Sunday, 27 July 2014

To the beach.....!

We've just booked a last minute break for a few days by the sea. It's very exciting! But boy, does it take a bit of planning ... so here's the deal:

1. Order today if you want standard delivery and I will send out parcels in the morning before I go

2. Mid morning tomorrow myself and my step daughter Isobel head off down the m5 with a bunch of Cottontails toys. Mike stays behind to look after the animals (goats, ducks, cats - and Rudolph*)

3. Isobel and I have lots of fun taking photos of toys on beach / in caravan etc etc. Mike deals with any Next Day express orders via phone instruction (this won't be difficult AT ALL)**

4. On Wednesday Mike joins us (toys will be packed away as soon as the Grown Up arrives) and I'll head back up later in the day...

5. All orders will be sent out Thursday and Friday, and I'll share lots of fun photos from the seaside.

In the meantime, here are some snaps from last year's holiday.... 








*Rudolph: I did consider taking him, we've rented a little caravan and I'm sure I could sneak him in, but decided it would probably be more stressful for him to come. So he is staying at home to keep an eye on Mike...

** Change of plan... 11.15am and still in office. Having been reminded of how orders are never simple and many are gift-wrapped I cannot face the stress of trying to talk a reluctant cider-maker through this process. So I'm turning off the next day delivery option until I am back. A far better plan.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Rabbit in a cot - pushing the boundaries of adorable

Here in the office I have a little vintage doll's cot, and over the last few days something extremely sweet has started to happen - Rudolph has taken to sleeping in it.

One day last week when I couldn't find him (a regular occurrence at home time - he hides) I stood in the middle of the office rustling a treat packet until I heard a little noise - and there he was, stretched out in the cot. And since then he has been in it every day...








 







For anyone who is interested, his companion in the cot is Gertrude, my much loved and long discontinued Moulin Roty rabbit. And the two of them are tucked up in bed linen hand made and knitted by my mother. What a life.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Flora's gingery honey cake

Flora fox has been baking. And not only that, she has been gathering her own honey and duck eggs.

What a fox.

The finished result was an extraordinarily gingery cake. Fortunately Flora loves ginger... and the recipe is below if you do too.



 
Flora visits the beehives to gather honey
(She didn't even bother with a bee suit.. just a ballet skirt. Fearless.)


Next she goes after the duck eggs...


Daisy duck: happy to help 


Three types of ginger... yes THREE


And in with the honey


Patiently waiting for cake to bake...


Ta-da!


Is there anything better than a cake bigger than oneself?




Flora's gingery honey cake


300g/10oz honey
75g/3oz unsalted butter, melted
50ml sunflower oil
3 medium eggs
400g stem ginger, chopped (1 jar (258g) seems to be OK and costs less!)
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon or coriander
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Extra butter and honey, for finishin



1 Line the base and sides of a small loaf tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/335F/gas mark 3. Put the honey in a bowl, add melted butter, oil and eggs, then beat until smooth.


2 Stir in the chopped ginger, grated ginger and spices, add the flour and baking powder, stir well until everything is evenly mixed, then spoon into the tin.'


3 Take small slivers of butter and lay them centrally along the length of the mixture. This will force the cake to crack along the butter line.


4 Bake for about 70-80 minutes undisturbed, as the cake is slightly fragile and prone to collapsing until the mixture sets. Use a skewer to check that the centre is baked. It will burn on top slightly, or at least go very dark. This is due to all that honey, and for me, it's part of the cake's charm.


5 Leave to cool in the tin. While the cake is warm, brush the top with extra honey to soften the crust.


6 Once cold, wrap the cake well and it should keep for several days. It's great as an afternoon treat, or warmed and served with creme fraiche as a simple dessert.



Thursday, 19 June 2014

Say hello to Monsieur Loutre - the first ever Cottontails otter

Otter! I have an otter! Yes, a brand new Moulin Roty range arrived yesterday (Mademoiselle et Rimambelle - full introduction post to follow) and tucked in the box along with the new rabbits, mice, dolls and owls is... an otter.

And not just any old otter, his name is Monsieur Loutre. Quite grand really. And he wears a tie.

Now, I have never had otters at Cottontails before, so this is unknown territory, but I decided to take him home with me last night and make him feel at home with some water and fish... Even well-to-do French otters otters love water and fish, right?


Bonjour M. Loutre!


By the pond...


M. Loutre looks for fish


M. Loutre is hungry (fish from Les Pachats range)...


Happily I have a little something in the store cupboard for him


And off he goes with his fish supper


Yummy!


Behind the scenes note:

So I arrived home last night with M. Loutre and poked his head around the door into the sitting room (where Mike was watching football). I heard a loud sigh and knew he had been spotted.

I introduced them properly and said I would be taking M.Loutre out to the pond for some photographs.

Mike said it would be better to take him to a stream "because otters like running water". At which point I had to tell him that M. Loutre wasn't actually a real otter. I felt bad but he needed to know.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Save 15% today and tomorrow

I'm having one of my little 'discount days' (well two days) today and tomorrow. Use the discount code 'bunny' at checkout and your entire order will be  discounted by 15%.



I don't do these things very often - this is only the second of 2014 - so it's a quite rare and real opportunity to save money on our lovely range of Moulin Roty, Maileg and many more toys and gifts.

The offer will expire at midnight (UK time) tomorrow, Thursday 5th June.

So, hop to it!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Homemade elderflower cordial recipe

Every year I make elderflower cordial because it's so simple, and makes me feel rather pleased with myself. Here is the recipe I use followed by some photos I took a couple of years ago, when the Maileg bunnies helped me make a batch...





ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL RECIPE

Make a basic sugar syrup by stirring 3 liters of boiling water and 900g of granulated sugar until the sugar feels like it's all melted.

Add 50g of citric acid (if you're not planning to drink it all straightaway)*, 2 sliced lemons and 25 rinsed elderflower heads. 

Cover with a tea towel, stirring occasionally, and leave to infuse for 24 hours

Strain through muslin and bottle. 

It is that simple!










  



 *Note - you can buy citric acid from most chemists or order it online - I ordered mine from a jam-making / preserving supplier along with some pretty bottles and a bit of muslin for the straining.


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Little Cloud rabbit cushions

Introducing something new and rather wonderful to Cottontails Baby.... Liberty print rabbit cushions, each one hand made in a little British studio, each one soft, pretty and practically irresistible.

Well, irresistible  to me anyhow. About a month ago Claire from Little Cloud emailed me to tell me about her rabbit cushions and I fell in love right away.

So much so that I broke all my own rules about 'only stocking toys' and 'not spending anymore money' and placed an order right away.

I have created a new Nursery Decor department on the website especially to site the cushions (although actually it's a nice addition as somewhere for all those lovely Maileg home accessories to go too).

The rabbits come in eight different Liberty print fabrics and are £30 each. Some pretty pictures below and you can see / buy them all on the website here. I hope you like them as much as I do...