Fashion is everywhere

Clones N Clowns by Aimee Wood

Homemade English Cherry Mince Pies

Hello from Paris !!! This morning, I’m here to share a very traditional recipe with an extra special touch : more cherries ! Because I’ve always loved those bright pink cherries in mince pies and Christmas cake, so when I make homemade mince pies I just have to add an extra dose ! For those of you who don’t know, mince pies are a fruity tart traditionally made in the UK around Christmas. The surprising ingredient is the meat suet, but I swear you can’t taste it in the end! If you’re a vegetarian or just don’t like the sound of meat suet and fruit, try using vegetarian suet, it will taste great too. Come on, I don’t want any pulling faces, these tarts are a MASSIVE part of a successful Xmas in our home, and generally speaking they’re just so good, you have to try them. I wish I could make a huge batch and serve them out to you all right now…. But I can’t, so you’re going to have to give it a go at home ! MINCE PIES WITH EXTRA ADDED CHERRIES Ingrédients : – 225g apples, cored, peeled and cut up into small pieces – 110g meat or vegetarian suet – 400g raisins / currents / sultanas and other dried fruit – mix it up until you have a tasty looking 400g portion – 60g candied orange – 100g candied cherries (yum ! You’d usually probably only put 60-70g) – 175g dark sugar – Zest of an orange – Zest of a lemon – 2 soup spoons of mixed spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves…) – 3 soup spoons of brandy (I use cognac because that’s where I grew up in France!) – Pastry – I use store-bought. Step 1 : Prepare the mincemeat Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the brandy and candied fruit. Cover up with a cloth and leave over night in a cool place. Step 2 : Finish the mincemeat Put the mincemeat in the oven at 110° for 3 hours. According to Delia Smith, it will look like it’s “swimming in fat” when it comes out. Yum. Not. But don’t let this put you off. You’ll just need to mix it all up and leave it to cool, mixing from time to time until it’s cold and thickened and looking tasty. Now add the brandy and candied fruit. Your mincemeat is ready ! You can now store in sterelised jars until you’re ready to make mince pies ! Step 3 : Make those pies ! This part couldn’t be easier : cut out circles of pastry and place them in a greased cupcake tin. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pie… … And pop a bit of pastry on top ! Traditional mince pies have a proper pastry top but my family likes to add a cute little star rather than covering up the whole pie. Step 4 : Cook ’em Pre-heat your oven to 180° and cook for 20min or until the pastry is golden. Leave them to cool and serve sprinkled with icing sugar for a deliciously festive feast ! Mmmmmm, tradition ! Oh and one last thing…. Don’t forget to make a wish when you take that first bite 🙂 Go on, give it a go ! They’re great fun for family reunions ! xx Aimee-Claus  

Homemade English Cherry Mince Pies

DIY Advent Tree !

I’m officially counting the days until Christmas already, aren’t you ?! I just can’t wait for the family time, games and… let’s admit it – gifts (the giving AND the receiving heehee). And given I have NEVER made a homemade advent calendar, I figured now was the right time to give it a whirl ! My advent calendar is actually an advent tree with mini prezzies – one a day until the big day ! I decided to fill mine with samples of make-up, I had so many lying around and saw all the fancy make-up calendars designed by cosmetic brands this year – I thought the usual I can make that ! So here we are ! You will need : To make this homemade advent calendar, I first cut pieces of A4 paper into squares, by simply removing the extra rectangle. I then used number stamps and ink to decorate the paper before folding them into cubes and filling them with make-up samples – but you can hide whatever you like : chocolate, sweets, notes… Finally, I decorated some branches and popped them in a vase before hanging my parcels with wool. Step 1 : Stamp your paper from 1 to 25 – I know a lot of you will say an advent calendar only goes to 24, but I just love having one last surprise on Xmas day too ! I used a star stamp to add extra decoration too – you can make your paper festive however you like or even use pretty giftwrap for an easier option. Step 2 : When the ink is dry, fold your paper into two along the diagonal. Always keep the numbers on the right side out throughout the whole tutorial. Step 3 : Fold your triangle in half again. Step 4 : Open up your square completely and now fold it in half into a rectangle. Step 5 : Fold the rectangle in half to make a square. Step 6 : You now need to use the folds from steps 1 and 2 to make a triangle. Step 7 : Repeat on both sides. Step 8 : Take the outside corner and fold it in towards the top, lining the paper up in the middle. Step 9 : Repeat on all four corners. You will end up with a diamong shape. Step 10 : Fold the two side corners of your diamond inwards, to meet in the middle – not quite touching. Étape 11 : Turn your diamond over and repeat with the other two side corners. Step 12 : On one side of your shape, probably the top, you should be able to peel away the corners again. Find these and carefully slip them inside the corners bellow – as shown. Turn your diamond over and repeat – so you will have tucked away 4 corners in total. Step 13 : Crease the bottom of your shape as shown to prepare for the next step… Step 14 : Now BLOW inside the open end of your shape to blow up the cube ! Fun right ?! Now do that all again, 24 times 😉 It’s not as bad as it sounds at all, put a good film on or get the whole family to join in… Step 15 : Fill each cube with a surprise… My make-up samples worked a treat, but remember you can use whatever you like as long as it fits through that top hole !Step 16 : Now wrap all your prezzies with wool and have fun dotting them around your “tree” ! May the treasure hunt begin ! So – are you going to try it ?! If you are, what will be in your cubes ?! I can’t wait to start opening mine, I can’t even remember what day 1 is so it’s going to be a real surprise ! Love from PARIS ! xx Aimee  

DIY Advent Tree !

Xmas time at John Lewis !

Hi all ! A few weeks ago already, I was invited for a very special day out at the John Lewis Open House in Islington. I hope you had time to stop by because the venue was super cool and there were lots of things going on including awesome workshops. During the time I spent there, I got to meet some awesome crafty bloggers as well as customise some homeware – and we all know how beautiful John Lewis homeware is, so customising it was a challenge and little bit stressful ! It all turned out beautifully and I now have a lovely embroidered bed set as well as a very sophisticated cushion case ! Unfortunately I went and lost ALL the photos from the event which I’m more than upset about, but when I use the techniques I learnt on the blog I’ll definitely let you know that’s where they came from. Since then, John Lewis has moved on to Christmas and I’m sure you’ve all seen the adorable Christmas film with the bear who sees Xmas for the first time – bless ! I was particularly enchanted by the story when I found out how it was made ! Anyway, I was in John Lewis this morning on Oxford Street and it really got me in the mood for Christmas, the decorations are beautiful and people were clearly getting a bit of good ol’ Xmas shopping in before the mad rush in December starts. I thought I’d share some of the fun with you, so you can get in the mood too ! So here is a list of things I’m keeping in mind for when the time comes for me to do my own Christmas Shopping…   1 : A nut game !!! I’m not sure what the aim is, but it sure looks fun ! And nuts always seem so Christmassy to me, it’s probably the only time of the year I don’t buy pre-cracked – oops ! For sale here. 2 : A PROPER WREATH ! Because no matter how many you make yourself, they’re never going to have as many pretty little cones as this beauty. For sale here. 3 : A Monopoly and Cluedo Compendium – I think this is just awesome. But unfortunately nobody will play either of these games with me any more, I think I have over-played people over the past twenty-six years. For sale here. 4 : Le Creuset soup bowls. I mean AWWWWWW. I am officially collecting quality kitchen supplies and tools now, so Le Creuset all the way ! For sale here. 5 : A real-size reindeer ! Well not quite, but he’s big ! Unfortunately too big for my London flat but if you have a house for a home he’d be the perfect match ! For sale here. 6 : Heart-shaped cocktail sticks, ’cause you know I’m a sucker for hearts. For sale here. 7 : Vintage baubles – So glamourous ! For sale here. 8 : Cheese knives !!! You’re allowed as much cheese as you can eat at Xmas time so you might as well do it in style ! For sale here. 9 : Another Le Creuset dish for the collection, because it’s so easy when you can take your pie or bake straight out of the oven and serve it at the table. For sale here. Oh and if I were to choose a 10th item (because we can always dream!) I’d definitely go for one of these super realistic Christmas Trees, so much better than the cheap ones you see at markets – I love the ones with snow on their branches ! Anyway, I’m really pleased Clones N Clowns and John Lewis are in touch now, hopefully I will have lots of excited things to report about their great homeware in the upcoming months ! Happy Xmas shopping ! xx Aimee  

Xmas time at John Lewis !

DIY Rhinestone embellished sweatshirt

A few weeks ago, I held a DIY workshop in the Google offices in Paris, in partnership with Google themselves and a couple of French brands named Mim (clothing company) and La Mercerie Chic (super cool online haberdashery). We cusomised denim shirts, they looked awesome ! And because there were so many smiles around the table, we reaslied we had to keep collaborating in some shape or form – I mean, affordable clothes + DIY ideas = perfect wardrobe, right ?! And so here is the first tutorial of what should be a very fun collaboration between Clones N Clowns and Mim : a rhinestone embellished sweatshirt. And what’s more, the sweatshirt has a criss-cross finish, could this project get any more 2013?! To customise this sweatshirt, I found some pretty acrylic stones from New Trimmings on Noel Street, London. I also used accessory glue and a needle and thin nylon thread. Please note : so that you can sew your stones on, you want to make sure they have tiny holes on each side. Step 1 : I always practice my design before getting the glue out… And I make sure I take a picture on my phone when I’ve got what I want, just in case I inappropriately sneeze… I have gathered a few sweatshirt inspiration pins on a Rhinestone Embellished Sweatshirt Pinterst board, so you can use it for inspiration if you need it. Step 2 : Put a drop of glue behind each stone, picking them up one by one. Step 3 : And place them back on the sweatshirt, with light pressure to stick them down. Step 4 : When the glue is dry, secure your stones by sewing them in place with a needle and nylon thread. Nylon thread is great because you just can’t see it ! Make sure you get dark thread if you’re sewing onto a dark sweatshirt and fully transparent if you’re sewing on a lighter colour. There will be more pics and a fun gif on Mim’s blog a little later on in the day – I’ll link through when it’s up ! I’m wearing my sweatshirt from Mim with added rhinestones, a shirt from Esprit, Vero Moda jeans, a beanie from H&M and a Topshop pouch.   What do you think ?! I’m so pleased I have finally DIYed a rhintestone sweatshirt, I have been longing to ever since I saw this J Crew sweater and then this one on a blog…And you guys seemed pretty excited about the idea on Facebook too so I thought why not – and tadaaaa, I love it. Don’t you ?! Let me know if you have a go, I always love receiving your photos and feedback. Have a great weekend ! xx Aimee    

DIY Rhinestone embellished sweatshirt

Paper heart chain tutorial

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I have been subtly introducing the Xmas season… It still feels a little early and yet I bet you can’t help planning a few bits and bobs in the back of your mind already ! I know I have already been discussing dates with friends for a good ol’ Xmas dinner and have also started to think about what gifts to buy my loved ones… As well OF COURSE as planning awesome projects for Clones N Clowns ! Bring it on, Santa ! But because I know it can feel like Father Christmas keeps turning up earlier and earlier each year, I have decided to kick off with a few projects that either can be or don’t have to be Christmassy – it’s entirely up to you ! For as far as I can remember, paper chains have been a big part of our Winter. In fact, I believe one of my very first memories is making colourful paper chains at home in front of the fire, I used to love it when we got silver and gold kits as well as the usual bold shades. And then there were kits with pretty prints like snowflakes… Paper chains can be ever such a sophisticated and stylish activity 😉 Realising I had forgotten to make paper chains over the past few years, I thought I’d better get sticking to avoid losing the tradition. Instead of going for the ones you lick like stamps I decided to make my very own by cutting up pieces of paper of around 20cm X 3cm and stapling them together… Of course in the process I couldn’t help messing around and quickly the heart paper chain was born. These chains look cute over the holiday season but also just hanging around your home any time of the year if you’re a softie like me ! Here’s the tutorial : Step 1 : Take a strip of paper (20cm x 3cm) Step 2 : Fold it in half so that the colour is on the inside (if you wish for it to show on the outside of your hearts, if not, vis versa!). Stable on the fold. Step 3 : Pull both ends of the paper back to form a cute little heart. Hold in place before you staple at the end of the next step. Step 4 : Take another strip of paper folded in half and slide your heart into the V shape. Stable all of the paper together at the very bottom. And here is my brand new no-staples stapler ! It’s incredible, it just does a small hole and cleverly nips the paper together. What a genius idea ! Step 5 : Continue as before to make more hearts, making your chain as long as you want it. Warning : it’s addictive, your house will end up covered in hearts.  Easy, right ?! Now you know what to do with those old magazines lying around ! <3333333 from London ! xx Aimee

Paper heart chain tutorial

Hazelnut milk hot chocolate

If there’s one thing I thank Starbucks & co for, it’s showing the world there are other drinks than coffee. Hot chocolate, chai tea latte, mochas… I LOVE a good hot drink and at this time of the year it’s just what our tums and bums cold finger tips need ! And because I love all things homemade, I have been playing around with milks recently and stumbled upon hazelnut milk… And so my recipe begins. Hazelnut milk is a little different to soya milk or almond milk because it has quite a strong taste. Which, of course, is a bummer if you don’t link hazelnuts. But if you do, it’s a massive bonus. Especially when served with… CHOCOLATE. What else. To make this hot beverage : warm the hazelnut milk until it has tiny bubbles and then pour it in a glass and quickly stir in a teaspoon full of chocolate chips. I like this better than usuing hot chocolate powder because it’s more of a subtle dash of chocolate to go with the hazelnut, rather than reversing the recipe. You can of course add whipped cream on top for extra deliciousness or to take cute Instagram pics 😉 We all do it ! I actually usually make hot chocolate by simply melting chocolate chips in warm milk, it’s tastier to me, unless I’m using flavoured chocolate powder like this one. And what can I say, replacing normal milk with hazelnut milk is like upgrading to an early Christmas version <3 Talking about Xmas, is it time for decoration DIYs yet ?!! No ?!! Nearly ?!! OK then, come back tomorrow for something in between 😉 xx Aimee

Hazelnut milk hot chocolate

Would You #11 : Faux Fur Jacket

Ladies, today is a big day. After two years of living in London, I have finally become a Londoner. And no, not because I can now boast about being able to find Oxford St without a map. It’s because I have made a very “London-like” purchase : a fur jacket ! Seriously, who doesn’t wear fur here ? In the East that is, Western Londoners probably feel more at home with a Chanel purse (yes, huge generalisation going on there!). My brand new, polar bear jacket is from Topshop (where else ?!) and I truly love every hair of it. Not only because it’s warm and cuddly but also because it has the magic power to turn anything into a stylish outfit ! I could seriously pull it over my PJs and people would just think they were a fashion statement. I’m telling you, buy a faux fur coat, you’ll never need to make another effort again 😉 Although there are many types of faux fur out there, especially with coats like this being so super fashionable this season, it took me a while to make my mind up. I was definitely on the look out for a chic style and comfortable touch. This jacket caught my eye as soon as I went down the mile long escalators in the Oxford St flagship store and after a quick try, I’d found my perfect polar bear. Bonus : it’s SO WARM ! I just can’t take it off ! But I’m not sure weather to take it to Paris next time I go — as suggested earlier, this is definitely a London style, Parisians are currently sporting the fur trend in patches rather than in huge quantities. But then again, it has got something very elegant about it, almost Great Gatsby style ! Jacket, bag, jeans and black top : Topshop.  Jumper : Sheinside. Boots : ASH. So as you may have guessed, I’m saying a big fat YES to faux fur jackets and coats – but what about you…  WOULD YOU ?! xx Polar bear Aimee

Would You #11 : Faux Fur Jacket

Pear and salt caramel tarte tatin

After living in France for 13 years, sometimes I like to pretend I’m one of them… I take ownership of some of the most famous recipes, pretending they go down generations in my family… Good old apple pie with custard is probably closer to the truth. But never mind, I have had enough homemade tarte tatin in France for it to feel close enough. Tomorrow night we have French friends coming over so I thought I’d serve a French dessert – there’s no better ingredient than nostalgia ! But you know me… I couldn’t do things the traditional way allllll the way. There had to be a twist. And it’s a small twist. I have used pears instead of apples and salted caramel instead of the sweet sticky mix usually used in apple tarte tatin. The French are actually learning to love salty caramel although sweet and sour is not traditionnally they cup of tea. These days you can find more and more toffee and sweet good with a pinch of rustic salt in, so I’m guessing our friends will love these… I love how sophisticated individual tarts always look and I definitely don’t trust myself to cut a pie neatly enough tomorrow night ! So I made these tarte tatins in my cupcake moulds and I’m very pleased with the result. What do you think ?! Recipe for Tartes Tatin à la Poire et Caramel Beurre Salé (pear tarte tatins with salted caramel) : Ingredients (for 4 individual tarts) : – 30g butter – 1 TSP natural yogurt – 100g sugar – 1 TSP good quality salt – A sheet of pastry (not puff) – 4 pears, peeled and sliced into small pieces – A cupcake mould – A glass the right size for the pastry tops. Heat your oven at 180°C. First make your caramel by melting your suger in a pan and adding in the butter. Mix it together, add a good pinch of salt and the teaspoon of yogurt. The yog’ is my alternative to cream, I replace cream with organic yogurt in every sauce I make. It used to be a health thing but now I actually like it much better. When you have a smooth looking caramel, add in your pears. Mix it all up and leave to bubble away for 5 minutes or until the pears have softened. Press the pears to rid of excess caramel (but keep the caramel for serving) and put the pears into the cupcake mould. Press them down with the back of a wooden spoon. Cut out your circles of pastry and place them on top of your tarte tatins, tucking the pastry in around the sides. Bake for 25min. Meanwhile, you might like to decorate your plates with a brush and a drop of caramel… Leave your tarts to cool down before turning them out onto a rack or board. Serve with the tops of pears and with extra caramel… YUM ! Mouth watering ? Good ! Love from my Kitchen Aimee

Pear and salt caramel tarte tatin

9 ideas for organizing your books

Hello everyone, I’m here to talk about DIY home decorating today but I won’t be posting one of my own tutorials, instead I’d like to share 9 ideas from other bloggers. There are so many talented people out there, I like it when Clones N Clowns is a place to promote other people’s good work too ! Hopefully you will discover other projects of interest on their blogs too – have a good nose around, there are some terrific ideas out there. BOOKS. That’s what’s going on today. Because books can look like clutter in a small space… Don’t get me wrong. I love books ! I read books a lot although I haven’t finished a novel in years. I’m more of a theory bookworm. I read how to books and most of all cookbooks. I am a massive fan of any type of cookbook, from the dreamy baking guide to the old, dusty, grandma books you can find in thrift stores. I’d say I read pages of cookbooks on a daily basis – I’m truly passionate about the techniques, recipes and food photography. But then I leave them lying around… And they pile up… And so I stuff them all back on the bookshelf… And it just doesn’t look great. Because books of all sizes and shapes and colours and widths are like visual pollution ! So for a bit of extra organisation in your home, especially if you are renting and can’t allow yourself to paint walls or hammer in nails, here are 9 ideas of how you could use your books as decoration or simply make sure they don’t look so much like mess ! From left to right, top to bottom : 1 : Organise your books by colour ! Let’s start with a tip that has almost been over-used. Some people love it, other people hate it. I think it’s nice but wouldn’t organise my books in a rainbow style, I’d colour block and mix it all up. Source. 2 : Brick bookends : Store your books upright, in unsual places like at the end of a table or on a chest of drawers. You can use bricks to keep them in place and you can even paint your bricks to match your home. Source. 3 : Books on books on books… I love this idea. Use piled books to hold vertical books in place. Source. 4 : Plants : Whether you make your own cute plantpot bookends or just use heavy terracota pots, using plants as bookeneds is a nice touch and will definitely make your books look like decoration. Just make sure your plants are heavy enough or you’ll end up with soil all over the floor… ! Source. 5 : Boxes : Another well-known technique but such a handy one. You don’t need to buy expensive shelves or even make any, just pile up as many boxes as you need and store books and other bits and bobs for trendy organisation. Go for wooden boxes for a rustic look and try to keep the heaviest things at the bottom (i.e. your books !) to balance out the weight correctly. Source. 6 : A phone bookend : A retro and fun DIY to keep your books in place with style. Source. 7 : Windowsill : Why not simply stack books up on your windowsill, against the wall ? You can also use a vase of flowers or any other heavy ornament to make sure they stay put. You might actually recognize this photo from a project I did a few weeks ago… Source. 8 : Cover your books : Or simply cover their spine ! This is an easy way to make sure everything looks harmonious – a tip for the most organised and the esthetic-freaks (in a good way) out there ! Source. 9 : Ladder them : Oh how I love ladders… They’re amazing when you can attatch them to your wall but when you can’t they’re just as cool stood in a corner. I bought mine from ebay and it was originally a painter’s ladder so it’s naturally splattered with duck blue paint… LOVE IT ! Source unknown – sorrrrrry ! Right then – get tidying ! Which one will you go for ? I’m loving styles 3 and 9, I’ll show you my version on Instagram later on today ! xx Aimee PS – If you like the idea of decorating your space without damaging the walls etc, check out my list of 35 ways to decorate a rented home !

9 ideas for organizing your books

Inspiration of the day : Washi Tape wall art designs

Recently my creative energy has been making me a softie for home sweet home… Soft lights, pretty cushions and creative decoration to make my rented flat feel like it’s mine from floor to ceiling. I already showed you 35 ideas for decorating a rented home a while back, but today I thought I’d share some extra inspiration for those of you who like the idea of washi tape designs. I honestly thought I was over the whole masking tape craze but have noticed so many cool and arty designs recently – my masking tape phase is well and truly back ! This project from Magnolia Rouge is my all time favourite, I absolutely adore it. The first thing I said was I want that at my wedding… and that was before I found out it had been pinned from a wedding blog. There’s just something so perfectly dreamy about it. I have also made a whole Pinterest board full of creative ideas for decorating your walls with washi tape and colourful masking tape, check it out here – there are lots of different designs so there should be inspiration for everyone ! I also came across this article recently – I am in love with the play on reality here. Talent ! So there you go, plenty of inspiration ! Now I just have to decide what I’m going to do to that huge white wall in my home… I can’t believe it has survived this long !To be continued… Meanwhile, check out my washi inspiration on Pinterest and get pinning your favourite pics ! Aimee

Inspiration of the day : Washi Tape wall art designs