Guest Blogger: Laura

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hello folks of Untangled Simplicity! I hope everyone is having a great day, as much as I am!  I have been asked by the lovely Allis to share and write about one of my passions in life. I started to think about all the passions that I have, which are quite a lot. As I started to think and dig deeper, I decided to write about baking and how it has changed and evolved in my life, into a healthy coping skill and activity. I hope you enjoy the following:
Baking? This word most people associate with flour, butter, and a mess in the kitchen. However, this word means so much more to me. Baking to me has been a part of my life and a way that my mother and I have bonded over the years. See, my mother is a baking guru. I grew up with all kinds of homemade baked goods in the house, nothing ever bought. To be honest, I learned about six months ago that you could buy pies in the freezer section at a grocery store. What?! When I came to that realization, I started to think how spoiled I was to enjoy such tasty homemade baked goods growing up.
As a child, baked goods were a dessert and something tasty to snack on. Maybe have for breakfast if I was able to sneak some without my parents seeing me. However, baking has become so much more as I have gotten older. During college, I unfortunately took a hiatus from baking. Classes, work, volunteering, boyfriends, friends, and family; filling my schedule to the max. Life was busy and I did not make time for baking. Even when I graduated college, it took some time for baking to come back into my life. Working two jobs, trying to have a social life, and job searching when I had some time, consumed my life. But when I finally landed a stable, full time job; I shipped off to the corn fields of Indiana and my baking adventure started a new chapter.
When I moved to Indiana, my whole life changed. I knew one person in town, an old soccer friend from high school and that was about it. I went from being a social and interactive individual who always had her calendar full to the max, to an individual who had so much free time outside of work. Some feelings of loneliness started to set in and this was that time that baking started to come back into my life. On my lunch breaks at work, I would be scrolling through my Pinterest account for different ideas and inspirations and would bake the recipe after work. I started simple with cupcakes and cookies and started to get more complex with cakes and breads at times. It was during this time, that baking started to evolve into a passion of mine and became a coping skill as well.
I moved to Indiana for my job, as a Recreation Therapist working at an inpatient psychiatric hospital for adults with mental illness. So to say the least, my job can be very stressful at times. Combined with moving to a new state, trying to make friends, and trying to find myself as a new adult; I used baking as a tool to help me work through my negative thoughts, emotions, and stressors. I say to my patients all the time “I would take my anger out on the dough.” Sometimes even at work the next day, when I brought treats in, my co-workers would ask me “what were you mad about yesterday?” Baking became so much more than creating a cupcake. It became a coping skill, a source of enjoyment, and a healthy activity I could fill my time with. Baking became a part of me.
When Allis asked me to write a blog about a passion, I really did not know what to write or say. After sitting down though and going through the events and thinking about how baking has influenced my life; I have a smile on my face. Baking is a part of me and something I hope to pass on to my children; whenever that time comes. For now, my cats can enjoy the smells of my baking treats, hahaha.
I hope for whoever is reading this article, they may be inspired to see how their passions can be a form of coping. Wither it is baking, reading, arts and crafts, or simplifying things in life, these activities are important to have, and can help us cope along the way. Maybe even, this blog inspired you to try to bake a recipe? If so, do it! Take your frustrations out on the dough. The mess, that can be cleaned up; metaphorically like the events in our lives.
Thank you for reading,
Laura Thornton

P.S. If you are inspired to bake a recipe, start with these amazing chocolate chip cookies. The secret to making them soft and tasty is the vanilla instant pudding. It is my go to favorite and everyone always loves them!
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 5.1 ounce box vanilla pudding mix, instant
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add in dry pudding mix, eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using a medium cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons), scoop cookie dough balls onto prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool on pan for about 3 minutes before carefully removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.