I’m so glad you could stop by for What To Read Wednesday! Please help me welcome Claire McEwen to the blog. She’s talking about baking (always a good subject) and how it ties in with her latest book HOME FREE.
Afterward, please enter her giveaway!
Take it away Claire …
Bake Your Blues Away
In my new book, Home Free, the heroine, Mandy Allen, loves to bake. She’s turned it into a business, baking all kinds of delicious cakes and cookies for local events.
Her blueberry muffins are so delicious that after the hero, Arch Hoffman, takes a bite, he feels “transported to another planet. A happy place where nothing mattered but sugary, fluffy bread.” He’s just spent a decade in prison, so he doesn’t have much good food to compare it to, but still, they’re really good muffins!
But there’s more to Mandy’s baking than meets the eye. She’s a very anxious person, and I learned, when researching this book, that baking is known to help people who are struggling with mental health issues, or who are just feeling low.
Why is baking so therapeutic? For a lot of reasons, apparently. It eases stress because mixing the ingredients can be very meditative. It is somewhat physical, so all that stirring, rolling and cutting out cookies is good for our bodies and brains. Bread baking is said to be especially beneficial because of all the kneading. So keep that bread machine in the cupboard and make bread the old-fashioned way!
Baking is also a creative outlet, which makes it naturally relaxing. Plus, baking is a nurturing, comforting activity and you get something delicious to eat at the end.
And many people who bake give some of the end product away. This helps their mental health because they don’t eat too many sweets, which can increase anxiety and depression, and it is well known that giving to others can feel very uplifting.
So the next time you have the blues, try baking. And for a great blueberry muffin recipe, try this one! http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/13/style/de-gustibus-the-battle-over-blueberry-muffins.html According to the article, many people consider it the best recipe out there.
I tried it and the muffins were delicious. But are they better than Mandy’s? Arch Hoffman would tell you no, there could be nothing better. But he’s falling in love with her, so he’s a little biased!
I hope you’ll give Home Free a chance. It truly is a sweet love story with a hopeful, Fall holiday feeling. And the next time you have the blues… try a little baking!
first taste of freedom was only the beginning…
Arch Hoffman has paid for
his crimes. All he wants is to come home to rural California and start over.
He’s not looking to be a hero when he rescues a wedding cake from hitting the
dirt at the ranch next door. But culinary artist Mandy Allen’s irresistible
smile makes him glad to save the day–and thankful that they’re neighbors.
Mandy’s just the distraction Arch needs. Her sweet voice quiets the memories
that threaten his chance to be a better man, and he’s determined to help her
confront her fears. But the past is its own prison, and even love might not be
enough to set them free.
A flicker of motion across the black backs of the cattle caught Mandy’s eye. Dark hair under a brown cowboy hat. Long legs in faded jeans. Shoulders wide under his padded canvas jacket. Arch Hoffman.
He was standing on the rail of the fence, waving with both arms to get her attention. She rolled down the window. “Hey,” she called, knowing that it didn’t matter what she said. There was no way she was getting out of this situation without looking like an idiot.
“What’s going on?” He shouted the words, but it was still hard to hear him over the indignant mooing. The steers wanted breakfast, and they were confused and frustrated. Well, boys, welcome to the club. She’d been confused and frustrated for years now.
“Not much,” she called back in a lame attempt at nonchalance. “What’s up with you?”
She could see the confusion on Arch’s face even from this distance. He probably hadn’t been expecting small talk. “Um, not much. You need a little help there?”
She forced a breezy voice. “I’m okay…just need to get out of this truck and get feeding.”
“Oh.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to come up with the right words. “It’s just that…you fell into the cab.”
How long had he been there, watching her make a fool of herself? “Oh, ya know, just lost my balance for a minute.” It was almost impossible to sound casual while yelling over the ruckus of forty upset steers.
Arch jumped off the fence and Mandy lost sight of him. She had a tiny moment to hope that he’d decided she was fine and was gone on his way. Then she saw him swing up on the back of a big black gelding and guide it along the fence to the gate. Leaning gracefully from the saddle, he let himself into the pasture, closing the gate behind him.
Mandy reached for the door handle, but her hand was shaking so hard she couldn’t grasp it. She wanted to get out and face Arch while tossing hay out of the truck like a pro. But fear had its cold claws sunk in deep.
With a wave of his rope, Arch cleared the steers easily from his path. He took their place at her truck window, looking down at her from his relaxed perch in the saddle. “Do you want me to feed them?”
His voice was a balm of gentle concern that almost brought out the tears fizzing hot beneath her eyes. She felt her cheeks heat, too, and knew her usually pale skin had gone scarlet. She couldn’t answer. But she nodded.
“Okay,” he said. “Just sit tight.”
She watched him in the side mirror as he guided his horse alongside the vehicle and leaned over, grabbing a few flakes of the hay she’d stacked there. He threw them to his right and several of the steers trotted toward the pile. Quickly he grabbed more hay and tossed it out behind the truck, creating another feeding area. Soon the pasture was littered with piles of hay surrounded by happy cattle. Mandy buried her face in her hands. He made it look so simple.
by the ocean in Northern California with her husband, son and a scruffy,
mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found
digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green
thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach,
dancing, traveling and reading, of course!