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12 posts from July 2012

July 30, 2012

Go big or go home


My baby is officially a teenager today.



If there's a mantra for the life Coleman has lead thus far, it would have to be go big, or go home.




The term half-assed will never apply to this one. That's for dang sure.





Happy 13, Coleman Z.


You just keep going. We'll try to keep up. 


Love, Mom

July 27, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Nine


OBSERVATIONS: The coolest picture I've taken all year is featured in this week's album. (Okay, I don't know if that's true, but Aidan busted out some leftover sparklers and tried to create the Deathly Hallows logo while I shot a long exposure. Seems like a bit of magic to me!) 

Another week, another Project Life spread. Without further adieu, shall we?



This week marked the first week of the year in which my 16-year-old decided to give driving a fair shot. So far, so good. She may get that license some day afterall.

I also played with a new app called Layout for iPad. I used images from my Photo Stream to create the collage in Layout, then sent that hi res file to my main Mac and dropped it into a Tiny Template. I think the results are pretty cool. iPad 2 and higher users can check out Layout here.


Ah bone spurs, you are most definitely not going to be a friend, I can tell already.


Cole's baseball season also wrapped up this week. Such a growth season for him, even if they didn't make the playoffs.

And speaking of Cole, who turns 13 next Monday, duuuuuude! Stop growing up!


Here's my weekly recap:


And that, Project Life lovin' friends, is all I wrote.


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.

July 25, 2012

The Real Life Portait Page Project (+ a free template download and instructions for you)


I'm going to tell you something today that I try to convey to just about anyone who'll listen: my house and my life are not perfect.

Don't get me wrong. I'm extremely grateful for the home in which I dwell and the life that I'm fortunate enough to lead, but you're not going to find perfection in either one.

This lack of perfection gave me an idea for a new way of taking portraits and it began with my 16-year-old daughter's perfectly trashed room. Her idea of cleaning is to take every item in her room and pile it up on her bed. Sounds like a great start, right? The problem is that many times, the pile gets made and stays for days at a time, forcing her to carve out a tiny sliver of the bed on which to sleep while she procrastinates tackling the inevitable.

Because this is just so her, I was struck with the idea to prop her right in front of said bed, and shoot a portrait that truly captures an authentic slice of her real life.

And the results made me giddy.

I'm tired of the idea that a portrait should be perfection. Yes, I have some nice spots in my home in which to shoot, but this shot? This shot shows me a real slice of my daughter's life; something messy; something imperfect; something quintessentially her.

I want to challenge anyone out there to take up the Real Life Portrait Challenge. How can you photograph the people you love using a less than perfect background? I can only imagine the number of women out there with a perfectly trashed [insert the room here.] Have you ever thought how that could be the ideal spot for a portrait? 

What about in the room you've been trying to paint for the last year? Or the garden project that's hit a wall? Or the mismatched furniture in your family room that you keep thinking will look so much better once it's all replaced?

How can you look at your perfectly non-glamorous life for a slice of portrait perfection?


Today I have a digital package download for you to create your own page built around a perfectly imperfect portrait. Here is the project you'll be making:


The digital package includes everything you need to create a hybrid page as I've done, or a fully digital layout. Also included are a set of printable PDF instructions that will walk you through the steps using Photoshop Elements to create this scrapbook page.


Click on this link below to download the digital package:

Download CZ_DigitalPackage

Here's to seeing real life in creative and authentic ways. And heck, if it takes the pressure off of shooting for perfection, all the better.

July 23, 2012

Pure Joy (aka I am raising a Mac head)


Aidan Zielske has a new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

She's been using my 2003 PowerBook for years. It allows her to do practically nothing, save for surf the web and listen to music. If you unplug it from the wall, it dies. If you walk by it too quickly, it dies. If you exhale too exuberantly while in its vicinity, well, you know the drill. Suffice to say it's been on its last legs for about four years.

I made a deal with her a few years ago: you save up half the money, and I'll put up the rest.

With her new nanny job, she was able to meet her end of the bargain, so off to the Apple Store we went.

This is what pure joy looks like to Mac Heads.


I mean, look at how happy Alpha, our Mac genius was on our behalf.


I'm just going to say it: there is something truly sublime about walking into an Apple Store with the intent to buy. 

Then we got home and the real joy ensued:


We approach every part of the process with extreme reverence.



Aidan will be taking this computer to college in just two years. I decided to put up half the money because a) she got all As during her sophomore year, taking subjects like Physics and Algebra 2 and b) I'm an Apple geek and will take any excuse to buy new equipment.

Plus, mama can always use a write off here and there, right?


Here's to where you find joy. Ours happens to live in a geekified tech land. 

Where, pray tell, does yours live?



July 20, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Eight


OBSERVATIONS: I'm a day late posting this week. The whole week has felt behind from the get go. I usually put my Project Life pages together on Sunday afternoon, but last Sunday we were up at our family cabin on Gull Lake and my computer and photo printer where nowhere to be found, thankfully. We headed up for a quiet weekend which included a funeral for Dan's great aunt Felix. Subsequently, nearly all of my photos are from a 24-hour period. I love how that can happen during a week in which you take very few photos. Shall we take a look-see?



Aidan brought one of her best friends up for the weekend and they slept in a small cottage right on the water, just down the hill from the house. My favorite thing of the weekend? Boat knitting. That's a first.

In other news, Cole got a cell phone. 


I couldn't resist taking a screen shot of his first call to me. That, and saving his first text exchange. Oh, the things we scrapbookers love to save.

Here's the recap card for the week:


And that is all I wrote for Week 28. Have a great weekend!


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.

July 18, 2012

Mini Album Project: An Album of 'Fuls + free label download


There are two things I've been a bit preoccupied with of late: gratitude and screened back type and graphics. (Well, there's actually three, if you count hot flashes, but I digress…)

I was toying with the idea of creating a new gratitude layout template and then thought, why not just make a whole album? Whenever I approach beginning a new album project it has to be something I can actually complete or make good headway on from the get go. Enter the Album of 'Fuls project.


This template set, designed for use in Photoshop Element or Photoshop, is meant to be either fully digital or hybrid. My project is digital to hybrid, as I printed the entire thing out at home onto photo paper and cardstock. There are five spread concepts to cover: things you are thankful for, grateful for, hopeful for, joyful about or mindful of.

I wanted to share the start of my album with you today beginning with the album, a 6 x 6 ring binder from We R Memory Keepers that I picked up at my local Archiver's store.


All you need to complete the album (aside from the written and photographic content) are photo paper and cardstock. Here's my title page:


Each large word comes on it's own layer and depending on what background color you choose, you have to play a bit with the Opacity on each type layer to get it just right. I had to bump all of my opacities up 10 to 15 percent beyond what they are set to in the template itself. The title 'an album of 'fuls' uses a free font, Lobster.

Once you drop in your content, you simply print with the Crop Marks option turned on (found in the print windows of both PS and PSE). Trim and you're ready to pop into the album page protectors.



Here are the rest of the spreads:





I see this as a continuing project that will let me focus on gratitude, hope and mindfulness, all things I'm shooting for in my life as I continue to evolve and take stock of what matters and what inspires me.

I especially like the idea of focusing on what I'm being mindful of. This can have so many implications for a person who's working through some of her, well, you know, crap.

I designed a simple binder label to share with anyone who'd like to do this album project as well. You can download it here and customize it for your album. It fits into the We R Memory Keepers 6 x 6 binder.


Download CZ_SmlBinderLabel

Here's to the 'fuls in your life!


July 17, 2012

What summer employment looks like


Aidan has a nanny job this summer, caring for our next door neighbors' kids for six weeks. It's a huge thing to go from never having a job to having one that's pushing 40 hours. I'm really proud of her for doing it. She loves the kids, so that's a big bonus as well.

I came downstairs to make my lunch yesterday and looked out the front window to see her in the street, soaking wet, fending off the hose.

I couldn't help but grab the zoom lens and shoot away.

Plus, I caught the culprit as well.


We can all agree that sometimes your boss can really muck up your life.

I mean, who out there hasn't felt totally hosed at the end of a long day, right?

My first job was working as a snack bar attendant at the Roller Fair Skate Deck in Everett, Washington. It worked out perfectly with my figure skating practice hours, plus… all the free soft serve I could eat.

What was your first job? Let's take a stroll down First Job Memory Lane, shall we?

p.s. My second job was working at Chess King where we sold Michael Jackson Thriller jackets. But that's a story for another day…

July 12, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty-Seven + a free binder label download for you


OBSERVATIONS: Well, it was bound to happen. The old switcheroo is at hand. I started my second album to house my Project Life content for 2012. July through December will now reside in a brand spanking new binder. Aw, look how adorable the twins are!


I am presently using the 12 x 12 albums from We R Memory Keepers. Something about these albums just feels right. They're sturdy, simple and classic. And even though my Volume 1 isn't bursting at the seams, I'm a person who is not a fan of overstuffed, unwieldy albums. Here, I'll show you how full Volume One is:


See, just enough to make it very easy to lift and store. Can I get an amen from the lift and store fans?

Now I don't know how many of you out there use these albums, but for those of you who do, I've got a free binder label download for you to snag today. Customize it any way you like and keep it mind, it should work with all sizes of We R Memory Keeper albums. The PSD file looks like this:

This file is only for Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I've dropped Arial (most of you will have this on your computer) and then I added a free script called Blackjack for the word "project". Keep in mind, you'll have to fudge the font placement a bit depending on what fonts you choose. When you're done, simply send this file to print on a 4 x 6 photo paper (with the borderless print option turned OFF), trim and place into your binders. Click on the file below to download, and enjoy!

Download CZ_FreePLBinderLabels

Because I was starting a new album, I needed to use 3 pages worth of photos in order to get the spreads back on track. So here are my pages for last week.




I really didn't have enough photos for this week, which led me to resort to the shot on the upper right of the page above and the throwaway text: art is everywhere. Not my proudest moment. Truth be told.

Nor is this shot below but I like to think our kids will remember: our parents were dorks. That, and they were big on lists!

IMG_0394 copy

Here's the weekly recap:


I know I say this often, but for an old school scrapbooker who has experienced the highest of scrapbooking highs, and the lowest of lows (and yes, I'll leave those to your creative imagination), I love this album beyond compare.

And that's all I wrote for Week Twenty-Seven.


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.

July 09, 2012

Hot and bothered


Disclaimer: If you are a man, or a woman under, oh, about 38, or maybe someone who is squeamish about the middle aged female experience, this post is not for you.

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Holy sweat balls, people, it's not just me, is it? Or is it?

So here's my little middle aged story of the week: a few years ago, I went on a low dose birth control pill to help with irregular special monthly visitors. The results were good. Fewer days in, ahem, the process, and fewer cramps.

I don't need to be on any birth control at this time in my life. Dan took care of that issue 6 years ago. (Thank you, honey! So appreciate you!) But after I met with a nutritionist back in May, she strongly urged me to stop taking the Pill if I didn't need it. She said I should see where I'm at naturally. I said, "Why not?"

Four weeks after stopping the pill the hot flashes started.

Let me describe them: instaneously, I'm super heated from head to toe and it lasts for, oh… maybe three minutes or so. And this now happens up to 8 times a day.

Doesn't really matter what I'm doing. I could be running, or sitting, making dinner or settling into bed for a crappy night's sleep.

And while I am thankful for reaching this age (and I truly am) and I realize that this is just part of life (I get this, I really do), I am still allowed to say that part of this new experience sucks total and complete ass.

I mean seriously.

So I guess today, I'm wondering about all of this. I have checked in with Dr. Google and found the following things can affect the issue:

• coffee
• wine
• sugar

Hmmm. Let's see… as an ex-smoker, there is a mentality that I carry with me and it goes something like this: you can take my coffee away when you pry my mug from my cold, dead hand. Granted, it's the caffeine they say can trigger the hot flashes, and my coffee is made from a half caf/half decaf custom bean blend, but still… a former addict needs some vice, doesn't she?

The wine? Well, honestly, that's just a new thing I'm trying out this summer. Not a requirement at all. I can deal with that one.

But the sugar? Well, why not just say my nemesis continues to bite me in the tushka.

And then there's this: I'm 46. Is this too young to be having this issue already? Does this mean by the time I'm 65 I will be hunched over an immovable?

I know you're not shy about weighing in ladies, so weigh away.

This perimenopausal mama needs some input.

And more ice packs. Thank you.



July 05, 2012

Project Life, Week Twenty Six


OBSERVATIONS: Okay, maybe looking at this first shot, you're thinking, "Peeshaw! 88 ain't no heat wave!" But people, I am here to tell you that it got hella hot in Minnesota last week and continues this week as I type. For reals. Heatwaves notwithstanding, last week I struggled to find pics for the album. In fact, looking at the spread itself, it's visually one of my least favorite weeks. Isn't that terrible? That real life didn't provide the perfectly coordinated spread in Project Life?

Of course, I jest. But I am serious about not being in love with the images I got this week. Not through and through, anyway. And I think that's going to happen when you're documenting 52 weeks in a row. Shall we take a look-see?



Maybe part of it was because my lovely daughter was gone all week at Musical Theater Camp (ergo the two photos taken at the camp showcase.)

One thing I loved from last week was how Cole customized his swim pass card. I gave him a key ring and he found a picture of Aquaman to complete the look. That boy is nothing if not completely focused on the details that make something totally awesome.


I took a few more screen grabs from my iPhone (hold down the Home button and hit the On/Off button on top of the phone at the same time until you hear a shutter click sound and voila, you have a photo of your phone's screen). I love the Find My Friends app. It'll track anyone you have added to your list, anywhere in the country, and show you exactly where they are. Dan thinks it's stalkerish, and Aidan won't add me as one of her friends. Still, it's pretty cool for a mama who likes to know where her flock is.


And here's the weekly recap:


Now if you'll excuse me, me and my hot flashes are going to sit near the air vents in my house, and not move for a few solid hours.


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.