DIY: Making homemade labels for our spice jars.


We’ve been storing our spices in a couple of cardboard boxes pretty much since the day we moved into our first apartment all those years ago. It started with one box and as our cooking skills grew we added another box – one for baking and one for cooking basically. But the boxes were impossible to organize – you’d take one jar out and the others would fall over or shift which meant alphabetizing them was a lost cause. This resulted in “Why do we have 3 bottles of cinnamon?” or “I know we have rosemary around here somewhere, but I can’t find it.”

After eight years of marriage and owning more cinnamon than we probably know what to do with, I decided it was time to try something else. The thing is – we’ve been looking for the perfect spice rack for years and never found one worth taking up the counter space. I.e. We’re picky. I don’t like those rotatey spice racks and didn’t want to live with the spices they thought we wanted.

We finally settled on 12 of these spice jars from World Market that were $1 each (sold online in packs of 6) along with this metal spice rack for just $10 that can either be hung on a wall or cabinet door or just placed on a counter if you have the room. World Market has a ton of different jar styles by the way. These were by far the plainest they had but that kind of appealed to us. You could also totally just keep your spices in the jars they came in and put them in the rack, but we were loving the idea of uniformity so we splurged on new jars. In the long run, we’re probably going to need another rack and more jars to hold the rest of our spices but this got us started with the spices we seem to use most often.

So we had our jars and a rack and we found a home for it that we could live with – now we just needed to pick twelve spices to move into the rack and label the jars. We were originally thinking of picking out labels in a store but didn’t find any we liked. Then we were going to use a sticker or label maker to make our own and went through the whole mental process of figuring that out, when my husband found this link to a tutorial for making your own labels using a laser printer and packing tape! I was skeptical but it totally worked! Head over to The Proper Pinwheel for further instruction on making the labels.

I designed my labels using PicMonkey which is an awesome online photo editor / graphic designer that is available for free though there are a lot of spiffy extras for people who pay for a Royale Membership (totally worth it, in my opinion). This label took me about five minutes to design. Feel free to steal it as long as you use it for good and not evil:


Now you just need words. You could add the font for the label right on picmonkey if you want (and they have a lot of beautiful fonts) but I was worried that this would be tedious to then save 12 different images and then compile them all onto one page. In an effort to save time, I saved the logo above and then copied and pasted it 12 times into a LibreDraw file. LibreOffice is basically Microsoft Office but open source (i.e. free). I tried doing this in a word document and it was really difficult to get the text to line up where I wanted it. Helpful Hubby recommended the Draw program which let me make text boxes that I then positioned over each label.

Which method would have been faster in the end? I’m not sure. Either way, I finished the whole process in under and hour, printed the page and then we used the methods shared at The Proper Pinwheel to turn the laser printed page and packing tape into beautiful, homemade labels for our new spice jars.



We are both really thrilled with the end result. The labels are so special to us because we designed them ourselves, making them truly unique and we love that if we want to use a bottle for a different spice, the label is just packing tape so it should be easy to remove (and it’s pretty water proof, too!). And having the spices right where we want them and finally, finally alphabetized is making it so much nicer to cook.

Organization never tasted so good!


It's Real Life: Store It: In The Kitchen

This week’s It’s Real Life photo meme is all about kitchen storage… Can you hear me grumbling with dismay from where you’re reading? My kitchen is kind of like my least favorite room in the apartment because we can never seem to live inside its means. We like stuff and have a good bit of it and not nearly enough room to store it all. From first glance I think my kitchen is cute – it has that tacky retro 70’s look that I can be weirdly proud of because it’s mine… but at your second and third glance you’ll notice it’s crowded, cluttered and seems to have a permanent filth that no amount of scrubbing, vacuuming and praying can seem to ease.

But this is REAL LIFE so I’m showing it to you anyway! How’s that for bravery? Let’s begin before I change my mind:

We keep our Tupperware under the sink which has recently recovered from a big yucky leak – we had to have the faucet and stuff replaced and yeah the bottom of the cupboard is sagged and stained but I scrubbed it to sanitary cleanness and all is well even if it looks nasty. I like my little spinny rack of stackable Tupperware – so well thought out and I use the heck out of them! Mostly I just love that they always get put away nicely and never look like a hodge podge pile like that pile next to it.

The cleaning supplies are in the middle drawer of the cabinet next to my refrigerator, held shut with a child safety latch that MM still hasn’t figured out luckily. I know it looks like a mess in there, but I swear it’s organized to an extent and all those sprayers are turned to OFF to prevent leakage – so far so good.

Above my fridge is, well, seemingly everything – a little wooden toy truck that MM broke and dh is in the process of fixing / gluing back together, our battery supply, dh’s “tool cabinet”, glue, extra bowls, pitchers, platters, etc. The entire top of all of our cupboards is used for extra storage – bring clutter up, right?

I have a real spice rack – fancy, pretty, full of spices I never use – this is where I keep the spices that I DO use – I found a shoe box and re purposed it into a Spice Box, which lives in one of the upper cabinets with more food – everything spicy in one easy place to search through, and they don’t fall over when I move things.

This is the cabinet where I keep our dishes – I’ve redesigned the organization method in here a dozen times and I’m pretty happy with this one, for now at least – those drinking glasses are semi new and I had to redesign the whole set up when we got them to make them fit properly – I can fit all but one glass which means that I need to always have one glass being used for everything to seem like it fits, which usually isn’t a problem anyway – someone here is always drinking something (usually the eternally thirsty me).

The silverware drawer – Fitting all of our silverware in here is not as easy as you’d think but the drawer is very narrow and I can’t fit a larger utensil holder in here so it makes due. I just recently had an “ah ha” moment where I thought to turn half the forks sideways and half up right to make everything fit better.

Here’s another mish mash of stuff that we try to fit in the kitchen – chopper grinder thingy, other chopper mincer thingy, strainer and mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and all my snackage and miscellaneous stuff. There is a little wire shelf in there that the bowls and sugar jar, etc. are sitting on allowing me to store things under nearth it, too – which I do.

Here are a lot of our basic appliances – microwave, food scale, coffee maker, George Forman Grill, toaster, knife block, our other spice rack, a jar of spatulas (there is a bigger jar with our other big utensils on the stove and even MORE hanging on walls – I told you we have a lot of stuff) and last but not least the awesome hand / stand mixer we got at Kohls last night for $50 – I don’t know how we made it fit, but I’m happy it’s here.

We keep our cookbooks on an invisible bookshelf on the wall (bookshelf bought at The Container Store – love them). I have a few others on counter tops and scattered about but this was one of my favorite strokes of genius in this apartment – we have a couple in every room.

Well that’s about it – my kitchen storage “solutions” in real life. This was kind of painful, but in a way better than I thought it would be. And now I kind of want to go scrub my kitchen from top to bottom…

For more It’s Real Life participants with probably way better organized lives, head over to Jessica’s blog @ Farm Fresh.

Thursday Thunks: Random But FUN

This week’s Thursday Thunks was brought to you in part by Berleen @ StraitJacket Mom.

  1. The election is over… what do you think? A lot of things and not much at the same time. I’m hopeful for the future and proud of this moment in history, but thanks to my dh I’m also cautious and planning for the future. I voted for Obama, dh voted for McCain – time will tell who made the right decision. Best case scenario – I’m proud to be an American and looking forward to lunch. Worst case scenario – I researched the requirements for immigrating to Canada last night. It’s surprisingly easy – a lot of work, but still, easy. And no, I’m not really seriously planning it, it was just a random discussion we got into over a joke, but then the nerds that we are we had to go and figure out the proccess and research so that the next time someone makes a joke about moving to Canada we can be all, “Oh there’s an immigration office in Buffalo, have you filed the paperwork yet?”
  2. Tell us about a snowman. We built our first family snow man this March. It was very cute and dh and MM had a blast building it. We put dh’s baseball hat on it and took a picture. It was gone within days.
  3. What brand of ketchup do you buy? Either Heinz or Trader Joes brand, depending on what store I’m in when I need ketchup. I love the easy squirt bottle by Heinz. But I also love Trader Joes in general.
  4. Do you use a cookbook? Cookbook, online recipe searches, magazine recipes – I get my recipes from a lot of sources, but try to print anything not in a cookbook for my personal files. Admittedly, I’m not the most organized of cooks – I kind of have eight different set ups for things and have a hard time following through with any of them.
  5. Do you blow-dry your hair or let it air dry? Air dry – I don’t think I’ve blow dried my hair more than five times in my life. Except at the salon, they do it so well, why fight it.
  6. When was the last time you were sick? Like Ange, it seems like I’m always sick, but rarely sick enough to get anything out of it. I just get to say ::cough cough:: I’m sick ::cough:: and then go about my day.
  7. What is the strangest letter of the alphabet? I’d have to go with W because sometimes it’s an M and when my 2 year old son says it out loud it could also be an elephant or apple juice. Pretty strange.
  8. Who was the last person you bought a present for? What was it? Will you buy me one? Well tie between my son and my brother in law because I bought them on the same day, same place. A bit of early Christmas Shopping – we got MM the Shrek trilogy on DVD and my BIL a make your own rootbeer kit. I know that might sound lame but it looks very cool and it’s right up his alley. And when he opens it, I’m probably going to say, “Why is he drinking all that soda?” and I’ll laugh and laugh and you won’t understand why unless you are my husband or one of my sisters in law, but trust me, it’s hysterical. Will I buy you a present? Sure, but by *buy* I mean, I will give you this: If you have voted anyway. Otherwise, hands off. Sorry bestie.

  9. Why are we ending at 9 questions? Don’t we always end in nine questions? I haven’t been doing this long and I have a terrible memory sometimes, but I’m pretty sure. Let’s see. There are eight letters in Thursday so that probably isn’t it… Um maybe whoever made this decided 13 was too many?

Regardless, for more Thunking Good Fun, head over to Thursday Thunks and thunk your little heart out.

In Other News…

  • I really want to bake peanut butter cookies but I’m worried that would be the epitome of further sabotaging my diet. But I saw this great recipe in Parents Magazine which only needs peanut butter, sugar & an egg – I have all those things! And don’t you think my adorable two year old would enjoy making cookies with his momma… I know I could give some cookies away, but that involves going out, which I’m hoping not to do until the weekend. By then they’ll be long gone.
  • I just ordered our Christmas cards from Walmart’s photo website. I am not always the biggest Walmart fan but I do love their photo products and their prices seriously cannot be beat. I made our 2008 calendar there and it came out great! I’m using my iMac to make next year’s calendar, because it means I can use iPhoto which is just easier and only a few dollars more expensive. Holiday cards really aren’t cost effective via iPhoto though so thank god for Walmart! I say the same thing, btw, when I need new clothes. Apparently only Walmart understands my body type. I’m not sure what that says about me… Do you guys like Walmart or are you strictly Target Types? Or other?
  • I’ve had four glasses of water today (the big TALL glasses) and had trail mix for a snack with MM – so even though I haven’t exercised today I’m still feeling pretty proud of myself and super healthy – I lost 3 pounds last week doing nothing so maybe doing a teeny tiny something this week will help the trend to continue?
  • I also organized MM’s toys while he was napping, trying to instead of stashing things in two huge crates and rotating, keep all the crates out at once and organize the toys so that stuffed animals are here, cars and trucks and planes are here, etc. So far I think it’s working well but we’ll see. I really don’t want to have to get rid of toys but Christmas is fast approaching. Still I think we’ll see what kind of loot we get before we go hastily getting rid of (although to be fair, none of his old toys are gone, they are just in boxes in our bedroom, which would prefer we not bring more boxes into).
  • The Halloween costume is ALMOST time. I bought dh a new sewing machine this weekend (apparently our old one only did ONE stitch, how lame is that? The new one only does 16, but he says that’s a world of difference and that it does all these other cool things, too. Please don’t tell him I’m betraying his manliness again by telling you all of this, but I love it. If he gets really good at this sewing thing he can teach me how to do some of it. But you know he’ll just do a better job. Meanwhile … I blog like nobody’s business? I’m sure I’m good at something. So he does the sewing, makes homemade breads, pizzas and anything else he puts his mind to and he’s a genius. I’m… good at spell checking. Usually.
  • This may or may not be the only random bullet points post I ever make. Usually I try to reign it in and make one topic per post, but I wanted to just talk for awhile, like in a diary or something and just get it out a bit. Without continuing to cry about my dead hamster and lack of pregnancy. You understand right?