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.

15 Things to Do in the Garden

15 great garden projects, make a scarecrow, make the garden bird friendly, make a miniature garden, plant a wildflower patch, plant sunflowers, make a herb garden, weed, prune, clean up garden furniture, upcycle metal chairs, pot houseplants, lots of lovely inspiration!


About this time of year I start to get itchy green fingers and long to make the garden look great. We’ve has big tidy up and the kids are really enjoying playing outside much more and the light evenings, but they are also keen to get planting. It is National Garden Week so I have teamed up with some other garden loving bloggers to share some great ideas for things to do in the garden.

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16 Feature Wallpapers That Take You Places

Feature Wallpaper that takes you places, feature wallpaper is a rising trend, the range of photo quality prints can transport you somewhere else. 

Homes are great to come home to, but why shouldn’t they be able to take us places too? Feature wallpaper seems to be a blossoming trend once more, with sales steady rising. I absolutely love the idea that wallpaper can transport us somewhere else, into a forest or a sea of flowers. I love the idea of bringing nature inside, and the photo quality prints are just amazing these days, a far cry from the spider plant conservatory mural my parent’s ripped off their bedroom wall when we moved to a new house in 1984.

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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

31 Inspiring Women You Need to Have a Cup of Tea With

Cup of tea


A cup of tea can be amazing, with the power to transform our perspective, I’ve had some amazing conversations over tea, that have certainly changed the course of my life. Now ActionAid have taken that inspirational feeling a step further and launched Tea and Inspiration, a way for everyone to combine tea, the people that inspire them, and raising money. Simply invite some friends over for tea and cake, include some women who inspire you, and collect money for ActionAid. Everyone wins.

To kick this brilliant initiative off and inspire you to host a real life tea and inspiration party, I thought I would invite some of the women who inspire me, to share who they would bring with them as a plus one to a ‘Dream Tea and Inspiration Party’.  These women all write blogs, champion great causes and share so much wisdom, I learn so much from them all, and would love to be able to have a cup of tea in real life more often. But I was also really curious to find out which women inspire them. They didn’t disappoint.

I think you would agree, this tea party, if it ever happened, would be utterly amazing. In fact, this reminds me a lot of the 1980s play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, in which an phenomenol group of women from history share a dinner party…

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An Easter Happy And Home


I hope you had a wonderful weekend? Come and share your Easter happy and home moments.

The long bank holiday is always a great time to do some baking. We found the perfect recipe for chocolate cripsy cakes via Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. We decorated eggs ready to roll with the cousins, and looked back at pictures from previous years for inspiration.

Despite feeling a bit poorly, we managed to hang up the little wooden eggs we bought last year and hide some rabbits around the house. I always loved finding little chocolate eggs when I was a child, so the arrival of the Easter Bunny is one of my favourite Spring traditions.


I had planned to do more towards my office makeover, but I just haven’t been well. Not flu, but a really draining cold and cough which has left me needing lots of naps. I did decide to spray paint the filing cabinet from red to silver while the carpet was up. I was pleased as this saved me having to empty the cabinet and lug it downstairs and outside. You can see an office update here, including an explanation of the magnetic plaster.

There will be no Happy and Home next week, enjoy the rest of the holidays.


Last week on Happy and Home…

Check out Amanda’s beautiful postcards and words about memory keeping. Helen has been on a quest for a fluffier cake and The Supply Have shared some proud family moments. Cass found the little moments that made her smile.



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

To join in, just pick a recent post that shares your love of life at home, or why not share just one picture or 3 happy and home things, click on the blue button to add your post link.

Add the badge to help spread the word. I will be reading, tweeting and sharing on whichever other social platforms best suit your post.  I will be pinning here.

Please join in by commenting and/or sharing socially too – we all want our posts to be seen and shared, so pick some posts that resonate or inspire you and share them! I’ve asked the lovely people at WayfairUK to play along with sharing too, and suggested they have a weekly browse here for new bloggers to follow and work with.

Use the hashtag #happyandhome on Instagram and Twitter and tweet me @pennyalexander_ if you spot a post you think should be featured next week.

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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There will be no Happy and Home next week, enjoy the rest of the holidays, see you in 2 weeks!

The main attraction: Magnetic office plaster wall – Part 2

magnetic office plaster wall

Watching plastering is strangely therapeutic. It was a lovely breather among the chaos of my entire office being moved to the playroom. Andy Roche is a local tradesman, found via a Nottingham magazine, who applied the Thistle Magnetic plaster for me.  He’s been prompt, tidy and utterly reliable. While I took photos he joked that he was used to people watching him at work and that people usually ask him if he can also ice cakes. He can’t, but he can make a magnetic office plaster look perfect.

Magnetic Plaster Office Wall Application

Thistle Magnetic Plaster is installed the same way as standard plaster and should take as long as the usual plaster process, there is lots of info and a video here. Andy has done a brilliant job and I am really impressed with the quality of the plaster too, a friend who had also just had some plastering done was pretty envious as we stroked the silky, glass like surface. So that’s the magnetic office plaster wall, the first hurdle of the office makeover jumped.

The plaster dries much lighter, from black to grey, so it should be really easy to paint. Andy suggested I leave it at least three days before painting and that the first coat should be 50:50 water and paint.

The second hurdle is the magnetic bit, well, some people doubted it would even work, well here’s the proof!

magnetic office plaster wall

My head is filling with ideas now for this wall now. Motivational quotes, photos and art postcards are high on the list. I’ve had a chat with Thistle Magnetic Plaster suppliers First4Magnets who suggested the best magnets for the surface and the look I want. They also suggested chalkboard paint which I absolutely loved the idea of. I also ordered some of my instagram photos, and some photo magnets from Cheerz. My magnets arrived so I am starting to play, while I procrastinate over painting!

plyaing with images for the office magnetic plaster wall

Today the Harvey Maria floor goes down. The next hurdle is to convince Max the greyhound  to part with the yucky red carpet. I was busy painting skirting with the Dulux paint leftover from the kids’ room makeovers last year, while Max clung to the half of the carpet I haven’t pulled up yet. I showed him the new floor boards from Harvey Maria, I know it is going to feel really warm underfoot and be much more stylish, it looks so much like real wood too.

Office flooring for the magnetic office plaster wall makeover

Max came to mourn as I ripped up the red carpet and inspected the decorating.

But, Max will have this lovely rug to snooze on instead. Here’s a sneak preview at some of the items I have chosen from Wayfair. I was looking at a really bright industrial feel with pops of yellow, but I decided I wanted something more me, and less Pinterest and trend led.

Wayfair Office Makeover with magnetic office plaster wall

Clearing a room out is never without an emotional moment, this room used to be my son’s room and there are doodles from his toddler years on the walls (most kids have a felt pen mishap or two at some point) and I even found some little scribbles he must have done while lying under my desk when he couldn’t sleep one night.

magnetic office plaster wall

I’m so excited about the magnetic office plaster wall , and can’t wait to bring it all together, just the painting, styling and the joiner for the desk to sort now.

A bit of late night skirting board painting, last night, with a stinking cold. I love the wall now it has dried, I am almost tempted not to paint it! Let’s see once the floor is down.

Have you got any makeovers planned this weekend?

Cranberry and Oat Energy Balls and more!

Cooking Cranberry Oat Energy balls with A Mummy Too

I had a wonderful time last week making this video with Emily from A Mummy Too. We made these Cranberry and Oat Energy Balls for Sport Relief, but they would be brilliant if you need a healthy snack for the kids over Easter. We will be off to Scotland in a motor home, doing lots of walking, so I will be making another batch just for us! Continue reading

Bunny and Duck Bread Rolls


I think if I see one more creme egg recipe I might be sick. I love creme eggs, but I also find the over indulgence over Easter a little bit too much.  We will have a chocolate egg hunt, and an egg roll (hard-boiled eggs decorated and rolled down the hill with the cousins – a very competitive sport in the A Residence), there will be easter eggs. But I like the idea of finding fun things that don’t involve chocolate too, like these bunny and duck bread rolls. They are a lovely thing to indulge in making when you have a four day weekend to play with.

We had a trial run of making these rolls, and the kids loved making them, as did I. I forget how satisfying bread making can be for kids and adults. You can make them wholemeal or white depending on what you prefer, we only had wholemeal flour in the cupboard, but they take me back to the bread rolls my Mum used to make. Continue reading

3 #HappyandHome Things

Thanks so much to all those who joined in Happy and Home last week, it was wonderful to know the idea of 3 happy things and ‘seeking the happy under our noses at home’ resonated. So today I have 3 happy and home things from the last week.

magnetic wall

One. The magnetic office wall (pictured above) is taking shape, above you can see the magnets stick to it, an exciting moment! The plaster was really dark to start with, but is drying a lighter grey now. I read an article at the weekend, about how important it is to enjoy the process as much as the end result with home projects, which I am keeping with me, as I find home projects quite stressful at times! I’m especially excited about the magnetic wall,  rather than an end result, I can see it being an ever-evolving inspirational gallery of images and photos. I will be sharing an update on the office and magnetic wall on Friday. Continue reading

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