Fermenting, Uncategorized

Kombucha for Chickens



Some of you will think I’m crazy.  But I’ve tested my theory several times, and each time I’ve found it to be true.  When I give my chickens a little kombucha several times a week, their eggs are almost completely clean. When the kombucha is withheld for several days, the eggs get poopy.

First off, some folks might not know what kombucha is.  Kombucha is fermented tea.  It’s fermented with some particular strains of bacteria.  You can make kombucha at home using raw, unflavored kombucha purchased in a health food store or obtained from someone who makes her own kombucha.  If you are interested in doing that, here’s the link I used to start my kombucha and SCOBY.  (The SCOBY is what grows in the kombucha.  The kombucha is the fermented tea that you drink.)  Kombucha is probiotic, very good for your gut.  And presumably, for a chicken’s gut.  Did you know they actually make probiotics for chickens? Yeah, that’s a thing. Some people buy probiotics for their chickens.  Some people feed them yogurt regularly.  I feed mine a little kombucha several times a week. And they love it.

I make my kombucha with green or white tea, mostly.  I have not ever given my chickens any kombucha made with black tea, because I want to keep the caffeine levels as low as possible.  Kombucha generally contains about a third of the caffeine in the tea it’s made from. Green or white tea contains less caffeine than black tea, thus the kombucha made from green or white tea contains less caffeine too.

Now, I’ve done a little research, and caffeine is apparently toxic to chickens (as it is to dogs). You’re not supposed to give them chocolate, tea bags, or coffee beans (I don’t know why anybody would, but nevertheless, you shouldn’t.)  However, many people do allow their chickens access to freshly brewed coffee grounds dumped in the compost pile, and these folks report no ill effects from the chickens eating the coffee grounds.  From what I understand from my reading, minute amounts of caffeine in things like spent coffee grounds doesn’t seem to hurt them.  I think small amounts of kombucha is probably the same. (You’re also not supposed to let chickens eat apple seeds, but mine ate windfall apples in the orchard all last fall. And when they eat an apple, they don’t leave anything but the stem.) So I think we can use an ounce of common sense here along with the kombucha.

I don’t give my four chickens a lot of kombucha at any one time, and I give it to them mixed with some scratch grains.  I put the scratch, about 1/3 cup or so, in an old pan, and pour on about a tablespoon of kombucha, or enough to just moisten the scratch.  I swirl and toss that around to coat all the scratch in the kombucha, and I let it sit for a minute to absorb the kombucha while I’m getting out their laying pellets.  I feed those separately.  They get the scratch/kombucha supplement about every other day.



How was it that I began giving kombucha to my chickens in the first place?  In the summer of 2015, I was trying fermented feed for the chickens, for the probiotic effect, and I was using kombucha as a starter, mixing it in with their pellets and scratch and letting it ferment for 3 or 4 days before I gave it to them.  But with colder fall temps, fermenting the feed in the unheated pumphouse wasn’t working.  And it was another task when I really didn’t need another task. Then I thought, why bother with all that?  I have lots of kombucha, and it is easy to make more if I need it.  I could just keep a jar of it with their feed to mix with their scratch.

I did a little reading, noticing that many people reported giving their excess kombucha SCOBYs to their chickens, and I’ve done that too.  The chickens eat them like worms. No one reported any problems, and the SCOBYs retain quite a bit of kombucha in their layers. So I figured, why not?

I started noticing, a week or so after I began the kombucha regimen, that the eggs were clean.  Not just cleaner, but clean.  Rarely did I even get a little streak or smear of poop on an egg.  The majority of my eggs were pristine, like they’d been washed.  The change was noticeable, because they were pretty poopy before.  So I had nice, clean eggs all fall and into the winter.

In late winter, I came down with a bad case of influenza.  The old-fashioned stuff.  I was sick, really sick, for over a month.  During that time, Dennis took over feeding the chickens, and I hadn’t told him about the kombucha.  Didn’t even think about it until I was well enough to scramble myself an egg.  And then I noticed that the eggs were poopy again.

I told Dennis about the kombucha/scratch combo, and he started doing it.  Within a couple of days, the eggs were clean again.  No fooling.

Since then, we’ve had chicken minders for a week or so, at least three times, while we were gone on vacation.  I never tell them about the kombucha or ask them to do it because I don’t want the chickens getting too much kombucha. You never know how well people are actually listening when you tell them how to do something. Each time when we’ve returned, the eggs are poopy.  And each time, after a few days back on the booch, the eggs are clean again when I gather them.

The last time we left, the neighbor boy who was minding the chickens put a half-pan of dry scratch in the run for the hens so they had 24/7 access to it, something I never do, but it proved one thing to me.  It’s definitely the kombucha, not the scratch, that’s keeping those eggs clean.  I’d had a slight, niggling doubt about that, but this time was the clincher. I had poopy eggs for two days after we got back, until those chickens got some kombucha back in their systems.

In the first picture below, you can see that the eggs are very clean.  I don’t wash my eggs until I use them, if I need to wash them.  (If you have backyard chickens, you know why, but for those who don’t:  the reason you don’t wash eggs until you want to use them is that when the chicken lays the egg, it comes out with a protective coating that seals the shell and prolongs the life of the egg inside.  Store-bought eggs are washed, and they have shorter shelf lives than unwashed backyard eggs.) In the second photo, I’ve tried to take a close-up of the only egg in this carton (gathered over about a week’s time) that has any sign of poop on it.  It’s just a faint dark smear (not the reddish speckles–that is just pigment in the shell), and might not even be poop.  It could just be a smear of dirt from a chicken foot.  This is typical for my eggs when the chickens are getting kombucha at least three times a week.





Kombucha for chickens makes cleaner eggs.  I don’t know why.  I could speculate, but I don’t know enough about the anatomy or digestive system of a chicken.  I just know it works.



Main dishes, Recipes, Side dishes, Uncategorized

Mediterranean Farro Salad



Farro, also known as emmer wheat, is an ancient grain.  I bought some organic farro a while back, and have been developing the recipe for this salad through trial but not error—all iterations were delicious. Farro is high in fiber, protein, some minerals, and B vitamins. While it is lower in gluten than other types of wheat, it does still contain some gluten. (If you want to try a gluten-free version, I think quinoa would work nicely with the salad ingredients. Brown rice would probably also be delicious.)  Farro is nutty, with a firm, slightly chewy texture. For more about farro’s nutritional value, here’s a link:  https://draxe.com/farro.

I really like this salad for several reasons.  It’s one of those dishes that’s really versatile and can be served cold or at room temperature, so it’s perfect for potlucks and outdoor summer  suppers. The recipe below has Greek influences, but I’ve also made it with Italian flavors, and it’s equally delicious that way.  I also like the fact that it is can be a cold, main vegetarian dish or a side dish.  This variation is meatless, but it would be easy to add some cold roasted chicken or lamb, or even a bit of grilled flank steak to increase the protein (in which case you’d want to chill it and keep it cold until serving).  Add some baby spinach for more veggie content.  Or how about some grilled or roasted marinated eggplant?  Fresh zucchini cubes or slices?  Grilled zucchini planks, ribboned? So many possibilities!

And now, to the recipe/s!

Mediterranean Farro Salad

3-4 cups cooked farro (approximately)

1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

1 red, yellow, or orange pepper, diced (or a combination of all three colors is pretty)

¼ cup red onion, diced

½ cup sliced Kalamata olives

½ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (or fresh grape tomatoes, halved, or diced Romas)

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)

1/3 cup Greek salad dressing (see link below)

First, cook the farro.  What follows are the package directions for the farro I bought.  There are different varieties of farro, so be sure to follow the directions on your package if they are different than these.

1 cup farro grains (makes 3-4 cups of cooked farro)

3 cups lightly salted water (1/2 teaspoon sea salt is what I used)

Bring water to a boil, add the farro, bring back to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and partially cover with a lid.  Cook farro, stirring frequently, for approximately 30 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.  (At my altitude, it takes 40 minutes.) Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Stir occasionally while cooling.  While the farro is cooling, prepare salad dressing and salad vegetables.

I used this simple recipe for Greek salad dressing, and I really liked it:  http://www.simplyscratch.com/2010/11/my-big-fat-greek-dressing.html. You’ll probably have all the ingredients you need already in your pantry.  A garlic clove, dried oregano, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil.  Delicious!

Combine the cooled farro (it doesn’t have to be completely cool, just cool enough to avoid wilting or cooking the veggies), vegetables, feta, herbs, and salad dressing.  Mix thoroughly, cover, and cool completely in fridge.

Before serving, stir salad up from bottom to redistribute any dressing that might have drained to the bottom of the bowl and taste.  If you want, you can add more salad dressing, but you don’t want your salad to be oily, so don’t go overboard.

For an Italian variation:

*Omit cucumber.  Add a cup of roasted or grilled eggplant cubes.  (This can be marinated in Italian salad dressing after cooking for more flavor.)

*Omit feta cheese.  Substitute cubed fresh mozzarella.

*Omit mint.  Add a bit of fresh snipped basil instead.

*Omit Greek salad dressing.  Use Italian salad dressing instead.  My Italian dressing is essentially the same as the Greek dressing, except for acid I use red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, and I use dried basil along with the oregano, and pinch of dried thyme.

*Omit sun-dried tomatoes and use fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, halved, or seeded and diced Roma or Italian tomatoes. Any fresh tomato would be fine.

*Omit Kalamata olives.  Substitute sliced or halved ripe black olives.

*Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for that quintessentially Italian flavor.

Happy summertime eating!  If you come up with any variations of your own, I would love to hear about them.



Remodeling the Kitchen

Countertop Resolution

As you may know if you read my last kitchen renovation update, we asked The Home Depot for a partial refund on our countertops, because of all the mistakes made by U.S. Granite, the company contracted with Home Depot to cut and install the countertops.  I asked for a 50% refund.  I didn’t think I’d get that much, but I didn’t figure they’d give me what I asked for, no matter what the amount was.

My letter to The Home Depot detailing all the mistakes and delays in the installation process went first to the customer complaints person at the Northtowne Home Depot in Reno.  She forwarded it to her store manager, who didn’t have the authority to grant such a large refund.  (The refund would have amounted to about $1900 if they had given us 50%.)  She had to bump it up to the district office.

At that point, everybody went on vacation.  And after we got home from vacation, the district manager went on vacation.   We finally called after two more weeks and were told we should have an answer in a few days.

It was pretty plain they were stringing the thing out, hoping we’d get tired of it and settle.  And that’s what basically happened.  After a month of waiting, the district office manager said she’d refund us $1000.  If we refused that offer, we’d have to deal with corporate.

Dennis didn’t want to deal with corporate.  I didn’t want to deal with corporate.  Neither of us wanted to bring a small claims court case.  We just wanted to be done.  And they knew it.

We decided to accept the refund offer of $1000.  It’s a little less than 30%, if my math is correct, which is unlikely.  But it’s enough.

I have to add that all the people we actually spoke to at the Northtowne Home Depot were polite and sympathetic and took our complaint seriously.  Nobody tried to brush us off or deny what happened to us.  I appreciate that.

That concludes the Home Depot/U.S. Granite ordeal.  The kitchen renovation isn’t finished yet.  Because of the months of delay, we weren’t able to move on to installing the microwave or backsplash or finishing the wall in our proposed timeline.  All that stuff was supposed to be done by spring, so we could move on to other things that need doing outside. And now it’s summer, and we’re involved in all the big summertime projects that have to get done outside in dry weather, like renovating the old house on our property that we call “the barn.” It has to be re-roofed and re-sided and critter-proofed this summer.  But we’ll get back to the kitchen in the fall.

There’s nothing quite like DIY, is there?  But at least when you do it yourself, you know the quality of your own work, and if it’s not right, you’ve got nobody else to blame, and nobody else to resent.  I’d rather be in that situation than fighting with so-called professionals to do a job right after I’ve already paid them.

Remodeling the Kitchen

Letter to The Home Depot

The following is our letter to The Home Depot requesting a refund. I know it’s long, and I don’t care.  We lived through three months of chaos and stress, so they can darn well read about it.  

After all the problems we’ve had the with the countertops we purchased from Home Depot more than 3 months ago, we really thought somebody would call, either from U.S. Granite, who was contracted with Home Depot to fabricate and install the granite countertops, or from Home Depot, who took our money (almost $4000) and contracted to provide the countertops we purchased.  But it’s been over a week now since the third set of countertops was finally installed, and no one has called to find out if we are satisfied with a job that went wrong so many times, we’ve almost lost count. We are not satisfied, and we are requesting a partial refund.

So, let’s run it down.

We sat down with a salesperson and our measurements at the Northtowne Home Depot in Reno in early March to work up a plan for the countertops.  We found some granite samples we liked and were advised to go to the granite supplier, Dal-Tile, and choose a particular slab of granite from which our countertops would be cut.  We did that the following week and chose a slab that Jeanie loved.  We then called Home Depot and sealed the deal with credit card information.  Within a few days, the company who would do the fabrication and installation of the countertops, U.S. Granite, called us to set up a templating appointment. The templater would digitally measure our space and encode it in a program that would then be fed to the cutting machine.

March 29, 2016: Templating proceeded with no problems.  The cabinets were brand new and newly installed, with no old countertops or anything to get in the way.  We were supposed to have countertops within a couple of weeks.

April 15, 2016:  Our countertops were supposed to be installed.  The appointed time came and went.  Jeanie finally received a call from the installer who said he would be there late in the afternoon. He never showed up, after we’d gone to the effort of moving the stove, the cutting boards that were our makeshift counters, and the essentials that we needed for cooking, and we’d covered the floor with heavy paper again to protect it from the workboots that tend to pick up gravel and mud outside and bring it in.  The installation was rescheduled for the following Monday after we called U.S. Granite’s manager to tell him that his installer never showed.

April 18, 2016:  The installer showed up bright and early and installed the countertops.  Not only did he not bring the brackets to secure the dishwasher to the countertops, he also did not adequately prepare to contain the dust produced when he cut the stone so that the sink could be set in the sink base counter.  Because he didn’t use any kind of containment procedure (like tarping) and because all he had to remove the dust was a wimpy shop-vac, we had rock dust throughout the entire house! Even worse, stone chips and rock dust coated our brand-new cabinets and all the contents inside. We spent hours on a step-ladder cleaning the cabinets and removing the contents, which all had to be washed before they (dishes, etc.) could be used.  The installers were wearing dust masks.  We, the homeowners, had no protection whatsoever from that dust, and we are still breathing it because it permeated every nook and cranny in the house.

But Jeanie loved the granite of the countertops.  This is a quote from her blog, written the next day:  “I got so excited when I saw the first top in place, and that was before the dust was cleaned off.  I love the granite I chose with its beige and gray background, black veining, and dark red flecks.” We were so happy with the granite choice.

However, after the installers had left and we tried to put the stove back in its space, it wouldn’t fit.  That was when we discovered that the countertops had been improperly installed, with one countertop overhanging the stove space by about 3/8”, which threw off that entire side of the kitchen.

After repeating ad nauseum to the manager of U.S. Granite what was wrong and what needed to happen next (either moving the countertops or recutting them), we were told another set of installers would come and look at the problem.  In the meantime, during all his measuring to figure out what went wrong and how it might be fixed, Dennis discovered that the bullnose overhang was different on all five pieces of granite.  None of them were uniform.

April 25:  A new set of installers showed up to move the countertops so that the stove would fit.  The countertops were moved, and the stove still did not fit.  Moving the countertop didn’t solve the problems.

The following week, the templater returned to check his program and discovered that the fabrication shop had miscut the bullnose depth on the slabs, and that was why they didn’t fit.  At least 3 of them would have to be recut, but U.S. Granite was hoping to get off cheap by not recutting all 5 of the pieces.

May 13: We drove back to Reno and looked at another granite slab, the second slab.  We didn’t like it as much as the original slab we’d chosen, and we were worried about the color, but we were told that because it had been raining, the stone had darkened, and that it would lighten up as it dried out.  It should match up, they said, when it dried out, with the pieces that were being left in place.  (One of those pieces was also miscut, but U.S. Granite  thought they could move it out away from the wall enough to leave it in place, although that would have made it difficult for us to properly set the backsplash tile.)

May 20:  The installers returned with three new pieces, the sink base countertop, the piece that abutted both the sink base and the stove, and the piece on the other side of the kitchen to the right of the fridge.  They installed the piece to the right of the fridge, and our concerns about color were immediately reawakened.  The new piece was substantially darker and browner than the original piece on the left side of the fridge, and it was very noticeable.   “It’s been raining,” the installers said.  “It’ll lighten up when it dries out.”  However, the new sink base piece and the piece next to the stove still did not fit.  The installers took the new pieces out, and we were left again without countertops on that side of the kitchen.  Dennis had to put our old laminate countertop back on so that he could hook the sink up again, so we would have water.

Within a week, the new countertop had dried out and was obviously not a match to the two original pieces that had been left in place.

May 28:  The templater returned to check the measurements once again and brought template cutouts to put down and try to determine the source of the problems with fit.  One of the problems was that U.S. Granite had not cut the sink base and stove section in one piece as had been originally laid out; rather, they’d cut them in two pieces (probably trying to save money), creating the necessity for a seam, and they simply couldn’t get edges and cuts to match up that way.

June 3:  We drove back down to Reno to see another new slab, the third.  This time, the slab had been set up in the fabrication shop at U.S. Granite.  It was dimly lit, and when we compared the piece of the original slab that we’d chosen back in March with the newest slab, we couldn’t tell if it was much darker than the piece that we loved and that we’d planned as the crowning glory of the new kitchen, or if the lighting was so bad, we just couldn’t see it clearly.  But what could we do?  Because of repeated mistakes by U.S. Granite, the countertop installation had been delayed for 3 months!  We told them to go ahead and cut new countertops.

June 6:  The countertops were installed and finally fit.  But to our dismay, the color was much darker than the original slab we’d chosen, with far more brown and beige in the background than the white and gray that Jeanie loved.  We had chosen the backsplash tile based on the original slab with more white and gray tones.  And now the backsplash tile does not coordinate nearly as well with the new countertops as it would have with the first slab we chose and paid for.

During this process, Dennis had to take out and then put back in and replumb the kitchen sink four times.  The dishwasher had to be taken out twice, and it marred the brand new wood floor we’d just installed.  The brand new cabinets were damaged on the top edges where the countertops were pried up twice!  We had to move kitchen paraphernalia so many times, we lost count.  And we are still trying to get the rock dust from cutting two sink holes cleaned up.

Dennis missed 5 days of work to be in the house when the installers and templater were here.  That is a significant loss of income.  We had to make two extra trips to Reno to look at slabs after our original choice was mis-cut and improperly installed.

Jeanie is disabled, and the stone dust mess in the house created by the first botched installation is more than she can cope with and clean up, not to mention the fact that it created breathing problems for days.  We need a professional cleaner to come in and thoroughly clean the house and carpets to remove the rock dust, which will be expensive.

For all of the above reasons, we are asking for significant refund from The Home Depot for our countertops.   This is to compensate us for the excess work, cost, time delays, and stress of this job which was botched not once, but twice.  So much for the dream kitchen; so much for the gorgeous countertops and coordinating backsplash.  We didn’t get what we paid for, and we feel cheated.

We trusted The Home Depot to contract with competent, reputable dealers and installers; in fact, that was exactly why we chose The Home Depot for this job.  We have been sadly disappointed.  Jeanie has chronicled this whole process on her blog (www.gardenforestfield.com), and we hope to be able to report that The Home Depot did the right thing and compensated us for what their contractor put us through for the past three months.  If The Home Depot does not do the right thing, that’ll be reported too, and not only on the blog, but on every review site online.

We hope to hear from someone at The Home Depot shortly about our refund.

Remodeling the Kitchen

Hot Under the Collar

You know that saying.  You’ve probably said it.  But trust me, you have no idea what it really means unless you are a post-menopausal woman who’s just heard her husband blamed for a problem he had nothing to do with.  I am still mad!

We went to Reno today to the stoneyard, where we approved another pair of slabs.  As those of you know who’ve been following the kitchen renovation saga, the first time the granite countertops were installed, it turned out they were not cut to measurements, and they were incorrectly installed.  I don’t know who is to blame.  I do know that U.S. Granite, the company contracted by Home Depot to fabricate and install the countertops we purchased from Home Depot, tried to cut their losses by creating new pieces, from a new slab, for just three of the countertops.  They left two pieces in place.  And not only did the new countertops for the sink base and over the dishwasher still not fit, all the new pieces were several shades darker than the original pieces that were left in.  That is not what I paid for, and that is not what we are going to settle for.

We were told when we chose the second slab that the new pieces would lighten up as they dried out, which they did.  But because those pieces were cut from a different block of granite (from the same mine in Brazil) than the pieces cut from the first slab, they were very much a mis-match in color.  That means that the countertops for the whole kitchen, both sides, have to be re-cut.

After we approved the newest slabs today, we talked with the scheduler/manager of this branch of the company.  He seems a nice young man, but I was very upset with him today.  He mentioned that they are going to send the templater down again with thin wooden templates cut out to the measurements the templater took originally with a digital camera and program that encodes the information so that it can be fed to the cutting machine digitally.  That sounds good.  Then this nice young man says, “And you’ll sign off on the templates, and then we’ll come back and set the stones.”

Whoa.  I am nice, but I am not stupid.  I held up my hand.  “What do you mean, sign off on the templates?  Then if there’s a problem with the countertops, you’re absolved of responsibility?  I don’t think so.”  I told him straight out that we were not signing off on anything until the job was done and inspected for quality control.  And I told him a few other things, such as whatever crew he sent down to this job had better have the right equipment to control the stone dust, because I already have it all throughout my house, and I don’t need to be breathing it or cleaning up any more of it.

He said, “Well, we have to make sure that no one is moving slabs and causing a problem.”  What? It turns out the installer told the manager that Dennis had moved the slabs, and that was what caused the problem.

That’s when I got really hot under the collar.  “Honey,” I said to this youngster who could have been my son, “there is no way this man was moving those slabs around.  You know yourself how heavy they are.  You think he has one of those suction thingies they use to move those slabs hiding out under his tee shirt? There was no moving of slabs by anyone but your installers, so don’t let anybody tell you different.”  I must have sounded like his mother, because he backed down on that point and on the idea of us signing anything before the job is done.  And it had better not come up again.

Believe you me, Home Depot is going to get an earful from me tomorrow morning.  I am still steaming.



Remodeling the Kitchen

Wrong Again

I’d hoped by this time to be able to report that the replacement granite countertops were in, and that we were moving on to tiling the backsplash.  We bought the backsplash tile several weeks ago, just after the first countertops that were cut wrong were installed.  We’ve just been waiting for the second, replacement installation to start tiling.

On Friday, just before I left for my big birthday weekend, the countertop installers from U.S. Granite in Reno arrived to put in the new counters.  And guess what?  They still didn’t fit!

The installers brought in the new countertops, put them down, and they didn’t fit right.  The measurements appear to be off.  Fortunately, the installers did not glue them in this time, except for the 6’ counter along the fridge wall that forms my baking station.  And then another problem was discovered.  The new granite is several shades darker than the slab off the first block, so the new counters didn’t match the two corner pieces that were being left in place.  The installers removed the sink base and dishwasher countertops before gluing or cutting and took them back to Reno.  Phone calls between the installers, the manager, and Dennis were flying back and forth when I left for my trip.  Truthfully, I was glad to escape.

So, here we are waiting for another measuring session and for new slabs to be brought in, which we will have to approve, and new counters to be cut and installed.  The previous mistakes had already added a 5 week work stoppage to our renovation, and it will probably be another 5 or 6 weeks before the third round of countertops are installed, and if they are right, we can finally go ahead with the backsplash.  Now, it is really crucial to choose slabs that will look okay with the backsplash tile, because we can’t take that back.

When we chose the slab for the second countertops, we were told by the stone supplier, Dal-Tile, that since it had been raining, the granite had absorbed water and darkened. “It’ll lighten up as it dries out,” they told us.  It was raining on Friday when the installers brought in the countertops cut from those slabs. Dennis was worried about how dark they were. “They’ll lighten up,” the installers also said.

The replacement countertops haven’t lightened up and are significantly darker, more beigey-brown than the original slab we chose, and which we like the best.  The original slab had a lot more white in it, as you can see from the pics below.  This first one is of the original slab.



This is of the only replacement piece that was left in on Friday, and it is definitely darker than the original.



Fortunately, the backsplash tile I chose looks fine with both the lighter slab and the darker replacement, so hopefully, whatever we end up with in new slabs will also look okay. But it’s looking like they might have to replace the two corner pieces that we’d hoped to leave in, just to get a good match all around the kitchen.  The waste of it makes me sick.  However, we’ve talked them into leaving some of it behind (they’d better be doing everything they can to make us happy after all these screw-ups!), and I am hopeful that we can use some of it in the bathrooms and in my outdoor kitchen, if we ever get around to building it.

I am not a happy kitchen camper at this point, but it could be worse.  Dennis put the old laminate countertop back in so he could hook the sink up again (this makes three times now he’s taken the sink out and put it back in), so we have water.  We have a working stove.  I am grateful for that, at least.



If there is a tip in all this, it’s that you shouldn’t choose your granite slab after prolonged rain unless the slabs are stored in a dry warehouse.  Even when they are sealed, they will absorb water, and it does alter the color, making matching difficult. And that can make it difficult to choose backsplash material and other things as well.

I’d also say choose your contractors carefully, but you really can’t know what’s going to happen.  I chose to do this part of the project through Home Depot because I didn’t want to have to deal with contractors directly myself, and because we don’t know anything about any contractors in Reno, and there’s no one locally who installs granite.  We trusted Home Depot to work with contractors who can get the job done right.  Now we’re talking with Home Depot about how they’re going to make things right with us, because this foul-up has caused some significant inconvenience in our home and lives.

Remodeling the Kitchen

Of Countertops and Roll-Out Shelves

As some of you know, we discovered some major problems with our new granite countertops after they were installed.  Al, the templater that U. S. Granite uses, came out and checked all his measurements on Friday.  It turns out that his measurements were accurate, but the fabrication shop which cut the granite made mistakes.  The installer made mistakes.  As a result, at least three of our five pieces of granite (maybe four) have to be replaced.  The incorrectly cut and installed pieces were left in place, so that we do have a functional kitchen until the new pieces are installed.  Whenever that is.  We don’t know yet.  And until the granite is installed, we have to keep the floor covered.  Ugh.

In the meantime, over the weekend, Dennis installed the roll-out shelves I bought.  I had originally planned to buy cabinets with the roll-out shelves built in, but this would have added so much to the cost of the cabinets, I had to scrap that upgrade.  I already knew I could find after-market roll-out shelving much cheaper.  I planned to use chrome roll-outs on all the cabinets, but I failed to check and make sure that I could get them in all the sizes I needed for my various cabinets.  I could not get the chrome shelves in a 36” width to fit my big base cabinets on the fridge side of the kitchen.  What to do?

In a secondary search after the cabinets were installed, I found made-to-fit slide-out shelves from Slide-a-Shelf, sold on Costco Wholesale’s website.  Made to fit means that you measure your spaces and send the measurements off to the Slide-a-Shelf company, which then sends you your roll-out shelves made to your measurements.  And they are shipped within five days of ordering, so they must have some already made up in various sizes, right?

There are several choices of wood fronts ready to stain, so that you can match them to your cabinets, or you can choose a paint-grade wood front to match up to painted cabinets.  I chose oak fronts to go with my oak cabinets.  They came unfinished, of course, but all I had to do was slap on a coat of polyurethane (I have lots left over from the coffee table project) and presto!  I have roll-outs which look like they were made for those cabinets.  You can get these shelves in any size for one price through Costco, $79.99 for standard roll-outs, and $89.99 with the soft-close option.  That made these shelves for the big cabinets much more affordable than having them built in.  Shipping was free, another plus, because these things are heavy.  And if you’re a Costco member, there’s another $10 discount.





I could have gotten double rolling shelves, but I had already decided, based on my scribblings on my cabinet renderings, that I wouldn’t need the upper shelves to roll out.  I did decide to go with the soft close option, because Dennis likes soft close, but after they were installed, I realized that as big as these shelves are, and as heavily as they are going to be loaded, soft close doesn’t work all that well, and I could have saved that $10, which will amount to $30 for all three big shelves.  All the shelves are rated for 100 lb. carrying capacity.  As for installation, one went in really easily.  The other one, for some reason, was a bear, but Dennis finally got it.  There is some assembly required with these shelves before they can be installed, but it is nothing somebody handy with a screwdriver couldn’t handle.  Installation requires a drill and screwdriver.

On the other side of the kitchen, I only have three base cabinets that need roll-out shelving.  One is the sink base.  I wanted to have two roll-out shelves on either side, but because of the plumbing and the garbage disposal, only one would fit.  Dennis has drilled the holes for that one, which will hold the kitchen trash can and cleaning supplies, but he won’t install it until after the next round of countertop installation, because he has to crawl under that cabinet to hook up the plumbing to the sink, and the roll-out would be in the way.



The other two roll-outs hold pots and pans and plastic storage stuff.  On the stove side of the kitchen, I have tried to keep things in relatively the same space as they were before.  It drives us both crazy to reach for something and not find it in the place we’re accustomed to.  The older you get, the harder change is!  These roll-outs are from Lynk Professional, and I bought them on Amazon.  They are very affordable, very sturdy, and I think, quite nice-looking.  Dennis said these were a breeze to install.





I could have bought made-to-fit shelves through Costco Wholesale for all my cabinets.  But with the one-price-fits-all-sizes pricing, I’d have spent much more on the smaller roll-outs than I did going with the Lynk Professional chrome roll-outs.  I spent about $140 on the three chrome roll-outs.  If I’d gone with the Slide-a-Shelf ones, I’d have spent at least a hundred dollars more.  I did get the shipping free on these from Amazon, too.

My roll-outs don’t match, but I’m okay with that.  They are functional and affordable, and I’ll take that over “a foolish consistency” any time!