Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Pampered Pooch - Homemade Dog Treats

My little dog Maggie is a pretty pampered pooch to say the least.  Guaranteed snuggles on the sofa, fashionable collars and leads, long country walks, and this next statement makes me sound slightly ridiculous, but dog lovers will understand...a regular hot water bottle!  A tradition that started when she was a little 8 week old puppy when she missed the warmth from her siblings in the litter, and she let me know by crying...and yelping...and whining all night long.  Three years have passed by and the hot water bottle is still a common feature in Maggie's world.  

I spent my Halloween evening spoiling my beloved westie further by whipping up a batch of healthy dog treats.  Here is how I got on...

The Finished Article
This evening I decided to try out a recipe that I got from our friends at Bill & Eddie, a fabulous dog outfitter which keeps Maggie very stylish indeed.  I really hate giving Maggie dog chews and treats that are full of, lets face it...rubbish!  So I decided to whip up a batch of homemade and super healthy dog biscuits.  Plus they make a great present for doggy friends too!  Bert the crazy whippet and Tallulah the cocker spaniel, you might get a jar of these treats under the Christmas tree this year!

Here is the recipe...


1.5 Cups Oat Flour
1.5 Cups Brown Rice Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1 Cup Rolled Oats
0.5 Cup Oat Bran
1 Large Free Range Egg
0.5 Cup Mashed Banana 
0.5 Cup Water


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees, or 200 degrees with a fan assisted oven

2.  Add all the ingredients in to a large bowl and mix together in to a dough.  If it's looking a bit dry, add some more water

Pop all the ingredients in to a mixing bowl together.
*wine for baker only!

Mix well and add extra water if it's looking a bit dry
3.  Roll mixture in to small balls (about 2cm diametre), then place on a non-stick baking tray

4.  Flatten slightly with your thumb, I then scored each with a knife so they can easily be broken in to smaller treats

Ready to go in to the oven
5.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown

6.  Place on a wire rack to cool

7.  Store in room temperature in an air tight container.

I've decided to put my biscuits in to small kilner jars as I'll be giving them away as gifts, but I will be putting a few (well, quite a lot), in to a biscuit tin for Maggie!  

Kilner jars ready to be filled
I found this gorgeous ribbon to decorate the jar with...

The outcome:  Maggie loved them!  She was licking her lips, barking for more and pretty much licking the floor clean.  Definite doggy validation! 

Ready to devour!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Thoughtful Christmas Shopping List

As the festive season approaches and the last few pre-Christmas pay days are ahead of us (*shriek in horror!), the annual gift panic is beginning to hit me.  I am a semi-organised person, meaning I write lots of lists but rarely tick things off them, and end up thinking of a million other things to do, hence starting a new list!  An exhausting cycle.  

However, one of my favourite Christmas time activities is creating a gift shopping list, listing friends and families names with various gift options.  The key to shopping over this hectic period is to STICK TO THE LIST and the saviour of all saviours, the internet!  I love purchasing at a click of a button and crossing a name off the satisfying.  I know Mary Portas would scowl a me and call me for contributing to the death of the highstreet, but honestly I need the convenience these days and cannot take the moral high ground, especially as I run an internet business myself.  

However, I do fondly remember the days when I was little, venturing in to town with my dad to find the perfect present for my mum.  These days, unfortunately, are long behind me, and I would much rather shop in my PJ's with a large mug of mulled wine...sorry dad!

There is nothing better than finding the perfect gift for someone, I find it truly exciting and I am extremely lucky that my family always seems find me something really thoughtful in return.  I think thoughtfulness is the key to present buying.  Like the time I saw a stunning ring in September, which I had forgotten all about come December, but found it under the Christmas tree, and the time the boyfriend picked out a stunning piece of artwork for me that he knew I would just love.  However, on the flip side I have received some rather selfish gifts during my teenage years, from my teenage brother who would consistently buy me things he wanted.  Every thirteen year old girl craves a Nintendo handset and Starwars box set right?  Sorry for shaming you dear brother!  

Stockings full of 'thoughtful' gifts
I have a friend who every year makes me something, from aprons to oven gloves, she is a complete whizz and amazingly thoughtful.  It is so special that she goes to all the time and effort in making me something that I would love.  

I don't think there is any nicer gesture than receiving a handmade batch of cookies or my annual selection of chutney's and pickles, it's love wrapped up in a parcel!  Here are some gorgeous examples below.  Just pop them in a kilner jar with a big extravagant bow and hey presto, one thoughtful gift.  However, if the boyfriend is reading this don't feel obliged to hold back on the Chanel!  

So let's make 'thoughtfulness' the key to present buying success this Christmas.  Start keeping your ears and eyes open to what your love ones want...and start making a list.  The countdown is on!

Happy shopping everyone...X

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pumpkin Time

Halloween is looming, and if like me, you enjoy to buy a pumpkin or two for your home, I thought I would showcase some alternative and oh so stylish ways to style your pumpkins this year.  So it's not all ghoul...more autumnal, understated and gorgeous!

I'm all about the final result, so I love thinking about the design of a pumpkin but in reality hate the process of scooping out all of the 'insides' and the mess that comes along with it.  I wish you could buy a prepared pumpkin which is just ready to idea anyone?  Although a potential pumpkin pie or some pumpkin soup is a good outcome to all the 'scoopage'!   

So with all this in mind I just love the idea of buying a beautifully shaped pumpkin (even ridges, pert stork and an even round shape - yes I did just type that, I sound like a pumpkin connoisseur!).  Instead of cutting it in to pieces and making a spooky face with a knife and an artistic hand, just simply paint the thing!  Avoid the all out Halloween look and instead it turns itself in to a chic autumnal kitchen accessory.  

Painted Pumpkins

Grey Painted Pumpkins

I particularly like these cream painted pumpkins that have been used on this table setting.  

Cream Painted Pumpkins
Or how about metallics and mirrors...

This pale pumpkin looks so stylish, and not a hint of horror film about it.

If you are more traditional with your pumpkin choice and think the obligatory orange is the way forward, how about these ideas?  I love how simple but super effective these pumpkins are.  Just drill a few holes and the candle light gives a beautiful effect.  This is one I will definitely be trying at home.  

What a sweet idea for a home made candle holder...

And these mini pumpkins in a vase of twigs are so effective...

I hope you are inspired to experiment with your pumpkin designs this year, I know I am.  Let me know how you get on.  

Autumn Shades

Autumn is truly in full swing with Virginia Creepers turning sumptuous shades of burnt orange and deep warming reds, and the streets (and my back garden for that matter) are beginning to fill with crunchy leaves.  It is a time of year that triggers the hibernation button in my brain and makes me want to fill my days with baking, pickling and making jam!  

Oh I know I'm going on, but I do just love this time of year, not only because we all can start to light a cosy fire and snuggly up in our finest cashmere knits, but also because the colour palette is just so dreamy!  Think deep autumnal shades of oranges and deep purples, and the introduction of texture and heavy textiles in to a room that just scream 'let's stay in'.

In homage to the symbol of autumn 'the pumpkin', orange can look spectacular in any room.  However, orange is a scary colour to work with, but if done right, with the right shade and the right complimenting accessories, it can look great!
Orange Room

Orange Hallway
Orange Sitting Room

Orange Accessories
Purple tones can look super cosy for this time of year and along with the Butterfly Lane pre-requisite of design...sparkling glass and shimmering home accessories, it can look elegant to boot.
Luxurious purple sitting room
What's your favourite Autumn shade?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

An Interview with Sophie Allport

We love the Sophie Allport collection here at Butterfly Lane and our customers do too!  It is the epitome of chic and understated country living, with pretty prints and delicate fine bone china.  With everything from friendly busy bees on sweet tea tidies to a country favourite chicken design on tea towels, we want it all!  

So you could imagine our delight when we found out that Sophie was launching a whole range of gorgeous kitchen accessories with Butterfly Lane's most favourite of garden creatures...the robin!  We think that a robin is not only for Christmas  (they are just so cute any time of the year!) but these fabulously festive designs with subtle snow flakes are getting us feeling rather...well, festive!  I love the idea of filling the large jug with mulled wine, and the medium jug full of gorgeous gravy for your Christmas dinner.  Whilst the mugs can be filled with steaming hot chocolate!  

They also make a splendid gift as they come in a gift box and of course have the beautiful Butterfly Lane gift wrap!  With prices starting from £5.00, what's not to like...

Sophie Allport Christmas Collection

We were lucky enough to have five minutes with the lady herself so here Sophie Allport talks to Butterfly Lane about her inspirations, her home and what she's planning to do this Christmas...  

What is the favourite part of your job? 
I’m so lucky as I get to paint as a job and I’m never happier than when I’m in my studio painting and coming up with new designs and product concepts.

What is your inspiration?
I’m continually inspired by the world around me.  Nature and the countryside fascinate me and the changes of the seasons and their colour are incredible.  I have three young boys and their excitement rubs off on me.  Our Ladybird collection came from my eldest’s obsession with the cute little bugs!

If the Butterfly Lane readers were to buy one iconic piece from your collection, what should they buy?  
Our best selling products are our double oven gloves and tea towels.  They’re 100% cotton and really durable and people come back time and again and buy more in different designs.  Our products are high quality but we think still reasonably priced.  A tea towel is £5 and a pair of double oven gloves is £13.

'Busy Bee' Oven Gloves £13.00

Tea Towels £5.00 each

How would describe your homes style?
I think a home should be comfortable and a place to feel completely relaxed (which is difficult with three boys under 7 causing chaos!)  I live in a barn conversion that has plenty of natural light and I’ve mixed hard surfaces like natural wood with soft furnishing in the form of rugs and cushions.  I’m obsessed with colour and my home style could probably be described as quite simple and neutral but I like to bring in pattern and contrast with colourful accessories like throws, cushions and in the kitchen with my tea towels, oven gloves, chair pads and tablecloths.

How do you unwind after a stressful day in the studio?
I love relaxing in front of our woodburner at this time of year with a nice glass of wine.  There’s nothing better than snuggling up with my boys to watch a family favourite like Strictly Come Dancing!

How would you spend the perfect weekend?  
I absolutely love the north Norfolk coast.  This is where the inspiration for my Sailing Boat range came from.  The big skies and vast open beaches make for great family walks and cricket and rounders matches.  I always like to cook a Roast on Sunday – there’s something so rewarding about the family all sitting together and indulging in a lovely meal before collapsing in front of the fire with the papers.

What does the future hold for Sophie Allport? 
I’m working on some great new collections for Spring and Summer 2013 and we’re planning to widen the range of products we sell even further.  New launches this month are our hot water bottle covers, pot grabs and after so much demand we are now selling rectangular hob covers that fit Rayburns.  We’ve also just opened our first showroom at our head office near Stamford so we’re hoping that will go well this Christmas and into next year.

We have just launched your gorgeous Christmas Robin collection on Butterfly Lane.  Have you even begun to think about Christmas yet in the Allport house?  
Funny you should ask that as we did our brochure photoshoot at my house a few months ago and had to get a Christmas tree decorated and set up all the fairy lights etc.  It felt very strange in August and my boys got very confused!  We have booked the Christmas pantomime and organised who’s hosting Christmas day in the family but that’s as far as I’ve got.  It’s always such a busy time for us at Sophie Allport that I really should start planning my present buying but can’t quite bring myself to think about it yet!

Sophie Allport's Christmas Collection is now available at Butterfly Lane

Finally, if you could buy anything from Butterfly Lane (apart from your gorgeous collection!), what would you buy? 
You have such a lovely collection of things... I would probably treat myself to your ‘Rose and Peony’ soap.  I love my gardening and roses are my absolute passion.  To be reminded of that wonderful smell in a soap would be a real treat. 

Our gorgeous range of soaps that Sophie Allport has her eye on

Rose & Peony Soap, £5.95
View all of our gorgeous Sophie Allport collection here.