Don't worry, I saw it on Pinterest: Eagle staffers tackle common pins


Since it appeared on the social media scene in 2010, Pinterest has crafters, bakers and hobby-enthusiasts alike saying, "I saw it on Pinterest!"

The theme-based bookmarking system that allows users to "pin" an image associated with a URL to a board -- recreating the idea of a look book or theme board -- is the third largest social network, behind Facebook and Twitter. In July, Pinterest reached more than 70 million users, according to a study released by Semiocast, a social-media research firm.

With viral pins popping up by the minute, we asked six Berkshire Eagle staff members to actually try out a few pins, making the leap from a beautiful picture on your smartphone to reality. We asked if it was worth the re-pin or better off being scrolled over, and here is what they found:

Rope Basket

I love making things and I wanted a challenge. Since the blog included no actual instructions, it counted as one. Rope baskets are often between $40 and $100 at decorating stores and websites; I figured I'd try making my own for $10 worth of rope and some yarn from my craft chest.

What: Rope basket with sisal rope and yarn

Origin: Ceci Bean's

What you need:

- 50 feet of sisal rope, 3/8 in thick

- Yarn, any color, regular thickness

Directions: Again, this was a blog post about the writer's cool craftiness and ability to put together a project on the fly, so I had to wing it. My version didn't come out as neat and even as hers, but I'm still happy with the results.

Starting off: Use a lot of yarn to create a wrapped-up rope circle about the size of a 50-cent piece. Keep adhering rope to the circle until you have a suitable size base; A 6-inch diameter should do it.

Tie this all together this way: Tie one end of the yarn to rope. Twist yarn around rope twice, then pull yarn under the lower rope layer, so the two are kind of knitted on top of one another. I used a bent out bobby pin to feed the yarn through the layers of rope. Keep stacking rope, wrapping yarn around the top layer, then wrapping it once around the bottom layer. You won't use continuous yarn, you'll have to cut workable lenghts; don't cut the rope.

When your base is done, carefully start building basket walls -- just move the first layer of wall above the base, knit the two together with the yarn, and continue, coiling the rope around and around until you're satisfied with the height of the basket. Adhere any loose areas with hot glue.

This was a fun thing to do in front of the TV -- I do not care even a little about baseball, so I sat next to my husband during the American League championships, basket weaving. It was fun to see this project evolve; just half an hour of work on it changed it considerably, from a weird, nubby, shallow oddity to an actual receptacle.

The verdict: I love how this turned out. It looks rustic and untamed, and it goes with my living room decor perfectly. I put it in a tall, vintage bookshelf and it looks absolutely awesome. If I can get a good rhythm I will be making a lot of these as Christmas gifts.

The only thing is, if you're going to blog something you've made, YOU NEED TO INCLUDE DIRECTIONS. My understanding of spatial relationships and processes like these has always been good, but I think it's foolish not to just take a shot at explaining how you did something, and it's plain lazy not to if you've already taken beautiful photos and dedicated a post to your idea.

Re-pin or scroll over? Scroll over. There are about 800 other rope baskets on Pinterest that come with actual directions. Make one of those.

-- Francesca Olsen, food editor


Lemon Crinkle Cookies

First of all, I have never used Pinterest before. I was highly skeptical and felt very superior to the whole thing. I thought, "who has the time to search through all these posts, let alone do them?" Well the second I downloaded the app and started looking for recipes to make I was hooked. I would scroll and scroll through pages of desserts, easy meals, and quick snack ideas. You name it, I've added it to my ‘recipes' board.

What: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Origin: Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker

The post is written by a friend of the blogger, and in the post she credits the recipe to "The Best of Mr. Food Cookbook." The cookies looked yummy, not too bad for me. There were only four ingredients, and the recipe claims to only take 15 minutes total. I'm not a huge sweets lover and in the description the writer says her husband, also not a sweets man, loves the cookies so that was the push I needed for my decision.

What you'll need:

- One box of lemon cake mix

- One egg

- Two cups of Cool Whip

- Powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, egg lightly beaten and Cool Whip.

3. Form the dough, which will be very sticky, into tablespoon sizes and roll them in powdered sugar.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool for a minute on the cookie sheet before removing them and setting them on a cooling rack.

The verdict: The cookies are pretty good. They're not quite as wonderful looking as they are in the blog post, but they're pretty close. The directions were straight forward, though, they do not tell you how much the cookies are going to expand in the oven. From the pictures on the site the cookies look fairly thick and small, so I thought they wouldn't expand much and put all my cookies on one cookie sheet. I looked at them after 8 minutes and realized they were forming one giant lemon cookie, so I quickly took them all out and separated them onto two sheets. I would also recommend keeping the cookies in the oven for about 12 minutes rather than 10.

Re-pin or scroll over? Re-pin. All-in-all, I would recommend making the lemon crinkle cookies, though, I think someone who has a bigger sweet tooth than I would enjoy them more. I was hoping for more of a fruity dessert than a sugary one and this is definitely the latter. So if you want a sweet, easy, quick dessert, this is the Pinterest cookie for you.

-- Stephanie Zollshan, photographer


Quinoa Mac and Cheese

I've used Pinterest since it was in its infantile beta-phase testing in 2010, when it was a buzzed about concept that was set to change the landscape of social media, though no one could really explain it. I planned my wedding one pin at a time and was introduced to the super-trendy "it" grain Quinoa through camera-ready dishes that boasted tasty traits without the calories. While I'd like to believe it "tastes just like real thing only better for you!" I had to submit the grain to the ultimate test -- the husband.

What: Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Origin: Around The Table

What you'll need:

- 1 1/2 cups of quinoa (and some kind of broth to cook it in)

- Vegetables of your choice

- Salt and seasoning salt

- Two cloves of garlic

- Two large eggs

- One cup of milk

- 1 1/2 cups of grated Cheddar cheese, and more for sprinkling

- Optional additions: Crushed red pepper, bread crumbs

Directions: First prepare the quinoa according to directions. Now, let me give you a hint here because I've made this strange grain before. For the best flavor cook in chicken or vegetable broth, not water. Make sure you watch the quinoa while it cooks -- this stuff can stick to the bottom of a pan faster than my husband can realize this recipe isn't "real" mac and cheese.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs and milk in a seperate bowl. Saute your vegetables while waiting for the quinoa. I used broccoli and onion. Combine quinoa, vegetables and seasoning salt in a bowl, then add cheese, glorous cheese. This is also a good time to add some crushed red pepper for a little extra heat and flavor, which I did.

Then pour egg/milk mix over the quinoa and fold gently. Pour final mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Put in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown.

The verdict: This was surprisingly good. It actually smelled like the classic-fattier version of the comfort food. The texture was a bit drier than normal mac and cheese, but the cheese flavor really stood out. As for the bloggers directions, these are for cooks with some level of experience. If you are a newbie to the kitchen, you may want to find another pin to follow. As for the husband test -- it passed with flying colors and a few heaping spoonfuls before it had time to cool off.

Re-pin or scroll over? Re-pin, as long as you know how to wrangle the super grain and what texture/taste to expect.

-- Lindsey Hollenbaugh, features editor


Hutch Makeover

I decided my "bathroom hutch" was in need of a much-needed makeover. On a whim, my boyfriend and I got the ugly honey-stained piece for free from the former Adams Memorial Middle School last year, and it ended up fitting perfectly in this weird space in our bathroom.

What: Bathroom hutch paint job

Origins: Sophia's
I create ... with love

What you need:

-Piece of furniture

-Zinsser staining killing 1-2-3 primer

-Pint of matte interior latex paint, color of your choosing

-Milk paint, color of your choosing

-Three paintbrushes

-Plastic tarp

-Sand paper

Directions: From the "I create" blog, I learned of a Zinsser primer that takes care of wood stains without much sanding. But since I also learned about milk paint within the same search process, I wanted to combine "Sophia's" blog post with the primer to see if the paint wouldn't hold up well with the combo.

I sanded the hutch first, then painted one coat of primer and let that dry overnight.

The next day, I did two coats of Behr interior latex matte gray paint (one pint from Home Depot was plenty for this project!) to give the hutch a nice base color so when the milk paint was applied, that would show through a bit. At first, the gray was pretty appalling -- flat and basic. But reminded myself this was the point. I painted everything except the inside walls of the hutch.

Next was the most frustrating/fun part of this: Mixing milk paint.

For about $11, I got my tiny package at Miller Supply in Pittsfield. Mixing in small batches -- about 1/4 cup water plus 1/4 cup milk paint powder -- this part took the longest. You have to mix the paint with the water until all the lumps are out -- a 5-10 minute process for each batch.

I chose a "Sea Green" color because after reading Sophia's blog, I knew it would come out with a bluer tint ... perfect for our bathroom. I did a dry brush effect over the grey, blending in areas of the hutch where wood was threatening to eventually break off. The milk paint gave the piece just what it needed and just what I wanted: A fresh, yet antique look that will brighten the yellow-lighted space.

Milk paint tends to chip a bit, but with all the paint it had to adhere to, this stuff isn't going anywhere! I'll polish it off with a clear furniture wax to waterproof it.

The Verdict: Any time I use a blog, it's only as reference for a project. I tend to figure things out on my own, and I ask questions when necessary. These two blogs, along with supplemental research, allowed me to create an awesome new piece of furniture for my Cheshire home. I love how it turned out, and I can't wait to paint other pieces with other milk paint colors. Oh, and my boyfriend was a huge fan, too!

Re-pin or scroll over?: I repinned both pins, but I'll end up writing a blog about my own experiences, linking to the other blogs. Pin that!

-- Laura Lofgren, online editor


Tackling pesky grout

My wife and I love our house, especially our bright, open kitchen. But after living here for more than two years, it's the little things that can start to bug you. For my wife, it's the filthy grout on the tile floor in the kitchen and adjacent spare bathroom. So a quick search in Pinterest yielded dozens of ideas for cleaning grout.

What: I chose to try two: one suggested a mix of baking soda and vinegar; another, Coca-cola. Seriously.

Origins: Today's Homeowner
Chris and Robin's nest

Directions: The Coke was easy: I just poured it into a spray bottle as suggested. Then, I poured vinegar and baking soda in a plastic cup and, after the fizzing died down, I mixed it into a slurry. I applied the paste to one grout line with a small craft paintbrush, as demonstrated in the video that was linked to the Pin, and I sprayed Coke on an adjacent line. After about a minute, I scrubbed both vigorously with a grout brush, which pretty much turned the entire tile into a disgusting mess. But after wiping off the residue, both grout lines were obviously cleaner than adjacent unscrubbed lines.

The Verdict: While both techniques removed some of the grime from the grout, the vinegar/baking soda did a far superior job. The balance of the Coke got poured down the sink, and it was time to tackle the rest of the bathroom. After about a half hour of grueling scrubbing on hands and knees, the results were even more evident -- the tile floor definitely had a fresh look. My wife can't wait for me to get to the kitchen next. Me, not so much.

Re-pin or scroll over?: Absolutely would re-pin the vinegar and baking soda method.

-- Tom Tripicco, news editor


Nature-inspired wreath

I wanted to do an inexpensive DIY project using items found in nature to make my apartment more festive for fall. My general sense of aesthetic is classic, with a twist. As I found on my maiden Pinterest voyage, one pin lead to another until you get a good idea.

What: Regtangular twig wreath, a rustic accent with a modern shape.

Origin: Taryn Whiteaker posted on Whiteaker is the mind behind Design, Dining + Diapers and blogs about the project here.

Directions: The original project calls for the following supplies and quantities: Twelve 19-inch branches; 12 14-inch branches; 4 yards of jute, a small amount of burlap, stencils, white paint and a paint brush. Scissors are also helpful, as is a good work space like a table, or in my case, a front porch, to spread your materials out on.

A self-proclaimed tree hugger, I went for a leisurely 90-minute walk in the woods and scavenged for fallen and already broken down branches versus cutting anything off a tree.

I kind of just eyeballed the amount of and size of branches I collected. I looked for a variety of textures and colors of twigs to use. During my walk, I picked up some thin twigs from dried wild grape vines with the curlicues, and a branch with red berries to add a little flair to my wreath.

The Verdict: I love this project. The actual wreath-making took less than five minutes to make. You form a rectangle with your branches, laying the shorter branches on top of the longer ones so the lines overlap where the points intersect. Next you take a good length of jute -- directions say a yard but I just kept wrapping until I got thick crosses at each intersection, which creates a pretty stable frame. The wrapping motion is kind of like making a cross-stitch.

After I was done with the frame, I hung it up and tucked in extra pieces, like the grapevine and berries, to give it some style. The original Pinterest wreath tutorial also called for making a burlap banner using the paint and stencils to stretch across the frame.

The jute I bought came in a three-pack from the Dollar Store, and included two neutral rolls and one dark green-dyed roll. Instead of a burlap banner, I made one with some leaf embellishments I bought for a buck and change at a craft store. Using a thin roll-on double-sided adhesive tape, I layered the leaves then cut strips of the green jute and spelled the word "fall" on four leaves. I fixed them to a strand of the natural-colored jute and hung my banner vertically through the middle of the wreath.

Re-pin or scroll over? Definitely a re-pin! The cool thing is you can create a different message for this wreath for different seasons, or even spell out the days of the week. There are a lot of possibilities and you don't have to worry about messing it up, because you built your project for free.

-- Jenn Smith, reporter


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