Margaret Schindel's Articles on Metal Clay Techniques, Recipes, Jewelry and Crafts Projects, Product Reviews and More
Margaret Schindel - Writer, Editor, Digital Marketing Strategy Consultant, Jewelry Designer, Recipe Developer, Cooking and Baking Enthusiast
I'm a writer, magazine editor, jewelry designer, metal clay artist, digital marketing strategist, crafts lover, singer-songwriter, teacher, life-long learner, baker, wife, sister, friend and colleague. My personal and professional interests and experiences are rather eclectic and I enjoy writing articles about these diverse subjects.
My professional career has included marketing communications, digital marketing strategy, corporate training and development, fashion retail and more. Currently I'm a senior content strategist at Greenough, helping clients in healthcare and technology tell their brand stories in compelling ways. I'm the former Senior Editor and Technical Editor of Metal Clay Artist Magazine, now CreativeFire. I design one-of-a-kind and custom handcrafted jewelry, consult on digital marketing strategy through my consulting business, CommuniConcepts and write articles that inform, educate, entertain and inspire my target audiences.
I got in on the ground floor of B-to-B and consumer e-commerce in 1995 as a Marketing Programs Manager at IBM, where I wrote white papers, executive speeches, sales presentations, brochures, sales support guides, bylined articles, and positioning and messaging statements for the company's fledgling e commerce units. I couldn't contain my excitement about the coming transformation that the Web would bring to the way we lived, worked and played. I tried to convince my friends and family that, within just a few years, everyone would be ordering books, clothing, music, electronics, etc. online and having their purchases delivered to their doorsteps within days. They tolerated my enthusiastic rants kindly but clearly thought I had been brainwashed. (They came around eventually.)
I also was an early adopter on Squidoo, joining the site in December, 2005 and publishing articles there from early 2006 until October 2014 when it ceased operations. Now I've moved those articles to my new online writing home here on HubPages.
I write about my passions and interests. So if you want to know what my articles are about, you need to understand a bit more about the things I love most.
Things About Me You Didn't Know
- I used to sing professionally in clubs from college through my late twenties. As a teenager in New York City in the late 1960's, I used to perform folk and folk rock songs (singing and playing guitar) at more informal gatherings known as coffee houses.
- I took belly dancing as a gym elective in college.
- My husband is 10 years younger than I am.
- From ages 9 through 12 I attended a New York City school for children of diplomats and expatriates where all the classes were taught in French and English was taught as a foreign language.
I Adore Creating Metal Clay Jewelry and Objets D'Art
In this form, the metal clay be sculpted, impressed with any type of texture imaginable, molded, extruded, etc. When metal clay is allowed to dry, it can be drilled, carved, or sanded. Natural or manmade gemstones, wire, findings, settings, and other items can be embedded in the clay prior to firing it if they can survive the intense heat required for sintering (i.e., driving out the remaining water, burning out the binder material, and fusing together the metal particles). The metal particles compact together, filling the spaces left behind by the burned-out binder and evaporated water. As a result, the fired metal piece is smaller than the unfired metal clay. You can see how much my bronze clay beach scene charm, shown above, shrank from the dried metal clay state (AKA the metal clay greenware state) to the fired and finished bronze metal state.
As you can see in the photo, once the clay has been sintered, what remains is just the original metal, which retains the shape, texture, etc., you created. It's like alchemy - pure magic!
My Metal Clay Articles Series
I published my first articles on Squidoo in April 2006, not long after the site came out of beta testing. I had discovered metal clay, still a fairly new material for jewelry artists, in the latter part of 2004, and I was enthralled by this extraordinary new creative medium that could enable me to design nearly any type of jewelry I wanted to in pure silver or high-karat gold! My imagination went wild, but my design ideas were far more advanced than my technical abilities at the time.
I was anxious to ramp up my learning curve as quickly as possible and joined the Yahoo! Metal Clay Gallery, the world's largest and most knowledgeable metal clay discussion group. The members were international metal clay artists who participated actively, discussing ideas and generously shared their work, their experiences, and their evolving techniques as the collective community explored the seemingly limitless creative opportunities presented by this exciting new form of metal. I asked lots of questions and was thrilled and grateful when I received incredibly helpful answers from some of the world's top metal clay artists.
I read nearly every metal clay book that was available at that time, but there weren't many. Even most of those that did exist already were out of date, given the rapid pace at which the techniques, practices, and uses for this relatively new material - and even the metal clay formulas themselves - were evolving. Any new book about working with metal clay was pretty much guaranteed to be obsolete by the time it was published. The only way to stay current was online.
Unfortunately, since metal clay itself and the best practices for using it still were a rapidly moving target, no one had yet attempted to ferret out, collect, organize, sift through, and vet the best of the existing metal clay information and the few online resources that existed or resolve the conflicting information and recommended best practices. As a result, it was nearly impossible for anyone to stay up-to-date about metal clay.
I was looking for a way to give back to the metal clay community in appreciation for all the help I had received, collecting, synthesizing, and organizing my findings, and updating them frequently as new metal clay information, techniques, best practices, and uses were discovered, and had asked experts to help me resolve conflicting information. I had been looking for a way to and I realized that sharing my research findings with the metal clay community in a central, easily accessible, online location that would allow me to update the information frequently would be the best possible way for me to "pay it forward."
I published my first metal clay article, Precious Metal Clay - PMC and Art Clay Silver and Gold on April 11, 2006. It provided a brief explanation of precious metal clay, followed by categorized links to the very best and most authoritative information and resources I had found in my research, including metal clay guilds and organizations, some of the world's top metal clay artists and teachers, authoritative charts and data about such topics as which gemstones are safe to fire in metal clay (and at which firing schedules), the handful of metal clay projects that were available online at the time, the best of the books and educational DVDs I had read or watched, and more. Over the next few days I created three more metal clay articles. On April 14, 2006, I published my list of recommended must-have, nice-to-have, and want-to-have metal clay tools and supplies. And on April 15th, I published an article about the different forms of metal clay (lump clay, paste, syringe clay and "paper" type) and their uses and another about the similarities and differences between the two competing brands' different metal clay formulas (Art Clay Silver Original, ACS Low-Fire, ACS Slow-Dry, PMC, PMC+, PMC3, etc.). After many months of intense research and hard work, my series of metal clay articles finally had been born.
I had assumed that only relative newbies to metal clay would find this information valuable. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how deep and far-reaching the beneficial impact of my "pay it forward" project would turn out to be! As soon as I let the members of the Yahoo! Metal Clay Gallery group know about my new metal clay lenses, the positive response was overwhelming. Even the most seasoned metal clay artists and teachers told me that they found my new metal lenses to be an extremely valuable and much-needed resource. I was stunned!
Encouraged by this feedback, I went on to develop two longer and much more detailed metal clay articles that year. In July 2006 I published one sharing many different techniques for setting gemstones in metal clay (both fire-in-place stones and stones to be set after firing). In August I was certified as a PMC Certified Artisan by renowned artist and metal clay pioneer Celie Fago. And in September I published an article that explored dozens of different ways to add texture to metal clay. Eight years later when Squidoo ceased operations, three of those four metal clay articles remained among my highest ranked! I was astonished, thrilled and humbled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback of top metal clay artists and instructors worldwide, and extremely proud to learn that I had, indeed, accomplished my goal - to create the most comprehensive, reliable, authoritative and up-to-date online resource for metal clay artists.
Since then I've significantly expanded my metal clay articles series, with topics ranging from working with BRONZclay (the first commercially available bronze metal clay formula) to a tutorial on how to weave fine silver "fabric" from metal clay "paper" sheet to my personal, unbiased reviews of noteworthy metal clay-related products. I'm incredibly honored that so many of the top metal clay artists and instructors around the world routinely use my metal clay articles for reference and recommend them to their students. I'm also extremely proud and grateful that three of my articles in this series were selected to receive Purple Star awards for outstanding content.
Writing this series of metal clay articles turned out to be a life-changing experience beyond anything I could have imagined. Today I have an international reputation as a metal clay expert. My metal clay articles have been among the recommended resources in many metal clay artists' blogs and also in several top books on metal clay, including Metal Clay Fusion by respected metal clay master Gordon Uyehara and Metal Clay Beyond the Basics" by talented fiber and metal artist Carol A. Babineau. And I adore my work as the Senior Editor and Technical Editor of Metal Clay Artist Magazine and periodic contributing author, a position in which I have technical expertise credibility thanks in part to my series of metal clay articles online.
As you can imagine, Squidoo always will have a very special place in my heart.
Two of my Favorite Metal Clay Books
I have a very large library of metal clay books. In fact, I own nearly every book and DVD about metal clay that has ever been published!
Here are two of my favorites from that collection.
Contemporary Metal Clay Rings by Hattie Sanderson
Artist, teacher, entrepreneur and author Hattie Sanderson (creator of HattieS Patties and other HattieS brand metal clay supplies) is best known for her exquisite and elaborate metal clay rings. In this marvelous, well written and beautifully illustrated book, Hattie shares her techniques for making stunning, durable, one-of-a-kind metal clay rings.
Metal Clay Fusion by Gordon Uyehara
Gordon Uyehara is one of the world's top metal clay artists and is a highly sought-after instructor. In this excellent book he shares not only his precise techniques but also his philosophy about creativity and creating mindfully from a calm, centered and inspired place. The terrific projects are instantly identifiable as being Gordon's designs. More importantly, the techniques you'll learn can be incorporated into your unique, original designs and will help you improve your craftsmanship significantly.
My Metal Clay Articles on HubPages
Metal Clay - Precious Metal Clay / PMC and Art Clay Silver and Gold - Recommended metal clay teachers, artists, organizations, guilds, projects and more.
Forms of Metal Clay: Lump, Slip, Syringe and Paper Learn the most common uses and applications for the four forms of metal clay: lump clay, slip (AKA paste), syringe clay and paper type clay.
Metal Clay Brands and Formulas - Learn the key characteristics of each precious metal clay formula from the two major brands, PMC and Art Clay and the types (lump, syringe, paper, paste, overlay paste) available in each gold and silver clay formula.
Metal Clay Materials, Tools, Supplies and Equipment - The basic must-have, nice-to-have and want-to-have materials, tools, supplies and equipment for working with metal clay.
Metal Clay Textures - Learn dozens of ways to texture metal clay using found objects, DIY texture sheets and texturing tools, and commercial products.
Setting Gemstones in Metal Clay - Learn a wide variety of options for setting natural, lab and synthetic gemstones such as CZs in metal clay, both before and after firing.
Metal Clay Weaving Tutorial - Learn how to weave strips cut from PMC Sheet, Art Clay Silver Paper Type or thin sheets of PMC Flex silver metal clay into woven silver "fabric" for making unique metal clay jewelry.
Metal Clay Product Reviews - My personal recommendations for unusual or specialized metal clay related products that are worth owning.
Reconstituting Dry Metal Clay - Learn several different methods for rehydrating or reconstituting metal clay that has dried out significantly or even completely.
Drying Metal Clay - Learn the pros and cons of several different metal clay drying methods and the trade-offs between fast drying and even drying without warping for each method.
Metal Clay Techniques Overview - gateway to articles about metal clay techniques
Homemade PMC silver clay oil paste - How to turn regular PMC silver lump clay or slip into silver oil paste for making the strongest joins in PMC silver metal clay.
Metal Clay Storage - A look at several effective options for short-term and long-term storage of any type or formula of lump metal clay.
BRONZclay Bronze Clay (Bronze Metal Clay) A comprehensive guide to Metal Adventures' original BRONZclay formula which, despite its long firing time, remains a favorite among many metal clay artists because of its strength, flexibility, carving qualities and shrinkage properties.
BRONZclay Tools and Supplies This article focuses on the tools and supplies you will need for working with BRONZclay brand bronze clay.
Metal Clay Articles and Jewelry Making Articles by Margaret Schindel - a central resource for accessing all of my Metal Clay and Jewelry Making articles here on HubPages.
Metal Clay Resources: Links to the Best, Most Useful Metal Clay Information Online An explanation of key metal clay characteristics plus links to excellent, informative and helpful metal clay articles and sites.
Some of My Metal Clay CreationsClick thumbnail to view full-size
I'm Also a Polymer Clay Artist and Mokume Gane is My Favorite Polymer Clay Technique
Crafters and artists have been using polymer clay as a fun, affordable, and versatile creative material since long before the invention of metal clay. When my mother was alive I taught at class at the day program for seniors she attended on how to make polymer clay "red hat" pins and pendants with bright purple accents. I conditioned the polymer clay as the participants watched, since most of them didn't have the strength to work the stiff clay through the pasta machine themselves. Then I helped each of them create a unique piece of "red hat" jewelry to wear or give as a gift. They all enjoyed the experience tremendously, and I am grateful for the opportunity not only to serve them but also to learn from them about things of far greater importance.
The polymer clay mokume gane technique is what got me working with polymer clay in earnest, after seeing the exquisite work of artists like Nan Roche, Barbara McGuire, Celie Fago, Lindly Haunani, and Donna Kato. In subsequent years I discovered the work of many more polymer clay artists who use mokume gane, including Julie Picarello, Debbie Carlton and Melanie Muir among others.
If you love the look of polymer clay mokume gane, too, you'll love it even more when you discover that this technique isn't hard to do! Learn how easy it is to make your own beautiful polymer clay mokume gane cabochons for jewelry in my step-by-step tutorial.
I also enjoy using polymer clay in other ways to make jewelry and other items. I once made a really cool business card holder made from polymer clay faux marble. Polymer clay and metal clay also can be used together to create some great pieces! One of the polymer clay jewelry designs I came up with was a vibrant, colorful polymer clay fantasy flower that could be made into a pin or pendant, or in a smaller size to make earrings. I decided to photograph and document the process and turned it into a project article.
I Design One-of-a-Kind and Custom Handcrafted Jewelry
I am a self-taught jewelry artist with a passion for vintage beads, crystals, and brass filigrees. I also love using art glass components and discovering new glass artists whose work I can incorporate into my jewelry designs. I especially enjoy designing custom wedding and bridal jewelry. It's a wonderful feeling to know that I've helped brides to have the wedding jewelry of their dreams and to give their bridesmaids one-of-a-kind gifts to wear and cherish for a lifetime.
I acquired my love of beads at an early age, when my mother came back from a trip to Italy with gorgeous Venetian glass beads and strung them, mixed with other beads and crystals, into long, opera-length strands that she wore for many years in a variety of different configurations. She had a wonderful jewelry collection, a mix of high-quality designer costume jewelry and fine jewelry, including some very fine antique and estate pieces that my father sometimes purchased for her as birthday and anniversary gifts. Clearly, I came by my love of beautiful jewelry honestly!
I adore jewelry from the 1950s, '60s and '70s made with cage work/tapestry beading and collaged elements, techniques made popular by designers Miriam Haskell, Stanley Hagler, Ian St. Gielar, and Robert DeMario.
The large, red bead-embroidered brooch shown in the photo is an example of this style of jewelry, with collaged layers of tapestry beaded components.
It's a bit easier to see the cage work bead embroidery technique in this close-up shot that shows one of a pair of earrings I designed as a custom commission for a client.The seed pearls, Swarovski crystals, rose montées, and diamond-shaped crystal components (originally links from a crystal bracelet I took apart) were hand-embroidered onto the brass filigrees with extremely fine wire.
Many people have asked me about my sources for the rare, vintage beads and other jewelry supplies and components I use in my jewelry designs, and also about how to do cageworking and various other jewelry making techniques. So I created an article that answers those questions.
More of My One-of-a-Kind Jewelry DesignsClick thumbnail to view full-size
I've Always Been Fascinated by Glass Art / Art Glass - Lampwork Glass Beads and Sculptures, Blown Glass Vessels and Goblets, and Fused Glass Art
I have been in love with art glass (AKA glass art) ever since I was a little girl and saw the first strands of shimmering Murano glass beads my mom brought back with her from a trip to Venice, Italy with my dad. When I married for the second time, my husband and I honeymooned in Florence and the Tuscan countryside and had the privilege of studying lampwork glass bead making with renowned glass artist and teacher Kristina Logan. In later years I began collecting Josh Simpson's incredible glass "inhabited planets" and was introduced to the breathtaking glass chandeliers and huge yet delicate glass sculpture installations of Dale Chihuly.
I'm a Clothes Horse and Crafts Junkie - A Fun Combination
I grew up in Manhattan and spent roughly 10 years working in the retail fashion world, and decades later my love of clothing remains unabated. My tastes, however, have changed along with my location and my lifestyle. As I get older, I find I'm less concerned with being at the height of fashion and more concerned with comfort and creative self-expression.
Sometimes I combine my love of clothes with my love of crafting and creating art. I once bleached a pair of jeans to create an ombré shading from light blue at the hem to dark blue from mid-thigh upward and then painted a large silhouette of the New York City skyline and added a field of randomly scattered rhinestones as "stars" in the night sky above the shadowed buildings. I wore them until they were in shreds.
More recently, I transformed a pair of old, boring, leather comfort sandals into something a lot more fun by painting them my favorite palette of blues and greens and embellishing some of the straps with faceted glass jewels and heliotrope-colored rhinestone accents. I documented my sandal painting and embellishing adventure online, and now you can transform your own footwear, too. Your imagination's the limit!
As an Artist / Creative Type, I'm Extremely Drawn to Color
One of the things I enjoy most about designing beaded jewelry or painting or choosing an outfit, for that matter, is choosing the right color or colors to evoke the desired mood or emotional response to my creative efforts. I have an instinctive knack for putting together unusual and sophisticated color combinations, especially in my one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry designs. Even if I'm designing a black necklace, for example, I almost always combine varying shades of black, dark blue, dark green, etc. so that the overall effect is black but with much more depth and visual movement.
My favorite color by far is blue, but when it comes to evoking strong emotions, red beats any other hue hands down! When I started researching red color symbolism, I was amazed at how many different (and sometimes opposing) concepts it is used to represent, from courage to joy to danger to lust to revolution to confidence...the list goes on and on! The common denominator for the things that the color red is used to symbolize is intensity and depth of emotion.
In the course of my research I also became increasingly fascinated with the color psychology associated with red, how people's reactions to red change depending on the context, and the ways we can use it to evoke certain desired responses, such as using red plates, glasses, tablecloths or napkins to increase guests' enjoyment of the food served and to promote livelier conversation.
I decided to share these fascinating findings in an article that I playfully titled "50 Shades of Red".
I Love Making Top 10 Lists
I've been writing top 10 lists ever since my first digital marketing presentation on e-commerce best practices in 1997 titled "Ten Keys to Customer Service Online." Numbered lists are a great way to package and organize information about a topic. Here are some of my top 10 list articles.
Top 10 Halloween Party Movies for People and Families Who Don't Like Horror Films (Plus 3 Bonus Picks) My picks for 13 movies that won't scare the socks off you, your family or your friends that are suitable for viewing on Halloween.
Top 10 Frighteningly Good Movies for a Halloween Party Plus 3 Scary Bonus Picks! Are chills and thrills your idea of a good time on Halloween? Then these 13 spine-tingling horror movies and scary films, including three Oscar winners, will be perfect for entertaining yourself and your guests on All Hallows Eve.
Top 10 Beach Vacation Tips for a Perfect Getaway! My practical guide chock full of savvy tips to help you make the most of your next trip to the beach, whether it's for a day, a weekend, a week or a month.
The Top 10 Travel Gifts for Business Travelers & Road Warriors My personal recommendations for the 10 best travel gifts you can give to any business - or leisure - traveler... including yourself!
I've Got a Weakness for Whoopie Pies
Most whoopie pie lovers started eating whoopies when they were kids. But even people like me who didn't get their first taste of a whoopie pie until much later in life still feel like a kid as soon as they bite into this homey confection, which consists of two large cake-like cookies sandwiched together with a thick layer of frosting-like filling and demands to be eaten with a tall glass of cold milk. They're dangerously addictive, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to eat a whoopie pie without smiling. (Amy Bouchard, creator and head baker of Maine's renowned Wicked Whoopies whoopie pies, says there are at least 10 smiles in every Wicked Whoopie Pie.)
If you've never tasted a whoopie pie, you're probably wondering why my ardor for this seemingly ordinary cross between an unfrosted layer cake and an Oreo cookie seems way out of proportion. Trust me - it pales by comparison to the passion this treat has inspired in the residents and state officials of Pennsylvania and Maine, whose well-publicized and ongoing feud for the bragging rights as the true birthplace of the whoopie pie often is referred to in the media as the "Whoopie Pie War"! I think The Food Network is missing a big opportunity here. Wouldn't you love to watch a new TV series called "Whoopie Pie Wars" in which top bakers compete to bake the best-tasting, best-looking whoopie pies using offbeat mandatory ingredients?
I wrote an article in which I shared Amy Bouchard's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies Recipe and told the extraordinary success story of how she grew her tiny local whoopie pie baking and delivery business into a successful Fortune 5000 company.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies Recipe from the Owner of Maine's Famous Wicked Whoopies Bakery
I didn't experience the joys of the whoopie pie until was in my early 40s. A dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, I had moved to Boston several years earlier for personal and professional reasons, and I was slowly starting to warm to my adoptive home. I also had spent most of my college years in New Hampshire, but I soon discovered I still had a great deal to learn about New England traditions.
The man who became my husband several years later (and there may be some connection to the event) introduced me to this luscious treat by offering me a bite of his Classic Wicked Whoopie Pie (whoopie pies so awesome that Oprah chose them for her "O List"). It wasn't until I savored that first bite of moist chocolate cake layers and creamy vanilla filling that I understood how much he must love me to want to share his delectable treat! One bite was all it took for me to become hooked on whoopies.
Since Wicked Whoopies sell out fast where we live, and because "Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven," eventually I decided to research and test the best whoopie pie recipes I could find in hopes of being able to bake whoopies in my own kitchen that closely resembled Wicked Whoopies. My wonderful mother-in-law introduced me to nonstick whoopie pie pans, which I liked so much that I wrote an entire article on them.
Finally, after a great deal of time and effort researching, tasting and tweaking whoopie pie recipes, I hit the jackpot when I discovered that Amy Bouchard had shared some of her original recipes for the Wicked Whoopie Pies she used to bake in her home kitchen, including the classic chocolate whoopie pie recipe that helped launch her now-famous Wicked Whoopies business! I shared a link to her Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie recipe in my lens about the best whoopie pie pans.
Confessions of a Chocoholic
There are two kinds of people: those who love chocolate and those who don't. I fall squarely into the first camp. Dark chocolate is my favorite, and even more so since I learned about the health benefits to consuming dark chocolate in moderation, but I never met any type of chocolate I didn't like.
I love chocolate straight, with nuts, with fruit... you name it. I also love to bake with chocolate. My chocolate cognac brownies are legendary, as is my amazing dark chocolate fondue with honey and cognac, a recipe I developed based on the original Toblerone chocolate fondue I used to make for special dinner dates when I was in college.
I included that recipe in my article for fellow chocoholics that features a mix of my own chocolate dessert recipes and those of famous chefs and restaurants, including a recipe dupe for the legendary hot chocolate served at the caf Angelina in Paris called Chocolat Chaud L'Africain.
The wonderful movie Chocolat is a sensuous cinematic confection starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Lena Olin and Alfred Molina. My husband and I own the DVD and my husband and I always enjoy watching it again ... always while nibbling on a sumptuous chocolate dessert.
I Adore the Delightful British Custom of Afternoon Tea
I have loved the ritual of afternoon tea since the 1970s, when I lived in New York City and friend took me out to a full afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel to celebrate my 21st birthday. After that, treating myself to an occasional afternoon tea at the lovely Stanhope Hotel on Fifth Avenue (now sadly defunct) or, occasionally, at the Plaza or the Ritz Hotel, became one of my favorite splurges.
Although I haven't lived in New York for more than 20 years, and sadly the Stanhope Hotel and its beautiful tea room are long gone, I've since developed my own delicious recipe for ginger-raspberry scones, learned how to brew and serve a full-flavored, proper pot of English tea, and accumulated the knowledge and recipes to prepare a simple cream tea with warm scones, jam, and clotted cream to enjoy solo or with my husband, all the way through to an elegant, three-course, full afternoon tea suitable for an afternoon wedding, engagement party, birthday party, or other occasion.
I decided to write an article sharing my recipes, tips, and recommendations on enjoying this delightful custom, which was inspired by my discovery that January is National Hot Tea Month. Enjoy!
I Enjoy Tinkering With and Inventing New Recipes
I've been cooking and baking since I was 9 years old, and I rarely make a recipe exactly as written. Over the years I've gotten quite good at tweaking other people's recipes to make them my own and at developing my own recipes from scratch.
One of my favorite recipes that I came up with on my own is my Sweet & Smoky Sloppy Joes with Peaches. It's easy to make and absolutely delicious. Even my brother, who barely cooks at all, wanted me to give him the recipe after I made it for him during a recent visit. And because it can be made with dry-packed frozen peach slices when fresh peaches aren't in season, it can be made year 'round.
I Try to Balance Out my Occasional Food Splurges with Healthy Cooking and Eating!
Much as I adore indulging in chocolate desserts and scones with clotted cream and jam, most of the time I actually try to eat nutritious, healthy foods. Since I love vegetables but I'm not so fond of cleaning and chopping them, whenever possible, I try to prepare healthy food in quantity so I can enjoy it for several meals.
One of the things I love to make is a big batch of soup that I can freeze in smaller containers so my husband and I can enjoy a bowl of it whenever we like. The first soup recipe I published on was my Healthy Vegetable Soup Recipe with Cannellini Beans and Chicken Sausage. It came about when I started playing with the Tuscan Vegetable Soup recipe from chef Ellie Krieger on the Food Network site and eventually ended up with a somewhat similar but definitely different soup tailored to my husband's and my taste preferences.
I've also developed healthy or healthier recipes for candied walnuts or pecans to add protein, crunch, heart healthy fat and a touch of sweetness to my fresh salads and to my luscious Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream that's vegan, dairy free and gluten free sweet treat, a tropical fresh fruit salad you can enjoy year-round, and quite a few other good-for-you (or better-for-you) recipes that you'll find here on HubPages.
I Got the Music in Me!
As a singer and songwriter, I can't imagine a life without music! At the risk of dating myself, my favorite music still comes from the 1970s, the heyday of the singer-songwriters. Give me James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Neil Young), Dan Fogelberg or Bonnie Raitt any day! Not that I don't also love more contemporary musicians like Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson (okay, so they're not so contemporary either...) or music from the '40s, '50s and '60s.
When I performed in clubs both on and off campus during my college years, I sang a lot of Joni Mitchell songs. She's an extraordinary artist and human being. Learn all about her life and her work in my tribute article to this remarkable musician.
I Have a Soft Spot for Claymation / Stop-Motion Animation (and Especially Wallace and Gromit)
Clay animation is a form of stop-motion animation that uses 3D models sculpted from oil-based modeling clay, sometimes built over wire armatures. These clay models (which can be either characters or objects, such as furniture or cars) are arranged on a set or background designed to scale and posed. One or two frames of motion picture film are exposed, or a videocam, webcam or digital camera is used to capture the frames digitally, and then the pose of each affected model in the shot is altered slightly before capturing another frame or two of the image. When those frames are butted together afterward, those clay models appear to come to life. For me, watching a really complex claymation sequence feels almost like watching a magic show, leaving me scratching my head and wondering how on earth the animators managed to achieve a particular effect.
Will Vinton coined the term Claymation for his studio's distinctive style of clay animation, and his hilarious animated California Raisins characters (originally created for TV commercials for the California Raisin Board) became enormously popular "stars" in their own right. My husband and I are huge fans of Nick Park's wonderful clay animated characters, Wallace and Gromit, who have starred in a series of hilarious films as well as in commercials and even as hosts of their own television program about inventions and inventors. But my earliest memories of clay animated characters are of Gumby and Pokey.
I decided to do some research to learn a bit more about this wonderful stop-motion animation technique and to share it with others who might be interested in it.
I Love Enjoying a Relaxing Bubble Bath in a Spa-Like Environment
Dictionary.com defines a sybarite as "a person devoted to luxury and pleasure." My budget doesn't include jet-setting to spas or dining at restaurants that specialize in champagne, caviar and Kobe beef, but that doesn't mean I can't indulged in such sybaritic pleasures as a luscious dark chocolate fondue with cognac, a relaxing massage from my husband, the delicious scent of fragrant candles, or a luxurious, hot bubble bath — preferably in combination!
I wrote an article celebrating National Bubble Bath Day with advice on how to turn your next bubble bath into a luxurious, spa like retreat to enjoy solo or share with your romantic partner.
Are You a Writer, Too?
If so, what is your favorite topic to write about?
© 2012 Margaret Schindel