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14 posts from October 2012

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Fright night

Yes, that was my view of the moon at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. I thought it was sufficiently creepy indeed.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my bee costume on.


Ah yes, one size truly does fit all. Thank you, shapeless Bee Costume. You will never be replaced. Ever.

I really had hoped to find the time to do a Gangnam Style Bee Costume Parody, but alas, the time just got away from me. 

Hopefully, this little nostalgic number from last year will give you just the boost of Halloween spirit you need today.

BEE DANCE from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

October 30, 2012

A peek inside the Two Views Workshop + class giveaway


In just over a week, my new Two Views workshop kicks off at Big Picture Classes. This class is all about pairing up with an album buddy—a parent, a child, a best friend, a sister, a partner or spouse—and answering a series of thought-provoking questions. The goal is to present a she said/she said (or he said) type of a scrapbook that shows where you both are in life, what you think and how you see the world.

I chose to make this album with my lovely 16-year-old daughter Aidan, and now that it's done, I keep thinking this is something she and I will seriously love to look back on as the years progress. What she thought at 16 and what I thought at 46… how different will we view our lives and ourselves in 10 years, or 20, or more?

Today I wanted to share one set of pages from the album. Of the 15 prompts you can choose from, one of my favorites is "How We Are Different." Every time Aidan finished one of her pages and gave it to me, I really did savor reading what she wrote. To read her voice and see her choice of a photograph, well, it warmed this scrapbooking mama's heart to say the least. Here's a peek at the two pages we did for this album project.

Note: click on each image to see the page larger in a new window.



Aidan found an old photo of me and her from when she was just about three to use on her page. Sigh. Gotta tell you: that one melts me every time.

This album project is really more about the words than having the perfect photos to illustrate every point, although it was fun to dig through my photo collection and select photos I thought would best work with my entries.

Each spread in this album project looks exactly like what you see above. You alternate your patterned papers, add printable monograms, photos and journaling.

The other part of the class is solid instruction for both Word and Photoshop Elements users. Beginners are definitely welcome and will find the step-by-steps clear and easy to follow. It's a true hybrid scrapbooking project that lets you combine the best of computer technology and traditional scrapbooking. (Note: fully layered PSD files are included for digital scrapbookers.)

Your album partner doesn't have to be a scrapbooker. Heck, you can get them to do the writing and offer up the photos, and you can assemble all of the pages yourself. For example, I'd love to do this project with my hubby, but I wouldn't really expect him to bust out the Hermafix and go to town on the assembly.

To learn more about the class or to sign up, click here.


NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY Today I'm giving away two spots in this class and tonight I will choose the winners after 7 p.m. CST. All you have to do is tell me who you would consider doing this album project with, were you to win the spot in class. Good luck, and I'll choose two winners tonight.

This giveaway is now closed. Please check back to see if you're a winner. 

October 27, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: A gratitude album project + free downloads


For the past few years, I've made gratitude-themed mini albums on Thanksgiving. The idea was simple: hand out pre-printed cards to everyone in attendance at our Thanksgiving Day celebration, have them write what they are thankful for, snap a photo of them, and then compile everything into a 4 x 6 photo album. I created albums in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

This year, I wanted to change up my project a bit and have designed a new album set that focuses on 30 days of thankfulness. This new set features a 32-page, pre-designed album project. No Photoshop skills are required. You simply open the PDF print onto white cardstock, trim, and then add your words and photos as you go through the month of November. (There are 32 layered PSD templates included in the set for full customization.)


Each 6 x 6 page features a day number, a simple phrase (today I am thankful for…) and lines for journaling. You add a 5 x 4 inch photo and the page is complete.

It took me a few hours to prepare all of the pages, printing and trimming. After printing, it looked like this:


I couldn't help but smile as it reminded me of my days of press checking at print shops, with big old sheets of papers layed out before me. Of course, what you see here are 32 pieces of Bazzill Orange Peel cardstock all neatly placed together. If there is a finer sheet of white cardstock on the face of the Earth, I have not seen it. I order this stuff in bulk. 

Each spread features alternating patterns and colors. I designed a very simple polka dot pattern and chevron pattern to use for this project in brown, orange and green. 


Each page also features crop marks, guides to help you quickly trim the pages to their 6 x 6 size. 

It's easy to use crop marks with a paper trimmer. You simply line up one set of marks with the cutting guide first.


Then you pop the blade into the paper right over the mark.


Then you drag to the end mark and release, being careful not to cut all the way to the edge of the paper.


When you reach the end of the cut, you lift the blade up, turn the paper and repeat. And voila, you have a 6 x 6 page ready to go.


After trimming all the pages, I placed them into a 6 x 6 album so they are ready to go come November 1st.



The goal, of course, is to document the things you are thankful for for 30 days. From the heartfelt to the frivolous to everything in between, this album gives you (and anyone else who'd like to join in) a chance to focus on gratitude for a full month.

In the end, you'll have a collection of pages like this one:


You'll have plenty of room to jot down whatever you are thankful for in your own, unique handwriting.

IMPORTANT PRINTING TIP: If you are using the PDF file to print in Acrobat, you need to select ACTUAL SIZE under Page Sizing and Handling in the print dialogue box. Do not choose FIT or it will fill the entire page and your file will print larger than 6 x 6.

I have a few free downloads for anyone who'd like to join in. First, if you use a We R Memory Keepers binder, I have a label designed for the spine.


It's so tiny and adorable! Click on the link below to download a printable PDF.

Download 30DaysBinderLabel

I also created a 3-page planning sheet for this project. It let's you jot notes as you go through the week, in case you don't have time to create the pages every day. I know how sometimes the week can get away from you, and it's easier to sit down and scrapbook on the weekends.


To download the Daily Log, click on the link below:

Download CZ_30DaysDailyLog

And finally, if you'd like to create this album, I've got a simple blog button you can download to share with your readers as well. Click on the link to download this 120 x 120 pixel jpeg file. (Mac users, Control + Click to Save Image As…, PC users, right click, I believe.)


So here's the rest of my plan: every Friday in November, I'm going to share my pages on my blog and encourage you to share yours as well by adding your link to my Friday posts.

I'm really excited about this little album project and I'm always looking for ways to refocus my energy on what I am grateful for. I think it grounds me like nothing else and especially during this time of year. It helps me to focus to on what I have instead of what I wish I had.

Here's to 30 Days of Thankful. I hope you'll join in!


Note: you will need a total of 33 sheets of cardstock and one extra set (10) of 6 x 6 page protectors to complete the album.

October 25, 2012

Project Life, Week Forty-Two


OBSERVATIONS: Week 42 is on the books, so to speak, and last week was a bit of a blur. Lots of work. Lots of celebrating. Lots of living. Most notably last week, Dan and I celebrated 21 years of marital bliss. And yes, I would like to give a shout out to our therapist, because let's face it, she's a miracle worker. Big up, Ms. M! 

Moving right along, here are my pages for the week.


Note: if you didn't read my Crapbooking Mission Statement and get your free downloadable card, by all means, click here.

This week, I used a small envelope page to hold me and Dan's anniversary cards. We eschew gifts on our anniversary in favor of offering each other heartfelt cards. It's a tradition that dates back, well, 21 years. It was a time when the best gifts we could afford were simply words in a card. To this day, I can honestly say it's something we both look forward to and occasionally get a little weepy over. (Weepy in a good way, not in a I really wanted diamonds way.) I added a little Year Card to the pocket to denote the milestone.


Here's the page without the envelope:


Here's the weekly recap:


And that is all I wrote for Week Forty-Two of Project Life. See you back here on Monday where I'm going to share a new album project for November. The theme? What else? Thankfulness.

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.

October 24, 2012

Layout Share: In the Blink of an Eye


Last weekend, Dan undertook the Herculean task of cleaning out our garage. Many things that we'd thought were lost magically reappeared, and many of those things were things that well, honestly, we just didn't really need.

He dug out a few old bags of clothes that were slated for the Goodwill circa 2004. Somehow they got buried in our muck and never found their way out. Dan suggested I wash the clothes and then send them on their merry way. (To clarify: he did say "I'm not trying to say that you can do laundry and I can't." See, that's what high priced therapy does for you, people. It removes the issues surrounding laundry.)

Anyhoo… in the stash of freshly laundered toddler clothes was this old shirt/dress of Aidan's, from around 2000.


I swear to you, my heart skipped a beat down in my basement standing next to my Kenmore dryer, as I crumpled the dress to my nose and inhaled, imagining that I could drink in the smell of my then four-year-old girl.

I was instantly seeing pictures of her in the dress in my mind's eye—dance performances in our family room wearing her little white heeled shoes and trips to the Chelsea Heights playground. Any and every opportunity to have that dress on she'd take, even long after her growing frame made it far more of a shirt than a dress.

I hit the photo albums, knowing I had to have tons of photos of her in the dress. I knew I had video of her dancing in it, but I really wanted to find a photo. 

And I did. 

Then I just had a stop, drop, design and write kind of moment. And this is the page that resulted:


The journaling reads: Dan was cleaning out the garage and came across an ancient paper bag, full of baby and toddler clothes slated at some point, years ago, for a trip  to Goodwill. He suggested we give them a quick wash, as they were covered in leaves and assorted mucky muck, and when I pulled everything out of the dryer, there it was: Aidan’s little red velvet dress. It’s funny how stuff comes rushing back to you; stuff you thought you’d forgotten. Like how she would wear that dress, put on her little white high heeled shoes, and dance around the family room the the sounds of Madonna singing, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from the Evita sound track. How, in that dress, she’d perfected her patented heel spin move. How she wore that dress long after it had outgrown her 4-year-old frame. I’m usually not overly sentimental about clothes. Maybe that’s because my baby girl is moving so surprisingly fast towards independence. Maybe the sentimentality grows with every passing year that she nears the time where she’s going to fly our little coop for a life beyond Sheldon Street. Whatever the case, I ended up digging out the DVDs of our early home videos, and watching my little girlie spin on her heel, and wishing I had found a way to be more present, more engaged and more connected back then. Funny how a piece of clothing can do something like that, isn’t it?

A trace of bittersweet worked its way in, as I spent the morning reflecting on the mother I'd been and the mother I am today. I'm glad that became part of this journaled story. I always want my children to know that I am a work in progress, and that it matters that I get better as I go. That there is always time to reflect and time to change. Always.


I took the photo of her on the swing and scanned it into Photoshop so I could preserve the original shot, then I designed a simple template and filled in the blanks. In true hybrid fashion, I printed the journaling elements onto white cardstock (turning off the photo layers before doing this) and then I dragged the photos into a new doc where I printed them onto photo paper.

Trim and assemble. And done.

This template is available for purchase at Designer Digitals. Click here. Just wanted to share a little burst of inspiration from a worn old piece of clothing.

There really are stories everywhere waiting to be told.

October 22, 2012

Taking the 'crap' out of scrapbooking—a new motto for an old approach


A few years ago, I did an ad trade with the woman who runs the Skinny Taste site. At the time, I really didn't have an ad ready to go, so I decided to whip up a quick one and at the last minute, I used the phrase, "Taking the 'crap' out of scrapbooking." I wasn't sure if that would attract any new readers to my blog or not, but I thought it accurately reflected my approach to this memory keeping pastime.

I worried, initially, that it might be seen as negative by some, but then realized, no, it's actually how I approach this hobby.

How so? Well, let's define crap.

1. Crap = expectations of how you're supposed to do something. From the outset, I had to do what felt right to me creatively or this hobby wasn't going to last for the 11 years that it has thus far. Having an expected way to tell a story, or hearing how women felt they should do pages for their children never had much of an appeal for me. I always saw it as an opportunity to tell the stories I wanted to save and to feel creative in the process. And as I've learned in therapy, expectations make stuff not much fun at all.

2. Crap = keeping up with the latest trends. For me, trying to keep up with every trend (and yes, there was a time in my crafting life when I did make the effort) just didn't sit well at all. I always thought if the trend fit, then I would wear it. If not, no sleep would be lost that I keep going back to the same approach and style that made me love scrapbooking in the first place. This is more a reflection of me personally as well. I'm not the trendiest of gals out there. I just know what I like and I make it work within my loved, worn and familiar framework.

3. Crap = stuff that gets in the way of creative living. You know what I'm talking about, right? Stuff like comparing yourselves to others (her photos are SO much better than mine); or feeling like you aren't a good scrapbooking mom if you don't get the right photos at the right time. Or being so involved in the memory keeping process that you're not actually living in the moments of your life.

4. Crap = painting the rosiest picture of your life you can find. This hobby is really about telling the true stories of your life. The everyday stuff. The nitty gritty. The ups and downs and inbetweens. What your life really and truly looks like. I'm not saying you need to create a detailed layout on how your bursitis has been flaring up (but if you want to, by all means do), but I am talking about real stories. Real life. The authentic experience of being you.

5. Crap = any other obstacle that removes your personal enjoyment from this hobby. I'm not talking about time and responsibilities here. But I'm am talking about the stress of being behind (who is keeping track here?) or the idea that if you're not getting the comprehensive story of your life told (maybe because you are out there living it, right?)

So that's what I mean by crap. And it's sitting really well in my head right now. It's inspiring me. It's reminding me of everything I adore about scrapbooking.

I designed a very simple printable 3 x 4 card, perfect for you Project Lifers out there, or anyone who'd like a handy little card that reminds you of some of your own reasons for doing what we do. There are four colors to choose from.

Download CZ_CrapCard

Enjoy! Here's to removing the crap from your scrapbooking.



October 19, 2012



Twenty-one seems like a lucky number.

Twenty-one years ago today I married Daniel Ezekiel Zielske in a simple ceremony on a very chilly October afternoon.

At just over eighteen years into it, we decided to try and figure out the stuff that wasn't quite working; the stuff that was slowly but surely bogging our union down. The stuff that was surely going to either drive us apart, or drive us to live unhappily forever after.


And learning about that stuff has been nothing short of mind-blowing. Of course, I can only speak to the mind blowing aspect that I personally have experienced. As I've learned, he and I are very different people in this world with completely different issues we've both carried with us all these years.

But I've learned so much about myself—and continue to do so—and as I've mentioned here on the blog during the past few years, there've been some hard pills to swallow along the way.


Pills that had to go down the old gullet, whether I wanted them to or not. And let me tell you, I've put up a good fight on a lot of them.

Here's to swallowing pills and finding connection and redefining a relationship together.

Me and d

Happy anniversary, Dan Zielske. We've got way too much invested to stop now.




October 18, 2012

Project Life, Week Forty-One


OBSERVATIONS: Well, I'm hoping you'll notice a few little changes on the old blog today. One of the things I wanted to do is to have larger images, and I managed to eek out a few more pixels to that end. This will be a work in progress, much like Project Life. Hey! See that? It all connects. As you can see by the card above, life is truly good when you have both a shopping cart full of wine and a chance to hear Dr. Brené Brown speak (though not necessarily at the same time.)

I'd love to wax philisophic here, but I have to try and figure out how to center my NavBar. Shall we simply gaze upon the Project Life offering of the week? Let's!


This week, I was low on photos, which is why you see Giant Adorable Aidan. If you've never tried this in your Project Life albums, I highly recommend doing it. You create a photo that is 6 inches wide by 8 inches tall. Trim off the top half to be a 6 x 4. Then trim the remaining photo in half. Next, if you want it to fit like butter, trim off about an 1/8 of an inch off the very bottom of the lower half, and then trim off about an 1/8th of an inch from the inside of each of the remaining halfs, where they would meet had they not been trimmed. Clear as mud?


Remember last week when I showed you how to make your own custom cards for your albums? Well, one of the things I'm excited to announce is the addition of CZ Design papers at Designer Digitals. This weekend, there will be five additional packages to play with. I really wanted to create papers with textures and palettes that made me happy, and plan to continue doing so. Plus, I can make custom cards using these papers and various word art sets. 

Note: Ylvis are NORWEGIAN! Thank you for pointing this out. The card will be thusly changed, my Norwegian friends.



And that is all I wrote for Week Forty-One!


October 11, 2012

Project Life, Week Forty + a video tutorial


OBSERVATIONS: My math skills might not be the sharpest, but as of last week, there are just 12 weeks left in the year. In the year, people! Seriously. Time flies. And what makes me both happy and surprised is how I've kept up with this project. Granted, last week, I had very few photos to choose from. I took hardly any and you can kind of see where the so-called filler lies. What can I say? Not every week is going to be rich and full of photo-worthy times. (Or at the very least, some weeks find this mama too busy to pull out the camera—high tech or otherwise—to document life.) 

Let's review how I cobbled this all together.



Ah yes. When you take your daughter's name tag and a close up shot of a knob on your grill, you know you're reaching. 


I supposed I could have used each of the holiday shots separately, but they work so much more nicely as a small collage.


And I have Aidan to thank for the fabulous photo of Dan and Mary Tyler Moore in downtown Minneapolis. I love that she snaps away without even being told or asked. Imagine that!

Here is the weekly recap.


And last but not least, another filler image but one that makes me insanely happy and comforted. Because Aidan has an iPhone, I can locate her phone's exact whereabouts using the awesome Find My Friends app. Now in my day, that might have seen a bit Big Brother-ish. Heck, it still does today, but when my girl is out on her Behind The Wheel driving class, I find immense comfort knowing exactly where she is practicing her parallel parking.


A quick side note: did you know it's really easy to make your own Project Life 3 x 4 cards using some digital paper and word art? Here's a short video showing you how I took a digital patterned paper and some word art to make the "Love My Life" card. I also made my own card on the first spread that says "Love October." The possibilities are endless for creating and customizing your own cards.

Make a 3 x 4 card using digital papers and brushes from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

Note: create your card file in PSE to be 2.875 wide x 3.9375 tall for the perfectly sized Project Life card. 



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.

October 10, 2012

Speaking of Fall (a recipe share)


I wanted to share my chili recipe that I posted a photo of in my Rituals of Fall layout from Monday. This recipe is really simple, heavy on the protein and in my opinion, very tasty. It combines a few recipes I've used over the years, and now has become my go-to chili.

I eat this many days for lunch. I don't bother with any chili fixin's; it's tasty enough to stand on its own. Plus, it's full of protein and keeps me on the straight and narrow path of healthier eating. Note: Costco has these great organic ground beef three-packs that each have about 1.3 pounds of beef. I use one of those packs each time I make this.


I've included a printable PDF today, which I created using my new Simple Recipe Album set.

Here's the recipe for your downloadable pleasure:

Download EZCZChili

I know some of you are waiting on Fall's arrival, so if it's not quite chili weather where you are, just tuck it away until those degrees start to…Fall.

Note: those of you looking to make a more Paleo-esque version of the recipe can omit the bean, and add in more veggies. I have been doing half the amount of beans, as I strive for a less grain/legume-heavy diet.

You can find my Simple Recipe Album set by clicking here.