To Die for Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

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Happy Easter!

It was a beautiful – sunny but chilly – holiday here in southern CT. Today’s celebration was a pretty low-key affair this year for my husband and me which was actually quite nice. We spent much of the day in quiet relaxation (a leisurely breakfast, yoga, reading) until heading over to my mom’s house for dinner.

After a delicious dinner of maple-glazed ham, parsnip potatoes, garlicky green beans with slivered almonds, basic tossed salad, warmed biscuits, and red wine, we topped it off with our beloved homemade strawberry shortcake.

My family has enjoyed this fast and simple recipe for decades, and I thought it was time to share the love! Light, fruity, and refreshing – it’s the perfect bookend to your holiday meal.

I hope you’ll try it…I know you won’t be disappointed!

Strawberry Shortcake

Biscuits (makes 1 dozen)

  • 1/3 cup of shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Add flour to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then cut in shortening, and add baking powder and salt. Mix with blender (or using hands) until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk and work dough into a ball.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly about 10 times. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter (or using the mouth of a drinking glass).

Place the cutouts onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove immediately from cookie sheet.

Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream on low to medium speed with a hand mixer, adding a dash of sugar here and a sprinkle of vanilla there every so often. Continue to beat the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.

Assembling the Strawberry Shortcake

Layer 2.5 pounds of hulled and quartered strawberries over warm biscuits, then top with a  few dollops of fresh whipped cream.

Bon Appetit!

 

How to Prepare Yourself to “Work It” at your New Job

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Getting a new job is so exciting, isn’t it? It’s a chance for a fresh start, with new opportunities for growth and new challenges. It’s a chance to meet new people with whom you can share thoughts and ideas, and a new forum for collaborating. It’s a time when you can reinvent yourself and there is a world of possibilities on the horizon…

Can you tell that I’m about to start a new job myself??

What gave me away, all the dreamy verbiage above about possibilities and growth? Well, I can’t hide it. I’m extremely excited, and this transition has been a long time coming. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been a bit reticent on this blog as of late (my apologies!), and now  it’s finally happened! I can’t tell you how excited I am to spread my proverbial wings and to expand my skill set and responsibilities, which I know I’m capable of and have been itching to do for quite some time.

The idea for today’s  post sprang from my own efforts to ready myself as much as possible before I start my new job. In an effort to assist those of you out there getting ready to embark on your new career path, I’ve put together 6 easy things you can do to start your new job on a high note.

Take some time off (if possible)

I know that this may not be feasible for everyone depending on individual circumstances. But if you can, you would be wise to take a period of time off after wrapping up your previous position and starting your new one. It allows you to put some distance between the old and the new, to disengage, and to rid yourself of any lingering stress.

For those of you who’ve made job transitions in the past, you may well recall the exhaustion you felt immediately after your final days of work. In fact, you may have been inexplicably exhausted for several days after. That’s why it’s best to take a couple of weeks off if you can, allowing yourself the first few days to succumb to that fatigue and do next to nothing.

If you don’t have the luxury of a few weeks off (as most of us unfortunately don’t), then absolutely make sure to do the next item on the list….

Take a “Mental Health Day”

What’s a Mental Health Day, you may ask? It’s a day devoted entirely to YOUR well-being. Do some good things for yourself that help you to relax and rejuvenate. Need a few ideas? Try one of these:

  • take a hike
  • get a massage
  • visit a museum
  • read at a coffee shop
  • take a luxurious bubble bath
  • go to the movies
  • listen to music
  • do some shopping
  • get a haircut or manicure
  • do something creative – draw, paint, craft, knit
  • write in your journal or write a letter

The point is this: do whatever it is that makes you feel happy and promotes a feeling serenity. You deserve it and you really need it in order to ready yourself for your big day.

Do Your Research

This is a big one. Do as much pre-prep as you can to learn about your new employer before your first day. You should already have good background information from interviewing for the position, but definitely familiarize yourself some more with the company’s website, their LinkedIn profile, any other social channels they may be using, etc.

Buy Yourself a New Outfit for your First Day of Work

I encourage you to buy yourself some new work duds for your first day. You can think of it as both a reward and an investment. A reward because you landed that new job! You should feel proud of your hard work, and you can feel good about celebrating your accomplishments with new professional attire. It’s also an investment in your new career that will help you to feel more confident and start you off on good footing your first day.

Of course, it may not be realistic or feasible for everyone to splurge on a new outfit. And if you can’t, that’s okay too. But do spend a little extra time on making yourself feel special. Give yourself an at-home manicure, try a new hairstyle, do whatever you can to make yourself feel special and give yourself a little extra “oomph”….feeling more polished and pulled together will give you that extra boost you need to approach your new place of employment with confidence and class.

Plan Ahead

Spend some time thinking about what your morning routine will look like before your first day. Will you shower the night before or in the morning? How much time will you need for your commute (factoring in any possible traffic)? Will you eat breakfast before you leave? Will you need time to make coffee and lunch in the morning or will you prepare it all the night before? Do you know alternative routes to get to work in case your main route is unavailable for some reason? Do you have contact numbers for your new employer just in case you are delayed by traffic? Prepare yourself as much as possible so that you’re calm and collected your first day.

Prepare your Work Tote or Briefcase

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Think about what items you’ll want to have on-hand at your desk and pack them the night before. Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Planner, notebook, pen, folders (these items aren’t necessary because you’ll normally be provided with some by your new employer, but I personally like to bring my own because I find that using pretty organizational work items helps me to work better).DSC_0009
  • Personal items: hand lotion, vitamins, tylenol, mini-deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons, hand sanitizer, bobby pins/extra hair elastic, hairspray, throat lozenges, gum, water bottle, coffee travel mug, extra phone charger (if you have one), a picture or two to personalize your spaceDSC_0006

And finally, get as much rest as possible before your big day. On that note, I’m going to do just that! Wish me luck tomorrow. 🙂

R

Free Inspirational Printable

Happy Tuesday One and All,

How are you faring through this last week of February?

You may recall that I mentioned a couple weeks back that I recently started learning Adobe Illustrator and I’m currently taking the Illustrator 101 class offered via Nicole’s Classes (I’m loving it, by the way). I’ve been enjoying creating lots of fun inspirational prints and thought I’d share one with you today. It’s one of my favorite quotes spoken by one of my favorite poets, Walt Whitman.

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Download it, frame it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂

Rebecca Cretella

7 Little Ways to Inspire Yourself Daily

Hi there,

Happy Presidents’ Day to you! I’ve been making use of this lovely day off by painting the kitchen with my husband and making a number of other tweaks here and there to the house…we’ve owned it for nearly 3 years now and little by little our house is becoming more of a home.

I find it immensely gratifying when I complete a house project large or small, don’t you? It’s such a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. My home is my sanctuary and I’m slowly but surely making the adjustments and updates to make it more of that peaceful oasis I envision in my head.

While on this quest of mine, I’ve realized that sprinkling cheery items throughout the house to motivate and inspire me really does wonders for my peace of mind. Below are 7 little household items to give you a dose of daily inspiration.

1. Motivational Mug
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2. Carpe Diem pillow

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3. Dwell in Possibility print

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4. LOVE word bookends

Love Bookends
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5. Create Mousepad

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6. iPhone case

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7. Life is short coasters

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Remember to Flex Your Creative Muscle Regularly

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Well hello again,

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend…sure flew by, didn’t it?

Last week I started taking a course on using Adobe Illustrator and this is one of my first attempts at using it. 🙂

Take this to heart…letting your creative juices flow can do wonders to increase your happiness, energy, and outlook on life. Creativity can mean so many different things and can be as simple as writing in your journal or trying out a new recipe. What’s your favorite way to be creative? For me, writing (on this blog, writing articles, etc) is always my favorite way to express myself, but I also love to craft, cook, come up with creative storage solutions, scrapbook, and so much more.

Goodnight!

Rebecca Cretella

What to Pack in your Honeymoon Carry-On

Happy Friday, Friends!

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for the past month, and I’m so happy to finally post it.

Some of you may have seen my honeymoon post from early January and read the part about where United Airlines lost our luggage for 10 days. Unbelievable, right? At the time of this posting, we have still not gotten any type of restitution or compensation from them—even though I wrote a letter to the CEO (something I’ve never done in my life, but felt compelled to do after our terrible experience with the airline), filed a formal complaint, and sent in a claim form to be reimbursed for interim expenses. Anyway, that’s besides the point.

I had to learn the hard way that it is essential to strategically pack your carry-on in the event that something like this should happen. I always thought lost luggage was something that wouldn’t happen to me, and I was very wrong. Oh and another piece of advice: if you think travel insurance isn’t a necessity, think again. You absolutely need to purchase this! Anyway, lessons definitely learned.

The point is, I hope that nothing like this ever happens to you; but if it does, I want you to know how you can pack your carry-on to be best prepared to handle the situation. Based on my experience, I’ve put together the below packing recommendations. I hope it helps you!

Honeymoon Carry-On Essentials

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  • Any medication you need (unless it’s a liquid over 3.5 ounces). And don’t forget to pack your birth control, ladies!
  • Your passport, itinerary, all documents from your travel agent (and their contact info), traveler’s insurance
  • Travel size toiletries including:
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb/brush, basic cosmetics (these are the absolute bare necessities – if you have the room, include face wash, shampoo/conditioner, etc).
    • And don’t forget a travel size container with sunscreen (you can’t bring the larger size, but if you’re going somewhere tropical you’ll pay an arm and a leg to buy it if your luggage is delayed or lost).
    • I personally use the below reusable TSA-compliant travel bag from xo(eco) and really like it. Plus, it uses FDA-grade peva film, is PVC free, and 1% of profits are donated to ocean research and conservation. I also use the weekender bag above from the same company.

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  • 1 pair of sandals
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Flat Iron (tropical places are especially notorious for promoting frizz)
  • At least 1 full change of clothes
  • A nice pair of dressy shoes
  • Ear plugs
  • At least 1 bikini
  • Phone charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Ear plugs
  • A few pairs of underwear
  • Money/credit cards (if you have 100’s or 50’s make sure to break them into smaller bills)
  • Jewelry roll with a few pairs of earrings, necklaces, etc
  • A small clutch

The list above assumes that your carry-on bag is quite small and that you checked additional luggage. If room permits, pack these other nice to have, but not absolutely necessary, items:

  • Workout clothes
  • Pen/notepad/reading material
  • Cute lingerie–imagine being on an entire honeymoon without the lingerie you specifically bought for the occasion; yup, that was me.
  • Pair of PJs
  • A light dress
  • Umbrella

And there you have it–these are your essentials. As far as what to wear on your flight over, I would recommend a pair of walking shoes (so you don’t have to worry about taking up room in your carry-on), a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, cardigan, and scarf. Planes are notoriously known for being cold, so layer up! And if you haven’t read my post about travel essentials, I would definitely recommend checking that out too!

For more complete information about what is and is not acceptable to put in you carry-on, take a look at TSA’s guidelines. And remember TSA’s 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Rebecca Cretella

Leave Today’s Nonsense Behind, Tomorrow is a New Day


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Hi All!

Though this post is short and sweet, it’s something I really feel compelled to share. This former English major (yup, me) read quite a bit of Emerson in college, and I am a huge proponent of his insights and musings. I came across this long forgotten quote (above) and it gave me some renewed resolve to end each day with a clean slate and begin anew the next day. It does us no good to hold onto the challenges, tribulations, hurts, and “absurdities” of today. The best thing we can do for ourselves is  acknowledge, move on, and begin tomorrow serenely and in high spirit.

I’ll leave you with that thought tonight. 🙂

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mom–I love you, and this quote seems like something that would come from your lips.