"A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot." - St. Augustine
I'm about 12% Alleluia on any given day, but I'm working on it.

Your Pinisher Toolkit

Pinisher badge
Yes, this IS a blatant ripoff of Jennifer Fulwiler’s 7QT post template idea, but that’s what makes it so terrific. Pretty much everything I know about blogging I learned from asking “how did she do that?”

Here’s a basic template you can share each week for your Pinisher posts. I’ll update this each time I add a new version (with a different “Pinishers” badge) with links to the various different templates.

The Full Template

Follow these steps to use the template:

  1. Click on this link.
  2. Highlight everything and copy it.
  3. Paste it into the HTML editor on your blogging platform. (To get to the HTML editor in Blogger or WordPress, click on the tab at the top of the new post screen that says either “HTML” or “Text.”)

Pinished! You can download the file to your computer by clicking on the link and choosing “Save Link As…”

Just the badge, please

Below is the code for the image ONLY. If you use the post template above, you do not need to also get this code for the image; the text template already includes it.

Or you could use this image:

Pinisher badge
If you want the manly man’s badge, which is also for girly girls, and catty cats, just – WHATEVER, look, if you want this badge instead, use this code:

Special Templates for Special Pinishers:

Food-Themed Template, or go here to get the code for the food-Pinisher-badge. (I tell you what; when it comes to food, I’m a FINISHER, not just a Pinisher. That joke is terrible.)

Coming Soon: This Link-Up is for Pinishers

Are you experiencing feelings of inadequacy, envy, or fatigue when visiting Pinterest?

Have you muttered, silently or aloud, about the vast Mason jar conspiracy that beats at the heart of the craft industry?

Do you find it difficult to enjoy everyday experiences because you remember seeing better versions onscreen? Does the phrase “Christmas baking” bring on night terrors? Did you ever want to just throw in the owl-crochet-bedazzled guest towel and walk away?

It’s time to step into the light. Spend less time planning and more time doing. Lower your standards, which is key to self-esteem. At least for me. When it comes to projects. Or housekeeping. Or—well, anyway, lower your standards.

In short: become a Pinisher.

What is a Pinisher, you ask, aside from a person who cannot spell the name of the movie “The Punisher?”

Simply put, you become a Pinisher by taking one small step towards actually doing something you bookmarked on Pinterest. Whether it’s finally visiting those Seven Magical Destinations for Aerial Manatee Surveillance, or Mod Podging the Children, choose ONE item to attempt, and report back.

The key to Pinishing is embracing imperfection. For example: I am not going to obsess about the kerning on the “Pinisher” button, even though it needs fixing, because at least I finally got around to starting this link-up I was talking about on Facebook back in 2012. See—I lead by example.

Pinisher blog link-up schedule

Tuesdays Are For Pinishers

Here’s how this will work. Every Tuesday will be a Pinisher Party. We’ll follow a rough schedule of umbrella topics. We’re starting next Tuesday (April 30) and the first topic is FOOD.

What do I mean by “low standards?” Well, my first post will probably be about how I bought an avocado after I tested it for freshness by popping off the little jobby at the bottom where it used to be attached to the stem, and checking to see if it was green. Except I can’t find that pin anymore, which means maybe I’ll try rinsing berries with vinegar instead. Regardless: it will be simple.

General Guidelines:

  • Choose something you’ve pinned, write a blog post about your experience trying it out, and link back here.
  • If you don’t have a blog, you can chime in on the Facebook page for Scrutinies, posting a photo and your comments on how it all went down. Good, bad, ugly, it don’t matter. The point is: you tried. You are a Pinisher!
  • Pinterest can be of great benefit to the bloggers who post original ideas to be shared, but not if we’re all just linking back to Pinterest. So your post should include the URL to the original site where you found the idea, not just to the pin. If you want to also include a link to your own Pinterest profile, that’s great, too, because then we can find each other. Together, we can GET THINGS PINISHED.
  • When the day of our Pincomplishments arrives (meaning: Tuesday April 30 for the first link-up), I’ll post code that will let you include a special “Pinisher” badge in your own post, if you want.
  • OR NOT. Pinishers value their freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions That I Am Making Up:

Does it have to be a funny “this project was FULL OF FAIL?” post?

No. There are already several hilarious sites out there collecting stories of good intentions gone horribly awry.

I believe there’s a sweet spot between utter perfection and abject failure, and that is where creativity resides. I genuinely want to encourage you to try some of the cool stuff you’ve been thinking about, and perhaps put your own unique spin on it. So this will be a celebration of whatever comes of that process.

Having said that, you see that Week 5 in the rotation will have “FAIL!” as a theme because: everyone loves a good fondant-monster photo. There’s also “Why did I pin that?” for those pins that are so elaborate or costly that you can’t imagine why you ever thought you would try it.

Can I go find something I already know how to do and pin it just so I can participate?

Of course! You can even pin your own post about that one recipe you remembered to take pictures of. This is a hippie-dippie, everyone’s-a-winner kind of gig.

Can I post about the same project more than once?

Absolutely. You can stretch the week’s theme however you like so that it vaguely connects to your project. For example, this cushion thing I need to finish will probably be characterized as “food” for the soul that my “home” needs and thus I will be going on a sewing “adventure” so that my “family” has a place to sit in the family room since the couch is covered with Legos. Hoping it won’t end up in the “fail” category, too.

Did you think you had more Frequently Asked Questions when you started making this list, blog author?

Yes. Yes, I did.

Wait! I just remembered another question. Is this just for chicks?

Gosh, imaginary Internet questioner, you certainly are close-minded. There are lots of dudes on Pinterest. Right? I guess? Regardless – there will be an especially masculine version of the badge just for the testosterone-inclined among us:

Pinisher badge

What if I’m not on Pinterest?

No problemo. You can still participate. In fact, nobody is really going to know you’re not on Pinterest, since the point is to link back to the ORIGINAL SITE with the idea you’re trying out. Surely you still have projects you’ve been putting off. Or is it only the people who spend their time pinning projects who never have time to complete projects?

That—couldn’t possibly be the case.

Okay, so: stay tuned, and start looking back at those pins you once spent at least five seconds considering before you clicked on them. Ask any other questions in the comments!

Seven Quick Takes: Wonderful Internet Things

Very excited to link up to Grace’s 7QT this week, and not just because she’s hip to the new trend of showing the LAST post in the linkup FIRST. I didn’t intend to be the absolute last one through the door, but now that it’s Sunday night and I’m just recovering from a post-parish-festival nap, I am counting the minutes left before the linkup ENDS. For ALL ETERNITY.

7 quick takes

By the way, as a precinct chair for Procrastinators International, I have to say that I think the last-post-first setup benefits everyone—everyone—because there’s always something fresh and new at the top of the list for readers to check out. See? It’s not just about enabling the latecomers.

Shoot shoot shoot. 19 minutes left and my computer is acting stubborn. I just spent three minutes waiting for it to finish typing “latecomers.”

Here are seven great things I found on the Internet this week:

1. Hagia Sophia Cat. Apparently, there’s a kitty cat who lives in the Hagia Sophia. I’m not embedding any of the photos because there’s no TIME people! I’m on a deadline! And it looks like most of the photographers who submitted photos reserved their rights. But I really liked this one in particular. Fun times.

2. The new Dappled Things issue is up, because I define “Candlemas” as “más candles have to be burned before I will find time to put up the content for Dappled Things on the website.” Bad joke. (14 minutes! The pressure!) Anyway, it includes a terrific interview with one of my favorite writers, Ron Hansen.

I’m particularly drawn to outlaws and outsiders, to characters who don’t fit into the general milieu or who have chosen lives that seem outrageous or strange. Hence, historical figures like Jesse James and Hitler’s niece, or a group of nuns, a mentally disturbed artist in Mexico, a couple who execute a murder in order to get rid of the nuisance of a husband. Each is “out there” in some way.

Enjoy the whole interview, conducted by my dear friend and Korrektiv Kompatriot Joseph O’ Brien.

3. Another fun tumblr, this one about a barista who creates works of art using only coffee, steamed milk, and various other acoutrements of cofeemaking. Barista Art, featuring the works of Mike Breach, International Barista of the Stars!

4. Also in this issue of Dappled Things, poetry by our own (“our own” meaning “the Internet’s own”) Sally Thomas:

I was never a believer

In resolutions. What's resolve 
	But another word for wish? 
Ask the fisherman's wife

	How far she got on wishes. 
Would I resolve, say, to let
	A third child choose

Itself? What can I 
	Say I wish for? Just now
My two already-wished-for

	Children, resolved into flesh,
Gallop down the hall,
	Speaking in whinnies. 

I wrench the door open 
	And shout, Inside feet! 
What are inside feet? 

	They'd be justified in asking. 
We have the same feet
	Wherever we go. Instead

They say, Okay. They wait
	for the door to close. Gallop
gallop, neigh neigh. Does control

	End at conception? Or
Only our belief in it?


That excerpt is a chunk out of the middle of the poem, which I probably wasn’t supposed to do, but I have NINE MINUTES LEFT and I’m making bad choices. Go read Sally’s whole poem “Cambridge, January 2001″ and drink deeply of its imagery. (Yeah! That’s good! Keep typing, keep typing…)

5. Food on the Table appWe are trying to pass for normal around here and meal plan like proper grown-ups. This is week three of our using the Food on the Table website and app, and I am really enjoying it. I wrote our menu on the refrigerator like a real mom and everything. Now, did we stick to the menu? No. But did we end up having cereal after Little League practice yet again? No. Because we had options.


Oh, I know – I’ll show you the mourning dove who has taken up residence on our patio fan.

It’s weird how I generally think birds are disgusting poop-generators but have tremendous affection for this beautiful little mother.

Mourning dove nests above ceiling fan

7. NOOOOOOOO. ONE MINUTE LEFT. And I was just about to hint at an exciting new linkup that lies on the horizon, shrouded in the mists of procrastination, waiting for you and all the other heroes who have ever attempted to actually complete a project they saw on Pinterest…Pinisher

Ah, well…guess I’ll go not hit up Grace on Twitter and insinuate that I would appreciate her re-opening the linkup list for three minutes more, because that would be wrong, and I’m a professional. I have standards.

Theme Thursday: BOYS

There is no free time in Speedville; it is baseball season.



And if we did have free time, we’d just spend it in our pajamas, collecting rocks in the back yard.


Visit Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday fun!

Agnus Dei

Image of a young ram prepared for slaughter, by Spanish painter Zurbarán

Image via Wikimedia Commons

We went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this morning for the first time—they’ve had a traveling exhibition of Spanish painting on loan from the Prado and we’ve been meaning to get there for weeks. The exhibition will only be on view through Sunday, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it. I’m quite glad we made it.

This painting, in particular, made an impression—not only because we were viewing it on Good Friday. I’ve actually been to the Prado before, back in the mid-90s, but I must confess that I didn’t even remember the artist, Francisco de Zurbarán.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

What Benedict Is Teaching Me Now

Pope Francis has communicated his humility so effectively to the world through the simplest of gestures – calling to cancel a dentist appointment, choosing a guest room over the papal apartment, washing the feet of prisoners. I’m reminded, in an odd way, of Flannery O’Connor:

When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures.

For O’Connor, this meant using the grotesque to show the workings of grace despite our twisted humanity. For Francis, it means taking actions that have huge symbolic value for a worldwide audience. And I don’t think he’s doing these things for show —not at all—but I think he understands how they come across to the general public.

Here is how I would react to these events, were I the Pope Emeritus:

  • Google self
  • Google successor
  • Google “pope benedict francis humility” and 20 variations on the theme
  • Search Twitter for successor’s name
  • Email ten trusted friends asking them to subtly remind the public that I, too, did many humble things, like, oh, RESIGN THE PAPACY. Suggest hashtag, memes.
  • Hiss “sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry” at God for my vicious pride, right before checking Facebook one more time and rolling eyes at how successor is heralded by everyone. It’s like they forgot all about me.

And this is why I should never be pope. Among other reasons.

Sometimes I think the main reason I don’t make time to find a spiritual director is that I don’t want anyone to call me out on my BS rationalizations of all behavior, including a malignant concern about other people’s opinions of me.

Image of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict via abcnews.comMeanwhile, Benedict has retreated from the scene, without having left Francis a USB drive of “helpful things that might be useful, you know, to save you some time, just things that worked for me, you can use it if you want to, just whatever, let me know if you have any questions.” He isn’t starting a blog in retirement to muse obliquely about his legacy, or partnering with a foundation to put his stamp upon a favored cause. He’s ushering his successor into the chair that was once his own and declining photo ops in favor of remaining “hidden from the world“.

I’ve been so pained by the various comments contrasting the styles of these two men, suggesting that “finally” we have a leader who loves the poor, who rejects the trappings, etc. And I think it’s not only because I have such a deep affection for Pope Emeritus Benedict and hate to see him misunderstood so grievously. It’s because I truly believe he doesn’t mind these things one bit. If he has regrets about reforms that were not completed, it’s not because he wanted the credit – it’s due to his love of the Church.

It’s rather terrifying to me to consider that the various grand plans I have for success in all areas of life—even, someday, the fitness journey—might never come to be. I’m great at redoubling my efforts when something doesn’t go as planned, but it’s because I generally believe it’s all going to come together eventually and be amazing, whatever “it” may be. Surely that’s the trajectory my life will take.

Having been a not-the-world’s-worst-but-needs-lotsa-improvement teacher, I understand that sometimes you’re just there to plant the seeds that others will care for, but damn if it isn’t difficult to keep walking and trust that it’s all—every bit of it—outside my control.

And so here I am, learning once more from my trusted professor.

A Wallflower at the Opinion Dance

I just want to put it out there that I have nothing original or insightful to say about Pope Francis.

I had this post teed up that included an annoying SNL sketch and took a firm, but vague stance on the question of having opinions about popes, but after waiting for a few hours to let it simmer in my Drafts folder I decided it was pretty pointless.

I quite like our new pope, just as I quite liked our previous one, and I suppose I could go read a bunch of other people’s opinions in order to have an opinion of my own to blog about, but I think I’m happier over here by the punch bowl.

Maybe it’s because I threw my entire self at the computer (not as successful a tactic as you might imagine) for a few weeks in order to make the website*, promote the website, read all websites everywhere, live updates on Facebook, tweeting, typing, scanning. Now I keep reading but it somehow feels like when branches of the family are fighting and you’re just hoping it will all cool down. It’s not that I didn’t expect people would be instantly jumping to compare Francis with Benedict.  I did. But it still stresses me out. I jump when I hear the phrase “news cycle.” (I hear it in my head, not from my children, who are busy asking me about words they learned from Pearls Before Swine.)

Having shared this with the ether, I now give myself permission to blog about Failure to Gluten Free and other workaday, insignificant matters, or even to go on hiatus.

Here is a picture I took of a squirrel:


*ElectingThePope.net is going to morph into a more general “why Catholics do stuff” site, but not for a couple of weeks, as I’m super-behind on other projects.

Habemus Papam!