Simple Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills

Communication skills are just as important as talent in the workplace, because without them you would never be able to express your ideas to others or work together with a team. No matter how shy or quick-tempered you are, these tips will help you to improve your communication skills and speak more eloquently at work.

  1. Speak face-to-face. Although e-mail and phone conversations are the norm in this digital age, nothing has as much impact as speaking to someone in person. If you want to ask for a raise or pitch a great idea, do it face-to-face, not through a device.
  2. Plan ahead. There’s nothing wrong with planning what to say ahead of time; in fact, most bosses prefer this method. Planning ahead will help you get to the point faster, making what you’re saying all the more effective.
  3. Put a positive spin on things. There will always be occasions where you need to criticize a coworker, but instead of putting them down or ratting them out, attempt to speak positively. Say things like “Your idea was great, but…” or “I know you put a lot of work into this, but…”
  4. Take a breather. If you’re prone to saying things you regret in moments of anger, tell yourself to take a minute to consider if what you’re saying is helpful or just plain hurtful.

How You Can be a Better Communicator [LifeHack]
6 Ways to Become a Better Communicator [TIME]
10 Simple Secrets of Great Communicators [About Money]
Becoming a Better Communicator [Berkeley HR]

Where to Shop Vintage and Antiques in Dallas

Shopping for antiques is like going on a treasure hunt, and Dallas residents always know where to find the best deals on antique and vintage treasures. The city is filled with quirky thrift shops and interesting antique stores, and you never know what you’ll find when you visit. Here are three of the best antique stores in Dallas.

Lula B’s Antique Mall
This impressive shopping destination is much larger than your usual antique store, and it is filled with everything from mid-century modern furniture to porcelain dolls and 1920s jewelry. You can’t really come to Lula B’s searching for something in particular, but you will certainly find more than a few things that you would love to own. The prices are low, and the selection is always changing, so it’s easy to see why regulars come back again and again.
Two locations in Dallas; see website for details

Dolly Python
Dolly Python has two of the main things that constitute a great vintage store: a witty name and a few cute pets wandering the store. This popular shop is located in a building in East Dallas with just as much history as its authentic antique collectibles, which include costume jewelry, vinyl records, and much more.
1916 N. Haskell Ave., Dallas, TX 75204; (214) 887-3434

Curiosities
Just like its name implies, Curiosities is filled with, well, curiosities from all eras. If you’re interested in antique medical supplies or vintage tools, you’ll be especially smitten.
2025 Abrams Parkway, Dallas, TX 75214; (214) 828-1886

Tasty Turkey Alternatives for Vegetarians

Thanksgiving isn’t traditionally the most vegetarian-friendly holiday, but there are now a number of ways to make your feast enjoyable for vegetarian guests. These meat-free alternatives to the usual Thanksgiving turkey are both delicious and easy to make.

Acorn Squash Over Penne [health.com]
Who says that you can’t have pasta on Thanksgiving? This autumnal entree includes sweet acorn squash and nutrient-dense kale seasoned with crushed red pepper for a bit of warming spice, and it is served with whole wheat penne for a boost of fiber.

Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf [ohsheglows.com]
Although this hearty vegetarian dish seems more like meatloaf than Thanksgiving turkey, it’s so delicious that your vegetarian guests won’t mind one bit. Lentils and breadcrumbs give it a texture that’s much like meat, while the unique balsamic apple glaze is perfect for fall.

Ricotta and Fontina Stuffed Shells [foodandwine.com]
This veggie take on traditional stuffed shells is made with two types of rich cheeses and more vegetables than you can count. Simply pop the whole pan in the oven for 40 minutes and you’ll have a quick and easy entree that vegetarian guests will love.

Roasted Parsnip Bread Pudding [marthastewart.com]
Instead of the usual stuffing, which is usually cooked in chicken broth, this vegetarian version is seasoned with grated cheese and fresh thyme. Use it to stuff the Thanksgiving tofurkey and you won’t miss the meat at all.

Deliciously Unique Uses for Fresh Parsley

Fresh parsley is a very versatile herb, and it’s also one of the most common in any at-home herb garden. If you love the bright, fresh taste of parsley but you’re growing tired of your usual recipes, all it takes is a bit of inspiration to come up with brand new dishes. Here are three unique uses for parsley.

Parsley Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
Instead of the traditional Italian ravioli, why not spice things up with the decadent flavors of brown butter, ricotta cheese, and parsley. These homemade raviolis are made using won ton wrappers instead of pasta, and the robust taste of flat-leaf parsley really shines against the creamy flavor of the brown butter sauce.

Cucumber, Onion and Parsley Salad with Feta Cheese
This fast and easy salad is perfect for a quick lunch at home. The cucumber and onion make a crisp, crunchy base, while the lemon juice and olive oil blend to create a healthy dressing. Sprinkle some fresh parsley and crumbled feta cheese across the top before serving.

Chimichurri
This Argentinean sauce is similar to traditional pesto, but the addition of chili pepper gives it a bit of added spice. Fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, and olive oil create a lovely deep green color throughout the oil-based sauce. Argentineans use chimichurri as everything from a steak marinade to a pasta sauce.

Kid-Friendly Attractions in Dallas, Texas

Take the kids for a break from the fast pace of Dallas at one of these peaceful and awe-inspiring museums. Both are just minutes away from the city, so the kids won't complain about a long car ride, and a visit will open their eyes to the wonderful world of nature!

Dallas World Aquarium
Immerse yourself and your children in an underwater world at Dallas World Aquarium. Located in the West End Historic District of downtown, this facility is home to some of the most unique and endangered species on the planet. Get up close to a wattled jacana, or visit a spectacled owl in the eight-story Mundo Maya exhibit. Be sure to take part in one of the aquarium's fun and educational tours or workshops. Not limited to creatures of the water, the Dallas World Aquarium doubles as a zoo where the kids can learn a thing or two about amazing animals from around the world.

Dallas Arboretum
The beautiful Dallas Arboretum is truly a treat for the eyes. The museum's gardens cover 66 acres of land, and every inch is dedicated to sharing a view of trees and plants from around the world. One of the largest exhibits includes the DeGolyer estate, a gorgeous Spanish-style home and its surrounding flowerbeds. Kids will love the Rory Meyer's Children's Adventure Garden, where they'll learn about plant science in a very fun way. Take advantage of several dining options provided by the arboretum and this scenic getaway will prove to be a great escape from city life, without actually leaving the city.

Eleven 11 Salon End of Summer Sale

Two Household Uses for Fresh Mint

With its cool, refreshing flavor and its multitude of uses, mint is a truly standout herb that’s very easy to use. Whether you muddle a bit in your favorite summertime cocktail or use it to freshen up a musty room in your home, mint can add its signature sweet-smelling flair to just about any area of your house. If you have an overabundance of mint and no ideas for what to do with it, these two great ideas will help you to use mint around the house.

  1. Turn it into a simple room freshener. Once you have fresh mint leaves, all it takes is an attractive vase or jar to create your own inexpensive room freshener. Simply fill your vessel about halfway with some room temperature water, and then cut a bundle of mint leaves with stems long enough to extend to the bottom of the water. Though it doesn’t expel a very strong smell, this pretty mint arrangement will fill the air with the light, fragrant scent of mint.
  2. Use it to banish odor from a carpet. That overgrown mint plant on your windowsill just may be the key to a cleaner carpet. Mix two tablespoons of crushed, dried mint leaves to every one cup of baking soda, sprinkle it on the carpet and vacuum after an hour or so to refreshen and clean!

15 Uses for Mint [Mother Earth Living]
26 Uses for Mint [Fluster Buster]
15 Household Uses for Mint [Apartment Therapy]

Salsa Goes Sweet in This Trio of Tasty Recipes

Crunchy tortilla chips and fresh, flavorful salsas create a great summer pairing, and there are a number of different ways to eat them. Whether you prefer the spicy taste of black beans or the sweet, fruity flavor of pineapple, there is truly a salsa recipe for everyone. Here are just three sweet summer salsa recipes to try for a snack tonight.

Blueberry Salsa
It’s not uncommon to see salsas made with fresh fruits, but blueberries certainly aren’t your typical salsa ingredients. This colorful recipe blends the warm, sweet taste of blueberries with spicy jalapenos and cilantro to create a wonderfully complex flavor.

Summer Salsa with a Shot
Create a much bolder salsa than your usual salsa with this tequila-infused recipe. The base uses the typical tomatoes, onions, and fresh jalapeno peppers, but just a couple tablespoons of tequila take this salsa to the next level.

Summer Peach Salsa
Bring a Southern flair to your favorite south-of-the-border dip with this recipe for juicy peach salsa. Ripe peaches are boiled to extract their fruity taste, and then they’re chopped and mixed with the usual salsa fixings to create a hearty dip for salty tortilla chips. It takes just a few ingredients to make, but this sweet and spicy salsa is one that your guests will remember long after the dinner party is over.

How to Decorate Shelves and Bookcases Like a Design Pro

Decorating a bookshelf isn’t as easy as just sliding your entire book collection onto its shelves. If you want a well-arranged bookshelf worthy of an interior design magazine, all it takes are a few simple tricks. Here are the best ways to color, organize, and style that plain old bookshelf.

  1. Draw inspiration. Completely empty your bookshelf to create a blank canvas, and then think about what you like about other bookshelves that you’ve seen. Do you love colorful rows of books or a few antique titles scattered throughout? What type of flowers, plants, and knick-knacks do you want to incorporate into your design? It helps to plan things out beforehand so that you can visualize the final product.
  2. Sort your books. Since the books are the main focal point of the bookshelf, add them in first. Organize books by size and color to create shelves that flow well. Place some books horizontally and some vertically to create some excitement for the eye.
  3. Fill in empty spaces. Now that your whole book collection is one the shelves, you can afford to fill unused space with pretty items. A bud vase with a small flower is a great option, and an antique globe makes an attractive addition to a home office. You have some freedom here, but make sure to avoid over-cluttering your now-perfect bookshelf.

Flip for Decorating: The Bookcase [House Beautiful]
22 Ways to Arrange Your Shelves [Real Simple]
How-To Beautify Your Bookcase [Coastal Living]
How to Decorate a Bookshelf [Decoist]

Try These Savory-Sweet Watermelon Recipes

Watermelon is available in excess during the hotter summer months, but you may be at a loss for things to do with the incredibly sweet fruit. If you think your options only extend as far as fruit salads and smoothies, think again: There's a whole slew of sweet and savory watermelon recipes that will really excite the taste buds! Here are just a few of the best.

Savory Watermelon and Bleu Cheese Salad [Good Housekeeping]
The main ingredients in this simple salad are watermelon slices and bleu cheese, but when it comes to taste that’s more than enough. While the two may seem like an unlikely combination, the flavors complement each other in a truly delicious way.

Watermelon Tabouleh Stacks with Grilled Chicken [Watermelon.org]
Tabouleh is beloved for its grainy texture and mint flavor, and these unique stacks combine the traditional taste of that Mediterranean salad with the fresh, juicy flavor of watermelon. Grilled chicken is placed on top to create a hearty entree with a very unique presentation.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Basil [Martha Stewart]
Freshly chopped basil leaves accent the cheesy, crumbly taste of feta and the fruity flavor of watermelon in this light side dish. It takes only minutes to make, but this salad even looks pretty enough to serve at a fancy dinner party.