4 TED Talks to Help You Get Ahead At Work

I pulled together this list of TED talks that have provided me with useful information for getting ahead in the workplace. Some of the advice is simple. Some of the advice is more long-term theoretical. But all of it is helpful.

1) Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Lesson: Fake it until you make it. You can use your body language to convey confidence to not only others but to yourself as well.

2) Ron Gutman – The Hidden Power of Smiling

Lesson: Smiling is contagious. It can help reduce stress and other positive emotions. Additionally, smiling can make you appear to be more competent and look great in the eyes of others.

3) William Ury: The Walk from No to Yes

Lesson: It’s easy to lose perspective when we’re involved in conflict. To change the game, you have to change the framework of how you see things.

4) Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit

Lesson: Passion and perseverance for very long terms goals is what makes people successful. Sticking with your future for years and working hard to make that future a reality is the key to success.

Have a favorite TED Talk? Share it in the comments!

Earn a little extra pocket change while at work

You’re not going to get rich off either of these things, but you can make some pocket change or enough for a few cups of coffee for you and your coworkers by searching on the internet through one of these websites.pocket change

Swagbucks – In case you haven’t heard of it, Swagbucks is a website that will give you points when you conduct web searches (and also for answering a daily poll, clicking ‘next’ on offers, filling out surveys, etc). Every 500 points is worth about $5 and you can redeem the points for gift cards to amazon, ebay, Starbucks and all sorts of other useful places.  Sometimes they have specials where you can redeem 450 points for a $5 gift card.

It’s a legit site. I’ve received gift cards from them multiple times. One of the best uses I’ve found for them is to randomly give a small gift card to a co-worker in thanks for help on a project, as a little token of gratitude, or for a pick me up when they are having a rough day.

The downside is that when using the swagbucks site to search, sometimes you get points and sometimes you don’t. It’s totally random which can sometimes be mildly annoying.

Bing Rewards – Microsoft actually pays people to use their search engine which seems a little like buying friends. You have to create a Microsoft ID to sign up, but for every 2 internet searches, you get a point up to 15 points a day. They also have some little trivia points and other random event points that you can get.

Similar to Swagbucks, 500 points is $5, but the more you use it, the better status you get and then 450 points becomes $5. You can use the points for all sorts of gift cards as well.

The downside is that from my perspective, it’s not the best search engine and so you might have to search multiple times or also search using google. It might not always be worth the time.

Have any tips for making a little extra cash (while still following company policies) at work? Share your tips in the comments

Our Family Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

My family and I worked together and created a summer bucket list of all of the thing that we’d like to try to do this summer that we’re planning on fitting in between camps, work, and everything else going on.

Familsummer bucket listy Bucket List

  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Visit a Japanese garden and have a picnic
  • Have a ‘no tech’ day
  • Play every board and card game we own at least once (and donate the ones that aren’t fun anymore!)
  • Go on every roller coaster at our local amusement park in 1 visit
  • Make ice cream
  • Make s’mores over a beach bonfire
  • Have a mother/daughter spa day
  • Visit an observatory
  • Go camping
  • Play Frisbee golf
  • Go see an outdoor Shakespeare play
  • See an outdoor concert and/or movie
  • Play laser tag
  • Go kayaking
  • Go to the boardwalk
  • Go to a water park

What’s on your summer bucket list? Share in the comments!

(image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Weekly Meal Planning + Recipes 6.21.2015

Meal planning can be painful and time consuming. I plan all of our family meals out a week at a time and shop every Saturday or Sunday. I tend to only go to one store – the closest one – which happens to be Safeway. Before going to the store, I log onto their app and download any applicable coupons and will often plan my meals around what they have on sale. I also check the Ibotta and Checkout 51 apps to get any other cash back deals there for the items I’m buying

Since I don’t have a ton of time to cook on weeknights, I take a lot of short cuts which you’ll see below and are part of my meal planning tips. For example, I can no longer cut onions without massive tearing so I just use frozen diced onions. If you prefer the taste of something fresh, by all means substitute.

Everything cooks in 30 minutes or less unless there is a specific time noted and feeds about 4 people.

Meal planning menu:

  • Tomato noodle casserole (this one is for the weekend because it takes about an hour to cook)
  • Crockpot coconut curry beef
  • Meat pies
  • Paprika Shrimp with Orzo
  • Microwave Green Chile Chicken Risotto
  • Chicken piccata with pasta and green beans
  • Cajun grilled chicken pasta

Shopping List:


  • Lemon
  • Green beans
  • 3 red peppers
  • Baby carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes


  • Angel hair pasta (or use dry to save money)
  • Heavy cream (you can use milk instead)
  • Cheddar cheese (pre-shredded if you want to save a little time)


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • frozen shrimp
  • 2 packages chicken breast strips (or make your own if you have time)
  • 1.5 lbs stew meat (or any other cheap beef that you want to chop up)
  • 1 package skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or tenders


  • Frozen puff pastry shells
  • Frozen chopped onions

Dried Goods:

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • orzo
  • linguine
  • lemon juice
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 package egg noodles
  • 3 cans coconut milk (or 1 box)
  • Green curry paste
  • cajun seasoning
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • capers

Pantry Items (things you’ll need to buy if you don’t have them on hand already):

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Minced garlic (either the jar or the spice)
  • Red cooking wine (I normally just buy the cheapest red I can find)
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram or oregano
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco (or any other hot sauce) – even a packet of taco bell hot sauce would work
  • Cooking spray
  • Fish sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Tube of ginger (I use this instead of fresh ginger because no peeling necessary)
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Rice
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Ketchup (or some ketchup packets)
  • Basil

The recipes:

Tomato Noodle Casserole

serves 6 – 8

Cooking time: 55 mins.


  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 bag frozen chopped onions
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram or oregano
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 pckg uncooked broad egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Spray a large heavy skillet with cooking spray and heat it until it is hot, then add the meat, keeping it at high. and break the meat up into small pieces until browned
  2. Add the frozen onions and garlic. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, paprika, salt, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram or oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco. Stir the meat and seasonings well, cover, and simmer slowly for 5 minutes.
  4. Select a 2 1/2-quart baking dish, preferably a deep one. Spoon 1/2 the sauce into the baking dish, then add the uncooked noodles. Cover noodles with remaining sauce.
  5. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes. Sprinkle it with cheese & bake 5 mins. more. Serve from casserole dish.

COOKING AHEAD  Tomato-noodle casserole can be prepared [through step 4], covered, and refrigerated until needed. Add 5 – 10 mins. additional oven time, depending on how cold dish is.

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beef



  • 3  cans of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons ginger
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup frozen chopped onions
  • Handful or 2 of baby carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1.5 lbs stew meat

Just before serving:

  • 3 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Serve with:

  • rice


  1. In the slow cooker, whisk together the coconut milk, fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and curry paste until everything is combined .
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, onions and carrots.
  3. Toss the beef cubes in the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
  4. Sear beef until lightly golden in a pan for about a minute per side – don’t worry too much about the timing of this as the meat will cook thoroughly in the slow cooker, then transfer to the slow cooker.
  5. Stir everything up in the slow cooker, then cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Before serving – if you can do this an hour before, that’s great, but otherwise about 5-10 minutes works as well:

  1. Add the lime or lemon juice and brown sugar, and bell peppers and stir.
  2. Cook some rice
  3. Serve over rice

Meat Pies

These taste the best with puff pastry, but if you don’t want to spend the money on that or just want to make this super quick, you can substitute a can of biscuits.


  • Frozen puff pastry shells
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup beef broth (or beef bouillon + hot water)
  • 1 tbsp McCormick’s Chicken season
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


1. Preheat the oven to whatever the package of puff pastry says.
2. Split apart the puff pastry shells and season them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake them in the oven according to the package directions.
3. Heat a pan over high heat and add olive oil and then butter. Add the meat and break it up into bits and cook until it’s browned. Then add in the frozen onion and cook for 5 minutes.
4. While this is cooking, mix together the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste or ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce and beef broth and whisk it all together.
4. Stir in the flour – use more if you want it to be more of a thicker/gravy like sauce – and cook for 1 minute. Then add in the Worcestershire mixture to the pan. Add in the garlic powder and chicken seasoning and cook until the sauce is thickened – about 5 minutes.
5. Put some of the meat mixture with the puff pastry shells in a bowl and enjoy.
6. Since there are no vegetables in this – serve with a side of baby carrots or extra red pepper strips that you might have left over from the prior night’s meal.

Paprika Shrimp & Orzo

4 tbsp butter
2 tsp paprika
1 lb bag frozen shrimp (get peeled and deveined if available)
3 cups cooked orzo

1. Heat a pot of salted water and cook the orzo.
2. If the shrimp isn’t peeled, then remove the tails and peel the shrimp. If it’s frozen, you can thaw it super quick with some medium warm water and a colander.
3. In a pan, melt the butter and mix in the paprika. Then add in the shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes per side.
4. Add in orzo and serve. (You can also add in chorizo and green olives if you like that sort of thing)
5. Serve with cherry tomatoes

Grilled Chicken Pasta


  • 1 packages cooked chicken strips
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 to 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 ounces linguine or fettuccine
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Heat up a pan of salted water and cook the linguine
  2. Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag; toss or shake to coat.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until almost tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat and add cream and seasoning; heat through.
  5. Add pasta and toss; heat through. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese if desired.

Microwave Green Chile Chicken Risotto (from Cooking Light’s Superfast Food Cookbook but modified by me)


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 cup uncooked arborio rice
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 pckg cooked chicken strips
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine butter, onion, rice, broth, and 3/4 cup water in a 2-quart microwave-safe dish. Cover with heavy-duty plastic wrap, and vent. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes, rotating dish a half-turn after 7 1/2 minutes. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup water; cover and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes.

Stir green chiles and chicken into rice; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in cheese, 2 tablespoons water, and salt.

Chicken piccata with garlic-basil pasta and green beans


Garlic-basil pasta

  • Refrigerated angel hair pasta
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp basil

Chicken piccata

  • 1 package skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or tenders
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Green beans

  • Green beans
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Heat a pan of salted water to boiling.
  3. Spread out green beans on a pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes
  4. Put chicken between 2 sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap and pound it to 1/4 inch thickness (or just use chicken breast tenders and don’t worry too much about this) and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side,
  6. Make the pasta according to the package directions but keep 1 tbsp of the pasta water when you strain it.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan and stick it on a plate with a lid over it to keep it warm. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan and scrape up any yummy browned bits. Cook for 30 seconds on high heat until the liquid is slightly reduced and stir in the capers and pour the sauce over the chicken.
  8. Combine pasta water, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and basil and toss with the pasta.

Money Saving Tips: Visit museums for free

Did you know that there are many ways you and your family can visit museums for free? Let’s give you some money saving tips to help make that happen this weekend!

Have a library card?

Most libraries around the country offer free museum passes to individuals who have a library card. Our local library offers pmoney saving tipsasses to 25 museums in the area throughout the greater SF Bay Area. You can sign up to visit 2 museum at a time and select a specific date you plan on going and viola – a free, fun outing for your family.

Have a Bank of America card?

Once per month, Bank of America offers its cardholders the chance to visit a museum for free. You can find out more about their program and eligible museums at: http://museums.bankofamerica.com/

Free Museum Day

Once a year, Smithsonian Magazine hosts Free Museum Day around the country in September. You can find the list of participating museums at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday. You normally have to register for your tickets around August 1st. But this is a great way for you and your family to visit some museums that might not be in your city.

Target Family Events

Target also hosts free family days at museums in many major metropolitan areas. You can find their list of events at: https://corporate.target.com/corporate-responsibility/community-events and you’ll need to select the city you are interested in.