“WHAT TO WRITE…” Valentine Messages

Today, we’re beginning a new series of blogs that will appear monthly. The topic?

What to Write…

And this month’s subject is What to Write in a Valentine. But before we get to that specifically, we wanted to introduce some thoughts that will work for just about any occasion or life event…from the happiest, to the most formal, to even those that are touched by sadness.

Although there are many ways to express your thoughts and wishes, sending a personal note in your own words somehow means more–no matter what the occasion. But it’s not always easy knowing where to begin. That’s why we’re creating this blog…to help you send the perfect card that not only expresses your thoughts, but helps you stay connected to those important people in your life.

Getting Ready…

Take a few minutes to organize your thoughts and to clarify your intent. Do you want to…

  • Send a wish for a specific occasion?
  • Congratulate or compliment someone?
  • Say “thank you?”
  • Simply say, “You’re a great friend?”
Next, think of what you would like someone to say or write to you…
  • What would they say to make you feel better or happier?
  • To let you know they care?
  • To tell you they think you’re special?
Well, those are probably the very things they’d like to hear from you!

If you’re still not sure what to talk about, here are a few more ideas:

  • Think of something funny, serious, or cute that only the two of you
  • might know about.
  • Remember special memories you’ve shared together.
  • Write a short (or long!) list of words that describe this
    particular person or occasion or both!

How to Begin…

It’s usually helpful to jot down a few ideas first. Reading them over will sometimes spark a new idea or help you to consider other thoughts you may have forgotten.

  • Use simple, everyday language–write it just like you would say it
    and your message will sound warmer and more personal.
  • Be honest–it’s okay to admit that this is a difficult thing to do or that you’re having trouble finding the right words. After all, you’re taking the time to
    express yourself and that’s a sincere gesture anyone can appreciate.
  • Keep in mind, many of the ideas and phrases we’ll be featuring in the months ahead can be used for many different occasions or situations. They can also be used in many ways–in letters, greeting cards, ecards, or notes.
    Or simply add one above your signature or to an ecard for a quick personal touch!

And now to the main feature…

What to Write in a Valentine

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to express 
your loving or romantic soul! Which means you don’t have to just have a significant other to shower with hearts and flowers. Think about all the people around you who bring joy to your life. This is the day to send a little extra love their way, too.

If your valentine is going to a sweetheart, spouse or partner, remind them that life wouldn’t be the same without them. Be real, be authentic, be sweet, be loving. Go for the big words…after all, this is the person who keeps your blood pumping!

  • You’re the best part of my life.
  • You fill my heart with everything wonderful.
  • There’ll never be another you!
  • I’d be lost with you.
  • Loving you just comes naturally.
  • Lucky me–having you to love!
  • You’ll always be first in my life and in my heart.
  • You’re the smile at the end of my day.
  • I love you more than life itself!
  • You make my world a better place to be.

If your valentine is going to a friend, a family member, or perhaps your kids, then try a compliment. Let them know they mean the world to you.

  • You’re the best!
  • You rock!
  • You make me smile.
  • You amaze me!
  • I love you a bunch!
  • I love the way you smile (or sing, laugh, cook, dance…)
  • Everyone needs a friend (or sister, special kid, mom…) like you!
  • Your friendship (or smile, happiness…) means the world to me.
  • You’ve touched my life in a special way.
  • You make my world a better place to be. (Some thoughts work for
    more than one situation!)

Be funny if your relationship is new or one where cracking jokes makes you both laugh.
Be sweet if it’s your mom or your little brother. And it’s okay to simply send a “Happy Valentine’s Day to Someone Special” wish. After all, what your gesture is really saying is how much you care about and value the person you’re sending your card to.

So now that you’re in the mood to write, check your thesaurus for more adoring, caring, sultry, sweet, or funny words about love and send them on to the people in your life today. It’s sure to bring on a smile or maybe even a hugfest. Happy Valentine’s Day!










Beating the Winter Blues

Whether you call it the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it simply means we’re getting mid-way into winter and those gray skies aren’t bringing out the sunniest parts of our dispositions. Well, some of us anyway. But honestly, if you’re feeling a bit slower, a little melancholy at times and you have less energy, you’re not alone. Especially if you’re living in a part of the world that simply gets less sunshine at this time of year, which is basically most of North America, Europe and Asia! As much as we hate to say it, women between the ages of 20 and 40 are also twice as likely as men to have SAD.

Not fair you say? We agree, but there are ways to combat the Winter Blues without having to pack up and move to sunny Florida or Brazil or anywhere nearer the equator! Of course a trip to Rio would really be worth considering! Oh yes, back to the more realistic remedies…

Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Get some sun or at least more light. When there’s a break in the temperature, try getting outdoors more often. Keep your drapes open and your shades up and sit closer to a window. If you’re in a windowless office, try your own version of light therapy…bring in a lamp and use “full spectrum” bulbs that mimic natural light. (It has the same effect as the real thing!)

Work on your new year’s resolutions. A CDC study states that there is a strong link between healthy behaviors and depression. Exercising, eating right, etc. all lead to a healthier you and a healthier you is a happier you.

Be good to yourself. We were only half joking about the trip to Rio. Beside the additional sunshine you’d be getting, treating yourself to something special is often a real pick-me-up. If Rio is out of the question, how about a spa date, a night at the theater, a sporting event or a great movie…anything that keeps you motivated and gives you something to look forward to.

Say “no” to stress. Even in the middle of a sunny summer season, stress is a downer. And while none of us can eliminate 100% of the stress in our lives, we can try to keep it manageable. Getting enough sleep is important, doing something relaxing is essential and, at times, doing nothing can be downright good for us.
You could always sign up for yoga or try a little meditation. Staying in bed with a good book sounds pretty good right now, too!

Say “yes” to winter. If you can’t get away from the cold or snow, why not find a way to enjoy it. There are lots of winter activities to enjoy…skiing, ice skating and sledding to name a few. Again, the more active you are, the less stress you’re likely to feel and the more energy you’ll have.

Stay connected. It’s really important to stay in touch with friends and family during these longer winter months. They offer a great support system and just a chat over coffee or a quick email can usually provide you with just the thing that can brighten your mood. It works the other way around, too. Providing someone else with a cheery word can do wonders for your own well-being!







Valentine’s Day 2013 Sweepstakes!

The best thing to remember about Valentine’s Day is that it makes us take the time to remember the special people in our lives – the ones we care about, love, and best of all, the ones that make us smile from simply thinking about them. Valentine’s Day  is only a couple short weeks away, and we’re here to help you with your gift-giving this year. Enter our Valentine’s Day 2013 Sweepstakes for a chance to win $300 in Gift Cards* to spend on your loved ones, yourself, or anyone you hold near and dear to your heart.

Registering is easy – simply register with your Facebook account or your email address.
Earn up to 20 sweepstakes entries by following the prompts below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Gift Cards (“GCs”) sold by, an authorized and independent reseller of Gift Cards. Except as required by law, GCs cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods on or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. ©,®, ™ Inc. and/or its affiliates, 2013. No expiration date or service fees.



Meet the Artist: Terry Flores

Meet Terry Flores —an assistant art director for ecards. This talented and very busy woman loves her job and her commitment to community work. We’re not sure how she finds time to do everything so well, but she’s clearly dedicated as you’ll see.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

When I was a child growing up in Guatemala I used to love painting colorful things on paper, wood, cardboard, and I loved painting with tempera. I used to watch my mom draw pictures using the grid method and I would copy her.

I realized I was going to be doing a career in art early in my teens, after I painted a copy
of the famous 60’s psychedelic poster of Bob Dylan with rainbow hair created by Milton Glaser. I loved that funky poster so I painted one myself. After that I was hooked on design, working with color and composition. 

Chalk Mural 2011 for Oberlin Chalk walk community event

 What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as an artist?

I ’m an assistant art director for e-cards. I originally got an Associates Degree in window display design. I thought I wanted to make my living creating window displays in Beverly Hills since I lived in L.A. at that time. I later got a degree in graphic design from Kent State University and I was hired by American Greetings to design paper greetings cards. Now I’m designing and art directing e-cards. I continue to take studio art classes on weekends or evenings. Right now I’m taking a portrait painting class.

 Could you tell us some more about your work?

 I do a lot of concept and art direction as part of my job creating e-cards, including managing the talking e-cards for I manage a lot of projects using freelancers as well as in-house staff. I enjoy working in Photoshop, making something new by doing photo illustration and manipulation. I also enjoy doing illustration and design using traditional methods like woodcut, watercolor, photo transfer etc. I really enjoy using multiple mediums and techniques to see my vision come alive when I’m creating art.


“City Scape” wax block printing 

 “In homage to Frida Kahlo” woodcut print

 What is it that inspires you when creating a particular design or graphic piece?

A lot of things inspire me: a sunny day, a beautiful photograph, a funky sculpture, looking at artists’ blogs, looking at the masters for inspiration. I try to challenge myself in every design I create. I think concept and story development are crucial for e-cards. After all, we are creating a 10-second movies.

 What’s your favorite piece/ecard ever created and why?

Well that is a difficult question. I’ve created so many different kind of greetings cards–paper and e-cards–but a few of my favorite e-cards have been collaborations with some of my peers and some where I pushed myself on the concept and design and worked with a great animator to make it come alive. A good example is this beautiful Thanksgiving         e-card. I did the art direction and came up with the concept, designed the type and I worked with two colleagues to make it come alive and it is just beautiful.

 Collaborative e-card  
 Here are a couple that I designed

What famous artists or graphic designers have influenced you?

I look at a lot of different artists when I begin a design. It all depends on the concept. I like looking at the masters–even though it may be a completely different thing I will be making, it gets me inspired to begin my piece. I think that for a while I was obsessed with the work of Seymour Chwast and David Carson. I guess that makes sense since I was trained as a graphic designer. One of my favorite painters is Edward Hopper.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I am inspired by beautiful photography. I browse artists’ blogs, and I am in Pinterest, where there is tons of inspiration all in one place. Whenever I begin a new project I always envision the end result, although it may not end up exactly like my vision since I like to stay open to happy surprises, and at times when I get lost in the process I rely on my colleagues’ insights to help me get unstuck. We have an amazing group of writers, artists and musicians that make it all come together.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I love design and animation has opened new design challenges for me, but I also love the other things I do outside of my job. I think eventually I see myself teaching art workshops for young children. I do that now as a volunteer and it’s very rewarding seeing all the great things children can create when they are given the opportunity and encouragement.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Be passionate about what you do, do what you love, enjoy the little things in life, and surround yourself with talented, genuine people, from whom you can learn. Most important, be open to new experiences.

And finally, what do you do for fun?

I ’m part of a local artist group that participates in the Oberlin Chalk Walk. I love it:  2012 was my sixth year. I also make jewelry for fun, like to travel, and I do Yoga which keeps me sane and fit! 



In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Today celebrates the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., (January 15, 1929—April 4, 1968). This national holiday honors the civil rights leader and his non-violent movement to end racial segregation and his quest to right injustices in the United States.

After graduating from high school at the age of fifteen, King studied at Morehouse College where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class and was awarded his B.A. degreen in 1948 and his B.D. in 1951. He received his doctorate in 1955 from Boston University. It was in Boston where he met and married Coretta Scott and the couple went on to have four children–two sons and two daughters.

He served as co-pastor, alongside his father, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., from 1960 until his death in 1968. His grandfather had been pastor there as well from 1914 until 1931, when his father stepped into the position.

By 1954, King was a member of the executive committee of the NAACP and, in 1955, accepted the leadership of a bus boycott that was the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of its kind. It lasted 382 days until, in December 1956, the U.S. supreme Court declared segregation on buses illegal. Although it was a great victory, it came with many sacrifices. King was arrested, threatened, subjected to personal abuse and his home was bombed, but he emerged an even stronger leader.

His list of accomplishments are great including becoming not only a symbolic leader of the civil rights movement, but a world figure, as well. In addition to traveling over six million miles to spread his message of peace, he led many marches and wrote numerous books and speeches, one of which was his famous “I Have a Dream” address which he delivered to more than 250,000 marchers in Washington, D.C.

At the age of 35, he was the youngest man ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, on April 4, 1968, this great man was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of a hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee.





Don’t Give Up on Those Resolutions…

It’s New Year’s Resolution Revolution Day!

Okay, we’re only two weeks into the new year and yet, some of us need to ask ourselves: how well are we keeping our resolutions? “Just fine,” we say, with our fingers crossed behind our backs. Well, we all know those dumbbells aren’t going to exercise themselves… not to mention, that all of that healthy food we bought isn’t helping if it’s still stuck in the fridge! So, let’s put on some sweats and get busy working up an appetite for that veggie smoothie! Remember, we don’t have to look buff, we just have to keep at it when the going gets tough. We can do it…and we’ll feel better for it, too!

Here’s a little more incentive…a few websites with some great smoothie recipes!



Getting Organized!

Someone once said, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape!” Getting organized can feel like chasing rabbits…it’s time to pick one and go after it!

You can get organized! You just don’t have to tackle every closet, or every room in the house at the same time. If you set some goals, pace yourself, and stick to your plan, you’ll be back in control before you know it. Here are just a few ideas to help you get going.

  • Start with yourself. What is your attitude about getting organized? If life feels like it is always getting away from you, look at why that happens and see what you can change. Set specific goals, look at the appointments on the calendar, and step up to the plate to get things done and learn to say “no,” when necessary, to requests on your time.
  • Make a specific list. Maybe you’d like
    to clean out the garage, or unload some of the closet clutter, or shred those papers in the office you no longer need. Set a priority and a time to get it done. Be easy on yourself. If it’s a time- consuming job, then set a goal for what you’ll do each week to be organized by month’s end. A priority list and a timetable will help you get things organized—one at a time.
  • Enlist help. Determine what other family members can do to help you reach an organization goal. Ask for a specific time and task from each person to accomplish their part. Perhaps someone can hold a garage sale or take items to a resale shop. Plan rewards. A family outing? A favorite meal?
  • Reward yourself! Celebrate each goal you meet. Maybe you’ve wanted new garage lights, but didn’t want to shine a light on the mess. Now that it’s cleaned up, make it glow.
  • Make it fun. As you go through the kitchen cupboards, look at the things you’ve
    collected and remind yourself why you still own that silver platter from your anniversary or that stack of plastic plates with your college insignia on them. One gift is enjoying the memory, maybe evening jotting it down in your journal, and the other is letting go of something you no longer need.
  • Use helpful, organizational tools. Take advantage of useful tools like those offered at We can help you get organized by reminding you of upcoming events and dates that are too important to miss. Simply go to the“Reminders” calendar on the home page, click on “more” at the bottom and then start filling in those things you don’t want to forget throughout the year. (Major holidays are already filled in for you, but you can add others as well.) You can also Share Events with others, Request Events that you’re unsure of (like your Aunt Mary’s Anniversary), add your preferences for notifications and have reminders delivered right to your desktop! It’s one more way we help you stay connected to the ones you care about most.

It’s a New Year…why not make it the one you get organized step by step!

Here are some other sites to help you with your “getting organized” needs:



Healthy Comfort Foods

What do you think of when someone mentions “comfort food?” Mac and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Grilled cheese and tomato soup? Fried chicken? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that the consumption of comfort food by men is often triggered by  positive emotions, while it is often negative ones that trigger it in women—especially college-aged women. Studies indicate that these foods may be eaten to relieve negative psychological effects or to increase positive ones for women. But for both men and women, comfort foods are usually those that pique an emotional response in us—specific dishes that bring back fond memories, usually of our childhoods or specific cultures.

As good as comfort foods may be for our psyches, however, they’re usually not great for our hearts as they’re often high in calories and saturated fats. But there are ways to still enjoy these taste-tempting meals without the guilt. We’ve listed a number of websites here that offer great recipes for comfort food that have had modern makeovers to limit the fat and calories and still keep the great flavors we love. They include other nutritional information as well including diabetic exchanges.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Let us know in the comments section below!





Your January Birthday!

Happy January Birthday, You Youthful “Old Souls”

01032013_bdayAn old soul with youth on your side, you are often considered to be the “salt of the earth.” As a commanding communicator, your presence alone can light up
a room. And at the  same time, you possess a quiet determination.    Your daydreams aren’t far from reality, for your “land of make-believe” is
truly special,
and you are both convinced and  convincing that you can indeed make what you believe in truly happen.


A somewhat monastic sign, Capricorns enjoy their peace and quiet. Solitude can be your sanctuary, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a people-person. Others find you quite dependable. It’s simply that when the going gets tough, you count on your own resourcefulness, determination, and charm! Yes, you do have a certain savvy that endears others to you while allowing yourself to get ahead and maintain respectability. Above all, you are an efficiency expert. You take “making good use of your time and energy” to an a new level.


Those born under the sign of Aquarius possess a mischievousness and spontaneity best spotted by that playful smile and twinkle in their eye. You have a look like you’re up to something, but with the best of intentions. Your credo is: “Plays well with others,” and indeed, you love to play! People, pets, or high-tech gadgets, you’re down with the latest and greatest technology has to offer. Combine your love of all things new with your love of people, and you’re set to make major breakthroughs the rest of us can only dream of, for you know how to turn the dreams of tomorrow into the reality of today!

7-July_cropped_dreamstime_10698596-1January Birthstone

Your birthstone, the garnet, derives its name from the Latin granatum, meaning “seedlike,” as smaller varieties of this precious gem bear similarities to the seeds found in the pomegranate. With its pink and red-hues, it is said to help balance life-force energies, instill passionate feelings, as well as bestow kind-heartedness, health, and charity. A healer of all aches and pains when worn around the neck, garnet carries protective properties, too. When given to others it grants safe passage until their return home.

January Flower

The Carnation, your birth flower, originates from ancient Egypt and stems from the Latin for “flesh,” due to its rosy color. Its namesake is also believed to hail from the Anglo-French “to crown,” as it was used to decorate ancient Greek and Roman crowns. The symbolism behind a carnation depends on the color selected. White carnations confer luck and purity, while pink carnations symbolize gratitude and appreciation. Red carnations convey more intense feelings of love and affection. Like the garnet, the Carnation is known for its healing powers and is used in aromatherapy to help relieve stress and anxiety, among its many uses. More ceremoniously, on May 10, 1908, Mother’s Day founder Anna Marie Jarvis made the Carnation the holiday’s official flower as mothers everywhere were celebrated.

Famous People Born in January

Share your January birthday with these famous people: Phil Collins, W.C. Fields, Janis Joplin, Alicia Keys, Martin Luther King, Jr., A.A. Milne, Suzanne Pleshette, Dolly Parton, Betsy Ross, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kate Middleton, Oprah Winfrey, Mozart, F.D. Roosevelt

Important January 2013 Dates

New Year’s Day 1/1
Solemnity of Mary 1/1
Epiphany 1/6
Inauguration Day 1/20
Martin Luther King Day 1/21
Tu B’Shevat  begins 1/25 at sunset — 1/26

Do you know someone having a birthday this month? You can choose a special greeting from a large offering of birthday ecards at…there’s so many types to choose from including interactive ecards, Create & Print, postcards, talking ecards and so many more!