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112 posts categorized "random blathering"

December 31, 2013

Best of 2013 as decided by a panel of me

The year is all but gone so here is a slightly subjective compendium of my favorite posts from 2013.

I just wanted to thank you, the blog readers, for coming here and reading, commenting and commiserating, and just making this a pretty safe place for me to share bits and pieces of my life.

Though I'm usually loathe to say, "STAY TUNED FOR BIG THINGS!" I should tell you that there are a lot of changes coming down the pike for 2014. I'm working with a pretty awesome company right now who are going to help me retool this online place in the coming months and make it more of what I think it can and should be. I've got a lot of work ahead of me and I hope the changes will be something that resonates with readers like you.

All I can say is stay tuned. 

Here's to a healthy, happy and authentic 2014.


CZsig copy

Enjoy, and I'll see you next year.


FAVORITE FREE DOWNLOADclick here to read.



FAVORITE THING I SAW ONLINE ALL YEARclick here to watch. I think it's the most brilliant piece of advertising of all time. Steve Jobs would be proud. I weep like a fussy baby every single time.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 9.14.23 AM


FAVORITE SCRAPBOOK PAGE(S) OF 2013When I Think of You. I guess I can't forget the one I did for Cole, now can I?



FAVORITE POST ABOUT MARRIAGE22 years and counting. A list of sorts. 



FAVORITE POST ABOUT CHUBClick here to read. I don't a-think you look like-a you think






FAVORITE POST ABOUT FURNITUREclick here to read. This proves you can truly find a story in anything, and sometimes they go deeper than you think.



FAVORITE PROJECT LIFE SPREADclick here to see. It's just so teal-ish. And orange. And white.








December 03, 2013

Tips for Ruining Christmas by Mark Spearman

Today I'm thrilled to introduce you to my guest writer Mark Spearman. Some of you may know Mark from his fine work on The Pioneer Woman. I know Mark because he's married to one of my friends who also happens to be my former boss from the early 1990s. Kira (Mark's wife and said former boss) is the person I most often credit with launching my career as a designer when she said to me, then a lowly assistant editor for a corporate trade magazine: "You wanna take over the design stuff?" Where was I? Oh yeah, MARK. Although I have spent very little time with him in person (cumulatively, I'd guess about 3 hours), the time I have spent getting to know him online has been pretty awesome. In short, he is the funniest person I know. And one of the smartest. He knows every line of dialogue to Silence of the Lambs, and honestly? That alone makes him completely awesome. He also recently met William Shatner and was photographed pointing at Shatner's head. He has a storied tradition of writing about Those Who Ruin Christmas. I asked him to share his best tips with my blog readers, in the spirit of the holiday season. Take it away, Mark.


I've been asked to speak with you about The Holidays.

Now I realize you normally come here for tips on successfully pairing patterned paper stock or to document your gratitude and whatnot or maybe to get the skinny on those Fitbit wristbands. We're not here to talk about those things.

But perhaps you knew that. YES. I'm talking to YOU. The person who Ruins Christmas For Everyone.

You know who you are.

You're the one who pouts until Lincoln's Birthday because the lululemon yoga pants your sister gave you in the family gift exchange are “Flair” instead of “Skinny.” So to get even you put way, WAY too much Worcestershire in the crappy cheese ball you take to her house. Then out of sheer animus you steal chocolate. From your own child's Advent calendar.

You think no one's watching? To paraphrase Fox Mulder, Someone's Always Watching.

I see. You've never been accused of Ruining Christmas for Anyone. They all say that. That fact alone establishes an 87% likelihood that you are, in fact, the person who Ruins Christmas For Everyone.

Wake up and smell the coffee. Not the pricey Jamaican Blue Mountain you buy for yourself. The cheap supermarket house brand you gift your in-laws.

At this point you're thinking I'm Marley to your Scrooge and we're going to meet three ghosts who'll make you sit through a boatload of tedious flashbacks and premonitions. Relax. I'm here to help you.

If you're going to Ruin Christmas for Everyone, at least do it well. Show a little pride in your work. This is America, and like it or not, we are a Beacon of Christmas Ruiners for the World. Represent!

So I've taken it upon myself to bring some much-needed discipline to this process. Hence, the following five tips may serve as an aid in your tireless efforts to Ruin Christmas for Everyone.

1. When dropping hints about gifts you'd like, provide very specific but completely bogus inventory SKU numbers. (e.g. “Honey, I'd like the Target Women's Footie Pajama in Monkey Stripe Tartan Plaid, SKU # 147599313.”) Not only will this confound the gift-giver, but on Christmas morning, you can exclaim “For God's Sake I even gave you the inventory SKU numbers!”

2. At holiday dinners, make loud accusations regarding known allergens intentionally added to your food (e.g. "You KNOW that I am severely allergic to ALL domestically manufactured marshmallow-based products!”)

3. Let it be known that you are furious that you are forced to host the big family holiday gathering/were not asked to host the big family holiday gathering.

4. Fill your family's entire DVR hard-drive with hackneyed and painful holiday-themed TV movies. I recommend The Christmas Consultant starring David Hasselhoff. (Fun Fact: This excruciating Hallmark movie was a runaway hit in Hasselhoff-obsessed Germany as Christmas Planner: Was für eine Bescherung!) Fans of stop-action animation should watch for Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. Or, you can just play the odds and tell Tivo to alert you <all programs> + “Christmas” + “Denise Richards” + “Yasmine Bleeth” + “Alan Thicke” +  “Talking Donkey” + “David Hasselhoff” + “Germany.”

5. Enlist accomplices. Christmas Ruiners can easily detect others of their ilk. Deploy yourselves at the big neighborhood holiday do and stalk the hostess like velociraptors in a coordinated assault. You make a cutting remark about her cowl-neck caribou-pattern sweater. She stares right back at you. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two Christmas Ruiners she didn't even know were there.

So chop chop, people. Only a few precious days remain.

What, you think Christmas is going to Ruin Itself?


Follow Mark on Twitter and look for his entertainment columns on The Pioneer Woman.


October 24, 2013

The Present Participle List for October


Savoring the chilly days of late October.

Finishing up a new class that's been fun and challenging.

Learning how to use my Silhouette.

Trying to make better choices for food and health.

Missing the mark, frequently.

Hesitating on upgrading my Mac to the new OS X Mavericks.

Ingesting Evening of Primrose Oil to help combat hot flashes.

Meeting with Joe, my physical therapist, twice weekly, to get my dang toe moving.

Feeling pain in all sorts of other places, on account of my weird gait caused by the toe.

Thinking, "Man, you sound like such a middle-aged whiner!"

Watching American Horror Story: Coven.

Listening to The Current's live stream most mornings.

Loving my new office desk.

Working to think less about me and more about everyone else.

Anticipating how fun it will be to wear my bee costume next week.

Wishing there was more time in each day.


What's your latest 'ing'? 


September 19, 2013

What I wanted to say


Last Saturday, I had a moment.

It wasn't a great moment. It was a sit-in-your-bed-and-cry-because-you're-feeling-really-sorry-for-yourself kind of moment.

I've gone to the doctor's office twice, to the drive-thru bank and to the nail polish store. Four trips in five weeks. That's it.

I was starting to feel a) a little stir crazy, and b) frustrated by what I am still not able to do because of this foot issue.

So I wrote out this long post. It was reaaaaallly whiny but framed in such a way that made it seem like I was being an adult and responsible for all of my feelings. I was so not being responsible.

It even included talking about myself in the third person.

And I think most of us can agree, that is never a good sign.

Then on Sunday, I read a book. Tuesdays with Morrie. I'd never read it before. I always thought it was sort of an ABC Afterschool Special kind of story. I read it because Aidan had read it the day before on a recommendation from one of her teachers and she said it really touched her.

And yep, it touched me too. More importantly, it snapped me out of acting like a big baby and realizing that if my foot never improved one iota, and this was how it was going to be for the rest of my days, at least I had days.

I had days.

So this morning, when I went to the garage to see if today was the day I might drive around the block, just to test out my sea legs, so to speak, and found the car battery was as dead as dead could be. Well, I just smiled.

Sure, I said, "Mother f#@$er!" first. But then took a deep breath.

I have days.



The Designer Digitals 3rd Quarter sale begins today. Save 30% storewide. I have lots of new digital goodies in the store, including stuff for Halloween. In my book, it's never too early for Halloween.


August 05, 2013

Serenity Now!


I'm just rounding the corner on the computer upgrade process. My new machine is a shiny iMac. I hope I'm not being overly presumptuous here, but I think it's going to be a good fit. Hopefully, 32 gigs of RAM will see to this.

But as you well know, there are always glitches and I have been reminding myself to breathe. And call tech support.

Almost there.

So here's a question for you: technology upgrades and changes… do you love them, loathe them, avoid them or see them as a necessary but oh so painful?

I'll be on hold with Apple. Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves…



June 25, 2013

Roughing it


Editor's Note: Rip-roaring storms tore through the Twin Cities last Saturday night, taking out power to half a million good Minnesotan folk, myself included. I wrote this while passing the time away in my neighborhood coffee shop with power, but no internet. In other words, I wrote this while roughing it.

It's amazing how much I rely on modern technology and how often I take it for granted. 

I'm writing this in Hour 13 of no power. It went out at 8:30 last night and I found myself waking every few hours to see if the ceiling fan in my room had finally started humming along. No such luck. 

In the almost 20 years that I've lived in this house, the longest the power has ever been out was right around 16 hours. Once. Last year. We're closing in on a record here. 

Most of the time, it's off for an annoying three or four hours, but not usually long enough to warrant a trip to my local coffee shop for hot coffee and working outlets. 

Which is where I am right now and wouldn't you know it? They have working lights and hot coffee, but the wifi is on the fritz. So now what?

I should add that Dan and the kids are away for a few days, dropping Aidan off at a conference in Chicago where she will remain for two weeks. So to add insult to injury, I'm dealing with this situation all by myself. (Imagine that!) But with how plugged in kids are, maybe it's a blessing in disguise. 

There's no judgment in that last sentence. I am as plugged in as anyone. The computer is as ubiquitous to my day as air. When I look at it factually, there are so many positives, really. I make my living with it. It has allowed me to earn an income and also be able to see my kids off every morning and greet them (or more likely pick them up in my car from school) every day. That fact alone makes it hard for me to ever condemn my plugged-in life. That alone makes me deeply grateful for what technology has allowed me to do.

I have made some of the truest friends I have ever known thanks to online message boards. I'm talking hide-a-body type of friends. 

I have seen things online that have rocked my soul to its core. Things that have inspired me to ridiculous heights. Things that have made me laugh until I could not breathe. 

So as I sit here at The Coffee Grounds, waiting for my iPhone to charge in full, I realize just how thankful I am to live in this plugged in world. I could be deluded but mostly I see how it has enhanced my life and for that I'm grateful. 

I also can't remember the last time I sat down to write anything while not plugged in with images at the ready, while staring at a blank blog editor screen. 

I guess roughing it with an iPad at 50% power is not so bad after all. 



Being without power for 24 hours is nothing. I know this, but I cannot help but think of what disaster victims must go through. And by 'cannot help but think,' I really mean I cannot truly imagine. In this spirit, people are still putting their lives back together in so many places in our country, and in the world at large, and today, if you have the means and the motivation, I encourage you to make a donation to help. I also encourage you to share any relief links in your comments today. We can all spread the gratitude around, together.

The American Red Cross

May 22, 2013

Honoring the sadness

For those of us documenting daily life, the question can arise on how to cover tragedy on our pages and in our albums. I know this was something I looked at with a heavy heart during the Newtown tragedy. Again, for the Boston Marathon bombings. And now for Oklahoma.

If there's one thing I am connecting to lately, it's that life is completely unpredictable. There is joy. And there is sadness. It's all part of what we signed on for, whether we like it or not.

We can withdraw from it. We can outraged by it. We can quickly brush by it on our way back to normal. Or we can observe it—head on—and let it in, and let it change us. Let it change how we live and breathe.

I was driving by my neighborhood elementary school yesterday, saw the kids out on the playground and was overcome with grief. I've never been much good at blocking stuff out—stuff like bombings, and shootings, and destructive acts of nature—but only recently have I begun to really embrace sadness and let it in, and let it begin to change me.

Let it become a part of me.

Yes, that's therapy talking. I've paid a lot of money to learn about all the ways I've tried to block and control any pain of any kind in my life. 

I've paid some immense prices for trying to acquire a type of control that doesn't even exist.


Life will always remind us who is in charge. Some of us pray and some of us hope—but we are often reminded that the unexpected is part of, well, life.

As I continued past the school yesterday, I was thinking of the lyric from a song that I always recall during any time of sadness, The Night I Heard Caruso Sing by Everything But The Girl. 

…it's time to hold your loved ones, while the chains are loose, and the world runs wild.

I created a card for my Project Life album. I guess I wanted some way to remember this feeling of how miraculous this whole thing is—this life I live—while also honoring the sadness.


Download CZ_QuoteCard

File is in PDF, PNG and layered PSD. 

Thanks for reading today.



May 08, 2013

It's not G-rated. It is, however, free. And who doesn't like free?


The Designer Digitals Quarterly Sale kicks off tomorrow and runs through May 15th. As I was working on some new products for the store, I was typing remember this but transposed the letters in this, resulting in the image you see above.

It just made me smile.

As a committed and passionate keeper of memories, this is exactly what I set out to do every time I scrapbook.

Remember sh#t.

I don't swear much on this blog. Sure, a few words will seep in from time to time (see previous paragraph). If I were being truly authentic, I would swear a great deal more. It's just part of how I choose to talk in my personal life. I have zero issues with swears as long as they aren't used to denigrate or hurt people. I do not believe I denigrate myself by using them, either. Maybe it's because I grew up in a house where for a long time, I thought "Jesus Christ" was my part of my full name. Maybe it's because I hung out with kids who talked that way. Whatever the case, it's a choice I made and continue to make for myself.

And sometimes, swearing is funny. In fact, every time my husband swears, hilarity ensues.

But I digress…

I shared this image on my Facebook page, and many of you said, "I'd buy that!" 

But to kick off the quarterly sale, the least I can do is give you the PNG for free.

So please, by all means, enjoy.

Download CZ_remembersh

Note: PNGs can be used in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and even placed into Word. To learn more about working with PNG files, I have a host of videos you can look through to learn more.


May 07, 2013

The change is upon me


Spring arrived last week and things are finally starting to come alive again in St. Paul.

I am not complaining. I am a fan of chilly nights, soul-warming soups and big, puffy slippers.

I actually live in dread of the heat.

Maybe it's not so much of a dread. Weather is part of life. Temperatures rise, temperatures fall. I understand this.

But my own internal thermostat is so wacked out these days that I do not look to the forthcoming hazy days of summer with glee and anticipation.

Instead, I'm desperately trying to figure out how to replace the crank out windows in my sauna office so I can purchase a small window unit this year to provide a bit of respite from the notoriously nasty days of Minnesota summer. 

My office gets hot first. Southern exposed windows. Zero cross breezes. Computer equipment buzzing. Sure, it's great in the winter. It probably even saves on our heating bill overall. But even on a glorious spring day, 75 outside can quickly mean 85 inside. 85 leads to 90 and 90 leads to a fussy, sweaty designer in perimenopause.

True, we have central air, but in a house built in 1918, let's just say the circulation to the upper floor is less than optimal. It doesn't work at all in the office.

But maybe it's not just the change of life that is to blame.

Maybe it's the dyed-in-the-wool Washingtonian in me. I was bred for the damp and the cool. I was designed for that Pacific Northwest climate. I was supposed to love smoked salmon, Starbucks and Nirvana, things that undeniably go better with 55 or fewer degrees.


When I started this blog, originally in 2005, I never envisioned that one day I'd be trying to figure out what to write about that didn't involve weather, hot flashes, therapy and weight loss.

I remember just writing about aliens and Johnny Depp or whatever else tickled my fancy.

When no one reads you, there's definitely a sense of freedom.

It's different now. I have readers. I have sponsors. I need to keep the content a comin'.

Maybe it's that change of season, change of life thing at work. When things are physically in flux, adjustments are needed. Figuring out the best response takes thought and energy.

I just wanted to let you know that if I'm not posting a ton right now, save for my Project Life stuff, it's not for lack of trying.

It's for lack of knowing what it is that I really want to say.

Sometimes, working on getting your ducks in a row doesn't always translate to the best blogging.

Or, maybe it translates to the best blogging ever.

I'll keep you posted on what I find out.



March 12, 2013

When the zombie apocalypse arrives, I know who I'm following

I'm a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead. For three seasons now, me, Cole and Aidan (Dan has yet to come around on Zombie-themed television) have been glued to the challenges and tragedies of Sheriff Rick & Co. It's bleak. It's heart wrenching. It's gory. 

And it also contains total hotness in the form of one dirty hillbilly who goes by the name of Daryl Dixon.

I'll be honest: it really wasn't until Season 3 when it hit me just how hot Daryl was. Me and a whole gaggle of adult women who tune in every week. 

In short, if the zombies come a-knockin', he's your man, ladies.

While looking for images of Daryl yesterday (yes, I spend my time very wisely) I came across several memes and thought: what would happen if Daryl Dixon met up with scrapbooking?

With that in mind, I present my results.




Feel free to share. I'm sure they'll take off in the crafting community. No, really. I feel it.