It is 8 a.m. on Monday, and I am just one cup of coffee into the week as I sit down at my computer. Before I check my in-box, I click over to my newest Internet obsession. Here's what I find:
■ A recipe for making an orange push-up smoothie (which sounds mighty good at 8 a.m.).
■ A DIY project for converting a Mason jar into a soap dispenser.
■ An inspirational quote: "It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're not," chirped in bubble text by a hand-drawn bird.
■ A step-by-step instructional for how to paint palm trees on my fingernails.
■ A breathtaking photograph of the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Good morning, Pinterest.
After keeping a successful blog for more than half a decade, I would consider myself a fairly savvy Internet user. That is until recently, when I realized that I had completely missed Pinterest, the latest social media craze.
Remember those big corkboards in elementary school full of push-pinned alphabet letters, homework assignments and world maps? Pinterest is the grown-up version. A virtual pin board of interests, if you will.
For me, it takes the place of keeping a "favorites" folder on my desktop, wasting reams of paper printing recipes and hoarding Post-it notes to remind me of sites to go back and visit.
With Pinterest, simply installing the "pin it" icon to your tool bar works like magic to allow you to "pin" images, recipes, wedding and party ideas, Web sites and all other interests to reference any time on your personal Pinterest page. Over time, your pins and boards become a reflection of all that you are inspired by, drawn to and love.
Ami Needham of Winchester, a mother of two and a personal stylist, regularly finds inspiration on Pinterest. The site has contributed to her creativity as a woman, a mother and a business owner, she said.
Needham has used Pinterest for four months. She is using 12 boards and has about 450 pins.
"But I seem to add at least 10 to 50 inspiring ideas every day."
She said she has always loved art, photography, décor, fashion, kids crafts and entertaining but has found it hard to find a magazine that incorporates all of that.
"The Internet can seem over whelming with the amount of information available, but Pinterest allows you to put it in a visual format that's super accessible," she said. "It can be tricky for me to think outside of my box sometimes. Pinterest is like a visual brainstorm. It takes only seconds to get creative ideas on how to, let's say, 'how to dress up a navy T-shirt.'"
From a business standpoint, Needham has found that it can be hard to convey a sense of style to clients through words, but when she shows them visual boards on Pinterest that she has created specifically for them, they get it.
"I also love being able to find unique ways that people are wearing the accessories I sell and then sharing that with my customers," she said.
Craft and party ideas for kids are a favorite, too.
"Most recently I found a sweet Valentine idea joining two mini candy canes into a heart shape and filling the heart with chocolate and sprinkles," Needham said. "I made and gave those as teacher gifts this year."