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.

Through The Keyhole: Talking of Sparkle!

Today’s Through the Keyhole promised me some Christmas sparkle, turns out she is in fact the year round, Queen of Sparkle. I should have known, her wit and way with words sparkles on her blog too, I do hope you will click the keyhole icon when you have read the post, and drop by!

Talking of Sparkle


Warm and twinkly living room

This room kind of sums me up. It is definitely my room. I chose the colours, the twinklyness of the lights (and yes, it still is twinkly even once the Christmas tree comes down) and the statement wallpaper. My husband came home and stared. It is pink. But it’s pink in a really good way. Continue reading

Bake Escape, the ideal holiday #guiltypleasure and iPad Mini Giveaway


If you are looking for a way to really wind down over the holidays, or a way to escape the pre Christmas chaos, may I recommend Bake Escape? This post contains an iPad giveaway too, but first things first…

It was a real pleasure to be asked to be play and write about Bake Escape, the new match three game everyone is talking about. I also got a sneaky look around Exient’s Studio, to meet the team following up their successful global launch of Angry Birds: Transformerswith their first self-published title, Bake Escape.


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A Guide to Christmas Cracker Etiquette and Cracking Conversation Starters.

What’s it like when you get together for Christmas Dinner? When do you pull the crackers and does everyone have to wear a hat? Today I’ve found some crackers which I think you will love, but first, some Christmas cracker etiquette…

Crackers were invented by Tom Smith in 1840, as a new promotional tool for his bon-bon sweets. He first came up with the wrapping and then a fortune and the snap and over time the sweets became trinkets and mottos. The hats though, go back as far as Roman times, when the Romans wore hats for Saturnalia celebrations.

When do you pull them?

In our house they were never opened until we had eaten our main course, I think because Mum like to create a sense of anticipation, and because certain male members of the family couldn’t bear to watch their food going cold and uneaten while cracker jokes were read far too slowly by younger members of the family, (and the resulting explanation when the joke went over their heads).

How do you pull them?

With a firm grip on the creased area, but without venturing your thumb beyond, as this could be seen as being greedy/cheating.

Auld Lang Syne style is fun, depending on how many sherries have been consumed prior to pulling them, and the size of the group.

Once pulled the delight of working out whose cracker is whose begins.

The hat

Must be worn at all costs.

The jokes

Punchline must be explained at great length to small children, the hard of hearing and anyone who has had too many sherries, so most the table.

The puns

Must be repeated. You’ve pulled! I’ve pulled a cracker! Never ceases to amuse. Honest.

The conversation starters

A good cracker should take you out of the food coma, into Christmas pud and a bit of post dinner conversation. I’ve chosen these ones for their style and ability to bring the generations together. From Vintage to Puppet theatre to Musical, there is something for every style of gathering.

Unusual Christmas Crackers

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Finds of the Week: Unique Gardening Gifts

Gifts for Gardeners


Whenever I go hunting for cool stuff at Wayfair.co.uk I often find myself checking out the Daily Sales, and apart from getting a bargain, the talented people who put the collections together have a real eye for great stuff. Today I spotted their gardening gifts.

Most of us have a gardener or gardening wannabe in our lives, these gardening gifts struck me as being either particularly classy examples of tried and tested gardening essentials, or something really unusual. Continue reading

Lily Vanilli’s Mini Plum Cakes for ActionAid #bakeadifference

Lili Vanilli (headshot)

‘One of the most sought-after artisan bakers of her generation’ Stylist

I am really excited to have a genuine Lily Vanilli recipe on the blog today, albeit for a really good cause. Celebrity chefs like Lily have donated their favourite Christmas recipes to draw attention to the need for child sponsors via ActionAidUK.  2,700 children around the world urgently need sponsors this Christmas. ActionAidUK are asking people to spread the word about giving children a future. The recipes are also perfect for a bake sale, why not #bakeadifference? Continue reading

Find of the Week: Giant Star Lanterns #Win

Christmas Star Decorations, Paper Lanterns

I stumbled up on these giant star lanterns last week and had to share them. I love decorating the house for Christmas, but I hate taking decorations down again, so anything impactful, statement and able to fill a room this simply, is a massive winner for me. We also have big ceilings and as we went for a bigger tree this year, we’ve used up all our decorations on that. They are also stunningly beautiful don’t you think?

I have one of the giant star lanterns, a Siri Paperstar, that’s number six, to giveaway. Continue reading

Through the Keyhole – Building Our Forever Home

Through the Keyhole Building Our Forever Home

I’ve been following today’s Through the Keyhole on Instagram, she has a timeline that immediately draws you into her little world. I have to admit, and who wouldn’t be, I was teeny bit envious at first, what a beautiful home. However, nothing is ever that simple is it, and there is a really emotional story behind bringing this forever home together, which I encourage you to read.

Building Our Forever Home

We sourced these radiators from a local reclamation yard. I adore the old, schoolhouse look of them and the way they fit perfectly under our kitchen windows. They also make a really cosy seat on a cold day!

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How to Make Snowglobe Soaps, and lots more.

Easy to Make Penguin Soap Snow GlobesAfter making some simple soaps and fabulous bath bombs (which you should check out – they were so easy to make and looked fab), we decided to order some clear soap and attempt snow globe soaps. Bath bombs and soaps make fun Christmas presents. I had the idea of a robin in my head, but penguins also seemed like a natural fit too.

Trapping toys in soap also doubles up as a brilliant way to encourage kids to wash their hands.

You simply need melt and pour soap, which you melt in a jug in the microwave. We added some glitter and a drop of fragrance. Most places that sell Melt and Pour Soap (we bought ours online) will sell the fragrance and colour too.

We had some bits of opaque soap hanging round, which we used as the bases for these robin snow globes (more on these later), we then chipped at the opaque squares to make them look more like snow, so with the leftover bits we decided to try and make snow bases for the penguins too.


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Christmas Decorations for Children, and the child at heart



We seem to have amassed quite a few decorations in the eight Christmasses in which we have have had kids. Each year we might invest in a couple of extra things for the tree, one chosen by each child, and maybe something decorative that catches our eye. Lots of things get made too. Our tree usually looks something like the picture above, that year we had sticks, last year we had a real tree. But the decorations are always the same.

I like them to tell me a bit of a story, and my tastes are probably quite childlike, because who doesn’t like to be a big kid at Christmas?

I’ve picked out some of my favourite Christmas decorations for children, for actual children and grown ups inner children too!

Decorations for children at Wayfair.co.uk

Wayfair has something for every budget, so let’s start with a splurge, and work down to some thrifty bargains!

I love the Alessi baubles, they are so much fun and with the simple and colourful designs I think the peekaboo pair at the bottom would make a lovely gift for anyone with a new baby in the family. You can build up the collection over time, top right you can see the whole nativity set of baubles. Or the golden nativity itself, middle left.

I think the simplicity and character of the Archipelago Christmas range is great, I love the Father Christmas and Angels figures.

I have had my eye on the Ian Snow globe baubles for months now and would probably find a place for them all year round to be honest, loving travel as I do. Anything to encourage family wanderlust! The sweet felt gingerbread house is Ian Snow too, and only £2.80.

Did you see my find of the week last week by the way, gorgeous house shaped fairy lights.

Simply click on these images to find out more.

Travel: A Romantic and Dog Friendly Hotel – Ox Pasture Hall


Last weekend we travelled to Ox Pasture Hall Boutique Hotel in Yorkshire for a night away. Mr A was 40 this month and it seemed like a great excuse to getaway. Apart from being wonderfully romantic, Ox Pasture Hall is also a dog friendly hotel, which meant my Mother in Law only had two kids for the night, as Max our greyhound could join us. Max has now been with us a year, since we adopted him from Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust, so it was a celebration of his ‘gotcha day’ too!

Max stars in his own video, because, as always, he steals the show. Continue reading

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