Vocal Therapy #3

My third vocal therapy session revolved around maintaining my “forward focus” or whipped cream voice and knowing that I am in a good position rather than allowing my voice to fall back at my throat (bad practice).

The goal is to constantly keep your voice in a good place and there are some techniques my doctor shared with me to check in with my voice.

Exercise Set 1

Feel the “seasoning of sensation” behind your nose on “y” and long vowel sounds. For example say the following words:

  • Reunion
  • You
  • Yonder
  • Thieves
  • Wheel
  • Squeezed
  • Sink
  • Tea Leaves
  • (add other words used daily)

These words help to give you the reminder that you are in “forward focus.” Memorize some words and say them when you need to check-in with your voice.

Exercise Set 2

Say sentences with “y” and long vowel sounds to help reset your voice:

  1. Well yes, it’s really easy.
  2. What we really needed was some immediate and deep easy peacefulness.
  3. (add others)

Exercise Set 3

Straw exercises help to balance the air pressure in the vocal tract and allow the vocal folds to oscillate with less effort.

Using two (or one) cocktail straw carry out the following exercises:

  1. Increase and decrease pitch
  2. Revving
  3. Sing a Song: Allows for various ranges
  4. Pinch Nose: Make sure no air is flowing out of your nose

The large the diameter of the straw the easier it is to practice the vocal exercises. The smaller the diameter the bigger the benefit.

Cacay Oil Hype

Cacay Oil is it all hype or is there really something there?

There has been so much about Cacay Oil in articles that I decided to look into it further and check it out for myself.

Three Main Chemicals found in high concentrations in Cacay Oil:

  1. Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) reduces acne symptoms
  2. Retinol (vitamin A) reduces the wrinkles in the skin
  3. Tocopherol (vitamin E)  is an antioxidant.

These three chemicals all promote healthy, younger skin. When used regularly, the skin is left feeling softer, smoother, and feels younger.

It was noted, over a course of three weeks, the pores on the nose got smaller and the skin felt smoother and more nourished (all other variables kept as constant as possible!). This could just be in my head! I will look into finding some definitive research articles and share out.

In the meantime, for anyone interested in  the bottle of Cacay Oil I use you can purchase 30 mL of 100% pure Curelle Cacay Oil at Queensborough Community Pharmacy for $46.97. If you contact me, I will give you a unique customer code for a nice discount!

Vocal Therapy #2

“You should not do a lot at once, but rather do something often” – Voice Clinic

For my second therapy session I learned about my “whipped cream” voice. When I am speaking I need to use my “whipped cream” voice! This voice is airy, light, carefree, easy…just like whipped cream.

To produce a rich whipped cream voice I was instructed to sit tall and hum so I could feel the voice in my face and tickle my lips almost. Basically what this does is move the voice from the throat area (bad) to the face/lips (good). This is where the voice needs to be felt at all times and anytime it goes in the throat, it should be re-set by humming.

Here is the set of exercises I am required to do (on top of the bubble blowing – which my children love!):

  1. Hum: Me May My Moe Moo
  2. Say rhyming words starting with a word that starts with M, B, D, L, G/K, then S: Moon, Boon, Dune, Loon, Goon, Soon
  3. Count from 1 to 10
  4. Count from 70 to 80
  5. Count from 170 to 180
  6. Say months of year
  7. Say days of week
  8. Read sentences (given passages of various lengths so choose a magazine, book etc and read each line one at a day)
  9. Use your voice in a spontaneous sentence

I was instructed to practice a few times in a day for a couple of minutes at a time. And also to include practices during showers where the steam helps the vocal folds.

 

 

Daiya Cheesecake

We tried this beautiful looking Strawberry Cheezecake from the Daiya line. It is free from all the main allergens so definitely something I was excited to share with my family. We took it out of the box and noticed it was tiny, maybe 5″ in diameter at most but it looked good. When my kids tried, my daughter did not like it at all and my son thought it was okay.

I will definitely not be purchasing this again. Kind of disappointed since the Daiya line creates really good allergen free products and I have high expectations of them (oh right I should lower my expectations!).

Vocal Therapy #1

“It is more than just your voice” – Voice Clinic

My first  vocal therapy assessment session was over two  hours and very informative. The purpose of the first session was to get a glimpse of the inside of my vocal area and to establish some baselines to determine four components of my voice: quality, soft phonics, amplitude, and sub harmonics. The doctor used mostly a microphone to get an “image” of my voice in the four categories and then placed a specialized scope with camera in my throat area to see the quality and function of my vocal cords in real time. It was quite interesting to see how the vocal folds move while I talk!

Once the preliminary work was completed, the doctor went through a series of exercises with me. The exercises for my voice are to help balance the air pressure at the vocal cords. Having balanced air pressure makes the vocal folds more flexible and unload tension in neighboring muscles.

  1. Place a straw in a water bottle filled with about 4 cm of water and blow bubbles.
  2. Once the bubbles have been established,  try revving, humming a tune, increasing and decreasing pitch while saying “whoooWHOOOwhooo”
  3. Make sure to take breaths as needed.
  4. Do this for about 5 minutes, four times a day or more.

If the bubbles stop that means you are not using proper technique. There must be bubbles blown out at each attempt of speech.

One interesting fact the doctor shared was that kindergarten teachers and high school chemistry teachers are most prone to losing their voice. ARGH! What are the chances that for once I am not the outlier – I am actually on trend! Honestly I was thrilled when I heard that – explains a lot 🙂

The Best Tasting Frozen Gluten Free Pizza

Finally a Frozen Pizza that is Gluten, Egg, Soy, & Dairy Free!

For those days when things get hectic its always nice to have a frozen pizza available. There is only one brand of frozen pizzas I would ever recommended to those with dietary restrictions as we have tried many.

We have found the best and tastiest pizza to be from the Daiya line. In particular my children love personalizing the Daiya Cheeze Lover’s Pizza with their own toppings such as olives, pineapples, tomatoes, meat balls.

This pizza is not only gluten free, but also dairy free, soy free, and egg free – wow that is hard to come by with pizzas!  Absolutely delicious and kids love it!!

The Glutino Gluten Free Duo Cheese Pizza has liquid eggs and milk ingredients. Also Udi’s Gluten Free Three Cheese Pizza contains eggs as well. Since I purchased these products from Superstore’s Click & Collect, I did not know how to look up product information – but I have figured out how to do that (will not make that mistake again!). In conclusion, I have noticed all the Glutino and Udi brand products contain soy or eggs – so I will not be purchasing from these brands as they do not meet the needs of my family.

Left: Daiya Pizza Ingredients
Right: Glutino Pizza Ingredients

Here is the price* breakdown per 100g:

  • $9.99 Daiya ($2.24/100g) – gluten, egg, soy, dairy free (LOVE IT!!)
  • $7.99 Udi’s ($2.81/100g) – contains eggs & dairy (will not buy)
  • $6.78 Glutino ($3.87/100g) – contains eggs & dairy (will not buy)

*These are regular prices in Canadian dollars at Superstore.

 

 

Pikanik – Gluten Free Bakery (what we liked and did not like)

In box (clockwise): Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, potato cornbread muffin, jam thumbprint cookies, chocolate raspberry cupcake, coconut snowballs (in centre of box). Brownie. Honey Bread

Gluten Free Bakery

I am not going to lie but learning to bake from cake mixes and from scratch has been challenging! I am not a baker and have struggled immensely with finding baked goods for my children to eat.

Last summer I came across this cute little bakery called Pikanik located in South Surrey. It is a bit pricey (but then again most organic, “natural” foods are). This bakery is unique and one-of-its kind as it completely caters towards individuals with restricted diets free from the main allergens. In the summer my family and I tried some baked goods and we did not like anything from there and the children pretty much spat it all out. I feel it was more we were not used to gluten free, egg free foods and thus reacting as such.

Just recently, I decided I would go in and give it a second chance. So I picked an assortment of goodies and thought why not. The worst that can happen is my children do not like it and we continue our search and keep practicing our baking skills at home. My husband said to set my expectations low as then I will not be disappointed…so I went in with low expectations. To my surprise, my daughter ended up really liking the brownie and enjoyed the jam thumbprint cookie. My husband and I liked all the items, and I really liked the taste of the moist honey bread when grilled! The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie was okay but not a favorite for my children. The  coconut snowballs, cornbread muffin, and chocolate cupcake with the raspberry icing were not very tasty and I would not purchase them again.

Here is a break down of the prices:

  • $1.95 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie (okay)
  • $2.65 Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffin (not tasty,  too dry)
  • $2.35 Jam Thumbprint Cookie (LOVE IT! Will buy!)
  • $3.40 Chocolate Razzmatazz Cupcake (no go, can make similar ones at home, icing is not very tasty)
  • $1.95 Coconut Snowball (not tasty)
  • $3.65 Brownie (LOVE IT!)
  • $8.50 Honey Bread (tasty, but will probably opt for other options)

This bakery is pricey but it is nice to have a place where I know there is a treat my children can enjoy freely. So would I go back to Pikanik? Yes, definitely for the brownies and jam thumbprint cookies as they are delicious.

 

 

 

Buttercream Icing without Milk

Buttercream Icing without milk.

Pink frosting on a cooled cake

Blue frosting on a warm cake! (My son could not wait to start frosting)

This is the first time I have created my own icing from scratch and my family loved it! Seriously, how can I go wrong with sugar and food coloring! It was just a matter of stepping outside my comfort zone and just trying it.

Trial 1

So what I did was take 1/3 cup melted unsalted foremost butter and beat it with a hand mixer at speed 2-3. I mixed in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Next I added 1/3 cup of confectioner’s icing sugar and continued beating. I continued to add another 1/3 cup of icing sugar, and finally one more 1/3 cup and beat the mixture on medium speed. The last step was to add in 2 drops of red food coloring.

Trial 2

The second time, I added only 2/3 cups of confectioner’s sugar as the first batch was too sweet! And this time I added 2 drops of blue food coloring.

I feel I have some work to do in terms of adjusting the sweetness of the icing, make it more fluffy, and to make it free from butter. So I will try other formulations and post out!

Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Cake Mix a hit!

Cupcakes cooling

Gluten Free Cake

My children love baking and we have found Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Cake Mix to be a good, reliable cake mix and with some modifications we have a nut free, soy free, and egg free recipe.

Ingredients for Cake Prep

I take the cake mix and split it into two mixing bowls so my son and daughter each have their own portions. My daughter adds 3 tablespoons of Filsinger’s Organic applesauce (in place of eggs), and softened Becel Vegan Margarine (in place of butter).  My son adds a medium sized organic ripe mashed banana (in place of eggs), and softened Becel Vegan Margarine. Then we follow the instructions according to the box. The end product is a fairly tasty gluten free cake – not as spongy as a regular cake with eggs. So I still need to work on some formulations! But the children love it and enjoy the Enjoy Free Dairy-Free Mini Chocolate Chips they bite into.