Reasons To Love January


A little website admin

Hello all, 

This weekend we’re moving my blog over to a self-hosted domain. Everything should remain the same, but there may be a few glitches – so thanks for bearing with us. 

You may have noticed some new images on the blog (painted by my talented mum) and I’m excited about all the little changes I can make once Marmalade Pie is self-hosted. 

Please give me a little hello in the comments if you can spare a moment – it would be reassuring to know things are working ok!

My Week


Last Saturday was a strawberry day. Gabriel was invited to a friend’s strawberry picking party (what a lovely idea!) and we all tagged along to gather lots and lots for jam-making. Unfortunately, just as we arrived at the farm, the heavens opened and it rained and rained and rained. In spite of the weather we still managed to pick 4kg to take home with us. After a brief sojourn in the village pub for birthday cake, we headed home with our harvest ready for some jam making.


As usual, my jam-making was a slightly hap-hazard and messy affair. I also misread the recipe and forgot to add the lemon juice. So, although I used jam-sugar with extra pectin, it came out a bit runny – but in a good way. After  some reading around, I saw that Jamie Oliver doesn’t use lemon juice in his either – which made me feel a bit better.


It was heavenly spread on James’ homemade sourdough for breakfast on Sunday…


After breakfast we headed over to our favourite ‘lazy car-boot sale’. We’re never up early enough for traditional boot sales, so this one – which opens at 11am – is perfect for us. The sun was shining and we had a good meander round the field, with the help of a bag of doughnuts from the van. The selection of items was a little disappointing. It was very samey, and 1990s themed – with no real vintage gems. I bought this game for 50p which amused me, as James used to be a journalist.


It’s actually really hard though, and rather boring. Gabriel picked up a few Lego figures and Tom found a stash of little plastic ponies. But it was still a fun morning out.

Monday was The Day of the Missing Pony…


You probably don’t want to be bored by the details, but let’s just say it involved trudging about four miles in the torrential rain backwards and forwards between the community hospital and school. ‘Brownie’ the pony is now safely back in the family bosom and will henceforth be strung on a string tied to Tom’s trousers!


On Tuesday I met the sweetest little puppy, which has further fuelled my desire to have a dog. Let’s save that lengthy discussion for a future date though, shall we? I chase my metaphorical tail on this one on a daily basis at the moment.

My Little Riviera Box

One lovely thing that happened this week is the arrival of my second box from My Little Box. It was really great – much better than last month. You can read more here.


Thursday was a really warm day here and I spent a bit of time finishing off some more pots in the garden. As you may have read here, our new fence panels were delivered this week. Hopefully these will go up this weekend and I can finally arrange my pots where I want them and tidy up the patio. It’s funny how one broken thing can have such a de-motivating effect. Our garden is particularly messy this year. I want to get it sorted, as it should be a sanctuary and we’re lucky to have it.


I used the special twine that my mum brought me back from Chelsea this week. It was lovely – so soft and silky. It’s called Twool and is made from Dartmoor wool.

Looking back, I think my word of the week has to be strawberries. Better that than ponies.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Lizzie x

The Reading Residence

Review: My Little French Riviera Box


Last month I reviewed my first My Little Box. I was a little disappointed as the contents were mainly L’Occitane samples, which I love but are already very familiar. For me, the real selling point of these subscription boxes is the element of surprise. Life can be a bit dull in the Fens and a little dose of unexpected French chic is just what I need each month.

I’m delighted to report that my second box, the French Riviera Box, is so much better than last month’s! Yet again, the box is beautiful and substantial in itself. I need to think of a good use for all the empty boxes – craft supplies, perhaps?

Here’s what greeted me when I opened the lid…


Next out was a little box containing these adorable sunglasses designed by Sarah Lavoine. I must admit, I’ve never heard of Sarah Lavoine, but she is the featured designer for this box and there is an interview with her in the little magazine.



And here’s this month’s little calico bag full of goodies…



Nail varnish by Sarah Lavoine, Kerastase blow-drying milk and a body scrub. I am thrilled with all these products and the varnish is already on my toes! They are decent sizes too.

The last thing out of the box are these little pots, which are designed for the bathroom. They’re quite sweet and I’m sure I’ll find a use for them – although they’re probably the weakest element of an otherwise excellent box.


So, all in all, I’m delighted with this month’s box and can’t wait to receive the next one! If you’re interested in signing up, it’s £11 a month, plus £3.95 postage – not cheap, but it felt worth it this time.


Sweet peas and succulents

Our house is a total tip this week. Our fridge/freezer broke down last week and we had a new one delivered today. I can’t believe how much mess sorting it out has generated. We had to defrost the freezer, dispose of the ancient contents and deal with four year’s worth of dirt and dust. Maybe there are some virtuous people who clean behind their fridges every year – sadly, I’m not one of them. As soon as you start having to use all your time on extra chores, the rest of the house slips into complete squalor surprisingly quicky.

Oh well. I’m not on top of the mess yet, but I have been enjoying some pretty things amidst the chaos. The heady scent of freshly picked sweetpeas from my mum’s garden…

My sweetpeas aren’t quite ready yet, but they’re almost there…

These sweetpeas are waiting to be moved to a better spot when the new fence goes up. On which note, we finally recieved a special delivery today…

Weather permitting, fence-building should be happening this weekend. I’d like to get it painted at some point, but I think we’ll save this job for the Autumn when there’s less growing. I can’t wait to have a decent fence again without massive holes in it!

Heading back indoors, come and say hello to my first succulent…

Hopefully we’ll be ship-shape again soon!

Home Etc


What I wore for a sunny coffee date

Boden summer skirt and breton

Last week, James and I had a free morning together and headed out for a coffee date. It was a lovely sunny day in our beautiful little city. We walked around the market and then headed for coffee at The Old Fire Engine House.

The Old Fire Engine House Ely

Morning coffee there is a sweet, informal affair where you help yourself to coffee and cakes in the kitchen before finding a spot in the garden to enjoy it. In summer, it’s the perfect English cottage garden to wander in.

Boden summer skirt and denim jacket

I wore my lovely new Boden skirt – an early birthday present from my mum. I love a Boden skirt – and this one is perfect! Full, but not too short and the denim jacket stops it looking too prissy.

Boden Florence skirt Boden Florence skirt and breton stripes

What I wore:

Skirt: Boden. This print is sold out now, but there are others available in the same style.

T shirt, Boden – past season, but this is basically the same.

Jacket: New Look

Sandals: Clark’s, past season

Scented play dough


My four-year-old son absolutely adores play dough. We often buy the shop-bought stuff and sometimes we make a big batch of plain, uncoloured home-made dough. This time, though, I decided to go to town with flavours and colours. It was such fun and he loved it!

Whenever I make play-dough I end up forgetting what I did previously and have to trawl the internet for a recipe – depending on what ingredients I have in the cupboard! This recipe at The Imagination Tree is one of the best I’ve found – although I didn’t use any glycerine. I prefer the recipes that include Cream of Tartar – I’m not sure what it does, but it always seems smoother and softer.


For flavourings I chose orange, lemon, peppermint and almond – and some non-matching food colouring.


I made a batch of plain coloured play dough using the recipe above – or your favourite. You might want to make a double quantity. I only made one, which was plenty for one child. Normally, you’re supposed to add the food colouring while you’re combining the ingredients, but I didn’t this time as I wanted to play with a few different colours.


When you’ve got the play dough to the right consistency (soft, but not sticky), divide in into four pieces (or as many different flavours as you want). Take your first piece and add a blob of food colouring and a few drops of flavouring and work it into the dough with your hands. The extra moisture will make the dough sticky again, so be ready to add some extra flour as you knead it.


I wore latex gloves as I didn’t want to have scary hands for the school run!


Repeat the process for your remaining pieces of dough, using different colours and flavours.


Now have some fun squishing and squashing it! And try not to be too sad when it all gets mixed together and turns brown.