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.

Happy and Home: How to Make Elderflower Champagne

How to make Elderflower Champagne

When I was 18 my Mum presented me with a cookbook with all my favourites and many ideas from across the family. This recipe was one of hers and while I remember her making it when I was small, I was always too young to taste this mildly alcoholic brew. Walking with Max over the bank holiday weekend I stumbled on some elderflowers and decided, after all these years, it was time to try out that recipe.


Mum’s recipe was a little vague because she could do it with her eyes closed, but after checking a number of recipes online I discovered the quantities were right and also picked up a couple of  tricks to ensure the method is foolproof. I don’t want to experience glass exploding across the kitchen or miss out completely on fizz because the wild flower yeast fails. I also learnt Elderflower Champagne is the perfect introduction to home brewing for those who have never tried it before.

My Dad loved to home brew beer and I vividly remember the smell of it fermenting away under the stairs. My only and very successful attempt at home brewing was with a peach schnapps kit my brother bought me for Christmas one year in an ‘under a fiver gift challenge’ that kept on giving.

For various reasons I have feeling this is going to make me feel very happy and home: bringing back happy childhood home memories, celebrating the art of foraging, bringing in the summer and making merry; Elderflower Champagne is between 1 and 3 percent alcoholic.

How to make Elderflower Champagne

If you join me now, we can have a little elderflower champagne knees up in 3 weeks – who is in?


1 gallon or 4.5 litres water

2 lemons

6-8 elderflower heads

2 tbs white wine vinegar

(You may need bread or brewers yeast – see step 5)

Plastic bottles (much safer than glass which may explode).


  1. Shake the elderflowers to make sure there are no bugs lurking, slice up the lemons and place lemons and elderflower heads in a clean pan with the water. Leave for 24-36 hours
  2. Strain the liquid through a clean muslin cloth or sieve.
  3. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir until dissolved
  4. Funnel into two large and sterilised* plastic drink bottles (much safer than glass which can explode under carbon dioxide pressure).  Place the lids on but don’t screw too tightly so excess gas can escape.
  5. After a couple of days bubbles should start to appear*, the result of wild yeast in the flowers.
  6. After 1-2 weeks the bubbles will slow down and stop, once they have stopped, tighten the lids, give the bottles a few days to settle and then move to the fridge.


You can buy sterilising solution, or some people suggest buying bottled water, pouring the water into a jug or fill up everyone’s water bottles and using the new bottles immediately.

No bubbles
If this doesn’t happen by day 10, you need to add a pinch of yeast – bread making or brewer’s yeast are fine

Too many bubbles
Keep an eye on the plastic bottle bulging. You may need to release some gas from the bottle, you can test this by squeezing the bottle, a bottle that can’t be squeezed needs some gas releasing.

Taste test
The Elderflower champagne gets more dry as it ferments, so taste testing is the best way to work out when it is exactly right for your tastes.

You may want to place the bottle in a plastic box with a large towel over, just in case!


What’s made you feel happy and home recently?


Written a post full of home love? Join up with #happyandhome

Last week on Happy and Home I loved Cass at Frugal Family’s small things that made me smile!

To join in, just pick a recent post that shares your love of home – it could be recipes, crafts, ideas, homes, gardens, family, friends, fun – click on the blue button to add your post link. The link up starts on Tuesday and finishes on Monday.

Add the badge to help spread the word. I will be reading, tweeting, pinning etc. Please join in by commenting and/or sharing socially too using #happyandhome

I will share some of the posts that inspired happy homes the following week. Let’s get happy and home! Penny x


Help yourself to a badge

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Happy and Home at A Residence blog


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25 super filling 100 calorie snacks

25 super filling 100 calorie snacks

I’ve had an amazing birthday week and eaten and drunk more than I would normally – and it was brilliant  – but I thought I might remind myself of some of my favourite healthy snacks too, just to tip the balance back a little, although don’t worry, you will find crumpets and hot chocolate in here too.

At the moment I am enjoying eating whatever foods I like, but trying to be a bit mindful about it and make snacks more of a mini meal than something grabbed while standing in front of the kitchen cupboard. So here are 25 healthy and filling snacks that also happen to come in under 100 calories. Continue reading

Garden Inspiration: Celebrating 300 years of Capability Brown at Highclere Castle

Garden Inspiration: Celebrating 300 years of Capability Brown at Highclere Castle

You can always rely on a taxi driver to set the scene when you arrive in a new place. On route to a press day at Highclere Castle I discovered Hugh Bonneville, of Downton Abbey fame had also sat in my cab, a rescue mission by my driver, after he refused to be driven a mile further by the reckless driver who had picked him up in London. As well as Hugh, hoards of Australian, Japanese and American tourists had also sat in the back of the same cab. One woman from New York flew in and out in a day, just to see Highclere, after managing to purchase a ticket for the castle online; pre booked tickets sell out fast, but there are also limited tickets available on the door.

As we left the main road, the vast swathes of land the castle inhabits came into view and my taxi driver told me about the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. As we rounded the bend and the castle appeared, my driver told me that one car load of young girls actually screamed at this point. I felt like a disappointing passenger, the view was incredible, but I wasn’t sure when to admit that I have never watched Downton Abbey, which was filmed here. It slipped out later, when I was chatting to the 8th Earl of Carnarvon about Egyptian relics over scones and tea. Continue reading

Reflecting on what makes a happy home #happyandhome

Rope mirrors from Wayfair UK with printers block reflected

What makes a happy home? It’s a quest I have been on for a few months now, I’ve looked at homes in different countries, considered my own home, I have loved reading other people’s posts about finding the happy in their homes. My curiosity has now got the better of me,  happy homes has become a research project. In case you missed it, I’ve moved Happy and Home to Tuesday. Continue reading

#happyandhome is moving to Tuesday

HappyAndHome 6

Just a note to say #happyandhome will be moving to Tuesdays from now on, Monday is always such a busy day, it makes sense to move it a day.  My quest to find out what makes us happy at home continues tomorrow!

Bloggers – if you have a post full of love of things happy and home – a happy moment at home, gardens, crafts, food, interiors, home makeovers, entertaining family and friends, relaxing or enjoying life at home – do come and link up a post tomorrow.

Giveaway: Garden Games Giant Dominos

Garden games - giant dominoes

Lazy weekends in the garden are becoming a more regular thing, the summer holidays are not too far off on the horizon now, time to get ready for a summer of family fun. But it can be hard to find something all the family wants to do together.

Dominoes is such an easy game to play for all ages, it is one of our favourite quick to play games that doesn’t end in arguments or require lots of setting up. I always remember playing it at my grandparents when my brother and I went to stay for the weekend, and it brings back such happy memories.

Wayfair have lots of lovely outdoor play equipment, including garden games. How about a giant wooden tower of bricks – my two love to build with these as well as playing jenga, or how about croquet, quoits, play parachutes or tin can alley? I have vivid memories of playing croquet as a kid, on the modest front lawn of a very normal housing estate, it may seem unlikely, but seeing up new croquet courses kept my brother and I entertained on many sunny days.

Continue reading

Giveaway: Achieve Garden Lighting Nirvana

I have been having a little rummage at Wayfair for lights for my garden and stumbled across these beauties. Wayfair actually have masses of garden lighting options, but I love these because they are solar powered and don’t require any complex DIY to install.

Garden lighting giveaway

To celebrate I have either a set of these Nirvana Decorative Lights worth £49.99 or £50 to spend on garden lighting of your choice from Wayfair.co.uk. Do check out my other garden giveaway too! Continue reading

Church Pine vinyl wood effect flooring from Harvey Maria

New flooring - wood effect premium vinyl in Church Pine from Harvey Maria

It looks like wood right? But it’s vinyl. I wanted to share a few more pictures of my office floor today and explain how premium vinyl wood effect flooring worked for me, in case you are thinking about it.

I’m really pleased with it, I really love wood, but we have floorboards downstairs and it is draughty underfoot, and dirt engrains and the polish soon comes off. Vinyl feels like the best of both worlds, the look of wood but vinyl is durable, warmer and easy to clean.

If you want a proper look around my new office please be my guest here, this is the fantastic magnetic blackboard wall which kickstarted the whole project, the flooring really sets it all off. Continue reading

Have you tried switching it off and on again? #happyandhome


Rooms Made For You Magnetic Plaster Office Wall Reveal

On Friday night I whisked the kids home from school, gave them free reign over the telly and went back to my computer to meet a deadline. Just as I was nearing completion, an almighty wail arose from my youngest, big fat sobs and proper tears. Fearing he had hurt himself, or another goldfish had died, I ran to see what was happening.

There he stood in the hallway, iPad dangling limply at his side, head raised to the heavens screaming. Continue reading

Get Inspired: 14 Amazing Spray Paint Ideas and Projects

Get Inspired: 14 Amazing Spray Paint Ideas and Projects

Spray paint is such a quick and easy way to transform your home. If I get an upcycling idea in my head I want to make it happen fast, before the next idea comes along and I lose interest. I know, I’m a Gemini, too many ideas going on at once! Spray paint effects and colours have exploded recently, making spray paint a brilliant alternative to slaving over a tin of paint. I’ve asked some of my favourite interiors bloggers to share their projects today, I’m betting they are going to inspire you to spray paint something…but what? Continue reading

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