New at Designer Digitals: Me: the Abridged Version

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking80 Comments


Quick: what's your favorite album project of all time?

Got you thinking now, huh?

I will tell you what mine is, without hesitation: my volumes of Me: the Abridged Version.

For the past two years, I taught a workshop at Big Picture Classes called "Me: the Abridged Version" which a number of you joined in for. This year, I've retired the class and decided to release the project as part of my Designer Digitals collection.

The workshop was based on a CKU class of the same name, and that class was inspired by the wonderful memoir by the equally wonderful Amy Krouse Rosenthal called "Encylcopedia of an Ordinary Life." If you've never heard of this book, I would strongly suggest that any memory keeper check it out for a whole new take on documenting your life.

This approach is the basis for this album project. Write about your life in little, random chunks from A to Z, and sprinkle in a few photos for good measure. It is not an album that relies, however, on photos. It relies on you and your voice and the people, places and things you choose to include as you present an overall slice of your life right here, right now.

My first two volumes were hybrid creations, using papers, adhesives, Microsoft Word and Photoshop to build the final albums.


Here's a sample spread from my album in 2009:


In 2010, I decided to go all digital for my class sample album, recording my life in an 8 x 10 printed photo book from Blurb.


I want to share with you a PDF showing my entire album for 2010. Plus, it could serve as an inspiration to get some of your wheels turning:

Download CZ_2010AlbumShare

I love this concept Why? It's simple and it's filled with random bits of my everyday life. For people who find journaling tedious, once you get going on a project like this, you'll be surprised by how many things start to pop up under each letter. And you'll be surprised how easy it can be to write about yourself, via all the people, places and things that make up your life.

This year, I decided to redesign my digital album and create another volume and that book is presently being printed at Inkubook. I chose Inkubook because they offer 8.5 x 11, which is the size of this project. Some of my students had great results with them last year, so I'm giving it a whirl. Here's a look at my newest volume:

Create your own Photobooks with!

I ordered a soft cover book this year. Each book has to be a minimum of 20-pages, so if you'll notice, I had to add some patterned paper and cardstock paper in strategic spots to fill out the book. (We call those fly sheets in the publishing biz.)

As you can see, photos are really just accents in this project. The focus in on what topics you choose to write about. You can write about as many things as you can fit into each space. I typically wrote about two things per letter. In some cases, just one thing. The project can be flexible.

I share all of this today because I'm really excited to announce three new products from Designer Digitals, all featuring the Me: the Abridged Version concept, with a few twists, namely, the ability to swap out the titles to create not just an album about you (though I'm a huge fan of that idea), but you can also create "Us: the Abridged Version" or "You: the Abridged Version." Both concepts have so many possibilities for scrapbooking about your family or your children.

Here's a look at the packages:


Me: the Abridged Version Vol. 1 Hybrid Album Project

This is for scrapbookers who want to build a traditional album using the enclosed printable elements. This is essentially what most of my students did in both 2009 and 2010.

This package includes files for both Photoshop Elements and Non-Photoshop Elements users. It includes Microsoft Word templates and printable PDFs for non-PSE users. The printable elements come in 10 different color options so you can find elements to match your favorite papers and cardstocks. Non-PSE users will create their alphabet blocks using cardstock and stickers or chipboard alphas. Included is a 17-page How To PDF, a complete guide to the project showing the basic album structure, tips on how to get the most out of your patterned paper, with complete step-by-step instructions for creating the various pieces in Photoshop Elements. Layered PSD files will help you to create your journaling blocks, title page elements and alpha blocks, as well as allow you to customize the colors yourself. All fonts and font colors are also customizable in this project.

This package also contains the printable elements for creating "You: the Abridged Version" and "Us: the Abridged Version."

In short, this package is like a class in a box with every imaginable piece needed (minus cardstock and patterned paper of course!) to build a complete hybrid album project.



Me: the Abridged Version Vol. 1 Digital Album Project

This is for digital scrapbookers who want to build a digital album using the enclosed layered PSD files. This is what I used for my 2010 album. There are just a few files in this package, and you will do a series of Save As commands to save all of your album letters. Typically, most digital scrapbookers in my workshop designed their A and B pages first, choosing their digital papers and cardstocks, then did a series of Save As commands so as not to re-invent the wheel each time.

This package also contains the layered logo files for creating "You: the Abridged Version" and "Us: the Abridged Version."

In short, this package is for digital scrapbookers who know their way around PSE.


Me: the Abridged Version Vol. 2 Digital Album Project

This is for digital scrapbookers who want to build a digital album using the enclosed layered PSD files. This album, however, has custom letters created using my favorite font, Archer, which is also used in the title options as well. You choose your own font for the page entries and journaling blurbs. This package also has the A to Z pages already created for you as layered PSD files. No Saving As is needed. Just build and go, letter by letter.

This package also contains the PNG files for creating "You: the Abridged Version" and "Us: the Abridged Version." It also contains PNG dates covering the next 10 years, so you could make future volumes.

In short, this package is for digital scrapbookers who know their way around PSE, but also like the added convenience of having the pages already set up for them.


Each of the packages has different pricing because of the different number of files. Each of the packages, as new products at Designer Digitals, will be on sale through Tuesday at 6 a.m. EST.

Also, each of these packages has been designed in the 8.5 x 11 format. The main reason isn't just because that's my preferred size. The main reason behind this is that this design in 12 x 12 would create journaling blocks that are wider than I like to create. I have some personal rules of thumb when it comes to readability and journaling. I like my journaling colums to stay uner 5 inches wide. Plus, it makes for less required journaling, which can facilitate an easier completion process.

I really hope you'll consider creating an abridged version about yourself. This project always makes me reflct on my life, and my blessings, and focuses me on what really matters: family, life, love and all that goes along with it.

Whether you make an all digital album, or a cool hybrid project, this is a project that will truly serve as a time capsule of your life right here, right now.

I also think they'd make a fantastic gift for someone in your life. You could make an album about a child, or about your entire family for a wonderful and meaningful album gift for the holidays, and you've got plenty of time to create one!

If you have any questions about the packages or the projects, please don't hesitate to ask. Leave me a question in comments, and I'll be sure to get you an answer!

I also want to give you a free downloadble brainstorming PDF (included in the packages as well) where you can jot ideas for what you might want to write about in your album.

Download MeTAVBrainstormSheet

Here's to slices of life from A to Z. And, of course, scrapbooking them.

p.s. I know for some of you, the idea of doing an album all about yourself might seem a bit indulgent, but consider this: everything you choose to write about your life really is just a reflection of the people, the places and the things you love. I think every woman should explore this process. There is only one you. Document, save and enjoy the process of celebrating and recording your life.

People who love you will thank you.


Cathy ZielskeNew at Designer Digitals: Me: the Abridged Version

80 Comments on “New at Designer Digitals: Me: the Abridged Version”

  1. #1

    WOW CATHY, THESE ARE ALL AMAZING!! Thanks so much for putting so much thought to how we can make this album. I’ve heard about how great this class was by you and it’s everyone’s favorite album. Thanks for making this so easy to read and doable for even a beginner.

    This is something I’d like to do and know my family would love to have this little bit of my story told. Thanks for always having amazing ideas.

  2. #2

    Thank you…because now I have a format to put all those “about you” photos and memories I’ve been keeping ina box. Can’t wait to start working on this (maybe a Christmas present to each of the subjects?)

  3. #4
    Susan Anderson

    I just starting making an A to Z list last week without giving any thought to how I was going to put it all together. It was all here waiting for me to discover it this morning! Thank you so much. I’m downloading the hybrid kit as I type. Can’t wait to get started.

  4. #6

    Yay! Enjoy! Just know theres a ton of stuff in the kit, but hopefully it will all make sense! : ) Let me know if you have any questions!

  5. #7
    Annet Maurer

    Ooh, I’m excited – I’ve never done any digital scrapbooking before, but my 3 yr old is totally self-involved, as all 3 yr olds are, and he’d be thrilled with a book about himself – and it will finally get his pictures out of my mac and into real life format, that he can read over and over. I am super excited to start playing around with it. Thanks so much!
    And yes, I will do one for me at some point too! So glad I found you via RLAM!

  6. #8

    This is such a great idea! Thank you for creating these kits. I just finished downloading the two digital kits and can’t wait to get started. My mind is alreay coming up with ideas from A to Z. I’ll do one for myself, but I’m thinking I might have my two neices come up with the ideas for the A-Z journaling about their mom and create the book with their help from their perspective. Then they can give it to their mom for Christmas. Thanks again!

  7. #9

    Cathy! How can you BE so awesome? You read my mind! No, seriously you did. The other day I was musing about Amy’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and was thinking how I would love to make one, but I just didn’t want to try to put it together myself. And LOOK HERE! You did it! Thanks a bunch! I just bought your Photoshop version and can’t wait to get started! I am even going to use it as a writing assignment for my homeschooled daughter. Such a fun way to document her life and get her to write paragraphs!

  8. #10
    Julie S

    I’m wondering if you had to make any adjustments to the margins printing with Inkubook? I’m finishing my own album from the BPC class so I have those templates. I just wonder whether they will work?

  9. #11
    Becky H

    Yes, finally a way that I can document Me. I have been wanting to do this for awhile now but didn’t know how I wanted to do it. Thanks Cathy.

  10. #13

    That would be the best gift to give to a mom. Oh, man… I can see the tears now. Didnt even think about having kids make one about their mom.

  11. #15

    Julie, for my NEW album, no. I didnt make any adjustments. When I did my blurb book, however, it did cut off about a 1/4 of an inch of the outer edges, because as you know, the design goes edge to edge. However, I do like Inkubooks preview. You can upload your flattened JPG files and drop them in. There is a shadow area that shows the binding. When i get my album back, Ill post the pics to share the results!

  12. #17

    This is embarassing to admit, but here it goes. I’ve never done digi scrapbooking and I want to start. Here’s the problem. I have PSE (thanks to a great deal at Costco) but I have no idea how to use it. Any suggestions on a good place to learn how to use it?

  13. #18
    Rebecca Street

    Well played, CZ. Well played. I didn’t think this would be a project that I wanted to complete. I don’t like any attention on myself and I already have a list of scrapbooking things that I can’t move forward on due to my perfectionist attitude. However, after looking at your PDF album, holy smokes. I’m sold.

    Just out of curiosity, how often do you make one of these albums. Do you have a hard time saying something new for the things that are so completely you that they don’t change year after year?

    Also, thanks again for your Halloween album. I finally made one this year in anticipation of the kids’ new costumes. My kids love it. Heck, I love it!

  14. #19

    Jill, yes! There are a few options for you:

    1. Take an online class for beginners. Both and offer really good getting started with PSE classes. You dont need to learn a ton of things to become a digi scrapper! : )

    2. Here is a good thread of info from Designer Digitals with lots of articles that might be helpful too!

    : )

    Hope that points you in the right direction. You can learn this stuff! I promise!

  15. #20

    Ive made four now, and from last year to this year, it was a little repetitive in spots, for sure. But part of that shows me my areas of consistency, or my areas that need changing! LOL. I do think the first time you make one of these, however, its a bit of a revelation. And seriously? The best thing you can do to let your kids some day have a real look at who their mama was in 2012, in the thick of life and all its goodness and complexity!

  16. #21

    Cathy, THANK YOU! I *just* emailed BPS to ask about your class being offered again. I have been out of scrapbooking for awhile, and am so excited to be getting back into it. I am SO GLAD I don’t have to miss out on this awesome project! Thanks for your blog!

  17. #22

    I took your MeTAV class in 2009. It really is my favorite album! I still enjoy going going and reading through what I wrote. Love the new template and plan to get started on a new album later this year. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  18. #23

    PS. I can’t wait to see what new classes you have in mind at BPC. Are you willing to give us any hints?

  19. #24

    Thank you for doing this post and thank you so very much for offering your templates for this project, thus making it easier to successfully complete this! I wanted to take your class when it was first offered (2009?)but life was too crazy at the time. I even keep a running list of things to write about in each category that I started back then. Off to the store to get a set! Now to decide which format! Thank you! muah!

  20. #25

    I took your classe in 2009 – prepared the pictures and words and paper cuts, but never put them together….Thank you for the timely reminder after two years to complete this UFO.

    You could also use this as an atypical “December Daily” of sorts….

  21. #27

    How cool. Great idea! I will be interested to see how the Inkubook turns out without modifying the templates to accommodate the gutter and trim. I love the idea of all digital books. I have been trying for YEARS to get my husband to create an A-Z list for me. The poor dude has exactly two layouts about him and I have been scrapbooking for 12 years.

    I don’t know if I ever showed your my completed MTAV album, but it is one of my favs. With the new digital templates I may just have to start a new album series. πŸ™‚

  22. #28

    Hey Cathy.

    Thanks so much for sharing. I took this class in 2009 and loved it but never thought of doing it again. Now I might just have to give it another whirl with a digital take.

    Loved your entries and that Vampires got in again!

    (Just over a month till Breaking Dawn – Yay.)


  23. #30

    I began my “Me” album when son started boot camp, to take my mind off worrying. What a fun project it was, and the resulting album is one of my very favorites! I’m glad you’re making it available so everyone else can join in the fun. And since it’s all about YOU, there’s no wrong way to do it!

  24. #32

    Hi Cathy – Question about the retiring class at BPC. Will it still be available for us to access after it is retired? I took the class in 2009 but didn’t finish my album. I planned on getting back to it “one of these days.” Should I go in and get all the downloads and handout now?

  25. #33

    Hi Cathy! I have read that book and LOVED LOVED LOVED it! Quick question for you: Do you have any kind of ‘intro’ page before you start the alphabet? ANy kind of page after the cover kind of explaining the book? Just wondering! TOTALLY wanna do this for myself to recap 2011 and then make this an annual album. Freakin’ LOVE the concept!! Thanks Cathy!
    ps. Already bought my Breaking Dawn tickets! 4 1/2 more weeks…can’t wait!

  26. #35

    Not in these packages. However, there is a closing page, where you reflect on the project.

    In the original CKU class, we did do an intro page, and honestly, you could use the closing page AS the opening page, but youd have to add another full page facing it, if that makes sense, to create a spread in your album. A nice touch? Would be a full page photo of yourself.

    It would totally work. : )


  27. #36
    Judy Sanza

    Best album I’ve ever made! Totally “undigital” but looks soooooo good. I keep in mind that my kids and grandkids will love to read my story (they already go thru it constantly). Confession,,,,I’m not done. I try to do a little bit here and there, but I’m not stressed about finishing.

    Thank you so much for designing such a wonderful project to tell a family story. In addition, this has also inspired me to make books that tell the story and ancestry of both sides of the family.

    I’m an 8 and a half by 11 kind of scrapper and your books were the first ones I bought when I began. Thanks for all your inspiration.

  28. #37

    These look great Cathy, I’ve always been reluctant to scrap photos of me, so this could be a good inspiration.

    On another note I’m vey excited to say that I’m about to buy my first Mac, an iMac to be exact. I’m also going to get a copy of PSE (I thought about CS5 but not sure Im ready yet), so this could be my first PSE project – how excitement!

    Love your work Cathy and you are the gold medalist in scrapping!


  29. #38
    jacquie d

    I have just downloaded the hybrid version and can’t wait to start working on it. I LOVE how you so simply explain every detail in your guide.

    I have 3 sibling foster children (almost 5 years now), and I really believe this project will play huge into letting them know how they are such a big part of my life. I kinda feel guilty moving ahead with this project when I have so many other ‘unfinished’ ones, but I feel the format will be one that I can actually complete in a decent time frame.

    Cathy, I am one of your biggest fans, and find myself talking to others about you, like I actually know you. (I did have a pic taken with you at CKU Vancouver, so I am not a total stalker!)

    Thankyou so much for sharing your talent.

  30. #39

    i was listening to an old episode of the digishow (from July 2010) today and they mentioned this book and your class and how good they both were. kind of funny. i LOVE how you turned this old class into a product at designer digitals. such a great idea – class in a box…and something i know we will start to see more of.

  31. #40
    gypsy chaos

    Your album is awesome! I didn’t read every.last.word – though I am strongly tempted to do so. I thoroughly enjoyed the entries I did read – you have a wonderful voice.

  32. #42

    Thanks so much for creating these. I took the class last year; did a lot of brainstorming but didn’t actually get around to creating my digital pages nor printing it as a photobook. These templates are just what I need. I love the new 8.5×11 templates. I’ll definitely investigate that inukbook since they print 8.5×11. I have printed an 8×10 at Blurb which I loved; but would also like to try an 8x5x11.

  33. #43

    This is brilliant! I LOVE it! Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful scrapbooking ideas.

  34. #44
    Annette Gendler

    Looks very enticing! I have one question, though: Why do you use “me” instead of “I”? Is it because you’re looking at yourself as an object and not a subject?

  35. #46

    Wow, Jacquie, we go back to CKU Vancouver? one of my favorite events. For sure. Dont feel any guilt! Have fun with the project. Its supposed to be liberating in that you can just jump all over the alphabet and write about whatever comes to mind. Thanks for posting a comment today and enjoy the process!

  36. #49

    oooh fabby! I am going to give the 8.5 x 11 a whirl! I love that its all designed and ready to go, yay! And I so NEED that Archer font (one day, LOL!). Thanks Cathy!

  37. #50
    Kathleen Summers

    Super psyched about this, Cathy! I’m pregnant now and having the baby next month… but this is going to be a 2012 goal for me. A book about me will be a first. So will the 8.5×11 size. Thank you for creating this awesome project! Totally can’t wait to do it and see my finished product!

  38. #51

    Cathy, have you made any changes to the hybrid album project? I bought this a few years ago through DD and was wondering if there are any changes to the digital product now. Love this project!

  39. #52
    Annet Maurer

    so I started tonight on a and b and i love it – i’ve always been much more of a journalling girl, so traditional scrapbooking was defeating me with having to type it, then print on pretty paper, cut to fit and then realise i’d made an error, it wasn’t to size, etc. This is just letting me write – and it’s brilliant – it’s like a letter from me to him about everything that i love about him right now.
    But a question – i can’t seem to change the background colour of alpha block, I must be missing something simple. I have full PS but haven’t ever utilised it much (needed INdesign for a contracting job, so that’s why I have it). And at the same time, how do i easily change the background colour from white?

  40. #53

    Heidi, no. Its the same, other than adding the new word art US: the abridged version and You: the abridged version.

    The only one that is truly new in terms of design and set up is the Vol. 2 digital set! : )

  41. #54

    Annet, what you want to do is click on the layer with the alpha block background, (if this is the hybrid kit, its called BOXES) and then go to Edit Fill and then under Contents, click the drop down menu to choose Color, and it will bring up the Color Picker. Then pick a color and click OK. It should fill. Make sure, however, you see more than one layer in your layers palette, to be sure the file didnt get flattened somehow!
    : )

  42. #55

    Hi Cathy, I love that project too. Wish you were doing it again this year πŸ™‚ I do have a question…when I finally am done with the one I started last Sept. how do I send it to Blurb, since it is already created?

  43. #57

    Andrea, you will need to save your files as JPEGs. If you open each page, the PSD files, you do a Save As, and choose JPEG as the format. It will automatically flatten the files and get them into the format needed to upload to online printers!

    Good luck!

  44. #58

    Hey Cathy… great prompt to get my butt back in gear & FINISH last yr’s book. Question? I’ve printed photobooks thru Shutterfly and Blurb, but not Inkubook. How would you compare them – quality, pricing, ease of upload, etc.

    I realize that you went with Inkubook because of the 8.5×11 size thing. Just wondering how the others compare. Thanks. Rita

  45. #59

    Well, my book shipped yesterday, but I loved how easy their upload and set up was. Ill post here when the book is back with a report on the quality!

  46. #60
    Missus Wookie

    Oh way cool – was browsing through class files the other week looking for a specific CZ DYL class layout template (back when someone made ’em all for us) for a hybrid project I was doing and saw my MTAV folder and thought that would be cool to redo. I’m going to wait until I see the new book version because I’d love to do it all digital this time.

  47. #62
    Bec Kilgore

    Now I just need to study the digi stuff i have and figure out how to use it once and for all!

  48. #64
    Julie aka MaggieMae

    I love your book! It is so interesting and the way you used the alphabet was great (i.e., very, ….). A great help for some difficult letters!! I would love to try this sometime!

  49. #65

    I’ve been wanting to make of of these albums, but quite frankly, I was too lazy to do all the measuring and cutting for a traditional scrapbook, and I’m not the most adept digital scrapbooker, so I’m SO happy that these are available.

    I read a letter in a scrapbooking magazine (years ago) from a man whose wife had recently died quite unexpectedly. Just prior to her death, she had taken a class and made an album like this. He said it was such a gift to have that album. That really stuck with me.

  50. #66

    Sarah, I remember that letter well. He wrote it to the magazine to send to me. The day I read it, I sat in my office and just sobbed. I had been feeling very burned out on working in the scrapbook industry, traveling and teaching at CKUs, working for the magazine, and when I read that, it changed everything for me. I felt it was the most important thing I could have done for that family in a very roundabout way. Thanks for reminding me of this.

  51. #67

    I wanted to take you class at BPS but just never got around to it. Is there info from the class included in the digital versions or is it is just the templates?

  52. #68

    Amie, there is a 17-page handout in the hybrid kit, but not the digital kits. The class didnt really include full on digi scrap instructions. Hope that helps! : )

  53. #69

    Hi Cathy!! I am so excited to start this project! Thanks for sharing on DD!! Quick question, what are the digital papers that you used? I couldn’t find a reference for them! I’m sure I overlooked them!

  54. #70

    Whoops! I forgot to post it. I used the Jasmine Paper Pack from Designer digitals and the Just Linens No. 04, (the white sheet of paper!)

    I think thats it. Oh, and i have a piece of kraft paper i scanned from my stash for my background!

  55. #71

    Thanks so much Cathy!! i just purchased the digital kit and I am sooo anxious to start. Thanks for creating such a wonderul, and much needed, album!!

  56. #72
    Stephanie K.

    Cathy, for your 2010 album, what were the patterned papers used? I wanted to buy the album, but I like to buy everything I need at once so that when I sit down to do it, it is organized. Thanks for any info on that. I love all of your examples of this album. Just beautiful.

  57. #73

    This is awesome! I took your class in 2009 and never finished my book πŸ™
    I am excited to get my hands on the new version! I’m still a newbie to digital. Where do you upload these pages and have them printed and bound?

  58. #77

    Wow, you see, I haven’t been keeping up properly. I was wondering if you were going to do this class again and only now do I see your post, from my birthday no less!

    I’m right now working away at the album I started last year. I started then hopeful to finish by the end of the year but it didn’t happen, I had most of the journaling done but hadn’t stuck them on the pages yet.

    Now I REALLY want to finish by the end of the month. And already I’m seeing the value of this project, just by going over the journaling and adapting things here and there, so much has changed already in that one year. I have complete new entries, some things that I threw out because they’re not really relevant anymore, it just really shows how valuable it is to document the now, because you will not be the same person in a year.

    I’m sticking to the design from last years class and with Blurb. I’m actually doing a digital scrapbooking workshop at my photography club tomorrow and we’re going to order an album with those results as well. I’ll show them a couple of pages from my MeTAV 2011 too.

    So I was thinking if anyone else was thinking about MeTAV this year and then I found your post. πŸ™‚ I do miss the interaction on the class message board though. Can’t we start a group somewhere for people to chat about the project year in year out? That would be so nice. I rewatched all the videos while working on my pages (dual monitors rule :)) and I have a-f completely done now. I’ll leave a comment on your FB wall when it’s printed in my hands.

    Thanks again for starting this great project, Cathy.

  59. #78

    Hey Karin, thanks for your comment. Im not sure about where to start a group. Yahoo has a way of creating groups. You could look into that and see if you could track down other students! : )

  60. #79

    I did this class last year and thoroughly enjoyed it – I didn’t know you were working on another book this year – I may do one again myself!

  61. #80

    I love this idea! I’ve been trying to get going on this albumand love to look at others completed work for inspiration. I did a search on Flickr but only about 5 or 6 come up. I think people forget to tag their work. I wondered about a group on BPC like the project 365 or LOM – I think one was free and one was $15 for an open membership. Maybe Cathy could petition for something like that…?

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