Sunday, August 26, 2007

Life's Lessons

I got these gems from a friend today...

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 pm, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console colour TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.

It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Think Small

More folks are moving into rural areas these days. Many more would like to, but feel it is financially out of their reach.

Smaller (and cheaper) housing may be an option for those who would like to move away from big cities or suburbia, but can't afford a traditional sized home in the country.

For some, thinking smaller just might help dreams of that place in the country become a reality.

The Small House Society has a fairly good resource page:

Here's a cool Yahoo group devoted to small housing, and everything to do with it (300+ members):

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Low Tech Hurricane Forecasting: The Hebert "Hurricane Box"

The Hebert Box was "discovered" in the late 1970s by Paul Hebert. This former NWS & NHC forecaster found many major Hurricanes that hit South Florida had to first pass through these boxes. The first box is located east of Puerto Rico and the second box is located over the Cayman Islands. Every Major Hurricane that passed through Box 2 late in the year, hit the Florida peninsula prior to 1950. Hebert says that a Hurricane does not have to pass through these boxes to hit, but if they do "you better pay attention". The 1935 Labor day Hurricane that devastated the Florida Keys developed west of this box and Hurricane Andrew passed NE of this box, so there are exceptions to the rule.
This image shows the two Hebert boxes. If Floridians want an indication of a possible hit they need to keep an eye on any hurricane that passes through these boxes. Nearly every major Hurricane that hit S Florida since 1900 passed through these boxes. When major Hurricanes miss these boxes,they virtually always miss South Florida. If a major Hurricane moves into these boxes South Florida really needs to watch out. These boxes approx 335 miles x 335 miles includes the Virgin Islands but not Puerto Rico. The pattern has proven accurate for 9 out of 10 storms storms that developed and hit Dade, Broward & Palm Beach Counties.

So what does all this mean when a Hurricane passes or develops in the Hebert Box #1 east of Puerto Rico since 1950?
1)N Carolina has as much of a chance to get hit as Florida.
2)20.58% or most go out to sea without hitting land.
3)Only 8.82% make it into the Gulf of Mexico when they pass through the box as a hurricane.
4)Puerto Rico will get hit 20.58% of the time (the highest outside of n Antilles).

What about Box #2,Hurricanes developing or moving through after Oct 1st since 1950?
Cuba & the Bahamas are at highest risk late in the season.

BOX #1 (since 1950)
1950 Baker--Alabama...1950 Dog--out to sea
1951 Charlie--Yucatan/Mexico
1952 Baker-- out to sea
1953 Carol--Nova Scotia
1954 Alice--Leeward Isl out to sea
1955 Connie--N Carolina...1955 Ione--N Carolina
1956 Betsy--N Antilles, PR,Bahamas
1958 Fifi--out to sea....1958 Ilsa--out to sea
1960 DonnaN Antilles,Bahamas,Fla,east seaboard
1963 Edith--windward isl,PR,Hispaniola
1964 Cleo--N Antilles,Hispaniola,Haiti,Cuba,Fla
1966 Faith--N Antilles....1966 Inez--N Antilles, Hispaniola, Haiti, Cuba Bahamas, FL, Yucatan, Mex.
1967Beulah--Hispaniola,Yucatan,S Texas
1975 Eloise--Hispaniola,Fla panhandle
1979 David--Antilles,Hispaniola,Haiti,Fla,Ga,Sc
1984 Klaus--out to sea
1985 Gloria--NE U.S
1989 dean--Bermuda,Newfoundland....1989 Hugo--N Antilles,PR,SC
1990 Klaus-- out to sea
1995 Luis--N Antilles,New foundland....1995 Marilyn--N antilles,VI.PR
1996 Bertha--N antilles,VI,PR,N carolina...1996 Fran--N Carolina
1996 Hortense--PR,Nova Scotia
1997 Erika--out to sea
1998 Georges--N antilles,VI,PR,Hispaniola,Haiti,Cuba,Keys,mississi ppi
1999 Jose--N antilles,VI....1999 Lenny--N antilles
2000 Debby--n antilles,VI,Hispaniola
2004 FrancesBahamas,Treasure coast,Fla.

BOX #2 (since 1950)
1951 Item Cayman isl,Cuba
1952 Fox Caymans,Cuba,Bahamas
1961 Hattie Belize
1981 Katrina Cuba,Bahamas
1988 Gilbert Yucatan,mexico
1995 Roxanne Yucatan
1998 Mitch Honduras
2001 Iris Belize
2001 Michelle Cuba,Bahamas
2004 Charley W cuba,Fla
2005 Emily Yucatan,Mexico
2005 Wilma Yucatan,S Fla

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to Make Herb Teas

In my August 14 post, there's a list of cooling herbs to help beat the heat.

If you are not familiar with making herbal teas, I strongly suggest that you do a little research on individual herbs before using them. This is important, especially if you are prone to plant allergies, or are pregnant or nursing. If you are taking medication, or are suffering from any medical condition, consult a medical health professional before using any herbs.

Make certain that your herb IS what you think it is, especially if you are gathering it from the wild. Poisonous lookalikes can be deadly! Herbs can also be purchased from a health food store, mail order catalog or from the internet.

These folks have great prices, fast service and free shipping:

Herbalcom, 1520 Ranier Ave.
Napa, CA 94558

When taking new herbs for the first time, be alert for allergic reactions, side effects, and even interactions between the herb and medicines and even with food. If you feel nausea, dizziness or headache, stop taking the herb. If you develop any allergic reactions such as difficulty breathing, within a half hour of taking a new herb, food or drug, call 911 immediately. Fortunately, reactions are extremely rare.

Basic Rules for Making Herbal Teas

Most herb teas made from leaves and flowers are usually steeped in hot water, not boiled. Boiling is for extracting the goodness from roots and bark, but it would be destructive to the more delicate leaves and flowers.

A standard strength tea can be made with one ounce herb to one pint water, or one teaspoon dried herb (or 1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh herb) to each cup of water. Boil water, remove from heat source. Stir in the herb. Cover and let brew for about 3 to 5 minutes for flowers and leaves. Up to ten minutes for roots, bark and hard seeds. Strain, sweeten if desired. Herb tea can be enjoyed cold or hot. Refrigerate. Use within 2 or 3 days.

A stronger, medicinal tea is steeped longer, for twenty minutes. Dosages vary with the herb and treatment, and should be researched before use.

Standard adult dose for herb teas:

1 cup three times a day for normal conditions
1 cup up to six times a day, or every two hours, for acute conditions
1 cup twice a day as a long-term tonic

Children's dose: Reduce proportionally. Give a seven year old child about half the adult dose. At six months, use one teaspoon of the standard strength tea. For breast feeding infants, give the tea to the mother.

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article and recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #2: HOW TO MAKE HOME REMEDIES THAT REALLY WORK. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cooling Herbs and Foods to Help Beat the Heat

PureCajunSunshine's Liquid Ice: Lemon-Peppermint Iced Tea

Stir in 1/2 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves into each cup of boiling hot water (removed from heat). Cover for five minutes. Strain, add juice of 1/2 lemon for each cup of tea. If desired, sweeten with honey or your favorite sweetner. Cool in the refrigerator. Pour over ice and serve. Aaahhh...this is really chillin'. Keep refrigerated and use within three days.

Peppermint Cooling Spray for Hot and Itchy Skin

Stir in one or two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves into each cup of boiling hot water (removed from heat). Cover. Let steep until cool. Strain, pour into a spray bottle. Store in refrigerator. Use within three days.

Do a double chill, inside and out: Spray this on your skin and drink the Liquid Ice...mmmYea!


These herbs are cooling to the system. They have been traditionally used as "refrigerants" for lowering fevers, and for helping to cope with hot weather. Be responsible in using herbs. More is not always better, and may result in undesirable effects.

Alfalfa herb
Chamomile herb
Chickweed herb
Hibiscus flowers
Japanese Honeysuckle Flower
Lemon Balm herb
Lemongrass herb
Passion Flower herb
Peppermint herb
Pine needle tea
Plantain leaf
Raspberry leaf
Red Clover blossoms
Spearmint leaf
Sorrel herb
Vervain herb


Bananas (potassium rich)
Cantaloupe melon (potassium rich)
Fruits rich in vitamin C
Leafy greens
Potatoes (potassium rich)

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article and recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #2: HOW TO MAKE HOME REMEDIES THAT REALLY WORK. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Keep Cool with Old Fashioned Summertime Drinks that Help Lower Body Temperature

During long hot marches between conquests, Roman soldiers were given a healthful drink that also acted as an energizing liquid coolant. It was a fruit concentrate that was preserved in vinegar, sweetened with honey and added to a quantity of cool spring water to make a refreshing drink.

The recipe for this delicious thirst quencher came to America from the West Indies in the late 1600's. By the 1800's it was known in America as "Haymaker's Punch", "Shrub", or "Switchel". It was wildly popular as a heat-beating summertime drink. Farmers, especially during the hot and dusty haymaking season, enjoyed it as a cooling pick-me-up that quenched thirst better than water alone.

It was also given for feverish colds and flu to help lower the body tmeperature, and to bolster the body's ability to fight diseases.

These recipes can be easily tweaked to suit your personal taste preference. Enjoy!

Old Fashioned Berry Shrub I

One teaspoon of this liquid concentrate is added to a cool glass of water to make an instant summertime beverage.

Add to any quantity of blackberries, raspberries, or any kind of berries, enough good apple cider or malt vinegar to cover. Keep covered for 2 weeks in a cool location. Drain well, allowing the berries to drip from a strainer for several hours, or until the dripping stops. Stir in a pound of sugar for every 2 cups of strained juice. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring well until dissolved. Skim the surface clear of any solids that may float up. Pour into clean, hot jars, and seal. To use, stir one teaspoon of this into a glass of water.

Old Fashioned Berry Shrub II (my personal favorite)

Put a tablespoon of this liquid concentrate into a glass of cool water. Sweeten if desired.

Pack freshly picked berries (raspberries, blackberries or strawberries) into a jar. Add enough cider vinegar to fill it. Release any air bubbles with a knife inserted between the sides of the jar and the berries. Close or cover the jar. Tap the bottom of the jar gently on the tabletop to help release any remaining air bubbles trapped among the berries. Keep in a cool, dark place for a month. Strain the liquid, pour into clean jars that have been made sterile by boiling.

Haymaker's Switchel I

1/2 c. sugar or honey
1/4 c. vinegar
Scant 1/4 tsp. ginger

Haymaker's Switchel II

1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. apple vinegar
1/2 c. light molasses or maple syrup
2 qts. cold water
1 teaspoon ginger

Haymaker's Switchel III

1 gal. water
2 c. sugar
1 c. molasses or maple syrup
1 c. vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger

Watch for more great cooling ideas in the next few posts...

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article and recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #2: HOW TO MAKE HOME REMEDIES THAT REALLY WORK. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Survivor's Rule of Three

The survivor's rule of three is that you can go...
• 3 minutes without air
• 3 days without water
• 3 weeks without food

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Homemade Poison Ivy and Weed Killer That Really Works

Over the years, I have fiddled around with different homemade poison ivy and weed killer recipes until I found a combination of ingredients that really works for me.

I had a huge poison ivy patch that I fought for years with all kinds of herbicide$, including homemade organics. I experimented with recipes using vinegar and salt in varying proportions. Some of them almost did the trick. I finally found that straight vinegar (no water added) with lots of salt and a hefty dose of detergent is most lethal to poison ivy and other noxious weeds. The once-huge poison ivy patch has been gone for over two years now. I've had to zap a few survivors now and then, but they are manageable. This homemade spray works better than anything else I've tried.

3 cups vinegar
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon liquid detergent or soap
(I use Dawn) for stick-to-itiveness

Mix vinegar and salt until the salt is completely dissolved. Stir in liquid detergent, and pour into a sprayer. Spray onto the green growing leaves of the plants. Wait a week, then repeat on any survivors. Best time to apply: during a dry spell. Do not spray on plants you want to keep.

EDITED TO ADD: I have found that the poison ivy plants that are not too old (less than a year old) respond extremely well to this treatment. Plants from older, more established roots will die but may come back a year later. Zap the new growth again with the killer. The roots will die of exhaustion because its energy is wasted in putting out all that new growth for nothing. Some really old roots are made of mutant zombie stuff, and may need a few more repeat doses.

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

PureCajunSunshine's Red Beans and Rice Recipe

This is Part Three in a trilogy. Part Two is "Wash Day on the Bayou", posted on July 30, 2007. Part One is "Red Beans and Rice, Old Time Creole Style: A Story and a Recipe", posted on July 26, 2007.

If you are not from South Louisiana, there are a few important things you need to know about preparing Red Beans and Rice...

The beans...

Although my family (and everyone else I knew back in the day) always used red kidney beans, I've heard that some people prefer small red beans. If you can't get either kind, Pinto beans and Great Northern beans are suitable substitutes.

When shopping for red kidney beans, try to pick the lightest colored beans for best flavor and creamiest texture. The darker the beans, the older and tougher they are.

Red kidney beans can take less than two hours to cook, or as in the old Wash Days, up to eight hours. For hurry-ups, I will include a thirty-minute recipe using canned beans.

The meat...

A variety of meats may be used, in any combination, or singly, according to personal preference. The meat may be cooked with the beans (ham hocks, pickled pork, a meaty hambone, and/or sausage), or it may be cooked separately and served on the side (sausage or pork chops).

I like to flavor my beans with about a pound of good quality smoked sausage, cut into two inch sections. On special occasions, I also prepare a side order of pork chops that have been dusted with a good Cajun or Creole seasoning blend, and fried in a small amount of bacon drippings.

Regional meats such as Andouille sausage or "Pickle Meat" adds a special home-style flavor to Red Beans and Rice. A good substitute for Andouille sausage is a high quality Kielbasa sausage, which is a wonderful Polish creation that is found in nearly every grocery store.

In the old days, when this dish was a six to eight hour affair, a meaty hambone from Sunday's dinner was broken and added to the pot to allow the marrow to be released during long cooking. A combination of the marrow and the effects of hours of cooking gave the beans a special creaminess. A dollop or two of butter stirred into the pot in the last minutes of cooking is a fine substitute for marrow.

The "trinity" and the "pope"...

In the old days, almost everyone in south Lousiana was Catholic. The faith permeated everything, even food.

In a south Louisiana kitchen, the trinity is a combination of three essential ingredients that form some of the basic flavors for many dishes, including Red Beans and Rice. Onions, celery and bell pepper are referred to as the "holy trinity". Garlic is referred to as the "pope" because the shape of a pod of garlic resembles the shape of the pope's miter...ok, his holy hat.

The trinity for this dish is sauteed, or gently cooked, in butter or bacon drippings until wilted. Then all the other ingredients are added.

The rice...

Hot fluffy rice is served in the center of the plate, and the creamy beans are spooned all around the hill of rice. If cooked separately, the sausage or pork chops are placed to the side, on top of the beans.

For a special touch, a small sprig of parsley atop the hot mound of rice, or a garnish of minced green onion sprinkled over the beans, is nice.

The recipe...

PureCajunSunshine's Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red kidney beans
1 medium-large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small or half a large bell pepper, chopped
1 or 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic
1 bunch of green onions, chopped from the bulb to the tip (about 2 cups)
1 or 2 generous dollop of butter
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1 heaping tablespoon dry parsley
1 pinch of thyme (what you can pick up between your thumb and index finger)
2 large bay leaves or 3 small ones
your favorite Louisiana hot sauce to taste
your choice of meat (see above commentary)
salt (add only after the beans begin to soften), or a good Cajun or Creole seasoning blend, to taste. See below for recipes for Creole Seasoning blends.

Clean the beans of garden rejects, gravel, dirt and anything else that doesn't belong there. Rinse until the water comes clear. Soak in water overnight. In the morning, drain water from the beans.

If you forgot to soak the beans, all is not lost. Put the beans in a large, heavy pot with enough water to cover them. Slowly bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes. Turn off heat. Let soak for an hour or two. Do not drain the liquid from the semi-cooked beans.

Chop the onions, celery and bell peppers into approximately 1/4" pieces. Chop the garlic fine. Saute the vegetables (cook over medium-low heat in a small amount of bacon drippings) until they are wilted and softened a bit, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Stir in half the green onions. Stir until wilted. Remove from pan, and set aside.

Add a small amount of bacon drippings to the pan, and fry sausage (or pork chops, etc.) until cooked. Remove meat, drain excess grease. Return sausage to the pot, add beans, and sauteed onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Add enough water to cover beans about two or three inches. Bring to a boil, and allow to cook over medium high heat for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to a gentle boil, add the bay leaves and thyme. Stir well, cover and cook for another hour, or longer if the beans are old. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. The use of a heavy pot also helps in this regard. Add a little water as needed to keep the beans from cooking dry.

After the beans begin to soften, smash some of them against the side of the pot to "cream" about a third of the beans. This gives the dish a wonderful creamy smoothness that glorifies hot fluffy rice!

Add salt, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Continue to cook a few minutes more, stirring frequently until the new flavors are well blended, and it is thickened enough to honor the rice with a rich and creamy bath.

Just before serving, stir the remaining cup of chopped green onions into the pot.

Serve with hot fluffy rice, with pork chops on the side. A fresh green salad and garlic bread are nice accompaniments to complete this culinary delight!

Ça c'est bon! (that's good!)

PureCajunSunshine's Thirty Minute Red Beans and Rice Recipe

In place of the beans in the above recipe, use five or six cans (15 1/2 oz. each) of red kidney beans. I like to use a combination of both light and dark red kidney beans. If you can get it, use one of these brands: "Blue Runner", or "Van Camp's Creole Red Beans". Dump the entire contents of two of the cans into a blender, and whiz it up good. Set aside.

For quicker cooking, use a good quality precooked smoked sausage. Brands such as Healthy Choice or Hillshire's are good.

After the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic have been sauteed, and the meat has been fried, and excess grease drained off, add all the canned beans (liquid included) to the pot, including the blender creamed ones. Add only enough water to keep the beans from cooking dry. Add seasonings and cook over medium high heat for 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently until flavors are well blended. Stir in chopped green onions just before serving.

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from . For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Make your own South Louisiana seasoning blends! Here are a couple of good recipes. These versions are not as complex as the (top secret) commercial versions, but they're darned close:

From Emeril Lagasse:

Emeril's Bayou Blast

2 1/2 T. paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T black pepper
1 T cayenne pepper powder
1 T oregano, dried and crumbled fine
1 T thyme, dried and crumbled fine

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Pour into a clean salt shaker.
Use on just about anything. Sprinkle generously before cooking.

This recipe is from Tony Chachere's Cajun Country Cookbook:

Tony Chachere's All-Purpose Creole Seasoning

1 box (26-oz) Morton's free flowing salt
1 box (1 1/2 oz) ground black pepper
1 bottle (2-oz) ground red pepper
1 bottle (1-oz)pure garlic powder
1 bottle (1-oz) chili powder
1 carton (1-oz) Monosodium glutamate (Accent)

Mix well and use like salt. When it's salty enough, it's "seasoned to perfection". Use generously on everything.

Tips: To season seafood use half of the above mixture and add:

1 tsp powdered thyme
1 tsp bay leaf
1 tsp sweet basil