I had an idea late last August. One that I really wanted to tell other parents about.
But I also really wanted it to be a surprise for my senior girl, who at that time had roughly 39 weeks of actual senior year school to complete before I could give it to her.
The idea was simple. Each week, write a short note to her and find one photo from that week to pair with the message.
A photo. A message. From a mama to her girl.
I set a calendar reminder every Monday morning at 11 a.m. As soon as the alarm popped up on my desktop, it was time to stop, drop and write. Then I snagged a photo from the week at hand and dropped it into my template.
With a set limit on how much I could write, it was both extremely do-able but also challenging. I find I have a lot to say to this young woman. I chose my words carefully.
Nearly all of the book's images were taken with my iPhone.
Using a basic template, each week I would open the previous week's file, do a File > Save As… and rename the file for the week at hand. This created a lovely (and numerically ordered) set of PSD files.
Once the school year was over I spent time proofreading each file, then saved each one as a JPEG.
Next I created a simple cover design, saved it as a JPEG and uploaded it first to create the cover.
Then I uploaded all the weekly files to Artifact Uprising, in order, to create the guts of the book.
I created a final closing page using images that appear in the album.
I gave this book to her last Saturday. As of today, I'm not sure if she's read it yet. She told me she wasn't ready.
That's cool with me. I'm not ready to read it again right now either. Not just yet.
I think this would be a really great project for any mama or daddy who has a senior starting that last, final hoorah in the Fall. Heck, you could do it for any school-aged child. The titles are all editable and use free fonts so you can make them say anything you like. I wanted to share this album today so those of you who do could start thinking about it before September rolls around. Whether you use my design or create one of your own, this is a very do-able and potentially meaningful memory project.
And yes, if I make a little money off this project, you can rest assured it will all be going to the University of Wisconsin–Madison come September.
THE GIVEAWAY: Two people will win a spot in the summer's most phone-a-rific workshop, the Phone Photography Project.
ABOUT THE CLASS: Would you like to take better photos with the camera you always have with you—your smartphone? Get ready to transform your mobile photography in a brand-new interactive workshop, The Phone Photography Project 2, starting July 17. Twenty expert iPhoneographers have collected their best tips, tricks, and tutorials for phone photography, and they're ready to share it all with you inside a private online classroom—with lots of fun happening on Instagram, too. With practical tips for mastering lighting, composition, editing, and more, this workshop will give you the tools you need to create impressive photos you'll be proud to share online, in your home, or in your scrapbooks.
TO ENTER: Leave me a comment today and tell me what your favorite phone photography related app is. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday night.
Class begins on July 17. For more information, or if you don't win this giveaway and really want to take the class, click here.
This giveaway is now closed. Check back to see if you're a winner!
Just like that, graduation season is over.
We had our party over the weekend and despite bouts of torrential rain, thunder and lightning, it was probably my favorite party to date.
Dan worked his tushka off to get the yard looking delightful and the garage people-ready. I am so grateful for my partner in crime. All you single parents who pull these things off, you have my crazy admiration.
I took only 10 photos and most of them are duplicates of the one you see above. I just wanted to enjoy the people who came to celebrate Aidan.
I had her scrapbooks out. I had her photo boards mounted on a series of old doors (Dan's awesome idea).
We borrowed tables from his brother's church. We cobbled together as many different chairs as we could get our hands on. We hired Minnesota-based Famous Dave's to provide the main course (best decision I could have made, saving a lot of time and stress, if not money.) We had breaks in the weather so people could be outside.
It was a really lovely day. It was my kind of Zielske Pinterest party.
Oh, and I started drinking at 2 p.m. But of course, in moderation.
Nothing like an early glass of wine to remind you the day is going to be awesome.
I have more thoughts on this girl and a cool project to show you later in the week, but for now I leave you with the slide show we ran every 45 minutes or so for the revolving crowd. I made it in iPhoto, recorded it using ScreenFlow and posted it to Vimeo. I don't have the rights to use the song, so it may get pulled down at some point, but it's Conor Oberst's newest, "You are your mother's child." If you know Bright Eyes, it's the same guy. And while the perspective and gender references in the song are a bit off, the sentiment? It'll hit you right in the feels.
Thank you for following along on this remarkable young woman's life. It's been my extreme privilege to share her story with you.
The winner of a complimentary seat into Pocket Pop: Adobe Illustrator Basics for the Pocket Scrapper with Danielle Young is:
Jennifer congrats! Email me to claim your seat in class.
As a side note, I am finally starting to work in Illustrator on a more regular basis and it was taking a few online classes that finally got me more comfortable with it.
THE GIVEAWAY: One blog reader will win a complimentary seat into Pocket Pop: Adobe Illustrator Basics for the Pocket Scrapper with Scrapaneer instructor Danielle Young. Danielle will walk you through the Adobe Illustrator interface at your own pace while you build six, colorful and coordinated Pocket-Style Journal Cards. This class is perfect for you if you want to build more dynamic and original pocket-style cards for yourself or others.
ABOUT SCRAPANEERS: Scrapaneers provides original and inspiring classes for digital scrapbookers tailored to your digi-crafting skill level. Featuring fun, easy-to-print projects via professional video lessons in interactive classrooms, they offer everything you’ll need to digital scrapbook like a pro!
I love how people in blog land make intentional summer plans.
I was thinking about this the other day when my own ideas for a summer manifesto…well, manifested themselves.
Yes, college tuition is on my mind. For a daughter. For a husband.
As is breathing.
It's so weird to wake up a 3:30 a.m. and think about money. Or is that just middle age?
Whatever the case, I thought I'd share my little card with you. Of course, you can write whatever you like on yours.
The package includes a printable PDF and one JPEG in the color shown above.
Here's to summer.
And finding rich, lost uncles.
In many parts of the country, you serve casseroles.
In Minnesota, we serve hot dish.
Many times, hot dish isn't exactly the healthiest of foods. Lots of canned soups. Lots of crunchy potato chip toppings. Cup after cup of cheese.
Not that I have anything against cheese.
In my quest to eat healthier, I recently picked up the Nutritional Weight and Wellness cookbook and am working my way through it. Some recipes I did not like at all (Wild Rice Meatballs, super ew!) But I came across this recipe and have been smitten ever since. Granted, I substitute a rotisserie chicken for the turkey (highly recommend), and it is the perfect weekday lunch.
I make a big batch on Monday morning, put it into five containers, eat one and store the rest for Tuesday through Friday.
I never post pictures of it after it's cooked. It's not exactly pretty. It's not like a traditional casserole in that there are no binders (eggs, cheese, soup, etc.) But I think it's super delicious and apparently, it's a completely balanced meal from a protein, carb and fat standpoint.
Plus, it's low in actual calories, for those people who care about that sort of thing.
What are your favorite hot dishes? I know it's summer and all, but what the hell, let's crank that AC and cook what we want to.
She did it. She finished high school. One chapter has come to a glorious end.
For six years, she's been at a very small Montessori 1-12 school. There were only 37 graduating seniors. Because of this small number, each senior was able to give a short speech on graduation night. Of course, because of the letter Z, my girl was the final speaker.
Apparently she'd written and rehearsed her speech but after seeing each of her friends get up, she decided to more or less start from scratch. She was scribbling furiously and by the time she got up to talk, she had a new speech altogether.
It was at times supremely eloquent and emotionally vulnerable. I think Dan was a lot more misty-eyed than I was, but I had spent a good chunk of that morning crying, so it all balanced out.
It was so cool to see my sometimes stoic and mature daughter give in to the emotion of the night.
It was just so cool.
I made a simple page with a few photos. Yes, it's the exact same design I used for my recent Great Outdoors page. I just combined the title areas into one big photo.
(click on image to see a larger version)
Next up, the graduation party. I'm sure my house will be clean and if we run out of food, there will be plenty of alcohol for the adults, so maybe no one will notice.
And then summer.
And then she's off to Madison, Wis. in the fall. (What? I thought she was going to school in Illinois!) We did too, but the University of Wisconsin came calling and she really wants to go.
I say great. That school? It's only four hours away.
I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!
And I was right. More or less.
First things first: the thing works great. Is it the most accurate of step counters out there? Having only used a FitBit, I can't speak to the others—and there are many—but it really does seem to track well. You can walk around and track live steps on your phone and you'll be all, "Wow. It really IS working."
Second things second: it's adorable. I will be the first to admit: I'm a sucker for great design. From the product itself to the supporting app and web interfaces, FitBit offers a completely pleasing aesthetic. You could say not only do I like the gadget but I like the experience of it as well.
Third things third: It does more than track steps. With the app, you can track your food, your water intake, your sleep and your weight loss. Plus, it will sync to your phone and you can access your stats online as well. You can invite friends and use that competitve spark to get you moving as well. (I have digitally removed my friends to protect their identities and also for the fact that save for one, I am presently KICKING THEIR ASSES.)
Fourth things fourth: will it help you lose weight? Possibly. I say that because I've been using my Fitbit Flex since October and I've dropped exactly zero pounds. But there are about a zillion other factors involved in that story. (Okay, actually one. I'm eating like a petulant child, but that's for another post.)
I do believe it will motivate you to move. It makes me aware of how much or how little I'm moving. In a year following foot surgery wherein my big toe still feels like the bones no longer understand how they are supposed to work, moving is really important for me to keep things loose.
Also, let's face it: I work a desk job for all intents and purposes. When I'm lost in work and chugging along, I don't always think to get up and take breaks. Knowing that I'm tracking helps to keep me aware.
One thing I do is set my daily step goal pretty low every day, just 7,500 steps. Why? Because I like to have a little early victory as often as I can. When you hit your goal, your FitBit starts vibrating and it does a little light show. Every time this happens, for just a split second, I'm all, "WTF? OHHHHH.... it's my FitBit."
Still, it gets me out and going. It's more motivating now that it's finally summer here in the Upper Midwest. There's a small lake by my house and I have a nice 3-mile route that I take. I used to be more concerned about my distance, but now it's all just about the steps, baby.
Fifth things fifth: This company stands behind their product. My first Fitbit went wonky within a few months and they replaced it, no questions asked. They have a huge community and if you're having any issues, there's a wealth of information available.
So that's my Fitbit love story. I've loved this product for a long time. I love to share things that are working for me on some level and while I'm more kaftan-ready than swimsuit-ready, baby, at least I'm moving.
To learn more about Fitbit, click here.
I'm proud to be an affiliate for Fitbit, which means I earn a very small commission off the links posted above. I only join affiliate programs whose products I use and love and this one fits that bill. Get it? It FITS the bill. Thank you. I'll be here all week.