I never knew being jobless would keep me so freaking BUSY! Geez!

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life81 Comments

And busy doing what, you may be asking yourselves?


It started simply enough last week, with my sort-of, kind-of, but-technically-not-really mud room. I present the before:


And the after:


Seems simple enough, right? Took me TWO bloody hours. I kid you not. This isn't really a mud room, because during the frigid Minnesota winters, if we opened this side door to our house, we wouldn't be able to close it. Old house. Bad door frame. It's nice to dream though. Still, my favorite framed piece resides in this little nook:


Dan found this in an old Life magazine years ago, popped it in a glass clip frame, and voila, there it hangs.


I'm wondering what is IN her coffee to make her look like this. Can you say, "Liquid Valium"?


Moving right along…

Enter, if you will, my closet, which although you cannot actually see in the next shot, you can see what happens when it burps.


And spills into the hallway.


Now, before I go off and slag my closet, I will say this about it: it's big for a house built in 1918. You can walk into it, and up the stairs, all the way to the attic. I'm not sure why it becomes such a disaster every three months. It's not like there's much in the way of clothing or shoes in there to get in the way. But it is fun to find things I forgot I had, like this old tape carrier, with a few choice musical selections from the days of yore.


I think this proves any fair weather fan accusations with me and Crowded House, people. I bought their first album. ON CASSETTE! Thank you. But I think one could build a case (no pun intended) that I was musically a bit confused at one point or another. Nothing says, "I'm cool" like having both Steven Wright's I Have a Pony AND Michael Jackson's Dangerous in your collection. But I can always point out that I also had this:


Frankie Says: "Take that, naysayers!"

But once we get into the closet, and get it all sorted out, we have to at least take a few victory steps up to the attic. WARNING: What you are about to see may disturb you, and cause you to impersonate Jamie Gumm from Silence of the Lambs. "Preciouuuuuuuuus."

First you go up the stairs:


Then you open the door, (after passing by two of my super cute ElisaLou bags):


Then, you turn and go up the stairs, and see this:


I'm not which is more distrubing: the falling insulation, or the small figure in the far back bearing an uncanny resemblance to the subterranean human skull-snackin' creatures in The Descent.


All I'm saying is this: if and when I decide my new "busy-ness" includes emptying out this attic space, and you don't hear from me in a few weeks, show the above picture to the police.

And speak of me fondly, saying things like, "She was just really good with adhesive" or "She always had such good hair."

Thank you.


In Other News
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! We had a great birthday weekend, me and my old man.

And thanks for the submissions thus far received for Design Do-Overs, and by all means, keep 'em coming!

One final note: I added a little navigation bar to the top of the blog. Up there, you'll find some good stuff, especially links to downloadable PDFs of my About Design column from 2007 and 2008. Hoping to get 2006 up there soon, as well. If you missed an issue of Simple, or just want some good, free design info, check it out!

Cathy ZielskeI never knew being jobless would keep me so freaking BUSY! Geez!

81 Comments on “I never knew being jobless would keep me so freaking BUSY! Geez!”

  1. #1
    Michelle Giaimo

    Cathy s,ince I stopped teaching my husband asked me when I had time to work!
    Hey nice Lug bag on the banister.

  2. #2
    Cassie Fishbein

    Glad to see you’re keeping busy:) Although I’m a little concerned about the creature in your attic!

  3. #3

    IS that a baby walker in your attic? Are you hiding something we should know about?
    Thanks for the About Design…what a treasure that is.

  4. #4
    Michele Taylor

    Cathy, this is more of a question than a comment…although I would like to wish you a belated happy birthday. I recently completed Design Your Life and absolutely loved it. I learnt so much and have been applying lots of what you taught me to my scrapbooking and design. My son is currently in his final year of his graphic design degree and he is currently using Pantone Colour Bridge when selecting and matching colours however I seem to remember from one of your videos that in your InDesign colour swatch or picker that you had Pantone colours loaded. If I am correct could I please ask where you got them? I have looked everywhere and haven’t had any luck. Thanks again for the inspiration and I can’t wait to sign up for your next offering. Warmest regards Michele (Melbourne, Australia)

  5. #7

    Oh heavens! Well, congrats on the progress thus far! I’ll warn ya tho’ – this cleaning fever doesn’t last long. “Enjoy” it while it lasts! But keep picking at that resume in the breaks! πŸ˜‰ I tried “no work” for a bit with “But honey – this house will finally be so CLEAN!” Decided the “problem” is – I really hate housework and will come up with ‘most any other excuse for something to do! lol!

    Hang in there –

  6. #9
    Judy Lucas

    I would love an attic like that- one I could make into “my space” lock the door and hide- but then again- first to go would be the creppy child thing- maybe the kiddo can make him/her a pet alien?

    When you are done cleaning- you can come clean out all of our storage items- just can’t promise cool tapes like you :o)


  7. #12

    I think if I ever come to visit I shall stay only on the first level, you have some crazy stuff lurking in your basement, although I believe that is cleaned out now, and your attic! Very cool though that you have the attic in your closet, that’s how mine was when I was a kid, but there were no fab doors so when squirrels decided it was a good place to live, it was all over for many of my beautiful 80’s fashions and some prized stuffed animals… sigh I still miss teddy…
    Glad you had a great birthday and I can’t wait to hear more about the BPS class!

  8. #13
    Sherri P eh

    Congrats on the cleaning binge and hope it lasts til you get through the whole house! I also have steps to the attic in my closet, but yours is waaaaaay nicer, with a real door at the top and everything! And I have to move SO much more stuff off of the stairs to get up to the attic, so you win — yours was cleaner before you even got started!!

  9. #14

    I’m always embarrassed because I think I’m the only one who has stuff in piles in her bedroom and who throws clothes on the floor before collapsing into bed, so these photos were very calming and encouraging to me. Maybe those pristine bedrooms in the comforter ads are the oddballs and I’m right in the middle of the road. Could be. Don’t waste too much time cleaning. Stuff will just get messed up again. For such is life in the Midwest!

  10. #15
    Katie Scott

    Happy Birthday:) Cool Tool Bar. Is your bedroom pink? My husband Charlie recommends Isonnine (sp?) Foam spray insulation for your attic (sprayed in between the rafters).

  11. #16

    Those stairs remind me of the stairs in my Granny’s house in Minnesota! They were so steep that I had to go down them on my butt until I was in high school!

    Thanks for the good memory!

  12. #18

    Don’t you just love the nav bar feature in Typepad now? I installed it as well, but now I need to make it look as cool as yours. lol

  13. #19
    Jeannette P

    Well Cathy, I have to say is that you aren’t the only one. I don’t store stuff in my attic (too hard to get to & just not worth it) but I have a basement & it looks like something exploded or that we had a tornado just in the basement. Ok, I confess, today it looks as though the tornado hit the whole house but that’s for another day. I admire your candidness. Have fun cleaning & organizing your house. πŸ˜‰

  14. #20

    That tour through your house was great – love the before/after pics of the Mud room. Doesn’t it make you feel good when you get stuff like that accomplished? Now, with regard to the scary things in the attic, I think you could do so pretty cool pages with those pics!!!! and I can’t wait to see the journaling!

  15. #23

    Cathy – I love that you share your humanity with the world! Thank you!!! I am also wondering about the bullhorn on the bedroom floor – is that for weekend mornings when you are requesting your breakfast in bed? or is it some secret parenting tool??


  16. #26

    Cathy, when I went to download the About Design columns, the Jan/Feb 2007 and March/April 2007 were the same thing?

  17. #27

    Thanks for sharing your real life with us. Helps me feel better that even “celebrities” like you have trouble keeping the clutter and mess at bay.

  18. #28
    Becky Swisher

    OMG! another knee slapping post Cathy!- you really should think about stand-up comedy…you are a natural!

  19. #29
    Stephanie S.

    I just wanted to say thanks for the laughs. I wasn’t laughing at your need to clean (I can relate to that) but rather your comment about showing the picture to the police. Your posts frequently make me laugh. Thanks for brightening my day!!

  20. #30

    Hmmm…I am not unemployed, at least not yet and that is exactly what my closet and bedroom lool like. Now, let me just say, it is not becasue I wanted to…well…I wanted to organize it but really hadn’t made the time. Oh, but time had a different idea. Or maybe it was my bathtub. Well it decided to leak into my carpeted closet and just caused a big ol rucuos. So well, now you see, the closet reentry situation is going to take a bit. I have to wait on the hubby to finish the bathtub project and then the tiling of said closet. Ughhhhh!
    Let me just say that I find it so very cool that your closet leads directly to your attic. Oh old houses how I love thee!

  21. #34

    #1: I too, still have a Crowded House CASSETTE TAPE!
    #2: The Jamie Gumm reference. ROTFLMAO! It is my daughter’s favorite movie and it just cracks me up that your stairway somewhat resembles his lair.
    #3: The Descent mannequin = Just Plain Wrong. I draw the line!

    Have a lovely week!
    =) Diane

  22. #37

    1. Your attic is scary. But it’s nice to see the not-so-clean&simple part of your world. πŸ™‚
    2. Glad you and Dan had a great birthday weekend.
    3. Thank you so much for putting up all your columns in pdf. I will share this bit of good scrappy news with my friends.
    4. Glad to know my closet isn’t the only one out there that mysteriously collects “stuff” and then occasionally burps it all out.

    Happy Monday! πŸ™‚

  23. #38

    See…there’s a reason I never go in our attic. πŸ˜‰ And I don’t even have one of those creepy heads in there.
    And what’s that on her (its?) T-shirt? Looks like a monkey w/ a ‘fro.
    Thanks for the link – coolness!
    I need to go find me some of that liquid valium, I think. (As always – LOVE your blog!)

  24. #39

    I have that Frente CD. We have the same musical taste from the 80’s.

    I have been trying to organize my stuff since July when I left my “day job”

  25. #42
    Kris Lindsay

    Thanks so much for posting the About Design articles – I don’t have most of them, so know I can print them and make a little “textbook” of my own.

  26. #44

    I’ve been unemployed for 15 years now and never a dull moment. I always have a list a mile long and can’t possibly do everything I want to.

    Maybe while you were working you just didn’t seem to see all the things that needed doing. I think we just get used to our surroundings and ignore them. I also think you’ll adjust and make your own list a mile long.

    Thanks for living just like the rest of us, but being brave enough to admit it.

  27. #45
    Christina C.

    Many of the areas in my home look a lot like your ‘before’ pictures. I am so relieved that I am so similar to one who has so much talent. I can only see good things in my future .

  28. #46

    I love you. Thank you for showing me that my house is not the only one! I sweat the more I clean the messier it gets.


  29. #48
    Mary Kate

    Classic St. Paul home.

    My Highland Park “mud room ” is the same step-saving size, as the realtors say. Ours though also includes the open stairs to the basement in that same generous area. I’ve kept the baby gate on it even though my youngest is 5. Without it, when we are all six piling in the back door I’m afraid someone will tumble to the basement.

  30. #49

    ahhh counting crows, I still have them on my ipod today.

    Here in this house the equivalent to your attic is our spare room… it is still a bit too daunting for me to attempt yet

  31. #51
    Abby P.

    Once I quit my day job (running a law firm, which seemed like a big job at the time) and became a stay-at-home-mom, I found out what REAL work was…you’ll soon wonder how you ever worked outside AND “inside” the house and survived to blog another day…enjoy your attic treasure hunt!

  32. #52

    Seriously? Soo funny! The little creature girl in the attic is the topper!Thanks for making me laugh!

  33. #53
    Kim Borochaner

    I’m so glad you decided to continue blogging! I love reading your blog and would miss it terribly if you stopped. thank you for always brightening my evenings!!

  34. #54

    Thanks so much for the About Design downloads. They are going into my DYL notebook. It was like having the class back and that felt great!

  35. #55

    I LOVE your blog. You crack me up. You write so well about everyday life. I’ll be reading along and then, bam, something is hysterically funny and I have to hide my laughter so that the people at work won’t know that I’m reading non-work related stuff. Keep it up!

    Laurie (formerly of Michigan-now of Texas)

  36. #56

    I live in Texas and we are 1 weeek away(actually 4 school days, but whose counting besides the teachers and the kids) from Spring Break (imagine big jump and yeah). I had planned on cleaning out a few things, but I think you just convinced me not too.

    Your attic reminded me of my grandparents house in Indiana. My mom slept in the upstairs when she was growing up – walk through a set of french doors and there was the attic.

  37. #57

    That first picture of the attic door scares the ba-geebers outta me!!

    And then that bald mannequin child!! WTF?!!

  38. #58

    A totally off topic comment (well not completely off topic): I have a new musician of interest for you. Have you heard of Marc Bourssard? He is a Louisiana native like me and he really rocks but not in a hard, ear splitting way but is a nice groovey kind of way. If I might suggest a few tracks yo listen to: Rocksteady and Home. Just sharing my musicial discoveries like you… Have a great day. kat

  39. #59
    Tonja Trump

    Ha! That’s great! I’m diggin’ that purple t-shirt on that manny..too funny!! The possiblities are abundant in that space up there! Just think of all the calories you’re burning cleaning that all up!

  40. #61
    Jan Connair

    This whole cleaning spree thing will pass. When I first stopped working to be a SAHM, I thought ironing in the middle of the day and going to the grocery were the most fun in the world. I quickly GOT OVER IT, and you will too. Meanwhile, you should probably just enjoy the fruits of your temporary insanity.

  41. #64

    I completely understand. I was jobless for a couple of months about 10 years ago and I was so busy. I did not know how I had time to work?! I thought, wow, I will get to do this, and that and finally get to all my projects…It did not happen. There is an ability to expand your activities to the amount of time you have. Plus I did all these things – cleaning, cooking (I was never the cook) all the marketing – when did I learn the names of the produce stockers? bakery person, butcher and discuss the freshness of those items a few times a week – they knew me by name too.
    Now that I am back working, that has all gone away.

    Good for you to clean out the attic…interesting stuff. Its all part of the process of transition and transformation. Best wishes with it all as i know it will benefit us blog readers in may unexpected ways.

  42. #65

    THANK YOU for reassuring me that I’m not the only unemployed mom who is insanely busy. I lost my WAHM job recently, too, under the same circumstances you experienced – the company simply closed. I just cannot believe how much stuff I still have to accomplish every day. I don’t know how I will manage when I have to go back to an office!

    And thanks for the laugh – “show the picture to the police.” Too funny!

    Sending you good job-hunting vibes. Hugs.

  43. #66

    That so gives me an idea for a LO about my cassette cases. Notice I said cases, PLURAL. Scary, embarrassing stuff lurking there!!

    BTW, I smell a killing on Ebay with all that stuff in your attic. Personally, I’m looking for more Fisher-Price furniture and people for that very. same. dollhouse. πŸ˜‰

  44. #67
    Sandra @ The Memory Workshop

    Holy crap. I can say for sure that I had/have no less than 4 of those cassettes in my collection at one time. (what? no Collective Soul or Live or Police??) Frankie Goes to Hollywood?? If I were to ever karaoke – and I won’t but if I did – it would be to something from Welcome to the Pleasuredome.

  45. #70


    One thing your blog teaches me (aside from great design) is that things are the same the world over. Over the weekend my husband cleared out his @ home office/study and the whole thing took on a life of it’s own. We then moved onto my son’s room and what was left over ended up in my craft room – we do not have the luxury of an attic! The house is now tidy and clutter free, all ready for the stuck inside days of winter. Of course, I’ll have to tidy up the craft room before I can do any more scrapping. Hey, I have that same Frankie tape + about a kajillion others from the 80’s. Good times, good times. Sounds like a good scrapbook idea….

  46. #71
    Deb Jones

    What a hoot you are. I love your funny posts. You always make my day. ‘

    So cleaning, huh?! I’m not fond of doing that. I’m a neat freak because I HATE to clean. I’m sorry you are having to do it. I hope that you are able to get it all done quickly and that scary thing is out of the attic.

  47. #73

    Wow those stairs are identical to our back staircase (1932 house)! But just have lots of Christmas boxes and one of my husbands zillions of deer heads at the top πŸ™‚

    Thanks loads for the design archives!!

  48. #76

    I’m pretty sure I am busier now working inside our home than I was working outside our home. In totally different ways, yes, but still. Who knew?


    1. My first concert: 1986, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Portland, OR.
    2. My first tape: Men at Work “Business As Usual” followed shortly thereafter by Michael Jackson “Thriller” and Crowded House “Temple of Low Men”.

  49. #78

    Hooray for cleaning! Speaking of which… that is EXACTLY what I should be doing right now! HA! Thanks for the motivation… πŸ˜‰

  50. #79

    I’ve got the same Crowded House cassette and was lucky enough to have it signed by the band at Peaches. I’m glad there’s another fan out there. I was one of the only ones that showed up that day back in 1986. One of my very favorite cassettes is a copy of a mixed tape that you made for Jodi Backlund back in the mid eighties when she was my roommate at the U.

  51. #80

    Cathy I would like to sincerely thank you for this post. Bc seriously, sometimes the typical scrapbooking blog post about My Giant House on 207 Acres in Wyoming with All New Cabinets and Perfect Scrap Space just gets on my nerves.

    It’s like Look! You Too Can Scrapbook and you don’t need a 2938293 square foot house with all new everything and perfect organization to do it! Or to have a pretty great life!


  52. #81

    I had to look at your user ID to understand.. I was like “stuck inside days of winter?? but it’s SPRING!!!”

    LOL silly me.

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