Band Competition 2014

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The past few weekends have been VERY busy. I’m part of my air cadet squadron’s marching band, and we’ve been practicing every weekend for hours on end trying to perfect our routine for the Lower Mainland Band Competition.

Music has always been a big part of my life (well, my name IS Rhythm after all). Without band, I would’ve never had any interest at all to join cadets. Every year, around 15-20 sea, army, and air cadet bands compete for the much coveted, “A” Division trophy. I was privileged enough to be chosen as the parade commander for the awards ceremony, which basically meant that I had to deliver commands to 1000 cadets…talk about losing my voice!

After *500 HUNDRED 25 THOUSAND 6 HUNDRED MINUTTEESESS* (haha you see what I did there? ;)) of extremely hard work by the cadets of the band, I’m proud to say that WE WON BAND COMPETITION THIS YEAR WOOHOO! and EVERYONE knows that when there is celebration, there’s always CAKE! I went a little crazy today, but after 5 hours, I have finally baked enough for everyone in the band, which is around 70 cupcakes!

IMG_0638I only realized how big my squadron’s band actually was when I got the chance to see the replay of our band competition routine. Just look at that beautiful trophy :’)

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If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! It’s worth every minute, trust me 😉

http://youtu.be/e5PQQjPY_2A

Song/Drill Selections:
1. Mission Theme 
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Waltzing in circles

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3. A Bridge Too Far
4. Across The Stars (From Star Wars) – Wifi
5. Seasons of Love (From Rent) – Circle bursting and forming into “759”

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Thank you cadets of 759 for leaving me with such a wonderful gift in my last year as an air cadet! I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for next year 🙂

Cheers!

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*Band photo and video credits to Mr. Eugenio Cordeiro

I am Rhythm Tang, and I am CANADIAN.

…and Canada remains at the top for gold medal counts! I hope all of you are having a wonderful time getting caught up with the Olympic spirit!

It felt like just yesterday that I was going to downtown Vancouver almost every day to celebrate the Winter Olympics…Those times lining up at the Canadian mint to get the newest coin, rehearsing as part of the cast for the closing ceremony, and trading pins with collectors along Robson street…

Even though I have never tried 90% of the sports present in the Winter Olympics, my eyes are still glued to the TV and computer monitor, spectating every event and reading every article on CBC.

What makes me so compelled to watch Canadian athletes compete against the world is the strong feeling of cohesiveness: That moment when two figure skaters execute a jump in sync, that moment when a snowboarder lands sturdily from 3 back flips, that moment when Canada scores the winning goal. I feel as if I’m actually in their shoes/boots, cringing every time that flaw occurs, and flashing a huge smile every time I make a perfect run.

Canada is such a large country.

I didn’t realize what being a true Canadian was until I went on an International Cadet Exercise to New Zealand (Jan 21 to Jan 31, 2014). Canada’s top 6 cadets were chosen to represent our nation at New Zealand’s 150th Cadet Forces Celebration, which consisted of 6 days of elective training and a final ceremony (parade) on the last day.

*Check out this video to see all the cool activities I got to do in New Zealand, from FAM flying, CasEvac, shooting Steyres, to Military Weaponary Familiarization. A little snippet of me at 16:40 and 16:55…quite nerve-racking to stare into a large camera with mics going everywhere haha

On the first day we arrived, we were split up into different training groups consisting of approximately 35 cadets each. For the first couple days, being amongst 1200 New Zealand cadets and 60 Australian cadets, I felt quite out of place.

I just didn’t seem to fit right into the culture, and I found it difficult to start the simplest conversations because I didn’t want to run into the awkwardness of not understanding their Kiwi “accent”.

As the exercise progressed, I made a lot of new Kiwi and Aussie friends, and started to feel more comfortable. But, I still can’t explain how happy I was every time I happened to spot another Canadian! Even though the 6 of us only met for 24 hours before we were split off, it felt like we’d be friends forever. Everything seemed so familiar: our accent, our experiences, our style of speech…

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The height of my patriotism finally reached it’s maximum on the last day of the exercise: Final Parade. I was selected to be the flight commander of the Canadian contingent, and I must say, I almost got a little teary eyed as our tiny flight of 6 cadets marched through the paparazzi of cameras along the road that led to the parade field. :’)

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A flush of Canadian pride surged through me as I was shouting out the cadence in French (Thanks William Enlow ;)), and I tried not to laugh every time I heard someone from the sidelines hushing to their friends, “Look! It’s the Canadians,” or, “Wow, look at those Canadians march!” Over 20 flights went before us, so I hope we ended the march-on on a good bang!

What I took away most from this international experience was the sense of Canadian citizenship, and how all Canadians – West Coast, Central, East Coast, North – stick together.

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We are all proud to wear that maple leaf on our uniforms, backpacks, and luggage because we want to let the world know that we are CANADIANS. WE are the ones who always say “eh”. WE are the ones who brave the cold morning temperature in t-shirts because we were told not to bring tunics. WE are the ones who can call out French commands. WE are the ones who pronounce every syllable in a word. WE are the ones who say that we’re from CANADA (not CaNAdia).

I understand how difficult it is to be away from home in a COMPLETELY different cultural setting, and how comforting it is to hear from someone back in my home country. And so, continuing my obsession with baking over my reading break, I dedicate this batch of cupcakes to the Olympians who are defending our Canadian title halfway across the world in Sochi.

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I am so proud to be a true Canadian, born and raised in Vancouver, BC. From my travels around the world, not many people actually know about Canada. In fact, they just think we’re a piece of land North of the United States.

To the athletes, thank you for showing that Canada does have it’s strengths, and that we are, indeed, the fierce underdogs.

Congratulations to the athletes who have won medals so far, and good luck to the athletes who will be competing in the next week!

Thank you for representing our nation! 

Gold Medal Cupcakes

If you haven’t already read about how I was inspired to bake these cupcakes, please check out my other post “I am Rhythm Tang, and I’m CANADIAN” just to get a little bit of background information!

For this batch of cupcakes, I decided to work on presentation.

Olympic Medal Cupcakes on the podium!

Olympic Medal Cupcakes on the podium!

What better decoration could depict the Winter Olympic Games than shimmering medals? I thought that it would be a good first step in making medals because I would be able to practice making basic shapes, like circles and rectangles, with fondant.

I also decided that it was time to move up from the confetti sprinkles that I buy from Safeway, and instead, upgrade to something more “classy” like edible glitter. I AM trying to depict Olympic medals after all 🙂

IMG_37971. I began making the medal first. This store-bought fondant is so easy to use! I made fondant one time but it was way too sweet and dried up really fast. I basically rolled little balls about 1.5 cm thick, and then pressed them down so that they looked like coins.

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2. I then used a sharp knife to cut half of the centre out so that it resembled the Sochi medal. I tried melting down sugar to make a see-through sugar crystal to put in the centre, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I wanted to.

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3. I made the straps next. This was my first time using colour gel, and it colours SO MUCH faster and brighter than regular liquid colouring.

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4. I used a small brush and dabbed glitter on the medals. I couldn’t take a picture of me doing it because I was scared of getting glitter everywhere, sorry!

5. I used a tooth pick to etch on the Olympic logo. I felt like an engraver 🙂

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When I was designing the cupcakes, I wanted bake cupcakes that resembled the colours of each of the different medals:

Gold: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (Tastes kind of like lemon cheesecake!). Gold glitter.

Silver: Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Silver glitter.

Bronze: Chocolate Mocha Cake with Chocolate Chip Buttercream Frosting. Gold glitter.

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This is the longest I have ever baked! I started baking the cupcakes yesterday night at midnight because I wanted to freeze them overnight. I’ve read on a lot of different sites that freezing cupcakes help make the cake more moist, and indeed it does!

IMG_3794You know when you are a hardcore baker when you have to take a shower afterwards because there is so much butter and chocolate in your hair haha.

Again, this batch of cupcakes was inspired by the Canadian athletes competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics who have taught me how important it is to go above and beyond in whatever I do, even if I feel like I’ve already maxed out.

I had lots of fun making these cupcakes, and I’m glad to have advanced into a more “mature” stage of baking.

Thank you for stopping by! I’ll be posting a Valentine’s Day recipe on Thursday, so I hope to see you again soon. Until then, enjoy the Olympic Games 🙂