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.

Girl Get Your Records On: A Happy Songs Playlist


Music has been my biggest happiness game changer recently. I can’t wait to share today’s spotify happy songs playlist because I think it could make a lot of people very happy too.

As I type this I have Beyonce’s Crazy In Love on and it’s making me type a lot faster and get to the end of the post. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, but I am very easily distracted. I started the morning dancing round my office to House of Pain’s Jump Around.

So many happiness gurus – from my husband (who should definitely write a motivational coaching type book one day), to Paul Dolan author of Happiness by Design, to Andrew Weil, author of Spontaneous Happiness  – have directed me to carefully curating music to boost my mood.

I find I am always turning other people’s music and noise down in the house, Weil suggests we need to find the music that works for us, and in the daytime I can do exactly that to my heart’s content. I finally seem to have cracked Spotify and built some cracking playlists to up my mood and my motivation and most of all, to play when the rest of the world is ‘mildly irking’ me. I’ve even created a Friday afternoon invoicing playlist!

Did you know that as we listen, music gets to work on our nervous system, which is responsible for controlling our blood pressure and heart beat, as well as the limbic system, which is responsible for our feelings and emotions. Research with 1,000 pupils who took singing classes found they were happier at school too.  Music really does change our bodies and minds. Amazing!

Every morning in our house my husband blasts out music to make us want to get out and get going – Happy, Billionaire and Get Lucky are on our breakfast playlist. Some of these made my happy playlist (I couldn’t find a no swear version of Billionaire and much as I love it I am not sure money always brings happiness)

Sometimes the lyrics don’t make a difference of course, there is something about the music that just makes you leap up and dance. Sometimes I am finding too that the songs I think make me happy, actually don’t. So I said goodbye to a few.

Sometimes you just need to get your toes tapping (Happy) be reminded how to get up and dance (Hey Ya!), or that all is okay with the world (Lovely Day), or that we all have bad days and you have friends who will pull you out of your bad mood (I’ll be There for You). Sometimes you need to see your place in the universe (Beautiful Day) or to be persuaded to play some music in the first place (Put Your Records On) and then you get it (Suddenly I See) you’re ready to crack on again (I Can See Clearly Now).


Let me know in the comments what you would add to the happy playlist, if you think it will make others happy too I would love to hear it and I will add it on!

Image credit – Shutterstock, girl in red dress.

Happy and Home: Learning to appreciate home again

flower bucket

My quest to uncover what makes us happy and home takes the form of a really splendid guest post this week. After finding herself out of touch with her home, Becky from Colour Lovers shares how she took the time to appreciate home again.

The other day my partner asserted that I had become a human doing rather than a human being, rushing here and there scheduling endless outings and activities for the kids. He suggested we stop for a while and just be. After huffing about this I did actually sit for a moment and reflect and to be fair he was absolutely right. It had been a while since we had just had some time to just be at home and appreciate, enjoy and explore what we had there.

It had become in my mind, a place to eat, dress, do homework and work. It had become a functional practical place rather than a place to enjoy. I had stopped coming home with a smile. Continue reading

Happy and Home: My magnet collection

Intriguing Magnets

Do you have magnets in your house? A magnet collection full of reminders of holidays, people and words of wisdom adorning the fridge? We had managed to contain our fridge magnets a little, but now my magnetic wall in my office is attracting new treasures, I was lucky enough to receive some rather fabulous magnetic gifts for my birthday back in May, and I have also added a few cheeky magnets from my travels.

Above are magnetic crystals, which also happen to look like a face, I need to look up the healing powers of these particular stones, but I reckon they are bound to make me more productive, successful and happy at work right? Do let me know if you are a crystal expert? Continue reading

Happy and Home: A peek in my Garden

A little garden tour, peony in bloom

Our garden will never be perfect, we are too busy having adventures to dedicate enough time to it, but I love the little surprises that it keeps throwing out. When I wish I had more time to be a better gardener I remind myself to be grateful for the plants that always return and the new things I discover in it each year.

I thought I would share a little update, I actually meant to post this two week’s ago, so the peonies and poppies are no more, but it’s lovely to celebrate their short little lives. Up the road, in my favourite wood, the fields around are full of poppies, it is an absolutely breathtaking sight.

Continue reading

Happy and Home: The Miniature Garden

Making a miniature garden using succulents and an old flower pot

Mr A and I took a day off to clear out the house last week, it was brilliantly cathartic. In an antique washstand in our bedroom, I found an untouched box we had put away when we nearly moved house 4 years ago. I was all set to follow the decluttering rules, to not open it and donate it all to charity. But I decided it was worth a peek inside. I found a small and tarnished silver cup and it brought back so many memories.

When my grandparents were still alive, we spent many a happy weekend helping in their garden, last week I saw a clump of London’s Pride flowers and it took me right back. If I smell a really good tomato, I am instantly transported to my Grandad’s greenhouse. The silver cup takes me back to the garden shows that were held at their village club house, proudly displayed giant onions and leeks, Grandma’s courgettes and cucumbers and my Grandad’s prize Dahlias. Every year my brother and I would enter a miniature garden.

My brother and I took it really seriously, I remember he built a shed for his out of lego and I sculpted ornaments out of clay. Over the years we won quite a few prizes. His down to earth vegetable patches and busy lego gardeners tended to appeal to the judges more than my  attempts at a Chelsea Flower Show, but the little cup was from the year I won first prize.

While tidying the garden a little I made another discovery. Miss L made this miniature garden a few months ago, it made my heart sing to see her do it, because it took me right back to the joy it brought me. Over the last few months the succulent cut offs I gave her have taken root and kept growing. It’s weathered the storms, and the washing line is still intact.

Making a miniature garden using succulents and an old flower pot

I love the way an old plastic plant pot became a castle shaped house, she simply cut open the door and drew on windows with a silver marker. The house also features a shell pond and shell rockery.


Last week on Happy and Home

I was blown away by the riot of lovely colour and love in all the posts linked up last week. I loved the home from home Helen from Actually Mummy found in a field, you know how much I love travel, so why shouldn’t a happy and home be a second home too? Also, it was lovely to welcome Jaime from Not that Jaime Oliver who brought along a great curry recipe. Living Hygge was my favourite new blog discovery, what a gorgeous post full of hygge happy and home ideas.

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

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 or mention this post 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

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Happy and Home at A Residence blog


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Happy and Home: The Joy of Little Love Notes


When I was little my Mum always left me little love notes, in my lunch box, little letters when she went away, and when I was a grumpy teenager and she wanted me to hang the washing out, she would draw me cartoons of washing dancing on the line too. It is something I try to do for my kids too, it brings a little joy to life and makes a happy home.

My kids leave me little notes now and so I was blown away with Mr G’s love and kisses post it note installation which covered my computer last week. Continue reading

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. 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.

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

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