Back to the basics

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking49 Comments


This past weekend found me and my fourteen-year-old without any males in the house so we did what most moms and daughters do on solo girls' weekends: we shopped, saw a concert (Crowded House!) and took pictures of each other.

I took this of Aidan:


And she took this of me:


(I used a Totally Rad Action on both photos, Pool Party, for inquiring minds that need to know.)

Even though the shot of Aidan is adorable, I think the shot of me is just plain cool. Her framing is better. Her focus is sharper. Her personal style stamp is stronger. The kid's got some mad photog skillz. True that.

With all that lovely open space in the frame, I decided to make a simple layout to mark some of the progress I feel I'm making this year in my life. The page looks a bit like this:



Cardstock, patterned paper, a photo, and a simple text box with an outline.

Every time I sit down to make a page, a funny thing happens. They all turn out like this. A few papers, a photo, some words and nary an embellishment to be seen. And every time I do these pages, I'm reminded of exactly what it is I love about scrapbooking: I get tell a simple story in a way that feels right to me.

In my 44th year, I’m making progress. Progress in how I move and eat and how I think about moving and eating. Progress in how I relate to the people that I love. Progress in how to try and live a better life. Who says this old dog isn’t learning anything new?

God knows I try to come up with new things all the time in the realm of scrapbooking. I really do. The thing is, I don't usually succeed. Then, I fall back on the basics that have made my hobby easy, fun and ultimately stress free.

I'm going to start remembering my whole "thou shalt not reinvent wheel" philosophy a little more often.

A reminder for me to get back to the basics and feel the love.


Cathy ZielskeBack to the basics

49 Comments on “Back to the basics”

  1. #3

    And that’s why we love you. Please don’t stray from your tried and true- it’s what makes you one of the Gods of this wonderful addiction.

  2. #5

    I’m right there with you. In fact, I’m currently sorting through my heaps of papers and embellishments, wondering why I’m not giving 90% of it away. 😛

  3. #7

    I so get you! I’ve been wondering whether my style is too simple due to the lack of embellishment. You are an inspiration and encouragement as per usual.

  4. #8
    helena c

    please keep doing it that way – you are my touchstone for the fabulousness of simple that I need to remind myself of after time in blogland seeing site after site of heavily embellished layouts. I know that whatever makes me happy is fine, but seeing it reflected in blogland is affirming too

  5. #11

    That kid does have some mad skillz. Bring her down to Dubuque – I’d hire her for a family photo shoot!

  6. #12

    I also sometimes worry that all my pages are similar and plain. But then I look back through my albums and decide I like them that way.

  7. #14

    There’s nothing wrong with plain, it’s the story you’re telling that’s most important. At least that’s how I see it.

  8. #15

    I echo what everyone else has said. We love you the way you are and the fact that your amazing style gives us permission to leave all that bling behind is just a bonus. You are you. Thank goodnes. End of!

  9. #18
    Tammy M.

    Beautiful pics and another awesome layout! I think we need that reminder that some people can embellish, embellish, embellish and really rock it out, but for some of us we can just take the simple basic things and still rock it out and make it look amazing. And that’s what you do Cathy…you keep it simple and it always rocks. That’s why we all love you! Thanks for being true to yourself!

  10. #19

    I love this Cathy! The title is what I love it’s perfect for what your going thru this year and I think it’s great for me to so I’m going to borrow that idea, thank you. Both pictures are great but your right your’s really is sharp and I like the angle of it. It’s so true that simple is better and it’s always ok to go back to the basics.

  11. #21
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    Cathy, you are my anchor! Way back when I discovered your “simple” approach, it gave me permission to do what I had always liked, a throwback to simple newsletter & brochure designs. I just didn’t get all the embellishments, tho they are sometimes tempting & fun. My passion for scrapbooking blossomed when I began scraplifting LOs from your books & SS’s pages. Now & again I stray, & I begin getting frustrated & confused—until you post a layout like this one & I’m brought back home. THANKS!

  12. #25

    I hate you for influencing me with your style Cathy. Or rather my scrap area full of embellishments that I spent good money on and are now sitting since Cathy has ‘forced’ me to love her clean style so much, they hate you. Me, I really like you.
    Crop the left side of Adian’s photos and I love the angle and the way she’s tilting her head.

  13. #26

    I am always a little envious of people who can rock the embellishments, and really layer it all in there. Still, you have to be true to yourself! : ) Thanks for the comment, Tammy!

  14. #28

    LOL! Tell them not to hate, but to LOVE. ; )

    You should see all of my stash! It just sits there. In my dining room. Mocking me. ; )

  15. #29

    Thanks for your great layouts, I love your work. I have learned so much from you from a design standpoint and getting me started with photoshop elements, thanks you so much.

  16. #30

    Clean. Simple. CZ. That’s what keeps me coming back. I have to learn some of these actions, though. ‘Cause I love the effect on your photos. Rock on, Aidan. It’s so nice to have someone around who can take a pic!

  17. #31

    Aiden…. You have a wonderful “eye” Simplistic but making a statement all in one. You go girl

  18. #32

    “Thou shalt not reinvent the wheel”…I need that pasted LARGE on my scraproom wall! Thanks Cathy 😀

    Glad you & Aidan had some girly time together this weekend, the apple has not fallen far from the tree!

  19. #33

    I love your page. I have not finished a page in so long – months – but am going for a girls sb weekend on Thursday. You are so lucky to have see Crowded House. Also, since I have to live through other people because concerts do not really come here, please go see Paula Cole for me on Nov. 18 @ the Dakota Jazz Club. She has a new album coming out on 9/21. – Then tell me how good it was – Thanks(wink)

  20. #35

    Well what can I say?? SIMPLY stunning. Please keep reminding us that the simpe pages are just beautiful. I wish I had someone to take a photo of me like that.

  21. #36

    I LOVE this layout and the idea. I may have to ‘borrow’ that ‘P’ word for my MeTAV book. : )

  22. #38

    i love your approach to scrapbooking, cathy! you show us that with just a photo, a story and paper is possible to create amazing layouts.

  23. #39

    I am so glad she is singing again. I think she was at home with her daughter for quite a while as she had athsma. But now she is back. Her voice is so good. Also check out the stages of a photographer graph here.

  24. #41

    Both of the photos are great. I love your simple layouts. We have the exact same style. I too have tried to add a bit more umph to my layouts, but I always go back to the clean simple lines. I’ve just learned to embrace it.

  25. #42
    Katie Pegher

    Ditto ditto ditto to all the great comments above. Cathy – you and your simple mantra – your books and blog totally changed the way I looked at this hobby about 4 years ago. Now, I’m more invested than ever in it – but less stressed. It’s layouts like this – great reminders that simple and clean is utterly beautiful and very communicative – that keep me jazzed about the whole thing. Go-on witcha bad self, goddess of scrapdom!

  26. #44

    Hey Cathy,

    I forgot to mention yesterday that it’s awesome that you had to scrapbook this photo ASAP that tells us how much it meant to you and what you saw in it. I’ve done that a few times with my pictures and make a layout that day or the next day because I just loved it. Those are always my favorite layouts no stress!!

  27. #46

    Cathy everytime you post a scrabooking layout a burst of inspiration just comes rushing through! Thank you!!

  28. #47
    Jill S.

    I LOVE your simple, no-embellishments style. Some people can make those embellishments work, but I prefer to stick to the basics. Your blog is such an inspiration to me. I can’t wait for your BPS class to begin in a few weeks.

  29. #49

    basic grey is my favorite. and I love seeing how you and aiden spent the weekend! (and would love some tips on adding that great text block to the photo – you make it look so easy…..)

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