Ahh, it is the season of hearts and pink and red! It has been so cold here in Texas this year, I am excited to see the pop of color that Valentine's day brings! I have so many new things going on here, but this is something quite exciting. I am introducing a free, yes FREE printable file that are you are welcome to download and print to share with your little loves. 

My boys are my world, of course. And they know I love them. But it's Valentine's day and I want to give them a little something that goes beyond a box of chocolates. I created this fun printable file of four kid-friendly coupons you can gift your kids this year too. Simple fun ideas for an extra bedtime story to a child-picked outing. Package them with ribbon, or make an accordion envelope to hold them. Details and a how-to below! 

Click here to download the PDF file.

This printable file is ©The Speckled Duck. Please feel free to download and print, but do not distribute or sell the digital file. You may link to this post, but you may not re-post the file on another site for downloading. Please respect my artwork so that I can continue to provide you with more!

Accordion Envelope DIY

This is a fun way to package your coupons that you can use for lots of different applications once you see how simple it is!

You will need:
-Printed Valentine Coupons
-A glue stick
-Scissors or blade
-4 A2 size envelopes (they old a 4.25x5.5" card)
-Any other crafty supplies for decorating (washi tape, buttons, ribbon, bakers twine, stickers)

First, trim your printed coupons down the middle both vertically and horizontally to get four cards. Next, apply glue to the entire flap of one envelope (the side with the seal), line it up and seal it to the back of a second envelope. Repeat with the remaining envelopes to form a row of pockets. Last, fill each pocket with a single card, then alternate folding until you have created a small packet. I trimmed the last flap off of mine to create a neat edge. Now you can decorate the envelopes to your heart's content! I chose a simple bakers twine bow for the sample. 

Once the flaps are glued to the back of the adjacent envelope, you will have a row of pockets as shown above. 
Use buttons, washi tape, stickers, twine and ribbon to decorate your coupon envelope. Be creative and have fun!
Wow, where did 2013 go? What a busy but great year! I hope yours was as well. I am working on setting my business goals for the year, and some personal ones too. I think calling them goals is much better than resolutions - maybe we'll do better at sticking to them and making them happen! What kind of goals do you set for yourself each year? What do you have planned for this year? 

Obviously, you know I am a stationery person. I love paper, I love cards - but one thing that always slips through the cracks is sending birthday cards. I never have them, I rarely buy them, and well.. I don't make them! So one of my personal goals this year is to send out birthday cards to close friends and family every month. For starters, I've transferred all my birthdays into one of my own Birthday and Anniversary calendars. I have owned one of these for a long time, and it's one of my favorite things. It hangs right on the wall in my work space, so I can glance up and see all the birthdays for the month. There are three patterns available from the Speckled Duck in my Etsy shop - you should check them out if you have a hard time remembering birthdays other than the reminder Facebook sends you. 
To start myself out on the right foot, I've got a  book of stamps, now I am on a quest to find some cards to cover the birthdays of the next couple of months. Cheers to the new year and setting goals! I hope you have a great 2014 and hang around here a bit, I have big plans!
I know you've seen quite a pumpkin party or two here on the blog, and here's one more! Once again our annual event was so much fun. Lots of new babies in our circle of friends who were digging in the pumpkins for the first time this year! The weather cooperated nicely too, it wasn't 100º nor was it 40º! 

We served up a slow cooker full of ground beef tacos, had cupcakes and a spooky 7 layer dip, and some pretty fabulous punch. Decorations were simple - a polkadot piece of fabric as a table cloth, a few streamers and of course lovelies by Speckled Duck! 
Simple celebrations are great, and mix and matching items make for easy set up. All the cutlery for this party was a mashup of leftovers from previous parties.
Simple table decorations. Orange and black plates & streamers, Speckled Duck printables and some flowers in a pumpkin vase. To make this, you'll want to put your flowers in a small vase or juice cup and place inside the pumpkin. 
We lay a big tarp out in the yard for carving. It gives everyone a clean place to sit and keeps the mess to a minimum. We place "goo buckets" to collect the innards to compost. I buy lots of carving sets after Halloween each year when they go on clearance so we have plenty of tools to share!
It's amazing that watching through our children, life seems to be in fast-forward motion. I remember the days when the summer seemed to last forever – I miss those days! So even though I have no idea how on earth a year could have gone by, my sweet baby boy turned one in September! We celebrated with a small party of close friends and family - just a simple celebration with cake and good company! 

If you know me, you know I am pretty passionate about polkadots. So, while I get to choose the birthday theme, we had a fabulous confetti party with polkadots galore! I was sold on the idea when I ran across a polkadot cake on Pinterest. You know the one where you use cake balls baked in a cake to make the colors. Yeah, and I made one, too. The MOST stressful birthday cake ever. There may have been a few tears and lots of icing glue - but it was beautiful and delicious! 
I love looking at all the fabulously planned parties you can find online these days, and always feel overwhelmed with needing to over plan. I think I finally found a place where I am comfortable. I LOVE doing invitations, I love paper, I love parties... but at some point you have to step back and do what's practical, what fits in your budget and what is really you. I don't make food labels, nor make "all of the things" custom for my kid's parties. I love to hand make, I love to just play and arrange - without trying to out-do the next big party craze. 

I chose a few of things I couldn't "do without." Like the evening I scoured Etsy for the perfect color felt balls so I could make a garland for decoration, and the night I spent rummaging through my massive stock of scrapbook paper to make his banner cake topper. I pulled paper straws out of my party stash and made washi-tape flags in the party colors, and punched large 4" circles out of cardstock which made a giant confetti wall with a Happy Birthday felt sign I stumbled across at Target.  

The kitchen counter was lined with one picture for every month of his life so far, gosh it is amazing how much they grow in such a short time! 
Since we had quite a few bigger kids, I set up a fun craft to keep them entertained. A bowl full of colorful Easter eggs, plastic spoons, rice and washi tape - when assembled make some pretty awesome maracas! My oldest son made these at Vacation Bible School this summer, and they are totally awesome! Both boys love them, and they are super easy to make! These were quite popular and double as a party favor to take home. Each kiddo also took home a mini gum ball machine. The little kids got Trix cereal in their's and they loved them! 
Here's a peek at his adorable invitation. A fun clear envelope full of confetti dots! Thanks to my friend Ashely for the idea! I love how these turned out!

Of course, I already have a stash and a plan for his second birthday, not that I am in a hurry for it to get here, but because I love making these days special for my boys in our own little ways. Happy Birthday Sweet Boy! 
Wow, this weekend was SO much fun! I participated in the Second Annual Austin Craft Riot Summer show with about 70 other AMAZING vendors. No two booths were the same, there seriously is so much talent in Austin! 

Traffic was steady for both show days. The first 25 shoppers each day got a swag bag filled to the brim with goodies from each vendor. Sunday's shoppers were in line two hours before the doors opened to grab one of these awesome gifts! The Speckled Duck debuted some new designs as well as the new Perpetual Birthday and Anniversary Calendars which were a bit hit! If you missed it, you can now order them in my Etsy Shop!

I am spending this week preparing applications for some other Austin area holiday shows and working on a couple more new products. I hope to see you out and about this season! Below are some photos from this past weekend's show. You can check out some great photos of other vendors by the Austin Chronicle here.  

Have a great week!

Come on down to the Austin Music Hall this Saturday and Sunday, August 17th & 18th for a full lineup of awesome artists and crafts-people. Admission is free, there's a cash  bar and food trucks outside! Come beat the heat and support local business! 

Come by booth 38 to see The Speckled Duck and my booth partner AmeliaBeth!

The first 25 people though the door each day will receive a swag bag full of items from each vendor! You're gonna want one of these bags, so get there early!! 

Click here for a full list of vendors!
I thought it would be fun to show you around what we (lightheartedly) call Speckled Duck Studios – the loft in my house transformed into my work/crafty space. 

My typical work day is scheduled around nap times and taking care of my beautiful family, but sometimes they are content to play while I work. My six year old loves to make cards and has his own desk and supplies though he often prefers to squeeze into my space and somehow end up in my lap. Lots of work gets done after bedtime around here. 

I really love how the space has evolved over the last few years into one that really works well for me and accommodates my family. I have an intern/prep desk with a monitor hookup next to a table that houses my industrial cutter. Above that, my inspiration shelves. The top two are where I collect things I love or that inspire me creatively, the bottom shelves are my own creations I am most proud of. 
One extra-long table is home to me and now my really awesome scoring machine. Across the room is my cutting area which is most commonly used for crafting and scrapping. One of my favorite organization tools is my Cropper Hopper Ribbon Carousel that houses my growing collection of washi tape. 
Thankfully my husband hasn't taken it too hard as he's been kicked out to the garage to make room for envelope storage and boxes of cards. I'm thankful he's let me take over one of the largest rooms in our house and make it work for me. 
Back in January, I first read/learned/discovered the fabulousness that is a "Favorite Things Party" and I KNEW I had to host one. Finally, after trying to choose a date for months, I hosted my party last Saturday night in the company of 8 great friends. 

I knew I had to use the lines from the famous "My Favorite Things" song from The Sound of Music. I created my invitation, printed on some lovely brown paper and tied up with some teal and white twine. 

If you don't know much about a favorite things party - the concept is simple. You invite a group of friends to each bring a set number of one of their favorite things. I chose to ask for five of those things costing no more than $5 each. Each person would then go home with five new items. 

I decorated our "Favorite Things" table with empty boxes, you guessed it, wrapped in brown paper and tied with many different types of ribbons and strings. I wrote on the brown paper with chalk "Our Favorite Things." I made cupcakes and served finger foods along with Strawberry Lemonade Spritzers and Ice Tea. 

Each person displayed their items and added their name five times to a glass jar from which each person then drew five names. The five people drawn would get one each of that person's favorite things. 
Everyone went home with a lovely brown paper bag decorated in the party theme, with a glitter name tag to hold their gifts. 

Here are the ladies' favorite things:
$5 Starbucks Giftcards
Coconut Oil (for cooking or as a moisturizer)
Fuzzy gripper slippers
Scotch Wrapping Paper Cutter
Handmade Spearmint Scrub Soap Bars from Fleegal Farms
Bert's Bees Lip Shimmer
Fresh Peonies in Slender Vases
Bert's Bees Mango Butter Lip Balm
Pots of Fresh Flowers

The evening flew by, though the swapping of gifts and explaining our favorite things only took a short time, we had a great time visiting with each other. There were already requests for another Favorite Things party before the evening was over!

I'm happy to report that I successfully sent 30 cards in 30 days! I have to admit, it was a little more challenging that I expected, but I am so glad I did it. 

I know I'll be better about sending cards and letters after this challenge. My old excuse "I don't have time" has been busted, as I managed to get a card out every day and it didn't take all THAT much time away from other things I was working on. The best part is, that taking time out of my busy life to think about someone I care about is way more rewarding than just focusing on what is immediately in front of me. 

For the month of May, I am working on sending at least one card or letter per week to keep the momentum going. I hope you will join me and send more cheer through the mail. If you need some inspiration, check out The World Needs More Love Letters

Having kids is so. much. fun. Seriously. I love being a Mommy, and getting to plan things that make childhood fun, memorable, and magical. 

I was suddenly (as if I didn't know it was coming) faced with deciding what our family Tooth Fairy tradition would be. Naturally, I jumped online and started to read ideas from everywhere, but nothing really felt quite right. So in one afternoon I created this lost tooth letter and record kit to record my son's right of passage as he loses his teeth. We love mail, and kids LOVE mail.. so why not combine letters with the Tooth Fairy? 

Tooth Fairy Letter and Record Kit contains the following:
20 Tooth Fairy Letters with Envelopes (Printed on shimmery paper, of course!)
20 Lost Tooth Records
20 "Office of the Tooth Fairy" envelope stickers
2 White Organza Bags 
1 Tooth Fairy Keepsake Box
(Ribbon and coin not included.)

How it works:
Simply mail your child one of the wiggly tooth letters along with a lost tooth record when you find out they have a loose tooth. If they're like my son, they'll hang the letter and record on the refrigerator until the big day. 

When the tooth falls out, have your child fill out the Lost Tooth Record with details on which tooth it was and how it came out. Please note: Due to the coated nature of the magic shimmer paper you will need a ball point or Sharpie pen to write on the certificates. No gel pens, it will smear! 

You can share one organza bag with your child to leave their tooth in, then leave their payment/prize in the second. This makes it really easy to grab and replace in the middle of the night! 

You collect their tooth and the certificate and keep them safe in the Keepsake Box. You'll have collected a great treasury of stories by the time your child has lost all 20 baby teeth. 

Get your Magical Tooth Fairy Letter and Record kit in my Etsy shop!

Remember, if you see me out and about to use a code word if you want to inquire about a kit. "Hey Paula, I need one of 'the kits!'" And I'll know just what you mean! I want to keep this a fun and magical memory for your kids as well as my own!