Story By Hilary Brady
Photography By Keith Ketchum

A massive movement in the world of DIY-ing has commenced, and creative folks around the nation — and in your neighborhood — have one website to thank: Pinterest.

Your friends are cooking more frequently, your children’s teachers are teaching more creatively, your spouse is … well, your spouse is being forced to build things typically left to the professionals. All because of Pinterest.

Pinterest boasts millions of ideas on thousands of topics, from teaching grammar using fun techniques to getting tough stains out of fabric; from how to make homemade Snickers bars and drool-worthy doughnuts to ways to tone flabby abs after eating said sweets; from hairstyle inspiration to home renovation.

The site is best explained as a virtual pinboard, a place to collect and share ideas among friends and, actually, anybody who chooses to “follow” you.

The online community replaces the archaic concept of website bookmarks by allowing the user to categorize ideas — illustrated by a photo thumbnail — for simpler and more visually appealing browsing. Each pinboard, or category, makes up a square on your homepage and, within each square are pretty little pictures of sample pins on that board. It’s so much more appealing than a bunch of text in a dropdown box.

Bottom line? You won’t truly understand Pinterest until you become a user. And — I speak from experience here — once you become a user, you will become a Pinterest addict. Don’t believe me? Ask my family. This once mac n’ cheese–only makin’ momma is now whipping up baked cheesy chicken penne with a side of bacon-wrapped asparagus and Chocolate Earthquake Cake for dessert. And I do that five times a week. It’s not a miracle, people. It’s Pinterest.

Because you need to know what you’re missing here, let me offer an example. You find a recipe online that other Pinterest users are buzzing about — a recipe that claims to be simple and scrumptious. Instead of printing out the instructions to collect dust in a hard-copy cookbook or filing it away in the unorganized abyss that is your computer’s bookmark toolbar, you “pin” this recipe to your “dinner ideas” pinboard. The recipe, visually represented by a photo thumbnail of the prepared dish, now awaits you in an organized and easy-to-find format. While it sits on that board, you continue to hear other friends/Pinterest users raving about this dish. The recipe that tempted you in the first place continues to reappear on other user’s pinboards, enticing you even further.

Therein lies the beauty of Pinterest. The once uninspired, intimidated and way-too-busy-too cook mom of two tries her fate. Pinterest users create the buzz; she thinks “I can do this.” The Rocky theme plays. She caves. She clicks it, she cooks it, she impresses herself and her family. Voila, she becomes the new Bobby Flay of Brunswick County. And the addiction begins.

So much more than mouth-watering meals

Although it is one of the most common themes, Pinterest is not confined to cooking. You can find “Bucket List” pinboards where users pin photos and links to beautiful locations that they’d like to visit; “Cool Crafts” pinboards where pinners channel their inner Martha Stewart; “Dream Home” boards that collect fun home décor ideas; “Inspirational Words” boards that showcase a pinner’s collection of motivational quotes found online; and “My Style” boards where users save favorite clothing items or outfit combinations.

Want a sewing pattern for a ruffle-bottom romper? Pinterest has it. Need a cool craft for your five-year-old on a rainy day? You have thousands to choose from on Pinterest. Don’t know how to get grease out of a T-shirt or silly putty out of pants? Pinterest does. You name it; you can find it on Pinterest.

The social media site is more than just storing ideas, though; it’s sharing ideas too. Most of the fun is found by browsing your friends’ and followers’ pins, and then repinning the pins that you like to your own pinboard. You can view comments made by others — for example, what can be used as an alternate ingredient in a pinned recipe — and the number of repins the item boasts, which is a good way to identify hot trends. It sounds confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Before you know it, your Pinterest inspiration will have you building barn doors for your home and bringing Hollywood’s Boho style to Brunswick County. True story.

How have you lived this long and not heard about Pinterest, you ask? The site was launched two years ago — early 2010 — but it wasn’t until recently that this social media sensation took off. The site’s traffic increased 429 percent between September and December of 2011, now claiming 3.2 million users. Pinterest has been identified as one of the top five referring sites for retailers, and Time magazine named the site one of the top 50 websites for 2011. Experts predict that 2012 will be to Pinterest what 2006 was to Facebook.

Brace yourselves husbands because Pinterest is here, which means only one thing: Mama’s gettin’ crafty this year.

Pinterest Pointer

Because of its popularity, Pinterest is currently an invitation-only website. You can request an invite on the site, but it may be months before you are granted access. Find a friend, however, who is currently registered with the site, and they can invite you immediately.

Meet the Pinspired People

The home-schooling mom — and her 10-year-old daughter
Kristy Gunther, Holden Beach
Pinterest profile: 68 Boards • 988 Pins
Pinterest obsession began in: October 2011

How did you discover Pinterest?
“A friend of mine told me about it when I was over at her house. She was showing me how it worked and that was all it took.”

How much time do you spend on Pinterest?
“About an hour each day. Whenever there is a free moment, I hop on there.”

Favorite things to pin:
“Whatever strikes my fancy that day. I have over 60 boards, so I’m all over the place with what I like. Some days it’s home-school ideas, sometimes it’s recipes, and some days, when holidays are coming up, I look at ideas for things that go along with that event — crafts, gifts, foods to make, you know? I’d say 90 percent of the time I am looking at what my friends are pinning. And, sometimes, if I’m looking for something specific, I’ll do a general search to find what I need.”

Number of pins completed to date:
“Ten or more.”

Favorite pin completed:
“Probably the solution that removes yellow stains from shirts. You know how your kid’s or your husband’s or even your own white shirts get those nasty yellow stains under the arms? This solution is the first thing I have found that actually works to get them out. I was like, ‘Hallelujah, this is the best thing ever!’”

The kids think:
“[My daughter], who’s ten, actually has her own account. We were constantly looking on Pinterest together and she kept saying, ‘Wow, why didn’t I think of that?!’ So [because it’s required to have a Facebook or Twitter account], I set her up with a Facebook account, which she doesn’t know how to get into, and now she has her own Pinterest profile. She enjoys it for the same reasons that I do, it’s a one-stop-shop to find everything that you’ve ever needed.”

How Pinterest changed my life:
“Pinterest has given me an unlimited source of information on so many topics. I can always count on Pinterest to find everything from DIY projects for stain removal to low-carb recipes for my daughter who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, from educational home-school ideas to holiday crafts. It’s just overall a really great source.”

The creative cook trapped within a working mom’s schedule
Holly Biasi, Ocean Isle
Pinterest profile: 22 Boards • 1,094 Pins
Pinterest obsession began in: November 2011

How did you discover Pinterest?
“I was out of town visiting my cousin, who I always get these great recipes from, and we were talking. She asked if I had heard about Pinterest and I was like, ‘Um, what?’ She sent me an invite and I have been addicted ever since.”

How much time do you spend on Pinterest?
“I sit down for an hour at a time at least five days a week. On the weekends, I love to sit in my living room and catch up on my DVR while pinning away.”

Favorite things to pin:
“Craft projects and cutesy gift ideas. For example, my husband has a nephew who is 14 – his birthday is in June. There’s this idea on Pinterest to take balloons and fill them with money, blow them up, stick them in a box and ship it. It’s such a neat idea because the person has to actually work for the money and it’s so much cuter than just a Walmart gift card. There’s also that idea for a teacher gift — the beach towel wrapped with a magazine. I just don’t have enough time to think of these cute ideas so I’m glad that somebody else does!”

Number of pins completed to date:
“Probably 30.”

Favorite pin completed:
“One of the recipes, for sure. It’s a cheddar bacon ranch pull. You take sourdough, slice it, fill it with cheese and a bacon ranch sauce, bake it and then eat it. It was the most awesome thing. Everyone tore that up. Oh, and we loved the chocolate chip cookie dough dip and the Funfetti cake mix dip. Those are wonderful too. Almost everything that I cooked for my Super Bowl party was from Pinterest. I got rave reviews on everything I did and it was the first time I had made any of it.”

How Pinterest changed my life:
“I get so busy in everyday life — but that creative person inside with all of these good intentions doesn’t have time to get it all done. I love that I can pin things that aren’t complicated, like quick recipes. [Pinterest] stimulates that creative part of my soul that needs to be fed but that the working mom that I am doesn’t have time to do. Basically, it takes the chore away from being creative.”

The obsessed with organizing clinical specialist
Diana Boso, Shallotte
Pinterest profile: 19 Boards • 382 Pins
Pinterest obsession began in: June 2011

How did you discover Pinterest?
“I follow a photographer’s blog and she talked about Pinterest all the time. A couple months went by and I started to see friends post about it on Facebook. That’s when I decided I needed to see what it was all about. I got hooked, and now I have a lot of coworkers hooked too.”

How addicted are you, on a scale of 1 to 10?
“Oh this is embarrassing … I’d say a 7 or 8?!”

Favorite things to pin:
“Anything for the home, easy DIY projects, and crafts or anything to do with the kids. I’m really into the organizational stuff right now; that’s my new hobby, so I’m going crazy with all the tips I’ve found [on Pinterest].”

Favorite pin completed:
“My mirror; it looks so good. And [my daughter’s] birthday party. I saw the idea for the rainbow theme on Pinterest and just went with it, from the food served and the favors to the decorations and her hand-made outfit. It turned out really awesome.”

The spouse says:
“Well, he has mixed feelings. He doesn’t really get what the big deal is about the site, but he always likes the finished product. I like it because I can show him the project instead of trying to just explain it. We painted our laundry room this weekend and it was so much easier to just show him exactly what I wanted.”

How Pinterest changed my life:
“More than anything, it gives me an outlet for creativity. I want to be a creative person but I just don’t have that brain. With Pinterest, I can copy other people’s ideas and it still satisfies that desire to actually make something. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.”

The recently revived creative queen and family-focused mom
Wendy Fullerton, Ocean Isle Beach
Pinterest profile: 13 Boards • 240 Pins
Pinterest obsession began in: December 2011

Favorite things to pin:
“Recipes and photo poses to try with the kids.”

Number of projects completed to date:
“Four. My first project was making hand soap. The Mrs. Meyers basil scent. It was pretty intense, but rewarding — grating the large bar of soap was fun for about two seconds! I have a gallon of it, though, and it cost me less than $3 to make! I’ve covered light switches with fabric, and I even found a recipe for hair repair that I used on my baby girl when she had cradle cap — problem solved! I have found beautiful fabric ideas and gorgeous color combinations that I used during the process of painting our home the second time around. I’m now working on Mason jar lights and an outdoor wreath that is very special to me. My grandparents — who are no longer with us — made it together many years ago. I want to decorate it with dragonflies, flowers and maybe a wooden ‘F’ for our last name.”

Favorite project completed:
“My stairway photo wall. I love the way it turned out — it’s basically a documented timeline of our family since we’ve had babies. For my husband and I, having children is by far the most amazing thing we’ve ever been a part of. I love being a mama! The captured moments of Eli and Caroline are simply priceless, and I also have a couple of impressive photographs of the ocean. I am a North Carolina girl, born and raised; the two loves of my Southern life are family and the beach, and I’m glad that I was able to capture and memorialize that, all from a simple idea on Pinterest.”

The spouse says:
“He actually thinks it’s healthy for me to have [Pinterest] as an outlet. Plus, he loves all the new meals on our family menu.”

How Pinterest changed my life:
“[Pinterest] has inspired me and made me feel more like a ‘mom’. It’s opened my eyes to see that I need more Wendy time and it’s allowed me to get back to my creative side. [Pinterest] has also helped me be more creative when it comes to putting together fun outfits, which is something I look forward to — looking cute — when I can actually get out of the house and go somewhere!”