NOW is the best time

Example of a Saturday card.  Cover message is ...but it's better than to miss a month

Example of a Saturday card. Cover message is
“Another birthday? Well, it’s better to be a year older…”  (inside message) “… than to miss a month.”



Another Hallmark Saturday card:  "Before LOL, TTYL, and OMG..." (inside message)  "...we were BFFS and didn't even know it!  Happy Birthday to my BFF."

Another Hallmark Saturday card: “Before LOL, TTYL, and OMG…” (inside message) “…we were BFFS and didn’t even know it! Happy Birthday to my BFF.”


How many of you have ever created your own greeting card?  Let’s see a show of hands (humor me, okay?)

As a child, maybe you colored flowers or boats on a folded piece of paper for someone’s birthday; or  you learned to print the message GET WELL SOON for a sick friend; or you wrote out coupons on strips of paper and gave them to your mom or dad for Christmas, promising “I’ll clean my room” or “I will not hit my brother.” Remember how much fun card writing was? And as my mom always said, the best cards are the personal ones you make yourself.

Hallmark’s Saturdays card line is your opportunity to make a card, and make some money. So dig out fun or funny or touching photos, color or black and white, and submit them to

Read through the section with all the open contests. To get you started, I’ve shared two of my favorite Saturdays Expressions cards…and their inside message lines, to show you good examples. Hallmark pays for each card, plus other perks, including a small picture of you and a clever bio sketch on the back of the card. Deadlines vary.

Maybe you’d rather write about a true aha! moment or Eureka experience. If so, submit a personal essay up to 1,500 words to the Life Lesson Essay Contest. The deadline is September 18, and first prize in $3,000.   No entry fee.

And for you poets, another no entry fee contest is Princemere Poetry Prize. Deadline is September 15 and first place is $300.

Or, work on your own writing deadline, or a photography, painting, drawing project that isn’t quite finished. Choose your creative endeavor and go for it…NOW.

Why NOW? As I was driving to visit my mom recently, I heard a radio commentator talking about the August 2014 phenomenon. The Chinese call it “Silver pockets full” and supposedly it happens once every 823 years. This month, August of 2014, there are five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays. Check your calendar, and you’ll see.

Supposedly—and there’s absolutely no scientific proof, but it’s certainly a good motivator to get busy—anytime during this month is an excellent time to follow your dreams, finish up your creative projects, expect the best…and encourage your friends to do the same.

Well, friends, what have you got to lose?

This isn't a card, but somebody used a smart concept to create this "fight breast cancer" T-shirt.  (If you don't get it, ask someone to explain it to's great!)

This isn’t a card, but somebody used a smart concept and teen reference to create this “fight breast cancer” T-shirt. (If you don’t get it, ask someone to explain it to you…it’s great!  Here’s a hint: think like a teenage boy on a date.  What does “getting to second base” mean to him?  So it’s a good breast cancer awareness slogan to “save 2nd base.”)


A display of "Saturday" cards by writers from everywhere.  (All photos by Marylin Warner)

A display of Hallmark’s “Saturday” cards by writers from everywhere. (Photos by Marylin Warner)


Filed under art, art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, lessons about life, writing, writing contest with cash prizes, writing exercises

71 responses to “NOW is the best time

  1. What a great idea. I’ll check it out. I have made many cards myself but lately I’ve been using Sendout cards I’ve had fun designing some pretty wonderful cards and everyone who receives one loves it.

  2. Sounds like something for everyone Marylin. The thought of designing cards using old photographs and adding witty sayings sounds quite fun though.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

  3. David, they have a card section of cute baby and toddler pictures, and the tags you already attach to some of Reuben’s adorable pictures would make wonderful cards. And he would see himself on American cards–famous even across the ocean! Hugs!

  4. juliabarrett

    Nothing to lose and I believe in be here now.

    • Julia, have you seen the card line mimicking the covers of old bodice-ripper romances? My favorite is a hot, sucking-face kind of kiss between a pirate and a damsel in distress. There’s a bubble of thought over her head: “Hmm…I wonder if he’s this good with a vacuum cleaner.”

  5. Hmmm…may have to check some of these out. Thanks, Marylin! I always enjoy your writing. !-)

  6. It’s also the ghost month in China. Very scary. A lot of people take it seriously and put out offerings to the hungry ghosts. Or burn offerings. Another excellent motivator.

    • What is ghost month, Andrew? I’ve never heard of it. It is placating all ghosts, or personal ghosts, or just vengeful ghosts? It sounds more interesting but also more threatening than this August’s rare 5 Fri., 5 Sat., 5 Sun. calendar.

      • Here is a wiki link, Marylin.

        This is a short extract:

        In Chinese culture, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. Distinct from both the Qingming Festival (in spring) and Double Ninth Festival (in autumn) in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, during Ghost Festival, the deceased are believed to visit the living.

        On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living.

      • Thank you so much for this information, Andrew. The link is very good, and I especially appreciate your summary. Parts of this have similarities with Greek mythology, but the Chinese customs and processes are fascinating.
        I’ll still hopeful that if I finish writing projects and submissions during August’s “Silver Pockets Full” they’ll have a dose of extra good luck. But the information of the Ghost Festival will surely give me ideas for more writing. Thanks again, Andrew.

  7. Some wonderful opportunities there. I do make cards from time to time. It’s fun to do.

    • As I read through the cards in Hallmark’s Saturday line, Gallivanta, I always look at the name and city/state on the back. In a few minutes I found three from familiar towns in Kansas, and two from Colorado.
      It really triggered ideas from some of my old pictures, especially of dour-faced old relatives who no one remembers who they are any more. Some of the scowls–even on posed wedding pictures–are possible story ideas.

  8. I’d love to try and write a Hallmark card or two! And yes, I have been known to make my own cards but usually they are a photo glued to the front of a plain card. I’ll definitely check this out.
    And so glad there are 5 Friday, Saturdays and Sundays in August. The more to make this last summer month last and last.
    xo Joanne

    • I’m with you on this, Joanne. It would be less exciting to have 5 Mondays, I think.
      So far this has been a lush green August, rare for Colorado and very welcomed after the two summers of fires and floods. So I’m thrilled to have 5 weekends.
      Like you, I sometimes make cards (and also family calendars, one picture for each month) and those personal pictures I wouldn’t send to a card company. But I might consider some of the old high school pictures and candid shots.

  9. We tend to make our own greeting cards it’s always fun. Except when I have to find and print a suitable photo etc for a card we need “right now”.

    Thanks for the links and ideas.

    I think I figured out the baseball reference 😳

    • Good for you, Rod! (on making cards and figuring out the baseball reference.)
      My husband was too literal about baseball at first, until I told him to think like a teenager–what did “getting to second base” mean to a 15-year-old boy?
      Actually, it’s a clever reminder for breast cancer awareness.

  10. The first week I met my husband, artist Cliff, he presented me with an ornate Christmas card revealing he was attracted to me. A week later he told me he was “falling in like.” Because I cannot compete with him in the art department, my home-made cards to him are few and far between, but I’ve made a stab at making some over the years.

    Your first two birthday card examples are first rate. And I love the reference to “Silver pockets full.” When I click on your posts I always know I will be both entertained and educated, a pleasing blend.

    • Cliff is a keeper, Marian. An artist who sends a Christmas card revealing his attraction–and follows it by telling you he’s “falling in like”–sounds like a good man.
      Thanks for the compliments, Marian. You’ve got writing projects going on; will you try to complete any during this rare August to see if the result will be Silver Pockets Full?

  11. You are a doll! Yes, I’ve created my own creating cards…I have just a few photographs that I’ve used…;-) I sell them you know! People like them most because they can be framed. I appreciate the info on the contests and plan to submit! Enjoy your weekend my friend!

    • Brava! Yes, I’m certain your card photographs are very popular. If you’re still selling them and will show some selections on your blog, I’ll be your next customer!
      Enjoy your weekend, too, my friend!

  12. This is really interesting Marylin. You know, I remember when I was a child, I decided to make my mother a greetings card. To be fair, it wasn’t very good, but it made her cry in a bad way – I had good intentions of the kind you mention – that something made is more special than something bought – but she thought I just hadn’t bothered to get her a card and I couldn’t explain that I’d thought it was a good thing 😦 I’ve never made a card since, though I did make all our wedding invitations 🙂

    • Oh, Andrea, I could feel your child’s heartache when your mother misunderstood about the card you made. But the child grew up–without making any more cards–and the woman in love made all the invitations to her wedding. Love is very encouraging and creative.
      How did your mother feel about the wedding invitations?

      • She didn’t get to see them unfortunately, as she died before we got married. We were together for a long time before that though, so she knew I was settled.

      • That’s too bad. Deep inside, I was hoping that it had opened an opportunity to talk about the card you made for her when you were a child–and I was really hopeful she would tell you how proud she’s always been of everything you do, etc.
        The mother-daughter relationship is so complicated sometimes, isn’t it?

  13. This is a great idea.
    By the way, the thing about the dates has been floating around the internet but it is not correct that it happens only every 800 years. It happens every time a month with 31 days begins on a Friday. There are seven months a year with 31 days and as each of those has a one in seven chance of beginning on a Friday, this actually happens roughly once a year. Checking back through the last few years this has happened in May 2009, January 2010, October 2010, July 2011, March 2013, August 2014 and will again in May 2015. If they are lucky months, then we get this chance once a year! Yay! 🙂

  14. That is one of my favorite line of Hallmark cards, Marylin! I’ve been known to spent 30 minutes or more reading each card and laughing out loud. I get some strange looks sometimes, but I don’t care. 🙂

    • Oh, Jill, you and I could have a great time going for coffee and then shopping the Saturday line of Hallmark cards. I also get a kick out of reading the bio-information on the backs of the card and seeing the city and state location of the writer. Wouldn’t it be fun to see one of your pictures made into a Hallmark card?

  15. Marylin , you are so sweet to share all this information. I love doing my own cards and will do so on special occasions . I buy some blank cards and cut and paste them the old fashion way with scissors and glue using some old
    photos or poems . I have fun doing that. However , I think I have a better chance of success if I enter a recipe in a cooking contest and not my cards.

    • I sold two recipes to small magazines in the past, Gerlinde, and it was so much fun seeing them in print.
      And years ago my daughter and I submitted favorite pet, baby and activity pictures with tag lines to various Sterling MacFadden publications, and we were paid $100 for each of the four that were accepted.
      It was fun money to spend doing fun things, but we’d already had a good time just choosing the pictures and writing the tag lines, so it was a double win.

  16. What have I got to lose? Oh, Marylin, you ought to know better than to ask me an existential question…

  17. jakesprinter

    What a great fun doing Hallmark cards Marylin ..I love it too 🙂

    • Jake, check out greeting card companies that look for unusual quotes by famous people (the quotes have to be in public domain). Your blog has some outstanding quotes, and your graphics are always a stunning accent.

  18. Jane Thorne

    You are wonderful Marylin and you have done it again. Your timely post has sparked creativity at this end, thank you. ❤ xX

    • Jane, a picture of you driving a tractor or some other farm implement would make a GREAT Saturday card for Hallmark. Really! I mean it.

      Think of all the funny, encouraging, or surprising messages that could be inside the card!

      • Jane Thorne

        Oh Marylin, I had not thought of that….I have my digger one too! Now there’s a thought. Thank you. It was the ‘Eureka’ moment essay that caught my attention. I heard back from Gothic Press, with the other writing competition. I did not get placed, but they said all who entered were ahead of the game for even doing it. 🙂 Hugs for you all ❤

      • I loved their response. We really are ahead of the game by just jumping in there and doing the thinking, writing and submitting. And with the Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family, I’d like to think that active writing and other creative activities will help me think clearer, longer.

  19. I am officially passing my official scepter as “lady with a million ideas” to you. 🙂

    • Wow! I take that as a supreme honor, Tracy, coming from the original “lady with a million ideas”!!! F. Scott Fitzgerald would cringe at all the exclamation points, but he’s been dead a long time, so I doubt it matters much to him. 🙂

  20. Thank you for the great ideas! I can’t wait to go to a card display and read. Perhaps husband would enjoy, too. He is such a wit and takes wonderful photos. I have used since before they were owned by Hallmark. It’s free but there’s a premium version too that doesn’t cost that much if you subscribe by the year.

    • Great idea, Georgette. If you and your husband could share the activity–his wonderful photos with your wonderful words–think of what fun that would be.
      Thanks for the info about I’ll give it a try.

  21. Jim

    Things hand-made always seem better and become cherished items. They outdo store-bought every time. Hand-made gifts show creativity and personalization. They show love because they take time and effort.

    Marylin, this theme calls to mind the personalized calendars you made every year, year after year, for the family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, dad–every family member got a different calendar with memorable photographs of them with other family members during family events. I still have all my own and my mom’s calendars (Molly’s paternal grandma). As you know, they are collected in a holder next to the coach in Abilene. They are a keepsake of family history, made by my Marylin with loving care, year after year. So this comment doubles as a belated , “Thank You. Thank You, Thank You!”

  22. Oh, sweetie, Thank You. For this comment, and especially for all your support–always, without exception–for my sometimes crazy and often hectic creative endeavors. And for Molly’s too, now and while she was growing up and she and I came up with big ideas and plans.
    Remember the triangle of wood borders we tried to build around the base of a tree so we could plant an exotic flower bed? You watched quietly and patiently. You were still encouraging, applauding our efforts as you helped us do it over after it wobbled apart.
    You’re the hero husband, dad, grandfather, son-in-law of our family, Jim, and you’re very much loved. You’re also a terrific role model for your grandson, who is also strong and helpful and appreciative of his sister, his mom and his Mor-Mor. We all thank you.

  23. That BFF card….I know those dresses. I had that hair lol!!

    Thanks for being so supportive of everyone’s creativity by alerting us to these contests!

    • And in the second card, Laurie, I had both the hair and the glasses of the girl on the right! It’s so much fun “seeing” ourselves in other people who wore the same kind of outfits and looking as awkward as we did.

  24. I have a boxful of handmade cards, letters and drawings given to me over the years from the kids and I love them. Funnily enough, when my mum came over at the weekend for my daughter’s birthday celebrations, she brought over a bag full of old cards I’d made for her so that she could show the kids. It was so much fun looking at them again, some I remembered, vaguely, others not. What really struck me though was how nice my hand writing was back then compared to now, LOL 😉 Handmade is the best as far as I’m concerned as they are heartfelt and unique. Thanks again Marylin for the great links to the writing competitions 🙂

    • I bet your kids got a kick out of their mom’s creative childhood, Sherri. How sweet of your mom to save all your cards and share them.
      When I moved my parents out of their house years ago, I found two shoe boxes at the back of my parents’ closet, and they’d saved my letters and cards to them, the pictures I drew of our house and family when I was growing up, and there was even a “contract” I’d drawn up when I was 8 and borrowed money for a bike basket–I paid it off at twenty-five cents a week out of my allowance, or by doing chores like raking leaves. It was made out “to my daddy” and signed by “his daughter.”
      I found this during the last 4 years of my dad’s Alzheimer’s, and it was very touching.

      • Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with me Marylin. I can imagine you as that little girl of 8 drawing up that contract and taking your responsibilities seriously to make sure you paid off the money to your daddy. And how deeply precious that your parents kept these boxes at the back of their closet all those years…what a day that must have been for you when you found them…
        Hugs to you dear friend ❤

      • And hugs to you, Sherri. Thank you for some of the little notes and memories you’ve remembered and shared on your blogs…about your father, your daughter (and sons), your struggles and triumphs. You often trigger memories in me; this one about my dad was triggered by something you shared about your father and how out of reach he had been. It’s all connected, you know. 🙂

  25. I have several boxes of handmade cards and ‘art’ that my daughters made when they were little. I even kept some of their schoolwork papers from elementary school. And, I’ve recently started collecting my grandkids’ handiwork.
    I agree with you Marylin, handmade is the best. Thank you for the links. I’ll check them out.

  26. dianabletter

    You have so many fans, Marylin, so I’ll just take time to add my voice and say your blogs are wonderful. Love that second base photo! I’m going to post it on FB. Thanks for adding such warmth to the Internet (along with useful information & inspiration!) Diana

    • Bless your heart, Diana, your posts–and your published essays–give such a factual and personal and poignant account of all that you’re experiencing in Israel. It’s so good to hear from you, and I’m glad the Second Base photo made you smile, too. It’s a cause I believe in, personally.
      You and your family are in my prayers.

  27. –Great-Cool Idea,
    I LOVE greeting cards! I love sending them w/ glitter! thanks for this! xx

  28. I’m working on getting back on track with near-daily writing on the new WIP. So I’ll try to meet that deadline/goal. 🙂

  29. You’re right. What have I got to lose? I’ll check out Hallmark. I used to love making cards when I was a kid!

  30. This was such a fun and original post. I really enjoyed looking at the ones you included and will have to check out the Saturdays line of Hallmark! I still make cards, sometimes when I don’t have time or money to get a card, sometimes because most people appreciate original thoughts and drawings. I think we all are grateful for the teachers who had our children make us Mother’s or Father’s Day cards, along with others in our family who suggested making “Get Well” or “Happy Birthday” cards… I love homemade anything, just about! I like the corny, homespun cards they have in gift shops and at country restaurants. They are always so neat. I also have enjoyed the Native American designs that you may find in certain styles of artistic shops. Smiles all over the place for the post and comments, too!

  31. Thanks, Robin. Some of my favorite card messages have been misspelled and stained with peanut buttery-fingers. A few have smears that look like they maybe came from sneezes, too. They’re my favorites. 😉

  32. It’s been a L-O-N-G time since I created a card. Marilyn, this does sound like a fun challenge. Thank you for sharing. I’m a big fan of Hallmark cards. It stems from a boy I was in 6th grade with. He joked on Valentine’s Day that “if you really care then send the very best – a Hallmark card – or nothing at all.” He was an adorable clown. It’s been my go-to card ever since. 😉

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