School Valentines, 2016-2019

We don’t do much to celebrate Valentine’s Day in our family. It’s just not a holiday we celebrate; even back when my husband and I were dating.

With our boys in school now, Valentine’s Day is back on our radar and every year I fully expect my boys to want store-bought, character valentines. It’s been a few years now and they’ve surprised me with wanting something custom-made by their mom. I’m not sure whether to feel used or that I set myself up for it.

The year my oldest was in kindergarten, we missed his party because he only attended school three days a week, and the Valentine’s Day party fell on a day he didn’t attend. I thought I was off the hook with valentines until he went back to school after the weekend and a box of Valentines and treats was waiting for him from his classmates. I felt like a stellar parent.

The next year I knew he would have been happy with character Valentines from Target, but I wanted to do something fun and non-edible since there were a couple of kids in his class with scary allergies. We already had a bunch of bacon bandaids, so I made this little card and printed them onto card stock, then added the bandaid with double-sided tape.

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The following year, my oldest set his expectations high with something fun again and considering the sheer amount of candy he got the year before, I wanted to try and avoid food again. So we went with hand warmers! I took his photo and played with it in an iPhone app called PicsArt. Then I added the background and text in Adobe Illustrator. We stuffed the card and a hand warmer into a some 4-bar envelopes I had left over from a baby shower and done!

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Last year (2018), both kids were now in school and my oldest wanted to use PicsArt again to make some fun photos. I asked both boys to put on a red shirt and they chose the same Manchester United jersey. Then we made their cards with PicsArt, a little Illustrator, and we taped mechanical pencils and Dove chocolate hearts to their cards.

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This year, I was feeling very meh about Valentine’s Day and was all set to hit up Walmart and see what boxed valentines they had left 3 days before their school parties. Then my oldest asked what fun Valentines we were going to make this year and if we could go look on Pinterest for ideas. I couldn’t say no. We searched for non-candy valentines and saw a couple of baggies of Goldfish crackers with a fun, fishing-themed greeting. That was the winner! My boys (especially my oldest) are WAY into fishing right now.

Here’s what we made:

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We already had a box of Ziplock snack-size baggies that we weren’t using much (they’re so small!), so we bought a few big boxes of Goldfish Crackers filled enough for both classes. Then I took photos of each of my kids in good light and re-drew them in Adobe Illustrator, added the cartoon-y fisherman bodies, a less-then-thrilled fish, and Voile! The “Hooked on You” graphic is on one side and the “Fishing you…” graphic is on the other. The only difference is the names and different heads, of course.

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I saved some time (because I created these 2 days before the parties) and had everything printed onto 8.5x11 card stock at my local Office Depot. I trimmed the pages, scored, and then stapled them onto the baggies that my boys filled. I really love how they turned out…. so much that I may add them to my Etsy shop next year that others can customize.

I know there are only a few years where we’ll get to make Valentines for school. I’m pretty sure they stop around middle school. Whether you celebrate or not, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Custom Mason Jar Labels

I love canning. My mom taught me how to make jam when I was a teenager and she learned how from her mom and her grandma. Growing up, we had a plum and an apricot tree in our backyard, so when June and July came around and the fruit was ripe, we'd hurry to pick the ripe fruit before it fell or the birds got to it. Then we'd spend an afternoon cleaning, pitting, crushing and stirring pots of molten sugar and fruit. The reward at the end of the day was the satisfying POP when the jars sealed and snacking on the leftovers. 

If you've never made jam before, it's fairly simple and lots of fancy tools aren't required. I didn't own a water bath canner until this year. I just processed jars in my big soup pot. I don't own a pressure canner either. I love this post and send it to anyone who's interesting in canning for the first time. It's a great place to get the basics. 

Half pint mason jars are my favorites to use, (both in standard and wide mouth, but in late summer, they sell out pretty quickly in my local stores, so I will order from Amazon, and save from having to drive from store to store hoping some are still in stock.

Every year my husband and I typically give whatever we canned as gifts to friends, coworkers and family, so the jars naturally NEED some sort of fun label. I created a couple of new ones this year and I added them to my Etsy shop for purchase.

Thanks to a local friend sharing the wealth of New Haven Peaches on her tree, I made a few batches of peach jam and peach vanilla butter. 

Then I created a few different versions of the label for whatever else someone may be canning. I have watercolor graphics of many, many different fruits and I'll adjust the background color to make sure there's a good contrast between it and the color of the fruit.

This next design I created was a blast to work on and definitely moves toward the non-traditional when it comes to canning labels.

So far I have created similar labels for strawberry and plum jams. I'll create a breakdancing fruit cartoon for whatever kind of jam you've made. 

This "That's My Jam" theme really only works with jam. Jellies, sauces, pickled items won't really work with this design. But I can always create something different with the same font and overall look, like I did for our "Twerkin' Vanilla Peach Buttah." If you'd like to do a custom label like this, just shoot me a message.

Lastly, this is the label design that I created last year. It's printing on what looks like faintly stripped kraft paper with a custom little fruit or vegetable cartoon.

These can be customized for pretty much anything that goes into jars. I can add a greeting to the bottom or not, totally up to you.

I can set these up to be printed on Avery labels, 22807 for standard sized jars or 22830 for wide mouth jars. If you'd prefer to not go with Avery labels, I can squeeze as many on a page as I can and you can print them onto full-sheet sticker paper and the use a circle punch. It's pretty easy.

Links for each label:
That's my Jam
Script & Watercolor
Kraft Paper Cartoons

As always, if you're interested in creating a custom label with fonts, color, verbiage, or anything that's different than these, don't hesitate to send me a message or email. Thanks!

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