Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Free Maileg wooden decoration!

In a shameless attempt to gain some more links to Cottontails (that's my website, NOT this blog) I am giving away some lovely wooden Christmas stockings.

It's simple - please just link to Cottontails (details below), then email me your address and I will send you a Maileg wooden stocking. I have quite a few left so unless I am inundated (which would be nice!) I shouldn't run out, but if I do I'll find something else nice. The stockings are quite large (40cm) and a kind of Scandinavian shaker style. They're gorgeous.

The key things about the link are that it must be to a specific page on my website:

And must mention the words Moulin Roty in the link.

(A clever friend of mine tells me this will work wonders with my Google ranking... we will see!)

If you have a website as well as a blog and don't mind linking from there, EVEN BETTER! And I will send an extra stocking. (A pair of stockings!)

And don't forget to email me your address.

Thank you!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Fun with photography...

Despite the rain today I managed to find a dry spell and set up my photography stuff in the garden for an hour. Some of the things I photographed on Sunday didn't come out very well so today was 'take two' and I am really pleased with the results.

The things I had struggled with were the little badges and mirrors from Snapdragon - I think it's because I am not used to photographing such tiny things. So today I decided on a new approach and tried placing them on complementary backgrounds, rather than my usual product-on-white technique.

Here are the results and I'm really pleased with them!

This is the little dog hand bag mirror - I have put them on a page of my really old copy of The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, chosen in a rush as I flicked through my children's books looking for a page mentioning a dog! (Although actually you can't read that bit, but it does mention the "his coat was spotted brown and white"):

The christmassy badges - the robin and Christmas pudding - are on a page from an old copy of The Velveteen Rabbit because it mentions Christmas, obviously!

And the little cottage badge is photographed on the picture of the doll's house in The Tale of Two Bad Mice.

And finally I used some bits of my old Moulin Roty tea set to display the cake badges and handbag mirrors.

So I feel quite chuffed with myself today and hope I will sell a few of these little bits and bobs before Christmas. (Especially the Christmas Puddings obviously!!)

You can see all these things, along with other goodies on the new section on the website for Lovely UK Designers.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Luxury string and the winner is...

I am chuckling to myself at the moment as I can't quite believe I have just listed a ball of string under 'Treats for Grown-Ups' on my website. But is is a very nice ball of string in a gift box from the lovely people at Maileg. But all the same. Can it be considered a treat? Well, there isn't anywhere else for it to go on the website so a treat it is!

In fact I didn't even order the string - Maileg sent six boxes in error and I have had them in my 'must return' pile for ages. Several weeks later I realise I have already paid the invoice, I am never going to get around to sending them back and might as well just put them on the website and see what happens.

Also I have just done the draw for the poorly Maileg mouse (something else I didn't get around to returning!). Sorry the pictures are so rubbish but I did try to capture the 'drawing process'. First I wrote names on little bits of blue tissue paper, then I rolled them into balls and decided to use the Mr String box as the 'hat' as it were.

I asked Sylvain bunny to do the honours...

But had to give him a hand...

And the winner is: Jennifer! (You can just about make out the name in the photo I think!)

Well done Jennifer :-) You can read her diary here:

I have a few more poorly animals around here so think I will do this kind of giveaway again, it's more fun than sending them back for credit notes.

Anyway, it's been another busy weekend sales-wise - as you would expect for December - so I haven't had that much time for working on the website, but a few late nights and a concerted effort mean that I have managed to finish adding some new stock. Have a look at our lovely things from Made in Pixieland, Belle and Boo and Snapdragon. Here are some of the new items:

And finally here are a couple of photos of the product shots ' in the making'. I turned our garden room / building site into a mini photography studio yesterday to make the most of the winter sun...

Right, better get on with packing up some parcels then!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tis the season to be jolly busy!

Cannot believe that I am writing my first post of the week at 6.30pm on a Friday - a good indication of how flat out I have been this week really. It's all good though - I am just about coping (with the help of mum and the cheering presence of Humphrey rabbit) and am enjoying the somewhat novel feeling of having a brisk, thriving business. (Well, it's only taken six and a half years!)

Still haven't drawn the names for the Maileg mouse giveaway yet but will do it this weekend. For how here he is holding the fort while I have a coffee break. Can you spot him sitting in the chair? It's just a tad too big for him.

And the picture at the top of the post is Humphrey in the doorway to the office - I get the feeling he is saying 'Come on in, how can I help you?' We actually had a 'real life customer' this week (a local lady rang up and asked if she could collect in person rather than mail order) and I think she was a little surprised to find a rabbit as part of the team here!

Anyway, my plan for the evening is to relax a bit and catch up on reading other people's blogs... bliss!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Lovely customer & a 'giveaway' mouse

Firstly I have another little 'giveaway', but this one is probably only suited to those of you who are handy with a needle and thread. I have a poorly Maileg mouse - he is just a wee thing and is having problems with his neck. More specifically some stitching has come undone and I decided rather than going through the palava of making a claim with Maileg I would just give him away to someone who could make him better and offer him a new home. So if you would like to adopt a poorly mouse just leave a comment and I will pull names out of something next week.

I also wanted to write about a lovely customer - Tracey in Australia. Hello Tracey if you are reading! Tracey bought the oh-so-lovely large Lola rabbit and very kindly sent me some photos of her in her new home on the other side of the world.

I love this picture of Tracey, her daughter Elizabeth and Lola bunny. Elizabeth had her first birthday a couple of weeks ago and Lola was a special present along with this gorgeous red wicker chair.
Doesn't Tracey have a lovely looking home? (Are those Cath Kidston curtains I spy?!) And of course it is all hot and summery in Australia at the moment - when Tracey and I were emailing the other day I was complaining about the rain and the mud (remember that post? It's getting worse!) and Tracey was complaining about the heat and the snakes and crispy dried grass. Hmmm... hard to decide which is better / worse really.

Anyway, don't forget about the little mouse on offer - if you think you can heal him!

Monday, 23 November 2009

A busy few days & a beautiful mermaid

Following an incredibly busy end to last week I decided to take the weekend off - bliss! - but Monday morning is now upon us and another week begins...

It's been an incredibly busy weekend online - by far the busiest yet - so today is going to be a day of packing, packing, packing. I've left a plea for help on my mum's answerphone and am hoping she will come to help - otherwise it's just me and Humphrey and a whole load of boxes... yikes.

In the midst of the chaos at the end of last week, something very exciting happened - I received a lovely parcel through the post. No, not another order to be unpacked and inventoried, but something really special - a delightful present from Helen at Simply H Designs. I am such a lucky girl and had won her giveaway last weekend - thank you, thank you, thank you! - and this meant that I am now the proud guardian of one of her lovely fabric mermaids! I am so chuffed I cannot tell you, I know everyone always says this but I never win anything and as Helen will tell you, the news of my win arrived at just the right moment - in the middle of a bit of a horrible time last weekend - and truly lifted my spirits.

The parcel was so beautifully presented

And Helen had wrapped her in some gorgeous bits of fabric (Gulp. Does this mean I have to try and, ahem, MAKE something?!)

She came with her own little note, telling me how to best care for her, postcards of her home in Whitstable, and in her little bag is a collection of pretty shells. Isn't she just beautiful?

First I tried her in the bathroom (figured she'd be happy in there, all that water) and sat her on the top of the curtains.

But finally decided she would reside on the landing - she is so pretty to look at as I am walking upstairs.

Thank you so much Helen. I am truly chuffed to bits :-)


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Moulin Roty in a sea of mud!

It's only 11.15 and I am already feeling exhausted after battling with an enormous Moulin Roty delivery.

I work from home and it is always a fiasco when large pallet deliveries arrive because we live at the end of a drive which is too small for articulated lorries. I always request a small van at the time of order but about half the time instructions are ignored and lo and behold a week later the delivery arrives care of some poor driver with a vehicle far too big to get anywhere near the house.

To make matters worse at the moment we are having our drive landscaped and it is a terrible mess of mud and sand and digging machines, so my heart sank this morning when I spotted - through the pouring rain and across a sea of mud - a giant vehicle parking up at the bottom of the drive. Sure enough it was a pallet for Cottontails.

The driver was very decent and dragged the pallet up the drive for me - thank you driver! - but even then it was abandoned in the middle of the mud. Then one of the landscapers, Kevin, was very kind and helped me to split up the pallet and bring the boxes into the house. Thank you Kevin!

In the urgency to get everything out of the rain it all ended up in the hall in our house - and I work from an office behind the garage - so I spent the next hour manfully heaving boxes down the garden... and now I am flaked out and ready for a rest, not a days work!

Ah well, mummy has just arrived to help pack up all the orders in this delivery, and she looks fresh and full of energy... :-)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Parcels, parcels, parcels...

It's a parcel packing frenzy here in Cottontails 'head hutch'... too busy to write much but have captured a few pics while having my coffee break...

Here is mum in a packing blur (no coffee breaks for her!)

Here is my name sake (Charlotte the cow) being wrapped in tissue

..then she is added to the rest of the order...

...wrapped in foam and a sturdy Business Post bag and later today she'll be heading off to her new home. (I suppose I could take a snap of the Business Post driver but he may not like that!)

Thanks for everyone's lovely comments and I plan to sit down later tonight and do some proper catching up.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Buried under boxes...

Have had a ridiculous number of deliveries as all the new stock I ordered a week or two ago seems to have arrived all at once. I can hardly move in Cottontails 'head hutch' now and Humphrey is most disgruntled as his area has been taken over by boxes.

Rather worryingly there are also Moulin Roty and Maileg orders imminent. I may actually have to hide from the delivery men if they come today...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Win a Grand Family animal!

The Grand Family is a range of soft toy animals by lovely toy maker Moulin Roty. It is probably their most popular range and is typical of their sweet but quirky French style. There are currently 13 creatures in the Grand Family and each one has a name:

Sylvain the rabbit
Nini the mouse
Julius the dog
Charlotte the cow
Amedee the duck
Albert the lamb
Emile the hedgehog
Barnaby the donkey
Igor the wolf
Apolline the mole
Perlette the frog
Felicie the hen
Arsene the fox

I love the way their names are so grown up, and yet they are such sweet little characters, and although I'm not 100% sure how true this is, I have heard that they are all named after people who work at Moulin Roty.

Anyway, I have decided to run a new competition which you can enter on our website. It's ever so easy and a bit of fun - all you have to do is suggest a new animal to join the Grand Family and give him or her a name. Simple!

I will pick a favourite next month and the winner will be able to chose any existing 30cm Grand Family toy as their prize.

So, if you are feeling inspired, head on over to Cottontails and make a suggestion... I can't wait to read the ideas and will share them all on here too when the competition is over.

I am lucky enough to share my name with one of the Family... Charlotte the cow! Hmm... not entirely sure how I feel about this but she is a sweet little thing and I will leave you with a photo of her...

Good luck!
love Charlotte (not the cow)

Maileg giveaway winner announced...

I've been thrilled by the response to the Maileg giveaway, and having had over 20 comments decided it was high time to pick a winner.

Earlier today I wrote everyone's names on to little bits of paper, folded them up and placed them in Humphrey's dish (along with a couple of Naturals Carroty bunny treats!) hoping he might do something meaningful with one of them and therefore select a winner. He didn't. He just nosed them all out of the way to find his Carrotys. Useless.

Time for plan B. Happily my mum was here this morning helping to pack up orders, so (much to Humphrey's irritation) I passed the dish over to her and asked her to pick out a winner.

She had a much better grasp of the task at hand than Humphrey.

And the winning name is......

Sarah, from Sarah Jane Down the Lane.

Well done Sarah! I will send you a separate email anyway but please just send me over your address and I'll pop your lovely Maileg goodies in the post.

And the good news for everyone else is that I have just set up another new competition on the website so there's another chance to win something lovely. I will write a separate post about the new competition later on, but for those who can't wait it is already up and running on the main Moulin Roty page of Cottontails.

And after today's performance I'll be leave Humphrey out of matters this time round :-)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Maileg treats giveaway!

I thought it was high time I arranged a 'giveaway' as it seems to be the thing to do in Blogland :-)

As I understand it I simply choose a thing or two to give away, and invite folks to leave a comment on here in order to be in with a chance of winning... then in a week or so I choose a winner at random. (Have I got that right?!)

So I've picked a few things from lovely Maileg to giveaway. Three things in fact: a baby Brother & Sister bunny in a pretty pink romper, one of their cute little matchbox mice, and a wooden Christmas stocking which can be left as it is in natural shaker-style or can be customised with paints, fabrics etc.

I hope people will like them... Humphrey certainly did when I was laying them out on the office floor to take a quick snap!So please leave a comment, and in a week or so I'll put all the names out of a hat (or maybe an alternative vessel, not sure I've got the right kind of hat!) and let Humphrey pick a winner.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Christmas shopping...

Well it's official that the Christmas rush has begun... Sales have really hiked up the last few days, particularly gorgeous gifty things like the lovely Grand Family wardrobe

And the Princess and Pea set from Maileg

And their little matchbox mice

I love this time of year, when sales are really vibrant. The only downside is all the parcels to pack up and with no 'work force' to help it's usually just me and a mountain of brown paper and parcel tape. But I am so lucky to have my mum not to far away who will pop over to help out... she is coming over this morning actually. Thank you mum!