Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cajun Corner - Vol. 4, No. 41


Cajun Corner – Vol. 4, No. 41 – October 28, 2012


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



Don’t forget to visit us at,, and, often.   We are also on Twitter and Facebook. 

Visit our on-line catalogs at:

Last weekend a dear friend of ours passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.  He was only 60 years old.  This week I’ve learned that my dear Aunt Philo is in poor health.  It is that time where life stops giving and start taking.

I know there is a season for all things but I don’t like to be sad.  It seems to me that if you let sadness into your life, it can become all consuming.  Besides, sadness is not going to make things better.  Of course, you don’t want to appear heartless, either.  Usually when things are sad around the house I try to come up with something uniquely humorous.  There used to be a game where you put your head in a picture frame and the first in the audience to laugh lost the game.  We have played that game many times in our family.

Do you remember the Laverne and Shirley show from back in the 1970’s?  There was one show where Shirley was trying to cheer up Laverne and drew an upside down face on her forehead, then bent over backwards on the sofa so it would look like a right side up drawing.  You’d have to see it to get the humor.  Yes, I did that once.  In fact, I was playing around with the kids and did that.  We all laughed and the game was over but I forgot to wash my forehead.  The doorbell rang.  The visitor kept staring at me for sometime before he asked what was on my forehead.  I rushed off to wash my face. 

Then there was the time that I ran into the room with a scarf tied around my head and I was a ninja.  That caused a real belly laugh.  I’ve done backbends, splits and various other acrobatics to get a laugh when the family is blue.  The laughter usually comes when I realize that I cannot get myself out of the position in which I just put my body.  Most of the time, I just use laughter.  How can anyone stay sad when someone around them is laughing?  It is not possible.

A friend of mine loves goose down pillows.  Well, we weren’t that fancy when I was growing up.  Mama had chicken feather pillows.  Each morning there would be feathers littered all over my bed because the hard ends would poke through the ticking and I would pull them out in my sleep.  Mama would gather them up and save them.  Ever so often Mama would make new pillows and we would spend the day pouring the chicken feathers into the new ticking.  Feathers would be all over the place.  The pillow topic is pertinent because I am washing my bedroom pillows.  They don’t get washed as often as they should but I am washing them.  They will be all clean and fluffed tonight; although these pillows aren’t even chicken feathers but rather polyester fiber.

Last night many of the girls got together at a friend’s home on the beach.  We were officially going over to visit our friend who just lost her significant other and was spending a few days on the beach.  Unofficially, we were planning a belated birthday party for the hostess.  Oh what fun we had!  Our birthday girl did not see this one coming.  Since I am the official gift hander outer, she received gifts that were placed on the sofa next to her.  One after another she unwrapped beautiful and fabulous gifts.  She finished opening the gifts on the sofa and was picking up the tissue paper and bows when I told her to hold on, there was another stack of gifts right behind her.  The gifts just kept coming.  Then we had the birthday cake.  OMG!  This cake was peanut butter and nothing less than a slice of heaven.  I’m sure it did not contain any calories at all.  It was so light and fluffy and tasted so good.

Tomorrow night the Krewe of Wrecks first meeting for 2013 Mardi Gras Season.  Oh my goodness, how times flies. 

This past week Cajun Stitchery’s Etsy store began stocking its Christmas items.  We have less than two months until Christmas.  Drop by when you get a chance and browse a bit.  In the meantime, I will be listed the items in the attached photos soon.

Have a wonderful week.
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. 

No time to read Cajun Corner?  Visit our blog at and click the Odiogo button to hear the computer read the blog.

With Christmas right around the corner, here is a simple DIY project that would make a nice and useful Christmas gift for anyone.  Found this at

Learn how you can make a fun and unique chalkboard out of an old cupboard door. Search through second hand stores or yard sales to find unwanted doors, or you can even buy an inexpensive, unfinished one at your local home improvement store. This chalkboard is fun to use in a kitchen, an office, or any other room.

Instead of using an old cupboard door, why not paint the doors that are on your cupboards!?! I think this would be a fun way to decorate a toy room, office, or craft room.

·                        Age Guideline: 8 Years and Up

·                        Time Required: 60 minutes (Does not include drying time)

The above age and time guidelines are estimates. This project can be modified to suit other ages and may take more or less time depending on your circumstances.

Materials Needed:

·                        Cupboard Door (I got mine at a home improvement store)

·                        Spray Paint Primer (compare prices)

·                        Chalkboard Brush-On Paint (compare prices)

·                        Paint

·                        Small Piece of Felt (to use as an eraser)

·                        Chalk (compare prices)

·                        Masking Tape

·                        Paint Brush

·                        Newspaper

Instructions to Make Chalkboard Cupboard Door:

I used a spray paint primer and a brush on chalkboard and latex paint. You can use either brush on paint or spray paint. It really doesn't make a different, it is just a matter of personal preference.

Start out by making sure your cupboard door is clean and dust free. If possible, remove the handle. If you cannot remove the handle, cover it completely with masking tape.

Cover your work surface with newspaper (I also use wax paper sometimes). Make sure you work in a well ventilated area. Set your cupboard door on the work surface and grab your primer. Use thin layers of the primer to cover it. Wait until one layer is dry to the touch before adding another. When you are done with the primer, let it set to completely dry (follow the directions on your paint can).

Once the primer is dry, you are ready to paint the border of the door. I chose a red paint. You can tape off the center area of the cupboard door if you like, but I was just careful when I painted around the edges. Use as many layers as you need to get the shade you want. Like with the primer, when you are done painting the border, let it set to completely dry (follow the directions on your paint can).

Now, you are ready for the chalkboard paint. Use a quality paint brush to apply a few layers, allowing each one to dry between coats. Let the chalkboard paint cure for as long as the paint can says. My chalkboard paint can also suggested I condition the chalkboard paint by rubbing the side of the chalk over it and then wiping it off. Don't skip this step, I did with another project and I could not totally erase the lines.

Now you can use your new cupboard door chalkboard and enjoy! If you want to hang it, you can screw it directly to the wall and paint the screw heads. You can also use eye hooks screwed to the top or buy picture hanging hardware to attach to the back of the cupboard door.

I hope you enjoy making this craft. If you do make it, make sure you send in a photo so it can be posted here. You can also get your own crafts published. You can be one of the first to know when new craft projects are posted by taking a few moments to sign up for the Family Crafts Newsletter and you can also chat about crafts with others in the Family Crafts Forum.

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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cajun Stitchery's photostream

Cajun Stitchery custom embroidery located in Pensacola FLCajun Stitchery custom embroidery located in Pensacola, FLCajun Stitchery custom embroidery located in Pensacola FL California or Bust 0022011_0113_0520032011_0107_1256322011_0104_200504
2011_0103_213757004002Tablecloth 028Tablecloth 027Tablecloth 026
Tablecloth 025Tablecloth 024Tablecloth 023Tablecloth 022Tablecloth 021Tablecloth 020
Tablecloth 019Tablecloth 018Tablecloth 017Tablecloth 016Tablecloth 015Tablecloth 014

Visit our Flickr site for photos of our embroidery.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cajun Corner - Vol. 4, No. 40


Cajun Corner – Vol. 4, No. 40 – October 20, 2012


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



Don’t forget to visit us at,, and, often.   We are also on Twitter and Facebook. 

Visit our on-line catalogs at:

About six months ago one of my cousins moved to Pensacola.  We have been trying to get together ever since she moved here.  It is always one thing or another preventing us from meeting face-to-face.  Finally, this week we met.  Her daughter, my 3rd cousin, is going to be a flower girl in a wedding today and her dress needed to be altered.  They came over on Wednesday and we finally got to meet each other.  I must say that I was captivated by five year old Claire who was inquisitive and into everything and could charm the socks off of you, as she did me.  They returned on Friday to pick up Claire’s now altered dress and she proceeded to charm George. 

Claire was quite taken with the mermaids at the house and I told her that once a year, on Mardi Gras, I turn into a mermaid.  She is no dummy and questioned the possibility:  “So, do you have powers?” she inquired.  “Yes, I do,” was my answer.  “Show me,” she said.  Her mother piped in and told her that when you have powers you only use them when necessary and you never abuse your powers.  I explained that I only have powers once a year on Mardi Gras.  She walked around and played, then came back and asked why I had so many mermaids hanging on my walls.  Her mother came back with an absolutely fabulous explanation by saying, “You know how we have pictures of our family at our house?  These mermaids are her family.”  That seemed to satisfy little Claire who is now waiting for Mardi Gras so she can see my powers.

Cajun Stitchery made some new purchases lately.  The first one is called Peggy’s Eraser.  It is almost identical to an electric razor but used to remove embroidery stitches.  We had purchased a regular electric razor but decided that it doesn’t remove stitches as well as one made for that function.  Besides, Peggy should have one named Peggy’s Eraser.  It just seems right.  Peggy’s Eraser has not arrived yet but should in the next week or two.

The other recent purchase that we are waiting to receive in the mail is a 6”x12” hoop for Clothilde.  Boudreaux has all shapes and sizes of hoops but poor Clothilde has some very large hoops and only two sizes of smaller ones.  A few months back we purchased fast frames for Clothilde.  Now we can embroider those market baskets, totes and various object that are hard to hoop.  The new hoop is adjustable.  It can be 6x12 or 12x6.  There are several reasons that this is a good idea.  One is that used as a 6x12 hoop, we can hoop pant legs and sleeves.  That opens up some really cool embroidery ideas and possibilities.  As a 12x6 hoop, it gives more stability to smaller designs and monograms.

We had our first fire of the season in our chiminea this week and are planning more as the weather permits.  In fact, tonight might be perfect.

Another recent purchase was a solar smart phone charger.  You know I love alternative energy things.  It arrived and not only charges the smart phone but also can be used as a LED light.  That is pretty cool to have in my purse when I’m out at night.  I haven’t tried charging the phone with it yet.  They say that it does take some time to charge via the solar charger but I’m pretty impressed with it.  I know they have solar chargers for laptops.  Maybe I’ll save up my pennies and buy one of those next.

Last night was our krewe’s monthly meeting.  Our meetings are held at a different krewe member’s home each month.  This month the décor was Halloween and the house was decorated quite cute.  It turns out that our hostess is another Pinterest addict.  She turned so many of those cute ideas on Pinterest into reality. 

Speaking of Pinterest, I found an item on Pinterest that said to take a bottle of vinegar, poke holes in the top, and put it in the toilet tank.  The vinegar is a non-toxic way of cleaning the toilet bowl and with the extra mass in the tank, you save on water.  We tried it.  It took a few days for the ring around the bowl to start fading but it does seem to be keeping the bowl clean. 

Don’t forget to get your Christmas shopping done early.

Have a wonderful week.
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. 

No time to read Cajun Corner?  Visit our blog at and click the Odiogo button to hear the computer read the blog.

What type of item category would you like to see most at Cajun Stitchery?

a.                   apparel
b.                  home décor
c.                   beach
d.                  gift ideas
e.                   trending
f.                   other (please explain)

What type of designs would you like to see most at Cajun Stitchery?

a.                   Cartoon
b.                  Children
c.                   holiday
d.                  heirloom
e.                   sayings
f.                   monograms
g.                  other (please explain)

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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cajun Corner - Vol. 4, No. 39


Cajun Corner – Vol. 4, No. 39 – October 15, 2012


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



Don’t forget to visit us at,, and, often.   We are also on Twitter and Facebook. 

Visit our on-line catalogs at:

I apologize to all of our readers.  I totally forgot to write Cajun Corner this weekend.  This must be a sign of age creeping up on me.

A few weeks back I was at the fabric store looking for some tailor chalk.  They had a pen with one side having a water soluble ink and the other side of the pen was disappearing ink.  I’ve never tried either of these methods of marking fabric but I have heard a lot of positive remarks from friends and on forums.  The pen was purchased and while making the recent tablecloth, the water soluble part of the pen was used.  The moment came when the ink needed to go away.  All I did was get a damp cloth and apply water and the ink vanished.  It didn’t get smeared like normal ink would; it vanished completely.  As the cloth dried some of the ink came back.  Not to worry though.  It will all disappear completely once washed.  The invisible ink on the other end of the pen wasn’t used because the instructions say that it will disappear in about 24-48 hours.  That part of the pen wasn’t used since the tablecloth took longer than 48 hours to make and the reference marks were needed.  Goodbye tailor’s chalk.  Hello water soluble pen.

This past weekend towels were embroidered.  One of the towels had a beautiful design of mermaids playing with a dolphin.  The design had lots of shading and other items that distorted the main design.  Many of the design parts were removed leaving only the dolphin and mermaids.  The dolphin looked a bit goofy with all of the shading but didn’t look right without any shading.  Some of the shading was removed and some remained.  When the design was stitched out a medium gray thread was used for the dolphin and black was used for the shaded areas.  Oh my goodness, once stitched out the black made the dolphin look bad.  Then I realized that one of the mermaids only had half a tail.  The design was redone using a darker gray instead of the black and the mermaid tail was repaired.  It turned out much better.    The towel with the original design of the dolphin with the black shading remains as scrap.

While on Facebook this past weekend a friend inquired about a design of praying hands.  A search through our stock design revealed three designs of praying hands.  The photos were posted in reply to the request.  The lady was very excited and ordered one of the designs.  However, she wanted the design the size of real hands.  The design was increased to 7” tall.  Her mother’s name was added.  I asked what she would like the design embroidered onto and she just didn’t understand.  Finally, I told her that the design was pretty heavy and would work well on denim; perhaps the density could be lowered for a lighter fabric.  She finally realized what I was asking and said that she would like the design embroidered on a doily to give to her mother for Christmas and thought denim would be “cool.”  Hmmmm, denim is an odd fabric for a doily but just because it isn’t the usual, doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be lovely.  A 10” denim circle with a satin stitched edge and the design embroidered inside the circle was done.  It wasn’t too bad but does need to be tweaked.  Now I’m thinking about adding some lace around the doily to give it a dainty look. 

While sitting at our kitchen table one evening this week, I heard something on the window and turned to see a large bug crawling on the outside of our window.  It was a cicada.  I’ve heard them in the trees and I’ve seen their empty casings; but, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a live and moving cicada.  They are not pretty and probably about 3 or 4 inches long.  George looked it up on the internet and they are not dangerous to humans unless you let them stay on your arm or appendage for a long time.  They apparently have a long head and tongue hidden under their armor that bores into trees and lays eggs in the wood and eats the inside of the wood.  Sometimes they mistake a human arm or leg as a tree branch but only if they have been on the arm or leg for a long time.  They do eat your garden.  I refused to go outside until George killed the thing.  Ewwww, that was creepy.

We are still waiting for signs of tomatoes on the beefsteak tomato plants.  They have flowers but so far no signs of fruit.  The cherry tomatoes have lots of little green tomatoes that we will be harvesting as soon as they show signs of turning red.

It is October and Christmas is right around the corner.  Are you ready? 

Ideas for embroidered Christmas gifts:  linens, sheets, pillow cases, blankets, bedcovers; towels, bath, beach, hand, wash, fingertip/tea; kitchen towels, pot holds, trivets, coasters, napkins, tablecloth, placemats, apron, plastic bag caddy; and, of course, handkerchiefs, shirts, jackets, and caps.  We now offer embroidered doilies, too.

Have a wonderful week.
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. 
No time to read Cajun Corner?  Visit our blog at and click the Odiogo button to hear the computer read the blog.
Found the following article at:

The Solar Funnel Cooker

How to Make and Use the BYU Solar Cooker/Cooler

by Steven E. Jones, Professor of Physics at Brigham Young University (BYU), with Colter Paulson, Jason Chesley, Jacob Fugal, Derek Hullinger, Jamie Winterton, Jeannette Lawler, and Seth, David, Nathan, and Danelle Jones.


A few years ago, I woke up to the fact that half of the world's peoples must burn wood or dried dung in order to cook their food. It came as quite a shock to me, especially as I learned of the illnesses caused by breathing smoke day in and day out, and the environmental impacts of deforestation -not to mention the time spent by people (mostly women) gathering sticks and dung to cook their food. And yet, many of these billions of people live near the equator, where sunshine is abundant and free. Ergo...

As a University Professor of Physics with a background in energy usage, I set out to develop a means of cooking food and sterilizing water using the free energy of the sun. First, I looked at existing methods.

The parabolic cooker involves a reflective dish that concentrates sunlight to a point where the food is cooked. This approach is very dangerous since the sun's energy is focused to a point which is very hot, but which cannot be seen. (BYU students and I built one which will set paper on fire in about 3 seconds!) I learned that an altruistic group had offered reflecting parabolas to the people living at the Altiplano in Bolivia. But more than once the parabolas had been stored next to a shed -- and the passing sun set the sheds on fire! The people did not want these dangerous, expensive devices, even though the Altiplano region has been stripped of fuel wood.

The box cooker: Basically an insulated box with a glass or plastic lid, often with a reflecting lid to reflect sunlight into the box. Light enters through the top glass (or plastic), to slowly heat up the box. Problems: energy enters only through the top, while heat is escaping through all the other sides, which have a tendency to draw heat away from the food. When the box is opened to put food in or take it out, some of the heat escapes and is lost. Also, effective box cookers tend to be more complicated to build than the funnel cooker.

While studying this problem, I thought again and again of the great need for a safe, inexpensive yet effective solar cooker. It finally came to me at Christmastime a few years ago, a sort of hybrid between the parabola and a box cooker. It looks like a large, deep funnel, and incorporates what I believe are the best features of the parabolic cooker and the box cooker.

The first reflector was made at my home out of aluminum foil glued onto cardboard, then this was curved to form a reflective funnel. My children and I figured out a way to make a large card-board funnel easily. (I'll tell you exactly how to do this later on.)

The Solar Funnel Cooker is safe and low cost, easy to make, yet very effective in capturing the sun's energy for cooking and pasteurizing water -> Eureka!

Later, I did extensive tests with students (including reflectivity tests) and found that aluminized Mylar was good too, but relatively expensive and rather hard to come by in large sheets. Besides, cardboard is found throughout the world and is inexpensive, and aluminum foil is also easy to come by. And individuals can make their own solar cookers easily, or start a cottage-industry to manufacture them for others.

Prototypes of the Solar Funnel Cooker were tested in Bolivia, and outperformed an expensive solar box cooker and a "Solar Cookit" - while costing much less. Brigham Young University submitted a patent application, mainly to insure that no company would prevent wide distribution of the Solar Funnel Cooker. BYU makes no profit from the invention. (I later learned that a few people had had a similar idea, but with methods differing from those developed and shown here.) So now I'm trying to get the word out so that the invention can be used to capture the free energy of the sun - for camping and for emergencies, yes, but also for every day cooking where electricity is not available and even fuel wood is getting scarce.

How it Works

The reflector is shaped like a giant funnel, and lined with aluminum foil. (Easy to follow instructions will be given soon.) This funnel is rather like the parabolic cooker, except that the sunlight is concentrated along a line (not a point) at the bottom of the funnel. You can put your hand up the bottom of the funnel and feel the sun's heat, but it will not burn you.

Next, we paint a jar black on the outside, to collect heat, and place this at the bottom of the funnel. Or one can use a black pot, with a lid. The black vessel gets hot, fast. But not quite hot enough to cook with... We need some way to build up the heat without letting the air cool it. So, I put a cheap plastic bag around the jar -- voila, the solar funnel cooker was born! The plastic bag, available in grocery stores as a "poultry bag", replaces the cumbersome and expensive box and glass lid of the solar box ovens. You can use the plastic bags used in American stores to put groceries in, as long as they let a lot of sunlight pass. (Dark- colored bags will not do.)

I recently tested a bag used for fruits and vegetables, nearly transparent and available free at American grocery stores, that works great. This is stamped "HDPE" for high-density polyethylene on the bag (ordinary polyethylene melts too easily). A block of wood is placed under the jar to help hold the heat in. (Any insulator, such as a hot pad or rope or even sticks, will also work.)

A friend of mine who is also a Physics Professor did not believe I could actually boil water with the thing. So I showed him that with this new "solar funnel cooker," I was able to boil water in Utah in the middle of winter! I laid the funnel on its side since it was winter and pointed a large funnel towards the sun to the south. I also had to suspend the black cooking vessel -- rather than placing it on a wooden block. This allows the weaker sun rays to strike the entire surface of the vessel.

Of course, the Solar Funnel works much better outside of winter days (when the UV index is 7 or greater). Most other solar cookers will not cook in the winter in northern areas (or south of about 35 degrees, either).

I thought that a pressure cooker would be great. But the prices in stores were way too high for me. Wait, how about a canning jar? These little beauties are designed to relieve pressure through the lid -- a nice pressure cooker. And cooking time is cut in half for each 10º C we raise the temperature (Professor Lee Hansen, private communication). I used one of my wife's wide-mouth canning jars, spray-painted (flat) black on the outside, and it worked great. Food cooks faster when you use a simple canning jar as a pressure cooker. However, you can also put a black pot in the plastic bag instead if you want. But don't use a sealed container with no pressure release like a mayonnaise jar -- it can break as the steam builds up! (I've done it.)

How to Build Your Own Solar Funnel Cooker

What You will Need for the Funnel Cooker:

  1. A piece of flat cardboard, about 2 feet wide by 4 feet long. (The length should be just twice the width. The bigger, the better.)
  2. Ordinary aluminum foil.
  3. A glue such as white glue (like Elmer's glue), and water to mix with it 50-50. Also, a brush to apply the glue to the cardboard (or a cloth or paper towel will do). Or, some may wish to use a cheap "spray adhesive" available in spray cans. You can also use wheat paste.
  4. Three wire brads-- or small nuts and bolts, or string to hold the funnel together.
  5. For a cooking vessel, I recommend a canning jar ("Ball" wide-mouth quart jars work fine for me; the rubber ring on the lid is less likely to melt than for other jars I've found. A two-quart canning jar is available and works fine for larger quantities of food, although the cooking is somewhat slower.).
  6. The cooking jar (or vessel) should be spray-painted black on the outside. I find that a cheap flat-black spray paint works just fine. Scrape off a vertical stripe so that you have a clear glass "window" to look into the vessel, to check the food or water for boiling.
  7. A block of wood is used as an insulator under the jar. I use a piece of 2"X4" board which is cut into a square nominally 4" x 4" by about 2" thick. (10cm square x 5cm thick.) One square piece of wood makes a great insulator.
  8. A plastic bag is used to go around the cooking-jar and block of wood, to provide a green-house effect. Suggestions:

·         Reynolds™ Oven Bag, Regular Size works great: transparent and won't melt. (Cost about 25 cents each in U.S. grocery stores.)

·         Any nearly-transparent HDPE bag (High-density Polyethylene). Look for "HDPE" stamped on the bag. I've tested HDPE bags which I picked up for free at my grocery store, used for holding vegetables and fruits. These are thin, but very inexpensive. Tested side-by-side with an oven bag in two solar funnels, the HDPE bag worked just as well! (Caution: we have found that some HDPE bags will melt should they contact the hot cooking vessel. For this reason, we recommend using the oven-safe plastic bag wherever possible.)

·         An idea attributed to Roger Bernard and applied now to the BYU Funnel Cooker: place a pot (having a blackened bottom and sides) in a glass bowl, and cover with a lid. Try for a tight fit around the bottom to keep hot air trapped inside. The metal pot or bowl should be supported around the rim only, with an air space all around the bottom (where the sunlight strikes it). Put a blackened lid on top of the pot. Then simply place this pot-in-bowl down in the bottom of the funnel - no plastic bag is needed! This clever method also allows the cook to simply remove the lid to check the food and to stir. I like this idea - it makes the solar cooker a lot like cooking over a fire. See Photographs for further details.

Construction Steps

Cut a Half-circle out of the Cardboard

Cut a half circle out of the cardboard, along the bottom as shown below. When the funnel is formed, this becomes a full-circle and should be wide enough to go around your cooking pot. So for a 7" diameter cooking pot, the radius of the half-circle is 7". For a quart canning jar such as I use, I cut a 5" radius half-circle out of the cardboard.

Form the Funnel

To form the funnel, you will bring side A towards side B, as shown in the figure. The aluminum foil must go on the INSIDE of the funnel. Do this slowly, helping the cardboard to the shape of a funnel by using one hand to form creases that radiate out from the half-circle. Work your way around the funnel, bending it in stages to form the funnel shape, until the two sides overlap and the half-circle forms a complete circle. The aluminum foil will go on the INSIDE of funnel. Open the funnel and lay it flat, "inside up", in preparation for the next step.

Glue Foil to Cardboard

Apply glue or adhesive to the top (inner) surface of the cardboard, then quickly apply the aluminum foil on top of the glue, to affix the foil to the cardboard. Make sure the shiniest side of the foil is on top, since this becomes your reflective surface in the Funnel. I like to put just enough glue for one width of foil, so that the glue stays moist while the foil is applied. I also overlap strips of foil by about 1" ( or 2 cm). Try to smooth out the aluminum foil as much as you reasonably can, but small wrinkles won't make much difference. (If even cardboard is not available, one can simply dig a funnel-shaped hole in the ground and line it with a reflector, to make a fixed solar cooker for use at mid-day.)

Join side A to side B to keep the funnel together.

The easiest way to do this is to punch three holes in the cardboard that line up on side A and side B (see figure). Then put a metal brad through each hole and fasten by pulling apart the metal tines. Or you can use a nut-and-bolt to secure the two sides (A & B) together.

Be creative here with what you have available. For example, by putting two holes about a thumb-width apart, you can put a string, twine, small rope, wire or twist-tie in one hole and out the other, and tie together.

When A and B are connected together, you will have a "funnel with two wings". The wings could be cut off, but these help to gather more sunlight, so I leave them on.

Tape or glue a piece of aluminum foil across the hole at the bottom of the funnel, with shiny side in.

This completes assembly of your solar funnel cooker.

For stability, place the Funnel inside a cardboard or other box to provide support. For long-term applications, one may wish to dig a hole in the ground to hold the Funnel against strong winds.

Final Steps

At this stage, you are ready to put food items or water into the cooking vessel or jar, and put the lid on securely. (See instructions on food cooking times, to follow.)

Place a wooden block in the INSIDE bottom of the cooking bag. I use a piece of 2X4 board which is cut into a square nominally 4"X4" by about 2" thick. Then place the cooking vessel containing the food or water on top of the wooden block, inside the bag.

Next, gather the top of the bag in your fingers and blow air into the bag, to inflate it. This will form a small "greenhouse" around the cooking vessel, to trap much of the heat inside. Close off the bag with a tight twist tie or wire. Important: the bag should not touch the sides or lid of the cooking vessel. The bag may be called a "convection shield," slowing convection-cooling due to air currents.

Place the entire bag and its contents inside the funnel near the bottom as shown in the Photographs.

Place the Solar Funnel Cooker so that it Faces the Sun

Remember: Sunlight can hurt the eyes: Please wear sunglasses when using a Solar Cooker! The Funnel Cooker is designed so that the hot region is deep down inside the funnel, out of harm's way.

Put the Solar Funnel Cooker in the sun pointing towards the sun, so that it captures as much sunlight as possible. The design of the funnel allows it to collect solar energy for about an hour without needing to be re-positioned. For longer cooking times, readjust the position of the funnel to follow the sun's path.

It helps to put the Solar Funnel Cooker in front of a south-facing wall or window (in the Northern Hemisphere) to reflect additional sunlight into the funnel. A reflective wall is most important in locations farther from the equator and in winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, put the Solar Funnel Cooker in front of a North-facing wall or window to reflect additional sunlight into your cooker.

After Cooking

Remember that the cooking vessel will be very hot: Use cooking pads or gloves when handling! If you are heating water in a canning jar, you may notice that the water is boiling when the lid is first removed - it gets very hot!

Open the plastic cooking bag by removing the twist-tie. Using gloves or a thick cloth, lift the vessel out of the bag and place it on the ground or table. Carefully open the vessel and check the food, to make sure it has finished cooking. Let the hot food cool before eating.

Helpful Hints

  1. Avoid leaving fingerprints and smudges on the inside surface of the cooker. Keep the inner surface clean and shiny by wiping occasionally with a wet towel. This will keep the Solar Funnel Cooker working at its best.
  2. If your funnel gets out-of-round, it can be put back into a circular shape by attaching a rope or string between opposite sides which need to be brought closer together.
  3. For long-term applications, a hole in the ground will hold the Funnel Cooker securely against winds. Bring the funnel inside or cover it during rain storms.
  4. The lids can be used over and over. We have had some trouble with the rubber on some new canning-jar lids becoming soft and "sticky." "Ball canning lids" do not usually have this problem. Running new lids through very hot water before the first use seems to help. The lids can be used over and over if they are not bent too badly when opened (pry off lid carefully).
  5. The jar can be suspended near the bottom of the funnel using fishing line or string (etc.), instead of placing the jar on a block of wood. A plastic bag is placed around the jar with air puffed inside, as usual, to trap the heat. The suspension method allows sunlight to strike all surfaces of the jar, all around, so that heats faster and more evenly. This suspension method is crucial for use in winter months.
  6. Adjust the funnel to put as much sunlight onto the cooking jar as possible. Look at the jar to check where the sunlight is hitting, and to be sure the bottom is not in the shadows. For long cooking times (over about an hour), readjust the position of the funnel to follow the sun's path. During winter months, when the sun is low on the horizon (e.g., in North America), it is helpful to lay the funnel on its side, facing the sun.

Tests in Utah

I have personally used the Solar Funnel Cooker to cook lunches over many weeks. My favorite foods to cook are potatoes (cut into logs or slices) and carrot slices. Vegetables cook slowly in their own juices and taste delicious. I also make rice, melted cheese sandwiches, and even bread in the Solar Funnel Cooker. I usually put the food out around 11:30 and let it cook until 12:45 or 1 pm, just to be sure that it has time to cook. I've never had any food burn in this cooker.

I have also cooked food in the mountains, at an altitude of around 8,300 feet. If anything, the food cooked faster there - the sunlight filters through less atmosphere at high altitudes.

I find that people are surprised that the sun alone can actually cook food. And they are further pleasantly surprised at the rich flavors in the foods which cook slowly in the sun. This inexpensive device does it!

Students at Brigham Young University have performed numerous tests on the Solar Funnel Cooker along with other cookers. We have consistently found much faster cooking using the Solar Funnel Cooker. The efficiency/cost ratio is higher than any other solar cooking device we have found to date. Mr. Hullinger also performed studies of transmissivity, reflectivity and absorptivity of alternate materials which could be used in the Solar Funnel Cooker. While there are better materials (such as solar-selective absorbers), our goal has been to keep the cost of the Solar Cooker as low as possible, while maintaining safety as a first priority.

Tests in Bolivia

The BYU Benson Institute organized tests between the Solar Funnel Cooker and the "old-fashioned" solar box oven. The solar box oven cost about $70 and was made mostly of cardboard. It took nearly two hours just to reach water pasteurization temperature. The Bolivian report notes that "food gets cold every time the pots are taken from and into the oven." The solar box oven failed even to cook boiled eggs. (More expensive box cookers would hopefully work better.)

An aluminized-mylar Solar Funnel Cooker was also tested in Bolivia, during the Bolivian winter. Water pasteurization temperature was reached in 50 minutes, boiled eggs cooked in 70 minutes, and rice cooked in 75 minutes. The Bolivian people were pleased by the performance. So were we! (La Paz, Bolivia, August, 1996)

I also donated two dozen solar funnel cookers for people in Guatemala. These were taken there by a group of doctors going there for humanitarian service. The people there also liked the idea of cooking with the sun's free energy! For an aluminized-Mylar Solar Funnel Cooker kit, please contact CRM (licensed manufacturer) at +1 (801) 292-9210.

Water and Milk Pasteurization

Contaminated drinking water or milk kills thousands of people each day, especially children. WHO reports that 80% of illnesses in the world are spread through contaminated water. Studies show that heating water to about 65º - 70º C (150º F) is sufficient to kill coliform bacteria, rotaviruses, enteroviruses and even Giardia. This is called pasteurization.

Pasteurization depends on how hot and how long water is heated. But how do you know if the water got hot enough? You could use a thermometer, but this would add to the cost, of course. When steam leaves the canning jar (with lid on tight) and forms "dew" on the inside of the cooking bag, then the water is probably pasteurized to drink. (The goal is to heat to 160º Fahrenheit for at least six minutes.) With a stripe of black paint scraped off the jar, one can look through the bag and into the jar and see when the water is boiling - then it is safe for sure.

Think of all the lives that can be saved simply by pasteurizing water using a simple Solar Cooker! (See also Recent Advances in Solar Water Pasteurization)


Safety was my first concern in designing the Solar Funnel Cooker, then came low cost and effectiveness. But any time you have heat you need to take some precautions.

  • The cooking vessel (jar) is going to get hot, else the food inside won't cook. Let the jar cool a bit before opening. Handle only with gloves or tongs.
  • Always wear dark glasses to protect from the sun's rays. We naturally squint, but sunglasses are important.
  • Keep the plastic bag away from children and away from nose and mouth to avoid any possibility of suffocation.

Cooking with the Solar Funnel Cooker

What do you cook in a crock pot or moderate-temperature oven? The same foods will cook about the same in the Solar Funnel Cooker -- without burning. The charts below give approximate summer cooking times.

The solar cooker works best when the UV index is 7 or higher. (Sun high overhead, few clouds.)

Cooking times are approximate. Increase cooking times for partly-cloudy days, sun not overhead (e.g., wintertime) or for more than about 3 cups of food in the cooking jar.

Stirring is not necessary for most foods. Food generally will not burn in the solar cooker.

Vegetables (Potatoes, carrots, squash, beets, asparagus, etc.)
Preparation: No need to add water if fresh. Cut into slices or "logs" to ensure uniform cooking. Corn will cook fine with or without the cob.
Cooking Time: About 1.5 hours

Cereals and Grains (Rice, wheat, barley, oats, millet, etc.)
Preparation: Mix 2 parts water to every 1 part grain. Amount may vary according to individual taste. Let soak for a few hours for faster cooking. To ensure uniform cooking, shake jar after 50 minutes. CAUTION: Jar will be hot. Use gloves or cooking pads.
Cooking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Pasta and Dehydrated Soups
First heat water to near boiling (50-70 minutes). Then add the pasta or soup mix. Stir or shake, and cook 15 additional minutes.
Cooking Time: 65-85 minutes

Let tough or dry beans soak overnight. Place in cooking jar with water.
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

No need to add water. Note: If cooked too long, egg whites may darken, but taste remains the same.
Cooking Time: 1-1.5 hours, depending on desired yolk firmness.

Meats (Chicken, beef, and fish)
Preparation: No need to add water. Longer cooking makes the meat more tender.
Cooking Time: Chicken: 1.5 hours cut up or 2.5 hours whole; Beef: 1.5 hours cut up or 2.5-3 hours for larger cuts; Fish: 1-1.5 hours

Times vary based on amount of dough.
Cooking Times: Breads: 1-1.5 hours; Biscuits: 1-1.5 hours; Cookies: 1 hour

Roasted Nuts (Peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seed, etc.)
Preparation: Place in jar. A little vegetable oil may be added if desired.
Cooking Time: About 1.5 hours

MRE's and prepackaged foods
For foods in dark containers, simply place the container in the cooking bag in place of the black cooking jar.
Cooking Times: Cooking time varies with the amount of food and darkness of package.

How to Use the Solar Funnel as a Refrigerator/Cooler

A university student (Jamie Winterton) and I were the first to demonstrate that the BYU Solar Funnel Cooker can be used - at night - as a refrigerator. Here is how this is done.

The Solar Funnel Cooker is set-up just as you would during sun-light hours, with two exceptions:

1. The funnel is directed at the dark night sky. It should not "see" any buildings or even trees. (The thermal radiation from walls, trees, or even clouds will diminish the cooling effect.).

2. It helps to place 2 (two) bags around the jar instead of just one, with air spaces between the bags and between the inner bag and the jar. HDPE and ordinary polyethylene bags work well, since polyethylene is nearly transparent to infrared radiation, allowing it to escape into the "heat sink" of the dark sky.

During the day, the sun's rays are reflected onto the cooking vessel which becomes hot quickly. At night, heat from the vessel is radiated outward, towards empty space, which is very cold indeed (a "heat sink").

As a result, the cooking vessel now becomes a small refrigerator. We routinely achieve cooling of about 20º F (10º C) below ambient air temperature using this remarkably simple scheme.

In September 1999, we placed two funnels out in the evening, with double-bagged jars inside. One jar was on a block of wood and the other was suspended in the funnel using fishing line. The temperature that evening (in Provo, Utah) was 78º F. Using a Radio Shack indoor/outdoor thermometer, a BYU student (Colter Paulson) measured the temperature inside the funnel and outside in the open air. He found that the temperature of the air inside the funnel dropped quickly by about 15 degrees, as its heat was radiated upwards in the clear sky. That night, the minimum outdoor air temperature measured was 47.5 degrees - but the water in both jars had ICE. I invite others to try this, and please let me know if you get ice at 55 or even 60 degrees outside air temperature (minimum at night). A black PVC container may work even better than a black-painted jar, since PVC is a good infrared radiator - these matters are still being studied.

I would like to see the "Funnel Refrigerator" tried in desert climates, especially where freezing temperatures are rarely reached. It should be possible in this way to cheaply make ice for Hutus in Rwanda and for aborigines in Australia, without using any electricity or other modern "tricks." We are in effect bringing some of the cold of space to a little corner on earth. Please let me know how this works for you.

Conclusion: Why We Need Solar Cookers

The BYU Funnel Cooker/Cooler can:

  • Cook food without the need for electricity or wood or petroleum or other fuels.
  • Pasteurize water for safe drinking, preventing many diseases.
  • Save trees and other resources.
  • Avoid air pollution and breathing smoke while cooking.
  • Use the sun's free energy. A renewable energy source.
  • Cook food with little or no stirring, without burning.
  • Kill insects in grains.
  • Dehydrate fruits, etc.
  • Serve as a refrigerator at night, to cool even freeze water.

(Try that without electricity or fuels! See also Balancing the Scales.)

The burden for gathering the fuel wood and cooking falls mainly on women and children. Joseph Kiai reports from Dadaab, Kenya: "Women who can't afford to buy wood start at 4 am to go collecting and return about noon... They do this twice a week to get fuel for cooking... The rapes are averaging one per week." From Belize: "Many times the women have to go into the forest dragging their small children when they go to look for wood. It is a special hardship for pregnant and nursing mothers to chop and drag trees back to the village... they are exposed to venomous snakes and clouds of mosquitoes." (Anna K.) (Quoted in newsletters by Solar Cookers International.)

And the forests are dwindling in many areas. Edwin Dobbs noted in Audubon Magazine, Nov. 1992, "The world can choose sunlight or further deforestation, solar cooking or widespread starvation..."

Americans should be prepared for emergencies, incident to power failures. A Mormon pioneer noted in her journal: "We were now following in their trail traveling up the Platte River. Timber was sometimes very scarce and hard to get. We managed to do our cooking with what little we could gather up..." (Eliza R. Snow) Now there's someone who needed a light-weight Solar Cooker!

Here's another reason to use a solar cooker. Many people in developing countries look to see what's being done in America. I'm told that if Americans are using something, then they will want to try it, too. The more people there are cooking with the sun, the more others will want to join in. A good way to spread this technology is to encourage small local industries or families to make these simple yet reliable solar cookers for others at low cost. I've used this cooker for three summers and I enjoy it. Cooking and making ice with the funnel cooker/cooler will permit a significant change in lifestyle. If you think about it, this could help a lot of people. The BYU Solar Funnel Cooker uses the glorious sunshine -- and the energy of the sun is a free gift from God for all to use!

Will the cooker work in winter (in the United States)?

As the sun moves closer to the southern horizon in the winter, the solar cooker is naturally less effective. A good measure of the solar intensity is the “UV index” which is often reported with the weather. When the ultraviolet or UV index is 7 or above– common in summer months– the solar cooker works very well. In Salt Lake City in October, the UV index was reported to be 3.5 on a sunny day. We were able to boil water in the Solar Funnel Cooker during this time, but we had to suspend the black jar in the funnel so that sunlight struck all sides. (We ran a fishing line under the screw-on lid, and looped the fishing line over a rod above the funnel. As usual, a plastic bag was placed around the jar, and this was closed at the top to let the fishing line out for suspending the jar.)

The solar “minimum” for the northern hemisphere occurs on winter solstice, about December 21st each year. The solar “maximum” occurs six months later, June 21st. Solar cooking works best from about March 20 - October 1 in the north. If people try to cook with the sun for the first time outside of this time window, they should not be discouraged. Try again when the sun is more directly overhead. (One may also suspend the jar in the funnel, which will make cooking faster any time of the year.)

It is interesting to note that most developing countries are located near the equator where the sun is nearly directly overhead all the time. Solar Cookers will then serve year-round, as long as the sun is shining, for these fortunate people. They may be the first to apply fusion energy (of the sun) on a large scale! And they may accomplish this without the expensive infrastructure of electrical power grids that we take for granted in America.

How do you cook bread in a jar?

I have cooked bread by simply putting dough in the bottom of the jar and placing it in the funnel in the usual way. Rising and baking took place inside the jar in about an hour (during summer). One should put vegetable oil inside the jar before cooking to make removal of the bread easier. I would also suggest that using a 2-quart wide-mouth canning jar instead of a 1-quart jar would make baking a loaf of bread easier.

What is the optimum “opening angle” for the funnel cooker?

A graduate student at Brigham Young University did a calculus calculation over two years ago to assess the best shape or opening angle for the Solar Funnel. Jeannette Lawler assumed that the best operation would occur when the sun’s rays bounced no more than once before hitting the cooking jar, while keeping the opening angle as large as possible to admit more sunlight. (Some sunlight is lost each time the light reflects from the shiny surface. If the sunlight misses on the first bounce, it can bounce again and again until being absorbed by the black bottle.) She set up an approximate equation for this situation, took the calculus-derivative with respect to the opening angle and set the derivative equal to zero. Optimizing in this way, she found that the optimum opening angle is about 45 degrees, when the funnel is pointed directly towards the sun.

But we don’t want to have to “track the sun” by turning the funnel every few minutes. The sun moves (apparently) 360 degrees in 24 hours, or about 15 degrees per hour. So we finally chose a 60-degree opening angle so that the cooker is effective for about 1.2 hours. This turned out to be long enough to cook most vegetables, breads, boil water, etc. with the Solar Funnel Cooker. We also used a laser pointer to simulate sun rays entering the funnel at different angles, and found that the 60-degree cone was quite effective in concentrating the rays at the bottom of the funnel where the cooking jar sits.

For questions regarding the complete Solar Funnel Cooker kit using aluminized Mylar and a jar for the cooking vessel, please contact CRM at +1 (801) 292-9210. Recent updates to this project can be found at

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.