A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

How to Make Easy Chocolate Waffles

Chocolate Waffles

One of our favourite things this Summer was Chocolate Waffles, we did an awful lot of watersports with Mark Warner at their Levante resort, so I think we earned them! So the hunt began, how to make some nice and easy Chocolate Waffles?

Back home and the rain has returned, Mr G tells me it is a storm from the Atlantic (he is full of weather facts, he must be learning about it at school). We’ve been looking back to our holidays and recreating some of our favourite treats to cheer us up. Last week the kids had INSET and so we made Baklava using the recipe the chef at Levante emailed over for us. We were so excited to have it, we had to make it straight away, I will be sharing that recipe later this month, so look out for it, it is amazing.

We’ve mastered pancakes for breakfast, having a dual hinged pancake pan to make them in is the best thing ever, so waffles and waffle making implements have to be next.

I found this retro waffle maker at the bargain price of £21.99 at Wayfair UK, and I have one to give away today too. I love that it makes heart shaped ones, I am pretty sure we first fell in love with heart shaped waffles at Corfu Club last Summer.

Retro Waffle Maker

After scouring the internet, BBC good food came up with this recipe for the electric waffle maker. All that’s left is to stock up on Nutella, and maple syrup. We also enjoyed them with fruit and yogurt and with toffee sauce and chopped nuts at Levante.

Now Autumn/Winter weekend breakfast will forever take us back to this place…if you want to read more about our travels with Mark Warner, check out our family travel blogging.

In this video L shows us why she needed so much nutella on her pancakes! I can’t believe how much she did in a week. Watch the jet skiing, seriously impressive!


The giveaway

To win a retro waffle maker and wake up with easy chocolate waffles at the weekends, simply tell me what you like on your waffles in a comment, and use the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock other entries.

Do check out my other giveaway this month too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Retro Waffle Maker. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence.
Closing date for entries is 31/10/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 1 week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/retro-waffle-maker#sthash.8MS28pLf.dpuf

5 unique wool items for your home


Wool Week is the week to celebrate all things wooly, so I’ve picked out some unique wool items which warmed my cockles. While wool window shopping I discovered wool doesn’t have to be expensive, but was also reminded why it is a good investment for the home too. Wool is a wonderful natural resource, biodegradable, breathable, renewable. Wool is naturally stain resistant, naturally flame retardant, it dyes easily while remaining colourfast and maintains its appearance longer than other fabrics.

Wool is a great product to have in your home, but it is easy to forget that, so here are some lovely wooly reminders.


My top 5 unique wool items

Snuggly Bike Seat

This year for Wool Week sheep moved into Savile Row, centre of UK men’s tailoring, the street was turned into a green pasture. Last year during wool week there was a cycle ride through London, which is why this bicycle seat from Wayfair UK really caught my eye. It keeps the seat warm in Winter and cool in Summer. But, not for everyone of course, but I have picked out some more serious wool items for the home too.


Handwoven in the UK

This Gallery Hand Woven Wool Throw was made in the UK and comes in different colours, Auburn, Dark Grey and Pebble. It’s lightweight, not what you think of when you think wool throw, but I am betting it is super warm too. I have one to give-away today.


New homes for knitting

This knitted lampshade from Knit Factory comes in a great range of shades, I love the olive green too. Knit Factory have lots of imaginative knitted products for the home, I love the idea of adding warmth and texture to lampshades for a truly cosy corner.

Knitted Wool Lampshade


Wool rugs

Wool rugs are great for trapping dust particles in the air, until the vacuum next passes. If I had to pick a wool rug from the huge range at Wayfair, then the Pebble Rug adds interest and is great value. But the Happy Friday Vintage Blue Rug (below) is really unusual, in colour and style.

Patchwork Cushions

I would have to have the Lola Vintage Kilim cushions to match. In fact the whole Happy Friday range is worth investigating.

Vintage Kilim Cushion


To win a Gallery Hand Woven Wool Throw in Auburn, Dark Grey or Pebble, just comment telling me about your favourite woolly item and follow the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock more entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get involved in wool week

To win a On Friday 9th October, The Campaign for Wool will be supporting ‘Woolly Hat Day’ in support of ‘The Mission to Seafarers’ charity that provides care for seafarers around the world. Across the UK, The Campaign for Wool will encourage its partners, retailers and wool lovers to put on their finest woolly hats to raise money and support this important cause. New woolly hat patterns from Marie Wallin, Craft Revolution, Wool and the Gang and other leading knitwear designers will be available to download on campaignforwool.org.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Wool Throw. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence.
Closing date for entries is 31/10/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 1 week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

Quick Dinners – Feta and Spinach Frittata

Quick Dinners - Feta and Spinach Fritatta


Feta and Spinach Frittata has to be my favourite quick lunch, especially after a run in the morning, but frittata is also the perfect carb free dinner if you are trying to get back on track after indulging. Eggs always come to the rescue when we need a quick dinner.


Feta and Spinach Frittata



Defrost a handful of cubes of frozen spinach, chop an onion and half a red pepper, chop 1/4 of a block of feta into small cubes. Beat 3 eggs and add a pinch of mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper.



Fry the onion in oil in a frying pan until soft, add red pepper and fry until softened.  Pour the egg mixture over the red peppers and onions, dot the frozen spinach and feta around the pan.

Cook gently, until the bottom of the omelette looks like it is set. Stick it under the grill to set the top.

Serve with green salad.


Quick Dinners - Feta and Spinach Fritatta

Eggs are Max’s favourite dinner too.

Quick Dinners - Feta and Spinach Fritatta


Do you have a favourite frittata or omelette recipe?

I promised myself I would learn how to make omelettes this year, after enjoying them daily at the omelette station at Mark Warner, Levante resort this summer.


More amazing easy egg recipes

If you like egg recipes, you might also like this recipe for Sweet Potato hash with baked eggs on top or this Courgette Pie.

Easy Peasy Leftover Sausage Casserole

Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

This Easy Peasy Leftover Sausage Casserole is a great dish to follow the day after sausage and mash, or indeed any meal where you make sausages. I am all for meals that lead me onto the next day’s meal. I use Cauldron vegetarian sausages, they hold their shape brilliantly and have a slightly spicy taste.


1 tsp vegetable oil

6 pre cooked sausages, I like the chopped, because it is easier to eat, but whole works too (Cauldron sausages are great for veggies)

1 onion

1 garlic clove

half a tsp chilli powder

1 can chopped tomatoes – I like it tomatoey, you can use half to a full can, to taste.

1 tbsp tomato puree

150ml vegetable stock

2 tsp vegetarian worcester sauce, or marmite

2 tsp dark brown sugar

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh time and 1 of rosemary

I tin of butter or flageolet beans, drained and rinsed

salt and pepper

Glass of red wine if you fancy



You can cook on the hob or the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to high.

  1. If I have time I fry some ingredients on the hob in the oil first, fry the onions until soft first, then gently fry the garlic for a couple of minutes until the onions begin to brown and then the spices – this brings out the flavours more. If I don’t have time I simply put everything straight in the slow cooker, it’s a strong enough tasting dish, so it still works well.

You can carry on cooking on the hob at this point, just add all the other ingredients and simmer the casserole gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

2. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with some bread, white crusty is great for soaking up the juice, brown if you are being more virtuous.

How to make salt and vinegar crisps



My son went to the farm on a trip last week, to discover where our food comes from and brought back a potato. His homework was to make something with it, so he chose crisps. Not the healthiest thing to come from a potato, but it was fun and something exciting to do on a rainy afternoon. Mister G is not a keen cook or baker, so it was a great way to get him cooking with me and Miss L helping.

He had to write his own account of how to make salt and vinegar crisps, so I thought it would be fun to share what we did with you too.


Salt and Vinegar Crisps




Vinegar – any choice of vinegar e.g. malt, apple cider, white wine, red wine can all work – it depends on your taste.



How to make salt and vinegar crisps

Find a way to slice the potatoes, we used a spiralizer, but most kitchens have special slicing kitchen gadgets – food processors, sharp knife, veg graters, the side of cheese graters, peelers…

How to make salt and vinegar crisps


Soak the potatoes in vinegar for 10 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and dry them on a clean tea towel, the drier they are the quicker they will cook.

How to make salt and vinegar crisps

Oil a plate and lay the potatoes out in a single layer on the plate, put them in the microwave for 10 minutes initially, or until they crisp and brown gently. Some batches took up to 20 minutes, it depends how wet they are.

You don’t need to keep oiling the plate, unless they really seem to stick, I found the spatula was enough to lift them each time.

It’s worth the wait, they really do crisp up quite magically and taste good too.

Don’t forget to sprinkle them with salt!

How to make salt and vinegar crisps

I did put a couple of trays worth in the oven too, but they seemed to brown and crisp more unevenly, I will have to return to that experiment.

Home Reflections: Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

I received my invitation to the Amara Interior Blog Awards in the post, which cheered me up immensely, look at it, what an amazing invite. A Residence made the shortlist for the second year running, for the Best Organisation Blog category, I should stress this means best blog for Wayfair.co.uk as an organisation, not best organised – you will see why I would never win the latter in a moment.

A Residence weaves Penny Alexander’s personal blog with everything home and garden from Wayfair UK the homestore, a unique way to explore what really makes a house a home.

I was trying to take a photo of this glorious invite to the Interior Blog Awards ceremony at the Ham Yard in London  (Friends who still Iive in London, am I in for a treat? Last year’s awards at the Rosewood was amazing) Suddenly I realised that rather than being an annoying distraction, the reflections were actually quite interesting and were making me see my home in a new and better light.

I am in the dog house today, I lost Mr A’s driving licence along with a parcel ticket yesterday. I feel like the walls of our house are coming in on me this week, do you ever have those weeks, where the clutter is overflowing and your poor home is crying out for some attention? It is no wonder things are going astray. But with the first clear weekend in months ahead of us, I am confident we will reclaim our lovely home.

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

Max the greyhound stepped into the frame at exactly the right moment, he is always there like a shadow, watching me as I go about my work at home days. It reminded me of a shot I took when we were repainting the hallway white, and he stood there, black against the bright white, and it felt like a new start.

To distract myself from the lost driving licence I decided to take some pictures of some of the projects I HAVE completed and blogged about this year so far. My son’s superhero bedroom makeover, complete with camo net and Incredible Hulk wall art.

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

My daughter’s room where we turned her wardrobe into a tardis.

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

The kitchen makeover.

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

And the picture you saw first, the travel themed hallway.

Shortlisted in the Amara Interior Blog Awards

And my next project, finish my office!

Shortlisted in the Amara Awards

This also reminds me of that amazing photographer who showed the truth behind her Instagrams recently, by showing the Instragram frame within the wider setting. I’ve cropped these, but you can still see that my son doesn’t make his bed, my daughter’s shelves are heaving with stuff, there are toys all over the living room floor, the tuppaware and biscuit tin ruining the look of the open shelving in the kitchen. That’s life.

I feel like we’ve come a long way this year, homes are never ending aren’t they. But as always, I am glad to have one over my head and it is very special to me. It is made all the more special by sharing what makes a house a home here with Wayfair UK, who have given me a rather lovely virtual home and are great fun to work with.

Thanks once again to Amara for having Wayfair.co.uk and A Residence in the Interior Blog Awards shortlist, it is a real honour and we can’t wait to celebrate all things interior with you. You can explore the shortlists here.

Now someone tell me I am not alone, is clutter driving you mad too?

Do you struggle to see the bigger picture sometimes when in the midst of home improvements?

Style Challenge: Autumn Throws

Autumn Throws


It’s #stylechallenge time. Each month I compete with 3 other bloggers for the style challenge crown. This month’s theme is Autumn throws and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Sunday was spent on the sofa at last, after running my first half marathon I felt I had earned it. We dragged the throws out of the blanket box, they smelt musty and my daughter kept pointing out dog slobber on them. They are now hanging out on the washing line this misty morning here in Nottingham. But, looking at the mismatched collection of throws from my office window, I am dreaming of an update.

This Kilburn and Scott throw is in the sale at Wayfair.co.uk as I write. It comes in four colours, as you can see in the picture above, but I like the warm red, the zig zags add a bit of direction, albeit rebellious, to our easily messed up family living room and the tassles add some character and style. It looks more expensive than it is and is lightweight so doesn’t take up lots of room in the blanket box.


Kilburn and Scott Throw


You might also like the throws I put together earlier this month in a living room inspired by the piano lounge at Sensorati resort in Turkey. Blue is such a great colour, sadly we lose so much of it as we head into Autumn, yet it is a colour scientifically proven to enhance your creativity. Links to products in that post. Chunky knits are always in fashion, but particularly this year.


Living Room Enlightenment - Use blue to boost your creativity


Or for a similar look to the one above, the black, white and red fisherman’s blanket in my Swiss Family Robinson House Fantasy post is just gorgeous. Links to these gorgeous finds in that post.


Swiss Family Robinson Style

Have you find your dream Autumn throws yet? There are lots of gorgeous throws to browse at Wayfair, I should know – it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it 😉

Check out what Becky, Amanda and Jen picked out for the #stylechallenge too, and let me know your style favourite this week!

Book Review: Upcycle – 24 Sustainable DIY Projects

Upcycle Book I was sent a copy of Upcycle: 24 Sustainable DIY Projects, by Rebecca Proctor. If like me,  you like to dabble in different crafty projects, without being particularly expert in one, but want impressive results for your energies, then these fairly simple, but striking high end upcycle projects, with step by step instructions will appeal. I love this wine box ottoman above, it can also be made with apple crates.

Some of them are more obvious upcycle projects,  it wouldn’t be an upcycle book without a pallet project for example. But the difference here is in the finish, all of the projects are designed by international product designers, so they wouldn’t look out of place in a modern art gallery.


Upcycle_Pallet window shelf


Another project that appealed was this Morgan Rope Mat, made from sailing rope.


Upcycle sailing rope rug


You can see the step by step instructions, with diagrams are clear. None of the projects have more than two page spreads of instructions.


Upcycle sailing rope rug instructions


Lots of the upcycle projects allow you to simply transfer existing craft skills to a project, this is a great one for cross stitch fans for example.


Upcycle_Cross Stitch Chair


Crochet lovers might enjoy taking their skills to an upcycle project. It’s all double crochet, so not too challenging. The shape is formed by crocheting around the bottle, so again, no complex crocheting instructions to follow.


Upcycle_Crocheted Vase


I wouldn’t attempt everything in the book – woodwork always seems like a lot of work, although I have to say the clear instructions demystify that for me a lot – but there are definitely a few more projects I could have shared here as ‘ones to try’.  I found the presentation, with introductions about the designers and information about each material that was being upcycled inspiring.


Have you enjoyed upcycling anything lately?

House Fantasy: Swiss Family Robinson Style House


Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris

Who doesn’t fantasise about living in a self build treehouse on a desert island which creatively upcycles the very shipwreck that landed you in paradise? It’s a homemaker’s dream. Well I think so anyway, which is why today I am taking inspiration for a Swiss Family Robinson Style House from Disneyland Paris.

I am a theme park cynic, on a rainy grey day Disneyland looked more like Dismaland when we arrived, but my heart soon warmed to the cleverly realised film sets. Escaping into the Swiss Family Robinson style house feels quite magical; apart from other tourists and a glimpse of the famous castle turrets, you could be deep in the forest.

The Swiss Family Robinson is a children’s novel, by Johann David Wyss, first published in 1812, about a Swiss family shipwrecked in the East Indies en route to Port Jackson, Australia. The novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. All important skills for home owners! In 1960 Disney made it into a film.

I loved the story and so it was magical to climb up the treehouse and imagine the Robinson family. Shipwrecks are somewhat romanticised of course, food seems incredibly plentiful for starters.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 1

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 1

I would love my desk to be in a treehouse, wouldn’t you? I love the ship’s captain feel of the desk, and the nautical touches like the sails as shelter, the ships lanterns and starfish and shells as paperweights.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 2

Most of all I love the idea of working in a tree, looking at it’s trunk with all my treasures surrounding me. The treasure chests and lanterns give this room an adventurous feel. Don’t tell anyone, but I love the treehouse in High School Musical too…

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 2

I had to smile when I saw this room, they even got the organ (?) into the treehouse. Love the lanterns and the ship’s wheel is even put to use.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 3

The sleeping quarters gave me ideas too. I loved the netting to screen off the rooms, the treasure chests as bedside tables and the patchwork quilts. The net also makes a canopy over the bed, with a ship’s lantern hung over it. I’d quite like this look for our attic bedroom.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 4 Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 5

Love this bedside lamp…

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 4

The children’s room used the hammocks, I am guessing from the ship. Love the cheeky hook for grabbing bananas from the top bunk!

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 5

Which just leaves me with the gorgeous task of trying to bring this look to life. I had a rummage in the Wayfair treasure chest, and this is what I found. The desk and some other bits were in the sale when I last looked, so if anything takes your fancy, you might even grab a nautical bargain.

Swiss Family Robinson Style

Fisherman Blanket, Fisherman Lamp, 3 Drawer Sideboard, Bureau DeskStatement Lamp, Gilt Mirror, Recycled Quilt, Map Chest.

I also have a Pinterest board I created a while back, for no real reason other than I had spent some time photographing fisherman’s huts in Kent. If you like the shipwreck, sea, treehouse theme then you might like some of the house ideas and inspirations I pinned there too.

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Fisherman’s Huts on Pinterest.


Time for you to confess your most bizarre house fantasy? Has a book or a film inspired a house fantasy for you?

Who will you make peace with today? #peaceday



I still have CND badges collected as a child of the 70s, I still remember watching blue flags with white doves flying in Manchester on peace day in the mid 80s. Peace was always a topic of discussion in my family growing up. I’ve also never forgotten the assembly my old headmaster did for peace day, on chaos theory and the butterfly effect, but more on that in a moment.

September 21st is International Day of Peace and, as the world finally comes to terms with the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, it seems like excellent timing to reflect on what a world at peace could look like.


One day makes a big difference

Peace Day has shown what a difference a day can make. The UN reported a 70% reduction in violent incidents in Afghanistan on Peace Day, and 10,000 health workers were able to vaccinate millions of children against Polio due to the ceasefire.

Since 2013 the UN has put a focus onto education, the sustainable way to bring about peace is to educate future generations.


International Day of Peace

The theme of this year’s peace day is co-operation, different groups in society working together for peace:

Every year on the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls on the people of the world to reaffirm their commitment to living in harmony as members of a single human family…

This year’s commemoration, “Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All”, highlights the importance of cooperation in silencing the guns and advancing the cause. Without the support of governments, civil society, the private sector, faith-based groups and non-governmental organizations, peace will remain elusive…

Let us stand with the millions of people across the world who are suffering the devastating impact of violence and conflict. Let us share ideas and plans for helping and supporting them in their time of dire need…

Together, as “partners for peace”, we can achieve a world of peace, prosperity and dignity for all.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

How can I help create peace?

Awareness of the day makes a huge difference, so here are five simple, but effective things you can do this peace day.

1. Take time to think or talk to others about peace and why it is important. If you have children it is a golden opportunity to talk to them about the idea of peace and to ask them how it might be achieved.

2.Share the news about peace day.

Awareness of peace day creates action, and that action saves lives
Jude Law – Peace One Day Ambassador

3. Find out more about what you can do to help those suffering the impact of violence and conflict.

4. Make peace with someone or something,  peace is about fostering co-operation. Think about it like the butterfly effect. A small change in one small place, can have a much bigger impact in another bigger place.

5. Join the peace thunderclap, make some noise on social media #peaceday




More information via the UN and Peace One Day

Older Posts     |