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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pinner Portrait: Watch Brandon give new life to old rides

A few weeks ago we asked people to tell us the most interesting and creative ways they use Pinterest and we were totally blown away by the response. We’ll be sharing these stories in our new Pinner Portrait series, and first up, meet Brandon. He’s a father of two who uses Pinterest to restore old garage finds and turn them into works of art.

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What’s your Pinterest story? Don’t be shy—we’d love to hear from you.

—Scott Tong, Brand Designer, Currently pinning to Illustration

Read "Pinner Portrait: Watch Brandon give new life to old rides"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Irvin Lin: Photographer, designer and recipe developer

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Irvin Lin is a modern day culinary scientist. He is the chef and mastermind behind the blog, Eat the Love , where he shares his experiments, secret recipes and unique methods of blending ingredients to produce exclusive dishes. He is also an award-winning photographer, known for fusing science and art, on a quest to show folks that cooking isn’t as hard as it looks. See how he uses Pinterest to share, inspire, and even find ideas for his new cookbook!

They say cooking is a science. Can you share your background and how you started experimenting with culinary recipes?

I’ve baked my entire life, every since third grade. In college I studied painting and English literature. I used to joke that my two college degrees made me qualified for a career in being broke. But in college, whenever I had a painting critique coming up or a major paper due, I’d find myself in the kitchen baking brownies or cookies instead. I called is procasti-baking, but really the act of making food calmed my nerves and allowed me space to think and process.

As I got older, I found myself in the kitchen more and more when I was stressed. Turns out that studying painting and English literature wasn’t useless. Both of them were great foundations for learning how to research and how to communicate. As much as I love to make food, I love to read about food, write about food, and discover how and why things work (or don’t work) in the kitchen. I love learning the basics of how ingredients act with each other, how heat and cold affect the ingredients and what methods of blending or cooking is best for the final dish or dessert. Knowing the underlying science behind the culinary techniques that allowed me to play with flavors and build new and different dishes in the kitchen. It’s the perfect marriage of science and art.

When I develop a recipe, I have a pretty good idea of what happens when I put the ingredients together, which technique will work best to yield the best result or most importantly what sort of substitutions I can do to a classic recipe to make it my own. But I’m still learning and experimenting. It’s a never-ending journey. I think even the most seasoned recipe developer and chef will tell you that.

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How did your blog “come out of the oven” and into fruition full-time?

I started my blog in 2010 four years ago and I left my day job a year afterwards. I’m still not a full time blogger – I don’t make any money off my blog other than a few sponsored posts here and there. But I do use my blog as both a creative outlet and a chance to build a platform for other opportunities, whether it’s photography, recipe development, food writing or even design. Many of my design projects have come directly from people learning about me through my blog and then discovering that I’m a designer. And, of course, the cookbook I’m currently working on is a direct result of my blog.

You’re also an award-winning photographer. What do you hope people will learn or experience when you share your experiences on your boards?

First and foremost I want people to look at my photography (or other photos that I didn’t take but pinned) and want to make or eat the food in it. I want the food to look doable and approachable and not something utterly unachievable, even if some of my recipes are complicated. I’m not professionally trained in the kitchen and if I can make something, I know others out there can do it as well.

But ultimately, I don’t want people to just drool over the photos, I want to inspire them to get into the kitchen and make food. Making food shouldn’t be a huge enormous task or chore, it should be fun and inspiring and empowering. Everyone has to eat, it’s what ties all of us together, no matter what walks of life you are from. I can only hope my photography inspires others to make and eat great food.

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You have a variety of food photography boards: Dark and moody to lifestyle. How do you use Pinterest to think of a new recipe?

I love Pinterest because it’s a way to discover things I didn’t even know existed before. As a photographer, I’m constantly trying to find new ways to photograph food that has either been photographed a million times before or inherently isn’t that interesting to look at. I love curating and sharing both my own work as well as other work that looks at food in a slightly different way – inspiring me to photograph and look at my food differently!

Whether it’s a moody dark shot of scones or a bright vibrant shot of granola scattered on a lightbox, food photography that is slightly different than expected makes me pause a bit and makes me want to explore more. In this day and age when attention spans are short (and getting even shorter) anything that makes me pause for a moment is a good thing. If I pin that a photograph onto one of those food photography boards, it means I really love that photo and want to be able to refer back to it for visual inspiration.

Follow Eat the Love | Irvin Lin’s board Food Photography - Dark and Moody on Pinterest.

You’re currently in development writing a cookbook. Tell us about it.

I’m thrilled to be working on my cookbook Marbled, Swirled and Layered, which is specifically about flavor combinations in baked goods. I’m hoping that Pinterest will be an integral part of my marketing for it. Though it’s still a ways off (the release date isn’t until Fall of 2016) I’ve already set up a Marbled, Swirled and Layered board to pin recipes I’ve come across that inspire me or inspired the book somehow. These could be food photography inspiration for the book or they could be flavor combination inspirations for recipes in the book. Or the pins could just be really cool ideas for marbled, swirled and layered desserts!

Once the book comes out, I’m hoping to pin recipes that other people have made from the book onto the board. I plan on doing a strong outreach to other food bloggers and hopefully they too will make recipes inspired from the book so I can pin their work as well (and show them and their blog some pin love). I also plan on having a dedicated section of my blog devoted specifically to the cookbook. It should have extra recipes that didn’t make it into the book, rich media assets like videos that will show some of the techniques that may be harder to learn from just photographs or written recipes in printed form, as well as other references and flavor combinations for the recipes in my book. I’m hoping by pinning those extras, it will drive discovery of my book for a new audience.

What I love about Pinterest is that it’s really is a way of discovering an answers to a question that normally are hard to answer in the traditional search engine way. I’m hoping the answer to questions like “what sort of cake should I make for my dinner party” or “what cookies should I make to impress my in-laws” will lead them to pins from or inspired from my book. Hopefully Pinterest will be an integral part of inspiration to get people baking in the kitchen with my cookbook!

Follow Eat the Love | Irvin Lin’s board Marbled, Swirled & Layered Recipes on Pinterest.

You’ve shared your love for baking in your posts. What smells good in your kitchen right now?

Because I’m working on my cookbook there are tons of desserts in my house. I just finished up a series of sandwich cookies for the book, basically homemade Oreo’s for adults. One is a chocolate mint cookie with strawberry pink peppercorn filling and another is a malted chocolate cookie with a malted butterscotch filling. But my partner’s favorite one was a dark chocolate cookie with maple bacon filling. He made me keep most of them at home for him to eat, and usually we give away my baked goods because I make so many of them!

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But since I’m baking so much, I’m also cooking a lot, because I find I need something to offset all that sugar. I just made a bunch of food for a picnic over the weekend including spicy guacamole with grilled avocado and grilled corn, Mexican corn salad, homemade hummus (made with sesame seeds not tahini) and a Brussels sprout and fingerling potato salad with mustard juniper berry vinaigrette. I’ve also been cooking quick stuff like grilled spice-rubbed skirt steak with chimmichuri sauce over a salad with black garlic vinaigrette and dishes like kalbi marinated style Korean beef shortribs. Everything sounds fancier than it really is. Most of the meals I make in an hour or less from start to finish which is good because I have my freelance design and photography projects to do as well as my cookbook to write!

What advice do you have for people caught in the grind who claim they don’t have enough time to cook or think being in the kitchen is too complicated?

My partner used to be scared of cooking in the kitchen with me. We jokingly referred to it as his KPA (Kitchen Panic Anxiety). But he soon realized that unlike all those TV show competitions making food is not a race. You don’t have to chop super fast or make very complicated dishes. Food is supposed to be enjoyed and, for me, making food with other people makes it so much more fun. If you suffer from KPA my first suggestion is get a knife that feels comfortable in your hand — and it doesn’t have to be a super expensive one. Though you see those fancy expensive knives on TV (hint, they’re probably supplied by the company looking for product placement on the show), nearly all professional chefs and cooks that work in restaurant kitchens use cheap $15 Dexter Russell knives with plastic handles. Whatever knife you use though, just makes sure to get it professional sharpened now and then and learn how to cut with it. There are plenty of videos online that will show you how to chop and onion or cut up a carrot. Or you could take a one-day workshop on knife skills. Once you know how to chop and cut, most recipes will start to seem totally doable – maybe even fun!

Follow Eat the Love | Irvin Lin’s board Eat Your Vegetables! on Pinterest.

Of course, there are days that you just won’t have time or energy to make food. But on those days when you DO have more time or are in the mood to cook, I suggest doubling the recipe. I’m a HUGE proponent of leftovers, and that means I pretty much double recipes or pick ones that serve four to six people (we’re a household of two), so I know that I can eat them later on in the week. I often cook more during the weekends when I have the time or energy and once we eat our meal, divide out the leftovers into individual containers. Those containers can be taken to the office for lunch as leftovers or frozen if we don’t feel like eating the same meal several days in a row. Otherwise, I’d suggest people not stress too much. Simple things like stews, casseroles or pasta sauces all freeze great. Defrost them and serve them over a starch (rice, noodles, mashed potatoes or polenta) and you have another meal with minimal effort.

Learning to repurpose the leftovers is also an awesome time saver. Grill four steaks for two people and the next day the leftover steak can be used on top of fast salad or for a great sandwich. The meatloaf you made one night can be turned into an open-faced sandwich the next night, or even cut up into “meatballs” for a fast pasta dish. Double the baked chicken for a meal, and leftovers can be shredded for tacos or a chicken soup. Leftovers rock!

Thanks Irvin for bringing us into the your culinary art world. If you want to see what Irvin is cooking up and photographing next, check out his website and Pinterest boards!

Read "Irvin Lin: Photographer, designer and recipe developer"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jon Rogers: Soccer enthusiast & graphic designer

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At 23, Jon Rogers was heading in the direction of playing professional soccer until a series of injuries put him on the sidelines. But that didn’t stop his love for the game. He picked up design as a hobby, and as an experiment, began connecting his art and passion together. Little did he know that after putting his work online, his designs were being Pinned all over the world. Jon’s art caught our eyes here at Pinterest HQ, which led to our recent collaboration with him for our Places to watch the World Cup campaign. Watch our interview with Jon and see how he’s been able to join forces with artists and soccer fans all around the world.

How did you get involved with Places to watch the World Cup?

Soccer is my passion and I’m a full time soccer coach. I design in my spare time and early last December, I decided to start a personal World Cup project based on each country’s most loved player. I didn’t think too much of it and put them up on my portfolio. But a short time after placing it on my website, I was contacted out of the blue by Ben C. at Pinterest to see if I may be interested in collaborating on the Best places to watch the World Cup campaign. He told me he had stumbled upon my designs on Pinterest while searching for inspiration. I had no idea my images were even up there as Pins.

Can you walk us through your design process when coming up with the various boards covers for each country in the campaign?

We had a few initial ideas that were good but just didn’t feel right. I’d been thinking about a way to encapsulate the idea of places and blending that with the aesthetic of the World Cup Posters I’d done. FIFA follows a 3 letter country code system, not unlike airport codes. When I had that insight, it was a matter of applying the concept of baggage tags to each participating country. From there, we worked mostly on the details - colors, location of elements, etc.

How has this campaign helped you reach different communities on Pinterest, either for soccer, design and beyond?

It’s quite amazing actually. When Ben first contacted me to work on this project, I had no idea my designs were working their way around the world through and though I knew what Pinterest was and how it worked, had not engaged with it myself. The real purpose in creating the World Cup poster series was to reach out and seek a connection with the world of soccer and design and that was accomplished far beyond my dreams and mainly because of Pinterest and their global reach. Last I heard, my designs were being traded around in 80 countries. That’s just amazing to me. Hard to believe.

Follow Jon Rogers’s board Arsenal on Pinterest.

What’s next for you?

Because of my exposure on Pinterest, I’ve had a number of requests for commissions, most notably for The Guardian UK and their coverage of the World Cup. I’ve been busy for the past few months and expect to stay that way!

Thanks Jon for bringing us into your soccer and design world. If you want to see what Jon is designing next, check out his website and Pinterest boards!

Read "Jon Rogers: Soccer enthusiast & graphic designer"

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chris Ahrendt: Steampunk designer & artist

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As a sci-fi fan and Civil War reenactor, Chris Ahrendt started making his own costumes. Then, his son introduced him to the world of steampunk. This opened the doors for a new direction of creativity, allowing Chris to produce a new genre of artwork consisting of gizmos, gadgets and cosplay. See how Chris keeps the steampunk culture alive by connecting with the community on Pinterest, while using Pins to find inspiration for his next design.

Hi Chris, can you give us a quick background on yourself and how you got into steampunk?

I started off doing Civil War (and other era) reenacting. Some of the time-periods I participate in need to have items custom made, so the choices were to either make it myself or find someone to custom make it for you.

I had been reading sci-fi and discovered steampunk as a literary genre but did not know there was more. My son introduced me to the cosplay aspect. Again, it was easier to design and make it myself, and I’ve been producing steampunk items for over 5 years now.

We caught your steampunk inspired boards about art, comics, fashion and beyond. Can you describe steampunk history and what it means to you today?

Steampunk as a genre really took off after the phrase was coined in the 80’s. But the genre has been around since the writings of HG Wells and Verne. Today, for me, it’s a chance to take the best aspects of a time and add the idea of technology to take to a completely new and different direction. Each item I create, or items other steampunk makers create, have a uniqueness all on its own. It’s a work of art.

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Your steampunk clothes and masks and headgear boards gave us a peek into past and modern steampunk culture. How do you use Pinterest to keep steampunk culture alive?

I use multiple sources to find what I categorize, but mainly Pinterest. It allows me to follow my interests the way I want to. As I find the items which interest me, I catalog them into their appropriate boards. I use Pinterest to collect ideas and inspiration on projects. It might be something as simple as a part on a costume or a full instruction on how to use pepakura to make a mask I may use for one of my cosplay outfits.

The way I use pinterest for business is to use it to get my name out in the community and to show what myself and others create. I then sell my work via word of mouth.

How do you use Pinterest to design your steampunk items? What are you designing next?

I like creating gadgets, like gizmo’s and weapons. To make an item, I usually go through my scrap piles or make a trip to a thrift store/ flea market and find some pieces that inspire me. Or I begin with a picture on Pinterest of an item I really like and would like to have as my own a similar item. Then I go looking for the parts. Once I have the base creat,ed I then embellish with lights and so forth.

My current project is a steampunk communications console. This item will emit smoke signals and morse code via lights or a terminal.

Steampunk culture seems to be gaining a lot of attention, as seen on your celebrities board. Where do you see steampunk culture going now with big social events around the country?

I see it continuing along the course its going but with many sub-genre’s depending upon the geo-location. I am also seeing more of an expansion on multi-cultural aspects at big social events like Dragon Con and Comic Con. I see it growing and evolving.

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Any advice for someone looking to get into steampunk culture?

My first piece of advice is that its not expensive and you can get into the genre with $40 or less. There is no right way or wrong way to do steampunk. If you want to combine an interest in star wars with an interest in steampunk, there is nothing preventing that. Use your imagination…let it go wild…

Thanks Chris for bringing us into the steampunk world. If you want to see what Chris is designing next, visit his Pinterest boards!

Read "Chris Ahrendt: Steampunk designer & artist"

Monday, June 2, 2014

Diane Keaton: Actress and home decor enthusiast

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Diane Keaton’s love of art and design began at an early age while crafting and scrapbooking alongside her mother. Today, with an accomplished acting and filmmaking career, she’s also turned her attention to sharing candid and intimate moments about beauty, aging and the importance of staying true to yourself with her new book, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty. See how Diane continues to shares her vision, style, and flair—as well as design her new dream home—all thanks to Pinterest!

Hi Diane. How did you find your passion in the arts?

My mother was a crafts nut. You have to try to imagine the 50’s, and with it, Sunset Magazine, a kind of early “Martha Stewart Living” publication with breezy suggestions on how to create the perfect California/Cliff May lifestyle. Mom made mosaic tile tables. She sewed the living room curtains out of yardage she found at the Goodwill Thrift Store. She created separate scrap books for all four of her kids on a yearly basis, as well as a variety of shell boards she hammered into the walls. Then came the collage. When Mom began collage-ing trash cans, pencil boxes and book covers, we all joined in. I was 15 when I collaged my entire bedroom wall in black and white photographs I’d cut out from Vogue Magazine. Later I became an early tear sheet fanatic. This is why Pinterest has been such a home run for me. Pinterest provides more photographic “fixes” (I am an addict) than anywhere else on earth!

If you asked me where I’d like to take my next vacation. It’s easy. Book me two weeks in a dark room with my computer, next to my Ipad, with my Iphone resting on top.

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You’ve probably come across a variety of words on a page and new ideas in conversation. What gets you excited when you read a script or hear about an original concept for the first time?

Like most women, I’m moved by human interest stories. Stories with strong psychological conflict and stunning image driven content. I love romantic comedies with a great look. Let’s take Nancy Meyers’ film, “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s been ten years since it was released, and women still come up to me Ooohing and Aaahing over the kitchen in “that movie you made with Jack Nicholson”. They don’t always remember the name of the film but they ALWAYS remember the kitchen.

We caught your After a Fashion, Factory Floor, and Home Library boards. Can you give us an insider look about your inspiration behind these boards?

Most of my boards were chosen because of my current obsession with building a new house. The dream house. My first board was “Curb Appeal”, the next was “Last House On The Left”. Both quickly became occupied with captivating exteriors. At least for me. From there I went on to cover interiors with titles like "Sleep Tight", “Tack Room Tactics”, and “Breakfast of Champions.” At “bloglovin.com" I found an industrial kitchen with great lighting. On "Desire to Inspire’s" Country Farmhouse I saw a Kitchen bigger than most living rooms. Wanting more detail, I pinned things from "Emmas.blogg.se" where I couldn’t help choose the hanging wood Chopping Blocks on a perfect white brick wall. It’s an endlessly engaging endeavor.

Follow Diane Keaton’s board Last House On The Left on Pinterest.

What do you want people to experience when they stumble upon your board that has a variety of eclectic and stylized pins, like Picture Universe? Why the Black and White motif?

I’m not thinking about what people experience when they see my boards. I’m not thinking about what they want. I’m thinking about what I want. Everyday millions of people share their insights, their vision, their flair, and their longings on Pinterest. Just this morning I found myself on Louise Bilodeau’s profile. Inside her “restaurant/bar" board I pinned "Pizza With No name in Revkjavik, Iceland” to my “Breakfast Of Champions" board. Who is Louise Bilodeau? Where does she live? Is she French? I’ll never know, but one thing I do know…Louise has given me a Pizza place I love, and that’s enough for me.

You ask why black and white? Because color can be too demanding. Let’s just say, a little goes a long way, especially in a house. Take the great Latin American Architect Ricardo Legorreta, who used bright yellows and reds and blues to frame his spaces. From my vantage point color should never overwhelm or distract from the primary color in a home, and that is the color of the people inside. People get lost when framed by too much vibrant color. Do you like how you look set against a bright pink and purple wall? Just asking.

Follow Diane Keaton’s board Breakfast Of Champions on Pinterest.

Have you used Pinterest to prep for any roles in front or behind the camera?

I have not had the opportunity but I know several director friends who’ve used it as an inspirational story board. It’s a perfect tool on many fronts.

When and if I take on another directing job there’s no question I will be using Pinterest. Why wouldn’t I? As I mentioned, one of Pinterest’s recent gifts has been to help me map out examples of what I want my dream house to look like. It’s reassuring to come across so many other people charting out their dreams with Pins as well. The beauty part is we’re sharing those fantasies. I see Pinterest as a kind of “family of man” event, a kind of “pay it forward” thing. In a way we’re presenting our version of previous generations scrapbooks, slideshows, and home movies, right? Now it’s Facebook, and Twitter, only this time everything is illustrated with images we would have missed were not for Pinterest with it’s millions upon millions, upon billions of photographs that infuse our dreams.

What’s next on your to-do list as a storyteller?

Lets Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty" is the title of my new board. It’s also the title of my new book, a collection of impressions on beauty. First of all, what is beauty? What do we want from beauty? Is it only skin deep? How do we form our perceptions of it’s complex hold over our thoughts and feelings? There are no illustrations in "Lets Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty," yet it is filled with anecdotes, mentions, and accolades on a host of amazing people. There are no photographs of their magnificent faces, including such diverse people as Jack Nicholson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Abraham Lincoln. I’m talking about people I’ve loved, people I’ve envied, but most of all, people who’ve come to beauty by way of the back door; people who see it differently; people who’ve made their wrongs a certain kind of right.

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A few weeks ago I began pinning their portraits on a “Lets Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty” Board. There you can see Jackie Kennedy next to Katy Perry; Meg Ryan with her hand under her chin next to Judy Garland with her hand under her chin. Justin Beiber above Elvis Presley. Hillary Clinton next to Kate Moss. Gary Grant with Katherine Hepburn. John Wayne below Rihanna. You get the drift. All of them are my heroes and heroines.

For an artist looking to follow in your footsteps, what’s one piece of advice you’d give him/her?

Advice is easy to dish out but hard to take. One thing for sure…following in my footsteps is a bad idea. Why would anyone want to follow in anyone else’s footsteps when they have their own? Maybe that’s my advice, my only advice. Follow your footsteps, your impulses, your wishes, your Pinterest, your wrongs that make you right. Give it a try. And think about this…most people listen to what they want to hear, when they ready to hear it. I know that’s how it worked for me.

Thanks Diane for giving us a personal insight into your dream home, style, and creative vision. For more, make sure you get your hands on Diane’s new book, and if you want to see what she’s is pinning next, check out her Pinterest boards!

Read "Diane Keaton: Actress and home decor enthusiast"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lauren Faul: Strategic Consultant & military wife

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With her father as an infantry officer in the Marines, Lauren Faul grew up moving frequently. Today, with two kids, a career as a Strategic Communications consultant at the Department of Defense and a husband who is a AV-8B Harrier pilot, change is still a regular occurrence. This Memorial Day, see how Lauren is using Pinterest to plan another family move, organize a home and plan for another possible deployment.

Hi Lauren, can you give us a quick peek into your background and career?

After graduating from Texas A&M University I worked on Capitol Hill for a few years, ultimately as a Communications Director for the House of Representatives. While there, I met my now-husband, Adam, who had recently finished his training to serve as a Marine Officer. I soon accepted a job working in the Pentagon thereafter as a Congressional Liaison for the Marine Corps. Shortly after getting married, Adam finished his training as a jet pilot in the Marine Corps, flying the AV-8B Harrier. Every military spouse finds maintaining a career to be challenging, myself included, but I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to continue working as a Strategic Communications consultant for the Department of Defense for the past five years. Adam and I have been married for almost 6 years now and have two children, Mack (2 years old) and Isla (7 months).

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Your husband, Adam flies a Harrier and you come from a long military family. Can you describe your experience as a military wife and daughter?

I grew up as a proud Marine Brat. My Dad was an infantry officer in the Marine Corps for 37 years. As with most military families, the only constant thing in our lives seemed to be constant change. We moved every 1-3 years, which seemed normal to us because all of our friends did as well. I actually just counted the other day that I am on my 19th move. Marrying a Marine was a natural fit with what we call the “family business.” Being a Marine wife comes with many other challenges, but just as many amazing experiences. Adam has deployed twice now, and the friends we have made throughout his career thus far have become family to us. There have been moments of immense pride and also of devastating loss that binds you to those around you in an indescribable way. I’m very proud of our life and those we share it with.

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We caught your Daddy’s Away board. With two young kids, how do you—and as a family—deal with deployments and moving around for assignments?

Having children makes it extremely painful, no doubt about it. But I have learned, mainly through watching my own mother manage our family while my dad deployed numerous times, that kids feed off of their parents. Pinterest has been a great place to find creative, fun ways to explain to kids where Daddy is, what he’s doing, why he’s gone, and even better, help them prepare for Daddy to come home! There are also some great public boards, like Deployment Toolkit, that have everything from military travel opportunities, military discounts, and other deployment resources that have been super helpful.

We caught your home-sweet-home boards. How do you use Pinterest with such an active family and agenda?

As a pretty uncreative person, Pinterest gives me some much needed inspiration for home decorating and arts and craft ideas with the kids. My husband and I also really enjoy cooking, so we’re always on the lookout for new recipes to try out. My biggest challenge with our lifestyle is (attempting) to keep our lives organized. I have found so many great ideas for organizing our home – everything from the kitchen to medicine cabinets. It’s a constant work in progress, but the little tricks we have picked up through Pinterest are lifesavers for our nomadic lifestyle.

Follow Lauren Faul’s board Home Sweet Home on Pinterest.

What are you and the family doing this Memorial Day?

Probably no surprise to those that know us, but we’re moving! Again! We just finished packing up our home in Quantico, Virginia and are relocating to Cherry Point, North Carolina. This Memorial Day, we’re so fortunate to have Adam home with us, so we’ll be spending time as a family. Having a military family we’re all too aware that for some of our own friends, Memorial Day is much more frequently than one day a year. We count ourselves as blessed to truly understand that growing another year older and having a holiday weekend with each other is a luxury denied to many. As a family, we are dedicated to ensuring we never forget that, and we raise our children to appreciate the ultimate sacrifice of so many others as well.

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We want to thank our armed forces for their service this Memorial Day. And Lauren, we thank you for giving us a peak into your family and military life. If you want to see how Lauren is using Pinterest, check out her Pinterest boards!

Read "Lauren Faul: Strategic Consultant & military wife"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gary Arndt: travel blogger & photographer

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Gary Arndt wasn’t exactly a world class traveler growing up. In fact, it wasn’t until his success as an entrepreneur did he start venturing out and exploring the world. In 2007, he came up with the idea to pack his bags, sell his home and travel the world for a year or two. Now 8 years later, Gary has one of the most successful travel blogs online, Everything Everywhere, the 2012 Travel Photographer of the Year award, and no plans in sight to put the anchor down. See how Gary uses Pinterest to discover, share and curate his travel photography and adventures.

Hi Gary, can you give us a quick peek into your background and how you ended up traveling the world full-time to starting one of the most successful travel blogs online?

I was very involved in academic debate in high school and college. After I graduated college, I started a very early Internet company which I started back in 1994. We did custom web application development back when integrating databases into web pages was hard to do and expensive. I sold that company in 1998 when the firm reached about 50 people. After that I launched a few more companies right when the .com bubble was bursting and eventually went back to school in 2003 to study geology and geophysics.

I eventually reached a point where I didn’t know what to do with my life, so I came up with the idea of traveling around the world for a year or two. I sold my home, tied up all my loose ends and hit the road in March 2007. At that time I also purchased my first serious camera.

Over time, my blog become more and more popular the longer I traveled. What had I had intended to be a 1 or 2 year trip is now into its 8th year with no end in sight.

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You are also an award-winning photographer. Were you always into the medium growing up or was it a hobby that came out of your travels?

No. I knew absolutely nothing about photography before I started traveling. I never took a class, read a book or had a mentor. I learned everything via reading websites and taking lots of bad photos. I was (and still am) extremely self critical about my photos and am constantly looking for ways to improve.

It cumulated this year when I was named the Travel Photographer of the Year by both the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association. I was the first person ever to win both awards, let alone do it in the same year.

What is one picture that speaks “a thousand words” to you?

I’ve taken hundreds of thousands of photos over the last 7 years. Picking just one is difficult.

The image below was taken during the 2010 Red Shirt protests in Bangkok. I was there during the protests and one day they decided to protest the Prime Minister’s house which was only a few blocks from where I was staying. I grabbed my camera and went over cover the protests. There were thousands of protesters, hundreds of police in riot gear and many members of the media, who also wore body armor. I just had my camera….and an umbrella!

Eventually it started to rain and all the photographers ran for shelter, as did most of the protesters…except for one. This man in full body armor and helmet stood in the rain, by himself, staring down the police in riot gear. As I had an umbrella, I was the only photographer in the street and was able to get this image, which is still one of my favorites.

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We’ve been tracking your travels and photographs on your place boards, such as Unique Places to Stay and Europe Travel Map. Is there something specific that you try to communicate or curate within your boards?

It depends on the board. I have one board which is dedicated to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I’ve been visiting world heritage sites the last 7 years and documenting my visits on my blog. Every time I visit one, I put it on the board. Same with national parks in the United States and Canada. I’m trying to cover all the sites.

For other boards, like my Italy, Spain or Australia boards, I’m just trying to showcase the best images from that country.

Overall, I am at one extreme in the Pinterest ecosystem. While many people are actively pinning and sharing photos, I’m out creating images for people to share on Pinterest. I’ve always been very open about letting, and even encouraging, people to share my photos on Pinterest.

I also work as a brand ambassador for G Adventures, the world’s largest adventure travel company. My business is sharing the world with people through my camera, and encouraging them to explore the world for themselves. Pinterest is a fantastic way to do that. I keep very close track of my statistics and I know that Pinterest outperforms every other social platform for me. Since Pinterest adopted maps for their boards, things have only gotten better as more people now view Pinterest as a resource for travel.

Follow Gary Arndt’s board Unique Places to Stay on Pinterest.

Selling a home and leaving it all behind seems overwhelming to most. What has been the best and worst parts about having this level of freedom?

The best part is having the freedom to go where you want, when you want. Since I’ve started traveling I’ve been to over 150 countries and territories around the world. I’ve been able to see more things than all but a small fraction of humanity will ever see.

The downside is not having any stability or being able to have any sort of regular schedule. I often get exhausted and have to rest for a few days. I’ve been trying to slow down my travel schedule so I can get more work done and not be so tired.

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Where are you right now? Where do you plan on going?

I am writing this in Cape Town, South Africa. I’m here for 2 weeks in between trips. I just got back from the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. On Sunday I’m getting on another ship to spend a month traveling up the west coast of Africa with G Adventures. This summer I’ll be on a road trip through western Canada and this fall I plan on being in Europe. I’ll probably visit at least a dozen countries in the rest of 2014.

Gary, thanks for taking us around the world. If you want to see more of Gary’s adventures and what he’s photographing next, visit his blog and Pinterest boards!

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Brian Samuels: Photographer & Food Blogger

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When Brian Samuels was growing up, he was the official taste-tester for his mom in the kitchen. Following his culinary upbringing, he combined his love for food and the arts by starting his popular food blog, A Thought for Food. See how Brian travels the world, shares his recipes and gets inspiration from the food community and beyond.

Hey Brian, tell us a bit about your background and how food, photography and blogging all became main ingredients to your career?

Like most food bloggers, writers and photographers, I have always loved food. As a child, I spent time in the kitchen with my mom, absorbing everything she did. She had me participate; stirring, whisking and, ultimately, tasting her creations. Often I’d be the tester, and she looked to me to help with seasoning. That’s where my passion for cooking originated.

But I’ve I also always been a film buff and, when I was a kid, I watched everything I could. There were pretty much two paths I could have gone in. Either I’d study filmmaking or I was going to culinary school. I ultimately decided on film school because I knew that cooking would always be a part of my life.

When I started my blog, A Thought for Food, I realized that my love for the visual arts and food could be combined. Of course, I never thought this would become my profession. It really is my dream job. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

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We caught your delicious recipes, cocktail photos and my idea of heaven boards. What is your dream dinner party setting?

A dinner party, for me, is all about being surround by people I love and to express that love through food. My husband and I just purchased our first house and I really can’t think of a better spot for a dinner party than in our backyard. I see everyone gathered around a long table; eating, drinking, laughing.

I’d definitely be the one cooking. And, as much as I like to put the camera away when I’m hosting friends, I might need to take a shot of the table to capture the moment.

Follow Brian - A Thought For Food’s board + Delicious Recipes + on Pinterest.

We’ve been drooling over your “My food photography” boards. How do you use Pinterest to share your culinary creations?

The reason I was drawn to using Pinterest as a way to share dishes is because I saw that it had a following beyond the blogging world. As much as I love the food blogging community, I wanted to make sure that the general public was seeing these recipes. Pinterest has certainly helped with that.

The way I use it is by posting my work (as well as the work of my peers) on boards… some of which are my original boards, while others are group boards that I curate with other food bloggers, photographers and writers. While I work hard to make my own boards as appealing as possible, I love the community element of group boards. These tend to either be general recipe boards where we share our favorite blog’s work or it’ll be very specific (cakes, cocktails). I recently spearheaded a board for drinks; mainly cocktails, but non-alcoholic drinks have been included. Over the last few years, I’ve dabbled in mixology and I thought it’d be fun to get a group of my favorite bloggers to share our mutual love of cocktails.

I do use Pinterest to promote my work on my blog, which I consider my portfolio. I’ve had companies contact me because they came across a picture that was pinned. So, I don’t use it directly as a business tool. It’s just turned into that inadvertently.

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Okay, so I want to follow in your “foodsteps” and make something quick and healthy. Where do I start?

Creating a quick and healthy recipe isn’t as complicated as people think. The first place to start is with fresh ingredients. Seasonal produce; local, sustainable seafood. Roasting is a very simple way to prepare dishes with these items. I will often just season fish with a bit of salt and pepper, some fresh herbs, maybe a bit of olive oil (for a recipe, try this whole roasted mackerel). Or if you’re cooking carrots or cauliflower, or even brussels sprouts. Their natural sweetness really comes out when you roast them.

What smells good in your kitchen right now?

Right now, I have a pot of tomato sauce simmering on the stove. I had some leftover canned tomatoes from a white bean and sardine stew I made recently. This sauce has an onion and seven cloves of garlic in it. It smells pretty amazing actually.

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Brian, thanks for showing giving us a peak into the world of food and photography. If you want to see more of what Brian culinary creations, check out his blog and Pinterest boards

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Mike Hultquist: chili pepper & jalapeño chef

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Bored of bland food, Mike Hultquist needed to add some more flavor to his palate back in his college days. So, he decided to combine his love of pepper and spice and start his websites, JalapenoMadness.com. Today, he writes and creates culinary recipes for people brave enough to handle habaneros or those simply looking for just a little kick of heat. Come see how Mike uses Pinterest to share chili techniques, connect with other chefs, and even promote his new book!

Mike, can you give us a quick peek into your background as a chef, writer, and spicy food blogger?

I’ve cooking with chili peppers and have been a chili pepper enthusiast for over 20 years. I have a background in writing – novels, feature films – but have always had a huge passion for peppers and spicy food. I started the site JalapenoMadness.com to explore my love of jalapenos, and it naturally grew from there to ChiliPepperMadness.com where I expound on all things chili peppers, though I have a heavy focus on cooking.

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How did you get into experiencing, blogging about, and cooking with chilies?

It started back around the college days when I had to learn to cook. I quickly grew bored of bland food and needed to spice things up. I realized an affinity for cooking the more I did it, mostly because of the passion for it. I use the blog and my sites as a way to share what I learn and what I am passionate about. I love to share my love of peppers and spice.

We’ve been looking through your “chili pepper spicy food recipes” board and preparing our taste buds to try some recipes. How do you use Pinterest to discover a new side of spice?

I use Pinterest as a way to share the visual side of what we do here. I blog with my wife, Patty, and she is becoming a heck of a photographer. Food is highly visual and we are working to improve that part of our work. People love the visual nature of Pinterest and it’s only natural for us to utilize such a great system. I also use Pinterest to explore what other cooks and bloggers are doing, as well for other non-cooking related interests, like design ideas for my new office.

Follow Chili Pepper Madness’s board Our Jalapeno Poppers and Stuffed Chili Peppers Cookbook on Pinterest.

I also have boards dedicated to books. For example, I produced a book called “Jalapeno Poppers and Other Stuffed Chili Peppers” and I have a board dedicated specifically to that here:

With food being so highly visual, it is important to promote your work through photos, especially a cookbook. Pinterest also allows me to add photos that aren’t in the cookbook, which helps potential buyers to see the recipes or variations thereof.

For someone looking to put a little spice in their meals, where do you begin especially now with Spring and Summer rolling around?

With planting season upon us, it is time to get those seeds plants or get those seedlings in the ground, depending on your zone. Some people in the south are already harvesting, those lucky dogs. With access to fresh peppers, I say incorporate them into anything and everything. Freshly harvested peppers are incredibly delicious and can add both zing and heat to your meal. Consider roasting them for an even different flavor. With salsas, the possibilities are endless. So many fresh ingredients! It is fun to play with different combinations and cooking techniques, which I explore in the book.

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What do you recommend for someone who can’t handle spicy foods?

There is a huge range of spice level in chili peppers. I like to cook with peppers of all types, even bell peppers, which have no heat, to poblano peppers, which have only a low level of heat, all the way up to the superhots. If you’re not used to spicy food, start low and move your way up. I started with jalapenos and used to think they were crazy spicy. Now I eat 4-5 at a time. I moved up through habanero peppers, which I LOVE, and regularly eat superhots like 7 Pots, Ghost Peppers, Scorpions and more. Also, keep a dairy product on hand, like milk. Chemicals in the dairy will help counteract the heat element in the peppers if you go a little overboard.

Follow Chili Pepper Madness’s board Spicy Seafood Recipes on Pinterest.

Do you have any advice for growing chilies in the garden?

Same as with cooking. Check the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on a particular pepper type before growing. The higher the SHU, the hotter the pepper. Jalapenos are about 5,000 SHU, while a habanero is around 300,000 SHU. The hottest is over 2 Million SHU. Whoa! Chili peppers are pretty forgiving when growing, but treat them with care. Be sure to pick often to keep them producing, and learn some simple preserving techniques so you can eat them throughout the winter season.

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Any crazy chili stories or adventures that added some heat to your life?

When I was about 5 years old, my sister dared me to chomp on a chili pepper she pulled from the fridge. She knew it was hot, but I didn’t. I took a bit and felt the burn immediately, but wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of reacting. But when my eyes teared up, she laughed and laughed. Little did she know she got me hooked!

Now, I think I’m the one who is adding heat to others’ lives. I’m known around the neighborhood and in the local restaurants as the guy who likes it hot. We throw a fiesta party every year and people look for my superhot blends or homemade sauces. When I walk into my favorite local Mexican restaurant, the cook automatically tosses peppers on the grill. I bring my own spicy chili powders when I go out for pizza and that always sparks a conversation. People often want to try the powders and get a real kick! My preferred powders is a blend of scorpion and 7 pot peppers. Quite hot!

I enjoy encouraging people to bring chili peppers into their lives. They’re so great! One of Nature’s perfect foods.

Thanks Mike for showing us how to add some spice into our lives with food! If you want to see more of how Mike is heating up his dishes, check out hiswebsite and Pinterest boards!

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Federico Mariani: Illustrator and Toy Designer

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Federico Mariani started reading comic books in Kindergarten. In school, his teachers all told him he couldn’t draw but that didn’t stop him from imagining characters and telling stories. Today, he is a full time illustrator, toy designer and visionary behind Rainbowland—a world he created where two of his characters, Kororo & Joujou live. See how Federico dreams up his next ideas, share his artwork, and finds inspiration with Pinterest!

Federico, can you give us a quick peek into your background in design and illustration?

My passion for illustration and toy design came early, since I was a kid. In Kindergarten, I devoured comics like the Italian “Corriere dei Piccoli” or Disney books and Marvel comics. I loved the illustrations and I knew somehow this is the job I’d want to do. My teachers all told me that I couldn’t draw. But ever since my schooldays, I’ve always been drawing characters, comics and illustrations.

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How did you fall into toy design?

I’ve always been a big fan of toys. The golden years of my childhood coincided with the years of the great robot arriving from Japan, which is when I began a collection of Micronauts and Transformers. I’ve always been a big fan of collectible toys and action figures such as MOTU (Masters of the Universe), GI.Joe or M.u.s.c.l.e.

Then, 8 and 16-bit video games were introduced which influenced me a lot too. At that time, I began to draw robots and creatures.

In 2006, I started to consider the toy-design world as a possible job. I immediately started to create robots and other characters by drawing everything I had seen in my childhood. This opened the door for more real opportunities like to design the MICROBOIDZ plushes and the two sets of CALAMITI-CARS. I like drawing toys more than illustrating magazines or books, and that’s what I’d like to do more in the near future.

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We saw your current designs on your “illustrations board” and even work in progress (WIP: Rainbowland boards). How do you use Pinterest to dream up new ideas?

Pinterest has been very helpful in the search for ideas and useful for promotion. When I make two or three boards of my own work, it helps me get my images around the world, which is not easy with just a static website. As an artist, visibility is important. And with Pinterest, I can reach the eyes of many people.

Follow Federico Mariani’s board My ILLUSTRATIONS on Pinterest.

Rainbowland is currently a “work in progress” project. It is a kind of world, or theme park of my dreams, where all the characters that I have created live. Although much of my research is on a hard disk, through Pinterest, I have a collection of several images of inspiration. It’s faster than a search on Google!

Others on Pinterest have so many interesting things on their boards, that once you enter it’s hard to get out of it. I use it mainly to search for illustrations such as researching graphic types. Sometimes it’s simply for ideas on how to dress or decorate the house. It is very useful!

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Whats the most rewarding part about inventing new characters or stories?

I love the character design. The search for images, sketches and the combination of elements to create an interesting character is my favorite part of my job. It reminds me a lot when I selected the best pieces of Lego to make a better construction or how to mix the ingredients for a great recipe.

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Lots of people have ideas about what makes good illustration. What’s your personal take on art, design and style?

There is no rule—it’s all relative—but probably the idea, original style and engagement. I am attracted by very colorful or accurate illustrations or by signs that remind me of something familiar. But there are also those who consider scribbles true works of art.

One thing that makes the difference is the “heart”. Some have it. You recognize it while others have just drawings. An Art Director of a magazine once said to me, “we see many things similar to yours, but yours have something more. You can see that there is a passion behind it.” I will never forget that.

Any words of encouragement for young designers looking to jump into toy design or illustration?

Passion, originality, hard work and patience. And to create your own recognizable style without copying others. Also do not be in a hurry to create a style. Sometimes it takes many years—as it happened to me—I tried for a while, and then at the end I found it from where I began. It is the happy ending of the story! Or the new beginning.

Thanks Federico for sharing your designs and dreams. If you want to see more of what he’s creating visit his website and Pinterest boards!

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