Denine Zielinski is a breast cancer survivor, a teacher, and an empty nester who has leveraged her life experience to embrace variety in scrapbooking and let go of perfectionism. As our featured artist for September 2023 she shares a peek into her values, materials, and process as a memory keeper today. Denine’s passion for celebrating every day with gratitude comes through in our conversation.
- December Daily Instagram account
- Empty Nest + New Stories class
- adhesive foam sheets (Amazon affiliate link)
- Fodder Challenge
- Denine on Instagram: @denine2
- Denine’s YouTube channel
- Denine’s new class: Authentic Storytelling
[00:01:23] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking.
This is episode 232. In this episode I'm interviewing Denine Zielinski for the My Way series. My Way is all about celebrating the unique ways memory keepers get things done. We're excited to have Denine as the September featured artist at Simple Scrapper.
[00:01:55] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Denine welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.
[00:01:57] Denine Zielinski: Hi, and thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here with you today.
[00:02:01] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I can't wait for our conversation, but can you kick things off by sharing a little bit about yourself?
[00:02:08] Denine Zielinski: Absolutely. Um, I am Denine Zielinski I am from northeastern Pennsylvania, so I'm about, you know, eastern side of the state. Um, I live alone with five cats. My son is gone. He is on his own in his own apartment, living his own life and he's doing fantastic. He is, he'll be 24 years old this month, so it's crazy to think about that. But um, yeah, and I'm a teacher. I teach eighth grade civics and I've been doing that for about 18 years. And I am a scrapbooker for probably about 23 or 24 years now. It's been a fun ride. Absolutely.
[00:02:47] Jennifer Wilson: I can't wait to hear more about it. But before we jump into the scrapbooking part, I'd love hear about your cats
[00:02:53] Denine Zielinski: Oh five cats. Yes. I don't know. It started out at one and two. One turned to two and two to three, and so on and so on. Um, It didn't actually start until my son, I had cats when my son was younger because he was born into a house of cats. I had two. And then as he got older, he developed allergies to cats. And so the, the, the doctor said, you don't have to, uh, get rid of your cats, but he needs to have a space where there aren't any cats. So had his own space. And then when they passed, I went probably about 11 years without them. And once he moved out, I thought, oh, he's gone. Um, that's a bad thing. But the good thing is I could get cats again.
[00:03:41] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes.
[00:03:41] Denine Zielinski: Kind of sort of went a little overboard, just kind of, you know, adding to the cat collection. Um, but yeah, my last one was last year, about a year ago. I found one on the highway, just probably August the fifth. It was, I found my last cat in the middle of the highway in the morning. And what do you do? You pick it up and you take it home.
[00:04:04] Jennifer Wilson: That's for sure. Well, I'm glad you have, you know, companions, especially in this season of life.
[00:04:09] Denine Zielinski: Yes, absolutely. Well, I'll tell you what, they are great companions, just probably like anyone who has any animal as a pet. Um, and so it does make the house a little bit more active than it would be if I was a true empty nester.
[00:04:21] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . So we always like to ask our guests what's exciting them right now. So I would love if you shared one thing inside of scrapbooking and then one thing in other aspects of your life.
[00:04:34] Denine Zielinski: Okay, well, other aspects of my life, um, I would have to say, and I know this is probably going to sound odd to some people, I'm kind of excited about going back to work. Um, I love the summer, I love the free time. It's wonderful, but I crave structure, so, I'm looking forward to getting back into that everyday routine. Um, I've already started getting myself prepared and I, I, I like, I like my job. I like what I do. So doing it again, you know, there's no doubt I do need a break at the end of a school year, but going back at the end of August, I feel rejuvenated and yeah, I'm looking forward to it. I started working on some school stuff yesterday and I, it, it kind of made me go, this is good. I like this. So the outside of scrapbook, that may not seem like the most exciting thing in the world. But, being that I like structure so much, knowing that I have that coming back into my world is very exciting to me. So that's definitely on my list. Um, fun stuff in my real life right now. Just kind of planning a trip to see a couple bands in the future. You know, nothing big, no big vacations at all, but just weekend trips. So that's outside of scrapbooking.
[00:05:54] Jennifer Wilson: Now I'm curious, um, over the summer, how does your scrapbooking kind of motivation, quantity, maybe even quality, how does that shift compared to during the school year?
[00:06:05] Denine Zielinski: Oh, I do so much over the summer. It is it, it's what I do. It's what I do. I am here all day and everyone I know is working. Everyone I know is working and I am here and I have the opportunity to just do so much more than I get to do during the school year. Um, I did a couple things this summer with YouTube videos with stamping.
[00:06:32] Denine Zielinski: I work on an album that documents the summer. There's just more time for me and my, I definitely feel more creative when my mind is not filled with all of the everyday minutiae of being a teacher. Um, I, I just feel my mind is more open. I have so many ideas and, um, it's great. It's great during the summer to have all the ideas, but I definitely, um, don't get to execute all of them.
[00:07:00] Denine Zielinski: So I do keep a little notebook and I'm, I'm always writing down things that I know I may not have the chance to think about when school starts. I could always go to my little journal. What ideas did I have? I'll do little sketches and I'll write little, little blurbs down, and so the summer is completely different. It's nothing like the school year when it comes to scrapbooking and being creative.
[00:07:26] Jennifer Wilson: I, uh, I've heard that a lot from so many teachers and I think, uh, there's kind of that special group of those who do work in schools or have otherwise kind of seasonal work like that, where they come together over the summer and are also trying to like, create that structure so that they can be productive with their time and get a lot of scrapbooking done when they, when they have it. So.
[00:07:49] Denine Zielinski: I think that's what ends up happening. I do create my own structure. And it's, it's a little different 'cause it's my structure, so it's, it's more fluid than it would be if I were in school. You know, classes start at this time, they end at this time, so this is more my structure, but I do have to have something. So I will let myself, you know, get up in the morning and scrapbook until a certain time. And then after that it's . Uh, I still have to do life things, right? need in the house. I still need to do the laundry. All of those things are still here for me, but I, I also get to, you know, make those hours for myself. And so it gives me that opportunity to be more flexible and I kind of ride that creative wave. So if it's a day when I'm feeling super creative, it's okay for me to spend more time being creative at my desk with scrapbooking. And then some days when I'm not feeling creative, I might not sit down at all. Maybe I'll, you know, clean my closet or I'll go out shopping or something. So, you know, it's, it's, it's nice to have you, it's kind of like being your own boss, I guess.
[00:08:55] Jennifer Wilson: Now, what's the one thing that is exciting you inside of scrapbooking right now?
[00:08:59] Denine Zielinski: Inside of scrapbooking. Um, I'm excited right now, I'm actually working on, um, another class to teach. So, um, being a teacher, this is combining two of my absolute favorite things ever. Teaching and scrapbooking. And being able to have the opportunity to do that is so exciting to me. Uh, if I could find a way to explain something to people. It's just, I think it's in my nature. I, when I'm at school, when the kids have the light bulb go on over their head and, and they finally understand, that's my joy. And when I get to make scrapbooking classes, and I only have ever done one. But I like it because I get to do two things that I love. So I'm working on my second class right now, and it is, I find it to just, it's, it feeds my soul. It just feeds my soul and it's so enjoyable. So right now, that's, that's where I'm focusing my energy.
[00:10:04] Jennifer Wilson: It sounds so fun. I love we can find those overlaps in our life between our, our passions.
[00:10:09] Denine Zielinski: It is, it is. It's, it's great because it's, it's, it's, it's definitely something that I never thought I would do. 'Cause I was always afraid. I'm like, I can't do that. People make scrapbooking videos about how to do things. I could never do that. And I guess I kind of found out that I could, and it wasn't as hard as I thought. And so then I've just kind of, I love it. I love it, and I'm definitely hoping for more opportunities in the future to be able to do more because it's, it's, it, it brings me joy. It really brings me joy.
[00:10:41] Jennifer Wilson: That's so wonderful to hear. Now I'm also curious about your memory keeping bucket list. So this is where you keep your stories that feel really important to tell, and for one reason or another you haven't told them yet. Sometimes it's 'cause they feel too big or too complicated or. Maybe just not a priority. So do you have a story that you really wanna tell?
[00:11:04] Denine Zielinski: I do actually. Um, And it's one of the things that I've, I've focused on over the past several years has been to tell some of the harder stories. Um, as long as I've been doing this, I think when I look back in my albums, there's always the stories, you know, the wonderful things, the, the events and the um, the celebrations. And the milestones and all of those great things, and they are absolutely a part of our life and they absolutely have a place. But I think through the years, when I look back, I wonder, you know, looking back on my albums from the early two thousands, my son, when he was young, I wasn't really telling the whole story. I was telling the good parts of the story. And consciously I don't think I made that decision. I think it was just thinking this is scrapbooking. I'm taking pictures. And I wasn't really thinking about the story. I was just thinking, here are the photos and what do I have to say about them? And so now I kind of have come into the, the, the point now where I'm like, there's. There's some stories that may not be so easy to tell, but they're me and they have a place. So, um, I do have, um, about, I think it's five years ago now. Um, in August of 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I started a a journal. And I kept all of the pieces of the process and all of the pieces of the journey in this journal. And I saved appointment cards and I saved gifts and, and cards from people and all kinds of things. And, and I, I was determined that I was going to tell that story, and that was in the beginning of my journey. And then as the journey went on and I got sicker, that became something that I just couldn't face. I couldn't do it, and that journal has sat now since then, I, I pulled it out in the spring and I thought I need to do something with this. I think I'm good. I think I need to, uh, pull out all of these notes. Um, I am a big person for doing, um, talking to my phone, in the notes app.
[00:13:21] Jennifer Wilson: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:22] Denine Zielinski: I do that all the time. Uh, if there's something I wanna say, I, I just dictate it into my phone. And so I have a ton of those in my phone. And I have this whole journal with all of these, you know, I don't wanna say ephemera, 'cause ephemera kind of sounds like something you, like a ephemera reminds me of a good event. Right. But it is ephemera, I mean, it's, it's all the pieces. It's, it's doctor appointment cards and all of these different things, instructions and notes that my mom had written down. All of those things have been sitting there and I started going through them and I thought, it's time. It's time to tell this story. And it's been a part of my scrapbooking through the years, but little blurbs. Little pieces. Right. Now I want to sit down and just, you know, from day one, because I did journal daily, um, from day one, I want to tell that story. So, um, that's on my bucket list. And I have started to put those pieces together and it feels good. It's not always easy, but I survived and I'm here. And so the good news is that, you know, I made it through that journey and so now I can look back and, and reflect upon, you know, how it was and how it affected me as a person because it changes your life. I mean it changes your thought process. It, it, it changes everything. And so I think it's gonna be good now maybe to have the pieces that, um, I wrote down then at that time, and then also now being able to reflect upon that. It's a different mindset, right? It's two different viewpoints. When did you tell your story? Your story could be very different from, you know, the story you tell when you're in it. And then when you're done with it. So, looking forward to that a lot.
[00:15:10] Jennifer Wilson: I am curious if kind of reaching the five year milestone, uh, was part of what shifted you into to thinking it was the right time to tell the story?
[00:15:20] Denine Zielinski: Um, that might be the case. And it's funny that you should say that because the particular type of cancer that I had was one of those that if it's coming back, it's coming back in five years. That's what the doctor had told me. It's the kind that, you know, some, some different types, um, come back 20 years later, but not what I had. Mine was, if you make it through the first five years, your, your odds of never getting it again get significantly higher. And maybe subconsciously, maybe when he told me that right, he said that to me this year I'm releasing you. Um, you can come back every year if you want, just to make yourself feel better, but you are no longer a act, an active patient. I think, you know, I didn't think about that, Jennifer. That's, thank you. That is awesome to put those two pieces together, which also could be, um, another part of the story that I tell, right. That, know, I wasn't, yeah, I wasn't realizing that those two things were connected, but absolutely, definitely a, a connection where I wasn't consciously thinking, I'm gonna pull this book out, but knowing that, um, you know, I was reaching that milestone that I, I said Okay. I think, I think I'm good now, so, absolutely.
[00:16:32] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I'm just, I'm celebrating that, that you're here.
[00:16:34] Denine Zielinski: Oh, me
[00:16:35] Jennifer Wilson: Are able to tell the story, so.
[00:16:37] Denine Zielinski: I celebrate that every single day. You have no idea. Every single day I celebrate the fact that I'm here, just ev everything from the littlest of moments, even on the bad days, I'm like, well, today kind of stinks, but I'm here. So, and that's, that's a part of one of, I, I'm not sure that saying something, A lot of times people look at me weird when I say, you know, something good that came from having cancer. Some people will give me a strange look, but there are a lot of good things in my life that came from that. And one of them is it really changed my outlook and my mindset in such a positive way. Um, and obviously it's because I made it right. So again, my story is my story, and we all have a different story. Um, that's one of the things they tell you when you're sick is don't, don't sit down and compare notes with people. You, you can't do that. It's, it's, it's your story. You know, there's no two stories that are the same. But in my story, um, I just took a lot of positive things away and, and so it did change me. And, and so that is definitely something that, um, I would write about. I would write about that, for sure. And I, I'm going to, I love when I have conversations like this 'cause it, it really does help me to kind of work my way through and I always come up with different ways to approach stories when I have these types of conversations. So thank you. That's awesome.
[00:18:02] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, that's why I love doing this podcast. That's, you mentioned earlier like thinking like why would you or, or could you ever do YouTube? And I felt the same way about doing a podcast because in real life I'm a super hardcore introvert. I'm a little bit shy, but I'm comfortable talking about subject matter I'm familiar with.
[00:18:20] Denine Zielinski: Yeah.
[00:18:21] Jennifer Wilson: Podcasting is easy.
[00:18:23] Denine Zielinski: And that's, that's funny that you would say that because I've been listening to your podcast as well as a few others, and, and I sit there and I go, hmm, that seems like something fun to do. I am still at the point where I think to myself, well, I don't think I could be in charge of that. Like it's one thing to be a guest, but to actually be in charge is a little scary. But it's another example of how we, we don't know what we're capable of until we just get right down in it. And, and so yeah, it's, it's definitely, um, it's, it's another way of being creative as well. And you're talking about something that you enjoy and yeah, I could probably talk.
[00:19:01] Jennifer Wilson: Inspired for sure.
[00:19:02] Denine Zielinski: Yeah, This I could talk about this forever. So I always say just, you know, shut me up whenever you want. 'cause I just keep going.
[00:19:10] Jennifer Wilson: So this is a My Way episode. We're, we're really like peeling back the curtain on what makes you tick as a scrapbooker. Um, right now at Simple Scrapper, we're talking specifically about projects. How do we finish projects? How do we start our projects so that we can finish them and have fun along the way? How do we kind of turn, you know, a series of activities into a project? But I'm curious what has been successful for you in getting projects finished?
[00:19:35] Denine Zielinski: Honestly, My personality itself, I just, I'm not okay with most things being not done. And again, I can't do everything and I can't finish everything. But when I put my mind to it, I will tell myself, you will have this done. And I give myself a deadline. It's kind of like a challenge. I, I guess I sort of challenge myself, like, uh, my best example would be December Daily. Which is going to be starting soon, and I could feel myself already getting so excited about it. Um, but that's just an example. Like I tell myself, you have until the end of January. You're not gonna let this linger on any longer because I know that if I do, it, it could potentially fall by the wayside, which is okay and, and there is no urgency to it. But my personality just would have such a hard time walking away from that project, that's not done. So it's like a self-imposed deadline usually works pretty well for me.
[00:20:41] Jennifer Wilson: Have you always been that way? Has that, did you have to learn that strategy or you know, can you think back to the childhood years and and you could see yourself doing that as well?
[00:20:51] Denine Zielinski: Yeah, I think I've been doing that my entire life. I, I just, I think it's just been, it, it's a part. I just think it's a part of my personality and, um, it doesn't mean I get everything done. Because in life we do need to learn to let some things go. That's a fact. As much as we would all love to do it all in our, in our home life and in our work life and in our, our, our personal lives and craft lives, we, we have to let things go for our own sanity. And so I think what happens, you know, with a lot of people is we learn to prioritize what is the most important thing to me in all of these different realms. And, you know, I think I kind of plan for December Daily. Like they start talking about in August and my mind already thinks, okay, gotta clear some things off the plate in order to be able to enjoy the process of working on it so that it's not something that becomes stressful. 'Cause I mean, this is our hobby after all right? We're supposed to enjoy it.
[00:21:51] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, I feel like there are, um, , I have jokes sometimes that there are, uh, what is it, eight months in the year. There's the first seven and then there's December Daily.
[00:22:02] Denine Zielinski: It's so funny, but it's true. And I've only done December Daily for three years. But I have to tell you, there's a part of me that thinks, why didn't I do this before? I was really intimidated by it. I was, I was completely terrified of December Daily. I would watch everybody, you know, from the stands. I would be that person up in the stands all the way in the nosebleed section, watching everybody enjoy it and going, I can't do that. There's no way I can do that. And I think it was the pandemic, the year it was 2020. And you know, we were all kind of home. Um, not doing as much. And there was a part of me that said, maybe this is the year to try this. Maybe, maybe I could do it. And um, I did it and I went, wow, that wasn't so scary. And I liked it. So this will be my fourth year. This will be my fourth year. So that's a good way to look at it though. There's eight months in the year. It's true. And it's wonderful though that we have such an amazing community who gathers around the project.
[00:23:08] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:23:08] Denine Zielinski: It's one of my favorite parts, actually.
[00:23:11] Jennifer Wilson: It's, it's surprising to hear that you felt intimidated because I have a number of your pages from then that first year, like saved in my Instagram because they were things that I wanted to try in the future. So you definitely were able to, jump in and succeed easily.
[00:23:26] Denine Zielinski: Well, thank you. But, and, and I, I just, I don't know what it was. I, I just, maybe it was the thought of keeping up, right? Because I'm not the fastest scrapbooker in the world and I just kind of felt like, well, I have to do something every day. But I think just again, the community involved in this project, everybody has a different perspective and people sharing their thoughts and talking about how, you know, right now people are starting this done by December thing. Um, it's kind of like, I guess the way to explain it to me at least is we know we're not alone, right? As soon as you know that there's other people who you know, feel the same as you, you start to feel more comfortable. You're like, good. Okay. I'm not the only one who feels the pressure. Okay? Not everybody finishes, okay. I don't have do a page every day and I don't have to do it about what happened that day. I think all those chains kind of, I, I threw off all those chains once I connected with so many people in the community. And that made me feel like, okay, I'm good. I could do this. So I, I can't, they had a poll. The other, there was a, um, they had a, an, um, an Instagram chat, so to speak, uh, last week on December Daily on the Instagram account. And they had done a poll, and one of the polls was, what's your favorite part? And my answer was, the community, because I love the projects. And, and I love, you know, different projects. I love the products, um, and I love the scrapbooking, but I'm going to do that in one way or another no matter what. I'm doing that all year, whether it's Week in the Life or just regular pages. But this is just a project where people just come together and I love everything about it.
[00:25:18] Jennifer Wilson: There's definitely a, like a, just such a groundswell of energy regardless of how you're approaching the project. You know, small, large, minimal, absolutely not minimal . Um, and that has just been fun to see it evolve over the years
[00:25:34] Denine Zielinski: Do you do December Daily?
[00:25:37] Jennifer Wilson: I have, yeah, I've done it 2010. I have through 2021 finish. I haven't finished last year's yet.
[00:25:44] Denine Zielinski: That's okay. Remember, it's you, you, do you. That's what we say. You do you. When we were in school, we say that you do you. Because you know not what, like me finishing by January has nothing to do with anyone else. Right?
[00:25:57] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:25:58] Denine Zielinski: So, and that's fine. And I have to be honest, I love finishing by January or inside of January, but I'm going to be honest and tell you that when people start doing the done by December thing, now I get a little jealous. And I'm like, Ooh, they're having so much fun already with December Daily. And I'm done. So that's when I, my mind starts thinking, well, I can probably start doing some of those foundation pages, right? Because.
[00:26:25] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:26:26] Denine Zielinski: You know, I want to I want to, you know, soak up that, that enthusiasm that people have and I wanna join in. And so, yeah. Um, I get a little jealous that people aren't done yet, so I'm jealous of you.
[00:26:42] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think this time of year, like it's such a good time to look at your stash and yes, use it to finish things that you need to finish, but to also leverage it to figure out how you wanna use more of that this year and make intentional shopping decisions. 'Cause there will always be more really pretty things to buy and how can we combine those together with some of the things we already have too.
[00:27:08] Denine Zielinski: There's always more stuff, right.
[00:27:10] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.
[00:27:11] Denine Zielinski: And there's always going to be more stuff than we can ever use. And I have fallen into that. Where I've been like, I need everything. I have to have everything.
[00:27:22] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, me too.
[00:27:24] Denine Zielinski: We probably, it, I don't know of many people who don't have a stash of stuff for any occasion when it comes to scrapbooking. But I do, I, I agree with you 100% in that this is the perfect time to start going through, will I use this? And if I do, how will it be incorporated with some new stuff that I'm going to purchase? Um, because if I'm not going to use it, then maybe somebody else can.
[00:27:52] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, especially like I have a bunch of embellishments and even some papers from like the 2013, 2014 kits, and I'm like, if I haven't used those yet, I, they must not resonate with me. They must not click or be my style. So maybe it's time to let some of those things go.
[00:28:08] Denine Zielinski: Yeah, sometimes I find it hard to let things go.
[00:28:11] Jennifer Wilson: I know, I know. Yeah.
[00:28:13] Denine Zielinski: I do, and I have actually found things within my drawers of my desk and such that have been many years old. As a matter of fact, I found some of these little clips from Making Memories, and they had to be from like 2008, 2009 that I still had, and I, I actually used them. I did, I actually used them and I went, wow. I used something that's like 15 years old. I'm, I'm awesome. This is great. But other things I know I won't. Like you said, I think you kind of know it's like your closet, right? You go into your closet and you uh, you look in your closet and go, I haven't worn that in three years. Why do I still have that?
[00:28:50] Jennifer Wilson: It is usually some sort of like guilt attached to it.
[00:28:53] Denine Zielinski: Yes, yes. Or the, uh, not the fear of missing out, but the fear of wanting it next year and going for it, and it's gone. And so, you know, I, that's, I think sometimes we are fearful of getting rid of it. Well, what if this comes back into style? What if people start using this for scrapbooking again, and I get rid of it and then I have to go rebuy something. So, um, yeah, I think sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and just, be harsh and just purge. And so I actually started doing that with December Daily. 'Cause um, I know a lot of people will go through their product right after they're done. Like, let's pretend that I finish in January. I don't go through the product, then I just, just put everything away because I don't know at that point if I'll use it again. And so I think I'm a little better at doing it this time of year when I am looking at it going okay, these are new eyes. Now I'm looking at this with new eyes and I know I won't use that. So, um, that's, I pulled my boxes out just the other day. I, I'm getting ready. Can't wait.
[00:30:01] Jennifer Wilson: So let's go back in time a little bit. You, I think you said you started scrapbooking 23 years ago.
[00:30:07] Denine Zielinski: Yeah.
[00:30:07] Jennifer Wilson: How, how did you get started?
[00:30:09] Denine Zielinski: I just remember I was, before my son was born, I used to do wood crafts and I used to go to craft shows and sell my wood crafts and, you know, those country crafts that people would make and, and it was my hobby. I've always done something like that. And when he was born, the room that I used to cut wood in the big messy basement room, we had to remodel the whole basement, so that I could move my bedroom and he could have my bedroom. So that was the end of that hobby. And so I started kind of looking online like, what can I do? And I actually started with, um, I discovered paper piecing on eBay. Where I, you would, you know, get an outline. And I remember, I think they were called Precious Moments. Um, my mom used to have a bunch of figurines, but they used to have coloring books of these Precious Moments. So you would take them and you would use the coloring pages as a template and you would cut all the little pieces out in different colors, and then you would just glue them back together and people would make these and sell these on eBay. And I fell in love with them, and then I realized that they were attached to scrapbooking, right? Because people were buying these in order to embellish their pages. And that kind of just took me right into the scrapbooking world. I just, um, discovered, um, online all of the wonderful things that you can do with memory keeping and the products, and I just fell in love. And so that was a substitute for wood crafting when I wasn't able to to do that any longer. And that was in 1999. So I've always, I've never had a room until recently. Um, but I had a little, I, everybody knows those little carts. I had a little cart with all my stuff on it, and I pushed in the corner of the dining room and sit at the dining room table. And it just became, it just became a passion. And I've been doing it ever since, with the exception of one year when I didn't feel well. And I kind of was like, I, I can't do this right now. But other than that, It's just, it'll be 24 years and I still love it just as much now as I did then, if not more.
[00:32:24] Jennifer Wilson: How, I'm assuming you're not scrapbooking in the same ways that you did in 1999. Because products and the formats and the sizes are all a little bit different. So can you talk a little bit about the evolution and like maybe major milestones that that shifted things for you?
[00:32:40] Denine Zielinski: Yeah, I think I probably started out, um, with eight and a half by 11 because it was like the normal, regular, um, you know, size of paper, right. Um, it just kind of fit into my life and, um, I was doing, um, oh God, I remember some of them were like these, My Mind's Eye, I think they had these little people and they had these little frames, all these coordinating pieces that you could purchase together. And I was basically just using all of these products and just putting my photos on the page. And that was pretty much it. There wasn't a lot of creativity that went along with it. It was just, look it, I'm getting my photos documented. Um, I did type up my journaling on the computer, um, and I would just cut them out in little squares and, and adhere them to the page. Um, and that was good. Probably for a couple years. And then I moved to 12 by 12 because I thought, look at the size. I could fit so much more stuff on this page. Oh my gosh, this is great. Um, and then eventually I started to see that people were being more crafty. They were, you know, um, combining different elements like ribbon, and they were combining brads and eyelets and they were using different things to cre, they weren't just using these pre-made pieces, they were creating things, pulling other products together. So that kind of became fun for me. I remember tearing paper, um, and using, um, little sanding boards at the edge stand the edges of paper, right? And then it became a, oh my gosh, I could do fonts on a computer. And then I became a font addict, and I had 2000 fonts on my computer. It was so fun. It was fun. It was, it's always been fun. It's always been fun. No matter what's changed. It's always been fun. Um, and then I think eventually I went to the Project Life style because of time, right? The time constraints and the fact that you could be creative, but you were filling pockets and it became a little bit easier. And I think that was around 2013 and that's strictly what I did from 2013, probably. Oh my gosh. Probably until about 2019, it was strictly, only Project Life.
[00:35:05] Jennifer Wilson: What do you think shifted after that? Like what triggered
[00:35:09] Denine Zielinski: I could tell you exactly, I know exactly what it was, Jennifer. I know exactly what it was. I say this all the time. There was a class on the Ali Edwards blog, uh, done by Kelly Ishmael. It was called Empty Nest, New Stories. And she made a traveler's notebook and she was talking about how do I scrapbook now that my nest is empty? And my son graduated from high school in 18 and my nest was empty and everything changed. And I really did have that moment where I thought, how will I go forward doing this? I have no idea how to do this. I don't have any more stories to tell. He's gone. Right. Um, but I took her class and I, I told her in an email more than once, I told her over and over again, you changed everything for me because I was able to now see that I have so many stories to tell and that I can do this. And it could be about me. And I could do a traveler's notebook and there's all these different sizes and there's these, and so yeah, that kind of just, that was the springboard. That was it. Um, once I took that class, I, my, I think it was like this big door just opened and the floodgates just, everything just came crashing in. And I thought, this is great. Look at all this stuff. And so I attribute the fact that I am being so, um, eclectic in what I do. I attribute it to Kelly because she let me, you know, see, um, what I can do with all of the stories to tell.
[00:36:41] Jennifer Wilson: That is so fun. That's such a fun story and.
[00:36:43] Denine Zielinski: It's awesome.
[00:36:43] Jennifer Wilson: It shows like we have to be open to those new experiences, um, and to see how, what they might shift in us.
[00:36:50] Denine Zielinski: And it's, it's like I said about teaching scrapbooking. I never thought I would work in a traveler's notebook. I never, I was like, traveler's notebooks. Oh, how would anybody wanna do that? It looks so complicated. You have to cut things and fit them in that book and oh, that just seems so tedious. I could never do that. But I think you're right. You open your mind and you're just like, I'm gonna give this a shot. Um, and we even made our own travelers notebook. She gave us the directions, and when I made that little book, I went, look at me. I'm awesome. I just made this little book. I made a book. It was so fun.
[00:37:26] Jennifer Wilson: So what sizes or formats are you using this year in 2023?
[00:37:31] Denine Zielinski: I'm, I have albums of everything. I have Traveler's notebooks. I have six by eight albums and I have not everything. I don't have a 12 by 12, um, but I have six by eight Traveler's Notebook. I have nine by 12 and I have the 10 by eight, which is what came out from Ali Edwards with the, um, December Daily, I think two years ago. I think that I do that for the, freedom of being, able to take things bigger if I want to. So if I feel like there's something that deserves a 10 by 8 page, it goes into my 10 by 8 album. So I feel like I'm not restricted, I'm not restricted at all, and I'm not, I'm not the kind of person who has to have everything chronological. You know, the albums are kind of like, this is 2020. This is 2021. That's about as specific as I get because I just love the freedom of just doing whatever I want. Whatever feels right at the moment.
[00:38:35] Jennifer Wilson: If you were to look at maybe a series of your recent pages, whether regardless of size and you know how you're approaching them, is there something that you use or do on most of them?
[00:38:47] Denine Zielinski: Uh, let's see. I know
[00:38:50] Jennifer Wilson: Signature aspect of your style.
[00:38:51] Denine Zielinski: It's funny that you should say that 'cause there's one thing that I probably do on almost every page, and that is add dimension and usually it's with foam squares. I love that 3D kind of t like, it's like tactile. Like when you, when you open up the album, the, these pieces that have the foam squares, they kind of just, well, you can tell they're, they're higher than everything else and it's, it's, it's such joy. Um, I will always find a way to somehow add them into almost everything that I do. Sometimes I think to myself, you need to stop. You're, you're crazy. You have so much foam. I have foam sheets. I have foam little squares. I have foam little circles. I, it's, it's, It's probably my, um, it's my addiction. I, I just think it, it just adds so much to pages, so that for sure. Um, and I'm flipping through my album right now as we're talking and I'm looking going, yep, there it is. Yep. There it is. Yep. Oh, wait. Only one piece. That's all right. That's unusual. Only one piece, but it's there. It's there, and I love it.
[00:40:00] Jennifer Wilson: Is there a particular kind of like brand or product that you always go to for your foam adhesive?
[00:40:06] Denine Zielinski: Uh, my favorite one that I recently found was, and I got it off Amazon. They're actually the sheets, the five by seven foam sheets. That is my new thing, um, because I used to use, and I still have them, so it's not like they, they, they're not, I used to use the ones they were, they're little squares. Um, they're 3D foam squares. I think Scrapbook Adhesives makes them. They come in black, they come in white, um, and they're wonderful. But I would pack the back of an embellishment with like 10 of them. Because I didn't want the embellishment to like, you know how like it might sag in the middle a little bit. I I did not want that. I was not having any of that. That was not happening in my world. So people probably think what is wrong with her? Because the whole back of an embellishment, even if it was a three by three circle, I would fill the whole back of the embellishment with foam squares
[00:40:58] Jennifer Wilson: Okay, so now the sheets help you kind of cover the whole back a little bit quicker.
[00:41:02] Denine Zielinski: So the sheets kind of let me go. Okay, let me get my scissors out. I could cover the whole back of a three by three circle with one sheet, not one sheet, but cutting out that exact size from a sheet. And so I just recently discovered that probably in the spring. And that is what I use. And I just went on Amazon and I looked up foam sheets. And it was, it was a, a game changer for me. It was an absolute game changer, and I'm, I'm thrilled that I found them. I am thrilled that I found them.
[00:41:33] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, fun. I will definitely include the link for that in the show notes.
[00:41:36] Denine Zielinski: Yes, I should get that.
[00:41:37] Jennifer Wilson: Don't think I tried that myself. So,
[00:41:38] Denine Zielinski: No, seriously, I could get you the link because I, of course, in my Amazon account because, you know, it's one of those buy again things. You know, where you go and you're like, buy again, buy again, buy again, buy again, buy again. I, I, I buy it all the time. And because it's Amazon, I don't have to pay shipping. I have Amazon Prime, so, you know, I used to, when you'd have to, years ago when they didn't offer free shipping, you know, I'd put stuff in my little cart at whatever store it was, and I'd wait until I got to the free shipping point because I'm like, I'm not gonna pay shipping. I'm going to wait. I'm going to save all these scrapbook products in the cart, and when I hit $75 or $80, then I'll. I'll now with, with a lot of places, and especially with Amazon, forget it. I could buy a pencil and have it shipped for free, so, but I'll get you that link. Absolutely.
[00:42:26] Jennifer Wilson: Sounds, sounds good. Sometimes I get nervous about smaller things because the smaller it is, I feel like the more likely it gets like shoved in a weird spot in the truck and it doesn't come on time, or you never get it, or I don't know. then again, like I will load up my car and try to order multiple things and get they all, or shipped separately so it doesn't matter anyways.
[00:42:47] Denine Zielinski: Well, and that's just the thing because I don't, I mean, again, I, I, I'm a big Amazon person. Um, I will load up my cart because there's things I need. And you're right, they'll be like, this ships this day, this ships that day. That, so you don't know how they're coming to you. But I will say, knock on wood and I'll knock. Um, I've been very fortunate and if something has gotten lost, they have always honored and, you know, fixed it for me. So, um, I just, I just, uh, I swear by Amazon. Um, I know you can't get everything from there, but you can get almost anything from there.
[00:43:22] Jennifer Wilson: That's for sure. So is there something inside of our hobby that you have decided is not for you? Like, tried it. I'm good.
[00:43:32] Denine Zielinski: Oh, what is not for me? Um, gosh, I, I am trying to think. I yeah, I, I knew you were gonna ask that because I've been listening to your shows and, and I'm thinking what's not for me? Um, and I don't really know, uh, anything in like, anything specific. But one thing I can say that's not for me in terms of, um, like more general is just plain, flat out digital scrapbooking.
[00:43:58] Jennifer Wilson: Okay.
[00:44:01] Denine Zielinski: I need to touch, I need to feel, I need to hold and cut and glue, and I will start out my pages in Photoshop Elements. I will design them in Photoshop Elements. I need to print things out and I need to play. And so I, I, and then what people do digitally when they are full digital is amazing to me because they've mastered the art of making digital things look like physical things. And that, to me is amazing because they, they add the drop shadows and mean, it's amazing. It's amazing. But yet, I can't buy into it because I need, I need to, I need to touch it. I need to play. And so it's a general theme, right? It's not a specific thing, it's just generally the, these, these solely digital scrapbooking is just something I can't, yeah, it's something I can't do. I just, um, I don't know.
[00:45:00] Jennifer Wilson: I get it.
[00:45:01] Denine Zielinski: I've, tried it in the past and I actually years ago, years and years and years and years ago, and they used to have these scrapbook magazines and you could submit your stuff for publication. I actually did it a couple times and had a couple of those pages published, but it was just never something that, that it didn't steal my heart. Let's just put it that way. I'm not in love with it.
[00:45:23] Jennifer Wilson: That's totally okay. I love how we have so many different choices today, depending on what our needs are, what our preferences are.
[00:45:30] Denine Zielinski: Absolutely. The, the, the variety of ways that we can do things and, and you know what, we hear this all the time, but there is no right and there is no wrong. It's what's right for you.
[00:45:39] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:45:40] Denine Zielinski: What do you wanna do? What makes you happy? What feeds your soul? You can pick and choose. You could leave things behind. You could start something new. Uh, there recently on Instagram, they had that Fodder Challenge with mixed media. And, and, and I have dabbled. Um, but if I wanted to pick that up and try it again, I can do that if I don't want to, I don't have to. There's just so many. There's, I've see people doing planners. I don't know if you do planners or not. How, how cool is that? How cool is that? I can try that if I want to. Right. I mean, I'm afraid to go there because I, my personality is just a little addictive and I, I, I, I don't wanna bite off more than I could chew, but I watch people do things and I go, that is so cool.
[00:46:28] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, I can tell that you're not a toe in the water person. You're, uh, just, we're gonna jump in and.
[00:46:33] Denine Zielinski: Yeah.
[00:46:34] Jennifer Wilson: Make a big splash.
[00:46:35] Denine Zielinski: And, and, and I make a big splash and then I start drowning. 'Cause I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm trying to do everything at one time and I can't do it all. And you know, but, but yet I get, I get excited is what happens. I get super excited and I just go, let's do it. And so I think sometimes I have to stop myself and it's like the inner 14 year old in me is like the running ahead going, come on mom, let's go, let's go. And I'm going slow down. Think about this first. Is this where you really wanna go? You know?
[00:47:04] Jennifer Wilson: That was me yesterday looking at Halloween supplies, because I've done October. I've done a series of October Daily pages once in six by eight. I didn't do a whole album, but every year I look at the supplies, I'm like, oh, am I gonna do an October Daily? And I'm like, no, you don't need to do this.
[00:47:20] Denine Zielinski: Mm.
[00:47:20] Jennifer Wilson: Um, if you wanna do October journaling, you could do that in your journal and use like Halloween-y stickers, but you don't do a whole project. Um, so I had to talk myself off that ledge yesterday.
[00:47:31] Denine Zielinski: I was going to say, that's what it is. You said it, you hit the nail right on the head. I have to talk myself out of it. I have to sit there and go, because I'm the same way. Like you walk into Hobby Lobby now, like we just got a Hobby lobby. This spring. I never had one near me before. So now this is dangerous because.
[00:47:47] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yes.
[00:47:48] Denine Zielinski: I had to travel about an hour to get to the nearest Hobby Lobby. So that kind of kept me away because I was like, well, I'm not gonna be driving all the way up there. But now it's right in my backyard. I could stop there to pick up one thing and well, you never pick up one thing at Hobby Lobby. So.
[00:48:03] Jennifer Wilson: No.
[00:48:04] Denine Zielinski: You don't ever. Just like Target, never pick up one thing there either. Um, but yeah, so now I go into Hobby Lobby and they have all the Halloween stuff and I'm going, well, I've never done October Daily, but people do. And look at that cute little witch. She's adorable. Oh my gosh. You know, like I, I find myself having to say, no, stop it.
[00:48:23] Jennifer Wilson: Yes.
[00:48:23] Denine Zielinski: Take it easy. So.
[00:48:25] Jennifer Wilson: I also have to like remember that I have other non scrapbooking projects that I wanna spend time on. Um, and some of that is like, is decorating and displaying photos in my homes, like other things that are, you know, very tangential, but connected to memory keeping.
[00:48:42] Denine Zielinski: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:43] Jennifer Wilson: I have to remind myself that those things count too. Not just, you know, a, a finished page or a finished album.
[00:48:51] Denine Zielinski: Exactly, and, and we, you know, we have different parts of our lives where there's different things that, like gardening in the summer, right? You want to be able to go out, at least I love to plant my flowers. I love to look at my flowers. I plant some vegetables. That's enjoyable to me. I can't be, I can't allow myself to be all consumed by one thing. We have to kind of diversify a little bit. So, you know, uh, you have to pick and choose, like I said earlier, pick and choose what is most important to you in all aspects of our lives. Like, what are we doing now? Um, there was a time when I don't, well, um, I can't even remember what it was called, but, um, I used to play iPad games on my iPad, right? These little apps and these little games where you'd farm or whatever. And
[00:49:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, Farmville. I did that very.
[00:49:38] Denine Zielinski: There you go.
[00:49:39] Jennifer Wilson: In the, uh, late, I don't know, two thousands, like 2008 to 2010 ish.
[00:49:45] Denine Zielinski: You are 100% correct. That's exactly what it was. And I remember I got into that and I would get up in the morning and I would do my farming, you know.
[00:49:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.
[00:49:55] Denine Zielinski: It was a part of something that brought me joy at that time. Um, I don't do it anymore, but it was something I had to let go. I'm like, I have to leave something, go. This is one of those things. So we kind of move around. Right. I'm glad that scrapbooking has stayed with me for all these years because there are a lot of little things like that that have not stayed with me. So, you know, I guess it depends on, like you said, what is the most important, what do we, what do we value the most, uh, and what do we need to keep and what do we need to, you know, put aside and maybe pick up at some other time?
[00:50:24] Jennifer Wilson: Uh, so on that note, where would you like your scrapbooking to be in 10 years time?
[00:50:29] Denine Zielinski: I want to still be doing it. That is what I know for sure. Absolutely. 100%. Um, I want it. I wanna tell my story and I, I have just really gotten to the written part of it a lot. It has been very valuable to me over the past five years to write things down. So I'm hoping that in 10 years from now, if I'm not still playing with all the products. That's okay. Uh, I'm hoping that I'm still getting the words down and getting the photos taken. And if that's where I end up, I will be okay with that because even though the hobby part of it and the products and the community and all of that stuff, even though that is wonderful, it's not the most important thing to me. It's what's important is that I can, I love sitting back and reading my journaling. I love it. I'm probably the only person that does because nobody looks at my books. But I love it. I love reading it and, and going, wow, I remember feeling that way. You know? So I, I would like my scrapbooking to continue as long as God willing, and, uh, I hope that my books and my stories live on. Way past me and that one day someone's pulling them out of an attic going, look what great grandma used to do. Um, she was kind of cool, wasn't she? You know? So that's what I'm hoping for.
[00:51:56] Jennifer Wilson: I love that. I love that. And then finally here, what has being a scrapbooker taught you?
[00:52:03] Denine Zielinski: Um, it has taught me that it, it all matters. It's all, it's, it's crazy how all of these little pieces of our lives that might seem inconsequential or that might seem like minutiae. Um, these little pieces matter and it's, I just, I feel like scrapbooking has helped me to appreciate the little things that I wasn't seeing. Um, it helped me to not look at the big picture, but to look at the little pieces. And so now all of those little pieces, they're a story, right. And so all of those stories that maybe in the past, you know, even early on in scrapbooking, before I really started to care so much about the story, I kind of am disappointed when I look at them and go, geez, I only wrote down exactly what was happening there. I wonder how I felt. You know, what was I thinking about that. There was a point in the beginning that I did not do that. And so through the years, scrapbooking has taught me to do that. Right? I don't care how you get it down. Like you had mentioned a journal, um, a planner. Write it down. I have for the past, let's see, from 2015.
[00:53:23] Denine Zielinski: I have all of these little, um, journals and planners where I write what I do every single day, little blurbs. I don't care how mundane it is, I will write little blurbs. What did I do today? I went to the store. I went and visited my dad. I did this, I did that. We went to eat here. Every day I can pull them out from 2015 and I could, if someone said to me, what did you do on November 7th, 2017? I could tell you what I did.
[00:53:52] Jennifer Wilson: That's fun.
[00:53:54] Denine Zielinski: I know I'd sit, I just started doing it the one year, and I do it, I just, it's a part of my life now. When I wake up in the morning, I get the cats fed, I drink the coffee, and I write what I did the day before. And it just has become a part of what I do, you know? if I'm on vacation or something, obviously it becomes a little more difficult, but I still dictate into my phone then. So it's just, yeah, appreciate, appreciate every moment. That's, That's my, my parting thought on what scrapbooking has taught me, right? Every moment has a place and it, it all matters. You might not think it matters right now, but it does. It matters a lot.
[00:54:29] Jennifer Wilson: This has been an awesome discussion. Thank you so much for spending time with me.
[00:54:33] Denine Zielinski: You are very welcome and thank you for having me. It was fun and I just, um, I just hope that, you know, I could help other people to kind of appreciate the, the hobby. And I know we know a lot of people that do, but I do. It's not like I wanna recruit people, but I want people to go, you know what, this really does matter and, uh, what I do matters. 'Cause some people might treat it more like something of a, um, you know, a forbidden, you know, oh, I shouldn't be spending time doing this. But it is good for us. It is good for us to do for ourselves.
[00:55:06] Jennifer Wilson: Can you share where we can find you online? Anything you might have new or coming up later this year?
[00:55:13] Denine Zielinski: Absolutely. Um, I am online at, on Instagram and I am Denine, d e n i n e 2 on Instagram, and I am also denine2 on YouTube. Um, my YouTube channel, um, is something that I just started cultivating this year, so I'm excited about that. Um, and I do have a class that just came out on Big Picture Classes, um, called Authentic Storytelling. And that came out. Yeah, that came out about a week ago, Monday the seventh, I think, of August. And um, I'm actually working on, um, Authentic Storytelling 2 that will be out in January. So, um, having a lot of fun with this hobby. I am for sure.
[00:55:51] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds terrific. We'll include all of those links in the show notes and to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.
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