Pinterest, I hate you. Again.

Today, I stumbled upon an experiment for homemade lava lamps on Pinterest, bookmarking it for later use. I made the mistake of leaving the window open, and when Ben was looking over my shoulder this afternoon, he spotted it. Ohhhh, cool. Can we make those today? Ben asked. Sure, my love. We can.

I took out the measuring cups and the vegetable oil and a glass jar before realizing that we were out of food coloring. Ben’s face fell. When Daddy gets home, I’ll get you food coloring, I promised. Don’t worry.

When Jeff got home, I held up my end of the bargain. We have a Whole Foods five minutes away and I called to make sure they had food coloring before heading over. They did. Phew.

I arrived at the store to discover that Whole Food indeed carries food coloring, and that it is priced at TWENTY DOLLARS. I lost five minutes of my life standing in the aisle debating whether it was worth the extra fifteen bucks to save the time and energy it would take to drive to the Giant 15 minutes away or if I should just suck it up and return home with the damn bottles. My little boy’s face appeared in my head and the next thing I knew, I was waiting in line.

Whole Foods, Seriously???

The clerk asked how I was this evening. I smiled and grumbled that I was fine other than the fact that I was about to spend twenty dollars on freaking food coloring. She laughed and asked why didn’t just go to Giant where they sell it for a few dollars. You’re right, I responded. I thanked her and left empty handed.

Drove 15 minutes to Giant. Found the food coloring. Waited in line. Read about Drew Barrymore’s new baby. Grabbed some gum. Discovered once I went to pay that I’d left Whole Foods a little more empty handed than I realized and had no way to actually pay for the four dollar food coloring I was so thrilled to see.

Left Giant to drive back to Whole Foods to retrieve my wallet, which I prayed was where I left it. Fortunately, it was. Along with the twenty dollar food coloring which I promptly purchased, rolling my eyes at myself the whole time and vowing to never again pin science experiments for the kids.

Arrived home to eager Ben waiting to conduct the great lava lamp experiment of 2012. Added the oil, the salt, the water and the food coloring to the glass jar and, together, we waited for the magic to happen. And we waited. And we waited some more. “Isn’t it supposed to do something?” Yeah, Ben, it was. Sorry, my love.

I blame the all natural, no preservative, plant based food coloring.

Pinterest, we’re done.

(Once again.)

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)


Tim Jordan 3 years ago

Hehe, I wanted to see a photo of a completed failed lava lamp attempt ^^

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amanda 3 years ago

I think you forgot the alkaseltzer. Add 1/4 tablet with cap open. Watch the lava lamp come to life. (Mess free!)

911truther 3 years ago

Hey I like your story about the food colouring. Did you know 9/11 was an inside job? Osama bin Laden likes food coloring as well. Be careful!

Anna 3 years ago

Sounds like a real gong show! I hate Pinterest.

tracy@sellabitmum 3 years ago

Fucking pinterest. Seriously, I’ve tried four things ALL BOMBS. Now we just color pre-made coloring pages and call it good. OHMYHELL – also $20 food coloring. That’s robbery! xo

Myndee 3 years ago

So, things like this don’t just happen to me, huh.

rowzrose 3 years ago

they have a pinboard devoted to pins gone wrong, you should pin it there

TheHeadacheslayer 3 years ago

Oh Jill…..I’m so sorry :( I am so grateful that no one took your wallet though…maybe you could share THAT with your kids, and put this disappointment in perspective? Of course allow the disappointment–what kid wouldn’t be bummed?? Or I dont’ know…I like to use moments like that as learning opportunities too.

That and I’ve had my kids whining about trivial things and needed to remind them that there are others who only wish that was all they were bothered by. Lots of lesson teaching this week *sigh*

Kelly 3 years ago

Sorry I’m laughing at your misfortune, but rest assured its because I’ve been there. The paying too much because its clost by AND the leaving my wallet somewhere..not so sure on the same night I don’t think…lol

Heather @ Kraus House Mom 3 years ago

My girls have their own board and when they can figure out how to read and follow directions (as well as clean up their mess), they can try the stuff they have me pin for them.

Jackie 3 years ago

I’m so with you. I probably would have done the exact same thing. There is NO reason to waste $20 on fancy food coloring. Thank you for making me smile, Jill. I so needed this right now! XO

Tori 3 years ago

I know how you feel. I would give my kids anything right now. Thank goodness they don’t know that!

Ramona Mayon 3 years ago

okay, that actually made me laugh out loud…

Lori Z. 3 years ago

It’s a fun experiment….the parent willingness to do anything for her child, not the lava lamp, that’s expensive and the kids get bored with it pretty fast.

It’s all fodder for the blog at least!

TheresaKelly 3 years ago

I’ve had the same argument with myself over that same food coloring!! My daughter liked to “turn the blue water in the toilets at school green…” I thought blue food coloring in the toilets at home would help with potty training. Needless to say, no blue water at home!

Lady Jennie 3 years ago

But it’s Nature’s Colors (italics) food coloring! Only the most natural will do for a failed Pinterest extravaganza!

anna 3 years ago

I did this experiment years ago when I was homeschooling my kids. It worked fine, but it takes a lot of salt. They had their “lava lamps” for about a year, I got rid of them when they started looking disgusting.

Arnebya 3 years ago

I quit Pinterest just weeks after joining. I can’t.

Mel 3 years ago

$20?! the dollar tree sells it for $1. And since you weren’t going to eat it, I don’t think it mattered if it was natural or not.

Guerrilla Mom 3 years ago

That was a seriously awesome crafty effort. You’re a good mama!

natalie 3 years ago

We haven’t tried homemade lava lamps but we did make monster jackets that have been a huge hit… Easy to make and no expensive food colouring required.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes 3 years ago

Note to self : avoid pinterest like the plague.

Alexis 3 years ago

This actually makes me feel better about my own well of guilt-sadness which has resulted in almost non-stop christmas cookies and “special videos” (are they really that special if they’re happening EVERY day?) since Friday.

Our local organic store is called Healthy Living which goes by the sur name “Wealthy Living.” They sell artisan cheese packages the size of my thumb for $15. Although damn that is some good cheese…

Lynn Kellan 3 years ago

Given the disappointing results of the lava experiment, perhaps I shouldn’t attempt the brownie recipe I found on Pinterest… :)

jen_schoeph 3 years ago

my son made one over the summer…oil, water, food coloring & an anti-acid tablet (alka-seltzer). it works/ed perfectly. we still have it.

Maggie 3 years ago

I’ve made those before. We used alka seltzer tabs and it worked great.

The Sadder But Wiser Girl 3 years ago

Ah Pinterest. The only thing I have actually made off of Pinterest are the things I shared this week on my blog, which is about two things. The rest is all Pinterest Envy-stuff I would love to do and wish I would do but don’t. 😉 More power to the people that actually use it!

Karen Baitch Rosenberg 3 years ago

Never realized that people really MAKE the things on Pinterest. You know you can buy lava lamps at Five Below for $5 (or below), right?

Breah 3 years ago

Lol ahh frustrating but you were such a good mommy through it all.

lesbomom 3 years ago

That was awful! Stupid $20 food coloring!!!

Sarah at Julia’s Child 3 years ago

Oh! The wallet! Argh! That’s when you just cry. Or buy cocktail mixers with your $20 food coloring.

Jennifer 3 years ago

whoa $20 food colouring!!! ack!

Carla 3 years ago

If you came across my child in a dark alley after he’s eaten something with artificial food dyes, you’d punch me in the face and throw $20 at me and tell me to buy the damn natural food dyes. You do know that Europe requires food manufacturers to label any food with artificial food dyes as hazardous to children? As a result, Europe gets natural food coloring and in the US we get crude oil based food dyes in our food. It’s all very interesting how our food is treated in the US. Anyway, your natural plant based food dyes aren’t going to react the same as crude oil based dyes in your lava lamp. Sorry.

Hana 3 years ago


Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) 3 years ago

I’m convinced that “Natural” is a euphemism for “add $15 to the price.”

Amanda 3 years ago

I’ve tried to do a couple of experiments from Pinterest with my boys, but they just roll their eyes and tell me they did that particular experiment years earlier at school. They’re seven years old and in second grade. I’m not quite sure what high school is going to bring.

Nicole DeZarn 3 years ago

Mix mineral oil and colored water in a 20 oz bottle with a little hot glue in the lid. It’s physics, move it around and the shit wiggles, you can’t fuck it up (or I would have, I promise.) If you get all froggy throw some glitter in that bad boy and you can wear the crafty crown. I like to consider myself crafty and I home school one of my minions so I have to do science but, whenever possible, I like to do it as half ass as possible and still come out looking cool. BOOM! Thanks for but another giggle, Jill! XO

Heidi Bryan 3 years ago

I have to admit that I have yet to really get into Pinterest because I don’t need yet another reason to feel like an incompetent mother :) I did refer one of my patients to Pinterest the other night. I am a labor and delivery nurse. She wanted to know if our hospital provided the service of turning her placenta into capsules after her delivery. I told her “Nope, but I bet you can find something on Pinterest. I hear they have all kinds of do it yourself projects.”

Karen 3 years ago

Wish I were your neighbor…I have buttloads of food coloring at my house. I would have sent it over!

Stephanie 3 years ago

Oh NO! I thought the food coloring for $20 was bad enough. Glad you found your wallet, though. I “lost” my debit card two weeks ago, and I was sweating from every pore in my body until I found it. Good choice. No more science experiments.


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