Lake Life Pantry Organization

By Tara Rosengren

My husband would tell you that this was unnecessary but, gosh, it just feels so much better to open the pantry door and know exactly where things are at. It is also so much easier when I tell him to grab a container of baby food; he doesn’t have to ask “Where is that at?” You know, the typical response from a husband, right!

As you can see by the “before” photo, I used every inch of space in the pantry. Was it a good use of space? Probably not! I lost a whole shelf to our overflow of water bottles. I know everyone has a stash of them, and probably only uses about two. But I couldn’t part with them. Some unknown attachment to a water bottle, who would have thought that!

I started by emptying the entire contents of the pantry onto what little counter space I had. Tyler came home from work and took one look at the kitchen and just shook his head! Oops!

Last year, I binge watched The Home Edit on Netflix, and ever since then, you will find clear containers and storage bins all over our home. So, after measuring exactly how much space I had on each shelf, I ordered some more to make a home for our pantry items. Things came out of boxes into neatly stacked bins and containers. I organized things by type of item - pasta, noodles, and sauces; cooking; candy bars; canned items; baby items; and snacks.

I found a better use of space for those canned items. A can rack organizer was the way to go. I could put items in slots by the type of soup or canned item it was, and it was a better use of vertical space on the shelf. I also found a water bottle rack storage organizer that compiled the numerous water bottles and thermoses into a vertical space instead of taking up a whole shelf. Game changer!

Another game changer was using items that may not necessarily be meant for a pantry to create more space. On the floor, I added a small tv/monitor riser to add a “shelf.” This allowed me to move the water bottles down and created a space for those reusable grocery bags that usually float around the kitchen counter.

Instead of storing all of my refill items in their original bags, I used half gallon Ball jars and poured all of the contents of the bags into each of them. This allowed me to have more on hand of those items as well as, let’s be honest, a cute way to store them. I organized the pantry from items most used placed at eye level, to those items on back stock put on the top shelf out of the way.

I used to hate opening the door to the pantry, but now I love looking in there. I would suggest looking for items you can multipurpose; notice the stack of microwave popcorn in the can organizer-not what I first hand in mind, but it works great!

A few more suggestions I would include:

Find a labeling system that works for you

Find a grouping/organization system that works for you

You may have to try different orientations of bins/containers for the best fit and use of space

Now the next question is, how long will it stay looking like this!

By Susan Travis

You guys! This is so embarrassing. I thought this was going to be a great idea for a story. Show people real life things to organize or clean and give them tips of what we found out on our little journey and how great it felt at the end. This all held true, but I forgot the first part, I would have to show you the before photo!

I think I need to give you a little background. You know, to save myself a little dignity and give you a few excuses of how something like this could ever happen. So...we built our house nearly eight years ago. We built everything exactly how we wanted it, with no regrets. We had an amazing builder build everything to a T of how we had dreamed it for years. But, something went wrong. This closet. I think there was a definite plan of why we built only two shelves in it, but looking at the closet, I had no clue what that was.

Until, I saw it. Hidden in the back were two leaves for a dining room table. These leaves are not even for the table that is in the house! But there lies the reason why we only had two shelves built in this closet. We needed room for table leaves.

Besides the leaves, there were treasures found in here, oh and junk too! Here is a small list of the best finds, or worst?

Looks to me, every year since we moved into the house, I bought the Christmas napkins and paper plates that were on sale right after the holidays. About seven sets were tucked away in here. Oh, see the folded quilt looking thing in the top left, that is my treeskirt—a recent addition from last month. It was forgotten when putting the Christmas stuff away so, why not, put it in the dining room closet!?! You've got a couple normal things that you would think belong in a dining room closet, like the extra silverware chest and some crystal bowls. There are also tablecloths, a couple nice cloth ones and then plastic picnic ones we use down at the fire pit. Can't wait to get out and enjoy that again soon! Looks like we threw some vacuum bags in there and a suitcase. A SUITCASE? Oh, it get's better. I found a sleeping bag in here. I think someone came home from camp and threw the suitcase and bag in the dining room closet! WHAT!?!?

As I continued to dig this closet out, I found more and more treasures. Like, my mother-in-law's 100-cup coffee maker! Yes that was in there right behind the suitcase and basket. Sorry Co, your son returned it instantly after we found it! Another amazing find, about four Winter Games ago, I won a prize at the chili cookoff. It was a cooler with a notepad, plastic cup, AND a little portable speaker. It was little, and it looked like it needed to plug in from the source of the music. But when I switched it on, a light was blinking and I thought, no way. So I got my phone out. You bet your bottom dollar, it sure was a bluetooth wireless speaker. It was awesome. I put on my favorite music and started jamming. Brad, that is my husband, looks at me and says, "we have a high-dollar sound system built into this house, but instead you turn on a two-inch cube?" I look at him with a disgusted look, I am sure, and said, "you bet," and I put it right on the closet shelf above where he was working. He does love me, I promise. I also found a CD player. Like a boombox little stereo that took CDs.

Finally, I got the closet cleared out. And Brad installed three additional shelves. We put everything back in that we were going to keep in this closet. Yes, the suitcase went to it's home along with the sleeping bag. You can see my tree skirt, which is going to have to stay until next year, and all those sale plates and napkins that were bought on sale and then forgotten about. They now have a spot that I can easily find and remember them. The crystal that was hidden has it's spot. And the coolers and bags took a whole row. But then we discovered we had SO much room to spare.

You know where this is going to go. Every kitchen cupboard got cleaned out and organized. We put a few things over in this closet that we don't use as much and got it pretty filled up and now there's extra space in the kitchen cabinets. What turned into an hour project, even with adding the shelves turned into about a four hour project, but our cabinets are all looking good now. I PROMISE you, none of our cabinets looked like the dining room closet!

In the end, I am so happy with how it turned out. I think it is a great idea to reorganize a closet, get rid of some of the old stuff and refresh your memory of what you do have. But beware, it will make you feel so good that you will move onto the next closet right then and there! Happy Spring cleaning!

By Max Rohlfsen

I’m the kind of guy that uses my grill all year long. If it’s 100 degrees out or a blizzard, it’s how I prefer to cook. So after a long winter of grilling a few times a week, I figured it would be a good idea to clean it up a bit in preparation for another great Spring/Summer of use.

Obviously, I’m a little embarrassed it got to this point, but when it’s freezing cold out, I want to cook my food and get inside. It also doesn’t help that it gets dark so early in the winter and time is limited.

I started by cleaning the exterior of the grill with an Oven and Grill cleaner for removing grease and grime. Works like a charm.

Then I made my way to the inner workings of my grill. Pellet grills require a bit more maintenance than gas or charcoal grills but is absolutely worth it in my opinion. The two main things would be the boiler cover and the fire pot. The pot is where the pellets ignite, and after a few uses, it fills with ash and dust. It is recommended to do this every four or five grilling sessions, but I let it go a little longer than I should have—maybe eight (or way more) sessions as you can see from the photo.

After about 20 minutes of scraping grime and gunk off of the boiler cover, I got my shop vac out, took care of the fire pot and pit and got it all put back together. Well worth the time and now it is ready to go for the approaching warmer months!