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Back to School Review: Best Printer for Your College Kid

printer-best

After several years working at various companies, institutions and government bodies, I struck it on my own about 10 years ago. I ran my own boutique media and tech law firm (and later a boutique public relations firm briefly). Now I have a digital publishing company.

Between then and now, I had always worked from a home office. Sometimes, I worked out of that space solely and other times, part time, splitting hours working in a shared-office suite I leased in the city.

Naturally, to complete my office space, I had to get a mult-functioning printer that also had fax, copying and scanning capabilities.

My first one was a very heavy bulky laser desktop version by Brother. It did the trick and lasted a long time.

As my business grew and I started doing more public relations work for clients, I decided to get a supplemental printer. This second one was an even larger multi-function printer, made by Dell. It too was laser and could do print jobs super fast. It lasted several years and still works though it no longer faxes.  Both came with printer cartridges that lasted pretty long before needing to be replaced.

Recently, I upgraded the home office and acquired a few more desktops so the kids could each have their own computer.  My eldest had several computer-based projects and my three school-aged kids were fighting too much over the two desktops we owned.  I decided to leave the Dell to the kids and get myself a small desktop.

So I set off one day specifically to search for a laser printing, assuming laser was mandatory for professional documents.

I headed to my local Staples store and saw an HP Office Jet  Pro 8610 desktop printer there on sale for about $79.00 after a manufacturer discount. It was a good size to fit on my new desk or underneath it on the floor. It was color so I was geeked as I had never had a color printer before.

I didn’t even realize that it was not a laser printer, though I should have known given the great price.

It isn’t until I set it up that I realized. However, when I did my first few print jobs, I saw the quality was precise and distinctive.

You couldn’t even tell it wasn’t a laser print job. I decided against returning it.

I really dug being able to print in color as well. The color was sharp and true. It was great for flyers, and other graphic design projects.   HP has a series of printables and templates  you can access too that would supplement or complement your design needs.  You could download a desktop app or use the ones offered through its Snapfish partner.

And the printables are not just for business documents, but also personal stuff like invitations, party printables, worksheets for the kids, greeting cards, family calendars, chore lists, grocery lists, meal planners, cupcake wrappers. The works!

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Because I have been so busy, I never took the time to study the owner’s manual and learn of all the other functions.

Nonetheless, each month, I would discover a new one.

Like, one time, my son started printing from his computer and that is when  I discovered he had connected to the printer too via a wireless network connection option meaning, it could connect wirelessly to all the computers in the home and be used by each to print!

Wow!

One day, I needed to scan a document and that is when I learned that I wasn’t limited to the scanned document being simply downloaded as an electronic document on the c: drive in the attached computer.  I also had the option to email the doc, send it to any of the other computers in the network, and to send it to a thumb drive I could connect to the printer. That last option could come in handy during rush time when you need to just pick up a doc and go!

Very neat!

Then today, I finally had the need to send a fax and that is when I discovered that I didn’t need to connect the fax to the telephone jack in my wall via a telephone cord. It sent the fax via the IP network. (and it could send using the DSL, and other fiber optic non traditional landline telephone connections in the home).

That was a great discovery for several reasons: 1.The wall jack was remotely located behind a bookshelf in my office and is very hard to access; and 2. I don’t even own a telephone cord long enough to reach.

I feared having to haul the entire printer to the next room to connect to the jack there because it was more accessible physically there, not blocked by anything like a massive bookshelf.

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Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to see the fax was sent off in no time and I was given a fax confirmation promptly after to alert me it was successful.

I got a call shortly after from the recipient to let me know the transmission was received. Perfect!

It was a God-send because the other alternative would have been to feed and scan in several pages of documents, then take a few extra steps to forward the document off. It would have been a slightly more time-consuming process.

I appreciated the quicker fax option. To think, so many young people these days don’t use and don’t really even remember the fax days.

I even learned that you can print to home from anywhere in the world and even when you are far away from the printer.

I imagine that this would be awesome if you had this printer at a remote location for an event, conference or convention you were running, for example.  You could have some secretary, clerk or assistant back in the home office send in print jobs for event registration lists, guest updates, or Powerpoint presentations that someone forgot in the office.

Other neat functions I learned about include:

  • It prints photos if you feed photo paper and it has a borderless option so the photos print like photos you get from the drug store or print shop without the trim.
  • You can print and fax at the same time. I discovered this on accident when my son sent something to print while the fax was sending a file.
  • It can hold up to 240 pages in the printer tray and prints as fast as 13 seconds per page and up to 19 pages per minute.
  • It has 2-sided printing for graphic jobs like printing brochures, menus and programs.
  • It has an automatic document feeder so you can scan multiple documents without having to lift the flat bed and insert each one separately which could take a lot of time for large scan jobs.
  • You can print from your desktop, tablet or phone, any device that connects to the printer wirelessly.
  • It has the standard one-year limited hardware warranty.

Overall, this is an awesome, highly recommended printer!

You can order it from Staples and they will ship it to you for free. Or if you have Amazon Prime, get it there too and get it shipped for free!

If you pick one up, do let me know how it works out for you!

Eco- Friday: 3 Steps to a Greener, Healthier Home

 

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It’s easy being green. Follow these three steps to a greener and healthier home.

1. Prevent Pests

Pests are a nuisance and a hazard to human health in many cases. Cockroaches, for example, can trigger or worsen allergies and asthma. Mosquitoes are known carriers of disease like Zika and West Nile. Rodents can contaminate food and spread disease. Termites can eat away at the wood in your home’s structure.

There are hundreds of pests that can make your home unsafe. However, there are simple measures you can take to keep pests from making your home their home. Keep a clean and tidy home to eliminate food sources that attract many of these pests. Prevent moisture in the bathroom, kitchen and yard, too. Seal up access points such as cracks and crevices in your house’s foundation to keep pests like rodents out, keeping your family safe.

Even pests that are not known carriers of disease, like bed bugs, can still cause chaos in your home. And they aren’t just limited to hotels, either. Families can pick up these pests in any public space, from daycare and school to the gym and airport. Their bites can cause serious redness, itchiness and swelling, a nightmare for parents with small kids. To keep your family and home free of bed bugs, always wash your linens in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting when returning from trips and avoid purchasing items like furniture second-hand. This is especially important for families living in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, as these places fall within Orkin’s report of the top bed bug cities.

2. Buy Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Despite being marketed as “safe” or “green,” many cleaning products on the market contain harmful chemicals. Keeping a clean home is important to ensuring your family stays healthy. Bacteria and germs are lurking everywhere, from the kitchen to the bathroom. But green-minded experts suggest swapping standard cleaning agents for cleaning supplies that are natural and healthy, such as white vinegar and baking soda.

3. Invest in Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling

Automation is one of the biggest trends in home technology right now. For good reason, too. Not only is automation convenient for homeowners, it is also eco-friendly. Take Nest, for example. This automated, self-learning thermostat controls the heating and cooling when you’re home and when you’re out of the house, ensuring that no energy is wasted. Compatible with your smartphone, this self-learning “smart” thermostat also offers insight into how much energy you are consuming every single day with the Energy Report and every month with the Home Report.

Additionally, Nest’s leaf feature helps you keep the environment in mind when you’re adjusting your heating and cooling. When you change the temp to save energy, a small, green leaf appears on Nest’s display, showing that you are making an eco-conscious decision. Nest also alerts you on your phone when your home may be unsafe. It sends alerts if the temperature is too low, which means pipes could burst, and if your furnace is acting up.

Negotiate Your Maternity Leave: Follow This Guide

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Negotiating Your Leave

There’s no magic formula for calculating the perfect maternity leave. It depends on you, your job, your baby — even where you live and what time of year it is. Lock up a new mom for the winter in Maine with a colicky baby, no help, and few visitors, and you’ll probably have a woman begging to return to her job, or any job, in a matter of weeks.

What’s more typical, though, is the new mother who’s forced — for reasons of finance, job security, or workplace demands — to return to the office long before she feels emotionally and physically ready. “I was so exhausted when I went back that I couldn’t see straight,” says a friend who took a six-week leave. “And I missed my baby so much that I just sat at my desk and cried. I really wish that I had taken a little more time.”

There’s no way to predict in advance how you will feel, what kind of baby you’ll have, or exactly how much time off you’ll want — and need. But unfortunately, you have to make decisions about your time off long before your leave begins.

So what to do? To help you negotiate the best possible maternity leave, here are some things to keep in mind.

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Rio: Brazilian Food You Can Make for the Family

 

brazilian food

We’re smack dab in the middle of Olympics coverage. Besides watching the various events and games, moms (and dads) can get their children into the spirit by making and eating foods from different nations.

And why not start with the host nation. Brazilian food is varied and colorful and yummy. It’s quite easy to find recipes that are kid-friendly as well.

Check out Mode.com’s curated recipes to get you started!

Check out Rio-Ready: Brazilian-Inspired Dishes for the Whole Family

by Eloquence & Company at Mode

Moms, Do you Do any of these Top 10 Distracting Things While Driving ?

Bellyitch Rewind
distracting
Most moms know how important it is to multitask, but multitasking while you’re driving is something that should certainly be off limits, no matter how long your to-do list is. While we all know distracted driving is a faux pas, here are the top 12 dangerous things moms have been seen doing while driving.



Distraction #1: Drinking Hot Liquids
Sipping a latte while driving may seem like second nature to you, but it’s really not. With one hand off the wheel you have less control of the vehicle. You also risk spilling hot liquid on yourself, which could cause you to lose control of the vehicle, depending on how you react.



Distraction #2: Eating
Driving takes two hands and when you’re eating, only one is available. In addition to the risk of spilling crumbs on yourself, fiddling with the packaging or wrapping can also be distracting.

Distraction #3: Applying Make-up

It can be tempting to pretty yourself up while you’re driving, but you shouldn’t. Doing so is a huge distraction. Looking in the mirror with one hand on the wheel is a recipe for disaster.

Distraction #4: Grooming

In the same sentiment, tweezing your brows and fixing your hair should also be off limits when driving. Your eyes need to be on the road, not in the mirror.

Distraction #5: Tending to the Kids

Reaching behind the driver’s seat to fish for a dropped teddy bear or a sippy cup is an act that requires strength, endurance and concentration. Pull over if you need to tend to the kids while on the road.

Distraction #6: Texting

Although many states now have no texting laws on the books, people continue to text and drive, which can set the stage for trouble.



Distraction #7: Talking on the Phone

Chatting while driving may seem like a great way to pass the time, but engaging in conversations when driving can be distracting, especially when discussing emotional topics.

Distraction #8: Playing with Electronics

Whether it’s adjusting the volume on the radio or popping a new DVD into the onboard DVD player, the second or two it takes to make the adjustment is enough of a distraction to put you and the children in danger.

Distraction #9: Driving while Drowsy

Being a mom is tiring, no doubt, but dosing off for just a second can put you and your children in a life or death situation. Well-rested drivers are typically better drivers and have better response times when facing obstacles in their paths.



Distraction #10: Zoning Out

Being on autopilot won’t cut it when it comes to driving, especially with the kids. While you may naturally tend to zone out when driving the same route day after day, it’s important to stay focused while on the road.

Distraction #11 Pumping

While it could be argued that as long as you hook up and unhook yourself while the vehicle is at a complete stop, pumping isn’t a distraction, the opposite could also be argued. Having to fiddle with the controls or deal with spilled milk could certainly be a distraction.

Distraction #12 Breast Feeding

Children are supposed to be in car seats for a reason, to protect them. Never mind how distracting it may be trying to manage the wheel and the child, taking a child out of his seat while the vehicle is in motion to nurse him puts you both at risk should an accident occur.  Should the airbag ever deploy, it could be fatal to the child.

 Watch yourself moms.

Get Your Kids’ Closet Organized Before School Starts: 10 Tips!

Bellyitch Rewind

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As you prep to send the kids back to school, you may want to reassess what’s in their closet now and consolidate uneeded clothes, give away some, fold away some for younger children and basically get organized. Here are 10 tips to help you do that from a past post:

1.Take inventory: Go through the clothes that you already have for your child and see which items fit and which items don’t. Take the items that they have out grown to a resale shop or donate them to a worthy cause.

2.Assess how your child dresses: Don’t buy a bunch of dresses if you have a tomboy who doesn’t like to wear dresses. This may seem like common sense, but for some reason people love to buy pretty dresses and then they hang in the closet with the tags on them. Or they are worn once for that special occasion and that’s it.

3.Buy separates: Instead of buying a bunch of dresses you need to buy separates so that you can mix and match tops and skirts. You can also wear the tops with jeans or other pants. A dress is one outfit, but if you buy three skirts and three tops that can be mixed and matched then you can get nine outfits out of those items.

4.Buy basic colors: When buying pants or skirts think about buying basic colors, black, blue and brown. Those will go with a lot of different things you may already own. The more combinations that you can make the better off you will be.

5.Don’t buy outfits: Stores are great about putting together outfits, like pink and green striped leggings with a matching pink and green top. This is a one trick pony. You might be able to wear the top with jeans, but otherwise you can wear the pants with that one top and that’s it. Plus it’s such a bold color choice that you don’t want to repeat it in the same week.

6.Teach them to wear things more than once: The biggest thing that they can wear more than once is pajamas. There is no need to have seven pairs of pajamas. They can get up in the morning and fold them up and put them under their pillow for the next night. Having three to four pairs of pajamas should be plenty.

7.Add leggings to an outgrown dress: Do you have some dresses that are getting too short but they fit otherwise? Just add a pair of leggings and you can still get some more mileage out of those dresses.

8.Jeans, jeans, jeans: Most of the time jeans can be worn more than once in a week so teach your child to hang or fold them up after the first wearing unless they know they got a stain on them. Jeans are very versatile and can be worn dressed up with a nice shirt or sweater or worn with a T-shirt.

9.Buy basics: Buy a sweater in white so that you can take those short-sleeved dresses into Fall and Winter. Buy a white shirt that will go with anything or under any sweater to make an outfit warmer for winter. Black pants are always a good idea because they can be worn with any shirt and can be dressed up or down depending on the circumstances.

10.Take pictures and make a fashion book: Boys are especially bad about grabbing the shirt that is on the top in their drawer and wearing it over and over. For boys you might want to hang shirts so that they can all be seen. With girls, make a fashion book. Take pictures of all of the separate pieces and then mix and match them in a fashion book to show the different outfits that can be put together. Even young children can pick out an outfit and pull the pieces out of their closet and put a matching outfit together. Accessories for girls are also great to stretch a wardrobe. A great colorful scarf can be added to a basic black or brown top and you have a completely different look that how you wore it last week. Accessories are cheap and this is a good place to allow your kids to follow the trends, but not break that bank.

Good luck!

10 Tips for Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

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Given that it back to school time, I’m bringing out these old 10 tips we got from the Y that caregivers and parents should consider to make sure their child or children are ready  for Kindergarten:
  1. Play games that encourage alphabet recognition –  The alphabet go-fish game works as do those letter refrigerator magnets.
  2. Help your child with number recognition by counting items throughout the day, for example. Count out loud the crackers, grapes, or carrots you put out for them to eat for snack, for example.
  3. Help children recognize their colors. As you go about your day,  talk about the colors in their cookies, toys or clothes, for example.
  4. Develop shape recognition and motor skills by getting your child to practice writing, drawing or cutting out (child-safe scissors please) shapes like rectangles, squares or stars.
  5. Talk about sounds that letters make and how they sound so they can begin to recognize words. Overemphasize the first sound in words to help your child learn to recognize individual sounds.
  6. Practice writing and drawing with colored pencils, crayons or markers to help them  improve their motor skills.
  7. Read lots of stories and work up to longer books to help them develop good focus and learn to pay attention.
  8. Give children the opportunity to interact with other children in diverse settings and groups such as preschool, church, social groups, or play dates. Socialization is a big part of kindergarten.
  9. Teach children how to express their feelings. Help your child  learn the best way to behave if she/he doesn’t like something. Role-play different situations she/he might expect.
  10. Teach children to write his/her name. You can make it fun with finger paint, sugar or salt in a pan, shaving cream or frosting.

Good luck!

RoadTrip MustHave: This App Tells You Where the Nearest Clean Bathroom Is

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If you are heading on a road trip this summer, you know the pains of finding a clean bathroom to do a diaper change or take a fidgety toddler who you would need to physically hold over a dirty toilet seat in a public bathroom.

Good thing for technology to rescue modern parents.

Charmin toilet paper sponsors the Sit or Squat free app which determines your current location and gives you an array of options of bathrooms near you. When you click on the location, there is the option to vote for it’s rating and view what others have to say.

During a road trip, you will know whether it would be easy to take your kid in the stall or whether you should make him hold it and find another one.

Similar to Sit or Squat, Whizzer app gives you the location of bathrooms near you. There is a rating system showing overall cleanliness scores as well as the amenities that the facility offers (such as changing tables and if there is a fee to use a particular restroom). I think that app has tanked tho since it launched a couple years ago.

Nice. Download Sit or Squat HERE on iTunes or Google Play!

CBS did a report last year about another app that tells you when is the best time in any movie to run to the bathroom. It’s great for parents too who may not want to miss the best or most important parts of a film.

READ:

If you’re heading to the movies this weekend, an app could help with the one thing you might not be thinking about until it’s too late to ignore, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

For audiences torn between leaving a great movie and the pain of a needed bathroom break, the RunPee app comes to the rescue.

RunPee is the brainchild of Dan Florio, a former software engineer in Asheville, North Carolina. The 48-year-old was inspired to design it in 2008 after he saw “King Kong” in theaters — a three-hour epic.

Ninety minutes in, it was that time.

“By the end of the movie I couldn’t enjoy it. All I wanted was for King Kong — for his heart to stop so the movie would be over and I could run to the restroom,” Florio said. “Out of that pain came the RunPee app.”

Florio watches movies differently than most. We want the high drama, the big laugh or the memorable one-liner, while he’s looking for any three-to-four-minute stretch viewers can live without seeing.

“You don’t want to come back into the theater and someone to be like, ‘Hey Darth Vader is Luke’s father,'” Florio said.

The app gives audiences several opportunities to go every movie and a quick summary of what they missed.

When it’s time to think about going, the user’s phone vibrates with an alert. The app now has 1 million downloads, and 450,000 active users with active bladders and occasional complaints.

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I also love the names of these apps and their liberal use of colloquial and slang terms for everyday things. ha!

 

Sun-Safe Pokémon Go Hunting Tips for Parents

guest post

safe hunting

As a parenting expert, I face many questions from moms about what products are best for their kids in order to maintain healthy hair, skin and what they can do to make sure their children know the rules of the busy roads, especially when the summer heat becomes too overwhelming. As many kids are out utilizing their time trying to hunt their favorite Pokemon with the new, wildly famous game Pokemon Go, it’s very important to teach your children the fundamental basics of street safety.

Also, whether your kids face troubles with their hair and skin before or after they play outside, learning what to use to combat harmful UV Rays will essentially benefit them in the long run.  After years of trial and error, advice from other moms, and help from tried and true products and tools – I am here to offer some of the best tips and tricks I’ve found to make Pokemon hunting fun and safe as your kids spend their day outside catching ‘em all!

Look both ways before crossing, always.

  • It doesn’t matter if there are 10 cars or 1 car passing by, instill the importance of stopping and looking both ways into your kid’s head. Some cars are quieter than others and there could be blind spots in the road, so train them to use their eyes and ears before crossing the street.

Keep your hair in check.

  • It’s a challenge controlling children’s hair, especially in the hot summer heat. A curl refreshing spray can make sunny days easier because it will revitalize and hydrate curls and tame unwanted frizz that usually surfaces from the heat. Spray the refresher in their hair and throw it up in a ponytail – doing this will minimize distractions as it will keep their hair out of their faces and more aware of their surroundings! I recommend Design Essentials Coconut & Monoi Curl Refresher, which I can conveniently pick up from my local CVS and is kid-approved!

Know the signs.

  • It’s important to teach your children the meanings of traffic signals and signs at a young age, so it becomes second nature to them later. Take time to explain tricky signage so children know when they are approaching heavy traffic areas, highways or non-local roads, and animal crossing information.

One word: hydrate.

  • Staying hydrated is key to surviving the beaming summer sun, and catching Pokemon encourages a ton of kid-friendly fun in the great outdoors. It’s harder for your kid to pay attention if they’re suffering from dehydration and it can often result in dangerous situations that are best to be avoided at all times. Make sure your kids have a full water bottle in hand!

Sunblock saves the day.

  • There will be plenty of times where your kid will try to argue that “they don’t need to put on sunscreen.” While it can be a tedious task to slather on sunblock before going outside, coming home with tomato red skin can be a bit more annoying than not catching Pikachu.

Sidewalk to crosswalk

  • Even though taking shortcuts to cross the street seem more tempting than walking all the way to the pedestrian crossing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the sidewalk to the crosswalk to ensure a safe passageway to you next Pokemon capture.

Pucker Up.

  • While we don’t think of it as often as hair and skin, your kids lips also deserve the utmost care while they’re out playing in the heat. Their lips are just as exposed as the rest of their body, so if they’re not SPF protected, heat blisters can pop up. Any lip balm is super easy to pack away in your kid’s pocket when they go out!

Listen, don’t just look.

  • Hearing vehicles coming is just as important as seeing them. Playing loud music is extremely distracting and mutes out any sign of a car coming towards you, so let your children know to keep their headphones out of sight at busy intersections.

If you can’t see the driver’s face, they can’t see you.

  • It’s equally as important to make sure the driver is paying as much attention as the person crossing the street. Assure that the driver has noted your child’s presence before they step on the gas.

Making sure your kids are sun-safe while playing outside can prove to be a challenge, and being a worried parent only comes with the territory. Implementing these tips and tricks into your children’s daily routine – especially before they prepare for a full day’s worth of Pokemon hunting – will help you and your kids as much as it has helped me and my daughter!

Tammy Gold
About Tammy Gold:

Tammy Gold, LCSW, MSW, CEC, is a Licensed Therapist, Certified Parent Coach, Author, and Founder of Gold Parent Coaching. As a nationally recognized parenting expert, Gold appears regularly on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Fox and CBS News. She is one of the first therapists to bring traditional psychotherapy tools to the process of finding and enhancing the quality of childcare, basing her Gold Standard hiring process on Dr. John Bowlby’s attachment theory, Erik Erikson’s stages of child development, and Mary Ainsworth’s secure base. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her graduate degree in Social Work from Columbia University. Learn more at www.TammyGold.com or follow Tammy @TammyGoldCoach.

The Mason Jar Salad Guide for Busy Moms

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I am about to embark on a journey to lose some weight before my birthday next month. I  already pretty much adopt the Mediterranean Diet lifestyle as I am a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally. I will severely limit the carbs and will rely heavily on eating salads. It can get boring relying on salads for lunch and dinner to get through the day but I think variety will help me keep it interesting and not get too bored.

Naturally, I gravitated to Pinterest and found tons of great boards with salad recipes and that is when I also discovered this wonderful Salads in a mason jar trend like here and here and here and here.

It’s great for busy moms on the go! You pick up some large mason jars with lids, about 5 to 7, enough to last the work week. Then you pre-load and make your salads the night before so in the morning, you just grab  your jar and head out to work. Store them in the office fridge or an insulated lunch kit.

For stay-at-home and work-at-home moms like myself, we can just whip them out during the day and don’t have to worry about the stress of deciding what to eat.

I also found a wonderful blog, Everyday Eyecandy that has a marvelous post with everything you need to know about salads in a jar!

Here are the initial tips:

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SALAD IN A JAR

  1. THE most important thing to remember about a salad in a jar: DRESSING ON THE BOTTOM.  You want to make sure that your greens are as far away from your dressing as you can get them. It keeps your greens fresh and crisp.
  2. Jam pack your jars. Not only does it make a good salad, but it keeps everything from moving around. The less air between your layers, the longer your salad will last.
  3. If you are making a side salad( like you are taking a soup and salad or a salad and a sandwich), use the  pint-sized mason jars.  If you are going to make your salad a full meal, use the quart sized jars.
  4. The longest I’ve ever saved a salad in the jar in the fridge was 8 days. The veggies on the bottom were marinated in the dressing, but they were delicious.
  5. Be sure to add a protein. You want it to last.

There is plenty more recipes and advice! Check out the entire post here!  There are also great recipes at the Back to Her Roots blog! Enjoy!

photo: courtesy Brit&Co