Easiest Homemade-ish Valentines

This might come as a surprise to you, but even though I am fully ensconced in my digital domain, and can, under pressure, define various website-wonky terms like “widgets” and “bounce rates” — I really know close to nothing about this world. Beyond following the #1 Law of Food Pictures (shoot in natural light), I really know nothing about photography either. I often click on the FAQ section of my favorite bloggers and tell myself This time I’m really going to pay attention to which lens they use in which scenario. I’m going to remember if my Automatic White Balance should be ON or OFF. But I never do. I’m telling you, I think I have been able to jerry-rig together a decent enough experience for readers, but in relative terms, I am a total technological cretin. Until last week, I didn’t even know how to overlay text on top of a photograph. Seriously, I had NO idea!

But a month or two ago, after someone on facebook linked to a free Photo Editing site called picmonkey, my life has totally changed. (The way I just wrote that entire set-up sounds like I am shilling for them, doesn’t it? I swear I’m not!) All those things that normal people know how to do — make photo collages, design fun invitations for birthday parties, add graphics and borders and thought bubbles — I figured out in about 30 seconds. Me. The Cretin. And pretty soon the kids were all over it, too dreaming up any excuse to upload a picture of our dog Iris and make her talk. So naturally, when it came time to think about Valentines, we spent way too much time exploring the hearts and doilies and filters you can use to make what I believe to be the world’s easiest customized cards. Especially on a day when you are SNOWED-IN and there’s not much else to do while the short ribs are bubbling down.

There are a coupla directions you could go with this. You could overlay your Valentine message on the photo like we did way up top (others in the running: “They Call it Puppy Love,” “I drool over you,” “Will someone be my Valentine? Anyone? Anyone?”), print up as many as you need, and be done with it. Or you could print a blank thought bubble and have the kids fill in personalized messages to each friend. (To print, I inserted the image in a Word Doc, copied it four times, printed, then had the kids cut them out.) You could also just download the blank-message PDFs featuring Iris that I uploaded here. It’s time Iris had her day anyway.

Click here to download a PDF of this four-Valentine template. (If people have suggestions for what Iris should be saying or thinking, feel free to enlighten. My daughter can’t get enough of them.) Warning about this Valentine you see above — the thought bubble is small so it works better for short messages. If you have a longer message, click here for the 2-Valentine PDF. To download the Valentine with the “rolled up sock” message, way up top, click here.

P.S: Last year, a bunch of you asked for a PDF of the Mad Lib Love Letters Andy and I used in our post last year. Last year, when I was still a cretin. Here you go.

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Happy Snow Day!

“Someday my squirrel will come.”


“I <3 you more than squirrels."

"Today the couch, tomorrow your heart!"

erinn johnson

I gotta say, I love the old school mad-libs.
Did you ever get the copper saucepan? or a date at the breslin? After four kids and 24 years I have given up on this day. School parties is all I will be getting (and I think a book fair). Oh well, love.

jessica clare

Jenny, you just changed my life. Seriously. I have been blogging for about 5 years and have never been able to afford to get Photoshop, so my blog has been much less than I wanted it to. Being able to now make collages is so.freaking.exciting. THANK YOU!!!


Oh, Iris. My Rufus would fall for you as quickly as I have, darling girl. I’m pretty sure you are looking out the window saying, “Rufus, oh Rufus. Wherefor art thou Rufus.”


jenny! the heavens opened and angels sang when i read this post. holy crap. i just made my kid’s bday invites on picmonkey. DALS 4EVA!!!!!!!


Anna & Jessica – Amazing, right? I’m totally addicted. Pretty soon every photo on DALS will be all tricked out with frames and photo corners.

Jilanna & Camille – adorable!


I love it – our Boston Terrier Lonny strikes the same pose on our armchair everyday!! Will definitely have to get out the camera next time…now, what lens and setting did you use?!