Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Decisions, decisions ... so many decisions!

Lately it seems my days are filled with one decision followed by another, some easy and fun, others requiring deep thought and reflection. This is a share of those decisions... 

John and I have great reverence living in the historic city of Philadelphia. Admiration and appreciation with the surrounding presence of our nations past history. Preservation is an important part of our home remodeling projects. Over the Summer we started discussing an update to our kitchen, which is something we seem to do on a continual basis throughout our home. Back in the 80's we gutted our house saving all architectural details that resonated Philadelphia charm in our home. When we updated our upstairs bathroom 3 years ago we kept much of the 80's initial remodel which is in an Art Deco style. 3 years ago we gutted and remade the shower with Carrara marble cut into subway marble tiles with a surrounding border, replaced the shower floor with Carrara mosaic and replaced all faucets to brushed Nickel and installed a new pedestal sink. The update to the bathroom was very successful and it in our mind became our focus and direction for our current Kitchen update. I find beauty in the blend of old with new, always striving for a beautiful blend from the two.
As I always describe my style as living with the past in the present with a wink and nod to the future.

Back in August during a weekend stay with friends in Connecticut I announced over breakfast I had decided it was time to change out our current peninsula in Luna Pearl Granite. Big surprise to John! I wanted a stone contrast between the window wall countertop in Luna Pearl and the Dining room table that John and I designed and had an oval slab of Luna Pearl placed on top. Deciding to go larger with a Waterfall side on the peninsula for a complete dramatic appeal. I always enjoy the moody and dramatic. Both of us love Black soapstone with lots of veins so we both were in perfect harmony on our stone choice.

Our soapstone is from Brazil, the slab we purchased is 116 inches long by 72 wide.
Soapstones real name is Steatite but is called soapstone because of its tactile feel, often described as feeling like a hard bar of soap. Soapstone was formed in the ground 300-400 million years ago. Soapstone is non-porous, completely stain resistant and will tolerate high heat. Needs no stone sealer but many choose to rub mineral oil onto it to enhance its veins and coloring. We chose to not use beeswax nor mineral oil. We elect to go natural with it and allow it to gracefully develop its patina while it ages. Perhaps not for everyone, it can nick and scratch, but a green scrubby pad will remove blemishes. Soapstone was a given since we have loved it for its amazing matte appearance that looks both rustic and sophisticated, dramatic yet humble.

Another decision was to replace our 3 year old GE 36 inch gas cooktop a GE monogram with a 36 inch Wolf professional gas cooktop with a 14 inch telescoping downdraft exhaust system. I love to cook and the GE just never fit my needs. The downdraft was a wimpy strength and only extended 9 inches, plus each burner didn't have independent ignition switches, although when purchased were told they did.
Using more than one burner while cooking was a major annoyance while listening to constant clicking. I would yell at the cooktop saying you can be replaced! We donated our GE to Restor the Habitat for Humanity store.

Now with the new downdraft system it meant installation of all new custom fabricated ductwork. Exhausting onto our small roof over the basement steps and running it through the garage ceiling and venting out of the small roof. A gut to the basement ceiling where the ductwork will go and the garage ceiling. Oh yeah, while at it John decided to take down the  garage ceiling and walls to allow him more space stealing from the basement for not only our vintage 1972 French Citroën DS car but allow additional space to hang our bikes and house our two vintage French Velosolex's (French mopeds). Lots of dirt, dust and debris. All in all I am getting soapstone and a Wolf professional cooktop, plus a glass front stainless Sub-Zero refrigerator with bottom freezer. Those are the visible enhancements to our kitchen update but require much work. We are losing a cabinet over our current stainless refrigerator (I will deal with its loss). Our current refrigerator will be moved to our basement (I'll explain) and deciding to run a spring water reserve connection to feed the built in ice maker in the Sub-Zero. As much as we adore Philadelphia we only drink delivered Spring water.

(Soapstone beginning to be installed)
My intention originally wasn't to include the glass front refrigerator but truth be told I have wanted one ever since the 1981 kitchen gut. During a late night phone conversation discussing our kitchen plans with a blogger friend who informed me Sub-Zero had introduced a small sized (30 inch wide) that would fit our needs. Well the following day we went to the Wolf and Sub Zero showroom, fell in love and custom ordered it even with the 6 week wait. Freezing rain and snow in a wintry mix we drove through, even horrible weather didn't stop me, Motivated, yes for sure!

Keeping it real, John wasn't excited to replace our current stainless, expense, time and work factored in. Unbeknown to me John had snapped an iPhone photo of the current door shelves and while standing with the showroom assistant he showed her the photo. No I didn't get embarrassed, not even with the 20+ Essie nail polishes in the door shelf and all those silly saved up Chinese restaurant duck sauce and hot mustard packets. (I have no explanation for hoarding take out packs)! I was a woman on a mission and wasn't going to be embarrassed or talked out of my refrigerator glass door desire.

In reality a 30 inch refrigerator is small and John suggested since we entertain often and I constantly cook to put our current refrigerator down stairs (basement) for additional storage. Simply brilliant idea as I was smiling ear to ear knowing finally I would have my glass front.

(Work going on as of this posting)
Aww but the work doesn't end here. A decision was made to also replace the small slate roof over the front door that over the past couple winters severely weathered and being 90 years old needed replacement. We are rebuilding it with real slate to preserve the original look and material.

We have an incredible amount of projects to complete in a short amount of time and we needed help. My son Chris's best friend Dominic (Nic) a best friend and thought of as a brother Chris was employed by Nic and my son did carpentry work. My son was very fortunate to have Nic in his life and to have worked with laughter and glee along side his friends. When Chris suddenly passed it was Nic who actually got me through the memorial service and over dinner only funny stories of Chris were told. John and I hadn't seen Nic since the service. A few email exchanges but no face time. Needing help this was a very easy decision to employee Nic and his crew. Chris's energy remains and I know he is here in spirit adding his two cents and off colored jokes.

( Raw edge will be used as backsplash, perhaps not to everyone's liking! To us it is artistic beauty in its organic state.)
Last year we realized our Grandson Dane needed a male role model in his daily life. When Chris passed we gladly took on responsibility and guidance of Gabrielle and Dane and there needed to be a decision of living arrangements. Blake their step brother entered into John's and my life at age 2. A Dennis the Menace adorable energetic boy. Blake later fell in love with all things Harry Potter and we would run out and buy him first editions and he would place Dane on his lap and read page by page to him. Just shows the sweet essence of Blake.

(Pretty Grand Gabby on Easter)
A decision was made last June to relocate the Grands to Florida to live with Blake and Brittany and their little boy, their family just grew last week with the birth of their precious baby girl, Brooke Lynne. Dane is thriving, straight honor roll student but Gabby never really settled in. Much like me she's very independent and more city girl than country. Gabby is very convincing and wanted to move back to the shore in NJ and live with a few girlfriends. We are supportive of her and will help pay for schooling and help her out financially. We flew her back a couple of weeks ago. Gabby was who we spent Easter with at the Washington Inn in Cape May. It was a long day of round trip totaling 4 hours drive time. I told Gabby I wouldn't post the above photos as I snapped away since she reads my blog. But hey guess what I wrote and told her I would post them - C'est la vie! I couldn't resist.

(Talk about being floored with another decision!!! I felt our new West Elm rug fit the below writing of the R word ... Like how I almost hit the floor.)
Lately John's been bringing up the R word, yes it's being bantered about ... Retirement decision time. I have never been a procrastinator, matter of fact I consider it a thief of precious time. But this R word question has been posed for consideration and met with me being evasive and unprepared.

When John and I became a couple I asked him what personality trait attracted him most to me. Without a moments pause his answer was my fierce independence and to be honest that attribute has always given me pride. A few years into marriage I asked John what drives him crazy about me? Again no pause, it's that you are fiercely independent!  So there you have a real personal share and why I am overwhelmed with the possibility of John's retirement, even with throughout our 36 years of marriage he is my best friend and we are always together.

I am indeed fiercely independent and as an Artist I fear the thought of losing even a morsel of my independence. I draw, paint and write poetry at whim. I'm the type of person who will very reluctantly leave a creation when the muse bestows my inspiration. Would retirement change my artful expressions? I don't know, it's under consideration and when I know the answer I will share it.  Until then I will delay, OK procrastinate my decision.

As you can see there will be a continuation to this post. Photos of our kitchen update will be shared and a decision answer on the R word. Next post I will share all sources. So I sign off for now and leave you with my poetry titled "Life Decisions".

Life is like a puzzle filled with decisions that boggle our waking thoughts and steal our inner peace.
Oftentimes a conundrum with resolutions that seem unkind and really do not offer any release.

Decisions made in a lifelong mystery that leads to twists and turns we really don't want to leave unanswered behind,
Amazing how thoughts to a balanced conclusion often make things appear dimmer and dwell in one's mind.

From daybreak to nightfall we spend hours evaluating life's issues embedded with deep concern,
You experience exhaustion and confusion from solving situations you hope and pray will not return.

Recently it occurred to me life spins in endless circles until it comes to an end ...
Seems much of our choices are often hard to understand and difficult to defend.

© Vera


  1. My goodness....so many things to think about here. My mind's eye had to keep up with your words today. You certainly have a lot going on, Vera.
    Your choice for the top of your cupboard is beautiful! So many exciting things going on in just your kitchen alone!
    What a lovely granddaughter you have!
    Have fun with your projects, Vera!

  2. Your new kitchen is going to be amazing, Vera! I've always loved soapstone counters, and for some reason am drawn to glass front refrigerator doors, too! I wouldn't be bold enough to have one myself, as I would feel the need to keep the contents super neat at all times! Hope all goes well with your husband's retirement. Mine retired a few years ago, and I like to joke that his retirement has become my full time job! I love him dearly, but I really do miss my time at home alone!!

  3. Dear Vera, You certainly have a lot going on but seems like an adventure filled with fun. I love your counter choice. It will be gorgeous with your cabinets. I can appreciate the work involved having redesigned our kitchen a few years ago.
    Your grand Gabby is a beautiful girl and how nice to spend Easter with her.
    As for the R word, My hubby just met his goal for the BIG R March 1st. I can tell you it is a special time. While it did have it's challenges for someone like me who is totally independent, we have adjusted well and nothing about my art work has changed. In fact, I feel more creative not stressing over all his travel for his long 35 year career. Now however, he is beginning a new chapter with consulting in his field and begins in 2 weeks. It will mean travel again, but on occasion, I will join him too and it won't be all the time. We also do everything together and now we are having the time of our lives. It was time for the R to begin and this new chapter of our book is better then ever.

    Have fun with all the projects and enjoy the process.
    Loved your poem!!
    Hugs and Blessings, CM

  4. Vera,
    You have so many wonderful things going on in the kitchen. It is going to be beautiful and what you have always wanted. It will be a not only a marvelous kitchen but an extension of your artful self. Loved the poem. The picture of Gabby is gorgeous. Glad you had a wonderful dinner together for Easter.
    Kris :)

  5. Your kitchen is coming along and is going to be a truly amazing transformation! I love everything you have done. While I DO NOT LIKE my stainless steel fridge I don't think I could entertain enough neatness to go glass front. You are a BRAVE (and independent-lol) woman!

    I can't wait to see it all pulled together and I bet you can't either.

    I am dreading John's retirement, too. I like "my house" to myself sometimes and we do a lot together already. Not sure I am ready for 24/7 yet...maybe I never will be-lol

    Love the poem, Vera. You put lots of meaning into your words that you string together so wonderfully. xo Diana

  6. Oh, Vera, you do have a lot on your plate don't you? :) It looks as though your kitchen is going to be stunning with all the new additions! I love to cook and it's so nice to have the "good stuff" to cook with. Can't wait to see the end result.

    I am so very sorry about Chris. This is the first time I've been made aware. My heart goes out to you! Gabby is beautiful and I feel sure she will be much happier around her friends. Hopefully, all will go well with both of them.

    If your husband does decide that now's the time for the big R perhaps you two should just have a discussion of each other's expectations, needs, etc. I can't see you giving up your independence ~ I know I wouldn't! Hopefully, it will be a wonderful experience for the two of you. I just cannot tell you how much I have loved being retired and away from all the stress. It is very damaging to one's body. My friends that are still working have serious health issues and it's scary.

    Keep us posted about your decisions! Wishing you the very best, always.

  7. You have so much to say, Vera! You have to post more often! I love the changes with the kitchen...we are doing the same. I've always loved soapstone and would love to finally get it...just not sure if the insurance is covering the counters. I so appreciate your info...perfect timing! Your kitchen will be beautiful!

    Oh, my goodness...Gabby is a true beauty...of course you have to sneak some pics in! All the best to her!

    I love it...fiercely independent. I've been pretty fierce in my day but not so independant. I'm tryimg. Truly!

    Love to you...wish I had the energy to write more. So happy to see these beautiful posts coming from you, sweet friend!

    Jane xxx

  8. Wow Vera your mind must be reeling. You are so talented and creative I'm sure you're used to it. I love your soapstone and covet your fridge. I love Lydia and I think Ina has one too. Can't wait to see the rest

  9. So Excited to see the out Côme of out late, late night conversations as to your plans, and discussing with you a Sub-zero Firdge was so much fun because it's my dream to replace one in my home someday, or future home, I am designing a new construction home right now, yet had to take a break due to this silly episode that left me spinning. It too will have a glass face and I guess we will have to train our client soon to be ex-neighbor how to organize for beauty and less left overs wrapped in pretty duck shape foils, along with beer cans that show! Lol
    Your kitchen will be amazing with the stone, and the hillside horizon backsplash will add a bit more artfulness in how you love to live.

    Vera, so nice to see and update of beautiful Gabby, and the Easter time you were able to spend with her. As for John, I see the R-word working out just fine for the two of you who so love similar and the same taste in your shared passions, flower exhibits, trips to the shore, shopping, car clubs, more shopping, dinning out, dinning in with best friends, and movie night relaxed and entertained.
    I am sure you will create space in your home that divides your time alone with space to freely create. I think a space in your spare room could become a studio office where you can get away and think, write, and get creative. You my dear could wrap yourself up into a Cocoon in a sperate space and spend countless hours writing, per haps WRITING A BOOK !!! You would do well by direction your attention to putting a book together with all your poetic life story's you tell so well.

    John could do a cook book prefecting his blackened what ever he cooks :)
    Yes Vera, the dreaded R word could up being your guys bets move into a new life path of getting creative to gether and time to just not have to be anywhere if you don't want to be. The poem was special to you, touching connection to how you soulfully reach deeply into your soul creating words that life throws at you, and hanging on to them for dear life.
    Just so beautiful in how you are making life choices to add that much more soulful beauty into your historic home, and into your authentic life.

    Love you dearly,
    Will be talking soon I am most certain of that.
    Go visit Loi, he has exciting news, and looking forward to his Martha S. Living magazine feature. You amaze me with all that's going on that you even have the energy to do such a beautiful post.... yes, Christ is joking right along with you and the crew.


  10. Vera my friend, I love your choice of a rough-hewn backsplash! I LOVE IT! And the tones of the material used are SO LOVELY! My dear, it's already 6:30am and I need to get to school, but let me just say that your designing sensibilities are so great. We don't just inhabit a space, we LIVE in it. Our lives decorate the four walls making it the home we choose. Decisions well-made! LOVE ! Anita

  11. LOVE this soapstone!! What a wonderful idea to add nature´s impact to your home.... A dinosaur might have stepped on it... Millions of years ago... What a treasure! And hey, this beautiful Lady Grand, ohooooo, watch out, the boys will queue up.
    So I see, spring is bringing you energy - say hello to all your projects to come.
    Huuuuugs!!! Your friend Méa, who just rocked the bathroom...

  12. First of all, your granddaughter is stunning!

    Secondly, there is so much going on. I love the soapstone and its classic old world look. It seems right for your space with the brick in other parts of the home and other touches.You are going to love your new stove. I love the idea of a glass refrigerator. I almost had one, but it kept getting back ordered, and Viking didn't have a small enough one then, but it all worked out. It seems some things are luck and other things happen for a reason. R seems interesting and a new chapter.

    The poem's words and ideas fit perfectly the situation. xoxo Su

  13. I'm excited to follow along with your kitchen renovation. Love the soapstone you chose, and the raw edged backsplash is fabulous!!! So much going on in your life right now, but I know with your wise thinking and decision making process, all will be sorted out at just the right time.
    Mary Alice

  14. Dearest Vera,
    I love all the plans you have for your kitchen.. The soapstone.. Good thing it is not in my house... I would probably purchase carving tools and sculpt something! haaaa I have always wanted to sculpt a piece of soapstone, as it is the softest of the stones, and I hear it is not difficult to carve.
    Your glass refrigerator is going to look great. You have much to accomplish. You have such a flare with design, I am sure it will look beautiful.

    Gabby looks lovely, so happy you were able to spend time with her.
    Thank you for sharing.. Your poem is heartfelt.. I love it.
    Sending you a big hug!
    Love and blessings,

  15. Looking quite stunning so far, Vera. You have a great eye for design. Can't wait to see the final reveal.

  16. Wow, Vera....that's a lot of work going on...and lots of $'s, I can see. How blessed you are to have all these beautiful things happening. I know it will all be sooo beautiful. Your designs are always stunning.
    I'm afraid I am a little too messy to have a glass front fridge...they are pretty, tho.

  17. So much activity and so many decision to make, but you will handle it all just fine with your beloved by your side. :) It's another adventure with more memories being made. Best wishes for your remodeling projects. Gabby is gorgeous. Hugs, Nancy

  18. Good evening Vera,
    I just sent you an email.
    Thank you so much for coming over to relax on my porch and enjoy the roses.
    Your comments are always appreciated so much.
    Enjoy your evening.
    blessings dear friend,

  19. Remodels always make my head spin and whenever I think of updating anything in our home I just cringe. When we did our little kitchen remodel I was always second guessing myself. Good luck with all the decisions coming your way.
    I love it now that Dale is retired. He was able to fully retire at the age of 57 because in law enforcement Idaho has the rule of 80. It's wonderful, because he is so young that it gives us more time to be together. I love that he gives me my space and I give him his. We are really loving it!
    sending hugs...

  20. Vera,
    Overwhelmed by all your projects! How wonderful to get new soapstone countertops, a glass door fridge, and a professional stove! Looking forward to seeing photos of everything after the projects are finished...


  21. ....just back to look zat all your wonderment going on here. :)
    It is all going to be so awesome.

  22. I finally had time tonight to sit down and read your post.

    Oh, my! So many decisions. I don't think I could handle that much on my plate.

    On an unimportant note, our Viking range does the clicking thing and it drives us nuts.

    I totally understand about the retirement thing. I love Steve dearly, but I also love my alone time. When I was teaching, I had the odd day off and of course the summers. When he retired, I no longer had that odd day off alone.

    Two weeks ago KC moved back to San Francisco and I couldn't figure out what was so different. It finally hit me that when I retired, JP was living with us. This is the first time in retirement that we don't have anyone else living in the house. It is wonderful. Life definitely spins in circles and I am enjoying where we are right now.

    Good luck and have fun with all of the remodeling and the retirement.

  23. Good grief, Vera! You have a full plate, girl. Gabby is beautiful and I'm sure is thriving with your guidance.

  24. Wow, do you ever have a busy life full of decisions! It seems that you have made many good decisions throughout your life! What a beautiful family and home and life you have! God Bless!!