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.

Wear It Pink Homewares for Breast Cancer Now (Giveaway)

Wear it Pink

Wayfair.co.uk have a number of Wear It Pink homewares for sale in support of Breast Cancer Now, who are hosting #WearItPink on Friday 23rd October. I have some to fab Wear It Pink homewares to giveaway, but in return I would love your help in sharing the #wearitpink message.

All over the country people at home, work and school will be able to join in with #wearitpink, standing together against breast cancer. What stuck out when I was researching this post, was that Breast Cancer Now want to ensure no one dies from Breast Cancer by 2050.

Breast Cancer Now is the leading breast cancer research charity in the UK & Ireland, researching treatments, causes and prevention of breast cancer. One of the suppliers to Wayfair.co.uk is Ethos, Ethos has proudly supported the charity since 2010, (via Breast Cancer Campaign who amalgamated with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to form Breast Cancer Now), with a range of special pink homewares. Over the past three years Ethos are pleased to announce that they have exceeded their fundraising target of £30,000 and committed to raising a further £20,000 by 2015.

I am sure we all know someone who needs a heart emblazoned tea towel, apron or oven gloves. I can’t say I am pink’s number one fan, but this apron is gorgeous,  #wearitpink when baking and I think the tea towels would make a wonderful, warming addition to the kitchen. They would make lovely stocking fillers too I think.

So what you waiting for?


Shop it Pink!

For the full range of Wear It Pink homewares from Ethos at Wayfair.co.uk, for Breast Cancer Now, including saucepans, frying pans, pedal bin and juicer please click here.




I have an Ethos Breast Cancer Now set, as pictured above, to giveaway. I would love those of you on Twitter or Facebook to raise awareness of these Ethos Breast Cancer Now products by spreading my #wearitpink rafflecopter message, and sharing this giveaway.

Buy something regardless, it is a great cause.

To enter just leave a comment and follow the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock other entries. I have also made tweeting the message compulsory, as this is for charity. If you can share this post on Facebook too, please do.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
More competitions here Image credit Shutterstock – Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer

When holidays make you want to knock walls down at home

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

Do holidays ever give you grand designs on your home? Do they make you want to brandish the power tools, or the hammer, when you get home? We had a big sense of that after staying in our Moda Plus with Canvas Holidays, we just lived so easily there. It was really well designed and spacious, and quickly gave us a sense of how easy open plan living can be, so since we have been home we have been full of ideas to:

  • Link indoors and outdoors
  • Knock through living spaces
  • Think more cleverly about storage

The builder has been round to talk about knocking through our two downstairs rooms (playroom and living room) and building a door to the garden from what would then become a giant living room. Our house is Victorian, but we live so differently to the Victorians. Although, one modern trend I can’t cope with is open cupboards – unless you have the time to organise and keep on top of them they are a nightmare –  I’m inspired by all the clever storage cupboards in our Moda Plus though,  I think our floor to tall ceiling Victorian cupboards will stay – they add character too. I want to replace the open toy storage in what used to be the playroom with cupboards with doors.

Canvas Holidays

We chose Canvas Holidays’ Berny Riviere site, Camping La Croix de Vieux Pont, in Picardy, about an hour from Paris. It was perfectly placed to allow us to get to Paris, Eurodisney and to see my cousin who lives near Paris. It’s a really easy drive from Calais, around 3 hours, on very straightforward, clear roads.

This space really proved how easy family life can be when you have clever storage, plenty of opportunity to move from indoors to outdoors, and open plan spaces. The kitchen diner facilitated easy communication, helped us keep on top of our clutter – the last thing you want to be doing on holiday is running up and down stairs to find things –  and made it easy to relax and be together.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

We loved the doors out onto the decking, having this made us feel as if we were outdoors, even when we were lounging on the huge corner sofa together. The corner sofa is a sofa bed, so in a Moda Plus 3 bedroom you can actually fit 8 in this space, we used it when my cousin visited – Canvas campsites are great places for family to get together.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

I always dreamt of a decking, like you see in American films, big enough to fit a garden swing seat on, and to hang out together. Now I want to extend ours and wrap it round the house…

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The Moda Plus on Canvas Holidays was perfect after a busy day swimming, kayaking, cycling, bowling, go karting, or playing at the man made beach. It really was like having your own little house and garden to come home to.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The bedrooms were compact, but so well designed with plenty of clever storage. Suitcases and shoes under the beds, clothes in the wardrobe, bits and pieces in over head lockers. We had a 3 bedroom Moda Plus, so apart from when family visited, the kids had a room each, which allowed them to spread out their stuff more.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The Moda Plus had a shower, sink and toilet in one bathroom and a second toilet, both were spacious – nothing like a caravan bathroom!

The deck was a great place to hang out as a family and to entertain my cousin and family who visited.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The bar stools were also a favourite place to hang out, and talk nonsense, or to prepare for an exciting day ahead with breakfast. I would love to have a breakfast bar at home. Again, the Moda Plus might be a small ground floor space, but it has everything I want in a house.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays


Home Decoration Inspiration

Moda Plus Canvas holidays Home Inspiration

Bar stool, curtain and corner sofa from Wayfair UK.


Canvas Holidays

Hope you have enjoyed this tour of our Moda Plus on Canvas Holidays. The Canvas Holidays welcome is very friendly, and the wine we were left was top notch.

canvas holidays croix de la vieux pont berny riviere - 01

Canvas Holidays have a wide range of accommodation on their sites, ranging from bring your own tent pitches to safari tents, a range of mobile homes and log lodges – there really is something for all budgets, tastes and groups.

Find out more about Canvas Holidays who have sites all over Europe, bursting with stuff to keep families happy. Read more about what we got up to on site and locally here.

We were guests of Canvas Holidays, opinions and editorial remain my own.

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.

ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/one-handwoven-wool-throw-worth-%C2%A3150#sthash.XzssROLD.dpuf

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?

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