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14 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

Project Life, Week Eight


OBSERVATIONS: It's Week Eight of Project Life. My heart is very heavy as I post this. One of our team at Designer Digitals, Pattie Knox, has passed away. I wish I had something deep and profound to say. I just feel sadness for her family and for those who love her so dearly.

Life is such a gift. Every single day of it. 





February 27, 2013

Ebb and flow and chub


It happens slowly.

One day, you're hovering around a weight that makes you feel confident, strong and successful, and a year-and-a-half later, you're not.

Today's post was not planned to be a lament. In fact, sometimes I hesitate posting laments because there will always be someone who calls me out for being a baby, and then I feel even worse about myself, and then I usually buck up and get down to the business of doing what is needed.

Maybe it should be a lament.

Long story short: remember that weight I lost working my little tushka off? It's almost all back. Almost. Not quite. Just about. Five more pounds and yes, ladies and gentlemen, we'll have a bingo!

If you've never had any issues with food or body image or weight, this concept might seem completely foreign and ridiculous to you. Up and down. Back and forth. Gains, losses and gains.

I was thinking about it the other day and realized: I'm 46 years old and this has been an issue for much of my adult life. 

Of course, I didn't really experience it so much in my 20s because I smoked myself silly. (As if that wasn't an issue in and of itself, right?)

But since I have attempted to live a life free of nicotine (beginning at age 30, and off and on until I quit for good at 40), weight and food and body image have been an issue.

The whole body image issue, well, that's layered deeply in the minutiae of my personal development and goes a bit beyond what I'm addressing today. But the weight and food thing? Let's just say I'm getting tired of the ebb and flow for which I am fully responsible for inviting to the party.

In my Move More, Eat Well class, there is a lot of room for brutal truth. Looking at your choices. Spending time thinking about why you are making those choices and so on.

There is also room for support and comfort. I've been offering a lot more of the latter to myself during the past year. And while that approach makes me feel better, my yoga pants are feeling more and more like my wardrobe's Last Great Stretchy Hope.

Do you ever find yourself looking at people for whom weight and food do not seem to be a problem? (Of course, judging a person by how they look, well… that's a little silly and presumptuous, but bear with me for a second.) 

I do this and I wonder a) what that would be like, to just stay the same size, enjoy a treat every now and then and not always seem to be on the verge of having to buy bigger clothes? and b) do they have just as many issues surrounding food and weight as I do?

I suppose that's going to have to be a rhetorical question for now. 

I'm okay with not having the answers to all of this. Most of the time. There are still many positives in this process, the main one being I'm stronger and healthier than I used to be as a skinny, smelly smoker.

I still run three miles a pop. I walk just about every single day. I wear my FitBit and always shoot to log as many steps as I can.

Most importantly, I'm trying to work on the inside stuff, which I do believe is a lot more important than the shell in which it all resides.

Lastly, I try to stay connected to what is real and what is needed. And I can guarantee you my therapist will tell me that is that very last thing I'm doing on this particular subject.

Just talking out loud today. I've been feeling a bit heavy in more ways than one, and sometimes it helps me to write it all out.

Know what I'm saying?


To learn more about Move More, Eat Well 2.0, click on the image below. You can join at any time in 2013. A new classroom will go up on March 1.We'd love to have you join our community of people who are working to Move More and Eat Well in 2013.



February 25, 2013

Project Life, Week Seven


OBSERVATIONS: I'm posting this a little late because last week I was really moved to share a post with a video about bullying. If you haven't seen it, click here.

Week Seven, of course, included Valentine's Day, a day we often celebrate as a family. Knowing that one child will be off to college in a year and a half, we really cherish all of the time and holidays together, and V Day is no exception.

And this week, I got to save our cards in one of the Project Life Small Envelopes. I love these so much for cards! Just perfect.

Here are my pages for Week Seven:



I love that the pockets on the envelopes have a slot for a 4 x 3 card.


Here's our week in review:



Also very grateful this week for the relationship I have with my daughter, Aidan. I had to take a screen capture of this text exchange. She was worried that I would be mad at her because she took my brand new bottle of Penzey's Vanilla to school for a baking project and it got added to the communal vanilla vat. It's bittersweet, I swear, because three years ago, before therapy I probably would have been pissed off about it and made a stink. I don't do that sort of thing anymore. This makes everyone happier. 


And that is all I wrote for Week Seven. Supplies are below.



February 21, 2013

Instead of Project Life today, would you watch this?

I just saw a video posted on Facebook from Upworthy, a site that continually inspires me and makes me think. This video is no different. And it's amazing.

It's about bullying. And bullies. And it's a beautiful, passionate spoken word poem by Shane Koyczan.

I've thought a lot about bullies in my life. Why they do it. What goes on in their own lives to motivate them to say what they say. How is it handed down.

Or is it? Are some people just mean? (I don't believe any of us born mean, honestly.) But maybe I am naive. I like to think I'm not on this one.

I think about my own kids. When they have been teased. Or if they have been the teasers. And as Shane says in his poem, "Kids can be cruel." But do they have to be?

I want to be responsible in my own life for how I have treated (and continue to treat others). I want to teach this to my children every single day. 

Words matter so much.


Project Life will return next week.

February 20, 2013

That's What She Said


I never use that phrase correctly and today is no exception.

I actually mean to say simply what she said. She, being my friend Lisa Russo. This, ladies, is a blog post about cleaning and for anyone who ever finds themselves in need of, well, cleaning.

Lisa wrote a comprehensive, long-in-the-making and well-tested blog post about a product called e-cloth. I may be jumping the gun, but I think their products quite possibly will change my life, just as they have changed Lisa's.

But honestly, she said it better than I can so if you're interested, click here to read about e-cloths.

Long story short: Lisa is one of those people who if she endorses something, I believe her. Girl doesn't make recommendations lightly. (She posts fabulous recipes as well and her photos are gorgeous.) I ordered three cloths for myself (the Window Cloth, the Stainless Steel cloth and the Bathroom Cloth). Honestly? I was shocked at how well they worked. So I went and ordered more.

I even used the Window Cloth on my Ceran top cook range and I didn't have to use a drop of Windex, or Wymans Glass Top Cook Cleaner—nothing! And it came out sparkly and smudge free.

I just placed my second order for more of their products.

One day, who knows? I may splurge and hire a cleaning service, but until that day rolls around, I now have a completely chemical-free alternative.

Note: Blog reader Cheri just informed me if you use the code 20%OFF, you can get a discount on regular-priced items, not on sale or combo packs.


February 18, 2013

Mrs. Brightside


I love winter.

Some people don't. Some people curse it, condemn it, pray for its timely demise.

But not me.

I like to be cold much more so than being hot. I'm a hot house flower of sorts. One that does much better not actually being in a hot house.

Maybe an ice fishing house with a small heater is more my style, save for not being real big into ice fishing. 

One of the real bonuses of living in Minnesota during the winter at age 46 is that when your hormones start stoking the internal metabolic flames, you can just step outside and ahhhhhh… instant relief.

Of course, this isn't practical at 2:30 a.m., but I'm fortunate to live with a man who keeps the thermostat dialed way down low between the hours of Midnight and 6 a.m.

It's funny. I used to fight with him over how cold the house was at night. Back in my 30s. Of course, back then I would have picked a fight with him over his shoelace being untied. Still… time has shown me there was a larger plan at work: he was planning for my change of life all along.

I told my therapist about this, the idea of being grateful for winter and how it is a real plus for my perimenopause self to which she reminded me it wasn't too long ago where I complained to her that Minnesota was never a place I would have chosen to live.


It's simply a matter of a shifting perspective, and I'm not just talking about some Pollyanna way of looking at the world, but rather, what am I grateful for instead of what I'm lacking for.

Are there things you've found a new perspective on over the years? If so, by all means, share.


February 14, 2013

Project Life, Week Six


OBSERVATIONS: Hello Week Six! A very Dan-heavy week last week. It's not always the case that Dan shows up in a ton of photos on a consistent basis. You know that thing, when you've been together a really long time, and you remember how when you were first together you took pictures of each other all the time? Sometimes, I forget that. Shhhh. Don't tell our therapist.

But he really is adorable when he bowls.

Here's the week:



It seems like my family is always on stage. Not the case. Though one could argue our entire lives are lived as if we are on stage, such is the drama level in my home. (Kidding, Dan!)

Aidan is presentlly enrolled in the IB program and her arts class is theater. They did a night of Shakespeare and my God, that child is good on stage. Of course Cole rocked the stage last week. I am the only one in this family who have never been in a show. Never say never, right?



I still really love using journal cards with type. It really does let me write more of our stories each week. Sure, I'll mix in handwriting, but it's really more of a wordiness than anything. I can't say as much when I scrawl it in. That's a fact.

And that is all I wrote for Week 6.

SAVE ON DIGITAL PRODUCTS: Designer Digitals is extending the quarterly sale until 3 a.m. EST on Friday morning. And to sweeten it for Valentine's day we are giving out a coupon code for an extra 5% off your purchase! Simply use the following code at checkout: ddlove5



February 13, 2013

Digital freebies for you (plus a video to show you how to use them)


As a thank you to my blog readers as well as users of my digital collection of products, today I have three sets of photo flag word banners for you. These can be fun to drop into a photo, or clip a patterned paper into. The files are available in PNG and ABR format.

Download the zipped digital package by clicking on the link below:

Download CZ_PhotoFlagFreebies

I used these flags last week on my Project Life spread.


I simply clipped some of my patterned paper collection in, sized them down a bit, printed, trimmed and adhered to my photo.

Here's a short video showing you a few ways to work with these files:


Thanks again for supporting Designer Digitals. We appreciate our customers immensely!

To show our appreciation, we are extending the sale until 3am EST on Friday morning. And to sweeten it for Valentine's day we are giving out a coupon code for an extra 5% off your purchase!

Simply use the following code at checkout: ddlove5

The fine print: Coupon code can be shared and used multiple times thru the rest of the sale. It is not good on previous purchases and must be used at time of purchase, no adjustments will be made.


February 12, 2013

Inspired and a tad profane. (Emphasis on inspired.)

I wanted to share a website today that my friend Lee Currie shared with me over the weekend. The name of the site includes the f-word. I generally have a current blog policy to not use this word. While it may be a word I use in my personal life (and believe me, I've uttered a few in my day), I've never used it on this blog in an effort to not offend my readers.

This post may not be for you, if you're easily offended by language. But I hope you won't be, because there is a larger message at work here. Disclaimer over.

Good F#%@ing Design Advice (you can click on a link in the lower left of their main page to create a family-friendly—more or less—version) is the coolest web site I've come across in a long time. At first, when Lee sent me the link, I just looked at their store and thought, "Oh, that's cute. Cheeky, swears… racy humor for designers. Kinda cute."

Then I realized, "The product design is pretty tight."

Then I realized, "This site design is pretty tight, too."

Then I realized I loved it not just for the cheeky message, but for the perfect and copious use of Helvetica. And the color orange. And the white space.

Then I watched their video. 

And I realized: I love this for the message.


I love the idea of a passion project—what would you do if you could focus on what you were passionate about, first and foremost. And how would that spill over into everything else you did?

Think about that. How many of you got into crafting or scrapbooking because of a true passion for the creative process? How does the act of creating spill over into how you live your life every day?

It reminded me of the day last summer when I realized that my tagline of "Taking the 'Crap Out of Scrapbooking" was truly a message that I not only connected to but that I had consciously been cultivating for years. I remember feeling so, so inspired that day, as if my passion and my work melded together in that moment and I was suddenly aware of how fortunate I was to be able to do what I did for a living.

These guys are really thoughtful young designers. Their message is inspired. Hearing their process on this project, realizing this isn't just about using an f-bomb for shock value. Then watching them screen print by hand, the whole tactile expression of beautifully executed design… this entire video—as a designer myself, I just feel inspired.

I connected to it on so many levels. On one hand, in my professional life as a graphic designer, I try to bring real passion and expertise to my work, even though my work is not going to show up in any design annuals or awards shows. I care about quality work. I care about how well that headline is kerned. Or if things are lining up on the baseline. Or if that sentence ends in an orphan. I wish I knew web design so I could truly have a blog that reflected my design aesthetic.

I care about simplicity and elegance and delivering the message in a clear and concise manner.

Now take that into the scrapbooking world—a world in which let's face it, many designers would scoff and say, "Design has no place in scrapbooking,"—this too is also something I really care about. About showing people what principles of design look like when applied in a thoughtful and caring way. And showing people what elegance and simplicity can do on a craft-based level.

So I decided to print out and take their pledge. If you think about it, how universal is the potential application? How many of us, as we strive to earn our daily livings, find ourselves faced with doubt or fear? How many of us will give into not offering up the best of ourselves to the tasks at hand? I know that for me personally, that's never going to be okay.


I hope you get a chance to watch the video. Or poke around their site a bit.

I just wanted to share something this week that reminded me of how much I love what I do. And to remind me to trust in myself, engage and connect to the passion at hand.

F-bombs or not.

Oh yeah, and to look forward to the coffee I'll soon be drinking from my new mug.


February 11, 2013

Registration is now open for Clean & Simple: The Workshop


Registration is now open for my new 4Experts Class, Clean & Simple: The Workshop.

This 12-week class is all about taking the plunge into the world of hybrid scrapbook page design with me, Cathy Zielske, as your guide and fearless leader.

With Photoshop Elements as your key tool, each week we'll be creating layouts that combine the best of what the digital world can offer to the paper and glue scrapbook realm. 

I've been using my computer from the very start, combining design expertise with meaningful stories and content to develop and refine my style. 

Design + technology + heart. These three things are at the very core of my memory keeping philosophy and approach, and throughout this workshop, I'm going to hopefully inspire you to really immerse yourself in the process I call Clean & Simple.

This class is very different from any I've offered before. Yes, there will be a ton of design education. Yes, there will be a ton of detailed, step-by-step video instruction. But I've always wanted to simply show people how I do what I do. This class gives me the opportunity to do just that.

I've fielded a number of emails asking: I'm a paper scrapper. Is this a class for me? To which I answer: I'm a paper scrapper, too! But what has geeked me out the most about scrapbooking since Day 1 was that I could use my computer to design and create the way I wanted to; that I could use digital tools and yet still be able to cut and paste and play. 

This is not a class with sketches and measurements. This is a class that will challenge you to try new approaches. And hopefully, this is a class that will build your digital skills so that when you have an idea swirling around your brain, you'll be able to put it into action and onto your scrapbook pages.

This is also a class where content and story matter. I believe the opportunity to explore all facets of our lives is one of the coolest aspects of this amazing hobby. In Clean & Simple, we will do just that each week.

I also believe that mastering digital processes opens up a whole world of creative possibilities for the traditional, paper-loving scrapbooker. It's my goal with this workshop to share my knowledge of this process with you.

We're doing 8.5 x 11 pages; we're doing 12 x 12 pages. Each week, regardless of the size, the focus is on processes that will stay with you long after the workshop is over.

Photoshop beginners are welcome to this class—both Mac and PC users. There is a PreClass Video and practice templates awaiting you upon registration. It will give you an overview of the key processes you'll be using. I promise that Photoshop is not scary. You just need to take a deep breath and remember: there's always the Undo Command.

How is this class different from Design Your Life? DYL was broken down into design principles for each week, with corresponding assignments, based in paper scrapbooking with some printable elements. In this class, we break down each assignment from a design standpoint, but the focus will be on using digital tools (computers and Photoshop) to create real-world pages. This class is not about using the photos you have sitting on your scrapbook table. It's about building the page digitally, and breaking it all apart to create truly custom end results. 

There's aren't many supplies needed for this class. A stack of white cardstock, a circle punch, a corner rounder…some basic scrapbooking supplies. That said, you do need to be able to print assignment elements at home, and it's going to be a lot easier if you have the ability to print photos at home as well. Note: if you can't print your photos at home, you will simply order from your usual photo printing service but keep in mind you may not have as much control over the process.

Another bonus in this class: you'll get the opportunity for a private, online screening of a new full-length, yet-to-be-released scrapbooking documentary by film maker Tory Jeffay. The film features me and Stacy Julian, as well as the founder of Creative Memories and other women connected to the industry. 

If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them in the comments today. 

To register, or for more information, click on the banner below!