’t you think?

I’d like to come back to the blogging world with this fantastic cake recipe. I’m a sucker for doughnut muffins and anything doughnut, so this certainly hit the mark: The Donut Cake! It turned out absolutely wonderfully.

I think the secrets to this cake were the hints of nutmeg and cornmeal in the batter. The strawberries were a nice complement to the cake as well, so I’m glad I had them on hand, even if they were originally frozen.

I couldn’t get enough of this fake doughnut-y goodness. I can’t wait to make it again and again and again. You can have cake for breakfast, right? It has the word doughnut in its title, so that must count for something.

And if I eat it with strawberries or some kind of fruit on the side? Totally a breakfast food. I’m going to tell myself whatever I need to in order to convince myself that this can be eaten for breakfast without guilt. OH! I think I just came up with the winning justification: it doesn’t have chocolate, so it’s nice and light and breakfast-worthy! There we go. Donut cake for breakfast for everyone! Enjoy!

Bonanza #3 — Oreo Cupcakes

A little preface before I dive into the cupcakes:

I admit that my Bi-Weekly Baking Bonanzas have been failing. Even when I manage to make them, I either don’t take pictures or I’m trying to rush through them. That is NOT what I wanted when I first set out to do this. These are the points I wanted to accomplish, and it’s unfortunate that I’m not succeeding as I had wished.

GOALS OF THE BAKING BONANZAS:

1. Read through the ingredient list and physically check that I have EVERYTHING in the proper amounts.

* I’m doing okay at this, but honestly, I could do better — Half-Check.

2. Read through the instructions at least once before taking anything out.

* Okay, I’m definitely doing this — Check.

3. Pre-measure ingredients.

* NOPE — Check-Minus.

4. DON’T MAKE SUCH A HUGE MESS! (This one’s really important.)

* Who am I kidding, I’m making just as big a mess every time. BUT, I’m getting better about washing my dishes when I’m done, but I think that also has something to do with there never being any room in the sink to just let them sit. — I’ll give it a Check for that.

5. Take LOTS of photos of the ENTIRE process, from start to finish.

* Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I’d probably take more pictures if I had natural lighting in my kitchen, rather than the gross yellow overhead lighting — Nothing.

6. SLOW DOWN and ENJOY the baking process.

* I wish I could give myself a Check for this, but I’m just so rushed lately — Check-minus.

I honestly thought this whole process would be such a fun experience. I hate being wrong, but honestly, did I honestly expect to accomplish all this during the semester? I should have known that school and work would ultimately get in the way. Other things have gotten in the way too, and I should have known they would. I was SO optimistic at the start, but as the weeks go on and things don’t get done, that optimism wanes and that depresses me. It also doesn’t help that I don’t really have anyone to bake FOR.

Okay, enough with the depressing stuff. On to the cupcakes.

Unfortunately, this Bonanza truly embodied the rushed nature of my baking. On the spur of the moment late one Monday night I decided to bake these for a friend to either celebrate her becoming an RA or comfort her if she did not get the job. That’s one good thing about baking, it can be either for celebration or comfort, and you don’t have to change a thing in the recipe.

Let me just say that I was terrible at separating the mint Oreos. The cream was too squishy and so not many of the halves separated cleanly.

I did half mint-bottomed cupcakes and half double-stuffed bottoms. The purple and green are mint, and the red and blue are plain.

I ended up crunching up the Oreos rather than just cutting them into big chunks, but I liked the outcome of how I did it. I know, I didn’t “follow the recipe” as it said, but oh well. They were still very yummy.

They domed up and didn’t spread out over the tin, which really pleased me.

However, I should have known that the Oreos would stick to the liners because I didn’t spray them. I may have consumed some wrapper with my cupcakes.

They turned out to be comfort cupcakes during lunch the next day. They cheered her up a bit, but she was still disappointed.

Which would you rather eat? This gigantic apple or a cupcake? It was a hard decision, but I did eventually eat my apple. The cupcake may or may not have been consumed first. The point is that I DID eat my apple.

In other news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PAUL BYROM, my beloved Swanky Tenor.

Hello blog, I’m Emerald Thunder! It’s nice to meet you.

Wow, now didn’t I fall of the face of the earth? It’s been SO long. It’s now the END of March, spring break has been over for a long time, the CT promo trips are over, and I’m gearing up for the end of the semester and all of my final papers. I’ve also made a few yummy things and just haven’t gotten around to/had time to blog about them.

Another thing, my baking bonanzas are failing miserably. I’ve only blogged about ONE of them so far. . . . Yeah. . . . I’ve done the pomegranate white chocolate chip cookies, the Oreo Cupcakes, and the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, but their photos are still waiting impatiently on my memory card. I really need to post them. Soon.

Here’s what else I’ve been up to in the past month:

MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!

It was so super cheesy before I baked it. I think I kept it in the oven a bit too long, and so it dried out. I added some extra milk to my bowl and it turned out okay. I made this again last week and decided against baking it (also because I was just so hungry, haha). Much better that way. Maybe next time I’ll put it in the oven for like 5 minutes. I don’t need a crispy crust on it, so 5 minutes should be sufficient.

This is what happens when you’re making mac and cheese and not paying attention to which way you’re flailing your arms.

Burnt to a black crisp pasta has such a wonderful and fragrant smell. From now on, the box will ALWAYS be closed unless I am pouring the pasta into the pot of water. But it’s okay, this story had a happy ending.

BROWNIES!!!

I absolutely love the Best Cocoa Brownies recipe on Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. It’s been my go-to recipes for a few months now, granted with a few alterations in the form of an extra egg and a bunch of chocolate chips melted into the batter. This time, however, I forgot to add the chips to the batter, and so I just sprinkled some on top. I think I might just stick with doing that, as they were still super amazing without the added chocolate.

And some yogurt-covered pretzels that worked okay, but I don’t think I’ll try to make them again. This version didn’t even come CLOSE to the terrible-for-you store-bought ones. I wanted that, but I failed in creating it. Oh well.

And a sneak peek for the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake Bonanza

I didn’t make all of the batter into cupcakes (there was SO MUCH BATTER), so I poured the leftover into a 9×13 pan and baked it into a cake. Then I topped it with green buttercream for St. Patrick’s Day.

I planned on using my shamrock cookie cutter on this cake, but it just didn’t work out well. The cookie cutter was just too small and the cake was just too thick. So I cut it into small squares instead.

And finally, POPCORN.

I admit, I had no part in making the popcorn besides watching and laughing at my jumpy friend’s expense.