Spring Break Guest | Cathy Zielske


While on vacation this week we've invited a few of our friends to share their favorite layout of all time  +  why it is so special to them.

Say hello to Cathy Zielske.

I didn’t have to think too long and hard to come up with my favorite layout of all time.

I’ve been scrapbooking since 2001 and there’ve been many a page that I leave out on my dining room table (a.k.a. my scrap room), walk by and go, “Yep. That one. I am kind of awesome.”

Maybe cocky statements seem out of place in this hobby, but I’d argue they’re a really good sign that you’re doing it right. And what is right? Simple. It’s doing it in a way that makes you happy.


The page I’m sharing today always comes to mind when I think of a layout that hits all the points necessary to bring me complete joy in the memory-keeping process.

The crazy part is that I had absolutely nothing to do with writing the story. For a girl who prides herself on telling the true, authentic story in her one and only writer’s voice, it had to be pretty high up on the list of everything else to claim the coveted top spot in my pantheon of pages.

Be still my memory-saving heart.

Let’s consider the top photo on the layout as Exhibit A, featuring a 31-year-old, first-time, ecstatic-to-have-procreated father with his 6-month old, ridiculously adorable and pretty-new-to-planet-Earth daughter. To me the photo says: unbridled joy.

Now for Exhibit B, the lower photo taken 14 years after the first one, featuring a 45-year-old much more experienced, tender-hearted father of two and a 14-year-old decidedly not-angst-y yet soulful teenager whose world was expanding every day. To me the photo says: unbreakable bond.

Ah, photos. They can hit you right in the stomach and evoke joy, gratitude and the sweetest kind of heart-tugging bittersweet pain.

Add to that a father who has a warm, personal message to share with his daughter and you have what is perhaps the best part of this hobby of ours: real stories.

JOURNALING READS | Here we are in 1996—big grins, big dreams, big life ahead of us. I have always cherished our exclusive time together. From laying in your bed until you fell asleep, to going for our runs with you in the baby jogger and later with you on bicycle, to walking down to the Chelsea Heights playground where you would discover a new best friend, you bring joy to every occasion. I recall once when you were about three, seeing a girl of about 13 walking by herself near Summit Ave. I never saw her face, but just the way she carried herself with her singular style and her confident gait made me jump 10 years to imagining that she was you. Here we are in 2010. Collectively our hair is about the same. Your gaze in this photo says so much about who you have become, who you have always been. Your assured demeanor,  your inner confidence, your poring, pensive nature are all on display here. I have spent much of my adult life trying to hold onto what it is like to be a kid in the midst of grown-up responsibilities. It’s exhilarating and scary to think of how much I still need to be a parent, but also how much, at the same time, it begins to be time to get out of the way.

Journaled by Daddy, February 2010


This is what I want my memory keeping to be.

I don’t care about the trends that come and go. I don’t care that I don’t have a shit load of product on every page. I don’t care if I use the same fonts and the same designs over and over again.

I just want to feel something when I look back on this document of life.

I want to remember a tender moment.

I want to bear witness to an unbreakable bond.

I want to see our true lives in all their wondrous, messy and imperfect glories.

I want to see perspectives other than my own reflected on the pages of my albums.

This is my favorite layout and every time I see it all I can say to myself is, “Yep. That one. They are kind of awesome.”

LAYOUT SUPPLIES |  Layered Template No. 47, Olan Solids Paper Pack, Just Linens No. 1 Paper Pack, Photoshop Elements, Archer Font.

Cathy Zielske is a graphic designer who loves her family, typography, clean and simple design, french fries and Silence of the Lambs. Her motto: own your life, document it well and preserve reality. Her mission: take the ‘crap out of scrapbooking. To that end, she offers digital products, online workshops, and writes about crap-free approaches to memory keeping on her blog.  

CONNECT WITH CATHY ONLINE | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Designer Digitals

25 thoughts

  1. Elizabeth

    2014-03-24 07:13:51 -0400

    Totally awesome, Cathy.

  2. heidig

    2014-03-24 08:14:52 -0400

    Ahhhhhh, beautiful! And Dan is 31 in the top photo? Lord, he looks 13!

  3. laura g.

    2014-03-24 08:15:13 -0400

    love this layout and love your style of scrappin'! and I agree...I don't need a shitload of products to make a page...too much stuff detracts from the photo...and the story with it!!! when I look at a page with too much 'crap' on it..i am searching for the photo(s) and the story...scrap on!!

  4. Michelle t.

    2014-03-24 08:59:22 -0400

    Very beautiful. Something here strikes a chord. Thanks. Michelle t

  5. jen kinkade

    2014-03-24 09:02:51 -0400

    "I just want to feel something when I look back on this document of life."--perfectly said, no matter how we choose to document life. I can't imagine how precious this is to you, as it tugged at my own heart strings just looking at it and reading the journaling.
    thank you for sharing.

  6. Lida

    2014-03-24 09:16:57 -0400

    I love this layout especially the story!

  7. Karina K

    2014-03-24 10:09:17 -0400

    Love the layout!!!

  8. Sara

    2014-03-24 10:17:17 -0400

    I love this, Cathy. You shared a layout titled "Blink" at CKU Minneapolis. It brought tears to my eyes then and was one of my favorite layouts. Now I read this and wow, so precious to have Dan's journaling too. I need to get my husband to do this.
    Blink is such a perfect title because it all really does pass by in th blink of an eye.

  9. Debbie Clark

    2014-03-24 10:52:41 -0400

    Absolutely beautiful!!!

  10. Jennifer

    2014-03-24 11:21:58 -0400

    "I don’t care about the trends that come and go. I don’t care that I don’t have a shit load of product on every page. I don’t care if I use the same fonts and the same designs over and over again."


  11. Amy

    2014-03-24 12:23:47 -0400

    Amazing and inspirational layout!

  12. Jenni Hufford

    2014-03-24 12:44:50 -0400

    this is fabulous. thank you!!!

  13. Francine

    2014-03-24 14:42:04 -0400

    Amazing. And everything you said about scrapbooking is so true.

  14. Cara S

    2014-03-24 16:02:30 -0400

    Yep, that one. Fantastic.

  15. Kristin A.

    2014-03-24 17:46:27 -0400

    Oh, wow, Cathy thank you for sharing! The page is fantastic, but what you say at the end really speaks to me. What you want memory keeping to be...it's what I want, too! Thank you.

  16. Teri H.

    2014-03-24 18:33:51 -0400

    Beautifully said, Cathy!

  17. Yolanda

    2014-03-24 19:45:38 -0400

    Is it okay that I kind of developed a little crush on Dan reading his words to his daughter? It was painfully beautiful.

    I love this layout. I have *never* thought of using my husband's voice to tell the story of our family. He would certainly never care two seconds about the grid structure and color palette of a finished layout. But he most certainly would have something unique to say about our lives and how we live it.

    Thank you for this inspiration.

  18. Annette

    2014-03-24 22:24:58 -0400

    Thanks as always for the inspiration. I'm in the midst of a reorganization of my scrap space and fighting the urge to just box all the "stuff" up and get back to telling stories like this. Absolutely love this.

  19. Treena

    2014-03-24 23:03:37 -0400

    Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm just starting on my memory keeping journey (began last July 2013). But ohmigosh, Cathy! This. This is why I'm doing this. To capture stories, moments and the LIFE that passes in a blink of an eye. I'm doing it for me. For my son, if he wants to have them later on. But mostly for me. So that when I look back (years from now), I get punched in the gut and have years in my eyes. That's what this layout and the journaling did to me btw: punch me in the guy and bring tears to my eyes.

    Your photos and your husband's words are awesome sauce!

  20. Neela

    2014-03-25 01:25:38 -0400

    Oh my god. The photos are amazing and the journaling is so beautiful. Your daughter will cherish this.

  21. SarahJane

    2014-03-25 09:08:49 -0400

    AWESOME! Adorable pics! AMAZING husband to have written such touching words to his little girl. What a treasure, indeed! (LUCKY YOU!)

  22. dawn

    2014-03-25 10:09:31 -0400

    Love everything about this!! I love the way you tell a story and have the best pictures to go with it. My heart melted just reading this, how sweet that it came from Dan this time. Keep up the good storytelling!!

    p.s. this is not the layout I thought you'd pick but it's pretty close. I had a feeling it would be just Aidan, you did one recently that I loved or an older one of Aidan.

    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Nenette

    2014-03-25 11:36:09 -0400

    I have always been a fan of your simple layouts but more importantly how you tell your story. Thank you for the inspiration Cathy!

  24. Ruth

    2014-03-25 12:45:59 -0400

    Umm. Crazy thing is that my husband is an author (of History). How did you get your husband to journal? I'm definitely going to casually leave your layout available. With a soon to be 12 year-old, I've got to work on this now.

  25. Wendy Smedley

    2014-03-25 19:42:06 -0400

    One of my top ten favorite CZ layouts for sure, love it!!

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