Friday Pop Quiz

Our pantry. So what’s the main thing wrong with this picture? Hint–we’re in California. Leave a comment. We’ll provide an answer tomorrow.

Wish we could offer a prize, like an all expenses paid trip to Vernon, CA. But, alas, we have a tight budget here at Root Simple. You’ll get bragging rights.

Leave a comment


  1. Funny i was wondering about that when i read a page about your place and saw all the great photos. You are just down the fwy a bit from me and i was wondering about what would happen in an earthquake.

  2. Earthquake could be a problem, but what about keeping your supplies out of direct sunlight? I thought darkness was better.

  3. I agree with all the others- definitely not earthquake friendly. You’d better get some rails up front to keep them from falling off. Wouldn’t that be a mess.

  4. Yeah, earthquake is the main thing. Second thing would be that a lot of stuff commonly stored in a pantry can be damaged by light. Pantries are usually dark places. Maybe you could look for dark jars, or hang a curtain.

  5. Yeah, I loved your recent home tour, but had the same thought! I live in Northern California. Grew up here. ‘Nuff said. As a prior commenter said, BIG MESS.

  6. you can get thin black bungee cord by the foot at REI which can be attached at the ends of the pantry shelves with a nail. That could help keep jars in place as long as it isn’t a huge quake

  7. Being from Minnesota I had not thought of earthquake hazards. What I got from the picture was that light was shining directly on your food stuffs that would make them not only warm, but go bad quickly. Grains and herbs especially. But now that I see all the earthquake stuff my comment seems applicable, but maybe not the biggest threat.

  8. No EARTHQUAKE restraints! You’re very close to several major faults that could produce big earthquakes.

  9. Earthquakes is the obvious answer and the right one, but I was going to say most homes in California dont even have pantries to begin with. I know when I do some work on my house soon I’ll hopefully make space for a walk in pantry. Its much needed!

  10. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it until you mentioned California. My mind immediately snapped to the quake in th early 70s, when I was a little girl in the San Fernando Valley. What a mess our kitchen was with all that food and glass on the floor!

  11. I’m guessing earthquake-proofing is the correct answer, but you also have all the rings on your canned food. I’ve read you are supposed to store them sans-rings.

  12. Maybe one of those long springs like they have on old screen doors stretched across each shelf would do. Plus, it would make a nifty sound every time you pluck out a jar.

  13. You could always do like my mom who lives in West Hollywood–she uses that sticky putty stuff to hold down everything in her apartment. I mean, EVERYthing.

  14. Funny you mention it – I had the same thought when I saw that in the “photo tour”. What’s the plan? I suppose you could stretch a string across each ledge to kind of seatbelt the jars in place – wouldn’t help in a real big one, but would probably help in a 5 and under.

  15. I noticed three things of concern: 1. nothing to protect the jars in case of an earthquake; 2. it’s very bright there (should have jars in dark, and cool, dry location; and 3. seems to be in plain view where any grasshopper could see and covet your food in the event of a TEOTWAWKI incident. As a side note, if you have a good seal on your jars, you don’t need the ring on the jar anymore.

  16. Seconding everybody else about earthquakes and sunlight. A big fat piece of velcro will help for little shakes, might not help for a big one (but if it’s that big, we’re all in trouble!).

  17. I also imagine it’d be super easy to turn this into a closed pantry – attach boards that hinge at the top, to make a flap top of closing instead of a typical side opening pantry. Secure with eyelet/hook, or any other kind of fastener. Could be a fun design if each piece were at different lengths.

  18. i agree with everyone, o course, earthquake proofing and sunlight. Also, like mjlai said, making cabinet doors shouldn’t be too hard. Although, i think i’d make the cabinets hinge on the bottom edge. There are a few cabinets in my house the open this way, with chains to hold them when they’re open. It makes the shelf deeper when you are sifting through jars.

  19. My first thought was that it was too light. My second was that those are glass jars on a narrow shelf in an earthquake prone area ;). Reading through some of the comments, though, looks like a lot of people had the same thoughts :).

  20. Like many others say: earthquake! 🙂 Many ways of protecting your investment: bungee cord, wood bar, or even create slim cabinets.

  21. That looks a lot like the hallway we had coming off the kitchen of our 1940’s Monrovia home. I’ll further guess that the brightness is for the benefit of the camera.

    So – shake, rattle and kr-kr-krash. Shelf rails? Maybe in the form of bungies for each shelf. Or locking tie down clamps.

  22. Funny you should post this. I just finish my hutch for the kitchen and loaded it with all my dishes, which are porcelain or glass, and thought, man if we finally have that earthquake I am going to be screwed.

    But there’s the other side of the equation, that has completely prepared for one (we now have twenty-four gallons of emergency water set aside), which to my way of thinking prevents the occurrence of an earthquake.

    I could alway eat food out of the pot though; you are going to be more sorry than I (I think) if you lose all your canned goods.

    So I’ll be watching this space to see how you deal with the fix.

  23. Well, I live in North Carolina, so an earthquake certainly did not occur to me until reading all the comments above. My first thought had to do with what looks like your jar of pickled okra. My brain said “I thought only us Southerners like (or grew) okra. Them Californian’s ain’t so bad after all!”

    We have a ridiculous amount of okra in our garden this year. My wife (a native Coloradan, by the way) has developed a bit of an obsession with it, and I’m worried that we won’t be finished with last year’s dehydrated and pickled okra before we’re inundated with this year’s crop.

    I’ve been meaning to send a note for awhile: we’ve really been enjoying our copy of “Making It.” It lives on our coffee table and we browse it regularly. It’s looking like rain this morning, so I’ll be trying my first batch of soap sometime today!

    Also, thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I feel like I know you a bit, and if you’re ever passing through NC (Southeastern book tour?) please send a note, we’d love to meet you and show off our little (sub)urban homestead.


  24. Well, I thought California, sunlight. Where’s the curtain to keep the sun from degrading or discoloring your food? Obviously, earthquakes are an issue where you live, as everyone but me seems to have realized.

  25. Maybe you should put a huge net covering the shelving. Then it will all just bounce back when an earthquake hits.

    (Also, I’m about to move to CA next week, and am paranoid that the The Big One will hit while I’m there).

  26. Once when moving into a new apartment, a friend who happened to be *a CalTech student* started piling my canned goods in an upper cupboard. I stared in horror and befuddlement for some time before moving them closer to the floor. The last thing I need during an earthquake is to get beaned by a can of beans.

  27. Ok not really related per se, since CA probably doesn’t get too many tornadoes, but in places that get tornadoes, I’d worry about that much glass being in the main part of the house.

    My cousin was side-swiped by a tornado when I was a young teen. They rode it out in the tub with a mattress over them, once it passed, their apartment was mostly intact (structurally), but the windows exploded. There were small and medium branches all throughout their apartment, and lots of broken glass because of that, not only from the windows, but from drinking glasses, pictures, a small glass table, ect… because of the branches flying around in their apartment like a pinball game.

    It took 6 of us a few hours to get all the broken glass, branches, dirt, trash blown in, ect out of their apartment. They considered themselves very lucky they were just sideswiped!

    So put all that glass out of the way of projectiles if you live in tornado prone areas!

  28. A simple piece of lath or furring strip mounted horizontally in front of the shelves should hold everything on in small seizmic events, similar to the retaining bar on the shelves in your refrigerator door. It will also prevent accidents from knocking stuff off while pulling a jar out, or a broom handle hitting it, or a climbing cat, or kids playing nerf football in the house, yatta yatta. Brilliant use of space, though… would hanging cloth prevent sunlight degradation and prevent advertising the storage for locusts? (grasshoppers is too kind a word…)

  29. I’ve envied this pantry since the day I saw it. Do you have a simple tutorial somewhere on how to build it? I know it’s probably easy, but I’m just a beginning handy woman and wouldn’t know where to start.

  30. Hi Jana,

    It’s pretty simple. The shelves are 1 x 6 pine lumber that Kelly sanded, pre-treated (pine needs a pre-treatment before being stained–ask at your local hardware store) and stained. Find the studs in your wall and attach shelf hardware to those studs. Then attach the shelves. Let me know if you have any more questions.

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