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 S’mores, on the fire pit

how to make s'mores

British sustainable fire wood supplier Certainly Wood sent me a fire starter kit and challenged me to learn how to make S’mores. I have to admit, I am a bit rubbish and always let Mr A build fires, but I love campfire treats, so I figured it was about time I became the fire starter in the family.

I also had had my eye on this Harlin fire pit from Wayfair, I like the idea we could both cook and keep warm with it. I delegated the building though, I can totally do flatpack, but Miss L wanted to bake marble chocolate and lemon cakes and that was more appealing. So the boys put it together, it was an easy job.


Certainly Wood sent me a special kit, with logs and kindling which are dried in a solar powered kiln, and natural firelighters, plus the ingredients for S’mores. It couldn’t be easier to do. Flamers natural firelighters are untreated, wax dipped fine wood shavings. I loved them because they are natural, odourless, easy to light and burn for a longer time.

fire starter kit

I followed the instructions, but I am not sure this is quite what was meant. Mr A promised to remain tight lipped on his fire building secrets as I wanted to do this myself. I should have watched Certainly Wood’s how to light a fire video.

how to make a fire

In the end, with some twiddling I got there, a raging fire. I had some real campfire cooking successes, so I will do another post on what is in the tinfoil and just say that the corn on the cob should have been too – I will know next time!

firepit from wayfair

While the fire pit cooked our main course they played in the garden and I drank cocktails I watched over it. Although, actually, the beauty of fire pit cooking is you can just leave it to get on with it, rather than all the hassle of a BBQ. More on that next post, pudding first!

I love this fire pit, the lid makes it a stylish and safer than an open fire. The removable grill means it is essentially just an outdoor cooker. Its going to be a wonderful way to live outdoors and to elongate the summer!



Rumour has it these were invented by Girl Guides and s’mores is an abbreviation of ‘some more’, because they are so moreish! S’mores are a US/Canadian tradition and August 10th is National S’mores Day in the US!

Ingredients – Biscuits, chocolate, (or chocolate biscuits are a great shortcut) marshmallows (You can get veggie marshmallows these days too).

S’mores are best made when the fire has died back and the embers are still hot. Its so easy, just toast a marshmallow ’til its really gooey, which is why you want the fire to have died back.

Then sandwich the marshmallow between two choccie biccies or between two biscuits and some squares of chocolate, like a big sandwich.


Enjoy! We certainly did.


You can add fruit, like banana, raspberry or strawberry or peanut butter or cinnamon, the s’more is your oyster!

Why not build a S’mores station, with a pot of marshmallows on sticks, a tray of biscuits and fruit?

So there you have it, how to make s’mores! Savoury recipes to follow. What do you like to cook on a campfire?

More info

Certainly Wood makes sure the firewood they source is sustainable, British wood. They fell only the weakest trees in their forests, meaning the other trees can grow stronger and they are constantly replanting trees that then absorb carbon dioxide. All of their electricity is produced using solar panels and biomass, so all of their processing equipment is powered using renewable energy and they burn all their wood waste to create heat to dry the logs. Burning firewood is one way of ensuring we look after the environment. Not only is it carbon-neutral, but all the wood they produce comes from forests within a 100 mile radius.

Firepits come in all shapes and sizes and even include gel fire pits. Wayfair have dining, cocktail and coffee sized tables with fire pits as well as a simple free standing fire bowl.

The one above is the Wayfair Harlin Small Firepit £149.99. See the full range of fire pits here.

Disclosure – This blog is part of Wayfair, the fire pit and fire kit were supplied for review, all opinions my own.

Great Family Garden Ideas

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.30.30

I’ve been making some films for Netmums, for the #MumsTalk series, in this one three mums, Becky from A Beautiful Space Jen from Love Chic Living and I talk about how our gardens grow. There are some great family garden ideas, from gardening with kids, decorating your garden, to creating a grown up sanctuary and kids play area to welcoming wildlife.

It was really lovely to be able to spend some time in other people’s gardens and I came away with lots of simple and actionable ideas. I love Becky’s sanctuary and Jen’s veg garden painted tiles are gorgeous.

What are your favourite family garden ideas? What makes your garden a great space for grown ups and for children?

Linking up with…


iCandy – Pushchairs for the Cool Kids

icandy puchchair design

Chances are if you and your home are stylish, then style is going to factor in your choice of pushchair too. iCandy is the make favoured by new parents looking to drive their own sense of style into the mode of transport they will spend the next few years pushing. iCandy understand style, it’s in their blood, brothers Bradley and Warren Appel absorbed their manufacturing knowledge from their grandfather Charles who founded a fashion company in 1933.

It’s a strange feeling when you finally say goodbye to the pushchair, it becomes such a part of your daily routine, it’s with you nearly every time you leave the house, it’s how you move, it’s where you store things, it’s how you organise life. And most importantly it’s where your baby sleeps, eats, plays and watches the world go by on the move. iCandy uses aeronautical engineering, its designs are streamlined to make its performance effortless.

icandy baby

iCandy is favoured by some of the coolest kids, everyone from Giovanna and Tom Fletcher of McFly, to my good friend J, an old University friend who I met up with recently in Clumber Park.

I asked J for her honest feelings about her iCandy pushchair:

‘It’s lovely looking and very comfy for baby and you feel that yummy mummy pride that you’ve got the ‘it’ pushchair everyone wanted’.

Looking back I remember those days well, why shouldn’t you feel stylish still? I was immediately impressed with J’s red ICandy.  I wished pushchairs had been so cool when It was my turn. It elevates little ones up high, switches round to let them see you or the road and the huge amount of easily accessible storage space in a pushchair that doesn’t take up much pavement space is impressive.

i candy red pushchair

Out and about in parks and on pavements the iCandy seemed to work brilliantly. J’s downside will be familiar to pushchair users: ‘It can be a bit wide for shopping, the back wheels can get stuck in cafes and shops.’ 

However given this is a birth to toddler pushchair, that’s to be expected. You can add a carrycot to this, but when you take it away at 6 months, it is still a lightweight pushchair. Only 8kgs and foldable with one hand.  The price is reasonable too, £110 for a piece of style and functionality.

On another note, while researching this I really enjoyed stumbling on some fascinating stats about Prince George whose birthday was yesterday, and rediscovered the Fletcher’s Buzz to Bump video, so just in case you haven’t seen it, do, it’s lovely!

Have you tried iCandy?

Picture credits: iCandy. Collaborative post.

Through The Keyhole – Stylish with a GSOH


I don’t know about you but I love to look around people’s homes. This is the inspiration behind a new feature on A Residence, Through the Keyhole. The lovely thing about being a blogger is making new friends online, but you don’t always get to meet or do the simple things like pop over for coffee.
Through the Keyhole gives you a chance to do just that, have a sneaky peak inside someone else’s home. Last time we snooped around Dorky Mum‘s art collection.
I’m not going to tell you who’s home we have this week, except to say she is a great writer, she is stylish and has a great sense of humour. I will take you though the keyhole to her blog later if you can’t guess, or if you’re curious, which I am sure after reading this you will be.


I moved into my new house a few months ago and because it’s rented, albeit part furnished, I’ve had to buy a few new key pieces of furniture for the house.  I say ‘had to’ … I ‘wanted to!’  This pale blue chest of drawers was from eBay and as beautiful as it is, the drawers are annoyingly clunky so they’re hard to pull out and push in.  There’s definitely a knack to it!  But it’s SO pretty I can’t bear to part with it.



I’ve finally got a place where I can display just a small amount of my jewellery and you might notice the leopard print make-up bag in the background … I do have a penchant for animal prints, although I’m trying to wean myself off.  There’s also a new bottle of Prada perfume at the front – bought on a recent trip to France!


These ceramic birds are on the wall in my lounge and sit (fly?) above my SMEG fire.  They’re awesome.  They’re so Hilda Ogden (Google it if you’re not old enough to remember her) but a little bit more upmarket (I hope!)  I’d say 90% of the walls in my house are white and these birds add a lovely pop of colour, although unfortunately, the photo doesn’t really do them justice – like all birds, they’re much more beautiful in real life!

old school radiator

I love this old school radiator that’s in the lounge – not only does it get incredibly hot, incredibly quick, but it’s a real statement piece because it’s the first thing you notice when you walk in.  The grey goes with the theme of the room but I’ve tried to add some colour by using pieces like this burgundy footstool.  And if anyone can recognise me by my feet, you definitely win a bonus prize!


Recently, the calm of my serene lounge has been mightily disrupted by the return of a certain family member, as you’ll see by the decks that have suddenly appeared.  He’s a massive fan of music and has DJ’ed whilst he’s been away at Uni but for the love of God I wish he’d keep his stuff in his room.  (In his defence, he’s been relegated to the box room so there’s not a great deal of space!)


I’m a big fan of quirky lampshades and this house has plenty, with this particular one being in the kitchen.  And no, that’s not a dungeon behind you, just some very very unusual wallpaper.


I love that today’s Through the Keyhole oozes home style and a great sense of humour. Have you guessed whose house this is yet? Are you ready to go through the keyhole and find out more?

Okay, time to put you out of your misery, *puts on best Loyd Grossman voice* Who would live in a house like this? Let’s go through the keyhole …just click it.


To take part in Through the Keyhole, please contact me using the links in the sidebar or in my About Me page.

As regular readers will know A Residence is now part of Wayfair, the homes and interiors online store, for more home inspiration, check them out.

Keyhole picture credit

Marbled Chocolate and Lemon Cakes

Marbled chocolate and lemon cakes

My 7yo picked these chocolate and lemon cakes out to make from her set of Usborne recipe cards – they were a really amazing choice. A very grown up cake, but also great fun for kids to make. The beauty is in a cake that you have to ‘ice’ the minute it comes out of the oven. The marbled effect is basically just different melted chocolate buttons swirled together, so very satisfying. We messed up a bit here but I will make sure you don’t.

Lemon and Chocolate cake

The boys were assembling a new fire pit from Wayfair and picnic table - I know, real gender stereotyping, but flat packs drive me crazy – so me and L took some time to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon bake instead.


At 7 she is old enough to take the lead, leaving me time to take photos. She loves seeing her creations on the blog and we all loved eating the results.

Marbled Chocolate and Lemon Cakes

Ingredients: 2 lemons, 3 eggs, 50g butter softened, 250g ricotta cheese (we substituted Greek Yogurt as the 24hr Co-op doesn’t have much call for Ricotta), 175g SR flour, 50g white chocolate buttons/drops and 25g of plain chocolate buttons/drops.

Equipment: Food mixer, metal spoon, greased and parchment lined 20cm/8 inch cake tin, lemon zester or grater, big bowl and small bowl. (The lemon juicer is a red herring)


She grated the two lemons and half her finger, so I took over.


And she whisked three egg whites


Checked the eggs were stiff enough


Next we put the three egg yolks, butter and lemon rind in a big bowl. And the SUGAR, I nearly forgot this, as you can see by the photo!

lemon cakes

More whisking, slowly adding the creme fraiche, or in our case Greek yogurt, as the Coop doesn’t sell ricotta…it worked fine I thought.


Next add the flour, this is where the mixer is replaced by folding with a metal spoon. The wise words of Mrs Burnette my Home Ec teacher flooded my mind and were imparted to my eldest. I spent three happy years baking cakey things in Home Ec at school; bar the odd quiche it was a very sweet affair!


She then added the whisked whites to the batter


And carefully folded them with a metal spoon.


We didn’t have the right size tray, but a spatula helped to keep the mixture to one end of a big tray.


After baking, you need to work fast, first add the white chocolate buttons.


Then the dark. We decided to bake late on a Sunday so the corner shop wasn’t forthcoming with ingredients, so we had milk chocolate lumps. And my family put the whole 100g packet on (give or take the ones they ate),  which meant the marble effect wasn’t as good as it could have been.


I had to almost wrench the spoon off L to stop her completely losing the marble effect, so transfixed was she in making swirls with the back of her spoon.


The finished result was served in the sunshine at the newly erected picnic bench, with raspberries.


From 30 Yummy thing to Bake, a lovely visual collection of recipe cards for kids, by Usbourne. I love the fact the cards make it child friendly and that kids can just take a card to the shops with you when ingredient shopping.

Next time I am hoping we will have some fire pit recipes to share, watch this space!

If you give these chocolate and lemon cakes a whirl let me know how you get on. What have you been baking?

Link up your recipe of the week
Older Posts     |     Newer Posts