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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spice Spice Baby

When our oldest child was a toddler, we lived in a small town just south of the Wisconsin border.  The town didn't really offer much in the way of amenities, but it was on the train line to Chicago where my husband worked.  In fact, it was the very last stop on the line.  That's how far out we had to go to get a house we liked that we could afford.  The town had a small Wal-Mart and two small grocery stores, nowhere to buy  organic or other "exotic" foods.  So when a couple of other young mothers decided to start a food buying group, I was in.  We ordered through a supplier in Wisconsin who delivered our goods to one member's house where we unloaded the truck and split up the bounty.  We bought bulk brown rice and dried beans and shared.  Juices and sauces, cheese, you name it.  It was a great social activity -- the kids played as we worked -- and a way to learn from each other about new foods.

After three years in the little town, we moved to a somewhat larger college town.  It had a wonderful natural foods co-op market, which we immediately joined.  Initially, I volunteered there.  My job was to slice the bulk blocks and wheels of cheese into smaller portions which were tightly wrapped for sale.  Sadly, they no longer do that.  The cheese all comes prepackaged in shrink-wrapped pouches.  The co-op has lost much of its buying group feel, but it remains, hands down, the best place in town to buy spices.  The spices and dried herbs are light years fresher than what one finds in the grocery store.  They sell the spices in little plastic envelopes.

The envelopes keep the spices and herbs fresh, and they don't take up much space.  For many years I have stored my spice envelopes inside Rubbermaid containers -- one for baking or sweet spices and one for cooking or savory spices. Recently, however, I began craving a new way to store my spices.  Something cuter, something more charming. Maybe it's because of Pinterest or reading blogs written by women whose homes are filled with creativity and charm.  Who knows?  But gosh darn it, I wanted something new.  And I wanted it to involve chalkboard paint.  Little glass jars with chalkboard lids.



I looked all over the web and at the craft stores for suitable glass jars.  I couldn't find anything I really liked at a price I was willing to pay.  There is no end-of-the-train-line stop for spice jars, but there is recycling.  Baby food jars seemed like the ticket.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I looked into buying empty jars on Etsy, but the price with shipping seemed too high.  So I bought baby food applesauce for fifty cents each and emptied the jars.  I made brownies with some of the sauce and froze the rest.

vinegar soak                                                                                         peanut butter

quick and easy
Removing the glue from the labels proved to be the toughest part of the whole process. I tried several earth-friendly methods.  I soaked the jars in white vinegar.  No dice.  I tried heating water-filled jars in the microwave.  The glue just spread around.  I tried the old tried and true peanut butter method.  Not very successful.  I finally gave in and tried mineral spirits.  Easy and effective.  Ran the jars back through the dishwasher and they were good to go.

I used spray chalkboard paint on the lids, two light coats.  Then I used a white charcoal pencil to write the labels.  It is not perfect.  The writing does not erase completely, but I don't really plan to erase them, so it is fine for my purposes.  I still have to figure out how to put them in the cabinet for best use of space, but I am very pleased with the way the jars turned out.  It was thyme for a change.  Spice spice baby.  Yo.


27 comments:

  1. Great use for baby food jars. My mom buys them and use it to store chopped peppers.

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  2. I like using Mineral Spirits for all sorts of sticky problems. I love the chalkboard paint tops! That is a great idea. I have noticed my spices change with my tastes. It would be nice to erase a label for a new spice.

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  3. Great idea. I love the chalkboard lids and I'm thinking that it would also be a great way to store some small craft supplies like buttons etc. I'll be interested to read how you store them. Do the jars stack?

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    1. Thanks, Emma. Sadly, no the jars don't stack well. They would work best in a shallow drawer where all the lids are visible.

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    2. Shallow drawer sounds like a good idea in that case. It'll be the perfect way to be able to read the lids and probably more convenient than stacking anyway!

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  4. great idea of buying the baby food jars. I have to remember that one! Never bought baby food before... {:-D

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  5. That's really cute! Especially if you have the space to hold them. It has a nice southern & home made feeling to it. Now all I need is a baby LOL. (Visiting from the blog team www.innov8iveknits.com)

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  6. If I would've known you needed baby food jars...I've got a whole bunch that I've been saving, waiting for something creative to do with them! =) Your spice jars look excellent! Thanks for sharing with us.
    ~Kim
    http://2justByou.blogspot.com

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  7. I love the baby food jars idea! Maybe I will follow this myself.

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  8. These are adorable! I keep staring at my pantry lately, thinking how to repackage things to make them more appealing (I think I am suffering from the pinterest effect too...). The chalkboard lids are a great idea!

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  9. I've been wondering when you were going to let us know why you needed all those jars of apple sauce! What a good idea. I bet your spice drawer looks so neat and tidy and organised. I really must do something similar. Mine are in such a mess. I love the sound of what you did when you moved to that outer suburb - what a good idea and I'm sure you must have had wonderful times with those other women you grouped with xx

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  10. This is a cute idea, I recently organized my spice jars too, using Martha Stewart for Staples labels (pretty cute). As for the empty jars, I can save you all of my baby food jars if you like and ship them to you in one of those flat rate USPS boxes! I love the new layout, Lynette!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! You're the only one who has mentioned the new banner. My daughter helped me with all the Photoshopping.

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  11. I love your new banner! and the spice jars!

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  12. What a cute idea! You are so organized! Oh and your blog header looks so springy!
    -Shelley

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  13. Lol ~ you are too funny! :) I love the jars, they look fantastic, I hope it was exactly what you were shooting for! I had to smile when I started reading your post, I do a huge co-op pick-up each month, in fact it's getting time to pull together another order. It's just me and my mom but it's the best and cheapest way to buy bulk organic goods. I get such a happy feeling each month when the house is restocked with great, healthy foods. Oh, and your blog looks fantastic. I know I'm behind in blog reading, so it may have been that way for the past week... ;)

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  14. I was wondering what you were up to with those baby food jars!! Love it - they are adorable! And a great way to keep spices.

    An Unrefined Vegan

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  15. I loved reading about your food buying group with the other mums :) Those spice jars are very cute! Maggie xx

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  16. Nice Photo and love the idea for the herbs and spices.Ours are all stuffed in this old chinese tea tin..but because theres curry in there it tends to spread its aroma into everything else.Thanks for sharing another lovely story.X Cat

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  17. So so cute! I almost joined a food co-op a few times when I still lived in NY but never did...love the idea of it.

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  18. What a great use for the jars and the spices look so nice and organized. I'm sure the jars will keep them fresh as well. Thanks for sharing this idea. I have a five month old baby niece. Think I'll give her mom a call and have her save me a few.

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  19. Great idea for your herbs and spices!
    Mary Alice

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  20. That's a great idea!!! and I love the new look on you blog :)

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  21. What a great idea, and great result! I love taking on an organizational project like this in a pretty way:) I hope you enjoy!

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  22. Love it! Chalkboard paint on the lids is genius. Spice, Spice, Baby, indeed!

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  23. Love this idea - they look great!

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