Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cajun Corner Vol. 2, No. 44

Cajun Corner – Vol. 2, No. 44 – November 13, 2010

Bon Jour! Welcome to Cajun Stitchery’s weekly email and welcome to our family.


Don’t forget to visit our catalog at and often.

I still haven’t received the certified copy of my birth certificate.

This coming Sunday, tomorrow, is going to be the first Cajun Stitchery Party. I’m pretty nervous about this. My friend, Lois, who is a sales person extraordinaire, suggested that we use the old Tupperware Party idea and have Cajun Stitchery Parties because, as you know, my only store front is on the internet. This way people can see our products. Of course, Cajun Stitchery does embroidery on ready-made items but apparently people like the items that I make and put on Etsy or for the Arts and Craft Festival. I guess you have to go where the sales are. Since I am Cajun, after all, it is in my genes to veer toward parties. We can always find a reason to party. We are asking each of the invited guests to bring people with them who have never heard of Cajun Stitchery.

The party is going to be at another friend’s home, Dee. I’m going early, not only to set up for the party, but also because I’m not familiar with the area where Dee lives. Hope I can find it. What I do know is that my car is going to be packed with stuff. Lois calls me every so often and says “don’t forget to bring” this and that. She will tell me that “Oh, you should make some of these for the party.” I’m working my little tail off for this party. It’s a darn good thing that I love to sew and embroider so much. If this works as well as Lois thinks it will, I have another friend in Mobile who wants to have a Cajun Stitchery Party.

All of this Cajun Stitchery Party stuff brings me to the house next door. A brief update, for those who don’t know, is that we bought the house next door in 2005, after Hurricane Ivan. Our elderly neighbor needed to move into an assisted living facility. Our plans, originally, were to let George remodel the house and then we would rent it. As time went by the remodeling was coming along but very slowly since one person was working on the house and that house was a mess. Then Mama decided that she wanted to move into that house and rent it. Well, by the time Mama sold her apartments and moved here, the house wasn’t ready and Mama was ill. George stopped working on the house to take care of Mama, and did so until the day she died. The work on the house just stopped at that point. This year we’ve decided that house would be perfect for Cajun Stitchery Headquarters and we’ve begun working on it again. George is finishing up the walls and we have some big items that are needed, like a new AC and heating units, water heater, toilets, sinks, tubs, kitchen, etc. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to finishing that house and I am glad we are back on track with it.

When the house is finished and Cajun Stitchery does move in, we will definitely have an open house. A friend of mine suggested a monthly open house for Cajun Stitchery where all of our products are displayed as though in a store. I’ve been playing with that idea all week, since she mentioned it, and I really like that idea.

I’m so proud of George and myself because ever since we decided that this house would be a no smoking house, we have not smoked in the house, at all. My neighbors can attest to this fact because I see them much more frequently as I’m outside a lot more than usual. Another plus to smoking outside is that it automatically curbed our smoking and we have both cut down significantly.

Also, since I’m outdoors more often now, I’ve noticed that some things in our adorable little neighborhood have started getting, what we call the “ghetto look.” There was a homeless person who took up residence in the park. Because of that, the kids and joggers stopped using the park. A couple of lots have piles of furniture outside that have been there fore several weeks and a few other tidbits. I reported this to our Commissioner’s office and things started happening. Although, I must say that the piles of furniture have not been removed and I’ll have to contact the Commissioner’s office again on Monday.

If you are not familiar with our little neighborhood, a brief history is that prior to Ivan this neighborhood started taking a down turn. We started noticing some drug trafficking, abandoned homes, and it was becoming unsavory. In fact, there was a time that George and I considered moving. But we love the neighborhood. When Hurricane Ivan hit, it kind of cleaned up the area because you had to clean up and people had no electricity and we were all outdoors and met our neighbors and started to become a community again. Then, the Sheriff’s Department did a big sweep in a very bad neighborhood several miles away on Cervantes Street. They cleaned out the drugs and the prostitution, etc., and those people were taking back their neighborhood. Well, the drugs and prostitution had to go somewhere and landed in and around our neighborhood. Those of us who own our homes here and have lived here for a long time took our neighborhood back. We have worked hard, together, to bring this area back to life and what I like to call the Mayberry kind of community. There are still some problems and it seems that if we let one problem go, a multitude start to follow. We aren’t being pretentious or uppity. We are simply keeping our neighborhood safe. The nice thing is that our Commissioner and Sheriff and various county departments have and are working with us. The wheels of law spin slowly and some problems take awhile to fix, but we stay on top of everything and persevere.

Remember the free sofa cleaning. We got it! Elite Cleaning came here this past Wednesday and cleaned our sofa. And it was really dirty. It was one of those things where it was embarrassing to have it cleaned. They did a great job. My friend from WBL, Elizabeth, and her father came over and did the cleaning. For the most part, the animals stayed away but Evie sure did take a liking to Elizabeth and was curious as to what they were doing in the living room. So, Evie would go investigate and learned that she got petted each time she went in there. Evie pretty much hung out with Elizabeth and her father. Afterwards, Elizabeth stayed behind and we had a wonderful chat and cup of coffee on the deck. The Blue Angels periodically flew overhead. It was such a perfect day. I got to know Elizabeth much better than just attending meetings with her. She is a delightful person and I do hope we have many more visits. Thank you, Donna, for giving me this wonderful sofa cleaning gift.

On Tuesday, I met another friend from WBL for lunch, Patti Hall. Patti owns a promotional business that she works from her home and has been doing so for many years. It is such a small world because it turns out that Patti and I have several friends in common. Even better than that, we have found areas where we can assist each other in business. She can handle the promotions and I can embroider. We even discussed joining forces on some parties like the Cajun Stitchery Party to show all that both of us can do. That would be fun.

The Arts Festival was a lot of fun last Saturday. We saw several friends there and afterward George took me out to eat.

I embroidered a set of 8 napkins and a wine bottle apron and sent them to my son, Hank. I still cannot believe that they didn’t realize that my business is embroidery.

Christmas is coming and customers are doing their Christmas shopping at Cajun Stitchery. Get this out of the way as soon as you can. For all who have businesses out there, remember that we also sell personalized gift baskets.

Always remember that we are just a call or email away at or 850-261-2462 and place your order.


Boudreaux, Thibodeaux, and Gautreaux was playing a big round of golf for $200. At the 18th green Boudreaux had hisself a ten foot putt to win dat round, and the $200. As Boudreaux was lining up his putt, a funeral procession started to pass by. Boudreaux set down his putter, took his hat off, placed it over his chest, and waited for the funeral procession to pass him by. After it passed, Boudreaux picked up his putter and returned to lining up his putt. Seeing this, Thibodeaux said, “Mais cher, dat was de most touching ting I never seen befo. I can’t believe you stopped playing, possibly losing all you concentration, to pay you respects.” “Well”, Boudreaux replies, “we were married for 25 years.”


French phrase of the week: Ça boit et ça fume et ça couche au serein. (They drink and they smoke and they stay out all night.)


George can tell you that I have loved Mother Earth News since the early 1970’s. Back in the 1970’s they had an article about a Solar Heat Grabber. The article stated that they constructed and installed these heat grabbers in a school up north and it worked beautifully, not only heating the rooms but reducing the heating bill. Since those 1970’s days, I have occasionally read articles talking about the same type heater. With our recent cold snap, I was once again reminded of the heat grabber. This is an article on the heat grabber from Mother Earth News found at

DIY Solar Heating with the Heat Grabber

By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors

Some of the climatologists are predicting that the coming winter could well be colder than the last one. But even if that forecast comes true, you'll be a lot warmer during the clear-but-below-zero sieges ahead than you were during the frigid weather of last January and February, if your house or apartment has one or more unshaded south facing windows and if you outfit those windows with the Heat Grabber. (See the Image Gallery for Heat Grabber plans or click here for larger plans you can order.)

Believe it or not, this simple and effective "window box" solar collector can be fabricated in just under an hour by an experienced home craftsman (or in less than two hours by the more fumble-fingered among us) for the astonishingly low price of $32.18 (see materials breakdown on next page, prices are from 1977). And once constructed, this sturdy unit should give years of dependable service.

The secret of the Heat Grabber's quick assembly and low cost is a new rigid foam insulation board manufactured by Celotex. This board, trade-named "Thermax TF-610," is impregnated with glass fibers for strength, faced on both sides with heavy aluminum foil, and available in thicknesses ranging from 3/8" to 1-7/8". Celotex actually markets the material as a replacement for the pressed fiber sheathing or "blackboard" now used by contractors in the construction of wood framed houses and does not recommend it for any other purpose. Mother Earth News researchers, however, have run heat and other tests on the insulation board and found it near-ideal for use in quick, easy and low-cost solar collectors such as the Heat Grabber.

Yes, the basic Thermax TF-610 sheet does have a slight disadvantage. Its aluminum foil surfaces can be punctured relatively easily by anyone intent on doing just that. There are, however, at least two remedies for this problem: [1] Substitute Thermax-610/.019 — which is the same foam, but faced on one side with a much heavier layer of aluminum—for the Thermax-610 specified here, or [2] use the Thermax-610 called for in our plans and protect the sides and bottom of the finished collector with a casing of scrap lumber. The second alternative will be less expensive than the first, but, really, neither course of action should be necessary unless you live in a high-vandalism area.

The ideal angle at which to position a southfacing solar collector (in the Northern Hemisphere) or a north-facing collector (in the Southern Hemisphere) is your latitude plus 10°. This adds up to 45° for Mother Earth News' North Carolina offices (which are situated 35° north of the equator) and that's the angle shown on the following plans. Please take this into consideration when making the cuts called for in Steps 3 and 6 in the diagrams in the Image Gallery.

(Miami, for instance, is located about 25° north, which means that collectors there should be angled up at 35° to the horizon, which, in turn, means that the 67.5° cuts specified in the following plans should be 72.5° for Miami. Likewise, the cuts should be 65.75° for Washington, D.C; 61.5° for Seattle; and 54.5° for Anchorage. You can calculate the specific angle for your own location [subtract your latitude plus 10 from 180 and divide by two] or just average it out from the figures given here. The angle is critical, but not that critical.)

Remember that all the dimensions given in the plans are for a collector specifically tailored to fit the windows in one particular house. If your windows are wider or not as wide, feel free to build your Heat Grabber(s) accordingly. And don't get unnecessarily hung up on trying to keep the upper and lower air chambers in the collector exactly as deep as shown here either. A half-inch or more variation is fine. As a matter of fact, it's awfully hard to keep this little Btu-grabber from working, as long as its passages are deep enough for air to circulate through them at all.

One final caution: Although the single-strength glass used to cover the prototype Heat Grabber is no more nor less safe than the single-strength glass currently in use in millions of storm doors and windows throughout the continent. It can break and possibly cut you or a child if, for any reason, either of you falls into it. Take whatever measures you deem necessary so that such an accident never happens.


How the Heat Grabber Works

The Heat Grabber is nothing but a weather tight box that's insulated on the bottom and sides and topped with glass. An insulated divider is positioned inside this box and brought out its top to form an open "lip" at the box's upper end. This lip is designed to hook over a windowsill so that the window itself can be pulled down snugly onto the glass which covers the top of the Heat Grabber, leaving the main body of the solar collector "leaning against" the south side of the house at a 45°-or-better angle. (See illustration in the Image Gallery — How it Works.)

The operation of the unit is just as simple. When the sun shines, its rays pass through the glass on top of the Heat Grabber, strike the upper surface of the divider (which is painted black), and warm the aluminum foil covering on that divider. As the foil heats up it, in turn, warms the air next to it. And that air, as might be expected, rises up the face of the divider and begins to pour out the opening at the Heat Grabber's top.

But, of course, that hot air can't move up the face of the divider unless it pulls cool air around the divider's foot to take its place. Which pulls even more cool air in through the lower opening at the collector's top (the only place that cool air can enter the otherwise airtight unit) and down under the central divider.

What we have, then, is a "convective loop" solar room heater that operates automatically on nothing but the sun's energy. Whenever the sun shines, this clever little unit (which, as near as we can tell, seems to be an old Steve Baer design modified by William A. Shurcliff and further refined by some of Mother Earth News' research staff) just sits there happily pumping thousands of Btu's of heat into the house. And when the sun quits shining? The air in the box cools and tries to sink to the collector's foot, which "shuts off" the whole convective loop. (The Heat Grabber, in other words, will spew heat into the room when the sun shines, but it won't pull heat from the room when the sun doesn't shine.)


Heat Grabber Materials

Quantity Material Our Unit Cost Cost of Materials Used

1 sheet 1" x 4' x 8' Celeotex Thermax TF-610 $10.75 $10.75

1/2 sheet + 3/4" x 4' x 8' Celotex Thermax TF-610 8.85 4.60

1 tube Liquid Nails panel adhesive 1.00 1.00

1/2 tube silicone caulking compound 3.50 1.75

16 No. 8 finishing nails (scrounged) 0.00 0.00

3 pieces single strength glass cut t fit (all inclusive order) 10.49

1/4 roll all-metal aluminum foil duct tape 4.00 1.00

1 quart Rustoleum flat black paint 2.59 2.59

Total cost of materials used in construction of window collector: $32.18

Collector's size: 12.6 square feet

Cost per square foot: $2.56

Note: All materials were purchased at retail from local outlets in Hendersonville, NC (1977). Expect minor differences in the prices quoted above in your area, due to variances in freight charges, dealer policies, etc. Thermax TF-610, for instance, is manufactured in Tampa, Fl., and the further you live from Florida, the more your dealer will probably pay for his shipment of the panels. Celotex is opening up several new Thermaz manufacturing plants across the country, however, and this particular pricing difference should soon disappear.


Tools to Build the Heat Grabber

Thermax is so easy to work with that you won't need any saws, hammers or other "conventional" carpentry tools to build this solar collector. The Heat Grabber, in fact, was constructed with little more than a protractor, tape measure, paint brush and two little "we built 'em ourselves" knives. (See illustration in the Image Gallery — Tools.)

These knives are nothing but blocks of 1 " x 2-1/2" hardwood cut to fit the hand comfortably. The pieces of wood were then slotted and rigged with 10-32 bolts and wing nuts to grip Stanley 1992-5 utility knife blades at either a 45° (for "V" cuts) or a 90° (square cuts) angle to the blocks' faces.

All cuts on the Thermax used in the collector were made straight and accurate by sliding one or the other of the two knives along a board or other straightedge that had been clamped to the rigid sheets of foam. For "V" cuts, the blade in the 45° knife was set to slice only to within about 1/32" of the aluminum facing on the "far" side of the sheet (not all the way through either the facing or the foam). Since the foam varies slightly in thickness, this setting (for the most part) kept the blade from cutting too deeply. Two such cuts (with the straightedge reset between them), of course, were necessary for the completion of each "V".

And if you don't want to make "V" cuts and fold up the box of your solar collector? Then just build your "heat grabber" from separate pieces of Thermax, all made with right angle cuts; peel back the aluminum skin from the butted face of each joint; and glue the sections — foam to foam — together.

Please let me know if there is something that you would like to see in the weekly email. You may always call me at (850) 261-2462 or email me at

If you are not a subscriber and would like to receive Cajun Corner weekly, please email and let me know to put you on our email list.

C’est tout, mes amis

Peggy Henshall

Cajun Stitchery

(850) 261-2462

P.S. You are always welcome to stop by and look at all of the catalogs and pass some time with me, cher.

SALE OF THE WEEK (Good through Thursday, November 18, 2010)

This week’s sale is a set of 4 dinner size (20” square), hemmed napkins with an initial or name in one corner. Our usual price is $7 each or 4 for $28. This week’s sale price is $20.00 for the set of 4.

A variety of colors are available.

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