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.

House Fantasy: A Villa in Ibiza

Ibiza Villa by Clickstay - 4

You know when you stumble on that villa, the one with the jaw dropping views, the incredible terrace, a complete seaside retreat, the stuff of dreams?  When you know it is absolutely the perfect situation? I caught a glimpse of Villa Wu Wei over on Clickstay, and I knew it had to be my next ‘House Fantasy’.

This blog began many moons ago, on a sun lounger in Spain, so Spain will always have a place in my heart. Ibiza is also is somewhere I never went in my youth, but there is no reason not to go with kids, it’s more than a hedonistic clubber’s paradise… Continue reading

Giveaway: Achieve Garden Lighting Nirvana

Nirvana-10-Light-Decorative-Light-3407-1
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

Put the Spring in Your Bedding & A Little Giveaway

Spring Bedding Inspirations, duvet covers to bring some Spring and summer colour to your bedroom 

I looked at the home improvements list on our fridge the other day, we are ticking so many things off at last. One thing we have been meaning to sort is duvets and sheets, as whenever we go to make a bed we never seem to have quite the right sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers to hand. With the spring bank holiday behind us and April ahead, it feels like a great time to sort spring bedding.

I love the set we bought last Spring in the sale at Wayfair. It has tiny swallows and flowers on it and the cotton is so soft, but also seems to hold the shape of the duvet and feel like a giant fluffy cloud. Spring bedding was a popular post and giveaway last year – bedding is such a wonderful treat to yourself, and a very affordable way to transform a room – so I thought I would share some more spring bedding picks today, plus you can win £50 worth of bedding of your choice. Continue reading

8 Homemade Pizza Tips (Giveaway)

8 ways to amazing homemade pizza

On Fridays in our house we love to make pizza together, each week you can guarantee someone has a new twist on last week’s pizza, a new topping to add, a different cheese. Rather than waiting for the pizza delivery, we are in the kitchen together creating. It’s quickly become a favourite family ritual.

We’ve tried a few things in the last few months, here are our top 8 homemade pizza tips: Continue reading

Date Night Swiss Chalet Style & DIY Hamper Gift Giveaway

Date Night in a Swiss Chalet

 

Pack a hamper with goodies, present to your loved one, cook up a fondue, cheese and/or chocolate, fill a flask with a hot toddy and snuggle up under a new throw, by the fire, with the candles lit and share your dreams. Retire to bed with a new duvet. Sound like the recipe for the perfect romantic evening? Today I’m sharing the love with some lovely ideas for a date night Swiss chalet style, I also have some products to giveaway to get your hamper off to a great start.

I love it when lost of great ideas come together. I’ve been exploring ways to bring a little bit of hygge to life at home, I’ve also been drawn to the Chalet chic trend. At home Mr A and I have rediscovered the fun of cooking together and cooked up a Date Night in Cairo feast with a kit I bought him for Christmas. Then the team at Wayfair created some wonderful printable tags to adorn and inspire your own Valentine’s gift hampers, they also happened to mention the team in Berlin had been out for fondue. Then it hit me, how about a Date Night in a Swiss chalet? Continue reading

Home Heros: 6 Objects that changed or improved my life

6 home heros, products that improve or change life

It seemed my post on  Monday about short cuts to success resonated, thanks for letting me know on here and on social media – may we all achieve masses in 2016! Today I thought I would share some unsung home heros. I love a chalk board for starters, especially this television shaped one, functional objects can be cool, in fact the better they look, the more you want to use them.

When I think of spending money on things for our home, I think of mugs, cushions, things that stand out and instantly bring a splash of colour and fun to life. But in January, after the excess of Christmas, our thoughts often turn to being more frugal, and to reducing our impact on the planet. As I declutter I’ve been thinking a lot about what we actually need, we have too many mugs, they don’t fit in the cupboard, and we have throws and cushions that float around the house with no real home.

On the other hand I reflected there were some things I bought last year that really made life run more smoothly. They also look good, double win.

Home Heros

Never hear the words ‘Whats for Tea?’ again

I shared the huge benefits to health, wealth, sanity, relationships and headspace of meal planning on Monday. Lots of you agreed it has changed your life. I love having our meal plans where everyone can see them, it means either me or Mr A can get cooking, and the kids know what is coming. Investing in the right tools makes any job more pleasurable. I love this Pure Heart Memo Board, by House Additions, but this television shaped chalk board came a close second for the cool factor, check it out.

I have a Pure Heart Memo Board to giveaway, see below.

 

Out of sight, out of mind

Having things safely stored away in a blanket box or wicker trunk leaves your mind open for other things. Now that my kids are older they use old toy chests as memory banks, full of folders of old paintings and school work and their memory boxes. Two giant wicker baskets mean guest bedding has a home and we have a place to stash our of season clothing.

5 a day in one swoop

What more do I need to say, a smoothie a day keeps the doctor away, how overjoyed was I to find a blender at last that doesn’t take up the whole worktop and takes seconds to clean and assemble.

Yes we can have pancakes!

I love the idea of pancakes, but be honest, slaving over a hot stove making them is a labour of love, especially when everyone else has eaten and run off before you even get to sit down with yours. Love the portion size of this, love you can make a pile of pancakes in one go. I love making banana and egg pancakes.

Go Retro

The Marlo laundry box was one where investing in something to make a loathed job happier really worked. No longer am I annoyed by the sight of a gaudy washing powder box or by spillage on the floor. (Also no-one can engage with me in boring conversations over which washing powder we use).

Thirsty Work

I found it, the perfect carafe for staying hydrated at my desk. Torpedo Carafe and Tumbler, by DRH Collection

The only way is up!

When this stair basket works, it really works. Sometimes our stairs are like an avalanche. I admit sometimes ours ends up overfilling, but I’ve promised myself to take it up and down, or encourage two little shirpas to do it, at least once a week in 2016.

 

Giveaway

Pure-Heart-Memo-Chalk-Board

To win this pure heart memo board, simply let me know what product changed your life in 2015 and then log your entry using the rafflecopter, and unlock extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Pure Heart Memo Board as outlined in the blog post. 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 31/01/2016 12 am
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within one 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.

How not to ruin Christmas Dinner and Food Processor Giveaway

Preparing for Christmas - Christmas Day Hacks

Why is it I can make the best Sunday Roast with a quick last minute trip to the local shops, and no real planning, but Christmas Dinner always seems to throw even the most accomplished chefs into a frenzy. Never fear, I have food processor to giveaway today, with my top prepping tips for Christmas Dinner on the side.

It’s all about building in ‘chef’s rewards’, planning is boring, so you need to reward yourself for doing it all, or better still delegate it to someone else. Like my friend’s mother in law, who drank so much Buck’s Fizz that everyone had to step in and cook the meal – now that is one way to delegate, but probably not going to make you popular.

Check all your equipment too, one year I pulled my trusty food processor out on Christmas Eve to find it wasn’t working.

Just before our Faux Ho Ho last week – an early Christmas celebration with Nottingham bloggers, in aid of Action Aid and Blog It Forward – Becky called me to say she was bringing crackers, I wondered why we she didn’t mention bringing cheese to go with them and put the phone down puzzled. When she turned up with Christmas crackers it dawned on me that a Christmas dress rehearsal or a bit of planning is no bad thing. Which also reminds me, blogger friends reading this – remember to Blog It Forward!

 

Planning the feast

Make a meal plan, then a shopping list, ideally while drinking mulled wine and listening to Christmas tunes. Think about kitchen equipment too, do you need new baking trays more roasting pans, have you got enough saucepans, cutlery, chairs for everyone and serving dishes?

Make a copy of this list and keep it in a safe place for next year. Even better, do it on the computer, save, print and email it to yourself, (ideally using one of the email scheduling apps, so you it pings up in our inbox this time next year) and you have it for years and years to come. I know, that last bit takes hacking a bit far doesn’t it, but you get my point, keep the list!

Eat a mince pie and celebrate your organisation skills.

Food Shopping

Reserve a food delivery if you need one and haven’t already, I just booked mine today, for Wednesday 23rd, so it is a myth they will all be gone already. So far I have a bottle of Prosecco checked out, my reward for going back and filling the basket later.

If you prefer to brave the shops yourself, go as late as possible at night or very early in the morning, it is still possible to have the place to yourself.

Food waste is terrible and bargains are great, so try to find out when the discounted food starts in the shops you use. Becky has great tips on how to save on your Christmas dinner…accept dinner at someone else’s is a great one! And Emma’s Savvy Savings is the queen of knocking money off your food shop.

Shopper’s treat – sneak something just for you in the basket a new CD, a Christmas jumper, a box of chocs.

Ahead of the Big Day
I like to set aside some time to really enjoy preparing the feast. Christmas music, family in the kitchen, or out if they don’t want to help and I fancy some peace.

I find cooking is a real joy and not a chore when you plan time for it. Gemma was saying in her blog post that baking is a wonderful distraction from the stress of Christmas.

Helen over at the Crazy Kitchen has some great tips for sides you can make and freeze ahead of the big day, if you want or need to get really ahead with food prep and enjoy more time on the day.

I love Delia’s roast veggies, they can be chopped, marinated in oil and herbs and left in a bag in the fridge for 2 days beforehand.

Being veggie makes life easy, my favourite nut roast and vegetarian gravy can be made in advance too, I can make it and either refrigerate or freeze it, ready to warm up on the big day. But if you are hosting vegetarians, or want to use it as an extra dish or stuffing, this is the nut roast to end all nut roasts.

Chef’s treat – A sneaky glass of red wine or a very large pot of tea maybe?

 

I had to include Liz’s cheat’s Christmas puddings, so easy and so sweet, over on Me and My Shadow.

 

The Big Day

It’s all about the big plan. Make a time plan and stick it somewhere prominent. Save a copy or take a photo of it so you have it next year (share it on Instagram or Twitter and tag me too @pennyalexander_) Work out how long everything needs in the oven and then work back from the time you want to eat, slotting things in as they need to start cooking.

Always build in time to enjoy the day itself too, breaks to open presents, catch up with family and escape the kitchen.

Drink some fizz, cook’s prerogative! 

 

GIveaway

Win this Tower 3.5L-Food-Processor

Take the hassle out of preparing meals with this food processor—great for slicing, kneading, blending, grinding, grating, smoothies,  and so much more.

Features

  • Watt: 1000
  • Variable speed central control knob
  • Pulse, ICE and smoothie functions
  • Stainless steel discs, housing and filters
  • Commercial micromesh filter
  • Fliter increases juice extraction and speed
  • Includes thick slicing blade and thin slicing blade
  • 10 Accessories to perform more than 30 functions
  • Capacity chopping bowl: 2L
  • Auto shut off
  • Dishwasher proof
  • Capacity blender jug: 1.5L

Just comment below by sharing your favourite Christmas hacks or tips. What makes things easier in your house? Then fill in the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Tower 3.5l Food Processor as outlined in the blog post. 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 14/12/2015 12 am
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within one 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.

Image Credit: Shutterstock – old children’s toys of the kitchen

More competitions at <a href=”http://www.theprizefinder.com” target=”_blank”>www.theprizefinder.com</a> – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/food-processor-rrp-%C2%A319999#sthash.C0JxosUe.dpuf

Style Challenge: Advent Calendar Activity Ideas (Giveaway)

Advent Calendar Hanging Bucket

This year I have fallen completely for Christmas, I am going to be so organised this month and  savour every moment of December this year.  So when Becky, Jen, Amanda and I decided on Advent Calendars for this month’s Style Challenge, instead of rolling my eyes, and muttering it was ‘still November’, I was all over it. I found some gorgeous calendars and lovely advent calendar activity ideas. I also have one to giveaway.

In my 80s childhood advent calendars were simple pictures, however, I can’t resist an advent calendar you can make your own. Although it means a little bit of preparation, it is a fun ritual that my kids love. Normally our advent calendar just has sweets in, but I’ve been toying with the idea of adding some messages, pictures and tasks too.

I love the simple Hanging Bucket Advent Calendar from House Additions at Wayfair UK (pic above). Anything that hangs rather than taking up limited table space is a very good thing. An even thriftier option is the Santa Peg set, like a mini washing line you can peg notes or wrapped sweets to. You can reuse them year after year and they look more appealing than chocolate advent calendars.

I don’t think I can keep on top of a daily activity for my family, especially now they are at school; Christmas is a busy time, so be realistic or it’s no fun. I like the idea of including fun ideas for things we can do at the weekend as a family.

Advent calendar activity ideas

Activities for the weekend

Write a Letter to Father Christmas
Let’s Buy a Christmas Tree
Decorate the tree
Let’s make Christmas biscuits
Let’s Play a board game together

A little bit of bribery can work wonders…

Treasure Hunt time – if you help write your Christmas cards I will give you a clue as to where the treasure is hiding.
It’s present wrapping day! Hot chocolate and treats when it’s done.

I like the idea of tying in with things we are doing anyway…

Good Luck in your Christmas Show today! Let’s have a treat afterwards?
We’re going to the theatre!

I also love the idea of rituals

Let’s have a mince pie, hot drink and watch a Christmas film
Let’s get your favourite Christmas books out
Christmas Craft Time!
Let’s bake something Christmassy

I think some thoughtful ones are important too

Today I need you to be spies and come home with 3 ideas of what your teacher might like for a present
Time to make a card and present for Grandma!
Let’s make and send a Christmas card to someone who doesn’t get much post
Let’s take everything we don’t need to a charity shop

If you need more ideas, Pinterest is full of advent activity printable.

 

Do you have an advent calendar tradition in your house?

Why not see what Becky from A Thrifty Home, Jen from Love Chic Living and Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary came up with for this month’s Style Challenge?

 

Giveaway

Wayfair have a range of advent calendars. I have one German Christmas House Advent Calendar, by Best Season to giveaway, just tell me about your advent calendar traditions in the comments and fill in the rafflecopter to register your entry and claim extra entries. Check out the amazing Prestige Vintage Kitchenware Giveaway too.

Best-Season-German-Christmas-Advent-House-270-57

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions There is one prize of a German House Advent Calendar as outlined in the blog post. 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 20/11/2015 One entry per person Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog. Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook 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.  

Competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/wooden-house-advent-calendar#sthash.M0XBCJo4.dpuf

Prestige Vintage Kitchenware Giveaway

Prestige Vintage - Roast Dinner - Landscape (2)

Prestige Kitchenware has been part of family life since 1938. There is something so evocative and cheerful about the Prestige Vintage collection, which is now available at Wayfair.

Prestige Vintage - Apple Pie - Portrait (2)

We love the stripy mixing bowls, and they are the perfect size, weight and durability for kids to use in cooking, although mine seem to be enjoying eating their cereal out of them at the moment – everyone just loves these bowls – they are so cheery in the morning.

Prestige Vintage - Home baking - Landscape (1)

I also love the red and blue enamel roasting tins, I went for red and will be making some Sunday roasts in these this Winter. The oven to table ware is gorgeous too, the range has lots of shapes and sizes, perfect for old fashioned winter warming pies and casseroles, and for serving sides of veg.

I’ll also be making some new favourites this Winter, I’ve chosen a red rectangular baker so I can recreate the amazing Moussaka I ate on holiday in Greece this summer. But I also have my eye on a Veggie Shepard’s Pie to cook in it – recipes coming soon! And this is the Winter where I am going to crack casseroles, in a gorgeous red casserole dish, although the stripy ones are stunning too.

Prestige Vintage - Shepherd's Pie - Landscape (1)

I love the little ramekins, and the individual casserole pots, I find they are great for enticing little people to eat up. This brings back happy memories of when mine were really small and I would stick mash on all kinds of leftover stews and casseroles in a ramekin or casserole dish, and they would tuck in. It still works now of course, never to old for tricks like that. Magic!

Prestive Vintage - Creme Brulee - Portrait

The Prestige Vintage Giveaway

I am so excited about this giveaway, it has the power to totally transform someone’s kitchen!

Prestige Vintage - Roast Dinner - Landscape (2)

This is a pretty incredible prize. In your choice of red or blue, a full set of the entire Prestige Vintage Collection. This prize includes:

  • A nine piece Prestige oven to tableware set including various sizes of casseroles, oven dish bakers, pie dishes and ramekins.
  • A full set of Prestige Enamelware including striped casseroles, saucepan, milk pan, roasting pans and mixing bowls.
  • A full set of Prestige Counter Top Ware including the large, medium and small canisters and a set of three canisters for tea, coffee and sugar.
  • A Food Preparation set –  a timer and kitchen scales.

You can see the Prestige Vintage collection in the Prestige Online Shop at Wayfair UK.

To enter

  1. just leave a comment below recounting your favourite kitchen memory, if you need inspiration, I have shared mine above.
  2. Then complete the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock more entries. a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will be sharing lots more recipes over the month as I try out my new Prestige Vintage kitchenware, so stay tuned for some winter warmers!

Winter Recipes

In the meantime, if you are looking for winter warmers, why not try:

Sausage Casserole   Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust   Stewed Apples   Baklava

 

Terms and Conditions There is one prize of a full set of Prestige Vintage Kitchenwares as outlined in the blog post. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Meyer Group, Wayfair and A Residence. Closing date for entries is 30/11/2015 One entry per person Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog. Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook 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 Meyer Group, Wayfair and A Residence. Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

Competitions at ThePrizeFinder

– See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/wooden-house-advent-calendar-0#sthash.XTtksyed.dpuf

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