The Pinstorsity Pay it Forward November Challenge

Our friends over at Pintrosity have launched a challenge that we think all of our creative readers and Pinterest lovers out there should know about.

Pinstrosity have launched a challenge where each month they ask their readers to put pins to the test all around a certain theme. Last month the theme was ‘pumpkin’ and readers tried out pumpkin recipies and crafts from Pinterest and submitted the results to Pinstrosity for sharing.

So far, so fun, right?

Well, for November they have upped their game and in the month that precedes the season of giving they have set the theme as Pay it Forward.

They are asking readers to use their Pinterest boards to inspire them to an act of kindness; this can be a gift they bake, make or create or just something nice they are pinterest-inspired to do for someone else. This theme is wide open for interpretation!

Here are the rules:

  1. Browse through your Pinterest boards and find pins that fit the theme that inspire you. If you are not sure where to start you can check out the Official Pinstrosity Challenge Pinterest Board for ideas
  2. Once you’ve found some pins on Pinterest that inspire you, build on that inspiration! See cookies you want to try, but you don’t want to have a whole batch sitting around? Make some, save a small plate for you and take the rest to a neighbour. Make the Giving Plate and deliver it. Make fun aprons and volunteer at a soup kitchen. Do service related activities with your children. You can follow the pin instructions to a T, or you can just work off your inspiration and go for a Pin Spin.
  3. Take a picture of the outcome, whether it goes well or whether you end up with a bonefide Pinstrosity!
  4. Email your pictures, the link to the project you were inspired by, and any bit of the story you want to tell to pinstoristy@gmail.com. You have until 8:00 AM (MST) on December 1st to send us your Pay it Forward project.
  5. On Saturday6th December Pinstorsity will do a Round Up post and show the projects that were sent in.
  6. All projects submitted as part of the challenge need to have been completed in November 2014. No submitting projects you did last year. The point of this challenge is to get you to actually use Pinterest to inspire your life!
  7. Feel free to submit as many times as you want!

I know we are a little late in sharing this but there are still two weeks left to go and I want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. I am looking through my pin-boards right now to see what projects I might do…I think it will be something to do with peanut butter chip cookies!

You can see the official Pinstrosity November Challenge page here.

Happy crafting/baking/creating!

P.S Read the creators of Pinterest answer our Q&A here.

P.P.S Read the Pinstrosity guide on ‘What to Do When it all Goes Wrong’ here.

What to do When it All goes Wrong

Let us set up a situation here, one I’m sure many of you are already familiar with. You’ve found the perfect project online, perhaps even from Pinterest. You get your supplies, crank up your “in the zone” music, and get working. Then things start to go wrong. Horribly wrong. The homemade fondant you made for your daughter’s birthday cake looks like saggy skin. The new homemade facial scrub you found online has inexplicably dyed your skin blue. The dresser you are trying to repurpose into a hang glider just isn’t working out. Things just keep getting worse by the second and there’s nothing you can do to stop the inevitable. Throwing ourselves into hysterics, grabbing a bag of chocolates, and hiding in our closets are always tempting at times such as these, but sadly all that does is produce headaches and cavities.

Our names are Emilee, Rachel, and Marquette and we make up the team over at Pinstrosity. We’ve put our heads together and have come up with 8 tips for what to do when it all goes wrong, be it a craft project or a hard life event, so you don’t end up in a sugar coma at the bottom your closet.

Reach out to your friends:

8. Reach Out to Friends

We live in this amazing world where we can be connected to people at all times. If you are having problems send a call out to family and friends! You will probably be surprised how many of them can help you with what you are doing. Look up a thread online about the topic you are venturing into: cake decorating, wood working, cross stitch, paper mache, wrecked motorcycle, you name it, there’s a thread for that! Seek out the help of those who have paved the way before you, and eventually you can pass on your vast knowledge as well!

Don’t start late at night

7. Don't Start a Late Night Project

The creative urge can hit at ANY time, and sometimes that is at 10:30 P.M. on a Wednesday. We know we shouldn’t start that late. We have work, or appointments, or kids to take care of the next day starting at 6 A.M., but the craft urge knows no clock!

Our suggestion is NOT starting projects late at night. At that time of night you are tired, you have just done the million things that we do on a daily basis, and projects don’t always like to cooperate. When we are tired everything is multiplied by a hundred, and that includes frustrations. We’ve all been there.

Emilee says, “I am guilty of starting projects late too many times to count and more often than not I end up frustrated, something inevitably breaks, something goes missing, and things just aren’t fitting together like they should. If I try again in the morning magically I have found my scissors, the glue gun is working again, and I have fresh eyes and hands to try again.” Give yourself time!

Sleep on it

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We know…patience is rough. Most of us like to have things done RIGHT NOW! That isn’t always a great idea though. We’ll rush to finish a project and then the next day, or two days later, realize that it could have been done an easier way. Or we’ll realize the project could have been done a different way that may have been better in the end anyway. Sleep cures a lot of things, such as crafting block for one, or a potential Pinstrosity for another! Also, your body may go to sleep, but your brain is still churning. Keep a notebook by the side of your bed and write down any ideas you wake up with in the middle of the night, it may be a solution to your conundrum. You may think you’ll remember them in the morning, but often they are gone from memory.

Re-read the instructions

5. Re-read the Instructions

Rachel spent the whole of the last year of her life as the person who wrote instructions on how to build military grade surveillance systems (not kidding); she loved it. But, she does admit that “when I left work, I became the person who NEVER read the instructions…ever! I’ve gone so far as discarding the instructions before starting my project, as I was convinced that a measly bit of paper couldn’t stack up against my sheer creative genius. Do you know how often I had to shamefully root those instructions out of the trash? Almost every time.”

What does this anecdotal evidence mean for you, fellow creative genius? Sometimes, we have to re-read the instructions. Or, if we’re keeping it real, sometimes we have to read the instructions in the first place. Not all instructions are without flaw, but realizing that you’ve glanced over a sentence that says “do not” instead of “do” can mean the difference between hanging your project over the fireplace and burning the project in the fire pit out back.

No. We’re not joking. Re-read the instructions. We promise, Pinstrositeers’ honor, one of these times you’ll really thank us.

Assess materials

4. Assess Materials

At Pinstrosity, we have a section of Common Problems. There you’ll find what we like to call “Revise Your Supplies”. Revise Your Supplies is the second most common problem. Sometimes failure isn’t 100% operator error. If you have a supply list, grab it and give it a once/twice/thrice over. If you don’t, it’s time to take a serious inventory of your project. You’ll be asking yourself questions like these:

  • Do I actually have everything I need? (Then force yourself to double check. Don’t just say “yes” because you’re 98% sure that you do.)
  • Did I make any substitutions for this project? (If so, what were they? If not, did you really get exactly what the instructions called for?)
  • Does it matter that I got this from dollar store or should I have buckled and gone to Home Depot?
  • What the heck is a jelly roll pan anyway? I’ll use this square-ish one that’s already in my kitchen instead.
  • Does “tsp” mean teaspoon or tablespoon, again?
  • Should I be feeling foolish right now? (Just kidding, though you may find yourself thinking that).

Reassessing your supplies really is one of the keys to helping you save a project… or… just mutilating it less. WE ALL HAVE TO DO THIS! Seriously. We’re not typing it to make you feel better. You can count on one of us to be the one who says “Well, this calls for x. But I don’t have x, I have y!”. If “y” is an option that 1. Doesn’t require us leaving the creative vortex to shop, and 2. Doesn’t require us to spend more money—we are all over it. If the project is not going as planned, this phase is the one that makes me scratch my head (if I’m baking, this is usually when I find that I’ve forgotten to add baking soda).

I repeat: inventory of materials has the potential to save your project.

Read and research

3. Read and Research

There are times when you do have everything you’re supposed to have and the project still flops. What then? When in doubt, research it out. This is when the search engine of your choice becomes your best friend. Find as many like projects as you can and pour over the details (that includes blog comments. Really. They can be so helpful).

Still no luck? If you see that articles/blogs/comments have made mention of alternative supplies, include their suggestions in your search: “scotch tape vs. striping tape”, “jelly vs. jam”, “locknut vs. washer”. In general, just try to sponge up as much information as you can. There are several billion people on the planet. Chances are someone has not only had the same problem, but has posted about it online. Harness the power of the interwebs for your project.

I think it may go without saying, but I’ll state the obvious anyway: Pinstrosity really is a celebration of error and a mechanism to share experiences. We promise, when you confess to us that you can’t use modge podge instead of Elmer’s glue, you’re saving another reader from finding out the hard way!

Find the humor and resist the urge to freak out

2. Laugh Rather than Freak Out

I don’t think it’s fair to say that any one item on this list is more valid than another. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that finding humor in failure dictates how you will spend the days immediately following the fail. We all have our stories that deal with this very point.

The first Christmas Marquette and Cameron were married there was a disputation about how to string the lights on the tree (haha, what troubles). There was freaking out with both parties involved. Now, every year when it comes time to string the lights that first ridiculous Christmas comes up. They can laugh at it now, but it’s with some embarrassment for even freaking out in the first place. It’s just more pleasant if you don’t create memories of melt downs, especially when those memories get tied to specific objects or traditions. But, then you do get to laugh every year!

About a year ago, Rachel had what her and her boyfriend refer to as “The Curry Meltdown”: “My curry fail was so spectacular that I found myself sobbing on the living room floor, and I’m twenty-five years old! It wasn’t until the following day that the meltdown started to be anything less than mortifying.

After a while, I was able to smile to myself, though only for a moment. Then, I garnered the courage to discuss said meltdown with the boyfriend (who witnessed the entire spectacle). Hearing his side of the story actually made me break into a chuckle. By this point, I couldn’t avoid telling my family and closest friends. Once I saw how hysterically each and every one of them laughed at my fail, I was far enough away from it that I allowed myself to join in. Now look at me, I’m happily writing about it!”

Bottom line: if there is anything we can recommend that you do when it all goes wrong, it’s get yourself to the point of laughter. Let go of the anger and the shame. Laughter re-awakens your mind and gives your brain the time to release some endorphins (because, science). Plus, if you cry and/or throw stuff, you’ll only have more fail to clean up later. They really do mean it when they say you can laugh about it or you can cry about it. So, go ahead and laugh about it.

Take a picture and send it to us

1. Send it To Us

Right along with finding the humor in the situation and learning to laugh at yourself, the next tip we have for you (which is a little self-serving I suppose) is to take a picture, type up the story, and send it to Pinstrosity so we can laugh with you.

Pinstrosity has become a sort of Pinners Anonymous group where we can come together to troubleshoot problems, brings smiles to faces across the globe, and to share our awesome stories.

It’s a place where we can discover cyber friends who have had the same project plops we have. For some reason there really is camaraderie in failure. At Pinstrosity, we truly aren’t laughing at you. We’ve been there. We’ve had projects go up in flames (literally). We’re laughing with you.

Q&A with Pinstrosity

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When it comes to creative work most of us want to show the world the best of the best of our output. We only want our perfections on display. Yet one blog has found the joy and inspiration in enthusiastically displaying creative projects that have gone terribly wrong.

Pinstrosity is a fun and friendly corner of the internet and, for a site that documents good ideas that have ended in disaster, it is strangely inspiring.

Meet Marquette, Emilee and Rachel for a behind the scenes look into the wonderful world of Pinstrosity!

How would you describe Pinstrosity to someone who has never heard of it before?

Pinstrosity is a place in cyber space to show the real side of Pinterest. It is a place for people to come to showcase projects that didn’t turn out as seen on Pinterest, a place to come and giggle at yourself, and a place to come to learn new tips and tricks. Pinstrosity is a community of real life Pinterest users, showcasing their humorous project results.

Why did you start the blog?

We started Pinstrosity as a fun personal blog after a few of our own Pinterest projects turned out as flops. It was a blog to make fun of ourselves and to document our Pinterest projects. We wanted something that we could do together as friends and the blog seemed like the perfect idea, as well as a great reason to keep trying out things from Pinterest.

What have been some of your favourite ‘pinstrosities’?

We know that this is corny, but picking a favorite truly is a hard! As we were putting this together, Rachel said “I love that people take the time to write to us and share their stories. I love being able to share my fails with people who understand.”

Of course, GCT 4s and 5s always warrant a gasp and then laughter ensues (if no one was seriously hurt). I will say that one of the things that makes for an especially good Pinstrosity post are lots of details and pictures. I always appreciate witty writing, and some of the submissions received are downright hysterical.” But, with that said, we decided to at least show you some of our favorites. Are these our all-time favorites? No clue, but they definitely are favorites!

Melted Minions:

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The Leaning Tower of Kids:

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Yarn Balloons:

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The Russian Honeycomb Cake:

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To say that ‘Pinstrosity’ highlights a lot of hilarious failures, the site is never mean-spirited or mocking. You laugh with people not at them, and then you research and offer advice on to how to avoid the problem next time. How important is the ‘how to fix this’ aspect of the blog to you?

We feel like the “how to fix this” portion of the blog sets us apart from other Pinterest and social media humor sites. Many of the sites are there simply to make fun of posts and projects through pictures. We knew that if we wanted our site to be different, and if we wanted the site to not be seen as snarky or mean-spirited, that we needed to have an aspect to the blog that most of the others didn’t have. We feel like having the “how to fix this” aspect turns our blog into more of a community, or support group, than just a humor site. Readers send in such awesome emails and comments with additional tips and suggestions on how to fix a project, or saying “Hey, that happened to me too! Now I know what I did wrong!”. It makes the site a place where we can all laugh at ourselves and help each other out.

The blog covers a whole range of crafts and creativity from baking and cooking, to art work, design, fashion and hair and beauty… What are your personal favourite forms of creativity? What do you like doing the most?

Emilee: Redecorating my house!! I love re-purposing thrift or second hand goods for decorative purposes. Finding an old cast off thrift item and turning it into something beautiful and usable for my house is so much fun. This allows me to bring my style into my home, and to make my home uniquely ‘us’ without draining our bank account in the process. And it’s always fun to say, “Thanks! I made that!”.

Marquette: I really love event planning as it allows me to try out so many different forms of creativity. Creating decorations, food, taking photographs, costumes/clothing, games, invitations, and seeing others enjoying the event are all so much fun for me. Music and writing are also major parts of me and my creative core. Some of the times in my life I have received the most inspiration from God is when I have been singing, playing the piano, or writing.

Rachel: I love fashion, but since I can’t sew, I compensate with cosmetics and nail polish. I love food, but am still learning how not to burn water. I have gotten much better at baking, so that is consistently fun. I also enjoy a wide range of art: painting, drawing, 3D design, yadda yadda. A little bit of everything, I suppose.

The fact that you are close friends comes across very clearly and now Rachel has joined the team. What advantages are there to working as a team in this way? Does it ever cause trouble?

Three heads are way better than one! Rather than there being just one of us to come up with ideas, write posts, answer emails, design the blog, and research, there are three of us! We are able to split the work, take the submissions that fit our areas of “expertise” (not that we’re experts on anything though!), and help to fill in when one of the three of us needs help. Coordinating the posting schedule between three busy ladies into something that flowed well and worked well for us took a while to figure out, that has been one of our main challenges with working as a team.

How has ‘Pinstrosity’ made a difference in your lives?

Pinstrosity has become so much more than we imagined it would be, and has affected our lives more than we first thought it would. It gives us motivation to keep exercising our creativity and to try out projects that we might otherwise let slip by. We have learned greatly from all the comments, from the research we’ve done for various posts, and from our own trial and error (heavy on the error part!). We have also made some friends that we wouldn’t have without the blog. Pinstrosity has opened up doors for us with writing, meeting new people, and trying new projects.

What is the most rewarding part of running ‘Pinstrosity’?

Some of the most rewarding moments have been the emails we’ve received from readers saying they needed that day’s post, or that it inspired them to try again. Knowing that we’ve helped to put a smile on someone’s face, heal a bruised ego, or given someone the motivation they needed to push on through the day makes the work we put into Pinstrosity worth every single second.

Rachel adds in, “I’m certainly not one of the wonderful women who “run” this blog…but contributing has been a blast. The exchange of warm fuzzy feelings with readers and the other writers makes you feel great. Everyone loves to learn something new. Laughing until your stomach hurts is an added bonus!”

Since the blog began two years ago what have been the milestones or most memorable moments?

We were beyond excited with how fast the blog picked up. We started the blog in February of 2012 and by the end of July that same year we hit our first million page views. That was astounding!

One highlight for us was also when Studio 5, a segment on Utah’s KSL News Program, did a featured clip about Pinstrosity. This was our first television mention!

Here in the US the New York Times is a pretty big deal, so we were floored when we discovered that we had been linked to in an article in their style section.

And our most recent excitement was when we hit our 500th post on the same day that we hit 18 million pageviews.

If you had to give one piece of advice to the crafters out there what would you say?

Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to try again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to read the directions (there really seems to be a fear of reading the directions out there). Don’t be afraid of yourself.

You will have projects large and small that flop. You will have projects that come out absolutely amazing. You will have projects that won’t look like your neighbor’s projects. Life isn’t about putting on the perfect party, having the perfectly decorated DIY living room, having the perfectly dressed children, or presenting the perfectly iced cake. Life is about finding joy. Don’t be afraid to find joy in your life and to find joy in your successes AND your failures.

What’s next for Pinstosity?

We have garnered quite the list of ideas for this year for Pinstrosity: video tutorials of troubleshooting hairstyles, more guest posts, a post from our awesome menfolk, crafting challenges, theme weeks (I’m quite looking forward to chocolate week!), and more. This year we also plan on a blog and logo redesign!

Our pie-in-the-sky/we’d-wet-our-pants-if they-happened dreams for Pinstrosity? Writing a book, and being invited to be on the Ellen Show.