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.

Don’t be afraid of colours – carnival inspired interiors

notting hill carnival


With Notting Hill Carnival on the horizon, it’s time to think about how to hang on to the last colourful blasts of summer. When I lived in London it always signalled the end of the school summer holidays, a last long weekend before returning to teaching in September.

Apart from looking at carnival inspired interiors today, I’ve also got an amazing item to give away, so one lucky winner can create their own home carnival corner.


Tips for using bright colours at home


Inspired by Notting Hill Carnival I’ve been on the hunt for more zesty, bright and oh-so-full-of-the-joys blasts of colour for the home.  I’ve also taken inspiration from the colourful streets of Notting Hill.


Notting Hill Portabello Road


What’s your favourite colourful item at home? I love our red chairs which I shared last month, they’ve definitely encouraged us to add more colour to our home. Our Moroccan theme, in what was the playroom and is now a family den, also brings some great colour.

My favourite find has to be this Hammock Heaven hanging seat which comes in a great range of colours and can be hung inside or out. It’s the perfect way to hang on the carefree days of summer. And yes, this is what I have to give away today. Long live summer!


Hammock for indoors or out



Tips for using bright colours at home


Bring some colour into your home with interiors inspired by the colours of Notting Hill Carnival


If you are nervous about colour start small or with one piece and build up over time. Just like with clothes, as you gradually introduce more and more colour you will become more comfortable and confident.

Rugs are a fun way to introduce carnival inspired interiors and quickly update a room.

New cushions are a fun and cheap way to introduce a blast of colour into a space.

Coffee tables are a way to sneak in some colour, this vibrant purple side table can be toned up or down with coordinating or clashing mats, coasters or ornaments. Go for creams to calm, blacks to create a more sophisticated look or clashing colours for fun.

Occasional chairs are a fun way to create a colourful corner or summery retreat, without taking over a whole room. Create a home office you want to work in with a lime swivel desk chair, this blue rattan chair would look fab in a conservatory with floral cushions, and the Purple chair could smoulder in a corner of the living room, all three are available in different colour ways.

Dining chairs are another great way to introduce colour, go for a chair with different colour way options to brighten a kitchen, like the yellow Angel L dining chair below. The kitchen is another area where it’s really easy to experiment with colour, I love this purple kettle.

Light fittings can also be a fun place to play, this yellow pendant light would bring a blast of sunshine into a kitchen.


Notting Hill is also known for its feathers, so apart from carnival inspired interiors, check out my feathery finds too!

What’s the most colourful thing in your home?


The Giveaway

To win a hammock swing seat, just tell me what your favourite colourful item at home is and complete the rafflecopter. Check out the desk give-away too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Hammock Heaven Hanging Chair. 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 and Brabantia.
Closing date for entries is 31/8/2015
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.

Image Credits  – Shutterstock Notting Hill housesEvocation Images / Shutterstock.com Evocation Images / Shutterstock.com

ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/hammock-heaven-swing-seat#sthash.I03iindQ.dpuf

Creating a homework space they’ll want to work in


When I was a teenager I still had balloon wallpaper from when I was 7, so my friends and I gradually turned the balloons into faces, and everyone who visited wrote me messages and life advice on the wall. Eventually I stripped the wallpaper and painted the walls white, but how I missed the messages.

Something about this desk wallpaper took me back there. I spotted it on Pinterest and tracked it back to My Attic, do go and read about the story behind it. Maarj is a fellow nominee in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. Have you voted for A Residence, or My Attic yet? Please do, it only takes a second.

I love the ‘Get off the Internet’ especially,  I need that one most of all. But all of the quotes are really inspiring and empowering.

With my ex teacher hat on today, I thought I would share my top tips for creating a homework space today, I also have a fab desk to giveaway from Wayfair.


pallet desk


I love this crate desk, loads of room to spread out, store stuff and pretty achievable on a budget. My grocer said he could get me these style crates for £30 each, they aren’t as cheap as you think, but they are well made. Wayfair also have these great crates, I am using the large rustic ones in open shelving in the kitchen to house kitchen items that don’t fit well in cupboards. Love the map too, perfect for inspiring a geographer.




Pegboard is a really versatile way of organising things, if you have a young person who is great at keeping things neat and tidy, and someone handy enough to help them put it together.  Perfect for an upcoming artist or designer maybe? This is the gorgeous desk of Mandy at Fabric Paper Glue. It makes me want to sit down and start something!




I love this industrial look at The Inspired Room, do check out the whole room tour for more great ideas. I think the shelving on a desk is a great idea for keeping a desk clutter free.




When there isn’t room for a desk a wall mounted hideaway desk could be a great solution.

If you have a large table kids can use that is also used for other things, or you want younger kids to work at the kitchen table so you can support them, why not have a ‘homework station’ a tray with all the things they need to hand that can easily be moved on and off the table to a shelf when not in use? I love this mini homework station from The House of Smiths. we have a similar one with jam jars full of pencils in the kitchen.


Back to School Homework Station - Krylon Mystery Box Challenge - thehouseofsmiths-1.com


Creating a homework space they will want to work in

Designing kids’ homework spaces can be lots of fun, but it really doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either – young people are often naturally expressive and creative and find ways to make their mark. The main thing is to have a quiet, comfortable, well lit and tidy space and a place for them to keep things safe, especially if they share the area with other family members, or the space is used for other things.

Make it somewhere that’s stamped with their identity, somewhere they have ownership of and feel proud of.  Mostly, somewhere they want to be.

Spend some time together planning it, get them to sketch their ideas, make a Pinterest board or  find pictures from magazines or google.

One of the biggest things parents can help with is learning how to organise, helping young people to create a system that works by questioning what they need to store, remember and find easily. Skills we take for granted as adults, but massively important studying success skills.

Create room to keep things organised. Look at what they have to juggle then decide together what would be useful. If they don’t have desk drawers, shelves with cheap storage boxes or shoe boxes they have covered in wrapping paper can make a big difference.

A pinboard, magnetic whiteboard or even a string with pegs on can be a great way to keep important papers and timetables in their eye line.

Make sure stationary items are stocked up and they have somewhere to keep these things together, away from siblings who might borrow them. There’s nothing worse than wasting time trying to find glue, scissors, pencil sharpener or highlighters.

A clock is a great idea, so that time doesn’t run away with them. I love this one for its clear design, but also the date display.

Invest in a good desk lampFairy lights or table lamps can add extra warmth.

Desk chairs are the one thing it is worth spending money on, you want them to be able to sit really comfortably!

Remind them it is important to take breaks away from their desk, a chill out area can be a great thing, or a walk to the kitchen for a snack break.

An egg timer can be a really useful way to train the brain to work in short spurts, after 30 mins we start to loose interest, but we work more effectively under a little pressure, so a timer can help to maximise each section of time.


Need more desk inspiration?

Lots more ideas on my Pinterest board, are you following me over there?

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Homework Desk on Pinterest.


The giveaway

Desk and Lamp giveaway


I have one Marconie writing desk and a Leitmotiv desk lamp from WayfairUK to giveaway. They mix and match in loads of great colour combinations and would make a great start to a homework area. Why not check out the Hammock Heaven Swing Seat give away too, its all about injecting some carnival colour into a room and would be perfect for a chill out zone.

Just leave a comment telling me your top desk organisation tip, and follow the rafflecopter to register you entry and take advantage of more entry options.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



There is one prize of a Desk and Desk lamp as described 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 31/8/2015
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/desk-and-dek-lamo#sthash.WVADvEp1.dpuf

Super healthy easy summer meals



Sometimes in Summer I need a reminder of how to eat well at home. Running round after kids and juggling work and fitting in holidays, lots of picnics, take aways, eating out and holiday treats can take their toll.

These are some of my favourite healthy easy summer meals, some of them adapt well for kids like mine, who don’t eat everything grown ups do, where they don’t I’ve suggested some simple alternatives.


Healthy easy summer meals

Summer means meal times often go to pot so Egg and banana pancakes with soya yogurt and defrosted frozen berries is a great brunch. Yes this is really healthy, as the pancakes are just egg and banana (get the recipe) and the best bit is the kids love them too!


egg and banana pancakes


Omelette with onions, peppers, spinach feta cheese. I even keep chopped onions and spinach in the freezer for especially quick emergency omelettes. Sauteing left over extra jacket potato or sweet potato pieces works really well too and the kids love a potato omelette.




Bits and Bobs.  For me that is leftovers on salad – asparagus, sauted courgette and onion, roasted veggies, ratauoullie and a dollop of hummus. The kids aren’t as keen, but with a bits and bobs meal we just pull it all out the fridge and let them create something they enjoy.




Roasted veggies with or without halloumi is another of my favourite meals that needs little input and is great for leftovers.  Great to whack in if you have the oven on anyway – for kids’ fish fingers, a roast or jackets.

Aubergine slices grilled or a sweet potato roasted and mashed, with Kale baked for 10 mins til crisp. Super virtuous and unlikely to be eaten by kids, but they will eat a brown rice salad with some drained sweetcorn and quickly cooked frozen peas.

kale and aubergine

Spiralised courgette with tomato sauce, so quick. Kids have  spaghetti, so an easy meal to split.


Do check out my spicy sweet potato hash with avocado side too!

spicy sweet potato hash with baked egg

Or super fast veggie burgers, which are good fun to make with kids who like squishing the burgers

homemade veggie burger


Others I have yet to photograph

Crudites, pitta and hummus

Stir Fry – all the family choose some of their favourite veggies, store fry in coconut oil for flavour and serve with brown rice. Simple but oh so tasty. Sometimes I add garlic, chilli and ginger and soya sauce, sometimes the veggies speak for themselves!

Avocado and cottage cheese with salad.

Feta, butternut squash salad –  Cubes of butternut squash or sweet potato steamed or if you have time roasted and served with feta and salad. I love this!

Grilled halloumi salad. Mmmmm.

Boiled egg and soliders


Those are my favourite quick and healthy summer meals. What do you love to eat in the summer?

Feather Your Nest – Find of the Week

Feather Photo Wallpaper by Federkern at WayfairUK

As I type this the dawn chorus is in full flight, with my kids on school holidays I am up with the lark to write, although here in suburban Nottingham it is more often the relentless chattering of a tiding of magpies. If you can’t beat them join them, so inspired by the dawn chorus,  I’ve picked out some stylish feather interiors.

Let your interiors fly with these feathery friends. Pictured above is Federkern Photo Wallpaper an imaginative way to create a feathery feature wall in your home.

Below lots more feather interiors pictures, wall art, cushions, mugs and rugs guaranteed to help your home take flight. I have my beady eye on the peacock feather rug. You?

What birds do you have in your garden?

Feathered Home Accessories

1. Graham and Brown Feathered Friends Photo Frame  2. Artist Lane Feather Shield by Ayarti Wall Art

3. Feathers Cushion Cover  4. Birds of a Feather Bird Stickers by The Binary

5. Buttercup of London Scandi 10cm Fine Bone China Feathers Mug  6. Safavieh Gregory Peacock Feather Hand Tufted Rug  7. Esprit Home Feather Beige Green Novelty Rug (also available in rich red and silver).

Making my own bottle of gin at 45 Gin School

45 gin school - 6


We arrive in a deserted farm yard in woody, rural Leicestershire, we stand at the door slightly nervously as it opens from within and we are ushered inside. The smell of gin hits us as soon as we step inside, herbal, floral and fruity, my mind whirs trying to name the scents. Across the room copper pot stills glint enticingly, the room is set out like an old fashioned science lab, each station neatly lined up with pyrex jugs, notepads and scales. The neatness and shininess of it all captures me instantly, it promises a night of alchemy and old school fun.


45 gin school - 3


A gin cocktail is placed in my hand and there’s a warm welcome from all the team. As I sip a perfectly chilled Tom Collins, Master Distiller Jamie Baxter introduces me to Bessy. I am stunned by her beauty, gorgeous copper tones, she radiates sparkle. There’s something deliciously vintage and exotic about her, like something out of a Sci Fi film.

‘She’s like something out of a Jules Verne novel isn’t she?’, volunteers Jamie.


I had the ultimate experience for a gin lover on Tuesday night. I spent the evening with Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary and several other lovely local, but new to me, bloggers, distilling my own bottle of gin at 45 Gin School, also the home of the distillery of Burleigh’s gin.


45 gin school - 2


Resident Master Distiller Jamie Baxter gave us a grand tour, introduced us to Messy Bessy, she’s the incredibly beautiful 450 litre copper pot still Burleigh’s use to distill their gin.


45 gin school - 1


Jamie then talked us through the process of distilling gin. He even let us fully explore the unique botanical ingredients that make up Burleigh’s Gin, before letting us loose to make our own, with as much or as little guidance as we wanted. While our gin distilled, he gave us a fascinating history of gin.

I had so much fun making this video, and that’s not just the gin talking! Although the one bit where I do talk is proof that I had enjoyed a couple of cocktails already…



I knew I loved gin, but I had no idea how much fun could be had blending my own choice of the botanicals to make it unique. Gins can be spicy floral, herbal, and i was soon in heaven sniffing different herb and spice extracts.  It was like wine tasting, I now know why I prefer one gin over another.  Or perfume creating, I made a bottle of gin that absolutely tells a story of my loves. I have to leave it to settle for a couple of weeks, but I can’t wait to taste it!


45 gin school - 7

Fancy Gin School?

You can book your gin experience here, I highly recommend it, few gin schools allow you to make your own bottle of gin from scratch, the team are so friendly, the cocktails top notch and Jamie is full of fascinating information about gin, whether it is the production, the history, the taste, or the culture of gin production that fascinates you most.

As we left Jamie was telling us about a bar he would visit in London the next day, who stock Burleighs –  the name escapes me, but you have to pretend to need a detective to get in. Just one of many anecdotes that had my brain buzzing over the evening.

Gin school is open to individuals, groups, hen dos and corporate groups, and is suitable for all abilities, from novices to those who want to set up a distillery. It was great to have a lab partner in crime! To book in for Gin School or find out more, go here.


45 gin school - 4

Music Credit – Messy Bessy

6 creative playhouse ideas



I was a child of the 80s, I have such vivid memories of marching up the cul-de-sac I grew up on, to my friend Laura’s house, my little wendy house tucked under my arm, all set for another long summer day of setting up camp.

This week 6yo Mr G was gutted to discover I had given our wendy house away. I’m first to admit my attempts to clear the clutter of long forgotten toys are occasionally premature, and result in pangs of guilt and replacement purchases. As I type this, my Dad and son are camped out in the garden in the pop up tent we found to replace it. You really can’t beat a tent, a den or a hideout to prolong kid’s outdoor play, but you can think outside the toy box a little….


A long term investment


i remember reading once that rather than buying a playhouse, you should buy a shed, kids quickly outgrow playhouses, but they don’t outgrow wanting a den, a space to chill, or craving privacy from the rest of the family. A summer house is a multi functional space that many members of the family can use over time. A wise investment. Wayfair have a fab range of styles of shed. I love this one.


The real deal

4 Person Rapid Tent


For slightly older kids a real tent is the perfect solution. It is something to grow up with, giving them a more independent experience when you camp as a family and a tent to use when they are old enough to camp alone, meanwhile they also get to play out the authentic camping experience at home. You can get a 2 man pop up tent for only £23 currently, easy enough for a 6 year old to put up alone, or pictured above is a slightly larger 4 man tent.


For the playhouse purist


I love this little wigwam, it is just one of many I have eyed up at Wayfair. It makes me terribly nostalgic for my childhood, I think it reminds me of an old duvet or pyjamas, I think many a happy childhood memory could be made here.



For the Modernist

At £692 the Hobikken playhouse is an investment, but if you want to retain a stylish modern home, whilst gaining the largest floorspace on the indoor playhouse market, this could be your ideal play home.




For those with a wild imagination

I love this play garage playhouse, the attention to detail and fabric make it so pleasing to the eye, unlike the polyester one I had as a kid. There are all sorts of lovely themes, I picked out garage, but what about pirates, fairy princesses, a barn or a beach shack?


Play Garage Playhouse

Trampoline Tent

Another way to incorporate a den into the garden is to buy a trampoline tent, they make less of an eye sore of trampolines, provide shade and double up as a den. Drag some cushions and sleeping bags out and camp out on your very own bouncy bed!




And of course, you can’t beat a blanket over the washing airer, washing line, picnic table, or whatever you have to hand.

When did you last play in a den? I should go and see how Dad and Mr G are getting on…

The busy person’s guide to keeping friendships alive

The busy person's guide to keeping friendships alive


‘It’s been years!’ she says, and there is a beat, a moment where conversation could go either way. But I start to fire questions, work, kids, other halves and we are soon sprinting across the years, covering ground like shirpas, effortlessly navigating the ravines and carrying the baggage of 20 years of friendship like pros. Before long we have found common ground…we’ve both been dreaming of moving by the sea.


Seeing friends makes you more productive

Last week I met my university friends for a couple of hours while I was in London, visiting the Wayfair UK Offices. I love the peace of working from home, but I find I need to make the extra effort to see people to balance out that time alone. I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship, and how a sudden flurry of catch ups seems to have taken me outside my own head and given me a real burst of contentment and happiness, and how simple it is to organise, no matter how busy I feel. Rather than stopping me from working, seeing friends gave me energy and balance. Rather than taking time out of my ‘busy schedule’, it has given me the energy to get more done.


Could do Better?

I’m not brilliant at keeping in touch these days, I’m slightly worried how any friends reading this might perceive this. Life always seems to have other plans for me and I am always juggling too much. My best friend of nearly 30 years and I can go months and not speak, conversing by brief texts, but see each other and it’s like nothing happened…
Hello Stranger
We need to catch up
Come and See Me?
Around last week in August?
That would be brill.


Making new friends

New friendships have blossomed this year at my running group, conversation quickly shifted from where your kids go to school, to deeper concerns, hopes and fears, as we fill the longer and longer runs as we train together for a half marathon.

Other friendships have been cemented over coffees and cocktails, as ‘work from homer’ you need a local network of likeminded people.

Running and coffee or lunch dates punctuate my work from home week, and always give me new ideas to feed into my work.


Get out, get inspired

Yesterday I put the world to rights in the hot tub, and the conservatory of Eden Hall Spa, with Amanda from the Ana Mum Diary and Becky from A Beautiful Space, we made blogging plans, swapped tips, if only every meeting could take place in a spa, it really was the best place to reflect and I left full of ideas. Being afraid to take time away as a freelancer can be detrimental, I am always reminding myself that some of my best ideas come when dog walking, or when away from my desk, in this case, sitting in a hot tub.


It snowballs

It started with a quick whatsapp message to see who was around the night I was in London. Suddenly my phone seems to be beeping, whatsapp chats are filing moments when I would have aimlessly flicked through facebook. At the same time I text another friend. A message from an old friend I’ve missed pops up on facebook messenger, it’s like the universe has answered. Just a little bit of reaching out goes a long way, and before you know it, it snowballs.

Juggling homes, lives, kids, work can be exhausting, I’m not alone in worrying about friendships, here are some great reflections and tips gathered from other bloggers.


The busy person’s guide to keeping friendships alive

Don’t take it personally when friends aren’t in touch for a long time – life gets busy, but as long as everything is still the same when you get together, then all is well.

Andrea, All you need is love and cake


Show an interest in your friend’s life, even if you are at different points in your life. Don’t ditch them because they’ve had a child and are married, while you’re still partying the night away as a single.

Carolin, Mummy Alarm


Make time for your friends – I’m lucky as my best friend moved in next door to me but before then we used to do tea one night a week without fail.

Cass Frugal Family

I’ve known my BFF since I was 10, I only see her once maybe twice a year. We’re facebook friends but she’s rarely online as she looks after foster kids from broken homes. Her mum lives down the road and her sister I see quite regularly too. But when we get together, it’s like we saw each other last week. We don’t know the ins and outs of each others lives, which is probably why we’ve stayed friends for over 30 years.

Aly Bug, Bird And Bee

My only tip would be that if you’ve not seen a friend for a long time or been in contact and you think it’s been too long, just go ahead and get in touch, chances are they’ve been thinking the same and just let time pass.

Clare, Seasider in the city

I have a friend who I have known since we were teenagers and have been pen pals ever since. The volume of letters has diminished but it’s lovely to write down everything that we have been up to etc like we used to do and received some snail mail

Sarah, Boo Roo and Tigger Too

Accept that your lives will go in opposite directions and you may have differences – especially if one of you is a mum and the other one isn’t. Find your common ground and try to talk mostly about things you’re both interested in.

Donna, Mummy Central

Acknowledge what is happening. State clearly your time is limited now but you still love them to pieces and cherish the time you DO have. That way others won’t think you just don’t care.

Becky, A Beautiful Space

I make a point of sending texts or emails out every 2/3 months and trying to get dates in the diary for a catch up. I suggest morning, lunch or evening choices and follow it through until something is firm. It might sound pushy but I find if I don’t continue everyone forgets as we’re all so busy. It works for me most of the time.

Mari, Mari’s World 

I make my friends a priority. We all have long to do lists and they can get dropped further and further down them as days and weeks and months go by as not as important as other stuff, but, now I make them top priority, make that call, drop that message, meet them for coffee and am always glad to have done so. Life feels more balanced and in control as a result.

Anya, Older Single Mum


Love the Coast? Bring the Seaside Home.

Great British Seaside

I would love to live by the sea, but I am not ready for the upheaval of moving. Recently we visited Brighton, it started a whole discussion about whether to move. I’ve been looking at how to being the seaside home, to land locked Nottingham. I don’t want nautical, I want things that really bring seaside places home.

I studied English Literature along the coast in Hull, not far from Scarborough, the inspiration for Dracula, so reading this makes me want to go back and find out what inspired Stoker. This book art by Bookishly is a quote from Dracula by Bram Stoker,

I remember candy floss the size of my head at Whitby Bay, I was 7 or 8 with no front teeth. Love this retro style Candy Floss maker, to bring the seaside home, just for special occasions mind you! This is guaranteed to make a birthday party, summer garden party an unforgettable experience.

Hours spent at Harlech, in the shadow of real castles,  building sand castles, moats and long drive ways which stretched to the sea.  I love the idea of this collapsable bucket from Wacky Practicals, we are forever buying a new bucket because buckets are a pain to transport. It means more boot space, or more space in your case!

Scarborough again provides the inspiration for this cushion, this time it is the pier.

Do you have a memory of chips on the beach? On our last trip to inland Kent we made a break for the sea, we found the chippy that everyone talks about in Hythe and tucked in, before playing on the groynes. In Blackpool we ate pie and chips in front of the tower after a busy morning in Madame Tussards. The perfect reminder of seaside chips on the beach, this cheeky retro style mug will bring a smile to your lips.

I am forever trying to capture the sea in photos, in brighton recently I captured the kids discovering our old haunts. Throughout his career LS Lowry was overwhelmed by the immensity of the sea and he saw painting it as the major artistic challenge of his life. This limited edition Cushion Cover shows shows sailing boats off the Lancashire coast, where Lowry often spent family holidays.

Do you have a favourite seaside place? I love Dungeness in Kent for its wildness, but I’ve lived in Brighton twice, and visited many times, each time it captures my heart again. Wall art is a lovely way to bring your favourite coastal places home.

You can’t beat a cheeky sailor in stripes, love a good sea pun too!

There’s just one thing left to say, via Leah Flores Photographic Print….

Leah Flores Photographic Print Lets Run Away available at Wayfair UK


The National Trust are asking the public to share why they #lovethecoast, celebrated poet Dr. John Cooper Clarke, has penned the start of a new poem reflecting the nation’s love affair with the coast. The public contributions will complete it, just share your favourite memories using the hashtag #lovethecoast

Breastfeeding Tips by Mums, for Mums

Breastfeeding tips, by mum to mums

In support of World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) we’ve gathered together some down to earth and reassuring breastfeeding tips by Mums, for new Mums. Some of the UK’s best parenting bloggers offered to share their breastfeeding tips for home, out and about, and for work; supporting women to combine breastfeeding and work is the focus of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.

I’ve also designed a little breastfeeding sanctuary, with things to make a corner or two of your home a place to relax and enjoy time with your baby.


Breastfeeding tips by Mums

Always keep a sports bottle of water in places where you sit to feed, I have one in the nursery for middle of the night feeds

A ‘breast vest’ was my best investment, keeps your tummy covered and makes any top into a nursing top.

Polly This Enchanted Pixie

Always check you’ve put your boob away before answering the door to the postman!

Fiona Watch You Grow

Don’t sit down without having your laptop/phone/TV remote to hand! Try to ignore the ‘well meaning advice’ of everyone else, including health professionals, unless there is very clearly a problem. The whole idea of breastfeeding is that your baby and your body will naturally know what to do, so feed when your baby wants feeding and let the rhythm settle naturally. I once heard a health visitor tell the mother of a six week old baby to ‘try to distract her if you’ve fed her within the last three hours or so – you wouldn’t eat a cheese sandwich that often would you?’ It made me scream inside!

Jo Slummy Single Mummy

Find your local breastfeeding support group. Even if no problems crop up, it can be so helpful to connect with other breastfeeding mums. Groups offer an accepting place to get comfortable with breastfeeding in public if you’re not sure about it yet, a place to find evidence-based information or somewhere where you can share stories with other breastfeeding mums and break isolation.

Don’t watch the clock, watch the baby.

Also, keeping a stash of healthy snacks that you can eat one-handed in easy reach can be really useful. I used to get really hungry breastfeeding newborns.

Adele Jarrett-Kerr Circus Queen

Buy a load of cheap Primark/Asda vests, cutting them across the boob area and then wear under your normal clothes. Then you can feed without your tummy on show/getting cold.

Alison Not Another Mummy Blog

Don’t be surprised if your boobs perform differently. You may have one that produces lots of milk and one that just produces. Every woman who breastfeeds is physically different, so remember that a position that works for your tall, slim friend may not work for you if you are small and curvy. Get into audiobooks and/or Desert Island Discs back catalogue for night feeds. I build a nest in the nursery for night feeds with a great chair, low lighting and water/snack supplies, and got out of bed each time. Worked for me. Oh, and breastfeeding makes you smell of a different sweaty scent at first. Don’t be alarmed!

Eleanor The Bristol Parent

Find an appealing breastfeeding bra. I got some rather pretty sheer ones from Top Shop which made the whole thing nicer. Also Lansinoh breast pads, as ones with only one sticky line fall out!

Rachel The Little Pip

Groups are great for support and besides dresses you really don’t need specific breasted feeding tops, any loose top will do. Also in the beginning always have some spare breastpads packed in your bag in case you spring a leak

Don’t listen to what everyone says and don’t stress about any kind of routine, the more relaxed you and your baby are the better.

Laura Side Street Style

Twitter is great on nightfeeds for chatting to other mums and feeling less alone.

Gillian  Baby On Board

Have a bracelet  you can easily swap between wrists to help you remember which side to feed from next time.

Penny, A Residence

Try out the various breastfeeding positions to work out what feels most comfortable for you and your baby. I struggled terribly with cracked nipples initially as the only position I knew of was the cradle hold. I then discovered the rugby ball hold which was a god send! It helped my baby latch on perfectly which finally ended my cracked nipple issue.

Breast milk helps to soothe cracked nipples. Spread a small amount of milk around the affected area and aerate.

A boned breastfeeding cover is a must have for when you’re out and about. It covers you completely and the boning allows you to see your baby feeding which in turns gives your baby comfort. So much better than just a scarf or a muslin.

Karen, Wayfair UK PR Manager

Create A Breastfeeding Sanctuary

Something to keep magazines, books and the remote handy, somewhere to store muslins and breast pads and water on tap.

Create a Breastfeeding Sanctuary Remote Control Organiser, Wicker Storage, Armchair,  PItchersWillow Tree FigurineWater DispenserSide table, Nursing Pillow


Breastfeeding when you have other children

Have a box of toys that are easy for your older child to access, and if necessary play with alone without problems, rotate the toys in the box so it is always a surprise.  I bought a nursing chair second time round and immediately regretted it, you never get to breastfeed in the same place with a toddler running around, and it alienated my oldest. instead, we moved the chair upstairs for night feeds and most the time we made a nest for the three of us on the sofa and had lots of books to read together to hand. It was important to get into a routine that my toddler understood, so I could include and supervise her too.

Penny, A Residence

Sit on the floor to feed (propped up with cushions) so you can play with the first child at the same time.

Gillian Crawshaw  Baby On Board

Breastfeeding  Twins

I found breastfeeding the twins at the same time to be a great time saver, tandem breastfeeding. The trick is to get cushions to help prop the babies up and everything you need to hand for half an hour. Don’t forget to go to the loo before you start!

Mari, Mari’s World


Breastfeeding and returning to work

Remember your rights as a nursing Mum. Your workplace has to accommodate you and many are happy to do so. They often haven’t thought about how to accommodate you so try to think of solutions in advance.

When expressing, tell people what you are doing and why. Don’t be embarrassed. Others are often very understanding of your reasons. I had to continue due to my son’s allergies, so for us it was the right choice.

If you plan to express at work, try to have an extra set of all the necessary equipment already there. If you are lugging it back and forth from home you will inevitably forget some key elements. I forgot the bags once and suffered all day.

Don’t forget to try to maintain the routine of expressing. If you keep missing sessions, it will affect your milk production. Blocking time out in your daily diary may help.

Breastfeed your baby at the start and at the end of the day to enjoy precious time with your baby. Going back to work can feel hard after maternity leave so having that time together will allow for that closeness to continue for you both.

Ushma, Reseach Manager at Brunel University London

Make sure you have a supply of expressed milk in the freezer before going back for your first day (frozen milk last for 3 months) so on your first days you don’t feel under stress that baby hasn’t got your milk. 

baby feeding

Invest in a decent expressing machine – I have the Medela swing which is very good – it can be battery operated too which is handy if you haven’t got a plug near by where you need to express.

Make sure you take a decent supply of bottles with you as your milk will be in more supply without baby there to take feeds! 

Make sure you wear lose clothing, if it’s a hot day a breastfeeding mama will sweat in a whole different way – especially if your boobs are full of milk. 

Louise, Team Lloyd

If you have to go back to work but still keen to breastfeed your baby – electric pumps are the way forward. So much easier, electric pumps allow you to express a good amount of milk for your baby in half the time. I regretted not getting a double pump because when you feed from one breast, the other starts lactating. And as a working Mum, every drop counts!

If you are producing excess milk, express your milk and either freeze it for when you’re out and about or use it in food such as porridge, fruit smoothies etc for your 6 month + baby.

If your baby won’t take a bottle, don’t worry. It’s actually a good thing! After I went back to work my expressed milk was used in meals and given to my baby in a free flowing beaker.

Karen, Wayfair UK PR Manager


Do you have any tips to add?


Picture Credits – Shutterstock – Mother Breastfeeding her little baby girl, Mother feeding baby in nursery, Baby drinking milk.

My Home Rocks: Renovation Bay Bee!

yellow dome lampshade


It really struck me when I put together the products inspired by today’s My Home Rocks, how crisp and zesty the colour scheme is – it really suits a 1960s home, while seeming modern too, but enough from me, meet this month’s guest home!


My Home Rocks because it is full of love and happiness, but also I think My Home Rocks because we have been able to make it into a home that we love.

We moved here about 2.5 years ago and it was like stepping into a 1960’s timewarp, the kitchen was original and the bathroom was completely turquoise and brown, but it was all ours to turn into what we wanted. We have loved being able to transform each room into just what we want.

My favourite room in the house is my bedroom, every house we have lived in we always left our bedroom until last, but it never has been that special. This one I was going to make sure it was special and a room that we could escape to and is just ours.


Main bedroom


Then my next favourite place is my lounge, we had a large stone fireplace with a old gas fire but we transformed it with a solid oak beam and a electric heater which looks like a real log burner. So many people think it is real!


wood burning stove and mirror


Pictures are a very important thing in my home, I love capturing our family and have created a photo wall in the hallway. My visitors also love seeing pictures of us all and when the children were young. The dogs are even featuring in it too!


Simple but Striking Family feature wall-3


Running a house of 5 needs a little bit of organisation, which is why I love my meal planner in the kitchen.


reusable meal planner


Recently we renovated our son’s bedroom, I wanted to push my colour boundaries a bit in his room. So we went for blue, grey and yellow. I could have easily gone for the grey pendant but went for this bright yellow pendant and I so glad I did. He loves his new room and for a pre teen it is a well needed get away space for him.


yellow dome lampshade


Who is behind today’s My Home Rocks?

Stephanie, is a Southampton based wife and Mum of 3 with a love for home interiors and family life.

Renovation Bay-Bee is all about the renovation of Stephanie’s 1960s family home, and lots more.

For more great home inspirations, check out Renovation Bay Bee, follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Get the Renovation Bay-Bee Look at WayfairUK

My Home Rocks  - Renovation Bay Bee shares her home over on A Residence blog

Valbonne Duvet, Photo FrameEnamel lamp shade, Willow Tree FigurinesChalk Board

To feature your home contact Penny: alexanderresidence@gmail.com

My Home Rocks at A Residence
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