Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gluten Free Chicken Fried Steak

I have been blessed with the most wonderful husband who also happens to be a great cook! He guest blogged today. 

Hannah and I started dating about a year after most of her family went gluten free.  I embraced the idea of cooking gluten free from the beginning.  To me, it wasn't a burden that I had to put up with if I wanted to be with Hannah, it was a challenge to create great food that tasted as good... if not better... than the gluten alternative.  When we got married, the general rule we have for the house is that even if I may not be completely gluten free at work and such (I am a teacher... school lunches...) at home we cook gluten free.  It is not fair to Hannah to bring a ton of gluten into the house.

I love Chicken Fried Steak.  My ideal version is at Lee's Fried Chicken in Lincoln, NE.  Dad and I have been going there for 20+ years after Nebraska Cornhusker football games.  I have ordered the same thing... Chicken Fried Steak, Hash Browns, and Chicken Gravy.  In some parts of the country, people put white cream gravy or brown gravy... I prefer neon yellow chicken gravy on my Chicken Fried Steak.   This is my take on Midwest Chicken Fried Steak.  The chicken bouillon we use does not contain any artificial dye, so my gravy did not get very yellow... but it did taste very good.  While I like hash browns a lot... the girls eat mashed potatoes better.

Chicken Fried Steak and Mashed Potatoes 
with Chicken Gravy

Chicken Fried Steak
4 Cubed steaks
3/4 Cup Flour Mix
1/2 Cup Potato Starch
1 tbls Onion Powder
1 tbls Garlic Powder
Pinch or two of Ground Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk
Oil for Frying

1 Can Chicken Broth
2-3 Carrots, cut up
2 Stocks of Celery, cut up
1 Onion, Cut up
2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
4 tsp. Chicken Bouillon
1 Cup Milk
4 tbls. Butter
2 tbls. Corn Starch
Salt and Pepper to taste

4-5 Russet Potatoes
Milk and Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste


Peel potatoes, cut into quarters, put in pot with enough water to cover.  Put on Medium High Heat

In medium pot, add first 5 ingredients for gravy, put on medium heat.  Add half a can of water

Mix dry ingredients for the steaks.  Dredge steaks through flour mix, pressing flour into steaks.  Set steaks aside

Mix egg and milk in a bowl.  Heat oil in large, heavy pan.

When oil is hot, dredge steaks through egg wash and then through flour again.  Coat well with flour and put in pan... fry until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel lined plate.  A note: I don't do the egg wash and final coating until I am about to put them in the oil.

When potatoes are tender (fork goes through easily) drain.  Add milk and about 4 tbls. of butter.  Add enough milk that when blended, everything is smooth.  Go little by little.

For gravy, strain solids out of broth.  Add bullion.  Mix corn starch and milk in a small cup until corn starch is dissolved.  Add to broth.  Bring gravy to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I often add more garlic and onion powder too).


Monday, September 17, 2012

Flour Mix

I have tried a bunch of different gluten free flour mixes. The pre-mixed ones you can buy are usually too expensive and a lot of them have bean flour in them. I really dislike the flavor of bean flour. I have come up with a flour mix that I can make at home, it is not as expensive as buying it, and it taste great! 

1 cup rice flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sorgum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Dear Readers,

I am sorry for my long and sudden absence. Life did not go as planned this summer (does it ever really?). I took a 2 week break while on vacation visiting my parents. It was a glorious and wonderful trip! We returned home and the next week my grandmother went in the hospital a very short 6 weeks later I was packing my bags to attend her funeral.

My grandparents live out on a farm in a town called Redfield. Every time anyone went to visit Grandma fed them. You would walk in the house and food would come flying out. My uncle likened it to the feeding of the 5 thousand. She was most famous for her casseroles. Each one of us kids thought she made those casseroles just for them! She had a way of making everyone feel special.

My grandmother loved her family more than life. Family was not limited to blood relations though. One of my cousins said, "Surely we are not the only family that has conversations that begin with 'What do you mean we aren't actually related?'" I am pretty sure the entire town of Redfield felt like family and the entire town of Redfield showed up to her funeral.

She had a wicked sense of humor and if you weren't on your guard she would get you! I think everyone's favorite story was from when she and Grandpa were dating. Grandpa had made her mad. One night while studying he got a call from a radio station saying that if he could name Roy Roger's horse he would win a prize. He correctly answered the question and the radio station said, "Congratulations! You just won a pound of horse manure!" Sure enough a few days later in the mail he received a tin that looked like his mother's cookies. Grandma convinced him to open it in the student union and it was horse manure. Grandma swore she had nothing to do with it. The fact that her dorm was fertilized with horse manure the week before was pure coincidence!

I am going to miss visiting with Grandma. I am going to miss her massive amount of food she always had on hand (3 freezers, 2 refrigerators, and a huge pantry... no joke!) I am going to miss seeing her in her chair with her cup of coffee watching the humming birds. To be honest, I don't know that I want to go to Redfield again and not have her there.

 My wonderful and amazingly talented cousin, Christin Byrd, put this together. It is a picture of Grandma's 4 children, 17 grand-children, 15 great-grand-children, all the in-laws, and some adopted family members who might as well be blood related.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Time Again!

I love the Olympics! I always have! I remember when I was younger it was the one time my mother slowed down, let her hair down, and watched TV. We would all sit around the TV every night and watch the athletes complete incredible feats. Other than the Olympics we almost never watched TV.

The year after Tom and I got married the Beijing Olympics came on. We didn't have a good TV to watch it with but the majority of the events were live streamed on the internet and Tom had a big screen computer. But last Olympics almost nothing was on the internet. I was so upset. I thought I would miss all the ice skating and skying. My parents took pity on me and helped me buy a TV .... just so I could watch the Olympics.

Like my parents I almost never watch TV except for the Olympics! I am going to have a party and greatly enjoy the opening ceremony tonight! I can't wait to introduce my girls to the joys of the Olympics!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dempsey Bakery

While on vacation I had the wonderful treat of making a pilgrimage to the Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, AR. I say pilgrimage because it is simply the best gluten free bakery you will find anywhere. When you walk in the door it is set to look like a 1950s diner. It has red and white flooring and the walls are lined with black and white pictures of the gluten free family members of Mrs. Dempsey. They are inspiration behind the magic.

I can honestly say I have eaten many desserts there, breads, pizza crust, and so on and have never tasted anything less than the best gluten free food I have every had. My favorite bread from them is the Hearty Italian Bread. My husband and I bought a pizza crust, put our favorite toppings on it, and baked it... let me tell you it was the best gluten free pizza! I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

What I love most about the Dempsey Bakery is that they want to work with everyone's diet. They have a completely soy and nut free facility. It is the only place I can buy a cake for my mother that it gluten free, soy free, egg free, dairy free, and yeast free. You can walk into their bakery and say I need something that doesn't have ---- and they will find something to fit your requirements!

We had the joy of talking to Mrs. Dempsey while we were there and she was telling us that she is trying to work out a program with the hospitals where she provides meals that are gluten free, egg free, and so on! That would be amazing! When I was in the hospital giving birth I put on my forms my meal had to be gluten free they assumed gluten was the same of sugar so they sent me only sugar free items. Needless to say my husband wound up bringing all my food to the hospital. It would be wonderful if a place such as Dempsey could solve that problem for the gluten free community.

Dempsey Bakery has only been open for about a year but it is already making a huge impact on the gluten free community in Arkansas and I hope they grow bigger and stronger and I hope they become more widely available soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Husband's Project

I don't normally use my page to advertise but..... just this once please check it out!

My amazing husband is doing a kickstarter program to help him find the funding to teach children geography in a new interactive challenging way. He says that in history the people who understood geography the best were ship-men because they understood celestial navigation. With a combination of the old fashioned sextant and the newer GPS devices he hopes to be able to teach geography and history in a whole new way. Please check out his page

My Comedy of Errors

I haven't blogged in about 3 weeks. First I was on a wonderful amazing vacation! Then I came home and life hit hard and fast. I have been home for over a week now but we have dealt with head colds, fixed the AC, still dealing with a mysterious rash on my youngest, working on figuring out why children suddenly think sleep is not for them, helped my brother-in-law out while he was in the middle of a move, had company, having more company, my husband has returned to work and the issues they have there.... the list goes on. But rather than bore you with a list of why I haven't blogged I am just going to tell you about my morning.

My Comedy of Errors:

The past 2 nights I have had insomnia for some bizarre reason. After falling asleep around 1 am this morning Zizzy woke at 6am. I could barely keep my eyes open! Zizzy fell asleep on top of me around 7:30 or 8 only to have Dede wake up coughing. Dede's coughing woke Zizzy with a start and she started screaming, "I WANT DONUTS! I WANT DONUTS!" I replied, "I am sorry but I don't have any." That was received with screaming and wailing. I watch as the minutes slowly ticked by thinking, "My father in law is going to be here any minutes I HAVE TO GET DRESSED!" Sure enough before I had clothes on I saw his car pull in. I had layed out clothes the night before so I would not be caught unprepared as I have so many times in the past. Since the curtains were closed in the living room I quickly started changing. Tom walk in and raised his eye brows I said, "NOT ONE WORD!" My father in law dropped of my vegetables and left after a brief visit.

Tom left for work and I started preparing for our company tonight. Zizzy scaled the bathroom counter and started playing in the sink. I heard the water running but figured it would be ok to deal with that in a minute.... I was wrong.... a second later I heard the water overflowing and Zizzy screaming. I ran in to discover she dropped a cap into the sink just perfectly to completely clog the sink. I tried to pull the cap out but only succeeded in pushing the cap further down and thus making a bad situation worse. I called Tom.

While on the phone explaining the situation to Tom Zizzy starts yelling in the background, "I POOPING! I POOPING!" I reassure her I will change her diaper in a minute only to discover that in an attempt to poop in the potty she took her diaper off mid poop and was now covered. I quickly hung up on Tom and ran to clean up my child.

Once Zizzy was cleaned up I attempted to change Dede out of one of the Tutu's she now lives in so that we could go to the grocery store and pick up supplies for tonight's company. Dede did not think that was a good idea or necessary. As I am fighting her Zizzy slips into Tom's office and gets into his fountain pens and is now covered in ink.

sigh..... Thank goodness for nap time!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Fairy Tale

Five years ago today I married the most amazing man I have ever been blessed to meet. Since then life has flown by at amazing speeds and each time I stop to contimplate life I am amazed at how deeply blessed I am and how far we have come!

In the last 5 years I have graduated from college, watched my husband graduate from college, had 2 children, moved across 3 states, bought my first house, supported my husband's decision to return to school for a masters in teaching, learned how to garden, made friends, learned more than I ever wanted to know about air conditioning, helped my husband build a family table, and ultimately learned that I know nothing.

I am not an immaculate house keeper. I am not a perfect wife nor a perfect mother. I find though that that doesn't matter. What I have learned in the past 5 years is no matter what my husband loves me with an unconditional love. It is like a small taste of what God's love must be. I have learned my children don't want a perfect mother, they want me.

I have found I love my husband and my children more than I knew it was possible to love. It is like my husband's and my love for each-other started out as a small creek when we where dating, by the time we got married it had turned into a river, through the years our love continues to grow as though it is becoming an unstoppable ocean. When I think about our love for each-other, when I think of all the things we have done in the last 5 years, when I look into what the future could hold, I am overwhelmed with happiness. I have become a firm believer in fairy tales and happy endings because I am living mine.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Baby Boom

A couple of months ago started feeling like I should have another baby. I found it odd that all of the sudden I had this urge to have another baby. Then I started noticing that everywhere I go I am surrounded by pregnant women! I started telling my family about how everyone is pregnant! I could tell they thought I was exaggerating.  It would be safe to assume my dream of having a big family was getting the best of me... well they were wrong! 

Today in my play group two more women announced they are pregnant. My good friend said, "It is so strange. Everyone except me is pregnant!" I commiserated with her and said I feel the exact same way. Then we looked around the room and did a head count. Out of 20 moms who attend the play group only 3 were not pregnant! All of the moms said it is the same at church, in their families, everywhere. I don't know if this is just a strange baby boom or what, but it gave me pause for thought.

I don't feel the need to be pregnant because I want a large family (I do want a big family), or because my baby is not so much a baby anymore, but because almost everyone I know is pregnant! If I found out I am joining the baby boom I would not be upset but I don't feel that urge to be pregnant anymore.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Death of My Deep Freeze

My parents found an old deep freeze a couple of years ago that someone was just throwing away so they gave it to us. I dreamed of bulk buying, and menu planning a month in advance. I did do some bulk buying but the menu plans didn't happen. Still, I loved the fact I had a deep freeze that opened up my options on things I could do or dream about doing.

When we moved into our house the owners before us had a deep freeze in the garage so that is where we decided to put ours. It worked for them right? That summer was one of the hottest summers on record. I read this year that putting a freezer in the garage where it is exposed to the extreme heat of summer is actually bad for it and can run up your electric bill. I decided to move the deep freeze in house as soon as the first mild heat wave of the summer hit!

As soon as my husband got it in the house it started leaking brown liquid everywhere, by the next morning it stank to high heaven! My amazing and wonderful husband looked to see if it could be repaired but it was beyond help. Sadly we moved it outside and let it sit in the yard while we tried to figure out what to do with it.

A few days later two men approached my husband and said, "That deep freeze broken?"
Tom, "Yes...."
Men, "Can we have it?"
Tom, "sure........I guess..... it is completely broken and stinks."
Men, "No problem! Thank you so much for letting us have it! You don't know what this means to us!"
Tom, "ummm.... Your welcome.... Thank you for taking it away!"

Two minutes later they pulled into our drive way loaded it up and drove away with huge smiles on their faces as though we had done them a favor!

I will miss my deep freeze but I am glad it is gone!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Starting the Gluten Free Diet

I wanted to write a post for those just starting on the gluten free diet. Here are my top 10 pieces of advice for those starting out on the gluten free diet.

1) Say "Yes" to feeling good. It is harder than it sounds. You are at friends house and they bring out your favorite dessert or the whole dinner has gluten in it. Say "Yes" to feeling good by sticking to the diet no matter what.

2) When you grocery shop travel the outer parameter of the grocery store first. That is where you find produce, dairy, meat, things that are naturally gluten free.

3) Think outside the box. I like to tell people who are going gluten free to look at it like you are going to a foreign country. You are not going to expect to eat the same food in India that you eat in America. Look at Asian recipes that are based in rice or Mexican food that is based in corn. We have discovered lots of food from all over the world that is not based in gluten and taste amazing! I have discovered Asian Markets! They are amazing! I buy my potato and tapioca starch for next to nothing as well as discovering all kinds of Asian food I had never even heard of before.

4)You can keep your favorite food at a grill out simply by changing one thing. You can wrap your hamburger in a lettuce leaf instead of using bread. Instead of barbecue sandwich eat barbecue nachos corn chips.

5) Realize that a lot of what you eat is gluten free. Meat, potatoes, rice, vegetable, fruit are all gluten free!

6) The hardest part of the diet is the first 6 months. That is when you have to figure out how to shop, how to cook, how to explain it to others, how to eat out or how not to eat out. After 6 months you kind of have a routine down and it gets easier. It sometimes even starts to become fun. I love to find new foods or recipes to try.

7) The internet is a great resource to find list of what is or is not gluten free. There are a lot of wonderful resources out there. A great place to start I think is this website.

8) Find a good flour mix that you can substitute for most things. You can buy one at the store or make your own. My favorite flour mix is: 

1 cup rice flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sorgum flour
4 tsp. xanthum gum

9) Most people eat 9 meals over and over. Type up those recipes with a list of ingredients you need. Take that to the grocery store with you and make sure you have what you need to make those meals. Also, make a list of gluten free snacks you like and buy those with your ingredients. That way you always have something to eat and never feel hungry. It is when you feel hungry that you feel deprived. 

10) Remember that even when this diet gets hard you can still eat sugar and chocolate! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rebecca's Bread

This is an older recipe but I have had more request for this one than any of my other recipes. I hope you enjoy!

I have not been able to make GF white bread that I like yet. I have a friend however who has used her bread machine to make this bread. She loves it! I have had it once and really liked it. I was wondering if any of you have used bread machines to make bread? Was it successful? How did it taste? Here is Rebbecca's recipe. 

3 large eggs room temp

1 tsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cup milk room temp

2 cups rice flour (white or brown rice flour. Rebbecca prefers brown.)

1/2 cup potato starch

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 tbsp xanthum gum

5 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Bread machine instructions are to put the wet ingredients in first, then dry, placing the yeast in a depression made in the center of the dry ingredients, not allowing them to be wetted by the liquid ingredients. this is then mixed by the machine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Very Long Night

Hello friends,

I had planned to do a blog on alternative foods of ethic origin that are naturally gluten free today. Last night, however, was horrible and terribly long! I am too brain dead to write a blog that would do justice to the topic.

Last night started out great with my husband and I sitting down to watch a movie on Netflix. Only Netflix no longer has the movie we wanted to watch. So we flipped through Netflix while talking trying to decide what to do instead. We settled on watching a Dr. Who episode. It was one of those awful creepy ones that turned out be a 2-part episode. After that we did not feel like going to bed with that fresh on our minds so we decided to talk. We got deep into our conversation and lost complete track of time. I was amazed to realize it was already 1 am. I had a long day today planned so I rushed to bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow Deedee (my 3-year-old. Not her real name that is what my 2-year-old has decided to call her) started screaming on the top of her lungs! I ran to her room and could not figure out what was wrong. She screamed if I gave her blanket, screamed if I didn't give her blanket, screamed if I took her potty, screamed if I didn't take her potty, screamed if I rocked her, screamed if I didn't rock her... I could not figure out what to do!

My husband came down with a bug and got sick to his stomach. He had to lay down on the rocker recliner (that is the only place he can sleep while feeling bad).

I watched as the clock ticked past 2, past 3, finally I just swooped her up and layed her down on my husband's place on the bed. I quickly fell asleep.

My 2-year-old, however, slept through the whole thing and woke at 6:30. Today I am awake thanks to copious amounts of Diet Coke. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a brain again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Parents Crazy Trip

My parents are saints. Ok... maybe not saints but darn near it! You will agree when you hear what they have been doing for the last 3 weeks. My parents drove 1,321 miles to my brother's house. They kept his 6 children, ages 12 to 2, giving my brother and his wife the chance to take a trip of a life time to Europe! Oh, did I mention my brother was gone for 3 weeks?

My brother's wife is one of 10 children and she is the only girl. Two of her brothers have been ordained priest in Europe. One of them was ordained last week (hence the trip). This was her only real chance to go over see where her brothers live, how they live, and what exactly they are doing in their perspective orders. While they were there they swung over to Rome (since they were that close.... WHY NOT) and spent a week or so touring Rome and having that Honeymoon they never got.

My parents took 6 children to ballet, swimming, the library, and wherever else they could think of. My mother, being the compulsive woman that she is, went ahead and scrubbed the entire house from top to bottom, reorganized cabinets, cleaned out the garage, pulled all the weeds out of the yard, and did all those pesky projects my sister-in-law wanted done but didn't really want to do. My sister-in-law was so impressed she told my mother, "I need you to come visit and reorganize my house every summer!"

My parents are now on their way back home to their quiet house and their own bed. They loved the time they had with their grandchildren but admit being ready to just be home. Although the house won't be quiet for long... more grandchildren hope to visit before the end of the summer! 

As they were headed home they did honor us by stopping by for breakfast. My girls were estactic to see "Grammy and Poppey"! They jumped up and down and ran around! They had books read to them, they were flipped around, danced with, went outside to play, and had a WONDERFUL time! My parents had planned to only stop for a short period of time but wound up staying until almost lunch time. As they left my 3-year-old looked at me and said, "I want to go home with Grammy and Poppy! Please may I go Grammy and Poppy house!"

It was such an exciting event to have them drop by I think nap time is out of the question today! Oh...well.... I hear children yelling instead of sleeping. I think I better go check.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What We All Miss Being Gluten Free

It is hard to make the transition to being gluten free. There are certain foods that just are not the same gluten free, and there are some that are better. You learn a whole new way of looking at food. I personally have never been able to figure out how to home make a good loaf of bread. Growing up, my mother made bread all the time and was known all over the town we came from for her bread. But I can't seem to recreate that magic. I keep hoping to come upon just the right recipe. As I contemplated one day what I missed I asked the question on facebook, "What do you miss being gluten free?"

I received answers from Ritz Crackers, Cream of Soups, Real ice cream sandwiches, french toast, Pretzels, pastys, soup, powdered donuts, State Fair Cheese Curds, and even one lady from New York said she misses Kaiser Rolls, bagels, and pizza.

What I really enjoyed seeing happen when I asked my question was how many people came forward with information, recipes, or solutions to what different people missed. I thought I might share some of that with you here today.

Bread seemed to be a big theme so I will start off with that:

Udi bread came up several times. One lady stated that she uses "the french toast on the "crunchy side" (not mushy)..I have been making french toast with Udi's plain bagels and it is really good! I cut the bagel across in 3 slices (instead of in half to make it thinner) and dip in mixture of eggs, water and cinnamon and cook in the skillet!"

Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, AR has amazing bread! (I can personally attest to that from a recent visit to Arkansas!) They are small and have just started up with in the last 2 years. They do ship however! They do make all of their breads soy free as well, which is a huge plus for my family since both my mother and brother can't have soy. They also make a lot of egg and dairy free options so they can serve as many members of the gluten free world as possible.

Soups became the other big theme:

One lady posted this link to recipes of cream of soups. It is not gluten free but we discussed on the board how you can substitute either a flour mix (one person suggested King Arthur's AP flour mix). I personally prefer to use corn starch. I think it taste better and works very well. The only thing is add is slowly so that it doesn't "gel" too quickly on you become too thick (or mix it in a small cup with some cold liquid before adding it to the soup).

Last but certainly not least we talked about Ice Cream Sandwiches! Which is a perfect topic right now as it is summer time and it is getting hot outside!

Glutenfreeda's apparently has ice cream sandwhiches but I have never tried them. Have any of you? Do they taste good?

One lady posted this amazing website that has a recipe for making your own gluten free ice cream sandwiches! I will have to try making these soon... and then I will post here how it worked out!

I still have a few things made from gluten that I miss but really I have found a whole new way of cooking and foods that I never knew existed before. My wonderful husband and I have delved into more ethnic foods that are naturally gluten free. Mexican food is based more in corn than wheat or Asian food that is based in rice. But that belongs in another whole different post! 

What have you missed being gluten free? What foods have you discovered being gluten free?  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm Back!!!

Hello world!

After a year hiatus from blogging I have decided to dip my toes back into this crazy world! I originally wasn't going to come back at all, because I wasn't sure anyone was reading my blog, or if it mattered... but I have watched my facebook page explode to over 200 followers and I have had several people state that they miss my blog.

For those of you who don't know what I am about, I am a Catholic, gluten free, fun loving, mommy. I constantly make mistakes and laugh at myself.  I am human... sometimes I struggle with daily life. I am a normal mom who loves my children and my husband!

This blog is about my life. I have gluten free resources and recipes, cute stories about my girls and I discuss everyday run-of-the-mill mommy struggles. I hope you laugh and cry with me as I find my way through the jungle of mommydom!

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Dining Room Table

Tom (my husband) guest blogged our recent table building project:

There are some fundamental realities in having health related diets... you can't afford an "oops" or just let one meal slide and do the fast food thing... because your in a rush.  The reality is, you eat most of your meals at home.  We eat most of our meals at home.  We have two small children and we don't watch much TV as it is... so all of our meals are at our dining room table.

We were given a wonderful table right before we got married... 5 years ago... it was a hand-me-down from some family friends and we cherished it.  The table was always slim and had rounded ends so it was hard to put more than two chairs on a side.  A few years ago, our toddler at that time smashed a napkin holder into the table and caused a small crack.  The crack spread and is now threatening the viability of the table.  The table has gotten wobblier (it's a real word) over time.  We have needed a new one for a little while now.  I asked Hannah to find what she liked and we would see what we could do.  

She liked the rustic farm tables, but there was no way we could afford the size and type she wanted... so I pondered... surfed the web... visited Amish furniture craftsman (no joke) and came up with a plan.  I also have the plans in a pdf -->> Rustic Farm Table Plans.  If you use the plans and the table falls apart on you... I take no responsibility, I tweak things as I go and make changes here and there.  Make cuts that are convenient for you.  I made this more durable than it probably needs to be... but I have two small children.  You can make it bigger, smaller, etc... use common sense.  Don't cut your fingers off... that is bad.

Trip to the Hardware Store:

For wood, I used whiteboard (read pine) for everything.  The 4x4s are pressure treated because that is all I could find when I went shopping, but this would also look swanky with 3x3 boards for legs

2-  1x12x6 (for the top)
2-  1x10x6 (for the top)
3-  2x4x8  (for the skirt)
2-  4x4x8  (for the legs... your going to cut them in half)
5-  1x3x4  (for the braces)

1 small box of 1-1/4 inch wood screws
1 small box of 2-1/2 inch wood screws
8- 6" carriage bolts with a washer and nut
12 - 1" x 1/2" brackets

paint, stain, and polyurethane for the way you want it (more on that in a bit)


I started building the top.  Lay the 10" boards next to each other to form the center of the table, and the 12" boards on the outside.  This makes a nice 41" wide table. I cut the braces a little longer than the diagram shows, because I did not want a lot of lip sticking out, but I did want it to be extra sturdy. 

I would go a little longer than the 2 feet 5 inches... but when I drew it up I wasn't sure how much I would need. Try to put two screws in each. Use the 1-1/4 inch screws so that they don't poke through the other side. Use glue, don't use glue, it is up to you. I would at least put glue under the braces. if you have a router table, or a dado blade on your table saw... feel free to join them together with... joints.

Next, build the skirt. Cut the 2x4 so that they are long enough and wide enough to form a box bigger than your braces, but smaller than your table ... doh... thank-you captain obvious.

I used 45 degree cuts so that they boxed in nicely... you don't have to.  I feel like it is sturdier becuase of it, and I prefer the look... but that is me.  Use the 2-1/2" screws for this.  I put three per corner ... two on one side, one on the other.

Cut the 4x4s in half to make them more manageable ... or just cut them the length you need, depending on your setup.  I made sure I had one "factory" end to go on the floor because it makes me feel better.  The table needs to be about 29-1/2" tall, your table top surface is about 3/4" thick, so cut the legs to fit.  I made mine a hair taller so that the highchair can slide under the skirt, but short enough so that the toddler can still reach the table.  Mine is probably 29-3/4" tall.

Also, save yourself some trouble, and don't make the top of the legs flush with the top edge of the skirt, give yourself some room when you cut and attach because you don't want the legs pushing up the table top...  you want the top resting on the skirt.

At this point, make sure everything fits.  If you are ready to attach, use 1" x 1/2" brackets to attach the underside of the skirt to the underside of the table.  4 on each side, 2 on each end.

You have color choices.  I like the cherry on white.  


Wood top with black trim, or all stained are good options too.  I like cherry on white.

I kept the top and the base separate while I painted and stained. Hannah did help paint the base... and she did a great job. The girls watched me stain.

 The completed project.

And it fit inside:

Tom also posted this on his blog with bigger pictures, etc...