Preparing food is also soothing for me. The methodical preparation and focusing my attention on getting everything just so really gives me a place to get lost in for a time. If you're looking for a good carrot cake recipe, I highly recommend the carrot cake from The Silver Palate New Basics. I cut the sugar by 1/3 cup, and it's still perfectly, deliciously sweet. The recipe converts right into muffins too, which are great for lunch boxes and bake sales. Yum!
And, it never fails, that when I'm feeling mired down, I can get a boost from watching or listening to my kids. Hana finding joy in painting a garden or chatting with her dolls. Koji playing his guitar and singing along happily. And then the messy bits magically fall away, and the bright side shines through.