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My Homegrown Therapy: Bread-making

Everyone has their own way of unwinding, reflecting, removing the hectic from their minds, and creating space in their lives to just be. Often, moments of calm and tranquility can feel like a rare luxury. Fortunately, I have found a simple yet profound activity that can soothe my soul and nourish my body and mind: bread-making.

For me, bread-making isn’t just about creating delicious loaves. It’s a therapeutic practice that offers me a multitude of benefits for my mental health and well-being.

Making bread requires my full attention. After all, I’m not Paul Hollywood, who can make bread in his sleep. So, from measuring ingredients to kneading dough and shaping the loaves or rolls, every step requires me to focus and be fully present in the moment. I find that it helps quiet the chatter in my mind and brings a sense of calm and clarity.

I love kneading and knocking back the dough; the rhythmic motion of kneading dough can be incredibly soothing and meditative. As I work the dough with my hands, I release any tension and stress, allowing me to relax and unwind.

I’m a pacifist, an optimist, and hopefully a kind and caring person. I look for the good in everyone but, sometimes, people make it very difficult!! This is where knocking back the dough comes in. After the dough has proved, it has to be knocked back – punched to let out the accumulated air that has helped it rise at this point. It’s so good. I focus all my frustration on knocking out the dough (sometimes imagining the person who has been rude or unkind to me), and within a few seconds, I’m back to the rhythmic kneading and serenity.

There’s something deeply satisfying about creating anything with your hands, and bread-making offers me a sense of personal accomplishment. Watching the dough rise and then transform in the oven into a golden-brown loaf fills me with pride and satisfaction, and, on days when I need it, it gives my self-esteem and confidence a much-needed boost.

Baking, in general, is very creative. Now, I can’t sketch or paint. I’m hopeless. However, I have found that, when I dare to emulate Mr Hollywood, I can create my own bread masterpieces. No, they are not of Great British Bake Off standard, but they look artisan (I love that word) and taste good. So, I use my bread-making time to create and experiment. Basically, I’m a bread-making artist in my own kitchen, and the only people I have to please are Daisy and me. She’s the Cockapoo connoisseur of crusty bread!

Baking bread is also nostalgic for me. It reminds me of my mother and maternal grandmother. I use my mother’s baking bowl and, sometimes, my grandmother’s loaf tins, which she was given as a wedding present in the early 1920s. There’s a feeling of tradition, continuity, and honouring the strong women who shaped my life.

Last but not least, the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the kitchen – it’s enough to lift anyone’s spirits. The sensory experience of bread making—from the feel of the dough between your fingers to the sight of a perfectly risen loaf and the taste of warm, crusty bread straight from the oven—awakens the senses and brings joy to the soul.

So, give bread-making a try. It’s more than just a culinary endeavour – it’s a powerful tool for nurturing mental health and well-being, allowing you to find moments of peace, joy, and connection amid life’s chaos. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, consider turning to the therapeutic art of bread making to nourish your body, mind, and soul.

Photo by Wesual Click

Daisy’s Diary: Introducing me – the Cockapoo Princess!!

Hey there, pals! Welcome to Daisy’s Diary and to my world, where I, Daisy the Cockapoo extraordinaire, reign supreme! Don’t I look cute in this photo – I was only 10 weeks old with no wrinkles and a smaller waistline!

Let me take you back to October 2023, the day my life got flipped upside down (in the best way possible, of course!) with the arrival of yours truly into the Russell-Alexander household. Three humans came to see me, my brother, and my mummy. I liked these humans and, happy days, they liked me. Before I knew it, I was cuddled up in a soft blanket, sitting on a new human lap in a big red Jeep, heading for my new life in the countryside.

June is my new human and I have burst into her life like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, with my elegant golden coat (and yes, it’s silky and shiny, not curly like a poodle’s, thank you very much!) and my tail wagging a mile a minute. Did you know that it’s difficult to walk in a straight line when you wag your tail so much? I’m expecting to be breathalysed any day now! Within just two days, I went from being a shy little pup to a confident, cheeky whirlwind, ready to take on the world and the County Down countryside!

What makes me stand out in the crowd isn’t just my adorable good looks (although, let’s be real, I’m pretty darn cute), it’s my larger-than-life personality! I wake up every morning at 5 am with boundless energy, ready to go for walks, explore every nook and cranny, sniff every bush, and chase every bird in sight. When June and I are out walking (I look so good in my yellow coat – yellow is my signature colour), she carries a thing that she calls a Blackthorn walking stick (mystery – she doesn’t need one) and I find a big stick to carry – or trip over depending on its size!

Out here in the countryside, there are animals in the fields. There are lots of white fluffy animals, some big and some tiny. When they walk past my garden, I run over to introduce myself, but they walk away. They are not very friendly! And then, there are some gigantic animals. June says the word “cows” but I think she’s lost the plot as it’s clear to me that they’re big, black-and-white dogs! I bark “Hi there!” to them but they don’t bark back! What’s that all about? I, personally, think they recognise that I’m a princess and they don’t want to overstep the mark. That explanation works for me!

Back at home, I’m a great help with all the chores. When the big warm machine has finished drying the clothes in the utility room, I selflessly help everyone with the laundry by lifting out socks and pants and hankies. My humans don’t get it – I’m helping – why are they chasing me round the garden?  Then, when June is doing her housework, a round thing appears and cleans the floors all by itself. It’s very noisy and disturbs my beauty sleep. I’ve tried sitting on it, lying in front of it and barking at it but it just won’t stop.

Despite the chaos I stir up, I bring heaps of love and laughter into my human’s life. I’m June’s constant companion (she’s a busy editor, you know), whether we’re out adventuring, snuggling up for movie nights, or simply enjoying each other’s company. And, just like my late buddy Digby, the Border Collie, I love her and she’s my favourite human.

I’m learning to join in on her business meetings, just like Digby did (apparently lots of people knew him) and, when she’s working hard, I doze on my big golden blanket. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it!!

So, this is me – princess of all I survey and, as I embark on my new life in the countryside, I’m going to share my escapades and adventures with you lovely humans, one paw print at a time! Let the sparkle and stardom begin!

Love Daisy xx