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12 posts from June 2012

June 28, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Five


OBSERVATIONS: Last week, Aidan had a friend over and imagine my surprise when she pulled out this giant, honking Project Life album to share with her friend Phillip. As I watched her re-living the first 24 weeks of our lives in 2012, I realized how grateful I am that I decided to dig in and give Project Life my full attention.


It has become a weekly labor of love for me. Yes, it takes some focus and dedication, but it has re-connected me with memory keeping in a way that feels fresh and creative again. And, above all, simple for me.

Here are my pages for this week:



It seems like every few weeks in Project Life, I get a new thing to try out. In the past few weeks it has been using blocky, clean sans serif titles ghosted back over photos. I did a tutorial on this last week. (Click here to find it.)

PRINTING TIP: If you are printing a 4 x 6 photo, many photo printers accomodate for the edge-to-edge/borderless printing (called the "bleed") by making what you are printing just a bit bigger. What this means is that you have to play with anything overlaying on those photos a bit, making sure stuff that matters isn't too close to the edge, lest it get cut off. For example, see my overlaying type this week? I actually placed it so it didn't hit the edges of my photos, knowing that it would be slightly enlarged and get cut off. Some of the type did get cut off, but the overall effect works for me. So keep in mind, if you have a title bar, or a piece of word art, you'll want to move it in just a bit to make sure important text or other elements don't get cut off.

One thing I do on my 3 x 4 cards is to print them onto 4 x 6 photo paper but turn OFF the full bleed settings to make sure they print exactly as I intended. Then I can include the crop marks option as well to make trimming quick and easy. If you leave the bleed/borderless settings turned on, your 3 x 4 prints larger than it should.


I busted out my wireless remote controller last week to shoot us gathered around our kitchen table for Father's Day breakfast. It's not fancy, but I love seeing the four of us together, just out of bed, PJs and all.


One thing I didn't include last week, and I really think I missed an opportunity, was a text I sent to Dan after dropping Aidan and Cole off at the newly remodeled Como Pool:


I know. Inside, I'm really just a 10-year-old boy. Moving right along…

Here's our weekly recap:


For anyone who likes the idea of doing a weekly recap, I just have to stress how helpful the Day One app has been for me in this process. Four times a day it pops up on my computer and asks me for an update. It's been such a simple way to keep track of what we are doing, saying and thinking during the week.


And one final shot…we went to see Moonrise Kingdom last week and Aidan returned home inspired to take a page from the Wes Anderson (think Royal Tannebaums) and built a fort in her room.

It's making it really challenging to vaccum in there.

And that is all I wrote for Week 25.


Project Life, created by Becky Higgins, is a flexible, easy-to-use, highly customizable way to save your memories in a fun, stress-free way. Learn more about getting started with Project Life by clicking here.

June 26, 2012

Listening to.

Sigur Rós, a band that I've really come to love over the years, has a new album out, Valtari. Last week, I watched a video from the new record which was part of a mystery film project. The band gave a dozen different film makers a modest budget and asked them to come up with videos. The video below has created a buzz, initially because it features Shia LaBeouf in the, well, buff.

I've watched it a handful of times and while yes, it's trippy and weird in spots, it's also incredibly moving and beautiful. 

I love what director Alma Har'el had to say about it: "For me, it's about not knowing how to get out of something without causing pain to somebody else. For other people it might be about candy and fish. I'm down with that."

I have been listening to this album every morning and soaking it in. Pure aural bliss.

Note: there is nudity in this video.



June 25, 2012

Monday musings


Hello there, Monday. Fancy meeting you here.

Aidan, who left on Saturday for a week-long theater camp program in Southern Minnesota, took this extreme close up while making cupcakes last week, using my new 50mm Canon Macro lens. Nice work, Zielsk!

It's going to be hella hot week in the upper Midwest. They say it could reach 100 by Wednesday. For this dyed-in-the-wool Pacific Northwest girl, temps like that make exactly zero sense to me.

Make no mistake, I will stay cool. I have central air in my 94-year-old house and I intend to use it.

Other than trying to be productive while one of my children has flown the coop, I have started trying to create a ritual in the morning of going out onto my front porch and reading something inspirational while having my morning coffee.

Yes, the workout is next on the list, followed closely by work to be done to continue earning a stay-at-home living, but I'm trying to invest a bit more into the soul side of things. I figure after doing (and continuing) therapy for two-plus years, maybe I should branch out a bit and find more food for the heart and mind.

Having recently read The Gifts of Imperfection, I feel hungry for more of the same. Reading author Brené Brown's blog led me to find a book by Susannah Conway. That book is This I Know. It arrived early last week and I've been savoring it each morning, reading a bit here and there, trying to soak it in and let it fill me up.

Photo Jun 22, 7 50 19 AM

It's made me want to head out and pick up a journal and start writing a bit more about my inner life and all of the stuff she is making me think about.

What have you been reading for inspiration? And beyond that, do you have any small and sacred rituals or spaces you create for yourself to allow time for inspiration and renewal? 

By all means, do share.

June 21, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Four + a video tutorial


OBSERVATIONS: I love the past week of photos. Probably because they include a lot more of the sometimes camera shy Dan (or maybe I just wasn't pointing the camera his way as much as I could have been.) It's just nice to look through my shots for the week and see so much of this man with whom I share my life, and this man with whom I'm working through all the muck to be able to continue living this life with him.

Or maybe I'm exploiting the fact that he bought his first pair of cheaters this week, and now I feel much less older and grayer. Who can say, really?

This week seemed to be all about words on photos, specifically sleek sans serifs screened back over the shots. I used both some of my digital products as well as just setting type by hand onto specific photos. Today I'll be sharing a brief video tutorial on how I did this if'n you're so inclined to try it on your own and were always wondering how.

But first, the pages:



One thing I loved about last week is that Dan asked me if I'd bring my camera down to the farm with me so I could take a three generations photo. Is there nothing more charming than your man asking you to take a photo? I love this shot. Cole is the lone Zielske male, challenged with carrying on the Zielske name. Let's hope he doesn't go all new age and change his last name to "Namasté" some day (I knew someone who did that. True story.)


A closer look at the man behind the cheaters.


Here's the weekly recap:


Now onto the technique I want to show you. I present: screened back text overlaying a photo:


This is really easy to do, using either a digital brush or custom set type. I'm going to show you how to do both. Ready? Okay!

How to screen back type over photos from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.


Project Life, created by Becky Higgins, is a flexible, easy-to-use, highly customizable way to save your memories in a fun, stress-free way. Learn more about getting started with Project Life by clicking here.

June 20, 2012

Yes, I'm Radvocating (fun with Totally Rad's Rad Lab)

I've been fielding a few emails lately asking me how I work with my photos. Last year, I posted about using Rad Lab, from Totally Rad Actions and I thought I'd show you another example from this very cool Photoshop (and Photoshop Elements) plug in.

I use Rad Lab on every photo that I print. Sometimes, I just do the most basic of adjustments, but other times, I combine all sorts of action effects to create a photo that is perfectly to my liking. The cool thing about Rad Lab, is the possible combinations and results are seriously endless, and you get to see what you're doing as you go. If you're interested in seeing how it works, watch the video below. (To see a larger version of the video, watch it over at Vimeo by clicking here.)

I took a photo of my lovely niece, Micah, but wasn't happy with the out of camera color. So, Rad Lab helped me take it to better place, as well as make a lovely black and white version.







Enjoy the video! And keep in mind, you can try Rad Lab for free for 30-Days. 

Rad Lab Demo from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

June 18, 2012

Layout Share: Select Scenes of Summer


Ahhh, summer.

Ahhh, alliteration.

I decided to create a simple, one-page, photo-centric layout with a few images taken thus far into the early Minnesota summer months. Lawn mowing, post-game Dairy Queen runs, dips in our backyard pool… oh, and red wine, too. Just a few shots that remind me of my family's life in summer.

This is a fully digital page, and I will send it to print on my Photosmart 8750 and pop it into my All About Us family album.

TECHNICAL NOTES: This page was created using Photoshop CS5.

DESIGN NOTES: This design features a strong sense of unity, as all of the elements are connected in the space. There is repetition of photo sizes within the grid of images and there is an equal amount of white space in and around the images. The yellow is also repeated across the layout, another design convention that creates a sense of unity in the design. Type contrast is seen in the title. Pairing a big word with a small lead in creates a nice visual tension.


June 14, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Three + a free gratitude card download for you


OBSERVATIONS: This week's project life images are brought to you courtesy of my iPhone camera. It is amazing to me that I can capture life with this amazing little gadget I tote around in my purse. Sometimes it really beats lugging around my big, heavy Canon. I honestly believe having a camera phone is a huge boost to my own memory keeping. Even though the quality is pretty dang good, it has reminded me that the best photos are not necessarily about quality and pixel size.

This week, I'm into lists and gratitude. More on that and how it relates to you in a second. First, let's look at the pages for this week:



Last week, I designed a new card set called "Life Lists No. 01." I love lists. Lists can make our journaling simpler and heck, more fun. The set looks like this:


You don't need Photoshop to use these cards. Included are printable PDFs featuring each card in seven different colors. You simply open the file in Adobe Acrobat (a free program) and you're good to go. The cards are sized exactly to Project Life pocket size, so no extra finagling is required.

After I finished the set, I thought: "Oh man! I should have included a gratitude card!" But because the six cards in the set worked so well on their own, I figured, time to add a free download for you, my readers. The gratitude card comes in six colors and is a printable PDF.


Download this file by clicking on the link below:

Download CZ_LifeList_Gratitude

Simply print onto your choice of cardstock and list away. Now, back to a few more images from my album.


And here's a close up of one of my lists. I opted to print the cards and hand write the list. The files in the set come with journaling blocks in layered PSD files for you Photoshop-savvy users who prefer to type your journaling.


And yes, AC on there twice? Ain't no typo, people. When it gets in the 90s here, it's one of my happiest things indeed!

And that, readers, is Week Twenty-Three.


Project Life, created by Becky Higgins, is a flexible, easy-to-use, highly customizable way to save your memories in a fun, stress-free way. Learn more about getting started with Project Life by clicking here.

June 12, 2012

I'm all in

Photo Jun 10, 9 27 22 PM

Sunday night a whopper of a storm blew into Central Minnesota and knocked out our power, right smack dab in the middle of the Tonys, don'tcha know.

The good news of the night? Dan and I had already watched the season premiere of True Blood. The bad news? We couldn't watch Girls at 9:30 and we had no air conditioning or working fans.

I decided to camp out in our family room, as the upstairs was too damned hot for this perimenopausal mama's blood. I was certain I'd wake up in the middle of the night to find the lights all back on and in perfect working order.

I was wrong.

I can't remember the last time our power was out for 12 hours.

Because my work includes one computer, one mouse and one steady supply of electricity, I had no choice but to a) get some good coffee by any means necessary, and b) curl up on my front porch with my iPad and settle in for some reading.

Side note: Because I have a fear of manually lighting my gas burners I decided to head out to McDonalds to procure breakfast—don't judge—for my son, who is still in school. While there, I figured I'd order the coffee that I wasn't able to make at home. Holy Swill, Bat Children. It tasted like the worst basement coffee in the history of the Lutheran Church. I ended up going out for more coffee at Caribou… but don't tell my hubby that. That's like sleeping with the enemy.

Photo Jun 11, 8 52 14 AM

But getting back to my story… with no electricty and time on my hands, I sat down on my front porch for some semi-guilt-free me time. I am reading a book that I am increasingly convinced that, in addition to the therapy I am doing, will change my life. The book is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

Some of you may be familiar with Brené from her amazing and inspired Ted Talk that has made the internet rounds over the past few years. I only recently watched this and thought: Hey, a lot of what she says lines up with the work I'm trying to do in my own life. I should check this out.

Turns out I own her first book, I Thought It Was Just Me, and I'd forgotten that I had it. Never got around to reading it for some reason.

That said, right now, I'm just getting into her Imperfection book and I think it's simply remarkable. I'm highlighting so many passages in the first 100 pages that the pages are looking more pink than white.

Reading Brené's book is what gave me the courage to post about my marriage and my inadequacies in the general human department last week. Her idea of "owning your story" really resonated with me and I wanted to move past my fear of being seen a certain way and be honest and open in this space.

One thing that my own therapist has been talking to me about for the past two years is the idea of being a wholehearted person. Not being someone who is divided. This is central to Brené's research and in the early pages of the book she writes:

"The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It's a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it's a little counterculture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can't do half-heartedly. To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, "I'm all in."

When I read the last line, I literally gasped and burst into tears of I don't even know what. You see, I had written a letter to Dan last week and part of it included really apologizing for how horrible I have been to him over the years but to let him also know that I am committed to making every needed change in my life to make this union not just work, but thrive.

I wrote to him:

"I know that being wholehearted is what I really want in my life. Loving you. Loving my kids. Learning from all of the mistakes along the way. I want this. I'm all in."

When I read Brené's line about being "all in," I was hooked, line and sinker. Something about her voice and her work is really speaking to me.

Have you read her books? Watched her talks? Read her blog? If not, by all means, take a few looks and see what might resonate with you.

I'm thankful for finding this book at a time when I am in a space that will truly allow me to welcome it in.


June 07, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Two

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OBSERVATIONS: This week's spread makes us look like a super sporty family, and in some ways, I guess we are, but not like, over-the-top sporty. The week kicked off on Sunday and we were still up at our lake place. Each year, on Memorial Weekend, the kids and parents square off in a nice, friendly game of baseball, known as the Nisswa Classic. This year the parents prevailed. That's not always the case, but it was nice to see the old codgers snag a V. (I served as team photographer as I suffer from ball fear in ball related sports.)

Enough of my jibber jabber, let's peek at the pages:



I realize that I designed them but I'm really loving my Labled Photo Sets right now. You see them on the first page of this week's Project Life spread. It feels like the past few weeks have been very photo heavy, stripped down, not a lot of added scrapbooky stuff. Fine by me.

I decided to take a few cards out to photograph. Sometimes in the plastic, I can't get a crystal clear shot (either that, or it's my less-than-steady hands.)


Had to try out that ghosted journal box effect on this photo. (Want to learn how to do it? Watch this video I posted several weeks back.)

Here's my weekly re-cap:


Oh, and I forgot to blur out the adult soccer player faces. They can be so… sensitive.


Hi Jay and Tim!


Dan has been playing with the West Como United players since back in 2006 or so. It's basically a neighborhood pick up game that's been chugging along for years. Some of his best injuries have come from this home-made league. They often will hold emergency board meetings at a place called "Ted's Liquors." Dan swears to me he has to take the minutes.



I took this shot with my iPhone, and then added the blur/tilt shift effect in Instagram. I really do love that little app.

And that is all she wrote for Week Twenty-Two.


Project Life, created by Becky Higgins, is a flexible, easy-to-use, highly customizable way to save your memories in a fun, stress-free way. Learn more about getting started with Project Life by clicking here.

June 06, 2012

I do


My wedding ring has been broken for nearly two years.

A few weeks ago, I finally ponied up the cash to get it fixed. A small stone was missing and apparently—according to the experts at Kay Jewelers—the entire ring was on the verge of collapse. They could not believe I'd never brought my ring in for servicing in its 20-plus-year lifespan.

Funny how my ring is a metaphor for what's been happening in my marriage for the past several years.

Stuff was missing, it was on the verge of collapse and not once in its 20-plus-year lifespan had it been in for servicing.

I've talked very little here on my blog about my love life which is funny, because working on my marriage to Dan has been the single most dominant thing in my life since February 2010 when we decided to see if we could tinker with all the messed up stuff beneath the hood.

Part of this decision has been to preserve privacy for me and my family as we fumbled our way through. Part of is because I was shocked to find out it wouldn't be a neat and tidy process that I could sum up in a quippy, heart-warming blog post. .

I mean, who wants to come online and say, "Guess what? I've been a horrible person in my marriage and in my life?"

Who wants to admit to finding out that one of their core problems is complete self-absorbption?

Can't I just talk about being chubby and learning to run and scrapbooking?


I was one of those people who thought marriage counseling would finally, for the love of God, get me what I wanted out of this thing. I thought it would be a referee match of sorts and that I would come out on top in at least half of the battles.

I mean, come on! I've got to be right at least half of the time, right?

But the past two years have been about uncovering my own dsysfunction; about trying to learn why I am the way I am and how destructive my ways of being have been. To myself and especially to my family.

And I ain't gonna lie: I have done most of this kicking and screaming. You can ask my therapist. I'm fairly certain she'll vouch for me on that.

But this year I decided to board her train. I stopped fighting it and decided to join her and see what could  happen.

And do you think it got any easier? Not really. But in order to make the changes in my life that I want to make, for myself, my husband and my family, I need to be connected to reality and to really see myself accurately. Painful as that has been and continues to be, it is what is needed.

It is what I continue to work on. Every day. And there is no clear cut path. Some days I get it. Some days I don't. But the change here is that I'm finally becoming aware of who I have been and who I want to be.

That's the contrast that will make real change possible.




So are Dan and I in the clear?

No. But really, no one is in the clear. Life isn't in the clear. And anyone who thinks that it is might as well be living in Fantasy Land, USA. I know this because I was the mayor of that town. Hell, I wasn't just the mayor, I was El Presidente Supremo.

Someone emailed me the other day to thank me for being honest about my marriage on this blog, which is what propelled me to write this today. I know there are people out there who have a lot of pain, sadness and disconnection; people who want so much to change things; to save things.

But I felt like I really wasn't talking about it. Not really talking about it.

Marriage is hard. Sometimes people have to fight like crazy to keep it going. And that takes two people in the fight, both greased up and willing to dig in and get really messy.

I am so incredibly thankful that I married a man who is in for the messy longhaul.

We are in a much more solid place today.

But the work continues.