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.

Wear It Pink Homewares for Breast Cancer Now (Giveaway)

wear it pink

Wear it Pink

Wayfair.co.uk have a number of Wear It Pink homewares for sale in support of Breast Cancer Now, who are hosting #WearItPink on Friday 23rd October. I have some to fab Wear It Pink homewares to giveaway, but in return I would love your help in sharing the #wearitpink message.

All over the country people at home, work and school will be able to join in with #wearitpink, standing together against breast cancer. What stuck out when I was researching this post, was that Breast Cancer Now want to ensure no one dies from Breast Cancer by 2050.

Breast Cancer Now is the leading breast cancer research charity in the UK & Ireland, researching treatments, causes and prevention of breast cancer. One of the suppliers to Wayfair.co.uk is Ethos, Ethos has proudly supported the charity since 2010, (via Breast Cancer Campaign who amalgamated with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to form Breast Cancer Now), with a range of special pink homewares. Over the past three years Ethos are pleased to announce that they have exceeded their fundraising target of £30,000 and committed to raising a further £20,000 by 2015.

I am sure we all know someone who needs a heart emblazoned tea towel, apron or oven gloves. I can’t say I am pink’s number one fan, but this apron is gorgeous,  #wearitpink when baking and I think the tea towels would make a wonderful, warming addition to the kitchen. They would make lovely stocking fillers too I think.

So what you waiting for?

 

Shop it Pink!

For the full range of Wear It Pink homewares from Ethos at Wayfair.co.uk, for Breast Cancer Now, including saucepans, frying pans, pedal bin and juicer please click here.

 

GIVEAWAY

Wear It Pink Homewares

 

I have an Ethos Breast Cancer Now set, as pictured above, to giveaway. I would love those of you on Twitter or Facebook to raise awareness of these Ethos Breast Cancer Now products by spreading my #wearitpink rafflecopter message, and sharing this giveaway.

Buy something regardless, it is a great cause.

To enter just leave a comment and follow the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock other entries. I have also made tweeting the message compulsory, as this is for charity. If you can share this post on Facebook too, please do.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
More competitions here Image credit Shutterstock – Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer

How to Make Easy Chocolate Waffles

Retro Waffle Maker

One of our favourite things this Summer was Chocolate Waffles, we did an awful lot of watersports with Mark Warner at their Levante resort, so I think we earned them! So the hunt began, how to make some nice and easy Chocolate Waffles?

Back home and the rain has returned, Mr G tells me it is a storm from the Atlantic (he is full of weather facts, he must be learning about it at school). We’ve been looking back to our holidays and recreating some of our favourite treats to cheer us up. Last week the kids had INSET and so we made Baklava using the recipe the chef at Levante emailed over for us. We were so excited to have it, we had to make it straight away, I will be sharing that recipe later this month, so look out for it, it is amazing.

We’ve mastered pancakes for breakfast, having a dual hinged pancake pan to make them in is the best thing ever, so waffles and waffle making implements have to be next.

I found this retro waffle maker at the bargain price of £21.99 at Wayfair UK, and I have one to give away today too. I love that it makes heart shaped ones, I am pretty sure we first fell in love with heart shaped waffles at Corfu Club last Summer.

Chocolate Waffles

After scouring the internet, BBC good food came up with this recipe for the electric waffle maker. All that’s left is to stock up on Nutella, and maple syrup. We also enjoyed them with fruit and yogurt and with toffee sauce and chopped nuts at Levante.

Now Autumn/Winter weekend breakfast will forever take us back to this place…if you want to read more about our travels with Mark Warner, check out our family travel blogging.

In this video L shows us why she needed so much nutella on her pancakes! I can’t believe how much she did in a week. Watch the jet skiing, seriously impressive!

 

The giveaway

To win a retro waffle maker and wake up with easy chocolate waffles at the weekends, simply tell me what you like on your waffles in a comment, and use the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock other entries.

Do check out my other giveaway this month too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Retro Waffle Maker. 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 31/10/2015
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/retro-waffle-maker#sthash.8MS28pLf.dpuf

5 unique wool items for your home

wooly-takeover

Wool Week is the week to celebrate all things wooly, so I’ve picked out some unique wool items which warmed my cockles. While wool window shopping I discovered wool doesn’t have to be expensive, but was also reminded why it is a good investment for the home too. Wool is a wonderful natural resource, biodegradable, breathable, renewable. Wool is naturally stain resistant, naturally flame retardant, it dyes easily while remaining colourfast and maintains its appearance longer than other fabrics.

Wool is a great product to have in your home, but it is easy to forget that, so here are some lovely wooly reminders.

 

My top 5 unique wool items

Snuggly Bike Seat

This year for Wool Week sheep moved into Savile Row, centre of UK men’s tailoring, the street was turned into a green pasture. Last year during wool week there was a cycle ride through London, which is why this bicycle seat from Wayfair UK really caught my eye. It keeps the seat warm in Winter and cool in Summer. But, not for everyone of course, but I have picked out some more serious wool items for the home too.

Short-Hair-Saddle-Cover-for-Bicycles-P13-UKW

Handwoven in the UK

This Gallery Hand Woven Wool Throw was made in the UK and comes in different colours, Auburn, Dark Grey and Pebble. It’s lightweight, not what you think of when you think wool throw, but I am betting it is super warm too. I have one to give-away today.

Gallery-Hand-Woven-Wool-Throw

New homes for knitting

This knitted lampshade from Knit Factory comes in a great range of shades, I love the olive green too. Knit Factory have lots of imaginative knitted products for the home, I love the idea of adding warmth and texture to lampshades for a truly cosy corner.

Knitted Wool Lampshade

 

Wool rugs

Wool rugs are great for trapping dust particles in the air, until the vacuum next passes. If I had to pick a wool rug from the huge range at Wayfair, then the Pebble Rug adds interest and is great value. But the Happy Friday Vintage Blue Rug (below) is really unusual, in colour and style.

Patchwork Cushions

I would have to have the Lola Vintage Kilim cushions to match. In fact the whole Happy Friday range is worth investigating.

Vintage Kilim Cushion

Giveaway

To win a Gallery Hand Woven Wool Throw in Auburn, Dark Grey or Pebble, just comment telling me about your favourite woolly item and follow the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock more entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get involved in wool week

To win a On Friday 9th October, The Campaign for Wool will be supporting ‘Woolly Hat Day’ in support of ‘The Mission to Seafarers’ charity that provides care for seafarers around the world. Across the UK, The Campaign for Wool will encourage its partners, retailers and wool lovers to put on their finest woolly hats to raise money and support this important cause. New woolly hat patterns from Marie Wallin, Craft Revolution, Wool and the Gang and other leading knitwear designers will be available to download on campaignforwool.org.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Wool Throw. 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 31/10/2015
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/one-handwoven-wool-throw-worth-%C2%A3150#sthash.XzssROLD.dpuf

A Macmillan Coffee Morning with a Kick

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake

The care of Macmillain nurses, is gentle, subtle, expert and unfailing, it envelops cancer patients and their families when they need it most. No one should face cancer alone. Macmillian coffee mornings are events I always try to support. You can find your nearest here.

It is so easy to organise a Macmillan coffee morning and a lovely way to get together with friends and family to support those facing cancer or to remember loved ones.  It could be with colleagues, at a school, club or just at home with friends, family and neighbours. Big or small, it all makes a difference. Macmillan have even put together a brilliant coffee morning pack, tips and resources like stickers, balloons and cake labels to help you organise it.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but I love the idea of turning a coffee morning into something a bit more exotic than Victoria Sponge and tea, I love creating the perfect situation, so I’m thinking of a more exotic theme, so how about this wickedly easy Lavazza chocolate coffee cake, that takes only 25 minutes and forms it’s own coffee cream layer, so no need to ice, served on an elegant Filigree cake stand?

Filigree-Cake-Stand

How about some Lavazza roast and ground coffee blends served in this amazing Arabic inspired pattern, Moucharabieh 5 Piece Tin Box and Coffee Cup Set, my friends all invited to gather round on cushions to chat away as spicy scented candles burn and transport us far away, to Arabia, or Morocco perhaps?  I would happily throw a tenner in the charity pot for that experience.

Moucharabieh-5-Piece-Tin-Box-and-Coffee-Cup-Set-POR602014

Whatever you do – and it really can be as simple as you want it to be – this cake is so easy to make, and as it requires making a cup of coffee, you can make two and enjoy a coffee while you make it!

Lavazza Chocolate Coffee Cake

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake

Lavazza has been Italy’s favourite coffee for over 120 years. This gloriously easy chocolate coffee cake with a real coffee kick, is taken from the Lavazza website, which has lots more ideas for cooking with coffee.  It is a little daunting throwing a cup of coffee on the cake batter but it forms the most gorgeous creamy coffee layer at the bottom. It is is grown up cake, best enjoyed with good friends and coffee.

Difficulty:
Easy
Preparation time:
25 minutes
Cook time:
35 minutes

For six large or eight small servings:
100 g (3.5 oz) of self raising flour
120 g (4.2 oz) butter
100 g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 large cup of coffee with a little sugar (cooled)
Milk
Salt

Preparation:
Put the butter in the mixer at room temperature and add the sugar (keep 1 tablespoon of sugar) and blend at low speed until the mixture is frothy. Add the lightly beaten eggs, flour, 2 level spoons of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. Add 2 spoons of milk.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake
Pour the mixture into a buttered oven dish, sprinkle uniformly with a mixture obtained by mixing 1 spoonful of cocoa and 1 of sugar.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake - 06

Finish off by quickly pouring in the cooled coffee. I used  an American cup to measure, but it is pretty similar to an English mug of coffee.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake - 07

Place in the oven at 180°C (355°F) for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven.

You can cook the mixture in single-portion moulds or a muffin tin, to make cocoa and coffee cake muffins. In this case reduce the cooking time to 20-25 minutes.

Sprinkle with icing sugar or use a cake duster, like this fab one you get in the Macmillan kit.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake

Serve the cake cut into slices, completing the dish with the coffee cream formed on the bottom of the oven dish.

Easy Coffee and Chocolate Cake

 

Coffee and Chocolate Cake

Giveaway CLOSED

I have a selection of Lavazza roast and ground coffee blends to giveaway, this stunning Moucharabieh 5 Piece Tin Box and Coffee Cup Set  and this Filigree cake stand.

With the recipe, everything you need to create a perfectly themed coffee morning.

 

To enter, just follow the rafflecopter

Do check out my slow cooker giveaway too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions. There is one prize as described in the blog post and rafflecopter. 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 Lavazza.
Closing date for entries is 18/9/2015
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 and Lavazza.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

My top reasons to eat organic, and a slow cooker giveaway

vegetarian stew

There’s been a chill in the air this weekend and on the way home from camping at the amazing Blogstock festival, with all it’s blogging and foodies delights, all I could think about was making a big pot of healthy stew and dumplings. Last week I was missing summer, and I can’t wait to recreate some summer moments, but I am secretly happy to embrace Autumn, and some of my favourite vegetables. I feel like I know where I am with Autumn cooking.

We try and eat organic when we can, over the years I have built up lots of reasons for trying to, so here are my top reasons to eat organic. The most important fruit and veg to eat organic are the dirty dozen plus, the foods with the most pesticide residues.

The Dirty Dozen Plus, foods to eat organic

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes

 

Boost your Vitamins

The Soil association calculated that organic veg can boost your Vitamin C intake by 27%, so if you are trying to up your 5 a day, it is also worth thinking about turning to organic fruit and veg.

 

Better for Animals

Organic farmers have higher standards of animal welfare, giving animals space and fresh air to thrive and organic farmers are helping to protect nature on their farms.

 

Better for nature

Organic farming doesn’t uses pesticides, organic farms protect and encourages wildlife.

 

Better tasting

To me organic food tastes loads better and so I enjoy it more.

 

Support Farmers Directly

When I buy organic veg from a box scheme,  I really love hearing stories from the farmers who produced the contents via the newsletter, it’s great to know exactly where your food came from and that you are supporting farmers directly, rather than them being forced to sell at unfair prices to supermarkets.

 

Avoid the chemicals

Food labelled organic isn’t just grown organically, free from chemicals, it is never combined with ingredients which could be dangerous, or GMO ingredients.

 

Support the future

Organic is a powerful way to support not just our own health, but the future, of nature, wildlife, animals, our children and our planet.

 

Getting round the cost of organic food

I have found that less really is more, I find I have to plan more carefully and treat organic veg with more respect, so it goes further. People often over estimate what they need food wise and it results in waste, so organic food can be a great mindset. Small swaps over time are easier to budget for and slow down your cooking habits for, rather than changing to organic overnight. Plus it tastes better, so less really is more for your money.

I once read that in the UK we spend a lot less on food than the French – it really changed my perspective, I would rather have good food than other supposed luxuries, eating well is so central to my mood, health and ability to function, as well as all all I believe in for the rest of the world.

The Soil Association have 30 great tips to help here, I’m really interested in swapping in more organic beauty products next.

 

Organic recipes from Fab Food Bloggers

Helen, from the The Crazy Kitchen who shared those fab Strawberry and Cream Dessert pots last week,  has a veggie chilli, which sounds incredible. Aly from Bug Bird And Bee is a real expert on vegetable dishes in a slow cooker, I love that she made slow cooker lasagne. And if you are looking for pud, try Cass from the Frugal Family’s Slow Cooker Tea Cup Chocolate Cupcakes, you actually bake them in the tea cups!

 

Giveaway

I have one Chef-O-Matic Multifunction Cooker slow cooker to giveaway to a lucky reader this month.

The incredible 12-in-1, multifunction, compact countertop cooking machine that roasts, sears, grills, bakes, fondue’s, sauté’s, poaches, steams, boils, deep fries, warms and re-heats… all in just one machine. Making homemade healthy and delicious meals has never been easier. Just dial in the cooking temperature, set the time and that’s it. Chef-O-Matic heats up in half the time of a fan assisted oven and cost 50% less to run. Flash fry an amazing sea food stir fry or slow cook all day while you’re away, and then come home to meals that are hot and ready to serve.

Chef-O-Matic-Multifunction-Cooker-1
Just fill in the rafflecopter and tell me your favourite organic product or slow cooker recipe! And do check out the coffee morning giveaway too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your top reasons to eat organic?

 

Terms and conditions

There is one prize of a Slow Cooker. 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 30/9/2015
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 credit – Shutterstock Stewed Haricots

www.theprizefinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/chef-o-matic-red-slow-cooker-worth-%C2%A349#sthash.EsPpYmA5.dpuf

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.

 

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?

 

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

Creating a homework space they’ll want to work in

DSC_39211

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.

 

14693838615_2d7c6952a4_o

 

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!

 

Teen-Boys-Room-Industrial-Desk

 

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.

 

Home-Etc-Writing-Desk-HO9292r-1

 

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

 

T&Cs

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

Style Challenge – The Perfect Picnic

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Today’s style challenge, with three other great home and lifestyle bloggers, is all about alfresco dining, so I have been on a hunt for inspiring items which create the perfect picnic situation. I’ve brought together some scene setting items from home and garden experts Wayfair UK, and some great gear from picnic experts Olpro, who design colourful and technical camping and caravanning gear for the great British outdoors.  I also have some of the items to giveaway, so your perfect picnic is in sight!

I often look at images like this and feel grumpy that my picnics are nothing like this. But it only takes a little bit of effort to transform a picnic into an experience you won’t forget, it really is all about the prep, having the right gear and investing a little bit of time so you can truly relax in style for the rest of the day. We don’t often take the time to do it, but the memories will last a lifetime.

 

Setting the scene

To set the scene how about cushions, picnic rugs, or I love this floral fleece rug and gorgeous tray tables. What about some lanterns or these LED hanging paper lanterns to take you from stylish daytime picnic or garden party, to an evening gathering? The perfect Summerhouse family cool bag has matching deckchairs.

 

Setting the Scene for the Perfect Picnic

 

A traditional picnic hamper is guaranteed to set the scene and once emptied they also make a handy table, just take along a small white cloth to cover.

 

A wicker picnic basket makes for the perfect picnic situation

 

Displaying your picnic wares

Olpro asked the public what summed up the Great British Summer when designing their colourful melamine sets, I love the Berrow Hill camping themed set, we had lots of fun with it when camping last year.

How about this enamel picnic set from Wayfair UK for something more vintage? Or the Witley set from Olpro if you prefer something less floral but high on the style stakes?

 

Perfect Picnicware from Wayfair and Olpro

 

Always remember a little knife, even better take Olpro’s handy compact chopping board which also doubles as safe storage for your knife. Lightweight bowls are great to empty food into from packets, the Olpro sets come with bowls but you could add this hummingbird salad bowl from Wayfair.

 

 

Gimme Shelter

It is absolutely worth thinking about shelter, I can’t think of anything better to retreat from the heat or summer rain than this Olpro pop up beach hut which comes in red, yellow and blue. It only takes 30 seconds to take down, you can watch the video here.

 

Pop Up Beach Hut

 

WayfairUK have a great selection of garden gazebos and pagodas if you are looking to create a permanent picnic spot this summer.

To keep the wind at bay at the coast or even on a hilltop, what about an Olpro windbreak? I’ve fallen for this dry stone wall, although I am torn by the picket fence, to match the beach hut, but you can also get one to match the Witley melamine set, or a privet hedge. Great fun for beach, camping or picnic.

 

Stone-Wall-Windbreak-for-Web

 

 

What to eat?

Food wise I think simple, and a bit rustic always wins. Good quality ingredients speak for themselves, don’t need much prep and leave more time for picnic presentation.

 

Great ideas for easy picnic snacks

 

I love baguettes or home made bread, olives, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, great cheeses, babybels for the kids,  hummus, hard boiled eggs, sausage rolls. Some crisps, maybe some quiche, crudités and dips, slices of cake and lots of summer fruit to finish off. Something cool to drink, or maybe even a summer cocktail.

I like to have something a bit different too! There is something so summery about seeing a child with a slice of watermelon the size of their head, gets messy though so take some wipes, or head for a dip in the sea or river afterwards.

 

Watermelon makes a fun picnic treat!

 

Finding the perfect spot

You’ve spent time preparing the perfect picnic, check out these amazing spots to have a picnic, courtesy of Olpro.

 

Style Challenge

Each month I take part in a style challenge with 3 other home bloggers, the theme this week is ‘alfresco dining’. For more picnic inspiration, check out these great posts on Thrifty Home, Love Chic Living and The Ana Mum Diary.

Who wins this week’s style challenge do you think?

Picnic Perfection - great ideas to transform your picnic to a perfect situation

 

The Giveaway

To set you on the way to your perfect picnic I have one  4 person picnic hamper thanks to WayfairUK, one Olpro 4 pole windbreak, and one Olpro four person melamine dining set to giveaway.

The winner can choose the 4 pole windbreak and dining set design, but you must let me know exactly which design of each you would like as your prize and why in the comments, you will need to visit the Olpro store using the links above, and choose carefully now!

The simply follow the rafflecopter below to register your entry. Don’t miss my cocktail giveaway!

For discounts and the chance of further prizes via Olpro Picnic Club why not upload your picnic images to the Olpro Picnic Club or tag an instagram photo with #olpropicnicclub?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Photo credits – 3, 7, 8 – Shutterstock – Picnic with different snacksPicnic with different snacks on a blanket and  Watermelon. 1, 5, 6 Olpro.

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Picnic hamper from Wayfair, Olpro Windbreak and Olpro 4 person tableware set. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. If winner’s choice of items are out of stock an alternative will be offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence and Olpro.
Closing date for entries is 12 am 31/7/2015
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 and Olpro
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

Promoters
Wayfair UK ANGEL HOUSE 338 GOSWELL RD ANGEL HOUSE, LEVEL 4 LONDON EC1V 7QL
Olpro Units 4-5, KDO Business Park, Little Witley, Worcestershire, WR6 6LG

Competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/picnic-hamper-windbreak-and-picnic-set#sthash.RJWR37td.dpuf

Bringing sexy back to the garden and a giveaway

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Mr A tells me I look hot wielding an electric hedge trimmer, and I mean hot in a sexy, not an overheated way. Perhaps Mr A is just flattering me because he doesn’t want to do it himself, but in my book, there is nothing more satisfying than meaty garden jobs, power tools rock. I secretly love mowing the lawn too, I complain a lot as I do it, woe betide anyone who sets foot on the grass while I am mowing, but between you and me, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had from gardening’s tougher jobs.

 

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Since I invested in the right tools for the job, gardening has got so much easier. I also relish getting rid of brambles and taming the Laurel tree offshoots with the long armed pruning shears, or a lopper – as I believe is the technical name – great stress relief.

So I think today’s garden giveaway in partnership with Dickies workwear is pretty damn hot! Dickies have donated the women’s work boots and trousers you see below. Wayfair have added the gardener’s apron (tools in pocket not included) and the pruning set.

 

Garden Gear

 

So now you, or the woman in your life who loves to get dirty in the garden, can be all kitted out for some more serious garden activity.

The synthetic fur lined Rigger boots will keep you snug in Autumn, in sizes 3-12, or you can find the unlined version in sizes 6-12. They have metal toe caps to protect your feet, perfect if you get distracted while digging, as I often do.

The Eisenhower Ladies Trouser, comes with multiple pockets and padded knees, and is specially fitted to the female form. Look good, keep track of your stuff and protect your knees.

This Am-tech 3 piece pruning set is the right colour not to get lost in the garden. This set includes pruner, garden shears and lopper.

I really like this Fallen Fruits Lady Apron, (yes, that’s what it is really called), because let’s face it, although most the time no-one is watching me garden, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good. Plus on a practical level, I am always losing stuff.

To enter, just complete the rafflecopter below, I look forward to hearing all about the garden jobs you find most satisfying, may that question not open up a can of worms!

 

Image credits – woman with watering can and woman mowing lawn via Shutterstock.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Dickies Boots, Trousers, Pruning set and Lady Apron. 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 Dickies.
Closing date for entries is 30/6/2015
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 and Dickies.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/gardening-tools-apron-trousers-and-boots#sthash.rOQK71U1.dpuf

Spring Cleaning Secrets Giveaway

Spring Cleaning - 1

Windy Washing Day. Laundry box from Premier Housewares at Wayfair.co.uk

 

This weekend was spent on a spring clean. When I say clean, I really mean clear out. We’ve cleared out half a roomful of stuff we don’t need from the house, so now we can start to clean some corners that haven’t been so easy to access for a while.

I read a really interesting article about living minimally at the weekend, and I am hoping this will give us more time to spend together as a family, and less time looking for stuff. We’re not huge or problem hoarders, but we’re lucky to have spare rooms where stuff gets put and forgotten, we’re busy, and like any family, we find kids outgrow stuff so quickly.

I work from home, I can’t stand the place being crowded. Little things make a big difference. An example, it sounds silly, but I am much preferring looking at this new laundry tin on the window sill, instead of a big box of powder. Clean windows from the inside make a big difference too of course.

I hate washing, some days I curse each family members socks, but now spring is here I am beginning to see it in a new way. Little things make chores more enjoyable, (like taking photos rather than doing the chores).

 

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I won’t lie, clear outs are always an emotional process and progress seemed slow at first, but by the end of the weekend I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Clearing has moved on to cleaning… so I thought I would share some wisdoms from a weekend spent spring cleaning, and I also have four fabulous prizes if you are planning a spring clean.

 

Spring Cleaning Secrets

 

Get everyone on board

It’s miserable when you feel like no one else is helping, so find ways to make it fun and get the people you live with on board.

 

Treats

Crank up the stereo, dress up in silly clothes, buy a bag of Maltesters, have a Gin and Tonic while you clean, plan a few meals out, or take aways.

Spring Cleaning Secrets...

 

 

Time Out

Break it up with walks in the fresh air to remind you that you don’t need ‘stuff’ to be happy. I found this bit really key!

Spring Rape field

 

Occupy the troops

If you have kids reward them for a realistic time spent helping sort their rooms, with a new DVD, magazine or toy that will keep them busy while you keep going. Explain you need some time and patience and that there will be rewards for helping. For my children 6 was a turning point in being able to part with things easily, especially if they could swap a bag with something new in the charity shop, before that rotating boxes of toys helped to keep me sane.

 

Get your kit organised

Think like a professional and keep all the products and cloths you need in one place. I love this Kitchen Craft Housekeeping cleaning caddy one of the prizes in the giveaway, it has a lovely vintage look about it and reminds me of working in a 5 star hotel housekeeping department, where you just have to crack on and get the job done. I hate chores in my house, but little things like this can bring more joy to the job. Same with things like peg bags, or washing powder caddies.

custom_image

 

Stock up on cleaning products, Astonish make cruelty free, vegetarian society approved ones and have a box flu, for every room in the house, to giveaway.

The Vorwerk VC100 handheld vacuum cleaner quickly and easily sucks up anything from dry mud to pet hair from tricky nooks and crannies. It is exactly what we need for our old Victorian table full of cracks. And it is much lighter than your average handheld vacuum. I also have one to giveaway today.

 

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Start with a drawer and line it

Decluttering gurus say to start with something small. Start with the drawer in the kitchen full of nonsense, or in the bedroom, your sock drawer. Throw out the things that need to go, be ruthless, and then why not line that drawer to encourage you to keep it pleasant? I love these Summer Hill drawer liners from Crabtree and Evelyn, they smell lovely too and they are part of the giveaway.

m-sum282546drawer_liner2

 

Use containers

Having containers and baskets within cupboards helps to keep like with like, and makes cleaning up and moving condiments – or my favourite, moving breakfast things to and from the table – a breeze.

Spring Cleaning 2 - 2

 

Use labels

We labelled the pegs on the back of the kitchen door, and for weeks the stuff on them has stayed ordered. Amazing. You could get a proper labeller of course, but a sharpie works just as well, or sellotaped paper.

Spring Cleaning - 2

Spring Cleaning 2 - 1

labelling kids drawers

 

Have four bags/boxes

One for recycling, one for rubbish, one for ‘doesn’t belong in this room’, and one for charity.  It really is that simple. Or in rooms lots of people use, have a basket for each member of the family, which you can put things in for them to sort out.

 

Always seal the bag to the charity shop 

It’s too tempting for people to change their minds.  Even better, take it straight to the boot of your car, so it doesn’t get unpacked or clutter up another room in the house.

 

Use a timer

If you really can’t face it, stick a timer on and promise to keep going for 10 minutes. You’ll probably find you are happy to keep going at the end, getting started is the tough bit.

Eddingtons-Magnetic-Retro-Timer-in-Sax-Blue-850090

Eddingtons Magnetic Retro Timer in Sax Blu from Wayfair

 

Storage Solutions

People often think about storage the wrong way. 9 times out of 10, after a big clear out, you will find you have enough storage, can use what you have differently or need something very different indeed.  Sorting gives you time to think about how you really use things. The tub chair at the end of our kitchen gets used as storage not seating, and a bench with storage, or a sideboard would be much better, rather than a new shelf for cook books I no longer use to gather dust.

 

One room at a time

We focussed on the kid’s rooms and three big cupboards over the break, it seemed not very much for a weekend, but it does feel like we have broken the back of the biggest problem areas. Anything is possible after tackling their rooms!

 

Eyes on the Prize

Try and visualise what you want your home to be like and how that will make you feel. The secret of people who can clean without procrastination is that they can clearly visualise how great the end result will be and how it will improve their circumstances in their mind before they begin.

 

 

To Enter the Spring Clean Secrets Giveaway

 

I have a fantastic Spring Clean bundle of these four items to giveaway.

1. This vintage style blue metal cleaning caddy from Kitchen Craft at WayfairUK is the perfect place to store your Astonish products.

custom_image

2. Astonish cleaning products. They are cruelty free and Vegetarian society approved and Alexander Residence tested – as you can see from the photos, they definitely work! Set includes, kitchen cleaner, window and glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, mould and mildew remover and oven cleaner.

Astonish cruelty free cleaning products

3. For fast clean ups the Vorwerk VC100 handheld vacuum cleaner quickly and easily sucks up anything from dry mud to pet hair, and the sleek, stylish design means it doesn’t have to be hidden away in the cupboard.

VC100 on wall

Made from a high quality, durable white gloss thermoformed plastic and weighing only 750g – the rough equivalent of two cans of Coke – it is optimally engineered so that the weight distribution is centered near the handle making it extremely light and easy to manoeuvre. RRP £149.00.

4. To keep your home smelling lovely, and the inside of your drawers looking pretty, some Crabtree and Evelyn Summer Hill drawer liners.

 m-sum282546drawer_liner2

Just follow the rafflecopter instructions and check out the other giveaways too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spring Cleaning Secrets

Terms and conditions

There is one prize of a set of Astonish products, a Cleaning Caddy from WayfairUK, Crabtree and Evelyn Summer Hill Drawer Liners and a Vorwerk VC100 handheld vacuum cleaner. 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 Crabtree, Astonish and Vorwerk.
Closing date for entries is 31/5/2015.
One entry per person.
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen.
The winner’s name will be available on request.
The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence and Crabtree, Astonish and Vorwerk.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder

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