…and I survived!! Yes, friends, the thing I felt I needed to do most urgently once my Soldier deployed was DIY a big ol’ portable kitchen island! Because spouses of the deployed must do those types of things when they’re single parenting/cooking/homeowning/car maintaining/tax-preparing/barely hanging on by a thread. That’s what we do. Well, that’s what I do…because I have issues.
I have issues, but I also know a girl.
I know the girl to go to for building stuff when life is getting in the way. Jen Woodhouse, from The House of Wood, is my “boo-thang”. Call it serendipity, or fate, that brought us together: she and I believe it had to be God. Nothing else can explain how two people who have so much in common are brought together in a world with, like, a gajillion people.
Like any self-respecting wanna-be carpenter would- I stalked Jen. She’s definitely the queen of DIY building projects (at least in my book she is). I stumbled upon her site while searching for plans on how to build a media console and quickly became a fan. Finding out she was also an Army wife sealed the deal for me. One day, Jen posted that she was PCSing (military jargon for “moving”) to Texas; I wet my pants a little after reading that. My little fingers trembled with anticipation as I typed out, “Where are you headed?” trying to sound über-chalant; meanwhile I was bouncing up and down in my desk chair hoping she’d type my military base…she did!!! SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! I was soooo geeked, y’all!!! GEEKED!
Now I had to try to be all cool and introduce myself. I tried my hardest not to sound like a stalker…even though I was…kind of. I sent her a pleasant message letting her know I was also stationed here and that if,”You know, you ever need anything, hey, I’m here! You know? I cook good too!” Too much? It may have been too much. So I ended with, “OH!! And I’m totally not a stalker.” Jen either believed me or had me vetted through our military spouse accreditation society (that’s not a real thing, by the way), because she messaged me back and we chatted more.
Turns out we had a mutual friend, whom she probably called and asked, “Is this chick psycho?” Karen (you’ve read about her in the Breakfast chapter of the cookbook) is not only a mutual friend, but a very close friend of both mine and Jen’s. It’s not uncommon for military wives to have mutual friends, but it is rare to find mutual besties. Karen is that to us, so it only made sense for us to get to know one another, blog aside. Turns out Jen was moving to my subdivision- five streets down from me! We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.
Once Jen and her husband, Adam, were settled, we had them over for dinner. I briefed my husband not to be to curmudgeon-y. He told me he didn’t like strangers, but that he would,”Try.” I cringed. He was going to ruin it for me. I was going to make a new friend, and he was going to scare them off.
Now, most military wives will tell you that the scariest thing is meeting and falling in love with a new friend, only to have one or the other’s husband come home from a deployment and absolutely hate the friend or the husband- or both. Everything gets weird and your new friend becomes an acquaintance. I didn’t want that happening with Jen. Never mind the fact that I didn’t even know Jen personally; I wanted to be friends and that was that.
Adam and Jen arrived with their gorgeous son and daughter and I waited with bated breath to see just how awkward this was going to be. Everyone said their obligatory “Hello’s” and we sat down to dinner- well, appetizers. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but somewhere between bruschetta and salad, Adam said, “You’re a daisy if ya’ do.” Muzak started playing and a wind machine started blowing from somewhere; slowly, Hector lifted his head to gaze across the table at Adam with misty eyes…”I’m your Huckleberry.” Music crescendoed annnnddd fade to black. Jen and I stared at each other, confused.
They both knew and quoted lines from the movie Tombstone to each other. They were both painfully (embarrassingly) sarcastic. Both enjoyed drinking whiskey and firing guns (not at the same time). They were in love.
As the night progressed, Adam and Hector shared all their hopes and dreams, and declared each other “Bro-friends”- not really… but, yeah, kinda. Jen and I discovered, eerily, how much we had in common: weird husbands who quote wild wild west movies and are soldiers, we were both Air Force brats, perfectionists, artistic, homeschool moms and, of course, Army wives and bloggers. We were- the four of us- matches made in heaven.
SO!! All that’s to say: it was only natural that when I needed a portable kitchen island to use for cooking videos, that I called Jen and asked her to draw up plans. I had my eye on a kitchen island from Ikea; one that came highly recommended by many vloggers and blogger who are creating videos as I aspire to do. But, while I love me some Ikea, this particular kitchen island was 400 bucks worth of particle board. I’m sure it serves its purpose and, again, no shade to Ikea, but if I’m going to invest in something, I want it to be quality and I want it to last. Scouring the internet for more kitchen islands left me spending upwards of 500 dollars for something I thought was, “A’ight,” and even more dough needed to be spent to have the big, bulky thing shipped.
Jen was my answer. The woman is sick with furniture plans, you guys, sick. I think the turn around was 48 hours. I opened the PDF file like a kid on Christmas. It was perfect. Even more perfect was the way she wrote the plans for the kitchen island. Like a recipe, and we all know how I feel about a recipe. I’m not a visual or an auditory learner, and only on good days am I a read-write learner. I truly learn best kinesthetically. I need to do in order to learn correctly. With Jen’s plans, I was not only able to read what I needed to do to make this, pretty impressive, kitchen island, I was also able to do everything I was instructed to do without having someone show me firsthand. That is notable to a gal like me.
All that aside, what I was more in love with is the fact that my kitchen island was designed to my specs. I didn’t have to compromise on a single thing, which in this day and age, is hard to find. Being able to use real wood (pine), building it so it was tall enough for my frame, painting it the color I longed for (no “blah” white), and Jen even pointing me in the right direction to buy a solid butcher’s block (read: not particle board with a hardwood veneer), made me one happy woman.
I still needed to build this thing, and I was planning to build it whilst homeschooling the Twinksters, coordinating a large body of soldiers’ departure overseas, making sure their families were well taken care of and informed, and keep my household running like a well-oiled machine. It appeared to be a daunting task to say the least. Yet again, here’s where amazing plans come into place: Jen’s plans tell you, in advance, what materials you will need- down to the screws. I have a lot of power tools on hand, so the only things I needed to purchase were the lumber, paint, and the butcher’s block. Oh! And paintbrushes because I’m a self-admitted sorry excuse for a paintbrush cleaner and, instead of waiting for the paint thinner to do its job, I throw them away. For shame, I know.
Now, I’m not a fan of lots of sawdust. So, I had the guys at Home Depot cut my plywood using the cut list Jen provided for the kitchen island. How was I able to do that? Well, because Jen provides a “Cut List” on her plans! A “Cut List”! Genius. So, I gots mah wood cut, and sauntered out of the ‘Depot like a boss because I knew half of my work was already done.
Rolled up to the crib with my lumber, my paint and my…not with my pocket screws. I drove back to Home Depot and slunk back out with pocket screws in hand. I learned not to be overly confident. But, NOW, I had everything I needed. Following the instructions for the kitchen island were a breeze.
Drill pocket holes using a Kreg jig (I love this thing by the way).
Attach pieces with wood glue and pocket screws.
Assemble, sand, paint, seal, and done.
For real. Just like that. I spent a little more time paying close attention to all of the above because I’m NOTORIOUS for screwing some shelf support upside down or cutting something an inch too short. I did a great job if I do say so myself- and I do…say so…myself. Of course, I had to have Jen come over and
praise me like a little child who’d just pee-pee’d in the potty check out my work. I think she was proud. In fact, we’re both so proud, the plans for this amazing kitchen island are now yours too! But, not Jen. She’s mine.
So proud, in fact, that I overlooked the sheer annoyance I should’ve felt when I realized I was missing ONE piece to finish my recording set-up. C’est la vie! I guess I’ll have to sit back and gaze, admiringly, at my beloved kitchen island while I await Amazon’s knock on the door.
Here’s to stalkers turned besties! Love you, Jen! Pin it. Share it. Build it! Love it!