my little corner of the world

jackie miller : : graphic design + whatnot

Spice up your life

When we first moved into this house, I pretty much set up the entire place, kitchen included, for the most part… but Greg decided he would take care of “organizing” the spice rack. We had a pretty decent spice set up at our old place using these cool container that my sister had given us. They were round and the the lids stacked into each other to make cool little columns and they worked perfectly on the open shelving in the old kitchen. As you can see here, not so much in a tiny cabinet.

Luckily, there was a beautiful pull out spice cabinet below… which Greg decided to take over. To be completely fair, he does a lot of cooking and uses a lot of interesting spices, some I had never even heard of until I met him. (Savory is a SPICE???) Anyway, he got to work. He decided to organize the spices based on how HE used them in various recipes. Um, what? How the hell is that organized to anyone else? So after I spent 10 minutes looking for paprika during the pandemic, I decided to fix this nonsense. I first went through all of our spices and removed all the duplicates. I mean it was ridiculous how many freaking oreganos were there because we would buy it if we couldn’t find it (I think there were 4? There was so much room in the cabinet after cleaning out the duplicates.) After I did that, I realized that maybe part of the issue is that it can be hard to see the spice name in that pullout, since you’re looking from above. Then I noticed that some of the brands of spices actually prints the name on the lid, which I thought was freaking brilliant, so I knew I had a project.

Beautiful pull out spice cabinet.

I took one of each of the bottle types to determine how big the sticker should be to work on all of them, then I used speak to type to write out a list of all the spices we had, then put it into excel to alphabetize them. I then did some research on other common (or not so common) spices so I could make labels for them just in case Chef Greg decided to try something new and added them into the Excel. I laid out the original document in InDesign so I could use style sheets, string the text boxes together, and flow the text in from Excel. After I figured out the right size font and set all the type, I created pdfs to open in Illustrator so i could use my Silhouette Cameo to cut. I had a bunch of full-size mailing labels leftover from some other project, so I decided to give that a whirl.

I loved using the vinyl cutter when I worked at IKEA, but the registration thing almost never worked correctly when we were trying to cut something printed, so I thought I was in for a fight with this machine. Much to my surprise, the registration function on the smaller version worked great! So of course, I started thinking about all the other things I could do with this thing, but that’s another post. It took some trial and error to get the correct blade depth and settings, but once that was figured out, it was time to print everything out and then start the cutting!

The Cameo cut out the little label circles perfectly and I was able to print out a alphabetical cheat sheet from Excel to organize all the containers in the pull out. I can’t tell you how much this helps, not only when I am cooking, but also by saving money not buying the same spice over and over. I actually have a box in our pantry full of all the duplicates, already labelled ready to go! During the pandemic, I actually did a lot of cooking, so I created a binder of all the weird experiments I did so I could write down notes of things I tweaked or if I even liked the recipe. I figured these labels are the perfect addition to that binder for future spice purchases, so I just three hole punch them, and there are all there organized and ready to go.