DIY: Season’s Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift

Season's Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift Idea
I recently created this fun holiday printable idea for Garden Therapy and thought I would share it here on A.I.M for you to enjoy! -Rachel

Quick and easy holiday gifts are essential for surviving the holiday season. This free printable “Season’s Greetings” Herb Packet is perfect for small gifts and can easily fit into the mail with your holiday greeting cards! Use herbs harvested from your own garden to create flavorful seasoning mixes paired with a simple and delicious recipe.

CLICK HERE to for the full tutorial and free printable download over at Garden Therapy!

Season's Greetings Printable Herb Packet Gift Idea

DIY: Corked Display Box

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When you’re setting up a shop, or a booth for the first time, it seems like everyone has advice. What they don’t tell you about  is the agony, exhilaration, and frustration that is display.

I think that I could spend every waking hour working on display pieces in my store, and never be done– and yet, I love putting together something unique that shows off the artist’s work (and my cleverness.)

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I’d been using this stripped-down silverware box for display, but didn’t feel like if was as useful as it should be. I starting thinking about buying a piece of cork board to hang jewelry pieces from the back- then realized I was ignoring a free material right at my fingertips, those wine corks someone had been hoarding. (Just so you don’t worry about me being crushed in a pile of old newspaper and wine corks, I wasn’t the one saving them; and this project used up almost all of them.)

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I decided to line the back of the box in little slivers of cork. So I laid each cork out on a cutting board, and

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cut it into four pieces. (It’s not an exact science. I wanted the cork backing to be a little uneven, like old masonry.)

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After I had cut a whole bunch of corks, I got ready to glue.

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I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue to glue each cork sliver down, packing them in tightly to fill the space.

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At the edges, I cut the cork slivers in half to fill in where needed.
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Once I filled in the whole back, I let it dry overnight, before filling the bottom portion with dry rice. (Rice is a display staple, not just a food!)

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I pressed straight pins into the cork to hang jewelry. (I’ve found that the less fidgety a display is, the more comfortable people are using it. The pins are easier to pull earrings off of than clips.)

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One more display case down.

(The jewelry pieces seen here are from Christine Stoll jewelry, available at the So There store, and her shop ChristineStoll.com.)

DIY: Hand Print your Gift Wrap – Part2

IMG_5075After I had everything inked up for the hand printed wrapping paper, I looked over at the ink brayer and decided I wasn’t done printing. The 3″ surface of the brayer seemed perfect for decorating smaller surfaces and decorating gift bags.

For this design, I used the same basic shapes- lines and circles- but on a smaller scale.

Supplies I used

• 3″ Ink Brayer like this one
• Packaging Tape
• A piece of craft foam
• A hole punch
• Block or relief printing Ink- I used oil-based relief ink from Daniel Smith, in white. Speedball inks should work well too. (Make sure to read the cleanup instructions when you’re choosing an ink.)
• A smooth piece of glass or ceramic to spread ,my ink out on. (I used an old fridge shelf.)
• Plain gift bags, boxes, and everything else you can get your hands on. (Cats are off-limits.)

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Since my brayer was doing double duty for this project, I made sure I rolled out a good amount of ink out on my glass palate. Then I cleaned the brayer with soap and water and dried it thoroughly.

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Didn’t clean the brayer too well. But so what!?


Since I was going to be working with smaller pieces, I began by wrapping the brayer with packaging tape– sticky side out. This allowed me to stick small pieces of foam to the roller without fuss.IMG_4931I used two shapes to form my pattern- short strips and dots. I cut the craft foam into strips with a knife and put the pieces to the side, then

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punched small holes out with two sizes of hole punches.

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I cut and tore small pieces off the foam strip, and placed them in a kind of branchy pattern, decorating the ends with foam dots. The pieces stuck easily to the packaging tape making the whole thing easy peasy.

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To ink up the design, I ran it back and forth across the ink palate until the foam was coated.

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I tried a couple of different ways of decorating the gift bags, and settled on a basic “stripe” of design across the sides. The small pattern was a lot of fun to work with, and made a nice complement to the larger paper pattern.

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The whole printing experience was such a joy. I printed everything I could get my hands on, and still want to do more. It’s such a simple way to make a gift really special.

and it’s so darn fun!!

What are you doing? Go print some gift wrap…
and send me photos.

DIY: Hand Print your Gift Wrap – Part1

 

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For some reason I can’t quite master gift wrapping. I get the folding and the taping; but when it comes time to add bows or other decoration, everything just sort of unravels. (Literally, at times.)

So I discovered a trick- if you start with something unique and eye-catching, no one will ever notice your mistakes.

This year I decided to print a whole line of gift wrapping options– paper, bags, and boxes– for myself and for the store. It was easier (and much more satisfying) than I expected, and I ended up printing happily for a whole day.

I thought I would share the craft happiness by showing you two of the methods I used to turn basic kraft/craft stuff into something I love to look at.

First off, let’s talk great big, bold, wrapping paper…

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Supplies I used

• Rolling pin
• Contact Paper to wrap around, and protect the rolling pin
• Craft Foam sheets and Craft Foam Stickers
• Double Stick Tape
• Block or relief printing Ink- I used oil-based relief ink from Daniel Smith, in white. Speedball inks should work well too. (Make sure to read the cleanup instructions when you’re choosing an ink.)
• A smooth piece of glass or ceramic to spread ,my ink out on. (I used an old fridge shelf.)
• A Brayer like this one.
• Plain kraft butcher paper.

To build a pattern like this one…

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First I wrapped my rolling pin in contact paper to protect it from the stickers and double stick tape goo. I smoothed out as many air bubbles as I could, before trimming it to fit. (This is a very forgiving project.)

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Since I had decided I wanted to make a pattern with lines in it, I used a piece of scrap paper to draw guide lines all the way around the pin.

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I used the craft foam sticked first. This set included a whole bunch of sports ball shapes. I placed the circular balls along the guide lines I had drawn (randomly spaced)

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Next I wanted to have thin lines of craft foam to place between the circles. To give them a sticker-like back I laid out several lines of double stick tape, before…

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using my craft knife to trim them into strips.

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I then placed these strips along the guide lines, and trimmed them where they met up with the circles.

IMG_4987I didn’t cover all of my guide lines because I wanted to add a little randomness into my pattern.

IMG_4918Once I had the pin covered with the design I wanted to print, I laid out a strip of ink on my glass and smoothed it out with my brayer. (Shown here half smoothed.) Once the ink was smeared out on the glass, I rolled the pin through the ink several times to make sure all of my pattern was coated. Then I did a test print on a scrap piece of paper by slowly rolling my design from one end to the other.

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At this point I decided that I wanted to add more lines to my design. One of the nice things about this method is that you can add or subtract pieces as you go.

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All inked up.

IMG_4995Once I was happy with the design, I went crazy. I tore sheets of kraft butcher paper into large squares (approximately 24″x24″). I inked up the roller, rolled the design all the way across the paper, reinked, shifted to the edge of my design and printed again. Since I was working with a randomish pattern of lines, the paper turned out great and was lots of fun to wrap with.

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Tricks and Tips

• Pick a pattern idea that has some randomness to it. You will probably end up a little uneven, so it’s best to embrace the “handmade” look of it.
• If it looks like your roller is applying ink to your paper where you don’t have foam, consider adding another foam shape there to push your roller away from the paper. It will print, but that’s okay.
• If there’s no contact paper handy, you can cover the rolling pin with a pieces of card stock instead. Just tape it down with masking tape.

Things to Try

• Put a couple of colors of ink out on the glass and combine them to get a more tie-dye or ombre look.
• You can embed designs into the craft foam by simply drawing on it with a pencil or pen. I was too excited with the look of the solid shapes to try that with this project, but I plan to try it soon!
• This would be a great project to try with kids. Just grab a couple of sets of craft foam stickers from your local craft store (mine came from Michaels) and let them go to town!

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Next I’ll show you how I made a smaller print to use on gift bags and boxes; but in the meantime, try this out.

You. will. have. a. blast.

I mean it.

RECIPE: 3 Homemade Spice Blends

DIY: Homemade Spice Blends #foodie #gift #cook
Every year for Christmas, my boyfriend James and I like to make gifts for our friends and family. Since James is a home-chef, we decided to make our own spice blends to give to our fellow foodies this year. We chose three different blends: Herbs de Provence, Asian 5-Spice, Fajita Seasoning. We plan to pair each blend with a few of our favorite recipes written on recipe cards.

DIY: Homemade Spice Blends #foodie #gift #cook

Herbs de Provence
 
Author:
Cuisine: French
Serves: Approx. 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • ½ cup thyme
  • ¼ cup marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon lavender, ground
  • 2 teaspoons dried orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon fennel, ground
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
Instructions
  1. To make the dried orange zest, use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin of an organic orange. You want to peel the least amount of white pith as possible. Place the orange strips onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 200 degrees (you can also use a dehydrator) until completely dry (a few hours). Let cool and grind using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a jar or bowl.

RECIPE: Herbs de Provence #gift #foodie #homemade

Recipes to try:

Roasted Herbs de Provence Chicken by Taste Love & Nourish
Popcorn with Herbs de Provence and Asiago Cheese by Giada De Laurentiis
New Potatoes With Herbes De Provence, Lemon and Coarse Salt by KitchME
Creamy Roasted Red Onions by Miss in the Kitchen
Simple Salad Dressing by Pamela Braun

DIY: Homemade Spice Blends #foodie #gift #cook

Asian 5-Spice
 
Author:
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: Approx. ½ cup
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons anice powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tablespoon clove
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Himalayan sea salt
Instructions
  1. Use a mortar and pestle to grind any herbs necessary. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

RECIPE: Asian 5-Spice blend #gift #foodie #homemade

Recipes to try:

Crispy Baked Asian Chicken Wings by Just A Taste
Chinese Pork Jerky by China Sichuan Food
Vegetable Lo Mein by One Sweet Appetite
Five-Spice Chicken Noodle Soup by William Sonoma
5-Spice Asian Pork Tacos by Country Cleaver

DIY: Homemade Spice Blends #foodie #gift #cook

Fajita Seasoning
 
Author:
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: Approx. 1 cup
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

RECIPE: Fajita Seasoning #gift #foodie #homemade

Recipes to try:

Vegetarian Black Bean Fajitas by Katie’s Cucina
Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas by Food Family & Finds
Chicken Fajita Quesadillas by Jo Cooks
Chicken Fajita Queso Dip by Inside BruCrew Life
Steak Fajita Rice Bowls by Oh Sweet Basil

I packaged up our spice blends in 4 oz. glass jars and decorated them with custom labels courtesy of Evermine. I can’t wait to give these as gifts!

DIY: Herb and Spice Gift Wrap

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my lettering, and a few poor souls have even asked if I teach a class (HA!). I tell everyone the same thing– my lettering has improved over the past year because I’ve been practicing. I know, that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true! I’ve been making signs and chalkboards for the store, lettering in my prints, and wearing through Prismacolors like nobody’s business.

The key, for me, if to cut myself some slack while I’m practicing. Doodling letters is swell, and I take any opportunity to write words in weird ways.

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This wrapping paper is a perfect example. I wanted to come up with a simple way to wrap a couple of small gifts, and went to the (very soggy) garden for inspiration. The remaining herbs were so pungent and gorgeous that I decided to use them as accents on a basic brown paper wrapping.

The whole thing’s pretty simple, and I’m sure you could come up with something even more special. The point is, I was able to mess around with letters and words without feeling too self-conscious. It’s just wrapping paper, and the herbs take center stage.

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For the second gift, I made a tall bag with a few materials, and I thought I’d share my process.

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Supplies I Used

• Plain brown kraft paper – you could also repurpose a grocery bag.
• Fresh herbs from the garden
• White Prismacolor Pencil
• Flour & water to form a paste. You can also use glue, of course!
• Scissors
• Pencil
• A can of spray paint as a base form

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First I traced the base of the can to form the bottom of my bag…

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and cut out the circle, about 1/4 inch inside my line.

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I then measured the can and cut out a piece of paper for the main part of the bag, leaving myself about 2 inches of extra height to wrap along the bottom and enough width to cover the whole can with a little overlap.

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I made a fold at that 2 inch mark, and cut a little fringe into that end (the bottom.) You’ll see why in a second.

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I used my trusty white pencil to doodle words all over the paper.

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I’ve started using a flour paste for a lot of paper projects, lately. Here I used about equal parts water and flour, mixed well, and applied with a cheap paintbrush.

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I wrapped the paper around my spray paint can and painted both edges with my paste…

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then began folding the fringe pieces down. Once those were down I painted them, and the round bottom piece with paste…

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applied like so, and left to dry.

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After it was completely dry (a few hours later) I trimmed the top of the bag, and filled it with my gift, and a little tissue paper.

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Simple directions for a unique bag- and a great way to work on those lettering skills.

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Are you inspired by herbs, like I am? Don’t forget to share you spice & herb work with us for our November DIY Challenge! We’d love to see what you think up.

(You know, keep life spicy.)

BIZ: Feedback makes things better.

You don't have to work in a vacuum. (It's too cramped in there, and too dusty.)

You don’t have to work in a vacuum. (It’s too cramped in there, and too dusty.)

In advance of their Fall Conference, Schoolhouse Craft asked me to write a little post with some business advice, and I decided to take the time to write about one of the things I’ve learned from running the store.

One of the best things about my job is that I have daily chances to interact with customers and creative types. I don’t even have to try!  They just walk through my door, and react to my work. I didn’t do a great job with this before I opened the shop (although I always encouraged friends to let me critique their work.) It takes a lot of courage to ask the tricky questions about your work and your business.

The benefits of that back-and-forth are so valuable, and will encourage you to push your work in new directions, to perfect your business, and to be a well-rounded maker. Since not everyone has the benefit of sitting in a gift store, so I thought I would share some ideas for bringing a little creative input your way.

 

The Kind Of Things You Might Ask About

You probably already have a good base of people to ask about these things. It’s worthwhile to keep adding to you collection, but in the meantime be sure to get feedback as often as you can.

Feedback On Your Products As A Whole.

This is the hardest thing to ask for, and the hardest advice to take, but it’s incredibly important for the development of your work and business. Encourage your audience to be candid– and make sure to take a deep breath before reading anything that might be negative.

Your Packaging And Promotional Materials.

Ask people to proofread for you, and offer edits. Make sure to run it by people who have no idea what you’re working on– it should make sense after they see everything.

Shipping And Bagging Procedures.

Send a package to a friend, and see if everything makes it there alright. Ask people what they are looking for when they buy a similar product- do they want a cute bag and tissue? A gift box? A Thank You card?

Your Prices

Ask if they would pay that for a similar product. This is also a good opportunity to ask what things you can add or change to give more perceived value.

Suggestions Of Materials, Tools, And Techniques.

This is a great thing to run by people who work with similar processes, but you might even get good results from out-of-the-box solutions from people who have a completely different knowledge base. Some people can be close-mouthed about their technique- but I think that sharing information is good for everyone involved.

Advertising and Networking Opportunities

Is there a chance to reach your niche audience that you haven’t considered?

Sales Opportunities

You can try all day an never round-up all the craft shows, shops, events, and other great places to sell you goods. Other artists can give you ideas of what has worked for them, and non-artist friends have surely seen great opportunities too.

Other Business Practicalities

like software or person for booking and accounting, an excellent Lawyer (just in case), Liabilities you might not have thought of, etc.

 

Other Ways to Get Feedback

There are ways other than one-on-one question pestering to get your questions answered.

Attend Conventions And Meetups For Creative Businesses.

(Like Schoolhouse Craft.) Be sure to schmooze and look for people who have similar interests- and get contact information for everyone.

Make a Mailing List

Put together an email list of people who are willing, and who you can count on to give you honest feedback. When you have a new design, run it by your list, and see what they have to say.

Join or Start A Facebook Group for Creative Feedback

You can keep it private, if you don’t want just anyone to see what you’ve got going on.

Offer To Look At The Work Of Other People

Giving advice is a great chance to work on your own experience, and it you help people, they are more likely to help you with feedback down the road.

Befriend People with Different Backgrounds and Experience

People with lots of opinions and ideas. People like your friendly local shop owner.  You know the one….

 

 

RECIPE: Popcorn Seasoning Kit

RECIPE: Popcorn Seasoning Kit #gift #snack
Every fall, my boyfriend James and I love to curl up on the couch and have a movie marathon. We usually watch movie franchises like Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean or Twilight. With each movie night we like to stock up on our favorite snacks and popcorn, of course, is a movie watching staple. I usually whip up some sort of seasoning to have on the popcorn, but this year I decided to make six different seasoning flavors just for our movie-date nights.

This would make a great gift to any popcorn-lover. Just mix up the seasonings (most of which you’ll find you already have on hand), package them in small shaker bottles, and add a bag of popcorn kernels and you’re done!

RECIPE: Popcorn Seasoning Kit #gift #snack

Seasoned Popcorn

For all of these seasoning recipes, you need simply to combine the ingredients and packaged in small shaker bottles. To prepare, make a batch of plain popcorn (either with a popper or stovetop). Drizzle with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with desired seasoning.

Cheesy Garlic

• 5 tablespoons cheddar cheese powder
• 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Italian Herb

• 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese powder
• 2 tablespoons sea salt
• 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon dried basil

Smoky Curry

• 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• 2 tablespoons salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
• 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

RECIPE: Popcorn Seasoning Kit #gift #snack

Mexican Chocolate

• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 4 teaspoons powdered sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Spicy Citrus

• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 2 teaspoons orange zest
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Cinnamon Sugar

• 2 tablespoons white sugar
• 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

RECIPE: Popcorn Seasoning Kit #gift #snack

Custom labels and tags courtesy of Evermine.com

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

While on the lookout for new snack ideas, I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart. I liked the idea of using the crunchy ramen noodles (reminded me of all the ramen I ate as a kid). Baked in the oven with nuts, corn flakes and sesame sticks, this snack mix turned out addicting and delicious. Next time I make it, I want to spice it up with wasabi peas.

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Ingredients
  • 2 packages ramen, broken into small pieces (discard seasoning packets)
  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sesame sticks (or wasabi peas)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss ramen, peanuts, cashews, and cornflakes with oil until coated. Spread mixture in a thin even layer.
  2. Combine curry powder, cayenne pepper and salt; sprinkle over ramen mixture.
  3. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Stir in sesame sticks and let cool completely before serving. Makes 6 cups.

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

I packaged my snack mix in hand-painted paper plate baskets using this tutorial by Amy Christie. I also added a custom circle tag courtesy of Evermine.com.