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.


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

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 my 6yo 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, he is 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?

Style Challenge – The Perfect Picnic



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.





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.

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

Mr McGregor’s Garden at the World of Beatrix Potter

World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


Irresistible isn’t it, that gate? I can see exactly why Peter Rabbit ducked under it! We spent an afternoon visiting Mr McGregor’s Garden at the World of Beatrix Potter, in the Lake District. It won a gold at Chelsea last year – of course.

When we visited, ironically the garden had experienced some real rabbit visitors, and as a result the tea room was out of lettuce. I kid you not.


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


It is actually built on a small roof terrace, overlooking a busy Lake District village street, but it is magical how they have achieved the sense of a cottage garden! I love that Mr McGregor’s tools are left as if he has just popped to the greenhouse for something.


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


I love the mischievous creatures hiding. Indoors there are beautiful three dimensional models inspired by Potter’s illustrations, good to see some crept outdoors.


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden - 10


The little blue jacket we all know so well!


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


With its shiny buttons.


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


The greenhouse looks as if someone could be working there. Like stepping into the story.


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden - 04


I love that mentions of plants in the books inspired the garden…


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


Small but perfectly formed, and full of charm and life, I am not surprised it achieved gold!


World of Beatrix Potter - 6


A few shots from indoors, as it is impossibly sweet and I have to share.


World of Beatrix Potter - 4 World of Beatrix Potter - 3 World of Beatrix Potter - 2


The model of Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home, which you can also visit, with it’s own lovely little garden.


World of Beatrix Potter Hill Top


It’s an attraction you can linger in, or whizz through on route to your next adventure. I thought it was really enchanting!


World of Beatrix Potter Mr McGregors Garden


More information here: World of Beatrix Potter

Bringing sexy back to the garden and a giveaway



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.




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

A Nation of Gardeners – but what are they thinking?



Sometimes, when people leave comments on the blog, I think to myself that they would make a lovely blog post. For my last garden competition, I asked the question ‘What’s happening in your garden?’ I loved reading all the comments, so many different snippets of stories of gardening life across the UK. Which got me thinking, what if I put some of them together in a post, with some pictures?

You can almost hear it, see it, smell it and imagine it, gardens up and down the UK buzzing with activity…


I always love getting out there and getting my hands dirty. I always feel better after! Claudia

We’ve just bought a house with a garden (we don’t have one at the moment) – very excited! Sarah

Waiting for the bluebells to die away so that I can get the Asters in that I grew from seed. My Livingstone daisies are looking a treat – such beautiful colours. Maggie




I’m clearing a large area of moss infested lawn and sowing lots of wildflower seeds. Plus nearly filled my vegetable patch – just the cucumbers and cucamelons to plant out when the nights are warmer. Sue

I am busy painting my fence in Heritage Blue. Looks great! Once complete, I will attach my hanging baskets. Bring on the Summer! Tracey

A bit of gentle pruning with the power saw… David

Battling bravely against the endless hordes of the dandelion army … Rich




We love mud kitchens, they just have to be rotated yearly in our garden. One year, they nearly dug under the neighbour’s fence. Katie

We made it wildlife friendly, Charlie dug a hole and buried an old washing up bowl covered the sides with rocks and now has a mini pond. He’s hoping for frogs! But so far only millipedes! We also painted shells, stones and golf balls with acrylic paints to hide in the flower beds. I love wild flowers and can’t wait for ours to take. Joanne




Veg are out, flowers planted but weeds are back. I am also doing a daily slug/snail hunt! Anna

Loosing the war against slugs and snails! Helen




I’m ridiculously excited as my garden is no bigger than a modest patio but I’m digging over a small area for which I have big plans. It may well qualify for a record for the most plants planted in the smallest area. But I know what I want and I’m going to fit everything in – somehow – and make sure that all the plants thrive so both the family and wildlife can enjoy it. Susan

I’ve just picked some fresh spinach from my veggie garden for our dinner. Beats shop bought any day. Celia




Potted up the cucumbers I sowed. Hope these ones survive, this is the third attempt…previously the cats and the dogs ate them!  Hayley

It’s our first year with a veggie patch..so far we have planted carrots, potatoes, beetroot, bean and courgettes. Toni

My daughter is 2 so we are just planting dwarf beans, tomatoes, spinach and strawberries on our veg ladder (container garden) Angela




I have planted up my herbs, green beans and tomatoes, the sunflowers are well on their way and at the weekend I did all my baskets, tubs and troughs. Karen

Here in Scotland you really can’t plant anything until the very end of May as night frosts and cold days are still common. It annoys me that garden centres sell bedding plants from April, a good marketing ploy as the plants are likely to die and then you have to buy more ! Karen

In our community garden, in Bethnal green, we are busy planting hedging, seeds for vegetables and planning our big lunch event. Ben




Watching the wisteria bloom. Ruth

I was helping my mum to dead-head the flowers… Very satisfying. Emily

Hopefully relaxing with a drink. Tracey


I’m with you Tracey, I raise my glass in a toast to the Gardener’s of the UK!

I hope some of these mini stories resonated with you? If you haven’t already told me, do: What’s happening in your garden?


If you are in need of anything to furnish your outdoor living space, a gentle reminder that Wayfair.co.uk have a Garden department and daily sales.

About Chelsea Flower Show

Have you been following the Chelsea Flower Show coverage?

Here are my top three favourites, do let me know what you think, and which ones you liked best.


A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse by L’Occitane



I immediately loved the way this was described, an old and forgotten, Provence perfume plantation rescued, the plants allowed to overgrow and then teased into this majestic scene. It sounds a lot like my garden, which constantly verges between the overgrown and beautifully wild and naturalistic. The idea here is that overgrown and forgotten perfume plantations in Grasse are being regenerated thanks to ecologically sensitive companies like L’Occatine.

I loved the way the garden has a shelter or ‘lavoir’ at the end, the idea was to represent the traditional way Provençal women, the ‘occitan’, would gather in lavoirs to wash their clothes and then leave it to hang and dry on the rosemary or lavender bushes to scent them. Sounds heavenly. Our rosemary bush is so vast and overgrown, the washing often catches on it, but now I have a use for it!

Designed by James Basson. Built by Peter Dowle. Sponsored by L’Occitane.


The Time In Between by Husqvarna and Gardena




This immediately resonated, Charlie Albone designed this garden as a space to tell his late father about his life. The presenter felt the path was too wide, but I love that Charlie designed it to be wide enough for a family to walk through side by side. I loved the shapes and the gestures and the aliums especially made me smile. The rich and multi layered planting just feels like the patchwork of life to me.

The water feature was incredibly emotive, a giant brick layer basin which filled in 8 minutes and emptied in seconds, a poignant reminder of how time plays tricks with us and the ways emotions effect us.

Designed by Charlie Albone. Built by Conway Landscaping. Sponsored by Husqvarna & Gardena.


The M&G Garden



There was much debate about whether this should have been gold, in my (humble and untechnical) book I think it should absolutely have a gold medal. It was the literary connections, the calmness of the water, the soft edges and the idea of a secluded garden retreat that really appealed.

The garden features ‘a two-storey oak-framed building inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s writing room at Sissinghurst, a large natural swimming pond edged with water loving plants, a woodland of river birches, acacias and acers, and a garden with tumbling roses and peonies.’

I came close to visiting Sissinghurst in February, now I think I missed a trick, although it wouldn’t have been at it’s best in Winter. I think you could really find peace in a garden like this, don’t you?

Designed by Jo Thompson. Built by S H Landscapes. Sponsored by M&G.


Watching the coverage of Chelsea Flower Show really helped me to see what my tastes are, and what plants and garden schemes speak most to me. It was great fun debating who got which medal and why. It also made me see how far reaching inspirations for gardens can be and…who knew gardening was so emotional? Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Did you have a favourite this year? Even better, I would love to hear about your top three!  If you want to have a look round all the gardens are here.


Photo Credits – Royal Horticultural Society

Find of the Week: Rustic Planters


I hope you had a lovely weekend? For the first time in a while ours wasn’t full of travel and days out, we were at home and on a mission. We tackled the kid’s rooms, a few over stuffed cupboards and the garden. I am shattered, but really pleased – for a while I’ve been feeling as if the walls were coming in on me, so it feels great to have had a big clear out.

I will share some pictures later in the week, but after a back breaking day of gardening I just about have the energy to share my find of the week! One of the nice things I did was reclaim the decking at the end of the garden – it had become cluttered with toys the kids no longer play with, but now it is home to my sun lounger and a few plant pots. We left room for their mud kitchen, so now everyone is happy.

Each year I like to add a few more pots to the collection in the garden, slowly but surely, so I know I can manage to look after all the plants within them. I love rustic planters, this Fallen Fruits 5 piece planter set from Wayfair.co.uk would perfect for starting off my succulent collection. In my last garden post succulents were one of my suggestions for time poor gardeners.


I like that you can move this set, so you don’t forget about it or if what you have planted doesn’t like its spot, that is the joy of container gardening – another of my suggestions for time poor gardeners. They are also small but manageable – again perfect for someone like me who just doesn’t get as much done in the garden as she would like. It could also make a nice feature on a garden table.

I’ve been set a bit of a style challenge this week for Find of the Week by Becky over at Thrifty Home, along with Jen from Love Chic Living and Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary. Amanda picked the theme of planters, but we’ve all chosen different style planters – rustic, thrifty, luxury, contemporary. Have a look and see what you think of the other’s choices, and let us know which one you would pick! Mine?

Have a great week! Have you done any planting recently?

Hello Garden! Seven Garden Ideas for Time Poor Gardeners.

Something for all you time poor gardeners today! I’m finally admitting I am a time poor gardener.  I have been looking for plants and garden projects that fit in with my lifestyle and time, so I thought I would share a few here, I also have a gorgeous giveaway, perfect, if like me, you need a little gentle encouragement to get gardening.

I’ve also enlisted the help of an expert, Catherine over at Growing Family blog. Do check it out for really accessible and inspiring ideas.

Each year I hope to find a little more time for the garden, but I don’t. So I am also trying to be realistic, we travel and go exploring a lot at weekends, and so keeping on top of high maintenance plants isn’t going to work.

However, after what seems like forever, we have been out in the garden again. Mother’s Day I spent digging the veg patch and borders with my daughter, the Easter holidays gave me time to mow the lawn. I’m just about reaching the stage where I might plant some stuff.


1. Wild Flowers


Just go for it, and quickly, wild flowers really do quickly cover up for a multitude of gardening sins.

Everyone says wild flowers need poor soil. There is debate among gardeners about whether wild flowers actually do thrive in poor soil. It may just be that they do better in soil where they don’t have to compete with grass to grow. I’ve had packets that did nothing, and packets that did everything while I did nothing. Now I wish I had written down what worked! I have also read that cheap garden centre packets are to be avoided, but I can tell you now, i am pretty sure it was the cheap packet that grew and the expensive one that failed. So really it is a case of buying to suit your soil, or a bit of luck.


2. Succulents

These can thrive in poor soil and can cope with erratic watering, and can be great fun to arrange. My Dad always has a fantastic collection, and they are very easy to take cuttings from. One of my greatest regrets is losing the money tree houseplant I took a cutting from my cousin, who took it from our grandmother. Grandma knew my green fingers came and went though, while my brother diligently dug and weeded the veg patch she would let me grow quick and easy flowers that sustained my attention. I think she would understand.

Succulents are small and contained in pots, troughs etc. They are a lovely small project that brings a lot of joy and quick satisfaction.




3. Child Labour

If you have kids, and get them invested, there is more chance you will remember to water things. Planting with friends, a partner or grandchildren can give you the added motivation and likelihood of keeping things alive.


I asked Catherine over at Growing Family for some tips on what to grow with kids, do check out her post on this. She also suggested magic personalised courgettes…now this would make me water things!

For real wow factor with kids, get them to do some magic with courgettes.  These plants grow very easily from seed and once they start to produce courgettes, kids can lightly scratch their name onto a small one.  It will grow pretty quickly into a giant name; leave it long enough and they’ll have a huge marrow with their name on.  My kids never tire of this one!


4. Alpine Strawberries

One thing that seems to go mad whatever we do is alpine strawberry plants, they seem more robust than actual strawberries. They never make it to the table, just get picked while the kids are playing out, but for that very reason, they are a magical addition to our garden.


5. Contain yourself

Starting small can be a really good way to focus your efforts. Our first year growing veg we had a small raised bed, right near the back door and it made it so much easier to keep an eye on. Last year we decided to pot some herbs on the decking. Catherine has some great ideas for vegetables to grow in containers, including herbs, great to have by the kitchen door.

Garden Containers from WayfairUK

Garden Containers from WayfairUK


6. Low Maintenance

I looked to desert and drought loving plants favoured by Pinterest pinners in the driest parts of the US. If it can survive in Nevada, surely it can manage in suburban Nottingham? Ok, I know it isn’t quite that simple, but I am building a collection of low maintenance plants that don’t need me to water them daily. Watch this space!

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Low Maintenance Garden on Pinterest.


7. Plant a tree

Don’t waste time over this, do it sooner rather than later! The time spent deciding what apple tree to plant, digging the hole, and watering in the first year was quickly repaid. We have two apple trees and again, the fruit rarely makes it past the garden, but the bounty is so worth it! Apple trees don’t need much love to become self sufficient, watering the first year, some pruning yearly.


A Little Garden Giveaway

I have this gorgeous and useful Fallen Fruits Botanicae Tool Stool, plus these pretty and practical gardening gloves to give away. I love the Fallen Fruits garden range at Wayfair UK – it is a great mix of stuff you need and stuff you want. I also love their welly racks and gorgeous garden shelves. The tool bag unclips from the stool so you can use it as a tool bag, a stool or a stool and tool bag in one. The tools aren’t included, but these fab gloves are.

Fallen Fruits Garden Kit  

To enter

1.  Visit the WayfairUK garden department, and as part of your blog post comment, let me know what you have spotted as your find of the week.

2. Follow the rafflecopter instructions to claim as many entries as you can. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of Fallen Fruits Tool Stool and Gardening Gloves. 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 30/4/2015
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 WayfairUK and A Residence Blog.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

More competitions at www.theprizefinder.com

#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
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