November 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
I cook a lot of Pakistani cuisine, ergo, I have a fair amount of loose, exotic spices in plastic packages that I buy at the local South Asian stores. Till date, I have stores them tightly in their plastic bags and or the small Rajtan spice jars from Ikea. I have always wanted to transfer and organize all my lovely, scented spices into beautifully labeled jars, and FINALLY, last week, I did just that!
The first step in my organizational endeavor was to label all the twenty jars. I wanted something a bit more creative than the usual white label maker. Armed with my trusty laptop, I scoured the net for some ideas and found two that were very inspiring:
1- DIY Spice Jar Labels from DIYdiva
2- DIY Authentic Vintage Labels from EATdrinkCHIC
I loved the humor and detail of DIYdiva’s set, but since my spice jars were so small, I decided to use her layout for the larger jars (pasta, rice and lentils) some weeks in the future. For this particular task, EATdrinkCHIC’s beautiful, apothecary simplicity would be the blueprint for my small jars.
When I say blueprint, I mean exactly that. I couldn’t really use her template because it did not contain all the spices I wanted (fenugreek, garam masala, asafoetida, etc.). Additionally, I wanted “instant” labels, using the tools I had in-house. I loved bottom-up approach to EATdrinkCHIC’s tutorial, so, armed with my mod-podge, old coffee granules, Microsoft Word and printer, I set to work.
(You can see what EATdrinkCHIC did here. As I said, I followed the spirit, if not the letter of her guide.)
I created my small, 2 inch x 1 inch labels in MS Word using the “tables” feature. I downloaded the fonts I wanted from smashing apps here and used “My Underworld” for the English name and “Quid Pro Quo” for the Urdu name (written in Roman script).
I printed them on regular white printer paper and cut them up with my trusty old scissors. I do not have the steadiest of hands, but my plan was that the slightly uneven edges would add to the charm of the labels. It worked (or so I tell myself).
I boiled water and two days worth of my used coffee granules in water (enough to just cover the 10 tablespoons of coffee). Since I already had used granules, I thought it would be worth seeing how they stained the labels. I loved the effect! But there was trial and error. I had to make sure that the water was boiling hot and the labels steeped for a good 30 minutes (note: the water was strained into a wide, shallow bowl, and only a few coffee granules were added). Since the granules were already diluted, the longer they were in the left them the longer you leave them the darker the color. Or you could use fresh powder.
Then I tried to blow-dry the labels to get the stained-water effect. Unfortunately, they were (1) too many for my impatient soul to individually dry and (2) the air was too strong while I held each one, so they ended up flying everywhere! I decided to just let them dry in the sunlight. I forgoed the beautiful dried water spots in favor of free time. And, luckily for me, I still ended up with a dried, weathered look to them.
And finally, when all the labels were dry and all the jars filled with the spices, I used my left over semi glossy mod-podge to stick and seal the labels onto the jars. All in all, including taking care of a 15 month old and enforced wait-time, it took a total of 5 hours. Not bad eh?
(P.S. please pardon the photography. The kitchen lighting is not the best place, but unfortunately I could not do this project anywhere else.)
November 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have discovered a new love of illustrated children’s books. Short stories, encased in hard cover and liberally drawn. Full of age-old wisdom, sweet and gentle humor, beautiful pictures and poetically simple sentences. Online formats will not do them justice; these books beg to be held and gazed at slowly and reverently, read aloud softly and intimately to yourself, your child or to your entire family.
I discovered these “short tales” as part of my rite of passage – I was at the library with my son was looking for books to read to him at night, and I stumbled upon the children’s fairy tales section. A whole new world opened and I was soon choosing books for myself instead! I still read them at night, but I will be honest when I say that only some of them appealed to him. It didn’t matter – I still read it aloud to my husband and enjoyed them on my own. I’ve decided to share this series of “short tales” with you in the hopes that these books will not be forgotten. Here goes!
The idea for the series came to me with my third short tale: “The Girl Who Loved the Wind.” This out-of-print book by Jane Yolan is gorgeously illustrated and allegorically composed. It is about a girl with an overprotective father. He wants her to see and feel only happiness and good things, so he builds her an elaborate cocoon at the edge of the sea, constantly surrounded by servants who are ordered to look happy in young girl’s presence. This superficial haven is all she knows. But then, life slips in: a strong and vivacious wind blows into her home and into her mind. He sweeps in and out of her life on a whim, simultaneously taunting and tantalizing her about the world outside. And, because this is a fairy tale, she falls in love with him and breaks free.
Accompanying this fable are a set of illustrations that belong in an Ottoman palace. Ed Young, the illustrator, has recreated Persian and Moghul miniatures, imbuing them with an Arabian Nights quality. They are detailed, colorful and authentic. You can gave at the pictures forever and still be humbled at their magical qualities.
Sadly, this book is out-of-print, so it is very difficult for me to add it to my bookshelf. But I am thankful that my local library has a copy and knows how much I love it. Go and find this book. Pick it off the bookshelf and look at it. It will be a treasure.