Too Much Inspiration

EDIT – just discovered the fitness and food sections on Pinterest.  I might have to up my time limit from five minutes to fifteen.

I have been purposely avoiding Pinterest for quite some time.  From what I had heard, I knew that it could be the sort of site that could suck me in and turn into a major time waster, so I just avoiding going there in the first place.  I don’t remember what convinced me to finally go check it out a few weeks ago, but I did.  And sure enough, half an hour later I was still browsing around.  Damn you, Pinterest.

I loved looking at wide-open, clutter-free rooms and clean kitchen counters.  I got some good ideas for food storage, toy storage and garage organization.  And seeing all of those neat spaces inspired me to get up and clean my own kitchen.  So I did.  After half an hour on Pinterest, I spent the next half hour making my kitchen sparkle and (sort of) look like the immaculate, minimalist kitchens that I had been eyeballing online.

But the next time I went to Pinterest, I found myself looking at all sorts of other stuff – crafty things like altered t-shirt dresses and refinished furniture and handmade birthday wall hangings.  They all looked cute and crafty, but – yikes!  I was over-inspired.  If that’s not already a word, I’m coining it now.  Inspiration is a great thing – if we put it to use and it makes our life (or someone else’s) better.  But over-inspiration seems like it could just lead to… nothing at all except more browsing around online once our crafty DIY to-do list gets too long and becomes paralyzing.

Simplicity is awesome.  But sometimes we tackle a DIY project in the name of simplicity and it ends up being way more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive (and maybe not as enjoyable) as we had planned.  If it’s something you truly love doing, then by all means – do it.  But if you’re forcing yourself to do crafty things because you think you should or because your friends are doing it, or because (fill in the blank)… you might want to ask whether you’d be better off without it in the first place, or looking on Craigslist or at a thrift store to see if you can find a used version of whatever it is.  If you love quilting, make a quilt.  If you just think you want to love quilting but actually hate it, go buy a quilt at a garage sale – if you actually need a quilt (that post is worth reading no matter what you think about quilts – and it’s funny!).  Otherwise, carry on without a quilt.

I’ve been back to Pinterest a few times since then.  I set a five minute time limit for myself, which keeps me from browsing around for ages (Why is it that time goes by so fast when we’re online?  Why does it not go by that fast when we’re stuck in traffic?  Questions to ponder…).  And I focus on areas that can help me organize and simplify the life I already have/want.  For example, I’m looking for good ways to organize toys in our playroom.  We don’t have any furniture or shelving in there, so everything is on the floor.  There has to be a better way.  And of course, knowing me, it will have to be something I can buy used that won’t cost a lot of money.

But the problem with browsing around and looking at toy storage ideas is that it can easily lead to browsing around and looking at all sorts of other home improvements.  Which can lead to jealousy or a desire to upgrade things that really don’t need to be upgraded.  As an example – my kitchen is fine.  It’s clean and orderly (and no longer contains a yeast packet that expired 8 years ago).  My counters are clear (well, most of the time anyway) and I have ample space to work.  My counters are laminate and my cabinets are plain light-colored wood.  My stove has metal coil burners, and while I prefered the glass-top stove that we put in our old house, the one I have now works just fine.  Nothing in my kitchen is fancy, but I’m able to cook all sorts of awesome food there, and everything works just the way it should.  I could spend a ton of money making my kitchen look like something from a magazine.  Or I could spend a ton of hours replacing the fronts of my cabinet doors with old barn wood and painting our dining room table to give it a crafty “distressed” look.  But I’m not going to.  Because I would rather spend that money and time doing something else.

So while I think it’s awesome to see all the crafty, amazing things people have done on sites like Pinterest and BetterAfter, I think it’s just as important to remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have and to allow ourselves to stop improving when everything is fine the way it is.  So instead of browsing Craigslist to find a dresser that I can turn into a craft storage area, I’ll read this post and remind myself that my house feels much better with less furniture in it – even if it’s impossibly cute, crafty furniture.  And I’ll keep getting rid of clutter instead of trying to organize it. And I’ll find some second-hand shelves that will work just fine to store toys in the playroom.  They probably won’t be amazing or worthy of being featured on a home-improvement website, but they will get the toys up off the floor, and that’s really all that I’m looking for.

I know a lot of my readers are big DIYers and into crafty stuff.  So tell me.  Do sites like Pinterest inspire you?  Or do they just make you look around at your own stuff and feel like you need to change/upgrade everything in sight?

As an aside, I found this cookie recipe yesterday on Pinterest.  They are amazing.  They took five minutes.  And our son loved squishing them with a fork to make the lines on them.  I subbed walnuts instead of peanuts and used sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter, because that’s what we had on hand.  They turned out fantastic.

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  1. says

    I’ve never been on Pinterest, I spend too much mindless time on the computer as it is, and am sure it would make me feel inadequate, seeing as I have no DIY skills but wish I did!  And my house is as “un-styled” as they come, with no themes, minimal decoration, and random used furniture…  but I’m too lazy/broke to do anything about it.

  2. Peg says

    I am pretty into Pinterest but so far it’s working for me.  I go regularly enough to just review the pins of boards I follow and occasionally use it to do a search for something specific.  I have actually made some stuff I’ve pinned.  I did want to throw out something on the toy storage thing.  I know you don’t have diaper boxes but thought you might have friends/neighbors that might and you might be able to make these bins for the toy area:   They are all over Pinterest so maybe you already saw them.

    • Frugal Babe says

      I hadn’t seen those – thanks!  I suppose any sturdy box would work.  And I might have some fabric in my craft supplies that I could use…

    • Frugal Babe says

      That’s a good idea, and something I thought about when I first visited Pinterest. I got a lot of traffic from Reddit with my felt food, but it’s definitely more of a Pinterest-type idea!

    • Frugal Babe says

      OK Dani – I just got my Pinterest account set up this morning, so I tried it out by pinning my felt food project:  And of course I found myself admiring some very awesome felt food that other people had made (wish I had been on pinterest last month when I was looking for inspiration for the food I was making!) and some especially well-organized closets and the cutest little wooden play grocery store ever… :)

      • Dani says

        I’m actually really into it for organization and checklists myself- and I’m pinning kitchens left and right because we are going to renovate our kitchen sometime in the next couple of years. I’ve seen some really neat low cost/upcyle type kids projects.

  3. says

    Pinterest is like craft for those of us who cook and craft. It’s really just an extension of what I did non-digitally before, which is tear out recipes and pages from magazines and put them in a binder. I view it as a reference manual of sorts. Most of the stuff I pin I will never get to, and that’s OK. But if I need an idea for a DIY gift, or a new recipe, there is a group of stuff I already know I like to choose from. But it is a huge time suck.

    • Frugal Babe says

      My thoughts exactly!  I LOVE looking at all the stuff on there, but it’s such a time suck and then I also start feeling like I need to do all the stuff I see on there. 

  4. Frugal Babe says

    This is the sort of shelving I’m thinking of for the play room (again, thank you Pinterest!)  Something small and basic that we can put the boxes of Legos and Lincoln Logs and blocks on.  I’m sure I’ll find something at a thrift store or on craigslist.  And I might even get inspired enough to paint it to make it all shiny and new!

  5. says

    Okay, so you just described my EXACT feelings about Pinterest! I really, really like it, and I’ve found some great DIY ideas on there that I’ve actually implemented (most of them very cheaply).


    It is so easy to see all these beautiful DIY things that other people are pinning and want to do them, even if I don’t have any of the skills necessary. Sometimes I want to take the time to learn those skills, but other times I’m just lusting over the pretty things. And many, many times I’ve found myself pinning stuff that I love and then thinking about a way to purchase said stuff. That’s not good. I’ve deleted blogs from my reader before that I felt like encouraged excessive “wants” on my part, so I’m trying to approach Pinterest carefully, too.

    • Frugal Babe says

      Although I am fascinated with sites like Pinterest, I find myself more drawn to sites and people who encourage me to be happy with what I already have, to get rid of clutter instead of search for cute ways to organize it, and to generally give life to the idea of “less is more”.  Sounds like you have a similar perspective.

  6. says

    “it’s just as important to remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have and to allow ourselves to stop improving when everything is fine the way it is.”  I love this. Reading your post let me see that I am a bit guilty of browsing”inspiration” sites that make me hate my apartment more than I already do, and make me antsy to take on a bunch of stuff that is just SURE to be super easy but ends up being a cluttered disaster. Thank you for posting this!

    • Frugal Babe says

      So true!  I got rid of about half my craft stuff last year (listed it for free on CL and a 10 year old girl was giddy with excitement to get it) because I realized that a lot of it was exactly as you described – a cluttered disaster, or at least one waiting to happen!

      • says

        I keep my craft stuff super contained on purpose.  It all fits into one of those three drawer sterilite things and two boxes that go next to it.  It’s my way of limiting my crafting :-)  Of course, now I need to find time to use it.  I love crafting when I get the time, but grad school and student teaching these past two years have seriously cut into my crafting.  Right now, my only time for crafts goes to cross-stitching, which is nice and compact.

  7. Gabriel Rothrock says

    I mostly just use it to bookmark stuff I want to do/read in the future, mostly with my kids. I find it easier to find what I want when it’s got a picture I picked when I pinned it. I never browse other stuff. I find it somewhat astounding that other people I’m not FB friends with follow my boards.

  8. says

    I found pinterest super useful when planning our wedding.  I spent a good chunk of time looking around, both for specific and general things.  For example, I wanted to convince my mom that the groomsmen would look fine with mismatched grey suits — pinterest to the rescue!  I also found decor inspiration I liked, and then I found a way to do it frugally (like collecting 400+ pinecones). 

    I also find pinterest nice as a teacher, as a lot of people pin worksheet ideas up.  Otherwise, I haven’t been on it too much recently.  You’re right that it’s a time sink, so I only really go on when there’s something specific I want to look for.  I do also use the pinterest toolbar to bookmark pics/sites I really enjoy, so it’s a bit of a filing cabinet for me too.

  9. says

    I’m hooked on that little brain tickling time sucker. :)  I don’t get overwhelmed, to me it’s the opposite, I can click it and forget it until I’m ready to “go there”. I find I can head there for a few minutes and walk away easily.

  10. Anonymous says

    Pinterest is something that CAN
     be completely addicting if you let it. I allow myself a little bit of time on it a few times a week on my laptop, usually while my family is watching a TV show we like. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas for baby showers and bridal showers, edible landscaping and cheap decorating ideas for my home as well as  craft ideas too. Most of my home furnishings are handed down and perfectly functional, but why can’t they look nice also if it’s not going to cost a fortune? For the cost of 1 can of paint, all of my mismatched furniture can have a cohesive look. I can turn a painters dropcloth into curtains and cushion covers for my living room, and old bandanas into pillows. Obviously, if crafting and decorating aren’t things you enjoy, then that’s fine, but I  actually do get inspired b a lot of what I see on there and it makes me look at my own home and creativity a bit differently.

  11. Kathy says

    I had never heard of the site before and now I have been on it for 15 minutes already!  Interesting site and I will definitely visit it but will need to watch my time….

  12. Claireboe says

    I, too, have avoided Pinterest.  It’s the same way I feel about Nutella:  If I never try it, I will be better off.  :)  I already have a bad case of discontentment in my life; I certainly don’t need to add to it.

  13. says

    Great post regarding Pinterest. Thank you for sharing a very useful information. I really learned a lot from you.  Although, I don’t have an account in Pinterest but I think should visit their site. 

  14. Terken says

    i like pinterest. i try not to get overwhelmed by it, so i do keyword specific search. i’m not into diy at all so my ideal projects are usually hourl ong maximum.  i’m into garland these days so i would type keywords like winter garland and find different ideas. 
    in order to limit my online time (i am a serious internet addict) i am trying this: i have a smart phone and i realized using it for anything (and everything) on the net shortens my online time drastically. i look uploaded pinterest application and browse pinterest only from there. it takes less than 5 minutes to get tired of looking at the palm size screen. i use my computer less and i am on the net less than before!

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