Site moved to, redirecting in 1 second...

121 posts categorized "offspring"

March 03, 2014

Layout Share: Poetry Out Loud


I've been feeling the need to document more.

I'm quite certain it's stemming from the mortality that hits you in the gut when you are nearing the day when your first-born child is preparing to leave.

It's not about scrap guilt, I assure you.

Aidan has a very manageable number of layouts that have been created about her since the day she arrived. I do not have endless volumes. I have three albums that contain pages specifically about her life.

I do not wish I had more. I do not wish I had less.

She seems to be cool with it as well.

Still, I have this need to tell more everyday stories right now. More events. More things.

I really believe it's just one of the ways I'm working through the pain—yes, it's painful to me on a number of levels—of having one less body dwelling under this roof.

Especially a body that I adore with the very cells of my being. 

But enough with the melodrama and onto a very simple page detailing one cool event from the life of said child.

It's a very simple hyrid project. Here it is pre-assembly:


I used my PictureMate Charm to print out images from a digital template. I used the "Borders" setting and it printed the images the exact size from the template. (Whenever you choose "Borderless" your image will be enlarged slightly to accommodate for that edge-to-edge printing.)

I also added a 3px stroke to the photo layer masks which gave me an easy-to-see trim line. I simply placed my metal ruler just inside the black line and cut with an X-acto knife.

Here is the finished page:


Notice there is a big chunk of light text on the left? That is the text from one of the poems she read, The Universe as Primal Scream by Tracy K. Smith. I created a large text box and changed the color to a brown then changed the Opacity to about 20 percent.

I rounded the corners on the page because sometimes I'm just in that kind of a mood.

And into her album it goes.

A simple story saved.


Want to learn how to use digital templates to make more traditional layouts? I have a video for that. Click here to watch.



February 10, 2014

Layout Share: This Boy


Because I did one featuring my girl, I figured I could also do one for my boy.

I'm going to be honest with you: this one was trickier than the former. Why? Well, there are a few issues.

Issue No. 1: I don't presently have a willing male photo subject for 99 percent of the time. That's part of being a teenager. That's part of thinking your mom is annoying. I'm working with this. 

Issue No. 2: He is a teenager. And a boy.

Issue No. 3: See issues No. 1 and 2.

I am certain many of you who are mothers of teenaged boys (and girls) can relate to this. While many of you may think, "Oh, Cathy… I bet you're a totally cool mother," (and I have to admit, you are mostly correct in your assumption), I'm still going to hit the uncool mark frequently because of Issue No. 2.

And also because I mess up at parenting some times. Nothing erodes good will like making poor parenting choices. Oh sure, the good choices can erode good will, too. Imagine that. I'm learning as I go.

But I still want to document his life. I still want to record the little traits, nuances, and habits that make up who he is right now.

The photo was taken with my iPhone in our wonderfully lit basement after he'd gotten his new bass guitar for Christmas. I wait for my opportunities, then I pounce.

Here is the finished layout.


(Click on the image to see a larger, more legible version.)

Last week, I recorded a video showing you the process of turning a digital template into a hybrid scrapbook layout. It's the same template, so, you know, the same steps apply.

Using a Digital Template to Make a Hybrid Scrapbook Page from Cathy Zielske on Vimeo.

I'm not sure what memory keeping will look like next Fall when Aidan heads off to college. I know I want to record our lives but it may become more of a personal reflection, capturing glimpses when and where I can.

But enough about the future. We're here now. The document exists.

And that's good enough for me.

Note: I used some patterned paper and a wooden letter from Studio Calico. I don't have product links for those items.

The Designer Digitals 1st Quarter Sale is on now. Save 30% on everything in the store until Friday morning.

November 13, 2013

Wasn't she just born?



I feel like this year might be full of quite a few posts that begin with 'sigh' where Aidan is concerned.

She's not toddling around our house anymore. She's not dumping finger paint on the dining room floor. She's not belting out the Evita soundtrack while wearing a red nightie from her mother's stash. She's not a little kid anymore.

I am middled aged and she is on the verge of eighteen. Heavy frickin' sigh.

But you know what? She's an awesome 17-and-a-half-year-old. For all the things I wish I could go back and do differently as her mother, she has emerged with grace and wisdom. There are some things she just arrived here with. No matter how hard I tried, I didn't mess that up.

Heavy freaking sigh.

We are fortunate to have friends who take photos. One of my dearest friends, Margie Scherschligt, photographed my daughter last month in downtown Minneapolis. I wanted to share a few of the shots.

My favorite thing is that she's wearing one of her Dad's second-hand shirts (missing a button, no less), her hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, her own second-hand boots and just a touch of make up. 

God, I love her style and her confidence. I really, really do.

Without further adieu, may I present Aidan Zielske, senior.









Love you, girl.

And thank you, Marige. I love you, too!




October 21, 2013

Hybrid Layout: Senior Photos


I had the distinct pleasure of watching my dear friend Margie Scherschligt of Margie Photo take pictures of my senior girl over the weekend. We battled potential rain and definite cold, but I think the photos are going to be absolutely awesome. 

I trailed behind with coffee and my iPhone, letting Margie do her thing. I loved that Aidan was really herself, hair piled up on top her head, wearing her dad's vintage shirt that was missing a button. It was really important to her that she be herself. No crazy make up or hair. Just 100% authentic Aidan. Love that.

I was so geeked that when I got home I thought, "Silhouette + Photos = Potentially Awesome Layout." And I realized it has been AGES since I made a traditional scrapbook page. 

This makes me happy.




The only other supplies are kraft and white Bazzil cardstock, and some leftover enamel dots from last year's December Daily kit.

A simple memory saved.

My favorite kind of page.



October 09, 2013

Pizza and scrapbooking and nailing it

The other night, I made a pizza that if I'm being brutally honest, it was perhaps the single best tasting concoction that has ever been served at the House of Zielske.

I decided to re-create the famous—or at least famous in my neck of the woods—Pizza Luce Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza. The ingredients are simple: 1.5 pounds of red potatoes, boiled with about 6 cloves of garlic, then mashed with a little butter and potato water. Feta cheese. Scallions. Chopped tomatoes (some red, some yellow). And pizza dough.

Super simple. Totally winged it. And completely nailed it.


The other day, I was flipping through old scrapbooks and came across, if I'm being brutally honest, perhaps the single greatest scrapbook page in Cole's entire collection.

It was a page I made in 2004 documenting his love of all things disaster-related, and appeared in my book, Clean & Simple: The Sequel. It wasn't because it was the greatest design (it wasn't) with the greatest photos (they weren't). It was because it so fully told the story of something so specific from Cole's life at the age of 5. As I read the journaling, I remembered him to the point that I could almost smell that 5-year-old boy as I recalled him rattling off the facts about the ill-fated Titanic in rapid fire succession.

It captured such a pure aspect of his 'all-in' personality and in that moment, I was so grateful that I stumbled into a scrapbook store all those years ago.

I was so grateful to have this story on paper. With some photos and some glue.

Not technically super simple. Totally let the story lead. Nailed it.


JOURNALING READS: Okay, technically his middle name is "Asher," but with his latest five-year-old obsessions, we may as well file the paper work and have it officially changed. It all started with the Titanic. Somehow, he managed to get me to let him watch that big budget Leo DiCaprio tour-de-force (fast forward through the topless Kate Winslet part and the floating dead bodies, of course) and since that time, there's been no turning back. Every week on library night, he would return with assorted books and videos covering the legendary disaster. Then he soaked up the facts and figures like a sponge. 

Ask him anything… go on, we dare you! Name of the lookout on duty that night? Frederick Fleet. Time the great ship struck the 'berg? 11:40 p.m. Time it actually succumbed to the icy waters of the North Atlantic? 2:20 a.m. Name of the legendary band leader who played until the ship sank? Wallace Hartley. Were there enough lifeboats for all of the 2,200 passengers? Not even by half. The man who discovered the Titanic in 1985? Robert Ballard. Name of the sub he used to go down and explore? Alvin. He recites this stuff to anyone who will listen. He's a walking Titanic almanac.

But as if obsessing about one disaster wasn't enough, he found a new object of interest: natural disasters. Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, mudslides and volcanic eruptions, just to name a few. And so began a new library cycle: books and videos covering all of them. Story time at our house turned into part science class and part horror story, really. He recently brought home a "Where's Waldo" book and asked me to read it at bedtime. My jaw just about dropped to the floor. "Huh? No devastating avalance stories tonight?" Go figure.

And so he continues his quest to learn as much about disasters as possible. He even checked out two books on the Hindenburg. I'm not too worried about this phase. I watch him play in the family room, re-enacting the Titanic sinking with his paper model of the ship and a cast of unsuspecting Lego guys, complete with all the sound effects of the scraping iceberg and screaming passengers, and I just smile. He's a kid with a thirst for knowledge and a ripe imagination. But not only that, he's got stone cold scientific facts to back it all up. 

I think the best recipe for scrapbooking is just to tell real stories in all their everyday glory with as much detail as you can muster. Perfect writing isn't required. Just tell it like it is. Photos and design are always nice, but they will always take a back stage to a fully realized story.

Be storytellers, people. Your future you will thank you.



September 17, 2013

Clever girl


I've made no secret of my recently developed crush on Artifact Uprising. Their credo of preserving the 'disappearing beauty of the tangible' really does hit a soft and tender spot in this print-loving designer's heart.

I recently made the most adorable 5.5-inch square book about my trip to Slovenia (read about it here). I guess it wasn't just me who thought it was adorable. My 17-year-old girl thought so, too.

Aidan designed two 5.5-inch books. One, a book of selifes; the other, a book of photos of the children she nannys for during the summer.

While that book has already been given as a gift to said children, Aidan let me share her selfie book here.


Selfie. It's just such a right now kind of word. 

Back in my day, we didn't call them selfies, you know? I think we just called them self-portraits. I know, boring!

I like to think I was a bit ahead of my time with this little number from 1986.


Still, selfies are such a part of youth culture. 

I was joking the other day and told Aidan I was going to launch a tumblr called "Middle Aged Selfies". I think there's an audience out there, don't you?


Do you have a teen with a ton of photos in need of a home? If so, consider making one of these little books

Aidan has informed me she is going to make books all year long to document her senior year.

I say, "Go for it, girl." You won't regret making these books. Not one little bit.


September 03, 2013



The first day of school is here. And this one? She's a senior now.

Holy Mother of Pearl. Really? 

I made her watch this clip last night:


She said that every time someone mentions they're seniors, she's gonna reply with that classic Rizzo line. 

Sigh. That girl is my heart.


She's gonna rule the school.


Oh, and let's not forget my 8th grader. 


It ain't no empty nest just yet.

Happy first day of school.


July 30, 2013




Happy birthday, Coleman Asher Zielske. You are one of a kind, bro.

I hope you don't mind I posted this old photo of you. No one would connect it if they saw you walking down the street.

Remember: everybody has their own spirit.

Love, Mama.

July 01, 2013

Digital Scrapbook Page: For the Love of the Game


I love the look of screened back image areas + text. While it has been a bit overdone in the print design world, it's still a fun technique to play with, especially in digital scrapbooking. So I essentially lifted this design and started to build a page to see if I could make it work.

There is so much design inspiration in any magazine you can page through—from National Geographic to Sports Illustrated to Real Simple—there are so many creative and inspiring page layouts that scrapbookers can adapt to their craft.

I found some recent baseball shots to drop in, and figured I'd just write about the season thus far but instead, I recalled a recent conversation I'd had with Cole about his feelings for baseball in general. The journaling turned into something a bit more meaningful and bittersweet than I'd expected.

I'm not trying to be sentimental for the sake of it. Every phase of life is turning out to be an entirely new landscape that seems to require quick, on-your-feet thinking in order to survive and possibly thrive. That clock is ticking, but it's a whole different clock now. Like realizing your teen ager is connecting to real life and that his future as a pro ball player may be part of a childhood he's steadily moving away from. As I said, it's bittersweet.

Here's the layout.


JOURNALING READS: We weren't 100 percent sure he was into the game this year. The reason we weren’t? He more or less said, “I’m not loving it this year.” Part of his rational was making the connection that it was possible he wasn’t going to have a career as a major league ball player. I realize this sounds a bit defeatist. I mean, how can you know at 13 that one career option is completely off the table? Maybe it’s a sign of a loss of innocence; that total invincibility and limitless thinking of childhood begins to make a notable shift at some point. Who among us can’t relate to thinking, “Hmmm… maybe I’m not destined to be a [blank]?” And yet, he’s made some real changes to his game. He’s bigger, stronger and playing both first base and catcher with skill and of course, style. That, and he’s finding a groove here in late June, enjoying the games again and having some fun. Don’t give up on dreams just yet, Cole. You never know what the future holds. None of us do. Just enjoy the ride as you go. 

Enjoy the ride, Coley. Indeed.

To learn about working with transparency and text boxes, watch this video.

To puchase this template, click here.



The Phone Photography Project Workshop kicks off today at Big Picture Classes. 31 days of iPhone and Android photography challenges, app reviews, project ideas and more. Check out what some of the students are already posting on Instagram by using the following hashtag: #bpcphonephotography or #bpcphonephotographyproject. To learn more, click here.

May 21, 2013

Digital Layout: Aidan at Prom


My baby girl went to the prom just over a week ago. Sigh. Talk about making you feel like life is flying by. (And for the record, it actually is flying by.) Why, just last week, she looked like this:


While it was very well documented in my Project Life album, I decided it was time to add another page to the All About Aidan album. Initially, I'd planned to build an entire page around one of the cards in my Hello Girlie J-Card Set. I was going to print out the card onto white cardstock and build from there.

Then I started playing around with the whole idea digitally. Then I figured, "Oh, what the heck! Let's make a digital page."

Here is the final result:


Here's my thing with digital pages: I want them to look like they would if I were printing it all out, cutting and pasting everything together. Digital, hybrid or traditional, I have a very simple style. I try to layer stuff in. I try to think of more products I could use. But I always end up opting for the simplest approach and it usually makes me pretty happy.

This layout features a J-Card, some digital paper, a template and a font called Thirsty Script, which I discovered via Jessica Sprague on Instagram. The J-Card set was created using the font, but I added the monogram and the little label text to the template. It's the first font I've shelled out the coin for in a while. I just think it's charming and versatile. (Note, this template is designed with a free font, Lobster, which has a similar vintage script feel, and will be the store next weekend.)

Digital, or hybrid, or traditional… in the end, it's just about saving the stories that matter to us so we can remember. 

Because life really is flying by.

Note: I've long been a fan of Totally Rad Actions and Rad Lab, but I've recently started using Pro Retouch on photos (like the main one of Aidan above) that I want to smooth out a bit. Click on this image below to learn more about Pro Retouch.


I know so many of us are sending our thoughts and prayers out to Moore, Oklahoma today. To donate via the Red Cross, click here. Or, you can text a donation to 90999. Text REDCROSS to receive a confirmation message and donate $10.