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.

Doodle plates

Use a sharpie or porcelanin pen to make a personsalised plate

We had a lovely afternoon making these doodle plates, they are a fun way to make a Valentine’s gift personal, a great gift for Mothers’ Day or Father’s Day and would make a thrifty party or rainy day activity for kids.

The most difficult thing about this is finding inspiration and deciding what to draw, I decided to google quotes which soon gave me lots of ideas, but meaningful song lyrics would also work well.

You could also use plain cups, bowls or a larger fruit bowl or platter. This heart shaped dish would make a perfect trinket holder: Continue reading

Find of the Week – Valentine Vase, Just Needs Blooms

Valentine Vase - this painted enamel jug filled with flowers would make an amazing gift

Thinking just a teeny bit ahead, I know a lot of ladies who would fall head over heels in love with this charming Valentine Vase. A beautifully painted enamel jug, it just needs to be filled with some spring blooms.

Step out of your comfort zone, and into hers, with a gift that is sure to wow. The cup and bowl are a pretty addition too.

For extra brownie points fill your Valentine vase with flowers you have picked yourself.

All from Little Trove at Wayfair.co.uk. Lots more vases here.

Little-Trove-DNU-Valentine-12cm-Cup       Little-Trove-DNU-Valentine-Bowl-1

Celebrity Chat – Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney

 Gemma Cairney Radio 1 DJ, about the Red Nose Day Danceathon and her home style

I was able to catch up with Gemma Cairney, Radio 1 DJ in a break between testing out some dance moves, ahead of the Red Nose Day Danceathon at Wembley on March the 8th. It was an exhausting day for her, Gemma hosts Radio 1 from 4am each weekday, but Gemma was bubbly and full of wise words on dancing, costume, music and her home style..

Penny: I am really proud to be joining in the Danceathon, with Team Honk. Why did you get involved with Comic Relief?

Gemma: It is just such and incredible, collective idea, it is unprecedented astounding and everyone wants to be part of it. It is saying yes to something so positive, and so fun. It is amazing what people can achieve when they work together.

You’ve been practising some of the moves from the official danceathon today, along with some other famous faces – how did it go?

Just one of those sleep deprived hallucinations again. This one involved grooving with Coxy, Arlene & Kimberly

It was great, we’ve been doing FAME! I love all styles of dance. I’m always dancing round the house at home, but it was the weirdest thing dancing with Coxy, Arlene, Kimberly  (Sara Cox DJ, Arlene Phillips of Hot Gossip and Kimberley Wyatt of Pussycat Dolls) after all those early starts at Radio 1, it felt a lot like I was hallucinating. After one minute of wiggling I was pretty exhausted.  I need to get a few more of my Brazillian dance classes in. But the tutor said I was best in the class.

Gemma Cairney Radio 1 DJ, about the Red Nose Day Danceathon and her home style

What would you say to people who say they can’t dance for six hours, that the danceathon is too much?

I think people attach a lot of fear and vulnerability to exercise. Dance is clever. It never really wears you out. You wouldn’t worry about a night at the disco, so you don’t need to worry about the danceathon.

What tunes are guaranteed to get you on the dance floor? 

Anything from 1999, in fact, 1996-99.

What about dance wear, I read you were a stylist to Florence and the Machine, what should we be sporting on the dance floor?

Ha ha, I can’t take credit for Florence’s ‘ethereal’ style, I was very much a junior stylist on some very early shoots for them, but I would just stay my style is ‘anything goes’! Just go for it and for Comic Relief, I think ‘be funny’.

 Gemma Cairney Radio 1 DJ, about the Red Nose Day Danceathon and her home style

Wayfair is a homestore, so would you mind telling our readers a bit about your home style?

I don’t follow trends, I think they can be overbearing. There are too many shades of grey right now! Also don’t make decisions quickly, it takes time to learn what works well. Your home isn’t  like clothes, people don’t need to see it everyday, my home is just for me and the ones that I love – it’s got to be right for that, so I fill it with trinkets and things that have meaning, not trends.

Can you describe your homestyle in 3 words? 

Colourful, bold, flower power!

What is your most treasured possession in your home?

I have a glass ornament, a glass bottle shaped like BarbaPapa from the French kids’ cartoon in the kitchen. It’s a cartoon I love so that has to be the first thing that comes to mind.


Thanks to Gemma for taking ten minutes out of her exhausting day to chat! I’m even more excited about joining a host of celebrities and amazing dance teachers for the danceathon at Wembley.

JOIN Gemma and me at the Red Nose Day Danceathon, Wembley.

Sunday 8th March at The SSE Arena, Wembley, with the official dancing happening from 12-6pm.

General public sign up for the Red Nose Day Danceathon here, bloggers and friends can join Team Honk here.

 Picture credits – Radio One, Gemma Cairney, FreeFlavour drinks.

Get Organised, Get Healthy – Tips and Giveaway

get organised get healthy


‘Mummy you are drinking slime!’

Yep that’s the sound in my kitchen in the morning as I whizz up a spinach, avocado and blueberry smoothie in my new blender. Get Organised, Get Healthy! The kids think it is looks weird, but I really love it, it tastes yummy and the morning burst of vitamins is really making a difference to my mood, my energy levels and my skin.

‘It’s making me feel amazing’, I laugh. ‘Watch out!’

They can tell I have a glint in my eye. They have their own power smoothies now, my son loves banana and milk and my daughter loves frozen blueberries with yogurt and honey.


Organisation Ideas

I am realising getting healthy is all about getting organised. If you’re not careful life gets in the way and good intentions become a pile of rotting veg and browning fruit.

  • I have cleared the cupboards of temptation
  • I filled the fridge with really tasty fruit and veg we want to eat – the supermarket stuff is nowhere near as tasty as Able and Cole or the local grocer.
  • Wednesday involves a trip to the grocers with my eldest while my youngest plays Dodgeball. We’ve found some more unusual fruit and veg and not relying on an internet shop stops me buying the same things.
  • Getting the whole family on board helps – the kids learn so much about healthy eating at school too.
  • The soup maker my mother in law bought us for Christmas has come in handy.
  • We have a meal plan and I think about what we realistically have time to cook and when.
  • Wash up any gadgets as you go so they are always ready for the next day
  • Invest in storage boxes for each gadget so the whole household know where the bits go when washed  – nothing worse than not being able to get your smoothie because the blender lid has gone awol! Baskets look good on worktops.


Go go Gadget – Get Organised, Get Healthy

I’ve played round with a few kitchen gadgets over time, which can help keep you motivated and save time and I think the secret is finding the one that works for you, your lifestyle, your tastes and your workspace.



Great for using up leftovers, or for making simple soups in a hurry. Once you have chopped the ingredients all you need to do is leave the soup maker to work its magic, which is great if you want to tidy the kitchen, put your feet up or help kids with homework. 20 minutes later you have soup, smooth or chunky and ready to eat.

Less useful for more complex soups or ingredients because everything gets the same cooking time.

TIP – roast extra veg on Sunday and use them to make soup for the week. Get the kids chopping veg to go in the soup after school and ready to eat in 20 minutes.



Great for…These are a fab way to get your 5 a day. Models are getting much simpler, more powerful and therefore taking up less time and workspace. If you make in bulk for family or housemates everyone gets the benefit. Kids especially love juices and you can disguise all manner of sneaky vegetable things in them.

Less Useful for – kitchens where workspace is limited, although shop around models are getting smaller!

TIP – Fill the sink with hot soapy water before you start so you can clean up straight away.



Great for – blending homemade soups and yogurt/milk fruit smoothies. I like to blend half my soup and keep the other half chunky, so a handheld blender is the perfect tool. Kids love making quick smoothies with it too.

Less useful for… If space is limited go for a handheld blender.

TIP – chop up and freeze bananas if you have a glut, ready to add to smoothies. Keep frozen berries in the freezer too for berry smoothies.



Great for…Real bread is so much better for you, bread making fills your home with gorgeous smells and it is a perfect partner to healthy dishes like soup.

Less good for… those who find they can’t stop at one slice of homemade bread!

TIP You can also add seeds and nuts, or even dried fruit or sundried tomatoes. Make in bulk when you are at home and freeze. Or make a large loaf and freeze half.


Slow Cooker

Great for taste, and busy people who like to plan in advance. I confess, slow cookers are just too slow for me and I’ve never quite perfected the art of cooking this far ahead, but I know so many people who swear by them, and the taste. There are some amazing recipes out there, because when people get hooked, they become quite evangelical about sharing recipes!

Less useful for – spontaneous cooks

TIP – You can microwave onions before adding to a slow cooker, this brings out the flavour and is much quicker than frying them



There is a Giani Cuciana 2L Juicer up for grabs today, as pictured above and below. Just tell me which gadget helps you Get Organised, Get Healthy and please follow the rafflecopter instructions!


It’s a great and healthy option for everyone. Features a stainless steel housing, a powerful 850W motor, a micro-mesh filter made from stainless steel, a 2L pulp container, a 1 litre juicing jar and a 1.2m power cord. The juicer is capable of juicing hard and soft fruits with multiple speed settings. It’s perfect for juicing vegetables too and comes with an extra large feeding tube which is 75mm in diameter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out other competitions on the blog!

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/giani-cuciana-2l-juicer-wayfair-uk#sthash.QKbl3yq0.dpuf

The Keys to a Happy Home Office

The Key to A Happy Home Office
Various material Memo boards, Urbane Designs Boxes, Scented Candles, Purple Aiko Tub Chair, Life is Good Canvas, Life LettersiPad stand, Picture Frame, cushions

A quick tour round some fabulous home blogs today to find the keys to a happy home office. We all know a tidy desk means a tidy mind, but as January takes hold it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to let it all pile up. Piling is okay, as long as you know where you piled it, I am a piler not a filer and it can be a more economical use of your time than filing. Continue reading

How to Beat Blue Monday

Greek House with white wash and blue shutters

How are you feeling?

Today is Blue Monday, the third Monday in January when we are all supposed to start slipping in our New Year Resolutions and falling back into bad habits and despair. Well do not fear, I have some great ideas to help us beat Blue Monday. Particularly, but not only, when it comes to New Home Resolutions.

Firstly it is ok to embrace blue, this season blue is hot, not cool. Blue has very much a Mediterranean vibe, and that, like the incredible picture above, really has the power to feel warming. I’ve picked out some blue things sat WayfairUK that really embrace this trend. Teracotta, deep cobalt blue glassware and tableware. Blue looks great with yellow, won’t be long until daffodils people, remember them?

I love Blue


Secondly, blue is a very calming colour, think about watching the sea, the sky, letting the mind wander. Rugs are an inexpensive and simple way to quickly give a room a vast expanse of calming blue. I love the Think Rugs Royal Blue and White Nomadic Rug below, which embraces both the geometric and blue trend.


Thirdly free the mind. Beautiful seagrass and whitewashed baskets are a perfect contrast to Mediterranean blues, and the perfect way to clear the decks of clutter, and give your mind space to focus on new goals.

Mediterranean blue

Ian Snow Seagrass basketWicker Valley White Washed Basket Set

Fourthly, have a cup of tea and make a list. New Year’s Resolutions are not all or nothing, think about the progress you have made, think about what you need to get back on track, build in some rewards and commit it to paper! Same goes for worries, always better when you make a list or talk it over with a friend. If you are looking for a way to get on top of your home I have a printable here which may help.


Kahla Coffee Cups

How are you planning to beat Blue Monday? How are the goals, the resolutions going? My hallway, which is my January challenge is looking tidier, now it is time to commit to some changes and to really making it welcoming.

This month’s competition might cheer you up, I have £50 to win from WayfairUK.

Find of the Week – Chairs that Rock


Chairs that rock!

Just what every family home needs, a Premier Housewares Eames Rocking Chair. At £88.99 it is an achievable way to bring a design classic, fab colour and fun into your home.

No more telling the kids not to rock backwards on their chairs.  I love the idea of chairs that rock, especially as a mum to a boy who just needs to move constantly.

More of an investment, but with a look which wouldn’t be out of place in a more traditional kitchen diner, the Actulum Rocking Chair is designed to allow more natural movement. Plus there is science behind this, the idea behind Human Instrument Designs like the Actulum Rocking Chair, is that furniture that keeps us in an active state is good for us.


The unconventional design keeps the spine in its natural curvature and maintains the spinal disks dynamics; blood circulation stays active and oxygen supply is improved, leading to better concentration and overall well-being

Forward thinking companies often have balance balls instead of chairs in meeting rooms these days, the idea being keeping active keeps the imagination active. I think chairs that rock are a much better option for the workplace though!

Human designed by Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik. It was such a cool idea, it had to be Scandinavian.

What do you think about chairs that rock? Would they work in your home?

Through The Keyhole – How to Excel at an Eclectic Home


I am so excited about today’s eclectic home, it just has so many lovely treasures, and really shows that by collecting the things you love, that truly speak to you, and by arranging them with care, you can make your home truly come alive.

I love the way colour is used, the eclectic mix of objects and the playful sense of humour in this home. White walls makes the objects truly come alive and pop, like exhibits in an art gallery.


An Emotional Magpie…

It’d be fair to say my taste is a bit eclectic and wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking. I get that, I like to collect things that make me smile or inspire me, I’m an emotional magpie picking up mostly weird and some wonderful trinkets and bits and bobs. I don’t like things to match, so I just cross my fingers really hard and hope that it all works together. Somehow. Maybe. Continue reading

Miso Noodle Soup

Miso Noodle Soup

Miso Noodle Soup is the perfect impressive 15 minute dish to wow dinner guests or for a date night. It’s also a quick and easy dish for families, who want a healthy meal that can easily be adapted, so it is spicy for grown ups, but not for the kids. It’s also a nurturing dish for one and great if you are on a health kick. When I am being ‘good’, I really need something that makes my taste buds zing and fills my stomach.

You can vary the ingredients too, to suit what you have and what you like. You can have it with or without noodles, and add meat, quorn or tofu for variety.

Once you’ve mastered the basic idea, there are endless possibilities.

Miso comes fresh in jars to keep in the fridge but also in soup sachets, perfect for meals for one, or for keeping in the store cupboard. It is extremely high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a great source of Vitamin K and protein. 

Miso Noodle Soup


Noodles, 2 tbsp Miso, I litre vegetable stock, 1 chopped red chilli, 1 cm of fresh ginger grated, 2 cloves garlic crushed, 1 carrot cut into circles (I also used a lemon zester to make lines down the side for the flower effect), turnip (sliced and quartered), broccoli (small florets), red or yellow pepper (sliced), mushroom (sliced) or whatever you fancy.

Optional – chicken/quorn/tofu pieces


1. It’s worth getting everything chopped and organised at the start with this recipe, you will prepare all the veg and noodles in one pan, you then drain them. You add in the Miso Broth and chilli mix at the table. So chop all the ingredients, bring a pan of water to the boil to cook the veg and noodles, boil the kettle ready for the stock, have a jug ready with the stock powder or cube and miso, gather a frying pan.

2. Fry the chopped chilli, the grated ginger and the crushed garlic gently in some oil, I used rapeseed oil, but sunflower or sesame would work well too.

Optional extra – You could fry some tofu or quorn pieces, or chicken. Or if cooking for adults marinade them in the mix and then fry it all together.

Set aside

3. Add the vegetables in the order they need to be cooked to the boiling pan of water, so start with turnip for 5 mins, then carrot for 5, then noodles (although follow whatever timings the packet suggests) and broccoli for 3, then pepper and mushroom for 2.

4. Drain the veg and noodles divide between large bowls. Add some of the chilli mix for those that want a spicy kick! I would say the amount of chilli you see below made for a very spicy dish – perfect for someone who likes it hot.

Miso Noodle Soup

5. Add boiling water to the miso and stock powder or cube and mix thoroughly to make a lovely Miso broth.

6. Pour over the Miso broth. One of my kids loves Miso, the other prefers a simple dash of soy sauce with his veg and noodles. It’s such a versatile recipe!

Miso Noodle Soup-2

Miso Noodle Soup-3

How to Use Red in Your Home

How to use red in your home

Red is the first color of spring. It’s the real color of rebirth. Of beginning.” Ally Condie

I was startled that this quote was the first I found about the colour red as I took this photo only yesterday of spring buds. It suddenly made complete sense to start my journey through colours by exploring how to use red in your home – not only is red the first in the rainbow, but as Condie rightly acknowledges it is the first colour of spring. It is life. I love that Condie feels it is beginning too. Here’s why. Continue reading

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