Faire des Bonhommes!

French CAS Project – Creativity – Making Christmas Bonhommes! (good fellows)

As a part of my French lessons, my classmates and I were asked to take on a strand of CAS in the form of creativity to both practice our French and to promote francophone culture during the holidays; specifically in the form of end of year celebrations and traditions.

Among the many options that were available, what caught my eye the most was making a Christmas food from a French speaking country. I had as of late been spending more and more time in the kitchen exercising my cooking and baking abilities; which for the record, I would say is neither here nor there (usually whatever I make is either shockingly delicious or quite frankly, downright inedible – there is really no in between.) Needless to say I understood that it would have been beyond useful to brush up on those skills before heading off to college in two years time. (LO1 & 2)

Thinking hard on what I could make given the resources I had available, one of the first things that came to mind was the amazing baked bread called “gritibenzen” I ate around Christmas time every year when I was kid and lived in Germany. The bread would be shiny and golden brown, in the shape of adorable little bread people decked in Christmas attire, often decorated with a generous handful of raisins or dried fruit. More importantly, I remembered my dad explaining to me when I was younger that the tradition came from Switzerland where the snack was instead dubbed “bonhommes”.  Even thinking back on it, I would feel a sense of nostalgia, camping outside the stalls at Christmas Markets waiting for our warm “bonhommes” right before heading back home after doing our Christmas shopping.

It was decided then that I would give this dish my best shot – I had never attempted making bread before so this was a start for me and I just prayed that it would all somehow work out in my favor.

Here is a little explanation on the background and origins of my dish in French:

Pour mon projet CAS français, j’ai décidé de préparer un plat de Noël appelé Bonhommes de Suisse. C’est un pain sucré fait pendant la saison de Noël, préparé en général le jour de la Saint-Nicolas; célébré le 6 décembre. Ce plat provient des Celtes qui faisaient leur pain en forme de dieux et d’évêque. Le pain est généralement décoré avec des noix et des raisins et il y avait de nombreux noms différents dans différentes régions de la Suisse comme “Grittibanz” et “Stutenkerl”. Le pain ressemble généralement à un homme.

Voici est la recette que j’ai utilisée 

(The Recipe)


Here is my reflection I wrote after making the bonhommes:

Je viens de terminer la cuisson de mes bonhommes il y a environ une heure avant! Ils sont bien sortis, je dois dire. Bien sûr, ce ne sont pas les meilleurs bonhommes, mais ma famille les a goûtés et ils ont adoré. Cela nous a également rappelé à tous notre séjour en Allemagne, ce qui était vraiment agréable. J’ai fait quelques ajustements au plat, par exemple, j’ai fait un petit bonhomme de neige et une bonne fille aussi (même s’ils n’existent pas vraiment). Je n’aime pas trop les amandes, alors j’ai ajouté des raisins à la place qui sont généralement également présents dans la recette traditionnelle. Enfin, j’ai trouvé qu’ils n’étaient pas aussi colorés que je le souhaitais, alors j’ai utilisé le reste du glaçage de mes biscuits au pain d’épice pour ajouter un peu de couleur à mes pains.

Overall I really loved making them, and I was beyond relieved when they turned out good! I may be an amateur bonhomme maker for now, but I suppose I can add this to the list of Silva holiday traditions at home. I’ll be a professional baker before you know it!! (LO 2 & 3)

Ici sont mes bonhommes!


Winter Wonderland

Final Guitar Ensemble Performance – Spreading the Christmas Cheer *virtually*

Although this year’s guitar ensemble sessions were far beyond unconventional, we certainly found a way to make things work. Towards the beginning of the semester we practiced for the Pink Panther theme song which we all learned but ultimately never pieced together for unknown reasons. However, in realizing we were indeed called the guitar ‘ensemble’, we agreed it felt necessary to at least execute one well rehearsed piece together.

Now, on a normal school year, we would have all been recruited my Miss. Duncan (the music teacher) to participate in the annual Winter Gala – one of the ensemble’s well anticipated performances, but naturally, corona deterred and we were forced to settle for a more unique performance. Instead; we decided to spread the Christmas spirit virtually! We felt this was fitting, especially since it was much needed this year, with a lot of us being isolated from loved ones and without being able to celebrate extravagantly like a lot of families usually do. (LO2 , 4 & 7)

So with a little coordination from Mr. Marlon, we spent roughly 2 (or in my case 1 and 1/2) Wednesday sessions rehearsing to play the classic “Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby. The first lesson was spent familiarizing ourselves with the chords and notation with the group members being assigned their parts, while, I, on the other hand had to miss the crucial second session where they played the chords together for another meeting!!

Regardless; I was eager to not let the rest of my peers down and immediately contacted Mr. Marlon who kindly initiated a make up zoom call lesson for me sometime around 10:30 pm (I may have panicked because I thought the video would be displayed at the end of year assembly the very next day) and we were on our way.  I struggled minorly with the time keeping especially because in a usual ensemble setting you could hear the tempo of the other guitars playing and timing it accordingly but I had to do it by counting. (LO5) The last thing I wanted was to be too fast or too slow because I was playing the most recognizable chords to the song. After working our way through multiple unfamiliar chords and after learning how to track the tempo mentally, I finally called it a day at 11:30 pm, after completing multiple retakes of Winter Wonderland (so many that I was unwilling to listen to Bing Crosby for the rest of the Christmas season :)) and finally gave my guitar strings a much needed break. (LO 4)

Despite the rush to finish, I guess Mr. Marlon didn’t intend for us to show our pre-recorded video the next day because I received the video only two days ago (which might I add is a partial relief because we weren’t necessarily looking the most spirited in our pajamas and flimsy excuses for Christmassy outfits).  It turns out our video was sent to the entire OSC staff instead on the 25th to celebrate Christmas and the work they have done for us in the last term! It was a rather thoughtful gesture and I hope we brightened up their day even by a little bit! :))

I felt proud of the group overall and especially of Mr. Marlon’s editing skills since it came out extremely well timed taking into consideration each of us had a different set of notation to play and recorded it separately without being in the same room as the other! It was quite a feat and thankfully resembled a piece that we would have performed in person. I feel like as a group this year, we overcame a lot, naturally in the same time frame face to face, we would have completed around 2 more pieces, but rehearsal time became limited this year. In addition to that we had less group members at the meetings so the compositions had to be altered and we practiced in rather strange formations from going solo to two person break out rooms to finally playing together. Overall, despite our many shortcomings resources wise this year, we jumped a lot of hurdles (musical and technical); a  Christmas miracle if you will…


^ The link to our video!

Ending 2020 With an Editing Collab!

Video Collaboration of the Year

This might be a little bit delayed but there has been so much going on for the past month or two that I have been waiting impatiently to get the right time to write about it all…

One of the most exciting endeavors I took up over the last few weeks though, most definitely, has to be a 8 part collaboration that I took part in sometime in October. It was finally published in December after a long anticipated wait  (I know that may seem like an awfully long time… but!! the host painstakingly took time out of her day to stitch 8 separate edits together very smoothly and I am in awe in hindsight of how well she pieced it together…)

The collab was initially proposed as a Halloween edit which is still evident in the audio we ended up using ‘Hit the Quan’ ; however, after piecing together edits from different places, time zones, apps and styles it only finally met its completion a few weeks ago mid December.

Making the edit was undoubtedly the most fun part (aside from the reveal); but long before the actual making of the project, came the process of making it into the collab as one of the selected editors. This year’s collab was hosted by one of my editor friends called Maia dubbed nutmegtoby who released the collab with the guidelines. You would pick the player you want to edit and share the selection process around and eventually she would pick the editors to be in her collab (this time it was chosen from a pool of around 34 players for only 8 parts!). (LO 2) 

In my case, I chose Becky Saurbrunn as my player since she’s someone who is wildly underappreciated for her playing and tenacity as a teammate. Not only that but it would have theoretically increased my chances of getting chosen for the collab since she wasn’t one of the players that everyone flocked to try and edit but she was someone who has a quiet but appreciated presence amongst the fans.

I felt absolutely honored to be chosen as one of the editors amidst the many other talented ones who tried out… Needless to say, immediately got to work on my half of the edit. To be honest, I was really proud of my part because the transitions came out pretty smoothly (which for the record rarely happens with the software I use). This goes without saying that I also had a fair share of regret because I used an effect called glow which looks really cool on the editing software but it ruins the quality when rendered and was further ruined by sharing my part via google drive.

Naturally this has always been one of my biggest struggles as an editor in general because, I often feel really happy with the way my edits look on the software itself but after being transferred through 3-4 apps the quality is often ruined which kind of messes up the aesthetic of it. I have learned a lot since, however, and now avoid using the glow effect in my edits, or I just change the intensity of it which is improving the quality of my edits by generous amounts- which I am ecstatic about. (LO1 & 2)

Regardless, after sending my part back to Maia it was just a waiting game. And then… finally came December and the edit was released!! I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit  that by this point I had nearly entirely forgotten that I took part in the first place but, the turnout was very much worth the wait!! It looked incredible! Especially considering how many different apps everyone used (with varying transitions and effects) I genuinely thought that it would be much more mismatched originally but my expectations were by far succeeded.

The best part of doing a collab in my opinion is not being able to see other people’s work till the very end (which is a good thing because you don’t set yourself unrealistic expectations considering that some of these editors have years of experience and have much more high performing editing applications like Adobe’s After Effects. ) It was easy to see that the editors selected were extremely talented and it was nice to get to know new editors through this as well! Honestly, one of the biggest upsides to running an edit account is getting to know a lot of talented people from around the world, especially those who have the same interests as me. (LO 5)


The edit!! ^


Thorns Tribute

Ptfc – In Tribute

The 13th of November this year marked a rather pivotal plot twist in the in women’s football world; the general consensus reached was shock and devastation as fans woke up to news that the Thorns’ star midfielder Tobin Heath had gotten her rights traded to the new expansion club Racing Louisville in Kentucky. You might think, ‘That’s great! This expansion team is going to go places…’ But in reality, majority of Thorns supporters including myself were upset and in the process of lamenting at the prospect of Heath having to leave her home team in Portland after a memorable 7 years. Tobin was one of the original members of the club from when the Thorns were first deployed in 2013 and her influence was impactful to the extent that the many members of the public often connotated her to being the face of the Portland Thorns Football Club.

She was the reason I started following the NWSL and a big part of why I became a Thorns supporter in the first place. She called Portland her home, gave the team its fearsome reputation and expressed her love for her team countless times in interviews saying that she does not plan on leaving…ever. She expressed that being a Thorn was an honor, expressed her gratitude for her fanbase and made multiple crucial friendships during her time there and despite all that; the Thorns without hesitation left her unprotected during the draft pick; most likely without warning because of her lack of response to the announcements.

I felt that her legacy with the Thorns needed to be remembered in time to come and felt the need to give other Riveters something to remember this era by; so, I decided to make an edit in tribute. I spent a long time scouring the internet for interviews, highlights and audios etc. to use to compile my edit. The next few hours were emotionally exhausting as I slowed, trimmed, cropped, colored and re-colored my clips to fit the audio Lost in the Moment by NF which had a rather major lyrical meaning behind it. This was a rather long process as I had to create new colorings as well as custom aspect ratios – both of which were new skills that I had learned in the weeks prior. Regardless, I was grateful for a good opportunity for me to grow in my preset making and velocity editing skills which has been one of my weaker abilities as an editor and one that I only explored during my last practice edit. (LO1 & LO2) Once I was done I wearily uploaded my edit to the internet late that night. I was proud of my end product since I nearly cried making it.

The next day, I woke up to over 1,000 new notifications! I was a little taken aback to say the least, this was mostly a kind gesture to the Rose City Riveters more than anything else but I opened my socials to an outpouring of actions taken on my post. I had also hit 1.1k followers overnight and gotten 113 comments, 139 saves and made 3,107 impressions. I was honored by the numbers but mostly felt a wave of affection for the Thorns fans who flooded my comment section with their gratitude towards Tobin’s time with the Thorns and vented over how sad they were. I just felt happy that I could help them grieve their loss in whichever way I could. (LO7)

Since the file is too big here’s a link to it, make sure to watch on 1080p for better quality!




First Online Guitar Ensemble Session

Guitar Ensemble on Zoom – The Pink Panther Theme Song

Guitar Ensemble is one of my continued extracurriculars from last year; an activity which I take part in because of my love for music and the guitar which  I have sometime since the second grade. (LO4)

Only last year, I took up learning 3 pieces, the Minuet in G by John Sebastian Bach, Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra and the Hawaii 5-0 theme song by Morton Stevens in fingerstyle to play with the ensemble. This was a challenge to me, personally, since I was used to only playing riffs, basslines and chords but the after school activity required me to step outside of my comfort zone to learn fingerstyle progressions and convert my knowledge of music notation (which I learned from piano lessons when I was younger) onto the frets of a nylon string guitar. (LO1 & 2)

After months of practice we finally made progress as a group; each of of learning our parts individually and then playing them in combination to create a complete medley. Unfortunately for us, just as the performance was coming together for us to perform at the Spring Gala, the school came to a close and the ensemble came to halt.

Thankfully, this year we were more prepared and decided to continue the guitar ensemble sessions on zoom. I had my first meeting this week on Wednesday where a few of our members met to discuss the next piece we will be learning with our teacher, Mr. Marlon. We found out that we would be learning to play the Pink Panther theme song! This was something I was excited for because to me, the song is probably one of the most easily recognizable themes in the world from a show that I loved watching growing up.

It was my turn first to find out what I would be playing; for my first piece I would be assigned to play the chord progression for the song which is both a relief (it is undoubtedly difficult to learn fingerstyle pieces without in person guidance so chords had some sense of familiarity to it) and a challenge since 3 out of the 4 chords I have to learn are new to me. These chords are the b flat 7th, f7th and Am(major 9th).

I took a few minutes during the call to mirror Mr. Marlon’s finger positioning on his guitar and took pictures for me to remember the chord formations for the future. We made it up to the 20th bar and I soon got the hang of things like the strumming pattern, the counting and which strings should be strummed for each respective chord etc.

Naturally, the piece hasn’t come together yet and combined all the individual elements yet, so it doesn’t sound the same but there is familiarity to it. I am beyond excited for what we will be hearing in a couple of lessons when the bass, the chords, the 2 melody guitars and fingerpicking comes together! In the meantime though, I will continue to practice for at least 10 minutes a day.

Taking a look at the notation  >

Velocity + Coloring Practice

Velocity and Coloring Practice + New edit plan

As a part of my endeavors for creativity in my CAS journey, I made a promise to myself to re-start my edit account. I created it a few summers ago hoping to create video edits that empowered females in the sporting industry, but it eventually succumbed to inactivity because of my other commitments during school. (LO6)

However, during quarantine I made an active effort to create and post more frequently, and it has since snowballed into a much larger project that has earned me a lot of positive and rewarding attention on social media, often times from the athletes themselves ! This discovery was hugely motivating to me and I was ecstatic to be able to finally use a proper app that I don’t have to screen record on. I even became a part of a collaboration group where multiple editors choose different days of the week to post every other week.

Naturally, persevering with this goal hasn’t always been easy; edits somedays take hours to finish even days! On top of that I have to deal with complications like editors block (where I can’t find creativity to edit), overwhelming workloads from school and sometimes even experience technical difficulties with certain features such as shakes and transitions are unbearably time consuming and difficult to learn. Needless to say, it does take up a fair share of my free time; but I love it nonetheless! Reading the positive reactions my followers have to my edits always provide a good serotonin boost on a rough day. (LO2 & 4)

Taking this into consideration, I realized that I wanted to balance myself out more; while making sure that I wasn’t overly inactive, I wanted to pace myself so I wouldn’t post 3 edits in a week and be silent for a month. I decided to take a step by step approach; I would make it a point to create at least 1 edit a week (2 if it is my turn to post on the collab. account) and I would use one day out of the week to learn a new skill or feature on the app.

This week I created what is known as an editor’s scrap – essentially what it is, is an edit I wouldn’t qualify as good enough to post but involves me trying out and experimenting with different techniques. For this, week, I decided to focus on 2 skills one called velocity and the other being coloring.

Velocity is essentially the manipulation of real time video content to match an audio. For example editing a clip of a goal or a game to sync with an edit audio beat. I would then use the time manipulation grid on the app that I use (Filmora Pro 9), to slow down and speed up different parts of the sequence and use the beat form bar to guide me in finding beat drops. This was a technique I have been in awe of since I got introduced to editing; instead of having the entire video in slow motion, you can split the clips to go from real time to extra slow; capturing the impact of the moment in a single instance.

As for coloring; it isn’t as simple as it sounds, for one I needed to choose a 3D LUT preset (ready made), I used cool film for mine, and I had to made certain adjustments to contrasts, saturation, brightness and threshold etc. to get the perfect preset for my video (I was actually very happy with the results and saved my custom preset for future use). However, I decided that I wasn’t entirely happy with my edit just yet; I increased the glow effect on the video and used a second editing app VideoPad to enhance the clarity to make the clips more standout.

As for the clips I included, I made a plot twist velocity edit from the 2016 Rio Olympics when the US Women’s National Team lost to Japan; during a critical penalty shoot out to a transition to the team’s unforgettable upward climb to the top during the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

My intention was to make it both unforgettable and powerful. I did this by using a SoundCloud edit audio titled colors by elvctric and by including subtitles. Overall I was very happy with my productive progress and I even felt proud of my edit despite it being a scrap. Not only that, but best of all, I finally mastered velocity editing!! This has been a major milestone for my learning process after 2 years. (LO3)

Here is a link to my final edit! :))



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