59. Road Trip for Soapstone

We spent weeks, months, selecting a kitchen counter top.

I looked online at Countertops 101; I looked at the big box stores; I read articles about all the different materials we could use for our countertop — the pros and cons of each. While I was considering this, Consumer Reports came out with a timely article on what was the best, and I read the article five times. I even took a quiz — what kind of countertop should YOU have in your kitchen?

I’m not sure that this is normal…

Soapstone was my pick early on — I just needed to convince Mr. H. C. of its amazing and beautiful qualities. There’s nothing like a firsthand look at the gorgeous stuff, so last fall we visited Bucks County Soapstone in Perkasie, PA.

Bucks County Soapstone

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Everything in their showroom highlights soapstone — even the floor at the entrance is soapstone tile.

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Perhaps you would like one of these cute little basin sinks?

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Or a wonderful soapstone laundry tub?

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Mr. H. C. fell in love. And once we saw their hand crafted sinks we knew we were going to give away our already purchased $30 ivory porcelain sink and buy one of these:

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Well, maybe not quite that fancy…but I suggest that a visit here — and a short talk with the owner, Scott Seuren — will convince you of the beauty of a soapstone countertop and sink. Just sayin’…

Road Trip

From the time they received our plans to when it was ready for pickup was three weeks. I had this week off from work, so we planned a road trip across Pennsylvania.

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We left Henry looking out the window — six hours in the truck was almost too much for us, let alone Henry, whose vehicular limit seems to be about 60 minutes.

Truthfully, it was a long boring ride across the PA turnpike. The landscape is still brown and ugly from winter and the road went on and on…
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We perked up when we landed at our B&B — The Fox and Hound. The innkeepers were perky, the room was nice, and the breakfast was good — all for a hundred bucks — which is about what you would pay for an impersonal, adequate hotel room. We try to stay in B&Bs whenever we can.

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Bucks County is beautiful and certainly deserves another trip — or a vacation even — in warmer weather. The little town of New Hope is charming, but by the time we got out on the town on a Tuesday evening, all the little touristy shoppes were closed (which was a good thing for the budget). So we made do with $3 stouts, and burgers and pork tacos at the local brew pub, the Triumph Brewery. Just what truck-weary travelers needed.

The next morning we were at Bucks County Soapstone by 10:15. I wandered around the showroom, snapping photos, and talking to Scott, while Mr. H. C. hung around with the guys in the shop finding out tips for installation and loading the truck.

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The guys in the shop built this handy dandy A-frame so we could safely haul our precious cargo.

No road trip is complete without lunch at the local diner, and we found a great one!

The owner made Mr. H. C. a double chocolate milk shake and he was in Milkshake Heaven! With a Delicious Reuben sandwich, he was so full, he left his pickle uneaten. I was astonished. He NEVER leaves a pickle! “There are priorities,” he said. (Long ago when Mr. H. C. was called Mikey, he was also known as the fastest milkshake drinker in the East…)

Aren’t you excited to see photos of the finished product? So are we, but that will have to wait. In the meantime, here are the top ten reasons you would want to buy a soapstone countertop:

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Soapstone

    10. It is a naturally occurring material with minimal processing and as little or as much upkeep as you want.
    9. Do you want natural gray? Do you want polished black? You can have either. And you can even change your mind.
    8. It is very DIY friendly — unlike every other countertop material out there (with the possible exception of tile–but Mr. H.C. said absolutely no tile countertops.)
    7. It scratches easily, yes; BUT the scratches can just be sanded out using regular 150 grit sandpaper and a circular motion.
    6. It lasts for years and years and years.
    5. Most soapstone dealers are smaller, family or individually run places, so you aren’t supporting the Big Box stores. Given this factor, you get personal attention.
    4. The stone is heat absorbent — you can set your hot pans right on it; as well as rolling out pastries and kneading bread and generally being a substitute for marble…
    3. It is naturally anti-bacterial.
    2. There is NO chance of radiation or radon entering your home with soapstone.
    1. It is so beautiful!

I promise pictures in the next post…

53. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


The Good:

    Kitchen countertop and sink laid out on paper and ordered  √
    Dishwasher ordered and ready for pickup at Sears  √
    Black and white VCT flooring tile ordered  √
    Old linoleum and tar paper scraped off the kitchen floor  √
    Sliding glass door frame and surrounding wall demoed   √
    French doors framed in  √
    The kitchen subfloor discovered to be 5/4″ thick. √
    Subway tile for behind sink purchased and waiting  √
    Two new electrical outlets installed (ahead of schedule)  √
    A renovation calendar with projects clearly scheduled  √
    A yellow bedroom that will soon have to be renamed the White Bedroom  √

Oh my! There is so much good progress, I hardly want to show you the bad and the ugly.

But for the sake of truth in blogdom, I will.

The Bad:

    It was really hard work taking up the linoleum. I might have whined several times. Our backs and our knees reminded us that we are OLD…
    I don’t understand why 18″ dishwashers are more expensive than 24″ dishwashers. Less parts, smaller = bigger price. Totally unfair!
    We found another mummified mouse — this one was under the refrigerator when we moved it to pull up the tile. (At least they all have been dead a long time…)
    When Mr. H. C. was taking up the tile under the refrigerator, he discovered the floor had been patched there because of termite damage. (But see Good list above — the reason it didn’t cave in was the solid five-quarters subfloor.)
    The kitchen is now shrouded in plastic drop cloths and sheets while the work gets messy, dusty, and serious. Which means I have just a small temporary kitchen in the living room.

Which leads us to … The Ugly:

Which means this is what we get to have for dinner most nights:

Domino's and Black & Tans

Domino’s and Black & Tans

Wait! Is that good? Or bad? I’m not sure… But we certainly are glad to be making good progress finally. Bad knees, aching backs, sore muscles, and the ugly of it all.