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.

#MyHomeRocks Warmth Play Love

THR secret garden

Through The Keyhole was a real hit, I think we all love looking though a real home for inspiration, and sometimes reassurance. I wanted to give it a twist this year. Although the anonymous element was fun, it was also frustrating for the homeowners who all wanted to join in the conversations about their home on social media. So #MyHomeRocks is a now the place to celebrate and be inspired by real homes, lots of snooping guaranteed.

So I’m really excited to introduce the first #myhomerocks, enjoy having a look round this home, it’s full of warmth and love, and a few secrets, let me hand you over…

Warmth Play Love

My home is full of warmth, and play, and love, and creativity. I have a secret longing for stylish minimalism but ’tis not to be…. as life just seems to burst out and make a riot of colour and piles of stuff in our home!

My lounge is colourful and cosy, full of our beloved books, and a place to have fun play and hang out together. I sometimes think I long for taupe and serenity but red sofas always sneak back in. Have had many over the years, I like a splash of colour!

cosy red lounge

The kids’ playroom is stuffed with games and crafty bits and bobs and is a room full of fun just waiting to be had, it rarely stays tidy for more than 30 seconds, but that’s okay, I like my kids to play! I fight a constant battle with storage and I never win!

TRH playroom

I love my bedroom it is cool, calm and restful which is exactly what I need it to be. I have two colourful lively kids and a rather chaotic creative life and I need utter peace to sleep and rest my mind.

THR bed

My favourite part of house is this tiny secret garden that cannot be seen until you make your way to the end of the garden and peek round a little corner. My husband made it last summer as little oasis amidst the chaos. A perfect place to write and to relax away from everyone.

THR secret garden

Think I live a nice ordered life? Not at all, check out my desk!! It’s a wonder I get to the computer to do any blogging at all and I have a lot to do (6 blogs at the last count!)

Messy desk

Picked up any clues as to this blogger’s identity? She left a little clue in that last photograph! Do go follow her on Instagram!

Becky Goddard-Hill is an expert on all things thrifty and home. She runs four very successful blogs including Thrifty Home and A Beautiful Space.  She is the author of How to Afford Time Off with Your Baby and lives in Nottingham with her husband and two children. You can also see her desk when she’s tidied it, in my real home office inspiration post.

I have been lucky enough to visit this home and it truly is a place of warmth, love and creativity, the first thing I noticed was the big red sofa and the beautiful notebooks scattered around. The secret garden is as magical as it looks.

Here are a few items inspired by Becky’s home over at WayfairUK:

Warmth Play Love #MyHomeRocks

Eames Rocking ChairBistro Dining SetBird CushionRed SofaRed Storage CubeCowboy Print Storage cube. Objects not shown to scale, please check measurements if ordering.

What inspired YOU about today’s home? Please share in the comments or join the conversations #myhomerocks @pennyalexander_ @babybudgeting

To be featured on #myhomerocks, please contact me using the email/social icons at the top of the left sidebar.

My Home Rocks at A Residence

How to choose a perfect site for your nest box #NationalNestBoxWeek

Making a nest box and finding the perfect spot in the garden

Traditionally, nest boxes for small birds are put up in the spring – although a box put up at the end of the winter stands a good chance of attracting nesting birds. However, it is never too early or late to put up a nest box and half term break is the perfect time to do this with children. 

Last summer we made bird boxes at an RSPB event and have been meaning to put them up ready for the birds. Currently my son’s is full of Lego, which he loves, but I have convinced him birds need habitats more than Lego figures.

Making a nest box and finding the perfect spot in the garden

I popped over to the BTO British Trust for Ornithology who run National Nest Box Week every February, with help from bird food and nest box experts Jacobi Jayne, to pick up these tips on finding the perfect site for your next box. Do check out the site for more tips and hints. Valentine’s Day is when it all kicks off for birds too, so that’s the day National Nest Box Week starts.

Choosing the perfect nest box

To attract nesting birds, your box should be wooden, not ceramic or combined with a feeder, with walls at least 19mm thick and at least 130cm squared floorspace. A 32mm entrance hole is perfect for all small nesting birds, to attract blue tits only, go for 25mm.

Not all bird boxes are suitable for birds and not all ornamental nest boxes are purely for decoration! The specification of this beach hut nest box makes clear it can be easily cleaned out and that the holes are 32mm and the floorspace of each section is well above the minimum birds need at roughly 207cm per section.


Choosing the perfect site for your nest box

  • Not too close to another nest box – nest boxes of the same type should not be sited too close together as this may promote aggressive behaviour between neighbours.
  • Sheltered – the front of the nest box should be angled vertically or slightly downwards to prevent rain from entering the nest box. Make sure it is sheltered from prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight.
  • Height from the ground should be 3 metres – small-hole boxes are best placed 1-3m above ground on tree trunks, but avoid sites where foliage obscures the entrance hole. If there are no trees in your garden, the next best option is to place your box on the side of a shed or wall.
  • Open-fronted nest boxes should be hidden from view – attach your box to a wall or fence that has shrubs and creepers growing against it.
  • Make sure cats cannot get into the box – ensure that it is not easily accessible to predators such as cats and squirrels.
  • Consider a metal plate around hole to deter squirrels – this preventive measure that can be used to deter squirrels from gaining access. These can be purchased cheaply from any good garden centre very little cost.
  • Keep nest box away from bird feeders – as high levels of activity of visiting birds could disturb nesting pairs.
  • Use galvanized or stainless steel screws or nails that will not rust. If fixing boxes to trees, galvanised wire can be used to tie the box to the trunk or hang it from a branch. Make sure to regularly inspect these fittings to ensure the box remains securely attached.



Garden Bazaar Post Box Peanut Bird Feeder

I have one post box bird feeder to give away.  Just follow the rafflecopter instructions below, tell me what you are doing to welcome birds into your garden.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More nest box ideas over at WayfairUK. Now, get me away from that chicken coup I just saw – one day I WILL have chickens in my garden! Check out the other competition to win a Pancake kit!

Thanks to BTO for the tips.

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/red-post-box-bird-feeder-wayfairuk#sthash.7qtYO0pd.dpuf

Pancakes make people happy!

Pancakes make people happy


Oh yes, the world is about to go mad for pancakes…but we think they are awesome any day, especially now that WayfairUK found us the best pancake pan ever to review – it really does make you go WOW! We have a little prize too, to celebrate our new discovery.  Saturday in our house was wonderful, take a look.

The Stonewell double hinged pancake pan is brilliant. We were all really enthused by how easily and neatly it makes pancakes. You don’t need fat, as it has a lovely non stick coating. Flipping them is so easy. Continue reading

Finds of the Week – Nautical and Nice: Recycled Homewares

Recycled Homewares from WayfairUK

My finds of the week have three things in common, they are all recycled. They nearly all have a sea theme. They all come from suppliers with an ethical and green outlook.

Just because you want to be green doesn’t mean you have to compromise on design, or resort only to upcycling or second hand shops when it comes to furniture. There are some great suppliers out there who have done the hard work for you.

Oceans Apart recycle metal drums and old boats into seriously cool furniture with an industrial look. My favourite has to be this chest made out of old boats, I know a 6 year old who could spin some stories about it’s history. The writing desk is a real taking point too, and I love the idea of writing on a surface that already has stories.

Oceans Apart are committed to promoting and improving good working conditions and wages for craftsman involved in making their products.

Ian Snow trades in a way that is consistent with fair trade principles and many of the products are recycled. Ian started his business in 1978 selling from a trestle table on Machynlleth market. The business is based on a love of India, but trade has spread further afield to Afghanistan and Ghana.

I’ve seen first hand on trips to Africa with Comic Relief, how constraint leads to creativity with resources. Every last scrap is turned into something.  Old tyres become flip flops, bottle tops become ornaments, scrap becomes treasure. I love this blanket footstool, it is so comforting. I have a patchwork one made with bright Indian fabrics and it really makes this room come alive.

This unusual Pacific Lifestyle glass vase is also recycled. Worn down glass has to be my favourite thing to collect on the beach. These recycled Oceans Apart beach letters are calling to me for my travel themed hallway. Spotted too late in the day to make my collage, but there are also lots of recycled homewares made with driftwood, from mirrors to bedsteads, to stag heads.

Do you have furniture that tells a story?

A Travel Themed Hallway – Reveal


Back at the end of 2014 I set myself a monthly challenge to revamp one area of my home. If you want to join in with this challenge it is never too late, you can pick up the monthly planner here. Travel is the theme I went for in our hallway, I travelled to Kenya and Cardiff last month, but I found time for some creativity and some decluttering.

This approach is changing our family life. Our home is slowly transforming under our noses. Experts advise you to start from the hall, as it gives the right impression when you walk in and motivates you to keep going with home improvements. Our hallway was messy and made me feel stressed. One thing I did love was the map wallpaper, which you can see reflected in the mirror below, and in more detail here. Continue reading

Hurrah for doodling on duvets, tablecloths and much more!


Where do you doodle? My son had a phase of doodling on the walls when he outgrew the transport wall stickers we gave him as a toddler, as a teen I rebelled by doodling on the ballon wallpaper I had outgrown. Doodling  is usually trying to tell the world something.

What do you doodle? I doodle a lot of houses. Houses apparently show that I am down-to-earth, practical , but need security and control. I often think it is because I learnt to draw them at an early age and my drawing didn’t advance much over the years, as I was forced to do languages instead of art at school.


When I am on the phone on a work call I draw lines and triangles, these lines are a sign of being determined and needing an outlet for mental and physical energy.

When I am procrastinating I draw flowers, a sign of being flexible and creative but also an indicator of emotion.

Even where you draw on the page can be revealing…


You can read lots more about what your doodles mean in this article by handwriting expert Ruth Ronstron, on the National Doodle Day site, which I used to analyse my doodles.

National Doodle Day is Friday 6th Feb 2015. By donating a pound to do a doodle, you will be raising money to help improve the lives of everyone affected by epilepsy – what can be better than that?! Why not have a doodle this weekend and pay your money in here?


The products featured are from a collection by Eat Sleep Doodle at WayfairUK. Perfect for the crayon wielding toddler, the teen in need of an artistic outlet, or the grown up dinner party guests in your life. I love the idea of doodling on duvets, little messages for when I am away from them, or doodling on table cloths as a way to bring the family together for some after Sunday Lunch doodling.  Which reminds me, I blogged Sunday Lunch entirely from the freezer – leaving even more time to doodle this weekend.


And the best bit is they wash clean, so you can start all over again! I love the bunting too -perfect to recycle for different celebratory events!

Sunday Best – Sunday Roast from the freezer

Cool Cookery - Sunday Roast Straight from the freezer

I love a Sunday roast, it’s the perfect thing to see off the Sunday blues and always leaves me feeling like it has been a great weekend. However, our Sundays are rarely about relaxing at home, and there is never a typical Sunday.

Last Sunday I was in Kenya with Comic Relief, the weekend before we had a day out in the countryside, the weekend before that we spent catching up with jobs and squeezing in some food shopping for the week ahead. On days like these there just isn’t time to prep a roast.

Luckily The British Frozen Food federation asked me to trial cooking from the freezer so we stocked up on everything we needed for Sunday Roast from the freezer. Here’s how it went.

The giant Yorkshires were a huge hit

Cool Cookery - Sunday Roast Straight from the freezer-3

Cool Cookery - Sunday Roast Straight from the freezer

And the plates say it all, I cooked too many peas, but the only thing they weren’t keen on was the parsnip and carrot mash.

Cool Cookery - Sunday Roast Straight from the freezer-4

We really enjoyed our Sunday Roast from the freezer, I think the freezer will have more than peas, waffles and veggie sausages from now. We all found some surprising things in the frozen aisle, we also bought dumplings and frozen root vegetables to make a stew with the leftovers, and some blueberries to make smoothies.

We also picked up frozen chilli cubes – I love the idea of frozen herbs and spices. I also swear by having frozen chopped onions in the freezer for the days when you are feeling utterly lazy or just do not have an onion left, but want to cook from scratch – so many attempts to cook something from scratch have fallen at this all important first hurdle in our house. 

Frozen food is great for veg in that you can just take what you need and not waste food or have to worry what happens to what you don’t use up. It can help to save time and money. Research has shown frozen food can save families up to £250 a year.

Quick-freezing locks in freshness and nutritional goodness, usually within hours of harvest. Frozen food often retains nutrition better than products sold as fresh.

I’m working with BritMums and Coolcookery.co.uk highlighting the versatility, economy and nutritional benefits of cooking with frozen food. All opinions are my own. For recipes and ideas visit http://bit.ly/coolcookery

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

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