Baking Bread

When a pandemic has hit the world and you need to stay close to home as much as possible, what do you do?

I still get out and walk. One of the hardest things, for me, is social distancing from the dogs! The humans get it, not so sure the dogs do. (Animals are smarter than us in many ways, don’t you think?)

Last Friday, I wished I had a puzzle, thought about pulling out my sketch pad, then decided to bake some bread. My husband was making his awesome spaghetti sauce and pasta, a fresh green salad was in the frig, and the bread ingredients were already on hand, not as rare as toilet paper!

I received this recipe from a gal named Shelly I worked with years ago; she invited me and our mutual friend Jackie over for a bread-making party. The recipe is entitled Al Barnhill’s Bread. I’ve Googled. I have no idea who this person is, but the bread recipe is awesome. My special tweaks (because I, again, Googled, come below.)

Al Barnhill’s Bread

Combine:

1 T dry instant yeast (Rapid Rise)

1 T sugar

2 C flour

1 tsp salt

Add:

2 T vegetable oil or melted butter

1 C hot tap water

Stir well. Add additional flour (1/2-1 cup) until kneading consistency is reached. Knead 3-5 min. Brush with olive oil to keep from drying out and let rise until doubled in warm area, approx. 30-40 minutes. Shape. Brush with egg wash (mix together 1 egg white and 2 T water) or butter. Rest 5-10 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Makes either 1 loaf bread, 1 pan rolls (12-15), 1 large pizza crust, one dozen bread sticks.

Notes:

*Bread rises better in a warm house.

*If using a metal bowl for mixing, warming it with hot water before beginning is helpful in allowing the bread to rise.

*If you are making rolls for an event at some later point, put them in the refrigerator immediately after shaping. Take rolls out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature/rise then bake.

*If you would like, the oil and sugar can be doubled in this recipe to make a slightly sweeter dough.

*If you are making pizza dough, skip the rising step.

I made garlic parmesan bread twists – so very good and not so very healthy. Every once in a while we need an indulgence, right? This is one.

Combine about a half cup of melted butter and/or olive oil with crushed garlic and/or garlic powder.

Have an equal amount grated parmesan cheese.

Roll out the risen dough into a large rectangle shape. Brush it with the butter/olive oil/ garlic mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Fold the prepared dough in half.

Cut into strips – about 12 – twist, and place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush with additional butter/garlic mixture, sprinkle on some coarse salt, and possibly a cheaper version of parmesan cheese, like that which comes in a green can.  

Bake according to Al’s recipe.

We can certainly afford the indulgence of nice, rich homemade bread right now.

Panic and negative thoughts, not so much.

Be safe, stay healthy, in control of your thoughts…become even more creative and willing to share of yourself in different ways. This is your time to shine, to become more of who you already are.

According to research done by UCLA, the average human being has around 70,000 thoughts per day. And out of those thoughts 80% of them are negative, with the majority of those thoughts carrying over to the next day. Based on everything I’ve read and observed, digesting negative news is a leading cause of this frightening statistic. –Dean Graziosi, from Millionaire Success Habits

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. –Dr. Wayne Dyer

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

STUDY THE CRAFT: An Interview with Emmett Wheatfall

In the tradition of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and other writers who surrender to the swinging rhythms of jazz with words, Emmett Wheatfall delivers poems to chant, to recite in time to drum, sax and guitar, to chalk onto the sidewalk so children and their parents may pause and consider what this country is, what our times require, and how me might speak with more invention and grace. His poems call on us to celebrate even as we challenge one another, to be festive with our speech even as we demand greater honesty. In a style that ranges from winsome jump-rope rhyme to lyrical love ballad to personal anthem of a citizen, this book will call you to a full spectrum of patriotisms—to country, to family, to romance, to music, to all the loyalties we need to make our stumbling world get the beat and sing as one. –Kim Stafford, Poet Laureate of Oregon

From time to time I interview creative people I admire for my blog and newsletter. This is my first article spotlighting one of my voice students.

I met professional poet, musician and speaker Emmett Wheatfall last year at the Clackamas County Community Festival, where I was given a free business booth.  Emmett, who has since retired, was employed by Clackamas County as an Assistant County Administrator and in charge of the Community Festival.

I liked Emmett the minute he stuck out his hand, introduced himself, and welcomed me as a festival presenter. What I didn’t know at the time is Emmett had once undergone surgery to have nodules removed from his vocal folds (interchangeable term with vocal cords.)

I wonder if Emmett’s parents, who moved Emmett and his two sisters overseas and from state to state, because of the father’s military career, could ever have imagined their son would one day write books, the most recent of which, Our Scarlet Blue Wounds, is – at the time of this article – endorsed by Poet Laureate of Oregon, Kim Stafford.

Emmett’s childhood travels as a military dependent transversed states from Kentucky to Virginia, as well as two different residencies in Okinowa, the fifth largest island of Japan located in the Ryukya Islands. As a kid, Emmett played all over the island, which is about 70 miles long and 7 miles wide. He calls himself “The Original Karate Kid”, for he trained in karate in a dojo (martial arts training center) with the Okinawans.

When Emmett was 16, his father received orders to move to Oregon, where he would advise the Oregon National Guard on behalf of the US Army. Emmett swore he wasn’t moving with the family to Oregon, where he was sure people still traveled in covered wagons to forts as depicted in TV westerns. “Guess what? I’m still here!”, he says now.  

Emmett attended Mt. Hood Community college and then Warner Pacific College in Portland. He will have been married to Karen Wheatfall for 40 years in June and has three grown children in their 30’s—two daughters and a son.

Growing up, Emmett loved acting and theatre. In the second grade, his teacher asked each student in the children’s circle to read aloud. Whether intentionally or not, Emmett doesn’t know, the teacher skipped him. Emmett says, “It crushed me. I still remember to this day how eager I was to read.”

“I’ve always had a tremendous love for words and imagery,” he continues. “At age 19, I became a person of faith. The Christian faith.” He was drawn to the Bible because it’s filled with metaphor, parable and illustrations…stories that touch the human imagination. Emmett says, “the combination of all these things captured and influenced me.”  

A great source of Emmett’s consternation was the fact his father wanted him to take accounting in college. Emmett just wasn’t into crunching numbers, even in exchange for having his college tuition paid.

Emmett’s creativity and imagination also offered him a form of escapism. Why? There wasn’t much love in his family. He says, “No doubt, my parents loved and provided for me and my sisters, but home wasn’t a place of hugging or words offered as endearments or positive affirmations. There was a lot of negativity. My mother didn’t tell me she loved me until about ten years ago and she’s been dead for five years. The first time she said, ‘I love you, Emmett, Junior’…that was an earth-shattering moment. Most certainly a remarkable moment.”

Emmett says being a poet is like being a safecracker. “You put your ear against the safe, listen to the tumbler, turn to the left, then to the right and so forth, until you feel that final click. And then you open the door. It’s euphoric.”

“There’s a whole set of rules, rudiment and principles to writing poetry. Once I’ve cracked the safe’s numeric code sequence, there’s not a word, grammatical device, imagery, etc., I would change. There’s something about that feeling. It just rocks my world.”  

When I asked how poetry and music came together for him, Emmett responded, “Most of us have forms of music (e.g., classical, jazz, blues, pop, county, etc.) that speak to us, that stir us, that move us.” Emmett emphasizes he is not a rap or hip-hop artist. He reminded me that poetry is one of the oldest art forms known to humanity, in all cultures and ethnicities. Historically, the written spoken word was often accompanied by a musical instrument: a lute, a lyre, a flute, for example. The troubadours, bards, would go from city to city, across the countryside, to where people gathered in the public square where words were recited to the music of instruments. Doesn’t this create the loveliest image in your mind’s eye? It does in mine!

I see Emmett’s point when he says the music in poetry died with the printing press, when those who could read started listening to the words only inside their own heads. “There’s something beautiful and magical about taking lines of poetry and placing them in the timing of music,” he says. “It takes a skill to do that. The audience loves it; people walk away feeling inspired. Clean words, spoken to music, dinner…a nice night out? There are people who hunger for this.”

I asked Emmett about what some call the grave-stone or epithet exercise. What would you want written there? What do you want your legacy to be? What would you tell young people with artistic leanings?

His response? Three simple words. “Study the craft.”

 “That’s why I came to you, Laura,” Emmett said. “As much as people tell me I’m gifted vocally, I wasn’t using my voice well. I’ve learned so much about proper breathing. People often say, ‘sing from your diaphragm’, but 99% of them don’t know where it’s located; they couldn’t point to it on the human body.”

I mentioned earlier Emmett had to have a node removed. He says, “Here I was, a conference speaker, actively reading and performing poetry, as well as doing some singing…and I was destroying my vocal folds/cords. I said to myself, if you’re going to read and perform poetry, make sure to use your voice properly.”

“In the studio recently, I remembered your teaching, Laura. I remembered about breathing. I remembered about resonance. Somebody who heard me said, ‘Wow, man, you sound great!’”

Emmett gives a final example to demonstrate the need for studying your craft, for artistic and creative precision. Once, after he had submitted a poem to an on-line periodical, this line caught the periodical editor’s eye: “Let love love whomever love will love.” The editor queried Emmett regarding which of the words “love” were nouns and which were verbs.

How would you respond to that editor? Emmett responded thus: “Let Love love whomever Love will love.”   

Whatever and whomever you love, whatever your passion may be…simply remember this: Study the Craft. And Breathe.

Find Emmett’s gospel song Somebody Told Me here: https://emmettwheatfall.hearnow.com/somebody-told-me?fbclid=IwAR0kX4PW0DTIgLO9QoaqFynrEfF9W27qvQmRhKueZcTUBBQINXrA5d8ci-M

Here’s his website: http://emmettwheatfall.com/

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Singing is Easy, Right?

Laura Handke Collage

It was Friday, around 3:30, sunshine streaming in through the windows of my home studio. There my student was, sheet music (I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair from South Pacific) in front of her on the music stand.

Her voice was ringing out, and then one little thing happened. And another.

Our bodies are our vocal instruments, and any little thing that goes wrong with technique can stop the flow of breath or resonance – even in trained singers.  I asked my student to raise her chin, so her head was level. I stood by her as we virtually threw our voices, together, at the wall beyond an imaginary ten rows of people. I helped her correct her onsets, get back into the mask/forward focus, and use her hands on her belly to keep the breath flow going…at one point, knowing how frustrating this can be….I just said, “And why don’t I also throw in to please helm a boat while sewing a lined jacket at the same time?”

We both cracked up and had a hearty laugh.

Yes, this is how complicated it can be.

Yet it’s still fun.

Since then, we’re all taking steps to be healthy. If you have symptoms, just don’t feel well, or have a fever (take your temperature, please) don’t come to your lesson, and your teacher will do the same. Of course you won’t be charged for any lessons you cancel even at the last minute. (Usually I request a 24-hour notice.) Voice students always have the option of having lessons via Zoom, which works great.

April 11 Vocal Superpowers workshop cancelled due to health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19. If we are able to reschedule, we’ll be sure to let you know. 

Thank you for your understanding.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Get Confident and Feel Empowered: Develop a More Intimate Relationship With Your Voice

Get Confident and Feel Empowered: Develop a More Intimate Relationship With Your Voice

The delightful Paula Vail, whose essay happens to show up in the same book as  one of Oprah Winfrey’s (https://www.wellnessinspired.com/books-and-film) interviewed me for her Seattle radio show, Choices: Finding Your Joy, in August of 2018.

I listened to the interview again recently and was struck by how Paula’s questions pulled out gems of information about not just our physical vocal instrument/body, but the inner voice/message within wanting to come out and play in the world.

Here are some highlights to help you develop a whole new loving relationship with your voice.

  • Think of your breath as a river or conveyor belt carrying the sound of your voice. Understanding breath flow (including breathing with a relaxed core/abdomen) will rock your world.
  • Resonating, so your voice carries effectively and efficiently, is easy to learn and can be the number one factor in whether or not people can hear you.  
  • Way too many people speak in too low of a pitch, so their voice sounds gravelly. Don’t be one of them.
  • Great vocalization often equates to breaking bad old habits.
  • When you develop confidence with your voice and feel more comfortable speaking and singing in public, your inner message and what you want to say will become clearer. The more you feel confident and comfortable vocalizing, the more relaxed and clear your physical voice will come through.
  • When you are passionate and emotionally invested as a vocalist, and your inner and outer voices are congruent and aligned, you will connect with your audience and bring them along on the journey.

To learn more about the details in this program, join me and Brenda Bryan’s Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Powerful Speakers Club at Swaha Studios on April 11th, 1:00 – 4:00 for The Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/four-vocal-superpowers-most-pros-dont-know-tickets-98328672707  $97. $75 for Speaker’s Club members.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

The Fine Art of Being Less Than Perfect

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order. -Anne Wilson Schaef

A few months ago, I had a trial piano lesson with a man, probably in his mid-40’s, who described himself as a beginning piano student. I came to the lesson prepared to show him where middle C was on the keyboard, a bit about reading music, and perhaps an introduction to the C major scale.

I learned to play piano and read music from lesson books by the likes of John Thompson, John W. Schaum and Michael Aaron. Typically, these books graduate in complexity from grade one to grade five. As a senior in high school, I had gotten through most of grade four, after 10 years of lessons.

My “beginning” trial student that day pulled out a grade three book and played a classical piece beautifully, making one mistake in the middle of the second page. He was frustrated that he continued to make mistakes at all…and that they were always in different places.

I gently explained my definition of a beginning student (has never read music and doesn’t know where middle C is), that he was far too advanced for me to be able to teach him…and inquired if he might be a bit of a perfectionist…?  He took a breath, paused, and said, “You could say I’ve heard that before.”

At it’s root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being perfect. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success. -Michael Law

One of my regular students at Lake Music, a 12-year-old, is one of the most dedicated students I’ve had. I’ve only had one other student who has worked as hard as “Karen”, as I’ll call her, and has learned piano so quickly. Karen will soon be starting voice lessons as well. Yet, I’m concerned about her – because she is so hard on herself. I’ve interacted extensively with her father, who sits in on most of Karen’s lessons, and I don’t feel the pressure is coming from her parents. I’ve learned in casual conversation during lessons that Karen is the eldest of four siblings.

I don’t know where Karen’s drive comes from. She’s a joy to work with. Yet I wonder if the need to excel is robbing her of her own joy in the process of discovery and growth.

It’s healthy to commit to learning, growing and becoming the best musician or speaker you can be. I want to become the best vocalist and voice teacher I can be. But that’s not the same thing as perfectionism. The need to be perfect can either stop you dead in your tracks or make the path you’re traveling toward any goal or dream tense and miserable.

I mentioned this to one of my other piano students, a 38-year-old adult, who readily shared with me that the scourge of perfectionism lead him to seven years in therapy and prescription medication. One of my fellow certified Transformational Voice® Teachers, Maire, describes herself as a recovering perfectionist. She once shared with the apprenticeship training class how when people would “accuse” her of being a perfectionist, her response was, “How can I be a perfectionist? I never do anything perfectly.”

And it wasn’t a joke. This was her reality at that time. Breaks my heart.

Thankfully, Maire, a classically trained soprano, decided to become gloriously imperfect as a voice and yoga teacher, singer, songwriter and recording artist with the other half of The Boston Imposters, her husband, Davey. I love their debut album and shudder to think of a world without it, had Maire allowed perfectionism to keep her from expressing her beautiful authentic voice in the world.

Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate. -Maria Shriver

To uncover your authentic voice, (no perfectionism allowed!) join me and Brenda Bryan’s Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Powerful Speaker’s Club at Swaha Studios on April 11th, 1:00 – 4:00 for The Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pros Don’t Know. Register by emailing info@LauraHandke.com. $97. $75 for Speaker’s Club members.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Ramblin’

“Hermit” archetype collage card

I hope you’ve escaped the crud going around this winter. I was sick the third week of January, sicker than I’ve been in quite a while. My lungs were congested, fever had my teeth and limbs chattering, and all I could think about was getting more sleep. I spent upwards of 18-20 hours per day in bed for three days, with an increasingly sore back, because I was spending so much time prone.

I had to postpone most of my student appointments and my personal voice lesson with my teacher as a result. Guess what? When you’ve been sick like that, coughing and coughing, it may take up to two weeks for your poor throat and vocal folds to recover from the inflammation. I’ve been on partial vocal rest since.

One thing about being sick, it sure makes you feel grateful for your health, doesn’t it? Once I felt well enough to get out of bed, the nesting instinct set in and all I could think about was cleaning and cooking. I showered for the first time in three days and washed my bedding. Cleaned house and lit a candle and brought it from room to room. Made a broccoli cheese soup, a big fresh green salad with red bell pepper and cucumber and picked up a frozen French baguette at Albertson’s to brown and bake. Got a craving for dessert, for some reason, and reached out to my friends on Facebook for easy recipes that don’t require grocery shopping.

Try this one, from my friend, Jackie, the next time you have a sweet tooth. It’s simple, yummy, and you can ignore the sifting suggestion, as Jackie and I do.

Chocolate Sundae Pudding

1 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa

2/3 C sugar

½ C milk

½ chopped walnuts (I leave these out)

2 TBSP melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

Topping (recipe follows)

1 C boiling water

Whipping cream

Sift flour (or not) and mix with baking powder, salt, cocoa and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, nuts, butter and vanilla; blend well. Pour mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.

Topping:

Combine ¼ C sugar, ½ C brown sugar, 3 TBSP cocoa, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla.

Spread topping evenly over the first mixture. Pour 1 cup boiling water over all. Do not stir.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes to an hour, until slightly crusty on top and firm. A pudding will form on top with a fudge sauce layer below. Serve hot with plain or whipped cream.

This illness also reminded me of how very important books are to me.  

Before I got sick, I had picked up three fiction books in a row I couldn’t get into. So disappointing. I forced myself to finish one and brought all three back to my favorite local little library. Where I found one more…and went back to the Tigard Library, too. There I found one I will quote this much of:

Fireflies twinkled in the tall grass, a big yellow moon was rising out of the sea, and Paradise Ice Cream was hopping. Twenty-eight flavors and a short-order grill were housed in a small white cottage on the edge of a marsh, with beach traffic meandering past on Shore Road. Bright, colorful lanterns swung from a wire above the packed parking lot. People sat at picnic tables under a willow tree, gazing across the mouth of the river towards the lighthouse on the other side.

-from SANDCASTLES by Luanne Rice.

I’m so happy to have a good book on my nightstand again.

Let me know if you have a favorite author – I’d love the introduction! The same goes for your favorite uber easy dessert-to-bake recipe.

For your Calendar: April 11th – Swaha Studios – The Four Vocal Superpowers Most Pro’s Don’t Know!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice and Voice Your Love,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)