THE PINISHERS, Volume 3: Adventures

Hello again, Pinishers and Pinish-enablers! Nice to see you back, especially since I totally, totally did not forget until just now that today is Tuesday! You know, like for Pinishers!

Pinisher blog linkup
The theme of this week’s PINISHER linkup is “Adventures,” and have I got an adventure for you! Woo-hoo!

Yes, sir-ee-bob! This adventure, I’m telling you–it’s—well, it might be too much for you to handle in one sitting. Why don’t you go make a cup of tea and, you know, settle in, and I’ll just—look through my Pinterest bookmarks for a few minutes.

(frantic scrolling)

(sudden Photoshop crash)

(quick once-over of the recent cell phone pictures)

Aha! You’re back! That’s great, because this adventure is—going to be—about—THE TIME I CUT MY OWN HAIR! Yes! What an adventure that was. Fun for the whole family. Highly recommended.

Pinisher---flag

Link to Original Project: This basic YouTube “Cut Your Own Hair” video, and this advanced YouTube “Create Sexy Waves or Curls or Something While Wielding Scissors on Your Own Hair, What Are You, a Glutton for Punishment?

Link to My Pins: The basic video and the advanced tutorial with the sassy lady who will show you how to “get that really pretty, sexy look that the Victoria’s Secret models use, and I just think it’s so adorable.” My outcome was…different.

Follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/dorianspeed/

So, ha ha, here’s what happened.

It’s kind of a blur. One minute, I was fretting about my upcoming speaking engagement at WordCamp Austin and the next I was Googling “cut your own hair.” I emailed my star chamber and did some focus group testing via the Scrutinies Facebook page – you know, “should I cut my own hair?” “I’m thinking about cutting my own hair.” “When I say ‘cut my own hair,’ what pops into your head?” And while they were responding (consensus: “NO!”), I got out my scissors and went to town.

Haircut

So…it’s not the WORST haircut in my lifetime—doesn’t hold a candle to the Fantastic Sam’s era, 1985-1987. (Photo not available)

It also was the gateway to my exploration of yet another Internet subculture: the Curly Girls. There’s a website, there’s a book which you can order INSTANTANEOUSLY on Kindle, if you for some reason you’re feeling a bit frazzled about your decision to lop off half a foot of hair.

There are rules, with this way of life. You identify the TYPE of curl, using the descriptors, and then you follow the regimen, even the part about how you don’t brush your hair. Understand? Brushes are right out. Brushing, uh, stresses out your hair, or something, and then it rebels in a cloud of frizz and you have to start from scratch. The first rule of Curl Club is Don’t Talk About Brushes.

I was along for that ride for a good four hours, the first day, but then I surrendered to the Call of Clairol. I couldn’t take it anymore, and my daughter was starting to ask Questions. I brushed. I brushed, and I’d do it again, 100 times in a row like Honey in the Trixie Belden books.

She’s still asking questions (my daughter, not Honey), but it’s been a few weeks of following most of the rules and I think it’s getting a bit curlier, maybe? Here’s a terrible selfie:
Curly hair attempt

At this point, it’s too late to get my hair cut again someplace decent before Saturday’s speaking gig, so if you check out wordpress.tv and are like “who is the frizzhead with the hipster glasses?” you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Okay! That was an adventure. Time for you to join in the fun! What adventures did you go on this week?

If you’d like to use a handy-dandy template for your post, here’s the basic template, or here’s a special version for this week’s adventure-themed badge. (And here’s how to use the templates.)

If you just want the snazzy adventure-flag badge, here’s the code to copy and paste. Make sure you’re in HTML mode (switch to the tab that says “Text” or “HTML” in your blogging editor) and not regular composition mode.



What do you expect from a book review?

Important pre-post disclaimer: I am not The Great Decider, On Whose Review Hangs the Fate of Every Book, and I realize that.

I’ve been a blogger reviewer for Tiber River for a few years now and enjoy getting to read new titles as they come out. It’s an opportunity to read books I may not have heard about otherwise and to think about what audiences would best appreciate a given book.

How I put together a review

Here’s my basic approach.

I’m a pretty snobby reader. There are going to be a few books I absolutely love and think should be force-fed to everyone, perhaps while they’re waiting on oil changes at car dealerships.

Then there a lot of books that are well-written, enjoyable, but not necessarily my “thing.” With these, I try to ask “who would really like this book?” and craft my review accordingly.

On the rare occasion that I can’t really recommend a book, I…feel real bad and do nothing. I generally avoid this scenario by requesting review copies of books by authors I’m familiar with and can be fairly confident I’m going to enjoy.

Procrastination and the glass case of emotion

I'm living in a glass case of emotion

Right now, I’m so behind on book reviews that I imagine my picture on the bulletin boards of several publishers, with an “IF YOU SEE THIS PERSON, ASK FOR OUR REVIEW COPIES BACK” advisory. And it really has nothing to do with the caliber of the various books in the “to-review” basket. In fact, I’ve already read some of them – most notably, the works of both Hallie and Dan Lord – and am eager to recommend them. But this is what happens:

1. I read the book, or look at the author’s name and think, “hey! I sort of know this person on the Internet! This is going to be great! I’ll write the most thorough and insightful review of all time!”

2. I lapse into Project Amnesia, a condition which also explains why my kitchen window has a random piece of fabric clipped to it for a curtain and why my sons’ pants will never be patched at the knees. I completely forget that I want to write a review of said book.

3. I see the book again. Now, I imagine the author, fretfully clicking over to my site every few weeks, cursing the day that a copy went out to me in the mail when I so clearly don’t appreciate the time and effort—the blood, sweat, tears, and soul—that went into the writing of the book.

4. I feel bad. Real bad.

5. I decide I’m going to write an even better review and I absolutely cannot start on it until I have time to really peer into the heart of the work, transcending space and time to distill the work into its purest essence through my words which will then launch an avalanche of purchasing that will let the writer take early retirement.

Meanwhile, my other reviews are read by, on average, 15 people per annum, half of whom are Ukranian spambots.

6. I feel more bad – so bad that I deliberately squint so as to not see the Book Review Basket as I sprint past it on my way to the computer.

Do you read reviews? How do they affect your purchasing decisions?

So – here’s my question. What to do when it’s a book that I can’t recommend, for whatever reason?

To whom is my obligation, as a Two Bit Reviewer? Am I here to promote all of the great new works by Catholic writers and help them find audiences? Or am I writing reviews so that readers can make good decisions about what books to buy?

I saw this on Twitter the other day and I hadn’t really thought about taking this approach to reviews:


I’d like to know, if you’re out there:

  • what you hope for when you read a book review
  • how the review colors your own experience of the book (or other media)
  • how often you choose to buy a book based on a review

And I’d also like to know what you consider to be the ethical obligations of a reviewer, to get all high-and-mighty about it.

THE PINISHERS, Volume 2: Home!

Last week, I moved all of my “get posts via email” subscribers from Feedburner to MailChimp. I’ll write about how and why I did that another time, but I bring this up because: my gosh. What an awesome responsibility. You have agreed to let me send things TO YOUR INBOX. It’s a sacred trust. I can’t just slap a photo of my dirty shower floor up on this blog and call it a day. (Plus, the thing with mixing vinegar and Dawn detergent doesn’t work quite as amazingly well as I had hoped).

So, instead, I shall turn to drink for this, the second edition of THE PINISHERS. The theme is “home,” and I will be describing a thing I made…at home.
Pinisher---house
Link to Original Project: Canning mint syrup for mint tea.

Link to My Pin: Here it is, all pincomplished and everything.

Follow me on Pinterest here: I will try to make it worth your while.

Last spring, I planted a variety of herbs in the hopes that some would survive. Three types of mint plus assorted other plants that would soon be completely subsumed by the Mint Monster:
Mint monster invades herb garden
I was young and naive. I didn’t know the ways of mint. That it will slither across an entire bed of mulch and choke the living daylights out of delicate thyme and lavender before trying to make a break for it across the driveway.

This year, we pulled out all of the remaining herbs, which had gotten overgrown with weeds and whatnot, and covered the whole bed with mulch in case I get another wild hair and decide to attempt Herb Garden 2.0. And look who showed up a few days later?
Invasive mint returns
I AM NOT PLAYING GAMES WITH YOU, MINT. I will rip you from the ground, tear your leaves from the stalks, and boil them down to nothing but sweet, sweet simple syrup.
Mint simple syrup
What I like best about this is that keeping a jar of this in the refrigerator makes me feel like a true Southerner, one with a mason jar of hooch on hand for any occasion. In truth, I only use this to make what we’re trying to call “Georgia Mojitos,” a concoction of lime juice, mint-infused simple syrup, gin, and club soda.
Mint syrup, gin, club soda, and lime juice
Still working on the proportions – the version I crafted for my sister-in-law this weekend was apparently like “limeade for grown-ups” and it’s supposed to have a more minty flavor. I’ll be sure to try various iterations of the recipe and keep you apprised of the combination we settle upon.

There. That was my “pincomplishment” for the week. Astute readers will note that the jar is labeled “July 2012″ and that’s in keeping with the incredibly low standards for boosting your self-esteem by becoming a PINISHER. So feel free to track down a project you completed years ago and want to celebrate anew. (In my defense, though, I do make drinky drinks with the syrup every couple of weekends.)

It’s your turn! What did you accomplish recently that you’d like to share? If you’d like to use a handy-dandy template for your post, here’s the basic template, and here’s a special version for this week’s home-themed badge. (And here’s how to use the templates.)

If you just want the snazzy food-themed badge, here’s the code to copy and paste. Make sure you’re in HTML mode (switch to the tab that says “Text” or “HTML” in your blogging editor) and not regular composition mode.

Don’t forget to stop by next week – theme will be “Adventures.”


THE PINISHERS, Volume 1: Food!

OUR DAY HAS COME, MY PINISHERS.

Like a true procrastinator, I have somehow ended up composing this first historic post at 11:51PM the night before the link-up dawns. The link-up that goes live in nine minutes. See? Low standards. (For more on the importance of setting reasonable expectations of yourself, see this overview of the Pinisher creed.)

I forgot to try the thing I’d said I would try (rinsing berries in vinegar to preserve their freshness), so instead I pinned a thing I did three days ago, which was make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Because this week’s theme is FOOD.

Pinterest recipe link-up

Link to Original Project: Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Link to My Pin:  http://pinterest.com/pin/267471665342112595/

Follow me on Pinterest here:  http://pinterest.com/dorianspeed/

My husband has gone gluten-free and has really been sticking to it despite his wife’s intermittent commitment to preparing gluten-free meals. He enjoys cooking and especially loves grilling, but during the week he gets home past dinner time and it’s hard for him to help out. Which is why I feel all the more guilty about the days when dinner was basically “find your own ramen.” In my defense, I present Exhibit A: Children’s Activities Every Single Night.

Anyway, I was proud of him for toughing it out for the last couple of weeks, so I found this gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’d invested—and I do mean invested—in King Arthur’s gluten-free baking mix, and the recipe basically lets you swap it out for regular flour in a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe, plus the addition of xanthan gum, which is totally a thing now, you guys. Everyone’s trying it.
Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
We were fairly pleased with the cookies. The texture was just a little “off,” but they tasted pretty much like regular cookies. I pinned it after the fact so that I won’t forget the recipe.

It’s midnight, Pinishas!!! Time to link it up! If you’d like to use a handy-dandy template for your post, here’s the basic template, and here’s a special version for this week’s food-themed badge. (And here’s how to use the templates.)

If you just want the snazzy food-themed badge, here’s the code to copy and paste. Make sure you’re in HTML mode (switch to the tab that says “Text” or “HTML” in your blogging editor) and not regular composition mode.

Don’t forget to stop by next week – theme will be “Home.”


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.
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.

6. WHAT WERE THE OTHER TWO INTERNET THINGS? WHY IS CHROME RUNNING SO SLOWLY? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

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.